“Aragorn,” she said, “why will you go on this deadly road?”
    “Because I must,” he said. “Only so can I see any hope of doing my part in the war against Sauron. I do not choose paths of peril, Éowyn. Were I to go where my heart dwells, far in the North I would now be wandering in the fair valley of Rivendell.”

    –J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King

Driven by necessity, several of Middle-earth’s greatest heroes have traveled far into the depths of Moria. In the dark and abandoned mines of the Dwarves’ ancient realm, they have survived collapsing stairwells, pitfalls, deep chasms, and the assaults from hordes of Orcs. Past dangers few would ever dare, the heroes have delved deep toward Moria’s Foundations of Stone and the source of the increased Orc activity within the Misty Mountains.

Their journey has taken them days and weeks and months beneath miles of rock and stone. They’ve endured incredible hardships, survived trials that would have claimed lesser individuals, and all while far removed from their nearest allies and with no chance to restock their rations or resupply.

As we look forward to the upcoming release of Foundations of Stone , we’ll take a look at some of the items from the Adventure Pack that your heroes may have wanted to pack before departing from Rivendell or that they might hope to find in the dark places far beneath the mines of Moria.

A Little Lore to Bring Success

Healing traditionally falls within the purview of the Lore sphere, and this tradition carries into Moria’s Foundations of Stone with the Lore attachment, Healing Herbs ( Foundations of Stone , 109). While at first glance, there’s little to distinguish Healing Herbs from the other healing effects Lore presents as options, there are a number of fine distinctions that make for meaningful choices between the Herbs and other healing cards, such as Lore of Imladris ( Core Set , 63) and Self Preservation ( Core Set , 72).

First of all, Healing Herbs play at a bargain. Your Lore hero can dig them out of your deck and attach them for zero cost. This can make them a particularly effective choice for a deck with plenty of other demands for its heroes’ resources and for dual or tri-sphere decks that generate Lore resources more slowly than decks running three Lore heroes.

However, the main distinction between Healing Herbs and another card effect, like the Lore of Imladris, is that they allow you to trade one of your heroes’ actions for resource gain. As such, Healing Herbs won’t be an immediate inclusion for every deck, but as players have different styles, many will find that the Herbs fit their decks better than the other forms of healing.

Did you keep a Lore hero readied to face any enemies that might leap out of the encounter deck…only to draw a location? This often results in the loss or “waste” of a potential action, but with Healing Herbs, you can exhaust that hero to heal all the wounds off another of your characters. It’s possible, too, that you could find yourself in a similar situation due to the ability to ready a character with Unexpected Courage ( Core Set , 57). The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game constantly forces players to decide when to play safely and when to take calculated risks. Some players will push forward with their actions and won’t ever have characters readied to exhaust for Healing Herbs. Such players should look for their healing in other corners, but for those who tend to play more safely or build their decks around effects that ready their heroes, or toss a Song of Wisdom ( Conflict at the Carrock , 34) on Boromir ( The Dead Marshes , 95), Healing Herbs present you an excellent new means of getting the most from your heroes.

Sunken Treasure

If Healing Herbs don’t give you enough reason to think about how often you find your heroes readied at the end of a turn in which they could have exhausted to provide you some other benefit, then take a look at one of the treasures your heroes might find in Foundations of Stone .

Durin’s Axe ( Foundations of Stone , 119) is a weapon of incalculable worth. Lost to the Dwarves when they fled Moria, this relic will help any fellowship that finds it to slice through the Orcs and other foes that assail them. Of course, to claim it, you must be able to exhaust a hero, once again putting taxing demands upon the most valuable members of your fellowship.

Path of Need

Even without exhausting to heal your characters or pull items out of the staging area, it can be difficult to balance the demands the game places upon you to quest, defend against enemies, and then strike back at them. Nonetheless, despite all these challenges, the benefits of Healing Herbs and Durin’s Axe are worth careful consideration, and during your consideration, perhaps they’ll prompt you to wonder, “What if there were a way I could simply avoid having to exhaust my heroes for a turn?”

If the question has ever crossed your mind, then you should consider following the Path of Need ( Foundations of Stone , 103). Its four cost isn’t cheap, but it’s readily affordable later in the game when your fellowship stares down a pack of Orcs, faces threatening new locations at every side, and most needs the benefits Path of Need grants them. While other cards may ready all your characters once or allow your heroes to quest without exhausting, Path of Need simply does away with the need to exhaust for the game’s standard demands, freeing your heroes to exhaust for other purposes. In fact, the attachment is powerful enough that it’s limited to one per deck, though you can retrieve it with an Erebor Hammersmith ( Core Set , 59).

We must all do our part in the war against Sauron, and as your heroes plunge further into the darkness beneath Moria, along their Path of Need, they must draw upon every available resource and every possible advantage in order to survive and succeed in their mission.

Next week: We’ll take a look at the hero from Foundations of Stone!

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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