The Line Unbroken – N36: Nightmare Into Fangorn

While To Catch An Orc is a potentially very frustrating quest and that is exacerbated by the Nightmare deck, Into Fangorn was always disappointingly easy, and the Nightmare deck doesn’t really do enough to change that. Not to mention the biggest challenge presented in the Nightmare deck is to remove the quest’s central unique mechanic.

The Hinder keyword was always an interesting idea to represent the Huorns but in practice having enemies that didn’t attack just made combat really easy. And as I alluded to above, the biggest increase in challenge from the Nightmare deck lies in the location which disables the Hinder keyword. I have to view that as a failure of design, if the best way to increase the challenge of a quest is to remove what makes it unique. I still think there might be some potential in the idea if tweaked in the right way – it could at least be a worthwhile thought experiment, but as it stands the quest just isn’t that great.

So with that being said, how do I go about building for it? Well, there are enough effects which cause Huorns to attack that I can’t completely dump defence, but I certainly don’t need to put much into it, and will do better by sinking more into my attack power, since the Huorns can’t attack me if they’re in the discard pile. They’re pretty tough though, so sometimes I’ll have to eat some of the effects for having them engaged, so it may be helpful to build around some of those effects. Beyond that, I need to make sure I can quest hard to progress through the quest quickly when it comes to it. And aside from one or two situational considerations, that’s basically it.

I probably want to name this deck something to do with woodcutters or something

Boromir (Ta)

Allies (18):
Gandalf (Core) x3
Envoy of Pelargir x3
Errand-rider x3
Weather Hills Watchman x3
Dunedain Hunter x3
Honour Guard x3

Attachments (17):
Gondorian Shield x3
Rivendell Blade x3
Dagger of Westernesse x3
Cram x3
Dunedain Mark x3
Dunedain Signal x2

Events (15):
Foe-hammer x3
Sneak Attack x3
We Are Not Idle x3
Campfire Tales x3
Ranger Summons x3

Thoughts: Halbarad is pretty great here for two reasons – one is that this deck is intended to handle all combat, so the extra optional engagement may come in handy to keep the other deck safe; and the other is that Huorns being rather tough and being spawned by various effects, he will probably quest without exhausting a lot of the time, but since the Huorns don’t attack this is more of a bonus than it usually is. Meanwhile Boromir is a good option for possible defences since he can get to 4 defence with a Gondorian Shield and can ready if I have multiple engaged enemies, but the rest of the time he’s also a good attacker. Plus one of the Huorns forces the engaged player to exhaust a hero each Resource phase, for which Boromir is of course eminently suited. Finally Legolas is a good choice of attacker since his ability can potentially partially compensate for the progress lost to the Hinder keyword.
While building the decks I found that both of them ended up being on the cheap side and as such I didn’t think Steward of Gondor was worth keeping. That said, getting the resources in the right places was potentially a concern, thus Errand-riders and Envoys of Pelargir.Weather Hills Watchmen potentially help a little with the draw, Honour Guards can help with defending but remain potentially useful for direct damage if enemies don’t attack, Gandalf is always good. And of course Dunedain Hunters make a lot of sense since engaging extra enemies in this quest isn’t the hardship it usually would be, but their 3 attack is still very useful.
Gondorian Shield and Dunedain Signal are my main nod to the possibility of defence. Cram can help in emergencies. And otherwise I’m just looking for attack power because the Huorns have quite high defence/hit points. In fact such is their defence that it’s probably worth putting two Rivendell Blades on Legolas, because he will actually consistently get a benefit from both, unlike in most quests.
Ranger Summons has the potential to be more reliable here since it’s unlikely the Ranger of the North will end up as a shadow card because there mostly won’t be shadow cards. Plus it’s fun and the quest isn’t very difficult. The rest of the events are basically all for card draw, though I could use the other Gandalf effects with Sneak Attack if I really feel the need.

And this one on the theme of forest guides maybe? Idk.

Frodo Baggins

Allies (21):
Envoy of Pelargir x3
Warden of Healing x3
Galadhrim Minstrel x3
Galadriel’s Handmaiden x3
West Road Traveller x3
Curious Brandybuck x3
Arwen Undomiel x2
Quickbeam x1

Attachments (9):
Lembas x3
Miruvor x3
Thror’s Key x3

Events (20):
Daeron’s Runes x3
Deep Knowledge x3
Gildor’s Counsel x3
A Test of Will x3
Elrond’s Counsel x3
A Watchful Peace x3
Power of Orthanc x2

Thoughts: Frodo is another great choice of hero for when I’m not expecting to have to defend but still want to be prepared for the eventuality, because he can just take the damage as threat without me putting anything more into it. With Treebeard I was following the not-actually-proverbial saying of “Set a tree to catch a tree,” and also his ability is great for just getting that extra little boost to clear a quest stage or finish off an annoying enemy. I wanted to have two Lore heroes so Gildor’s Counsel would be reasonable, but of course most of the good willpower allies are in Spirit, so Elrond’s ability to pay for allies of any sphere was a strong reccomendation. He also enables Elrond’s Counsel, boosts healing, and has 3 willpower in his own right.
Envoys are good again for redistributing resources, Wardens are the standard healing choice, and then we mostly have just a bunch of willpower. Curious Brandybucks seemed a decent choice because I can just put them into play (for free) when I’m ready to make a big quest push and not worry about them when my progress is being eaten by Hinder. With the enemies mostly not attack Arwen isn’t as significant as she otherwise might be, hence only 2 copies.
Part of the reason all the attachments in this deck are temporary is because another Huorn effect is to force the engaged player to discard an attachment, so not having too many attachments sitting around is a reasonable idea. Lembas of course goes well with Treebeard, while Miruvor is primarily for emergency readying but the flexibility of effects could be useful, which combined with the lower cost and the aforementioned attachment-discarding Huorn is what made me choose it over the more usual Unexpected Courage. Finally Thror’s Key could avoid a few negative effects but is first and foremost intended to defend me against the location which disables the Hinder keyword.
Card draw and cancellation events are standard of course, as is Elrond’s Counsel. Gildor’s Counsel is always good, and since a valid strategy for this quest is just to quest through at high speed, simply reducing the number of revealed cards is a good way to go. Power of Orthanc because In Need of Rest is a nasty Condition, though I can deal with it if I have healing in play. And A Watchful Peace can help avoid some nastier reveals by recycling inoccuous locations, because once again there are no shadow cards dealt most of the time.

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