The Line Unbroken – 28: The Steward’s Fear

And now back we come to Gondor for the Against the Shadow cycle of adventure packs, starting with The Steward’s Fear. The Steward’s Fear is one of my favourite quests in the game and generally is a very popular one – the Underworld mechanic placing enemies in locations so you have to fight them only when you explore the location being rather thematic, the random selection of plot and villain giving great replay value, and the whole thing generally being nice and challenging without feeling unfair.
Player-card-wise, however, The Steward’s Fear is the Outlands box. It definitely loses points for that in my book, though the Gondorian Shield and Mithrandir’s Advice certainly make up for quite a bit. But obviously I have to address this – I don’t particularly like Outlands. I usually refuse to use them. I don’t particularly like the thematic idea that a ragtag collection of people from the outer areas of Gondor can turn into an army of Gandalfs, and while I’ll grant that other decks can reach similar levels of power, those other decks tend to feel more like they’re doing something to earn that power. Outlands just play allies and the power appears. They’re the epitome of LotR as a complete numbers game – pick an arbitrary number of allies to quest with, you win, defend, you’re fine, attack with everyone that’s left, it’s dead – all very mechanical with little or no finesse, and little or no tension because your numbers are too high. The only tension and uncertainty, in most cases, is the question of whether or not you get the army up and running fast enough. You can lose in the early game, but if you get rolling, you pretty much just brute force smash your way through everything. I only play Outlands when I want to feel overpowered, and observe how ludicrous they can be, because that’s the only appeal they hold for me.
I will add on the end here that I realise other people don’t feel the same way. If you enjoy playing Outlands, then fair enough, more power to you. But I don’t find them fun. I find them some mixture of boring and ridiculous, and as such generally refuse even to use small pockets of Outlands in otherwise normal decks, which I know some people do.

So, with that all said, per the rules of The Line Unbroken, I have to use Hirluin the Fair for this quest, which means I have to play Outlands here to benefit from his ability. So I figured, if I’m going to do Outlands, I may as well go all out on it, and build a deck in which basically everything is focused on getting the Outlands out. Draw cards, gain resources, play Outlands, and nothing else (except Sneak Attack Gandalf and a couple of healers). While the second deck is just there to handle some of the combat needs and to cover the early game before the Outlands come fully online:

The Muster of the Outlands

Hirluin the Fair
Bilbo Baggins

Allies (22):
Warrior of Lossarnach x3
Knights of the Swan x3
Ethir Swordsman x3
Anfalas Herdsman x3
Hunter of Lamedon x3
Gandalf (Core) x2
Envoy of Pelargir x3
Warden of Healing x2

Attachments (3):
Steward of Gondor x3

Events (25):
We Are Not Idle x3
Mithrandir’s Advice x3
Daeron’s Runes x3
Peace, and Thought x3
Wealth of Gondor x2
Gaining Strength x2
Sneak Attack x3
A Very Good Tale x3
A Good Harvest x3

Thoughts: Like I said. Super-focused. To be honest if it wasn’t for the presence of direct damage from A Knife in the Back, Zealous Traitor and the Umbar Assassin in this quest I’d probably cut the Wardens for a third copy each of Wealth of Gondor and Gaining Strength. Those are cards which generally I don’t use so much, but with the amount of card draw I’ve stuffed in here they’re well worth it. With Bilbo and since I will immediately exhaust Beravor, this deck will effectively have an opening hand of 10 cards, many of which will draw me more cards, so I’m liable to get the Outlands out very fast. Peace and Thought finds a nice place here, since Bilbo’s actions aren’t worth much, and until I get some Outlands allies out, neither are Hirluin’s. A Good Harvest allows the other two heroes to pay for the Outlands, and also allow them to pay for Steward of Gondor so I can potentially get it round 1. Of course I’m completely sacrificing any semblance of early game presence I might have had, but that’s what the second deck is for.

The Ubiquitous Three


Allies (13):
Defender of Rammas x3
Arwen Undomiel x3
Elfhelm x1
Envoy of Pelargir x3
Gandalf (Core) x3

Attachments (13):
Black Arrow x1
Gondorian Shield x3
Rivendell Blade x3
Ancient Mathom x3
Unexpected Courage x3

Events (24):
Feint x3
A Test of Will x3
Hasty Stroke x3
Dwarven Tomb x3
Foe-hammer x3
Hand Upon the Bow x3
Will of the West x3
A Good Harvest x3

Thoughts: The name is of course because Beregond, Legolas and Eowyn are pretty much the stock choices for defending, attacking and questing hero respectively. This deck is basically completely designed to do everything the Outlands can’t. It covers the main aspects of the game well out of the gate to cover the early game. It has some more card draw, some of which can be shared if the Outlands deck somehow needs more. Hands Upon the Bow can kill off Zealous Traitors in the staging area before they deal their direct damage. Test of Will and Hasty Stroke can prevent me getting wrecked by horrible treacheries and shadows, and Dwarven Tomb lets me recycle them for added security. Finally Will of the West is in to guard against the plot which eliminates a player if they have no cards in their deck, as the first deck would be very likely to fall prey to that. I considered threat reduction to counter the threat-raising plot, but figured I’ll probably win fast enough that it won’t be an issue. And I still have Gandalf on both sides in any case, plus the single copy of Elfhelm on this side if I draw it. Unexpected Courage is potentially key to get multiple defences out of Beregond, since multiple enemies can come out at once via the Underworld mechanic – I considered using Boromir instead of Beregond for immediately available readying, but then I would’ve been more dependent on getting Arwen into play to give him Sentinel.


Youtube video: The Steward’s Fear

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2 Responses to The Line Unbroken – 28: The Steward’s Fear

  1. INK1ing says:

    I really like this quest too. The way it handles locations is very interesting and I love how the pace changes as the quest progresses. I do find it can run a little long though.


    • Steven A says:

      Yeah, there is that about it. If you don’t get the clues then you have to get through 8 active locations to reach stage 3, so minimum 9 rounds for the whole game. And then it’s possible to get rounds without new locations, especially if you play solo. Still way up on my favourites list though.

      Liked by 1 person

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