The Wastes of Eriador
With no new quests out this week I decide to go try a quest that still relatively new, the first AP for the Angmar Awakened cycle, The Wastes of Eriador. I expect to quickly become warg food. I’ve heard this one is quite difficult. Let’s see how Easy mode fairs for this brutal quest. I’m using a modified I am No Ally deck (I’ll post the modified decklist at the end of this post).
Setup: Blood-thirsty Warg
Things come off to a great start when I reveal an old pal, Lost in the Wilderness, on round 1 (Gandalf was in my hand and was thoroughly left perplexed as to where the heroes had gone). Round two revealed a Warg’s Den. I foolishly travel there and grab myself a Northern Warg to join his blood-thirsty pal who had attacked the round before (Nighttime fell). Weight of Responsibility shadow had me discard all attachments in play (I only had two), just a Fast Hitch and Hobbit Pony, so nothing too critical, but stung non the less. On round 3 I had 3 wargs in the staging area just waiting to pounce when nightfall hits, and a 4th showed up, Northern Warg, boosting the threat of each one in the staging area. I lost by 2…
The next round, combat was brutal! Blood-thirsty Warg brings back a Northern Warg (Shadow – Sudden Darkness). Elrond defends against Wolf of Angmar (shadow – White Warg) but the runt makes another attack. Gandalf defends using Flames of Anor just to get him ready to defend the surprise second attack. At this stage in the game, 2 damage was already on Amarthiul, a nasty shadow could kill him if he defended against Northern Warg. I defended with the only other option, Bilbo and he was maimed to death with a shadow boosting the warg’s attack by +2 (Wolf of Angmar). The next day I barely manage to scrape by seeing Rugged Countries as far as the eye can see.
By nightfall, I see Arwen for the first time since I started this blog (she’s been trapped in Mount Gram this whole time, but considering this quest is before that AP, makes sense she shows up now). But the staging area was completely out of control. Rugged Country x2 (and another as an active location), Wolf of Angmar x1, Northern Warg x3, making 11 threat before staging step! I could only muster 11 Willpower if I committed everyone to the quest. I had already used Galadriel to lower my threat by 1 to an uncomfortable 29 Threat, just 1 away from all three Northern Wargs to engage. If I committed all my guys, no one would be able to defend against the lone Wolf of Angmar – hero will die. But if my threat was increased, I would lose the game with all the wargs engaging me. Lose a hero, or lose the game? I decided to commit everyone to the quest just for that one chance. Cold from Angmar did some damage but that meant no threat increase.
The Wolf engages and as luck would have it (or lack thereof) the wolf’s shadow grants another attack (White Warg), and worse still, the shadow for the second attack gave the yet one more attack! My heroes all died before the third attack went through, but talk about overkill!
There was no hope to win. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.
Setup: White Warg
A second White Warg showed its ugly mug on the first round of the game and I only managed to get a piddly 1 progress on the quest active location. Round 2 had me see that insufferable side quest, Lost in the Wilderness… >_>. Combat had me survive 4 attacks from the white wargs (a repeat from last game had one enemy chain attacks, attacking 3 times). The final attack had to go undefended, I had no one else to defend with. Galadriel took the 2 damage. Round 3 Freezing Blast showed up, but was swiftly canceled. I optionally engage a White Wolf and Bilbo bravely defends, taking a single point of damage from the attack. And the warg was killed. The next round Bilbo almost died from Cold from Angmar but I cancelled that to save him from death. The final warg was dealt with and all enemies in play were now defeated.
Biting Wind had me deal 4 damage to my characters, but it couldn’t been worse. I used Hobbit Ponies (Merry and Bilbo) after it resolved saving myself from 2 extra damage. Nighttime rolls around and Wolf of Angmar brings a friend along, Northern Warg. Great, I just cleared the area of mangy wolves and now here’s more! However, Gandalf was a machine equipped with his Staff, Steed, Self Preservation and Ent Draught! Combat was swift and deadly, for the wargs that is. 😉
I finally make it to Stage 2B! But unluckily for Arwen, she gets eaten once nightfall hits (thanks to the forced effect of 2B). I couldn’t afford to lose anyone else and I made a mad dash through the quest. With no staging area and active location I blaze through handily despite Freezing Blast trying to slow me down. Stage 3B now. Pack Leader shows himself. I survive its attack and quested handily during the day to place the much needed progress on Stage 3B. The big wolf is mine next round!
At this time I drew the last two cards of my deck! I commit no one to the quest as nightfall rolls around. Merry rode in on his pony with the help of Nenya to make me break even on the quest phase (Rugged Country was revealed during staging). Pack Leader comes down and Gandalf defends, taking 2 damage (no shadow effect!), but immediately healed to full thanks to Self Preservation. Gandalf readies with Shadowfax and everyone attacks! Elrond, Wellinghall Preserver, QuickBeam, Treebeard, Gandalf, Amarthiul, and Bilbo swing for a massive 18 attack total! They all dog piled on the mangy mutt.
Setup: White Warg
Weight of Responsibility effectively surges into a Rugged Country on round 1. I mustered 10 Willpower thanks to Nenya, the hobbits, and the Stage 1B Willpower boost during the day busting through the active location on the first round. I optionally engage the White Wolf to take less damage from his Forced effect. I was glad to see Blood-thirsty Warg as the shadow effect. The next round had my threat skyrocket thanks to me playing Saruman, and revealing Sudden Darkness (it was already Night). Even though I did play The Galadhrim’s Greeting that same turn, it still stung. My plan to kill the warg engaged with me was foiled, he made another attack, and the second attack had me exhaust a character from a shadow effect, but luckily I had Galadriel readied. Sarumon was the lone attacker, and the warg survived with one HP…
Intent on killing that warg, I took a chance and pulled him down after traveling to Eriador Wastes giving it a second shadow card. Both shadow card were White Warg, but it was Day so they whiffed! Bye bye warg. I was making very little progress on the first quest stage and my threat was getting too high, around 39 at the time. I drew into some much needed threat reduction and played The Galadhrim’s Greeting and Elrond’s Council in the same turn to manage my growing threat. A Hunting Pack takes a bite out of Gandalf dealing 2 damage. The Hunting Pack was dealt with thanks to my army of trees and Amarthiul.
Finally made it to Quest Stage 2B. Sudden Darkness is revealed during staging causing it to be Nighttime, and that meant I had to discard an ally. Sorry Elrond, you have to take one for the team. But despite that, I quested exactly enough to move onto the next quest stage in one go. Pack Leader comes down and kills Gandalf (Wolf of Angmar as a shadow)!
The next round I had full quest control with Nenya, a Hobbit Pony on Bilbo and Merry, plus Protector of Lorien on Merry. I quested successfully to get just enough progress on stage 3B to take out the Pack Leader. Even with the help of a White Warg, I survived the attacks from the wargs (and the White Warg did get another attack too). I weathered the storm and went all out on the Pack Leader mustering enough strength to defeat him in turn!
After getting mauled brutally by the wargs first time I played the quest, I expected that to happen again, and again. “Yep, I’m going to lose every time.” But I was surprised that I won the next two games. Despite being victorious, those wins were hard fought. There are a few words that aptly sum up this quest, “Relentless” and “Tense”. Those wargs are hounding you from the very start and they never let up. And with the nasty weather treacheries and the inclusion of the Day and Night cycle, you are hard pressed to get a break. And when you think you do, more nasties show up to ruin your fun. Keep on moving and never look back.
I quickly learned that enemy management is key here. I learned that the hard way in my first game. During the day, it’s best to separate an enemy from the pack and pick them off, because once nighttime hits, things go bad to worse in a heartbeat. And the day/night cycle forces you into very sticky situations. You can only place progress during the day, for example, so you’re incentivized to push as hard as you can knowing enemies won’t make engagement checks during the day. Wargs are out of their element during the day (the nastiest shadow that gives a second attack only triggers at night), and you can cancel encounter card effects at this time, so it pays to fight during the day. And as night comes in, more dangers are revealed, pushing you to go fast or things will get out of control. You have to brace for the inevitable attack. You quest only just enough to not raise your threat and then a brutal round of fighting against buffed wargs. Shadow effects are especially brutal here (White Warg I’m looking at you) and there’s nothing you can do about it.
What’s intriguing is how day/night cycle shifts your priorities. You want to quest hard during the day, and hold back and fight like mad at night – it’s like night and day, how fitting. 😛 (Yes, I couldn’t resist). The one thing I don’t really like is the fact you can’t place progress on quests at night. It artificially lengthens the current session, but I can see how that fits thematically; wargs stalk you during the day as you travel about, and when you hunker down and rest for the night, they attack. It’s a brutal quest. Hard, but not frustratingly hard. I can see myself returning to it.
Oh, just want to do a little side rant: Lost in the Wilderness, go away! Why do you keep taking my stuff? Don’t you have anything better to do!?
Decklist (modified from I Am No Ally)
1x Merry (Spirit)
1x Bilbo Baggins
3x Gandalf (OHaUH)
1x Arwen Undómiel
2x Wellinghall Preserver
3x Gandalf’s Staff
1x Unexpected Courage
3x Hobbit Pony
2x Self Preservation
2x Fast Hitch
2x Protector of Lórien
1x Ent Draught
3x Daeron’s Runes
3x A Test of Will
1x Dwarven Tomb
2x Hasty Stroke
3x Elrond’s Counsel
3x Flame of Anor
2x The Galadhrim’s Greeting
1x Will of the West