The Line Unbroken – 30: Encounter at Amon Din

Encounter at Amon Din is a quest which I like, but don’t play that much. It’s simpler than most, the special gimmick of the quest isn’t particularly involved unlike some others, the theme is nice because it’s good to feel like a hero rescuing the helpless villagers; but the flipside is that it’s one of the easiest quests in the game. The flipside to that flipside though is that by my standard rules for The Line Unbroken, I have to use the hero released in the pack, which is Spirit Pippin, probably the worst hero in the game, so I’m glad to have him forced on me for a nice easy quest.
So I want to talk about this a bit further – what exactly is the problem with Spirit Pippin? Well, for a start, there’s the fact that he literally only has an ability if you run only Hobbit heroes. Other heroes have abilities which are trait-focused, but still not as restrictive – while it’s less likely, you can play Thorin/Ori/Oin without needing both your other heroes to be Dwarves, and their abilities will just come online a bit later as you get allies out. Bombur maybe less so since is only purpose is to help you reach that threshold. Comparably, Mirlonde works best in a mono-Lore context, but even with 2 Lore heroes the reduced starting threat isn’t meaningless. The other aspect to this is then that the abilities of Thorin/Ori/Oin/Mirlonde are all universally helpful things to have, and Bombur specifically synergises with the Dwarf playstyle. By contrast, Spirit Pippin doesn’t really synergise with Hobbits and his ability is only useful in a very sharply limited number of contexts. And that number of contexts is limited even further by the fact of the all-Hobbit requirement (made worse by the fact that at the time of his release there were only 3 Hobbit heroes in the game, another respect in which Mirlonde and the Dwarves have an easier time of things) and the very specific nature of the ability. Returning things to the staging area can synergise with Dunhere, but since Dunhere isn’t a Hobbit, you have to run them in separate decks even though they sphere-match. It could also work with someone wanting to use Great Yew Bow. If it were an action like Light in the Dark rather than a response, then it could synergise with traps – play a trap then push an enemy onto it – or with the other Hobbit cards in the pack, Small Target and Hobbit-sense – engage a couple of enemies, let them hit each other with Small Target, stop them attacking with Hobbit-sense, then once you’re out of tricks push them away; effectively just giving everyone a respite from those particular enemies for a couple of rounds – but since it’s a response when the enemy engages you, these ideas simply don’t work. And then of course there’s the fact that using Pippin’s ability to push an enemy back up to the staging area stops it engaging you again that round, but it can still engage other players, so low engagement cost enemies will still mess up the Dunhere/Great Yew Bow strategies. You’d probably be better off in those contexts running a mono-Lore deck to play Advance Warning instead.
With all these factors taken into account, it seems to me that the only way Spirit Pippin’s ability can really work is as an emergency valve for a deck which quite simply intends to never be engaged with an enemy at all, ever. Having the ability to push them away means you can safely just quest all out so long as your team-mates are prepared to deal with those enemies. Which brings me to my second deck for this scenario. I could of course have gone for a Dunhere deck as described above if I wanted to make more use of Pippin, but I’ve not quite reached the point in the card pool where Dunhere has good options for weaponry, and to be honest I didn’t really care about showing off Spirit Pippin at this point. I’ve made OK use of him with a slightly more expanded card pool so it’s possible I might bring him back out at some point, though not overly likely. Anyway, instead I decided that I’d rather take the opportunity of Amon Din being an easy quest to do something which I wouldn’t feel so confident doing under more normal circumstances and just using the Hobbit deck to support it. Here it is:

Prepared for Battle

Heroes:
Boromir (Ta)
Gimli
Beorn

Allies (15):
Vassal of the Windlord x3
Trollshaw Scout x3
Defender of Rammas x3
Envoy of Pelargir x3
Gandalf (Core) x3

Attachments (17):
Book of Eldacar x3
Citadel Plate x3
Mighty Prowess x2
Gondorian Shield x3
Blade of Gondolin x3
Spear of the Citadel x3

Events (18):
Trained for War x3
Khazad! Khazad! x3
Feint x3
Thicket of Spears x3
Gondorian Discipline x3
Foe-hammer x3

Thoughts: Trained for War is an inherently problematic card, but I wanted to try and make it work. Since Amon Din only has two quest stages it seemed more workable here. The massive combat power this deck can bring to bear can help keep enemies down and other than that the main intent is to just tread water until I’m ready to make a big push with Trained for War, for which I have Trollshaw Scouts, Vassals of the Windlord, Citadel Plate to help pump up Gimli, and Khazad! Khazad! Book of Eldacar also will make it easier to get multiple uses of Trained for War. Gandalf is intended to draw cards so I can find my key pieces or lower threat if Boromir goes too crazy. Envoy of Pelargir is in because she has both willpower and attack, so she’s equally useful with or without Trained for War.

What good are three hobbits?

Heroes:
Pippin (Sp)
Frodo Baggins
Bilbo Baggins

Allies (9):
Arwen Undomiel x1
Henamarth Riversong x1
Ithilien Tracker x1
Envoy of Pelargir x3
Gleowine x3

Attachments (15):
Unexpected Courage x3
Good Meal x3
Ancient Mathom x3
Protector of Lorien x3
Steward of Gondor x3

Events (26):
A Test of Will x3
Hasty Stroke x3
Daeron’s Runes x3
The Galadhrim’s Greeting x3
Peace, and Thought x2
Ravens of the Mountain x3
Secret Paths x3
Lorien’s Wealth x3
A Good Harvest x3

Thoughts: Like I said, the prime intent is to tread water until Trained for War is ready to go, hence tons of card draw. Good Harvest/Steward and Good Meal will help me play Lorien’s Wealth to give more draw to the Tactics deck. Ravens of the Mountain can be used as part of the treading water, especially since Bilbo’s actions aren’t worth a whole lot. Protector of Lorien is also there for treading water, avoiding questing unsuccessfully, clearing locations and so on, and should work well with the amount of card draw I have available. This whole setup does however kind of make my point about how Trained for War is fairly inherently flawed as a concept, because I had to deliberately omit most of the willpower allies I could’ve potentially included in this deck lest they render Trained for War pointless.

Anyway, this is the weird setup I decided to go with, and for this easy quest, it should work.

RingsDB:
http://ringsdb.com/fellowship/view/1909/the-line-unbroken-encounter-at-amon-din
http://ringsdb.com/decklist/view/4157/the-line-unbroken-encounter-at-amon-din-deck-1-1.0
http://ringsdb.com/decklist/view/4158/the-line-unbroken-encounter-at-amon-din-deck-2-1.0

Youtube video: Encounter at Amon Din

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