The Line Unbroken – C13: Passing of the Grey Company

The Line Unbroken makes its return to the Lord of the Rings saga campaign for the three quests of Flame of the West. This is possibly my favourite part of the campaign so I’m very much looking forward to getting into these, starting here with Passing of the Grey Company.

While it’s easy to focus on the quests and their placement within the campaign, the player cards in Flame of the West are fairly spectacular as well. Of course Tactics Eowyn is a superstar hero, while Spirit Beregond shares his Tactics incarnation’s most powerful ability of having a printed Defence of 4; but many of the other plyer cards have their own reasons for being notable, such as Feint-on-a-stick, Single-handedly-broke-Caldara-decks, Best possible round 1 draw in Into the Pit, Quad-sphere Aragorn now fully armed and operational, and so on. While some are more situational than others and some may bear a personal grudge against ally Imrahil, there’s not a dud in the whole box.

So onto how I handling this specific quest. To remind you of the state of my campaign pool, Frodo is a Noble Hero, Aragorn is a Valiant Warrior, Gandalf has Beyond All Hope, I have +1 starting threat for a fallen hero earlier in the campaign (Gandalf before he came back) and another +2 from Passage of the Marshes. I haven’t used any of the one-shot boons yet and I have an assortment of burdens though not too many (and some of them are not applied to this box because they follow Frodo).
Next point with regard to how I handle this quest (and indeed the two following) is the standard Line Unbroken restriction that I have to use the newly released heroes from the box and the fact I’ve been trying to be somewhat thematic. In this case I’m mostly going for thematic for Pelennor Fields rather than for the other two quests, which means on top of Aragorn/Eowyn/Beregond I also end up with Theoden, Merry, Gandalf and Pippin. I can be flexible as to which versions of Theoden and Merry I use (in theory Pippin as well, but in practice there’s no way I’m using Spirit Pippin) which could lead to funwith redistributing heroes between decks to optimise the sphere balance, but I decided I couldn’t be bothered so I’m just sticking them in the thematic lineups of Gandalf/Pippin/Beregond and Theoden/Eowyn/Merry.

Finally, following all that preamble, what do I actually need to account for when I’m picking cards to go in these decks? What are the key points about Passing of the Grey Company? Well, the most significant ones are lots of threat raises and a hand-discarding effect which needs to be accounted for. So lots of threat reduction and make sure I have multiple copies of everything important so I can handle losing some bits. Oh, and of course I want to make sure I can accommodate all of the Aragorn toys because they’re really useful.

On the Wings of the Storm

Pippin (Lo)
Beregond (Sp)

Allies (12):
Warden of Healing x3
Arwen Undomiel x2
Bilbo Baggins x2
Elfhelm x2
Ghan-buri-Ghan x2
Halbarad x1

Attachments (31):
Gandalf’s Staff x3
Wizard Pipe x3
Steward of Gondor x3
Sword that was Broken x3
Banner of Elendil x3
Ancient Mathom x3
Unexpected Courage x3
Ring of Barahir x2
Celebrian’s Stone x2
Roheryn x2
Narya x2
Anduril x1
Glamdring x1

Events (9):
A Test of Will x3
Daeron’s Runes x3
A Good Harvest x3

Thoughts: I am once again struck by the difficulties of (somewhat) thematic deckbuilding for a campaign in the shortage of suitable Leadership heroes, but fortunately this deficiency can be resolved via Gandalf, Aragorn with Sword that was Broken, and Good Harvest. A Good Harvest will also allow me to play my cards more efficiently during the first Planning phase before I have to discard my hand – if I get a Wizard Pipe right away I can also move a really important card onto the top of my deck so I can keep it.
The bulk of the deck is significant attachments to power up Gandalf and Aragorn. The few allies provide a bit of additional willpower, healing (not particularly relevant for combat but there’s direct damage from a treachery), and a bit of threat control from Elfhelm if I can get him into play. Events in addition to the aforementioned Good Harvest provide cancellation and card draw. Ancient Mathoms also provide card draw to help build up cards again after the forced discard.

In Search of Death

Eowyn (Ta)
Theoden (Sp)
Merry (Sp)

Allies (20):
Grimbold x3
Westfold Outrider x3
Gamling x3
Westfold Horse-breeder x3
West Road Traveller x3
The Riddermark’s Finest x3
Hama x2

Attachments (21):
Shadowfax x3
Snowmane x3
Herugrim x3
Unexpected Courage x3
Golden Shield x3
Gondorian Shield x3
Banner of Elendil x3

Events (9):
A Test of Will x3
Mustering the Rohirrim x3
The Galadhrim’s Greeting x3

Thoughts: For this first quest I chose the Spirit versions of both Theoden and Merry, given the importance of threat reduction. Merry can handle this deck’s threat, the Galadhrim’s Greetings are for the other deck.
Beyond that obviously it’s a Rohan deck. Mustering the Rohirrim can speed it up a bit, allies provide decent supplemental willpower and a few tricks with discarding/Gamling them. Given the presence of Horse-breeders of course this deck gets Shadowfax as well as Snowmane – I’d have put Roheryn in here if it was possible to play it without A Good Harvest (which I didn’t want to include in this deck). And then there’s the Theoden attachments.
Across the two decks I have duplicated Unexpected Courages and the Banner of Elendil. The former because between Aragorn, Gandalf, Beregond and Theoden I can make a lot of use of action advantage; the latter because it’s a very powerful (and new) attachment which given that Aragorn moves around could be played by either deck.

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