Journey To The Crossroads: 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.
Add The Black Gate and The Cross-roads to the staging area. Shuffle the Men of Harad deck and place it facedown under The Cross-roads. Deck Two searches the encounter deck for Foothills of Ephel Duath and adds it to the staging area. Shuffle the encounter deck.

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 The Searching Eye and Brace of Coneys into Deck One.
Shuffle  Mithril Shirt, Sting, The Searching Eye and Brace of Coneys into Deck Two.
Deck One draws opening hand.
Deck Two draws opening hand.

I have heard tell of the difficulties of this quest ever since its release, indeed at time of writing on the Quest Companion site it is currently ranked the hardest Saga quest outside of the Return of the King, just beating out Helm’s Deep. As such I have always been fearing this moment when I would be forced into conflict with such quantities of Oliphaunts and Archery to make the hardest Uruk weep. The way my hero line-up has worked out, with all my Noldor and Silvan characters over with Aragorn, means I cannot rely on the tried and true method of Rivendell Blade/Straight Shot to discard these monstrosities and must seek out other ways of taking them down. Shall we see how we get on together?

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

Starting Hand:
Staff of Lebethron
In Service of the Steward
Gondorian Shield
Boromir
Hunting Party

While all of these cards are good, none of them are the headline acts that we need, except perhaps Gondorian Shield. Boromir would be good as well, but he’s a bit pricey to begin the game with. I fear we may have to mulligan.

Mulligan:
Defender of Rammas
Keep Watch
Steward of Gondor
Boromir
Squire of the Citadel

That’s a bit better, though we still have that expensive Boromir in play. Hopefully we can complete Keep Watch as soon as possible and make the most of the reduction in attack the enemies will have, which will really help our defenders stay alive and kicking. Steward will again go on Deck Two’s Denethor, and Squire will provide us with a chump blocker to absorb an attack.

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

Starting Hand:
Anborn
Entangling Nets
Fearless Scout
Ranger Bow
Song of Wisdom

This is decent, we shall probably keep this hand. Ideally we might have had an Ithilien Tracker or two, but with Anborn and a trap in hand, we can’t really pass that up. Song of Wisdom means none of Beregond’s resources will go to waste, but guess which idiot forgot A Burning Brand for Beregond! If we lose then we’ll go back and change things and you’ll never read this and know of my screw-up.

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

Turn No.1
Stage: 1B (0/20)
Active Location: N/A
Staging Area:
The Cross-roads (0/9, 0 threat, 9/9 Men of Harad)
The Black Gate (0/5 Harad)
Foothills of Ephel Duath (0/6, 3 threat)

Resource Phase
Deck One Hand (New Card in Bold):
Defender of Rammas, Keep Watch, Steward of Gondor, Boromir, Squire of the Citadel, Hobbit Cloak
Sam (1), Faramir (1), Mablung (1), Frodo (1)

I think in this quest we may have to use our hobbits as defenders. With so many defense boosts available to them, whether stats or shadow cancelation, these guys probably stand the best chance of holding back the Harad onslaught

Deck Two Hand:
Anborn, Entangling Nets, Fearless Scout, Ranger Bow, Song of Wisdom, Fast Hitch
Beregond (1), Damrod (1), Denethor (1)

This just reinforces what we’ve said above. Frodo and Sam may prove to be the workhorses of this game.

Planning Phase
Deck One:
Keep Watch (If we can complete this quest as soon as possible, we should stand a better chance of defending against the attacks to come)
Hobbit Cloak-Sam (Now if the right enemy comes off and engages us, Sam could see himself defending for 5. Not bad at all in my book)
Squire of the Citadel (An extra body on the table to soak up an attack and will give us our resource back upon its destruction)

Deck Two:
Entangling Nets (Free with Damrod, and should allow us to draw another card)
Fearless Scout-Faramir (Now as soon as we get Boromir on the table, Deck One will be able to make use of Hunting Party). Trigger Fearless Scout: Ithilien Lookout (Hopefully this guy should get rid of an enemy for us, allowing us to avoid taking on more than we are able)
Fast Hitch-Sam (This means we can either use his defensive utility twice or allow him to weigh in on an attack as well)

And we’ll leave it there for now. We’ll save Song of Wisdom for when Frodo can pay for it, and keep Ranger Bow back for any Ranger allies we are able to get into play.

Exhaust Denethor to look at the top card of the encounter deck: Man of Harad (1 threat). (Now in terms of pure stats, this guy is the weakest we’ll face this game. However he does have Surge, and so we’ll be revealing the next card off the encounter deck anyway. In addition he has Archery 1, which will be irritating, and his forced engagement effect means he’d be getting rid of one of our cards. We really have nothing to lose by tossing him) Place Man of Harad at the bottom of the encounter deck.

Quest Phase
We know we are going to have to face at least 2 additional threat from The Cross-roads, combined with the 4 threat we’ll be facing in the staging area means it is extremely unlikely we’d be able to complete Keep Watch in one sitting. But we may as well put a few progress on it nevertheless.

Keep Watch (0/6) is the active quest.

Trigger Stage 1B: Oliphaunt (3 threat). (Well this is not what we were hoping for. Not what we wanted at all. We ought to have gotten at least one turn’s grace, but apparently not! We should be able to survive, but I’m not sure whether we can sustain much more than 3 turns of combat with this guy in addition to everything else the encounter deck will be throwing at us)

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

Total willpower: 11

We should be able to trigger Sam’s ability to ready him and get him to defend against the Oliphaunt. He’ll probably take 1 damage, though if we get a nasty shadow effect we could see a slain hero. So no pressure then.

1: The Dark Lord’s Summons. (And this just pours salt in the Oliphaunt-wound. We literally cannot fulfil the first option because we don’t have any enemies engaged with us, and even if we did we’re wanting to keep the number of Harad enemies under The Black Gate to an absolute minimum) Reveal the top facedown card from under The Crossroads: Oliphaunt*. Oliphaunt* engages Deck One. Trigger Oliphaunt*: exhaust Squire of the Citadel. Trigger Sam, trigger Mablung, trigger Faramir: ready Squire of the Citadel. (Well that’s just peachy. Our chances of survival are rapidly going downhill)
2: Lust for the Ring (I doubt we’re going to be using Frodo’s ability any time soon, but to minimise the risks of this card as much as possible, we’ll put this on Denethor. We won’t be questing with him any time soon, and it fits the theme of his character.) Attach Lust for the Ring to Denethor. Trigger Surge.
2.1: Marching Up the Road (Oh come on! We are not going to let an Oliphaunt get sent up to the Black Gate, not without a fight, because I have a hunch that the Pelennor Fields will be tough enough without the extra enemies. No, we will take the extra enemies and hold them here. That said, we’ll take the weakest enemies we can, and both deck will engage a Man of Harad.) Deck One searches the encounter deck for Man of Harad and engages it. Trigger Sam, trigger Mablung. Trigger Man of Harad, discard Boromir. (It could have been worse, we could have lost Steward. But now our card count is looking awfully thin, hopefully we can draw into a Foe-hammer or two to help us out here). Deck Two searches the encounter deck for Man of Harad* and engages it. Trigger Man of Harad*, discard Ranger Bow. (This was the best-case scenario here. Anborn will be invaluable for recycling those trap cards and Song of Wisdom is going to be needed for Beregond to ensure his resources do not just sit there gathering dust.)

Total threat: 8

So because of Sam’s boosts as a result of enemies engaging him we are now sitting at 13 willpower, just 1 short of completing the Keep Watch side-quest. We do have one option for completing the side-quest, but it will mean triggering Frodo’s ability, and thus Lust for the RIng. Now Denethor isn’t questing so the reduction in his willpower won’t affect us this time, but everyone will have to raise their threat by 1. I feel the benefits of completing the side-quest outweigh the threat increase, though by doing so this way we are inched closer to the engagement costs for the enemies in this quest, which would negate Sam’s ability as well as Hobbit Cloak and Staff of Lebethron.

Spend 1 Fellowship resource and exhaust The One Ring to give Frodo 2 extra willpower and attack until the end of the round. Trigger Lust for the Ring, reduce Denethor’s willpower to 0 and raise each players’ threat by 1.

Total willpower: 15

Win by 7, complete Keep Watch and add it to the victory display.

Well if nothing else we have an extra victory point. But I think completing this side-quest will go a long way to seeing us through this quest. All of the enemies become much more manageable now its in the victory display.

Travel Phase
The first player engages Oliphaunt to travel to Foothills of Ephel Duath (0/6). Trigger Oliphaunt: exhaust Squire of the Citadel. Trigger Sam, trigger Mablung, trigger Faramir: ready Squire of the Citadel.

We aren’t really left with a choice here. We need to travel to the Foothills or its threat will keep floating up there in the staging area so I guess Deck One is engaged with 2 Oliphaunts on the first turn.

Encounter Phase
N/A

There are no more enemies left to engage so there’s nothing to be done here.

Combat Phase
Wish us luck.

Trigger Archery 2, deal 1 damage to Faramir and Damrod.

[Deck One]
Shadow Card dealt to Oliphaunt
Sam defends (7)
Ithilien Woods revealed as Shadow
Oliphaunt attacks (5), deals no damage
Exhaust Fast Hitch to ready Sam

As long as we can keep our threat below our enemies’ engagement cost, we should be able to use him as a stonewall and keep back their attacks.

Shadow Card dealt to Oliphaunt*
Sam defends (7)
Fierce Southrons revealed as Shadow
Oliphaunt attacks (5), deals no damage

This is where I wish we had Sting or a Spear of the Citadel on Sam, so we can start chipping away at these Oliphaunts one bit at a time.

Shadow Card dealt to Man of Harad
Squire of the Citadel defends (1)
Hills of Ithilien revealed as Shadow, Deck One discards Old Bogey-stories from Frodo
Man of Harad attacks (2), destroys Squire of the Citadel.
Trigger Squire of the Citadel, place 1 resource on Mablung.

This really has been the extent of my use of Od Bogey-stories for the entirety of this campaign, attachment discard fodder. Maybe one day I might use its ability, but who knows if that day will ever come.

[Deck Two]
Shadow Card dealt to Man of Harad*
Beregond defends (4)
Captain of Harad revealed as Shadow
Man of Harad* attacks (2), deals no damage
Trigger Beregond, lower Deck Two’s threat by 1.

And that’s all we can do for now. We need to be able to get some counterattacks in some or else we’re going to be finding ourselves very quickly overwhelmed with the sheer number of enemies coming our way.

Refresh Phase
Raise each player’s threat by 1
Deck One: 33
Deck Two: 30

So we’re a few turns yet from Sam’s ability turning off for the weaker enemies, but that time is coming sooner than we would like. We’re going to need some threat reduction here before too long.

Turn No.2
Stage: 1B (0/20)
Active Location: Foothills of Ephel Duath (0/6)
Staging Area:
The Cross-roads, (0/9, 2 threat, 7/9 Men of Harad)
The Black Gate (0/5 Harad)

Resource Phase
Deck Two Hand (New Card in Bold):
Anborn, Song of Wisdom, Ithilien Lookout, Forest Patrol
Beregond (1), Damrod (1), Denethor (2), Frodo (1)

This is an excellent draw, at least, it will be once we can get an enemy trapped. Until then, this is pretty close to a dead card.

Deck One Hand:
Defender of Rammas, Steward of Gondor, Staff of Lebethron
Sam (1), Faramir (1), Mablung (5)

I suppose shadow cancellation is always a good thing, even if it isn’t really what we were hoping for at the moment.

Planning Phase
Deck Two:
Song of Wisdom-Beregond (I know, I should have brought A Burning Brand. Well in any case, now he can pay for Lore cards as well and ensure we are churning out as much as possible as quickly as possible)
Anborn (We don’t have any traps in the discard pile yet, but 3 attack is nice for now, especially in Lore)

Deck One:
Steward of Gondor-Denethor (Traps will be key in defeating this quest so we need to make sure we are able to afford them.)
Defender of Rammas (Solid defender, we’ll need his high defense to weather this storm)

Exhaust Steward of Gondor to give Denethor 2 resources

Exhaust Denethor to look at the top card of the encounter deck: Pursued by the Enemy. (We would not be able to survive this. Defending this attack would leave us without any questing presence, and more importantly we would not be able to withstand the round of attacks we’re going to be subjected to in the combat phase. We have no choice, Denethor will be putting this on the bottom of the encounter deck). Place Pursued by the Enemy on the bottom of the encounter deck.

Quest Phase
Trigger Stage 1B: Haradrim Soldier (1 threat). (Remember with Foothills of Ephel Duath as the active location all enemies have -1 threat) Trigger Entangling Nets, attach to Haradrim Soldier. Trigger Damrod: Ithilien Lookout (This guy will might snipe an enemy for us, which would be nice, but right now we just really need bodies on the table)

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

Total willpower: 11

Not sure how we’ll do, probably won’t clear the location, but as long as we don’t lose I’ll be happy.

1: Hills of Ithilien (0/4, 2 threat) (Not bad at all, once we’re able to travel here, it’ll be like we had Thalin with us! I wonder how he’d do in this quest?)
2: Arrows Thick In The Air (Really? Oh this is going to sting. And until we can draw into some healing there isn’t a whole lot I can do about the damage. I really hope I get a Warden of Healing soon)

Total threat: 6

Win by 5, place 5 progress on Foothills of Ephel Duath (5/6).

Well it’s not much, but it’s something.

Travel Phase
N/A

Encounter Phase
Deck One optionally engages Haradrim Soldier

So now we can do this…

Trigger Sam, trigger Mablung

But we have to put up with this…

Shadow Card dealt to Haradrim Soldier
Beregond defends (4)
Marching Up The Road revealed as Shadow
Haradrim Soldier attacks (1), deals no damage

Trigger Beregond, reduce Deck One’s threat by 1

So we got in some threat reduction, but at the cost of using Beregond. We weren’t able to take an undefended attack as that Shadow would have meant a dead hero and the Haradrim Soldier would have gone to the Black Gate. Things are getting desperate here. And yes, those responses should have been the other way round, but it hasn’t effected anything, I promise to be more careful in the future.

Combat Phase
Trigger Archery 12 (This is going to hurt.) Deal 1 damage to Sam, Denethor and Beregond, 2 damage to Mablung, Faramir, Damrod and Anborn. (Faramir and Damrod are now both down to 1 hitpoint each. If we lose two heroes we may need to consider starting over.)

We’re going to record all the attacks first here as we did at the end of Helm’s Deep. Bear with us and you’ll see why.

[Deck One Defense]
Shadow Card dealt to Oliphaunt
Sam defends (5)
Weight of the Ring revealed as Shadow
Oliphaunt attacks (5), deals no damage
Exhaust Fast Hitch to ready Sam

Right now it’s not the strength of the attacks that’s going to be a danger to us but the volume of them. We are in a very real danger of being overwhelmed, unless we do something drastic.

Shadow Card dealt to Oliphaunt*
Sam defends (5)
Foothills of Ephel Duath revealed as Shadow
Oliphaunt* attacks (5), deals no damage

We really need to start whittling away at these Oliphaunts or they are going to eventually going to get an attack through and knock out a hero.

Shadow Card dealt to Haradrim Soldier
Defender of the Rammas defends (4)
The Dark Lord’s Summons revealed as Shadow
Haradrim Soldier attacks (1), no damage dealt

We’re just about out of options. Drastic measures are needed.

Sam discards Leaf-wrapped Lembas, adds it to the victory display and removes it from the campaign pool to ready each hero in play.

I know this isn’t the bombastic moment I was hoping for to use this card, but we can’t escape the fact that we need to get rid of an enemy or two this turn, or face a slow descent into an unavoidable death.

Shadow Card dealt to Man of Harad
Beregond defends (4)
Southward Road revealed as Shadow
Man of Harad attacks (2), deals no damage

Trigger Beregond, reduce Deck One’s threat by 1

Just one more attack before we can hit back.

[Deck Two Defense]
Shadow Card dealt to Man of Harad*
Denethor defends (3)
Arrows Thick In The Air revealed as Shadow (Well that’s just brilliant, now we have to go again after this attack)
Man of Harad* attacks (2), deals no damage

Shadow Card dealt to Man of Harad*
Frodo defends (2) (I know it may seem risky using Frodo as the defender without any of his kit, but the most the enemy can get his attack boosted by is 1 so there’s no way he could kill Frodo this time)
Captain of Harad revealed as Shadow
Man of Harad* attacks (2), deals no damage

[Deck One attacks]

Man of Harad:
Faramir attacks (2), Mablung attacks (2), Sam attacks (2), destroys Man of Harad

We’re targeting those with Archery first. If we can maintain a strong defense against the actual attacks then but can’t get rid of the Archery, we’ll get picked apart in no time.

[Deck Two attacks]

Man of Harad*:
Damrod attacks (2), Anborn attacks (3), destroys Man of Harad*

And that’s all the Archery taken care of. Now I’ve said this the very next thing to appear will be a Haradrim Archer.

Refresh Phase
Raise each player’s threat by 1
Deck Two: 31
Deck One: 32

Not too bad for now. Beregond is doing a brilliant job in keeping Deck One’s threat down so we can keep using Sam’s abilities.

Turn No.3
Stage: 1B (0/20)
Active Location: Foothills of Ephel Duath (5/6)
Staging Area:
The Cross-roads (0/9, 3 threat, 6/9 Men of Harad)
The Black Gate (0/5 Harad)
Hills of Ithilien (0/4, 2 threat)

Resource Phase
Deck One Hand (New Card in Bold):
Staff of Lebethron, Gondorian Shield
Sam (1), Faramir (1), Mablung (5), Frodo (1)

Finally we can get Beregond up to 6 defense so he can block one of the Oliphaunts for us.

Deck Two Hand:
Ithilien Lookout, Forest Patrol, Sting
Beregond (1), Damrod (1), Denethor (3)

I’m not sure about who should get this, Frodo or Sam. I’m considering Sam because he’s our primary defender so far and he’d make the most use of this, but Sting is Frodo’s sword! We could put Sting on Frodo and hope we get a Fast Hitch I suppose, but I don’t know.

Planning Phase
Deck One:
Staff of Lebethron-Sam (As long as we keep our threat low, this will essentially act as a Burning Brand for Sam)
Gondorian Shield-Beregond (He is close to untouchable now, meaning we can make the most of his threat reducing ability)

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

Ithilien Lookout: Henneth Annun (I’m afraid we didn’t hit an enemy but at least now we know we don’t need to use Denethor’s ability so we can commit him to the quest and hopefully clear out Foothills of Ephel Duath this turn)
Sting-Sam (I’m sorry everyone, I really am, but with the amount of readying Sam has he is our best option for making the most of the universal stat boost and the defense response)

Quest Phase
Trigger Stage 1B: Haradrim Archer (1 threat).

And there’s the Archery back again. I told you this would happen.

Mablung-2
Sam-4
Frodo-2
Damrod-2
Denethor-1
Ithilien Lookout-1
Anborn-1

Total willpower:13

We’ll keep back Faramir for counter-attacks. We’ll need to make sure the Haradrim Archer is killed this turn.

1: Henneth Annun (0/1, 1 threat) (We knew this was coming, but we’re still glad to see it. We’ll keep this for when we’re desperate and need a bit of breathing space)
2: Hills of Ithilien* (0/4, 2 threat) (And this, we are very glad to see this. A relatively low threat location that should allow us to keep on top of the enemies coming our way)

Total threat: 10

Win by 3, explore Foothills of Ephel Duath, place 3 progress on Stage 1B (3/20)

The first load of progress on the quest stage. We’ve a long way to go, but we’re on our way.

Travel Phase
Travel to Hills of Ithilien (0/4)

This location will soften up any enemies coming our way. One damage may not seem like a lot but it will often mean the difference between an enemy surviving and attacking again, or a dead enemy.

Encounter Phase
Deck One optionally engages Haradrim Archer.

Trigger Haradrim Archer, deal 1 damage to Sam and Mablung.

Trigger Hills of Ithilien, deal 1 damage to Haradrim Archer

Trigger Sam, trigger Mablung.

We’re going to have to kill this guy immediately, we cannot afford to take much more archery.

Combat Phase
Trigger Archery 2, deal 1 damage to Ithilien Lookout and Denethor

As I said, our reserves of health are getting dangerously low. We need a Warden of Healing, and quickly.

[Deck One defense]
Shadow Card dealt to Oliphaunt
Beregond defends (6)
Captain of Harad revealed as Shadow
Oliphaunt attacks (5), deals no damage
Trigger Beregond, lower Deck One’s threat by 1

Ideally we’ll put an Unexpected Courage on Beregond and allow him to do this twice, but we’re still waiting on it showing up.

Shadow Card dealt to Oliphaunt*
Sam defends (6)
Exhaust Staff of Lebethron to discard Shadow from Oliphaunt*
Trigger Sting: Hills of Ithilien (2 threat), deal 2 damage to Oliphaunt* (7/9)
Oliphaunt* attacks (5), deals no damage
Exhaust Fast Hitch to ready Sam

And so the chipping away of the Oliphaunt*’s health begins. At this rate it will take a while, but it’s better than no damage at all.

Shadow Card dealt to Haradrim Soldier
Defender of Rammas defends (4)
Followed by Night revealed as Shadow
Haradrim Soldier attacks (1), deals no damage

We’ll get round to this guy eventually, but with only 1 attack he’s not going to cause us a great deal of problems any time soon.

Shadow Card dealt to Haradrim Archer
Sam defends (6)
Trigger Sting: Foothills of Ephel Duath (3 threat), deal 3 damage to Haradrim Archer
Panicked! revealed as Shadow
Haradrim Archer attacks (2), deals no damage

While we’ve dealt damage to the enemies attacking us with Sting, we’ve also discarded 2 locations that would have been nice to give us a break from all the enemy attacks.

[Deck One attacks]
Haradrim Archer:
Faramir attacks (2), destroys Haradrim Archer

And he’s down. Thankfully there’s no more Archery on the board but that could change at any draw of the encounter deck.

Refresh Phase
Raise each player’s threat by 1
Deck One: 32
Deck Two: 32

Turn No.4
Stage: 1B (3/20)
Active Location: Hills of Ithilien (0/4)
Staging Area:
The Cross-roads (0/9, 4 threat, 5/9 Men of Harad)
The Black Gate (0/5 Harad)
Henneth Annun (0/1, 1 threat)
Hills of Ithilien* (0/4, 2 threat)

Resource Phase
Deck Two Hand (New Card in Bold):
Forest Patrol, Poisoned Stakes
Beregond (2), Damrod (1), Denethor (2), Frodo (2)

More traps translates to more card draw and options for Forest Patrol.

Deck One Hand:
Veteran of Osgiliath
Sam (2), Faramir (1), Mablung (6)

A solid ally with a very good spread of stats. This guy is one that is actually worth readying by Faramir’s ability.

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

Poisoned Stakes (This’ll attach immediately to whatever comes of The Cross-road deck, leaving it open for a Forest Patrol to finish it off. If for some reason we decide not to play Forest Patrol, the latent damage given out by Stakes will mean we’ll only have to endure 2, possibly 3 turns of the attached enemy before the trap does our job for us)

Deck One:
Veteran of Osgiliath

By using Faramir’s ability to ready Veteran of Osgiliath we can make the most of his spread of stats. With 1 defense he could probably take the attack from the Haradrim Soldier with Entangling Nets (Keep Watch reducing his attack by 1, Entangling Nets by a further 2), or with 2 attack he can help chip away at the enemies facing us. He can soak 1 point of Archery with his 2 hitpoints, and all this is after throwing in a happy little point of willpower for questing.

Quest Phase
Trigger Stage 1B: Haradrim Soldier* (2 threat). Trigger Poisoned Stakes, attach to Haradrim Soldier*. (Hopefully this guy won’t survive long enough that we will need Poisoned Stakes to trigger, but it’s nice insurance to have.) Trigger Damrod: Mithrandir’s Advice. (Excellent card draw here, we’ll use this immediately.)

Deck Two plays Mithrandir’s Advice: Brace of Coneys, A Test of Will (The Test of Will would have been so helpful earlier on, but now we have it I don’t imagine we hold onto it for very long. And the Brace of Coneys will probably be saved to draw cards for Deck One, but we’ll hold off on it for now to minimise the potential impact of an Searching Eye we might draw. I risked Mithrandir’s Advice because Deck Two’s heroes are less crucial to our survival at this point, but without as many of Sam’s actions as we can get, I fear we’d be lost)

Exhaust Denethor to look at the top card of the encounter deck: Southward Road (While not the most devastating card by itself, we can’t really afford another location just now.) Place Southward Road on the bottom of the encounter deck.

Faramir-2
Mablung-2
Sam-4
Frodo-2
Damrod-2
Veteran of Osgiliath-1
Ithilien Lookout-1

Total willpower: 14

That’s as best as we can do for now, if needs be we can spend a Fellowship resource and give Frodo an extra 2 willpower.

1: Arrows Thick in the Air (This cannot be allowed to go off, this would be the end of us this game) Deck Two plays A Test of Will to cancel Arrows Thick in the Air
2: Fierce Southrons (Well we can’t cancel it, and I’d prefer not to let an enemy get through to the Black Gate if we can at all help it, so I guess we’ll take the attack). Haradrim Soldier* attacks Deck One
-Shadow Card dealt to Haradrim Soldier*
-Beregond defends (6)
Panicked revealed as Shadow, exhaust Defender of Rammas (This is annoying, but we should be able to ready him with Faramir when Haradrim Soldier* engages us)
-Haradrim Soldier attacks (3), deals no damage. Trigger Beregond, reduce Deck One’s threat by 1.

So that wasn’t too terrible, but this means we don’t have Beregond ready for the combat phase. We’ll have to make do with our other defenders, but we’ll see how we go.

Total threat: 11

As it stands we will successfully quest but we won’t be able to explore Hills of Ithilien, which we really ought to be doing. So we’re going to have to do this.

Deck Two spends 1 Fellowship resource and exhaust The One Ring to give Frodo 2 extra attack and willpower until the end of the round. Trigger Lust for the Ring to reduce Denethor’s willpower to 0 and increase each player’s threat by 1.

Win by 5, explore Hills of Ithilien and place 1 progress on Stage 1B (4/20).

As much as that stung, with this location out the way, it’s time to spice things up a bit. Onwards, to Hills of Ithilien*!

Travel Phase
Travel to Hills of Ithilien* (0/4)

In all seriousness, this is the location that has the largest threat in the staging area, and the extra direct damage will really help us keep on top of all these enemies. Travelling to this instead of Henneth Annun really is no contest.

Encounter Phase
Bear with us here, there are a number of triggers we need to resolve.

Deck One optionally engages Haradrim Soldier. Trigger Hills of Ithilien, deal 1 damage to Haradrim Soldier* (3/4). Trigger Haradrim Soldier*, Haradrim Soldier* attacks Deck One.
-Shadow Card dealt to Haradrim Soldier*
-Deck Two plays Forest Patrol, destroying Haradrim Soldier*

There we go. Now because the enemy was engaged, we can trigger all our heroes now too!

Trigger Sam, trigger Mablung, trigger Faramir: Defender of Rammas.

Barring a nasty shadow we should be able to defend everything, although now we’ll have no-one ready with a counter-attack.

Combat Phase
No Archery this time, long may it continue.

[Deck One defense]
Shadow Card dealt to Oliphaunt
Sam defends (6)
Exhaust Staff of Lebethron to discard Shadow from Oliphaunt
Trigger Sting: Man of Harad (1 threat), deal 1 damage to Oliphaunt
Oliphaunt attacks (5), deals no damage
Exhaust Fast Hitch to ready Sam

Shadow Card dealt to Oliphaunt*
Sam defends (6)
Trigger Sting: Followed by the Enemy
Ithilien Woods revealed as Shadow
Oliphaunt* attacks (5), deals no damage

With one card left in the encounter deck, we know we’ll be facing Southward Road coming at us next quest phase, but that will be all. I think that’s survivable.

Shadow Card dealt to Haradrim Soldier
Defender of Rammas defends (4)
The Dark Lord’s Summons revealed as Shadow
Haradrim Soldier attacks (1), deals no damage

So the attacks weren’t too bad, and Sting has milled through the worst encounter cards we might have had to face next questing phase otherwise. I am a huge fan of that card, and given we’re getting Glamdring and Orcrist as regular player cards I’d love to see Sting come out as well [edit: the announcement for the Sting player count came out in a later draft of this write-up and I have to say I love the look of it]. And Anduril for that matter, but that’s another discussion for another time. But with no attackers ready we’re going to have to call it a day there.

Deck Two plays Brace of Coneys and chooses Deck One to draw 2 cards. Deck One draws: Visionary Leadership, Gondorian Fire.

Excellent, we’ve avoided The Searching Eye for another turn, and gained two excellent attachments. Things may beginning to look up for us.

Exhaust Anborn to return Poisoned Stakes to Deck Two’s hand.

Now we can play this again, which is chiefly good for the card draw but if an enemy needs to stick around for an extra turn or two this will help deal with them so they don’t harass us indefinitely.

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

So we’re two thirds of the way through the enemies of the Crossroads and we’re slowly getting our board state up to scratch. But a bad draw can still ruin us until we’re able to get some healing on the board.

Turn No.5
Stage: 1B (4/20)
Active Location: Hills of Ithilien* (0/4)
Staging Area:
The Cross-roads (0/9, 5 threat, 4/9 Men of Harad)
The Black Gate (0/5 Harad)
Henneth Annun (0/1, 1 threat)

Resource Phase
Deck One Hand (New Card in Bold):
Visionary Leadership, Gondorian Fire, Hunting Party
Sam (1), Faramir (1), Mablung (8), Frodo (2)

This will be fantastic, but we need to get a unique warrior on the table, so basically for now we are waiting for Boromir to show up.

Deck Two Hand:
Poisoned Stakes, Wingfoot
Beregond (2), Damrod (2), Denethor (2)

With Denethor this has the potential to trigger every turn as we can see ahead of time what will be coming off.

Planning Phase
Deck One:
Visionary Leadership-Denethor (Again, as he holds Steward of Gondor, he is the most likely character to keep a resource handy and so boost everyone’s willpower)
Gondorian Fire-Mablung (With Mablung’s resource generation, he’s able to fund this much easier than anyone else from Deck One, who needs the attack boost the most)

Deck Two:
Exhaust Steward of Gondor to give Denethor 2 resources
Poisoned Stakes (Just waiting for the card draw from Damrod now)
Wingfoot-Faramir (We’ll go with Faramir because his ranged ability means his attack is more likely to be needed, as opposed to Mablung’s one-shot strikes with Gondorian Fire)

Quest Phase
We don’t need to use Denethor’s ability this time as we know exactly what will be coming out (hint: the same card we tossed last time)

Trigger Stage 1B: Haradrim Soldier* (2 threat). Trigger Poisoned Stakes, attach to Haradrim Soldier*. Trigger Damrod: Ithilien Tracker

This enemy again? At least he won’t be getting any shadow cards this time I suppose, but still annoying.

Sam-4
Faramir-3
Trigger Wingfoot: location
Frodo-2
Damrod-3
Denethor-2
Ithilien Lookout-2

Total willpower: 16

And now for the Southward Road to make its appearance

1: Southward Road (4 threat) (Because the quest deck is only replaced at the beginning of the quest phase, this means none of the enemies will have shadow cards and we can end the staging step here.) Trigger Wingfoot: ready Faramir

Total threat: 13

Win by 3, place 3 progress on Hills of Ithilien* (3/4)

Well I was hoping we could clear out this location just now but I underquested slightly. Activating Frodo’s ability would do us no good as the 2 willpower we’d be gaining from Frodo would be countered by the 2 we’d be losing from Denethor.

Travel Phase
N/A

Encounter Phase
Again there are going to be a number of responses and triggers, ‘Forced’ goes first and then ‘Response’.

Deck One engages Haradrim Soldier*.

Trigger Hills of Ithilien*, deal 1 damage to Haradrim Soldier*. Trigger Haradrim Soldier*, Haradrim Soldier* attacks Deck One:
-No Shadow Card dealt to Haradrim Soldier*
-Defender of Rammas defends (4)
-Haradrim Soldier attacks (3), deals no damage

And now because the Forced effects are triggered and resolved before any Responses, we should be able to get Faramir to ready the Defender of Rammas once again. I think that’s the correct interpretation, but if I’m wrong then please let me know in the comments below.

Trigger Sam, trigger Mablung, trigger Faramir: Defender of Rammas.

We’re all set for the combat phase now. With the arrival of Visionary Leadership we finally had enough willpower to leave attackers ready for a counterattack. Coupled with the lack of Shadow Cards here, and that only 1 extra enemy has come into play, means that this is the first real chance we have had to properly get the board state under control.

Combat Phase
Again there’s no Archery in play, though the odds of this continuing is decreasing each turn. There’s a 2/3 chance of getting a Haradrim Archer next turn, which won’t be fun. On the other hand, the other enemy we might draw would be the last Oliphaunt, which is hardly something I’m looking forward to either. Really we’re caught between the proverbial Devil and Deep Blue Sea.

[Deck One defense]
No Shadow Card dealt to Oliphaunt
Beregond defends (6)
Oliphaunt attacks (5), deals no damage
Trigger Beregond, reduce Deck One’s threat by 1

The lack of Shadow Cards is a real mental relief. Even if in practice we might be able to deal with most of them, the fact that there’s just one less thing to worry about makes the combat phase much less stressful.

No Shadow Card dealt to Oliphaunt*
Sam defends (6)
Oliphaunt attacks (5), deals no damage
Exhaust Fast Hitch to ready Sam

Of course the flip side of an empty encounter deck is there is nothing for Sting to trigger off of and cause its incidental damage.

No Shadow Card dealt to Haradrim Soldier
Veteran of Osgiliath defends (1)
Haradrim Soldier attacks (1), deals no damage

If Shadow Cards had been dealt we would have made this move, it would just have been too risky.

No Shadow Card dealt to Haradrim Soldier*
Defender of Rammas defends (4)
Haradrim Soldier attacks (3), deals no damage

Now it’s our turn. We’ll pick off the Haradrim Soldiers first, because we know they can both be killed this turn, and then turn our attention to the Oliphaunts whose damage-cap limits just how much we can hurt them this turn.

[Deck One attacks]
Haradrim Soldier:
Mablung attacks (2), Veteran of Osgiliath attacks (2), destroys Haradrim Soldier

That’s one. Remember Entangling Nets reduces this guy’s defense, and now we can reclaim it with Anborn this turn.

Haradrim Soldier*:
Sam attacks (3), deals 2 damage to Haradrim Soldier* (1/4)

Now all we have to do is wait until the end of the round and Poisoned Stakes should finish him off.

Oliphaunt*:
Faramir attacks (4), deals 2 damage to Oliphaunt* (5/9)

And we’re nearly half-way there to our first Oliphaunt death. It’s been a while coming.

Exhaust Anborn to return Entangling Nets to Deck Two’s hand.

Refresh Phase
Raise each player’s threat by 1
Deck One: 33
Deck Two: 35

Our threat is at a decent level for now, but I’d like to see a bit of threat reduction sooner rather than later. Healing is still the priority as our heroes are hanging on by a thread.

Trigger Poisoned Stakes: destroy Haradrim Soldier*.

Auto-damage is always a nice bonus, I just wish this could go on an Oliphaunt as well as the standard Harad enemies.

Turn No.6
Stage: 1B (5/20)
Active Location: Hills of Ithilien* (3/4)
Staging Area:
The Cross-roads (0/9, 6 threat, 3/9 Men of Harad)
The Black Gate (0/5 Harad)
Henneth Annun (0/1, 1 threat)
Southward Road (0/5, 4 threat)

Resource Phase
Deck Two Hand (New Card in Bold):
Ithilien Tracker, Entangling Nets, Ithilien Lookout
Beregond (3), Damrod (3), Denethor (3), Frodo (3)

This is good and handy, but again we really, really need some healing. I put 3 Wardens of Healing in this deck, odds are I’d draw into one sooner rather than later. But apparently not. Still, an extra ally is not to be sniffed at.

Deck One Hand:
Hunting Party, Delay the Enemy
Sam (1), Faramir (1), Mablung (10)

This. This is what we need, and have needed for a while, with this we can discard an enemy engaged with each player. The drawback is we need attack power to complete this quest, but with Gondorian Fire we may be able do this when we need it most.

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

Entangling Nets (Another free trap with Damrod, and some card-draw when this gets triggered, which it should do unless we get the last Oliphaunt from The Crossroads)
Ithilien Tracker (Most of the time this guy will be exhausting to use his ability, but this time we’ll check if an enemy is top with the Ithilien Lookout)
Ithilien Lookout*: Ithilien Woods (So we’ll be questing with the Tracker instead of using his ability this turn, and we can now call ‘Location’ for Wingfoot to guarantee it triggering)

Deck One:
Delay the Enemy (We ‘re not going here just yet, but it’ll be good just to keep it in the staging area just so that’s one less thing to worry about later on)

So not the most bombastic of planning phases, but we were able to get out 2 more allies, which is never a bad thing, and the fact that we have Visionary Leadership out means they can both contribute somewhat to the questing side of things.

Quest Phase
Trigger Stage 1B: Oliphaunt^ (3 threat)

Well that’s not good. Yes the Haradrim Archer would have meant we’d have had to deal with Archery (surprise surprise), but now we have a third enemy that will stick around for ages, dishing out 5 attack each and every turn.

Sam-4
Faramir-3
Trigger Wingfoot: Location
Mablung-3
Frodo-2
Damrod-3
Veteran of Osgiliath-2
Ithilien Tracker-1
Ithilien Lookout-2
Ithilien Lookout-2

Total willpower: 22

A healthy amount of willpower, but with the ever-increasing amount of threat The Crossroads is contributing we are going to need every ounce of it.

1: Ithilien Woods (2 threat) Trigger Wingfoot: ready Faramir. (The 2 threat isn’t terrible in and of itself, but the travel cost may well prove to be the nasty thing here. I try and avoid revealing extra encounter cards if at all possible, especially in quests like this one where we’re revealing extra enemies anyway)
2: Marching Up The Road (We can’t really afford the extra threat in the staging area just now, so we’ll have to search the encounter deck for an enemy each instead) Deck Two searches the encounter deck for Man of Harad* and engages it. Trigger Hills of Ithilien*, deal 1 damage to Man of Harad. (I have no cards in hand here so the engagement effect has no impact). Deck One searches the encounter deck for Man of Harad and engages it. Trigger Hills of Ithilien*, deal 1 damage to Man of Harad*. Trigger Sam, trigger Mablung, trigger Faramir: ready Veteran of Osgiliath. Trigger Man of Harad, discard Hunting Party (And this is why I’m glad we put Delay the Enemy in the staging area, to protect against exactly this kind of skulduggery).

Total threat: 17

Win by 5, explore Hills of Ithilien*, place 4 progress on Stage 1B (9/20).

Slowly but surely we are making progress on the quest itself, chipping away at bit at a time. In as little as two more turns we will be able to travel to The Crossroads and get rid of that massive stack of threat building up. Mind we won’t be able to travel there until we have at least 20 progress tokens on the quest, so we’re a we bit off, but we’re getting there.

Travel Phase
With two Man of Harad enemies in play, Archery is once again in play, so we really do not want to reveal a Haradrim Archer from The Crossroads, as we would if we went to Southward Road. In addition, I think it might be an idea to complete the Delay the Enemy sidequest next turn and try and get rid of these Oliphaunts so we’ll need a location with lower quest points to maximise our chances of completing it.

Reveal the top card of the encounter deck to travel to Ithilien Woods (0/3): Fierce Southrons. (Well I guess the Oliphaunt^ is coming at us an extra time. We should be able to handle this but it will put a dampener on our counter attacking abilities).

Oliphaunt^ attacks Deck Two:
-Shadow Card dealt to Oliphaunt^
-Beregond defends (6)
-Captain of Harad revealed as Shadow
-Oliphaunt^ attacks (5), deals no damage
-Trigger Beregond, reduce Deck Two’s threat by 1

Of course the silver lining of extra attacks against us is Beregond lets us reduce our threat, so it’s not all doom and gloom.

Encounter Phase

Deck Two optionally engages Oliphaunt^. Trigger Ithilien Woods to ready Beregond

I know most of our free attack power is with Deck One, but in order to make the most out of Delay the Enemy, both Decks ought to have an Oliphaunt engaged with them.

Combat Phase
Trigger Archery 2, deal 2 damage to Ithilien Tracker.

I have not missed Archery at all. I reckon if we fail this quest it will be due to Archery as opposed to anything else.

[Deck Two defence]
Shadow Card dealt to Oliphaunt^
Beregond defends (6)
Marching Up the Road revealed as Shadow
Oliphaunt^ attacks (6), deals no damage
Trigger Beregond, reduce Deck Two’s threat by 1

Again our threat goes down, but Beregond isn’t free to defend against any Oliphaunts attacking Deck One meaning we have less forces free for a counter-assault.

Shadow Card dealt to Man of Harad
Denethor defends (3)
Hills of Ithilien revealed as Shadow
Man of Harad attacks (2), deals no damage

That’s about all Deck Two can do now. We’re keeping back Anborn so he can reclaim Poisoned Stakes for us, meaning we can’t really attack back. If only we had someone with ranged…

[Deck One defense]
Shadow Card dealt to Oliphaunt
Sam defends (6)
Exhaust Staff of Lethberon to discard Shadow from Oliphaunt
Trigger Sting: Haradrim Soldier (2 threat), deal 2 damage to Oliphaunt (6/9) (See if I had a Spear of the Citadel out, these Oliphaunts would be toast! But did I remeber to put any in my deck? Would I draw any even if I did?)
No Shadow revealed
Oliphaunt attacks (5), deals no damage
Exhaust Fast Hitch to ready Sam.

I can’t wait until we get rid of these guys, they’ve been a thorn in my side since Turn One! Hopefully Sting can do more damage to the second Oliphaunt as well.

Shadow Card dealt to Oliphaunt*
Sam defends (6)
Trigger Sting: Panicked (But of course it doesn’t.)
Man of Harad revealed as Shadow (No cards left in hand so this effectively whiffs)
Oliphaunt* attacks (5), deals no damage

While I’m disappointed Sting didn’t do any damage this time, I can’t really complain. That sword has more than paid for itself already, both with its ability and the stat boosts it offers.

Shadow Card dealt to Man of Harad*
Defender of Rammas defends (4)
Followed by Night revealed as Shadow
Man of Harad* attacks (2), deals no damage

Now it’s our turn.

[Deck One attacks]

Man of Harad: (The one engaged with Deck Two)
Faramir attacks (4), destroys Man of Harad

That’s all I can do I’m afraid, the rest shall have to wait. Except for Anborn of course.

Exhaust Anborn to return Poisoned Stakes to Deck Two’s hand.

There we are, that’s better.

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

Turn No.7
Stage: 1B (9/20)
Active Location: Ithilien Woods (0/3)
Staging Area:
The Cross-roads (0/9, 7 threat, 2/9 Men of Harad)
The Black Gate (0/5 Harad)
Henneth Annun (0/1, 1 threat)
Southward Road (0/5, 4 threat)

Resource Phase
Deck One Hand (New Card in Bold):
Boromir
Sam (2), Faramir (2), Mablung (10), Frodo (4)

The Steward’s heir returns to us! This time we shall be playing immediately, not least because we can afford it, but also before any cards can be discarded from our hand.

Deck Two Hand:
Poisoned Stakes, Ranger Spear
Beregond (3), Damrod (3), Denethor (3)

Not bad, any extra attack will always come in handy. I think Faramir should get this, again because of his Ranged versatility, but also because if Mablung wants to charge up his attack, we have Gondorian Fire on him for a reason. Damrod tends to be questing and Sam is waiting for a Dagger of Westernesse for his last restricted slot.

Planning Phase
Deck One:
Boromir (Need I say more? With Visionary Leadership he is questing for 2, and can be readied by Archery at the beginning of the combat phase so he can either defend (hopefully for 3) or strike down Gondor’s foes.)

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

Poisoned Stakes (This means the next Haradrim Archer to appear with get both Entangling Nets and Poisoned Stakes, giving us two cards to draw in the process.)
Ranger Spear-Faramir (Now if we’re attacking an enemy with a trap, it could be for as much as 7, which would be more than enough to finish most opponents.)

Quest Phase
Trigger Stage 1B: Haradrim Archer (2). Trigger Entangling Net, trigger Poisoned Spikes: attach both to Haradrim Archer. Trigger Damrod: Fast Hitch, Warden of Healing (Well Eru be praised! At long last we have a healer! We’re going to have to wait until next turn before we can do anything with him, but he’s coming!)

Delay the Enemy is the active quest (Remember this is a battle quest).

We need every point of attack committed to this, so we cannot afford to use Denethor’s ability. We can however do this.

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

Faramir-4
Trigger Wingfoot: Treachery
Mablung-2
Sam-2
Frodo-1
Damrod-2
Denethor-1
Defender of Rammas-1
Veteran of Osgiliath-2
Boromir-3
Anborn-3
Ithilien Lookout-2
Ithilien Lookout-2

Total attack: 25

So far there’s 15 threat in the staging area, and I need to win by 11 to explore Ithilien Woods and complete the sidequest. Fortunately I have one or two tricks up my sleeve but I need to wait and see which I’ll need. We’ve kept back Beregond as insurance against another Fierce Southrons, we don’t want to lose a hero at this stage of the game.

1: Arrows Thick in the Air (Well if my plan works we should be safe from this. If I can’t quest successfully, or by not enough so that I can’t complete Delay the Enemy, then we’ll be dead anyway.) Trigger Wingfoot: ready Faramir.
2: Foothills of Ephel Duath (3 threat) (That’s not good. Looks like it’s plan B.)

Total threat: 18

So we’d still successfully quest, but fall short of completing the side quest by 4. Mablung: Dracarys!

Spend 1 resource from Mablung to trigger Gondorian Fire and give him 5 extra attack.

Total attack: 30

Win by 12. Explore Ithilien Wood and complete Delay the Enemy, adding it to the victory display. Trigger Delay the Enemy: Deck One discards Oliphaunt; Deck Two discards Oliphaunt^.

And that is how to cook Mumakil. I wonder what it tastes like?

Travel Phase
Travel to Henneth Annun (0/1). Trigger Henneth Annun: return Oliphaunt* and Man of Harad* to the staging area.

This is both a blessing and a curse. We have been forced here to avoid the vast amount of Archery (8) that we would not be able to absorb without losing someone. Now though we have a turn of respite where we can heal and avoid those arrows, but next turn we shall have to deal with a host of enemies in the staging area waiting for us. See this is where Hunting Party would have been fantastic. But alas.

Encounter Phase
N/A

Combat Phase
N/A

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

Trigger Poisoned Stakes, deal 2 damage to Haradrim Archer.

I’d forgotten about these! Good ole Poisoned Stakes, doing my work for me!

Turn No.8
Stage: 1B (9/20)
Active Location: Henneth Annun (0/1)
Staging Area:
The Cross-roads (0/9, 8 threat, 1/9 Men of Harad)
The Black Gate (0/5 Harad)
Southward Road (0/5, 4 threat)
Foothills of Ephel Duath (0/6, 3 threat)
Oliphaunt* (3 threat)
Haradrim Archer (2 threat)
Man of Harad* (1 threat)

Resource Phase
Deck Two Hand (New Card in Bold):
Fast Hitch, Warden of Healing, Ranger Bow
Beregond (4), Damrod (3), Denethor (5)

Not bad, a little extra damage into the staging area is always good.

Deck One Hand:
Secret Vigil
Sam (3), Faramir (3), Mablung (6)

It’s about time! I put three in my deck for a reason. The only available target just now is Man of Harad, I guess he’ll have to do.

Planning Phase
Deck Two:
Exhaust Steward of Gondor to give Denethor 2 extra resources

Fast Hitch-Sam (Sorry Frodo, Sam’s getting all the love this time)
Ranger Bow-Ithilien Lookout (With that much threat in the staging area, this close to the end of the game, the Ithilien Tracker’s ability will be more important than ever so we need to keep his actions dedicated to that. This may be useful as a bonus if our willpower or attack isn’t needed, we’ll see.)
Warden of Healing (Here we go, give them some medicine boys!) Exhaust Warden of Healing to heal 1 damage from Sam and 1 damage from Faramir. (I’m not going to type out exactly how many times this is done, but I’m spending 8 lore resources to heal 6 more damage from my heroes and leave the Warden ready for questing, completely healing Sam and Denethor and taking all the other heroes up to 2. It may not seem like much, but consider everyone except Frodo was down to their last hitpoint. I am happy with this start. Oh, Denethor still has 2 resources so we still qualify for Visionary Leadership)

Deck One:
Secret Vigil-Man of Harad* (This can’t go on Oliphaunt*, and Haradrim Archer’s printed threat is X, which would translate to 0 in this case.)

Exhaust Denethor to look at the top card of the encounter deck: Haradrim Soldier. (We’re going to leave this here. With the Ithilien Tracker his threat won’t count for anything, and now we know what to call for Faramir’s WIngfoot.)

Quest Phase
We’re hiding in Henneth Annun, so nothing comes forth from The Crossroads.

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

Faramir-3
Trigger Wingfoot: Enemy
Mablung-2
Sam-4
Frodo-2
Damrod-3
Veteran of Osgiliath-2
Boromir-2
Anborn-2
Ithilien Lookout-2
Ithilien Lookout-2
Warden of Healing-2

Total willpower: 26

Still decent, but we need it higher in the future.

1: Haradrim Soldier (0 threat) (Thank goodness for Ithilien Tracker or this would have made things even harder)
2: The Dark Lord’s Summons (Not good, not good, not good. We’ll take the extra enemy, we don’t want any Harad going to The Black Gate, no thank you!) Reveal Haradrim Archer* from under The Crossroads, and put it into play engaged with Deck One. Trigger Haradrim Archer* deal 1 damage to Mablung and Faramir. (This takes their health back down to where we started and we’ve still got the Archery to go.) Trigger Sam, trigger Mablung, trigger Faramir: ready Veteran of Osgiliath.

Total threat: 21

Because the Haradrim Archer* engaged us, Sam’s willpower has been boosted.

Total willpower: 27

Win by 6, explore Henneth Annun and add it to the victory display. Place 5 progress on Stage 1B (14/20)

All the enemies are removed from The Crossroads, we could be as little as two turns away from completing this game. Here’s hoping we can keep it together that long.

Travel Phase
Now we can’t pay the travel cost of Southward Road, meaning it is stuck up there indefinitely with its 4 threat. I guess we’re going to have to travel to Foothills instead.

Deck One engages Oliphaunt* to travel to Foothills of Ephel Duath (0/6). Trigger Oliphaunt, exhaust Defender of Rammas and Veteran of Osgiliath. Trigger Sam, trigger Mablung, trigger Faramir: ready Defender of Rammas.

Encounter Phase
Deck One optionally engages Man of Harad. Trigger Sam, trigger Mablung, trigger Faramir: ready Veteran of Osgiliath.

We’re going to leave the original Haradrim Archer up in the staging area. During the Refresh Phase we’ll get the Ithilien Lookout with the Ranger Bow to ping them for 1 damage so that the Poisoned Stakes can finish them off.

Combat Phase
Trigger Archery 4: deal 2 damage to Boromir, 1 damage to Ithilien Lookout* and Veteran of Osgiliath. Trigger Boromir.

Isn’t it funny how Boromir performs best when there are arrows involved? No? Too soon?

[Deck One defense]
Shadow Card dealt to Oliphaunt*
Beregond defends (6)
Hills of Ithilien revealed as Shadow: Deck One discards Ranger Spear. (Annoying, but by no means was this the worst we could have gotten)
Oliphaunt attacks (5), deals no damage.
Trigger Beregond: reduce Deck One’s threat by 1

And let’s take Deck One’s threat back down a touch.

Shadow Card dealt to Haradrim Archer*
Sam defends (8)
Trigger Sting: Arrows Thick in the Air (Shame Sting doesn’t do any damage, but avoiding this treachery is worth its weight in gold right now.)
Exhaust Staff of Lethberon to discard Shadow
Haradrim Archer* attacks (2), deals no damage
Exhaust Fast Hitch to ready Sam

Shadow Card dealt to Man of Harad*
Sam defends (8)
Trigger Sting: Man of Harad. Deal 1 damage to Man of Harad*. (Explain this one thematically, I’m genuinely curious.)
Haradrim Soldier revealed as Shadow (Well he’s wanting round two!)
Man of Harad* attacks (2), deals no damage
Exhaust Fast Hitch to ready Sam

Shadow Card dealt to Man of Harad*
Defender of Rammas defends (4)
Fierce Southrons revealed as Shadow
Man of Harad attacks (2), deals no damage

Is it payback time yet? Let’s do it in reverse order.

[Deck One attacks]

Man of Harad*:
Boromir attacks (3), destroys Man of Harad*
Trigger Secret Vigil, reduce each player’s threat by 1

The first piece of threat reduction other than Beregond. That hero’s done some work!

Haradrim Archer*:
Sam attacks (5), Veteran of Osgiliath attacks (2), destroys Haradrim Archer*

And now the Archery is halved.

Oliphaunt*:
Faramir attacks (4), deals 2 damage to Oliphaunt (3/9)

The end is in sight. If the Valar are merciful, next turn will be the end of this foul beastie.

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

Before I forget…

Exhaust Ithilien Lookout and Ranger Bow to deal 1 damage to Haradrim Archer
Trigger Poisoned Stakes, destroy Haradrim Archer.
Exhaust Anborn to return Entangling Nets to Deck Two’s hand.

And we’ve just spotted that Haradrim Soldier sitting pretty up there in the staging area gloating at us. I suppose its too late to do anything about him now. Well done if you’ve stuck with us this far. I think we’re on the home stretch, but I’d better not jinx anything.

Turn No.9
Stage: 1B (14/20)
Active Location: Foothills of Ephel Duath (0/6)
Staging Area:
The Cross-roads (0/9, 9 threat)
The Black Gate (0/5 Harad)
Southward Road (0/5, 4 threat)
Haradrim Soldier (2 threat)

Resource Phase
Deck One Hand (New Card in Bold):
Foe-hammer
Sam (4), Faramir (4), Mablung (8), Frodo (6)

And where in Middle-earth have you been? We’ve been waiting all game for you, and now you decide to grace us with your presence? Is it just me or does this happen a fair bit to cards your crying out for?

Deck Two Hand:
Entangling Nets, Interrogation
Beregond (1), Mablung (1), Denethor (3)

Normally pretty good, but we’ve no enemies with a trap on them so this is essentially a dead card until the situation changes.

Planning Phase
Deck One:

Nothing to see here folks.

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

Entangling Nets (You know the drill. This card is good with Damrod.)

Pay 2 Lore resources to ready Warden of Healing. Exhaust Warden of Healing to heal 1 damage from Faramir and Mablung. Pay 2 Lore resources to ready Warden of Healing.

We’re getting there. We need a lot of gauze, but we’re patching them back together.

Exhaust Denethor to look at the top card of the encounter deck: Captain of Harad. (You know, I realise his ability is not nice at all, but I think it is still worth dealing with that and getting the benefits from I. Tracker and Wingfoot than randomising what we get instead. This guy doesn’t even has surge!)

Trigger The Black Gate: place Haradrim Soldier facedown underneath The Black Gate.

That’s one slipped through the net. Not too bad I think, but we need to be careful no more escape us.

Quest Phase
We’ll never need to worry about enemies coming from The Crossroads again. Now we can expect Oliphaunts in the regular encounter deck instead!

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

Faramir-3
Trigger Wingfoot: Enemy
Mablung-2
Sam-4
Frodo-2
Damrod-3
Defender of Rammas-1
Veteran of Osgiliath-2
Boromir-2
Ithilien Lookout*-2
Anborn-2
Warden of Healing-2

Total willpower: 25

I know, I know, I’m questing with the Defender. But once I engage the upcoming Captain of Harad, I can ready him again with Faramir

1: Captain of Harad (0 threat) (As we said, expected though still unwelcome. We’ll try and kill him off in one round if we can.) Trigger Wingfoot, ready Faramir. Trigger Entangling Nets, attach Entangling Nets to Captain of Harad. Trigger Damrod: Emyn Arnen Ranger (…well I guess we’re not killing the Captain.)
2: Hills of Ithilien (2 threat) (So now we can explore the location, but not by much. This is taking too long.)

Spend 1 Fellowship resource and exhaust The One Ring to give Frodo 2 extra willpower and attack until the end of the round. Trigger Lust for the Ring, reduce Denethor’s willpower to 0 and raise each players’ threat by 1.

I know it’s only an extra 2 progress, but we need to keep things moving here.

Total threat: 15

Total willpower: 27

Win by 12, explore Foothills of Ephel Duath and place 6 progress on Stage 1B (20/20)

That’s it, we’re through. Just The Crossroads and we’re in the clear!

Travel Phase
Travel to The Crossroads (0/9).

Now we’ve taken out 9 threat from the staging area, questing should go easier next round.

Encounter Phase
Deck One optionally engages Captain of Harad. Trigger Captain of Harad: each Harad enemy gets 1 extra attack and -10 engagement cost until the end of the round. (Not good for Sam, who does not trigger. Looks like it’s up to Faramir, Captain of Gondor to show his quality.) Trigger Mablung, trigger Faramir: ready Defender of Rammas.

Exhaust Fast Hitch to ready Sam.

Combat Phase
[Deck One defends]
Shadow Card dealt to Oliphaunt
Beregond defends (6)
The Dark Lord’s Summons revealed as Shadow
Oliphaunt attacks (6), deals no damage.
Trigger Beregond, reduce Deck One’s threat by 1

That’s one, now for the other.

Shadow Card dealt to Captain of Harad
Sam defends (3)
Trigger Sting: Harad Soldier (2 threat) Deal 2 damage to Captain of Harad
Ithilien Woods revealed as Shadow
Captain of Harad attacks (3), deals no damage
Exhaust Fast Hitch to ready Sam

Even without his Hobbit Cloak or his innate ability, Sam is still buffed up to awesome levels.

[Deck One attacks]
Oliphaunt*
Faramir attacks (3), Sam attacks (2), destroys Oliphaunt*.
Deck One exhausts Dagger of Westernesse to play Foe-hammer: Friend of Friends, Veteran of Osgiliath, Keep Watch.

For the Shire! For Gondor! And with reinforcements as well. Now let’s blow this baby and go home!

Refresh Phase
Raise each player’s threat by 1
Deck One: 34
Deck Two: 36

Turn No.10
Stage: 1B (20/20)
Active Location: The Crossroads (0/9)
Staging Area:
The Black Gate (1/5 Harad)
Southward Road (0/5, 4 threat)

Resource Phase
Deck Two Hand (New Card in Bold):
Emyn Arnen Ranger, Unexpected Courage
Beregond (1), Damrod (1), Denethor (3), Frodo (6)

Well, I don’t know what to say.

Deck One Hand:
Friend of Friends, Veteran of Osgiliath, Keep Watch, Dagger of Westernesse
Sam (5), Faramir (5), Mablung (10)

We need to work on our card draw earlier in the game. We’re sitting here on far too many resources and far too few cards to play them.

Planning Phase
Deck Two:
Exhaust Steward of Gondor to give Denethor 2 extra resources

Arnen Ranger (For the final push, he’ll be questing for 5)

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

That brings Faramir up to full health and the others there up to 3/4 health.

Deck One:
Dagger of Westernesse-Sam (More insurance than anything else really)
Friend of Friends-Frodo (As is this)
Veteran of Osgiliath* (But this is for the final push. Together now!)

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: Captain of Harad.

Faramir-3
Wingfoot: Location
Mablung-3
Sam-4
Frodo-2
Beregond-1
Damrod-2
Denethor-1
Defender of Rammas-1
Veteran of Osgiliath-2
Boromir-2
Veteran of Osgiliath*-2
Anborn-2
Ithilien Lookout-2
Ithilien Lookout*-2

Total willpower: 33

That’s the best we can do. I just hope it’s enough.

1: Man of Harad (0 threat) (Well so far he contributes nothing except for…) Trigger Surge.
1.1: Southward Road* (4 threat) (That’s a bit meatier. But I’m not sure it’ll be enough here.) Trigger Wingfoot: ready Faramir
2: Haradrim Archer (2 threat) (And that’s the game folks!)

Total threat: 10

Win by 23, explore The Crossroads and add it to the victory display, place 14 progress on Stage 1B (34/20).

Victory

Victory Display: Keep Watch (1), Leaf-wrapped Lembas (3), A Brace of Coneys (2), Delay the Enemy (1), Henneth Annun (1), The Crossroads (9)

Score: 33 threat + 35 threat + 100 for turns taken, 1 for damage on Mablung, 1 for damage on Beregond, 1 for damage on Damrod, – 17 victory points=159

Well that was heavy going. It wasn’t really until Turn 8 I felt as though I had any control over the game, the wrong treachery at the wrong time could have finished us at any point from Turn Two’s ridiculous Arrows Thick in the Air. I’d definitely say this was the hardest quest I’ve done in this campaign yet. Helm’s Deep was tough, but I felt in control at least some of the time. Here it was as though only my fingertips were holding us on the cliff edge. That said, the mental image of Mablung lighting the Ithilien Woods on fire to ‘delay the enemy’ as Boromir leads the group to Henneth Annun to rest and get healed is an awesome one, especially as it seems two Oliphaunts got caught in the flames. And hey, only one enemy made it to The Black Gate!

Both these decks suffered from a distinct lack of card draw, especially Deck One. We weren’t able to draw into Foe-hammer until Turn Nine, when it no longer mattered. This was less of an issue for Deck Two because the cycling Traps ensured a constant trickle of extra cards, and when the Warden of Healing appeared we were able to funnel resources into his ability. With Deck One however, we were seeing rocketing resources and nothing to spend them on except the occasional Gondorian Fire useage. We’ll be certain to address this as we go forward next time to Shelob’s Lair, especially as that quest will specifically tax our card economy. What did you think of this scenario? Other than the tried and true Rivendell Blade/Straight Shot combo is there any effective way you have of dealing with Oliphaunts? What cards ought I bring to Shelob’s Lair? Let me know what you think, I hope you’re still enjoying this as much as I am.

Add Brace of Coneys to the Campaign Pool
Add Brace of Coneys to the Campaign Pool
Remove Leaf-wrapped Lembas from the Campaign Pool
Note that Haradrim Soldier is under The Black Gate

Blood of Numenor

 

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