This was the second time in short succession that the players were at Osgiliath. With the memory of Massing at Osgiliath fresh in their memory, players set out to retake the city after they fled from it during the POD quest. This scenario is again all about locations, as each cycle has one of those scenarios (Emyn Muil, Redhorn Gate, Celebrimbor’s Secret, Drowned Ruins etc). But where many of those quests deal with exploring locations, this quest requires players to hold on to them in order to get a foothold over the enemy forces in the city. This quest can go in one of two ways. The first is where players beat this scenario within 3-4 turns, capturing all locations in the blink of an eye. Or, players keep exploring locations but have to detach them from their heroes every other turn. This can lead to a drawn-out game until the players either succumb to location lock, enemy attacks or threat out at 50.
This scenario also returns fan-favourite game-breaking card Power of Mordor. This card will potentially cause players to win the game on the very first turn if no Osgiliath locations are turned over. This can lead to a quick, anti-climactic victory on turn 1. Even though this can be counted as a victory, players might still want to scoop in order to experience the full extend off:
- Found in Against the Shadow cycle, Adventure Pack 4
- Official Difficulty: 8 (that is the same level as Shadow and Flame or Carn Dum, it isn’t that difficult)
- Community Difficulty: 5.1
- Encounter Sets: Assault on Osgiliath, Mordor Elite, Southrons
- Quest cards: 1
- Play if: You have a mono-sphere deck to test, you want to explore a bunch of side-quests and are looking for a quest you might not have played in ages, you enjoy location control but also want some tough enemies.
- What is different about this quest?: Locations need to be under control of players, no quest points on the main quest, focus on mono-sphere decks, tough enemies
- Solo or Multiplayer?: This is honestly a scenario you want to play with 1 or 2 players. In true solo, this scenario can be beaten easily in a few turns, as you won’t reveal a lot of locations. This gets more difficult in multiplayer, as you will not be able to clear more locations each round than you reveal during staging.
- Can I run side-quests for this scenario?: You should definitely bring side-quest to this scenario. The main quest has no quest points so any progress you make would be wasted if you don’t bring a side-quest. I would advise players to bring quests like Explore Secret Ways to negate some threat in the staging area. Try to explore as many of these side-quests as you can for more beneficial effects and more victory points.
- What to look out for: Locations being discarded from characters, swarms of locations, archery, Mumaks, enemies attacking outside the combat phase, mono-sphere focus (especially Tactics).
As part of the setup, each player chooses one of the unique Osgiliath locations and adds it to the staging area. In a 4 player game, all unique locations are added. I would personally recommend players to take out West Gate first. This location opens up a good solo strategy to get some locations explored during the first round. For 2 players I would have them take either the Ancient Harbor or the Old Bridge. These locations cannot leave the staging area and must be explored by exhausting heroes or spending resources. I would determine which location to pick based on the decks the players are running. For 3 players, add the other staging area location. Since all locations have 2 threat, it doesn’t matter which one you pick in that regard.
Besides adding one of the unique locations, players also need to each add 1 enemy to the staging area. There are a couple of good early game options. I would actually consider adding Uruk Lieutenant to the staging area since his nasty When Revealed effect won’t go off. Consider his high attack stat though, you need a proper defender before you drag this one down. If all Lieutenants have been added to the staging area or you don’t want to handle his high attack (or are playing easy mode), consider the Southron Phalanx. This weak enemy only boasts 1 attack while players control no locations yet. It is better to get these enemies out of the deck quickly. There are some other enemies that the players can choose from, but these are some of my recommendations. Pick the enemies that fit your deck and playstyle best. Once each player has added a location and an enemy to the staging area, players flip this stage and begin the first round.
Quest card 1: Retake the City
This is the only stage in the game and requires no progress to clear. The only thing that players have to do is to control all Osgiliath locations in play at the end of the round. This can be as early as turn 1/2 or it can drag on forever. Since the quest requires no progress to be made, players can toss out some side-quests of their own in order to gather more victory points and get buffs while doing so. This also means that it is not a major concern to commit a ton of willpower. Players will still have to commit to the quest in order to overcome the threat in the staging area.
The main quest card informs players that there can be no progress placed on locations while they are in the staging area. This means that cards like Northern Tracker, Rhovanion Outrider, Evening Star, and many others are next to worthless. However, the active location(s) are not protected by this effect and can still be a target for progress placing effects. It is also of note that locations in the staging area aren’t immune to player card effects. Players can play cards like Guarded Ceaselessly and Power in the Earth to lower the threat of some cards in the staging area. Putting these attachments on the two unique locations that can’t leave the staging area will be great tools to overcome that threat.
Once players explore any location, the first player immediately gains control over it. This means that players will not be able to play Leave No Trace to put explored locations in the victory display. This could reduce the number of locations in play, and make the game a bit easier. However, Forced effects are triggered before Responses, so players would first gain control over the location before they could put it in the victory display. Out of the Wild will still be an option to reduce the number of locations in the encounter deck. Players could even target some of the unique locations in the encounter deck so they won’t have to deal with those at any point in time.
Since many of the encounter cards deal with how many locations a player controls, it may be wise to have 1 person control all the locations, thereby making the game a bit easier for the others. This can be done in lower player counts by adding copies of Follow Me! to the deck. This event can be played by the person who is in control of all locations when a location would be explored. Defending this player with Ranged and Sentinel characters will be the task of the other players.
Players can lose control of locations due to a multitude of reasons. At the bottom of each location is a bit of text that informs players to return a location whenever the players are either taking an undefended attack, losing a character or losing another location. Most of these effects trigger on undefended attacks or chump blocking. These strategies are therefore not recommended to be used in this scenario. Use a tower defender and a host of small, yet tough defenders to handle any surprise attacks. Cards like Unexpected Courage and Behind Strong Walls will also be a great asset as you will be able to tank multiple attacks with a single defending hero. Losing a lot of locations can lead you to a slippery slope towards location lock and inevitable defeat. This can be frustrating and make the scenario less enjoyable. Always have a defender ready to deal with enemy attacks. There are some enemies that attack outside of the combat phase or have a shadow that allows it to attack again. You must be ready for these kinds of encounters.
Once the players control all Osgiliath locations in play at the end of the round (after combat), they have won the game and retaken the city from the forces of Mordor and Harad. The players can now look forward to the Hidden Card mechanic from Blood of Gondor.
The Encounter deck
- The Encounter deck is quite bulky compared to previous scenarios. It is made up out of 50 encounter cards in Normal mode, and 34 in Easy mode. This also counts the cards each player has to pick during setup
- Shadow effects are not as common as they can be in this cycle, only 55% of cards have a shadow effect.
- The average threat on cards revealed is 1.56 threat/card in Normal mode and 1.35 threat/card in Easy mode. This is a bit on the low end of the spectrum compared to other scenarios of this calibre.
- Surge is what makes up for the low average threat on cards. The keyword is quite common on 7 card in Normal mode. There are plenty of other cards that will add a host of additional cards to the staging area though.
- Doomed 3 is on 3 cards and will not be the main cause of you raising your threat. Counter-Attack will have players raise their threat by a lot more over time, so Doomed player cards might not be the best cards to bring if you are unable to lower your threat.
- Archery makes its return again. There are quite some enemies that will shoot the players with arrows in this quest. On top of that, Pinned Down will increase the Archery value for the turn by the number of locations players control. This can get out of hand fast. The best strategy is to play a mono-sphere deck in true solo, this allows you to avoid a bunch of the Archery.
- Lots of things are immune in this quest, here is a list:
- Progress by means of player card effects cannot be placed on any location in the staging area
- Mumak cannot have attachments or take more than 3 damage each round
- Allies are unable to defend the Lieutenant of Mordor, and his When Revealed effect cannot be cancelled
- Players are unable to travel to The Old Bridge or Ancient Harbor. They must clear these locations in the staging area
- The Street Fighting treachery cannot be cancelled
With nearly half of the encounter deck being enemies, bringing some combat capabilities will definitely help in this scenario. Also note that the 16 or 12 locations will rarely leave play, so once you reveal them all, you just need to control them all. By this time location lock might become an issue.
There are a surprising number of enemies in this encounter deck, ranging from very weak enemies that get stronger over time to the notorious Mumak that is just beastly right out of the gate. It is, however, a good day when you flip over an enemy in this quest, as it won’t be another location that might force you to spend another round at this quest.
- Uruk Lieutenant: As big and bad this guy sounds, he is actually quite easy to deal with after he has attacked. He only has 2 defence and 3 hitpoints so the Lieutenant can be dispatched by a couple of allies attacking together. The big problems start to arise when looking at his When Revealed effect. This enemy will draw out the topmost Orc enemy in the discard pile. If you have just gotten rid of a big Orc Vanguard, well here it is again. I will strongly suggest players take this enemy as a part of their setup, as the effect will whiff. The other big problem with this enemy is his relatively high attack stat of 6. A good way to deal with him in case your defender isn’t ready to take this is to use Quick Strike or Direct Damage to deal with this enemy. It really isn’t hard to kill him so a regular attacker will do, perhaps Tactics Legolas and a Rivendell Blade to make some more progress on the active location.
- Southron Commander: In comparison to the other Commander enemy, the Southron Commander is quite the foe. His 5 attack will be terrible to keep defending once he is revealed, so A Test of Will on his When Revealed effect will be very much worthwhile. With 3 defence and 6 hitpoints, this Commander will take a coordinated attack with perhaps some Ranged support to take down. If you are able to time it correctly, this enemy will be a good target to trap in traps like Entangling Nets or Poisoned Stakes. Regular old direct damage will also work, but it will take a while before you are able to kill this Commander.
- Uruk Soldier: This enemy is the perfect candidate for your direct damage decks. Having just 2 hitpoints, the Uruk Soldier will die easily if you can get a combination of Gondorian Spearmen and Spears of the Citadel up. If you are unable to dispatch this enemy with direct damage or if you are unable to cancel his attack, his 4 attack stat might give you some problems. Since you will not be allowed to lose characters to his attack, you will be forced to defend this guy with a hero. I will note that this enemy will be perfect fodder for Grimbeorn and his ability. It will be great to kill the enemy directly after his attack.
- Southron Phalanx: During setup, this enemy is easily the weakest of the bunch. It gets worse as the players get control over more locations though. In solo, this enemy can get very fearsome if your game drags on for too long. The 2 defence and 3 hitpoints might just be the most impressive thing that this enemy brings to the table, as he will take some attention in order to properly dispatch him. A special shout-out to the shadow effect on this card, in true solo, this effect can absolutely ruin your day.
The new encounter deck features a lot of new locations that tie in with the Controlling Locations mechanic of this scenario. Remember that the main quest card does not allow players to place progress on locations in the staging area by player card effects. However, the locations aren’t immune to player card effects so there may be some tricks you can use in order to clear more than 1 location per round. Some locations also help in this, as we will discuss next.
- West Gate: This is one of the 4 unique locations and usually my first pick for setup if I play this quest in true solo. The West Gate allows players to search the encounter deck and discard pile for an Osgiliath location and add it to the staging area if there is no active location. If this effect resolves, the players are allowed to travel to The West Gate during any Action window. This can be great in the first turn, as the quest starts off without any location in the active location slot. This way, players can start to make progress on the active location, and even control it right out of the gate. The theme of this mechanic is also great, as the West Gate should be the first to fall as it is closer to Gondor. For the chosen location from the encounter deck, I tend to take a Ruined Tower. Since you have to reveal the location, Ruined Square is a bad choice, as it will surge into another card. The Tower allows you to make another location active if you are unable to clear the Gate during your first quest phase. This removes all Osgiliath locations from the staging area if you haven’t revealed one during the staging step. When this location is under the control of a player, that player must return this location to the staging area whenever the player must take an undefended attack. This is the same for any of the other unique locations.
- The King’s Library: This unique location is actually quite easy to understand, as it only has a travel effect that is quite familiar to players. Whenever the players decide to travel to the King’s Library, they have to reveal the top card of the encounter deck in order to travel here. The reason why I never have this location during setup is that you cannot easily control what cards are coming off of the encounter deck next. And yes, I said cards, because surge is something that will still trigger if you travel to this location and have revealed a card. Stick to other options for setup. If you have to travel here in order to clear the location, I would suggest using Ghan-Buri-Ghan to negate the travel effect. This makes the round a little easier, and might even see you win the game if this was the last location you had to explore.
- Ancient Harbor: The first of 2 unique locations that cannot be travelled to. In order to make progress, players will have to exhaust a hero during the combat phase to place a single point of progress here. Obviously, characters with build in readying have a distinct advantage here. Boromir and Quickbeam come to mind, but any hero with a readying attachment can also join in. There is no limit on how often you can exhaust a hero to place some progress here, but the location’s effect can only be used during the combat phase. In multiplayer, there tend to be more heroes left standing at the end of the combat phase, so it should be easier to explore this location in higher player counts.
- The Old Bridge: Like the Ancient Harbor, the Bridge cannot be travelled to. The players can make progress on this location by spending resources during the Planning phase. If any hero has resources left in his pool, they can use them to put a progress token on the location. Leadership decks often have enough resources to go around, so bringing a Leadership deck will be a natural fit for this location. The number of resources that it takes to clear this location will often be 1, as there will likely be another Osgiliath location in the staging area alongside the Old Bridge. If this is not the case, then the cost of placing 1 progress here will be 2 resources. This location is less daunting in multiplayer, as more players will have more resources left over. Players can also spend their resources in case an Orc Vanguard is in the staging area, and they can’t use their non-Tactics resources.
- Ruined Tower: This location is actually one of my favourites, as it allows the players to explore more than 1 location if they quest successfully. This avoids location lock and makes the quest a bit easier. The Ruined Tower has the text that it can become a second active location at the cost of 1 exhausting one hero. Having two active locations can be very useful if players tend to make a lot of progress. The order in which the progress is placed on two active locations does not matter, but one location must be explored before placing progress on the next location. If players explore just 1 location, the other becomes the new active location by default. This means that players will not be able to have Ruined Tower in some sort of second-active-location slot for the rest of the game. If the other location is explored, Ruined Tower becomes the primary active location. Having just 2 quest points makes this a good target for a host of player card effects, ranging from Legolas to Strength of Will. The downside of controlling this location is that it will tend to leave the player’s control frequently. It gets put back in the staging area each time another location from that player’s control is lost. The best technique would be to have 1 player take control of all copies of this card, which will make it less likely to leave play. Counter-Attack, however, might still push it back, meaning that the player will lose control over all copies of this card.
- Ruined Square: This 1 threat location can be a pain in your playthroughs from time to time, as the location will surge into another card. Once it is in play though, the location can easily be cleared whenever the players kill 2 enemies. It is for this reason that I would suggest that players don’t travel to this location if they have other options, it can be cleared in the staging area during the combat phase. If players kill a single enemy during the combat phase, all copies of Ruined Square get a progress token on them. This makes it very easy to take control of this location. The player who controls this location must be alert that his characters cannot leave play. If they do, then Ruined Square will return to the staging area. This does not trigger its surge keyword again though.
- West Quarter/East Quarter: I’ll handle both of these locations at the same time, as they are very similar in concept. When players travel to either one of these locations, the current quest gains Siege (West Quarter) or Battle (East Quarter). The nice thing about these locations is that there is no effect on them that can push them back to the staging area once they are explored. Counter-Attack can still do this if the players do not want to raise their threat. For advice on travelling, I would say that players should really time when they are going to these locations. Having them active might screw with combat phase during the next round, of some big defenders are sent to the quest instead of tanking a Mumak. West Quarter should be explored during the times that your threat is quite low. This way, some players can avoid taking enemies while sending their defenders to the quest. Having a bunch of Ranged/Sentinel characters on the table will also help in order to survive a round of combat while any of these locations are active.
- Orc War Camp: This is the only non-Osgiliath location in the encounter deck. This makes it a low priority since it can still be in play at the end of the round for the players to win. However, its 5 threat makes it a dreadful card to reveal. Its text can be neglected since the quest card already states that you will not be able to place progress on locations in the staging area. I would personally recommend players to travel here when possible. Use a copy of Strength of Will to clear it right away and then travel to a different location by using Thror’s Map. Having the 5 threat in the staging area might hinder any progress you were about to make. However, progress is not a major concern in this quest as long as you have enough to clear the active location.
The treacheries in this scenario aren’t the real threat, but can still cause players to lose control over locations. One of the treacheries makes its return from Siege of Cair Andros, back to break the game again. In terms of what treacheries to cancel, I would suggest The Master’s Malice, Southron Support and Counter-Attack.
- Counter-Attack: This card is not a big problem in the early stages of the game, but can be very annoying at the later stages, when players (should) control a lot of locations. This treachery will either return the highest threat location each player controls or that player must raise his threat by the number of locations he controls. This is a great card to get out early when not all players yet control a location. If this treachery should ever trigger while you control a couple of locations, try to discard a Ruined Tower if you really have to. This location will leave your control anyway when another location is lost, so it is best to get it out by itself. The highest threat locations tend to be the Orc War Camps which are not a prerequisite to victory at the end of the round, so losing control of one of those isn’t bad. It will, however, add 5 threat to the staging area and make the players travel there again. This treachery can be worth cancelling if able, but it will still surge.
- Street Fighting: No matter how many Tests of Will you have in your hand, you will still have to resolve the effects on this card as it cannot be cancelled. When this card is revealed, the players have to discard the top card of the encounter deck until an Osgiliath location is revealed. Note that this is a great effect to get some nasty enemies or Orc War Camps in the discard pile. Having scryed the encounter deck and set up this effect can be an incredible benefit to the players. Try to use cards like Scout Ahead to do this. Once the players have discarded an Osgiliath location, they are given the choice to have the first player exhaust 1 hero in order to claim control over that location. If the first player has no ready heroes or doesn’t want to exhaust any, the location gets added to the staging area. I will often recommend that players exhaust a hero to claim the location when possible. This can be a great way to get control over some of the unique locations without having to deal with their effects. However, if the discarded location is a Ruined Tower or a Ruined Square, it might be better to keep a hero ready for combat or travel effects. These locations can be explored more easily and don’t add much threat to the staging area.
- Pinned Down: This is another card that scales to the progress that the players have made in the scenario up to this point. The total Archery total this round will be increased by the number of locations that the players control. This can get out of hand if you are playing this quest solo, as you will have to take all the Archery yourself. In a multiplayer game, this is usually easier to take, though the total Archery value may be higher as more locations are under player’s control and some enemies might pitch in as well. The second part of the treachery will make it so that players don’t get off easy in the first few rounds. If players do not control more than 4 locations in total, the treachery gains surge. In the later stages of the game, this will be less likely to happen, but the treachery will be more punishing. Bring some healing characters to deal with the Archery in this quest, it can make it easier to keep characters alive this way.
- Power of Mordor: Here it is again. Last time, this treachery caused you to lose control over all Battleground locations, meaning that the quest took forever. In this quest, it can cause players to win the first round. The treachery will force players to count the number of cards in the staging area and shuffle them all back into the encounter deck. Then, the players must reveal the same number of cards they just shuffled back. Having this treachery go off in the first turn can cause players to discard all Osgiliath locations in play. If they then do not reveal any other locations in the second part of the treachery, they will win the game at the end of the round. This can cause players to have a really easy and short playthrough. This treachery will also shuffle any Mumaks back into the encounter deck, which will remove any damage on it. In the later stages of the game, this treachery might also discard any Osgiliath location in the staging area, but players will still need to clear the active location and maintain control of all of their locations during the combat phase.
Tips and Tricks
I have labelled a couple of tips and tricks in the scenario overview already, check them out if you need any more cards to bring to the scenario.
- Side-quests are a must against this scenario. Even if you aren’t making a ton of progress on the main quest, it will be good to not let it go to waste on the main quest. There are a lot of good options for players to put into play. I personally like Gather Information as the first side-quest to find some key card you need for your deck. After that, players can go nuts with side-quests. The Road Goes Ever On might be a good card to include to make sure you keep exploring these quests.
- Keep travelling. Since there is no option to put progress on locations in the staging area, travelling will be your best bet to clear those locations. It also removes threat from the staging area, which makes it easier to make progress in the future.
- A lot of the locations in this scenario have 2 quest points that need to be cleared in order to take control of them. Use Strength of Will to place two progress tokens on the location by exhausting a Spirit character. Combine this with Thror’s Map to travel to 2 locations at once (3 if you have a Ruined Tower).
- Warden of Arnor can still place a point of progress on the first location revealed each round. This location is technically not yet in the staging area and is not protected by the main stage. This can make exploring locations easier, but won’t clear any on its own.
- With so many locations being explored, Idraen is a great hero to bring to this quest. Use her and you might get to ready 2 or 3 times per round. She is also a good target for cards like Wingfoot and her 3 attack stat makes her able to take care of some smaller enemies on her own.
- Since the quest is won at the end of the round, progress placing cards like Tactics Legolas, Arod, Blade of Gondolin will a great asset to your deck. These cards will allow you to place more progress on active locations. If this clears the locations and there are no others in the staging area, the players have won the game because of this.
- Since this is a quest where you would much rather reveal an enemy than a location, I would suggest players use Wait No Longer to make sure that they fish out an enemy out of the encounter deck. This way, they will be allowed to reveal 1 card less during staging, which can save you having to reveal another location. For the same reason, I do not recommend the Lore variant The Hidden Way. Gildor’s Counsel will also work and will even allow players to avoid engaging an enemy.
- Removing locations from the encounter deck will be the main goal of this scenario, so if you can put them in the discard pile, all the better. Use Celduin Traveller to scry the encounter deck and perhaps discard a location. You can also use Out of the Wild or Scout Ahead to scry the encounter deck and put an Osgiliath location in the victory display.
- While I will admit that cards like Evening Star and Asfaloth can be a lot less effective in this quest, it might still be worth including them. You are able to target the active location with these cards, potentially clearing them if you have had a problematic round of staging this round.
- The Archery values in this quest can get pretty insane in higher player counts. Make sure you have some sort of healing or damage mitigation in your deck to save your characters from leaving play.
- Silvan decks or decks that have characters leave play a lot, might be less likely to succeed in this quest. They will have to continuously return Ruined Square to the staging area, making it a very slippery location for players to keep a hold of. Try to have a player whose characters don’t usually tend to leave play control this location.
- Grimbeorn will do some amazing work against the enemies in this scenario. Provided you can ready him to defend a lot of attacks and he has enough resources to trigger his ability, you can level the playing field and kill most enemies with this awesome hero.
So ends this odd, yet enjoyable quest. Players will be introduced to the new Hidden Card mechanic in the next Adventure Pack, but before that, I think I will circle back and fo Druadan Forest first. I have finally gathered enough courage to dip my toe into that one. With a holiday coming up, I seem to be in good shape to finish this cycle before the end of April. I will also already start taking quest analyses by guest authors for the next Ringmaker cycle. So if you would like to analyse one of those quests, feel free to inform me. Trait analyses and Staple analyses will be put on a halt for now and I’ll focus some more on these scenario analyses.
I will also again note that the Vision of the Poll-antir Poll is still open. You can leave feedback on the website and articles like this that will inform me on how to improve the blog overall. https://goo.gl/forms/XC0UAD7WA4ByVfRH2.
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