The Coasts of Middle-Earth

‘Look!’ he [Legolas] cried. ‘Gulls! They are flying far inland. A wonder they are to me and a trouble to my heart. Never in all my life had I met them, until we came to Pelargir, and there I heard them crying in the air as we rode to the battle of the ships. Then I stood still, forgetting war in Middle-Earth; for their wailing voices spoke to me of the Sea. The Sea! Alas! I have not yet beheld it. But deep in the hearts of all my kindred lies the sea-longing, which it is perilous to stir. Alas! for the gulls. No peace shall I have again under beech or under elm.’

The Return of the King, Book 5, Chapter 9

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This scenario explores the coastal regions of Middle-Earth. The sea plays an important role in Tolkien’s world, but is perhaps not used so often by players of Middle-Earth, though there are plenty of cards that lend itself to develop such a richly thematic deck.

In this scenario, you try to control sites along the western coast of Middle-Earth. The aim is to control at least 6 of the 10 coastal sites, and to acquire at least 25 MP before your Resource Deck runs out.

To control a site, you need to either defeat the automatic attack (if the site has one), or to acquire a faction at the location (if the site has one). To make it easy to keep track of how many sites you have controlled, discard controlled sites into a special discard pile.

Note that you do not just need to face an automatic attack—the automatic attack of a site needs to be defeated per the normal rules of combat. (For the automatic attack at Isle of the Ulond—the home of the dragon Eärcaraxë—you will need to defeat either the hazard Eärcaraxë, Eärcaraxë At Home or Eärcaraxë Ahunt, as in the standard rules of The Dragons). If you fail to control a site with an automatic attack—i.e. you did not defeat the automatic attack—you can try again at a later turn (provided the site is not tapped and thus discarded when you move), but the automatic attack gains 1 extra strike.

earcaraxeearcaraxeahuntearcaraxeathome

These are the coastal sites (from north to south): Lossadan Cairn, Himring, Isles of the Dead that Live, Ruined Signal Tower, The Stones, Isle of the Ulond, Lond Galen, Dol Amroth, Tolfalas, and Pelargir. You only use two Havens: Grey Havens and Edhellond. Your company starts at Grey Havens.

promomap

The starting company must contain Círdan. All other characters must have a coastal site as their home site. As Wizard you can either use Pallando or Alatar. I used Alatar, partly for his powerful special abilities, partly because he stands on a ship!

alatar

My starting company consists of Círdan, Annalena (with Healing Herbs), and Arinmîr (with Star-glass).

cirdanannalenaarinmir

The other characters included in my Resource Deck are the remaining characters that have a coastal home site: Adrazar, Anborn, Galor, Imrahil, Mablung, and Vôteli. These are not very powerful characters, so you will want to make sure you have enough weapons and armour in your Resource Deck to strengthen them, and a few event cards that will allow you to avoid attacks.

The creature hazards in your Hazard Deck should be playable at Coastal regions, with a few additional ones that can be played in Wilderness regions, and some that can be played at Ruins & Lairs sites and Free-holds. Corsairs of Umbar is a must (I suggest you include at least 2 of them). Middle-Earth: The Dragons has several dragons and drakes that can be played in coastal regions (like Sea Serpent, Marsh Drake, and Rain-drake). I suggest you also include Eärcaraxë Ahunt from that same expansion. Note that you can travel overland from Edhellond to the Stones, Ruined Signal Tower, or Pelargir, and also from Grey Havens to Lossadan Cairn, so make sure you include enough creature hazards for those paths as well. If you use creature hazards that can be played both to those regions and to Ruins & Lairs (like many Orcs), you can use them both for overland journeys as for hazards encountered at some of the islands (which are all Ruins & Lairs sites).

fellturtleseaserpentcorsairsofumbar

Your hazard deck should also contain other hazards that affect coastal regions, like Storms of Ossë, Lost at Sea, and Drowning Seas, or Winds of Wrath.

nooseoftheseadrowningseaslostatsea

For corruption cards that are thematic, you can include The Burden of Time and Lure of the Senses (I imagine it is tempting to stay in the comfort of a Haven after a long sea voyage!). You might also want to include cards that affect Undead hazards, like Plague of Wights, since several of the coastal sites have Undead automatic attacks. Call of the Sea is also an apt card for this deck, especially since you’ll play mostly with Elves.

theburdenoftimeplagueofwightscallofthesea

Your resource deck should contain enough items and factions playable at the coastal sites. You’ll be able to play minor items at 7 sites (as well as at sites where you gained factions), major items at 7 sites, a gold ring at 1 site, and greater items at 3 sites (though 1 of these, Lossadan Cairn, only allows you play a Palantír as a greater item). There are no sites that allow you to play information resources.

lossadancairnislesofthedeadthatlivetolfalas

You can use factions for Dol Amroth (Knights of Dol Amroth), Pelargir (Men of Lebennin), Lond Galen (Men of Anfalas), and Grey Havens (Elves of Lindon).

knightsofdolamroth  menoflebenninmenofanfalas

Other thematic resources that can be included are Star of High Hope, Great Ship, Fair Sailing, or Favor of the Valar.

fairsailinggreatshipstarofhighhope

Since you will encounter a fair amount of Undead, resources that give your company advantages over Undead (like Stars) are good to include. Your company will consist of Elves and Dunedain, so resources that favour them (like Sun, The Evenstar, or the above mentioned Star of High Hope) will be most useful. Many of the coastal creature hazards are very powerful, so include also resources (Events and Items) that will help you in combat.

Resources playable at sites that are thematic include the following: Nenseldë The Wingild, an Ally playable at Dol Amroth who allows you to recover resource events from your discard pile. She has to be discarded when you move out of Belfalas, the Bay of Belfalas, Anfalas, or Mouths of the Anduin, but keep her company in the south (Edhellond, Lond Galen, Dol Amroth, and Tolfalas) for as long as you want to retain her. Emerald of the Mariner, a jewel of Eärendil the Mariner, gives you a +1 advantage to corruption checks, and allows you to keep one extra card in hand (a great combination with Círdan’s special ability). It is a Greater Hoard Item, which means it cannot be played in this scenario, but I’ve made it playable to Isle of the Ulond, as a Major Hoard Item. Since you will be encountering a lot of Undead, Star-glass is a natural choice as well.

nenseldethewingildemeraldofthemarinerstarglass

I’ve found this to be a thoroughly enjoyable deck, because of its rich theme. But it is also a challenging deck! I’ve played it about half a dozen times so far, but have won only once, though I’ve come close to winning a few times.

4 thoughts on “The Coasts of Middle-Earth

  1. I’ve finally gotten a chance to try this scenario, but I’ve had incredible difficulty in even coming close to meeting the victory conditions. Is it a personal restriction of yours to have a starting company with only 15 mind? I attempted two games with your suggested trio and got absolutely blasted by enemies no matter where I tried to go. It was very rare to make it to a site without one or more characters being wounded, and most sites have an automatic attack with at least 2 strikes, meaning my company almost never had a chance to play an item. The 25 MP requirement also seems quite steep – that’s basically every character, every faction, and 5 more MP besides (at least 2 major/greater items, and more likely 3).

    Also, what’s the reason you don’t include Lossadan Camp or any sites in Harondor in your site list? I assume the first is a mistake, because you mention playing Voteli, but isn’t Harandor also on the coast? Forochel seems like a stretch too (to me, it seems a good criteria would be “reachable with the card Belegaer”), and it seems a little inconsistent to allow Voteli and Lossadan Cairn but not Lossoth.

    Note that I don’t mean to be critical in the above paragraphs; it’s more curiosity into your thoughts and rationale for designing things the way you did. I’m definitely going to keep trying this one, because I love the theme and it’s one of the first ones that caught my eye on this site. And besides, if its not hard to win, what’s the point?

  2. Thank you for the comments. I’m always glad to hear of someone playing these scenarios!

    This was the very first scenario I created, and one that I’ve been meaning to revisit. Your comments will certainly be useful for that, when I get around to it.

    To answer your questions:

    The sites I included in the scenario are those that looked like they were on the coast in the Middle-earth map. The sites in Harrandor are much further inland, and so were not included. I realised only after I had published this scenario that Lossadan Camp should have been included on that basis, since Tolkien said that “they often camp on the south shores of the bay at the feet of the Mountains”. When I revise the scenario, I’ll include Lossadan Camp as one of the sites.

    I’ve played this scenario very often, though not recently, and did win enough times to think that this scenario was winnable. I played it that killed hazard creatures with MP values counted towards the 25 MP. I did not find it too challenging either to start with a starting company of just 15 mind (after I published this I often chose Cirdan, Annalena, and Anborn–representing an alliance between the Elves of Lindon and the South with the Dunedain). In the standard 2-player game you can start with a company of 20 mind, but you have the difficulty that some of the characters you may want to start with can be chosen by your opponent, which is a challenge you do not have in the solo game. In most of my other scenarios I’ve played with a similar limitation, and have never found this too difficult, since this means you have smaller companies, and smaller companies have a lower hazard limit. (In 2-player games you often want to travel with larger companies, since your opponent will likely not be able to play hazards equal to the hazard limit, but in these solo games, you will often reach the hazard limit no matter the size of the company.)

    But the difficulty of the scenario does also very strongly depend on the difficulty of your resource and hazard deck. For most of my scenarios it often takes a few games to figure out how I should optimise my decks.

    1. Thanks for the explanation. That’s a good point about MP from hazard creatures; I’ve played a number of scenarios with non-MP win conditions, so I just discarded killed creatures without thinking and cycled them back in once the hazard deck was exhausted. I think with that change, it’ll be much more winnable.

      What’s your personal ruling for when a wizard dies? In the standard game, it’s in instant loss, because the objective is proving you’re the best wizard of the five, and the wizard actually represents you as a player. But here, with different goals, I’ve just played on even if Alatar is killed. Is that what you do, or is that considered a game ender?

  3. I generally discard defeated hazard creatures as well (since the MP you gain from them does not matter in most scenarios), but not in this one. I should have clarified that, but as I said, this was the first scenario I created… 🙂 Sorry about the confusion. I do generally remove defeated unique creatures from the game, since that makes thematic sense.

    I also did not specify this here, but I do generally consider it a loss when the Wizard is killed or corrupted (though many of my scenarios do not use Wizards). But feel free, of course, to play otherwise!

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