The Line Unbroken – 56: Thing in the Depths

Thing in the Depths is interesting among other reasons because it has two quest-specific encounter sets rather than just the one – which presumably is the reason why it had one less player card than usual (the additional card being shifted back into Flight of the Stormcaller instead). Half of the quest also is kind of revisiting something we’ve done before but in yet another different way. There’s a fair amount of stuff going on with this adventure pack.

The player cards which came in Thing in the Depths received a fairly mixed response as I recall. They can all be good in the right context, but said contexts are variable levels of niche or requiring to build specifically around the card. The most straightforward of them is probably Captain’s Wisdom, which is pretty generically useful provided you can accept the loss of a hero action the round you play it. The allies are on the expensive side, Raiment of War gives flexibility where specialisation is usually more the order of the day (or goes well on allies which is a more limited type of deck especially at this point in the card pool), Guarded Ceaselessly is way better than people gave it credit for on release but is still limited to certain kinds of decks, Elevenses really requires you to build a dedicated Hobbit/Pipe deck, and Lanwyn herself is dependent on the makeup of the encounter deck to trigger her ability. So, again, good cards but you have to find the right context for them.

The quest on the other hand is an interesting beast. It could arguably be seen as two mini-quests stuck together, hence the two different quest-specific encounter sets. The fact of the split clearly limited how many cards could be dedicated to any extraneous stuff which is probably why I’d say the quest feels very focused.
As to what we’re doing, well we start off just fighting Corsairs as we have been previously, but halfway through this transitions into an unexpected (to anyone who didn’t read the name of the quest) encounter with a giant sea-monster. The latter encounter clearly harkens back to a certain extent to our past fights in this game with the Watcher in the Water: I believe I noted when I did NM WitW that one could clearly see an evolution of mechanics – where that Nightmare deck allowed you to damage the Watcher by killing Tentacles as a supplement to fighting it normally, here that is the only way the Thing can be fought, by attacking its individual arms (and eye), acknowledging that the beast is simply too big for us to realistically engage the whole thing all at once.

So what does one need for this quest? Well, while the first half of the quest does present challenges of its own, in my experience it is primarily used as an opportunity to gear up for the second half. We do have to fight Sahir and Na’asiyah again, but only very briefly if all goes according to plan. The second half of the quest is what really shapes strategy. The way the Tentacles attach to locations via the Grapple keyword means that a certain amount of location control could be significant to avoid them piling up too much, and also means that I may get swarmed by multiple enemies at once, which points me towards either many defenders or plenty of readying. Into this I have to incorporate the use of Lanwyn, who isn’t that great a choice for this quest despite being released with it, as there’s not a lot of Surge in the encounter deck. We’ll try to work with it though.

If I can’t think of a good deck name by the time the video uploads I’m just leaving this

Aragorn (Ta)

Allies (12):
Legolas x3
Gandalf (Core) x3
Envoy of Pelargir x3
Errand-rider x3

Attachments (19):
Steward of Gondor x3
Cram x3
Gondorian Shield x3
Elven Mail x3
Dagger of Westernesse x3
Arod x2
Heir of Mardil x1
The Day’s Rising x1

Events (18):
Sneak Attack x3
Captain’s Wisdom x3
Ranger Summons x3
Follow Me! x3
We Are Not Idle x3
Feint x3

Side-quests (1):
Gather Information x1

Thoughts: The potential for an enemy swarm as mentioned pushes me towards readying. It’s quite a while since I last used the sons of Elrond, so why not bring them out. And then since I’m trying to work with Lanwyn my first port of call is Ranger Summons to introduce a little bit of additional Surge into the encounter deck – that requires a Dunedain hero, I don’t want to build around the Dunedain mechanics of keeping enemies engaged, and I prefer Tactics Aragorn to Leadership, especially for a Twins deck. Using Tactics Aragorn also handily means I have no need for Rivendell Bows as I can just drag the enemies across the table rather than rely on Ranged.
As standard for twins decks, very few Leadership cards. Steward is there to fund Elrohir, potentially supplemented by The Day’s Rising and Captain’s Wisdom. The exhaust cost of Captain’s Wisdom can be cancelled out by Heir of Mardil or Cram. Errand-riders can shift the resources back onto Elrohir after they’re spent. Follow Me! is an odd choice perhaps but this deck wanted a bit more draw and since this deck intends to handle all the combat it’ll be easier if it engages the lion’s share of enemies. Of note, if I need more Tactics resources then Captain’s Wisdom will work for Elladan as well, and I can also make use of Envoys to redistribute resources.
On the Tactics side, Gondorian Shield and Elven Mail will set up Elrohir to defend everything. Daggers of Westernesse I picked over the more usual Rivendell Blades because the Tentacles mostly have low defence and it’s already reduced by Aragorn, so better to get an actual attack boost. Arod can supplement the other deck’s location control, Feint is standard and Legolas gets me that bit of extra attack plus card draw, albeit he’s a little expensive.
Finally, Thing in the Depths is an excellent quest for using side-quests as the first stage can’t have progress until a kew location is explored while the third stage requires no progress. Of course Delay the Enemy isn’t very good and Send for Aid doesn’t really fit with the low ally count of this deck, but Gather Information is always good.

Same goes for this one

Arwen Undomiel
Galdor of the Havens

Allies (18):
Guardian of Rivendell x3
Master of the Forge x3
Imladris Caregiver x3
Sailor of Lune x3
Elven Jeweler x3
Glorfindel x1
Lindir x1
Gildor Inglorion x1

Attachments (11):
To the Sea! To the Sea! x3
Silver Lamp x3
Ancient Mathom x3
Light of Valinor x1
Asfaloth x1

Events (19):
A Test of Will x3
Elven-light x3
Elrond’s Counsel x3
Daeron’s Runes x3
Heed the Dream x3
The Evening Star x3
Lords of the Eldar x1

Side-quests (2):
Gather Information x1
Double Back x1

Thoughts: The first deck is almost entirely focused on handling combat, which means this one needs to take up the questing load. It seemed only reasonable to do a Noldor thing now that we have all the pieces available, and of course Lords of the Eldar and Arwen can both apply to the twins as well so there’s a bit of potential synergy there. So Arwen and Galdor for the Noldor stuff, Lanwyn because she’s mandated by Line Unbroken rules.
So in addition to a selection of the nice Noldor allies we got in the last cycle and the deluxe we can now add in Imladris Caregivers for the in-trait healing, Glorfindel as just another big ally, and Guardians of Rivendell as defenders (mostly just in case my Elven Mail is slow turning up for the other deck). Oh, and good old Master of the Forge continues to be great, with now the added bonus that he can potentially be played for only 1 resource.
Master of the Forge also significantly increases the chances of me finding my x1 Asfaloth and Light of Valinor – they’re not top priorities or I’d have more copies, but it’s nice that they stand a decent chance of appearing without taking up too much deckspace for them. The former obviously adds a little bit of location control, while the latter is just a little bit of willpower by allowing one of the twins to quest and still be ready for combat. And then of course To the Sea! To the Sea! along with Arwen is kind of the glue which holds together the Noldor deck, Silver Lamps allow the triggering of more discard effects, and Ancient Mathoms can supplement the draw of the first deck (this one should have much less need of such a boost).
The events are mostly pretty standard and self-explanatory – draw, cancellation, draw, threat reduction, draw… The Evening Star is my big location control option as while it’s a potential problem I don’t expect it to be a repeating one. Lords of the Eldar is potentially very powerful but also expensive and of course I’m never really going to need more than one copy so just throw in the x1 as a speculative option. Heed the Dream is of course an amazing card and while I do in general want to be saving Elrohir’s resources for his ability, the power of the full deck search has the potential to be worth it regardless, since both these decks will run much more efficiently if they can get their key cards out in a timely fashion. Even without the kicker, just the top 5 search is pretty good.
Here we have 2 side-quests. In retrospect I’m not entirely sure why I didn’t include Scout Ahead as well since it could fit in quite well with Lanwyn and Ranger Summons. On the other hand the aspect of adding a card to the victory display doesn’t match up so well to the two halves nature of this quest – if I were to explore Scout Ahead early in the quest the top candidates for sending to the victory display would probably be the Corsair enemies, but they disappear anyway as soon as I advance the quest. Regardless, another Gather Information and Double Back round out the decklist.

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