part 1 of our ambitious attempt to get through all 8 saga quests for the Fellowship of the Ring we saw Frodo safely through the perils of hiking in Middle Earth. Ringwraiths and Barrow-wights proved to be little trouble to us, and we fought and ran our way tot he safety of Rivendell. However, much like Frodo's wound on Weathertop, a lingering blow was dealt to our quest: many of the burdens had been gained along the way, and there was little we could do to remove them.
As we prepared to dive into the second phase of the quest and get through the three scenarios from The Road Darkens, we learned that we would not be leaving Rivendell without reinforcements. The House of Elrond bequeathed our heroes with several boons. Before we go into the scenarios we will talk a little about which boons we chose, and why we chose them.
PI: I chose Skilled Healer and Sting, and in a departure from the fluff I put them both on Sam, which made him an incredible defender.
SM: Anduril and Valiant Warrior. I had Loragorn, so obviously he got Anduril! I put Valiant Warrior on Glorfindel. It was dope.
Anyway, now that we're done with previews and background, let's dive into this adventure and...well..break the fellowship...
The Ring Goes South
PI: The Council of Elrond mechanic is fun, and would definitely be better with four players. My deck continued to run smoothly, and I loved the direct damage that Sting was doing. I wish I could have that card in all of my games. Having been kitted-out with my boons, Sam Gamgee was clearly becoming the MVP hero for me. By being smart with our questing and allies we were able to absorb the damage dealt by locations fairly well, although we were lucky to be able to get out allies with multiple wounds.
SM: Oh lord, the burdens!
Journey in the Dark
PI: This might be my favorite quest in the game, let alone the saga expansions. I loved the thematic elements, and Steve and I spent a lot of time reading flavor text and admiring the artwork on a lot of these cards. While The Great Bridge was out of play I kept glancing at it and thinking of Gandalf's line from the movies "Lead them on, Aragorn, the bridge is near!"
And all the while there was this countdown toward the unveiling of the Balrog. It was crucial to get out my important allies, and one ally in particular (Steve will explain further). Ally Boromir proved his worth, as he dealt with other enemies that were revealed so the rest of my heroes could focus on the Balrog when needed. However, with all of the direct damage and archery being dealt, the MVP's of this game were my three Wardens of Healing, all of whom were on the table by turn 5 (thanks again, Tighten Our Belts and Errand Riders!).
This was just a super fun quest. I could go on but I'll cede the remainder of my geeking-out to Steve.
SM: Because the action was fast and furious, our slow-burn decks had a very difficult time starting up. Once we got it rolling though, we were good to go! We paced ourselves with the bridge, and awaited our good friend Landroval as Gandalf shattered the bridge beneath his staff! The heroes looked forlornly at the chasm as the fire of the balrog disappeared below, when suddenly the Eagle gave a great cry and whooshed over the ledge! Gandalf probably exclaimed something like "Don't worry, I'll just fly you fools!"
In hindsight, we probably cheated. Landroval says "destroyed" while the bridge says "discard". Oh well, it was cool enough that we'll just invoke the rule of cool!
Breaking of the Fellowship (started at 11:45pm Saturday night)
PI: We got two more boons, courtesy of Galadriel. Steve took leaf wrapped Lembas and I chose Three Golden Hairs. The opening stage of this quest is absolute hell, because enemies cannot be engaged and the locations have to be cleared in a certain order so players can advance to other quest stages - and a ton of the cards have surge. As a result there were times when we were questing for 30+ and made only a couple of progress tokens.
The problem that this encounter deck had with our decks, however, was that the inability to do anything except play cards and quest basically helped us in the long run. Both of our decks take some time to ramp-up, so by the time the enemies came flooding out at us we were more than prepared to fight back. The scenario was a little anti-climactic for me, but was still fun. Looking back my favorite moment was when Pippin became an enemy after falling to the lure of the ring!
While I didn't think it was very fun at the time, but it was certainly memorable and now makes for a great AAR.
SM: I'll mostly echo what Parker said. We didn't face much of a challenge here, particularly because our decks were suited to it. I do think, however, the quest is better than we are giving it credit for- we were fairly exhausted and just ready to be done, so I think any quest in this place would've felt tedious. Three Golden hairs jump started us early on. We both went to the separate staging areas that totally suited our decks, which was hilarious, as we had zero problem with them.
Pippin being a bad guy was funny, but Elrond talked him down. I like to think Elrond just put his hand on Pippin's forehead as Pippin swang wildly at his knees until he exhausted himself.
Speaking of Exhausted, Parker and I were totally mentally checked out after this, but we did it! I absolutely love campaign mode, and can't wait for the next box set! I also want to try playing through this campaign again, although at a more leisurely pace!
PI: Yeah, while I'm happy we accomplished what we set out to do, it became a slog at the end and I think that diminished some of the luster of these quests.
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