QUEST PROFILE 002
Journey Along the Anduin
QUEST PROFILE: Journey Along the Anduin: Being the Second Adventure of the Core Set
ORIGINAL RELEASE: April 20, 2011
WHICH ONE WAS THAT? That one where you start with a 30 engagement cost Hill Troll in the staging area and end with a big combat phase against all the enemies you couldn’t optionally engage while questing down the river.
COMPLETE SCENARIO DECKLIST: (47 encounter cards + 3 quest cards)
WHERE DOES IT HAPPEN? This scenario covers more ground than literally every other quest in the game. The locations included in the encounter deck span a sweeping stretch of Wilderland beginning in northern Mirkwood (as deep in the woods as the Enchanted Stream!) and continuing south along the river through the storied Gladden Fields as far as the barren Brown Lands beyond Mirkwood near the Emyn Muil.
The travel phase gets a bit nonsensical in this one as our heroes may find themselves traversing nearly 500 miles of Middle-earth multiple times as they go back and forth between the forest and the river on their way to Lothlórien. Check out the locations from this scenario placed on the map at Master of Lore’s LOTR LCG Atlas.
WHAT HAPPENS? We are still trying to deliver that “urgent message for Lady Galadriel” we picked up from King Thranduil at the beginning of the previous quest. But if our journey is to finally arrive at her kingdom in the golden woods of Lórien, we must pass perilously near to Dol Guldur, a sinister stronghold of foul orcs and treachery.
NOVEL INSPIRATION: The Fellowship of the Ring Book I Chapter IX “The Great River”
BEST ARTWORK: There have been six special art sleeves released by Fantasy Flight Games for the Lord of the Rings LCG and one of those pieces was first featured in this encounter deck. Available as the “Nazgul” sleeve design on FFG’s website, this painting by Matthew Starbuck is featured on the Pursued by Shadow treachery card. Presumably this is one of the three Ringwraiths stationed at Dol Guldur by Sauron, swooping over the River Anduin on his fell beast (assuming they had access to their winged steeds even before losing their horses at Fords of Bruinen).
Notice how the art director flipped Mr. Starbuck’s image for the card and sleeve. In visual storytelling, hero characters traditionally move from left to right, while villains move right to left (impeding natural progress). Do you think that makes the original look more menacing? Either way, it’s an awesome illustration!
MY OWN WORST ENEMY: In an encounter deck where only 18 of 47 encounter cards (38%) have a shadow effect, these otherwise generic Wargs can be positively infuriating! Aren’t you glad that the designers started putting shadow effects on location cards after the core set? Oh wait…
Another “worst enemy” situation can occur if you reveal a second Hill Troll in the first couple rounds of staging. It seems to happen more often than it should with such a thick encounter deck, doesn’t it? Don’t worry though. If you have a strategy to take on one, why not two?
MUST CANCEL TREACHERY: Remember when treacheries could whiff? Depending on how high your threat dial has climbed, the Evil Storm is either completely harmless or a supernatural disaster that leaves you longing for the relative sweetness of The Necromancer’s Reach!
GO TO YOUR HAPPY PLACE: Especially for a solo player, the Banks of the Anduin can provide for a relatively easy journey through Stage 2B if you have no enemies engaged. Just sit back in your raft, grab a chilled flask of miruvor, and watch the world float by.
MOST OBSCURE LORE: Not only is it the most unlikely place our heroes would travel to in a “Journey Along the Anduin”, but it is also the only location in this scenario whose name appears nowhere in The Hobbit or Lord of the Rings. For that reason, I’m glad we do get to go there in this quest, however implausible!
The East Bight refers to “the great indentation in the eastern border of Mirkwood”. The space was simply left blank on the map originally printed in The Lord of the Rings in 1954 but was given its name in 1980 when Christopher Tolkien published The Unfinished Tales.
In Unfinished Tales, the previously unnamed region is mentioned in the history of “Cirion and Eorl” which gives the origin story of Rohan and explains who put this awful dent in the forest. Writing about the Éothéod, the ancestors of the Rohirrim, Tolkien states:
They were a remnant of the Northmen, who had formerly been a numerous and powerful confederation of peoples living in the wide plains between Mirkwood and the River Running, great breeders of horses and riders renowned for their skill and endurance, though their settled homes were in the eaves of the Forest, and especially in the East Bight, which had largely been made by their felling of trees.
The Éothéod eventually emigrated from this deforested region after the Steward of Gondor gifted them the land of Calenardhon (afterwards named Rohan) for their aid in war against the Easterlings about 500 years before the events of Lord of the Rings. Since then, the East Bight has remained empty and desolate. I wonder if King Elessar made Éomer reforest this wasteland after the War of Ring. Aragorn does like replanting trees after all!
DECK-BUILDING TIPS: You need a Hill Troll strategy. In the past couple years, it could be as simple including Beregond and his Gondorian Shield, but before 2013 a limited card pool required us to get creative. With the Hill Troll engaging once your threat reaches 30 and other effects like Evil Storm getting pretty diabolical after 35, keeping your threat down can make for a smooth journey.
MY MOST MEMORABLE PLAYTHROUGH: This is hard to pin down as I’ve probably played this quest more than any other in the game. It’s easily the strongest quest of the Core Set and gained traction in the community as a sandbox for field testing new decks since it offers an early punch, the need for a big quest push in the middle, and a final battle with a swarm of enemies. Do you want to know if your new deck is well-rounded? Give it a try on “Journey Along the Anduin”.
I used to keep a handwritten journal of my playthroughs, and unearthed some notes of one particular evening in April 2013 in which I played this quest solo 11 consecutive times to fine tune a deck called “Cheap Bag of Tricks”. That’s memorable not only because I still count that deck as one of my favorites, but because it reminds me of what my life was like before beginning my marriage and master’s program. I offer this observation without commentary.
OTHER MASTER OF LORE LINKS:
• Derek digs into Tolkien’s lore and the mythological inspiration behind that vile Hill Troll.
• Learn about a pivotal event in the history of the One Ring in my Hasty Stroke on the Gladden Fields.
• Read the original release article from FFG published on April 20, 2011.
• See the official FFG Product Page for the Core Set.
• Get rules, ratings, and FAQs for this scenario at Online Quest Companion: Journey Along the Anduin.
• Ian explains (in great detail) various methods for “How to Kill a Hill Troll” at Tales from the Cards.
• Watch Mitch and Matthew take on “Journey Along the Anduin” using only the core set in their awesome Progression Series reboot!