The Line Unbroken – 33: The Morgul Vale

So we’ve arrived at the end of the Against the Shadow cycle, Faramir has been captured, Lord Alcaron has proven to be a traitorous turncoat, stakes are high and we’re ending on a high note. This quest can be a rather difficult one, but it is also a lot of fun (aside from those one or two big swing cards as I mentioned in the Blood of Gondor post). My only gripe coming into it is that I really would like to use hero Faramir here, but he’s specifically banned for reasons of the story of this quest. I’d probably pick this as the best cycle-ender up to this point, since Return to Mirkwood has weird scaling with the Gollum threat raise, while Shadow and Flame has unfortunate issues with being breakable, though it is a very good quest if you disregard those mechanic-exploiting options. Like Shadow and Flame, Morgul Vale is also a boss fight quest, but where SaF has the one boss which cannot be killed until the final stage of the quest, and you need to quest through to that point, Morgul Vale gives us a succession of three bosses, and the only questing requirement is that you probably don’t want to end up raising your threat by questing unsuccessfully while you advance by killing the bosses.

The player cards in this pack are another mixed bag. Tactics Theoden has received a lot of flak, though I would say he is very definitely not as bad as people would say he is; however I will admit I’m not exactly enthused and hyped about the fact I have to use an arguably somewhat sub-par hero for this challenging quest (though he may actually work out kind of OK). The other cards are interesting, especially Hidden Cache, but the only ones which really stand out as providing a noticeable level of power are Hidden Cache for the dwarven mining mechanic, Visionary Leadership allowing Gondor decks to quest as well as combat, and Spear of the Mark for Dunhere decks.

So what do I want to do for this quest? Well, I tend to find that the way this quest plays is that you start out with a few rounds of getting yourself setup and prepared to fight Murzag, then as soon as you start fighting Murzag you then go into kind of a cascade where at that point you want to go as fast as possible. Certainly you want to kill Lord Alcaron absolutely as quickly as you possibly can. The Nazgul of Minas Morgul inevitably has a bit of a choke on your fast pace unless you bring some direct damage effects to compensate and get that kill done quickly. That said, I’m taking a somewhat unconventional approach here, though one which is proven to work for this quest, at least in solo, and I think I can get it to work two handed as well. That approach is Dunhere. This pack gave us the Spear of the Mark, and keeping the enemies up in the staging area means I don’t have to deal with their attacks, or indeed the nasty effects when they attack. Now realistically obviously I’m not going to be staying below the engagement costs of Lord Alcaron and the Nazgul, but to deal with that, enter my second deck. This will in fact be the third time this cycle that I’ve run a mono-Lore deck, but this time in order to enable Dunhere, I’m finally going to actually use the mono-Lore event, Advance Warning (this is why I would really like to have Faramir available as one of my Lore heroes, I could also take this as my opportunity to make use of the Great Yew Bow, but as it is I guess that’ll have to wait). So here’s what I actually have decided to go with:

Ride Down the Vale


Allies (17):
Bofur (Ta) x3
Gondorian Spearman x3
Vassal of the Windlord x3
Arwen Undomiel x2
Silvan Refugee x3
West Road Traveller x3

Attachments (17):
Dagger of Westernesse x3
Mighty Prowess x2
Spear of the Citadel x2
Spear of the Mark x3
Unexpected Courage x3
Song of Battle x2
Song of Travel x2

Events (16):
Feint x3
Foe-hammer x3
Quick Strike x3
Rain of Arrows x2
Stand Together x2
A Test of Will x3

Thoughts: So as I said, obviously Theoden was forced on me for this game by my self-imposed rules. But let’s talk about why he’s not actually so bad to have – he provides good early-game willpower. If I’m focusing on the Dunhere strategy I won’t need the combat stats on my Tactics heroes so much, if the game goes on to a point where I do need them I can get Unexpected Courages out. And while obviously I’d have an easier time getting willpower from just Spirit, the Tactics stuff is really important for this rather combat-focused quest, so being able to have decent willpower while having a high proportion of Tactics for the direct damage and stuff. The only downside is the high threat meaning my dependence on Advance Warning will come in sooner than I’d like.
So Spear of the Mark is obvious, as is Dagger of Westernesse, and Bofur and Foe-hammer are simple enough choices. I also have some direct damage stuff, which can be another way to avoid the more problematic bits of combat (defending, shadow cards), and in particular is super-useful for handling the Nazgul of Minas Morgul at the end, thus this is the point I finally slot in Rain of Arrows (with Vassals of the Windlord), as well as including Gondorian Spearman, Spear of the Citadel, Mighty Prowess and Stand Together for my favourite direct damage tactic, the Spearman swarm.

Dwarves and Rangers


Allies (15):
Erebor Hammersmith x3
Erebor Record Keeper x3
Ered-Nimrais Prospector x3
Ithilien Archer x3
Ithilien Tracker x2
Warden of Healing x2

Attachments (18):
Steward of Gondor x3
Legacy of Durin x3
Poisoned Stakes x3
Protector of Lorien x3
Ranger Bow x3
Scroll of Isildur x3

Events (16):
Advance Warning x3
Daeron’s Runes x3
Gildor’s Counsel x2
Mithrandir’s Advice x3
Secret Paths x2
A Good Harvest x3

Thoughts: The mono-Lore Dwarf deck is actually an idea I’ve played around with before, and when I realised that the Faramir/Great Yew Bow was automatically off the table I found that this actually was a pretty good selection of Lore heroes, who I mostly hadn’t used for this cycle. I’m only one dwarf away from hitting 5 and getting the extra card draw from Ori, and drawing fast is really crucial to making this whole strategy work – I need to make sure I find my copies of Advance Warning and Scroll of Isildur (to recycle Advance Warning). Besides that, this approach is potentially resource-intensive, so since I have no Leadership on the board, I’m OK with throwing in Good Harvest+Steward. More card draw, a couple of events to manage my questing, dwarves obviously. And then direct damage from Ranger Bow (with attendant Rangers) and Poisoned Stakes. Finally Protector of Lorien can also help a lot with managing my questing, especially with the amount of card draw I have.


Youtube video: The Morgul Vale

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2 Responses to The Line Unbroken – 33: The Morgul Vale

  1. INK1ing says:

    Wow, barely a scratch. The triple Protector of Lorien at the end was really something and seeing the Nazgul destroyed by clearing a location made it an even stranger finish! Really enjoyed this one.

    I have struggled with this quest. Enemies are tough but you still need to quest fairly strongly with that 4/5 threat enemy/location. I will beat it one day.


    • PocketWraith says:

      Yeah it’s difficult. Handily the Advance Warning strategy I used was handy in that it meant I didn’t have to be too bothered if I quested unsuccessfully because I could stop the enemies engaging me anyway. Just so long as I didn’t threat out.
      I’ve been starting to wonder if I should try less hard to really optimise my decks against the particular quest, it’s less interesting when I win this easily…


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