The Line Unbroken – 27: Battle of Five Armies

And so we come to the end of the Hobbit saga. It’s been a bumpy ride, some good some bad. I mentioned in the Flies and Spiders post that the player cards in this box were a bit more of a mixed bag, so I thought I’d go over that thought briefly. The allies are great though obviously Dwarf-centric, as is To me! O my kinsfolk! King Under the Mountain of course is phenomenal card draw. But all the other cards are either very limited in where they can be used effectively, or require some serious building around to make them work consistently.
The other thing I said was that I enjoy the quests in this box much more than those in Over Hill and Under Hill. Between the gimmicky nature of the trolls, Wind-Whipped Rain, Riddles and so on, the OHaUH quests do little to recommend themselves to me. On the other hand, although Burgle tests are a gimmick, they’re much more palatable than Riddles, while the other two quests are much more standard, and have less maddening encounter cards to my mind. Battle of Five Armies in particular is a very popular quest among some members of this community. I certainly think it’s a very good quest, though I’ve never entirely understood the level of appeal it clearly has for some players, who would vote for it as one of the best quests in the entire game.

One obvious thing Battle of Five Armies has going for it is that the nature of it, with regular, Battle, and Siege questing all being required, makes it one of those quests that challenges you in every area. And it really does challenge you. The fact the three different quest stages are all simultaneously in play also makes for interesting strategic decisions as to which you do first, based both on what form of questing you’re best at and also on which negative effect from the quest stage having no progress you most want to get rid of. So these are the things I have to be ready for in building decks for it. The other point is that this quest does rather swarm you with enemies.
I mentioned in previous posts that I was considering going outside the usual Line Unbroken rules for this quest. While for The Lonely Mountain it was a question of omitting two heroes because their abilities were useless for that particular quest, in this case I was considering actually adding in more, and stepping up from two-handed to three. This would’ve been for thematic reasons – of course I’d have the 4 heroes from this box, I wanted Thorin because it’s one of his big moments, thematically speaking Dain should also be there, and Beorn also significantly turns up, and oh look I’m up to 7 heroes. I would’ve probably gone to the three-handed idea if my other thoughts hadn’t worked out as well, but I think I’ve come up with a decent two-handed version. No Dain, because I like making things more difficult for myself, and no Beorn, because I realised that particular thematic consideration could be satisfied equally well by using the ally version, possibly with Sneak Attack (indeed possibly better since he’s supposed to only turn up towards the end, and smash through everything after Thorin goes down). So here we go:

The King has come unto his Hall

Thorin Oakenshield

Allies (21):
Fili x1
Kili x1
Longbeard Elder x3
Longbeard Orc-Slayer x3
Bifur x1
Dori x1
Erebor Hammersmith x2
Erebor Record-Keeper x3
Gandalf (Core) x2
Beorn x1
Warden of Healing x2

Attachments (12):
King Under the Mountain x3
Legacy of Durin x3
Steward of Gondor x3
A Burning Brand x3

Events (17):
Lure of Moria x3
To Me! O My Kinsfolk! x2
We Are Not Idle x3
Sneak Attack x3
Daeron’s Runes x3
Expecting Mischief x3

Thoughts: Expecting Mischief is a card I’ve never actually used before, but given the general preponderance of enemies in this encounter deck, some of them with fairly low hit point values, it’s a good fit here. In general, a big part of my solution to the swarms of goblins, especially early on when I’ll have less characters available for combat, is to simply try and kill them off with direct damage before they have a chance to hit me. That’s also the big reason for the Orc-Slayers, who can potentially be Sneak Attacked in to spread some damage around. Otherwise, I just threw in the standard lots of Dwarves, and cards that work with Dwarves.

To the mountain!

Bard the Bowman

Allies (23):
Erebor Battle Master x3
Veteran Axehand x3
Bofur (Sp) x1
Dwalin x1
Zigil Miner x3
Beorn x1
Eagles of the Misty Mountains x3
Vassal of the Windlord x3
Winged Guardian x3
Arwen Undomiel x2

Attachments (10):
Ring Mail x3
Horn of Gondor x2
Support of the Eagles x2
Unexpected Courage x3

Events (17):
Feint x3
Foe-hammer x3
Goblin-cleaver x3
Straight Shot x2
The Eagles Are Coming! x3
A Test of Will x3

Thoughts: Including Thalin really makes the whole direct damage approach work here. He kills the bats by himself, and combined with Expecting Mischief, 15 of the 23 enemies in the encounter deck will die instantly. And on top of that I have Goblin-cleaver as well, once again making use of the treasure cards to trigger the “exhaust a weapon” events without including any normal weapons in the deck. Given the limited number of Tactics and Spirit Dwarves available, I can’t really guarantee that Oin will get his ability, especially since I’m starting from only two, but the chances are still reasonable. Other than that, Eagles are obviously thematic, they’re good for Battle and Siege questing, Support of the Eagles can get me some crazy values, and they would have worked well with the Horn of Gondor when I built the deck, though not so much since the errata happened in the interim – but, spoilers, I never actually draw the Horn in the playthrough so it doesn’t matter.


Youtube video:
Battle of Five Armies

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