New Nightmares in Middle-earth
Three New The Lord of the Rings Nightmare Decks Are Now Available
Dark clouds gather west of the Grey Havens, and the seas lash upon the shore—their waves glinting orange and red while flames rise from the ruins of the Elvish fleet. It is a nightmarish scene—one you almost feel you've already witnessed—but you have no time to search for phantom memories. The Corsairs are sailing away…
Three new Nightmare Decks are now available for The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game!
- Flight of the Stormcaller Nightmare Deck
- The Thing in the Depths Nightmare Deck
- Temple of the Deceived Nightmare Deck
When it was first released, the Dream-chaser cycle of Adventure Packs gave fans their first chance to brave the high seas and hidden isles west of Middle-earth. Following immediately upon the scenarios from The Grey Havens deluxe expansion, the Dream-chaser cycle thrust players into the fiery aftermath of a raid on the Grey Havens that was led by the Corsairs of Umbar and their captain, Sahír.
From the wreck of the Elvish fleet, the cycle carried players across the waves, where they and their heroes pursued Sahír and his ship, the Stormcaller. They boarded Corsair ships, battled a terrifying sea creature, and found their way to remote jungle island where they discovered an ancient temple and its Undead guardians. The journey was one of adventure, exploration, and discovery—thrilling and horrifying in equal measure… And now that balance is about to skew heavily toward the horrifying!
As with all Nightmare Decks, the three new Dream-chaser Nightmare Decks introduce new encounter cards and rules that replace and modify key parts of the original scenarios. The result is a darker and deadlier version of the original adventure—one that comes with greater challenges, refreshed themes, and all-new twists and turns!
For more information about the challenges and surprises these Nightmare Decks bring to your games, we turn to developer Matthew Newman.
Flight of the Stormcaller Nightmare Deck
In Flight of the Stormcaller, the heroes chase after Captain Sahír’s ship, the Stormcaller, out from the Grey Havens and along the western coast of Middle-earth.
One of the most interesting parts of this scenario was that it introduced two separate quest decks—one that tracked the heroes’ progress, and one that tracked that of the Stormcaller. To win, you had to either catch up with the Stormcaller and destroy it, or complete the Stormcaller’s current quest stage before it could slip out of your grasp. Additionally, these two alternate routes to victory were complicated by your need to correct your heading during the Sailing tests that were first introduced in The Grey Havens, as these aimed to slow you down so you wouldn't catch up to the Stormcaller too quickly.
In Nightmare Mode, the decisions you make while questing and Sailing are tougher than ever before, as the Nightmare Deck introduces several effects that push you off-course while new locations and enemies capitalize on your failure to keep your heading. Meanwhile, the Stormcaller has become faster and will race ahead from one stage to the next at an alarming pace.
As an example, the treachery Sahír's Getting Away! (Flight of the Stormcaller Nightmare Deck, 8) illustrates many of the difficult decisions into which the Nightmare Deck will push you. In addition to placing progress on the Stormcaller’s quest stage, the treachery forces you to choose between shifting your heading off course and adding a whopping eight threat to the staging area!
And while too much threat in the staging area will prevent you from catching up to the Stormcaller and completing your quest, the chase becomes even deadlier if you head off-course. You'll have to be wary of Sharp Jetties (Flight of the Stormcaller Nightmare Deck, 5) that hinder your progress and deal damage to your ships, and you'll have to watch out for Corsair ships like the Tide-runner (Flight of the Stormcaller Nightmare Deck, 3) which seem to be everywhere all at once. The result is a tense journey that will test your speed, your combat prowess, and your navigational skills all at once.
The Thing in the Depths Nightmare Deck
One of my personal favorites from the Dream-chaser cycle, this scenario is really two scenarios in one. As the story opens, our heroes board the Stormcaller and battle to take control of the ship. But before the battle is won, a monster from the depths of Belegaer emerges and catches the Stormcaller in its many thrashing tentacles. These arms are each separate enemies that grapple with parts of the ship, and when they are destroyed, they deal damage to The Thing in the Depths (The Thing in the Depths, 49).
Despite the fact that the titular Creature is meant to be an all-consuming, nightmarish threat, the first part of this scenario is often considered more difficult because it hits players hard right when they are weakest—before they have armed themselves and built up their armies of allies. Accordingly, my primary goal with this Nightmare Deck was to infuse the second half of the scenario with a real Nightmare Mode level of difficulty, making the fight against The Thing in the Depths even more engaging and challenging.
Three new effects on the Nightmare Setup card (The Thing in the Depths Nightmare Deck, 1) enhance the difficulty of Stage 3, each in their own way.
First, a new Forced effect causes The Thing in the Depths to attack each player the moment it first emerges from the depths. This offsets some of the momentum you may have gained after taking control of the ship during Stage 1.
Another effect automatically reveals new locations to put into play if, at the beginning of the quest phase, there are fewer locations than the number of players. This ensures there will always be a healthy number of locations to which Tentacle enemies can grapple.
Finally, at the end of each refresh phase, any Tentacle enemies in play automatically resolve their grapple keywords. This forces players to defeat every Tentacle enemy that enters the staging area each round, lest enough of them grapple a location that they destroy the Stormcaller entirely.
Of course, the Nightmare Deck also introduces a number of deadly new Tentacle enemies like the Crashing Arm (The Thing in the Depths Nightmare Deck, 7), as well as a new treachery card, Deep Maelstrom (The Thing in the Depths Nightmare Deck, 8), that threatens to drown players in encounter cards!
Temple of the Deceived Nightmare Deck
A fan-favorite scenario, Temple of the Deceived really played to the Dream-chaser cycle's themes of exploration and discovery with the introduction of an “Island Map,” in which the island's locations are laid out in a grid that gives the scenario a unique sense of scale and perspective. It was only natural that the Nightmare Deck continue to toy with this defining element.
However, instead of designing new Lost Island cards to be shuffled in with the quest’s original locations, we created six new double-sided Edge of the Temple locations. And instead of challenging you to traverse four columns of Lost Island locations before you reached the final column of Temple of the Deceived locations, the Nightmare Mode version of the scenario features three columns of Lost Island locations, followed by two columns of these new Edge of the Temple locations. Only after traveling through all these columns can you finally reach the final column of Temple of the Deceived locations.
This lengthens your heroes’ journey through the jungle, but it also allows us to ramp up the difficulty of the new Nightmare Deck locations since they are always located farther from your starting location—meaning you'll have plenty of time to get ready for them before you face their dangers!
The scenario's enemies have also received a considerable boost. The original scenario featured some pesky, but manageable Undead enemies that were designed to slow your progress more than they were meant to be lethal. The new enemies, however, like the Cursed Soldier (Temple of the Deceived Nightmare Deck, 6) are far more powerful.
Importantly, these enemies also play around with the core mechanic of the scenario—its map—as do most of the cards in this Nightmare Deck. For example, Call of the Curse (Temple of the Deceived Nightmare Deck, 8) is a treachery that powers up every Undead enemy in play, making it much stronger if you face it as you're nearing the end of your quest.
Since almost all of the encounter cards in this Nightmare Deck refer to the Island Map in some way, with their effects often changing based on your heroes' position, the scenario offers a unique play experience, changing and evolving depending how deep you and your heroes have traveled into the jungle!
Brave the Uncharted Waters
The three new Dream-chaser cycle Nightmare Decks now available may build upon the existing scenarios from Flight of the Stormcaller, The Thing in the Depths, and Temple of the Deceived, but you would be foolish to act as though nothing had changed. Your old strategies may not work. Your landmarks may have disappeared. Nothing can prepare you for the dangers you'll face amid all the nightmare challenges of these new scenarios.
Will you still dare set foot aboard the Dream-chaser and sail in pursuit of Sahír and the artifact he's stolen?
Be a hero. Head to your local retailer or our webstore to order your copies of these Nightmare Decks today!
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