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“Tis said that there were dealings of old between Gondor and the kingdoms of the Harad in the Far South; though there was never friendship. In those days our bounds were away south beyond the mouths of Anduin, and Umbar, the nearest of their realms, acknowledged our sway.”
–Damrod, The Two Towers
Fantasy Flight Games is proud to announce the upcoming release of The Sands of Harad, the sixth deluxe expansion for The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game!
Set immediately after the events of The Grey Havens and the Dream-chaser cycle, The Sands of Harad gives you and your heroes a chance to explore the strange lands and cultures to the south of Middle-earth… provided you can first make your escape through the streets of Umbar.
Three new scenarios carry you from the coast, deep into the desert of Harad, and then back within the reach of Mordor and the Dark Lord’s Orcs, although in such a fashion as you have never seen before. Along the way, you’re bound to encounter countless ferocious Haradrim, grueling environmental effects, and deadly desert predators. You will also have to overcome the ancient animosities that have long festered between the Men of Gondor and those of Harad.
Meanwhile, your desperate journeys may also lead to desperate alliances, and you’ll find a pair of heroes who make each other stronger, as well as a cluster of new player cards that require paired Traits to trigger, but that then offer tremendous rewards. You’ll also find new allies for each sphere of influence and a game-changing side quest that allows you to ignore resource matching on the first ally you play each turn.
Journey Through the Desert
With its 156 new cards, The Sands of Harad presents three new scenarios that weave a compelling narrative of exploration and discovery. You’ll start in a hurry, trying to escape the coastal city in which you start. This is the same city in which your heroes end up at the conclusion of the Dream-chaser cycle, but it is unnecessary to own or have played the Dream-chaser cycle in order to enjoy the ways that The Sands of Harad depict the cultures and dangers of the lands south of Gondor.
Once you find your way out of Umbar, however, your pursuers leave you for dead. Why? Because outside the coastal town, you wander into the endless, shifting dunes of the Harad desert. This is a realm of Giant Scorpions (The Sands of Harad, 55) and biting Sandstorms (The Sands of Harad, 51). It is even rumored to be home to the legendary Were-worms (The Sands of Harad, 23) that are said to grow stronger as the lands grow hotter.
In fact, you will be very concerned about the heat as you travel travels through the desert. With a new mechanic for tracking the temperature, The Sands of Harad offers a brutal reminder that your journeys aren’t just about battling monsters. Even the sands and sun can become your foes.
Finally, if your weakened and wearied heroes can successfully traverse the desert, they will only find themselves confronted by a band of skilled Haradrim warriors. And this, of course, leads to a climactic confrontation with the Dark Lord’s minions—but with a twist that may have your heroes questioning their long-held beliefs.
Desperate Alliances for Desperate Times
Stranded in the desert of Harad, your heroes are going to need every bit of help they can get, and they’ll be happy for the assistance provided by the new allies and other player cards from The Sands of Harad.
One of the most exciting of these new player cards is the game-changing side quest, The Storm Comes (The Sands of Harad, 13). Like all the different player side quests previously released, The Storm Comes offers you a powerful incentive for including it in your deck and taking the time away from your main quest to complete it. Unlike previous side quests, however, The Storm Comes doesn’t trigger a one-time effect. Instead, so long as it remains in your victory display, it allows you to play your first ally each turn without requiring a resource match.
It’s even more powerful in a multiplayer game since it allows all your friends to play their first allies without resource matches, too.
Of course, you wouldn’t necessarily want this to serve as the lynchpin to a deck that wants to play a bunch of allies outside its core sphere or spheres. Even if you include three copies of The Storm Comes and three copies of Dúnedain Message (Across the Ettenmoors, 56) to search for it, the side quest needs to be both found and completed before you gain its benefits. Accordingly, it is likely best used as support for a multi-sphere deck that occasionally wishes to play expensive allies, using resources from all three heroes, even though their spheres don’t all match the allies’.
In this way, you could play a Tactics ally like the Vigilant Dúnadan (The Sands of Harad, 6) using only a single resource from your Tactics hero and pairing it with three resources from your other heroes. Or you could play a Spirit ally, but borrow some of the resources from your non-Spirit heroes, in order to keep a resource on your Spirit hero in case you need to play A Test of Will (Core Set, 50) during the Quest Phase… And, occasionally, you might use the side quest’s ability to play a single, powerful ally that doesn’t match any of your heroes’ spheres of influence.
However you use it, though, The Storm Comes reinforces two of the themes from The Sands of Harad. It plays to the many difficult decisions the expansion’s side quests will force you to make as you find your way through the desert of Harad. And it promotes the Unlikely Friendships (The Sands of Harad, 7) that make allies of characters from different spheres, Traits, and backgrounds.