Quests Revisited: Road to Rivendell
Thomas N. returns with the next installment of his Quests Revisited series. Enjoy! -Ian
When we last left our company, Arwen successfully passed Caradhras and evaded multiple snowstorms. Now, her twin brothers join her on the final leg of the Road to Rivendell. Will the company successfully complete the journey? Find out below!
First off, these decks were redesigned from the decks that my friend and I originally built months ago. Based on our win-loss ratio of those particular decks, I tweaked the sphere balance. As a result, the win percentage increased dramatically. If you lose to a scenario enough, it signals that you should probably change some things. Each scenario is different and requires different tools and strategies. You can find my solution to the scenario at the conclusion or here: http://ringsdb.com/fellowship/view/552/arwen-s-escort-along-the-road-to-rivendell.
One thing I am going to do from now on is include the AP’s hero in my deck and build around that. I would have done that on the previous scenario, but it makes more sense to pair Elrohir with Elladan than have him in a scenario by himself. However, I use two decks so there is one twin per deck. As long as both are in play, the benefits trigger.
This scenario requires a balance of combat, questing, and treachery cancellation. It is vital not to have a too focused deck because of the encounter cards. The keyword “ambush” is introduced in this set; this lets enemies engage players when they enter play before the engagement phase if a player’s threat is high. If all you can do is quest, all your characters will die because of combat and undefended attacks when enemies ultimately engage. Conversely, if all you can do is fight, you’ll threat out before you can get to the end if the other deck does not pick up the slack because they are getting attacked by enemies with Ambush. Balance is necessary to avoid defeat.
Originally, the two decks included Legolas, Elladan, Elrohir and Éowyn, Denethor, Beravor. We noticed that the sphere balance and hero selection had too much combat and not enough willpower in the first pair. I tweaked the heroes and the revised setup is Elrohir, Theodred, Glorfindel and Éowyn, Eleanor, Elladan. This worked substantially better because there was enough questing from Glorfindel, Éowyn, and Theodred to hold off the staging area threat until allies hit the table. Once the board state is set up, Glorfindel doubles as a second attacker. Near the end of the scenario, his three willpower is nothing to scoff at when it comes to a final push.
Treacheries in this scenario are by far the hardest part of the scenario. Certain combinations led to almost certain defeat. If they can be cancelled, cards like Sleeping Sentry, Followed by Night, or Orc Ambush almost always need to be. Eleanor and Test of Wills help with that. If no treacheries need cancellation, Eleanor acts as a defender in addition to providing spirit resources to bring forth Riders of Rohan.
The last thing needed besides questing and combat is a bit of healing. While it is possible to get through this scenario without healing, it is much safer to include some form or another; there is so much ally damage dealt it is unlikely Arwen can avoid every card. Initially, the lore deck included both Lore of Imladris and Self Preservation for healing. At this point in the game, there are few options to heal allies. Both of these cards are expensive for healing a single point of damage and Self Preservation in particular can disappear to treacheries. I wished I had Warden of Healing because he is so powerful at healing small amounts of damage across multiple characters. Then I remembered that lore Glorfindel exists and that solved everything. His ability is substantially cheaper than Lore of Imladris or Self Preservation and is extremely repeatable in addition to his hero stats. By removing these two lore cards, other cards can be included.
One combination of cards I want to touch on before I move on relates to Elrohir. Having a repeatable strong defender is great, but many of the shadow cards in the scenario are annoying to deal with. The only thing Elrohir lacks is a lore icon for A Burning Brand. Song of Wisdom solves that in addition to opening up the ability to pay for expensive lore allies like Gildor Inglorion or Haldir. Elrohir will always have Steward of Gondor attached to guarantee he has enough resources to defend; with Song of Wisdom, now he becomes an amazing defender. Slap on Dunedain Signal and he becomes a defending powerhouse.
Game Experience and Strategy:
Like I said above, the first play session saw my friend and I thoroughly destroyed time and time again. Out of the five games we played, we won once with our previous setup; not enough willpower and minimal threat cancellation does that. There were a few instances where Sleeping Sentry triggered and we could not cancel it. Or Orc Ambush triggered when the staging area was empty; it’s difficult to survive when fifteen orcs engage players on a turn instead of two. The second session had four wins out of six games. The two losses were not preventable because of specific encounter card interactions.
While any of the next three treachery cards are terrible when they show up, the card that handed me two losses was Crebain. Each of the three cards makes the board state significantly worse, (for Orc Ambush, it’s crippling if no orcs are in the staging area) at least they are able to be cancelled on their own. Crebain makes that impossible.
Other than hoping that Crebain does not get put into the staging area and surge into one of these cards, what’s possible?
Followed by Night:
One suggestion is including allies that have more than one hit-point. Unfortunately, that is limited with the chronological card pool. It is also extremely expensive to get more hit points and Elrohir functions best with a large resource pool to defend attacks. Another suggestion is to have a bunch of chump blockers die to attacks triggered from this card. Either way, many allies will die if this card triggers.
This card can hit or miss. I define a miss as having a reasonable number of orcs in the staging are (three maximum). When that happens, the card isn’t so bad, particularly if they engage the Elrohir deck. However, when it hits, not much survives. It’s extremely difficult dealing with an influx of fifteen orcs to the staging area. It is also highly likely that threat is high enough they will all engage the players. On top of that, the card surges into more nasty cards. The game state decides when it is necessary to cancel. My two solutions are to either finish the quest quickly, which reduces encounter card shenanigans, or to have enough allies or heroes that can block attacks if this card hits.
This card is always a must cancel if possible. Regardless of the when revealed effect or the shadow, this is the worst card to deal with in the entire scenario. On multiple occasions, this card ended the game. When you depend on characters to defend attacks and they are exhausted, most of the time at least one hero is going to die if not more. One way to deal with it is have a repeatable defender, Elrohir, with burning brand to deal with the shadow. Eleanor and Test of Will deal with the when revealed effects.
Other than these cards, the scenario is not particularly difficult. Many of the cards are used in earlier sets so they should not come as a surprise. Having enough allies in play helps deal with combats in addition to helping questing. The locations are straightforward; none of them are terrible, just annoying.
One general tip is quest through this as quickly as possible. The longer the scenario goes, the greater risk that any of those difficult cards show up. Questing is especially important on the last stage because characters can no longer heal. If Arwen is wounded on this stage, there is a much greater risk of her dying. Quest through it and you will be fine.
Overall, this is a decent quest. It does not require the same specifications as Redhorn Gate. Some specific cards are necessary, but not enough that it makes deck building more challenging. I think the quest is better than Redhorn Gate, but not as enjoyable as The Seventh Level. The outlined treachery cards are definitely some of the most frustrating cards to deal with in this stage of the game. I understand that the game is designed to be difficult, but if Crebain surges into Sleeping Sentry, it makes it unbearably difficult when enemies engage or will engage. Like Redhorn Gate, this is not one that I regularly play, but it can definitely be a challenge if you don’t make enough progress fast enough in the game.
Next time we get a new version of Aragorn and a scenario where scrying and threat control are vital to survive. Join me next time as I continue this series with Watcher in the Water!
Elrohir (The Redhorn Gate)
Glorfindel (Core Set)
Théodred (Core Set)
2x Faramir (Core Set)
3x Gandalf (Core Set)
2x Gildor Inglorion (The Hills of Emyn Muil)
2x Gléowine (Core Set)
3x Guard of the Citadel (Core Set)
2x Haldir of Lórien (A Journey to Rhosgobel)
1x Henamarth Riversong (Core Set)
2x Longbeard Orc Slayer (Core Set)
3x Snowbourn Scout (Core Set)
3x A Burning Brand (Conflict at the Carrock)
1x Celebrían’s Stone (Core Set)
2x Dúnedain Cache (The Dead Marshes)
3x Dúnedain Mark (The Hunt for Gollum)
2x Dúnedain Signal (Return to Mirkwood)
3x Dúnedain Warning (Conflict at the Carrock)
3x Song of Wisdom (Conflict at the Carrock)
2x Steward of Gondor (Core Set)
3x Campfire Tales (The Hunt for Gollum)
2x Rumour from the Earth (Return to Mirkwood)
2x Secret Paths (Core Set)
2x Sneak Attack (Core Set)
2x Valiant Sacrifice (Core Set)
Eleanor (Core Set)
Elladan (Road to Rivendell)
Éowyn (Core Set)
3x Escort from Edoras (A Journey to Rhosgobel)
3x Gondorian Spearman (Core Set)
3x The Riddermark’s Finest (The Hills of Emyn Muil)
3x Vassal of the Windlord (The Dead Marshes)
3x West Road Traveller (Return to Mirkwood)
3x Westfold Horse-Breaker (The Hunt for Gollum)
3x Winged Guardian (The Hunt for Gollum)
3x Zigil Miner (Khazad-dûm)
3x Ancient Mathom (A Journey to Rhosgobel)
2x Blade of Gondolin (Core Set)
3x Rivendell Blade (Road to Rivendell)
3x Song of Eärendil (Road to Rivendell)
1x Unexpected Courage (Core Set)
2x A Test of Will (Core Set)
2x Astonishing Speed (Return to Mirkwood)
1x Dwarven Tomb (Core Set)
2x Feint (Core Set)
2x Hasty Stroke (Core Set)
2x Quick Strike (Core Set)
3x Stand and Fight (Core Set)