Not all that was spoken and debated in the Council need now be told. Much was said of events in the world outside, especially in the South, and in the wide lands east of the Mountains. Of these things Frodo had already heard many rumours; but the tale of Glóin was new to him, and when the dwarf spoke he listened attentively. It appeared that amid the splendour of their works of hand the hearts of the Dwarves of the Lonely Mountain were troubled.
‘It is now many years ago,’ said Glóin, ‘that a shadow of disquiet fell upon our people. Whence it came we did not at first perceive. Words began to be whispered in secret: it was said that we were hemmed in a narrow place, and that greater wealth and splendour would be found in a wider world.’
The Fellowship of the Ring, Book 2, Chapter 2
Driven out of Khazad-dûm by the Balrog, and then driven out of the Grey Mountains by the Dragons, and then ill at ease in the kingdom of Erebor, some Dwarves are now looking for a new home. Determined to regain one of their old homes in the Grey Mountains—or perhaps the abandoned outpost of Zarak-dûm in Angmar—a small Dwarf company sets out from their temporary refuge in the Blue Mountains to scout out the Dragon lairs.
In this scenario, you lead a group of Dwarves from the Blue Mountains through the northern mountain ranges in search of a new home. You’ll have to defeat a Dragon, recover lost treasures—including one of the seven lost Dwarven Rings, since “it is said that the foundation of each of the Seven Hoards of the Dwarf-kings of old was a golden ring” (The Silmarillion, Of the Rings of Power and The Third Age)—crown one of your Dwarf leaders King under the Mountain and invite some exiled Dwarves to their new home.
In order to win, you need to accomplish the following:
- Obtain one of the seven Dwarven Rings, using a Gold Ring found at a Dragon Lair.
- Kill an At Home dragon at a site in Grey Mountain Narrows, Withered Heath, or Angmar.
- Play King under the Mountain.
- Play Returned Exiles at a Dragon lair.
Gather 15 MP-worth of additional items, including at least 2 major hoard items and 1 greater hoard item (the Dwarven Ring does not count towards this).
In this scenario, Returned Exiles can only be played after King under the Mountain is played, which can only be played after a Dragon At Home manifestation is killed. The other objectives can be accomplished in any order.
You automatically lose the game if any of the following happen:
- You have no character with a mind greater of 5 or more in play at any time.
- The character crowned King Under the Mountain is killed or corrupted.
- The bearer of the Dwarven Ring is corrupted.
- The resource deck runs out a second time before you are able to accomplish the scenario’s goals.
There are a few special rules for this scenario:
- Blue Mountain Dwarf-hold and Iron Hill Dwarf-hold are havens in this scenario. You cannot use any other haven. As a result, you cannot use starter movement.
- The starting location is Blue Mountain Dwarf-hold. Your starting company can consist only of Dwarves whose home site is Blue Mountain Dwarf-hold, and cannot exceed a total of 15 mind. You can only have Dwarf characters in your deck.
- There is no Wizard in this scenario, but you have 25 general influence.
- Your companies cannot travel to Elven sites (such as the standard Havens or Thranduil’s Hall), travel through Elven lands (i.e., any region that contains a site where an Elven faction can be played, such as Woodland Realms or Lindon) nor can they use any Elven resources (such as Elven Cloak, Miruvor, etc.).
- Once you have played King under the Mountain, you can store items at the site where the At Home dragon was killed. Items stored at any other location do not count towards the scenario’s goals.
- You need to have at least 4 different At Home dragons in the hazard deck and at least 3 Ahunt dragons. For a more challenging variant you can draw the number of both types of dragon hazards randomly, so you don’t know which dragons you will encounter in each game.
- The Lonely Mountain is in this scenario a Border-hold with no automatic attack, where no resources can be played. No manifestation of Smaug can be used in this scenario.
- Your resource and hazard deck can contain maximum 40 cards each.
This scenario will take place mostly in the northern mountain ranges, the Grey Mountain Narrows and Withered Heath, where the majority of the dragon lairs are located.
The two havens for this scenario are Blue Mountain Dwarf-hold and Iron Hill Dwarf-hold, as mentioned above. This will provide some unique challenges, since they are so far removed from each other: it will take three turns to travel from one haven to the other, so you will have to plan your company’s journeys well. You start the scenario in Blue Mountain Dwarf-hold, and will likely want to travel quickly to the east. Mount Gundabad and Goblin Gate are the farthest you will be able to travel from your starting site, and provide relatively safe stops. But if you use the resource Forod (see below), you could also travel to a site in Forochel and with Forod travel to the other edge of the map in a single turn.
You will need to find a Gold Ring at a dragon lair in either the Grey Mountains Narrow or the Withered Heath. There are six dragon lairs where you can one: Gondmaeglom (Scatha’s lair) in the Grey Mountains Narrow; Caves of Ûlund (Agburanar’s lair), Dancing Spire (Daelomin’s lair), Gold Hill (Itangast’s lair), and Irerock (Leucaruth’s lair), all 4 in Withered Heath. At all of these sites, except Gondmaeglom, you can also find greater items.
There are a few additional sites in these regions that are useful. The Wind Throne is the only site that lets you play information resources (such as Ringlore or Dragon-lore). Mount Gundabad is close to Blue Mountain Dwarf-hold and lets you play greater items for a reasonable automatic attack. Zarak Dûm and Over Hollow are both dragon lairs with a relatively weak automatic attack and At Home dragon, so they might be attractive locations for the new Dwarven home.
You can only use Dwarves in this scenario. There is no Wizard. Your starting company has to consist of Dwarves whose home site is Blue Mountain Dwarf-hold, and needs to include a Dwarf with a mind of 5 or more (i.e. Thorin II, Glóin, or Balin). Note that the Dwarf leader of your first company can be killed or corrupted, as long as you have another Dwarf with a mind of 5 or more in play at the time this happens. There are three additional Dwarfs that would qualify for this: Dain II, Thráin II, and Gimli.
The other Dwarves are relatively weak (they have a low prowess) but they are resilient (they have a good body), and their strength lies in numbers, when weaker Dwarves aid each other in combat. They mostly have low minds (between 1 and 3) and are easily controlled with direct influence. Thorin II and Glóin have 4 direct influence for Dwarves from the Blue Mountains, and Thráin II has a direct influence of 5 for any Dwarf. If you have the Dwarven Ring in play and have crowned one of your Dwarf leaders King under the Mountain, you won’t have to worry about general influence.
The downside is that most Dwarves have few skills. All are warriors, but there are relatively few sages and scouts. Thorin II, Kíli and Fíli are the only scouts; Balin and Thráin II are the only sages; and Gimli, Gloin, Dain II, and Thorin II are the only diplomats. The only ranger you’ll be able to use is Thráin II.
The resource deck should focus on two main objectives: gather enough items (including a Dwarven Ring) and defeat one of the many At Home dragon while not getting killed.
To win the scenario, you’ll need to gather at least 15 MP of items of which at least 3 should be hoard items. Since many of the Dwarves have a low prowess, weapons are a good choice: Valiant Sword (a hoard item), and Wormsbane, Durin’s Axe, and Glamdring (all non-hoard items), are all powerful weapons. Emerald of the Mariner, a greater hoard item that essentially reduces corruption, will help with the inevitable corruption checks, and Magical Harp can prevent characters who fail corruption checks to be discarded.
Not only are the dragon lairs dangerous, but your companies will likely encounter deadly hazards as they travel to a lair. To minimise these dangers, Thror’s Map and Bounty of the Hoard could be useful. Both let you play multiple items at a lair, thereby reducing the turns you need to travel to gain new items. Legendary Hoard can help with this too, but is perhaps too involved to yield sufficient benefit in this scenario (if you do want to use it, see here for some tips).
Killing an At Home dragon will not be easy, but with the right combination of resources it isn’t too difficult. Not at Home and Quiet Lands cancel or reduce the number of strikes of automatic attacks. Sated Beast can remove an Ahunt dragon, but can also reduce the strikes of an At Home dragon. But defeating the strikes of the dragon is relatively easy; the dragon also needs to fail the body checks. Wormsbane, the above mentioned greater item, helps with this, as does The Old Thrush, which reduces the prowess and body of most dragons by 3.
The easiest way to be sure to obtain a Dwarven Ring is with Ringlore, which lets you test a ring without a dice roll. Note, however, that it requires a site at which Information is playable, and there is only one in this scenario (The Wind Throne), so if you plan on using information resources such as Dragon-lore or Farsight, which lets you find an item in your deck, you might have some tough choices to make. If you plan to use any other method of testing the ring, Precious Gold Ring provides a likely outcome for a Dwarven ring.
Dwarves are strongest when travelling in groups, but the bigger the company is, the higher the hazard limit will be. To make journeys safer, use Fair Travels in Wilderness, since you will mostly be travelling through Wilderness, and Fair Travels in Shadow-lands, since both Angmar and Grey Mountain Narrows are Shadow-lands. Forod links all the northern lands and also reduces the hazard limit by 2.
One of the greatest challenges in this scenario is corruption of your characters. Many Dwarves have penalties for corruption checks, and the items you will collect carry significant corruption points (often more when borne by a Dwarf). You’ll certainly need your resource deck to help you with this. As a preventative measure, Fellowship is a good choice if you travel in bigger companies, because it strengthens the company both in corruption checks and combat. The Cock Crows (in combination with Gates of Morning) and Marvels Told can remove corruption cards, but the latter requires a Sage and a risky corruption check. (Both can also be used to discard At Home dragons.) If you travel in larger companies, A Friend or Three is a great help in corruption checks. You can also use Old Friendship, New Friendship, or When I Know Anything but note that these require characters with specific skills that are relatively rare among Dwarves (Diplomat for the first 2, Sage for the last). If you have a Dwarf diplomat in your company, Pledge of Conduct, which lets you transfer an item at the time of a corruption check, could come in handy as well.
Though killing an At Home dragon and surviving the many encounters with the other dragons won’t be easy, the biggest challenge will come from corruption. As mentioned above, the dwarves are naturally prone to corruption and the many hoard items you’ll collect won’t help, but they will only prove a real threat if you add some hazards that will force corruption checks. Weariness of the Heart can be used to do so, and, more thematically, so do Greed, Dragon-sickness, and Lure of Expedience—all of which involve the items your companies will be collecting. The Ring’s Betrayal also forces a corruption check, but when the ring-bearer fails this he remains in play, but the ring is discarded—and event that can really ruin your plans when played at the right time!
As mentioned above, you need several At Home dragons in your deck. You can choose these randomly, to make the game less predictable. Note that each of the At Home dragons has also a special ability that has effect as long as the card remains in play. Itangast at Home, for example, is not just powerful (3 strikes of 19/8!), but also increases the corruption points of all greater items, and Scorba at Home, though weaker, similarly increases the corruption points of all major items. If you do not choose the dragons randomly, keep these special abilities into account when building your deck. If you use Bairanax at Home, for example, consider also including several animal hazard creatures in the deck (with perhaps a Wake of War), because when this card is in play, one of these animal attacks will not count towards the hazard limit. With a prowess of 17 and a body of 8 Leucaruth At Home is one of the more powerful dragons, but also has the advantage that as long as it is play only a single unique dragon can be played per turn, giving your companies some hope of safety.
In The Hobbit (chapter 7), Gandalf tells Bilbo that the Grey Mountains are simply stiff with goblins, hobgoblins, and rest of the worst description. Since you will be travelling through Shadow-lands and Dark-domains (such as Angmar and Grey Mountain Narrows) and perhaps visit Shadow-holds and Dark-holds (such as Mount Gram, Mount Gundabad, and Goblin Gate), you can include Orc hazards that can be encountered in these areas, such as Orc-watch or Orc-guards. The other regions you will travel through will be mostly Wilderness. You’ll likely encounter Hobgoblins, some Orc-warriors and Orc-patrols, and perhaps some Giants or Cave Drakes. Undead hazards are also a good choice, especially since some, like Ghosts or Barrow-wight force corruption checks to characters they wound.