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Wednesday, October 14, 2015

LOTR-LCG: Grant’s Three Player Campaign – Part 4 - The Uruk-Hai – “Entering the Realm of Rohan” - Report

By Grant “pfcamygrant” Ellis

In the last campaign report, our Fellowship was broken, as Frodo headed towards the Land of Shadow, and we saw the capture of Pippin, Idraen, and Gimli by the Uruak-Hai at the Seat of Amon Hen. I have difficulty reconciling the narrative as to why and how the proud Dwarf and elusive Dunedain hunter would have been made prisoners. One theory is that Idraen, known to the people of the village of Archet as Hawk, would have the knowledge and ability to leave the most obvious trail for Aragorn and company to follow. Secondly, she may have instructed Gimli to allow himself to be captured should the need arise for a fight to the death with the Uruk-Hai; Gimli would have the battle sense and sheer ferocity needed in an unfair fight with the Orcs. Regardless of the deeper reason, our Noble Hero Idraen and the son of Gloin, joined the fool of a Took as captives to start our next quest.

The Treason of Saruman rules explicitly state on page 5 that if Aragorn was being used as part of any players’ campaign deck, he can be replaced for free, or rather not incur a +1 threat penalty. The tactics version of Aragorn had been used as part of our mono-tactics Three Hunters deck. He needed to be replaced so his Fellowship Sphere counterpart could be used.

We looked at some options:
Perhaps Theoden had not been under enchantment in Meduseld, and would ride alongside Legolas. Either flavor of the King of Rohan could fit in the deck, but the player decided against the inclusion of Theoden or going dual-sphere.

Another option was Eomer; he could have been patrolling the Eastemnet for Orc raiding parties. Ultimately, Eomer was decided against in this instance.

It was decided that we would follow the same theme we used in the previous quest and use the Hero version of an Ally character that had been traveling with our now broken Fellowship: Enter Boromir.

Tactics Boromir has been boasted about on this blog before due to his built in readying effect and the shifting-meta introducing a number of means of threat reduction to offset the penalty (with Galadriel and Spirit Merry being heroes that combo well with Boromir). His Gondor trait makes him a strong candidate for the Gondorian Shield, and his high attack is useful for ripping enemies to shreds.

When building our decks for this scenario, we dumped all dead cards, meaning cards that could no longer be played due to the Captive heroes spheres being denied: The Hobbits forsook the Lore-cards in their decks, the Elrond deck stayed relatively in-tact, and each player made sure to balance out their decks.

The adventure itself uses a unique Pursuit mechanic; an abstract of the Orcs flight from their pursuers, until the eventual confrontation that ensues. The first half of the quest involves overcoming the growing number on the Pursuit tracker, the second half involves closing the gap and slaying the Uruks. It feels like an epic chase, as we traverse the plains of Rohan and survey the land for signs of the Orcs.

The element of the Encounter deck that I found interesting was the resource acceleration and card draw effects the Location cards give once explored. Thematically, Rohan was sympathetic to the cause of the Heroes and drew upon their support in the coming battles, so it creates a decent contrast to the location cards found in the other scenarios of the expansion which have some pretty terrible effects for the players.

Our experience in playing the adventure saw the Elrond and Glorfindel deck struggle with coming online; Elrond’s ring never really showed, neither did the Light of Valinor. In fact, being down a Hero seemed to disturb everyone who played -- we were lacking the momentum and resources we had grown accustomed to. In fact, even Samwise and Merry’s deck felt impatiently and aggressively assembled (we really wanted to play, as opposed to spending long periods of time deck-building) but we met the task at hand without too much trouble despite our captive heroes being held prisoner.

The adventure itself is an enjoyable experience, with a thematic mechanic and high stakes. Our quest resolution saw a variety of Boons available to choose from, but we opted to select Beyond All Hope and bring back Gandalf. The Boon attached to him, which saw him receive +1 to willpower, attack, and defense, and the ability to keep treachery attachments from attaching to him.

Really, this adventure was the prelude to a massive deck redesign for all players: We had reached Edoras, we earned the opportunity to re-align our forces, and we are in position to mount a heroic defense against the forces of Saruman and Isengard at Helm’s Deep, a play-session that took nearly four hours to complete, and will be covered in Part 5 of this campaign report.

Game on.

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