Shelob’s Lair: 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.
Set Cleft of Cirith Ungol, Shelob, and The Great Spider encounter set aside. Make the Morgul Vale the active location and add Smeagol’s Secret Way to the staging area.

Player Deck Set-up:
Attach The One RingOld Bogey-stories, Phial of Galadriel and A Heavy Burden to Frodo Baggins.
Attach Tireless Ranger to  Sam Gamgee.
Shuffle The Searching Eye and Brace of Coneys into Deck One.
Shuffle  Mithril ShirtStingThe Searching Eye and Brace of Coneys into Deck Two.

Deck One draws opening hand.
Deck Two draws opening hand.

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

Starting Hand:
Hobbit Cloak
Ring Mail
Sword of Numenor
Errand Rider
Captain of Gondor

These are all good cards that I’m definitely wanting later on in the game, but right now I am really looking for bigger cards that will help get it on its feet. I’m going to have to mulligan, looking for an Armoured Destrier, a Steward of Gondor, a Dagger or a Anborn or even a Gather Information to seek out cards we might be missing.

Mulligan:
Foe-hammer
Armoured Destrier
Gather Information
Secret Vigil
Boromir

Not ideal, actually a but worse I think. Foe-hammer is useless until we get a weapon and Boromir is far too expensive to play just now. Secret Vigil may be handy, but until we get out an enemy it is a dead card. Even Gather Information is useless until we can clear it, something not guaranteed with the cards with the cards we’ve been drawing. Armoured Destrier is the only thing preventing this hand from being a disaster, and Beregond will do some serious work with it.

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

Starting Hand:
Emyn Arnen Ranger
Entangling Nets
Ranger Bow
Sword-thain
Expert Trackers

This is better, much better in fact. While the highest boost the Emyn Arnen Ranger can get would be 2 that is still respectable, and if we get Visionary Leadership up and running he’ll be shooting for 3. As we saw last game, Entangling Nets can be a life-saver, and it’ll fuel Damrod’s card draw. Expert Trackers will be useful once we get another location in the staging area, something that won’t take long.

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

This extra 2 threat hurts more than you might think it would. Gimli was unavoidable, we needed to sacrifice a hero to slay the Balrog, but maybe I could have done more to save Theoden? I don’t know, let me know what you think?

Turn No.1
Stage: 1B (-/-)
Active Location: Morgul Vale (0/2)
Staging Area:
Smeagol’s Secret Way (0/2, 2 threat)

Resource Phase
Deck One Hand (New Card in Bold):
Foe-hammer, Armoured Destrier, Gather Information, Secret Vigil, Boromir, Staff of Lebethron
Sam (1), Faramir (1), Mablung (1), Frodo (1)

With this we can start getting Sam prepared for the show-down with Shelob. With 50 engagement cost she would always trigger the Staff.

Deck Two Hand:
Emyn Arnen Ranger, Entangling Nets, Ranger Bow, Sword-thain, Expert Trackers, The Searching Eye
Beregond (1), Damrod (1), Denethor (1)

After dodging this all game last time I suppose it’s only fair we get hit by it this time. But in the opening round? I’d prefer to keep my heroes ready, having Beregond around right now will probably be essential for keeping our guys alive in these opening turns. So instead we’ll reveal the top card to the encounter deck.

Trigger The Searching Eye: Morgul Wraith (4 threat)

As thematic as that reveal is, that treachery giving us a Ringwraith while in the Morgul Vale, it hurts so much.

Planning Phase
Deck One:
Gather Information (We almost certainly won’t be able to complete this right now, but any progress over the completion of Morgul Vale will be wasted so we may as well put that one or two on this side quest)
Armoured Destrier-Beregond (With a second chance to defend, with a discarded shadow card no less, Beregond should now be able to take on most enemies in this game. Except for the one engaged with us that is)

Deck Two:
Entangling Nets (It’s free with Damrod there is literally no reason why we should not get this into the staging area)
Emyn Arnen Ranger (There won’t be anyone with a trap attached to them at the beginning of the quest phase, so he’ll be useless this time, but if we need an extra attack later on we can call on him)

Not the most productive of first turns, but there’s only so much we can do with the cards we have been dealt.

Trigger A Heavy Burden: exhaust Frodo.

We’ll save our threat for later when action advantage will be more valuable. For now we can deal with missing out on Frodo’s actions.

Quest Phase
Gather Information is the active quest

Sam-3
Faramir-2
Mablung-2
Smeagol-2
Damrod-2
Denethor-1

Total willpower: 12

1: Orc of Cirith Ungol (2 threat). Trigger Entangling Nets, attach to Orc of Cirith Ungol (The Orc’s now down to 2 attack, meaning most of our characters are able to defend against him if needed) Trigger Damrod: Fast Hitch (Now we can draw as many cards as we can without fear of drawing The Searching Eye. Fast Hitch will probably go on Frodo, completely negating A Heavy Burden. Once we complete Gather Information we’ll be able to find a second copy for Sam. As for the Orc itself, I’d sooner take the attack than discard the cards.) Trigger Orc of Cirith Ungol: Orc of Cirith Ungol makes an immediate attack against Deck One.
-Shadow Card dealt to Orc of Cirith Ungol
-Beregond defends (4)
-Panicked revealed as Shadow (We’ve no ready characters so this has no effect)
-Orc of Cirith Ungol attacks (2), deals no damage
-Trigger Beregond, reduce Deck One’s threat by 1
-Exhaust Armoured Destrier to ready Beregond
(And after all that we’ve still got another encounter card to go)
2: Morgul Orc (1 threat) (Not too bad at all. We’ll need to discard a card, because there is no way we’re revealing a third encounter card, Trigger Morgul Orc: discard Ranger Bow. (And there goes our direct damage. Hopefully we’ll find some more to help deal with Shelob’s health later on)

Total threat: 9

Win by 3, explore Morgul Vale, add it to the victory display. Place 1 progress on Gather Information. Trigger The Morgul Vale, search the encounter deck for Morgul Wraith* and add it to the staging area. Each player discards 1 card. Deck One: Foe-hammer. Deck Two: Expert Trackers. (That stung, especially losing Foe-hammer which could have let us draw back these cards we are discarding, but it’s better than exhausting The One Ring and having both Ringwraiths coming down at us.)

Travel Phase
We used Smeagol in the questing phase, and our hands are getting perilously empty. We’ll leave travelling to Smeagol’s Secret Way for now.

Encounter Phase
Deck One optionally engages Morgul Orc. Trigger Sam, trigger Mablung, trigger Faramir: Smeagol.

We’re going for the Morgul Orc because the Orc of Cirith Ungol has a trap attached to it so we can trigger Emyn Arnen Ranger off him.

Combat Phase
Shadow Card dealt to Morgul Orc
Beregond defends (4)
We Hates Them! revealed as Shadow
Morgul Orc attacks (4), deals no damage
Sam attacks (2), Smeagol attacks (2), deals 2 damage to Morgul Orc (1/3)

Ah, that’s annoying. But there’s nothing else we could have done, I suppose we’ll have to finish him off next turn.

Refresh Phase
Raise each player’s threat by 1
Deck One: 31
Deck Two: 30

Turn No.2
Stage: 1B (-/-)
Active Location: N/A
Staging Area:
Smeagol’s Secret Way (0/2, 2 threat)
Morgul Wraith (4 threat)
Morgul Wraith* (4 threat)
Orc of Cirith Ungol (2 threat)

Resource Phase
Deck Two Hand (New Card in Bold):
Sword-thain, Expert Trackers, The Searching Eye, Fast Hitch, Emyn Arnen Ranger*
Beregond (2), Damrod (1), Denethor (1), Frodo (2)

I suppose this’ll have to wait a turn, the action advantage from Fast Hitch will serve us far better than the Ranger at this point.

Deck One Hand:
Secret Vigil, Boromir, Staff of Lebethron, Sword of Numenor
Sam (1), Faramir (1), Mablung (3)

A cheap stat-boost for Faramir, and after the first Orc of Cirith Ungol is killed, every enemy that isn’t the Morgul Orc will turn us a profit.

Planning Phase
Deck Two:
Fast Hitch-Frodo (Now at the end of every planning phase, we’ll chose to exhaust Frodo instead of raising our threat, and then Fast Hitch’ll ready him right back up again)

Deck One:
Secret Vigil-Orc of Cirith Ungol (He’s down to 1 threat now, but will still allow the Emyn Arnen Ranger to quest for 2)
Staff of Lebethron-Sam (Let’s start getting him tooled up)

We’re going to save Sword of Numenor in case we have a random discard to deal with, then we have a 50% chance of Boromir surviving it, who we should be able to afford to pay for next turn.

Trigger A Heavy Burden: exhaust Frodo. Exhaust Fast Hitch to ready Frodo.

And lather, rinse, repeat now for the rest of the scenario I think. We won’t use Denethor’s ability and roll the dice, relying on every ounce of willpower we can get to finish the side-quest.

Quest Phase
Gather Information is the active quest. Trigger Emyn Arnen Ranger: Orc of Cirith Ungol. Give Emyn Arnen Ranger 2 extra willpower.

Sam-3
Faramir-2
Mablung-2
Frodo-2
Smeagol-2
Damrod-2
Denethor-1
Emyn Arnen Ranger-2

Total willpower: 16

Let’s hope that’s enough.

1: Den of Night (1 threat) (Not a bad amount of threat at all, but we won’t be able to travel here until we have Shelob in the staging area in order to put those resources on her)
2: Exhalation of Decay (This scenario really doubles down on attacking your cardpool, soon we may be facing top-decking if we are not careful or lucky). Discard randomly from hand; Deck Two: The Searching Eye. Deck One: Sword of Numenor. Discard attachments; Deck Two: Old Bogey Stories. Deck One: Staff of Lebethron (Ouch. To be honest that could have been a lot worse, and at least we still have Boromir in hand)

Total threat: 12

Win by 4, complete Gather Information, add it to the victory display. Trigger Gather Information. Deck Two: Unexpected Courage. Deck One: Boromir*.

The first is pretty self-explanatory, more actions is better. But Deck One has chosen a second Boromir because we’re going to discard a card from each player’s hand to travel to Smeagol’s Secret Way, and I’d quite like to get Boromir out next turn.

Travel Phase
Each player randomly discards 1 card from their hand to travel to Smeagol’s Secret Way. Deck Two: Emyn Arnen Ranger*. (And there we see going is our questing power.) Deck One: Boromir*. (Leaving us with Boromir to play next turn)

Encounter Phase
Deck One optionally engages Orc of Cirith Ungol. Trigger Sam, trigger Mablung.

We’ve just the Nazgul left in the staging area now, we’ll need to deal with them before too long.

Combat Phase
Shadow Card dealt to Orc of Cirith Ungol
Beregond defends (4)
Many Openings revealed as Shadow (This had the potential to be nasty)
Orc of Cirith Ungol attacks (4), deals no damage
Trigger Beregond, lower Deck One’s threat by 1
Exhaust Armoured Destrier to ready Beregond and discard the Shadow Card from Morgul Orc
Sam attacks (2), deals 2 damage

I haven’t used the Destrier properly since Helm’s Deep and I’d forgotten just how brilliant a card it is.

Shadow Card dealt to Morgul Orc
Shadow discarded by Armoured Destrier
Beregond defends (4)
Morgul Orc attacks (3), deals no damage

And we’ve no-one left to attack back with, but he’s on his last point of health so hopefully we should be able to finish him off next turn.

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

Our threat’s under control for now, keeping it below the engagement costs of the enemies of this scenario.

Turn No.3
Stage: 1B (-/-)
Active Location: Smeagol’s Secret Way (0/2)
Staging Area:
Morgul Wraith (4 threat)
Morgul Wraith* (4 threat)
Den of Night (1 threat)

Resource Phase
Deck One Hand (New Card in Bold):
Boromir, Hobbit Cloak
Sam (1), Faramir (2), Mablung (4), Frodo (3)

We’ll try again with getting Sam ready for Shelob with this

Deck Two Hand:
Sword-thain, Expert Trackers, Unexpected Courage, Mithrandir’s Advice
Beregond (3), Damrod (2), Denethor (1)

An excellent source of card-draw, though I fear we won’t be able to afford it this turn for reasons that may become apparent.

Planning Phase
Deck One:
Boromir (With a reliable 3 attack we can soon get rid of these Orcs and Nazgul plaguing us)
Hobbit Cloak-Sam (As long as we can keep control of our threat, Sam will be able to defend as well as Beregond)

Deck Two:
Sword-thain-Boromir (Now we have the whole family as heroes. It’ll take 5 turns before we get a profit of resources from using Sword-thain, which will be guaranteed because of Stage 2’s progress limit. This also means Boromir will be eligible for several upgrades that can only go on heroes, such as Gondorian Shield)
Unexpected Courage-Faramir (With am even spread of stats and Ranged, he is the best target to make the most out of him)

Trigger A Heavy Burden: exhaust Frodo. Exhaust Fast Hitch to ready Frodo.

Exhaust Denethor to look at the top card of the encounter deck: Morgul Orc*. (Given that this guy will only contribute 1 threat and we should be able to defend against him easily enough we’ll leave this Orc be on top of the encounter deck)

Quest Phase
Trigger Emyn Arnen Ranger: Orc of Cirith Ungol. Give Emyn Arnen Ranger 2 extra willpower.

Sam-3
Faramir-2
Damrod-2
Frodo-2
Smeagol-2
Emyn Arnen Ranger-2

Total willpower: 13

Exhaust Unexpected Courage to ready Faramir

This should hopefully keep us from questing through Smeagol’s Secret Way, especially as we know the first card only has the 1 threat.

1: Morgul Orc (1 threat) (Not only does he have just 1 threat, we should be able to trigger Sam off of him when we engage him)
2: Deep Dark Passage (2 threat) (This’ll choke up the progress we can place on locations in the staging area until we can get rid of it. But for now we have to get onto Stage 2)

Total threat: 12

Win by 1, place 1 progress on Smeagol’s Secret Way.

This gives us 1 more turn to prepare ourselves for facing Shelob. I think we’re going to have to deal with the two Nazgul at some point, preferably sooner rather than later.

Travel Phase
N/A

Encounter Phase
Deck One optionally engages Morgul Orc*. Trigger Sam, trigger Mablung, trigger Faramir: ready Smeagol.

If we can keep up this rate of engaging a new enemy every turn we can make the most of these responses.

Combat Phase
[Deck One defense]
Shadow Card dealt to Morgul Orc
Beregond defends (4)
Den of Night revealed as Shadow
Morgul Orc attacks (3), deals no damage
Trigger Beregond, reduce Deck One’s threat by 1
Exhaust Armoured Destrier to ready Beregond and discard the Shadow Card from Morgul Orc*

If only Beregond’s response wasn’t limited to only once per round, we could have massive threat reductions going on here

Shadow Card dealt to Morgul Orc*
Shadow discarded by Armoured Destrier
Beregond defends (4)
Morgul Orc* attacks (3), deals no damage

Beregond is handling these lesser enemies brilliantly, but we need to find a Gondorian Shield for him before he can take on the stronger enemies like the Nazgul

Shadow Card dealt to Orc of Cirith Ungol
Sam defends (5)
The Under-way revealed as Shadow
2 additional Shadow Cards dealt to Orc of Cirith Ungol (A little worried for Sam now…)
The Spider’s Lair and Pursued by the Enemy revealed as Shadows (Ok, not devastating, but an additional attack is never nice)
Orc of Cirith Ungol attacks (2), deals no damage

With 2 attack he should be easy enough to defend against, it’s just the taxing of our action advantage that hurts

Shadow Card dealt to Orc of Cirith Ungol
Smeagol defends (2)
Deep Dark Passage revealed as Shadow
Orc of Cirith Ungol attacks (2), deals no damage

And now it’s our turn.

[Deck One attacks]
Morgul Orc*:
Boromir attacks (3), Mablung attacks (2), destroys Morgul Orc*

That’s one down.

Orc of Cirith Ungol:
Faramir attacks (2), deals 2 damage to Orc of Cirith Ungol (4/5)

We weren’t able to finish him off just yet, but he’s close enough that the slightest thing will finish him off.

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

Turn No.4
Stage: 1B (-/-)
Active Location: Smeagol’s Secret Way (1/2)
Staging Area:
Morgul Wraith (4 threat)
Morgul Wraith* (4 threat)
Den of Night (0/4, 1 threat)
Deep Dark Night (0/5, 2 threat)

Resource Phase
Deck Two Hand (New Card in Bold):
Expert Trackers, Mithrandir’s Advice, Song of Wisdom
Beregond (1), Damrod (1), Denethor (1), Frodo (4)

This should go on Frodo at the moment to make the most of these resources just sitting there unused

Deck One Hand:
Spear of the Citadel
Sam (2), Faramir (2), Mablung (2), Boromir (1)

This will probably go on Boromir I think. With his defense bonus he’ll take a damage from most enemies, allowing him to trigger the Spear and then ready for the counterattack.

Planning Phase
Deck Two:
Song of Wisdom-Frodo (Now Frodo is also eligible for Burning Brand, which would turn him into a prime defender if we get him tooled up properly)
Mithrandir’s Advice: Guardian of Ithilien, Ranger Spikes (We’ll be able to put both of these out immediately, so as to avoid any random discards)
Ranger Spikes (Once we get another Orc snared here, this’ll provide another target for Emyn Arnen Ranger)
Guardian of Ithilien (The entire reason we have included this guy is so he can exhaust for various effects that only Rangers can trigger, such as Ranger Bow, or Expert Trackers)

Deck One:
Spear of the Citadel-Boromir (For reasons mentioned above, this’ll boost Boromir’s defending utility. It’s also allow us to trigger Foe-hammer off of it)

Trigger A Heavy Burden: exhaust Frodo. Exhaust Fast Hitch to ready Frodo.

We’re not going to use Denethor’s ability. We’ll need to keep back some characters to exhaust if we complete Smeagol’s Secret Way so Denethor’s willpower will be needed for the questing.

Quest Phase
Trigger Emyn Arnen Ranger: Orc of Cirith Ungol. Give Emyn Arnen Ranger 2 extra willpower.

Sam-3
Faramir-2
Frodo-2
Smeagol-2
Damrod-2
Denethor-1
Emyn Arnen Ranger-2

Total willpower: 14

1: Orc of Cirith Ungol* (2 threat) Trigger Ranger Spikes, attach to Orc of Cirith Ungol*. Trigger Damrod: Brace of Coneys. (Deck One doesn’t have any cards in hand so we’ve no choice but to take the attack. In other news, the Coneys are back!) Orc of Cirith Ungol* makes an attack against Deck Two
-Shadow Card dealt to Orc of Cirith Ungol*
-Beregond defends (4)
-Den of Night revealed as Shadow
-Orc of Cirith Ungol attacks (4), deals no damage
-Trigger Beregond, reduce Deck Two’s threat by 1
-Exhaust Armoured Destrier to ready Beregond
(The only thing is now we don’t have any targets for the Destrier’s shadow cancellation. But at least we dropped our threat a point)
2: Many Openings (An extra 2 threat is by no means the end of the world, we can deal with this)

Total threat: 13

Win by 1, explore Smeagol’s Secret Way, add it to the victory display. Trigger Smeagol’s Secret Way: exhaust Mablung and Guardian of Ithilien. (Already that cheap ally is pulling its weight, preventing Beregond from being exhausted)

So although we’ve completed Smeagol’s Way and it’s in the victory discplay, the quest card says we don’t advance until the end of the round.

Travel Phase
Smeagol’s already exhausted so we’ve no choice but to go to Den of Night.

Place 1 resource on Shelob to travel to Den of Night (0/4)

Encounter Phase
We need to start clearing the staging area now that Shelob is up there otherwise we could see ourselves becoming threat-locked.

Deck One optionally engages Morgul Wraith*. Trigger Sam, trigger Mablung. Exhaust Unexpected Courage to ready Faramir

And we’re ready to go!

Combat Phase
[Deck One defense]
Shadow Card dealt to Morgul Wraith*
Beregond defends (4)
We Hates Them! revealed as Shadow
Morgul Wraith attacks (6), deals 2 damage

That hurt! Beregond is down to 2 hitpoints, one more strike like that and he’s down.

Shadow Card dealt to Morgul Orc
Boromir defends (3)
Trigger Spear of the Citadel, destroy Morgul Orc

Now that’s what I’ve been missing these past two games! We’ll make the most of the Spear this time round

Shadow Card dealt to Orc of Cirith Ungol
Sam defends (5)
The Spider’s Lair revealed as Shadow
Orc of Cirith Ungol attacks (2), deals no damage

We’ve just got the one character left ready, but thanks to Entangling Nets we’ll be able to polish off this Orc

[Deck One attack]
Orc of Cirith Ungol:
Faramir attacks (2), destroys Orc of Cirith Ungol
Trigger Secret Vigil, reduce each player’s threat by 2

And we’re down into the 20s! It won’t last, but it’s fun while it does. In the meanwhile, we can do this…

Deck Two plays Brace of Coneys and adds it to the victory display to allow Deck One to draw 2 cards: Gondorian Shield, Foe-hammer.

This’ll make sure Beregond’s safe from harm for the remainder of the quest, while providing a solid wall enemies should not be able to breach. Extra card draw is also alway welcome.

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

Trigger Stage 1B, complete Stage 1B. Advance to Stage 2A, add Shelob to the staging area. Shuffle The Great Spider encounter set into the encounter deck and the encounter discard pile into the encounter deck.

And there’s the great beastie herself. Now we’ll have to somehow up our questing power if we’re to keep pace. Note also that as both decks don’t even have 3 cards in hand, we can’t trigger the optional response on Stage 1B to discard the Nazgul also.

Turn No.5
Stage: 2B (0/16)
Active Location: Den of Night (0/4)
Staging Area:
Morgul Wraith (4 threat)
Deep Dark Passage (2 threat)
Orc of Cirith Ungol* (0 threat)
Shelob (5 threat, 1 resource)

Resource Phase
Deck One Hand (New Card in Bold):
Gondorian Shield, Foe-hammer, Ring Mail
Sam (3), Faramir (3), Mablung (2), Boromir (2), Frodo (2)

Now Sam should be up to 6 defense, able to take on Shelob in Stage 3, providing she doesn’t get boosted

Deck Two Hand:
Expert Trackers, Friend of Friends
Beregond (2), Damrod (1), Denethor (2)

I’ve been waiting for this, the hobbits are getting boosted up to new heights

Planning Phase
Deck One:
Gondorian Shield-Beregond (He’s down to 2 hit points so he needs as much protection as we can afford him)
Ring Mail (As well as boosting Sam’s defense, his hit points also increases up to 4)

Deck Two:
Friend of Friends-Sam (We’re waiting on that second copy now to really push Sam into the stratosphere)

Trigger A Heavy Burden: exhaust Frodo. Exhaust Fast Hitch to ready Frodo.

Exhaust Denethor to look at the top card of the encounter deck: Many Openings (Because we have just one location, all this does is give us an extra threat to deal with and an extra encounter card to boot so there is no reason that we shouldn’t chuck this card). Place Many Openings on the bottom of the encounter deck.

Quest Phase
Trigger Shelob: Shelob makes an attack against Deck One. (We’ll take the attack to avoid the threat getting added on to her)
-Shadow Card dealt to Shelob
-Beregond defends (6)
-Panicked revealed as Shadow, exhaust Guardian of Ithilien
-Shelob attacks (4), deals no damage
-Trigger Beregond, lower Deck One’s threat by 1
-Exhaust Armoured Destrier to ready Beregond

She’s got quite a nasty bite, doesn’t she? Fortunately the armour of Gondor is strong and we have survived the first attack

Trigger Emyn Arnen Ranger: Orc of Cirith Ungol*. Give Emyn Arnen Ranger 2 extra willpower.

Sam-3
Faramir-2
Mablung-2
Frodo-2
Smeagol-2
Damrod-2
Emyn Arnen Ranger-2

Total willpower: 15

So it’s not quite enough as we would like, but it’s the best we can muster for the moment.

1: Morgul Orc (1 threat) (And there’s yet another one. We’ll discard our last card to avoid the extra encounter card)
2: The Underway (2 threat) (Fortunately because Beregond’s taken on Shelob and lowered Deck One’s threat, it is still below the reduced engagement cost of the Morgul Orc so we can still trigger Sam)

Total threat: 14

Win by 1, place 1 progress on Den of Night (1/4)

Well that was nowhere near as much progress as I would have liked, but we’ll take it. Going forward we need to clear out the second Nazgul or we’re in danger of getting overwhelmed in the staging area.

Travel Phase
N/A

Encounter Phase
Deck One optionally engages Morgul Orc. Trigger The Underway, deal Morgul Orc a Shadow Card. Trigger Sam, trigger Mablung, trigger Faramir: Smeagol.

Deck Two optionally engages Morgul Wraith*.

That’s 5 threat cleared from the staging area, hopefully that’ll be enough to get our questing kickstarted again.

Combat Phase
[Deck One defense]
Shadow Card dealt to Morgul Wraith
Boromir defends (3), trigger Spear of the Citadel to deal 1 damage to Morgul Wraith (8/9)
Lurking Malice revealed as Shadow (The first of the Shelob-specific cards, they’ve diluted the encounter deck for us, but will bite when we directly face the great spider herself)
Morgul Wraith attacks (5), deals 2 damage to Boromir
Trigger Boromir: ready Boromir

Well that was painful, but at least now he’s ready to help take down the Morgul Orc when the time comes

Shadow Card dealt to Morgul Orc
Sam defends (6)
We Hates Them and Rage and Hunger revealed as Shadow
Morgul Orc attacks (4), deals no damage

Sam is a solid rock at this point. Next turn he should be able to tank the Nazgul and allow my other heroes to deal with him.

[Deck Two defense]
Shadow Card dealt to Morgul Wraith*
Beregond defends (6)
Rage and Hunger revealed as Shadow (Twice in a row? I promises I shuffled these)
Morgul Wraith attacks (5), deals no damage

And that the last attack this turn. I can’t foresee Deck Two mustering enough willpower to take care of this Nazgul for a wee bit yet, but there are ways around that.

[Deck One attacks]
Morgul Orc:
Faramir attacks (2), Boromir attacks (3), destroys Morgul Orc. Deck One plays Foe-hammer, exhausting Spear of the Citadel: Anborn, Dagger of Westernesse, Rod of the Steward

Now we’ll have repeatable card draw, all we need is the Steward of Gondor now to help fund it.

Refresh Phase
Raise each player’s threat by 1
Deck One: 30
Deck Two: 31

Turn No.6
Stage: 2B (0/16)
Active Location: Den of Night (1/4)
Staging Area:
Shelob (5 threat, 1 resource)
Orc of Cirith Ungol* (0 threat)
Deep Dark Passage (0/5, 2 threat)
The Underway (0/3, 2 threat)

Resource Phase
Deck Two Hand (New Card in Bold):
A Test of Will
Beregond (2), Damrod (2), Denethor (3), Frodo (3)

Excellent! With all the extra treacheries, this’ll be needed now more than ever.

Deck One Hand:
Anborn, Dagger of Westernesse, Rod of the Steward, Dagger of Westernesse
Sam (4), Faramir (4), Mablung (2), Boromir (2)

Wow, our attack power is getting turned around, and quickly.

Planning Phase
Deck Two:
We have nothing to spend our money on, so there’s nothing to see here.

Deck One:
Dagger of Westernesse-Faramir (With Ranged and Unexpected Courage, he’s the best target for this weapon)
Dagger of Westernesse-Faramir (And that is Faramir’s attack boosted to a minimum of 4, potentially 6 if we keep our threat in order)
Rod of the Steward: Faramir (For thematic reasons, he’s getting this as well. We’re going to have more Leadership resources, especially once we get the Steward of Gondor out, so we’ll have more to spare for fueling this card draw)
Anborn (A 3 attack-ally will be most welcome in this quest, his willpower is a bonus we might be able to use because of Faramir’s ally-readying ability)

Faramir spends 2 resources to trigger Rod of the Steward: Taste It Again! (An excellent draw, I think this will best be used against the Nazgul engaged with Deck One so we can finish him once and for all)

Trigger A Heavy Burden: exhaust Frodo. Exhaust Fast Hitch to ready Frodo.

We’re going to keep back Denethor for questing, we’re going to need every point we can get.

Quest Phase
Trigger Shelob: Shelob makes an attack against Deck Two. (Again we’ll shoulder the attack, we want as few resources on her as possible)
-Shadow Card dealt to Shelob
-Beregond defends (6)
-Lurking Malice revealed as Shadow, deal 1 resource to Shelob
-Shelob attacks (6), deals no damage
-Trigger Beregond, lower Deck Two’s threat by 1
-Exhaust Armoured Destrier to ready Beregond

With the Destrier and Gondorian Shield, Beregond should be able to handle this every turn.

Trigger Emyn Arnen Ranger: Orc of Cirith Ungol*. Give Emyn Arnen Ranger 2 extra willpower.

Sam-3
Faramir-2
Mablung-2
Frodo-2
Damrod-2
Denethor-1
Smeagol-2
Emyn Arnen Ranger-2
Anborn-1

Total wilpower: 17

This should be enough to complete Den of Night at least, as well as put some progress on the main quest.

1: Exhalation of Decay (We’d lose A Test of Will anyway, so we may as well play this and save the attachments)
2: Den of Night* (1 threat) (We need to be very careful now, locations are piling up and we’re getting in danger of being locked out.)

Total threat: 11

Win by 6, explore Den of Night, place 3 progress on Stage 2B (3/16). Exhaust Unexpected Courage to ready Faramir

Not quite the full 4 we could have gotten, but we’ll take it.

Travel Phase
Travel to The Underway (0/3)

With the amount of Orcs coming at us, this location is proving to be increasingly awkward. Also this location contributes the most threat for the least amount of progress in the staging area just now, so mathematically this makes the most sense.

Encounter Phase
Deck One needs to engage an enemy this turn to have enough actions to deal with this Nazgul engaged with them. Unfortunately this means we’re going to have to engage the Orc with Ranger Spikes to do it.

Deck One engages Orc of Cirith Ungol*. Trigger The Underway, deal a Shadow Card to Orc of Cirith Ungol*.

Trigger Sam, trigger Mablung, trigger Faramir: Anborn.

I think that’s about 11 attack readied with that one engagement. This Nazgul is toast.

Combat Phase
[Deck One defense]
Shadow Card dealt to Morgul Wraith
Sam defends (6), Deck One plays Taste It Again!
Blocked Tunnel revealed as Shadow
Morgul Wraith attacks (5), deals no damage

Sam is ready now, and able to retaliate against the Wraith

Shadow Card dealt to Orc of Cirith Ungol
Boromir defends (3), trigger Spear of the Citadel to deal 1 damage to Orc of Cirith Ungol* (4/5)
Followed By Night and Lurking Malice revealed as Shadow
Orc of Cirith Ungol* attacks (4), deals 1 damage to Boromir (1/4)
Trigger Boromir: ready Boromir

We need to be very careful now, at least until we have some healing on the board.

[Deck Two defense]
Shadow Card dealt to Morgul Wraith*
Beregond defends (6)
The Spider’s Lair revealed as Shadow
Morgul Wraith attacks for 5, deals no damage

This Wraith has to go before we confront Shelob, they both need high-defense heroes to deal with them

[Deck One attack]
Morgul Wraith
Sam attacks (4), Faramir attacks (6), Anborn attacks (3), destroys Morgul Wraith.

One down, one to go.

Orc of Cirith Ungol*:
Boromir attacks (3), deals 1 damage (3/5)

We can’t really afford to kill this Orc just yet, because the Emyn Arnen Ranger needs a trapped target to be able to quest with.

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

Turn No.7
Stage: 2B (3/16)
Active Location: The Underway (0/3)
Staging Area:
Shelob (6 threat, 2 resources)
Deep Dark Passage (0/5, 2 threat)
Den of Night* (0/4, 1 threat)

Resource Phase
Deck One Hand (New Card in Bold):
Mithril Shirt
Sam (1), Faramir (2), Mablung (2), Boromir (3), Frodo (4)

There’s only one real target for this, but we won’t get much of a chance to use it until Frodo gets himself a second Fast Hitch

Deck Two Hand:
Ithilien Archer
Beregond (2), Damrod (3), Denethor (4)

The fact that this guy has Ranged means that he can throw in his extra attack where it is needed the most. His ability to send stuff back into the staging area means that we can keep enemies triggering Deck One’s engagement effects multiple times.

Planning Phase
Deck One:
Mithril Shirt-Frodo

Now with 3 defense, once he gets a Burning Brand and Sting he’ll be an excellent defender.

Deck Two:
Ithilien Archer

We’ll probably be using his willpower at the moment as we need every drop of it that we can squeeze out of our guys.

Trigger A Heavy Burden: exhaust Frodo. Exhaust Fast Hitch to ready Frodo.

Quest Phase
Trigger Shelob: Shelob makes an attack against Deck One. (By doing this each turn, Beregond is essentially contributing 1 willpower to the quest)
-Shadow Card dealt to Shelob
-Beregond defends (6)
-Lust for the Ring revealed as Shadow
-Shelob attacks (4), deals no damage
-Trigger Beregond, lower Deck One’s threat by 1
-Exhaust Armoured Destrier to ready Beregond

Another benefit of tanking an attack from Shelob each turn is we mill through some of these treacheries as shadow cards instead.

Trigger Emyn Arnen Ranger: Orc of Cirith Ungol*. Give Emyn Arnen Ranger 2 extra willpower.

Exhaust Denethor to look at the top card of the encounter deck: Pursued by the Enemy (Absolutely not. An extra attack or two to rob our action advantage, bumping up our threat and surge? We’ll chuck this for now). Place Pursed by the Enemy on the bottom of the encounter deck.

Sam-3
Faramir-2
Mablung-2
Boromir-1
Frodo-2
Smeagol-2
Damrod-2
Anborn-1
Emyn Arnen Ranger-2

Total willpower: 17

Here goes nothing.

1: The Underway* (2 threat) (This again? Well I guess it’s more of the same next turn)
2: Shelob’s Poison (Now this is where things take a turn for the worse. We cannot afford to lose Beregond, if he goes then so does the whole ship. So between Denethor and Damrod we have the choice of losing scrying or occasional card-draw and moderate willpower. Denethor has saved us a lot of bother once or twice so far, but given this quest’s brutal punishment of our cards, I think we should maintain as much card draw as possible. I’m afraid Denethor is getting poisoned.) Attach Shelob’s Poison to Denethor.

Total threat: 11

Win by 6, explore The Underway and place 3 progress on Stage 2B (6/16)

Slowly we’re getting there, though I think the pace needs to be upped if at all possible.

Travel Phase
Travel to The Underway* (0/3)

Again, the numbers dictate this is the best value for progress we can do just now.

Encounter Phase
N/A

Combat Phase
[Deck One defense]
Shadow Card dealt to Orc of Cirith Ungol*
Beregond defends (6)
Morgul Orc revealed as Shadow
Orc of Cirith Ungol attacks (4), deals no damage

We’re going to have to get this guy back into the staging area sooner rather than later

[Deck Two defense]
Shadow Card dealt to Morgul Wraith*
Guardian of Ithilien defends (0)
Lurking Malice revealed as Shadow
Morgul Wraith attacks (7), destroys Guardian of Ithilien

I think that may have been overkill. Sorry dude.

[Deck Two attacks]
Morgul Wraith:
Faramir attacks (6), Ithilien Archer attacks (2), deals 4 damage to Morgul Wraith (5/9)
Trigger Ithilien Archer, return Morgul Wraith* to the staging area

I know now we have a bump to our threat in the staging area, but next turn we’ll be able to knock off this Nazgul with the attacking power of Deck One.

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

Turn No.8
Stage: 2B (6/16)
Active Location: The Underway* (0/3)
Staging Area:
Shelob (6 threat, 2 resources)
Deep Dark Passage (0/5, 2 threat)
Den of Night* (0/4, 1 threat)
Morgul Wraith (4 threat)

Resource Phase
Deck Two Hand (New Card in Bold):
Mithrandir’s Advice
Beregond (3), Damrod (3), Denethor (3), Frodo (4)

Blessed card-draw! Praise be to Eru! We’re crying out for this and we haven’t had half of our card draw come up.

Deck One Hand:
Gondorian Shield
Sam (2), Faramir (3), Mablung (3), Boromir (4)

And now Boromir can truly shine. He’ll be at a solid 5 defense if we keep on top of our threat.

Planning Phase
Deck Two:
Mithrandir’s Advice: Ranger Spikes, Ancient Mathom (More card-draw, at long last)
Ranger Spikes (By my. count there should be 1 Orc of Cirith Ungol in the encounter deck. Now we’ll be ready for him)
Ancient Mathom-The Underway* (We ought to be able to finish this location this turn and make sure Deck Two gets the benefits of this. With Rod of the Steward, Deck One will need this boost less urgently)

Deck One:
Gondorian Shield-Boromir (There’s not a lot as will be able to get past Boromir now, but we still need to be careful until we can get some healing on the board)
Faramir spends 2 resources to trigger Rod of the Steward: Errand-rider. (This is getting played immediately)
Errand-rider (Now we can shunt resources around to Faramir and draw an extra card each turn.)
Exhaust Errand-rider to move 1 resource from Mablung to Faramir (With inbuilt resource acceleration, Mablung will miss these resources the least)
Faramir spends 2 resources to trigger Rod of the Steward: Captain of Gondor (Another toy for Boromir!)
Captain of Gondor-Boromir (Now on a turn when Deck One engages an enemy, Boromir can defend for 6 and potentially counter-attack for 4, all after dealing a damage from Spear of Citadel. A true Captain of Gondor!)

Trigger A Heavy Burden: exhaust Frodo. Exhaust Fast Hitch to ready Frodo.

Quest Phase
Trigger Shelob: Shelob makes an attack against Deck Two. (I have a mental image of Beregond wedged a shield into the tunnel walls, desperately holding back Shelob as she scrabbles against the metal on the other side)
-Shadow Card dealt to Shelob
-Beregond defends (6)
-Blocked Tunnel revealed as Shadow
-Shelob attacks (4), deals no damage
-Trigger Beregond, lower Deck Two’s threat by 1
-Exhaust Armoured Destrier to ready Beregond

And now down to business.

Trigger Emyn Arnen Ranger: Orc of Cirith Ungol*. Give Emyn Arnen Ranger 2 extra willpower.

Sam-3
Faramir-2
Mablung-2
Frodo-2
Damrod-2
Emyn Arnen Ranger-2
Smeagol-2
Anborn-1
Ithilien Archer-1

Total willpower: 17

Exhaust Unexpected Courage to ready Faramir

Brace yourselves, we could be in for it!

1: Orc of Cirith Ungol (0 threat). Trigger Ranger Spikes, attach to Orc of Cirith Ungol. Trigger Damrod: Burning Brand (We’ll need to stomach an attack from this guy, but Beregond can take care of that. This is going onto Frodo I think, so we can negate any shadow cards he’ll come across when he gets Sting. And another Fast Hitch. So it may actually be a wee bit yet) Orc of Cirith Ungol makes an attack against Deck Two.
-Shadow Card dealt to Orc of Cirith Ungol
-Beregond defends (6)
-Deep Dark Passage revealed as Shadow
-Orc of Cirith Ungol attacks (4), deals no damage

So we are unharmed, but Beregond is out of commision. It’s up to everyone else to defend against any future attacks

2: Den of Night (1 threat) (The annoying thing about these locations is that it is not worth travelling here at all. The benefit from removing the threat from the staging area is mitigated by adding a resource to Shelob, which boosts her threat. And in addition, it takes 4 progress to get rid of 1 threat, which we aren’t really getting rid of because Shelob is taking it from us.)

Total threat: 14

Win by 3, explore The Underway. Trigger Ancient Mathom: Warden of Healing, Fast Hitch, Friend of Friends (We can actually use Frodo for something other than questing now! With Friend attached, both Frodo and Sam get that much better, especially as they’ll both be getting multiple uses out of these stats.)

Travel Phase
We’re wanting to make progress on this quest, as much as we can and faster than we are currently going. We shall not travel this turn.

Encounter Phase
Deck One optionally engages Morgul Wraith*

Trigger Sam, trigger Mablung, trigger Captain of Gondor, trigger Faramir: Anborn

The last of these Nazgul that have plagued us from the beginning are almost done with.

Combat Phase
[Deck One defense]
Shadow Card dealt to Morgul Wraith*
Sam defends (6)
Rage and Hunger revealed as Shadow
Morgul Wraith* attacks (5), deals no damage

One thing to be said, a lot of shadow effects in this scenario only trigger off Shelob. This one, for instance, would have allowed herself to go at us again, but instead does nothing for the Morgul Wraith.

Shadow Card dealt to Orc of Cirith Ungol*
Boromir defends (6), trigger Spear of the Citadel to deal 1 damage to Orc of Cirith Ungol* (3/5)
Many Openings revealed as Shadow
Orc of Cirith Ungol* attacks (4), deals no damage

[Deck One attacks]
Morgul Wraith*
Faramir attacks (6), Anborn attacks (4), destroys Morgul Wraith*

At long last! Hopefully now we can start making some real progress.

Refresh Phase
Raise each player’s threat by 1
Deck Two: 32
Deck One: 33

Turn No.9
Stage: 2B (6/16)
Active Location: N/A
Staging Area:
Shelob (6 threat, 2 resources)
Deep Dark Passage (0/5, 2 threat)
Den of Night (0/4, 1 threat)
Den of Night* (0/4, 1 threat)
Orc of Cirith Ungol (0 threat)

Resource Phase
Deck One Hand (New Card in Bold):
Hobbit Cloak
Sam (2), Faramir (1), Mablung (3), Boromir (4), Frodo (4)

And this’ll take Frodo to new heights of defense capabilities.

Deck Two Hand:
A Burning Brand, Warden of Healing, Fast Hitch, Friend of Friends, Emyn Arnen Ranger*
Beregond (4), Damrod (3), Denethor (4)

At last our questing abilities are coming online. The future’s looking bright!

Planning Phase
Deck One:
Hobbit Cloak-Frodo
Exhaust Errand-rider to move 1 resource from Mablung to Faramir
Faramir spends 2 resources to trigger Rod of the Steward: Sting (There it is! Frodo’s getting some serious love this turn!)
Sting-Frodo (It’s the stat boosts that are the real prize here, the defensive ability on Sting, While awesome, may be a bit too situational an a quest with this many treacheries)

Deck Two:
Fast Hitch-Frodo (Now with two Hitches attached to him, Frodo has negated A Heavy Burden, and can contribute to combat after questing now as well)
A Burning Brand-Frodo (Good-bye shadows. This card though, this card is a must-have for any defender with the lore sphere. Even those without, it’s worth paying for Song of Wisdom just to qualify for this. There are two random encounter elements in this game, staging and shadows, and this mitigates the second one entirely.)
Friend of Friends-Frodo (Both he and Sam benefit from this. I believe this is one of the best value attachments in the game, you just need to find it)
Emyn Arnen Ranger* (We still have the cap of 1 ally per player per turn, so we’re going to have to forgo healing for now. We need to make progress faster, we need our questing power up and running)

So to review, Frodo now has an extra action each turn, 4 willpower, 3 attack, 5-7 defense, 4 hitpoints, ignores shadows when defending, with the chance of dealing direct damage to the attacking enemy. Not too bad at all, if I may say so.

Trigger A Heavy Burden: exhaust Frodo. Exhaust Fast Hitch to ready Frodo.

Quest Phase
Trigger Shelob: Shelob makes an attack against Deck One.
-Shadow Card dealt to Shelob
-Beregond defends (6)
-Weight of the Ring revealed as Shadow
-Shelob attacks (4), deals no damage
-Trigger Beregond, lower Deck One’s threat by 1
-Exhaust Armoured Destrier to ready Beregond

I know what you are thinking, why not have given Beregond a Spear of the Citadel and have Shelob dead by now? Well I had considered it, but then I saw the text on Stage 3A…”heal all damage from Shelob”. So as fun as it might be to pile on the damage, it would serve no practical purpose just yet.

Trigger Emyn Arnen Ranger and Emyn Arnen Ranger*: Orc of Cirith Ungol*. Give Emyn Arnen Ranger and Emyn Arnen Ranger* 2 extra willpower each.

Sam-4
Faramir-2
Mablung-2
Frodo-4
Damrod-2
Emyn Arnen Ranger-2
Emyn Arnen Ranger*-2
Anborn-1

Total willpower: 19

I think this is the closest we have gotten for breaking 20 mark for willpower. A sign of things getting easier? I doubt it somehow.

Exhaust Unexpected Courage to ready Faramir. Exhaust Fast Hitch to ready Frodo

1: Call of the Ring (Well I suppose it was only a matter of time, and we hadn’t seen any of these yet. We’ll face the Nazgul again rather than draw another encounter card) Deck One searches the encounter discard pile for Morgul Wraith (4 threat) and adds it to the staging area.
2: Morgul Orc (1 threat) (Again I’d rather not take another encounter card, but that means discarding our Warden of Healing. Still, we can’t afford to reveal more than absolutely necessary) Deck Two discards Warden of Healing from his hand.

Total threat: 15

Win by 5, place 4 progress on Stage 2B (10/16).

We’re getting there. Hopefully only 2 more turns at this stage and we’ll be on the home-straight.

Travel Phase
Now we have enough willpower to keep Smeagol back from questing, we can finally use him to travel to Deep Dark Passage.

Exhaust Smeagol to travel to Deep Dark Passage (0/5)

Encounter Phase
Deck One optionally engages Morgul Wraith

Trigger Sam, trigger Mablung, trigger Captain of Gondor, trigger Faramir: Anborn

Deck Two optionally engages Morgul Orc

I know we could probably have left the Orc up in the staging area, but I want it as clear as possible of threat. Also the more treacheries we can burn as shadow cards the better.

Combat Phase
[Deck One defense]
Shadow Card dealt to Morgul Wraith
Frodo defends (7), Shadow discarded by Burning Brand
Morgul Wraith attacks (5), deals no damage

We haven’t triggered Sting because we want there to be just the one card left in the encounter deck to give us the best chance possible to place the most amount of progress possible and to clear out as many enemies as are left.

Shadow Card dealt to Orc of Cirith Ungol*
Boromir defends (6), trigger Spear of the Citadel to deal 1 damage to Orc of Cirith Ungol (2/5)
Exhalation of Decay revealed as Shadow, discard Song of Wisdom from Frodo (Now we have A Burning Brand attached, Song of Wisdom isn’t as necessary)
Orc of Cirith Ungol attacks (4), deals no damage

Slowly the Spear is chipping him down, bit by bit. I’m not sure we’ll let the Orc alone long enough for the Spear to finish him though, we’ll probably take him on before then.

[Deck Two defense]
Shadow Card dealt to Morgul Orc
Beregond defends (6)
Lurking Malice revealed as Shadow
Morgul Orc attacks (3), deals no damage

We probably won’t be able to finish this enemy off just now, we need to focus on the Ringwraith this turn.

[Deck One attack]
Morgul Wraith:
Sam attacks (3), Faramir attacks (6), Anborn attacks (3), Ithilien Archer (2), destroys Morgul Wraith

Just the Orcs left, which should be manageable next turn seeing as we’ll only have the one encounter card to deal with for the entire round.

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

Turn No.10
Stage: Stage 2B (10/16)
Active Location: Deep Dark Passage (0/5)
Staging Area:
Shelob (6 threat, 2 resources)
Den of Night (0/4, 1 threat)
Den of Night (0/4, 1 threat)
Orc of Cirith Ungol (0 threat)

Resource Phase
Deck Two Hand (New Card in Bold):
Secret Ways
Beregond (4), Damrod (2), Denethor (2), Frodo (3)

Not bad at all, especially if we need one last push to close things out

Deck One Hand:
Proud Hunters
Boromir (4), Mablung (4), Faramir (1), Sam (2)

Nice wee bit of resource generation there, which will probably translate into card-draw

Planning Phase
Deck Two:
N/A

Deck One:
Exhaust Errand-rider to move 1 resource from Boromir to Faramir
Faramir spends 2 resources to trigger Rod of the Steward: Feint (And where exactly was this hiding? Ah well, I suppose we’ll happily use it on herself when the time comes.)

Trigger A Heavy Burden: exhaust Frodo. Exhaust Fast Hitch to ready Frodo.

Quest Phase
Trigger Shelob: Shelob makes an attack against Deck Two.
-Shadow Card dealt to Shelob
-Frodo defends (7), Shadow discarded by A Burning Brand
-Shelob attacks (4), deals no damage

If memory serves, that last card was Pursued by the Enemy, which Denethor had put to the bottom of the encounter deck just before he got Shelob’s Poison attached to him.

I just checked the rules and apparently the encounter deck has to be reset if it runs out at any point of the questing phase

Exhaust Fast Hitch to ready Frodo

Trigger Emyn Arnen Ranger and Emyn Arnen Ranger*: Orc of Cirith Ungol. Give Emyn Arnen Ranger and Emyn Arnen Ranger* 2 extra willpower each.

Reset the encounter deck.

Sam-4
Frodo-4
Faramir-2
Smeagol-2
Mablung-2
Damrod-2
Emyn Arnen Ranger-2
Emyn Arnen Ranger*-2
Ithilien Archer-1

Total willpower: 21

Exhaust Unexpected Courage to ready Faramir

That ought to be enough to place the 4 progress needed, but we’ll have to see.

1: Deep Dark Passage* (2 threat) (This again! I guess we’ll just have to deal with this copy as well)
2: Many Openings (And now the threat of all these locations is boosted. At least we won’t be adding any more to the staging area though)

Win by 9, explore Deep Dark Passage, place 4 progress on Stage 2B (14/16)

We’re nearly there, just one more turn and we’ll be fighting Shelob directly.

Travel Phase
We’re not going to travel to either copy of Den of Night for reasons mentioned above, we want to keep to an absolute minimum the number of resources Shelob has on her. And Smeagol was used for questing so we can’t travel to Deep Dark Passage* this turn.

Encounter Phase
N/A

Combat Phase
[Deck Two]
Shadow Card dealt to Morgul Orc
Beregond defends (6)
Rage and Hunger revealed as Shadow
Morgul Orc attacks, deals no damage
Trigger Beregond, reduce Deck Two’s threat by 1
Faramir attacks (6), destroys Morgul Orc

That’s one down, just his bigger brother to go now.

[Deck One]
Shadow Card dealt to Orc of Cirith Ungol*
Boromir defends (5), trigger Spear of the Citadel to deal 1 damage to Orc of Cirith Ungol* (1/5)
The Spider’s Lair revealed as Shadow
Orc of Cirith Ungol attacks (4), deals no damage
Anborn attacks (3), destroys Orc of Cirith Ungol*

And that’s two.

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

Turn No.11
Stage: 2B (14/16)
Active Location: N/A
Staging Area:
Shelob (6 threat, 2 resources)
Den of Night (0/4, 1 threat)
Den of Night (0/4, 1 threat)
Orc of Cirith Ungol (0 threat
Deep Dark Passage* (0/5, 2 threat)

Resource Phase
Deck One Hand (New Card in Bold):
Proud Hunters, Feint, Errand-rider*
Sam (3), Faramir (1), Mablung (5), Boromir (4), Frodo (4)

Well this means more resources can get shunted over to Faramir for drawing those cards

Deck Two Hand:
Secret Paths, Ranger Bow
Beregond (5), Damrod (3), Denethor (3)

We can use this to start pouring the direct damage on Shelob to chip off her resources

Planning Phase
Deck One:
Errand-rider* (Resource shuffling, here we come)
Exhaust Errand-rider to move 1 resource from Boromir to Faramir
Exhaust Errand-rider* to move 1 resource from Boromir to Faramir
Faramir spends 2 resources to trigger Rod of the Steward: Heir of Mardil

We’ll put this on Faramir so we can ready him with an Errand-rider and use him to attack twice if we need it.

Deck Two:
Ranger Bow-Ithilien Archer (So with the Ranger Bow being on this guy, we can bounce someone back into the staging area with him one turn and ping them with the Ranger Bow the next one)

Trigger A Heavy Burden: exhaust Frodo. Exhaust Fast Hitch to ready Frodo.

Quest Phase
Trigger Shelob: Shelob makes an attack against Deck One.
-Shadow Card dealt to Shelob
-Frodo defends (7), Shadow discarded by A Burning Brand. Trigger Sting: Exhalation of Decay
-Shelob attacks (4), deals no damage

We know that even if Sting had discarded something with threat, any damage would have been healed straightaway, but by triggering Frodo’s sword we were able to burn a nasty treachery.

Exhaust Fast Hitch to ready Frodo

Trigger Emyn Arnen Ranger and Emyn Arnen Ranger*: Orc of Cirith Ungol. Give Emyn Arnen Ranger and Emyn Arnen Ranger* 2 extra willpower each.

Sam-4
Frodo-4
Faramir-2
Mablung-2
Anborn-1
Smeagol-2
Damrod-2
Emyn Arnen Ranger-2
Emyn Arnen Ranger*-2

Total willpower: 21

Now if we were able to put 2 progress on Stage 2B, we’re onto the final Stage. This should, should be enough willpower.

1: Blocked Tunnel (0/9, 3 threat) (Things just got interesting, but not in a good way. This becomes the active location, throwing up a 9 progress barrier in our way)
2: Morgul Wraith (4 threat) (And it’s back! How many times do I have to kill you for you to stay dead?)

Exhaust Ithilien Archer to place 3 progress on Blocked Tunnel (3/9)
Deck Two plays Secret Paths on Deep Dark Passage* (0 threat)

Total threat: 12

Win by 9, explore Blocked Tunnel, complete Stage 2B. Trigger Stage 3A, add Cleft of Cirith Ungol to the staging area. Flip Smeagol to Gollum and place 2 resources on Shelob. Gollum engages Deck One. Trigger Sam, trigger Mablung, trigger Faramir: Errand-rider. Exhaust Unexpected Courage to ready Faramir

Now things get real.

Travel Phase
Place 1 resource on Shelob to travel to Cleft of Cirith Ungol

That’s her up to 5 resources now, fortunately we have one or two direct damage effects that should help whittle them down.

Encounter Phase
Deck One optionally engages Morgul Wraith

Trigger Sam, trigger Mablung, trigger Captain of Gondor, trigger Faramir: Anborn.

Combat Phase
Deck One plays Feint on Morgul Wraith

We can leave our characters ready for the counter-attack now. We need to be able to finish off both characters if at all possible.

[Deck One defense]
Shadow Card dealt to Gollum
Beregond defends (6)
Weight of the Ring revealed as Shadow
Gollum attacks (2), deals no damage
Trigger Beregond, lower Deck One’s threat by 1
Exhaust Armoured Destrier to ready Beregond

I dread to think what my threat values would be if it weren’t for Beregond, he has been invaluable in all three games I’ve used him in

[Deck One attack]
Morgul Wraith:
Sam attacks (4), Boromir attacks (4), Faramir attacks (6), destroys Morgul Wraith.

Now please, stay dead this time! We should get something like a ‘Wooden Stake’ card that removed Nazgul from the game once they have been destroyed.

Exhaust Errand-rider to move 1 resource from Mablung to Faramir. Exhaust Heir of Mardil to ready Faramir.

Isn’t Gondor’s resource manipulation wonderful? There’s loads of stuff I haven’t even begun to explore with it yet!

Gollum:
Faramir attacks (6), Anborn attacks (3), destroys Gollum. Add Gollum to the victory display.

And that’s the last we’ll see of old Stinker, for a while at least anyway.

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

Turn No.12
Stage: 3B (0/8)
Active Location: Cleft of Cirith Ungol (0/4, 4 threat)
Staging Area:
Shelob (9 threat, 5 resources)
Den of Night (0/4, 1 threat)
Den of Night* (0/4, 1 threat)
Orc of Cirith Ungol (0 threat)
Deep Dark Passage* (0/5, 2 threat)

Resource Phase
Deck Two Hand (New Card in Bold):
Ithilien Archer*
Beregond (6), Damrod (4), Denethor (3), Frodo (5)

I suppose more allies are always helpful, and he’s able to chip in with attack or questing.

Deck One Hand:
Proud Hunters, Taste It Again!
Sam (3), Faramir (3), Mablung (4), Boromir (4)

How appropriate! Just as we’re about to tackle Shelob we get the card thematically based around that event in the books

Planning Phase
Deck Two:
Ithilien Archer* (Ranged will be especially helpful as Shelob bounces about from one player to the next)

Deck One:
Exhaust Errand-rider to move 1 resource from Boromir to Faramir
Exhaust Errand-rider* to move 1 resource from Mablung to Faramir
Faramir spends 2 resources to trigger Rod of the Steward: Captain of Gondor (Another lovely wee boost for Boromir)
Faramir spends 2 resources to trigger Rod of the Steward: Spear of the Citadel (I suppose Mablung can take this just in case he’s called on to defend)
Spear of the Citadel-Mablung (I doubt he’ll ever have a chance to use this, but it’s good to have, just in case)
Captain of Gondor-Boromir (Now on engagement, Boromir’s looking at 5 attack, 7 defense. Not too shabby at all)

Trigger A Heavy Burden: exhaust Frodo. Exhaust Fast Hitch to ready Frodo.

Quest Phase
Trigger Shelob: Shelob makes an attack against Deck Two.
-Shadow Card dealt to Shelob
-Frodo defends (7), Shadow discarded by A Burning Brand. Trigger Sting: Orc of Cirith Ungol* (2 threat). Trigger Shelob, discard 1 resource from Shelob to cancel 2 damage dealt to her (4 resources). Exhaust Fast Hitch to ready Frodo.
-Shelob attacks (4), deals no damage

And so the process begins. While we’re at it…

Exhaust Ithilien Archer and Ranger Bow to deal 1 damage to Shelob. Trigger Shelob, discard 1 damage from Shelob to cancel 1 damage dealt to her (3 resources)

If only I had another Ranger Bow, things would be made a whole lot smoother.

Trigger Emyn Arnen Ranger and Emyn Arnen Ranger*: Orc of Cirith Ungol. Give Emyn Arnen Ranger and Emyn Arnen Ranger* 2 extra willpower each.

Frodo-4
Sam-4
Faramir-2
Mablung-2
Damrod-2
Boromir-1
Anborn-1
Emyn Arnen Ranger-2
Emyn Arnen Ranger*-2
Ithilien Archer*-1

Total willpower: 21

Now we’ve lost Smeagol and dropped back to nearly 20 willpower, I kind of miss the wee Slinker. Don’t tell him I said that though.

Exhaust Unexpected Courage to ready Faramir

1: We Hates Them! (A bit late, though it does have surge on it so it’s not quite a freebie) Trigger Surge.
1.2: The Spider’s Lair (3 threat) (I think this is the first time we’ve had to face this location. I’ve got to say I’m not a fan of that hefty threat)
2: Morgul Orc (1 threat) (How many of these guys are there? I swear it was only 4, but they seem to be swarming! We don’t want another encounter card, so I guess we’re discarding a card) Deck Two discards Proud Hunters.

Total threat: 15

Win by 6, explore Cleft of Cirith Ungol, add it to the victory display, place 2 progress on Stage 3B (2/8)

Shelob has lost Indestructible now, but she gains 2 extra attack and she engages the first player about now I think actually.

Shelob engages Deck Two.

Hello beautiful.

Travel Phase
We’ll leave off travelling this turn. Now that Shelob’s out of the staging area, the threat there is pretty manageable for now.

Encounter Phase
Deck One optionally engages Morgul Orc.

Trigger Sam, trigger Mablung, trigger Captain of Gondor, trigger Captain of Gondor, trigger Faramir: Errand-rider.

Another cheeky ready for Faramir, coming up!

Combat Phase
[Deck Two defense]
Shadow Card dealt to Shelob
Beregond defends (6)
Morgul Wraith revealed as Shadow
Shelob attacks (6), deals no damage
Trigger Beregond, reduce Deck Two’s threat by 1
Exhaust Armoured Destrier to ready Beregond and discard the Shadow Card from Morgul Orc

We got off lightly this time, but we can’t count on this every attack. All it takes is one Lurking Malice as a Shadow and we’re looking at a dead hero.

[Deck One defense]
Shadow Card dealt to Morgul Orc
Shadow discarded by Armoured Destier
Beregond defends (6)
Morgul Orc attacks (3), deals no damage

These things have been sniping at me all game, I will not miss them after we’re done.

[Deck Two attack]
Shelob:
Faramir attacks (6), deals 2 damage to Shelob. Trigger Shelob: discard 1 resource from Shelob to cancel 2 damage dealt to her (2 resources)

And we’re back down to the two we were on at the beginning of the turn. Slowly but surely folks, slowly but surely.

Exhaust Errand-rider to move 1 resource from Mablung to Faramir. Trigger Heir of Mardil to ready Faramir.

Once again Faramir is ready for action. This is such a good readying tool if you have the toys to work with it.

[Deck One attack]
Morgul Orc:
Faramir attacks (6), destroys Morgul Orc

Boom, headshot! Now if we’re smart and play our cards right, next turn may be the last one. Here’s hoping we can escape The Spider’s Pass soon.

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

Shelob engages Deck One. Trigger Mablung.

The annoying thing about the timing of this is that any triggers except Mablungs don’t really matter. All the characters are ready and any stat boosts go away at the end of the round.

Turn No.13
Stage: 3B (2/8)
Active Location:
Staging Area:
Den of Night (0/4, 1 threat)
Den of Night* (0/4, 1 threat)
Orc of Cirith Ungol (0 threat)
Deep Dark Passage* (0/5, 2 threat)
The Spider’s Lair (0/4, 3 threat)

Resource Phase
Deck One Hand (New Card in Bold):
Taste It Again!, Anborn
Sam (4), Faramir (3), Mablung (3), Boromir (3), Frodo (6)

Well unless this game goes on another turn or two and Anborn dies, we have a dead card. It could be worse though, we still haven’t drawn into this deck’s copy of The Searching Eye.

Deck Two Hand:
Guardian of Ithilien
Beregond (7), Damrod (3), Denethor (3)

Oh dear. Sorry pal, you’re slightly late to the party!

Planning Phase
Deck One:
Because right now I believe we should have enough action advantage to see the quest done this phase, we’re not going to trigger Rod of the Steward and risk drawing into Searching Eye.

Deck Two:
Guardian of Ithilien

Not that there is anything he can do this round, but you know, safety in numbers.

Trigger A Heavy Burden: exhaust Frodo. Exhaust Fast Hitch to ready Frodo.

Quest Phase
Trigger Shelob: Shelob makes an attack against Deck One
-Shadow Card dealt to Shelob
-Frodo defends (7), Shadow discarded by A Burning Brand. Trigger Sting: Den of Night (1 threat). Trigger Shelob, discard 1 resource from Shelob to cancel 1 damage dealt to her (1 resource). Exhaust Fast Hitch to ready Frodo.
-Shelob attacks (4), deals no damage

Just one left. We’ll use Boromir to defend against her with his Spear and strip her of that last resource, ready for everyone else to finish her off.

Trigger Emyn Arnen Ranger and Emyn Arnen Ranger*: Orc of Cirith Ungol. Give Emyn Arnen Ranger and Emyn Arnen Ranger* 2 extra willpower each.

Sam-4
Faramir-2
Mablung-2
Damrod-2
Emyn Arnen Ranger-2
Emyn Arnen Ranger*-2
Ithilien Archer-1
Ithilien Archer*-1
Anborn-1

Total willpower: 17

Here goes nothing.

1: Exhalation of Decay (This could be worse, but there’s never really a good time to discard stuff.) Discard randomly from hand; Deck One: Anborn. Deck Two: N/A. Discard attachments; Deck One: Spear of the Citadel (Mablung). Deck Two: Armoured Destrier (At least we’ve kept Taste It Again! in hand, but I’m sorry to see our Armoured Destrier go. It was a case of either that or Gondorian Shield, and I’d rather have the ability to defend one attack certain Beregond will survive it than two attacks where he might not. Remember that he’s suffered 2 wounds already.)
2: Many Openings (While we definitely won’t be revealing any more locations because of this, it does add 4 threat to the staging area, so it may as well have done. I’m not sure it’s going to be enough to stop us though)

Total threat: 11

Win by 6, place 6 progress on Stage 3B (8/8)

And now it’s just Shelob herself. Almost there guys.

Travel Phase
N/A

Encounter Phase
We are going to engage the Orc of Cirith Ungol, purely so that we can trigger everyone’s abilities here.

Deck One optionally engages Orc of Cirith Ungol. Trigger Sam, trigger Mablung, trigger Captain of Gondor, trigger Captain of Gondor, trigger Faramir: Anborn.

No extra readying needed from any Errand-riders. Now it’s just all attack.

Combat Phase
For fun, we’ll do the Orc first. Save the best until last.

[Deck One defense]
Shadow dealt to Orc of Cirith Ungol
Beregond defends (6)
Deep Dark Passage revealed as Shadow
Orc of Cirith Ungol attack (4), deals no damage
Trigger Beregond, reduce Deck One’s threat by 1

One last cheeky threat reduction, or at least we hope it’ll be the last one. Now as for Shelob, we can’t guarantee Sting will trigger successfully and remove the final resource. We’ll have to get Boromir to defend and trigger his Spear of the Citadel to make sure of it.

Shadow Card dealt to Shelob
Boromir defends (7), trigger Spear of the Citadel to deal 1 damage to Shelob. Trigger Shelob, discard 1 resource from Shelob to cancel 1 damage dealt to Shelob (0 resources) (She’s vulnerable now!)
The Underway revealed as Shadow (Oh no…) Deal 2 Shadow Cards to Shelob: Shelob’s Poison, Rage and Hunger (Man down, I repeat, man down! Fortunately I think Boromir is not removed from the combat and so still counts as defending here)
Shelob attacks (6), deals no damage

Clever girl! And now we have to face her again. Frodo, you’re up!

Shadow Card dealt to Shelob
Frodo defends (7), Shadow discarded by A Burning Brand. Trigger Sting: Call of the Ring (Alas, no damage here). Deck One plays Taste It Again!
Shelob attacks (6), deals no damage

So now Frodo’s ready to join the counter-attack as well. Let’s do this!

[Deck One attack]
Shelob:
Frodo attacks (5), Sam attacks (3), Faramir attacks (6), destroys Shelob and add her to the victory display.

The beast has been slain!

Victory

Victory Display: Morgul Vale (4), Gather Information (1), Smeagol’s Secret Way (2), Brace of Coneys (2), Gollum (0), Cleft of Cirith Ungol (4), Shelob (8)

Score: 34 threat + 33 threat + 130 for turns taken, 2 for damage on Boromir, 2 for damage on Beregond, -15 victory points = 186

There we have it, the conclusion to The Two Towers. Our heroes are left on the cusp of Mordor ready to embark on the final leg of their journey. What will happen going forward? Which heroes should follow Frodo into Mordor? Sam is a given, as is Faramir I think, but who else will accompany them? Should the rangers of Gondor follow their captain into the Land of Shadow, or ought we pick a new pool of heroes? Let me know what you think below.

Of the three quests we played from The Land of Shadow box, this was definitely the one I struggled with the most. While Journey to the Cross-roads had us facing a lot of enemies, I felt as though that was all there was to it. Here however, we had the looming threat of Shelob in the staging area from very early on, and the nature of this quest means that she has the potential to wreck you at any moment so I was forever living in fear of that. As for our decks, these are the two I am most satisfied with in terms of how they were built and how they performed. Once we got our engines up and running, especially the resource manipulation of Deck One, they really started to shine for me. Next time we’ll be returning to the western side of the quests, treading the Paths of the Dead with Aragorn and his companions. Who should go with him on this dread road? Will he lead the host of Rohan through the mountains and approach Minas Tirith from the south with them, or will the Grey Company make their appearance and follow their chieftain into the city of Dunharrow?

Add A Heavy Burden to the Campaign Pool

ffg- shelob

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