Updated: Sep 10, 2019
The New Hero
Love Celeborn. He is largely just a dependable and stalwart quester when I use him but he’s also a great leadership hero and the first one to bear the Silvan trait. Like other Leadership heroes, Celeborn is celebrated, not for his own stats but his ability to boost others. Each Silvan Ally that enters play gets a +1 boost to all three of its stats on the turn it comes into play. This makes Celeborn super versatile, unlike Leadership Boromir who only boosts attack or Dain who only boosts Willpower and Attack, Celeborn allows you to follow any strategy, boosting all your Silvans equally, but only on turn 1.
Happily, the Silvan strategy is mostly about hit and run. Allies come and go as the game ebbs and flows, allowing them to benefit from Celeborn’s ability time and again.
Naith Guide - The perfect accompaniment to a Silvan/Noldor deck. Most of the Silvan/Noldor heroes have high quest and fight values, however, if you quest them they can’t fight, well the Naith Guide allows them to do both. After she enters play she chooses a hero and they do not exhaust to quest this round. She is even better with Celeborn, who boost her up to 2 willpower herself the round she enters and if you team her up with Sneak Attack you can get the effect multiple times in a row.
Swift and Silent - For a single resource you can ready a hero you control and if your threat is below 20 then you can take swift and silent back into your hand. 1 resource to ready a hero is not a bad ability but it will be taking up a slot in the deck which could be used by a more versatile card. If however you are running a secrecy deck then this may be a good card to look at.
Close Call - This is a “Break Glass in case of Emergency” type card, it’s nice to have it in your deck in case you need it but it’s taking up the slot of something else. Basically you can convert damage into Doomed X. It’s similar to spirit Frodo’s power, except that Doomed affects everyone at the table.
Firefoot - A mount attachment for tactics or rohan heroes means that Firefoot is pretty versatile in which decks he can appear. Firefoot confers a +1 attack bonus or +2 when attached to Eomer. However, it is his overrun ability that really shines. Excess damage dealt by the attached hero is dealt to another enemy and as it is direct damage it bypasses the enemy's defence, meaning you can attack a weak enemy and damage a strong one too.
Ithilien Lookout - His stats aren’t amazing but I’ll happily have more rangers for my ranger deck. His ability, when combined with cards like Rumour from the Earth or Henamarth can be super useful. “After Ithilien Lookout enters play, look at the top card of the encounter deck. If it is an enemy, you may discard it.”
The Tree People - Love this card. Being able to play Silvan allies multiple times is a good thing in most cases anyway, but being able to play a Silvan ally, like Haldir for free is spectacular value. Return a Silvan ally you control to your hand to search the top 5 cards of your deck for a Silvan ally. Put that ally into play and shuffle the other cards back into your deck.
Blue Mountain Trader - Not the best stats ever for a 2 cost ally but the Blue Mountain Trader can be passed back and forth between players for a single resource cost. Can be useful if you need to get a resource to another player or to help pull in an extra defender for an unexpected attack.
The Fall of Gil-Galad - This is another card that can prove useful under the right circumstances. Attach to a hero, when they are destroyed lower your threat by their starting cost. If things are going so badly that you are losing heroes, dropping your threat could be enough to keep you in the game.
The White Council - This is a nice versatile card that makes cards like Swift and Silent (above) seem positively limiting. Costing as many resources as players in the game, each can choose 1 different option: ready a hero he controls, add 1 resource to the resource pool of a hero he controls, draw 1 card, or shuffle 1 card from his discard pile into his deck.
The Dunland Trap
The Ring-Maker cycle comes out of the gate kicking and screaming with a Difficulty 7 Quest. This quest builds on the card denial strategy started in the Fords of Isen quest but really amps up the difficulty.
The Road to Tharbad
You are following the Old South Road from Isengard to Tharbad on an errand for Saruman when you are attacked by Wild Men of Dunland. Already weary from a full day of travel, you struggle to hold off the ferocious Dunlending attack. You must rally your companions and drive back the enemy, or you will be defeated.
Time 2. Forced: After the last time counter is removed from this stage, each player discards his hand and draws 2 cards. Place 2 time counters on this stage.
During setup you must add a Boar Clan enemy engaged with each player and place the Old South Road as the active location. Mercifully this leaves the staging area empty but you do begin the game engaged. In addition The Old South Road removes an additional Time counter from the quest per round.
Your choice of Boar Clan enemy is either the Stalker or Warrior. The former has 5 hit points and will rise as you draw cards up to 4 Attack and 4 Defence. While the latter, has a nasty 3 hits and gets a shadow card every time you draw a card.
The problem here is there are shadow cards that allow the enemy to make an additional attack so if you take the Warrior you could be facing two or even more attacks on turn 1.
The quest also requires 18 progress and is going to cause you to cycle your hand every other turn or even every turn depending on the cards in play.
However, you don’t want to progress quickly. This quest is punishing, you want to clear the Dunlendings before you proceed to stage two, but at the same time, as you will see in a moment, you want to build up carefully and you don’t want to waste too many resources on allies and attachments you won’t get to keep.
A Well Laid Trap
When Revealed: Make Munuv Dûv Ravine the active location (returning any previous active location to the staging area). Each player discards each Item and each Mount attachment he controls. Each player chooses 1 ally he controls and discards each other ally he controls.
When Revealed: Each player searches the encounter deck and discard pile for a Boar Clan enemy and puts it into play engaged with him. Shuffle the encounter deck. Each player shuffles his discard pile into his draw deck and draws 1 card.
Forced: At the end of the combat phase, advance to stage 3A.
So, let's unpack that. If you have built a deck that relies on weapons and armour or other items to boost your heroes, they are all going away. Also you can keep at most 1 ally and you’re definitely getting attack by another enemy. There’s so little good news here. The best advice I can give is try and make sure your bonuses and attachments are deriving from Songs, Signals, Titles, etc. Cards like Steward of Gondor, the Dunedain Marks and Warnings, Unexpected Courage etc, all get to stick around, so build your deck for this one around non-item cards.
Also as you are always in conflict, a good defender is a must, especially one with a self reading ability like Boromir or Elrohir.
No Way Out
Time X. X is 5 times the number of players in the game.
If a hero is destroyed at this stage, the players lose the game.
Forced: After the last time counter is removed from this stage, the players make engagement checks. Then, each engaged enemy makes an attack. If no heroes are destroyed by these attacks, the players win the game.
At this point Chief Turch joins the fray. He is unkillable and has an attack of 5, always engaging the first player. If playing 2 player you now must endure 10 rounds of attacks without losing a hero. However there are a couple of ways of shortening that time. Firstly, every enemy that engages you removes a Time counter, so having the “Hills of Dunland” in play which spawns additional enemies can be helpful (as long as you have a defender who can protect you). Also, there are two copies of Off Track in the deck, which attaches to a location and removes additional time counters each round. If you have both copies in play you can remove 3 counters at the end of each round.
However, be warned there is a killer in the deck. In Need of Rest will doom this quest for you if it comes out at the wrong point. This card says, when a Time counter is removed attached hero takes a damage. Without healing there is no hero in the game who can suffer 10 damage and if you lose a hero you lose the game at this stage. With condition removal still being super rare this card is just the worst thing in this quest.
However if you can survive all of this, when the time runs out all enemies engage and attack, if no hero dies during that attack you win the game.
My friend and I tried to win this scenario using our Rohan decks for thematic reasons. We just couldn’t. We didn’t have enough quest or defence. The Dunlendings are hard hitters and with their abundance of shadow cards, they could hit multiple times a round and we simply didn’t have the defenders we needed.
In the end we took a hammer and anvil approach. One deck was designed to take the brunt of the attack, the other to kill all the enemies in play. Killing the Dunlendings is key to winning the game, you don’t want them to be alive during the resource phase of the next round or you are likely facing another set of attacks which will leave you exhausted for the rest of the round.
Stage 1 of this quest is key. You want to make slow but steady progress. Kill all the enemies and minimise the worst of the damage that drawing cards will do by travelling to the Hills of Dunland wherever possible. Spend your resources on non-item upgrades and don’t waste too many points on allies.
Know that you are going to cycle your hand every round or every other round and make sure it will be safe to draw cards by eliminating enemies and locations/treacheries that will hurt you. Having cancel when revealed or condition removal is a must to get rid of treachery cards.
Once you have the game under control you can actually benefit from the card draw stage 1 affords you, having Hithaeglir Stream as the active location to give you extra card draw can really allow you to mine your deck for useful cards.
Plan for the turn when you will progress to stage 2. You are definitely getting attacked that round, but the use of a reliable defender can minimize any damage you might see.
After that you advance to stage 3 automatically. Here you want to switch strategy. You want to leave locations in the staging area, rather than clearing them so that Off Track has a place to attach. Also, having the Hills of Dunland is a boon now as it spawns more enemies to run out the clock for you.
Being able to weather the attacks and then clear the table of all enemies each round will leave you in the best position. As Turch is unkillable you just need to be able to take his 5 attack without losing a hero to win, so an ablative ally or two could well prove useful.
This quest is hard. However, there is no doomed or other threat raising cards, which means you can take high threat heroes and you should. You need good defenders with high hit points as well as good attackers. Boromir is worth his weight in gold here, especially with a Gondorian Shield and a few Dunedain Warnings.
In Need of Rest made me want to tear the card up. It came out twice during the fight with Turch and cost us the game, even though I had all the card cancelling and condition removal, I just couldn’t get rid of it in time.
The trick to the quest is pacing. You can’t be frightened to lose your hand to stage 1 time and again, in fact if you set everything up correctly this constant recycling of your hand is very useful. If, however, you can’t clear the enemies every turn, you’ll quickly find your heroes reduced to bleeding stumps. There are very few enemies that can’t be killed the turn they appear with 6 hits, so you’re going to want some good fighters.
Again Boromir proves useful and Elladan teams up perfectly with Elrohir for a self readying attack/defend partnership. I can also recommend Spirit Glorfindel with Light of Valinor, giving 3 quest and 3 attack per round.
However you approach this quest, it is going to be tough, but if you pack your deck with hard hitters and tough defenders and prepare for the ambush in just the right way you’ll make it through. The difficulty was a frustrating experience with our rohan decks, but once we switched it up and abandoned thematics for mechanics I had a lot more fun with the quest.