The Line Unbroken – F11-12: Among the Outlaws

Taking a brief break from official releases, The Line Unbroken is returning to the Tales from the Cards First Age Doom Mastered cycle for the second adventure pack – Among the Outlaws. It’s fortuitous that not only is this the natural narrative break in the Angmar Awakened cycle, it’s also exactly the point when Among the Outlaws was released. Of course Treachery of Rhudaur had some interesting implications for the First Age since it included both a neutral Elf-friend attachment which can easily replace the First Age one, and hero Erestor, who could potentially break the Oath of Silence (though I’ve never actually done this and have no particular intentions of trying it out).

For starters, let’s get my review of the player cards out of the way: Among the Outlaws Card Review

In the blog post for Trial Upon the Marshes I mentioned the reasons I’m not doing the Doom Mastered cycle in campaign mode – the primary reason of not being able to bring in new heroes needs no further comment, but I will mention that this quest really begins my feeling that the Doom Mastered campaign might require a bit more specialisation and so not be as welcoming of all hero lineups compared to the official LotR campaign. Specifically it’s that this quest can both hit the players hard with corruption and also be very rough for threat (especially since one has to deliberately quest unsuccessfully to advance). I’m sure at some point in the future I’ll try a Doom Mastered campaign playthrough though, and I’ll see how I feel about it then.

Anyway, onto actually talking about the quest and building for it. This quest takes place after Turin has gone into self-imposed exile from Doriath after accidentally killing one of Thingol’s councillors. He takes up with a group of men called the Gaurwaith (‘wolf-men’) living in the wilds, raiding villages and so on, until after a while his conscience compels him to confront them about their insalubrious activities and he takes control of the band for himself.
How this is represented is that on stage 1 we’re working with the outlaws, but any time we sabotage their operations by questing unsuccessfully we draw from the Dilemma deck. Each card in the dilemma deck offers a choice between an easier but less moral option siding with the Gaurwaith, and a tougher but more moral option. Once we take the nice option three times we’re put into conflict with the Gaurwaith as we try to take over on stage 2. Stage 1 also loads on a fair amount of corruption, while stage 2 can punish us for the amount of corruption we have. Corruption is obviously a concern, as is threat – partly obviously because I’ll have to raise my threat from questing unsuccessfully, but also because killing the Woodmen on stage 1 adds more corruption whereas leaving them engaged is obviously risky, so keeping them in the staging area is the best option (and leaving threat in the staging area is less problematic than it would be if I weren’t specifically trying to quest unsuccessfully some of the time). Of course given the need to quest unsuccessfully, any means of adjusting my willpower to limit the threat raises after staging will also be welcome.
One notable omission from these decks is Melian. Given her ability to scry the top three cards of the deck, she’s perfect for getting some very precise unsuccessful questing. So why did I leave her out? Frankly, I just forgot, and then couldn’t be bothered to rebuild the decks once I remembered how good she is for this.

Ever Faithful

Heroes:
Beren
Luthien
Bor the Faithful

Allies (14):
Barahir x3
Erestor x3
Morwen x3
Brethil Hound x3
Fostered Son x2

Attachments (18):
Shadowy Cloak x3
Unexpected Courage x3
Elf-friend (Ne) x3
High Kingship of the Noldor x3
Oath of Friendship x2
Angrist x2
Nimphelos x2

Events (15):
Secret Toil x3
Song of Parting x3
Song of Gladness x3
Song of Luthien x3
A Test of Will x3

Side-quests (3):
Gather Information x1
Send for Aid x1
Double Back x1

Thoughts: Since one of Ian’s goals in designing the player cards for this pack was to boost Beren and Beren/Luthien decks, it seemed a decent idea to use one, and obviously I’m bringing in the new hero Bor as my third.
Morwen, Nimphelos and potentially Luthien (aided by the Shadowy Cloak) are all potentially useful to adjust my questing when I’m trying to deliberately quest unsuccessfully to limit my threat gains. Likewise I’ve got all the threat reduction I could get in, with the intention that I’ll be able to stay consistently below engagement costs and thus avoid taking all the corruption I would end up taking by killing the Woodmen (or getting screwed over by having all of them staying engaged and attacking me over and over).
Secret Toil is a great possibility for this quest since given I not only have no requirement to make progress but actually want to quest unsuccessfully to advance I may well not be questing with all of my heroes and therefore I’ll have the free actions to trigger Secret Toil, thus saving resources and accelerating my deck. The fact stage 1 doesn’t need progress (but I’ll probably still quest successfully for a bit while I build up a board state) makes this a great place for side-quests as well.
Barahir is in to bolster my defence, especially if the other deck is slow to get its Elven Mail sorted out. Of course a weird issue I’m going to have is that I’ll need Elf-friend in order to play said Elven Mail (as well as High Kingship) because of traits, and that’s an important reason for using the version from Treachery of Rhudaur rather than First Age – in addition to being easier to play because it’s Neutral, it attaches to any hero rather than just Edain.
Finally, the Luthien/Angrist combo can help me deal with some of the enemies, avoiding some attacks I’d otherwise have to deal with and avoiding the corruption from killing the Woodmen since there are no attacking characters.

The Shipwright

Heroes:
Cirdan

Allies (17):
Daeron x3
Dwarf of the Blue Mountains x3
Daeron x3
Elder of the Realm x3
Gondolin Guard x3
Green-elf Ranger x2

Attachments (21):
Solitary Outlaw x1
Resourceful x3
Song of Battle x3
Elven Mail x3
Haudh-en-Ndengin x3
Hidden House x3
Forge of Belegost x2

Events (10):
Secrets of Craft x3
Gildor’s Counsel x3
Dreams from Ulmo x2
Out of the Wild x2

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

Thoughts: The first point I’m going to bring up is the less significant one – I’m completely disregarding the Mastery sphere. It’s always difficult to try and fit five spheres into two decks, and in this particular case I specifically want to avoid any player card effects which add corruption and it’s easier to just lose the whole sphere. The second, more important and interesting point is that this is a Solitary Outlaw deck. Since I was specifically pursuing a low threat approach this seemed the perfect place to actually try out Solitary Outlaw, which is a very interesting card so it’s nice that I have found a place for it. One hero only, but significant stat boosts and action advantage.
Cirdan is intended to become a serious powerhouse between Solitary Outlaw, potentially attaching characters for a further defence boost, Elven Mail (which as noted will require Elf-friend from the other deck since Elven Mail as an official card naturally doesn’t reference the First-Age-only Teleri trait), Burning Brand, and Unexpected Courage(s).
The reason I ended up going with Cirdan was because I figured I’d want healing, and again the lack of progress needed/requirement for unsuccessful questing means I can more easily hold characters back by attaching them to Cirdan to heal them. Then if I need to heal Cirdan I can do it with the Forge of Belegost, which should work pretty well with him having Elven Mail and Nimphelos. Secrets of Craft can likewise work pretty well, and I’ll probably use it to draw for the other deck since this one has Daeron.
For the Elder of the Realm I took a quick look at the treacheries in this quest, and while D is a possibility, the main letter for a treachery I may want to cancel (that I actually can match) is H. Haudh en Ndengin and Hidden House may well be useful given the potential for locations to mount up on stage 1 and my desire to avoid engaging enemies, but that’s only half the reason for including them, with the other half being the potential to cancel Horn-calls. Dreams from Ulmo can help me limit my questing losses by boosting my willpower after staging, while Gildor’s Counsel can make it easier to quest more precisely by making me only reveal one card.

Among the Outlaws

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