The Line Unbroken – C14: Siege of Gondor

Exiting the Paths of the Dead and heading down the southern coast of Gondor, the Line Unbroken campaign takes its run at Siege of Gondor next. An easily overlooked quest (it actually got omitted from the recently run quest championship), but nevertheless an interesting challenge in and out of campaign mode.

One cannot really examine the quests from Flame of the West in full without acknowledging the inevitable mismatch between the story in the game/campaign and the one in the original book. Of course I noted a similar thing in Treason of Saruman with events being somewhat resequenced to allow a single group of heroes to be present for the significant events depicted in all three quests. In this case while at Pelennor Fields in the campaign Aragorn’s delayed arrival accurately represents the events from the book, in practice the other heroes who accompanied him for the first two quests of the box should only arrive at that point as well, and the rest of the battle should be fought with other participants. And then of course we have the two heroes released in the box on account of their significant moments in this section of the story. Eowyn’s big moment occurs at Pelennor Fields but she is very specifically excluded from joining Aragorn’s party who go on what became the first two quests. Meanwhile Beregond’s big moment is saving Faramir from the madness of Denethor, which didn’t make it into the game at all. So if we try to tell a story based on how the quests go in this game it ends up of necessity somewhat different to the original book. Never mind though.

So how do I handle this quest? Passing of the Grey Company didn’t require much customisation, but Siege of Gondor is a very different matter if I’m pursuing anything like an ideal result. Custom deckbuilding is not a requirement for this quest but it can make a big difference.
Firstly, because of the effect on The Corsair Fleet, healing is a must. Because of The Corsair Fleet and also its effect on the next quest in the campaign, I want to complete the quest as quickly as possible – and ultimately the way I complete the quest is by exploring Ship locations, finishing with the Great Corsair Ship. The Ship locations are immune to player card effects while they are in the staging area, so the only shenanigans that can be pulled have to be after travelling. That limits my options, but some fairly effective ones remain available to me.
Aside from location shenanigans, it’s also significant that I be well prepared for combat. And since the significant stop on completing the quest is the Ship locations rather than the quest points on the card, side-quests are a good thing to consider.

Tired with idleness and waiting

Pippin (Lo)
Beregond (Sp)

Allies (12):
Warden of Healing x3
Ithilien Tracker x3
Curious Brandybuck x3
Arwen Undomiel x1
Bilbo Baggins x1
Mablung x1

Attachments (20):
Gandalf’s Staff x3
Wizard Pipe x3
Unexpected Courage x3
Steward of Gondor x3
Sword that was Broken x2
Banner of Elendil x2
Ring of Barahir x2
Anduril x1
Glamdring x1

Events (18):
A Test of Will x3
Strength of Will x3
Daeron’s Runes x3
Deep Knowledge x3
Distant Stars x3
A Good Harvest x3

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

Thoughts: Let’s begin by setting aside the obvious things – Test of Will, willpower, card draw, the Aragorn and Gandalf attachments – I assume they don’t require explanation. Wardens of Healing are standard of course, but given the problems presented by this quest they may take on additional significance. A Good Harvest remains in for the same reasons as in the previous quest.
What I should go into here is of course the location shenanigans. Strength of Will is a little-used Core Set card, but it’s perfect for this quest as it can fully explore a Corsair Dromon as soon as I travel to it, allowing me to advance through the quest quicker without suffering the additional ill effects triggered by having an active location with the Ship trait. Meanwhile Distant Stars can allow me to discard a non-Ship active location after I travel there and replace it with a Ship – allowing me to advance through the quest quickly without suffering the ill effects for leaving the other locations (well, the Port of Pelargir) in the staging area. Curious Brandybucks and Ithilien Trackers, while certainly good allies in their own right, are included here specifically because they can potentially be used to trigger these two events.
As far as side-quests go these are the two which make sense – travelling to Ship locations always ends up shuffling the encounter discard pile back into the deck which would render Scout Ahead largely pointless, and I didn’t want to include side-quests which could only be played via Gandalf’s ability.

Good will should not be denied

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

Allies (18):
Grimbold x3
Westfold Outrider x3
Gamling x3
The Riddermark’s Finest x3
Westfold Horse-breeder x3
West Road Traveller x3

Attachments (18):
Shadowfax x3
Snowmane x3
Unexpected Courage x3
Arod x3
Golden Shield x3
Gondorian Shield x3

Events (12):
A Test of Will x3
Strength of Will x3
Ride to Ruin x3
Feint x3

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

Thoughts: To help deal with potentially more significant combat demands this deck shifts to a 2 Tactics: 1 Spirit hero ratio by switching Merry, though it still at least somewhat follows the standard shape of a Rohan deck. Gamling, Grimbold, Test of Will, Feint, horses, shields, a lot of the deck once again is fairly standard and self-explanatory. The same side-quests as in the other deck of course, in this case because Delay the Enemy is just not that great.
Here we have some more location shenanigans to play with. West Road Travellers could play into my strategy as I could travel to a non-Ship location and then swap to a Ship the following round. The Riddermark’s Finest is another way to place some progress on a Ship location after I travel there. I have Strength of Will in this deck as well. Adding Arod to the set of Mounts in the deck may help supplement the other progress placing cards. And of course Ride to Ruin is handy Rohan-specific location control. Between all the options between the two decks I should be able to handle the locations just fine.

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