The Line Unbroken – N29: Nightmare The Druadan Forest

The Druadan Forest in standard difficulty is a quest which I and a lot of people have rather mixed feelings about given the presence of some very swingy effects, among them the potential for frankly ridiculous amounts of Archery damage. The Nightmare version doesn’t fix those issues, but it does nevertheless receive a lot of love for how unique it is as a twist on the standard mechanics not just of the individual quest but of the game in general.

The big twist to which I refer is of course that every hero starts the game with 5 resources (and gets refilled to 3 at stage 2 of the quest), but does not generate resources normally in the Resource phase each round. It was an interesting idea to try and reverse the normal run of things – usually the start of the game is difficult until you get up and running and then becomes a lot easier once you get your stuff together, while this Nightmare quest was supposed to reverse that and have you in a secure position at the start which would be gradually eroded over the course of the quest. In practice one can question the exact implementation of this – admittedly the Prowl keyword and other effects can sap those resources faster than usual, but the fact remains that you’ll get 5-8 resources per hero to work with, and a lot of games last in the region of 5-8 rounds, so you can still get about as much into play as normal, but it’s more front-loaded, which can easily equate to easier, though it’s not guaranteed.
Regardless of how far it succeeded in achieving that specific intention, it certainly does make the quest an interesting one to play. There are of course a variety of potential options for dealing with it – common approaches involve bringing resource generation effects which are not affected by the Nightmare restriction and/or cost reduction to make the resources you have last longer, so you can continue playing cards and also handle the various effects in the quest which sap your resources or require you to still have them. For this, however, I intend to have a slightly different strategy. Rather than trying to balance my resources between playing cards and satisfying encounter card effects I’m just going to use them all (or as many as possible) to play cards and try to just plough through the effects with the resulting board state. Certainly Prowl and any other resource sapping effects can’t hurt me if I have no resources to sap, but I do have to be concerned about anything which causes a negative effect *unless* you have/spend resources. A look at the various encounter card effects can certainly guide me in some useful directions however.
Since the idea is to quickly accumulate a powerful board state and then let it carry me to the end, I want to prioritise permanent board state additions rather than temporary effects – so events are less likely to feature. Obviously any card which costs 0 is more feasible to use. Any means of benefitting by discarding cards means they can remain useful even when I have no resources to play them any more. Given the existence of Leaves on Tree I cannot trust my attachments to stay in play, so allies are the main order of the day. This also works out nicely since Stars in Sky will end up removing my heroes from the quest once I’m out of resources. I must bear in mind the need for Siege questing on stage 3. Given the large amount of Archery that is one of this quest’s most memorable features, healing is a must. This leads me to Elrond as a hero choice, which leads me to Vilya as something else which doesn’t require resources to improve tmy board state. By this point I realise I’ve actually drifted a certain distance from my initial idea into something which will simply continue to operate at least to some extent throughout the game, but I am still not relying on actually gaining additional resources.

Call Upon Nature


Allies (32):
Treebeard x3
Radagast x3
Eagles of the Misty Mountains x3
Vassal of the Windlord x3
Winged Guardian x3
Trollshaw Scout x3
Booming Ent x3
Wandering Ent x3
Warden of Healing x3
Gildor Inglorion x2
Haldir of Lorien x1
Gwaihir x1
Landroval x1

Attachments (9):
Vilya x3
Elf-stone x3
Thror’s Map x3

Events (9):
Daeron’s Runes x3
Deep Knowledge x3
The Eagles Are Coming! x3

Thoughts: Elrond I already mentioned entered initially for healing purposes but he also enables powering up with Vilya. Grima is a natural inclusion when I’m looking for quick early game power and he also enables me to potentially continue playing any 1-cost cards I draw even without resources. Beorn is also a great hero for early game power. He can cover combat for the first round or two until I have allies to do it.
Ents were a natural choice because allowing for the round of waiting (which is easier to stomach with Beorn for early combat) they give you great value of stats for the resources you pay for them. Eagles got in because The Eagles Are Coming! is a 0-cost card, but of course they’re pretty good for combat in general, and also for Siege questing. As a result I ended up with both Treebeard and Radagast as well, the two allies who generate resources and thus represent another means for me to continue improving my board state. In many ways this is the perfect context for Radagast, because his biggest problem is the difficulty of affording him initially, but that’s fine when you start with 15 resources.
Since I have Vilya I can also use some high cost allies, and then as another means of bringing them I I have Elf-stones, which as noted I can play even without resources thanks to Grima. Thror’s Map also handily remains an option throughout and allows me to skip both Travel costs and in one case a Travel requirement which would otherwise cause me problems given my lack of resources. The Trollshaw Scout gives me a potential use for cards I can’t play.

Will To Overcome The Threat

Fatty Bolger

Allies (24):
Gandalf (OHaUH) x3
Emery x3
Arwen Undomiel x3
Bilbo Baggins x3
Imladris Stargazer x3
Galadriel’s Handmaiden x3
West Road Traveller x3
Pelargir Shipwright x3

Attachments (14):
Light of Valinor x3
Ancient Mathom x3
Hobbit Pipe x3
Good Meal x3
Boots from Erebor x2

Events (12):
A Test of Will x3
The Galadhrim’s Greeting x3
Elrond’s Counsel x3
Strength of Will x3

Thoughts: Eowyn gives great up front willpower and a use for spare cards I can’t play. Fatty Bolger can give me the equivalent of willpower or defence on stage 3 when I need it so long as I have the threat. Galadriel keeps that threat under control and also gives me more cards to work with. The threat aspect is significant also because I had the idea early on to use Hobbit Gandalf since he, like Ents, is fantastic value for resources.
Mostly the allies were chosen to give me the best chances of having a decent amount of willpower available early on if not in my opening hand, plus of course Imladris Stargazers to set up Vilya for the other deck and Emery because she can be put into play by her ability without me needing any resources.
As mentioned above I can’t depend on keeping my attachments, but even if it goes Light of Valinor on Elrond will still be useful, and Ancient Mathoms are temporary anyway so they should work out, while the others are free boosts. The non 0-cost events are included because Test of Will is just so good I’m willing to keep it on the chance things align I have it and a spare resource at any point, while The Galadhrim’s Greeting can be made cheaper or indeed free with Good Meals, and threat is important for both decks (the other deck won’t be raising its threat as much but it starts higher and we mustn’t forget the Doomed). Meanwhile the 0-costs need no other reason – Strength of Will is not a particularly great event, but it’s better than nothing.

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