I have been playing Lotr LCG for nearly a year now and fancied a try at the much feared nightmare mode, so what better quest to start with than Passage Through Mirkwood the easiest quest from the Core Set. Having played through a few times, yes it’s definitely harder, but not very hard as the Nightmare mode would suggest – in my opinion that is.
Firstly this is a FFG print on demand expansion so the cards have a very slight different colour tone, this becomes evident when put aside a normal encounter card. Also the print on demand cards have a different feel to them, slightly rougher feel and cut. When cards are shuffled into the encounter deck the colour tone doesn’t appear to be noticeable and if cards have transparent sleeves then the “feel” of the cards is not an issue either.
Firstly, setup instructs to remove X cards from the original Passage Through Mirkwood encounter deck and replace with the cards from the Nightmare deck. One card removed is Ungoliants spawn (yeah!), however there is a new version (boo!) and he’s is a bad ass spider.
Spoiler (click to reveal)
Quest cards are the same as the original and the new encounter deck has a key theme – Exhaustion. The vast majority of cards in the encounter deck deal with exhaustion in some form. For example, you still have Necromancers Reach and the highly annoying King Spider from the Core Set, although these seem mild compared to the exhaustion effects of the new cards. Some cards exhaust multiple characters, some damage exhausted characters or some enemies have their attack increased by the number of exhausted characters.
Spoiler (click to reveal)
Since this quest focuses on exhausting your characters the simple remedy is to include plenty of reading effects. If your card pool is still quite small or you only have the core set then this could be a problem. Also I found that the level of damage dished out is quite high so healing should also be considered. A word of warning, the new Ungoliants Spawn’s When Revealed effect is very, very nasty and consideration needs to be given to cancelling it, i.e. reserve a Test of Will. Without giving too much away, there is a nasty exhausting treachery card (of which there are 3), certainly one of the worst treacheries I’ve come across and worthy for a nightmare deck. The key to beating this quest is how you deal with the exhaustion effects, again this is the main theme of this deck.
I have really enjoyed playing this version of Passage Through Mirkwood, I quite liked the original, even though it was rather easy. It certainly keeps you constantly on your toes as there’s always the chance that one or 2 encounter cards could come off the encounter deck and spell your doom. I also like some of the new artwork, particularly on Ungoliants Spawn, very horrid looking thing! I think you do need to do a bit of deck building to give yourself a decent chance of beating this, I love deck building away! Summing up, yes it is hard but not impossibly hard and I have really enjoyed my games against it. So for those looking for a harder challenge then this pack I would recommend, enjoy!