Raid the Caravan

A Preview of The Black Serpent Adventure Pack for The Lord of the Rings

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"We heard of the horns in the hills ringing,
the swords shining in the South-kingdom.
Steeds went striding to the Stoningland
as wind in the morning. War was kindled."

          –J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King

The Black Serpent is making its way to retailers soon, and it provides your heroes another chance to continue their journey through the Haradrim cycle of Adventure Packs for The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game.

Hundreds of miles from home. Stranded in enemy territory. Outnumbered. Short on supplies… Your heroes may find themselves in a tight spot, but the fight hasn't yet gone out of them.

When several of Middle-earth's greatest heroes learn of an opportunity to strike against a caravan carrying tribute to the Dark Lord of Mordor—and to free the friends of their allies—their thoughts of home, hunger, and fatigue are momentarily set aside. There is a storm brewing in the east, beyond the Ephel Dúath. War is coming. And even if they're far from home and far from their allies, these noble warriors will seize any opportunity to turn the tide. Or simply to slow it.

Throughout The Black Serpent, you'll do your best to strike a blow against the forces of Mordor. But you'll need to be clever. You'll need to strike quickly. And you'll need to hew close to the plan you devise.

Lay Your Ambush

In The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game, it seems like the odds are almost always against you and your heroes.

Not only are you outnumbered, but you often find yourself on the defensive. You might be assaulted while you're escorting an important diplomat through the mountains. Or you might follow your prey into a dangerous wilderness where you know you'll be surrounded by foes on all sides. You might ride to thr defense of a city under siege. Or you might spot a horde of Orcs and Wargs riding hard to catch and destroy you.

So it's no surprise that the odds are against you—once again—in The Black Serpent, but this time, you're the aggressor. You devise the plan of attack, you lay the ambush. And if you can execute your plan swiftly, while your opponents are still in disarray, you just might succeed. Certainly, it won't be the first time you've taken action in a situation where others would tremble and falter.

At the scenario's heart are its three Harad objectives— Banner of the Serpent (The Black Serpent, 91), The Serpent's Guard (The Black Serpent, 92), and Summons from Mordor (The Black Serpent, 93).

However you arrange your plans, you'll want to be certain to claim all three of these powerful Items as swiftly as possible. Not only do they lend strength to your enemies so long as they remain attached to encounter cards, but you need to seize them in order to move from stage to stage. There are three quest stages in The Black Serpent, and each one demands that you claim all of the Harad objectives in play in order to advance.

Moreover, as these Items are neither inherently good nor evil, you can put them to use as soon as you seize them. For example, wresting the Banner of the Serpent from your enemies' hands will not only reduce each Harad enemy's Attack Strength by one, but will allow you to raise your threat and exhaust the Banner to further reduce the Strength of each enemy engaged with you.

Likewise, seizing The Serpent's Guard allows you to create a large swing in the amount of threat in the staging area, and dispossessing the hostile Haradrim of their Summons from Mordor drastically lessens the pressures placed upon you by your threat level and limited resources.

All these things are important because speed is of the essence. The Black Serpent (The Black Serpent, 94) himself enforces this idea, posing an ever-present threat from his place in the staging area, which he enters during setup. The longer the game wears on, the more you expose yourself to this deadly and implacable foe, and as you might suspect, you'll find a number of cards that hit back at you even as you think you're moving forward.

With the encounter deck revealing these sorts of cards, plus the occasional side quest to force you into tough decisions, it's easy to imagine one momentary slip-up that will allow the Haradrim to wake and rally. And that only reinforces the importance of executing your plan as swiftly and smoothly as possible.

Strike at the Head

However you plan your assault, you'll want to be sure to strike at the head of the Haradrim forces as fast as possible.

So will you first send a Fearless Scout (The Black Serpent, 86) to reconnoiter the enemy's defenses? Or will you ride like the thunder, sending the enemy into panic and disarray as you and your Haradrim allies charge forward, recalling the Oath of Eorl (The Black Serpent, 85) and the friendship it engendered between the Rohirrim and the Men of Gondor?

Plan now while the clouds dim the moon and hide you from the Haradrim lookouts. When The Black Serpent (MEC59) arrives at retailers, you must strike!

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