After their stop in Lothlorien and receiving valuable gifts from Galadriel the Fellowship is embarking on their Journey along the Anduin. At Amon Hen their journey comes to a halt and a choice about the further direction of travel has to be made. When Frodo goes away to contemplate the options the heroes are beset by the dangerous Uruk-Hai. And at the same time the influence of the One Ring is taking its toll on one of the brave adventurers.
This quest is one of the central pieces of the saga campaign. Not only will you be able to take your pick from a choice of powerful boons at the beginning of the quest, after the quest the campaign will also split of into two separate paths; one following the travels of Frodo, the other the adventures of Aragorn. (My personal favourite is playing two-handed up to this point and just going with Frodo’s Choice to what heroes follow which path. This isn’t a must however. You can switch heroes freely at The Passage of the Marshes and Helm’s Deep and could technically take the same three hero setup through both branches of the campaign, although this would definitely need some weird head canon.)
With regards to game play you will need to bring strong early willpower as well as some measure of combat capability. The latter is especially important because a lot of the alternative direct damage ways of dealing with enemies will have a lot of trouble dealing with the Toughness keyword on the various Uruk-Hai in this scenario. Lastly, in multiplayer the quest will split the players across different quest stages until Frodo is found and has made it choice. Different to other quests with this mechanic you will however still have the option of directly influencing other quest stages by the usual means with the exception of card targeting the staging area which will only influence the staging area of the player. Each of the quest stages will also have a powerful effect for questing successfully that can be used to aid other players in the game or yourself.
Breaking of the Fellowship
- Found in: The Road Darkens saga expansion
- Official Difficulty: N/A
- Community Difficulty: 7
- Encounter sets: Breaking of the Fellowship
- Quest cards: 4 stages, 7 cards
- Play if: You want to play one of the central quests of the campaign, you enjoy separate staging areas a la Foundations of Stone without the punishing effect, you want to test how your multiplayer decks can still hold their own
- What is different about this quest?: Multiple staging areas while searching for Frodo, no encounter phase on stage one, the Toughness keyword, the possibility to lose a hero the Fallen into Evil treachery.
- Solo or Multiplayer?: For the complete experience of this scenario playing multiplayer is certainly recommended. You can still take advantage of your respective stage three in solo, but the ability to run multiple effects continuously after Frodo made his choice at one of the stages is clearly how the quest was designed. That being said, at higher player counts you will also go through the encounter deck quicker, making for a generally shorter quest. The one thing that is an active argument against multiplayer is stage one of the quest. Enemies and locations will bulk up in the staging area with fewer ways of removing threat from it. This can make for a hard early game and amplify the need for early willpower which in turn will make the relative lack of combat capabilities when all engagement costs get reduced to zero on stage two even more punishing. Still, you should at least once try this quest in higher player counts just to get the complete experience. (Don’t even try to use OCTGN with four players though. Everything will become a horrible mess of cards that no one will be able to read anymore.)
- Can I run Side-Quests for this scenario?: Technically you can. You certainly want to hold off doing so at stage one where side quests would usually have the greatest effect on the outcome of the game. Once you reach the third stages you can play side quests to your liking. It all depends on the question whether you would rather use the response on your stage three to aid another player or whether the side quest will have a more beneficial effect on your game state. You also make it less likely for your stage to reveal Frodo’s Choice, but depending on your plans for the game this could be a boon. Running side quests in this quests is situational because of this, but you can still make good use out of them, especially in higher player counts where cards like Send for Aid will have a greater effect on the board state.
Setup isn’t very complicated for this scenario. Remove Frodo’s Choice, Seat of Seeing and Parth Galen from the encounter deck and set them aside, then add The Argonath and Sarn Gebir to the staging area and you’re good to go.
Stage 1: The Great River – 12 quest points
This quest stage is the reason why you need a solution to muster up strong early game willpower. Since you will need to explore both Sarn Gebir and The Argonath to advance from this stage and both locations are immune to player card effects, you will need at least three rounds to defeat this stage. During this time enemies and locations will amass in the staging area. Because enemies cannot be engaged, you will, in most cases, just have to quest through their threat. To make matters worse all three locations in the encounter deck have three to five quest points, making them relatively resilient against conventional means of location control.
The way to approach this depends a lot on the amount of players in the game. In true solo threat won’t be as much of an issue and you might even get lucky and reveal Orcs of the White Hand (which, weirdly, does not surge when there are no enemies around) or Black-Feathered Arrows an your first turn (the latter by the way can be absolutely horrible on turn three with four players), giving you some breathing room to put progress down incrementally while building your board. Four players on the other hand will have a lot of threat amassing very quickly. However, four players start with an average threat of 1.75 per player in the staging area while the aspiring solo player starts with four threat. This makes the early quest push even more important in higher player counts. Ideally, a four player game will want to put the required progress the stage with a lot of willpower on turn one and only have to focus on exploring locations afterwards. Other player counts fall somewhere in between with two players leaning more on the solo side and three players falling more on the four players side. Cards like Secret Paths and Radagast’s Cunning can also make a glorious return to your decks for this stage. In all cases, it makes sense to keep an ally (or a character with sentinel for all players) back to be able to deal with the effect on the Uruk-Hai Hunter.
At the same time, you’re last questing turn (turn three hopefully) will have to be managed more carefully. Once you reveal stage two all engagement costs will be reduced to zero until the end of the encounter phase, so you will have to be prepared to take on some enemies. Since one of the various stage threes gives you the option of discarding enemies engaged with a player, being able to destroy the engaging enemies is not as important as being able to defend them. Chumping is an option because no shadow effect directly punished characters getting destroyed. Still, you probably want to have a little bit of shadow cancellation in hand to deal with the horrible shadow effect on Orcs of the White Hand. Now, it is TECHNICALLY possible to avoid the when revealed effect on stage two altogether. To do so you will need some very exact questing, however, which makes the applicability of this approach corner-case at best. To achieve this you want to explore The Argonath with one or two quest points left on the stage. You can then use Tactics Legolas and Hands Upon the Bow to snipe an enemy out of the staging area. This is difficult with the defense boost. But two Bows of the Galadhrim or one coupled with a Rivendell Blade can get you up to an attack value of eight which is enough to defeat all enemies except for the Uruk-Hai Captain. Alternatively, you could use Steward of Gondor with Gondorian Fire to achieve similar attack values. If you do this in the combat phase you put the two progess on the quest, immediately advance, avoid the encounter phase with engagement costs of zero and advance to the various stage threes at the end of the refresh phase.
A word on enemies at this stage: Across the toughness keyword and the defense boost they will be exceptionally hard to get out of the staging area should you plan on doing so. This does not mean, it is impossible, however. Effects like Thalin or Argalad will do you no good against Uruk-Hai, but there are other effects that can still be put to good use. I already talked about Hands Upon the Bow, but staging area attacks can also work. Both the Tracker and the Hunter have a combined sustainability of seven attack, so you can use Dunhere with two Spears of the Mark or Haldir with two Bows of the Galadhrim to outright kill enemies in the staging area. Effects that ignore defense are still harded to pull off because of the Toughness keyword, but Sneak Attack Gandalf could still kill both the Tracker and the Hunter. Exhausting a lot of characters for Hail of Stones would also be possible, but since the exhausted characters would probably be better off questing, this is not your best best. And of course Hunting Party is always an option, although you always have the added threat of revealing a worse card. Engagement shenanigans are simply impossible on this stage, because the text cannot be engaged is absolute and prevents any card effects.
You should also remember to bring some (or a lot, depending on the number of players) healing. Two of the four different enemies have Archery with treacheries and locations being able to ramp up the damage even more, which can be especially devastating in higher player counts. Lastly, since enemies do not make engagement checks and will all come down at stage two anyway, this stage is an ideally phase to play some Doomed cards only to lower your threat back down with Loragorn during the refresh phase of stage two.
Stage 2: The Company Divided – no quest points
In almost all cases you will advance to this stage at the end of the quest phase only to leave it again at the end of the refresh phase. All engagement costs will be set to zero, meaning all enemies will come down. There are some ways to avoid this however. The best card to do so is Advance Warning. It limits your deck building options to printed Lore resource icons, but it still is the ideal way to pace the engagement of enemies at this stage. Especially in a multiplayer game one player could focus exclusively on healing, some location control and playing this card to avoid the brunt of the enemy attacks here. You will still be able to engage enemies optionally, so you can kill some enemies before splitting up to your third stages. Other options are playing Ranger Spikes on stage one (This is kind of a gamble though. Two of the four enemies have archery and a third cannot have attachments.) or using Noiseless Movement or Grey Cloak to avoid at least one or two enemies you might not be able to handle right now. Once engaged you still have the option to play attack cancelling cards like Feint, Coney in a Trap or The Wizards’s Voice [sic!]. Cards that can also be useful are Out of Sight or Hobbit-sense. The latter is more situational, because it will not allow you to attack back, but if you’re deck lacks the combat capabilities you can always bank on a player using the Orc Hunting quest stage three to help you out in that regard.
Still, you will usually need to balance your questing with your combat readiness before advancing to this stage. Readying effects can help and Strength of Arms can do some great work to be able to quest for a lot and still have character ready to take the attacks. As do effects that don’t have characters exhaust to quest like Light of Valinor or North Realm Lookout. However, in the end, loading up your combat heroes with action advantage is usually the best way to escape this stage unscathed.
Should you plan on using allies to take the bulk of your attack because your heroes are exhausted from questing, you should pay special attention to the Uruk-Hai Captain (and to a lesser extent the Uruk-Hai Tracker). While it is relatively easy to have a three hit point defender around (any warrior ally can do it with Raiment of War), to take the attack it can come back to bite you if you did not keep that character ready or had readying available. In multiplayer games this enemy is the prime target for optional engagement on this stage to make sure it can be defended.
Note that you will also lose Frodo at this point, which means you can generally rely less on his effect to help out on the table.
At the end of the refresh phase you will shuffle Seat of Seeing and Frodo’s Choice into the encounter discard pile and then place the encounter discard pile at the bottom of the encounter deck. This is interesting, because its outcome depends a lot on how many cards are left in the encounter deck which in turn depends hugely on the number of players. (Since you will usually use if you do not advance from stage one quickly enough, I don’t think it is really possible to have gone through the encounter deck once already at this point. Maybe it is if you double down on Dunedain Pathfinders, Hunting Party (for the additional reveal) and victory display shenanigans and use Firyal and Eleanor, but for the sake of this article I will assume that you did not try to break the encounter deck and thus still have cards left in the encounter deck when you get to this point.) With a lot of cards left in the encounter deck you know that it will take a longer time to get back to the bottom and find Frodo’s Choice. This is particularly the case in solo games, in which case you’d maybe like to include cards that allow you to shuffle the encounter like Dunedain Hunter, Dunedain Pathfinder, Wait no Longer, The Hidden Way, Out of the Wild and Ravens of the Mountain. In higher player counts you will probably have more cards in the discard pile already which makes for a more random placement of the two cards. It also makes sense to have a look at the proportion of treacheries to other cards in the encounter discard pile, because treacheries are more likely to end up there early and then decide whether you would like to spread these out some more in the deck by a shuffle effect. That being said, all of this is not really needed if you can just quest hard enough, because you can easily find Frodo’s Choice by discarding it with sheer willpower. Still, this depends somewhat on your decks.
After that each player will create their own staging area and advance to a stage three of their choice. I will go over these choices in the next section, for now it is important that starting with the first player the players will go round moving cards from the staging area to their staging area until there are no cards left in the original staging area. It is most likely that (outside of using cards specifically designed to prevent that) all enemies will be currently engaged, so we are mostly talking about locations here. Consider the questing power and location control cards of each player and decide accordingly. Also consider player order regarding River Anduin and if there are already multiple copies around spread them out in order to avoid spreading a threat flood around each turn. Another thing you should keep in mind is that when stage three gets revealed each player with less than four threat in their staging area will reveal an encounter card, so if you have the option to get a player to four threat by encounter card combinations, consider which player most likely does not want to reveal another encounter card (particularly an enemy or a treachery) at this moment.
Stage 3: Various – no quest points
When advancing to their stage three each player with less than four threat in their staging area will have to reveal an encounter card. There’s not much you can do at this point to affect this and avoiding some of the nastier cards like (the prime example in this scenario) Fallen into Evil aside from playing Risk Some Light or Interrogation during the refresh phase.
The most interesting choice you have to make before advancing to this stage is which effect to pick. This decision is somewhat more trivial in a four player game where all stages will be in play (one will pretty much randomly go away, so don’t bank on the effect too much), but you still have to take into account that a combat-deck is less likely to be able to quest successfully making it more difficult to achieve the effect. (Although all players should usually bring somewhat balanced decks because even without questing successfully you might reveal Frodo’s Choice by accident and not be able to quest through stage four if you neglected willpower.) Which to pick of course hugely depends on the decks you brought and the current board state. Searching the Woods is a pretty good choice in a lot of case, because especially with more than one player locations will likely have added up in the staging area during stage one. Since most location target either the active location or the staging area it is also not possible to use them to affect other players with them. Because of this the quest card offers an excellent form of location control that can also rid you of Wooded Shoreline before the archery triggers or a River Anduin that you are not able to get rid of otherwise. In true solo this can still be a fine pick depending on how many locations you revealed on stage one, but generally, as with all forms of location control, its value heightens in multiplayer games. Orc Hunting does essentially the same, only for enemies engaged with a player. Since you will probably have engaged a couple of enemies during stage two, especially with more players, this is a good pick to help players without major combat capabilities out in discarding them. After this initial help the value diminishes somewhat, because the players will still have to engage the enemy and defend the attack which can be avoidable by keeping your threat low. Still, it is a universally powerful pick that can help out a lot for many board states. If you do not know which stage to pick, The Seat of Amon Hen is probably your best bet. Card draw and threat reduction is always powerful regardless of board state and will help you set up everything else quicker, so you maybe don’t even need the effects of Orc Hunting or Searching the Woods. Especially in true solo this is an amazing pick, because drawing two cards each turn is, simply put, a fantastic effect when you don’t have to share the love. Guard the Hobbits is more situational and probably the least useful of the effects. While readying is certainly powerful, most readying effects revolve around enabling a character to do the same thing twice. Sure, almost any deck will get a couple points of willpower out of this by just questing with their two one willpower heroes, but the amount of heroes that you want to use for questing and something else is simply not that high and if you play those heroes you will probably include action advantage cards like Light of Valinor or Unexpected Courage anyway. (Some, like Lanwyn or Idraen, even have their action advantage built in.) Some cards are still very good with this however, being able to use Elrond + Vilya and do something else (or quest and do something else if you have another action advantage card on him), probably defend with his access to A Burning Brand is very strong. Still, a lot of decks won’t need this effect and it is often less useful than the other stages.
While being separated into the different stages in multiplayer you can, contrary to other quests with separate staging areas, still use the normal rules of the game to affect other players. That for example means that your buffed up Beregond can still defend any attack on the table, Haldir can still attack enemies everywhere, you can heal other players character, lower other players’ threat with Galadhrim’s Greeting or play attachments on other players’ characters. This becomes especially important when Frodo’s Choice has been revealed, because the other players will want to do anything in their power to support the player trying to get Frodo away from the Uruk-Hai. There are some exceptions to this, which mostly (but not exclusively) revolve around location control cards. If a card mentions the staging area or the active location, this will always refer to the one of the player using the card. This limits supporting location control to cards like Evening Star or Asfaloth, which do not have that restriction and can target any location.
Every time a player quests successfully at their stage, instead of placing progress on the stage they will discard an equal number of cards from the encounter deck instead. Since Frodo’s Choice gets revealed when discarded you can advance to stage four this way. This also means that decks with higher questing power have a greater chance to reveal this card, which should make advancing through stage four easier. However, you can still reveal Frodo’s Choice during normal staging which can make getting through stage four harder if your deck is not focused on questing. Having an ally Faramir (maybe supported by To Arms!) somewhere on the table can make this much easier.
Stage 4: The Ring-bearer sets out – 16 quest points
Without some kind of encounter deck manipulation (think Scout Ahead, Risk Some Light or similar effects) you have no control over which player will advance to this stage. Even with the mentioned effects in play, you will have a great degree of uncertainty because of the discard effects on stage three. This means all other players in the game will want to do everything they can to help the player at this stage succeeding. This especially includes boosting their willpower. It can be a viable strategy to hold willpower boosting cards in your hand to play on characters this player controls. Even using Message from Elrond for a Gandalf (both types are fine in this situation) can be a decent play. Of course you will also want to use your effects like Faramir or Galadriel primarily on this player to help them achieve quick success in ending the game. This also means taking the threat increase and the enemy whenever possible. If you’re not in campaign mode it doesn’t even matter if you have to take an undefended attack once in a while, because all that matters is getting that one player over the finish line. This should not be undertaken completely lightly, however, because being able to quest successfully to use your quest stage effect to support the player might be more important, especially since Orc Hunting can achieve similar results. This is of course not possible in solo. However, in solo you have greater control over the pace of the quest. If you do not shuffle the encounter deck, you know that Frodo’s Choice will be buried relatively deep and you can stall a bit and build your board state with the help of the effect of your chosen quest stage. All of this becomes even more important on higher player counts where the player at this stage can reveal up to five cards each turn. You’ll want to use your quest stage effects and any other supporting effect solely for the benefit of the player at stage four. Otherwise, they will become threat-locked and eventually lose you the game.
The player at this stage will also add Parth Galen to the staging area. You have to travel to and explore this location to win the game. Because of its immunity, this means you will take at least two rounds to win the game from this point on. It will also add an enemy to the staging area, which cannot be engaged by other players through the effect on the stage since it isn’t revealed. If you can take the one damage each round, the Uruk-Hai Archer is probably the best bet, because it will only contribute one threat and will stay away for the most part with its high engagement cost. In the player is running a more combat-oriented deck, the Uruk-Hai Hunter can also be a good choice to avoid the when revealed effect on this enemy.
If everything works out and the other players a capable enough in supporting you, it should be possible to quickly defeat this stage, get Frodo away and win the game.
The Fellowship Hero
Ignoring burdens you might have accumulated in campaign mode, there are no effects in the encounter deck that will punish you for exhausting the One Ring, which means you can freely use Frodo’s ability. However, you will not have the fellowship hero available for a huge part of the scenario, so relying on the ability is not recommended against this quest. This also means that your choice is not that important, so I won’t go too deep into it for this scenario. Black Riders Frodo is good as always with him being able to get rid of the nastier cards like Fallen into Evil, Uruk-Hai Captain or Black-Feathered Arrows. Road Darkens Frodo can defend any enemy safely, which will be useful on stage one where you cannot engage enemies and marginally helpful on stage four where other players can engage enemies for you. He is probably by far the weakest choice in this case. Land of Shadow Frodo can provide some much needed willpower boosts both on stage one and four, and Mountain of Fire Frodo is always good. He particularly shines on stage one in this quest, because you can spread his resource around without needing to spend it right away, so he can somewhat affect what happens on stage three aswell.
The Encounter Deck
- The encounter deck has 30 cards in normal mode, 23 in normal mode. The number will increase by two at the end of stage, well, two.
- In normal mode, 50% of the cards will have a shadow effect (pre-stage two), the number rises to 57% in easy mode. The effects in itself are pretty varied, but quite a few get worse when the defending character has fewer hit points than the attacking enemy. With the exception of the Archer, who sits at four, they all have three hit points, so having a defender that is not an ally with little hit points or a hobbit is usually recommended.
- The initial average threat is 1.5 in normal mode and 1.3 in easy mode. This is counting the Archer as one threat, because for the most part each player will be alone at a stage.
- Only the Uruk-Hai Tracker surges in and of itself. Growing Threat can either forcibly surge when there are no enemies engaged with you or gives you the choice of letting it surge.
- No cards have Doomed, but again Growing Threat can get it under the same circumstances.
- Both the Archer and the Tracker boost the Archery keyword. Wooded Shoreline has Archery 2 while in the staging area. And Black-Feathered Arrows has the potential of boosting Archery to ridiculous amounts depending on your deck.
- The unique locations are all immune to player card effects and the Captain is unable to have attachments.
A lot of the quest revolves around the different unique locations. Since these are all immune to player card effects, there is not a lot in terms of player cards that you can do about this. With the amount of threat that can pile up on stage one, especially in multiplayer, bringing some strong early location control like Heirs of Eärendil, Short Cut or Explorer’s Almanac is recommended. You can also use cards like Secret Paths to mitigate the threat in the staging area a little. This is especially important, because it is unlikely that you will be able to do much to enemies, so locations are the only thing you can reasonably manage at this point.
- Sarn Gebir: Since you’ll need to clear this location in order to beat stage one, it will in almost all cases be the first one you travel to. The forced effect can absolutely wreck Silvan decks with their many one hit point allies, so you probably won’t be able to use them for questing, except when Galadriel is on the table to keep them unexhausted. Other good options are allies and heroes (though heroes are generally safer because of their higher hit point pools) that do not exhaust to quest. There are quite a few options for heroes like general readying effects, Light of Valinor or Naith Guide or heroes with built in action advantage like Halbarad or Haldan. For allies your options are more limited. Good cards are the North Realm Lookout and the Lindon Navigator, while Linhir Sea-Captain will only be viable in decks with strong resource generation. Another good option is the Sailor of Lune, because of its general immunity to damage while the right card is on top of your discard pile. After clearing the location you usually want to get some healing out or the potentially high amount of archery in this quest will pose problems for you in the future.
- The Argonath: You will be able to travel to this location after clearing Sarn Gebir. There is not a lot to say about this card other than that you want to clear it and beat the quest stage in the third round. You will skip the combat phase on your second turn though, which means you won’t be able to use staging area attacks to put some damage on enemies. Attacks outside the combat phase will still work, so feel free to use Hands Upon the Bow.
- Parth Galen: This location will be added to staging area of the player controlling Frodo when they advance to stage four. Because of its immunity to player card effects you will need to travel to it in order to win the quest. This means you have to add the enemy to the staging area when travelling to it. This effect is unavoidable. The enemy is not being revealed, so the card text on stage four cannot trigger. When Orc Hunting is in play and you can safely defend the attack, nothing is stopping you from choosing the Uruk-Hai Captain or get some enemies (regardless of which there are) out of the remaining cards in the encounter deck. If this is not the case, I like to choose the Uruk-Hai Archer. One archery is usually manageable (especially with healing support from other players) and the high engagement cost means you can avoid the enemy while only adding one threat to your staging area. You will also avoid the when revealed effect.
- Seat of Seeing: Outside of campaign play, this location will usually sit around the staging area contributing a measly one threat. I will go over the campaign specifics in the section below.
- River Anduin: This one is annoying, plain and simple. The two threat are often not much of an issue, but the effect is infuriating. If you can travel to it (meaning if there aren’t more pressing needs), try to clear it as quickly as possible. Most location control effects are of lesser use here with the high quest point value on that location. Usually the one threat increase every turn will be manageable. This card can get out of hand, however, if you reveal multiple copies early (on stage one) and all players have to raise their threat by one or more each turn or if you are passing multiple copies from the same player each turn, which is a big amount of threat that gets thrown around. This is less of an issue if Searching the Woods is in play, although there often more pressing needs like Wooded Shoreline. Should there be multiple copies in play (which is likely with four players and the four copies in the encounter deck) this becomes a more important target for location control or travelling to it. Otherwise, it’s usually more towards the bottom of the list.
- Wooded Shoreline: With both a dangerous effect while in the staging area and a nasty travel cost this card is a prime example for why Thror’s Key is such an amazing card. It also is a good target for Searching the Woods, especially if you can get rid of it the same turn it was revealed (which depends on player order, however). Without access to either of those effects, cards that ignore travel cost like Thror’s Map, West Road Traveller or Distant Stars are very good ways to handle this location. If you got access to neither, it is more of a strategic decision whether you want to travel to this location. A deck with good healing can likely take the archery, while a combat-focused deck will be able to handle the enemy and thin the deck of them.
- Slopes of Amon Hen: Since you cannot pay the travel cost, you will not be able to travel to this location on stage one, but you are probably not planning to do so anyway. Ever after that travelling to it is dependent on having an enemy around. A lot of the times this will be an enemy that you’ll optionally engage or that’ll force engage you anyway, so the travel cost is negligible. Sneaky decks that try to avoid enemies will have problems with this card. For those decks it’s a good idea to use the aforementioned cards that ignore travel effects in order to stay safe.
All enemies in this quest are Uruk-Hai with the Toughness keyword. This keyword means that the first X points of damage dealt to them from a single source (be it direct or attack) is cancelled. This generally makes using cards like Thalin or Argalad less useful against this scenario. Direct damage effects also get significantly nerved, although not to the point of uselessness. For attack damage you can basically think of Toughness as additional points of defense, which makes them quite hard to put damage on, but with their low hit point values they are still dispatchable with relative ease. Toughness has no effect on discard effects like Hunting Party or Helm! Helm!, so they keep their usual strength level. Two of them also play around with the number of printed hit points on defending characters, so having a strong hero defender on the table is a good idea, although you can also use good defensive allies like Treebeard or Redwater Sentry. There is also some Archery on the enemies, so bringing healing is recommended.
- Uruk-Hai Captain: The biggest enemy in the encounter deck has five attack, takes a combined seven attack to kill, cannot have attachments and cannot be defended by allies with fewer than three hit points. (This does not go for heroes, so you COULD THEORETICALLY defend against it with Pippin. Don’t.) With his effect it is one of the examples for why you want good defenders on the table, because you cannot chump against it. Characters like Beregond, Redwater Sentry or other dedicated defenders like a Denethor with a Gondorian Shield and/or A Burning Brand can also be good options. With the multiple quest stages it is a good idea in multiplayer to have a good sentinel defender somewhere to take care of this enemy.
- Uruk-Hai Archer: This enemy can be quite different a threat depending on player count and when it is revealed. With one player or at the separate stages it has one threat and one archery and its when revealed effect is the most dangerous thing about it with the chance to hurt you board state quite a bit, particularly in ally-light decks that still have central allies (like Arwen) out. In those cases it’s usually a good choice to choose this enemy as the target of Wooded Shoreline and Parth Garlen or other effects that bring enemies into play like Wait no Longer or Dunedain Hunter. If you are playing on higher player counts and are on stage one, this enemy’s when revealed is less dangerous because it only targets one player and it might whiff because you’re still early in the game. However, the escalating archery and threat can be quite dangerous and it can be a good target for Quick Ears or Hunting Party.
- Uruk-Hai Tracker: The lowest stats of all enemies in the encounter deck and only one threat. So of course this enemy surges. Other than that, its stats are pretty harmless, although this enemy is the other reason why you want to bring good defenders, particularly with sentinel, in order to avoid the attack boosts. Different to the Captain you can still chump this enemy, although you might get punished by shadow effects for doing so.
- Uruk-Hai Hunter: The Hunter is one of those enemies that gives you a choice: Either reveal an additional encounter card of suffer an immediate attack. With most of these enemies choosing the additional encounter card is often the best choice. For this enemy the choice depends a little more on you current work state. Especially on stage one you’ll usually want to avoid the additional reveal. If you got a defensive hero on the board, this hero is unlikely to commit to the quest, so you can safely take the attack. On the later stages, revealing the additional encounter card becomes more of a choice, because the different quest stages offer quite a few solutions for handling encounter cards. You’ll want to avoid revealing another encounter card and potentially escalating threat on stage four though. In multiplayer this is easily handled by another player defending the attack, even if it means sacrificing a character. The only thing that matters on the finish line is beating stage four.
The treacheries in this quest have quite varied effects. Among them is one of the probably coolest (albeit nasty) encounter card effects in the game: Fallen into Evil
- Growing Threat: When there is no enemy engaged with you (which will always be the case on stage one) this card will just raise threat by two an surge. When there is an enemy engaged with the revealing player the “either…or” wording offers a choice to move the enemy or take the two threat and reveal another card. This means the first player can push an enemy back to the staging area. While all players are at stage three, this card can be used to move enemies to players with better combat capabilities (which is especially nice, because the first player will have already resolved their quest phase and the additional threat won’t hurt as much). When a player is at stage four, revealing this can actually be a boon that removes an enemy from that player’s play area.
- Orcs of the White Hand: Since this card does not gain Surge when there are no enemies around, it can actually whiff, particularly on lower player counts or on stage three, where you are less likely to reveal enemies after revealing this treachery. (Remember that it counts for all enemies, that includes enemies that enter play after this card.) Since Toughness can make it harder to kill enemies in one go, the removed damage from them comes into play more often than you expect. On higher player counts, this card can be quite dangerous on stage one where it can escalate threat quickly. In those cases, it’s usually best to cancel. It can also be nasty on stage four with a lot of players, but since other players will often take the enemies off the player’s hands, it will usually have less of an effect.
- Black-Feathered Arrows: Again, this is one of those treacheries that is particularly dangerous on stage one with higher player counts, where it can escalate Archery quickly. It also punishes ally swarm decks more than other deck and is a good reason to include healing, even on lower player counts. When you see this card, it’s a good approach to calculate the amount of archery and how well you will be able to suffer through it before deciding to cancel.
- Fallen into Evil: This card is very cool, fantastically thematic and absolutely dangerous if you have no way to handle it. When revealed you will have to attach it to a non-Fellowship hero and move that enemy to the first players staging area. Since the engagement cost is equal to its threat cost, it will, in most cases, come down that turn. Being one hero down is particularly dangerous in solo play, but even in multiplayer the additional enemy can be quite dangerous. It is often a good idea to choose a hero that has very low attack. If you can spare Galadriel’s effects, she makes the perfect target, because she can’t even attack, since her card text stays active. This can create some other weird rules interactions aswell. Dain Ironfoot will still boost all dwarfs in play or Bilbo Baggins will still provide the additional card draw for example. Be aware though, that any responses, action or cards that reference “you/r” cannot be used. Santa Theoden will not provide his cost reduction for example. Other than that, you don’t really have to worry about the additional attack if your fallen hero is someone like Galadriel or Eleanor. Of course, you will often rely on their resources, stats or effects for your game plans and especially on stage four every point counts. This means that usually you will want to cancel this treachery and also include some condition removal in your deck. Even more so in campaign play where you would have to add a fallen hero to the list of dead heros.
Tips and Tricks
- Bring good early willpower. Threat will amass in the staging area on stage one and should you have no way to handle this you will lose the game before it has even begun.
- But also don’t neglect combat capabilities. While every deck used in this game will try to have some combat strength available, you can’t turtle and slowly build up you combat prowess in this scenario. With the reduction to zero engagement cost on stage two the enemies will come down and you will have to fight them.
- Healing is important in this scenario. There is quite a lot of Archery around and Sarn Gebir will put some damage on your characters early.
- Use the individual stages threes to your best advantage. They are great to fill the gaps in your decks and can make your life a lot easier. Don’t rely on them too much though, because one player will lose their quest stage effect when Frodo is found.
- Not bringing condition removal is a gamble. Yes, Fallen into Evil is only one card in the encounter deck, but when it hits you, it will hit you hard. Throw in at least a little bit of tech against that treachery and you will be fine.
- Since you do not know, which player will advance to stage four and only have limited control over that, it is generally recommended to bring somewhat balanced decks to avoid being utterly destroyed be the additional reveals at that stage.
- If a player is finally at stage four, it becomes your ultimate goal to push them over the finish line. Provide all the effects for them. Outside of campaign play you can even freely sacrifice your heroes if it helps that player in any way.
Campaign Play: Boons, Burdens and other Effects
For this quest, there is a lot going on in campaign play. You will have a pick of several very powerful boons when you set out from Lothlorien, you will have to pick one of two additional burdens and there is the option of removing on burden from the campaign play for good. In addition, you will have to choose which heroes got captured by the Uruk-Hai, which will be resolved in the next quest of the campaign.
Before you begin the game, every play will choose one of the four burdens below and attach it to a hero they control. All of these boons have very powerful effects that can change the course of a game quite significantly. However, they are one-use items and will be removed from the campaign pool upon use. This means using them has to be a very calculated undertaking. Since these items can essentially give you one more round of play, they are usually best used in The Black Gate Opens or Mount Doom, where they can make the difference between winning the campaign or losing Mount Doom. Should you really struggle against one of the harder quests like Helm’s Deep, Journey to the Crossroads or The Battle of Pelennor Fields, you could also use them there, but generally you will want to hold off using them until the very end of your campaign no matter how tempting it might be.
- Phial of Galadriel: This item gives every enemy engaged with you -4 attack until the end of the round. It is the only item that only works for one player and is thus probably better in solo play where some of the scaling boons’ effects will be less impactful. It is best used against The Black Gate Opens where there will be a lot of powerful enemies around and it can give you another turn to use against Mount Doom. It also combos nicely with The Hammer-Stroke.
- Three Golden Hairs: Each player will reduce his threat by three and draw three cards. Both effects are universally and very unsituationally powerful. Since it is a boon, it can be used in both The Black Gate Opens and Mount Doom to lower your threat by more than one, which, again, makes it best used against these scenarios, where the additional card draw can give you more early options and the threat reduction might, but not necessarily will, buy you one more round.
- Lorien Rope: Gives each location in the staging area -2 threat until the end of the round. Again, this can essentially buy you one more round if you are already location-locked, but if you manage to somewhat stay on top of locations it will be less useful. It’s better in high player counts, but since you will have to choose all boons anyway at four players, this will in a lot of cases be the card you are least likely to pick at other player counts, although at three players it’s kind of a toss-up between the Phial and this.
- Leaf-Wrapped Lembas: Readying all heroes in play is very powerful in all player counts and becomes insanely good in high ones. In most quests it’s somewhat more situational depending on the heroes you are using and whether you need the action advantage or are relying on your heroes only once per round. Against Mount Doom, however, where you will usually (and recommendedly) have very few to no allies in play and have to rely on action advantage on your heroes, this becomes insanely good and is most of the times best used against this quest.
- Which to choose: You might have already gathered from the individual boons, what I would recommend. In solo, the choice is more difficult, because the scaling boons have less impact and the Phial becomes very strong, but readying and card draw are both good effects that can be a great choice. Here, the Rope is probably the least useful, because of the fewer cards revealed in solo play, although you will still reveal insane numbers of cards in later rounds against The Black Gates Opens. With higher player counts the Hairs and the Lembas usually become your options of choice with a third pick being a more difficult choise between the Rope and the Phial.
At the beginning of the quest you will also shuffle Followed by Night and Ill Fate into the encounter deck. As usual with burdens they will surge. At the end of the quest you will have to pick one and add it to the campaign pool.
- Followed by Night: If not revealed very early, this treachery will always have an effect. The danger of that effect of course varies with the enemy and the most dangerous enemies often get added to the victory display anyway. You also avoid when revealed effects, but not engagement effects by enemies. The Peril keyword also makes it less predictable in multiplayer when you divide combat and questing capabilities between players.
- Ill Fate: The good thing is, that the effect is preventable. A strong defensive hero can go a long way to mitigate the danger of this card. Should rely on a chump-blocking strategy, it can get very nasty very quickly. It also does not trigger on characters controlled by other players being destroyed and can be removed with condition removal.
- Which to choose: A lot of burdens revolve around adding condition attachments to the encounter deck. Because of this, you are likely going to add a lot more condition removal to your decks as the campaign goes on. This makes Ill Fate particularly manageable, but you might also want to keep your condition removal back for other effects. The big difference between the cards is that Followed by Night is a one time threat while Ill Fate is more persistent. The choice kind of depends on your decks and your approach to the game, but none is really more dangerous than the other, although your deck is probably better prepared for one of them.
- Seat of Seeing: While you will probably ignore this location completely outside of campaign play, its effect becomes very good once you’re attempting a complete playthrough of the story. It gives you the option to completely remove one burden from the campaign pool. Good choices include the burden you chose in A Shadow of the Past, which would be either Gandalf’s Delay or The Ring Draws Them. Depending on how unlucky you were in Flight to the Ford Weight of the Ring also makes an excellent target. As does Lust for the Ring if you chose it in The Ring Goes South. However, the best target is probably the or one of the condition attachments from Journey in the Dark. Should you have had to both of them, Grievous Wound is the target of your choice in all cases. Otherwise you will probably have chose Overcome by Grief and can remove that. Both of these make excellent choices, because they begin the game in play and are mostly unavoidable because of this. The removal also will free up your condition control for other effects.
- The Captive: At the end of the quest each player has to choose one of their heroes to become the captive for purposes of playing through The Uruk-Hai, which is the next quest in the campaign. You won’t have access to that hero for the entire quest and begin the game with two heroes per player plus Fellowship Aragorn. This means you don’t want to choose a hero that is essential for your deck building plans. It is usually a good idea to choose a hero with low threat cost, because the chosen hero will still contribute it to your starting threat without contributing to the game. Picking a low threat hero won’t raise your starting threat by much while still providing access to your more powerful heroes.
The Fellowship has broken apart. From now on your heroes will continue on their adventures separate from each other. The next quest follows Aragorn and his companions trying to save their companion(s) from the hands of the dangerous Uruk-Hai. You will visit Frodo again in three quests time where he will makes his way on The Passage through the Marshes.