The Line Unbroken – F8: Hunting of the Wolf

Coming to the end of the First Age set, the third quest is Hunting of the Wolf, wherein we have to hunt down Carcharoth to get the Silmaril back from him (not to mention Beren’s hand which got bitten off with it). Unlike the usual (though not universal) trend in official deluxe boxes for the quests to build towards a climax of both narrative and difficulty in the third quest, I would say the real peak of the First Age in both those aspects is Seat of Morgoth, while Hunting of the Wolf is more of a denouement in terms of the story. The difficulty level could be debated, and to be fair, I didn’t have much difficulty with Seat of Morgoth in my playthrough, but I got kind of lucky.

Regardless of views on difficulty, there certainly are a couple of respects in which the three quests do follow a distinct upward trend which peaks for Hunting of the Wolf. Firstly their tendency to imitate and adapt existing quests, and secondly their divergence from the normal, ‘vanilla’ gameplay. Isle of Werewolves, other than the whole captured hero element slightly echoing Escape from Dol Guldur and the Pit area Dungeons Deep and Caverns Dim, is pretty much just a standard quest. Seat of Morgoth has the Sneak keyword but more significantly the threat drop at the start of the quest, like that in Shadow and Flame, puts it decidedly outside the norm in terms of how a given deck will play against it. But Hunting of the Wolf really takes the cake in this regard because it is to a great extent a reimagined version of Battle of Lake Town, with all the attendant issues that creates of screwing up decks which focus on their ability to handle enemies.

Before moving onto Hunting of the Wolf itself, I just want to make a brief aside here that the divergent nature of the First Age quests has on occasion when I’ve helped Ian with playtesting for the expansions in the Doom Mastered cycle – just like when testing a regular deck to see if it works, when playtesting new player cards I like to throw them against a more generic quest so I can see how they function under a variety of conditions (and I like to take them away from the new scenario being tested since that’s subject to change rather than being a definite and finalised challenge). But Isle of Werewolves would have me swap a hero out, Seat of Morgoth gives no useful sense of how a deck can manage its threat, and Hunting of the Wolf has an unusual encounter deck makeup plus it neuters a lot of enemy related tricks. Thankfully when Trial Upon the Marches was released it took the title in my opinion of the most well rounded and vanilla First Age quest and thus solved that issue for me going forward. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

So Hunting of the Wolf. As I said, it draws a lot on Battle of Lake Town. There’s the separate Carcharoth deck with three different versions of him, with a new one brought out every quest phase (though in a slight distinction, Carcharoth comes out after committing to the quest whereas Smaug was before), and there’s the idea that he’s destroying the place you’re in, with the total destruction being you loss condition. This is done differently, with Carcharoth attacking individual locations and placing damage on the quest when he destroys them rather than the amalgam of Lake Town as an objective, but the principle remains much the same.
When I planned out my decks for the First Age quests to make sure I used each of the 15 heroes at least once, this quest was my biggest guiding factor in who went where, because so many of the heroes don’t function so well in this quest. A quick run-down – Leadership comes out fine, Feanor and Turin are fine, Turgon and Idril are fine, but there are varying levels of question mark over all the others. Cirdan’s healing is unlikely to be much use here as there won’t be a lot of cause to take damage without immediately dying; Thingol will be unlikely to draw from the Menegroth deck for most of the game because there’s only one enemy and you can’t engage him naturally to start with; Hurin and Haleth power up for engaged enemies which you won’t have; the initial three Carcharoths are immune to player card effects which messes up Luthien, Ecthelion and Fingolfin (while Carcharoth the Tormented cannot leave play which messes with Luthien again and it’s unlikely Ecthelion will do enough damage on his own to get a one-hit kill so you probably still want to disregard his ability); and Earendil will fall foul of the fact the encounter deck is 50% treacheries. So this left me with some slimmer pickings for which heroes to use. If you’ve been paying attention (or if you look back at the last couple of Line Unbroken posts) you’ll note the First Age heroes I haven’t used yet are Fingon, Feanor and Turin (and Turgon, because sticking him in a pit doesn’t really count). So all of them are in. Despite the fact the quest screws with their abilities, I still want a Spirit hero just for the sphere, so I may as well take Luthien for the 5 willpower. And then I figured bring back Idril again since I’ll be intending to chump-block Carcharoth the Devouring Spirit a few times, plus she gets me 3 willpower for 7 threat. No Tactics, but then there won’t be that much combat so I should be able to manage without.

Ours Shall be the Mastery

Heroes:
Feanor
Turin Turambar
Luthien

Allies (22):
Melian x3
Eol x3
Celegorm x3
Caranthir x3
Beor x3
Finduilas x3
Maedhros x1
Maglor x1
Maeglin x1
Curufin x1

Attachments (11):
Nauglamir x3
Galvorn Armour x3
Unexpected Courage x3
Light of Valinor x1
Dragon-helm x1

Events (17):
Dark Elf x3
Dreadful Death x3
A Test of Will x3
Song of Gladness x3
Song of Luthien x3
The Day Has Come! x2

Thoughts: The intent here is pretty simple – use Feanor to stack up a bunch of attachments fast, reset him with Dreadful Death. I’ve included all the threat reduction to give Turin more scope for boosting his attack. Between Nauglamir, Galvorn Armour and various corruption effects I should be able to get some solid defence out of Feanor and Turin if I want to use it rather than chump-blocking. Otherwise it’s mostly just a matter of providing a lot of willpower and a stream of allies I can reasonably throw at Carcharoth the Devouring Spirit (more likely discarded by Turin’s ability rather than actually defending though of course). Luthien will be ending up with one end of an Oath of Friendship.

The Line of Kings

Heroes:
Fingon
Turgon
Idril Celebrindal

Allies (18):
Melian x3
Daeron x3
Master of the Forge x3
Green-elf Ranger x3
Barahir x3
Mablung x2
Orodreth x1

Attachments (14):
Oath of Silence x3
High Kingship of the Noldor x3
Harp of Fingon x3
Ring of Barahir x3
Oath of Friendship x2

Events (18):
Deep Knowledge x3
A Great Doom x3
Out of the Wild x3
Campfire Tales x3
Secret Toil x3
Shadow of the Past x3

Thoughts: Mostly just intended to draw fast and get willpower out, once again. Oath of Silence can be tremendously powerful in this quest specifically because there’s a location with a travel cost to discard an attachment you control, so you can get the benefit of the two card full deck search, then discard the oath to avoid the ill effects. Barahir and Mablung can help me get some good defences up if I want someone to defend Carcharoth and survive. Given that with very little combat this quest isn’t particularly action intensive, Secret Toil is a decent option. Out of the Wild can be useful in this quest because the Hunt mechanic has you add locations to the victory display and then discard them to engage Carcharoth, but since the locations don’t actually have victory points, you can use Out of the Wild to shortcut the process and add them directly from the encounter deck. Shadow of the Past of course can let me return good Hunt value locations to the top of the encounter deck.

Youtube video: Hunting of the Wolf

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One Response to The Line Unbroken – F8: Hunting of the Wolf

  1. Pingback: Deck Spring Cleaning: First Age | Warden of Arnor

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