95 Token Black Gate (or beat any other quest on turn 1)

Seastan 36548


This fellowship is capable of getting 95 tokens on The Black Gate in the quest The Black Gate Opens. Note that this is currently the maximum possible: The lowest possible starting threat is 5, and you threat out at 99. In this quest you must raise your threat by an additional point each round, and are limited to a reduction of 1 each round by the Dire keyword.

Turn 1:

Get a bunch of cards in the staging area using Dunedain Pathfinder. Make staging harmless this round by playing multiple Gildor's Counsel and Risk Some Light. Quest with no one, raise threat by a lot. Player 4 gets targeted by Ever Onward and does not raise his threat.

Player 1 plays Advance Warning so that enemies do not engage.

Player 4 reduces his threat by 1 with Renewed Friendship or Elrond's Counsel.

The goal is to get player 2 into valor (80+ threat). If this cannot be achieved after failing the quest once, you will have to do it again the next turn.

Turn 2 (or later):

In this round, players 1, 2, and 3 can play Justice Shall Be Done, because this will be their last turn.

Step 1

Player 2 triggers the Valor action on Rallying Cry.

Step 2

Completely empty the deck of locations. This is done by using the first three decks to repeatedly play Dunedain Pathfinder and recurring him with Born Aloft. There are only 14 locations in the encounter deck, so this not hard to do. With Rallying Cry active, you do not have to worry about whiffing since the ally will just come back to your hand.

Step 3

Play In Service of the Steward, Lord of Morthond, and Song of Travel onto one of player 3's heroes.

Note that since the encounter deck has no more locations, player 3 can now draw cards for free:

  • Play Pathfinder for 0 cost.
  • Trigger Lord of Morthond to draw 1 card.
  • Then Pathfinder will whiff and return to the hand to be played again.

This allows player 3 to draw his entire deck. Player 3 then passes Desperate Alliance to player 2 using Message from Elrond. Player 2 then uses it to pass Thorin Oakenshield to player 3.

Step 4

Player 3 then sets up the following board state:

Already in play:

Now we keep track of the following cards:

Step 5

Generate unlimited resources using the following loop:

Play Idle (+5 resources).

  • H: Burst, Tome, Breakfast
  • K:
  • D: Idle
  • P: 5 exhausted
  • R: 5

Play Burst (-2 resources)

  • H: Tome, Breakfast
  • K:
  • D: Idle, Burst
  • P: 5 ready
  • R: 3

Play Tome (0 resources)

  • H: Breakfast
  • K:
  • D: Idle, Burst
  • P: 5 ready, Tome
  • R: 3

Trigger Tome on Idle (+5), then draw Idle

  • H: Breakfast, Idle
  • K:
  • D: Burst, Tome
  • P: 5 exhausted
  • R: 8

Play Breakfast on Tome (-1)

  • H: Idle, Tome
  • K:
  • D: Burst, Breakfast
  • P: 5 exhausted
  • R: 7

Play Tome (0), then trigger it on Breakfast (-1), choosing Tome as the target.

  • H: Idle, Tome
  • K: Breakfast
  • D: Burst
  • P: 5 exhausted
  • R: 6

Draw for free (Pathfinder+Morthond+Rallying)

  • H: Idle, Tome, Breakfast
  • K:
  • D: Burst
  • P: 5 exhausted
  • R: 6

Play Tome (0), then trigger it on Burst (-2)

  • H: Idle, Breakfast
  • K: Burst
  • D: Tome
  • P: 5 ready
  • R: 4

Draw for free

  • H: Idle, Burst, Breakfast
  • K:
  • D: Tome
  • P: 5 ready
  • R: 4

Play Breakfast (-1)

  • H: Idle, Burst, Tome
  • K:
  • D: Breakfast
  • P: 5 ready
  • R: 3

Play Tome (0), then trigger it on Breakfast (-1), choosing Tome as the target.

  • H: Idle, Burst, Tome
  • K: Breakfast
  • D:
  • P: 5 ready
  • R: 2

Draw for free

  • H: Idle, Burst, Tome, Breakfast
  • K:
  • D:
  • P: 5 ready
  • R: 2

We are back at the start, with 2 resources. You can repeat this loop any number of times to generate as many resources as you want.

Step 6

Pass Glorfindel the resources you just generated with Parting Gifts. Play In Service of the Steward and Rod of the Steward on Glorfindel. Player 4 then draws his entire deck, and still has unlimited resources.

Step 7

With unlimited resources, player 4 can do essentially anything he wants. He can repeat any event in the game an unlimited number of times using a similar loop as described in Step 5. The loop will be a lot more expensive, because the Record attachments will not be free, but money is no problem anymore.

He can kill every enemy on the table by recurring the events A Light in the Dark, Hail of Stones, and Swift and Silent.

He can explore every location in play by recurring The Evening Star. He can sort through encounter deck by recurring Risk Some Light until a harmless treachery like In Darkness Bind Them is on top.

He can then ensure that no other cards get revealed by playing an arbitrary number of Gildor's Counsel each round.

He can repeat this the next round by putting that treachery back on top of the deck with Shadow of the Past.

He can give Glorfindel unlimited willpower by recurring Lay of Nimrodel each round.

He can recur Elrond's Counsel to reduce his threat by 1 each round (limited by the Dire keyword).

So there you have it. Each turn will only reveal a single harmless treachery card until, after placing your 95th token on The Black Gate, you raise your threat to 99 and lose.

Other quests

We can extend this basic concept to beat any quest in the game on turn 1. Simply add 3x Legacy of Númenor and 3x Deep Knowledge to each deck so that Valor is reached on the first planning phase. Endlessly recurring the card Ravens of the Mountain can get you any amount of progress you want. To kill an immune boss-type enemy you could give Glorfindel infinite stats with Gondorian Fire, Blood of Númenor, Lay of Nimrodel, readying with Unexpected Courage, immunity to shadow effects with A Burning Brand, etc.


Apr 26, 2018 eldub 677

Hahahahaha ha hahahahaha

I just can’t stop laughing.

Apr 26, 2018 The BGamerJoe 4210

That's really something

Apr 26, 2018 Marcelf 1327

congrats these Dunedain Pathfinder shenanigans are incredible!

Apr 27, 2018 Thejuggler2000 52


Apr 28, 2018 Aorakis 510

Thanks !

Now we just have to wait for Caleb's baby crying crisis to come and nerf some of those "key cards" in the next two years coming ! ;)

Apr 28, 2018 Wandalf the Gizzard 1964

@AorakisPlease don't be like that. If you don't appreciate the developer, don't play the game. At least don't go on a rant.

Apr 29, 2018 Marcelf 1327

@Wandalf the GizzardI think Aorakis still has a point here. The way Seastan is able to break the game kind of forces the developper to make erratas.

Apr 29, 2018 The BGamerJoe 4210

I don’t think this style of “breaking the game” has any consequences. This is “theoretical” and gimmicky but I doubt Seastan or anyone else wants to regularl play the game this way. Very impressive brain puzzle though!

Apr 29, 2018 Ludius Ludo 1

This is the kind of system where the players need to all get specific hands starting out which is statistically a long shot. So if one player wants to play 4 decks and just do a shit load of shuffling until they get the perfect set-up, then they can do that. Otherwise, we will be over here playing the game. Because, I promise, you will not find players willing to play decks 1 and 2. Probably not even Deck 3. Just boring. I doubt the developer will do anything. there is no tournament for this game, so its just a combo. The first 3 decks all need a song of wisdom starting out. They all need at least one dunedain pathfinder, preferably all 3. They need born aloft to make up for not having all 3, which would require a song of battle as well. In order to play Gildors council, players 1 and 2 will need a Good Meal. 4 need to be played so that is a piece. So player 2 needs song of wisdom, 2 gildors council, 2 good meal, dunedain pathfinder. and the 7th card you don't see until you decide to keep the hand needs to be another pathfinder. Player 1 needs the same starting hand but they also need Advance Warning. This is sadly impossible as that card is listed nowhere above (am I really the only one who actually examined this strategy???). If players 1 and 2 do not get this combo, they will be fisted because the treachery cards are horrific and the enemies are huge. Meanwhile, player 3 needs to get In service of the steward, Lord of Morthund, and song of travel. then they need pathfinders since those are essential to have starting out. Oh, and I forgot. all three of these decks need to produce and justice shall be done. Sorry, my bad.

Apr 29, 2018 Ludius Ludo 1

This is just so complicated, even I forgot another vital card. Player 2 or 3 also require Ever Onward. Player 4 needs elronds council, song of battle, then 5 of the 6 pathfinders/born alofts. Oh, my whole breakdown, they need all that just to maybe survive the 1st round. After that, the engine might work out.

Apr 29, 2018 Seastan 36548

@Ludius LudoHave you played the Black Gate Opens? It is not hard to survive the first few turns. All you really need here is Advance Warning (which I forgot to include in the list) to hold back the enemies and Ever Onward to cancel player 4's threat raise. There's more than enough card draw here to get these two cards. You would also need either Renewed Friendship or Elrond's Counsel if you are intent on getting all 95 tokens rather than "just" 93 or so. After you hit 80 threat and Rallying Cry gets played, the Pathfinder can't fail, so all you need to do is play 14 pathfinders among the decks (minus what locations have already come out during the quest phase). This is really not that hard to do.

The first three decks don't need Song of Wisdom starting out, so I'm not sure where you got that from. Did you mean Song of Travel? It's not absolutely necessary that every deck starts playing Pathfinders from turn 1. After a couple turns drawing from Beravor and Peace, and Thought, the remaining combo pieces will come together.

And what Treacheries are the "horrific" for this fellowship? The worst one is probably The Hour of Doom, since the Doomed 1 means you'll only get 94 tokens. What else? Rage Filled Him, where the Mouth of Sauron makes an attack? Just kill off a Pathfinder and you have to raise your threat by 4. This actually helps you get into Valor.

May 25, 2018 Rouxxor 1543

I don't see how you may play shadow of the past each turn. It is a neutral event so none book will work.

May 25, 2018 Seastan 36548

@RouxxorQuite right. i think you could fix this by including Galadhrim Weaver and a couple other cards, but I don't think it's needed. You can just play Risk Some Light a bunch of times each turn until the one card you want is the only card left in the encounter deck.

May 25, 2018 Rouxxor 1543

Risk some light won't work turn after turns: soon or later the cards on the bottom will raise to the top ^^. You only have to add Galadrhim weaver and you can bring back any card with born aloft using second breakfast/tome. And now I get another optimization to my 2 player combo since a galadrhim weaver can do the job of a any book except the leadership one :).

May 25, 2018 Seastan 36548

Yeah I forgot that I already had Born Aloft in the decklist. All you need is the Weaver.

May 25, 2018 Seastan 36548

@RouxxorDid you want me to publish my 2-deck version so we could carry on the conversation on the relevant fellowship?

May 27, 2018 Rouxxor 1543

@SeastanI already began to talk about it on LOTR forum. I will also post my version, that I will keep to maintain up to date after testing all the scenario. So it is not mandatory but if you feel this more convenient you can do so.

Jul 04, 2018 死锁 270

you can't play two much Gildor's Counsel,because it can only be played “during the Quest phase”.

but I think it still works if you change some card in deck4.

Jul 04, 2018 Rouxxor 1543

I don't see any way to get as many gildor's counsel as you want. You have to find another way to tweak the scenario. The best possibility I see is:

  • To play Pippin instead of Glorfindel (so it would be 93, because the normal deck only put 94 counters anyway);
  • To have all location in play
  • To remove all treachery using out of the wild
  • To have all enemies in the staging area and to play Advance Warning

So, even if you have to reveal 92 cards on the last turn you reveal no card because the encounter deck is constantly empty.

Jul 04, 2018 Wandalf the Gizzard 1964

@RouxxorHow would that be a problem? Just because its a quest action doesn't mean you can't play multiple copies in the quest phase; given enough copies and resources.

Jul 04, 2018 Seastan 36548

@死锁 Well spotted. I'm surprised no one has pointed this out to me yet. @Wandalf the Gizzardthe Gildor's Counsel strategy won't work because you need the Scroll of Isildur to recur it, which can only be played in the planning phase.

To fix this:

@Rouxxor As you say we can use the Out of the Wild and Advance Warning strategy from my previous fellowship (http://ringsdb.com/fellowship/view/4245).

With all the locations and enemies in the staging area and all the treacheries in the victory display, we reveal nothing each round.

Deck 4 plays Ioreth, and Sword-thain, and one copy of each song. The infinite resources that are generated are given to Ioreth with Parting Gifts. Deck 4 also plays some Anfalas Herdsman and a Warden of Healing to absorb archery damage.

Deck 4 immediately kills off Glorfindel so it can start playing Advance Warning every turn. It also recurs The Galadhrim's Greeting to reduce threat by 1 at the start of each turn. It also recurs Ever Onward each turn to avoid raising threat from failing the quest.

Turn 01: 5 threat. Play Greeting: 4 threat. Quest phase: 1 token(s) on BG. Raise threat to 5. Refresh: Raise threat to 6. Turn 02: 6 threat. Play Greeting: 5 threat. Quest phase: 2 token(s) on BG. Raise threat to 6. Refresh: Raise threat to 7. Turn 03: 7 threat. Play Greeting: 6 threat. Quest phase: 3 token(s) on BG. Raise threat to 7. Refresh: Raise threat to 8. ... Turn 94: 98 threat. Play Greeting: 97 threat. Quest phase: 94 token(s) on BG. Raise threat to 98. Refresh: Raise threat to 99. Lose.

So we end up with 94 tokens, which I guess was always the maximum possible. I think my original calculation was based on a threat elimination level of 100, which is incorrect.

Jul 04, 2018 Wandalf the Gizzard 1964

But . . . after playing Scroll of Isildur, you can activate it in the quest phase, right? And in your description above, how would you "kill off Glorfindel?" Thanks, sorry for my apparent blindness.

Jul 04, 2018 Seastan 36548

@Wandalf the GizzardYes, you can use the Scroll in the quest phase, but that only works once each round. The original strategy required you to play it many times.

And you can kill off Glorfindel with archery damage.

Jul 04, 2018 Wandalf the Gizzard 1964

Oh, I see now, thanks!

Sep 22, 2018 doomguard 1422

i think there are many quests that cannot be beaten in the 1. round. lets say u empty the enconterdeck and can do unlimited progress. there are many szenarious that need triggers.

  • at least on locations (set aside locations, not in the encouterdeck), and u can only travel in the travelphase.
  • other need timemarker. these u cannot add with that strategy (e.g. dunlandtrap).
  • enemys with a maximum of dmg per round. and killing that enemy is mandatory.
  • escape from dol guldur. when glorfindel is captured or one of the leadership-dwarfes it do not work
  • each szenario that starts with a location that is immun to player card-effects
  • uruk hai (glorfindel captured, the only hero of that deck)

perhaps there is more, but im not interested in investigating ;)

Sep 22, 2018 Rouxxor 1543

You are right: many quests cannot be beaten in turn one. Some need some specific cards to be beaten in turn one, some still can't be beaten on turn one and need, just like this one to make a full process so, if we go into combo on turn one we control anything until the end of the game. We know we have won on the first turn, even if we need to spend more turns to make all the actions.

You seem not to have understand the whole process since you spoke about empty the encounter deck. We can't do that since the errata of out of the wild. We just reveal one card per turn, we select it once and return it on the top of the encounter deck with galadhrim weaver. That's an improve on the decklist who originaly don't work at all, but it is not all your fault since no update have been made of the deck even after the discover.

If you want a fellowship who actually try to beat the most quest possible on turn one here is one I work on: ringsdb.com The sideboard is only for the slots I'm currently thinking about. I haven't work on it since a couple of months but I will eventually come back to finish the job (and discuss with Seastan who is really helpful) :).

Sep 23, 2018 doomguard 1422

your link is not working.

and i wrote "lets say...." this means, "even if we asume, that......"

and additional, it is not save, yes an interesting mindpuzzle, but u need luck to get the right things in the first 2 rounds without deep knowledge. to be save u need 14 cards that have to be pathfinder or born aloft. each have 3 of each. 24 in the 4 decks. to draw 14 of that 24 in the first 2 rounds, not very likely, even with daerons runes and perhaps 1 or 2 campfire. i see the probability about 50% to get that state in the first 2 rounds.

another point: " Make staging harmless this round by playing multiple Gildor's Counsel and Risk Some Light." in the first round u do not have unlimited res. u cant play as much gildors council as u want. in fact u can only play one with the first deck. and risk some light is only one at the glorfindel-deck. at this time in the game it is very unlikely that he have it. it is before he draws his deck (we are in 1. round, remember?).

another unlikely fact is, to have an ever onward in the 1. round. yes there are 6 of them in 4 decks, but it is another probability that must be fit to have that dreamstart.

with all that probabilities that have to be fit, i would say, it is possible, but not save, and can imagine, that there are combos with 4 decks that have better chances at given adventures

Sep 23, 2018 doomguard 1422

and in addtion, u have to draw Advance Warning in the 1. round (which i cant find in the decklists) . i think i reduce the overall-probability to get this running like described below 50%.

Sep 23, 2018 Rouxxor 1543

I think you misunderstand the point of those decks. They aren't the ones with the most chance of success on this scenario (if that even make a sense, there is no victory capable here). This is a way (the only I know) to win with 94 tokens.

There is many problem with the decklist. I found many positive aspects in @Seastan production: he is invested in many useful things, have many ideas and, as far as I see, always answer kindly. But one of the flue I notice it that when he found a technic who work he may no go further, not doing ultimate arrangement on the decklist, don't do update after some user's feedback. So yes those decklists aren't working. After some changes it can go to 94 tokens only. And he can probably make the combo work more often. But, in another hand, he says the combo work without having to do many tries. So I trust him. I don't see any reason not to. May be you can make those decks your owns, upgrade them and do your own test. I don't see how you could even know if it work or not for something as complex without try.

And, of course, if the objective is 90, 85, or 80 tokens it could become way more stable. But the whole point was to put as many tokens as possible. With combos like this you really need only 2 turns (or may be 3, I don't remember well) anyway ^^.

Sep 24, 2018 Seastan 36548

@Rouxxorsaid it right. This is more of a thought experiment than an actual strategy guide. Even if it only works 1% of the time, the point was to come up with some possible way of getting the maximum possible 94 tokens. I didn't expect anyone to take this fellowship and actually try to accomplish it. If your goal is just to survive enough rounds for the group at Mount Doom, the are much, much, more reliable ways of doing so. For example, just swap in 3x Deep Knowledge and 3x Legacy of Númenor into each deck here and you can get >50 tokens with essentially 100% certaintly.

Sep 24, 2018 doomguard 1422

title => "(or beat any other quest on turn 1)"

sounds like a save way. but kk i thought i oversaw something. as "possibility" to win as fast as possible (in some cases round 1) i can take this. seems to me that the title is kind of overconfident ;)

Sep 24, 2018 radAGHAST 410

This is too funny.

Feb 28, 2020 Jtothemac 455

What adjustments need to be made for Sméagol solo deck? Is it possible, since he cannot take attachments? If there are enough events and recursion that can take place, we could hypothetically increase the total number of possible tokens by 2, right? But I am not sure if this is possible given Smeagol's lack of attachments.

Feb 28, 2020 Seastan 36548

@Jtothemac A better bet might be a deck with just Ioreth as a Messenger of the King which would have 1 starting threat.

Feb 28, 2020 Jtothemac 455

I am not sure if that is possible, because you would need to have zero heroes through the quest setup, and then the contract setup kicks in.

Nov 24, 2022 Emmental 339

I think this fellowship is not totally outdated.

Out of the Wild doesn't work anymore, but with infinite ressources you can still trivialise the quest

1) Sort encounter deck with Risk Some Light to let an easy card (Onslaught of Mordor if not playing epic multiplayer for example) on top of deck.

2) During quest phase, you can still use an arbitrary number of Gildor's Counsel with Scroll of Isildur, Reforged, Map of Earnil and Rod of the Steward :

Play Counsel.  Then Scroll on Counsel. Draw Counsel with Rod  
Play Reforged on Scroll, then Map on Reforged targeting Map. Draw Reforged with Rod.

3) So Every round round, you will only reveal one card. After questing, use Shadow of the Past to bring it back on top.
You need to add a way to recur neutral events during planning, probably with Host/Weaver.

Nov 24, 2022 Rouxxor 1543

better to use weaver with the classic born aloft already there ;)