The Line Unbroken – 10-12: Khazad-Dum

With the most canonical quest cycle done with, Gollum safely delivered to his captivity in Mirkwood, we move onto the historical home of the Dwarves. In contrast to the first cycle being the most canonical (as the hunting and capture of Gollum definitely happened even if it may not have been carried out by the characters we use in the card game), Khazad-Dum and the Dwarrowdelf cycle are I think the least canonical, since they hinge on Elrond sending people into Moria to find out what’s going on there, yet at the Council Elrond still seems to have no idea that anything could be less than perfectly fine with Balin’s colony. Essentially I suspect the reason behind this is that the game designers wanted to mimic some of the classic scenes from the story (as they’d already kind of done with Conflict at the Carrock imitating the encounter with the trolls in The Hobbit), but they hadn’t yet resolved to do Saga expansions which would directly represent those events so they needed a plausible excuse for our heroes to do almost exactly the same things that the Fellowship did. Plot-holes were always going to be difficult to avoid from that premise. There’s still definite fun to be had though!
So, as with the Core Set, I’m going to be taking the same two decks through all three scenarios, though I’m not sure for how many more boxes I’ll be able to keep that up, if any. From here on out the quests in the big boxes do start to get more varied. I mean, these ones are a bit varied, between the fairly basic Into the Pit, the enemy-swarming of Seventh Level and the cycling quest stages of Flight From Moria; but you can still just build generic good-at-everything decks and expect to do fine most of the time. Especially since my standard Line Unbroken rules forcing me to use the new heroes and try to slot in the new player cards really aren’t a hindrance here, because the Dwarf trait has been kicked into high gear with the cards in this box on top of Dain from Return to Mirkwood.
Note: I say high gear, not overdrive. Overdrive doesn’t come until we’ve picked up some of the additional Dwarf synergy from the Dwarrowdelf cycle and then seized all the crazy goodies out of the Hobbit boxes. With that being said, pretty much all the cards in this box are good. Some are situational, some are often superfluous because Dwarves are powerful enough to smash quests without them, and some have been overshadowed by later releases, but they’re still very good. From the entire Khazad-Dum box, there’s only one new card which I haven’t fitted into one of the two decks I’m going to play the quests with – a new record for card inclusivity (And surprise surprise, the one card left out, the one not good card in this pack is the only one which has nothing to do with the Dwarf trait).
Here are the decks:

“Only I have looked through the shadow of the Gate.”

Heroes:
Dain Ironfoot
Gloin
Dwalin

Allies (18):
Longbeard Orc Slayer x2
Faramir x2
Gandalf x3
Northern Tracker x2
Zigil Miner x3
Erebor Hammersmith x3
Longbeard Map-Maker x3

Attachments (16):
Narvi’s Belt x3
Boots from Erebor x2
Steward of Gondor x3
Unexpected Courage x3
Ancient Mathom x3
A Burning Brand x2

Events (16):
Durin’s Song x2
Sneak Attack x3
Campfire Tales x3
A Test of Will x3
Hasty Stroke x3
Untroubled by Darkness x2

Thoughts: Dain Ironfoot returns to the Gate he looked through at the Battle of Azanulbizar, when he counselled that they should not attempt to retake Moria. I guess he changed his mind? Or we’re just ignoring the thematic concerns in this bout of deckbuilding, that’s more likely.
Both of these decks were actually quite simple to build, as I mostly just threw in every Dwarf-related card that was available to me. The hardest part was choosing how to divide the heroes. I originally had Dwalin and Bifur the other way round, but a test play of the decks like that felt off somehow, so I swapped them. There was an issue with this in that there aren’t as many Dwarf allies in Leadership and Spirit as there are in Tactics and Lore, but Narvi’s Belt has me covered in that regard. Plus I did throw in a couple of Northern Trackers and Faramir (Because clearly Dwarves don’t quest for enough already).
Taking a moment to talk about Dwalin, his ability is actually very powerful, but only against certain quests (i.e. ones with lots of Orcs). So in this box, he’s perfect, because the only enemies which aren’t Orcs are a couple of Trolls and a Balrog which we can’t kill anyway. He may not reappear too often or at all in my decks after this box. But it is a possibility I may consider for other Orc-heavy quests.
Narvi’s Belt is always an interesting card to build around. In theory it means you can just pick whatever you like from all four spheres and be able to play it all. In practice, it happens far too often that you get the out of sphere cards without the belt and they just sit pointlessly in your hand, so you want to be cautious. In this instance it smooths out resources between my two spheres and allows the inclusion of Erebor Hammersmith (generally very good), Longbeard Map-Maker (between Gloin’s ability and Steward, I may well have spare resources which I can use the Belt to pay as Lore resources for the Map-Maker’s ability) and Burning Brand (one of the primary targets is Gloin anyway, so he can defend to use his ability without risk of death from shadows, and I was short on space in the other deck).
Untroubled by Darkness is a card I wouldn’t usually bother with as it’s generally surplus to requirements when the Dwarves are already boosted by Dain (and in this instance I also have Faramir), but we don’t have quite so many Dwarf cards to choose from at this point and I wanted to fit in as many of the new cards as possible, so there it is.

Baruk Khazad

Heroes:
Gimli
Thalin
Bifur

Allies (26):
Veteran Axehand x3
Veteran of Nanduhirion x2
Beorn x1
Gandalf x3
Beorning Beekeeper x2
Landroval x1
Erebor Record Keeper x3
Daughter of the Nimrodel x3
Erebor Hammersmith x3
Miner of the Iron Hills x2
Gleowine x1
Rivendell Minstrel x2

Attachments (12):
Dwarrowdelf Axe x3
Song of Mocking x2
Citadel Plate x3
Song of Wisdom x1
Song of Battle x1
Dwarven Axe

Events (12):
Khazad! Khazad! x2
Feint x3
Quick Strike x2
Ancestral Knowledge x2
Secret Paths x3

Thoughts: This deck was actually more complicated once I swapped Bifur into it instead of Dwalin, given the previously mentioned glut of Tactics and Lore Dwarves compared to Leadership/Spirit. Fortunately Bifur’s ability is incredibly useful for smoothing out resources (in contrast to Dwalin, Bifur is always good, the perfect Lore-splash hero), so I don’t have to be as cautious as I usually would be about including more expensive cards from my minor sphere. This is important as the Daughters of the Nimrodel are key for helping Gloin, and the Rivendell Minstrels can fetch those songs (Wisdom for Dain so he can have a Burning Brand, Battle for Bifur himself because there are a lot of Tactics cards in this deck). An odd inclusion in this deck is the Beorning Beekeeper. Generally he seems too expensive for an ally you’re going to end up discarding to not too big an effect, but I feel that he may come in handy in The Seventh Level, as that quest has a tendency to swarm enemies in the staging area, and he’ll be comboing against them with Thalin as well.

RingsDB:
http://ringsdb.com/fellowship/view/1494/the-line-unbroken-khazad-dum
http://ringsdb.com/decklist/view/3420/the-line-unbroken-khazad-dum-deck-1-1.0
http://ringsdb.com/decklist/view/3421/the-line-unbroken-khazad-dum-deck-2-1.0

Youtube videos:
Into the Pit
The Seventh Level
Flight From Moria

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