The Line Unbroken – N35: Nightmare To Catch an Orc

To Catch an Orc is a quest which I have come to like less and less the more I’ve played it, and as is generally the case, the Nightmare deck emphasises what was already there, which exacerbates the things I don’t enjoy about it, to whit, that it has huge scope for things to randomly screw up based on the shuffle of the out of play decks; and while it’s interesting that we’re able to stave off the Time effect on stage 2, that’s counteracted by the fact that particular Time effect is generally just too harsh for you to ever let it happen.

Actually, to be fair, the Nightmare deck doesn’t really do anything to mess with the problem of the stage 2 Time effect, but it does nothing to improve it either. It’s still basically that you can eat one effect which removes a time counter and have to avoid every other such effect until you advance, while always questing hard enough to place progress on the quest card every round.
The randomness of the out of play decks definitely is exacerbated however, with the addition of another enemy in the out of play decks and some more encounter cards which mess with it. In principle it’s sort of interesting to do more with the mechanic, but in practice aside from the negative impact is has on deck consistency it just means you have no idea when you’ll advance and when you’ll have to deal with some very dangerous enemies. Which means the only real option is to ensure you’re prepared as soon as possible, while accepting this might leave you just sat around for a bunch of rounds waiting for Mugash to show up.

Which brings me to deckbuilding strategy. I want to get solid combat heroes set up quickly, but also I can’t afford to neglect willpower given the aforementioned stage 2 Time effect which is just too harsh to take in general. On top of that to best cope with the out of play decks I want my decks to be very consistent and include some recursion so I can retrieve some of the stuff that lands in the discard pile. Oh, and this quest has the treachery Take Cover in it, meaning I ideally want to avoid 1hp questing allies. So, just a few constraints.

Appoint a Faithful Steward

Heroes:
Bifur
Grima
Erkenbrand

Allies (14):
Gandalf (OHaUH) x3
Warden of Healing x3
Erebor Hammersmith x3
Wandering Ent x3
Quickbeam x2

Attachments (16):
Keys of Orthanc x3
Steward of Gondor x3
Dunedain Warning x3
Asfaloth x3
Ent Draught x2
Celebrian’s Stone x2

Events (20):
Daeron’s Runes x3
Deep Knowledge x3
Gildor’s Counsel x3
Secret Paths x3
Second Breakfast x3
The Seeing-stone x3
The White Council x2

Thoughts: A need to power up rapidly fits in well with Doomed player cards and Grima. Bifur also allows for efficient spending and enables me to get out more expensive Lore cards with relative ease. Erkenbrand was my chosen defender partly because there are some annoying shadow effects in this quest (and with the out of play deck mechanic I couldn’t rely on Hasty Strokes) and partly because I just used Beregond in the last quest and wanted to do something different.
Wardens of Healing are an obvious choice in general and especially with Erkenbrand. Erebor Hammersmiths are recursion, which I mentioned I want for out of play deck discards. The ents are decent cheap questing allies with more than 1 hit point, plus they enable Ent Draught, which is a great addition to Erkenbrand. The oddity here is of course Hobbit Gandalf. The reasoning is that he’s another source of good willpower *and* combat stats, he’s pretty affordable with Grima and Bifur, to say nothing of Steward of Gondor, and if I’m going aggro I just hope to finish the quest before my threat gets too high. Oh, and with the out of play deck stuff it’s not as realistic to expect to draw into Core Gandalf and Sneak Attack at the same time.
Resource attachments are obviously good. Steward probably goes on Erkenbrand and then he can transfer resources to Bifur to even them out, while the Keys should go cross-table. Warnings and Ent Draught are of course to power up Erkenbrand’s defences. Celebrian’s Stone is another source of extra willpower which isn’t vulnerable to Take Cover. And Asfaloth obviously goes cross-table and will help me keep the staging area clear and get readies out of Idraen.
Card draw is obviously important. Seeing-stone into Deep Knowledge in addition to helping with fast starts also allows me to check which cards are in my main deck as opposed to my out of play deck so I have a bit more idea what to expect. Secret Paths is great primarily to ensure my questing is up to par in the early game, though later on it could still be useful for the X threat location. Gildor’s Counsel is amazing for keeping the staging area from getting too out of control. Second Breakfast is more recursion. And finally The White Council is potentially yet more recursion as it allows a player to shuffle a discarded card back into their deck, but the extra flexibility could come in handy as well. Primarily it’s intended for recursion and emergency readying though.

Orc-hunting out of the North

Heroes:
Idraen
Glorfindel (Sp)
Aragorn (Ta)

Allies (12):
Treebeard x3
Arwen Undomiel x3
Bilbo Baggins x3
Bofur (Sp) x3

Attachments (24):
Light of Valinor x3
Unexpected Courage x3
Secret Vigil x3
Blade of Gondolin x3
Defender of the West x3
Shadowfax x2
Warden of Arnor x2
Rohan Warhorse x2
Rivendell Blade x2
Arod x1

Events (14):
A Test of Will x3
Dwarven Tomb x3
Elrond’s Counsel x3
Feint x3
The White Council x2

Thoughts: With Erkenbrand as my defender and Grima/Bifur being support heroes mostly there to play cards, this deck needed both willpower and attack – thus Idraen for her readying, which I can potentially trigger extra times as needed with location control effects; Glorfindel because LoV allows him to be active in questing and attack, plus he’s better willpower than most and enables Asfaloth to tie in with Idraen; and Tactics Aragorn, one of the best attackers the game has to offer, who can also add willpower if I get him an Unexpected Courage, and who can with his ability allow me to pull troublesome enemies out of the staging area without having to defend them on the same round, which could be a lifesaver early on.
All the allies have 2 willpower and more than 1 hit point to once again dodge deaths from Take Cover. Treebeard is also great for combat and primarily intended for that purpose. Arwen can help boost Erkenbrand so he can take on the bigger enemies. Bofur can help give that extra little push in the early game. And Bilbo, while I have no Pipes to fetch, can do the same thing I brought up with The Seeing-stone in the first deck, and allow me to check what is and isn’t still there.
Attachment-wise, of course readying. I want Glorfindel for combat and I probably want multiple defences out of Erkenbrand. A Rohan Warhorse on Aragorn would also be great to chain kills. I want one Rivendell Blade for Glorfindel, otherwise Blades of Gondolin are my weapon of choice because most of the enemies in this quest are Orcs and placing progress can help lighten my questing load and possibly get more actions out of Idraen. Warden of Arnor and the speculative Arod can also help with that. And then there are the Gandalf attachments. Putting him and his attachments in separate decks was largely for space reasons but of course I wanted Gandalf himself in the first deck to potentially use the Grima discount. I’ve wanted for a while to do a fellowship with Defender of the West Gandalf to split the threat gain, and decided to do it here. While it is a two card combo, the out of play deck discards into attachment recursion can help with Defender of the West, and I have 3 copies of each so I thought it was a reasonable idea. And of course if I’m spreading around the Gandalf threat increases I need reduction, hence Secret Vigils.
Finally the events are mostly pretty standard. The willpower boost from Elrond’s Counsel could be invaluable for ensuring I place that extra Time counter on stage 2 every round, Dwarven Tomb is once again recursion, and White Council is in for the same reasons it’s in the first deck.

https://ringsdb.com/fellowship/view/7660/thelineunbroken-nmtocatchanorc
https://ringsdb.com/decklist/view/13409/thelineunbroken-nmtocatchanorcdeck1-1.0
https://ringsdb.com/decklist/view/13410/thelineunbroken-nmtocatchanorcdeck2-1.0

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