The Black Gate Opens: 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:
Put
Pursued by the EnemyFollowed by Night and Saruman’s Voice into the encounter deck and shuffle it.

Add 2 copies of Wraith on Wings, The Black Gate and The Mouth of Sauron to the staging area. Set Gwaihir aside, out of play.

Player Deck Set-up:
Attach Valiant WarriorIntimidation and Esquire of Rohan to Merry.
Attach Forewarned to Aragorn
Deck One draws opening hand, adds AndurilGlamdring and Poisoned Counsels to his deck
Deck Two draws opening hand, adds Palantir of Orthanc and Poisoned Counsels to his deck.

Deck One
Threat: 17
Merry (Tactics)
Eowyn (Tactics)
Glorfindel (Spirit)

Deck One Starting Hand:
Grimbold
Dagger of Westernesse
Light of Valinor
Unexpected Courage
Keep Watch
Boromir

Excellent cards, one and all. But what we are going to mulligan for, and it is a hard mulligan, is Resourceful. We will be raising our threat by 3 before the game starts, 2 for fallen heroes and 1 to dig out Anduril, so we only have 1 shot to get Resourceful while we are in Secrecy. Let’s go again.

Deck One Mulligan:
Legolas
Light of Valinor
Rivendell Blade
Arwen Undomiel
A Test of Will
Resourceful

There it is. And with this hand we can get the ball moving as there’s not an unwanted card there.

Deck Two
Threat: 30
Beravor
Elladan
Elrohir

Deck Two Starting Hand:
Ranger Summons
Veteran of Osgiliath
Narya
Northern Tracker
Vigilant Dunedain
Ranger Summons

While the temptation is strong to put two Rangers of the North in the encounter deck early on, this time we are searching for Steward of Gondor. Once we get that on Elrohir, he can get a Gondorian Shield and have his ability to defend multiple times fueled throughout the game. We’ll try again.

Deck Two Mulligan:
Ranger of Cardolan
The Storm Comes
Northern Tracker
The Hammer-stroke
Gleowine
Deep Knowledge

Still no Steward, which is a great pity. On the other hand we have been able to dig out The Storm Comes, which ought to help us pay for the bevy of allies we want to bring to the fight.

Deck One raises each player’s threat by one to search his deck for Anduril and add it to his hand.

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

For ourselves we can hope for no victory, but if we can give Frodo enough time to complete his quest, our deaths may not yet be in vain.

Turn No.1
Stage: 1B (-/-)
Active Location: N/A
Staging Area:
The Black Gate (-/-, 0 resources, 0 threat)
The Mouth of Sauron (4 threat)
Wraith on Wings (0 threat)
Wraith on Wings* (0 threat)

Trigger Stage 1B: In player order, each player places the top card of his deck faceup in front of him until their are a total of 4 faceup player cards between the players. Place the top 4 cards of the encounter deck faceup. Starting with the highest cost player card, pair each player card with the highest threat encounter card remaining until their are 4 pairs. For each pair, the first player must choose: either discard both cards in the pair, or reveal the encounter card to play the player card at no cost.

Deck One:Fair and Perilous
Deck Two: Ancestral Armour
Deck One: Prince Imrahil
Deck Two: Ranger Summons
Encounter Deck: Easterling Bowman, Beleaguered Hills, Nazgul of Mordor, Onslaught of Mordor

Now we match them up together. We’ve gotten one or two decent cards here, but we’ll see the lie of the land.

Nazgul of Mordor: Ancestral Armour
Beleaguered Hills: Prince Imrahil
Easterling Bowman: Fair and Perilous
Onslaught of Mordor: Ranger Summons

Of these, while that extra defense would be really nice, I think we need as much willpower as possible. So we’ll take Prince Imrahil and Ranger Summons.

Discard Ancestral Armour and Fair and Perilous to discard Nazgul of Mordor and Easterling Bowman. Put Prince Imrahil into play and play Ranger Summons. Shuffle one copy of Ranger of the North into the encounter deck. Put Beleaguered Hills into play and reveal Onslaught of Mordor.

Advance to Stage 2. Trigger Stage 2A: Each player searches the encounter deck and discard pile for a different Orc, Troll or Nazgul enemy and adds it to the staging area.

Deck One: Orc of Mordor
Deck Two: Snaga Archer

We’re going for these two not only because of their lower threat they’ll contribute to the staging area, but also to avoid the Surge from the Orc of Mordor later on.

Shuffle Gwaihir into the encounter deck.

Resource Phase
Deck One Hand (New Card in Bold):
Aragorn (1), Merry (1), Eowyn (1), Glorfindel (1)
Legolas, Light of Valinor, Rivendell Blade, Arwen Undomiel, A Test of Will, Resourceful, Warrior Sword

Excellent. For my money this is one of the best weapon attachments in the game.

Deck Two Hand:
Beravor (1), Elladan (1), Elrohir (1)
Ranger of Cardolan, The Storm Comes,Northern Tracker, The Hammer-stroke, Gleowine, Deep Knowledge, Hauberk of Mail

Cheap defense boosting is always welcome. Especially if we can make sure it’s on a Sentinel character to get that extra hitpoint.

Planning Phase
Deck One:
Resourceful-Glorfindel (Now we’ll be getting two Spirit and Tactics resources each and every turn.)
Light of Valinor-Glorfindel (And that’s 3 willpower every turn without the need to raise our threat)
Rivendell Blade-Glorfindel (And on top of that he’ll be able to attack for effectively 5 every turn)
Warrior Sword-Merry (We’ll leave it off Eowyn, because she’s largely be using her stats to quest every turn)

Deck Two:
Deep Knowledge. Trigger Doomed 2. Each player draws 2 cards. Deck One: Elrond’s Counsel, Arod (Once we get Arod on Legolas, we’ll be able to start reliably placing progress on locations in the staging area) Deck Two: Celebrian’s Stone, Legacy of Numenor (Extra willpower and sphere smoothing for Aragorn, and a whole pile of resources for everyone. What’s not to like?)
Legacy of Numenor: Trigger Doomed 4. Each player adds 1 resource to each hero that they control.
Celebrian’s Stone-Aragorn (Now he’ll be contributing 4 willpower and can pay for Spirit resources as well)
The Storm Comes (We’ll try and complete this as soon as possible to make sure we can start getting out as many allies as possible as quickly as possible)
Gleowine (Extra card draw to keep us ticking over, as well as some willpower in a pinch)
Exhaust Gleowine to allow Deck One to draw a card: Resourceful (We’ll probably pay the full cost for this, especially as we’ve just gotten an influx from Legacy of Numenor)
Exhaust Beravor to allow Deck Two to draw 2 cards: Fornost Bowman, Heed the Dream (We’ll make good use of the bowman, and while we can’t afford to pay the extra cost, the additional card draw is certainly welcome.)

And we’ll leave it at that. Not a bad start, we’ll have to see how we hold up.

Quest Phase
Add 1 resource to The Black Gate, Wraith on Wings and Wraith on Wings* (1 resource). Trigger The Black Gate to raise each player’s threat by 1.

Every turn we’ll be facing at the bare minimum 3 extra threat in the staging area, until such at time at the Wraiths are slain, which we will need to do as soon as we possibly can.

The Storm Comes is the active quest.

Aragorn-4
Glorfindel-3
Eowyn-4
Merry-2
Prince Imrahil-2
Elladan-2
Elrohir-2

Total willpower: 19

And now to see if we can’t clear this side-quest.

1.1: Jaws of Steel (Definitely not the worst, and certainly better now than later on.) Deal 1 damage to Prince Imrahil (2/3) and Beravor (3/4)
2: Hell-hawk (We don’t want an extra Ringwraith to face will make dealing with the Wraiths on Wings a lot harder to deal with). Attach Hell-hawk to Wraith on Wings

Total threat: 14

Win by 5, complete The Storm Comes and add it to the victory display.

By the skin of our teeth, though I fear we shall never be so fortunate again.

Travel Phase
We need to travel to this location to avoid threat building up too much, but this means we need to engage enemies, something I’m not overly keen on just now. Still, I suppose it can’t be helped.

Deck One engages Snaga Archer and deals 2 damage to Glorfindel (3/5), and Deck Two engages Orc of Mordor to travel to Beleaguered Hills (0/3)

Encounter Phase
N/A

Combat Phase
Trigger Archery 2 to deal 1 damage to Gleowine (1/2) and Beravor (2/4)

Aragorn spends 1 resource to ready himself

That is going to be really useful, we’ll need to get some sort of resource acceleration on him.

[Deck One defense]
Shadow Card dealt to Snaga Archer
Aragorn defends (2). Exhaust Forewarned to discard Shadow
Snaga Archer attacks (4), deals 2 damage to Aragorn (3/5)

Once we get Anduril onto him, Aragorn can counterattack every time he has to defend.

[Deck Two defends]
Shadow Card dealt to Orc of Mordor
No defender declared (We’re going to have to take a bit of a risk, hopefully it pays off)
Wall of Morannon revealed as Shadow
Orc of Mordor attacks (3), deal 3 damage to Elrohir (1/4)

We can’t afford to do that again, but until we get our allies out it may be necessary

[Deck One attacks]
Snaga Archer:
Glorfindel attacks (3), destroys Snaga Archer

Thanks to Rivendell Blade we were able to knock this guy off in one shot.

Refresh Phase
Raise each player’s threat by 1
Deck One: 28
Deck Two: 41

Deck Two needs some serious threat care, and quickly.

Turn No.2
Stage: 2B (-/-)
Active Location: Beleaguered Hills (0/3)
Staging Area:
The Black Gate (-/-, 1 resource, 1 threat)
The Mouth of Sauron (4 threat)
Wraith on Wings (3 threat, 1 resource)
Wraith on Wings* (1 threat, 1 resource)

Resource Phase
Deck Two Hand (New Card in Bold):
Aragorn (2), Beravor (1), Elladan (3), Elrohir (1)
Ranger of Cardolan, Northern Tracker, The Hammer-stroke, Hauberk of Mail, Fornost Bowman, Heed the Dream, Feint

An excellent way to relieve some pressure from us when the enemies come calling, as I fear they soon shall.

Deck One Hand:
Merry (2), Eowyn (2), Glorfindel (3)
Legolas, Arwen, A Test of Will, Anduril, Elrond’s Counsel, Arod, Resourceful, Windfola

A nice little boost for Eowyn, and now we can guarantee she can always be committed to the quest. There are treacheries in this encounter deck that would remove a questing character, so now we can make sure Eowyn will always contributing her willpower.

Planning Phase
Deck Two:
Gleowine exhausts to allow Deck Two to draw a card: Veteran of Osgiliath (Now we’re at 40 threat, this guy is brilliant value for money)
Heed the Dream. Choose Deck Two to search the top five cards of his deck and draw one card: Fornost Bowman, Hauberk of Mail, Gondorian Shield, A Very Good Tale, Deep Knowledge (I’m afraid we really do need to get out as many allies as we possibly can, so we’ll go with A Very Good Tale). Deck Two draws A Very Good Tale and shuffles his deck.
Veteran of Osgiliath (With 2 willpower and defense, and 3 attack to boot, this guy can pitch in wherever he is needed the most)
Hauberk of Mail-Aragorn (Having sentinel means Aragorn will be able to pitch in wherever he is needed most, so giving him an extra point of defense and another hitpoint is really a no-brainer.)

Deck One:
Anduril-Aragorn (First of all, let’s get Aragorn built up. Now he can defend for 4, discard the enemy shadow and counterattack all at once. And we’re going to need every bit of action advantage we can get)
Arwen (2 extra willpower and the ability to throw around an extra point of defense wherever needed easily makes her one of the best allies in the game)
Windfola-Eowyn (Nice wee willpower boost, with some questing protection as gravy)

Quest Phase
Add 1 resource to The Black Gate, Wraith on Wings and Wraith on Wings* (2 resources). Trigger The Black Gate to raise each player’s threat by 1.

We’re going to need to deal with those Wraiths soon, but I’m not sure we’re quite ready yet.

Aragorn-5
Glorfindel-3
Eowyn-5
Merry-2
Arwen-2
-Trigger Arwen to give Aragorn +1 defense until the end of the round
Elladan-2
Veteran of Osgiliath-2

Total willpower: 21

1.1: Towers of the Teeth (6 threat) (Well that’s not what we want at all. Guess where we’re travelling to next turn)
1.2: Rage Filled Him. The Mouth of Sauron makes an immediate attack against Deck Two. (Right, this sting a bit.) Aragorn pays 1 resource to ready himself.
-Shadow Card dealt to The Mouth of Sauron
-Aragorn defends (5)
Saruman’s Voice revealed as Shadow
-The Mouth of Sauron attacks (6), deals 1 damage to Aragorn (3/6) (Not the worst, but Aragorn definitely needs a healer before too long)
2: Warrior of Rhun (1 threat) Trigger Warrior of Rhun to remove Eowyn from the quest. Trigger Windfola to recommit her to the quest. (Now we’re stuck in the worst of worlds. We have not failed to quest successfully, (we win by 2) but we haven’t done well enough to explore Beleaguered Hills. This means Towers of the Teeth is stuck in the staging area, and we don’t really want that thing building up threat in the staging area while we assemble our army.)

Total threat: 19

Win by 2, place 2 progress on Beleaguered Hills (2/3). (Hang on a minute, I forgot about the Hills’s bonus! The threat in the staging area is dropped by 1!)

Total threat: 18

Win by 3, explore Beleaguered Hills.

And we’re clear to travel to the Towers of the Teeth, removing a massive chunk of threat from the staging area.

Travel Phase
Travel to Towers of the Teeth (0/8).

Next planning phase will be interesting, though I think we may be able to get round it. Just bear with us a moment.

Encounter Phase
Deck Two engages Warrior of Rhun. Deck Two pays a resource to put Ranger of Cardolan into play.

Now according to the Rules Reference book, ‘play’ and ‘put into play’ are two separate things, so we can not only get this Ranger in, but hopefully one or two more with A Very Good Tale.

Combat Phase
[Deck Two defense]
Shadow Card dealt to Warrior of Rhun
Elrohir defends (3)
Waste of Dagorlad revealed as Shadow
Warrior of Rhun attacks (4), deals 1 damage to Elrohir (3/4)

We really need to get Elrohir some extra defense, an Ancestral Armour would be perfect.

Shadow Card dealt to Orc of Mordor
Ranger of Cardolan defends (2)
Uruk Soldier revealed as Shadow
Orc of Mordor attacks (4), deals 2 damage to Ranger of Cardolan (1/3)

And now before the refresh phase we’ll get Beravor to do her thing

Exhaust Beravor to allow Deck One to draw 2 cards: Unexpected Courage, Rivendell Blade (These will go very well on our guys. Aragorn will probably get Unexpected Courage so we can make the most of his stats, but I don’t know who might get Rivendell Blade yet)

Refresh Phase
Raise each player’s threat by 1
Deck Two: 43
Deck One: 30

Deck Two exhausts Ranger of Cardolan and Veteran of Osgiliath and plays A Very Good Tale: Guardian of Arnor, Warden of Healing, Favor of the Valar, The Storm Comes, Veteran of Osgiliath. (Well the Veteran is great value for money, so that’s an easy add. The question then comes down to either the Warden of Healing or the Guardian of Arnor. Given the Guardian will be put to work immediately, and he has a healthy pool of hit points, I’d be inclined to go for him over the Warden.) Put Veteran of Osgiliath* and Guardian of Arnor into play, discard the other cards.

Ranger of Cardolan is shuffled into Deck Two’s Deck

Turn No.3
Stage: 2B (-/-)
Active Location: Towers of the Teeth (0/8)
Staging Area:
The Black Gate (-/-, 2 resource, 2 threat)
The Mouth of Sauron (4 threat)
Wraith on Wings (4 threat, 2 resources)
Wraith on Wings* (2 threat, 2 resources)

Resource Phase
Deck One Hand (New Card in Bold):
Aragorn (2), Glorfindel (3), Eowyn (1), Merry (1)
Legolas, A Test of Will, Elrond’s Counsel, Arod, Resourceful, Unexpected Courage, Rivendell Blade, Rider of Rohan

Given that we’ve already got a side-quest in the victory display, this is an excellent choice as we can make the most of both stats. The only problem is the effect on Towers of the Teeth preventing us from playing our allies.

Deck Two Hand:
Beravor (1), Elladan (1), Elrohir (1)
The Hammer-stroke, Fornost Bowman, Feint, Mighty Prowess

Oddly enough I think this may be a good card to go on Merry. If we can get enough readying attachments on him then the damage can really start to pile up, especially as he is able to then ready other attackers.

Gleowine exhausts to allow Deck Two to draw a card: Legacy of Numenor.

We will play this straight away so that Deck One can make the most of these extra resources.

Deck Two plays Legacy of Numenor. Raise each player’s threat by 4 to give every hero 1 resource.

Exhaust Beravor to allow Deck Two to draw 2 cards: Citadel Custodian, A Very Good Tale

Not that it matters, but we can’t get the ally in play until Towers of the Teeth is gone. But we can cheat in allies with A Very Good Tale again so we’ll definitely take that.

Planning Phase
Deck One:
Unexpected Courage-Aragorn (Given the fact that he has the best spread of stats, this really is a no-brainer)
Resourceful-Elrohir (Not only does this mean we can keep on defending with him, there are a lot of Leadership attachments that cost a fair bit that we want to make the most of.)
Rivendell Blade-Elladan (Now any enemy he attacks will be crippled from the outset, making it easier to get his kills)

Deck Two:
Mighty Prowess-Merry (We’ll be making the most of his ability to ready other heroes as well as ping extra enemies as much as we can here. I was considering Elladan for this as well but readying for Merry can be found much cheaper as we pay for it once and that’s it, whereas Elladan will need a more consistent flow of resources)

Quest Phase
Add 1 resource to The Black Gate, Wraith on Wings and Wraith on Wings* (3 resources). Trigger The Black Gate to raise each player’s threat by 1.

This will be the last time those Wraiths will be in the Staging Area. They’re coming for us!

Aragorn-5
Eowyn-5
Glorfindel-3
Arwen-2
-Trigger Arwen to give Aragorn +1 defense until the end of the round
Elladan-2
Veteran of Osgiliath-2

Total wilpower: 17

Exhaust Unexpected Courage to ready Aragorn

We’re aiming to fail questing here, though by as little as possible to minimise the amount of threat we’ll take by doing so.

1.1 Reeking Moat (2 threat) (Not outright terrible, we ought to be able to temporarily get rid of an enemy when we travel there. Of course it is only a short-term measure, but we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.)
1.2: The Hour of Doom. Trigger Doomed 1. (Now this is one of the treacheries I fear the most in this scenario. Either we face a threat bump with will be unpleasant to say the least, or we discard a high-costed character. I think we’ll have to discard a character for Deck Two, their threat is already getting too high very quickly. Deck One however may be able to handle the threat increase, so we’ll keep our characters intact.) Deck One raises his threat by six. Deck Two discards Veteran of Osgiliath (Note that is the Veteran who was exhausted for AVGT, we still have one ready for combat.)
1.3: Warrior of Rhun* (1 threat) (This time we can actually make use of Windfola and negate the Warrior’s ability here) Trigger Warrior of Rhun* to remove Eowyn from the quest. Exhaust Windfola to keep Eowyn committed to the quest.
2: Waste of Dagorlad (3 threat) (Another location. It would be good to get out our Northern Trackers so we can start chipping away at these in the staging area)

Total threat: 21

Deck One plays Elrond’s Counsel to give Glorfindel 1 extra willpower and reduce Deck One’s threat by 1.

This serves two purposes: one is to reduce Deck One’s threat, such as we can; and the second is to preemptively limit the threat we’ll take from questing unsuccessfully.

Total willpower: 18

Lose questing by 3. Raise each player’s threat by 3. Trigger Stage 2B to discard Towers of the Teeth.

3 threat is a small price to pay to remove Towers for now. But there is soon to be a bigger problem at hand. The Wraiths are descending.

Travel Phase
Travel to Reeking Moat and place Warrior of Rhun* face-down under it.

Yes it’s just for a turn, but it gives us breathing space here.

Encounter Phase
Deck One optionally engages Wraith on Wings.

We’ll try and take out at least the one that’s giving us the most grief in the staging area. It’ll be tricky, especially since it’s been buffed.

Wraith on Wings* engages Deck One.

Now our threat is high enough, the second is coming to join the party. Hopefully we are able to take care of him too, but we’ll need to play our cards right (pun only half intended there)

Combat Phase
[Deck One defense]
Shadow card dealt to Wraith on Wings
Guardian of Arnor defends (3)
Nazgul of Mordor revealed as Shadow (Appropriate I suppose)
Wraith on Wings attacks (8), destroys Guardian of Arnor

Yes that was, in effect, a rather expense chump-block. But there wasn’t really any way around it.

Shadow card dealt to Wraith on Wings*
Deck Two plays Feint to cancel Wraith on Wings*’s attack

That at least should limit our casualties here. We would have done it on the bigger guy, but his Hell-Hawk makes him immune to player card effects.

[Deck Two defense]
Shadow card dealt to Warrior of Rhun
Aragorn defends (5), exhaust Forewarned to discard the Shadow from Warrior of Rhun
Warrior of Rhun attacks (4), deals no damage
Exhaust Anduril to allow Aragorn to attack Warrior of Rhun
Aragorn attacks (4), deals 1 damage to Warrior of Rhun (3/4)

It’s not much, but it’s a start.

Shadow card dealt to Orc of Mordor
Elrohir defends (3)
Onslaught of Mordor revealed as Shadow
Orc of Mordor attacks (3), deals no damage

I think we’ll keep the Orc of Mordor around, so that when we get more Dunedain we have something to work with when powering that engine.

[Deck One attacks]
Wraith on Wings:
Raise Deck One’s threat by 3 to ready Eowyn and give her an extra 9 attack.
Eowyn attacks (10), Merry attacks (5), Prince Imrahil attacks (2), destroys Wraith on Wings and adds it to the victory display. Trigger Mighty Prowess to deal 1 damage to Wraith on Wings* (11/12). Trigger Merry to ready Eowyn.

Eowyn is no man! And now with her ready thanks ti Merry we can go again for the second one!

Wraith on Wings*:
Aragorn spends a resource to ready himself
Eowyn attacks (10) Aragorn attacks (4), Glorfindel attacks (3), destroys Wraith on Wings* and adds to to the victory display.

And they’re down! Not just out of this scenario, but the campaign as well. Mount Doom just became slightly more straightforward!

[Deck Two attacks]
Warrior of Rhun:
Elrohir attacks (3), deals 2 damage to Warrior of Rhun (1/4)

He’s only mostly dead, we still need to finish him off next turn.

Refresh Phase
Raise each player’s threat by 1
Deck One: 48
Deck Two: 52

Turn No.4
Stage: 2B (-/-)
Active Location: Reeking Moat (0/4)
Staging Area:
The Black Gate (-/-, 3 resource, 3 threat)
The Mouth of Sauron (4 threat)
Waste of Dagorlad (0/6, 3 threat)

Resource Phase
Deck Two Hand (New Card in Bold):
Aragorn (2), Beravor (3), Elrohir (1), Elladan (4)
The Hammer-stroke, Fornost Bowman, Citadel Custodian, A Very Good Tale, Soldier of Gondor

Now Towers of the Teeth is out of the play area, we can start throwing down some of these allies and get our feet well and truly under the table.

Exhaust Gleowine to allow Deck Two to draw a card: Defender of the West

Effectively useless for now, but I have plans for this.

Exhaust Beravor to allow Deck Two to draw 2 cards: Deep Knowledge, Heir of Valandil

And the card draw train keeps on rolling. Also cheaper Dunedain allies should help massively in keeping things afloat.

Deck One Hand:
Glorfindel (3), Eowyn (2), Merry (2)
Legolas, A Test of Will, Arod, Rider of Rohan, Defender of the Rammas

A little extra defense will surely come in handy later down the road.

Planning Phase
Deck Two:
Deep Knowledge. Trigger Doomed 2. Deck Two draws: Gondorian Shield, Orcrist (Attack and defense here. The twins are getting an upgrade.) Deck One draws: Winged Guardian, Grimbold (The first Eagle! Though I think we’ll put Grimbold in first to make the most of his willpower)
Soldier of Gondor. Trigger Soldier of Gondor: Keys of Orthanc, Visionary Leadership, Warden of Healing, Ranger Summons, Soldier of Gondor. (This new addition is brilliant. He’s managed to dig up not one, but two allies for us to play with.) Add Warden of Healing and Soldier of Gondor to Deck Two’s hand. Shuffle Deck Two. (How about another spin.)
Soldier of Gondor*. Trigger Soldier of Gondor*: Gandalf, Elfhelm, Hauberk of Mail, Citadel Custodian, Feint (That’s a lot of really good cards getting shuffled back in, all for just one Custodian. But at least he’s cheap now, given the number of Gondor allies we’ve got in play.) Add Citadel Custodian to Deck Two’s hand. Shuffle Deck Two.
Warden of Healing (And now we can start the long drawn-out process of getting our heroes back up to a healthy state)
Citadel Custodian (Nothing really to write home about, but for only one resource there’s no reason not to)
Citadel Custodian* (And in fact every reason why we ought to. Three hit points for free is excellent, and it also allows us to do this…)
Deck Two exhausts Citadel Custodian and Citadel Custodian* and plays A Very Good Tale (With 10 cost between them, we can play whichever allies come out from this. Let’s hope it’s a good one!): Northern Tracker, Gleowine, Guardian of Arnor, Veteran of Osgiliath, Gandalf (And now we have too much choice! Gandalf is a definite pick, and Gleowine isn’t an option. So that leaves us with the Tracker, Guardian and Veteran. The Guardian would be supremely helpful with our defending capabilities, but the Tracker can start chipping away at locations for us. On the other hand the Veteran has a good spread of stats and can help out wherever he is needed most. On balance however, at this point failing to quest will be more likely to finish us, so the extra progress in the staging area may mean the difference between victory or defeat. Also, Spirit resources are harder to come by in this deck as only Aragorn can generate them.) Put Gandalf and Northern Tracker into play. Discard Guardian of Arnor, Veteran of Osgiliath and Gleowine. Shuffle Deck Two.
Gondorian Shield-Elrohir (4 defense will make it that much harder for enemy attacks to break through)

Just to reiterate how much of a difference the newly released Soldier of Gondor made. We went from Gleowine and a Veteran of Osgiliath, and added 2 Soldiers of Gondor, 2 Citadel Custodians, a Warden of Healing, a Northern Tracker and Gandalf the frakking Grey. The Gondor Swarm is alive and well ladies and gentlemen.

Exhaust Warden of Healing to heal 1 damage from Aragorn and Elladan

Deck One:
Rider of Rohan (The action advantage we get from questing without exhausting is too good to pass up. If we get some willpower boosting attachments later this guys value will only go up.)
Grimbold (The fact he’s doesn’t need to exhaust to trigger his ability and save us from an attack means we effectively have Feint on a stick)

Quest Phase
Add 1 resource to The Black Gate (4 resources). Trigger The Black Gate to raise each player’s threat by 1.

Aragorn-5
Eowyn-5
Glorfindel-3
Arwen-2
-Trigger Arwen to give Elrohir 1 extra defense and sentinel (We want to save Aragorn’s only resource if we can, so this time Elrohir will take defending duties)
Prince Imrahil-2
Grimbold-2
Rider of Rohan-2
Gandalf-4
Northern Tracker-1
-Trigger Northern Tracker to place 1 progress on Waste of Dagorlad (1/6)
Citadel Custodian-1
Citadel Custodian*-1

Total willpower: 28

That’s a jump. Hopefully it’s enough to keep us on track though.

1.1: Nazgul of Mordor (4 threat) (But maybe not. This’ll probably have to stay up there for now, but we’ll take care of it before too long)
1.2: Gorgoroth Hill-troll (3 threat) (And there that is. We should be able to handle this sooner than the Nazgul, but we’ll see how things go)
1.3: Wall of Morannon (5 threat) (Ouch, that’s a hefty hit of threat. We probably won’t be travelling there soon because we’re not keen on having all those enemies getting thrown back into the staging area only to re-engage us later)
1.4: Rage Filled Him (Oh boy, here we go.)
-Shadow Card dealt to The Mouth of Sauron
-Elrohir defends (5). Spend 1 resource from Elrohir to ready him
-Gorgoroth Hill-troll revealed as Shadow
-The Mouth of Sauron attacks (6), deals 1 damage to Elrohir (3/4) (Not terrible, though we are that bit closer to our hero dying a death)
2: Easterling Bowman (2 threat). Trigger Easterling Bowman to deal 1 damage to Gamling (1/2). (We ought to be able to take care of this guy immediately, but his threat does mean we win questing. Unfortunately it’s not enough to explore Reeking Moat, which means we’re stuck with these two locations still in the staging area.)

Total threat: 25

Win by 3, place 3 progress on Reeking Moat (3/4)

Next turn we should get rid of this, one way or another, and we can then keep taking stuff out the staging area.

Travel Phase
N/A

Encounter Phase
Deck Two optionally engages Gorgoroth Hill-troll

Deck One optionally engages Easterling Bowman

If my calculations are correct, which isn’t a guaranteed thing at all, we ought to be able to knock out both these guys in one turn

Combat Phase
Trigger Archery 1 to deal 1 damage to Soldier of Gondor*

I’m afraid he’s going to be a chump blocker anyway, so there’s no purpose to saving his hit points.

Exhaust Unexpected Courage to ready Aragorn

[Deck Two defense]
Shadow Card dealt to Gorgoroth Hill-troll
Soldier of Gondor* defends (1)
Warrior of Rhun revealed as Shadow
Gorgoroth Hill-troll attacks (7), destroys Soldier of Gondor*
Trigger Gorgoroth Hill-troll: Deck Two randomly discards Heir of Valandil from his hand and raises his threat by 2

The loss of that card may hurt us more in the long run than either the threat hit or the loss of the Soldier. We will have to wait and see.

Shadow Card dealt to Warrior of Rhun
Aragorn defends (4), exhaust Forewarned to discard Shadow from Warrior of Rhun
Warrior of Rhun attacks (4), deal no damage

We’ll refrain from using Anduril for now so that when we get out the Fornost Bowman next turn he can keep his attack boosted

Shadow Card dealt to Orc of Mordor
Elrohir defends (5)
Reeking Moat revealed as Shadow
Orc of Mordor attacks (3), deals no damage

The sooner we can dig out Steward of Gondor for Elrohir the better. The more defending he can take care of himself the more potential we have for counterattacking

[Deck One defense]
Shadow Card dealt to Easterling Bowman
Glorfindel defends (1)
Uruk Soldier revealed as Shadow
Easterling Bowman attacks (4), deals 3 damage to Glorfindel (1/5)

He is now perilously close to death. That Warden is going to have his work cut out for him

[Deck Two attacks]
Gorgoroth Hill-troll:
Elladan attacks (3), Gandalf attacks (4), Veteran of Osgiliath attacks (3), destroys Gorgoroth Hill-troll

Knowing our luck, his brother will get revealed for us next turn.

[Deck One attacks]
Easterling Bowman:
Merry attacks (4), Rider of Rohan attacks (2), destroys Easterling Bowman

And he’s down as well. Back to the status quo with regard to engaged enemies.

Refresh Phase
Raise each player’s threat by 1
Deck Two: 58
Deck One: 52

Raise Deck Two’s threat by 2 to keep Gandalf in play.

Given the power Gandalf is contributing here, he is well worth the threat taken.

Turn No.5
Stage: 2B (-/-)
Active Location: Reeking Moat (3/4)
Staging Area:
The Black Gate (-/-, 4 resource, 4 threat)
The Mouth of Sauron (4 threat)
Waste of Dagorlad (1/6, 3 threat)
Wall of Morannon (0/5, 5 threat)
Nazgul of Mordor (4 threat)

Resource Phase
Deck One Hand (New Card in Bold):
Aragorn (3), Glorfindel (3), Eowyn (1), Merry (1)
Legolas, A Test of Will, Arod, Defender of Rammas, Winged Guardian, Flight of the Eagles

The encounter deck is getting rather thin, so this will probably come in quite handy sooner rather than later

Deck Two Hand:
Beravor (1), Elladan (1), Elrohir (2)
The Hammer-stroke, Fornost Bowman, Defender of the West, Orcrist, Heed the Dream

Point and click card draw, thank you very much!

Beravor exhausts to allow Deck One to draw 2 cards: Foe-hammer, Defender of Cair Andros (That ally will certainly become powerful when we get into valour mode, in effect having an inbuilt Spear of the Citadel. But it’s not what we are looking for)

Deck Two plays Heed the Dream to allow Deck One to search the top 5 cards of his deck: Warrior Sword, Round Shield, Defender of Cair Andros, Support of the Eagles, Meneldor (That’s better. An ally with some willpower we can use.) Deck Two draws Meneldor and shuffles his deck.

Exhaust Gleowine to allow Deck Two to draw a card: Ranger of Cardolan. (He’s saved us in the past, and is never an unwelcome sight in our hand)

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

Both brought back from the brink, but we still need to be careful

Planning Phase
Deck One:
Meneldor. Trigger Meneldor to place 2 progress on Wall of Morannon (2/5) (Northern Tracker Will place a third progress, and if we don’t luck out and pull a Ranger of the North for the final two we can play Flight of the Eagles to secure those progress and clear out Wall of Morannon this turn)
Defender of Rammas (And finally we have a dedicated defender for Deck One. Hopefully this means we can avoid using our heroes to stop that gap.)

Deck Two:
Defender of the West-Gandalf. Deck One takes control of Gandalf. (This way Gandalf can soak up an undefended attack here or there, but mainly this is so the threat cost he inflicts can be spread out between the two decks)

Quest Phase
Add 1 resource to The Black Gate (5 resources). Trigger The Black Gate to raise each player’s threat by 1.

Aragorn-5
Glorfindel-3
Eowyn-5
Rider of Rohan-2
Meneldor-2
Grimbold-2
Arwen-2
-Trigger Arwen to give Aragorn one extra defense
Gandalf-4
Prince Imrahil-2
Northern Tracker-1
-Trigger Northern Tracker to place 1 progress on Waste of Dagorlad (2/6) and Wall of Morannon (3/5)
Citadel Custodian-1
Citadel Custodian-1*

Total willpower: 30

We really need to find some of those willpower boosters soon. I have a feeling our willpower growth may stall if we aren’t able to get them soon.

Exhaust Unexpected Courage to ready Aragorn

1.1: Onslaught of Mordor. Deal 1 damage to Prince Imrahil (1/3) and Citadel Custodian* (2/3). (Because both of these guys, Glorfindel and Aragorn are damaged, we’ve had 4 willpower stripped from us. Hopefully we don’t lose any more due to more direct damage)
1.2: Uruk Soldier (3 threat) (This is coming down for us whether we like it or not, While the 2 extra threat will sting, the real sticking point will be the 5 attack he’ll be swinging at us with.)
1.3: Jaws of Steel (And now there’s this. Here is where we’ll get hurt, we’ll have to try and stack damage on questers already damaged to reduce the penalties we’ll take to our willpower.) Deck One deals 1 damage to Glorfindel (1/5), Merry (1/2), Meneldor (1/2) and 2 damage to Gandalf (2/4). Deck Two deals 1 damage to Citadel Custodian* (1/3), 2 damage to Northern Tracker (1/3) and Citadel Custodian (1/3). (Well that really hurt. We are now desperate for some healing. Next time we draw this we’ll cancel it with A Test of Will and just eat The Mouth of Sauron’s attack)
1.4: Ranger of the North (Now that’s more like it! We’ll place the progress and get rid of Wall of Morannon, saving us a mighty 5 threat!) Place 2 progress on Wall of Morannon and explore it. Deck One takes control of Ranger of the North.
1.5: Slopes of Cirith Gorgor (4 threat) (And that’s most of it right back again. And when we explore this location we’ll shuffle the encounter discard pile back into the encounter deck, meaning any other allies we shuffle in will that that much longer to show up)
1.6: Easterling Bowman (2 threat) (We’ve just replaced all the threat from the Wall of Morannon. More to the point, he does us yet another point of damage.) Deal 1 damage to Grimbold (1/2).
2: Gwaihir (The Eagles are coming! The cavalry has arrived! We’ll use this to discard the Nazgul and take out the enemies own air-cavalry) Aragorn spends 1 resource and discards Gwaihir to discard Nazgul of Mordor.

Total threat: 21

Total willpower: 22

Win by 1, explore Reeking Moat. Put Warrior of Rhun into play, engaged with Deck One.

We’ll need to deal with an extra enemy now, but if that means avoiding the threat hit, that’s find with me.

Travel Phase
Travel to Slopes of Corinth Gorgor (0/1)

With 4 threat, travelling here will get the most threat out of the staging area, helping us the most when it comes to questing next turn.

Encounter Phase
Deck One optionally engages Uruk Soldier. Trigger Uruk Soldier and raise Deck One’s threat by 2.

Given that Deck One has the lower threat, it only makes sense that they take the penalty for engaging the Uruk Soldier.

Deck Two optionally engages Easterling Bowman

Combat Phase
Trigger Archery 1: deal 1 damage to Beravor (1/4)

Hopefully we should kill that Bowman this turn, because all this direct damage may be what kills us in the end.

[Deck One defense]
Shadow Card dealt to Warrior of Rhun*
Gandalf defends (4)
Hell-Hawk revealed as Shadow
Warrior of Rhun attacks (4), deals no damage

Shadow Card dealt to Uruk Soldier
Aragorn defends (5), and exhausted Forewarned to discard the Shadow from Uruk Soldier
Uruk Soldier attacks (5), deals no damage
Exhaust Anduril to allow Aragorn to attack Uruk Soldier
Aragorn attacks (4), deals 2 damage to Uruk Soldier (2/4)

[Deck Two defense]
Shadow Card dealt to Warrior of Rhun
Elrohir defends (4), spend 1 resource from Elrohir to ready him
Slopes of Cirith Gorgor revealed as Shadow
Warrior of Rhun attacks (4), deals no damage

Shadow Card dealt to Easterling Bowman
Elrohir defends (4)
Snaga Archer revealed as Shadow
Easterling Bowman attacks (5), deals 1 damage to Elrohir (1/4)

Shadow Card dealt to Orc of Mordor
Veteran of Osgiliath defends (2)
Towers of the Teeth revealed as Shadow
Orc of Mordor attacks (3), deals 1 damage to Veteran of Osgiliath

We have so many characters left on just 1 hit point I fear that all of a sudden we will just collapse

[Deck One attacks]
Warrior of Rhun*:
Glorfindel attacks (3), Merry attacks (4), destroys Warrior of Rhun*. Trigger Merry to ready Glorfindel. Exhaust Rivendell Blade to play Foehammer and allow Deck One to draw 3 cards: Wild Stallion, Round Shield, Landroval

Excellent cards, especially Landroval who can allow us to pull a hero back from the grave.

Uruk Soldier:
Glorfindel attacks (3), Rider of Rohan attacks (2), destroys Uruk Soldier

And once again Deck One is free of enemies. Merry’s readying ability is doing some serious work for us here.

[Deck Two attacks]
Easterling Bowman:
Elladan attacks (3), Soldier of Gondor attacks (1), destroys Easterling Bowman

Goodbye Archery, we won’t miss you.

Refresh Phase
Raise each player’s threat by 1
Deck One: 62
Deck Two: 56

Raise Deck One’s threat by 2 to keep Gandalf in play.

Turn No.6
Stage: 2B (-/-)
Active Location: Slopes of Cirith Gorgor (0/1)
Staging Area:
The Black Gate (-/-, 5 resource, 5 threat)
The Mouth of Sauron (4 threat)
Waste of Dagorlad (2/6, 3 threat)

Resource Phase
Deck Two Hand (New Card in Bold):
Aragorn (1), Beravor (1), Elladan (2), Elrohir (3)
The Hammer-stroke, Fornost Bowman, Orcrist, Ranger of Cardolan, Sword that was Broken

Here is the answer to all of our fears and doubts over questing. Our willpower is about to take off!

Deck One Hand:
Glorfindel (3), Eowyn (1), Merry (2)
Legolas, A Test of Will, Arod, Winged Guardian, Flight of the Eagles, Defender of Cair Andros, Wild Stallion, Round Shield, Landroval, Fair and Perilous

Here’s a good one. We may be using this on Elladan rather than Glorfindel, though the versatility is great in that we can choose either.

Exhaust Beravor to allow Deck Two to draw 2 cards: Keys of Orthanc, Ranger Summons

Now this poses a problem. While Keys will definitely be going on Aragorn for the odd extra resource, the encounter deck is absurdly small so we can almost guarantee getting the Ranger of the North in next turn. But then we will not be able to afford Sword that was Broken. I’ll need to think about this one.

Exhaust Gleowine to allow Deck Two to draw a card: Vigilant Dunedain

Certainly a guy we’ve been waiting to see, but we aren’t able to pay for him just yet, there are more pressing things at hand.

Planning Phase
Deck Two:
Ranger Summons. Shuffle one copy of Ranger of the North into the encounter deck. (In the end, the guaranteed Ranger of the North won out. It was the extra hit points we can use as a sponge, not to mention the ‘Enters Play’ effect that we can make use of.)
Orcrist. Trigger Guarded: Enemy or location. Discard Orc of Mordor* and add it to the staging area, placing Orcrist underneath it. (Guess who we’re going to kill this turn!)
Keys of Orthanc-Aragorn (Again, the extra resource here and there will just help us make the most of Aragorn’s stats.)

Deck One:
Wild Stallion (We don’t have control of Gandalf this turn, but as soon as we do he will be getting control of this steed to boost up all his stats)
Flight of Eagles. Return Meneldor to Deck One’s band and place 2 progress on Waste of Dagorlad (4/6). Shuffle Eagle of the North into the encounter deck. (Can’t wait to see another Eagle come off the encounter deck to lend us aid. And those extra progress will be very nice indeed)
Meneldor. Trigger Meneldor to explore Waste of Dagorlad (The madness continues. For 3 Tactics resources we got to place 4 progress on a location and explore it! And Meneldor even comes back with a clean bill of health!)
Round Shield-Veteran of Osgiliath (Just looking to increase his odds of surviving as much as possible here.)

Exhaust Warden of Healing to heal 1 damage from Glorfindel and Elrohir (Didn’t we do this last turn?)

Quest Phase
Add 1 resource to The Black Gate (6 resources). Trigger The Black Gate to raise each player’s threat by 1.

Aragorn-5
Glorfindel-3
Eowyn-5
Ranger of the North-2
Meneldor-2
Arwen-2
-Trigger Arwen to give Aragorn +1 defense
Rider of Rohan-2
Grimbold-2
Prince Imrahil-2
Wild Stallion-1
Gandalf-4
Citadel Guardian-1
Citadel Guardian*-1

Total willpower: 30

Exhaust Unexpected Courage to ready Aragorn.

Given how slender the encounter deck is, 18 cards, we will almost certainly be seeing our Eagle and Ranger this turn.

1.1: Followed by Night. (And I suppose this means the Archery is coming back to haunt us.) Put EEasterling Bowman into play engaged with Deck Two. Trigger Surge.
1.2: Reeking Moat (2 threat) (I suppose if we get an especially nasty enemy we can hide it under here for a turn)
1.3: Ranger of the North* (That’s the first. We’ll place the damage on the Warrior of Rhun and finish him off.) Deal 2 damage to Warrior of Rhun and destroy him. Deck Two takes control of Ranger of the North*. Trigger Surge.
1.4: Orc of Mordor^ (1 threat) (This guy won’t be the death of us, but having him nipping at our heels will not help matters) Trigger Surge.
1.5: Beleaguered Hills (2 threat) (I fear that it will eventually be the locations that will be the death of us, piling threat into the staging area faster than we can handle it)
1.6: Waste of Dagorlad (3 threat) (It is as I said, they come too quickly)
1.7: Eagle of the North (And there he is! While we could take care of the Archery before it comes into effect, I reckon I’d rather have Orcrist under my control.) Discard Orc of Mordor* and attach Orcrist to Elladan. Deck One takes control of Eagle of the North. Trigger Surge.
1.8: The Hour of Doom. Trigger Doomed 1. Trigger Keys of Orthanc to give Aragorn 1 extra resource. (This last card of the encounter deck will sting us one last time. We can not afford the threat hit here so discarding an ally really is the only option). Deck One discards Prince Imrahil. Deck Two discards Citadel Custodian*.
Shuffle the encounter discard pile into the encounter deck.
1.9: Gorgoroth Hill-troll (3 threat) (Brilliant, another one of these. We’ll try and take this down as soon as we can)
1.10: Saruman’s Voice . Trigger Doomed 2. (I think we’ll stick this on Eowyn. We’ve already triggered her ability so the only thing we’ll really be using her for will really be questing, meaning we’ll only be triggering this once per round) Attach Saruman’s Voice to Eowyn.
2: Reeking Moat* (2 threat): (Yet another location. Our Northern Tracker is going to have his work cut out for him)

Total threat: 23

Total willpower: 29

Win by 6, explore Slopes of Cirith Gorgor. Shuffle the encounter discard pile into the encounter deck and discard cards until an enemy is discarded: Onslaught of Mordor, Pursued by the Enemy, Waste of Dagorlad, The Hour of Doom, Warrior of Rhun. Put Warrior of Rhun into play engaged with Deck Two. (And there’s that Warrior of Rhun we just got rid of. It seems to me we may be getting overwhelmed pretty soon.)

Travel Phase
Travel to Beleaguered Hills (0/3)

We’ll go here to keep the threat down in the staging area as much as we can next turn.

Trigger Beleaguered Hills:
Deck One optionally engages Gorgoroth Hill-troll

If we get Aragorn to defend we ought to be able to kill this guy in one shot

Deck Two optionally engages Orc of Mordor^. Exhaust Soldier of Gondor.

Encounter Phase
Now there are no more enemies in the staging area.

Combat Phase
Trigger Archery 1 and deal 1 damage to Soldier of Gondor (1/2)

[Deck Two defense]
Shadow Card dealt to Easterling Bowman
Ranger of the North* defends (2)
Warrior of Rhun revealed as Shadow
Easterling Bowman attacks (3), deals 1 damage to Ranger of the North* (2/3)

Shadow Card dealt to Warrior of Rhun
Elrohir defends (4)
Onslaught of Mordor revealed as Shadow (We’ve no enemies in the staging area, so we’ve escaped this shadow effect)
Warrior of Rhun attacks (4), deals no damage

Shadow Card dealt to Orc of Mordor
Gandalf defends (4)
Followed by Night revealed as Shadow
Orc of Mordor attacks (3), deals no damage

Shadow Card dealt to Orc of Mordor^
Veteran of Osgiliath defends (2)
Uruk Soldier revealed as Shadow, trigger Round Shield to give Veteran of Osgiliath 2 extra defense
Orc of Mordor^ attacks (4), deals no damage

Already Round Shield is paying for itself.

[Deck One defense]
Shadow Card dealt to Gorgoroth Hill-troll
Aragorn defends (5), exhaust Forewarned to discard Shadow from Gorgoroth Hill-troll
Gorgoroth Hill-troll attacks (7), deals 2 damage to Aragorn (4/6)
Trigger Anduril to allow Aragorn to make an attack against Gorgoroth Hill-troll
Aragorn attacks (4), deals 1 damage to Gorgoroth Hill-troll (7/8)

Now it’s my turn. Orcrist is ready!

[Deck Two attacks]
Easterling Bowman:
Elladan attacks (5), pays 1 resource to ready himself, destroys Easterling Bowman.
Trigger Orcrist to give Elladan 1 resource.

Warrior of Rhun:
Elladan attacks (5), pays 1 resource to ready himself, destroys Warrior of Rhun.
Trigger Orcrist to give Elladan 1 resource.

Orc of Mordor:
Elladan attacks (5), pays 1 resource to ready himself, destroys Orc of Mordor.
Trigger Orcrist to give Elladan 1 resource.

Orc of Mordor^:
Elladan attacks (5), pays 1 resource to ready himself, destroys Orc of Mordor^.
Trigger Orcrist to give Elladan 1 resource.

And that’s how it’s done! Now I’m secretly wishing we had Knife-work to draw a ton of cards as well.

[Deck One attacks]
Gorgoroth Hill-troll:
Glorfindel attacks (3), Merry attacks (4), Rider of Rohan attacks (2), destroys Gorgoroth Hill-troll

I reckon we’ve got combat locked down, for now. The rate of cards being revealed does mean the threat gathering in the staging area will be dangerous.

Refresh Phase
Raise each player’s threat by 1
Deck Two: 67
Deck One: 63

Raise Deck Two’s threat by 2 to keep Gandalf in play.

Turn No.7
Stage: 2B (-/-)
Active Location: Beleaguered Hills (0/3)
Staging Area:
The Black Gate (-/-, 6 resource, 6 threat)
The Mouth of Sauron (4 threat)
Waste of Dagorlad (3 threat, 0/6)
Reeking Moat (2 threat, 0/4)
Reeking Moat* (2 threat, 0/4)

Resource Phase
Deck One Hand (New Card in Bold):
Aragorn (3), Glorfindel (3), Eowyn (1), Merry (1)
Legolas, A Test of Will, Arod, Winged Guardian, Defender of Cair Andros, Landroval, Fair and Perilous, Winged Guardian

Another Eagle ally. Once we get Eagles of the Misty Mountains and Support of the Eagles on Elladan, he will be an unstoppable attacker

Deck Two Hand:
Beravor (1), Elladan (2), Elladan (4)
The Hammer-stroke, Fornost, Ranger of Cardolan, The Sword that was Broken, Vigilant Dunedain, Legacy of Numenor

And everyone gets extra resources! We’ll take this, yes please.

Deck Two plays Legacy of Numenor. Trigger Doomed 4 and give every hero one extra resource. Trigger Keys of Orthanc to give Aragorn 1 extra resource.

Legacy of Numenor is especially good in Saga quests where you have an extra hero that gets another resource. For added value you could put in Sword-thain and Thalion so one Legacy would net you 6 extra resources for one player.

Beravor exhausts to allow Deck Two draw 2 cards: Northern Tracker, Ranger of Cardolan

Given the amount of locations we are revealing, this is just what we are after.

Gleowine exhausts to allow Deck Two to draw 1 card: Guardian of Arnor

Planning Phase
Deck One:
Legolas (An extra 3 attack, with the possibility of drawing extra cards)
Arod-Legolas (And on top of that we can also place an extra progress when we kill an enemy)
Winged Guardian (We will need to be careful as to when we trigger this guy’s ability to defend, but really we’re waiting for an Eagles of the Misty Mountains and Support of the Eagles to boost Elladan’s attack)
Trigger Wild Stallion to attach it to Gandalf (Now our favourite Istari has 5 for all his stats, and an extra hit point to boot)

Deck Two:
Northern Tracker* (This means each location in the staging area now gets 2 progress each turn)
Sword that was Broken-Aragorn (And now our willpower is boosted through the roof)

Exhaust Warden of Healing to heal 1 damage from Aragorn (3/6) and Merry

Quest Phase
Add 1 resource to The Black Gate (7 resources). Trigger The Black Gate to raise each player’s threat by 1.

Aragorn-6
Eowyn-6
-Trigger Saruman’s Voice to discard Defender of Cair Andros from Deck One’s hand
Glorfindel-4
Arwen-3
-Trigger Arwen to give Aragorn 1 extra defense
Gandalf-6
Rider of Rohan-3
Gambling-3
Ranger of the North-3
Northern Tracker-1
-Trigger Northern Tracker to place 1 progress on Waste of Dagorlad (1/6), Reeking Moat (1/4), Reeking Moat* (1/4)
Northern Tracker*-1
-Trigger Northern Tracker to place 1 progress on Waste of Dagorlad (2/6), Reeking Moat (2/4), Reeking Moat* (2/4)
Citadel Custodian-1

Total willpower: 37

Exhaust Unexpected Courage to ready Aragorn

Let’s hope this is enough.

1.1: Nazgul of Mordor (4 threat) (This isn’t good. We’ll try and tackle this guy in one shot.)
1.2: Slopes of Cirith Gorgor (4 threat) (While this doesn’t have a lot of progress needed to explore it, for now the 4 threat will sting quite badly)
1.3: Orc of Mordor (1 threat) (Again not a massive obstacle, but can get annoying in large numbers) Trigger Surge.
1.4: Jaws of Steel (We’ve had an influx of new character since the last time this was drawn, we should be able to take this) Deck One deals 2 damage to Ranger of the North (1/3), Legolas (1/3) and Eagle of the North (1/3), and Meneldor (1/2). Deck Two deals 2 damage to Ranger of the North* and Northern Tracker* (1/3), and 1 damage to Soldier of Gondor (1/2), Elladan (1/4) and Elrohir (1/4) (That really hurt. We could take that, but we probably afford to take another one)
1.5: Reeking Moat^ (2 threat) (For goodness sake, another one!)
1.6: Snaga Archer (2 threat) (And yet more Archery for us to deal with. Brilliant…)
1.7: Rage Filled Him (Oh boy. I guess we’ll get Meneldor to defend so we can at least get 2 progress out of this)
The Mouth of Sauron attacks (6)
-Meneldor defends (0)
Towers of the Teeth revealed as Shadow
-The Mouth of Sauron attacks, destroys Meneldor. Raise Deck One’s threat by 4. Trigger Meneldor to place 2 progress on Reeking Moat* and explore it.
1.8: Gorgoroth Hill-troll (3 threat) (Righto. Here we go again!)
2: Uruk Soldier (3 threat) (I remember when we were in Cirith Ungol this was one of the biggest enemies we had to deal with. Now we have Trolls and Nazgul this really is a relief)

Total threat: 35

Win by 2, place 2 progress on Beleaguered Hills (2/3)

This is the worst of both worlds: we win so the location doesn’t get discarded, but it’s not enough to explore so we can’t travel to a new location either.

Travel Phase
N/A

Encounter Phase
Deck One optionally engages Nazgul of Mordor

Deck Two optionally engages Uruk Soldier. Raise Deck Two’s threat by 2.

Nazgul of Mordor, Snaga Archer and Orc of Mordor engages Deck One. Trigger Orc of Mordor and Deck One exhausts Winged Guardian. Trigger Snaga Archer and deal 2 damage to Eowyn (1/3) (This is going to sting a bit.)

Combat Phase
[Deck One defends]
Shadow Card dealt to Nazgul of Mordor
Aragorn defends (5), exhausts Forewarned to discard the Shadow from Nazgul of Mordor
Nazgul of Mordor attacks (6), deals 1 damage to Aragorn (2/6)

Shadow Card dealt to Gorgoroth Hill-troll
Gandalf defends (5)
The Hour of Doom revealed as Shadow, discard Arod
Gorgoroth Hill-trill attacks (7), deals 2 damage to Gandalf (1/5)

Shadow Card dealt to Snaga Archer
Defender of the Rammas defends (4)
Warrior of Rhun revealed as Shadow
Snaga Archer attacks (4), deals no damage

Shadow Archer deal to Orc of Mordor
Winged Guardian defends (4)
Hell-Hawk revealed as Shadow
Orc of Mordor attacks (3), deals no damage
Deck One pays 1 Tactics resource to keep Winged Guardian in play

[Deck Two defends]
Shadow Card dealt to Uruk Soldier
Soldier of Gondor defends (1)
Slopes of Cirith Gorgor revealed as Shadow
Uruk Soldier attacks (5), destroys Soldier of Gondor

They’re whittling us down. They’re getting through our defenses!

[Deck One attacks]
Deck One plays Fair and Perilous to give Glorfindel 3 extra attack

Nazgul of Mordor:
Glorfindel attacks (6), Merry attacks (5), destroys Nazgul of Mordor. Trigger Merry to ready Glorfindel.

Gorgoroth Hill-troll:
Glorfindel attacks (6), Eagle of the North attacks (3), destroys Gorgoroth Hill-troll

Snaga Archer:
Legolas attacks (3), Rider of Rohan attacks (2), destroys Snaga Archer. Trigger Legolas to allow Deck One to draw a card: Eagles of the Misty Mountain (Now every Eagle we lose will boost our stats. Here we go!)

Orc of Mordor:
Ranger of the North* attacks (2), deals 1 damage to Orc of Mordor (2/3)

We’ll need to leave that last Orc of Mordor alive I’m afraid.

[Deck Two attacks]
Uruk Soldier:
Elladan attacks (5), pays 1 resource to ready himself, destroys Uruk Soldier. Trigger Orcrist to give Elladan 1 resource.

And once again the board is nearly wiped clean. This time though we get a net gain from Orcrist, so that’s a bonus.

Refresh Phase
Raise each player’s threat by 1
Deck One: 77
Deck Two: 77

Raise Deck One’s threat by 2 to keep Gandalf in play.

Turn No.8
Stage: 2B (-/-)
Active Location: Beleaguered Hills (2/3)
Staging Area:
The Black Gate (-/-, 7 resource, 7 threat)
The Mouth of Sauron (4 threat)
Waste of Dagorlad (3 threat, 2/6)
Reeking Moat (2 threat, 2/4)
Reeking Moat^ (2 threat, 0/4)
Slopes of Cirith Gorgor (4 threat, 0/1)

Resource Phase
Deck Two Hand (New Card in Bold):
Aragorn (3), Beravor (2), Elladan (2), Elrohir (3)
The Hammer-stroke, Fornost Bowman, Ranger of Cardolan, Vigilant Dunedain, Ranger of Cardolan, Guardian of Arnor, Ancestral Armor

Hello you! This will make a lovely gift for Elrohir.

Deck One Hand:
Glorfindel (3), Eowyn (2), Merry (1)
A Test of Will, Winged Guardian, Landroval, Eagles of the Misty Mountain, Wild Stallion

Still no Support of the Eagles for Elladan, but we live in hope.

Exhaust Beravor to allow Deck Two to draw 2 cards: Palantir of Orthanc, Hauberk of Mail

I think we may stick this on the Veteran of Osgiliath, giving him 3 defense, potentially 5 if a Shadow Card gets triggered

Exhaust Gleowine to allow Deck One to draw 1 card: Light of Valinor

This is a dead card I’m afraid, but at least we’ve gotten it out the way

Exhaust Warden of Healing to heal 1 damage from Eowyn (2/3) and Aragorn (3/6)

Planning Phase
Deck Two:
Ancestral Armor-Elrohir (We’re sitting pretty now with 6 defense and 3 hit points left. Let’s just hope we don’t get overwhelmed with too much direct damage)
Palantir of Orthanc-Aragorn (We may do this now or wait until next turn, I’m not quite sure yet)
Hauberk of Mail-Veteran of Osgiliath (I’m afraid he doesn’t have sentinel so it’s just the extra defense we’re getting the benefit of)
Fornost Bowman (We don’t have any enemies engaged with us just now, so his willpower is probably more helpful to us now than his attack)

Deck One:
Landroval (Just a little bit extra insurance for our heroes, in case one of them gets overwhelmed)

Quest Phase
Add 1 resource to The Black Gate (8 resources). Trigger The Black Gate to raise each player’s threat by 1.

Aragorn-6
Eowyn-5
-Trigger Saruman’s Voice to discard Light of Valinor from Deck One’s Hand
Glorfindel-3
Arwen-2
-Trigger Arwen to give Elrohir 1 extra defense and sentinel
Rider of Rohan-2
Grimbold-2
Eagle of the North-2
Gandalf-6
Northern Tracker-2
-Trigger Northern Tracker to place 1 progress on Waste of Dagorlad (3/6), Reeking Moat (3/4), Reeking Moat^ (1/4) and explore Slopes of Cirith Gorgor. Shuffle the encounter discard pile into the encounter deck and discard cards until an enemy is discarded: Waste of Dagorlad, Jaws of Steel, Warrior of Rhun. Warrior of Rhun is put into play engaged with Deck One
Northern Tracker*-2
-Trigger Northern Tracker to place 1 progress on Waste of Dagorlad (4/6), explore Reeking Moat, Reeking Moat^ (2/4).
Citadel Custodian-2
Ranger of the North*-3

Total willpower: 32

Exhaust Unexpected Courage to ready Aragorn

Here we go:

1.1: Waste of Dagorlad* (3 threat) (Yet more threat to be poured into the staging area for us)
1.2: Nazgul of Mordor (4 threat) (For flip’s sake! Here we go yet again!)
1.3: Beleaguered Hills* (2 threat) (I told you that locations would be our death)
1.4: Nazgul of Mordor* (4 threat) (That sound you hear is my head banging on the table)
1.5: Warrior of Rhun* (1 threat) Remove Citadel Custodian from the quest. (Thankfully it’s only 2 willpower we lose, but with the Warrior’s 1 threat that’s a net loss of 3.)
1.6: Wall of Morannon (5 threat) (I’d forgotten this was a thing. We’d better brace ourselves)
1.7: Snaga Archer (2 threat) (And the Archery is back once more)
1.8: Easterling Bowman (2 threat) (Apparently it has come back with avengence.) Deal 1 damage to Fornost Bowman (2/3)
2: Jaws of Steel (Absolutely not, we cannot survive this). Deck One plays A Test of Will to cancel Jaws of Steel. Trigger Mouth of Sauron to attack Deck One. (This is going to hurt, but I have an idea.)
-Shadow Card dealt to The Mouth of Sauron
-No defender declared
Rage Filled Him revealed as Shadow (Just to rub it in, I guess)
-The Mouth of Sauron attacks (9), destroys Eowyn
-Return Landroval to Deck One’s hand to put Eowyn back into play, with 1 damage on her (2/3)

Total threat: 40

Trigger Beleaguered Hills to reduce the threat in the staging area by 2.

Total threat: 38

Total willpower: 32

Lose by 6, raise each deck’s threat by 6 . Discard Beleaguered Hills from play.

I fear the end is near. We may not last another round. But we shall do our best, for Frodo!

Travel Phase
Travel to Reeking Moat^ (2/4). Trigger Reeking Moat to put Snaga Archer under Reeking Moat.

That’s 2 less Archery that we’ll need to face this turn.

Encounter Phase
Deck Two optionally engages Nazgul of Mordor

Deck One optionally engages Nazgul of Mordor*

They each take one to spread out the threat raises we will be taking.

Warrior of Rhun* and Easterling Bowman engages Deck Two.

Combat Phase
Trigger Archery 1 to deal 1 damage to Fornost Bowman (2/3)

[Deck Two defense]
Shadow Card dealt to Nazgul of Mordor
Elrohir defends (6), spend 1 resource to ready Elrohir
Reeking Moat revealed as Shadow, Nazgul of Mordor deals no damage
Deck Two raises his threat by 4 to keep Nazgul of Mordor engaged with him

It may be a steep cost, but we need to finish off this Nazgul to make questing easier next turn.

Shadow Card dealt to Easterling Bowman
Ranger of the North* defends (2)
Gorgoroth Hill-troll revealed as Shadow
Easterling Bowman attacks (3), destroys Ranger of the North

Shadow Card dealt to Warrior of Rhun
Elrohir defends (6)
Wall of Morannon revealed as Shadow
Warrior of Rhun attacks (4), deals no damage

Shadow Card dealt to Warrior of Rhun*
Veteran of Osgiliath defends (3)
Hell-Hawk revealed as Shadow
Warrior of Rhun* attacks (4), destroys Veteran of Osgiliath

[Deck One defense]
Shadow Card dealt to Nazgul of Mordor*
Discard Grimbold to cancel Nazgul of Mordor’s* attack

This also cancels the threat raise that we would otherwise have to suffer

Shadow Card dealt to Orc of Mordor
Aragorn defends (4), exhaust Forewarned to discard Shadow from Orc of Mordor
Orc of Mordor attacks (3), deals no damage
Exhaust Anduril to allow Aragorn to attack Orc of Mordor
Aragorn attacks (4), destroys Orc of Mordor

Leave none standing!

[Deck Two attacks]
Nazgul of Mordor:
Fornost Bowman attacks (5), Gandalf attacks (5), Elladan attacks (5) and pays 1 resource to ready himself, destroys Nazgul of Mordor. Trigger Orcrist to give Elladan 1 resource.

For death and glory!

Warrior of Rhun:
Elladan attacks (5), pays 1 resource to ready himself, destroys Warrior of Rhun. Trigger Orcrist to give Elladan 1 resource.

Warrior of Rhun*:
Elladan attacks (5), pays 1 resource to ready himself, destroys Warrior of Rhun*. Trigger Orcrist to give Elladan 1 resource.

Easterling Bowman:
Elladan attacks (5), pays 1 resource to ready himself, destroys Easterling Bowman. Trigger Orcrist to give Elladan 1 resource.

[Deck One attacks]
Nazgul of Mordor*:
Glorfindel attacks (3), Merry attacks (4), Rider of Rohan attacks (2), Legolas attacks (3), destroys Nazgul of Mordor*.

I imagine this is our one last gasp of glory!

Refresh Phase
Raise each player’s threat by 1
Deck Two: 87
Deck One: 87

Raise Deck Two’s threat by 2 to keep Gandalf in play.

Turn No.9
Stage: 2B (-/-)
Active Location: Reeking Moat^ (2/4)
Staging Area:
The Black Gate (-/-, 8 resource, 8 threat)
The Mouth of Sauron (4 threat)
Waste of Dagorlad (4/6, 3 threat)
Waste of Dagorlad* (0/6, 3 threat)
Beleaguered Hills* (0/3, 2 threat)

Resource Phase
Deck One Hand (New Card in Bold):
Aragorn (1), Glorfindel (2), Eowyn (1), Merry (1)
Winged Guardian, Eagles of the Misty Mountain, Wild Stallion, Landroval, Defender of Rammas

We have an extra defender now

Deck Two Hand:
Beravor (2), Elladan (2), Elrohir (2)
The Hammer-stroke, Ranger of Cardolan, Vigilant Dunedain, Ranger of Cardolan, Guardian of Arnor, Feint

For what it’s worth, we can dodge a solitary attack

Exhaust Beravor to allow Deck Two to draw 2 cards: Gandalf, Fornost Bowman

While the second Fornost Bowman will certainly have been helpful, that Gandalf is useless to us.

Exhaust Gleowine to allow Deck Two to draw a card: Narya

And this can take Gandalf up to 6 attack and defense, and an extra ready!

Planning Phase
Deck One:
Winged Guardian* (Extra defense is always brilliant, but Sword that was Broken will allow him to quest for us as well)
Wild Stallion (We’ll keep him separate from any other ally for now so that StwB can double its bonus)

Deck Two:
Guardian of Arnor (The end is nigh, it’s now or never)
Fornost Bowman (And every point of willpower will be needed)

Exhaust Warden of Healing to heal 1 damage from Aragorn (2/6) and Elrohir (2/4)

Quest Phase
Add 1 resource to The Black Gate (9 resources). Trigger The Black Gate to raise each player’s threat by 1.

Exhaust Aragorn and Palantir of Orthanc to discard the top card of the encounter deck: The Hour of Doom. Remove Palantir of Orthanc from the game and add it to the victory display. Deck One will reveal 1 less encounter card this turn.

Exhaust Unexpected Courage to ready Aragorn

For Frodo!

Aragorn-6
Eowyn-5
Glorfindel-4
Merry-3
Ranger of the North-3
Eagle of the North-3
Arwen-3
Wild Stallion-2
Legolas-2
Rider of Rohan-3
Winged Guardian-1
Winged Guardian-1
Defender of Rammas-1
Gandalf-6
Elladan-2
Elrohir-2
Northern Tracker-1
-Trigger Northern Tracker to place 1 progress on Waste of Dagorlad (5/6), Waste of Dagorlad* (1/6), Wall of Morannon (1/5) and Beleaguered Hills* (1/3)
Northern Tracker*-1
-Trigger Northern Tracker to place 1 progress on Waste of Dagorlad to explore it, Waste of Dagorlad* (2/6), Wall of Morannon (2/5) and Beleaguered Hills (2/3)
Fornost Bowman-1
Fornost Bowman-1
Guardian of Arnor-1
Citadel Custodian-1

Total willpower: 52

This is it boys.
1.1: Towers of the Teeth (14 threat) (Oh wow, they are not pulling their punches, are they.)
1.2: Nazgul of Mordor (4 threat) (One last time, to gloat over us I expect)
1.3: Slopes of Cirith Gorgor (4 threat)
1.4: Easterling Bowman (2 threat) (Deal 1 damage to Gandalf (4/5)
1.5: Pursued by the Enemy. Trigger Doomed 1 (We’ve no enemies engaged, so we’ll move along). Trigger Surge.
1.6: Towers of the Teeth* (14 threat) (There we have it. Good game everyone)
1.7: Gwaihir (A final piece of aid! But has it come too late? We won’t discard an enemy so we can add him to the campaign pool and let Frodo and Sam make use of him)
1.8: Uruk Soldier (3 threat) At this point, he just serves as gravy for the encounter deck
2: Followed by Night (Oh, you are kidding me! He’s back again.) Take Nazgul of Mordor from the top of the encounter discard pileand put into play in the staging area. Trigger Surge
2.1: Hell-Hawk (Just to make sure he doesn’t go anywhere, I suppose). Attach Hell-hawk to Nazgul of Mordor

Total threat: 70

Lose by 17, raise each player’s threat by 17 to 105 (Deck One) and 107 (Deck Two).

Defeat.

Victory display: The Storm Comes (1), Wraith on Wings (5), Wraith on Wings (5), Palantir of Orthanc (5)

Score: 99 threat + 99 threat + 90 for turns taken + 4 for damage on Aragorn + 4 for damage on Glorfindel + 1 for damage on Eowyn + 1 for damage on Merry + 3 for damage on Beravor + 2 for damage on Elladan – 16 victory points = 287

And so we have bought as much time for Frodo as we possibly can. I feel like our decks operated as well as we could reasonably expect but we could have gotten Sword that was Broken out a little earlier. Gondor’s ally swarm really pulled through however, and once we reached critical mass they were able to take on pretty much any amount of questing we needed, except right at the end with the double Towers of the Teeth. I felt we had a respectable amount of Resource acceleration, but getting that first copy of Resourceful out onto Glorfindel early was key, and The Storm Comes was a gift from Eru in allowing us to consistently get our allies on the table. I wish we had found Steward of Gondor, but with Beravor and Gleowine working full-time I feel like we had done everything we could.

We were able to take out both copies of Wraith on Wings, removing them from the Campaign and making things as easy as we can for Frodo. Gwaihir will be making an appearance in Mount Doom, thanks to one last piece of good fortune, and we have bought 9 turns to allow the Hobbits to ascend Orodruin. How do you think my decks performed? Did I miss out on an obvious combination that would have let us last another turn? Have I done enough to help Frodo? Let me know in the comments, and come back again for our final steps of a Saga over 2 years in the playing.

Remove Wraith on Wings from the Campaign Pool
Remove Wraith on Wings from the Campaign Pool
Add Gwaihir to the Campaign Pool

FFG- Beleagured Hills

2 thoughts on “The Black Gate Opens: Playthrough

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