Welcome to my third pictorial session report, in which I combine the Lord of the Rings: The Card Game with LEGO. In this report, I used encounter cards as normal (with the exception of enemies) but replaced my hero-, attachment- and ally cards with LEGO bricks and minifigures.
Since the Black Riders is a rather recent expansion, I expect that not everybody is familiar with the adventure or the player cards. I recommend the following link if you like a close-up on any of the cards, but I’ll make sure to mention some of the rules novel to this expansion.
I write as I play, so I cannot guarantee for a successful or suspenseful adventure, but my four heroes will try to keep you entertained. Aside from a cleverly disguised Hobbit going by the name of Mr. Underhill, I chose Merry, Sam and Pippin as my heroes for the expansion’s first adventure: A Shadow of the Past. The choice for Lore Pippin over his Spirit version was difficult – after all, Spirit Pippin has a fantastic response ability, which can avoid being engaged even after failing a Hide Test (more on that later). In the end, I decided for Lore due to better card draw and access to Fast Hitch and Mr Butterbur.
A snap-shot of my deck.
My starting hand consisted of two allies (Barliman Butterbur and Northern Tracker) as well as Elf-Stone, Take no Notice and Hobbit-Sense. While I loved to see Elf-Stone and a Northern Tracker in my opening hand, I used a mulligan in hope to find a copy of Resourceful and a Hobbit Cloak.
I was lucky: Resourceful, Feint, Sneak Attack, Farmer Maggot and a Dagger of Westernesse during the Resource Phase. The reason I only drew five cards is ‘Gandalf’s Delay’ – a burden included in this scenario.
The set-up: You can see the active location, staging area and my play area. The LEGO Bag End represents my ‘hand’ (spot the Northern Tracker relaxing on a bench and Farmer Maggot attending the carrots). Event cards are stacked against the wall.
I attached Resourceful to Merry (what better representation than a poisonous mushroom) and gave him a shiny dagger.
Without allies in play, I had to ensure to pass any potential Hide Test. Hide is a new keyword in this expansion. If a card requires you to make a hide check, you exhaust characters for it and compare their willpower to the threat cost of a specified number of encounter cards. If your willpower is smaller than the threat cost, bad effects can trigger. Here: each Nazgul in the staging area would engage and then make an immediate attack (in addition to its attack in the combat phase). With attack strength of 5, any Nazgul spotting my four friends would result in an instant loss! So I only committed Mr Underhill and Pippin to the quest, saving Sam and Merry in case of Hide.
I drew a Black Steed, which surged into Pathless Country. My threat increased by 2, and the Nazgul’s engagement cost was reduced to 25.
A Black Steed - one of the Morgul attachments in this expansion.
I drew Ring Mail (stacked against the main entrance of Bag End). The barrels hold the Hobbit’s resources (I used LEGO food items instead of tokens). The coloured bases represent the spheres in the game.
I did not play anything, since I wanted to keep Feint available. In conjunction with Mr Underhill and – if necessary – Sneak Attack, I would be able to dodge a Nazgul this turn and had to make some progress. So all of my hobbits went into the quest.
Another Black Rider! A clear case to use the One Ring! The way it works: spend on Fellowship Resource (i.e. Frodo’s sphere) and exhaust the One Ring to shuffle it back into the encounter deck. I had to draw another card, though, and was reasonably concerned.
Mr. Underhill and his ring.
Pathless Country! Better than another Nazgul, but I now had 8 threat and only made one point of progress. There was no point of optionally engaging the Black Rider, since its Black Steed would ensure the enemy’s return to the staging area.
Threat 23 and I drew another Dagger of Westernesse, which I gave to Merry. Sam was equipped with the Ring Mail.
I sent Sam, Mr Underhill and Pippin into the quest. I would still be able to optionally engage the Nazgul and defend with Sam (Pippin increases each enemy’s engagement cost by 1 for each hobbit hero I control). And I still had a Northern Tracker chilling out a Bag End, whom I could get into play via Sneak Attack. I wanted to keep Merry back to show those Morgul servants that my hobbits won’t be so easily captured.
Another Black Steed, surging into The Marish. My threat rose to 27. I didn’t like it one bit, but I did not want to use the One Ring out of concern for more Black Riders. The Nazgul’s effective engagement cost was 29, and I chose to engage him, thus readying Sam and drawing a card (another ability of Pippin). The card turned out to be Bill the Pony.
I added Mr Underhill to the Victory Pile, thus preventing the Nazgul from attacking. Sam and Merry took out the Black Rider (Sam get a +1 to attack when optionally engaging an enemy and Merry was attacking at 8 (four hobbits, two daggers against an enemy with higher engagement cost compared to my threat). The discarded shadow card was a nasty condition – a nice bonus!
Combat distraction - hobbit style.
Threat 28 and I drew Take no Notice, an event card to increase engagement cost of enemies.
I played Bill the Pony at no cost but saved Merry’s resources in case I needed them to play Feint.
I sent all hobbits into the quest. Gildor Inglorion! What a fantastic encounter card! Given Frodo’s resources, I had no doubt that I could keep him around for a long time!
I also made two points of progress, thus exploring Bag End (and drawing 4 cards thanks to its response!). What a fantastic round! I traveled to The Marish.
Gildor! How about some campfire tales?
Threat 29 and I drew Fresh Tracks, another event.
I attached a Fast Hitch to Merry (note the second base plate to symbolize his additional action) and played Farmer Maggot and Barliman Butterbur. This was looking great!
With only four threat in the staging area, I had a good chance to make some progress whilst still keeping characters ready to hide from Black Riders.
I used my heroes and Barliman to quest, readying Merry via Fast Hitch.
Pathless Country. This was a large location! But I explored the Marish and set my hairy, large hobbit feet into the pathless country for the first time.
Threat 29 and another Northern Tracker found his was to Bag End. Now if only I could find an Elf-Stone or two…
I repeated my quest tactics from the previous round and drew Crawling Towards him. I had to make a hide test, and I knew that I would encounter another Black Rider (and with it, another hide check) once I advanced to Stage 2. I used Gildor. A Black Rider… I lost my hide check, thus removing all characters from the quest. Well, the next time I’ll as a wood elf for these kinds of tasks! My threat increased to 33.
Threat 34 and I drew Hobbit-Sense, an event that could save me from attacks during the combat phase.
Once again, the proprietor of The Prancing Pony and his future guests went into the Pathless Country. Stock Road. Threat 7 vs my willpower of 10. I explored the active location and moved onto Stock Road.
Threat 35 and I drew Gandalf. He was delayed no more! As you can see, I also had plenty of resources.
I sneaked in the grey wizard during the Quest Phase and kept Barliman back. I chose to draw 3 cards instead of lowering my threat. I had 3 copies of the fellowship sphere event, Elf-Stones to play the Northern Trackers, 3 copies of Daeron’s Runes and another Sneak Attack in my deck. If fortunate, this could result in a nice chain of card draw events. Great! I discarded Bill the Pony from my hand.
Advancing to stage 2, I had to reveal a Black Rider. I had to make a hide test, and stage 2 increases the difficulty by adding one threat cost for each ally under my control (5). I opted not to bother, since I had another copy of Farmer Maggot in Bag End. I drew two treacheries but failed the hide test 5-0. The Black Rider killed Farmer Maggot (no shadow effect).
Since the Nazgul engaged and his effective engagement cost was still higher than my threat (35-39), I readied Sam and drew one card (Fast Hitch). I traveled to Pathless Country.
During Combat, I played Feint. I had no problem to dispatch the servant of Sauron.
Threat 36 and I drew Resourceful.
Time to go shopping! I used all of Merry’s resources to get Farmer Maggot and Beorn. With Pippin’s resources I put Resourceful on Frodo (since he had to pay one resource for Gildor each round), attached Elf-Stone to Pathless Country and played a Fast Hitch on Sam (being able to quest and hide is wonderful!) Sam also received a Hobbit Cloak and convinced Gandalf to join them again (this time lowering my threat). My resources were low, but Frodo’s posse was in full bloom!
I had 17 willpower committed to the quest and had Farmer Maggot, Bill, Beorn, Merry and Sam ready. I drew a Black Rider. Given the six allies in play, I chose not to attempt a hide test. I had Beorn to defend, after all. The Black Rider engaged (Ring Mail as drawn card) and inflicted two damage on Beorn (wound markers on his base).
My 17 willpower were sufficient to explore the active location, thus bringing a Northern Tracker into the game. In addition, 11 progress token were on stage 2. I could have fully explored the stage with Frodo’s Intuition, but that would have resulted in another Black Rider.
A Northern Tracker carrying an elf-stone. Admittedly, my representation looks as if Disney and Guillermo del Toro had collaborated...
Combat phase, and the Black Rider would attack again. I briefly thought about using Hobbit-Sense, but I trusted in Sam. I wasn’t sure if his +1 to all abilities would trigger. After all, I did not ready him after the Black Rider engaged. So whether the trigger for his bonus was the engagement or the readying was unclear. I assumed the worse case but hope for somebody to clarify. With his Ring Mail and Hobbit Cloak, Sam would still defend for 4 and had a healthy 5 hit points. Only one damage, but the shadow card caused the Nazgul to attack again!
Farmer Maggot was killed. Again. Was he a ringwraith, as well? Anyway, Merry, Bill and the new recruit were quick to send the Nazgul back to Mordor.
Threat 32 and another copy of Hobbit-Sense on hand.
I attached a Ring Mail to Merry, thus turning him into a multi-action hero with 4 hit points, 2 willpower, 2 defense and 8 attack. I realized that the Ring Mail is not limited to 1 per hero, so I could have attached it to Sam, but now Frodo had his own bodyguards.
I only used my heroes to quest and readied Merry and Sam. Hide check via Crawling Towards Him. I pondered to use the One Ring, but with Hobbit-Sense in hand, I could concentrate on willpower this turn and neglect the combat phase. Gildor, Sam and Merry attempted to hide. I drew Stock Road (3 threat) and Woody End (1) for a total of 9. My willpower was 8, but I used the action window to play Frodo’s Intuition, thus giving every hero +1 willpower and drawing four cards (Gandalf x2, Feint, Hobbit Cloak).
That's better, Gildor!
Stage 3, and another Black Rider was revealed. I also had Bucklebury Ferry in sight, but I had to make a successful hide check to travel there. First, the hide check against the Black Rider. I didn’t commit anybody. Crows and Stock Road – the Nazgul engaged (Elf-Stone drawn) and attacked Sam.
A nasty shadow effect! I had failed a hide check, and the attack was considered undefended. Sam was desperate, but just when the Nazgul was about to end the hobbit’s career as hero, Barliman Butterbur stepped in!
Barliman can take the damage of undefended attacks if all your controlled heroes are hobbits.
I played Feint in the Combat Phase and took out the Black Rider with Beorn and the Nazgul-slayer, a.k.a. Bill. Beorn was shuffled back into my deck.
Threat 33. I drew Daeron’s Runes and subsequently Sneak Attack and Hobbit Cloak (discarded the cloak).
I chose not to quest and hoped not to draw a location (travel to Bucklebury Ferry is only possible if it is the only location in play). Hunting for the Ring with Doomed 2 and need to make a hide check. With no Black Riders in play, the hide test would not affect me, so I didn’t commit anybody to it. My threat rose to 38 and I was ready to travel, committing Sam, Merry, Frodo, Pippin and Gildor to the hide test. 12 vs 2, so easily passed. Bucklebury Ferry was the active location, and I was one solid quest push away from victory. I played Sneak Attack and lowered my threat via Gandalf.
Threat 34; I drew Beorn.
I played Gandalf and attached an Elf-Stone to Bucklebury Ferry.
I committed my hobbits and Gandalf to the quest. The Ring Draws them was followed by Have you seen Baggins. I attached it to Pippin. Hunting for the Ring required me to make yet another hide check. I had won the game, but if I failed this check, Pippin would perish.
Gildor, Sam, Merry and the Northern Tracker had a combined 9 Willpower. The last two cards from the encounter deck had a threat of 4. Everybody escaped!
Final Score: 11 rounds completed, 2 Victory points, no heroes lost, 1 damage, 31 threat = 140.
Time for a second breakfast!
Thanks for reading!
Marina del Rey
Thank you for yet another wonderful session report!!!
The Wing Warrior - learn more at www.facebook.com/thelegendriders
I still haven't bought this game (I just don't know if I have the time/inclination for deck-building, and worry I would just get bored of the game quickly), but I came here for the Lego. I am a huge Lego fan, and your pictures are great. Very enjoyable.
Maybe my favorite session yet. Re: Sam, his +1 ability triggers no matter what, even if he does not ready. If more than one enemy engaged, it would be +X
Glad you enjoyed it.
And thanks for the clarification regarding Sam, Chris!
Kudos for using the Lego minifigs and bricks Loved it!
Awesome story as always..any chance you could post the deck?
Awesome story as always..any chance you could post the deck?
Sorry George, I didn't note it anywhere. There's nothing too fancy, though. The Hobbit cards are in there, of course, and I included some expensive allies since I had 3 Elfstones in the deck. Add the usual suspects from the core set (aside from Steward of Gondor), and that's it.
No No No Sheep
why darth vader on a horse attacking hobbits ???