Hunt for the Dreadnaught

Alright, so I’m doing my best at getting things done, but I’d say I’m not that far behind to come now to talking about Hunt for the Dreadnaught. The quest which would have been the GenCon/Fellowship event quest last year had both those things not been cancelled, and the last bit of official LotR LCG content we’re going to see for some time. Since I got to play it in an OCTGN epic multiplayer session a few weeks back I’m going to treat it kind of like the two years I had local Fellowship events, so this is a post giving some generalities and I intend to follow up with a more detailed review of the quest.

I like this quest. It’s notably less difficult than I expected, though of course it does have the in-built difficulty settings. Hard mode looks nigh impossible at first glance, certainly without custom deckbuilding I’d expect it to just end up with everyone threating out. As in so many quests, there are things which can catch you out if you’re ill-prepared, with the quest hitting fairly hard in threat and archery damage, and of course the potential for combat to become overwhelming between limited Ship defences and Boarding to just present too many enemies at once.
One point about the mechanics of this quest is that while it recycles the Ship and Boarding mechanics from the Dream-chaser cycle, the Sailing keyword is notably absent from the quest cards. Which seems a little odd but does expand the variety of decks which can be played against the quest since you don’t need a high character count to do Sailing tests – perhaps this was particularly a greater concern after the release of the Contracts, including Forth, The Three Hunters!
Speaking of which, the contract included with the pack looks pretty interesting, but I haven’t tried it out at all so I can’t really say anything about it in detail.
Another odd thing about this quest is that the epic multiplayer doesn’t require rounds to sync up like in Siege of Annuminas/Attack on Dol Guldur. In those quests there are options on various inter-group interactions at the ends of rounds so everyone needs to finish a round before all groups can move on – here, by contrast, there are some effects which allow bonuses to be sent to other groups, but they can be triggered at any point even if e.g. the relevant groups are in different phases and one is three rounds ahead of the other. Also those effects allow the option to keep the benefits for yourselves so the quest could be played as just a bunch of separate games except for the shared quest point and hit point values which everyone is working on. That said, for the epic multiplayer session I played in we had a house rule that we weren’t allowed to keep triggered benefits for ourselves but rather we had to offer them to other groups.
Honestly the most interesting thing about the quest from my perspective is the Ship objectives and the number of potentially cool shenanigans you can do with player decks to work with them. Immediate thoughts just glancing through the selection of ships: Eithiliant with Tactics Imrahil or Lothiriel, to slot strong out-of-trait heroes into trait decks, or making strong heroes Hobbits to get access to Fast Hitches; Golden Wing and Pride of Lebennin since the Ship-objectives are technically encounter cards can apply their bonuses to hero Beorn, which is a pretty big deal; Twilight’s Call allowing you to mess about with timing of playing cards to delay decisions until you have more information or trigger enters play/“when you play this card” effects at different points in the round rather than them having to be in the Planning phase. Like a more flexible Thranduil. No particular shenanigans spring to mind for Silent Mist and the Swan Ship of Dol Amroth, they’re just really good.
My one final note is unrelated to the mechanics of playing the quest, but I’m personally delighted that this is the first and only quest in this game for which the encounter cards use gender neutral language in reference to the players, rather than assuming them to be male.

So, before playing the quest I skimmed Hall of Beorn a little while figuring out my deck, but I tried to go into the quest mostly blind, as that’s the way I usually like to experience quests for the first time. The only thing I looked at in detail was the ships since they related to my deckbuilding, and outside of that I checked for condition treacheries, glanced at the shadow effects, and confirmed the lack of Sailing tests. Outside of that I was just going for things I know are good in general.
Specifically, my teammates were picking decks which looked pretty good for covering the standard bases, and as soon as I looked at the ability on Silent Mist I immediately thought “discounted Gildor’s Counsel, yes please.” Also I’d never used the Messenger of the King contract before, so I built a mono-Lore encounter deck manipulation deck which ultimately ended up looking like this:

Silently Scouting the Misty Seas

Contract:
Messenger of the King

Heroes:
(MotK) Firyal
Thurindir
Denethor (Lo)

Allies (9):
Halfling Bounder x3
Warden of Healing x3
Woodland Sentry x2
Firyal x1

Attachments (7):
Scroll of Isildur x3
Resourceful x3
Magic Ring x1

Events (32):
Keen as Lances x3
Bartering x3
Daeron’s Runes x3
Mithrandir’s Advice x3
Heed the Dream x3
Gildor’s Counsel x3
Out of the Wild x3
None Return x3
Leave no Trace x2
The Door is Closed! x2
The Great Hunt x2
The Free Peoples x2

Side-quests (2):
Gather Information x1
Scout Ahead x1

So with the idea of the deck being encounter deck manipulation, MotK Firyal and Lore Denethor are the obvious choices. Thurindir I put in so we could do an instant Gather Information and help everyone grab their key cards, including me. For me, the crucial things I was looking for between my 8 card starting hand, draw and Gather Information was the 3-card combo of Scroll of Isildur → Bartering → Resourceful. That was actually the last thing I added to the deck only a couple of hours before playing, because I was concerned I wouldn’t have enough resources even with the Silent Mist discount.
Non-event cards in the deck – I covered Gather Information, and Scout Ahead is a no-brainer in a deck like this so long as the quest doesn’t punish stalling (it doesn’t, every single group did side-quests at the start). Halfling Bounders are a perfect fit given that we are doing side-quests, Wardens of Healing are just standard and this quest has a decent amount of archery so it’s good to have them; and the Woodland Sentry is once again a perfect fit for an encounter deck manipulation deck – but I limited myself to 2 copies since they’re more expensive and only work later in the game once set up. In attachments, the Magic Ring can add resources or do healing, maybe ready Denethor in a pinch, but given that threat is a significant challenge of this quest I might rethink including it if I were to do this again; Resourceful provides resources and I can effectively play it for 1 with the Bartering/Scroll trick, and the Scrolls of Isildur are useful even outside of that trick to let me recycle some of the great Lore events my deck is running on (though it’s worth noting that unfortunately I can’t take advantage of the Silent Mist discount when using the Scrolls to replay events as I can’t trigger both actions simultaneously).
Which brings me to the subject of said events. I omitted Deep Knowledge because I knew that threat was apparently an issue, though I didn’t know the extent of it in advance, but otherwise card draw was a focus, thus the standard Daeron’s Runes and Mithrandir’s Advice in mono-Lore, plus Heed the Dream which of course has that handy co-op potential. Bartering I mentioned is there purely to set up Resourcefuls so I can more easily afford my stuff. And Keen As Lances of course is incredibly powerful once the victory display is set up. That covers all the events included to help my deck run smoothly, onto the ones included to actually do things to the board state.
So Gildor’s Counsel of course was part of my original idea for building the deck, because just reducing the number of card reveals is one of the most powerful ways to control the encounter deck and Silent Mist gives me a discount on it. I also get the Silent Mist discount on Out of the Wild, which makes it more palatable to play outside of Secrecy (if I’d been able to upgrade my ship, that would have given me the same discount as if I were in Secrecy). Between Out of the Wild, None Return, Leave no Trace (only 2x because locations aren’t as bad as enemies or treacheries as a general rule) and Scout Ahead I should easily be able to mould the encounter deck into a more favourable form and set up for the use of Woodland Sentries and The Door is Closed! (albeit they’re both only 2x for the same reasons mentioned earlier that they’re only useful later in the game once set up). I can’t benefit from the Silent Mist discount on The Great Hunt unfortunately because if I reduce its cost then I’m not paying from 3 different heroes’ resource pools and thus can’t play it. But it’s a great way of avoiding a lot of annoying combat particularly since with Boarding I could be preventing us engaging as many as 4 enemies rather than just the 1. Finally The Free Peoples obviously has some potential for clutch plays if we really need those extra actions, I can get the Silent Mist discount on it, and I can definitely play it because my Ship counts as a character and it has two traits (Ship, Basic/Upgraded) to add to the seven on my heroes (Harad, Scout, Dunedain, Ranger, Gondor, Noble, Steward).

I’m not going to offer lists and full descriptions for my teammates decks, but they comprised a children of Elrond Forth the Three Hunters deck; a Bond of Friendship Hobbit deck; and a more generic questing/location control deck.

I picked up my old twitch stream for the first time in years as no-one else on my team was streaming, so here’s the video of how it went for us:

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