The Line Unbroken – 46: Wastes of Eriador

Alright, back to the Angmar Awakened cycle. My favourite cycle of the game thus far. None of the preceding cycles remotely stand up to it in my opinion, whereas I still haven’t actually played the last two quests in the Dream-chaser cycle so I can’t properly judge. I think I may still prefer Angmar Awakened even once I’ve played those two though.

The cycle begins with Wastes of Eriador. There are a couple of notable things about this quest. One which we know from an interview on a podcast is that this was the one quest in the cycle which was primarily designed by Caleb, the rest was Matt, so take from that what you will if you want to analyse their different quest-designing styles. A big thing about this quest is that it gives us a clearly defined length to the rounds of the game which is usually left open to interpretation – here one round is one day or night. This can’t be consistently applied to other quests – Helm’s Deep notably has the entire game last one night, for example – but rather is something particular to here, and it could certainly be a useful aspect to people who like to think through the full story of their adventures in the game.
I commented at some point that Weather Hills in the deluxe expansion kind of set the tone for the first half of the cycle with us trudging through inhospitable wilderness, and this quest definitely fits in with that, with the Night/Day mechanic being the primary unique aspect that sets this quest apart.

In terms of player cards, we got more damage cancellation in Tactics, which I am ecstatic about (so many times I’ve been building Line Unbroken decks and wished I could include Honour Guards), our second player side quest (and a very good one at that), one event which I’ve yet to see used effectively without breaking the game, and some other decent cards. And of course Spirit Merry, whose repeatable threat reduction can allow you to do some pretty crazy stuff in my experience. He can easily offset a variety of threat-raising effects, or, especially if you bring other threat reduction, potentially just gradually drop you down towards 0 threat over the course of a game.

So how am I going to go about building my decks here? Well the answer to that comes in two parts, how I’m building for the quest and how I’m building around Merry. As far as the quest goes, since all enemies are returned to the staging area when it becomes Day, this is a bad quest for Dunedain; since you can only make quest progress during the Day, thus every other round, it’s a bad quest for side-quests; given that again, being able to stack up a lot of willpower to push through quickly is good since ticking up the progress gradually will necessarily take twice as long as it usually would; and I’ve found this quest can be tough on the threat since that’s the Night effect on the first quest card and because the game tends to last a while. Merry can certainly help offset the threat raises for one deck – and I find myself thinking, what can I do with low threat, perhaps something a bit off-beat or which I haven’t done so much recently? The answer which comes to mind is Dunhere – but for that both decks need to be low threat, so I’ll need good threat reduction for the other deck. Furthermore, the engagement costs in this quest go as low as 20 (well, they go as low as 1, but that’s just the boss enemy at the end) so staying below all engagement costs may be a challenge, but it’s one I’m willing to take on. Confining the combat mostly to Dunhere attacking the staging area should make it easier to just amass tons of willpower as well. So let’s see if I can go into a quest where I’m consistently worried about threat and keep two decks in Secrecy!

Charging out of the smoke

Merry (Sp)

Allies (14):
Wandering Took x3
Bilbo Baggins x3
Celduin Traveller x3
Honour Guard x3
Arwen Undomiel x1
Elfhelm x1

Attachments (22):
Hobbit Pipe x3
Unexpected Courage x3
Ancient Mathom x3
Spear of the Mark x3
Dagger of Westernesse x3
Resourceful x3
Leaf Brooch x2
Hobbit Pony x2

Events (14):
The Galadhrim’s Greeting x3
Free to Choose x3
A Test of Will x3
Quick Strike x3
A Elbereth! Gilthoniel! x2

Thoughts: I need Tactics access for Dunhere’s weapons, Thalin makes Dunhere’s job a bit easier with his damage, and he’s also the lowest threat in the Tactics sphere bar Merry, who obviously I can’t use here.
Having this heavy focus on threat reduction across both decks means that Hobbit Pipes are a natural choice to provide card draw, and with Wandering Tooks I can move the Pipes around as needed. It also provides a good outlet for some of the Secrecy cards I haven’t managed to use yet – Celduin Traveller, Leaf Brooch, and the interesting A Elbereth! Gilthoniel! Generally a tricky prospect, here any enemy that this deck actually engages is a problem so sending it to the bottom of the encounter deck could be pretty handy as an option, and having this much threat reduction should make the attendant threat increase easier to stomach. This also seemed like a good place for Free to Choose, since this deck can’t reliably use Elrond’s Counsel, and there are some suitable threat raises to reverse in this quest (and trigger the Hobbit Pipes by doing so). Perhaps I should’ve slotted in Smoke Rings, but that’s more expensive, and I’m more inclined to save that for some sort of Gandalf/Hobbit hybrid – especially since getting a sizeable reduction out of Smoke Rings here would most likely involve the Wandering Tooks, which would waste the willpower boost since that only applies to heroes.
As useful as ally Bilbo is, he’s liable to get killed off when I draw a new copy so I can find more Pipes faster. Resourcefuls will go on a Spirit hero. Elfhelm is kind of speculative but will obviously be useful if I can get him out. Leaf Brooches are likewise for Spirit heroes and possibly unnecessary but maybe not. Ancient Mathoms will most likely be used to help this deck draw faster. Unexpected Courages are for Dunhere so he can attack the staging area multiple times in a round. I think that covers everything here.

Passing unseen through the wilds

Sam Gamgee
Pippin (Lo)
Glorfindel (Sp)

Allies (19):
Wandering Took x3
Celduin Traveller x3
Rivendell Scout x3
Master of the Forge x3
Warden of Healing x2
Ithilien Lookout x2
Gandalf (Core) x2
Bill the Pony x1

Attachments (13):
Hobbit Pipe x3
Light of Valinor x3
Resourceful x3
Dunedain Mark x3
Asfaloth x1

Events (18):
The Galadhrim’s Greeting x3
Elrond’s Counsel x3
A Test of Will x3
Sneak Attack x3
Timely Aid x3
Daeron’s Runes x3

Thoughts: More Tooks, more Pipes. This deck has it a bit easier for threat reduction since it can use Elrond’s Counsel. It also has the advantage of actually starting the game in Secrecy rather than needing to drop down before getting the discount. Oddly for a Secrecy deck built by me, I’ve omitted Out of the Wild. It just didn’t seem as important. Resourcefuls are intended primarily for Glorfindel since Spirit is where this deck has expenses, while the other two spheres are pretty cheap.
I can get extra draw out of Master of the Forge and potentially Pippin – and if I’m engaging enemies it should be with this deck since I can get the draw, ready Sam, and also have Glorfindel ready for combat thanks to LoV, not to mention the Ithilien Lookouts. Dunedain Marks are primarily for Glorfindel though.
I actually considered trying to fit Spirit Pippin into my setup for this quest, and it’s not out of the question that I could’ve come up with something, since Merry would help offset him, and obviously he fits in nicely with Dunhere. But Lore Pippin remained the much more useful choice for increasing engagement costs, potentially drawing cards, and significantly being in the Lore sphere so I could play Wardens of Healing (and if that doesn’t seem significant you haven’t looked at some of the treacheries in this quest).


Youtube: Wastes of Eriador

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