As we kick off this brand new cycle, we get right away one of my favourite quests in the game. During Voyage of Belegaer, players are introduced to the new mechanics of the cycle, involving sailing tests and ship objectives/enemies. I like this quest because of the replayability, as well as the fact that it doesn’t have to be very difficult. If you are playing with a new player and they are ready for some more advanced games, this would be one I would bring to the table. However, the quest can drag on for a while if players are not able to commandeer their ships correctly. Voyage Across Belegaer helps the players to remember always stick to the correct course, else you can find yourself facing a very long quest, with very tough enemies and locations. With that out of the way, let’s sail away on our:
Voyage Across Belegaer
- Found in: Grey Havens Deluxe box, scenario 1
- Official difficulty: 5
- Community difficulty: 4.8
- Encounter sets: The Dream-chaser’s Fleet, Vast Oceans, Stormy Weather, Corsair Pirates, Umbar Fleet, Voyage Across Belegaer.
- Quest cards: 6, but in the ideal case, you only encounter 4 of them
- Play if: You want to play a Sailing quest, you want to fight boats, you enjoy having a lot of smaller quest cards instead of big ones with 20 quest points, you want to battle both the elements and corsairs.
- What is different about this quest?: Sailing tests, multiple quest stages 2, Boarding keyword, ship objectives, ship enemies, course determines the length of the quest, beneficial locations.
- Solo or multiplayer?: I like to enjoy this quest with some friends, as that allows you to interact more with the ships than you would in solo. In true solo, the quest gets more difficult, as you will have to do all Sailing tests by yourself. In multiplayer, this gets done easier, but more cards will get revealed, potentially going into location lock. Have some plans to counter it and you will enjoy the scenario most with around 3 players.
- Can I run side-quests for this scenario?: While you can, it is generally not advised. This quest can be long, and you will continuously have to make progress on the main stages to move forward. The first quest stage does offer a small window in the early game to complete one side-quest before you set sail, but only do this in higher player counts so that you can advance through each quest stage faster. Good side-quests for this scenario include Rally the West, to boost willpower of questing characters, and Send for Aid, to help all players swarm their allies a little faster.
- What to look out for: Drifting off course, Boarding corsairs can overwhelm you, locations can build up in higher player counts, direct damage destroying your ships.
This quest requires a fair bit of setup, but once you have gone through it a number of times, it becomes pretty easy. The game starts with you preparing the Corsair deck, which means that all Corsair enemies in the encounter deck (all non-ship enemies) get put into a separate deck and get set aside from the encounter deck. This deck also has its own discard pile for Corsair enemies, so they don’t go into the general discard pile when they are defeated. Then, the players prepare their fleet. I have covered everything about the ships in a separate article that you can read to make the best choice between the ships you choose. After each player has taken command of a ship, the 4 different stages 2 are shuffled and put into a pile, with stage 3 on the bottom. The players also take the compass card and attach it to the Dream-chaser, with the sunny symbol up to symbolise that the players start on course. Finally, the players add a copy of Rolling Seas and Scouting Ship to the staging area for a total of 6 threat before staging. This is where solo players are at a disadvantage, as there is quite a lot of threat to overcome in the first round. With setup out of the way, the players may flip the quest card and move to stage 1B.
Quest card 1: Departure from the Havens – 8 quest points
This stage isn’t really all that exciting. It is the first stage to introduce the Sailing test that will carry over to all other quest stages in this scenario. The details of the sailing test are described in the separate article I made on them, but I will reiterate some of it here as well. This is the only stage where going off course doesn’t matter to the quest card, but it might have an influence on other encounter cards in play.
The stage doesn’t have a lot of things that you should be concerned about, as it is actually a pretty easy stage. After all, you are just setting out of the Elven havens and are learning the ropes of this Sailing business. This stage and all others of this scenario have the Sailing keyword stamped on it, which means that before the quest phase, the players will have to do a sailing test. These tests begin with the players rotating the compass one symbol off course. After this, the first player exhausts any number of characters they control to commit to the quest. Only the first player can commit to the sailing test, but the Dream-chaser can be committed as well, even if it isn’t controlled by the first player. Now that X characters have been committed to the test, the players discard the top X cards from the encounter deck and look for a ship’s wheel icon in the bottom left corner. For each of those symbols that appear on the discarded cards, the players shift their heading on course by one step. This means that the players will have to reveal 1 symbol to stay on course during their first test. If no symbols were discarded this way, the players remain off course.
The stage doesn’t do a lot beside the Sailing test, but it does give you a nice bonus if you manage to stay on course. While on course, ship objectives gain a +2 to their willpower. This is nice to compensate for any lost willpower from the characters committed to the sailing test. It also allows you to quickly advance to stage 2 if you want to. In higher player counts, you will likely advance to the next stage within 1 or 2 turns, but you can also stay at this stage longer to clear side-quests. Don’t stay too long though, as you will have to do more sailing tests and you have a long journey ahead through the next stages. Staying too long might push your threat over the engagement limit of certain ship enemies, which will make things difficult.
After the first stage has its 8th progress token, it is time to move to the next stage. This depends on whether or not you are on course. If you are not, you simply advance to the top quest stage of the quest deck. If you are on course, you may choose between the top 2 quest cards of the quest deck and advance to one of them, moving the other to the bottom of the deck. This saves you from having to go to an additional stage. The golden rule for this scenario is therefore: Don’t go off course!
Quest cards 2
As instructed during the setup portion of this quest, the quest deck is made up of 4 different stages 2A/B. These stages got shuffled during setup and put into a pile, with stage 3 on the bottom of the pile. This means that players will have to advance all 4 stages before they reach the final stage. However, if they manage to sail professionally and manage to stay on course at the moment they advance through a stage, they will be able to pick one of two stages on the pile and advance to one of them. This speeds up your journey by only needing to explore 2 stages 2 instead of all 4. The details on how to advance between quest cards are described on the quest cards themselves.
Remember to not shuffle the quest deck again after setup, as stages that get placed on the bottom of the quest deck will remain there. The players will not go to them, as they will reach stage 3 before they have the option to go to one of the bottom stages again (except for when you are trolling). As long as you manage to stay on course, none of these quest cards are really troublesome, but some may harm you more than others. Let’s discuss them.
Cursed Mists – 6 quest points
In case the enemy is getting ships out faster than you can destroy them, maybe going through the Cursed Mists is a good idea. Selecting (or being forced to go to) this quest card will have the players find a copy of Fog Bank in the encounter deck or the discard pile. The players are not forced to travel here, but it does give them the possibility. This will allow the players to get a grip of the situation before exploring the location and being forced into combat again. When picking the location out of the encounter deck or discard pile, try to go for the encounter deck first, as removing a card without a ship’s wheel icon slightly increases your chances at revealing one during the sailing test.
This quest card is the only one with 6 quest points, requiring the most progress to explore. This gets more difficult if the players are off course. Having lost their way in the mist and being off course will reduce the willpower of any non-Ship ally by 2. Remember that heroes and Ships can still quest for their printed willpower, without debuff. Other allies would suffer greatly though, preventing you from making much progress out of the mists. Try to stay on course during the sailing tests at this stage, as you can end up in a kind of limbo state where progress is slow, and combat slowly tears you apart. After the sixth point of progress has been made on the quest card, the players can advance to the next stage, following the same rules as on quest card 1.
The Star’s Guidance – 4 quest points
Out of all the different quest cards, this one is the most peaceful, focussing more on locations than enemies. When this stage is revealed, the players must find a copy of Starlit Sea and add it to the staging area. The location itself is easily explored, and not a big problem to the players, especially if they are on course. Try to find a copy of this location in the discard pile first, leaving other copies in the encounter deck. This increases the chances you have of revealing a ship’s wheel icon during your sailing test.
The flip-side of this quest card only adds to the location lock if the players are off course. The players are still instructed to perform sailing tests, and should they ever be off course, each Ocean location (every location in the encounter deck) gets +1 threat. This increases the need to control locations in the staging area and make sure that the players always travel. Staying at this stage for too long can lead to a lot of locations remaining in the staging area, preventing much-needed progress on the quest card. However, in lower player counts and with some progress placing cards in their decks, the players shouldn’t find this stage too difficult, even if they are off course. After the fourth point of progress has been made on the quest card, the players can advance to the next stage, following the same rules as on quest card 1.
Calphon’s Divination – 4 quest points
While the Star’s Guidance focuses on locations, the Divination stage focuses more on enemies and combat. This will be a good stage for combat heavy decks that have maintained a relatively clear board when it comes to enemies. When revealed, the quest stage will pull out another copy of Scouting Ship and add it to the staging area. If the players advanced too quickly, there might still be another Scouting Ship in the staging area, making it hard for the players to overcome the threat of engaging both ships should they end up off course.
The B-side of this quest card gives each Ship enemy in the play +1 to the Boarding value on it when the players are off course. This will go on top of the value printed on the Ship enemies in play, and only take effect when they engage you. So if you have a Ship already engaged before it gains the boost and you go off course, the Boarding keyword does not draw out an additional Corsair. This will make it so that players who engage an Umbar Warship will have to also engage 4 Corsair enemies, which may be too tall an order. It is because of this that you should probably avoid engaging Ships while you are off course. The stage becomes a lot easier once no ships are left in play, making it matter little whether or not the players are on course or not. This does become an issue when the players try to transition to the next stage, which works the same way all the other transitions work and favours the players being on course. The quest stage only requires 4 progress, which means that players don’t have to contribute many characters to the quest if they want to keep them back for combat.
Into the Storm – 2 quest points
Lastly, we have the quest stage with the lowest number of quest points, requiring just 2 points of progress to advance. While this is not unheard of in this game, it is pretty rare for a stage to have so few quest points. When this quest stage is selected as the new stage, the players will have to find 1 copy of Waterspout and add it to the staging area. Should the players happen to be at the worst heading, then the Waterspout will also become the new active location when the players are able to travel. This synergises with the quest card effect, dealing a lot of damage to the ship objectives. Since the players will lose if their ships get destroyed, it is advised to go through this stage with caution and try not to miss any sailing tests.
On the other side of this quest card, the players will find that they are still being forced to make sailing tests every turn. It also informs them that should they ever wonder off course, they will have to distribute 5 damage among characters they control. Combine this with the Archery in this scenario, and you will find yourself taking on a lot of damage quickly. In the early game, the ship objectives can absorb some of the damage, but this is not an advisable strategy in the later portion of the scenario, when your ships are all banged up. Luckily, the stage is explored quickly, allowing you to transition to the next stage using the same rules as any other stage.
Quest card 3: Corsair Pursuit – 10 quest points
You have made it through the second stages of the quest and are in the endgame now. But the corsairs are not giving up their pursuit and will try to destroy your fleet before the quest is over. Once the players advance to this stage, they must find the ship enemy with the highest printed threat on it in the encounter deck or discard pile and add it to the staging area. This is often the Light Cruiser, at 4 threat, or a Corsair Warship if the Cruisers are all in play already. If the players are playing easy mode, the Scouting Ship could come up as well. If there are 3 or 4 players in the game at this point, the players will have to add another ship with the highest threat to the staging area. Then, the encounter deck gets shuffled again and the players flip this stage.
As usual, the players will need to make sailing tests throughout this stage, trying to keep to their course. If the players remain on course during this stage, they can make progress on the main stage. Otherwise, they can only explore side-quests and active locations. It is therefore a good idea to at least have a side-quest in play that the players can fall back on should they be brought off course.
The stage has two separate ways to win the game. The players can either go aggressive and destroy all Ship enemies in play in order to win, or they can make the 10 progress on the main quest (only if they are on course) to outpace the Corsairs and escape that way. I personally tend to overquest the enemy at this stage and escape that way, but if you have been killing ships all game and the staging area is very light on enemy ships, it might be faster to just destroy the ship you just revealed and win that way. Remember that only Ship enemies must be destroyed in order to win, you can still have Corsairs in play.
The way you win is up to you and depends on your situation. If you decide to kill the ships instead of outpacing them, you can mostly forget about sailing and keep your characters ready for combat. This will still make the locations and ship enemies tougher, but having added action advantage may be enough to sink the enemy’s ship and clear a path for you. If you want to overquest the enemy, you will need a big questing push of 10 progress on the quest, which is certainly doable in higher player counts. Once the final progress has been made or the final ship has been sunk, the players win the game and can move on to the island of Calphon’s dream. The next scenario will take you through the uncharted jungle of the island in The Fate of Numenor.
The Encounter deck
- The encounter deck for this scenario is pretty thin, having only 27 cards in normal mode and 19 in easy mode. You will be going through this deck quickly thanks to the sailing tests.
- Shadow effects are pretty common on the cards in the encounter deck, with 70% of cards having an effect. This holds true for both modes.
- Wheel symbols are important in this quest, so you want to keep the chances of revealing one as high as possible. In normal mode, 44% of cards have a wheel icon, this goes up to 47% in easy mode, making it nearly 1 in 2.
- Average threat per cards revealed is high, with 1.7 threat/card in Normal mode, and 1.6 threat/card in easy mode. This goes from 0 threat treacheries to 4 threat enemies and locations.
- Surge is not in this encounter deck, so you can be sure of only revealing one encounter card per player.
- The Doomed keyword is not in the encounter deck, though there are a few threat raising effects. All in all, you could bring some threat raising effects of your own without too much consequence.
- The Archery keyword makes a comeback with the Corsair Warship. This enemy gets Archery 4 while it is in the staging area, dealing quite a lot of direct damage. This gets easier to deal with in higher player counts.
The statistics mentioned above do not include the Scouting Ship and the Rolling Seas that are in the staging area at the start of the game. It is noticeable how few enemies are in the encounter deck, but that is because the Corsair enemies are in a separate encounter deck and come into play through the Boarding keyword or the Boarding Party treachery.
There are two types of enemies in this scenario: ships and corsairs. The Corsairs are in a separate Corsair deck and will be brought in through the Boarding keyword and encounter card effects like Boarding Party. The ships will act as traditional enemies in the encounter deck.
- Scouting Ship: This ship starts into play during setup and will be your first encounter in most games with a ship enemy. The Scouting Ship has the lowest engagement cost of the Corsair fleet at 35 threat, but this gets reduced to 20 if the players are off-course. This means that if the players do not pass their first sailing test, they will likely be engaged by this ship during the first engagement phase. When engaging the players, the Scouting Ship will bring out one Corsair enemy through its Boarding keyword. The Scouting Ship has the lowest stats of all ship enemies in this encounter deck, so it is a nice introduction to the naval combat system introduced in this cycle. The attack strength of 5 will start to hurt your ships if you can’t defend it properly (remember that all ships have Sentinel). Attacking the Scouting Ship back shouldn’t be a big problem, as it is still vulnerable to player card effects, so its 2 defence can be reduced through various means. From there, it is just a matter of dealing 7 damage before sinking the ship. As big as it is, you must put it in the discard pile, and not the victory display, unlike other ships in this scenario.
- Light Cruiser: As light as this cruiser may be, it is a noticeable step up from the Scouting Ship. Not only are you persuaded to engage this ship earlier through its high threat of 4, but it also has a significantly higher defence, making it tougher to bring down. The Light Cruiser has an engagement cost of 37, meaning that in the mid- to late game it will eventually come down during the engagement phase. When doing so, the Light Cruiser will reveal the top 2 enemies from the Corsair deck which both also engage the player. The Light Cruiser will provide both of those Corsair enemies with 1 resource through its effect. This means that some enemies will have higher stats or deal more direct damage. It can also mean nothing at all, as the Umbar Captain and the Southron Sailor do not have any synergy with the number of resources on them. It takes a bit of luck to avoid some nasty Corsairs, but having one extra resource will make most of them harder to deal with. The Light Cruiser itself is also not an easy nut to crack. 5 defence is preventing you from doing much damage with few characters. Using direct damage and a large group attack with Ranged characters can help to overcome the 5 defence. Players can also start damaging the ship in the staging area with cards like Ranger Bow. This makes the ship easier to bring down, though its 6 attack will still hurt your fleet.
- Corsair Warship: There is always a bigger boat, but in this scenario, the biggest ship enemy is the Corsair Warship. Just looking at the stats will make you shiver in fear. 8 attack will tear through most Ship objectives within a few turns, and 9 hitpoints make destroying it with direct damage hard. Luckily the Warship has an engagement cost of 44 and only a threat of 3, so you could just avoid it for most games. But that is where the text on the ship itself comes into play. While the Warship is in the staging area, it cannot be damaged, meaning that the strategy for the Light Cruiser doesn’t apply here. It also gains Archery 4, shooting arrows at your characters from out of the staging area. This damage will start to pile up if you ignore the Warship for long. In higher player counts, the archery damage can be distributed between all players and their ships, but in solo, this can lay waste to many characters. Engaging the Warship is also a tricky thing to do, as it will bring 3 Corsair enemies with it through the Boarding keyword. This means that a player can go from being engaged with no enemies, to being engaged with 4 enemies. While this sounds great to Dunedain decks, not all players are as well equipped for this. The 8 attack on the Warship is probably the biggest threat, as it can destroy most ship objectives within a few rounds. This is where it comes in handy that the ship isn’t immune to player card effects. Players can choose to Feint the attack and prevent the Warship from dealing damage. This also leaves your ship ready (if it didn’t sail or quest) to attack back. You will need all the attack strength you can muster to take down this ship, but once you do, it gets added to the Victory Display for no less than 6 victory points. If you fear this ship, try going into Easy mode, as both copies of this enemy will be removed for that version.
- Southron Sailor: Not all Corsairs are capable marauders, they do still have people hoisting the sails and scrubbing the decks. That would be the role of the Southron Sailor, who’s stats are nothing to worry about. If this enemy gets revealed through the Boarding keyword, it is likely you will want to focus on other enemies first. Still, the 2 attack enemy shouldn’t be ignored, but it is of lesser concern. The effect of the Sailor will mean that you have to count the threat of any engaged ship enemy towards the threat in the staging area. This can be hard to track so I would advise putting a token in the staging area to symbolize the threat added through this enemy. With 1 defence and 4 hitpoints, this Corsair is no trouble and is a great target for being put into play through Boarding Party (perhaps no ships engaged) and Light Cruiser (nothing to do with the resource it gets). Even the engagement cost of 28 is nice for low threat decks that rely on enemies having higher threat than them.
- Cunning Pirate: This enemy will become worse in the late game, but his effect can whiff in the early game. The Cunning Pirate will discard one of your attachments and gain resources equal to that attachment’s cost. This can mean that if you saved up for an expensive attachment and it is the only one you control at the moment, then not only is your attachment gone but now the enemy has big stats as well. In most cases though, you can discard a 0 or 1 cost attachment to this enemy easily, but it still sucks to discard a part of your engine to an enemy. You do get control over what attachment you discard though, so at least that is nice to have. If you have no attachments in play, the enemy will remain to have 2 for both his attack and defence stat. This enemy can become pretty big, which makes him tough to take out. I would recommend using Gandalf in case the defence stat gets too high on this enemy. Hitpoints don’t get boosted through his effect, making direct damage a good counter to the Pirate.
- Umbar Captain: This would be the worst enemy to reveal during this scenario from the Corsair deck. The stats on this enemy make it a very tough Corsair to cut down, and you could potentially reveal 2 copies at the same time. The Captain does not synergize with the resource mechanic of the other Corsairs but has a unique effect that protects the ship on which he came in. While the Captain is engaged with you, your characters cannot attack ship enemies. This does not include characters from other players who can still destroy ships engaged with you through the Ranged keyword, but you can no longer focus on the ships themselves. The Umbar Captain hits for a surprisingly high 5 attack, requiring a decent defender to block the attack. With 5 hitpoints, the Captain is also protected from many direct damage effects, so you will have to come up with a strategy for this enemy. One of the things I tend to do with this enemy is to push him into the staging area. After all, he is a 40 engagement cost enemy, so he won’t come down to engage you during the early game. That gives you time to destroy the ships, after which you can engage the captain again and kill him. Try some Ranger cards like Mablung and Ithilien Archer to put the captain in the staging area. You can then start to deal damage to him through direct damage effects. The 4 threat you added will have to be overcome, but this does allow you to destroy ships engaged with you, freeing up your own ship for next round.
- Vicious Marauder: I am getting some God of War Kratos vibes from this enemy, is it just me? This enemy will have you discard a random card from your hand when he engages you. Then, the Marauder gets resources equal to the cost of the discarded card. These resources are used to determine how much direct damage you will have to distribute to your characters whenever the Marauder makes an attack. Luckily, you can use your ship objective to at least absorb some of the damage in the early stage. A set of 3 attack, defence, and hitpoints make this enemy surprisingly tough to take down, often requiring multiple attackers. The defence is relatively easy, but be careful with the shadow effects potentially killing allies if you are not careful.
The seas of the Belegaer are ever changing, sometimes helping you find your way, and at other times trying to sink your fleet. Some of these locations will also be dragged out through quest card effects, helping you avoid enemies or helping you sail better.
- Starlit Sea: I just love the art on this location, it is a shame we don’t see it more. At just 2 quest points, this location is an easy one for any deck that brought location control cards. It is rare to see 2 quest point locations these days without being immune to player card effects. The 3 threat on this location makes it a decent pick for the location on which you want to unleash Asfaloth. Besides that, the Ocean location is relatively harmless to the players, though the 3 threat can stack over time with other locations to form a location lock. Should the players want to travel to this location, I will advise them to do so while they are on course. If they are not, then the location has a travel effect where each player will have to raise their threat by 3. All in all, this location is pretty harmless and would be a decent card to reveal during your games.
- Calm Waters: To stick to the beneficial location, we have this location with only 1 threat. The 4 quest points make it a bit harder to explore, but you don’t actually want to explore this location in the staging area. That is thanks to the text on the location that goes into effect once the Calm Waters are the active location. While it is the active location, the players must look at 2 additional cards from the encounter deck during a sailing test. This helps a lot in finding more ship’s wheel icons while keeping more characters back for questing or combat. Revealing this location is bittersweet though, as it itself would be the best card to discard during a sailing test. This is because it has not one, but two ship’s wheel icons on it, which means that players may shift their heading on course by 2 steps when this card is discarded. If you have the possibility, try to keep this location on top of the encounter deck before you have a sailing test, that way you know for certain that you will pass the test and can even escape from the rainy symbol with just one character committed to the test.
- Fog Bank: This location can be great if players got stuck unexpectedly with an engaged ship enemy, or if they ventured off course but don’t want to engage Scouting Ships. While the Fog Bank is the active location, the Ship enemies won’t make engagement checks but are still able to be optionally engaged. While engaged, Ship enemies won’t be making any attacks, but they can also not be attacked by the players. This is a good location when you are going into combat with exhausted ships, as you will be able to focus on the engaged Corsair enemies only, ignoring the ships. Travel to this location wisely, as it can solve some problems with enemies in a pinch. The general stats of the location itself are nothing new, at 2 threat you can leave the location in the staging area for a while. The 5 quest points are a lot to chew through, but seeing as how little progress the quest cards need, you can easily clear both the active location and the quest with some dedication and a lot of players.
- Rolling Seas: I’m not someone who gets seasick often, but looking at the art of this location makes my stomach feel uneasy. This location gets added to the staging area during setup, but more copies can be revealed from the encounter deck. At 4 threat, this Ocean can become quite a pain if it stays in the staging area for long. However, travelling has some unwanted consequences. The cost to travel to this location is to shift the heading off-course. Not only does this lower the engagement cost of Scouting Ships, but it can also have implications thanks to locations in the staging area, or from quest card effects. Because of this, having a Thror’s Map on the table will help you a lot in bypassing the cost to travel to this location. You can also start placing progress on the location in the staging area. Having only 3 quest points makes this location pretty vulnerable to cards like Rhovanion Outrider and Northern Tracker. Blanking this location with Thror’s Key can also help in preventing the travel cost, or players could play an attachment on the location and use South Away to travel without paying the cost and reducing the threat of all players.
- Waterspout: What is more frightening than a tornado? A tornado at sea! (potentially sucking up sharks…but that is a different movie). The Waterspout is in general, not a bad location that can easily be avoided. But if you are really bad at handling the ship and cannot steer away from it, it will wreck your fleet. The Waterspout has a forced effect that makes every player deal 4 points of damage to their ship objective when the players travel to the location. This alone makes for a solid case against travelling here. However, the Waterspout will force players to travel to the location when there is no other active location and they are at the worst heading. Only then will the ships be drawn into the maelstrom and can the players no longer avoid the damage. Try to stay on course and travel to other locations. The Waterspout only has 2 points of threat, so it is fine to just leave it in the staging area, maybe slowly being chipped away by a Northern Tracker. Travelling here is only advised when trolling the other players, but not in general cases.
- Rough Waters: This location is actually pretty nasty and forgotten so often that I will stress to you that you should always check if you have one of these locations in the staging area. If it is in the staging area, then the first ship’s wheel symbol found during the sailing test will be cancelled. This can be horrible if you are cutting your sailing tests close, and might leave you just short of making a full come-back to on course if you were at the worst heading. Luckily, the location only does this effect while it is in the staging area. If players were to travel to this location, the effect is ignored. Having only 3 quest points can also mean that players will want to explore this location in the staging area just in time before they sail again. It is important to note that the effects do not stack if there are 2 copies of this location in the staging area at the same time. Only the first icon revealed will be ignored, satisfying both locations.
The weather is unpredictable and can easily throw you off course. On top of that, the Corsairs stand ready to board your ships at any time, dragging out enemies. The treacheries tend to deal damage or try to force you off course, limiting your board state somewhat.
- Thrown Off Course: Since you do not want to go off-course in this scenario, the choice posed by this treachery should be simple: “Don’t pick the “shift your heading off-course” option at all cost”. However, this treachery makes you choose between either shifting your heading off-course by one step or remove all progress from the current quest card (including side-quests if they are the active quest) and raise each player’s threat by 4. Since there is not much threat raising in this scenario, the gain of 4 is not too bad. Ship enemies tend to have a high engagement cost, and the Corsairs don’t matter unless you are playing Hobbits. Removing all progress on the current quest card depends on the quest whether it is bad or not a big deal. All stages 2 can be cleared in one go since they have no more than 6 quest points. In a higher player count game, the progress required can be easily made in one turn. Since you always can raise your threat, the first option of this treachery can still be selected even if there is no progress to remove (this is not the case if you are already at the worst heading before the treachery is revealed). The progress removing option tends to be the best choice, but the situation might favour going off-course instead. Remember that if you do go off-course, you will need to succeed in your next sailing test with one additional ship’s wheel symbol.
- Boarding Party: “There is a party on my boat and you are all invited!” –Calphon, TA 3002. And boy do the Corsairs like parties. Boarding Party is a simple treachery, but if it hits a player at the wrong time, it can lead to a swift defeat. When this treachery is revealed, each player has to reveal the top card of the Corsair deck and put that enemy engaged with them. This will trigger any effects on the Corsair cards so players might be losing resources or losing attachments to the enemies. Since all players must engage an enemy, it will be hard to engage another ship enemy during the same turn, unless the players can handle another enemy. If the Corsair deck is ever empty though (and the Corsair discard pile as well), then the players have enough enemies to deal with and the treachery whiffs. This is rare but can happen during a four-player game if the players have engaged some ships. In that case, the treachery will distribute any remaining Corsairs in the deck or discard pile to the players in turn order, until there are no more enemies. This treachery can be a surprise to the players, but depending on the Corsair each player gets, it is not the worst treachery in the game. Cancelling this treachery can save you from an unexpected round of combat, but it might be safer to keep the cancellation to prevent you from going off-course.
- Sudden Storms: This treachery gives the players a hard choice between two options. When this treachery is revealed, the players must either shift their heading off course or they must deal 1 point of damage to every exhausted character. Since characters are already exhausted from questing and committing to the sailing test, a fair few of them would be damaged by this effect. However, if your characters can survive the point of damage, taking the damage is the better choice. Shifting your heading off course can be dangerous, as both quest cards and encounter cards will become worse. It also means that the next sailing test will have to reveal an additional ship’s wheel icon if the players want to get back on course. If the players are at stage 3 and want to destroy the ship enemies instead of questing through the stage, then the shift in the heading is a good choice. For most other situations, I tend to recommend the damage, though it depends on the situation. Cancellation is always an option. Be aware that if you are at the worst heading, you are not able to shift your heading off-course any further and will have to take the damage.
- Winds of Wrath: Out of all treacheries, this one is probably the weakest of the bunch. Winds of Wrath only does something when the players are off course, so if you don’t fail your sailing tests and don’t get the Thrown Off Course treachery, you shouldn’t be affected by this treachery at all. If the players do happen to be off course, then each character in play gets dealt one point of damage. This does not just target questing characters or exhausted characters, but all characters in play. Getting this treachery often will lay waste to your characters, but even one copy going off can destroy some utility allies with just one hitpoint. The players should be able to cancel this, but if they are at the worst heading, they are not allowed to cancel the When Revealed effect on the treachery. If you would be taking damage, try to redirect or cancel some of it with Honour Guard and Vigilant Guard to save some characters from getting discarded. After that, it would be a good idea to use some healing effects.
Tips and Tricks
- For tips on what boats to pick, see: Ships and Sailing Tests
- Try to swarm the board with allies early in order to have enough characters to both quest and sail. This gets more crucial in lower player counts, as there are fewer players to bring out allies. 0 cost allies like Ioreth are good to include as they can immediately be used to sail with.
- When deciding what player should pick the Dream-chaser, don’t let it be the player who will also be the first player during the first round. Since the Dream-chaser can be committed to Sailing tests at all time, it can help overcome the first test, which often is the hardest due to the lack of characters on the board.
- For the last stage, try to figure out how you want to win. If you are set to destroy the enemy ships, maybe you will want to keep characters ready for combat and don’t send them to the Sailing test.
- Scrying can be very useful in this quest to find out how many characters you exactly have to send to win the sailing test. The Palantir and Scout Ahead can be very useful cards for this.
- To stack the deck in your favour, try to leave as many ship’s wheel icons in the encounter deck. This is important for using cards like The Hidden Way and Dunedain Pathfinder. You will want to take out locations without the ship’s wheel icon to increase the density in the encounter deck. You can also use Mariner’s Compass to switch a location in the staging area with the icon for a location in the top 5 of the encounter deck without a symbol. That way, you increase the density of wheel icons a little.
- Returning locations with the ship’s wheel icon to the top of the encounter deck can ensure you pass the sailing test with minimal characters committed. Only do this if you don’t have to deal shadow cards this round, else your plan falls apart. You can use player cards like A Watchful Peace and Shadow of the Past to return explored locations to the encounter deck.
- Here is an obvious tip: TRY NOT TO FAIL A SAILING TEST! This will put you at a massive disadvantage during the later stages of the scenario and will force you to carefully read each encounter card. Most encounter cards will respond to you being off course, so try to win every sailing test you get. Sometimes you won’t be able to win the test when the deck is stacked against you, but try to get back on course as soon as you can.
- There can be a surprising amount of direct damage in this scenario from quest cards and encounter cards alike. Bring some healing for your characters in order to make sure that they last the round.
- Don’t play a trap deck against this quest, it will not be doing much. The players won’t reveal targetable enemies from the encounter deck, so cards like Ranger Spikes and Poisoned Stakes are useless unless the players can bounce Corsair enemies to the staging area. Traps that can be played on engaged enemies will be sort of useful, but remember that you can’t Forest Snare a Ship enemy.
- 3 players, progression style: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zTMyQsrS5H8
- True solo, progression style: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O4M1BsaUo3I
- 2 handed, progression style: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LWDrW87HXQE
- True solo, updated deck: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LWDrW87HXQE
- 2 players, updated decks: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wrbPRLUbl6s
- 3 players, progression style: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mqiDxEhM58U
So finishes the first scenario of this cycle. It has introduced us to the sailing tests that it will use during the first AP again. It is now time to step off our boats and head through the uncharted jungle of Numenor. Next scenario on the blog will be: The Fate of Numenor, introducing us to double-sided locations.