Updated: Nov 24, 2020
“The entrance to the forest path was like a sort of arch leading in to a gloomy tunnel made by two great trees that leant together, too old and strangled with ivy to bear more than a few blackened leaves. The path itself was narrow and wound in and out among the trunks. Soon the light at the gate was like a little bright hole far behind, and the quiet was so deep that their feet seemed to thump along while all the trees leaned over them and listened. As their eyes became used to the dimness they could see a little way to either side in a sort of darkened green glimmer. Occasionally a slender beam of sun that had the luck to slip in through some opening in the leaves far above, and still more luck in not being caught in the tangled boughs and matted twigs beneath, stabbed down thin and bright before them. But this was seldom, and it soon ceased altogether. There was no movement of air down under the forest-roof, and it was everlastingly still and dark and stuffy and our heroes felt that they were being slowly suffocated.”
~ J.R.R Tolkien
It would not be Christmas without an annual organised play event for one of my most played games of all time, The Lord of the Rings The Card Game. Today marks my 350th play which is not a milestone I ever thought I’d reach back in the heady days of 2011. The game has come a long way since then, changing and evolving into the behemoth it is today. But the Woodland Realm takes us back to the very beginning.
In this scenario players assemble their own adventure by choosing 7 encounter sets and 2 different stages of a three part quest. The adventure sets see the return of many enemies from the early years of the game such as The Ungoliant Spawn and Chieftain Ufthak through to newer entries in the series such as the Beast of Taur-nu-Fuin. By combining all the elements in the set players can build a scenario to their liking or build one to challenge their friends.
Playing at the Northwest Gaming Centre (run by Element Games) my friend and I joined forces with a chap called Dave to face the Woodland Realm head on. We randomly built our scenario and jumped into the action.
The random nature of the deck hampers the more cohesive storytelling that usually binds a Lord of the Rings scenario, but does replace it with a more replayable kit for creating your own adventures. (That can also be combined with the cards from The Wizard's Quest scenario for added replayability)
Our first mission took us on a fairly easy romp through the forest fighting off Spiders and Bats, which, other than delaying us, caused us little to no harm. Our second mission however took a dark turn as we faced difficult locations that required high quest and persistence to put to rest and tough enemies that forced us to find new ways to fight or die trying.
And die we did. We fought valiantly but even as we kept the Orcs and Wargs at bay we threated out and failed. Retooling slightly we took another run at the scenario. Knowing more of what to expect we dealt with it handily, even if we did need a whopping 41 progress to clear the last stage and reach the safety of the elf haven.
Overall it was a fun scenario and a good event. Laughs were had and 2 wins out of 3 is far above my average win rate for this game! I like the idea of the scenario kits although the lack of cohesive story is ultimately a detriment and even though the stages and encounter sets are different the overall structure feels largely the same.
That said this is a great one off scenario when you want to play with new players that you can tailor the difficulty without spoiling any of the adventures from the main story.