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Author Topic: Beginner's Articles, READ this before asking any questions!  (Read 10132 times)
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Witchkingx5
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« on: December 23, 2009, 09:07:23 AM »

I decided to post the old Decipher's strategy articles that should make many things clearer. The articles are not written by myself, I just copied them a long time ago and now found them on my hard disc. These articles are from the beginning of the game, but the main statements are still adaptable.

ARTICLE 1:

The Lord Of The Rings™ TCG Help Clinic
Part 1 - Movement

(by Mark Tuttle (elrond@decipher.com))

In J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord Of The Rings, the path taken by Frodo, Sam ,and their companions was a long one. By some accounts, the Fellowship traveled upwards of a thousand miles. In The Lord Of The Rings Trading Card Game, the distance is not nearly so great, but it is still filled with danger and adventure! Moving your fellowship through many perils requires careful strategy, the right support cards, and often reckless abandon! This article describes the mechanics and strategy of your adventure deck and how your fellowship moves down the adventure path.

THE ADVENTURE DECK
Rule Summary: Each player brings their own 9-card adventure deck to the game. The number in the upper left-hand corner of a site is the site number, and a player's adventure deck must contain one site for each site number from 1 to 9. The order of cards in the adventure deck is unimportant, since whenever a site is required from your adventure deck, you simply pick the entire adventure deck up and search through it for the site you need.

Strategy: With several cards available for each site number, building this deck requires careful planning. Your site deck could be designed offensively to hinder your opponent as he moves through your sites, or defensively to protect and aid your fellowship. Whichever you decide, whether or not your site enters play depends upon a few factors.

IT'S ALL IN THE BID
Rule Summary: When you bid for turn placement at the start of the game, you're vying for the right to choose where your turn will be in the play order. The player who goes first will play site number 1 from their adventure deck.

Strategy: If your deck or companion requirements depend upon getting certain cards into play quickly, you will want to bid higher. For example, if you want Aragorn in play early, but do not want to start with him in your fellowship, bid high, go first, and play The Prancing Pony. Or perhaps you have a strategy based around Hobbits and would like to get Sam out quickly. The Green Dragon Inn is your key. But always remember that bidding high places more burdens on your Ring-bearer!

Example
: Imagine a game with two players, Bill and Mike. Bill reveals a bid of 4 tokens to Mike's 2. Bill chooses to go first and plays The Prancing Pony. Mike's site number 1, Bag End, will now probably not see play at all.

MOVE IT, PEOPLE!
Rule Summary: The Free Peoples player must move to the site with the next highest site number at the end of their fellowship phase. There is no choice in this move. The quest of the Ring is an urgent one, and no loitering (or moving backwards) will be tolerated!

If the next site is not on table, the Free Peoples player looks at the arrow on the current site card. From his perspective, it will show who plays the next site – either the player to the left or the player to the right. Of course, in a two-player game this is always the same person, your opponent! That player simply looks through his adventure deck and plays the site of the appropriate number (one higher than the site number of the site being moved from).

If the next site is already on the table, simply move your fellowship marker to that site. Add twilight tokens for the new site's shadow number and the number of companions as described in the rule book on page 19.

Strategy: An easy rule of thumb, and important strategy note, is that the Free Peoples player who is in the lead will be traveling on sites played by his opponent(s)! If you want to win, you must face whatever evil your opponent has designed for you. Additionally, the player who is trying to catch up will have the benefit of his own sites (especially in two player games).

Example: Bill has played all the cards he wants to in his first turn fellowship phase, and is now forced to move to site 2. Since he is leading the charge, site 2 is not on the table. Bill looks at site #1, The Prancing Pony, and specifically at the arrow on the bottom of the card. When oriented to face Bill, the arrow is pointing to the left. This means that the player to his left gets to play site #2 out of his adventure deck. Mike looks through his adventure deck and plays Ettenmoors, placing it next to site number 1. Bill moves his fellowship marker there, and adds the appropriate number of tokens to the twilight pool for the number of companions and the shadow number on the Ettenmoors site. (Note: It's very convenient to lay your adventure Path up the side of the table, perpendicular to the Fellowship and Support areas of the players. For a visual, check out the recommended table layout graphic here.)

Please note also that both players are using the same adventure path, and no more than 9 sites are ever in play at anytime.

SHALL WE CONTINUE?
Rule Summary: When the fellowship player reaches his regroup phase, he faces one of his biggest choices. Firstly, any regroup actions may be played, and the shadow players may then discard a card from hand and then draw or discard to reconcile their hand size to exactly 8 cards. Now the fellowship must choose to either:
(a) Discard a card from hand (optional), and then he must draw/discard to exactly 8 cards. OR
Move again.

Moving again is only possible if the move limit permits. Your move limit defines the maximum number of times your fellowship can move on your turn. For a multiplayer game it is equal to the number of opponents you had at the start of the game. Thus in a 4 player game, your move limit is 3. The move limit for a 2 player game is 2, which means in a normal turn, a fellowship player may move twice (one forced move during his fellowship phase, and one optional move during his regroup phase). Some cards and sites affect the move limit, permitting additional moves if the Free Peoples player chooses.

Strategy: Remember, if you choose to move during your regroup phase, there are a number of factors working against you.

   1. Any surviving minions will chase you to the next site, and attack again.
   2. The shadow players have all refilled their hands. You have not.
   3. Any leftover pool remains, and will be added to by your movement.
   4. The turn sequence returns to a shadow phase. Thus you get no fellowship phase, and therefore no chance to play more companions, allies, possessions or conditions.

Be very sure. This decision can be the difference between victory and defeat.

Example: Bill survives all the skirmishes at the Ettenmoors, and no player has any regroup actions. The shadow player discards a card from hand, and draws back up to 8. Bill thinks he is in good shape and decides to push on to the sanctuary of site 3. He declares he will move again (his second move this turn, permissible as the move limit is 2). There is no site 3 on table, so Mike searches his adventure deck and places his site 3, Rivendell Waterfall, at the end of the adventure path. Bill moves his marker, adds twilight tokens for site number (which is 0 in this case) and number of companions, and then Mike unleashes more minions to thwart him.

THE WINDS OF CHANGE
Strategy: Several cards allow you to play or replace a site with your own version of that same site number from your adventure deck. This is especially handy if you're using a card like the Elven ally Silinde, which allows you to copy the text of a site. Using the game text of cards like Hobbit Farmer, you may replace your opponent's site with your own. (Your opponent's site is returned to his adventure Deck.) Plus, cards like Pathfinder allow you to play the next site instead of an opponent, and can be played strategically when you need to move into your own site to either avoid a bad situation, or to use your own site's game text.

Example: Bill survives all the skirmishes at the the Rivendell Waterfall. He now enters his second regroup phase this turn. as the first regroup action, he plays the Gondor event Pathfinder, using Aragorn as his ranger. Pathfinder instructs him to immediately play the next site from his adventure deck. He plays his site 4, Pass Of Caradhras, so he can use its game text when he is the shadow player, as well as avoiding going underground too early (he is worried that Mike is playing with Cave Trolls!)

Normally, Bill's turn would end now, but the text of Rivendell Waterfall says "While you can spot a ranger at Rivendell Waterfall, the move limit is +1 for this turn." This means that Bill's move limit is now 3 for the rest of the turn, so he can choose advance to the Pass of Caradhras now! Should he try to stretch his lead, or should he stop at the sancturay and take advantage of the healing, and perhaps use the extra move limit next turn (for he will begin his next turn with that same game text in effect). Tough decision!

CONCLUSION
This is all you need to know about movement! The strategy of movement in The Lord of The Rings Trading Card Game goes beyond what we've discussed here, but you will discover that as you play more. For now, address your rules questions to elrond@decipher.com, and stay tuned for more articles to help you on your way to adventure!
« Last Edit: August 14, 2010, 03:28:49 AM by Witchkingx5 » Logged



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« Reply #1 on: December 23, 2009, 09:09:14 AM »

ARTICLE 2:

The Lord of the Rings™ TCG Help Clinic
Part 2 - Assignment

by Mark Tuttle (elrond@decipher.com)

There are many strategic elements to Decipher's The Lord of the Rings Trading Card Game. Possibly the most important happens in the assignment phase. This is where you decide which of your fellowship's companions face off against which of the attacking minions of Shadow. A favorable pairing can result in driving away the Nazgûl or a resounding kill of a rampaging Orc. A bad pairing can result in a lost possession (at best), wounds, or even death.

The assignment phase takes place once your opponents have completed their Shadow phases, and minions have been played to the table. These minions are now charging toward your fellowship with the intent on killing them! Deciding which of the bold companions steps up to defend the Ring-bearer happens now!

IT'S TIME FOR ACTION!
Rule Summary: Once the archery phase has completed, it's time to begin the assignment phase. The first step in is to perform any assignment actions, as indicated by the "Assignment:" special ability on cards like #147 Uruk Guard. These actions are performed in alternating order starting with the current Free Peoples player and using the action procedure described in the rulebook on page 22.

Strategy: Currently, these assignment actions all benefit the Shadow player since most allow minions to choose which of the companions they will skirmish. Further, cards like #169 The End Comes can even force the Ring-bearer to come out from behind the relative safety of a large fellowship and force him to fight. Don't overlook the importance of this part the assignment phase!!

YOU WANT A PIECE OF ME?
Rules Summary: Once the assignment actions are complete, it's time to assign defenders. The Free Peoples player gets the first chance to assign in this part of the phase. Each companion may be assigned to one minion. The exception here, is that a companion with "defender +1" may be assigned to 2 minions (and "defender +2" allows assignment to 3 minions, and so on).

The Free Peoples player does not have to assign every companion to a minion, even if there are more minions than companions. From a strategy point of view, it's a usually a good idea for the Free Peoples player to decide as many of the assignments as possible, as this is better protection for your Ring-bearer. Move your companions (or participating allies) in front of the minion that they are assigned to, indicating what the assignments are. Once an assignment is made, it can't be undone unless a card or action permits it.

Once the Free Peoples player has completed his assignments, each Shadow player in turn may then assign his unassigned minions to whatever companions he chooses, regardless of whether or not they are already assigned to a minion. This means that a Shadow player who can bring more minions into play than there are companions (or participating allies at home sites) can use these minions to "gang up" on a companion. This is an especially good situation for the relatively cheap Moria culture, which make great "Goblin Swarm" decks!

Examples:

The Shadow player has played two Uruk Ragers. The fellowship has Frodo, Son of Drogo and Aragorn, Ranger of the North in play. Aragorn has exerted once using the special ability on his card to make him defender +1. Several things may happen here.

   1. Aragorn may be assigned to defend against both of the Uruk Ragers. This leaves Frodo free from skirmishing that turn.
   2. Aragorn may be assigned to one Uruk Rager and Frodo to the other.
   3. Aragorn may be assigned to one Uruk Rager and the Free Peoples player may announce that he is finished assigning. At this point, the Shadow player has the choice of assigning the remaining Uruk Rager to Aragorn or to Frodo.
   4. The Free Peoples player could assign no companions, and announce that he is done assigning defenders. Here, the Shadow player could assign the two Uruk Ragers to whichever companions he wishes.

Strategy: There are many ways to play this phase, and it's one of the most important decisions each turn. In the above examples, each option is strategically sound depending on how well you can support each.

In example #1, if you have some possessions on Aragorn or are holding some event cards that will buff his strength, this is the way to go. It protects your Ring-bearer from some dangerous damage +1 wounding. However, you had better be sure to win this skirmish, as you'll take 3 wounds if Aragorn loses!

In example #2, you're assuming that you will, at best, survive the skirmish with Frodo, or be able to cancel it. There are a lot of factors that can be assumed here, but by spreading out the skirmish assignments you're spreading out the wounds you might take that turn.

In example #3, you're running more of a bluff, to see what the Shadow player will do. You might be baiting him to try to kill Aragorn by assigning the extra Uruk Rager to him, when you know you're holding cards that will enable Aragorn to win this skirmish. The Shadow player could assign that minion to Frodo so the Free Peoples player should be certain he could survive that skirmish as well, just in case.

In example #4, you could be very sneaky, and hope that a greedy Shadow player will attempt to overwhelm Frodo by assigning both Uruk Ragers to him, while you quickly cancel that skirmish with "Hobbit Stealth" or any of the other Shire culture cards that cancel skirmishes involving Hobbits. The nice part of this strategy is that not only did you survive the skirmish with no wounding, you did so by only using 1 card from your hand! That's great card efficiency!

LET'S ROLL!
Once the assignments are complete, it's time to move on to the skirmish phase and see how well each player plays their hand.

CONCLUSION
So that's all there is to the assignment phase. Games are won and lost based on the decisions made in this phase, so it's very important for you to be aware of the options available. In your own games, you'll find your own ways to protect your Ring-bearer, bluff your opponent and (as a Shadow player) use assignment actions to surprise your opponents! If you have any rules questions, feel free to send them to me at elrond@decipher.com, and watch for more help clinic articles coming soon!
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« Reply #2 on: December 23, 2009, 09:10:59 AM »

ARTICLE 3:

The Lord of the Rings™ TCG Help Clinic
Part 3 - Skirmishing

by Mark Tuttle (elrond@decipher.com)

When Frodo and company set off from the Shire on what, inevitably, became a quest to destroy The One Ring, they had hoped to do so with little strife from the roaming dangers that they could only assume they would come across. This is probably the same for players of The Lord of the Rings TCG. You'd like to be able to proceed up the Adventure Path quickly and quietly, but you know that, sooner or later, someone is going to come along and pick a fight with you. This article describes what happens during the Skirmish phase, and offers a bit of strategy to help you survive the encounters.

WELCOME TO THE PARTY
Rule Summary: When you enter the skirmish phase, all assignments, maneuver, and archery actions have passed. (We'll discuss those phases in other Help Clinic articles.) At this point, every Shadow minion should be assigned to a companion, and some companions will be assigned to minions, with perhaps some hanging back and watching or supporting the skirmishers.

The Free Peoples player gets to decide which skirmish resolves first. Meaning, he points to a match-up on the table and says, "We'll do this one first". This can be very important strategically, as we'll discuss momentarily. Now, any "Skirmish:" actions may be declared related to that skirmish. This is done using the action procedure defined in the maneuver phase instructions on page 22 of The Lord of the Rings TCG Rulebook.

Example:
Aragorn, Ranger of the North is assigned to skirmish an Ancient Chieftain. Currently, Aragorn is strength 8 to the Ancient Chieftain's strength 9. Should the Free Peoples player pass at this point, it's quite likely the Shadow player will pass and the skirmish will resolve, resulting in a wound being placed on Aragorn. So, the Free Peoples player plays #116 Swordarm of the White Tower, raising his strength +2 for a total of 10. The Shadow player now plays #201 Unfamiliar Territory to add +2, for a total of 11. The Free Peoples player has nothing further to play so he now passes. Since he is winning the skirmish, the Shadow player also passes, thus forcing the skirmish to resolve.

In a skirmish, the winner is the character with the higher strength. Since Aragorn has a 10 to the minion total of 11, Aragorn takes 1 wound for losing the skirmish. Note that since sometimes it pays to be evil, the minions win all ties! This means that if the Ancient Chieftain had a strength of 10, he would still win the skirmish.

The Free Peoples player then points to the next skirmish and it is played out in the same fashion, until all skirmishes have been resolved.

SECOND VERSE, SAME AS THE FIRST...
Rules Summary: Once all skirmishes have resolved, there's a good possibility that your fellowship is not done fighting yet. If any of the minions are fierce, then you're not quite out of the woods. Fierce means exactly what you would think. This minion is so crazed, so driven to get at the Ring-bearer, that even though he won or lost (without dying) a previous skirmish, he comes back for more! So, the fierce minion steps up again, and the Free Peoples player must assign another companion (or ally if at their home site) to skirmish him. At this point, you go through exactly the same sequence of events as the previous skirmishes.

IT'S ALL IN THE DETAILS
There are many things that can change the events in a skirmish phase, and many details that you need to be made aware of.

Defender +1
This keyword indicates that a companion is such an expert fighter, that he can take on two minions at the same time, thus sparing another companion for skirmishing the second. In a situation with a defender +1 companion, you take the additional minion and add his strength to the first, giving you a combined minion strength total. That is what you compare to the companion total to determine the winner.

Example:
Aragorn, Ranger of the North was exerted in the Maneuver phase to make him defender +1. Frodo is the only other member of the fellowship in play and the Shadow player played two Uruk Shaman. The Free Peoples player has little choice than to try and protect Frodo from a damage +1 beating or possibly being overwhelmed. Once the skirmish begins, Aragorn has a strength of 8 and the minion strength is 16 (8+8). Note that this is not resolved as two skirmishes, but rather one with the minions' strength combined.

Without getting into a lot of card play, there are three ways this can resolve:

   1. Aragorn (through strength buffs) wins. Each minion involved in the skirmish takes a wound for being on the losing side of a skirmish. Notice that both minions take a wound.
   2. Aragorn manages a strength buff, but still loses and takes 1 wound for losing a skirmish, then an additional wound for each damage +1. Since he exerted in the Maneuver phase to make himself defender +1, it's a pretty good bet he's on his way to the dead pile.
   3. Aragorn has a strength of 8 and is overwhelmed by the two Uruk Shaman.

It is important that you understand what happens in examples 1 and 2 and how the wounds are distributed. We'll explain the damage +1 now.

Damage +1
This means that the character hits very hard. Some cultures like the Uruk-hai have this keyword built in, whereas companions can get it from weapons and the like. Anytime a character loses a skirmish to a damage +1 character, the losing character takes 1 wound for losing the skirmish, and then an additional wound for each damage +1.

Overwhelmed
There is another possibility during a skirmish that we must discuss. This is when one character is so powerful that the losing character is overwhelmed. In The Lord of the Rings TCG, if a character has double or more strength than the character they're assigned to, the losing character is immediately killed. When this happens, there is no placing or preventing of wounds, and no converting wounds to burdens. If your character is being overwhelmed, then your character dies.

Example:
Pippin, Friend to Frodo has been assigned to the Cave Troll. (Some play circles would refer to Pippin as a "speed bump" at this point.) Pippin's strength is 3. The Cave Troll is strength 15. Obviously, 15 is more than double 3. Note that there is no consideration of wounds or burdens when it comes to being overwhelmed. Thus, no wound avoidance strategies will do anything to prevent this. If you're overwhelmed and the skirmish resolves, you simply die, as Pippin did in this case.

There are several cards that make being overwhelmed more difficult by requiring the opponent to have triple (or more) the power to overwhelm your character. Card #286 Bounder does this nicely for Hobbits, although he wouldn't have been much help to Pippin in the above example.

YOU'RE STILL HERE?
Once all skirmishes are complete and any fierce skirmishes have also resolved, there's a good chance you'll still be looking at minions on the table, if any survived. Remember that if your fellowship has movement left this turn, and you decide to use it, these surviving minions will pursue you to the next site. Further, they will probably be joined by more minions coming from the freshly reconciled Shadow player hand. Take stock of the wounds your companions took during the last skirmish phase and carefully weigh the options!

CONCLUSION
No amount of battle avoidance will keep you out of skirmishing forever and your archers will not always be able to clear a path for your marching companions. You will skirmish frequently, so you need to learn the subtle strategies that will help you survive it. The best tip is to read your cards!! After that, read your opponent's cards. Know what a minion you're skirmishing can and can't do. Skirmishes will not always be easily resolved by one side or another just taking a wound. A crafty player will construct a minion army full of skirmish special abilities that can seriously hamper your fellowship's journey.

If you have any rules questions, feel free to send them to me at elrond@decipher.com, and watch for more help clinic articles coming soon!
« Last Edit: December 23, 2009, 09:22:12 AM by Witchkingx5 » Logged

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« Reply #3 on: December 23, 2009, 09:13:21 AM »

ARTICLE 4:

The Lord of the Rings™ TCG Help Clinic
Part 4 - Maneuver Phase and the Action Procedure

by Mark Tuttle (elrond@decipher.com)

This time around, we're going to discuss the maneuver phase and the timing of actions in The Lord of the Rings TCG. There are some very important lessons to be learned here, especially if you're a relative newcomer to Trading Card Games. You'll see a lot of terminology that will be boldfaced to get your attention. However, I'll give you card-based examples with almost each word to tell you how they're played out in a real game scenario.

Maneuver Phase
The maneuver phase is one of the more misunderstood phases of the game. Many players who don't yet have a lot of cards aren't sure what this phase is for. The reason for this is because there are no rule-based mechanics that take place specifically in the maneuver phases. At the start of your turn, if you're at a sanctuary, you may heal up to 5 wounds on your companions. This is a rule-based mechanic. The maneuver phase contains no such rules. It is currently only a phase for playing card-based actions. There are cards with the timing word "Maneuver:" and text that tells you what to do.

The rulebook specifies that this is when you play maneuver actions, and it tells you how to play them. This procedure is called the action procedure, which we need to discuss first.

Let's See Some Action!
Since the very first TCGs hit the market, timing has become the bane of players and designers alike. Timing is essentially a measure of how fast, or in what order, you play an action and how, and when, your opponent can react to it. I've played TCGs since the beginning, and have actually seen timing arguments come down to fist fights. It can get ugly if the game designers aren't careful to come up with a timing model that is solid and consistent. Fortunately, the designers of The Lord of the Rings TCG have honed the model developed in other Decipher games like Star Wars and Star Trek, and tailored it to the specifics of gameplay in The Lord of the Rings TCG.

The Action Procedure
Upon entering any phase, the current Free Peoples player gets the first opportunity to perform an action. An action is playing a card, declaring game text (such as: "Exert Aragorn to make him defender +1..."), and so on. Once an action is played, the player to the right may play a response to that action. A response is an action that directly affects the previous action played. In The Lord of the Rings TCG, responses are specifically identified by the timing word "Response:".

In a multiplayer game (with three or more players), Shadow players get a chance to respond to a Free Peoples action starting from the Free Peoples' right, and moving around the play circle in a counter-clockwise order. Thus, one action by a Free Peoples player could be responded to by any number of Shadow players.

Once all responses to actions have been finished, the action will resolve when all players pass consecutively. A pass is when a player announces that they have no actions or responses to play. When both players pass, the pending action passes.

This is best described through example:

Let's assume that we're in a skirmish phase featuring "Aragorn, Ranger of the North" and "Lurtz".

The skirmish phase begins:
Aragorn has a strength of 8. Lurtz is strength 13 and is roaming.

FP: plays "Swordsman of the Northern Kingdom". Aragorn is now strength +4, for a total of 12. SH: plays "Lurtz's Battle Cry". Lurtz is now strength -1 for a total of 12 and now damage +1.

This is how you would play it in a friendly game. However, there's more happening here which we'll show you using the action procedure!

Let's use the same setup:

The skirmish phase begins:
Aragorn has a strength of 8. Lurtz is strength 13 and is roaming.

FP: plays "Swordsman of the Northern Kingdom".
SH: has no response and passes. (The Shadow player has no card marked "Response:" that would directly affect the playing of "Swordsman of the Northern Kingdom".)
FP: passes...so the pending action, playing "Swordsman..." resolves and the strength is adjusted. Aragorn is now strength +4, for a total of 12.

Now, the Shadow player gets the chance to play an action, since actions alternate to the right of the FP player.
SH: plays "Lurtz's Battle Cry".
FP: decides to respond by playing a response and plays "Strength of Kings" to cancel that skirmish event. (Note that "Strength of Kings" is a response that will directly cancel "Lurtz's Battle Cry".)
SH: has no response and passes
FP: passes
The pending action, "Strength of Kings," resolves since both players passed consecutively, so "Lurtz's Battle Cry" is cancelled.

When "Strength of Kings" was played, that then becomes the pending action. Responses then can be played until both players pass consecutively when the pending action resolves. You then move up to the previous pending action, which was "Lurtz's Battle Cry", which is cancelled. Since the Shadow player got an action, even though it was cancelled, it's now back to the Free Peoples player to play an action, or the next Shadow player if you're playing a multiplayer (more than 2 players) game.

If you're scratching your head about what just happened, don't worry. It's much more intuitive in our first example. The second, and more detailed example, is just to show you the mechanics of how it's actually playing out. In your neighborhood games, that's how it will play. When you decide to go for the World Championship, you had better have a clear understanding of the details!

Who's On First?
Remember, the Free Peoples player gets the first action in any phase. In addition, when all players pass consecutively, the pending action resolves. Once an action resolves, it's too late to respond to it. Here's another, real game example:

The skirmish phase begins:
Aragorn has a strength of 8. Lurtz is strength 13 and is roaming.

FP: wants to play "Swordsman of the Northern Kingdom" but wants to see what the Shadow player will do and passes.
SH: has no response and passes.
The skirmish resolves and Aragorn takes two wounds.

Huh? What happened?

What happened, is that the Shadow player realized that since Lurtz was already a higher strength, and was already winning the skirmish, all he had to do was pass to force the skirmish to resolve. The Free Peoples player didn't have time to respond since he passed his first action. Remember, when both player's pass consecutively, the pending action resolves! Thus, when you want to play "Hobbit Stealth" to cancel a skirmish with your Ring-bearer, you should play it first! This is a very important point about the pass - pass mechanic! Now, it's entirely possible that the Shadow player could have continued to play skirmish events to go for a fierce skirmish or an overwhelm, but the point is that he forced the skirmish to resolve.

Again, this is a complicated example, but it's also important information.

A Few Maneuvers
Okay, so we've seen how the action procedure works. You may be wondering, why the action procedure is spelled out in the rulebook under the maneuver phase. It's not because this is the only phase where you will do this. Rather, this was a convenient place to put it in the rulebook, and this is the first phase where you'll possibly put it to use.

Conclusion
So, that's really about all there is to the maneuver phase and the action procedure. It might seem overly complicated, but it does offer a blueprint for resolving timing issues when they start piling up. If you get into a timing situation that you and your opponent cannot resolve, just step back, and go step by step using the definition of the action procedure. If you need any help or have questions, please email me at elrond@decipher.com.
« Last Edit: December 23, 2009, 09:21:48 AM by Witchkingx5 » Logged

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« Reply #4 on: December 23, 2009, 09:17:00 AM »

ARTICLE 5:

The Lord of the Rings™ TCG Help Clinic
Part 5 - Archery

by Mark Tuttle (elrond@decipher.com)

The Lord of the Rings is frequently described as "sword and sorcery" fantasy. This brings up the image of wizards throwing spells back and forth and the clanging of steel on steel. However, anyone living in this fantasy world would be well advised to listen for the whistle of arrows! Archery has always been an important part of fantasy gaming, as it's usually the first volley in an attack. This is also the case in The Lord of the Rings TCG. In fact, archery is a powerful technique that every player should master to be successful!

THE SLINGS AND ARROWS OF OUTRAGEOUS FORTUNE
Rule Summary: Once the maneuver phase is over, you enter the archery phase. The archery phase begins with archery actions. These are indicated by the "Archery:" special ability text. There are many cards that utilize this text and many can cause damage that you can direct toward the minion of your choice. Let's look at a few examples:

Legolas, Greenleaf
This is probably the ultimate example of the power of an "Archery:" special ability.
Card Text: Archery: Exert Legolas to wound a minion. Legolas does not add to the archery total.
Assuming that Legolas is at full vitality, then he can be exerted twice. Let's say the Shadow player has played two 1 vitality Goblin Warriors. In the archery action phase, you can exert Legolas, Greenleaf once to wound, thus killing the first Goblin Warrior. Then, when it's your action again, you could exert him again to wound and kill the second Goblin Warrior. For the cost of two exertions, you've cleared all the minions before you even get to the assignment phase!

Or, you could exert Legolas two times to put two wounds on the same minion. It's your choice where you decide to place these wounds.

Note that the above example also works for Aragorn (either version) bearing Aragorn's Bow. Even better, Aragorn has one more vitality than Legolas so he can exert three times! However, there is a downside to both Legolas, Greenleaf and Aragorn's Bow. Should you decide to use this archery special ability, you do not add to the archery total with these cards. We'll cover that in just a moment.

Orophin, Lorien Bowman and Rumil, Elven Protector
These are two powerful allies that have very specific archery special abilities. Both have the ability similar to Legolas, Greenleaf that lets you direct wounds to specific minions. However, Orophin may only wound an Uruk-hai and Rumil may only wound an Orc (Moria or Sauron). You're probably thinking that's somewhat limiting, and it is. However, notice the text. Using the archery special ability on these two allies does NOT prevent them from adding to the archery total. When the fellowship is at site six, the home site for these two allies, not only can they use their archery special ability, but they also add to the archery total. If you have both of them in play, and fully healed, at site six, Orophin and Rumil may do 3 wounds each, or a combined 6 wounds to attacking minions! That's more than Legolas, Greenleaf!

One last note about these two cards. The rules specify that you may use the special ability text on allies at any site, not just their home site. When you have these two in play, you may exert them to wound their target minions at any site the fellowship is at.

As with other phases, the Free Peoples player gets the first action in each phase. However, the Free Peoples player isn't the only player with possible actions in the archery action phase. Let's look at a Shadow card example.

Bitter Hatred
This Moria culture card allows you to spot a Moria Orc archer to wound an Elf. In the above example with Legolas, Greenleaf, I was careful to indicate that each time you exert Legolas is a separate action. As we learned in the last Help Clinic article on the maneuver phase and the action procedure, when the Free Peoples player resolves an action, the Shadow player gets an action. So when Legolas exerts to wound an Orc, the Shadow player would then be able to play Bitter Hatred to wound Legolas. Since that would be two wounds on Legolas, he would be exhausted and could not "fire" again.

A few other cards have archery special abilities that take place during this first part of the archery phase. They are self-explanatory. Most of them add to the archery total, which we'll use in the second part of the phase.

Participating in Archery Fire
There is another example of cards that get special consideration in the archery phase. Several cards allow allies to participate in archery fire and skirmishes, even when the fellowship is not at their home site. It's very important to understand exactly what this means, and doesn't mean. Let's look at two examples.

Swan-ship of the Galadhrim
Card text: Maneuver: Exert an Elf ally whose home is site 6. Until the regroup phase, that ally is strength +3 and participates in archery fire and skirmishes.
First, this special ability must be used in the maneuver phase. If you try to do this when you get to the archery phase, it's too late. This allows one of your home site 6 allies to participate in archery fire and skirmishes with the fellowship regardless of what site the fellowship is at. This means that cards like Orophin could add to the archery total at any site, 1-9. Plus, he is eligible to have archery wounds assigned to him and then assign and skirmish.

Let's look at another card that offers a different situation.

Thrarin, Dwarven Smith
Card text: Maneuver: Exert Thrarin to allow him to participate in archery fire and skirmishes until the regroup phase.
This card works very similar to the Swan-ship of Galadhrim. However, one important difference, is that this does NOT give the keyword of archer. In the last example, Orophin was already an archer. Allowing a character to participate in archery fire does nothing more than permit you to assign archery wounds to them if they are not already an archer. Outside of the "bow" possessions, there are no cards that will make a non-archer an archer.

COUNT 'EM UP
Once all of the archery actions have taken place, it's time to finish the archery phase. The second part of this requires us to calculate the archery total.

Rules Summary: All Shadow players total up all of their minions with the "archer" keyword (and any other cards that add to the archery total such as the Sauron culture card Orc Bowmen) to determine the Shadow archery total. Note that in a game with more than two players, all Shadow players total up their archery totals, and then combine that into one Shadow archery total.

Then, the Free Peoples player adds up his archery total using the same criteria. Note that if they fellowship is currently at the home site as any archer allies you count any of them with the archer keyword into that total as well.

Make sure that any cards that affect the archery total, both negatively or positively are factored into the archery total. Cards like Uruk-hai Armory subtract from the fellowship total.

When the archery totals are calculated, it's time to assign wounds based on those numbers. The Free Peoples player assigns wounds to his companions (and allies that are participating) equal to the Shadow player's archery total. Once that is done, the Shadow player then assigns wounds to his minions equal to the fellowship archery total. If there is more than one Shadow player, the current Free Peoples player decides which Shadow player will place those wounds on his own minions.

On either side, wounds may be assigned up to the full vitality of any character, thus killing it. Wounds are assigned one at a time. Thus, if you had a character with two vitality and needed to assign three wounds from archery fire, you could assign two to that character, kill it, and then assign that remaining to another character. You cannot assign more wounds to a character than what would kill it.

Examples:
There are many things going on here, and many points that require some clarification. First, we'll explain the archery totals.

Let's say, for example, the fellowship archery total is four after all modifiers. The Shadow archery total is two. The Free Peoples player assigns two wounds to his companions, one on Aragorn and one on Frodo. The Shadow player then has to assign four wounds. He places two wounds on his Uruk Slayer, which will kill it immediately. He then places one on Lurtz and one on an Uruk Savage.

An important concept here is that archery wounds are decided and placed by the owner of the characters that are being wounded. Meaning, that the Shadow player is sending two arrows over, but the Free Peoples player decides where (or rather, in who) they land. This is in contrast to the archery action special abilities that allow a player to deal that damage directly to the opponent's characters. A smart strategy for archery actions is to try to take out the archers on the other side to prevent them from adding into the archery total later in the phase.

Frequently Asked Questions
A question that is frequently asked is "Why does the fellowship takes archery wounds first?" The best visualization for this comes from the film The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring itself. In the Mines of Moria, when the Fellowship is in Balin's Tomb, two arrows from a Goblin Archer narrowly miss Boromir. The cowardly minions always fire first, with our valiant heroes returning fire.

Here's another interesting point from this example. Let's say that Aragorn and Frodo were the only companions, and both were exhausted. The fellowship player MUST account for both of those wounds. Frodo would then take a wound and be killed, causing the Free Peoples player to lose the game. Due to the text on The Ruling Ring, he could NOT put the Ring on to convert that wound to a burden. However, the other version of the Ring, Isildur's Bane, allows you to put on the Ring anytime in response to taking a wound. Yes, Frodo would take two burdens, but in this specific example, it would prevent the loss of the game.

A last point here relates to timing. Let's replace Aragorn with Legolas in the previous example. Further, we'll assume that the fellowship archery total is 1 from Legolas' archer keyword. If Legolas died due to the Shadow archery, the fellowship archery total is still 1, as it is calculated before the assigning of the archery wounds.

Rules Summary: The last thing to note about the archery phase, is that at the end of the phase, if there are no minions left at the end of this phase, then you proceed directly to the regroup phase. Neither player will be able to play any assignment or skirmish phase actions.

CONCLUSION
Archery is powerful, and can offer a crafty player the ability to decide who will be available for assignment in the next phase. It is a powerful Elven strategy but cards like Aragorn's Bow make it available to other cultures. It is not limited to Free Peoples cards, and you must be wary of minion archers like Lurtz whose creaking bow and sapling-sized arrows delivered many painful blows in The Fellowship of the Ring.

If you have any rules questions, feel free to send them to me at elrond@decipher.com. If there are specific topics you would like to see future Help Clinics on, please let us know!
« Last Edit: December 23, 2009, 09:21:33 AM by Witchkingx5 » Logged

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« Reply #5 on: December 23, 2009, 09:19:06 AM »

ARTICLE 6:

The Lord of the Rings™ TCG Help Clinic
Part 6 – Start of Turn and the Fellowship Phase

by Mark Tuttle (elrond@decipher.com)

Starting the Game
In this Help Clinic article, we'll give you the information you need to start playing a game of The Lord of the Rings TCG and cover the options available to the Free Peoples player during the fellowship phase. As with any of the other phases in the game, there are a multitude of strategic choices that you can make that will result in very different outcomes. The first of these, obviously, begin with constructing your deck.

Rules Summary:
In The Lord of the Rings TCG you and your opponent are each playing a fellowship that is moving up the same adventure path. Thus, every players deck will consist of these elements:

    The One Ring – You currently have two choices here, "The Ruling Ring" or "Isildur's Bane". For details on which you should use, consult the Help Clinic article on Archery.

    Frodo – Again, you currently have a few choices as to which version of the Ring-bearer you will use.

    Adventure Deck – This will consist of nine site cards, numbered 1 through 9. You will want to pick sites that either specifically benefit your fellowship or sites that will hurt your opponent. See the Help Clinic article on Movement for details on how sites work.

The preceding eleven cards do NOT count toward your deck total. These are "freebies" that you bring to the table. You must also bring a draw deck that must consist of at least the following:

    30 Free Peoples cards – as identified by the round icon in the upper left corner of the card

    30 Shadow cards – as identified by the diamond icon in the upper left corner of the card

Note that there is no upper limit, meaning you can have as many cards as you like. However, your deck must always be at least 60 cards and must have an equal amount of Free Peoples and Shadow cards. In The Lord of the Rings TCG you are limited to no more than four of any card in your deck. When dealing with characters the four card limit counts for card titles, not sub-titles. So you could have four copies of Boromir in your deck, two of which are "Boromir Son of Denethor" and two of "Boromir Lord of Gondor". You are not allowed to have four copies of each.

You'll also need tokens for wounds, different tokens for burdens and one token representing your fellowship's place on the adventure path. The Lord of the Rings Trading Card Game Deluxe Starters contain all of the above, including tokens and a pre-constructed deck so you can get started playing right away.

Bidding and the Starting Fellowship
The first thing you'll do in the game is bid for your position in the play circle. We covered bidding in the Help Clinic article on assignments, so we won't do so again here. Once that is complete, the first player will play his starting fellowship.

The starting fellowship represents Frodo and additional companions (or even just one) to help him along the way. For your starting fellowship, you're allowed to spend four Twilight on this starting fellowship. Frodo is free, so you have most any other companion to choose from. There are, however, a few limitations:

   1. These four points may be spent on companions only. You may not use them to bring allies into play.
   2. These points may not be used for possessions, such as weapons or staffs.
   3. If a card contains text that requires something to be in play as a condition to play the card, you must be able to meet that requirement. For example, "Lorien Elf" says "To play, spot an Elf". "Spot" means that you should be able to see a card that is active. If you do not yet have an elf in play and active, you cannot yet play this card. Thus, "Lorien Elf" could not be played as your first starting companion. You must play another Elf companion first. Play "Arwen" or "Legolas", then you can spot an elf and play the "Lorien Elf".
   4. Your starting fellowship counts as part of your Free Peoples half of your draw deck. "Frodo" and The One Ring do not. (Note that that your starting "Frodo" DOES count toward the "four cards per deck limit" so your draw deck could contain no more than three additional copies of any "Frodo").

When you play a companion in your starting fellowship, their text is active immediately. So if you should play "Pippin, Hobbit of Some Intelligence", his text reads "When you play Pippin, remove a wound or burden from a companion." By playing him, you could immediately remove a burden from your Ring-bearer that you placed there as your opening bid.

However, card text that lowers the cost of companions that have "Fellowship:" timing keywords may NOT be played at this time, since your starting fellowship is chosen before you begin the game. For example, "Pippin, Mr. Took" could not allow you to use his text to play "Aragorn" as part of your starting fellowship for only two twilight. One more note on "Pippin, Mr. Took", while we're discussing it. " Pippin's" special ability text, as with all special abilities, are individual actions that are initiated, costs are paid, and the action resolves to some effect. When you initiate this action, the action ends with the playing of "Aragorn". Note that you may NOT combine "Pippin Mr. Took's" text with the gametext of site one, "The Prancing Pony". Both texts are special abilities and are separate actions.

Aside from what we've just discussed, there is no limit to how you spend your four Twilight for your starting fellowship. You could, for example spend all four points on "Gandalf" or "Aragorn". Or you could spend two points on "Legolas" and two points on "Arwen". Or for real fun, play "Merry", "Pippin", and "Sam". It's entirely up to you.

Two additional points: You do not have to spend all four points if you wish. There is really little reason not to, but it's your choice. Lastly, you're choosing these companions based on their Twilight cost, but you do not pay that cost into the Twilight Pool. This is free to you.

Rules Summary:
The Rule of 9 states: You may not have more than nine total companions in play and in your dead pile at any time. Each copy of a non-unique companion in play or in your dead pile counts as a separate companion.

This rule is important to be aware of as you decide who your starting fellowship will be, and more so when you begin playing (and subsequently losing) companions through the course of the game. There were nine members of the Fellowship, and that's all you're allowed in this game.

Let's Get Started
The first phase is the start of turn. The back page of the Mines of Moria rulebook clarifies this segment, and defines what happens at this point, before officially entering into the fellowship phase. Note that these actions MUST happen in this order.

   1. Reset the Twilight Pool - The twilight pool is emptied at this point, if there are any twilight tokens in it from a previous turn.
   2. All "start of turn" actions are performed, such as sanctuary healing.

Rules Summary:
At the start of your turn, when your fellowship is at a sanctuary, you may heal up to five wounds from your companions (not allies).

These five wounds (note: NOT burdens) may be removed from your companions in any combination you wish. You could take 2 wounds off of Aragorn, 2 off of Gandalf and 1 off of Arwen for example, or any other combination thereof. This is a rule-based action. You do not need to use any cards such as "Athelas" to initiate this healing. When your fellowship starts their turn at the sanctuary sites, they get to heal. Moving through a sanctuary site does not permit you to use the sanctuary healing. You must have stopped at the sanctuary site on your previous turn.

Note too, that sanctuary healing is a "start of turn" action. This is important mainly due to one card, "Blade Tip". That card specifies that the wound occurs at the start of the fellowship phase. On an exhausted companion starting the fellowship phase at a sanctuary, the sanctuary healing happens first, then the wounding from "Blade Tip" when the fellowship phase begins.

A note about the Twilight Pool. I'm frequently asked "how many tokens do I start the game with in the twilight pool?" The answer is none. Twilight tokens are added into the pool based on the actions that the Free Peoples player performs during the fellowship phase. We'll discuss that next.

The Fellowship Phase
The fellowship phase is where the Free Peoples player gets to do all sorts of things. Cards come into play, special ability actions are used, etc. If you're the Free Peoples player it is "your turn" until your fellowship stops moving.

Rules Summary:
There are several options available to you during this phase, and you may do these in any order:

   1. Play Free Peoples companions, allies, possessions, conditions, and artifacts from your hand or from cards like "Gandalf's Cart". You may perform as many of these actions as many times as you like. Each time you play a card with a Twilight cost, you pay that cost into the Twilight pool.
   2. You may discard a copy of a unique companion or ally from hand to heal a wound from that companion with the same title that is in play and active.

There are some things you need to be aware of about these options. First, when you have twilight costs, you are adding into the twilight pool, which is an area in the center of the table between the players. This is a resource that the Free Peoples player adds to, and the Shadow player takes out of to play his cards. The balance here is that the more the Free Peoples player does, the more resources the Shadow player has. Think of it this way. The more companions that are put into play, the more companions that are crashing through the woods, the more tokens are put into the pool and the more minions that are going to attack them. A smaller, less active fellowship attracts less attention, thus giving the Shadow player fewer resources to work with. This is perhaps the most interesting mechanic in The Lord of the Rings TCG and the most strategic element of TCGs in a long time.

Second, a frequent question concerns the "discard to heal" mechanic. First, you cannot use this for minions, only companions and allies, so this option is only available to the Free Peoples player. Also, since you are discarding this copy from hand and not playing it, you do not have to put tokens into the twilight pool.

You Got To Have Friends

Rules Summary:
You may not have more than nine companions between your fellowship and your dead pile. The dead pile is where killed Free Peoples characters (companions and allies) are placed. If a unique companion or ally is in your dead pile, you may not play any version of that character again. Another version of that character has the same card title, although it may have a different subtitle. Place all your killed Shadow characters (minions) in your discard pile. You may play any minion again (even a unique minion) if you have an additional copy, since you don't place minions in your dead pile.

Allies are characters that aid the fellowship in their quest. Many do this through far-reaching special ability text. All can participate in archery and skirmish actions when the fellowship is at their home site. There are detailed examples of this in the Help Clinic article on archery. Allies play to your support area. The support area is a row directly below your current fellowship. You may play allies to your support area even when the fellowship is not at the home site for that ally. Allies are not companions and are never considered part of the fellowship, even when they are participating in archery and skirmish actions.

Possessions and Artifacts
During the fellowship phase, you may also equip your companions and allies with weapons, armor, and other enhancing possessions. These cards have twilight costs just like your characters, and they play either to the support area or to specific characters. When these cards are played to your characters, they have attribute modifiers that raise a character's strength or vitality. Many also add keywords such as archer, damage +1, etc.

Possessions and artifacts have classes such as armor, cloak, hand weapon, staff, and ranged weapon. A character can bear no more than one of these types of possession. Cards such as "Athelas", have no class listed, so you may put multiples of these on a character. There are some exceptions to this rule such as "Flaming Brand" but they are specifically listed in the card text.

Possessions may be transferred between companions and allies (Note that a transfer between an ally and a companion requires the fellowship to be at the Home Site of that ally.). You put tokens into the twilight pool for the twilight cost of the possession when you transfer it. The receiving character must be able to possess that item. Also, you may never voluntarily discard a possession in favor of a new one.

Conditions
Another option for the fellowship phase is playing conditions. Most of these play to your support area but many (such as Tales, which are conditions that have the keyword "Tale") can play to your characters. Conditions may not be transferred as possessions.

Rule Summary:
A new rule has been added called "The Rule of 4". This rule states the following:

    You may not draw (or take into hand) more than 4 cards during your fellowship phase.

This applies to cards taken into hands by any means. However, please note that this limit is only imposed during your fellowship phase. Cards that are drawn as your opening hand, and by cards like Gandalf the Grey Pilgrim (which occurs at the start of turn, prior to the fellowship phase), etc. are not covered by this rule.

Move It Out
Once the fellowship phase is done, the twilight pool will probably have a handful of tokens in it. You're about to move into the next site and add more tokens to the pool. For more details on movement, please see our Help Clinic article on movement.

Conclusion
So, that's how you start the game, and get through the first phase. Because of the amount of information, we didn't get into a lot of strategy here. Don't let that fool you though. From the bidding to movement, your choices will set the tone for the rest of the game. As always, if something isn't clear to you, please write me at elrond@decipher.com.
« Last Edit: December 23, 2009, 09:21:19 AM by Witchkingx5 » Logged

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« Reply #6 on: December 23, 2009, 09:21:03 AM »

ARTICLE 7:

The Lord of the Rings™ TCG Help Clinic
Part 7 – Regroup Phase and The End of Turn

by Mark Tuttle (elrond@decipher.com)

It took some time, but here is the last of the phase-based Help Clinic articles. It's probably appropriate that I waited until after Realms of the Elf-Lords was released because the regroup phase has now gotten quite interesting, busier, and far more dangerous for both sides. This will be a short article nonetheless, because the mechanics here are quite straightforward. The strategy, which we will not delve into too deeply, is considerably more complex!

Regroup Phase
The regroup phase is an odd place to be. In it, the Free Peoples player has to decide whether or not he or she will continue to move the fellowship to the next site, risking pursuit by surviving minions or by stopping and ending the turn, clearing the board and allowing the next player's turn. The Elven culture and the sub-culture of the Isengard Orcs now make that decision harder by a slew of new "Regroup:" special ability actions. Thus, it is all the more vital that you understand the precise order that things must happen in during this phase. Let's examine the Turn Sequence from the back of the Realms rulebook.

Rules Summary

a) Perform regroup actions

    A "regroup action" is any action that is specified to occur in the regroup phase by the timing keyword "Regroup:". As a special ability action, these are individual actions that are declared, with the Free Peoples player getting first action, as always. Here's an example:

    Elrond Herald to Gil-gilad 3 R 13
    At the start of each of your turns, you may spot an ally whose home is site 3 to heal that ally twice. Regroup: Exert Elrond twice to heal a companion.

    We're not concerned with the first line of text right now. The second part of Elrond's text is a regroup action. When the skirmish phase ends and the regroup phase begins, the Free Peoples player would declare Elrond's text, exert him twice, and heal a companion. (I would like to also point out that I am notoriously forgetful about doing this myself!)

    Once this is done, the Shadow player may declare a regroup action of his own. Let's say that the Isengard Warrior survived the skirmish phase with 2 vitality. His text reads:

    Isengard Warrior 3 U 61
    While you can spot another Isengard Orc, no player may use archery special abilities. Regroup: Exert this minion and spot 3 wounds on the Ring-bearer to exert every companion.

    Assuming all requirements are met and the Shadow player can pay the cost, he declares this regroup action, exerts the Isengard Warrior and exerts every companion. (Ouch!)

    At this point, the Free Peoples player could use Elrond's text again (provided he can exert twice again) and so on. The action procedure is explained in the Help Clinic article on Maneuver.

    The important point here is that every action that is denoted as "Regroup:" is done at this time. Once all such actions are complete, we move to the next part of the phase.

b) Reconcile Shadow players' hands

    Notice that this happens prior to the decision by the Free Peoples player if they're moving on. The Shadow player may discard 1 card from his or her hand, and then continue drawing up cards until their hand size is 8. (If somehow the Shadow player had more than 8 cards, they would only be permitted to discard until they had 8 cards. They would not be allowed to draw any.)

    If the Shadow player's draw deck is emptied before they draw up to 8 cards, then they just continue on with what they have. There is no recycling of the discard deck or dead pile.

    This is very straightforward. The only thing that happens here is this procedure. Next, comes the big choice for the Free Peoples player.

c) Move to the next site or reconcile and end turn

    The Free Peoples player must decide whether or not to end his or her turn. The primary deciding factor here is the move limit. If the Free Peoples player has already reached their move limit for the turn, there is no option. The turn must end. But let's assume that the Free Peoples player has only moved once and the choice must be made.

    Without getting into a lot of strategy, the choice here depends on a lot of factors. How badly wounded is my fellowship? Since I don't get to reconcile or draw any cards, do I have enough support events in my hand to survive the next skirmish? What site am I moving into? Are there minions still in play that will pursue me to the next site? How much twilight is still in the pool and how much more will be added based on my movement to the next site?

    A note about the "next site" comment. If the Free Peoples player is ahead of the other Shadow player(s) then the next site is not yet in play and remains a mystery. The Free Peoples player does NOT get to see what site he or she will be moving into. This is why cards like "Pathfinder" can be very helpful.

    Let's assume that the Free Peoples player decides not to move on. He or she will reconcile their hand in the same manner as the Shadow player did and which is described above. Also, all minions from all Shadow players on the table will be discarded and (at the beginning of the next player's turn) the twilight pool will be emptied. The next player is then the Free Peoples player and a new turn has begun.

    Now, let's step back to the Free Peoples player's choice, and assume that he or she is moving to the next site. Here's the setup:

    The Shadow player has Isengard Warrior and Isengard Shaman in play. The Isengard Warrior has 2 wounds and the Isengard Shaman has 1 wound. There are 4 twilight tokens in the twilight pool and the fellowship is currently at site 6. Site 7 has not yet been played as this player is the farthest along on the adventure path.

    The Free Peoples player announces he's moving to site 7. The next Shadow player to the right plays site 7 out of his or her adventure deck. It is Silverlode Banks. Since its Shadow number is 6, 6 tokens are added into the twilight pool, plus 4 more for the number of companions that the Free Peoples player is moving. There are now 14 tokens in the twilight pool, and the two Isengard Orcs are considered to have moved with the fellowship to site 7. Note too, that the Free Peoples player did NOT reconcile his hand or draw cards.

    From this point, the NEXT phase is the Shadow phase. If a Free Peoples player moves in the regroup phase, the fellowship phase is skipped.

And that's it! A very short Help Clinic about one of the most important phases of the game. As noted, there is a huge amount of strategy in how you play regroup actions in this phase. The Isengard Orc sub-culture, while weak overall, can cut a fellowship to ribbons if they survive the skirmish phase. Plus, the Free Peoples player has a vast resource of site and twilight pool manipulation, and minion wounding cards to use.

Conclusion
As always, it you have any questions about this article or have ideas for future articles, email me at elrond@decipher.com.
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