Against the Darkness
Preview Combat in The Lord of the Rings: Journeys in Middle-earth
“Over the field rang his clear voice calling: ‘Death! Ride, ride to ruin and the world’s ending!’”
–J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King
Middle-earth may be full of beauty, but it is still a dangerous place. One cannot simply wander these lands without encountering some form of trouble. Now that evil forces are gaining power, it’s even more likely that you’ll be beset by Orc marauders, a roving band of Ruffians, or even a fearsome Hill Troll during your campaigns through The Lord of the Rings: Journeys in Middle-earth. Your quest must continue despite these threats, however, if you hope to protect Middle-earth and her people.
You’ve already seen how you’ll explore the vast lands of Middle-earth and gotten a glimpse of three of the heroes that can form your Fellowship, as well as three of the distinct roles these heroes can take on. Join us today as we look more closely at the enemies you’ll encounter during your Journeys in Middle-earth!
Fighting the Darkness
Untold terrors lurk in the looming forests, quiet clearings, and abandoned halls of Middle-earth, and the Journeys in Middle-earth companion app could pit you against any of the twenty-five enemy miniatures included with the game during an adventure. No matter what enemies you find, though, your encounters with them will be defined by the type of adventure you’re playing.
If you’re venturing across the journey map tiles, enemies could be present from the very beginning or appear as you progress toward your goals, but it’s also possible for them to be revealed based on your choices. As you comb the hills of Eriador for a pack of thieves, for example, searching along the path could reveal an Orc lying in wait! You’ll provoke attacks whenever you attempt to interact with a token in a space with an enemy, so it’s up to you to decide whether to take the damage, slow your progress by fighting the enemies, or to avoid their notice completely by taking an alternate route.
When you need to launch an attack on an Orc camp or infiltrate some ancient ruins, however, you can expect a more focused, tactical confrontation on the battle maps. Rather than being spread out across vast expanses of Middle-earth, these adventures bring your entire Fellowship together to face a challenge from which there is no escape. Although some battle map adventures feature no combat at all, they all require you to keep your wits about you and work as one to succeed.
In either case, your interactions with enemies are controlled by the Journeys in Middle-earth companion app and—much like the other tests you perform—the success or failure of your attacks is determined by revealing cards from your skill deck. As you do, you will input results like the number of hits you inflict and any attack modifiers directly into the app, letting it track the damage and other effects from your attacks.
Unlike other tests, though, the results of your attack actions largely depend on how you have chosen to arm yourself. Performing an attack requires you to choose an item—or items—to attack with, and the type of test is determined by the stat icon in the upper left corner of the item card. Whether you use your might to swing a great battle axe or your agility to land pinpoint shots from your bow, most items give you a variety of ways to spend the successes you reveal during the attack. A simple Dagger, for instance, only gets more effective with more successes, giving you the chance to apply two hits for a single success and three hits that pierce an enemy’s armor for two successes. Better yet, if you’re able to muster three successes, you can combine both of the Dagger’s abilities for an attack with five hits and pierce!
Other items, however, offer a wider array of options. If you instead choose to wield a Staff, you could spend two separate successes to make a powerful strike of four hits. Alternatively, you could sacrifice a bit of power and use both of your successes to land three hits and stun the enemy, ensuring they cannot activate later on or make counterattacks against you.
Using weapons may be the most direct way to engage in combat, but they are far from your only option. When an adventure takes you to the battle maps, the environment itself can play a role in your strategy. These encounters play out on varying terrain that is added to the battle map at the beginning of the game and—far from simply adding visual flair to the board—each piece of terrain affects the battlefield in its own way.
For example, if your hero is mighty enough, they can topple a Statue onto an enemy to deal damage and permanently decrease their armor. Conversely, if direct confrontation isn’t your hero’s strength, you could always attempt to take cover in a Bush. Once you’ve become safely Hidden, you have the power to negate all damage from an attack or potentially set up a powerful sneak attack, springing out and automatically adding a success to your attack.
On a Knife’s Edge
The enemies you face won’t sit idly by as you attack them, of course. After a hero attacks a group of enemies, those enemies may strike back with an attack of their own. Even if they don’t, the evil forces arrayed against the heroes will still have the chance to activate once the heroes are done taking their actions. During this step, the app directs each ready group of enemies to move and attack the heroes in an attempt to defeat them and remove them from the adventure.
Not only do these attacks deal damage to a hero’s body, they also take their toll mentally, spreading fear and doubt throughout your Fellowship. Each hero has their own limit of both damage and fear and if an enemy gets in range to make an attack, the app displays an amount of damage and fear cards that the hero will suffer if they can’t negate it with a test.
As damage and fear begin accumulating on your hero, so too can the negative effects of taking these cards. In most cases, damage and fear cards are dealt faceup and while it may only be Weariness or Gloom, it could just as easily become a more serious impediment. You might suffer from Exhaustion, limiting the power you have over your skill deck when you scout. Similarly, you could suffer from Delusions, forcing you to discard one of your inspiration tokens.
Your heroes will likely be pushed to the limit of what their bodies and spirits can endure through your trials and ordeals in Middle-earth. Fortunately, reaching your fear or damage limit doesn’t necessarily mean a particular adventure is over. In these moments, you perform a valiant last stand to ward off your impending doom. In these moments, succeeding at a test renews your body or mind, discarding all your facedown damage or fear and granting you an inspiration. Failure, on the other hand, removes your hero from the adventure and brings the entire Fellowship one step closer to failure.
Even if no hero is defeated during the course of an adventure, you must still make haste to complete your objectives. As time passes, the threats of Middle-earth draw closer and become more dangerous. As time passes for the heroes, a threat bar at the top of the app screen will slowly fill and, as it does, your enemies grow in power. Once it passes certain thresholds, this bar will trigger events that can hinder your progress, such as the arrival of even more enemies or additional tests for your heroes to overcome. The fate of an adventure hangs on whether you can complete your objectives before time runs out for you and Middle-earth.
The dark forces that plague Middle-earth are gaining power, and doom and destruction are sure to follow in their wake. Now is the time to band together and fight for all the Free Peoples of Middle-earth!
You can pre-order your own copy of The Lord of the Rings: Journeys in Middle-earth (JME01) at your local retailer or online through our website today! Look for Journeys in Middle-earth to arrive on April 18th, 2019.