Because Players tend to poke around our affairs, We kidnapped one of the heroes and imprisoned him in Dol Guldur, where he will suffer. If Players think they will rescue him easily, then they must look up: Nazgul of Dol Guldur won’t allow Players to free the imprisoned hero. His terrifying scream will freeze these “courage” heroes and sow fear in their hearts. The prison in Dol Guldur can become their grave…
- Shadow effects
- Overall evaluation
- YOUR NIGHTMARE
- GOBLIN CARD
- SHADOW HORROR
And we immediately begin with the high-tonnage enemy, who guards the prisons in Dol Guldur, Dungeon Jailor. Capturing his attention is a bit hard job – he takes notice of Players at 38 Engagement cost, so they can hide for a long time before him. 1 Threat Strength won’t hurt Players much, so keeping him in the staging area seems like a good idea. However, Dungeon Jailor has one important ace in his sleeve, but We are going to talk about it in a while. We must admit, that despite his unconvincing combat skills (2 Attack), he excels in defensive skills (3 Defense + 5 Hit Points). It will delay the Player’s attempts to kill him, especially in Escape from Dol Guldur, where the number of allies (thus the combat effort) is significantly limited.
The biggest asset of Dungeon Jailor, however, doesn’t lie in his magnificent defensive skills. Despite his 1 Threat Strength, Players won’t be willing to keep him in the staging area. Why? If he occupies the staging area and at the same time Players quest unsuccessfully (that is quite possible in this scenario), he grabs one of the unclaimed objective cards (Gandalf’s Map, Shadow Key, or Dungeon Torch) and shuffles it into the encounter deck. Although Players don’t want to keep these objectives, sooner or later they have to take them, because the scenario demands it. Shuffling one of the objectives into the encounter deck can cause big trouble for Players because without it they won’t be able to finish 2 – Through the Caverns. Our perfect plan can send Players deep into the caves, from where they might not return back ever again. The slowly increasing threat or the inhabitants of Dol Guldur can end the journey of weak Players and their heroes.
Escape from Dol Guldur
The key role has Dungeon Jailor during stage 2 – Through the Caverns. When he shuffles an unclaimed objective card to the encounter deck, Players must dig through the encounter deck and find that card, or they will be eliminated. As the enemy in the engagement area, he probably won’t terrify Players as much as Nazgúl of Dol Guldur or Ungoliant’s Spawn. But he is also so resistant that it is hard to get rid of him.
Our Master Sauron had run out of his patience when he sees the impudence of Players. Their journey through Mirkwood and along the Anduin hasn’t remained unnoticed. And so he calls to the battle one of his top lieutenants, Nazgul of Dol Guldur.
It’s probably the worst enemy that Players can encounter in the Core set. Despite the renown of Hill Troll or Ungoliant’s Spawn, which were the main bosses of previous scenarios, Nazgul of Dol Guldur is a different league. Not necessary from the view of stats, but from the view of abilities. After all, this enemy is one of the Dark Riders and holder of the Ring of Power. The good combat abilities are then a matter of course. Nazgul of Dol Guldur enters the play during 2 – Though the Caverns. When Players rescue the imprisoned hero from the jail, they gain the attention of Nazgul of Dol Guldur, who immediately enters the staging area. His stats arouse horror. He engages a Player on 40 threat, thus Players have enough time to prepare for him, but 5 Threat Strength contributes to overall Threat Strength by significant share. It’s more than possible that Players won’t generate enough Willpower to beat the overall Threat Strength and so they hit 40 threat earlier than they would wish. And when this Nazgul engages the Player, the real fun is going to start. Firstly, he attacks for 4. That is less than Attack of Hill Troll or Ungoliant’s Spawn. Still, Nazgul of Dol Guldur should penetrate the armor of any character. The defending ability is exactly the same as at Hill Troll: 3 Defense and 12 Hit Points. To kill Nazgul of Dol Guldur Players would have to make a considerable effort.
If you, Players, thought this is everything of what Nazgul of Dol Guldur can do, you couldn’t be more misguided. This is Nazgul. If you thought that you can subjugate him by Forest Snare like Hill Troll, then chill out – this pitiful trick cannot be applied on Nazgul. He is immune to Player’s attachments.
The real threat lies in his attacking ability. When Nazgul of Dol Guldur attacks and simultaneously he gains a shadow card with shadow effect, which resolves, then he destroys one character. The Player can choose and discard that character on his own, still, he will lose one body able to quest/defend/attack. He won’t destroy the character if 1) the shadow card hasn’t any shadow effect, or 2) the shadow effect is canceled (for example by Hasty Stroke). These facts are only weaknesses of this enemy. Otherwise, Nazgul of Dol Guldur is able to decimate whole armies, even with heroes.
Escape from Dol Guldur
The power of this Nazgul fully manifests during 2 – Through the Caverns, when he appears. In this stage, Players cannot play more than 1 ally per group, per round. This is a very powerful limitation, which disables Players to have full control – Players struggle with having enough Willpower, Attack, and Defense. If Nazgul of Dol Guldur engages the Player and begins to destroying characters, then Players face an uncompromising death. There is a 35% chance that Nazgul of Dol Guldur gains shadow effect in Normal mode (see: https://visionofthepalantir.com/2018/01/21/escape-from-dol-guldur/), so that means a 35% chance he destroys a character. It seems not too much, but in an environment with only a few allies and heroes, Players must be naturally very nervous.
We also must show off the little cooperation between Nazgul of Dol Guldur and Ungoliant’s Spawn. When this spider enters the staging area, where Nazgul of Dol Guldur sits already, it’s very likely Players will fail in questing, thus they will approach 40 threat, which attracts Nazgul. We are certain that fighting Nazgul of Dol Guldur and Ungoliant’s Spawn at the same time can’t bring victory to Players, rather defeat and death.
Our Master calls to the battle even a long time dead warriors. They don’t feel anything: fear, shame, joy, or hatred. They are only obeying the orders, without doubts or grumbling. And so from the shadows of the dungeons appears the skeleton, Cavern Guardian.
This ancient Undead is not very strong or resistant. It enters the staging area with 2 Threat Strength, attacks with 2 Attack, and defends with 1 Defense and 2 Hit Points. It is a grateful aim for Players because they can get rid of some Threat Strength from the staging area and deal with Cavern Guardian easily. The only thing, which We appreciate on this enemy, is the new keyword “Doomed X” – that is the amount of threat, which each Player must raise. However, because Cavern Guardian has only Doomed 1, it really doesn’t hurt Player much.
We are honestly more appreciated if Cavern Guardian is revealed as the shadow card. Discarding attachments belongs to Our favourite discipline, which puts a hero at a disadvantage. A very convenient time for this shadow effect is happening during the early game when Players have played only a few attachments on their heroes, so they have only limited choice. Then it is possible that Players will discard some strong attachment, which Players tend to play as early as possible (for example, Steward of Gondor or Unexpected Courage). If Players control some objective of this scenario, it returns back to the staging area. It would be far better if an objective could be discarded, but whatever. During undefended attacks, Cavern Guardian will discard all attachments of that Player. That’s the best scenario We could imagine, of course. The stupidity is often punished.
Escape from Dol Guldur
Despite that Cavern Guardian is terrifying Undead (which is represented by keyword Doomed), Players feel relieved because it is the weakest and most fragile enemy, which can Players encounter in Escape from Dol Guldur. Against his comrades, Nazgul of Dol Guldur or Ungoliant’s Spawn, their bones are quickly scattered by Players. However, Cavern Guardian has a good value when revealed as the shadow card.
To approach the jail with a hero-prisoner is not easy at all, not just because of the sharp eyes of constantly guarding Nazgul of Dol Guldur. Dol Guldur is interlaced by Endless Caverns, which makes the finding of the prisoner more difficult. Whoever straying in Endless Caverns risks that he will alert the vigilant jailors.
This location arouses the attention mainly when it enters the game. The combo Doomed and Surge reflects, how wandering in Endless Caverns can increase the risk of Player’s revelation. Firstly, Players have to raise their threat by 1, because of Doomed 1. That’s not much, like at Cavern Guardian. Nevertheless, each increasing threat in this scenario means the moving towards Nazgul of Dol Guldur (and less time to prepare for battle). But Surge is the real threat of this location. It may bring the encounter card, which will break the necks of Players. Endless Caverns are not about their Threat Strength (1) or a number of Quest Points (3), because these parameters are not arousing horror at all. We would wish it, to be honest, but not every location arouse the respect. Endless Caverns serve as mediators, which bring more destructive and dangerous encounter cards to the play. Who knows, what is hiding beyond the corner of this location?
Escape from Dol Guldur
Of all the locations within Escape from Dol Guldur, Endless Caverns look like the most harmless. Players can ignore this location and let it be in the staging area without worrying they would be penalized anyhow. Still, if Players could decide whether to draw this location or not, We can bet that they would hesitate. Doomed 1 will raise their threat and Surge can reveal far worse encounter cards than Endless Caverns. Revealing Ungoliant’s Spawn, The Necromancer’s Reach, or Driven by Shadow… these threats can beat Players and their efforts to accomplish this scenario.
Revealing of Tower Gate could Players consider for a small victory. 2 Threat Strength combined with only 1 Quest Point seems like a perfect target for traveling, even better than Endless Caverns. However, even We hate that foolish Gandalf, he was true when he said: “I myself dared to pass the doors of the Necromancer in Dol Guldur, and secretly explore his ways.”
A surprise awaits the Players, who dare to travel into Tower Gate. Each Player must put the top card from his deck in front of him and faced down. This card represents Orc Guard. Each Orc Guard has 1 Attack, 1 Defense, and 1 Hit Point. He doesn’t belong among the strongest enemies We can call and only 2 Attack is enough to destroy him. But Players must count with him. This enemy should be defended if the Player doesn’t want to risk revealing some cool shadow effects. Then a hero would pay for a such lack of caution.
Another positive about the summoning Orc Guard includes that the Player must get rid of the top card of his deck. Maybe the top card was Gandalf, Unexpected Courage, Steward of Gondor, A Test of Will, Hasty Stroke, or another strong player card. It doesn’t matter – the card cannot be saved anymore and the Player must discard it after he defeats Orc Guard.
The main weakness of this location lies in just a single Quest Point. Any entering Snowbourn Scout, or Northern Tracker sent to the quest can fully explore Tower Gate and so avoid traveling into it.
Escape from Dol Guldur
Tower Gate is not too dangerous location, but except for Necromancer’s Pass, no location poses the real threat. Calling Orc Guard is, however, perfect when Players are doing 1 – The Necromancer’s Tower or 2 – Through the Caverns. Due to the limitation of playing 1 ally per group and per round, Players suffer from the insufficient number of characters. Orc Guard demands the attention of one Player’s defender if the Player doesn’t want to risk revealing shadow effects like Dol Guldur Orcs, Driven by Shadow, Hummerhorns, or other goodies. Undefended attacks could cruelly recoil on Players.
Each Player casts a shadow. Their shadows can be used by the treachery Under the Shadow against Players. It adds X threat to the staging area until the end of the phase, where X is the number of Players. So it may add from 1 to 4 threat, depending on the number of Players.
This treachery is… not good actually, it does not reach Our ambitions. It is surely nice that this treachery adds some threat, where other treacheries commonly don’t add any threat. However – how much it hurts to Players? Added 1 threat won’t hurt 1 Player as well as 4 threat won’t endanger 4 Players, because the more Players are in the game, the more Willpower they can generate. It might mean danger in connection with encounter cards with Surge keyword, like Endless Caverns. Still, the small boost of the overall Threat Strength within the staging area is just temporary, so in the next round, Players won’t even remember that Under the Shadow was in the game. We even bet that this treachery won’t become the target of A Test of Will ever.
And yet Under the Shadow could be so great card. X could be the number of all encounter cards presented in the staging area. Or the number of present characters. So many good alternatives. It is shame that Under the Shadow can’t stand in Our eyes.
Under the Shadow can hurt as the shadow effect, if the Player is engaged with a good number of enemies – he must raise his threat by the number of enemies he is facing. It can pay dividends mainly in the late phase of the game, or when the Players reach high threat and so enemies tend to engage him more likely. We like the shadow effect of Under the Shadow slightly more than his main effect, which is… pitiful.
Escape from Dol Guldur
Certainly, one could think that when one hero is Our prisoner, Under the Shadow could have a good effect. After all, Players play without character able to contribute Willpower. While it can be more significant in a 1-Player environment, in more Players this effect just disperse. And so, Under the Shadow harms Player most as the revealed shadow card.
What would be it for prison, where Our enemies couldn’t be shackled? If Players are too impudent, We can punish them with Iron Shackles.
This treachery sticks to the top of the first Player’s deck like a parasite, where it gains the trait “Condition attachment”. When that Player would wish to draw a card… he can’t. Iron Shackles won’t allow it. It has this effect: “The next time a player would draw 1 or more cards from attached deck, discard Iron Shackles instead.” It is a decent, but temporary restriction, valid for only one draw. At least, the Player can’t rely on the new card(s) supply at that moment. No event, no ally, no attachment – Players have to do without the new card(s).
The very important trait of Iron Shackles lies in his ability to completely neutralize any “draw-card” effect. When Iron Shackle sits on the top of the Player’s deck, the Player can’t fully utilize cards like Lórien’s Wealth, Gandalf’s Search, or abilities of Beravor, Gléowine, and Gandalf. Instead of drawing 1 or more cards, the Player must discard Iron Shackle. If the Player won’t use any such card, he will definitely discard Iron Shackles (and lose the opportunity to get the new card at that moment) in the Resource phase, when the Player should draw the new card.
The Player can baffle Our plans by playing A Test of Will (as always) or by playing Miner of the Iron Hills, who discards one Condition attachment.
Players won’t avoid the effect of Iron Shackles even when it is revealed as the shadow effect – they have to resolve its When revealed effect. No additional effect awaits on Players.
Escape from Dol Guldur
When We are preventing to play more than one ally per round for the whole group (in stages 1 and 2), it is clear that the supply of good allies can be an advantage for them. From it follows that drawing new cards can belong to the key actions of Players. Fortunately, Iron Shackles can do great work in neutralizing Player’s effort, at least temporarily.
One specific situation can arise during playing Escape from Dol Guldur: when Players are traveling into Tower Gate while Iron Shackles is attached to the top of a deck. Tower Gate forces each Player to place one card from the top of their decks, which behaves as enemies. How it corresponds with Iron Shackles? Because Iron Shackles is attached to the top of the deck (not to the card on the top of the deck, by the way) and it is uncontrollable Condition, the Player can’t get rid of Iron Shackles on their own. Even Tower Gate doesn’t get rid of Iron Shackles from the top of the deck. And so Player has to keep his deck “locked” and instead of Iron Shackles, he must place before himself the top player card, which is right below Iron Shackles. Just in case the Player would want to fool us.
What do We have here? The old Gandalf’s Map? We didn’t know that such a treasure was lying down in Our dungeons. One thing is certain: We won’t hand over it to Players just for nothing.
As with every other objective in Escape from Dol Guldur, Gandalf’s Map is Restricted and Guarded. That means one hero can bear Gandalf’s Map plus one another Restricted attachment (objective) due to Restricted limitations. That’s the first pitfall. The second lies in Guarded, which reveals the encounter card, which should “guard” this objective. Treachery is immediately resolved, while location or enemy guards the objective. The third pitfall will occur when some hero tries to grab this attachment. When it happens, the Player must raise his threat by 2. And finally, when this objective is detached from a hero, it must return to the staging area. That’s all of the basic specifics, valid for all objectives in Escape from Dol Guldur.
The holder of Gandalf’s Map is so busy with navigating in tunnels and dungeons that he can’t actually attack or defend. Gandalf’s Map forbids its holder to participate in attacking or defending efforts. We expect that Players will attach this objective to heroes, who excels in questing instead of fighting (like cursed Éowyn). At least, a Players can’t use the holder of Gandalf’s Map in distress times, when they would need to call to the battle everybody who can bear sword and shield.
Escape from Dol Guldur
From all objectives of this scenario, Gandalf’s Map brings the least danger for Players. It doesn’t hurt them, just creates a kind of limitation, which can be easily fought off. Gandalf’s Map is also the first objective, which Players grab in 1 – The Necromancer’s Tower because the other two objectives can hurt a lot if they are kept for a long time. However, one very interesting event can happen, if Dungeon Jailor lurks in the staging area and simultaneously Gandalf’s Map is still unclaimed. If Players quest unsuccessfully, Dungeon Jailor may put Gandalf’s Map into the encounter deck, and Players would have to search for it through the whole encounter deck. OR they could be forced into attaching another objective to one hero. Nor Dungeon Torch, either Shadow Key would belong to objectives, which Players wish to bear, but what to do, if they want to pass the first stage, the probability of Nazgúl of Dol Guldur encounter is growing and time is running? We wouldn’t wish to be in the skin of Players.
The light, finally! Players could be so distracted by the hopeful light source discovery that they might not realize the danger is even closer than ever before. Yes, for Our dark servants Dungeon Torch is something like a fly for a spider. And what if Dungeon Torch is even moving? Such an attraction is irresistible.
As with every other objective in Escape from Dol Guldur, Dungeon Torch is Restricted and Guarded. That means one hero can bear Dungeon Torch plus one another Restricted attachment (objective) due to Restricted limitations. That’s the first pitfall. The second lies in Guarded, which reveals the encounter card, which should “guard” this objective. Treachery is immediately resolved, while location or enemy guards the objective. The third pitfall will occur when some hero tries to grab this attachment. When it happens, the Player must raise his threat by 2. And finally, when this objective is detached from a hero, it must return to the staging area. That’s all of the basic specifics, valid for all objectives in Escape from Dol Guldur.
Dungeon Torch used to be the objective, which Players try to pick up at last. Why? The Player who controls the attached hero attracts a LOT of attention – every enemy in the sight will be heading to the light. It illustrates the Forced effect of Dungeon Torch: at the end of each round, the controller of the attached hero must raise his threat by 2. So in the first round, the Player who grabs Dungeon Torch will raise his threat by 5: 2 for grabbing itself, 2 for the Forced effect, and 1 at the end of each Refresh phase. In the next rounds, the Player will raise his threat by 3 at a minimum. That’s 8 raised threat within 2 rounds, 11 threat within 3 rounds, etc. It’s very clear that Players will fall into Our trap. The only “cure” on Dungeon Torch’s effect is reducing threat by cards like The Galadhrim’s Greetings.
Escape from Dol Guldur
More threat means more attention and a higher likelihood of defeat. 50 threat threshold is far closer with each round. The enemies with quite high Engagement cost have a higher probability to encounter Players. Chieftan Ufthak, Nazgúl of Dol Guldur, or Hummerhorns may easily assault the Player sooner than he would expect. And Ungoliant’s Spawn? It may even accelerate already very fast threat growth.
Is Shadow Key the key guaranteeing the way out? Could it unlock some uncommon treasure? Or does it have some darker purpose? A hero who grabs it will feel its sucking and destructive magic in a moment.
As with every other objective in Escape from Dol Guldur, Shadow Key is Restricted and Guarded. That means one hero can bear Shadow Key plus one another Restricted attachment (objective) due to Restricted limitations. That’s the first pitfall. The second lies in Guarded, which reveals the encounter card, which should “guard” this objective. Treachery is immediately resolved, while location or enemy guards the objective. The third pitfall will occur when some hero tries to grab this attachment. When it happens, the Player must raise his threat by 2. And finally, when this objective is detached from a hero, it must return to the staging area. That’s all for the basic specifics, valid for all objectives in Escape from Dol Guldur.
Whoever picks up Shadow Key will suffer 1 damage each round. Each round such a hero is closer and closer to death, no matter how strong he is or what defense he has. Even the strongest, non-injured heroes (with 5 Hit Points, like Aragorn, Gimli, or Glorfindel) will surely die in 5 rounds. We are smiling when watching the hero’s slow death. However, the damned Lore sphere has the power to slow down the gradual magic infection by using healing spells like Lore of Imladris, Daughter of Nimrodel, Glorfindel, or Beorn’s Hospitality. Without this sphere, if Players won’t escape Our dungeons in a few rounds, the holder is condemned to the death and Players to defeat.
Escape from Dol Guldur
If Players miss healing spells, even the most resistant heroes will die within 5 rounds. Revealing The Necromancer’s Reach or shadow effect of Hummerhorns will even shorten their lifeway. And We don’t even mention the fact that the holder of Shadow Key is frequently not being called into the fights with enemies, because it could be considered a hazard to his life. Because of that, Players try to rush through stage 3 – Out of the Dungeons, when the attached hero is still alive.
Enemies of Escape from Dol Guldur could be described as good, bad, and ugly. Nazgul of Dol Guldur brings only doom and death on his wings as it should be on the loyal servant of Our master. Cavern Guardian lies on the opposite spectrum – he probably brings just mockery to Players, because it is very weak and fragile Undead. Dungeon Jailor arouses disgust because he is fat… okay, not only because of that. He might shuffle any objective back to the encounter deck, which makes him an unpleasant enemy if lurking in the staging area.
Instead of wandering in large and dark dungeons and revealing dangerous locations, Players won’t have much work to deal with both locations, Endless Caverns and Tower Gate. Tower Gate promises sort of delay and combat, however, only a single Quest Point and no immunity against effects from Player cards can’t stop placing progress tokens from cards like Snowbourn Scout. Endless Caverns doesn’t arouse the respect as for Quest Points and Threat Strength. At least, it may bring a more dangerous card due to Surge keyword.
Treacheries provide only poor consolation since neither Under the Shadow nor Iron Shackles put up great resistance to Players. The temporary raising of threat in the staging area could work, but not on the basis of the number of Players. Iron Shackles prevents drawing some card – that works as a good delay if Players need new card support. But they will probably survive it without issues. Thus, Escape from Dol Guldur won’t be famous for its treacheries.
From all types of encounter cards, objectives are exceptional and uncommon. Not every encounter set includes them. Objectives can have positive or negative effects for Players, depends if they work with or against Sauron’s forces. Escape from Dol Guldur contains objectives, which hurts Players. Paradoxically, they are actually the most dangerous type of encounter cards of the whole set. Gandalf’s Map cripples the hero to whom it is attached because he cannot fulfill combat duties. Dungeon Torch accelerates the threat generation, so keeping it for a longer time means dealing with enemies with the higher threat (Nazgul of Dol Guldur, Hummerhorns) and of course, 50 threat threshold approaches by leaps and bounds. Finally, Shadow Key is gradually killing the holder. It can get rid of one of Our enemies if the Player won’t find a way, how to heal him.
We are proud of the objectives – they might bring a bigger doom than both locations and treacheries together.
From all shadow effects, only that from Cavern Guardian worths mentioning. Discarding attachments can be dangerous and troublesome, while the rest of the shadow effects don’t harm Players considerably.
The quality of Escape from Dol Guldur elevates only a few things: quests, Nazgul of Dol Guldur, and objectives. Only these cards, with other encounter sets, makes the scenario Escape from Dol Guldur one of the toughest and Our most favourite one from all scenarios. The rest of the encounter cards (locations, treacheries, some enemies, and shadow effects) are creating a dismal, useless filling, which doesn’t worth it to Our Lord Sauron.
Overall Danger level of the set
Nazgul of Dol Guldur represents distant, but constantly present danger, which is approaching with each raising threat. When comes down to the staging and to the engagement area subsequently, hopes on the quick end are misplaced. Impressive stats and ability, which discards any defender if his Attack is boosted by a shadow effect, must terrify Players. Additionally, when Players can play only 1 ally per group per the whole round (in stages 1 and 2), then We understand why Players are trembling with fear.
Escape from Dol Guldur contains many weak cards – many of them are not worthy of Our Master’s attention. Under the Shadow belongs among them and it is probably the most useless encounter card in the whole set. It hardly influences Players considerably, though there exists a theoretical chance that Players won’t quest successfully due to its revelation. Nor its shadow effect won’t please Our Master, unfortunately.
From all 3 shadow effects, just Cavern Guardian owns shadow effect, which worths the attention. If Players undervalue defensive duties, they might lose all attachments, including objectives. Non-boosted heroes facing Nazgul of Dol Guldur? Ooh, We are “so sorry”.:P