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Quests Revisited: The Seventh Level

by on December 4, 2015

moria art

Thomas continues his Quests Revisited series. Enjoy! -Ian

Hello! Last time I wrote, Thorin’s Company worked their way into the Mines of Moria and were able to survive a goblin ambush. Now, the dwarves continue their journey to determine why they haven’t heard from Balin. If only they knew the truth…

Before I continue, I read the comments on my previous post and have adjusted the two decks to fit what I intended to do, but didn’t accomplish for some readers. My goal as a contributor is to provide another resource for new players and many new players haven’t bought the entire card pool yet. I love the Lord of the Rings theme and that is the main reason why I started playing this game. I managed to pick up everything so far and am still somewhat overwhelmed by all the possible combinations, and even more continues to release. However, I will approach these quests with a limited card pool in mind. It also presents an interesting challenge to see what these quests were like when they first came out four years ago given the cards that were available. The two decks that I used include cards from the core set, Shadows of Mirkwood cycle, and the Khazad Dum expansion. If you happen to have the Hobbit expansions, the player cards work well with the ones used for this play through. Anyway, back to my experience with the quest using limited cards.

Deck Construction:

When I started building these two new decks, I knew that I still wanted to use predominantly dwarves because the quest takes place in Moria. I also wanted to use some heroes that I personally haven’t used frequently in other quests. I bought the Hobbit saga boxes before this expansion and until now I hadn’t used the hero versions of Dwalin or Bifur; I prefer their ally versions in dwarf decks. Another hero that I surprisingly haven’t used yet is Boromir. I wanted him in the lineup instead of Gimli because he can consistently be a defender if an eagle doesn’t show up. More on that experience later.

DwalinBifur cardboromir

The hero lineup thus far is Bifur, Dwalin, and Boromir. Because the decks are meant to be predominantly dwarves, Dain is an obvious choice. Thalin is included because his ability kills the Goblin Archers before they can fire an arrow. Without Thalin’s ability, I would slowly be peppered by arrows until I could pull Dunedain Cache or a Vassal of the Windlord. Finally, Gloin joined the company because extra resource generation is useful and it fits the ratio of the leadership deck that I wanted to build. Also, he is another dwarf hero that I haven’t used much outside of the core set.

Personally, I enjoy using leadership when I can (although in my current campaign group, I play mono spirit), and the resources generated from Gloin can keep Bifur funding Erebor Record Keepers because of Bifur’s ability. Even if Bifur doesn’t take a resource from Gloin every turn, giving Gloin a Song of Wisdom or Narvi’s Belt smooths the resources out. Dwalin and Boromir work well together because Boromir readies to defend by increasing threat, and Dwalin kills the orcs to lower threat. As long as Dwalin gets some axes, he insta-kills goblins so that threat is not a concern for that deck. These two combinations work well together and ready Dwalin when killing is required.

With the six heroes selected, the decks were injected with a plethora of long-beards. Because of the limited card pool, the tactics-spirit deck didn’t get as many dwarves as the leadership-lore deck. One deck had 8/25 dwarf allies compared to the ratio of 15/23. To compensate, eagles led by Landroval and some Gondorian Spearmen were included. There was an issue with this deck however; there wasn’t much resource generation and the tactics cards are difficult pay for without it. Steward of Gondor was given to Boromir to fund the eagles while Gloin’s hit points funded the dwarf army. If Self-Preservation or Citadel Plate got onto him before he took lethal damage, the resources kept flowing. The first time I played through this quest, Steward of Gondor was played within its own deck. It offered an excessive amount of resources while the Boromir deck struggled. Examples like this are one of the reasons why I enjoy playing the game with at least two decks; it encourages cooperation between players to make the best overall team possible.

While the dwarven contingent, eagle air force, and Boromir’s Gondor allies worked their way through Moria, the goblins prepared their assault on the party. Before I continue, let me just bring up the fact that there is now a group of eagles inside Moria. How do they manage to get through all the halls and chambers? And why do they support the dwarves in this assault? The best guess is that they don’t like goblins and also hate dealing with trolls as much as anyone who has attempted Journey Down the Anduin. Trolls are a gigantic pain, literally and figuratively, to deal with and they manage to create chaos and destruction wherever they go. Before anyone attempts this quest, make sure to include some way of dealing with the cave trolls or else risk defeat. (Side note, I dislike the Cave Trolls more than Hill Trolls because of reasons outlined later). Good examples are cards like Feint and Forest Snare. Even Quick Strike would work if a dwarf character had enough strength from a combination of weapons and Khazad! Khazad! Regardless, make sure to have a backup plan too; if the trolls manage to attack, then heroes die. RIP Thalin and Boromir.

Play Experience and Strategy:

Cave-trollIn the few games that I played, Thalin and Boromir managed to get themselves killed by the Cave Trolls. Thankfully not in the same game, but it makes the game much harder when a third of the resource generation for a deck is no longer present. Had both died in the same game, I am not sure how well the deck would function unless Dwalin managed to get both Steward of Gondor and Narvi’s Belt. Thalin died because the Winged Guardian that was supposed to take the hit got scared and flew away (the shadow effect from Undisturbed Bones); the attack was considered undefended and I chose to damage Thalin, leading to his death. Boromir and Dwalin needed to be alive so that the deck could still put out allies and consistently kill enemies. Even with Thalin’s death, the company was able to find Balin’s tomb and subsequently escape. In the second game, the cave troll got through the defenses again, but this time Landroval was in play and saved Boromir; he didn’t enjoy the experience of almost dying, so he and Dwalin joined forces and dispatched the troll and continued on their merry way. Moral of the story, trolls are difficult enemies and Landroval is a savior in an emergency.

In addition to the Cave Troll, this quest is filled with goblins. They constantly get added to the staging area due to shadow effects, the second stage’s forced effect, the Orc Horn Blower, and Watchful Eyes if it is attached. If there are enough bodies in play, and if the trolls and the Goblin Chieftain cooperate, then clearing a path through fresh corpses is straight-forward. One combo that makes quick work of most goblins is Thalin and the Longbeard Orc Slayer; the Orc Slayer can either be played during the planning phase to deal damage to all of the goblins that were wounded by Thalin in the previous round, or he can sneak attack in during the questing phase to kill off the weaker goblins and let the player pass through the halls unscathed. The Orc Slayer is great at his job in either of these cases. If that is not possible, most of the goblins have a low enough engagement cost that they attack the players and clear up the staging area anyway. There just end up being a lot of enemies to deal with in the combat phase if some don’t get taken out before the engagement phase.

The-Fate-of-Balin-2B

Orc-Horn-BlowerWatchful-Eyes

The locations in this scenario are less difficult than Into the Pit. The highest possible threat from any location is 3, which is manageable due to Dain inspiring his dwarven brethren. Plundered Armoury should be taken care of first because it boosts the attack of all goblins. It doesn’t make one individual attack from goblins devastating, but Boromir and Dain can only take so many hits before they die. Thankfully in my play throughs, only one of them appeared at any given time and it became the active location the round it entered play. Once explored, Dwalin or Thalin picked up some axes. Yay, free weapons!

Undisturbed-BonesIn regards to treachery cards, they aren’t too bad overall. Undisturbed Bones is probably the worst one to deal with because it will almost always kill an ally per deck, especially considering that both decks use swarming. It sucks to pull, but it generally isn’t going to be a game ender or clear the board unlike other treachery cards (looking at you Necromancer’s Reach). There are a few shadow effects that got nasty if the defender was an ally. As mentioned above, hopefully the troll doesn’t get the card that discards allies because the result is likely a hero death. Boromir is a great hero for this scenario if he can manage to get a song of wisdom and a burning brand; then he can constantly defend without fear of a goblin gaining an additional three attack from Goblin Tunnels. Shadow cancellation is great, but unless a specific combination occurs from the encounter deck, it isn’t as vital as it was in Into the Pit. My personal preference is to include Hasty Stroke and A Test of Will for those certain combos, but I don’t think it is necessary. This quest doesn’t have as many must cancel effects compared to other scenarios that come later in the game’s life.

Closing Thoughts:

Enemies: annoying but manageable if the trolls and the Chieftain of the Pit are not attacking. Locations: also manageable, more so than the previous quest. Treacheries and shadow effects: not terrible, unless a cave troll forces an undefended attack. Entertainment value: great. The emphasis on combat makes the quest more enjoyable to me than the previous one. The trolls and the constant swarm of goblins makes each combat phase interesting because the shadow effects could double the amount of enemies in play. Having said that, the enemies themselves, with the exception of the trolls, become generic due to their attack strength nearly the same. Overall, I enjoyed this quest and look forward to continuing this series with Flight from Moria!

 

Decks:

Total Cards: (52)

Hero: (3)

Dwalin (Khazad-dum)

Boromir (The Dead Marshes)

Thalin (Core Set)

Ally: (25)

3x Gandalf (Core Set)

3x Veteran Axehand (Core Set)

3x Zigil Miner (Khazad-dum)

2x Veteran of Nanduhirion (Khazad-dum)

3x Gondorian Spearman (Core Set)

2x Eagles of the Misty Mountains (Return to Mirkwood)

2x Descendant of Thorondor (The Hills of Emyn Muil)

1x Landroval (A Journey to Rhosgobel)

3x Vassal of the Windlord (The Dead Marshes)

3x Winged Guardian (The Hunt for Gollum)

Attachment: (15)

2x Blade of Gondolin (Core Set)

2x Citadel Plate (Core Set)

3x Dwarrowdelf Axe (Khazad-dum)

2x Dwarven Axe (Core Set)

2x Support of the Eagles (Return to Mirkwood)

1x Unexpected Courage (Core Set)

3x Ancient Mathom (A Journey to Rhosgobel)

Event: (12)

2x A Test of Will (Core Set)

2x Feint (Core Set)

2x Hasty Stroke (Core Set)

3x Khazad! Khazad! (Khazad-dum)

3x Untroubled by Darkness (Khazad-dum)

 

 

Total Cards: (52)

Hero: (3)

Dain Ironfoot (Return to Mirkwood)

Bifur (Khazad-dum)

Gloin (Core Set)

Ally: (23)

2x Erebor Hammersmith (Core Set)

3x Erebor Record Keeper (Khazad-dum)

3x Gandalf (Core Set)

2x Gleowine (Core Set)

2x Longbeard Orc Slayer (Core Set)

2x Miner of the Iron Hills (Core Set)

2x Faramir (Core Set)

1x Henamarth Riversong (Core Set)

3x Longbeard Map-Maker (Conflict at the Carrock)

3x Snowbourn Scout (Core Set)

Attachment: (19)

2x Narvi’s Belt (Khazad-dum)

2x Steward of Gondor (Core Set)

3x A Burning Brand (Conflict at the Carrock)

3x Song of Wisdom (Conflict at the Carrock)

2x Self Preservation (Core Set)

3x Dunedain Warning (Conflict at the Carrock)

2x Dunedain Cache (The Dead Marshes)

2x Forest Snare (Core Set)

Event: (10)

3x Campfire Tales (The Hunt for Gollum)

3x Durin’s Song (Khazad-dum)

2x Sneak Attack (Core Set)

2x Valiant Sacrifice (Core Set)

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One Comment
  1. Doug Ratman permalink

    It’s a good introductory quest and can be quite tough if you don’t have that many combat-oriented cards. However, if you do have them it gets really easy, to the point where there’s no point in playing it if your deck is a bit more powerful or finely tuned. Works best as an awesome introductory scenario – newbies love slaughtering them goblins.

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