Moving eastward from the Druadan Forest, the next quest, Encounter at Amon Din, takes place around the beacon hill, in the farmlands of Gondor. Orcs have attacked villagers, and it’s up to us to save villagers and stop the orc leader, Ghulat. In theory, this quest sounds fun and interesting, but in practice, it is kind of a dud, as it becomes extremely easy. Nontheless, Aragorn is off to aid the common folk!
I didn’t debate much about which Aragorn to use for this one, and went for the easy Leadership version, since he can gain action economy with his ability, and is naturally in the sphere for Steward of Gondor, to give him the Gondor trait, and earn some extra resources. Also, instead of stocking up on things like weapons, or other items to heavily boost heroes, I wanted to run more of the Gondor allies, and many are already in Leadership.
Since I went the route of focusing mostly on allies, there aren’t many attachments for the heroes. Aragorn will get Steward, and maybe an Unexpected Courage. His main method of supporting all other characters will be through Sword that was Broken and Visionary Leadership. I’m running three copies of Sword, but only two for Visionary Leadership. Also, for the possibility that Aragorn may be defending attacks, I’ve included three copies of Dunedain Warning as well.
For the most part, Aragorn will simply be questing, readying with his ability, and then attacking or defending. I would say that Leadership is my least favorite sphere, but Core Aragorn remains a high-quality, easy-to-use hero. The other versions are more flashy, but this one is steady and consistent, able to fill any role you need. It’s such a great sign that so many core set cards like him, remain strong in the card pool after so many years.
I wanted to create a full Gondor theme for this deck, and wanting allies to do some heavy lifting, I went with Lothiriel as my main questing hero, and in an unconventional pick, Leadership Faramir as my third hero. Just like in Steward’s Fear, Lothiriel will be able to bring out an ally from my hand to quest, which will combo with allies like Soldier of Gondor, Envoy of Pelargir, Squire of the Citadel, and others. She simply has that one role, and there are not many Spirit cards for her to spend resources on, outside of staples like A Test of Will, Unexpected Courage, and The Galadhrim’s Greeting.
Faramir is a more odd choice, as almost anybody playing Leadership, with Gondor, is going to play his ally version, which is far more powerful. Also, even a Gondor hero like Prince Imrahil is considered a stronger play, since he readies off an ally leaving play, and is even more supported by Lothiriel. However, so far in this cycle, I’ve viewed Faramir as representative of my created narrative characters, so I wanted to continue to represent them especially since this quest ventures so near to Cair Andros again.
Leadership Faramir is able to ready an ally when you engage an enemy. This normally may not be very flashy, but, combined with Knight of the White Tower, it can be considerably good. The Knight has a strong 2 willpower, 3 if Sword or Visionary Leadership are in play, and a great 3 defense. Faramir lets me quest with him and ready him. Also, he can ready someone like the Objective Ally, Lord Alcaron, who also has a decent attack value.
The Knight of the White Tower is my star ally in this deck, and I hope to get him quickly. Once he gets a Hauberk of Mail, he’s defending for 4, which is amazing. I will try to keep all the defenses on my allies, so Faramir and Aragorn can attack, as their 5 combined attack will kill every enemy in the encounter deck other than Ghulat.
One thing I don’t like about Leadership is the limited card draw available. With Lothiriel, though, I’ve tossed in three copies of Valiant Sacrifice, as it triggers off an ally leaving play, such as when Lothiriel shuffles an ally into play at the end of the quest phase using her response. That, combined with Ancient Mathom will, I hope, provide decent draw. With Lothiriel, you can quickly stall on her if allies aren’t in your hand, because you’ll run out of them and won’t have use of her ability anymore.
Opening Hand and Strategy
As with almost any deck using the card, I want to see Steward of Gondor in my opening hand. However, given Lothiriel’s inclusion, multiple allies is always nice to see. Seeing Steward and Knight of the White Tower is perfect. Some draw, whether a Mathom or Valiant Sacrifice will be ideal. Since the game begins with an active location, getting a Mathom to start is a real boost.
Due to the unfortunately easy nature of this quest, the strategy boils down to being pretty simple. You only need to clear locations to rescue villagers, and locations come with many tokens on them, such as the one that begins the game as the active location. The Burning Farmhouse starts with four tokens on it, and though you have to discard one at the end of each round, the Lord Alcaron objective ally can prevent this effect.
Once you clear the farmhouse, if you keep seeing locations, the Rescued Villagers pile up pretty quickly, and it’s difficult for the encounter deck to “keep up” by discarding them, or adding tokens on the Dead Villagers objective. Due to Alcaron’s effect, Faramir’s readying ability actually means you can save a villager from the Burning Farmhouse at the end of the round, and then, if you engage an enemy the next round, if there isn’t a better target for readying an ally, you can ready Alcaron.
There are more enemies than locations in the deck, but many of those enemies are fairly toothless. Shadow effects can chain for multiple cards, but rarely do they get too bad. The defense values of the Knight of the White Tower can hold up pretty well here. The only exception is when advancing to Stage 2, where Ghulat will ramp his attack the longer he stays in play, since he puts a token on Dead Villagers with each attack, and his attack value is equal to the number of tokens there. So, killing him in 1-2 turns is key to a quick and easy success.