Quests Revisited: The Redhorn Gate
Enjoy the continuation of Thomas N.’s “Quests Revisited” series, as he begins the Dwarrowdelf cycle! -Ian
Hello again Tales from the Cards community! I’m continuing my adventures progressing through quests using a restricted card pool in order to give strategy and suggestions. Last time I polished off Khazad-Dum, which leads me to the start of the Dwarrowdelf cycle. Our heroes successfully escaped Moria and are escorting Arwen from Lorien to Rivendell. The Redhorn Gate is the first of two quests in the progression which also introduce her brothers, Elladan and Elrohir; I’ll use both of them in the next quest, since it doesn’t make sense to use one without the other. Without further ado, let’s move on to the decks!
This time I’m joined by my friend Jacob so he can experience these quests as well as increase his deck building skills. He and two other friends play the campaign with me; he’s exclusively used leadership as his predominant sphere. When building these decks, I gave him the restriction of building a deck without any leadership cards in order for him to try out other spheres; the first deck is what I played, the second is his.
When designing these decks, one thing that immediately comes to mind is stage 3B and its interaction with Caradhras. These cards heavily decided which spheres to focus on in addition to deciding which allies and heroes to include. As a result, tactics is much less desirable for this quest due to low willpower allies and heroes.
While the dwarven swarms I previously ran worked, if Dain was exhausted from Avalanche! (more on that later) in combination with other treachery cards, it was likely going to kill off many dwarves. Instead, many allies had two willpower or willpower boosting effects in order to not succumb to snow storms or avalanches. Rohan cards are a perfect fit since they generally have higher willpower and Astonishing Speed is amazing at providing a boost during the quest phase. Faramir was also included for additional boosting: Ever Vigilant is great in this deck to further increase willpower by letting Faramir activate multiple times a round. Since Rohan was a main focus, it made sense to include Eowyn as the spirit hero and Prince Imrahil for a leadership hero; Eowyn has high willpower and Imrahil is fantastic when paired with a Rohan deck. Finally, Aragorn was selected since Celebrian’s Stone gives him a spirit icon in addition to two willpower. Steward of Gondor gets played on Aragorn to give readying resources so he needs a spirit sphere to properly balance the deck. Songs of Travel are also included to guarantee an early spirit icon for him.
Jacob decided he wanted to use a variety of cards in his deck, which explains the tri-sphere deck. He’s used Beravor before and loves directed card draw; Eleanor is fantastic for treachery cancellation like I mentioned in previous posts; Brand’s readying mechanic seemed interesting and his balanced stats led to his selection over Gimli or Legolas. At this stage in the game, it is extremely difficult to make a tri-sphere deck work without songs. Rivendell Minstrels and Songs of Wisdom, Travel, and Battle are included to help smooth resources. He’s also fond of attachments, which is why nearly half the deck are attachments. Forest Snares are included to deal with Mountain Trolls; while not as punishing as Hill Trolls, it’s easy to trap them and forget about them. Observant readers notice that Miners of the Iron Hills and Gondorian Spearmen do not have any willpower; they are included to act as emergency condition removal and early chump blockers against trolls or orcs. Once it gets to stage 3B, Aragorn and Imrahil should be able to handle defense and let the remaining characters quest through locations.
Game Experience and Strategy:
Before I continue with my play experience, I need to talk about Arwen and how she changes the game. Arwen is one of my favorite characters and each of her versions have their place in the game (I’m currently using her in a spirit Glorfindel and Erestor deck and it’s fantastic because she provides necessary resources within the Noldor archetype). This iteration drastically improves Jacob’s deck because she provides targeted resource generation. Depending on particular needs, resources get added exactly where they are most needed. Basically the players get one more resource a turn with no setback. However, once stage 3B is reached, I felt less comfortable exhausting her for the quest. A single snowstorm in conjunction with Caradhras would kill her and end the game. That nearly happened in one of the games, which is why I recommend caution when committing her to quests during the final stage.
Of the four games we played, only one of them went horribly wrong. Both Mountain Trolls decided to pop up in addition to a few more locations. Starting threat is an issue for the leadership deck, which meant these trolls quickly engaged and beat my heroes to a bloody pulp. Other than that game, it wasn’t terrible. Snow Wargs are annoying to deal with because allies cannot defend against them and they deal a damage to the defender regardless. They are priority number one to eliminate when engaged; the longer they are around, the more likely it is for heroes to die, which usually leads to a loss.
The remaining enemies are obnoxious, but no more than these two. Chump blockers or a stronger defender solve any problems. The treachery cards make this quest more difficult, as snow is a perpetual problem when traversing the Misty Mountains. As a result, the Snow cards add a dollop of thematic flavor to the quest.
The selected images are all annoying and consistently create problems. Depending on the stage of the game, Avalanche! can instantly end the game with no counter play other than Eleanor or a Test of Will; these cards are extremely necessary, especially for these treacheries. Snowstorm and Caradhras are outlined above. What makes this quest really difficult is Fell Voices. Since it returns snow cards to the top of the encounter deck and potentially surges, the wrong cards can come up and wreck the game state. Again, cancellation is necessary, but not nearly as much as two other cards.
Freezing Cold is another obnoxious snow card that also needs to be dealt with (sensing a pattern yet?). This card is why Miner of the Iron Hills is included. It might turn out that this card is inconsequential depending on when it pops up. Stage 1B? Not terrible. Stage 3B? Probably a dead hero. This is where The Dimrill Stair is amazing. If Freezing Cold cards are out, just travel to The Dimrill Stair and the problem is solved. Threat reduction is an added bonus, but it’s primarily the removal of Freezing Cold that makes me the most excited about this card. This card saved us in two of the three wins because it turned up at exactly the right time to reduce threat and remove those cards.
That’s basically it for the obnoxiously difficult encounter cards. The remainder are bearable in comparison. I don’t discuss the other two mountain peaks because they aren’t as complicated as Caradhras. The key is to keep questing through locations until enough progress is made on stage 3B and there are enough victory points in the victory display between the four unique locations.
Overall, this was an OK quest. It was more stressful than fun at times due to the punishing Snow cards. Combat wasn’t terribly interesting and travel decisions were nearly non-existent. The biggest worry was the Snow cards. I enjoyed deck building for this quest more than I enjoyed playing it; Caradhras and stage 3B presented a unique challenge to solve. However, once there was enough willpower on the table, the quest essentially played itself until enough mountains were cleared. This isn’t one I consistently see myself playing as much as other quests like Journey Along the Anduin or The Seventh Level. Road to Rivendell looks to be more entertaining and I’m thrilled to build a deck utilizing both sons of Elrond. Join me next time as I continue through the Dwarrowdelf cycle!
Aragorn (Core Set)
Prince Imrahil (A Journey to Rhosgobel)
Eowyn (Core Set)
Dunedain Watcher x3 (The Dead Marshes)
Gandalf x3 (Core Set)
Faramir x2 (Core Set)
Escort from Edoras x3 (A Journey to Rhosgobel)
The Riddermark’s Finest x3 (The Hills of Emyn Muil)
Westfold Horse-Breaker x3 (The Hunt for Gollum)
West Road Traveller x3 (Return to Mirkwood)
Snowbourn Scout x3 (Core Set)
Song of Travel x2 (The Hills of Emyn Muil)
Celebrian’s Stone x1 (Core Set)
Dunedain Mark x3 (The Hunt for Gollum)
Dunedain Warning x3 (Conflict at the Carrock)
Steward of Gondor x2 (Core Set)
Unexpected Courage x1 (Core Set)
Ancient Mathom x3 (A Journey to Rhosgobel)
Sneak Attack x2 (Core Set)
Valiant Sacrifice x2 (Core Set)
Astonishing Speed x2 (Return to Mirkwood)
Stand and Fight x2 (Core Set)
Ride to Ruin x2 (The Hills of Emyn Muil)
Ever Vigilant x2 (Core Set)
Brand son of Bain (The Hills of Emyn Muil)
Eleanor (Core Set)
Beravor (Core Set)
Gandalf x3 (Core Set)
Henamarth Riversong x1 (Core Set)
Gleowine x2 (Core Set)
Daughter of Nimrodel x3 (Core Set)
Rivendell Minstrel x3 (The Hunt for Gollum)
Bofur x2 (Redhorn Gate)
Miner of the Iron Hills x2 (Core Set)
Gondorian Spearmen x3 (Core Set)
Song of Wisdom x3 (Conflict at the Carrock)
Song of Travel x1 (The Hills of Emyn Muil)
Song of Battle x2 (The Dead Marshes)
Dwarven Axe x2 (Core Set)
A Burning Brand x3 (Conflict at the Carrock)
Protector of Lorien x2 (Core Set)
Forest Snare x2 (Core Set)
Favor of the Lady x2 (Core Set)
Horn of Gondor x1 (Core Set)
Blade of Gondolin x2 (Core Set)
A Test of Will x2 (Core Set)
Hasty Stroke x2 (Core Set)
Quick Strike x2 (Core Set)
Rumour from the Earth x3 (Return to Mirkwood)
Strength of Will x2 (Core Set)