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I recommend reading the strategy article http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/967308/challenge-against... about Into Ithilien prior to the session reports.

These are 3 games I played during my challenge against Into Ithilien (whichever side is the first to win 10 games wins the challenge).

You will find the result of the challenge at the end of the third game review.

If you haven’t played Into Ithilien a lot, you might enjoy replaying the provided games with your own cards and ask yourself what you would have done in a particular situation.

Abbreviations:
r = resource
Legolas (Xr) – Legolas pays X resources
qp = questing point
thr = threat
pt = progress token
dmg = damage
att = attack
x = starting player
deck 1/player 1 = Lore/Leadership
deck 2/player 2 = Tactics/Spirit


First deck: Dain/Bifur/Denethor (threat 26)

Deck composition (53 cards – 30 lore, 18 leadership, 5 neutral): 23 events, 15 attachments, 15 allies
Events: 3x Durin’s song, 1x Infighting, 2x Sneak attack, 3x Fresh tracks, 3x Expecting mischief, 3x Gildor’s counsel, 2x Radagast’s cunning, 2x Secret paths, 2x Rumour from the earth, 2x Shadow of the past
Attachments: 2x Steward of Gondor, 3x Cram, 2x King under the mountain, 3x Dunedain mark, 2x Protector of Lorien, 3x Ranger spikes
Allies: 2x Erebor hammersmith, 3x Warden of healing, 2x Gleowine, 1x Henamarth riversong, 2x Ithilien Tracker, 2x Erebor Record Keeper, 3x Gandalf (old)

Second deck: Thalin/Legolas/Dunhere (threat 26)

Deck composition (53 cards – 36 Tactics, 13 Spirit, 4 Neutral): 24 events, 15 attachments, 14 allies.
Events: 2x A test of will, 2x Hasty stroke, 3x Unseen strike, 2x Quick strike, 3x Khazad! Khazad!, 2x Feint, 1x Swift strike, 3x Hands upon the bow, 3x Hail of stones, 2x Foehammer, 1x Shadows of the past
Attachments: 1x Unexpected courage, 3x Light of Valinor, 3x Miruvor, 3x Great yew bow, 2x Gondolin Blade, 2x Rivendell blade, 1x Black Arrow
Allies: 3x Veteran axehand, 3x Winged guardian, 3x Vassal of the windlord, 2x Arwen, 3x Gandalf (new)

First session report: Snipers and spies
This was game no. 2 of the challenge. It shows one basic strength of deck 2: the power of the two snipers when you draw an early Great yew bow or multiple copies of Hands upon the bow. Besides, Denethor and Henamarth enjoy spying together and stage 4 turns into siege during the questing phase.

Initial card draw:
Deck 1– Inifighting, Protector of Lorien, Warden of healing, Fresh tracks, Erebor Record keeper. No downright awesome card, so let’s mulligan: Radagast’s cunning, Henamarth Riversong, Fresh tracks, Gandalf, Cram, Durin’s song.
Deck 2 – Swift strike, Foehammer, Quick strike, A test of will, Light of Valinor, Khazad! This hand is average. Test of will is always nice to have in hand, so we’ll stick to it.

Round 1: Threat 26x/26.
RESOURCE PHASE: Deck 1 draws Gildor’s counsel, Deck 2 draws Great yew bow.
Denethor peeks at Forest bat; it stays (lucky first card, especially paired with Gildor’s counsel). Dain (1r) pays Bifur.
PLANNING PHASE: Deck 1 (Dain=0r, Bifur=1r, Denethor=1r): Cram on Dunhere.
Deck 2 (Thalin=1r, Legolas=1r, Dunhere =1r): Dunhere (1r) for Light of Valinor on Legolas, Thalin (1r) and Legolas (1r) for Great yew bow on Legolas.
QUESTING PHASE: Bifur (2r) and Denethor (1r) for Gildor’s counsel. Quest with Dain, Bifur, Thalin, Legolas, Celador (=10qp)
STAGING PHASE: 1. Forest bat (1thr, Thalin autokill). Khazad! Khazad! (+3qp) for Dain. THREAT 13:6 clears active location, THREE pt on quest card.
COMBAT PHASE: Dunhere att Southron company I (2 dmg), readies with Cram, att Southron company II (2 dmg). Legolas + Great yew bow att Southron company I (4dmg).

Round 2: Threat 27/27x
RESOURCE PHASE: Deck 1 draws Durin’s song, Deck 2 draws Light of Valinor.
Denethor peeks at Southron Elite; put under deck (no decent defenders). Thalin (1r) pays Bifur.
PLANNING PHASE: Deck 2 (Thalin=0r, Legolas=1r, Dunhere =1r): Legolas (1r) for Quick strike: Dunhere kills Southron company I. Note that we can’t use Legolas here to get his +2 pt bonus because Great yew bow usage is restricted to combat phase.
Deck 1(Dain=1r, Bifur=1r, Denethor=1r): Denethor (1r) for Henamarth Riversong (peeks at Overgrown trail).
QUESTING PHASE: Quest with Dain, Bifur, Thalin, Legolas, Celador (=10qp).
STAGING PHASE: 1. Overgrown trail (4thr), 2. Lost companion (remove Legolas, Bifur (-4qp)). Dain (1r) for Durin’s song (Dain +2qp), Bifur (1r) for Radagast’s cunning (Southron Company II=0t). THREAT 8:4, SEVEN pt on quest card.
TRAVEL PHASE: Overgrown trail
COMBAT PHASE: Legolas + Great yew bow att Southron company II (4 dmg)

Round 3: Threat 28x/28
RESOURCE PHASE: Deck 1 draws Gandalf, Deck 2 draws Hail of stones.
Denethor peeks at Blocking wargs; put under deck. Henamarth peeks at Morgul spider. Dunhere (1r) pays Bifur.
PLANNING PHASE: Deck 1(Dain=1r, Bifur=2r, Denethor=1r): nothing
Deck 2 (Thalin=1r, Legolas=1r, Dunhere =1r): nothing
QUESTING PHASE: Quest with Dain, Bifur, Thalin, Legolas, Celador (=10qp).
STAGING PHASE: 1. Morgul Spider (3thr; 1dmg Thalin); Dain (1r) for Fresh tracks (Morgul Spider (2dmg), 2. Blocking wargs (1 dmg to questers), 3. Ithilien Guardian (+2qp), 4. Southron Mercenaries (2t; 1dmg Thalin). THREAT 12:8, FOUR pt on active location.
COMBAT PHASE: 2 archery damage on Dunhere. Dunhere att Morgul Spider (4 dmg). Legolas with Great yew bow kills Southron company II, active location clear.

Round 4: Threat 29/29x
RESOURCE PHASE: Deck 1 draws Stewart of Gondor, Deck 2 draws Miruvor
Denethor peeks at Ithilienroad; it stays. Thalin (1r) pays Bifur.
PLANNING PHASE: Deck 2 (Thalin=1r, Legolas=2r, Dunhere =2r): Thalin (1r) for Hail of stones (exhaust Legolas to kill Morgul spider).
Deck 1 (Dain=1r, Bifur=5r, Denethor=2r): Bifur (5r) for Gandalf (kill Southron Mercenaries)
QUESTING PHASE: Quest with Bifur, Gandalf, Thalin, Legolas, Celador, Ithilien Guardian (=16qp).
STAGING PHASE: 1. Ithilien road (4thr), 2. Overgrown trail (4thr). THREAT 16:8, quest stage 1 clear.
Celador and Ithilien ranger join deck 2.
TRAVEL PHASE: Ithilien road.
Henamarth peeks at Morgul spider. Gandalf leaves play and deals 1dmg to Celador.


Round 5: Threat 30x/30
RESOURCE PHASE: Deck 1 draws Warden of healing, Deck 2 draws Gondolin blade
Exhaust Celador and Ithilien ranger to put 6pt on active location (clear)
Dunhere (1r) pays Bifur.
PLANNING PHASE: Dec k1 (Dain=2r, Bifur=1r, Denethor=3r): Dain (2r) for Stewart of Gondor on Denethor (+2r), Bifur (2r) for Warden of healing (heals Celador, Dain), Denethor (5r) for Gandalf (card draw: Gildor’s counsel, Erebor Record keeper, Infighting).
Deck 2 (Thalin=1r, Legolas=3r, Dunhere =1r): Thalin (1r) for Gondolin blade on Legolas
QUESTING PHASE: Quest with Bifur, Thalin, Gandalf, Legolas (=10qp).
STAGING PHASE: 1. Morgul spider (3thr; 1 dmg Thalin), 2. Lost companion (remove Legolas, Bifur (-4qp). THREAT 6:3, THREE on active location.
COMBAT PHASE: Dunhere att Morgul Spider (3dmg), Legolas with Great yew bow kill Morgul Spider (Gondolin blade clears active location, Legolas puts 2 pt on quest card. Foehammer exhausts Gondolin blade to draw Hail of stones, Hands upon the bow, Hasty stroke.
Denethor peeks at Mumak (put under deck). Henamarth peeks at Southron company. Gandalf leaves play and deals 1dmg to Celador.


Round 6: Threat 31/31x
RESOURCE PHASE: Deck 1 draws Warden of healing, Deck 2 draws Miruvor.
Thalin (1r) pays Bifur.
PLANNING PHASE: Deck 2 (Thalin=0r, Legolas=4r, Dunhere =2r): nothing.
Deck1 (Dain=1r, Bifur=1r, Denethor=1+2r): Bifur (1r) for Erebor Record keeper
QUESTING PHASE: Denethor (3r) for Gildor’s counsel
Quest with Bifur, Erebor record keeper, Thalin, Legolas, Celador, Ithilien guardian (=12qp).
STAGING PHASE: 1. Southron company (1thr; 1 dmg Thalin).THREAT 12:1, quest stage 3 clear.
You could play Hands on the bow now, followed by Swift strike to safely kill Southron company. However, because we want to get Legolas’ 2 pt bonus and have Hasty stroke in hand, we’ll choose the other path.
ENGAGEMENT PHASE: Deck 1 engages Southron company.
COMBAT PHASE: Dain defends (Legolas (2r) for Swift strike on Southron company (3 dmg), shadow card is Secluded glade which has no effect. Legolas kills Southron company and puts 3 pt on quest card.
Warden of healing heals Celador and Bifur.
Denethor peeks Southron support; it stays. Usually, siege questing tends to be somewhat easier than normal questing in stage 4, so Southron support/Watcher in the woods would often be welcome to deliberately raise threat. In this game though, it doesn’t matter much because we have a lot of allies in play who will accumulate enough qp for both kinds of questing.

Round 7: Threat 34x/34
RESOURCE PHASE: Deck 1 draws Erebor Record keeper, Deck 2 draws Rivendell blade.
PLANNING PHASE: Deck1 (Dain=2r, Bifur=2r, Denethor=1+2r): Bifur (2r) for Warden of healing II (both Wardens heal Thalin, Legolas, Dunhere, Celador), Denethor (2r) readies Warden of healing I, Denethor (1r) for Erebor record keeper II.
Deck 2 (Thalin=0r, Legolas=4r, Dunhere =2r): nothing
QUESTING PHASE: Dain (discard Miruvor : readies/+1r), Bifur, Denethor, Thalin, Legolas , Dunhere, Celador, Ithilien Guardian (=15 qp). We don’t quest with other characters because we know the qp will be calculated in defense. Besides, we have Durin’s song in our hand.
STAGING PHASE: 1. Southron support (thr=37/37), Dunhere (1r) for Test of will to cancel When revealed, 2. Southron Mercenaries (2thr). Warden of healing I heals Dunhere. THREAT 15:2, final quest stage clear.


Second session report: Mumak! Mumak!
This game was game no.3, so there are no gaps between the first and second session report. After their defeat in the last round, the Southrons return with double Southron support and Mumak.

Initial card draw:
Deck 1 - 2x Secret paths, Fresh tracks, Infighting, Erebor Hammersmith, Cram. Few cards for encounter deck control, no outstanding cards. So we’ll mulligan this one: Gildor’s counsel, Shadow of the past, Fresh tracks, Secret paths, Sneak attack, Dunedain mark.
Deck 2 - Vasall of the windlord, Khazad!Khazad!, Swift strike, A Test of will, Arwen, Unexpected courage. Good questing boost, besides two very powerful cards (Unexpected courage, Test of will).

Round 1: Threat 26x/26.
RESOURCE PHASE: Deck 1 draws Durin’s song, Deck 2 draws Veteran axehand.
Denethor peeks at Overgrown trail; it stays. Thalin (1r) pays Bifur.
PLANNING PHASE: Deck 1 (Dain=1r, Bifur=2r, Denethor=1r): Dain (1r) for Dunedain Mark on Dunhere.
Deck 2 (Thalin=0r, Legolas=1r, Dunhere =1r): Legolas (1r) for Vasall of the windlord.
QUESTING PHASE: Bifur (2r) and Denethor (1r) for Gildor’s counsel. Quest with Dain, Bifur, Thalin, Legolas, Celador, Vasall (=13qp)
STAGING PHASE: 1. Overgrown trail (4thr). Khazad! Khazad! (+3qp) for Dain. THREAT 16:10 clears active location, TWO pt on questcard.
TRAVEL PHASE: Overgrown trail.
COMBAT PHASE: Dunhere att Southron company I (3 dmg)

Round 2: Threat 27/27x.
RESOURCE PHASE: Deck 1 draws Expecting mischief, Deck 2 draws Gandalf (new).
Denethor peeks at Lost companion; it stays.
PLANNING PHASE: Deck 2 (Thalin=1r, Legolas=1r, Dunhere =2r): Dunhere (2r) for Unexpected courage on Dunhere; Legolas (1r), Thalin (1r) for Veteran Aexehand.
Deck 1 (Dain=1r, Bifur=1r, Denethor=1r: nothing.
QUESTING PHASE: Quest with Dain, Bifur, Thalin, Legolas, Dunhere (ready with Unexpected courage), Vasall, Veteran Axehand, Celador (=18qp)
STAGING PHASE: 1. Lost companion (remove Veteran Axehand, Bifur (-3qp), 2. Morgul spider (3thr; 1dmg Thalin; Dain (1r) for Fresh tracks on Morgul spider (2 dmg). Bifur (1r), Denethor (1r) for Shadow of the past (returns Lost companion).THREAT 15:9 clears active location.
COMBAT PHASE: Dunhere kills Morgul spider.

Round 3: Threat 28x/28.
RESOURCE PHASE: Deck 1 draws Warden of healing, Deck 2 draws Miruvor.
Denethor peeks at Lost companion; it stays.
PLANNING PHASE: Deck 1 (Dain=1r, Bifur=1r, Denethor=1r): Bifur(1r), Denethor (1r) for Warden of healing.
Deck 2: (Thalin=1r, Legolas=1r, Dunhere =1r): nothing.
QUESTING PHASE: Quest with Bifur, Warden of healing, Thalin, Legolas, Vasall, Veteran Axehand, Celador (=18qp). Blocking wargs would kill Celador now, but we have A test of will in hand.
STAGING PHASE: 1. Lost companion (remove Warden of healing, Vasall (-3qp), 2. Mumak (4thr; 1dmg Thalin; Dain (1r) for Durin’s song on Bifur (+2 qp). THREAT 15:10, SEVEN pt on quest card.
Good thing we have the new Gandalf in hand; with him in play, we’ll have three more rounds before Mumak engages (not counting possible encounter cards/shadow cards which raise threat).
COMBAT PHASE: Dunhere kills Southron company I, readies with Unexpected courage, att Southron Company II (3 dmg). Denethor peeks at Secluded glade; it stays.

Round 4: Threat 29/29x.
RESOURCE PHASE: Deck 1 draws Erebor Hammersmith, Deck 2 draws Rivendell blade. Dain (1r) pays Bifur.
PLANNING PHASE: Deck 2 (Thalin=2r, Legolas=2r, Dunhere =2r): Thalin (2r), Legolas (2r), Dunhere (1r) for Gandalf (new).
Deck 1: (Dain=1r, Bifur=2r, Denethor=1r): Bifur (2r) for Erebor Hammersmith.
QUESTING PHASE: Quest with Bifur, Thalin, Legolas, Vasall, Veteran Axehand, Erebor Hammersmith, Celador (=18qp).
STAGING PHASE: 1. Secluded glade (3thr), 2. Southron support (add 2 Southron mercenaries from the encounter deck). THREAT 22:14, quest stage 1 clear. Celador joins deck 2.
TRAVEL PHASE: Secluded glade.
COMBAT PHASE: 2 archery damage on Legolas, 2 archery damage on Dunhere. Dunhere att Southron mercenaries I (2dmg), readies with Unexpected courage, att Southron mercenaries II (2 dmg). Warden of healing heals Legolas and Dunhere. Denethor peeks at Ithilien guardian; it stays.

Round 5: Threat 33x/35.
RESOURCE PHASE: Deck 1 draws Cram, Deck 2 draws Black arrow. Dain (1r) pays Bifur.
PLANNING PHASE: Deck 1: (Dain=1r, Bifur=2r, Denethor=1r): Cram on Dain.
Deck 2 (Thalin=1r, Legolas=1r, Dunhere =2r): Black arrow on Legolas, Dunhere (1r) for Miruvor on Dunhere . Arwen would be tempting here, but we don’t want to deal with a treachery card like Watcher in the woods or Southron support now without being able to cancel it.
QUESTING PHASE: Quest with Dain (discard Miruvor : readies/+1r), Bifur, Thalin, Legolas, Veteran axehand, Gandalf, Erebor Hammersmith, Celador (=18qp).
STAGING PHASE: 1. Ithilien guardian (+2qp), 2. Overgrown trail (4thr), 3. Southron support (thr=36/38), Dunhere (1r) for A test of will. Bifur (1r) for Secret paths (Overgrown trail=0thr). THREAT 19:9 clears active location, SEVEN pt on quest card.
TRAVEL PHASE: Overgrown trail
COMBAT PHASE: 2 archery damage on Thalin, 2 archery damage on Denethor. Dunhere kills Southron mercenaries I, readies with Unexpected courage, kills Southron mercenaries II, discard Miruvor : readies/+1r), kills Southron company. Warden of healing heals Denethor and Thalin. Denethor peeks at Forest bat; it stays.

Round 6: Threat 37/41x.
RESOURCE PHASE: Deck 1 draws Dunedain mark, Deck 2 draws Feint. Celador exhausts to put 3 pt on Overgrown trail.
PLANNING PHASE: Deck 2 (Thalin=2r, Legolas=2r, Dunhere =2r): Dunhere (2r) for Arwen.
Deck 1: (Dain=2r, Bifur=1r, Denethor=3r): Dain (1r) for Dunedain mark on Dunhere.
QUESTING PHASE: Quest with Bifur, Thalin, Legolas, Dunhere, Veteran axehand, Gandalf, Arwen (gives +1def/sentinel to Dain), Erebor Hammersmith, Celador, Ithilien guardian (=20qp).
STAGING PHASE: The card we don’t want to see in the next two rounds is Watcher in the woods.
1. Forest bat (1thr, Thalin autokill), 2. Southron company (1thr). THREAT 20:5 clears active location, quest stage 3 clear.
ENGAGEMENT PHASE: Player 2 engages Southron company. Mumak engages player 2.
COMBAT PHASE: Legolas (1r) for Feint on Mumak (Shadow card=Forest bat). Southron company attacks Vassal of the windlord. If the shadow card is Blocking wargs now, a hero will be killed and Celador will receive 2 dmg. But losing Gandalf would be much worse; if the shadow card is the last copy of Southron Mercenaries and Gandalf defends, he is dead. Although this is quite unlikely, I won’t take the risk. The revealed shadow card is Secluded glade (removes nothing). 1 dmg on Celador. Dunhere readies with Unexpected courage and kills Southron company together with Gandalf. Warden of healing heals Denethor and Celador. Denethor peeks at Morgul spider; it stays.

Round 7: Threat 40x/46.
RESOURCE PHASE: Deck 1 draws Erebor Hammersmith, Deck 2 draws Great yew bow. Thalin (1r) pays Bifur.
PLANNING PHASE: Deck 1: (Dain=2r, Bifur=2r, Denethor=4r): Denethor (2r) for Erebor Hammersmith (returns Miruvor from deck 2’s discard pile).
Deck 2 (Thalin=2r, Legolas=2r, Dunhere =2r): Dunhere (1r) for Miruvor on Dain. Warden of healing heals Dunhere and Thalin, Denethor (2r) readies Warden of healing, Warden heals Legolas and Ithilien guardian, Bifur (2r) to ready Warden.
QUESTING PHASE: Quest with everybody except Warden of healing (Dain: discard Miruvor to ready/+1r; Arwen gives +1def/sentinel to Dain) (=24qp).
STAGING PHASE: Bifur (1r) for Expecting mischief. 1. Morgul spider (3thr, 1 dmg Thalin + 2 dmg Expecting mischief), 2. Overgrown trail (4thr). THREAT 24:7, final quest stage clear.


Third session report: A new devilry
In the final featured round (challenge game no.6 ), we are up against with one of the most evil encounter card combinations this scenario has to offer. Thalin and a couple of allies will meet their fate when they face Mumak . And this time, Gandalf won’t be there to make up for it…

Initial card draw:
Deck 1 - Ithilien tracker, Shadow of the past, Gleowine, Erebor Hammersmith, Radagast’s cunning, Proctector of Lorien. Cards a little above average, probably I should have kept them. Instead, I went for a mulligan: Expecting mischief, Shadow of the past, Fresh tracks, Sneak attack, Gleowine, Protector of Lorien.
Deck 2 - 2x Light of Valinor, Khazad!Khazad!, A test of will, Gandalf, Hail of stones. Same thing here: In the game before this one, I couldn’t accumulate that much attack strength against the staging area, so I wanted some stronger combo possibilities like Great yew bow and Light of Valinor or Miruvor and Unseen strike. Again, I guess I should have stuck to the first draw. Mulligan: Arwen, Foehammer, Rivendell blade, Hail of stones, Khazad! Khazad!, Test of will.

Round 1: Threat 26x/26.
RESOURCE PHASE: Deck 1 draws Ranger spikes, Deck 2 draws Hasty stroke.
Denethor peeks at Blocking wargs; put under deck.
PLANNING PHASE: Deck 1 (Dain=1r, Bifur=1r, Denethor=1r): Denethor (1r), Bifur (1r) for Ranger spikes.
Deck 2 (Thalin=1r, Legolas=1r, Dunhere =1r): nothing.
QUESTING PHASE: Dain, Bifur, Thalin, Legolas, Celador (=10qp).
STAGING PHASE: 1. Forest bat (1thr; Thalin autokill), 2. Southron support. Threat 29/29, Dunhere (1r) for A test of will. THREAT 10:6 clears active location.
COMBAT PHASE: Dunhere att Southron company I (2 dmg)


Round 2: Threat 30/30x.
RESOURCE PHASE: Deck 1 draws Proctector of Lorien, Deck 2 draws Feint. We’ll wait and see how the game evolves before we decide on where to attach the two Protectors.
Denethor peeks at Watcher in the woods; put under deck. Legolas (1r) pays Bifur.
PLANNING PHASE: Deck 2 (Thalin=2r, Legolas=1r, Dunhere =1r): nothing.
Deck 1 (Dain=2r, Bifur=2r, Denethor=1r): Bifur (2r) for Gleowine. Gleowine exhausts, player 2 draws Hasty stroke.
QUESTING PHASE: Dain, Bifur, Thalin, Legolas, Celador (=10qp).
STAGING PHASE: 1. Ithilien road (4thr), 2. Mumak (4thr). This is one of the few encounter card combinations you never want to see. If you draw it this early, a loss becomes quite probable. Besides, we don’t have Gandalf the new in hand. If there were no other enemies in the staging area, we could play Fresh tracks and travel to Ithilien road, but in this case, there is almost no cure except getting to stage 3 as fast as possible. However, this will be hard to accomplish because we don’t have many quest point/attack boosting cards in our hands, which in turn makes it harder to keep Celador alive.
Khazad! Khazad! on Thalin, THREAT 13:14 (player threat 31/31), 1 dmg on Celador.
COMBAT PHASE: Dunhere att Southron company I (4 dmg).


Round 3: Threat 32x/32.
RESOURCE PHASE: Deck 1 draws Secret paths, Deck 2 draws Gondolin blade.
Denethor peeks at Southron mercenaries; it stays. Thalin (1r) pays Bifur. Gleowine exhausts, player 2 draws Light of Valinor (when Deck 1 is the first player, you can exhaust Gleowine at the beginning of the round as long as we have a way to deal with a revealed Southron Elite or Morgul spider (e.g. Ranger spikes, Fresh tracks, non-exhausted Dain). If we don’t, Gleowine should be exhausted at the end of the round in case we need a chump blocker.
PLANNING PHASE: Deck 1 (Dain=3r, Bifur=2r, Denethor=2r): Nothing.
Deck 2 (Thalin=2r, Legolas=2r, Dunhere =2r): Dunhere (2r) for Arwen, Legolas (1r) for Hail of stones (Arwen exhausts to kill Southron company I).
QUESTING PHASE: Denethor (1r) for Expecting mischief. Quest with Dain, Bifur, Thalin, Legolas, Celador (=10qp).
STAGING PHASE: 1. Southron mercenaries (2thr, Ranger spikes =0thr, 1 dmg Thalin, 2dmg Expecting mischief, Dain (1r) for Fresh tracks kills Southron mercenaries. Ranger spikes are wasted now, but we can’t help it), 2. Overgrown trail (4thr). Denethor (1r) for Secret paths on Overgrown trail (thr=0). THREAT 10:11 (player threat 33/33), 1 dmg on Celador (2 total).
TRAVEL PHASE: Overgrown trail
COMBAT PHASE: Dunhere att Southron company (2 dmg).

Round 4: Threat 34/34x.
RESOURCE PHASE: Deck 1 draws Erebor Hammersmith, Deck 2 draws Miruvor.
Denethor peeks at Lost companion; it stays. Thalin (1r) pays Bifur.
PLANNING PHASE: Deck 2 (Thalin=2r, Legolas=2r, Dunhere =1r): Dunhere (1r) for Light of Valinor on Legolas Legolas (2r) for Blade of Gondolin and Rivendell blade on Legolas.
Deck 1 (Dain=3r, Bifur=4r, Denethor=1r): Denethor (1r), Bifur (1r) for Erebor Hammersmith (returns Ranger spikes from deck 1), Bifur (2r) for Ranger spikes. Dain (2r) for Shadow on the past (returns Southron mercenaries).
QUESTING PHASE: Quest with Bifur, Thalin, Legolas, Dunhere, Arwen (gives +1def/sentinel to Dain), Erebor Hammersmith, Gleowine, Celador (=14qp).
STAGING PHASE: 1. Southron mercenaries (2thr; 1 dmg Thalin; Spikes = 0thr), 2. Lost companion (remove Gleowine, Arwen). THREAT 14:11, THREE pt on active location.
ENGAGEMENT PHASE: Player 1 engages Southron company.
COMBAT PHASE: 2 archery damage on Dunhere. It is tempting to let Dain defend against Southron company, but we couldn’t stand a shadow card that removes progress tokens (let alone att +3). Although Feint would also be very valuable for one “free” combat round against Mumak, it is too early to go for broke. Thalin (1r) for Feint (shadow card=Ithilien guardian). Legolas kills Southron company, Gondolin blade and Legolas clear active location. Exhaust Rivendell blade for Foehammer: draw Vassal of the windlord, Quick strike, Hail of stones.

Round 5: Threat 35x/35.
RESOURCE PHASE: Deck 1 draws Fresh tracks, Deck 2 draws Rivendell blade.
Denethor peeks at Blocking wargs; put under deck. Dain (1r) pays Bifur. Gleowine exhausts, player 2 draws Unseen strike.
PLANNING PHASE: Deck 1 (Dain=1r, Bifur=3r, Denethor=1r): nothing.
Deck 2 (Thalin=2r, Legolas=1r, Dunhere =1r): Dunhere (1r) for Miruvor on Dain, Legolas (1r) for Vasall of the windlord.
QUESTING PHASE: Quest with Dain (discard Miruvor : readies/+1r), Bifur, Thalin, Legolas, Arwen (gives +1def/sentinel to Dain), Erebor Hammersmith, Vassal of the windlord, Celador (=18qp).
STAGING PHASE: 1. Forest bat (1thr; Thalin autokill), 2. Blocking wargs (kill Vasall, Celador (-5 qp), other questers 1 dmg each) – our dream of getting to stage 3 to deal with Ithilien road ends here. 3. Secluded glade. THREAT 13:11, TWO pt on quest card.
TRAVEL PHASE: Secluded glade. Even though we plan to have Legolas kill Southron mercenaries, it’s still better to travel to secluded glade now than leave it in the staging area.
ENGAGEMENT PHASE: Player 2 engages Southron mercenaries (Ranger spikes are discarded).
COMBAT PHASE: 2 archery damage on Denethor, Thalin. Dain (sentinel) defends against Southron mercenaries, shadow card=Watcher in the woods (threat player 2=36). Legolas kills Southron mercenaries (no pt are put on Secluded glade because it is immune). Do not use Unseen strike on Dunhere here to damage Mumak; you won’t kill it most of the times, and you will need all cards available for Protector of Lorien in the siege stages.

Round 6: Threat 36/37x.
RESOURCE PHASE: Deck 1 draws Rumour from the earth, Deck 2 draws Arwen. Denethor (1r) for Rumour from the earth: peeks at Southron mercenaries. We need any questing points available, and because we have plenty of lore resources, Rumour from the earth is a better choice at the moment than Denethor (it may still be inevitable that we use his unique ability after peeking with Rumour from the earth). Thalin (1r) pays Bifur. Gleowine exhausts, player 2 draws Black arrow.
PLANNING PHASE: Deck 2 (Thalin=2r, Legolas=1r, Dunhere =1r): Black arrow on Legolas .
Deck 1 (Dain=3r, Bifur=5r, Denethor=1r): Denethor (1r) for Protector of Lorien on Denethor. Now that we have Rumour from the earth in hand, Denethor can sometimes stay ready to be prepared for Southron elite (both copies are still in the deck) or he can just quest. Attaching Proctector of Lorien to Dain is worse because if he had to defend against Southron elite, he would have to exhaust, meaning we would lose about four questing points. The second reason why it should go on Denethor is that in case he stayed ready and isn’t needed as a defender, we can still use his unique ability.
QUESTING PHASE: Quest with Bifur, Thalin, Legolas, Erebor Hammersmith, Dunhere, Denethor (=13qp).
STAGING PHASE: 1. Southron mercenaries (2thr; 1 dmg Thalin), 2. Forest bats(1thr, Thalin autokill).
THREAT 13:10, active location clear.
TRAVEL PHASE: Ithilien road. Finally, after six rounds and 2(!) pt on the first quest card, the time has come to clear the staging area and try to race through the remaining stages before archery damage and/or Mumak will kill us. We can sacrifice Arwen twice against Mumak, and if we don’t draw another ally or Feint, we may have to sacrifice a hero as well. There are some dangerous cards left in the encounter deck: The second copy of Southron support would reshuffle the cards we put under the encounter deck with Denethor (2 Blocking wargs, Watcher in the woods), and there are still 2 copies of Southron Elite which are terrible both as encounter cards and shadow cards. We may also have to deal with the last copy of Blocking wargs and some location card shadow effects which remove progress tokens (good thing we still have 2 copies of Hasty stroke in hand). Still, it needs a bit of luck to win this round.
ENGAGEMENT PHASE: Player 2 engages Mumak, Southron mercenaries engage player 2. Legolas (1r) for Quick strike on Legolas (kills Southron mercenaries, Gondolin blade and Legolas put 3 pt on active location).
COMBAT PHASE: Arwen defends against Mumak (shadow card=Southron company), Arwen is killed.

Round 7: Threat 37x/38.
RESOURCE PHASE: Deck 1 draws Ranger spikes, Deck 2 draws Veteran Axehand. Bifur(1r) for Rumour from the earth: peeks at Southron mercenaries. Gleowine exhausts, player 1 draws Radagast’s cunning.
PLANNING PHASE: Deck 1 (Dain=4r, Bifur=5r, Denethor=1r): Denethor (1r), Bifur (1r) for Ranger spikes.
Deck 2 (Thalin=3r, Legolas=1r, Dunhere =2r): Thalin (2r) for Veteran Axehand, Dunhere (2r) for Arwen.
QUESTING PHASE: Quest with Bifur, Thalin, Legolas, Dunhere, Erebor Hammersmith, Veteran Axehand (=15qp).
STAGING PHASE: 1. Southron mercenaries (2thr; 1 dmg Thalin, Ranger spikes (thr=0), 2. Southron Elite (3thr, 1 dmg Thalin, Dain (1r) for Fresh tracks (2dmg on Southron Elite). Elite attacks, Denethor defends, shadow card =Morgul spider, discard Sneak attack for Protector of Lorien to give Denethor +1 defense. Legolas (1r) for Hail of stones, Legolas exhausts to kill Southron Elite. THREAT 15:0, active location and quest stage 1 clear. We have to peek now with Rumour from the earth (Bifur (1r) because we must know if we can safely put 1 archery damage on Arwen (we won’t do it if the shadow card will be Blocking wargs). Rumour from the earth peeks at Overgrown trail.
COMBAT PHASE: 4 archery damage on Gleowine, Arwen, Legolas, Erebor Hammersmith (remember that we always try to keep our questing heroes’ damage on [total hitpoints -2] as long as at least one copy of Blocking wargs is in the encounter deck. Arwen defends against Mumak (shadow card=Overgrown trail), Arwen is killed.

Round 8: Threat 38/39x.
RESOURCE PHASE: Deck 1 draws Dunedain Mark, Deck 2 draws Khazad! Khazad! Bifur(1r) for Rumour from the earth: peeks at Southron Elite. Dain (1r) pays Bifur.
PLANNING PHASE: Deck 2 (Thalin=2r, Legolas=1r, Dunhere =1r): Nothing.
Deck 1 (Dain=3r, Bifur=4r, Denethor=1r): Denethor (1r) for Protector of Lorien on Legolas.
QUESTING PHASE: Quest with Dain, Bifur, Denethor, Thalin, Legolas, Dunhere, Erebor Hammersmith (=13qp).
STAGING PHASE: 1. Southron elite (3thr; 1 dmg Thalin, att Veteran axehand, shadow card=Southron company, Veteran axehand dead, 2. Secluded glade (3thr). Bifur (1r) for Radagast’s cunning on Southron Elite (thr=0). THREAT 13:3, quest stage 2 clear.
TRAVEL PHASE: We won’t travel to Secluded glade because Legolas is going to kill Southron Elite. Besides, our next card draw could be Hands upon the bow, which together with Thalin could immediately kill a revealed enemy (Morgul spider). Secluded glade as an active location would prevent us from putting progress tokens on it in both cases because it is immune to player card effects.
ENGAGEMENT PHASE: Player 1 engages Southron elite. Bifur (1r) for Rumour from the earth: peeks at Blocking wargs.
COMBAT PHASE: 2 archery damage on Bifur, Dain. Who is going to defend vs. Mumak now? Dunhere provides access to two Hasty strokes if needed, Thalin is a little better at siege questing than Dunhere and may combo with a sneaked Gandalf or Hands upon the bow next round to kill a morgul spider. Legolas must be kept to kill Southron Elite for +3pt. Against the Elite, we don’t fear any of the remaining shadow effects (which remove progress tokens), but let’s hope the last Ithilien ranger is not wasted as a shadow card. The best choice will be to have Dunhere killed (you can either let this attack go undefended and let him take the damage, or have him defend).
Dunhere defends against Mumak (shadow card=Blocking wargs (1 dmg on Dunhere), Dunhere is killed. Southron elite attacks Gleowine , shadow card=Southron support, Gleowine is killed. Legolas kills Southron Elite, Gondolin blade and Legolas put 3 pt on quest card.
Both shadow card draws were lucky, because we don’t want to see these cards as normal encounter cards.
The setup looks good now: There are only 2 Morgul spiders, 1 Forest bat, 1 Secluded glade, 1 Overgrown trail, 1 Lost companion and 1 Ithilien Guardian to draw from the encounter deck (not counting the 2 Blocking wargs and 1 Watcher in the woods which we put under the deck). With 2 copies of Protector of Lorien and being able to discard 5-6 cards, we will win against most encounter card combinations now. It is also possible that we draw some good cards, e.g. Durin’s song, Gandalf, Ranger spikes, Ithilien tracker, Gildor’s counsil or Winged Guardian.

Round 9: Threat 41x/42.
RESOURCE PHASE: Deck 1 draws Durin’s song, Deck 2 draws Winged guardian. This draw gives us more questing power than we actually need.
Bifur(1r) for Rumour from the earth: peeks at Ithilien Guardian.
PLANNING PHASE: Deck 2 (Thalin=3r, Legolas=2r): Legolas (2r) for Winged guardian.
Deck 1 (Dain=4r, Bifur=2r, Denethor=2r): nothing.
QUESTING PHASE: Quest with Dain (Dain (1r) for Durin’s song for Dain), Bifur, Denethor, Thalin, Legolas, Erebor Hammersmith, Winged guardian, player 1 discards Dunedain mark, Rumour from the earth for Protector of Lorien (+2qp), Player 2 discards Khazad! Khazad!, Hasty stroke and Rivendell blade for Protector of Lorien (+3 qp) (=23qp).
STAGING PHASE: 1. Ithilien guardian (+2 qp), 2. Morgul spider, 3. Lost companion (remove Thalin, Erebor hammersmith). THREAT 22:6, final quest stage clear.


Result of the challenge: During the challenge, the Southrons were only able to pull off a single win against these two decks. The score was 10:1. I had been leading 9:0 when an early Southron Elite with the Shadow card being another Southron Elite (Enemy attacks again) killed off a hero and finally got the best of me.

Some notes about the other games:
I was always able to clear Ithilien Road in the first round.
I had to enter quest stage 2 two times due to Celador death.
In two games, quest stage 4 didn’t turn into siege after the round I entered it.
Average number of rounds in stage 1/stage 3/stage 4: 3/2/2 (stage always checked at the beginning of a round)
I lost a hero three times, due to multiple attacks of Haradrim elite, direct damage from multiple copies of Blocking wargs and raw Mumak power.
6 of the games were relatively easy wins, the games no. 3 and 6 (game reviews 2 and 3) were the closest.
1 of the games brought up a location flood (7/5/7/7 threat in the first four rounds) which was at least as nasty as an enemy flood. This was the second game that took me 9 rounds, especially Secret paths was of great help here.
In 3 of the 10 games, Dunhere (with Unseen strike/Dunedain mark, sometimes also with readying options) and/or Legolas with Great Yew bow killed enemies left and right and kept the staging area clean after almost every round.
Lost companion never removed all of the questers because I had two characters quest per hand nearly every single quest phase.
As you can see from the session reviews, the encounter card drawing wasn’t extraordinarily lucky, so the decks were really put to a test.

I definitely think that these decks with their balance between encounter deck control and staging area attack can stand a good chance against other scenarios, especially those with a couple of high threat enemies. Maybe I’m going to adjust them for Siege of Cair Andros shortly. I recommend that you try out these decks yourself and further fine-tune them, they make Into Ithilien one of the most enjoyable quests ever.



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Mark Judd
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Nice, but this belongs in the Heirs of Númenor - Sessions forum.
 
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Liam
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Moved from The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game to Heirs of Númenor.

Good write up - thanks for sharing.
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jakub praibis
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I posted my sessions some weeks ago, I think I took a similar approach, spying and direct damage, though without the Snipers (which is perhaps my favourite strategy right now). At best, I won 8 out of 10 games. I think I was cool for not using Dain, haha, as you're cool doing it without Glorfindel.

Now, how do your decks do against other quests? Because mine kinda sucked elsewhere, and it was why I abandoned them.

ps: I could not get through the whole reports but I saw first round for each. I am not sure these could have been the most interesting games of the bunch since you got Forest Bat - the win in the lottery card of the quest whilst using Thalin - in two of the three quests on round 1 (probably the most important round). From my experience, having that card on round 1 was rather rare, and by far the best thing that could have happened, and those games were easiest as a rule.
 
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I agree with you, Forest bat is a most crucial card to draw. Basically, I included game 1 to illustrate a round where you have access to both snipers, not taking into account the encounter deck draw very much. However, I didn't find it much harder to deal with most of the other encounter cards in the first round. The cards which did make games real difficult, on the other hand, were Mumak, Southron support and sometimes Southron elite. That's why I included two games with an relatively early Mumak draw to show that this card is by no means a game killer, whether you can put Gandalf the new into play or not. The third game nearly emptied the encounter deck, but I was lucky to draw 3 of the Forest bats as encounter cards. But the encounter deck balanced that fact with the combo draw Mumak/Ithilien road, I guess laugh
 
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jakub praibis
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Yeah, those you mentioned I feared the most too. I was playing a secrecy deck (one of the pair) to get initial help with Risk Some Light, that or Gildor's Counsel was usually the best opening hand. Or cards like Expecting Mischief when knowing the Elites were coming.
Vassal is great but not that much with Wargs around.
Have you not considered Goblin-Cleaver (instead of Swift Strike, for instance) running quite a few weapons?
 
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Yeah, I'd say Goblin-cleaver will be one of the cards I'll include if I find some cards that don't prove powerful enough in the long run. Goblin-cleaver's zero cost is very nice, but maybe I would stick to Swift strike, too, because it is a response and can be played against Southron elite in the staging area to kill them (together with Thalin's damage) before they do their first attack. Risk some light and a (few) round(s) of secrecy is a nice idea!
 
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The secrecy deck had Glorfindel, Bifur, Denethor; once I got Elrond's Counsel, it was easy to stay in secrecy longer (with Dwarven Tomb as a back-up) but the only secrecy card I was running was Risk Some Light; even resourceful didn't make the cut, since I was busy putting in cards to deal with all the challenges and resources were hardly a problem. Now that I think about it, perhaps O Elbereth! Gilthoniel! would be a card to deal with the Mumak, I cannot recall what his threat is now (32, 34, 36?) but maybe it would be worth it.
 
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jakub praibis
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One question, in quite a few cases I notice you quest with Dain, Bifur, Thalin (for 5 attack strength), instead you could keep Dain ready to accumulate the same. Is it because of the Lost Companion?
 
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Yes, as soon as I have somebody else to commit, I'll keep Dain ready (I think I wrote it somewhere in the strategy article).
 
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