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Recreation Challenge: Ducking A Nazgul

by on March 22, 2013

hiding from ringwraith

In this new Friday segment, which I’m dubbing Recreation Challenges, I’ll grab a memorable scene from the books (as well as the movies) and try to provide some ideas of how to recreate it in the game. This will serve as a challenge for those players who are looking for something new or fun to try (or simply to read about). The first half of the Fellowship of the Ring is largely dominated by the cat-and-mouse game between Frodo and his companions and the Nazgul who are relentlessly hunting for the Ring. Several times before Frodo can even leave the Shire, he is forced to hide, and barely escapes with his life. Here is how one such scene is described in the book:

“Round the corner came a black horse, no hobbit-pony but a full-sized horse; and on it sat a large man, who seemed to crouch in the saddle, wrapped in a great black cloak and hood, so that only his boots in the high stirrups showed below; his face was shadowed and invisible. When it reached the tree and was level with Frodo the horse stopped. The riding figure sat quite still with its head bowed, as if listening. From inside the hood came a noise as of someone sniffing to catch an elusive scent; the head turned from side to side of the road.”

Of course, the depiction in the film version of Fellowship of the Hobbits cowering in fear as the Black Rider sniffs out the Ring is one of the most iconic images from the movies (see the picture above).

Ok, so how can players recreate the thrills and chills of successfully hiding from a Ringwraith? Obviously, the first requirement is that you play one of the existing quests that includes a Nazgul enemy, which currently narrows the choices to The Massing at Osgiliath and M1443Escape from Dol Guldur. Once you reach the stage where the Nazgul engages with you (stage 4B in Massing, stage 2B in Escape when the prisoner is rescued), then you are in business. Remember your goal is not to slay it or try to fight it, instead like Frodo and his companions you will be ducking for cover and seeking to avoid the Nazgul altogether. What cards allow you to do this?

One is the very thematically appropriate Out of Sight, which has artwork that depicts a Hobbit (likely Frodo) hiding behind a tree from a Black Rider. This Spirit event prevents all enemies engaged with a player from attacking that player for one phase. In this way, it is essentially a Sprit version of Thicket of Spears (although it doesn’t require mono-sphere). It is a ridiculously expensive card at a cost of 5 resources, but if you are below the secrecy threshold, it only costs 2. However much you end up paying, once a Nazgul engages with you, the first step to this Recreation Challenge is to play Out of Sight to prevent it from attacking you. This simulates your heroes hiding behind whatever is available in order to avoid being spotted and attacked.

The second related card is O Elbereth! Gilthonial! This is also a Spirit event, with the following effect:

Response: After an enemy attacks you, put that enemy on the bottom of the
encounter deck. If your threat is lower than that enemy’s engagement cost, set
your threat equal to the engagement cost of that enemy.

Essentially, O Elbereth! Gilthonial! allows you to move an enemy out of play by putting it at the bottom of the encounter deck, at the high cost of 4 resources (if you are benefitting from the secrecy discount, it is free). Thematically, this represents the aversion of the Nazgul to the utterance of the words Elbereth and Gilthonial, which are names for Varda, the “queen of the stars” and one of the ValarM1494 (angelic beings/demi-gods). More abstractly, this event simulates the scaring away of an enemy through divine providence or some other distraction. Therefore, after hiding from your foe through Out of Sight, the second step to ducking the Nazgul is to play O Elbereth! Gilthonial! which will put it on the bottom of the encounter deck. Both scenarios and the enemies themselves do not prohibit such a move, and, in the case of Escape from Dol Guldur, this will actually allow you to complete the quest since removing the Nazgul from play is one of the preconditions for victory. However, note that the second clause of the card may cause you to raise your threat, all the way up to 40 for both enemies if you are below that level when you play this event.

With the Nazgul successfully eluded and your escape complete, now you just have to beat the quest! Have fun attempting this challenge, and I would say that if you want the full thematic enjoyment and an extra level of difficulty, then you should probably play a secrecy deck (which will also help with paying for the cards as well), and running Spirit is obviously necessary. Bonus points for any who pull this off with Frodo as one of your heroes!

Just for fun, here’s a scoring guide to this challenge:

1 point for playing Out of Sight to nullify a Nazgul attack (2 points if you play it while in secrecy)

1 point for playing O Elbereth! Gilthonial! to get rid of the Nazgul (2 points if you play it while in secrecy)

1 point if you have Frodo in your party

1 bonus point if you play Strider’s Path sometime after the Nazgul is gone (to try to copy Aragorn’s attempt to lose the pursuit after Bree)




One Comment
  1. This will get a lot easier in Fall 2013 with The Black Riders sage expansion!

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