The Line Unbroken – 54: Raid on the Grey Havens

And The Grey Havens is rounded out by Raid on the Grey Havens. After two gentler quests to start off with, the third in the box is a much bigger challenge, following the same rough pattern as The Lost Realm before it (though of course all the details are totally different).

As it’s the final quest of the box I now must turn my focus of discussion to the contents of the box in general – the player cards and the three quests.
The Grey Havens player cards were described in one of the preview articles as serving as “a capstone for the Noldor themes and mechanics introduced in the Angmar Awakened cycle.” Now ‘capstone’ is perhaps debatable, it’s rather difficult to top Arwen/Elven-light for their impact on Noldor decks, but the Grey Havens player cards do work incredibly well with Noldor decks in general. Four Noldor allies who see varying amounts of use – Noldor is skewed towards Spirit and Lore, and managing your top discard for Warden of the Havens or Mithlond Sea-watcher can be difficult, but they’re still all good; Four events which repeat their effects for each copy in your discard pile obviously work with Noldor discard mechanics, albeit some are more niche effects than others, with the location control of The Evening Star being probably the most popular; two Noldor heroes who contribute fantastically to the archetype, Galdor offering an improved mulligan and a big draw later in the game while Cirdan just lets you sift through your deck faster; and the card which really makes the case for this box as the Noldor capstone is of course To the Sea! To the Sea!, the Noldor’s trait cost reducer, which is obviously phenomenal. I should note here that side from Noldor decks generally having easier access to discard effects, there’s no reason why the events or at least some of the allies shouldn’t fit just as well into other deck types. And the other attachments are not Noldor themed – Grappling Hook is a potential questing boost/quest control effect, while the other two just provide location control (appropriate to the themes of sailing and exploration). All in all it’s a great box, most useful if you want to build Noldor decks, but still has goodies for other decks too.
On the quest front, we follow the same pattern as The Lost Realm – the first two quests are both on a fairly manageable level of difficulty, and then the third catches you off-guard, punches you in the face and stomps you into the ground. Metaphor aside, two quests of easy to moderate difficulty and one very hard is a pretty good pattern for a deluxe expansion to my mind. Voyage Across Belegaer kind of had to be pretty basic anyway since it serves as the tutorial for Sailing. Continuing the comparison between this deluxe and the previous, I will say that I prefer the first two quests in The Lost Realm and they’re ones I tend to revisit when testing decks or just looking for something random to play, which is not the case with Voyage Across Belegaer or Fate of Numenor. On the other hand I definitely prefer Raid on the Grey Havens to Deadmen’s Dike.

So, how does one handle this quest? Well, the first crucial point to my mind is that combat is a top priority. You want to be able to kill enemies quickly and efficiently, even if that comes partly at the expense of your early questing, because if those enemies stick around then you’ll have too many problems with ships burning. With that said, questing cannot be neglected since you need to explore the locations to prevent them burning just due to the Aflame keyword. It’s also worth considering the problem of dealing with Captaain Sahir and Na’asiyah once you hit stage 2, but that mostly comes down to being aware of them and once again having plenty of combat power. And that’s all there really is to it, which is probably why I quite like it – no frills, all you really need is to cover the basic game aspects of questing and combat, but because it’s such a difficult quest you need to be *very* good at them, preferably right from the start of the game.

Repel The Raiders

Galdor of the Havens

Allies (23):
Treebeard x3
Wellinghall Preserver x3
Wandering Ent x3
Warden of Healing x3
Honour Guard x3
Booming Ent x3
Derndingle Warrior x3
Beechbone x1
Quickbeam x1

Attachments (9):
Ent Draught x3
Elven Spear x3
Secret Vigil x3

Events (18):
Daeron’s Runes x3
Deep Knowledge x3
Entmoot x3
Feint x3
Boomed and Trumpeted x3
A Good Harvest x3

Thoughts: One other thought I had coming into this was that I wanted to change things up a little by putting Galdor and Cirdan in separate decks. Since Narya gives Cirdan a Leadership icon it therefor made sense to put Galdor in a Tactics/Lore deck, which can work very well for a focused combat deck and enables me to just go for the power of Ents. Of course they’re a little slow, but I already wanted big early game power which led me to Beorn. Meanwhile Mablung is still just good to help pay for everything. I could’ve instead gone for hero Treebeard, but the ally version is better suited to a dedicated Ent deck and I wanted to be predominantly Tactics.
The ally selection has Wardens of Healing and Honour Guards to keep everyone healthy, and otherwise is just all the Ents I have access to minus Skinbark (who is decent just for the 4 attack but the easiest to drop from the deck to get down to 50 cards). Beechbone and Quickbeam while good are not so important that they need more than the 1 copy I can have in play, but Treebeard is so key to an Ent deck that he merits the 3 copies.
Ent Draughts help keep characters alive, most likely especially the Derndingle Warriors who should become my primary defenders. Secret Vigils are good in general, especially with some high threat enemies in this quest, but especially so given that I have some Doomed cards and anticipate possibly questing unsuccessfully at some points to hold back more actions for combat. Elven Spear seems a bit odd, but I may be holding back Galdor for combat in which case the attack boost can be useful, and even if not it can still serve the unusual but potentially significant purpose of allowing me to discard all the cards in my hand to trigger Galdor’s draw 6 ability.
The Lore events are just card draw, A Good Harvest contributes to the efficiency of the deck by allowing me to pool resources in ways I usually couldn’t (say if I have a hand full of Lore cards), and the Tactics events are just valuable one-shot combat boosts.

Save The Ships

Arwen Undomiel
Cirdan the Shipwright

Allies (23):
Gandalf (Core) x3
Envoy of Pelargir x3
Galadriel’s Handmaiden x3
Sailor of Lune x3
West Road Traveller x3
Herald of Anorien x3
Naith Guide x3
Fili x1
Kili x1

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

Events (15):
A Test of Will x3
Elrond’s Counsel x3
Elven-light x3
Sneak Attack x3
We Are Not Idle x3

Thoughts: Between Cirdan, Elven-light, We Are Not Idle and King Under the Mountain, this deck should draw very efficiently (not to mention Gandalf and the other deck’s Deep Knowledge). Add in Steward of Gondor on Cirdan with Narya so he has both Spirit and Leadership resource icons and I should be able to just spam these willpower allies. Arwen helps things run more efficiently as usual, and handily her ability can be used to add resources to Galdor in the other deck as well as herself and Cirdan. Balin once again is the best generic King Under the Mountain and shadow cancellation could come in handy given the significance of combat in this quest.
The allies were basically all chosen for cheap willpower. Herald of Anorien in particular of course has his optional Doomed 2 to get more allies quickly into play. Envoy of Pelargir can either add the resource back to Cirdan so she effectively only costs 1 or send it over to Mablung if the first deck needs more resources. The Naith Guide’s ability can get some extra willpower from the first deck while still holding back the relevant hero for combat as well, or it can target Cirdan if I have Narya but no Light of Valinor.
Speaking of which, Narya is of course excellent with Ents, allowing them to ready the round they’re played and getting those combat boosts, so while this deck is primarily focused on the questing side of things it can also make a good supporting contribution to the combat efforts of the other deck.
The events of course are all standard things, cancellation, draw, Sneak Attack for Gandalf and threat reduction/willpower boost.

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