Just writing the title of this article gave me flashbacks. This is a quest that you beat once, and not visit ever again. Although I have to admit that I sometimes take a location control deck up against this quest because I know that I won’t face a lot of enemies.
This quest is often regarded as the most boring, and just plain bad quest in the cycle. It has you explore a number of locations, without really any problems. This makes for not a very exciting game. So let’s get this over with… here is my analysis of:
The Hills of Emyn Muil
- Found in Hills of Emyn Muil Adventure pack, Shadows of Mirkwood cycle, pack 4
- Official difficulty: 4
- Community difficulty level: 2.7
- Encounter sets: The Hills of Emyn Muil, Sauron’s Reach, Orcs of Dol Guldur
- Quest cards: 1
- Play if: you really, really haven’t got anything else to play, you have never beaten this quest, you want to test your supportive deck against an enemy light quest.
- What is different about this quest?: Gather victory points to win, lots and lots of locations
- Solo or multiplayer?: You don’t want to bother your friends with this quest, but if you do, try and go for a 2-3 player game. You will finish it faster than in solo, and you may have some enemies to kill. 4 players will result in location lock, as your setup will be tougher.
- Can I run Side Quests for this scenario?: YES, Absolutely bring your side quests to this scenario. The only quest card in the game requires 1 progress so you will be free to clear as many of your own in this scenario. They also build towards your victory points, so that helps you as well.
1A has you searching the encounter deck for 2 unique locations: Amon Hen and Amon Lhaw, The Hill of Sight and the Hill of Hearing. These locations are worth 5 victory points, so it is definitely worth it to clear them. Based on the number of players, you start the game with a 4-16 threat in the staging area. This is quite a lot, but you can quest with most of your characters during the first stage.
Quest card 1: The Hills of Emyn Muil – 1 quest point
This is the only quest card in the game and requires but 1 quest point. However, to beat this scenario, you have to also have 20 victory points. These can be obtained by clearing a lot of Emyn Muil locations. Alternatively, you can also attempt to explore a couple of Player Side Quests to put them into the victory display. An even crazier idea is to use cards like Black Arrow, Red Arrow or Justice Shall Be Done to bump those points up even more. Be careful with the last one though, as you can only win if you have 20 points and there are no more Emyn Muil locations in play. You can also kill Chieftain Ufthak for his 4 victory points, which is 20% of what you will need.
The rest of the quest card instructs you to not clear every location in the staging area because if there are no location cards there, every first treachery card revealed gains Surge. Be reminded that Surge is a keyword and can therefore stack. So if the first treachery already has Surge, it surges into 2 additional cards. This can be the case with Driven by Shadow.
The Encounter Deck
- There are 53 encounter cards that can be revealed in Normal Mode, 32 in Easy mode
- There is a 36% chance of a Shadow effect in Normal Mode, this rises to 40% in Easy mode
- The average threat per card revealed is 1.13 in Normal mode and 1.2 in Easy mode.
- Surge is present on the Eastern Crows, which are a 3 off in Normal mode and 1 in Easy mode. The treachery Impassable Chasm can surge if you do not have an active location in play. Remember the quest effect that gives each first treachery revealed surge if there is no location in the staging area.
- Doomed is only present on the Orc Horse Thieves, which are a 3 off in Normal mode, and 2 in Easy mode
- None of the cards are immune to player card effects, this allows for a lot of location control to be had with the locations in this quest.
The encounter deck is mostly made up out of locations and treacheries. The chances of revealing an enemy are about 1 in every 4 to 5 cards, which in solo isn’t too bad. These chances get even smaller when playing easy mode. Be sure to watch out for the number of treacheries in this deck though, bring A Test of Will or Eleanor to counter an untimely reveal.
This is the type of card the quest is all about. The locations included in the adventure pack all have victory points so you will have to clear at least 6 of them in order to win. Let’s take a look at the locations you may encounter.
- Amon Hen: This location starts in the staging area and is a unique Emyn Muil location worth 5 victory points. The threat value is equal to twice the number of players in the game. This can get up to 8 threat, so be careful in bringing a lot of players to this quest. The 5 quest points it requires to clear can mean that you might not clear it in 1 turn. The location has an effect when it is active. You will not be able to play events while it is active. This will prevent you from playing A Test of Will to cancel a treachery or playing Evening Star to put a lot of progress in the staging area. There are a number of ways around this.
- Time when you travel. Careful planning of when you go to Amon Hen is important. You want to make sure nobody wants to play any events while it is active. After you make it active, try and clear it in 1 go.
- Clear the location in the staging area. Whether you use Backtrack, Explorers Almanac or an army of Northern Trackers, you can still clear the location in the staging area without making it active. This will mean that you will leave a lot of potential threat in the staging area, but at least you can use your events. Making these locations not immune to player card effects opens up a lot of options.
- Amon Lhaw: This location has the same statistics as its western twin, but the effect when it is active is different. Amon Lhaw will have you blank every attachment you control. The same strategy as Amon Hen apply, but I would advise traveling to Amon Lhaw during the early game when not a lot of attachments have been played yet.
- The Highlands: More like the bye-lands, I have had so much luck with this location and Warden of Arnor. Since it is only a 1 threat, 1 quest point location, it can be removed by a host of effects. You can also decide to leave it in the staging area since the 1 point of threat is no real problem. It is only worth 1 victory point, alas, but that is still 5% of what you will need. You will probably never have to pay for its travel cost. The location will have you reveal the next card on the encounter deck and add it to the staging area.
- The East Wall of Rohan: Yikes, a 4 threat location can really put a dent in your progress this round. However, it is only 2 quest points, so it is a fine target for Asfaloth and Evening Star. If you decide to travel to it, you will have to pay an additional matching resource to play for any non-Rohan allies. This might prevent you from playing another Ethir Swordsman or a Galadriel’s Handmaiden next planning phase. You can always opt to include some cheap willpower with Escort from Edoras. The 3 victory points are nice to get once you finally clear it.
- The Shores of Nen Hithoel: This mouthful of a location will require you to dump 1 event card from your hand in order to travel to it. Noldor decks can benefit from this by discarding Elven Light. The stats of 2 threat, 2 quest points and 2 victory points make this quite a vanilla location to reveal.
- The Outer Ridge: Again the stats are 2/2/2, however, the Outer Ridge will boost the threat of all locations in the staging area by 1. Don’t bother to travel to this one, better to explore it in the staging area or travel if you have only 1 other location in the staging area.
- Rauros Falls: Now here is an interesting location. While it is active, you will have to send every character you control to the quest. This makes your board state very vulnerable to Necromancer’s Reach and Rockslide, plus the fact that you won’t have any characters left standing for combat. Try to widdle this one down in the staging area, even if it has 4 quest points.
- The North Stair: This 3/3/3 location is a good one to travel to during the first round. There will be no cards in the discard pile for its effect to trigger. If you must travel to it outside of the first round, try and find the perfect card to return to the staging area. Slick Footing, Driven by Shadow and Treacherous Fog are good treacheries to return to the staging area. Since you have to trigger a When Revealed effect, you might not want to trigger Necromancer’s Reach or Dol Guldur Orcs.
The encounter deck only features one new enemy card so there won’t be a lot of new surprises during combat. The only real threat to watch out for is Chieftain Ufthak. He has been mentioned before, so you should know by now how to get rid of him. He has become a much more juicy target because of his 4 Victory Points. The Eastern Crows also make a return in this quest. Their counter remains Thalin, get him to commit to the quest, and kill the birds before they ever get the chance to surge into something nasty. The Dol Guldur Orcs can have a nasty When Revealed effect when they are revealed, especially if a damaging treachery has just gone off, be sure to always send at least 1 ally to the quest with more than 3 hitpoints. You should be able to heal off the damage after questing.
- Orc Horse Thieves: These enemies are the only new ones in the encounter deck. With a threat of 3, they can certainly put a dent in your questing capacity, though you really don’t need to make so much progress. Their Doomed 2 is also something you don’t want see often, though it is manageable if you can keep your threat under 35. Their main strength lies in the attack boost that they get. For those of you that have suffered from Location lock before, these guys get stronger as the lock (and your misery) intensify. They get plus 1 attack to their stats for each location in the staging area. This can make them quite fearsome, but if you clear out a lot of locations, or don’t reveal any, they should be manageable. You can also always travel to one of the locations to remove them from the staging area. Their defensive stats are not terrible, the 6 hitpoints are even enough to trigger rare effects like Sword of Numenor. You should be able to take them down within 2 turns. As long as you can keep clearing locations in the staging area, the orcs shouldn’t be a problem
Quick bit on the Shadow Effects here, there are a couple that are really nasty. The Shadow on Rockslide will have you receive the attack undefended, even though you declared a defender. If this is a Chieftain or the Horse Thieves, the attack can get out of hand and you might lose a hero. A lot of the other effects return the attacking enemy to the staging area, Wargs style. There is no real problem with the enemy engaging you unlike the Brigands in the Against the Shadow cycle, so you should be fine. You will have to take care of more threat in the staging area next round though.
There are actually quite some treacheries in this deck, so you are bound to see some of them come off. Be careful when questing, as Necromancer’s Reach is in this deck as well. You might want to quest with everyone, but this can lead to the death of some of your allies.
- Rockslide: Easily this is one of the worst cards to reveal during staging. The Hazard has you dealing 2 damage to each questing character, regardless of whether they were exhausted or not. This leads to the death of many questing allies, which makes you vulnerable. With 3 copies of this treachery in the deck, it is paramount that you bring some healing. Having Elrond and Wardens of Healing on the table will ease the pain a little before you have to discard a hero. Draw this one back to back, and you just lost nearly your entire board state. Cancel this one at all costs. The best ally to send to the quest to counter this effect is Sailor of Lune, provided that there is an event on the top of your discard pile.
- Impassable Chasm: This treachery removes all progress on the active location and returns it to the staging area. This can hurt if you were planning on finishing the quest when that location would be explored. However, if this is all you reveal, things aren’t so bad. At least it’s not Rockslide. Drawing another copy of this will have it surge into a new card. You can reliably call Location or Treachery with Minas Tirith Lampwright to cancel the surge.
- Slick Footing: Mind your step, this treachery discards all of the hard-earned progress on locations in the staging area. This can be painful as you just wanted to clear them in the staging area. To make things worse, you have to discard a card from the top of your deck for each progress token discarded. To benefit from this, bring a Noldor or Dwarven mining deck, you might profit. Drawing a second copy of this is a whiff.
Tips and Tricks
- Try and keep your threat below 35. This is the engagement cost of most enemies, which will allow you to choose your own battles. It also makes treacheries like Evil Storm and Treacherous Fog less of an issue.
- Bring Northern Trackers, these rangers will allow you to place progress on all locations in the staging area and will allow you to explore locations without the need of travelling to them. The more you get, the faster this quest will be over.
- Dunedain Pathfinder is a good ally to get out. He is sure to hit with nearly half of the encounter deck being locations. He also lets you find a way around the surge trigger on the quest card. Other scrying effects like Scout Ahead and Risk Some Light can also be useful to put locations on the top of the encounter deck. That way, the first treachery revealed won’t surge and you will get those victory points faster.
- This should go without saying, but be sure to pack enough location control. Warden of Arnor lets you discard The Highlands if they are the first location revealed. Asfaloth can allow you to pop a location with a lot more quest points than usual like Rauros Falls.
- There are quite a few direct damage to questing characters. Be sure to bring some healing to prevent your entire questing board to be wiped. Effects like Rockslide can be very dangerous as it targets every questing character, not every character that exhausted to commit to the quest. Sailor of Lune is a good counter against it, provided you can have an event on the top of your discard pile.
- With a lot of treacheries, cards like Eleanor and A Test of Will are also very useful. They will prevent you getting destroyed with an untimely Rockslide or Necromancer’s Reach. Alternatively, you can experiment with the Door is Closed if you manage to put a treachery into the victory display.
- Victory Display decks can work against this quest. Not all cards are viable targets though, Leave no Trace is practically useless against Emyn Muil locations. Out of the Wild can only work on cards without victory points, so try and fish out some treacheries. Rossiel will almost immediately quest for 4 willpower since the victory display will be stuffed with locations.