We come to it at last, the end of the Shadows of Mirkwood cycle, and the end of our long labors to find and bring Gollum to Thranduil’s halls for questioning. This quest is easily the most difficult in this cycle, especially in true solo, as I’m doing here. Luckily, Aragorn provides an answer for the biggest danger in the quest. Although, there are plenty of scary things in this Encounter Deck and I needed to plan very carefully for how to avoid each of them, or deal with them if I cannot avoid them outright.
You might be sick of Lore Aragorn at this point, but I definitely am not! He will shine in this quest, because of his ability. Some discount his ability, as you’ll only be able to utilize it once during a game, but it is absolutely necessary in this quest. Lowering threat back to your starting level is powerful, but when you raise your threat by 4 each round as in this quest, without Aragorn, the quest would be nearly, if not definitely, impossible in solo.
Other than his ability to reduce my threat level, Aragorn will of course, provide a number of answers for difficulties in this quest, thanks to certain Lore cards. One card he’ll use is the Dunedain Pipe, which will facilitate some card draw. Another card, which I have not used before, is the Ranger Bow, which is an answer to one specific enemy in this Encounter Deck: the Mirkwood Bats.
This enemy is particularly awful for the deck I’m playing, because it can entirely wipe my board of allies when it engages me. I’m playing four different allies, each with only 1 hit point, so the bats are particularly worrisome. To me, they’re worse to see than the Attercop, Attercop, which will only kill one chump, but these wimpy bats, can wipe all of them.
The Ranger Bow offers a chance to exhaust it, and Aragorn to deal 1 damage to an enemy in the staging area. So the weapon can kill the bats without engaging me. Getting a Ranger Bow onto Aragorn as quickly as possible gives me a lot of peace of mind. Also, the weapon can chip away at enemies like the Hummerhorns, and the Wargs, if they don’t get a shadow effect, and thus bounce back to staging. All in all, the bow is a really versatile weapon!
Returning as usual is Arwen Undomiel, but also this time around, Spirit Glorfindel is back. I tried repeatedly to play this quest with Spirit Legolas, but it just was such a difficult up-hill battle each time. Glorfindel provides some relief in having stronger willpower to start, and the extremely low threat cost means I can lower my threat down to 26, instead of 30, with Aragorn’s ability.
One thing I lose out on with Spirit Legolas, is having a way to quest with Aragorn and ready him by discarding a card to Legolas. It was a good combination, but really, did not pay off enough, since two characters were questing for the same willpower as one, when comparing this to Glorfindel. In the end, after numerous attempts, I switched to Glorfindel and found it made the quest that much easier (or less difficult).
Coming along with Glorfindel is his loyal steed, Asfaloth. Since I don’t want to get bogged down wasting progress on locations, Asfaloth is great to get rid of them so I can burst-quest through certain stages. When playing solo, quest Stage 3B is very painful, if I get stuck on it for more than one turn. It’s very bad to get stuck with locations eating progress at this stage. Asfaloth can just get rid of them.
For allies, Henamarth Riversong is so valuable in this quest, as I mentioned, being able to avoid certain threats entirely is crucial. Because I want to avoid certain cards, I will also hang on to another ally, Dunedain Pathfinder, to effectively shuffle that dangerous card, hopefully, away from being revealed. Even if the Pathfinder doesn’t get a location, it’s worth it to shuffle the Encounter Deck at no cost.
Along with Asfaloth as location control, the Woodland Courier is also coming along to do the same, as several of the locations have 2 quest points, so she can clear them when she enters play. Splashed in for questing power, and chump blocking, are Galadriel’s Handmaiden and Silvan Refugee.
One card I put into the deck right before I recorded my gameplay video, is the side quest, Scout Ahead. It is “Limit 1 per deck” so it may never come into my hand, but if it does, it will be the perfect answer to lining up the encounter cards to escape that stage where I can’t play cards. Another card that serves a similar purpose is Risk Some Light.
Opening Hand and Strategy
While I’ve already covered the Ranger Bow counter and locations, there are a few cards in the deck that are particularly awful. There are Tantrum treacheries that can really be brutal, such as Gollum’s Bite, which deals 4 damage to a hero. Canceling these treacheries is paramount to success, so A Test of Will is always positive to see in an opening hand. Also, I have Out of the Wild to hopefully find and eliminate either an Attercop, Attercop, or a Tantrum treachery. If I can’t avoid the Attercops, at the very least, I can chump block it, and then Forest Snare it.
So for an opening hand, I’m looking for combinations of things that will allow me to manipulate the Encounter Deck. A Test of Will, Unexpected Courage, Light of Valinor, Henamarth Riversong, and Elven-light are all great to get in an opening hand; allies are less important starting out, except Henamarth. The Ranger Bow would be good to see quickly, but maybe not in an opening hand, since I won’t flood the table with allies until I’m on Stage 2B. My main priority is obtaining knowledge with Henamarth and being able to cancel a treachery. But, if I do see Henamarth early, then it means I will want to find the Ranger Bow quickly, because the Mirkwood Bats kill Henamarth when they engage.
My main strategy is to advance relatively slowly on stages 1 and 2, so that I can draw cards and have many options to play. Then, once I am about to reach Stage 3B, I try to play as much willpower as possible, such as dropping down 3 Silvan Refugees in one turn, so that I can set up to power through Stage 3B on the following turn. Not being able to play cards is atrocious in this quest, so only losing that capability for one turn is crucial.
All in all, this deck became fairly consistent against this quest, once I switched to Glorfindel, whereas before, with Legolas, it was very hit-or-miss. Lore Aragorn, though, finally puts his ability to the greatest use!
This wraps up all the decks for the Shadows of Mirkwood cycle!