6 AP Challenge: Treachery of Rhudaur/The Dread Realm

6 AP Challenge: Introduction
6 AP Challenge: Return to Mirkwood & The Long Dark
6 AP Challenge: The Dunland Trap/Across the Ettenmoors Preamble
6 AP Challenge: The Dunland Trap/Across the Ettenmoors
6 AP Challenge: Treachery of Rhudaur/The Dread Realm Preamble

So as planned on Sunday I played through the last two quests in the 6 AP Challenge, Treachery of Rhudaur and The Dread Realm. The playthroughs themselves went less according to plan, but I made it through. Actually, the first thing to go not quite as planned was me winning Treachery of Rhudaur on the first attempt – it would’ve felt more satisfying if I’d started with a loss and then bounced back to a victory rather than starting by winning and then continuing to demonstrate that that wasn’t a result I could consistently repeat. Dread Realm was a bit more as intended in this regard…

So here are the decks first off:

Treachery of Rhudaur

Aragorn (Ld)
Legolas (Ta)

Allies (24):
Gandalf (Core) x3
Erestor x3
Faramir x3
Naith Guide x3
Snowbourn Scout x3
Gondorian Spearman x3
Galadhrim Weaver x3
West Road Traveller x3

Attachments (12):
Steward of Gondor x3
Celebrian’s Stone x3
Blade of Gondolin x3
Unexpected Courage x3

Events (14):
Sneak Attack x3
Valiant Sacrifice x3
Feint x3
A Test of Will x3
Close Call x2

The thought here was that while I’d have questing issues early on I could at least be reasonably prepared for combat with Aragorn, Legolas and Amarthiul ready each round, and Legolas’ ability could help make up for a willpower shortage. So Blades of Gondolin were a natural choice to further that idea. Fortunately of course Celebrian’s Stone allowed me access to Spirit, and while I was initially trying to keep the number of Spirit cards down, after the first couple of tests I realised Spirit was my only good source of additional willpower. I also realised based on those tests that I could use a bit more card draw, hence Valiant Sacrifice, which between Sneak Attack Gandalf and some chumps would be expected to trigger easily enough.
Defence was also a problem, with my best option being Amarthiul, followed by Aragorn, and no access to healing. That’s why I put in Close Call, to give me some extra options or save me in an emergency – though of course it only works to stop damage to heroes, so I have to be somewhat cautious with Amarthiul.
In the preamble post I said this had the potential to be the most difficult since it wouldn’t allow me to turtle too long before advancing – that was certainly kind of true, but in retrospect I’d say The Dread Realm definitely turned out more difficult.

The Dread Realm

Denethor (Lo)

Allies (28):
Gandalf (Core) x3
Faramir x3
Naith Guide x3
Gondorian Spearman x3
Veteran Axehand x3
Gleowine x3
Warden of Healing x3
Erebor Hammersmith x3
Wellinghall Preserver x3
Henamarth Riversong x1

Attachments (8):
Steward of Gondor x3
Ring Mail x3
Celebrian’s Stone x2

Events (14):
Sneak Attack x3
Grim Resolve x3
Feint x3
Secret Paths x3
Close Call x2

Here my original thought was that Gloin could work well for this quest since I could take some undefended attacks from Reanimated Dead and generate resources that way. Of course with my limited card pool including no means of sphere-smoothing, finding things to spend all those Leadership resources on was difficult. Faramir and Grim Resolve were the only really obvious good options.
Dori I had in mind to potentially use his ability to help deal with stronger enemies so either Denethor could defend them safely or Gloin could defend them taking damage but not dying. Of course that latter scenario was very unlikely to come up due to a shortage of willpower once again, and in general I mostly just used Dori for his stats and Tactics access. Given the general desire for direct damage to get rid of Sorceries, Gondorian Spearmen were obviously a must for this deck. Ring Mail is also potentially significant, more for the ability to add an extra hit point or two to Gloin. I could use Citadel Plate, but affording it would be a problem unless I put Steward onto Dori. I also obviously needed some more attack power – my defences are OK but that won’t help if I can’t kill the enemies, so enter Veteran Axehands.
Denethor was the hero I thought I was more likely to use for just his stats, but of course that ability is incredibly powerful in solo play. I initially tried to have less Lore cards, especially expensive ones, figuring I could save Denethor’s resources to ready a Warden of Healing and keep Gloin in good shape, but once again testing revealed a shortage of critical willpower, so in came Secret Paths and Wellinghall Preservers to sort out my questing, and I decided Steward had to go on Denethor (previously I’m not sure what I was doing with it or if it was even in the deck).
Celebrian’s Stone was a card I debated a bit – the extra willpower is obviously good and Gloin can afford it, but it uses up a Restricted slot which could be instead devoted to a second Ring Mail. I figured the willpower was more important though.
Close Call once again makes an appearance, as a safety valve for shadow effects taking attack too high to survive, whether it’s a regular defence or Gloin trying to generate some resources. Another way I can keep my characters safer of course is by using Henamarth to scry the first shadow card each round.
The most significant lack I feel in this deck is readying. Grim Resolve is great for big rounds, but having access to Cram could potentially do a lot. Maybe I should’ve used The White Council again.
As noted above, I would say Dread Realm definitely turned out to be the most difficult of the six quests – which is not unexpected since it is the most difficult of the six under normal circumstances and I used up some of my better hero options against easier quests due to particular ideas I had (e.g. Erestor and Arwen are two incredibly powerful heroes and they probably would’ve made this quest easier).

So here’s the video: https://youtu.be/4ID8nklbXgw

Looking back on this challenge as a whole I’d say it was one of the most difficult things I’ve tried to do in this game, and really interesting as a result. I commented in the preamble for the last two quests that having a restricted card pool can really help you appreciate some of the cards you do have access to, and that sentiment definitely bears repeating.
I also would hold up my performance in this challenge as evidence of how much easier solo can be compared to multiplayer. Of course you can do crazy things in multiplayer as well but they tend to be combos which would require a specific card pool unlikely to be produced by the random draw I used for this challenge. So I rather doubt I could have been as successful at this as I was if I had to do it two-handed rather than solo. It might have made some things easier assuming I could then use each hero twice since I could better spread out the good heroes and I wouldn’t find myself missing significant mechanics like cancellation or healing for some quests, but on the other hand the step up to revealing two encounter cards every round instead of one I think would have made it much less practical to take the fairly sedate approach I took to most of the quests. One card per round isn’t too hard to keep under control, two per round is tricky, three or four is nigh impossible without getting into shenanigans territory.
Of course saying this is one of the most difficult things I’ve done is interesting since I did actually complete this challenge in its entirety, whereas I had a fair few failures doing the No Attachments and All Attachments decks, but even with the difficulties they had those decks still felt like strong decks that were just getting hit by the wrong draws; whereas the decks for this were very difficult to build as I was lacking a lot of natural choices for cards, and playing them sometimes had more of the feeling that I was fighting against my own deck and forcing it to do things it wasn’t particularly equipped to do. Accumulating large amounts of attack power was a difficulty a few times – with a full card pool there are a variety of ways to do it, but with my severely limited one there wasn’t much I could do but stack up 1 and 2 attack allies over time.
Honestly I struggle to think of a time I’ve had that sort of feeling of really being unequipped to deal with the problems I was facing since I was new to the game – possibly when I was less good at deckbuilding and certainly when I was just starting out and trying the Core starter decks. But in this case it wasn’t that my decks contained poorly chosen cards – I picked the cards I used with care; it’s just that the limitations on my card pool meant I was forced to choose sub-par options because I just didn’t have better ones in a lot of cases.

I’m not sure if I’ll ever want to repeat this challenge. Obviously it’s one I could repeat simply enough – just randomise another six adventure packs and off I go again. But the difficulties of it are ones I may be reluctant to repeat. On the other hand, I got some bad luck with my precise selection of random APs. While it’s certainly not an absolute, it’s a reasonable rule of thumb to say that quests have gotten more difficult as the game has gone on (up to a point), so getting 3 Angmar Awakened quests is in general liable to be a bit of a difficulty spike. Of course one of the three was Across the Ettenmoors which is less difficult, but then Dunland Trap is a bit higher than average difficulty for Ring-maker, and Return to Mirkwood is the only actually difficult quest I could’ve gotten out of Shadows of Mirkwood, which otherwise would’ve been great fodder for me to use up some less powerful heroes without fear of them failing me. So a bit more luck could lead to an easier time on the challenge. One thing I could do as a variation would be to specifically randomly select one adventure pack from each cycle so I hopefully get a nicer difficulty curve.

So, I may repeat this challenge in the future, I may not. In the nearer future, my next stream (on Sunday 20/8/17 unless something comes up) will probably just be playing some random quests, and then I might jump onto some other one shot challenges. Whatever I do next, look out for it.

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