The Line Unbroken – 47: Escape from Mount Gram

Following a lengthy trek through the wilds in Wastes of Eriador, the card game subjects us to one of the great bugbears of video games and has us captured in a cutscene. This doesn’t actually annoy me too much, though inevitably there can be something of a disconnect between the gameplay and the story text if you’ve been handling all the wargs just fine and aren’t particularly weakened at all by the end of the quest – as was the case for me. The story text suggests additional time passing in which your rations run short of course, but that then begs the question of why we’re not weaker at the start of Escape from Mount Gram since we’ve been short of food… whatever, we’re here, we need to break out of the dungeons and it does make for interesting gameplay.

The way this quest works is likewise somewhat reminiscent of video games, where the sequence in which you’re captured and lose all your gear which you then have to recover is pretty old hat at this point – but it was partly from the wide variety of such sequences that Matt Newman apparently took a lot of his inspiration for this quest – as he put it in a Second Breakfast article: “What makes these sequences so interesting is that we, as players, are used to a certain level of power, in the form of allies at our side and powerful weapons and artifacts in our hands. As soon as we are separated from our equipment and our comrades, and told that we must rely solely on our wits to survive, we are immediately struck with equal parts terror and excitement.” A lot of people were understandably excited by the idea of this quest because of that particular theme – personally I certainly find it interesting to play out, though thematically it doesn’t interest me as much as all the magic and undead to be found in the second half of the story of this cycle. Though as far as the theme goes, it is interesting to touch briefly on Mount Gram, only mentioned in Tolkien’s works as the source of the goblins who tried to invade the Shire and were defeated at the Battle of Greenfields (when Bandobras ‘Bullroarer’ Took invented the game of Golf).

In terms of player cards, it’s the usual blend of all sorts – Gondor, Dunedain, Ents, our first glimpse of the Noldor synergy to be expanded later in the cycle, and of course the beginnings of the victory display deck with Rossiel, Leave No Trace and Keen As Lances. This presented me with something of a dilemma in building for this quest – by my standard rules I should play with Rossiel for this quest, but the whole victory display deck doesn’t fully come together until the release of The Door is Closed! in Treachery of Rhudaur. At the very least you kind of want None Return for Rossiel. So I considered postponing Rossiel’s appearance on those grounds like I did with Elrohir back at the start of the Dwarrowdelf cycle. However I decided against it for two reasons: firstly this was part of the experience of someone buying and playing everything as it was released, if they wanted to use Rossiel on release they didn’t have access to those later cards yet; and secondly this quest starts you in Secrecy so Out of the Wild can make up for the absence of None Return.

Which brings me to my deckbuilding. The setup of the quest reduces each player’s threat to the threat of the one hero they start with, meaning Secrecy is definitely a thing. The significant deckbuilding influencing factor though is of course the Captured deck. One handy point is that because much of your deck is captured it’s easy enough to draw through what’s left; so you can potentially get away with less copies of things while still being pretty consistent. Also because you tend to rescue multiple cards at a time your hand tends to fill up, so effects which depend on discarding may be easier than usual. And then there’s the interesting fact that the location you travel to to finally win the quest raises your threat to 35 so any preceding threat raises really aren’t an issue.
All that’s just guidance, so to get into what I actually want to do with those guidelines – willpower is really important. You can’t rescue your cards if you can’t quest well enough, so we need some willpower that won’t get captured and some that will so we can get more willpower as we’re rescuing stuff. Beyond that, I looked at some of my unused cards from the previous cycles and found there were a couple which seemed like they could fit in alright here. And then I also decided to have Beorn as one of my heroes mostly because I was slightly amused by the idea that the little goblins had somehow managed to take the giant bear prisoner. Beorn smash puny jail cell!

I eneth nin Rossiel

Heroes:
Rossiel
Grima
Theodred

Allies (22):
Harbour Master x3
East Road Ranger x3
Wandering Ent x3
Naith Guide x3
Envoy of Pelargir x3
Gandalf (Core) x2
Warden of Healing x2
Ithilien Tracker x1
Quickbeam x1
Treebeard x1

Attachments (7):
Resourceful x3
Protector of Lorien x2
Steward of Gondor x1
Keys of Orthanc x1

Events (19):
Sneak Attack x3
Daeron’s Runes x3
Deep Knowledge x3
Out of the Wild x3
Keen as Lances x3
Leave No Trace x2
Distant Stars x2

Side-quests (2):
Scout Ahead x1
Gather Information x1

Thoughts: The unused card I saw an opportunity for here was the Harbour Master. Secrecy gives me access to Resourceful to generate extra resources to boost the Harbour Master’s defence, and I can supplement that with Steward of Gondor, Keys of Orthanc, and Theodred. Grima of course works out great here because as noted, any threat raises before I travel to the Southern Gate are irrelevant. The nature of this quest makes Leave No Trace a bit easier – usually I’d have a debate over whether I want 3 copies for consistency or less because I probably only want to use it once, but with my deck shrunk due to all the captured stuff (and still having card draw) 2 copies should still be pretty consistent.
As far as willpower goes, on the allies front the Ents are the best I can get, plus the East Road Rangers, who while they won’t help as much for rescuing my cards from the main quest may make it noticeably easier to clear out locations with captured cards under them if I quest to a side-quest while it’s active. Protector of Lorien will also be a big help of course, especially since as I said this quest tends to end up with you having a lot of cards in hand (albeit the amount of resource generation I’ve put in may help offset that, which was another reason for putting it all in).
The one additional interesting idea I’ve got in here is Distant Stars, which I realised is potentially really useful for this quest if you can trigger it (East Road Rangers and Naith Guides are Scouts, Ithilien Tracker is a Ranger, so I have some options there), since I could use it to discard a non-unique active location and thus rescue all the captured cards underneath it, then replace it with another location which would capture more cards for me to rescue in the next Quest phase (since the Capture keyword triggers on entering play, not just being revealed).
My starting hero here will be Rossiel, since it’s her pack.

A Caged Hawk and Bear

Heroes:
Idraen
Mablung
Beorn

Allies (26):
Galadriel’s Handmaiden x3
West Road Traveller x3
Curious Brandybuck x3
Elven Jeweller x3
Legolas x3
Honour Guard x3
Henneth Annun Guard x3
Defender of Rammas x3
Arwen Undomiel x2

Attachments (12):
Elven Mail x3
Unexpected Courage x3
Resourceful x3
Blade of Gondolin x2
Light of Valinor x1

Events (12):
A Test of Will x3
A Watchful Peace x3
Feint x3
Keen as Lances x3

Thoughts: In this case the card I saw an opportunity for was Elven Mail, albeit it won’t be this deck that uses it. It’s for Rossiel, since she can become a strong defender but lacks a Sentinel keyword and certainly wouldn’t say no to a couple of extra hit points. The Henneth Annun Guard is also making his first Line Unbroken appearance here but he fits nicely since he’s another way to give Rossiel Sentinel (as is ally Arwen of course), he’s more affordable with Mablung, and the Doomed won’t matter if I trigger it before I go to the Southern Gate. Light of Valinor is obviously also intended for Rossiel, as is Unexpected Courage, though having some of those on this side may help before the decks join back up again.
A Watchful Peace is intended to maybe let me recycle a useful location like the Prison Cell. The Elven Jeweller should work well with this quest’s tendency to flood your hand with cards. Blades of Gondolin will work alright since all the enemies are Orcs. Curious Brandybucks are also a decent fit since they can be put into play for free on travelling and when they leave they go to the bottom of the deck, which thanks to everything being captured isn’t as far away as it might usually be. For a deck with 1 Spirit hero to 2 Tactics the sphere ratio of cards in the deck is maybe a bit off, but that can be evened out by the extra starting resources and Resourcefuls. I need more Spirit cards because I need that willpower.
On this side my starting hero will be Idraen because once again, I need that willpower. If I rescue some decent willpower allies I want to be able to play them without needing to wait until I rescue one of my heroes first, especially since I can’t control when I rescue her specifically.

RingsDB:
http://ringsdb.com/fellowship/view/2566/the-line-unbroken-escape-from-mount-gram
http://ringsdb.com/decklist/view/5250/the-line-unbroken-escape-from-mount-gram-deck-1-1.0
http://ringsdb.com/decklist/view/5251/the-line-unbroken-escape-from-mount-gram-deck-2-1.0

Youtube: Escape from Mount Gram

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3 Responses to The Line Unbroken – 47: Escape from Mount Gram

  1. Brian Stephens says:

    Thanks for the Info about the Quest Specific Action Menu which can automatically create the Captured Deck. (The first half dozen times I played this Scenario on Octagon I created it manually.)

    Another good “shortcut” is after placing the first of your randomly chosen heroes into the Captured deck, shuffle it, then place your other hero in the sideboard deck holder (remove any sideboard cards you have first). Then add the first 6 cards of your captured deck into the sideboard deck; shuffle the sideboard deck, then place these 7 cards face down under the Stage 2 quest card. There is now no need to use the random function to choose which cards are rescued, you just grab them from top down to bottom since they have already been randomised.

    Like

    • PocketWraith says:

      Yeah, the quest specific action is so useful. I’d hate having to do the whole thing manually.

      Using the sideboard to shuffle the first 7 captured cards is an interesting thought, but leaving aside that it wouldn’t work if your deck actually had a sideboard, I generally feel like generating the random numbers isn’t the big time-sink in this quest – what gets tedious is just dragging all of the captured cards onto the table.

      Like

  2. Brian Stephens says:

    Forgot to mention that you need to set the Visibility on the Sideboard deck to Nobody

    Like

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