This post has sat half-finished in my drafts for quite a long time. My job got… really intense for a while there, so non-essential things (like blogging, spending time at home, and sleeping) sort of fell off of the wagon. What little free time I did manage to wrestle for myself I decided to spend with my life partner writing Dungeons & Dragons adventures for fun. Maybe I’ll talk a little more about that some other time. But suffice to say I have taken a few weeks off of work and now I can finally get this blog post out of my inbox and into the world!
As per the usual Path Less Traveled rules, I’ll be taking on Roam Across Rhovanion with a limited card pool consisting of only a single Core Set, The Wilds of Rhovanion deluxe expansion, and the first two APs of this cycle. My hiking boots are laced up, I’ve got more than enough food packed for the journey, and I’m ready to hit the open road. Let’s roam!
Haldan tight to your dreams
As always, this pack comes with a fistful of new player cards to help us along on our journey. Of particular note is that it provides the key pieces for a new Woodman archetype that focuses on placing Attachments on Locations. The primary enabler is the new Hero, Haldan. He doesn’t exhaust to quest when there’s an Attachment on the Active Location, which is nice, but his real power is that he draws you 1 card per Attachment on the Active Location whenever you clear it.
That may not seem like much at first glance—after all, how many Attachments can you really get on a single Location? But in practice, if you build around him he can be a real card draw powerhouse—especially when you take into account the fact that those Attachments were probably giving you other benefits, too.
But a single Hero doth not an archetype make. Fortunately, in addition to the Location Attachments from the previous adventure pack, Roam Across Rhovanion provides us with some new toys so we can get better use out of the shirtless Woodman.
Woodmen’s Path attaches to a Location and reduces its quest points to 1, greasing the wheels and ensuring that you can keep clearing Locations quickly to take advantage of Haldan’s abilities. Glamdring is quite possibly the strongest Guarded player card we’ve seen to date, providing a hero with +2 attack and drawing a card every time they kill an Enemy—and with Haldan on the board, if it ends up guarded by a Location you get even more benefits out of it. South Away! is an Event that switches a Location to be Active and reduces your threat by the number of Attachments on it, synergizing nicely with the rest of the pack.
While South Away! isn’t likely to make it into non-Woodmen decks, the other two can be great problem-solver cards even if you don’t build around them exclusively.
Don’t forget Dale
Of course, this pack also continues development of the newly-explored Dale archetype as well. Wiglaf is a unique Ally who lets you play an Item Attachment on him for free when you play him from your hand (synergizing with Dale‘s whole “Allies with Attachments” thing). If you’re looking for an expensive Attachment to get maximum value out of Wiglaf, you could try the new Ancestral Armor, which costs a hefty 4 but grants any Leadership or Noble character +2 defense and +2 hit points—enough to turn most characters into a sturdy super-defender for the rest of the game. And if you’re still looking for Attachments for your other Dale Allies, you can try out Wild Stallion, an Ally which becomes a Mount Attachment for any other Ally, granting them +1 to all of their stats.
Fortunately, both Ancestral Armor and the Wild Stallion are helpful outside of Dale decks, too. Both cards are great ways to build up strong defenders—something that can be difficult to do with a smaller card pool.
The Eagles are coming!
The final archetype that gets a little love in Roam Across Rhovanion is Eagles. Meneldor brings some cost-effective Location control to Tactics (something it sorely lacked up to this point) as well as sporting a useful 2 willpower for only 3 resources. Once you’ve played Meneldor from your hand, you can return him to hand using Flight of the Eagles, which allows you to shuffle an Eagle of the North into the encounter deck. There’s no guarantee that it’ll turn up during your game, but if it does, you not only get to take control of a powerful Ally but also discard an Enemy from the Staging Area.
The Eagle archetype was first introduced in the first cycle of the game, the Shadows of Mirkwood cycle, and hasn’t gotten much development since then. As a long-time player it’s nice to see some new Eagle cards after so much time. Meneldor is sure to come in handy all on his own in all kinds of Tactics decks, but Flight of the Eagles / Eagle of the North isn’t likely to find a home in any but the most dedicated of Eagle decks—it’s only a situationally useful card to begin with, and you have to draw and play an Eagle Ally before you can even consider using it.
All in all
Roam Across Rhovanion contains a mix of archetype-specific cards and general purpose cards, most (but not all) of which can be useful with a restricted card pool. It contains several unique toolbox solutions to common problems, such as Location control in Tactics, a powerful weapon in Lore, and defensive options in Leadership and Spirit.
But is it enough to help me defeat the quest?
What we’re up against
As always, I’m going to do my best to avoid story spoilers. If you’re the sort of person who also wants to avoid spoiling the quest mechanics, you can skip over the collapsed sections of this post.
Roam if you want to
This quest is pretty narrative-driven, so it’s a little hard to talk about without giving things away; if this article ends up sounding a little vague, that’s why!
Anyway, there are a total of 5 Quest Stages, the middle three of which appear in a randomized order to keep you on your toes. Fortunately, each stage is fairly simple, and most of them don’t ask much from you. You start the game with a number of Locations equal to the number of players and an Objective-Ally (with pretty good stats) who follows the first player around throughout the game.
Stage 1 simply asks you to explore a single Location to advance—any Location, your choice. Easy enough.
The three middle Stages all take the form, “Add a particular Location or Enemy to play and attach a particular Objective to it. You can’t deal with that thing until you place 5 progress on the quest, but once you’ve done that, deal with the thing and claim the Objective to advance.” Each of the Objectives does something different, and most of them are double-edged swords in one way or another—helping you a little, but sometimes hurting you a little too.
The final Stage adds two boss Enemies for you to fight, both of which have pretty high attack stats and decent defensive hit point pools. They get a couple of extra attacks each round until you manage to kill them. The final stage also flips the quest phase around a bit, with the Enemies doing the questing and you trying to keep them from placing progress. If you manage to kill the bosses before they complete the final quest stage, victory is yours!
Some cards to look out for
It’s worth mentioning that there is a discrepancy between the encounter sets the quest cards tell you to use and the ones in the rules sheet—this was a misprint, and unfortunately the rules sheet happens to be correct here. That means that some of the nastier Treacheries from this cycle make an appearance here. It may be worth bringing along Condition removal to help you deal with Weighed Down, and Treachery cancellation will always be a welcome sight here.
There’s also a Location in this quest that gets me every time: Hills of Wilderland. It gets X threat, where X is the number of characters controlled by the player with the most characters—which can spell doom for a lot of decks that aren’t prepared for it. It’s worth always keeping it in the back of your mind when you’re deciding how many characters to send on the quest.
There are other curveballs to be found within the encounter deck, of course, but the quest doesn’t lean too hard on any one trick. It just applies steady pressure in all areas and forces you to stay on top of your game.
You can see everything the quest has to offer over at the Hall of Beorn.
Building a deck
I haven’t had many opportunities to play the new Haldan Hero yet, so this seems like a great time to give him a spin. I’m curious to see if I can build a solo-capable control-style deck that mostly avoids combat between the new cards in this cycle and some of the Lore staples of the Core Set—primarily Denethor. With his help, I can send most of the Enemies to the bottom of the encounter deck and ensure that I see more than my fair share of Locations so that I can keep triggering Haldan’s abilities.
That little nugget of a deck idea can take me pretty far. Obviously, I’ll want all of the new Location Attachments that I can get my hands on. I can even get some use out of Power in the Earth, a Core Set card that almost never sees the light of day due to its low benefit to cost ratio. That (plus the existence of South Away!) suggests that I should include a Spirit for my number three, and since I want to be clearing Locations as often as possible I’ll once again be leaning on the awesome willpower of Core Set Éowyn.
2x Erebor Hammersmith (Core Set)
2x Gléowine (Core Set)
1x Henamarth Riversong (Core Set)
3x Long Lake Fisherman (The Withered Heath)
2x Miner of the Iron Hills (Core Set)
3x North Realm Lookout (The Wilds of Rhovanion)
3x Wild Stallion (Roam Across Rhovanion)
2x Forest Snare (Core Set)
2x Glamdring (Roam Across Rhovanion)
3x Map of Rhovanion (The Wilds of Rhovanion)
2x Necklace of Girion (The Wilds of Rhovanion)
2x Power in the Earth (Core Set)
2x Protector of Lórien (Core Set)
1x The Arkenstone (The Withered Heath)
1x Unexpected Courage (Core Set)
3x Woodmen’s Clearing (The Withered Heath)
3x Woodmen’s Path (Roam Across Rhovanion)
2x A Test of Will (Core Set)
2x Hasty Stroke (Core Set)
2x Radagast’s Cunning (Core Set)
2x Secret Paths (Core Set)
2x South Away! (Roam Across Rhovanion)
3x The Hidden Way (The Withered Heath)
1x Will of the West (Core Set)
3 Heroes, 51 Cards
For details on how to play the deck, check out its RingsDB description.
The play’s the thing
Victory on: Normal mode
For the first several quest stages, I was able to use Denethor‘s ability to scry and manipulate the encounter deck to my great advantage, ensuring that I didn’t reveal any more Enemies than my combat-light deck could handle. I was able to stack the deck so that Haldan had enough Locations to stay fed, and once Henamarth was in play I was even able to control which cards got stuck to my Guarded Attachments (usually Locations) which spiraled into a positive feedback loop of even more power.
In other words, the deck worked exactly as planned.
Even so, my luck had worn thin by the end of the game. I had drawn through my entire deck, and I ended up having to take an undefended attack on Éowyn (killing her) in order to make it through to the end. While it was a little drawn out, the ending was tense and exciting. I was thrilled to see just how well Haldan fared—he’s better in practice than I would have thought!
Give me the details!
I managed to pull out a win on my second attempt. I had the encounter deck pretty much locked down for the first four stages of the game, only really tripping up when one of them forced me to fight a Grey Mountain Giant before I was really set up. Fortunately, I was able to use the Objective-Ally to help bolster my combat abilities and once the Giant was dead the next several stages were a walk through the park.
My biggest problem was the two bosses during the final stage. I was well set up, but with one of them getting an additional attack each round (for a total of 3 high-powered attacks) I didn’t have enough chump blockers to keep myself going for long. Unfortunately I had to sacrifice Éowyn just so I could have enough action advantage to kill both bosses, but a win is still a win!
A fun and replayable quest with a moderate difficulty curve, I’ll definitely be coming back to Roam Across Rhovanion with different decks just to see how they handle it. So far the quests of this cycle have been top-notch!
As far as the player cards go, Haldan is a fun new Hero to play with as the foundation for a neat new archetype which works pretty much out of the box (and only stands to get better with more expansions). There are a few cards which won’t be as useful without an expanded collection, but most of them can be put to good use even with a small pool. Wild Stallion in particular is making its way into lots of my decks these days.
All in all, the Ered Mithrin cycle is off to a solid start. I’m curious to see how the cycle develops as we venture deeper into the heart of the mountains!
“Home is behind, the world ahead,
And there are many paths to tread.”
Powered by WPeMatico