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A Journey to Rhosgobel (AJTR) is the third Adventure Pack for the Lord of the Rings Living Card Game (LOTR LCG), and with each pack we get more clues about the direction the game is heading. The first expansion, the Hunt for Gollum, was not a very good one in my opinion, but the second, the Conflict at the Carrock, was much better. AJTR falls right in between those two adventure packs, largely because I feel it is an uneven set. The quest can be fun but is highly reliant on the randomness of the encounter deck, the hero is good but has limited utility, and the player cards as a whole are mostly just okay.

The Art



As always, I'll note that I have largely been a fan of the art in the LOTR LCG, and for the most part AJTR continues with solid artwork. My only niggling issue is that the size of the eagles in some of the images seems to be inconsistent. In some images, the eagles are depicted as being only as big as your typical real life eagle, while in others they are shown to be the enormous, man-carrying size they should be. It's only a minor issue, and can be easily overlooked in most cases, but with the Wilyador Objective card, which spends the entire game on the table, the arrow with which Wilyador was stricken seems far too large in comparison to the eagle's size, or else Wilyador is drawn much too small for his true size.

Note: The following sections include spoilers. If you do not want to know specifics about cards, skip to the "Conclusion".

The Hero


Our hero for this Adventure Pack is Prince Imrahil, a Leadership character. The similarities between Imrahil and fellow Leadership Hero Aragon are immediately apparent: the two share almost exactly the same stats, with Imrahil having one fewer hit points, and thus one point less in starting threat. Both characters have game text that allows them to ready themselves. While Aragorn can ready himself on any turn he quests (as long as he has a resource to do it), Imrahil's readying ability is less predictable, though you can tailor your deck to get the most from him. Aragorn is an easier hero to play with and build a deck around, but Imrahil can be more versatile when used well. This means that Imrahil can be quite strong in a deck built around his skill, but that he is less effective when plugged into a deck that was not designed for him.

To give you an example of how I have tried using Imrahil, I constructed a Spirit/Leadership deck with Imrahil, Frodo, and Dunhere. Spirit is a very useful sphere to use with Imrahil because of some of the cards it has available. The Westfold Horsebreaker from the Hunt for Gollum is an ally I have almost never used, but is very useful with Imrahil. The Horsebreaker can be discarded from play to ready a hero, but if you are playing with Imrahil, discarding it can ready Imrahil in addition to another hero. One of the new Spirit allies in AJTR is the Escort from Edoras, who has 2 willpower and gains +2 willpower when questing, but must be discarded after questing. Questing the Escort allows you to do some massive questing for one turn by questing Imrahil as well, who can then ready when the Escort goes on its way. This deck is one of the first I have built that involves most of its characters coming from one region of Middle Earth, specifically Rohan. The Horsebreaker, the Escort, Dunhere, Eomund, and the Snowborn Scout all fit well in this deck, thus making the event card Mustering the Rohirrim from the Hunt for Gollum expansion useful for the first time. By also utilizing the event cards Dwarven Tomb and Stand and Fight from the core set, you are able to recycle the Horsebreaker and Escort for many uses in a single game, maximizing Imrahil's potential.

In summation, Imrahil is a powerful hero in a deck built around him, but because he is less useful in other types of decks, I am only giving him four stars.

Rating:

The Player Cards

The player cards in AJTR are a mixed mathom (pun intended). Some are very strong and will warrant inclusion in most any deck that utilizes the sphere, while others are highly situation specific and thus are mostly used as fodder for Eowyn or Protector of Lorien.

AJTR gives us our second non-Song neutral card in the form of the wizard Radagast. This five-cost wizard is the first ally to get his own resources, which he can use to pay for and heal Creature cards. Thus far we have only two creatures, the Winged Guardian from Gollum, and this set's unique eagle Landroval. Radagast's stats are much lower than fellow wizard Gandalf's, but unlike Gandalf, Radagast won't show up one turn only to leave you later. Radagast will likely see the most use in Tactics decks since they have the only creatures (though you could theoretically sprinkle Tactics creatures into non-Tactics decks and use Radagast to pay for them), and in those decks he will provide a much-needed 2 willpower ally, though an expensive one. Radagast is only somewhat useful right now, but as more creatures are released, should see his utility rise.

As mentioned earlier, one of the Tactics cards in this pack is Landroval, an unique eagle ally. Landroval is not cheap at a cost of 5, and has pretty good stats, but is perhaps most noteworthy for his text, which allows him to save a just-killed hero. While this effect seems very good on the surface, I have never actually had cause to use it. This is likely because Landroval is expensive to play and so will not be around in the early game, which is when losing a hero is most likely. The other Tactics card is an event that allows you to rescue an ally with your eagle. To the Eyrie is a Response Event that allows you to exhaust an eagle to get a just-killed ally from your discard pile. This means you cannot use it to save a Gandalf who has wandered off (because he wasn't "destroyed"), and you won't get back any attachments the dead ally had on it. At a cost of 2 resources plus exhausting an eagle, this card is just a bit too expensive for my taste. I have included it in an eagle-centric deck, but never used it.

A third powerful ally in this pack goes to the Lore sphere. Haldir of Lorien is a first in many ways. He is the first Ranged/Sentinel combo character, he is the first Ranged or Sentinel character for Lore, and he is the first Lore ally with more than 1 attack. As such, he is well worth the 4 cost in most Lore decks as he provides some excellent versatility to a Lore player. The second Lore card is the event Infighting, which allows the player to move any number of damage tokens from one enemy to another. This card has some situational uses, but in practice it has been rarely used. This is a card that tends to be held onto, waiting for an ideal time to play it, when it perhaps could have played it earlier for a less powerful, but still useful, effect.

The Leadership sphere rounded out the Dunedain Trio of attachments in this pack with Dunedain Quest, which, like its predecessors Dunedain Mark and Dunedain Warning, is an attachment that boosts one of the primary Hero attributes and can be passed around for one resource. Unlike the others, this one is a cost of 2, putting it on par with Favor of the Lady from the core set. While the ability to pass it around does seem to make it better than Favor, if you are playing Spirit, odds are you are just going to stick either of these attachments on Eowyn and never need to move them, thus I wouldn't go out of my way to put this in a Spirit deck that doesn't normally use Leadership. The second Leadership card is Parting Gifts, an Event that allows you to move any number of resources from one Leadership hero to another. This card is very useful for spreading the wealth from the Steward of Gondor, and is especially good in multiplayer games.

Finally we come to the Spirit cards. The first card is the aforementioned ally, Escort from Edoras, which gives you 4 willpower but only for one turn as it is discarded after it quests. This ally has limited utility, though it is cheaper than playing and questing Gandalf for a turn, plus it can be useful in combination with Imrahil. In a Rohan-based deck, one or two copies could be included for grabbing with Mustering the Rohirrim in order to provide a one-time shot of Willpower in a dire circumstance. Still, this card will not likely fit into most decks. The second card is the Ancient Mathom, an attachment that is placed on a location and, when the location is explored, allows the first player to draw three cards. This is a somewhat useful card, especially if you're using Northern Trackers (and if you're playing Spirit, why wouldn't you be?), and as you can retrieve it with cards like Dwarven Tomb, Second Breakfast, or Erebor Hammersmith, you can use it over and over. The only drawback is that it costs a resource and, since you had to draw this card before you can play it, it really only provides two card draws, which is the same as a turn of Beravor or two turns with Bilbo. But in terms of giving some card drawing to another sphere, it's not bad.

All in all, this collection of player cards is decent, though many of them have limited utility. This was a particularly pricey pack as far as resource costs go, so it gets marked down a tad for that.

Rating:

The Quest

AJTR provides another new and interesting twist as far as Quest design goes. In this quest, you are on an errand of mercy, attempting to rush an injured eagle named Wilyador to Radagast's home of Rhosgobel (even though you might have Radagast with you... maybe he left his spectacles at the house) before the poor eagle bites it. Like Carrock introduced the Objective ally Grimbeorn, AJTR provides an Objective ally in Wilyador, who, unlike Grimbeorn, moves from player to player each round (Grimbeorn stays with the player who was first player when his fee was paid). Wilyador can be a bit of help in your mission to save him, with one point of Willpower, Attack, and Defense, but you must be careful when using him, for there are a great many Treachery cards that seek to accelerate his demise.


In order to save Wilyador, you must collect Athelas plants, represented by Guarded Objective cards. There are four of these in the deck, and when you proceed to the third "phase" (it's really only a resolution round) of the quest, each of these cards will heal five wounds from the bird. If you had enough Athelas to completely heal Wilyador, you win. If not, you lose.

This process is complicated by a number of factors. During the first phase of the quest, the Rhosgobel location (which begins in the staging area) prevents you from healing wounds from Wilyador, and you cannot travel to Rhosgobel until the second quest phase. (You can, however, explore it with Northern Trackers... yet another reason the Tracker is perhaps the most powerful card in the game.) When you reach the second phase, any card you use to heal Wilyador is removed from play. Use Lore of Imladris? Forget about getting it back out of your discard. Use Radagast? Better save up first, because you'll have to remove the ally once he heals Wily. How about Glorfindel? Yep, you can heal one wound, then you're down a hero. Additionally, you can't play attachments on Wily, which means no Self Preservation. In short, it's tough to heal this guy, which is where the challenge lies in this quest.

I like the theory behind this quest, but the execution seems a bit off. This quest, more so than any other in my opinion, is dependent on the luck of the draw with the encounter deck. If you can't find the Athelas, you're in trouble, but if you draw three of them in the first couple of turns (as my partner and I did in one game), you can breeze through to victory. Depending on the draw of the encounter deck, this quest can range in difficulty from 1 to 7 or above, and there isn't a whole lot you can do to change your luck. Yes, there is a location in the deck that lets you grab an Athelas from the deck or discard when explored, but even with those, only 8 of 53 cards in the encounter deck will get you an Athelas. That's less than 1 in 6, meaning in a two player game, you'll find an Athelas roughly every three turns, which means you'll be lucky to find three in the 9 turns it takes Wily to die. We've tried using Denethor to cycle the encounter deck quicker, which helps a bit, but by no means solves the problem.

The problem is, Wilyador's health declines very quickly, which makes it harder to get through the encounter deck than in the Hunt for Gollum, for example, where you're also trying to find specific cards. The second quest card does allow you to add wounds to Wily equal to the number of players in the game (props to FFG on scaling that to the number of players) to choose one of the top three cards of the encounter to place in the staging area, but this cost seems too high for the benefit. Why not let us raise our threat to do it as we take more chances in a desperate attempt to find the healing plant?

That idea brings me to my other concern with this quest, namely that threat is irrelevant in AJTR. You can basically ignore your threat in this one because there is very little that raises it and you're almost assured that Wily will be dead before you get anywhere near 50. Also, because of the way the quest is designed, you don't want to quest too quickly because you need to find the Athelas, and there aren't many enemies to fight, so much of the time your allies and even your heroes will be sitting idle with nothing to do.

After a half dozen plays with this quest, my partner and I are still working on figuring it out. It still seems too luck-dependent, but perhaps with some changes to our strategy, we could further reduce the amount of luck involved. Because I am still undecided about this issue, I am giving this quest a better than average grade.

Rating:

Conclusion


As I said in the intro, this pack is only middling to me. I like it better than Gollum, but not as much as I enjoyed Carrock. The hero is quite strong in the right kind of deck. The player cards are a tad on the expensive side, but most are usable and a few are very good. The quest seems highly luck-based, but is still interesting enough to warrant continued play. All in all, it's a decent pack, and a good addition to the game, but not what I would call a must-buy.

Rating:
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John Steinbach
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Great review! I agree with most of your assessments, especially regarding Imrahil and the random nature of the quest. However, some of the design features you took issue with are actually facets of the scenario I enjoy. More so than either of the previous adventure packs, I think this one introduces a new style of gameplay, one that forces players out of their comfort zones. To me, that disruptive, challenging effect makes it a worthwhile addition.

As a hero, Imrahil seems like a poor man's Aragorn unless you tailor a deck to suit him. One less threat for one less health and a more restrictive readying ability doesn't seem like a great deal, but it does conceivably allow him to defend and attack in the same round.

I agree with you that the player cards are a bit of a mixed bag. Parting Gifts, Haldir, and Ancient Mathom are all pretty helpful within their respective spheres, but I have a hard time finding legitimate uses for To the Eyrie and Infighting. I will say that I think Landroval is worth his (figurative) weight in gold, especially in a scenario with brutal treachery/shadow effects (like, say, AJTR). Between his high attack, Sentinel keyword, and ability to save a hero, I usually get plenty of utility out of him. I've also been able to use Escort from Edoras to pretty good effect; it's cheap, it helps burn through a quest stage quickly (which can be vital if Wilyador is nearing death), and it offers some nice interactions with cards like Horn of Gondor and the aforementioned Imrahil.

The scenario itself certainly has a much more pronounced luck factor than Hunt for Gollum or Conflict at the Carrock. If those Athelas cards don't turn up, you might as well start packing it in. Denethor can help, as can engaging multiple enemies (thereby generating shadow cards and cycling through the encounter deck faster), but it often feels like your gaming session is at the mercy of the encounter cards. That being said, I really appreciate how the scenario throws players for a loop. Unlike in CaC, you can't just dilly-dally in the first quest stage and build up a large force; that eagle is dying, and you have to MOVE! The fact that threat is largely irrelevant is actually a plus for me, just because it forces new strategic considerations and limits the utility of staple cards like Gandalf and Gift of the Galadhrim. In fact, this is the first quest on which I ever used Gandalf's card draw ability (a desperate attempt to find a Lore of Imladris and buy myself a few more turns).

So, while I tend to agree that the quest can be agonizingly unpredictable, I appreciate the way AJTR introduces an alternate loss mechanic and throws a wrench into finely-tuned decks focused on managing threat. AJTR feels more like an actual game variant than either of the previous adventure packs. Because more play options are always good in my book, I think this scenario deserves a strong recommendation.
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Tony Fanchi
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Thanks for the second opinion, John! I appreciate your thoughts on the pack, and I can understand your point of view on the quest, which is part of the reason I rated AJTR's quest higher than Gollum. AJTR can be challenging and tense, while Gollum is just kind of boring most of the time.

Thanks again for the feedback. Hopefully we've given others enough info to make a decision on whether or not to buy this pack.
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Troy Adlington
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You just saved me writing a review.

This quest is hard, but it is Random hard.

I have defeated it twice in a row now but I felt that was because I was able to find Athelas before Willador gets to 20 damage.

I was often only questing with 4-5 willpower to keep the game from escalating and using scouts and Trackers to discover Rhosgobel before Stage 2.

That really is the only 'smart' thing I did. Much like Carrock you don't want to rush through this quest.

 
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Joe Casadonte
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AdmiralACF wrote:
When you reach the second phase, any card you use to heal Wilyador is removed from play. Use Lore of Imladris? Forget about getting it back out of your discard. Use Radagast? Better save up first, because you'll have to remove the ally once he heals Wily. How about Glorfindel? Yep, you can heal one wound, then you're down a hero.


The 2B quest card says:

Quote:
Forced: After a card effect heals Wilyador, remove that card from the game.


I took that to mean that something like Lore of Imladris should be removed, but not triggering when using a character's ability like Radagast or Glorfindel. Even playing the way I was interpreting it, the quest was very, very difficult and we're 0-2. I can't imagine how terribly we'd have done if I had to throw away Radagast and a hero!

My biggest complaint with this quest is the complete and utter randomness of it. Maybe we can mitigate it somehow, but you're just screwed if an Athelas comes out as a Shadow card...
 
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jakub praibis
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Starhawk77 wrote:

As a hero, Imrahil seems like a poor man's Aragorn unless you tailor a deck to suit him. One less threat for one less health and a more restrictive readying ability doesn't seem like a great deal, but it does conceivably allow him to defend and attack in the same round.


I have a hard time understanding this, more restrictive readying ability? Perhaps, but surely one that does not cost resource. The only thing which, for me, makes Aragorn competitive is the Sentinel ability. The readying of Imrahil, although it does need a deck that fits, is much more convenient for me.
 
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Boian Spasov
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Quote:
the Winged Guardian from Carrock


I think the Winged Guardian is from Hunt for Gollum, actually.

Nice and helpful review, I love reviews with comprehensive descriptions of the new cards!
 
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John Steinbach
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jpraibis wrote:
Starhawk77 wrote:

As a hero, Imrahil seems like a poor man's Aragorn unless you tailor a deck to suit him. One less threat for one less health and a more restrictive readying ability doesn't seem like a great deal, but it does conceivably allow him to defend and attack in the same round.


I have a hard time understanding this, more restrictive readying ability? Perhaps, but surely one that does not cost resource. The only thing which, for me, makes Aragorn competitive is the Sentinel ability. The readying of Imrahil, although it does need a deck that fits, is much more convenient for me.


By more restrictive, I meant that you need to have: a) an ally you're willing to throw under the bus (or something like Sneak Attack; either way, cards other than Imrahil) and b) an enemy in play capable of killing that ally. Since Aragorn collects one resource every turn, his readying ability is always available if you really need it.

The issue I have with Imrahil is that you generally have to have expendable defenders in play in order for his ability to be useful. Leadership has plenty of ways to generate extra resources (Steward of Gondor, Theodred), so I find that paying one to ready Aragorn isn't usually a big deal. Now, there will frequently be available chump blockers to trigger Imrahil, especially with more players. Cards like Sneak Attack, Escort From Edoras, and Westfold Horse-Breaker can also go a long way towards maximizing Imrahil's utility (with Imrahil, the Horse-Breaker can discard itself to ready two heroes--not a bad deal). However, in situations where you either can't or don't want to sacrifice an ally, Imrahil's ability won't help. Meanwhile, Aragorn's effect offers similar versatility without having to depend on other cards.

I don't think Imrahil is useless by any means. In fact, I think he could be quite good in a deck designed to maximize his ability. However, he needs to be a focal point of your strategy. Aragorn, on the other hand, is pretty solid even if you don't build around him. But hey, if you want to put together a strong Imrahil build and post it in the Strategy forum, I'd definitely be interested
 
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Tony Fanchi
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blizzardb wrote:
Quote:
the Winged Guardian from Carrock


I think the Winged Guardian is from Hunt for Gollum, actually.

Thanks for catching that. Fixed.
 
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LOVE THIS SCENARIO!!

I've only played this solo, and it is incredibly hard solo. On the other hand, I rate this to be by far the most fun scenario. Yes, it's challenging. Comparatively, Carrock is a 7, and I've never come close to losing it. This one took me 7 tries before I finally won it.

I absolutely love how different and challenging this scenario is. Carrock needed a clock...this scenario has one. This scenario also highlights healing as being the most important thing, when usually it's a secondary ability at best. Plus when playing this I virtually always feel like I'm really racing, both on the edge of winning and losing at each moment. I love it!

Yes, it takes "luck", but one can sit on that as an explanation for losing, or one can get started making your own luck. It's not "random", it's "challenging". Think outside the box.
- You *have* to find your Lores, so include all the card draw you can. Like, everything. Use Gandalf to draw 3 cards. Consider (*gasp*) playing Gandalf's Search.
- Include everything you can to pull extra cards from the Encounter deck. Denethor, Elanor. Undaunted courage on those guys. Use them even when you don't have to (when you can deal with the drawn card) to get to Athelas faster.

I can see how in a 2+ player game, you could have too much Willpower. The amount of Will you'll need in this one is pretty static, with fewer monsters and Threat less of a concern (it's about 40 willpower over 8 turns). But you desperately need every point of Will in solo.
- Use Legolas for extra will and for Ranged. Combine him with maxed out Feint and Swift Strike. This lets you use 1 less Exhaust to deal with all those weenie creatures, and cheaply convert 1 card + 1 resource into 2+ will.

My final deck was a crazy combination of Beravor, Elanor, Legolas, and 4 spheres of cards. I'm not sure what my final deck list was, but it was 4 songs, 3 Gandalf, 2 Radagast, 3 Steward, about 8 1-2 cost tactics cards, 8 1-2 cost spirit cards, and everything else Lore. Quest barely enough to stay alive while drilling both decks for 20 points of healing. Then use Protector of Lorien to bin a mountain of cards.
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Allan Clements
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Starhawk77 wrote:


By more restrictive, I meant that you need to have: a) an ally you're willing to throw under the bus (or something like Sneak Attack; either way, cards other than Imrahil) and b) an enemy in play capable of killing that ally. Since Aragorn collects one resource every turn, his readying ability is always available if you really need it.

The issue I have with Imrahil is that you generally have to have expendable defenders in play in order for his ability to be useful. Leadership has plenty of ways to generate extra resources (Steward of Gondor, Theodred), so I find that paying one to ready Aragorn isn't usually a big deal. Now, there will frequently be available chump blockers to trigger Imrahil, especially with more players. Cards like Sneak Attack, Escort From Edoras, and Westfold Horse-Breaker can also go a long way towards maximizing Imrahil's utility (with Imrahil, the Horse-Breaker can discard itself to ready two heroes--not a bad deal). However, in situations where you either can't or don't want to sacrifice an ally, Imrahil's ability won't help. Meanwhile, Aragorn's effect offers similar versatility without having to depend on other cards.

I don't think Imrahil is useless by any means. In fact, I think he could be quite good in a deck designed to maximize his ability. However, he needs to be a focal point of your strategy. Aragorn, on the other hand, is pretty solid even if you don't build around him. But hey, if you want to put together a strong Imrahil build and post it in the Strategy forum, I'd definitely be interested


In a pure leadership deck I think Aragorn is better. But I find that throwing him into other decks means he will generally be using up the resource he genereates to ready and you will make poor use of any leadership cards you might want to use.

In addition, the Prince can ready during the combat step meaning he can defend twice, attack twice or attack and defend if an ally leaves play which is fairly easy to do and even more so if you use Born Aloft (on cheap allies or useful "when you play" allies) so you can get to play them again.


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Mike Bazynski
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Starhawk77 wrote:

The scenario itself certainly has a much more pronounced luck factor than Hunt for Gollum or Conflict at the Carrock. If those Athelas cards don't turn up, you might as well start packing it in. Denethor can help, as can engaging multiple enemies (thereby generating shadow cards and cycling through the encounter deck faster), but it often feels like your gaming session is at the mercy of the encounter cards.


emphasis mine.

how do you make sure the cards you are looking for do not get discarded when resolving fights with multiple enemies? or do you mean that if you engage more enemies you can see quicker if the athetlas cards got discarded and know it's time to give up?
 
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