Huzzah! This Saturday Miss Took was out being an adult and doing adult things while I got to stay home and play. No work, no schedule, and a chance to play the newest, and first, Adventure Pack from the Haradrim Cycle… The Mûmakil! Read on to see what I thought…
A few quick things to get out of the way. First, I would love to do more of these. Would this interest anyone? When AP’s come out, aside from the general chatter of the discord channel and the COTR Podcast, I don’t hear a lot about quests as they come out except in the form of player card reviews. Please let me know if you’d like to read/hear more first impressions of quests. It seems like there’s not a lot out there in blog form. Second, spoiler alert… I lost. You should know that. Third, if you wish to experience the quest fresh, then you may want to skip this article. I won’t be going every minor detail on every card, but it’s still worth noting that this article may not be for you. Anyway, enough of that. Into the jungles of Harad we go!
The premise of “The Mûmakil” may delight or terrify you. Or perhaps it will fill you with a sense of dread with the thought of having to face the towering, powerful Oliphaunt for the upteenth time. Veterans of the game seemed to have had their fill of this exotic creature. Caleb, developer of the cycle, appears to think otherwise, and I think he approaches the design of this quest with all of that in mind. The Heroes are following Khaliel through a Harad jungle, having recently escaped from the clutches of Mordor. Their goal is a simple* one. Tame a Wild Mûmak, the giant elephants native to the land. Once tamed, these mighty creatures will prove invaluable as they transport the Heroes, and the survivors of Khaliel’s village, to Gondor. Taming a Mûmak is not so easily accomplished, nor is traversing the twisting, tangling paths of the jungle, where other, potentially more dangerous creatures lay waiting to strike.
In the beginning of the quest, everything starts out pretty normal. The Wild Mûmak are set aside, along with the Capture Objectives that players use to actually tame them. Players then each choose a different location and the quest begins. Side B has the players shuffling in Wild Mûmak after exploring the active location, while also preventing them from passing until the number of Mûmak in play equals the number of players. Once the pre-reqs are met and appropriate progress is made, players move to stage 2. Things are pretty straightforward from there, as players work to accomplish their task of taming the beasts according to their capture objective (which trigger off of combat, questing, or location exploration, depending on which card). Once there are no more Capture Objectives in play, the game ends and the players win.
Like those of the “Sands of Harad” Deluxe Expansion, the quest in “The Mûmakil” is a welcome return-to-form coming off the heels of the several unique and inventive quests in the “Dreamchaser” cycle. While “The Mûmakil” isn’t creating a map or using double-sided locations, the mechanics in the quest make what could have been a simple and, to be blunt, boring quest of trekking through the forest into one that feels simple yet still refreshing.
For instance, take a look at two of the creatures that make an appearance in this quest. Though they don’t have the raw numbers like the indestructible Mumak, the Strangling Python and Giant Centipede can be potentially hazardous to players. Most characters can shake a damage or two, but thanks to the likes of the above enemies, those who wander through the Harad jungles may suffer nasty effects like a blank text box or worse, the inability to ready at all. Their little stats make them negligible, but a slight misstep can turn the tide. Like the Carrion Bird and Sand Viper from “Desert Crossing,” weaker enemies are no longer inconsequential. The combat phase will always be a little bit dicey. It’s a great way to keep things simple but fun, but is also thematically sweet under the lens of a perilous jungle locale. These are creatures foreign to our Heroes, possessing weapons and abilities unknown to them. And then you still have to worry about the big guys!
The Wild Mumak in this quest were the right amount of difficult. 6 attack strength is easily mitigated in today’s meta, but what about having to defend 6 attack twice every turn? The easy option would be to send the Mumak back into the staging area, but with locations being churned out, and some of those being hit with the Overgrown treachery, you’ll need to push through with some decent willpower. The Mumak are also immune to player card effects in addition to being indestructible, which I’ll admit, is a bit frustrating but it’s probably for the best. Also worth noting is the Mumak can only take a maximum of 3 damage each round, keeping the quest from being ended too quickly.
One of the most intriguing cards in this quest was the Harad Tiger. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to see it in my first play but I sort of wished I did! I mean, for one thing, look at that art! But seriously, I like the idea of a 0 engagement-cost enemy lurking somewhere in the deck, stalking the Heroes. Once the Tiger reveals itself, it can begin to jump around from player to staging area, slowly picking off weaker allies until someone slays it. Worse still, even if you “luck out” and the Tiger is reduced to simply being a shadow card, you will find one of those Mumak making a second attack before their end of round ability even comes into play. This quest can surprise you, and that makes it great, especially in terms of replay value.
Now what about taming the Mumak? Sadly, I lost before I could get to the 2nd stage but I did have a chance to playtest this quest shortly before it was finished. So I do have some thoughts on the matter. Sometimes quests like these, which have big, beefy foes to wrangle favor only the combat focused. By having 4 unique Capture Objectives, players have a chance of seeing each of their strengths help the entire group instead of relying upon another player or just crossing their fingers… hoping for the best. Did you take a whack at a Mumak? Then the Horse-hair Lasso may finally calm the beast depending on the resource cost of your topmost card on your deck. The rest of the objectives follow suit, capturing the Mumak after questing successfully, traveling to a location, or defending an attack. To be fair this quest does still favor combat a bit, as the remaining hitpoints of the Mumak are always being checked in order to trigger the objective’s effect. There’s still the ability to chuck the Mumak back to the staging area so that a more combat ready player can take them down next turn.
Overall I really enjoyed this quest. If it’s an indicator of the rest of the cycle, then I think we are in good hands. For players who are new to the game who maybe just bought a core set, they’ll find a newer quest that isn’t burdened with complicated mechanics and rules keeping that they can enjoy with the rest of us. For those players who have been with the game for awhile, rest assured that while you are, yet again, traversing another dense, winding, treacherous forest that there are plenty of fun times to be had, difficult choices to make, and a decent challenge to overcome.
As always, thanks for reading!
-The Secondhand Took