Updated: Sep 19, 2019
So this is a detailed look at the second scenario in the Lord of the Rings LCG. This scenario is rated a 4, not sure what out of because it’s bloody hard, I certainly don't want to see a 10!
Emerging from Mirkwood Forest with an urgent message for Lady Gladeriel, you must now make your way south along the Anduin River in order to reach the forest of Lorien, As you leave the forest behind, you notice that you are being pursued, and thus quicken your pace.
As you approach the location of a small raft stashed on the riverbank, a fearsome Hill Troll emerges from behind a grouping of rocks, and attacks!
At the start of the scenario the players add one card per player to the staging area, along with the Hill Troll encounter card.
So you will start the scenario with at least 1 threat, but with two of the Brown Lands locations in the deck it is possible to start with 11, quite frankly that’s a hideous possibility!
It is also worth noting that the Hill Troll is very strong and has an encounter value of 30. This means that most starter decks will encounter him on turn two, something that is very difficult to deal with. The Hill Troll’s ability reads “Excess combat damage dealt by the Hill Troll (damage that is dealt beyond the remaining hit points of the character damaged in the attack) must be assigned as an increase to you threat.” This means that sacrificing allies in defence is not really a viable option here.
There seems to be two ways to deal with the Troll, the first is to take cheaper Heroes to give yourself a lower threat value, thus meaning you will have more rounds to prepare for it’s attack. The danger here is if you fail to quest you will still face the Troll but with weaker Heroes.
A second option comes with a mix of Tactics and Lore, using Feint to stop the Troll attacking the turn it engages you and the Forest Snare to permanently disable it!
To The River…
The first stage of this quest requires 8 quest points, which is reasonably easy to achieve, however, the second condition is that there can be NO Hill Trolls in the staging area, obviously there is one there to start with but there is a second one in the deck and that can be a huge problem!
Realistically you want clear as much out of the staging area as possible before killing the troll and proceeding to the next stage of the quest, high threat cards are a serious problem if you can’t clear them, especially locations!
The second stage of this quest initially feels like a welcome rest. You board the boat and set off down the Anduin, the enemies are too far away to target you with attacks, so you can concentrate on questing… or can you.
The Card Text Reads:
Reveal 1 additional card from the encounter deck each quest phase. Do not make engagement check during the encounter phase. (Each player may still optionally engage 1 enemy each encounter phase.)
This additional card per turn makes a huge difference, especially when you look at some of the cards it could be.
The Brownlands is easy to get rid of, but that 5 threat is huge and there 2 of these in the core set!
The East Blight, while only contributing 1 Threat to the staging area is a huge road block, especially because you are forced to travel there if there is no active location. Adding 6 additional progress points to the already massive 16 required to pass this stage is huge!
To make things worse this quest has a unique enemy, the Misty Mountain Goblins which removes progress when they attack or when they are revealed as a Shadow Card and there are 3 of them! One way this quest helps to mitigate this questing devastation is the banks of the Anduin Card.
This card when explored returns to the top of the deck, meaning you can use it to limit the damage done by enemies as it has no shadow effect or it can help limit the amount of threat piling up in the staging area because you know the first card will only have 1 threat!
Realistically you need to clear this stage quickly. If locations start to build up you will be in trouble, having a Northern Tracker and Lorien Guide will come in really handy for clearing the staging area/Active Location. Also having Dunhere to attack low health monsters in the staging area will be handy too, especially if there is a Goblin Sniper about.
If at all possible the Heroes should try and take on some monsters during this stage of the quest or they may well find themselves overwhelmed in the next stage. Ideally you want to clear this stage before anything really nasty (read Hill Troll, Marsh Adder or Ufthak) comes out!
Ambush on the Shore
The final stage of the quest simply requires you to kill all the remaining enemies in play. The Card Text reads:
When Revealed: Reveal 2 encounter cards per player, and add them to the staging area. Skip the staging step of the quest phase for the remainder of the game.
Once there are no enemies in play, the players have one the game.
It is very easy at this stage to be simply overcome by threat, so even though you dont need any Progress Tokens to complete this stage you may find yourself needing to commit a significant portion of your group to the quest.
Remember you only need to clear all the enemies out of play, locations are not a priority here, stick the one with the biggest threat value in the active slot and ignore the rest if possible.
This quest is hard, really really hard! Starting with a low threat is pretty much essential and having ways to delay combat will help you significantly. High Quest values are very important in stage 2 as 16 progress is not an easy task with an average of 6 to 9 threat being added each turn in a 2 player game.
A well rounded group is essential and keeping the staging area as empty as possible will certainly be advantageous. Being able to deal with the Hill Troll before gets to hit will make your life easier although taking a hit on an ally and then using Forest Snare is an acceptable course of action. If you are unlucky enough to have to face both Trolls in stage one of the quest you may find the rest of the quest very difficult. Unfortunately the Troll is not the worst that the encounter deck has to offer.
Chieftain Ufthak may just be the most evil card in the game, especially after the FAQ ruled that his ability kicks in before damage is totalled, i.e. he has an attack of 5 in the first round, then 7, then 9 etc.
His armour of three also makes Dunhere useless without help from the Tactics deck. Certainly equipping Dunhere with a dagger or an axe will help with this quest. Also excess use of the Sneak Attack Gandalf combo can come in handy. I certainly recommend killing Ufthak while he is still in the staging area, failing that the Feint then Forest Snare combo works well too!
Overall I dont much care for this quest, the difficulty is very high and it’s hard to prepare well for some of the dangers the deck will throw at you. For example, taking a low threat means the troll wont attack you, but if both copies of the Brown Lands come out you’re most likely going to fail to quest, sending your threat through the roof. It is stupid to send 5 or 10 excess quest each round on the off chance this card will come out.
Quite often I have found myself losing in round two simply because I can’t clear enough locations, it is perfectly possible to draw three locations a round, but you can only really hope to clear one of them. Death by Location doesn’t really feel heroic to me.
All that said, when I finally do clear the quest it feels good to have beaten it but I’d rather have the quest a little easier, rather than feel like I’m being beaten around the side of the head continually!