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Campaign Mode: Breaking of the Fellowship (Part 2)

by on March 5, 2015

 ring goes south

The Ring has been carried out of the dark of Moria and a fearsome demon of Morgoth has been vanquished, but at the terrible cost of the loss of Gandalf, the fellowship’s leader. This is a terrible blow to the cause of the Free Peoples, but the fellowship must find a way to carry on and complete the task set before them. In Part 1 of this article, I explained the changes I have made to my decks in response to the loss of Gandalf, and some of the special strategy considerations that are important to keep in mind when facing Breaking of the Fellowship, the third quest in The Road Darkens expansion. Finishing this quest will complete the campaign for now and takes us to the end of story contained in The Fellowship of the Ring. First, though, we must see whether our heroes can survive a trip down the Anduin and an encounter with the Uruk-hai of Saruman…

Part 3 – Session Report

The journey through the dark of Moria had begun in relative peace, but it wasn’t long before the fellowship was waylaid by countless Orcs in one of the many-pillared halls of this underground realm. Arrows stung at them from the surrounding blackness, and Pippin received a grievous wound. Hurriedly, the fellowship made an escape into the Chamber of Mazarbul, where they discovered the fate of Balin’s colony and Balin himself. The respite was brief, though, as the doors were soon broken down, accompanied by the hammering of drums in the deep. With great prowess, the fellowship was able to fight their way out of the chamber and onward towards the east gate of Moria. However, Gandalf had begun to sense a malevolent and powerful presence just behind. As the fellowship reached the great bridge of Khazad-dum, they were hemmed in on both sides, with Orcs and Trolls gathering on the far side, while Durin’s Bane, the dark presence Gandalf had begun to fear, finally showed itself as a Balrog of Morgoth. Gandalf, Aragorn, and Glorfindel did their best to fight off The Balrog, while Gildor Inglorion and the Hobbits pushed forward across the bridge. However, the Balrog proved to be a foe beyond their powers and threatened to destroy them all. Gandalf, therefore, sacrificed his life in a grand display of his power, seemingly destroying the Balrog in the process. As the fellowship cut down countless foes and seemed in reach of escape, the Balrog rose once more. However, he was severely weakened by Gandalf’s spell, and the mysterious man who had intervened to save the Hobbits before, perhaps of the line of Beorn, arrived once more to win the day, smiting the Balrog to the cold stone and destroying it utterly. This caused the bridge itself to crumble, and the bodies of Gandalf and the Balrog tumbled lifelessly into the darkness below. Free of their most fearsome foe, the fellowship escaped Moria and fled into the light, grateful to see the day once more, but rent by bitter grief.

Set-up 

The scenario begins with The Argonath (2 threat, 2 quest points) and Sarn Gebir (3 threat, 4 quest points) in play. These two locations need to be cleared before I can advance to the next stage, and I must explore Sarn Gebir first, and then The Argonath. The main wrinkle of the initial stage, entitled The Great River, is that enemies cannot be engaged by any means, the encounter phase is completely skipped, and all enemies get +2 defense to prevent sniping.

Leaf-wrapped-LembasPhial-of-Galadriel

There also is some campaign business to take care of though, as since the fellowship has been to Lorien in between Journey in the Dark and Breaking of the Fellowship, they get to receive gifts from Galadriel. Each player (deck) has the opportunity to choose one of four boons: Phial of Galadriel, Three Golden Hairs, Lorien Rope, and Leaf-wrapped Lembas. These boons are amazing and all are a great thematic representation of the gifts the fellowship received in the book. However, unlike the other boons we’ve seen so far, these “gifts” can only be used once during the entire campaign. With that in mind, I’m hoping to save them until later scenarios when I may really need their help. Deck One will choose the Leaf-wrapped Lembas and attach it to Aragorn. I definitely see the value of the other boons, and took a long hard look at Three Golden Hairs, but since Deck One tends to have the powerhouse heroes, I can imagine some future moment when readying all three of them may be the difference between victory and defeat. Deck Two will choose Phial of Galadriel and attach it to Sam. I’ll admit that this is largely a thematic selection, as I can’t imagine having a Hobbit deck featuring Sam and not giving him the Phial. Reducing the attack of all enemies engaged with Deck Two by four could certainly be of use at some point. The burdens from previous scenarios are all in play, including Overcome by Grief in the staging area. With the setup now complete, it’s time to begin!

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

Breaking 1-1

Led by Arwen and Aragorn, the fellowship entered the realm of Lothlorien. The Elves there, led by Haldir, were a bit suspicious at first of the strange group, but were quickly assuaged by the sight of Arwen and her explanation of their journey. Still, however, they insisted that Dori, the Dwarven member of the fellowship, be blindfolded. Dori was taken aback by this request, perhaps uncomfortably reminded of an adventure long ago when he was captured by Elves in a similar fashion. Aragorn proposed that the entire fellowship be blindfolded as well to comfort him. In Lothlorien, the fellowship were greeted by Celeborn and Galadriel, who were grief-stricken to hear the news of Gandalf’s fall. The fellowship found rest and healing for their wounds and lamentations and Galadriel provided what counsel she could. Frodo found that the time came too soon to continue the journey, and one morning found himself standing among the others as Galadriel and Celeborn prepared to send the fellowship off down the river Anduin. The way forward was still not clear, with Boromir arguing that they should head to Minas Tirith, while Aragorn’s mind was still not made up. Still, whatever their course, the time had come to depart, and Galadriel provided a gift to each member of the fellowship to aid them in their journey. Sam, in particular, wondered at a marvelous phial of light that was so bright that it shone through even the pale morning. Galadriel counseled that it could be a light when all other lights go out. The fellowship also received a large supply of leaf-wrapped lembas, which would help to give them sustenance on the long road ahead. With wistful looks behind them, even from Dori, the fellowship set off down the river in three boats.

DECK ONE (Starting Threat – 28)

Heroes: Boromir, Glorfindel, Aragorn

Starting Hand: Escort from Edoras, Valiant Sacrifice, Galadriel’s Handmaiden, A Test of Will, Escort from Edoras (1 fewer card drawn due to Gandalf’s Delay)

Mulligan: Sword that was Broken, Light of Valinor, Squire of the Citadel, Ethir Swordsman, Escort from Edoras

Thoughts: The first opening hand isn’t great. Although A Test of the Will is always welcome, especially for the ever-present threat of Fallen Into Evil, which can transform a hero into an enemy, I’m lacking any of the key attachments, such as Light of Valinor or Gondorian Shield. Thus, I will take a mulligan, which is much better, as I at least get access to Light of Valinor, as well as Sword that was Broken. The latter is a little more difficult to pay for now in a tri-sphere build without Gandalf’s help, but it could prove to be very useful in questing past stage 1 as quickly as possible.

DECK TWO (Starting Threat – 20)

Heroes: Merry, Sam, Pippin

Starting Hand: Dagger of Westernesse, Bill the Pony, Bofur, Frodo’s Intuition, Errand-rider (1 fewer card drawn due to Gandalf’s Delay)

Thoughts: I will keep this hand for two main reasons. One, it has Frodo’s Intuition, which means a great willpower boost for the early game, as well as fantastic card draw. Two, Errand-rider can be key for smoothing out resources for both decks.

ROUND 1 (5 threat in staging area, 0/12 progress on 1B, 0 victory points, Active Location – None)

**Staging Area – Sarn Gebir, The Argonath**

DECK ONE PREPARATION (First Player) – 28 Threat

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

Draw: Galadriel

New Hand: Sword that was Broken, Light of Valinor, Squire of the Citadel, Ethir Swordsman, Escort from Edoras, Galadriel

Planning: The first play is obvious, and that is to pay 1 from Glorfindel for Light of Valinor. I don’t have enough resources to pay for anything else, except for Squire of the Citadel, but Aragorn will be saving up for either Galadriel or Sword that was Broken.

Resources: Boromir – 1, Glorfindel – 0, Aragorn – 1, Frodo – 1

Glorfindel sat at the fore of one of the boats, and his time in Lothlorien seemed to have removed some of the care from his shoulders. To Frodo, he seemed restored to the figure of bright splendor he remembered, and he was glad the Elf was there, especially now that Gandalf’s absence was so keenly felt.

DECK TWO PREPARATION – 20 Threat

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

Draw: Waters of Nimrodel

New Hand: Dagger of Westernesse, Bill the Pony, Bofur, Frodo’s Intuition, Errand-rider, Waters of Nimrodel

Planning: I’m happy to draw Waters of Nimrodel, as this gives me an emergency option if the archery damage gets to be too much later in the quest. For now, though, I’ll pay 1 from Sam for Errand-rider, while also putting Bill the Pony into play for free. I will follow this up by paying 1 to attach Dagger of Westernesse to Merry.

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

Sam had to wage a long fight with Aragorn to convince him that Bill the Pony 3.0 should be brought along on the journey, but the Hobbit ultimately won the day, although the pony didn’t seem too happy with his current situation. Sam, however, rummaged through his pack to find some snacks for Bill, who was partially placated. Merry was busy staring at his dagger, wondering at how far he had come already from his days in the Shire. He looked up to find Pippin staring vacantly at the boat just ahead of them, where Frodo sat talking with Aragorn. “You’ve been awfully quiet, Pippin,” he remarked. “If you’d rather be in another boat, I can toss you there.” Pippin ignored the joke and only shook his head absentmindedly. 

QUESTING:

Committing Characters:

I really want to progress through stage 1 as quickly as possible, so that I can avoid a pile-up of enemies in the staging area. Stage 2 will lower all enemy engagement costs to zero and bring them down on my head, so minimizing the number of enemies I have to face at that point is essential. I can also be pretty cavalier with committing characters to the quest, as enemy engagement is possible at this point, although the Uruk-hai Hunter can potentially attack from the staging area. With all of this in mind, Deck One will commit Frodo (2 willpower), Glorfindel (3 willpower), Aragorn (2 willpower), and Boromir (1 willpower) for a total of 8 willpower. Deck Two will commit Pippin (2 willpower), Sam (3 willpower), Merry (2 willpower), and Bill the Pony (1 willpower) for a total of 8 willpower. This is a grand total of 16 willpower against 5 threat in the staging area.

Staging:

Card 1: Black Feathered Arrows – This treachery is one of the main dangers of the quest, as it adds 1 to the archery total for the round for each ally currently at this stage. Later on, when ally armies have potentially been built, this can be devastating, but I’m happy to see one copy go now, when there are only two allies on the table. I’ll just have to deal with two points of archery this round, and a treachery means that no threat is added to the staging area.

Black-Feathered-Arrows

Card 2: Wooded Shoreline (3 threat, 4 quest points) – The Wooded Shoreline adds a further two points of archery damage while it is in the staging area. Now this is more problematic. I could travel here, but I would have to search for and add an enemy to the staging area, which isn’t necessarily better in the long run. This is a tough draw.

Resolution:

My 16 willpower against 8 threat results in 8 progress, which is placed on stage 1B.

The fellowship made good time down the Anduin, rowing quickly as Aragorn feared that they were open and clear targets as long as they remained on the river. His fears were increased as they approached a section of the western shoreline that was heavily wooded, as it would be impossible to spot any foes that might be hidden among the trees.

TRAVEL:

I don’t really want to add an enemy to the staging area, and I would like to travel to Sarn Gebir so that I can progress to the next stage as quickly as possible, yet I fear that leaving Wooded Shoreline in the staging area will mean that my characters will get slowly worn down by archery damage over time. Thus, I will travel to the Wooded Shoreline. I will pull an Uruk-hai Hunter (28 engagement cost, 2 threat, 4 attack, 1 defense, 3 hit points) out of the staging area to satisfy the travel cost. This actually gives me an opportunity to get one copy of this enemy out of the encounter deck, which is beneficial since its “when revealed” effect forces either an immediate attack or an extra encounter card reveal.

Aragorn called for Glorfindel to watch the wooded shoreline carefully. “There’s something moving in the trees,” Glorfindel said, confirming Aragorn’s worst fears. “Quickly, all your strength, we must fly!” he called to the other boats. 

COMBAT:

Since Wooded Shoreline is the active location, I don’t have to suffer its two points of archery. I do, however, have to assign the two archery points from Black Feathered Arrows, and I will assign these to Errand-rider and Bill the Pony.

A long, black feather arrow suddenly struck the side of the first boat. Aragorn called for them to row faster. More arrows flew from the trees and hit the water around them or lodge themselves in the solid wood of one of the boats like the first one had. However, one did strike the side of poor Bill the Pony 3.0, while another landed with a thud right into the large pack that Sam happened to be holding.

ROUND 2 (7 threat in staging area, 8/12 progress on 1B, 0 victory points, Active Location – Wooded Shoreline [0/4 quest points])

**Staging Area – Sarn Gebir, The Argonath, Uruk-hai Hunter**

DECK TWO PREPARATION (First Player) – 21 threat

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

Draw: Frodo’s Intuition

New Hand: Bofur, Frodo’s Intuition, Waters of Nimrodel, Frodo’s Intuition

Planning: I will gladly pay two from Frodo for Frodo’s Intuition. This boosts the willpower of all of Deck One’s heroes by one until the end of the round and also draws four cards: Ithilien Tracker, Waters of Nimrodel, Dagger of Westernesse, and Warden of Healing. I’m especially pleased to see the Warden, as this gives me a consistent means of managing archery as long as I can keep him in play. Therefore, I will pay two from Pippin for the Warden. Finally, since there are no Leadership cards in hand, I will use the Errand-rider to transfer a resource from Sam to Aragorn.

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

Frodo crawled to the front of the boat, just beside Aragorn. “Get down, Frodo!” the ranger called, but Frodo peered over the edge of the boat. “Steer to the right, there’s a channel there!” There was something certain in Frodo’s voice so Aragorn followed his command, with the other boats following close behind. Frodo’s intuition proved true, and they began to pick up speed as the arrows continued to fly. Meanwhile, Sam tore the arrow out of his bag and searched hurriedly through the contents for some kind of binding for Bill the Pony 3.0’s wound.

DECK ONE PREPARATION – 29 threat

Resources: Boromir – 2, Glorfindel – 1, Aragorn – 3 (including 1 resource from Errand-rider)

Draw: Gondorian Discipline

New Hand: Sword that was Broken, Gondorian Discipline, Squire of the Citadel, Ethir Swordsman, Escort from Edoras, Galadriel, Gondorian Discipline

Planning: The presence of Errand-rider has proven to be key, as it means that Aragorn is now able to pay for Sword that was Broken or Galadriel a round earlier than would otherwise have been the case. I could pay for the Sword, which is the safe and sure option for extra willpower. Alternatively, I could play Galadriel, which would give me a temporary dose of three willpower, along with potentially a useful attachment. Sword that was Broken is perhaps the better and safer option, but I like to roll the dice. So I will pay three from Aragorn for Galadriel. Looking at the top five cards of my deck for an attachment, I will play Anduril on Aragorn for free. This isn’t quite as good as Sword that was Broken, obviously, but still gives me extra willpower and a good combat option.

Resources: Boromir – 2, Glorfindel – 1, Aragorn – 0

Although they had left Galadriel and Lothlorien far behind, it was if the Lady of the Wood was still with them, as the rain of arrows failed to find their mark again and again. The boats they had been given also proved strong, swift, and true. Anduril hung at Aragorn’s side, and he drew comfort from its promise. 

QUESTING:

Committing Characters:

Nothing has really changed, as it’s still all about questing. Deck Two currently has the benefit of +1 willpower to all heroes thanks to Frodo’s Intuition. I will commit Pippin (3 willpower), Sam (4 willpower), Merry (3 willpower), and Frodo (3 willpower) for a total of 13 willpower. I will hold back Bill the Pony in case I need a chump blocker for an Uruk-hai Hunter. Deck One will commit Glorfindel (3 willpower), Aragorn (3 willpower), and Galadriel (3 willpower) for a total of 9 willpower.  Overall, I’ve committed 22 willpower against 7 threat in the staging area.

Staging:

Card 1: Uruk-hai Hunter (28 engagement cost, 2 threat, 4 attack, 1 defense, 3 hit points) [Peril. Toughness 1.] – This copy of the Hunter has been revealed during staging, which makes for a tough choice. Do I take another encounter card or force Deck Two to suffer an attack? I really don’t think I should take the risk of further flooding the staging area with enemies, so I will take the attack, using Bill the Pony as a defender. The pony is destroyed (4 attack – 0 defense = 4 damage). Poor, poor Sam. Poor, poor old Bill. Since a character has been destroyed, Overcome by Grief now has to be attached to a hero, and I will place it on Pippin.

Uruk-hai-Hunter

Card 2: Orcs of the White Hand – This treachery removes all damage from enemies and gives them a +1 boost to all stats. Since I can’t engage enemies in combat, this basically amounts to simply a threat boost to the two Uruk-hai Hunters in the staging area. Overall, this is a fairly harmless draw.

Resolution:

There is now a total of 11 threat in the staging area and I committed 22 willpower to the quest. This yields 11 progress tokens, with 4 of these exploring the Wooded Shoreline, while the remaining 7 are placed on stage 1B. Now, I just need to explore the two unique locations and then I can advance to the next stage.

One particularly brave Orc left the trees and strode into the water, giving the fellowship their first good look at their pursuers. The Orc was large, much bigger than most of those they had encountered in Moria, and he held a broad-bladed sword in one hand and a shield in the other. On his shield was set a strange device: a white hand in the center of a black field. Seemingly impatient with the failure of the arrows to find their mark, he held his sword aloft and threw it with mighty force through the air. It barely missed Sam by inches, but struck Bill the Pony 3.0 directly, killing the poor creature instantly. Pippin cried out with fear, dropped his oar, and huddled in the corner, senseless to prodding.

TRAVEL:

It’s now time to travel to Sarn Gebir so I can leave this stage in a couple of rounds. I will also exhaust the Warden of Healing to remove 1 damage from Errand-rider.

The arrows soon began to fall away as the fellowship finally left the wooded shoreline behind. They used this opportunity to slow the pace somewhat, but Aragorn was hesitant to give their pursuers any opportunity to close the distance. The hours dragged on without rest and all began to grow weary. However, a rushing sound in the distance brought Boromir to full wakefulness. “Those are the rapids of Sarn Gebir. No boat can live in those waters!”

REFRESH:

Galadriel leaves play at the end of the round.

ROUND 3 (6 threat in staging area, 15/12 progress on 1B, 0 victory points, Active Location – Sarn Gebir [0/4 quest points])

**Staging Area – The Argonath, Uruk-hai Hunter, Uruk-hai Hunter**

DECK ONE PREPARATION (First Player) – 30 threat

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

Draw: Glamdring

New Hand: Sword that was Broken, Gondorian Discipline, Squire of the Citadel, Ethir Swordsman, Escort from Edoras, Gondorian Discipline, Glamdring

Planning: I will pay 2 from Glorfindel for Ethir Swordsman for some further questing power. Boromir has some Tactics resources lying around, so I will use 2 of them to attach Glamdring to him. This sword was certainly awesome (and thematic) with Gandalf, but it will be insane with Boromir, considering his readying ability. He now can attack for 5 every single time and draws a card when an Orc enemy is destroyed. This could get fun.

Resources: Boromir – 1, Glorfindel – 0, Aragorn – 1, Frodo -1

Boromir took over the lead of the convoy. He knew the area well and remembered the stories of a boatman from Ethir back in Minas Tirith about these very rapids. Glamdring hung at his side, and Frodo thought he seemed a noble figure as he propelled the boat forward with all his might. The sword had been recoverd as Gandalf fell and Aragorn had given it to Boromir with a sacred trust sworn to defend the Ring-bearer and the Hobbits with his life. Even with Boromir’s knowledge and strength, the powerful rapids seemed to be pulling the boats forward to their doom..

DECK TWO PREPARATION – 22 threat

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

Draw: Fast Hitch

New Hand: Bofur, Waters of Nimrodel, Frodo’s Intuition, Ithilien Tracker, Waters of Nimrodel, Dagger of Westernesse, Fast Hitch

Planning: Deck Two has a variety of options available thanks to last round’s Frodo’s Intuition. First, I will use Errand-rider to send a resource from Sam to Aragorn, setting up Sword that was Broken for next turn. I then will pay 1 from Pippin to attach Fast Hitch to Mery.

Resources: Merry – 2, Sam – 0, Pippin – 0

Sam hurriedly pulled a trusty coil of rope out of his boat. He had no great love of the water under normal circumstances, so the thought of deadly rapids was terrifying. Surely, his rope might prove useful in reaching the safety of the shore, and he handed it over to Merry, who used it to secure the Hobbits to each other and to the boat itself.

QUESTING:

Committing Characters:

I’ve already put enough progress on the quest stage, so I just need to quest enough to explore Sarn Gebir. The tricky part here is that Sarn Gebir deals 1 damage to each exhausted character after it is explored. This means that I need to commit enough characters to be successful, but I also should hold as many characters back as possible to minimize the damage. Deck One will commit Glorfindel (3 willpower), Frodo (2 willpower), Boromir (1 willpower, raising threat by 1 to ready), and Aragorn (3 willpower)  for a total of 9 willpower. Deck Two will commit Pippin (2 willpower), Merry (2 willpower, use Fast Hitch to ready) and Sam (3 willpower) for a total of 7 willpower. This is a combined total of 16 willpower against 6 threat in the staging area, and I need 4 progress to clear Sarn Gebir.

Staging:

Card 1: Slopes of Amon Hen (3 threat, 3 quest points) – This is a fairly basic location that requires you to engage an enemy (in any staging area) to travel to it. Added threat in the staging area is not ideal, but I’d much rather see this than another enemy.

Card 2: Uruk-hai Archer (44 engagement cost, 2 threat, 4 attack, 1 defense, 4 hit points) [Peril. Toughness 1. Archery 2.] – The Uruk-hai Archer is quite a nasty enemy. Not only does he have archery, but he also forces the player who revealed him to discard an ally. Altogether, this tends to wear down decks over time, especially with multiple copies in play. Deck Two will sadly discard Errand-rider.

Uruk-hai-Archer

Resolution:

16 willpower against 11 threat results in 5 progress. This is enough to clear Sarn Gebir and add 1 more progress token to stage 1B. Sarn Gebir then deals 1 damage to each exhausted character, which means that Aragorn, Frodo, Pippin, and Sam all take 1 damage. I then will immediately exhaust Warden of Healing to remove 1 damage each from Sam and Pippin in an effort to minimize the damage to my more fragile Hobbit heroes.

The strong pull of the rapids nearly pulled the fellowship to their doom. Even as they tried to push for the shoreline, they could feel the boats turning inexorably away from it, heading into the churning water in front of them. A jagged rock jutting from the water dug a severe gash in Aragorn’s arm as he was rowing, while Sam and Pippin were nearly thrown overboard. The rope, however, saved them from this fate and they were left breathing raggedly. There was no time to lose as they needed to keep up with the lead boat, and it was fortunate that Dori was with them to lend his power. Ultimately, the strength and knowledge of Boromir guided the boats to the western shore before they hit the center of the rapids, and they pulled the boats from the water, thankful to have reached safety.

TRAVEL:

There’s no time to waste, as I will move on to The Argonath. The positive aspect of this location is that the combat phase is skipped entirely. Since archery damage is dealt during the combat phase, this means I won’t have to suffer the archery from the Uruk-hai this round.

The-Argonath

Reaching the shore, the fellowship now followed the old portage-way that travelers used to avoid the rapids. The stronger members of the fellowship carried the boats, which were surprisingly light, but the ground proved difficult to traverse. The rest carried the baggage and after a long while of rough going, they finally reached the end of the rapids. Here, the Anduin was calm once more and after a night’s rest, they set out on the river once more. “Soon, we will reach the Gates of Argonath!” cried Aragorn excitedly.

ROUND 4 (9 threat in staging area, 16/12 progress on 1B, 1 victory point, Active Location – The Argonath [0/2 quest points])

**Staging Area – Uruk-hai Hunter, Uruk-hai Hunter, Slopes of Amon Hen, Uruk-hai Archer**

DECK TWO PREPARATION (First Player) – 23 threat

Resources: Merry – 3, Sam – 1, Pippin – 1, Frodo -2

Draw: Warden of Healing

New Hand: Bofur, Waters of Nimrodel, Frodo’s Intuition, Ithilien Tracker, Waters of Nimrodel, Dagger of Westernesse, Warden of Healing

Planning: I will spend 3 Tactics resources to play Bofur. I’m actually not too interested in  his weapon-fetching ability, given that I already have a Dagger of Westernesse in hand, but am more looking to benefit from his strong willpower and attack. Now that I have control over Frodo, this is also a good time to play the other copy of Frodo’s Intuition, boosting the willpower of all of Deck Two’s heroes by 1 until the end of the round and drawing Expert Treasure-hunter, Fast Hitch, Expert Treasure-hunter, and Ithilien Tracker. This is a pretty good draw, as I now have two copies of Expert Treasure-hunter that I can immediately play. I will attach one to Merry (who will usually be questing thanks to Fast Hitch) and one to Glorfindel. Finally, I will pay 1 resource from Pippin to attach the Fast Hitch I drew to Sam. This is important as stage 2 reduces enemy engagement costs to zero, so Sam won’t be able to trigger his usual readying effect.

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

Although the boats drifted along in relative peace, Frodo couldn’t but feel that danger was not far away despite the somewhat idyllic setting. His unease prompted Aragorn and the others to pick up the pace down the river once more. Dori meanwhile was telling the Hobbits about some of his previous adventures, including a less pleasant trip down a river when he had been packed into a barrel. They had heard the story from Bilbo before but not quite in the same way, and they laughed loudly as Dori described his friend Bofur falling helplessly to the ground and refusing to do anything when he was finally let out. Frodo winced at the clamor, but he was also happy to see his friends enjoy themselves for a moment. 

DECK ONE PREPARATION – 32 threat

Resources: Boromir – 2, Glorfindel – 1, Aragorn – 3

Draw: Galadriel’s Handmaiden

New Hand: Sword that was Broken, Gondorian Discipline, Squire of the Citadel, Escort from Edoras, Gondorian Discipline, Galadriel’s Handmaiden

Planning: The main order of business here is to get Sword that was Broken on the table, and I will pay 3 from Aragorn to attach it to him.

Resources: Boromir – 2, Glorfindel – 1, Aragorn – 0

Now that the rapids were behind them, Aragorn took the lead once more. The land of Gondor was before them, and he could feel the call of his blood and his destiny ahead as well, harnessed to its finest point in the sword at his hip. The sword that was broken had been reforged as Anduril, and the kingdom that had been rent in two would be one again as well.

QUESTING:

Committing Characters:

There’s a fine balance to be reached here, as I need to leave as many characters back as I can in order to prepare for the enemy onslaught of stage 2. On the other hand, there is a sizable 9 threat in the staging area already and I need to make sure that I at least get the 2 progress I need to clear The Argonath. Deck Two has the benefit of +1 willpower to all heroes from Frodo’s Intuition until the end of the round. It will commit Frodo (3 willpower), Merry (3 willpower, using Fast Hitch to ready), Sam (4 willpower) and Pippin (3 willpower) for a total of 13 willpower. I will leave Sam back in order to deal with combat. Deck One now has a permanent willpower bonus thanks to Sword that was Broken, and it will commit Glorfindel (4 willpower), Boromir (2 willpower), and the Ethir Swordsman (3 willpower)  for a total of 9 willpower. Altogether, I have committed 22 willpower against 9 threat in the staging area.

Staging

Card 1: Slopes of Amon Hen (3 threat, 3 quest points) – Another copy of this location in the staging area, but I should soon be able to start getting rid of these.

Card 2: Uruk-hai Archer (44 engagement cost, 2 threat, 4 attack, 1 defense, 4 hit points) [Peril. Toughness 1. Archery 2.] – I was hoping to avoid another enemy and the Archer was definitely not one that I wanted to see. Deck One will have to deal with the ally discard, which means getting rid of the Ethir Swordsman. This is a shame, as it deprives me of some willpower, but the number of enemies that are about to engage right now is my real concern.

Resolution:

Losing my Ethir Swordsman means that my total willpower committed to the quest is 19. After staging, there is 14 threat in the staging area. This gives me 5 progress, which is enough to clear The Argonath and advance to the next stage! Stage 2 – The Company Divided first removes Frodo and all of his attachments from the game. Then, all enemy engagement costs are reduced to zero until the end of the encounter phase. I also am barred from travel, which means I won’t be able to clear some of the threat out just yet. Finally, at the end of the round, the decks will be broken up into separate stage 3’s. (As a final note, I was able to trigger Expert Treasure-hunter for both decks but whiffed in both cases.)

The-Company-Divided-2A

The boats began to pick up speed as the river increased its own pace. Looking ahead, Frodo could see two great rocks in the distance, rapidly approaching them on either side. “Behold the Argonath!” cried Aragorn. Kingly he looked and proud, as they neared the gates of Gondor. Frodo now saw that the rocks were not rocks at all, but statues of colossal size, shaped in the likeness of two great men. Boromir bowed his head respectfully, while the Hobbits seemed to cower in awe and fear as the figures rose to unimaginable heights beside them, blocking out the forgotten sun. “Fear not!” shouted Aragorn over the rush of the water. “These are the likenesses of my sires of old, Isildur and Anarion. Leave your dread behind.” Sam, however, was merely grateful when they left the Argonath and finally pulled the boats up on the western shore once more.

After a night’s rest, Aragorn called them together in the morning.

“Now, Frodo, I’m afraid the burden is on you to decide. Which way shall we turn? Shall we continue the journey east into Mordor? Or shall we turn West to the white city of Minas Tirith?”

Frodo felt racked by indecision mingled with fear. “I fear that I cannot yet choose,” he replied. “Give me an hour to decide, and I will return with my decision. But I need to be alone to think!” 

“You shall have your hour, Frodo, son of Drogo,” Aragorn answered. “We will remain here. But do not walk too far in your musings. This place hopefully still remains free of evil but we cannot trust that the enemy has been left behind forever.”

Frodo wandered off into the woods while Sam looked on with concern. Pippin watched him intently as well, driven by some unseen thoughts. The others began to clean up and prepare themselves for the next stage of the journey, wherever it might lead.

ENCOUNTER:

There are four enemies to deal with here: two copies of the Uruk-hai Hunter and two copies of the Uruk-hai Archer. Managing this engagement and the subsequent combat will be crucial in deciding victory and defeat. I don’t have as many characters available and the strong offensive and defensive capabilities I would want at this point. Boromir, for example, is sorely lacking his Gondorian Shield or any other defensive boost, while Deck Two has a marked lack of capable defenders at this point, especially with Sam not being able to make use of his stat boost ability due to the enemy engagement costs being set to zero. Still, I’ll have to figure out a way to deal with the situation or perish in the attempt. Since all enemies have the same engagement cost at the moment, I can essentially decide which order to check their engagement and which enemies will engage with which deck. I will have Deck Two take on the Uruk-hai Hunters, while Deck One will engage the Uruk-hai Archers. This is largely because Deck One has better attack power at the moment and the Archers are slightly more difficult to kill.

After many long minutes, Pippin walked into the woods following the path Frodo had taken. Sam sat and thought and pondered what he should do, and finally, feeling like he couldn’t sit one more minute without setting out to see if his master was alright, he set off into the woods as well. If Pippin was willing to look in after Frodo, if that was what he was doing, then Sam knew that he should be there too. Seeing Sam get up, Merry joined him as well. Sam was worried that Frodo might be in danger or worse, that he might try something foolish like setting off on his own. They couldn’t find Frodo’s trail easily and they stopped to try to look for clues. As they did so, heavy footfalls could be heard crunching in the leaves. Sam looked in horror at Sting, which was glowing bright blue. Two large Orcs crashed into sight ahead of them. Meanwhile, those who had stayed back at camp were taking a moment to rest, but this was ruthlessly shattered by arrows falling among them from the trees just behind.

COMBAT:

First, I have to deal four points of archery damage from the two copies of Uruk-hair Archer. I will deal 1 damage to Glorfindel, 1 to Pippin, and 2 to Bofur.

Enemy Attack:

Deck Two is in a tough place defensively. Both enemies have 4 attack, which would be enough to destroy Merry or Bofur outright. Sam could take one of these attacks (assuming no attack boosts from shadow effects, which are present in the encounter deck), but the other would probably have to be absorbed by a Bofur sacrifice. The problem is that I wouldn’t have enough attack power left to destroy at least one of the Hunters, which would leave the deck in a tough spot going forward. Therefore, as much as it pains me to do so, I will use the Phial of Galadriel to reduce both Uruk-hai Hunter’s attack by 4. It seems a real shame and slightly ludicrous to use such a powerful tool right after receiving it! Yet, it seems the best option and I’ll just have to risk missing it in some future scenario. Thus, I will take both attacks undefended, with each Uruk-hai Hunter having 0 attack. Fortunately, both shadow cards are harmless and I take no damage.

Deck One will ready Boromir and defend against the first Archer’s attack. The shadow card is Eaten Alive!, which deals 1 automatic damage. He then would take a further 2 damage from the attack (4 attack – 2 damage), but I will use Gondorian Discipline to cancel this damage. I then will use Aragorn to defend against the second Archer’s attack. He will take some damage from this attack, but it gives me the opportunity to deal some damage back through Anduril while preserving Boromir’s hit points for the future. The shadow card boosts the Archer’s attack by 1 and Aragorn takes 3 damage (5 attack – 2 defense = 3 damage). He will immediately strike back to deal 2 damage (4 attack – 1 defense = 3 damage, reduced to 2 by toughness).

Player Attack:

Merry will attack back to destroy an Uruk-hai Hunter (6 attack – 1 defense = 5 damage, reduced to 4 by toughness). Sam (1 attack) and Bofur (2 attack) will team up to deal 1 damage to the other one (3 attack – 1 defense = 2 damage, reduced to 1 by toughness). On the other side, Boromir will ready to attack and destroy the already damaged Archer (5 attack – 1 defense = 4 damage, reduced to 3 by toughness). He then draws Faramir with Glamdring. Boromir (5 attack) will then ready once more and team up with Glorfindel (3 attack) to destroy the other Archer (8 attack – 1 defense = 7 damage, reduced to 6 by toughness). Boromir draws Arwen Undomiel through Glamdring, which is perfect, as I now will have at least some kind of defensive boost for him. I will lastly exhaust a Warden of Healing to remove 1 damage each from Boromir and Aragorn.

Merry brandished his dagger, but these were not the Orcs of Moria and could not be easily cowed or killed. They towered over the Hobbits and held wicked looking swords. They charged forward and a grim and dark fate seemed certain. Without thinking, Sam reacted and pulled the phial given to him by Galadriel. Its bright light seemed to explode forward, as if reacting to the presence of the Orcs, blinding them so terribly that they dropped to their knees. Merry wasted no time and buried his dagger into one of them, while Sam and Dori, who had caught up with the Hobbits just in time, concerned as he was for their safety, tackled the other, stabbing it once. 

Meanwhile, two large Orcs strode onto the shoreline from the woods, throwing down their bows of yew and drawing swords, ready to attack the camp. Boromir leaped to his feet and blocked the strike of one with Glamdring, while Aragorn took on the other. The latter Orc had a brutal cunning, and as Anduril moved to parry his strike, he quickly drew a dagger with the other hand and slashed cruelly at Aragorn’s side. The metal bit deep into the flesh. Aragorn, however, pushed past the pain and struck back, severing the Orc’s left hand. Boromir used his great strength to push his assailant back and then cleaved its head from its neck in one smooth blow. Turning quickly, he charged forward at the Orc battling Aragorn, just as Glorfindel reached the fray as one. With two quick strikes, the Orc was laid low.

REFRESH:

At the end of the round, Frodo’s Choice and the Seat of Seeing are shuffled into the encounter discard pile, which is then placed at the bottom of the encounter deck. Each player now has to create their own staging area and advance to a stage 3 of their choice. Deck One will choose the Orc Hunting stage, as it has the willpower to ensure that the effect should trigger each round, and discarding an enemy engaged with a player each round is a deal that is too good to pass up. Deck Two will choose Guard the Hobbits in order to potentially access some extra readying. I also have to move each card in the staging area one-by-one to the different staging area. This basically means that each deck will have to deal with a copy of Slopes of Amon Hen. Finally, since both staging areas have fewer than 4 threat, each will have to reveal an additional encounter card. Deck Two gets an Uruk-hai Tracker (33 engagement cost, 1 threat, 3 attack, 1 defense, 3 hit points) [Surge. Toughness 1. Archery 1.], which unfortunately surges into another encounter card. This is Orcs of the White Hand, which basically results in just removing the 1 damage from the Uruk-hai Hunter engaged with Deck Two. That was a lucky turn. Deck One’s reveal is also an Uruk-hai Tracker, which surges into an Uruk-hai Captain (36 engagement cost, 3 threat, 5 attack, 2 defense, 3 hit points) [Toughness.] That was a tough set of reveals!

With the Orcs dispatched, Aragorn called out in fear, “Frodo! Frodo!”. There was no response, except for the clear sounds of many heavy feet crashing through the woods. “We must find him quickly,” Glorfindel said. “And fear it is not too late.” Aragorn led the way forward, with the others close behind. “We leave no Orc alive that we find!” commanded Aragorn. “As any that lives to draw breath may bring doom to the Ring-bearer.”

Meanwhile, the Hobbits and Dori could see movement and shapes in the trees around them, quickly circling in. The Orc that had been taken to the ground stood again with a gruesome mockery of a smile on its face. They made a break for it through the trees, heading for an opening, but after several minutes of running, they ran into another horde of the foul creatures, and they began to be encircled once more. The Hobbits and Dori backed into a protective circle facing each direction.

* Note: For simplicity’s sake, from this point forward, I’m going to cover each deck’s turn separately. While this is not how the quest should actually be played, with each player completing an entire turn before the next player completes theirs, and while this is not how I played the actual scenario, it’s much cleaner and far less confusing to present it this way. 

ROUND 5 – Deck One (7 threat in staging area, -/- progress on 3B – Orc Hunting, 5 victory points, Active Location – None)

**Staging Area – Slopes of Amon Hen, Uruk-hai Tracker, Uruk-hai Captain**

DECK ONE PREPARATION (First Player) – 36 threat

Resources: Boromir – 3, Glorfindel – 2, Aragorn – 1

Draw: Elrond’s Counsel

New Hand: Squire of the Citadel, Escort from Edoras, Gondorian Discipline, Galadriel’s Handmaiden, Faramir, Arwen Undomiel, Elrond’s Counsel

Planning: Arwen is the main star of the show here, as she can boost Boromir’s defense up to 3 and give him sentinel. Unlike other quests that separate players into different staging areas, this scenario still allows for the use of sentinel, so Arwen will be crucial in helping Boromir provide defense for both decks. I will also pay 1 resource from Aragorn for Squire of the Citadel. This cheap ally can serve as a chump blocker to deal with the combat demands of the upcoming round.

Resources: Boromir – 3, Glorfindel – 0, Aragorn – 0

Arwen followed close behind the others into the woods. Although Aragorn feared for her safety, he knew that her experience and Elven eyes could prove invaluable in hunting the Orcs and, more importantly, finding Frodo. A figure came suddenly rushing at them from just ahead, and Boromir nearly attacked without thinking, before checking himself when he saw it was not an Orc, but rather a messenger from his father in Minas Tirith. “I’ve been sent to find you!” he called excitedly.

QUESTING:

Committing Characters:

I’m facing 7 threat in the staging area and need to make sure that I quest successfully so that I can trigger the quest card effect and discard an enemy engaged with a player. Fortunately, Deck One still has the help of Sword that was Broken. I will commit Glorfindel (4 willpower), Arwen (3 willpower, +1 defense and sentinel to Boromir), Boromir (2 willpower), and Aragorn (4 willpower)  for a total of 13 willpower.

Staging:

Card 1: River Anduin (2 threat, 5 quest points) – This location is rather interesting as it actually moves between staging areas as long as it is not the active location (as well as raising threat). I’m extremely glad not to see another enemy appear.

Resolution:

My 13 willpower against 9 threat will definitely be enough to be successful in questing, but I will also play Elrond’s Counsel to reduce my threat by 3 and add an additional point of willpower. This means I will make 5 progress, which translates into 5 cards discarded from the top of the encounter deck. I can also trigger the quest card response, which I will use to discard the Uruk-hai Hunter engaged with Deck Two. Finally, I will trigger Expert Treasure-hunter and guess attachment, drawing a Gondorian Shield! This is exactly what I was looking for and should ensure that my defensive situation is locked down.

Aragorn quickly found signs of Hobbits passing through the woods and followed them swiftly, with the others just behind. They soon came across the fallen body of an Orc. Just beyond was another Orc who was standing, nursing a wound in its side. Its back was turned away from them, as it looked to be on guard, and Aragorn crept stealthily up behind it and brought it lifeless to the ground in an instant. 

TRAVEL:

Deck One will travel to the River Anduin, as I don’t Deck Two’s staging area to get clogged up with threat, especially considering that is it under greater pressure at the moment and doesn’t have as much questing power.

After dispatching the Orc, they heard a crashing in the river to their right, and they rushed towards it, fearing the worst.

ENCOUNTER:

I will leave the Uruk-hai Captain in the staging area for now (which I can do thanks to the threat reduction from Elrond’s Counsel), but I will engage the Uruk-hai Tracker.

As they cleared the trees and reached the river, they could see the source of the commotion. It wasn’t one of their companions after all, merely an Orc wading through the water.

COMBAT:

I have to resolve the 1 point of archery damage on the Tracker, which I will place on Arwen.

Enemy Attack:

I will use the Squire of the Citadel to defend against the Uruk-hai Tracker, mainly in order to get an extra resource and to help protect my heroes against further damage, while minimizing threat increases from Boromir until I really need it. The Squire is destroyed (3 attack – 2 defense = 1 damage), and I will place the resource he generates on Boromir. The shadow effect unfortunately moves the Tracker back to Deck One’s staging area, preventing my wrath from being unleashed.

The Orc tracker quickly raised his bow and let fly two arrows in quick succession. The first painfully grazed Arwen’s arm, while the second buried itself in the Gondor messenger’s chest. The poor youth crumpled to the ground. Boromir was enraged by the sight and charged straight at the Orc, but the creature kicked water and dirt up into the air, blinding him temporarily, and then it dashed off into the woods. Aragorn led the others in furious pursuit.

ROUND 5 – Deck Two (4 threat in staging area, -/- progress on 3B – Guard the Hobbits, 5 victory points, Active Location – None)

**Staging Area – Slopes of Amon Hen, Uruk-hai Tracker**

DECK TWO PREPARATION – 24 threat

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

Draw: Hobbit Cloak

New Hand: Waters of Nimrodel, Ithilien Tracker, Waters of Nimrodel, Dagger of Westernesse, Warden of Healing, Ithilien Tracker, Hobbit Cloak

Planning: The draw of Hobbit Cloak could not have come at a more perfect time, as it gives Deck Two a sorely needed defensive option, which means I won’t have to lean on Boromir quite as much. Therefore, I will pay 1 from Sam for the Cloak, attaching it to him. Now that I’m in the thick of combat, I will also pay 1 for Merry to attach a second Dagger of Westernesse to him.

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

As the Orcs circled closer, Sam brought his cloak closer around him, feeling comfort from its presence, while Merry pulled a second dagger from his belt. 

QUESTING:

Committing Characters:

I’m not quite as worried about being able to trigger Deck Two’s quest card response as I am with Deck One’s enemy discard. The reason is that both decks already have relatively decent action advantage. I don’t want to let stuff pile up in the staging area, though, or suffer a bunch of threat increases. Therefore, I will commit Merry (2 willpower, using Fast Hitch to ready), Sam (3 willpower) and Pippin (2 willpower) for a total of 7 willpower.

Staging:

Card 1: Fallen Into Evil – Oh, what cruel fate! This treachery attaches to a hero and transforms them into an enemy. Unfortunately, I have no treachery cancellation available, so there’s nothing I can to stop this from happening. This is actually the first time that Fallen Into Evil has successfully resolved against me, so I am a bit morbidly curious to see how this play out, but not necessarily when I am engaged in a campaign playthrough! I do have Elrond available in the deck, so if I can draw him, then I can get rid of this attachment, which will be necessary if I don’t want another hero on the Fallen Hero list. The only bright side here is that Fallen Into Evil has hit Deck Two rather than Deck One, as having a character like Boromir or Glorfindel or Aragorn become an enemy could have been devastating, given their high stats. As it is, I will have to choose Pippin to fall into evil and he will be moved to Deck One’s staging area.

Fallen-Into-Evil

Resolution:

Although the rules are not entirely clear on this point, I will treat Pippin’s willpower as being removed from the quest, since he has become an enemy. This means that I have 5 willpower committed against 4 threat in the staging area. I can discard a single card from the encounter deck and will trigger the quest card response on Guard the Hobbits, readying all Deck One heroes (which basically means readying Boromir and Aragorn.

* Note: I left Pippin’s presence out of Deck One’s report for round 5, as I didn’t want to ruin the surprise until Fallen Into Evil actually showed up. Rest assured that everything took place as it should have, and things like Pippin’s threat of 2 and his presence during combat against Deck One did take place (Boromir defended against Pippin with no shadow effect, while Deck One actually made 2 fewer progress than I actually mentioned in the report). Sorry, I lied a little, but it was for a good cause!

Frodo had wandered in the woods for awhile after leaving the others, until he found the ground under him sloping upwards. He walked on until he came to a grassy place, in the middle of which was a wide, flat stone. Frodo sat upon the stone, cupping his chin in his hands, and staring out eastward. The mighty roar of the Rauros falls could be heard, but not much else.

As he sat, gripped with indecision, or perhaps just the fear to take the direction he knew would be needed, he heard a sudden rustling. Looking up quickly, he saw that it was only Pippin. The Hobbit looked sheepish to have startled Frodo and gave him a small smile as he walked to the stone and stab beside him.

“I was afraid for you, Frodo,” Pippin explained. “With Orcs about, you shouldn’t go wandering off so far on your own. But now that I’m here, perhaps I can help you with your decision.”

“That’s kind of you, Pippin,” Frodo replied. “But I fear that nothing will help me make my choice, for I know what must be done, I’m just afraid to do it.”

“It’s strange that so many should suffer for such a small thing.”

Pippin’s tone took Frodo by surprise. Pippin suddenly stood again as if possessed by some strange fire.

“It’s been so long since I got a glance of it. Could I look at it for just a moment?”

Frodo’s heart turned cold despite himself. He looked at Pippin and it was as if he was looking at a stranger, rather than a friend. “It is best that it remain hidden.”

“Why do you treat me with suspicion, Frodo?” Pippin said, and his words were laced with a sudden bitterness and anger. “I have walked through countless dangers and stood by your side and suffered and bled, all for your sake. I don’t think you should treat me so ill.”

Frodo relented and he felt a pang of guilt. “I am sorry. It is not that I don’t trust you, but Gandalf warned me to always keep it out of sight.”

“And now Gandalf has fallen. His life was taken by this quest. How many more of us will fall? How many?” He began pacing back and forth, and Frodo’s unease returned. “All of these wise wizards and Elves have set you on this task, but I say it is impossible, Frodo. Don’t you see? To walk into Mordor? You will just deliver it…you will just deliver yourself into His hands. All shall fade and all shall fail.”

“I have never heard you speak like this,” Frodo said. “And I do not like the sound of it. Where is my friend from the Shire? What would you have me do?”

“Leave this place. We can fling the Ring into the sea and go back home. I know the burden must wear on you. Lend the ring to me! I will carry it for you and we can leave all of this strife behind.”

“No!” Frodo cried, clutching something beneath his shirt. “The Council laid this task upon me and the Ring is mine to bear!”

“You are a fool! And you are no friend of mine!” Pippin shouted. “You will run heedless to your death and the Enemy will cover the world in darkness. Not even the Shire will be safe from your folly!”

Hot tears began to burn down Frodo’s face. “You do not know what you say…”

“I will not let you destroy us all in your selfishness!” Pippin lunged forward, groping for the Ring. Frodo dodged aside and Pippin fell heavily to the ground. 

Without thinking, Frodo slipped on the Ring and disappeared from view. Pippin called out, “I see your mind! You mean to deliver the Ring to Sauron!”

TRAVEL:

I will travel to the Slopes of Amon Hen, engaging the Uruk-hai Tracker in Deck Two’s staging area to satisfy the travel cost. This readies Sam and gives him a boost to his stats. Now the staging area is completely free.

Sam, Merry, and Dori found themselves making their stand on sloping ground, reaching up towards the hill that Aragorn had named as Amon Hen. As the Orcs closed in, one took the lead, rushing forward with its bow held aloft.

COMBAT:

I need to assign 1 point of archery damage from the Uruk-hai Tracker, which I will place on Merry (1/2 hit points remaining).

Enemy Attack:

Sam will defend against the Uruk-hai Tracker, and the shadow card is another Tracker, which forces an attachment I control to be discarded. I will get rid of the Expert Treasure-hunter on Merry. Sam takes no damage from the attack (3 attack – 4 defense = 0 damage).

Player Attack:

Sam (2 attack) will use Fast Hitch to ready and then will join Merry (7 attack) in completely destroying the Uruk-hai Tracker (9 attack – 1 defense = 8 damage, reduced to 7 by toughness). To end the combat phase, I will use Warden of Healing to remove 1 damage each from Aragorn and Merry.

The Orc let fly an arrow, which lodged itself in Merry’s cloak. It then threw the bow aside and rushed forward with a sword held aloft. Sam used his nimble feet to dodge one way, while Merry circled around the other side. This left them both at the Orc’s back, and they buried their daggers into its exposed flesh.

ROUND 6 – Deck Two (0 threat in staging area, -/- progress on 3B – Guard the Hobbits, 5 victory points, Active Location – Slopes of Amon Hen [0/3 quest points])

**Staging Area – None**

DECK TWO PREPARATION (First Player) – 25 threat

Resources: Merry – 1, Sam – 2

Draw: Beorn

New Hand: Waters of Nimrodel, Ithilien Tracker, Waters of Nimrodel, Warden of Healing, Ithilien Tracker, Beorn

Planning: It’s a shame that I don’t have Sneak Attack available now that I’ve drawn Beorn. I will just have to concentrate on trying to build up enough resources to pay for him normally. Speaking of Sneak Attack, I will really need to draw this key event in addition to Elrond, as the problem is that without Pippin’s Lore resources, I now can’t pay for the one card that is his final hope, so sneaking Elrond into play is my one chance. Unfortunately, I have neither available at the moment, and will be lacking Pippin’s card draw as well. As it is, I won’t be doing any planning, as I’m stuck with five out of six cards in my hand being Lore, which I can’t play.

Resources: Merry – 1, Sam – 2

QUESTING:

Committing Characters:

There’s nothing in the staging area, but I will commit Merry (2 willpower, using Fast Hitch to ready), Bofur (2 willpower) and Sam (3 willpower) and for a total of 7 willpower.

Staging:

Card 1: River Anduin (2 threat, 5 quest points) – I’m pleased and could handle this all day.

Resolution:

7 willpower against 2 threat yields 5 progress, which is enough to explore the Slopes of Amon Hen and discard 2 cards from the encounter deck. I will trigger the quest card response to ready all of Deck One’s heroes.

With one Orc killed so quickly, the others paused for a moment, which gave the Hobbits and Dori a chance to run back towards the river, hoping to meet up with the rest of the fellowship.

TRAVEL:

I will now travel to the River Anduin.

Rushing back to the site of their hasty camp along the river, the Hobbits found it deserted.

ROUND 6 – Deck One (7 threat in staging area, -/- progress on 3B – Orc Hunting, 5 victory points, Active Location – River Anduin [0/5 quest points])

**Staging Area – Slopes of Amon Hen, Uruk-hai Tracker, Uruk-hai Captain**

DECK ONE PREPARATION – 34 threat

Resources: Boromir – 5, Glorfindel – 1, Aragorn – 1

Draw: Steward of Gondor

New Hand: Escort from Edoras, Gondorian Discipline, Galadriel’s Handmaiden, Faramir, Gondorian Shield, Steward of Gondor

Planning: The main order of business here is to pay 1 resource from Boromir to attach the Gondorian Shield to him. Together with Arwen, I now should have a good hold on any defensive needs for the rest of the game.

Resources: Boromir – 4, Glorfindel – 1, Aragorn – 1

QUESTING:

Committing Characters:

Deck One will commit Glorfindel (4 willpower), Arwen (3 willpower, +1 defense and sentinel to Boromir), Boromir (2 willpower), and Aragorn (4 willpower)  for a total of 13 willpower.

Staging:

Card 1: Black Feathered Arrows – Deck One only has one ally on the table, Arwen, so this treachery isn’t the worst draw I could have had.

Resolution:

13 willpower against 7 threat in the staging area results in 6 progress. This is enough to explore the River Anduin and discard one card from the encounter. I can’t trigger the Orc Hunting response, as unfortunately neither deck has an enemy that is currently engaged with them.

As Aragorn followed the Orc tracker into the woods, black feathered arrows darted out from just ahead.

TRAVEL:

I will travel to Slopes of Amon Hen, engaging the Uruk-hai Tracker to satisfy the travel cost.

ENCOUNTER:

I will leave the Uruk-hai Captain where he is for the moment, as there’s no real incentive to get him out of the staging area.

COMBAT:

Facing 1 archery damage from Black Feathered Arrows and 1 from the Tracker, I will place both points of damage on Glorfindel (2/5 hit points remaining).

Enemy Attack:

All of my heroes are ready, as Boromir and Aragorn were readied by Deck One as a result of the Guard the Hobbits response. Boromir will defend against the Uruk-hai Tracker, taking no damage (3 attack – 5 defense = 0 damage). I will take Pippin’s attack undefended, as I don’t want to waste a point of threat on readying Boromir, placing the 1 damage on Boromir.

Player Attack:

Glorfindel (4 attack) and Aragorn (4 attack) will combine to destroy the Tracker (8 attack – 1 defense = 7 damage, reduced to 6 by toughness).

One of the Orc’s arrows struck Glorfindel squarely in the chest, but the Elf’s armor absorbed most of the blow. The pain was intense, but the arrow had fortunately been turned aside. Too late, the Orc realized that the pause required to loose its arrows could prove fatal and it turned to flee once more, but Aragorn and Glorfindel quickly closed the distance and cut it down. However, just at that moment, a small shape came upon them from the shadows slashing at Boromir’s leg with a sharp blade. Boromir used his strength to toss the creature to the ground, and when it gained its feet once more, they saw it was Pippin! The Hobbit’s eyes had a glazed look and madness was in them. “Where is Frodo?!” he cried. “You are in league with him. All of you!” And with that, he dashed off into the woods before they could stop him. Boromir moved to pursue Pippin, but Aragorn stopped him. “We must find Frodo first. This day has a dark doom about it, and I fear for the Ring-bearer’s safety. We can tend to Pippin aftewards.”

ROUND 7 – Deck One (3 threat in staging area, -/- progress on 3B – Orc Hunting, 5 victory points, Active Location – Slopes of Amon Hen [0/3 quest points])

**Staging Area – Uruk-hai Captain**

DECK ONE PREPARATION (First Player) – 35 threat

Resources: Boromir – 5, Glorfindel – 2, Aragorn – 2

Draw: Gondorian Discipline

New Hand: Escort from Edoras, Gondorian Discipline, Galadriel’s Handmaiden, Faramir, Steward of Gondor, Gondorian Discipline

Planning: It’s a bit late in the game, but never too late to put Steward of Gondor on the table. I will therefore pay 2 to attach the Steward to Aragorn, immediately exhausting it to gain 2 resources back. Then, Glorfindel will pay 2 to play Galadriel’s Handmaiden, lowering Deck One’s threat by 1 to 34.

Resources: Boromir – 5, Glorfindel – 0, Aragorn – 2

The temptation to despair was great, with Orcs swarming the area and Frodo nowhere in sight. However, Aragorn felt the pull of resolve anchored by the destiny that awaited him in this land, and he also took comfort in Glorfindel standing by his side, an Elf of boundless experience.

QUESTING:

Committing Characters:

Deck One will commit Glorfindel (4 willpower), Arwen (3 willpower, +1 defense and sentinel to Boromir), Galadriel’s Handmaiden (3 willpower), and Aragorn (4 willpower)  for a total of 14 willpower.

Staging:

Card 1Uruk-hai Archer (44 engagement cost, 1 threat, 4 attack, 1 defense, 4 hit points) [Peril. Toughness 1. Archery 1.] – Galadriel’s Handmaiden, we hardly knew ye! Not willing to lose Arwen, I will unfortunately discard the Handmaiden to satisfy the Archer’s “when revealed” effect.

Resolution:

11 willpower (taking into account the loss of the Handmaiden) against 4 threat yields 7 progress. This successfully explores Slopes of Amon Hen and discards 4 more cards from the encounter deck. I will then trigger Orc Hunting’s effect to discard an Uruk-hai Tracker engaged with Deck Two (this becomes engaged as a result of Deck Two’s staging during this round). Finally, I will trigger Expert Treasure-hunter, guessing “event” and drawing Elrond’s Counsel.

Regaining his bearings, Aragorn led the group towards the slopes of Amon Hen, guided by intuition and reasoning that Frodo might have fled there if he was pursued. Several Orcs stood in their path. One let loose an arrow directly at them, barely missing Glorfindel’s head, while another seemed hot on the trail of something or someone. Seeing this, Aragorn left the archer to the others and sprinted to catch up with the tracker, tackling it to the ground and killing it quickly.

ENCOUNTER:

Deck One will engage with the Uruk-hai Archer, leaving the Uruk-hai Captain where he is once more.

COMBAT:

Deck One will take 1 archery damage from the Archer, which I will place on Glorfindel (1/5 hit points remaining).

Enemy Attack:

All of my heroes are ready, as Boromir and Aragorn were readied by Deck One as a result of the Guard the Hobbits response. Boromir will defend against the Uruk-hai Archer, taking no damage (4 attack – 5 defense = 0 damage). I will take Pippin’s attack undefended, as I don’t want to waste a point of threat on readying Boromir, placing the 1 damage on Boromir.

Player Attack:

Glorfindel (4 attack) and Aragorn (4 attack) will combine to destroy the Archer (8 attack – 1 defense = 7 damage, reduced to 6 by toughness).

The archer sent another arrow at Glorfindel and it tore through the Elf’s hand. He let out a cry of surprise and pain and dropped one of his swords. However, this was not enough to stop him, and the Orc archer soon felt the wrath of the Elf, who quickly brought it down with a few well-placed strikes with his good hand. The Orc wasn’t willing to go down without a fight, and thrust upwards with a hidden dagger. Boromir, however, spotted the attack in time and smote it aside with his shield. Stunned, the Orc tried to stand, but Aragorn arrived to finish the fight.

ROUND 7 – Deck Two (0 threat in staging area, -/- progress on 3B – Guard the Hobbits, 5 victory points, Active Location – River Anduin [0/5 quest points])

**Staging Area – None**

DECK TWO PREPARATION – 26 threat

Resources: Merry – 2, Sam – 3

Draw: Hobbit Cloak

New Hand: Waters of Nimrodel, Ithilien Tracker, Waters of Nimrodel, Warden of Healing, Ithilien Tracker, Beorn, Hobbit Cloak

Planning: Drawing Hobbit Cloak is no great boon, as I already have one attached to Sam, yet I have nothing else to play at the moment, so I will pay 1 to attach the Cloak to Merry as an emergency option, which I may just need with only two heroes available.

Resources: Merry – 2, Sam – 2

QUESTING:

Committing Characters:

I will commit Merry (2 willpower, using Fast Hitch to ready) and Sam (3 willpower) and for a total of 5 willpower. I’ve decided to hold back Bofur for potential combat duties.

Staging:

Card 1.1: Followed by Night [Peril. Surge.] – This burden treachery forces me to take the topmost enemy from the encounter discard pile and put it into play engaged with Deck Two. This turns out to be an Uruk-hai Tracker, and the engagement readies Sam and boosts his stats for the remainder of the round.

Followed-by-Night

Card 1.2: Slopes of Amon Hen (3 threat, 3 quest points) – This location does bring some threat to the staging area, which means I won’t be able to clear the active location this round, but I’m not too concerned…yet.

Resolution:

My 5 willpower against 3 threat will only result in two points of progress on River Anduin. Since I quested successfully, I do get to trigger the quest card response on Guard the Hobbits in order to ready Deck One’s heroes. Deck One used its own quest card response to discard the Uruk-hai Tracker engaged with Deck Two as a result of Followed by Night. This means that there will be no combat again for Deck Two. I will exhaust Warden of Healing to remove 1 damage each from Aragorn and Glorfindel.

Sam and Merry and Dori paused to consider where the others might have gone. Suddenly, Sam spied a small, crouched shape in the trees just behind them. It was far too small to be an Orc, but didn’t quite seem natural either, not like a Hobbit at least. Still, sudden hope burst into his heart. “Mr. Frodo?” He called out. The shape disappeared quickly back into the shadows. Sam charged forth after it. “No, Sam!” Merry cried, trying to stop him, but it to no avail. In his frantic searching, Sam grew careless, and looking up from the ground he found himself face to face with a large Orc. It was holding a large sword and came stomping towards him. Sam ran as fast as he could, heading back towards the slopes of Amon Hen, with the Orc in pursuit. After several minutes of running, he could no longer hear footfalls behind, and he turned to find that the Orc was nowhere to be found.

ROUND 8 – Deck Two (3 threat in staging area, -/- progress on 3B – Guard the Hobbits, 5 victory points, Active Location – River Anduin [2/5 quest points])

**Staging Area – Slopes of Amon Hen**

DECK TWO PREPARATION (First Player) – 27 threat

Resources: Merry – 3, Sam – 3

Draw: Unseen Strike

New Hand: Waters of Nimrodel, Ithilien Tracker, Waters of Nimrodel, Warden of Healing, Ithilien Tracker, Beorn, Unseen Strike

Planning: There will be no planning for Deck Two this round, and I’m growing concerned that Sneak Attack and Elrond won’t show up.

Resources: Merry – 3, Sam – 3

QUESTING:

Committing Characters:

I will commit Merry (2 willpower, using Fast Hitch to ready), Bofur (2 willpower) and Sam (3 willpower) and for a total of 7 willpower. This time around, I need to overcome the threat in the staging area and try to clear out River Anduin.

Staging:

Card 1: Black Feathered Arrows – I only have two allies (Bofur and Warden of Healing) at this stage, so this treachery is a bit harmless at the moment. More importantly, it doesn’t add threat to the staging area.

Resolution:

7 willpower against 3 threat yields 4 progress. This finishes exploring River Anduin and discards 1 card from the encounter deck. I will trigger the Guard the Hobbits response to ready Deck One’s heroes (Aragorn).

Merry and Dori found Sam panting heavily on the slopes of Amon Hen. They had seen signs of battle throughout the woods, but no clue as to what had befell their companions. Any hints of weariness were shoved away as more arrows flew at them from the woods below.

TRAVEL:

Unfortunately, I will leave the Slopes of Amon Hen where they are, as I would rather not have Deck Two take on the Uruk-hai Captain in Deck One’s staging area.

COMBAT:

I will place the 2 points of archery from Black Feathered Arrows on Merry and Sam. Then, I will use the Warden of Healing to remove damage from Sam and Glorfindel.

ROUND 8 – Deck One (3 threat in staging area, -/- progress on 3B – Orc Hunting, 5 victory points, Active Location – None)

**Staging Area – Uruk-hai Captain**

DECK ONE PREPARATION – 35 threat

Resources: Boromir – 6, Glorfindel – 1, Aragorn – 5 (with Steward included)

Draw: Valiant Sacrifice

New Hand: Escort from Edoras, Gondorian Discipline, Faramir, Gondorian Discipline, Elrond’s Counsel, Valiant Sacrifice

Planning: With excess Leadership resources available, it’s now time to try to push forward towards victory by playing Faramir.

Resources: Boromir – 6, Glorfindel – 1, Aragorn – 1

Faramir came up on Aragorn and the others, having been sent separately to search for Frodo. They looked hopefully at him, but he merely shook his head. “It is as if he has vanished without a trace.”

QUESTING:

Committing Characters:

Deck One will commit Glorfindel (4 willpower), Arwen (3 willpower, +1 defense and sentinel to Boromir), and Aragorn (4 willpower)  for a total of 11 willpower.

Staging:

Card 1Uruk-hai Archer (44 engagement cost, 1 threat, 4 attack, 1 defense, 4 hit points) [Peril. Toughness 1. Archery 1.] – I just can’t seem to shake these archers. The choice of which ally to discard here is not a great one. Arwen has been a key source of willpower and provides a defense boost and sentinel to Boromir. Faramir, on the other hand, is expensive and can bring large doses of willpower when necessary. He also happens to be ready. However, I can’t give up the questing and combat help provided by Arwen, so I will discard Faramir instead.

Resolution:

11 willpower against 4 threat leads to 7 progress. This discards the remaining cards in the encounter deck, and finally I come across Frodo’s Choice, which just so happens to be the very last card! Deck One now takes the first player token and will remain the first player for the remained of the game. Frodo also comes back into play under the control of Deck One. This deck now advances from Orc Hunting to stage 4 – The Ring-bearer Sets Out. Parth Galen (2 threat, 4 quest points) is added to the staging area. Expert Treasure-hunter is triggered, but not successfully.

Frodo's-Choice

Frodo had fled from Pippin, driven by fear and grief at his friend’s betrayal. Finally, after endless minutes of wandering, he had found a staircase, and then a stone seat at the top of Amon Hen. There he sat, still wearing the Ring, and saw visions of massive Orc armies covering the land and a growing shadow. He also felt a presence filled with malice, like a great eye searching the sky and the land, and with a deepening horror, he felt it closing in on him. Frodo left the chair and rushed down the slopes of Amon Hen. He knew now that he must meet his choice with resolve and courage. The journey had to be his and his alone, and he needed to set out at once. 

At the bottom of the slopes, he came across Aragorn, Glorfindel, Boromir, Arwen, and Faramir in the woods. He was still wearing the Ring, and so they did not notice him, but he saw several Orc bodies lying on the ground. Frodo regretted having to leave them when it seemed clear that they were beset by foes, but they would likely be safer without his presence, and they didn’t appear to be in any immediate danger. Just as he was preparing to leave them behind and head towards the river, he saw a large Orc emerge from behind a tree, holding a yew bow aimed directly at Faramir, who had his back turned as he was locked in discussion with the others. 

“No!” cried Frodo, and they all turned as one to look at him. At him! The Ring had somehow slipped off his finger. In the moments of surprise and confusion that followed, the Orc adjusted its aim and shot its arrow directly at Frodo. Faramir had turned to see what had prompted Frodo’s cry and saw the scene unfold. Desperately, he leaped towards Frodo and tackled him towards the ground, landing heavily on the Hobbit. He would not move as Frodo tried to slip out from under him, and as the others rolled Faramir off to the ground to his side, he saw why. A large arrow had buried itself in his back and Faramir’s eyes were shut.

TRAVEL:

I will travel to Parth Galen, satisfying the travel cost of bringing an enemy out from the encounter deck or discard pile, as I don’t want to dawdle any longer than I need to, and I have the combat prowess to handle the situation. Therefore, I will pull an Uruk-hai Hunter out and add it to the staging area.

The Orc archer was soon joined by a horde of his fellows, as they clearly had gathered themselves for a renewed attack. Aragorn pushed Frodo behind him, as the others strode forth to meet the tide.

ENCOUNTER:

Deck One will optionally engage the Uruk-hai Archer, while the Uruk-hai Hunter will engage on its own. Fortunately, my threat is still below the threshold of the Uruk-hai Captain, so it will stay in the staging area for now.

COMBAT:

Deck One will take 1 archery damage from the Archer, which I will place on Glorfindel (2/5 hit points remaining).

Enemy Attack:

All of my heroes are ready thanks to Deck Two’s quest card effect. Boromir will defend against the Archer, taking no damage (4 attack – 5 defense = 0 damage). He will then ready (increasing threat to 36) to defend against the Hunter, again taking no damage (4 attack – 5 defense = 0 damage). Finally, I will take Pippin’s attack undefended, placing 1 damage on Boromir.

Player Attack:

Boromir will ready (increasing threat to 37) and join Aragorn in destroying the Uruk-hai Archer (9 attack – 1 defense = 8 damage, reduced to 7 by toughness), drawing Light of Valinor through Glamdring in the process. Boromir will then ready one final time (increasing threat to 38), joining Glorfindel in killing the Uruk-hai Hunter (9 attack – 1 defense = 8 damage, reduced to 7 by toughness), drawing Galadriel’s Handmaiden through Glamdring. Now that was an epic round of Boromir action!

Boromir was enraged by the sight of his fallen brother and charged forth, heedless of all danger, straight at the horde of Orcs. One tried to cut him down, but he absorbed the blow with his shield and pushed it backwards with all his might. He then turned and slammed the shield into another Orc, just as it was raising its own sword to attack. With both Orcs thrown back, Boromir’s sword flew to and fro, slashing and drawing blood from all sides. Anxious to aid their companion and prevent him from being overwhelmed, Glorfindel and Aragorn jumped into the fray. With a shout of rage, Boromir finished off both Orcs and he turned to face the rest. A familiar shape sought to catch him by surprise, but in his rage, Boromir merely shrugged off the graze and threw Pippin to the ground. He held his sword aloft, but Aragorn called him back to his senses. “Halt, Boromir! Hold your sword.” Pippin squirmed on the ground, trying to break free of Boromir’s grip, and he was dragged to his feet.

ROUND 9 – Deck One (3 threat in staging area, 0/16 progress on 4B – The Ring-bearer Sets Out, 5 victory points, Active Location – Parth Galen [0/4 quest points])

**Staging Area – Uruk-hai Captain**

DECK ONE PREPARATION (First Player) – 39 threat

Resources: Boromir – 7, Glorfindel – 2, Aragorn – 4 (with Steward included)

Draw: Horn of Gondor

New Hand: Escort from Edoras, Gondorian Discipline, Gondorian Discipline, Elrond’s Counsel, Valiant Sacrifice, Light of Valinor, Galadriel’s Handmaiden, Horn of Gondor

Planning: It’s a little late in the game for the Horn of Gondor to appear, and I don’t have many great targets to play it on, but there’s no reason not to make use of it, given the wealth of Tactics resources I have available. I will place it on Glorfindel, as he can perhaps use it to get one of the Spirit allies I have in hand out more quickly. Speaking of which, I will pay 2 from Glorfindel for Escort from Edoras. This will feed the Horn and also give me a large dose of willpower I can use to try to close out the quest.

Resources: Boromir – 6, Glorfindel – 0, Aragorn – 4

As hordes of Orcs could be seen running through the woods all around, Glorfindel knew they needed to act fast. “Quick, Boromir, sound your horn! We must gather the Halflings to us and warn them of the danger.”

QUESTING:

Committing Characters:

I am going to go all in on questing, trying to knock out this stage in just a couple of rounds. This is in order to prevent the staging area from getting out of hand, as Stage 4 has a special requirement that the player at this stage must reveal X additional encounter cards, where X is equal to the number of players. The other deck (Deck Two in this case) can pull one enemy over to its side each round, at the cost of threat, in order to take on some of this burden. With all this in mind, Deck One will commit Glorfindel (4 willpower), Boromir (2 willpower), Frodo (3 willpower), Escort from Edoras (5 willpower), Arwen (3 willpower, +1 defense and sentinel to Boromir), and Aragorn (4 willpower, paying 1 resource to ready)  for a total of 21 willpower against 3 threat in the staging area.

Staging:

Card 1.1Eaten Alive [Surge.] – This old Black Riders burden deals X damage among Deck One’s heroes, where X is the number of players. With 2 damage having to be placed, I will put 1 on Aragorn and 1 on Glorfindel. Unfortunately, this card then surges.

Card 1.2Slopes of Amon Hen (3 threat, 3 quest points) – I have no problem with this draw.

Card 2Uruk-hai Archer (44 engagement cost, 1 threat, 4 attack, 1 defense, 4 hit points) [Peril. Toughness 1. Archery 1.] – Ok, this is just ridiculous at this point. I’ve drawn three Archers three rounds in a row. Unfortunately, I am going to have to lose the 5 willpower of the Escort from Edoras in order to satisfy the discard effect, which is the right choice since it’s a temporary ally anyway. This gives Glorfindel a resource. I will also pay 1 from Aragorn to play Valiant Sacrifice, which nets me Arwen Undomiel and Vassal of the Windlord.

Card 3River Anduin (2 threat, 5 quest points) – Another fairly innocuous location is a much better draw for the final card of staging.

Resolution:

I will use Elrond’s Counsel to lower Deck One’s threat by 3 and to add an extra point of willpower. Taking into account the demise of the Escort from Edoras, I have 17 willpower against 9 threat in the staging area. This is enough to explore Parth Galen and add 4 progress tokens to stage 4B.

 Aragorn knew that to stay and be surrounded was folly, and the survival of the Ring-bearer was paramount. As these thoughts came to the forefront, Frodo tugged on his sleeve. He stared sadly at Pippin, who had been picked up like a sack by Boromir and was struggling as a wild animal would, and then back up at Aragorn. “I must continue alone,” he said with determination. “The Ring will never be safe otherwise.” Aragorn felt the protest rising up within him, but he simply nodded. “The burden is yours to bear,” he replied. “But I will see you to safety first!” He commanded Boromir to follow with Pippin in tow in a hasty retreat to the river. Boromir hesitated, staring at the fallen body of his brother. “Leave him, Boromir,” Aragorn called. “We can return for him later. But for now, his sacrifice must not be in vain!” This was enough to nudge Boromir forward and they turned from the approaching Orcs.

TRAVEL:

I will travel to River Anduin, as I don’t want it to float over to Deck Two’s staging area, further adding to the threat situation there. Although I should have the game in hand, I don’t want Deck Two to threat out.

ENCOUNTER:

Deck One will optionally engage the Uruk-hai Archer, while the Uruk-hai Captain will finally come down on his own.

The bravest of the Orcs moved to tackle Boromir from the rear, while ahead the largest Orc that Frodo had ever seen appeared from out of the woods to cut off their path to the river. It was huge and its face was covered in countless scars. Upon its helm was the white hand that they had seen earlier and that seemed to be covering all of their devices. This Orc called to the others in the black speech of Mordor, and it was clear that he was some type of leader among them.

COMBAT:

Deck One will take 1 archery damage from the Archer, which I will place on Aragorn (2/5 hit points remaining). I will use Mr. Underhill to cancel the Uruk-hai Captain’s attack, which lessens the defensive pressure and my need to use Boromir’s readying more than I need. It also guards against any horrible shadow effects.

Enemy Attack:

Boromir will defend against the Uruk-hai Archer, taking no damage (4 attack – 5 defense = 0 damage). I will take Pippin’s attack undefended once more, placing the damage on Boromir (2/5 hit points).

Player Attack:

Glorfindel and Aragorn will combine to attack and destroy the Uruk-hai Captain (8 attack – 2 defense = 6 damage, reduced to 4 by toughness).

Before anyone could move, Frodo raised his hand to get the Orc captain’s attention. “Excuse me,” he began, licking his lips. “But if I’m not mistaken, you’re looking for me.” The Orc stared at him without expression. Aragorn knew that he was right, that Orc archer had clearly taken aim directly at Frodo, and they were obviously searching for something. “Perhaps we can work out some kind of arrangement,” Frodo continued. “Some kind of deal, my precious.” He punctuated the last with a gollum sound in his throat. The huge Orc broke out a terrible grin and momentarily dropped his guard. This was just the opening that Glorfindel needed and he flung his sword with deadly accuracy at the Orc’s throat. Aragorn followed quickly behind and cut the captain down before he was finished reeling from the first blow. Meanwhile, the other Orc’s attempt to tackle Boromir failed spectacularly, as he shrugged aside its grasp, maintaining his vice-like grip on Pippin.

ROUND 9 – Deck Two (3 threat in staging area, -/- progress on 3B – Guard the Hobbits, 5 victory points, Active Location – None)

**Staging Area – Slopes of Amon Hen**

DECK TWO PREPARATION (First Player) – 28 threat

Resources: Merry – 4, Sam – 4

Draw: Dagger of Westernesse

New Hand: Waters of Nimrodel, Ithilien Tracker, Waters of Nimrodel, Warden of Healing, Ithilien Tracker, Beorn, Unseen Strike, Dagger of Westernesse

Planning: Having nothing better to do, I will attach Dagger of Westernesse to Sam.

Resources: Merry – 3, Sam – 4

QUESTING:

Committing Characters:

I will commit Merry (2 willpower, using Fast Hitch to ready), Bofur (2 willpower) and Sam (3 willpower) for a total of 7 willpower.

Staging:

Card 1River Anduin (2 threat, 5 quest points) – Another location is fine with me.

Resolution:

7 willpower against 5 threat yields 2 progress. As the encounter discard effect is no longer applicable since Frodo’s Choice is in play, this progress merely fizzles.

In the distance, a loud horn could be heard bellowing from below and overpowered even the roar of the falls. Merry immediately recognized it as Boromir’s horn and led the others in excitement and fear as they ran down the slopes towards the sound.

TRAVEL:

Deck Two will travel to River Anduin to avoid the threat increase and to keep it from floating over to Deck One’s staging area. I will also exhaust Warden of Healing to remove 1 point of damage each from Glorfindel and Aragorn.

River-Anduin

ROUND 10 – Deck One (3 threat in staging area, 4/16 progress on 4B – The Ring-bearer Sets Out, 7 victory points, Active Location – River Anduin [0/5 quest points])

**Staging Area – Slopes of Amon Hen**

DECK ONE PREPARATION (First Player) – 37 threat

Resources: Boromir – 7, Glorfindel – 2, Aragorn – 6 (with Steward included)

Draw: Sword that was Broken

New Hand: Gondorian Discipline, Gondorian Discipline, Light of Valinor, Galadriel’s Handmaiden, Arwen Undomiel, Vassal of the Windlord, Sword that was Broken

Planning: The only real play here is Vassal of the Windlord, which can serve as a potential chump blocker or extra attacker, if needed.

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

QUESTING:

Committing Characters:

Continuing my total commitment, Deck One will commit Glorfindel (4 willpower), Boromir (2 willpower), Frodo (3 willpower), Arwen (3 willpower, +1 defense and sentinel to Boromir), and Aragorn (4 willpower, paying 1 resource to ready)  for a total of 16 willpower against 3 threat in the staging area.

Staging:

Card 1River Anduin (2 threat, 5 quest points) – This river is ever flowing!

Card 2Uruk-hai Archer (44 engagement cost, 1 threat, 4 attack, 1 defense, 4 hit points) [Peril. Toughness 1. Archery 1.] – I’m resigned of this kind of treatment at this point. Fortunately, I have the Vassal of the Windlord to discard. Glorfindel gains 1 resource through the Horn of Gondor.

Card 3Uruk-hai Archer (44 engagement cost, 1 threat, 4 attack, 1 defense, 4 hit points) [Peril. Toughness 1. Archery 1.] – Ok, now I just want to flip the table! Having no other choice, I will discard poor Arwen. Glorfindel gains another resource. Deck Two will use the option on stage 4B to raise its threat by 1 to engage this Archer, just to remove a bit of threat from Deck One’s staging area and to take some of the archery pressure away.

Resolution:

I now only have 13 willpower committed with the loss of Arwen, against 6 threat in the staging area. This nets me 7 progress tokens, which is enough to explore River Anduin but only puts 2 more progress tokens on the quest.

Although their captain was defeated, these Orcs were not as easily cowed as their brethren had been in Moria. The Orcs behind drove them forward, while several archers had taken position just by the shoreline ahead and were sending arrows their way with uncomfortable speed and ferocity. Arwen ducked behind a set of trees that had grown together, and Aragorn persuaded her to remain there while the battle continued, serving as a lookout behind.

TRAVEL:

It’s imperative to clear out Deck One’s staging area so that I can hurry up and finish the quest before damage and threat become too much of an issue. I should be able to handle combat with Boromir around, but this will simply drive my threat up further. With all this in mind, I will travel to the Slopes of Amon Hen instead of River Anduin, engaging the Uruk-hai Archer still left in the staging area to do so. This will allow me to intentionally let the River Anduin flow over to Deck Two’s staging area, removing its threat from consideration. Of course, this choice does mean that Deck Two will be under heavy questing pressure, but as long as I can finish before that deck threats out, it will be worth the risk. As part of this effect, Deck One raises its threat by 1 to 38.

Although Aragorn feared for the fate of the other Hobbits, he knew his main priority was getting Frodo to the safety of the river and the boats. To this end, he pushed them ahead towards the river, ceding the woods to the Orcs and making a desperate charge towards the archers to clear the path ahead.

COMBAT:

Deck One will take 2 archery damage from the 2 engaged Uruk-hai Archers, placing 1 point each on Glorfindel and Aragorn.

Enemy Attack:

Deck One’s heroes have been readied by Guard the Hobbits. Boromir will defend against the Uruk-hai Archer, taking no damage even though its attack is boosted by one (5 attack – 5 defense = 0 damage). He will then ready (increasing threat to 39) to defend against the second Uruk-hai Archer, taking no damage once again (4 attack – 5 defense = 0 damage) but the shadow does force the discard of an attachment. I will discard Expert Treasure-hunter, as it is probably the least essential of all of the attachments. I will then ready Boromir (increasing threat to 40) to defend against Pippin, taking no damage (1 attack – 5 defense = 0 damage). Finally, Boromir will ready (increasing threat to 41) to defend against the Uruk-hai Archer engaged with Deck Two, taking no damage (4 attack – 5 defense = 0 damage). The true value of Boromir in this scenario has been well proven by this point, I think!

Player Attack:

Boromir will ready (increasing threat to 42) to assist Glorfindel in destroying one of the Archers (9 attack – 1 defense = 8 damage, reduced to 7 by toughness). This draws Escort from Edoras through Glamdring. Boromir will ready one last time (increasing threat to 43) to then help Aragorn to destroy the other Archer (9 attack – 1 defense = 8 damage, reduced to 7 by toughness).

Boromir rushed to the fore, shouting to gain the attention of the Orc archers and holding his great shield aloft to absorb their arrows. The sight of the charging warrior brought panic among them and they loosed all their arrows at him, ignoring the others. One Orc seemed to break and run from the sight. Aragorn and Glorfindel followed just behind Boromir, then they leaped out from behind him as they closed in on their foes. Frodo could barely make out what happening in the spray of water and flash of blades that resulted, but the three stood triumphant with the Orc fallen at their feet. However, Boromir had dropped Pippin in the fray, and it wouldn’t be long before the Hobbit regained his feet and pursued the Ring once more.

ROUND 10 – Deck Two (3 threat in staging area, -/- progress on 3B – Guard the Hobbits, 7 victory points, Active Location – River Anduin [0/5 quest points])

**Staging Area – Slopes of Amon Hen**

DECK TWO PREPARATION (First Player) – 29 threat

Resources: Merry – 4, Sam – 5

Draw: Defender of Rammas

New Hand: Waters of Nimrodel, Ithilien Tracker, Waters of Nimrodel, Warden of Healing, Ithilien Tracker, Beorn, Unseen Strike, Defender of Rammas

Planning: I could play Defender of Rammas, but I don’t really need the defense at the moment, and I’d rather just save up for Beorn. More importantly, another ally on the table could potentially mean more archery damage from Black Feathered Arrows.

Resources: Merry – 4, Sam – 5

QUESTING:

Committing Characters:

I will commit Merry (2 willpower, using Fast Hitch to ready), Bofur (2 willpower) and Sam (3 willpower) for a total of 7 willpower against 3 threat in the staging area.

Staging:

Card 1Wooded Shoreline (3 threat, 4 quest points) – This is an uncomfortable draw as it adds archery as long as it is in the staging area and I probably won’t be able to travel to it anytime soon, given my lack of questing power at the moment.

Resolution:

During Deck One’s staging, Deck Two chose to take on an Uruk-hai Archer using the response on stage 4B (increasing its threat by 1 in the process). This means that the 7 willpower I committed actually is going against 6 threat, rather than 5. This is enough to put 1 progress on River Anduin and I can trigger the response on Guard the Hobbits to ready Deck One’s heroes. However, it means that the staging area will likely just continue to pile up.

The horn was no longer blowing, but Merry, Sam, and Dori heard shouts and the clashing of arms.. They hurried out of the woods and to the water. Further down the shoreline, they could see the others rushing towards battle with a set of Orcs. Relieved to finally have found their companions, but filled with the knowledge that danger was not nearly past, they hurried forward.

TRAVEL:

A copy of River Anduin from Deck One will float over to Deck Two’s staging area. This means that questing successfully will be quite difficult next round, but the goal is simply for Deck Two to hold the fort and avoid threating out while Deck One completes the quest.

COMBAT:

Deck Two has to assign 3 archery damage (2 from Wooded Shoreline and 1 from the Uruk-hai Archer). I will place all 3 of this damage on Sam, lacking any better options.

Enemy Attack:

The Uruk-hai Archer’s attack was dealt with by Boromir, thanks to the sentinel from Arwen (which still applies to the end of the round despite her being discarded).

Player Attack:

Merry will attack and destroy the Uruk-hai Archer (6 attack – 1 defense = 5 damage, reduced to 4 by toughness). I will exhaust the Warden of Healing to remove 1 damage each from Sam and Bofur. This will help give me some breathing room against Wooded Shoreline next turn.

Sam and Merry called to their companions, but their voices could not be heard over the din of combat and the roaring falls. However, one of the Orcs seemed to have spied their approach and broke away from the others as Boromir charged, headed straight for them. Its quiver was empty and it pulled out a dagger, but Merry was faster, throwing both his daggers through the air. One missed, but the other found its mark in the Orc’s throat.

ROUND 11 – Deck One (0 threat in staging area, 6/16 progress on 4B – The Ring-bearer Sets Out, 7 victory points, Active Location – Slopes of Amon Hen [0/3 quest points])

**Staging Area – None**

DECK ONE PREPARATION (First Player) – 44 threat

Resources: Boromir – 7, Glorfindel – 5, Aragorn – 8 (with Steward included)

Draw: Ethir Swordsman

New Hand: Gondorian Discipline, Gondorian Discipline, Light of Valinor, Galadriel’s Handmaiden, Arwen Undomiel, Vassal of the Windlord, Sword that was Broken, Escort from Edoras, Ethir Swordsman

Planning: I’m pleased to draw another strong questing ally as I really want to push forth for the win this round. However, I don’t have enough for all of the Spirit allies in hand. Therefore, I will pay 2 to play Arwen Undomiel once more, then another 2 for the Escort form Edoras.

Resources: Boromir – 7, Glorfindel – 1, Aragorn – 8

QUESTING:

Committing Characters:

Shunting cards over to Deck Two has worked well, as the staging area is now clear, and this seems to fit the spirit of the scenario as well. However, I still need 13 total progress tokens to win the game, with 3 encounter cards yet to be revealed. This should be a close one. I will  commit Glorfindel (4 willpower), Escort from Edoras (5 willpower), Boromir (2 willpower), Frodo (3 willpower), Arwen (3 willpower, +1 defense and sentinel to Boromir), and Aragorn (4 willpower, paying 1 resource to ready)  for a total of 21 willpower against 0 threat in the staging area. If 8 threat or fewer is revealed, then victory shall be mine. I’m more worried about Uruk-hai Archers more than anything, as losing allies could ruin the whole endeavor, but I’m hoping that all of the copies have already been dealt with so far.

Staging:

Card 1Seat of Seeing (1 threat, 6 quest points) – I’m a bit bummed to see this one now, as this was my chance to remove a burden from the campaign pool! Oh well…

Card 2.1Ill Fate [Peril. Surge.] – This is a special burden treachery from the Breaking of the Fellowship. I will attach it to Boromir, and this means that Deck One’s threat will be increased by 2 anytime a character is destroyed. This shouldn’t really come into play, but you never know. It does surge, meaning that I’m still not close to being out of the woods.

Ill-Fate

Card 2.2Uruk-hai Hunter (28 engagement cost, 2 threat, 4 attack, 1 defense, 3 hit points) [Peril. Toughness 1.] – I have to choose between taking an immediate attack and revealing another encounter card and I don’t want to take any chances with further encounter cards. I will declare Aragorn as the defender, knowing that I have several copies of Gondorian Discipline available if something untoward should occur with the shadow card reveal (Aragorn has the Gondor trait thanks to Steward of Gondor). The shadow card is Uruk-hai Captain, which means that this enemy will attack again! This staging step does not seem to want to add. I will ready Boromir in preparation for that next attack (increasing my threat to 45). Aragorn would take 1 damage (4 attack – 3 defense = 1 damage), but I will use Gondorian Discipline to cancel it. I will then activate Anduril to deal 2 damage to the Hunter (4 attack – 1 defense = 3 damage, reduced to 2 by toughness). Boromir will defend against the second attack, taking no damage despite a +1 attack boost (5 attack – 5 defense = 0 damage).

Card 3: Wooded Shoreline (3 threat, 4 quest points) – Normally, a nasty location, but I don’t mind it right now, given that I am nearing the end.

Resolution:

I committed 21 willpower and am now facing 6 threat in the staging area. This results in 15 progress, which is enough to clear Slopes of Amon Hen and put the final 10 progress on stage 4B, winning the game! Sadly, though, I was not able to save Pippin from Fallen Into Evil.

For the sake of the narrative, I won’t detail Deck Two’s final round since the game has been won, but I will say that an Uruk-hai Tracker and Black Feathered Arrows was revealed for its staging.

With their immediate enemies vanquished, Aragorn searched about for Frodo, but he was nowhere to be found. However, one of the boats was missing, and he saw it floating across the river, seemingly empty. He gave a small smile. “Farewell, Frodo, I would have gone with you to the end.” Pippin was nowhere to be seen as well, and this did concern him. Boromir hurried back into the woods for his brother’s body now that Frodo was away.

Meanwhile, Sam and Merry and Dori rushed forward to meet up with the others. However, two events happened nearly simultaneously that stopped them in their tracks. First, Merry spotted Pippin running in the woods to their left. “Pippin!” he called to no answer. The woods were swarming with Orcs and he seemed to heading heedless into their midst. “Sam, come along!” Merry cried as he chased after Pippin.

However, Sam paid no attention, as he saw at that very moment a lonely boat being pulled along by some invisible force to the other side of the river. His stomach fell into this toes and his worst fears seemed to be coming to life. “Oh no, you don’t!” he shouted and plunged into the river, straight towards the boat. Dori shook his head at the foolishness of Hobbits.

Aragorn was searching in vain for Pippin, while Glorfindel had headed in the opposite direction, when a cunning Orc leaped from where it had been hiding and tackled Aragorn to the ground. It nearly buried its sword in his stomach, if not for Aragorn’s quick reflexes, as he pulled his body to the side, wrenching the Orc to the ground in the process. Anduril was immediate in its response, but the wound was not enough to kill the Orc outright, and it still struggled to hold Aragorn down.

In the woods, Boromir made it to his brother’s body, and was almost stunned to tears he saw Faramir moving. His brother was groaning in pain but his eyes were open and his breathing was normal. Hurriedly, Boromir crouched at his side in disbelief. At that same moment, Pippin came crashing by and Merry followed close behind. 

“Pippin, where are you going?” Merry called. Pippin turned to face him. He saw the smiling face of his friend and Faramir wounded on the ground and he suddenly held his hand to his forehead. Pippin’s eyes looked like a sunburst breaking through after a long storm.

“What have I done?” he weeped.

“What do you mean?” Merry said. 

“I’ve driven Frodo away. The Ring…I…I tried to take it.”

Merry fell into stunned silence. It was then, in their moment of distraction, that a group of Orcs came swarming into their midst. Boromir rose quickly to defend the Hobbits. Merry cursed as he realized that he had left his daggers behind. Pippin watched helplessly as one of the Orcs swung a killing blow straight towards Merry. As time seemed to slow, Pippin threw his arms towards the Orc and placed his body in the way of the strike. The sword cut deeply into his torso and he fell to the ground, while Merry looked on in horror. Boromir was busy fighting the dozens of Orcs that had suddenly appeared but there were too many of them. A savage blow to the back of the head knocked him to the ground unconscious. 

“You fools!” called one of the Orcs in a harsh voice. “The orders are to take the halflings alive.” He gestured in disgust at Pippin.

Merry was crouched next to his friend, heedless of the Orcs all around.

“Forgive me, Merry,” Pippin whimpered, drawing ragged breaths. “I would leave you in friendship.”

“You have it, as always,” Merry said,a flood of tears flowing down his face.

“Tell Frodo…” Pippin coughed. “Tell Frodo that I am sorry.”

With that, the life drained from his eyes, and he moved no more. Before Merry could give in to the full depths of his grief, a set of strong arms pulled him up from behind and he was slung over one of the Orc’s shoulders.

“What do we do with this one?” one of the Orcs said, pointing at Boromir. “Do we kill ’em? Orders only talked about halflings.”

“Best not,” said the first Orc that had spoken. “Saruman might want that one too. Maybe he’s valuable.”

Several Orcs hurriedly bound Boromir and worked together to carry him between them. Before he could shout for help, the Orcs were running at full speed through the woods and away from the river.

By the time Aragorn had finished off his attacker and he made it into the woods alongside Glorfindel, the Orcs had a sizable head start. They found the lifeless body of Pippin and Faramir wounded. The latter had been thought dead by the Orcs, which had been his only salvation.

“They have been taken,” Faramir whispered. “My brother and the other halfling. Merry.”

“And Sam?” Glorfindel asked, but Faramir shook his head. They looked around but the woods were empty of answers.

“I suspect he has followed his master.” Aragorn answered. He then took a moment to grieve over Pippin. “I failed you, my friend,” he said. “But I will not fail the others”. There was not time to put Pippin to rest in the proper fashion, but they placed his body in one of the boats and sent him over the falls.

“Frodo is beyond our reach,” Aragorn said as Arwen, Faramir, Glorfindel, and Dori gathered together by the river. “The fellowship has done its part, but now it is broken, and the Ring-bearer’s doom is now out of our hands. We must now do what we can for those who still live.”

“Aragorn is right,” Glorfindel nodded. “We cannot abandon them to the fate that awaits them. But these Orcs are strong and swift and they do not tire.”

“Neither do Dwarves!” cried Dori.

“We shall all need to summon what endurance we can. But woe to our foes if we prove the swifter! We will make such a chase as shall be accounted in song for ages to come.”

The others shouted in unison. Like a deer, Aragorn sprang away and into the trees and the others followed close behind.

SCENARIO CONCLUSION:

While Journey in the Dark is my clear favorite from The Road Darkens, I have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed Breaking of the Fellowship as well. The possibility for great narrative provided by cards like Fallen Into Evil and the separate quest stages is intriguing, and the strategy involved in protecting the Ring-bearer is thematic and satisfying. Overall, I felt the decks performed well, but I had to use up the Phial of Galadriel and was ultimately unable to save Pippin from Fallen Into Evil before the scenario ended. This means he will be permanently added to the list of Fallen Heroes, which marks two quests in a row that I have lost a hero, first Gandalf and now Pippin. Besides blowing up my decks, this also means a tough starting threat penalty of two for the remainder of the campaign. In terms of other campaign resolution, I now need to choose between Followed by Night and Ill Fate. I will choose Followed by Night, as I don’t want further hate based around allies being destroyed to accompany Overcome by Grief, and an additional enemy isn’t always the worst thing in the world. Each deck also has to choose a hero to be captive. Deck One will choose Boromir, as he is the newest hero, confirming this hero spot as being officially cursed (Eowyn was replaced, Gandalf was killed, and Boromir was captured!). Deck Two will choose Merry.

My experience here truly represented the spirit of this quest, as I finished the scenario feeling like my fellowship had been broken and left in pieces. While Deck One has seen some big changes over the course of the campaign, from replacing Eowyn with Gandalf to having to substitute Boromir in to cover for the wizard’s death, Deck Two has remained remarkably stable throughout. Sam, Pippin, and Merry have been inseparable, but now Pippin has fallen and Merry has been captured, and I will have to do something dramatically different for Deck Two when the Treason of Saruman arrives. Boromir was a real hero and all-star in this scenario, and I hope that I am able to rescue him and use him again in the next box, as I think he works well within Deck One.

It is perhaps a get silly to get emotional about a card game, but I did feel a real sense of loss after finishing this quest, and that is a testament to the narratives that this game can weave if you give it a chance. I’m also, however, excited to get started on pursuing those Uruk-hai and rescuing my friends when the Treason of Saruman arrives!

Until then, though, I hope you’ve enjoyed my trip through The Road Darkens. Hopefully, it won’t be long before I can pick up the tale again!

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24 Comments
  1. Great write-up, as always! Particpating in the playtesting made me actually aware of how much time a write-up costs, so thanks for taking the effort!

    But: I VOTE REPLAY!

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      Thanks! Haha, as much as it hurts to lose Pippin, his fate is sealed unfortunately. It’ll be a bit strange to not have my Sam/Pippin/Merry deck anymore, but it will be a chance to try something new.

  2. Silver Swan permalink

    Great write-up for a tough quest!
    Is it just me, or did you forget to add the additional threat from Gandalf dying at the beginning of the game? That’s something to be careful about, since OCTGN doesn’t do it automatically.

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      Ack, you’re right. I could’ve sworn that I included it, but I may be thinking of the game right before it (which I lost). I don’t think it would’ve made a key difference at any point, but I’ll have to put a reminder to myself.

  3. Silver Swan permalink

    A couple of thematic/game-play things to think about:

    – Having Sam be Fallen Into Evil. He wouldn’t succumb to the lure of the ring, but the “nassty suspicious Hobbit” might preemptively attack Boromir (or anyone else) if Sam thinks there’s a threat to his master, and that would effectively turn him into an enemy.

    – Right now, Spirit Glorfindel seems a bit pat as a solution to high threat. Alone in the wild, he could be quite secretive – but put him beside Gandalf and Elrond, and he’s eye-catching. FFG has already addressed this with Spirit and Lore Glorfindel, but I’d like to propose a house rule “errata”:
    If your starting threat is higher than 25, raise your threat by 3.
    That makes Glorfindel effectively cost 8 beside the higher-costing heroes (still great value for his stats, but lots of cheaper alternatives in sphere).

    • Philkav permalink

      In my group, we house rule him to be 9 threat, which is his stats minus his willpower. That makes him still good but not overpowered to the point he’s included in every deck featuring spirit.

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      What makes it even more strange from a thematic perspective is that likely one of the reasons why Glorfindel was not brought along as part of the fellowship as that he would attract too much attention and that greater value was placed on stealth. Clearly, Glorfindel was not seen as being a “stealthy” figure. I think he should have raised your threat by 1 every time you committed to the quest, no matter what, although Light of Valinor still could have given you action advantage. The problem is that there aren’t a ton of options in terms of gameplay for compensating for other high threat heroes. There’s Glorfindel and the Hobbits, but it’d be good to have a few more options. I just don’t want them to be overpowered like Glorfindel, but then that keeps Glorfindel as the best option.

  4. Eric permalink

    Awesome write-up! I always love reading through these. One question, where is that rad Boromir from?

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      Thanks! That alternate art card was created by Tom H., the graphic design and OCTGN maestro. He created a few others along these lines too.

  5. Philkav permalink

    Nice write-up, I especially liked the Frodo/evil-Pippin dialogue. Good use of the Boromir lines from the book but with an hobbit twist.

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      Thanks! It was actually a bit mind-boggling to picture a scenario in which one of the Hobbits would actually be tempted by the ring and fall to evil. Ultimately, it seems that the Ring would kind of appeal to each person in its own way and based on their own weaknesses, and I figured that the main weakness of someone like Pippin would be the desire for home and fear for the destruction of the Shire.

  6. Pengolodh permalink

    Thanks for the write-up! I kept waiting for that Elrond/Sneak Attack combo to show up and was devastated when it didn’t. Just goes to show that no matter how well-prepared you are, the encounter deck will fight back. I believe that, last I played, Merry fell into evil (because effect doesn’t work when he’s an enemy, right?) twice, but both times Elrond showed up to save the day. Can’t wait for the treason of Saruman!

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      I think I was lulled into a false sense of security, because in my previous attempts at this quest, Fallen Into Evil was a non-issue, as I was always able to cancel it. This time, though, I didn’t get A Test of Will in time, and then I was left waiting on two cards to show up. I’m really, really anxious for Treason to come out!

  7. Tony F permalink

    Outstanding playthrough and storytelling! I love seeing the campaign format really matter with the permanent loss of heroes. It gives every scenario teeth and provides a narrative arc to the entire campaign. I know it makes things tougher on you in future deck designing, but I enjoyed seeing another hero fall. It lends more weight to the danger that the heroes are facing and allows for other characters to be introduced to the story. Too bad there’s not a Dori hero you could add in to replace one of the lost heroes! Have you considered using another Dwarf hero and just referring to it as Dori in your playthroughs?

    I thought you handled Pippin’s betrayal very well. Throwing the ring into the sea is really a novel idea that could have delayed Sauron’s advance, though only temporarily. It seems like something a clever but weary Hobbit might think up so that he can be done with the quest and return to the comfort of home. The fact that Pippin had been suffering from Overcome by Grief through this quest and suffered a Grievous Wound in the last ties well into his betrayal. He was not seeking the ring for power, but simply out of desperation for being done with the whole quest. The entire betrayal subplot did well in mirroring the same in the book, with enough differences for it to make sense with the character swap. Well done!

    I’m just bummed that I’ll have to wait for the next set to arrive to find out what happens next. Hopefully it won’t take as long to be released as the Road Darkens did!

    • Silver Swan permalink

      Throwing the ring into the sea is not a novel idea. Saruman told the White Council the ring had flowed down the Anduin into the sea so he had more time to search for it himself without interruptions. Also, at the council of Elrond they seriously considered throwing it into the sea. They abandoned the idea because they couldn’t make it to the sea without any spy noticing, even in the sea it might be found somehow (and they’d be in a worse position, not knowing who had it), and Sauron would still win without the ring. Of course, all that means it’s nicer to see the idea in the write-up. (They also discussed taking the ring to Tom Bombadil and having the ring stored hidden by one of the High Elves.)
      In the book the council of Elrond didn’t determine who the Fellowship would be (aside from Frodo), but it did give the back-story and determine what the Fellowship would do.

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      Thanks for the kind words! It really is a ton of fun to come up with the narrative for these campaign write-ups, and although I too was sad to lose another hero, it actually made me happy from the perspective of a story-teller. Trying to figure out why Pippin might fall instead of Boromir was an interesting narrative challenge, and the cool thing about how this campaign mode is playing out is the way in which the cards are working together to tell a story. Just as you mentioned that Pippin suffered from Overcome by Grief and Grievous Wound, this was also my first impetus to think about what might make a loyal friend like Pippin fall, and the idea of him growing weary and desperate from what he has gone through made sense. I love the whole “fallen hero” mechanic and it definitely does raise the stakes quite a bit more. I would love to see “campaign mode packs” added to the existing cycles for this reason.

      As for the idea of throwing the Ring into the sea, Silver Swan is correct that I took that idea from the Council of Elrond (one of my favorite chapters in the whole trilogy!), as I was thinking back on the ideas brought up in the Council, and that one seemed like the one that a weary Hobbit would seize upon. It was actually Glorfindel who proposed this plan at the Council, and it’s a pretty reasonable idea if you think about it. I find Gandalf’s response to have a lot of resonance: “And it is not our part here to take thought only for a season, or for a few lives of Men, or for a passing age of the world. We should seek a final end of this menace, even if we do not hope to make one.” So Gandalf wanted to take the risk of a seemingly hopeless plan in order to make a final end of Sauron, rather than to selfishly defer the problem to some future generation. Of course, it’s likely that Sauron would have won the war even without the Ring.

      As for the Dori/Dwarf situation, I’m not sure how I will handle it. With Pippin out of the picture, there is room for another hero, or I could fit the Dori ally back into my deck.

  8. This post is testimony to how this game, more then others, supports story through it’s game’s mechanics. It delivers truly epic journeys. Bravo Ian for converting into written prose your game sessions. It has inspired me to try it out myself. Thanks.

    On the game play side of things, I don’t understand how you could “float” locations to deck two?

    Cheers.

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      I agree fully! It always boggles my mind when I hear people say that they don’t see theme in the game or don’t think it tells a story. Then again, we all experience games differently, I suppose. For me, the stories definitely come to life, but I appreciate the opportunity to write these articles, as they force me to sit down and really weave a narrative.

      As for the “floating” that was my little joke regarding the River Anduin location, which moves to the staging area to the left if it is in the staging area at the end of the travel phase.

  9. Daeron permalink

    Every single Campaign Scenario has been just plain awesome! The tips on playing, the flavorful story, and the oftentimes ridiculous situations (Bill the Pony 3.0) make these posts very enjoyable. The Breaking of the Fellowship is possibly my favorite quest so far. The decisions that the Campaign forces you to make are awesome as well. Keep up the good work!

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      Thanks for the high praise! I really appreciate it.

  10. Futonrivercrossing permalink

    Great play through!

    Too bad you didn’t explore “The Seat of Seeing” – I think I had to play through this scenario 4 times before I managed to!! – I just really wanted to get rid of a burden, and it became a real burden to achieve – so it kind of made sense if you see what I mean? 🙂

  11. Excellent article as always!
    When players are separated, can they engage enemy from other staging area? Or damage from archery, can’t be dealt among characters both players? It looks like you play this way.

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      Thanks! No to both questions. However, there are certain effects in the quest that let you interact with cards in other players’ staging areas.

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