Deck: Rally the Troops


In a sense, new heroes represent a puzzle to be solved. Heroes form such an important part of a deck’s design, but it is not always immediately obvious how a new hero will best integrate with the existing cards, to say nothing of the player cards released concurrently with that hero. The creative aspect of deck-building holds particular appeal for me – like a good scratch behind the ears it tickles my fancy. As the card pool grows, and the variety of scenarios continues to diversify, identifying the potential synergies of a new hero can feel like a search for a few chocolates in a giant bag full of raisins. Fortunately, bears have an excellent sense of smell, so I am here to help sort out the good stuff. In some cases, cards which never saw much play will suddenly become relevant again.

Ever-VigilantIn the case of Leadership Faramir, it has taken me a bit of tinkering before I was finally able to build a deck around him that I am happy with. Perhaps it was the huge influx of cards from Gen Con 2015, or just the distractions of life, but the design of a proper deck for the Captain of the Rangers of Ithilien has taken some time. Faramir has always been one of my favorite characters from The Lord of the Rings, but with the potency of the Core Set ally, I have never fully accepted the Lore version of this character. The new Leadership version – Captain Faramir I like to call him – gives us access to Gondor’s biggest strength: resource acceleration. His ability might at first seem unexciting, especially for decks that rely so heavily on powerful heroes with action advantage. Once again, other changes in the metagame have coincided to bring this ability into focus for me.

Boromir (HoN)While the first assumption would be to make Faramir the leader of an ally-heavy Gondor deck – perhaps even pair him with his brother Boromir – this doesn’t quite work. Most of the Gondor allies have mediocre stats, which is the entire reason you need the global boosts from Boromir, Visionary Leadership and For Gondor!, to be begin with. When it comes to allies with powerful exhaust effects, the Core Set version of Faramir is the obvious choice, an unfortunate case where a hero would have great synergy with an ally of the same name. From a thematic standpoint, I really want the new Faramir to work well in a Gondor Army deck, I just don’t see it with the current crop of Gondor allies that we have. It’s not to say that these allies could not contribute to combat after questing – they most certainly could – it just would not be making the best use of Faramir’s ability. As with all effects in this game, it is important to note the limit. Faramir’s response has no cost (other than the trigger condition) and can be used one per phase. This means that we will look for cards that help us to engages enemies multiple times in a round.

Treebeard-TACWith Gondor off the list, we naturally turn to the newest powerhouse archetype in the metagame: The Ents. On closer inspection, this is a perfect match – and not just because the Ents have amazing stats for a low cost. Other than not being able to wield weapons and armor (of little concern for characters with such potent base-stats), the one real limitation for Ent allies is that they enter play exhausted. This means that you will not ordinarily be able to use the great stats from the Ent ally that you just played until the round after you payed the price. While this drawback is most certainly worth it, it is nevertheless a drawback. Scenarios that ambush the players from the first round will be more than happy to see you spending precious resources for an ally that does nothing the round it enters play.

Faramir-TLoSThis is where the new Leadership Faramir and a bit of creativity can lead to a very potent deck. The is an aggressive deck with a pretty straight-forward premise: muster big allies with useful abilities as quickly as possible. Then, engage as many enemies as can be safely managed, all while reaping multiple benefits for each enemy engagement.

While it still feels half-finished, there are some powerful new cards in the Dúnedain archetype from this cycle. Engagement-based effects are a perfect fit for this deck. Dúnedai Hunter n is an amazing ally for the bargain price of nothing. Ordinarily, the requirement of engaging an enemy can be a bit scary, but in this deck it will actually net you a resource (thanks to Mablung) and ready a potentially devastating ally like Treebeard or Gandalf.

A Very Good TaleThis is where the smart-ass bears in the back of the room raise their paws and ask the rhetorical question: “Why would your ally even be exhausted during the planning phase for this combo to work?”. As a bear, and merciless slayer of straw-men, I am more than happy to answer this rhetorical question. Between the Ents, which all enter play exhausted during, and A Very Good Tale, there are plenty of ways to get our allies exhausted during the planning phase. Honour Guard can exhaust during any phase to prevent damage – very useful for a deck without access to healing. In some rare cases, encounter card effects can deal damage during the refresh, resource or planning phases. If the Honour Guard happened to be exhausted in such a situation, his friend the hunter would allow him to be ready for the all important quest phase when most of the direct-damage nastiness comes. The point of this rhetorical exercise is to encourage you to look for ways to use Faramir’s ability as much as possible.

With that in mind, we need to talk about Legolas. We discussed this on episode 30 of The Grey Company Podcast (available soon), but the ally version of everyone’s favorite Mirkwood Elf is fantastic. An earlier version of this deck featured weapons and Foe-Hammer as supplemental card draw. As anyone who relies on that strategy with support from Lore can tell you – that strategy is not very consistent. There is nothing more frustrating that looking at a Foe-hammer in an opening hand bereft of weapons. Fortunately, this deck has a more reliable form of card draw. Yes, pedantic bears in the back row, you first need to draw Legolas, but the same can be said for Foe-hammer (but it also requires a weapon on an attacking hero in addition). In any case, once you get him out, your card draw problems are solved, particularly when there are enemies that can be left in the staging area after the encounter phase.

Aragorn-TLR-smallThis is where our third hero comes into the picture – Mablung can’t steal all of the glory. Not only does Tactics Aragorn feature one of the most underrated passive effects of any hero in the game, but his response in this deck is just silly. Again, it should be stressed that this deck is designed to work in multi-player, were there are consistently multiple enemies in play. Aragorn all but ensures that this deck can ready an ally during every combat phase – a particularly useful time to be readying, I might add.

Donning our fuzzy hypothetical hats once more (trust me, you’d much rather wear the warm and furry hypothetical hat than the burlap and irony-wrought curmudgeon hate), let’s look out how Aragorn and Legolas work together to create a powerful team. First let’s assume that Aragorn and Legolas both participate in an attack which kills an enemy – not too outlandish when they have a combined attack of 6 and Aragorn’s passive weakens all non-immune enemies. First we trigger Legolas’ response and draw a card. Next we trigger Aragorn’s response and engage an enemy from the staging area (or stuck with another player). Lastly we trigger Faramir’s ability to ready Legolas.

Legolas-ToSIf Aragorn happens to have a Rohan warhorse, he could also ready and help out with the subsequent slaughter. The important point here is that there is no limit to the number of times you can trigger Ally Legolas’ response, provided you can ready him. A silly version of this deck even features Hands upon the Bow, Sword-thain and Rohan Warhorse so that Legolas can just keep killing enemies until you run out of enemies to kill. Even in less ideal circumstances, Legolas should be able to help kill at least one enemy a round, which is an extra card that an Aggro deck featuring resource acceleration desperately needs.

Some games, Legolas might not show up. Have no fear, even without card draw, this deck can muster a formidable host of allies. As we said earlier, and it bears repeating, Ents are under-costed for their stats. Try to exhaust at least 6 points worth of characters when you use A Very Good Tale – this will allow you to choose a four cost ally and a 2-cost ally from among the cards discarded. With 30 allies in the deck, it will be almost impossible to miss on that card, so play it early and often. Treebeard also helps muster his friends once he comes into play, so there is actually quite a bit of resource acceleration available here.

Even if this deck struggles along without Legolas or Steward of Gondor for a few rounds, you will still make enough money between your heroes and Mablung’s ability to pay for any of the Ents and Eagles in this deck. Assuming threat is not an issue, use Gandalf for card draw to find the missing piece. Gather Information is also included to help find whatever card is needed to get everything setup. Support of the Eagles can turn Aragorn into an amazing attacker, or Mablung into a super-defender, but the heroes are really just here to help you survive until your army is raised.

GandalfOne last card that bears mentioning is Ever Vigilant. To my knowledge, I have not included this card in a deck that I built (Core Set pre-constructed decks don’t count). It always seemed like either a niche card (use with ally Faramir of Gandalf) and lost out space to other in-sphere gems like Sneak Attack. In this deck however, this card is fantastic. Legolas has the Ranged keyword after all. Aragorn is sometimes not ready or able to kill an engaged enemy – or perhaps you don’t want to deal with the engagement effect on an enemy fighting against another player. Whatever the reason, the worst case scenario for this card is to allow you to ready Legolas to swing in two attacks and net you two extra cards.

The deck is not without its weaknesses. With a 33 starting threat, it is unabashedly in its aggression. Because we are not using the Hobbit-style “sneaky” engagement effects, we do get the full benefit from each engagement – even the non-optional variety. This is good, because the hight starting threat will mean that many enemies come running at us from the first round. The sideboard has some cards to help mitigate this, and feel free to swap them in for particular scenarios. Doomed and threat raise effects can also be an issue. Secret Vigil and Sneaky Gandalf can certainly help with this, but this strategy is honestly paired best with a deck featuring Spirit, for stronger questing (this deck can often be mediocre in that department), treachery and shadow cancelation, and threat control. While you certainly could try this deck solo, my best games with it so far have been two player, paired with Mrs. Beorn’s White Council Deck.

Aragorn (TLR)
Faramir (TLoS)
Mablung (NiE)

Allies: 30
Dúnedain Hunter (TLR) x3
Errand-rider (HoN) x3
Vassal of the Windlord (TDM) x3
Booming Ent (TaC) x1
Derndingle Warrior (EfMG) x3
Honour Guard (TWoE) x2
Orophin (CS) x1
Skinbark (TLoS) x1
Treebeard (TAC) x3
Eagles of the Misty Mountains (RtM) x3
Legolas (ToS) x3
Rúmil (TTT) x1
Gandalf (Core) x3

Attachments: 10
Rohan Warhorse (VoI) x2
Steward of Gondor (Core) x2
Sword that was Broken (TWitW) x3
Support of the Eagles (RtM) x3

Events: 9
A Very Good Tale (TH:OHaUH) x3
Ever Vigilant (Core) x2
Sneak Attack (Core) x2
Quick Strike (Core) x2

Side Quests: 1
Gather Information (TLR) x1

Sideboard: 15
Booming Ent (TAC) x1
Honour Guard (TWoE) x1
Captain of Gondor (TAC) x1
Gondorian Shield (TSF) x2
Secret Vigil (TLR) x2
Steward of Gondor (Core) x1
Firefoot (TDT) x2
Sneak Attack (Core) x1
Feint (Core) x2
Tireless Hunters (TLR) x2

Posted in Aggro, Deck Lists, Strategy | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 15 Comments

Poll Results: Favorite Defending Hero

mother bear defending cubs

It seems like Tulkas was still wrestling with Melkor the last time we posted poll results. It is high time we discovered which heroes are most preferred by players for defense. As the game evolves and enemies grow larger and more fearsome, having a dedicated defender is essential for most decks. Some archetypes, like the Silvan deck built around Celeborn, can get away with mostly using allies for defenders. Still, scenarios will often punish this strategy, and it is often more safe over the course of a game to have a single strong defender.

Beregond-smallThe results are in, and it should come as little surprise that Beregond is by far the most popular hero to use a defender. With 4 defense, the Sentinel keyword, and a discount card when it comes time to shop for armor, the captain of the Citadel is the obvious choice. His Gondor trait is valuable as well, as we see with some of the other heroes receiving votes.

Gondorian Shield is the biggest reason for the defensive value inherent in the Gondor trait. Other less-heralded cards like Gondorian Discipline and For Gondor also contribute to that faction’s formidable reputation. The only thing missing is some readying – either repeatable like Unexpected Courage, or one-time from events like Behind Strong Walls – and Beregond can safely defend against most enemies in the game. Shadow cancellation can also be a concern, particular in scenarios with chaining shadow effects, and that is where the next two heroes come in.

A Burning BrandRounding out the top three vote-getters we have Denethor and Erkenbrand. While Erkenbrand’s built-in shadow cancelation makes him another obvious candidate for a dedicated defender, Denethor is a less likely choice at first glance. The key to the Steward of Gondor’s prowess as a defender of his people is more than just his ability to wield a Gondorian Shield (no doubt a mean feat in itself at his advanced age). The fact that he has the Lore sphere makes him a natural choice for A Burning Brand. It doesn’t take a palantir to know that a hero with 5 defense that cancels all shadow effects on attacking enemies is powerful indeed.

Other notable heroes can be found as you scan down the list of votes: Elrohir, Frodo Baggins, Boromir, Dain Ironfoot, Elrond and Gandalf all received votes. Obviously there are many factors at play in deciding which hero to use as your primary defender: the spheres that your deck includes, whether or not your deck is primarily focused on questing, combat or support, and which traits or strategies you are trying to explore.

All of these considerations are what make deck-building for this game so interesting. For me it is often more fun to take a less-obvious choice and transform them into an epic defender. In my solo saga deck, Sam Gamgee gets loaded with a Hobbit Cloak, Staff of Lebethron and Sting, and ends up laughing off most attacks. This just goes to prove that you never have to take any card at face value – the card pool gives you plenty of options for brining out the hidden qualities in a hero.

Inspired by your votes, I am planning on building a deck with Beregond, Denethor and Erkenbrand and attempting to survive the Siege of Cair Andros. That is one of my all-time favorite quests, and these heroes should be well-suited to the task of holding off the onslaught of the enemy. Keep an eye out soon for a video (with deck list) of this bit of community-driven deck building.

Thanks to everyone who voted, and be sure to vote in the latest poll which is online now. Lastly, I want to give special acknowledgement to the brazen individual with the write-in vote for Spirit Pippin. Whoever you are, you are my winner of Troll of the Week!

Hero Votes %
Beregond (HoN) 139 35.28%
Denethor (Core) 47 11.93%
Erkenbrand 36 9.14%
Frodo Baggins (CatC) 28 7.11%
Elrohir (TRG) 20 5.08%
Boromir (TDM) 19 4.82%
Dain Ironfoot (RtM) 17 4.31%
Gimli (Core) 13 3.3%
Elrond (SaF) 12 3.05%
Gandalf (TRD) 8 2.03%
Aragorn (Core) 7 1.78%
Bilbo Baggins (THfG) 6 1.52%
Sam Gamgee (TBR) 6 1.52%
Beorn (TH:OHaUH) 5 1.27%
Eleanor (Core) 4 1.02%
Aragorn (TWitW) 4 1.02%
Treebeard (ToS) 4 1.02%
Idraen 3 0.76%
Prince Imrahil (AJtR) 2 0.51%
Mablung (NiE) 2 0.51%
Gloin (Core) 2 0.51%
Bombur (TH:OtD) 2 0.51%
Posted in Community, Deck Building, Poll Results | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Gothmog’s Dark Corridor 2: The Dunland Trap

On behalf of his highness Morgoth, supreme Valar, I welcome you back to my Corridor.

By request of puny mortals, I have decided that my Corridor will now focus upon one of two things: difficult encounters and community-requested encounters. This next edition happens to be both. We are going to look at the draw hating, absolutely invulnerable monster packing, time-based quest from my next vacation spot Hell, The Dunland Trap.

Pulls pen out of pocket protector and powers on TI 86

Numbers first, of course. The Dunland Trap consists of three encounter sets, The Dunland Trap, Dunland Warriors, and Weary Travelers. Thanks to the influx of treacheries from Weary Travelers, this encounter deck is a perfect balance of monsters, locations, and treacheries– 15 of each for a total of 45 cards. A mere 22 of these cards have a shadow effect, making only a 52.4% chance of a shadow card coming from the deck (accounting for the cards removed during setup that can’t come from the deck). The main goal of these cards is to punish card draw with horrible forced effects. While this quest varies from others of the cycle in that it rarely punishes one for having lots of cards in his or her hand, it is seemingly always punishing the act of drawing a card– and often it punishes everyone, not only the person who actually drew the card. This will turn you power thirsty humans on one another faster than Ungoliant can kill a forest.

The scenarios of this encounter are pleasing to me. The first, The Road to Tharbad, has 18 progress and a Time 2 keyword. This means that it’s nearly impossible for you to quest through it before the Time Effect triggers. This effect makes you discard your hand and draw 2 cards. Before you think drawing those two cards as nice, remember what quest you’re on: Drawing cards is your biggest evil in this quest. It can cause anything from raising the threat of a location by 1 to instantly being punched in the face by a monster. So now that we’ve established that your hand WILL be going into the toilet (fun fact, balrogs have to use the bathroom in total darkness… we are shy), let’s look what else this encounter has to offer. When you start the game, you have to search the encounter deck for a Boar Clan enemy and put it into play engaged with you. So let’s recap: You are guaranteed to have an enemy engaged with you (when’s the wedding date, puny human?), you have two turns to quest for 18 progress before the time ticker goes off, and that time ticker will make you discard your hand AND draw. Sounds pretty great to me!

If you can manage to get past the first scenario card, you’re in for a treat! The second one leaves almost immediately! All that happens in A Well Laid Trap is you add a 6 quest point location that adds +1 attack and defense to every monster in the encounter deck, discard all of your in play items and mounts, discard all but one of your in play allies, choose an enemy from the deck or discard pile to engage, and draw a card. But hey, you get to shuffle your discard pile into your deck! Fun, right!? Right!? Beautiful human tears… It’s a shame it leaves at the end of the combat phase…

So now you’ve moved onto step 3, and it’s only a 3 step program, so be glad of that, mortal! This scenario card, No Way Out, is simple, all you need to do is not lose a hero before the time runs out. After the time runs out (5 times the number of players Time counters), the enemy gets to sucker punch you one last time and if you live, you win. Simple right? Oh, also Chief Turch is there engaged with the first player. He’s impossible to remove from play, so don’t bother attacking him,

Now lets look at the exceptionally brutal cards that the encounter deck will be throwing at you while you work.


Dunland Chieftain is my pick for prettiest monster. Not only does he boast 5 attack and 9 one round toughness (defense + HP), he bolsters it with 3 threat and a nice effect that punishes players for having cards in their hand by giving them more baddies to fight. Amazing! His one round toughness is above the average 5.9 of the encounter deck, with a threat of 3 exceeding the average of 2.5. Dunland Chieftain’s only drawback is his reasonably high encounter number. However, many of you puny humans are bringing very threatening heroes with you to try to tackle this quest, so that’s not a huge concern.

The location was a simple choice for me, as this is a very pleasing location to see on the board– Munuv Duv Ravine. This location enters play as the active location, has 6 quest points (the quest average is 3.87), and boosts the attack and defense of every monster in the encounter deck by 1. Additionally, if you do manage to move it to the staging area, it has 4 threat, which skims above the average of 3.8 for the quest. It’s so diabolical that it makes Joffrey Lannister seem kind (balrogs love Game of Thrones, it’s beautiful with all of the dying and such). There’s not much else to say on this one, you silly “brave” adventurers can’t avoid seeing it, and it simply makes your job awful in every way. On behalf of Sauron, you’re welcome.

The treachery was a bit harder of a choice, but I have one that makes my Mortal Enemy, Adam of house Stapley, especially angry: In Need of Rest. This treachery attaches to a hero and deals a damage whenever a Time counter is removed. Because both of the sustaining scenario cards have time counters, this is essentially a dead hero when encountered early on, and this is not a quest that takes lightly to that. Oh, it also removes that hero from the quest, just as an extra black-axe-to-the-face kick in the stomach.

I also chose a shadow card of concern. Dunland Berserker causes the attacking enemy to make an additional attack. This is universally awesome. It either takes away shadow cancellation from the adventurers, exhausts a character, or (hopefully) damages/kills a character and then goes again! Because there are 17 shadow cards that increase damage, the next attack may well come back stronger than the first (you know, that one that you blocked with the person you actually wanted to block it).

“How will such small, insignificant humans ever conquer this, Gothmog?” you ask. Well, good thing Gothmog, the reigning “Best Tactician” since the death of Voldemort (did you know the “t” is silent? It’s French), has you covered. Try including some of the following:



While there are normally preferred ways to raise one’s defense, Dunedain Warning sticks out in this quest. When moving to scenario 2A, all players must discard their items. Dunedain Warning is a good way to increase defense that stays, as it’s a signal. This makes it superior to the likes of Gondorian Shield and Raven-winged Helm.


Close Call is a good choice here. This quest doesn’t take the average set of heroes very long, and losing due to threat has rarely been a concern in my observation. This can be a get out of jail free card in the right situation, as long as you haven’t been failing to quest often.


Ride Them Down. This allows you to not be wasting that progress you’re making on the “unprogressable” phase 3 quest. It also deals direct damage, making it easy to bypass the high defense of a few monsters in the encounter deck, and before they get a chance to attack no less. Additionally, it makes those characters that you put in to help you past the 18 quest point first scenario still be useful.


Elrond, the puny half elf of legend, is hugely helpful here. Namely the ally version. He allows you the utility to remove one of the several nasty Condition attachments of the encounter deck or heal all of the damage on that hero that has been defending everything, but also gives you a strong defender for the turn. His utility puts him as my most useful card from a sphere that seems half-detrimental in this quest (being the sphere where most card draw lies and all).

An honorable mention goes here for any card that uses the words “add to your hand” rather than draw. It’s a loophole which allows you to get extra cards into your hand without being punished by the quest.

Being as this quest hates a very necessary and common part of a deck, and it discards some of the best attachments mercilessly, it requires a reasonably specialized deck. Because of this, and its difficulty even with a specialized deck, I give The Dunland Trap 7 evils out of 10.

I’d like to leave you hideous readers with an example deck that someone with the tactical mind of a balrog would construct to beat this quest. In fact, Adam of the house Stapley defeated this quest 2 out of 5 times with the following deck:

Elladan Elrohir Galadriel

Elladan (RtR)
Elrohir (TRG)
Galadriel (CS)

Weather Hills Watchman (TLR) x3
Galadriel’s Handmaiden (CS) x3
Naith Guide (TDT) x2
Legolas (ToS) x1
Galadhon Archer (NiE) x2
Gandalf (Core) x1
Arwen Undomiel (TWitW) x2
Imladris Stargazer (FoS) x1

Elrond’s Council (TWitW) x2
Gaining Strength (TSF) x3
Tighten Out Belts (NiE) x3
Ride Them Down (TAC) x2
Close Call (TDT) x3

Dunedain Warning (CatC) x3
Dunedain Signal (RtM) x1
Dunedain Mark (THfG) x3
Light of Valinor (FoS) x2
Unexpected Courage (Core) x2
Nenya (CS) x2
Mirror of Galadriel (CS) x2
Rivendell Blade (RtR) x2
Elven Mail (TTT) x2
Gondorian Shield (TSF) x1
Dagger of Westernesse (TBR) x1
The Day’s Rising (TAC) x1

Posted in Fun, Gothmog's Corridor, Strategy | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Beorn’s Path 16 – Flight from Moria


We continue Beorn’s Path with the third and final quest of the Khazad-dûm deluxe expansion: Flight from Moria. Dain leads the courageous Longbeards out the treacherous mines and into the relative safety of the Dimrill Dale. The technical issues from last episode have been resolved, so this recording is of much better quality. I’ve changed the deck a bit, both to improve consistency with some card draw and also to help players that only want to use a single copy of the Core Set.

Watch Beorn’s Path 16 – Flight from Moria

Here is the deck list for this episode:

Dain Ironfoot (RtM)
Thalin (Core)
Bifur (KD)

Allies: 28
Henamarth Riversong (Core) x1
Erebor Record Keeper (KD) x3
Erebor Hammersmith (Core) x2
Veteran Axehand (Core) x3
Daughter of the Nimrodel (Core) x3
Gondorian Spearman (Core) x3
Miner of the Iron Hills (Core) x2
Faramir (Core) x2
Gandalf (Core) x3
Longbeard Orc Slayer (Core) x2
Gleowine (Core) x2
Dunedain Watcher (TDM) x2

Attachments: 12
Dunedain Warning (CatC) x3
Steward of Gondor (Core) x2
Narvi’s Belt (KD) x3
Dwarrowdelf (KD) x2
Protector of Lorien (Core) x2

Events: 10
Sneak Attack (Core) x2
Feint (Core) x2
Quick Strike (Core) x2
Lorien’s Wealth (Core) x2
Valiant Sacrifice (Core) x2

Posted in Beorn's Path, OCTGN, Videos | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Gothmog’s Corridor 1: The Hunt for Gollum

Welcome, readers. I invite you to a read the first of many articles by a new guest author: Gothmog, Lord of the Balrogs. While he isn’t busy making war upon the Eldar, Gothmog enjoys writing strategy articles about The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game. I hope that you appreciate his unique perspective as much as I do. –Beorn

250px-Ted_Nasmith_-_Fingon_and_GothmogOn behalf of his highness, Morgoth, lord of darkness and most powerful of Valar, I welcome you to my Dark Corridor. Allow me to introduce myself.

I am Gothmog, lord of all Balrogs, slayer of Feanor, right hand to Morgoth, and high captain of Angband. My terror is of legend both sides of Belegaer. My evil has left Middle Earth, but I live on vicariously through the evils Sauron (of which I would like it to be known, was Morgoth’s LEFT hand man, history has that one all wrong) unleashes unto would-be heroes through the encounter deck. Being as the core set has been examined a million times by others, I would like to start my journey of evil with the first expansion quest: The Hunt for Gollum.


Puts on reading glasses, pulls up spreadsheet

Let us start our endeavor by looking at the numbers. As a Balrog, I love numbers more than Gandalf loves hobbits. Tasty, delicious hobbitses.

This particular quest is made of three encounter sets: Sauron’s Reach, Journey Down the Anduin, and, of course, The Hunt for Gollum. These combine to a total of 48 cards: 4 objectives, 13 enemies, 16 locations, and 15 treacheries. Of these cards, 23 of them have a shadow effect. We can learn a few things from this. First, the chances of any given attack having a shadow card is essentially a coin flip. Second, we see that this deck is very balanced in terms of types of encounter, meaning you’ll always have to be prepared for all three types of encounter. Diabolical, I love it! Seemingly contradictory to what I just said, this encounter has a relatively large amount of treacheries. About 1/3 of the encounter deck is treacheries, which is balanced in terms of raw numbers, but higher than the amount you’ll see in some other quests. This could be a boon or a burden for the puny adventurers, we will look into that later!

However, the ratios and numbers of an encounter deck are like a Maiar’s appearance– not really that important. Let’s look at how that encounter deck is used by observing closer the scenario cards. The Hunt for Gollum is three stages, coming in a linear three cards. First opinion of these cards shows a bit of a double edged blade across the three, let’s look closer. The first stage, The Hunt Begins, has a forced effect causing the players to, after questing successfully, look at the top three cards of the encounter deck, choose one, reveal and add that one to the staging area, and discard the others. At first sight, this seems relatively brutal; an extra card revealed each turn could be very helpful for the evil forces to defeat these wanna-be heroes. The secret, though, comes in the form of the objective cards. This pseudo-scrying effect allows players to find clues as to where Gollum has been much more efficiently and reliably than would otherwise be possible. The 8 progress it takes to advance past this stage is simply not very many, but a smart adventurer would likely want to take his or her time on this stage and try to gather a few clues.

The second stage, A New Terror Abroad, is pretty much the same as the first, except for instead of picking one of the top three cards after questing successfully, it’s at the start of every quest phase. This is slightly harder, as you could possibly be adding threat to the staging area, but adventurers would handle this the same way.

The third stage is where things get interesting. On the Trail has you finally chasing Gollum, and is a straight forward quest with 8 progress to be made. There is a catch though– only players who control at least one Clue objective can commit characters to quest, and if there are no Clue objectives attached to a hero, you have to go back to step 2. This sound delightfully demented, but in practice is slightly underwhelming. However, when you do lose to an increase of threat due to inability of your teammates to quest it is just so infuriating that it makes me happier than Earendil at sea.

The final part of our look into the encounter deck has me most excited! I’ll look at my favorite of each type of encounter card. Let’s not waste any time and kick it off with my favorite enemy.


Hunters from Mordor carry 6 health and 2 defense, making them no pushovers! If you remove them from the deck, the average one-round toughness of a monster (the average of defense plus health) is a mere 2.625. A 3 attack hero can single-handedly keep an adventurer afloat. Then come these guys, with more to offer than their 8 one-round toughness. Their 2 threat and 2 attack scale with clues– for each clue they increase both by 2. If you’re playing a 4 player game and want everyone to quest in round 3, you’re looking at a 10 threat, 10 attack behemoth with no simple way to take down. This enemy is the most threatening in the encounter deck, and while, perhaps seemingly a little lack luster, there are 5 copies of this beast. The number of copies, mixed with the potentially huge amounts of threat and damage, make this my choice for enemy to watch for. They also carry a shadow effect that damages the Clue holders. Being as there are 5 copies in the deck, it’s great to think that the heroes might be combo’d out from your chump blocking.

In the location department, this quest is sadly lacking. There are no 10 threat locations or locations that mess with you in the staging area, only reasonably low quest point locations that have “when this location is active” effects. In fact, the average quest points per location is only 2.8, with an average threat of only 2.35 (with a minor skew due to two “X” threat locations). None of those statistically are very delightfully diabolical, and that makes me cry a single flaming tear. I still chose one to look out for, and my choice is The West Bank. This location has 3 threat and 3 quest points, and when it’s active it increases the cost of both attachments and events by 1. This is a minor inconvenience, sure, but it could mess up the hero’s momentum and prevent that key Feint from being played.

The treacheries in this quest are okay. Some of them are a little weak for my liking, I’d prefer one that says “immediately deal 15 damage to all heroes,” but I’ll take what I can get. Overall, I would say that a treachery is a welcome sight in most cases with this quest, they’ll help a stray group of fools from being location locked. There is one that I like a lot though; Old Wive’s Tale. This treachery exhausts any hero without resources. The fact that this treachery exists, and in multiple copies no less, makes you think twice about spending all of your resources on your primary defensive and offensive heroes. Whenever my mortal enemy of whom I hope always loses to the quest (is that what humans call a friend?) plays this, he seems to always have this card in the back of his mind. By definition, that makes this my treachery to watch for.

Let’s now look at shadow effects. We have already taken the numbers, 47.9% of the cards have a shadow effect. However, not all shadow effects were created equally, let’s look at my favorite. Bar none, the most potentially devastating shadow effect is The Old Ford. This card discards from play every ally with a printed cost lower than the number of Riverland locations. That means that those low threat locations that you’re leaving in the staging area simply because they have a bad effect if they become active are soon going to wipe your entire ally line. Seeing something like that would really get my whip a’flamin.

For my last observation, I’d like to switch things. I want to observe a card from each sphere that an underdog hero might bring into battle– one that his puny friends might mock him for, but would be especially effective against this particular quest.



My choice of card from the lore sphere is the Ravenhill Scout. While the ability to move progress from location to location is normally not amazing, this quest contains almost exclusively quests that have “when this is the active location” effects. Ravenhill Scout lets you  move progress that you’re placing on perhaps a not very scary active location and clear staging area locations, so that they never have to become active. Smart.


My choice for Leadership is Dunedain Watcher. Normally I find this ally underwhelming, as it’s kind of everywhere (including in my mouth, I love roasted Dunedain). However, with a quest being so spectacularly balanced in the types of encounter cards, you need to be prepared for everything. Dunedain Watcher can quest or defend depending on whether you’re under pressure from locations or monsters, and it can even cancel a shadow effect if needed. A smart adventurer might play Dunedain Watcher with the intent of chipping away at a quest, and take the added bonus of canceling a key shadow effect with open arms.


Desperate Alliance. A card that’s coastered for most quests. This recommendation is mostly for 3 or 4 player games, but could be useful in a 2 player game as well. On phase 3 when a player cannot commit to questing unless they control a clue, this can be life saving. A player could commit his or her heroes, then play this card, giving the hero with a clue to another player who doesn’t have a clue, who can then commit his or her heroes as well! Sure it’s a bit finicky, but I can see it winning a game easily enough.


None. I am choosing no spotlight here. It’s not that Tactic’s isn’t useful in this quest, but it seems there aren’t any odd-ducks in the sphere that really stick out. I think that will be a bit of a common theme with Tactics as we look into more encounter sets, as Tactics is the most “one trick pony” of the spheres. The staples are still good, but those that are rubbish are still, mostly, rubbish.

This quest, while enjoyable, is not the most innovative or difficult quest ever released (good one, Sauron. Why don’t you just go ahead and destroy the ring yourself if you’re going to make it this easy). Because your staple cards are still staples, and a standard deck will fare well, I give this encounter deck an overall evil of 4/10.

Posted in Fun, Gothmog's Corridor, Strategy | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Beorn’s Path 15 – The Seventh Level

Bear on Bridge
After a lengthy hiatus, Beorn’s Path has returned for Part 15. This time around we are exploring The Seventh Level of Khazad-dûm with Dain Ironfoot and his trusty army of dwarves. My apologies as the video is a bit cut off on the lower right side. I will be smoothing out these technical difficulties as I continue the series. By using video instead of written articles, I can avoid the lengthy process of transcribing and editing session reports for each scenario. I have included the deck list below, along with suggested substitutions for players who do no own two copies of the Core Set. Let me know what you think in the comments and I look forward to resuming Beorn’s Path!

Watch Beorn’s Path 15 – The Seventh Level

Dain Ironfoot (RtM)
Thalin (Core)
Bifur (KD)

Allies: 26
Erebor Record Keeper (KD) x3
Erebor Hammersmith (Core) x3
Veteran Axehand (Core) x2
Daughter of the Nimrodel (Core) x3
Gondorian Spearman (Core) x3
Miner of the Iron Hills (Core) x3
Gandalf (Core) x3
Longbeard Orc Slayer (Core) x3
Gleowine (Core) x3

Attachments: 14
Dunedain Warning (CatC) x3
Steward of Gondor (Core) x3
Narvi’s Belt (KD) x3
Dwarrowdelf Axe (KD) x2
Protector of Lorien (Core) x3

Events: 10
Parting Gifts (AJtR) x2
Sneak Attack (Core) x3
Feint (Core) x3
Quick Strike (Core) x2

With a single Core Set, you lose the following 8 cards:
Erebor Hammersmith x1
Miner of the Iron Hills x1
Longbeard Orc Slayer x1
Gleowine x1
Steward of Gondor x1
Protector of Lorien x1
Sneak Attack x1
Feint x1

Here are the 8 cards that I suggest as replacements:
Henamarth Riversong (Core) x1
Faramir (Core) x2
Brok Ironfist (Core) x1
Dwarrowdelf Axe (KD) x1
Swift Strike (Core) x1
Lorien’s Wealth (Core) x2

Posted in Beorn's Path, OCTGN, Solo, Strategy, Videos | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Support The Hall of Beorn Card Search on Patreon

As the game grows in popularity, the Hall of Beorn Card Search is receiving more visitors every month. It is great for the game, and it is exciting to see the community around the game grow and mature. This also comes with a cost. Specifically, it costs money to host the search engine. I have started a Patreon account to help cover the hosting costs of the site. If you find the search engine useful, all that I ask is for $1 a month. This helps me to keep content up to date and continue adding new features. Thanks for your support!

Support me on Patreon!

Posted in Community, Hall of Beorn Card Search, News | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments