Even though Passage Through Mirkwood has a scenario difficulty rating of 1 (dead easy; as far as I can tell, the ratings could go up to ten, nightmare hard), I’ve had problems getting through it in solo mode. This is due to several factors:
Not playing as conservatively as I should be. Very, very important.
Luck. Shadow effects especially, but an early Caught in a Web can seriously impede your game.
Not mitigating said luck enough. The pre-constructed Tactics and Spirit decks in the Core Set are really support decks and work best in group play; solo, they’re easy to screw up either by my own blundering or through bad luck.
Some important abilities in the Tactics and Spirits decks (the Ranged and Sentinel keywords in Tactics, as well as Wandering Took in Spirit) can only be used in team play.
Previously I had constructed a 30-card Tactics/Spirit deck that won handily, but I realized that its ease in winning was due to its low card count. There’s a reason why tournament decks require a minimum of 50 cards. Oops.
So I tried out another deck, which did quite poorly and which I took apart, and then constructed the current deck, which has actually won both games it was involved in. And in solo play, that’s saying a lot. The second game (which I actually kept track of) scored a low 39 points. I suspect this deck wouldn’t survive the second scenario in the Core Set, but at least it survived this one quite handily. With changes to the group play abilities, which will be covered after the deck list.
And so now, the still unnamed deck:
Heroes (Threat: 27)
– Éowyn (Spirit)
– Legolas (Tactics)
– Thalin (Tactics)
Allies (20 cards)
– 2x Gandalf
– 3x Lórien Guide
– 1x Northern Tracker
– 3x Wandering Took
– 2x Beorn
– 3x Gondorian Spearman
– 3x Horseback Rider
– 3x Veteran Axehand
Attachments (7 cards)
– 2x Unexpected Courage
– 3x Blade of Gondolin
– 2x Citadel Plate
Events (23 cards)
– 2x Fortune or Fate
– 2x The Galadhrim’s Greeting
– 2x Hasty Stroke
– 2x A Light in the Dark
– 3x Strength of Will (might trade out one for another Galadhrim’s Greeting)
– 2x A Test of Will
– 2x Blade Mastery
– 3x Feint
– 3x Quick Stroke
– 2x Rain of Arrows (may trade one out for another Blade Mastery)
This deck is very event-heavy, and I may want to trade out some events for more attachments, especially in the realm of Spirit. I think two Strength of Will can be easily substituted with Favor of the Lady or even Power in the Earth, but it’s hard to beat a 0-cost event. But given Treachery cards that discard events in Passage Through Mirkwood, so many events doesn’t seem wise.
And now, my modified card abilities and keywords:
In group play, characters with the keyword Sentinel can defend other players. Not happening in solo. So what captures the ability of suddenly having a defender you didn’t have before? I decided to follow Magic: The Gathering:
Sentinel: character does not have to exhaust to defend.
This isn’t overpowered in this deck, as Gondorian Spearman has only 1 hit point. I suspect other Sentinel characters also have lowered hit points due to their ability in group play.
In group play, characters with the keyword Ranged can attack for other players. Also not happening in solo. What captures the essence of suddenly having an attacker you didn’t have before?
Ranged: character can be declared as a single attacker before an engaged enemy attacks.
To keep this keyword from being overpowered, I decided that Ranged characters can’t all attack as a united group, thus overwhelming the enemy’s defense and preventing even more Shadow Effects from happening. This still made a huge difference in mitigating Shadow Effects in combat, almost a necessity when dealing with enemies that can pull out two Shadow Effects instead of just one.
- Wandering Took
In group play, you can give Wandering Took to another player to raise their threat by 3 and lower yours by 3. It’s an interestingly balanced card; this way, group threat is not reduced, but one player can direct enemy attention they can’t handle to another player who can.
I decided this captures the essence of that ability’s effect in group play:
Action: Exhaust Wandering Took to place a progress token on Wandering Took to lower your threat by 3. This character cannot ready through any effects or phases as long as a progress token is on it.
Action: Remove progress token from Wandering Took to raise your threat by 3.
It’s rather long-winded, and I don’t have a better unambiguous way of describing this ability. It’s the kind of long-winded description that one might partially encapsulate in a keyword. But I’m no designer.
The next step for this deck would be taking on Journey Down the Anduin, which sounds rather difficult actually.