Encounter Set Review: The Hunt for Gollum

Gollum is hiding behind the bushes in the Anduin Valley and is carefully watching the heroes, who are searching for him. Gollum is completely motionless; he doesn’t want to be caught. And WE will keep Gollum hidden before the eyes of these foolish heroes. Meanwhile, the heroes discover the new sign of Gollum and fix their eyes on a bush, where Gollum is crouching. However, Hunters from Mordor suddenly ambush them. They know what to do because they are professional hunters of Gollum hunters.

Summary review

Enemies

Locations

Treacheries

Objectives


Enemies

Goblintown Scavengers

Goblintown Scavengers is an example of an enemy who won’t terrify players by the strength of arms or genius tactic planning. It’s not his target to compete with characters in combat. With stats 1-1-0-3 and 12 Engagement cost, it actually is not possible. Defeating Goblintown Scavengers won’t make any issue for heroes and allies, but before the combat, when Players just reveal this enemy, they might experience unpleasant consequences. Each Player must reveal the top card of their decks and discard them. The total printed cost of all discarded cards will adjust the Threat Strength of Goblintown Scavengers until the end of the phase. Discarding top cards of Player decks itself can be bothersome for Players (if they discard some good, powerful cards). However, the best thing about this ability is that the costs of cards will increase the overall Threat Strength of Goblintown Scavengers until the end of turn. If Players rely on the expensive, powerful cards (like the damned wizard Gandalf), their weapons can turn against them. The more Players with more expensive cards are in the game; the easier and more spectacular is the boost of the Threat Strength of this enemy.

The unpredictability of the ability makes Goblintown Scavengers a bit vulnerable, however. In one game, with 2 Players, for example, Goblintown Scavengers discards Gandalf and Northern Tracker, and boom, the enemy with 10 Threat Strength appears before the Players. That will probably cause unsuccessfully questing. But if Goblintown Scavengers discards Snowbourn Scout and Stand and Fight (printed X = 0), he will get ridiculous +1 Threat Strength. There is no way, to improve the efficiency of the ability since Players tend to build decks from cheaper cards (ranging from 0-3 cost) than from heavy-weight cards (4 and more cost). Discarding expensive cards is thus a matter of big luck rather than the rule. It follows that Goblintown Scavengers can truly harm in the 4-Players game, where the revealing of high-cost cards is the most likely. 

The Hunt for Gollum

Despite the unpredictable ability, Goblintown Scavengers is a very nice addition and support to other encounter cards with high Threat Strength. Players must reckon with the Threat Strength of Hunters from Mordor and some powerful locations like The Old Ford. If these cards are supported by the revelation of Goblintown Scavengers, Players might get into a serious problem, which can lead to location lock (that’s a very probable scenario). In multiplayer games, We wish to reveal Goblintown Scavengers together with Pursued by Shadow, alternatively Treacherous Fog.

Danger level


Hunters from Mordor

The Hunt for Gollum does not abound with (strong) enemies. We can send into the fight Goblintown Scavengers, Eastern Crows, and Misty Mountain Goblins, but their task apparently doesn’t lie in combat. However, if Players decide to let their warriors rest and not include them into the decks, they would make a fatal mistake. Hunters from Mordor will track them down and annihilate them.

This Mordor with 34 Engagement cost is a professional hunter of those who keep Clues – in this scenario, Signs of Gollum (I’ll be freely “jumping” between the names Clues and Signs of Gollum because both names are synonyms – there is no other card with trait Clue in this scenario). His default stats (2-2-2-6) should arouse respect among Players; it’s not banality to kill him. However, for each Clue in play, Hunters from Mordor gains +2 Threat Strength and +2 Attack. Hunters from Mordor don’t need attached Signs of Gollum to heroes for gaining boost – it is enough when Signs of Gollum is present in the game, for example, like a guarded card.

Any upgrade of Threat Strength will cause a problem to Players. With only one Clue in the game, Hunters from Mordor will have above-standard 4 Threat Strength. With all Clues in the game, Hunters from Mordor will scare Players with hardly believable 10 Threat Strength! With 5 copies of this enemy presented in the encounter deck, players might not be able to quest effectively. Their effort will disintegrate on the “threat shield” built by Hunters from Mordor + don’t forget, The Hunt for Gollum contains locations with quite high Threat Strength (The East Bank, The West Bank, The Old Ford). Even if this Mordor creature wasn’t a good combatant, it would terrify questers.

But that’s not all. +2 Attack for each Clue in the game simply means that Hunters from Mordor has the potential to destroy any character. Players cannot cancel such effect by A Test of Will because it is passive, printed, non-When-revealed ability. With a maximum of 10 Attack, Hunters from Mordor will sow destruction in the ranks of Player characters. Moreover, Players can’t avenge their losses too easily because they have to overcome 2 Defense with 6 Hit Points – Players need 8 Attack to beat this enemy in total.

Shadow effect

How powerful is Our servant indicates his shadow effect, which without exaggeration affects the whole game. Hard to say if We love Hunters from Mordor more as part of Our army or as the revealed shadow effect. The shadow effect deals 1 damage to each hero with attached Clue and 3 damage instead of the attack of this enemy is undefended. It has the following consequences: 1) It makes heroes more vulnerable to other damage. Claimed Signs of Gollum are attached to quester, and questers tend not to have many Hit Points (for example, Éowyn). The repetitive damage from Hunters from Mordor’s shadow effect can send hero(es) right into the graveyard. 2) Players are commonly forced to defend with their characters because undefended attacks can cause monumental massacre among heroes (3 damage to each hero with attached Clue). It moreover creates big pressure on Players to call out a sufficient number of defenders. 3) Due to the ability of Signs of Gollum, damaged and dead heroes return their Clues back to the top of the encounter deck. That means another “guard,” another attempt to quest successfully, another delay, and the possibility of returning from stage 3 – On the Trail to stage 2 – A New Terror Abroad. Hunters from Mordor can very quickly and effectively thwart the progress of Players.

The Hunt for Gollum

Hunters from Mordor perfectly fits into this encounter deck. It creates very good symbiosis among other cards. “The passive” danger arises from cumulating Threat Strength of Hunters from Mordor (more Clues in-game = higher Threat Strength) with Threat Strengths of other cards, respectively locations, which have high Threat Strength all by themselves. A very powerful combo happens when on Hunters from Mordors are revealed shadow effects of The East BankOld Wives’ Tales may paralyze defending ranks of Players; thus, the chance of undefended attacks or destroying the valuable character rapidly increases. Good to mention also revealed the shadow effect of Massing at Night on Hunters from Mordor, which can increase the chance of bringing the shadow effect of other Hunters from Mordor. On the other hand, all returned Clues into the encounter deck decrease Threat Strength and Attack of this Mordor back to default stats. And False Lead can cause the same thing, so it is better when both cards work separately from each other.

Danger level

Shadow level


Locations

The Old Ford

We often expect that Players want to win the game by the number of summoned allies. More allies, more strength, they think. Okay adventurers, then eat this: The Old Ford. X Threat Strength here means the number of allies in play. The Old Ford is the reason why should Players leave their strategy “the more allies on the board, the easier win.” Every additional ally means a higher chance of not being successful during the questing. Because the average Threat Strength of locations in The Hunt for Gollum is 2.5, the high X Threat Strength of The Old Ford can cause an uncompromising location lock. It evidently shines mainly in multiplayer games and games, where Players rely on a great number of cheap allies. However, The Old Ford has only 2 Quest Points, so it is easy prey for Snowbourn Scout or Northern Tracker.

Shadow effect

If The Old Ford’s main effect can cause inconvenience and possible location lock, as a shadow effect it may cause a real disaster. Players would have to get rid of all allies with a printed cost lower than the number of Riverland locations in play. For example, if there are 4 Riverland locations in play, Players must discard each ally with 3 and lower cost. In The Hunt for Gollum, We have prepared in total 13 Riverlands = 27 % of all encounter cards. That’s not a small number.  Note that even the active location belongs to “Riverland locations.” If Players rely on many cheap allies, this shadow effect can destroy almost the whole army. As a result, heroes would stay alone against Hunters from Mordor, the terror of this scenario.

The Hunt for Gollum

The effectiveness of The Old Ford depends on that if The Hunt for Gollum is the type of scenario forcing Players to include many allies. Enemies make up 27% of this scenario. Passage Through Mirkwood, Journey Along the Anduin and Escape from Dol Guldur contain in the range 37-42% of enemies. Objectively, Players are not forced to play with many allies here, but it has one exception: Hunters from Mordor. This Mordor (in 5 copies) can reach a very high Attack, which can endanger the lives of heroes. We are expecting that Players will play cheap allies in order to protect heroes. The revealed shadow effect of The Old Ford can nastily mess up their plans because if defending ally is due to this effect discarded; all damage will be dealt to a poor hero.

Danger level

Shadow level


The Eaves of Mirkwood

Except for Riverland locations, which are almost exclusive for The Hunt for Gollum, Players may encounter The Eaves of Mirkwood. 2 Threat Strength and 2 Quest Points are very poor statistics for a location. Moreover, this card doesn’t own any immunity against Player cards so it can be easily explored by damned allies Snowbourn Scout and Northern Tracker. While The Eaves of Mirkwood is an active location, Players are not allowed to cancel effects from encounter cards. We consider it for good prevention against A Test of Will or Eleanor’s ability. After all, canceling Our encounter cards effects belongs among the most bothersome things Players have. However, for how long can The Eaves of Mirkwood hold as the active location? Probably for just a single round, because 2 Quest Points isn’t a serious barrier. So it’s quite little chance that Players will draw some encounter card with a good effect while The Eaves of Mirkwood is active.

The Hunt for Gollum

The usefulness of The Eaves of Mirkwood is directly proportional to the degree of danger of encounter cards with “When revealed” effects. The most dangerous “When revealed” effect has Old Wives’ Tales, which discards resources, alternatively exhausts heroes. False Lead can return Players from stage 3 (On the Trail) to stage 2 (A New Terror Abroad) if Players have to shuffle the last controlled Signs of Gollum. If Players can’t pull out A Test of Will due to the active The Eaves of Mirkwood, We consider it for successful sabotage. The last good combo with The Eaves of Mirkwood creates Massing at Night, which adds cards according to the number of Players in-game. Other “When revealed” effects (Pursued by Shadow, Flooding, etc.) are more situational and don’t necessarily have to create an effective combo with The Eaves of Mirkwood. We would like to see The Eaves of Mirkwood with more Quest Points or within the company of even more dangerous encounter cards with “When revealed” effects, then We would be proud of this location. However, it’s so easy to explore this location that its good combo-potential might not get into the game at all.

Danger level


River Ninglor

River Ninglor offers more complexity and better tactical usage than the previous The Eaves of Mirkwood. Clearly, from the number perspective, this location has 2 Threat Strength and 4 Quest Points – it takes a bit longer time to explore it. When a Player chooses River Ninglor for the active location, he must remove 1 progress token from it and 1 from the current quest at the of each turn. One step forward, two steps backward – that’s the correct parable of this nice treacherous location. After all, it’s a river, isn’t it?

River Ninglor does an astounding job when Players are in danger of the location lock. We are preparing for Players many good locations: The Old Ford, The East Bank, The West Bank, each of them has a high “location-lock-potential.” Now imagine the Player chooses River Ninglor as the active location. With a high total Threat Strength in the staging area, Players will naturally quest with difficulty. However, even if they reach some success and put some progress tokens on River Ninglor (without fully exploring), at the end of each turn We destroy 1 progress token, one on the active location, and one on the current quest. We turn the Players’ progress the opposite way – they start to lose the progress and the game control. The main goal of this location is clear – to take away the attention from gathering Clues, forcing Players to mainly focus on generating maximum Willpower for the quest progression.

Shadow effect

River Ninglor’s shadow effect influences the current quest (not the active location!). How? It removes 1 progress token from the current quest, 2 progress tokens instead if the Attack is undefended. Not very powerful; it just delays Players a bit from the quest progression. Even if the Attack is undefended, River Ninglor won’t harm significantly. Better to reveal this card as a location than shadow effect.

The Hunt for Gollum

The “delay-strategy” worsens mainly when the location lock occurs or in synergy with other cards with similar effect, like Misty Mountain Goblins (who removes 1 progress token during each attack; as a shadow effect, it also removes progress tokens from the current quest). Flooding does not cooperate with this location at all; at most it removes all progress tokens from River Ninglor.

Danger level

Shadow level


The East Bank

During The Hunt for Gollum, Players may stray on The East Bank. With 3 Threat Strength and 3 Quest Points, Players will try to get rid of this location as fast as possible. But while this location is active, ally cards of all Players cost 1 additional matching resource. Creating pressure on resources is a very smart move from Us, how to slow down Players’ efforts. Allies belong undoubtedly among the key component of any Player deck. More allies, more work for Our servants. We surely can harm allies in battle or due to the effect of some treacheries (like The Necromancer’s Reach), but We use more cunning ways as well. Like The East Bank – when active, Players must pay 1 additional cost for each ally. This way actually doesn’t touch allies at all; they can still be played – they just burden the resource management. So for Snowbourn Scout Players must pay 2 resources instead of 1, for Winged Guardian 3 resources instead of 2, for Beorn, even 7 resources instead of 6, etc. – Players lose resources, which they could spend elsewhere. They will have worsened conditions to play more cards, not only allies but also events and attachments.

There is one exception that The East Bank can’t influence – the Neutral allies. They won’t cost 1 additional resource, because the Neutral sphere “belongs to no sphere of influence, requires no resource match to play. This means that they can be paid for with resources from any hero’s pool. Also, when paying for a neutral card, a player may combine resources from heroes with different resource icons.” (LOTR LCG, Rules of Play). So, no 6 resources for Gandalf, unfortunately.

Shadow effect

If Players will avoid attaching Clues as much as possible (because of Hunters from Mordor’s shadow effect), it won’t help them too much. If the Players don’t control the hero with attached Signs of Gollum (= Clue), the attacking enemy will return to the staging area after the Attack is resolved. This shadow effect doesn’t hide its ambitions – to target the dreadful Hunters from Mordor. No other enemy is more suitable for The East Bank’s shadow effect. The inability to return a blow to this enemy must be quite frustrating.

The Hunt for Gollum

With Hunters from Mordor on the horizon, Players could try to overcome them with numerous allies. But The Hunt for Gollum won’t allow that easily. Firstly, the number of allies boosts the Threat Strength of The Old Ford in the staging area, which could simply lead into the location lock. Secondly, The East Bank will limit Players, how many allies they can afford. The East Bank also corresponds with Flooding, which will get rid of all progress tokens from it, and partially with False Lead – it shuffles one Clue from the hero back to the encounter deck, and if the Players misses any Clues, it can trigger the shadow effect of The East Bank, that means it returns the attacking enemy back to the staging area. Regardless of the fact that with no Clue controlled, Players will have to return from stage 3 – On the Trail to stage 2 – A New Terror Abroad.

Danger level

Shadow level


The West Bank

The East Bank has a twin – The West Bank. Both locations share the same Threat Strength (3), Quest Points (3), and of course, trait (Riverland). Their abilities are relatively similar. While The East Bank as an active location makes allies 1 cost more expensive, The West Bank aims at attachments and events. In other words, attachments and events cost 1 additional matching resource to play while this location is active. Same as The East Bank, The West Bank’s ability doesn’t affect Neutral cards since they don’t belong to any sphere of influence.

Allies bother Us very much here; there can be no question about that. The East Bank does a good job slowing down the ally supply. Nevertheless, The West Bank is more powerful in Our eyes. Why is that? Well, it’s not even about attachments, Players can do without them quite comfortably (of course, more expensive Steward of Gondor and Unexpected Courage won’t make Players happy, and that’s Our main goal :)). The real threat for Players are events with unfavorable cost. Allies and attachments can be played only in the Planning phase, so Players are used to planning their arrival in advance. It’s no surprise for Players at all. However, events frequently react to the current situation on the board – they can be played in any action window within any phase. If a Player wants to react to some revealed treachery, The West Bank can make this event more expensive, and that might cause a big issue for the Player. If he misses enough resources, it may cause the Players not to be able to play desired events at all – and that could influence the game quite significantly, (for example, if Players want to react on Old Wives’ Tales by A Test of Will). Of course, this location makes more expensive other very nasty events like Feint, Sneak Attack or Secret Paths. This issue is amplified within multi-sphere decks.

Shadow effect

While The East Bank and The West Bank have very similar effects and stats, they absolutely differ in the shadow effect. If Players don’t control any Clue, the attacking enemy doubles his base Attack. It sounds great, but it boosts just the base Attack, not the improved Attack. In practice, Hunters from Mordor will always gain from this shadow effect +2 Attack, because his base Attack is 2, absolutely regardless of their ability (which adds +2 Attack and +2 Threat Strength for each Clue in play). Naturally, that goes for other enemies.

The Hunt for Gollum

The West Bank serves mainly as the support of treacheries against A Test of Will or shadow effects against Hasty Stroke. Both Player cards can make Us angry when played; however, The West Bank as an active location can thwart Players’ plans. As for the shadow effect, False Lead can make that effect happen if the shuffled Clue was the last in play. Otherwise, The Hunt for Gollum lacks more and stronger enemies than Hunters from Mordor, who has 2 base Attack. Revealed on other enemies in this scenario (Misty Mountain Goblins, Eastern Crows, Goblintown Scavengers), add only +1 Attack, which is a very poor value (still, it might surprise allies and heroes).

Danger level

Shadow level


Treacheries

False Lead

The Hunt for Gollum is based on searching and fighting for Signs of Gollum. Not controlling them may cause a significant delay because Players will jump between 2 – A New Terror Abroad and 3 – On the Trail. On the other hand, controlling Signs of Gollum will always attract watchful Hunters from Mordor, who is gaining strength with the number of Clues in play. The treachery False Lead belongs among the encounter cards, which have a task to hide Signs of Gollum and make the searching more difficult. When revealed, the First Player must choose and shuffle one Clue (= Signs of Gollum) to the encounter deck. If Players have shuffled the last controlled Clue while occurring in stage 3 – On the Trail, they have to return to stage 2 – A New Terror Abroad. That means further 10 Quest Points and revealing more encounter cards during the Quest phase. The searching for Gollum prolongs as well…

Another scenario is set when there is some Clue in the game, but Players are not controlling it, and they are not occurring in stage 3. Both unguarded and guarded Clues will be shuffled, but the difference is that the guardians of Clues (enemies and locations) won’t be discarded or shuffled as well – they will remain in-game as other proper enemies and locations.

Players could think they will avoid the False Lead’s effect when none of the Clues are currently on the board. No chance, dear adventurers! False Lead is prepared even for this third scenario: if there is no Clue on the board, False Lead gains Surge. We love these kinds of cards, which has “plan B.” Unlike many encounter cards from the Core set, which lack plan B, False Lead just cannot go wrong – either it shuffles Clues and delays the Player progression, or it brings another juicy surprise.

The Hunt for Gollum

We have already described Our joy, how False Lead can slow down Players’ efforts to find some Clues needed for 3 – On the Trail. But False Lead also creates an interesting combo with locations The East Bank and The West Bank, more precisely with their shadow effects. If Players don’t control any Clue, it triggers the shadow effects of both locations: either the attacking enemy will return to the staging area after Attack, or the enemy’s base Attack is doubled. 

But it has a darker side: False Lead might weaken Hunters from Mordor, whose power is proportional to the number of Clues. It doesn’t work well when Hunters from Mordor threatens Players with high Threat Strength and Attack, but he loses his boost afterward when False Lead is revealed. These encounter cards just don’t cooperate; damn work!

Danger level


Flooding

The previous treachery False Lead slows down the progress of Players in the game by shuffling the Clues, the main object of their interest. The treachery Flooding is able to slow down Players’ efforts as well but in a bit different way. When Players encounter this card, firstly, they must deal with 2 keywords, which We are proud of: Surge and Doomed. No Player card is able to cancel these effects, so Players must reconcile with 1) new revealed encounter card from the encounter deck, and 2) increased threat by 1. Both keywords are good separately, but altogether it creates a very powerful mix.

The main effect captures the essence of “flood”: it removes all progress tokens from all Riverland locations in play. All progress reached on Riverland locations will vanish in the twinkling of an eye. That sounds quite well and useful, but such an effect worths it on locations with many Quest Points. Locations from The Hunt for Gollum have between 2-4 Quest Points, so the effectiveness of Flooding has its own limits. Nevertheless, it wipes any progress achieved by Northern Tracker, Our main arch-enemy, and by Snowbourn Scout, Legolas, and Strength of Will to a lesser extent. The revelation of Flooding is also worth it while Players are facing location lock.

Shadow effect

When Players reveal the shadow effect of Flooding… nothing special happens. They just resolve its “when revealed” effect, which removes all progress tokens from every Riverland location.

The Hunt for Gollum

As We pointed out, Flooding would be powerful in Riverlands locations with a high number of Quest Points. There are 4 types of Riverland locations in The Hunt for the GollumThe East Bank, The West Bank, River Ninglor, The Old Ford, and finally Banks of the Anduin from the encounter set Journey Along the Anduin. The most Quest Points has River Ninglor – 4. Other has 2 or 3 Quest Points. Why Flooding doesn’t belong among the strongest treacheries is evident: locations tend to be explored sooner before Flooding does significant harm. Removing like 1 or 2 Quest Points won’t delay Players’ effort too much if they don’t face location lock. Therefore, the main goal of this treachery is to aggravate the work of Northern Tracker and other “put-progress-tokens cards,” and bring the uncertainty in the form of increased threat and newly revealed encounter cards.

Danger level

Shadow level


Old Wives’ Tales

Players hate The Hunt for Gollum mainly for two reasons: Hunters from Mordor and Old Wives’ Tales. While Hunters from Mordor is a visibly great threat, Old Wives’ Tales hits the scene much more inconspicuously (3 copies of it) but with significant impact, especially in the early phase and during setup.

This Gossip will discard 1 resource from each hero’s resource pool. That’s the first part of this treachery. If any hero lacks resources, then We activate plan B: We exhaust heroes who couldn’t discard resources from their pools. It’s difficult to say which effect We are happier about. The first part of Old Wives’ Tales discards resources otherwise usable for playing Player cards and abilities. It would mean a little mishap from one hero, but from every hero, it drastically affects the Players’ plans. In a multi-sphere deck, the devastation of plans is even stronger. Heroes, whose abilities are dependent on resources (Aragorn, Glorfindel, etc.), will cry hard, not even speaking about cards for which Players frequently save “reserve resources” (A Test of Will, Hasty Stroke, Feint, etc.). 

The second part of Old Wives’ Tales describes what happens if any hero lacks resources. Players could think: “to prevent losing resources let’s spend all resources, better to pay for some cards than just discard resources.” Such an idea would cause a hard, merciless consequence direct to Players. All heroes without resources would have to exhaust; thus, they would be missing in any further action until the end of turn unless Players would use Unexpected Courage, Westfold Horse-Breaker, or other cards with “readying effect.” Of course, it follows that heroes couldn’t take part in combat. Hunters from Mordor like to take advantage of such a happy opportunity because the defensive ranks of Players are very disconcerted in that moments. Moreover, Players will hardly respond to such a crisis.

The nature of Old Wives’ Tales suggests that the biggest impact is during the setup, just before the very first round. Players don’t have the opportunity to spend any resources during setup (so no heroes will exhaust). However, with no resources, Players won’t play anything except for 0-cost cards. We then gain a good advantage in the form of a better starting position.

The Hunt for Gollum

With the reduced amount of resources, Players will summon allies only with difficulty. It could be an advantage against The Old Ford, but on the other side, Players would have to defend with heroes against Hunters from Mordor. And if Old Wives’ Tales exhaust some heroes, the selection of defending bodies narrows even more. It’s not impossible that Players could stay absolutely defenseless. However, this treachery loses shine when Players have already secured resources (in mid-game or later game), or if some of the heroes have attached Steward of Gondor. This attachment lowers the chance of an exhausting hero.

Danger level


Objectives

Signs of Gollum

The main goal of Players is to find enough Clues, which guide them right to the Gollum. Our goal is to make it as unpleasant as possible, ideally to cover Gollum’s tracks completely. In other words: We are fighting for Signs of Gollum.

Signs of Gollum are the only Clues in the game – therefore, when any effect speaks about Clue, it actually speaks about Signs of Gollum. As a Guarded objective, Players must reveal another encounter card, which will serve as the guardian of Signs of Gollum. The most dangerous and tenacious guardian is Hunters from Mordor, for sure. If Players get rid of the guardian (by defeating the enemy or exploring the location), they can gain this Clue after successful questing. When it happens, they may claim it = attach it to a hero committed to the quest. From that moment, attached Signs of Gollum is Condition attachment with this Forced effect: “After attached hero is damaged or leaves play, return this card to the top of the encounter deck.” Signs of Gollum misses an ability, which would directly harm his bearer (on the contrary of the objectives in Escape from Dol Guldur). Instead, it has a negative effect for Players if something happens to the bearer – in other words, damaging, killing, or discarding. From it implies Players must be very careful when they claim Signs of Gollum because any damage to the hero-holder returns this objective back to the top encounter deck; thus, the whole cycle will start again from scratch.

The Hunt for Gollum

When a hero claims Signs of Gollum, it doesn’t mean Players are over the hump. Many encounter cards target the hero with attached Signs of Gollum or Signs of Gollum itself. Hunters from Mordor are awesome professionals with regard to searching the Clues. When this enemy feels the Clue, it improves his Threat Strength and Attack. But the most effective combo happens when Hunters from Mordor is revealed as the shadow effect – 1 damage to every holder of Signs of Gollum, 3 damage instead if the attack was undefended. It weakens the holders by decreasing their Hit Points and additionally returns all Clues under Our control again. Particularly, the version of 3 damage to each holder of Clue has the potential to kill heroes. The next cards, which speak with Signs of Gollum, are shadow effects of locations The East Bank and The West Bank. Finally, False Lead just takes one of the Clues and hides it into the encounter deck. Even a bit forgotten Evil Storm can under perfect circumstances (with 35 threat or higher), return Signs of Gollum to the encounter deck.

Danger level


Summary review

Enemies

Although The Hunt for Gollum doesn’t offer a big variability of enemies, We can’t say enemies are the weakness of this encounter set. Well, Goblintown Scavengers and other enemies from previous encounter sets are not Our strongest soldiers, to be honest. However, Players shouldn’t resign on the sufficient number of allies because Hunters from Mordor can eliminate every character he faces or lock the staging area. He needs just enough of Signs of Gollum; that’s his secret. 5 copies of this enemy secure that Players won’t avoid him during the game.

Danger level


Locations

Players will hunt for the Gollum; thus, they can rely on discovering and exploring many locations within this scenario. The twins The East Bank and The West Bank “attack” on resource management – they make Player cards more expensive than usual. It’s a very smart strategy from Us, which torments Players. River Ninglor uses another delay strategy – it doesn’t want to be explored; it defends itself against successful exploration by removing 1 progress token from it at the end of the round. The Old Ford is much more straightforward – it doesn’t hide its clear intention to lock the staging area completely. To what extent is this location dangerous depends on Players, how many allies they call. The last location, The Eaves of Mirkwood, has a very situational effect. Disabling the option to cancel encounter card effects deserves applause. However, The Eaves of Mirkwood has only 2 Quest Points, so it won’t last long as the active location, unfortunately.

Danger level


Treacheries

Each in the trio of treacheries has a different goal: False Lead shuffles one of the Clue into the encounter deck to delay the Players’ progression. Flooding removes progress tokens from Riverland locations. Old Wives’ Tales targets heroes: it discards resources or exhausts characters. We admire the work of Old Wives’ Tales the most. It can completely ruin Players’ plans who either can’t afford to play certain cards or they lose the support of some exhausted heroes. The other 2 treacheries are not so dangerous and uncompromising.

Danger level


Objectives

Signs of Gollum itself doesn’t harm their holders directly. However, it “marks” the target on the attached hero and makes him vulnerable against the damaging shadow effect of Hunters from Mordor. And if Players don’t want to control this objective? Then they have to reconcile with nasty shadow effects of The East Bank and The West Bank. No, Signs of Gollum will bring problems to Players no matter if they control it or not, if they want it or not.

Danger level


Shadow effects

Half of the shadow effects aim at Clue: Hunters from Mordor, The East Bank, and The West Bank. The most devastating is surely Hunters from Mordor’s shadow effect, which damages holders of Signs of Gollum. All damaged heroes must then detach their Clues and return them on the top of the encounter deck (which can bring Players back from stage 3 to stage 2). Moreover, this effect directly threatens the lives of heroes. The East Bank’s shadow effect can remind the ability of Wargs, who behave quite evasively. Returning Hunters from Mordor back to the staging area after the attack sounds like a good recipe for Player’s frustration. The shadow effect of The West Bank is not as good as it looks because it boosts the base Attack (so even boosted Hunters from Mordor will always get only +2 Attack, based on their default Attack).

The other 2 shadow effects aim at Riverland locations: Flooding and The Old Ford. While Flooding doesn’t look too dangerous, The Old Ford can reduce the number of allies with a snap of a finger. With more Riverland locations in-game, it has a more serious impact.

The shadow effect of River Ninglor is not even worth mentioning, because it is just weak.

Danger level


Overall evaluation

With 5 new locations, 3 treacheries, and just 2 enemies, one could say that Players can rest from combat duties and just rely on questing. Such a mistake would open the scope for Hunters from Mordor, always ready to break someone’s neck, especially if they smell the presence of Signs of Gollum. However, it’s not far from the truth that We rather test Players from the (in)ability to quest properly due to the number of locations. The key of Our and Players’ endeavor lies in capturing of mentioned Signs of Gollum. The Hunt for Gollum offers some effective ways of how to make it more difficult for Players to seize the Clues. Overall, it won’t be announced as the best and hardest scenario, but it has a big potential to make Players very upset due to Our delaying strategy, which hides Clues and bullies their holders.

Overall Danger level of the set


YOUR NIGHTMARE

The Old Ford might make from the questing a nightmare, same as Hunters from Mordor might make the combat very troublesome matter. Though Players will shiver before the arrival of another card: Old Wives’ Tales. If Players don’t use A Test of Will, they will cry above the lost resources or exhausted heroes, who won’t do anything that round. In some cases, for Players, it may decide the success or failure of the whole game. For maximizing Our success, We need to reveal this treachery as soon as possible, when Players still don’t own too many unused resources.


GOBLIN CARD

Goblintown Scavengers could do the honor to the title THE !GOBLIN! CARD, yet the honor belongs to another candidate: The Eaves of Mirkwood. 2 Threat Strength and 2 Quest Points don’t pose the issue for Players, and they might completely ignore this location within the staging area. Its ability works only when The Eaves of Mirkwood is the active location, and the chance of success is very low.


SHADOW HORROR

Again, for this title 2 cards compete, Hunters from Mordor and The Old Ford. Shadow effects of the first one can hurt heroes-holders of Clues. However, The Old Ford can destroy the whole army of allies, certainly with the support of Riverland locations. If Players don’t clean the staging area from Riverlands, they risk the lives of their allies.

One thought on “Encounter Set Review: The Hunt for Gollum

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