The Line Unbroken – N1: Nightmare Passage Through Mirkwood

Well, so far The Line Unbroken has made for a very interesting retrospective on the LotR LCG, but for the past couple of cycles I’ve been making a bit of an omission from my purportedly comprehensive exploration of the evolution of the game – I haven’t done anything about Nightmare decks. That changes now, as I’m going back to tackle the Core Set and first cycle in the Nightmare form now.

Of course in one respect the Nightmare decks don’t offer much to explore regarding the evolution of the game – they include no additional player cards. On the other hand they offer additional retrospective perspective on the older quests they modify and how those quests have been impacted by a changing card pool, and certainly one can draw a fair amount of interesting analysis in how quest design has changed by going through them.

So Nightmare Passage Through Mirkwood. The NM versions of the quests for the most part keep the same feel as the original quest, which sometimes is not entirely a good thing. The original Passage Through Mirkwood was basically the tutorial for the game and as such was very easy – but it did include a small number of fairly ridiculous encounter cards which could still screw things up for you entirely at random. Correspondingly, the nightmare version of the quest has a bunch of stuff that’s easy to deal with, but also some really horrible cards which will randomly completely screw you over (like the new pretty much cancel-or-die nightmare version of Ungoliant’s Spawn) – but at the same time the basic structure of the quest remains easy so on another attempt you may well just sprint through the quest and maybe never even see any of the horrible nightmare cards.

In terms of how to build against the quest, it focuses in on something which one could argue was a minor theme in the original quest though it never really felt like one to me – messing around with exhausting your characters and punishing you for having exhausted characters. In particular there are enemies which will cause problems based on exhausted characters controlled by the engaged player. The simple way to counteract this in a two player game is to have one dedicated questing deck and one dedicated combat deck, so all the enemies will hopefully go to the combat deck which won’t have anyone exhausted until combat and all the exhausted questing characters won’t matter because they don’t engage enemies. An additional point I should mention is that I am of course sticking to my proper progression-style deckbuilding, and so I will only be using cards which were available at the time the NM Core decks were released – which means only up to Heirs of Numenor. This presents me with my old problem when it comes to Spirit heroes (there are very few good generic ones), and cuts out some nice options I might have liked but since this quest isn’t overly difficult I’m not hugely bothered by the restriction.

Father and someone else’s sons

Heroes:
Elrohir
Elladan
Denethor

Allies (12):
Master of the Forge x3
Envoy of Pelargir x3
Gleowine x2
Warden of Healing x2
Gandalf (Core) x2

Attachments (23):
Steward of Gondor x3
Cram x3
Dunedain Mark x3
Dunedain Warning x3
Keeping Count x3
Rivendell Blade x3
Ranger Spikes x3
Song of Kings x2

Events (15):
Sneak Attack x3
We Are Not Idle x3
Feint x3
Foe-hammer x3
Daeron’s Runes x3

Thoughts: Denethor unfortunately spoils my unintended theme of only using heroes with names beginning with E, but never mind. Elladan and Elrohir are a perfect pair for countering anti-exhaustion mechanics with their inherent readying abilities. Beyond that I’m just focusing on drawing all the important stuff fast and getting attack and defence to good levels. Oh, and stacking up those resources as well. Most of the cards in the deck are cheap – Steward of Gondor is the only non-Lore card which costs more than 1, and is itself a resource generator. Access to Lore is good for the draw, and in the rather inconsistent NM PTM encounter deck, Denethor can potentially sink horrible cards I don’t want to see revealed. The one card which springs to mind that the restricted card pool is really denying me is A Good Harvest, but I should manage alright anyway.

The Three Es

Heroes:
Eowyn
Eleanor
Elrond

Allies (22):
Arwen Undomiel x3
West Road Traveller x3
Imladris Stargazer x3
Master of the Forge x3
Envoy of Pelargir x3
Gandalf (Core) x3
Bofur (Sp) x1
Gildor Inglorion x1
Haldir of Lorien x1
Faramir x1

Attachments (13):
Vilya x3
Unexpected Courage x3
Miruvor x3
Ancient Mathom x3
Light of Valinor x1

Events (15):
A Test of Will x3
Hasty Stroke x3
Elrond’s Counsel x3
The Galadhrim’s Greeting x3
Daeron’s Runes x3

Thoughts: Just focussing on a bunch of willpower and card draw again. Cancellation, threat reduction, ticking all the standard boxes, plus Vilya. I have just noticed that despite putting Lore into both decks I still omitted Miner of the Iron Hills to remove The Spider’s Web, but on the other hand I do have healing and cancellation available.

Youtube video: Nightmare Passage Through Mirkwood

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