Every cycle has a less enjoyable scenario, and it usually is the fourth one. Emyn Muil, Long Dark, Assault on Osgiliath, and Nin-in-Eilph aren’t really the highlights of their cycles. Thankfully the trend gets broken during the Angmar Awakened cycle. This scenario again focusses on finding your way through Moria. The Dwarves and Goblins have carved a labyrinth of tunnels and passages, and it is easy to get lost in. A lot of players play this scenario maybe once, and then move on. The scenario features a new test: The Locate test. This is where early card pool Lore decks shine, as they tend to draw a lot of cards to discard for the test.
The Long Dark
- Found in: The Long Dark Adventure pack, Dwarrowdelf cycle, pack 4
- Official Difficulty: 7
- Community Difficulty: 3.7
- Encounter sets: Long Dark, Deeps of Moria, Twists and Turns
- Quest cards: 2
- Play if: You want a scenario that focusses more on willpower and location control rather than combat, you want to test your Noldor deck by discarding even more cards with the Locate test, you want to play an easy quest, but not Amon Dîn again.
- What is different about this quest?: Locate test, Artifact objective, location focus
- Solo or Multiplayer?: For the locate tests I would recommend playing this with a large number of players, as consecutive locate tests might drain your hand too fast in solo. However, this scenario isn’t really exciting so I wouldn’t recommend using this quest with new players, as they might get bored.
- Can I run Side-Quests for this scenario?: Yes, since you will be focussing on willpower over attack strength, you will be making plenty of progress on those quests to pass them in one go. You can also choose to ignore side quests and burst through this scenario in 3-4 turns. But if you want to stall a little, bringing side quests will be a good idea. My personal recommendation will be Explore Secret Ways, to deal with the threat of the locations. Prepare for Battle will also be useful, as the first player can definitely use that extra card each turn.
A quick note on the difficulty of this quest: in no way is this quest harder than Into Ithilien, Wastes of Eriador or Raid on the Grey Havens. FFG might just be throwing darts on a dartboard and see what number the difficulty should be.
The setup of this quest is plain and easy, the first player will attach the Cave Torch to a hero he controls. Since the Cave Torch is a restricted attachment, players will have to keep in mind what other attachments they want to run on those heroes.
Quest card 1: Journey in the Black Pit – 13 quest points
The When Revealed portion of this stage will have players discard cards from the encounter deck until they reveal locations. Then they add 1 location less than the number of players. In a solo game, the player will be instructed to add just 1 location to the staging area. From this effect, it is the most beneficial to start the game with 2 players. You will reveal the same amount of locations during this step but will be able to commit more willpower to the quest than a solo player could. The cards you discarded that were not locations will get shuffled back into the deck after the players have added the locations to the staging area. So there is no way to clear half of the enemies and treacheries in the encounter deck early because of this.
The rest of the stage is not really interesting. All location cards in play will get +1 threat so clearing locations will be in your best interest. Having at least somebody bring Northern Trackers will help you in clearing all that threat from the staging area. This +1 threat will stack with any other threat raising abilities, like Branching Paths or Burning Low.
It is also important that players will have to make sure they quest successfully during the quest phase. In case this doesn’t happen, players are informed to trigger all lost effects in play. These Lost effects can be found on certain enemies in the staging area or engaged with players. Locations in the staging area or in the active location slot will also count their Lost effect when you are instructed to trigger them.
All in all, the 13 quest points will take you about 3-4 turns to complete. The stage can start off with quite some threat in the staging area, but with some location control and good luck with the cave torch, you should be able to quest successfully.
Quest card 2: Continuing Eastward – 17 quest points
When you place the last progress token on stage 1, you immediately advance to the next stage. When this stage is revealed, the first player is instructed to make a Locate test. Make sure you communicate which player can do this test the best, and time your progress so that this player is the first. You can stall time by clearing side-quests while you wait. You can also include a copy of Follow Me!, as that will also draw that person another card. When the test is passed, play continues as normal. If the test is failed, the players reveal an additional staging step worth of cards (1 per player, counting all keywords). Then, the players will trigger all Lost effects in play. This may make the second stage start off rough, depending on how many Lost effects you just triggered.
The locations will have lost their +1 threat buff while you are on the stage. This makes questing a bit easier if you were having trouble with location lock. The 17 quest points required for this stage may seem like a lot, but by this time your decks should have their engines installed, and will be committing a lot of willpower to the quest each turn. This stage is usually dealt with in 2-3 turns, depending on the number of players.
And that’s it, you passed the scenario. Not really exciting, was it? There may be a case where you only made one locate test in this game when the stages flipped. Besides that, the scenario has been pretty straightforward. Fortunately, the next scenario won’t be that easy, and your questing decks may end up being torn to shreds by Nameless things. Next time: Foundations of Stone.
The Encounter Deck
- The encounter deck has either 60 or 44 cards to reveal, depending on if you are playing Normal or Easy mode.
- Half of the cards have Shadow effects in Normal mode, 59% in Easy mode, shadow cancellation might be nice to bring
- Average threat on cards revealed is 1.4 in either mode, this does not count the X value on Stray Goblin or The Mountains Roots
- 6 cards (10%) have the surge keyword on them, most of the time this is only triggered if a treachery doesn’t go off. Gathering Ground will increase the Surge in the encounter deck substantially
- Doomed 1 is only found on Massing in the Deep
- The Great Cave Troll is the only immune card in the set. It is immune to Ranged attacks and attachments, but not to other player card effects.
- The Pass keyword needed for the Locate test is on 14 cards in Normal mode, and 10 cards in Easy mode. In both modes, the average number of cards you need to discard to reveal a keyword is 4.5. This doesn’t give any guarantees though, sometimes a Pass can be 10 cards deep.
The distribution of the 3 main categories of cards is nearly perfectly equal. This makes guessing with Wingfoot difficult. Treacheries are less common in Easy mode, which makes Cave Torch slightly less reliable.
Durin’s Greaves is an objective attachment you can come across during this scenario. It gets shuffled along with the other encounter cards during setup. It is a very nice card to see during staging, as it won’t surge or trigger some nasty effect. The defence boost is free, and no hero has to exhaust in order to claim the objective. The only negative side about this objective is that the first player will have to attach it to a hero he controls. If other players could really use this attachment, they are in bad luck (or they should play Follow Me!). Be aware that you will sometimes discard this objective because of either the Cave Torch, Locate tests, or some other discarding ability of the encounter deck. This can suck, but the benefit of the attachment is not that big, so you shouldn’t worry.
The Cave Torch also makes its return from Into the Pit. This objective remains unchanged and will be a great tool in helping players to clear the locations in this scenario. Combine this objective with other location control tools, and you will be clearing locations left, right, and centre. The chances of revealing an enemy because of this effect are 35/38% between Normal and Easy mode. Remember that the Cave Torch can only be used to place progress on Dark locations. This makes locations like Silent Caverns immune to its effect.
This scenario is more location focussed than combat. They will most likely be the lost effects you will trigger most in case you do fail a locate test. A lot of these locations we have seen before during Into the Pit so I won’t cover those again. You can check out that review for more information on those cards.
- Twisting Passage: Now here is a location that I really loathe. Twisting Passage will force the first player to make a locate test each time that any amount of progress is placed on it. This can be because you have to clear it as an active location during questing or if you trigger the response of Northern Tracker while it is in the staging area. If that locate test is failed, all progress gets cancelled off of the location, and all Lost triggers will go off. This leaves you in a far worse state than you were before you placed the progress. I would advise players to use Distant Stars or Short Cut in order to circumvent this location. You can get lucky if you pass the locate test, but you will still have to make 5 progress in order to clear it in one go.
- Abandoned Mine: The perfect target for your Cave Torch. You will get rid of a lot of threat in the staging area this way. The Lost trigger on this one might not be a problem in the early game. But in the later stages of the game, having multiple copies of this effect go off will be painful. The top 2 Goblin enemies will get added to the staging area. This will mean that players have to keep in mind in what order they discard cards.
- Silent Caverns: While the location itself is pretty harmless, with only 1 threat and 3 quest points, its Lost effect is quite the opposite. The danger of Sleeping Sentry still haunts players, and this effect will do the second half of that treachery. Note that Silent Caverns is not a Dark location so you won’t be able to Cave Torch this location, though its stats would make it an ideal target.
- Dwarven Forge: This 2/4 location has no real threat to it, except that the Lost trigger may come up if players quest unsuccessfully or fail a Locate test. The effect of this card isn’t horrible though. Players will get to choose a card to discard from their hand. This can either be a copy of a unique card that is already in play, or Noldor decks can fuel their discard pile. The 4 progress tokens required for this location will protect it against a Cave Torch trigger if no other location control has effected it beforehand. Try to clear this in the staging area instead of travelling to it, there are far better options to travel to.
While the locations are the focus of this scenario, the scenario also features some unique enemies. While Moria is known for the Goblin infestation, this scenario also brings some Creatures to the mix. The Great Cave Troll is probably the worst enemy, especially since your decks won’t be focused on dealing with him. However, his engagement cost is quite high, so keeping a low threat should allow you to pass by him unseen.
- Orc Drummer: Drums, drums in the deep. This Orc will raise the threat of each enemy in the staging area by the number of players in the game. This can result in a lot of threat that suddenly got added to the staging area. This Orc is perfect to deal just 1 point of damage to, and suddenly the Orcs are less menacing. Sending Thalin to the quest will deal with this guy no problem. If you don’t deal with him this way, you can always engage him optional, he isn’t immune to that. While he is out of the staging area, his effect is not active anymore, and he makes for a pretty wimpy enemy himself. His 3 defence might be tough to pierce, but a Mirkwood Runner could handle this no problem.
- Rock Adder: I don’t know if cold-blooded snakes can survive this long underground, but the Rock Adder is one enemy that you will definitely encounter during your travels. The enemy is immune to attacks if the Adder hasn’t damaged a character this round. There are a couple of ways in order for you to defeat the Adder without taking any damage. Note that the text says that the Adder can’t be attacked, it can still take damage. Direct Damage is a good way to defeat this slippery guy. It also has no defence, so Straight Shot is also an option. All in all, it is a pretty harmless enemy that you can deal with in one turn.
- Cave Spider: I would scream and run the opposite direction if I saw a spider this size in a tunnel, but luckily our heroes are braver than I. The Cave Spider will tech against players who are drawing enough cards to pass locate tests. It will first allow the first player to draw 1 card. Then, he has to choose 4 cards from his hand to discard. If you have 4 or fewer cards in your hand, you need to discard your entire hand. This poses a real dilemma for players as they have to decide what cards to keep, and what to toss. When the Cave Spider engages a player, that player will have to choose a card from their hand as well, and discard it. Noldor decks will definitely benefit from this if they have enough cards in hand. The rest of the Spider is pretty straightforward, no real trouble in bringing this one down.
- Goblin Warlord: This is probably the strongest enemy in the deck, besides the Great Cave Troll. However, since the Warlord has 39 engagement cost, he can sit in the staging area for some time while you build up ways to defeat him. The best strategy for this enemy is probably to engage him outright. Do not try to use traps. Though this will deal with the Warlord, he will still contribute his 4 threat to the staging area for a couple of turns. There is also a chance that another enemy gets trapped in your Trap card, so it isn’t a very reliable strategy. Though this enemy is a bit stronger than the regular Orcs, his Lost effect is what can make him a lot worse to have in play longer. He will force players to choose and discard 1 ally they each control. During the early game, this effect might kill off some stronger allies, as your board state has to grow. A special note on this enemy is that his Shadow Effect is one that is very much worth it to cancel. Triggering all Lost effects in play may hurt players either this turn or the next.
- Goblin Sneak: Though this enemy is small, it can engage the wrong player easily. This might cause players to take some unexpected attacks. The Forced effect on Goblin Sneak will have players discard the top of the encounter deck. If that card is a Treachery, the Sneak engages the next player. Here it will trigger the Forced effect again. Players can play Hot Potato with this Sneak until a non-treachery card gets revealed. This is a great way to get rid of some nasty treacheries, but it can also thin the encounter deck of Pass keywords.
Besides the locate test on the quest cards, treacheries can also force players to take a Locate test. There is also a treachery that will really help Lanwyn players. Though these Treacheries might not be very dangerous, cancelling them will still be in your best interest.
- Foul Air: Looks like someone farted in these tunnels. Now everyone is disorientated and the first player has to make a Locate test in order to find your bearings. If the Locate test is failed, all players have to deal 2 damage to every character in play. This makes Hobbit decks unlikely to survive for long in these tunnels. Besides the damage, every Lost effect in play triggers as well. It should be obvious that failing these locate tests will hurt your board state a lot. Having enough cards in your hand will hopefully cause you to find a Pass on any card. It doesn’t that Foul Air itself also has Pass on it, this lowers your chances of revealing a keyword.
- Vast and Intricate: The same as Foul Air, but instead of dealing 2 damage to every character in play, players will have to raise their threat by 7. This is a huge step up and might cause more enemies to engage with you during combat. On top of this, all Lost effects in play will trigger as well.
- Fatigue: This treachery is pretty harmless, as most decks can suffer having 1 character to exhaust during the later stages of the game. Perhaps you have Galadriel on the table, in which case you can exhaust an ally that got played this turn. Most of the times, this treachery won’t surge, as decks tend to have a couple of combat characters ready.
- Gathering Ground: This Treachery is one that will inspire a lot of attachment treacheries in later cycles that will attach to other encounter cards. This treachery will usually attach to the worst location in the staging area. While that location is in play, all enemies revealed by the encounter deck will gain surge. This can cause an incredibly long surge train to go off during staging as enemies will surge into enemies (which surge into even more enemies). This can cause the threat in the staging area to get out of hand. It will also cause the next combat phase to be quite interesting, with a lot of attacks. This is the treachery to cancel in this encounter deck. You can also focus all of your location control on that location. Now there is a case where there is no location in the staging area, in that case, this treachery whiffs. Since there is just one copy of it, there is a big chance that you will not see this treachery go off. It is quite harmless as a Shadow card and will have you pass a locate test if you reveal this card.
The Locate test is the second type of test we have seen in this game up to this point. It will only trigger when players are forced to, there is no point in the round sequence where players have to make a Locate test, unlike the Escape test in the Dead Marshes. The Locate test will start off by having the first player discard a card of their choice from their hand. Then, players discard the top card of the encounter deck to match this. If the discarded encounter card has the bold word PASS printed on the lower right side of the textbox, the players pass the Locate test. If not, the first player may discard another card from his hand to repeat the process. This can go on until either players reveal a card with the Pass keyword on it or if the first player doesn’t want to discard any more cards from his hand. The test also stops if he hasn’t got any cards in his hand left. In this case, players have failed the Locate test and are forced to trigger the text written on the card that instructed them to make the test in the first place.
Players are not forced to discard any cards. If you want to keep all of your cards as the first player, but are forced to make a Locate test, you can decide to not reveal any cards, thereby losing the test immediately. This will possibly trigger a couple of nasty effects, so it is up to the first player to make a decision between his cards, and the overall board state of the scenario.
There are in total 14 cards that have the Pass keyword printed on them in Normal mode. In Easy mode, this is reduced to 10, but the overall size of the encounter deck is reduced to match this. The chances of revealing a card with the Pass keyword printed on it is 22-23% depending on the cards that have already seen play. This translates to a Pass keyword in every 4 to 5 cards. But this is just an estimate. There may be cases where you won’t see a Pass for 10 cards in a row, and then 3 Passes show up afterwards, back to back. This is the randomness of the game, and it might help you in your tests or it will hinder you. It is up to the gods of the RNG to determine this.
Tips and Tricks
- Having enough cards in your hand is important to pass these Locate tests. Consider using a lot of Lore cards and heroes like Erestor, Bilbo or Beravor. Most of the Lost effects will not be very pleasant, so trying to pass every test will be in your best interest. Bilbo and Prepare for Battle are particularly nice, as they target the first player, who will need the cards the most that turn.
- Scrying the deck for Pass cards is a good way to see how many cards you should discard in order to pass. The Palantir and Scout Ahead will be important tools for this. You can also mill the encounter deck with Denethor for locations with the Pass keyword. You might also put Pass cards back from the discard pile with Shadow of the Past or The End Comes if you don’t feel like a lot of Pass keywords remain in your encounter deck.
- Try to keep the staging area clear of cards. The fewer Lost effects you have trigger, the more beneficial it becomes to fail a Locate test. Though it is still not adviced to lose them, your board state will be in better shape if you don’t have to trigger lost effects from locations and enemies. This can also save you in case you happen to fail the quest.
- Consider using Short Cut or Distant Stars in order to get around the nasty Twisting Passage. Short Cut will allow you to have another Pass keyword in the encounter deck, while Distant Stars will make sure you do not see it again for a long time.