The Line Unbroken – N7: Nightmare Hills of Emyn Muil

Well, having criticised Journey to Rhosgobel no end in the last Line Unbroken post, don’t think we’re done yet, because now we come into The Hills of Emyn Muil, which when I did it in standard mode I described as the most boring quest in the game. I think I would still stand by that assessment as well, and the switch to Nightmare does little to improve matters. OK, so there are now some giant worms whose appearance is so hauntingly familiar we might wonder if they actually formed part of the inspiration for ruining the third Hobbit film, but while a bit of combat is more interesting than just endlessly trudging through imaginary mountain ranges it doesn’t fix the general feeling in this quest that you’re not going anywhere, achieving anything or in any way making meaningful progress. Also even without them reminding me of the third Hobbit film I don’t much like the Tunnelling Nameless Things, since they’re pretty brutal to have to deal with, especially early on, and the only way to avoid them is to not travel – which is difficult since always travelling is pretty standard in general, but might be said to approach mandated in this quest where exploring locations is the only thing you need to do. If you don’t want to deal with the 6 attack behemoths which take 14 to kill then you can’t actually advance towards the end of the quest, which drags on painfully enough as it is.

Honestly, I don’t think there’s anything that the Nightmare deck could have done to really make me like this quest any more. Looking through the Nightmare cards, they’re all great on the thematic front, emphasising the hazards of traversing the difficult terrain in these mountains, I can definitely appreciate the design in the abstract, but the problem is that it’s being bolted on to the original Hills of Emyn Muil, which I don’t like. The only realistic way to increase my enjoyment of the quest is to make me win it faster.
This is coming off more vitriolic than I intended. I don’t utterly hate this quest as it might seem from some of these comments, I’m mostly just apathetic towards it – as noted, I find it to be the most boring quest in the game. So anyway, how do I want to approach the quest in its Nightmare form? Location control is still somewhat significant, but the Nightmare card stipulates that each location in the staging area can only have one progress placed on it each round, so there’s no point in just spamming Northern Trackers. One Tracker is still a very good idea though, and the progress restriction is confined to the staging area – the active location is fair game for as much progress as I can throw at it, which could be useful to take advantage of.
For all that I only need one Tracker, I’m still going to run three just to be sure I get one as quickly as possible. I definitely want to be able to afford the Tracker fairly early as well. Glorfindel would be good for Asfaloth. I can also use Thror’s Map for some shenanigans. Of note is the fact that of course the Nightmare decks for the second half of Shadows of Mirkwood were released after the end of the Against the Shadow cycle in standard mode, so my card pool has expanded again. After some thought I decided to repeat what I did last time and have Dunhere cover most of my combat requirements, which therefore requires both decks to be low threat.

Curious Wanderers

Heroes:
Sam Gamgee
Mirlonde
Pippin (Lo)

Allies (17):
Master of the Forge x3
Gandalf (Core) x3
Ravenhill Scout x2
Warden of Healing x2
Gleowine x2
Faramir x1
Haldir of Lorien x1
Gildor Inglorion x1
Erestor x1
Bill the Pony x1

Attachments (15):
Resourceful x3
Steward of Gondor x3
Dunedain Mark x3
Asfaloth x3
Thror’s Map x3

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

Thoughts: As we’ve seen in a couple of previous episodes, it seem like if my prompt is ‘low threat’ I pretty much always land on Secrecy. If you’d asked me before I started doing Nightmare quests if expected any particular trends in my deckbuilding, ‘Secrecy’ is not something I would’ve guessed, but here we go again. Of course Secrecy is getting a bit easier now that I have access to Hobbits. And on the flipside, I’m not actually hugely concerned about Secrecy in general for this deck. The main point is the low threat to enable Dunhere in the other deck, and the location control in the form of Asfaloth, Thror’s Map, Secret Paths and Ravenhill Scouts. Ravenhill Scouts in general aren’t so great, but here I might want more ways to get progress onto the active location, even if that means taking it off locations in the staging area – since this way I can more quickly get rid of locations with negative effects, and I may be able to effectively travel twice by first travelling normally, then using the Map to make another location active. And I should have plenty of resources to afford the Scouts even if they area a bit overpriced. Out of the Wild could be useful to get rid of some of the horrible treacheries in the encounter deck, Timely Aid is too good to leave out but I’m not that bothered about it, and otherwise it’s mostly standard stuff. Dunedain Marks are for Dunhere in the other deck.

What news from the Mark?

Heroes:
Dunhere
Glorfindel (Sp)
Merry

Allies (18):
Northern Tracker x3
The Riddermark’s Finest x3
West Road Traveller x3
Escort from Edoras x3
Envoy of Pelargir x3
Westfold Horse-Breaker x2
Arwen Undomiel x1

Attachments (15):
Resourceful x3
Light of Valinor x3
Ancient Mathom x3
Spear of the Mark x3
Dagger of Westernesse x3

Events (17):
A Test of Will x3
Elrond’s Counsel x3
Quick Strike x3
Unseen Strike x3
Foe-hammer x3
Stand and Fight x2

Thoughts: This deck cares even less about maintaining its Secrecy. If I get one Resourceful right at the start then I don’t care about Secrecy at all for the rest of the game. Aside from one copy of Dol Guldur Orcs, the lowest engagement cost in the quest is 30 (+2 from Pippin) on the Eastern Crows, and all I really care about is staying below engagement costs so Dunhere can do his thing. Standard Dunhere, Spears of the Mark with Daggers of Westernesse as a backup option, Quick Strike so he can kill things during the quest phase. Unseen Strike for if I need that extra boost. As much card draw as I could sensibly get out of Spirit/Tactics. Location control, I mentioned Northern Tracker, and then three copies of The Riddermark’s Finest for nuking active locations when Asfaloth isn’t enough. Plus I can potentially recycle them with Stand and Fight. Final slightly off-beat choice, the two Westfold Horse-Breakers are in there to potentially get a second attack out of Dunhere where needed – I don’t expect to need a second attack often enough for Unexpected Courage to make that much sense, but it might come up from time to time.

Youtube video: Nightmare Hills of Emyn Muil

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