The Line Unbroken – C12: Shelob’s Lair

Shelob’s Lair rounds out the Land of Shadow box. The second half of Two Towers in general must have been very difficult to adapt into the game, with this quest being perhaps the most problematic bit of all. Passage of the Marshes turned the dead faces in the marshes into actual undead enemies, not exactly true to the book but it worked in-game. Journey to the Crossroads had us participate in the ambush on the Southerlings, it was fine. Here, though, for Shelob’s Lair, the focus of the quest should really be dealing with Shelob herself, but having just one enemy doesn’t necessarily work so well because everything can become too predictable. The designers kind of managed to make it work, including a few orcs and a couple of Nazgul but still mostly sticking to Shelob and having some means of keeping things more unpredictable – though some of the ways they did so can make the quest rather frustrating instead.

A comment here about how the campaign pool has progressed – one of the preview articles for Land of Shadow before its release brought up that there are twice as many Burdens as Boons in this box. While this is true, the emphasis they put on it made me assume the numbers were a bit bigger than 2 and 1. With that said, A Heavy Burden is potentially pretty significant. Back when I chose to make Frodo a Noble Hero, the knowledge of A Heavy Burden in my future did make me debate choosing an alternative so it wouldn’t be as much of a wrench to exhaust him at the end of the Planning phase, but I stuck with it, and I’ll just have to put high priority on Fast Hitches for him. Of course there is the alternative of just taking a bit of extra threat, and given the mention of the Dire keyword in the Mountain of Fire announcement article, I’m definitely curious to see how much threat trouble it’ll be possible to get into with that and a starting threat penalty of +3 by this point.

Back to handling this quest. Once again I don’t particularly want to use Ranger Spikes. This time not because there’s a problem with leaving enemies in the staging area, but because on the assumption the encounter deck will get reshuffled at least once, I’d rather keep the enemies in it to reduce my chances of seeing some of the horrible treacheries. On the other hand Ambush and Poisoned Stakes will be potentially useful here still, at least early on before I’m powered up. A general problem this quest throws at you is effects which cause random discards from hand, so I want to load up on more card draw. I also want that draw to find the very important cards for my primary goal in building these decks of course – that goal being to defend Shelob as safely as possible. So that means a plethora of defence boosts and readying, and significantly also Staff of Lebethron, which I can use to not even risk any of the many rather harsh shadow effects she could have – the Staff will always work on Shelob as her engagement cost is 50. The other goal I have that’s different to normal is also related to Shelob – direct damage to remove some of the resources from her a bit faster on stage 3 of the quest.
Besides these mechanically motivated decisions I’ve also made some story motivated ones as well. Potential story, at least. Since I don’t know what heroes I’ll be using for Mountain of Fire I figured I’d throw in a few unique characters here so that I have a precedent for them being up Cirith Ungol rather than anywhere else if I decide I want to send them into Mordor. Now that’s not to say I won’t have characters just suddenly appear there if that suits the decks I want to build, but I’m giving myself slightly more chance of making sense this way.

“Stand! Running is no use.”

Sam Gamgee
Faramir (Ld)

Allies (16):
Errand-rider x3
Weather Hills Watchman x3
Galadhon Archer x3
Beorn x1
Skinbark x1
Rumil x1
Orophin x1
Anborn (Ld) x1
Bill the Pony x1

Attachments (21):
Steward of Gondor x3
Staff of Lebethron x3
Hobbit Cloak x3
Dunedain Warning x3
Dunedain Signal x3
Gondorian Shield x3
Bow of the Galadhrim x3

Events (13):
Feint x3
Halfling Determination x3
Taste it Again! x3
Speak Your Promise! x3
Brace of Coneys x1

Side-quests (1):
Gather Information x1

Thoughts: As I said, bringing in a few unique characters so they’re established as being here if I want them and want the story to make more sense. Mainly Denethor, since as much as I kind of want Denethor in Flame of the West, I already know I can’t fit him into my 6 hero slots, so I might take him to Mordor instead. Oh, and Beorn, I might decide I want to take a giant bear into Mordor. But it’s also possible we might get a hero version of Orophin or Rumil at some point before Mountain of Fire maybe? They also have mechanical uses though, it’s just Denethor and Beorn who are really in as setting up potential Mountain of Fire heroes.
Mechanically, this deck focuses on dealing with Shelob. Firstly, getting Frodo and Sam up to the point where they can defend safely against Shelob. Since Shelob’s engagement cost is 50, a Staff of Lebethron can always discard her shadow card (which given some of the shadow effects are specifically horrible if the attacking enemy is Shelob is a very good idea). So then my only requirement is to get them up to 4 defence. The 50 engagement cost means Hobbit Cloak will also always work, Dunedain Warnings obviously work for either of them who is a bit short (and can be moved in emergencies), Gondorian Shield for Sam since he’s getting Steward as usual. Meanwhile Frodo can be boosted by Sting and the Mithril Shirt from the other deck. Halfling Determination is available if I urgently need an extra boost. For more options, I can put the other two Shields onto Mablung and Faramir if I want, and give the third Staff to one of them. On the other hand I might just hold onto the superfluous attachments for random discard effects.
Secondly, I have some direct damage to remove Shelob’s resources on stage 3 of the quest. Of course if I can get Sting onto Frodo then that’ll do a decent number by itself, and I can potentially get an extra attack on Shelob each round from Haldir. But I also have the Galadhon Archers to remove resources while Shelob is in the staging area or engaged with the other deck (once the Cleft of Cirith Ungol is explored), and Rumil for once she’s engaged with either player. Orophin will let me recover any Galadhon Archer that gets randomly discarded from hand by another effect.
Beyond that it’s pretty standard stuff for this setup I’ve been running this box.

Friendship Unlooked For

Haldir of Lorien

Allies (14):
Galadriel’s Handmaiden x3
Galadhrim Minstrel x3
Master of the Forge x3
Elrond x3
Gildor Inglorion x1
Dori x1

Attachments (26):
Fellowship of the Ring x3
Ambush x3
Poisoned Stakes x3
Lembas x3
Fast Hitch x3
Unexpected Courage x3
Ancient Mathom x3
Nenya x2
Light of Valinor x1
Sting x1
Mithril Shirt x1

Events (12):
A Test of Will x3
Daeron’s Runes x3
Deep Knowledge x3
Hasty Stroke x2
Brace of Coneys x1

Side-quests (1):
Gather Information x1

Thoughts: This deck’s contribution to dealing with Shelob is the two boons for Frodo of course (which hopefully I can find with Masters of the Forge) and all the readying, so those are my obvious priorities. Beyond that, this deck has willpower and a bunch of card draw to try and find the important cards and keep both decks stocked with cards to lessen the pain of random discards. Unusually, my only healing is Lembas – there’s no direct damage in this quest, only attacks, so Lembas should be enough, and it also provides a little bit more readying (and can be fetched by Master of the Forge). The Hasty Strokes should be unnecessary given the Staffs of Lebethron, but having a bit of a backup is generally a good idea with something this significant.
In terms of the unique characters, Elrond of course has been around already but he’ll probably be staying an ally; I wouldn’t mind a Gildor hero and it’d fit the story since I used him first as a boon and have then kept him as an ally, but I’ve no reason to think a Gildor hero is coming; and Dori is more another backup defensive option for dealing with Shelob, but it does give me the option of using the hero if I want, and maybe I might find a reason to.


Shelob’s Lair
Shelob’s Lair Take 2

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