The Elf-Lord Glorfindel stands gazing south along the river. His golden hair blows slightly in the breeze and his eyes are bright and distant.
The Anduin weaves, broad and slow, between the banks that separate the borders of Mirkwood from the foothills of the Misty Mountains. The Company has escaped from Mirkwood, but the journey to Lorien will take them along its borders and within the territory of the goblins that lurk in the hills.
Glorfindel turns his head and watches the twin Elf-princes Elladan and Elrohir stride up the bank to where he awaits at the forest edge. Their ranger cloaks are damp and weariness shows on their faces.
“We have been several leagues up and down the river,” says Elladan.
“There are Orc tracks and trails of Wargs,” says Elrohir.
“Also one large footprint, and a set of smaller prints, ones we did not recognise,” adds Elladan.
“We saw no marks of spiders,” finishes Elrohir.
He looks over his shoulder at the dank and murky tree-line, then turns back towards the river gleaming like crystal in the sunlight.
“I mislike the thought of Yrch-kind befouling the Great Anduin,” he says, “but Orcs and Wargs are easily handled. Come, let us make haste to the South. Lorien is many leagues ahead of us.”
The Company sets forth along the river bank. Here the waters run clear and bright, with reeds and water-rushes whispering against the flow. Sunny butterflies and metallic hover-beetles spin above the eddies, and sparrows and flit-wings swoop back and forth among the willows.
Elladan says to Elrohir, “This river refreshes me. Mirkwood is a forest not meant for Elven-kind.”
“Contrariwise,” Elrohir replies, “The Wood-Elves of King Thranduil reside there happily.”
“Nohow,” says Elladan, “Thranduil’s realm is far to the North, on the upper borders of the forest, even beyond the Forest River. Here we are by the main body of the forest, close to the fastness of Dol Guldur and its corruption.”
“It is so,” Elrohir says, “Mayhap our message to Lorien concerns the Necromancer.”
Elladan agrees, “Of late there have been tales of the Necromancer calling on new and evil creatures to do his bidding.”
Elrohir pauses, “That one track you came across, the single large footprint. Do you think…”
Elladan looks at the landscape around them, “It was near here that we found it.”
There is a crash amongst the trees higher up the bank and a guttural roar echoes across the valley.
Up ahead, Glorfindel is calling for the company to run. Elladan and Elrohir draw their swords.
The Hill Troll stands looming against the skyline. A pack of Wargs run around its legs. The troll kicks at them.
“It has not seen us!” says Elladan, running for the bend in the river.
“Indeed,” gasps Elrohir at his side, “But I fear the Wargs do not need to see.”
Even as he speaks, the leader of the Warg pack sniffs the air and plunges down the slope after them. The twins turn and face the approaching pack.
Elrohir blocks the leader with his shield. The impact shudders down his arm and the wolf snarls and prepares to leap again. Suddenly, a shrill whistle pierces through the howls and the pack turns and lopes up the bank towards a new figure high on the hillside. Its helmet decorated with wolf claws and fangs, the Orc Beastmaster commands the Wargs to attack the main body of the Company.
Elrohir, his sword and shield flashing in the sun, intercepts the Warg leader and strikes boldly at its flank. Glorfindel stands before the the charging wolves and readies his blade.
Snarls and cries, clangs and strikes echo across the river. Great is the fury of the battle and at last the wolves lie slain and the Orc Beastmaster is felled.
Quiet settles on the Banks of the Anduin. Elladan bandages a wolf bite on his brother’s arm. Glorfindel surveys the bodies of the enemy.
“It is as I foresaw,” he says, “Orcs and Wargs are easily dealt with.”
He glances up at the hilltop. There is no sign of the Troll.
“The same cannot be said for their large friend,” he says, “The light is failing. If we can reach the outer borders of Lorien we shall be safe.”
The Company gathers their packs and presses South. Dark flocks of evil crows block the sun and seem to follow their path. The entire party grows nervous, constantly looking over their shoulders. Finally, their fears are realised when the Troll leaps out from behind a boulder, waving a tree-limb as a club and crying out for meat.
A Defender of Rammas valiantly attempts to block it with his spear and falls crushed by the club. His sacrifice frees the three Elves to attack and, knowing a swift strike is the only way to victory, Glorfindel, Elladan and Elrohir charge the beast. Three blades flash and three blows connect. The Troll staggers back and roars in pain and anger. Its mighty club swings again and another foot-soldier falls.
Seeing this, the Elf-lords shout as one and hurl themselves on the monster. It dies with a blood-curdling scream that echoes from the mountains.
“Hurry,” says Glorfindel, “There is no telling what foul creatures may be drawn by that cry.”
“Indeed,” says a voice behind them, “or what friends may appear!”
The wizard leans on his staff and smiles, “Well met, indeed! It would seem our paths cross for a while. I, too, have business in Lorien.”
Elladan says to Elrohir, “Our paths could have crossed sooner. A wizard’s timing leaves much to be desired!”
Gandalf’s eyes bristle beneath his brows, “My missions are my own. You would do well to remember that!”
He strides off down the path. The rest of the Company follow him. Glorfindel shakes his head.
The sun is beginning to set but they are making good progress down the river despite the bleakness of the marshes and heaths. The crows are no longer following them, and Gandalf keeps their spirits up with tales of old.
Finally, they spy the edge of the forest of Lorien in the distance.
“We have only to reach the borders and our journey is over,” says Glorfindel.
“Then you shall have to get through me!” calls a loud voice, “I am Chieftain Ufthak of Mordor, and I shall chew on your bones!”
The mighty Orc Leader and a band of Dol Guldur Orcs pounce on the Company in a sudden ambush. Faster than anyone else can react, Gandalf springs to the front and there is a blinding flash of light and the Orcs are staggered. They swing their crooked swords blindly, lashing out around them, but the Company closes in and they are quickly slain.
With all enemies dead, the way is clear to Lorien. As the sun sets and a golden glow settles on the trees, the Company passes into the safety of the woods.
Glorfindel looks back at the Great River as it streams by, oblivious to the dramas occurring on its banks. Wars and conflicts come and go, but the Anduin flows ever on.
Man, this adventure is tough!
I swear I must have tried it ten times, with various tweaks to my deck.
I kept drawing a second Hill Troll in the first or second turn. Or certainly before I had killed the first one.
Chump-blocking with allies wasn’t effective, as this just pushed my threat up high enough so that every enemy that came along attacked immediately. Plus losing allies just reduces my questing ability.
Several times I killed two early trolls fairly easily, but this reduced my ranks too much for me to keep up with the locations and secondary enemies that came along twice as fast in the second stage. (You draw two encounter cards per turn instead of one).
Also I kept getting caught out by the combo of The Brown Lands and The East Bight. The East Bight forces itself to become the active location and is hard to explore, meanwhile The Brown Lands has a huge threat making it impossible to make progress on the active East Bight.
Once I had two Goblin Snipers in play. You can’t engage and attack a Goblin Sniper if there is another enemy also in staging, so you can’t attack either of them. Each turn they ping away for two damage, killing everyone one by one.
Eventually I relied on having only one Hill Troll to deal with, blocking with Gandalf for a turn (I never ever had a feint handy) and attacking with everything I had using the Rivendell Blade to push past the Troll’s defences.
Then it just became a race to explore the locations and put progress on the main quest. I used the West Road Traveller to bust through any annoying locations.
Playing with one deck, I won’t try the third scenario in the Core Set because it starts out with one of your heroes captured. With only three heroes, this is too much of a handicap. This adventure should really be played with two players and two decks (with six heroes). I may try this later if I put together a pair of decks. One person playing ‘two-handed’ is apparently a good way to play the game, anyway.
For now, the Three Elves and Company are going to explore the Mines of Moria, also known as Khazad-Dum.