The Dead Marshes: There and Back Again

‘All dead, all rotten. Elves and Men and Orcs. The Dead Marshes. There was a great battle long ago…”

Welcome to my latest article detailing my solo adventures with LOTR:LCG. This time we’re actually FINDING Gollum amongst the creepy marshland of Southern Rhovanion. Of course, we’re still following the adventures of Frodo and Sam in ‘The Two Towers’ where they crossed the marshes with Gollum’s help. Our quest is made a bit more difficult by trying to prevent the slippery devil from escaping into the gloom.

Favourite Player card: From this adventure pack it has to be Fast Hitch. Although only good at this stage in the game’s life, as more Hobbits are introduced this card gets stronger and stronger. It also can be used as a starting attachment for Lore Hobbits too. I can’t wait to get some Hobbit decks working with this card.

The Encounter deck seems all focused on the Escape tests so doesn’t seem to unduly beat up the solo player. 

I decided to use my usual tri-Sphere ‘campaign’ deck of Aragorn, Beravor and Legolas with starting attachments of Song of Battle on Aragorn and Song of Travel on both the others. The Steward of Gondor re-theme I’m using in this deck I have called Emissary of the Woodland Realm and attaches to a Leadership or Noble Silvan Hero – so in this deck it can attach to Legolas. My starting Threat was 31 with no Havens or Strongholds.

I hardly changed my deck from my last quest but I did swap in 2 copies of Shadows from the Past, because if Gollum escapes into the marshes, it’s a LONG time before you might see him again…

The deck worked well on the first attempt and I was lucky to draw Celebrian’s Stone in my initial hand which meant Aragorn could usually quest alone and leave Beravor to guard Gollum. I also did manage to get a fair few allies out, including Gandalf. By the time I got to final Escape Test there were 5 resource tokens on Gollum and I was really lucky to have only 1 card with an Escape value in the 5 cards drawn.

Your threat can rise very quickly in this quest and on my second attempt a Hill Troll lumbered out of the fog to engage me. Luckily a Feint managed to slow him down for a round before I snagged him with a Forest Snare. Again it was a really close-call with a very lucky final Escape Test with 7 cards from the Encounter deck.

On my third attempt of the quest, I had one poor draw for Escape tests after another. Mixed with some nasty Treachery cards that forced even more Escape tests, Gollum soon vanished into the marshes and I couldn’t find him again before my threat went over 50. This has to be THE most annoying game mechanic in any quest I have seen as it means you have to spend another half an hour trawling the Encounter deck trying to find him. I have to confess that I gave up after 20 minutes…

My last attempt was successful although it almost ended in disaster. I owe everything to a single Secret Paths being able to be played and cancel The Brown Lands that came out at exactly the wrong time and just as I had played Gandalf to help capture Gollum and make sure he didn’t escape the final test on 2B.

Favourite card combo: A very useful card in this quest would be Elfhelm as his ability to reduce Threat gain when he is ready means that if you keep him back to guard Gollum, he can effectively use his Willpower twice.

A Hero’s Story – Boromir: Another member of the Fellowship of the Ring is introduced to the LCG. Boromir is a staunch warrior, able to Defend then Attack in a single phase as long as you pay the Threat cost. In story terms this relates to Sauron becoming more aware of him as his victories in battle grows. His second ability needs no explanation at all, so if you need a hero to die in a glorious act of self-sacrifice to win the quest (or save your hobbits) then Boromir (and Sean Bean) is your man!

Overall, I enjoyed ‘The Dead Marshes’. The quest has some very atmospheric Locations and Treacheries with loads of fog, mist, gloom and tricksy lights. I really like the Escape test mechanic for Gollum even though those resource tokens can mount up quickly. It’s all about speed and questing hard – the more Willpower you have, the quicker you get through it and the less resource tokens get put on Gollum. Spirit decks would make short work of this and the more allies you get out the better chance you have of clearing the staging area and handling the relentless Escape tests.

I’m coming close to the end of this cycle and with Gollum now captured, my road is turning back to Mirkwood…

“The Road Goes Ever On…”

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