The Line Unbroken – G3: Stone of Erech

And here’s another GenCon quest in the form of Stone of Erech. Like Battle of Lake-Town, Stone of Erech is very challenging and defies expectations people would normally have about how the game plays out – in rather different ways this time though of course. Of course right now we anticipate that later this year we’ll be seeing the release of the Flame of the West saga expansion which will presumably cover the memorable passage through the Paths of the Dead by Aragorn and the Grey Company to seek the aid of the oathbreakers; but back in 2013 we had this as our first introduction to them – indeed the first appearance of any undead enemies in the game, which seems a far cry back now, when one or two people have complained more recently that they’re getting sick of undead and long for the days when we just fought orcs.
As with the first two GenCon quests, I have to revert my card pool a little bit to get the proper experience here, since GenCon preceded Blood of Gondor and The Morgul Vale. If I’m being really strict about it I could ban Black Riders as well since that was also first released at GenCon and so people who came to GenCon with pre-built decks couldn’t use those cards, but whether or not I go that far mostly depends on how much I want to use Black Riders cards. (Anyway, it would’ve been totally plausible for someone to take their entire collection to GenCon, get a copy of Black Riders, and then build a deck on the fly to play Erech, right? That’s my story and I’m sticking to it).

So what do I want for Stone of Erech? Tons and tons of willpower. I need willpower to quest and then I need willpower to attack the Spectral enemies as well. It bugs me that mono-Spirit is obviously a good choice for this quest for all the willpower, but I can’t do Caldara because this quest was released before she was. Never mind though. Beyond that, some location management is going to be very useful for this quest, and then there are a few specific cards I may want to guard against, the most notable of which is the Lord of the Dead – to deal with this guy, I want to either stay low threat so he doesn’t engage me, or possibly use a bunch of characters who just have good stats and don’t really depend on their text so much so blanking their text boxes won’t be such a big deal. So here’s what I’m going with:

Heroes of the Shire

Heroes:
Balin
Sam Gamgee
Merry

Allies (12):
Bill the Pony x2
Faramir x3
Erestor x2
Denethor x2
Warden of Healing x3

Attachments (23):
Steward of Gondor x3
King Under the Mountain x3
Hobbit Cloak x3
Path of Need x1
Blade of Gondolin x3
Rivendell Blade x2
Rivendell Bow x2
Fast Hitch x3
Asfaloth x3

Events (15):
A Good Harvest x3
We Are Not Idle x3
Campfire Tales x3
Feint x3
Halfling Determination x3

Thoughts: Just giving an outing to three of my campaign heroes here. Balin is obviously just generally great, for his solid ability and access to King Under the Mountain. Meanwhile Sam and Merry are great for this quest particularly, because Sam can quest with his willpower then ready to attack with his boosted willpower, and Merry can still use his ability to re-ready an attacker and give access to some useful Tactics cards, but he still has good willpower for Tactics and you don’t have to care about his attack. I’m hoping to keep damage off my heroes, making ally Denethor kind of OK, I’ve got some willpower boosting, lots of card draw, the weapons that will actually help for this quest (Gondolin for progress, Rivendell for defence reducing, Bow for Ranged), and some significant Lore cards via A Good Harvest.

Ernil I Periannath

Heroes:
Frodo Baggins
Glorfindel (Sp)
Pippin (Sp)

Allies (20):
Wandering Took x3
Northern Tracker x3
West Road Traveller x3
Arwen Undomiel x2
Silvan Refugee x3
Pelargir Shipwright x3

Attachments (15):
Hobbit Pipe x3
Light of Valinor x3
Resourceful x3
Thror’s Key x3
Good Meal x3

Events (15):
A Test of Will x3
Elrond’s Counsel x3
The Galadhrim’s Greeting x3
Out of Sight x3
Against the Shadow x3

Thoughts: Now, before you all close your browser windows in disgust, let me explain. Yes, I used Spirit Pippin. No, this doesn’t mean I’ve changed my opinion on him being the worst hero in the game. I used him because I wanted mono-Spirit, I wanted Secrecy, and I wanted to play around with Hobbit Pipes. Now I could have used Fatty Bolger instead, but he’d be one more starting threat, his ability raising my threat would work counter to the Secrecy, as useful as it could potentially be, and he would be vulnerable to the effects in this quest which target characters with less than 2 willpower.
So as I said, I wanted mono-Spirit Secrecy and Hobbit Pipes. The Pipes should provide some pretty good card draw so long as I find them. I’ve also included Wandering Tooks, because on the one hand one of them can take the third Hobbit Pipe, and on the other they’re another way of lowering my threat. Pelargir Shipwrights obviously are right at home in this deck and this quest. While I still didn’t feel it was worth it to include A Elbereth! Gilthoniel!, I did figure another oddball card I’ve never used might fit in here – Against the Shadow. Since we’re already just loading up on willpower to quest and willpower to attack, why not have the option of using it to defend as well? Against the Shadow has issues in that most of the decent willpower characters don’t have much in the way of hit points so they’re still liable to die, and why are you holding your decent willpower characters back for combat anyway? However in this case, it works with Glorfindel and Light of Valinor keeps him ready, it works with Pelargir Shipwrights, and in this quest we do want to keep some willpower allies up for combat so we don’t necessarily have to fully plan out the use of Against the Shadow in advance, we can just use it to swap some of our characters to defence instead of attack. Thror’s Key can help me with some of the nastier locations, and otherwise it’s just standard Spirit stuff, lots and lots of willpower.

RingsDB:
http://ringsdb.com/fellowship/view/1912/the-line-unbroken-the-morgul-vale
http://ringsdb.com/decklist/view/4163/the-line-unbroken-the-morgul-vale-deck-1-1.0
http://ringsdb.com/decklist/view/4164/the-line-unbroken-the-morgul-vale-deck-2-1.0

Youtube video: Stone of Erech

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