A Knife In The Dark: Playthrough

The Decks I have used for the quest, and the notes for them, can be found here and here. The narrative for the quest can be found here.

Encounter Deck Set-up:
Set each copy of Ringwraith, The Witch-king, Midgewater and Weathertop aside, out of play.
Add The Prancing Pony and Bill Ferny to the staging area.
Add Gandalf’s Delay to the staging area
Shuffle Gildor Inglorion into the encounter deck

Player Deck Set-up:
Attach The One Ring and Old Bogey-stories to Frodo Baggins.
Deck One draws opening hand, adds Ho! Tom Bombadil! to hand.
Deck Two draws opening hand

So while my heroes haven’t exactly been idle, it does feel good to be back onto more familiar ground. 

Deck One
Threat: 23
Bilbo Baggins
Pippin (Lore)
Sam Gamgee

Starting Hand:
Ho! Tom Bombadil!
Quickbeam
None Return
Ranger Provisions
Hobbit Cloak
Son of Arnor

So not the ideal starting hand, would really have wanted a Song or Fast Hitch, but with Son of Arnor needed to tackle Bill Ferny quickly I can’t really pass it up.

Deck Two
Threat: 21
Merry (Tactics)
Tom Cotton
Fatty Bolger

Starting Hand:
West Road Traveller
Khazad! Khazad!
Sterner Than Steel
Longbeard Sentry
Song Of Travel

Again not the perfect hand, but a Song of Travel is welcome, and that West Road Traveller gives me an idea…

Turn No.1
Stage: 1B (0/8)
Active Location: –
Staging Area:
Bill Ferny (3 threat)
The Prancing Pony (0/4, 2 threat)

Resource Phase
Deck One Hand (New Card in Bold):
Ho! Tom Bombadil!, Quickbeam, None Return, Ranger Provisions, Hobbit Cloak, Son of Arnor, Rosie Cotton, A Burning Brand
Bilbo (1), Pippin (1), Sam (1), Frodo (1)

Fantastic draw, love Burning Brand and Rosie is amazing

Deck Two Hand:
West Road Traveller, Khazad! Khazad!,Sterner Than Steel, Longbeard Sentry, Song Of Travel, Marksman of Lorien
Merry (1), Tom Cotton (1), Fatty (1)

Again, great card. The debuff to enemy defense will be key to defeating the Nazgul in this quest.

Planning Phase
Deck One:
Quickbeam: deal one damage to Quickbeam to ready him. (Great ally, we’ll see a lot of use out of him.)
Hobbit Cloak-Tom Cotton (Time to get his defense up and running)

Deck Two:
Song of Travel-Merry (Let’s save the other resources for later on)

Quest Phase
Bilbo-1
Pippin-2
Sam-3
Merry-2
Fatty-1

Total willpower: 9

We want to keep folk back for the planned attack on Bill Ferny, so we’re not going all in on questing.

1: Lure of the Ring: Exhaust the One Ring. Trigger surge (Ouch)
1.1: Unwanted Attention: Remove Pippin and Bilbo from the quest (We do not want Ringwraiths shuffled in if we can at all help it!)
2: Black Breath (Sigh. Three treacheries? Well, sorry Fatty but you’re up) Attach Black Breath to Fatty.

Trigger Bill Ferny: (Again, avoiding RIngwraiths if at all possible) Deck One raises its threat by 1, Deck Two raises its threat by 2.

Total threat: 5

Total willpower: 5

Questing drawn, no progress placed.

Well that wasn’t terrible, we didn’t fail to quest so our threat doesn’t go up yet again. Silver linings folks.

Travel Phase
Travel to The Pranicng Pony.
Trigger The Prancing Pony: Deck One puts Son of Arnor into play.
Trigger Son of Arnor: Deck One engages Bill Ferny.
Trigger Sam, trigger Pippin: Wellinghall Preserver (Yes! And that’s how a hobbit deck functions!)

Encounter Phase

Combat Phase
Shadow Card dealt to Bill Ferny
No defender declared
Weather Hills revealed as Shadow
Bill Ferny attacks (1), deals 1 damage to Sam
Sam attacks (2), Frodo attacks (1), Quickbeam attacks (3), Son of Arnor attacks (2), destroys Bill Ferny. Add Bill Ferny to the victory display.

And there you have it. With a good opening hand, and a lot of luck, you too can defeat Bill Ferny on Turn 1

Refresh Phase
Raise each player’s threat by 1
Deck One: 25
Deck Two: 24

Well that was a most satisfactory first turn. Bill is dead, the staging area is clear and things are looking up. Surely no Nazgul will show up and spoil the fun, right?

Turn No.2
Stage: 1B (0/8)
Active Location: The Prancing Pony (0/4)
Staging Area: –

Resource Phase
Deck Two Hand (New Card in Bold):
West Road Traveler, Khazad! Khazad!,Sterner Than Steel, Longbeard Sentry, Marksman of Lorien, A Test of Will, Ring Mail
Merry (2), Tom Cotton (1), Fatty (2), Frodo (2)

There’s that treachery control we need.

Deck One Hand:
Ho! Tom Bombadil!, None Return, Ranger Provisions, Rosie Cotton,A Burning Brand, Wellinghall Preserver, Frodo’s Intuition
Bilbo (1), Pippin (1), Sam (1)

And here is one of my favourites, Frodo’s Intuition

Planning Phase
Deck Two:
Ring Mail-Tom Cotton

Deck One:

Again, we need to save up so we can afford things such as the Preserver, Rosie and the Longbeard Sentry.

Quest Phase
Pippin-2
Sam-3
Frodo-2

Total willpower: 7

So we’re not looking for a vast amount of willpower this time, just enough to win questing really.

1: Shady Breelander (2 threat)
2:Pathless Country (2 threat)

Total threat: 4

So this is perfect, for reasons that will hopefully become clear.

Win by 3, place 3 progress on Prancing Pony.

Travel Phase

Encounter Phase
Let’s try and keep the staging area clear if we can.

Deck One optionally engages Shady Breelander
Trigger Sam, trigger Pippin: Hobbit Cloak (More defense? Yes please.)

Combat Phase
Shadow Card dealt to Shady Breelander
Bilbo defends (2)
Black Breath revealed as Shadow Card
Shady Breelander attacks (3), deals 1 damage to Bilbo
Quickbeam attacks (3), Son of Arnor attacks (2), destroys Shady Breelander

Another one down, we’re keeping things under control for now.

Refresh Phase
Raise each player’s threat by 1
Deck Two: 25
Deck One: 26

Turn No.3
Stage: 1B (0/8)
Active Location: The Prancing Pony (3/4)
Staging Area:
Pathless Country (0/7, 2 threat)

Resource Phase
Deck One Hand (New Card in Bold):
Ho! Tom Bombadil!, None Return, Ranger Provisions, Rosie Cotton,A Burning Brand, Wellinghall Preserver, Frodo’s Intuition, Hobbit Cloak, Ranger Provisions, Song of Kings
Bilbo (2), Pippin (2), Sam (2), Frodo (3)

So we have more resource smoothing and acceleration, always a good thing. No Bill the Pony though, which would give the hobbits much needed extra hitpoints.

Deck Two Hand:
West Road Traveler, Khazad! Khazad!,Sterner Than Steel, Longbeard Sentry, Marksman of Lorien, A Test of Will, West Road Traveller
Merry (2), Tom Cotton (1), Fatty (2)

More willpower and future shenanigans in view

Planning Phase
Deck One:
Frodo’s Intuition: The Evening Star, Ithilien Lookout, None Return, Elf-stone (Very nice indeed.)
Ranger Provisions-Pathless Country
Elf-stone-Pathless Country
Song of Kings-Bilbo
Rosie Cotton
Hobbit Cloak-Sam

This deck is starting to get some legs, but things aren’t done yet.

Deck Two:
West Road Traveller: Switch The Prancing Pony into the staging area and make Pathless Country the active location
Longbeard Sentry

Not quite as explosive, but helps Deck One immensely.

Quest Phase
Bilbo-2
Pippin-3
Sam-4
Frodo-3
West Road Traveller-2

Total willpower: 14

If possible, our aim is to explore Pathless Country and trigger Elf-stone and Ranger Provisions

1: Chetwood (2 threat) (Nice soft location, though we can’t let it stay there too long.)
2: Piercing Cry (And which a shriek, the Nazgul come!) Search the encounter deck for Rider of Morder, put into play engaged with Deck One.
Trigger Rider of Mordor: each hero get -1 willpower.
Trigger Sam, trigger Pippin: Naith Guide

Total threat: 4

The Rider is engaged with Deck One because the -3 total willpower (Sam gets a boost) is not as bad as the extra 4 threat in the staging area, but we get to trigger Pippin’s card draw.

Total willpower: 11

Win by 7, explore Pathless Country, place 3 progress on Stage 1B.
Trigger Ranger Provisions
Trigger Elf-stone: Wellinghall Preserver (Who else? Yes he’s exhausted, but he’ll get up and running soon).

Travel Phase
Travel to The Prancing Pony
Trigger The Prancing Pony: Ithilien Lookout
Trigger Ithilien Lookout: Discard Shady Breelander

How is that for shenanigans? And guess what, we’ve still got another West Road Traveller

Encounter Phase

Combat Phase
Shadow Card dealt to Rider of Mordor
Ithilien Lookout defends (2)
Chetwood revealed as Shadow, None Return discarded randomly
Rider of Mordor attacks (4), destroys Ithilien Lookout
Rosie Cotton exhausts to boost Sam’s attack by 2
Sam attacks (4), Quickbeam attacks (3), Son of Arnor attacks (2), destroys Rider of Mordor
Deck One plays None Return, add None Return and Rider of Mordor to the victory display.

One Nazgul down and out! Now there’s just one left, but we lost that other copy of None Return so it will probably come back if we kill it.

Refresh Phase
Trigger Wellinghall Preserver: heal 1 damage from Quickbeam.

Raise each player’s threat by 1
Deck One: 27
Deck Two: 26

Ok, well I must say that was a very good turn! I think that soon we’ll be wanting to move on from Bree, but we’ll give it one turn longer.

Turn No.4
Stage: 1B (3/8)
Active Location: The Prancing Pony (3/4)
Staging Area:
Chetwood (0/2, 2 threat)

Resource Phase
Deck Two Hand (New Card in Bold):
Khazad! Khazad!, Sterner than Steel, Marksman of Lorien, A Test of Will, West Road Traveller, Longbeard Sentry, Smoke Rings
Merry (2), Tom Cotton (1), Fatty (2), Frodo (3)

So more defense is nice, but the latter is useless without pipes. And where are my Daggers?

Deck One Hand:
Ho! Tom Bombadil!, A Burning Brand, Ranger Provisions, The Evening Star, Naith Guide, Song of Kings
Bilbo (2), Pippin (1), Sam (3)

I suppose more resource smoothing is never a bad thing.

Planning Phase
Deck Two:
West Road Traveller: Switch The Prancing Pony into the staging area and make Chetwood the active location.

We’re going to save the Sentry for the Prancing Pony effect, and it would be a waste to use the Marksman now.

Deck One:
Ranger Provisions-Chetwood
Song of Kings-Pippin

This should make things easier to pay for Halbarad or Gimli, when they show up.

Quest Phase
Bilbo-1
Pippin-2
Sam-3
Wellinghall Preserver-3
West Road Traveller-2
West Road Traveller-2

Total willpower: 13

This ought to clear out Chetwood, and hopefully get Stage 1B near done.

1: Unwanted Attention (Well since Deck Two doesn’t have two heroes questing, and we are absolutely not adding in a Ringwraith if it can be avoided, I suppose we’re canceling.) Deck Two plays A Test of Will.
2: Gildor Inglorion (Well this is early for you. Very good to see you again!)

Total threat: 2

Win by 11, explore Chetwood, place 9 progress on Stage 1b (12/8)

Well that was unexpected, but not unwelcome.

Travel Phase
Travel to The Prancing Pony
Trigger The Prancing Pony: Longbeard Sentry

I think that might be the last time we can exploit that establishment. Let’s move on.

Deck Two plays The Evening Star: explore Prancing Pony, add it to the victory display.
Trigger The Prancing Pony: Pathless Country, Chetwood, Weather Hills, Pale Blade, Shady Breelander and Squint-eyed Southerner all discarded. Shady Breelander and Squint-eyed Southerner put into play engaged with Deck Two.

Complete Stage 1B, trigger Stage 2B, add Midgewater to the staging area. Each player puts one progress on Stage 2B.

Encounter Phase

Combat Phase
As in The Old Forest, I know all enemies resolve attacks before I attack back, as they did as I played the game, but for the ease of writing this out in a clear manner, I will deal with each enemy separately.

Shadow Card dealt to Shady Breelander
Tom Cotton defends (6)
Power in Their Terror revealed as Shadow: Discard Hobbit Cloak from Tom Cotton
Shady Breelander attacks (3), deals no damage
Merry attacks (4), Frodo attacks (1), destroys Shady Breelander

Shadow Card dealt to Squint-eyed Southerner
Longbeard Sentry defends (2)
Piercing Cry revealed as Shadow (ouch, a second attack?)
Squint-eyed Southerner attacks (2), deals no damage

Shadow Card dealt to Squint-eyed Southerner
Longbeard Sentry defends (2) (got to love them dwarves)
Pale Blade revealed as Shadow
Squint-eyed Southerner attacks (2), deals no damage

Gildor can’t hurt him so we’ll leave it at that.

Refresh Phase
Raise each player’s threat by 1
Deck Two: 27
Deck One: 28

Pay one Fellowship resource to keep Gildor Inglorion, Deck One takes control.
Trigger Stage 2B: remove 2 progress from the quest stage.

So next turn we need to make progress and we need to make it fast otherwise we’ll be forced to shuffle in Nazgul

Turn No.5
Stage: 2B (0/6)
Active Location: –
Staging Area:
Midgewater (0/6, 3 threat)

Resource Phase
Deck One Hand (New Card in Bold):
Ho! Tom Bombadil!, A Burning Brand, The Evening Star, Naith Guide, Halbarad, Lindon Navigator
Bilbo (3), Pippin (2), Sam (2), Frodo (4)

While he came up a bit late for The Prancing Pony, I’m still glad to see Halbarad as his ability means that more things will trigger Pippin and Sam.

Deck Two Hand:
Khazad! Khazad!, Sterner than Steel, Marksman of Lorien, Smoke RIngs, Feint
Merry (2), Tom Cotton (3), Fatty (3)

Good, this’ll really help against the Ringwraiths during the final battle.

Planning Phase
Deck One:
Lindon Navigator
Halbarad

I know Halbarad is expensive, but his ability negates the Rider of Mordor’s negative engagement cost if The One Ring is exhausted

Deck Two:

Again, not going to play anything yet.

Quest Phase
Bilbo-1
Pippin-2
Sam-3
Gildor-3
Wellinghall Preserver-3
Lindon Navigator-2
Ithilien Lookout-1
West Road Traveller-2
West Road Traveller-2

Total willpower: 19

Most of these questers have negligible attack/defense or can easily ready so there’s little point in doing anything else with them.

1: Pathless Country (2 threat)
2: Pale Blade: trigger surge
2.1: Squint-eyed Southerner (2 threat): Trigger Squint-eyed Southerner, reveal an extra encounter card
2.2: Rider of Mordor (4 threat) (And there’s the other one.)

Total threat: 11

Win by 8, place 8 progress on Stage 2B (8/6)

Trigger Lindon Navigator: Discard Ho! Tom Bombadil!

I think we’re going to have to travel to Midgewater and just suck up the fact we’ll have an extra two Southerners to deal with on the other side.

Travel Phase
Travel to Midgewater
Trigger Midgewater, return Squint-eyed Southerner to the staging area

There they go.

Encounter Phase

Combat Phase

Refresh Phase
Raise each player’s threat by 1
Deck One: 29
Deck Two: 28

Pay one Fellowship resource to keep Gildor Inglorion, Deck One takes control.
Trigger Stage 2B: remove 2 progress from the quest stage.

So the goal is now to blitz through Midgewater and just deal with the enemies as best we can on the other side.

Turn No.6
Stage: 2B (6/6)
Active Location: Midgewater (0/6)
Staging Area:
Pathless Country (2 threat, 0/7)
Squint-eyed Southerner (2 threat)
Squint-eyed Southerner (2 threat)
Rider of Mordor (4 threat)

Resource Phase
Deck Two Hand (New Cards in Bold):
Khazad! Khazad!, Sterner than Steel, Marksman of Lorien, Smoke Rings, Feint, Followed, Bofur
Merry (3), Tom Cotton (4), Fatty (4), Frodo (4)

So I am really excited to try out Followed, I just got that pack yesterday and it looks awesome! Also, maybe Bofur can help us in our quest for a dagger.

Deck One Hand:
A Burning Brand, The Evening Star, Naith Guide, Fast Hitch
Bilbo (1), Pippin (1), Sam (2)

Brilliant, now Sam can work twice as well!

Planning Phase
Deck Two:
Followed
Bofur
Trigger Bofur: Followed, Marksman of Lorien, Dagger of Westernesse, Hobbit Pipe, Northern Tracker (So all of those are amazing cards shuffled back in, but I’m still glad to get my Dagger)
Dagger of Westernesse: Merry (Should be obvious)

Deck One:
Naith Guide: Frodo (Sam already has a native readying ability)
Fast Hitch-Sam (And now he has a second!)

Quest Phase
Bilbo-1
Pippin-2
Sam-3
Frodo-2
Lindon Navigator-2
Naith Guide-1
Wellinghall Preserver-3
West Road Traveller-2
West Road Traveller-2

Total willpower: 18

Again, trying to clear Midgewater this turn.

1: Piercing Cry: no effect. (No Nazgul left!)
2: Shady Breelander (2 threat)

Total threat: 12

Win by 6 (perfect!), explore Midgewater, add it to the victory display. Complete Stage 2B, trigger Stage 3A. Add Weathertop and The Witch-king to the staging area. Search the encounter deck and discard pile and add each Nazgûl enemy found to the staging area (There are no more.). Shuffle the encounter deck.

Alrighty then, lets try and finish this quest now.

Trigger Lindon Navigator: discard A Burning Brand

Travel Phase
Exhaust The One Ring to travel to Weathertop. (Because theme)

Encounter Phase
Deck Two optionally engages The Witchking

Deck one optionally engages Rider of Mordor
Trigger Halbarad to increase engagement cost of Rider of Mordor to 35.
Trigger Sam, trigger Pippin: Halbarad (…huh)

Combat Phase
Shadow Card dealt to The Witchking
Rosie Cotton exhausts to raise Tom Cotton’s willpower by 2
Tom Cotton declared as defender (4)
Weather Hills revealed as Shadow
The Witchking attacks (6), deals 2 damage to Tom Cotton
Deck Two plays Khazad! Khazad! to raise Longbeard Sentry’s attack by 3
Merry attacks (6), Frodo attacks (1), Gildor attacks (3), Longbeard Sentry attacks (4), destroys The Witchking

And the quarterback is down!

Shadow Card is dealt to Rider of Mordor
Sam defends (4)
Squint-eyed Southerner revealed as Shadow
Rider of Mordor attacks (4), deals no damage
Halbarad attacks (2), Son of Arnor attacks (2), Quickbeam attacks (3), Ithilien Lookout attacks (2), destroys Rider of Mordor

Victory.

Victory display: Bill Ferny (1), None Return (0), Rider of Mordor (0), The Prancing Pony (1), Midgewater (1)

Score: 28 threat + 27 threat + 60 for turns taken, 1 for damage on Bilbo, 1 for damage on Sam, 2 for damage on Tom Cotton, -3 for victory points=116

Well there you have it. We were a little caught up in Bree for a wee bit, but once we moved on from the village we made quite rapid progress. I suppose you could say the reason we finished so quickly at the end was because we cheated by using None Return to take out a third of the Nazgul from the final confrontation, but with hobbits you need to resort to trickery to smooth your way past the toughest enemies. And then there was the use of West Road Traveller to recur The Prancing Pony’s ability to get allies in for free, which was also cheeky but it’s an inn. Folk show up there all the time.

Choosing boons here was a tough one. I knew I wanted Valiant Warrior on Merry from the start, boosting him to 4 or 5 native attack, depending on who’s the first player. As for the other side, I want to take Sam forwards beyond Rivendell, largely because of the theme but also because he is a fantastic hero. So the question became which suits Sam best. Skilled Healer would boost his hitpoint, and allow him to take Athelas, which is an underrated card in my opinion. Tireless Ranger boosts his defence, which when coupled with his ability and a humble Hobbit Cloak takes him to an impressive 5 defense. On the other hand, Noble Hero takes him to 4 willpower, and he will pretty much always be questing every turn. I think healing is a bit situational, and Athelas is out of sphere, so that’s knocked out the running for me. As for either questing or defending, the choice becomes really tough for me here. I really like his ability to boost his stats, especially for defense as a solid hero defender is harder to come by, but he will always be questing so he will make more use out of that boost. On balance, I’ll be able to find more questing heroes easier than strong defenders so I’m afraid to say I’m going to have to go with Tireless Ranger on Sam.

Did I choose the right boons? Let me know what you think below!

Add Tireless Ranger to the Campaign Pool, attached to Sam Gamgee.
Add Valiant Warrior to the Campaign Pool, attached to Merry.

mec31-the-ring-draws-them-art

One thought on “A Knife In The Dark: Playthrough

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