The Line Unbroken – C10: Passage of the Marshes

I’m now taking The Line Unbroken slightly out of the actual release sequence, as in previous cases with Saga expansions, as a means of keeping the Sagas to narrative breaks in the cycles. In this case, the narrative break in the Angmar Awakened cycle comes after Treachery of Rhudaur, but the initial GenCon release of Land of Shadow came after Escape from Mount Gram, so I figured I’d just continue on with the campaign through Land of Shadow before going back to the cycle.
As I’m now at the point where the Fellowship are divided, I’m going to try somewhat to keep things coherent and avoid characters (and significant equipment) being in two places at once, though I’m going to let the Leaf-wrapped Lembas and Three Golden Hairs be Schrodinger’s boons, so they’re in both places until I actually use them at which point obviously they were there the whole time and not in the other branch of the story at all.

Now, this is all very well to say, but it does present certain problems in deckbuilding, as a lot of the useful unique characters are established as being in Rohan at this time. I’m making an exception for Elrond and Galadriel since as temporary allies they can be taken more as having subtly influenced events from afar (Galadriel is generally viewed that way even in hero form), but Gandalf I’m going to try to avoid. I must admit, there’s a part of me that’s tempted to totally break theme (and the timeline) by using Grima and/or Saruman for these quests, but for the moment I’m avoiding that as well.
Sticking strictly to the book of course there should be no-one in the first and third quests but Frodo and Sam, though a case can certainly be made (and I’ve seen it made) for Galadriel as well, influencing events from afar. The story attached to the second quest offers me the Ithilien Rangers to round out a hero selection, as indeed do the player cards in the box. Trying to stick with this theme, in addition to Faramir and Damrod I will also take Mablung, even though it unfortunately denies me the chance to use his ally version which was released in this box. That also allows me a lineup of three heroes all of whom have abilities which trigger on engaging enemies (Sam, Faramir and Mablung). For the final slot, I originally tried Eleanor, but found I was too support-heavy and needed more power out of the gate, so although it skews me very much towards the Lore sphere I have instead brought Haldir along from Lorien.
The actual requirements of the quest in this case are fairly generic. Chump-blocking is a bad idea, it’s best to start with some good attack power so you can flip Gollum to Smeagol as soon as possible and Thror’s Map can be handy to dodge the Travel costs. One additional point which I found while testing out the version of the decks with Eleanor was the treachery which offers a choice between raising your threat by the number of characters you control committed to the quest or dealing 1 damage to each character committed to the quest. I don’t want to be too careless about my threat, so it’ll be handy if I can avoid 1 hit point questing allies so I’m able to choose the damage option if I want, without damaging my board state and significantly losing Fellowship of the Ring. Beyond these points though my building was based more around getting my hero lineup to work and some minor thematic decisions – although I’m not being overly strict about it I feel it’s at least a bit truer to the book if I avoid having a massive army of allies marching through the marshes. There will probably be room for a more ally-heavy approach in the next quest.

Shrewd and Faithful Hearts

Heroes:
Sam Gamgee
Faramir (Ld)
Mablung

Allies (15):
Errand-rider x3
Weather Hills Watchman x3
Galadhon Archer x3
Anborn x2
Bill the Pony x2
Skinbark x1
Beorn x1

Attachments (19):
Steward of Gondor x3
Dunedain Mark x3
Dunedain Warning x3
Dunedain Signal x3
Bow of the Galadhrim x3
Secret Vigil x3
Black Arrow x1

Events (15):
Campfire Tales x3
We Are Not Idle x3
Feint x3
Halfling Determination x3
Speak Your Promise! x3

Side-quests (1):
Gather Information x1

Thoughts: My self-imposed Gandalf ban left me a bit short of card draw and threat reduction. The card draw I have largely just replaces itself, but the other deck can help out, while threat reduction will come down to Secret Vigils and Galadriel.
I couldn’t decide for a little while whether to use Hobbit Cloaks or Gondorian Shields or both for my defences, until I realised I could just use Dunedain Warnings and get more out of my Weather Hills Watchmen (the Dunedain Signals were already in with them as even if I successfully get all the enemies to engage this deck, Frodo is a good defender and he keeps crossing the table.
All the attack-boosting attachments are of course intended for Haldir. I had Daggers of Westernesse in an earlier version, but on making the switch to Haldir it became just generally more efficient for me to keep killing the enemies.
The primary targets for Faramir’s readying are Anborn (for ability and then attack power) and the Errand-riders (for their ability twice over since the other deck needs more resources than this one). Steward will most likely go on Sam, not that it matters that much between him and Faramir.
Speak Your Promise! is a pretty great card if you’ve boosted Frodo’s willpower, as I have – between Noble Hero, Fellowship of the Ring and Sting he can make it up to 5 willpower without triggering his ability, which of course would temporarily increase it further.

Help from Afar

Heroes:
Damrod
Haldir of Lorien
Galadriel

Allies (10):
Master of the Forge x3
Warden of Healing x3
Elrond x2
Gildor Inglorion x1
Bofur (Sp) x1

Attachments (23):
Ranger Spikes x3
Ambush x3
Poisoned Stakes x3
Fast Hitch x3
Thror’s Map x3
Unexpected Courage x2
Nenya x2
Fellowship of the Ring x2
Sting x1
Mithril Shirt x1

Events (18):
A Test of Will x3
Hasty Stroke x3
Elrond’s Counsel x3
Daeron’s Runes x3
Deep Knowledge x3
Gildor’s Counsel x3

Side-quests (1):
Gather Information x1

Thoughts: I expect Galadriel to be primarily targeting the first deck, leaving this one to fend for its own card draw from the standard two events, Master of the Forge and Damrod+Traps. Speaking of the Master, he is of course the reason there are only two copies of Fellowship of the Ring and the boons. By contrast, the reason the first deck includes Speak Your Promise! and this one does not is because SYP only works on enemies engaged with the player who plays it, and as far as possible I intend to have all the enemies engage the first deck so Haldir will be able to snipe them before they attack.
My inclusion of the 1 copy of Gildor is an interesting sort of thematic idea since I was up to Breaking of the Fellowship using the boon version of him, and I guess he’s still hanging around?
As alien as the idea is to me, I don’t need the full 3 copies of Unexpected Courage. I’ll get more value out of readying Frodo over and over for defending than I will readying anyone else with the possible exception of Galadriel.
It’s fortunate that Nenya grants a Lore icon, because this deck ended up very Lore-heavy. It should be worth it though. In particular being reasonably able to afford Gildor’s Counsel is pretty great. The Traps are also nice. Ranger Spikes obviously, but Poisoned Stakes may also help keep the enemies in check so I don’t get stuck engaged with one and thus unable to lower my threat, and Ambush of course allows me to save the action I would otherwise use on defending, leaving me with more for the attack.

RingsDB:
http://ringsdb.com/fellowship/view/2395/the-line-unbroken-passage-of-the-marshes
http://ringsdb.com/decklist/view/4983/the-line-unbroken-passage-of-the-marshes-deck-1-1.0
http://ringsdb.com/decklist/view/4984/the-line-unbroken-passage-of-the-marshes-deck-2-1.0

Youtube: The Passage of the Marshes

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