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Encounter Card Set Review: Journey Along the Anduin

by on March 28, 2013

Hop onboard a raft and cling on for dear life, it’s time to navigate another edition of TftC’s Encounter Card Set Reviews, Journey Along the Anduin style! Make sure you have your resources stocked and your heroes ready, the first few rows of the audience today may get soaked…or possibly horribly mutilated by a goblin from the Misty Mountains. I should warn you that this is a very small set, so this will be a bite-sized installment, but the good news is that we are almost done with the Core Set reviews, which means moving on to more meaty fare!

Quests Included In:

Journey Along the Anduin

Hunt for Gollum

Conflict at the Carrock

Card Breakdown (9 cards total):

3x Misty Mountain Goblins

1x Massing at the Night

2x Banks of the Anduin

3x Gladden Fields


Statistical Breakdown:

Locations: 56%

Enemies: 33%journeyalongtheanduin

Treacheries: 11%

Cards With Shadow Effects: 44%

Average Threat of All Cards (Treacheries count as 0): 1.9

Average Threat of Enemies and Locations: 2.1

Average Attack Value of Enemies: 2.0

Average Defense Value of Enemies: 1.0

Average Hit Points of Enemies: 3.0

Average Quest Progress of Locations: 3.0

Set Description:

Overall, this set represents locations and enemies found in the general area of the Anduin and the Misty Mountains. The really nasty enemies (like the Hill Troll) that you might associate with the Journey Along the Anduin quest are actually found in other encounter sets. All in all, I have to spoil the party a bit and announce right off the bat that this is a cakewalk of a set. In fact, in terms of water travel, this is more of a gentle drifting through a hotel resort pool than a harrowing life-or-death ride down some raging rapids. I’m exaggerating a teeny bit, but compared to some of the more recent sets we’ve looked at, like the Spiders of Mirkwood and Wilderlands sets, this one will have you breathing a sigh of relief. With only one enemy type and a single treachery card, this set is fairly location-heavy. Of those two locations, one is that rare encounter card that you actually want to see, while the other is probably the worst card of this set.

Individual Card Breakdown:

ENEMIES

* Misty Mountain Goblins (2 threat, 2 attack, 1 defense, 3 hit points): A fairly average goblin and enemy, this card is the equivalent of one of those faceless orcs that got massacred en masse in the escape scene of the recent Hobbit movie. At 2 threat, you probably don’t want him sitting around in the staging area, and misty mountain goblinswith some fairly weak combat stats, you probably won’t mind inviting him down anyway. Even if you do want these goblins to stay away from you for some reason, at a low, low engagement cost of 15, they’re likely coming to dinner whether you put them on the guest list or not. Once they’re engaged with you, their 2 attack means that you certainly can’t take them for granted, at least not as much as you would with a 1-attack enemy. On the other hand, they are short of that 3 attack threshold that really makes an enemy threatening. In terms of killing these goblins, 1 defense and 3 hit points means that it takes 4 damage to kill them, which is a bit more than the 2 or 3 damage needed to kill many other orcs, but still this is not a tough ask of most decks, unless you are running a very combat-lite build. The forced effect of the Misty Mountain Goblins is probably the most annoying aspect of this enemy, as every time they attack, 1 progress has to be removed from the quest (note that this always is taken from the quest, not the active location). If you keep this enemy around too long, they can prove to be a drag on quest progress, and there are certain situations when this can actually put a game in jeopardy, but you are probably already struggling pretty badly if this is the case. In the grand scheme of enemies, this one won’t haunt your nightmares (maybe fiercely tickling you at worst).

LOCATIONS

* Banks of the Anduin (1 threat, 3 progress): As I mentioned before, out of the two locations in this set, one is actually beneficial and the other is dreadful. Banks of the Anduin is definitely the former. At a low threat of 1, you will be happy to see this location flip off the encounter deck compared to almost any other card you could draw. On top of that, there are no harmful “when revealed” or travel effects to worry about. The Banks do have a forced effect, which is that when it is explored it gets put back on top of the encounter deck. When I first opened up my very first Core Set and saw this card, I scratched my head and said, “Well, that sucks. Why do I want to explore something I already cleared?”. After a few games of getting smashed on by Hill Trolls and caught in so many webs that I couldn’t breathe, I soon learned to love this location’s resurrection effect. Once it gets put back on top of the deck, you will not only have the benefit of knowing what the next card of will be (including knowing that it has no shadow effect for combat purposes), but if you can avoid any attacks by an enemy, then it will be coming off the encounter deck next turn. And, as we just discussed, you want this lightweight location to be sitting there and not anything that will actually harm you. Long story short, the Banks of Anduin are on my Christmas card list.

* Gladden Fields (3 threat, 3 progress): On the other hand, the Gladden Fields are only getting lumps of coal and old copies of the Atari E.T. game for the holidays. This location can be painful for two reasons. One is that it has a high threat of 3, which could throw a wrench in your questing plans. Second, the gladden fieldsforced effect is dangerous, causing you to raise your threat by 2 instead of 1 at the end of each round while it is the active location. This effect will make you want to keep the Gladden Fields in the staging area, but its high threat will make this an undesirable proposition, so you will be stuck in a quandary. You can try to clear it out while in the staging area with cards like Asfaloth, Northern Tracker, The Riddermark’s Finest, Snowbourn Scout, and Ride to Ruin. Alternatively, you can use some of those effects while it is the active location to get rid of it before the end of the round and the extra threat occurs. With only 3 progress required, this is actually not too tall of an order, but it all depends on what kind of deck(s) you are running and if you’ve included location control. One positive aspect of the Gladden Fields is that since they provide 3 victory points, they will head off to the victory display when cleared, and not return to cause more trouble. However, with 3 copies in the set, they will pop up often enough anyway (with no shadow effect, the best situation is if they come up as shadow cards). Before I finish here, I want to point out the great lore behind this location, as the Gladden Fields are where Isildur was ambushed by orcs and lost the One Ring, and also where Deagol found it and was killed by Smeagol. As such, the theme of the card is great, as this a place of ill luck and those bad vibes seem to linger, bringing extra threat and danger to those who stick around.

TREACHERIES

* Massing at the Night: Are we really at the last card already? Massing at the Night is honestly kind of a forgettable card, mostly because there is only 1 copy and so often you can go entire quests without seeing it emerge. In terms of power, however, this card can range from absolutely meaningless to game-ending, and it all depends on how many players are in the game. The effect of this treachery is to cause the player(s) to draw an additional X cards, with X being equal to the number of the players in the game. So if you are playing pure solo, you discard this card and draw 1 card, basically amounting to a net effect of nothing (it would be like if the card just said “surge” and nothing else). On the other hand, in a 4-player game, this card would force you to draw an additional 4 cards! This would mean instead of drawing 4 cards during staging, you would be drawing the equivalent of 7. Fortunately, there is only 1 copy of this card, so it can’t multiply itself, but if you do happen to draw other “surges”, things can spiral even more out of control. Needless to say, in 3 or 4 player games, Massing at the Night can completely reverse the tide of a game and turn victory to defeat if it comes up at the wrong moment. Therefore, if you are playing solo or even 2-player, don’t worry too much about this card. However, with more players, saving A Test of Will or Eleanor for a poorly timed draw of this card is probably a good idea.

Shadow Analysis:

The only cards that have shadow effects in this set are Misty Mountain Goblins and Massing at the Night. Like this set itself, these effects tend toward the painless.

The shadow effect on the Misty Mountain Goblins causes you to remove 1 progress from the quest (3 if undefended). As with all such progress removal effects, how much this matters really depends on where you’re at in a quest, the state of the overall balance of willpower vs. threat in the staging area, and a few other variables. Still, the majority of the times I’ve drawn this as a shadow effect, I was happy that I didn’t draw something far worse. The 3 progress tokens removed if the attack is undefended could be potentially more worrisome, but I still maintain that this shadow effect is generally not too much cause for concern.

The Massing at the Night shadow effect is very similar to its normal “when revealed” effect, but in this case it causes you to draw an extra X shadow cards for the attacking enemy (X again being the number of players in the game). Obviously, the more players there are, the larger an impact this effect has. More importantly, you may be terrified or barely breaking a sweat depending on which character is defending. If your chump blocker is on the line, a few extra shadows won’t bother you too much, however if your hero who is close to death is risking his or her neck, then this shadow chain could definitely induce some anxiety. However, keep in mind that even with chump blockers, extra shadows can do harm beyond just attack-boosting, so this card maybe be worth a cancel if you can spare the needed cards/resources.

Final Verdict:

Journey Along the Anduin is admittedly a rather forgettable set. By far, the greatest threat is the Gladden Fields, as well as Massing at the Night (for a 3 or 4-player game).  There aren’t any particular approaches I would recommend if facing the Journey Along the Anduin set, other than to include some location management effects to deal with the Gladden Fields, especially if you are not entirely confident of your ability to muster large amounts of willpower consistently to clear it out more conventionally. Aside from that advice, I look forward to attacking the (hopefully more eventful) Passage Through Mirkwood set next!

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8 Comments
  1. Glaurung permalink

    To be honest when i play i always remove Banks of Anduin from encounter deck cose this is really week and stupid card in my opinion. Now when i have a nightmare cards i also replace Misty Mountain goblins with some nightmare cards (depend which quest i play). Now Carrock is really rock with nightmare cards you can make it much more difficulty and interesting.

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      Well, it’s pretty much a player card in the disguise of an encounter card, since we got Watchful Peace recently, which is basically the same effect!

  2. Weltenreiter permalink

    Banks of the Anduin is probably my favorite encounter card, not so much because it is easy/helpful, but because if you remove it so that it doesn’t get shadowed (Legolas, Spirit trackers, ie likely to happen with early-pool constructions), its frequent reoccuring represents a longish river ride really well. Great thematic card.

    • Glaurung permalink

      Yes probably as a thematic card is great but still…….. i dont like any cards where is no challenge…..

  3. I have had plenty of fun trying to make odd things work in this game. I know I can beat every scenario 2 player & single player with the top decks. I like try to express myself using oddities like secrecy or mono lore decks. The journey along the Anduin is my baseline challenge for this so I like to have some soft spots for my clunky decks to get by with. I am not competing against other people so I can choose a scenario that feels challenging for whatever deck I am trying out.

  4. dimile permalink

    I can’t stand the Hill Troll. What really frustrates me is the appearance of a second one while I am about or try to finish the first one..

  5. sweetnesswhachacha permalink

    I’ve been reading all your articles in order as I play through the packs in order. I’ve enjoyed them thank you!

    However these articles I’ve just skimmed, they are packed with good info (I like the graphs) and can really help with understanding just what is needed to beat a quest, but there is one thing I find funny.

    After playing through the mirkwood cycle over 70 plus games I’M TOTALLY SICK OF THE SET! Haha, it’s great fun but I’m so burnt out on these treacherous and enemies. I doubt I’ll feel the same way when you do the Dwarrodelf cycle, because those sets seem to be better put together and make more sense to me, but I’ve played an awful lot of them too, so maybe these are better to come back to we’ll after wringing all the fun out of the quests!

    Keep up the good work, thanks!

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