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Goblins don’t care who they catch, as long as it is done smart and secret, and the prisoners are not able to defend themselves.
–J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit
Soon, the heroes of Middle-earth will arrive at The Hills of Emyn Muil, the fourth Adventure Pack for The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game. Amid the barren slopes and stones of Emyn Muil, Gollum’s trail grows cold, and the heroes must explore the craggy terrain for fresh signs.
Hillsides full of hidden threats
In The Hills of Emyn Muil, your fellowship must cover a lot of ground and must do so quickly. The longer they take, the further Gollum gets ahead of them, the colder his trail grows, and the more likely your heroes will lose it entirely amid Emyn Muil’s many treacherous twists and turns.
As they travel, the rocky landscape serves both to hide the heroes from all but a handful of their enemies… and to hide their enemies from them. The Hills of Emyn Muil feature less combat than some other Adventure Packs, such asConflict at the Carrock, but the combat dynamic takes a dramatic turn toward hit-and-run tactics.
Utilizing Shadow effects like those on The Outer Ridge (The Hills of Emyn Muil, 89), enemy combatants stage multiple skirmishes, striking at your heroes, then racing back into the hills before you can retaliate. This can force you to exhaust more and more of your fellowship as you need to commit more Willpower to the quest to make progress past the threat of the pack of enemies following on all sides. Bad turns to worse as exhausted heroes can neither defend nor attack, and as your allies get weary or fall prey to Orc skirmishers, your heroes become vulnerable.
Cards like Hasty Stroke (Core Set, 48) and A Burning Brand (Conflict at the Carrock, 33) can help your heroes trap the enemies that engage with you, but if you don’t draw them quickly enough–or if you play your last Hasty Stroke and run out of options–you may find enemies launching attacks at you each turn, with several of them escaping to gather reinforcements. Even a small band of enemies able to elude your heroes can defeat your fellowship if your heroes are unable to counter.
Hunting the enemy
Fortunately, players have a few options to deal with retreating enemies. Dúnhere (Core Set, 9) can ride them down, even in the staging area. Armed with a Blade of Gondolin (Core Set, 39) to increase his Attack strength, Dúnhere can cut through most Orc enemies, speeding your fellowship’s progress and keeping your backs free from threat.
Some foes may be too powerful for Dúnhere to dispatch, however, and you may need to provide him some assistance. Enter the eagles…
If you’re already playing with the Tactics sphere to arm Dúnhere, then The Hills of Emyn Muil provides you another resource to deal with pesky skirmishers. Descendant of Thorondor (The Hills of Emyn Muil, 75) allows you to deal two damage to any enemy in the staging area when you bring him into play and, again, when he leaves play. This can make the Descendant of Thorondor an excellent target for a Sneak Attack (Core Set, 23), and it means that even if he makes the ultimate sacrifice, defending the fellowship at the cost of his own life, the Descendant of Thorondor does not fall easily.
Prepare for the unexpected
Shadow effects add a dramatic element of surprise to combat in The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game, and The Hills of Emyn Muil feature challenging new Shadow effects that continue to change your game experience. Each Adventure Pack in the Shadows of Mirkwood cycle has introduced a scenario that focuses on different aspects of the game, populating your travels in Middle-earth with new perils.
As the time draws nearer for your heroes to step into The Hills of Emyn Muil, you may wish to seek advice from other members of our community forums as to how you may develop the flexibility you need to deal with the different challenges of multiple scenarios.
Finally, Fantasy Flight Games wishes happy birthdays to both Bilbo Baggins and Frodo Baggins, who celebrate their birthdays on September 22nd. Join us in our celebration, and try building a deck to use both of these legendary heroes!