Of the Blue little was known in the West, and they had no names save Ithryn Luin ‘the Blue Wizards’; for they passed into the East with Curunír, but they never returned, and whether they remained in the East, pursuing there the purposes for which they were sent; or perished; or as some hold were ensnared by Sauron and became his servants, is not now known. But none of these chances were impossible to be; for, strange indeed though this may seem, the Istari, being clad in bodies of Middle-earth, might even as Men and Elves fall away from their purposes, and do evil, forgetting the good in the search for power to effect it. […] For it is said indeed that being embodied the Istari had need to learn much anew by slow experience, and though they knew whence they came the memory of the Blessed Realm was to them a vision from afar off, for which (so long as they remained true to their mission) they yearned exceedingly. Thus by enduring of free will the pangs of exile and the deceits of Sauron they might redress the evils of that time.
Unfinished Tales, Part 4, Chapter 2: The Istari
Pallando disappeared into the East. There were rumours he departed from his mission, allured by the arcane knowledge he had gained. Some claimed he fought against Sauron’s influence in distant lands, but some thought he might have been corrupted by Sauron’s promises of power and joined his ranks. No one quite knew. But there are rumours he has now reappeared in the lands north of Mordor, amid the Easterlings, and though he had indeed abandoned his mission, he is hoping to rejoin the remaining Istari in their struggle against Sauron.
In this scenario (which is a solo development of this scenario), you play the fallen wizard Pallando, who desires to return to the Free People, but struggles to break free from the allure of his old life. You start the scenario with 30 points of stage resources in play, and need to remove all stage resources in order to win the game. Pallando will gradually grow weaker, as the reputation he has gained as a master of the arcane gradually wanes and he loses his influence over the people who followed him for his arcane powers.
In order to win this scenario, you need to reduce Pallando’s stage points to 0. You automatically lose the game if any of the following happen:
- Pallando is killed or corrupted.
- Pallando has more than 35 stage points.
- The resource deck runs out a second time before you have removed all stage points.
There are a few special rules for this scenario, most of which govern the special use of stage resources:
Stage Points and Stage Resources
- Pallando starts the scenario with 30 stage points. These stage points come from stage resources which are in play at the beginning of the game.
- Stage points and stage resources can only be removed by removing from the game items, factions, or allies that are in play, or (optionally) from hazard creatures (without an asterisk) which you have killed, as an offering to the Free People of Middle-Earth. Such an offering can be made during the organization phase when Pallando is at any Free-hold or Border-hold, except a Wizardhaven. Resources (including hazard creatures) offered in this way are removed from the game and cannot be brought back into play. One marshalling point of such offered resources can remove one stage point (so a 2-MP item will remove 2 stage points). Stage resources can only be removed when their entire stage point value is paid; this has to be applied immediately. In other words, when a faction worth 3 MP is discarded to remove a stage resource worth 2 stage points, the 1 additional MP is wasted. One item can discard more than one stage resource, though (so 4 MPs can remove two 2 stage point stage resources).
- A maximum of 2 stage resources can be removed during the same turn, and no stage resources can be removed at the same site in consecutive turns (i.e., if Pallando did not move).
- To determine the worth of hero resources or killed hazard creatures in your MP pile use Fallen Wizard rules—i.e. all “marshalling point cards are only worth 1 marshalling point”. These can be modified by stage resources such as Legacy of Smiths or Gatherer of Loyalties.
- The following stage resources are compulsory: Plotting Ruin (3 SP, which forces you to use Minion sites for Havens, Free-holds, and Border-holds), Shameful Deeds (4 SP, hazards with an asterisk attack normally, not as detainment), Pallando’s Apprentice (2 SP, which has to be played on a sage that is part of your starting company), and Hidden Haven (1 SP, creating a Wizardhaven). You cannot duplicate stage resources.
- The following stage resources cannot be used: Double-dealing, Prophet of Doom, Bad Company, A Strident Spawn, Half-Orcs, Greater Half-Orcs, The Fortress of Isen, Keys of Orthanc, Fortress of the Towers, and Keys to the White Towers.
- Some hazards played against Pallando may increase his stage points, but hazards can never reduce his stage points or discard stage resources. Stage points that are acquired in this way are not represented by stage resources, and can be removed only by offering something to the Free People, as detailed above.
- Stage resources that can normally only be played when your Fallen Wizard has a certain number of stage points have to be discarded through an offering to the Free People before any other stage resource, if Pallando’s stage points would fall below the number required by this stage resource. For example: A Merrier World (2 stage points) requires you to have 7 stage points in play. If Pallando has 7 stage points, you would have to remove A Merrier World before you can remove any other stage resource. If this were to apply to more than one stage resource at the same time—for example, if you also had Plotting Ruins (3 stage points) in play, which similarly requires 7 stage points—you would have to make an offering to the Free People that allows you to remove them all at the same time—in this case, an offering of 5 MP or more.
- When Pallando has 15 or fewer stage points left, general influence is reduced to 15. When Pallando has only 10 stage points or fewer left, general influence is reduced to 10.
- You cannot use any of the standard Havens or Wizardhavens in this scenario. The first site at which you successfully bring a faction into play becomes your Wizardhaven—Hidden Haven is immediately played on it, provided this stage resource is still in play. Until Hidden Haven is discarded, the site is never discarded. You cannot have an additional Wizardhaven.
- You must always use Hero sites for Dark-holds, Shadow-holds, and Ruins & Lairs.
- Your starting location is Shrel-Kain.
- You can only use minion characters, and then only Man characters whose home site is in the regions you will be travelling through, but all your companies are considered hero companies. Note that characters cannot be discarded to remove stage resources.
- Characters can only be brought into play at their home sites (at both the minion and hero versions of the site).
- Your resource deck cannot contain more than 40 cards. You cannot include minion resources.
As mentioned you need 30 stage points worth of stage resources. Though you can choose most of these cards, there are a few compulsory ones, and some that you are not allowed to use, as mentioned above. These are the ones that I have used:
- Hidden Haven (1)
- Truths of Doom (4)
- Pallando’s Hood (1)
- Pallando’s Apprentice (2)
- Stave of Pallando (2)
- Legacy of Smiths (4)
- Gatherer of Loyalties (3)
- Blind to All Else (2)
- A Merrier World (2)
- Never Refuse (2)
- Shameful Deeds (4)
- Plotting Ruin (3)
I have used Legacy of Smiths, Gatherer of Loyalties, Blind to All Else, and A Merrier World to increase the MP value of resources and killed creatures that can be offered to the Free People. Note, though, that many of these require a certain stage points to be in play, so that you will have to remove them well before the game ends.
Pallando’s own stage resources help you, in various ways, to influence factions. Pallando’s Hood and Stave of Pallando are particularly useful to recycle discarded cards, and the latter can come particularly in handy early in the game, before Plotting Ruin is discarded and you are able to visit hero Border-holds to bring factions into play.
Pallando disappeared in the East, and it is there where he resurfaces, at Shrel-Kain, which is your starting location.
Many of the sites in these areas let you play Factions, which are Pallando’s strength, but you will have also to rely on gathering Major and Greater items to remove stage resources. Dead Marshes and The Lonely Mountain let you play Greater items, and Buhr Widu is a useful site for major items because it is never discarded.
Because of the compulsory stage resource Plotting Ruin (which forces you to use minion sites for Border-holds and Free-holds), you will also need minion sites for sites like Shrel-Kain, Variag Camp, Easterling Camp, Southron Oasis, Raider-hold, and Iron Hill Dwarf-hold, if you plan on using these (for example, to bring characters into play) before you are able to discard Plotting Ruin.
As mentioned above, you can only use Minion characters, though your companies will be considered Hero companies, following the standard Fallen Wizard rules. Note too that, following the Fallen Wizard rules, you can only have characters with a mind of 5 or less.
Luckily, you have plenty of choice. Layos is perhaps the only sage playable in these regions, and so has to be the played as the single starting character with Pallando, as his apprentice. Like Pallando, Layos is weak in combat, but most of the other characters of these regions are strong warriors, and often playable at multiple sites. Many of them also gain bonuses in influencing specific Factions, which could be particularly attractive if you decide to split your companies and influence Factions without Pallando.
Pallando’s stage resources give him great advantages in recruiting factions. There are many high value factions in the east, and it will be tempting to put as many of these as you can in your resource deck. However, factions cannot be the sole basis of your strategy, since you start the game with Plotting Ruin, a 3-point stage resource that forces you to use Minion sites for Border-holds and Free-domains. In other words, as long as Plotting Ruin is not removed, you will not be able to play almost any hero faction, which all—Núrniags excepted—have to be played at a Border-hold or a Free-domain. In other words, you will also have to gather (major and greater) items that you can discard to remove stage points.
Palantíri and Rings can be useful in this, since they have a high MP value. But Rings are not that easily playable in the eastern regions, and require three different cards to give sufficient MPs, and Palantíri need to be aligned before they can be used, and provide otherwise very little other benefit during the game. Necklace of Girion is slightly more useful, because it helps in recruiting Man Factions. However, Pallando is greatly advantaged in influencing Factions, but is relatively weak in combat, as are many of the other characters you can bring into play. Weapons are therefore a good idea to include: Glamdring is always a good choice, but so is the common Sword of Gondolin.
Factions are Pallando’s strength, and there is certainly no shortage of factions you can influence in these regions: Southrons, Easterlings, Wain-easterlings, Haradrim, Variags of Khand, Men of Dorwinion are all worth 3 MP as long as you have Gatherer of Loyalties in play. In addition, you can also recruit the Men of Northern Rhovanion or Men of Lake-town.
To make travel easier, consider using Rhûn, Harad, Mountains of Shadow, and Mountains of Ash, which can all decrease the hazard limit and, in some cases, allow you also to travel further than four regions. Moon is useful to make safer some of the dangerous regions you will have to travel through, and Safe Travels in Shadow-lands can similarly help when travelling north or south, through Khand and Horse Plains (both Shadow-lands).
Noble Steed is not only too thematically appropriate to leave out, but will also help you travel long distances, as well as avoid combat. It can also be played at tapped sites in most regions you will be travelling through. Since there are a fair number of Border-holds in these regions, Noble Hound is another ally that is an obvious choice. Note too that both can be used to remove stage points when you no longer need their special abilities.
There are two other resources that are good to include as well, since Pallando’s Hood allows you to recycle them: Wizard’s Voice helps with influencing factions, and Eyes of Mandos can help you gain quickly access to the resources you need.
Since Pallando will mostly try to influence factions and high value items, your hazard deck should complicate both. Muster Disperses can be very effective, especially as Pallando’s influence starts to wane, and can be used in combination with other hazards that lower general or direct influence, such as Stormcrow or Times Are Evil.
The many high value items Pallando and his followers will gather will bring substantial corruption points. The hazard deck can exploit that by forcing regular corruption checks. There are several hazards that can do so while also taking advantage of the weak prowess of Pallando and Layos, such as Weariness of the Heart which can force a corruption check or be used to weaken a weak character in combat, and Despair of the Heart forces a corruption check when a character is wounded. Particularly useful, though, is In the Grip of Ambition, which not only gives corruption points, but also stage points and requires a relatively high roll to remove (greater than 8).
You’ll be travelling to some dangerous regions–several Shadow-lands and Dark-domains–and there are some good resources that can make this even more difficult. Long Winter, No Way Forward, and Mordor in Arms are all good to make travelling more difficult, either by forcing you to return to your site of origin, by reducing the number of regions you can travel, or by making travelling through Nurn (a key region that links the northern and southern lands you will travel through) much more dangerous.
For hazard creatures, Half-trolls of Far Harad are an obvious choice, as are Olog-hair (Trolls) and Orc-guard, all playable in Dark-domains and Shadow-lands. Make sure to include some hazards playable in Wilderness regions, especially if you use the resources Rhûn and Harad: Orc-patrol will be playable in every region except Dorwinion (a Border-lands), as does Corpse-candle, which can also force a corruption check. Lesser Spiders, Orc-warriors, Sand-drake and Dire Wolves are able to roam less far, but will provide a good challenge nonetheless. The Border-watch can be particularly deadly early on in the game, before you are able to discard Shameful Deeds, and Durin’s Folk too can pose a good challenge. Throw in a Dragon Ahunt–Smaug is the obvious choice–and you’ll have to plan your journeys carefully!
Finally, your hazard deck can make it more difficult to enter the sites in these regions. Awaken Minions, Arouse Minions, and Incite Minions affect the automatic attacks at Dark- and Shadow-holds; Awaken Denizens, Arouse Denizens, and Incite Denizens will do the same for Ruins & Lairs. Fell Winter adds an automatic attack to Border-holds, and Worn and Famished will not let you untap your characters easily if they are not at Border-holds or your Wizardhaven. For a particularly great challenge, you could also consider including Heart Grown Cold, which will force you to use minion sites for Border-holds (and thus make it impossible to influence factions there). If you do include this, though, make sure you also include a resource that can remove this hazard permanent-event!