The forces of the enemy are attacking Osgiliath, and while, in the official FFG rule sheet and introduction for this quest, Boromir is attempting to retake the city from Sauron’s forces, in my narrative, this is Aragorn (Thorongil), and the forces of Gondor looking to repel an attack from the east, since Gondor garrisoned both banks of the Anduin in Ecthelion II’s stewardship, by all accounts. So, this is more a “defense” of Osgiliath!
This quest is one that can be a little anticlimactic, in that you can literally win on the 2nd turn. It’s a fun design idea, just one that was not fully realized. Also, a certain treachery can literally break the quest, so it’s a hit or miss scenario. On the other hand, you could play through it forever, revealing location after location, and have control of 10 of them and still not win! Winning by turn two is not that fun, but neither is slogging through it indefinitely. Let’s hope there’s a nice middle ground somewhere.
In general, I view Tactics Aragorn as “Thorongil,” since he is a combat-focused version, and Aragorn aided Gondor and Rohan in that guise, performing great deeds of warfare. Also, this quest, like some of the Heirs of Numenor deluxe quests, has a few effects that punish non-Tactics. Also, there are a few Tactics cards I wanted to bring along, since this quest can have some nasty enemies. If the quest drags on, as it very well could, Aragorn will keep the enemies in check by killing them rather quickly, and keeping them out of the staging area.
To start out, Aragorn will also have to quest a little, and an Unexpected Courage will help in that regard. But, also, since his primary function will be to eliminate enemies, the Rohan Warhorse and Warrior Sword will be good for that. The Warrior Sword is not a top attachment, but it’s cheap, and guarantees at least 1 attack boost. Generally, you should work from strongest to weakest, when attacking with the Warrior Sword, so that your attack goes down as you eliminate enemies, and you are still able to take out the weaker guys with the reduced bonus.
For treacheries like the Master’s Malice, I will actually choose the sphere of my other two heroes, so that Aragorn takes this damage, instead of the other two.
I wanted a good questing hero and a good defending hero for this quest. You can’t really go all-in on questing, as there are some very strong enemies that might show up. Alternatively, you can’t be ready solely for combat, as the main point of this quest is “controlling” locations by exploring them. So, for questing, I went with Arwen Undomiel, and the Spirit version of Beregond added for the defender.
Arwen is likely the best hero in the game, and is a perfect support for Aragorn. She can provide him with resources to pay for the Tactics cards, since he is the only Tactics hero. She will quest, and opens avenues for things like threat reduction from Elrond’s Counsel. Beregond is also one of the best defenders in the game, but here I chose to use his Spirit version because I love the thread reduction more than the cheaper armor attachments that his Tactics version offers. Also, using his Tactics version would prove a difficult choice given Master’s Malice would either deal 3 damage and kill Arwen, or would deal 3 damage to my defender. So, Spirit Beregond negates a lot of danger with Master’s Malice, since I will choose Spirit and only damage Aragorn.
Beregond of course will be getting the Gondorian Shield, and that’s nice to have as quickly as possible. Although, if you choose a starting enemy that is fairly weak, you can get by for a couple turns, maybe, without it. Also, he should get an Unexpected Courage quickly. You begin with one enemy in the staging area, so it is possibly to have two on the first turn.
Allies fulfill either questing or defending roles. The Defender of Rammas is a great, easy defense option, and thematic as well. Also, I included the Ethir Swordsman as my main questing support. However, the West Road Traveller is a fun little gimmick to neuter some of the Osgiliath locations. There are three unique locations in the deck, and one has a Travel effect, while the other two state that players “cannot travel” there. The West Road Traveller allows you to switch locations, not travel, so you can get around those two unique locations if you see them. This will let you place progress on them normally, without jumping through their hoops.
Legolas slots in as the lone attacker ally, and he provides nice card draw. The Honour Guard is great to have so Archery can be negated a bit. Also, he’s great to pair with Beregond, in case a shadow effect boosts attack that might damage him, the Honour Guard can prevent that damage, so you still get the threat reduction from Beregond.
Opening Hand and Strategy
For an opening hand, I’m mostly lookin for things like Gondorian Shield, as well as readying effects. Questing help is also preferred, so I’ll be looking for an Ethir Swordsman, or West Road Traveller. However, I would rather play the Traveller in a situation where I can use her ability to swap one of those unique locations. But, I definitely don’t want to get location locked, so I will not be picky about it. Without the Shield, or a weapon in-hand from the start, Open the Armory is a nice card to try and fish them out of the deck. It’s also beneficial to see Elven-light quickly, being the only form of card draw in the deck.
Generally, it’s hard to think of a specific strategy for this one, as you are force to react to the encounter deck, rather than be active. You could fish out locations with player card effects, but that could potentially backfire and mean you’re sitting around for longer, trying to clear them. Discarding locations may be helpful, but, only in a situation where you have many in play at once. Ideally, you don’t encounter this situation at all.
One bit of strategy is selecting which unique Osgiliath location to put in the staging area to start the game. West Road Traveller in my opening hand can allow me to pick one of the locations with a travel effect or a “cannot travel” effect. But, then, I might get stuck with it in staging waiting for another location to appear. This isn’t ideal, so I choose the West Gate. It also has an interesting action that enables you to find another location to make active. Since the main quest doesn’t require any progress tokens, this can be nice to not waste the progress you might make on turn one. For this reason, also, I have included two side quests: Gather Information and Keep Watch, each are great benefits, and if the game drags on, gives me something to do than pile wasted progress on the main quest.
This game can end on turn two; or drag on forever. It can be very random, but remember, the check for the win condition is at the end of the round. If there are a lot of enemies attacking, they don’t have to be defeated to win; just make sure those locations are under your control, and you will emerge victorious.