It’s been a long time coming but the first adventure pack for Lord of the Rings the Living Card Game has finally arrived on the shores of the United Kingdom, but is it any good??? Lets find out…
Each Adventure pack contains a selection of cards and a new quest so I will be begin by looking in detail at the new Hero and the new player cards.
Bilbo is a great hero, yes his threat is pretty high for his fairly meagre stats but his ability is very helpful indeed. That extra card draw can be a very helpful thing, as it not only increases your chances of drawing the cards you need but it can also help powerup abilities like the Protector of Lorien where the ability to discard cards can be crucial.
Rivendell Minstrel is a pretty good quester with 2 will power, but like most high quest Allies she suffers from a lack of hit points. Her when revealed ability however can be very useful and will continue to get more useful as the game develops. She allows you to search your deck for a song card, currently there is only 1 but another appears in the Conflict at the Carrock expansion and no doubt more will appear throughout the current cycle.
Strider's Path is an event that allows you to immediately travel to a location as it is revealed ignoring its Travel Text. This is useful for immediately reducing the threat in the staging area as well as bypassing some of the nastier effects on Location Cards.
Westfold Horse-Breaker is a Rohan Ally with a 2 resource cost, which is a bit high for 1 Will Power and 1 Defence, however his special ability “Discard to Ready a Hero” is much more useful.
Mustering The Rohirrim is an event that allows you to search the top 10 cards of your deck for a Rohan Ally and add it to your hand. In a pure spirit deck this probably isn’t much use yet, but as the game goes on this could be a handy card that will allow you to manipulate your deck more successfully.
Dunedain Mark costs 1 resource but adds +1 attack to the attached hero. In addition the attached hero can pay 1 resource from his pool to move the card to another Hero. Additional attack is always welcome and the ability to move it different heroes can really help in a pinch.
Campfire Tales costs 1 resource and allows all players to draw a card, this introduces some versatility into the Leadership deck which had previously been too resource heavy with nothing to spend it on.
Winged Guardian is one of my favourite new cards. This 2 cost ally has a defence of 4 and the sentinel ability meaning it can defend attacks against any player. Each time the eagle defends however you must pay a tactics resource or it is discarded. Still, this is worthwhile if it keeps your heroes in play and able to attack.
The Eagles are Coming is another card that will increase in usefulness as the Adventure packs are released. This one allows you to search the top 5 cards of your deck for an eagle ally and put it into your hand. Considering how powerful the current eagles that have been released or spoiled are this card can potentially be a big boost considering it costs nothing to play.
Song of Kings is the first of many songs, this one costs 1 resource and is attached to a hero, that hero can now spend resources as if he were a Leadership hero. This effectively makes one hero in your party a dual sphere hero and it is the first time when a three-sphere deck is truly playable.
The Hunt for Gollum
This months quest sees the start of the six-pack cycle of adventures where you set out together to seek out and capture the miserable creature Gollum before he can cause too much trouble.
This first adventure is a level 4 adventure, although it is considerably less difficult than Journey Down the Anduin which is also Level 4.
The Story So Far
Gandalf has requested your assistance in the search for the elusive creature known as Gollum. Your search begins in the Anduin Valley between Mirkwood Forest and the Misty Mountains.
You make your way along the bank of the Anduin River, a likely place for Gollum to find food.
The Hunt Begins
To setup the quest simply add 1 card per player to the staging area. The highest threat card in the encounter is a 3, however there are a few cards with the keyword surge so it is possible to start with a high threat or no threat at all in the staging area.
After the Heroes successfully quest the first player draws three cards from the top of the deck and adds 1 of them to staging area discarding the other two. Because this happens after the quest phase but before Travel and Combat you have a lot of options here.
For example the game revolves around clue cards, in order to complete the game you must have at least 1 clue card.
So putting a clue card into play may be a good idea, unfortunately it also contains the keyword Guarded which will add another card to the staging area. This step also allows you the option of dealing with or avoiding the nastiest enemies in the set depending on your current situation.
The Hunters from Mordor get hideously powerful when there are multiple clues in play. Their 2 Threat and 2 Attack are multiplied by the number of clues, this is devastating in both the Quest and Attack phases. Choosing to put them into play early on so that they can be dispatched could be a good plan, but it’s almost always better to just discard them. They really are thoroughly unpleasant and with 5 in the deck you’ll be very luck if you can avoid them for a full game.
With a high quest party the 8 progress points needed to clear this stage should come with relative ease. The only thing that could slow you down would be an excess of locations in the staging area.
A New Terror Abroad
To complete the second stage of the quest you will need 10 progress and at least 1 clue, failing to have a clue in stage 3 will result in you returning to this stage and having to complete it all over again.
It is worth noting here that Clues are lost when the Hero they are attached to is damaged. Other than combat there is only one way this can happen; Evil Storm is an event card that damages all characters controlled by a player with a threat of 35 or higher so keeping at least 1 player under the 35 threshold could be a good plan. Failing that having Eleanor on hand to cancel cards is a good alternative.
The 10 progress required to complete this section of the quest will accumulate much more slowly than the previous stage, this is due to the quest text.
“Forced: At the beginning of the quest phase, the first player looks at the top 2 cards of the encounter deck. Reveals and add 1 of those cards to the staging area, and discards the other.”
This means that you will always get an additional card in the staging area each turn. In addition to that there are still quite a few cards with surge which generate more cards in the staging area and the clues have the guarded key word which will also generate cards.
On The Trail
Once you do finally make it to stage 3 you’re home and dry, throw as much Will Power as you can at the quest, avoid damage on your clue bearing heroes and rack up the 8 progress you need as quickly as possible.
Players without Clue Cards cannot quest in this stage and if at any time you have no clues between you, you must return to the start of stage 2.
The most dangerous cards you will face in this phase are the Hunters From Mordor. If possible just get your heads down and run for the exit as quickly as possible, hanging back in this section of the quest could lead to a serious delay.
Most you probably know that I was beginning to get disillusioned with the game, having read my review a few weeks ago. So what about Hunt For Gollum then? It certainly doesn’t fix every problem I had with the game but it does address a few of them.
Firstly the increased card choices are great, more variety is always good in a game like this. Sure some of them are future proofing themselves and aren’t that useful right now, but there are some great cards in here, in particular Dunedain Mark and Winged Guardian.
In addition, Bilbo makes a great hero. His high threat and low hit points may exclude him from some quests but for use in the Hunt For Gollum quest he’s pretty good.
The quest itself? I enjoyed it, it’s not so hard as to be impossible but it also presents a challenge. The only seriously nasty card in the set is the Hunter from Mordor but because the quest gives you ways stop them entering play they don’t feel too bad. Of course, they can spell doom quickly once they’re in play.
However, one of my favourite things about this pack is the single Neutral Card that it introduces, the Song of Kings.
This card opens up the real possibility of playing a 3 sphere deck and it makes taking Sneak Attack and Steward of Gondor a no brainer in almost any deck. Does it violate the purity of the spheres? Maybe a little but it’s makes deckbuilding so much more interesting!
Was The Hunt For Gollum worth the wait, for me it was. The options that this set offers in deck construction will be a boon to any player struggling to complete the quests from the baseset. The variety that the expansion introduces will help spice up the game for the those who were getting bored with it and the quest itself is fun and interesting even if it’s not that innovative.
Overall Hunt for Gollum is a good expansion and a good quest, which if nothing else, adds to the variety and replayability of the baseset.
Lord of the Rings Scenario Reviews are made possible by our friends at Board Game Guru.