The Hills of Emyn Muil: There and Back Again

“The hills of Emyn Muil, upon either side of Nen Hithoel, was a vast, seemingly impenetrable maze of rocky crags between the east part of Rohan and the Dead Marshes”

Welcome to another article that details my ongoing adventures through the LCG from a ‘thematic, solo and semi-progressive’ viewpoint. This quest returns us to the theme of the Mirkwood cycle that is trying to track Gollum and also reflects Frodo and Sam’s journey through the endless hills and wastes at the start of ‘The Two Towers’. ‘The Hills of Emyn Muil’ is well-known as a ‘location monster’ so I’m going to need some way of getting rid of some of them clogging up the staging area – best I give Northern Tracker another call…

The Encounter deck contains no real howlers so I won’t tweak anything for my solo adventure. 

Favourite Player card: From this adventure pack it has to be Ride to Ruin as I have played Rohan decks a few times and I always enjoy them. This card is terrific in getting as much use as you can from cheap Rohan allies and they can just storm across quests.

I kept my tri-sphere deck with my usual ‘campaign’ heroes of Aragorn, Legolas and Beravor. For starting attachments, I put Song of Travel on both Legolas and Beravor (to get those Spirit resources), plus Song of Battle for Aragorn. My starting threat was 31 and I didn’t use a Haven.

It’s a fairly boring quest, but very thematic though and it really does seem like you’re trudging through the hills and endless wastes of Emyn Muil. The new Treachery cards such as Rockslide and Impassable Chasm are a nice touch, but not a lot actually happens! I did like the lovely art of the new Location cards however. The first time out, my team beat the quest fairly easily with some fine Eagle support.

The quest actually did beat me the second time with all those Locations forcing my Threat up and up. It’s rare that I ever get to 50 Threat and lose the game – if I lose, it’s usually because I get killed. The key card, of course, is Northern Tracker. In fact, unless you were playing a full-on Spirit deck, I think it comes down to if you get Northern Tracker on the table, you win. And if you don’t, you have a much bigger chance of losing!

For my third attempt I added Dol Guldur as a Stronghold to increase the difficulty and again have Chieftain Uftak making an appearance. The way the Stronghold works with this quest – with only a single quest card – means that we have a boss Enemy fight at the start however and is tough to overcome. This is a fairly easy quest though so I still won, but it was nice to add a battle in a quest that is remarkably light in combat.  

For a bit of variety, I then returned to my Rohan deck from ‘Passage through Mirkwood’ and those horses just romped through the hills like crazy – Rohan characters even get a bonus on The East Wall of Rohan location! The Rohan archetype with its high Willpower is very powerful on this type of quest and it was developed very early in the life cycle of the game so can be used to here to great effect.

Favourite card combo: I couldn’t find any particular combos that work well in this quest so I will just mention my continual use of the various Songs as my starting attachments. There aren’t many Attachment cards that can be used as Starting Attachments (Blade of Gondolin being a noticeable exception) as most are unique or cost 2 or more resources, but the Songs fill this niche admirably and the effect of being able to include cards from multiple spheres (as long as they are reasonably cheap) is a great way to allow decks to be really thematic as well as include staple cards (like Unexpected Courage) in decks with Heroes that could not normally access them. In solo play, where you don’t have a partner to supply benefits such as card draw or resource increase, it does make the game feel a lot less restricted.

A Hero’s Story – Brand, Son of Bain: A character who we hear about in the books but never see. Brand is a tough hero with an ability I have modified for solo play, although the reasoning behind it remains the same. When Brand wounds an Enemy through a ranged attack, this rallies his followers so their morale increases and thus you can ready another character. Very handy as Ranged attacks resolve first so you can wound an Enemy and then ready a character to Defend the attack.

Overall, I did like the quest and felt it was an interesting change of pace, although I wouldn’t want to play it over and over. As for my hunt for Gollum, the ground ahead looks a little marshy and there’s a nasty smell too…

“The Road Goes Ever On…”

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