Quests Revisited: The Watcher in the Water
Thomas N. returns with the next installment of his Quests Revisited series. Enjoy! -Ian
Arwen safely made it to Imladris after journeying over Caradhras and along the Road to Rivendell. Now that she is back, Elrond sends our heroes back to Moria to investigate what killed Balin and company. But first, they must pass through Doors of Durin and survive its guardian.
As I mentioned in the previous post, I’m going to build a deck featuring the new AP’s hero and build a complimentary deck. The decks are listed below and on RingsDB: http://ringsdb.com/fellowship/view/580
Lore Aragorn’s ability suits this quest extremely well because threating out becomes an issue if too many Disturbed Waters are revealed. Because of the built in threat reduction, I didn’t pair him with spirit and focused more on utility. Denethor is a great defender when paired with A Burning Brand and can take on a good chunk of defending. Theodred is a great splash hero who can add resources to himself, Éowyn, or Aragorn depending who needs it.
I also wanted to include Sword that was Broken. It provides Aragorn a leadership resource icon and boosts the deck’s questing power; it’s also thematically appropriate for Strider to carry Isildur’s blade. Once he has that, he can pay for any card since he is the primary target for Steward of Gondor. With that card, he and Denethor can put Gildor Inglorion and Haldir into play substantially faster. These are both fantastic allies that can handle anything the quest throws at them. Beyond that, I included some card draw, healing, and scrying. Scrying is crucial for one path to victory; more on that later.
For the other deck, I knew I wanted some healing and a bit of treachery cancellation. Éowyn and Eleanor are no brainers. I wanted to keep the threat somewhat low but also throw in a tactics character. My options were Legolas or Thalin. I chose Legolas because of ranged in addition to attachments such as Rivendell Blade and Rivendell Bow. Gildor and Haldir can equip both weapons and these three serve as powerful attackers.
Beyond that, I threw in Rohan allies because they are cheap but effective. Elfhelm helps mitigate threat increases and can serve as a defender in a pinch if too many enemies engage. Even though Arwen made it to Imladris, I included her ally version because of the extra questing power in addition to an amazing ability and fantastic art. She primarily exhausts to quest. Then she can give Denethor or Aragorn an extra defense in addition to sentinel. That one extra defense can be the difference between death and near death. Sentinel allows the questing deck more freedom because Aragorn’s deck can absorb an additional attack.
Test of Will and Hasty Stroke are included because I find them to be standard at this point in the game. While A Burning Brand helps deal with most threat, back up plans are great. Stand and Fight works extremely well with Rohan allies; it’s possible to recycle the same Escort from Edoras turn after turn with no consequences. Galadhrim’s Greeting and Elrond’s Council manage both deck’s threats.
Game Experience and Strategy:
This quest has two ways to pass the final stage and secure victory. One is defeating The Watcher. The other is ‘providing the password’ that opens the Doors of Durin. Both provide their own challenges and this article will suggest tactics to win both ways. These two decks can win either way, but the board state determines which will be easier.
Regardless which path you want to follow, stage 1B plays out the same: quest heavily and hold off enemies. It’s imperative to kill off as many tentacles as possible because they hit hard and make it significantly more difficult to defeat the Watcher. Additionally, the Mountain Wargs and Black Uruks hit hard too. Continue killing enemies whenever possible and try not to get overwhelmed by enemies.
Locations for the most part are not terrible compared to some locations in other scenarios. They are more of a nuisance than anything else. General advice is to select the location that has the highest threat and lowest quest points to clear through quickly. Location lock is possible, but not particularly likely in this scenario. Northern Tracker eliminates any possible location lock once he’s in play.
Treacheries can make or break this scenario. Disturbed Waters in particular can be devastating, especially during setup. One play through had two of these cards reveal before enough threat entered the staging area to start. Doomed is not a “When Revealed” effect, so Eleanor nor A Test of Will can cancel these cards. Threat becomes a major issue if this circumstance happens and threat reduction cards do not show up in the spirit deck. If Aragorn lowers his deck’s threat, most of the enemies will engage the other deck which does not defend well. Too many engaged tentacles will make short work of that deck. However, this isn’t the card that caused the most problems.
Wrapped! can be deadly in the right circumstance. Hopefully one of three situations happen: 1. It doesn’t show up and the players don’t have to worry about it. 2. It gets cancelled by A Test of Will or by Eleanor and quickly discarded. 3. It shows up and attaches to a hero, but another hero is ready to remove it during the combat phase. Because it lets the player choose which hero it attaches to, it isn’t as bad compared to if it said to attach to a ready hero. While not ideal, if the Aragorn deck has Theodred and Aragorn questing, Denethor could remove it because he is not questing. The other deck can utilize Legolas, but that is less ideal because he should attack at most opportunities. If it attaches to a hero and there is no way to remove it due to the game state, at least the players can choose who is taken to the depths of the lake.
Now that I’ve covered specific cards, let’s look at how you win. As mentioned above, there are two paths to victory. The obvious one is to destroy the Watcher. While it sounds great in theory, it is surprisingly difficult to pull off. One reason is the seven defense and nine hit points. Luckily, Rivendell Blades can ignore some of that armor and hit for some damage. Additionally, a large enough army can get through the armor, but that is more difficult to assemble. If the Watcher doesn’t die in one attack however, it will heal two damage a round until it is either defeated or at full health. If you want to win this way, do everything possible to destroy the Watcher in a single combined attack.
Ignoring the difficulty of assembling enough attack damage to kill the Watcher, there is still one problem: it needs to leave the staging area. All tentacle enemies need to die before players can optionally engage the Watcher. If tentacles remain, it’s extremely risky to wait until a threat dial reaches 48 so the Watcher can auto engage. If the Watcher stays in the staging area for too long, enough characters will die from its ability that there may not be an army to deal with it. This is where Son of Arnor comes into play. He lets the players engage the Watcher even if tentacles remain. The Watcher should engage the Aragorn deck because it has more melee attackers. Son of Arnor is a reliable answer to defeating the Watcher.
Killing the Watcher is a difficult and rewarding task. However, if the player’s know the password they can escape the Watcher’s tentacles. The Doors of Durin’s text requires the players to successfully match the starting letter of the encounter deck’s top card with the starting letter of a discarded player card. This is where scrying becomes amazing. Rumour from the Earth and Henamarth Riversong are great cheap solutions. Because I play two handed, once I examine the top card I can use either deck to discard a card. If you play this scenario with multiple people, the rules state that the information is secret from the other players. Shadow of the Past solves this issue by returning the top card of the discard pile back onto the top of the deck. The discard pile is open information so all players know exactly what is on top of the deck.
If you have no desire in knowing what the top card is and want to take chances instead of guaranteed information, it is important to know what letters are likely to show up. When you get to stage 2B, all the tentacle cards reshuffle back into the encounter deck. All the tentacle cards include the following letters: G, S, T, I, and W. Additionally, the remaining cards start with S, B, M, K, T, W, P, and D. In total this is the alphabet breakdown from most likely to least likely: 8 S’s, 7 B’s, 6 T’s, 6 W’s, 5 M’s, 4 G’s, 4 D’s, 2 P’s, 1 K, and 1 I. Depending on what cards remain in the discard pile, you can determine the likelihood of a certain letter on top of the encounter deck. Scrying takes all the guess work out of it, but not utilizing it leads to a thematic frenzy to escape the Watcher’s clutches.
This is probably my favorite quest in this particular cycle mainly because of the two options to win. As the game developed over the years and continues developing, having distinct and fun quests add high replay-ability value to the game. It’s one of the reasons I love this game. With that said, I did find myself leaning towards one path more than the other. Passing through the Doors of Durin was significantly easier in most cases because it did not require an army of soldiers. While it requires a certain amount of player cards in hand, it requires significantly less setup to succeed. Defeating the Watcher requires resources to pump out allies and weapons to ultimately defeat him. It isn’t impossible with these pair of decks, but scrying works much more frequently.
Our heroes have successfully entered Moria at Elrond’s request. Now they must prepare for their journey through the Long Dark to find the cause of the dwarves’ demise. Join me next time as Hama joins the company on their quest!
Strider Confronts the Watcher in the Water
Aragorn (The Watcher in the Water)
Denethor (Core Set)
Théodred (Core Set)
3x Daughter of the Nimrodel (Core Set)
2x Faramir (Core Set)
3x Gandalf (Core Set)
2x Gildor Inglorion (The Hills of Emyn Muil)
2x Gléowine (Core Set)
3x Guard of the Citadel (Core Set)
2x Haldir of Lórien (A Journey to Rhosgobel)
1x Henamarth Riversong (Core Set)
3x Snowbourn Scout (Core Set)
2x Son of Arnor (Core Set)
3x A Burning Brand (Conflict at the Carrock)
1x Celebrían’s Stone (Core Set)
2x Forest Snare (Core Set)
2x Protector of Lórien (Core Set)
2x Steward of Gondor (Core Set)
3x Sword that was Broken (The Watcher in the Water)
2x Lórien’s Wealth (Core Set)
2x Radagast’s Cunning (Core Set)
3x Rumour from the Earth (Return to Mirkwood)
2x Secret Paths (Core Set)
3x Shadow of the Past (Return to Mirkwood)
2x Sneak Attack (Core Set)
Distracting the Watcher in the Water
Eleanor (Core Set)
Éowyn (Core Set)
Legolas (Core Set)
3x Arwen Undómiel (The Watcher in the Water)
2x Elfhelm (The Dead Marshes)
3x Escort from Edoras (A Journey to Rhosgobel)
3x Gondorian Spearman (Core Set)
2x Northern Tracker (Core Set)
3x Vassal of the Windlord (The Dead Marshes)
3x Westfold Horse-Breaker (The Hunt for Gollum)
3x West Road Traveller (Return to Mirkwood)
3x Winged Guardian (The Hunt for Gollum)
3x Ancient Mathom (A Journey to Rhosgobel)
2x Rivendell Blade (Road to Rivendell)
3x Rivendell Bow (The Watcher in the Water)
2x Song of Eärendil (Road to Rivendell)
1x Unexpected Courage (Core Set)
2x A Test of Will (Core Set)
3x Elrond’s Counsel (The Watcher in the Water)
2x Feint (Core Set)
2x Hasty Stroke (Core Set)
3x Stand and Fight (Core Set)
2x The Galadhrim’s Greeting (Core Set)