The Line Unbroken – 58: The Drowned Ruins

Returning to the Dream-chaser cycle we have The Drowned Ruins. I’m quite fond of some of the player cards which came in this pack. The quest, while serviceable, has not attracted a lot of enthusiasm as far as I’m aware, certainly I personally wouldn’t consider it a favourite.

So, when I say I’m fond of some of the player cards, top of that list is Argalad. The ability to control one’s questing by cancelling threat in the staging area is a really nice thing to have, I enjoy playing around with it, and the only other hero whose own ability falls into that category is Fatty Bolger – who I’ve certainly defended in the past, but he’s way more difficult to work with than Argalad.
Beyond Argalad, Robin Smallburrow is pretty much a permanent fixture in any Lore deck I build, and I’d say every other card in the pack is something which doesn’t suit every deck, but can be a huge deal in the decks they do fit into – the most versatile probably being the Marksman of Lorien, a top choice attacking ally for any deck that can afford them; or Dunedain Remedy, the first ever healing effect outside Lore, and then right at the far end of niche things like Hithlain for crossing location control with Silvans or Battle-fury, more straightforward use but rare to find a case where you need it.

On the other hand, the quest. The idea of flipping the locations between Grotto and Underwater sounds very interesting, giving the quest a kind of rhythm switching between them. But the very high quest point values of the Underwater locations and the penalties for not exploring them all in one go mean you really want a sizeable board state established before you go swimming. Add to that the inability to play allies and attachments while underwater and the actual experience of playing the quest tends to involve quite a while building up that board state before going underwater, then possibly surfacing again if you draw any more useful stuff you really want to play, and it all adds up to a fairly lengthy game.

So, my approach to deckbuilding here was less focused on handling the problems presented by Drowned Ruins and more on synergising with Argalad. On the one hand including some other effects to reduce threat in the staging area or add willpower after staging for that kind of questing control, on the other including other direct damage effects and attack boosts so Argalad can zero everything. As a result of going into the direct damage stuff I ended up building around a strategy which kind of wants ideally to never even engage an enemy, and having checked the engagement costs in the quest I think I can probably manage it.

Like shooting fish in a… ruin

Sam Gamgee
Eowyn (Ta)

Allies (14):
Gandalf (Core) x3
Galadhon Archer x3
Honour Guard x3
Anborn (Ld) x3
Bill the Pony x2

Attachments (12):
King Under the Mountain x3
Dunedain Mark x3
Hobbit Cloak x3
Secret Vigil x3

Events (22):
A Good Harvest x3
Sneak Attack x3
Campfire Tales x3
We Are Not Idle x3
Feint x3
Hail of Stones x3
Halfling Determination x2
Close Call x2

Side-quests (2):
Gather Information x1
Send for Aid x1

Thoughts: This deck started from Thalin and the other direct damage effects for the synergy with Argalad. The additions of Sam and Eowyn should ensure that I still have enough willpower available, and handily give the deck a very low starting threat.
The additional direct damage in here comes from Galadhon Archers, Anborn, and Hail of Stones. Anborn also potentially helps me to avoid engaging enemies, or makes it more likely I can ready Sam to defend if/when I do engage one. It shouldn’t be too hard to get Anborn into play given A Good Harvest, also he’s a perfect target for Send for Aid. If I need more Leadership resources in general there’s also the option of exhausting Thalin when I play We Are Not Idle.
King Under the Mountain, Campfire Tales, We Are Not Idle, Gather Information and Gandalf all provide card draw ensuring I should be able to find my important cards in a timely fashion. Meanwhile Gandalf and Secret Vigils do threat reduction to maintain the usefulness of Hail of Stones, Argalad, etc, and avoid any difficulties.
I have made some concessions to the possibility I end up engaging an enemy unexpectedly of course – Hobbit Cloaks only really work if it’s planned of course, though if my threat’s getting high and I have no means of lowering it then that might lead to an unplanned but still optional engagement. Eowyn’s one per game ability can potentially wipe out an enemy I can’t handle long term, I have Feints, Halfling Determination can apply to Sam’s defence although it’s primarily intended for potential willpower, Honour Guards can keep people alive in combat though they were included more to counter a certain treachery, and of course Close Call for the true emergency.
Dunedain Marks are of course intended for Argalad. He only needs one for his attack to equal the threat of every enemy in the quest, but ideally I want to find it quickly.

Don’t disturb the water

Arwen Undomiel

Allies (15):
Glorfindel x3
Galadriel’s Handmaiden x3
Galadhrim Minstrel x3
Warden of Healing x3
Mirkwood Pioneer x2
Ghan-buri-Ghan x1

Attachments (9):
Light of Valinor x3
Ancient Mathom x3
Nenya x3

Events (23):
A Test of Will x3
Elven-light x3
The Galadhrim’s Greeting x3
Elrond’s Counsel x3
Daeron’s Runes x3
Deep Knowledge x3
Secret Paths x3
Arrow from the Trees x2

Side-quests (3):
Gather Information x1
Double Back x1
Scout Ahead x1

Thoughts: Galadriel/Nenya, Elrond’s Counsel and Secret Paths all work with Argalad on the front of adjusting questing after staging, and the Mirkwood Pioneer works with cancelling threat at least. The choice of Arwen as the third hero is partly for Elven-light and just because she’s really good, but also because the ability to add resources to Galadriel with Nenya attached can even out the resources between my two spheres.
Aside from the Wardens of Healing (who may not really be required) the allies are there primarily for the willpower, though the little extra threat reduction and card draw from the Silvans is also useful obviously. Light of Valinor is for Argalad so he can quest and use his ability, Ancient Mathoms are potentially handy as card draw which can work for either deck (as can Galadriel of course).
As mentioned, I don’t want to engage enemies, hence threat reduction is significant, thus 3x Greeting and 1x Double Back, though I have still included 3x Deep Knowledge as usual, judging that my threat reduction and low starts should be sufficient to handle a little Doomed and still stay below most or all engagement costs (the lowest engagement cost is 20 on the Cave Eel, but it can’t be engaged unless I’m underwater so I can avoid it that way, next is 26, and the rest are all 30 or over).
Finally Arrows from the Trees is a little it of additional direct damage which fits in perfectly with my intention to never engage anything.
I will also note that while it wasn’t entirely deliberate, it does work out very nicely that both decks are fairly event-heavy, given that the quest cards prevent playing allies and attachments while underwater – but events are still entirely fair game.

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