29 October 2015 | The Lord of the Rings LCG

Darker Times in Dunland

Three New Nightmare Decks Are Now Available for The Lord of the Rings

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"There are many that cry in the Dunland tongue," said Gamling. "I know that tongue. It is an ancient speech of men, and once was spoken in many western valleys of the Mark. Hark! They hate us, and they are glad; for our doom seems certain to them."
     –J.R.R. Tolkien, The Two Towers

Many generations of animosity lie between the Rohirrim and the wild men of Dunland. There have been wars, raids, and battles. Kings on both sides have fallen. And still the hatred of the Rohirrim burns hot within Dunlending hearts.

Now three new Nightmare Decks for The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game unleash this pent-up hatred upon the Rohirrim and a handful of heroes who get themselves caught in the midst of these ancient struggles: The Dunland Trap Nightmare Deck, The Three Trials Nightmare Deck, and Trouble in Tharbad Nightmare Deck.

Now available on our webstore, these Nightmare Decks allow you to revisit the tensions and trials from the first three scenarios of The Ring-maker cycle of Adventure Packs, but this time you must travel darker roads, confront more grievous treachery, and battle deadlier enemies. Simultaneously, as they raise the stakes of your adventures and your old tactics start to fail you, these Nightmare Decks offer new twists on each scenario's central themes.

For more specific information about the challenges you'll face in these first three The Ring-maker Nightmare Decks, we turn to lead developer Matthew Newman.

The Dunland Trap Nightmare Deck

"From start to finish, this scenario is all about being ambushed on all sides by waves of Dunlendings. As veterans of The Ring-maker cycle no doubt remember, the Dunland enemies in The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game excel at punishing excessive card draw; they hate you for what you have, and you have to be sparing with your draw effects!

"The Dunlendings in the The Dunland Trap Nightmare Deck are no different, and have taken their hate to an all-new level. Now, not only will the enemies and locations you face trigger their effects when you draw cards, but some will also cause you to discard cards from your hand, forcing you to draw more cards and spiralling you downward, essentially giving you the worst of both worlds!

"Thematically, the aspect of this scenario’s design that we worked hardest to implement was the sense that your heroes were truly ambushed. They should be on the defensive for the entire game. To that end, two of the new locations in this Nightmare Deck have effects that prevent players from keeping enemies at bay. The Plains of Dunland (The Dunland Trap Nightmare Deck, 4), for example, gives enemies a lower engagement cost and prevents them from being optionally engaged. This does two things: it prevents players from sneaking by enemies undetected, and in multiplayer games, it forces some players to engage enemies they didn’t otherwise wish to engage. The Hithaeglir Woods (The Dunland Trap Nightmare Deck, 6), on the other hand, gives Dunland  enemies some cover and prevents them from taking damage in the staging area.

"The new treacheries also help to put players on the defensive. For example, instead of only having to worry about a few enemies that might engage and attack you out of sequence, you now have to consider the danger of revealing a Boar Clan Assault (The Dunland Trap Nightmare Deck, 7), which causes all engaged enemies to attack. This card severely disrupts your defense plans, especially during Stage 3! Just the threat of this card in the encounter deck alone forces players to rethink strategies and plan ahead, and really helps to keep the players in a defensive mindset."

The Three Trials Nightmare Deck

"This scenario pits players against three sacred Spirit guardians in a series of trials to recover a Dunlending artifact: The Antlered Crown. Designing this scenario and its successive boss fights was a blast, and it was fun to be able to revisit the design as we sought to make it darker, harder, and more thematic. It was also nice to be able to add new cards into the encounter deck because so many of the cards from the Adventure Pack in which the scenario was released had to be devoted to the scenario’s unique quest stages!

"Naturally, my first order of business when developing the Nightmare Deck for The Three Trials was to add several new enemies into the mix. The Guardian enemies themselves remain the same, but now they are paired with several spirits that mimic their stats and motif – the Wolf Spirit (The Three Trials Nightmare Deck, 2), Boar Spirit (The Three Trials Nightmare Deck, 3), and Raven Spirit (The Three Trials Nightmare Deck, 4).

Each of these enemies can enter play at any stage, but if they happen to enter play when their respective Guardian is in play, not only do they become stronger, but their Guardian does, as well. Moreover, their effects linger even if their Guardian is defeated, ensuring that no matter the order in which you choose to undertake the trials, you will face a steady ramp in difficulty from one stage to the next.

"The Nightmare Deck also adds further significance to the Keys you need to recover. To that end, these Spirit enemies always engage the player that controls the Key that shares a trait with them, as they try with all their might to recover their particular Key. Players will also encounter a new treachery card that makes the decision of who should carry each Key to be more important than ever before.

"Watching these new Spirit enemies work in conjunction with their Guardian bosses is a treat, and it really refreshes the scenario both in gameplay and theme."

Trouble in Tharbad Nightmare Deck

"One of my personal favorites in The Ring-maker cycle, Trouble in Tharbad is a scenario about tightening tension. I love the idea of representing a chase sequence using threat, with players trying to reduce their threat to zero and their threat elimination level – usually fifty – shrinking close behind them. All the same, this particular scenario was not originally meant to be super tough, and features a difficulty rating of only four. But that all changes with the Trouble in Tharbad Nightmare Deck.

"With a Setup effect that increases each player’s starting threat by five and new effects that constantly reduce the players’ threat elimination level, the Nightmare version of Trouble in Tharbad has a much tighter noose. The Orc Seeker (Trouble in Tharbad Nightmare Deck, 3), for example, will reduce each player’s threat elimination level by two unless you engage him and take an immediate attack. The Blood Hound (Trouble in Tharbad Nightmare Deck, 4), on the other hand, will simply raise your threat by a whopping five when he engages you – and with an engagement cost of zero, he’s nearly impossible to avoid! With all of these cards rapidly increasing your threat and lowering your threat elimination level, it really feels like Bellach and his orcs are hot on your heels.

"Another concept we toyed with in Trouble in Tharbad was the idea of a scenario in which you never really wanted to engage enemies, especially if you could avoid it. No enemy embodies this more than Bellach’s Hunter (Trouble in Tharbad Nightmare Deck, 2), an enemy with an engagement cost of "50" and a Forced effect that can really wreck your game if you’re forced to engage him. At first, avoiding the Hunter seems like an easy task, but with the Nightmare Deck's treachery cards and other effects lowering the Hunter’s engagement cost, players will find that avoiding this enemy becomes a primary concern of the scenario, and that is a real thematic win in my book!

"Thanks a lot for reading through this introduction to the first three Nightmare Decks for The Ring-maker cycle. I hope you enjoy playing them as much as we enjoyed designing them!"

Enter a Time of Deeper Darkness

Throughout The Ring-maker cycle, your heroes work for Saruman the White, the head of the White Council and the greatest of the Istari. As this cycle, like the rest of the standard The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game experience, is set before Frodo's departure from the Shire, your heroes are unaware of Saruman's eventual treachery.

One of the greater and more sinister pleasures of The Ring-maker cycle, therefore, is the chance to witness how your efforts are subverted, even as you fight nobly against the Shadow of Mordor. Who drew the Dunlendings to Saruman? Who helped him create the Uruk-hai? Who helped him uncover lost fragments of Celebrimbor's ancient ring lore? Perhaps it was you…

Return to one of the most deliciously dark of all cycles in The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game and retrace your steps in Nightmare Mode with the three new Nightmare Decks available today!

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