The Long Arm of Mordor
A Preview of The Sands of Harad Expansion for The Lord of the Rings
"From the havens of Harad ships of war put out to sea; and out of the East Men were moving endlessly: swordsmen, spearmen, bowmen upon horses, chariots of chieftains and laden wains. All the power of the Dark Lord was in motion."
–J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring
At the beginning of The Sands of Harad and its scenarios, your heroes find themselves stranded many miles from home and safety. Their ship has splintered and fallen into the sea. The streets of Umbar lie before them. And those streets are quickly filling up with angry Corsairs who want the heroes dead.
This leads to the expansion's first scenario, in which your heroes need to make a quick exit from Umbar. Then, as we mentioned earlier, if your heroes actually manage to weave through their foes and exit the city, it means only that they find themselves amid the shifting sands of a hot, arid, and treacherous desert. There are predators in the desert, sure, but the biggest threats they'll face as they try to find their way through the trackless waste are the lack of water and the scorching heat.
As with most scenarios for The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game, these adventures come with new rules that set them apart from everything else you might have played. Escape from Umbar uses a new objective card, "Seize Them!" (The Sands of Harad, 14), to keep your heroes on the defensive and keep them sprinting for the exit. Then once they're in the desert and committed to their Desert Crossing, your heroes will have to contend with strange desert predators, the choices presented by new side quests, and the perils presented by dehydration and the rising temperature.
However, the most dramatic of the new scenario-specific mechanics introduced in The Sands of Harad may be those that appear in the expansion's third scenario, The Long Arm of Mordor.
SPOILER ALERT: The rest of this article spoils select story elements from The Sands of Harad.
A New Alliance
In The Long Arm of Mordor, your heroes must set aside their preconceptions and help defend a Haradrim village from the vicious attack launched by a horde of savage Orcs. They won't, however, stand alone. They'll gain the aid of the expansion's new objective-heroes. In fact, if it weren't for these Haradrim, your regular band of heroes wouldn't stand a fighting chance against the Dark Lord's Orcs.
For reasons that you'll discover as you play through The Sands of Harad, your standard heroes begin The Long Arm of Mordor separated, and it's up to Kahliel (The Sands of Harad, 31) and the other leaders of his village to reunite them. Each of the scenario's first three stages follows your efforts to reassemble your fellowship, building up to a climactic battle with the Uruk Chieftain (The Sands of Harad, 61) in charge of the assault.
Although you may have little reason to trust the Haradrim at the beginning of the scenario—apart from desperation and necessity—you'll likely be interested in continuing your new alliance after you've battled side-by-side against the Dark Lord's Uruks. And it won't just be because these Haradrim offer a powerful fighter in the form of Yazan (The Sands of Harad, 33), a skilled defender in Jubayr (The Sands of Harad, 34), and a clever Scout in Firyal (The Sands of Harad, 32).
It will be because you'll come to understand that not all the Haradrim are evil. Not all who dwell in the south choose to serve the Dark Lord. Your heroes will come to understand that they need allies to survive their journey home, and they'll discover that they have more in common with Kahliel and his compatriots than they might have ever dreamed.
By the end of The Long Arm of Mordor, your heroes will have fallen in battle, or they'll have bought their continued existence by fighting alongside Kahliel and his village of Haradrim. The end of The Sands of Harad then leads into the journeys and alliances of The Mûmakil and the rest of the Haradrim cycle of Adventure Packs, and you'll find Kahliel (The Mûmakil, 1) ready to assist you at every step along the way.
A Strange and Hostile Land
Middle-earth is an ancient and storied world, and there have times through its history in which Umbar was a part of Númenor. But those times have long since passed. Now the similarities between the people and cultures of Umbar and Gondor have mostly faded. The architecture differs. The sun strikes down from a different angle. And the deserts that lie outside of the coastal cities are even stranger yet.
In The Sands of Harad, you gain the opportunity to explore one of the larger and less well-known regions of Middle-earth. You will encounter new enemies and treacheries, unlike those you've seen in your travels through Mirkwood or Moria, in the North, or on the sea. You will find yourself forced to choose whether to focus on your main quest or to embark upon perfunctory side quests, all with little understanding of where your decision may lead you. And near the end of these trials, you will have the opportunity to strike a new alliance; be sure to seize it!
Can you survive The Sands of Harad? This deluxe expansion for The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game is scheduled to arrive at retailers on Wednesday, November 23rd!