The Line Unbroken – N24: Nightmare Battle of Five Armies

Almost done with The Hobbit Nightmares. Battle of Five Armies is a quest a lot of people like a lot, but personally I’m not that big a fan, and my feelings become more negative in the transition to the Nightmare version. Between the streamlining and the Nightmare deck there are too many potentially game-ending cards in my opinion – to the point where this post was somewhat delayed by me repeatedly failing and eventually deciding I needed to rebuild my decks to stand a better chance.

So what’s so bad about Nightmare 5 Armies? Well, firstly I would call back to a comment in my recent Design Debates post on multiplayer scaling – Surge is fine so long as the designers are careful about where they put it. Bolg adding Surge to the first Goblin every round is not exactly what I would call being careful about it, and the selection of Nightmare enemies is rather less Surge-appropriate than the standard difficulty selection. Heedless of Order is a card I’ve really come to dislike and it really doesn’t need to Surge – the corresponding treachery in Treachery of Rhudaur is OK because while it throws your plans into disarray it doesn’t impact your questing because all the quests there are willpower-based; but here switching between willpower/Battle/Siege means the forced switch has quite possibly gutted your questing power way worse than just revealing a high threat card. Between the low engagement cost of Great Warg and the existence of Dread Has Come! it’s all too possible to lose the progress you’ve earned in ways you can’t really control. The Gundabad Elite, while very tough to deal with, is a design I’m OK with – except I don’t understand why it can’t be optionally engaged. Players would often leave it in the staging area anyway if they’re not ready to deal with it but it should be in the players’ control whether they continue facing that effect or deal with the enemy. Oh, and Weighed Down is still a stupid card. I think that’s everything, the rest is tough but in more acceptable ways – but then all the stuff I just called out accounts for almost a third of the encounter deck and this quest throws around a fair bit of Surge.

So having gone over all the reasons why I might prefer not to be playing this quest, how am I going to beat it? Well, a serious emphasis on combat power is important since the quest can be something of an enemy swarm and also requires Battle and Siege questing, so a glut of combat ability to cover both at once is important. I can’t neglect willpower but it’s perhaps not quite as important. While there’s no longer one in the encounter deck, Eagles are still good for Battle/Siege. Characters (especially heroes) with well-rounded statlines make sense since then they can consistently quest and always be useful. Given that stage 4 discards any remaining resources at the end of each round, means of spending efficiently, including means of moving resources around between heroes, are to be recommended. Beyond that, the quest is brutal, most of all at the start so I need to just go for power and anything that will give me a quick boost.

Elves and Men and Dwarves

Heroes:
Balin
Prince Imrahil
Idraen

Allies (20):
Gandalf (Core) x3
Envoy of Pelargir x3
Errand-rider x3
Naith Guide x3
Herald of Anorien x3
Imladris Stargazer x3
Arwen Undomiel x2

Attachments (12):
Steward of Gondor x3
King Under the Mountain x3
Light of Valinor x3
Unexpected Courage x3

Events (18):
Legacy of Numenor x3
Sneak Attack x3
Campfire Tales x3
We Are Not Idle x3
A Test of Will x3
The Galadhrim’s Greeting x3

Thoughts: There are some potential shadow effect problems in this quest, so Balin is a decent choice as always. Having a Dwarf hero also allows me to use King Under the Mountain and potentially gain an extra resource with We Are Not Idle. Meanwhile Imrahil and Idraen both have versatile stats and innate readying so they’ll always be useful for questing and can then still be ready for combat afterwards. The action advantage theme is furthered by Light of Valinor (intended specifically for Elrond in the other deck), Unexpected Courage (for whoever needs it, most likely Elrond or Legolas) and Naith Guides.
With Envoys of Pelargir and Errand-riders I can be somewhat flexible as to where my resources end up, while Steward of Gondor, the aforementioned We Are Not Idle and of course Legacy of Numenor can generate plenty of extra ones. Added to that I can use Herald of Anorien to further accelerate my board state on either side of the table.
Of course the one significant hazard of using Doomed for the fast start I really want in this quest is the risk of high threat. This deck can drop its threat with Gandalf (who also helps establish that fast start), and The Galadhrim’s Greeting works for either, but most likely the other deck. A 3-cost event with only one Spirit hero might seem questionable, but then I have Errand-riders to reorganise my resources. And I have a pretty good amount of card draw to make sure I find everything I need.

Coming Down the Wind

Heroes:
Elrond
Boromir (Ta)
Legolas

Allies (19):
Eagles of the Misty Mountains x3
Vassal of the Windlord x3
Winged Guardian x3
Envoy of Pelargir x3
Master of the Forge x3
Warden of Healing x3
Gwaihir x1

Attachments (14):
Vilya x3
Lembas x3
Gondorian Shield x3
Blade of Gondolin x3
Rivendell Blade x2

Events (18):
Daeron’s Runes x3
Deep Knowledge x3
Foe-hammer x3
Feint x3
Hands Upon the Bow x3
Elrond’s Counsel x3

Thoughts: Regardless of the recent errata (which I will be adhering to), Boromir is still a great hero, especially so when Battle and Siege questing are on the agenda, since he can quest effectively and still have two actions available for combat. Legolas could contribute to Battle questing but primarily he’s included here to kill things and place progress on the quest(s) by doing so. With Hands Upon the Bow he can place progress on a quest before staging/quest resolution and thus potentially avoid some negative effects. Finally Elrond accelerates the deck through Vilya, has flexible stats so he’s always a good quester (preferably with Light of Valinor) and can still use his resources to pay for the Eagles which are a significant part of the strategy. The healing boost is also useful and he enables use of Elrond’s Counsel (once he has a Spirit icon from Vilya) to help control all the threat from Doomed, starting at 33, and Boromir.
Eagles can cover Battle and Siege questing fantastically, and then combat as well (actions depending). I have plenty of card draw to find all the important things (Deep Knowledge also helps the first deck). Envoys of Pelargir like in the first deck allow for some flexibility with resources. Lembas is included more because it’s action advantage than for the healing (which should be adequately covered by Wardens) but that’s a nice bonus. As far as the choice of weapons goes, one Rivendell Blade is the best boost I can give to Legolas, but a second would be fairly redundant so beyond that Blades of Gondolin are the idea – they give a +1 against Orcs, which covers most of the enemies in the quest, and supplements the quest progress Legolas himself is generating.

RingsDB:
http://ringsdb.com/fellowship/view/4300/the-line-unbroken-nm-battle-of-five-armies
http://ringsdb.com/decklist/view/7926/the-line-unbroken-nm-battle-of-five-armies-deck-1-1.0
http://ringsdb.com/decklist/view/7927/the-line-unbroken-nm-battle-of-five-armies-deck-2-1.0

Youtube: https://youtu.be/zA73SNP5f2g

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