The Line Unbroken – N41: Nightmare Celebrimbor’s Secret

In contrast to the previous quest, Celebrimbor’s Secret I think is generally more accepted by the community at large, but I’ve never really liked it. Between a bit too much Surge and Bellach’s Scour effect, there’s an annoying chance of getting totally flooded with encounter cards, and it just ends up frustrating if you don’t have the right kind of deck(s).
It’s also the quest which in the past I felt suffered the most from the Time mechanics needing to be shoehorned into every single quest in the ring-maker cycle, though a full discussion of why would be a topic for another blog post.

Much like Nin-in-Eilph, actually, Celebrimbor’s Secret really pushes you towards trying to clear the board of encounter cards as efficiently as possible, but not because of negative effects while they remain in play, just because you’ll end up with too much stuff to sensibly deal with. Though negative effects dealing damage to locations and thus accelerating The Orcs’ Search is a concern. So you want everything out of play so it can’t deal damage to locations, locations out of play so they can’t take damage and end up under The Orcs’ Search, and enemies out of play because Bellach’s going to give you more every time Scour effects go off and you’ll just get overwhelmed. A fairly aggressive approach is required.
The Nightmare deck doesn’t really do anything to change those basic dynamics and requirements, though I’d say it does do a bit more to make The Orcs’ Search a factor in the quest beyond just being something to avoid. The Nightmare setup card does limit location control effects a little, but not much. It stops you placing more than one progress with a single effect, but you can still place many separate instances of one progress, so it basically just means Glorfindel is no better with Asfaloth than any other elf, The Evening Star is half as good as normal, and… that’s about it with a progression-style card pool.

So, significant deckbuilding concerns essentially boil down to: some location control is good, and I want to be able to quest and kill enemies efficiently pretty much right out of the gate. Build aggro decks, looking for speed and efficiency.

Strike With Judgement

Aragorn (Ta)

Allies (20):
Galadhon Archer x3
Westfold Outrider x3
Mablung x3
Quickbeam x3
Wandering Ent x3
Warden of Healing x3
Henamarth Riversong x2

Attachments (23):
Lembas x3
Protector of Lorien x3
Asfaloth x3
Arod x3
Rohan Warhorse x3
Gondorian Shield x3
Dagger of Westernesse x3
Captain of Gondor x2

Events (6):
Daeron’s Runes x3
Gildor’s Counsel x3

Side-quests (1):
Scout Ahead x1

Thoughts: Nothing says ‘speed and efficiency’ like Erestor, also he’s a hero I don’t use as much as I possibly should. Bifur helps with the efficiency of playing cards, in particular hopefully allowing me to do a bit more with my initial 10 card hand. Tactics Aragorn is generally my first thought when it comes to efficiently killing enemies, and on the card playing front he can handily get extra resources from Arwen in the other deck.
It should be noted that in deference to Erestor’s forced discard, the only cards with less than 3 copies where I could’ve included more are Henamarth Riversong and Captain of Gondor – both cheap, unique, and not that important overall. Scout Ahead obviously I had no choice to include more. I also omitted Gather Information from my side-quests because it wouldn’t really work so well with Erestor. The other deck efficiency note is that the only card costing more than 2 is Gildor’s Counsel, which is of course really good for limiting the encounter deck, and I can still reliably play it since I can get extra resources to both Erestor and Bifur if need be.
The allies were all chosen for standard willpower and attack except obviously the Wardens of Healing. Westfold Outriders of course can be used to remove enemies from the staging area either before quest resolution to make more progress or after enemy attacks to kill an enemy without needing to defend it.
In attachments, Lembas is flexible but primarily intended for Erkenbrand in the other deck, as are the Gondorian Shields. I have my location control here with Asfaloth and Arod. Captain of Gondor, Rohan Warhorses and Daggers are for Aragorn, to get more attack power for tougher enemies and/or more attacks to get more kills in a single combat. Protector of Lorien can let this deck use those duplicate uniques for extra willpower, and could also be played over onto Erkenbrand for defensive purposes.
Daeron’s Runes just helps find the specific cards I want at any given moment. Gildor’s Counsel and Scout Ahead can keep the encounter deck more under control, plus Scout Ahead is free, which is a favourable point in an Erestor deck.

Far and Deep Sight

Arwen Undomiel
Cirdan the Shipwright

Allies (21):
Gandalf (Core) x3
Envoy of Pelargir x3
Naith Guide x3
Galadriel’s Handmaiden x3
West Road Traveller x3
Sailor of Lune x3
Northern Tracker x3

Attachments (15):
Steward of Gondor x3
Dunedain Warning x3
Thror’s Key x3
Unexpected Courage x3
Silver Harp x3

Events (12):
A Test of Will x3
Elven-light x3
Elrond’s Counsel x3
Sneak Attack x3

Side-quests (2):
Send for Aid x1
Double Back x1

Thoughts: Arwen continues to be a great choice for deck efficiency. Cirdan improves the draw and has that very useful 4 willpower. Erkenbrand can cover defensive duties admirably, including avoiding bad shadow effects with no other cards required. Handily this quest doesn’t have too many high enemy attack values and I should be able to get Erkenbrand set up before I have to deal with them.
The allies in this deck were chosen almost entirely for their willpower. Northern Trackers of course are for location control if needed, potentially combat if not, while Gandalf is flexible. It’s worth noting that all the enters play abilities on the allies could become relevant – Naith Guide probably to get use out of Erestor’s attack, Envoy of Pelargir to redistribute resources if Erkenbrand has too many, Galadriel’s Handmaiden in general but particularly for engagement costs if The Orcs’ Search is becoming a problem, and West Road Travellers to handle some annoying travel costs. I should also note that several of these allies have only one hit point and are thus at risk from Take Cover, but I’m basically resolves that I’ll just have to remove a Time counter for that if it comes up when I have an appreciably sized board state in play.
The placement of Steward of Gondor is somewhat flexible depending on the situation when I draw it. Obviously the deck has more to pay for in Spirit, but Erkenbrand is the one hero on the table who can’t get extra resources somehow, so if I have several Leadership cards to play or really want the extra point of defence from a Gondorian Shield then he can have Steward. The excess resources can also be passed over to Bifur or used on Neutral cards like Envoys of Pelargir or Gandalf. Dunedain Warnings in addition to the Shields in the other deck ensure Erkenbrand should be able to get his defence up reliably enough despite the risk of relevant cards getting discarded to Erestor or Cirdan. Thror’s Key can avoid some of the problems with the locations in this quest. Unexpected Courage is mainly intended for Erkenbrand, but possibly also Aragorn if I need more attacks. Silver Harp can stop this deck losing important cards to Cirdan.
The events should speak for themselves. The side-quests also seem pretty obvious reasoning to me, once again no Gather Information because it wouldn’t really help the Erestor deck – and both decks have pretty strong draw anyway. I will note that while I said this quest requires a fairly aggressive approach, that was in regard to clearing out locations and enemies rather than actually advancing through quest stages. That I can afford to take a bit more time over and complete a side quest or two if it’ll help.

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