Beorn’s Path: Part 2 – Playtesting

In part 1 of Beorn’s Path, we combined the pre-built Leadership and Lore decks from the Core Set and trimmed them down to a 40 card deck. We tried to choose cards that worked well together and covered a number of strategic needs, including resource generation from Leadership and healing and card draw from the Lore sphere. We also discussed the first scenario from the Core Set, since this is the first challenge that the deck will face. Now it is time to playtest our deck by taking into a Passage Through Mirkwood.

What follows is a play through of the first scenario from the Core Set. Fantasy Flight has given this scenario a difficulty level of 1, but their difficulty levels are notoriously unreliable, and should be taken with a grain of salt. By combining what we hope are the best of the Leadership and Lore sphere cards from the Core Set, the goal is for our deck to be able to successfully navigate the dark forest.

Setup and Opening Hand

After shuffling our deck, we place our three heroes into play and set our starting threat to 28. Next, we will draw our starting hand and decide whether or not to keep it.

Gandalf Gleowine Guard of the Citadel Celebrian's Stone Secret Paths Steward of Gondor

This is a great hand. With Gleowine and Steward of Gondor, we have two of the three main aspects of this deck represented in our opening hand. The extra resources generated by Steward of Gondor will also help us pay for Gandalf, who is critical to help with combat and questing early on. Celebrian’s Stone is also great to have in the opening hand, after we attach it to Aragorn he will be questing for 4 willpower by himself, with only 1 willpower on each of our other heroes that extra 2 willpower makes a big difference. If our hand had not included Gleowine, or Steward of Gondor, or a strong combo like Gandalf and Sneak Attack, then we probably would have wanted to take a mulligan. In this case, we will keep our hand and move on to scenario setup.

Forest Spider Old Forest RoadThe setup for Passage Through Mirkwood is simple, we add a copy of Forest Spider and Old Forest Road to the staging area. Before we start the first round, we should examine both of these cards because there are effects on each of them that will help us to determine our early-game strategy. With a threat threshold of 25, we know that the Forest Spider is going to be engaging us right off the bat. Fortunately, the Response effect on Old Forest Road is going to help us deal with the spider; as long as we travel there first, we will be able to ready one of our heroes. Between this effect and Aragorn’s ability to ready after he commits to the quest, we should be well prepared to deal with those nasty arachnids. On the other hand, with a combined threat of 3, and one unknown card being revealed from the encounter deck, questing is going to be difficult this first round. This highlights one of the deficiencies of our current deck design, until we get Gandalf or preferably Faramir into play, our deck is not great at questing. The good news is that, with 28 starting threat, we should have a few round to get some allies to help us. Until we can build up this ally army, these first few rounds will be critical as we simply need to withstand the initial rush of the encounter deck and survive until help comes. With our starting hand determined, and the scenario setup, let’s continue to the first round.

Round 1:  Stage 1B – Threat 28

After adding one resource to each our of heroes we will draw our card for the resource phase. We drew a Radagast’s Cunning, which helps address our questing issues somewhat. Between this card and the Secret Paths in our opening hand, we have inexpensive ways to help deal with the threat in the staging area. Another way to think of these cards is +X willpower where X is the highest threat enemy, or location, in the staging area. Let’s move on to planning.

Steward of Gondor is an obvious first play as we want to get extra resource generation going as quickly as possible. Since we only have 1 Lore hero, we can be both strategic and thematically accurate by attaching Steward of Gondor to Denethor. We will then exhaust Steward of Gondor to add 2 more resources to Denethor’s resource pool. At this point Aragorn and Theodred are out of resources and Denethor has 3. We will use 2 of those to play Gleowine. So far, this deck is humming along, we have 2 of the 3 pillars of our design in play in the first round. Some healing would be nice, but hopefully the minstrel from Rohan will allow us to draw into some. We have 1 resource remaining on Denethor, which we are going to save for a our events.

Dol Guldur Orcs

Now that we are done with planning, we need to decide which characters to commit to the quest. Since we are planning on traveling to Old Forest Road and we can use the Theodred + Aragorn trick to make sure that the ranger can quest and remain ready, we will commit everyone to the quest except for Gleowine. He has 1 willpower, and his 2 hit points mean that he could survive a Necromancer’s Reach, but his ability to draw additional cards is too valuable for us to waste him on the quest at this point. So with 4 willpower committed to the quest, we reveal 1 encounter card from the top of the deck. It is Dol Guldur Orcs, not a very tough enemy, but they have a low threat threshold and a particularly nasty “when revealed” effect. Since Aragorn will most likely be taking an undefended attack in the near future, we will go ahead and have Theodred take the 2 damage from this card. We now have 5 threat in the staging area against our 4 willpower. We really don’t want to take any threat this early, and it’s a good idea to always try to make progress on the quest, so let’s pay the last resource from Denethor to play Radagast’s Cunning on the Dol Guldur Orcs. With their threat nullified for this phase, we are now 1 willpower greater than the 3 threat in the staging area, so we place 1 progress on the first quest stage.

For the travel phase, we obviously want to take a stroll down the Old Forest Road. After doing so, let’s ready Denethor to help with defending. For engagement, both the Forest Spider and Dol Guldur orcs are coming our way, with the spider receiving a +1 attack this round from its Forced effect. On to combat.

After dealing each enemy a face down shadow card, we need to assign blockers. Since the Spider now has a 3 attack, we will block them with Denethor. We could let the orcs attack undefended, but at this point we have Gandalf in our hand, so we know that help is on the way. Rather than risk an early hero death, which would probably mean a game loss, we will just hold our ground and assign Aragorn to defend the Dol Guldur Orcs. The spiders attack first revealing a harmless Eyes of the Forest as their shadow card, so Denethor is exhausted but takes no damage. Sadly, with Aragorn’s defense, we will not be so lucky.


We reveal the shadow card for the Dol Guldur Orcs, and it is Hummerhorns! One damage to each character definitely qualifies as a nasty shadow effect, but this also illustrates the risk that one takes letting attacks go unopposed. If we had chosen not to block the orcs, Hummerhorns would have done 2 damage to everyone and killed our Rohirrim, Theodred and Gleowine. With only one of these in the deck, it’s a bit of bad luck seeing it first turn, but fortunately its effect didn’t kill any of our characters. Aragorn’s defense of 2 is enough to handle the attack, and he is left exhausted so we don’t have anyone ready to counter-attack. Before ending the combat phase, we will exhaust Gleowine and draw a Son of Arnor; good timing, we can use another attacker to help clear out some of these enemies. So we ready all of our cards, raise our threat to 29, and move on to the next round.

Round 2: Stage 1B (1 of 8 progress) – Threat 29

With two enemies already engaged with us, we need to find some combat help, and quickly. Theodred already has 3 damage on him so it would also be good to find some healing. After adding resources and exhausting the Steward of Gondor, we have 1 resource each on Aragorn and Theodred and 3 on Denethor. Next, we draw a Common Cause, not the healing that we were hoping for, but it may still come in useful. With so much damage on our heroes, we really want to try and draw a Daughter of Nimrodel or Self Preservation, so we’ll go ahead and take the risk of using Gleowine before the quest phase. With treacheries that damage exhausted characters, this is a calculated risk, but healing Theodred has become a priority. We draw a Protector of Lorien, not what we were hoping for, but again, it may come in handy. To finish our planning phase, we will play Celebrian’s Stone and Protector of Lorien on Aragorn and save two resources on Denethor.

Dol Guldur Beastmaster

With planning done, and the staging area empty, we will commit Aragorn and Theodred to the quest, again using Theodred to add a resource to Aragorn, which we can then spend to ready Aragorn. Revealing the top card of the encounter deck, we have a Dol Guldur Beastmaster. With a threat threshold of 35, fortunately, we won’t have to deal with this bad-boy just yet. So, thanks to a certain elf-stone, we have 5 total willpower committed to the quest against the 2 threat of the Beastmaster. This means that we quest successfully for 3 progress, which is just enough to explore Old Forest Road. We could discard cards to Protector of Lorien, but at this point it wouldn’t even complete the quest stage, and many of those cards will be more useful in play than in our discard pile. Since we have no desire to optionally engage the Beastmaster, now comes the onerous task of combat. With 2 enemies still engaged, we definitely have our work cut out for us.

Since we know that another Hummerhorns can’t come up as a shadow card, and the biggest attack bonus on a shadow card in this scenario is +1, it looks like it may be time to take one of these attacks undefended. First of all, we will assign Denethor to block the Forest Spider, who is now only attacking for 2. Next we will let the Dol Guldur Orcs’ attack go undefended and cross our fingers. Revealing the shadow card for the spider, we have Great Forest Web, so Denethor again survives unscathed. For the Dol Guldur Orcs, we breathe a sigh of relief as another non-shadow effect is revealed. We will take the 2 points of damage from that attack on Aragorn. At this point our heroes are looking pretty beat up so we really need to get to some healing, urgently. Since Aragorn did not defend this time, he is ready to attack and he will kill the Dol Guldur Orcs with one swing of his sword. All that is left of round 2 is refreshing our exhausted cards and raising our threat to 30.

Round 3: Stage 1B (1 of 8 progress) – Threat 30


With our threat growing, and enemies massing, it looks like it’s time for the Grey Wizard to make an appearance. After adding one resource to our Leadership heroes, and 3 to our steward, we draw, and it is another Gleowine. We still can’t seem to draw the healing that we are looking for, and since we know that we can replace Gleowine if he is killed off, we will again take the risk and use his ability during the planning phase. Still no luck, as we draw a Secret Paths. Now is the turning point in the quest, we need to make a push to once and for all get ahead of the encounter deck so that we can get some momentum going. By paying 5 resources from Denethor, we play Gandalf, who immediately kills our engaged Forest Spider. With two Leadership resources we play a Guard of the Citadel who can help us with some much-needed willpower.

The Necromancer's Reach

Now we come to the quest phase, it is dangerous to keep questing with Theodred while he has 3 damage on him, but we need Aragorn to keep standing back up, so it’s a calculated risk. With Gleowine drawing extra cards, the hope is that we will see one of the healing cards from our player deck before we see a Necromancer’s Reach from the encounter deck. We could hold him back, but with only 2 threat in the staging area, we need to really try to push through on questing. So we will commit Theodred, a readied Aragorn and a Guard of the Citadel. Gandalf is going to hang back so that he and the Ranger can handle the Dol Guldur Beastmaster. Time to reveal one card from the encounter deck, and it is, The Necromancer’s Reach! This kills Gleowine and Theodred, and things are looking pretty grim.

Hindsight is 20/20 and we could have done things differently to save Theodred, but there are always trade-offs. Without the extra resource from Theodred, Aragorn would not have readied, which means that he would have taken damage from the Necromancer’s Reach and we would not have had enough strength to finish of the Dol Guldur Beastmaster before Gandalf left play. Still, questing with Theodred was a mistake, and one that we should learn from. We also got a hearty dose of bad luck by not drawing any healing, which points to a deficiency that we should address when we make tweaks to our deck. So with 5 committed willpower against the 2 threat of the staging area we will make 3 progress. We now stand with 4 progress on the first stage of the quest.

We will optionally engage the Dol Guldur Beastmaster and assign Denethor to block him. The Beastmaster gets two shadow cards, one of which is a harmless Necromancer’s Pass and the other, a Forest Spider, forces us to discard our Protector of Lorien. With the Beastmaster defended, and Denethor unscathed, Aragorn and Gandalf quickly dispatch our engaged enemy on the counter-attack. So through bad luck and a mistake, we lost a hero, but the staging area is clear and hopefully we still have enough to push through and be successful on this quest. Only having 1 Leadership resource per turn is going to be a challenge. After refresh, we stand at 31 threat with our work cut out for us.

Round 4: Stage 1B (4 of 8 progress) – 31 Threat

With one less hero, our Steward of Gondor is going to have to carry an even heavier load. After adding a resource to Aragorn and Denethor we draw, and it’s still not any healing! Son of Arnor can be good, especially when paired with Forest Snare, but right now he is looking pretty expensive. With 2 of the 3 resources from Denethor we will go ahead and play our second copy of Gleowine. Since we still don’t have any healing, we will wait to use his ability until after the quest phase.

Forest Gate

For questing we will send Aragorn, who does not ready, and our Guard of the Citadel. Catching a break for once, we reveal a lowly Forest Gate from the encounter deck. With 5 willpower against 2 threat, we will make 3 more progress, almost enough to complete this stage of the quest. Sadly, Protector of Lorien is sitting in our discard pile, otherwise we could pitch a Son of Arnor to finally move on to stage 2. After traveling, we get more good news as Forest Gate allows us to draw an Erebor Hammersmith and Faramir. The Hammersmith can fetch our Protector of Lorien back for us, but the younger son of Denethor is the really important card here. If we can save up to pay for Faramir, we will have the willpower that we need to push through the rest of this scenario. With no combat, we will use Gleowine to draw a Forest Snare. This will come in handy if we need to face Ungoliant’s Spawn. Also, since we did not need to use him for defending, we can finally use Denethor’s ability and look at the top card of the encounter deck. Oh look, another copy of The Necromancer’s Reach. With no healing anywhere in sight, it’s not a hard decision to move that to the bottom of the encounter deck. With everyone readied, our threat creeps up to 32. Faramir can’t come soon enough.

Round 5: Stage 1B (7 of 8 progress) – 32 Threat

With 2 resources on Aragorn, we know that we need to save up for Faramir, so he is not going to be spending anything in the mean time. After drawing we now have 2 Erebor Hammersmith’s in our hand. At this point it is obvious that our deck is taunting us, the Daughters of Nimrodel are doubtless having a party on the bottom of our deck, most likely accompanied by all of our copies of Self Preservation. In any case, we must soldier on and work with what we’ve got. We will spend all 4 resources from Denethor to play both copies of Erebor Hammersmith. With nothing in the staging area, the goal here is to push through the quest before our threat gets too high, our Dwarven friends also have the distinct advantage that they can block orcs without spontaneously combusting. As an added bonus, we can trigger the Response on one of the Hammersmith’s and return our Protector of Lorien to our hands. I’ll leave the thematic explanation of a Dwarf restoring an Elven Title to relevance as an exercise for the readers.

Caught in a Web

So moving on to questing, this ally army is all the more important because at this point we can’t afford to use Aragorn’s ability to ready him after questing. So a Dunedain, a Guard of the Citadel and a Dwarf from Erebor walk into a bar… err… commit to a quest. Let’s see what fun the encounter deck has in store for us this time. Caught in  a Web! Oh boy, the hits just keep on coming. With Denethor still ready, and Steward of Gondor giving him 3 resources a turn, he is the logical choice to get tangled up. We may be able to manage this attachment, but another dwarf would be nice, since our deck doesn’t want to give us any elves. Miner of the Iron Hills is in this deck specifically to deal with cards like this.

Miner of the Iron Hills

On the bright side, we successfully quested for 6 progress which explores Forest Gate and finally completes stage 1 of the quest. Stage 2 has a measly 2 quest points so things are looking up. With no enemies to engage and no conceivable reason to exhaust Denethor for his ability when it would just get him tangled further, we are left with Gleowine and his card drawing ability. The minstrel sings us a fine song, bringing us: Miner of the Iron Hills! Yes, yes, yes. After 5 rounds of taunts and jeers, our deck has finally delivered. We now have a solution to the supremely annoying Caught in a Web, and we are on the cusp of playing Faramir to finally push our rag-tag army of allies onward to victory. With our threat at 33 we move on to round 6 with hope in our hearts.

Round 6: Stage 2B – 33 Threat

After adding resources we draw a Common Cause. Not the most exciting card, but it may yet come in handy. We know that Aragorn is saving up for Faramir, so the logical play here is to just have Denethor pay for the Miner of the Iron Hills. The Dwarf promptly untangles all of the cob-webs, freeing our steward to do cartwheels and hand-stands, and whatever other silly things one does as a steward of the greatest nation of men remaining in Middle-Earth.

East Bight Patrol

For questing, we will again have Aragorn, a Guard of the Citadel, and one Erebor Hammersmith will commit to the quest. The encounter deck decides to be kind for once, revealing only an East Bright Patrol. At this point, this is a card that I much prefer to see as an enemy than an ill-timed shadow card. The pitiful 1 defense and 2 hit points on this card will mean that it is easily dispatched by a certain heir of Isildur. With 6 willpower against the 3 threat of the patrol, we easily complete stage 2. At last, we have reached the final stage of our quest, in this case one of two stages that is selected at random. Don’t Leave the Path has no quest points but will require us to fetch a Spider and defeat Ungoliant’s Spawn before we can claim victory. The other path, named after yours truly, is the better one because it has 10 quest points but we only have to fight Shelob’s ill-gotten spawn if she shows up before we finish the stage.

After shuffling the two quest cards and picking one at random, we have our final stage of the scenario: Beorn’s Path! Never could there be a more poetic ending. Our first attempt at playtesting will finish on a quest stage named after this very series of articles and your friendly neighborhood bear. We have to win this scenario now, Eru Ilúvatar has willed it.

Common Cause

Lest we get ahead of ourselves, we still have to deal with the East Bight Patrol. They will engage and we are going to have our ready Erebor Hammersmith block them. After an ineffectual shadow card (another Caught in a Web!) the Dwarf takes 2 damage, but survives to see another day. Next, we will play Common Cause and exhaust Denethor to ready Aragorn. The Dunedain then easily sends the orcs to whatever hellish after-life is the destiny of their kind. Before ending the turn we will use Gleowine to draw a Secret Paths. Depending on what comes next round, this card may come in handy. So, with grim determination, and indomitable will, we raise our threat to 34 and prepare for the final quest stage.

Round 7: Stage 3B (Beorn’s Path) – 34 Threat

Because we kept our cool, and didn’t wander aimlessly through Mirkwood like a bunch of tourists, we were rewarded with the easier of the two stages for the end of this scenario. Since we only have to fight Ungoliant’s Spawn if it is revealed, that is the only card (barring surge) in the encounter deck that can prevent us from using Faramir to power through this stage and win the game. Fortunately, we have a certain palantír-wielding madman to ensure that we not only know what the top card of the encounter deck is, but, if it happens to be something that we don’t like, we can put it on the bottom of the encounter deck.


After collecting resources and drawing a, now meaningless, Sneak Attack, we will use Denethor’s ability to peek at the top card of the encounter deck. It is another Dol Guldur Beastmaster. There is no need to temp fate, so we will leave him there on the top of the encounter deck. With the knowledge that 2 threat is going to be in the staging area, all we have to do is quest for at least 12 and we will win the game. For planning, all we will do is pay our hard-saved 4 resources for Faramir. In the questing phase we trigger Faramir’s ability, giving all of our other characters +1 willpower until the end of the phase. We will now commit everyone to the quest except Denethor and his son, who are exhausted. This gives us 14 total willpower against the 2 threat from Dol Guldur Beastmaster and we win the game.

Score and Recap

We completed the quest with Theodred dead, 3 damage on Aragorn and 1 damage on Denethor. With a threat of 34 after 6 full rounds (rounds tally during the refresh phase) and no victory points, our final score is:

34 (threat) + 60 (rounds) + 8 (Theodred) + 3 (Aragorn) + 1 (Denethor) = 106

At this point, we probably don’t need to be too obsessed with our score, but 6 rounds is not too bad for our first time tackling this scenario with a freshly-made deck. Also, our score is useful as a baseline after we make changes to our deck. If we decide to come back later to try this scenario again, we can see how our new deck compares to the old one.

bear tracks 2

So after some bad luck and an early, and costly, play blunder, we managed to successfully navigate a Passage Through Mirkwood. Aside from being more mindful of heroes on death’s door, one lesson that we can take from this playtesting session is that we probably need more healing in our deck. When we first designed it, 2 copies each of Daughter of Nimrodel and Self Preservation seemed sufficient. We actually got lucky when it comes to shadow cards (Hummerhorns aside) in that we avoided any enemy attack-buffs. Between the combat, treacheries like The Necromancer’s Reach, and shadow card nastiness, healing is a very dire need for this deck. This is especially true because leadership is not as good at combat as Tactics. In the next article, we will examine in greater detail how our deck performed, and see how we can improve it before we continue on to the next scenario.

Well my friends, that is all for today. The bread is rising in the oven, and my tummy is grumbling like a bear cub. It’s a little known fact that skin-changers have two stomachs, and we thus have to eat twice as much. It was a fun day killing orcs with you all, check back soon as we continue down Beorn’s Path in search of more adventures.

This entry was posted in Beorn's Path, Deck Building, New Players, Playtesting, Strategy and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

32 Responses to Beorn’s Path: Part 2 – Playtesting

  1. TalesfromtheCards says:

    I think this is my favorite article that you have written so far. Very nicely done! Sometimes session reports like this can become a bit dry and mechanical but this one flowed well and had a nice does of humor and color along the way. And I know what you mean about those Daughters having a party at the bottom of the deck, they always seem to do that when they are most needed. Might need to have an intervention or something…

  2. Beorn says:

    Thanks, I really appreciate that. I agree, play-through reports can be tricky to keep interesting. Since this series is designed for new players I really want to be thorough in the coverage so people can get a sense for all facets of the game. With all of the mechanics and the variety of quests and encounter card effects, the game can seem intimidating at first.

    I hope that between this series and the fine work you are doing over at Tales from the Cards, we can help new players feel that they are part of a welcoming community and be better capable of tackling the more difficult scenarios. I really like what you are doing with the Deck Building 101 and Middle-Earth’s Arsenal series. Keep up the great work!

  3. Travis says:

    I also enjoyed this play report immensely! I only wish that there were links and/or images of all cards referenced on this post, in case we don’t remember them from the previous [deck-building] post. Having the card info handy removes the need to jump away from the article to remember card costs, etc.

    • Beorn says:

      Thanks Travis, I’m glad to hear that you enjoyed it. I will go back and add links when I have the chance. I would love to support the ability to mouse-over card names and display the image but I don’t have the time to setup the javascript that would be necessary for that. I will see if I can add more images in future articles, to make it easier to follow. Since the articles can get kind of cluttered if I include too many images, would it help if I just included card costs or other important information in parentheses after I mention the card?

      In any case, thanks for your support. Be on the look out, I will have the next in this series up soon!

  4. chlorine says:

    Very nice pair of articles! I was able to follow it even though I was to lazy to set up the cards on the table, and I found it really useful to read about your thoughts while you decide the next move.
    I’m looking forwards to the sequel!

  5. Pingback: Beorn’s Path: Part 3 – Deck Tuning | Hall of Beorn

  6. wiscarol says:

    Great stuff ! 🙂 Thx a lot

  7. tcsgamer says:

    Thanks very much for this.

    One question though. You said in the next article that card draw may be a problem in order to get to cards more quickly for healing. I found that having the two Gleowine’s in play helped me quite a bit in that. I was able to exhaust them in the planning phase and draw off two cards each round. I may not be playing that correctly as I’m still quite new to the game.

    I was able to win twice with this deck with a score of 107.

    • Beorn says:

      Hello tcsgamer, welcome to The Hall of Beorn!

      Unfortunately, Gleowine is unique (notice the little circle to the left of his name), which means that you can only have one copy of him in play at a time. I’m glad that you were able to win using this deck. Check out the rest of Beorn’s Path for more deck building advice and strategy tips for each of the scenarios. Good luck!

      • tcsgamer says:

        The pleasure is mine, sir.

        I had to read that twice to understand. I remember putting two Gleowine’s into the pack…but I did not know that he is unique and can only be in play once. I’ll need to keep that rule in mind. Well…it didn’t help last game as I got location after location on my encounter card. After a while, I couldn’t even quest to clear the original Old Forest ;P

        Great game. Loving the guide.

  8. John says:

    I’m just getting back into this game after shelving it closet after release, and am really digging this series! I do have a question about player action windows, though. In the Planning phase, the action window happens after the players finish up putting allies and attachments into play. This seems to me that on the first turn when Steward of Gondor is played, the resources generated from it couldn’t be used to play more allies. On subsequent turns the Steward action could be taken at the end of the Resource phase, and could be used to put in allies then.

    Am I misinterpreting the rules here? The player action windows do seem to be one of the most confusing aspects of the game to me, but maybe I just haven’t played enough games to memorize them.

    Great series regardless, and it’s really beneficial to those of us just starting out.

    • Beorn says:

      Hello John, and welcome to the Hall of Beorn. The rules about player action windows can be a bit confusing, so let me clarify how they work. At the end of the rule book there is a turn sequence diagram that shows player action windows for each of the phases in a round. You will notice that each of the sections in the Planning Phase has a green color.

      This means that player actions can occur at any time during the planning phase. In a two player game for example, I could play Lorien’s Wealth and allow you to draw three cards, even if you are the first player. The only ordering that matters for planning is that the first player has the first opportunity to play allies and attachments. Once they have passed on playing allies and attachments, the opportunity to play these cards moves to the next player.

      If you are the first player and I am second player, I would have to wait for my turn to attach Steward of Gondor on your hero. At that point, it would be too late for you to use those resources to pay for allies and attachments, because you have already passed on the opportunity. On the other hand, as long as you have not yet passed on your opportunity to play allies and attachments, playing Steward of Gondor on your own hero would mean that you still can use those resources.

      I hope this clears up any confusion. Let me know if you have any other questions about the game.

      • John says:

        That clears it up. I was using the UniversalHead summary page for action window reference, which doesn’t show that the entire Planning phase is open for actions. Your example is also a good reminder that when playing two players, you can play attachments on the other player’s heroes or allies, not just your own. Thanks!

  9. Throttle says:


    I’ve just finished a game of this and I won. This was the first time I’d ventured beyond playing with a mono sphere deck and I really enjoyed it. A few things came up though:

    1. I had Denethor in play with Steward of Gondor and Protector of Lorien attachments on him. I pulled Caught in a Web Treachery card (“Attached hero does not ready during the refresh phase unless you pay 2 resources from that hero’s pool”) from the Encounter Deck which I applied to Denethor also. At the time, Denethor was ready with Steward of Gondor exhausted.

    Does Steward of Gondor ready without having to pay the two resources? Can I continue to exhaust and ready Steward of Gondor without having to pay?

    2. When moving onto stage 3 of the quest, I drew 3B “Don’t leave the path” which requires zero progress tokens to complete but when revealed forces you to search for a spider card to add to the staging area. “The players must find and defeat Ungoliant’s Spawn to win this game.”

    If I had already defeated Ungoliant’s Spawn in an earlier part of the game, can I just select the least dangerous spider from the encounter deck and play that into the staging area, then kill that to win the game or do I need to find and kill Ungoliant’s Spawn again?


    • Beorn says:

      Hello Scott,

      I’m glad that you enjoyed your experience against Passage Through Mirkwood. Here are the answers to your questions:

      1. Attachments always ready and exhaust independently of the character they are attached to (unless the effect on the attachment card specifically says otherwise). This means that Steward of Gondor will always be ready at the beginning of the resource phase, regardless of whether or not you choose to pay the two resources for Caught in A Web (so that Denethor can ready). One other timing issue to note, Readying happens at the beginning of the Refresh phase, before player actions are allowed, so you will want to save 2 resources on Denethor during that round in order to be able to ready him during the Refresh phase. If, for example, you used the resources on Denethor to pay for some card, you would not be able to ready him during the refresh phase, even if you wanted to. This is because the player action window in the refresh phase, when you could exhaust Steward of Gondor for 2 additional resources, happens after he would ready (and thus after you would have to pay 2 to Caught in a Web).

      2. For Don’t Leave the Path, you have to defeat Ungoliant’s Spawn while that is the active quest card. It does not matter if you have defeated Ungoliant’s Spawn during an earlier quest stage, you will have to defeat it again. For this reason, you probably want to search the discard pile (or encounter deck, if you have already reshuffled) for Ungoliant’s Spawn so that you don’t have to wait for it come be revealed again. This is especially true because you want to avoid the Spawn’s “When Revealed” effect triggering before the quest phase resolves. Choosing to reveal the Spawn after you pass to 3B will mean that none of your characters are currently committed to the quest (since you just resolved that step) and you avoid this nasty effect.

      I hope these answers help clarify things for you. Good luck!

  10. MarkT says:

    Great help for a newbie to the game. I just have one question about your play report:
    When you traveled to the Forest Gate, that becomes the active location.
    You then go onto Quest successfully for 6 and say you managed to finish the quest stage as well. So 4 quest for the Forest Gate and the remainder on the quest.
    After reading the rule book – i thought i read that no quest points get carried over – so you would have to spend all 6 (1st 4) and remove the Forest Gate, but then you could not use the final 2 on the main quest card? Or am i reading the rules wrong?

    • Beorn says:

      The active location simply acts as a buffer for the current quest card. This means that progress must be put on the active location (if there is one), *before* it can be placed on the current quest card. Excess progress on the *quest* does not carry over to the next quest card, but if you make more progress in a given quest phase than the remaining quest points on the active location, you place any excess progress on the current quest. Once you have placed all progress, you check to see if the quest is resolved (just like you did for the active location). If the progress on the current quest card equals or exceeds the quest points and any other conditions on the card are met (e.g. text like “Players cannot defeat this stage while any Hill Troll cards are in play.”), then you have passed that quest stage. Progress *never* carries over from one quest stage to the next.


      1. The active location (when present) always acts as a buffer for the current quest card. This means that whenever you would place progress on the current quest, even through card effects like Legolas’ ability, you must place it on the active location first. The only exception to this rule would be effects that use the some form of the phrase “bypass the active location”. Any progress that would be placed on the active location which would exceed the quest points of that location is placed on the current quest card.

      2. The current quest stage does not carry over excess progress to the next quest stage. Any progress that would be placed on a QUEST CARD that would exceed the quest points on that card, is lost. Once you pass from one quest stage to the next, any progress tokens on the previous quest stage are returned to the token bank. The new quest card starts with no progress, regardless of whether or not their was excess progress on the previous card.

      For example, in Journey Along the Anduin, I may end up with 15 progress on the first quest stage, even though I only need 8. This could happen because the card says that I cannot pass to stage 2 while a Hill Troll is in play. Until I kill the troll, I keep accumulating progress on that first quest stage. Once I kill the troll, even though I have excess progress on the first stage, that card is set aside, and I move to stage 2 – with 0 progress tokens on that second quest stage. Whether there was excess progress on the quest card, or I made more than enough progress to pass the first stage, excess progress never carries over from one QUEST CARD to the next QUEST CARD.

      Hope this helps.

      • MarkT says:

        Ok I think so 🙂
        How I see it now then:
        Active QUEST card has a need for 2 progress (mirkwood 2nd stage) and I have traveled to a Forest Road as well (cant recall exact progress required – but say 2)

        I then quest successfully for 4 progress – I would be forced to put 2 tokens on the Forest road location (the buffer) – that resolves and removes itself to the discard. I then can place the remaining 2 progress tokens on the actual mirkwood QUEST card and also complete that and send it on its merry way and reveal the next QUEST.

        IF I had 3 progress left to place after the Forest Road – I would put 2 onto the QUEST card and it resolves, but the 1 remaining progress token goes back into the general supply rather than onto the new QUEST card revealed!

        I love this game – but need to start to understand the intricacies – seems the rules are not worded as clearly as possible – I think i’m one that needs more picture examples of game flow rather than text to help it all sink in.


      • Beorn says:

        Perfect, that’s it exactly. Don’t worry about getting it wrong, everyone (including this humble bear) experiences a learning curve when they first play this game. I am also a visual learner, so I would have preferred more diagrams in the rule book, as opposed to text. Even after hundreds of games, the best players will make mistakes from time to time – this game is fairly complex. The good news is that this game is also a tremendous lot of fun, so even the mistakes won’t hurt too much.

  11. Acorns says:

    I bought the core set when it first came out, read the first few pages of the rules and thought I will need to study these in depth! Over three years later and Watch It Played gave me enough of an idea to give it a go. I completed the first scenario with the standard spirit deck after a few tries but have since been banging my head against the second (Anduin) scenario. Love the game but I felt I couldn’t progress without some help. Which leads me to say Thank you so much! This is such a great and thoughtful series of articles which sets out some of the key considerations. Because you take the trouble to explain your choices I can now understand some of the pros and cons and, with hope, I will win another scenario. Fingers crossed, given I’ve purchased some of the expansions and saga sets 😁

  12. Pingback: Two Years of the Hall of Beorn | Hall of Beorn

  13. James says:

    I’m just curious about Celebrian’s Stone…

    When equipped to Aragorn, do you only gain the spirit resource ONLY ONCE, or does it trigger every resource phase while it’s attached to the hero?

    • Beorn says:

      Celebrían’s Stone has a passive effect which gives Aragorn the Spirit icon as long as it is attached. This means that you can use his resources to pay for Spirit cards (in addition to cards from his printed sphere) as long as he is holding the stone.

  14. Marcin S says:

    Hey Beorn, not sure if you still monitor the replies (as the blog entry is 2 years old).

    In calculating the score, you add (10x number of rounds). The instruction manual does not include this factor in the player score – is this just a metric that you use to compare decks?

    • Beorn says:

      If you look at the FAQ, they updated the scoring rules included in the Core Set rule book to include 10x the number of rounds. This adds incentive to finish a quest as quickly as possible.

      • msbs79 says:

        Ah, good point, thanks. I onky skimmed through the FAQ once as I played just the first mission from CS so far (new to the game and finding your articles very educational).

  15. Jared says:

    Why am I struggling here? I’ve played this 5 times, and I lost every single one. What am I doing wrong?

    • Beorn says:

      Howdy, Jared. I am curious how you are losing. Is your threat reaching 50? Are you being overrun by enemies and your heroes are defeated? If you could describe your games in a bit more detail, it will make it easier for me to help you. I would also recommend that you double-check the rules, the Passage through Mirkwood is a tutorial quest so you should be able to defeat it consistently with the deck list I’ve provided. Let me know what is causing problems, and I am happy to help.

      • Jared says:

        I am either being overran by villains, or I cannot travel and quest. I cannot seem to have enough allies and/or resources, even after mulliganing. I even dumbed the encounter deck to easy, and I was only able to win once. What is the point in playing a game with that kind of track record. I really want to like this game, but if I can’t reliably succeed, at the easiest level at the easiest setting, what’s the point?

      • Beorn says:

        That is curious, you should be able to consistently beat the first quest with the deck I’ve built. There are some excellent videos available online to help you learn to play, I encourage you to give them a look:

        Don’t give up hope – the game can seem quite difficult at first but with practice and patience you will get the hang of it. Best of luck!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s