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Gollum was found… What he had been doing he would not say. He only wept and called us cruel, with many a gollum in his throat; and when we pressed him he whined and cringed, and rubbed his long hands, licking his fingers as if they pained him. –J. R. R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring
Gollum has been found! After racing through The Hills of Emyn Muil to pursue the elusive creature’s most recent signs of movement, the heroes of Middle-earth catch first sight of him in The Dead Marshes, the fifth Adventure Pack for The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game.
In The Dead Marshes, players see Gollum (The Dead Marshes, 107) in the staging area for the first time. With a glimpse of the creature, your fellowship has new incentive to push forward, but The Dead Marshes are filled with nasty monsters and lie perilously close to Sauron’s watchful gaze.
Corrupted and devoured by his years in possession of the One Ring, Gollum remains a clever and wicked threat to your fellowship. As he races through The Dead Marshes with your heroes close on his trail, he seeks to lead them to their ruin.
The Dead Marshes introduces a new, scenario-specific mechanic called an escape test. In most scenarios, as the heroes push forward on their quest, they need to split their efforts between the quest and defending themselves against the enemies that assault them. Now, the escape test creates a new problem for which heroes will need their Willpower. Gollum plies every devious trick he can in order to lose them, and at the end of each quest phase, your heroes need to commit Willpower against Gollum’s attempts at escape. Many of the scenario’s encounter cards have an Escape value, and the heroes must commit Willpower to the escape test greater than the Escape value on the cards dealt, or Gollum gets closer to finding a means of eluding them. If he succeeds, he slips free into the marshes.
Your heroes may continue to pursue Gollum even if he manages to shake them off his trail, but that may take time your heroes don’t have as they travel so near the black lands of Mordor.
Tricks of your own
Gollum isn’t the only one with a head full of clever ideas. Your heroes have done and seen much on their travels about Middle-earth. They have slain Orcs and resisted temptations. At different points along their travels, different heroes have taken the lead, depending upon the moment’s needs. Valiant warriors battled the Trolls during the Conflict at the Carrock, and healers tended to Wilyador’s wounds along A Journey to Rhosgobel. Scouts and trackers helped find Gollum’s trail anew amid The Hills of Emyn Muil, and now Hobbits get a chance to shine in The Dead Marshes.
Their legs are short, so they have to use their heads. Rather than relying upon raw speed to snare Gollum, your Hobbits can try to snare the creature with a rope. Fast Hitch (The Dead Marshes, 103) allows a Hobbit character to exhaust for multiple actions each round. This means Bilbo Baggins (The Hunt for Gollum, 1) and Frodo Baggins (Conflict at the Carrock, 25) can exhaust to quest, then ready themselves for Gollum’s escape test immediately afterward. Their anticipation of the wretched creature’s attempts at escape may prove the difference between successfully capturing him or losing him in the fens and mires.
Because Bilbo belongs to the Lore sphere, Fast Hitch is a natural use of one of his resources. Many players have already made note of how handy the old Hobbit can be. Because he doesn’t need to exhaust to allow the first player to draw a card, he can exhaust to take other actions later in the turn. With Fast Hitch, Bilbo allows the first player to draw a card, and then can participate in the escape test and ready himself to defend. With multiple copies of Fast Hitch attached, Bilbo becomes a very clever and resourceful Hobbit, indeed, able to quest, participate in an escape test, and defend… even attack, though his Attack strength is relatively weak, for now…