The Line Unbroken – C11: Journey to the Crossroads

Journey to the Crossroads continues the trend in the Lord of the Rings sagas which I’ve previously mentioned – that the second quest of the box is the most likely to brutalise the players. An additional point which I only just realised is that in the cases of Road Darkens, Treason of Saruman and Land of Shadow specifically it is rather more likely to brutalise the players in campaign mode than just regular play – Journey in the Dark becomes easier without the burdens around and it’s easier to sacrifice a hero to The Balrog when you won’t have to live with it for many more quests afterwards; Helm’s Deep offers an easier start in exchange for Poisoned Counsels, which is much more acceptable when you’re taking it for only one quest rather than 6; and Journey to the Crossroads is noticeably easier if you’re willing to let a few enemies go to The Black Gate because you’re not in campaign mode and so they won’t come back for Pelennor Fields.

In campaign mode, though, it’s a serious problem. To make things easier for yourself in the future at Pelennor Fields you have to make them more difficult for yourself in the moment and try to engage every single enemy that turns up (or kill them in the staging area if you have the means to do so). Quite aside from the difficulties involved in defending and then killing that many enemies, just managing to engage them all can be incredibly difficult, sometimes leaving you with no choice but to let one go as you don’t have enough optional engagements and their engagement costs are too high.
The mechanics interact slightly oddly with the player cards in the pack – the heroes in particular. Faramir is somewhat in his element since you want to engage everything and that triggers his ability, and the other cards which give benefits for dealing with enemies with high engagement costs fit in nicely, though Anborn’s ability to raise engagement costs could actually be a downside in some circumstances. Meanwhile Damrod is in an odd place. Ambush can certainly help with dealing with all the enemies, but the iconic trap, Ranger Spikes, is basically useless here since leaving enemies trapped in the staging area will just let them leave to The Black Gate. I can still make some decent use of both heroes though.

So, as noted, the most significant problem I face is to engage, defend and get rid of all the enemies. Haldir will definitely help, as he can kill enemies in the staging area once he’s powerful enough, or at least before they attack, thus cutting down on the number of defences required. So powering up Haldir is a high priority. As far as my defences go, my biggest problem is inevitably the Oliphaunts. 6 attack, and a cap on how much damage they can take each round, forcing me to take a minimum of 3 rounds to kill one assuming I do so normally. There are some shenanigans I can pull off to get rid of them faster, but I still have to be prepared to defend them, which may be a bit difficult to achieve in the circumstances. I need a lot of defensive power.
That’s basically it though. Perhaps some engagement effects, lots of attack for Haldir and lots of defence for my defenders. Beyond that it’s just the standard need for willpower, card draw, etc, and whatever I want to build in around my heroes.

The Road may pass, but they will not

Sam Gamgee
Faramir (Ld)

Allies (16):
Envoy of Pelargir x3
Defender of Rammas x3
Galadhon Archer x3
Westfold Outrider x3
Errand-rider x3
Bill the Pony x1

Attachments (24):
Bow of the Galadhrim x3
Rivendell Blade x3
Gondorian Shield x3
Hobbit Cloak x3
Staff of Lebethron x3
Dunedain Signal x3
Dunedain Mark x3
Steward of Gondor x3

Events (9):
Feint x3
Straight Shot x3
Speak Your Promise! x3

Side-quests (1):
Gather Information x1

Thoughts: Here’s the bulk of my combat power. Sam with Steward of Gondor/Gondorian Shield/Hobbit Cloak plus engaging a high engagement cost enemy will be 6 defence and thus able to take an Oliphaunt, while Frodo can reach that point with Sting/Mithril Shirt/Hobbit Cloak. Each of them will also still have room for a Staff of Lebethron in their second restricted slot so I won’t have so much to worry about in terms of shadow effects. Dunedain Signal is primarily intended for Frodo – most of the enemies should be engaging this deck, so Sam doesn’t need to be a Sentinel, but Frodo does since he moves around.
For offense, I have Bows of the Galadhrim, Rivendell Blades, and Dunedain Marks for Haldir so I should have good chances of getting him powered up fairly quickly. The spare weapons can be attached to my Galadhon Archers. The Rivendell Blades also tie into my Oliphaunt shenanigans – if I reduce an Oliphaunt’s defence to 0 with a Rivendell Blade, or indeed with Speak Your Promise! once Frodo has both Fellowship of the Ring and Sting attached and is thus 5 willpower (or uses his ability to increase it) I can then discard said Oliphaunt using Straight Shot and shortcut the process of killing it which would otherwise take 3 rounds, as noted.
It’s also possible, especially early on that I might be in a position to leave an enemy in the staging area with 1 HP, in which case the Galadhon Archer could kill it on entering play. Or I might leave an enemy in the staging area in general but then be able to pull it down the following round with a Westfold Outrider – making use of the fact the enemies don’t leave for The Black Gate until the end of the Planning phase.
The most likely target of Faramir’s readying is the lowly Errand-rider, as once I’m established this deck shouldn’t need so many resources and I’d rather shuttle them over to the second deck.

Laying the Ambush

Haldir of Lorien

Allies (16):
Master of the Forge x3
Warden of Healing x3
Galadhrim Minstrel x3
Galadriel’s Handmaiden x3
Anborn (Lo) x2
Ithilien Tracker x1
Gildor Inglorion x1

Attachments (20):
Poisoned Stakes x3
Ambush x3
Fast Hitch x3
Unexpected Courage x3
Nenya x2
Fellowship of the Ring x2
Light of Valinor x1
Wingfoot x1
Sting x1
Mithril Shirt x1

Events (15):
A Test of Will x3
Hasty Stroke x3
Daeron’s Runes x3
Deep Knowledge x3
Gildor’s Counsel x3

Side-quests (1):
Gather Information x1

Thoughts: The two traps I’ve included may be significant for getting some faster kills in the early game (though later on they may become superfluous except in that they draw me cards via Damrod). I’ve brought in Lore Anborn rather than Leadership in case I want to recycle one of them. Obviously Master of the Forge will help me find all the significant attachments, traps and others – as will my other draw from Daeron’s Runes, Deep Knowledge and Galadhrim Minstrels (which can’t grab attachments of course, but thin the deck). Since Frodo and Sam are to be my primary defenders, Fast Hitches are very important. Unexpected Courages perhaps less so, but getting at least one for Haldir could be very handy. I forgot when building this deck that in trying to keep unique things separated between the two sides of the campaign I was including the title of Wingfoot in that (though not the title of Steward of Gondor, of course), but never mind. Light of Valinor obviously goes on Haldir, who otherwise should not be questing since I need him to kill things.
This deck obviously has a bit more willpower, though mostly the willpower will be coming from my heroes. Gildor’s Counsel may be crucial to keep things under control, especially since including the enemy from The Crossroads, I will be effectively revealing 3 cards per round.


Journey to the Crossroads
Journey to the Crossroads Take 2

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