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Quests Revisited: Into The Pit

by on October 26, 2015

moria art

Hello Tales from the Cards community! My name is Thomas and I am relatively new to the game; I started playing in April and have greatly enjoyed the experience as I try to catch up with the current game state. I generally play either two-handed or multiplayer depending on whether I can convince my friends to join in on an adventure. When I first learned the game, like many of us, I struggled with the difficulty and sought out strategy tips from both this blog and Hall of Beorn, in addition to listening to the Grey Company Podcast. All are excellent resources for a new player who may be unsure what to do within the core set and beyond.

My goal as a contributor is to analyze quests that veterans are familiar with, but newer players are experiencing for the first time as they enter the game. I also want to give my impressions and recommendations for somewhat thematic decks to tackle the scenarios. There is plenty of information on how to deal with those pesky hill trolls and spiders in the core set, but not as much for the Moria goblins from the Dwarrowdelf cycle or the Haradrim in the Against the Shadow cycle. I hope to be a resource for those looking to continue but that may still want help on a quest by quest basis. Without further ado, let’s go Into the Pit with Thorin and company!

Analysis and Suggestions

In preparation for this post, I assembled the two decks and made sure to play test them multiple times against this scenario to see how the encounter deck differs from game to game. I looked at the encounter cards and knew I needed to include Hasty Stroke to deal with Sudden Pitfall specifically, as well as other cards such as Goblin Tunnels or Burning Low if I needed to exhaust the Cave Torch to make progress. I think the dwarves would appreciate not losing Dain Ironfoot to some lowly goblin, especially considering Thror’s death earlier in Tolkien’s lore. Sudden Pitfall is brutal because neither Eleanor nor A Test of Will can cancel the when revealed effect; I relied on dwarven swarm to minimize the chance of one of my heroes dying. As long as someone else was questing too, then the heroes wouldn’t plunge to their demise. Luckily, with this particular card, it was discarded by the encounter deck through either the cave torch forced response or by the Patrol Leader and never triggered throughout my play time.


A Test of Will was still included in my spirit-tactics deck because the when revealed effects of the hazards encounter cards were not something I wanted to deal with. I especially wanted to cancel Dreadful Gap because it is difficult to clear when using two dwarf swarm decks. The card showed up in the second game and by that point there were 12 dwarves in play. Dwarves aren’t great at crossing ravines because of their short stature, but they managed to get over it. Or they died trying.


Location control was the biggest issue I had with this scenario. In order to complete stage 1B, the East-Gate, First Hall, and Bridge of Khazad-Dum all have to be cleared first. The East-Gate starts as the active location, so it is crucial to clear through this location as fast as possible in order to minimize the risk of getting location locked. As long as Dain is active, it is possible to clear that location within two turns; any longer than that and it increases the chance of not being able to move on and eventually threating out. Once the gate is explored, it is easier to continue making progress but it is still difficult because of the high threat costs of most of the locations. While the Gate’s lets the player ignore combat until it is gone, getting too many Goblin Scouts in the staging area without a way to kill them adds to the frustration.

The cave torch included in setup is valuable to control the number of locations. Typically whenever Branching Paths came into play, I would use the torch to clear it and risk another enemy entering play. It’s easier to deal with a wimpy goblin instead of blindly walking around in the dark. Some additional cards that are useful to help deal with the locations are standards cards such as Asfaloth, Northern Tracker, or Riddermark’s Finest, but Untroubled by Darkness and Ancestral Knowledge are great for this deck. While not entirely location controlling, these latter cards are fantastic for this scenario if dwarves are in play because many of the locations are dark or underground. Willpower boosting is one way to deal with locations if one can be cleared every turn.


Since there are so many underground locations, two other cards that I absolutely love are Ever My Heart Rises and ally Bombur. These cards are not used consistently in most decks, but they work great for the second cycle. The former works great on Thorin Oakenshield and Thalin so that they can both quest and also be ready to kill goblins later on. Between that card and Unexpected Courage, Thorin can become a one man goblin-cleaver. The threat reduction is fantastic too since each player is guaranteed to increase his threat as a result of the First Hall. Nori helps control one deck’s threat, but Thorin needs the help unless Gandalf appears in a puff of smoke. Bombur’s ability to completely ignore the 5 threat of Zigil Mineshaft cannot be underestimated in the early stage of the quest. As mentioned earlier, location lock can occur quickly and his ability is too good to pass up.


Once stage 1B is complete, then the heroes get ambushed by goblins and the strategy shifts from running through mineshafts to axe-murdering goblins. It is possible for stage 2B to be completed by questing, but I think dwarves would rather behead their new “friends.” I recommend either having one strong defender who can take hits from the Patrol Leader or having chump blockers. It is critical to try and avoid undefended attacks if at all possible for this scenario. There are too many shadow effects that increase attack strength that could outright kill a hero if the Goblin Swordsman has its way. While Hasty Stroke is great in an emergency, it’s likely not to show up when it’s needed. The nice thing with this scenario is that, except for the Patrol Leader, goblins can take minimal hits. The key is to have either more bodies than they do, or for Gimli and/or Thorin to mow them down.

When no enemies are in play, the heroes continue on to stage 3B. At this point, the quest card should not be up for more than one or two turns before things start to get out of hand. Resources are no longer regularly collected; before the last goblin is killed in the previous stage, it is important to have enough cards in play to break through the mines and reach Balin. If there is enough questing power, it is easy to continue running through the halls.

Closing Thoughts

Overall, I find this to be a bland quest. Each play through took me approximately an hour to complete. The deck(s) used needs to be relatively balanced with combat and questing in order to succeed. Some form of location control or willpower boosting is a must, especially in the early stage of the quest. Other than that, there doesn’t appear to be required cards to beat this quest unlike A Journey to Rhosgobel. Once the heroes make it to stage 2B, the scenario doesn’t feel that difficult if enough characters are in play to take and deal hits. This holds true if enough characters are still alive by the time stage 3B flips. Unless Sudden Pitfall shows up as an unfortunate card that cannot be cancelled, the scenario isn’t that punishing. To be fair, I used modern dwarf decks so the result may be skewed, but it makes more sense thematically than taking elves or Rohirrim through the mines searching for Balin. The next scenario should be more difficult, and also more entertaining, since it adds in some trolls and stronger orcs and focuses more on combat than questing.


Thorin and Company

Total Cards: (55)

Heroes: (3)

Dain Ironfoot


Thorin Oakenshield

Allies: (25)

Bifur (3)

Bombur (2)

Dori (2)

Erebor Record Keeper (3)

Fili (3)

Gandalf (3) (Core)

Gloin (2)

Kili (2)

Longbeard Orc Slayer (2)

Miner of the Iron Hills (2)

Attachments: (8)

Hardy Leadership (2)

King Under the Mountain (2)

Legacy of Durin (2)

Narvi’s Belt (2)

Events: (23)

A Very Good Tale (3)

Ancestral Knowledge (3)

Durin’s Song (3)

Hidden Cache (3)

Lure of Moria (3)

Sneak Attack (2)

To Me! O My Kinsfolk! (3)

We Are Not Idle (3)


Gimli and Friends

Total Cards: (56)

Heroes: (3)




Allies: (21)

Blue Mountain Trader (3)

Bofur (3)

Dwalin (3)

Erebor Battle Master (3)

Gandalf (3)

Longbeard Sentry (3)

Veteran Axehand (3)

Attachments: (17)

Blade of Gondolin (2)

Citadel Plate (2)

Dwarven Axe (2)

Dwarrowdelf Axe (3)

Ever My Heart Rises (3)

Ring Mail (3)

Unexpected Courage (2)

Events: (18)

A Test of Will (3)

Foe-Hammer (3)

Goblin-Cleaver (3)

Hasty Stroke (3)

Khazad! Khazad! (3)

Untroubled by Darkness (3)

  1. Doug Ratman permalink

    I found this to be a rather monotonous quest as well. Knocked me upside the head a few times by throwing tons of locations at my tactics dwarfs back in the long-long ago, when I was afraid of putting more than one sphere in a single deck. Imagine my surprise when my DWARFS got lost in the halls of MORIA. Once you get some questing power/location control on the board the quest becomes rather dull. The next two quests are much more interesting. I find the second one to be a perfect introductory quest, as it is fast-paced and exciting, and not horribly punishing.

  2. If your intended audience are newer players, then it might be a good idea to artificially restrict the card pool you are drawing from to build your decks (for example, all the cards that had come out at the end of the featured adventure’s cycle). I think most new players haven’t gone all out and bought EVERYTHING, but instead only own a relatively small card pool. Or maybe I’m just projecting, because I “only” own around 50% of the current card pool.

    • Julianna permalink

      I would second this. As a relatively new player (I’ve had at least the core set for a year), I only have Core, Mirkwood, and the two Hobbit expansions. Limiting your card pool would serve better as a ‘new person going through these quests’ than using all the available cards ever as I know some don’t even have the Hobbit expansions by the time they get to Dwarrodelf. If I remember correctly, the Hobbit saga boxes weren’t released till after the end of that cycle which would remove quite a few of the cards that you used in your decks if you only played with what was available at the time of the release of the last AP of the adventure’s cycle. I agree with mcnoat that this would provide a more relatable type of article to new players.

  3. I think one of the interesting aspects of being a newer player is you aren’t restricted by the release date of an expansion or an adventure pack; you are only restricted by the cards you own.

    I’ve played for a little over a year, but I didn’t own Shadows of Mirkwood or the Hobbit Expansions until a good amount of time had passed, but I had the Black Riders and The Voice of Isengard from the beginning.

    I read this as a playthrough of a Moria-centric retro-quest of yesteryear with a Dwarf deck that draws upon the current cardpool… similar in spirit to an article I wrote in March:

    Something newer players might ask, and open discussion about, is what cards do we own that can achieve a similar effect in the game?

    We will end up sacrificing theme, but we’ll have something playable:

    Maybe Winged Guardian for Longbeard Sentry,
    Maybe Zigil Miner for Blue Mountain Trader.

    Losing Thorin, Ori, and Nori will call for a restructuring of the decks heroes, so there would be a good deal more work to be done to limit the cardpool based on release, but we as readers should open the discussion.

  4. I tried it solo with a Dwarf-heavy Deck made up of a modern card pool:
    Dain, Dori, Oin

    Finished in 8 rounds with no hero deaths and 48 threat!

    Deck needs massaging, but it worked:

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