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Deck Construction: Mono Lore Secrecy Victory Display Part 2

by on September 10, 2016

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In part 2, Contributor Miika tests out the deck he built in Part 1 to see how it works in practice. Enjoy! -Ian

Game one- The Foundations of Stone Nightmare

Okay, with the first quest, I’m immediately throwing something challenging on the table to get my revenge for last time when I played the Amarthiul & Eagles deck. So, the first quest is the good old Foundations, but this time it is on Nightmare mode so I don’t have to worry about Moria Bats anymore (“Sarcasm”). But seriously, not that Foundations is easy or anything, but I just like the Nightmare version much more since I feel that the quest really gets some flavor from it, although that also means that the improved version is… well, very brutal. If you are not aware of in which ways, then just continue reading to find out! (Or read Ian’s Nightmare Buying Guide if you’re a boring person)

Okay, here we go. So, as the setup we attach the Cave Torch to Rossiel and reveal one encounter card. But before doing that, we immediately notice that unlike in the usual FoS quest, in Stage 3b we also have to discard Mount and Artifact Items along with almost everything else it already takes out, so it really takes the punishment level a little bit further. But what is even more brutal is that all the Allies except for those with a total cost of 6 resources will also be discarded. These effects will really make players evaluate to what extent they should play or save their cards from the beginning, and in this case, the Victory Display cards also fall into that category. Should I start to pick cards from stages 1 & 2 already or save as many as we can for stage 3 and beyond? We’ll see about that very soon.

My starting hand had Elf- Stone, Wellinghall Preserver, Mithrandir’s Advice, Daeron’s Runes, Leave No Trace and The Door is Closed! Not the best hand ever nor the worst, and the card draw would compensate for the lack of Secrecy and scry cards. I decided to keep the hand. The encounter card that was revealed was Lightless Passage. I started the game.

Game on!

Turn 1. I collected the resources and drew A Burning Brand from the top of my deck which was decent. I played Advice and drew another Advice, Scroll of Isildur and another copy of The Door is Closed!. I decided to play Advice again. This time I drew another Scroll, another Wellinghall and a Wandering Ent. I played Daeron’s Runes and drew Risk Some Light and Wellinghall Preserver. I discarded A Burning Brand from my hand- it didn’t feel like a mandatory card just yet. Then I played Risk Some Light and it showed Dark and Dreadful, Dreadful Gap and Goblin Tunnels. I moved Dark and Dreadful to the bottom of the deck and made Dreadful Gap the first card to arrive. All of the revealed cards were quite decent so it wouldn’t matter which one would have shown up, but Dreadful Gap was IMO a quite decent choice for now.

I quested safely with everyone and as Dreadful Gap was immediately made the active location, Lightless Passage was the only Threat in the staging area. There was a total of 6 Willpower against 4 Threat so 2 progress was made on Dreadful Gap. I exhausted Cave Torch to put 3 progress on Lightless Passage, leaving it 1 short of being explored. Goblin Tunnels was discarded from the top of the encounter deck, doing nothing. With that done, I passed my turn.

So turn 2. I collected the resources and drew Out of the Wild. I decided to play it just in case. The revealed cards were Watchful Eyes, Lightless Passage, Giant Cave Centipede, Fouled Well and Mithril Seeker. Mithril Seeker is such an annoying enemy that I decided to remove it from the deck. I played Elf- Stone on Dreadful Gap and decided to exhaust Torch to take out Lightless Passage, although this was a bit risky. Passage disappeared and another Passage was discarded from the top of the encounter deck! Phew. After that, I used the last two resources to put Wandering Ent into play exhausted.

I quested with Pippin and Mirlonde, leaving Rossiel to defend against potential enemies. A Watchful Eyes was drawn. This was really annoying since I had to play it on Rossiel to avoid getting more shenanigans intp the staging area this turn. The quest itself was a success though, 4 Willpower going straight through. I put two progress on Dreadful Gap (its X was 5 which was the amount of characters I had in play + one from the Elf- Stone). I also put one progress on The Dripping Walls. Dreadful Gap was put into the Victory Display while I also put one Wellinghall Preserver on the table. Now I had a really solid Willpower base going. I raised my Threat to 21, readied everyone and passed the turn.

Turn 3 already. I collected resources and drew Warden of Healing which is always a welcome sight in hand. I decided to spend all the resources to put another Wellinghall on the table. I thought I should concentrate on building the table now when there is a good chance to do it. With that card in play, I started questing.

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Turn 3 Quest starting to look good

I quested with Mirlonde, Pippin and Wellinghall, leaving Rossiel and Wandering Ent to guard. Branching Paths was revealed. It has 2 Threat in total against 7 Willpower so 5 progress was put on The Dripping Walls. I travelled to Branching Paths and ended my turn after raising my Threat to 22 and readying everybody.

Starting turn 4, I collected resources and drew Gildor. This would be a really nice hand if I could keep it all the way to stage 4. I only played Scroll on Pippin and started questing.

I quested with both Wellinghalls as well as with Mirlonde and Pippin. Zigil Mineshaft was drawn, which would usually be quite an annoying sight, but this time it was the only card in the staging area and I had 10 Willpower at my disposal, so 3 progress was put on Branching Paths, exploring it, and 2 more was placed on The Dripping Walls, leaving it one quest point short of advancement. After the Paths was discarded, I revealed Sudden Pitfall, Goblin Follower and Fouled Well. I decided to reveal Fouled Well and put the other cards on the bottom of the deck. I also discarded the Scroll randomly from my hand to prevent the well from Surging. I travelled to Zigil Mineshaft, raised my threat to 23, readied everyone once again, and passed my turn.

Turn 5, here we go. I collected resources and drew Radagast’s Cunning which is always a good card to see. I decided to save the resources for a better day and just started questing with the same squad as the last turn (2x Wellinghall, Pippin and Rossiel).

Another Mineshaft was revealed from the encounter deck! This was starting to get a bit annoying, since there was already 8 Threat in the staging area. I decided to exhaust the Cave Torch to put 3 progress on the newly emerged Mine. Watchful Eyes was drawn so nothing showed up (where are all the enemies by the way?). I also raised my Threat by 2 to put the rest of the progress on the shaft. Mineshaft was discarded and, as a result, there was now a healthier 10 Willpower against 3 Threat, so 5 progress was put on Mineshaft, clearing it, and two was placed on The Dripping Walls, clearing it also. Stage 2b, The Water’s Edge, was revealed. I travelled to The Fouled Well and passed my turn after raising my Threat to 26 and readying everyone.

Turn 6. I collected resources (Rossiel– 3, Mirlonde– 3, Pippin– 2) and drew Out of the Wild. At this point I just decided to save the cards and resources I had. If something were to bediscarded later in stage 4, then at least something would be saved. I decided to play with fortune and quest with everyone except for Rossiel.

Another Fouled Well was revealed from the encounter deck! This is incredible! I was a little bit amused and decided to discard a card at random to prevent the surge. The Door is Closed! was discarded, which was okay. Total: 12 Willpower against 3 Threat so 9 progress was made, 5 on Fouled Well and 4 on The Water’s Edge. I also discarded Warden of Healing and Resourceful from the top of my deck due to the quest effect. I travelled to The Fouled Well, raised my Threat to 27, readied all my characters and ended the turn.

I collected resources (Mirlonde– 4, Rossiel– 4, Pippin– 3) and drew Gandalf, which was excellent. I could probably go on autopilot now and clear the stage in one go, but due to the randomness of stage 4, I decided not to do that. Instead I quested with Mirlonde, Pippin and with all the Ents once again.

Goblin Swordsman was revealed while Out of the Wild and Gandalf were discarded from the top of my deck. Total: 12 Willpower against only 1 Threat so 11 progress was made, of which 5 went to the Fouled Well, clearing it, and 6 progress went to The Water’s Edge, leaving it 2 points short from being cleared too. I engaged the Goblin Swordsman and defended with Mirlonde, who now had 4 Defence against it thanks to that Mithril Seeker who had been hanging in the Victory Display for a while now. The Shadow card was Crumbling Ruin so absolutely nothing happened, except that Watchful Eyes triggered, revealing another Swordsman, who was put in the staging area. I raised my Threat to 28, readied everyone, and passed the turn.

Turn 7. I collected resources (Rossiel– 5, Mirlonde– 5, Pippin– 4) and drew Ithilien Lookout. After thinking for a moment, I decided to quest with all of my heroes, as well as with the Wandering Ent, who would get discarded anyway soon, leaving my Allies to defend against potential threats during the upcoming stage 4.

Risk Some Light and Ithilien Lookout were discarded from the top of my deck, while another copy of Crumbling Ruin was revealed. Everything is already crumbling! I exhausted Wellinghall and hoped that he would fare well. The discarded card was Leave No Trace, which was absolutely fine right now, so Wellinghall survived for now at least. Total: 8 Willpower against 1 Threat so 7 progress was made on The Water’s Edge, clearing the stage and stage 3b was revealed!

I made all the necessary preparations for the encounter deck and for my table, also discarding Watchful Eyes and other encounter cards, as well as the Wandering Ent. Funnily enough though, Records don’t get discarded by the 3b quest effect, so Isildur’s valuable Scroll didn’t get wet.

I shuffled the quest cards a few more times. This was the moment of truth. What dreadful things would follow from now on?

The revealed quest card was Sheltered Rocks. So, I was instructed to reveal 2 cards from the top of the encounter deck, which was a decent result I would say. The first card was Nest of Horrors and the other one was Chill of the Roots, the one that I really have special hate against. I can’t discard a hand this good, but I would raise my threat by 9… I say bring it! So 9 threat is added for a Secrecy deck (great plan) and another card was revealed, which was Shivering River! No enemies this time! WooohoO!

Although there was still one big IF in the staging area, namely that it was almost mandatory to travel to the Nest of Horrors to prevent it from doing me some real harm. The problem was that in order to do it, I would have to discard yet another card from the top of the deck and reveal it if it was a Nameless Thing.

BUT then I remembered one important detail: I still had the Scroll of Isildur at my disposal. So, I decided to screw the encounter deck a little. First I played Out of the Wild from my hand. The revealed cards were Nameless Thing (see the reward here?), Crumbling Ruins, Elder Nameless Thing, Durin’s Helm and Watchful Eyes. This was really frustrating because I couldn’t pick the regular Nameless Things since they already have Victory Point values, but the Treacheries weren’t that bad either. I chose Watchful Eyes anyway since it was the most annoying card of the bunch.

After that, I discarded the Scroll to place Risk Some Light on the bottom of my deck while playing it. Now the 3 cards that appeared were Chill of the Roots, Watchful Eyes and Primeval Thing. I decided to put Chill of the Roots on the bottom of the encounter deck while leaving Watchful Eyes on top, followed by Primeval Thing because I had a few tricks up my sleeve. I travelled to Nest of Horrors, discarded Watchful Eyes, which did nothing, raised my threat to 39, readied everyone and passed my turn.

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Turn 8 Planning road trip

Turn 8. I collected resources (Rossiel– 5, Mirlonde– 5, Pippin– 4). Now was the moment of truth to play some cards finally. I played Ithilien Lookout and discarded the Primeval Thing, thank you very much. I also played Gildor and Wellinghall and started to quest.

I decided to do some real questing and quested with everyone except for that one brave Lookout who kept guard.

The revealed card was… Chill of the Roots! ARGH! At least I now only had “six” cards in my hand, and some Threat reduction, so I just decided not to care and chose to let it Surge. Discarding the whole hand would ruin all the options I have. I raised my threat by 6 to 45 and revealed Elder Nameless Thing, which was okay. Total: 17 Willpower (thanks to Rossiel) against 7 Threat, so 10 progress was made, of which 4 was put on the Nest of Horrors, clearing it, and the 6 other went to Sheltered Rocks. I also played Leave No Trace on Nest of Horrors, putting both of those cards in my Victory Display. I travelled to Shivering River and engaged The Elder Nameless Thing. The attached cards were A Burning Brand, Treebeard and Daeron’s Runes for a total value of 6.

I blocked with Lookout. The Shadow card was Deep Deep Dark so my hand was discarded anyway, as was the Lookout. I raised my threat to 46 and passed the turn.

So turn 9, here we go. I drew Risk Some Light, which was excellent at least, and played it after collecting resources this turn. The revealed cards were Lost and Alone, Crumbling Ruins and Nameless Thing. I moved The Nameless Thing to the bottom of the deck, and made Crumbling Ruin the first card. I quested with Rossiel, Mirlonde, Pippin and 2x Wellinghall for a total of 14 Willpower. Crumbling Ruins appeared, so I exhausted Gildor to face it. The discarded card was Scroll of Isildur unfortunately, so Gildor was discarded. However, 14 progress straight through meant that 7 was put on the Shivering River and 7 on Sheltered Rocks, allowing me to progress to the final stage of the quest!

I revealed one card, which I knew was Lost and Alone. I decided to shuffle Pippin into the deck. That was a really annoying encounter card to face now since I really needed all of my heroes to quest next turn since there can’t be more Allies committed to the quest than Heroes during the last stage of the quest.

Moving on to combat, I blocked the Elder Nameless Thing with Wellinghall. The Shadow card was Nemeless Thing, and Wellinhall left play due to suffering too much damage. I raised my threat to 47, readied everyone, and advanced to the last phases of the game.

Turn 10. I drew Scout Ahead, which at first felt like the worst card I could possibly have drawn. I didn’t need any more quest points at this point of the game! Then I started to think about its possibilities. It would allow me to remove 1 card from the top five of the encounter deck and leave the rest of the 4 in any order I would like. This would allow me to accomplish a fair bit of planning during the following turns. But ultimately, this wasn’t motivating enough for me to try it instead of speed questing since my threat was already a staggering 47, so I just chose to take a risk and quest with everyone except for one Wellinghall.

The revealed card was Goblin Swordsman, who was a really welcome sight now. Total: 7 Willpower against 1 Threat, so 6 progress went on Out of the Depths. Almost there… I engaged the Goblin.

One of the Heroes would get killed anyway, so I decided to take the undefended attack with Mirlonde against the Nameless Thing. Another Elder Nameless Thing was the Shadow card, so nothing extra happened but Mirlonde was no more. Then I checked the Shadow card for the Goblin and it was… an Elder Nameless Thing! It’s great to get rid of those though!

Another turn passed, my threat skyrocketed to 48, and I readied Rossiel and her Ent companions. Part of the reason why I chose to save one of the Ents was that, although it was a really small chance, there was a very small hope for drawing Pippin and putting him into play. This way I could quest with 4 Characters instead of just 2, giving me a much better chance to beat this quest than what I would otherwise have.

I collected a resource for Rossiel, Wellinghall healed himself, and I drew…

PIPPIN!

Oh, all the joy in the world! Pippin, our lord and savior, who has come back from beyond and lived to tell the tale!

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Turn 11 Many Meetings

Having Pippin restored my faith in humanity and justice for a second. I quested with every Character I had in order to get out of the depths and live to tell the tale.

The revealed card was Nest of Horrors, meaning that there would be 10 Willpower (Rossiel for 2, Pippin for 2, 2x Wellighalls for 3) against 4 Threat, meaning that 6 more progress would be put on Out of the Depths, making it 12/11 and therefore enough for me to be able to defeat the scenario!

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Turn 11 The End

Well, what can I say? That was a really close call, and a solid game, but not in a way I expected. I got a pleasingly good start, although due to the nature of the quest, I planned on a different strategy than usual in order to save all the important cards for the later stages instead of just playing them right away. Some of the player cards showed up more than others, but the encounter deck was surprisingly easy to manage thanks to the relative absence of enemies and the scrying effects that I had. In the later turns though, the encounter cards started to kick really hard, especially Chill of the Roots,which is just an awful card to face. Luckily though, none of the worst Nameless Creatures appeared, aside from that Primeval Thing that was discarded from the encounter deck.

Rossiel was the real hero with her Willpower, allowing me to quest with a solid 4 in many rounds of the game. And of course Pippin! That was one really lucky draw at the end of the game and, to be honest, games don’t really get any closer than that. A close game, but what a blast to play.

Other than that, Forest Snare needs to be taken into the Sideboard against those Nameless enemies and other ones that aren’t immune to Attachments, otherwise I’m pretty happy with this line up of the deck.

With that quest done, I decided to give this deck one more try before leaving it to be evaluated by our fellow readers.

Game two- Across the Ettenmoors

After Foundations was over, I got an idea: how about doing something fun? Like, you know, a quest that is actually enjoyable to play? Well, there are of course options for that, but after thinking for a while I decided to try Across the Ettenmoors. I just recently returned to that quest and I really liked it. It is challenging enough to be interesting, but it is not frustrating nor annoying to play, so I decided to go for it.

So, the idea is that our Heroes are somewhere around the Ettenmoors, trying to avoid Trolls and find a way out of the dreaded place. Our heroes are also accompanied by the mighty Dunedain Amarthiul in their quest. The setup itself is pretty complex, but basically one Side Quest and Safe location are added to the staging area, as well as one nasty little Troll Spawn enemy per player. If there are ever no Side Quest cards in play, you have to search the deck for one before the quest begins (at the first stage anyway). Safe locations are Objectives that go to the Victory Display after they have been active Locations for a turn, that is if they don’t get explored. While players are in a Safe location, all the “When revealed” effects of Treacheries revealed during the quest stage are cancelled, and enemies do not make engagement checks. They are also returned to the staging area once you travel to that type of location. So overall, there are some interesting twists all the way through the quest.

Game on!

So, I start off with Scavenge for Supplies as a Side Quest. As a result, the cost to play each player card is increased by one, and after I defeat the quest, the players must search the encounter deck for for a Troll enemy and put it into play engaged with the player with the highest Threat. It’s a really annoying card to cripple your first turn. The Objective which is guarded by it was Secluded Cave, which draws you 3 cards when you travel to it.

My starting hand was 2x Out of the Wild, Resourceful, Henemarth Riversong, Mithrandir’s Advice and Wandering Ent. A really good starting hand, and I definitely decided to keep the hand. Time to start playing.

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Turn 1 Start

Turn 1. I collected resources and drew Gandalf, who is always a welcome sight. I played Resourceful on Mirlonde and spared the last resource on Rossiel since I couldn’t play anything else. Time to start questing.

I chose Scavenge to be the quest and decided to quest with everyone except for Amarthiul, who kept guard. Rugged Country was revealed from the top of the encounter deck, and as the current quest was a Side Quest, it got +2 Threat. So this was a total of 6 Willpower against 5 Threat. Only 1 progress was made on Scavenge, which was not really good. I travelled to Rugged Country, raised my Threat to 20, readied everyone and passed my first turn.

Turn 2. I collected resources and drew Ithilien Lookout, which is a quite good draw: more Allies, more Willpower… and more scrying. I played it for 2 resources (Secrecy cost of 1 plus the Scavenge penalty) and revealed the top card of the encounter deck. The card was Coldfell Giant so off you go, thanks. I also played Henamarth Riversong for the cost of 2 (it still felt like a bargain) and immediately checked what the next card of the encounter deck was. It was Goblin Pursuer, so there would be 3 Threat in the staging area this turn. I left the last resource on Pippin and started to quest.

Now the choice was to either kill the Goblin or to quest for a lot. I decided to kill the Goblin. Therefore, I only quested with Pippin and Mirlonde. The Goblin was revealed. 4 Willpower against 3 Threat means 1 more progress on Rugged Country. I engaged the Goblin and defended against it with Rossiel. The Shadow card was the Lost in the Wilderness Side Quest so nothing bad happened, and Amarthiul and the Lookout decimated the Goblin foe together. So overall not that great of a turn, but it could have been worse. I raised my Threat to 21, readied all the party and ended the second turn.

Turn 3 already. I collected resources and found A Burning Brand, which will become handy later. I exhausted Henamarth to check what waited for me this turn. The top card was Barren Moorland. Okay, so no enemies this turn. I opted to play Wandering Ent from my hand to build the table a little bit and started questing.

I knew I could quest with everyone since no enemies (aka= that one little troll on the hill) would engage me. Hills was revealed and I had 8 Willpower against 3 Threat for a total of 5 progress, clearing Rugged Country and placing 3 progress on Scavenge, leaving it 3 short of being completed. But the irritating thing was that I couldn’t travel to Moorland without having everyone take damage, including Henamarth, who would be killed, so I chose not to travel this turn. It was only 2 Threat after all. So my Threat went up all the way to 22, everyone got up, and another turn ended.

Moving all the way to turn 4. I collected resources (Rossiel– 2, Mirlonde– 3, Pippin– 1) and drew another Henamarth. So I could have travelled to Moorlands! I checked the top card of the encounter deck and it was another Savage Trollspawn, so nothing too bad. That means I needed to quest for 7 this turn. I paid 2 for Mithrandir’s Advice and drew Gandalf, Warden of Healing and Wandering Ent. I chose not to play anymore cards and just started to quest.

I quested with all of my Heroes and with the Lookout. Trollspawn appeared, leading to 7 Willpower against 4 Threat and 3 progress in total, allowing me to pass the Side Quest and moving it to the Victory Display. I searched the encounter deck for yet another Trollspawn and played Wandering Ent from my hand for free thanks to the Forced effect of Scavenging Supplies. I wasn’t sure whether or not players are allowed to make cards whiff on purpose. Wandering Ent would enter the table exhausted anyway, which is an option on Barren Moorland. I decided to play it safe and deal one damage to Wandering Ent just in case to avoid the effects being “stacked”. I also drew one card (The Door is Closed!) thanks to Pippin’s ability by engaging the Troll Spawn. A total of 7 progress was also put on Into the Ettenmoors according to Scavenge’s 7 progress value thanks to the Forced effect on Into the Ettenmoors, making it 3 short of being completed. I travelled to Secluded Cave, returned the Troll to the Staging Area, and drew 3 cards that were Resourceful, Radagast’s Cunning and Ithilien Lookout. These were really great draws that added more versatility, especially the Lookout. I raised my Threat, readied the party and ended the turn.

Now turn 5. I collected resources (Rossiel– 3, Mirlonde– 3, Pippin– 2) and drew another Radagast’s Cunning, which definitely works, and now I had many options for what to do next.

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Turn 5 Planning

I chose to play Lookout to see what’s coming, and chose it to enter play exhausted. The top card was Biting Wind, which would definitely make things more interesting. However, I then realized that since there were no Side Quests in play, cards would get discarded until there would be a side quest. Moreover, Cave would enter my Victory Display no matter what I do, allowing me to travel to Moorland and end the annoying effect on it. Therefore, I chose to quest with a minimum number of Allies this turn. Before that, though, I played Resourceful on Pippin, leaving the last resource on Rossiel.

Now it was time for some discarding. Biting Wind left the game along with Rugged Country, Shrouded Hills and-most importantly- Cruel Mountain Troll. Then Lie Low showed up. Okay, that meant trouble: those nasty Troll Spawns would all engage me now, and Pippin wouldn’t help by drawing any cards. I needed some Defence therefore and opted to quest only with Rossiel and Mirlonde. There was no way I could clear the Cave this turn. Biting Wind was revealed! But then I realized that it wouldn’t actually trigger because of the Safe Cave location! So 4 Willpower against 5 Threat meant that I lost by 1 point, raising my Threat to 24.

Cave entered the Victory Display, and I ultimately decided to travel to Moorland. Even if it meant dealing damage to my characters and buffing Trollspawns, I needed to get rid of it. I engaged all the Trolls, who would now attack for 6 each since I had 4 damaged characters. I chump blocked with Ithilien Lookout, the wounded Wandering Ent, and with Henamarth. The Shadow card for Wandering Ent was yet another Trollspawn, taking the Ent out of the game for good, while Henamarth got Arador’s Bane, and Lookout got the Make Camp Side Quest. I counter-attacked one Spawn with Amarthiul, Pippin and Wandering Ent for a total of 6 Attack, dealing 3 damage to it. I passed my turn after readying all of my characters and raising my Threat to 25.

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Turn 6 Planning Now we have options

Turn 6. I collected lots of resources this turn due to Resourceful (Rossiel– 2, Mirlonde– 2, Pippin– 2 after collecting) and drew the third Out of the Wild to my hand. I played Henamarth to start, then Warden of Healing, and healed Rossiel and Mirlonde, dropping the attack values of the Spawns by 2. I checked with Henamarth what would come this turn: Troll-Fells. Okay that was really good, nothing bad then. I saved the rest of the resources and started questing.

I decided to quest only with Rossiel and Pippin since Rossiel had a Willpower of 4 thanks to the active Location having the Ettenmoors trait. I chose the quest card to be Lie Low this turn. Troll-Fells appeared and I decided to attach Patch of Woods to it to be the guarded card since resources would now come in handy. Total: 6 Willpower gainst 1 Threat so 5 progress was made, clearing Barren Moorland, as well as placing one progress on Lie Low. I travelled to Troll-Fells and started combat.

I dealt Shadow cards and started blocking with the wounded Lookout. The first Spawn had Troll-Fells as a Shadow card, but the Lookout died anyway. This dropped the attack values of the rest of the Spawns back to 2 since I no longer controlled any wounded characters. Wandering Ent took another Spawn, who had Biting Wind as a shadow effect, dealing one damage to it and raising the attack values of the Spawns back to 3. I decided to play risky and block the last Troll with AmarthiulRuthless Hill-Troll was the Shadow card, meaning that Patch of Woods was shuffled back into the encounter deck. So much for those resources next turn, I guess, but no damage was placed on Amarthiul at least. I counter-attacked with Mirlonde and Lookout, pinging one more damage onto the wounded Troll Spawn, who had now taken 4 damage. At this point, I also decided to play one Out of the Wild from my hand. There were still many enemies in the encounter deck, and I wanted to get rid of something now.

The revealed cards were Ruthless Hill-Troll, Abandoned Camp, Weight of Responsibility, Freezing Blast and Shrouded Hills. Hill-Troll was easily the worst card of the bunch, so I decided to remove it from the encounter deck and put it into the Victory Display. Now I could Counter Spell any other of its kin if any of those appeared. Oh, and Rossiel just gained some Defence against Troll enemies as well. These were nice combos overall. My Threat went to 26, everyone readied, and another turn passed.

Turn 7. I picked up some resources (Rossiel– 1, Mirlonde– 2, Pippin– 2) and drew Wellinghall Preserver, which is really a great Ally to have at your disposal. I then peeked with Henamarth. Freezing Blast would arrive this turn, which would be absolutely great since it would essentially just raise my Threat by two. I played Wellinghall on the table and A Burning Brand on Rossiel. I also exhausted Warden to heal Wandering Ent, thus lowering the Spawns’ attack values back to 2, then I moved on to questing.

Since there would be no Threat in the staging area this turn, I chose not to quest at all. Freezing Blast came and raised my Threat by 2 (Troll-Fells didn’t matter because the card already had Doomed 2 instead of just 1). My Threat went up by 2 to 28, no progress was made at all, and I moved on to combat.

I chose to block with Rossiel first. Shrouded Hills had no Shadow effect and A Burning Brand would have cancelled it anyway so nothing happened. I then blocked the second Spawn with Amarthiul. No Rest as a Shadow was another whiff. So far, so good. Wandering Ent took the last SpawnNo Rest once again! Awesome, so nothing happened on that side. Mirlonde, Lookout and Pippin then attacked for a total of 5, dealing a total of 2 points of damage to that already wounded troll Spawn, finally killing it. With those heroics done, my Threat went to 29, I readied the group and ended the turn.

Turn 8. I took resources and drew Keen as Lances. There were still some nasty enemies in play so I decided to play another Out of the Wild. The five revealed cards were Cold from Angmar, Coldfell Giant, Forage for Food, Pressing Needs and Barren Moorland. Although it had become apparent that Moorland is a pretty annoying location, I had to choose the Giant. I then exhausted Henamarth to see what was coming this turn: a Pressing Needs Treachery card. So all I had to do was to choose Into Ettenmoors to be my main quest, so I could put some progress on Lie Low. I saved the rest of the resources and started questing.

Ultimately, though, I only chose to quest with Wellinghall, Pippin and Warden so the quest card itself didn’t matter that much, but I still chose Lie Low. Pressing Needs came, I raised my Threat by 2 to 31, and a total of 6 Willpower against 0 Threat meant a total of 6 progress on Troll-Fells, clearing it out for good. Time for some combat.

I blocked the first Troll with Rossiel. Cold from Angmar was the Shadow card, which didn’t matter anyway. I took the next one with Wandering Ent, with Weight of Responsibility as the Shadow card. Okay, THAT was a bit more annoying to say the least. Since there were two quests I had to discard two Attachments. I chose to keep the other Resourceful since there should be more copies of A Burning Brand left in my deck, plus I will need resources.

I counter-attacked one Spawn with Amarthiul, Lookout and Mirlonde for a total of 7 Attack, minus Defence 3, thus dealing 4 damage on the Troll Spawn. I raised my Threat to 30, readied everyone, and passed the turn once again.

Turn 9 and I’m still on the first stage! This will take quite some time apparently… I collected resources and drew Risk Some Light. I chose to play yet another copy of Out of the Wild though. The five cards to be revealed were Cold From Angmar, Patch of Woods, Weight of Responsibility, Pressing Needs and No Rest. There were so many Safe locations still left in the deck that No Rest didn’t bother me that much, but Weight could really backfire on me again, so I chose to add it to the victory display. I exhausted Henamarth yet again and Freezing Blast was the card to be revealed. This would therefore be “the turn.” I moved on to the quest phase.

I chose Lie Low to be the quest card and went to quest with Pippin, Wellinghall, Mirlonde and Warden. Freezing Blast raised my Threat to 32 and the total of 8 Willpower went straight through, putting Lie Low finally in the Victory Display. This 8 progress was also put on Into the Ettenmoors (we have been there for quite a while though!), making a total progress of 15 and finally passing the first stage.

Stage 2 was revealed. I shuffled the encounter discard pile back into the encounter deck and discarded quite a lot of annoying cards from the top of the encounter deck until Lost in the Wilderness was revealed. Okay, that was a bit frustrating. The name of stage 2 by the way is A Miserable Journey. How ironic.

Into combat. I defended the wounded Troll with Rossiel and Patch of Woods showed up so no side effects this time. Wandering Ent took another Troll and Pressing Needs as a Shadow card also meant no extra issues. I attacked the wounded Trollspawn with Amarthiul and Lookout, hitting for 5, dealing 2 damage and killing it. I raised my Threat to 33, readied the party and moved on.

victory-display-game-3-ettenmoors-turn-10-feeling-quite-alone

Turn 10 Beginning Feeling quite lonely

Turn 10. I took resources (Rossiel– 3, Mirlonde– 2, Pippin– 2) and drew Daeron’s Runes. I chose to play it instantly, drawing Mithrandir’s Advice and Gildor. I chose to discard Mithrandir’s Advice (which I have probably never done before) to play Gildor since I need him quite a bit now. I looked at the top card with Henamarth and saw that it would be the Make Camp Side Quest. So a lot of Surges would appear this turn. With no more cards in hand, I moved on to questing.

I obviously chose Lost in the Wilderness to be the Side Quest this turn and quested with Wellinghall, Gildor, Pippin, Rossiel and Wandering Ent. Make Camp Surges into Arador’s Bane. I searched the deck for a Troll Spawn and added it to the staging area (yeah that’s a real bane of Aragorn’s ancestor right there). The last card to be revealed was Cruel Mountain Troll. Therefore, a total of 12 Willpower against 4 Threat means 8 progress was made to Lost in the Wilderness, clearing it out to the Victory Display while getting my hand cards back.

I chose not the engage any enemies and moved on to the combat phase. I defended the Trollspawn with Rossiel. Biting Wind was the Shadow card so Rossiel took one damage that couldn’t be healed due to Make Camp being in play. Rude. I attacked back with the dynamic duo Amarthiul and Lookout, who dealt 2 damage to the Trollspawn. My Threat raised to 34, I readied all of my characters, and another turn was done.

Turn 11. I took resources and drew Daeron’s Runes, which I also played. I drew None Return and Leave No Trace, discarding Leave No Trace since there were no locations right now, and the few ones that had appeared weren’t unbearable. I exhausted Henamarth to look at the first card to be revealed to the staging area. It was Troll- Fells, which was okay. I decided to play Keen as Lances for 2 and to draw 3 cards. I drew Scout Ahead, Elf- Stone and Mithrandir’s Advice. I played the Advice. I drew Resourceful, Secret Paths and A Burning Brand. I played A Burning Brand on Rossiel and started to quest.

I decided to quest with the same characters as last turn, and chose Make Camp to be the quest I would try to defeat. The first card to be revealed was the Troll-Fells. I searched the deck for Abandoned Camp, attaching this Objective to Troll-Fells. The other card was Savage Trollspawn. So 12 Willpower against 6 Threat meant that 6 progress was made, just enough to pass the Side Quest. I healed Rossiel, travelled to Troll- Fells, and moved on to combat.

Rossiel defended against Spawn and cancelled Biting Wind with A Burning Brand. Amarthiul and Lookout once again dealt 2 damage to the Spawn. After that, my Threat went to 35 and the turn ended after the usual readying process.

So turn 12. This felt like a long, long game. I took resources (Rossiel– 2, Mirlonde– 1, Pippin– 2) and drew The Door is Closed! I played Risk Some Light, which revealed Goblin Pursuer, Barren Moorland and No Rest. I chose to move the Moorland to the bottom of the deck. I went to the quest phase.

I quested with everything I had. I also cancelled the Threat of Cruel Mountain TrollGoblin appeared and No Rest was put on Pippin. A total 20 Willpower against 4 Threat neat 16 progress was put on the table, clearing Troll- Fells and placing 10 progress on A Miserable Journey. I travelled to Abandoned Camp, moving Trollspawn back to the staging area and removing No Rest. I returned Mithrandir’s Advice back to my hand thanks to Abandoned Camp. With no engagement checks or combat, the turn passed after my Threat went to 36.

victory-display-game-3-ettenmoors-turn-13-so-long-game

Turn 13 Beginning So long game

Turn 13. I took resources and drew Ithilien Lookout. Henamarth looked at the top card of the encounter deck once again and it was Shrouded Hills. I played Gandalf from my hand, lowering my threat by 5 to 31. I also played Scout Ahead to prevent Shrouded Hills from Surging. I moved on to the quest phase.

I quested with Wellinghall, Gildor, Pippin, Mirlonde, Warden and Gandalf. Shrouded Mist appeared and that was it. I also chose Scout Ahead to be the quest this turn. Total: 15 Willpower against 10 threat meaning 5 progress was made, clearing both Abandoned Camp and Scout Ahead and putting both into the Victory Display. The top 5 cards revealed due to Scout Ahead were Shrouded Hills, Biting Wind, Pressing Needs, Cold from Angmar and Forage for Food. I put Biting Wind into the Victory Display while leaving Hills and Forage to be the top 2 cards.

I travelled to Hills and engaged the Goblin and the wounded Spawn. Pippin also drew me a card due to the Spawn‘s 36 engagement cost. The card was Scroll of Isildur. I blocked with Rossiel and Wandering Ent, and since Forage and Hills were the Shadow cards, nothing happened. I counter attacked with — you guessed it — Amarthiul and Lookout and killed the Trollspawn. Gandalf left the table, I raised my Threat to 32, everyone readied and I passed the turn.

Turn 14. I took resources and drew another Scroll. I played one on Mirlonde and moved to the quest phase.

I quested with Wellinghall, Gildor, Rossiel and Pippin. Pressing Needs and Cold from Angmar were revealed. I placed one damage on Mirlonde and revealed Forage for Food from theencounter discard pile and added it to the staging area. Doomed 2 also raised my Threat to 34. Thanks to Rossiel’s extra Willpower, I quested for a total of 12. I also played Radagast’s Cunning on Cruel Mountain Troll and dealt one damage to Rossiel. I then healed both Rossiel and Mirlonde with Warden. Total: 12 Willpower against 2 Threat so a total of 10 progress was made, clearing Hills and placing 5 progress on A Miserable Journey. I blocked the Goblin with Wandering Ent. Cold from Angmar was the Shadow card so no damage was done to my characters, and I attacked with Amarthiul, Lookout and Mirlonde, killing the Goblin. I discarded Scroll to play Out of the Wild from my discard pile. The revealed cards were Goblin Pursuer, Troll-Fells, Rugged Country, No Rest and Barren Moorland. I wasn’t sure how many Safe locations were left in the game, so I chose No Rest to be added to the Victory Display. My Threat went to 35 as I passed my turn.

Turn 15. I took resources (Rossiel– 1, Mirlonde– 2, Pippin– 3) and drew Secret Paths. I played Scroll on Mirlonde with her resource, dealt one damage to her, and started questing.

I chose Forage for Food to be the quest because I needed to get rid of that drawback now. I quested with Wellinghall, Gildor, Pippin, Mirlonde and Wandering Ent. The first revealed card was Freezing Blast, raising my Threat to 37 and removing Rossiel from the quest. The second card was Troll-Fells. I searched the encounter deck and then the discard pile for Patching Woods and attached it to Fells. There was now 10 Willpower against 6 Threat, which wasn’t enough to clear Forage for Food, so I discarded Scroll to play Radagast’s Cunning on Cruel Mountain Troll. Now it was 10 WP against 3 Threat so 7 progress went on Forage, clearing it out, which healed Mirlonde. I travelled to Troll- Fells, engaged the two Troll- Spawns, and started some combat.

I blocked with Mirlonde and AmarthiulBarren Moorland and Goblin Pursuer were the Shadow cards so nothing happened, but I couldn’t attack back with anything meaningful either, so I just raised my Threat to 38, readied the table and ended the turn.

Turn 16. I took resources and drew Wellinghall, which I also played. I also put Elf- Stone on Troll- Fells and played Ithilien Lookout. The top card was Arador’s Bane so that would be it for now. Time to start some questing. I quested with Wellinghall, Gildor, Pippin and Rossiel. Arador’s Bane resolved and I took the last Cruel Mountain Troll from the 3 card encounter deck and added it to the staging area. The next card was Freezing Blast, raising my Threat by 2 to 40. Total: 12 Willpower against 6 Threat, so 6 progress was placed on Troll- Fells, not clearing it out thanks to Elf- Stone’s +1 quest point.

In combat, Amarhiul blocked Spawn with the last encounter card as the Shadow card. Rugged Country appeared so the Spawn attacked for 3. Nothing happened. Wandering Ent took care of the other Spawn. I attacked one of the Spawns with Mirlonde, Henamarth and 2 Lookouts, dealing 4 damage to it. That being done, my Threat went to 41 and I passed my turn.

Turn 17. I took resources, drew None Return, and played Mithrandir’s Advice. I drew Elf- Stone, Warden of Healing and Quickbeam. I played Warden and Quickbeam and dealt 1 damage to Quickbeam to keep him ready. Time to quest.

I quested with 2 Wellinghalls, Gildor, Rossiel, Pippin and Mirlonde. I shuffled the encounter discard pile back into the encounter deck and revealed Barren Moorland and Freezing Blast that raised my threat to 43. Total: 17 Willpower against 8 Threat, so 9 progress was made, clearing Troll- Fells and, at last, A Miserable Journey. I put Gandalf into play thanks to Elf- Stone and decided to reduce my Threat to 38. I also discarded Cold from Angmar and moved on to the final stage: Journey’s End.

Thanks to stage 3, I ended up discarding the entire encounter deck. I also travelled to Barren Moorland. It dealt insane amounts of damage to my characters, but I exhausted both Wardens to take out most of the damage. The Trolls attacked for 5 for now. I blocked with Gandalf and Henamarth, and the latter left the game due to the dealt damage. Quickbeam and Ithilien Lookout took out the wounded Spawn, and I played None Return on it, moving it to the Victory Display, which contained a fair number of cards now. Meanwhile, Amarthiul, Wandering Ent and another Lookout together dealt 4 damage to the other Spawn. Gandalf left play as usual, my Threat rose to 39, and I passed the turn like many times before.

Turn 18! This must be a new record or something. I took resources, Wellinghalls healed themselves a bit when they readied, and I drew yet another Wellinghall. I played Elf- Stone on the active Barren Moorland and started questing.

I quested with 2 Wellinghalls, Gildor, Pippin, Mirlonde, Rossiel, Wandering Ent and Quickbeam for a whopping 21 WillpowerCold from Angmar did one damage to Mirlonde, then Ruthless Hill- Troll was revealed. I played The Door is Closed! on it. Hasta la Vista, Trollz. I also exhausted Warden to heal Mirlonde and Quickbeam. So a total of 21 WP against 6 Threat from the two Cruel Mountain Trolls meant 15 progress, which cleared Barren Moorland and allowed me to put the third Wellinghall on the table, while placing 10 progress on Journey’s End. Almost there!

(By the way, apparently I was still thinking that I was on the earlier stage since I revealed two cards instead of just one!)

I travelled to Patch of Woods, causing Trollspawn to go back to the staging area, and each of my Heroes gained one resource. I raised my Threat to 40 and ended the turn.

Turn 19. I took resources, drew Warden, played nothing and just quested with everything I could possibly quest with to finally end this game (it had lasted for maybe 4 hours now).

I revealed Cold from Angmar, which was cancelled because I was in a Safe location, so 29 Willpower against 7 Threat in the staging area was more than enough to allow me to win the game.

victory-display-game-3-ettenmoors-turn-19-the-end

Turn 19 and The End Finally!

 

Wow, what can I say? That felt like an incredibly long game, and to be fair, it started to get a little boring and repetitive at some point around turn 12 or 13, which probably showed on the report.  The deck, on the other hand, worked really well, and many Safe locations on the way also made the game much easier. This quest can be quite long though due to a lot of Side Quests and the progress requirements on the stages themselves. After all that though, I felt like the victory was well earned, although I’ve had my fill of Ettenmoors for now.

To be honest though, I lost both of these scenarios in the first try with this deck. In the first try against Foundations, I landed on Old One Lair once again and an Unspeakable Thing appeared, which ultimately grew to be unstoppable, despite the fact that the game itself went quite well, and I battled against it for some time. In the first Ettenmoors play test on the other hand, the Forage for Food Side Quests\ and two consecutive Biting Wind Treacheries killed all of my Characters on turn 2, so I just reset the game and tried again. These games also did a better job showing how the deck usually plays or should play, so there you go.

And finally, speaking of the future of this particular deck archetype, it looks quite promising in fact, for the Race Across Harad adventure pack has already revealed a few new player cards that exploit the Victory Display mechanic: the Side Quest Explore Secret Ways and the Hero Thurindir. Explore Secret Ways gives players an effect that probably has been anticipated for quite a while, namely the ability to cancel the Threat values of multiple copies of the same location, as long as one of those is the active location. This card therefore sounds like a great way to tackle location lock in Victory Display decks. Thurindir, on the other hand, gets +1 Willpower for each Side Quest in your Victory Display, and allows you to search your deck for one such card during Setup! So not only do these two cards synergize really well, they also give VD decks a boost on the Willpower side, which is of course very helpful. The usage of Thurindir on the other hand is probably not for this particular deck though, for it would be fairly difficult to combine all the Victory cards and Thurindir with all the cards and Heroes that require Secrecy. So while this particular deck continues to have its limitations and a niche place among the decks in this game, the Victory Display archetype in general is definitely getting improved in the near future, expanding the different ways of playing this game efficiently while continuing to make the game itself better and better.

 

All in all, that was everything for now. What, fellow readers, have been your experiences with the mechanics of Secrecy and Victory Display so far? I hope that you enjoyed this deck and the rather long battle reports, and have your say as you always do!

– Miika

 

 

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