“Then I cannot help you much, not even with counsel,” said Elrond. “I can foresee very little of your road; and how your task is to be achieved I do not know. The Shadow has crept now to the feet of the Mountains, and draws nigh even to the borders of Greyflood; and under the Shadow all is dark to me.”
     - The Fellowship of the Ring
, J.R.R. Tolkien

Shadows hide the truth, and, in Middle-earth, often speak of doom. In The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game this is especially true. Since our first brief overview of the game, there have been several previews that looked at how Quests work as well as how each of the four spheres of influence ( Spirit , Leadership , Lore , and Tactics ) function. In today’s preview we’ll take a closer look at Shadow cards and how they affect combat.

Awaiting Adversaries

As we discussed in the Fight Against the Shadow article, combat is the prime way to eliminate the enemies that prevent you from continuing on your quest. Players have to engage enemies to initiate combat, but before you start declaring your defenders there are a few things you should know about Shadow cards and the unpredictability they add to battle.

Enemy cards have several stats, but the main ones that come into play during combat are attack strength (axe icon), defense (shield icon) strength, and hit points (red number above the card title). These stats are openly visible to players, so they can confidently determine the strength of their assailants before they declare their own defenders. However, before resolving enemy attacks, players deal each attacking enemy card a facedown card from the Encounter deck. These cards are called Shadow Cards, and they can potentially ruin your plans.

The Gathering Shadows

Some Encounter cards have Shadow effects, which are italicized and divided from the card’s regular effects by a Shadow effect symbol. Shadow effects alter the combat in some way. After players declare a defender for a specific attack, they then resolve the Shadow card assigned to the attacking enemy. If the card has no Shadow effect, it is discarded and the combat is resolved regularly. However, if a card like the Dol Guldur Orcs card was dealt as a Shadow card, the combat will become a little more interesting.

Sometimes players cannot, or choose not to declare a character as a defender. This means the attack is “undefended”. As you can see from the Shadow effect on Dol Guldur Orcs, letting attacks go undefended is a very risky proposition. Damage from undefended attacks must be applied to a single hero, and a +3 attack strength could easily take out one of your resource providers. While heroes can be brought back into play with cards like Fortune or Fate , losing one can be rather devastating.

The Dark Lord’s minions lurk in every dark corner of Middle-earth, and their strength lies hidden in the growing shadows. Engaging these foes is a dangerous proposition, so don’t go into battle unprepared.

Check back next time for another preview of The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game !

The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game is a cooperative card game that puts 1-2 players (or up to four with an additional Core Set) in control of the most powerful characters and artifacts of Middle-earth. Players will select heroes, gather allies, acquire artifacts, and coordinate their efforts to face Middle-earth’s most dangerous fiends. The Living Card Game format allows players to customize their gaming experience with monthly Adventure Pack expansions to the core game.

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