Alright, the one thing which remains for me to do with The Line Unbroken before I ditch Nightmare for another little while is the Nightmare Fellowship of the Ring wrap-up, since I’ve just finished the relevant quests.
So of course the customary thing here is for me to talk about my player card usage. But in this case I have little to say. My hero selection has only changed once because I’m playing in campaign mode, and the contents of the decks hasn’t changed that much because I figured out a solid setup from which I didn’t really need to deviate too much – and also of course because while they have their own individual quirks the campaign quests don’t deviate from the norm too wildly. Even switching out Beorn for Eowyn didn’t change things that much.
The main things which stick out to me looking back on my deckbuilding choices are the validity of substitute options when I was trying to avoid weak allies – Parting Gifts instead of Errand-riders, Lembas instead of Wardens of Healing;the effective use of the rarely seen Noiseless Movement and Saruman; and I continue to be reminded why I used to consider Secret Paths an auto-include in Lore decks.
On to considering the quests one by one:
A Shadow of the Past didn’t change hugely in the Nightmare transition. There are more Nazgul to worry about and never failing a Hide test is even more imperative. In fact this is a great example of a certain kind of very good Nightmare transition – doesn’t change up the mechanics, it just trims the fat and focuses all the more on the things which make the quest distinctive.
A Knife in the Dark removed the option of Weather Hills cheese and made Weathertop a compulsory problem rather than a bad but ignorable option; but most significantly it restricted the options for dealing with Bill Ferny. As noted in the specific blog post I have mixed feelings about this, but ultimately it’s fine.
Flight to the Ford has the big example in these quests of Nightmare rebalancing rather than just ramping up the difficulty in the change to the Fell Riders making them potentially easier than the non-Nightmare version. I used to be very against the change to the Ford of Bruinen, but really they just couldn’t leave that in the Nightmare version, it was far too beneficial to the players.
The Ring Goes South inserted an interesting twist with the Pale Green Tentacles, making the advance to stage 4 that much more hectic. I imagine this could be hell in four player, with four Tentacles dropping an instant 4 damage on the Doors of Durin, to be added to with more engagements and other encounter cards, making the loss at 9 damage a serious risk since unlike the sources of damage, the loss threshold doesn’t scale with player count. Playing it 2-handed though it was alright for me.
Journey in the Dark is kind of the reverse of Flight to the Ford, where the big change to the challenge brought the quest more in line with the theme than previously – in that you can’t complete the quest without defeating the Balrog. And while it doesn’t completely stop you getting through without a Fallen Hero, it does make it a lot more difficult.
As noted in the individual blog post, I consider this the first really iconic moment in the campaign, and the Nightmare deck definitely maintains that. The most interesting and potentially questionable changes are the treacheries which provide the Balrog with its weapons – very interesting and of course the fight with the Balrog is the big aspect of the quest so powering it up makes sense, but since they’re only x1 and can be cancelled like any other treachery, it’s entirely possible to play the quest multiple times and not have to deal with them. And whether or not you have to deal with the weapons can cause a sizeable swing in the overall difficulty of the quest.
Breaking of the Fellowship as I noted in the individual blog post does not change a huge amount in the transition to Nightmare, it’s very much the same but more difficult.
I commented on the Nightmare Ring-maker cycle that the quests were mostly the same but more difficult, and that’s fairly true of the Nightmare LotR campaign so far as well. To be honest it makes a fair amount of sense, because at this point we’re dealing with pretty well designed quests, so they don’t need a massive overhaul to fix problems, just odd tweaks, tighter focus and a bump to the difficulty.
The hardest quests: Shadow of the Past, Journey in the Dark.
My favourite quests: Journey in the Dark.
My least favourite quests: Shadow of the Past
The biggest difficulty spikes: Ring Goes South.
The best transitions: Journey in the Dark.
The worst transitions: N/A.
Yeah, I can’t really pick out a bad transition from among these quests. Biggest difficulty spike was also difficult to pick out, I think they’ve all been pretty reasonable and consistent in the difficulty increase.
And with that, I am entirely out of another lengthy Nightmare detour and should soon be returning to regular difficulty for the Haradrim cycle.