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The Road Goes Ever On - an LOTR:LCG Marathon/Blog


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#21
dragoncymru

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Preparing for a trudge through ‘The Dead Marshes’

Another week, another adventure pack, more player cards to add to the growing pool and I think the cards this week are amongst the strongest collection so far. The Hero in this one is an absolute star – Boromir! With an Action to ready him and an Action to deal loads of damage to engaged enemies, I think he could be really fun to play with lots of options and a good set of stats to boot.

Other new cards in the set are also strong. ‘Fast Hitch’ is great for hobbits, it’s nice to see more Silvan allies (even if ‘Silvan Tracker’ is a bit expensive), ‘Dunedain Watcher’ has great Shadow cancellation for Leadership, ‘Vassal of the Windlord’ is good for cheap ‘hit n’ run’ damage’, and we have 2 Songs too!

Since I tweaked a few cards last week, this week I won’t touch any for a Solo tweak.

My new Haven is a bit of a return to a previously visited location – even though it wasn’t a Haven as such when I rescued Wilyador the giant eagle a few weeks ago- Rhosgobel:
 

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I don’t go through the encounter deck before I play a quest so I’m not sure quite what to expect. I’ll keep my usual heroes and Boons and perhaps add some more eagles with ‘Vassal of the Windlord’ as it’s so cheap.

“The Road Goes Ever on...”


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#22
dragoncymru

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The Dead Marshes’

This was another enjoyable quest with some very atmospheric Locations and treacheries – loads of fog, mist, gloom and tricksy lights. Gollum is a slippery little devil isn’t he? I really liked the Escape test mechanic even though those resource tokens mounted up on Gollum really quickly!

This quest is all about speed and questing (!) and the more Willpower you have, the quicker you get through it and the less resource tokens get put on Gollum. Spirit decks would make short work of this and the more allies you get out the better chance you have of clearing the staging area and handling the relentless escape tests. My tri-sphere deck worked well even though on the first 2 attempts I had no access to Spirit cards. I did manage to get a fair few allies on the table however including Gandalf. On my first attempt there were 6 resource tokens on Gollum when the final Escape attempt came and I was really lucky to have only 1 card with an Escape value in the 6 drawn.

Your threat can rise very quickly in this quest too and on my second attempt a hill troll lumbered out of the fog to engage me. Luckily a Feint managed to slow him down for a round before I snagged him with a Forest Snare.

My first 2 attempts were both successful, albeit with some luck and close-calls, so I tried a third time with no starting Boons. This time I was still successful, although it was a close-call with a very lucky final Escape Test with 7 cards from the encounter Deck. On my last attempt of the quest, I added all the removed Encounter cards from the Adventure Pack and with all the extra Encounter cards with ‘Escape’ on them, Gollum soon vanished into the marshes and I couldn’t find him again before my threat went over 50!

Although I used ‘Eagle eyrie’ and ‘Messengers of Manwe’, the Haven didn’t see much use in this quest, although I have to say ‘Vassals of the Windlord’ is such a great card!

I’m coming close to the end of the first cycle and my road is turning back to Mirkwood...

“The Road Goes Ever On...”



#23
dragoncymru

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Preparing to ‘Return to Mirkwood’

I can’t believe that I’ve nearly come to the end of the ‘Shadows of Mirkwood’ cycle already! The new Hero introduced in this pack is the first Dwarf since the Core Set (could be handy soon...) and is ‘Dain Ironfoot’. Dain is a stellar Hero for dwarf decks and will no doubt see a lot of play of my games in the next few weeks.

The other new cards in this pack are fairly consistent, if not top notch. The Leadership cards are a bit weak, Spirit cards adds more Rohan flavour which I quite like and the Tactics cards are more Eagle-goodness, and I’m very fond of ‘Eagles of the Misty Mountains’. My favourites are the Lore cards though with ‘Rumour from the Earth’ being fantastic solo and it’s always nice to see another Silvan ally with ‘Mirkwood Runner’. The Neutral card ‘Shadows From the Past’ is an odd one though and very expensive at 2 Cost for a very situational card.

Once again, I’m pleased to say that the player cards in this pack don’t need any Solo tweak.

My new card this week is a Haven Support card for Rhosgobel:
 

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Since I’m going back into Mirkwood, I’m keeping the theme by saying goodbye to my Eagle cards as they really shouldn’t be in there. I have also returned to use the original Core Haven of ‘Thranduil’s Halls’ together with the support card ‘Defenders of the Woodland Realm’. I’ve added some more Silvan allies too and chosen to use the Boons of Hidden (Legolas), Go Ever On (Aragorn) and Inspiration (Beravor)

“The Road Goes Ever On...”



#24
dragoncymru

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‘Return to Mirkwood’

I found this quest really enjoyable, if a bit ‘bipolar’. It seemed that there were loads of mechanics and cards that punished the solo player, most importantly as you have to guard Gollum every turn! This means a massive threat increase of 4 each turn (!) so including my ‘Hidden’ Boon was a good idea, plus always using Gandalf for threat reduction. Other cards included the Locations ‘Woodman’s Glade’ and ‘Wood Elf Path’ – both which help multi-player but do nothing for the poor solo player! On the other hand, the Quest cards seemed to cut me a bit of solo slack. Like other quests, speed was of the essence so I used ‘Go Ever On’ pretty quickly!

But even so, my first attempt was successful. I was very lucky however and the encounter deck just gave me lots if easy locations and few enemies. Questing quickly, I managed to get to Thranduil’s Halls in 5 turns with no enemies in the staging area so no last battle!

My second attempt lasted exactly 4 turns. This time I had a few enemies straight off the bat that kept me busy. Then I drew ‘Gollum’s Anguish’! Dear me, what a card – a threat increase of 8! With no handy threat reduction coming from my deck and a threat increase of 4 per turn (thanks Gollum!), my threat just soared to 50! (In fact, all the nasty Gollum ‘Tantrum’ Treachery cards in this pack just scream: ‘play ‘Test of Will’ or use Elanor’)!

Third time out was similarly quick with a rocketing Threat plus a horde of 2 Mirkwood Bats and a King Spider making a nasty bite out of my party! My last attempt was successful again, although only just with a final Threat of 45, and fairly gentle Encounter deck cards. I was fortunate to get ‘Celebrian’s Stone’ in my opening hand and then a few Gandalf’s out to reduce my Threat. My ‘Thranduil’s Halls’ Haven also played really well with lots of Forest locations in the Encounter deck so with my ‘Defenders of the Woodland Realm’ I managed to spring a Silvan ally out for 2 cost (great when that ally is cost 4 Haldir).

So that wraps up my trek through Mirkwood looking for tricksy Gollum and my heroes sit back and enjoy the hospitality of Thranduil (when are we going to see him in the game FFG??). But what’s that? I hear that old Balin hasn’t sent any emails back from Moria! Time to go underground...

“The Road Goes Ever On...”



#25
dragoncymru

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Going Underground

So one complete cycle done and it’s a very exciting time for me as I begin a brand new cycle which I remember to be rich in theme. ‘Khazad-dum’ brings a totally different feel to the game from ‘Shadows of Mirkwood’ and leafy glades and paths get changed to darkly lit mines and twisting underground passages.

In this expansion we get two new Heroes – Bifur and Dwalin. Bifur is our first Lore Dwarf Hero and is only Threat 7 which is a nice low cost. Dwalin is our first Spirit Dwarf Hero and has a terrific orc-slaying/threat reduction ability which I can only foresee being totally useful in the depths of Moria!

There are also 11 other new cards in the set, nearly all of which are dwarf-themed. I love the Tactics ‘Khazad, Khazad!’ attack bonus and the ‘Dwarrowdelf Axe’ is a fantastic new weapon! The Spirit sphere gains a great questing bonus card in underground Locations with ‘Untroubled by Darkness’ and of course the infamous ‘Zigil Miner’. Lore’s ‘Ancestral Knowledge’ is a cheap way of clearing active underground or mountain Locations and ‘Erebor Record Keeper’ is a way of readying dwarves. Leadership gains the handy ‘Narvi’s Belt’ and ‘Durin’s song’ but ‘Ever onward’ seems to be expensive and below par. ‘Boots of Erebor’ is also a cheap Neutral boost.

All the cards in this set are ‘solo friendly’ so once again, we don’t need to have any solo tweaks

I have included two new Havens and support cards for this expansion and tried to maintain the dwarf theme:
 

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This new cycle means I have to totally change my deck to maintain the theme. So out go all the elves (no more Riversong!), rangers (goodbye to my favourite – Beravor) and lastly the Eagles (who shouldn’t be underground).

“The Road Goes Ever On...”
 



#26
dragoncymru

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Preparing to go ‘Into the Pit’.

To begin this cycle I literally started from scratch with my deck. With all the Songs available to me, plus the new ‘Narvi’s Belt’ I’m going to stick with a tri-Sphere deck as I feel solo play benefits from a breadth of abilities from the different Spheres.

I decide to go for a Lore/Spirit/Leadership deck with Bifur, Dwalin and Dain as my heroes. I wrestled over not having a Tactics hero and both Gimli and Thalin had a close chance to get in for a long time, but Dain had to be an automatic include. Since using my rules I get to choose my 7th card, this could be ‘Narvi’s Belt’ and put it on Dain who could then do double duty as Tactics/Leadership resource generator. I did think that since I have only 1 Core Set, and I only have 1 copy of ‘Unexpected Courage’, I could make this my 7th card and put on Dain, but my Erebor Haven can do some readying once I get some allies there.

My deck was exclusively Dwarf themed and had a fair balance of the different Spheres. I had 12 Spirit cards that included ‘Zigil Miner’, ‘Untroubled by Darkness’ and ‘Dwarven Tomb’. My 12 Lore cards included ‘Ancestral Knowledge’, ‘Erebor Record Keeper’, ‘Erebor Hammersmith’, ‘Longbeard Map-Maker’ and ‘Miner of the Iron Hills. My 12 Tactics cards included ‘Citadel Plate’, ‘Dwarven Axe’, ‘Dwarrowdelf Axe’ and ‘Khazad! Khazad’. Then lastly my 8 Leadership cards had ‘Durin’s song’, ‘Narvi’s Belt’ and ‘Longbeard Orc Slayer’. Then 6 Neutral cards filled out the deck – 3 Gandalf of course, plus 2 ‘Wealth of the Mountain’ and a ‘Boots of Erebor’ for Bifur!

My starting Boons are going to be Wisdom, Inspiration and Healing Balm on Bifur, Dain and Dwalin respectively. I chose these as Lore dwarves have little card draw or healing available to them and some more Resources for Dain are always a good thing since he has to pay for 2 Spheres!

“The Road Goes Ever On...”
 



#27
dragoncymru

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‘Into the Pit’

What a fantastic themed quest this was! So different from the Mirkwood quests and you really feel like you’re exploring the dark and twisting mines of Moria with Goblins jumping out at you at every turn. I feel the designers really did a good job and the mechanics of the massing hordes of goblins in the shadows was cool.

My first attempt ended in defeat. Although I got through the fixed Locations of ‘East Gate’, ‘First Hall’ and ‘The Bridge of Khazad-dum’ and into the second quest card, the nasty Patrol Leader Goblin plus a few of his goblin pals soon finished me off. The staging area got full of nasty Locations and quests ended unsuccessfully!

It was really strange working with a new set of Heroes and knowing how they operate together (and not having Beravor to draw more cards). It was the same with totally new deck of cards. I had to take it much slower, and really had to take my time reading the cards and thinking through my strategy which meant that the quest felt fresh and exciting. I really missed not having ‘Riversong’ to rely on at the start of the turn too!

Without changing my deck at all, my second attempt went a bit further than before but despite getting ‘Narvi’s Belt’ in my opening hand and thus opting for ‘Unexpected Courage’ for my 7th card, I still succumbed to the hordes of goblins that came at me. My draw deck wasn’t that kind however with very few allies or good bonus events forthcoming. I didn’t read the second stage of the quest right however and that didn’t help.

Third time lucky? Not really as I never even got past the East Gate this time before the staging area was over-run by nasty locations and goblins and my threat hit 50 before I knew it. The same was true for my fourth attempt although I did last a little longer but still didn’t get into the mines at all!

So one last attempt and I swapped out ‘Healing Balm’ for ‘Hidden’ for a bit of Threat reduction and this time I managed to beat the quest! It was a close call though with a final threat of 47 and with all my heroes dripping wounds from the goblin patrol attack before I finished the final nasty quest stage where you don’t generate resources– and that was with 2 last minute ‘Cave In’ cards!

Still no sign of Balin though? Perhaps he’s sent me a text...?

“The Road Goes Ever On...”
 



#28
dragoncymru

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Getting to ‘The Seventh Level’.

This was the easiest preparation in the world as there were no more new cards from a new adventure pack! I think my dwarf deck from last time worked quite well but I noticed that there were no nasty Treachery cards that were ‘Condition Attachment’ type (like ‘Caught in a Web’), so I swapped out my two copies of ‘Miner of the iron Hills’ and replaced them with another ‘Erebor Record Keeper’ and a copy of ‘Ever Onward’. I think I might have underestimated this last card because the combination of goblin swarms and nasty locations can ramp up the threat quite a bit in one round. It would have been nice to have one round where I could have concentrated on just clearing out the goblins and ignored any questing.

I put another ‘Erebor Record Keeper’ as it worked so well on my Erebor Haven to ready Dain when needed. It’s very thematic imagining this little dwarf recording all the heroic exploits of his pals as they adventure through Moria, and if I can get a couple of them there then I can ready Dwalin for some good Attack strength and then Threat reduction.

Erebor was working well as a thematic Haven although I didn’t get my ‘Wealth of the Mountain’ into play last time, so I’m hoping it will appear in this quest

Apart from those tiny tweaks, my deck remained the same as did my Heroes of Dain, Dwalin and Bifur. However I swapped the Boons around with Bifur having ‘Inspiration’, Dain having ‘Wisdom’ and Dwalin with ‘Hidden’.

Now, what happened to Balin? Where’s that dead goblin?

“The Road Goes Ever On...”
 



#29
dragoncymru

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‘The Seventh Level’

This quest is just a fast run through Moria where you have to quest as much as possible so that the goblins don’t have time to swarm out of the tunnels and overwhelm you. In that way, the quest was very thematic although once you’ve figured that speed is of the utmost importance, it’s fairly easy to beat.

Of course, since I don’t look at the encounter deck beforehand, I didn’t realise the first time out and even though my final Threat was really low with Dwalin’s Threat reduction when he kills an orc (handily almost all enemies in this quest are orcs), the swarming mechanic of those pesky Goblin Spearmen and Goblin Swordsmen meant that I had a huge swarm of goblins coming at me that just overwhelmed my dwarves. I also made the mistake of not exploring the ‘Goblin Tunnels’ Location that made any progress neglible!

The ‘Book of Mazrabul’ Objective card is a great help on the first stage and is a natural card for Dain so that he always stays ready in the Quest phase. Dain rarely attacks so the attack restriction is not a problem. For this quest I also put ‘Narvi’s Belt on Bifur as I realised that it was more efficient with his card ability.

For my second attempt I added another copy each of ‘Untroubled by Darkness’, ‘Ancestral Knowledge’ and ‘Durin’s Song’ to get more Willpower for questing. I also swapped the ‘Hidden’ Boon (Threat reduction isn’t needed with Dwalin here) for ’Go Ever On’, again for more questing power.

This time I was very successful and finished the quest in 5 turns! I went as fast as possible, got quite a few allies out and just went for total questing. I think I was a bit lucky with my encounter deck however.
Third time out and to make it more of a challenge I removed the Boons. Unfortunately I didn’t really get going. With a terrible hand of cards and absolutely no allies in sight at all, my 3 dwarf heroes soon got overwhelmed again by hordes of nasty goblins who stuck me with spears until the dwarves expired by round 6!

Unfortunately, my last attempt, with no Boons again, was again unsuccessful for much the same reason – not being quick enough off the bat – even if I did get onto the second quest card this time.

Overall, a fun quest but a bit hit and miss that depends on the amount of allies you can get out quickly.

But can I hear drums? Perhaps it’s best to get out of here...??

“The Road Goes Ever On...”
 



#30
dragoncymru

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Preparing for a ‘Flight from Moria’.

Another really easy preparation as I didn’t change a card from my deck, kept the same heroes, the same Boons and the same Erebor Haven too!

Now I could be heading for a quick defeat, but since I don’t look at the encounter deck beforehand, I’m trying to maintain my ‘campaign’ play with the same Heroes. I did consider swapping out Dwalin and replacing him with Thalin. I could still use ‘Narvi’s Belt’ to access Spirit cards and my logic behind this was all the low hit point goblins that were coming out of the encounter deck in ’The Seventh Level’. If Thalin were questing, he would do a point of damage to them as they were coming off the deck so if you equipped him with ‘Unexpected Courage’ and then a ‘Dwarrowdelf Axe’, he could do another point of damage and kill the goblin before it drew its spear or sword. This could be useful in this scenario too but I have a feeling that Dwalin’s threat reduction might be even more important in this scenario with that nasty ‘Nameless Fear’ lurking in the shadows...

Those drums are getting louder! Time to get my running shoes on I think...

“The Road Goes Ever On...”
 



#31
dragoncymru

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‘Flight from Moria’

My first thought with this quest is how unique the Quest card mechanic plays. It is completely different from the usual setup which gives a really fresh feel and it also means that the tactic this time is not just to rush through the quest cards as quickly as possible (as i first thought). Unfortunately, the random nature of the quest deck means that you can either have a breeze-through or a real toil in getting out of the Mines!

The first time out with this quest was successful although it almost wasn’t for two good reasons. As I’ve said before, I don’t read through the encounter or quest deck before I tackle it so when I started through the quest, I wasn’t at all sure of what could turn up, so when my second 2B quest card was ‘Escape from Darkness’ I thought that this was the ONLY way out. So my logic was to stay with this card and try to get the ‘Abandoned Tools’ Objective card from the encounter deck. Luckily, it didn’t take too long to come out (and also fortunately it didn’t appear as a Shadow card as that would’ve meant another trawl through the encounter deck a la Gollum escaping in ‘The Dead Marshes’). I was just chipping away with my Tools (and exhausting Bifur twice per round as I had an ‘Erebor Record Keeper’ at Erebor) when ‘New Devilry’ appeared and shuffled ‘Escape from Darkness’ back into the quest deck! I was aghast, and thought this could add another half hour to the game as I trolled through the quest deck again, but with an enormous amount of luck, it popped out again even after the shuffle (which was NOT fixed in anyway – honest!!).

My second attempt, I changed none of my cards and exchanged my ‘Go Ever On’ Boon for ‘Resolve’. I kept my Boons in case my first attempt success was just due to pure luck. I guess it was as this time I got stomped on properly! An early ‘Hasty Council’ going into the Victory Pile meant that ‘The Nameless Fear’ had a Threat of 4 from the first turn and I just never got enough Willpower on the table before the locations piled up and then the goblins swarmed out of the tunnels and engulfed me – and a ‘Foe Beyond’ killed off Dwalin too!

The third time out was a ‘worst nightmare’ scenario – even though I won! An early ‘Escape the Darkness’ quest card meant that I trod steadily through the Encounter deck waiting to get the ‘Abandoned Tools’ until, yes, you guessed, it came out as a Shadow card! Not looking forward to going through the Encounter deck again, I chose to bypass the Quest card and after a ‘Heading Up’ got ‘Blocked by Shadow’. Risking it, I didn’t get a Treachery card ‘instant lose’ but instead with my ‘Longbeard Mapmaker’ finished the quest card in 1 round!

For my final attempt at the quest, I removed my starting Boons for a bit more challenge. This was a fun and successful play-through where everything went according to plan – this time to get as many Quest cards out in the Victory Pile! However by the end, ‘The Nameless Fear’ had a Threat of 7 which was a bit (appropriately) scary. Thank goodness I didn’t draw ‘A Foe Beyond’!

So I managed to escape Khazad-dum and am looking forward to more dwarf-themed quests...

Hang on, it seems like Arwen wants an escort over the Misty Mountains? Since when do dwarves escort elves...?

“The Road Goes Ever On...”
 



#32
dragoncymru

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Preparing for a trek up to ‘The Redhorn Gate’

So a new cycle begins and, rather strangely, the narrative means that we’re out of the mines again! This new Adventure pack and cycle also introduces the new ‘Secrecy’ mechanic which is a cool rules addition.

Our new hero for this pack is Elrohir. He’s a bit high cost until (Spoilers!) his twin brother enters in the next pack but it’s always nice to have another Noldor hero. Other new player cards include ‘Good Meal’ for any hobbits and lots of cards that play off the Secrecy mechanic like the useful ’Needful to Know’, ‘Timely Aid’ and ‘Taking Initiative’. The new ‘Bofur’ ally is very useful and ‘Keeping Count’ is incredibly thematic.

My new Haven card for this Adventure pack is the most famous Haven of all – and thematic too:
 

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We haven’t needed any solo tweaks on player cards for ages, but there’s one in this pack, which now reads:

Renewed Friendship - Response: After you play an Item or Title attachment on a hero you control, you may ready 1 of your heroes, draw 1 card, or lower your threat by 2.

Caradhras calls and it’s getting chilly. Come on Arwen, get your snow-boots on...

“The Road Goes Ever On...”
 



#33
dragoncymru

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‘The Redhorn Gate’

For this quest I decided to initially try the secrecy mechanic and fuse that to putting a Hero at a Haven – and keep some theme to the quest too! To this end, I played a mainly Leadership deck with Aragorn and Elrohir and then put Glorfindel in Rivendell. My starting Boons were ‘Hidden’, ‘Go Ever On’ (on Aragorn) and ‘Inspiration’.

My first and second attempts both didn’t get very far before lots of enemies with high Defence swarmed over me. Even though I put Glorfindel in Rivendell, the amount of questing needed with Carhadras in the staging area is so high each round that Secrecy just didn’t work as I didn’t have enough allies out either. I also found out that ‘Taking Initiative’ is a rubbish card so swapped it out for ‘Lore of Imladris’.

Third time out and what an epic game! The first encounter card was ‘Bitter Wind’ which got rid of all my resources in one stroke and I thought I was doomed from the start! But I struggled on and made some headway, getting onto the second quest card where ‘Freezing Cold’ got attached to Elrohir. Then when we got to the third quest stage the ‘Freezing Cold’ killed him off! Again I thought I was doomed (especially when a close escape from ‘Falling Stones’ almost killed Aragorn) but a quick appearance by Gandalf managed to save my skin and just in time, with 4 damage on him, Aragorn got Arwen over the mountains!

I had once last attempt at the quest and kept my starting Boons. I did really well all the way through and got to quest card 3, cleared out Carhadras and got 7 progress tokens on the quest card before a nasty Mountain Warg got lucky and killed Aragorn! Too many locations in the staging area just made it impossible to go further...

I thought this was a very enjoyable and thematic quest that starved you of resources (which I likened to warmth or provisions) and which really played up the treacherous weather and freezing cold in a dangerous trek across the mountains. The enemies and locations helped the theme too.

But my road to Rivendell is in sight...

“The Road Goes Ever On...”
 



#34
dragoncymru

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Preparing to go along ‘The Road to Rivendell’

Another new exciting quest this week and one that I remember has some really nasty Treachery cards...

The new hero for this pack is Elladan, brother of Elrohir, and what a combo the two brothers make! With both in play, their Threat cost is much better value and if they’re escorting their sister then those resources flow! Other new cards from this pack include the excellent ‘Rivendell Blade’ and ‘Lure of Moria’, the useful ‘Out of the Wild’ and ‘Hail of Stones’ together with the fairly useless ‘Bombur’ and very expensive ‘Dunedain Wanderer’.

But with the Spirit cards there is not one, but two solo tweaks from this set:

Rider of the Mark - Action: Spend 1 Spirit resource to discard a shadow card dealt to an enemy you are engaged with. (Limit once per round).

Song of Earendil - Attach to a Spirit hero. Response: After Song of Eärendil enters play, draw 1 card. Response: After you raise your threat, discard Song of Earendil to reduce your threat by the same amount.

My Rivendell support card for this pack is:
 

pic3496196_t.jpg

My Heroes for this quest are going to be the twins Elladan and Elrohir plus Aragorn – so no Secrecy for me this game - with Rivendell as my Haven, my starting threat is 35!

“The Road Goes Ever On...”