“Denethor became more grim and silent than before, and would sit long alone in his tower deep in thought, foreseeing that the assault of Mordor would come in his time.”
–J.R.R. Tolkien, “Appendix A: Annals of the Kings and Rulers”
In the Heirs of Númenor deluxe expansion for The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game, several of Middle-earth’s greatest heroes found themselves swept along by a fateful series of events. After they were jumped by street thugs at the docks of Pelargir, their efforts on behalf of the free folk of Gondor led them to Cair Andros. There, they helped to defend the island fortress against waves of bloodthirsty Orc attackers. Now, for the moment, Cair Andros is safe, but the same cannot be said for all of Gondor…
Soon, players will have their chance to delve into the intrigues and the challenges of the Against the Shadow cycle! Arriving at retailers next week, The Steward’s Fear opens shortly after the events of Heirs of Númenor.
A New Challenge
The heroes arrive in Minas Tirith with news of victory at Cair Andros and a message for Lord Alcaron from Faramir. Upon arriving at the city, they learn that Lord Alcaron is traveling on important business north in Anórien. Even so, the heroes are soon furtively summoned to the White Tower by none other than Denethor, the Steward of Gondor himself…
As previously noted by lead developer Caleb Grace, the game’s developers challenged themselves to reach new heights of storytelling with the narrative of the Against the Shadow cycle:
“Not only did each scenario need to be fun to play, it needed to move the story forward and immerse the players in the narrative. Taken together, the Adventure Packs tell a grand story full of intrigue, tension, and heroics.”
The sweeping narrative of the Against the Shadow cycle begins with The Steward’s Fear. When Denethor suspects that a conspiracy has taken root within the walls of Minas Tirith, he tasks the heroes of Cair Andros with the delicate and clandestine matter of discovering the true nature of this threat.
Even as The Steward’s Fear hooks players into the Against the Shadow cycle and thrusts Middle-earth’s heroes into the thick of dark conspiracies, its scenario introduces an unprecedented level of mystery to the game.
At the beginning of each game, players set up the scenario by removing the Adventure Pack’s three Villains and its three Plots from the encounter deck. Then, players select one of each at random, removing the others from the game. These cards remain facedown and “hidden” through the early stages of the game. When they are revealed, however, each of these cards makes an immediate and powerful impact on the game. Their effects vary greatly, too, so a strategy that may prove successful against one combination of Villain and Plot may suffer against the one you reveal. In this way, the scenario recreates the mystery of the story, keeping you guessing, and it promotes tremendous replayability, as no two combinations of Villain and Plot play quite the same.
Enter the Underworld
Not only does the new scenario in The Steward’s Fear keep you guessing with its random selection of Villain and Plot, it continues to build the mystery with its new mechanic for Underworld locations. Like The Fourth Star (The Steward’s Fear, 22), locations with the Underworld keyword shelter unknown threats. When an Underworld X location enters the staging area, players place the top X cards from the scenario’s Underworld deck facedown beneath the location. Then, if your heroes enter the location and explore it successfully, the facedown cards are revealed. The secrets your heroes find may aid them in their quest, or they may lead to new dangers and battles with deadly enemies.
Like The Fourth Star, the scenario’s Underworld locations can lead to difficult choices. Can you muster enough Willpower to quest successfully each turn, even while leaving the location in the staging area? If you explore the location, will you survive the new threats you encounter? While the Dark Lord’s agents continue to advance their conspiracy, the underworld is truly a dangerous place. In The Steward’s Fear, every step leads deeper into shadow, and every stranger is a potential threat. There’s no time for false steps; you must press quickly to find the clues you need to unravel the mystery before Gondor is compromised!
The Next Step in Your Epic Saga
The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game and its expansions have carried players to Dol Guldur, through the shadows of Mirkwood, through the Misty Mountains, to the Last Homely House, to the doors of Moria, and through the dark tunnels in the bowels of Khazad-dûm. Players have had the opportunity to battle the Balrog and defend Gondor from siege. Soon, you’ll have your next chance to quest against the growing Shadow!
Download the rulesheet for The Steward’s Fear (pdf, 1.2 MB) to learn more about its new challenges. Next week, this Adventure Pack arrives to open the Against the Shadow cycle and lead you deep into the next phase of your epic journeys through Middle-earth!