Every cycle thus far seems to have a quest that almost takes a step back from the traditional adversaries and enemies and has you face the diverse dangers presented by the very nature and native wildlife of Middle-Earth. In the Shadows of Mirkwood cycle we have The Hills of Emyn Muil; the Dwarrowdelf cycle offers us The Watcher in the Water and Foundations of Stone; and Against the Shadow brings The Druadan Forest. Into Fangorn and The Nin-In-Eilph comes in the following chapter, as does The Weather Hills and Wastes of Eriador in the one after. The Dreamchaser cycle gave us The Drowned Ruins, and now we have had The Desert Crossing only to come now to The Mumakil. For the first time our heroes are plunged into the tropics, and now we shall see foes the like of which have not been yet seen on our gaming tables. While not known for its difficulty, there are still challenges aplenty to be overcome. The local residents here are unused to uninvited guests and will exact their toll. Welcome to the Jungle, watch it bring you to your knees.
- Found in: The Mumakil Adventure Pack
- Official Difficulty: 4
- Community Difficulty: 4.8
- Encounter Sets: The Mumakil, Jungle Forest
- Quest Cards: 2
- Play if: You are tired of fighting Orcs and Haradrim, and want a change of pace. The idea of seeing the most visually and thematically colourful enemies and locations in the game appeal to you. You have wondered how Tolkien’s heroes might fare coming up against the denizens of the jungle.
- What is different about this quest?: Victory is achieved by capturing yourself a Mumak or two, dependant on various objective cards that each need their own criteria to be fulfilled. This quest will never end the same way twice, more so than normal, so expect variety in your experience every single time.
- Solo or Multiplayer?: Either, though the number of Mumakil you need to tame increases with the number of players in the game. This does mean your decks don’t have to be as generalised and can specialise in accordance with which Capture Objective you would like to gun for.
- Can I bring Side-quests?: It would certainly be no bad thing if you did. Completing each quest stage is more dependent on fulfilling specific criteria rather that accruing the necessary quest points, so in all likelihood there will be a turn or two where you have time to at least attempt a side-quest.
- What to look out for?: Deceptively tricky enemies; one or two vicious treacheries; an unpredictable win condition.
This is relatively straight-forward; simply take out every copy of Wild Mumak and every Capture Objective from the encounter deck before each and every player adds 1 different location to the staging area. Now of course it’s never that simple, because now we have to decide on which location to go for. And this all depends on how many players there are and what your decks are set to handle. In a solo game you may wish to avoid picking Mumak Trail because it will do nothing for you once explored until you can get a Wild Mumak into the encounter deck, and the only way to do so is to explore the active location. On the other hand, you might want to gamble and hope for another location to come off the encounter deck, or force it to come out with a couple of tools we have for that job and be guaranteed the ability to pull the beastie straight back out again to allow you to progress as quickly as possible. In a multiplayer game, one copy of Mumak Trail is almost essential, unless you really want to settle in for the long haul and get your decks fully established before advancing. Choose your other locations according to taste: if you’d prefer to bring out some enemies go for Forest Clearing; decks that can swiftly clear locations ought to go for Dense Jungle to maximize your chances of getting more of them out. Avoid Jungle Trail for now if at all possible. Not only does it have a high threat of 4, but you need to reveal an encounter card to travel here. Now while theoretically it could be a Mumak that you’re digging for, we could just as easily see a Biting Insects or a Territorial Ape, or some other card that could be disastrous for an ill-prepared early-board state. Once you’ve gotten out a few attachments or an ally or two, that’s a very different story. But for now leave it alone if you can avoid it.
Quest Stage 1: Welcome to the Jungle (12 Progress)
This quest stage is, in theory, a very straightforward one. You can only progress once there is one Mumak in play for every player in the game, even if you have got more than 12 progress on the quest. And Mumakil only get shuffled, shuffled remember, into the encounter deck every time the active location is explored. The result of this is that you could have a very short quest stage in solo play where a location is completed on the first turn, a Mumakil is found on the second and you are able to move onto the next stage. But it will almost certainly never be that easy, because all it takes is for your solitary Wild Mumak to be revealed as a Shadow Card and you have to start from scratch all over again. And in multiplayer you will have to wait until even more Mumakil are first shuffled into the encounter deck and then pulled out for you to hunt. And all the while the creatures of the jungle circle, and the treacheries build up, and the locations hem you in.
So there are really two approaches to speed up your chances of finding a Wild Mumak in the encounter deck: encounter deck scrying and manipulation; or exploring as many locations as possible so that there are more of your prey in the encounter deck to find. Or indeed both. Of course it would be remiss of me not to mention the means given to you to find these Mumakil in this very quest: Mumak Trail. This really fits into both categories and is handed to you by the encounter deck so you should make full use of the help it can give you. We’ll go into greater detail below, but once you are ready, feel free to fire ahead and bring forth the beastie. If you’ve already managed to get 12 progress on the main quest then a solo player will immediately advance to Stage 2.
But what if the encounter deck is being horrible to you? What if you aren’t able to find enough locations to draw in more Mumakil, or they just keep hiding deep in the encounter deck? Well this brings us to encounter deck scrying and manipulation. One of the more straight-forward things to do here would be to simply accelerate the number of encounter cards coming of the encounter deck. Dunedain Hunter and Dunedain Pathfinder are the obvious pair here, free to put into play with stats that really help mitigate the extra pressure applied by the additional encounter card. Wait No Longer can also help you dig specifically for an enemy, while making sure the number of encounter cards revealed doesn’t go up. Another option would be to filter the encounter deck, sifting through the chaff to get to your Mumakil or Mumak Trail quicker. Lore Denethor is the primogeniture of our encounter deck manipulation cards, wherein you may look at the top card of the encounter deck and decide if you would like to move to the bottom. Celduin Traveler and Ithilien Lookout let you look at the top card of the encounter deck and discard it if it is a location or enemy respectively. While slightly over-costed for their stats, their ability to fiddle with the encounter deck makes up for that, even when you aren’t taking advantage of their reduction in cost you get when in Secrecy. Remember that the Mumak is immune to player card effects and so even if you wanted to the Ithilien Lookout could not discard it. Another ally to consider is Firyal, who may look at and discard the top card of the encounter deck after being committed to the quest. The fact that she contributes 3 willpower makes her a very attractive option when considering allies to take into your deck. Alternatively, if reveal a location you don’t want and if you have a Hobbit character, you may exhaust it and play Short Cut to shuffle it back into the encounter deck and reveal a replacement. Quick Ears combined with a Dunedain or Ranger hero can do the same for enemies, such as if you reveal a Harad Tiger you are unprepared for. If you have an enemy trapped then Interrogation would be an excellent choice, or if you can summon enough Lore resources then you might consider Risk Some Light. If you don’t have access to the Lore Sphere then a roundabout way of fishing for either locations or enemies from the encounter deck would be to use A Watchful Peace to recur either Dense Jungle or Forest Clearing.
The other side of the coin is location exploration. Remember it is only when the active location is explored that you get to put another Mumak into the encounter deck. Now the ways of speeding up your location exploration are many and well-documented, but if you aren’t sure then have a look at this Staple article on exactly that topic. But what about ways to explore more than one active location in a single turn? Well I’m glad you asked, friendly voice in my head. There are a few ways of setting a new location to be the active one, but to get too a point where we’re making it a second active location, and not merely rearranging them, we will need to explore one after the Travel Phase. Now the oldest way of doing so is still the most reliable for many decks, and that is the old favourite Tactics Legolas. With Blade of Gondolin and Arod as his toys, the first kill each turn will net you a tidy 4 progress on the active location, enough to clear away even a Jungle Trail. Other means of placing progress outside the quest stage worth mentioning include a Woodland Courier being bounced into play, exhausting Asfaloth, copies of Evening Star, or even a good old-fashioned Strength of Will. Regardless of how you go about it, once the active location has been explored outside the quest phase, use either South Away or The Hidden Way to put in a new active location from either the staging area or the encounter deck respectively. And now you are set up ready for the next quest phase where you can hopefully keep the progress train going.
Now once you manage to dig out these elusive pachyderms you then have a new problem to face: the fact that you now have Mumakil on the board. For an in-depth look at how to handle them have a look at their specific entry below. In the meantime, suffice it to say you will need plenty of willpower and defense to take care of them in this first stage to quest past them and defend the occasional attack thrown your way by a rogue Stampeding Oliphaunt. Have at least one defender on hand, and build their strength up as quickly as you possibly can. Be sure to have the ability to muster at the very least 4 defense and 3 hit points together against the Mumak, anything less runs a real risk of losing a character. The usual suspects of Beregond and Spirit Dain apply here, but so too do more unusual suspects. Tom Cotton with a Hobbit Cloak can bring 5 defense for very little investment, as could Denethor with a Gondorian Shield or Thranduil with a Cloak of Lorien. Remember it is only the Mumak itself that is immune to player card effects but not its shadow cards, so feel free to bring as much shadow cancellation as you would like.
Quest Stage 2: Capture the Oliphaunts (8 Progress)
One thing you should bear in mind, and that is almost always forgotten about, is that unless you are playing in 4-player, by this point there are almost certainly an extra Wild Mumak or two hidden in the encounter deck or discard pile that you do not have an objective attached to. A solo player can avoid this by refusing to travel to any location other than a single copy of Mumak Trail before advancing to Stage 2, but they will need to contend with the build-up of locations in the staging area to get there. None of the locations have vast reserves of progress, and aside from any that get Overgrown non are immune to player card effects, so a Northern Tracker or two will make short work of them. Similarly a ‘bouncing Meneldor’ (incidentally this is the Anthem of the Eagles of the Misty Mountains, sung to the tune of Waltzing Matilda. Lyrics are available on request), is able to explore any single location all by himself, as is a pair of Woodland Couriers. Rhovanion Outrider and Lorien Guide are able to also keep chipping away at locations in the staging area for you. But assuming you can handle the locations, and indeed other enemies piling up in the staging area, that still leaves you with however many Mumak you have brought upon yourselves.
The only way to get the Wild Mumakil out of the staging area is to trigger the Objective attached to each one. We’ll talk in detail about them all below, but for now suffice it to say that you will have no way of predicting or controlling which one(s) you may have to face, so your deck needs to be able to take any of them on. The most straightforward way to go about this is to simply whittle down the Mumakil’s hit points as low as you can to make the conditions for successfully completing an objective to be as attainable as possible. Specific strategies are detailed below, but for now we will advise you to focus your efforts and concentrate on them one at a time to get them out of the staging area as quickly as possible before the encounter deck can gain control of the board. At the same time however, remember the Mumakil have a damage cap, so don’t over-commit to whittling down their hit points either. You will still need to place progress and defend against various enemies, and stretching yourself too thin at this point could prove to be disastrous. But if you concentrate your efforts, once the first Mumak is taken out of play, things will become progressively easier from that point on, as you will have fewer attacks to defend and less threat in the staging area to handle.
The Encounter Deck
This scenario only uses 2 encounter sets: The Mumakil and Jungle Forest. We’ve already seen Jungle Forest in The Long Arm of Mordor, but we’ll look in detail at The Mumakil encounter set below. The graphs you see below are taken at the start of the game, before any Wild Mumak enemies get shuffled in. Now here for your pleasure are the vital statistics, and then we’ll sink our teeth into the individual encounter cards.
- To begin with, there are 32 cards in the encounter deck when playing in normal mode. This can go up to 36 once the various copies of Wild Mumak gets shuffled in. This does not include copies of the various Objective cards as they will never enter the encounter deck. While playing easy mode, players will have 25 encounter cards to face, though again this could increase to 29 with the Mumaks.
- At the start of the game 59% (19) of the cards have shadow effects on them, which becomes an even 60% (15) in easy mode. They really do cover all the bases with their effects, from attack boosts to discarding attachments and even preventing characters from readying.
- The average threat of each revealed card at the start of the game is 1.59 but this goes down slightly to 1.48 in easy mode. Once the 4 Mumak get added, normal mode’s threat creeps up to 1.63 while easy mode is looking at 1.55 threat.
- There are 4 cards that have Surge: 2 copies of Strangling Python; and 2 copies of Overgrown. Only the 2 copies of Stampeding Oliphaunt have Doomed 1.
- As we have already discussed, the Wild Mumaks are immune to player card effects, as are any locations that get a copy of Overgrown attached to it.
These four cards will direct your efforts in the final stage of the quest. Randomly assigned to each Wild Mumak in play, you will have no control over which one(s) you may face, unless you have four players which will guarantee all four, and so will need to have the proper tools to complete each one to overcome the final stage of the quest.
There are a few general principles that can be applied to all four objective cards that we shall look at before we get into the specific details of the individuals. Firstly, there will only be as many objectives in play as there are Mumakil at the end of Stage 1. This means while one player theoretically could only have to deal with one Mumak, and so only one objective needs to be surmounted. However this means a single player really should not specialize their deck to deal with any single one of them. As more players get added to the game, the various decks will be able to focus on dealing with one or two objectives each.
The second thing to bear in mind is that with half the objectives, the Mumak needs to be engaged with the player attempting to utilise that particular one, and a third depends on defending attacks from a Mumak. Only one does not require combat between the players and the Mumak to directly precede it, barring shenanigans of course, and so players need to be equipped for extended periods of combat. We will go over how one might tackle this pachydermic problem under the section below dedicated to the Wild Mumak, but this is so essential to have a sturdy defense against these beasties that I am mentioning it here again and will continue to do so.
Thirdly, the more hit points you can strip off the Mumakil the easier the objectives will be to trigger. Again this may seem foundational, but here you go. You’re welcome. The most damage you can do to the Mumak each turn is limited to 3, which means that, with a defense of 3, the most you need to muster each turn is only 6 attack. Now bear in mind this is 6 attack for every Mumak in play, in addition to dealing with all the other nasty creatures you will have to face. But again, the closer you can drive the Mumak’s hit points to zero, the faster you can trigger these objectives which are the only way you have of getting the Mumakil off the board. The ways of increasing a character’s attack to 6 are many and myriad. Again, you cannot reduce the Mumak’s defense, so best leave your Rivendell Blades at home. But Boromir could take a Warrior Sword while being engaged with 2 other enemies and that’s all you’d need. Give a Haradrim Spear to Kahliel and trigger its ability, play Khazad! Khazad! on Thorin Oakenshield or give Tactics Theoden his sword Herugrim. And while Keeping Count, Legacy Blade and War Axe take a bit more work to get established, once they do they will make their presence felt. If you want something with a bit more flash, the recently released Strength and Courage can bring up to 31 different heroes to levels greater than the required 6 attack when you also give them The One Ring. Choose your preferred means of attack, and go forth to conquer.
- Horse-hair Lasso: This objective is activated whenever the attached Mumak receives damage while it is engaged with a player. One it is dealt damage, the engaged player shuffles his deck and discards the top card. If the discarded card’s cost is equal to or greater than the Mumak’s remaining hit points then both are placed into the victory display. Now, theoretically this could be successfully triggered after one attack but this is a very rare occurrence indeed and would require the inclusion of either Ally Beorn or Brok Ironfist in your Deck. But given that your deck is shuffled immediately before discarding the top card you have no chance to arrange your deck with Ally Gildor or the Imladris Stargazer, making this an extremely unlikely gamble to pay off. Most decks tend to have the majority of their decks costed at one, two, or three resources each, so I’m afraid you’ll need to knock the Mumak down to that range before you may reliably count on getting them into the victory display. Now the Wild Mumakil are immune to player card effects, so direct damage won’t work, neither will cards that would let you attack outside of the usual mode of operation, such as Quick Strike, Hands Upon The Bow or Roheryn. Nor can you reduce their defense to make your efforts easier,such as with Grimbeorn, Marksman of Lorien or Knife Work. This will need to be done the old-fashioned way of mustering at least 4 attack to trigger the objective. Now with multiple players utilising ranged attackers, this can however be attempted up to three times per combat phase, remembering that annoying damage cap we have to work around.
- Poisoned Spear: While the last objective focused entirely on the combat phase, this one requires the group to be able to quest successfully while still being engaged with the Mumak in question. This can only be done in the Questing Stage, which will mean the engaged player will need to have triggered the Wild Mumak’s forced effect and suffered through an extra attack, so all the advice given about defending a Mumak attack applies here. Now we have gone over some ideas for questing many times in the past, and will probably do so again in this very article, but it is worth reiterating a few points. Having heroes with high willpower is a good place to start, to ensure you can keep questing successfully from the outset. Either Glorfindel, Gildor Inglorion or Lothiriel would go a long way to getting your engine started. Remember this is a Harad quest, and therefore has a side-quest in the deck, so Thurindir would not be a bad option either. Sam with Leadership Frodo would pair well together, especially if you are able to get them both Friend of Friends. Between them they would contribute 7 willpower, and if you quest successfully Frodo can drop your threat and ready someone for you. Now as you can see above, the average threat of the cards in the encounter deck is around 1.5. This really means you will need to get the Mumak down to 1 or even no hit points before you can reliably discard it. Now there are 3 cards in the encounter deck with 4 threat, giving you just under a 10% chance of discarding your prey when he has 4 hit points, but you can’t rely on this. Use the advice given above to strip off as many hit points you can as fast as you can to widen the margin of success as much as possible. In addition, this is where that encounter deck manipulation and scrying can come in quite handy once again. In a single player game for instance, you can use Far-Sighted to see the next 5 encounter cards and plan out an entire turn with the confidence of knowing exactly what is coming for you, and knowing what the threat value is that you would get if you trigger Poisoned Spear this turn. Risk Some Light allows for more limited scrying, only showing you the top 3 cards. but does grant you the ability to put 1 card on the bottom of the encounter deck and arrange the other two in any order you would like. Interrogation provides a similar effect, but the remaining cards need to be returned in the same order to the top of the encounter deck. These are just a couple of suggestions, you can find plenty more above in our discussion about Stage 1.
- Pit Trap: This objective is similar to the first in that it is contingent on the threat on an encounter card, but this affords players much greater control over which encounter card is being used here. After the players travel to a location, if the active location’s printed threat is equal to or greater than the number of hit points the Mumak has remaining, add both the Mumak and Pit Trap to the victory display. There are 12 locations in the encounter deck, a full third of the encounter deck, with threat values of 2, 3 and 4 that you can utilise. This means you do not need to take down quite as many hit points from the Mumak as you might otherwise require. However that is no excuse for slacking as it will still take 2 or 3 turns to chip away at the Wild Mumakil to get them to a sufficiently low level. Now in order to travel to a location and so trigger this effect, you must have no active location. Sounds blindingly obvious, but it is important that you are able to keep on top of your locations. Again see above for some suggestions on how to do that. What we’re going to look at here is how to cheat the normal system.
One of the most straightforward things to do is to save a high threat location in the staging area so you can guarantee the capture when the Mumak is on 3 or even 4 hit points. Now it goes without saying that in order to pull this off, you will need to stay on top of your questing game. This method could very quickly slip into location-lock, so make sure if you attempt this you have an emergency valve to release the pressure. If you have a decent stockpile of progress on the quest stage, Backtrack can nuke a location from orbit if needs be. Heirs of Earendil can do the same if you are prepared to take the threat increase. I have a personal soft spot for Evening Star, though your mileage may vary. Once you have your location sitting up in the staging area that you want to keep around, it may be a good idea to employ one of the game’s most overlooked cards: Power in the Earth. The best way to consider this card is as pseudo-willpower, every turn it is in the staging area there is 1 less threat being thrown in your way. Remember it is printed threat that Pit Trap tests against, not whatever the threat has been increased or reduced to.
- Noose of Vines: The last objective card measures the Mumak’s hit points against something completely different. After a character defends an attack against the Mumak this is attached to, if the defending character has more remaining hit points than the Mumak then both the beastie and the Noose of Vines get added to the victory display. Now, let’s assume you have your defender kitted out and ready to absorb a Mumak attack without taking any damage whatsoever. The average hit points one might expect from a hero would be about 4, though some stronger ones boast 5. This means that most of the time you will be looking to knock the Mumak’s health down to 3 or 4, just to be on the safe side. Take some healing with you if you aren’t already, such as Athelas or Ioreth, so that while you are chipping away at the Mumak from one end, you are building up your health on the other and so you approach your goal from two directions. Interestingly this is the only objective you are able to achieve without damaging the Mumak at all. The myriad of hit point boosts you are able to employ grant you many paths to granting you success with this objective. The signature choice for this comes from the Core Set in the form of the iconic Citadel Plate. For 4 Tactics resources you hero gets a massive boost of 4 hit points, so that with two of them even the meekest Hobbit will have enough to pass the requirements for the Noose to trigger. But therein lies the difficulty; until you have your resource acceleration sorted even 4 Tactics resources is a lot to muster at once. So how would one approach this in a more manageable way? Oddly enough, Hobbits are very well supplied in this category. Bill the Pony, Boots from Erebor, Friend of Friends and Ring Mail all specifically reference the fact that Hobbits are permitted to take them. For instance if you are willing to use Spirit Frodo’s ability to mitigate damage with threat, one copy of each of the above in effect would have him sitting at 4 defense, so you’d need to raise your threat by 2 from a Wild Mumak attack, and a mighty 6 hit points, meaning with just one round of combat you can be prepared to trigger the Noose. But what about a hero with more meat on his bones, like Boromir for instance. Well give him a copy of Ancestral Armor, Hauberk of Mail and Vigilant Guard and suddenly the elder son of Denethor is sitting pretty with 6 defense and 9 hit points. Yet surely we can do better than that? So I ask the question: without resorting to Citadel Plate what is the highest we can go? To answer that we ought to have a look at the Dwarves. Illuvatar’s adopted children, they are the sturdiest of Arda’s peoples and can surely take a hit. And it is only fitting we have a look at their King, mightiest of that folk. Spirit Dain Ironfoot can defend for 6 on Turn One, and comes with 5 hit points already, so he has a bit of a head start. Then we give him Boots from Erebor, Ancestral Armor and Ring Mail to see him at a defense range of 6-9 and boasting 9 hit points. ‘Job well done!’ I hear you cry, but not so. There’s more. For Dain can take Hardy Leadership, granting him another extra hit point, taking him into double figures. And he is also a Warrior, so he too can take Vigilant Guard and we’re at 12. But we are playing with Golden Belt so we also give him Elf-friend and Elven Mail for an extra 2 hit points. So here we are, sitting pretty at 6-9 defense, and a whopping 14 hit points. At this point we could get silly and mention an Ent ally so we could take Ent Draught, or the ridiculousness of the Ring of Barahir with as many Artifacts as we can glue onto Dain, but for now we’ll sit where we are. Right here we can see that not only can Dain easily defend an attack with success, he can also trigger the Noose with ease. And even more than that, he’s now able to do so after taking an undefended attack from the Mumak. Now that was an extreme example, but I hope it serves to demonstrate just how straight-forward it is to get the hitpoints of your defenders up to speed. But there are plenty of things in the jungle that will damage your heroes. You must be sure to bring healing to make sure your defending heroes can keep their high levels of hit points as topped up as possible. Bring a Warden of Healing or Ioreth, or stick Self-preservation on your defender. Ranger Provisions give you repeatable healing that can be passed around the table, while Well Preserved fulfills the dual purpose of giving the wearer an extra hitpoint and granting them a means to heal themselves. If you are able to stomach the threat bump, Waters of the Nimrodel provide the best healing effect in the game. And of course you can always go with the more faction-specific options, such as Silvan Tracker or Wellinghall Preserver.
- Wild Mumak: Now the Wild Mumak are not weak enemies by any means, boasting 3 threat and an impressive 6 attack each, so while you need them out on the board to be able to move on, don’t forget you need to set up your board state so you can handle them. First of all, you will need to deal with their threat contributed to the staging area. Until you go above 40 threat the Mumak will not engage you, instead it will sit in the staging area throwing 3 threat every turn at your questers. This in itself is not too desperate, and indeed this is the second highest printed threat in the scenario. As you should be doing normally, be sure to bring decent questing power, whether it be via heroes with allies, attachments or both. Heroes like Lothiriel, Elrond or Sam have enough willpower to cancel out the Mumak’s threat, while Cirdan the Shipwright or either version of Eowyn will still surpass it with their willpower. Use attachments like Silver Circlet or Fireside Song, or summon allies like Firyal or Sulien to shore up your questing capabilities. Despite the dangers The Savage South presents to your allies and attachments, those Wild Mumakil are there to stay for now and you will need a consistent and permanent increase, as opposed to the far more temporal bonuses provided by events. Just a quick aside, but be careful of Stampeding Oliphaunt, which could have you face 6 attack when you might be least prepared to face it. There are no heroes in the game except Beorn that have at least 6 hitpoints, so taking an undefended attack from the Mumak will result in a hero’s death, barring shenanigans with Barliman, White Tower Watchman, Dori or Defender of the West. To err on the side of caution, you will need to have a strong defender from the first turn, or at least have a steady supply of red shirts. Tying in with that, instead of trying to out-quest the Mumakil, you could try and engage them in combat and get their threat out of the staging area. This is a very risky manoeuvre, especially with the Mumak’s forced effect granting them a second attack. It is imperative therefore to ensure you have a strong defender ready to defend against the Mumak at all times. Spirit Dain can do this from the very beginning, discarding 3 cards to boost his defense to a staggering 6. Either version of Beregond would also serve, especially once he gets his trademark Gondorian Shield, plus any other toys you may want to throw his way. Hobbit Cloak is a cheap way to get many of your hobbits up to at least 4 defense. Protector of Lorien will protect you for as long as you have cards to discard, while Ancestral Armor can bring heroes like Elrohir, Amarthiul or Erkenbrand can get slightly weaker heroes boosted to necessary levels. When you can get them properly kitted out, Guardian of Arnor or Redwater Sentry may be able to do the job as well, though there are fewer allies able to take the hit and survive. If you have a hero carrying The One Ring, Inner Strength and Well Preserved can give your defender some serious staying power if you are prepared to eat the threat increases. Alternatively, throw a Squire of the Citadel under the Mumak and regain your investment, or make a return if you also have a Horn of Gondor. Silvan Refugee, Galion, Snowborn Scout, Barliman and others; these are just some of the volunteers who can keep your Mumakil occupied until you are ready to deal with them. Be sure to take Horn of Gondor and Horn of the Mark if you are able, in order to mitigate your losses with this route.
- Harad Tiger: There is only one copy of this in the encounter deck, but this feline hunter has the ability to throw your defensive strategy into disarray. If I could use a Warhammer analogy, this would be this scenarios equivalent of a ‘Distraction Carnifex’, pulling your attention into this instead of the Mumakil. But there’s a good reason for that. Its 4 threat is not insignificant, but with an engagement of 0 he won’t be staying in the staging area for long. You can’t optionally engage the Tiger, so the first player will have to face him the very turn he is revealed from the encounter deck. But here’s the kicker; whenever the Tiger attacks and destroys a character it is returned to the staging area where it contributes its threat once again. Now this means any chump blocker would not really be a suitable defender here, unless you are deliberately trying to return the Tiger to the staging area. You could want to do this if you want to have him engage a different player, trigger various engagement effects like Mablung or Leadership Faramir, or even trigger a trap that will weaken the Tiger. Remember that Poisoned Stakes triggers at the end of the turn, so immediately it will have 2 hit points stripped from it. Entangling Nets can neuter the Tiger and take it down to 2 attack and a mere 1 defense, while Ranger Spikes will leave him with only 2 threat and will allow you to continue without fear of him engaging you again. But unless you want to do this, you will need a decent defender here. Now if you use your top-tier defender that will mean they would not be ready to take on the Mumak, with will at best result in a dead ally, or at worst an undefended attack and a dead hero. You must therefore find a lesser defender, probably an ally but not exclusively, that couldn’t be used against the Mumak, but would survive an attack from the Tiger. Defender of the Rammas is an obvious choice, but a bad shadow would finish him off so be sure to give him a Round Shield to guard against such an eventuality. Soldier of Erebor would be another good choice, especially as he has the ability to ready himself and contribute to a potential counterattack. Deorwine or Jubayr have the advantage of being able to employ shadow cancellation, ensuring their continued survival. Hauberk of Mail is able to increase the longevity of all your defenders with various attachments, but is especially good on Redwater Sentry, who is turned from a 2 to a 4 defense ally. Warriors can benefit from Raiment of War, while Dwarves can employ Ring Mail or Armor of Erebor to get them strengthened to the required levels. Now taking down the Tiger is both harder and easier than the Mumak. While you don’t have a damage cap to deal with, the Harad Tiger boasts 3 defense and 5 hit points, leaving players needing to muster 8 attack. But remember that only the Mumak is immune to player card effects, so you can go to town on the Tiger. Marksman of Lorien can reduce his defense to 1, and then throw 3 attack his way. Beorn with Beorn’s Rage can bring the Tiger down to a mere solitary hit point. All you need is for the Tiger to be engaged with Tactics Aragorn, or use a single Ranger Bow and you won’t need to worry about it any more. Entangling Nets and Valour of the North provides a swing of 5 attack going up against the Harad Tiger leaving it ripe for plucking by any attacker with 3 attack, something you should not be lacking in. To surmise, as long as you can prevent the Tiger from picking off a character, it should fall quickly to any manner of concentrated attack, assuming you can spare it from your efforts with the Mumakil.
- Territorial Ape: The most numerous of the enemies you will face, this also has the potential for the highest threat and attack. Starting with a base of 2 for each stat, except for his 4 hit points, the threat and attack are boosted according to the threat of the active location. This could be as little as 2 with Mumak Trail or Dense Jungle, but if you are at a Jungle Trail the Ape is sitting with 6 threat or attack. Should the side-quest come out we’ll be looking at 7 for each, which can only be exacerbated by copies of Overgrown attaching themselves to Jungle Trail bringing the Ape up to a staggering 9 threat and attack. That’s enough to kill Beregond before he’s able to get any armour on. Now that is a worst case scenario, but a very plausible one, so all of this is to say do not take this guy lightly. Very quickly he can grow from being a mediocre enemy to one that is capable of single-handedly destroying your board. On top of that, he is the most numerous of all the enemies in the encounter deck, equalled only by the Wild Mumak once you have managed to get all of them in. Expect the Ape to show up, and deal with him quickly. 4 hit points is by no means insurmountable, especially when he only has 2 defense to shield him. Dunhere with a Spear of the Mark can tear him down to a single hit point while he’s still in the staging area, similarly Haldir with a Bow of the Galadhrim, leaving the Ape ripe for a single hit with direct damage, be it from Tactics Bilbo, Gondorian Spearman or Durin’s Axe. Alternatively, Thorin Stonehelm with a Dwarrowdelf Axe or even Kahliel throwing his Haradrim Spear are all enough to strike him down with a single blow. Weather the first blow, then strike hard. You mustn’t let him stick around for long, lest he becomes a deterrent to you travelling to the higher threat locations and getting them out of the staging area. Remember that ‘Apes together, strong!’ and take them out quickly.
- Strangling Python: This is the first of a pair of enemies that have a more insidious effect than any that we’ve yet looked at. There are only two pythons in the deck (Idle and Palin perhaps? [Ed: No, not those Pythons!]) but you will need to be very careful when they do appear. First of all they Surge, coming at you unawares out of the encounter deck. Their chief weapon is surprise, surprise and fear [Ed: No, stop that!]. Attacking with a strength of 3, they pose no threat to any defender of a half-decent calibre, such as Fastred, Amarthiul or the Longbeard Sentry. Now there are only 6 Shadow Cards that can directly raise the attacking enemy’s strength, and even then only by 1, or 2 at the very most so your defender almost certainly wouldn’t die from that. It’s just a flesh wound after all [Ed: That’s quite enough]. But if they do manage to damage a character then the Python attaches itself to the defender and that character will be prohibited from readying for the remainder of the game. Now the easiest way to avoid this from happening is to simply have higher defense, something so straightforward I won’t repeat myself. If you don’t have an available defender who can do so successfully, the next thing would be to avoid the attack altogether, which can be done in a variety of ways including Andrath Guardsman, Hobbit-sense and the old reliable Feint. On the other hand you could kill it before it even attacks you. Quick Strike would allow most decent attackers to send the Python on toward the choir invisible, so you won’t need to worry about his attack. If an attack must come, shadow cancellation will at least make sure the strength of it is predictable. Erkenbrand, Deorwine or Balin with Ring Mail would be ideal here, each with an inbuilt ability to cancel shadows. Alternatively Hasty Stroke, Shadows Give Way or A Burning Brand can spare your defender from an unexpected hit. Now if damage is unavoidable, try and get a character to take the hit whose ability isn’t dependant on needing to be ready to to exhaust. Potentially good candidates might include the Beorning Skinchanger, Barliman or Galdor of the Havens. It is theoretically possible for Vigilant Dunedan to take the Python attached to him and not have it impede his ability to defend at all. And with Silvan allies bouncing in and out of play, having one of these attached to an ally, such as the Greenwood Defender, will not be an issue whatsoever. But for the disproportionately large amount of bother this enemy can cause, at the end of the day the safest thing to do might be simply to bring some condition attachment removal, something every sphere in tactics has access to now.
- Giant Centipede: In many ways the same advice given for Strangling Python can be repeated here. If the Centipede damages a character, its text box will be blank until the end of the round. Now this is not nearly as debilitating an effect as the Python’s, for the simple reason that most characters abilities will have already come into play before this stage. The only ones who are likely to still need theirs are attackers, and let’s be honest if you are getting them to help out with defending them something has gone wrong. Repeat defenders tend to rely on attachments to either ready or get properly buffed up, so they probably won’t mind as much. One or two exceptions to that rule would be Elrohir or the Vigilant Dunedan, with whom you may have wanted to defend against a host of other enemies, but are now unable to. The worst targets for this effect would probably be the heroes in the Leadership Sphere that are able to boost other characters, such as Boromir, Dain Ironfoot or Elfhelm, because without them whole portions of your army can deflate. But again, unlike the Strangling Python, this is only until the end of the round so you should be able to recover quickly from this.
- Mumak Trail: If you are playing with 2 players you should really be starting with one copy in play from the very beginning. If you feel your deck can cope with an early-game Mumak, or have a way of pulling out a second location like Dunedain Pathfinder or The Hidden Way, even a solo player might want to choose it as their starting location. It only contributes 2 threat to the staging area so it won’t be hampering your progress by a great deal at all. And remember that the Forced Effect from Stage 1B triggers before the response of Mumak Trail. To be specific, once you explore Mumak Trail a Wild Mumak is shuffled into the encounter deck and then Mumak Trail’s Response digs it back out and puts it into the encounter deck. From a practical point of view you can just put it straight into the staging area, but you must remember that you need to shuffle the encounter deck, especially if you have done any scrying or the like. Once another location has been explored and the Mumak is in the encounter deck, and you feel prepared to handle the threat it would bring to the table, it’s time to travel to the Mumak Trail. You do have to raise your threat by 1 to travel there, but in the early game this ought not to be a great deal of hassle. Unless it has a copy of Overgrown attached, it isn’t immune to player card effects so you’re able to soften it up in the staging area beforehand. Just remember it won’t summon a Mumak until it becomes the active location so don’t overdo it. Once you move on to Stage 2, this location’s text box may as well be blank, making it the safest one to travel to at any given time really.
- Stampeding Oliphaunt: Immediately trigger Doomed 1, just for a little bit of flavour and spice, and make sure you also remember your cards that respond to Doomed. Gain your resource from Keys of Orthanc and pass on that Soldier of Isengard. And now that’s over and done with, on to the card! A thematic home-run here, as a stampeding Mumak is enough to test anyone’s nerve, and if you are nearby then you will face his wrath. The first player must immediately be able to defend an attack from a Mumak in the staging area, or a hero will go down. This means you must be sure and ready any capable defenders you sent to quest before the staging steps. An obscure and niche cross-section I know, but a boosted Rossiel with a Cloak of Lorien can quest for 4 and defend for a maximum of 6. It’s possible, is what I’m saying. If you are able to defend the attack, this doesn’t actually hurt you that much. For one thing it means you aren’t having to deal with more threat in the staging area, and so questing should be that little bit less of an issue. But if the Mumak is up in the staging area, it probably means you weren’t quite ready for combat with them in the first place. Depending on how able you are to respond, whether it be with A Test of Will, Feint or a Loyal Hound, you may end up side-stepping the attack altogether, but if you are unprepared, this could potentially have you winding up with a fallen hero. Of course the simplest way to avoid such an attack is to keep the Mumakil out of the staging area, although this does bring its own risks. Should the staging area be clear of those beasties then you will need to dig out a copy of Mumak Trial, see above, because a great big stampeding Oliphant must leave some trace of its passing.
- The Savage South: Whenever someone makes a list of the worst, must-cancel treacheries in the game, 90% of the time this is up there with an early Sudden Pitfall, Sleeping Sentry, Collateral Damage, Master’s Malice and the like. Here is one you will need to either save A Test of Will for, build your deck with this in mind or suffer the consequences. First of all you discard the top 5 cards of your deck, potentially 10% of your total. This in itself could be enough for a treachery, we had similar effects in the Shadows of Mirkwood cycle with Slick Footing from HoEM and Wasted Provisions from RtM. But then each player must discard from play any card that shares a title with a discarded one. Theoretically this may be nothing, it must be admitted. But you could also lose 10 allies and attachments from play, along with all of the replacements you could have used to reverse this misfortune. With this in mind you really need to weigh up how many copies of any individual card you will include in your deck. Having 3 of a kind will mean it is much more likely that card will get hit, but you will also have the potential to replace those cards further down the line. If you take a pair of them it reduces the risk posed to them. However not only does it mean you are less likely to see those cards in the first place, but if you only have one in play and the other is hit by Savage South, you lose them both. Only having single individual cards in your deck will mean this treachery can not hurt you, but you can kiss goodbye any semblance of consistency or reliability within your deck. For unique cards, I would recommend taking either 3 or 1 in your deck. You can only have one copy in play, which means a second floating in your deck runs the real danger of you losing both copies. However if you have a third in reserve you are able to substitute in that replacement. Consider adding copies of Ered Luin Miner to mitigate the heavy toll you will face after drawing this treachery. After The Savage South triggers fully the Miner gets to enter play if it is discarded from your deck, so that you get back a little something. Oh, and watch out for that shadow effect. I’ve seen a Territorial Ape buffed up to 6 with this, only to go and return to the staging area with 5 threat. Make sure you can defend this attack successfully or be prepared to counter the extra willpower in the staging area.
- Terrible Fever: On the face of it this treachery is possibly the least bad of the bunch. No threat added, no progress removed, and no attachments discarded. You will need to remove a hero from questing and attach this card to them, which will strip a hit point from them each and every turn. If you have Windfola on Eowyn, this will completely negate the first part of this treachery. A viable use of Don’t Be Hasty emerges here, as later on in a solo game it is perfectly possible to only be questing with one hero and several allies. After Terrible Fever is revealed, but before it resolves its effect, you can use Don’t Be Hasty to remove said hero from the quest and protect them from this health draining effect. Or perhaps through a scrying effect you have an early warning of this coming, you could use Elevenses to get your heroes out of harm’s way. Now if you are unable to dodge this effect, the worst part about it is that questing heroes tend to have fewer hitpoints. So the next step of mitigation you’ll need to consider is damage healing or cancellation. The ubiquitous choice is, of course, Warden of Healing though many other options are available. Wellinghall Preserver can keep Treebeard or Quickbeam in the action, and Silvan Tracker will do the same for Rossiel and Celeborn. Dale Messenger, Song of Healing and Old Tobywill keep their various deck archetypes afloat as well. Alternatively, since prevention is the best cure after all, Mithril Shirt will completely negate this treachery altogether, reducing the damage taken by the attached character by 1 each and every single time that character is damaged. Raven-winged Helm has a similar effect, but you can only do it once per round so bear that in mind. Now the more permanent way of dealing with Terrible Fever is to take some Condition Attachment removal. Between this and Strangling Python you really don’t have an excuse not to bring some, whether it be Miner of the Iron Hills, Bulwark of the West or Power of Orthanc. Only Tactics might really struggle with this, but unless you are taking a Mono-Tactics deck they really ought to splash these in.
- Biting Insects: This is the only instance of direct damage in this encounter deck, and too be frank it probably won’t sting you that much. Now granted, if a card is still in your hand it may be because it is slightly more expensive and you are saving up a turn or two in order to pay for it. But in all likelihood you won’t take more than 3 damage at the most from this treachery. This will hurt most at the very beginning, when bodies on the table are few and so you’ll find it harder to cope with, or if things aren’t going well and you are on a downward trajectory this will make it harder to pull yourself back on your feet. Harsher than the direct damage I think is the discarded card from your hand. It is random so there is no way to control or predict exactly what you will lose. But in a worst case scenario you may suddenly find yourself without A Test of Will to negate any copies of The Savage South that may be around the corner, or losing that Feint you need to weather a Mumak attack this turn. You could theoretically recover any Spirit events you lose with Dwarven Tomb, and if you are truly desperate we always have the handy Record attachments to fall back on.
- Guardians of the Jungle: As far as encounter side quests go, this is a fairly gentle one. You do get easier ones, like Make Camp from TWH or An Arduous Journey from TRR, but there are far more that would be considered game-altering, where you need to redirect your efforts before continuing on with the quest proper. Seal the Tomb from the Angmar Awakened cycle and the Haradrim cycle’s Southron Champion are two such examples, but there are many more. If you have your willpower in good shape however, or you have enough location management options, this side-quest could quite easily be ignored. It will become increasingly detrimental as more players get added and more locations get revealed, but with the number of players increasing it should be easier to find a Northern Tracker, an Evening Star or two, or even a Rhovanion Outrider to keep things in the staging area reasonable. As for the Territorial Ape, bear in mind the increased threat provided by this side-quest means that he will have his stats boosted. We’ve already talked about the best ways to deal with him above, so proceed accordingly. The other thing to remember about this side-quest is the benefits it can offer you as well. Halfast Gamgee will effectively cost 1 resource, Thalion will ready at the beginning of each combat phase and Thurindir will get an extra willpower. You can attach The Long Defeat for some extra card draw or healing, or The Road Goes Goes Ever On to fetch out a player side quest from your deck. The latter option may be especially beneficial in the second stage of the quest after you have all 8 progress on the main quest and you don’t want to waste your willpower. East Road Ranger will help you with that as you get an extra 2 willpower from her whenever you tackle a side quest, and there are plenty of excellent player side quests to choose from. Keep Watch will make Mumak and Territorial Ape attacks much more survivable, while Scout Ahead can remove that copy of The Savage South out of the encounter deck before it ever hits. And of course there’s Gather Information, so you can find exactly what you need to help complete the objectives and finally capture that last Wild Mumak.
Tips and Tricks
- There are one or two cards that discard cards from the top of your deck, like Horse-hair Lasso or The Savage South, so it may seem tempting to double-down on this with a Dwarven Mining deck. If you do, just remember to bring Will of the West to reset your deck because you will burn through it very quickly Also consider Dwarf Pipe to mitigate the depletion of your deck and recur any copies of Hidden Cache that may get discarded.
- And on that note, if you are running Spirit be sure to pack copies of Reforged and Stand and Fight as well as Dwarven Tomb. This will ensure that when you do lose cards to the discard pile, you can rescue the ones you need the most.
- There is no excuse not to run condition removal. With Terrible Fever and Strangling Python eating away at your deck, you really do want some condition removal to get you back up and running. As we’ve said there are options across most spheres except for Tactics, but even they should include something splashed from another sphere in their decks.
- This may be one of the few quests where Keeping Count may see some useful play. If you get one copy on your hero who will be doing most of the combat, whether it’s Amarthiul, Boromir or Tactics Legolas, and then slowly build up your tokens to allow the second hero to build up their attack. Then that second hero will be in a prime position to take on the Mumakil, who cannot be killed and so would not address the disparity between the two heroes’ kill count.
- One of the new contracts completely negates the worst treachery of the game and is worth considering for that alone. Council of the Wise prohibits you from taking more than 1 card of any given title in your deck, while giving you various benefits from playing events. This means all that The Savage South will be able to do is discard 5 cards from your deck and no more. A legitimate play-style for this quest was to do exactly this before the contract was announced, so the fact that Council of the Wise gives you an incentive you to do this is all the more reason to adopt this approach.
- Just throwing it out there but all the locations in this quest have the Forest trait, making this an idea quest to make the most of Woodland Courier and Cloak of Lorien.
There aren’t a lot of playthroughs out there, this is the only one I was able to find in a video format, but let me know if I’ve missed any and I will be sure to add them in below.
- Three player: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XWDV9AL5Lbc
This is a really fun quest, and is often cited as one players like to use to test their decks. While your deck won’t be tested in every capacity, it certainly could be tested from any angle, with a different route to victory each time. I hope you give this most unusual quest a shot and you enjoy it as much as I have.