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Campaign Mode: The Ring Goes South (Part 1)

ring goes south

It’s been almost a year since I signed off on my official TftC Campaign Mode playthrough. The one downside of the current pattern of Saga releases is that some of the momentum of a campaign is lost due to the mere passage of time between each expansion. Still, while some argue that waiting to embark upon a campaign until all the Saga expansions are released is the best policy, I personally remain committed to playing each part of the campaign as it is released. For one, I’m just too excited to continue the story, and Campaign Mode is one of my favorite innovations for this game ever, so there’s no way I’ll be waiting several years to play the game in this way. Second, I like the idea of being surprised by each installment of the campaign, not knowing if my hero choices or burden/boon resolutions will come back to bite me in the end. Therefore, after playing the scenarios in The Road Darkens with a few different decks, it’s now time to pick up the two decks that I used to complete The Black Riders portion of the campaign and continue the journey. For those who followed the original series of articles, you probably remember that I divided each quest into three parts: part 1 covering strategy, part 2 outlining any deck changes, and part 3 diving into the actual session report. This time around, I plan on condensing part 1 and part 2 into a single article, as in-depth strategy for these scenarios is probably not essential for readers, and any deck changes will not be too major as we go along to necessitate their own piece. Thus, each quest will be divided into 2 articles. Part 1 of The Ring Goes South will thus briefly cover strategy before revealing how my decks have changed since a year ago.

For those who didn’t follow the original articles in this series, you can catch up on them here under the “Saga Campaign Mode” heading. It’s not essential to read them all to understand The Road Darkens articles, but it surely can’t hurt to get the complete picture! To summarize briefly, last time around I used a pair of decks against The Black Riders. Deck One used Leadership Aragorn, Spirit Glorfindel, and Eowyn and placed a heavy emphasis on willpower and questing. Of course, Aragorn and Glorfindel are no slouches when it comes to combat so the deck was fairly well-balanced overall. While I do like to include as many thematic elements as possible when playing the Saga quests, I also am not necessarily tied to the theme completely, as I will often include more pragmatic elements if I think this gives me a chance at victory, with Eowyn being a great example. Deck Two was a slightly more cohesive and thematic build, centering around the new Hobbit heroes introduced in The Black Riders, specifically Lore Pippin, Sam, and Merry. In many ways, it was very similar to the Sting Like A Bee deck I spotlighted fairly recently, although this was an earlier version of that deck type. Deck Two could contribute to questing adequately, but actually was mostly designed to handle a great deal of combat, and it did so with aplomb, dispatching countless Nazgul before all was said and done. Ultimately, I was able to complete all three quests without losing a single hero, although I did gain the burdens Eaten Alive and Weight of the Ring from the Flight to the Ford scenario, along with Gandalf’s Delay from Shadow of the Past. On the other hand, Glorfindel got his hands on the Valiant Warrior boon, while Sam became a Skilled Healer. I also ended up choosing Mr. Underhill as my boon from Shadow of the Past. It now remains to be seen how this balance of boons and burdens will affect my adventure through The Road Darkens.
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The Road Darkens: Events Review

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The review of The Road Darkens player cards comes to a close as we take a look at the events in this expansion. There is actually only a single event included, and it happens to be the final element of the emerging Gandalf hero deck. While there may not be a ton of events to discuss, we can spend some quality time with the Flame of Anor, as we determine whether it lives up to the headline spot.
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Deck Spotlight: Heroes of Pelennor Fields

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Anyone who has read The Lord of the Rings or seen the films has dreamed of recreating the epic heroics of the Battle of Pelennor Fields, from Legolas and Gimli competing to see who could deal the most damage to the Enemy to Eowyn standing face-to-face with the Witch King and coming out on top (I know the kill competition actually only took place at Helm’s Deep in the books, but bear with me here!). When LOTR LCG was first released, and I found out Legolas and Gimli were part of the Core Set, I immediately wanted to place them side-by-side so that I could implement their little game of one-upmanship into the experience. Unfortunately, using that pair together never quite worked for me, especially in solo play, but all that has changed with the larger card pool we now have to work with, and it is indeed possible to play out your own version of that friendly rivalry. Read on and before you know it, you’ll be shouting, “That still only counts as one!”
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The Road Darkens: Attachments Review

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The Road Darkens is packed full of attachments. Most of these, though, are special Boon attachments that can only be used in Campaign Mode, which does make me thrilled at the prospect of continuing the epic two-handed Campaign that I began seemingly ages ago (look for the first installment of the continuing adventure soon!), but also a bit sad that there are only three “real” attachments in the box, one of which is also Saga-specific, since it is part of the Fellowship sphere. Both of the remaining attachments are pretty much tied at the hip to Gandalf, which means that if you are not at all interested in using hero Gandalf, The Road Darkens doesn’t give you much in the attachment department, and attachments tend to be the most powerful card type in the game. Still, if you are even slightly interested in giving hero Gandalf a spin, you’ll want to pay close attention to both the Wizard Pipe and Gandalf’s Staff.
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The Road Darkens: Allies Review

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Much of the attention around The Road Darkens has understandably focused on the amazing new Gandalf hero, as well as the other cards in the box that serve as “Gandalf’s toys”. However, as difficult as it is to believe, there are indeed other cards and characters to be found in this latest Saga Expansion, and they actually represent some of the most important characters in The Lord of the Rings story. From two of the Wise to a mighty warrior to the O.H. (Original Hobbit), these are key figures that helped to shape the destiny of Middle-earth and can similarly help to shape your success and failure in the game. In this latest TftC review, we will give these notable personages their proper due, and examine their impact on the greater card pool.
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Lost in the Fog: LOTR LCG Fellowship Event 2014 Report

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After several seasons of focusing organized play for The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game exclusively around Nightmare quests, Fantasy Flight Games decided to change it up a bit by creating a special Fellowship event centered around a brand new quest, Fog on the Barrow-Downs. We’ve seen scenarios created for special events at the past four instances of Gen Con, but this is the first time we’ve seen a quest created just for a special event outside of Gen Con. While The Old Forest event was unveiled at Gen Con this past August, the Fellowship 2014 event, held this past weekend, October 10-12, at stores around the country and the world, continued the story with a trip through the Barrow Downs. Both of these quests can be integrated into the Campaign Mode introduced by The Black Riders, and it’s great to see the designers fill in the gaps of the story found in The Lord of the Rings and usually left out of game portrayals. Fortunately, my local game store, Games of Berkeley, was able to participate in the event, and 7 of us gathered to take on fierce wights in the chill fog of the Barrow Downs. I thought I’d share some of my experiences from the event, as well as some of the specific cards that make up the scenario. Warning: If you want to go into the quest with no knowledge of the quest, turn from the path now!
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TftC Mailbag: Deck Building #7

bilbo mail

In last week’s mailbag, I helped a reader construct a deck from a limited card pool that could be successful against The Black Riders campaign. However, that same reader also had asked about deck building assistance for Siege of Cair Andros as well. There are varying schools of thought when it comes to building a deck for one specific scenario. Some prefer to build decks that can take on as broad an array of scenarios as possible, while others prefer the subtle tinkering and tweaking of decks to meet the specific needs of each quest. As with many areas of the game, I tend to be an “all of the above” type of player, in that I both build decks that are designed to tackle anything that might come my way and decks that focus in on one scenario in particular. While some players might dislike the idea of building with only one quest in mind, I actually find this kind of challenge an intriguing puzzle that helps to keep the game fresh. With a more limited card pool, I also find the need to deck build for specific quests even more pressing, at least for the more difficult ones, as trying to fashion a “one deck to rule them all” is understandably a bit more challenging with fewer cards available. I have found that this has become even more true from the Heirs of Numenor expansion/Against the Shadow cycle onwards, where quests have become increasingly demanding of a specific focus. This is best exemplified by the battle/siege mechanic, but is by no means restricted to it.

With that in mind, I took on the challenge of unlocking the Siege of Cair Andros with a limited card pool. As a reminder, the original message from the reader was as follows:
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