Having escaped the Trolls last week things have gone from bad to worse as we face off with Stone Giants and get ambushed by Goblins.
A Short Rest
I think FFG needed to make up the card count for this scenario as this card could have easily been a setup instruction in the rules without the need to make it a quest card. Still it's a useful thing to be able to pull some of your treasures from the deck. Obviously I would prioritise Sting as it literally doubles Bilbo’s stats.
The Mountain Pass
Starting the scenario with a Stone-Giant in play which can very easily engage you turn one is not very pleasant. Add to that two additional cards which have the chance of being more giants and you really are thrown in at the deep end.
The giants cause everything to get worse. Engaging them moves 4 threat out of the staging area but will kill at least one ally immediately. Then you need to weather a strength 6 attack which is not easy at the beginning of the game, especially if like us you are playing thematically.
The high quest points of this stage also present a challenge. You need 16 progress which is around average for a long stage but theres plenty of obstacles in the way. Galloping Boulders deals 3 damage to a questing character, enough to kill many of the dwarf heroes, and removes them from the quest. Guffawing of Giants causes the giants to either engage or spawns a new one if they are already engaged and The High Pass just strips progress off at the end of each round until you can clear it.
You want to use this stage to build up to prepare for stage three but doing so will just make it harder. Over reliance on attachments will surely see them stripped away by Wind-whipped Rain so a better strategy might be to focus on events that allow you to directly place progress and cancelling treachery cards. If you do get engaged by a giant it might be better to disable it rather than fight it, via cards like Forest Snare.
Down, Down to Goblin Town
The first time through this card is a nasty surprise, even when you know the story, being thrust from an encounter with giants into a fight with goblins without a moment's respite is a shock to the system. Likely you are going to progress through to this stage during the quest phase which means you need to have defenders or at the very least have built up some resources on Bilbo, if not, you’re facing 7 attacks in a two player game immediately and that would be enough to wipe out most teams.
It’s also worth bearing in mind the shadow effects for this scenario. 3 cards cause additional attacks and another 3 exhaust additional defenders. Others simply boost attack, lower defence or cause direct damage or threat increases. Bringing A Burning Brand will help but you’re going to want to thin the herd pretty quick before decapitating The Great Goblin.
Not only is the encounter deck mostly comprised of enemies but the Great Goblin will spawn more enemies most rounds after he attacks. This scenario can get out of hand very quickly. Luckily goblins are easily killed and cards like Mighty Prowess will synergise very well as they all share the Goblin trait.
This really is a scenario of two halves and really reminds me of Into The Pit (#KhazadDum). The first half can be fairly punishing. You need to spend a little time here to get enough allies and attachments into play to survive the goblin ambush but linger too long and you'll be facing 3 Stone Giants. Not only do they kill allies but they are very hard to take out once in play.
So you need plenty of early quest to push through to stage two, but you also want to have built up some Baggins resources or have some chump blockers or readying capability or the Goblins will rip you apart.
Weathering the first attack is definitely the toughest but putting down enough quest to keep from taking a large threat hit in subsequent rounds can become problematic quickly given how rapidly the Goblins can spawn.
Although the Great Goblin might look like the priority here be aware his death causes the other Goblins to get tougher and reducing the number of incoming attacks is probably the better strategy. You're not ever going to stem the tide though so ways of disabling Goblins rather than killing them might prove more effective. For example Ranger Spikes, Entangling Nets and None Return could all permanently cull the Goblin population.
Although difficult, especially if you aren't prepared for Stage 3, this one is certainly less random than #WeMustAwayEreBreakOfDay although it does still feature the Western Lands set which can be pretty punishing. Fortunately that goes away once you're in the caves.
Dave didn’t change his deck at all, I however had a little rejig. The basic premise remained the same, but I swapped out Balin for Bombur to kickstart the 5 dwarf strategy and to generate more lore resources. Bombur also acts as a nice damage sponge as long as he has some healing or a defensive boost.
With my added green purchasing power I stocked my deck with traps intended to be used during stage three to neuter the goblins, largely through the use of entangling nets and ranger spikes.