After the fall of the Dark Tower and the passing of Sauron the Shadow was lifted from the hearts of all who opposed him, but fear and despair fell upon his servants and allies. Three times Lórien had been assailed from Dol Guldur, but besides the valour of the elven people of that land, the power that dwelt there was too great for any to overcome, unless Sauron had come there himself. Though grievous harm was done to the fair woods on the borders, the assaults were driven back; and when the Shadow passed, Celeborn came forth and led the host of Lórien over Anduin in many boats. They took Dol Guldur, and Galadriel threw down its walls and laid bare its pits, and the forest was cleansed.
In the North also there had been war and evil. The realm of Thranduil was invaded, and there was long battle under the trees and great ruin of fire; but in the end Thranduil had the victory. And on the day of the New Year of the Elves, Celeborn and Thranduil met in the midst of the forest; and they renamed Mirkwood Eryn Lasgalen, The Wood of Greenleaves. Thranduil took all the northern region as far as the mountains that rise in the forest for his realm; and Celeborn took all the southern wood below the Narrows, and named it East Lórien; all the wide forest between was given to the Beornings and the Woodmen.
The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B: Chronology of the Westlands
After Sauron captured Osgiliath, he sent his lieutenant, “Khamûl the Shadow of the East”, one of the nine Nazgûl, accompanied by two assistants, to the north, to reoccupy Dol Guldur. Using the old stronghold of Dol Guldur as a base, they searched for the Ring in the forests of Mirkwood, where Gollum was last seen, and in the lands of the Anduin River, but dared not yet enter into Lórien and defy “the power of the White Ring” of Galadriel (Unfinished Tales 3.4). When the Nazgûl came to know of the location of the Shire, they rushed there, and tried to find the bearer of the Ring. Khamûl again led them, for it was he who “came to Hobbiton and spoke to Gaffer Gamgeee, who followed the Hobbits along the road to Stock, and who narrowly missed them at the Bucklebury Ferry” Unfinished Tales, 3.4, note 1).
Though the Nazgûl did not return to Dol Guldur, the battle for Thranduil’s realm in Mirkwood and the elven woods of Lórien had only just begun. As the War of the Ring raged in Rohan and Gondor, the second stroke against the Free People occurred in the north, under the trees of Mirkwood and Lórien. Three times Lórien was assaulted. When Denethor sent his son Faramir to reclaim Osgiliath, the Orcs of Dol Guldur launched their first attack on Lórien. The second strike aimed both at Thranduil’s Realm and Galadriel’s and coincided with the Battle of Pelennor, while the third occurred quickly after that, around the time Samwise Gamgee, Frodo Baggins, and Sméagol approached Mount Doom.
This scenario re-enacts the “battle under the trees in Mirkwood” (as J.R.R. Tolkien described it, Appendix B) and the three assaults on Lórien. You will play either as Celeborn or as Thranduil and attempt to fight the forces loyal to Sauron in Mirkwood, gather support from the various factions that live in these regions, and stave off the three assaults on Lórien.
To win you need to have accomplished the following before the game ends:
- You need to withstand the 3 assaults on Lórien (see below).
- Both Thranduil and Celeborn have to be in play at the end of the third assault.
- (Optional:) You need to have at least 1 faction in your MP pile after the third assault.
You automatically lose the game when any of the following occur:
- Celeborn, Thranduil, Galadriel, or Radagast is killed or corrupted.
- You fail to defend against any of the three assaults on Lórien.
- (Optional:) You have lost all your factions in the assaults on Lórien.
There are some special rules for this scenario. Most of these concern the Nazgûl and the assaults on Lórien and are detailed below, but there are also a few minor special rules that apply:
- The duration of this scenario is determined not by the Resource Deck, but by the Hazard Deck. As detailed below, this scenario has two distinct phases: the first ends when the Hazard Deck is exhausted the first time; the second phase ends when it runs out a second time. The game ends immediately after the third assault on Lórien, which occurs during the second phase (see below). The Hazard Deck can have a maximum of 40 cards.
- You start the scenario with either Celeborn (whose starting location is Lórien) or Thranduil (whose starting location is Thranduil’s Halls) and one or two additional Elf characters. Your starting company cannot have a total mind of not more than 12. Your starting company can bear two non-unique minor items. Though you can only start the game with one of these two elven leaders, both Celeborn and Thranduil will have to be in play at the end of the game in order to win.
- Companies that remain in Lórien will have to face hazards during the movement & hazard phase (draw up to 4 hazards); hazard creatures playable in Wilderness regions will be playable against a company staying in Lórien.
- Characters can only be brought into play at their home site, with the exception of Elves from Rivendell, who can be brought into play at Lórien.
- You can only attempt to influence Animal Factions (like Beasts of the Wood, A Panoply of Wings, and Wild Hounds) when Radagast is in play.
- Other restrictions regarding characters, locations, and factions that can be used in this scenario are given below.
- The following cards cannot be used in this scenario: Great-Road, Marvels Told, Long Dark Reach, Long Winter, Legolas, and Wizard’s River-horses, nor any other card that causes a Nazgûl to be discarded, or a destination site to become tapped, or the Hazard Deck to be reshuffled.
The Three Nazgûls of Dol Guldur
There should be three Nazgûl in your Hazard Deck: Khamûl the Easterling, who was given charge of Dol Guldur by Sauron, and 2 additional Nazgûl (any except the Witch King of Angmar). I have used the three that are pictured above.
When the Nazgûl are drawn from the Hazard Deck during the first phase, play them immediately; place them at the top of the playing area, in the order that they are drawn. They never count towards the hazard limit when first played or when encountered.
As long as the Nazgûl are in play, your companies run the risk of encountering them as they travel through Mirkwood and the surrounding lands. Khamûl the Easterling, however, will never venture outside Dol Guldur. As long as Khamûl is in Dol Guldur, all Orc attacks have 1 extra strike, and 1 extra prowess. As long as he is there, hazards playable at Shadow-lands or Shadow-holds can also be played in Wilderness regions and at Ruins & Lairs, and those playable at Dark-domains and Dark-holds can also be played at Shadow-lands and Shadow-holds. While Khamûl is in Dol Guldur the strikes of both automatic attacks for that site are doubled, and any company entering Dol Guldur while he is there will have to face Khamûl.
When any of the other two Nazgûl are in play, roll one dice at the beginning of the Movement & Hazard Phase for each of them separately. The result of the die roll determines in which region that Nazgûl will be for the remainder of that turn; any company travelling through that region will have to face that Nazgûl.
- Woodland Realm
- Northern Rhovanion
- Anduin Vales
- Western Mirkwood
- Heart of Mirkwood
- Southern Mirkwood
The special permanent event ability of each Nazgûl will apply each time a company encounters that Nazgûl. For example, when a company faces Ren the Unclean, each member of the company will have to perform a corruption check before they face him; when they face Indûr Dawndeath, any character wounded in the encounter will have to discard an item.
The Nazgûl are only discarded when the hazard deck is exhausted the first time, or when the Nazgûl is defeated in battle (i.e. when he fails the body check for every successful strike). Nazgûl cannot be otherwise discarded.
When the Hazard Deck is exhausted, reshuffle the Nazgûl back into the deck. When a Nazgûl is drawn a second time, during Phase Two, this marks only one of the three assaults on Lórien.
The Three Assaults on Lórien
The assaults on Lórien will take place during the second phase of the game, after the Hazard Deck has been exhausted the first time. When this occurs, discard the Nazgûl that are still in play, and reshuffle the discard pile of the Hazard Deck into a new draw deck.
Whenever you draw a Nazgûl during Phase Two of the game, Lórien will be attacked at the end of that same turn, just before the End-of-turn Phase. (If you draw a second Nazgûl when an attack on Lórien is already scheduled for that turn, reshuffle the second one back into the deck.) During Phase Two of the scenario the Nazgûl card has no other function than to trigger an attack on Lórien, and is not considered a hazard creature, a permanent event, nor a Nazgûl (so resources that affect any of these card types will have no effect on the Nazgûl card drawn). Discard the card immediately when it is drawn.
For the attacks on Lórien you will need a separate deck of 20 hazard creatures. This deck should consist of the following cards: 5x Olog-hai (Trolls), 5x Orc-guard, 2x Orc-raiders, 3x Orc-warriors, 4x Orc-warband, and 1x either Rogrog, or “Tom” (Tûma). For a more challenging scenario, replace some of the Orc hazards with Trolls From The Mountains. Treat Orc-warband always as if it were played after another Orc attack (so it has 5 strikes of 7 prowess). If this deck ever runs out before the third assault is completed, reshuffle its discard pile.
During the first assault, you will draw—one by one—4 cards from this deck; during the second assault 5; during the third and final assault 6. The game immediately ends after the third assault. In order to win this scenario you will have to withstand all three assaults, which is accomplished either by facing each hazard creature with one (or more) of your characters or with one or more of your factions.
During the assault, an attack by a hazard creature is considered defeated if it is either eliminated by discarding factions (as detailed below), or if a character faced the creature and survived the attack (he could be wounded). If any number of strikes from a creature are not opposed, or if the character opposing it dies, Lórien is invaded and you lose the game.
During the assault, each character at Lórien can only face one hazard creature per turn (but more than one character can face the same creature, if desired).
In addition, you can discard any number of factions from your MP pile to reduce a number of strikes equal to their MP value from a single hazard creature. For example, if you discard Wood Elves (3 MP), you can remove up to 3 strikes from a single creature. Factions that are discarded in this way are removed from the game; they cannot be brought back into play.
Note that you can chose to face a hazard creature with both a character and a faction: you can use a faction to reduce the number of strikes and then assign the remaining strikes to one of your characters at Lórien, if you so desire. If you use Wood Elves (3 MP) against Orc-guard, which has 5 strikes, the orcs’ strikes would be reduced to 2, which would still have to be faced by a character or another faction; if used against Olog-hai (Trolls), which has 3 strikes, the trolls would be defeated.
If, during the second phase, no company moves during a turn, add 1 extra creature to the next assault. This is cumulative: if you do not move any company for 2 turns, you will have to add 2 creatures, and so on.
During an assault on Lórien, no strike or hazard creature may be cancelled by any means. Resources that cancel or reduce strikes or attacks will have no effect, but resources that modify the prowess of either your characters or the hazard creatures can be used.
Immediately after a Nazgûl is drawn during Phase Two, you can discard a Stolen Knowledge resources, like Dark Numbers or Knowledge of the Enemy, that has been stored at Lórien for one of two purposes: 1) the Elves of Lórien are aware of the enemy’s movements and therefore have had warning of the attack: you can postpone the attack to the next turn; or 2) your spies give you accurate information about the troops that are marching on Lórien: you can look at the top 6 cards of the assault deck and place them back in any order.
The only characters you can include are those whose home site is in Mirkwood or in a region bordering it, with the exception of the Dwarves, who cannot be included (since they are fighting their own battle at this time against the Easterlings). This means you are limited to the following characters: Bard Bowman, Beorn, Brand, Celeborn, Galadriel, Haldir, Orophin, Thranduil, and Wacho. You can also include Elves whose home site is Rivendell, such as Erlond’s sons Elladan and Elrohir. You cannot include Legolas, since he is in the south at the time of these events.
The Wizard for this scenario is Radagast.
Celeborn and Thranduil have to be included in your deck, since victory is dependent on them being in play. They are both strong characters—Thranduil particularly so—but also have a high mind (6 and 9 respectively). Most of the characters whose home site is in the regions where this scenario is set have either a high mind (like Beorn, Galadriel) or, mostly, a very low one (Bard Bowman, Wacho, Orophin, Haldir, etc.), which is why you’ll probably want to include some elves from Rivendell, to have some characters of medium strength. You will likely struggle with a shortage of general influence, which you will also need to influence factions, so choose your characters carefully.
Keep in mind that if you want to use Dark Numbers, which is probably the easiest Stolen Knowledge resource to play in this scenario, you will need a scout, and there aren’t that many to choose from. Radagast is one, as are Bard Bowman and Wacho (whom you probably would not choose for any other reason in this scenario, because, despite his fierce appearance, he has a prowess of just 1!).
Your companies can only move in the following regions: Anduin Vales, Wold & Foothills, Grey Mountain Narrows, Woodland Realm, Western Mirkwood, Southern Mirkwood, Brown Lands, Heart of Mirkwood, and Northern Rhovanion (i.e. in Mirkwood and the surrounding regions). You cannot travel to The Lonely Mountain nor to Framsburg.
Your starting location is either Lórien or Thranduil’s Halls, depending on whether you start with Celeborn or Thranduil respectively.
Many of the sites you will visit are faction sites. There are only a few sites that let you play items, and only at Dol Guldur can you find a greater item. There are several sites where you can play major and minor items, but several of them are dragon lairs. The easiest sites to gain items are Sarn Goriwing and The Wind Throne, but it is probably easier to gain minor items at sites where you influenced a faction.
Since the length of the game is determined by the Hazard Deck, I have kept my Resource Deck for this scenario small (at 30 cards), in the hope that I will be able to cycle through it at least twice before the game ends—Radagast helps with this, since he allows you to draw extra cards when travelling through Wilderness. I have therefore focussed on cards that can be played by almost every character in the deck or at multiple locations.
Your resource deck has two main aims: to gather factions, and to defeat hazard creatures.
The factions are the heart of your deck. Since you will likely not have a lot of free general influence or will want to keep some free to guard yourself against Muster Disperses, you will not have many characters in play and therefore will need to rely on factions to defend yourself during the raids on Lórien. Luckily, there are many factions you can influence in Mirkwood and its surrounding regions: the Great Eagles and Beornings in Anduin Vales, Wood-elves and Woodmen in Mirkwood, and several factions in Northern Rhovanion.
Note that there are two factions playable at Lake-town: Men of Northern Rhovanion and Men of Lake-town. The former is easier to acquire, but if you include both, you might be able to influence the second one after your resource deck runs out and the location deck is restored. You cannot use any Dwarf factions.
There are also several Animal factions that can be played in these regions. The Animal factions are not worth a lot of MP, and so will not be of great help during the battles for Lórien, but they have three advantages: 1) they are not unique, so you can include more than one of them in your deck; 2) they have a special ability that will certainly come in handy in the first phase of the scenario; and 3) they can be played at a tapped site. Beasts of the Wood is particularly good, since it can be played at most sites in Mirkwood, and can be tapped to cancel attacks keyed to a Mirkwood site (including the dreaded Giant Spiders and even the Nazgûl). As mentioned above, in this scenario you can influence Animal Factions only when Radagast is in play (though he does not need to be the character attempting the influence check).
Note that you’ll have very few diplomats: Radagast is one, and so is Galadriel (whom you may not want to use, given her high mind and low prowess). Thus, very few of the resources that help in gaining factions (like Lordly Presence, Old Friendship, and New Friendship) will be very helpful here, since they require a diplomat. If you plan on travelling in sizeable companies, A Friend or Three could be useful, especially since it also helps with corruption checks, and Muster (with or without the errata) can be used by any warrior (which will probably be all your characters). Dark Numbers can be played on scouts and can help with influence attempts, but keep in mind that this Stolen Knowledge will come in handy in the second phase of the scenario, as outlined above.
There are relatively few sites that let you play major or greater items so do not include too many of these. Minor items can be played when you have influenced a faction and are therefore good to focus on. Horn of Anor and Elf-stone compensate for the shortage of general and direct influence you will have and will make it easier to bring factions into play. There are also several good items you can play in Lórien: Gold Belt of Lórien gives a character extra direct influence—give this and Elf-stone to Thranduil and he can control an Elf character with a mind of 6. Waybread is a more powerful version of Cram: it does not just untap its bearer but also another character in the company.
There are several resources that favour Elves, who will likely constitute the majority of all your companies. Star of High Hope and The Evenstar both increase the prowess of Elves. Elf-path helps you avoid hazards (including Nazgûl) if you travel but a short distance. To avoid more hazards, Many Turns and Doublings allows rangers to avoid many animal and undead attacks, and the common Dark Quarrels cancels Orc attacks.
The Hazard Deck functions in this scenario as the timer. In order to give you some chance of accomplishing this scenario’s goals within that time frame, your hazard deck should have around 40 cards.
The Hazard Deck has two main objectives: engage your companies in combat, and make it more difficult to influence and retain factions.
Since this scenario is set in Mirkwood, you should include Mirkwood-specific hazards. Giant Spiders and Lesser Spiders are the obvious choice, as are hazard events that increase spider attacks such as Wake of War, Full of Froth and Rage, Flies and Spiders, and Spider of the Môrlat. (I’ve not included Huorn and Old Man Willow, though they are also Mirkwood-specific.)
Since Dol Guldur is a stronghold for the Enemy, Orcs, as well as a few Trolls, are the other obvious choice. You have plenty to choose from, but I suggest you select those Orc hazards that can be keyed to the majority of the regions and sites you will travel through (Wilderness, Border-lands, Ruins & Lairs, Shadow-holds, Shadow-lands). Orc-lieutenant is especially good for this, particularly when played after an other Orc attack, but so are Orc-patrol, Orc-warband, and Orc-raiders. For Troll hazards, consider Olog-hai Trolls. They can only be played to Dark-domains & Dark-holds and Shadow-lands & Shadow-holds, but once Khamûl is at Dol Guldur, you can encounter them even in Wilderness regions. Include a few Minions Stir to increase the strikes and prowess of Orc and Troll attacks.
There are other hazard creatures that play well in this scenario. Dragons will pose a good challenge. I’ve included Bairanax Ahunt, Cave Drake and True Fire-Drake (the last made easier to play with Doors of Night). Wolves and Dire Wolves are great too, particularly since they also benefit from Wake of War.
To make the recruiting of factions more difficult, include a few Muster Disperses, and perhaps Stormcrow, which decreases the direct influence of Radagast. Times Are Evil is a good Long Event, as it will give you a -3 penalty on all influence attempts for two turns.
For hazards targeting your characters, you can include a few corruption cards (I used both Lure of the Senses and Lure of Nature). New Moon taps Elf characters.
For hazards affecting movement, you can use Withered Lands, which makes it easier to bring out hazard creatures that require two or more Wilderness regions to play (so that Giant Spiders can attack any company travelling to or from Lórien), while Lost in the Wilderness and Lost in Border-lands increases the hazard limit for companies travelling through such regions (the former will be particularly useful). River is a good hazard to slow down your companies (or at least tap a ranger if you want to enter the site).