The Line Unbroken – 44: The Weather Hills

The second quest in The Lost Realm in some ways sets the tone for the first half of the upcoming cycle (2 of the first 3 quests, anyway) by having us wandering through a dangerous wilderness, in this case searching for the orcs we’ve pursued from the first quest. The quest puts a bit of a different twist on the experience of exploring locations and fighting orcs with the Orc deck, which is somewhat akin to the Underworld deck back in The Steward’s Fear, except the cards are drawn from it when the locations are explored rather than being put under the locations in advance as they enter play.

So, talking further about the box in general, my next topic of interest is the player cards, which in particular inevitably means a focus on the Dunedain deck archetype. A lot of people were rather negative about Dunedain decks when this deluxe/cycle were just starting out developing the trait, but I really like them. What’s interesting about them is that the central allies along with Heir of Valandil kind of scale up twice over. The allies have abilities which scale with number of engaged enemies, so with no enemies they’re not so worth it but they get stronger the more enemies you take on, but meanwhile Heir of Valandil also makes them cheaper with those enemies – so you go from an expensive ally with kind of OK stats to a free ally with amazing stats (or a free ally which draws you a load of cards). Acquiring those engaged enemies means the deck needs a bit of setup time but once it has had that time the Dunedain can be ridiculously powerful. They don’t work for all quests necessarily – some quests, such as The Weather Hills, require you to kill a certain number of enemies to advance the quest, which obviously runs counter to the idea of keeping them around to reap benefits, while some quests may not have that many enemies who are eligible for attachments like the all-important Forest Snare and too many harsh shadow effects for it to be practical keeping them around while they’re still attacking.
The other especially interesting thing about the player cards in Lost Realm is of course the heroes. Aragorn is a powerhouse, who I reckon to be the best attacking hero in the game, while Halbarad – for all that I like him – probably falls towards the lower end of hero power. They also have interesting relationships with the Dunedain trait synergy. Halbarad obviously works with the trait, allowing you to engage more enemies and gaining a benefit for having one engaged – though unless /until you get a Forest Snare on that enemy, he’ll most likely use that extra action to defend that enemy, making it not so much of a benefit. Aragorn on the other hand, while he can work with the trait, letting a deck keep its number of engaged enemies constant, I tend to feel doesn’t fit in so well. Tactics Aragorn tends to be better suited to a deck which maximises on his attacking power to simply kill all the enemies. At least, that’s how I feel about it.

Back to the quest. Weather Hills can be pretty tough combat-wise, though the amount of combat can be more predictable than in other quests since most of the enemies are in the Orc deck rather than the encounter deck. The various Weather treacheries and some other related cards tend to cause problems with direct damage. None of that ties my hands particularly deckbuilding-wise though. Cold from Angmar appears in this quest, and one of my favourite things to do against that card is bring hero Beorn so I can heal him while his text box is blank (he can also be healed by Make Camp and Sheltered Valleys since those are encounter card effects rather than player card effects). I also figured this could be a decent time to bring in Ranger Summons, and some other encounter deck trickery with the deck being more consistent than usual. So here we go:

The servants of Sauron I pursue into whatever land they may go

Aragorn (Ta)

Allies (15):
Defender of Rammas x3
Errand-rider x3
Weather Hills Watchman x3
Envoy of Pelargir x3
Gandalf (Core) x3

Attachments (16):
Blade of Gondolin x3
Bow of the Galadhrim x3
Secret Vigil x3
Steward of Gondor x3
Dunedain Warning x3
Black Arrow x1

Events (18):
Sneak Attack x3
Valiant Sacrifice x3
Ranger Summons x3
Foe-hammer x3
Feint x3
Shadow of the Past x3

Side-quests (1):
Gather Information x1

Thoughts: I didn’t notice until I came to write this up, but this is an incredibly consistent deck, with 16 cards at 3 copies each plus two 1-ofs (both of which are Limit 1 per deck so it’s not like I had a choice in the matter). So for starters, Gather Information turns up here, because this quest isn’t going to penalise me for having lots of quest stages in play, and indeed the first stage of the quest doesn’t actually require any progress at all, making it ideal for side-quests.
I mentioned Ranger Summons, and then Shadow of the Past is also in so I can return the Rangers of the North if they get dealt and discarded as shadow cards. Weather Hills Watchman can potentially find the Ranger Summons or Dunedain Warnings. Envoys of Pelargir are in because with earlier versions of the decks I found myself a bit short on willpower having focused a lot on my combat capabilities. Speaking of which, Blades of Gondolin for Aragorn/Halbarad obviously, Bows of the Galadhrim and Black Arrow for Haldir in the other deck. The rest of the deck is pretty standard stuff. The intention here is pretty much that this deck will engage every enemy I see so Aragorn and Beorn can tear through them and leave the other deck free for questing and shenanigans.

None of the orcs will ever return

Haldir of Lorien

Allies (20):
Galadriel’s Handmaiden x3
West Road Traveller x3
Master of the Forge x3
Warden of Healing x3
Arwen Undomiel x2
Minas Tirith Lampwright x2
Envoy of Pelargir x2
Bilbo Baggins x1
Bofur (Sp) x1

Attachments (12):
Palantir x3
Nenya x3
Unexpected Courage x3
Hobbit Pipe x1
Light of Valinor x1
Wingfoot x1

Events (17):
Daeron’s Runes x3
A Test of Will x3
Dwarven Tomb x3
Hasty Stroke x3
Elrond’s Counsel x3
The Galadhrim’s Greeting x2

Side-quests (1):
Gather Information x1

Thoughts: The Palantir rears its… well, it doesn’t have a head. It appears once more, anyway. I figure a quest where the bulk of the encounter deck is composed of only two of the main encounter card types rather than the usual three should give me a better rate of success with the Palantir than I’d otherwise have. Beyond that, Lampwrights can effectively cancel Surge based on what I see in the Palantir, Wingfoot can trigger (on Aragorn) with 100% accuracy, and the rest of the deck is largely devoted to amassing willpower and counteracting the threat-raises from using the Palantir. Getting an Unexpected Courage onto Galadriel so she can use the Palantir and her ability every round is crucial. Idraen may get limited use out of her readying until Arwen comes into play, since as I said I plan for pretty much all the enemies to engage the first deck – that’ll also enable Haldir to snipe them before they attack, especially once he’s powered up with the weaponry in the other deck. The one Hobbit Pipe is speculative, but it can be fetched by Bilbo, thinning my deck, it can be played on Bilbo, and I have 5 threat reduction events plus 3 Dwarven Tombs which can be used to recycle them, so I should be able to get an appreciable amount of draw from the Pipe, and more draw is always good, even if it’s arguably not needed when I’ll already be drawing with Galadriel, Palantir, Daeron’s Runes and Master of the Forge.


Youtube: The Weather Hills

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