“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, cherry-pick them based on their 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 questions in my Path Less Traveled series by playing newer quests as if I were starting out fresh, with nothing but a single Core Set and a modern expansion.
Paths I’ve traveled so far
The Takeaway: Three good quests with a solid set of player cards (as long as you like Dwarves) make this an excellent choice for a second expansion.
The Black Riders
The Takeaway: My personal favorite when playing out of order! Moderate-to-high difficulty curve with powerful and versatile player cards.
The Road Darkens
- Player Card Analysis
- The Ring Goes South (Standalone)
- The Ring Goes South (Campaign)
- Journey in the Dark
- The Breaking of the Fellowship
The Takeaway: There aren’t many player cards, sadly, but the quests are fun (if difficult). A passable expansion on its own, but an excellent follow-up to The Black Riders.
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 combos. The difficulty curve is fine, but the player cards and quests can both create complex board states, especially for new players.
The Sands of Harad
The Takeaway: The quests are excellent with just the Core Set, but the player cards require a bigger card pool to use effectively. Skip until you have more cards.
The Wilds of Rhovanion
The Takeaway: A fun and well-balanced box with powerful player cards, but the quests and player cards both require a nuanced understanding of the rules to play correctly.
The Ered Mithrin Cycle
Should I buy a second Core Set?
This is a common question for new players. 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, making them essentially useless.
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 dice as extra tokens, and 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.