Following The Lost Realm there was a bit of wait for the cycle to actually start getting released, but during that gap we did get the next saga expansion, Treason of Saruman, so it’s time for me to continue The Line Unbroken’s campaign with The Uruk-Hai. Merry and Pippin have been captured and we must rescue them.
The Uruk-Hai was only the second quest to forcibly take a hero out of play as part of its central mechanics (Foundations of Stone could do it randomly with Lost and Alone, but that obviously wasn’t guaranteed), the idea having been ignored since Escape from Dol Guldur in the Core Set. This obviously presents problems for most decks and thus means the quest probably doesn’t get that much play, but on the other hand I feel this execution of the idea was far better than that of Dol Guldur. The presence of Fellowship Aragorn both as an additional hero and with his ability to provide readying really helps mitigate the downside in actions, while the starting active location grants extra resources when explored – which helps with the other problem of being down a hero. It’s also very thematic, of course.
As it has been a little while since The Road Darkens, a reminder of the state of my campaign pool:
From Shadow of the Past I took the Gildor Inglorion boon and The Ring Draws Them.
From The Old Forest I took Old Bogey-stories.
From Fog on the Barrow Downs I took Ho! Tom Bombadil!
From A Knife in the Dark Frodo has Noble Hero and Aragorn has Valiant Warrior.
From Flight to the Ford I got Overcome by Terror.
From Ring Goes South I earned Sting/Mithril Shirt/Anduril/Glamdring, obviously.
From Journey in the Dark I earned Overcome by Grief and Pursued by the Enemy, and Gandalf was killed so he’s a Fallen Hero and I have a +1 starting threat penalty.
From Breaking of the Fellowship I took the Three Golden Hairs and the Leaf-Wrapped Lembas. I removed Pursued by the Enemy from the campaign pool with the Seat of Seeing, and earned Ill Fate. Merry and Pippin were the captured heroes.
My non-captured heroes coming into The Uruk-Hai are Boromir, Aragorn, Legolas and Fatty Bolger.
Coming into The Uruk-Hai in a campaign is interesting. It’s the only time you can’t change heroes at the start of a box without incurring threat penalty – though since Aragorn becomes the Fellowship hero at this point I do get to swap him out freely. Of course some of my campaign pool stops being relevant here as well, as Gildor is removed permanently, while The Ring Draws Them and Overcome by Terror are omitted from the three quests in this box (as they’re Ringbearer specific). Looking ahead to completing the quest, there’s also the interesting debate as to whether I should take Beyond All Hope or the Skill boons corresponding to some of my useful traits. As a general rule, assuming one has a Fallen Hero to revive, Beyond All Hope is pretty much guaranteed to be better in solo, and the Skill boons become a better relative choice as player count goes up (since they benefit all players rather than just one). At two players though, either can be a valid option.
So now I need to get to deckbuilding, including choosing another hero to replace Aragorn. Since I do get to freely swap heroes after this quest I don’t have to worry about a long-term commitment here, I just need to get through this one quest. Line Unbroken rules would generally dictate that I bring in one of the new heroes here, but for the campaign I’ve also been trying to be at least somewhat thematic, plus it’d seem a bit odd to bring in one but not the other. Thematically, there are two choices who would fit in with Tolkien’s original story – Gimli or Eomer. Now given the presence of Overcome by Grief and Ill Fate I’m reluctant to chump-block, which would make Eomer an unreliable proposition, not to mention I already have 3 heroes with 1 willpower and could do with a bit more willpower. Gimli’s 2 might also be not quite enough (especially since he’s in the willpower-deficient Tactics sphere), but it’s a bit better at least, and I might be able to manage – especially since Fatty can mitigate staging threat, Legolas can make progress in combat and Boromir can get Visionary Leadership running. So maybe going mono-Tactics isn’t a completely crazy idea here…
Two Out of Three Hunters
Defender of Rammas x3
Westfold Outrider x3
Knight of Minas Tirith x3
White Tower Watchman x3
Envoy of Pelargir x3
Warden of Healing x3
Blade of Gondolin x3
Citadel Plate x3
Rivendell Bow x2
Thror’s Map x2
Captain of Gondor x1
Black Arrow x1
Hands Upon the Bow x3
Trained for War x3
Deep Knowledge x3
The Three Hunters x3
Quick Strike x2
Thoughts: Being otherwise mono-sphere makes this a great place to slot in the new Fellowship card and some Lore cards which can be played by Aragorn once he has the Ring of Barahir. I should hopefully be pretty well set for combat. Besides that I’ve also put in as much as I can for a basically mono-Tactics deck to help with questing, which admittedly isn’t much. White Tower Watchmen have 1 willpower, Envoys of Pelargir are good of course, Westfold Outriders can pull enemies out of the staging area to reduce threat, Blades of Gondolin will add some more progress along with Legolas, and Trained for War of course can get me a lot of questing power, both from this deck and from the assorted Gondor allies boosted by Boromir’s ability.
It’s important to note that in one respect I may not be entirely following the rules to the letter, depending on how things play out. For background, when Strider was spoiled Matt Newman said when asked that while it’s not technically in the rules, he would give his blessing to discounting saga heroes from the “control 2 heroes or less condition” on Strider (and Vanish from Sight). I am choosing to extrapolate that blessing out a bit further and take it that essentially the presence of a saga hero should not invalidate anything your deck would otherwise be able to do, and thus I will be disregarding Aragorn for the purposes of cards which require me to be mono-sphere – the Knight of Minas Tirith, the White Tower Watchman, and Trained for War.
Combat-wise, my biggest potential weakness is defence, which is why I stocked up on Defenders of Rammas, White Tower Watchmen, and a couple of Quick Strikes as well as the standard Feint/Hands Upon the Bow. The ability to cancel attacks or attack pre-emptively may be especially relevant for dealing with Ugluk, since he cannot be defended by allies.
The Men of Minas Tirith do not desert their friends
Herald of Anorien x3
Pelargir Ship Captain x3
Citadel Custodian x3
Envoy of Pelargir x3
West Road Traveller x3
Arwen Undomiel x1
Bofur (Sp) x1
Steward of Gondor x3
Visionary Leadership x3
Sword that was Broken x3
Ring of Barahir x3
Unexpected Courage x3
Celebrian’s Stone x2
Heir of Mardil x1
A Test of Will x3
A Very Good Tale x3
Thoughts: The biggest problem this deck has is most likely card draw. Hopefully ally Galadriel will help a bit, and obviously if I can get Aragorn to play the Deep Knowledges that’ll be good. Plus A Very Good Tale may well be better than draw. Between the Sword that was Broken and Visionary Leadership, plus a bunch of allies, this deck should be able to muster a decent amount of willpower and that’s all this deck is really focused on, plus a little extra action advantage with Courage and Miruvor. The intent is to get out allies fast to make up for my starting willpower deficit (Fatty’s ability can also help with that, and he’s guaranteed to have a target at the start of the quest in Ugluk, so long as I can take the threat). The Heralds of Anorien and A Very Good Tale can obviously help with that, as well as mitigating the deficit of resources for having a hero missing.
Steward of Gondor is intended to be played onto Aragorn, since with his attachments he becomes multi-sphere, plus he can use his resources for The Three Hunters (a very powerful effect) and his ability to ready heroes which could be very significant if things get out of control.
Youtube: The Uruk-Hai