If the Dragons and the other big enemies in this cycle weren’t enough, you and your fellowship decide to go down the haunted depths of Framsburg in search of a sword. The place has been deserted for a long time, meaning you will have to watch your step and deal with any ghosts that you come across. It has been a while since you hunted ghosts, with the previous set of Undead enemies appearing in the Drowned Ruins, 2 cycles ago.
This quest is probably the least enjoyed by the community out of the entire cycle. The reason for this is that the quest has the tendancy to be very long if you cannot find the correct objectives fast enough. The quest suffers from the same problem as the Dead Marshes, where objectives can dissappear into the encounter discard pile, requiring you to take forever in order to find it. In true solo, this can be a pain in the behind, having some games last more than 40 rounds before you can move on. This allows decks to play their entire set of cards, and allow heroes to drown in resources as you have nothing to spend them on.
So today, let’s investigate how this scenario tries to replicate the Ruins of Belegost, and in what ways it tries to defeat you. It is a rather interesting quest, but you won’t often replay this one once you’ve beaten it.
The Ghost of Framsburg
- Found in: The Ghost of Framsburg Adventure pack, Ered Mithrin pack 4
- Official Difficulty: 5
- Community Difficulty: 5.1
- Encounter Sets: The Ghost of Framsburg, Wild Creatures, Afraid of the Dark
- Quest cards: 3
- Play if: you have a lot of time on your hands, but not enough to play Ruins of Belegost. You enjoy the lore surrounding Scatha the Wyrm. You like digging in the encounter deck for treasure, and don’t mind a few ghosts appearing along the way.
- What’s different about this quest?: The Discover keyword, not being able to advance quests unless Loot objectives have been found, boss enemy can appear at any point during the quest and grows as the players progress, Hazards appearing when digging for loot.
- Solo of multiplayer?: I would urge you to play this quest with some more players and not in true solo. Not because your friends will enjoy this quest, but since you are revealing more encounter cards per round this way. That allows you to recycle the encounter deck faster, giving you the best chances of hitting a Loot objective. More players also makes it so that the Hazards revealed from the Discover keyword hit less hard than they would in multiplayer. However, more players also means more cards are revealed each round, and especially the Abandoned Ruins treachery becomes a pain in 4p. Stick to 3 players for this one would be my suggestion.
- Can I bring side-quests to this quest?: Yes, you should. The quest cards can’t be advanced until players control a certain number of Loot objectives, so if those are a few turns away, it is a good idea to use your extra progress to clear some side-quests. Double Back is a favourite of mine in this quest, as the threat reduction is very welcome during the late game. Be sure to bring enough side-quests, and you will at least have something to quest up against while you are digging for Loot objectives. There is also a way to speed up the scenario by using the side-quest Scout Ahead, more info in the tips and tricks section of this quest.
- What to look out for: Your own mental health deteriorating after 40 rounds of not finding the correct loot objective, some big enemies can appear quite early, including the boss, threat becomes an issue after a while, location lock in higher player counts.
The Discover keyword and Loot objectives
Since I haven’t covered the Ruins of Belegost scenario at the time that this article releases, I will cover the Discover keyword and the loot objectives here, as it is used identically in both quests. The Discover X keyword can be found on locations in this scenario and triggers when players travel to the location. There is no way to avoid this trigger, as it is not a travel cost. Whenever the location becomes the active location, the players must look at the top X cards of the encounter deck, where X is the Discover value of the now active location. From these looked at cards, they choose one Loot objective (if there is any) and attach it to the active location as a Guarded attachment. Players will have to clear the active location in order to claim the objective.
But that’s not all. From the looked at cards, the players must also select one encounter card with the Hazard trait at random. If there are no Hazard traited encounter cards, then nothing happens (you still get the loot attached to the active location). Otherwise, have one Hazard drawn at random, reveal it, and add it to the staging area. Regardless of if you’ve seen a Hazard and/or a Loot card in the top X cards of the encounter deck, all other cards are discarded and go to the discard pile. This thins the encounter deck significantly, allowing you to more easily get through the encounter deck. This is good, as you will get to reshuffle the discard pile in case a Loot objective got discarded somehow.
That brings me to the quirks of the Loot objectives. They are not like regular objectives, that are added to the staging area or guarded by encounter cards when they are revealed. Instead, if Loot objectives are revealed during staging or enter play through other means than the Discover keyword, they are immediately discarded. They are then replaced by the next encounter card. This makes it so that you will often have Loot objectives in your discard pile, which isn’t ideal. Reshuffling the encounter discard pile back into the deck by running out of encounter cards, or by using The End Comes, can make sure that the objective is back in the encounter deck so that it can possibly be revealed with the Discover keyword. For further questions on this topic, see your rules inserts.
To begin this quest, the players must find the unique Cursed Tomb location, and set it aside out of play. This location will come into play during the final stage, so you don’t have to worry about it yet. What you do have to worry about, is that the other part of the setup for this quest requires each player to select a different location from the encounter deck, and add it to the staging area. There are 5 choices, and only one location is really beneficial to you.
For solo games, and for the first location picked in a multiplayer game, go with the Forgotten Crypt. This location will help you later on, and will shorten the duration of the game. For the second location that you should pick, I will suggest the Hidden Staircase. Early on, this location isn’t that threatening, and its threat reduction potential will come in handy. After this, you should get the Haunted Hall if you are in a 3 player game. This location isn’t ideal to countering location lock, and will add a bunch of threat, but compared to the others, it isn’t that bad if you have enough willpower and are not going to place progress on Dark locations. For the final location, in case you have a four player game, I would suggest the Moonlit Passage. While the limit to your threat reduction is nasty, it isn’t as bad as the Tower. It is also the only non-Dark location, giving you a great target to travel to in the first round. Leave the Cursed Tower in the encounter deck, as the threat increase when you play an event is not something you want to deal with, especially in the early game.
After each player has selected one different location and added it to the staging area, the quest card flips over and the players can start their first turn. Note that you DO include Fram’s Shade into the encounter deck. While this is the final boss of the scenario, he will appear earlier and will steadily grow as you collect more Loot objectives.
Quest card 1: The Haunted Keep – 6 quest points
The quest starts quite easy, with the B side of this quest card not having any extra text. That makes the first few rounds quite straight forward. Try to get the required progress on the quest as soon as you can, it’s only 6 progress. That means that the rest of your time can be spent finding a Loot objective. With a full encounter deck and 3 objectives to find, it won’t take long to find an objective at this stage if all goes well. There is of course always the risk of revealing them during staging or as shadow cards, but try to scry the encounter deck with Scout Ahead, allowing you to look at the cards you will get for your next Discover keyword.
Locations are going to be key here, and you should probably travel each round if you can. Several locations are quite dangerous to leave in the staging area, and with Haunted Hall in the staging area, it won’t really be an option to clear the locations in the staging area, unless you use effects like Heirs of Earendil that clear the location without placing progress. Only do this during a location lock though, you will mainly want to travel to these locations in order to trigger the Discover keyword and find a piece of Loot.
Solo players might want to be a little more hesitant to trigger the Discover keyword, since any added Hazards each round will eventually mean that you reveal double the encounter cards as normal, which is rough for many decks. At this stage, you really got to take some time to set up your combos, and keep a lid on the enemies coming out of the encounter deck. Keep an eye on your threat as well this early on. Moonlit Passage and Haunted Tower has to be travelled to as soon as possible, as they will otherwise raise your threat quite quickly, and will limit your ability to lower threat by just one point at a time. Players who are running Saruman won’t have to worry about the Moonlit Passage as much, but you are quite brave to attempt this quest with Saruman decks, as they tend to increase your threat as well, which doesn’t combo well with this quest’s mechanics.
Once the players find their first Loot objective, and have managed to place at least 6 progress on the main quest, they immediately advance to the next stage. Keep an eye on the cards in the staging area when you advance, as you will be adding more cards to it when you advance, so kill and explore what you can in preparation for this.
Quest card 2: Searching the Ruins – 12 quest points
When this stage is revealed, the encounter discard pile is shuffled back into the encounter deck and each player reveals an encounter card. This is actually beneficial for you, as any objectives that got discarded the previous phase are now returned to the deck (assuming you don’t immediately reveal them again). As for the extra encounter card, hope for some locations, though you won’t have much to say about that. The added locations can help you to find your next objective sooner.
Flipping over to side 2B, the quest card now actually has a Forced effect that will trigger at the start of each quest phase. This is important to remember, as it is quite easy to forget when you stay at this stage for a long time. The forced effect has the players make a choice: Either they raise their threat by 2, or they discard cards from the top of the encounter deck until a location is discarded, and add that location to the staging area. Both options aren’t ideal, though games with fewer players might want to risk revealing an additional location if they haven’t got as many in their staging area at any point. The threat isn’t great, but if you can avoid getting Moonlit Passage in the staging area and have enough threat reduction, then that might be the better option. The risk with the location option is that you could end up discarding objectives through its effect. You would then have to look whether or not you want to use the Forgotten Crypt location to bring them back, but only do this if you have 2 of that location in the staging area already. You also risk location lock through this effect, and with Haunted Hall preventing you from placing progress without suffering threat, it can be a tough lock to get out of. There really aren’t any good options here for multiplayer games, so it will depend on your situation.
The goal of this quest card is to make 12 progress on the card, and get your hands on a second objective. If you already gotten your second objective last stage, great! Then all you need is the 12 progress, which shouldn’t be difficult. Otherwise, players are recommended to place the progress as quickly as they can while they are digging through the encounter deck to find their next objective. If you have placed all required progress and haven’t yet discovered your second loot objective, then it is time to try and clear the staging area as best you can, and try to clear some side-quests if you brought any. If an objective ends up in the encounter discard pile, then the Forgotten Crypt can bail you out, but be warned that if you only have one of the locations, then the next stage will be a slog to get through if you are unlucky.
Spend your time at this stage burning through the encounter deck and clearing the staging area. If you can manage to clear more encounter cards than the deck brings in play, you should be doing alright. This stage can take a while, so finish setting up your final boardstate and start getting your entire deck on the table. In this scenario, it is quite possible to go through your deck before you complete the quest, so try and get as strong as you can during this stage.
After the players claim their second objective or when the 12th progress is placed on the quest (both have to be done, but objectives usually take longer), the players can advance to stage 3. It is important here to either have gotten all three objectives at this point, or to at least have cleared the board a little bit.
Quest card 3: The Cursed Shade – 6 quest points
Having finally advanced the quest, the players move to the final stage. This stage has the tendancy to take the longest, as you have the lowest chance of finding the final piece of Loot. If by some weird shenanigans, you already found your final objective before arriving at this stage, then it will luckily be over quite quickly.
When the stage is revealed, the first player adds the Cursed Tomb location to the staging area that was set aside, out of play at the setup portion of the quest, now many years ago. All other players search the encounter deck and discard pile for a non-unique Undead enemy and add it to the staging area. This means the players only have the choice between two enemies, which makes choosing a bit easier. If somehow the first player has been able to keep a very low threat, go for the Crypt Stalker. Otherwise, I prefer to go with the Evil Spectre, since it is easier to get rid of. You will want to kill these enemies quickly, so that you will be able to focus your attention on Fram’s Shade during this part of the quest. After all non-first players have added a non-unique Undead enemy to the staging area, they shuffle the encounter deck and flip the quest over to side B.
This is the final stretch on your long journey, but this can prove to be the longest stage if you are unlucky. The goal of this stage is to get Fram’s Shade into the Victory Display. As you may note, Fram’s Shade does not have a printed victory value, but this is give to him once the Cursed Tomb location is explored and added to the victory display itself. So the goal shifts to exploring the Cursed Tomb. However, there is a catch. The location is immune to player card effects and the players can only travel there when they control all 3 Loot Objectives. This means that you first have to get the final objective, then travel and explore the Tomb, and then kill Fram’s Shade in order to win the game. Oh, and don’t forget the 6 progress on the main quest stage.
Going one step at a time, your first goal is to find the final objective card in the encounter deck to be able to travel to the Tomb. This will involve you digging through the encounter deck with the Discover keyword until you find the final objective. If you manage to discard the final piece of Loot, then use the Forgotten Crypts to return it by adding it to an enemy. This saves you from having to find it organically through the Discover keyword, which would require too much luck to be reliable. Scrying and forcing the encounter deck to give you more locations is a good way to improve your chances of getting the final objective. Guarded player cards are also very useful here, as they can discard a ton of useless encounter cards before they hit. Just make sure you have at least one Forgotten Crypt left over to travel to in order to retrieve an objective you just discarded. During the time you spent looking for the objective, try and clear as much of the staging area as possible.
Once you finally clear the requirement of controlling all three objectives, players can go to the Cursed Tomb. This does come with an added Forced ability that brings out Fram’s Shade if he isn’t in play already. The Shade is added to the staging area (or returned to it if it was already in play) and it will make an immediate attack against each player in turn order. Note that the quest stage has provided Fram’s Shade with immunity to player card effects, so these attacks cannot be cancelled. Fram’s Shade is also hitting the hardest at this point, now that he has +3 for all his stats and gets 3 shadow cards for each attack. Chumping is probably the safest bet here, as Fram can be quite fearsome during these attacks thanks to the uncertainty of his shadow cards.
After all of these attacks, the players will have to clear the Cursed Tomb during the next quest phase. It will only take 5 progress, so try and clear the staging area of as much threat as you can in order to clear this location in one turn. There is no penalty for taking longer, only that the quest will take one more round to complete, which can be frustrating. Once the players clear the Cursed Tomb, they add it to the victory display in order to give Fram’s Shade 6 victory points. This now allows you to add him to the victory display when you defeat him, where you couldn’t before. This does mean that while Cursed Tomb is in play, you DO NOT KILL Fram’s Shade. Doing this would put him back into the encounter discard pile, with no way to retrieve him until you reshuffle the encounter deck and add him to the staging area during the quest phase. This is a huge waste of time, so just keep him at 1 HP while the Cursed Tomb is still in play.
Once you finally defeat Fram’s Shade and have made the final points of progress to the quest card, you win. You will have grown a beard worthy of wizard status during this time, but your task is done. Now you just have to take Fram’s sword and bring it to Gundabad to slay Dagnir with. Although it being in three pieces doesn’t help. Meaning that you’ll need to find a proper forge first before fighting the dragon.
The Encounter deck
- The encounter deck is made up out of 41 cards in Normal mode, and 29 in Easy mode.
- Shadow chances are 63% in Normal mode, and 55% in Easy mode. The shadow effects vary a lot between raising threat, dealing damage, making additional attacks, and discarding attachments.
- Average threat on the cards is 1,5 in Normal mode, and 1,38 in Easy mode. This is a little higher in reality, though that depends on the deck you play, and your threat.
- The Black Bats will always surge, and if Abandoned Ruins fails to hit, it will also surge, bringing the total to 5 cards that can drag out an additional card. Also note that the objectives will replace themselves if revealed during staging.
- Doomed 1 appears on 6 cards, and if Abandoned Ruins fails to hit, it will cause Doomed 2. Combine this with more threat raising abilities in the encounter deck and the lack of threat reduction, and you get a quest that isn’t suitable for Doomed decks.
- In total, there are 10 locations with the Discover keyword in the encounter deck in Normal mode, and 7 in Easy mode.
- The chances of a card having the Hazard trait is 31% in any mode.
- Fram’s Shade cannot have non-objective attachments
- Fram’s Shade is immune to player card effects during stage 3
- The Cursed Tomb is immune to player card effects and cannot be travelled to unless players control all three Loot objectives
- While Moonlit Passage is in the staging area, each player’s threat cannot be reduced by more than one each round
- Forgotten Crypt is immune to player card effects
The following stats do not include The Cursed Tomb, as it is placed outside of the encounter deck during setup. The average threat also doesn’t count the X threat cards and the objectives. The objectives are never revealed during staging and will never be added to the staging area on their own. The encounter deck has a slight preferance for enemies, which can mean that in true solo it might be a while before you see another location. Dunedain Pathfinders, location Guarded player cards, and other methods to drag out locations will be important to make sure you keep triggering the Discover keyword to find those objectives.
As discussed at the start of this article, the three Loot objectives will be the key to advancing the quest in this scenario. Since they can only enter play through the Discover keyword (or Forgotten Crypt), they will be important to track down and keep in your possession when you want to advance the stage. Besides allowing you to advance, each objective also gives you a benefit if you choose to use it. You receive the loot after defeating the encounter card it is attached to. The first player claims the objective, but the effect can be shared with other players.
- Old Lantern: This is a nice objective to get, but not as powerful as the others in my eyes. The Old Lantern helps in the early game to find some important cards for you, which is nice to have, but not that useful in the late game. The Lantern can be exhausted by the first player to choose a player. That player looks at the top X cards of their deck, where X is the Discover value on the active location. This means that the Lantern can only ever be used while there is an active location that isn’t the Cursed Tomb or the Forgotten Crypt. Out of the cards that the player looks at, they can select one and add it to their hand. The other cards have to be placed on the bottom of your deck. This means that if you get to see a lot of good cards through this effect, it might be a while before you see the others again. Be sure to have some way to shuffle your deck if you want to see those cards soon again. The Old Lantern is quite useful for Council of the Wise decks, since all cards in those decks are single copies of each card, so finding the one you are looking for through this is quite nice. With no cost to using it, the added card draw will be useful at the end of the day.
- Crypt Key: It is the most useful Loot objective to find others with, and will hurt if you get this objective last. The Crypt Key has an optional response that does not require anything other than the players travelling to a Discover location. Players can use the Crypt Key to either increase or decrease the Discover value by one by exhausting the Key. This is very useful and offers a lot of flexibility during the resolution of the Discover keyword. The increased Discover keyword is nice for when you know that there are still objectives in the encounter deck and you want to find them. Getting an extra encounter card might just make the difference in finding the objective, and will otherwise drain the encounter deck faster. However, if the players are no longer searching for the objectives, then reducing the Discover value will decrease the chances of revealing a Hazard. Always trigger this Key when you own it, since it will help in either situation and doesn’t cost anything.
- Scatha’s Teeth: This is the objective that you hope to get first. The Teeth allow the controlling player to exhaust their attached hero to choose a player. That player may then lower their threat by 2. This bypasses the Moonlit Passage, as it isn’t a player card effect, so the targetted player can still lower their threat by other effects for a single point if such a location is in play. The Teeth are worth exhausting every round, so make sure that the attached hero has some sort of readying effect. In true solo, this objective can usually cause you to lose threat each round faster than you gain it, allowing you to stay in the game a little while longer. In higher player counts, this will delay players from threating out, but won’t be a long term solution on its own. Getting this objective first does allow you to keep your threat low enough to not have to engage all enemies at once, so if you have the option of picking your first objective, I would go for this one.
The enemies that stalk the ruins of old Framsburg are of the Undead type, so we are taking a break from the standard Orcs and Dragons for a change. Besides undead ghosts, the catacombs also house a few creatures that have already been covered before on the blog, so I won’t repeat myself. Check the King’s Quest article for the recap on those enemies. All enemies in this scenario are also Hazards, meaning that they can enter the staging area during the Travel phase, which might catch you unaware in earlier rounds.
- Fram’s Shade: It isn’t often that a boss enemy appears in the encounter deck, but this quest is the exception. Fram’s Shade is the final boss of this scenario and has the biggest stats to back that up. Starting out with 3/3/3/6, he will grow in strength as players advance the stage, getting +1 to all stats for each objective the players control. Fram’s Shade is also a Hazard, meaning that he can be added to the staging area for the Discover keyword. This is quite bad early on, as you might not be equipped to handle him just yet. An engagment cost of 30 is low compared to the other enemies in the encounter set, so you will have to deal with him sooner rather than later. Fram’s Shade cannot have non-objective attachments, but isn’t immune to player card effects until stage 3. This means you can trigger any event off of him. Defeating Fram’s Shade will take a little more effort than other enemies, especially later in the game. 6 hitpoints isn’t the highest on boss-level enemies though, so you will find that you can defeat him rather easily if you focus him down with some Ranged support. When defeated, Fram’s Shade will be placed in the encounter discard pile, as he lacks the victory X keyword. Only when the Cursed Tomb is in the Victory Display, does Fram’s Shade get the vistory 6 keyword, at which point killing him means you win the game. This means that stalling to kill him at stage 3 is your best strategy, waiting to kill him until you clear his tomb.
An often overlooked part of Fram’s Shade is the fact that he gets extra shadow cards when the players control more than one objective. He gets the same number of shadow cards as the players have objectives under their control. This is limited to one, meaning that the first objective won’t increase the number of shadow cards dealt to Fram. But the added unknown of up to 3 shadow cards can cause Fram’s Shade to attack more often, and hit harder. This makes fighting him quite a risk, as you never quite know what you are facing.
- Crypt Stalker: The Stalker will grow as your threat increases, though it can be a while before you have to deal with it. The 40 engagement cost means that you don’t have to deal with him right away, but if he comes down because of your threat, then he will be at his most powerful. The Crypt Stalker has X/X/X/5 for stats, where X is the tens digit of the first player’s threat. This means that Secrecy decks won’t have a problem with this enemy, though maintaining a low threat in this quest is difficult. Besides the variable stats, the Crypt Stalker will also increase your threat when he makes an attack against you. The increase is just 1 threat, but with various shadow effects, the threat gained by his attack can be increased in some situations. Dealing with the Crypt Stalker can take some effort when your threat is 30 or higher, as 3 defence and 5 hitpoints is tough to deal with. You might need 2 rounds to deal with him, but other than the increase in threat, the enemy isn’t that dangerous compared to a Werewolf.
- Evil Spectre: The final Undead enemy in this scenario hits the hardest right at the start of the game. The Evil Spectre has 4 attack, which is the point where heroes will have to start defending for you in order to save your allies (with a few high-cost exceptions). The attack stat is really the most dangerous about this enemy, since the 2 defence and 4 hitpoints can be dealt with by attackers with relative ease. However, the Evil Spectre has a final trick up its sleeve when it is defeated. If the active location has the Dark trait (which is nearly all locations except for Moonlit Passage), then instead of the encounter discard pile, the Evil Spectre is added back to the encounter deck. This increases the chances of seeing him again during the staging step, and during the Discover keyword thanks to his Hazard trait. There isn’t really anything you can do about this, except for using Revealed in Wrath or None Return on this enemy when you plan on defeating him.
The dark catacombs of Framsburg are the site of this scenario, and often have both the Ruins and Dark trait. The Dark trait allows Dwarves to have an advantage, as cards like Untroubled by Darkness can give them some good willpower boosts. The quest is also ideal for Victory Display decks, as a single location in the VD covers all traits on locations in the deck. The locations also feature the Discover keyword, which is how you find your Loot objectives. This scenario has a lot of new locations, so let’s dive in!
- The Cursed Tomb: The only unique location in the game is removed from the encounter deck at the start of the game, and only enters the staging area when the players advance to stage 3. The Cursed Tomb will usually stay in the staging area for quite a while, as the players can only travel to this location once they have found all three Loot objectives. This is the point in the game where many playthroughs struggle, so you will have the 5 threat from this location in the staging area for a while. The Cursed Tomb is also immune to player card effects, so the players cannot use any tricks to travel to this location. Once the players eventually have all the Loot objectives, it is advised to travel tot he Cursed Tomb right away, so as to not stall any longer. This will drag out Fram’s Shade from the encounter deck or discard pile if he isn’t already in play. He is added to the staging area and the encounter deck is shuffled. Fram’s Shade will now make an attack against each player in turn order, so be ready for this. Fram’s Shade is at its most powerful here, and will get the most shadow cards at this point. After the attacks, the players will have to clear the Cursed Tomb to add it to the victory display. This gives Fram’s Shade the victory X keyword, allowing the players to beat the scenario. The location has the Ruins and Dark traits, but does not have a Discover keyword. This means that Abandoned Ruins will just surge and doom each player for 2 threat. Clearing this location is mandatory.
- Cursed Tower: This is a nasty location to have sitting in the staging area, and will take priority over many other locations during the travel phase. The stats on the Cursed Tower aren’t anything out of the ordinary, just 3 threat and 3 quest points. However, the passive ability on the Tower is quite brutal, especially in decks that rely a lot on events. While the Cursed Tower is in the staging area, it gains a forced effect. This effect forces a player to raise their threat by 1 each time they play an event. This targets events played from your hand, but also from your discard pile, meaning that Elven-light will also cause a +1 in threat each time you use it. This is dangerous to keep in the staging area for long, as you will start to notice just how much you play events in this game. Multiple copies of this location also stack the threat, so clearing it will be the priority once it is revealed. Since the location has the Dark trait, it is protected from being cleared by progress if a Haunted Hall is in the staging area as well, but having just 3 quest points means that some effects can clear the Tower instantly, so you would only suffer 1 threat per Haunted Hall in the staging area. There is no penalty for travelling though, besides the Discover value of 3 on this location. This means that there is a fair chance that you reveal a Hazard for the keyword, but depending on your deck, that might be worth suffering instead of the passive on this location.
- Haunted Hall: As one of the locations with the highest stats right at the start of the game, the Haunted Hall is a location to watch out for. 4 threat being revealed from the encounter deck can mess with your math, meaning you might not clear the active location. While in the staging area, the Haunted Hall also provides a forced ability along with its 4 threat. This forced ability only triggers if the players try and clear Dark locations by placing progress on them while in the staging area. After any amount of progress is placed on a location, the player that placed the progress must raise their threat by 1. It doesn’t matter if you placed 1 progress or 5 on a single location, you raise your threat by 1. However, this is per Dark location, meaning that Northern Trackers can really bump your threat up quickly if they place one progress on all locations in the staging area. If this location is in the staging area, try and travel to it when you can, so you can potentially clear other locations in the staging area as well. Note that this effect does not protect the Moonlit Passage, as it lacks the Dark trait. The location also doesn’t protect others (or itself) from effects like Heirs of Earendil, that clear locations without having to place progress. The Discover 4 keyword is another insentive to travel here, as you have a decent chance of finding loot by looking at 4 (or 5 with Crypt Key) encounter cards. Do note that you almost certainly will find a Hazard this way, but that is the nature of the keyword.
- Moonlit Passage: The defining feature of this location is that it is the only non-Dark location, which is quite nice to have as active location, since that means you can kill the Black Bats, and certain shadow effects hit a lot less hard. The Moonlit Passage is also interesting to travel to since it removes its passive ability from the staging area. This ability is quite nasty and will prevent each player from lowering their threat by more than 1 each round through player card effects. Note that this passive does not include the threat reduction from Scatha’s Teeth or the Hidden Staircase, so there is still a chance to lower your threat. But if your deck has a lot of effects that lower your threat (which you should bring for this scenario), then exploring this location will have a high priority. The Discover 2 on the location isn’t much, so the chances of revealing a Hazard is quite low, although the chances of getting a Loot objective this way is even smaller. Not a great location to go to when digging for objectives, but it does make life easier to have this as the active location.
- Hidden Staircase: The only Hazard location in the scenario, but the Hidden Staircase can be a beneficial location if you get lucky. This location has an X value for its threat and Discover value, where X is the tens digit of the first player’s threat. This can be quite low in case of a Secrecy player or someone with the Grey Wanderer contract, but in multiplayer, the threat will change each round unless the players are in within 10 threat of each other. The Staircase can have one of the higher Discover values in the game, so travelling here when the first player has a threat of 40 or higher can reveal up to 4 (5 with Crypt Key) cards for the Discover keyword. This makes it a good location to dig through the encounter deck with, although your chances of revealing Hazards is also increased. However, if you manage to trigger the Discover value without revealing any Hazards, all players may reduce their threat by X. This can even trigger during the staging step if Abandoned Ruins forces you to trigger the Discover keyword over and over again. If the threat of this location becomes too much to handle, you can throw a Thror’s Key on this location, giving it 0 threat for the rest of the game, and no real insentive to go there anymore. This will permenantly remove a Hazard from the encounter deck, which increases your chances of lowering your threat with other copies of this location when you go there.
- Forgotten Crypt: The final location on this list might just be one of the most useful ones in reducing the time it takes to clear this scenario. That is because this location allows you to fish out an objective from the discard pile in order to bring it into play without having to get lucky with the Discover keyword. The location has the lowest stats of any location in the deck, with just 2 threat and 2 quest points, but is also immune to player cards. This means you cannot accidentally explore this location with your Northern Trackers, sending it to the victory display. A good thing too, since you really only need this location for the final objective to save time, as that is the hardest one to find. When you know that an objective is in the discard pile, you can travel to the Crypt. This does not trigger the Discover keyword, but instead triggers a Forced ability. This discards cards from the encounter deck until an Undead enemy is discarded. That enemy gets added to the staging area, and receives a Loot objective from the encounter discard pile. The objective counts as a Guarded attachment and you will have to defeat the enemy to get it back. This is much easier in most situations that clearing the location next round, so you get your objective faster. You don’t get to chose the enemy you reveal (though it has to be an Undead one), but you do get the choice of any objective in the discard pile (if there are multiple at least). Be sure to only do this when you know for certain that you have an objective in your discard pile, because otherwise you just get a random enemy without the objective. There are two copies of this location in the encounter deck, so you can guarantee 2 objectives out of the three with this strategy. You can also use these locations to get through the encounter deck faster, hoping to discard an objective through its effect so that you can return it. But this is quite tricky and I only recommend it if you have both locations in play, and only need one more objective.
Ghostbusting isn’t without risks, and this quest throws plenty of treacheries your way to delay your victory. The treacheries offer debuffs exhaustion to your characters, but can also help you to find more Loot (and Hazards) quickly. The quest also features the treacheries from Afraid of the Dark, which have been covered in the King’s Quest article already.
- Terrible Shadows: This treachery is exclusive to the Normal version of this quest, and is taken out of the encounter deck for Easy mode. This is done because the treachery is quite nasty and can cause you to spiral out of control after a turn with poor stats. The treachery has the Hazard keyword, meaning that if it is looked at during the Discover keyword, it will enter the pool of Hazards of which one has to be drawn at random. However, this is actually preferable than revealing it during the quest phase, since the willpower debuff won’t matter too much, unless you are playing with Herugrim/Golden Shield or other combat tricks that include willpower. When the treachery is revealed, each character gets a debuff in willpower, attack, and defence until the end of the round. This includes heroes, as well as allies. This can really mess with your plans, though it isn’t as bad during the late game when you should have enough buffs for your characters to be able to suffer the decrease in stats for the rest of the round. The loss in willpower during the quest phase can be a problem though, as it might mean you don’t explore the active location and won’t be able to travel this round. This treachery is worth cancelling if you are still building your boardstate and some enemies are coming down this round. There are two copies of this treachery, so characters can potentially get -2 to all stats if they hit one after another, which is a deadly combo.
- Abandoned Ruins: This is either a blessing or a curse, depending on your situation. When this treachery is revealed, each player has to resolve the Discover keyword of the active location. This means that each player must look at the top X cards, attach a Loot to the active location, and add a random Hazard to the staging area. That means that this treachery can potentially cause you to add an additional card per player to the staging area if you are unlucky. This treachery gets worse in multiplayer, where I will recommend to cancel it if you don’t think you can handle the extra Hazards. However, there a few benefits to this treachery. Solo players might struggle to find the final Loot, and repeating the Discover keyword can at least dig through the encounter deck a little faster. Since the Loot goes on the active location, you can potentially get the loot by the end of the phase if you clear the active location. The treachery can also trigger Hidden Staircase over and over again, causing the players to lower their threat by a reasonable amount if they are lucky. The shadow effect on this treachery is also quite nasty, as extra attacks by Fram’s Shade or Werewolf can really do some damage to your heroes. Have some shadow cancellation ready for this one. If this treachery appears while there is no active location, the treachery gains surge and Doomed 2.
- Slammed Shut: “The way is shut, it was made by those who are dead, and the dead keep it. The way is shut”. Well, it might be shut, but the treachery isn’t that bad compared to the rest. The Doomed 1 isn’t great, but at least it is only 1 extra point of threat. The actual danger lies in the When Revealed effect that forces each player to exhaust a character they control. Until the end of the round, player card effects cannot be used to ready characters anymore. This means that if you have readying abilities in your hand or as attachments, you would be wise to play them before the staging step of the quest phase. The treachery hits some characters harder than others, and is quite nasty in the early game. But once you manage to get an army of characters on the table, exhausting just one of them isn’t a big deal. Having the rest not ready until the end of the round might prevent some tricks, but it shouldn’t be the end of the world. Cancellation is an option, but there are worse treacheries out there with a higher priority than Slammed Shut. The Hazard keyword on this treachery does mean that you might reveal it for the Discover keyword, which isn’t great, but it is better than getting another enemy or lowering all stats by 1.
Tips and Tricks
- Bringing a low threat deck to this quest can help you out in several ways. There are a number of encounter cards that grow with your threat, and if that is low enough, then they aren’t so bad. The Crypt Stalker is a joke to Secrecy players, but higher threat decks will struggle against it.
- If you want to make sure that you get a Loot objective for the next Discover keyword, and you just discarded an objective during staging, then Shadow of the Past can save you a lot of time. Use this Neutral event to put the top card of the discard pile on top of the encounter deck, after which you can travel to your next location with the Discover keyword. It will take some luck and planning, but can shave off a few rounds of looking for Loot.
- In solo, it can happen that you run out of locations after a while. Since you’ll need locations to Discover any loot, it will be beneficial if you can manage to add some more locations to the staging area and the active location slot. Dunedain Pathfinders are a great addition to your deck for this, as well as The Hidden Way. These will allow you to find a location in the top 5 cards of the encounter deck. Do note that the Hidden Way will cause you to potentially add a Hazard to the staging area before you commit to the quest.
- Start with a Forgotten Crypt as at least one of the starting locations and keep it in the staging area for a while. Once you need to find the final piece of loot for the final stage and you know that it is in the encounter discard pile, travel to a Crypt to ensure you get the loot without having to wait forever to find it with the Discover keyword. Since there are 2 copies of this location, you can also use it to find your second Loot, if you manage to find the second location before your second objective.
- Stuck at a stage because you can’t find the next objective? Play some side-quests to kill the time and get some nice rewards for clearing them. Would be a waste of willpower to leave so much progress on the main quest when it can be used to clear side-quests.
- If you are having trouble with this scenario, try Easy mode. Not only does this remove 4 Hazards from the encounter deck, but also increases the chances of revealing a Loot objective for the Discover keyword. This does come at the increased risk to discard an objective during staging or combat, but with a thinner encounter deck you will be reshuffling sooner.
- Be sure to always have a location to travel to, but in higher player counts, be careful for a location lock, as this quest has quite a lot of locations. Clearing some in the staging area will help in keep the threat low, while also having targets to travel to.
- Not entirely sure if this works, but in theory, you could clear the Scout Ahead side-quest and add Fram’s Shade to the victory display during stages 1 and 2. Since Fram’s Shade doesn’t have printed victory points and the side-quest can target unique cards, this seems a valid strategy. This saves you from having to explore the Cursed Tomb at stage 3, finishing the quest a lot sooner than you normally would. It does involve some luck in finding him with the side-quest though.
- By that same theory, Out of the Wild also works during those times, just to give you some extra chances of sending Fram to the victory display. If you cannot find Fram through this effect, prioritize Hazard cards to be sent away, as that improves your chances for Hidden Staircase’s threat reduction.
Strap in for some long videos for this one. Not many players have attempted to record sessions of this quest, but if you have some hours to kill, here are a few playthrough videos for you.
- 2 player, progression decks: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZshiapYm9UE
- True solo, 37 round game…https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ZmxZEl6fu4
- 4 player, 3h+ video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HsBQBO2iKS0
- True solo: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gAtgualYRwU
And that concludes one of the underwhelming quests of this cycle. I like how the Discover keyword made a return, as this marked the beginning of a return to old quest formats that gets continued in the next scenario and in the next cycle! But the quest is often remembered for being the least enjoyable scenario in the cycle to play. But with this quest now covered, the blog can focus on the final scenario of the cycle, where the narrative of the cycle reaches its climax, and another amazing battle unfolds near the northern peak of Gundabad.