The Tower of Cirith Ungol: 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 Shagrat aside, out of play.
Add The Two Watchers (location side face-up), Topmost Chamber and 2 copies of Wraith on Wings to the staging area.

Player Deck Set-up:
Deck One draws opening hand, adds StingThe Searching Eye and Brace of Coneys to his deck
Deck Two draws opening hand, adds The Searching Eye and Brace of Coneys to his deck.

Deck One sets Mithril Shirt aside, out of play.
Deck Two sets Phial of Galadriel aside, out of play.

Frodo Baggins is placed face-up under The Topmost Chamber as a guarded objective.

The first player attaches Last of the Company, The One RingOld Bogey-stories, A Heavy Burden and Tireless Ranger to  Sam Gamgee.

This is the last time in the campaign we’ll be doing a ‘normal’ game. The last two scenarios are characterised by the ‘Dire’ mechanic and an infamously grueling level of difficulty. So as one last hurrah before we get slammed by the finale, I’m going to try something radical.

Deck One
Threat: 21
Sam Gamgee
Fatty Bolger
Pippin

That’s correct. You see here two heroes that are widely considered among the worst in the game. I think we have now been given the tools to make them work. I am going to try and make use of them in this scenario, which is designed (deliberately I think) in such a way that it should be relatively straightforward to sneak past enemies, only picking them off when we are able to.

Deck One Starting Hand:
Gather Information
The Fall of Gil-galad
The Shirefolk
Hobbit Pipe
Hobbit Cloak

We’ll drop our threat immediately, knocking us down into secrecy, though I do not actually have any qualifying cards in my deck. Which is a shame, because with Gather Information I could have dug it out immediately. I would have mulliganed aggressively for this side-quest, but am delighted to see it in my opening hand

Deck Two
Threat: 25
Bilbo Baggins (Tactics)
Faramir (Lore)
Folco Boffin

This is where most of the damage will be coming from. We’re going to keep as many enemies in the staging area as possible so Faramir will have his attack boosted a fair bit. And Bilbo will be able to negate the threat of the most imposing enemy in the staging area, helping us put down as much progress as we possibly can as fast as we can.

Deck Two Starting Hand:
Song of Battle
Love of Tales
Rivendell Minstrel
Heed the Dream
Feint

With this we can start making the most of our songs with Love of Tales and the Song of Battle. Hopefully we can get a steady stream of resources going as quickly as possible.

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

Turn No.1
Stage: 1A
Active Location: N/A
Staging Area:
The Two Watchers (location) (-/-, 2 threat)
Topmost Chamber (0/1, 1 threat)
Wraith on Wings (0 threat)
Wraith on Wings* (0 threat)

Resource Phase
Deck One Hand (New Card in Bold):
Sam (1), Pippin (1), Fatty (1)
Gather Information, The Fall of Gil-galad, The Shirefolk, Hobbit Pipe, Hobbit Cloak, Renewed Friendship

With all the attachments Deck Two has to offer, I’m sure this will find use before too long.

Deck Two Hand:
Bilbo (1), Faramir (1), Folco (1)
Song of Battle, Love of Tales, Rivendell Minstrel, Heed the Dream, Feint, Fast Hitch

This is brilliant. Now we’ll throw this on Sam and A Heavy Burden will not hamper us for the duration of the quest

Planning Phase
Deck One:
Gather Information (Moving on from this stage isn’t dependent on progress placed in the main quest, so we’ll do our best to get this done in one shot.)
Hobbit Pipe-Pippin (From now on, almost every time we lower our threat, we’ll get to draw at least one card as well)
The Shirefolk. Trigger Hobbit Pipe to allow Deck One to draw a card (Exactly like so.): Northern Tracker (Once we get this guy out, locations in the staging area should prove less of a threat)
Hobbit Cloak-Sam (Can’t be too careful. Against the right enemy, Sam now has 5 defense. That should do for now)

Deck Two:
Love of Tales-Faramir (Now every time a song is played, Faramir gains a resource)
Song of Battle-Faramir. Trigger Love of Tales to give Faramir a resource (And since he’s getting that extra resource, it makes sense that Faramir can pay for both spheres)
Heed the Dream. Deck Two: Fast Hitch, The Great Hunt, Dagger of Westernesse, Bywater Shirriff, Great Yew Bow (We would love either the Great Yew Bow or the Dagger for Faramir, but I think we’ll go for the latter to maximise our damage output) Deck Two adds Dagger of Westernesse to his hand and shuffles his deck
Dagger of Westernesse-Faramir (Now he’s currently attacking for 5, maybe 6 depending on the enemy, which is not insignificant.)
Fast Hitch-Sam (We need to make use of Sam’s willpower in this quest, it is too significant to really go without)

Trigger A Heavy Burden to exhaust Sam. Exhaust Fast Hitch to ready Sam.

We’ll be doing this from now until the end of the quest.

Quest Phase
Place 1 resource on Wraith on Wings and Wraith on Wings* (1 resource)

Gather Information is the active quest

Sam-3
Pippin-2
Bilbo-1
-Trigger Bilbo to choose Wraith on Wings and give Bilbo an extra 1 willpower
Folco-2

Total willpower: 9

1: Pursed by the Enemy. Trigger Doomed 1. (Because we’ve no enemies engaged with us, other than the threat raise we mostly can ignore this. Except that it surges, so there is that.) Trigger Surge.
1.2: Drawn to the Ring. (We could either exhaust The One Ring and reveal an extra encounter card, or we get an enemy engaged with us. I think I’ll prefer the latter so that we can be better assured of questing successfully). Discard cards from the Encounter Deck: Orc of Mordor. Trigger Orc of Mordor to exhaust Fatty. Trigger Sam to ready him. (Well that didn’t take long. And now our emergency valve is exhausted. But at least now Sam has his willpower boosted for us.)
2: Wounded Uruk (2 threat). Deal 2 damage to Wounded Uruk. (Thankfully it is a wee bit until he can engage us, so we’ll need to make the most of it)

Total threat: 6

Total willpower: 10

(And we’ve done it, without resorting to using our emergency valves of Fatty or Last of the Company.)

Complete Gather Information and add it to the Victory Display. Trigger Gather Information. Deck One: Steward of Gondor (It’ll be a turn or two before we can afford this, but once we can our resource problems will be done). Deck Two: Great Yew Bow. (And now Faramir can pick off enemies in the staging area each turn.) Trigger Bilbo to deal 1 damage to Wraith on Wings (11/12)

Travel Phase
Travel to The Two Watchers (location). Trigger The Two Watchers to flip it to its enemy side and move it to the staging area.

We will need to deal with this guy as soon as we possibly can. We have no ready defenders that we can afford to spare, lest we lose a hero.

Encounter Phase
We’ll leave everyone else up top for now, thank you.

Combat Phase
[Deck One defense]
Shadow Card dealt to The Two Watchers (enemy)
No defenders declared
Echoing Passage revealed as Shadow
The Two Watchers attacks (5), increases Deck One’s threat by 5

That really stung. He cannot be allowed to survive for long.

Shadow Card dealt to Orc of Mordor
Sam defends (5)
Uruk Soldier revealed as Shadow
Orc of Mordor attacks (4), deals no damage

Hopefully if we can defend against this guy next turn and we can pick him off with Faramir.

[Deck Two defense]
Shadow Card dealt to The Two Watchers
No defenders declared
Bloodied Courtyard revealed as Shadow
The Two Watchers attacks (5), increases Deck Two’s threat by 5

Now it’s our turn!

[Deck Two attacks]
The Two Watchers:
Faramir attacks (8), destroys The Two Watchers (enemy) and adds it to the victory display.

Complete Stage 1, advance to Stage 2. Trigger Stage 2A, shuffle the encounter discard pile into the encounter deck and discard cards from the encounter deck until 2 enemies are discarded and added to the encounter deck. Evil Vigilance, Winding Stairs, Uruk Soldier, Followed by Night, Echoing Passage, Drawn to the Ring, Echoing Passage, Snaga Archer

That’s a fair bit of threat there in the staging area, we’ll need to step up our willpower, and quickly. At least there’s a variety of enemies so it’s likely we’ll get one discarded because of the Forced Effect on Stage 2B.

Refresh Phase
Raise each player’s threat by 1
Deck One: 26
Deck Two: 34

Turn No.2
Stage: 2B (0/18)
Active Location: N/A
Staging Area:
Topmost Chamber (0/1, 1 threat)
Wraith on Wings (1 threat)
Wraith on Wings* (1 threat)
Wounded Uruk (2 threat)
Uruk Soldier (3 threat)
Snaga Archer (2 threat)

Resource Phase
Deck One Hand (New Card in Bold):
Sam (1), Pippin (2), Fatty (2)
Fall of Gilgalad, Renewed Friendship, Northern Tracker, Steward of Gondor, Song of Hope

Once we get Steward of Gondor out, this can really accelerate our willpower on an as-needed basis.

Deck Two Hand:
Bilbo (1), Faramir (1), Folco (1)
Rivendell Minstrel, Feint, Great Yew Bow, Song of Wisdom

I think this should actually go on Sam, so that when we get a second Love of Tales, his willpower boosts can become ever more reliable.

Planning Phase
Deck One:
Song of Hope-Sam (This is more so that when we get Fire-side Song out Sam can get an extra willpower. And give Faramir a resource. And this will keep piling on the willpower as well once Steward gets out next turn) Exhaust Love of Tales to give Faramir a resource
Northern Tracker (There aren’t any eligible locations in the staging area just now, so for now it is just 1 willpower this guy is contributing, but every little helps)

Deck Two:
Song of Wisdom-Sam (Again, Sam will need as many resources out as possible with that Song of Hope there, so this is setting up a future Love of Tales. It also allows us to do this…)
Deck One plays Renewed Friendship and reduces Deck Two’s threat by 2 (Not often this sees play in modern decks, but I must confess to still having a soft spot for it)

Rivendell Minstrel: Swift and Strong (We won’t be able to play it this turn, but it’ll be really handy to have in the future. Also we need to crank up our willpower as quickly as possible, so an extra 2 willpower is definitely welcome.)

Trigger A Heavy Burden to exhaust Sam. Exhaust Fast Hitch to ready Sam.

Quest Phase
Place 1 resource on Wraith on Wings and Wraith on Wings* (2 resources)

Trigger Stage 2B: Deep Shadows, Torch-lit Hall, Echoing Passage, Drawn to the Ring, Bloodied Courtyard, Weight of the Ring, Uruk Soldier. Discard Uruk Soldier from the encounter deck and from the staging area.

Well that worked out quite nicely. I would have preferred the Snaga Archer to get rid of the Archery we’ll be facing in the Combat Phase, but beggars and choosers and all that.

Sam-3
Pippin-2
Northern Tracker-1
Bilbo-1
-Trigger Bilbo to choose Wraith on Wings and give Bilbo 2 extra willpower
Folco Boffin-2
Rivendell Minstrel-2

Total willpower: 13

1: Torch-lit Hall (2 threat) (We’ll probably travel here next. This replicates the effect of Stage 2B, and given the enemies that we’ve already had (two Uruk Soldiers, one Snaga Archer, Wounded Uruk and an Orc of Mordor), there is a 50% chance we will pull either a Snaga Archer or Wounded Uruk, as opposed to another Orc of Mordor, Uruk Soldier or Gorbag. I’ll take those odds, especially if it means potentially getting rid of that Snaga Archer before he can hit us with his Archery)
2: Winding Stairs (2 threat) (It looks like it’s a good thing we’ve got out our Northern Tracker, we want to stay ahead of location lock if at all possible)

Trigger Last of the Company to raise Deck One’s threat by 1 to reduce the threat contributed by Snaga Archer to 0.

Total threat: 11

Win by 2, place 2 progress on Stage 2B (2/18). Trigger Bilbo to deal 1 damage to Wraith on Wings (10/12)

And slowly we chip away at this Nazgul. We’ll need to take him down before his threat truly becomes problematic

Travel Phase
Travel to Torch-lit Hall (0/3). Discard cards from the encounter deck until an enemy is revealed: Drawn to the Ring, Bloodied Courtyard, Winding Stairs, Evil Vigilance, Wounded Uruk. Discard Wounded Uruk from the staging area.

Well at least we lost one of the enemies in the staging area, though not exactly the one we were after. We’ll take it though.

Encounter Phase
And we’ll leave everything else in the staging area for now.

Combat Phase
Trigger Archery 2, deal 1 damage to Faramir and Folco. (Neither of these guys will every be used to defend, so we can use their hitpoints to soak up some Archery)

[Deck One defends]
Shadow Card dealt to Orc of Mordor
Fatty defends (2)
Orc of Mordor revealed as Shadow (We have no ready characters so this essentially does nothing)
Orc of Mordor attacks (3), deals 1 damage to Fatty (1/3)

If we find a Hobbit Cloak for Fatty, he’ll turn into a pretty decent defender with 4 defense against most enemies in this quest.

[Deck Two attacks]
Orc of Mordor:
Faramir attacks (6), destroys Orc of Mordor

And that takes care of that.

Refresh Phase
Raise each player’s threat by 1
Deck One: 28
Deck Two: 33

Turn No.3
Stage: 2B (2/18)
Active Location: Torch-lit Hall (0/3)
Staging Area:
Topmost Chamber (0/1, 1 threat)
Wraith on Wings (2 threat)
Wraith on Wings* (2 threat)
Snaga Archer (2 threat)
Winding Stairs (0/4, 2 threat)

Resource Phase
Deck One Hand (New Card in Bold):
Sam (2), Pippin (1), Fatty (1)
The Fall of Gil-galad, Steward of Gondor, Brace of Coneys

We have 2 real choices here, reduce our threat or draw 2 cards. With Steward about to come into play we are just about to have our resource problems taken care of.

Deck Two Hand:
Bilbo (1), Faramir (1), Folco (1)
Feint, Great Yew Bow, Swift and Strong, Robin Smallburrow

With 2 willpower for 2 cost, this is an excellent ally for this point in the quest.

Planning Phase
Deck One:
Steward of Gondor-Sam (This really is the obvious choice. As the only hero who can pay for Leadership cards, we need to keep their resources out of the red. And with Song of Hope, we’ll be turning unused resources into willpower)
Brace of Coneys: Reduce Deck One’s threat by 2 and add Brace of Coneys to the Victory Display. Trigger Hobbit Pipe to allow Deck One to draw a card: Bill the Pony (There he is! Now while his extra willpower is always welcome, the ability to allow our hobbits to soak up even more Archery is where things will really help)
Exhaust Steward of Gondor to give Sam 2 resources
Bill the Pony (And if worst comes to the worst, our Bill can soak up an attack for us)

Deck Two:
Robin Smallburrow (And I’m afraid that will be it for now. No songs or card draw this time, but a most worthwhile ally nonetheless. And as much as I would love to get Great Yew Bow In there, we need the willpower more at this point)

Trigger A Heavy Burden to exhaust Sam. Exhaust Fast Hitch to ready Sam.

Quest Phase
Place 1 resource on Wraith on Wings and Wraith on Wings* (3 resources)

Trigger Stage 2B: Evil Vigilance, Pursued by the Enemy, Orc of Mordor

That didn’t take long. And I believe that’s the last Orc of Mordor in the encounter deck for now.

Sam-3
-Trigger Song of Hope: spend 2 resources to give Sam 2 extra willpower
Pippin-2
Northern Tracker-1
-Trigger Northern Tracker to place 1 progress on Winding Stairs (1/4)
Bill the Pony-1
Bilbo-1
-Trigger Bilbo to choose Wraith on Wings and give 3 extra willpower to Bilbo
Folco-2
Rivendell Minstrel-2
Robin Smallburrow-2

Total willpower: 19

1: Bloodied Courtyard (3 threat) (With this as the active location, enemies in the staging area will be even more vulnerable to Bilbo’s direct damage)
2: Torch-lit Hall* (2 threat) (Good grief, we are having locations thrown at us thick and fast. It’s a good thing we have our Northern Tracker out, though we could really do with the second one out as well)

Raise Deck One’s threat by 1 to trigger Last of the Company and reduce the threat contributed by Wraith on Wings to 0.

Total threat: 13

Win by 5, explore Torch-lit Hall and place 3 progress on Stage 2B (5/18). Trigger Bilbo to deal 1 damage to Wraith on Wings (9/12)

Not bad at all, but we really do need to step up our game, and quickly if we are to survive the amount of enemies surely coming our way.

Travel Phase
Raise each player’s threat by 1 to travel to Bloodied Courtyard (0/4)

This is contributing the most threat, and so this is the best place we can travel to.

Encounter Phase
We’ll engage Orc of Mordor with Deck One to save Deck Two taking an undefended attack

Deck One engages Orc of Mordor. Trigger Orc of Mordor to exhaust Fatty. Trigger Sam.

Combat Phase
Trigger Archery 2. Deal 1 damage to Bilbo and Faramir.

We need to take out this archer sooner rather than later

[Deck One defends]
Shadow Card dealt to Orc of Mordor
Sam defends (5)
Snaga Archer revealed as Shadow
Orc of Mordor attacks (4), deals no damage

Now let’s take him out

[Deck Two attacks]
Orc of Mordor:
Faramir attacks (6), destroys Orc of Mordor

It’s so satisfying when you can pick off an enemy with one shot, though it is a rare occurrence in this game

Refresh Phase
Raise each player’s threat by 1
Deck One: 28
Deck Two: 35

Turn No.4
Stage: 2B (5/18)
Active Location: Bloodied Courtyard (0/4)
Staging Area:
Topmost Chamber (0/1, 1 threat)
Wraith on Wings (3 threat)
Wraith on Wings* (3 threat)
Snaga Archer (2 threat)
Winding Stairs (1/4, 2 threat)

Resource Phase
Deck One Hand (New Card in Bold):
Sam (1), Pippin (2), Folco (2)
The Fall of Gil-galad, A Test of Will

I don’t imagine it will be long before this sees play in all honesty.

Deck Two Hand:
Bilbo (2), Faramir (1), Folco (1)
Great Yew Bow, Swift and Strong, Secret Vigil

Some threat reduction is exactly what we need right now.

Planning Phase
Exhaust Steward of Gondor to give Sam 2 resources

Deck One:
The Fall of Gil-galad-Sam (This isn’t prophetic or anything, just an extra song to allow Faramir to gain a resource and fuel Fireside Song). Exhaust Love of Tales to give a resource to Faramir

Deck Two:
Great Yew Bow-Faramir (We are really needing to strike into the staging area, and this is just what we need)
Secret Vigil-Snaga Archer (While the threat reduction will be nice, The questing help this provides is also appreciated)

Trigger A Heavy Burden to exhaust Sam. Exhaust Fast Hitch to ready Sam.

Quest Phase
Place 1 resource on Wraith on Wings and Wraith on Wings* (4 resources)

Trigger Stage 2B: Lust for the Ring, Gorbag (Ah, shoot. Well it’s been fun guys). Trigger Bloodied Courtyard to deal 1 damage to Gorbag (4/5)

Sam-3
-Trigger Song of Hope: spend 3 resources to give Sam 3 extra willpower
Pippin-2
Northern Tracker-1
-Trigger Northern Tracker to place 1 progress on Winding Stairs (2/4) and Torch-lit Hall* (1/3)
Bill the Pony-1
Bilbo-1
-Trigger Bilbo to choose Wraith on Wings and give 4 extra willpower to Bilbo
Folco-2
Rivendell Minstrel-2
Robin Smallburrow-2

Total willpower: 21

1: Snaga Archer* (2 threat). (Brilliant, more Archery we need to deal with.) Trigger Bloodied Courtyard to deal 1 damage to Snaga Archer (2/3)
2: Wounded Uruk (2 threat) Place 2 damage on Wounded Uruk. Trigger Bloodied Courtyard to deal 1 damage to Wounded Uruk (1/4)

Raise Deck One’s threat by 1 to trigger Last of the Company and reduce the threat contributed by Wraith on Wings to 0.

Total threat: 17

Win by 4, explore Bloodied Courtyard and place no progress on Stage 2B (5/18). Trigger Bilbo to deal 1 damage to Wraith on Wings (8/12)

Much too slowly are we getting there. Soon we may have serious concerns about our threat

Travel Phase
We only have one option as we need to keep Faramir ready to attack for us. To the Torch-lit Hall*!

Travel to Torch-lit Hall (1/3). Discard cards from the encounter deck until an enemy is revealed: Orcish Howls, Uruk Soldier. Add Uruk Soldier to the staging area. (That’s a nasty beefy enemy. You’ll have to go sooner rather than later my friend)

And in other news, that an empty encounter deck.

Encounter Phase
Deck One optionally engages Wounded Uruk. Trigger Wounded Uruk to give it 2 extra attack until the end of the round. Trigger Sam.

This is to allow Deck Two to escape having to deal with his attacks.

Combat Phase
Trigger Archery 4. Deal 1 damage to Bill the Pony, Northern Tracker, Robin Smallburrow and Pippin.

[Deck One defense]
No Shadow Card dealt to Wounded Uruk
Sam defends (5)
Wounded Uruk attacks (5), deals no damage

Now watch this here.

[Deck Two attacks]
Wounded Uruk:
Faramir attacks (9) destroys Wounded Uruk

And now for the good part…

Deck Two exhausts Dagger of Westernesse to play Swift and Strong

Gorbag:
Faramir attacks (10), destroys Gorbag. Add him to the Victory Display.

We went after Gorbag instead of a Nazgul because we could guarantee the kill. We couldn’t have finished off a Wraith in one shot, not anyway yet, so our threat in the staging area would be no worse off. Instead Gorbag is taken out of the picture permanently.

Refresh Phase
Raise each player’s threat by 1
Deck One: 30
Deck Two: 36

Turn No.5
Stage: 2B (5/18)
Active Location: Torch-lit Hall* (1/3)
Staging Area:
Topmost Chamber (0/1, 1 threat)
Wraith on Wings (4 threat)
Wraith on Wings* (4 threat)
Snaga Archer (2 threat)
Winding Stairs (2/4, 2 threat)
Snaga Archer* (2 threat)
Uruk Soldier (3 threat)

Resource Phase
Deck One Hand (New Card in Bold):
Sam (1), Pippin (3), Fatty (2)
A Test of Will, Hobbit Pipe

Well it doesn’t do anything for us yet, but we’re investing in the future here.

Deck Two Hand:
Bilbo (1), Faramir (1), Folco (2)
Drinking Song

Given this is the only card in our hand, we will get only 1 new card and 1 resource out of it.

Planning Phase
Exhaust Steward of Gondor to give Sam 2 resources

Deck One:
Hobbit Pipe-Sam (Again, just waiting for that threat reduction)

Deck Two:
Drinking Song. Exhaust Love of Tales to give Faramir 1 resource. Draw 1 card: Rivendell Minstrel. (Excellent, and she can fetch another song for us)
Rivendell Minstrel* (Of course the extra willpower is also really helpful). Trigger Rivendell Minstrel*: Swift and Strong (I love this event, I think it is brilliant for helping clear out your board of enemies)

Trigger A Heavy Burden to exhaust Sam. Exhaust Fast Hitch to ready Sam.

Quest Phase
Reset the encounter deck.

Place 1 resource on Wraith on Wings and Wraith on Wings* (5 resources)

Well at least now they can’t get any worse from here on out

Trigger Stage 2B: Torch-lit Hall, Evil Vigilance, Bloodied Courtyard, Echoing Passage, Pursued by the Enemy, Snaga Archer

Yes! Goodbye Archery! Now we do lose the chance to drop our threat with Secret Vigil, but we’re willing to take that to get rid of this pernicious direct damage.

Sam-3
-Trigger Song of Hope: spend 3 resources to give Sam 3 extra willpower
Pippin-2
Northern Tracker-1
-Trigger Northern Tracker to place 1 progress on Winding Stairs (3/4)
Bill the Pony-1
Bilbo-1
-Trigger Bilbo to choose Wraith on Wings and give 5 extra willpower to Bilbo
Folco-2
Rivendell Minstrel-2
Robin Smallburrow-2

Total willpower: 22

We won’t quest with the second Rivendell Minstrel so that we have an extra character to exhaust in order that we can travel to Winding Stairs this turn.

1: Drawn to the Ring (Given that we’re relatively set up to defend an enemy with Sam, I think we’ll engage an enemy instead of going for another encounter card) Discard cards from the Encounter Deck: Bloodied Courtyard, Wounded Uruk. Wounded Uruk engages Deck One. Trigger Wounded Uruk to deal it 2 damage. Trigger Sam
2: Winding Stairs* (2 threat) (This is actually not a bad draw. We can travel here this turn and have Northern Tracker get rid of the other one at the same time)

Raise Deck One’s threat by 1 to trigger Last of the Company and reduce the threat contributed by Wraith on Wings to 0.

Total threat: 13

Total willpower: 23

Win by 10, explore Torch-lit Hall and place 8 progress on Stage 2B (13/18). Trigger Bilbo to deal 1 damage to Wraith on Wings (7/12)

Hey, we’re getting there. It’s taken much longer than I thought, but we’re getting there.

Travel Phase
Exhaust Fatty and Rivendell Minstrel* to travel to Winding Stairs*

This has 4 quest points, which is not insignificant, but it shouldn’t be enough to slow us down too much.

Encounter Phase
And we’ll leave everyone else up there for now, thank you very much.

Combat Phase
No Archery this time! Huzzah!

[Deck One defense]
Shadow Card dealt to Wounded Uruk
Sam defends (5)
Wounded Uruk revealed as Shadow
Wounded Uruk attacks (7), deals 2 to Sam (2/4)

That stung a bit, thank goodness we have Bill our to give our Hobbits that safetynet of an extra hitpoint

[Deck Two attacks]
Wounded Uruk:
Faramir attacks (6), destroys Wounded Uruk
Deck Two plays Swift and Strong and exhausts Dagger of Westernesse to ready Faramir.

And now we get to attack again.

Wraith on Wings:
Exhaust Great Yew Bow to allow Faramir to attack into the staging area
Faramir attacks (9), deals 5 damage to Wraith on Wings (2/12)

We’ve almost got him, but that 4 defense the Wraith has is staggeringly high for an enemy

Refresh Phase
Raise each player’s threat by 1
Deck One: 33
Deck Two: 37

Turn No.6
Stage: 2B (13/18)
Active Location: Winding Stairs* (0/4)
Staging Area:
Topmost Chamber (0/1, 1 threat)
Wraith on Wings (5 threat)
Wraith on Wings* (5 threat)
Winding Stairs (3/4, 2 threat)
Uruk Soldier (3 threat)

Resource Phase
Deck One Hand (New Card in Bold):
Sam (1), Pippin (4), Fatty (3)
A Test of Will, The Galadhrim’s Greeting

We’ll use this to trigger our Hobbit pipes and get some card draw as well as the threat reduction

Deck Two Hand:
Bilbo (2), Faramir (1), Folco (1)
Gaffer Gamgee

This really is an amazing ally. You don’t need to exhaust him for his effect to trigger, and he returns to your hand so you can play him again the next turn. He is going straight in there.

Planning Phase
Exhaust Steward of Gondor to give Sam 2 resources

Deck One:
The Galdhrim’s Greeting: Lower each player’s threat by 2 (Both need the reduction, but now I can also do this). Exhaust 2 Hobbit Pipes to draw 2 cards: Elevenses, Fireside Song (Finally we see Fireside Song, which will be sure to accelerate our willpower into powerful levels. We’ll save Elevenses for next turn so we can make the most of our Hobbit Pipes)
Fireside Song-Sam (He’s now got 4 songs on him, giving him at least 7 willpower in addition to what we get from Song of Hope) Exhaust Love of Tales to give Faramir 1 resource

Deck Two:
Gaffer Gamgee (We’ll use his willpower while we can, but his true value comes from his ability to save us from an attack when we cannot cope with it)

Quest Phase
Trigger A Heavy Burden to exhaust Sam. Exhaust Fast Hitch to ready Sam.

Trigger Stage 2B: Orc of Mordor (Well that didn’t take long. He’s going to be engaging us this turn so we need to be ready for him.)

Sam-7
-Pay 3 resources to give Sam 3 extra willpower

Pippin-2
Bill-1
Northern Tracker-1
-Trigger Northern Tracker to place 1 progress on Winging Stairs and explore it
Bilbo-1
-Trigger Bilbo to choose Wraith on Wings and give 5 extra willpower to Bilbo
Folco-2
Rivendell Minstrel-2
Rivendell Minstrel-2
Robin Smallburrow-2
Gaffer Gamgee-1

Total willpower: 29

1: Evil Vigilance (We’re not going to stand for this, we’ll cancel this I think). Deck One plays A Test of Will to cancel Evil Vigilance.
2: Bloodied Courtyard (3 threat) (A nasty amount of threat, though I don’t think it enough to slow us at this time)

Total threat: 18

Win by 11, explore Winding Stairs and place 7 progress on Stage 2B (20/18). Trigger Bilbo to deal 1 damage to Wraith on Wings (1/12)

One more turn and the first Wraith is done. Hopefully the second one won’t take as long.

Travel Phase
Add Shagrat to the staging area to the staging area to travel to Topmost Chamber (0/1)

Soon we shall have Frodo back under our control, but we’d better deal with Shagrat to get our Boons back, if at all we can.

Encounter Phase
Deck One engages Orc of Mordor and exhausts Fatty Bolger.

Unfortunately we have not got a low enough threat so Sam does not trigger here. Fortunately because we have Bill, we should be able to eat an undefended attack.

Combat Phase
[Deck One defense]
Shadow Card dealt to Orc of Mordor
No defenders declared
Torch-lit Hall revealed as Shadow
Orc of Mordor attacks (3), deals 3 damage to Sam (1/4)

We need to keep both Sam, as the Ringbearer, and Bill from keeping any more damage or we shall lose this game.

[Deck Two attacks]
Orc of Mordor:
Faramir attacks (7), destroys Orc of Mordor

Just making sure the Orc of Mordor can’t sting us a second time

Refresh Phase
Raise each player’s threat by 1
Deck One: 31
Deck Two: 35

Turn No.7
Stage: 2B (20/18)
Active Location: Topmost Chamber (0/1)
Staging Area:
Wraith on Wings (5 threat)
Wraith on Wings* (5 threat)
Uruk Soldier (3 threat)
Bloodied Chamber (1/4, 3 threat)
Shagrat (4 threat)

Resource Phase
Deck One Hand (New Card in Bold):
Sam (1), Pippin (1), Fatty (2)
Elevenses, The Shirefolk

Most excellent, this hefty threat drop is exactly what we need right now.

Deck Two Hand:
Bilbo (3), Faramir (2), Folco (1)
Heed the Dream

We’ll use this to dig out exactly what we’re after, probably some threat reduction, but we’ll see what we get

Planning Phase
Deck One:
Exhaust Steward of Gondor to give Sam 2 resources
The Shirefolk. Exhaust both copies of Hobbit Pipe to draw 2 cards: Smoke Rings, Wandering Took (We might use the former next turn to pump our willpower a little bit, and use the ally as an extra body of defending attacks)

Wandering Took (He can also reduce our threat in an emergency to avoid last turn’s situation with the Orc of Mordor)

Deck Two:
Heed the Dream: Feint, Ranger Spikes, Secret Vigil, The Searching Eye, Dagger of Westernesse (Of the five of these, most of which would be really useful, barring the exception of Searching Eye for obvious reasons, I think we need Secret Vigil the most here to try and make sure we drop our threat as much as we can.) Deck One plays 3 Leadership resources to allow Deck Two to search their deck for a card and add it to their hand: Gather Information. Shuffle the deck. (Since we already have the most amount of progress we can get of Stage 2B, there’s no better time to do another side-quest)

Gather Information (If we can get this to work, this essentially means that we have allowed Heed the Dream to count for both decks)

Secret Vigil-Uruk Soldier (If we can snipe him this turn we will drop both Decks’ threat, but of course this means we’ll almost certainly see a second Uruk Soldier appear because of Stage 2B and lose our Secret Vigil again)

Quest Phase
Gather Information is the active quest.

Trigger Stage 2B: Orcish Howls, Wounded Uruk. Trigger Wounded Uruk and deal it 2 damage (2/4)

Not the worst, we should be guaranteed getting off our Secret Vigil this turn now.

Sam-7
Pippin-2
Fatty-1
Wandering Took-1
Northern Tracker-1
-Trigger Norther Tracker to place 1 progress on Bloodied Courtyard (1/4)
Bill-1
Bilbo-1
-Trigger Bilbo to choose Wraith on Wings and give Bilbo 5 extra willpower
Folco-2
Rivendell Minstrel-2
Rivendell Minstrel*-2
Robin Smallburrow-2
Gaffer Gamgee-1

Total willpower: 28

1: Drawn to the Ring (I was hoping we wouldn’t get this. Now we’ll meet with yet another enemy face to face, because we’re not risking a random encounter card). Trigger Drawn to the Ring: Orc of Mordor. (Ah, my old nemesis). Orc of Mordor engages Deck One. (Now because Forced happens before Response, Sam can ready after the Orc of Mordor engages us and not be negatively affected). Trigger Sam.
2: Winding Stairs (2 threat) (Not terrible, but things are getting pretty close with our willpower tally)

Total threat: 23

Now we want our willpower to be as exact as possible to avoid Shagrat coming down and engaging us before we are ready. Bear in mind that Sam got his boosted by getting engaged by the Orc of Mordor.

Deck One plays Elevenses to ready Wandering Took and remove him from the quest. Deck One lowers his threat by 1.

Total willpower: 28

Win by 5, explore Topmost Chamber and add it to the victory display. Complete Gather Information. Deck One: The Shirefolk. Deck Two: Swift and Strong. (Threat reduction and combat advantage. What’s not to love?). Deck One takes control of Frodo Baggins. Reduce the engagement cost of Shagrat by 4.

Are you following all this? Because there’s more!

Complete Stage 2B. Trigger Stage 3A. Add Last of the Company to the victory display, attach The One Ring and A Heavy Burden to Frodo and exhaust him. Deck One moves The Two Watchers (location) from the victory display and adds it to the staging area. Deck Two reveals a card from the top of the encounter deck: Echoing Passage. Trigger The Tower of Cirinth Ungol Campaign Card: attach Phial of Galadriel and Mithril Shirt to Shagrat.

Still here? We’re not quite done yet.

Trigger Bilbo to destroy Wraith on Wings and add it to the victory display.

And now we’re done. You can breath.

Travel Phase
Let’s get the most threat out of the staging area that we can, while still guaranteeing we can actually complete it in one sitting.

Raise each player’s threat by 1 to travel to Bloodied Courtyard (1/4)

Encounter Phase
Deck One optionally engages Wounded Uruk. Trigger Sam, trigger Wounded Uruk. (We need to get an enemy out of the staging area, but did it this way to make sure Deck One’s threat stays down so we can use Sam’s Hobbit Cloak.)

Combat Phase
[Deck One defense]
Shadow Card dealt to Wounded Uruk
Sam defends (6)
Uruk Soldier revealed as Shadow
Wounded Uruk attacks (6), deals no damage

Just the other one left

Shadow Card dealt to Orc of Mordor
Wandering Took defends (1)
Echoing Passage revealed as Shadow
Orc of Mordor attacks (3), deals 2 damage to Wandering Took (1/3)

Here, with 3 hitpoints this Took is surprisingly beefy.

[Deck Two attacks]
Exhaust Great Yew Bow to allow Faramir to attack into the staging area
Uruk Soldier:
Faramir attacks (7), destroys Uruk Soldier. Trigger Secret Vigil to reduce each player’s threat by 3.

Home stretch I think. Or at least I hope.

Refresh Phase
Raise each player’s threat by 1
Deck One: 25
Deck Two: 34

And for the first time in the game, the first player token moves on to Deck Two.

Turn No.8
Stage: 3B (0/12)
Active Location: Bloodied Courtyard (1/4)
Staging Area:
Wraith on Wings* (5 threat)
The Two Watchers (location) (-/-, 6 threat)
Winding Stairs (0/4, 2 threat)
Echoing Passage (0/5, 3 threat)

Resource Phase
Deck Two Hand (New Card in Bold):
Frodo (1), Bilbo (3), Faramir (3), Folco (1)
Swift and Strong, Unseen Strike

At long last! We could have done with this a great while back.

Deck One Hand:
Sam (1), Pippin (1), Fatty (2)
Smoke Rings, The Shirefolk, Halfast Gamgee

It’s the last of the family! An ally with more than 1 willpower is certainly appreciated.

Planning Phase
Deck Two:

…and that’s all folks!

Deck One:
Exhaust Steward of Gondor to give Sam 2 resources.
The Shirefolk. Trigger both copies of Hobbit Pipe to draw 2 cards: Song of Hope, Merry.
Song of Hope-Bilbo. Trigger Love of Tales to give Faramir a resource. (Now we can make use of these spare resources going to waste)
Halfast Gamgee. Trigger Halfast to give Sam 1 resource. (With 2 side-quests completed, this is pretty much a free ally right here. That is a quality purchase)
Merry. Trigger Merry. (All the big names are coming back!)

Trigger A Heavy Burden to raise each player’s threat by 1.

Right now we need every cent of willpower thrown at the quest, I’m willing to take the hit on the threat.

Quest Phase
Here we go.

Exhaust The One Ring to give Sam a resource.

Frodo-2
Sam-7
-Spend 2 resources to give Sam 2 extra willpower
Pippin-2
Fatty-1
Halfast-3
Bill-2
Merry-3
Bilbo-1
-Trigger Bilbo to choose Wraith on Wings* and give Bilbo 5 extra willpower. Spend 3 resources to give Bilbo 3 extra willpower
Folco-2
Rivendell Minstrel-2
Rivendell Minstrel*-2
Robin Smallburrow-2
Gaffer Gamgee-1

Total willpower: 40

1: Uruk Soldier (3 threat) (For goodness sake, I thought we just got rid of you!) Trigger Bloodied Courtyard to deal Uruk Soldier 1 damage (4/5)
2: Orcish Howls (I’ve got to admit, this quest absolutely hits the theme on the head. A bit like it’s trying to do to me really). Deal 1 damage to Wraith on Wings* (11/12) and Uruk Soldier (3/5)

Total threat: 27

And now for the trump card!

Deck One plays Smoke Rings to decrease Deck One’s threat by 2 and give Fatty and Pippin 1 extra willpower each.

Total willpower: 42

Win by 15. Explore Bloodied Courtyard and place 12 progress on Stage 3B (12/12). Trigger Bilbo to deal 1 damage to Wraith on Wings* (10/12). Reduce Shagrat’s engagement cost by 12.

This means he will be able to come down and engage Deck Two, so we’d better be careful.

Travel Phase
Let’s get this done with then.

Travel to The Two Watchers (location). Trigger The Two Watchers to flip it to its enemy side and move it to the staging area.

I reckon we can survive 2 turns tops of The Watchers’ attacks before we have to threat out. We’d better move fast.

Encounter Phase
Deck Two engages Shagrat

It had to happen. But I have a plan.

Combat Phase
[Deck Two defends]
Shadow Card dealt to The Two Watchers (enemy)
No defenders declared
Followed by Night revealed as Shadow
The Two Watchers attacks (5), increase Deck Two’s threat by 5

It’s now or never. The second Wraith is about to descend.

Shadow Card dealt to Shagrat
Return Gaffer Gamgee to Deck Two’s hand to choose Shagrat. He cannot attack Deck Two this turn.

[Deck One defends]
Shadow Card dealt to The Two Watchers
No defenders declared
Deep Shadows revealed as Shadow
The Two Watchers attacks (5), increase Deck One’s threat by 5

And the worst part is we’re in for a second round

Shadow Card dealt to The Two Watchers
No defenders declared
Deep Shadows revealed as Shadow
The Two Watchers attacks (5), increase Deck One’s threat by 5

A third time! This is dangerous!

Shadow Card dealt to The Two Watchers
No defenders declared
Orcish Howls revealed as Shadow
The Two Watchers attacks (5), destroys Wounded Uruk

Thank goodness for that. We couldn’t have taken another round safely. But then, life is like a box of chocolates…

Shadow Card dealt to Wounded Uruk
Wounded Uruk destroyed by The Two Watchers

That’s all I have to say about that.

Shadow Card dealt to Orc of Mordor
Northern Tracker declared as defender (2)
Orc of Mordor revealed as Shadow (Joke’s on them, everyone is already exhausted!)

[Deck Two attacks]
Deck Two plays Unseen Strike to give Faramir 3 extra attack against enemies with a higher engagement cost than he has threat.

Exhaust Great Yew Bow to allow Faramir to attack into the staging area (I know they’re considered engaged, but he is still in the staging area and so for coolness purposes I get to do this)
The Two Watchers:
Faramir attacks (10), destroy The Two Watchers (enemy) and adds them to the victory display.

At long last we’re done.

Victory

Victory display: Gather Information (1), Brace of Coneys (2), Last of the Company (0), Gorbag (3), Topmost Chamber (2), Gather Information (1), Wraith on Wings (5), The Two Watchers (5)

Score: 30 threat + 40 threat + 80 for turns taken + 3 for damage on Sam + 1 for damage on Pippin + 1 for damage on Fatty + 3 for damage on Faramir + 1 for damage of Bilbo + 1 for damage on Folco – 19 for victory points = 141

Frodo is rescued, and The Ring has entered Mordor. We are on the last steps of our great Saga, and it is all to play for. Things have never been so fraught with danger, and the next two scenarios together will determine whether we win or lose our campaign. Just to make things interesting, I will only attempt Mount Doom once and write the narrative of my story in accordance with the result, whether I am successful or not.

Now, how many of you thought I couldn’t do it? That taking Spirit Pippin and Fatty Bolger was a quick way to the game stomping my butt into the dust? Well you’d be right. This scenario was definitely made more difficult by their presence, and the decks I took to this quest underwent a lot of tuning before they could be made to work as you saw here. A lot. In fact, this is the scenario I had to replay the most so far, and it still wasn’t good enough to save my Boons. If I had another turn, maybe, but with Deck Two’s threat spiraling out of control it was now or never. Did I make the right choice? Should I have held on and risked it or was I right to cut my losses and run? Be sure to let me know, and join us next time when we march on The Black Gate.

Remove Mithril Shirt from the Campaign Pool
Remove Phial of Galadriel from the Campaign Pool

FFG- The Watchers

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