Who’s That Girl?

The most recent release for Lord of the Rings the Card game, was Escape from Mount Gram, which comes complete with a new Lore hero, the Silvan elf Rossiel.

rossielRossiel is the 7th Hero in the game to exist only in world of Fantasy Flight – Thalin, Beravor and Eleanor are shared with their earlier release, Middle Earth Quest, but Mirlonde, Caldara, Idraen and now Rossiel are purely creations for the LCG.

In terms of why the designers have created these characters, there are a few major possibilities. An obvious point to note at the outset, is that all four LCG only characters and (at least) 2 of the core-set figures are female. Contrast this with the characters drawn directly from Tolkien’s canon, where Eowyn and Galadriel are the only female heroes we’ve seen, and it’s understandable that the designers might be looking to redress the balance.

A Man’s world?

In terms of whether the designers need to create their own characters in order to have more female heroes, I thought I’d do a quick consideration of some of the other possibilities out there for hero status in the card game.

"If you want him, come and claim him!" is actually directed to Glorfindel, and talking about the horse...

“If you want him, come and claim him!” is actually directed to Glorfindel, and talking about the horse…

Arwen is an obvious choice, and is probably only being held back by the quality of the Ally version (although I like to think it’s an angry Glorfindel fan who still hasn’t forgiven Liv Tyler for stealing Asfaloth.)

Beyond that, things get murky – there’s definitely potential to add someone like Ioreth (healer/wise woman in Gondor, spends most of Aragorn’s coronation talking) and given the slightly vague chronology of this game, you could probably stretch in either direction for Gilraen (Aragorn’s mum) or Lothiriel (Imrahil’s daughter and, after the War, Eomer’s wife), but beyond that you’re starting to scrape the barrel with geographically dubious figures like Goldberry or Rosie Cotton, figures from too long ago like Celebrian or Dis, or figures we just don’t know that much about about, like Theodwyn (sister to Theoden, mother of Eomer and Eowyn) or Morwen (mother of Theoden and Theodwyn).

In sum, there’s definitely potential for the designers if they really wanted to create another female hero based on a canon character, but I certainly don’t think there’s a blindingly obvious candidate whose omission seems strange, in the way that there was before the arrival of Galadriel. Aside from Arwen (who does exist in the game, just not in hero form) none of the names above stand out nearly as much as a figure like Thranduil, whose continuing absence is a bit odd, to say the least.

Time?

In terms of chronology, the game is somewhat guilty of breaking its own rules – it was originally stated as being set during the 17 years between Bilbo’s Eleventy-First Birthday in TA3001 and Frodo’s departure from the shire in 3018. However, we have since seen Saga expansions which take us a long way back before this to the events of Bilbo’s Unexpected Journey in the 2940s, and forward into the events of the War of the Ring itself (you’d have to imagine we’ll eventually reach the end of the Third Age)

Taking these wider time-frames, most of these figures are reasonable – Gilraen and Morwen would be getting fairly old by 3001 and Theodwyn died not long after, but 60 years earlier is a different matter. Chronology for Dis is fairly sketchy, but she was younger than her brother Thorin, so should be around at least as long as him. Celebrian sailed into the West about 500 years earlier though, so she’s probably out. To sum up:

Too early:

  • Celebrian (sailed west in 2510),
  • Ivorwen – (2857 – 2929)

Ok for this time period

  • Dis (2760 -?)
  • Gilraen (2907 – 3007)
  • Morwen (2922 – 3005)
  • Theodwyn (2963-3002),
  • Lothiriel

[Just for reference, the Battle of Five Armies was in 2941, Biblo’s birthday in 3001 and The Ring leaves The Shire in 3018]

Freedom

Putting aside any desire the designers may have to offer a broader range of female heroes for the players, there is another reason for them to create their own heroes, and that is simply greater creative scope.

The Fantasy-Flight-created heroes of the earlier cycles were fairly generic, cardboard cut-out figures, with little known about them beyond their race and traits. We can make our own assumptions about Beravor the Ranger vs Eleanor the Gondorian Noble, but it’s essentially guesswork.

Over time, Fantasy Flight seem to have been getting more adventurous in this regard though. Last year, Idraen came with a short-story of how she rescued a young girl from Bree who had lost her way whilst out berry-picking, although the emphasis remained on the strange, unknown nature of these Dunedain.

What's he really up to?

What’s he really up to?

Rossiel also comes complete with a biography, this time giving us more of an account of her childhood and upbringing: her studies under the lady Galadriel, the violent death of her sister at the hand of some orcs, and how she came to be wandering the wilds on these adventures. As the designers have developed the overarching story-arc which links the quests, this is an area they can explore in a way which just wouldn’t be as plausible if they were dealing with a figure well-established in Lord of the Rings canon.

Over the past few cycles, the narrative behind the quests has taken a bigger and bigger role.  Instead of a string of scenarios connected in only the loosest fashion (Dwarrowdelf) we find ourselves part of a wider 9-part narrative. I’ve no idea yet what plans the designers have for Iarion or Amarthiul, but it certainly wouldn’t surprise me to see one of them appear as a hero – assuming they don’t end up going all Lord Alcaron on us.

Flexibility

It’s also worth noting, of course, that a newly-imagined FFG character can be sent questing with anybody, whereas a second or third (or fourth) version of one of Tolkien’s existing creations could only be fielded at the expense of one of the current iterations. I ran a pair of decks through Black Riders and The Road Darkens, using core set Aragorn, only to reach Treason of Saruman and discover that he had to give way to his Fellowship iteration. (On the plus side, if you’ve given him one of the “permanent” attachments, it does carry over to Fellowship Aragorn).

Whilst there’s plenty of scope for the designers to weave their own tales for home-grown heroes, the proposition for fan-creations is slightly different – obviously, we can carve out our own little corner of the Mythos, and create a character, but it’s harder for us to put a paper insert in everyone’s next adventure pack. Rather than creating a new character (or two) from scratch I decided to make hero cards for some of the Ladies of Middle Earth mentioned above – it had been a while since I did any custom-cards. I also wanted to share a bit of insight on my thought-process in creating them. I have no idea whether the designers approach things in a way at all similar to me, but thought you might be interested in my approach.

Dis

Dis-Front-Face

The main thing that we know about Dis is that she was the mother of Fili and Kili, as well as the sister or Thorin. As the only named female dwarf in Tolkien’s lore, she has been the subject of much speculation and fan-fic, but I wanted to keep things fairly simple. At the most basic level, she needs to be able to bring her sons along, hence the ability to pay for dwarves from any sphere. This more-or-less dictated that she needed to be within Leadership, which is a bit of a shame, as it’s already the sphere where we have the greatest excess of Dwarf heroes. However, tactics – the sphere lacking a third hero seemed the worst fit.

Stats wise, it seemed reasonable to assume that any sibling of Thorin’s would have a reasonable amount of willpower, but as she never crops up in any of the adventures, a high attack stat didn’t seem right. I decided to carry across being a reasonable defender too. Fili and Kili are already a powerful combo, so I deliberated for a while over whether it would be too much to give them an additional boost when she was in play – so far this is something we’ve only really seen with Elladan and Elrohir, and it’s definitely a mechanic I’d like to see more of, but I decided to leave it, at least for now.

Gilraen

Gilraen-Front-Face

Gilraen, the mother of Aragorn was one of the Dunedain, although not herself a direct member of the royal line. She was the one who took the young Aragorn to Rivendell where she hoped he would be safe.

There were a few possibilities in terms of her ability – relating to hiding in Rivdenell, I thought that something secrecy-related would be nice, but I also wanted to create some kind of Dunedain synergy – for example an ability which benefitted from engaging enemies, although it was tricky to balance this with the theme of a non-combat-focused character. Lowering the threat of others by drawing enemies away from them seemed the best bet. The fact that her ability can only benefit others, not herself seemed to tie in well with the flavour-text.

I’m not aware of anything to suggest that Gilraen ever spent much time adventuring, so have made her fairly flimsy in combat, to allow a low threat level, but she can still quest reasonably, and is less likely to get taken out unexpectedly than a hobbit. 

Lothiriel

Lothiriel-Front-Face

Lothiriel was a tricky one – it’s irked me ever since The Steward’s Fear that Imrahil doesn’t have the Outlands trait, although his power-level would be insane if he did (not much effort at all for a character who could quest and attack/defend on a power-level to match anyone in the game). Lothiriel is also the wife of Eomer, so the future Queen of Rohan. I initially had her keying off her father and husband to gain their traits, but this felt both dull and overpowered. Making the traits conditional seemed to lower the power level significantly and add an interesting element of choice, but I wanted something else to make the character feel worthwhile. Clearly, it had to key off of characters leaving play, and I decided that threat was the way to go (or was it card-draw) – I initially had the limit at once per phase, but felt that this was potentially just too powerful, with easily two, and potentially far more per round, especially if someone’s playing Silvans…

Stat-wise I decided to go for the generic 2/2/2 for a good all-round utility, but to dial back the hit-points slightly, to make her threat more manageable.

I hope people have found the custom-creations interesting. I’d be interested to know your thoughts generally on heroes being drawn from Tolkien’s works directly, or being created purely for the game.

The Fatty Project

Not a name possibility rejected very early on by Weight Watchers, the Fatty project is an interesting new twist in the Lord of the Rings LCG.

prison-cellThe most recent adventure pack, escape from Mount Gram, is a fun one, and also one that presents a unique challenge: you start with only a single hero who just broken out of a goblin’s prison: all they have with which to face the perils of the quest are a 3-card hand, and no items, mounts or allies in their deck (these go in a separate “capture” deck). As you break out of prison, you gradually have the chance to liberate the remainder of your deck, including the other two heroes, before making a last, late, charge for freedom.

To help you in your bid to take on the dungeons solo, the locations and enemies in this quest are noticeably less brutal than many we’ve seen – although this is balanced by the need to have a single character deal with questing, attack and defence, at least to begin with.

Secrecy-decks are good for this, as is anything which gives you action advantage. I’ve managed this one starting out With Rossiel and with Spirit Glorfindel (Light of Valinor is a must) but Core Set Aragorn would be another good option, due to his built-in readying.

Some folk out there though, has decided that this quest is a bit on the easy side, and this has prompted Ian of Tales From the Cards to set a challenge- to escape from Mount Gram using Fatty Bolger as your starting hero!

Fatty-BolgerFor those who have forgotten him (probably most of you) Fatty Bolger is a Hobbit hero in the spirit sphere, who came in Black Riders. He has the thematically brilliant, yet mechanically useless ability to raise your threat by the threat of an enemy in the staging area, in order to ignore that enemy’s threat for resolving questing this round. He has a highish number of hits points for a Hobbit (3) but his stats are otherwise underwhelming. He can only quest for 1, attack for 1, and defend for 2: this means that he is exceedingly unlikely to be making much quest progress unless you can get some assistance out for him.

There are essentially 2 ways to approach the Fatty challenge –either build a deck that has him in it, but relies on swiftly rescuing one of the other heroes and dies repeatedly until it does so, or else go for a deck that actually keys in to some of Fatty’s abilities.

In regard to the first option, there are a fair number of options out there – but it does make Fatty nothing more than a placeholder, and avoids the spirit of the challenge, even if it meets the technical requirement.

The other option- a deck in which Fatty actually has a meaningful role to play – is far trickier. When building a tri-sphere Hobbit Deck, Spirit has typically been the sphere I neglected, as the most vital cards for the deck all appear in the other three spheres: Lore for Fast-Hitch (Hobbit-Readying), Leadership for Bill the Pony and Hobbit Cloak (hit points and defence), and Tactics for Halfling Determination and Dagger of Westernesse (general stat boosts, and extra attack). The hobbit-specific cards in Spirit are limited to the pony (late questing), and the pipe/smoke rings combination which can lower your threat (surely the least of the problems faced by a deck that starts with only Fatty.)

It is possible, of course, to get round issues of sphere matching with cards like Songs or Good Harvest, but with only 3 cards in your starting hand, the chances of having both this AND a card to play with it are low.

Courage-AwakenedA couple of cards for this deck pick themselves – 3 copies of Resourceful (for ANY deck with a starting threat in single figures) and Courage Awakened, a card I re-discovered when doing this scenario with Glorfindel, which can provide a powerful willpower acceleration in secrecy mode, especially if you can get a Leaf Brooch out. Favour of the Lady is expensive, but when you’re dependent upon a 1-willpower character for all your questing, something more ongoing is valuable.

From there, it was trickier – a tri-sphere deck in this quest is very vulnerable to rescuing heroes in a particular order. Mono-spirit would guarantee that I could play all the cards I drew (eventually) but would be unlikely to do a lot besides questing, cancellation, and threat management. Lore seemed like the best bet, offering me action advantage for the hobbits, plenty of card draw, and a few tricks up my sleeve for dealing with enemies – I was quite pleased to discover that Traps were immune to this quest’s deck-stripping (although not sure thematically of the logic of being able to carry a spiked pit into a prison with you…)

My wife refuses to play with Disco Bilbo, the hair is just too off-putting...

My wife refuses to play with Disco Bilbo, the hair is just too off-putting…

In the end, I decided to go full-hobbit – Bilbo and Pippin. This ensures plenty of card draw, and reduces the likelihood of having to engage things, whilst Ranger Spikes will hopefully allow me to continue making quest progress whilst leaving those enemies in the staging area, although I’ll be adding Noiseless Movement as well in case there’s anything out I can’t handle this round. I’ll throw in high-willpower allies, like the Ethir Swordsman, and some chunkier characters like the Northern Tracker, who are still amongst the best fighters in Spirit, as well as being good at dealing with location-lock. If I can rescue enough cards from my capture deck, questing should be ok, but combat is going to be the challenge, especially on stage 3, when I shuffle in the extra encounter set of orcs, so I’ll bring Ride Them Down as well. Gandalf basically goes into every deck, so he makes the list 3 times. With Lore and Card-Draw, Protector of Lorien is an obvious choice, boosting questing, or even making Fatty into a passable defender.

GandalfA possible twist on this deck which I didn’t get round to trying is to add Under Hill and Over Hill Gandalf – obviously, he is a powerful figure, but he does put your threat up rapidly, even from a starting-point of 7 – So any deck with him in would need to be much more aggressive to balance that out. I considered add some copies of Elrond’s Counsel to go with Arwen and Elrond, but decided it was too many working pieces to put together.

Final Decklist:

Fatty Bolger (starting hero)
Pippin (Black Riders)
Bilbo Baggins

Allies:
Arwen Undomiel x2
Bofur (Redhorn Gate)
Defender of the Naith x2
Elrond
Gandalf (Core)
Gleowine
Haldir of Lorien
Hennamarth Riversong
Northern Tracker x2
Quickbeam
Treebeard

Attachments:
Elf Stone
Fast Hitch x3
Favour of the Lady x2
Protector of Lorien x2
Resourceful x2
Unexpected Courage

Events:
A Test of Will x3
Courage Awakened x3
Hasty Stroke x2
Noiseless Movement x2
Ride them Down x2
Stand and Fight

That "Forced" effect is just hideous

That “Forced” effect is just hideous

Overall this worked well – I managed to beat the quest on 2 out of 4 attempts. I think killing Jailor Gornakh the round he arrives is key to this quest, which meant stalling on stage 2 for as long as possible, until you’ve got all your heroes, and a good spread of allies into play – Courage Awakened was brilliant for this as, when your threat is less than 20, and you’ve got a leaf-brooch on Fatty, it becomes a free +2 willpower that you can add after staging each round.

I never actually used Fatty’s ability, but there were points in the game when he had 2 damage on him, so at least his hit-points/defence came in handy, putting him above Spirit Pippin in the utility stakes. Frodo might have been a safer option, but even starting on 7, there’s enough forced threat gain in this scenario that it might have been a problem.

Overall, whilst I don’t buy the initial suggestion that this quest is too easy, this was a fun activity to do as something a bit different. Will anyone else take on the Fatty Challenge?

The Wizard’s Surge

The most recent adventure cycle which we have seen in its entirety (at least the standard packs, no Nightmare yet for most of it) is the Ringmaker cycle, which began with the Voice of Isengard, and saw the players unite the Dunlendings under Saruman’s rule, enable him to forge a ring of power, and prove instrumental in the creation of the Uruk-hai. Not altogether a great week at the office…

Dunlending-AmbushAside from what the players got up to thematically, mechanically, this was one of the most frenetic cycles. I’ve posted previously my thoughts on the Time mechanic, and its impact on the game, but even without the extra cards that get hurled at you by “time” this was a cycle very heavy on surge.

In terms of printed surge, the count was high, if not crippling, with a peak of 1 in about 4.5 cards surging in The Dunland Trap and the Nin-in-Eilph, dropping down to a more sedate 2 cards out of 26 for the 3 trials. Easy mode did little to change this, simply squashing the outliers towards the mean, with a high of 1 in 5 and a low of 1 in 11.

Raising-the-CryAs in the previous cycle, the point where things get really punishing are in the cards with conditional surge, or surge-like effects. The Antlered Crown for example, boasts 15 out of 24 cards likely to find some way of throwing another card out at you, and 1 in 2 or 3 is common across the cycle. Nin-in-Eilph becomes the gentle options, with only 1 in around 4.5. Once again, Easy Mode offers less respite than the name might suggest, with multiple quests still finding an effect similar to surge on around half of cards.

Average surge likelihood:

Highest:                 1 in 4.5 (21%)       The Dunland Trap, Nin-in-Eilph

Lowest:                  1 in 13 (7.6%)       The 3 Trials.

Cycle overall:         15% standard,      13% Easy,

Surge-type effect Likelihood:

Highest:                 1 in 1.5 (62.5%)    The Antlered Crown

Lowest:                  1 in 4.5 (22%)       The Nin-in-Eilph

Cycle Overall:        40% standard,      34% Easy,

Overall Verdict – just plain silly

A Fistful of Meeples

Just a quick note, to tell you all about a new project I’ve been working on.

Those who know me personally / on Facebook, will probably already have seen, but I just wanted to make people aware of my new blog – Fistful of Meeples.

BlueMeepleWhereas this blog focuses more-or-less exclusively on the games of Middle Earth (and mostly the LotR LCG), Fistful of Meeples will be taking a broader look at the world of board and card-gaming, focusing in now and then on some games of particular interest, as well as trying to provide a bit of a broader sweep.

I’ll still be posting here, and the next installment of the Surge review should be this weekend, but if you need some fresh reading material in the meantime, why not head over to Fistful of Meeples and check it out.

Surging Against the Shadow

In many respects, the Heirs of Numenor box was where difficulty in this game first went crazy. The sudden introduction of battle and siege turned a lot of received wisdom on its head about how your decks needed to be built, and some of the difficulty ratings were frankly comic (just remember that into Ithilien is officially a 4/10 difficulty!) the specific concern here though, is with Surge, and how frequent it is.Blocking-Wargs

In terms of straightforward, printed surge, there is a marked increase. Gone are the days of quests with no printed surge, with every quest featuring it somewhere, even the notoriously pedestrian Encounter at Amon Din, which features it on 1 card in 17. Whilst this figure of around 6% may seem low, it’s worth noticing that this is the first cycle where we haven’t had multiple quests where it was missing entirely. Surge can be found at its most concentrated in the Steward’s Fear, which has it one card in 6 in the main encounter deck, a figure which only rises in Nightmare mode, or in easy!

Lieutenant-of-MordorAcross the board, the occurrence of surge is higher, and that’s before you start to consider the peculiarities of these quests. For example, a “surge-like effect” includes the Lieutenant of Mordor who, when revealed, triggers the top treachery of the discard pile and cannot be cancelled. In the past I’ve been lucky enough to get him turn 1 or 2 when there is no treachery to trigger, which is why he only counts as “surge-like2 but certainly not a card to be dismissed lightly. Again, quests which seem a t the lighter end of the surge spectrum include Blood of Gondor, where the stats – 1 in 11 surge, 1 in 7 surge-like, don’t include the scenario-specific “hidden cards” which can spring an additional swarm of enemies at you. Likewise, The Steward’s Fear is the most surging quest even before you consider the underworld mechanic which makes almost any location a potential minefield, ready to fling armies of enemies at you, most of whom come with some kind of hideous “when engaged” effect.

Average surge likelihood:

Highest:                 1 in 6 (17%)           The Steward’s Fear

Lowest:                  1 in 17 (6%)           Encounter at Amon Din

Cycle overall:         10% standard,       11.4% Easy,         11.8% Nightmare*

Surge-type effect Likelihood:

Highest:                   1 in 3 (34%)           The Steward’s Fear, Assault on Osgiliath

Lowest:                    1 in 7 (10%)           Blood of Gondor

Cycle Overall:          24.6% standard,    23.4% Easy,         25% Nightmare*

*Nightmare figures are for Against the Shadow Cycle only, excluding the Heirs of Numenor deluxe, as I don’t own those Nightmare Decks.

Overall Verdict – Decidedly Surging.

Surging in the Dark

Who remembers the Dwarrowdelf cycle? Khazad Dum, with its swarming armies of Goblinses, leaving you constantly on the back foot, as you tried desperately to fend them off. Surely lots of surge here, right?

Deep-Deep-DarkWell apparently not. Hazy recollections aside, once you actually get down to the numbers, standard difficulty Dwarrowdelf quests don’t really look any surgier than the Mirkwood cycle. The highest probability of surge caps out at around 1 in 9, which is the same as the Hunt for Gollum, but without the forced effect from the quest card revealing extra encounter cards, there are 4 quests (out of 9) with no printed surge whatsoever, and others like the Long Dark have only a token nod to surge with one card in a deck of 60 bearing the word.

The most notable outlier comes in Foundations of Stone, where the players deal with two entirely different encounter decks at different points, and the deck for stages 4 & 5 does have an impressive 1 in 5.5 chance of surging, although if you’ve quested carefully, you should be fairly well set-up by that point.

Easy mode in Dwarrowdelf behaves as you’d expect. Aside from the second foundations deck, surge either gets even less likely to appear (missing altogether from 5 of the 9 quests now) or remains statistically insignificant. Nightmare cranks it up somewhat, with a high of 1 in 5, and only one deck escaping altogether.

Where Dwarrowdelf really punishes players though, is in the surge-like effects. In standard mode, every single quest has at least a 1 in 10 chance of revealing a surge-type effect, with the odds in a couple of decks being 1 in 3. This doesn’t really change all that much across Easy or Nightmare mode.

Goblin-SpearmanGoblin-Swordsman

Lastly, it’s worth noting another slightly distorting feature of the Dwarrowdelf cycle, the Goblin enemies who come out as a shadow card, then add themselves to the staging area. I think this is probably the main reason why it feels so surge-y even if the numbers don’t really suggest it- in several quests, there are no fewer than ten cards with the potential to transform at a moment’s notice from a shadow into an enemy. The figures below are worked out without factoring in these shadow effects.

 

Average surge likelihood:

Highest:               1 in 9 (11%)          Into the Pit

Lowest:                zero                      Flight from Moria, The Redhorn Gate, Watcher in the Water

Cycle overall:       4.5% standard,     4.3% Easy,            9.7% Nightmare

Surge-type effect Likelihood:

Highest:               1 in 3 (33%)          Into the Pit, Foundations of Stone (part I)

Lowest:                1 in 10 (10%)        The Redhorn Gate

Cycle Overall:      23% standard,      19% Easy,             25% Nightmare

Overall verdict – Not surge, but something a lot like it.

Surges Through Mirkwood

FloodingBack in the days of the core set, and the Mirkwood cycle, surge was a rare beast, occasionally sighted fleetingly through the woods. In Passage Through Mirkwood it was lacking altogether, and there were only a few examples in other core-set cards: The Eastern Crows were the most prevalent of Core-set surgers, but these could be neutralised by questing with Thalin (remember him?) killing them before they could activate – otherwise, the intensity of surge got worse and worse, as the crows were shuffled back into the deck each time they died.

IsolationIt’s probably no surprise to learn that by-and-large, the transition to Nightmare mode generally makes surge more prevalent: Nightmare Return to Mirkwood is the stand-out in this respect, with straightforward surge effects accounting for more than 1 card in ten, and surge-like effects appearing on a slightly terrifying 1 in 3 cards

More surprising is the discovery that in many instances, Easy mode actually made surge more likely, simply because many of the surging cards survived the cut, but found themselves in thinner encounter decks for a greater probability of appearing any time a random card was revealed. Clearly this says something (at least from the designers perspective) about the impact of surge on difficulty – a moderate card with the possibility of another is viewed as less of a challenge to the players than something inherently hideous.

Overall, the Mirkwood cycle is hardly overwhelmed by surge. In 4-player, Massing at Night is going to mess with you, and Return to Mirkwood is punishing, but at the other extreme, Journey to Rhosgobel is missing surge altogether, with Conflict at the Carrock not far behind. Journey Along the Anduin and Hunt for Gollum both have quest-card effects which reveal an extra encounter card, although Hunt does at least allow you to pick between 2 or 3.

The spread of surge-like effects is always broader than surge itself, and includes travel restrictions on locations (Mountains of Mirkwood) and Treacheries with mis-fire protection. However, both of these feel like they are on a limited scale, compared with what comes later

Average surge likelihood:

Highest:                1 in 9 (11%)            Hunt For Gollum

Lowest:                 zero                        Passage Through Mirkwood, Journey to Rhosgobel

Cycle overall:        5.6% standard,       4% Easy,               9.6% Nightmare

Surge-type effect Likelihood:

Highest:                 1 in 4 (25%)          Hills of Emyn Muil

Lowest:                  1 in 24 (4%)          Conflict at the Carrock

Cycle Overall:        12.7% standard,    10.8% Easy,         18.7% Nightmare

Overall verdict – not so surging.

Next up, Dwarrowdelf, get ready for some swarming goblinses…