“The Dwarves listened and shook their beards, for they knew that they must soon venture into that forest and that after the mountains it was the worst of the perils they had to pass before they came to the Dragon’s stronghold.”
–J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit
In The Lord of the Rings: Journeys in Middle-earth, players became some of Middle-earth’s greatest heroes, exploring the wilderness, delving into strange places, and battling the forces of the Dark Lord, Sauron. But now, a new menace stirs in Mirkwood. Rumors of gigantic spiders infesting the forest have drawn the heroes to visit the realm of the Woodland King. Who knows what they might find there, lurking around the next corner, shaded under thick, rustling boughs?
Shadowed Paths is the first large expansion for The Lord of the Rings: Journeys in Middle-earth, and it brings a Dragon’s hoard of new content, almost doubling the number of tiles, heroes, and enemies from the Core Set. Five new heroes take center stage, including iconic favorites like Gandalf and Arwen. Alongside those heroes, players will find five new classes—Herbalist, Delver, Traveler, Smith, and Meddler—each offering heroes a new way to specialize and new skills to gain the edge in any fight.
Of course, those heroes need an adventure to embark upon. Shadowed Paths gives players everything they need to play the free Shadowed Paths campaign. This brand-new campaign stretches across thirteen scenarios, taking players into the darkest places of Middle-earth, from the tangled and haunted paths of Mirkwood to the deep and shadowy halls of abandoned Moria. Along the way, they’ll face a wide assortment of dangerous and terrifying new enemies, from Pit Goblins, to noisome Giant Spiders, to a monstrous Balrog. No matter where a player’s journeys lead, the dangers that they face are only becoming more prevalent.
WIELDER OF THE SACRED FIRE
Five new heroes join the game in the Shadowed Paths expansion, and perhaps none are more wise than the Grey Pilgrim, Gandalf. Gandalf ’s wisdom and spirit are undimmed despite his many years walking the earth, and his vast knowledge is well-expressed in his hero ability. By discarding a prepared skill with the fate symbol, he can gain inspiration and scout into his deck of skill cards, constantly changing his skills and finding the perfect tool to help the other players on their adventure.
Like every hero, players can use Gandalf in any role, but his suggested role has him beginning with the Meddler role, along with his trusty walking stick, sword, and cloak. The Nosy skill gives Gandalf greater insight into any hero’s skill deck, helping players to know in advance whether or not they’ll be able to pass a skill test. Alternatively, a player may use Gandalf ’s Uncanny skill to remove weaknesses from his deck—ensuring that every skill test has the maximum possible impact.
Whether you choose the healing expertise of an Herbalist or use trinkets and items in new ways as a Smith, the quest remains clear: journey into the heart of Mirkwood and eliminate the evil that has taken root there. But more than one road can lead you to this goal. At the end of many Shadowed Paths adventures, the app will present players with a choice of which adventure to play next. Each fork in the road changes the course of their journey and, ultimately, the path the Fellowship takes is up to them—leaving plenty of room for players to replay Shadowed Paths again and again.
These adventures will certainly bring players into contact with enemies of many different types, of course, and while these beasts are certain to take their toll, the true enemy may lie within. Despite beginning the campaign united in their efforts to rid Mirkwood of the rising menace that resides there, throughout the Shadowed Paths campaign, heroes can slowly give into to the forces of greed, despair, and suspicion in the form of corruption.
Unlike damage or fear, corruption stays with the heroes throughout the entire campaign, and is tracked by the app. This corruption can weigh on a hero, triggering certain events during their adventures. What’s more, if a hero cannot pass a last stand test when they would gain their fourth corruption, they are defeated. Only time will tell if the players have what it takes to resist the corrupting influences they face long enough to complete their quest.
DOWN DARKER ROADS
Dark rumors have reached the ears of all heroes, leading into the danger of Mirkwood, Moria, and even fouler places. Players can start their new adventure with the Shadowed Paths expansion for The Lord of the Rings: Journeys in Middle-earth, now available for pre-order and planned for release in the second quarter of 2020.