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Campaign Mode: Helm’s Deep (Part 1)

by on July 24, 2015


Although the matter remained in doubt for some time, our erstwhile heroes were successful in rescuing Boromir and Merry from the clutches of the Uruk-hai. They were helped along the way by a couple of new faces, as the King of Rohan himself rode to meet the strangers in his land, while the ancient Ent known as Treebeard guarded the borders of Fangorn against the hated orcs. However, the stakes are about to get much higher and even more new companions may have to enter the fray as our heroes become swept up in the first major battle of the War of the Ring. Saruman is set to unleash a massive army against Rohan and the fate of not just that land, but the entire world, hangs in the balance.

In Part 1 of Helm’s Deep, I will explore some hard-won lessons I’ve learned after banging my head against the wall of this scenario like a Jacksonian troll, as well as some strategies that might lead you to success. In addition, this part of the campaign allows for a complete change in the hero lineup, so I’ll take stock of the decks I’ve used so far and outline the changes I’ve made to hopefully achieve victory against the toughest challenge I’ve yet faced.

Part 1 – Strategy

As befits the event it is representing, the Helm’s Deep scenario is an extremely challenging scenario, especially as you add more players. In solo, it can actually be a fairly manageable affair, although not a walk through a lovely Shire afternoon by any means. In two player, the difficulty noticeably increases, so I’m happy to be running a two-handed campaign in this case, as I’m confident this will give the battle the kind of gravitas and tension it deserves. Still, although I love a hard quest, I also want to win so that the campaign can continue. With this in mind, what are some strategies that can help to defeat Helm’s Deep?

* Bring plenty of willpower

No, I’m serious. Bring plenty of willpower! I know I say this in regards to almost every scenario, as questing is understandably a major element of most quests, yet willpower takes on a special importance here. The defense keyword flips the quest on its head, so that the encounter deck is trying to make progress while your characters’ willpower is used to stop that progress from occurring. To make this keyword meaningful, the encounter deck has been cleverly designed to heap tons of threat into the staging area so that it is difficult for you to keep pace. This means that you need as much willpower as you can muster, and it needs to hit the board quickly to stave off the encounter deck. The cheap two cost, two willpower allies of Spirit, such as Ethir Swordsman or Galadriel’s Handmaiden, can be clutch here, but so can huge doses of disposable willpower like that provided by an Escort from Edoras. Even an ally that I’ve recently panned like Curious Brandybuck is uniquely useful here, as free willpower is huge in this quest, and the active location should not be leaving play as frequently, at least if you’re doing things right. Unlike other recent scenarios that feature effects that punish you based on the number of allies committed to the quest, there is no such hate here, so feel free to throw bodies into the mix whenever possible! The one exception is Deeping Culvert, which has a threat strength that increases based on the number of allies controlled by the first player. In this case, the hate is directed at total allies rather than questing characters, and prioritizing allies with strong willpower is a way to offset this particular penalty. On the other hand, keep in mind that Helm’ s Deep does feature plenty of archery and direct damage, so questing allies with more than one hit point are extremely useful. Besides allies, I find it useful to include effects that allow for willpower to be boosted after staging. Whether we’re talking about Eowyn, Halfling Determination, or The Three Hunters, anything that allows you to milk a little willpower out of your characters is valuable, as this gives you some flexibility to deal with unexpected threat increase in the staging area, while potentially leaving some characters back for combat. Finally, global willpower boosts, as always, can be crucial, so a Sword that was Broken, Faramir or Visionary Leadership would not go amiss. The main point is that in such a combat-heavy scenario with tough enemies, it might be easy to overlook questing in favor of battle preparation, yet being able to muster enough willpower might be the difference between victory and defeat. Keep in mind that the average threat strength of enemies and locations is much higher than normal, mostly hovering between three and five, so you should plan for at least three to five more threat per player during each staging step (treacheries may lower this but certain effects may increase it as well).

* Be ready to weather a storm of enemies


Although the toughness keyword is also present in this quest, as it was in The Uruk-hai, surprisingly most enemies can be felled with five or six attack strength (the solitary exception being the Uruk-hai Fighter). Enemy attack strengths are also somewhat reasonable, at least from the point of view of modern expectations, averaging around three or four with the exception of the Warrior of Dunland, who has five. However, the real challenge of combat in Helm’s Deep reaches beyond these numbers. For one, the pressure of questing means that you’ll have to make do with less in terms of bodies for combat. This means that action advantage is huge and characters with high attack values are key. If a couple of characters can take out multiple enemies, then you’re in good shape. Of course, this is easier said than done, and every choice of what to include or what to use requires a shift in the balance between questing and combat. The biggest strategy issue comes down to one question: is it better to prioritize questing and keeping progress off the stage, or keeping the board clear of foes? It’s a tough question to answer (that is what makes the scenario and game interesting after all!), but in general I tend to place emphasis on the former. Doing this prevents the active location from being cleared often, which in turn minimizes the harmful effects that you will feel from these locations. It also of course prevents the stage from advancing (more on both of these soon). That being said, enemies can quickly pile up if you are not careful.

* Don’t make the mistake of ignoring location management


With the defense keyword completely reversing matters so that you don’t want the active location to be explored, it might seem as if this is a scenario where location management effects are not important. However, it may be a mistake to think this. The fact is that given that you are actively trying to keep the active location in its place, locations tend to pile up in the staging area over time, leading to a snowball effect where eventually there is just too much threat to deal with and then progress starts to rain down upon you. Not good. A location management card like Asfaloth or The Riddermark’s Finest can thus actually be invaluable, especially since the locations in Helm’s Deep tend to have fewer quests points than most modern quests (since the encounter deck is trying to explore them). You can’t just explore locations arbitrarily though, as they all have nasty effects that trigger when they are explored. The trick then is to know which locations to explore and when. The two main locations that you will want to focus on exploring are Postern Door and Helm’s Gate. This is because you can explore them during the action window in the refresh phase, which triggers their effects, but since these effects only last until the end of the round, you will essentially have gotten rid of them without real consequence. The Hornburg is also a possibility, since you can trigger it when there aren’t many (or any) enemies on the table (it deals damage based on the number of enemies in play). Beyond actually putting progress on locations, it’s also worth considering which locations to travel to when you have the opportunity. I tend to be a fan of The Hornburg, as it allows you to reduce archery damage, as well as Deeping Wall, as the extra defense can be crucial. The latter can be a bit of a double-edged sword, though, as the four threat hit when it is explored can mean the difference between victory and defeat. With all this in mind, don’t ignore locations, both from a deck building and decision-making standpoint. Planning well for this aspect of the game might actually be just the edge you need.

* Know your quest stages

Since the enemy is trying to put progress on the quest and advance through the stages, it might be tempting to think that appropriate strategy towards the quest is simply to hold at stage two as long as possible. Although there is some truth to this sentiment, and it is desirable if it can be managed, the reality of the game may unfold quite differently, and it is important to know what each quest stage has in store, how it differs from the others, and how your overall strategy needs to adapt to each one.

Stage 2 – This stage is actually the trickiest of the stages, in my opinion. It forces you into a tough choice each round. The first option is to pull enemies from the staging area to try to clear threat off the board. However, if there are fewer enemies in the staging area than the number of players at the end of combat, the first player has to reveal an encounter card. This forced reveal may replace some of the threat that you just pulled out and helps the encounter deck to build its position against you. The second option is to leave enough enemies in the staging area so that this extra reveal does not happen, but the quest card also stipulates that a number of progress tokens equal to the number of enemies in the staging area is placed on the stage, bypassing the active location, at the end of each round. Which option is better? It is definitely dependent on the number of players. With four players, for example, pulling enemies down is the better policy, as revealing one additional card is better than placing four progress on the stage, for example. For one or two players, the issue is more complicated. I tend to like holding enemies in the staging area at first so that I have time to build up my position, and this also prevents the extra reveal, which can be more damaging early on when you have a more limited ability to react. Then, as I’m more ready to meet enemies, I will start pulling them down whenever possible and taking the extra reveal. No matter what, though, this stage is truly nasty.


Stage 3 – The main problem here is that Helm’s Gate automatically becomes the active location, and that is probably the nastiest location in the whole encounter deck. Not only does it give all enemies +2 attack and -20 engagement cost when it is explored, it also reveals an extra card at the end of staging if each player is not engaged with an enemy. If you can manage a bunch of beefed up enemies, the best policy here is to actually let Helm’s Gate get explored so that you can avoid the extra card without having to tank a bunch of enemies over several rounds, which is a recipe for disaster, given some of the nasty shadow effects in the quest. If you have an effect that allows you to switch the active location out, such as West Road Traveller or Thror’s Map, then this is an even better alternative. Once you get beyond Helm’s Gate, the actual quest card effect of placing a progress on the stage if none is placed during quest resolution is not too bad.

Stage 4 – This stage does throw out a bunch of enemies onto the table and it is the final stage before defeat. Fortunately, though, the enemies are “added”, rather than “revealed”, which makes a huge difference. If you are equipped to deal with this small enemy flood, stage 4 is actually the best stage to be on, as its quest card effect of placing a progress if a character is destroyed is only meaningful if you are relying on a bunch of chump blocking (which you shouldn’t be). Does this mean you should intentionally let the quest progress to stage 3 or stage 4 to escape the troublesome stage 1? I wouldn’t recommend this in all cases and especially if you are not ready for the extra threat from Helm’s Gate (stage 3) or the extra enemies from stage 4. You also need to give yourself a buffer of quest progress to account for bad questing rounds and encounter card effects. However, at a certain point, intentionally letting the quest progress is actually a legitimate option.

* Avoid chump blocking, if possible

Just don’t do it. Here’s the effects that punish chump blocking:

– Soldier of Isengard puts a progress on the quest when it destroys a character

– Warrior of Dunland puts 3 progress on the quest when it destroys a character

– Uruk-hai Fighter jumps back to the staging area when it destroys a character

– The shadow effect from Scaling Ladders puts a progress on the quest if a character is destroyed

You may be able to get away with chump blocking here and there, but by and large, your best bet is a strong defender with a readying effect.

* Bring along healing and treachery cancellation

I won’t say much in this regard as I’ve harped on these points in relation to other saga quests. Suffice it to say that archery and direct damage is a real issue here, and you’ll need healing to deal with these effects and also to give you some breathing room while defending. Treachery cancellation should be saved for either Night Without End or Devilry of Saruman. The latter is particularly troublesome and can singlehandedly bring on defeat. Try to get A Test of Will early and hold onto it no matter what it takes until Devilry shows up.

Part 2 – Decks

Helm’s Deep allows for heroes to be switched out at will without a threat penalty, which gives me full freedom to reinvent either deck or both decks to have a decent shot for success against this tough scenario. Importantly, Gandalf has also been resurrected from the dead with Beyond All Hope, which allows me to bring him back into the fold, which I would be foolish to ignore. The real question is how much will I keep and how much will I change?


Previously, I settled on a dynamite combination of Glorfindel and Boromir, first partnered with Aragorn and then with Theoden. The trio of Glorfindel, Boromir, and Theoden could work well once again, but there are a few problems. The biggest is that the starting threat of 28 is fairly high for a Boromir deck (actually 30 with the fallen hero penalty), especially against a quest that can raise threat in huge chunks through the Deeping Wall. I also need to prioritize willpower, and Theoden only brings two to the table (although he is strong in combat). The plus side is that he does allow for pumping Rohan allies out more quickly, but this might not be enough to swing the day in his favor.

Hero (3)
Glorfindel (FoS) x1
Eowyn (Core) x1
Boromir (TDM) x1

I originally did run a few initial attempts against Helm’s Deep with Glorfindel/Theoden/Boromir, but it just didn’t give me what I needed. Glorfindel and Boromir could handle most combat by themselves without Theoden, and what I really was struggling with was mustering enough willpower. While Theoden could potentially allow me to kill more enemies, in practice I ended up having to quest with Theoden most of the time. That being the case, bringing in a dedicated willpower machine seemed like what I needed, and this is why I decided to bring Eowyn back into the fold. Long-time readers will know that she was part of the original version of Deck One at the start of the campaign, so this is a bit of a homecoming here and an appropriate one at that given that the story is now actually in Rohan. I am a bit sad to leave out Theoden when Helm’s Deep should rightly be his moment, but gameplay considerations win out here. With this lineup, Eowyn and Glorfindel will team up for questing, Boromir will handle all defending, while Boromir and Glorfindel will attack enemies.

Ally (21)
Ethir Swordsman (TSF) x3
Arwen Undomiel (TWitW) x2
Escort from Edoras (AJtR) x3
Hama (ToS) x2
Westfold Horse-breaker (THfG) x3


Westfold Outrider (VoI) x3
Curious Brandybuck (TWoE) x2
Galadriel’s Handmaiden (CS) x3


West Road Traveller (RtM) x3
Westfold Horse-breeder (VoI) x2
The Riddermark’s Finest (THoEM) x3

First, I’ve kept some of the core questing allies from last time around. Ethir Swordsman will probably never leave this deck, Arwen is invaluable for questing and defense, and Escort from Edoras brings huge doses of one-time willpower. Westfold Horse-breaker remains because I really am looking to include as much action advantage as possible to deal with the needs of both questing and combat at the same time, as well as to help deal with multiple enemies at once. Hama helps with defensive duties. I’ve decided to add three new allies: Westfold Outrider, Curious Brandybuck, and Galadriel’s Handmaiden. Now I know what you’re thinking, readers, haven’t I spent a bunch of time lately slagging off the poor little Curious Brandybuck? Indeed I have, but TftC reader Stoian suggested that the Curious Brandybuck might be of some use against this quest specifically, and I’ve taken this idea and run with it. Since free willpower is golden in this quest and since active locations won’t be leaving play as often, the Brandybuck might just be a good fit. As for the Handmaiden, she quests while helping to keep my threat low, which will be important to counteract Boromir. The Westfold Outrider is a Tactics ally to help balance the spheres. He also can help with attack but his main purpose is actually just to help with questing by pulling enemies out of the staging area when it looks like I will otherwise fail the quest. Finally, in order to make room for these new allies, I removed the West Road Traveller (Curious Brandybuck does a similar job for free), Westfold Horse-breeder (I don’t have any mounts to fetch and chump blocking is discouraged), and The Riddermark’s Finest (surplus to requirements).

Attachment (13)
Light of Valinor (FoS) x3
Anduril (TRD) x1
Glamdring (TRD) x1
Unexpected Courage (Core) x2


Captain of Gondor (TAC) x1
Gondorian Shield (TSF) x3
Horn of Gondor (Core) x2


Ancient Mathom (AJtR) x3
Herugrim (ToS) x3
1 copy of Unexpected Courage

The core attachments remain the same, with Unexpected Courage earning a place, despite Theoden’s removal, because it can help out the heroes from Deck Two. Again, any bit of action advantage that I can muster will be invaluable. I’m particularly interested in getting Beravor (part of Deck Two) a copy of Unexpected Courage at some point so that she can draw cards and participate in questing or combat. Since Boromir is no longer captive, I can bring back the appropriate Tactics attachments, with Captain of Gondor, Gondorian Shield, and Horn of Gondor all playing a role. The latter isn’t as important, as not many characters will be leaving play since I’m not aiming to chump block, but some like Escort from Edoras and Curious Brandybuck, along with Elrond from the other deck, will be popping in and out of play. To make room for the Tactics gear, I’ve removed Ancient Mathom, as Deck Two will be providing better draw for this deck, along with Herugrim, since it’s no longer needed with Theoden removed.

Event (18)
Elrond’s Counsel (TWitW) x3
A Test of Will (Core) x3

Gondorian Discipline (EaAD) x3
Feint (Core) x3
The Galadhrim’s Greeting (Core) x3
The White Council (TDT) x3

Hasty Stroke (Core) x2
Astonishing Speed (RtM) x2
Helm! Helm! (ToS) x2
Mustering the Rohirrim (THfG) x3
Dwarven Tomb (Core) x1

I find threat management to be of particular concern for Deck One against Helm’s Deep. Boromir ends up using his ability quite often given the constant flow of enemies, enemies that make additional attacks, and enemies that attack outside of the combat phase. When combined with the threat gain from Deeping Wall and the fact that the quest lasts at least eight rounds, the danger of hitting 50 is real. Therefore, I’ve doubled down on threat reduction with Elrond’s Counsel and three copies of The Galadhrim’s Greeting. I’ve also brought back in two important Tactics cards to support Boromir: Gondorian Discipline and Feint. The final piece of the puzzle is a card that I actually haven’t used much but could be a nice utility piece: The White Council. First of all, this event will allow a hero to ready, with my thought turned towards readying once again. For two resources, that would probably be too much, but it will also allow the deck that doesn’t ready to gain a resource, draw a card, or shuffle a card back in from the discard pile. The first two abilities could be quite handy in a variety of situations. In a scenario like this, I really value flexibility to meet the needs of changing situations, and together with Gandalf’s Staff, another utility piece, I should be able to make some magic happen when needed. To make room for the new events and the other cards in general, I’ve removed much of the Rohan focus, taking out all of the cards that honed in on that trait, along with the single copy of Dwarven Tomb. The new collection of events is designed much more for general use and consistency, which is often what is needed for a tough quest.

FINAL DECK SIZE: 52 (50 without the boons)


Deck Two looks to continue its ever-changing lineup since Pippin was lost during Breaking of the Fellowship. I could keep Treebeard around, but he has a high starting threat, and you’ll notice that Deck One was missing one important face: Gandalf. That’s right, Gandalf has returned through Beyond All Hope, but while he used to be part of Deck One, he isn’t a good fit there anymore, as he would drive the starting threat too high, which does Boromir no favors. However, I can fit him in as part of Deck Two alongside Merry, who has a very low starting threat. I’ve decided to keep Merry as at least one member of the original Hobbit trio should continue the adventure. As for Sam, I’ve sent him off back across the river, and you can expect him to make an appearance once The Land of Shadow is released and Frodo’s journey continues. There’s no way I’m separating Frodo and Sam, despite my predilection for alternate history! With Merry and Gandalf set, this leaves one hero to be decided…

Hero (3)
Gandalf (RD) x1
Beravor (Core) x1
Merry (TBR) x1

Gandalf and Merry give me a Neutral/Tactics deck. So the real question when deciding on the third hero is what I want the other sphere to be. Deck One has a heavy emphasis on Spirit, and Deck Two used to have access to Lore and Leadership beyond Tactics, so it seems that I am deciding between Lore and Leadership (all-Tactics is out of the question as Deck Two needs to take on some of the questing duties). Leadership certainly could provide some useful resource generation and questing support, and it’s a tough choice, but the healing and card draw of Lore seem much more necessary for Helm’s Deep at least. But which Lore hero to choose? I originally went with Denethor, believing that his defensive prowess could be invaluable, and his scrying/encounter deck manipulation could help to avoid the worst encounter cards. However, in practice, Denethor’s defense became redundant once Gandalf and Boromir were set up as key defenders on both sides, and what I really needed is better card draw for both decks, along with a hero that was more flexible and could help with questing, defense, or attack. The latter eliminated Bilbo from contention (despite wanting to fit him in the story). Instead, I went with Beravor. Certainly not the most thematic choice, but the best one in terms of deck building. As for roles, Gandalf will be involved in all three areas as often as possible, using readying, Merry will mostly quest but can also help with attack, while Beravor’s main job is actually drawing cards, but she can pitch in to either questing or combat, as needed.

Ally (18)
Elrond (TRD) x2
Warden of Healing (TLD) x3
Quickbeam (ToS) x2


Booming Ent (TAC) x3
Treebeard (TAC) x2
Wandering Ent (CS) x3
Honour Guard (TWoE) x3


Bill the Pony (TBR) x1
Gildor Inglorion (THoEM) x1
Errand-rider (HoN) x2
Faramir (Core) x2
Naith Guide (TDT) x3
Erebor Hammersmith (Core) x2
Gleowine (Core) x2

Putting this deck together entailed an almost complete revamp of the allies portion. First of all, the Leadership allies were removed with Sam bidding farewell. I then kept Elrond and Warden of Healing to maximize my healing options, while Quickbeam is just a badass. Then, I decided to go forth with a heavy Ent theme, adding Booming Ent, Treebeard, and Wandering Ent. This might seem like a weird fit for the scenario, as getting allies to the table that can immediately contribute seems a better fit. However, with plenty of action advantage available and strong heroes, I think I should be able to stem the tide in order to give the Ents time to get involved. Once they are ready, I’ll have extremely strong allies that can push me through the difficult middle-to-late rounds when the threat is really ramping up, damage has piled up, and nasty effects might be waiting around the corner. Basically, the Ents can be seen as mid-to-late game cards to solidify my position. As the final ally, I’ve brought in the brand new Honour Guard to help protect my heroes. This is especially important given that I’ve jettisoned Hasty Stroke from Deck One to make some room. The allies I’ve removed all had uses, but I wanted to focus in on raw questing and/or combat, rather than useful abilities.

Attachment (21)
Steward of Gondor (Core) x3
Sting (TRD) x1


Asfaloth (FoS) x2
A Burning Brand (CatC) x2
Gandalf’s Staff (RD) x2
Shadowfax (ToS) x3
Wizard Pipe (RD) x3
Dagger of Westernesse (TBR) x2
Secret Vigil (TLR) x3


Elf-stone (TBR) x2
Expert Treasure-hunter (OtD) x3
Self Preservation (Core) x3
Ent Draught (ToS) x2
Protector of Lorien (Core) x2
Dunedain Warning (CatC) x2
Cram (OHaUH) x3

First, the Leadership attachments (except one) were jettisoned. Then, I added in the relevant attachments for Gandalf (Gandalf’s Staff, Shadowfax, Wizard Pipe). Shadowfax is actually the key attachment in this deck and the number one card that I’m looking for in my opening hand, as it will allow me to quest right away with Gandalf while still having him available for combat (or allow him to defend multiple times or defend or attack, etc.). It also allows him to help out Deck One. Really, Gandalf is the key hero in this deck and pulls much of the weight with Merry and Beravor being more support heroes, so getting as much action advantage for him as early as possible is essential. Asfaloth is also a key mount here and can help to deal with location management in the manner I described in the strategy section above. As for Tactics attachments, I added in Secret Vigil for some extra threat reduction for both decks (also useful for reducing a bit of threat in the staging area), while Dagger of Westernesse can either allow Merry to have a little bit more punch in a Hobbit-lite deck or it can boost Gandalf’s attack. Many of the cards that were designed to support Treebeard, such as Self Preservation and Ent Draught, are not as essential as they were before. Certainly, they still could be used, but there is only so much room in a deck. I also had to ax Expert Treasure-hunter, despite it working so well with Gandalf and potentially setting up a Hidden Cache resource engine, simply because it doesn’t do well against Helm’s Deep. Most of the time, you won’t be questing successfully, so Expert Treasure-hunter won’t have much work. I will likely add it back in after this scenario, however. Astute readers will note that I did leave one Leadership attachment in place: Steward of Gondor. This is not a mistake. I really want some resource generation around to make up for the loss of Leadership, and Steward is the best choice. As for how I’ll play it, remember that Gandalf’s ability gives him a resource match for the top card. However, sometimes this isn’t enough if you end up drawing Steward without Wizard Pipe around, so I’ve included another trick in the events…

Event (12)
Daeron’s Runes (FoS) x3
The Three Hunters (ToS) x2

Halfling Determination (TBR) x2
Flame of Anor (RD) x3
A Good Harvest (TSF) x2

Tighten Our Belts (NiE) x2
Gildor’s Counsel (THoEM) x2
1 copy of The Three Hunters

Daeron’s Runes is just too fantastic to ever dismiss, while I remain a huge fan of the readying and stat boosts provided by The Three Hunters. In terms of cards removed, Tighten Our Belts is great, but I no longer have a natural resource match, and Gildor’s Counsel remains one of my all-time favorite cards and could be huge against Helm’s Deep, but I just couldn’t find room for it. Instead, I’ve added in Flame of Anor to give some extra actions to Gandalf and turn him into a fantastic one Istari attacking force. The ideal situation would be for Merry to attack with a Gandalf boosted by Flame of Anor, as Merry could ready Gandalf after that first attack for the wizard to use his high attack strength on a second enemy. Halfling Determination makes it back into the mix mainly as a way to boost Merry’s willpower during questing when I find myself falling a little short. Finally, the underrated card, A Good Harvest, is the second means I mentioned of paying for Steward of Gondor if it ends up in hand. A Good Harvest is a great way to splash off-sphere cards, as it also doubles as a means of smoothing resources, such as between Tactics and Lore in this deck.

FINAL DECK SIZE: 51 (50 without the boons)

The final decks look like this (not including the boons):













With these changes made, I’m now ready to take on the epic challenges that await. Overall, I’m really pleased with the composition of Deck One, as it parallels decks that I have made outside of Campaign Mode that have fared quite well. Deck Two is a bit more of a work in progress, but I think the idea of placing the spotlight firmly on Gandalf, while pairing him with two support heroes is intriguing.

Isengard has emptied and a massive army marches towards Helm’s Deep. The War of the Ring has truly begun and one of the great battles of our time will soon commence. Will our heroes be able to stem the tide against all odds and save the land of Rohan? And at what cost will victory be purchased? Find out soon!

From → Strategy

  1. Azurelius permalink

    Excited to see the outcome of this, especially with a pumped up Gandalf. I’m intrigued to see how powerful he can be.

    I somewhat disagree about the penalties for chump blocking here – they didn’t seem too terrible (asides from the loss of the character, of course). I found I was often losing a quest stage by a substantial amount in my playthroughs or questing successfully or within the “margin of error” from a location, so 1 or 2 added progress rarely made much of a difference. The Dunland enemies’ effects similarly didn’t make too much difference or even helped – I once deliberately chumped a Warrior of Dunland to explore Helm’s Gate during the last enemy attack of the round!

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      I see what you’re saying. I feel like although 1 or 2 added progress here or there don’t sound like much, they can sometimes be the difference between victory and defeat, whether it’s setting up a location to be explored when you can least afford it, say by a Hillman or shadow effect that unexpectedly adds that final progress, and if you wouldn’t have chump blocked that round or a previous round then it wouldn’t have happened. Sometimes it’s hard to see how 1 or 2 tokens play out over several rounds, let alone an entire game.

      On the other hand, I agree with you that these penalties for chump blocking are not as bad outright as those in other scenarios.

    • kwitee permalink

      I guess you can Nor am I a stranger him and then give him Herugrim to for 8 attack? Just a thought 🙂

      • TalesfromtheCards permalink

        Heh, it may be worth trying at some point! Too bad he’s not an Elf and can’t use Fair and Perilous.

  2. ecthelionthethird permalink

    Have you considered using Path of Need? This was brought up on the forums and it seems like an effective (though inconsistent) strategy

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      I considered and it does seem like it could definitely be helpful, but decided to leave it out.

  3. Finally played it tonight in my three-player campaign.
    Elrohir, Elladan, Éomer
    Gandalf, Eowyn, Galadriel
    Boromir, Spirit Glorfindel, Spirit Merry

    No healing, covered in arrows, but made it out alive!

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      Impressive to do it without healing, and in 3 players! I haven’t tried it in 3 or 4 player, so I’m not sure how it scales, but it seems brutal!

      • The conversations at the table go something like this:

        Imrahil suddenly laughed aloud.

        ‘Surely,’ he cried ‘this is the greatest jest in all the history of Gondor: that we should ride with seven thousands, scarce as many as the vanguard of its army in the days of its power, to assail the mountains, and the impenetrable gate of the Black Land! So might a child threaten a mail-clad knight with a bow of string and green willow! If the Dark Lord knows so much as you say, Mithrandir, will he not rather smile than fear, and with his little finger crush us like a fly that tries to sting him?’

        ‘No, he will try to trap the fly and take the sting,’ saif Gandalf. ‘And there are names among us that are worth more than a thousand mail-clad knights apiece. No, he will not smile.’

  4. kwitee permalink

    This quest is quickly becoming one of my favorite quests. No matter what I do, it always seems to have epic ending. I finished it after 3 tries with decks:
    Glorfindel (Spirit), Sam, Theoden (Spirit) – 24 threat – rohan deck
    Gandalf, Pipin (Lore), Mery (Tactics) – 26 threat – ent deck
    It really helped me to have low starting threat. I could choose my battles before my decks was ready to go (ent deck in particular needed this).

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      Agreed. It rarely produces a boring game, and the victories are usually tense. I really, really enjoy this scenario!

  5. tipbruley permalink

    Great post and a lot of good strategy in here that got me thinking

    My wife and I tried this three times and got our butts kicked each time. Just realized from reading the two reviews that this was a combination of playing the scenario wrong (we thought excess threat from the questing phase bypassed placing progress on the active location), and the fact that we got really unlucky with our initial draw (all three times we got Night without end in the setup or first round and scaling ladders was a death sentence with how we were playing).

    Going to take another crack at it again, but switching up our heroes to be Sam/Merry/Beorn and glorfindel/Elrond/Lore Faramir. I think this scenario really gives the chance for Beorn to shine, as you can boost his defense to 2 with Deepening Walls, most enemies start at 3 attack, and he can also be healed when Devilry of Saruman shows up

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