Middle Earth Tour: Dwarrowdelf

Welcome to the third article of the Middle Earth Tour Project. This time, we’re going underground to the Halls of Moria as we explore the Khazad-dum boxed set, released back in 2012. As always, the Tour creates Locations to represent the nicer places in Middle Earth that have a beneficial effect for the player(s). For a while, we resisted doing any Tour Locations from Moria, thinking what kind of nice Locations could you find there? But we realise that the City of Dwarrowdelf would have its own wonders for players, and particularly Dwarf heroes, to discover…

Khazad-dum Quests: Into the Pit (Moria); The Seventh Level (Moria); Flight from Moria (Moria).

Tour Locations:

Eastern Hall: As the players descend into the dark Halls of Moria, the first Quest in the set is very thematic, echoing the Fellowship’s journey in the books/movie, except that it goes from East to West. As such, some of the Locations are ‘programmed’ into the Quest, but with ‘Eastern Hall,’ we wanted to give a simple flavour of exploring a huge Hall at the start of their journey. The Hall is also inscribed with Dwarf, or Daeron’s, runes. As such, the effect of the card, a deliberate repeat of that existing player favourite, rewards players who bring into Moria either Dwarf heroes or Lore Dwarf allies who can read the runes.

Dwarf Tomb: Since the Khazad-dum set and half of the Dwarrowdelf cycle is located in Moria, we wanted to include mostly non-unique Tour Locations so that they could be used in several Quests in the cycle. They also had to have lots of Dwarf love to increase the theme and be helpful, but not too helpful, to players that brought other decks to the Halls. This Location illustrates that design focus, as it is another Event retread of a Core Set favourite that shows exactly the added bonus that Dwarf decks may get in Moria. However, it has a very short Opportunity window, so players have to get there whilst they’re passing…

Dark Dungeon: As players delve deeper into Moria, the Quests naturally get harder. ‘Flight from Moria’ can be a very swingy Quest as the Quest cards are revealed randomly. This Tour Location is another ‘rescue a prisoner’ Location, this time in Moria rather than Dol Guldur, and the Quest points needed are slightly higher. So dare a player spend the time rescuing someone from Moria’s dark depths? It’s a nice reward for sure, but the 5 Quest points and revealing another encounter card make the delay a crucial decision, so is it worth it? And you can’t think about it too long either as it has the Opportunity keyword with a small window…

The Dwarrowdelf Cycle:

Quests: The Redhorn Gate (Misty Mountains); Road to Rivendell (Misty Mountains); The Watcher in the Water (Misty Mountains); The Long Dark (Moria); Foundations of Stone (Moria); Shadow and Flame (Moria).

Mountain Cave: The start of the cycle gives players the chance to use an encounter set from the Khazad-dum box and to cross over the Misty Mountains from the outside. It’s very chilly on those mountains, though, so this Tour Location is another card that gives some respite, this time from the bitter cold weather and freezing snow. The Mountain Cave has some nice effects as an active Location, including the ability to discard those awful ‘Freezing Cold’ Treachery Attachments. It does have a very short Opportunity availability, however, and as Bilbo found out, a cave is also sometimes occupied by other things sheltering from the cold…

Hidden Campsite: ‘The Road to Rivendell’ features one of the most despised Treachery cards in the whole of the game – ‘Sleeping Sentry.’ With its beautiful, evocative artwork, this Tour Location was specifically designed as a magic bullet against it. The camp may also provide some brief respite from attacks in the night by enemies in the staging area, as well as other nasty Treachery ‘when revealed’ effects. It again only has a very short Opportunity window, however, and since the campsite is hidden rather than sheltered, it doesn’t protect you from nasty Weather or Snow effects either!

Banks of the Sirannon: The Sirannon or’ gate stream’ was a small river that threaded its way through the Misty Mountains, flowing past the Doors of Durin and eventually to the ruined Elven city of Ost-in-Edhil that appears in ‘Celebrimbor’s Secret.’ It was later dammed by orcs to create a foul lake. We reasoned that following the stream would make it easier to find your way through the mountains, which is the reason for placing progress tokens on the other Locations in the staging area. The elevated position of the Sirannon might also mean that defending against attacks might be easier, hence the bonus for Sentinel characters.

Blocked Tunnel: This simple Tour Location takes players back to Moria and was designed to simulate the many twisting tunnels and halls of ‘The Long Dark’ Quest. Characters have to roll up their sleeves to remove the rubble and rocks, and when they do, they find a secret passage behind that might lead them out – or at least to the next Quest card. If you are playing ‘The Long Dark’ as a Quest with this Tour Location, we have included the Lost mechanics, and ‘Blocked Tunnel’ is also Dark, which means it can contribute to mechanics of other Moria Quests too if included in the encounter deck.

Hall of Durin: The ‘Foundations of Stone’ Quest takes players deep into the lower halls of Moria. As such, there are some ancient artefacts of Durin to claim if you’re lucky, so we figured there must be a ‘Hall of Durin’ somewhere in the same area. This Tour Location is another great place for Dwarf characters as it is a watered-down version of a Dwarven staple Event card – ‘Durin’s Song,’ but this affects all Dwarf heroes. Even if you’re not playing a Dwarf deck, the Hall gives a player the opportunity to pick up one of the Artefact Objectives, but like many Tour Locations, it has a small Opportunity window.

Narrow Bridge:  In a Quest that puts you up against the mighty Balrog of Moria, The Tour just had to include a narrow bridge stretching across a deep chasm! But this bridge might just help you avoid a nasty Location that could be pushing up your Threat from the staging area or indeed lead you to a Location that you might need to Travel to in order to win the Quest. You only have a moderate Opportunity window, however, and if you have a lot of allies, it could be a long bridge. We did toy with the idea of adding to Archery totals whilst the Bridge is the active Location, but although a nice effect, this goes against the ideology of The Tour.

Join us next time as The Tour heads down to Gondor to explore ‘The Heirs of Numenor’ Deluxe set, and then out into the lands of Anorien as we cover Tour Locations in the ‘Against the Shadow’ cycle…

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