After an absence of more than a year I have returned to Middle Earth! My sword and armour are a little rusty, so I am replaying some early quests to ease myself back into action. With the core set under my belt I once again find myself hunting for Gollum.

In The Hunt for Gollum scenario your heroes are on the trail of the creature known as Gollum, looking for clues of his whereabouts (Signs of Gollum cards) that are hidden in the encounter deck. To complicate matters you will be revealing two encounter cards on most turns, so you need a player deck that can quest aggressively to avoid being overrun by enemies or bogged down by locations.

For this scenario I have constructed a Lore + Spirit deck using cards from one core set and The Hunt for Gollum adventure pack. The deck is designed to burn through the encounter deck to bring Signs of Gollum to the surface, while at the same time generating plenty of willpower to keep the staging area clear of locations.

Encounter deck manipulation

The forced effects on stages 1B and 2B of this scenario give the player a powerful way to find clue cards by peeking at the top cards on the encounter deck, revealing one and discarding the others. Scrying the encounter deck speeds up the hunt for clues and lets you evade enemies that might otherwise overwhelm the player deck. Denethor and Henamarth Riversong‘s abilities let you scry the deck more frequently, allowing you to see what is coming up next and move unfavourable cards to the bottom of the pile. Trigger Denethor’s ability as often as possible, since an ill timed appearance by Hunters from Mordor could undo your quest. To get more uses of Denthor’s ability he should receive the Unexpected Courage attachment.

Questing

The Hunt for Gollum is a location-heavy scenario, and because two cards are being revealed from the encounter deck during most turns you can quickly become location locked if you don’t quest aggressively. Eowyn is this deck’s dedicated quester, and most of the deck’s allies can also contribute willpower to the quest. Just watch out for The Old Ford, a location that punishes the player for having too many allies. Its threat is equal to the number of ally cards in play, which makes it very dangerous in the game’s late stages. Secret Paths and Strider’s Path are both effective for neutralising The Old Ford.

Combat

Combat avoidance is central to this deck’s strategy, not least because Clue cards will slip through your fingers if they are drawn as shadow cards. None of this deck’s heroes is particularly good with a sword, so if a fight is unavoidable then Gandalf is your best bet, or Beorn if you can manage to sneak him into play.

The only really nasty enemy in The Hunt for Gollum is Hunters from Mordor. The Hunters get an attack strength boost for each Clue card in play, which can make them formidable opponents. If you do find yourself facing buffed Hunters from Mordor then a reliable tactic is to chump block the attack, then take them down with Gandalf or Beorn. Or simply trap them in a Forest Snare.

Card Draw

The last piece of the puzzle is card draw. Having a full hand lets you quickly find the deck’s most valuable cards, and also provides plenty of fodder for Eowyn’s willpower boosting ability. Bilbo Baggins doubles the rate at which you draw cards, and Gléowine and Gandalf can net you a few more.

The Deck

Putting it all together, here is my final 50 card deck. It is constructed from a card pool consisting of one core set and all the player cards available at the time that The Hunt for Gollum adventure pack was released.

Hero (3)
Bilbo Baggins (The Hunt for Gollum)
Denethor (Core Set)
Éowyn (Core Set)

Ally (25)
1x Beorn (Core Set)
3x Daughter of the Nimrodel (Core Set)
2x Erebor Hammersmith (Core Set)
3x Gandalf (Core Set)
2x Gléowine (Core Set)
1x Henamarth Riversong (Core Set)
3x Lórien Guide (Core Set)
1x Miner of the Iron Hills (Core Set)
2x Northern Tracker (Core Set)
3x Rivendell Minstrel (The Hunt for Gollum)
2x Wandering Took (Core Set)
2x Westfold Horse-Breaker (The Hunt for Gollum)

Attachment (12)
1x Celebrían’s Stone (Core Set)
2x Forest Snare (Core Set)
2x Protector of Lórien (Core Set)
3x Song of Kings (The Hunt for Gollum)
2x Steward of Gondor (Core Set)
1x The Favor of the Lady (Core Set)
1x Unexpected Courage (Core Set)

Event (13)
2x A Test of Will (Core Set)
1x Dwarven Tomb (Core Set)
2x Hasty Stroke (Core Set)
2x Secret Paths (Core Set)
2x Sneak Attack (Core Set)
3x Strider’s Path (The Hunt for Gollum)
1x The Galadhrim’s Greeting (Core Set)

3 Heroes, 50 Cards
Cards up to The Hunt for Gollum

Deck built on RingsDB.

Strategy tips

  • Attach Song of Kings to Eowyn, then Steward of Gondor. The additional resources generated by Steward of Gondor will help to pay for the deck’s high cost Spirit cards. Eowyn should also receive Celebrían’s Stone.
  • Use Denethor and Henamarth Riversong’s abilities to scry the encounter deck so that you know what will be coming off the deck, and can burn through the deck faster in your search for Clues.
  • Unexpected Courage goes on Denthor so that you can use his ability twice in a turn, or in addition to questing.
  • Try to evade enemies so that your allies can focus on questing, and also to avoid the possibility of drawing a Clue as a shadow card.
  • If Hunters of Mordor sneak through then neutralise them with Forest Snare or destroy them with Gandalf or Beorn.
  • If The Old Ford enters play when you have a number of allies in play, then use Strider’s Path to travel there immediately or Secret Paths to neutralise its threat.
  • Use Lórien Guide and Northern Tracker to clear locations.

Header art by Igor-Kierlyuk