The Third adventure pack in the Mirkwood cycle brings us a new, challenging adventure along with a selection of new cards to help us survive it.
Prince Imrahil has long been a fan favourite. The Prince of Dol Amroth who rode out with the Swan Knights into combat at the battle of Minas Tirith was remarkably left out of the (overlong-and-not-as-good-as-the-other-two) film of Return of the King, but he has not been left out of FFG’s card game, making his appearance in record time.
And that’s what Imrahil’s special ability will allow him to do, come to your aid when you need him most. After an Ally leaves play Imrahil can ready, allowing him to attack or defend in times of crisis. This means that you can sacrifice small units like Snowbourn Scout in defence allowing Imrahil to ready and attack. In addition Sneak Attack allows you to bring in an ally for 1 phase and when it leaves it would allow Imrahil to ready, giving the Sneak Attack + Gandalf strategy even more power. Imrahil’s 11 threat makes him a little cheaper than Aragorn too, although he can take less damage and can’t sentinel, he can potentially defend and attack more often. Overall Imrahil is a strong hero, especially in a deck with cheap allies that can be easily sacrificed for the greater good.
Dunedain Quest – With a cost of 2 this card is identical to the Spirit Sphere card Favor of the Lady in that it gives the attached Hero +1 Will Power. Dunedain Quest however, like the other Dunedain cards in this cycle can be moved from hero to hero by paying a resource making it ultimately the better choice.
Parting Gifts – This is an interesting card with 0 cost. It allows a player to move any number of Leadership resources to any other hero. Combined with Steward of Gondor this can be a great way to get high cost cards in other players hands into play at the right moment.
Landroval – Initially Landroval seems expensive at a cost of 5, but the fact that he has attack 3 and 4 health plus the sentinel ability means he’s pretty handy in a fight. However, his special ability to return a killed Hero to play is the icing on the cake. Still, unless you’re running an all tactics deck or making use of Radagast in your deck this card may be too expensive to take.
To the Eyrie – This card has always seemed too expensive for me to make use of. A cost of 2 and exhaust an eagle to return a destroyed ally to your hand. A cheaper alternative is Stand and Fight, not only can this card be used at any time, instead of just after the ally is destroyed, but it puts the ally into play not into your hand.
Escort from Edoras – This card was more useful when I thought his ability lasted until you completed the current quest card. That said, 2 resources for 4 willpower in questing is still a bargain, especially when you consider that other characters can benefit from him leaving play, such as Imrahil or events could be triggered like Valiant Sacrifice or attachments like The Horn of Gondor.
Ancient Mathom – This is a no brainer when it comes to what cards to take. Attached to a location this card gives the first player 3 cards when the location is fully explored.
Haldir of Lorien – Haldir is one of the best all-rounders in the game so far. 2 Will, Strength and Defence plus 3 health, Sentinel and Ranged. The only thing that makes him a little prohibitive is the cost of 4 resources.
Infighting – For one resource you can move any amount of damage from one enemy to another. While this seems very useful I’ve yet to actually make use of it successfully.
Radagast – The Brown Wizard costs as much as Gandalf and he sticks around longer. His stats are ok, but he is really only of use in a deck with plenty of creatures. Radagast generates resources like heroes do, but he can only spend them to buy or heal creature cards.
A Journey to Rhosgobel
After a fierce conflict with a group of Trolls, you come across a fallen Eagle, grievously wounded and on the verge of death...
The Eagle's wounds cannot be tended in the wilderness, so you attempt to bring the creature to Rhosgobel, where the wisdom of Radagast the Brown may be its only hope.
So, this quest has three stages and is rated a 6 for difficulty. Personally I found it a lot easier than Conflict at the Carrock or Escape from Dol Guldor which are both rated 7.
There are a couple of important rules that need to be stated about this quest. Firstly, the wounded Eagle Wilyador is passed to the first player each turn.
Secondly, in stage 2b, whenever a card ability is used to heal Wilyador that card is discarded from play and out of the game i.e. not placed in the discard pile. This includes action abilities on Radagast and Glorfindel so be careful about when you distribute healing.
The Wounded Eagle
Setup: Search the encounter deck for Rhosgobel and Wilyandor, and add them to the staging area with 2 damage tokens on Wilyador. Then, shuffle the encounter deck.
This means in turn 1 you will have Rhosgobel in the staging area, which has a threat of X where X is the number of players. In addition you can only travel to Rhosgobel by completing stage 1 and while Rhosgobel is in the staging area Wilyador cannot be healed.
Needles to say completing this stage quickly is imperative. Each turn Wilyador will take another 2 damage that cannot be cancelled.
Once stage 1 is complete the players have found Ragagast in Rhosgobel. They can now travel to Rhosgobel and get it out of the staging area, which will also allow them to start healing Wilyador. In addition they will need to find at least some of the 4 Athelas plants that are lurking in the deck in order to survive stage 3 of the quest.
To do this Stage 2 offers a handy option.
Response: After the quest phase begins, the first player may place X damage tokens on Wilyador to look at the top 3 cards of the encounter deck. Reveal and add 1 of these cards to the staging area, and discard the other 2. X is the number of players in the game.
Each copy of Athelas will heal Wilyador of 5 wounds at the start of stage 3, if he is not fully healed the players will lose.
This means you need to balance the need to quest (to achieve the 12 progress needed) with the need to find the Athelas. If you progress to the next stage early you will not have enough healing to save Wily, if you take too long he will succumb to his wounds.
Return to Rhosgobel
When Revealed: Heal 5 wounds from Wilydor for each Athelas objective card the players control. If Wilyador is completely healed when this effect resolves, Wilyador survives and the players have won the game. Otherwise, the players have lost the game.
Journey to Rhosgobel poses some interesting challenges. Firstly you have to make progress fast through stage 1, easily achieved with cards like Eowyn and Escort from Edoras. However after that the focus switches to the ability to heal, a purview belonging solely to the Lore Sphere. The fact that your healing cards are gone for good after use makes things even trickier. Also, it’s worth remembering that Wilyador is not a Hero meaning that Daughter of the Nimrodel is useless, as is Self Preservation as Wilyador cannot have attachments..
Although Healing is clearly important, the ability to cancel treachery cards or at least mitigate their effects is crucial. Exhaustion deals 2 damage to each exhausted character, Swarming Insects deals damage to characters without attachments and Festering Wounds deals 2 damage to each damaged character.
Finally, the keyword Ranged becomes very important as all the new enemies can only be damaged or defended against by Ranged characters or Eagles.
Up to this point only Legolas has the ranged trait, making him a vital hero. And if you don’t take at least some eagle allies you may find yourself needing to use Wilyador to attack or defend against incoming attacks.
In addition, returning villains such as Chieftain Uftak and the Ungoliant’s Spawn will force you to choose a fellowship that is not only capable of questing and healing but also defending and attacking. This quest will test your ability to build a good all-round force as well as your ability to balance exactly how much you need to quest each turn to stave off the threat increase without activating the end game conditions.
Rhosgobel is an interesting expansion. Imrahil is a good Hero, especially if played in a deck with lots of cheap units. Some of the player cards are a bit weak though such as To The Eyrie and Dunedain Quest which basically duplicates and replaces the core set’s Favor of the Lady. While others like Landroval and Haldir have yet to see lots of play due to their high cost.
The quest itself is interesting and it gives you the feeling of searching as you parse the deck for those elusive Athelas cards. In single player mode I found it difficult to take a broad enough range of cards to deal with all aspects of this quest successfully, however, the quest plays very nicely with 2 as you can focus your deck on half of what is required for the scenario.