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Campaign Mode: Flight to the Ford (Part 3)

by on November 22, 2013

At the Ford, by Ted Nasmith

The Campaign Mode series of articles has reached its thrilling conclusion. That’s right, I’ve reached the end of The Black Riders scenarios, and it’s time to see if Frodo, Aragorn, and the rest of our intrepid heroes can finish what they started in The Shire. I’ve outlined detailed quest strategies, tweaked my decks, and now all that’s left is to play the actual adventure. Can I bring Frodo to the safety of Rivendell before he fades into the spectral realm forever? Read on to find out!

Part 3 – Session Report

The Nazgul are certainly relentless in their pursuit of the Ring. The four Hobbits (Sam, Merry, Pippin and Frodo), united with Aragorn, Glorfindel, and Eowyn, hoped to find a brief respite in Bree. Instead, the presence of the Ring was betrayed by Bill Ferny and the Riders boldly launched an attack, with the invaluable aid of treacherous Men whose loyalty had been won through lies, fear, and manipulation. However, Frodo and those protecting him proved to be made of stronger stuff than the servants of Mordor anticipated, and unexpected aid came in the form of Beorn himself, or perhaps some descendant of the same race. When the dust cleared, the Ring had been successfully escorted out of Bree. Here, Aragorn, son of Arathorn, proved his quality once more, using his knowledge of the wild regions of the North to lose the pursuit. However, the Nazgul, led by the Witch-king himself, patiently waited to spring their trap at Weathertop. The Nine were defeated, at least temporarily, but the safety of the Ring had been bought at great cost. Barliman Butterbur and Gildor Inglorion valiantly sacrificed their lives for the good of Middle-earth, while Frodo himself was grievously wounded by a Morgul blade. Now the fate of all the Free Peoples lies on the edge of a knife, and the only hope remaining is that the Ringbearer can be brought to the healing hands of Elrond at Rivendell.

Set-up

As with the other Black Riders scenarios, this quest prioritizes a consistent challenge and story over last bridgethe dice rolling of a random start. In general, I prefer this approach, as it rewards strategy rather than luck. The scenario begins with The Last Bridge in the staging area, which must be cleared to advance to the second stage. Each player must also place one Fell Rider in the staging area as well. With two enemies on the board from the beginning, both of which encourage quick engagement, this scenario practically demands a brisk pace. A burden deck of five cards is shuffled separately from the encounter deck. Not only do these cards serve as additional dangers for this scenario, they also threaten to become permanent for the rest of the campaign if they are shuffled into the encounter deck. Finally, a threat counter is set at 15, which represents Frodo’s life. If this reaches 0, Frodo dies and the game is over.

* Note: Anytime during combat that I don’t mention the shadow card, it means that there was no effect.

DECK ONE (Starting Threat – 26)

Heroes: Eowyn, Glorfindel, Aragorn

Starting Hand: Elrond’s Counsel, Silvan Refugee, Dwarven Tomb, Gandalf, Faramir (1 fewer card drawn due to Gandalf’s Delay)

Mulligan: Steward of Gondor, Unexpected Courage, Gandalf, Faramir, Faramir

Thoughts: My opening hand is decent, with some early threat reduction, a cheap questing character, and a couple of powerful allies. However, I’m missing some of the important attachments that make this deck hum (Steward of Gondor, Light of Valinor, etc.). Therefore, I will take a mulligan. My second hand is definitely an improvement, with both Steward of Gondor and Unexpected Courage making an appearance. However, I’m not happy that I don’t have any cheap questing allies available to give me some traction in the opening rounds during a quest that demands heavy doses of willpower. However, Faramir and Gandalf will certainly have a part to play later. I would have liked to draw at least 1 copy of A Test of Will, but I’ll have to make do with what I have.

DECK TWO (Starting Threat – 20)

Heroes: Merry, Sam, Pippin

Starting Hand: Fast Hitch, Sneak Attack, Gandalf, Defender of Rammas, Bill the Pony (1 fewer card drawn due to Gandalf’s Delay)

Thoughts: This is a passable hand with a few important cards. I could quite justifiably take a mulligan, but I’m afraid that I’ll draw something worse on my second try. Here, at least I have Fast Hitch, which is one of the key attachments in this deck, along with the always useful Sneak Attack/Gandalf combination. Bill the Pony can be played for free, which might help me in the early game by serving as a chump blocker. I don’t have Dagger of Westernesse, Elf-stone, or Hobbit Cloak, but I’m confident that I can draw those eventually with the card draw that’s in this deck.

Encounter Deck Set-up

1) The Last Bridge (x threat – based on number of players, 4 quest points, 3 victory points)

2) 2 Fell Riders (30 engagement cost, 2 threat, 4 attack, 3 defense, 6 hit points)

3) Boons: Skilled Healer on Sam, Valiant Warrior on Glorfindel, Mr. Underhill

4) BurdensGandalf’s Delay in the staging area

Thoughts: The Last Bridge will have to be carefully managed. I need to clear this location to advance, but it has a particularly nasty travel effect: the first player must reveal the top card of the burden deck and resolve it as if it were revealed from the encounter deck. Since all the burden cards have surge, this translates to revealing an additional two encounter cards (at least) just to travel to this location. I will aim to engage the Fell Riders as quickly as possible, as they take away from Frodo’s life when the first player refuses to engage them, but I will also look to build up my decks’ combat capabilities first.

ROUND 1 (6 threat in staging area, 0/15 progress on 1B, 0 victory points, Frodo’s Life – 15/15, Active Location – None)

**Staging Area – The Last Bridge, Fell Rider, Fell Rider**

DECK ONE PREPARATION (First Player) – 26 Threat

Resources: Eowyn – 1, Glorfindel – 1, Aragorn – 1, Frodo – 1

Draw: Dunedain Watcher

New Hand: Steward of Gondor, Unexpected Courage, Gandalf, Faramir, Faramir, Dunedain Watcher

Planning: The Dunedain Watcher is a decent ally to draw, as she provides shadow cancellation, which can be crucial for this quest. However, she’s too expensive to play now, and I’m saving Aragorn’s resources to pay for Steward of Gondor next turn. My only real play here is Unexpected Courage, which I will attach to Aragorn. The Hobbits have their own readying through Fast Hitch, Glorfindel has his through Light of Valinor, while Eowyn doesn’t really need any such effects. Although Aragorn has in-built readying, he has such strong stats that Unexpected Courage is not wasted on him.

Resources After Planning: Eowyn – 0, Glorfindel – 0, Aragorn – 1, Frodo – 1

Aragorn is grim when he sees Frodo’s wound and the blade that inflicted it, but he maintains his composure better than anyone else in the company. With determination and unshakable courage, he shakes off his wounds and fears and leads everyone away from Weathertop. He hopes to find the quickest path to Rivendell, holding onto belief that they can outrun the Nazgul.

DECK TWO PREPARATION – 20 Threat

Resources: Merry – 1, Sam – 1, Pippin – 1

Draw: Defender of Rammas

New Hand: Fast Hitch, Sneak Attack, Gandalf, Defender of Rammas, Bill the Pony, Defender of Rammas

Planning: The best play right now is to play Fast Hitch on Merry. This attachment will allow Merry to contribute his willpower to the quest, while still leaving him available to attack later as well. This is incredibly important in such a willpower intensive quest. I will also put Bill the Pony into play for free, as there is absolutely no reason not to do so, while Sneak Attack simply awaits the right moment to bring Gandalf into play.

Resources After Planning: Merry – 1, Sam – 1, Pippin – 0

The Hobbits are incredibly distraught to see Frodo injured, but they trust in Aragorn’s leadership by now. Merry uses a bit of Sam’s trusty rope to fasten Frodo’s belongings to Bill the Pony 2.0, relieving him of the burden. Frightened but resolute, the Hobbits gird themselves for the race to Rivendell.

QUESTING:

Committing Characters:

Deck One will commit Aragorn (2 willpower), Eowyn (4 willpower), and Frodo (2 willpower). Aragorn will use Unexpected Courage to ready instead of his ability, as I need to save that Leadership resource to pay for Steward of Gondor. While Glorfindel could certainly contribute to the quest, I prefer to hold him back for any potential combat. Deck Two will commit Sam (3 willpower), Pippin (2 willpower), and Merry (2 willpower). Merry will immediately use Fast Hitch to ready. Altogether, I have 15 willpower committed against 6 threat in the staging area. This should be sufficient to at least make some initial progress on the quest.

Staging:

Card 1: Piercing Cry [Peril] – This is a truly ugly opening draw, as this treachery would force Deck One to fetch a Nazgul enemy and either put it into the staging area or engaged with the first player. I would ettenmoorsrather not add to Nazgulpalooza this early, so I’ll spend 1 Fellowship resource and exhaust the One Ring to shuffle this card back and redraw.

Card 1.2: Ettenmoors (2 threat, 3 quest points) – I’m certainly glad I used the One Ring as this is a marked improvement. This location has moderate threat and even has a beneficial effect, as it prevents Nazgul enemies from receiving shadow cards when it is the active location (however, it also reduces Frodo’s life when any progress is placed on it).

Card 2: Piercing Cry  [Peril] – Well, this certainly is a rough turn of events, as my use of the One Ring has turned out to be a moot point. I will reluctantly pull out a Ringwraith from the encounter deck and put it in the staging area, as the first player (Deck One) is not ready for such combat yet. I could have selected a slightly weaker Fell Rider instead, but since they can drain life from Frodo, I would rather not have 3 on the board at once.

Resolution:

I committed 15 willpower against the quest, and there is now 11 threat in the staging area. This results in 4 progress tokens on stage 1B.

The company hasn’t traveled far from Weathertop before they hear the dreaded cry of the Nazgul in the distance. Clearly, the Riders have picked up their trail once more and are planning to head them off somewhere ahead. With Frodo wounded, they can’t pause to discuss the matter at length, and Aragorn makes a quick decision.

TRAVEL:

With 3 Nazgul in the staging area, I’m not ready to reveal 2 additional encounter cards by traveling to The Last Bridge. I also need to put some more progress on stage 1B anyway, so for now I’ll travel to Ettenmoors. This has the side benefit of making combat a bit easier this round.

Time is of the essence, but Aragorn decides to take the company into the Ettenmoors, a wild and untamed land. He hopes that avoiding the direct path will allow them to foil whatever ambush the Nine have set, while still allowing Frodo to reach Rivendell in time.

ENCOUNTER:

I will have the first player (Deck One) decline to engage either Fell Rider, as while both Aragorn and fell riderGlorfindel are ready, there just isn’t enough defensive strength to confidently take them on. This choice brings Frodo’s life down to 13. However, I don’t want to leave both Fell Riders in the staging area, mostly because they have the potential of continuing to sap life from Frodo as long as they are in the staging area, so I will have Deck Two engage one of the copies of Fell Rider. Since this enemy has a higher engagement cost (33 with Pippin’s ability) than the deck’s threat, I can draw 1 card with Pippin (which turns out to be another Defender of Rammas), and ready Sam (he now has +1 to all his stats).

With Aragorn, Glorfindel, and Eowyn leading the way forward, hoping to guard against the Nazgul who will likely attack from ahead, the Hobbits, along with Bill the Pony, bring up the rear. However, one of the Riders takes advantage of this situation to waylay the rear of the company, forcing the Hobbits to defend themselves once more.

COMBAT:

Enemy Attack:

I will now make use of Deck Two’s Sneak Attack to bring Gandalf into play, as he can help me to dispatch the Fell Rider this turn. While his direct damage effect would be nice, I’m really looking for card draw at the moment to fetch some of those important attachments. As it happens, I draw another copy of Fast Hitch, as well as a copy of Beorn and Haldir. These 2 will be of great use if I can get my hands on Elf-stone.

With Gandalf’s appearance out of the way, I will declare Bill the Pony as defender against the Fell Rider. His 4 attack against Bill’s 0 defense deals 4 damage, which is certainly enough to kill this pony, who only has 2 hit points. It looks like poor old Bill 2.0 will meet the same fate as Bill 1.0. There is no shadow card dealt to the Fell Rider due to the Ettenmoor’s effect.

Player Attack:

Bill shall certainly be avenged. I will send Sam (1 attack + 1 from Sam’s ability), Merry (3 attack), and Gandalf (4 attack) into combat for a grand total of 9. The Fell Rider’s defense of 3 is subtracted, which leaves 6 damage, just enough to kill the Nazgul. Gandalf goes back to Deck Two’s hand at the end of combat.

NAZGUL KILL COUNTER = 1

Sam and Merry fight like a cornered Mumak to defend Frodo. However, the Rider cuts poor Bill the Pony 2.0 down to the Hobbits’ horror. It is at this moment that Gandalf appears from nowhere with a flash of blinding light that elicits a shriek from the Nazgul; the wizard’s sword follows soon after, tearing through the cloth of the wraith’s robes. Sam and Merry are elated, and charge into the fray alongside Gandalf. It isn’t long before the Rider flees into the wild. Aragorn reaches the fray just as it has concluded and is overjoyed to find Gandalf, but the Istari is restless as ever, and tells the company that he will use himself as bait to try to draw the Nine away from them.

REFRESH:

With the closing of the first round, Frodo life drops down to 12..

ROUND 2 (7 threat in staging area, 4/15 progress on 1B, 0 victory points, Frodo’s Life – 12/15, Active Location – Ettenmoors [0/3 progress])

**Staging Area – Last Bridge, Fell Rider, Ringwraith**

DECK TWO PREPARATION (First Player) – 21 threat

Resources: Merry – 2, Sam – 1, Pippin – 1, Frodo – 1

Draw: Halfling Determination

New Hand: Gandalf, Defender of Rammas, Defender of Rammas, Defender of Rammas, Fast Hitch, Beorn, Haldir, Halfling Determination

Planning: I’ve got more Defenders of Rammas than I know what to do with at the moment, but not much else that is immediately helpful. Those crucial attachments remain frustratingly elusive. Having lost my chump blocker, I will therefore spend 2 Tactics resources to put one of the Defenders into play.

Resources After Planning: Merry – 0, Sam – 1, Pippin – 1, Frodo – 1

A brave soldier of Gondor, who has traveled far and wide in the company of one known as Boromir, has been sent on an errand by Elrond to try to discover the fate of the Ring. He stumbles upon the company in the Ettenmoors and immediately offers his aid. 

DECK ONE PREPARATION – 27 threat

Resources: Eowyn – 1, Glorfindel – 1, Aragorn – 2

Draw: Elrond’s Counsel

New Hand: Steward of Gondor, Gandalf, Faramir, Faramir, Dunedain Watcher, Elrond’s Counsel

Planning: There’s really only one play to make here, and that’s to attach the Steward of Gondor to Aragorn and immediately exhaust it.

Resources After Planning: Eowyn – 1, Glorfindel – 1, Aragorn – 2

Of course, Aragorn is hopeful that his connections to Gondor bear fruit once more as they had of late. Particularly, he hopes to meet up with Faramir once more, who is doing the invaluable work of a ranger in the wilds near Rivendell, despite being far from the familiar lands of home.

QUESTING:

Committing Characters:

Deck Two will commit Frodo (2 willpower), Merry (2 willpower), Pippin (2 willpower), and Sam (3 willpower). Merry will immediately ready with Fast Hitch. I’m going all out on the quest as much as possible. Deck One will play Elrond’s Counsel to lower its threat down to 24 and grant a +1 willpower bonus to Eowyn. I will then commit Eowyn (4 willpower + 1 willpower from Elrond’s Counsel), Aragorn (2 willpower), and Glorfindel (3 willpower). Exhausting Glorfindel raises Deck One’s threat up to 25. I really want to avoid committing Glorfindel until Light of Valinor is in play, but I”m looking to make a big quest push here. In total, I’ve committed 19 willpower against 7 threat in the staging area.

Staging:

Card 1: The Enemy is Upon Us! – This card has no effect, as there are currently no engaged enemies. Thus, it surges.stricken dumb

Card 1.2: Pale Blade [Surge] – One of the Morgul attachments in the encounter deck, Pale Blade grants a +1 attack bonus to a Nazgul and renders it immune to non-combat damage. I will place it on the Fell Rider, as it is a bit weaker than the Ringwraith.

Card 1.3: Power in their Terror – The Defender of Rammas that Deck Two just played has one of the shortest runs in LOTR LCG history, as he is killed off by this treachery, which reduces the willpower of all allies by 1. Any ally that is left with 0 willpower after this reduction is destroyed.

Card 2: Stricken Dumb [Peril] – This treachery gives players the choice of either shuffling a burden card into the encounter deck and revealing an additional encounter card, or ending the quest phase immediately without resolving the quest (along with a threat increase of 3). I’m looking to avoid taking on burdens as much as possible, and it’s still early in the game, so I’ll choose to raise each deck’s threat by 3 and end the quest phase. It’s annoying to not make any progress when I would’ve made a decent amount, but I’m thinking long-term here.

Resolution:

Due to the effect of Stricken Dumb, there is no quest resolution.

The company is making decent progress when they spot one of the Riders through the trees ahead. He brandishes a pale blade, which is enough to send the Gondorian soldier into a blind panic. The poor soul runs straight in the other direction, taking some of the company’s supplies with him. Before Aragorn can attack the wraith, it has already disappeared, and the company is forced to waste time reorganizing themselves and taking inventory.

TRAVEL:

With no quest resolution and no progress tokens placed this round, the Ettenmoors will remain the active location.

ENCOUNTER:

The first player (Deck Two) will decline to engage the Fell Rider, as while I could probably safely defend against it with Sam, I don’t have enough attack power to destroy it. I also don’t want to put a ton of damage on Sam this early in the game. Instead, I’ll watch Frodo’s Life go down to 11, and I’ll leave both enemies in the staging area.

COMBAT:

There is no combat this round.

REFRESH:

Frodo’s life continues to drain, falling to 10 at the end of the round.

ROUND 3 (7 threat in staging area, 4/15 progress on 1B, 0 victory points, Frodo’s Life – 10/15, Active Location – Ettenmoors)

**Staging Area – Fell Rider, Last Bridge, Ringwraith**

DECK ONE PREPARATION (First Player) – 29 threat

Resources: Eowyn – 2, Glorfindel – 2, Aragorn – 5, Frodo – 2

Draw: A Test of Will

New Hand: Gandalf, Faramir, Faramir, Dunedain Watcher, A Test of Will

Planning: A Test of Will is certainly a welcome sight, as it will allow me to cancel a future copy of Stricken Dumb (or some other nasty treachery). For now, though, I will pay 4 Leadership resources for Faramir, who will provide invaluable questing support. I also will spend the 5 resources to put Gandalf on the table, with an eye towards a big quest push and card draw. I want to keep 1 Spirit resource around in case I need to use A Test of Will, so I will take 1 from Frodo to cover the difference. Gandalf’s effect draws Dwarven Tomb, Hasty Stroke, and Silvan Refugee. I now have some invaluable shadow cancellation and a means of recycling A Test of Will.

Resources After Planning: Eowyn – 0, Glorfindel – 1, Aragorn – 0, Frodo – 1

The soldier of Gondor may have failed, but Faramir was made of far sterner stuff. Aragorn had come to rely on the ranger from the South, and he had appeared once to lend his aid in a crucial moment. This time, he arrives in the company of Gandalf, and they both provide crucial knowledge of the Enemy’s movements in the area.

DECK TWO PREPARATION – 25 threat

Resources: Merry – 1, Sam – 2, Pippin – 2

Draw: Halfling Determination

New Hand: Defender of Rammas, Defender of Rammas, Gandalf, Fast Hitch, Beorn, Haldir, Halfling Determination, Halfling Determination

Planning: I have a ton of cards in my hand, but no good plays at the moment. Unfortunately, those crucial attachments have yet to show up, and while Fast Hitch could give an extra action to Sam or Pippin, it’s not really necessary at this point. I’d rather save the Lore resource in case it comes in handy later.

Resources After Planning: Merry – 1, Sam – 2, Pippin – 2

Sam sheds a tear for Bill the Pony 2.0 as the Hobbits are forced to take on a bigger load and tighten their belts a bit. Frodo’s plight, however, prevents them from grumbling.

QUESTING:

Committing Characters:

Deck One commits Frodo (2 willpower), Aragorn (2 willpower), Eowyn (4 willpower),  and Gandalf (4 willpower). Aragorn will use Unexpected Courage to immediately ready. While Gandalf could be of assistance in combat, questing is a bigger priority, especially after last round’s setback. Deck Two commits Sam (3 willpower), Pippin (2 willpower), and Merry (2 willpower). Merry will immediately ready using Fast Hitch. Once again, I have 19 willpower committed against 7 in the staging area. This time, however, I also have Faramir ready to boost one deck’s willpower.

Staging:

Card 1: Ringwraith (35 engagement cost, 3 threat, 5 attack, 4 defense, 5 hit points) – The Nazgul party seems to be in full effect. This is definitely not a situation that should be taken lightly, but I’m not overly concerned at the moment. I am building up my questing power to the point that I should be able to deal with the threat from all these Nazgul, and the threat level of both decks is low enough that I should be able to take them on at my leisure. Still, if this pile up continues, things could get a bit hairy.

Card 2: Power in their Terror – This nasty treachery shows its ugly face again, but with no eligible targets in play, it resolves harmlessly. Even better, it does not surge if there is no effect, which means that this is a win for me.

Resolution:

With 19 willpower committed and 10 threat in the staging area, I’m looking at a total of 9 progress. With no big combat plans set for Deck One, I can safely exhaust Faramir to add 4 more willpower (boosting each questing Deck One character by 1). The new total of 23 yields 13 progress. 3 of those tokens clear out Ettenmoors (which reduces Frodo’s life to 9). The remaining 10 are placed on stage 1B, leaving me 1 short of advancement, but since I still need to clear out The Last Bridge anyway, there’s no real need to use Eowyn’s ability here.

With the company reorganized and buoyed by the arrival of Faramir and Gandalf, they begin to make good time towards Rivendell once again. The wild and rough lands of the Ettenmoors seem to screen their path from the Nazgul, for the most part. A Ringwraith does make an appearance, perhaps hoping to find another susceptible victim, but Faramir confronts it head on, and it melts into the wilderness. The hard road seems to be taking a toll on Frodo, but the company finally emerges from the Ettenmoors relatively unscathed.

TRAVEL:

Now that I’m on the verge of advancing to the next stage, I can’t delay travel to The Last Bridge any weight of the ringlonger. With several enemies in the staging area, the timing is not ideal, but sometimes a little risk is necessary. Thus, I will finally move to The Last Bridge. First, I reveal a burden from the burden deck, which turns out to be Weight of the Ring. This is one of the nastiest of the burdens, as it is a condition attachment that is placed on the Ringbearer, forcing him to either exhaust the One Ring at the beginning of each quest phase or face an extra encounter card during staging. This is terrible as it effectively takes the One Ring out of play. Therefore, I will cancel this effect with A Test of Will, which prevents it from attaching (I can do this because the location text says to treat the burden as if it were revealed from the encounter deck, which means it can be cancelled by A Test of Will). However, I still have to deal with the surge, which reveals a Black Steed. I will place this attachment on Fell Rider, as it lowers the engagement cost of an enemy, and I will want to deal with the Fell Rider first anyway. Unfortunately, this card surges as well, but finally I reveal The Troll’s Camp (1 threat, 2 quest points), a benevolent location, to end the chain.

The company is wary of leaving the Ettenmoors for the open ground surrounding The Last Bridge, but Frodo’s deteriorating condition demands haste. Aragorn leads the way onto the bridge with Glorfindel bringing up the rear. As the company is about to reach the safety of the other side, the menacing sound of pounding hooves is heard in the distance. Frodo is suddenly borne down by the weight of the Ring, and seems unable to move. Glorfindel quickly throws Frodo over his shoulder, and the company makes it past the bridge. As the hooves draw closer, they flee from the main road.

ENCOUNTER:

The first player this turn is Deck One, which isn’t in a great position to deal with the Fell Rider, due to a lack of attack strength. However, Frodo is quickly losing life, so I will have Deck One engage the powered up Rider anyway. I will leave the remaining enemies in the staging area for now, as Deck Two is still waiting to draw what it needs to take on these foes.

A Rider appears on the road that the company has just vacated, and Aragorn and Glorfindel signal the Hobbits to wait on a nearby ridge while they deal with the solitary Nazgul.

COMBAT:

Enemy Attack:

Deck One will send Mr. Underhill to the victory display to prevent the Fell Rider from attacking.

Player Attack:

Aragorn (3 willpower) and Glorfindel (4 attack) combine for 7 attack against the 3 defense of the Fell Rider. This deals 4 damage, which is agonizingly just 2 points short of destruction.

Aragorn and Glorfindel use subterfuge to take the Nazgul by surprise, first approaching the Rider under the pretense that they are willing to surrender the Ringbearer. Once they have gotten close enough, they launch a furious attack on the Nazgul, and it is all it can do to fend off their assault.

REFRESH:

Due to the Black Steed, the Fell Rider pops back to the staging area, which is certainly frustrating, as since it is back in the staging area, it will once again require the first player to either engage the Rider or deplete Frodo’s life. Of course, the additional threat in the staging area is not helpful either. With the end of the round, Frodo’s life goes down to 8.

ROUND 4 (9 threat in staging area, 14/15 progress on 1B, 1 victory point, Frodo’s Life – 8/15, Active Location – The Last Bridge [0/4 progress])

**Staging Area – Fell Rider, Ringwraith, Ringwraith, The Troll’s Camp**

DECK TWO PREPARATION (First Player) – 26 threat

Resources: Merry – 2, Sam – 2, Pippin – 3, Frodo – 2

Draw: Gandalf

New Hand: Defender of Rammas, Defender of Rammas, Gandalf, Fast Hitch, Beorn, Haldir, Halfling Determination, Halfling Determination, Gandalf

Planning: Another swing-and-a-miss in terms of drawing the cards I need to make this deck function as a combat machine. This is extremely frustrating, as usually Deck Two is much more consistent. As it is, I’ll pass on planning once more.

Resources After Planning: Merry – 2, Sam – 2, Pippin – 3, Frodo – 2

The Black Rider has fled from Aragorn and Glorfindel’s attacks, and the Hobbits wait for them to rejoin the company so that they can resume progress towards Rivendell once more.

DECK ONE PREPARATION – 30 threat

Resources: Eowyn – 1, Glorfindel – 1, Aragorn – 3

Draw: Hasty Stroke

New Hand: Faramir, Dunedain Watcher, Dwarven Tomb, Hasty Stroke, Silvan Refugee, Hasty Stroke

Planning: With threat piling up in the staging area, I need to start generating even more willpower than before. To this end, I will put the cheap yet powerful Silvan Refugee into play. I will also spend the 3 Leadership resources for Dunedain Watcher, as she can help with questing, as well as shadow cancellation.

Resources After Planning: Eowyn – 1, Glorfindel – 0, Aragorn – 0

Further reinforcements arrive from Rivendell to help bring the Ringbearer to safety. An elf acquaintance of Glorfindel, in the company of one of Aragorn’s rangers, receive a warm welcome from the company.

QUESTING:

Committing Characters:

There is 9 threat in the staging area, so I will definitely need to have another big questing round to clear out The Last Bridge and advance to the second, and final, quest stage. Deck Two will commit Frodo (2 willpower), Merry (2 willpower), Pippin (2 willpower), and Sam (3 willpower). Deck One will commit Eowyn (4 willpower), Aragorn (2 willpower), and Silvan Refugee (2 willpower). I also have Faramir and Eowyn’s ability in the chamber, if the need arises. Altogether, I have committed 17 willpower this round. Aragorn and Merry will both ready using their respective attachments.

Staging:

Card 1: Pain Assailed Him– This treachery brings Frodo’s life down to a perilous 7. It also reduces all his stats to 0 for the remainder of the round, which means I will lose out on his 2 willpower for quest resolution. While nine are abroadboth effects are harmful, I’m not willing to use the One Ring, which might bring out something worse instead.

Card 2: The Enemy is Upon Us! – With no enemies engaged, this treachery merely surges.

Card 2.1: The Nine are Abroad – This is one of the treacheries that is part of this quest that I truly loathe. It renders the text boxes of all characters blank until the end of the round, which means that I can’t use my Hobbit deck to engage with enemies, as Sam won’t ready, Merry won’t have his attack bonus, etc. This definitely upsets some of my plans, but I’ll have to deal with the repercussions later. I could use the One Ring here, but if I do advance to the next stage, this brings out the Witch-king, and his engagement cost is reduced by 30 if the Ring is exhausted. I can’t afford to have him engage right away, so I will accept The Nine are Abroad. Since there are Nazgul in the staging area, this card surges.

Card 2.2: Pathless Country (2 threat, 3 quest points) – This is definitely an acceptable reveal to round out the staging step.

Resolution:

My total of 15 willpower (adjusted for the loss of Frodo) against 11 threat in the staging area will lead to 4 progress. This will not be sufficient to advance, and normally I could exhaust Faramir for a 4 willpower bonus (+1 to all of Deck Two’s characters), but The Nine Are Abroad has foiled this plan. Instead, I will play Halfling Determination to raise Merry’s willpower by 2, for a new total of 17 willpower and 6 progress. 4 progress tokens move The Last Bridge to the victory display, while the remaining 2 progress tokens are placed on stage 1B, advancing the quest to 2B. The Witch-king and Ford of Bruinen are brought out into the staging area.

Things are starting to look dire for the company, as they have to stop and rest for an extended period of time as Frodo is beset by excruciating pain that prevents him from being moved. Meanwhile, Faramir, who heads out to scout the area, returns with news that all of the Nine are abroad, including the Witch-king himself. The company’s only hope is to reach the Ford of Bruinen before the path to Rivendell is closed off. 

TRAVEL:

The Ford of Bruinen beckons, but I don’t have the defensive capacity to engage enough enemies to make the most of its effect. In addition, the Ford requires another encounter card to be revealed as part of its travel effect, and the staging area is crowded enough already. Therefore, I will travel to The Troll’s Camp to get a much-needed boost to my heroes’ stats for combat and questing purposes.

Although Aragorn knows that they must tackle the Ford eventually, he first leads the company to a clearing where they can rest and rejuvenate before their flight begins again in earnest. Frodo is astounded to find that they have found the site of Bilbo’s trolls, and everyone takes heart from the momentary peace.

ENCOUNTER:

With The Nine are Abroad in effect, the first player (Deck Two) will decline the Fell Rider, which brings Frodo’s life down to 6. However, I do want to get at least one enemy out of the staging area, so Deck One will optionally engage the wounded Rider in the hopes of finishing it off.

As the company leaves the safety of the clearing, the wounded Rider from before emerges to assail them once more.

COMBAT:

Enemy Attack:

The Fell Rider attacks for 5 (4 base strength + 1 from the Pale Blade). I will declare Aragorn as the defender. Subtracting 3 (2 defense + 1 from The Troll’s Camp) from 5 nets 2 damage (3/5 hit points remaining for Aragorn).

Player Attack:

Glorfindel (4 attack + 1 from The Troll’s Camp) finishes off the wounded Fell Rider all by himself (5 attack – 3 defense = 2 damage). The Valiant Warrior boon has certainly proved useful so far.

Aragorn bravely stands in the way of the charging Rider, guarding Frodo with his body. He is sent to the ground by the blade of the Nazgul, but Glorfindel slices through its robes with his blade and slays the black steed it is riding. With a shriek, the Nazgul retreats into the distance.

NAZGUL KILL COUNTER = 2

REFRESH

Frodo’s life falls to 5 at the end of the round.

ROUND 5 (15 threat in staging area, 0/15 progress on 2B, 4 victory points, Frodo’s Life – 5/15, Active Location – Troll’s Camp [0/2 progress])

**Staging Area – Ringwraith, Ringwraith, The Witch-king, Ford of Bruinen, Pathless Country**

DECK ONE PREPARATION (First Player) – 31 threat

Resources: Eowyn – 2, Glorfindel – 1, Aragorn – 3, Frodo – 3

Draw: Hasty Stroke

New Hand: Faramir, Dwarven Tomb, Hasty Stroke, Hasty Stroke, Hasty Stroke

Planning: Deck One is now having its own issues with drawing essential cards, as Light of Valinor and most of my allies are nowhere to be found. With an eye towards closing out this game quickly, I will use Dwarven Tomb to retrieve A Test of Will, in case Stricken Dumb comes out again to wreck my questing plans.

Resources After Planning: Eowyn – 1, Glorfindel – 1, Aragorn – 3, Frodo – 3

Aragorn is wounded, but draws on his reserves of will to lead the party once more.

DECK TWO PREPARATION – 28 threat

Resources: Merry – 2, Sam – 4, Pippin – 4

Draw: Hobbit Cloak

New Hand: Defender of Rammas, Defender of Rammas, Gandalf, Fast Hitch, Beorn, Haldir, Halfling Determination, Gandalf, Hobbit Cloak

Planning: Finally! One of Deck Two’s key attachments, Hobbit Cloak, has emerged, and just in time to help defend against the army of Nazgul in the staging area. With that said, I will wait to play Hobbit Cloak on Sam, as I don’t plan on defending with Deck Two this turn and I need the resources for some other uses. The lack of options so far has had one positive effect: this deck is positively flush with resources. I’ll pay 4 Lore resources for Haldir, as I can’t afford to wait for Elf-stone anymore, and his willpower will be well worth paying for him conventionally. I also will splurge for Gandalf to deal with the massive threat in the staging area and to draw some more cards. With his ability, I draw Feint, Radagast’s Cunning, and Bofur. This is actually a great draw, with 3 extremely useful cards now at my disposal.

Resources: After Planning: Merry – 1, Sam – 0, Pippin – 0

The helps keeps coming as Gandalf arrives with Haldir of Lorien, and the motley company prepares for a final push towards the Ford.

QUESTING:

Committing Characters:

There is a crazy amount of threat currently in the staging area, and I’ll need to muster all of my forces to make some progress on the quest. I at least want to clear out The Troll’s Camp, so that I can deal with one of the other locations. Deck One will commit Eowyn (4 willpower), Aragorn (2 willpower), Frodo (2 willpower), and Silvan Refugee (2 willpower). Despite my dire questing needs, I want to hold Glorfindel back for potential combat and avoid having him raise Deck One’s threat by questing. Aragorn will use Unexpected Courage to immediately ready. Deck Two will commit Pippin (2 willpower), Merry (2 willpower), Sam (3 willpower), Gandalf (4 willpower), and Haldir (2 willpower). Merry will use Fast Hitch to immediately ready. This is a total of 23 willpower against 15 threat in the staging area.

Staging:

Card 1: Ringwraith (35 engagement cost, 3 threat, 5 attack, 4 defense, 5 hit points) – The Nazgul army continues to grow and I almost have to laugh at my plight at this point. There’s little chance that I will be able to engage all of these foes and clear them away with the Ford of Bruinen. Instead, my focus will be on killing what I can and questing like crazy to make up the difference. Fortunately, the threat of my decks is relatively low and Pippin keeps the enemies out of reach as well.

Card 2: Pathless Country (2 threat, 3 quest points) – Yet more threat is added to the staging area, but things could be worse…

Resolution:

23 willpower is lined up against 20 threat in the staging area. I will exhaust Faramir to add 5 willpower (boosting Deck Two’s characters by 1), raising my total to 28. I will also have Deck One discard a copy of Faramir and Deck Two discard a copy of Defender of Rammas to Eowyn’s ability to add an additional 2 willpower. Altogether, this nets 10 progress tokens. 2 of them go towards clearing out The Troll’s Camp, while the remaining 8 are placed on stage 2B.

With some of the best trackers in Middle-earth leading the way, in the form of Haldir, Faramir, and Aragorn, the company attempt to pick the path to the Ford that will keep them out of harm’s way but not be too difficult for quick passage (and Frodo’s health). They can all feel the Ringwraiths closing about them, although they remain out of sight for the moment.

TRAVEL:

I don’t feel like revealing another encounter card with everything piled up in the stagaing area at the moment, so I will hold off on traveling to the Ford of Bruinen once more. Instead, I will travel to one of the copies of Pathless Country.

The trackers lead the company on a route that seems devoid of paths or signs of life, but they hope that this will keep the Enemy off their trail.

ENCOUNTER:

Fortunately, there are no Fell Riders to drain the life from Frodo, but I do need to start clearing some of the Nazgul out of the staging area. This time around, I do have some tools available to help with this task. Thus, I will have Deck One engage with one of the copies of Ringwraith.

 As the advance guard of the company crests a ridge, they spot a Ringwraith below them, who immediately rides straight for their position.

COMBAT:

Enemy Attack:

Deck Two will play Feint on the Ringwraith, which will help keep Deck One’s allies around, and leave me with enough attack strength to destroy this enemy.

Player Attack:

Glorfindel (4 attack), Aragorn (3 attack), and the Dunedain Watcher (1 attack) will combine for an attack strength of 8. Subtracting the Ringwraith’s defense of 4, this leads to 4 damage, which is unfortunately just 1 hit point shy of destroying it.

Glorfindel and Aragorn, along with the Dunedain ranger, meet the Ringwraith’s charge with confidence. They feint in different directions, leaving the Nazgul confused, which allows them to close in it at the right moment and launch a precision attack.

REFRESH:

Frodo’s life is getting perilously low, as it now drops down to 4. Gandalf leaves play at the end of the round and this also causes the Silvan Refugee to be discarded.

ROUND 6 (15 threat in staging area, 8/15 progress on 2B, 5 victory points, Frodo’s Life – 4/15, Active Location – Pathless Country [0/3 progress])

**Staging Area – Ringwraith, Ringwraith, The Witch-king, Pathless Country, Ford of Bruinen**

DECK TWO PREPARATION (First Player) – 28 threat

Resources: Merry – 1, Sam – 1, Pippin – 1, Frodo – 4

Draw: Frodo’s Intuition

New Hand: Defender of Rammas, Gandalf, Fast Hitch, Beorn, Halfling Determination, Radagast’s Cunning, Bofur, Frodo’s Intuition, Hobbit Cloak

Planning: Frodo’s Intuition could not come at a better time, and I will immediately play it to draw 4 cards: Elf-stone, Barliman Butterbur, Dagger of Westernesse, and Celebrian’s Stone. Where were these cards three turns ago?! I will play the Dagger of Westernesse on Merry, Hobbit Cloak on Sam, and Elf-stone on the active location (Pathless Country).

Resources: After Planning: Merry – 0, Sam – 0, Pippin – 0, Frodo – 2

With the knowledge that the climax of their journey to Rivendell lies ahead, Merry clenches his trusty dagger and prepares for what is to come.

DECK ONE PREPARATION – 32 threat

Resources: Eowyn – 2, Glorfindel – 2, Aragorn – 6

Draw: Light of Valinor

New Hand: A Test of Will, Hasty Stroke, Hasty Stroke, Hasty Stroke, Light of Valinor

Planning: Light of Valinor has shown up late to the party, but it has shown up just in time to give me the extra willpower I need to close out this quest stage (remember, I have to place 30 progress tokens as long as there are Nazgul still in play). I will immediately play it on Glorfindel.

Resources After Planning: Eowyn – 1, Glorfindel – 2, Aragorn – 6

As the battle with the Ringwraith continues, Glorfindel draws strength from the nearby power of Rivendell and the light of his illustrious lineage begins to shine through him. He is ready to show his true form and terrible majesty to the Nazgul.

QUESTING:

Committing Characters:

Obviously, questing is once again the number one priority. Deck Two will commit Frodo (2 willpower + 1 from Intuition), Sam (3 willpower + 1 from Intuition), Pippin (2 willpower + 1 from Intuition), Merry (2 willpower + 1 from Intuition), and Haldir (2 willpower). Merry will immediately ready using Fast Hitch. Deck Two will commit Glorfindel (3 willpower), Eowyn (4 willpower), and Aragorn (2 willpower). Aragorn will ready using Unexpected Courage. This is a grand total of 24 willpower against 15 threat in the staging area.

Staging:

Card 1: Pale Blade [Surge] – I will place this Morgul attachment on the Ringwraith engaged with Deck One, since it is almost dead anyway. This card then surges.

Card 1.2: Stricken Dumb [Peril]- I have to think long and hard before I make a decision here. If I exhaust the One Ring to cancel this treachery, then I will lower the engagement cost of The Witch-king by 30, which will necessitate combat with him. On the other hand, accepting this treachery will mean either adding a burden to my campaign pool or not making any quest progress this turn. Given the options, I will use the One Ring to cancel and redraw.

Card 1.3: Piercing Cry – This isn’t the best redraw, but another Nazgul won’t really make a difference at this point. I will take a Ringwraith from the encounter deck and put it into play in the staging area, avoiding the life draining Fell Riders.

Card 2: Pain Assailed Him – This takes Frodo’s life down to 3, and removes his 3 willpower from the quest. Tough break, and I really need to close out this quest next turn before Frodo dies.

Resolution:

I end up with 21 willpower against 18 in the staging area. This is nowhere near where I need to be to have a chance at finishing the quest soon. I will exhaust Faramir to add 4 willpower (boosting Deck One’s characters), and have Deck Two discard the other copy of Defender of Rammas while Deck One discards one copy of Hasty Stroke to boost Eowyn’s willpower. This increases the grand total to 27. With 9 progress achieved, 4 tokens fully explore Pathless Country (3 quest points + 1 from Elf-stone), while the remaining 5 are placed on 2B. The good news is that I now am only 2 progress away from the 15 needed to win; the bad news is that I actually need 30 because there are still Nazgul in play. Fortunately, Elf-stone puts Beorn into play, which will give me some breathing room in terms of combat.

As Aragorn and Glorfindel battle the Nazgul, the piercing cry of a distant Nazgul sends Frodo to his knees, and he has to be carried once more. It is the hulking Man from Bree, the spitting image of Beorn, who arrives from nowhere once again to take up this task. He easily slings Frodo over his shoulder as if he weighed no more than a mouse, and he escorts the Hobbits out of danger and the seemingly pathless country that they had been travelling in.

TRAVEL:

With victory close but defeat even closer, it’s time to take some risks. I will travel to the Ford of Bruinen, fordwith an eye towards using it to clear some of the Nazgul out of the staging area. My goal here isn’t to get rid of all of them, which is probably impossible at this point, but just enough to clear away some threat and enable faster quest progress. The Witch-king in particular, with his 5 threat, needs to be eliminated. To meet the travel cost, I reveal Rode Like a Gale, which returns the wounded Ringwraith that is engaged with Deck One to the staging area. Unfortunately, this temporarily removes him from the range of Ford of Bruinen, but it does prevent this card from surging into something worse.

In response to the distant cry, the Ringwraith that has been battling Aragorn and Glorfindel retreats, presumably to meet up with its fellows. The two heroes rush to rejoin with the rest of the company for the final push to Rivendell. Ahead, they can see the Ford of Bruinen, a sign of safety that is so close yet so distant.

ENCOUNTER:

My goal is to engage as many enemies as possible, while not taking on so many that my defenders will be overwhelmed. I know that The Witch-king will be coming down for sure due to the -30 engagement cost penalty from the One Ring being exhausted. This is actually beneficial, as it will allow me to eliminate him with the Ford of Bruinen while not having to use an optional engagement. Deck One will engage with the wounded Ringwraith again, while Deck Two will choose to take on one of the other Ringwraiths. As the Ringwraith has a higher engagement cost (35 + 4 from Pippin) than Deck Two’s threat, Pippin draws Halfling Determination and Sam readies, gaining his stat bonuses as well. The Witch-king, with an engagement cost of 19 (45 – 30 from the One Ring + 4 from Pippin) comes down to Deck Two, and no Hobbit bonuses trigger.

 The Hobbits, along with Beorn, are running at full speed across open ground towards the Ford. Glorfindel and Aragorn are trailing behind, but the flight has become a mad dash at this point. The sound of pounding hooves can be heard from all sides. As the Hobbits sprint close to a grove of trees, two familiar hooded shapes emerge onto the road ahead of them. Frodo’s wound begins to feel agonizing pain as one of them draws near, as this is The Witch-king himself. Meanwhile, Glorfindel and Aragorn are intercepted by the same Rider they had battled with earlier. Ahead, several more Nazgul line up to block access to the Ford.

COMBAT:

Enemy Attack:

First, I will deal with The Witch-king’s attack by declaring Sam as the defender (he has 2 willpower due to his bonus from the Ringwraith engaging). Fortunately, there is no shadow effect. The monstrous 6 attack of The Witch-king against Sam’s 2 defense (1 + 1 from the Ringwraith engaging) leads to 4 damage (1/5 hit points remaining), and this provides a good example of why Skilled Healer was the right choice for Sam, as it allowed him to take on such a fierce attack and survive. My choice to use him might seem risky because of the unpredictability of shadow effects, but Deck One has 2 copies of Hasty Stroke and enough resources to use them both. Otherwise, I probably wouldn’t have used him to defend. Next, the Ringwraith’s attack will be defended by Beorn, with there again being no shadow effect. The enemy’s attack strength of 5 against Beorn’s 3 defense yields 2 damage (4/6 hit points remaining). Beorn is really a stellar defender and an all-around amazing ally, and Elf-stone has made it viable to get him into play regularly. Finally, on the other side of the board, Deck One will use the Dunedain Watcher to defend against the wounded Ringwraith. Its 6 attack (5 + 1 from Pale Blade) against her 1 defense causes 5 hit points, more than enough to kill her. The shadow effect is Rode Like a Gale, which would return the Ringwraith to the staging area. This negates the whole point of travelling to the Ford, and I have 2 Hasty Strokes, so I will use one to cancel this shadow.

Player Attack:

For Deck Two, Merry (4 attack + 2 from Dagger of Westernesse) attacks the Ringwraith (4 defense) for 2 damage. It survives, but this doesn’t matter that much as it should be swept away by the Ford of Bruinen next turn. For Deck One, Aragorn (3 attack) and Glorfindel (4 attack) attack the wounded Ringwraith (4 defense) for 3 damage, which is enough to kill the Ringwraith. I could have just let it survive to have it be destroyed by the Ford, but there is a chance that an encounter card next turn could return it to the staging area during questing, so I will take the safer (yet admittedly less cool) option of destroying it outright.

As The Witch-king advances menacingly towards Frodo, Sam steps bravely between them. The Nazgul leader brandishes a nasty looking sword and slashes with all his might, wounding Sam and sending him to the ground. It is perhaps only his thick cloak that saves his life and prevents the wound from being worse than it is. The Beorn doppleganger takes on the other Ringwraith and seems to shrug off a sword blow effortlessly. Merry stabs it from behind, but doesn’t seem to faze it much. Meanwhile, the Dunedain ranger meets her end as the Ringwraith callously cuts her down, but Aragorn and Glorfindel earn vengeance by laying it low in turn, as they frantically try to reach Frodo before it’s too late.

NAZGUL KILL COUNTER = 3

REFRESH:

Frodo’s life plummets to 2, and the next round is looking like a must-win situation. I could possibly survive for an additional round after that, but there’s always the chance that I could draw a life draining card during staging next turn and then it’s truly lights out at the end of the round.

ROUND 7 (8 threat in staging area, 13/15 progress on 2B, 5 victory points, Frodo’s Life – 2/15, Active Location – Ford of Bruinen [0/6 progress])

**Staging Area – Ringwraith, Ringwraith, Pathless Country**

DECK ONE PREPARATION (First Player) – 33 threat

Resources: Eowyn – 2, Glorfindel – 2, Aragorn – 9, Frodo – 2

Draw: Ethir Swordsman

New Hand: Hasty Stroke, A Test of Will, Ethir Swordsman

Planning: With questing my sole focus, I will gladly play the Ethir Swordsman.

Resources After Planning: Eowyn – 1, Glorfindel – 1, Aragorn – 9, Frodo – 2

The swordsman from Ethir who took part in the company’s adventures has returned once more, because, hey, these characters love to come and go at a moment’s notice.

DECK TWO PREPARATION – 29 threat

Resources: Merry – 1, Sam – 1, Pippin – 1

Draw: Asfaloth

New Hand: Gandalf, Fast Hitch, Halfling Determination, Halfling Determination, Radagast’s Cunning, Bofur, Barliman Butterbur, Celebrian’s Stone, Halfling Determination, Asfaloth

Planning: There are no real plays here other than holding onto my resources for some key events.

Resources: After Planning: Merry – 1, Sam – 1, Pippin – 1

QUESTING:

Committing Characters:

This is it. The moment of truth. Deck One will commit Aragorn (2 willpower), Frodo (2 willpower), Eowyn (4 willpower), Glorfindel (3 willpower), and Ethir Swordsman (2 willpower). Deck Two will commit Sam (3 willpower), Merry (2 willpower), Pippin (2 willpower), Beorn (1 willpower) and Haldir (2 willpower). This is a grand total of 23 willpower against the 8 threat in the staging area. Remember that I need 23 progress tokens to win (6 on the Ford and 17 more on the quest). Things look bleak, but remember that I have Faramir on my side and a few more tricks up my sleeve.

Staging:

Card 1: Pathless Country (2 threat, 3 quest points) – I’ll take this draw all day, as it’s a fairly harmless location with moderate threat.

Card 2: Stricken Dumb [Peril] – The bane of my existence returns! The bad news this time around is that due to the peril keyword and this card not being revealed by the first player, I can’t use the One Ring to cancel it (and this isn’t Deck One’s card, so A Test of Will can’t be used either). So I’m left with the choice of taking a burden into my card pool or ending the quest without resolving it. There’s no way I can take the latter option given the situation, so as much as I hate to do it, I will be shuffling a burden into the encounter deck. I also have to draw another encounter card, and this one shall decide my fate.

Card 2.2: Fell Rider (30 engagement cost, 2 threat, 4 attack, 3 defense, 6 hit points) – This is not the greatest draw normally, but I’ll take an enemy with moderate threat right now instead of a nasty treachery or a card with surge. Still, this is going to be a close call.

Resolution:

I have 23 willpower committed against 12 in the staging area. This would yield 11 progress, which is far below the 23 I need to succeed, so it’s time to use up my bag of tricks. Faramir will exhaust to add 5 willpower (boosting all of Deck One’s characters by 1), which ups the total to 28 (a net of 16 progress tokens). I then will use the 1 Lore resource on Pippin to play Radagast’s Cunning to negate the 3 threat of a Ringwraith, now bringing the net total to 19 progress tokens. Deck One will discard Hasty Stroke while Deck Two will discard Fast Hitch to boost Eowyn’s willpower by 2 (a net of 21 progress tokens). Finally, I will pay 1 Tactics resource from Merry to play Halfling’s Determination, which raises his own willpower by 2. The final total is 32 willpower against 9 threat in the staging area, which results in 23 progress tokens, just enough to beat the quest! 6 progress tokens are placed on the Ford of Bruinen, clearing the location and causing The Witch-king and engaged Ringwraith to be discarded. The remaining 18 tokens are placed on the quest and victory is mine! 

“To the Ford!” cries Aragorn. He ducks past the slashing blade of The Witch-king and picks up Frodo in one smooth motion. Meanwhile, Glorfindel grabs the wounded Sam and sprints towards the Ford. The rest of the company follows their cue and recklessly begin to charge towards the Ford, ignoring the slashing weapons and grasping hands of the wraiths. The line of Nazgul in front of the Ford seem to bar the way, but using swords, daggers, rocks, clubs, raw determination, and sheer momentum, they are bowled out of the way. As the last member of the company reaches the other side, the raging waters of the river come crashing down upon The Witch-king and another Nazgul who dared to follow him. They are swiftly washed away and the remaining wraiths flee down the river after them. The day has been won, and Frodo is carried off to the healing halls of Rivendell!

SCENARIO CONCLUSION:

Phew! Readers, I have to say that this is probably my worst performance against this quest ever, and this is probably also the worst that these two decks have performed. Usually, they are much more consistent in getting out the cards that are most necessary for them to function well. To give you a peek behind the curtain, usually I’ll play these scenarios with my article decks a couple of times as a test run, and then I’ll declare one playthrough as “the” playthrough, with the result being recorded here win or lose. During the test run right before this playthrough, I smashed through the quest in a few rounds, with Beorn repeating his performance from A Knife in the Dark, destroying enemies left and right. However, I’m actually glad that this is actually the play experience that I get to share with you all, as it was much more tense and exciting than a blowout would have been. Also, it demonstrates that these decks can manage to pull out a victory even when not performing at an optimum level. 

As for resolving the last Campaign Mode business (for now), I have to add any burden cards in the encounter deck or encounter deck discard pile to the campaign pool. This means that Weight of the Ring (earned from travelling to The Last Bridge) and Eaten Alive (earned from that last round copy of Stricken Dumb) will pop up again in my Saga experience.

——————————————————————————————————————

I regret to say that the Campaign Mode articles have come to an end for the moment. I’m a bit sad to end this series, as it has been a blast, and I thank you all for the positive feedback on these session reports in particular. The good news is that these articles will return once the next Saga expansion is released. To wrap up, I’ll reiterate that The Black Riders expansion is one of the best play experiences to be had when it comes to this game, and Flight to the Ford is an enjoyable scenario that definitely puts you in the mindset of a race. The most thematic and fun playthroughs are those that are like the one here, with Frodo on his last legs by the end of it!

Until we pick up with Aragorn, Glorfindel, the Hobbits, Beornleganger, and possibly Bill the Pony 3.0 in Rivendell, this is the Campaign Mode series, signing off.

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From → Strategy

14 Comments
  1. Wow… That was a rather intense little playthrough. I have had that happened before with a few quests myself. I would play it with a pair of decks and a couple of times I would rip through it without any problems. Then with those same two decks I try it again and they stall out or it’s by the skin of the teeth that you somehow survive the onslaught…

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      I find those types of playthroughs to be the most enjoyable. Those are the ones you usually remember months or even years later.

      • Pickles permalink

        Yeah like the time I shuffled the encounter deck immediately after I killed the Nazgul of Dol Guldur then drew it next turn so I could not escape in time (49 threat, not much attack).
        Great series!

        I have caught up with the other sections now I finally got the set. Obliterating it with Dain’s buddies was a particular kind of fun so I think I will try it with some other decks – maybe a “what if Boromir got his way” Gondor Deck 🙂

        On the campaign mode in general there is no penalty for failure but there is a penalty for succeeding poorly – extra burdens & threat from dead heroes. This means you could be better off if you throw a round rather than win if you are down a hero or two. I think Iron Man mode might be a bit too hard ie no redoes as you would no doubt become overly familiar with the early scenarios & losing round 9 would be a bit much. It would be nice if the story could change depending on the outcome of the earlier scenarios.
        Have you had any thoughts on this? It does seem like a campaign with more of a web like structure, like the Siege of Cair Andros quest might be good.

  2. Glowwyrm permalink

    Excellent article series, really enjoyed it. I too am glad your decks performed sub-optimally, because it made for an exciting read. Can’t wait for more campaign mode next year.

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      Thanks! I can’t wait to get to grips with the next Saga quests, as I really enjoy the “leveling up” aspects of Campaign Mode, as well as the chance to experience a continuous story.

  3. bootagot permalink

    Awesome play through. Man I love this game, there is truly nothing like it

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      Thanks! I agree 100%. This game is truly unparalleled, in my opinion.

  4. Tonskillitis permalink

    There are so many different pleasures from this game. One is the comfort of seeing a power deck control the encounter cards and dominate a quest. Another is the skin-of-the-teeth victory which is possibly the greater of the two. For all the frustration of not getting the cards you need and being thwarted by treacheries, to crawl through with maximum damage on your heroes and 49 threat makes it all the more heroic and poetic.

  5. Scroll Lock permalink

    Awesome! That final quest phase was so thematic, where Frodo was nearly dead and everyone did some trick to save him.
    Nice!

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      I absolutely love having to pull out all my tricks at some point to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. This was a classic example of what I called the “Captain Kirk” style of play on the most recent episode of The Grey Company.

  6. Rory permalink

    Fantastic read from a fantastic blog, really enjoyed this series (as I do all entries) thanks for doing this.

    Any speculation as to what other boons or burdens may be available in the next saga expansion and how they will affect the whole campaign?

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      Thanks for the kind words! I really can’t say what the future holds for boons and burdens, but I do imagine that as the saga expansions go on, the designers will get more and more creative and learn how to use them in new ways. It will probably be hard to balance things, as with more and more boons, players may get too powerful, although I suppose this is where burdens will have to play their part. My wishlist for boons includes: Ent-draught (a boon to make your heroes “taller” through boosted stats), Palantir (I know there’s a player card, but this could be an interesting example of a card that becomes either a boon or burden depending on how you use it), and Orc Uniforms (something that could allow you to blend in and sneak past enemies, as Sam and Frodo did). We’ve seen burdens show up as permanent treacheries and condition attachments, I wonder if we’ll see ones that attach to quest stages (more quest points, for example) or go into player decks.

  7. I’ve enjoyed reading these – thanks for posting them! Any chance we’ll see you take a crack at these with a single deck instead of two-handed?

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      That’s actually not a bad idea! I play two-handed almost exclusively, so I tend to focus a big part of my attention on that style, but it would be good to give some love to the pure solo players.

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