The first scenario in the Lord of the Rings, The Living Card Game pits you against the denizens of Mirkwood, nasty spiders and ugly orcs as you attempt to pass through the dark forest with an important message for the lady Galadriel.
You are traveling through Mirkwood Forest, carrying an urgent message from King Thranduil to the Lady Gladeriel of Lorien. As you move along the dark trial, the spiders gather around you...
The nastiest things they saw were the cobwebs; dark dense cobwebs the threads extraordinarily thick, often stretched from tree to tree, or tangled in the lower branches on either side of them. There were none stretched across the path, but whether because some magic kept it clear, or for what other reason they could not guess.
At the start of the game place 1 Forest Spider and 1 Old Forest Road location in the staging area.
Flies and Spiders
The first Quest card requires 8 Quest Points to allow you to travel on to the next stage. At the start of the scenario you will have 3 Threat in the staging area from the Forest Spider and the Old Forest Road.
The Forest Spider has an engagement value of 25, meaning that for most decks the spider will engage in round one (Spirit is the only preconstructed deck that the spider wont engage.) With an attack of 3 on the round that it engages, this is actually quite a nasty beastie. Denethor (Lore Hero) is very handy for warding off this attack though.
Handily the Old Forest Road card, that is also in play, allows one player to Ready a Hero after travelling to the location. Since this is a nice benefit that only requires 3 Quest Points to remove from play I would almost always quest everyone on round one, using the Travel phase to go to the Old Forest Road and ready a hero to take on the Spider.
A Fork in the Road
The second part of the quest is very easy to pass requiring only 2 Quest Points, it could be worth delaying here to heal up, but as a general rule I push past this stage as soon as possible.
Upon completing the Fork in the Road card you must follow it’s Forced Effect:
Forced: When you defeat this stage, proceed to one of the 2 "A Chosen Path" stages, at random
Don't Leave the Path
This Quest card requires 0 Quest points to pass but the players must defeat the Ungoliant’s Spawn in order to do so. When the card is revealed each player searches the encounter deck and/or discard pile and adds a Spider card to the staging area. This is a great way of adding the Ungoliant Spawn to the fray quickly, rather than waiting for it to turn up on it’s own.
Of course, it’s pretty nasty so you probably don’t want it to turn up at all!
With an attack of 5, 2 defence and 9 wounds this spider is more than capable of dispatching weaker heroes without breaking a sweat. Of course, there are ways of dealing with her, Forest Snare is handy, as is Citadel Plate, especially if you have some extra healing like Self Preservation.
Once she engages the trick is to kill her as quickly as possible, even if it means taking some damage on your threat dials in the process, through a lack of questing/
The alternate route through the third part of this quest is Beorn’s Path, this requires 10 Quest Points to pass and basically represents a sprint to the finish as you hope to out run the Ungoliants Spawn.
Players cannot defeat this stage while Ungoliant's Spawn is in play. If players defeat this stage, they have won the game
All out questing is the only solution to this phase, otherwise you will end up stuck in combat with the big nasty spider while enemies pile up and slowly crush you under their threat (or possibly quickly crush you between their mandibles)
The Passage Through Mirkwood scenario is reasonably easy, but it is also the basic starting scenario. The right combination of cards can make the ending somewhat of a cake walk. If you manage to Forest Snare the Ungoliant Spawn the climatic final battle becomes slightly tedious as you slowly kick the helpless beast to death.
However, I do like the fact that there are two endings to the scenario and I like the feeling of being chased that Beorn’s path gives you.
The quest phase is reasonably controllable in this scenario as you can reasonably predict how much threat you are likely to encounter, most cards being a 1 or a 2. Also, most of the scenario specific cards are easy to deal with or even offer you a helping hand.
I’ve already mentioned the Old Forest Road but the Forest Gates reward of allowing you to draw 2 cards can be a big boon too, especially for a Leadership deck!
There are however some nasty cards to watch out for. Caught in a Web is particularly nasty as it stops a hero from Readying unless he pays 2 Resources. The Steward of Gondor card can help combat this, but as it is a unique card it only stops one of the 2 Caught in a Web Treachery Cards.
There are only two cards I can think of that can combat the Caught in a Web, Miner of the Iron Hills, who can remove Condition Attachments and Eleanor who can exhaust to prevent When Revealed effects on Treachery cards.
With two of this card in the deck the game can become tedious quickly if two of your heroes are webbed and you can’t do anything about it. Also, it’s worth noting that you do not control the Caught in a Web card, so it would not be removed by the Forest Spider’s Shadow Effect.
Overall I enjoyed the scenario, it was challenging enough to be fun but not so challenging as to be frustrating (No Hill Trolls!). The fact that the encounter deck goes a little easy on you and even helps you out a little certainly helps with the learning curve and the alternate endings make you want to play the scenario again straight away to find out what you missed.
A Monthly Feature
Thanks to Paul at Board Game Guru I will be making this segment a monthly feature, reviewing each new scenario as they come out. I haven’t decided yet if I will do this as part of my regular Wednesday schedule or if I’ll move it to a different day. Look out for a review of Journey Down the Anduin in two weeks time!
Until then, have fun questing!