The Corsairs of Umbar
A Preview of A Storm on Cobas Haven for The Lord of the Rings
"There is a great fleet drawing near to the mouths of the Anduin, manned by the corsairs of Umbar in the South. They have long ceased to fear the might of Gondor, and they have allied them with the Enemy."
–Beregond, The Return of the King
The Battle of the Pelennor Fields in Return of the King would very likely have proven the end of Minas Tirith had Aragorn and the Grey Company not led the Army of the Dead against the Corsairs of Umbar at Pelargir. The Corsairs had fifty great ships and smaller vessels "beyond count." When their black sails first appeared during the battle, flying above the Anduin south of Harlond, the Men of Gondor initially feared that the battle was lost. Their arrival meant, it was presumed, that Belfalas had been taken, and the Ethir, and Lebennin.
Even the greatest warriors were not immune to the dread of doom that the arrival of the black sails seemed to herald. It was written that Éomer "looked to the River, and hope died in his heart." As the hosts of Mordor filled with lust and fury by the fleet's arrival, Éomer rode to battle thinking that it was his last, singing a verse that he meant to be his epitaph.
However, as we all know, the Corsair fleet had been routed, and the ships were not manned by the Corsairs of Umbar, but by Aragorn, Legolas, Gimli, and the Dúnedain of the Grey Company.
These events from the novels come directly into focus in The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game through the scenarios from The Flame of the West Saga Expansion, but they also provide context for the massive naval battle you'll soon be able to wage with the A Storm on Cobas Haven Adventure Pack. They remind us of the importance and bitterness of the battles between the Men of Gondor and the Corsairs of Umbar. Simultaneously, they underscore the vital role your heroes play throughout the scenario: if they fail, Dol Amroth falls. If Dol Amroth falls, then Pelargir falls next, and there's no defenders to stall the Corsair fleet long enough for Aragorn and the Army of the Dead to catch them as they're headed to Minas Tirith.
Engaging the Corsair Fleet
Ships and ship-to-ship combat have played their part throughout The Dream-chaser cycle, as well as in the scenarios from The Grey Havens. However, the naval battle from A Storm on Cobas Haven is a step up from everything you've previously seen. It's not quite the full might of the Corsair fleet, but it's a good portion of it, as you'll find yourself set against more than a dozen Corsair Ships as well as the Corsairs who sail them.
While some of Umbar's Corsairs can still trace their lineage back to the same Númenorean ancestors as the Gondorians, there is no longer any love between them. The rivalry and hatred and military encounters between these two nations are among the most well-documented in Middle-earth's history. Originating with the descendants of Castamir, the Corsairs first fled to Umbar and turned to piracy after they were defeated in Gondor. Later, they were conquered by King Telumehtar and were once again a part of Gondor until Umbar was lost to the Haradrim. Over time the Corsairs mixed with the Haradrim and lost most traces of their ties to Númenor, but their fortunes and fates always remained tied—in one way or another—to their brethren in Gondor.
Accordingly, it is a bitter people that you'll find lashing against Dol Amroth in A Storm on Cobas Haven, and your first job is to help secure the city. While you're playing through the first and second stages, Outmaneuver the Enemy (A Storm on Cobas Haven, 120) and Battle in the Bay (A Storm on Cobas Haven, 121), your heroes are battling to secure the four Dol Amroth objectives: Sea-ward Tower (A Storm on Cobas Haven, 134), Tower of the Gull (A Storm on Cobas Haven, 135), The Beacon (A Storm on Cobas Haven, 136), and Tower of the Heron (A Storm on Cobas Haven, 137).
Only after your heroes have helped safeguard the city against the Corsairs' destructive intents will they finally be free to pursue the man they really want—the Corsair captain, Sahír. However, even now, they won't be able to launch an immediate pursuit. They will find their path blocked by the Raider Flagship (A Storm on Cobas Haven, 124).
In order to continue their pursuit of Sahír, the heroes will need either to find a way to sink this massive Ship or to sail around it. Neither option will be easy. Not only does the Raider Flagship boast eighteen Hit Points and a Defense Strength of three, but it is also immune to player card effects, features the Boarding 1 keyword, and triggers a nasty Forced effect at the end of every encounter phase:
"Forced: At the end of the encounter phase, the engaged player reveals the top card of the Corsair deck and engages it."
First introduced in The Grey Havens, the Corsair deck is a separate deck made up of only non-ship enemies, and represents the sailors, pirates, and raiders your heroes might encounter aboard the Corsair ships in the encounter deck. This means that so long as it remains engaged with you or your teammate, the Raider Flagship is spawning new enemies every round. In fact, its Corsairs will lash out at you as soon as you engage it, as doing so will trigger the Boarding 1 keyword to reveal yet another enemy from the Corsair deck.
Altogether, this will make your pursuit of Sahír an incredibly difficult and dangerous endeavor. And even with the aid of new player cards like Terrible to Behold (A Storm on Cobas Haven, 111) and Vigilant Guard (A Storm on Cobas Haven, 113), by the end of A Storm on Cobas Haven, you are likely to regard the Corsair fleet's black sails with a tinge of dread, such that if you saw fifty great Corsair warships headed your way, you might sing your own battle hymn as you rush into battle, hoping that your death will at least be a valorous one.
Continue Your Journey
Over the course of its first four Adventure Packs, The Dream-chaser cycle has carried you from the shores of Lindon across the seas to the west of Middle-earth. Your heroes have cut paths through jungles infested with Undead, and they have navigated the murky causeways of an underwater labyrinth. Now, the city of Dol Amroth and its people have need of their aid, and if they want to reclaim the artifact that was stolen from them, they must first help Prince Imrahil and his fleet win the greatest naval battle in The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game.
Is this where your journey will end—shipwrecked in the depths of the Bay of Belfalas? Or will you find some way to persevere? Will your journey continue? Your fate is yours to decide when A Storm on Cobas Haven arrives at retailers later next week!