After Frodo has left the Fellowship there still is no rest for your brave heroes. Some of your companions have been captured by the dangerous Orcs of the White Hand and are being dragged towards their almost certain doom in Isengard. Despite their weariness, the adventurers of your Fellowship have to take on the pursuit of the orcs, in order to savee their friends from death at the hand of the orcs.
This quest kicks off the Treason of Saruman expansion, which features three quests with very unique mechanics. Especially, The Uruk-Hai provides very unique deckbuilding challenges that you have to take into account when tackling this scenario. Most tri-sphere decks will require severe side-boarding and even other decks will probably want to adjust their cost curve for the lack of a third hero. The unique mechanics in this scenario will revolve around the pursuit of your captured companion. For that you will have to designate on hero as the captive, which will remain in play, but not under any player’s control, until the end of the game. This means you are essentially losing one hero even though that hero still contributes its threat to your starting threat. The other mechanic is the pursuit value. This value will constantly increase by card effects and once it reaches thirty you will lose the game. At the same time the value will inform the amount of quest points you need to beat a quest stage, making it more difficult to catch up the longer you take to prepare. All in all, this quest usually isn’t too hard if you build specifically for it, but the uniqueness of the mechanics means that random decks and hero combinations will have a harder time than others.
- Found in: The Treason of Saruman saga expansion
- Official Difficulty: N/A
- Community Difficulty: 6
- Encounter sets: The Uruk-Hai, Snaga Orcs, Orc of the White Hand
- Quest cards: 2
- Play if: You enjoy the first part of The Two Towers, you want a unique deckbuilding challenge, you enjoy the added pressure of racing against the clock.
- What is different about this quest?: Captured hero, pursuit value, the toughness keyword.
- Solo or Multiplayer?: Generally, this quest is quite well balanced between solo and multiplayer. Both provide some specific challenges, however. In solo, as with any quest with a boss-type enemy, Uglúk will be much harder to manage when you finally have to defeat him. The fact that only heroes can attack or defend against him, means that a strong sentinel defender and some ranged heroes on the table will make it much easier to dispatch him, which is something to consider for multiplayer. In multiplayer, you will reveal the treacheries that hurt your questing progress like Rest by Night?, Strange Weariness and Unseen Barrier much more often, which will make it more difficult to hit the pursuit value. However, you will usually have more questing power on the table in general, which hopefully can upset this disadvantage. High player counts will also need a way more aggressive approach towards placing progress, since the pursuit value will increase much faster through card effects.
- Can I run Side-Quests for this scenario?: Like in quests with time counters the hard relatively hard clock you are on from the beginning of the scenario will make playing side-quests effectively difficult. If you decide to turtle for one or two rounds in the beginning you can probably get one side-quest through, but it is still a risky undertaking. Should you decide to do so good options are Rally the West (especially in multiplayer) for the willpower bonus or Send for Aid to build your board quicker and avoid having to stall for an additional round.
The Captured Hero
During setup each player will have to choose one of their heroes and put them underneath To Isengard! (cue having this song stuck in your head for the rest of the game). Since this hero will be captured for the whole quest and is not under any player’s control, this will provide some very unique deckbuilding challenges. For one, if you are playing a random tri-sphere deck, about a third of the cards you draw will be dead and unusable draws. Even with songs or A Good Harvest it will still hurt you initial board building quite a bit. Even dual-sphere or mono-sphere decks will have some additional considerations to think about to address the thrown off cost curve while playing this scenario.
With the added help of The Wold and Eastemnet random non-tri-sphere decks can still somewhat function against this scenario, but of course you will lose on hero ability that might be an essential part of you deck. Because of this, we’re looking at one of those scenarios that are usually best taken on with a deck build specifically to tackle it. This might not be everyone’s cup of tea and if you just want to play the scenario with a deck you already have built, it’s best to pick a mono-sphere deck where the captured hero will have the least influence on your cost curve. For now, I will go over some tips that can help you build a deck or a fellowship to specifically beat this scenario.
The captured hero will still contribute to your starting threat. Because you won’t get access to its sphere and abilities anyway, it is a good idea to pick heroes with very low starting threat in order to keep you starting threat as low as possible. The obvious choice because of this is Spirit Glorfindel. In multiplayer your next options are the different versions of Merry and Pippin, both only contributing six threat as well as being the thematically appropriate captives. After that you’ll want to consider the thrown off cost curve of a two hero deck. Mono-sphere decks can still get around playing three cost cards, but dual-sphere decks will want to hold off of the more expensive cards and instead focus on one or two cost allies and attachments to quickly build a board and get a running start against the pursuit value. Heroes with built in resource acceleration or smoothing are also very strong against this quest. Your choices include Arwen, Theodred, Leadership Denethor, Mablung, Gloin and Bifur. The latter is especially good against this scenario, because you can pass him Fellowship Aragorn’s resource for added tempo. Arwen is also amazing because not only does she provide additional resources, she also quests for a high amount out of that gate which can lead to a good start against the pursuit value. Especially when running leadership you might also want to include cards that provide some resource acceleration. Steward of Gondor and Tighten our Belts are strong against every scenario, but you might also consider adding cards that can be used to benefit other players in multiplayer like Ranger Provisions (bonus points if attached to Eastemnet for a rain of resources), Wealth of Gondor and Squire of the Citadel (both limited to Gondor heroes, which you have to keep in mind when building a fellowship). For cards that target your heroes something like Captain’s Wisdom, Gaining Strength or Unlikely Friendship (if you got the traits) are also good options. In any case, your hero choices have to be considered carefully. You will need to defeat Uglúk on the second stage. Allies cannot attack or defend against him, so you will have to rely on your heroes. Fellowship Aragorn makes the ordeal a bit easier and he will be able to defend one attack from him. In multiplayer, having ranged and sentinel on the table can help tremendously against that. In solo, you will have to consider your options more carefully. Grimbeorn with an attack boost is amazing against Uglúk. Other good options include some more situational attack and defense boosts like Tale of Tinuviel (which can trigger of Aragorn’s Dunedain trait) or Fair and Perilous. Action advantage can also be very helpful, so include some readying effects. Uglúk is also not immune to player card effects, which offers some additional methods of dealing with him. Anything that cannot target non-unique enemies won’t work, but you could exhaust a lot of characters for effects like Hail of Stones to bypass his Toughness 3 or use Feint to avoid defending against him. Generally though, you just want to get your attack high enough to defeat him in one go. Tactics Eowyn can get to the exact value of ten needed, other options are Gondorian Fire or heroes that benefit from attack boosting toys and effects like Tactics Eomer. Another good and very thematic way is using Fellowship Aragorn’s resources to pay for The Three Hunters or you could try to pull off an amazing combo with Inspiring Presence.
The Pursuit Value
During setup you will set the pursuit value to ten. At the end of the refresh phase you will have to increase this value by one each turn. (The usual way to do this is to use an extra threat dial, although you can use any kind of counting device. On OCTGN I like using the resources on one of the captives as the counter, which also prevents me from forgetting to increase it by one at the end of the round.) This value informs a lot of things about the quest. For one, if it hits thirty, the Uruks have delivered the captives to Isengard and you’ve lost the game. At the same time the pursuit value also sets the amount of quest points you will need to defeat both stages of the quest, meaning the target number of progress will constantly rise throughout the quest. A lot of cards in the encounter deck raise that number by additional increments. A lot of them give you a choice between increasing the pursuit value and another horrible effect (Uglúk’s Uruk-Hai, Rest by Night? and the shadow effect on Banks of Entwash), some will have the increase as a travel cost for a location (The Wold and Eastenmet), while others will have forced effects based on specific circumstances (Banks of Entwash for placing progress on it, the shadow effect on Plains of Rohan for destroying a character with the attack). The first stage of the quest will raise your pursuit value by one for each enemy in the staging area at the end of the combat phase. Finally, stage 2 allows you to reduce the pursuit value by one for each enemy you defeat at that stage.
Unless you are extremely lucky you will suffer through increases of the pursuit value during the course of the quest. (These lucky circumstances are mostly limited to true solo play and if you get this lucky, you will probably have won by turn three or four.) Because of this you have to be prepared to only have a quite limited number of rounds available to defeat the quest. Because of the additional encounter cards revealed in multiplayer this number can get very low very quickly and in higher player counts it is often a good idea to suffer through the punishing effects instead of increasing the pursuit value even further. This makes good willpower on the table even more important in multiplayer. Solo and low player counts give you a little more leeway with regards to advancing through the quest, allowing you to stall for a couple of rounds in the beginning to build your board. High player counts will have to come out the gate swinging though or a couple of Uglúks Uruk-Hai and Rest by Night?s will either double down on the dangerous effects or increase the pursuit value quickly. Anything that allows for a big quest push to get over the finish line on both of the quest cards is amazing to counter this. Ally Faramir is one of the obvious choices. Other cards that can do good work are Spirit Eowyn (especially in multiplayer), Protector of Lorien, Sword that was Broken (Aragorn will be on the table anyway), Visionary Leadership, Astonishing Speed, Untroubled by Darkness (even without the underground trigger and especially if Dain is on the table anyway), Lords of the Eldar, Lay of Nimrodel, Scouting Party, The Three Hunters and Banner of Elendil (the latter are cards of the Fellowship sphere which you can use Aragorn’s resources for). Of course you can also just include strong questing allies like the always trusted Ethir Swordsmen, although the possible damage from Rest by Night? could hurt them severely.
Aside from making Eastenmet the active location there is not much to say about setup, that hasn’t already been said. Choose your captives, place them underneath To Isengard, add Uglúk to the staging area and set the pursuit value to ten. This means you start the quest with three points of threat in the staging area, which is relatively low compared to other quests and can offer the chance for a good early quest push, especially in multiplayer where you will start with very small threat per player in the beginning.
Quest card 1: Follow the Orcs – X quest points
This is a pretty straight forward quest stage that also bears one of my favorite Aragorn quotes. You will have to beat the pursuit value, which with enough willpower on the table and not too horrible reveals should easily be doable in two or three rounds. However, there’s more to consider here. First, Uglúk will be unable to leave the staging area or take damage. Couple with his uniqueness and the immunity to attachments this makes him basically immune to player card effects in this stage and you will have to quest through his three threat each turn. To make matters worse at the end of the combat phase you will have to increase the pursuit value by one for each enemy in the staging area. Because of Uglúk hanging around this is an additional increase by at least one each round. What this means with regards to your game and deckbuilding plans is that you have to plan for some measure of aggressiveness, especially in higher player counts, where you will reveal more enemies. You will need lots of willpower for fast questing, but you still want to be able to engage and defeat some enemies. Anything that lets you engage enemies and avoid their attacks is good to buy you some more time without having to overly rely on defensive and offensive capabilities. Consider including cards like Feint, Forest Snare, Feigned Voices or Thicket of Spears. Coney in a Trap can also work with Fellowship Aragorn already providing the Ranger trait. A card that would be awesome to buy you time to focus on questing, but will only work situationally on multiplayer, is Hobbit-sense, although the presence of Aragorn will prevent you from fulfilling the requirements. Like always you can also try to rely on a dedicated sentinel defender such as Beregond with some readying effects (including Fellowship Aragorn) to defend for the table.
As was already pointed out above both the questing aggressiveness and the combat aggressiveness are more important in multiplayer where the pursuit value can get out of control quickly. In true solo you will probably have about two rounds where the pursuit value will still be manageable because of the fewer revealed cards which allows some building of the board state (arguably more important for every solo deck). By going the attack prevention route or focusing on early defense instead of early offense you can also keep some enemies around engaged with you before advancing to stage two where you can lower the pursuit value by picking them off one by one.
For all player counts there is one last thing to consider for this stage. When you advance during the quest phase (all of this can be prevented by using Legolas or Blade of Gondolin shenanigans) you will have to deal with Uglúk during the following combat phase, since he only has an engagement cost of ten. You definitely want to have a way to deal with this attack, be it a Feint or a good hero defender. So keep them back for that last quest push or ready your defender with Aragorn’s ability.
Quest card 2: Rescue the Captives – x quest points
When you reveal this stage each player will at first have to add an Uruk-Hai enemy to the staging area (this excludes Snaga and Grishnákh from being chosen). Because you will also have to reveal that enemy the best choice is usually Uruk-Hai Fighter. Should your threat be too high to avoid all of them and you’re not prepared to deal with the bulk of enemies your next best bet is often the Isengard Uruk. You will want to bring healing against this scenario anyway, so dishing out the three damage among your characters should be manageable. Uglúk’s Uruk-Hai have the highest engagement cost of the Uruk-Hai enemies, which makes them more avoidable. However, the when revealed effect goes against what you want to do on this stage and especially in multiplayer games you really do not want to reveal additional encounter cards at this stage.
No matter what or how many enemies will be added to the staging area, his engagement cost of ten means you will have to deal with Uglúk at this point. He does not have the worst printed stats for an enemy, however his Toughness 3 means that you can throw your direct damage effects at him to no avail. This gets even more problematic considering the fact that allies cannot attack or defend against him and you have to rely on your heroes to take him down. All of this means that despite his average stats he is one of the more dangerous boss enemies for a solo player where you will rely on four (including Aragorn) heroes to deal with everything. In multiplayer this becomes a lot easier due to the presence of Ranged and Sentinel. A good Sentinel hero like Beregond or Erkenbrand on the table can defend the attack and Ranged attackers like Legolas or Haldir can pool together to take down the Uruk-Hai leader. In solo an at least decent defender is key to deal with Uglúk at this point. With shadow cancellation available you only need a combined defense/hit point value of six to survive which is definitely doable with a lot of heroes and the available defense boosts. High willpower decks can also make good use of Against the Shadow. Since you will likely not be able to keep this up for long, especially with other enemies around, attack boosts are equally important to take him down. The best boss killer is, as in most cases, Tactics Eowyn who can take down Uglúk all by herself with built in readying. Other good options are a buffed up Tactics Gimli (who is also a thematic choice for this quest), Khazâd! Khazâd!, Gondorian Fire, Éomer, Boomed and Trumpeted on either hero Treebeard or Quickbeam, Black Arrow, Charge of the Rohirrim and of course most of the weapon attachments. Beware however, that defense debuffs like Rivendell Blade will be of no use against the Toughness keyword. All of this becomes a lot easier with Fellowship Aragorn on the table. If you saved up his resources you can get a lot of readies out of his ability. Alternatively, you might have used The Three Hunters right before advancing (which also readies your heroes. Another good option is the often overlooked Elwing’s Flight) the quest or use Banner of Elendil for a global attack boost on your heroes. If you are lacking a defender, he can also safely survive one attack from Uglúk, which hopefully will buy you enough time to take him down.
The other central thing of this stage is that you are able to decrease the pursuit value by one every time you destroy an enemy. Particularly with the amount of enemies added in multiplayer this can give you a nice bit of quest point reduction on the stage and buy you a couple of round before losing. Generally, after defeating Uglúk you will want to beat the stage as quickly as possible. This can be achieved by a big quest pushed supported by willpower boosts from all the cards already mentioned in the section about the pursuit value. In case you are unsure if you can beat the stage by yolo-questing, keep some characters back to deal with combat and only go all out if you are certain to win or you would lose at the end of the round otherwise. Take care of having a cancel for Unseen Barrier when doing this or you might get screwed.
The Fellowship Hero
A thing that is often confusing to new players starting a campaign are the rules regarding the use of the different iterations of Fellowship Aragorn. Contrary to the Ring-bearer you are indeed forced to use the version of Aragorn that comes with the box that you are currently playing. So for this quest, you will have to use the Treason of Saruman iteration. With his great stats you are looking at a very strong hero for zero threat cost. Not only does he offer these stats, he also is a target for Celebrian’s Stone, Ring of Barahir, Sword that was Broken and Roheryn, which are all very good attachments to have. (The expection is Ring of Barahir, but with it, the Stone, the Sword and the Banner he turns into a good sponge for all of the archery damage in this quest.) They also grant him resource icons without the use of songs, which offers another way to use his resources. You might also have picked up the Anduril boon earlier in the campaign. However, you should not neglect the Fellowship cards like the aforementioned The Three Hunters and Banner of Elendil as well as his ability to ready heroes which can come in very handy when trying to take down Uglúk.
The Encounter Deck
- The encounter deck encompasses 35 cards in normal mode and 27 cards in easy mode.
- Only 43% of the cards have shadow effects, the lowest value so far in the campaign. The number only rises by 0.6 percent to a rounded down 44% in easy mode. A lot of the shadows play around with the pursuit value and include attachment discard, attack boosts, returns to staging and additional attacks.
- The average threat is 1.4 in normal mode. However, this number only counted the base threat of one for both Snaga and Plains of Rohan. Both can get up to much higher number depending on the luck of the draw. Even without that the number increases to 1.6 in easy mode.
- No Surge in the scenario. That’s nice. Thank you, Caleb! (This does not count burdens. Also: Two enemies offer you a choice between revealing an encounter card and another detrimental effect.)
- Also no Doomed and no other effects that increase threat.
- But: Nine out of the thirteen enemies in the encounter deck have Archery. Bring healing!
- Nineteen cards have the ability to increase your pursuit value either by choice, per shadow or per travel effect.
- All Uruk-Hai enemies have the Toughness keyword, ranging from one to three. The only enemies exempt from this are Snaga and Grishnákh.
- Uglúk is pretty much immune to player card effects on stage one. Even after this he has immunity to attachments. The Rest by Night? treachery cannot be cancelled.
Locations are a mixed back in this scenario. While some give you resources or card draw, these will also increase the pursuit value by travelling to them. This cannot be circumvented because their beneficial effect only becomes available while it is the active location. Because of this, traditional staging area location control is of limited use against this scenario, particularly because the location without beneficial effects are on the higher end of the quest point spectrum and Banks of Entwash punishes you for putting incremental amounts of progress on it. Everything that places progress on the active location like Steed of Imladris or Map of Rhovanion can still help to put more progress on the quest.
- Eastenmet: You will start with this location in the active slot, which is nice because the travel cost increases the pursuit value. Once explored you will add one resource to each heroes resource pool, which is basically an unconditional Tighten Our Belts and can give you a running start against this scenario. Because of this it is also always a good idea to travel to this location even if it increases the pursuit value and it makes a good target to get into play with Distant Stars, Mariner’s Compass or The Hidden Way. If you use these cards to get this location active more often, it can lessen the need for resource generation in your decks quite signicantly.
- The Wold: Does pretty much the same thing as Eastenmet except for card draw and one less quest point. The effect is generally weaker than Eastenmet’s because three (or four if you control Aragorn) resources are in almost all cases better than one card. Still, the effect is nice, but not as critically good as the other. Sometimes it will be a better option to travel to the Banks of Entwash because of the higher threat or Plains of Rohan if its threat is getting out of control.
- Plains of Rohan: A classical location-lock card, this will usually be only one threat in the staging area in solo, but can quickly get out of control in high player counts. While the aforementioned problems with the other three location do make the play of the usual location control like Northern Tracker or Asfaloth (although the latter can also target the active) less viable, there are some options that can quickly get you out of a lot of trouble with this location. You can use Thror’s Key to make it effectively a zero threat location you don’t have to worry about until another Plains of Rohan is revealed; or you can use Heirs of Eärendil, increase your threat by four and just be rid of it.
- Banks of Entwash: One of the main reasons why location control can be problematic against this scenario, this location has the highest threat and five quest points and is often a primary target to travel to because of this. If it is the active you will not want to trigger your response that place progress on the active and ideally explore it in one go. Since this quest really requires a good amount of willpower, a deck that cannot reliably place five progress each turn will often fail anyway, so this should not be too much of a problem in most cases.
All of the enemies in this quest are orcs, so you can use cards that trigger of orc enemies like Blade of Gondolin, the Glamdring boon or ally Elladan and Elrohir. Among these enemies a lot have the Toughness keyword which makes direct damage effects and especially heroes like Thalin much more difficult to use, as well as the Archery keyword which will necessitate the inclusion of healing in your decks lest you want to suffer a slow death by getting pierced with many arrows by the Uruks.
- Uglúk: I’ve already talked a lot about this boss enemy. Voltron heroes with readying are your best friend against this nasty guy!
- Grishnákh: A nasty enemy in its own right with the four threat and quite high stats, the biggest danger is the he will deal continuous damage to one captive that he tries to eat. Looking at the options I presented for captured heroes this gets even more damaging because those measly hobbits can only sustain this for two rounds. Glorfindel on the other hand is an excellent target due to his big hit point pool. There also are a couple of ways to cheese this enemy. In multiplayer you could just let the captive die, because you only lose when all of them lose the game, so if you don’t kill Grishnákh (and maybe even trap him), you only have to worry about his threat of four. On the other hand, the letter of the rules allows you to heal the captive. Whether you think this is in the spirit of the card, is up to you, but you can certainly just use Warden of Healing every turn and just forget about it. Still, the four threat will probably necessitate you killing him eventually. Thankfully his attack value is relatively small and you “just” have to get through his hit point pool. You could use direct damage for this, but with all of the Toughness in the encounter deck these cards probably do not warrant inclusion.
- Uglúk’s Uruk-Hai: When this enemy is revealed it offers you a choice: Either increase the pursuit value by one or reveal an additional encounter card. The best choice usually changes through the course of the game. Early on, when you want some breathing room from the encounter deck and still have leeway with the pursuit value, you will often increase the pursuit value to be able to build your board state more safely. On stage two, when approaching the end of the game, it is often better to reveal the additional encounter card instead of bringing you closer to defeat; particularly since you might reveal an enemy that you can use to lower the pursuit value. After that this is an average mid-tier enemy with a threat value low enough and an engagement cost high enough that you can take him on at your own terms. The one Archery should be easily healed off.
- Isengard Uruk: Another enemy that gives you a choice. You should be prepared to take a lot of direct damage against this scenario and if you are ready for it, throwing the three points of damage around will almost always be better than taking the additional encounter card. Although this enemy still takes a combined six attack to destroy, it can be handled fairly easily and you should do so, because even with healing you do not want to suffer two points of Archery continuously.
- Uruk-Hai Fighter: The lowest engagement cost in the encounter, this enemy, like all Uruks, takes a bit to take down, but his attack of three is pretty manageable. Don’t chump-block this enemy, which is achievable by using your hero defenders or any decent defensive ally like Redwater Sentry, Deorwine or Jubayr.
- Snaga: With its basic stats this enemy is the most harmless in the encounter deck and if you can suffer the archery, you can keep him in the staging area until you advance to stage two and use it to lower the pursuit value. However, the when revealed effect can severely hurt your progress on the quest. The best tech around it is to include mostly low cost cards in your deck, otherwise you WILL eventually boost him up by five threat with your Gandalf. After that his threat lowers significantly.
All of the treacheries either affect enemy engagement or do something around your questing capabilities. The latter is particularly annoying and reminiscent of the incredibly horrible False Lead in The Steward’s Fear. The former is yet another reason why you cannot neglect combat for pure questing power.
- Fighting Uruk-Hai: The important thing to note with this card is that you still have to reveal the card, so the nasty effects on a lot of the enemies will still trigger. Because of this the best choice is usually (and again) the Uruk-Hai Fighter. Assuming you have some measure of combat capability available this card becomes essentially an enemy in the staging area that you optionally engage for combat with the added option of actually engaging another enemy optionally, which might actually be a boon for some decks like the Dunedain archetype. Of course, this can be dangerous when you are playing multiplayer, have clear roles assigned to players and the engaged player is not capable of defeating the enemy, making the presence of Ranged and Sentinel even more important.
- Saruman’s Orders: This is one of those treacheries that scales in horribleness with the number of players in the game. In solo you can return an enemy to the staging area which is like revealing it without suffering the when revealed effect or you can choose to have it just read “Surge”. The higher the player count, the more dangerous this becomes, reminding of Massing at Night back in Journey along the Anduin. In four player you will always add four additional cards to the staging area, bet it enemies engaged with players or just revealed cards. Choosing enemies engaged is often the better option, because you can avoid a lot of effects, but if you stay on top of your enemies and would have to reveal four additional encounter cards, this is often a must-cancel or you have to prepared to have some serious problems for two or three rounds.
- Rest by Night?: A good reason not to play your Silvan decks against this quest, this treachery offers you a choice: Either immediately end the quest phase (remember False Lead?) and increase the pursuit value by three or deal one damage to each character committed to the quest. To top it all off this effect cannot be cancelled. Although there already is a lot of direct damage in this scenario, the best option will often be to just take the damage. (The importance of healing cannot be understated for this quest.) Early on, when you are not going for a big quest push, you can get away with ending the quest phase and the pursuit value increase, but especially later on, when you really want to get over the finish line, you just have to suffer through the damage. On a more corner-case note, this card can kind of non-bo with Strange Weariness, because you can actually be happy to see it if this other treachery has already lowered your willpower so much that you would have to substantially increase your threat by failing to quest successfully.
- Strange Weariness: Putting even more hurt on your questing capabilities, this treachery, similarly to Rest by Night? is more dangerous when you are going for that big push to finally see the stage to its end where it can hit you unexpectedly. It’s a good reason to include triggerable willpower buffs like ally Faramir. Overquesting a little is often fine too, although you want to be careful to not advance to stage two until you set up a way to at least defend against Uglúk and the additional enemies.
- Unseen Barrier: Like the previous two treacheries this won’t hurt you as much when you are not trying to quest for a lot. Early on, when you will usually take one or two rounds to establish your board state, this will be a welcome sight to see since you are avoiding other more dangerous encounter cards. Generally, and this goes for Strange Weariness as well, you want to keep a Test of Will back to ensure that you will be able to quest push through to the win at the end and not get screwed over by the encounter deck at the last minute.
Tips and Tricks
- Bring along the willpower. The longer you take, the harder it will get to beat the quest. Especially with the time limit on your questing, you will have to push through the quest relatively quickly and turtling for more than one or two rounds is not recommended. You need to be aggressive.
- Speaking of aggressiveness, remember to use heroes that are somewhat combat capable. Uglúk is a serious danger when you don’t have the heroes to defend and attack against him. Aragorn can help with that and it’s generally easier in multiplayer, but in solo you have to plan carefully to have a way to take him down, be it through sheer hero power, attachments or events.
- Bring healing! There is so much direct damage in this quest that without healing you will get into serious trouble in the later phases of it.
- On the other hand, you can mitigate some of the direct damage with a decent Archery soak. Loading Aragorn up with all of his artifacts like Celebrian’s Stone, Sword that was Broken and Ring of Barahir will turn him into a hit point monster that can suffer a lot of the damage. Tactics Gimli or Gloin also make good targets because you get a beneficial effect out of it.
- Keep a cancel back for the big final push at the end, so that you cannot get screwed over by Strange Weariness or Unseen Barrier.
- Avoid chump-blocking. Not only is it a non-applicable strategy against Uglúk. The Uruk-Hai Fighter will return to the staging area and the shadow effects on both Plains of Rohan and Unseen Barrier will increase the pursuit value when the attack destroys a character.
- This is one of those quest that usually is best approached with a deck specifically designed to defeat it. The reason for this lies in being one hero down and the thrown of cost curve because of this. Should you decide to bring a random deck you have build, don’t even try to bring a tri-sphere deck.
- Should you build for this scenario, however, make sure to include some of the strong Fellowship cards like The Three Hunters and Banner of Elendil to make your life easier.
- It is obvious, but still: If you had a tri-sphere deck, don’t run cards with the sphere of the hero that got captured. This opens up some more deckspace for you, allowing you to make some changes in your standard deck.
Campaign Play: Boons
First of all: Before you being this quest you will have to, depending on what you picked in Shadow of the Past, remove either Gildor Inglorion or Mr. Underhill from the campaign pool and won’t be able to use them ever again. This is an often overlooked rule. It makes sense though, because Shelob will not fall for you yelling out: “But I’m Mr. Underhill!” You are also not able to switch heroes for this scenarios, which can get weird for the Frodo side of the campaign, should you choose some of the earlier heroes to join Frodo in his travels and switch them in for Passage of the Marshes.
Actually getting the boons of this quest is no small feat. To do so, you will have to beat the quest with a pursuit value of 25 or lower. This quest tends to very tense finishes with high pursuit values, so in order to achieve this you will often have to be even more aggressive with your approach to beating the quest, which can make handling Uglúk early on more difficult. Also make sure to get the most out of the pursuit value reduction be defeating enemies on stage two. You can technically replay the quest as much as you like, but depending on how RP-heavy you are approaching the campaign that might not be for you.
If you manage to get the boons, you are offered a choice. Either each player can choose one of four different attachments that attach to a hero with a specific trait and grant them a powerful skill that you were able to set up with the trait granting boons earlier in the campaign, or you can revive a hero that has died earlier in the campaign and give them the Beyond all Hope attachment which grant plus one to each stat and immunity to treachery attachments. The thematic option for this is of course the hero you might have sacrificed in Journey in the Dark, but any fallen hero is a viable target for this.
- Intimidation: Offers the ability to reduce the defense of a non-unique enemy by two for an attack. It attaches to a warrior hero, which there a plenty of and you were able to set it up on another hero earlier with the Valiant Warrior boon that also grant plus one attack which can turn any hero into a really strong attacker. (It combos really well with Tactics Merry on the Frodo side of the campaign.) Not counting doubles, there are 25 heroes with the printed warrior trait. Some, like Beregond, Fastred or Beorn do not make good or legal targets for this attachment. Silvan and Noldor heroes are also better off with just a Rivendell Blade weapon which can also target unique enemies that are not immune. Good targets for this attachment include Gimli, Eomer, Theoden and Amarthiul. It also can go great on Fellowship Aragorn, particularly if you use him with Roheryn to kill enemies before they can attack. He basically turn into a Grimbeorn that does not need to defend.
- Hands of a Healer: This needs to attach to a healer-traited hero of which there are literally none. So you would have needed to set it up with the Skilled Healer boon earlier. The thing about this is, that Skilled Healer is already the weakest of the trait boons and to use Hands of a Healer’s ability you need to exhaust the hero which is a huge price to pay for healing three damage on a hero. Something you can achieve for the cost of one Lore resource with Ioreth. Do not pick this unless you are playing through the campaign with four players.
- Forewarned: Attaches to a Ranger hero and offers the ability to discard a shadow card while defending. Most of the ranger heroes in this game aren’t the strongest defenders out of the gat. The exceptions are Amarthiul and Elrohir, who both make excellent targets for this. The best use for this though, is setting up a strong defensive hero like Beregond or Fastred with Tireless Ranger earlier in the campaign and turn them into a defensive monster with this skill boon. The plus one defense from the trait boon and the shadow discard turn them into monstrous defenders even without any further attachments. Erkenbrand can also be a good target, although he already has built in shadow cancellation.
- Leader of Men: This is such a strong card. There a lot of good Noble targets for this like Theoden, Eowyn, Glorfindel, Arwen, Cirdan, Celeborn, Thorin, Prince Imrahil (especially his Tactics version), Kahliel, Bard, son of Brand and Gildor Inglorion. The ability to usually generate an additional resource every turn on any of these heroes is just so good. (Even if you will often fail to quest in the next scenario of the campaign.) Setting it up with the Noble Hero boon earlier is also amazing. Suddenly Sam Gamgee quests for four and generates additional resources. Another excellent target for this combo is Hirgon. If you do not choose Beyond all Hope, make sure a player picks this!
- Beyond all Hope: A boon that will lock you out of any of the other boons, this card brings back a fallen hero and boosts stats across the board while granting immunity to treachery attachments at the same time. The latter is usually not very useful, because you will just have to attach the card to another hero. The global stat boosts means that you want to use it on a character that can make use of several stats. This makes Gandalf (obviously), Glorfindel and the combo of Spirit Legolas and Leadership Gimli good targets. However, the hero needs to be dead, so you probably won’t set this up consciously anyway.
- Which to choose?: I want to recommend picking Beyond all Hope, I really do. It is such an amazingly thematic card and it can make for such cool storytelling moments. The thing about it is though, that in multiplayer it will only help one of the players and even in a solo campaign, Leader of Men is just such a universally strong pick, that it is hard to recommend it gameplay-wise. It’s by no means bad though, so if you find it as cool as I do, by no means, pick it! Should you go the skill-granting boons route, the obvious choice is Leader of Men, followed by Forewarned and Intimidation, depending on your hero line-up. Only pick Hands of a Healer in a four player game.
- Two players, non campaign: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4yO4yfM4Ubg
- Two-handed, campaign mode: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wlUBoRQxUgo
- True solo, campaign: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ePXSi1JSJvU
With the heroes reunited, it is now time to look into one of the more epic scenarios in the saga: Helm’s Deep! This quest throws the normal questing phase on its head and will require some dedicated decks to survive the night!