An increasingly important part of the game is the shadow effects that are triggered during combat. Especially with scenarios like Siege of Cair Andros, these effects are becoming a greater danger. In these more shadow-heavy scenarios, particularly ones where a single shadow card can chain into multiple shadow cards, engaging multiple enemies without the aid of cancellation effects can lead to some very dead heroes.
The following is a list of some of the more nasty shadow effects found in the game, along with strategies for minimizing, or at least mitigating their impact on your deck. Every sphere has some way of dealing with shadow cards, so regardless of your deck, it pays to be prepared. Although Feint has received errata to no longer work on enemies engaged with other players, it still works just fine to avoid potentially hazardous shadow effects from enemies engaged with you. Leadership has Dunedain Watcher, Dawn Take You All, and Now Balin, to help deal with these effects. Hasty Stroke is an old standby for Spirit to cancel the most egregious shadow cards. Still, Lore remains the king of the hill when it comes to shadow cancellation, with A Burning Brand. I have covered that card in detail elsewhere so I will simply reiterate that any deck that includes a Lore hero should at least consider including A Burning Brand.
Khazad-dum has its share of horrible shadow effects, but arguably none are worse than this one. Using Dain Ironfoot as the primary defender is the staple of many dwarf decks. A Sudden Pitfall can make that particular strategy a game-ending one. Because this card uses the word “discard” instead of “destroy”, even saving effects like Landroval‘s are of no use to the defending character. To make matters worse, this card will always mean that the attack goes undefended, so it has the potential to take out two characters at once.
Interestingly, this is one of those rare shadow effects that actually rewards the player for letting an attack go undefended. Assuming the attacking enemy is not to powerful, and you have a character that can soak up the damage without being killed, the best way to mitigate this cards effect is simply not to block. Keep in mind, plenty of other shadow cards in this set, like Dark and Dreadful, get worse for undefended attacks, so your best strategy in this scenario is still to include some kind of shadow cancellation. In many scenarios, decks can get by without any direct means of dealing with shadow cards, but Into the Pit and Flight From Moria are not those scenarios.
The latest FAQ has largely de-fanged the When Revealed effect of these mangy mutts, but the shadow effect on this card still needs to be taken seriously. Allies like Gondorian Spearman, Defender of Rammas and Winged Guardian can be very effective going Into Ithilien. The defender and the eagles, in particular, can also contribute to siege quests assuming you have cancellation or are willing to risk this card’s When Revealed effect. However, with only 1 hit point, it is very risky assigning these allies to defend an attack, unless you can ensure that the enemy dies after defense is declared and before the shadow card is resolved.
If this card does happen to kill one of your weaker allies, or even finish off one of your bigger allies that was already wounded, you will be facing an undefended attack. With the size of the enemies in this scenario, this will often mean the death of one of your heroes, and almost certain defeat. This shadow effect, along with the forced effect of Celador, is indicative of how much Into Ithilien can punish a player for chump blocking. If you are bringing dwarves with you Into Ithilien, having Hardy Leadership can definitely help offset this card. Alternatively, Gondorian Spearman with a Spear of the Citadel and the aid of cards like Thalin and Swift Strike will allow you to kill your assailant before this card ever resolves.
Lost in the City
Another nasty shadow effects from the Heirs of Numenor deluxe expansion, Lost in the City can single-handedly turn the tide of a game. Even after the errata of Beravor, the game has seen a veritable explosion of card draw effects. Dwarves, in particular have benefited from this sudden bounty of cards. Between Ori, Legacy of Durin, We Are Not Idle, and now Bifur and King Under The Mountain, a Dwarf Deck can easily find itself with a dozen cards in hard, even in the early game.
A fist full of cards is all well and good, and a dwarf deck may feel invincible with some many options for dealing with Brigands and Thieves, but when this one shadow effect discards 20 cards, even the best deck can find itself without an answer. Worst of all, unlike many of the other cards we’ve discussed here, this card does it damage regardless of whether or not the attack was undefended. Even another player’s sentinel blocking helping out in your defense, will not keep those precious cards in your hand. Other than cancellation, the best way to mitigate this effect is simply to play quickly and aggressively. With so many effects that discard cards and remove resources, Peril in Pelargir is really designed to punish decks that prefer to build up slowly.
The first of the two Hobbit saga expansions brought many surprises and unique mechanics, the Sack deck in the opening scenario being a prime example. With each troll sacking at least one character after it engages, and treacheries and shadow effects that compound this, odds are pretty good that once the trolls are in play, at least one of your characters are sacked. Because of the nature of many of the sacks, often times the sacked character will be a hero. Having seen this card kill three heroes in one fell swoop during a three player game, I can personally attest to its potential for devastation.
Fortunately, the best way to deal with this card also happens to line up with the optimal strategy for the scenario. Managing your threat and engaging the trolls one by one is the best way to avoid getting overrun by their powerful attacks, and unwholesome forced effects. Because defeating a troll allows you to remove a sack on one of your characters, judicious use of Feint and other combat shenanigans can allow you to get your friend out of the sack before their is a risk of this card showing up. Alternatively, if you are fortunate enough to have the Troll Camp in play, Bilbo can exhaust and spend a resource to free a character (even himself, humorously) from one of these disgusting troll accessories.
Certainly, Snowstorm is the more well-know, and widely feared shadow effect in The Redhorn Gate. Nevertheless, with many multiple locations with 7 or more quest points, this card can absolutely destroy even the hardiest of defenders. What’s worse, unlike Snowstorm, which picks off low-willpower characters, this card can destroy even the most stout-hearted characters like Glorfindel, Aragorn or Thorin.
Other than cancellation, the best way to deal with this card is simply to minimize the number of turns that locations stay active. While Northern Tracker would ordinarily be a great solution to this, being able to explore locations from the staging area as he can, his single willpower makes him a risky choice in this particular scenario. Other forms of location control, such as Asfaloth, and Thror’s Map, may serve you better, not only to avoid this card in specific, but simply managing the risk of a location lock in the staging area.