“My blood runs chill,” said Gimli, but the others were silent, and his voice fell dead on the dank fir-needles at his feet.
–J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King
Deep within the hills of Dunland, several of Middle-earth’s greatest heroes approach an ancient barrow. Weapons in hand, they ready themselves for whatever they may face. The dead are stirring, and this is only the first of three trials…
The Three Trials is now available !
The Three Trials is the second Adventure Pack in The Ring-maker cycle for The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game , and while its sixty cards expand your deck-building options, they also introduce a challenging and dynamic new scenario that thrusts Middle-earth’s heroes into a series of life-or-death skirmishes with the undead guardians of three sacred Dunlending burial mounds. Each of these guardians presents a different challenge, and to defeat them all, you’ll need to be able to adjust your tactics, even in the middle of your quest.
At the beginning of your journey through The Three Trials , you are instructed to set aside all three of the scenario’s Guardian enemies, its three Key objectives, and all three of its Barrow locations, as well as the unique location, Hallowed Circle ( The Three Trials , 49). Then must brace yourself for the dangers ahead as you press forward toward one of three different stage two quests.
The Three Trials is full of both important player choices and random effects, making its scenario an eminently replayable adventure. However, the first choice you make may very well set the tone for the remainder of your trials, so you’ll want to be sure to choose wisely! At the end of stage one, you select one of three different stage two quest cards, each of which redefines your interactions with the encounter deck, its locations, and its enemies. Additionally, each stage two randomly combines a Guardian enemy, a Barrow location, and the Key that matches the stage’s Guardian .
Like Boar’s Guardian ( The Three Trials , 40), each of these Guardian enemies are immune to non- Key attachments, ensuring you won’t catch them in a net, and each comes with a nasty Time X effect that truly sets it apart from the others – and makes it a fearsome foe. For example, the Time X effect on Boar’s Guardian reads:
“Time 2. Forced: After the last time counter is removed from Boar’s Guardian, the engaged player must discard an ally he controls. Place 2 time counters on Boar’s Guardian.”
The fact that each of the different Guardian enemies has a nasty Time X effect means you’ll want to race through the quests as quickly as possible. As lead developer Caleb Grace wrote in his preview of The Voice of Isengard , Time X effects are meant to represent the urgency of your quests:
“Matt Newman and I worked hard to explore the different ways we could take advantage of [the Time X keyword] throughout The Voice of Isengard box and The Ring-maker cycle. There weren’t any dull moments during play-testing! It’s not hard to keep players under pressure when there’s a nasty Forced effect on a quest card or encounter card that will trigger after the last Time counter is removed from it.”
And while the scenario’s Guardians all bring nasty Time X effects to the table, they’re also nasty and durable foes in their own right. The Wolf’s Guardian ( The Three Trials , 41), for example, has a Defense Strength of three on top of its twelve Hit Points, and when it attacks, your heroes will have to find some way to fend off its powerful Attack Strength of five. Worse yet, if you can’t get past this Guardian before its Time X effect triggers, it makes an immediate attack against the engaged player.
While you might think that effect’s not so terrible since each Guardian has an engagement cost of fifty, each stage two forces its Guardian to engage the first player. If it’s not you, someone has to deal with the Wolf Guardian’s attacks!
Of course, the Guardians aren’t the only elements you bring into play with each stage two. Each stage two prompts you to add one of the three Key objectives you’ll need to unlock the Hallowed Circle at the end of your trials. Each stage two also prompts you to add one of the scenario’s Barrow locations, and the random possible combinations of Barrow and Guardian can lead to some truly varied and difficult situations.
For example, the Raven’s Guardian ( The Three Trials , 42) may have the lowest Attack Strength and Hit Points of the three Guardians, but it also has the highest Threat. You may ask yourself, “What does Threat matter once the enemy is engaged?” That would naturally be an obvious question. Normally, it wouldn't have any impact upon the game once it's out of the staging area, but there’s a very good chance you’ll face the Raven’s Guardian at the Stone Barrow ( The Three Trials , 48).
If you face the Raven’s Guardian there and can’t defeat it quickly, you’ll quickly run the risk of losing to threat. On the other hand, you could face the Raven’s Guardian at the Hill Barrow ( The Three Trials , 46), and discover that the additional shadow effects it gains with each attack make it a far deadlier adversary than you first imagined. You could very well end up stacking the shadow effects of two copies of Cursed Forest ( The Three Trials , 51) and removing two time counters from the Raven’s Guardian when you after you throw a weaker ally in front of it. In such a case, you may end up triggering the Time X effect on Raven’s Guardian at a moment that you weren’t prepared to suffer damage on all your characters.
Find the Courage to Succeed
Though each of the Guardians in The Three Trials is a truly challenging enemy, you must summon up your courage and find the means to defeat them. Perhaps you can take heart as the Adventure Pack’s new hero, Idraen ( The Three Trials , 25), and its many allies offer to lend their swords and bows to the cause.
Step forward to begin your trials today. Middle-earth is counting on you!
The Three Trials is now available at your local retailer and online through our webstore .
The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game is a cooperative card game that puts 1-2 players (or up to four with an additional Core Set) in control of the most powerful characters and artifacts of Middle-earth. Players will select heroes, gather allies, acquire artifacts, and coordinate their efforts to face Middle-earth’s most dangerous fiends. The Living Card Game format allows players to customize their gaming experience with monthly Adventure Pack expansions to the core game.