The Line Unbroken – N15: Nightmare Watcher in the Water

Watcher in the Water is an odd quest for me. The first several times I played it I didn’t use the most effective strategy for it, that being scrying. I have since tried using scrying against the quest and now I can’t think how I managed so well without it.
The Nightmare deck of course further accentuates how good scrying can be against this quest by making the Doors of Durin compulsory and putting in even more Tentacles. On the other hand this also makes the quest that much more focused.

For the most part this quest came out of the Nightmare conversion very well. There are some kind of problematic cards from the original which are still there (Disturbed Waters), but everything added for Nightmare, while bits of it can be very frustrating to deal with, all tie in nicely to the real focus of the quest, that being the Watcher and the Tentacles. The one Nightmare card I’d throw a real question mark at is Hideous Depths – if they don’t want people to use scrying for this quest then they should’ve just put the anti-scrying effect on the Nightmare rules card, if they want it to still work then it should still work. Something bad happening when you used scrying would’ve been a more interesting idea for the Hideous Depths (say every time you look at any number of cards in the encounter deck, deal 1 damage to a character you control), since that would challenge the players and create interesting strategic decisions, but as it is, it just switches off the whole approach, and the only strategic decisions revolve around how quickly you can explore the location.

In deckbuilding, scrying is significant for this quest. Direct damage is also an effective means of dealing with the Tentacles. Threat control can be significant between Disturbed Waters and Stagnant Creek. Those are the main points for handling this quest. A bit of location control is useful, but it’s really only relevant for one or two locations – the Perilous Swamp which can’t have more than 1 progress each round, and most importantly the Hideous Depths is the one thing in the Nightmare deck which messes with scrying so it’s a top priority to get rid of.
What I came up with didn’t necessarily cover all those elements perfectly, but it certainly worked out interestingly. One issue was that between scrying and a bit of direct damage my ideas didn’t naturally lend themselves towards high starting willpower. And of course I also wanted to keep doing different things. I also wound up potentially a bit short on actual attack, so killing the Watcher might take a few rounds.

Striking the Unknown

Heroes:
Thalin
Eomer
Denethor

Allies (20):
Gondorian Spearman x3
Westfold Outrider x3
Vassal of the Windlord x3
Master of the Forge x3
Warden of Healing x3
Envoy of Pelargir x3
Winged Guardian x2

Attachments (14):
Spear of the Citadel x3
Gondorian Shield x3
Mighty Prowess x2
Firefoot x2
Asfaloth x2
A Burning Brand x2

Events (16):
Daeron’s Runes x3
Deep Knowledge x3
Feint x3
Quick Strike x3
Swift Strike x2
Expecting Mischief x2

Thoughts: With one exception, all the regular Tentacle enemies have 3 hit points, so combining Thalin with either Expecting Mischief (if I’ve scried the deck and know I’m revealing a Tentacle next) or Gondorian Spearman + Spear of the Citadel will kill any of them. This will allow me to avoid most of their Forced effects without needing to scry the deck and check I won’t be discarding a Tentacle enemy or card with a shadow effect. Mighty Prowess and Firefoot can help with other enemies since the Spearman can’t defend everything, and Mighty Prowess in particular gives me the option of damaging the high engagement cost Writhing Tentacles while they’re still in the staging area, or damaging the Watcher by killing other Tentacles. Quick Strike can potentially let me skip one or more defences, and Swift Strike is another direct damage option.
The hero lineup came together fairly naturally – I knew I wanted Thalin for direct damage and Denethor for scrying, and Eomer seemed a good choice of attacking hero partly because I hadn’t used him for Nightmare yet and partly because he gets the extra boost from Firefoot, which is potentially pretty useful direct damage.
With Gondorian Shield and Burning Brand, Denethor can also be a really solid defender, and I want to give him more action advantage anyway for scrying purposes. In the event I want to trigger Eomer’s innate attack boost, basically any of the allies could be used as a chump blocker. I’d rather hold on to Master of the Forge until I have all my important attachments, and if a Gondorian Spearman gets a Spear of the Citadel then he’s really valuable, but otherwise they’re all pretty expendable (though the additional attack from some of them is also significant for killing the Watcher).
Asfaloth is my solution to the Perilous Swamp. Envoys of Pelargir can shift resources in either direction but more likely to Denethor. With some of the effects on the Tentacles and The Watcher, I may well end up with a fair bit of damage around, so I felt Warden of Healing had to be a 3x card. Master of the Forge is my mulligan card as there are so many important attachments.

Happier Days of Close Friendship

Heroes:
Celeborn
Frodo Baggins
Bifur

Allies (23):
Defender of the Naith x3
Naith Guide x3
Lorien Guide x3
Galadhrim Minstrel x3
Master of the Forge x3
Gandalf (Core) x2
Silvan Tracker x2
Haldir of Lorien x1
Henamarth Riversong x1
Arwen Undomiel x1
Bofur (Sp) x1

Attachments (13):
Steward of Gondor x3
O Lorien! x3
Unexpected Courage x3
Fast Hitch x2
Thror’s Map x2

Events (14):
Daeron’s Runes x3
The Tree People x3
Feigned Voices x3
Sneak Attack x3
The Galadhrim’s Greeting x2

Thoughts: My only initial idea for this deck was that I wanted Frodo since he could keep me safe from unexpected Tentacle attack emergencies with his ability. The idea of making it a Silvan deck and consequently most of the rest of the deck came about when I was debating the idea of using Eomer for the other deck and realised Silvans could be a great means of activating his attack boost – though of course I don’t have the full complement of Silvans available to me, and the absence of Galadriel’s Handmaiden does sting a bit, especially given there are potential threat issues in this quest. Of course Sneak Attack and Bofur can also be great Eomer triggers in the right circumstances.
Steward of Gondor is intended to go on Frodo mostly just to make sure I can afford The Galadhrim’s Greeting. Also if I need more Lore resources I can pass them from Frodo to Bifur. Leadership is the sphere I really shouldn’t need more resources for. I possibly should’ve included a third copy of each of Greeting and Gandalf, since the threat reduction can be very significant, but I figured between Daeron’s Runes, Deep Knowledge from the other deck, and Master of the Forge, Galadhrim Minstrels and The Tree People pulling cards out of the deck my draw would probably be good enough to manage. Maybe I was wrong.
There’s one interesting, some might say glaring omission from this deck in the form of A Test of Will. But as crazy as this sounds, when I was cutting the deck down to 50 cards it actually seemed like the thing I could most do without. Basically everything was essential to the core ideas of the deck except perhaps some of the Silvan allies, who I still didn’t want to cut because that would lower the hit-rate of The Tree People. And outside of a couple of low probability cases of cards combining with each other, there actually isn’t anything I’d really feel the need to cancel.
Unexpected Courages are intended for Denethor so I can scry the encounter deck potentially multiple times to try and stop the Tentacles from triggering their effects and get through the Doors of Durin as fast as possible. Fast Hitches obviously will let Frodo quest and defend, potentially defend more than once since he can be boosted by both Arwen and Gondorian Shield if the first deck finds a spare after giving the first to Denethor. He’ll even get the full +2 since he’ll be the Steward. Thror’s Map is my solution to the Hideous Depths – specifically, it’s there in case the Hideous Depths are in the staging area when I advance to stage 2 and have to put Doors of Durin in the active slot. Since I need my scrying to get through the Doors, can’t use scrying until Hideous Depths are explored, and can’t travel to Hideous Depths until I get through the Doors, it’s a classic case of circular requirements (what I tend to refer to as “open the box with the crowbar you find inside”, though “There’s a hole in my bucket” would be equally applicable). However since the Doors are not immune to player card effects, there’s nothing to stop me using Thror’s Map to swap them with Hideous Depths. The fact I skip the Travel cost is just an added bonus.

RingsDB:
http://ringsdb.com/fellowship/view/3311/the-line-unbroken-nm-watcher-in-the-water
http://ringsdb.com/decklist/view/6381/the-line-unbroken-nm-watcher-in-the-water-deck-1-1.0
http://ringsdb.com/decklist/view/6382/the-line-unbroken-nm-watcher-in-the-water-deck-2-1.0

Youtube: https://youtu.be/Fjo3Y6QrlQg

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