“We have this honour: ever we bear the brunt of the chief hatred of the Dark Lord, for that hatred comes down out of the depths of time and over the deeps of the Sea.”
–Denethor, The Return of the King
After Lord Boromir valiantly leads the war host of Gondor to reclaim the city of Osgiliath, he asks the Rangers of Ithilien to pursue their retreating foes. He also asks several of Middle-earth’s greatest heroes to join the hunt.
The Blood of Gondor immerses players in the dangers and the thrills of the hunt. They control Middle-earth’s heroes in an all-new scenario in which they seek to stop their foes from retreating and regrouping. However, the forest roads of Ithilien are full of perils, and the Orcs and Uruks of Mordor lurk in wait along the way. Will the hunters become the hunted? The Blood of Gondor introduces scenario-specific rules for “hidden” cards and the dark menace of the Black Númenorean.
Not only do the sixty cards in The Blood of Gondor introduce a new scenario, but they also offer players a new hero and three copies each of several new player cards that reinforce the Against the Shadow cycle’s focus on the Gondor trait and cards that enhance the viability of decks built from a single sphere.
Bulwark of the West
“By our valour the wild folk of the East are still restrained, and the terror of Morgul kept at bay; and thus alone are peace and freedom maintained in the lands behind us, bulwark of the West.”
–Boromir, The Fellowship of the Ring
The Tactics sphere features relatively few characters with high Willpower, but it has long excelled at defending fellowships against their enemies and then defeating them in combat. Thus, Tactics players often assume the role of their groups’ defenders, working to intercept attacks and allow their teammates to focus on other aspects of their quest.
It becomes harder, though, for Tactics players to manage all the game’s enemies as their teammates’ threat levels rise. When enemies start to engage with the other players, the Tactics player has traditionally needed to exhaust characters with Sentinel to help defend and exhaust characters with Ranged to help attack. This has long been the established means of defending and fighting across the table, but the introduction of stalwart new Tactics allies like the Defender of Rammas (Heirs of Númenor, 7) may prompt players to seek new deck designs and new flexibility for how they declare defenders and attackers.
Accordingly, Tactics players gain a powerful new event in The Blood of Gondor that opens new deck-building space. It also allows them to perform the role of defender and attacker better than ever!
For two resources, The Hammer-stroke (The Blood of Gondor, 111) allows a player to engage every enemy in play. Not only can this relieve his teammates of some pressure, but it can also allow the Tactics player to strike with Gimli (Core Set, 4) against an enemy that earlier had the temerity to engage a different player…and slip away from Gimli’s axe.
If you look to engage every enemy in the game, you’ll want to be sure you’re not getting yourself into trouble. Confronting an assembled horde can be deadly business, but if any sphere can handle the load, it’s Tactics. In combination with Thicket of Spears (Core Set, 36), The Hammer-stroke can buy the players a turn in which every enemy in play is prevented from attacking. Alternately, the Tactics player may dip into the Leadership heroes to use Elrohir (The Redhorn Gate, 1) as a defender who can pay one resource to ready and follow up Elrohir’s defense with a series of attacks directed by his brother, Elladan (Road to Rivendell, 28). Or you can have Boromir (The Dead Marshes, 95) stare down the assembled horde and go out in a blaze of glory, raising your threat to ready him so that he can defend every attack, and then discard him, using his second ability, to deal two damage to every enemy.
With its support for mono-sphere decks, the Against the Shadow cycle opens up myriad deck-building options for players committed to exploring the synergies within a single sphere, and The Hammer-stroke provides committed Tactics players plenty of incentive to explore new concepts within the sphere.
Watch Your Back
The Hammer-stroke is just one of the exciting new player cards in The Blood of Gondor, and it may very well come in handy as you play through the Adventure Pack’s new scenario. The woods of Ithilien are full of hidden Orcs and Uruks, and you’ll need a good blade in hand when you find them!
Look for The Blood of Gondor to arrive at your local retailer in the third quarter of 2013!