Quests Revisited: Flight from Moria
Enjoy the continuation of Thomas N.’s “Quests Revisited” series, as he finished off the Khazad-dum box! -Ian
Now that I don’t have finals to worry about and I’m home from traveling, I will continue my Quests Revisited series where I give my perspective on playing through earlier scenarios with a chronologically restricted card pool. When I last wrote, the dwarvish company defeated a plethora of enemies in the Chamber of Mazarbul and started fleeing Moria. This particular quest highlights their departure from Moria while pursued by The Nameless Fear. As the heroes approach the exit, The Nameless Fear becomes stronger. The multiple stage 2 quest cards and the alternate win conditions create intriguing deck building challenges. Let’s finish Khazad-Dum with Flight from Moria!
As usual, there are plenty of treacheries. Some of them possess game ending potential if they manage to appear at the wrong time. A Foe Beyond and Sudden Pitfall in particular caused two hero deaths in my play throughs; unfortunately, they both can’t be canceled. My method for mitigating Sudden Pitfall was to make sure I had enough bodies questing in each deck so it wouldn’t auto-kill a hero. This strategy doesn’t work as well for A Foe Beyond, so I decided that extra health from Citadel Plate needed to suffice.
Hero selection attempts to stay somewhat thematic with dwarves, since they were searching for Balin in their ancestral home. However, given a restricted card pool, it makes it difficult when I desperately need spirit for this scenario. Eleanor is included to cancel whatever treacheries she can; if there isn’t a game-ending treachery, her two defense soaks up some damage from goblins. Dwalin provides killing potential for the leadership-spirit deck while Dain boosts dwarves. One of the issues during the early part of the game is having enough willpower to overcome threat in the staging area. Eowyn could easily solve this, but then it leaves the deck somewhat vulnerable to enemies without ranged in the other deck; however if I did sub her in, it would be in place of Dwalin, since Eleanor is recommended to help deal with treacheries.
For the other deck, Bifur is an obvious choice because of low threat, his ability, and the dwarf trait. Thalin is also somewhat obvious because his ability kills the Orc Drummer and the Goblin Archer when they are revealed. Additionally, eight other enemies are reduced to one health by his ability, making them easy to kill with Gondorian Spearmen. Gimli is included as the third hero to provide a tank to deal with the Great Cave-Trolls; Forest Snares can’t be played on them, so either a tank or chump blockers are the only way to deal with their attacks.
For allies, dwarves and Rohirrim are included to get enough willpower on the table. Since all the locations are underground, Untroubled by Darkness is a great boost for dwarves. Faramir is also an obvious inclusion to further make sure the party can advance through the early game. One of the easiest ways to lose this scenario is not being able to make progress during the questing phase. Cave In also contributes to the frustration, especially if only one more progress is needed to pass a particular stage. Faramir and Untroubled by Darkness also help out in the later part of the game, especially when eight points are in the victory display.
Events for both decks are straight forward too. Hasty Stroke for shadow cancellation, A Test of Will for further treachery cancellation (to a point), Ancestral Knowledge and Ride for Ruin for location control, Feint for high attack enemies, and Durin’s Song and Khazad! Khazad! for temporary boosts.
Two other event cards were included specifically for Blocked by Shadow (see below). It isn’t possible to predict the first time the stage reveals itself, but because the stages can be bypassed, one can track where it is in the rotation if New Devilry doesn’t trigger. This stage is a riskier win condition compared to Escape from Darkness (also, see below). However, Rumour from the Earth and Shadow of the Past can mitigate the risk.
This is the first time I used either of these cards because they didn’t seem useful until now. If played properly, they can be extremely potent. Knowing whether the next card is a treachery can determine a win or loss with Blocked by Shadow. If the card isn’t a treachery, then at least one of the decks is completely in the clear. Worse comes to worse, one of the decks is blocked by Nameless Fear while the other one successfully escapes Moria. The puzzle gets solved if the top card is an enemy or location and if the top card in the discard pile is also not a treachery. If both conditions are true, Shadow of the Past guarantees the survival of both decks so one final push happens, leading to a game win. This trick takes a bit of luck and a bit of set up, but Shadow of the Past clinched a victory. It is also great to mitigate the likelihood of New Devilry or Cave In delaying an eventual win.
Game Experience and Strategy:
Of the four games I played, only one of them ended in complete disaster. As mentioned above, the danger of these decks is getting enough willpower on the board quickly. The first four cards revealed were the Chieftain of the Pit, both trolls, and a Goblin Spearman; a total of ten willpower to deal with on turn one. In addition, only one opening hand, even after mulligans, contributed an ally. To make matters worse, the shadow card for Goblin Spearman was Sudden Pitfall, which killed Dain. Without him, the rest of the cards don’t work well without allies and so the game ended pretty quickly after that. The trolls eventually engaged, killed two more heroes, and at that point it wasn’t salvageable. Moral of the story, if the right cards show up on turn one and the wrong cards show up in hand, this quest gets infinitely more difficult.
However, the remaining three games went well. Once Rohirrim and dwarves hit the table, questing was straightforward. Undisturbed Bones triggered against heroes and in general, there were enough characters in play to push through. Two games ended by Escaping from Darkness with the Abandoned Tools found in the Narrow Paths. Part of this quest relies on finesse when it comes to deciding whether to bypass or complete a quest stage. In general, I found that bypassing locations was usually the right decision, since it didn’t make Nameless Fear any stronger. Once Abandoned Tools showed up and the heroes controlled it, then the decision was easy: continue to bypass stages until Escape from Darkness appears.
One way to make escape easier is attaching Abandoned Tools to a character that can either self-ready or ready through other cards. Boromir is a great choice and breaks through the walls in a single turn. However, Dwalin worked wonders in combination with Erebor Record Keepers and Westfold Horse-Breakers. He led the party out of Moria in two rounds because of this combination of cards. With the right setup, victory is nearly always guaranteed through this exit.
The final game was fascinating compared to the others. Blocked by Shadow came up and was immediately ignored; there was no idea what the encounter deck held since it was the first turn. It randomly disappeared because of New Devilry and two more quest stages were successfully added to the victory display in subsequent turns. Rumour from the Earth and Shadow of the Past were in one hand before the staging step of the quest phase and I figured I would try the combo, since it was possible that Blocked by Shadow could come up. The top card of the encounter deck was Dreadful Gap; the top discard was a Stray Goblin. Lo and behold, the next quest stage was Blocked by Shadow! The combo worked exactly as it needed to!
Dreadful Gap entered play, which unfortunately meant that I had a significant location to get through due to twelve characters in play. The party made eleven progress in a turn through willpower boosting, which was one shy of clearing Dreadful Gap. However, a Goblin Spearman with A Foe Beyond for a shadow card attacked Eleanor and she died; A Foe Beyond dealt six damage. Her death cleared Dreadful Gap and the party rushed past Nameless Fear and through the Eastern Gate on the subsequent turn. It was the tensest game of the four, but also a memorable way to secure victory.
Of the three quests in Khazad-Dum, I struggled with Flight from Moria the most. If you follow the difficulty rankings at all, Flight from Moria is supposed to be the most difficult (for further discussion, see here: https://talesfromthecards.wordpress.com/2013/09/16/lotr-rants-difficulty-rating/). The treacheries and the possibility of getting overwhelmed add to this quest’s difficulty, but it is a great deckbuilding challenge. While The Seventh Level highlights combat, it is less necessary in Flight from Moria. If introducing this game to a newer player, The Seventh Level is an excellent quest to start because of the combat focus. In Flight from Moria, if the wrong cards come up at the wrong time then the game ends. While much of this game is trying to solve each quest’s puzzle, it can be frustrating for new players. Overall, Khazad-Dum’s quests strike a balance that meet the needs of new players and those seeking an interesting puzzle given a restricted card pool. Now that the party successfully escaped Moria, they will have to escort Arwen through the Redhorn Gate and safely back to Rivendell.
Bonus: Travel Pictures!
Total Cards: (50)
Gimli (Core Set)
Thalin (Core Set)
1x Henamarth Riversong (Core Set)
2x Daughter of Nimrodel (Core Set)
2x Erebor Hammersmith (Core Set)
2x Gleowine (Core Set)
2x Miner of the Iron Hills (Core Set)
2x Mirkwood Runner (Return to Mirkwood)
3x Erebor Record Keeper (Khazad-Dum)
3x Gandalf (Core Set)
3x Gondorian Spearman (Core Set)
3x Veteran Axehand (Core Set)
2x Citadel Plate (Core Set)
2x Dwarven Axe (Core Set)
3x Burning Brand (Conflict at the Carrock)
3x Dwarrowdelf Axe (Khazad-Dum)
3x Song of Wisdom (Conflict at the Carrock)
2x Feint (Core Set)
3x Ancestral Knowledge (Khazad-Dum)
3x Khazad! Khazad! (Khazad-Dum)
3x Rumour from the Earth (Return to Mirkwood)
3x Shadow of the Past (Return to Mirkwood)
Total Cards (50)
Dain Ironfoot (Return to Mirkwood)
Eleanor (Core Set)
2x Faramir (Core Set)
2x Longbeard Orc Slayer
2x Northern Tracker (Core Set)
3x Escort from Edoras (A Journey to Rhosgobel)
3x Gandalf (Core Set)
3x Snowbourn Scout (Core Set)
3x West Road Traveller (Return to Mirkwood)
3x Westfold Horse-Breaker (The Hunt for Gollum)
3x Zigil Miner (Khazad-Dum)
1x Celebrian’s Stone (Core Set)
2x Steward of Gondor (Core Set)
3x Ancient Mathom (A Journey to Rhosgobel)
3x Narvi’s Belt (Khazad-Dum)
2x Hasty Stroke (Core Set)
2x Sneak Attack (Core Set)
2x Test of Will (Core Set)
2x Valiant Sacrifice (Core Set)
3x Durin’s Song (Khazad-Dum)
3x Ride to Ruin (The Hills of Emyn Muil)
3x Untroubled by Darkness (Khazad-Dum)