Journey 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 The Balrog, The Great Bridge and Chamber of Mazarbul aside out of play.
Add Doom, Doom, Doom to the staging area and place 10 damage on it.
Add Gandalf’s Delay, Grievous Wound and Overcome by Grief to the staging area
Shuffle Gildor Inglorion, Panicked, Weight Of The Ring, Lust for the Ring, Pursued by the Enemy and Shadow of Fear into the encounter deck. (That’s a lot of extra treacheries!)
Add Mines of Moria (0/4, 2 threat), and Many-pillared Hall (0/6, 2 threat) to the staging area.

The reasoning behind these two locations isn’t complicated, they have the least threat total possible for the staging area. We’ll need to get rid of Many-Pillared Hall as quickly as possible, otherwise the threat has the potential to spiral out of control.

Player Deck Set-up:
Attach The One Ring and Old Bogey-stories to Frodo Baggins.
Attach Tireless Ranger to Sam Gamgee.
Attach Valiant Warrior to Merry.
Deck One draws opening hand, adds Ho! Tom Bombadil! to his hand, adds Glamdring and Anduril to his deck
Deck Two draws opening hand, adds Mithril Shirt and Sting to his deck

Deck One
Threat: 25
Sam Gamgee
Aragorn (Leadership)
Glorfindel (Spirit)

Starting Hand:
Ho! Tom Bombadil!
Steward of Gondor
Dunedain Warning
Elrohir
Ancient Mathom
Sword that was Broken

So it’s not the ideal starting hand, but it’s too good to pass up. I was really looking for Light of Valinor to open out of the gates with.Hopefully Ancient Mathom will let us draw into some other cards we need, like or Anduril.

Deck Two
Threat: 28
Merry (Tactics)
Gimli (Tactics)
Faramir (Lore)

Starting Hand:
Rivendell Blade
The Evening Star
Blade of Gondolin
Sting
Secret Vigil

This, on the other hand, is a near perfect draw. We have here direct progress generation, combat boosting and quest smoothing all at once, and all for bargain prices! I think I may prefer these toolbox decks where there isn’t a hierarchy of cards that are needed to get the deck on its feet.

Turn No.1
Stage: 1B (0/14)
Active Location: N/A
Staging Area:
Mines of Moria (0/4, 2 threat)
Many-pillared Hall (0/6, 2 threat)

Doom, Doom, Doom (10/10)

Resource Phase
Deck One Hand (New Card in Bold):
Ho! Tom Bombadil!, Steward of Gondor, Dunedain Warning, Elrohir, Ancient Mathom, Sword that was Broken, Gather Information
Glorfindel (1), Aragorn (1), Sam (1), Frodo (1)

This is very welcome, we can now find Light of Valinor for Glorfindel to make the most of his great stats.

Deck Two Hand:
Rivendell Blade, The Evening Star, Blade of Gondolin, Sting, Secret Vigil, Fast Hitch
Merry (1), Gimli (1), Faramir (1)

Again, action economy is very welcome, especially in this quest where time is of the essence.

Planning Phase
Deck One:
Steward of Gondor-Aragorn (This is a no-brainer really, the extra resources will help pay for his ability and pump out the key attachments that we need)
Exhaust Steward of Gondor to give Aragorn 2 resources
Ancient Mathom-Mines of Moria (We need to get as many cards out as possible if we’re going to face The Balrog with any chance later on)
Dunedain Warning-Aragorn (This is with a view to get Anduril on him so we can make the most of his defending ability)
Gather Information

Deck Two:
Rivendell Blade-Glorfindel (We will be wanting to use his impressive attacking stats later on so this is laying the foundation for that)
Sting-Frodo (At this point, we’re wanting the willpower boost but we’ll be making the most of the counterattack ability later)

Quest Phase
Gather Information is the active quest

Glorfindel-3
Aragorn-2
Sam-3
Frodo-3
Merry-2
Gimli-2

Total willpower: 15

Trigger Glorfindel, raise Deck One’s threat by 1
Pay 1 resource to ready Aragorn

1: Deep Fissure (Oh no. This could be very, very bad. We’ll remove Glorfindel from the quest and pray). Remove Glorfindel from the quest, discard Panicked. (And we’re through! On top of surviving the Fissure, we’ve dodged a nasty Burden as well!)
2: We Cannot Get Out (Ouch! That’s three damage each. It could have been worse I suppose but it still stings)
Glorfindel takes 2 damage, attach Grevious Wound to Glorfindel, Aragorn takes 1 damage (Aragorn will be the defender so he’ll need the hitpoints more than Glorfindel. Once we get Light of Valinor on the elf, this should mitigate the worst of this Burden)
Gimli takes 2 damage, Faramir takes 1 damage (And the Gimli-hulk is getting angry)

Total threat: 4

Total willpower: 12

Win by 8. Explore Mines of Moria, complete Gather Information, add it to the victory display.

Trigger Ancient Mathom: Unexpected Courage, Small Target, Light of Valinor (Light will go on Glorfindel, Unexpected Courage will go on Aragorn I think. I’ve never used Small Target before, my goal is to get a hobbit to dodge a troll and make it clobber some puny goblin into the dirt!)

Trigger Gather Information:
Deck One: Celebrian’s Stone (With so many Spirit cards coming out, we need the sphere smoothing. The extra willpower is also sorely needed)
Deck Two: Fellowship of the Ring (We need the willpower boosts in this quest if we are to escape alive)

Remove 1 damage from Doom, Doom, Doom (9/10)

We’ve got a maximum of 9 turns left before the Balrog arrives. We have disturbed something beyond our reckoning and it is waking up.

Travel Phase
Travel to Many-pillared Hall (0/6)

This is the only location left in the staging area so it’s a bit of a no-brainer to travel here

Encounter Phase

Combat Phase

Refresh Phase
Raise each player’s threat by 1
Deck One: 27
Deck Two: 29

So in this first turn, we seem very much to have been treading water in the quest, with no progress placed on the main quest at all. On the other hand, we’ve gathered more of the cards we need and have gotten the machinery of our decks underway.

Turn No.2
Stage: 1B (0/14
Active Location: Many-pillared Hall (0/6)
Staging Area:

Doom, Doom, Doom (9/10)

Resource Phase
Deck Two Hand (New Card in Bold):
The Evening Star, Blade of Gondolin, Secret Vigil, Fast Hitch, Fellowship of the Ring, Ranger Spikes
Merry (1), Gimli (1), Faramir (1), Frodo (2)

This will be handy next turn when Faramir has enough resources to get it out.

Deck One Hand:
Ho! Tom Bombadil!, Elrohir, Sword that was Broken, Unexpected Courage, Small Target, Light of Valinor, Celebrian’s Stone, Anduril
Glorfindel (1), Aragorn (1), Sam (1)

We can use this to get Aragorn’s defending routine up and running.

Planning Phase
Deck Two:
Fellowship of the Ring-Frodo (This is an obvious play, the universal willpower boost is fantastic!)
Fast Hitch-Frodo (With Sting in play, it’s be nice to make the most of its ability and Frodo’s counterattacking)
Blade of Gondolin-Faramir (This’ll turn Faramir into a pseudo-Legolas plus whatever his attack is boosted by)

That’s all we can do this turn.

Deck One:
Exhaust Steward of Gondor to give Aragorn 2 resources
Sword that was Broken-Aragorn (This, in combination with Fellowship of the Ring, gives every hero in Deck One an extra 2 willpower. Fly you fools!)
Light of Valinor-Glorfindel (This should help negate the Grievous Wound attached to him)

And that’s the planning phase. We’re going to try and blitz through this quest phase as fast as we possibly can so we can engage enemies as we need to.

Quest Phase
Glorfindel-5
Aragorn-4
Sam-5
Frodo-4
Merry-3
Gimli-3
Faramir-3

Exhaust Fast Hitch to ready Frodo, pay 1 resource to ready Aragorn.

Total willpower: 27

27 willpower on Turn 2 with no allies and holding a hero back! That must be approaching some manner of record surely! Let’s see what the encounter deck has to say about it.

1: Uruk from Mordor (2 threat) (here we go…). Trigger Uruk from Mordor
-Deal Shadow to Uruk from Mordor
-Frodo defends (3), trigger Sting: discard Ancient Guardroom, deal 3 damage to Uruk from Mordor
Moria Archer revealed as Shadow
-Uruk from Mordor attacks (4), deals 1 damage to Frodo (Not bad, though we’ll need to get more defense in Frodo before we defend too many more attacks)
2: Many-pillared Hall (0/6, 3 threat) (Fortunately we’re just about to clear one, so this isn’t too terrible of a hit, but we can’t afford to let these build up)

Total threat: 5

Win by 21, explore Many-pillared Hall, complete Stage 1B. Trigger Stage 2A, add Chamber of Mazarbul to the staging area.

Remove 1 damage from Doom, Doom, Doom (8/10)

Time’s ticking. Fortunately we’re already through Stage 1, we just need to keep on ploughing through if we’re to beat this before The Balrog shows up.

Travel Phase
Travel to Many-pillared Hall (0/6)

We’re not at a stage yet where we can take on all those enemies so we’ll put off the Chamber of Mazarbul for now.

Encounter Phase
Deck One optionally engages Uruk from Mordor, trigger Sam

Now’s the part we start to kill stuff!

Combat Phase
Shadow dealt to Uruk from Mordor
Aragorn defends (3)
Weight of the Ring revealed as Shadow
Uruk from Mordor attacks (4), deals 1 damage
Sam attacks (2), Glorfindel attacks (3), destroys Uruk from Mordor. Place 1 resource on Stage 2B (1/6 resources), place 1 damage on Glorfindel

We’re on our way. Now all we need are enemies to kill. That is a real relief to see Weight taken off as a Shadow!

Refresh Phase
Raise each player’s threat by 1
Deck Two: 30
Deck One: 28

Wheels are beginning to turn, but we need to get quite a few more allies in before we can hope to take on the Balrog.

Turn No.3
Stage: 2B (0/9, 1/6 resources)
Active Location: Many-pillared Hall (1/6)
Staging Area:
Chamber of Mazarbul (0/4, 4 threat)

Doom, Doom, Doom (8/10)

Resource Phase
Deck One Hand (New Card in Bold):
Ho! Tom Bombadil!, Elrohir, Unexpected Courage, Small Target, Celebrian’s Stone, Anduril, Ever My Heart Rises
Glorfindel (1), Aragorn (1), Sam (1), Frodo (1)

This will go on Gimli, which should help us make the most of him.

Deck Two Hand:
The Evening Star, Secret Vigil, Ranger Spikes, Song of Wisdom
Merry (2), Gimli (1), Faramir (1)

This will smooth out our spheres and let us pay for things faster.

Planning Phase
Deck One:
Exhaust Steward of Gondor to give Aragorn 2 resources
Ever My Heart Rises-Gimli (Extra readying and threat reduction every time we travel in this quest. What’s not to love?)
Celebrian’s Stone-Aragorn (Extra willpower and resource smoothing, let’s get Aragorn pumped up)
Unexpected Courage-Faramir (Now most heroes have some manner of readying ability, all we need now is a Fast Hitch for Merry)

Deck Two:
Song of Wisdom-Merry (We need this so we can pay for…)
Ranger Spikes (Now the next enemy that comes off the encounter deck will power up Faramir and fulfil Stage 2B’s requirement to prevent an extra encounter card each turn)

Quest Phase
Glorfindel-5
Aragorn-6
Sam-5
Frodo-4
Merry-3
Gimli-3
Faramir-3

Exhaust Fast Hitch to ready Frodo, exhaust Unexpected Courage to ready Faramir, pay 1 resource to ready Aragorn.

Total willpower: 29

1: Moria Orc (0 threat), attach Ranger Spikes to Moria Orc, trigger Moria Orc, reveal an additional encounter card (we can’t afford to remove any additional damage from Doom, Doom, Doom, not yet anyway)
1.1: Mines of Moria (0/4, 2 threat) (Not terrible, not considering what else there is in the encounter deck)
2: Lust for the Ring-Gimli (We can’t cancel it, and I’m saving Ho! Tom Bombadil! for any Fool of a Took that may come at us) Trigger Surge
2.1: Great Cave-troll (3 threat) (Ah nuts. We can leave it in the staging area for now, but with a threat of 3 we’ll need to get rid of it sooner or later)

Total threat: 9

Win by 20, explore Many-pillared Hall, explore Mines of Moria, place 10 progress on Stage 2B.

And now all we can do is wait for enemies to show up for us to kill.

Remove 1 damage from Doom, Doom, Doom (7/10)

Travel Phase
We need to go here at some point I suppose. May as well be before we get swamped.

Travel to Chamber of Mazarbul (0/4), trigger Chamber. Search encounter deck for Orc-chieftain and Moria Orc and add them to the staging area.

Trigger Ever My Heart Rises to ready Gimli and reduce Deck Two’s threat by 1

Encounter Phase
Deck One optionally engages Moria Orc (the one without Ranger Spikes), trigger Sam

Orc-chieftain engages Deck One

And so it begins.

Combat Phase
Shadow Card dealt to Orc-chieftain
Sam defends (3)
Deep Fissure revealed as Shadow
Orc-chieftain attacks (4), deals 1 damage
Glorfindel attacks (3), Faramir attacks (5), destroys Orc-chieftain, place 1 damage on Glorfindel, place 1 resource on Stage 2B

Shadow Card dealt to Moria Orc
Frodo defends (3), trigger Sting: Discard Moria Archer, deal 2 damage to Moria Orc
Ancient Guardroom revealed as Shadow
Moria Orc attacks (3), deals no damage
Aragorn attacks (3), destroys Moria Orc, place 1 resource on Stage 2B

This was straightforward enough, but we aren’t in a position to take on the Cave-troll yet and we’ll keep the other Moria Orc there to keep Faramir powered up. Now all we can do is wait for more enemies.

Refresh Phase
Raise each player’s threat by 1
Deck One: 29
Deck Two: 30

Turn No.4
Stage: 2B (10/9, 3/6 resources)
Active Location: Chamber of Mazarbul (0/4)
Staging Area:
Moria Orc (0 threat)
Great Cave-troll (3 threat)

Doom, Doom, Doom (7/10)

Resource Phase
Deck Two Hand (New Card in Bold):
The Evening Star, Secret Vigil, Foe-hammer
Merry (2), Gimli (1), Faramir (1), Frodo (2)

More card draw is exactly what we need

Deck One Hand:
Ho! Tom Bombadil!, Elrohir, Small Target, Anduril, Ranger Provisions
Glorfindel (1), Aragorn (1), Sam (1)

And resource acceleration is also a welcome sight

Planning Phase
Deck Two:
Secret Vigil-Moria Orc

As much as we love the bonus attack on Faramir, we need to get in the threat reduction and clear out enemies. Now we’ll sit tight with the rest and save up.

Deck One:
Exhaust Steward of Gondor to give Aragorn 2 resources
Anduril-Aragorn (I think that’s us buffed him up as much as we can now, barring a few Dunedain or Warnings)

Quest Phase
Glorfindel-5
Aragorn-7
Sam-5
Gimli-3

Total willpower: 20

Pay 1 resource to ready Aragorn. (Time to make a run for it)

1: Darkened Stairwell (0/2, 4 threat) (Not an enemy, which is what we’re looking for. A side-note about the art, I love how this location has the red light comes out of the background, really selling the encompassing threat of Durin’s Bane in this scenario)
2: Many-pillared Hall (0/6, 2 threat) (And neither is this. So that’s a turn wasted, unless we were to take on a certain Cave-troll)

Total threat: 9

Win by 11, explore Chamber of Mazarbul, add it to victory display, place 7 progress on Stage 2B

Remove 1 damage from Doom, Doom, Doom (6/10)

We need to get a move on and get out of here, we need to clear this stage next turn at the very latest or be forced to face The Balrog.

Travel Phase
We’ll go with the one with the potential to spiral out of control as opposed to the one we’ll nuke with Evening Star. 

Travel to Many-pillared Hall (0/6) (The comment above about the artwork applies here too!)

Trigger Ever My Heart Rises to ready Gimli and reduce Deck Two’s threat by 1

Encounter Phase
Right, let’s do this.

Deck Two optionally engages Greater Cave-troll

Deck One optionally engages Moria Orc, trigger Sam

Combat Phase
[Deck Two]
Shadow dealt to Greater Cave-troll
Frodo defends (3), trigger Sting: We Cannot Get Out discarded, deal no damage to Greater Cave-troll. Spend 1 resource and exhaust The One Ring to make this attack deal no damage. Raise each players threat by 2. Trigger Lust for the Ring: raise each player’s threat by 1 and reduce Gimli’s willpower to 0.
Shadow of Fear revealed as Shadow
Greater Cave-troll attacks (6), deals no damage
Merry attacks (3), Gimli attacks (4), Faramir (3),
destroys Greater Cave-Troll, place 1 progress on Many-pillared Hall (1/6), place 1 resource on Stage 2B. Deck Two plays Foe-hammer: Mithril Shirt, Dark Knowledge, Warden of Healing

I know that hurt our threat, a lot, but we needed to get past this Cave-troll as quickly as possible. Also, we should be just about to clear a Secret Vigil Orc to reduce our threat. Also, Foe-hammer has drawn us some of the best cards we could have asked for in the situation we’re in, other than more threat reduction.

[Deck One]
Shadow Card dealt to Moria Orc
Aragorn defends (4)
Many-pillared Hall revealed as Shadow
Moria Orc attacks (4), deals no damage
Exhaust Anduril for Aragorn to attack (4), destroys Moria Orc. Trigger Secret Vigil, reduce each player’s threat by 2. Place 1 resource on Stage 2B

Just one enemy left before we can cross the Bridge.

Refresh Phase
Raise each player’s threat by 1
Deck Two: 30
Deck One: 30

Turn No.5
Stage: 2B (17/9, 5/6 resources)
Active Location: Many-pillared
Staging Area:
Darkened Stairwell (0/2, 4 threat)

Doom, Doom, Doom (6/10)

Resource Phase
Deck One Hand (New Card in Bold):
Elrohir, Small Target, Ranger Provisions, Ancient Mathom
Glorfindel (2), Aragorn (1), Sam (1), Frodo (2)

We’ll stick this on Darkened Stairwell just before we nuke it.

Deck Two Hand:
The Evening Star, Warden of Healing, Dark Knowledge, Mithril Shirt, Elladan
Merry (3), Gimli (1), Faramir (2)

If we can get out both brothers, we’ll be looking a lot more secure, not to mention that Warden of Healing.

Planning Phase
Deck One:
Exhaust Steward of Gondor to give Aragorn 2 resources
Ancient Mathom-Darkened Stairwell
Ranger Provisions-Darkened Stairwell
Elrohir

We’ll trigger them next turn I think. Deck Two has allies to get out.

Deck Two:
Warden of Healing
Elladan
Mithril Shirt-Frodo

Exhaust Warden of Healing to heal 1 damage from Glorfindel and Frodo.

And now the long process of healing everyone up can begin.

Quest Phase
Glorfindel-5
Sam-5
Elrohir-3
Gimli-3
Elladan-2

Total willpower: 18

We just need to get through the questing now until we kill this last enemy.

1: Pursed by the Enemy (The effect whiffs, but both Surge and Doomed sting) Trigger Doomed 1, trigger Surge
1.1: Moria Orc (2 threat) (We’re not taking off any extra damage from DDD, so we’ll take another encounter card)
1.2: Fool of a Took! Trigger Doomed 1. (We’re not standing for this. Not for one bit) Deck One plays Ho! Tom Bombadil!, adds it to the victory display and removes it from the campaign pool.
2: Mines of Moria (0/4, 2 threat) (Thank goodness. I had visions of the second copy of Fool coming off!)

Total threat: 8

Win by 10, explore Many-pillared Hall, explore Mines of Moria, place 1 progress on Stage 2B

Remove 1 damage from Doom, Doom, Doom (5/10)

Travel Phase
We’ll travel to the Stairwell just to trigger Ever My Heart Rises

Travel to Darkened Stairwell (0/2)

Trigger Ever My Heart Rises to ready Gimli and reduce Deck Two’s threat by 1

Encounter Phase
Deck One optionally engages Moria Orc
Trigger Sam, trigger Elrohir

It’s time to move on to the Bridge of Khazad-dum!

Combat Phase
Shadow Card dealt to Moria Orc
Aragorn defends (4)
They Are Coming! revealed as Shadow
Moria Orc attacks (3) deals no damage
Exhaust Anduril for Aragorn to attack (4), destroys Moria Orc. Place 1 resource on Stage 2B and complete it. (This is it, the home straight!) Trigger Stage 3A, remove 2 damage from Doom, Doom, Doom (3/10) Add The Great Bridge to the staging area. Reveal Uruk from Mordor and Greater Cave-troll. (Well that’s something you don’t want to see waiting for you. Ideally we’ll need a Feint to deal with the Cave-troll, but the Uruk should be straight-forward enough. But first…) Trigger Uruk from Mordor, attacks Deck One
-Shadow Card dealt to Uruk from Mordor
-Frodo defends (3), trigger Sting: Moria Archer discarded, deal 2 damage to Uruk from Mordor.
-Darkened Stairwell revealed as Shadow
-Uruk from Mordor attacks (4), deals 1 damage to Frodo

These enemies should hopefully not be any kind of a speed bump as we need as much haste as we can muster if we are to get out in time.

Refresh Phase
Raise each player’s threat by 1
Deck One: 34
Deck Two: 33

Turn No.6
Stage: 3B (0/10)
Active Location: Darkened Stairwell (0/2)
Staging Area:
The Great Bridge (0/5, 5 threat)
Great Cave-troll (3 threat)
Uruk from Mordor (2 threat)

Doom, Doom, Doom (3/10)

Resource Phase
Deck Two Hand (New Card in Bold):
The Evening Star, Dark Knowledge, Mithril Shirt, Ring Mail
Merry (1), Gimli (1), Faramir (1), Frodo (3)

Extra defense for Frodo, I think.

Deck One Hand:
Small Target, Hobbit Cloak
Glorfindel (1), Aragorn (2), Sam (1)

And again, we’ll stick this on Frodo so we can make the most of Sting’s counter-attack.

Planning Phase
Deck Two:
The Evening Star: Darkened Stairwell. Trigger Ranger Provisions, trigger Ancient Mathom: Ranger Spikes, Foe-hammer, Emyn Arnen Ranger (I still haven’t had a chance to play this character yet so hopefully we can get some use out of him)
Mithril Shirt-Frodo (Extra defense for the Ringbearer!)
Ring Mail-Frodo (See above, and now Frodo’s at 5 defense)
Dark Knowledge-Frodo (I’m going to try something here, bear with me)

Deck One:
Exhaust Steward of Gondor to give Aragorn 2 resources
Hobbit Cloak-Frodo (And 7 defense, which we’ll make full use out of!)

That was not a bad phase at all. Though for the record, it should be noted here that Frodo has 9 attachments on him at the moment: Old Bogey-stories, The One Ring, Dark Knowledge, Fellowship of the Ring, Fast Hitch, Hobbit Cloak, Ring Mail, Mithril Shirt, Sting. What else could we fit on him I wonder?

Exhaust Warden of Healing to heal 1 damage from Glorfindel and Frodo.

Quest Phase
Glorfindel-5
Aragorn-7
Sam-5
Elrohir-3
Gimli-3
Elladan-2

Pay 1 resource to ready Aragorn

Total willpower: 25

We could really do with anything other than They Are Coming! or Fool of a Took!. We have no way of cancelling and either of them could mess things up for us. Also, ever notice all the really bad cards have exclamation points?

1: Fool of a Took! (This means we will now have no choice but to face The Balrog. It’s time to get ready) Trigger Doomed 1, remove 1 damage from Doom, Doom, Doom.
2: They Are Coming! (I should really keep my mouth shut, shouldn’t I? This’ll set us back a smidge, and shuffle Gildor further away from us!) Trigger Doomed 2. Discard: Many-pillared Hall, We Cannot Get Out, Moria Orc, Weight of the Ring, Many-pillared Hall, Moria Orc. Add Moria Orc and Moria Orc to the staging area. (While we have been stung with yet more threat, we got off pretty lightly. Other than the fact we’re now definitely going to face The Balrog, pretty lightly.)

Totol threat: 14

Win by 11, place 5 progress on Stage 3B (5/15)

Remove 1 damage from Doom, Doom, Doom (1/10)

Only one turn left. May Eru protect us.

Travel Phase
We won’t travel to The Great Bridge yet, as we need it to be explored at the same time as The Balrog is in play.

Encounter Phase
Deck Two optionally engages Uruk from Mordor
Deck One optionally engages Moria Orc

Trigger Sam, Elladan and Elrohir

Great Cave-troll engages Deck Two

I’m going to try out this Small Target thing with Frodo, we’ll see how it goes.

Combat Phase
[Deck Two]
Shadow Card dealt to Great Cave-troll
Exhaust Dark Knowledge to see Darkened Stairwell as the Shadow (Awesome, let’s do this!)
Frodo defends (7), trigger Sting: Mines of Moria discarded, deal 2 damage to Great Cave-troll. Deck One plays Small Target and chooses Uruk from Mordor
Uruk from Mordor defends (2), Great Cave-troll attacks (6), destroys Uruk from Mordor, removes 1 progress from Stage 3B. (I think that’s correct, which is unfortunate, but that was fantastic! Frodo ducks and the Cave-troll clobbers an Uruk into the dust!)
Exhaust Fast Hitch to ready Frodo
Merry attacks (3), Elladan attacks (3), Faramir attacks (4), destroys Great Cave-troll, place 1 progress on Stage 3B (And that’s the troll down and our progress back on track!). Deck Two plays Foe-hammer: Dagger of Westernesse, Galadon Archer, Secret Vigil (All useful cards, the cheap ally is especially welcome)

Shadow Card dealt to Uruk from Mordor
No defenders declared (Because at this point we’ve seen there’s no Shadow for the Cave-troll)
Uruk from Mordor destroyed by Great Cave-troll

[Deck One]
Shadow Card dealt to Moria Orc
Aragorn defends (4)
Fool of a Took! revealed as Shadow
Moria Orc attacks (3) deals no damage
Exhaust Anduril for Aragorn to attack (4), destroys Moria Orc

So that was epic! I realise that Small Target is situational, but when it works it is so good, even as entertainment! And I am falling in love with Anduril, I may need to get some Dunedain Marks on Aragorn in the future to boost this counter-attack even further.

Refresh Phase
Raise each player’s threat by 1
Deck Two: 36
Deck One: 37

That was the last turn we got before things hit the fan. Brace yourselves.

Turn No.7
Stage: 3B (5/15)
Active Location: N/A
Staging Area:
The Great Bridge (0/5, 5 threat)
Moria Orc (2 threat)

Doom, Doom, Doom (1/10)

Resource Phase
Deck One Hand (New Card in Bold):
Glamdring
Glorfindel (2), Aragorn (2), Sam (2), Frodo (4)

This would have been handy earlier, but better late than never I suppose

Deck Two Hand:
Ranger Spikes, Emyn Arnen Ranger, Dagger of Westernesse, Galadon Archer, Secret Vigil, Dwarrowdelf Axe
Merry (2), Gimli (1), Faramir (1)

So do we play weapons or allies this turn?

Planning Phase
Deck One:
Glamdring-Glorfindel (Now boasting an impressive 5 attack, and reducing the enemy’s defense, this elf can hit for an effective 7 by himself)

Deck Two:
Dwarrowdelf Axe-Gimli (Extra attack and some sweet direct damage)
Secret Vigil-Moria Orc (Hopefully we’ll be able to kill it this turn and see some threat reduction)
Ranger Spikes (Now if any enemies come at us, except any trolls or chieftains, we ought to be able to just leave them there)

Exhaust Warden of Healing to heal 1 damage from Glorfindel and Aragorn (With Aragorn as our main defender, he needs it more than Faramir)

Quest Phase
Glorfindel-5
Aragorn-7
Sam-5
Elrohir-3
Elladan-2

Total willpower: 17

Pay 1 resource to ready Aragorn

I think we are as prepared as we possibly can be to face The Balrog, certainly there’s nothing else we can do.

1: Panicked (That’s not good. Not good at all! Aragorn was set to defend against The Balrog before a counterattack lead by Glorfindel and Sam after an optional engagement. Now Deck Two is going to have to throw everyone at it to even hope to make a dent.) Raise Deck One’s threat by 3, Deck Two becomes first player. (And to rub salt into the wound…) Trigger Surge
1.1: Uruk from Mordor (0 threat) (How many Uruk are there in Moria!? A whole battalion? I need all my attackers ready, and Frodo has the lowest attack so he’ll handle it. Hobbit Cloak won’t trigger, but he has 5 defense so we should be ok.) Attach Ranger Spikes to Uruk from Mordor Trigger Uruk from Mordor, attacks Deck Two
-Shadow Card dealt to Uruk from Mordor, exhaust Dark Knowledge to see Many-pillared Hall as Shadow (And now the Uruk will be attacking 6. As Frodo will be needed to tank one of the Balrog’s attacks this round, and needs every hitpoint he can muster, I am left with no choice)
-Frodo defends (5), trigger Sting: Deep Fissure discarded, deal no damage to Uruk from Mordor. Spend 1 resource and exhaust The One Ring to make this attack deal no damage. Raise each players threat by 2. Trigger Lust for the Ring: raise each player’s threat by 1 and reduce Gimli’s willpower to 0. (Things are getting tight. Deck One is sitting at 43 threat, and Deck Two is at 39. We need to get out as fast as we can!)
-Many-pillared Hall revealed as Shadow
-Uruk from Mordor attacks (6), deals no damage. Exhaust Fast Hitch to ready Frodo. (Right, now that that’s done, let’s see what other punishment is in store for us)
2: Gildor Inglorion (Well hallelujah! There is hope yet! Not entirely sure what this guy is doing traipsing about in Moria, but we’ll figure something out.)

Total threat: 6

Win by 11, place 5 progress on Stage 3B (10/15)

This is going to sting a bit

Remove 1 damage from Doom, Doom, Doom (0/10). Add The Balrog to the staging area. (Peekaboo!) The Balrog attacks Deck Two.
-Shadow dealt to The Balrog
-Frodo defends (7) (Thank goodness for Hobbit Cloak)
-We Cannot Get Out revealed as Shadow (We have no-one engaged with us so this whiffs)
-The Balrog attacks (8), deals 1 damage to Frodo (Ok then, we just need to repeat this procedure until its dead. What could possibly go wrong?)

Travel Phase
Travel to The Great Bridge (0/5)

Let’s get out of here!

Trigger Ever My Heart Rises to reduce Deck Two’s threat by 1

Encounter Phase
We’ll get Deck Two to optionally enage Moria Orc to trigger Elladan’s readying effect

Deck Two optionally engages Moria Orc

Trigger Elladan

Combat Phase
[Deck Two]
Let’s do the wimpy one first to get it out the way

Shadow Card dealt to Moria Orc
Aragorn defends (4)
Moria Archer revealed as Shadow
Moria Orc attacks (3) deals no damage
Exhaust Anduril for Aragorn to attack (4), destroys Moria Orc (And lather, rinse, repeat). Trigger Secret Vigil, reduce each players’ threat by 2.

Shadow Card dealt to The Balrog
Gildor Inglorion defends (3) (Sorry pal, it was nice knowing you!)
Shadow of Fear revealed as Shadow (Well at least that’s been taken out of the equation for the future)
The Balrog attacks (8), destroys Gildor Inglorion. Discard Fellowship of the Ring from Frodo, attach Stricken by Grief to Sam (At this point, Sam isn’t going to be getting his response triggered anyway because our threats are so high)
Merry attacks (3), Gimli attacks (5), Faramir attacks (5), Elladan attacks (3), deals 7 damage to The Balrog (All that and only 7? Good grief this thing is monstrous!)

Refresh Phase
Raise each player’s threat by 1
Deck Two: 37
Deck One 42

Turn No.8
Stage: 3B (10/15)
Active Location: The Great Bridge (0/5)
Staging Area:
Uruk from Mordor (0 threat)
The Balrog (5 threat)

Doom, Doom, Doom (0/10)

Resource Phase
Deck One Hand (New Card in Bold):
Fair and Perilous
Glorfindel (3), Aragorn (4), Sam (3), Frodo (2)

We’ll use this as part of our counterattack. Maybe there’s hope of escape yet!

Deck Two Hand:
Emyn Arnen Ranger, Dagger of Westernesse, Galadon Archer, Rivendell Blade
Merry (1), Gimli (1), Faramir (1)

A little redundant I’m afraid since we can’t actually put it anywhere

Planning Phase
Deck One:
Exhaust Steward of Gondor to give Aragorn 2 resources

And that’s all we can do

Deck Two:
Dagger of Westernesse-Sam (We’re going to need attack strength on that side)
Emyn Aren Ranger (We’ll want more bodies if we can’t finish off The Balrog soon)

Exhaust Warden of Healing to heal 1 damage from Glorfindel and Frodo (And finally Glorfindel is at full health again)

Quest Phase
Glorfindel-4
Aragorn-6
Merry-2
Gimli-2
Faramir-2
Elrohir-2

Total willpower: 18

Pay 1 resource to ready Aragorn, exhaust Unexpected Courage to ready Faramir

So the aim is to clear The Great Bridge, but not finish the quest otherwise we’ll be saddled with 4 burdens going forwards instead of 2.

1: Mines of Moria (0/4, 2 threat) (Ok this is good, if we can clear it in one shot. If not this could delay us unnecessarily)
2: Moria Archer (2 threat). Trigger Moria Archer, place 1 damage on Gimli and Elladan (So we’ve a little bit of a respite from the encounter deck, for this turn, but I wouldn’t count on it lasting too long)

Total threat: 9

Win by 9, explore The Great Bridge, add it to the victory display, explore Mines of Moria. (Now we have a bit of a decision to make. Who do we discard? I am loathe to get rid of Sam or Merry as they have the permanent boons attached to them, and Glorfindel would be a waste considering he’d only do 5 damage. Aragorn is necessary for his attack to help kill The Balrog this turn, so it’s down to Faramir or Gimli. Both would do 11 damage, but I feel I need access to the Lore sphere more urgently in this quest if it does end up dragging on (and with one or two bad draws it easier could!) Therefore Gimli shall sacrifice himself to destroy the Bridge and damage The Balrog) Trigger The Last Bridge, discard Gimli to deal 11 damage to The Balrog and remove all its keywords.

The Balrog is now down to 7 hitpoints, which we may be able to achieve this turn. Here we go again.

-The Balrog attacks Deck One
-Shadow dealt to The Balrog
-Frodo defends (7)
-Great Cave-troll revealed as Shadow (At least that’s one less thing to worry about)
-The Balrog attacks (8), deals 1 damage to Frodo. Exhaust Fast Hitch to ready Frodo

Travel Phase

Encounter Phase
And we’re not taking anymore than we can manage thank you. We’ll just focus in the Balrog.

Combat Phase
Resolve Archery: deal 1 damage to Elrohir and Elladan

Shadow dealt to The Balrog
Frodo defends (7) (Again, Eru bless these hobbit cloaks!)
We Cannot Get Out revealed as Shadow
The Balrog attacks (8), deals 1 damage to Frodo
(Now we play our ace in the hole!)
Deck One plays Fair and Perilous to give Glorfindel an extra 4 attack.
Glorfindel attacks (9), Aragorn attacks (4), Sam attacks (3), destroys The Balrog, add it to the victory display. Trigger Grievous Wound, deal 1 damage to Glorfindel

He’s down! The Balrog is down! I never thought a card game could physically affect me but I only now feel as though I can breath again. Home stretch now!

Refresh Phase
Raise each player’s threat by 1
Deck One: 43
Deck Two: 38

Turn No.9
Stage: 3B (10/15)
Active Location: N/A
Staging Area:
Uruk from Mordor (0 threat)
Moria Archer (2 threat)

Doom, Doom, Doom (0/10)

Resource Phase
Deck Two Hand (New Card in Bold):
Galadon Archer, Rivendell Blade, Feint
Merry (1), Faramir (1), Frodo (2)

Oh very funny. And where have you been?

Deck Two Hand:
Greenwood Archer
Glorfindel (4), Aragorn (5), Sam (4)

We may as well play it just for the sake of using resources I suppose. And she can be a direct damage soak if needs be.

Exhaust Warden of Healing to heal 1 damage from Glorfindel and Frodo. Pay 2 Lore resources to ready and exhaust Warden of Healing to heal 1 damage from Merry and Frodo.

Planning Phase
Deck One:
Greenwood Archer

And again, we’re done. I think this deck needs more card draw.

Deck Two:

And we’ve no resources left with this deck so again, that’s all we can do.

Quest Phase
Trigger Emyn Arnen Ranger: Uruk from Mordor

Glorfindel-4
Aragorn-6
Sam-4
Frodo-3
Merry-2
Faramir-2
Greenwood Archer-1
Elrohir-3
Elladan-2

Total willpower: 25

All or nothing now.

1: Orc-chieftain (4 threat) (He can’t hurt us now, we’re out of here!)
2: Darkened Stairway (4 threat)

Total threat: 11

Win by 14, complete Stage 3B.

Victory.

Victory Display: Gather Information (1), Chamber of Mazarbul (4), Ho! Tom Bombadil! (1), The Great Bridge (5), The Balrog (50)

Score: 43 threat + 38 threat + 90 for turns taken, 1 for damage of Sam, 1 for damage on Faramir, 11 for slain Gimli, -61 victory points=123

This quest has been my favourite of the campaign so far. The claustrophobia as more and more enemies are revealed, never knowing if the next card flip will be just bad or dreadful, the flavour of the treacheries and above all, the impending arrival of the Balrog was superbly executed. It will be hard to top this quest for me, but we shall have to see what the Saga has in store for us.

I am generally pleased with the way my decks performed, though I feel like Deck One could do with a fair bit more card draw if possible, maybe a Campfire Tales or something similar. Deck Two on the other hand, performed very well indeed. The low cost curve and universality of the cards meant there was never a bad draw as such, but a little bit more resource generation would be appreciate. I think the two decks need t work more on balancing out each other’s flaws and shortcomings, which is what I aim to do in the next quest. As for the loss of Gimli, I’m disappointed I couldn’t get out before The Balrog showed up, but given my cancellation didn’t arrive at all this game there was nothing I could have done about it. What do you guys think? Should it have been Faramir who was sacrificed? Who should replace Gimli when we continue our quest? Did my heroes perform as well as they ought to have done? What changes would you suggest to my decks for the future? Let me know down below and I’ll do my best to get back to you as quickly as possible. For now though, it’s on to The Breaking of the Fellowship.

Remove Ho! Tom Bombadil! from the Campaign Pool.
Add Pursued by the Enemy to the Campaign Pool.
Add Overcome by Grief the Campaign Pool.
Add Gimli (Tactics) to the list of Fallen Heroes

 

ffg-balrog.jpg

4 thoughts on “Journey In The Dark: Playthrough

  1. Kevin C

    What happens had you chosen Aragorn for the Bridge? Does he just magically show back up in Fellowship form in The Three Hunters quest? Or are there special campaign rules about that?

    Like

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