The Line Unbroken – N11: Nightmare The Seventh Level

Seventh Level was the first Nightmare quest I ever played, and I beat it first try, which gives it something of a special place in my heart. In truth, it’s not an overly difficult quest, though the Nightmare deck does introduce some tricky elements which can easily screw you over depending on when they hit and in what combination. Regardless, I do expect this to be a fun one.

The significant concern from the base quest was of course that it’s something of an enemy swarm, trying to cover you with lots of Goblins who are individually weak but can win through weight of numbers. The Nightmare deck accentuates this aspect and introduces a new one in some cards which cause negative effects based on Goblin enemies having resources on them, and of course cards which add resources to the Goblins. This can be very interesting but can also be very frustrating – on the other hand it can also sometimes be entirely ineffectual, wherein cards add resource to Goblins while no Goblins are in play, or Goblins are in play with stacks of resources which aren’t actually having any effect on the game. I kind of wish the Nightmare deck modified things even more, to have the whole resources mechanic baked into the quest a lot more so it’d be a much more consistent theme rather than one which comes and goes according to the whims of the encounter deck – and in exchange we could take out a few more of the ridiculous cards from the base quest *cough*Chieftain of the Pit*cough*.
That said, the idea of resources on enemies was revisited in much more detail with the Corsair enemies in the Dream-chaser cycle, so I suppose these Goblins were kind of the mechanical precursors of those Corsairs. There’s also one enemy in the quest, the Orc Taskmaster, who causes all the Goblins to have the effect which we later saw on Shelob in Shelob’s Lair:

So we can definitely see how some mechanical ideas which cropped up first in earlier Nightmare quests have later been refined for other quests.

My big focus for this quest is going to be direct damage. It was always a strong option because of the low hit points of a lot of the Goblin enemies, and the existence of the Orc Taskmaster just makes it even more significant. Mighty Prowess in particular can be a fantastic card for this quest since all but two of the enemies are Orcs. Of course, a direct damage focus means a significant Tactics presence, which could hurt my questing ability, but I can find ways around that problem. The other problem is defending all the Goblins. I can’t kill them all with direct damage, so I’m going to need some decent defenders.
As events transpired, I saw a perfect opportunity to record this episode while not having the decks built yet. So I built them hastily in about 10 minutes, immediately before recording. As a result, there are some oddities, and some things I’d change if I were to take more time over them, but on the other hand I feel like the rough and unrefined nature of the decks is interesting in a different way to something which has been repeatedly tested and tweaked. And I beat the quest anyway, so what does it matter?

Reckless Exploration

Heroes:
Gloin
Frodo Baggins
Beravor

Allies (22):
Arwen Undomiel x3
Gleowine x3
Master of the Forge x3
Warden of Healing x3
Erestor x3
Envoy of Pelargir x3
Gandalf (Core) x3
Henamarth Riversong x1

Attachments (16):
Ever My Heart Rises x3
Unexpected Courage x3
Fast Hitch x3
Narvi’s Belt x3
Dunedain Signal x2
Boot from Erebor x2

Events (12):
Sneak Attack x3
Daeron’s Runes x3
A Test of Will x3
The Galadhrim’s Greeting x3

Thoughts: Gloin and Frodo can both make for pretty solid defensive solutions against the hordes of Goblins, and they can work from pretty early in the game. With 2 Dunedain Signals and 3 Arwens it shouldn’t be long before Frodo is a Sentinel either, which is important since the other deck has all the attack power. Beravor was a choice I originally made when I was thinking of putting Hama in the other deck and so I wanted to have definite card draw to fuel him, but that card draw is good regardless and helped me justify skipping some other card draw options (though I still have a couple).
So, two glaring omissions from this deck are Steward of Gondor and King Under the Mountain. Steward I figured I didn’t really need since Gloin would generate plenty of resources and could use Narvi’s Belt to cover other spheres. King Under the Mountain I think was just an oversight, though I’ve got plenty of card draw anyway so I don’t particularly need it.
Master of the Forge is probably superfluous to be honest, he’d probably be the first thing I’d cut. What I’d replace him with, based on how the playthrough went, would probably be Hasty Stroke for some added security.
Ever My Heart Rises will be useful for the readying and for keeping threat under control, and of course it triggers on every location in this quest since we’re in Moria and everything is Underground. Galadhrim’s Greetings can also add a lot of threat reduction, which may be necessary depending on how much I use Frodo.

Unmatched Prowess

Heroes:
Theoden
Merry
Thalin

Allies (16):
Bofur x3
Gondorian Spearman x3
Watcher of the Bruinen x3
Westfold Outrider x3
Vassal of the Windlord x3
Landroval x1

Attachments (21):
Citadel Plate x3
Mighty Prowess x3
Spear of the Citadel x3
Blade of Gondolin x3
Dagger of Westernesse x3
Keeping Count x3
Book of Eldacar x3

Events (13):
Feint x3
Foe-hammer x3
Goblin-cleaver x3
Swift Strike x2
Rain of Arrows x2

Thoughts: Tactics Theoden continues to be more useful than he’s often given credit for – I wanted to be mono-Tactics to make use of all the direct damage, including Mighty Prowess, but with Theoden in I don’t have to give up questing power to do it. Thalin obviously is inevitable in a direct damage deck. As mentioned above, I considered using Hama (to recycle direct damage events), but I ended up going with Merry for the lower threat, higher willpower and easier readying for multiple attacks. Merry can get readying from Fast Hitches played by the other deck and use his own ability to ready Theoden, to maximum use out of Mighty Prowess and leaving my Restricted slots free for Weapons rather than Rohan Warhorses. I can of course still recycle some events by using the Book of Eldacar.
Speaking of Weapons, Blades of Gondolin will obviously provide the attack boost against everything except the two Cave Trolls and make me more quest progress, while Daggers of Westernesse will start as a bigger attack boost and drop off later. Crucially, both can be used to trigger Foe-hammer and Goblin-cleaver (which will be very effective, doing 3 damage to low HP Goblins and is my most likely candidate for recycling with the Book of Eldacar). Spears of the Citadel meanwhile are most likely going to be played on allies – a Gondorian Spearman with a Spear plus Thalin ensures that I can kill any enemy with 3 or less hit points without worrying about taking any damage from its attack. I’m also going to try putting a Spear on the Watcher of the Bruinen – with the boost from Arwen he can be 3 defence, which will hold up pretty well against the weak enemies in this quest, I have good draw with Foe-hammer, Beravor and Bofur to fund the discards for keeping him in play, and so that should hopefully allow me to never get overwhelmed by too many enemies, and also spread a bunch more direct damage around.
Keeping Count is an odd inclusion, but since I do have pretty good draw, I should be able to get 2 copies out, and if there’s a gap between the first and second that just means a bigger attack boost when it does get into play. Vassal of the Windlord/Rain of Arrows is something I wouldn’t generally bother with, but with Thalin and many 2 hit points enemies it should be pretty effective. Swift Strike is a bit costly, but gives me a greater density of direct damage cards so I’m more likely to draw one in a timely fashion. Citadel Plate obviously is for Gloin in the other deck. Landroval is purely speculative, it’s unlikely I’ll be able to afford him or need to play him, but there was nothing else I really felt the need to fill that final card slot with.

RingsDB:
http://ringsdb.com/fellowship/view/3070/the-line-unbroken-nm-the-seventh-level
http://ringsdb.com/decklist/view/5987/the-line-unbroken-nm-the-seventh-level-deck-1-1.0
http://ringsdb.com/decklist/view/5988/the-line-unbroken-nm-the-seventh-level-deck-2-1.0

Youtube: https://youtu.be/-cPiaICZd2k

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