The Passage Of The Marshes: 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:
Add Gandalf’s Delay to the staging area
Shuffle PanickedWeight Of The RingLust for the RingPursued by the Enemy, and Followed by Night into the encounter deck.
Put Gollum into play engaged with Deck One.
The players search the encounter deck for Shifting Quagmire and Evil-smelling Fens and adds them to the staging area.

Player Deck Set-up:
Attach The One RingOld Bogey-stories and Phial of Galadriel to Frodo Baggins.
Attach Tireless Ranger and Leaf-wrapped Lembas to  Sam Gamgee.
Shuffle Mithril Shirt and The Searching Eye into Deck One.
Shuffle Sting and The Searching Eye into Deck Two.
Deck One draws opening hand.
Deck Two draws opening hand.

So it’s been a while since I have been able to sit down and play our beloved card game. Events in life have taken a turn for the hectic, and time is at an all new premium. That said, I am really looking forward to continuing on with this Saga campaign, and can’t wait to see what is in store for us as we pick back up just after the halfway point. Let the games commence.

Deck One
Threat: 29
Sam Gamgee
Faramir (Leadership)
Mablung

Starting Hand:
Hobbit Cloak
Anborn
Steward of Gondor
Friend of Friends
Dagger of Westernesse
In Service of the Steward

Apparently the cards have missed me too! This is pretty near to as perfect anopening hand as I could ask for. The only questionable one might be Anborn, who is a little pricey, but with Steward of Gondor we will be able to afford him in no time.

Deck Two
Threat: 27
Denethor (Lore)
Damrod
Beregond (Spirit)

Starting Hand:
Ranger Spikes
Deep Knowledge
Mithrandir’s Advice
Steed of the Mark
Emyn Arnen Ranger
A Test of Will

Ideally we would have had a Fast Hitch in here, or maybe an Ithilien Tracker, but with the amount of card draw we’ve been given we should be able to pull one fairly sharply. I think we’ll keep this hand.

Each player raises his threat by 2 for Fallen Heroes Gimli and Theoden.

Turn No.1
Stage: 1B (0/6)
Active Location: N/A
Staging Area:
Shifting Quagmire (0/3, 1 threat, 0/1 mire)
Evil-smelling Fens (0/4, 3 threat, 0/3 mire)

Resource Phase
Deck One Hand (New Card in Bold):
Hobbit Cloak, Anborn, Steward of Gondor, Friend of Friends, Dagger of Westernesse, In Service of the Steward, Gondorian Shield
Sam (1), Faramir (1), Mablung (1), Frodo (1)

This will go straight onto Beregond, allowing him to block against any enemy without fear of taking damage. The maximum attack of any enemy in this scenario is 5, the only attack boosting shadow gives them an extra 1 bringing them up to 6. Happy days!

Deck Two Hand:
Ranger Spikes, Deep Knowledge, Mithrandir’s Advice, Steed of the Mark, Emyn Arnen Ranger, A Test of Will, Explore Secret Ways
Beregond (1), Damrod (1), Denethor (1)

We’ll try and clear this one out as quickly as possible so we can make the most use of its benefit.

Planning Phase
Deck One:
Steward of Gondor-Denethor
Gondorian Shield-Beregond
Friend of Friends-Frodo

For thematic reasons along Steward ought to go on Denethor. There’s also the fact that Deck Two has more card draw and more expensive cards so will need more resources, but who cares about mechanics? Also laying the groundwork for the classic Frodo/Sam/Friend of Friends combo.

Deck Two:
Exhaust Steward of Gondor to give Denethor 2 resources.
Deep Knowledge: Trigger Doomed 2, raise each players threat by 2. Deck One draws: Envoy of Pelargir, Secret Vigil (Resource smoothing and threat reduction. What’s not to like?). Deck Two draws: Secret Paths, Warden of Healing (What’s with all these secrets? Is Celebrimbor about? Also, healing is good for you. Fun fact of the day.)
Mithrandir’s Advice: Ithilien Tracker, Deep Knowledge (Sweet Christmas! How deep does this rabbit hole go? Shall we find out?)
Deep Knowledge: Trigger Doomed 2, raise each players threat by 2. Deck One draws: Wealth of Gondor, Halfling Determination (And now we have an extra resource next turn, as well as the unparalleled flexibility of this event. Looks good to me). Deck Two draws: Ithilien Lookout, Unexpected Courage (I know the Lookout is ideally played when in secrecy, but I still find it a useful ally to have about. And Unexpected Courage is always welcome, especially on Beregond)
Explore Secret Ways (Again, trying to get this explored as quickly as possible so we can begin to benefit from it)
Ranger Spikes (And this should help with that, as well as making sure we don’t have to deal with many enemies before Gollum is tamed. Also, its cost is reduced, with the potential to draw another card once it attaches to someone. Thanks Damrod!)

So after that glut of card draw we are in a pretty good place on for both decks. Deck Two now has Steward so we can afford to pay for them, and hopefully we’ll be getting some allies into play next turn. We’ll save a resource on Beregond for A Test of Will as per usual.

Exhaust Denethor to look at the top card of the encounter deck: Creeping Marshes. (While this isn’t too bad just now, we don’t like the look of Surge at all, and we’ve already had enough Doomed to last us a while. We’ll get rid of this one I think.) Place Creeping Marshes on the bottom of the encounter deck.

Quest Phase
Explore Secret Ways is the active quest.

We’re going to get Beregond to defend against Gollum this time I think and throw everything we can into questing this turn. Hopefully we can complete this side quest in one go and return our focus to the main quest as soon as possible.

Faramir-2
Mablung-2
Sam-3
Frodo-2
Damrod-2

Total willpower: 11

Here goes nothing.

1: Candle-bearer (3 threat). Trigger Ranger Spikes, attach to Candle-bearer. (This’ll take him down to 1 threat, and hopefully we’ll never have to take him down from the staging area) Trigger Damrod: Silver Lamp (I’ve never seen this played, but I think this may do some work on Spirit Beregond)
2: Bitter Reek (We’re not going to let this go off this early in the game, Frodo’s be left with just 1 hitpoint). Deck Two plays A Test of Will to cancel Bitter Reek

Total threat: 5

Win by 6, complete Explore Secret Ways, add it to the victory display.

Right, now we can get onto getting the rest of the quest done.

Travel Phase
Raise each player’s threat by 1 to travel to Evil-smelling Fens (0/4, 0/3 mire)

There is no point in travelling to the Shifting Quagmire as it will get discarded by the mire mechanic at the end of the round.

Encounter Phase
And we’re not going to be engaging the Candle-bearer anytime soon so we’ll skip this phase.

Combat Phase
Shadow Card dealt to Gollum
Beregond defends (6)
Soft Mires revealed as Shadow
Gollum attacks (2), does no damage
Trigger Beregond: reduce Deck One’s threat by 1

And we’ve no-one left to attack so we’re just going to have to let Gollum be for now.

Refresh Phase
Raise each player’s threat by 1
Deck One: 36
Deck Two: 35

And now that everyone is ready, Gollum comes at us again.

Gollum engages Deck Two
Shadow Card dealt to Gollum
Beregond defends (6)
Groping Dead revealed as Shadow
Gollum attacks (2), deals no damage
Trigger Beregond: reduce Deck Two’s threat by 1

Trigger Mire:
Place 1 mire token on Shifting Quagmire (1/1). Discard Shifting Quagmire.

I think this must be the busiest refresh phase we’ve had in ages. Note that as we have no locations in the victory display, the effect on Shifting Quagmire doesn’t impact us.

Turn No.2
Stage: 1B (0/6)
Active Location: Evil-smelling Fens (0/4)
Staging Area:
Candle-bearer (1 threat)

Resource Phase
Deck Two Hand (New Card in Bold):

Steed of the Mark, Emyn Arnen Ranger, Secret Paths, Warden of Healing, Ithilien Tracker, Ithilien Lookout, Unexpected Courage, Silver Lamp, Interrogation
Beregond (1), Damrod (1), Denethor (1), Frodo (1)

I never really noticed how much scrying this deck seems to have. I really should have put Wingfoot in, or something similar.

Deck One Hand:

Hobbit Cloak, Anborn, Dagger of Westernesse, In Service of the Steward, Envoy of Pelargir, Secret Vigil, Wealth of Gondor, Halfling Determination, Envoy of Pelargir

Sam (1), Faramir (1), Mablung (1)

Would have preferred something a bit flashier just now, but I suppose there’s never a bad time for her to pop up.

Planning Phase
Deck Two:
Exhaust Steward of Gondor to give Denethor 2 resources.
Interrogation: Haunted Mire, Morgul Wraith, Groping Dead. (Well considering Beregond is exhausted just now, we cannot afford to allow a Morgul Wraith into the staging area just now. As well though, the Haunted Mere has got a nasty stack of threat there as well. I think I have an idea though) Discard Haunted Mere, return Morgul Wraith and Groping Dead to the top of the encounter deck.
Ithilien Lookout: Morgul Wraith. Discard Morgul Wraith. (And there we go! 8 threat neatly sidestepped. Not too bad, if I may say so.)

A productive phase for Deck Two I think. We’ll need until next turn before we can pay for the Unexpected Courage Beregond badly needs.

Deck One:
Wealth of Gondor: Give 1 resource to Mablung (We’re doing this so that we can play Dagger of Westernesse and still have a resource spare for Halfling Determination if we need it)
Dagger of Westernesse-Mablung (Speaking of which, we’re unlikely to get the use of this thing’s ability until we can get some serious threat reduction on this deck, but the extra attack is always appreciated)
Envoy of Pelargir: Place 1 resource on Beregond. (Of all the spheres, Spirit is the one here that will need the most resources to make the most out of it)

Things are slowly coming together, but it will probably be another turn or two before our engine really gets going.

Quest Phase
Faramir-2
Mablung-2
Sam-3
Envoy of Pelargir-1
Frodo-2
Damrod-2
Ithilien Lookout-1

Total willpower: 13

And we’ll call it at that, we need to keep Denethor ready so he can defend against Gollum.

1: Groping Dead (2 threat) (We knew this was coming and should hopefully be able to deal with it, probably not this turn then certainly the next one)
2: Stagnant Pools (0/7, 3 threat, 0/5 mire) (This is a bit more awkward. 7 progress is certainly not insignificant, and its threat will get bumped as time goes on, but this isn’t the worst we could have gotten. Another enemy for instance would not have been fun.)

Total threat: 6

Win by 7, explore Evil-smelling Fens and add it to the victory display. Place 3 progress on Stage 1B (3/6).

And so here we begin the quest proper. One location is down, though we will need to convert Gollum soon before we can get much further.

Travel Phase
Again, we do not have Smeagol so we are unable to travel to Stagnant Pools this turn.

Encounter Phase
Groping Dead will come down this turn, whether we like it or not, so we may as well make sure it is Deck One who fights him and get some benefit from it.

Deck One optionally engages Groping Dead. Trigger Faramir to ready Envoy of Pelargir. Trigger Mablung to place 1 resource on him.

Combat Phase
[Deck Two]

Shadow Card dealt to Gollum
Denethor defends (3)
A Fell Light revealed as Shadow
Gollum attacks (2), deals no damage

And we have no characters ready for a counterattack so Gollum’s just going to have to hang out for another turn.

[Deck One]

Shadow Card dealt to Groping Dead
Envoy of Pelargir defends (0)
Panicked revealed as SHadow
Groping Dead attacks (3), destroys Envoy of Pelargir

There is no active location so the Forced effect on Groping Dead doesn’t matter. The inability to lower threat however, that will hurt us because now Beregond’s ability won’t trigger for Deck One.

Refresh Phase
Raise each player’s threat by 1
Deck Two: 35
Deck One: 37

Shadow Card dealt to Gollum
Beregond defends (6)
Candle-bearer revealed as Shadow
Gollum attacks (2), deals no damage.

Again, because the Groping Dead is engaged with Deck One, Beregond can’t lower their threat. Also there is now an Undead in the encounter discard pile so A Fell Light will trigger the next time is goes off.

Trigger Mire:
Place 1 mire token on Stagnant Pools (1/5)

And so the threat creep begins. We really need to convert Gollum sooner rather than later.

Turn No.3
Stage: 1B (3/6)
Active Location: N/A
Staging Area:
Candle-bearer (1 threat)
Stagnant Pools (0/7, 4 threat, 1/5 mire)

Resource Phase
Deck One Hand (New Card in Bold):
Hobbit Cloak, Anborn, In Service of the Steward, Secret Vigil, Halfling Determination, Envoy of Pelargir, Visionary Leadership
Sam (1), Faramir (1), Mablung (3), Frodo (2)

While this is hugely helpful for our willpower, we are in need of combat equipment a bit more I think.

Deck Two Hand:
Steed of the Mark, Emyn Arnen Ranger, Secret Paths, Warden of Healing, Ithilien Tracker, Unexpected Courage, Silver Lamp, Entangling Nets
Beregond (3), Damrod (1), Denethor (1)

Given that Damrod makes this free and allows us to draw a card as soon as it is activated, we are more than happy with this, especially as it acts as an indirect combat boosting tool.

Planning Phase
Deck One:
Envoy of Pelargir: Place 1 resource on Denethor. (They aren’t exactly poor for resources over there, but if we can get enough cards out from Deck Two it should hopefully start to take the pressure off Deck One so the latter can get itself up on its feet.)
Visionary Leadership-Denethor (With Steward of Gondor attached, he’s the hero most likely to be able to save a resource)
Secret Vigil-Candle-bearer (This is to reduce him to 0 threat, offsetting the rising threat of Stagnant Pools this turn. Also when the time comes to finally deal with him, we should net a nice little threat reduction along the way)

That’s where we’ll leave it for now. Again we’re saving a resource for Halfling Determination, but otherwise there’s not a lot else we are actually able to do.

Deck Two:
Exhaust Steward of Gondor to give Denethor 2 resources.
Unexpected Courage-Beregond (And now he can halt both of Gollum’s attacks each turn if needs be, or indeed any enemy we need taken care of)
Steed of the Mark-Mablung (With inbuilt resource generation, Mablung will see the benefit of this the most, especially with the stat-boosts from Dagger of Westernesse and Visionary Leadership)
Entangling Nets (As previously mentioned, it’s free and could draw me a card. There is no reason not to play this)
Emyn Arnen Ranger (With a Candle-bearer Trapped in the staging area and Visionary Leadership’s boost, this guy now quests for a mighty 4!)
Ithilien Tracker (I think we may have questing under control by this point, but the Tracker just adds gravy)

Exhaust Unexpected Courage to ready Beregond.

I think we are as ready for this next stage as we’ll ever be. Again, we’re going to have to keep Denethor standing so he can defend this turn if we need him.

Quest Phase
Exhaust Ithilien Tracker to lower the threat of the next enemy added to the staging area to 0 until the end of the phase.

Trigger Emyn Arnen Ranger: Candle-bearer. Give Emyn Arnen Ranger 3 extra willpower.

Mablung-3
Emyn Arnen Ranger-4
Damrod-3

Total willpower: 10

Mablung spends 1 resource to trigger Steed of the Mark and ready himself.

Well Visionary Leadership is already paying for itself, adding an extra 3 willpower this turn, value that is only going to improve as the game goes on.

1: Soft Mires (0/4, 2 threat, 0/1 mire) (We’re able to travel to this one straight away as all we need to do is raise our threat instead of being dependant on Smeagol.)
2: Groping Dead* (0 threat). Trigger Entangling Nets, attach to Groping Dead. (We can ignore this guy for questing this turn, and the Entangling Nets effectively neuter his combat capabilities. Not a bad result at all) Trigger Damrod: Fast Hitch (Excellent! This is exactly what we needed to see)

Total threat: 6

Win by 4, place 4 progress on Stage 1B (7/6)

Now all we need to do is tame Gollum and we can advance onwards.

Travel Phase
Raise each player’s threat by 1 to travel to Soft Mires (0/4).

If we don’t go here it will be discarded at the end of the turn and we’ll be forced to reveal another encounter card.

Encounter Phase
Deck Two engages Groping Dead*.

Denethor should be able to defend against this guy, giving Deck One the chance to try and sort out their enemies.

Combat Phase
[Deck One]
Shadow Card dealt to Gollum
Envoy from Pelargir defends (0)
Dead Things revealed as Shadow. Raise Deck One’s threat by 1.
Gollum attacks (2), destroys Envoy from Pelargir
Faramir attacks (2), Mablung attacks (3), Sam attacks (1), Frodo attacks (1)
Trigger Stage 1B, discard Shifting Quagmire (1 threat) to give Gollum 1 extra defense.
Deck One plays Halfling Determination on Frodo, giving him 2 extra attack
Gollum is defeated, flip to Smeagol and exhaust him. Deck One takes control of Smeagol.

And Smeagol has been tamed. We were fortunate nothing with a hefty threat came off the deck, but with about half the encounter cards either treacheries or low threat locations and enemies, I was confident we could pull it off with help from Halfling Determination.

Complete Stage 1B. Trigger Stage 2A. Discard: Dead Things, Weight Of The Ring, Call of the Ring, Haunted Mere. Add Haunted Mere to the staging area.

Well I think we got pretty lucky in that round of discarding. But the Haunted Mere will be no pushover, and we need to clear it out quickly before Stagnant Pools grows its threat too large. Now I think we can return to the combat.

Shadow Card dealt to Groping Dead
Beregond defends (6)
We Hates Them! revealed as Shadow
Groping Dead attacks (4), deals no damage.

After taking down Gollum, we don’t have any spare attackers, but we should be able to take care of him next turn.

[Deck Two]
Shadow Card dealt to Groping Dead*
Denethor defends (3)
Bitter Reek revealed as Shadow. Raise Deck Two’s threat by 1.
Groping Dead* attacks (1), deals no damage
Ithilien Lookout attacks (2), deals 2 damage to Groping Dead*

We’re halfway to dealing with Groping Dead*. With no more Gollum plaguing our every move we should be able to kill off some of these Undead enemies.

Refresh Phase
Raise each player’s threat by 1
Deck One: 40
Deck Two: 38

Trigger Mire:
Place 1 mire token on Stagnant Pools (2/5) and Haunted Mere (1/2)

Our threat is creeping up dangerously high, and for the first time in the campaign apart from Helm’s Deep I think (correct me if I am wrong), we are in Valour territory. I’m not sure how I feel about this, but we’ll just have to get on with it I guess.

Turn No.4
Stage: 2B (0/12)
Active Location: Soft Mires (0/4)
Staging Area:
Candle-bearer (0 threat)
Stagnant Pools (0/7, 5 threat, 2/5 mire)
Haunted Mere (0/5, 4 threat, 1/2 mire)

Resource Phase
Deck Two Hand (New Card in Bold):
Secret Paths, Warden of Healing, Silver Lamp, Fast Hitch, Mithrandir’s Advice
Beregond (1), Damrod (1), Denethor (2), Frodo (1)

While I’m glad to see more card draw, I was kind of hoping to see another trap or, even better, threat reduction. Maybe with this we may get our wish.

Deck One Hand:
Hobbit Cloak, Anborn, In Service of the Steward, Friend of Friends
Sam (1), Faramir (1), Mablung (1)

Excellent. Both Frodo and Sam will be questing for more, and with Fast Hitch on its way we can get the most use out of their boosted stats.

Planning Phase
Deck Two:
Exhaust Steward of Gondor to give Denethor 2 resources.
Fast Hitch-Frodo (Once we find Sting and Mithril Shirt they’ll be going on Frodo so it makes sense to ensure we can make the most of his stats)
Mithrandir’s Advice: Sting, The Searching Eye. (Well shoot. Eru giveth and Eru taketh away. Given the amount of readying we now have on our heroes, we’ll exhaust our heroes instead of revealing the extra encounter card.) Trigger The Searching Eye: exhaust Frodo, Beregond, Damrod and Denethor. Exhaust Fast Hitch to ready Frodo, exhaust Unexpected Courage to ready Beregond.
Sting-Frodo (The defensive ability on this sword is fantastic, but Frodo ready needs Mithril Shirt as well to truly shine as a defender.)

Deck One:
In Service of the Steward-Frodo (Now his willpower is boosted yet further thanks to Visionary Leadership, but this also makes him eligible for Wealth of Gondor and Envoy of Pelargir)
Friend of Friends-Sam (And both hobbits are boosted again by this classic attachment. I think this may be my MVP of the entire campaign so far because of the sheer amount of utility I have been able to get from it.)

So definitely a mixed bag here, but Frodo is now achieving his higher levels of functionality that really make him shine.

Quest Phase
Exhaust Ithilien Tracker to lower the threat of the next enemy added to the staging area to 0 until the end of the phase.

Trigger Emyn Arnen Ranger: Candle-bearer. Give Emyn Arnen Ranger 3 extra willpower.

Mablung-3
Frodo-5
Emyn Arnen Ranger-4

Total willpower: 12

Mablung spends 1 resource to trigger Steed of the Mark and ready himself.

We’ll have to leave it there if we are going to be able to take down the enemies we have engaged with us.

1: Morgul Wraith (0 threat) (It appears as though the ‘Searching Eye’ has found us. This could prove problematic)
2: Bitter Reek (Another one? We’ll take the damage on Mablung as our threat is getting a wee bit high). Deal 1 damage to Mablung.

Deck Two plays Secret Paths to reduce the threat of Stagnant Pools to 0.

Total threat: 4

Win by 8. Explore Soft Mires and add it to the victory display. Place 4 progress on Stage 2B (4/12)

Another location down. Only two more to go before we can move forward.

Travel Phase
Exhaust Smeagol to travel to Haunted Mere (0/5)

This means Haunted Mere won’t now get discarded by Mire at the end of the turn.

Encounter Phase

We’re going to leave the Morgul Wraith up in the staging area for now, thank you very much.

Combat Phase
[Deck Two]
Shadow Card dealt to Groping Dead*
Beregond defends (6)
Soft Mires revealed as Shadow
Groping Dead* attacks (1), deals no damage
Ithilien Lookout attacks (2), destroys Groping Dead*

That’s one down. One to go.

[Deck Two]
Shadow Card dealt to Groping Dead
Sam defends (3)
Followed by Night revealed as Shadow
Groping Dead attacks (3), deals no damage
Faramir attacks (2), Mablung attacks (3), destroys Groping Dead

With our board now clear of enemies engaged with us, we can now fully focus on clearing out locations.

Refresh Phase
Raise each player’s threat by 1
Deck Two: 39
Deck One: 41

Trigger Mire:
Place 1 mire token on Stagnant Pools (3/5)

We’re going to have to travel here next turn. The threat is getting high and if we’re not careful we may get ourselves location locked.

Turn No.5
Stage: 2B (4/12)
Active Location: Haunted Mere (0/5)
Staging Area:
Candle-bearer (0 threat)
Stagnant Pools (0/7, 6 threat, 3/5 mire)
Morgul Wraith (4 threat)

Resource Phase
Deck One Hand (New Card in Bold):
Hobbit Cloak, Anborn, In Service of the Steward
Sam (1), Faramir (1), Mablung (1), Frodo (1)

At this point, this card is essentially a 1-cost Favor of the Lady, giving the attached hero the Gondor trait and therefore an extra willpower. Sam will probably get this in the planning phase.

Deck Two Hand:
Warden of Healing, Silver Lamp, The Searching Eye, The Galadhrim’s Greeting
Beregond (2), Damrod (1), Denethor (2)

Finally we have some threat reduction. I must say this has taken its time in coming, but better late than never I suppose.

Planning Phase
Deck One:
In Service of the Steward-Sam (See comments for Frodo above. Extra willpower plus eligibility for certain effects and benefits)

And that’s all we can do for now. Hopefully we’ll get out Anborn one day, but unfortunately it is not this day.

Deck Two:
Exhaust Steward of Gondor to give Denethor 2 resources.
Warden of Healing (At this point he’s more useful for his willpower, although we will probably need to use his healing ability before this quest is done.)

Again that’s just about the most we can do for now. On to the quest phase!

Quest Phase
Exhaust Ithilien Tracker to lower the threat of the next enemy added to the staging area to 0 until the end of the phase.

Trigger Emyn Arnen Ranger: Candle-bearer. Give Emyn Arnen Ranger 3 extra willpower.

Exhaust Denethor to look at the top card of the encounter deck: Haunted Mere*. (So the completion of Explore Secret Ways means that this card will not be contributing its threat. But with Mire 2 on it, we will need to travel to it quickly, potentially putting of Stagnant Pools yet another turn.)

Mablung-3
Sam-5
Frodo-5
Damrod-3
Emyn Arnen Ranger-4
Warden of Healing-2

Total willpower: 22

Mablung spends 1 resource to trigger Steed of the Mark and ready himself. Exhaust Fast Hitch to ready Frodo.

1: Haunted Mere* (0/5, 4 threat, 0/2 mire) (So the 4 threat is negated for now, meaning that of the 6 progress spent on completing the side-quest, 4 is already bought back. All we need is just one more instance of this and we’ll be making a gain)
2: Dead Things (0 threat) (And here’s another enemy coming at us. We can’t afford to chump-block with this one or we’ll send out threat through the roof)

Total threat: 10

Win by 12. Explore Haunted Mere and add it to the victory display. Place 7 progress on Stage 2B (11/12)

Well we’re well and truly on our way to progressing to Stage 3. All we need now is to explore one more location and place 1 more progress on the quest stage, and then we’re on the home stretch.

Travel Phase
Exhaust Smeagol to travel to Haunted Mere* (0/5)

We’ll deal with this one now, but next turn we absolutely need to get to Stagnant Pools.

Encounter Phase
Deck One optionally engages Morgul Wraith.
Trigger Mablung to place 1 resource on him. Trigger Sam.

Hopefully we should be able to do some damage to the Nazgul, if not kill him outright.

Deck Two optionally engages Dead Things.

This one however will take a little bit more time as our attackers aren’t as powered up in Deck Two.

Combat Phase
[Deck One]
Shadow Card dealt to Morgul Wraith
Beregond defends (6)
Candle-bearer revealed as Shadow (Well that’s just brilliant. Now we have to deal with this guy sticking about for yet another turn)
Morgul Wraith attacks (5), deals no damage
Trigger Beregond: reduce Deck One’s threat by 1. Exhaust Unexpected Courage to ready Beregond.

That is extremely irritating. With Frodo, Sam, Mablung and Faramir together we would have been able to bring down the Ringwraith to only 3 hitpoints.

[Deck Two]
Shadow Card dealt to Dead Things
Beregond defends (6)
Evil-smelling Fens revealed as Shadow, deal 1 damage to Beregond.
Dead Things attacks (4), deals no damage

Once again we are unable to counterattack. What would be good is if we were able to dig out a Spear of the Citadel for Beregond and he’d have all these enemies taken care of in no time.

Refresh Phase
Raise each player’s threat by 1
Deck One: 41
Deck Two: 40

Trigger Mire:
Place 1 mire token on Stagnant Pools (4/5).

Our threat is getting dangerously high. Perhaps it was not so much of a good idea to play all hose Doomed cards at the beginning.

Turn No.6
Stage: 2B (11/12)
Active Location: Haunted Mere* (0/5)
Staging Area:
Candle-bearer (0 threat)
Stagnant Pools (7 threat)

Resource Phase
Deck Two Hand (New Card in Bold):
Silver Lamp, The Searching Eye, The Galadhrim’s Greeting, The Evening Star
Beregond (3), Damrod (2), Denethor (3), Frodo (2)

A little bit of location control is always nice, but we’re really wanting more allies to help with the swarm of enemies that will descend on the last stage of the quest.

Deck One Hand:
Hobbit Cloak, Anborn, Secret Vigil
Sam (2), Faramir (1), Mablung (1)

That’s more like it. This’ll go on Dead Things and we should get our threat dropped by this. ‘Should’ being the key word.

Planning Phase
Deck Two:
Exhaust Steward of Gondor to give Denethor 2 resources.
The Galadhrim’s Greeting: Lower each Deck One’s threat by 6. (Now if we get a Candle-bearer engaged with Deck One, at least Sam’s ability will trigger.)
The Evening Star: Place 2 progress on Haunted Mere* (2/5) (This is so that we can keep back someone else from questing so we’re better equipped to handle combat.)

Deck One:
We’re going to sit tight on Mablung’s resource so we can use it for Steed of the Mark. Nothing truly flashy this round, just preparing for the storm that is to come.

Quest Phase
Exhaust Ithilien Tracker to lower the threat of the next enemy added to the staging area to 0 until the end of the phase.

Trigger Emyn Arnen Ranger: Candle-bearer. Give Emyn Arnen Ranger 3 extra willpower.

Exhaust Denethor to look at the top card of the encounter deck: Pursued by the Enemy  (Absolutely not. Extra attacks, doomed, surge, these are a few of my most hated things. Denethor will not stand for this.) Place Pursued by the Enemy on the bottom of the encounter deck.

Mablung-3
Sam-5
Emyn Arnen Ranger-4
Warden of Healing-2

Total willpower: 14

Mablung spends 1 resource to trigger Steed of the Mark and ready himself.

1: We Hates Them! (We cannot afford to let Smeagol turn on us, not when we need him to travel to Stagnant Pool*.) Spend 1 Fellowship resource and exhaust The One Ring to cancel this effect. Trigger Surge.
1.1: Groping Dead (0 threat) (Yet another enemy. We’re going to have our work cut out for us this turn I think.)
2: Stagnant Pools* (0/7, 3 threat, 0/5 mire) (Hopefully we won’t have to let this stick about for as long as we did the first copy.)

Total threat: 10.

Win by 4. Explore Haunted Mere and add it to the victory display. Complete Stage 2B. Trigger Stage 3A. Deck One searches the encounter discard pile for Groping Dead* and puts it into play engaged with him. Trigger Mablung. Deck Two searches the encounter discard pile for Groping Dead^ and puts it in play engaged with him. Shuffle all locations in the victory display into the encounter deck.

Here we go, the last hurdle.

Travel Phase
Exhaust Smeagol to travel to Stagnant Pools (0/7).

We got here just in time. Another round and this would have exploded in our faces.

Encounter Phase
Deck Two optionally engages Groping Dead.

I really wish Beregond had a Spear of the Citadel right now.

Combat Phase
[Deck Two]
Shadow Card dealt to Dead Things
Frodo defends (4). Trigger Sting: discard Evil-smelling Fens to deal 3 damage to Dead Things.
Creeping Marshes revealed as Shadow
Dead Things attacks (4), deals no damage
Exhaust Fast Hitch to ready Frodo

We don’t have the bodies to counterattack this guy with, we just need to hold our nerve for now.

Shadow Card dealt to Groping Dead
Frodo defends (4). Trigger Sting: discard A Fell Light. Deal no damage to Groping Dead.
Soft Mires revealed as Shadow
Groping Dead attacks (3), deals no damage

Again, we’re not going to counterattack here.

Shadow Card dealt to Groping Dead^
Damrod defends (1)
Haunted Mere revealed as Shadow
Groping Dead^ attacks (3), deals 2 damage
Ithilien Lookout attacks (2), deals 1 damage

Well that’s the best we can do. What we really need is an extra ally or two to start chipping away at these Undead.

[Deck One]
Shadow Card dealt to Morgul Wraith
Beregond defends (6)
Evil-smelling Fens revealed as Shadow, deal 1 damage to Beregond
Morgul Wraith attacks (5), deals no damage.
Exhaust Unexpected Courage to ready Beregond.

We’re going to hold back on taking him down until we can knock out the Groping Dead* first, so we can concentrate our efforts.

Shadow Card dealt to Groping Dead*
Beregond defends (6)
Haunted Mere revealed as Shadow
Groping Dead* attacks (3), deals no damage
Faramir attacks (2), Mablung attacks (3), destroys Groping Dead

Right, one Undead down. Only 3 left, how hard could it be?

Refresh Phase
Raise each player’s threat by 1
Deck Two: 41
Deck One: 36

Trigger Mire:
Place 1 mire token on Stagnant Pools* (1/5)

And so we begin the process again. Fortunately with Explore Secret Ways in the victory display, Stagnant Pools* won’t be counting its threat as long as its duplicate is the active location.

Turn No.7
Stage: 3B (0/24)
Active Location: Stagnant Pools (0/7)
Staging Area:
Candle-bearer (0 threat)
Stagnant Pools* (0/7, 0 threat, 1/5 mire)

Normally Stagnant Pools* would have 4 threat just now, but remember we have another copy as the active location.

Resource Phase
Deck One Hand (New Card in Bold):
Hobbit Cloak, Anborn, Secret Vigil, Feint
Sam (3), Faramir (2), Mablung 2), Frodo (2)

Thank goodness! Now we can defend everything we need to this round, unless more enemies come at us, but we’ll dealt with that as/when it might occur.

Deck Two Hand:
Silver Lamp, The Searching Eye, Interrogation
Beregond (1), Damrod (3), Denethor (4)

I have a plan coming together I think. Hang on a moment.

Planning Phase
Deck One:
Anborn (At long last! Welcome to the party!)
Hobbit Cloak-Frodo (Extra defense against the Ringwraiths)
Secret Vigil-Dead Things (Hopefully we should be able to kill him this turn and drop everyone’s threat)

Deck Two:
Exhaust Steward of Gondor to give Denethor 2 resources.

So here’s the thing, we have a four-card encounter deck left and we know Pursued by the Enemy is at the bottom. As it stands, that will probably go out as a Shadow and make the enemy attack a second time. However, there is also a Creeping Marshes in there, which has surge. I can’t remember what else we haven’t seen yet, there may well be another surge in there, which would definitely make Pursued by the Enemy go off and make all the enemies attack me out of sequence. This would not be good. So instead, we shall do the following and see if we can’t avoid that fate.

Exhaust Denethor to look at the top card of the encounter deck: Creeping Marsh. (As I suspected. Away it goes!) Place Creeping Marsh on the bottom of the encounter deck.

Interrogation: Call of the Ring, Soft Mires, Pursued by the Enemy. (Well we know which of these we don’t want.) Discard Pursued by the Enemy, return Call of the Ring and Soft Mires to the top of the encounter deck. (We can deal with the Nazgul in the staging area this turn, their threat will be negated by the Ithilien Tracker)

Quest Phase
Exhaust Ithilien Tracker to lower the threat of the next enemy added to the staging area to 0 until the end of the phase.

Trigger Emyn Arnen Ranger: Candle-bearer. Give Emyn Arnen Ranger 3 extra willpower.

Emyn Arnen Ranger-4
Warden of Healing-2

Total willpower: 6

There’s no point in questing through Stagnant Pools as we can’t place progress on the main quest until all the Undead enemies engaged with us are dead.

1: Call of the Ring: Search the encounter discard pile for Morgul Wraith* and add it to the staging area. (He can sit up there for now until we’re in a position to engage him)
2: Soft Mires (0/4, 2 threat, 0/1 mire) (We knew it was coming, and we’ve quested accordingly)

Total threat: 2

Win by 4, place 4 progress on Stagnant Pools (4/7).

Bit by bit, we’re getting through this labyrinth marsh.

Travel Phase
N/A

Encounter Phase

We’ll leave the Morgul Wraith up there to stew for a bit before we take him on.

Combat Phase
[Deck One]
Shadow Card dealt to Morgul Wraith
Frodo defends (6). Exhaust Fast Hitch to ready Frodo
Creeping Marshes revealed as Shadow
Morgul Wraith attacks (5), deals no damage
Mablung attacks (4), Sam attacks (2), Frodo attacks (3), Smeagol attacks (2), Anborn attacks (3), destroys Morgul Wraith.

I think that’s the first time I’ve been able to use Smeagol for anything other than travel effects. And what a time to do it! For the first time since the Fords of Bruinen, a Ringwraith has been slain!

[Deck Two]
Bear in mind there are no more cards in the encounter deck left for Shadows, so this should be relatively straight-forward.

No Shadow Card dealt to Dead Things
Beregond defends (6). Exhaust Unexpected Courage to ready Beregond
Dead Things attacks (4), deals no damage
Faramir attacks (2), Ithilien Lookout attacks (2), destroys Dead Things.
Trigger Secret Vigil, lower each player’s threat by 3

We’re getting there, slowly but surely we’re getting there.

No Shadow Card dealt to Groping Dead
Beregond defends (6).
Groping Dead attacks (3), deals no damage

There’ll be no counterattack here, we’ll save that for next turn.

Deck One plays Feint on Groping Dead^
Damrod attacks (2), deals 1 damage to Groping Dead (2/4)

Next time, we may be able to knock off both Undead enemies, and then it’s the final stretch.

Refresh Phase
Raise each player’s threat by 1
Deck One: 34
Deck Two: 39

Trigger Mire:
Place 1 mire token on Soft Mires (1/1) and Stagnant Pools* (2/5). Discard Soft Mires.

There’s no encounter deck, so we don’t suffer for letting it slip away.

Turn No.8
Stage: 3B (0/24)
Active Location: Stagnant Pools (4/7)
Staging Area:
Candle-bearer (0 threat)
Stagnant Pools* (0/7, 0 threat, 2/5 mire)
Morgul Wraith (4 threat)

Resource Phase
Deck Two Hand (New Card in Bold):
Silver Lamp, The Searching Eye, Ithilien Lookout
Beregond (2), Damrod (4), Denethor (5), Frodo (3)

We could have done with this extra attack a fair bit earlier, but I suppose beggars can’t be choosers.

Deck One Hand:
Guard of the Citadel
Sam (1), Faramir (1), Mablung (1)

Sure, now all the allies come out to play. Thanks guys!

Planning Phase
Deck Two:
Silver Lamp-Beregond (A bit redundant by this point, but we’ve no reason not to.)
Ithilien Lookout: Dead Things (See I don’t think I ought to discard him, because then he could merely end up as fuel for A Fell Light and be dragged right back again. No, I think we’ll keep him about and just kill him off.)

Exhaust Warden of Healing to heal 1 damage from Damrod and Beregond. Pay 2 lore resources to ready him. Exhaust Warden of Healing to heal 1 damage from Damrod and Beregond. Pay 2 lore resources to ready him. Exhaust Warden of Healing to heal 1 damage from Mablung.

And just like that, everyone is back at full health.

Deck One:
Guard of the Citadel (If it weren’t for Visionary Leadership and Faramir’s readying ability we would not even be considering this guy. But we have both, and 2 willpower for 2 cost is certainly not a bad deal at all.)

Quest Phase
Exhaust Ithilien Tracker to lower the threat of the next enemy added to the staging area to 0 until the end of the phase.

Trigger Emyn Arnen Ranger: Candle-bearer. Give Emyn Arnen Ranger 3 extra willpower.

Sam-5
Emyn Arnen Ranger-4

Total willpower: 9

1: Dead Things (0 threat) Trigger Anborn: Deal 1 damage to Dead Things and boost its engagement cost by 5. (Now when we engage him, Sam should be able to trigger his ability and ready.)
2: Evil-smelling Fens (0/4, 3 threat, 0/3 mire) (Not bad at all. This means we’re still able to put progress on Stagnant Pools without being forced to travel somewhere new this turn.)

Total threat: 7

Win by 2, place 2 progress on Stagnant Pools (6/7).

Right, we need to kill everything off this turn before we get snowed under again.

Travel Phase
N/A

Encounter Phase
Deck Two optionally engages Morgul Wraith*

Deck One optionally engages Dead Things. Trigger Sam, trigger Mablung, trigger Faramir to ready Anborn.

We need the enemies out of the staging area if we are to finish this off next turn, there’s just no escaping that fact.

Combat Phase
With Silver Lamp on Beregond, we can see each Shadow Card dealt to enemies engaged with Deck Two, essentially removing the vast majority of the risk here.

[Deck Two]
Shadow Card dealt to Groping Dead: We Hates Them!
Frodo defends (4). Trigger Sting, discard Shifting Quagmire to deal 1 damage to Groping Dead (3/4). Exhaust Fast Hitch to ready Frodo
Groping Dead attacks (4), deals no damage
Faramir attacks (2), Damrod attacks (2), destroys Groping Dead

First one down. Who’s next?

Shadow Card dealt to Groping Dead*: Lust for the Ring
Frodo defends (4). Trigger Sting, discard Candle-bearer to deal 3 damage to Groping Dead*, destroying it.

Well, that was a surprise to be sure, but a welcome one!

Shadow Card dealt to Morgul Wraith*: Shifting Quagmire
Beregond defends (6). Exhaust Unexpected Courage to ready Beregond
Morgul Wraith* attacks (5), deals no damage
Ithilien Lookout attacks (2), Ithilien Lookout attacks (2), Denethor attacks (1), deals 1 damage to Morgul Wraith* (8/9)

And now for the other side of the board.

[Deck One]
Shadow Card dealt to Dead Things
Beregond defends (6)
Soft Mires revealed as Shadow
Dead Things attacks (4), deals no damage
Sam attacks (2), Mablung attacks (4), destroys Dead Thing.

Right, we’re clear. Let’s move people!

Refresh Phase
Raise each player’s threat by 1
Deck Two: 40
Deck One: 35

Trigger Mire:
Place 1 mire on Stagnant Pools* (3/5) and Evil-smelling Fens (1/3)

Turn No.9
Stage: 3B (0/24)
Active Location: Stagnant Pools (6/7)
Staging Area:
Candle-bearer (0 threat)
Stagnant Pools* (0/7, 0 threat, 3/5 mire)
Evil-smelling Fens (0/4, 3 threat, 1/3 mire)

Resource Phase
Deck One Hand (New Card in Bold):
Honour Guard
Sam (1), Faramir (1), Mablung (3), Frodo (4)

Seriously, where were you before?

Deck Two Hand:
The Searching Eye, Ranger Bow
Beregond (1), Damrod (4), Denethor (5)

Well that is just about useless at this point. Talk about late to the party.

Planning Phase
Deck One:
Honour Guard

Because that extra willpower may prove to make all the difference.

Deck Two:

I’m not even going to bother with Ranger bow, such is my disdain for its lack of timeliness.

Quest Phase
Exhaust Ithilien Tracker to lower the threat of the next enemy added to the staging area to 0 until the end of the phase.

Trigger Emyn Arnen Ranger: Candle-bearer. Give Emyn Arnen Ranger 3 extra willpower.

Exhaust Denethor to look at the top card of the encounter deck: Candle-bearer*. (I’m going to leave it here because Ithilien Tracker has neutered its threat, but it will engage us if we are not successful, and we will be delayed even further. We need to do this now.)

Faramir-3
Mablung-3
Sam-5
Frodo-5
Smeagol-2
Anborn-2
Guard of the Citadel-2
Honour Guard-1
Beregond-1
Damrod-3
Emyn Arnen Ranger-4
Ithilien Lookout-2
Ithilien Lookout-2
Warden of Healing-2

Total willpower: 37

We need to beat the threat by at least 25 in order to win. We should have it, but I don’t want to jinx things, so fingers crossed everyone.

1: Candle-bearer* (0 threat) (He’s a non-issue, so everyone can ignore him)
2: Huanted Mere (4 threat) (That’s enough, we’re through!)

Total threat: 7

Win by 30. Explore Stagnant Pools and add it to the victory display. Complete Stage 3B.

Victory

Victory display: Explore Secret Ways (1), Stagnant Pools (3)

Score: 35 threat + 40 threat + 90 for turns taken – 3 victory points = 162

We have escaped the Dead Marshes, aided by Smeagol and a contingent of Rangers sent by Denethor, who wants the Ring for himself. This quest really did well in capturing the feeling of wading through a mire of a game, where each turn seemed to bog you down further and further. It wasn’t until the last turn or two that I felt as though I had my head above water, as though I was fighting to stay afloat from the outset. The traps did wonders in helping us in the first few turns, but it was the equipping of Sting and recruitment of Anborn that really started to turn the tide. The extra attack and damage-dealing ability really saved our game. And let us not forget Visionary Leadership. Without it, I think we may still might have won, but it would have been a much longer and drawn out game.

So next is Journey to the Crossroads. We’ll need to retool our decks extensively, as neither are currently outfitted for heavy combat. You saw how much we were beleaguered here, and there enemies weren’t exactly monsters, Morgul Wraith aside. As for the burdens, I feel as though we usually pack enough readying in our decks that they wouldn’t be game ending, and also our starting threat is already boosted because of the Fallen Heroes  Gimli and Theoden. To that end, we shall take two copies of The Searching Eye and avoid the penalty. Do you think that’s the right call? Which option would you have gone for? Should I swap around some of my heroes for Journey, or are their current incarnations up for the task?

Add The Searching Eye to the Campaign Pool.
Add The Searching Eye to the Campaign Pool.

FFG- Winged Nazgul

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