The Line Unbroken – N9: Nightmare Return to Mirkwood

Return to Mirkwood was of course the hardest quest of the Shadows of Mirkwood cycle by a large margin, so the Nightmare version was much anticipated by anyone who (like me) appreciates a challenge. Of course it also had some of that iffy design which tended to plague early quests so I’m still not hugely enamoured of it. On the other hand it’s a massive step up from the last three quests.

Realistically the main issue I have with it is the incredibly randomly swingy nature of it based on certain encounter cards. Also the incredible threat pressure means you really need to specialise and some of the other Gollum-based aspects can be hard to manage. The quest is designed around being able to move Gollum to share the threat, but a lot of the negative effects specifically target the player guarding Gollum so every deck needs to be able to deal with them. Obviously there is more than one way to deal with that, but it still narrows your options fairly significantly.
So what do I want here? Threat reduction and lots of it, of course. Cancellation and lots of it. Some healing would be good to deal with Mirkwood Bats and maybe Gollum’s Bite, recursion to deal with Wasted Provisions. Either a very powerful defender or more likely a steady stream of chumps for the really big enemies like Attercop, Attercop. Significantly, I definitely want decks which start strong and get stronger, I don’t have time to turtle while I power up, but I also need to hit a high power level by the time I get to the end, since I will have to deal with a minimum of one Attercop, potentially more, plus a bunch of other enemies. I considered a few different options, but here’s what I eventually went with:

Rousing the Fallen

Heroes:
Eowyn
Glorfindel
Caldara

Allies (23):
Imladris Stargazer x3
Zigil Miner x3
Northern Tracker x3
West Road Traveller x3
Pelargir Shipwright x3
Wandering Took x2
Elfhelm x1
Bofur x1
Arwen Undomiel x1
Damrod x1
Emery x1
Dwalin x1

Attachments (8):
Unexpected Courage x3
Light of Valinor x3
Map of Earnil x2

Events (19):
A Test of Will x3
Hasty Stroke x3
Dwarven Tomb x3
Fortune or Fate x3
Elrond’s Counsel x3
Hidden Cache x3
The Galadhrim’s Greeting x1

Thoughts: Recursion to handle Wasted Provisions, steady supply of chumps, lots of threat reduction and cancellation? The latter two point generally to the Spirit sphere, and the former to Caldara specifically. I don’t need much persuading to play a Caldara deck, and it definitely should be powerful enough to handle it (one of the two times I beat this quest in solo play was using a Caldara deck). As Caldara decks go for the card pool I have available at this point, I’d say this is pretty standard to be honest. Perhaps the one oddity is the inclusion of two Wandering Tooks – these are potentially useful though because they will allow me to move more threat around if I want to, and indeed to move the bodies around for an extra point of attack or an extra chump, which could be particularly relevant if we have to deal with Isolation (which stops Ranged/Sentinel), or on the final quest stage when all enemies automatically engage the player guarding Gollum.

Calling All Who Will Come

Heroes:
Elrond
Beravor
Mirlonde

Allies (27):
Master of the Forge x3
Warden of Healing x3
Trollshaw Scout x3
White Tower Watchman x3
Envoy of Pelargir x3
Gandalf (Core) x3
Faramir x1
Beorn x1
Gleowine x1
Landroval x1
Haldir of Lorien x1
Gildor Inglorion x1
Erestor x1
Denethor x1
Dori x1

Attachments (14):
Unexpected Courage x3
Vilya x3
Resourceful x3
A Burning Brand x1
Asfaloth x1
Poisoned Stakes x1
Steward of Gondor x1
Celebrian’s Stone x1

Events (9):
Gildor’s Counsel x3
The Galadhrim’s Greeting x3
Timely Aid x3

Thoughts: Given that one of my stipulations was that my decks need to start strong, a Vilya deck may seem like an odd choice, as Vilya tends to require a bit of setup time for all that it becomes very powerful once it is set up. You may note however that I have included no Stargazers – in fact this Vilya deck is intended to work more along the lines of Seastan’s Forrest Gump deck, wherein every card should be worth the use of Vilya (except additional copies of Vilya) so I don’t need to know what I’m getting in advance. That’s why I have no Test of Will even though Elrond could play it with Vilya, no card draw events because I primarily just want to get things off the top of my deck and Master of the Forge should find Vilya itself if I don’t get it from my opening hand+mulligan. The need for every Vilya to be worth it leads to some powerful cards being only x1, like Steward (but then I have Resourcefuls as well). I’ve also picked my cards with care such that they’ll all be useful when put into play at the start of the quest phase, because Gildor’s Counsel is a great idea for a quest with as brutal an encounter deck as this one has, so on the off-chance it’s the top card of my deck I will be triggering Vilya at the relevant point for it just in case.

Youtube videos:
NM Return to Mirkwood
NM Return to Mirkwood (take 2)

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