Deep in the Shadows of Mordor
All Six Against the Shadow Cycle Nightmare Decks Are Now Available
"They knew that all the hills and rocks about the Morannon were filled with hidden foes, and the shadowy defile beyond was bored and tunnelled by teeming broods of evil things. And as they stood they saw all the Nazgûl gathered together, and they knew that they were watched."
–J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King
In the dark land of Mordor, the Enemy has grown stronger, and his agents have stolen secretly into the very heart of Gondor. Though many may think the streets of Minas Tirith are free from evil, the war against the Enemy is not won, nor are any of its battles truly ended. Traitors once again skulk about the darkest alleys of Minas Tirith and steal through the forests of Gondor. Scattered bands of Orcs rampage through the countryside, putting villages to the torch and slaying all they encouner. Your work is not ended until the Enemy himself is defeated.
Now, the time has come to take up your arms once more, and march to war against the growing Shadow. As Lord Boromir leads Gondor's troops to retake the fallen city of Osgiliath, it's up to your heroes to help strike a blow against the Enemy. But do you, or Boromir, or anyone really comprehend the challenges and dangers that lie before you? Three new Nightmare Decks are now available for The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game. With them, you can play once more through the dramatic Against the Shadow cycle, but this time, in Nightmare Mode, the challenges are greater, the enemies are deadlier, and the treacheries run deeper than ever before…
Can you stand fast against the growing Shadow? Pick up your copies of the Against the Shadow Nightmare Decks today!
- Assault on Osgiliath Nightmare Deck
- The Blood of Gondor Nightmare Deck
- The Morgul Vale Nightmare Deck
Lead Developer Matthew Newman on the Against the Shadow Nightmare Decks
Like every previous Nightmare Deck, each of the last three Nightmare Decks for the Against the Shadow cycle is designed not only to make the scenario it modifies harder, but to update, alter, and evolve it. Today, I'll give you a small peek at how these scenarios have changed – and how they've grown deadlier than ever before.
Assault on Osgiliath
When it was first released, Assault on Osgiliath tasked the players with a goal they had never previously had to meet: seize control of every location in play. In this scenario, whenever an Osgiliath location is explored, a player takes control of that location, and must hold it against the forces of Mordor for the remainder of the game, or risk seeing it returned to the staging area. In a three or four player game, this creates a tense and grueling battle. Ground is gained, then lost; fortresses and towers are captured and re-captured. However, in one or two player games, and using certain card combinations, players found they could very quickly take control of several locations and end the game without ever truly enjoying the tension that lies as the scenario's heart.
Enter Nightmare Mode. There is no longer a simple way out. A new unique location, Palace Remains (Assault on Osgiliath Nightmare Deck, 4), is added to the staging area during setup, but you cannot travel to this location until you have taken control of at least five other locations, ensuring that no matter if you play the scenario in a four-player game or in solo play, your battles will be epic and tense. However, since this scenario forces you to explore every single Osgiliath location in play, we also wanted to make sure that the scenario did not drag on too long, especially in multiplayer. So, we added a new effect to the Nightmare setup card (Assault on Osgiliath Nightmare Deck, 1):
If there are more Osgiliath locations in the staging area than players in the game, this card gains: “Response: At the beginning of the quest phase, choose 1 non-unique location. If the players quest successfully this phase, remaining progress made beyond the active location’s quest points is placed on the chosen location.”
This effect allows the players take control of more than one location in a single turn, provided one of them is not unique. Don’t think that your time in Osgiliath will simply be sightseeing, however. Holding onto locations is harder than ever with cards like Invading Orcs (Assault on Osgiliath Nightmare Deck, 2) and Eastern Quarters (Assault on Osgiliath Nightmare Deck, 6).
Right away, your heroes face moderate challenges that ramp up heavily and quickly with each location you take under your control, especially since many of the scenario's new enemies and treachery cards get stronger with the number of locations the players control. Overall, in Nightmare Mode, the battle for Osgiliath will be fierce, bloody, and full of changes in momentum. Victory would mean a major blow against the Enemy, one wrong move could cost you the whole war.
The Blood of Gondor
In The Blood of Gondor, your heroes are ambushed from all sides and must contend with “hidden cards,” encounter cards which are placed facedown in a player’s play area until an effect forces them to become flipped over. The unknown threat posed by these hidden cards is the scenario's most distinctive element and leads directly to its tension and excitement. How many of your hidden cards are enemies? Can you risk flipping them over? In Nightmare Mode, this tension is amplified even further as you'll have more decisions to make about these hidden cards, and each decision will have more impact. In fact, the Nightmare setup card for this scenario (The Blood of Gondor Nightmare Deck, 1) gives each player one extra hidden card right off the bat. This leads you to some interesting decision points right on the very first turn of the game, and increases the power of the scenario’s main villain, the Black Númenorean (The Blood of Gondor Nightmare Deck, 2), who has received an upgrade since we last saw him.
Of course, the Nightmare Deck includes plenty of effects that force you to take hidden cards, other effects that flip them over, and most importantly, a number of nasty surprises for when they are flipped. As an example, we have the Uruk Marksman (The Blood of Gondor Nightmare Deck, 4). If revealed from the top of the deck, he is an enemy with four Threat Strength and Archery 3. He's a formidable opponent who wants to stay at range and pick off your characters from afar. But when he's flipped as a hidden card, he immediately deals three damage to a character and returns to the staging area. If you’d planned on fighting an enemy you flipped over and flipped only these Uruks, you’d be out of luck!
The sense of being ambushed doesn't just increase with the new enemies, the treachery cards in the Nightmare version of this scenario are consistently punishing. For example, Sudden Onslaught (The Blood of Gondor Nightmare Deck, 8), not only thrusts you into the middle of whatever foes have been secretly following you through the woods, but it also replaces all the hidden cards it turns faceup, meaning that if you survive the first ambush, you'll have another one just down the road. In Nightmare Mode, you'll find that the woods near the edges of Mordor are full of terrible evils. Can you survive them?
The Morgul Vale
One of my personal favorite scenarios from the Against the Shadow cycle, The Morgul Vale forces your heroes to confront and defeat three distinct Captain enemies, one by one, on their way to rescue Faramir before he is delivered to the Dark Lord. Along the way, they must confront Orcs, agents of Mordor, and shocking treachery.
As I worked on this Nightmare Deck, my primary design goal was to draw more focus to the scenario's Captains. To that end, three of the cards in this Nightmare Deck are devoted to making the Captains you fight stronger and tougher. With cards like the Warrior of Nurn (The Morgul Vale Nightmare Deck, 2), who serves his Captain diligently, this Nightmare Deck ensures that each Captain will present a much greater threat, will take longer to defeat, and will give your enemies more time to reach the tower of Minas Morgul, thereby increasing their chances of permanently removing Faramir from the land of Gondor.
But the enemies you'll face are by no means the only threats you'll find in The Morgul Vale Nightmare Deck. Here, the ground itself is dangerous. White-Flowered Fields (The Morgul Vale Nightmare Deck, 7) cover the landscape in Noxious Fumes (The Morgul Vale Nightmare Deck, 9), damaging and knocking characters unconscious. Every path through the valley is lined by poison and death, and every step you take brings you closer to Minas Morgul.
One of the best things about this scenario is the natural way in which its difficulty increases as progress tokens are placed on To the Tower (The Morgul Vale, 147). In Nightmare Mode, this theme is further strengthened. First of all, you place one progress token on To the Tower during setup (The Morgul Vale Nightmare Deck, 1), and the tension continues building as new cards both add progress to this objective and grow stronger with each progress on it. Finally, when you reach The White Bridge (The Morgul Vale, 156) for an epic confrontation with one of the Nazgûl, you may find the bridge guarded by Sentries of the White Bridge (The Morgul Vale Nightmare Deck, 4). Ultimately, it turns out that every decision you make throughout the quest will play a part in determining whether you rescue Faramir, or fall prey to the Nazgûl.
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about how these quests have evolved and become more challenging with the introduction of these new Nightmare Decks. As always, we’ve really enjoyed revisiting these scenarios and creating new and different challenges for players to face for each one. I look forward to seeing these new surprises in action, and seeing how players overcome them.
In the Shadows of a Nightmarish Land
Not far outside the tall walls of the White City lies a realm of ash and darkness and evil. It is patrolled by Orcs and Nazgûl, and it is home to the Dark Lord himself. Now, your quest leads you once more into the shadows of this wicked realm. Will you survive and strike a blow against the Enemy, or will you, like so many others before you, stumble and fall?
Steel your nerves. Raise your shield. Draw your blade. It is time once more to stand against the evils that would overthrow the realm. The last three Nightmare Decks for the Against the Shadow cycle are now available. Get your copies today!
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