Preparing for War

‘All are weary, and very many have wounds light or grievous,’ said Éomer, ‘and we have suffered much loss of our horses, and that is ill to bear. If we must ride soon, then I cannot hope to lead even two thousands, and yet leave as many for the defence of the City.’

‘We have not only to reckon with those who fought on this field,’ said Aragorn. ‘New strength is on the way from the southern fiefs, now that the coasts have been rid. Four thousands I sent marching from Pelargir through Lossarnach two days ago; and Angbor the fearless rides before them. If we set out in two days more, they will draw nigh ere we depart. Moreover many were bidden to follow me up the River in any craft they could gather; and with this wind they will soon be at hand, indeed several ships have already come to the Harlond. I judge that we could lead out seven thousands of horse and foot, and yet leave the City in better defence than it was when the assault began.’

‘The Gate is destroyed,’ said Imrahil, ‘and where now is the skill to rebuild it and set it up anew?’

‘In Erebor in the Kingdom of Dáin there is such skill,’ said Aragorn; ‘and if all our hopes do not perish, then in time I will send Gimli Glóin’s son to ask for wrights of the Mountain. But men are better than gates, and no gate will endure against our Enemy if men desert it.’

The Return of the King, Book 5, Chapter 9

***

This scenario is the continuation of The Return of the King (though you can play it on its own), and a further development of the official scenario Fire on Amon Dîn. Aragorn has returned to Gondor to become the new King. Now he has to seek support from neighbouring kingdoms and other Dunedain to fight with him against Sauron.

In this scenario you have to gather Factions of Dunedan and Men in the regions around Anórien. The game is won when you have gained Factions totalling 12 Marshalling Points before your Resource Deck runs out. When Aragorn or Gandalf are discarded, or your Resource Deck runs out before you gain 12 MP of Factions, you automatically lose the game.

There are a few special rules in this scenario:

  1. Your starting company can only contain Characters whose home site is Minas Tirith.
  2. Any other Character can only be brought into play at his or her own home site, unless a card (like A Chance Meeting) allows you to do otherwise. Gandalf can only be brought into play at either Minas Tirith or Edhellond.
  3. Minas Tirith is a Haven in this scenario, but also remains a Free-hold. Cards that can be played either at a Haven or at a Free-hold can be played at Minas Tirith.
  4. Cards that increase the MP value of Factions (like Sentinels of Numenor) can not be used in this scenario.
  5. I have used Agents in this scenario (see the rules for those below), but this scenario plays equally well without them (though it will be a little easier, since no one actively tries to thwart your influencing attempts).

There are a few things that make this scenario challenging. Because you can only bring in Characters at their home site, you will have to travel a lot to increase the size of your company, and you might also have to choose between bringing in a Faction (which taps the site, and thus causes it to be discarded when you leave) or waiting to do so until you can bring a Character into play at that site—in other words, do you try to gain the Riders of Rohan now, or do you want to wait until you have brought Théoden into play?

Secondly, Aragorn is part of your starting company, and needs to remain in play. Since he has a mind of 9, and a direct influence of (only) 3 you will struggle with bringing into play enough other Characters with a reasonable prowess and body, until Gandalf is in play.  Therefore, make sure you include resources that can increase the direct influence of Characters (a ring like Magic Ring of Words is good to include, since you can use Gandalf’s special ability to test any ring, but be aware that you can play a gold ring at only one location, Isengard).

Location Deck

This scenario takes place in the lands of the Dúnedan and Men, in the vicinity of Minas Tirith, which is your starting location, and which is a haven in this scenario. Your aim is to recruit as many Factions as possible to come to your aid in the inevitable battle that you will fight against Sauron’s hordes.

edorasgobelmirlondvaleoferech

You have to look for support in the following regions: Gap of Isen, Rohan, Anórien, Ithilien, Harandor, Khand, Lebennin, Mouth of the Anduin, Belfalas, Lamedon, and Anfalas. This corresponds to the following locations (listed alphabetically): Amon Hen, Dol Amroth, Drúadan Forest, Dunharrow, Edhellond, Edoras, Glittering Caves, Gobel Mírlond, Haudh-in-Gwanûr, Henneth Annûn, Isengard, Lond Galen, Minas Tirith, Pelargir, Tolfalas, Vale of Erech, and Variag Camp.

Note that the only Haven included is Edhellond, but that Minas Tirith will function as the second Haven. You can not travel to locations beyond these 17 in this scenario.

Company

Your starting company can consist only of Characters whose home site is Minas Tirith, and must include Aragorn II. Denethor II can not be used in this scenario. This leaves you very little choice for your starting company. For this scenario I used Aragorn (with Cram), controlling Bergil (with Dagger of Westernesse), and Boromir, controlling Forlong.

The other characters must all have one of the 17 locations that are used in this scenario. This means you will have mostly Dúnedan and Men, though you could include a few Elves whose home site is Edhellond (I have not done so, for thematic reasons—this is the war of Men against Sauron).

imrahil eomer anborn

Be aware that you will not have a lot of free general influence, as noted above, and that your Hazard Deck will take advantage of that (as noted below). In other words, do not include too many Characters with a high mind value, as you might not be able to play them. You might also not want to include too many Characters with the same home site. If you have Theoden, Erkenbrand, Éomer, Éowyn, Gamling the Old, and Háma (all of whom have Edoras as their home site), you will have real difficulty bringing them into play. Once you have played an Item, Faction, or Ally at a site, the site will be tapped, and then discarded when you leave, which means you won’t be able to return to it and bring a Character into play at that site.

Gandalf is the Wizard for this scenario.

Resource Deck

menofanfalas menoflebennin knightsofdolamroth

The most important part of your Resource Deck will naturally be Factions that can be played at the locations in your Location Deck. These are all the Dúnedan Factions (like Knights of Dol Amroth, Men of Lamedon, and Men of Anfalas), as well as a few Men Factions (like Riders of Rohan and Variags of Khand) and one Wose Faction (Woses of the Drúadan Forest). I have included 20 MP worth of Factions

If you have Paths of the Dead and Army of the Dead (sadly, I don’t!) be sure to include them. With the former Aragorn can travel from Dunharrow to Vale of Erech, where he can then automatically obtain the faction Army of the Dead, worth 6 MP! You can also include the factions Variags of Khand (playable at Variag Camp), and Haradrim (playable at Southron Oasis)—they both are worth 4 MP, though the former forces you to travel a fair way (and has you draw 10 hazard cards!), and the latter isn’t very friendly to Dúnedan.

pathsofthedeadarmyofthedeadharadrim

There are plenty of resources you can use to aid you in influencing Factions: A Friend or Three, Lordly Presence, Persuasive Words, Tempering Friendship, Old Friendship and New Friendship are an obvious choice for the Resource Deck . Horns, Horns, Horns is good to regain discarded Factions (and also very appropriate thematically). Given the restrictions in playing Characters in this scenario, A Chance Meeting will be useful to bring in Characters at sites other than their home site.

Muster may also seem like an obvious choice, as it allows a Warrior to bring a Faction into play without a roll, but I suggest you include a maximum of 1 such card into your deck, to keep the game somewhat challenging. Note too that if you use Agents (see below), you will be severely restricted in using Muster. (The text/effect of this card was changed after it was printed; see the first comment to this post, below. If you use the changed text, the limitations on the use of Muster do not apply.)

hornshornshorns newfriendship oldfriendship

Since your companies will be travelling mostly through Border-lands and Free-domains, and since many of the sites are Free-holds or Border-holds, Houses of Healing (which allows you to heal at a Free-hold), Fair Travels in Border-lands, Fair Travels in Free-Domains, and Noble Hound (playable at a tapped Border-hold) will come in handy.

housesofhealingfairtravelsinborderlandsnoblehound

There are very few sites that allow you to play items in this region. You can get minor items at Amon Hen, Glittering Caves, Gobel Mírlond, Haudh-in-Gwanûr, Isengard, and Tolfalas, and major items at all of these except Amon Hen (where you can also play Information). Tolfalas also lets you play Greater Items, and Isengard gold rings. The seven other sites only let you play Factions (or, in a few cases, a special item). In other words, at less than half of the sites in your Location Deck will you be able to find items. Keep that in mind when you build your Resource Deck. Of course, you can play minor items when you successfully influence a faction, so it is wise to include a sufficient number of those.

Hazard Deck

Your companies will travel through areas that are mostly well inhabited—mostly Free-domains and Border-lands, with only a few Wilderness regions. Most of the sites are either Free-holds or Border-holds; there are only a few Ruins & Lairs sites in this scenario. The hazards you include should therefore be playable in these regions.

lawlessmensellswordsbetweenchartersstoutmenofgondor

Since this is the realm of men, and since the aim of this scenario is to convince several factions of men to join Gondor’s cause, it makes sense to mostly include men hazards, like Brigands, Ambusher, Abductor, Lawless Men, Stout Men of Gondor, Sellswords Between Charters, Horse Lords, or Corsairs of Umbar (which can be played to almost the entire region in which you will be travelling). Since you are caught between the Orc armies of Isengard and Mordor, you should include some Orc hazards as well, many of which are playable at both Wilderness and Border-lands regions. Be sure to include some hazard creatures that can be played to Wilderness regions too. Wargs and Wolves are both excellent for this deck, since they can also be keyed to Border-lands.

For non-creature Hazards, you again have a lot to choose from. Rank upon Rank works really well with this campaign, as it affects Man hazards. Lost in Border-lands is a second obvious choice, and Siege is a great hazard to keep a company held up in a Border-hold or Free-hold, including Minas Tirith. Wake of War increases the strikes and prowess of Wolves, and can make Wolves attacks quite lethal. Wolf-Riders is a hazard that can be played either after any Orc attack, as a creature hazard with 3 strikes of 8 prowess, or as a short event which increases the prowess and strikes of Wolves, and is therefore ideal to include.

siege lostinborderlands rankuponrank

Since the aim of this scenario is to influence Factions, you should include hazards that make this more difficult: Muster Disperses is the obvious one, but Gnaw With Words can tap a diplomat (who can play many of the Resource cards that help you gain Factions), and Stormcrow is not just wonderfully thematic, but also very effective in this scenario. Stormcrow gives your Wizard less direct influence, which means you will have less free general influence, which makes you more vulnerable to Muster Disperses.

stormcrow musterdisperses gnawwithwords

For Hazards affecting your company, I’ve found Call of Home particularly good, especially in combination with Stormcrow, since you’ll have to travel again to the home site of the Character to bring him or her back into play—which you may not be able to do if that site has been discarded! Because your company will consist mostly of Men and Dunedain, Night is also very effective.

Agents

This is the first scenario in which I’ve tried to integrate Agents, a card type that was introduced in Dark Minions. As the rules for that set explained, “an agent is a hazard that represents an individual that has been sent on a covert mission by the Dark-lord or one of his Dark Lieutenants”. The rules for playing minions are complex, and it took me a lot of trial an error to integrate them into a solo game of Middle-Earth without overcomplicating the game play, but I outline below the rather simple way I have used Agents.

I’ve used Agents to complicate the influencing of Factions. For that end I’ve only used Agents whose home site is one of the locations in the Location Deck, and who have an advantage to influencing Factions that are included in the Resource Deck for this scenario (i.e. who gain extra direct influence against any of those Factions). There are four such agents in Dark Minions: Pôn-Ora-Pôn & Ôm-Buri-Ôm (who both gain +2 against Wose Factions), Wormtongue (who gains a +4 against the Riders of Rohan and any Character whose home site is Edoras), and Súrion & Firiel (who both gain +2 to all Dúnedan Factions). I included only 3 of these: Ôm-Buri-Ôm, Wormtongue, and Firiel. I do not advise to add more than 3, nor to use Agents who gain advantage over the same Factions.

firiel wormtongue omburiom

Agents are mixed into your Hazard Deck. Whenever you draw an Agent card during your Movement & Hazard Phase, you have to play it immediately: place the Agent on the Location card that corresponds to the first home site listed (which may be a Location you have already discarded). Agents will remain in play until they are killed. The following rules apply to them:

Influencing Factions

Whenever you draw a Faction that they have an advantage over, and the Agent is untapped, you must make an influence attempt for them, to see whether they are able to influence that faction. If they are successful, place that Faction card under them. If the Agent is unsuccessful, you can keep the Faction card in hand. If the Agent is tapped when you draw the Faction card, he can’t attempt to influence it. An influence attempt taps the Agent. The Agent untaps during your Untap Phase.

An Agent can influence a Faction following the normal rules (explained in Section 9, “Influence” of the standard rule book, pp. 58-60. This is, in brief, how it is done:

When you have a Faction in hand that the Agent has an advantage over, you immediately have to see whether the Agent has influence over that Faction. To do so, you make 2 rolls (of two 6-sided dice each): one for you, one for the Agent.

For the Agent’s Influence attempt to be successful, the following needs to be the case:

The Agent’s dice roll, plus his or her direct influence, plus any standard modifiers (see below), minus your unused general influence, minus your dice roll, should be greater than the number the Faction needs to be brought into play (as mentioned on the Faction card).

If an Agent is attempting to influence a Faction that is based at one of their home sites, the Agent gains an additional +2 and the value that is required to bring the Faction into play is 0. (This is a standard Dark Minions rule, by the way.)

You do not get any modifications to your roll, nor can you play Resources to increase your influence when an Agent attempts to influence a Faction you have just drawn.

For example: I have Firiel in play, and she is untapped (i.e. she has not made an influence attempt this turn, or has not engaged in combat this turn; see below for more on that). She has a direct influence of 3, and gains +2 for any Dúnedan Faction. I have an unused general influence of 4. So, when I draw Knights of Dol Amroth, a Dúnedan Faction playable at Dol Amroth, I immediately have to see whether that Faction is already influenced by Firiel. Knights of Dol Amroth require an 8 to be playable, but give +1 to a Dúnedain character. I roll a 5 for Firiel, and an 8 for my company. Firiel’s direct influence is 3, and she has an advantage of 3 (+1 from Knights of Dol Amroth, since she is a Dúnedain, and +2 from herself). With her roll of 5, she has 11 in total, which is not enough to bring this Faction under her influence, since 11 – 4 (my unused general influence) – 8 (my roll) is less than 8, the number she requires to bring that Faction into play. However, if I had drawn Men of Lebennin, a Faction playable at Pelargir, one of Firiel’s home sites, she would have been successful, since she would have had a +2 advantage (for a Faction of her home site), and since she would have needed only any number greater than 0 to bring the Faction into her control. I would have had to roll a 9 or higher to prevent her from doing so: 5 (her roll) + 3 (her direct influence) + 5 (her advantage: 2 being standard for all Dúnedan Factions, 1 for being a Dúnedain, 2 for having the same home site) = 13, and I would thus require at least a roll of 9 to match that: 9 + 4 (my unused general influence) 8 (my hypothetical roll) = 13.

If you have a Faction in hand before you draw the Agent, or the Agent is tapped when you draw the Faction, the Agent will not be able to influence the Faction, and you can keep the Faction in hand.

However, as long as the Agent is in play, you will have a penalty equal to the Agent’s advantage in trying to influence that Faction: so a Dúnedan Faction that Firiel has an advantage over would get a -3 (-2 for her extra direct influence, -1 for her being a Dunedain), or a -5 if the Faction is playable at one of her home sites. This is the case for as long as the Agent remains in play. You can not use Muster to influence a Faction if an Agent who can influence that Faction is in play.

Characters

As long as the Agent is in play, you can also not recruit any Characters or Allies at the home site where that Agent currently resides (Items can be played as usual, following the normal rules).

Agent vs. Company Combat and Influence Attempts

You can encounter an Agent at any of his or her home sites, and when you do you have to engage in combat with them, otherwise the Agent will engage in combat with the weakest Character of your company or attempt to influence a Character in that company who has the same home site as the Agent. If there are more than one Character with that home site in the company, the weakest is targeted first.

To Attack: make 2 rolls (of two 6-sided dice each), one for the attacker, one for the defender. Both the Agent and your Character have only 1 strike, irrespective of who attacks. If the defender’s roll plus his prowess is greater than the attacker’s roll plus his or her prowess (with any modifications, see below) the strike fails; if it is equal, the strike is ineffectual; if it is less, the strike was successful, and the defender must make a body check to determine whether he is wounded or killed.

Both attacking and defending requires you to tap. A Character and Agent can defend when tapped, but can not attack when tapped. (The Agent untaps during your Untap Phase.)

The standard modifications apply to the prowess of the attacker and defender: -2 if the Agent or Character who attacks is wounded, -3 if the Character does not untap (Agents will always tap in this scenario), -1 if the defender is tapped.

If the Agent attacks while at his home site, he gains a +2 to his prowess.

You can use Resource cards in combat with an Agent, and any (Short, Long, or Permanent) Events that are in play should also be taken into consideration (though no modifications are ever made to an Agent’s number of strikes).

An Agent and Character can only attack each other once in a turn, during the Site Phase, but more than one Character can attack the same Agent during a single turn.

When an Agent is killed in combat, he is removed from the game. All Faction cards he controlled at that point are shuffled back into your Resource Deck.

To influence a Character: Tap the Agent to make an influence attempt on a Character who has the same home site as theirs. This influence attempt is similar to that of gaining a Faction: you make 2 dice rolls, one for the Agent, one for the Character. An Agent always gains +2 direct influence when attempting to influence a Character from any of his home sites even if he is present at a different site when attempting to do so, and +5 when he is at the Character’s actual home site. For example, Firiel gains +2 when she is in Vale of Erech and tries to influence a Character whose home site is Pelargir (her other home site), but if she were in Pelargir when trying to do so she would gain +5.

If the Agent’s dice roll, plus his or her direct influence (increased by 2 or 5, as mentioned above), minus your unused general influence, minus your dice roll, is greater than the mind attribute of the target Character, the influence attempt is successful.

When the Agent’s influence attempt is successful, the Character is discarded, along with every item or ally that character controlled. Otherwise, nothing happens (but the Agent remains tapped until the next Untap Phase).

Note that Wormtongue has +4 advantage when he attempts to influence any Character whose home site is Edoras!

Movement

Agents will normally remain at the first listed home site, but will move when attacked.

When an Agent is attacked, he will always move to the next home site listed during the Untap Phase, provided none of your Characters are present there. If you have a company at all their home sites, they will move to any other free site in the same region, or (if there are none) to any free site in an adjacent region. If he has to move to a site that is not a home site for him, he will always move to a site that has already been discarded, if there is any (which means that you will not be able to reach that Agent while he is at that site!).

Mark the Agent’s current location by placing him on top of the appropriate location card.

If an Agent resides at any location other than his home site, he will move back to his nearest home site at the end of your Site Phase, as soon as any of his home sites is unoccupied by one of your companies.

Note that if you use Pôn-Ora-Pôn or Ôm-Buri-Ôm, they have only one home site for this scenario (Drúadan Forest), since the others locations that are listed as their home sites are not used in this scenario.

Note too that if an Agent moves to a Location you had already discarded, you will not be able to return to that Location. Whenever this occurred, I placed the Agent on the (180°) rotated Location card to indicate this.

Untapping and Healing Agents

Agents untap during your Untap Phase, unless they moved to a new location that turn. During the the Untap Phase, a wounded Agent will always heal (to tapped).

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2 thoughts on “Preparing for War

  1. As someone kindly pointed out to me (here) the text for Muster was changed by ICE. The erratum for this card reads:

    Replace entire text with: “Warrior only. An influence check against a faction by a warrior is modified by adding the warrior’s prowess to a maximum modifier of +5.”

    (You can find card errata here.)

    You could argue that this makes redundant the rule that disallows Muster when an Agent is in play, though I would suggest you still limit its use in this scenario.

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