‘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
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.
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.
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!
My starting company consists of Círdan, Annalena (with Healing Herbs), and Arinmîr (with Star-glass).
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).
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.
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.
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.
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).
Other thematic resources that can be included are Star of High Hope, Great Ship, Fair Sailing, or Favor of the Valar.
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.
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.