This quest answers the question what happens to the Eagles when they fly too far East. They get shot down. This quest is one of the more controversial quests in the game, in that it has a very special way to resolve the quest in the final stage. The Quest has you escorting the wounded Eagle Wilyador to the wizard Radagast. While you take the Eagle to Rhosgobel, it is slowly starting to lose hitpoints. Your task is to find Athelas plants in order to heal the Eagle completely before you finish the quest. Whether or not you win the quest is decided at the very end, based on the damage on Wilyador. This is where a lot of frustration about this quest is born, as people invest a lot of time on the quest, to lose eventually to a late reveal or poor maths.
A Journey to Rhosgobel
- Found in adventure pack 3 of the Shadows of Mirkwood cycle
- Official difficulty: 6
- Community difficulty: 6.1
- Encounter sets; A Journey to Rhosgobel, Spiders of Mirkwood, Orcs of Dol Guldur
- Quest cards: 3
- What is special about this quest?: Objective ally needs to be fully healed, Objectives to be collected in the encounter deck, Eagle heavy quest, You do not know if you win until the very end
- Play if: You have a Healing deck that likes a challenge, you want to test your Eagle deck, you haven’t played this quest in a while and want to be kept in suspense until the end.
- Solo or Multiplayer?: In multiplayer you are far more likely to encounter the Athelas objectives, making healing easier. Be careful with the progress you make though, you don’t want to progress the stages too quickly
- Can I bring Side-quests?: I wouldn’t recommend it. Only if you are able to stall the game. Wilyador is losing health after each round, so playing The Long Defeat on side quests can be worthwhile.
Stage 1A has you search the encounter deck for the Wilyador objective ally and the unique Rhosgobel location. The location starts with 1-4 threat, depending on the number of players in the game. The location prohibits the players from healing Wilyador while the location is in the staging area. However, players are not allowed to travel to Rhosgobel while they are at stage 1 of the quest. The ways around this will be discussed later.
Wilyador starts in the staging area under control of the first player. He enters play with 2 damage already on him, and he suffers an additional 2 damage at the end of each round. This gives the players 9 rounds before the Eagle is dead and the players have lost. You can stretch this by including healing effects of your own.
Quest card 1: The Wounded Eagle – 8 quest points
There is no game text on this quest card, so there is really nothing special about this part. Be on the lookout for Athelas objectives and Forest Grove. If you are able to clear Rhosgobel in the staging area, you will be able to heal Wilyador already. If not, preserve your healing effects for the next stage. Scrying the encounter deck for Athelas is also a valid strategy. use Scout Ahead, lore Denethor or Risk Some Light in order to put the Athelas on top. You might also be able to pick the best card to guard it with. The 8 quest points shouldn’t be too hard to overcome, so by turn 3, you should have passed on to the next stage. Hopefully, you have found at least 1 Athelas objective by that time.
Quest card 2: Radagast’s Request – 12 quest points
Now you are able to travel to Rhosgobel if you haven’t cleared it already. The moment it becomes active, players are able to heal the eagle with everything they have. I personally like to include Lore of Imladris, as it heals the full 5 hitpoints on the creature. Note that you can’t heal more than 5 hitpoints per effect. Stage 2 instructs the players to remove every card that is used to heal Wilyador from the game. This does include Elrond, as he targets the character that is healed itself. Restrict Elrond’s healing to your own characters, it is a response, so you get to choose whether or not yu trigger it.
The effect will also include characters like Lorefindel, Ioreth, Warden of Healing, and Imladris Caregiver. Attachments and events are also removed from the game the moment they heal even a single hitpoint off of Wilyador. They are not just discarded, that would allow you to recycle the events, but they are removed from the game entirely.
The quest card also gives the players a moral dilemma. The scrying effect on the quest stage says that players may deal X damage to Wilyador in order to peek at the top 3 cards. From these cards, you must reveal 1 and discard the other 2. This can only be triggered by the first player at the start of the Quest phase. In solo, this is a good way to find more Athelas for only 1 damage. However, since the scrying doesn’t scale up to the number of players in the quest (unlike Scout Ahead), it is normally not worth the 4 damage. You are not guaranteed to reveal Athelas, and you might have to stomach a nasty treachery or enemy. Since you have to reveal the card at the beginning of the quest stage, the threat of the revealed card will still count towards the total in the staging area. So I would not recommend using this ability unless you have stacked the encounter deck in such a way that you know what is coming up.
The 12 quest points on this quest shouldn’t be explored as fast as possible. Try and find enough healing herbs in order to heal Wilyador completely before you advance. Timing is key here, if you have any other healing abilities, make sure to use them before you advance.
Quest card 3: Return to Rhosgobel – 0 quest points
Now we come to the most stressing part of this quest, the final stage. There is no progress to be made as the quest resolves once the final effect on the stage has been completed. The When Revealed effect on this stage has you heal Wilyador 5 points per Athelas objective you have claimed. The number of objectives you need will depend on how long you’ve taken to get to this stage, what encounter cards you have revealed, and if you have healed Wilyador in the meantime. The safest bet is to have claimed all of the objectives, but that is difficult to find in such a large encounter deck.
After this effect has resolved, the moment arrives where players win or lose. If Wilyador has any damage on him after the Athelas heals, the players lose. This can be frustrating to the players, as you have worked hard to keep this eagle alive, but he ends up with 1 damage left on him causing you to lose the quest. Know that you are not able to take actions after this effect has triggered. Your own healing effect will have to be played during stage 2.
If your eagle has regained all of his 20 hitpoints, you win the quest and are free to move on to Emyn Muil.
The encounter deck
- There are 53 cards to reveal in Normal mode, 37 in Easy mode, a lot of treacheries get cut.
- There is a 51% chance in both modes of revealing a shadow card.
- The Average Threat to be revealed per card is 1.1 in Normal Mode and 1.3 in easy mode.
- Chances of you getting Athelas or Forest Grove revealed is 15% in normal mode, and 21% in easy mode.
- Only Driven by Shadow can get Surge, this really isn’t the quest that reveals more than 1 card per player each round.
- Doomed is not a keyword that can be found on this quest. You are free to bring your own.
The new expansion adds a little variety to the quest, but not a lot. The only cards added are 2 types of enemies, 2 types of location (of which 1 is unique), and 3 types of treacheries. You will be seeing a lot of these though, with a lot of these cards having 4 or 5 copies in the encounter deck. If you really find yourself struggling, try easy mode. It removes a lot of the nasty treacheries and makes it more fun to play.
This Eagle objective ally ranks among the toughest of creatures in the game. 20 hitpoints are the same level as Smaug, and even stronger than the ship objectives you get in the Dream-chaser cycle. However, despite his massive pool of hitpoints, Wilyador is not a character you want to be defending with. At the end of each round, he will take 2 points of damage, resulting in you fighting to keep him alive. I find this technique more thematic than the Time keyword that got introduced during the Ringmaker cycle. The other stats on Wilyador are not great, 1/1/1 stats make him a mediocre ally to use for defence or questing. You really don’t want to be questing with him though, as certain treacheries will deal more damage to him. If he is exhausted to quest, treacheries like Exhaustion and Necromancer’s Reach will cause you to find more Athelas in order to help him survive.
Instead, try using Wilyador as an attacker, his 1 attack strength might not count for much, but the fact that he is an Eagle makes him more likely to attack a Mirkwood Flock or Black Forest Bats. In a pinch, you can also defend one of these enemies with Wilyador, though I must recommend you do not do this during the later stages of the game. That single point of damage that you take from the attack, might prove fatal during stage 3.
This item is what you are really digging for in the encounter deck. While it might not look important based on its text, in the hands of a healer, it will help Wilyador immensely. The effect on stage 3 of the quest instructs players to heal 5 damage per Athelas off of Wilyador, this could have you heal him completely, as you are able to find 4 objectives in the encounter deck. It is a good idea to try and scry a little for these objectives and make sure you find enough before you finish stage 2. This might mean that you have to stall a little before you advance to stage 3 in order to find an additional copy. Be aware that this does mean that Wilyador is going to take more damage, so try and quest through once you are certain you have enough healing herbs.
The only text on Athelas is the Guarded keyword, which makes players reveal the next card of the encounter deck and place it on top of Athelas. If it is a location, the players must first explore it. If it is an enemy, the players must first kill it. If it is a treachery, the players must first endure the effect of it or cancel it. In case you reveal another copy of Athelas, the official ruling is that the second copy doesn’t get guarded, and you first claim the top Athelas in order to be able to claim the bottom one. This is extremely rare but will be amazing if you were looking for Athelas. Claiming these objectives will require players to exhaust 1 hero and attach Athelas to that hero. Readying effects are important here or just bring Tactics Boromir.
If the Athelas Objective is dealt to an enemy as a Shadow card, you must discard it. This can be terrible if you needed that final objective to pass to the final stage and win. Consider using Shadow of the Past to put the objective back into the encounter deck.
Since the new expansion of this scenario doesn’t include a large variety of new cards, there are only 2 new locations for players to explore. With one of them being a unique location that starts in the staging area, and the other being a fetch-location, it is important to get to know these locations.
- Rhosgobel: This unique location starts off in the staging area during setup. Its threat scales to the number of players in the game, with a limit of 4. The 4 quest points on the location can be put on Rhosgobel while it is in the staging area since it is not immune to player card effects like Northern Tracker. Players are also able to put attachments on the location in order to explore it. Think of Hithlain and Explorer’s Almanac for these effects. You will want to clear the location as soon as possible in order to start healing Wilyador. The location restricts this while it is in the staging area. Once you pass stage 1, you are free to travel to it and get rid of it that way. Since Rhosgobel has 4 victory points, you are guaranteed to never see it again halfway through the quest.
- Forest Grove: The only new location you can encounter during this quest is actually a beneficial one. Forest Grove lets the players find an Athelas objective once they explore the location. They add the objective to the staging area. Keep in mind that as the objective was not revealed from the encounter deck, the Guarded keyword does not trigger. This allows you to get some very easy Athelas on the table quickly! This location is always worth it to travel to, as more Athelas can be found, even when it comes up as a Shadow card on an enemy. There are 4 copies of this location, to pair the 4 objectives in the deck. This doubles the chances of you finding an objective, so be on the lookout for this card.
Just 2 new enemies are added to the card pool in this scenario, but they will be a common threat as there are 4-5 copies of each in the encounter deck. Not only that, but the enemies are also quite similar to each other in art, shadow effect, and restrictions. Besides them, Hummerhorns, Chieftain Ufthak, and Ungoliant’s Spawn are back to make your quest more miserable.
- Black Forest Bats: The weaker enemy of the two, but at a lower engagement cost, you are more likely to encounter this one. The 0 defence on the enemy and just 2 hitpoints make it very vulnerable to Thalin/Argalad and Straight Shot. Try adding some direct damage to your decks in order to prevent these enemies from engaging you. Even cards like Fresh Tracks and Expecting Mischief can be useful against these enemies. Once engaged, the Bats can only be defended by Eagle Characters or by Characters with Ranged. Pro tip: Add some Winged Guardians to your deck to have a solid defence option against the bats. You might also want to consider taking the attack undefended, but this can lead to nastier shadow effects and more damage on your heroes. Ranged Characters are often not really defensive so you might not want to risk that if it isn’t needed. Attacking the Bats is easier, as Ranged characters often have 2 or more attack power to handle them. Be sure to add Ranged Characters in your deck in order to get rid of these enemies immediately.
- Mirkwood Flock: CTRL+C, CTRL+V of the Black Forest Bats, only that the Flock has a higher engagement cost, a slightly higher attack, a point of defence, and an additional hitpoint. The strategy remains the same: Kill them with direct damage, or have enough Ranged Characters ready to deal with them. 4 combined defensive stats may be more difficult, but combine a couple of archers with some weapons and you should be fine.
A thing about the shadow effects on these enemies, you really don’t want to take undefended attacks as the shadow effects on the Bats and the Flock have you placing the damage on Wilyador. This can cost you an additional round before the Eagle dies. If he has plenty of hitpoints, it becomes less of a problem. However, Murphy’s Law dictates that you will end up with just that final point of damage on him at the end of the game, causing you to lose.
3 new treacheries are added to the pool, all with the idea to make Wilyador suffer as much damage as possible. They end up trying to deal a lot of damage to your own board state. These treacheries are really old testament before de developers had a clear sense of balance. Each treachery is also actively trying to kill off a lot of your allies and can potentially kill a Hero as well. These treacheries are really powerful and are one of the reasons this quest is less enjoyable to people.
- Swarming Insects: This effect is brutal, while designed for Wilyador (as he can’t have attachments) it will end up clearing your board of allies within a couple of reveals. This Treachery will probably be countered best in a future Dale deck, which focusses on having more attachments on allies. Be aware that this can target your heroes as well. Be sure to include some attachments for your key characters to get out early. Spare Hood and Cloak for your allies and Cram for your Heroes makes sure that they at least have an attachment on them. The shadow effect on the treachery is also worth cancelling. Dealing 3 damage to the most damaged character on the board will be tough to deal with. You could try and have Beorn on the table with more damage on him than Wilyador, but it will require quite some setting up for this to work. Just bring Hasty Stroke.
- Festering Wounds: This treachery ranks in my mind as one of the most brutal in the entire game. You will have to make sure that you heal every point of damage off of your allies and heroes, or otherwise, they suffer an additional 2 damage. This will kill off any character with 3 hitpoints. Fortunately, there are only 2 copies of this card in the deck in Normal mode, so you won’t probably chain into these. The Shadow effect on this card is the same as if you would reveal it, only slightly less damage (unless you take it undefended).
- Exhaustion: The big bad brother of Necromancer’s Reach. This one scales up the damage to 2 points to every exhausted character in the game. Drawing this late in the round can wipe away your questers and any other character that managed to get exhausted. Bring Dwarves or Ents to deal with this much direct damage (this is no guarantee that they’ll live though). To make matters worse, there are 4 copies of this card, and they all have shadow effects. The shadow effect will have you do the exact thing that Necromancer’s Reach does, only later in the round. This might cause you to take more damage on your defenders and characters that exhausted for combat phase abilities.
Tips and Tricks
- Bring healing of your own. At least one player should play Elrond to boost any healing effect that is played. Effects like Lore of Imladris, Waters of Nimrodel, and The Long Defeat are all good options to include. Ioreth and Wardens of Healing will be able to target Wilyador, maintaining enough hitpoints on him in order to heal him with the Athelas. The Athelas player card is not the same as the objective so you won’t be able to sneak your way through quest stage 3 that way. The damage can also quickly pile up on your other characters, make sure to spread the healing to those in need before a treachery wipes your board clean.
- You might not be allowed to travel to Rhosgobel, but you are able to place progress on the location. Clearing it on stage 1 will allow you to keep the damage on Wilyador in check and heal him when possible.
- Since some enemies and effects target one Eagle or Creature card, you should definitely think about bringing some Eagle cards of your own. This will have you handle the Black Forest Bats and the Mirkwood Flock much better. You can also include more Ranged characters in order to defend and attack the enemies. Combine this with plenty of direct damage, and you should be able to handle combat quite nicely.
- Try and heal Wilyador during the game to his full 20 hitpoints, this will prevent you have to deal more damage to him with Festering Wounds.
- The treacheries are a real pain, so bring Eleanor or A Test of Will to cancel as many as possible. This will help Wilyador and your board state survive a bit longer.
- Damage cancellation or redirection does not count towards the discarding effect of stage 2. This makes Honour Guard and Vigilant Guard good options to include in tactics. You can heal the hero with Vigilant Guard attached with effects like Galadhrim Healer or Self Preservation.