Lost in Mirkwood

With the new Wilds of Rhovanion Deluxe box taking a lot of inspiration from the original Core Set scenarios, a reworked version of Passage through Mirkwood was inevitable. The quest is the first one that any new player plays when they dive into this game, and it has a reputation of being the easiest quest in the game. But with the heroes back in Rhovanion, they must once again traverse the expanse of Mirkwood, only this time in the opposite direction. In the many years since the heroes last set foot in the forest, its dangers have grown in size and the forest has become very difficult to navigate. This new scenario is a lot tougher than the quest it is based on, with various winding paths adding to its replayability. While not the most difficult quest in this Deluxe, it will still prove to be a challenge to come out of Mirkwood in one piece.

Lost in Mirkwood

  • Found in: Wilds of Rhovanion Deluxe, scenario 2
  • Official difficulty: 5
  • Community difficulty: 5.6
  • Encounter sets: Lost in Mirkwood, Gathering Gloom, Dark Woods, Jounrey Up the Anduin (only the Haldan objective). [Core Set:] Passage through Mirkwood, Spiders of Mirkwood, Dol Guldur Orcs
  • Quest cards: 7, but only 4 will be seen in each playthrough
  • Play if: You want to relive some of the Core Set cards, You enjoy a highly replayable quest with different quest stages, You want to test out a side-quest deck
  • What’s different about this quest?: The Searching for a Way Out objective will absorb all progress made on the main quest, objective locations dictate the different path you can take through the forest, high replayability with downed heroes/boss-enemies, different encounter sets depending on what path you are forced to take.
  • Solo or multiplayer?: I quite enjoy this quest in any player count, and have beaten it in solo often. The fact that you don’t have to make progress on the main quest if you have enough objectives in play can allow you to focus more on the enemies in play, making for a solid solo experience. Higher player counts will cause a location lock on the players, as the game is designed to spam out locations for you. But playing it with friends can make for a fun experience, so I will recommend 1-3 players. 4 players might cause too many locations to be revealed without dedicated location control players.
  • Can I run side-quests for this scenario?: Yes, I highly recommend that players bring side-quests to this scenario. Since the main quest doesn’t require progress until the very end, you might as well put that progress to good use on side-quests. This is one of the few scenarios where I will recommend Explore Secret Ways, as that can counter some of the location lock that this scenario throws at you. The rest of the side-quests are up to you, but it is really easy to get a lot of side-quest in the victory display in this scenario, so be sure to pack plenty. Thalion and Legacy Blade are also great player cards to include in your deck.
  • What to look out for: location lock, not finding objective locations fast enough, enemy swarm, long quest, plenty of threat raising abilities.

The Quest

Setup

You find Haldan in the Journey Up the Anduin set

The setup of this quest is one that you have to pay attention to, else you might make things more difficult for yourself. Instead of shuffling all of the encounter sets listed above into a single encounter deck, you instead leave the Spiders of Mirkwood and the Dol Guldur Orcs sets aside, out of play. These will come into play during stages 2 and 4, so you will end up using them, just not for the very first stage. This removes a large chunk of the encounter deck, making it easier to get through the first stage of the quest, as it is easier to find the objective locations in the encounter deck. After players have set aside the two sets, and shuffled the remaining encounter sets (Lost in Mirkwood, Passage through Mirkwood, Dark Woods, and Gathering Gloom) in an encounter deck, the players have to look for 2 more objective cards.

The first of these is Haldan, who might be difficult to find, as he needs to come over from the Journey Up the Anduin quest, as there is no copy of his objective version in the other encounter sets. He joins the first player as an ally and will need to be kept alive during the entire quest. He does have his uses though, so he won’t drag the players down too much. The other objective that the players need to find before they begin the game is Searching for a Way out. This objective serves as a rule-sheet that informs the players on how they can advance from stage to stage. It gets added to the staging area and will remain there until the players advance to stage 4.

Finally, before the players advance to side 1B, they must each search the encounter deck for one copy of Forest Spider and add it to the staging area. This means that the first round will likely see some combat, as there will be one enemy per player even before the quest has begun. This somewhat mirrors the setup of Passage through Mirkwood, but scales with the number of players in the game.

Quest card 1: Ambushed at Night

The first stage of the quest is one that players will want to get through quickly. The early game of this scenario is where the encounter deck tries to push your threat up high, and prevents you from lowering your threat through player card effects. In order to make matters worse, whenever an enemy engages you, you have to raise your threat by 1. This means that players with Tactics Aragorn will be raising their threat a lot during this stage, so you might want to slow down with engaging enemies for a little while.

The quest card has no progress required, but the Searching for a Way Out objective location instructs players to discard an equal number of cards from the top of the encounter deck as they made progress on the main quest. The players then return the top most objective location from the encounter discard pile (if any) to the staging area and resolve its Guarded (X) keyword. This only triggers when there are no other objective-locations in play. This prevents the players from finding all four objectives within the first four turns by just making a ton of progress. Note that adding the objective will also cause you to add a guarding location or enemy to the staging area that you have to defeat first. This means that groups of fewer players might end up struggling to keep up with the encounter deck in the early game.

Instead, it is advised to start playing side-quests while you build up a boardstate. Especially in higher player counts, you will end up revealing an objective-location eventually, or send one to the discard pile. You then know that questing against the main quest will result in an objective during the next turn. Clearing side-quests can give you an early edge over the encounter deck, and even if you don’t explore the quests right away, it will be worth going to in later stages of the quest. As long as there are objective-locations in play, the main quest won’t be doing much, so you might as well get a benefit for placing progress beyond the quest points of the active location. A word of warning though, don’t clear Double Back at this stage, as players will be unable to lower their threat through player card effects at this stage. Wait until stage 2 before going here.

In order to advance this stage, the players have to find an objective-location, and clear the guarding enemy or location. This allows them to travel to the objective-location, which will force them to either stage 2A or stage 2C. My preference goes to stage 2C, but players don’t often have a choice. Advancing quickly is worth more than stalling for another objective location that would take you to the other stage 2. In higher player counts, you might get the choice though, if the players have revealed more objectives and have cleared the guarded cards.

Quest card 2A/B: Spiders of Mirkwood

During your ambush, you wandered north towards a den of spiders. You will now have to suffer through more Spider enemies, as the Spiders of Mirkwood encounter set is added to the encounter deck. Give this a good shuffle, before revealing one encounter card per player. This added encounter card will put on the pressure again, since you likely just had a round of staging behind you and will have plenty of enemies and locations to deal with already.

Be sure to avoid these insects or kill them in the staging area

This encounter set adds a couple of nasty surprises to the encounter deck. The biggest enemy that gets added is Ungoliant’s Spawn, which will be a terrible card to reveal during staging thanks to its When Revealed effect. It also doesn’t have any Victory Points, meaning that defeating it will simply put it back into the encounter discard pile that often gets shuffled. The set also adds King Spider, which is also a nasty reveal if you are questing with all the characters you can spare. You now have to exhaust another character that would otherwise have been useful during combat. The spider also has a low engagement cost, meaning it will likely engage the same round that it is revealed in. The Hummerhorns is also a big threat in this scenario, since you will likely be reaching 40 threat through the various Gathering Gloom and Swarm of Bats treacheries. Taking this enemy out in the staging area when it is revealed is of utmost importance. Also be sure to keep shadow cancellation ready for this enemy, as its shadow effect is very brutal. Besides these cards, there are also 2 new sorts of Forest locations, and three copies of a condition attachment thrown into the encounter deck. The encounter deck will also be a lot thicker, making it more difficult to find objective locations.

After the players have each revealed one encounter card per player, they may flip the quest card. Again, there is no printed quest points on the main quest, so if players already have found a second objective-location, they can focus on their side-quests. At this point, Double Back is a great side-quest to go to, as players may now lower their threat again. The textbox of this quest stage isn’t empty though. Since you just added more Spider enemies to the encounter deck, the quest stage will make the first Spider enemy revealed each quest phase surge. This means that you can get swarmed by enemies, and are likely to reveal some more encounter cards in higher player counts. There are only 9 Spider enemies in the total encounter deck at this point, so if you kept a few Forest Spiders engaged from the previous stage, you should be fine. But this surge is easy to forget, so be sure to glance at the quest card every now and then.

The second Spider-themed synergy that this quest card has with the encounter deck is a Forced effect. Whenever a Spider enemy attacks and damages a character, that character cannot ready until the end of the round. This is after the refresh phase, meaning that there is a chance that the character will be left exhausted for the rest of the next round as well. This is pretty brutal if you really need your defenders to stay alive. Ungoliant’s Spawn and the Ravenous Spider both hit pretty hard, and will like cause you to take damage. Have readying effects at your disposal to play during the next round in order to stand these characters back up. It also makes you want to clear the board of Spider enemies as fast as you can. Prioritize these enemies if possible and even cancel their attacks if need be in order to avoid downing a character for the rest of next round.

The players advance this stage in the same way as the first stage. They have to find an objective-location (either through luck during the staging step or through the ability of Searching for a Way Out), clear the card that is guarding the location, and then travel to the location when they can. This means that the travel effect on the location is paid first, before advancing to either stage 3A, or to stage 3C. Based on your situation, you may have a preference for one or the other stage, but unless you have 2 objective locations cleared from guarded cards, you won’t have much of a choice. You can stall at this stage though, if you keep an eye on your threat.

Quest card 2C/D: Dol Guldur Orcs

This quest card uses a lot of the same triggers as stage 2A, except it swaps Spiders for Orcs. When players advance to this stage, they must shuffle the Dol Guldur Orcs encounter set into the encounter deck and shuffle the deck. Each player then reveales one encounter card after which the quest is flipped.

The Dol Guldur Orcs encounter set is slightly bigger than the Spiders of Mirkwood encounter set, meaning that it will be more difficult to find objective-locations once this encounter set is added to the deck. In terms of threats from this encounter deck, there are a few things to worry about. The biggest enemy in this set is Chieftain Ufthak, who will grow in power each time he attacks. However, I prefer getting him over Ungoliant’s Spawn from the other encounter set, as Ufthak will go to the victory display once defeated. He also has 35 engagement cost, which might buy you some time to get enough attackers on the table to take him out. Another card you have to keep in mind is the Necromancer’s Reach. This infamous treachery makes a comeback from the Shadows of Mirkwood cycle and will cause each exhausted character to take damage when this treachery is revealed. There are only 3 copies of this treachery in the encounter deck, but note that the discard pile gets shuffled back often. This means it is likely that you will encounter multiple copies of this treachery before the end of the scenario. Either ready your characters before sending them to the quest, or have healing on standby in case this treachery hits. The encounter set also includes 2 new Orc enemies, and 2 new locations. The Necromancer’s Pass is not a Forest location, so it does not trigger Twilight Hall. You have seen all of these cards before during your playthroughs of the first cycle, so you should know how to counter these encounter cards.

The D-side of this quest card has a lot of the same synergy with Orcs, that stage 2B had with Spiders. Again, the first Orc enemy revealed from the encounter deck during the quest phase each round gains surge. There is a total of 9 Orc enemies in the encounter deck, so you should be encountering some before you advance this stage. The surge is easy to forget, so keep an eye out for every time you reveal an Orc enemy during staging.

The Forced effect on this quest is slightly different than that of the Spider-stage. This time, whenever an Orc enemy attacks and damages a character, the character’s controller must discard a card from their hand. They may choose the card themselves, so you can start to throw away duplicates of uniques. However, there might be cases where you are forced to discard a card you were really hoping to play. Decks that draw enough cards can usually get away with this effect easily, but other decks may struggle to keep a decent handsize if they keep taking damage from these Orc enemies. Note that they must be attacking in order to trigger the Forced ability. The When Revealed effect on Dol Guldur Orcs does not count, so you don’t have to discard a card from your hand in that case.

The players advance this stage in the same way as the first stage. They have to find an objective-location (either through luck during the staging step or through the ability of Searching for a Way Out), clear the card that is guarding the location, and then travel to the location when they can. This means that the travel effect on the location is paid first, before advancing to either stage 3A, or to stage 3C. Based on your situation, you may have a preference for one or the other stage, but unless you have 2 objective locations cleared from guarded cards, you won’t have much of a choice. You can stall at this stage though, if you keep an eye on your threat.

Quest card 3A/B: Carried Away

You are past the halfway point in the quest, but now your decks are really going to be tested. By now, you should have prepared a boardstate strong enough to carry itself even when you are down a hero. That’s because advancing to this stage will force each player to choose a hero and remove all tokens and attachments from that hero. The attachments are discarded, so a deck that tries to run the Forth! The Three Hunters contract will lose out on a bunch of goodies. The selected hero is placed in the staging area. Players then each discard cards from the top of the encounter deck until one enemy is discarded per player. Players then attach those enemies to the heroes in the staging area. These enemies are now guarding the heroes, meaning that they must be defeated in order to regain control of the hero. You can get extremely lucky at this stage if you pull an easy enemy. Any enemy from the Passage through Mirkwood encounter set will be an excellent pull. Other enemies from the Core Set are also relatively easy to overcome, with the exception of Chieftain Ufthak and Ungoliant’s Spawn. This will also add a lot of threat to the staging area, but with a bit of timing, you should be engaging most enemies this turn anyways.

Flipping over to side 3B, you will find that each enemy guarding a hero is immune to non-combat damage. This means that all damage has to be dealt through regular attacks or Ranged attacks, but direct damage does nothing to these enemies. This is to prevent a single Arrows from the Trees taking down all enemies, rescuing all heroes. Instead, the enemies have to be dealt with in the traditional way. The enemies are not immune to other player card effects though, so you can cancel their attacks or lower their stats if you have to.

The rest of this stage is pretty straightforward. The only change is that one hero per player has been captured and needs to be rescued. I will advise capturing your questing hero if you are sure you can take down the enemy in the same round. This puts you in a better position than if you end up losing a combat-focused hero and can’t get him back in time. Once the guarding enemy has been defeated, the player who owns the hero it was guarding get the hero back, but it is exhausted. This did remove all of the attachments and resources from the hero, but also healed the hero. So there is a silver lining at least.

There is no rule that requires the players to rescue all their heroes at this stage, so if you feel like rushing the quest and don’t need the hero anymore, then there is no need to kill the enemy before advancing. I do still recommend retrieving your hero, but if you don’t want to, then there is no need. Note however that the quest stage will straight up discard any captured heroes when the players advance from this stage. So be sure to time you objectives well, before you might lose a third of your resource generation on top of good stats and actions that you might need for stage 4.

By now, you know how you advance from this stage. You find an objective location (either from making progress on the main quest or by revealing an objective during staging). You clear the guarded card, resolve the Travel cost, and then advance to the stage 4 as directed by the location. If you are given the choice, go for stage 4C, as I find that to be the easier way out.

Quest card 3C/D: Truly Lost

Instead of each player losing a hero, this stage will force all players to lose their hand of cards. When this stage is revealed, each player must discard cards from the top of the encounter deck until they discard a non-objective location. They add that location to the staging area. In a 4 player game, this will be troublesome, as you might already be struggling with location control, so 4 extra location won’t help. Players then place all cards from their hand face-down underneath a different location each in the staging area. This means that no location can have cards from more than one player underneath it at the same time. However, players don’t have to place their hand underneath the card they just added from the encounter deck, so you are given a choice to place the cards elsewhere if you want. This helps with regaining your hand in some cases, as you can communicate with your team on where to travel first, and who gets their cards returned to them first. Once all players have lost their hand of cards, they flip the quest card.

This really is the path of location lock, as not only are there more locations in the staging area at this moment, but they also get +1 quest point for each facedown card underneath them. This means that some locations can easily get up to 10 quest points, preventing the players to clear some locations in a single turn. However, the locations aren’t immune to player card effects (only if they are guarding an objective-location or are an objective-location). This means that players can travel to one location, and use player card abilities to clear other locations in the staging area. This will mostly have to be done through hero and ally abilities, or through attachments like Asfaloth, as the players won’t have events in their hand anymore.

This stage slows down the game somewhat as you find yourself without the cards you previously had. This makes recovery vital (depending on what you had in your hand). In true solo, there isn’t much problem in travelling to the location that has your player cards stacked underneath it first. You did get to decide what location you put those cards under, so hopefully you got a weak location that doesn’t require much progress to clear. Remember the +1 to the quest points per player card though, it will make progress pile up a little before you clear the location. If you had an objective-location or a location guarding an objective-location in the staging area at the time you advanced, then those should have been your primary targets, as you will want to travel there anyways during this stage.

Very bad time to draw this treachery

Once you clear a location that has player cards underneath it, all cards are returned to their owner’s hand. There is no requirement for clearing all locations at this stage, but note that if the players advance from this stage too quickly, they will end up losing all cards that were placed underneath a location. Upon progressing to a stage 4, the player cards that are still underneath a location in play are discarded. This is less punishing for some decks, and depending on your hand, you might not even care too much about those cards. This can make stage 3D rather easy to progress through, as all you are missing are more options to play cards. But given enough card draw effects and locations like the Forest Gate that is in the encounter deck, you should be able to restock your hand soon enough.

By now, you know how you advance from this stage. You find an objective location (either from making progress on the main quest or by revealing an objective during staging). You clear the guarded card, resolve the Travel cost, and then advance to the stage 4 as directed by the location. If you are given the choice, go for stage 4C, as I find that to be the easier way out.

Quest card 4A/B: The Forest of Great Fear – 8 quest points

This is the combat-focused ending of the quest, mirroring the Do Not Leave The Path! stage at the end of Passage through Mirkwood. This will have you facing off against a boss-level enemy for the final victory. But before all that, the players have to remove Searching for a Way Out from the game. This objective is no longer needed, as progress is now useful again on the main quest. After this objective is removed, the players look for the enemy with the most hitpoints in the encounter set that hasn’t been used yet. This is the opposite encounter set than the one that was shuffled in during stage 2. If players advanced via stage 2A, they add Chieftain Ufthak to the staging area. If they advanced from stage 2C, they add Ungoliant’s Spawn instead. Ungoliant’s Spawn is the best case scenario here, as Ufthak’s textbox will make him nearly impossible to take down. The added enemy is now nicknamed the “nemesis” and will have to be defeated in order to win the game.

Flipping over to the B-side, the nemesis is given a few extra buffs to make this quite the challenge. A +2 to threat, attack, and defence will help the nemesis kill a lot more characters, and makes it tougher to take down. On top of that, the nemesis is also given immunity to player card effects, so attacks cannot be cancelled and no direct damage can be dealt. The Forced effect at this stage is the real killer for lower player counts. This effect will force the nemesis to return to the staging area at the end of the round, after which it makes an immediate attack against the first player. Since your threat is likely beyond the engagement cost of either enemy, the nemesis will be making 2 attacks each round. Once against the player that engages it, and once against the first player. Ungoliant’s Spawn will be at 7 attack, which is more than enough to take out most allies (except for Gandalf, who is an excellent defender at the end of the round, as you can defend with him before he leaves play). But the real threat comes with Chieftain Ufthak, who gets a resource each time he makes an attack. These resources boost his attack strength by 2 each time. Seeing how he gets 2 resources (at least) per round, and him also getting the +2 attack from the quest stage, he goes past 10 attack really quickly. This makes it so that chumping his attacks is really the only strategy.

With their attacks out of the way, the players will also have to jump through a few hoops in order to actually kill the nemesis. Quest stage 4B has 8 quest points, which means that the players have to make 8 progress as fast as they can. While there is less than 8 progress on this stage, the nemesis cannot take damage. This means that all offense-based characters have to put their attack stats to good use against other enemies, clearing the board so that less defenders are needed during the next round. Only after the eighth progress is placed on the main quest, does the nemesis become able to take damage. Don’t forget the +2 defence at this point though, it will prevent you from putting as much damage on the nemesis as you otherwise would. If the players manage to destroy the nemesis after the eighth point of progress has been placed, they win the scenario and are out of the forest. Their path now leads to Dale, where they have to ask for asylum for their Haradrim friends they left in Lorien.

Quest card 4C/D: Escape from Taur-nu-Fuin -16 quest points

Fighting the nemesis is not the only way out of the Forest though, and I prefer this route over the Forest of Great Fear, as it doesn’t demand a few sacrificed allies to get through. This stage mirrors that of Beorn’s Path at the end of Passage through Mirkwood, where the players have to make a lot of progress to get out. When players arrive at this stage from a previous stage 3, they must remove Searching for a Way Out from the game. The progress on the main quest will now no longer bring in the final objective-location, but will instead be placed on the quest as usual. After this, the players must start to discard cards from the top of the encounter deck until they discard an enemy. This must be done in player order. Starting with the first player, the enemies discarded are put into play engaged with a player, until each player has received one enemy through this effect. This means that even the willpower/questing deck will have some combat to do during this round. After all enemies have been dealt out, the quest card is flipped to side 4D.

This part of the quest is relatively easy, as players will have to quest hard in order to make the 16 points of progress on the main quest. There is no boss-level enemy to overcome at this stage, but instead the players will have to make sure that there are no enemies kept engaged with them. This is because at the end of the round, each player must raise their threat by the number of enemies engaged with them. And higher threat will snowball into more enemies engaging you. But in lower player counts, you might not see an enemy after the one you reveal thanks to arriving at this stage. In that case, killing the enemy and questing all-out will probably get you the victory.

The players will not only need the 16 progress in order to win, but they must also not be engaged with an enemy. This is where cards like Fastred, Terrible to Behold, Mablung, and Ithilien Archer may have their chance to shine. These cards return enemies to the staging area, freeing up the player from having any engaged enemies, and thus meeting the final requirement to beat the scenario. Killing all engaged enemies also sets you up for victory once you quest with everyone in the next round. Your threat will be a bigger concern, as it is late in the game and you will be increasing your threat a lot over the course of this game. But keep everything in balance and you should be able to get out of the forest alive.

The Encounter Deck

Global [not counting Spider or Orc encounter sets]

  • The initial encounter deck consists out of 36 encounter cards, this gets slimmed down to 28 in Easy mode.
  • Chances of getting a shadow cards are quite low, with 42% in Normal mode, and 39% in Easy mode.
  • Average threat per card revealed is 1.5 in Normal mode and 1.3 in Easy mode. This can range from 0 to 4 threat per card.
  • 6 cards have the potential to surge in this early encounter deck, but only if certain criteria aren’t met.
  • Doomed 1 is the only Doomed in this encounter deck, but the Gathering Gloom encounter set will make sure that you will raise your threat more than just through the Doomed keyword.
  • Immunity
    • Each objective-location, and each card guarding the objective-location is immune to player card effects during stage 1, 2, and 3.
    • Players cannot travel to Twilight Hall unless there is at least 1 resource on it.
    • While Accursed Forest is in the staging area, ‘when revealed’ effects cannot be cancelled
    • While Dark Black Woods is in the staging area, players can only place 1 progress on Forest locations in the staging area each round.

As you can see with the distribution of the encounter cards, there are slightly more locations in this encounter deck than there are other sorts of encounter cards. This means that in higher player counts, you will have a high chance of revealing more locations per round than you can clear. This in turn leads to location lock if you are not careful. Of course, this sample of the encounter is only valid for stage 1, while the Spiders of Mirkwood and Dol Guldur Orcs encounter sets are not yet included. Based on your progression, the encounter deck will continue to fill up with other encounter cards, changing the composition of the encounter deck too much for me to analyse right now. But these base statistics should help you out with the first stage and provide a base for the other stages.

Objectives

  • Searching for a Way Out: I have covered this objective in the quest analysis, so I won’t be repeating myself a lot in this segment. This objective will count as an additional rulesheet that helps the players to advance to the next stage in this quest. The objective also provides the objective locations and the guards guarding them immunity to player card effects. This means that the players can’t rely on tricks to kill the guarding enemies or clear the guardin locations. The biggest thing that this objective does, is that it gives the players the chance to find new objective-locations if there are none in play. If that is the case, then the Forced effect on this objective will allow players to discard cards from the top of the encounter deck equal to the progress they would have made on the main quest. This is not triggered when placing progress on side-quests. After the players have discarded cards for this effect, they return the top-most objective-location in the discard pile to the staging area, if there is any. This triggers that location’s Guarded keyword. If there was no location in the discard pile after the players discarded cards, then nothing happens. The players did thin the encounter deck some more, and potentially got rid of some nasty encounter cards. Upon advancing to either stage 4A or 4C, Searching for a Way Out is removed from the game. This means that encounter cards guarding objective locations, and the objective locations themselves, are no longer immune to player card effects. At that time, there should be only one location left, but it doesn’t pose much of a threat at that point.
  • Objective-locations: These four objective-locations have a lot in common, and will be the key to advancing the quest. They are all shuffled into the encounter deck, and can be found through either revealing them during the staging step, or through discarding cards from the encounter deck and then adding the top-most objective-location to the staging area (Searching for a Way Out). In either case, the objective-location will enter play with the Guarded X keyword, which will need to be resolved first. 2 of the locations will be guarded by enemies, the other two by locations. Clearing these guarding cards will allow you to travel to these objective locations, which requires that you pay the Travel cost of the selected location. These Travel costs are unique, but will always require that you shuffle the encounter discard pile into the encounter deck. Upon travelling to the selected objective-location, you immediately advance to either the next stage A or the next stage C. This is again different between each location, and will have serious consequences for the rest of your game. I mentioned in the quest overview my ideal path, but it will depend on chance whether you go to a stage A or a stage C. Since there are 4 locations, of which 2 direct you to stage A, and 2 to stage C, it is impossible to beat this quest without ever going to a stage C or without ever going to a stage A. If the first two locations you travelled to, sent you to C, then stage 3 will send you to stage 4A. Note that the objective-locations are immune to player card effects, as are their guarding cards. This means that there is no tricks to these locations, and no way to get around their travel cost.
    • Overgrown Path: This location will be guarded by another location. Upon clearing that location, you may travel to the Overgrown Path if you shuffle the encounter discard pile in the encounter deck. Each player then discards one card from the top of the encounter deck and assigns X damage to characters they control, where X is the value of the discarded card’s threat. This can be as much as 4 damage per player, but this does remove some horrible cards from the encounter deck if that is the case. Upon travelling to Overgrown Path, the players advance to the next stage A.
    • Bare Hilltop: Like Overgrown Path, this location sends you to the next stage A if possible, but is instead guarded by an enemy. You will have to defeat that enemy in order to clear this location of encounter cards, after which you are able to travel to this location. In order to travel here, players will have to shuffle the encounter discard pile into the encounter deck and each discard a card from the top of the encounter deck. All locations that got discarded instead get added to the staging area. This is a very bad objective to get at the wrong time, as you can reveal a ton of locations this way. While you won’t go to stage 3C through this objective, it can set you up for a very nasty combo later on with a ton of locations in the staging area. There isn’t much you can do to get around this location’s travel cost though.
    • Abandoned Village: The first of the two locations that sends you to the next stage C, the Abandoned Village is guarded by a location again. Explore the guarding location before you travel to this location. The travel cost for this one is a lot like the Bare Hilltop, but will instead add each discarded enemy to the staging area. While in my eyes not as bad as 4 locations, 4 enemies can still put some pressure on your decks, especically when advancing to stage 4C through this effect. Be sure to clear the board of enemies before travelling here, if able.
    • Forest Clearing: This final objective-location will also send the players to the next stage C, but is guarded by an enemy. After the defeat of that enemy, the players may travel here if they shuffle the encounter discard pile into the encounter deck. They then each discard the top card of the encounter deck and must raise their threat by the threat of the discarded card. If you are lucky, you discard treacheries through this effect, that won’t raise your threat at all.
  • Haldan: There has been a small mistake with the design of this quest, where the encounter sets printed on the quest cards do not include any version of Haldan. Yet the players are instructed during setup to give control of Haldan to the first player. Use the Haldan ally from Journey Up the Anduin (on the opposite side of Woodmen Village) for this quest. He will be a great ally to bring with you on this quest, as he has decent stats for both questing and attacking. Even better, Haldan isn’t immune to player card effects, so you can give him attachments if you want. While there is an active location, Haldan won’t exhaust to quest, meaning that you get to use both his 2 willpower and his 3 attack. Don’t forget about this ally, as he will help you to kill more enemies and make slightly more progress on the quest in the early game. Whatever you do, keep Haldan alive. As without him, the players immediately lose the game. Keep him safe from direct damage effects, and be sure to avoid defending with him. There are some nasty shadow cards in this scenario that might cost you the game.

Enemies

Depending on the path you take at stage 2, you will be shuffling in more Spiders or more Orcs. Since you have already encountered all of those enemies in the past, I won’t mention them again in this section. Please read up on them in scenario analyses of the first cycle. They aren’t too difficult to deal with, unlike some of the newer enemies.

  • Mirkwood Patrol: Aside from the nemesis enemies in the two added encounter set, this will be the worst enemy you can face in this scenario. The statline of the Mirkwood Patrol is nothing to sneeze at, with 4 threat, 5 attack, 3 defence, and 6 hitpoints. An engagement cost of 40 will mean that players won’t need to engage this enemy immediately, but the 4 threat and the Forced ability on the Mirkwood Patrol will be insentive enough to engage this enemy early and try to kill it. This Forced ability will check at the end of the encounter phase whether or not the Mirkwood Patrol is in the staging area together with an unguarded objective-location. Not only will this mean that you have to kill the Mirkwood Patrol to gain control of the location again, but it also provides the Mirkwood Patrol with immunity to player card effects, thanks to Searching for a Way out. You will want to avoid this from happening, as that makes the fight against this enemy much more difficult. If you wait with engaging this enemy until after you clear multiple guarded cards from the locations in the staging area, this enemy can stack multiple objective-locations underneath it. This makes it very important to clear the enemy, as you won’t be able to move on to stage 4 if the Patrol is guarding 2 objectives. Once you eventually engage the Patrol, it will be hitting for 5, which is enough to deal significant damage to heroes if you are not prepared for the attack. This enemy is worth cancelling attacks from, as it will save you a lot of damage and some potentially deadly shadow effects. After the attack, it will be quite a challenge to take down the Patrol, as 3 defence and 6 hitpoints make it quite a tough obstacle to overcome. Lowering the defence value or dealing extra direct damage to the enemy will make it easier, though you will need the Patrol to not be guarding an objective-location. Upon defeating the Patrol, it simply goes into the encounter discard pile. If you are trying to get enemies in the victory display, then this is a prime target.
  • Ravenous Spider: After Ungoliant’s Spawn, this is the worst spider out there. While this enemy is not as bad as the Mirkwood Patrol, it will engage players a lot sooner, and will be making multiple attacks. Not only does the Ravenous Spider’s shadow effect allow other enemies to make additional attacks, but the Spider itself also makes an attack when it engages a player. This means that you have to tank 2 attacks of a strength of 4 each. A nice counter to this is defending the first attack with Grimbeorn the Old, and then using his ability to kill the Spider before its attack in the combat phase. This will need some additional buffs on Grimbeorn’s part, but can take care of this enemy without much issue. Otherwise, this enemy will be making 2 attacks against the engaged player. If you plan for this, it shouldn’t be a big problem, though you can be in trouble if you are also forced to engage other smaller enemies in the same round. After both attacks, you are able to attack the Ravenous Spider, and will need a combined attack of 8 to take it out. Lowering the defense value of the Spider will be worthwhile, as it allows you to chip away at the 5 hitpoints more easily. Taking out the Spider will simply put it in the encounter discard pile, unless players want to use a None Return to get it in the victory display. I will recommend using such events for Ungoliant’s Spawn instead if players have gone through stage 2B, otherwise, the Ravenous Spider is a good target for it.
  • Forest Spider: There is no enemy as classic as the Forest Spider, which was likely the first ever enemy you faced in the game. A relatively balanced statline means that it will take some effort to take down, as opposed to other enemies that make a return in this quest. The engagement cost of 25 means that it will be engaging many players from the start of the game, and considering that each player has to place one of these Spiders in the staging area at the start of the game, it won’t be long until you have to face them. When the Forest Spider engages a player, it gains +1 attack until the end of the round as a sort of ‘surprise attack’ bonus. This still puts it at 3 attack, which can be easily defended by many heroes and even some allies without taking damage. Taking down the spider is something that takes a bit more effort though, as the 4 hitpoints are quite beefy for a Core Set enemy. Still, it shouldn’t be too difficult for a dedicated attacker. You can also choose to keep the Forest Spider engaged with you, so that you can get bonuses if you have a Ranger/Trap/Dunedain style deck. This enemy is relatively harmless at 2 attack in rounds after the one you engaged it in. Do be careful if you advance to stage 2B, as spider enemies will get a ‘venom-style’ boost if they deal damage.
  • East Bight Patrol: It is rare to see an enemy with a single digit engagement cost, but the East Bight Patrol only has an engagement cost of 5, meaning that it can ruin the day of Secrecy and/or Hobbit decks if they are unprepared for something with a lower engagement cost than their threat. The East Bight Patrol is another enemies from the Passage through Mirkwood encounter set, and has a surprisingly high threat of 3. This threat won’t stay in the staging area for very long, as the engagement cost of 5 is very difficult to avoid without using tricks like Rohirrim Scout or Advance Warning. When engaged, the East Bight Patrol attacks for 3 as well, which can be a bit much for decks in the early game, but compared to the other enemies in this encounter deck, you should be able to easily defend it with your characters. The textbox of this enemy is empty, which helps you a lot, as there are no triggers that you have to remember (unless you are at stage 2D, in which case this enemy can surge if it is the first Orc revealed during the staging step). Killing the East Bight Patrol is really easy, as it only has 2 hitpoints and 1 point of defence. Direct damage will easily take care of this enemy, but even some weaker allies can take care of this one. Haldan can also one-shot the East Bight Patrol.
  • Black Forest Bats: Out of all the enemies that you can possibly reveal, this is the weakest of them all. The Black Forest Bats are a Creature enemy, meaning that they won’t trigger a surge on either stage 2B or 2D, and only have 1 threat. They do have a When Revealed effect, that is worth looking at. However, compared to more recent encounter cards, this effect is quite a joke. Upon revealing this enemy, each player must choose a questing character and remove it from the quest without readying that character. This can hurt in the early game, but in the late game, each player can usually select an ally with 1 willpower to satisfy this effect. With an engagement cost of 15, this enemy will be engaging players in the same round it is revealed. But with 1 attack and 0 defence, it is very easy to get rid of. Direct damage can be quite helpful here, allowing you to focus attack strength on other enemies. The attack itself can be taken undefended with relative safety, as many shadow effects either target a defender, or only trigger if the attack destroys a character. With only 1 copy of this enemy in the encounter deck, you don’t have to worry about it too much. Dunedain players will want to keep this enemy alive and engaged with them, as it is a very easy enemy to continuously defend against.

Locations

We’re back in Mirkwood, and that means: Forest locations. Silvans will be happy with this, as their Cloak of Lorien and Woodland Courier will be more effective in this scenario. There are more locations in the encounter deck once the players reach stage 2, but I won’t be covering those locations again. Most of them are very similar and shouldn’t pose a large threat to your progression.

  • Twilight Hall: Our first location on this list is one that you have to keep an eye on, as it can grow out of hand very quickly in this quest. The Twilight Hall starts at 2 threat, with 6 quest points making it quite a challenge to clear in the staging area. However, the Hall doesn’t stay at 2 threat forever. Whenever a Forest location is explored, Twilight Hall gains a resource. This resource boosts the threat of the hall by 2, which will stack with the number of resources. That means that this location can swiftly get up to 6+ threat if you are busy clearing Forest locations. Most of the locations in the encounter deck will have this trait (with the exception of Necromancer’s Pass), so you will be placing a lot of resources on this location during your game. The Forest locations that are explored through player card effects in the staging area will also place resources on the Twilight Hall. All of this makes it so that travelling to Twilight Hall will have quite a high priority, as it can prevent the Hall from adding more threat to the staging area. Travelling does come at a cost though. There is a travel cost on the Hall that will require players to raise their threat by the number of resources on Twilight Hall. If there are no resources on it, the players are unable to travel here. The best time to travel here without having to use tricks like Strider’s Path will be once the Hall has obtained 1 resource. This will cause the players to raise their threat by 1, but does remove 4 threat from the staging area. Another good strategy for this location is Thror’s Key, which blanks the textbox of Twilight Hall. It now no longer gets resources or buffs because of its resources. Try to get this location out of the staging area as quickly as possible, else it might grow in threat quicker than you can handle.
  • Accursed Forest: At 4 threat, this card will be one of the more dangerous ones to reveal for effects like the objective-location’s Travel cost, and treacheries like Unseen Danger. But even if it is revealed during regular staging, the Accursed Forest will be dangerous, as it prevents the players from cancelling When Revealed effects. This not only blocks A Test of Will, but also cards like Dunedain Lookout, which cancels the When Revealed effects on enemies. This passive ability is only valid while the Accursed Forest is in the staging area, and combined with its high threat, makes it a high priority target to travel to during the Travel phase. However, this location does require you to reveal a new encounter card if you do decide to travel to it. You can either ignore the travel cost with cards like South Away and Ghan-buri-Ghan, or you can scry the top of the encounter deck to see if you want to reveal that next encounter card. Remember that not all encounter cards in this deck are terrible to reveal, especially outside of the quest phase. Some treacheries like Vastness of Mirkwood and Driven By Shadow will just whiff. You can also attempt to clear this location in the staging area, as it only needs 4 progress to clear. A dedicated location control deck can handle this within a turn or 2. This is also a somewhat good target for Thror’s Key, although you will still want to travel here to get rid of the 4 threat on the location. Thror’s Key will remove the travel cost as well, which can help you a lot.
  • Dark Black Woods: The final new location in this quest is the Dark Black Woods, which attempt to counter the location control player. While it is in the staging area, no more than 1 progress can be placed on each Forest location in the staging area each round. This blocks progress on most locations, except for Necromancer’s Pass, which isn’t a Forest location. But it does slow down your efforts of clearing locations in the staging area by only allowing one Northern Tracker to do its job each round. You can take this time to gather some resources to make a push once this location is gone, but if nobody on your team is running any form of location control, then the Dark Black Woods doesn’t hurt as much. It does still add 3 threat to the staging area, which can start to stack up if there are several other locations in the staging area as well. All of this combined makes the Dark Black Woods a decent target to travel to, but with lower priority than the Twilight Hall or the Accursed Forest. In order to travel to the Dark Black Woods, each player must discard the top card of the encounter deck. If an enemy is revealed this way, it gets added to the staging area. In theory, this can put into play up to 4 enemies, but in reality, it is more likely to add 1 or 2, depending a little on your situation. Proper scrying during the travel phase can tell you what enemies you would end up adding to the staging area, allowing you to make a better decision. In lower player counts, this travel cost has a much higher chance of discarding only treacheries or locations, adding nothing new to the staging area. So unless a player is actively trying to clear locations in the staging area, maybe wait until the right time to travel here.
  • Forest Gate: This is one of two locations from the original Passage through Mirkwood encounter set that made its way into this quest. Because it is not a very recent encounter card, it actually has some beneficial effects. Whenever the players decide to travel to the Forest Gate, the first player may draw 2 cards. There is no handsize punishing or anything in this quest, so drawing 2 more cards will always help out, especially if the players have just advanced to stage 3C. This gives the first player some options to play if they just lost their entire hand. The Forest Gate is also just a nice card to reveal, since there is no real threat to the location sitting in the staging area until you travel to it. Sure, the location has 2 threat, but compared to other locations in this encounter set, that is easy to quest over. The only somewhat threatening part of this location is its Forest trait, since that adds resources to Twilight Hall when the location is explored. Note that the response only triggers when the players actively travel to the location, not when it becomes the active location. This means that you cannot draw cards by having this location become the active location through cards like West Road Traveller or The Hidden Way. This is however a great location to swap out of the active location slot if able, so that you can draw multiple cards through this location. Thror’s Map and West Road Traveller can make other locations the active one, bypassing their Travel cost, and saving the Forest Gate for next Travel phase to get some more cards out of.
  • Old Forest Road: For many, this was the very first location we have ever seen, as it started in the staging area during Passage through Mirkwood. This is the best card to reveal during the staging step, as the location is just 1 threat, and has a beneficial effect when players travel to the Road. The first player may select one character to ready when the players travel to this location. This can be a hero across the table so that an ability can be used, or so that a player has another character to use in combat. Allies can also be targetted for this effect, if those are a better target for your situation. Allies like Gandalf are great to wuest with, but if you can ready them for combat as well, you’ll get a lot more use out of them. There is really no downside to travelling to the Old Forest Road, other than the fact that other locations might have a higher priority to get out of the staging area. But in the early game, or if the players have a good grip on locations, this is a great place to travel to.

Treacheries

I will only cover the new treacheries that were included for this scenario. The Dol Guldur Orcs and Spider of Mirkwood sets will include older treacheries, but there is a 50/50 chance of getting them. Note that some of these older treacheries will still be nasty enough to cancel, especially The Necromancer’s Reach. But you have faced all of these treacheries before in the first cycle, so you should remember their strategies. Note that cancelling these treacheries will be impossible while Accursed Forest is in the staging area.

  • Unseen Danger: The first treachery on this list can be a game-ending one if you happen to hit this treachery early in the game. When it is revealed, each player must select one character that was committed to the quest and remove that character. Then, each player discards the top card of the encounter deck and compares the threat of that encounter card with the willpower of the removed character. If the encounter card’s threat is higher than the removed character’s willpower, the character is discarded. If you hit this in the early game, you will need to remove a hero, at which point you run the risk of losing that hero. With the highest printed threat of cards in the encounter deck being a 4, only heroes like Eowyn and Cirdan are safe. However, picking them for this effect will remove a lot of willpower from the quest, stalling your progress this turn. Scrying will be your safest bet, so that you know what the next few cards will be. You can then safely remove a character from the quest. Note that there are plenty of low threat or even 0 threat encounter cards in the encounter deck, including the objective-locations and all treacheries. This means that you don’t always have to discard characters, but it is still a risk. Since each player will have to run this gauntlet, it will be better to cancel this if not all players have quested with an ally they are willing to lose if need be.
  • Vastness of Mirkwood: In order to make the location lock of this quest hurt even more, this next treachery will boost the threat of locations in the staging area. It is a lot like Driven By Shadow, where it boosts the threat of encounter cards in the staging area. Vastness of Mirkwood gives each non-objective location in the staging area +1 threat. This means that if you have unguarded objective-locations, they will not be adding threat because of this treachery, but all other locations will have their threat boosted. In order to counter a location control deck, the treachery also boosts locations that already have at least 1 point of progress on it. Those locations gain +2 threat instead, just to make it feel like the forest is endless. This counters cards like Northern Tracker pretty hard, and forces the players to instead focus on a strategy of targetting one location at a time with progress, clearing it in one fell swoop. After all locations have gained their threat increase, the treachery then checks if there are less non-objective locations in play than the number of players. If this is the case, the treachery won’t have done enough and it will surge on top of its effect. Getting multiple copies of this in one round can be brutal and really halt all progress from clearing the active location. However, this treachery won’t surge if there is an equal or greater number of locations in the staging area than the number of players, meaning that in solo, this treachery will be very mild if you only have 1 location in the staging area. In higher player counts, this will be worth a cancel if you cannot make progress anymore if the threat of all locations goes up.
  • Gathering Gloom: This entire encounter set is made up of treacheries and is focused on raising the threat of all players. This first treachery will start by raising each player’s threat through the Doomed keyword by 1. Then, each player has to decide to either raise their threat further by 1 for each ally they control, or reveal an encounter card instead. In the early game, this increase in threat won’t be very significant, as players will only be starting to get their allies out. But in the late game, I will suggest to go for the additional encounter card instead. There are many other punishing effects that raise your threat without giving an escape option like this, and especially at stage 4D, you will want to keep a low threat. Players with few allies can still decide to raise their threat, and the wording even allows players to raise their threat by 0 if they control no allies. This means that a Forth, the Three Hunters! deck will have an easy time with this treachery. But the decision on what option to take depends on your situation. Note that each player will have to make this choice, so you could end up revealing a lot more encounter cards with this treachery than you needed to otherwise.
  • Swarm of Bats: The final new treachery of this scenario is the one that has cost me many games near the very end of the scenario. You tend to save up resources by the end of this scenario, as you might have lost your hand at stage 3D or have simply spent all you could, saving resources for more expensive cards or for the right time. That’s when you will hit this treachery. Never when you only have 1 resource left, no. When the encounter deck sees that you have gathered a ton of resources, it will unleash one of the three copies of Swarm of Bats. When this treachery is revealed, all players must discard all of their resources. This really hurts, as players might have been saving up for more expensive cards for the next round. Now, all those resources are lost. To make matters worse, players have to raise their threat by the number of resources they just discarded. There is no way around this (besides cancelling the treachery if able), meaning that you will face a ton of threat. At the end of the scenario, this can push you over 50 threat, causing you to lose the game so close to the finish. It also hurts the players long after the treachery has been discarded, as those lost resources will make for an underwhelming next planning phase. To counter this treachery, be sure to have resource-sinks in your deck. These allow you to discard resources before the treachery would be revealed, so that you can get a benefit out of them. Song of Hope is a favourite of mine, but you can also spend your resources on readying effects before staging. Also safe your optional resource generation cards until you actually need the money. If you don’t use all resources from Steward of Gondor that round, then save it until the end of the combat phase, so that you will have double the resources for next round, if you can spend them. It is always worth cancelling this treachery, as you will lose the resource you spend on the cancellation anyways. If there are ever no resources discarded by this treachery, it will surge. This makes it ideal to reveal back-to-back, so that you have thinned the encounter deck of this treachery for a while.

Tips and Tricks

  • If you are looking for the Haldan objective ally but can’t find him, that’s because there is none in the encounter sets listed on the quest card. Use the Haldan objective from Journey Up the Anduin (other side of Woodmen Village).
  • Bring side-quests for this scenario. Especially in higher player counts, you will end up revealing enough objectives early on to not have to make progress on Searching for a Way Out. This will set you up nicely for the late game. There is plenty of time to clear many side-quests, so bring whatever you like.
  • If you find that it takes too long for you to find those objective locations, try Easy mode. This thins the encounter deck so that you will have an easier time finding the objectives that you need to advance.
  • Contracts are tricky with this quest. Carried Away will take down a Grey Wanderer deck, but also a Forth! The Three Hunters deck. The Burglar’s Turn stands a better chance though, with you travelling to plenty of locations in this quest.
  • At stage 3D, the player cards underneath the locations are not actually counted as attachments. This means that the Woodmen archetype does not gain any bonusses from having player cards underneath locations.
  • Rossiel will have a great time questing in this scenario. Nearly all locations have the Forest trait, and with the objective-locations putting themselves in the victory display, you will quickly get the +2 willpower on her. Defence is slightly more difficult, as enemies can have various traits in this scenario.
  • Be careful with hoarding resources. Swarm of Bats will cause you to lose it all and raise your threat in the process. Careful planning on when you need resource acceleration will be needed. Sometimes it is better not to trigger Steward of Gondor too early if you have nothing to spend resources on. Go into the quest phase with as few resources as possible.
  • With many locations being nicer to the players than others, cards like Mariner’s Compass will be quite useful to swap locations from the staging area with some more beneficial ones in the encounter deck. This also removes resources from Twilight Hall, freeing up a lot of threat in the staging area.

Playthroughs

There are a fair number of playthroughs for you to enjoy while preparing for this quest. Be sure to watch several videos, as not all of them walk the same path through the various quest stages of the game.

Moving in order, I will hopefully have the conclusion of the Deluxe box out soon with the King’s Quest scenario. That one is significantly harder, but luckily doesn’t borrow any mechanics from the third scenario of the Core Set. But you do still have to face a dragon, so don’t think that it will be an easy walk through the mines!

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