Friend of All Beasts and Birds

“Then you must go now,” said Radagast; “for I have wasted time in looking for you, and the days are running short. I was told to find you before Midsummer, and that is now here. Even if you set out from this spot, you will hardly reach him [Saruman] before the Nine discover the land that they seek. I myself shall turn back at once.” And with that he mounted and would have ridden straight off.
 
“Stay a moment!” I [Gandalf] said. “We shall need your help, and the help of all things that will give it. Send out messages to all the beasts and birds that are your friends. Tell them to bring news of anything that bears on this matter to Saruman and Gandalf. Let messages be sent to Orthanc.”
 
“I will do that,” he said, and rode off as if the Nine were after him.

The Fellowship of the Ring, Book 2, Chapter 2

***

This scenario tells the story of Radagast the Brown after his meeting with Gandalf near Bree. While Gandalf rushes to Isengard to meet Saruman, Radagast travels back to Mirkwood, where he will attempt to do what Gandalf asked of him: gather information about Sauron and his Nazgûls from his friends, the birds and beasts of Mirkwood. With the information he has gathered, he will have to return to Rhosgobel on time, so that Elrond’s scouts are able to meet him there and he can tell them what he has found out (see The Fellowship of the Ring, Book 2, Chapter 3: “others had climbed the pass at the sources of the Gladden River, and had come down into Wilderland and over the Gladden Fields and so at length had reached the old home of Radagast at Rhosgobel. Radagast was not there“.).

The aim of this scenario is fourfold:

  1. To gather 10 MP of factions (detailed below) in and around Mirkwood.
  2. To gather knowledge about the enemy, by playing 2 Stolen Knowledge cards (at least 1 of which needs to be played at Dol Guldur) as well as 2 Dreams of Lore, and storing all of these at Rhosgobel.
  3. Visit all sites within Mirkwood (Thranduil’s Halls, Woodmen-town, Sarn Goriwing, Dol Guldur, Rhosgobel) at least once
  4. And, finally, once all this is accomplished, return to Rhosgobel, so that Radagast will be there when Rivendell’s scouts arrive.

If Radagast is corrupted or killed you automatically lose the game. You also lose if you are unable to accomplish these 4 objectives before your resource deck runs out.

This scenario deviates significantly from the standard rules in two areas: you will mostly play with allies instead of characters, and you will be able to use some stage resources, normally used for Fallen Wizards, even though Radagast is not considered a Fallen Wizard in this scenario.

The following special rules apply in this scenario:

Starting Company

The starting company consists of Radagast and two animal allies: Noble Steed and Noble Hound. Radagast can carry one non-unique minor item, and you begin the game with Pocketed Robes, a 1-point Radagast-specific stage resource (see below).

General and Direct Influence

There is no general influence in this scenario. You can have no other company than Radagast’s. The only influence is Radagasts’ direct influence (of 10). Allies are controlled by Radagast’s direct influence as if they were characters. Thus, at the beginning of the game, Radagast has 8 unused direct influence (since Noble Hound and Noble Steed have a mind of 1 each).

Characters

For a somewhat easier game, you have the option to include one other character besides Radagast in your Resource Deck: Beorn. When you draw him, you will have to bring him into play at the End-of-Turn Phase of the turn that you drew him, at whatever site you are, or you will have to discard him. Once Beorn is in play, you can discard him at any time, during the End-of-Turn Phase (any items he might have are not transferable and will be discarded with him). Radagast does not seek the company of others, but when he encounters Beorn during his travels, Beorn offers to work with him, an offer Radagast is free to accept or decline.

Note that Radagast will have to control Beorn with direct influence. If you do not have 7 unused direct influence when you draw Beorn because you control too many allies you will have to either discard Beorn or discard one or more allies. If you do not have enough unused direct influence because of a Shapeshifter stage resource (see below) you will have to discard Beorn (since you can only return the Shapeshifter card to your hand during the Organisation Phase). Once Beorn is discarded, you will not be able to play him again for the remainder of the game.

Each ally counts as 1 character when determining the hazard limit. Thus, in the beginning of the scenario, when Radagast travels with 2 Allies, the hazard limit against his company is 3.

Stage Resources

The White Hand introduced stage resources, which are special resources for Fallen Wizards. Each Fallen Wizard has unique stage resources. In this scenario, you will be able to use stage resources that are specific to Radagast (and only those that are specific to Radagast), but Radagast is not considered a Fallen Wizard, and none of the special Fallen Wizard rules apply. For all purposes Radagast is considered a Wizard, not a Fallen Wizard. (Unlike the stage resources for the other Wizards, none of Radagast’s stage resources necessarily imply Radagast is corrupted—Gandalf refers to him as “a worthy Wizard, a master of shapes and changes of hue”, at a time when he was not corrupted.)

You can include up to 5 Radagast-specific stage resources in your deck (including Pocketed Robes, with which you start the game). There are 8 Radagast specific Fallen Wizard resources in The White Hand. Most of these either make it easier to play allies (like Glove of Radagast or Friend of Secret Things), or allow Radagast to shapeshift (into a wild animal, a tree, or a bird—see Master of Shapes, Shifter of Hues, and Winged Change-Master). Pocketed Robes, with which you start, allows you to recycle Wizard’s River-horses as well as Herb-lore, while Radagast’s Black Bird gives you an extra ally (with a mind of 2—the card has a misprint), and helps you in influencing factions, which can be handy when Beorn is in play. Note that you cannot use Girdle of Radagast in this scenario, since you won’t be able to reach 12 stage points, and Shifter of Hues is not very useful in this scenario, since you only have 1 company.

The effects of the stage resources apply as normal, with one important exception: Radagast does not gain any general influence when he shapeshifts, but his direct influence is reduced, as indicated on each card, and he therefore might have to discard allies (or Beorn) when he shapeshifts. If a stage resource is only playable at a Wizardhaven (like Radagast’s Black Bird) the card can only be played at Rhosgobel.

The stage points of these stage resources are not ignored: for each stage point, Radagast gains 0.5 corruption point (rounded down). Thus, if you have Pocketed Robes (1 point), Radagast’s Black Bird (2 points), and Glove of Radagast (2 points) in play, Radagast will have 2 corruption points. Note that some of these stage resources themselves also give corruption points or penalties for corruption checks. In other words, though these stage resources will make Radagast considerably more powerful, they also make him more susceptible to corruption. Apart from the shapeshifter cards, once a stage resource is in play, it cannot be removed, so use them carefully!

Factions

As Gandalf comments: “Radagast is, of course, a worthy Wizard, a master of shapes and changes of hue; and he has much lore of herbs and beasts, and birds are especially his friends.” (The Fellowship of the Ring, Book 2, Chapter 2) The factions you will have to gain in this scenario are mostly animal factions. There are three such animal factions that can be played in Mirkwood and its surrounding areas: Beasts of the Wood, A Panoply of Wings, and Wild Hounds. Note that these are not unique factions. You can include more than one of these in your deck, and, unlike most factions, once you have successfully influenced them, you can also discard them for certain effects. A Panoply of Wings could be particularly helpful, since you can discard it to make Information playable at the current site (which in turn can allow you to play a Dreams of Lore card).

Apart from the above pictured Animal Factions playable at sites in Mirkwood, the only other factions that can be used in this scenario are Ents of Fangorn, Beornings, and The Great Eagles. Only animal or Ent allies may be used, and all allies need to be playable east of the Misty Mountains.

Sites

Bree is the starting location. Rhosgobel is never tapped or discarded, and is the only Haven in this scenario. Cards that can be stored at a haven can be stored at Rhosgobel.

Movement

From Bree, Radagast has to keep travelling east until he reaches Rhosgobel (at which point he can move in any direction). Since he is in haste, his first stop cannot be nearby in Rhudaur, which means that his first stop can only be Ost-in-Edhil, Goblin Gate, Moria, or Dimrill Dale. Once Radagast has reached Rhosgobel, he may travel in any direction, but he may not cross the Misty Mountains again.

In order to win, Radagast needs to visit each site in Mirkwood at least once.

Stolen Knowledge and Dreams of Lore

All Stolen Knowledge resources need to be stored in Rhosgobel. One of the Stolen Knowledge resources needs to be played at Dol Guldur. There are very few Stolen Knowledge resources, but you can use Knowledge of the Enemy and Dark Numbers, which are easy enough to play. For a more difficult scenario, you can also use Pass The Doors of Dol Guldur, which can only be played at Dol Guldur after you discard a Stolen Knowledge resource and play Rescue Prisoners.

Each Dreams of Lore needs to be played by Radagast, and stored in Rhosgobel. (Ignore the fact that Radagast is not a sage, and can’t technically play this card—in this scenario, these cards represent additional information Radagast is able to gather at strategic sites.)

***

The main challenge in this scenario is that you have only 1 company, which is likely a small one. Unless you are able to bring Beorn into play, Radagast will be the only member of the company that can play nearly all resources at sites, but he is also your main warrior. But when you have Beorn in play, you will have difficulty gaining most Factions, since Radagast will have very little unused direct influence he can use to influence them. Beorn will thus be a very mixed blessing, and you might want to discard him at some point in order to focus on influencing Factions.

The other challenge is corruption. The stage resources can add considerable corruption, and a few Lures of Nature can be very effective in this scenario, since Radagast will travel through a lot of Wilderness.

Locations

Radagast met Gandalf just outside Bree, and Bree is thus starting location. But most of the scenario takes place in Mirkwood and Anduin Vales, as well as a few surrounding regions (like Fangorn).

Since you will have to visit all Mirkwood sites at least once, you need to include Thranduil’s Halls, Woodmen-town, Sarn Goriwing, Dol Guldur, and Rhosgobel. You’ll also have to include the sites at which you will have to influence Factions: Beorn’s House, Eagles’ Eyrie, and Wellinghall. Several of the Animal Factions require specific kind of sites. The most difficult of these is Wild Hounds, which needs a Ruins & Lairs in a Wilderness. There are none in Mirkwood, but you can travel to Hermit’s Hill or Dimrill Dale to gain this Faction.

Dreams of Lore require sites at which Information is playable. There are 2 such sites nearby: The Wind Throne and Dimrill Dale.

Rhosgobel is a Haven in this scenario. You cannot use any other Haven.

Resource Deck

Apart from achieving the above mentioned victory conditions, your resource deck should focus on two things: bringing in allies, and avoiding combat as far as possible.

Since you do not have any characters (apart from Beorn), you have to rely on Allies to assist Radagast. Unfortunately, you do not have all that many to choose from. At Eagles’ Eyrie you can obtain the support of Gwaihir, and a quick detour to Fangorn might give you Quickbeam as an Ally. (There are several other Ent allies you can acquire here—like Treebeard, Leaflock, and Skinbark—but, unlike Quickbeam, they will not be able to follow Radagast back to Mirkwood.) Roäc The Raven can be gained at any site in Northern Rhovanion (i.e. Lake-town, Dale, or The Lonely Mountain). Though he won’t help you much in combat (with a prowess of -3!), he could help you gain factions, especially when Radagast also controls Beorn and has little unused direct influence. It is a good idea to include a few Noble Hounds in your deck as well. They have a body of 6 and will have to face a strike in each attack, and so they will die quickly, but they will help you greatly in combat. Since they are not unique, you can use three of them (but note that Radagast already has 1 at the beginning of the game, which means you can include only 2 more in your deck), and with Glove of Radagast you will be able to play Noble Hounds from your discard pile!

Gwaihir and Quickbeam are both playable at sites at which you also have to gain factions, which means that at some point you might have to decide whether you want to gain the faction (both worth 3 MP) or the ally—not an easy decision! The stage resource Friend of Secret Things can help with this: if your company is small, you can play allies at tapped sites. You can also use Here, There, or Yonder, which lets you play allies at Ruins & Lairs. This is dependent on a roll, which is difficult for the more powerful allies (you’ll need to roll higher than a 7 for Gwaihir, and higher than 6 for Quickbeam), but it could come in handy too to play Noble Hound when you are not at a Border-hold if you already have one in play (since Glove of Radagast only allows you to play allies you do not have in play), or to play a second Noble Steed in any Mirkwood location.

Radagast is well at home in Mirkwood, and knows how to use nature to heal. Herb-Lore is essential and powerful: it fully heals all characters in Radagast’s company, and it can be acquired merely by travelling through Wilderness and even when Radagast is tapped. Moreover, with Pocketed Robes you can recycle it as often as you want! Healing Herb is a useful item too, while Washed and Refreshed—while not a healing card—will be helpful too: you can untap Radagast after he attempts to remove a corruption card during the organisation phase, so he is ready to face whatever danger awaits.

Since you will have very few characters, you’ll want to avoid combat as far as possible. Some of the animal factions and allies will help you with that, but you’ll also want to include other resources that cancel attacks, preferably without tapping Radagast—resources like Dark Quarrels, Trickery, or Many Turns and Doublings. Note that Radagast is both a scout and ranger, and Beorn is a ranger, so make good use of those skills.

To avoid companies, some spells are also useful. Wizard’s River-Horses is particularly good, since Radagast will be the only character in your company (unless you have Beorn in play), and you can recycle it easily with Pocketed Robes, the stage resource that you start with. Vanishment is also useful to cancel an attack. You can use Kindling of the Spirit to give your allies +2 prowess. Use all these spells with care, though: all of these force a corruption check modified by -2!

Do not include too many items in your deck—or possibly even any. You are severely limited: Radagast and Beorn are the only characters that can bear, use, or acquire items. It might be good to include a good weapon that significantly increases Radagast’s prowess—a major item like Glamdring is always a good choice, since it only gives 1 corruption point. In any case, be mindful that items give corruption points, and you’ll struggle hard to keep Radagast from getting corrupted as it is. Minor items you can discard (like Cram) are therefore a good idea. Since you can play rings at sites nearby (Goblin Gate, Gladden Fields, and Bandit’s Lair), you could include a gold ring, but I am not sure whether any benefits the ring might give will outweigh the added corruption points.

Hazard Deck

Whatever you decide to include in your hazard deck, keep in mind that not only will you only have a single company in this scenario, your company will also be very small indeed. Ensure that your hazard deck is balanced—if you include several Dragons and several Nazgûl, Radagast is likely not to survive very long! The hazard creatures should not exceed 50% of your hazard deck. I do encourage you to include challenging hazards—this should not be an easy scenario—but make sure Radagast does stand a chance!

There are several hazards specific to Mirkwood: Giant Spiders, Huorn, and Old Man Willow can all be played at any site in Mirkwood, though the latter are not too challenging—with only 1 strike.

Radagast will mostly be travelling through wilderness, so include plenty of wolf, spider, and animal creatures in your hazard deck. Since there are also a few Border-lands and Shadow-holds, and Dark-domains in this area, hazards that can be played at those regions as well Wilderness are ideal. Apart from the ones that are specific to Mirkwood, you can  include Wolves, Wargs, Dire Wolves, Lesser Spiders, and maybe a few drakes playable in wilderness regions (like Light Drake or Cave Drake).

Wake of War increases the strike and prowess of animal attacks. Spider of the Môrlat can be used a spider attack at Dol Guldur, but also as a Permanent Event that increases the strikes of spider attacks, and makes travel through Mirkwood, especially the area around Dol Guldur, more dangerous. And when played after a spider attack, Flies and Spiders can take one of the members of your company prisoner (Radagast can’t be taken prisoner in this scenario).

Most of the sites with automatic attacks you will visit are Ruins & Lairs, so include some hazards that modify those attacks. Choking Shadows is wonderfully thematic, but Arouse Denizens, Incite Denizens, and Awaken Denizens are equally good (the latter especially so because it is a Long Event). Minions Stir increases the strikes and prowess of Troll and Orc attacks.

You need to include one Nazgûl. Adúnaphel and Khamûl The Easterling are both playable in parts of Mirkwood, but Khamûl the Easterling is probably the better choice since he covers more of the area. I also encourage you to add just one Dragon Ahunt hazard. Agburanar Ahunt, Leucaruth Ahunt or Itangast Ahunt are perhaps best, since they can be played to the northern and central parts of Mirkwood (provided Doors of Night is in play). They are powerful (particularly Itangast, with 4 strikes of 16 prowess), but since they affect only part of Mirkwood and then only in combination with Doors of Night, these Dragons will provide a good challenge if you happen to travel in the north while they appear, without making victory nearly impossible.

Finally, since you loose the game when Radagast is corrupted, add some corruption cards. Lure of Nature is the obvious choice (I have added 2), but Lure of Creation or Longing for the West also work well. Keep in mind, though, that you have very few characters in this scenario, and often you will not want to tap Radagast to remove a corruption card with a roll, since he might be the only member of your company that can do things at sites. As mentioned above, the stage resources also give corruption points. In other words, don’t add too many corruption cards, and include some that are easier to remove (like Lure of Nature), or you are likely to lose every game to corruption. Since you will cycle through the hazard deck several times during the game, I’ve found that adding 2 corruption cards is about right. The game should be challenging, but not impossible to win. Make sure you include one Weariness of the Heart as well, so Radagast will be forced to make corruption checks more often.

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One thought on “Friend of All Beasts and Birds

  1. This is a very nice effort to maintain this game alive! Congratulations! I loved the website in general and also the way you introduce each scenario with flavor text

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