Updated: Jan 7
As my second most played game of all time it’s probably no surprise to see this one getting some love over the festive period. My constant gaming companion Dave and I began playing through the Lord of the Rings LCG from the start about 4 years ago, however this year we finally started playing the Saga expansions. I steered clear of these for a while firstly to allow all of them to be published, but also, having played some solo I knew they were hard and wanted to build our card pool a bit to give us more deck building options as well as some alternate heroes.
The Road Darkens begins as the fellowship heads out from Rivendell and ends on the banks of the Anduin, with the breaking of the Fellowship. The first scenario, The Ring Goes South, which pitches the heroes against an army of wargs, allows the players to swap out their heroes, free of charge. Normally in campaign play, swapping heroes between scenarios incurs a permanent threat penalty but this opportunity allowed us to create new thematic decks. Previously we’d been using Hobbit themed decks with Glorfindel for company, however now we were setting forth from Rivendell with Legolas, Gimli and Aragorn making up a Tactics deck, while Sam, Pippin and Gandalf had a more experimental Lore/Leadership build.
We bested the wargs with relative ease, using Gimli’s intense anger issues to kill their leader and dismember the Watcher in the Water before fleeing into the Mines of Moria. There however we ran afoul of a Balrog. A lack of healing teamed up with a few rounds of failing to quest saw us threated out before we could escape the long dark. Retooling the Lore deck we added in some healing and resource token control and headed back into the mines… Where we proceeded to lose a further 4 times.
The problem of course is the Balrog, a demon composed primarily of shadow and flame, that repeatedly hits us. Each round the first player must weather two attacks at strength 8 and my deck is lacking the requisite card draw to keep me in disposable allies. That combined with my high starting threat means I don’t have the luxury of waiting around to build up my player area and even if I did the Balrog is also on a timer and will show up whether I am ready or not.
This is a hard scenario, and while it is continually and relentlessly punishing, victory always feels within our grasp. Set ‘em up again, this time we’ll win, as a wise Hobbit once said, “The road goes ever on…” and so, too, do our adventures in Middle Earth.