The Line Unbroken – 18: Shadow and Flame

And so we’ve reached the end of another cycle, rounding off the exploration of Moria with a climactic fight against the Balrog of Morgoth, Durin’s Bane. While Flight from Moria had us fleeing to escape from the Balrog, with it potentially picking off the stragglers, Shadow and Flame allows us to fight it head on, and prove Gandalf completely wrong in his claim that “This is a foe beyond any of you!” (Indeed, with the card pool released up to this point we could have five heroes to take against this quest be members of the Fellowship to whom Gandalf says that memorable line)
Although Foundations of Stone is my favourite quest from this cycle, Shadow and Flame may well take the title of my favourite pack over all. The quest is thematically really cool, gameplay-wise it’s fun, and while Glorfindel bugs me with his massive threat discount, I love Elrond. Also, I believe I’ve mentioned before that I love the magical side of Middle Earth, so it should come as no surprise that I was instantly enamoured of this pack when I saw that we actually got to use Vilya. The other cards are good too. Some situational perhaps, with the obvious caveat that Secrecy cards are not so good out of Secrecy, and Peace and Thought can be risky unless you have readying effects or a bunch of powerful allies available, but there’s no card in this pack that isn’t at least worthy of consideration, and I don’t think there are too many packs up to this point that can claim that.
So how does the quest work, and how do I need to build my decks? Well, in principle it’s simple. I just need to quest through the first two stages of the quest, then throw the Balrog down the Dark Pit. And I get to start at 0 threat, so I don’t have to be particularly worried about other enemies (though of course leaving them in the staging area will mean I need to keep questing past their threat). The difficulty is that I need to keep defending against Durin’s Bane and then dump enough damage on it for the Dark Pit effect to actually work, and this in spite of that pesky Regenerate 3. The problem of course is that the easiest way to deal with Durin’s Bane’s 6 attack is to chump block it, but doing so will mean I struggle to get a decent number of allies onto the table to keep questing successfully and amass the necessary attack to deal the killing blow. So cheap but effective allies would make sense, also powerful heroes, and if I can boost up a defender to the point where they can take more than one hit from the big demon, that’d really help. With all that in mind, here’s where I went:

Rivendell Marches to War (part 1)

Glorfindel (Lo)
Frodo Baggins

Allies (20):
Master of the Forge x3
Haldir of Lorien x1
Beorn x1
Northern Tracker x2
Henamarth Riversong x1
Miner of the Iron Hills x2
Gandalf x3
Imladris Stargazer x3
Gildor Inglorion x1
Arwen Undomiel x3

Attachments (19):
Miruvor x2
Vilya x3
A Burning Brand x3
Song of Wisdom x2
Unexpected Courage x3
Light of Valinor x1
Asfaloth x1
Fast Hitch x1
Resourceful x3

Events (13):
Risk Some Light x2
A Test of Will x3
Out of the Wild x3
Out of Sight x2
Elrond’s Counsel x3

Thoughts: Frodo is my one departure, hero-wise, from the Rivendell theme I’ve got going for these two decks, and it’s not too big a stretch since he is acquainted with the Elves. Anyway, I wanted a Spirit hero, and his powerful defensive ability can be used to spare my allies from Durin’s Bane. For I think the first time in The Line Unbroken, I’ve gone for a slightly oversized deck, at a total of 52 cards, and without any conventional card draw. What I do have, however, is Master of the Forge to dig out attachments, which is effectively card draw, and Vilya to take cards off the top of my deck for free, so the deck should go through itself at a decent rate. The Master of the Forge is also the reason why I only have 1 copy each of Light of Valinor, Asfaloth and Fast Hitch. I only want one hitch, the other two are unique, and none of them are absolutely crucial to find really quickly so I can wait for the Master to dig them out in his own time. The variety of high cost allies are of course intended for Vilya, I’m taking full advantage of the “drop threat to 0” part of the quest to make use of most of the Secrecy cards from the cycle, though not all, and otherwise there’s stuff primarily to serve as means for defending and avoiding Balrog attacks.

Rivendell Marches to War (part 2)

Aragorn (Ld)

Allies (19):
Faramir x3
Snowbourn Scout x3
Gandalf x3
Longbeard Elder x3
Dunedain Wanderer x3
Erestor x2
Landroval x1
Beorn x1

Attachments (17):
Dunedain Warning x3
Steward of Gondor x3
Horn of Gondor x2
Rivendell Blade x3
Sword that was Broken x3
Resourceful x3

Events (14):
Sneak Attack x3
Valiant Sacrifice x3
Feint x3
Timely Aid x3
Rear Guard x2

Thoughts: Once again throwing in all the Secrecy stuff given the handy threat drop. Honestly, I think all of the resource generation in this deck may be overkill, but we’ll see. Willpower boosting, chump blockers, defence, Feints, fairly standard stuff, though with a particular focus on defending the Balrog once again. Rear Guard is the one odd inclusion, and it’s there mostly because this quest also has a quest stage called The Rear Guard, so it seemed fitting. Though it may turn out to be useful, as I could see myself questing with five or six heroes on a regular enough basis with this setup for it to be actually worthwhile for the willpower boost, though it does mean the Snowbourn Scout will then be unavailable to fulfil his primary duty of chump-blocking the Balrog.


So let’s see how it goes when Rivendell marches to war on perhaps the last remaining Balrog of Morgoth still remaining in Middle Earth. Video: Shadow and Flame

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2 Responses to The Line Unbroken – 18: Shadow and Flame

  1. INK1ing says:

    Those second round shadow cards were really nasty but that Elrond/Glorfindel healing combo is a really nice one. It went so well with the Elrohir super defender strategy. None shall pass him that’s for sure.

    Second Deep is a real pain. I did this for the first time the other day and it almost ruined my strategy of sneaking past the Balrog with a Galadriel threat shut down deck (thankfully the companion Elrond chump flood deck got me through).


    • Steven A says:

      Well of course under normal circumstances the Elrond/Glorfindel combo is too resource intensive, and having the two of them in the same deck isn’t great for your starting threat, but in this instance I had Resourcefuls and starting threat was a non-issue, so it worked out nicely.


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