The Line Unbroken – N31: Nightmare Assault on Osgiliath

Assault on Osgiliath was one of my favourite quests from the Against the Shadow cycle. The mechanic of taking control of locations mixes things up enough to be interesting but mostly the quest just stands on the solid basic game mechanics. It did however have some issues which potentially allowed the quest to be completed much faster than intended, and of course Power of Mordor and The Master’s Malice made appearances. The Nightmare version fixes these problems.

Specifically, the problems are fixed by the introduction of the Palace Remains, ensuring that players need to take control of at least 6 locations including the Palace Remains before they can win the quest; and Power of Mordor and The Master’s Malice are both removed from the encunter deck. Interestingly while Power of Mordor is completely absent from Nightmare, this is the only relevant quest which removes Master’s Malice. I’ve no idea why, but there it is.
Meanwhile, the other encounter deck alterations notably remove the locations which forced the quest into Battle or Siege, remove some of the more generic cards that don’t fit the specific quest, and give us some more difficult locations to deal with. The Eastern and Western Quarters both have negative effects when taken control of, and return to the staging area if a treachery is cancelled, making them rather difficult to stomach and certainly contributing to a potential for the difficulty to rise as the game goes on, for which I would consider them pretty good design. The one more questionable design I would highlight is Relentless Attack – as a condition which attaches to the current quest, it will remain in play barring a conveniently timed sidequest before reveal or condition removal afterwards; reducing enemy engagement costs isn’t such a big deal since the effect becomes more potent as the players do better; but the additional reveals (which after a certain point become inevitable) will stack up and extend the game, as I had in one memorable case where a solo game got up to a whopping 14 completed rounds because between staging and two extra reveals in the Encounter phase from the two copies of the condition I just kept getting more and more locations and dragging the game on. That aside (and if you bring condition removal it’s not s much of a problem of course) this is a very good Nightmare quest in my opinion.

So how to go about building for this? Well, other than the aforementioned condition removal it’s all pretty generic. Which is somewhat unhelpful for me, far too many options to choose from. Well, there’s also the Ruined Square to consider, which returns to the staging area if a character leaves play, so avoiding chump-blocking and Sneak Attack is certainly an idea. Beyond that, I decided to go for a somewhat thematic choice and put together a Gondor deck on one side, while the other side went through a couple of different ideas before I settled on this.

Send All Able Swords

Heroes:
Balin
Boromir (Ld)
Denethor

Allies (29):
Envoy of Pelargir x3
Faramir x3
Citadel Custodian x3
Errand-rider x3
Herald of Anorien x3
Pelargir Ship Captain x3
Guard of the Citadel x3
Warden of Healing x3
Ithilien Tracker x3
Galadhrim Minstrel x2

Attachments (9):
Steward of Gondor x3
King Under the Mountain x3
Visionary Leadership x3

Events (12):
A Very Good Tale x3
We Are Not Idle x3
Grim Resolve x3
Daeron’s Runes x3

Thoughts: A fairly standard Gondor swarm, with Balin included to allow King Under the Mountain (the shadow cancellation is also nice). A Very Good Tale is a card I don’t actually use very often despite how good it is, but a deck like this is the most obvious context for it and so I wanted to throw it out there. Given that, it was a natural decision to have a ton of allies and cut down my attachments and events to the bare essentials, plus Grim Resolve – I initially tried building a mono-Leadership deck with Strength of Arms, and after introducing Denethor instead of a third Leadership hero I still liked the idea of having access to the global readying for big plays. With Steward it’s entirey possible I can afford it as well.
Given the potential block on chump-blocking I have omitted the Squire of the Citadel in favour of the Guard of the Citadel, who while he’s nothing special has perfectly good stats especially with Visionary Leadership and Boromir online. The Herald of Anorien is potentially a key component of the setup since his optional Doomed ability accelerates the ally swarm – he can potentially enable an easy round 1 Very Good Tale with another 2-cost ally if I want. The only non-Gondor ally in the deck is the Galadhrim Minstrel, who is included primarily just to round ut the numbers, but also she gets the nod over various other options because she can help me find A Very Good Tale quicker.

Valiant Spirit

Heroes:
Gandalf
Frodo Baggins
Galadriel

Allies (21):
Treebeard x3
Envoy of Pelargir x3
Bilbo Baggins x3
Emery x3
Galadriel’s Handmaiden x3
Silvan Refugee x3
Arwen Undomiel x2
Elfhelm x1

Attachments (13):
Gondorian Shield x3
Unexpected Courage x3
Gandalf’s Staff x3
Nenya x3
Wizard Pipe x1

Events (16):
A Test of Will x3
Elrond’s Counsel x3
The Galadhrim’s Greeting x3
Flame of Anor x3
Power of Orthanc x2
Dwarven Tomb x2

Thoughts: I was initially having difficulty figuring out a Tactics/Spirit setup while still trying to have decent starting willpower, until it occurred to me that since the Ruined Square disincentivises Sneak Attack I wasn’t using Gandalf in the first deck, leaving him available as a hero here, meaning I could still play the one Tactics card which really matters to a Gondor deck – Gondorian Shield – and otherwise run a mno-Spirit deck. Frodo is always a solid pick and keeps the starting threat down without being Glorfindel, plus he can take emergency defensive duties, while Galadriel further helps with keeping the threat down both by her own ability and enabing Elrond’s Counsel (again without being Glorfindel, I still get sick of him sometimes). Keeping threats down has the potential to be significant especially early on because it makes it much easier to establish a useful board state if I can choose which enemies I engage rather than being foorced into too many (This is why I omitted Deep Knowledge from the other deck).
The allies are primarily there for willpower. Emery, Elfhelm and Treebeard can help out in combat if needed, either via their stats while in play or by being discarded to Flame of Anor to boost Gandalf. It’s theoretically possible Emery could immediately discard herself by discarding one of the Gondorian Shields to her ability, but I figure the chances are low enoough to be worth risking, especially since with Gandalf I can see the top card of my deck at all times. Three copies of Bilbo to only one of the Wizard Pipe is because I figure at least in the early game I would rather get the extra willpower and find the Pipe than just draw the Pipe sans willpower (and I didn’t want to do x3 of both). Silvan Refugees work with my intent to avoid characters leaving play (and in any case a bit of quick willpower early on may be helpful while in the late game the Gondor-swarm will render it superfluous).
Nenya is likewise probably only significant in the early game at most before the swarm gets going properly. Gandaf’s Staff of course is always good. Unexpected Courages are likely to be put on Denethor for defending and using his ability. Elrond’s Counsels and Galadhrim’s Greetings help both with dodging engagement costs and cancelling out threat raises from Frodo, plus the willpower boost from a Counsel could once again be relevant in the early game. Power of Orthanc is there because of the aforementioned annoying condition treachery, and Dwarven Tomb can retrieve any lost Spirit card which seems important.

http://ringsdb.com/fellowship/view/5143/the-line-unbroken-nm-assault-on-osgiliath
http://ringsdb.com/decklist/view/9462/the-line-unbroken-nm-assault-on-osgiliath-deck-1-1.0
http://ringsdb.com/decklist/view/9463/the-line-unbroken-nm-assault-on-osgiliath-deck-2-1.0

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