Campaign Mode: The Uruk-hai (Part 2)
The Fellowship has been broken, as Frodo has made the fateful decision to carry the Ring forward on his own. Meanwhile, his former companions are still reeling from the loss of Pippin and the capture of Boromir and Merry. Aragorn has rallied them from despair and is determined to rescue the captives before they meet a dark fate at the hands of Saruman. In Part 1 of this article, I explained the substantial changes I have made to my decks in response to the events of The Road Darkens and in order to meet the unique challenges of The Uruk-hai, the first quest of The Treason of Saruman. With this box, we are now venturing into the events of The Two Towers, as we head inexorably towards Helm’s Deep.
Part 3 – Session Report
The fellowship had found precious moments of rest and respite in the realm of Lothlorien, before setting off on their journey once more with gifts and boats from Galadriel and Celeborn. Heading down the river Anduin, Aragorn feared a possible ambush from unseen enemies on the shores. His worries proved well-founded as archers assailed them with black-feathered arrows. They were able to leave their assailants behind, but soon came upon the perilous rapids of Sarn Gebir. Despite the skill and knowledge of the company, they were almost pulled to their doom by these inexorable waters, but ultimately struggled their way to safety on the western shore. After using an old portage-way, the fellowship continued their journey down the river, passing the Argonath and finding refuge on the western shore once more. There, in the absence of Gandalf, Frodo was tasked with making the difficult decision as to their future course. Frodo asked for an hour to make his decision and wandered into the woods to be alone with his thoughts. Pippin, who had felt the weight of the Ring’s presence grow increasingly on his mind, followed Frodo and cornered him, begging his friend to accompany him back to the Shire and to cast the Ring into the ocean, leaving the troubles of the quest behind. When Frodo refused, the conversation soon soured and Pippin tried to take the Ring by force, causing Frodo to put on the Ring and flee. Meanwhile, a horde of Saruman’s Uruk-hai ambushed the company, which had split between a group led by Aragorn and Sam, Merry, and Dori, who had gone off in search of Frodo. The battle was hard-fought, as these Uruk-hai proved to be doughty and relentless. Frodo ultimately encountered his companions once more, but the Ring slipped off treacherously, and Faramir was gravely wounded saving the Ring-bearer from an arrow. Having made his decision once and for all to continue the journey alone, Frodo was shepherded to safety by Aragorn and the rest. The skirmish with the Uruk-hai came to a close, as Boromir, Merry, and Pippin were waylaid after having been separated from their companions. A suddenly penitent and remorseful Pippin shook off the hold of the Ring and gave his life to save Merry’s standing in the way of a killing blow. Boromir and Merry were captured by the Orcs, and the remnants of the fellowship decided to pursue and rescue them, after being roused from despair by Aragorn. Now, the race is on to catch up with the pack of Uruk-hai before they can reach Isengard.
Eastemnet (2 threat, 3 quest points) begins as the active location, immediately putting an extra buffer in front of the quest stage to make pursuit that much more difficult. On the plus side, it does provide resources when it is explored. Ugluk (10 engagement cost, 3 threat, 5 attack, 1 defense, 6 hit points) and To Isengard! are added to the staging area. Ugluk is essentially the “big bad” of this scenario and cannot be engaged or damaged until stage 2. Allies are also unable to attack him or defend against him. To Isengard! is the objective under which the captives are placed, rendering them useless for the scenario. In this case, Merry and Boromir are placed underneath To Isengard! as the captives based on the result of Breaking of the Fellowship. To Isengard! also dictates that the pursuit value is increased by one at the end of each round. Speaking of which, the pursuit value is set at 10 to begin, and the players automatically lose if it reaches 30 or higher.
Stage 1B – Follow the Orcs – now becomes the active quest stage. The quest points of this stage are tied to the pursuit value, meaning it will increase over time as the Orcs continue their march. This is a cool connection between lore and mechanics as you really get the sense that the Orcs are getting away, and you must head forward at full speed without delay in order to catch up to them in time. This pursuit mechanic really makes for the sense of a breathless race. To add to this tension, stage 1B adds an additional point to the pursuit tracker at the end of the combat phase for each enemy in the staging area.
In terms of campaign mode, Mr. Underhill has been removed from the campaign pool, which makes sense since it is tied to the Ring-bearer, but it is a blow since I’ve often used it at key moments to nullify an attack. On the plus side, the Gandalf’s Delay, Weight of the Ring, and Eaten Alive! burdens are removed for this scenario. I’m particularly pleased to not have to deal with Gandalf’s Delay, which usually reduces the size of my starting hand by one.
* Note: Anytime during combat that I don’t mention the shadow card, it means that there was no effect.
* Each deck has a starting penalty of +2 due to the loss of Gandalf and Pippin.
DECK ONE (Starting Threat – 30)
Heroes: Glorfindel, Theoden, Boromir (captive)
Starting Hand: Arwen Undomiel, Escort from Edoras, Unexpected Courage, Ethir Swordsman, Elrond’s Counsel, Herugrim
Mulligan: Astonishing Speed, Hasty Stroke, Light of Valinor, The Riddermark’s Finest, Mustering the Rohirrim, Helm! Helm!
Thoughts: Not a bad opening hand by any means, with Unexpected Courage, Arwen, and Theoden’s sword. However, I really need Light of Valinor to quest well right off the bat and still be able to have enough attack strength to kill those tough Uruk-hai. Taking the mulligan, the new hand isn’t great, but I did get Light at least.
DECK TWO (Starting Threat – 29)
Heroes: Sam, Treebeard, Merry (captive)
Starting Hand: Gleowine, Daeron’s Runes, The Three Hunters, Expert Treasure-hunter, Gildor’s Counsel, Naith Guide
Mulligan: Dunedain Warning, Daeron’s Runes, Expert Treasure-hunter, Tighten Our Belts, The Three Hunters, Faramir
Thoughts: I like The Three Hunters in my starting hand as that Fellowship event can be crucial in getting some willpower going for big quest pushes and combat rounds. However, it lacks some of the key attachments, and I would really like some resource help. The mulligan hand is much better, with Tighten Our Belts for resources and Expert Treasure-hunter and Daeron’s Runes for card draw. Even better, I managed to hold onto The Three Hunters.
ROUND 1 (3 threat in staging area, 0/10 progress on 1B, 0 victory points, Active Location – Eastemnet [0/3 quest points])
**Staging Area – Ugluk**
DECK ONE PREPARATION (First Player) – 30 Threat
Resources: Theoden – 1, Glorfindel – 1, Aragorn- 1
Draw: Elrond’s Counsel
New Hand: Astonishing Speed, Hasty Stroke, Light of Valinor, The Riddermark’s Finest, Mustering the Rohirrim, Helm! Helm!, Elrond’s Counsel
Planning: As usual, the first order of business is to play Light of Valinor onto Glorfindel. I will then make use of Theoden’s ability to play The Riddermark’s Finest for only one resource. This ally can serve as a chump blocker, help to quest, or aid in getting rid of a location, if needed.
Resources: Theoden – 0, Glorfindel – 0, Aragorn- 1
Aragorn and Glorfindel stood on the overlook, surveying the land before them. The plains of Rohan stretched before them, seemingly endless, but they were not able to spy their quarry. However, the signs of their passage were everywhere, and it was no great task to pick up the trail.
As the two reached the bottom of the hills and entered the Eastemnet, they were soon greeted by the sound of hooves and several riders overtook them before they had time to hide. Several appeared to be soldiers of Rohan, but one was set apart in his bearing and dignity, despite his advanced age. Aragorn recognized him at once.
“Hail Theoden, king of Rohan!” he called.
The riders surrounded them, lowering their spears menacingly, while Theoden watched them closely.
“You seem to have me at a disadvantage, stranger,” he replied. “What brings you to this land?”
“You will have no need of those weapons, friends. Nor indeed am I a stranger, for I have been in this land before. We are pursuing an orc-host that has taken our friends.”
“And by whose leave do you hunt Orcs here? For this is my realm, and I do not recall giving you leave to do so. Who do you serve?”
Aragorn threw back his cloak and drew Anduril from its sheath. Theoden’s riders moved to defend their king, but Theoden stayed them with a sweep of his hand.
“I am Aragorn, son of Arathorn, the heir of Isildur Elendil’s son of Gondor. Here is the Sword that was Broken and forged again!”
The riders marveled at the figure before them, for the majesty and power of the kings of old was alive in his face, and even in worn clothes and muddy boots he seemed not the lesser of Theoden himself. The king of Rohan seemed not as stunned, but rather watched Aragorn thoughtfully, as well as the Elf at his side, a strange light seeming to glow from within and without him.
“Then you are the ones I seek,” he said finally, dismounting from his horse.
“You were seeking for us?” Aragorn said with genuine surprise.
“Indeed. Unless this is some trick of Saruman and you are his spies under some clever guise.”
“Then you do not serve Saruman?” Glorfindel asked.
“Long have I suffered the counsels of one who did serve that foul wizard. Long have I sat helpless and frail, a prisoner of my own body and mind, and Saruman would have me there still if not for the help of the one who sent me to find you.”
“And who is that?” Aragorn wondered.
DECK TWO PREPARATION – 29 Threat
Resources: Treebeard – 1, Sam – 1
Draw: Ent Draught
New Hand: Dunedain Warning, Daeron’s Runes, Expert Treasure-hunter, Tighten Our Belts, The Three Hunters, Faramir, Ent Draught
Planning: Drawing Ent Draught is fortunate, as I don’t yet have a form of healing available for Treebeard. However, I will delay playing it, as I want to use Tighten Our Belts this round to give more resources to both Sam and Treebeard. Instead, I will use Daeron’s Runes, since it costs nothing, drawing another copy of Dunedain Warning and Naith Guide. I will discard one of the copies of Dunedain Warning, as I probably won’t need both, at least right away, and the other cards in my hand will be needed. I will also play Expert Treasure-hunter on Sam, as it costs nothing as well.
Resources: Treebeard – 1, Sam – 1
In a deep corner of Fangorn Forest, Treebeard stood thoughtfully in the clearing, soaking up the warmth of the sun. It had been many long moments since he had decided to rest here, and he had lost track of the time. The sounds of the forest around him seemed normal, and all would have appeared to be in its place to an outsider, but Treebeard knew every shaking of a branch or whisper of a leaf and there was a growing disquiet deep in his heart to match the disquiet spreading through the forest. All was not well and the Orcs of the white wizard grew more bold and more vicious by the day. Too many trees had been felled already, too many trees that should have endured many more years in peace. Treebeard moved one long leg and then the other, and he began to move through the trees.
The name of the game is to quest as quickly as possible in order to move to stage two before the pursuit value spirals out of control. It is also worth noting that I must beat the scenario with the pursuit value at 25 or below, which is definitely a main consideration in order to earn the fantastic boons that are on offer. However, I also must leave enough bodies behind to handle the tough Uruk-hai. Deck One will commit Glorfindel (3 willpower) and Theoden (2 willpower), leaving Aragorn back as a potential defender. Deck Two will commit Sam (3 willpower) and Treebeard (2 willpower). This leaves Deck Two without a defender, but Sam should be able to ready and defend against an enemy if necessary. I have committed a total of 10 willpower against 3 threat in the staging area. If I can clear Eastemnet, this should give all heroes a resource, including Aragorn, which could allow me to potentially ready a hero.
Card 1: The Wold (2 threat, 2 quest points) – A fairly benevolent location with manageable threat, The Wold doesn’t bother me too much. It can even help with card draw if I’m willing to swallow the increase to the pursuit value.
Card 2: Isengard Uruk (34 engagement cost, 2 threat, 3 attack, 1 defense, 4 hit points)[Peril. Toughness 1. Archery 2.] – The Isengard Uruk is a nasty bit of business, having 2 points of archery all on its own and dealing 3 damage to the revealing player as part of its “when revealed” effect, unless I’m willing to reveal an encounter card. Damage is the better choice, but Deck Two unfortunately only has Treebeard and Sam available at the moment. I will place all 3 damage on Sam (2/5 hit points remaining), as he won’t be defending much and Treebeard needs his hit points for other purposes.
My 10 willpower against 7 threat yields 3 progress. However, I’m not quite satisfied with this amount, as I really need a better pace if I’m going to be successful, and just clearing the active location doesn’t quite pass muster. Therefore, I will exhaust and discard The Riddermark’s Finest to explore The Wold. I won’t get to benefit from its ability, but this does remove its 2 threat from the staging area. Taking this move into account, I make 5 progress. 3 of these go onto Eastemnet, exploring it, while the remaining 2 are placed on stage 1B (2/10 progress). With Eastemnet explored, each hero gains 1 resource.
“Gandalf?” Aragorn said incredulously. “That cannot be. Gandalf was our companion. He fell in Moria.”
Theoden paused for a long while before speaking again.
“He did not mention this to me,” he said finally. “It is possible that this is a trick of Saruman. But revealing Grima and sending me forth to meet you does not seem to fulfill his plans…But let us speak no more of it. Each moment we spend here brings your friends further away. We will solve this mystery once we have seen them safe!”
Aragorn, Glorfindel, and Theoden rode forth in pursuit of the Uruk-hai, their chances of catching up to the Orcs vastly boosted by the use of the Riders’ horses. They made good time at first, putting the borders of Rohan behind them as they headed north. However, their ride was cut short by a flurry of well-aimed arrows, which brought their horses down from underneath them.
Meanwhile, Treebeard trudged forward towards the southern edge of Fangorn forest, sensing an approaching disturbance from that direction.
Deck One will take on Isengard Uruk, since it seems in a better position to handle combat than Deck Two.
Aragorn, Theoden, and Glorfindel arose to face their attackers, but none were to be found at first. Aragorn strode forward towards a collection of stones, and a large Uruk leaped from behind them.
There are 2 points of archery to deal from the Isengard Uruk, and I will put this damage on Glorfindel (3/5 hit points remaining).
Aragorn will defend against the Isengard Uruk. The shadow card is Strange Weariness, which would cause the Uruk to make an additional attack. I’m not willing to endure this effect, as it would totally wreck my plans to destroy this enemy this round, so I will pay 1 from Theoden for Hasty Stroke. My plan is to keep the board clear of enemies as much as possible so that I can quest hard. Aragorn will take 1 damage (3 attack – 2 defense = 1 damage) from the attack (4/5 hit points remaining).
I will pay 2 from Fellowship Aragorn to ready himself. Then Glorfindel and Aragorn will team up to destroy the Isengard Uruk (7 attack – 1 defense = 6 damage, reduced to 5 by toughness). This is crucial as it helps to keep that archery 2 off of the table.
The Orc caught Aragorn by surprise and unleashed a savage blow. A lesser man might have been killed on the spot, but Aragorn brought his sword up just in time and deflected the blow. The creature pushed forward once more, as if to attack again, but Theoden’s movement to circle around caught its attention. This was enough, as Aragorn and Glorfindel charged forward to fell the Orc.
The pursuit value increased to 12 (1 for Ugluk in the staging area and 1 from To Isengard!). Deck Two will play Tighten Our Belts to add 1 resource to each hero (since none of these heroes have spent a resource). Normally, this would include Fellowship Aragorn, as he is now under Deck Two’s control, but Aragorn spent resources to ready.
ROUND 2 (3 threat in staging area, 2/12 progress on 1B, 0 victory points, Active Location – None)
**Staging Area – Ugluk**
DECK TWO PREPARATION (First Player) – 30 Threat
Resources: Treebeard – 4, Sam – 4, Aragorn – 1
Draw: Warden of Healing
New Hand: Dunedain Warning, The Three Hunters, Faramir, Ent Draught, Naith Guide, Warden of Healing
Planning: I have a surfeit of resources, so I will pay 2 from Treebeard for Warden of Healing. This will definitely help to mitigate archery damage and keep Treebeard going in the absence of Self Preservation. I will also pay another Lore resource for Ent Draught on Treebeard for the same reason. Finally, the wealth of resources I have generated allows for a turn 2 Faramir play, which could potentially be a crucial move.
Resources: Treebeard – 1, Sam – 0, Aragorn – 1
Faramir had recovered quickly from his wounds, bolstered perhaps by a fire within or the determination to rescue his brother. While Aragorn and Glorfindel had forged ahead, he had agreed to take a different route, heading north along the Anduin shore and ultimately heading west towards Fangorn forest. In this way, he hoped to cut off the Uruk-hai if they happened to be aiming in that direction.
Meanwhile, Treebeard stopped to drink an Ent-draught, as he would need its invigorating waters for the path ahead.
DECK ONE PREPARATION – 31 Threat
Resources: Theoden – 1, Glorfindel – 2
Draw: The Riddermark’s Finest
New Hand: Astonishing Speed, Mustering the Rohirrim, Helm! Helm!, Elrond’s Counsel, The Riddermark’s Finest
Planning: The Riddermark’s Finest can definitely be useful, as was true last round, but I would prefer some more questing power, so I will pay 1 from Theoden for Mustering the Rohirrim. I am able to find West Road Traveller, which is just the ally I was looking for, with 2 willpower on offer! I will immediately pay 1 from Glorfindel for the Traveller, taking advantage of Theoden’s discount. This leaves me with 1 resource to spare. Sure, I ended up paying 2 total to get the West Road Traveller into play, but I wouldn’t have had in the first place if it wasn’t for Mustering the Rohirrim, which shows how Theoden makes this former coaster into a viable card draw effect.
Resources: Theoden – 0, Glorfindel – 1
The Orc had been defeated, but the damage had been done, as they found themselves without horses. All had fortunately managed to survive, but they were too injured to be ridden any distance. Theoden whistled into the distance, hoping that one of his riders was still within hearing distance. After some time, a rider did appear, although it wasn’t one of his original guards. It was a woman, one of the messengers that rode the west road. He tasked her with scouting the Orc party ahead, while they continued on foot.
Deck Two will commit Sam (3 willpower) and Treebeard (2 willpower) for a total of 5 willpower. Deck One will commit Glorfindel (3 willpower) and West Road Traveller (2 willpower), also for a total of 5 willpower. This is a total of 10 willpower against 3 threat in the staging area. This isn’t as quick a pace as I’d like, but I don’t have a ton of characters out at the moment and need to have enough combat power to keep on top of enemies.
Card 1.1: Saruman’s Orders – Each player either has to return an engaged enemy to the staging area or reveal an encounter card. This treachery is a good reason to sometimes keep an engaged enemy around during this quest. Unfortunately, neither deck has an engaged enemy, so each deck will have to reveal another card.
Card 1.2: Pursued by the Enemy [Doomed 1. Surge.] – Each engaged enemy makes an attack. This time having no engaged enemies is a benefit, but this treachery does add a threat to each deck (Deck One to 32, Deck Two to 31) and then surges.
Card 1.3: The Wold (2 threat, 2 quest points) – I’m glad to draw this fairly harmless location after all that surging. I still need to draw one more card for Deck Two though.
Card 1.4: The Wold (2 threat, 2 quest points) – Same deal, and this is a decent draw, but I just need to avoid location lock.
Card 2: Banks of Entwash (3 threat, 5 quest points) – This location is not as much of a welcome sight. It has 3 threat instead of 2 and raises the pursuit value whenever progress is placed on it. I’ve also dodged enemies but drawn 3 locations in a row, which has hurt questing this round and will hurt in future rounds as well.
My total of 10 willpower will break even against the 10 threat in the staging area. This won’t do at all, as I need to make decent progress each round, so I will deal 2 damage to Treebeard (5/7 hit points remaining) to raise his willpower up to 4. I will also exhaust Faramir to add 1 willpower each to Treebeard and Sam, for a total of 2 more additional willpower. This puts me at 14 versus 10, which is good enough for 4 more progress on stage 1B (6/12). This is a decent pace for the quest thanks to a few handy willpower boosts. At this point, I will also exhaust Warden of Healing to remove 1 damage from Treebeard (6/7 hit points remaining) and Aragorn (5/5 hit points remaining). Deck Two will also trigger Expert Treasure-hunter, guessing “attachment” and drawing Steward of Gondor.
The lands of Rohan were broad and seemingly endless, especially on foot. While the way was smooth going for Aragorn, Glorfindel, and Theoden, this also meant the same was true for the tireless Uruk-hai. However, following his own course, Faramir flew over the ground like a hound. The Orcs sensed the familiar scent of a Man on the air coming from his direction, and this forced them to alter their course, unwittingly cutting the distance from the others on their trail.
Meanwhile, Treebeard knew from the whisperings of the forest that Orcs of the White Wizard were coming ever closer, and he pushed himself to a quite hasty pace in order to head off the danger.
I need to travel somewhere, but if I’m going to be increasing the pursuit value no matter what, I would rather get some benefit out of it. Therefore, even though Banks of Entwash is 3 threat, I will travel to one of the copies of The Wold, which means the pursuit value goes up to 13. This also puts fewer quest points between the quest stage (Banks of Entwash has 5 quest points).
Aragorn led his group forward into The Wold, a large grassy plain and the northernmost end of Rohan. There were no settlements to be seen and no riders, just themselves and the Orcs they were pursuing somewhere ahead.
The pursuit value goes up by 2 (1 for Ugluk in the staging area and 1 for To Isengard!) to 15.
ROUND 3 (8 threat in staging area, 6/15 progress on 1B, 0 victory points, Active Location – The Wold [0/2 quest points])
**Staging Area – Ugluk, The Wold, Banks of Entwash**
DECK ONE PREPARATION (First Player) – 33 threat
Resources: Theoden – 1, Glorfindel – 2, Aragorn – 2
Draw: Ethir Swordsman
New Hand: Astonishing Speed, Helm! Helm!, Elrond’s Counsel, The Riddermark’s Finest, Ethir Swordsman
Planning: Although the Ethir Swordsman is not Rohan, I’ve included him in this deck because it’s difficult to argue with his willpower potential in any Spirit deck. With that in mind, I’ll pay 2 to get the first copy onto the table.
Resources: Theoden – 0, Glorfindel – 1, Aragorn – 2
A man soon joined Aragorn, Glorfindel, and Theoden in their pursuit. He hailed from the far south of Gondor and was a companion of Faramir sent to aid them.
DECK TWO PREPARATION – 32 threat
Resources: Treebeard – 2, Sam – 1
Draw: Steward of Gondor
New Hand: Dunedain Warning, The Three Hunters, Naith Guide, Steward of Gondor, Steward of Gondor
Planning: I now have Steward of Gondor available (2 in fact), but need to wait one more turn to play this key attachment. I don’t have any other viable plays at the moment, so I will forego planning.
Resources: Treebeard – 2, Sam – 1
Deck One will commit Glorfindel (3 willpower), Theoden (2 willpower), Ethir Swordsman (2 willpower) and West Road Traveller (2 willpower) for a total of 9 willpower. This leaves it slightly exposed for combat, but that’s the value in having Fellowship Aragorn around, as he can ready Theoden with his 2 resources if I end up needing him.Deck Two will commit Sam (3 willpower) and Treebeard (2 willpower) for a total of 5 willpower. This is a total of 14 willpower against 8 threat in the staging area. I will probably need to use some willpower boosts and get lucky if I’m going to keep up with these Orcs.
Card 1.1: Saruman’s Orders – Again, this treachery hits with no engaged enemies, so each player will have to reveal an encounter card.
Card 1.2: Fighting Uruk-hai [Peril.] – Deck One will have to pull out an Uruk-hai enemy to engage, and this enemy will contribute its threat to the staging area for the current quest phase. I will choose Uruk-hai Fighter (29 engagement cost, 3 threat, 3 attack, 2 defense, 3 hit points)[Toughness 2.]. This is my usual choice, as he lacks the archery of the other Uruk-hai enemies, even though his 3 threat is high. In addition, it’s important to know that unlike other treacheries of this type, Fighting Uruk-hai specifies that the fetched enemy is “revealed”, which would trigger any “when revealed” effects. Choosing the Uruk-hai Fighter avoids the nasty “when revealed” effects of the other Uruk-hai enemies.
Card 1.3: Snaga (44 engagement cost, 1 threat, 3 attack, 1 defense, 3 hit points)[Peril. Archery 1.] – A fairly weak enemy, but one that gets a random threat boost that can dramatically impede questing. In this case, Deck Two discards Naith Guide, which bumps the Snaga’s threat up to 3 for the phase.
Card 2: Eastemnet (2 threat, 3 quest points) – I like this location because even though it raises the pursuit value if you travel to it, the extra resources from exploring Eastemnet can be extremely useful.
My 14 willpower is matched up against 16 threat in the staging area. Deck One will use Elrond’s Counsel to boost Theoden’s willpower by 1 (reducing its threat to 30). Deck Two will exhaust Faramir to add 1 willpower to each of Deck One’s 4 questing characters. This is a new willpower total of 19. Admittedly, this isn’t much, but it’s enough to clear out The Wold so that I can avoid location lock and it also adds 1 more progress to stage 1B (7/15). Now that The Wold is explored, each deck draws a card (Deck One draws another Ethir Swordsman, while Deck Two draws Daeron’s Runes). Deck Two will trigger Expert Treasure-hunter, guessing attachment, which will discard a copy of Warden of Healing.
Aragorn set a quick pace, but was surprised to see Theoden, even in his advanced age, keeping up with little trouble. He seemed invigorated by his encounter with Gandalf…or whoever claimed to be Gandalf. Aragorn discovered obvious signs of the Orc’s passage on the grassy plain, making tracking exceedingly easy. In the far, far distance, Glorfindel’s sharp eyes could see the Uruk-hai pack. However, even as they slowly closed on them, they discovered another nasty trap left in the Orcs’ wake. A large Orc, one of the Uruk-hai, leaped atop a mound of earth and brandished its sword.
I will travel to Eastemnet to get a hold of those sweet resources, increasing the pursuit value to 16. Deck Two will use Daeron’s Runes, drawing Elrond and Sting and discarding the extra copy of Steward of Gondor.
Deck Two will take on the Snaga, since Deck One is tangling with the Uruk-hai Fighter, which readies Sam and boosts his stats.
Treebeard finally reached the edge of Fangorn and saw a pack of Orcs in the distance, approaching closer with every moment. Then, he spotted a small Orc scouting ahead, entering the forest just to his left. A dark rage gripped him, and Treebeard crashed towards the unsuspecting Orc.
There is 1 point of archery from the Snaga, which I will deal to Faramir (2/3 hit points remaining).
Aragorn will defend against the Uruk-hai Fighter, taking 1 damage (3 attack – 2 defense = 1 damage). Sam will defend against the Snaga, taking 1 damage (3 attack – 2 defense = 1 damage). Aragorn has 4/5 hit points remaining, while Sam has only 1/5 hit points remaining. I will then take this moment to exhaust Warden of Healing, removing 1 damage each from Treebeard (7/7 hit points remaining) and Aragorn (5/5 hit points remaining). I will also spend 2 resources from Aragorn to ready Theoden.
Theoden (3 attack) and Glorfindel (4 attack) will combine to destroy the Uruk-hai Fighter (7 attack – 2 defense = 5 damage, reduced to 3 damage by toughness). Deck Two can’t do anything to the Snaga this turn.
The Uruk charged straight towards Theoden, tackling the king to the ground. The Orc rose and pulled back its sword for a killing blow, but Aragorn arrived in time to parry the strike. He then followed up the parry with a kick to the creature’s stomach, which sent it backwards. Aragorn pulled Theoden to his feet, and the wrathful king strode forward with Glorfindel at his side, and they cut the Orc down with two precise strikes.
Meanwhile, Treebeard marched foward, but stopped short at a curious sight. A very small creature, like nothing Treebeard had seen before, was frantically dodging the sword of the Orc scout.
The pursuit value increases by 2 to 18 (1 for Ugluk in the staging area and 1 for To Isengard!).
ROUND 4 (8 threat in staging area, 6/18 progress on 1B, 0 victory points, Active Location – Eastemnet [0/3 quest points])
**Staging Area – Ugluk, The Wold, Banks of Entwash**
DECK TWO PREPARATION (First Player) – 33 threat
Resources: Treebeard – 3, Sam – 2, Aragorn -1
Draw: Naith Guide
New Hand: Dunedain Warning, The Three Hunters, Steward of Gondor, Elrond, Sting, Naith Guide
Planning: Sam will pay 2 to place Steward of Gondor on Treebeard, who will immediately exhaust this attachment to gain 2 resources (giving him 5 total). I will then pay 3 for Elrond, choosing the option to heal all damage from Sam (5/5 hit points remaining), giving me some breathing room. I will then use the final 2 resources from Treebeard to attach Sting to Sam. This has been a very good round for this deck.
Resources: Treebeard – 0, Sam – 0, Aragorn – 1
Sam fought to stave off and dodge the Orc’s blows, struggling to remember the stories about battle he had heard at Rivendell. Just the though of the place filled him with a sense of peace and renewed determination after a long journey, and Sting began to work its way forward toward attack.
DECK ONE PREPARATION – 31 threat
Resources: Theoden – 1, Glorfindel – 2
Draw: Astonishing Speed
New Hand: Astonishing Speed, Helm! Helm!, The Riddermark’s Finest, Ethir Swordsman, Astonishing Speed
Planning: I was happy to draw a second copy of Ethir Swordsman through exploring The Wold last turn, so I will play it now to instantly increase my available willpower by 4!
Resources: Theoden – 1, Glorfindel – 0
A second Man from Ethir joined the first following their battle with the Orc, and he joined with his countryman to help scout ahead.
Deck Two will commit Sam (4 willpower), Elrond (3 willpower) and Treebeard (2 willpower) for a total of 9 willpower. Deck One will commit Glorfindel (3 willpower), Ethir Swordsman #1 (3 willpower), Ethir Swordsman #2 (3 willpower) and West Road Traveller (2 willpower) for a total of 11 willpower. This gives me a total of 20 willpower against 8 threat in the staging area. Now I’m starting to get some meaningful willpower going and things are looking up.
Card 1: Unseen Barrier – Argh! This treachery is a real annoyance, as it means I can only put 3 progress at most on the quest stage, despite my high willpower total. This essentially wastes Elrond’s temporary questing contribution.
Card 2: Plains of Rohan (3 threat, 4 quest points) – This location’s threat is tied to the number of locations in the staging area, which is currently 3, including itself.
20 willpower against 11 threat is 9 progress. 3 of these tokens go to exploring Eastemnet, adding 1 resource to each hero’s pool. The remaining 6 would go on the quest stage, but this is reduced to 3 by Unseen Barrier (9/18 ).
The two swordsmen from Ethir helped to scout and clear the way ahead of enemies, greatly speeding the progress of Aragorn and his company. However, as they crested a rise and set upon another long plain, it was as if their limbs slowed of their own accord and they found the way forward difficult. There was no reason for it, no reason but some evil enchantment.
“There is something strange at work in this land,” Aragorn declared. “An unseen barrier that stands before us and lends speed to our foes.”
I will travel to the Plains of Rohan so that its threat does not become a further impediment. It also is the location choice that won’t increase the pursuit value.
Archery 1 has to be dealt with, but I can simply place the damage on Elrond, who will depart at the end of the round anyway.
Faramir will defend against the attack, taking 1 damage (3 attack – 2 defense = 1 damage), leaving him with 1 hit point. Unfortunately, the shadow is Banks of Entwash, which means I either have to increase the pursuit value by 1 or the attack is considered undefended. I will increase the pursuit value to 19.
Aragorn will spend 2 resources (thanks Eastemnet!) to ready Treebeard. Treebeard will then combine with Aragorn to smash the Snaga (6 attack – 1 defense = 5 damage). I will use Warden of Healing to remove 1 damage each from Glorfindel (4/5 hit points remaining) and Faramir (2/3 hit points remaining).
Sam tried to press his advantage against the Orc, but the crooked creature was sly and cunning and moved to counter. However, it sensed danger on the air, the smell of more Men approaching, which distracted it enough that it stopped trying to slash at Sam for a moment. It was then that Sam saw what looked like a huge, walking tree step into the clearing. It stopped for a moment to consider them before bringing a huge, heavy leg down onto the Orc, smashing it into the ground.
The pursuit value increases by 2 to 21 (1 from Ugluk and 1 from To Isengard!). This is becoming a bit concerning and I need to make a big quest push next round. Elrond is also discarded as the round ends.
ROUND 5 (8 threat in staging area, 9/21 progress on 1B, 0 victory points, Active Location – Plains of Rohan [0/4 quest points])
**Staging Area – Ugluk, The Wold, Banks of Entwash**
DECK ONE PREPARATION (First Player) – 32 threat
Resources: Theoden – 3, Glorfindel – 2, Aragorn – 2
Draw: Unexpected Courage
New Hand: Astonishing Speed, Helm! Helm!, The Riddermark’s Finest, Astonishing Speed, Unexpected Courage
Planning: Finally, Unexpected Courage has arrived, which I will immediately play on Treebeard so that he can both quest and engage in combat without Aragorn’s help. I will also play The Riddermark’s Finest for 1, which could help with clearing out the locations in the staging area.
Resources: Theoden – 0, Glorfindel – 2, Aragorn – 2
Another of Theoden’s riders appeared on the road, but one horse would not be enough to carry three, so the rider was sent ahead to further harass the Orcs.
DECK TWO PREPARATION – 34 threat
Resources: Treebeard – 4 (including Steward of Gondor), Sam – 2
Draw: Gildor’s Counsel
New Hand: Dunedain Warning, The Three Hunters, Naith Guide, Gildor’s Counsel
Planning: Although I’d love to see Self Preservation by now to really get Treebeard going, Gildor’s Counsel could be really useful in setting up a strong turn of questing. As it is, I’ll pay 2 from Sam for Naith Guide, choosing Theoden to quest without exhausting.
Resources: Treebeard – 4, Sam – 0
Treebeard saw the strange, small creature looking up at him in wonder. Was it a little Orc? It didn’t look like an Orc, but it didn’t look like a Man or an Elf or a Dwarf either. Then, another figure emerged into the clearing from the shadows. She spoke to him in Elvish, explaining that the creature was called Sam.
“That’s a rather hasty name,” boomed Treebeard.
I will play Gildor’s Counsel, which should increase my chances of having a good quest phase this round, as only one card will be revealed, barring surge. I just have to hope that I don’t draw another pesky Unseen Barrier! Deck One will commit Glorfindel (3 willpower), Theoden (2 willpower), Ethir Swordsman #1 (3 willpower), Ethir Swordsman #2 (3 willpower) and West Road Traveller (2 willpower) for a total of 13 willpower.Deck Two will commit Sam (4 willpower) and Treebeard (2 willpower, exhaust Unexpected Courage to ready) for a total of 6 willpower. This is a grand total of 19 willpower against 8 threat in the staging area.
Card 1: Plains of Rohan (3 threat, 4 quest points) – This isn’t bad at all, as it means no new enemies to defeat and no treacheries ruining my plans.
19 willpower against 11 threat equals 8 progress. With no combat to worry about, there’s no reason not to exhaust Faramir to boost the willpower of Deck One characters by 1, for an additional 5 willpower. This means that I would make 13 progress total. However, if I can just add 3 more progress, I could advance to the next stage. Therefore, I will deal 3 damage to Treebeard to increase his willpower by 3, for a new grand total of 16 progress. 4 go to clearing out Plains of Rohan, while the remaining 12 are placed on stage 1B (21/21). This means I advance to stage 2B – Rescue the Captives.
This quest stage requires each player to search for, reveal, and add an Uruk-hai enemy to the staging area. I should be in a good position to handle this effect, although Ugluk will be coming down now as well. Both decks will pull out and add an Uruk-hai Fighter (29 engagement cost, 3 threat, 3 attack, 2 defense, 3 hit points)[Toughness 2.] to the staging area. Stage 2B also stipulates that the pursuit value is reduced by 1 whenever an enemy is destroyed, while the progress needed is once again equal to the pursuit value. I can win the game by defeating this stage, but must kill Ugluk as well.
Shaking off the strange spell, Aragorn led the company forward, and as they all began to see the pack of Uruk-hai ahead, their pace quickened across the plains. Sounds of battle began to echo as they could see some of Theoden’s riders harrying the edges of the Orc party and beginning to engage them in a skirmish. This slowed the Orcs down, while Aragorn, Theoden, and Glorfindel sprinted forward at full speed. After what seemed like endless moments, they finally closed the gap and the hindmost Orcs were mere yards away from their grasp. There was no sign of Boromir or Merry but there was so much chaos that it was impossible to tell for sure where they were or if they were still with this group of Orcs.
Meanwhile, Sam was explaining to Treebeard his business in the forest.
“…Mr. Frodo and I lost some of our supplies in the river and I needed to come back across to fetch some more and I got turned around and ended up here and please don’t squash me, sir.”
“Hmph,” Treebeard grumbled. “Sounds like Orc mischief to me. But if the young Elf here says you are who you say are, then maybe it’s true.”
It was then that they heard the clamor of battles approaching, as well as pounding feet.
I will travel to the new Plains of Rohan that has been revealed.
Deck Two will take on Ugluk, as Treebeard should give me the ability to defeat him and defend against him. If not now, then in a later round at least. Deck One will optionally engage one Uruk-hai Fighter, while the other will come down as part of engagements.
Several Orcs crashed into the forest, fleeing from the riders and Aragorn and his company. One of them was a huge, fierce-looking Orc with a large sword, and he was trying vainly to command his brethren to turn around and fight.
Deck One will use Aragorn to defend against one Uruk-hai Fighter and he will take 1 damage (3 attack – 2 defense = 1 damage), leaving him with 4/5 hit points remaining. Theoden will defend against the other Uruk-hai Fighter engaged with Deck One, taking 1 damage (3 attack – 2 defense = 1 damage), leaving him with 3/4 hit points remaining. Finally, Treebeard will have to defend against Ugluk, as Sam is exhausted and allies cannot defend against this enemy. He will take 2 damage (5 attack – 3 defense = 2 damage), leaving him with 2/7 hit points remaining.
I will pay 2 resources from Glorfindel and exhaust and discard The Riddermark’s Finest to play Helm! Helm!, discarding one of the Uruk-hai Fighters engaged with Deck One. Unfortunately, this doesn’t count as destroying an enemy for the purpose of reducing the pursuit value, but it does help clear the board. Deck Two can’t mount an attack at the moment, but will exhaust Warden of Healing to remove 1 damage each from Treebeard (3/7 remaining) and Aragorn (5/5 remaining). I could use Aragorn’s resources to ready Treebeard, but I’m saving up for a big The Three Hunters moment.
Aragorn waded into the battle between riders and Orcs. One of the Uruk-hai charged at him, launching a savage strike, but Anduril met the oncoming blade easily. Aragorn knocked the Orc back with his blade, and it was rode down by a charging ride, trampled lifeless to the ground. At the same time, Theoden stood in the way of another Orc that was making a straight line for the safety of the forest.
Meanwhile, the large Orc in the forest charged in a wild and mad rage at Treebeard, hacking furiously at one of his massive legs. Treebeard roared in pain and wrath.
The pursuit value increases to 22 from To Isengard!.
ROUND 6 (5 threat in staging area, 0/22 progress on 2B, 0 victory points, Active Location – Plains of Rohan [0/4 quest points])
**Staging Area – The Wold, Banks of Entwash**
DECK TWO PREPARATION (First Player) – 35 threat
Resources: Treebeard – 4 (including Steward of Gondor), Sam – 1, Aragorn – 3
Draw: Protector of Lorien
New Hand: Dunedain Warning, The Three Hunters, Protector of Lorien
Planning: I’ll look to shore up my defense as the focus moves to combat, so I’ll pay 1 for Dunedain Warning on Aragorn and 1 for Protector of Lorien on Theoden.
Resources: Treebeard – 4, Sam – 0, Aragorn – 3
DECK ONE PREPARATION – 33 threat
Resources: Theoden – 1, Glorfindel – 1
Draw: Ancient Mathom
New Hand: Astonishing Speed, Astonishing Speed, Ancient Mathom
Planning: Both decks really need some more cards in hand, but Deck Two is probably the priority with still no Self Preservation in sight, so I will play Ancient Mathom on the active location.
Resources: Theoden – 0, Glorfindel – 2
Deck Two will commit Sam (4 willpower) and Treebeard (2 willpower, exhaust Unexpected Courage to ready) for a total of 6 willpower. Deck One will commit Glorfindel (3 willpower), Theoden (2 willpower), Ethir Swordsman #1 (3 willpower), Ethir Swordsman #2 (3 willpower) and West Road Traveller (2 willpower) for a total of 13 willpower. Aragorn has 3 resources this round and so could potentially ready Theoden, if needed. I also have The Three Hunters available, but I won’t play it yet until I see what happens during staging (such as another Unseen Barrier!). I have a total of 19 willpower against 5 threat in the staging area.
Card 1: Unseen Barrier – Now this is just plain annoying! I have a ton of willpower marshaled here and could take out a huge chunk of this quest stage, but now I’m limited to only 3 progress once again.
Card 2: Ugluk’s Uruk-hai (38 engagement cost, 2 threat, 4 attack, 2 defense, 5 hit points)[Peril. Toughness 1. Archery 1.] – To add insult to injury, I now have to add 3 to the pursuit value or reveal another encounter card, making my job harder either way. I’ll cut my losses and increase the pursuit value to 25.
19 willpower against 7 threat yields 12 progress. 4 tokens are enough to explore the active location, 3 are placed on stage 2B (3/25), while the remaining 5 are lost to Unseen Barrier. Ancient Mathom triggers for Deck Two, which draws Bill the Pony, Protector of Lorien, and Erebor Hammersmith as a result. I will also trigger Expert Treasure-hunter, guessing attachment, and I end up drawing another copy of Expert Treasure-hunter. Still no Self Preservation! Although The Three Hunters won’t help me with questing this round, I will still play it before resolution to ready Treebeard, Sam, and Theoden and give them a +1 to all stats. The purpose of this play is to help with combat and fighting Ugluk.
While many of the Orcs had fled towards the forest, a group of the toughest looking ones stood their ground, covering the retreat of the others. Aragorn realized that those retreating might be carrying their friends away, so he charged forward, hoping to break through the wall of Uruk-hai. Suddenly, the strange enchantment from before took hold of his limbs, and he felt like he was moving through water or thick sand. The retreating Orcs moved further away as he could only watch helplessly. Summoning all his will, he broke through the binds of the spell and called Theoden to his side, and together they broke through the pack. Aragorn continued forward, leaving them in his wake, and chased after the retreating Orcs, reaching the trees in time to see a strange sight: Sam Gamgee, an Elf, and a huge creature fighting with a large Uruk.
I will travel to The Wold, increasing my pursuit value to 26. This takes me above the threshold I need to finish the quest with in order to earn the boons (25 or below), but I should be able to drop it down again by killing enemies, and I would like the card draw from this location. Also, it’s important to note that The Wold’s quest points are equal to its threat, making it just as efficient to have it be the active location as it is to leave it in the staging area for the following round, but the benefit here is the chance to clear it out permanently.
Since Ugluk’s Uruk-hai has an engagement cost of 38 and since the current quest stage no longer punishes me for keeping enemies in the staging area, I won’t engage them this round.
I need to assign 1 point of archery damage from Ugluk’s Uruk-hai, which I will place on Faramir (1/3 hit points remaining).
Sam will defend against Ugluk. The effect on Sting discards Fighting Uruk-hai, dealing no damage to Ugluk (I swear, I pull a treachery 90% of the time when using Sting’s effect). Sam will take 2 damage (5 attack – 2 defense – 1 additional defense from The Three Hunters = 2 damage), leaving him with 3/5 hit points remaining. Theoden will defend against the Uruk-hai Fighter, taking no damage (3 attack – 2 defense – 1 additional defense from The Three Hunters = 0 damage).
Treebeard (3 attack + 1 attack from The Three Hunters) and Aragorn (3 attack) will attack Ugluk. I will exhaust Warden of Healing to remove 1 damage each from Treebeard (4/7 hit points remaining) and Faramir (2/3 hit points remaining). I will then deal 3 damage to Treebeard (1/7 remaining) to boost his attack to 7. This is a total of 10 attack against Ugluk, which is enough to destroy him (10 attack – 1 defense = 9 damage, reduced to 6 by toughness). The pursuit value is reduced to 25 and Ugluk is added to the victory display.
Sam acted on instinct, coming to Treebeard’s aid. The huge Orc turned on him, launching a series of deadly blows at the Hobbit’s head. Sam ducked and dodged, backing away as he did so. It was then that Aragorn came charging into the fray, putting the Orc on the defensive for the first time. The huge Uruk was tough, though, and wily, and it held its own despite a gaping wound opened in its side by Anduril. It was Treebeard who decided the issue, summoning all his wrath to bring one huge arm down onto the Orc, rendering him lifeless in one blow. The Ent seemed dazed or exhausted by the effort as Sam and Aragorn exchanged surprised greetings.
Meanwhile, Theoden and Glorfindel found themselves in the midst of the determined pack of stalwart Uruk-hai, the last to hold. Theoden held off one with all his determination, hoping to buy Aragorn the time he needed to track down the captives.
The pursuit value increases back up to 26 at the end of the round, thanks to To Isengard!
ROUND 7 (5 threat in staging area, 3/26 progress on 2B, 5 victory points, Active Location – The Wold [0/2 quest points])
**Staging Area – Banks of Entwash, Ugluk’s Uruk-hai**
DECK ONE PREPARATION (First Player) – 34 threat
Resources: Theoden – 1, Glorfindel – 3, Aragorn – 1
Draw: Westfold Horse-breaker
New Hand: Astonishing Speed, Astonishing Speed, Westfold Horse-breaker
Planning: The Horse-breaker isn’t the best of draws, but any willpower helps and he provides another Rohan character as a potential target for Astonishing Speed. He also can help to ready a hero since Aragorn doesn’t have the resources to do so this round. Therefore, I’ll pay 1 from Theoden to play this ally.
Resources: Theoden – 0, Glorfindel – 3, Aragorn – 1
In the midst of the battle, Theoden heard one of his men calling. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw a horse being led towards him. It was Snowmane, his own mount and a boon for this battle. Theoden let out a fierce yell of joy and triumph.
DECK TWO PREPARATION – 36 threat
Resources: Treebeard – 6 (including Steward of Gondor), Sam – 1
New Hand: Bill the Pony, Protector of Lorien, Erebor Hammersmith, Expert Treasure-hunter, Errand-rider
Planning: I finally have an Errand-rider to spread some of Treebeard’s wealth, but it might be too little, too late to make a real difference. Still, I’ll play it anyway, and exhaust it to send 1 resource from Treebeard to Glorfindel. I’ll also play Bill the Pony for free. In terms of Lore resources, I’ll attach Protector of Lorien to Sam, play Erebor Hammersmith (bringing Ancient Mathom back to Deck One’s hand), and give Expert Treasure-hunter to Glorfindel so Deck One can grab some more cards.
Resources: Treebeard – 2, Sam – 0
With the Orc captain dead, Aragorn hurriedly scanned the area and saw that the captives were nowhere to be found. He stepped out of the forest and hailed a rider.
“Ride to your king, let him know that the captives must have been taken elsewhere. Make haste!”
The man nodded and rode onto the battlefield.
It was then that Dori finally caught up with Aragorn and the rest of the remnants of the fellowship. Not all Dwarf legs are created equal after all, and his had taken many hours to close the distance with his fellows.
I need to make a huge push this round to make up for the Unseen Barrier last turn and there is a ton of ground to cover. Deck One will commit Glorfindel (3 willpower), Theoden (2 willpower), Westfold Horse-breaker (1 willpower). Ethir Swordsman #1 (3 willpower), Ethir Swordsman #2 (3 willpower) and West Road Traveller (2 willpower) for a total of 14 willpower. Deck Two will commit Sam (4 willpower), Bill the Pony (1 willpower), Naith Guide (1 willpower) and Treebeard (2 willpower, exhaust Unexpected Courage to ready) for a total of 8 willpower. This is a total of 22 willpower against 5 threat in the staging area. Let’s do this!
Card 1: Plains of Rohan (2 threat, 4 quest points) – This is a good draw and I’ll take locations all day long.
Card 2: Grisnakh (40 engagement cost, 4 threat, 3 attack, 4 defense, 5 hit points) – Now this is an interesting development. The first player chooses 1 captive to place under Grishnakh, and he deals 1 damage to that captive at the end of each quest phase. I will obviously choose Boromir instead of Merry, with his much bigger pool of hit points. So Grishnakh runs off and attempts to have himself a Boro-burger.
My 22 willpower against 11 threat yields 11 progress. I will exhaust Faramir to add 6 willpower total to Deck One’s questing. Altogether, I will make 17 progress. 2 tokens are enough to clear The Wold, while the remaining 15 are placed on stage 2B (18/26). This was exactly the quest phase I needed to make up ground. Since The Wold was explored, each deck can draw a card, with Deck One getting Westfold Horse-breeder, while Deck Two draws Daeron’s Runes. Each deck will also trigger Expert Treasure-hunter, with Deck One guessing ally and drawing Escort from Edoras (more questing power!), while Deck Two guesses attachment and draws Cram. Boromir will take 1 damage from Grishnakh (4/5 hit points remaining).
The rider reached Theoden in the midst of the battlefield and relayed Aragorn’s message. Fending off an Orc with one hand, he scanned the battlefield for any sign of something amiss. He almost missed it in the flurry and the chaos, but the experienced king saw a small, crooked shape dragging something across the ground away from the battlefield and the forest both. Somehow it had slipped through the riders and the other Orcs, its ragged brown clothes and small stature blending into the earth and heaps of the fallen. Theoden called those closest to him to his side and they began to cut a furious path forwards towards the fleeing creature.
Meanwhile, Boromir tried to break the tight ropes around his body as the crooked Orc tried to pull his heavy frame forward. He was rewarded with a smashing blow to his face from the hilt of the Orc’s sword.
I will travel to the Plains of Rohan. Deck Two will use Daeron’s Runes, drawing Elf-stone and Elrond, while discarding Elf-stone.
I need to get Grishnakh’s 4 threat out of the staging area and rescue Boromir, so I will have Deck Two engage him, readying Sam in the process and boosting his stats.
The crooked Orc, Grishnakh saw the charge led by Theoden at his back and knew that stealth would no longer be any help. In panic, he dropped Boromir and fled into the edges of Fangorn.
I will assign the 1 point of archery damage from Ugluk’s Uruk-hai to Errand-rider.
I need to be able to destroy 2 enemies this round in order to drop the pursuit value down to 24. This means that it will creep up to 25 at the end of the round and I can beat the game the next round while still earning the boons. If I don’t kill 2 enemies, then this won’t be possible. Therefore, I will take the Uruk-hai Fighter’s attack against Deck One undefended. This is dangerous, but a necessary risk in my opinion. The shadow card is harmless, and I will place the 3 damage on Glorfindel (1/5 hit points remaining). On the other side, Sam will defend against Grishnakh. Sting discards Snaga, dealing 1 damage to Grishnakh, leaving hi with 4 hit points. Sam will take 1 damage (4 attack – 3 defense = 1 damage), leaving him with 2 hit points.
Glorfindel and Aragorn will combine to destroy the Uruk-hai Fighter (7 attack – 2 defense = 5 damage, reduced to 3 by toughness), reducing the pursuit value to 25. On Deck Two’s side, I will use Warden of Healing to heal 1 damage each from Treebeard (2/7 hit points remaining) and Sam (3/5 hit points remaining). I will also have Deck One discard Westfold Horse-breaker to ready Sam and deal 1 damage to Treebeard to increase his attack by 1. Then, Treebeard (4 attack), Erebor Hammersmith (1 attack), and Sam (3 attack) will combine to kill Grishnakh (8 attack – 4 defense = 4 damage). Grishnakh is destroyed, the pursuit value falls to 24, and Boromir is placed back under To Isengard!
Grishnakh ran panicked into the forest, looking back over his shoulder every few steps at the pursuing mob. In this way, he collided into Sam without warning. The sturdy Hobbit managed to keep his feet somehow, and knocked aside Grishnakh’s furious stab, nicking the Orc in turn in the process.
“Fools,” Grishnakh sneered. “The Eye will have you all.”
Treebeard tired of this further Orc mischief, and as Sam stabbed Sting into Grishnakh’s torso, Treebeard lifted the Orc into the air and dashed his body against a nearby tree until he moved no more.
The pursuit value increases to 25 at the end of the round.
ROUND 8 (5 threat in staging area, 18/25 progress on 2B, 10 victory points, Active Location – Plains of Rohan [0/4 quest points])
**Staging Area – Banks of Entwash, Ugluk’s Uruk-hai**
DECK TWO PREPARATION (First Player) – 37 threat
Resources: Treebeard – 5 (including Steward of Gondor), Sam – 1, Aragorn – 2
New Hand: Cram, Elrond, Cram
Planning: There are lots of biscuits to go around, so I will attach one copy of Cram to Aragorn and the other to Theoden. Then, I will play Elrond, healing all damage from Treebeard. Errand-rider will exhaust to move a resource from Treebeard to Theoden. Finally, I will exhaust Warden of Healing to remove 1 damage each from Glorfindel (2/5 hit points remaining) and Sam (3/5 hit points remaining).
Resources: Treebeard – 1, Sam – 1, Aragorn – 2
DECK ONE PREPARATION – 35 threat
Resources: Theoden – 2, Glorfindel – 4
Draw: Hasty Stroke
New Hand: Astonishing Speed, Astonishing Speed, Ancient Mathom, Westfold Horse-breeder, Escort from Edoras
Planning: Deck One will play Escort from Edoras for 1, using Theoden’s ability, and the Horse-breeder for 1. I will also attach Ancient Mathom to the active location.
Resources: Theoden – 0, Glorfindel – 4
With a shout, Theoden mounted his horse, Snowmane, and rode forward to the prone shape on the ground left behind by Grishnakh.
It’s time to win this thing. The only cards I’m really worried about seeing are Unseen Barrier or Strange Weariness, as they could cause me to come up short. Deck Two will commit Elrond, (3 willpower), Sam (4 willpower), Bill the Pony (1 willpower), Naith Guide (1 willpower), Aragorn (2 willpower) and Treebeard (2 willpower, exhaust Unexpected Courage to ready) for a total of 13 willpower. Deck One will commit Glorfindel (3 willpower), Theoden (2 willpower), Westfold Horse-breeder (1 willpower). Ethir Swordsman #1 (3 willpower), Ethir Swordsman #2 (3 willpower), Escort from Edoras (4 willpower), and West Road Traveller (2 willpower) for a total of 18 willpower. This is a total of 31 willpower against 5 threat in the staging area.
Card 1: Plains of Rohan (2 threat, 4 quest points) – Another copy of this location is fine with me.
Card 2: Rest by Night? – Nooooo! I totally forgot about this treachery and it’s terrible. I either have to end the quest phase and increase the pursuit value by 3, which puts the boons way out of reach, or deal 1 damage to each committed character. The latter will wreak havoc on my Spirit allies, but I really have no choice, and I just have to hope I have enough left after the carnage to win. Dealing 1 damage to each committed character destroys both Ethir Swordsmen, West Road Traveller, Escort from Edoras, Naith Guide, and Westfold Horse-breeder, for a total loss of 14 willpower. (This also attaches Overcome by Grief to a hero, but it’s irrelevant to the outcome here.)
My new total of 17 willpower is set against 7 threat in the staging area. This is enough for 10 progress, just short of winning. Fortunately, I have some willpower boosting options. I could use Faramir, but for a dramatic and thematic flourish, I will pay Astonishing Speed instead to boost Theoden’s willpower by 2. This is good for a total of 12 progress. 4 clears out Plains of Rohan, and the remaining 8 finish stage 2B, winning the game!
As Theoden found a man bound tightly and almost unconscious. Just at that moment, Faramir arrived to tend to his brother and cut him loose. Merry, however, was still nowhere to be found. Theoden and Aragorn led the riders in a search of the surrounding plains, but night began to fall, and all were beset by weariness. Some suggested resting for the night and picking up the search in the morning, but Aragorn feared that Merry could be wounded and in need of aid somewhere, and Theoden commanded his men to keep searching until he was found. It was the king himself who finally found the Hobbit, hiding under a mass of clothes and bodies on the very edge of the battlefield. He was weathered and weary, but no worse for the experience, and all rejoiced to see him whole.
Aragorn returned to the forest to find Sam gone. Treebeard told him that the Hobbit had set off across the river once more to rejoin Frodo, armed with fresh supplies for the journey into Mordor. For their part, Aragorn, Theoden, and the others headed for Edoras, bidding Treebeard farewell. There, they hoped to discover the mystery behind the man claiming to be Gandalf.
The wizard was waiting for them on the steps of the Golden Hall, clad all in white. He appeared indeed to be Gandalf, but that was impossible, and Aragorn knew that Saruman was capable of powerful illusions.
“Hail, Aragorn son of Arathorn, and Theoden, son of Thengel,” the wizard cried. “I’m glad to see you have found each other and have returned just in time.”
“Who are you?” called Aragorn. “You claim to be Gandalf the Grey?”
“No,” he said. And at that, members of the company drew their weapons.
“I am Gandalf the White,” the wizard declared, and a blinding light shone from his staff. When it died, they saw that he was smiling at them benevolently, and none would now doubt that it was indeed Gandalf standing before them. He told them the tale of his battle with the Balrog, his death, and his return.
“You said we were in time,” Theoden said. “In time for what?”
“For the turn of the tide.”
The Uruk-hai has been defeated and Boromir and Merry have been rescued! This certainly was not an easy experience and this isn’t necessarily a no-brainer scenario. It’s actually quite enjoyable and grows on me more and more with each new play, as I find the pursuit tracker/value a simple yet thematic way of representing the chase. It really feels like you have to go all out to keep up with the tireless Uruk-hai, who never stop going. Beating the scenario with the pursuit value at 25 means that I can either have each deck choose from a set of powerful boons or bring one Fallen Hero back with the Beyond All Hope attachment. This is a tough choice, as the boons are quite strong, especially Intimidation and Leader of Men. Yet with two Fallen Heroes, it makes great sense to bring one back, in order to reduce the +2 threat penalty, if nothing else. The resurrected hero also gets +1 to willpower, attack, and defense, which is huge. Between Pippin and Gandalf, I am intrigued by the thought of a 3 willpower, 2 attack, 2 defense Pippin for only 6 threat. It also would be an unconventional choice to bring back Pippin and leave Gandalf dead and could lead to a new and interesting narrative. However, for the challenges ahead, I can’t pass up a 4 willpower, 4 attack, 4 defense Gandalf and it wouldn’t feel right to not have him be part of the events to come. With that in mind, Gandalf has returned as Gandalf the White! There will need to be some retooling of both decks to accommodate this change and the return of the captives, but that will come soon enough. Treebeard certainly pulled his weight, despite the lack of Self Preservation, and played a key role throughout, while Theoden and his people helped to bring some key tricks to the table at the right moments.
Soon, though, it will be time for our heroes to survive one of the great battles of their age, as TftC is on a collision course for Helm’s Deep!