The Oath is designed to be a possible first-quest if your initial purchase was the Two-Player Limited Edition Starter. I'm interested to see how it plays with that in mind while also testing the new hero decks.
Oh, you'll notice the formatting looks a bit different for the quest number. It's been stated a few times by Fantasy Flight Games staff that not all original Lord of the Rings: the Card Game products will be re-released. I could either follow the original quest numbers and have these put in their proper Print on Demand spots or re-do the numbering for these revised releases, since the campaign element does add a unique twist. I've opted for re-numbering and will update the tile of the core set posts to match.
My goal for both quests in The Dark of Mirkwood is to try out all four hero decks in their initial 50-card configuration without swapping in any of the optional cards included in the packs. I have a hunch that Dwarves and Elves are going to be the strongest decks and will be pairing each with one of the human-tribe decks. Up first will be Dwarves of Durin and Defenders of Gondor!
existing campaign card additions
Lingering Venom is added to the encounter deck.
Mendor's support added to each player deck.
Valor attached to Boromir and Dain Ironfoot.
new campaign card additions
Stalking Goblin added to the encounter deck.
The Secret of Leadership attached to Bifur
The Might of Tactics added to Boromir
The Eves of Mirkwood added to the staging area
Goblin Troop set aside
Gondor set as player 1 and Mendor added to their cards in play
Gondor hand: Visionary Leadership and a few allies makes this hand a 'yes'
Dwarf hand: A few dwarf allies, to hopefully get me drawing an extra card starting round 2
Gondor gets a Defender of Ramas down and a Valiant Sword added to Prince Imrahil. Dwarf gets down and Erebor Record Keeper and an Ered Nimras Prospector. Discarded from deck: Hidden Cache (score!), Erebor Hammersmith, Miner of the Iron Hills. Two resources added to Dain's pool. Play We are Not Idle, exhausting Erebor Record Keeper to add another resource to Dain and draw a card. Play Longbeard Elder.
Quest for 12. Look the top of the Encounter deck and it is not a location, so questing reduced to 11. Reveal: Spiders of Mirkwood, Stalking Goblin. Four progress put on the quest and The Eves of Mirkwood made the active location.
Gondor engages the Spiders of Mirkwood (resource added to Mablung) and Dwarf engage Stalking Goblin. Goblin Sniper pulled out of the encounter deck (thanks to Stalking Goblin) and added to the staging area. Shadow cards dealt. Spiders attack and Defender of Ramas defends. No shadow effect & the defender lives. Stalking Goblin attacks and Prospector defends. No shadow effect and the prospector takes one damage. Boromir and Mablung defeat the Spider (thanks to Valor) and Dain defeats the Stalking Goblin (also thanks to Valor). Damage put on Mendor and Longbeard Elder due to the Goblin Sniper.
Ready and raise threat.
Healing Herbs attached to Bifur and Dori put into play.
Questing for 15. Look at the top card of the encounter deck and it is not a location, so questing reduced to 14. Reveal: Surprising Speed, which get surge and doom 1 due to no enemies being returned to the staging area. Reveal: Goblin Runners (surge), Great Spider, Caught in a Web (attach to Mablung). The Eves of Mirkwood is explored and Stage 1 is completed. Each player draws a card, thanks to Mendor. Add Forest Gate and Goblin Trail to the staging area. Travel to Forest Gate and Dwarves draws two cards (including Miner of the Iron Hills)
Dwarves engage Goblin Runners and Gondor engages Great Spider (exhausting Mablung but also getting him a resource). Shadow cards dealt. Goblin Runners attack and Dori defend, taking two damage. Would have had to discard an ally if I risked letting it go undefended and having Dori take the damage (which I almost did). Great Spider attacks and Defender defends, taking no damage. Dain takes out the Goblin Runner and Boromir takes out the Great Spider. Goblin Sniper deals one damage to Dain and one to Boromir.
Ready (spending two of Mablung's resources for him), raise, and onward
Gondor puts down Gandalf, defeating the Goblin Sniper. Dwarves puts a Thror's Map on Ori then plays a Miner of the Iron Hills, discard the Caught in a Web on Mablung.
Quest for 20. Top encounter card is not a location, so reduce to 19. Reveal: Lingering Venom. Choose to deal two damage each to Dain and Boromir. Surge. Reveal: Abandoned Camp, Obsidian Arrows (deal two damage to Bifur). Forest Gate is explored and 10 progress is placed on the quest. Thror's Map is discarded to make Goblin Trail the active location.
Ready and raise! (and discard Gandalf)
Gondor puts down an Errand Rider, uses it to move resource, and puts down Citadel Custodian. Dwarves plays A Very Good Tale, exhausting Miner of the Iron Hill and Dori. All discard cards are allies, including two copies of Ered Luin Miner! They both go into play as well as Gloin and Ered Nmrais Prospector. Three more cards are discarded, including another Ered Luin Miner (which goes into play). A Very Good Tale is chosen to shuffle back into the deck. Healing Herbs goes on Bifur, then is discard and he is exhausted to heal all damage on Dain.
Quest for 17. Top encounter card is not a location, so questing goes down to 16. Reveal: Goblin Runners (surge), Forest Gate, Wild Wargs. Goblin Trail is cleared, clearing the location. Advance to Stage 3. Each player draws a card (Thanks, Mendor). Goblin Troop is added to the staging area and Goblintown Scavangers is added. Travel to Forest Gate and Gondor draws two cards.
Gondor optionally engages Goblin Troop (one resource for Mablung) and Dwarves optionally engages Goblin Runners. Wild Wargs engages Gondor. Top card of the encounter deck is discarded and it is not a goblin (it's a location! ha). Goblintown Scavangers engage Dwarves. Shadow cards are dealt.
Now it's time to survive combat and push for the win.
Goblin Troop attacks and Citadel Custodian defends, dying valiantly. Prince Imrahil readies. Wild Wargs attacks and Defenders of Ramas take no damage. Goblin Runners attack and an Ered Luin Miner defends. The Runners return to the staging area (Surprising Speed shadow effect). Goblintown Scavangers attack and another Ered Luin Minder defends, taking no damage. One damage is dealt to the other Ered Luin Miner due to the Great Spider shadow effect. Prince Imrahil, Boromir, and Mendor take out the Goblin Troop. Mablung does one damage to the Wild Wargs. Dain takes out the Goblintown Scavangers.
Ready & raise!
Dwarves puts down a Gandalf, destroying the Goblin Runners. Nothing really worthwhile to play for Gondor that will help for this final questing push.
Quest for 35. Look at the top card of the encounter deck one last time, with the Longbeard Elder's ability, and it is an actual location this time and one progress goes on the Forest Gate. Reveal: Spider Den, Goblins Are Upon You. Both teams put a Goblin Runners from the discard pile into play engaged with them. Forest Gate is cleared! Stage 3 is cleared! Victory!!
Final Score: 111 (40 for rounds completed, 36 threat + 3 hero damage for Gondor, 30 threat + 2 hero damage for Dwarves, -3 for the victory display).
Campaign Resolution: Only 4 rounds completed, so no burden added to the campaign pool.
The Oath felt like an appropriate initial quest for players with decent decks. It was tougher than Passage through Mirkwood but lower than Journey Down the Anduin, which is exactly where I think it was designed to be in terms of difficulty.
The decks performed well, with Dwarves going on a crazy ally explosion. Gondor has a bit of this capability as well but it did not play out that way this game. Still, plenty of combat power in the starting Gondor heroes allowing Dwarves to quest hard while Gondor dealt with the bigger threats.
Really fun night of gaming. I'll speak more about these quests in the hero decks in a separate post down the line.