The Line Unbroken – 34: Fords of Isen

So The Line Unbroken traces its way from Gondor to Rohan for the Voice of Isengard deluxe expansion. This expansion brought a few new things as well as additional development on existing ones – we obviously anticipated some development of the Rohan trait, which we didn’t really get that much beyond a few nice cards in the deluxe, as Silvans rather took over a lot of the cycle; we got interesting new quest mechanics, with the Time mechanic discouraging slow build-up control-focused strategies in favour of a more aggressive approach and the Dunland enemies hitting us where it hurts, right in the card draw; and we were promised something around the Isengard trait which happened even less than the Rohan development over the ensuing cycle though we did get a reasonable selection of powerful Doomed cards. Now of course I want to divide up my discussion of the different points between the posts for the three quests in the box, so for this one I’ll delve into the Rohan development (or lack thereof).

So Rohan. The Voice of Isengard deluxe gave us Eomer, the Westfold Outrider and Horse-breeder, and the Rohan Warhorse, which is at least Rohan associated if not a pure Rohan card. Otherwise the deluxe was more the Doomed stuff. Then we look into the cycle and we see the full development of the Silvan trait, but the only Rohan cards are Firefoot, Charge of the Rohirrim, Erkenbrand and the Warden of Helm’s Deep. Now I should qualify this by mentioning that with the exception of the more niche Charge of the Rohirrim those are all very good cards, but when the cycle goes to Rohan (even if as it turns out we don’t stay there very long) we kind of expected a bit more support for the trait, when in fact that support wouldn’t really come until the Treason of Saruman saga box.
Even now Rohan is one of the less potent traits, having the disadvantage of being based around discarding allies from play, leading to the awkward point where you don’t have much of a consistent board presence because you discarded it all and the benefits for doing so are not necessarily equal to that disadvantage which you incur as a result. I know some people swear by Gamling to recycle those allies, but when I’ve tried it I’ve mostly found that I just ended up spending all my resources playing the same allies over and over and not advancing my board state. I’ve actually done better without Gamling (I do have a Rohan deck I’ve been tinkering with that’s working out reasonably well, and I posted it on RingsDB earlier). Anyway, there’s more I could say, but I’m saving some up for a future Archetype Analysis: Rohan post.

So let’s get back to the quest I’m playing here. Fords of Isen is the first Dunlending quest, and as such the primary things I need to bear in mind are that I want to be very wary of any card draw effects, and that I want to be emptying my hand quickly and efficiently. Running without card draw also inclines me towards more powerful heroes who don’t require me to draw specific cards to make them good. With all that being said, I have found on previous plays of Fords of Isen that I don’t necessarily have to go all out on keeping my hand size down, and I can often cope regardless, just dealing with the negative effects, so I’m not sure how much I’ll put into that. Maybe just include Eowyn as one of my heroes and call it a day. She also fits the category of heroes who are powerful and effective regardless of my draw, ensuring that I’ll quest well right from the start.

The Line of Stewards

Boromir (Ld)

Allies (24):
Citadel Custodian x3
Errand-rider x3
Pelargir Ship Captain x3
Snowbourn Scout x2
Squire of the Citadel x3
Ithilien Tracker x2
Warden of Healing x3
Envoy of Pelargir x3
Gandalf (Core) x2

Attachments (13):
Steward of Gondor x3
Visionary Leadership x3
Cram x2
A Burning Brand x2
Ranger Spikes x3

Events (13):
Mutual Accord x2
Sneak Attack x3
Wealth of Gondor x2
Secret Paths x3
A Good Harvest x3

Thoughts: One of the things I didn’t get to do fully in Against the Shadow was a proper Gondor deck with Visionary Leadership, since that didn’t come until Morgul Vale. Now here it is. I’ve always quite liked playing around with the full lineup of Stewards (of course in the not too distant future I’ll be building the mono-Leadership version with the full modern card pool), and it can work pretty well. The main deference this deck makes to the anti-draw and anti-hand size nature of this quest is that if I get Steward early then I should simply be able to play a majority of the cards in my hand as I draw them. A Good Harvest obviously will help me be efficient with that, a lot of the cards are cheap, and with Errand-riders I can also ferry the resources around to where they’re needed on both sides of the table.

Oaths long spoken


Allies (21):
Gondorian Spearman x3
Guthlaf x1
Westfold Outrider x3
Eomund x2
Escort of Edoras x3
West Road Traveller x3
Westfold Horse-breeder x3
Envoy of Pelargir x3

Attachments (17):
Gondorian Fire x2
Gondorian Shield x3
Great Yew Bow x3
Rohan Warhorse x2
Blood of Numenor x2
Steed of the Mark x2
Unexpected Courage x3

Events (12):
Behind Strong Walls x3
Feint x3
A Test of Will x3
The Galadhrim’s Greeting x3

Thoughts: Mostly fairly standard I think for Spirit/Tactics Rohan. Sticking mostly to cheap cards so I can keep my hand size down. I’ve also fitted in a few more things I had to omit from my Against the Shadow decks – Gondorian Fire, Blood of Numenor and Steed of the Mark. In a general (self-imposed for reasons of the quest mechanics) absence of card draw, resources are liable to pile up to some extent, so these may come in handy. Of course the Steeds can also handily be fetched by the Westfold Horse-breeders (which doesn’t count as drawing cards so we’re safe from negative repercussions except in that it’s another card in hand). Eleanor is here mostly because she’s Gondorian, but she’s also a decent defender and gives me access to treachery cancellation regardless of what cards I’m drawing, which is again relevant in the absence of card draw effects. I’ve also finally fitted in the Great Yew Bow for Faramir. I’m not sure how well I’ll do at staying below engagement costs to make use of it, but I think I stand OK chances.


Youtube video: Fords of Isen

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2 Responses to The Line Unbroken – 34: Fords of Isen

  1. INK1ing says:

    I tried this for the first time last night but got stuck with two Evil Tidings so got stuck with waves of enemies on the last quest stage. I could handle them but they just kept on coming and I ended up threating out.

    Cool to see Leadership Boromir divvying out the wealth of Gondor to his neighbours in Rohan. Very thematic!


    • PocketWraith says:

      Yeah, Ill Tidings is a pretty harsh card in the context of all the Dunland hand size hate. I was fortunate that I never got it and was able to just keep mmy hands more or less empty most of the time.


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