“I just got the Core Set, and I loved it. What should I buy next?”
Great question! Many of us played through the game in order of release, and we had a blast doing it. That’s always a solid option.
Unfortunately, due to the amount of time between print runs, it can sometimes be impractical to buy expansions in order. New players often find themselves wanting to buy expansions based on current availability, or even to cherry-pick them based on their own personal preferences.
What would make a good second purchase after the Core Set? Are modern quests too hard with a small card pool?
I answer these sorts of questions in my Path Less Traveled series by playing some of the newer quests as if I were starting out fresh, with nothing but a single Core Set and a modern expansion.
You can read more about the structure and purpose of the series here.
Paths I’ve traveled so far
Hint: Is the expansion you’re looking for currently out of stock? Check the FFG Upcoming Products page to see if it’s coming back soon.
Khazad-dûm [In progress]
The Black Riders
The Takeaway: My #1 recommendation so far for players playing out of order. Moderate difficulty curve, with powerful and versatile player cards.
The Lost Realm
The Takeaway: Great for players looking for a big challenge, but most players will want to purchase more expansions before taking these quests on.
The Grey Havens
The Takeaway: Great for players who enjoy nuance and combos. The difficulty curve is fine, but the player cards and quests can both be complex, especially for new players.
The Sands of Harad
The Takeaway: The quests are excellent and playable with just the Core Set, but the player cards require a bigger card pool to use effectively. Skip until you have more cards.
Side quest: Should I buy a second Core Set?
This is a common question for new players. It’s true that the Core Set is the only pack that doesn’t contain 3 copies of each player card, so many people opt to purchase a second (or even third!) to fill out their collection. But over half the cards in your second Core Set are encounter cards, meaning that they’re essentially wasted. And you’re not likely to get good use out of all of the extra player cards, either—after all, who needs four copies of Power in the Earth?
Ultimately, it boils down to this: Are you planning on playing regularly with three or four players from a single collection? If so, it might be worth it to buy a second Core Set to get the extra threat dials and expanded token pools, as well as the extra copies of staple cards like Gandalf and A Test of Will. It depends on how much it would bother you to track threat on paper, use pennies or buttons as extra tokens, or use proxies in some decks.
But if you’re primarily planning on playing solo or two player, your money is better spent elsewhere. Get yourself an expansion where you’ll be able to use 100% of the cards you’re paying for, and consider picking up a second Core Set only when you’ve run out of other things to buy.