Run Time: 40:00, Watch the video
Most Valuable Card: Red Book of Westmarch is kinda the default here. There wasn’t much questing that needed to be done early on, but as the locations piled up and 18 progress required on stage 3B, it helped a ton to keep the quest phase managable.
Thematic Win: Seeing Tom Bombadil show up twice just randomly tra-la-la-ing through the Old Forest.
From the beginning I thought this scenario and the next were going to be a challenge to present the community with added movie clips. There wasn’t any video material from the movies that cover the exploration of the Old Forest and the Barrow Downs by the Hobbits. I thought of adding in scenes from the recently discovered Russian version of the Fellowship, but I wasn’t sure that those scenes would… ahem… make sense in just small snippets. I also thought of using scenes from Harry Potter. The Whomping Willow obviously has inspiration drawn from Old Man Willow, whether intentional or not. That also didn’t make much sense to me because I love and respect Lord of the Rings and Tolkien’s work too much to include really poor derivatives in this presentation. So I stuck with just taking and adding bits from the player cards I was using.
Boy, was I not disappointed by that decision. Because of my choice to hold off including clips in The Black Riders until after set-up, I was able to start right away adding some great (and iconic) clips to the play. Gandalf’s Delay, The One Ring, Mr. Underhill all have their own clip and this provided a nice balance to a scenario that I knew was going to lack in clips.
As the game begins, I decided after the very first draw to use the ring. This was something that I didn’t use at all in the first scenario. I don’t know if I forgot about it or if I just didn’t need to use it, but for whatever reason, I didn’t use it then. But I’m glad I used it now! This is a great way to swap out enemies and treacheries to get those much needed locations.
I was also able to get Tom Bombadil in play a few times. When playing solo, there is no guarantee that an encounter ally like Tom or Gildor will enter play. The encounter deck is just too thick to make that a reliable happenstance. That said, I was happy to get the enigma himself on the table for a little bit especially given the source material and scenario. As a side note, I love that Tom Bombadil is an encounter ally and not an objective ally that starts the game in play. It really adds to his theme that he just pops up whenever. To get him in to play when I did while not the best timing game-wise, felt like a real thematic homerun.
This scenario also saw the first time playing both Odo Proudfoot and Rosie Cotton. Both characters have an enters play clip and leaving out the four second “ProudFEET!” moment would be practically a crime. Rosie’s clip is from the end of the movies but I thought it was the best scene that explains who she is and how important she is to Sam.
So, despite all the theme and that I was able to beat the quest fairly straightforwardly, I was a little disappointed that the second scenario of this campaign was light on movie content to insert. I also didn’t see very many enemies and Tom Bombadil, while awesome to see, didn’t really make an appearance when I needed him.
I hope you enjoyed this play, and join us again next week as I tackle Fog on the Barrow Downs, the other GenCon scenario that inserts itself into the campaign.