The Line Unbroken – N2: Nightmare Journey Down the Anduin

Perhaps the main reason the nightmare decks are made is to reinject some level of challenge into older quests which have fallen behind the curve with the influx of more and better player cards since their release, or which were never that hard too begin with. Passage Through Mirkwood definitely fell into the latter category – it was easy on release and the nightmare version is at least sometimes challenging – whereas Journey Down the Anduin is very much in the former category. When you play Anduin for the first time it’s tough, and a lot of people even to this day will still swear by it as a quest to test decks against for how it challenges you in all areas. In terms of how the quest is structured I’d agree with that, but I personally feel it’s too easy at this point to be a useful testing ground. So logically the nightmare version should be perfect for my needs in this regard, right?

Well, yes and no. Certainly nightmare Anduin is more challenging than the regular version, and it still retains the all-round nature. Most quests in the transition to nightmare mode retain the same general feel, but that does include that the earlier nightmare quests still have the early quest tendency to have a few ridiculously punishing effects mixed into an otherwise more pedestrian difficult quest instead of just a slightly higher difficulty across the board. In the original early quests I judged this to be a sign of the designers learning how to make the quests work, and a little of this tendency did persist into the Against the Shadow cycle so maybe they were still shaking it off; or maybe it’s because as I recall a fair amount of the nightmare stuff was done by Matt Newman when he was new to FFG so perhaps he was going through that same learning process; or perhaps it was simply a case of trying to remain consistent with how the quests were originally.
Regardless of the reason, while nightmare Anduin is certainly more difficult than original Anduin, some of that difficulty appears in the form of some incredibly punishing cards, such that there’s a really disproportionate change between getting hit by those effect and not. The potential for a double Gladden Marshlands, or Gladden Marshlands + The East Bight, the shadow effect on Troll Attack, possibly others – these can swing a game all on their own, and you can only do so much to prepare for them. Sometimes you’ll just get screwed with no reasonable recourse. That said, for the most part I have had positive experiences with this quest, so I wouldn’t get too down on the randomness of some of the design (maybe the number of copies of some of the cards could’ve been different, 3 copies of Gladden Marshlands seems a bit much).

Leaving aside for now any opinions on the design of the quest, I have to build decks for it. The presence of the Brown Water Rats (1 attack enemy, cannot be damaged) means that I am always inclined to bring hero Beorn to this quest. Which in turn moves me towards means of resurrecting heroes. In general dealing with enemies is a big part of this quest, though questing also can’t be neglected. Lots of enemies means lots of shadow cards which could cause problems, so shadow cancellation shouldn’t be disregarded. The 10 threat Gladden Marshlands and 5 threat Brown Lands make Secret Paths look very appealing. Since the other way around Gladden Marshlands involves damaging heroes, not to mention our old friend The Necromancer’s Reach, healing is also significant. Finally there’s the big point people tended to follow originally – start below 30 threat so you have time to build up before facing the Hill Troll. Of course for the original I flouted that rule and tanked the troll with Aragorn/Gimli/Citadel Plate/Feint etc, but I’m less keen to repeat that approach in nightmare mode, so low threat is the order of the day. Beorn’s 12 makes low threat difficult to achieve, but there are some low threat heroes available to me in Spirit; as for the other deck, Leadership/Lore can only get so low, but I came up with an interesting possibility…

We must protect the Ring-bear-er

Frodo Baggins
Glorfindel (Sp)

Allies (14):
West Road Traveller x3
Vassal of the Windlord x3
Veteran Axehand x3
Arwen Undomiel x2
Defender of Rammas x2
Landroval x1

Attachments (16):
Light of Valinor x3
Unexpected Courage x3
Ancient Mathom x3
Rivendell Bow x3
Rivendell Blade x2
Good Meal x2

Events (20):
Feint x3
A Test of Will x3
Hasty Stroke x3
Dwarven Tomb x3
Elrond’s Counsel x3
Stand and Fight x3
Fortune or Fate x2

Thoughts: Having just finished the Ring-maker cycle in my regular progression, it’s a bit tough to come back to a pre Galadriel’s Handmaiden card pool. I feel like I don’t have enough willpower. It should work out alright though. Defenders of Rammas give me more defensive options, plus of course I also have potential chumps, and the ability to recycle dead allies with Stand and Fight. Vassals, Axehands and Rivendell Blades (effectively) give me the additional attack I may need to quickly take down tougher enemies like Marshland Outlaws and Hill Trolls. Rivendell Bows will also let Aragorn chip in, and/or let Glorfindel take care of enemies on the other side of the table. If the second deck gets one of its Masters of the Forge killed, this deck could bring it back with Stand and Fight and get a lot of good use out of it. Finally of course I’ve got the full suite of cancellation, a bit of threat reduction, Stand and Fight as already mentioned, and Fortune or Fate (to be made cheaper with Good Meal) to bring back Beorn when he dies. Same goes for the one speculative copy of Landroval if I can save up for him.

Stealthy Guidance

Aragorn (Lo)

Allies (21):
Dunedain Wanderer x3
Master of the Forge x3
Warden of Healing x3
Gandalf (Core) x2
Errand-rider x2
Dori x2
Gleowine x2
Faramir x1
Gildor Inglorion x1
Haldir of Lorien x1
Landroval x1

Attachments (11):
Resourceful x3
Dunedain Mark x3
Steward of Gondor x2
Sword that was Broken x2
Asfaloth x1

Events (18):
Sneak Attack x3
Timely Aid x3
Daeron’s Runes x3
Gildor’s Counsel x3
Out of the Wild x3
Secret Paths x3

Thoughts: That’s right, I decided to run a two-hero Secrecy deck against a nightmare quest. Maybe I’m crazy, but since I was looking for a low threat option, this made some sense. Plus, Out of the Wild could potentially find some very good targets in this encounter deck, and Dunedain Wanderers will help some more with the combat. 3 Masters of the Forge mean I stand decent chances of finding those attachments even though I cut copies of some of them, and 3 Wardens mean I should have healing available as needed. Landroval appears once again, since he can be Sneak Attacked or Timely Aided into play, or discarded to Daeron’s Runes and then the other deck brings him in with Stand and Fight. In general Timely Aid remains an amazing card and I’ve put in some good targets for it. Dori is a great companion to Beorn. Dunedain Marks again help to get that attack power up. Finally, Gildor’s Counsel is great in general but particularly fits here when stage 2 of the quest will have me reveal an extra card each round, and as mentioned Secret Paths could be a real lifesaver given Gladden Marshlands.


Youtube: Nightmare Journey Down the Anduin

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1 Response to The Line Unbroken – N2: Nightmare Journey Down the Anduin

  1. INK1ing says:

    Oh man. So many undefended attacks at the end. Great finish.


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