Steve and Parker each outlined their decks before attending the convention, and got in only one game of playtesting. They would have 3 nights to get through 8 quests, while also keeping up with other tournaments and games they had registered for at the convention. They were committed to finishing the saga quests before Parker had to leave on Sunday morning, no matter how much sleep had to be sacrificed.
It was like a real-life treachery card!
So how did things end up? Let's find out!
We have decided to go quest-by-quest, with Parker (PI) and Steve (SM) each offering their impressions and experiences.
A Shadow of the Past (Thursday night)
PI: First of all, every single saga quest is just dripping with theme, and a good portion of our play time was spent geeking-out on the thematic elements. However, our nerd-excitement could easily be replaced with dread when cards like this came up:
I'm glad Steve and I packed as much action-advantage as possible into our decks, because we needed all the help we could get to pass the hide tests. Also, the number of cards with Surge was ridiculous.
SM: Like Parker said, the action advantage here was so helpful! We didn't fail a single hide test, and, honestly, the Nazgul were fairly easy for our beefy heroes to deal with. Still, there were some great, tense moments!
The Old Forest (Thursday night)
PI: I have to be honest, our decks man-handled this quest, and at times I felt like we were just slogging through the quest stages. When Old Man Willow came out the Hobbits alone were able to put enough damage on him to receive the boon card as a reward. Not much more to say on my end as Steve's deck did a majority of the work in this one. One positive anecdote I have from this quest is that it was around this point that I realized "Tighten Our Belts" is an awesome card (it had replaced Horn of Gondor after a couple of solo practice games in my hotel room) - I've never been more pleased to eat my words.
SM: I play this quest all the time. I frequently use it to test new decks since it's got a good bit of everything coming your way. This time around, due to our power-house decks, there never felt like much of a challenge. We sorta tore through it fairly handily. Still, it's a very thematic, fun quest that has been a go to for me since Gencon. 11 attachments on my 3 heroes at the end.
Toward the end of The Old Forest
The Fog on the Barrow Downs (Friday night)
PI: Both of us were pretty beat after a full day of a Flames of War tournament, but we pressed on. This was the first time I had ever played this quest, and I found it to be a challenge for my deck. The quest itself never really got away from us, especially once our heroes were fully loaded, but the quest punishes ally-army builds. There were definitely times that we could have been crippled were it not for Frodo and the One Ring.
SM: I also really love this quest, but this was probably the hardest for me to get through, truthfully. That's mostly because I was beat and my heart wasn't in it. The ring really did make all the difference here - it could've been much nastier! My heroes braved 2 different barrows so Parker could keep all of his precious allies!
A Knife in the Dark (Friday night)
PI: Probably my biggest regret of the campaign is that we didn't kill Bill Ferny. Merry helped make up for this by killing more Nazgul than were actually in the books! That's a slight exaggeration, but he did take down a bunch of black riders. I was actually sweating this quest quite a bit, because I have no threat control in my deck and it took us a long time to get through this one. My threat ended at 41, a campaign high for me.
SM: This was tough but awesome! The fight on Weathertop was really pretty great, though the Hobbitses carried the day. Stupid Bill Ferny, he should've tasted Aragorn's blade!
While Steve and Parker were questing there were 7 other players going through quests of their own...at a historical miniatures convention!
Flight to the Ford (Saturday Morning)
PI: This quest introduced a health-tracker for Frodo, which started at 15 but was steadily reduced by card effects. It also featured a burden deck, where instead of resolving certain encounter card effects we could shuffle in a random burden card. Unfortunately Steve and I probably chose the burden card option too often. The other thing I remember from this quest is this treachery:
I love the card art, and the treachery effect is nasty!
SM: So. Many. Burdens. What were we thinking? This quest really captured the feeling though- we just barely saved Frodo. I think he had 2 health left or something! We had Glorfindel and Asfaloth out, which made it especially awesome.
Our two brave adventurers successfully escorted Frodo to Rivendell without losing a quest. This is a very good thing, because it was around now that they realized their biggest enemy was time.
Stay tuned for Part 2, where the Fellowship must travel through wild lands, confront the foul beings in the deep places of Middle Earth, and survive turmoil within their ranks as the ring exerts its power.