Forum Challenge #3

Forum challenge #3, as I mentioned last time, was to beat Battle for Lake-Town using only heroes of 8 threat or less. As a sidenote, I did this a while ago, not quite before the challenge ended, but close afterwards, it just took me a while to get to writing it up.
So. Lake-Town is still a very difficult quest, so going for exclusively low threat heroes is not an approach which naturally springs to mind. It was a while before anything really occurred to me for how to go about it. 8 threat is a handy number for ruling out options, as a couple of my thoughts were Eowyn and Galadriel, both of whom fall at 9 threat, just out of reach. An advantage of low threat heroes is a low starting threat, which does of course allow one to avoid engaging Smaug for a while, but then of course you have to keep questing past him, and you still need to defend against Smaug the Mighty. All the same, in a low threat solo context I feel like focusing on the questing side is the way to go. Options for strong defenders in this low threat exist, but they’re liable to leave you lacking willpower out of the gate, which is not a great idea in solo. Multiplayer you can rely on other decks, but solo you have to do it yourself, and the need for high willpower in this quest is not something you can get around, whereas your need for good defence can be minimised more easily by just not engaging the dragon for a while. What I’m liable to struggle with is gathering attack power for the kill at the end, but there’s no way around that, best to focus down the willpower.
So, the best defender I can really get at 8 threat or less is of course Frodo Baggins. And starting at a maximum of 24 threat, I’ll have a fair amount of threat to play around with for his ability. Beyond that, the important thing is willpower, so it’s time to bring out Glorfindel, and for my third hero I thought I’d go with a new one who I haven’t really used yet – Rossiel. Obviously this won’t be a standard Rossiel deck, but it doesn’t need to be – since every single location in this quest has the Lake-Town trait and victory points, as soon as I explore one, she’ll be 4 willpower for the rest of the game so long as there’s an active location. Onto the full build:

The Deck

Heroes:
Rossiel
Frodo Baggins
Glorfindel (Sp)

Allies (21):
Arwen Undomiel x2
Galadhrim Minstrel x3
Galadriel’s Handmaiden x3
Quickbeam x1
Warden of Healing x2
Hama x1
Northern Tracker x2
Treebeard x2
Gandalf (OhaUH) x2
Wandering Ent x3

Attachments (15):
Ancient Mathom x3
Fast Hitch x2
Light of Valinor x3
Song of Wisdom x3
A Burning Brand x2
Asfaloth x2

Events (14):
Daeron’s Runes x3
Deep Knowledge x3
Elrond’s Counsel x3
A Test of Will x3
Dwarven Tomb x2

Play-session report

OK, this is actually the second time I’ve done this one, not because I failed the first time, but because when I cam to write it up the first time I discovered a few mistakes I’d made, like “Oh, here I forgot that Rossiel doesn’t get her willpower boost when there’s no active location,” and “Oh, here I just forgot to do staging, I revealed Smaug and then skipped straight to quest resolution.” So I figured I’d better just try again and do it properly this time.

Setup
Opening hand: Galadhrim Minstrel, Northern Tracker, Deep Knowledge, Light of Valinor, Deep Knowledge, Treebeard.

A good start. I have Light of Valinor, which obviously is key, Treebeard is really good, and between two copies of Deep Knowledge and the Minstrel I can speed up my start and hopefully find a copy of A Test of Will, which is the other key piece I need. The Tracker’s not so great – as I realised on the first play-through, Northern Trackers are a lot less important in solo, as there are less locations to manage.

Encounter setup: Fisherman’s Dock.

Round 1
Resource: 1/1/1, Elrond’s Counsel.

Planning: Deep Knowledge x2, threat 24, I draw Galadriel’s Handmaiden, Galadhrim Minstrel, Asfaloth, Elrond’s Counsel. Light of Valinor on Glorfindel.

Quest:
Smaug the Mighty is revealed from the Smaug deck. Rough start, he makes an immediate attack and he’s the highest threat version of Smaug. Under the circumstances, I need all the willpower I can get, so I take the attack undefended on Frodo. Shadow does nothing, threat 29.
Glorfindel + Rossiel + Frodo = 7 Willpower.
Fisherman’s Dock + Smaug the Mighty = 9 Threat.
Staging – Reckless in his Rage (+2 to Smaug). I play Elrond’s Counsel x2, threat 23, +2 willpower.
9 – 11 = -2, threat 25.

Travel: Fisherman’s Dock.

Refresh: 0 VP, 1 damage on Lake-Town, threat 26.

Not the most auspicious of beginnings, but I was expecting the first round to be not so great. On the plus side, the staging area is empty other than Smaug, so if I can start getting some more willpower out I should get a handle on this.

Round 2
Resource: 2/1/2, Daeron’s Runes.

Planning: Asfaloth on Glorfindel, Galadriel’s Handmaiden, threat 25.

Quest:
Smaug the Magnificent. When revealed does nothing and he’s the lowest threat Smaug, so this is good.
Glorfindel + Rossiel + Frodo + Handmaiden = 9 Willpower.
Smaug the Magnificent = 5 Threat.
Staging – North Pier (+2). I use Asfaloth to clear the North Pier (-2, +2 willpower to Rossiel, 2 VP).
11 – 5 = 6 Progress, clearing Fisherman’s Dock and putting 4 on the quest.
Terror from the Mountain – 4/14.

Refresh: 4 VP, 1 damage, threat 26.

Rossiel’s boost is online (when I have an active location anyway) and my willpower is making its way onto the table so all looks good right now.

Round 3
Resource: 1/1/2, Quickbeam.

Planning: Treebeard.

Quest:
Smaug the Terrible. There is no Burn damage in play.
Glorfindel + Rossiel + Frodo + Handmaiden = 9 Willpower.
Smaug the Terrible = 6 Threat.
Staging – Catching Fire (-2 VP).
9 – 6 = 3 Progress.
Terror from the Mountain – 7/14.

Refresh: 2 VP, 1 damage, threat 27.

Round 4
Resource: 1/1/1/1, Dwarven Tomb.

Planning: Quickbeam, readied with a damage.

Quest:
Smaug the Magnificent.
Glorfindel + Frodo + Rossiel + Quickbeam + Treebeard + Handmaiden = 13 Willpower.
Smaug the Magnificent = 5 Threat.
Staging – Town-Baiting (Smaug attacks Lake-Town dealing 8 damage).
13 – 5 = 8 Progress, completing stage 1.
Fire and Water – 0/10.

Refresh: 2 VP, 9 damage, threat 28.

Round 5
Resource: 1/2/2/1, Arwen Undomiel.

Planning: Arwen.

Quest:
Smaug the Magnificent.
Glorfindel + Frodo + Rossiel + Treebeard + Quickbeam + Arwen + Handmaiden = 15 Willpower.
Smaug the Magnificent = 5 Threat.
Staging – Fisherman’s Dock, which I immediately clear with Asfaloth (+2 VP).
15 – 5 = 10 Progress, 1 on the quest and removing the 9 damage from Lake-Town.
Fire and Water – 1/10.

Refresh: 4 VP, 0 damage, threat 29.

Round 6
Resource: 2/1/3/2, Song of Wisdom.

Planning: Galadhrim Minstrel, pulling out A Test of Will, Song of Wisdom on Frodo.

Quest:
Smaug the Terrible.
Glorfindel + Rossiel + Quickbeam + Arwen + Handmaiden + Minstrel = 12 Threat.
Smaug the Terrible = 6 Threat.
Staging – Esgaroth Wharf (+3).
12 – 9 = 3 Progress.
Fire and Water – 4/10.

Travel: Esgaroth Wharf.

Refresh: 4 VP, 0 damage, threat 30.

After the round 1 Smaug the Mighty, I’ve been fortunate enough not to see him again for 5 rounds, which has made the quest fairly simple and mechanical. Commit willpower, reveal cards, make progress. Nothing else required. My only concern has been the lack of Test of Will, which I just found thanks to the Minstrel.

Round 7
Resource: 1/2/3/3, A Test of Will.

Planning: Galadhrim Minstrel, pulling out Elrond’s Counsel.

Quest:
Smaug the Mighty, immediate attack defended by Treebeard to spare my threat. 2 damage.
Glorfindel + Rossiel (+2) + Arwen + Handmaiden + Minstrel x2 = 13 Willpower.
Smaug the Mighty = 7 Threat.
Staging – Great House (+6, resolve the Burn 1 on Esgaroth Wharf). I play Elrond’s Counsel, threat 27, +1 wp.
14 – 13 = 1 Progress.
Esgaroth Wharf – 1/4
Fire and Water – 4/10.

Refresh: 4 VP, 1 damage, threat 28.

At this point I’m not necessarily questing at full strength, because the chances of Smaug the Mighty are high, and I’d rather they were less high before I start engaging Smaug and push through onto stage 3. Getting some more attack power onto the table before that would also be good. On the other hand I wasn’t expecting the sudden influx of 6 threat so I’ll probably want to quest a bit harder next round.

Round 8
Resource: 1/2/4/4, Song of Wisdom.

Planning: Daeron’s Runes draws Fast Hitch and Warden of Healing, discards Song of Wisdom. Northern Tracker, Fast Hitch.

Quest:
Smaug the Terrible. I was hoping for Mighty, so next round it’d be guaranteed not Mighty, but never mind.
Glorfindel + Frodo + Rossiel (+2) + Treebeard + Quickbeam + Arwen + Handmaiden + Minstrel x2 + Tracker = 20 Willpower.
Great House + Smaug the Terrible = 12 Threat.
Staging – The Master’s Manor (+4).
20 – 16 = 4 Progress, clearing Esgaroth Wharf (+4 VP) and removing the 1 damage from Lake-Town.
Fire and Water – 4/10.

Travel: Great House. I use Asfaloth on The Master’s Manor (2/8).

Refresh: 8 VP, 0 damage, threat 29.

Round 9
Resource: 1/3/1/5, Northern Tracker.

Planning: Nothing. I don’t want to use up all my Spirit resources on a second Tracker, the Warden isn’t important until I take some more damage, and the rest is events.

Quest:
Smaug the Mighty, defended by Frodo, threat 32. A plus here is that I now reshuffle the Smaug deck without this copy of Smaug the Mighty, meaning I have only 1/4 chance of Smaug the Mighty this time through instead of 1/3.
Glorfindel + Frodo + Rossiel (+2) + Treebeard + Quickbeam + Arwen + Handmaiden + Minstrel x2 + Tracker (1 progress on The Master’s Manor, 3/8) = 20 Willpower.
The Master’s Manor + Smaug the Mighty = 11 Threat.
Staging – Scorching Blast (6 burn damage to Lake-Town). I use Asfaloth on Great House (2/6).
20 – 11 = 9 Progress, clearing Great House (+6 VP) and removing 5 damage from Lake-Town.
Fire and Water – 4/10.

Travel: The Master’s Manor.

Refresh: 14 VP, 1 damage, threat 33.

With the Smaug deck reshuffled and reduced chance of Mighty, now is the time I want to progress.

Round 10
Resource: 2/4/2/6, Wandering Ent.

Planning: Wandering Ent, Northern Tracker.

Quest:
I take Smaug the Magnificent engaged with me, as I intend to push through and attack him this round.
Glorfindel + Frodo + Rossiel (+2) + Arwen (+1 def to Frodo) + Handmaiden + Minstrel x2 = 15 Willpower.
0 Threat.
Staging – Great Bridge (+3, discards Light of Valinor from my deck)
15 – 3 = 12 Progress, the perfect amount, clearing The Master’s Manor (+8 VP), removing the 1 damage from Lake-Town and advancing the quest to stage 3. Now I just have to kill the dragon.

Travel: Great Bridge. Asfaloth Great Bridge.

Combat:
Frodo defends, having readied with Fast Hitch. 8 attack minus 3 defence means my threat goes up to 38, and the shadow resolves burn damage, putting 2 damage on Lake-Town.
Treebeard readies the Wandering Ent and then I attack with everyone who’s still ready:
Glorfindel + Treebeard + Quickbeam + Tracker x2 + Wandering Ent = 16 attack
16 – 8 = 8 damage to Smaug.

Refresh: 22 VP, 2 damage, threat 39.

It looks like everything’s set. It may take another couple of hits, especially if Smaug the Magnificent heals up a bit, but I feel like I’ve basically won at this point and I just need to play it out.

Round 11
Resource: 1/3/1/5, Gandalf.

Planning: Gandalf. The Grey Wizard has turned up just in time for the victory.

Quest:
Smaug the Mighty engaged with me. His shadow is Close to the Flame, which kills my Silvan allies. After all the time I’ve been worrying about getting A Test of Will into my hand, it happens as a shadow effect and my events are useless. Threat 42.
Glorfindel + Gandalf + Arwen (+1 def to Frodo) + Wandering Ent = 11 Willpower.
0 Threat.
Staging – Esgaroth Wharf (+3), Esgaroth Wharf (+3).
11 – 6 = 5 Progress, clearing Great Bridge (+4 VP).

Combat:
Frodo defends, threat 44. Treebeard readies the Wandering Ent.
Glorfindel + Rossiel + Treebeard + Quickbeam + Gandalf + Tracker x2 + Wandering Ent = 21 Attack.
21 – 9 = 12 damage, which is exactly enough to kill Smaug.
26 victory points to 2 damage on Lake-Town, so I win.

10 completed rounds = 100
Total combined Threat = 44
Total damage on Heroes = 3
Cost of dead Heroes = 0
Victory points = 26
TOTAL SCORE = 121

Other than Close to the Flame happening as a shadow instead of a treachery (and me not having A Burning Brand on Frodo), everything basically worked out as it was supposed to in that game. Frodo is a fantastic solution to Smaug, especially when restricted to low threat, and especially for solo, since he also has willpower and in solo you only need to defend Smaug the Mighty once. Rossiel worked out nicely. Overall I was struck by the fact that I didn’t find this particularly interesting, but that’s really just in the nature of combining Lake-Town with solo play and the low threat approach. There’s only the one enemy, which I guaranteeably don’t have to engage for a while, only one staging card each round… things get pretty simple, and the interest lies more in the deck-building than the actual gameplay.

Regardless, I have triumphed once again, but I have also fallen behind once again. On the other hand the challenges seem to have stopped coming, though there is other stuff. Anyway, continuing to try and catch up I’m going to attempt Legolas18’s forum challenge #4 before moving onto Seastan’s Random Walk to Mordor. Check out both these things on the forums and maybe have a go yourself!

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