A Shadow of the Past - Progression
So this scenario was a little odd for us. I built some decks at first but they just felt wonky and wrong and we were losing a bunch. I tried to use less allies so we wouldn't face harsher hide tests but we still ended up with more allies in our hands than I wanted.
Ultimately we did a whole rebuild of the decks. This also included moving Pippin out of the hobbit deck and putting in Fatty Bolger because we wanted spirit on that side. In doing this I moved lore cards from the hobbit deck to the other and somehow didn't remove Take No Notice. It ended up ok, I played it once when I also had Frodo Baggins so it wasn't so expensive and saved us that turn.
Aside from the deckbuilding weirdness, after the rebuilds we won the first attempt, but it was a LONG game. SO annoying to keep getting locations when we just want to go to the Buckleberry Ferry ! We actually ended up using The One Ring to get rid of locations, even benign locations, and were hoping for treacheries, felt so wrong !
I suspect that we may have had an easier time because of the phenomenal starting hands but that did clue me into probably the most important aspect to beating this scenario, action advantage. We started with three Fast Hitch in my opening hand, one Light of Valinor and one Unexpected courage. We ended up getting and playing a second Unexpected Courage too and not to mention Sam Gamgee's built in readying (And Merry's but I don't think we ever triggered it meaningfully?). With added Hide tests action advantage is important.
So yea, action advantage is king. We also favored using our cards early to gain a foothold. For example, we used the one time use Mr. Underhill right away. We used and A Test of Will and Hasty Stroke right away. We also cancelled with The One Ring early. Even if the effects were marginal and we could stomach them, we didn't save for the worst effects. This let us grab the foothold we needed to more or less sail through the rest.
We favored engaging the first Black Rider immediately (and using Mr. Underhill) to get his threat out of staging and we killed him over 2 turns. Be careful though, don't kill Bag End and go to quest phase two too quickly unless you are ready for another Black Rider (and a Hide 2).
Gildor Inglorien was discarded in a Hide test, unfortunately. And he was the first card in a Hide 2 so even though Shadow of the Past was in our hand we couldn't fetch him. We ended up using Shadow of the Past on one of the birds we had just killed late in the game just so we wouldn't get another location !
I did have fun, the flavor of hiding from Nazgul and sprinting to the Buckleberry Ferry was strong, I just wish it the scenario didn't drag at the end trying to clear locations. Side note: we will probably try to do campaign mode just for the three scenarios of this box, not the next saga and then revisit all 6 way down the road to try and campaign all at once with all available cards/heroes. For now, I hope it works out; I did not read the next 2 scenarios so this bunch of heroes/sphere distribution might make it hard !