The second adventure pack in the #RingMakerCycle sees our heroes bound and brought before the chief of the Boar Clan. But before we embark on our next adventure, let's take a look at the new heroes and allies that will be joining our merry band.
Idraen - Continuing the run of great heroes Idraen not only offers up some solid stats, especially for a spirit hero, but a great special ability to ready each time a location is explored. Combining this power with other spirit cards (like The Riddermark's Finest) that allow you to place progress can allow you to ready Idraen whenever you need her. Finally you can make great use of the Warden of Anor (see below) to make sure Locations are just that little bit easier to clear.
Feigned Voices - Return a Silvan ally you control to your hand to choose an enemy engaged with a player. That enemy cannot attack that player this phase. Yet another 0 cost card that allows you to bounce Silvan cards back into your hand, allowing you to play them again for their entry effect and power up heroes such as Celeborn or Imrahil.
Rivendell Scout - I can see no reason to play this in a deck that is not attempting the secrecy playstyle, unless you really need a Noldor leadership character.
Elven Mail - Restricted and can only be used on Silvan or Noldor but Elven Mail is really useful in an all elf deck, especially if you’re running the Elladan/Elrohir pairing. 2 HP plus sentinel is not to be sniffed at and teamed up with the Elf Friend attachment from The Treachery of Rhudaur and you can give this to anyone.
Rúmil - Rumil is as great an arguement for running an all ranged tactics deck I can think of. After you play Rúmil from your hand, choose an enemy engaged with a player. Deal X damage to that enemy where X is the number of ranged characters you control. If you’re running Legolas, Bard and Brand that’s a minimum of 4 damage when you play him.
Message from Elrond - This card allows you to pass a card to another player. It’s obviously useless outside of multiplayer but even in multiplayer you would have to be playing the same sphere’s in order to actually be able to play the passed card. This one has limited use as far as I can see.
Noiseless Movement - From useless to far from it. Noiseless movement allows you to choose an enemy, they do not make engagement checks this round, pretty great for a single resource and if you are playing it in a secrecy deck you get the card back, perfect for a hobbit deck.
Greyflood Wanderer - The Greyflood Wanderer can place a progress on every location in play, for doomed 2 which makes him pretty great in solo and then less and less effective as the player count increases. In addition to this he’s a good quester, but too expensive if you don’t use his doomed ability.
Warden of Anor - While attached character is committed to the quest, place 1 progress on the first location revealed by the encounter deck each round. This is a great card for your main quester, with the caveat that it can only be attached to scout heroes, which at this point in the game limits you to Idraen or Haldir.
Leaf Brooch - The first event card you play each round that matches the attached hero’s printed sphere gains secrecy 1. Yet another card to help with the secrecy playstyle, which is slowly becoming viable.
The Three Trails
At the edge of a cursed forest, the Boar Shaman explains that you must undertake three trials in order to recover the Antlered Crown, or face death. Each trial will test your worthiness. Guardian spirits watch over three sacred swords, protecting them from the undeserving. Three ancient barrows mark the locations for the trials, each the resting place of a different guardian spirit. The Boar Clan waits at the forest's edge for any sign of your victory... or your death. Your only option is to press onward, heading towards the site of one of the three trials…
The Trial Begins
This card is literally just a setup card instructing you to advance to a stage 2 card of your choice. Each stage 2 card comes with its own trial which the heroes must overcome, once they have overcome each trial they can move on to the final stage.
The Trial of Strength
When this card is revealed add a random Barrow and Guardian and its associated key to the staging area. The guardian then immediately engages the first player. The Barrow cannot become the active location.
So let’s take a look at the possible guardians you could face.
The Boar’s Guardian - 1 Threat but 4 Attack & Defence plus 10 Hit Points. He enters play with 2 Time counters and kills an ally each time the counters run out.
The Wolf’s Guardian - 2 Threat, 5 Attack, 3 Defence and 12 Hit Points. The Wolf’s Guardian is the most killable with his relatively low defence, however his 5 attack, plus his time effect of making an immediate attack makes this one guardian you want to be prepared for.
The Raven’s Guardian - 3 Threat, 3 Attack, 5 Defence, 8 Hit Points. The Raven’s Guardian is a ticking time bomb, dealing 1 damage to each character in play every four rounds, certainly not one you want to stick around.
So, whichever Guardian you end up facing at this stage you need to have some serious defence and attack. I recommend facing this trial last, after you have had the time to build up some defences, especially because there are several shadow effects which can cause the guardians to attack multiple times, gain additional shadow cards or increase their damage.
The Trial of Perseverance
In this trial you simply need to quest past the barrow location and gain the key. The problem is you get a random guardian engaged with you which you cannot inflict damage on. Ideally the Raven’s Guardian is the one you would hope to draw, it has the lowest attack and won't contribute it’s 3 threat to the staging area to hamper you.
Let’s take a look at the possible Barrows you might have to quest past:
The Hill Barrow: 6 Quest Points and attacking Guardian’s gain an additional shadow card.
The Cave Barrow: 8 Quest Points and players cannot have more than 5 allies in play between them (discarding the excess)
The Stone Barrow: 10 Quest Points and raise your threat by the guardians threat each time it attacks.
I would argue the Cave might be the best here, it doesn’t take too long to clear and if you choose the Trial of Perseverance early you won't have many allies in play. The Stone Barrow would be the worst as you can’t get rid of the guardian, so you are guaranteed to face attack after attack and it takes the longest to clear.
The Trial of Intuition
In this trial players are forced yet again to confront a guardian but they can fight it and they can make the barrow the active location. The aim of this stage is to quest. The Key you require is hidden in the bottom 10 cards of the encounter deck and for each progress you place on the quest you discard a card until you eventually reveal the key.
Having a good amount of quest built up before you face this trial will make it easier. Also, being able to dispatch your guardian quickly will help you focus on the search.
Once you have all three keys in hand you can move on to the final stage!
The Antlered Crown
When Revealed: Add Hallowed Circle to the staging area. Reveal each Guardian enemy in the victory display, adding them to the staging area.
The Guardian’s then engage the player holding their keys. They cannot defeat the stage unless the Hallowed Circle is in the victory display.
The Hallowed Circle has Threat equal to the number of players in the game and 12 Quest Points. However the worst part is this “Forced: After the players travel here, each engaged Guardian enemy makes an immediate attack.” meaning you will be attacked twice before you get to attack back.
The obvious answer then is to leave the circle in the staging area and deal with the guardian’s first, especially as they all have timed effects. Then, once the guardians are clear, travel to the circle and quest to the end.
This one is basically impossible solo. Regardless of which stage 2 quest you choose you are facing at least 1 guardian enemy meaning you need to hold back a defender capable of weathering an attack of 3-5 on turn 1. Moreover, you need a sacrificial ally in case said guardian gets a shadow card that allows him to attack again.
On top of that each Barrow location has a large number of quest points, meaning you can easily be drowned by locations in the staging area meaning that you can’t generate the quest to clear the barrow.
Finally, even if you can clear all the trials, the final stage is simply impossible. In solo play you will control all 3 keys and so all 3 guardians will engage you. This onslaught is nigh on impossible to survive without very specific cards to keep you alive.
In two player, however, this quest is manageable. Choosing the order of your trials is important. We chose to go through the quest trial first which allows you some time to build up. You can kill the guardian and then search at a leisurely pace while you stock up on cards.
Next we took on the defence challenge, but with Beregond, plus armour and some readying capabilities we were mostly ready for what the trial had in store. Having a Burning Brand to fend off the worst of the shadow cards can make a real difference here.
Finally we faced the strength challenge which can be fairly easy if faced last as you don’t need to concentrate on questing and so you can hold back plenty of attackers. The final stage is still pretty nasty though.
Overall I don’t hate this quest, although with the amount of card text and time effects it can be a bit tricky to keep track of everything that’s happening. However, I do feel like some concession should have been made for solo play to make this scenario actually beatable.