|A Creature of Shadow and Flame
A Spotlight on The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game
|The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game | Published 25 June 2012||Rating||22 votes|
The Balrog made no answer. The fire in it seemed to die, but the darkness grew. It stepped forward slowly on to the bridge, and suddenly it drew itself up to a great height, and its wings were spread from wall to wall; but still Gandalf could be seen, glimmering in the gloom; he seemed small, and altogether alone: grey and bent, like a wizened tree before the onset of a storm.
From out of the shadow a red sword leaped flaming.
–J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring
Throughout the Dwarrowdelf cycle of Adventure Packs for The Lord of Rings: The Card Game the heroes of Middle-earth have fought hordes of Orcs and Goblins. Seeking the source of the increased Orc activity in the Misty Mountains, they pressed deep into the mines of Moria, and their journeys have led them against many dangers. They have suffered cave-ins, pitfalls, and swarms of Orcs. They have faced the nameless things that dwell deep in the watery caverns at the root of the mountains. Now, however, their long journey nears its end…
In Shadow and Flame, the heroes of Middle-earth make a terrifying discovery. The force spurring the increased Orcish activity throughout the Misty Mountains is none other than Durin’s Bane (Shadow and Flame, 150), a Balrog, the demon that awoke when the Dwarves delved too deep and drove them out of their ancestral home.
Their discovery comes at a heavy price, for the Balrog discovers them, too! Hedged in by Orcs and a maze of tunnels, the heroes have no choice but to fight for their lives. In their moment of desperation, will they find a way to drive off the Balrog? The Balrog is a force greater than anything the heroes have ever faced, an immortal fiend that has survived from the days of Morgoth. It is effectively invulnerable to mortal weapons, bearing both the Regenerate and new Indestructible keywords. These allow the Balrog to recover from its wounds and prevent it from being defeated by standard means, but Durin’s Bane and the encounter deck don’t extend your heroes the same courtesy.
Durin’s Bane is considered engaged with every player simultaneously and attacks each player every turn. It has a base Attack Strength of six, enough to fell most characters, and that attack strength can increase dramatically. The encounter set from Shadow and Flame focuses heavily on the Balrog and keys off his presence to set up combinations that can strike against the players. As much as players of The Lord of the Rings have long appreciated the challenges the encounter deck can throw against them, they have yet to see how diabolical it can become when driven by the malevolent intelligence of an ancient demon of flame and shadow.
Continuity in The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game
While Shadow and Flame presents an entirely different challenge from the third scenario of the Khazad-dûm expansion, some players have wondered if the game’s ongoing story can bear a second encounter with the Balrog. Lead developer Lukas Litzsinger addresses these concerns:
The stories told by Khazad-dûm and the Dwarrowdelf cycle are related, but distinct. If this were a movie or a piece of literature, Khazad-dûm would be the prologue, the part of the work where the major conflict and villain are introduced in a visceral way. The party that adventured through Khazad-dûm is not the same party that ventures through the Dwarrowdelf cycle; indeed the only evidence of the former party may now be the burned and frozen remains that lie under snowdrifts as referenced in quest stage two of The Redhorn Gate.
Now as we draw near to the end of the Dwarrowdelf cycle, the Nameless Fear which drove our first party of adventurers out of the mines takes center stage. And this time he brings the fire.
Tragedy or Victory?
We’re now only weeks away from the release of Shadow and Flame and its epic confrontation with Durin’s Bane. Orc drums are beating doom, boom, doom, as a creature of flame and shadow awaits those heroes brave or foolish enough to face it.
How will your journey through the Dwarrowdelf end? Will it end in tragedy, with the deaths of those heroes who traveled too deep in search of the root of evil? Or will your heroes find some way to overcome their foe and escape, victorious?
Keep checking our site as we explore some of the cards and strategies available to Middle-earth’s heroes as they push through the dangers of the Dwarrowdelf!
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.