Do you ever feel like the encounter decks of recent quests are too difficult? Do you get smashed to bits by enemies or horrible treacheries? Do you feel like giving up on everything and play Arkham Horror instead? Well, then come on down to Amon Dîn! This quest is one that is regarded as one of the easiest quests in the game, while still maintaining a good sense of theme. It is a nice break from the brutal difficulty from some other quests, even in this very cycle. While Amon Dîn can be beaten in under 3 turns, it can also spiral out of control in some cases, so you must be prepared to save those villagers and prevent them from getting trapped in farmhouses or devoured by orcs.
Encounter at Amon Dîn
- Found in Against the Shadow cycle, Adventure Pack 3
- Official Difficulty: 5
- Community Difficulty: 2.9
- Encounter Sets: Encounter at Amon Dîn, Ravaging Orcs
- Quest cards: 2
- Play if: You want an easy game to show new players, but they have already seen Passage through Mirkwood, you have been beaten by the encounter deck in another scenario and need to feel like you can beat this game again, you want to test a deck against a rather easy scenario.
- What is different about this quest?: Villager tokens that have to be rescued, Lord Alcaron Objective, locations go to victory display
- Solo or Multiplayer?: I prefer to do this one in solo, but this quest is playable with any number of players up to 4. I did find it a bit more difficult in multiplayer as you might reveal more treacheries that discard Villagers. But on the flip side, you also get more locations with Villagers to rescue.
- Can I run side-quests for this scenario?: You can, but you really don’t need it. Amon Dîn can be beaten in just a few turns, so wasting a turn trying to clear a side-quest won’t do all that much for you. But if you really want to, you could stall on the first turn, trying to rescue as many villagers whilst clearing side-quests as well. This will put you in a perfect position for the final quest push.
- What to look out for: Location lock, shadow card trains, more dead villagers than living ones can result in a loss, not taking undefended attacks.
To set up this scenario, players will first remove the unique Ghulat enemy from the game and put him aside, out of play. He will join the fight at stage 2 and will be a victory condition for this scenario. Then, players place the Lord Alcaron objective on the table like he was an ally controlled by the first player. This objective ally will allow players to save some Villagers during the quest. Players search the encounter deck for 1 copy of Burning Farmhouse, place 4 resource tokens on it to represent the Villagers trapped inside, and make it the active location. This location will provide the players with their first Villagers that they need to rescue from the fires. The two Villager objectives (Rescued and Dead) are added to the staging area. These will act as token pools to indicate the number of villagers rescued and lost during the game. They each start off empty.
Finally, the encounter deck is shuffled and each player reveals 1 card from the top of the encounter deck. There are some cards here that may be good to get out early like Scourge of Mordor that won’t contribute any threat to the staging area. While players still need to discard their top card, the threat disappears before the questing phase. Panicked! will also not remove any Villager tokens yet, so it is a great card to get out of the deck early, though it will surge. Burnt Homestead will also just surge, as there will not be any dead Villagers yet unless players reveal Trapped Inside first. After each player has revealed 1 card, the average threat in the staging area will likely be 1.6 threat per player. The players now flip the stage and progress to the first round.
Quest card 1: Savagery of the Orcs
While the stage has no quest points, there are 5 Villager tokens placed on the quest card. These Villagers will all have to be rescued before players can progress to the second stage. In order to claim these Villagers, players have to make progress on the stage. Each time they make progress on this stage, they remove an equal number of Villager tokens from the stage and place them on Rescued Villagers. So basically, this stage only requires 5 progress to overcome. This can be obtained in 1 or 2 turns, as players also have to chew through the 5 quest points on the Burning Farmhouse that starts off as the active location. A dedicated questing deck could overcome this quest in 1 turn, with a little luck from the encounter deck, but I do not recommend you try to beat the stage in 1 turn. The jump between stages 1 and 2 will introduce the Boss enemy, and you may be ill-equipped to handle him during your first turn. Try to at least stall for a turn, clearing the Burning Farmhouse and gathering some Villagers for your Rescued Villagers objective.
It is at this stage that you will want to amass some Villager tokens in order to fulfil the win conditions at the end of the game. Clearing the Burning Farmhouse on turn 1 will prevent you from having to discard a Villager at the end of the turn. Always try to travel to a new location if you have the option. You can also try to clear locations in the staging area for even more Villager tokens on Rescued Villagers. Lord Alcaron will help you to prevent discarding Villagers to Dead Villagers by placing them on a location in play. Try to keep as many Villagers alive for as long as possible in order to negate some Shadow effects or encounter cards.
Once you do find yourself in a good position to progress (turn 2/3), all it takes is enough progress to remove the 5 Villager tokens from the stage. This will automatically allow the players to transition to stage 2.
Quest card 2: Protect the Villagers – 15 quest points
When this stage is revealed, the Boss enemy Ghulat is added to the staging area. His 30 engagement cost might cause you to engage him on the same turn, so be prepared to handle some combat during this turn or keep your threat low. Though you can take his attacks undefended, it is not recommended to do so. This stage has the passive text that damage from undefended attacks will not deal damage to a hero you control, but instead, players will have to discard Villager tokens from Rescued Villagers equal to the amount of damage that would have been dealt. Not only does this make Ghulat stronger, it is also a slippery slope where there might be more Dead Villagers than living ones at some point.
The quest will require 15 progress tokens that will be obtained through regular willpower questing. This time there will be no Villager tokens on the stage to rescue, you will have to explore locations in order to gather more Villagers. Once the stage has 15 progress tokens on it, and Ghulat has been added to the Victory Display, players will end the game and resolve the text on the two Villager objectives. If there are more Rescued Villagers than Dead Villagers, the players have won the game. If it is the other way around, the players have let too many villagers die to the orcs and have lost the scenario. This is quite an anti-climactic defeat, so you should be very careful during the second stage on keeping Villagers alive. Undefended attacks can lead to a drain of Rescued Villagers and an influx of Dead Villagers so the tables can be turned quickly. If you do find yourself overcome by nasty effects and have to keep discarding villagers, it may be a good idea to turtle a little and explore some additional locations. Keep an eye on how many locations you have explored though, there are only a finite number of Villagers to be found in this scenario as each explored location gets added to the Victory Display. In case of a tie between the number of Dead and Rescued Villagers, the Grim Rule enters play that tells players that they have lost the game at that point.
So, in order to win the players must herd together more living than dead villagers, obtain 15 progress tokens, and kill Ghulat. Though this seems like a big hurdle, it is actually a lot easier than it may sound. The scenario isn’t really difficult and players will often find themselves having 15 rescued villagers and 2-3 dead ones. With all of these villagers now rescued, it is time to head back to the Minas Tirith where your next challenge awaits: Retaking Osgiliath from Mordor.
The Encounter deck
- The encounter deck is made up of 33 encounter cards in Normal mode and 26 in Easy mode.
- Shadow effects will occur on 61% of encounter cards in this scenario between both modes.
- Average threat on cards revealed is 1.6 threat/card in both modes.
- Surge is present on Burnt Homestead and on some treachery cards if their effect cannot take place.
- Doomed 2 is present on Trapped Inside, this is the only real way the encounter deck raises threat if players can prevent villagers from dying, so Doomed cards can be included in your decks.
- Players deserve a break from the Archery keyword after the last quest, so there are no cards with the Archery keyword in this quest.
- No cards are immune to player card effects, attachments or cancellation effects. Feel free to manipulate the encounter deck to your liking.
The encounter deck statistics labelled above do not include the cards removed from the game during setup or the active location put into play during setup. If the encounter deck ever gets reshuffled, there will likely be fewer locations in the deck, as they go to the victory display when they are explored. The overall balance of the encounter deck is pretty even, with just slightly more enemies than other cards in the deck.
This scenario comes with two objectives that gather villagers. This is vital to your victory once you have beaten Ghulat and have placed the 15 progress tokens on the final stage. Besides those, the scenario also provides you with a helpful ally that will make sure that you can save some villagers from their untimely death. Apparently, Alcaron knows CPR.
- Lord Alcaron: As a 1/2/2 ally, Lord Alcaron isn’t too bad to have control over. However, you will be unlikely to use any of his stats since his Response will be important to your victory. Lord Alcaron can exhaust to save 1 villager token that was just discarded. This can be because of a treachery or because of a Forced effect on a location. Note that Alcaron can only save a discarded villager, any villagers added to the Dead Villager objective that ends up there because of the effect on Ghulat and Marauding Orc cannot be saved. After Alcaron has exhausted, players can add the saved villager token to any location in play. I would suggest putting it on the active location if able or on a location, you are about to explore with location control cards. This will secure the villager on the Rescued Villagers objective and contribute to a better chance at winning the final comparison. Note that there must be a location in play in order to trigger Lord Alcaron’s response. If there isn’t a location and you desperately want to rescue a villager, try to use Sneak Attack – Dunedain Pathfinder before the encounter card effect discards a villager to drag out a location. Lord Alcaron’s response is not limited to the phase or to the round, though he can only save 1 villager at a time. It is possible to ready Alcaron and save a second villager if there is a second effect that discards a villager. If multiple villagers are discarded because of Trapped Inside, for example, it is not possible to ready Alcaron and save 2 villagers discarded because of that effect. I will advise players to play some sort of readying effects on Lord Alcaron to keep the number of Dead Villagers as low as possible. Ever Vigilant, Spare Hood and Cloak, and Strength of Arms are all great options. I would not recommend players defend with Lord Alcaron, small attacks can shadow-chain into more damage than expected, causing Lord Alcaron to die. If he does leave play, all players have lost the game. Keep Alcaron in the rear and try to save villagers with him. If you have him ready and don’t need his effect until the end of the round, he can always contribute his 2 attack to the combat phase (3 attack with Leadership Boromir).
- Rescued Villagers: This objective starts off in the staging area alongside its Dead counterpart. These two objectives remain in the staging area for the rest of the game and cannot be interacted with by the players, except with Lord Alcaron. After players explore a location, all villager tokens on that location are placed here. This also includes any villager tokens claimed by the players off of the first stage of the quest. The number of Villager tokens on here should be as high as possible, as that is the main goal of this scenario. This number does cap out though. Since all locations will be added to victory display and can only be explored once, there is a finite number of villagers that can be rescued. If players explore every location in the encounter deck, rescue all 5 villagers from stage 1, and don’t lose anyone along the way, they can save 39 villagers in total.
- Dead Villagers: The dark counterpart of the Rescued Villagers works as a victory condition for the Orcs. They will have to kill more Villagers than you can rescue. It is up to your team to prevent this. This will mean to prevent as many effects as possible that will put any number of tokens on this objective. Not only does Ghulat get boosted from the number of counters here, Burnt Homestead will also raise player’s threat by the number of tokens here. Once there are counters on this objective, they cannot be removed (no necromancy in this game, yet), so prevention is key here. If at the end of the quest there are more damage tokens here than there are villager tokens on Rescued Villagers, the players have lost the game (if so, click here).
The locations are key in this scenario. It is from here that you will gather Rescued Villagers that you need for your final victory. It is imperative that you find these locations and explore them faster than the encounter deck can kill your villagers. Once any location is explored, it gets added to the Victory Display, preventing players from getting more than 39 villagers in total. Note that the Villager keyword does not represent the maximum number of Villagers that can be on this location. The locations aren’t “full” if players are relocating villagers because of Panicked or Lord Alcaron.
- Burning Farmhouse: This 1 threat location starts off the game with a copy as the active location. It will take 5 progress to clear this one, making it soak up quite some progress tokens that would otherwise be placed on the active quest. There are quite a lot of villagers you can save from this location, making it a good target to travel to. The 4 villager tokens that are placed on the location will leave play one at a time at the end of the round, both while the location is in the active location slot or in the staging area. This precursor of the Time X keyword will require 5 progress, making Northern Trackers less than ideal tech against this location, unless you are combining it with Asfaloth, other progress placing cards or multiple copies of Northern Tracker. It is very much worth it to travel here, as it will cause the players to stall a little on the first stage, collecting villagers. Try to clear these locations as fast as possible though, as you will otherwise have to use Alcaron’s ability at the end of every round.
- Gondorian Hamlet: Too travel or not to travel, that is the question. The answer is travel, of course. Not only will 4 progress tokens take a while to explore in the staging area, the Forced effect on Gondorian Hamlet is only active while this location is in the staging area. I will often use Strider’s Path in order to make this location active immediately, in case a treachery card is revealed during the same quest phase. The 3 villager tokens on this location will be a nice boost to your villager count if you can save them all. Since there is no cost to travelling here, I will suggest that this location has the highest priority for players to travel to.
- Secluded Farmhouse: This last location has the highest threat cost, but also the least quest points. This makes the Secluded Farmhouse the best target for location control cards. Rhovanion Outrider will be great as it can chip away at the quest points on this location. Since there is no effect on this location that forces players to discard villager tokens off of this location, this location has the lowest priority for players to travel to. If you are worried about the high threat of the location, try using cards like Power in the Earth or Guarded Ceaselessly in order to lower its threat in case you are struggling to clear the location. If you do decide to travel to this location, you will be forced to reveal an encounter card as a Travel cost. Be careful as this might cause a surge train to go off. Using Strider’s Path or Ghan-Buri-Ghan can negate the Travel cost.
There are actually a surprising amount of enemies in this encounter deck. They will try to kill as many villagers as possible, which will cause encounter cards to get worse, and will end up causing the players to lose the quest. In order to prevent this, bring enough characters that can handle combat. A true questing/location control deck will have a hard time winning against this scenario since Ghulat must be dead by the end.
- Ghulat: Damn, that art is gruesome, awesome but very dark. This boss type enemy Ghulat will enter play as players progress from stage 1 to stage 2. This will likely force players to deal with him immediately as Ghulat only has an engagement cost of 30, which is around what most decks start off with. Of note is that Ghulat’s attack strength scales with how many dead villager tokens there are. This can make him a brutal slaughtering machine that you will have to chump if players have stalled at the first stage. He can also be a whimpy 1 attack enemy that you can defend easily with your defending character, but be warned that shadow effects can increase his attack stat. Shadow effects like Trapped Inside will add a token to Dead Villagers, making Ghulat attack for more during the final damage calculations. Ghulat will also never attack for 0 as he has a Forced ability that requires players to add a token to Dead Villagers. This Forced ability cannot be countered by Lord Alcaron as no villager token is discarded. This means that Ghulat will gradually get stronger as he attacks more often. This is the one crucial point though: the ability only triggers if Ghulat attacks. If players can cancel his attack with simple cards like Feint, the Forced ability does not trigger, saving the players a villager. Attacking Ghulat is pretty easy. Since he is not immune to anything, players can play traps on him like Forest Snare to completely neuter him. Players can then team up against Ghulat and take him out. At 10 attack required to kill him, he is a perfect target for Tactics Eowyn and her boss slayer mode. It will not be often that Ghulat survives the round he entered play, but he is still a threat if players have neglected the villagers and can’t cancel his attacks. Ghulat also has the text that the game cannot end unless Ghulat is not in play. Players will have to kill Ghulat in order for the game to end. If players have Ghulat on lockdown, they can decide to keep him alive if they haven’t got enough villagers alive in order to win the comparison between the two objectives in the staging area. At this point in the game, players can use cards like Backtrack to clear more locations in the staging area to gain more villagers.
- Marauding Orc: This enemy is notorious because of two reasons. First, he has an engagement cost of 25, making it difficult for decks to avoid him. Even low threat Hobbit decks will have to watch out that this enemy does not engage them. Second, his 4 attack can be tough to block, especially since shadow effects are common and can raise his attack easily. Chump blocking will also be out of the question, as this Orc was specially designed to make that strategy a poor choice. The Marauding Orc will place a damage token on Dead Villagers if he kills a character with his attack. His shadow effect will also do this, except that this will also remove a token from Rescued Villagers. Cancelling the attack of Marauding Orc is probably the best thing you can do to prevent anyone from dying. You can also use your super defender in order to block this guy. If you can use Blood of Numenor with a million resources then that is a safer bet. This used to be my strategy with Tactics Boromir, though post-errata this may prove to be more difficult to pull off. For attacking back I will highly recommend Skinbark. This Ent can one-shot the Orc as he doesn’t count his defence. Having Tactics Aragorn as a hero will also open up the Straight Shot option.
- Craven Eagle: I forgot this enemy existed until I played against the scenario in Normal mode in preparation for this article, and boy is it nasty. Not only will the Eagle contribute 3 threat to the staging area, it has also the highest base attack on any enemy during the early game. Drawing this enemy during setup will result in somebody losing a hero or even Lord Alcaron if all heroes controlled by players have 4 or more remaining hitpoints. The When Revealed effect on this Eagle will be one that is worth cancelling with Dunedain Lookout or A Test of Will. It is also important that players have more than 3 cards in their hand to cancel this effect as well. The downside of this is that the cards are discarded randomly, so you have little control over what cards will be gone from your hand. The Eagle will often stay in the staging area until it is optionally engaged. At 40 threat, it is unlikely to come down during the rest of the game, as this scenario rarely sees players dragging on for 10 turns. Untimely Burnt Homestead can lead players to engage this enemy though. In that case, I would recommend chumping with an ally. Attacking back shouldn’t be a problem as it only takes 5 attack to kill this enemy. Also, props for the artist for the very graphic art, really well done!
- Orc Ravager: This basic Orc is actually only mentioned because of his When Revealed effect. This effect will cause players to discard 1 villager token from the active location, adding it to Dead Villagers. If players cannot fulfil this effect, the Ravager gains surge. This effect is one that is good to use Lord Alcaron on. He will save the villager and put it back on the active location like nothing happened. This will save you having to reveal an additional card. Besides this, the Orc Ravager is a basic Orc that only requires 4 attack to kill. I had a lot of fun with this guy when I ran my Quickbeam deck against it as Quickbeam (among others) can one-shot this guy.
Of the 4 treacheries in this scenario, the 3 new ones will try to get more Dead Villagers and work off the number of Dead Villagers on the objective. Scourge of Mordor has already been dealt with during Siege of Cair Andros, but it remains a pretty harmless treachery if you include cheap cards in your deck.
- Trapped Inside: The Doomed 2 on this card will resolve no matter what, so that makes this card a pain to start with. This might push players above 25, 30 or 40 threat which are the thresholds for some nasty enemies. On top of it all, each player in the game will have to discard 1 villager token off of the active location if they can. This can cause all locations to lose all of their villagers if players are playing with 4 people. Note that the villagers are removed at the same time, so Lord Alcaron can only rescue 1. If this villager is put back on the active location, it cannot be discarded again from this same treachery, unless you reveal another Trapped Inside. If ever players find themselves discarding no villagers because of this effect (either because there is no active location or it has no villagers left), this card surges.
- Panicked!: This treachery won’t hurt much in the early stages of the game, but can absolutely ruin your playthrough in the late game. Panicked will cause players to take 1 Rescued Villager per player and put it on a location in the staging area. This does not count towards Dead Villagers, even if players have no location to place the villagers on. If this is the case, then the villagers remain on the objective as if nothing happened. The same hold for if there are no villagers on the objective in the first place. The treachery will surge if it didn’t relocate at least 1 villager to a location in the staging area. The reason why this treachery is so horrible to me is that this can screw up your math if you were planning on finishing this quest with a very slim margin between the number of villagers on both objectives.
- Burnt Homestead: Gruesome art seems to be a theme on these encounter cards. This card will first of all surge into a new card, allowing players to activate cards like Lanwyn and Minas Tirith Lampwright. Then, the players will each raise their threat by the number of Dead Villagers on the objective. This is pretty thematic, as I too would feel threatened if I saw all of these burned bodies like a second Pompey. The card is pretty harmless during the first few rounds, potentially not raising any threat at all if players have been doing their job. In the later stages of the game, if the number of Dead Villagers is getting out of hand, this treachery is very much worth cancelling as it can potentially raise player’s threat by 10 or more with ease.
Tips and Tricks
- Clearing locations in the staging area will be a great way to rescue a lot more Villagers than only those from the active location each turn. Try adding some location control cards to get a boost in your Villager count before the final progress is made on the second stage.
- Try to keep the number of Dead Villagers as low as possible for as long as you can. This might involve cancelling certain treacheries and using Alcaron to move Dead Villagers to locations. Keeping the Dead Villagers count low (best case scenario 0) will allow you to tank Ghulat more easily. It also makes the Shadow effects off of some cards less of a pain. Getting Panicked! as a shadow card with a lot of Dead Villagers can really screw with your defender.
- Try to fish for locations, having scrying effects or characters like Lore Denethor and Firyal filter the encounter deck for locations will help you out a lot. The locations are pretty harmless if you have some good location control going. This can save you from getting caught off guard by some devastating enemy/treachery. Dunedain Pathfinders are also a good way to get more locations in the staging area.
- Rossiel can do some great questing pushes in this scenario. Since all locations share the Gondor trait and are added to the Victory display automatically, she is questing for 4 most of the time. Leave No Trace is wasted in this scenario, but additional copies of None Return can help in boosting her defence against Orcs. You can get a pretty good Victory score out of this quest so it might be fun to play in on that with a Victory Display deck.
- Lord Alcaron is the only party member who knows CPR and can, therefore, rescue villagers, his effect isn’t limited to any number of rescues per round, so readying effects and attachments will go great on him. He will also benefit from other Gondor archetype boosting effects like Visionary Leadership, Leadership Boromir, and For Gondor!
- With so many shadow cards that surge into one another, it is advisable to bring either A Burning Brand or other shadow cancellation cards. This can prevent you from taking more damage than you originally intended and might save you some allies. Undefended attacks are pretty much out of the question, unless you can redirect the damage to White Tower Watchman or if you can cancel any damage with Honour Guard for instance.
- If you are finding the staging area full of locations and you don’t necessarily need progress on the stage, then Explorer’s Almanac is great to explore an additional location during the quest phase. This will save more villagers, get rid of threat in the staging area, and allow you to consider not travelling at all. Not having a location in the active slot will turn off Orc Ravager and Trapped Inside.
- If you have cleared the active location during combat or if you couldn’t travel as there is no location in the staging area, you might want to play Strider’s Path in order to make a location revealed from the encounter deck active. This might allow you to still explore a location that round and is also a great way around the Forced ability on the Hamlet or on the Burning Farmhouse. It also negates the Travel effect on the Secluded Farmhouse.
- Since most of the enemies in this encounter deck are Orcs, cards like Blade of Gondolin and Skinbark will have a natural advantage. This can make combat easier as these cards were tailor-made to handle Orc enemies. Blade of Gondolin will even help to explore more locations.
- Tactics Eowyn has just enough attack strength to kill Ghulat, use a Quick Strike to kill him on the turn he enters play for a very easy boss encounter.
Try to win this scenario by obtaining all 39 Villager tokens. Post a picture or a video if you have achieved this magnificent feat to enter the Hall of Fame.
With this easy scenario quickly covered, it is now time to head towards Osgiliath. Better bring your location control decks and your side-quests for this one. Assault on Osgiliath can really become a slog in multiplayer or a breeze if a certain game-breaking treachery turns up. I will hope to bring you the analysis of Assault on Osgiliath next week. In the meantime, I would like to offer you the chance to give feedback on the blog. You can fill in this poll to make this blog better tailored to what the community wants: https://goo.gl/forms/XC0UAD7WA4ByVfRH2.