Beorn’s Path: Part 8 – Playtesting (The Hunt For Gollum)

My apologies for the long wait on this article. Spring is a busy time for Bears. Once I shake off my hibernation sickness (really Han Solo, it’s not all that bad), I have Bee Pastures to tend, and whole new generations of smelly Orcs to crush in my massive paws. Fortunately, I’ve managed to stem back the tide of evil long enough to post this playtesting report from my recent Hunt for Gollum.

As the first adventure pack in the Shadows of Mirkwood cycle, the Hunt for Gollum is the first episodic, or multi-part, quest introduced in the game. At the conclusion of this scenario we will not be catching Gollum, we will simply have the clues that we need to continue on our hunt for the wily little creature. This quest has an interesting mix of challenges that will require careful planning and strategy to handle. Rather than be heavy on any one aspect (treacheries, locations, enemies) this scenario has a fairly even mix of everything, but it is the way that the encounter cards can synergize with each other that will most require us to be on our guard.

ImageMost of the enemies in the encounter deck are weak, but in the case of the Hunters From Mordor, they can become very strong, very quickly. With 2 defense and a whopping six hit points, we might be tempted to leave them alone, and worry about finishing them off later. This can be a devastatingly bad mistake to make. Because their threat and attack are each raised by 2 for each Clue card in play, they can very quickly become 6 threat, 6 attack monsters. A big part of our strategy for this quest will be predicated on handling these nasty fellows.

We may end up using Gandalf to weaken them in the staging area, then engage them and throw a chump blocker at them before finishing them off. Alternatively, in a nice bit of irony, we can trap the hunters in a Forest Snare. This is my preferred approach as it is not only strategically effective, but gives that extra bit of entertainment factor from seeing one of the Dark Lord’s hunters helpless caught with their leg in a trap. In such a situation, I can almost imagine Gollum somewhere in the shadows, just out of sight, sticking out his tongue and making faces as the hapless hunter becomes the prey.

Evil StormBut the hunters are not our our only concern in this scenario, we also need to be very careful with threat management. In particular, if we allow our threat to go over 35, Evil Storm can absolutely wreck our strategy of fielding an army of weak allies. Because both the first and second stages have us choosing and revealing additional cards from the encounter deck, we will need to be mindful of when it is safe to let this card trigger, and when it is best to just discard it. Between the extra cards and the synergistic effects, this scenario is very much designed to stall our questing efforts, putting us is much greater risk of an escalating threat and the negative effects that come along with that.

Enemies like Misty Mountain Goblins and Goblintown Scavengers are laughably weak, but they have effects which either raise the threat in the staging area, or actually remove hard-fought progress from the current quest. We should not underestimate these vermin; their stats may not be impressive, but if we do not deal with them swiftly and with precision, they can succeed in their mission to waylay us from our hunt.

The West BankThe East BankThis scenario also includes a plethora of locations that will try to clog up the staging area and slow us down. At 3 threat apiece, The West Bank and The East Bank are locations that we can’t really afford to leave in the staging area, lest we risk location-lock and losing the game. However, both of these locations hamper our abilities during planning, if we choose to travel to them. The West Bank as active location, will make key attachments like Steward of Gondor and Forest Snare that much harder to play. On the other hand, The East Bank makes allies cost an additional resource, a hindrance that our ally-heavy deck can ill afford to have if we are going to successfully field an army and quest to victory.

The golden rule with all of the locations in this quest is be to travel to them when we can, as much as possible, mitigate their effects, and only when we know for certain that we can explore them on our next turn. The Old Ford is another nasty location that can cause us to get stuck, with threat equal to the number of allies in play. Hopefully we can avoid that location, but just in case we should try to save our Secret Paths to cancel its threat on the round that it is revealed. We might be able to survive a round of getting stuck with some locations in the staging area (Gandalf and Faramir are great bail-outs for this), but if we get caught on either bank of the great river for too long, it is very unlikely that we will survive this quest.

Signs of GollumIf all of this wasn’t enough, the encounter deck also features a treachery, Old Wives’ Tales that will punish us for trying to save resources, and hold heroes back for combat. With this in mind, the natural strategy for this quest will be to play as much as we can during planning, quest aggressively, and be careful about where we travel, all while looking out for the Hunters from Mordor.

We don’t need a Signs of Gollum objective until we are ready to pass on to stage 3, and their are some nasty shadow effects that specifically target anyone with one of these objective attached, so there is no reason to claim one of them any earlier. There are treacheries that can shuffle them back into the deck, but in general we shouldn’t worry too much about getting a Clue when we need one, the ability to choose an encounter card from the top of the encounter deck at the beginning of the quest phase in the second stage, combined with Denethor’s own scrying skills, should enable us to claim one of these objectives at the right time.

Setup and Opening Hands

For this quest, the single most important thing is going to be cards that help us quest as quickly as possible. With that in mind we draw our opening hand of:

Valiant SacrificeForest SnareGandalfCelebrian's StoneSelf PreservationFaramir

This hand is perfect. Sure, we don’t have the resource generation that we will ultimately need to help pay for all of these cards, but the cards themselves are exactly what we need for power-questing. Between Celebrian’s Stone and Faramir, we should not have any problem questing very aggressively this game.

River NinglorWe will keep this hand and move on to scenario setup. In this case, setup is quite simple, we only need to reveal 1 card from the encounter deck, which ends up being a River Ninglor. This location is yet another example of an obnoxious hindrance of our stated goal to quest aggressively. If we leave it in the staging area, it will collect there with a bunch of other Riverland locations, only to haunt us later in the game. However, if we travel there, it  will start removing progress from itself and the current quest stage. We will need to tread carefully and only travel to this location when we can mitigate its effects. With setup complete, we are ready to move on to the first round of the game.

Round 1: Stage 1B (0 of 8 progress)
28 threat (First Player)
Hand: Valiant Sacrifice, Forest Snare, Gandalf, Celebrian’s Stone, Self Preservation, Faramir
— Aragorn: 1 resource, 0 damage (5 of 5 hit points)
— Theodred: 1 resource, 0 damage (4 of 4 hit points)
— Denethor: 1 resource, 0 damage (3 of 3 hit points)
Staging Area: River Ninglor

After collecting resources, we draw a Snowbourn Scout. This is actually a great card to draw at this point, as he is cheap, helps add a progress, and with Faramir at the lead, our lowly scout can even contribute to the quest. Later, he might even come in handy as a valiant sacrifice. For planning we will pay our 2 available Leadership resources to attach Celebrian’s Stone to Aragorn. Since we know that later we will have need of the Forest Snare and even potentially the Self Preservation, we will take the risk and have Denethor save his resource.

For the quest phase, we need to keep in mind that, when we quest successfully, we will have to choose and reveal one of the top 3 cards from the encounter deck. So while we want to quest aggressively, we don’t necessarily want to overextend so that we are unable to deal with what else comes off the encounter deck. With a stout heart, we will commit Aragorn and Theodred to the quest. We trigger Theodred’s ability to give Aragorn an extra resource, but we will not be triggering Aragorn’s ability to allow him to be ready. We need to get Faramir into play as quickly as possible, so at this point we are saving resources and hoping to avoid Old Wives’ Tales.

Treacherous FogFor staging we reveal a Treacherous Fog, which increases the River Ninglor’s threat by 1 and brings the total threat in the staging area to 3. With 5 willpower committed to the quest we are successful and place 2 progress on the first stage. Because we quested successfully, we must now look at the top 3 cards of the encounter deck and choose one to be revealed and added to the staging area. The top three cards are False Lead (which would surge), The Old Ford (bad news) and Pursued by Shadow. Given these lovely choices, we will reveal Pursued by Shadow which raises our threat by 1 since Denethor was not committed to the quest.

With that unpleasantness over, and no enemies in the staging area, we will go ahead and exhaust Denethor to trigger his ability. The top card of the encounter deck is the very innocuous Banks of the Anduin, which we will leave where it is. Now that we know what is coming next turn, we can do the math and see that we will be able to clear the River Ninglor if we decide to travel there this round. At the end of the round, it will remove 1 progress token from the first quest stage, but that is a worthwhile price to pay for removing 2 threat (and a Riverland) from the staging area. With travel complete, and no combat, we move on to refresh and raise our threat to 30. The River Ninglor’s effect removes 1 progress from stage 1 and we are left with 7 progress to go.

Round 2: Stage 1B (1 of 8 progress)
30 threat (First Player)
Hand: Valiant Sacrifice, Forest Snare, Gandalf, Self Preservation, Faramir, Snowbourn Scout
— Aragorn: 2 resource, 0 damage (5 of 5 hit points)
— Theodred: 1 resource, 0 damage (4 of 4 hit points)
— Denethor: 2 resource, 0 damage (3 of 3 hit points)
Staging Area: Empty
Active Location: River Ninglor

With resources collected we draw another copy of Faramir. The maybe not be the best thing to draw at this point, but this can at least serve as fuel for a late-game push with Protector of Lorien. Knowing what is coming from the encounter deck will drive our play this round. Since we don’t need to fear losing our resources, we can continue to save up for Faramir. We want other allies to multiply the effects of his ability, so we will spend 1 resource from Theodred’s pool to play the Snowbourn Scout. After he comes into play we will trigger his response and put 1 progress token on River Ninglor. With nothing that he can afford, Denethor will once again save his resources.

Since we know what we are going up against questing will be simple this round. We commit Aragorn and Theodred, again giving 1 resource to Aragorn with Theodred’s ability and again leaving Aragorn exhausted. For staging, surprise, surprise, we see the Banks of the Anduin. With 1 threat in the staging area and 5 willpower committed to the quest we net 4 progress. The first three progress allow us to explore River Ninglor and the last progress is added to current quest card, pushing us back up to 2 out of 8 progress for the first stage. Looking at the top three cards of the encounter deck, we see Hunters from Mordor, Signs of Gollum, and Banks of the Anduin. We already have a Banks of the Anduin in play, and we certainly don’t want to see the Hunters if we can help it, so we will go ahead and choose to reveal Signs of Gollum.

Because it is guarded, we need to reveal an additional encounter card to guard it. In this case, we will not be able to claim the Clue until we travel to the Eaves of Mirkwood. We could have waited longer to add a Clue to the staging area, but there is always the risk that another one might not show up, and with Faramir in hand, we can feel pretty confident that we will be able to power-quest through these first two stages.

In order to free-up the objective, and clean up the staging area, we will go ahead and travel to Eaves of Mirkwood. With no enemies to engage, we will go ahead and trigger Denethor’s ability and peek at The East Bank. As bad as this location can be, there are far worse cards in this encounter deck. Besides, locations free our heroes (namely Denethor) to use their abilities instead of dealing with combat, so we will go ahead and leave it on the top of the deck. After the refresh phase, we stand at 31 threat and move to the next round.

Round 3: Stage 1B (2 of 8 progress)
31 threat (First Player)
Hand: Valiant Sacrifice, Forest Snare, Gandalf, Self Preservation, Faramir, Faramir
— Aragorn: 3 resource, 0 damage (5 of 5 hit points)
— Theodred: 1 resource, 0 damage (4 of 4 hit points)
— Denethor: 3 resource, 0 damage (3 of 3 hit points)
Staging Area: Banks of the Anduin
Active Location: Eaves of Mirkwood

After adding resources we draw a Dunedain Mark. For our planning phase, we will pay 3 resources from Aragorn and 1 from Theodred to play Faramir. Denethor could afford to pay for Self Preservation, but with no damage on any of our heroes, that seems like a waste of resources. For questing, we again know that  a location is coming from the encounter deck, so we will commit Aragorn, Theodred and the Snowbourn Scout. We will trigger Theodred’s ability to give 1 resource to Aragorn, which we will immediately spend from his pool to ready the ranger. Lastly, before we perform staging, we will go ahead and trigger Faramir’s ability to give all of our character’s +1 willpower. After revealing the East Bank, we are left with 4 threat in the staging area against our 8 willpower.

After exploring Eaves of Mirkwood, we place 2 progress on the quest stage, leaving us with 4 out of the 8 that we need to move on to the next stage. Since we quested successfully, we again look at the 3 top cards of the encounter deck, seeing: Misty Mountain Goblins, Old Wives Tales, and Goblintown Scavengers. Since resources are precious, and the Misty Mountain Goblins’ forced effect will only slow us down, we will go ahead and choose to reveal the scavengers. Since we are done with quest resolution, the threat that they add to the staging area is meaningless, and we will be engaging them this round. We do, however, still have to discard the top card of our deck for their effect. Sadly, the Steward of Gondor that we have been looking for all this time has just been looted by the mangy scavengers and sits, taunting us in the discard pile.

With the quest phase complete, we will go ahead and travel to the East Bank. That will make allies cost 1 additional resources, but we will be able to explore it quickly, and we should be able to play around this limitation next round. For the encounter phase, we engage the Goblintown Scavengers. Since we don’t yet have any Clue objectives attached, it should be safe to take an undefended attack, so we will not be blocking the scavengers.

Their shadow card confirms this strategy as the shadow effect of Hunters from Mordor would have done 3 damage to anyone with an objective attack, but in our case does nothing. Aragorn will take the 1 damage from the undefended attack and then kill the scavengers on the counter-attack. Lastly, we will use Denethor to peek at the top card of the encounter deck, which is another Signs of Gollum. Since each Clue is guarded, this card will bring another card as a guard from the encounter deck, in addition to making any hunters that we see just that much nastier. For these reasons, we will go ahead and move this card to the bottom of the encounter deck. With scrying complete, we raise our threat to 32 and move on to round number four.

Round 4: Stage 1B (4 of 8 progress)
32 threat (First Player)
Hand: Valiant Sacrifice, Forest Snare, Gandalf, Self Preservation, Faramir, Dunedain Mark
— Aragorn: 1 resource, 1 damage (4 of 5 hit points)
— Theodred: 1 resource, 0 damage (4 of 4 hit points)
— Denethor: 4 resource, 0 damage (3 of 3 hit points)
Staging Area: Banks of the Anduin
Active Location: East Bank

With resources collected, our deck repays us for the loss of Steward of Gondor, by giving us an Erebor Hammersmith. This is fortuitous, as some resource generation would really help speed up our questing efforts at this stage of the quest. Because the East Bank is the active location, the Hammersmith will cost us 3 Lore resources, but this is a case where it is absolutely worth the extra cost. After playing the Erebor Hammersmith, we will return the Steward of Gondor to our hand. Paying 1 resources from Aragorn and Theodred allows us to attach Steward of Gondor to Denethor, and our resource generation woes are a thing of the past. We can then trigger the Steward and spend 3 resources from Denethor to attach Self Preservation to Aragorn.

For the quest phase, we will commit Aragorn, Theodred, the Erebor Hammersmith, and the Snowbourn Scout. Again we use the resource from Theodred to give Aragorn a resource, but we will leave him exhausted to save the resource for later. Lastly, we will trigger Faramir to improve all of our characters’ questing ability. For staging, we reveal Massing at Night, which in a solo game essentially just does nothing but surge. For the additional encounter card, we have Gladden Fields. Yet another location; this is definitely not the most exciting scenario in the game, but we need to stay focused and clear out the staging area so that we can push through on our Hunt for Gollum.

Evil StormWith 10 total willpower against 4 threat, we make 6 progress. This allows us to explore the East Bank (great, allies are normal-price again!) and put 3 more progress on the stage. This leaves us with only 1 progress left to make in order to clear the first stage. After questing successfully, we again have to look at the top 3 card of the encounter deck, seeing Eastern Crows, Evil Storm and Signs of Gollum. This is why our threat is so important in this quest, with a current threat of 32, we can safely reveal the Evil Storm without any ill-effects. Questing done, we will go ahead and travel to Gladden Fields. This will raise our threat by 1 at the end of the round, but a certain wizard is about to help solve that problem.

That done, we can trigger Denethor to scry the encounter deck and see a Misty Mountain Goblins. Ordinarily, the forced effect from this enemy attacking is something that we want to avoid. In this case, since we plan on clearing the first stage next round, and we then won’t have any progress on the second stage, this effect will be harmless. So we will go ahead and leave the Goblins on the top of the encounter deck. Aragorn still has one damage on him, so before refresh we will go ahead and exhaust Self Preservation to heal him back to full health. After refreshing, the Gladden Fields pushes our threat up to 34, dangerously close to the critical 35 threshold, and we cautiously move on to the next round.

Round 5: Stage 1B (7 of 8 progress)
34 threat (First Player)
Hand: Valiant Sacrifice, Forest Snare, Gandalf, Faramir, Dunedain Mark
— Aragorn: 2 resource, 0 damage (5 of 5 hit points)
— Theodred: 1 resource, 0 damage (4 of 4 hit points)
— Denethor: 1 resource, 0 damage (3 of 3 hit points)
Staging Area: Banks of the Anduin
Active Location: Gladden Fields

After collecting resources, we draw a Guard of the Citadel. This will come in handy shortly, as we want to start building up our ally army to push through to the final stage.  With help from Steward of Gondor, we will pay 1 resource from Aragorn, 1 resource from Theodred and 3 resources from Denethor to play Gandalf. After he enters play, we can lower our threat to 29. This more than offsets the effect of Gladden Fields, as well as keeping us safely out of range of some of the nastier cards in the encounter deck.

For questing, we know that only 2 threat is coming from the encounter deck, so there is no need to go overboard with how many characters we send. We will commit Aragorn (who readies with a resource from Theodred) and Theodred and then trigger Faramir’s ability to give us a total of 7 total willpower. After revealing the Misty Mountain Goblins, we have a total of 3 threat in the staging area. This allows us to explore Gladden Fields and place the last progress on stage 1. We move immediately to stage 2, which fortunately does not require us to do anything until the beginning of the quest phase next round.

Because we quested successfully, the forced effect on stage 1 still triggers, even though we ultimately moved on to the second stage. So for the final time this game, we examine the top 3 cards of the encounter deck and find: two more copies of Gladden Fields and a Signs of Gollum. At this point, we really don’t want the staging area filling up with locations, particularly not ones that raise our threat if we travel to them. So, we will take the risk and reveal another Signs of Gollum. This decision might end up being a bad one as the guardian of this Clue objective is an Eastern Crows, which immediately surges into a Hunters From Mordor. This is exactly the kind of situation that we wanted to avoid, but at least we quested wisely, and have characters held back to help with combat.

For travel, we will finally get the Banks of the Anduin out of the staging area. Although it has 3 quest point and only 1 threat, an advantage of exploring this location next round is that it will give us one more card on the top of the encounter deck that we know about. The more knowledge that we have, the better prepared will be our strategy. For the encounter phase, we will optionally engage the Hunters From Mordor (we have a certain trap waiting for them) and the Goblins and Crows will engage as well.

For combat, we deal shadow cards to each attacker and then it’s time to decide blockers. First off, the Erebor Hammersmith will defend against the Eastern Crows. Their shadow card is a Misty Mountain Goblins. Since we just moved to stage 2, there is no progress to remove so this card has no effect. We will go ahead and have Aragorn defend against the Misty Mountain Goblins and the shadow card is another Hunters from Mordor. Since we have not claimed any Clue objectives yet, this shadow effect does not do anything, and we are glad to see another copy of that in the discard pile. Lastly, we will have the lowly Snowbourn Scout take one for the team and block the Hunters from Mordor. Their shadow card is Pursued by Shadow, which requires us to return an exhausted ally to our hand.

We don’t want to return the scout, as this attack would then be undefended and kill one of our heroes. Fortunately, the Erebor Hammersmith is already exhausted from defending so we can return him to our hand. As a bonus, we might even get to trigger his ability when we play him again. The 6 attack of the Hunters easily kills the poor Snowbourn Scout so we can pay 1 resource from Aragorn to play Valiant Sacrifice. The two cards that we draw are: Secret Paths and Gleowine. Having additional card draw and a way to mitigate the threat from a location will come in handy, very soon.

Hunt for Gollum #1

For counter-attacks, we will have Gandalf kill the Misty Mountain Goblins. Even if we had another character available to kill the Eastern Crows, there would be no reason to do so. Shuffling an enemy with surge back into the encounter deck makes absolutely no sense, particularly one so puny that we can safely take the damage undefended on Aragorn and then heal it with Self Preservation. With combat done, we will trigger Denethor’s ability and find a Goblintown Scavengers on top of the deck. As another fairly harmless enemy, we will leave them where they are. After refresh, our threat increases to 30 and we are ready to take on the second stage of the quest.

Round 6: Stage 2B (0 of 10 progress)
30 threat (First Player)
Hand: Forest Snare, Faramir, Dunedain Mark, Guard of the Citadel, Erebor H., Secret Paths, Gleowine
— Aragorn: 1 resource, 0 damage (5 of 5 hit points)
— Theodred: 1 resource, 0 damage (4 of 4 hit points)
— Denethor: 1 resource, 0 damage (3 of 3 hit points)
Staging Area: Signs of Gollum
Active Location: Banks of the Anduin

Resources added, we draw our card for round 6 and it is: Protector of Lorien. This, combined with the extra cards from Gleowine, should allow us to push through these last two stages of the quest. For planning we will trigger Steward of Gondor and pay 3 resources from Denethor to trap Hunters from Mordor in a Forest Snare. It’s always a sweet irony, when the hunter becomes the hunted. Aragorn and Theodred will each pay 1 resource to pay for Guard of the Citadel. We need to get our ally army mustered as quickly as we can.

For stage 2, we have to choose and reveal one of the top two cards from the encounter deck at the beginning of the quest phase. This is one less card than we looked at in stage 1, but we have the advantage that it happens before we commit characters to the quest, so it makes it easier to know how much willpower we will need to send. This time, the cards on the encounter deck are the Goblintown Scavengers that we scried last round, and West Bank. Since we have the staging area free of locations, it should be safe to add one, and we have no way of knowing how much threat the scavengers will add, or which of our cards they will loot, so we will add West Bank to the staging area. Now we are ready to commit character to the quest. We will commit Aragorn, Theodred and the Guard of the Citadel. Aragorn will stay exhausted and we will trigger Theodred’s ability to give him a resource. Lastly, we trigger Faramir to give each of our characters an additional willpower.

For staging we reveal an Old Wives’ Tales, which discards the resource from Aragorn, and exhausts Denethor. With 9 willpower against 3 threat, we make 6 progress. Banks of the Anduin is explored, and goes back on top of the encounter deck, and we make 3 progress on stage 2 of the quest. We don’t want to risk traveling to West Bank right now, so we will leave it in the staging area. Next round we should be able to use Secret Paths to cancel the threat from this location, so we can safely ignore it for now.

For combat, all of our characters are exhausted, so the Eastern Crows’ attack will be undefended. Fortunately the shadow card, another Hunters from Mordor, has no effect so Aragorn will take 1 point of damage. We immediately exhaust Self Preservation to heal the damage on Aragorn. The Hunter of Mordor engaged with us cannot attack so his shadow card, the Banks of the Anduin that we just explored, is discarded without effect. We refresh and raise our threat to 31, with the hope that we can pass stage 2 next round.

Round 7: Stage 2B (3 of 10 progress)
31 threat (First Player)
Hand: Faramir, Dunedain Mark, Erebor Hammersmith, Secret Paths, Gleowine, Protector of Lorien
— Aragorn: 1 resource, 0 damage (5 of 5 hit points)
— Theodred: 1 resource, 0 damage (4 of 4 hit points)
— Denethor: 1 resource, 0 damage (3 of 3 hit points)
Staging Area: Signs of Gollum, West Bank
Active Location: None

After collecting resource, we draw Henamarth Riversong. Cheap allies are a welcome sight right now, and the Silvan will be put to work quite soon. For now, we will trigger Steward of Gondor then have Denethor pay 2 for Gleowine and 1 to attach Protector of Lorien to Aragorn. Before we commit characters to the quest we need to look at the top two cards of the encounter deck: River Ninglor or Treacherous Fog. We don’t need any more locations in the staging area at this point, and we plan on cancelling the threat from West Bank anyway, so we will go ahead and reveal Treacherous Fog.

With that settled, we will commit Aragorn to the quest (he spends a resource to ready), along with Theodred, Denethor and Guard of the Citadel. Theodred will give a resource to Denethor, then just in case another Old Wives’ Tales is about to be revealed, we will immediately pay 1 from Denethor to play secret paths on West Bank. That location now contributes no threat for the remainder of the phase. Lastly, we will trigger Faramir to give each of our characters +1 willpower.

For staging, we reveal another West Bank. Now we come to a rather subtle nuance of the rules. According to the latest FAQ, Treacherous Fog actually creates a continuous effect (until the end of the phase) in the staging area that adds +1 threat to each location, even ones revealed after Treacherous Fog. This means that the West Bank which was just revealed will contribute 4 threat to the staging area. Fortunately the original West Bank is not contributing any threat, and with our 11 willpower we will make enough progress to complete this stage of the quest. Because we quested successfully, we can trigger the response on Signs of Gollum and attach it to Theodred. We then move on to the final quest stage.

We will go head and travel to West Bank. It makes attachments and events more expensive, but we don’t have any of those in our hand that we actually need to play, and the Old Ford’s shadow effect was a chilling reminder of the risk we are running if we let the staging area fill up with Riverlands locations.

For combat, Aragorn will blow the Eastern Crows. Their shadow card is Old Ford, which, if there had been one more Riverland location in play would have wiped out two of our allies! Fortunately, everyone is safe, and Aragorn does not take any damage. With combat done, we can trigger Gleowine’s ability to draw a Secret Paths. Doh! Now traveling to West Bank doesn’t look like as good of an idea, but this is where resource generation saves the day. With Steward of Gondor attached to Denethor, we will still be able to afford Secret Paths, even at its new, higher cost. After refresh phase, we find ourselves at 32 threat and ready to win the game.

Round 8: Stage 3B (0 of 8 progress)
32 threat (First Player)
Hand: Faramir, Dunedain Mark, Erebor Hammersmith, Henamarth Riversong, Secret Paths
— Aragorn: 2 resource, 0 damage (5 of 5 hit points)
— Theodred: 2 resource, 0 damage (4 of 4 hit points)
— Denethor: 1 resource, 0 damage (3 of 3 hit points)
Staging Area: Signs of Gollum, West Bank
Active Location: West Bank

With resources collected, we draw what should be our final card for the game, another Guard of the Citadel. Theodred will spend 2 resources for the Guard of the Citadel. We will trigger Steward of Gondor, then Denethor will spend 1 resource on Henamarth Riversong. With planning done we are ready for our final quest phase. There is no trickery with the encounter deck in this stage, we simply have keep the objective attached and beat the threat in the staging area by enough to put 8 progress on the last quest card.

Hunt for Gollum #2

Before staging, we will go ahead and spend the last 2 resources from Denethor to play Secret Paths on the West Bank in the staging area. With that done, we will commit everyone except Faramir to the quest, spending a resource to ready Aragorn. Lastly, we will trigger Faramir’s ability to give each character an additional willpower. We now count 17 willpower against 0 threat in the staging area, so barring catastrophe, we should win this round. For staging we reveal: an Evil Storm, which has no effect. With 17 progress we easily explore West Bank and put 14 progress on the final quest stage. We have won the game!

Score and Recap

So after long meanderings on both shores of the Anduin, even into the Eaves of Mirkwood, we have discovered a clue that will help us in our Hunt For Gollum. Through clever planning, and with the help of Self Preservation, we ended the game without any damage on our heroes. We end with a total threat of 32, after 7 full rounds (rounds tally during the refresh phase). The Gladden Fields that we explored early on was worth 3 victory points, so our final score is:

32 (threat) + 70 (rounds) + 0 (damage) – 3 (victory) = 99

In this bear’s humble opinion, The Hunt for Gollum is certainly not the best-designed quest  in the Shadows of Mirkwood cycle, but it does serve as a good test of our strategic skills. Having to manage our threat, handle locations with nasty travel and active effects, and deal with enemies that synergize with other encounter cards, are all skills that we will be putting to use as we continue on our adventures along Beorn’s Path. Until next time, happy travels.

Beorn's Path 8

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5 Responses to Beorn’s Path: Part 8 – Playtesting (The Hunt For Gollum)

  1. hendersondayton says:

    I noticed you played this solo. I assume you will be playing two handed the quests you think need to be two-handed?

    • Beorn says:

      That is correct. Two-handed is even more time consuming, as I have to play it with the physical cards (or use two separate OCTGN accounts at the same time) so I am going to try stick with true-solo for most quests. I will probably be switching to videos from here on out though, as the play reports just take way too long to write. I will keep making changes to both decks, and try to alternate between decks so that the Tactics/Spirit deck does not get ignored.

  2. velli says:

    Thank you for Beorn’s Path which in my opinion is a great series of articles, especially for beginners. Thanks to you and this articles I learned much about LotR LCG 🙂
    I do however noticed a small mistake in 5th round: you couldn’t have engaged with all the enemies in stagging area, since both Eastern Crows and Hunters From Mordor have their engagement cost higher then your threat level (which was earlier lowered by Gandalf) and you can optionally engage only one enemy per round 🙂

    • Beorn says:

      Good catch! I must have thought that I was at 30 threat instead of 29. Silly bear, I have a hard time counting to numbers that big because I only have 4 paws…

  3. Pingback: Quest Profile 004: The Hunt for Gollum | Master of Lore

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