Deckbuilding Challenge: Uncaptured Mount Gram

Time for another deckbuilding challenge, I figured following on from two weeks ago doing Shadow of the Past I’d do another scenario specific challenge. It’s also neat timing since I’ve just played Escape from Mount Gram for The Line Unbroken. So, the challenge I’m doing this time was suggested by rsdockery on the FFG forums, and was to play Escape from Mount Gram having no cards captured other than my two additional heroes.

This was an interesting challenge to take on. On the one hand, you bypass the Capture mechanics which tend to fill up your hand with your useful cards once you get through an appreciable number of locations or enemies. It also inherently means I cannot have any allies in my deck, which is something of a challenge in and of itself – on the other hand doing it for one specific quest rather than just in a generic deck may be easier.
The other side of this is that with only two captured cards, you can blitz through stage 2 really fast and go straight to stage 3. But then that’s when things get harder with the shuffling in of the Angmar Orcs encounter set and adding Jailor Gornakh and the Southern Gate to the staging area. Plus reveals another card, so since you potentially reach this point on round 1 the risk of experiencing staging lock in round 2 is not insignificant especially with no allies to contribute additional willpower. And focusing all out on the willpower is a risky prospect since you can only avoid combat for so long.

So, first thought – with high willpower and not a lot of threat in the quest-specific encounter set, chances are decent that I can rescue my two heroes instantly. Which points me towards a high willpower starting hero such as, say, Eowyn.
Second thought – I want to deal with Jailor Gornakh quickly, to get rid of his threat from the staging area if nothing else. Combining these two considerations, maybe Tactics Eowyn could be the way to go.
Coming off those ideas my initial attempt used Tactics Eowyn, Sam and Spirit Beregond. I wanted Sam for access to Leadership so I could play the Signal attachments, those being an effective way of getting stat boosts on my heroes without needing Items, Mounts or Artifacts which I can’t have because they’d get captured. It failed because I didn’t have enough willpower in the long run to get past what was mounting up in the staging area, I didn’t have enough attack power to kill enemies when I engaged them beyond Eowyn smashing Gornakh, and I didn’t have enough card draw to find any cards which might have helped with either of those issues. Back to the drawing board.
So I need an attacker who doesn’t need weapons. Enter Treebeard, who is also a good defender and quester if I can get him some action advantage. It’s frustrating for this that the only non-Item hit point boost is Vigilant Guard (which would require Valiant Warrior first), but at least I can heal with Self Preservation since that’s a Skill. I also get the Lore card draw out of this. Self Preservation’s a bit on the expensive side, I can have Resourcefuls to help out, but some more resource generation wouldn’t go amiss… oh hello Arwen, yes you would as usual be a perfect fit. Some cursory testing indicated that I didn’t really need to Elf-friend Treebeard so Arwen could give him resources, between Good Harvest, Resourceful, and just saving up I could easily get enough. What I felt I could use a bit more of was means of discarding Elven-light to draw faster. Enter Protector of Lorien, which I’m not entirely sure how I forgot in the first place. Honestly I think that sums up the majority of the deck, here’s the list:

No Jail Can Hold Us

Heroes:
Eowyn (Ta)
Arwen Undomiel
Treebeard

Attachments (17):
Self Preservation x3
Protector of Lorien x3
Unexpected Courage x3
Resourceful x3
Song of Travel x3
Strider x2

Events (33):
Elven-light x3
A Test of Will x3
Elrond’s Counsel x3
Lay of Nimrodel x3
Daeron’s Runes x3
Deep Knowledge x3
Feint x3
Unseen Strike x3
Quick Strike x3
Battle-fury x3
A Good Harvest x3

Resourcefuls are intended for Treebeard to afford Self Preservation and Arwen to afford lots of Elven-light. Good Harvest and Song of Travel can also help, Song of Travel additionally enables Lay of Nimrodel for some big quest pushes. Protector of Lorien is more to keep the Elven-light engine going than to help with willpower, but it does that as well. Strider works for the willpower boost since I have no allies. Obviously Self Preservation and Unexpected Courage are intended for Treebeard, as are the two Strike events and Battle-fury (the latter, though not well received on release, can work quite nicely with Treebeard since his damage increases his attack to kill the enemy and his willpower for questing). That’s basically all there is to it, the concept is very simple – I did my best to pare it down to just the bare essentials and it works pretty well.

Like last time, I’ll try it, maybe more than once even if it works first time, against the quest and then probably move on to trying it against the Nightmare version of the quest (which in this case I’ve actually never played before so it could go horribly wrong). As usual, I will be streaming on Sunday at 8pm BST on http://www.twitch.tv/pocketwraith, and the VOD will go up on youtube afterwards.

The VOD split itself in two for some reason, but here it is:

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