Over the Misty Mountains Grim

The second scenario in the first Hobbit box, Over Hill and Under Hill,  continues the story right where the first scenario leaves off.  For those interested in continuing the story using the same deck that they used in “We Must Away, Ere Break of Day,” know right now that it is possible because I’ve done it.  And not with “The One Deck” or a necessarily overpowered deck.  I took my Hobbits and my Silvans through this quest and both did a fairly good job at tackling the hardships that this deck throws at you.  But I get ahead of myself.

Over the Misty Mountains Grim

  • Found in: The Hobbit: Over Hill and Under Hill expansion, quest 2
  • Community Difficulty: 5.3
  • Encounter sets: Western Lands, Over the Misty Mountains Grim, The Great Goblin, Misty Mountain Goblins
  • Quest cards: 3
  • Play if: You are playing the Hobbit saga and have beaten the first scenario, you want a nice quest that is true to the lore and has a clear transition between stages, including changing encounter decks.

 

Quest card 1: A Short Rest – 0 quest points

For all intents and purposes, this scenario has two quest cards.  I know that there are three in the quest deck, but the first entitled “A Short Rest” allows you to search your deck for any treasure card you happen to find from the first scenario.

You’ve beaten the trolls from “We Must Away…” and found Orcrist, Glamdring, and Sting, and all you want to do is use the treasure.  This first quest card allows you and your gang to pull one Treasure card out of your deck.  That is for each player.  It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to decide that in order to get maximum use of this card, the treasure should be spread out amongst all the players. To be fair, it is a little frustrating playing solo only because that treasure you fought so hard to get in the first scenario could be buried in your deck for this entire scenario.  So, in short, make sure you spread the wealth from the first scenario if you are playing multiplayer.

Even before you get this part, side 1A has a unique variant that not many quests have in this game.  There are two encounter decks.  For me, this is awesome because it mirrors the books in that the adventures go from the outdoors, battling the elements, to a cave crawl very abruptly.  There is no better way to do this in the game than to have two completely separate encounter decks.

The first encounter deck you make is made from cards that were also in “We Must Away…” continuing the feel of that scenario while adding a new (and big!) bad guy. The second encounter deck is completely new and is designed to give you the feel that the goblins are closing in around you and, as you play it, can feel like a steady stream of goblins are engaging you.  For me, this is a thematic home-run.

Quest card 2: The Mountain Pass – 16 quest points

Let’s talk specifically about the first encounter deck.  Yes it keeps Wind-Whipped Rain that I couldn’t stand in the “We Must Away…” but let’s talk about the big bad guy:  Stone Giants.  A lot of them.  And they have treacheries that go with them in the encounter deck that make them even worse, like Guffawing of Giants and everyone’s favourite, Galloping Boulders.

There’s good news and bad news.

The good news?  It is not a requirement to defeat these guys to progress to the next quest card.  It can be tough, but with a deck designed for heavy questing, it’s possible to avoid engaging these brutes at all and make it to the next quest card.  The four threat that it adds can be a formidable cost to overcome, but it can be done

The bad news?  There are three of these in the encounter deck and the encounter deck seems smaller that normal with only 26 cards in it.  This is also coupled with the When Revealed effect on the quest card that makes you dig one out and put it in the staging area AND reveal one card per player at the start of the stage.  As a primarily solo player, I have been able to dodge two Stone Giants at the start of the stage, but not always.  As there becomes more and more players in the game, the chances of drawing another one is greater.  Worse yet? All three could come out.

The trick is to be ready for dealing with the 4 threat from the beginning.  Using Spirit Eowyn (or Tactics Eowyn with a different Spirit hero) is the obvious, but solid move.  Or making sure you are able to draw into that Escort of Edoras or the Celebrian’s Stone can be other tricks to use.  In solo and two player games, just make sure you are ready for a second giant to pop out.  Beregond is also a solid choice of hero here because you can engage the giant and remove his threat from the staging area and Beregond is one of the few heroes that can take 6 attack from the start.

Why use a Spirit Hero?  For one card – Galloping Boulders.  If there was ever a way that the game is so obviously trying to kill off heroes, its with this card.  It does three damage to a character, an ally preferably. But, remember you have to reveal a Stone Giant and another card for each player in the game upon revealing quest card 2B.  There are four copies of this card in the encounter deck and getting this could mean the end of your game before your game even began.  Oh, and by the way, it gains surge if a Stone Giant is in the staging area.  It’s possible that before you even see the first planning phase that all of your heroes were surge/Galloping Boulders right out of the game.  Hence why Test of Will can be a life saver here.  While it doesn’t cancel the surge, it does get rid of that 3 points of damage.  You don’t even want to read its shadow effect. In order to alleviate the pain this treachery deals to you, you can pick targets like Sailor of Lune. This ally will likely be questing, but can avoid taking the 3 damage as long as the controlling player has an event on top of their discard pile. In order to get back the lost willpower of a hero, Windfola is a great mount to have, though you will still need to be able to soak 3 points of damage.

If this weren’t enough, the encounter deck has a way to recur this pesky treachery through the use of A Suspicious Crow which takes the top card of the encounter discard pile and reveals it.  In multiplayer games, I can guarantee that you are going to see boulders coming at you from all angles.

The last part of the encounter deck that is soul-crushing happens to be titled Guffawing of Giants.”  This exciting card forces you to deal with a Stone Giant by either making you engage one or, if none are in the staging area, finding one and putting it there.  In a solo game, its almost impossible to manage this card.  Encounter scrying effects like Henamarth or using the Palantir can really help by giving you the heads up.  In multiplayer games, this card may not be so bad, but we may be comparing a broken leg to a broken foot.  Both are horrible and hurt like hell.

There are other treacheries and, of course, locations in this encounter deck, but I find that the main theme is that the giants are trying to kill you or maybe just seriously mame you. It’s best to get through this stage as quickly as possible by questing heavy and having cancellation at the ready.

I was successful in this quest by using a buffed Sam for questing and defence or using a variant of a Silvan swarm deck, at least solo.  Sam is great because he can quest and his ability allows you to ready him and buff his stats.  The Silvan swarm (or any other swarm deck probably) is good because you can get the willpower advantage early and also use some of those in the swarm to chump block.  In a lore deck, I think burning brand is a solid choice.

As I have played the quest, it doesn’t seem to have many locations that I had to build around, so the traditional location control cards may not be worth including in your player deck.  Spirit Glorfindel would be good include, but Asfaloth could probably be replaced with Henamarth Riversong or some other encounter scrying.  Maybe even an Ithilien Lookout could be helpful to get rid of those stone giants before they hit the table.  Yes, he’s costly, but getting rid of the giant for three lore resources AND getting a chump blocker could be invaluable.

Also, because you don’t have to engage the Giant or you can use a chump to defend or take the Galloping Boulders damage, healing isn’t a requirement for this stage.  Sure, a stray boulder can get you, but I have found that healing could be best left out and replaced by questing buffs like Song of Hope or Celebrian’s Stone (for leadership decks) or Favor of the Lady (for spirit decks.)

Quest card 3: Down, Down to Goblin-Town

When you make it through stage 2B make sure you have at least two resources on Bilbo.  The when revealed effect of stage 3B is that you have to reveal three encounter cards per player and Bilbo can pay to reduce that by one per resource.  That reduction is vital to your survival and becomes increasingly more important the more players you have.  The second encounter deck is made from primarily enemies, so a 4 player game has the potential of turning 12 enemies plus The Great Goblin.  These could easily overrun the first player during the first engagement and combat phase.

Once you’ve dealt with the when revealed effect of the quest card, the rest of the quest is more of the same.  You need to make sure that you are set up to attack and defend in this half  of the quest.  This is in stark contrast to the first half of the scenario where you could get away with not engaging anyone and is relatively light on enemies.  This half of the scenario is enemy heavy and the enemies have low engagement cost which will force you to engage them often.

In order to defeat this stage, and the scenario, you must defeat “The Great Goblin.” For a boss enemy, these stats aren’t horrible.  The engagement cost is what can hurt.  The fact that as soon as you enter stage 3B, you’ll have to engage this guy can be tricky.  That two defence really strikes me as it’s weakness.  A simple Rivendell Blade can really be helpful.  Many attacks from heroes with a modest unboosted three attack power are also good because you’ve played a few rounds and hopefully found some weapons or signals to buff at least one hero.  If you have an attacker like Glorfindel with only a Rivendell Blade, he can bring this guy down in three rounds.  Group attack by adding Bilbo, and now you’re down to two rounds.  You get the idea.

A saving grace for decks that are light on attack power is that he (and his goblin cronies) is susceptible to player card effects like traps (the Forest Snare comes to mind) or cards like Feint, Hobbit Sense, Feigned Voices, and others.  All of this makes this guy pretty chumpy for a boss enemy.

But what makes him not so chumpy is his Forced effect that brings goblins out.  Maybe one or two players this can be not so bad, but scaled to 4 players, it’s possible to bring out 4 more enemies when you may already be overrun from the stage setup.  Fortunately, there are a few locations and a few treacheries in the encounter deck that can allow The Great Goblin to whiff, but it is not likely to happen often.

The last thing about The Great Goblin is that there are four copies of Goblin Bent-Swords  in the encounter deck that get a buff by his defeat.  While these guys aren’t impossible to defeat, the Surge effect can be horrible in a solo game and the buff to attack is frustrating as a shadow card.  If you are playing with that Spirit deck mentioned above, shadow cancellation is always a good thing for thee guys.

 

Encounter decks statistics

As there are 2 separate encounter decks for this scenario, both encounter decks will be analysed for this section.

Stage 2 – Encounter sets: Western lands, Over the Misty Mountains Grim

  • This first encounter deck has 26 cards to reveal in Normal mode, and just 17 in Easy mode.over misty mountains grim
  • The chance of getting a shadow effect is 46% in Normal mode, and 35% in Easy mode
  • Average threat per card revealed is 1.2 threat/card in both modes, though this can change significantly between 4 threat and 0 threat cards.
  • There are no surging cards in this encounter deck on their own, but Galloping Boulders can surge if a Stone-Giant is in the staging area.
  • The Doomed keyword is only present on the two copies of No Campfire
  • No cards are immune to anything.

This encounter deck becomes a lot easier in Easy mode, as there will only be 1 copy of Stone-Giant and all but one copy of Galloping Boulders are removed from play. Less thematic, but a lot easier for those looking for a quick game. After the players progress to stage 3, they discard these encounter cards and switch this encounter deck out for the one with the Goblins.

Stage 3 – Encounter sets: the Great Goblin, Goblins of the Misty Mountains

  • This second encounter deck is made up of 29 cards in Normal mode, 20 in Easy mode.The Great Goblin
  • Shadow effects are a big threat at this stage, as no less than 83% of cards feature a shadow effect in Normal mode, 80% in Easy mode.
  • Average threat per card revealed is higher than at stage 2. In Normal mode the average threat per card revealed is 1.9, this gets raised to 2.3 threat/card in Easy mode.
  • 7 cards in this encounter deck can surge, but more effects can draw out more enemies, potentially adding more threat to the staging area.
  • There are no Doomed effects in this second encounter deck
  • Goblin enemies are immune to attacks when Front Porch is the active location.

These statistics do not count the Great Goblin, as he is never in the encounter deck. Noticeable is that the encounter deck does not include any treacheries in Easy mode. The rest of the encounter deck is heavily skewed towards enemies, in sharp contrast to the second stage of this quest.

Conclusion

In the final analysis, this is a great scenario and I really enjoyed playing it for two reasons:

  1. It does its best to provide the player with that abrupt change of setting that is so vital in the books and
  2. The scenario isn’t just a dungeon run or a quest test.  It’s both.  And not at the same time.  The first encounter deck feels like a questing scenario while the second gives the true feel of being overcome by goblins.

While I think this quest could be challenging, I didn’t find it impossible.  As with any quest, I think it’s important to know your deck and switching play styles mid-scenario provides a twist that really forces you to get creative.

When I played this quest (again, solo) I found that buffed Sam was a great hero because of his action advantage and what you need for the quest.  The swarm type deck also worked because I was able to keep my board state in good position compared to the staging area.

Unexpected Courage or Coragorn are always a great way to gain an action advantage in lieu of having Sam.  And because this is part of the quest is heavy on orcs and goblins, the Blade of Gondolin is a weapon to consider.  The location control aspect could be helpful, but the buff when attacking orcs is good.  Also, using the old Cirdan, Narya combination will work nicely because of the readying effects and trying to get the action advantage on the staging area.  Cirdan’s access to the spirit sphere can also be key for using Hasty Stroke and, as always, Test of Will.  Also, if you haven’t played Light of Valinor on Cirdan, then that is a great pairing here as well.

Cards that could be left out of this deck, again, strict location control cards.  I also found that this scenario favours speed so I don’t find healing particularly helpful.  Replace those Northern Trackers and Lorien Guides with Defenders of Rammas and Honour Guard.  Maybe take out Athelas and put in a few Ethir Swordsman.

I think playing with Core Gandalf in your deck makes this scenario markedly easier and way more thematic because of his versatility and because the enemies are not immune to player card effects.  Of course access to the leadership sphere makes sneaky Gandalf a reality and will make quick work of the big, bad guys on either stage.

It seems that having a buffed quester and buffed attacker is going to get you to the end in many cases.  Also, I am not sure if there is one sphere or deck type that is going to do better than another here because of the two different encounter decks, but the advantage of having access to Test of Will is more apparent in this quest than in others.  If you aren’t running Test of Will, the quest is still beatable.  Be ready to have chumps for both encounter decks.  For the first encounter deck, you need chump questers, and for the second you need chump blockers.

Playthroughs

The quest doesn’t get played a lot, so not many playthrough videos can be found as of this moment. If more get added in the future, they will be added to the list!

That concludes this scenario. Next time, you will be playing riddles with Gollum while your heroes are out fighting Goblins and Wargs. The Lonely Mountain draws closer, but is still half a world away.

 

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