Angmar Awakened – out of the dungeon, into the Ettenmoors

Hey everybody,
After more than two months, I’m once again back with the Angmar Awakened cycle! Back in November, I started this with The Wastes of Eriador, having played through The Lost Realm deluxe box back at the end of 2020! It’s definitely taking me a while to get through this, but I’m pressing on! I played the second pack, Escape from Mount Gram, at the start of December, so I’m currently doing well at one pack per month!

Escape from Mount Gram

At the end of the last adventure, the heroes were taken captive by the goblins, and Escape from Mount Gram sees us running around in the dungeons, trying to get our stuff and flee. There is a fairly annoying mechanic that starts the pack by shuffling all of the stuff, including allies and two heroes per player, into a sort of side-deck, meaning that we start the game with just one hero and a deck of event cards. Encounter cards often have the Capture mechanic, which draws cards from this set-aside deck under them and, when those cards leave play, such as by defeating enemies or exploring locations, we get to draw those cards as normal. Some effects will actually allow us to put cards into play for free, which is nice!

Escape from Mount Gram

Thematically, it works wonderfully, as it simulates the helpless/abandoned feeling of being lost in the dungeons and trying to regroup really well. However, it’s just that tiny bit soul-crushing as we start from so far behind, it’s like an uphill struggle right from the off. In addition, of course, players can’t team up until the second quest stage, so you really are on your own. It’s a little bit like Foundations of Stone from the Dwarrowdelf cycle in that respect.

Escape from Mount Gram

To win, you have to flee via the Southern Gate, which is quite the task because you can’t travel to that location until the quest has got the max number of progress tokens on it, so it’s very prescriptive in that respect. But it was quite enjoyable – just a bit hectic, and not one that I think I would rush to play again!

Across the Ettenmoors

Once we’ve escaped the dungeons, we then race Across the Ettenmoors, a wild place where Giants and Trolls abound. This one was a very interesting quest, as it is basically side quest heaven. Due to the fact that I was playing a team that includes Thurindir, and both my decks have quite a few side quests in as well, towards the end of the game I was questing for something like 20+ easily, Thurindir himself contributing well over half of that due to the 10 or so side quests in the victory display!

Across the Ettenmoors

There are a lot of enemies in this one, plus a lot of quite horrible treacheries, though I was surprised that it didn’t feel quite so bad as you’d think. Yes, there are massive Giant enemies to contend with, but as luck would have it, I was able to either discard them as shadow cards, or else deal with them on my own terms by keeping my threat low enough throughout!

I think Across the Ettenmoors is ranked as the easiest quest of the cycle, in the official literature at least. But like I say, it could be pretty horrific if you’re stuck with a bunch of giants and trolls looming over you. During my game, I was stuck with drawing a lot of player cards that interacted with locations, yet barely any locations were coming up. I always find these things interesting, because people will tell you that x quest is easy, or y quest is difficult, but without the right cards in your hand, x quest could be impossible! 

On that note, I believe I have an extremely difficult one coming up over the horizon. The Battle of Carn Dûm gets a lot of bad press for being one of the hardest quests in the game, but I still have another quest to get through before I’m there, so I can try to build myself up for that one. 

In the meantime, I continue to be quite impressed by how my decks are performing. The combination this time around has led to some very powerful turns where fairly significant enemies are crushed in one blow, and locations never seem to linger for longer than a turn or two. It’ll be interesting to see how I fare when the time comes – hopefully it won’t be too long before I will be able to draw this particular cycle to a close!!

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