Escape from Dol Guldur Nightmare - 99% Success

Seastan 12892


This is a combo fellowship that combines several infinite loops and is designed to achieve a 99% win rate against Escape From Dol Guldur - Nightmare, considered by many to be the hardest quest in the game. And it does it in the planning phase of the first turn.

I'll explain the deck by working backwards.

Step 5 - Placing Infinite Progress

If we have infinite resources and an empty deck, we can recur any Spirit/Lore/Leadership/Tactics event endlessly by using the corresponding Record attachment (Map of Earnil/Scroll of Isildur/Tome of Atanatar/Book of Eldacar). The combo is described in detail elsewhere, but here's the summary (feel free to skip it and just trust me):

  1. Play Tome of Atanatar and use it to recur Second Breakfast which returns Tome of Atanatar to your hand and is then placed into your deck.
  2. Draw Second Breakfast using Rod of the Steward.
  3. Use Second Breakfast to pull back a Record attachment (of any sphere).
  4. Play that Record attachment and use it on an event of the same sphere and put that event back on the bottom of your deck.
  5. Draw that event into your hand using Rod of the Steward.
  6. Play that event a second time.
  7. Repeat.

By choosing Ravens of the Mountain as your card to recur, you can place unlimited progress at will. However, Ravens of the Mountain has an additional cost in order to play - you must exhaust a hero. However, by using Miruvor and Rod of the Steward, we can use our infinite resources to get infinite readying.

In order to beat Escape From Dol Guldur, we need more than just progress. We need to get rid of the Nazgul. The simplest way is to use Sneak Attack+Saruman to temporarily remove it from the game.

Step 4 - Claiming the Objectives

Again, we assume that we already have infinite resources and an empty deck. The objectives may be guarded by an enemy or location. If it's a location, just loop The Evening Star. If it's an enemy, we loop Hail of Stones using Book of Eldacar, with Miruvor for readying.

Step 3 - Getting Infinite Resources

If we can ignore doomed, we can generate infinite resources. I'll explain why we can ignore doomed in a minute. This loop requires a player to have 4 Leadership Heroes. The fellowship has 3 ways of making this happen:

  1. Desperate Alliance to pass Denethor to player 2.
  2. If Denethor is the captured hero, player 1 can play Sneak Attack+Ceorl+Sword-thain.
  3. If one of player 2's heroes is captured, both 1&2 are used to get 4 non-captive leadership heroes controlled by player 2.

Once a player has 4 leadership heroes and an empty deck, they can generate infinite resources by endlessly recurring Legacy of Númenor using the loop mentioned in Step 5 (ignoring doomed). The Tome of Atanatar is free, so the total cost of the loop is just 6 (2x uses of Rod of the Steward, 2x uses of Second Breakfast), while the net gain is 8 (2x uses of Legacy of Númenor).

Step 2 - Drawing your entire deck

An empty deck is needed for the loops with the Record attachments. We can achieve this by playing the multitude of draw cards in the decks. Assuming we can safely ignore doomed effects (I will explain this soon), this step is quite easy because we just keep playing Deep Knowledge over and over. You can put Deep Knowledge back into the deck with The White Council and find it again with The Seeing-stone. Playing Legacy of Númenor over and over helps fund secondary draw effects like Lórien's Wealth. I like to use Heed the Dream to grab each player's Justice Shall Be Done. Keen as Lances helps a little later when you have a ton of resources and are just trying to draw the last few cards.

Note on the mulligan: I actually think throwing away a starting hand with Justice Shall Be Done might be a good idea, just in case Eyes of the Forest comes out during setup.

Step 1 - Making Doomed a Non-issue

We can ignore Doomed if we use the following combo. First, use some draw cards and some doomed cards to achieve get the following condition:

  1. Player 1 needs Song of Travel and Song of Eärendil attached to a hero.
  2. Player 1 needs Desperate Alliance and Vanish from Sight in hand.
  3. Player 2 needs Wandering Took in hand.
  4. Player 2 needs either Song of Travel attached to a hero with 2 resources or Sneak Attack in hand and 1 resource on a hero.

Now, the combo:

  1. Song of Travel and Song of Eärendil are attached to a hero controlled by player 1.
  2. Player 1 passes a hero (not the one with Song of Eärendil) to player 2 using Desperate Alliance. This will probably be Denethor. If Denethor is captured, pass somebody else.
  3. Player 1 plays Vanish from Sight.
  4. Player 2 plays Sneak Attack+Wandering Took (or plays Wandering Took directly, using up the 1 allowed playing of an ally per round in this quest).
  5. By passing Wandering Took to player 1, player 2 reduces his threat by 3 and player 1 raises his threat by 3.
  6. Player 1 then passes Wandering Took back to player 2, but this time player 1 activates Song of Eärendil. We have now effectively transferred 1 threat from player 2 to player 1.
  7. We repeat 5&6 until player 2's threat is 0.
  8. Any time player 2 gains threat from a doomed card, repeat 5&6 until player 2's threat returns to 0.
  9. Player 1's threat will increase far beyond 50, but he cannot threat out thanks to Vanish from Sight.


I've tested the deck a few times now and haven't lost yet, even after a Eyes of the Forest came out during setup and took out 10 total cards, including player 2's entire hand. I suppose that in rare cases losses could come from extremely unfortunate scenarios, like where Eyes of the Forest (there's only 1 in the deck) takes out all the event cards in hand and the players do not draw into any new card draw effects during the resource phase (maybe Erestor is captured).

Also, I can say that the decks are not super fine-tuned. It might be possible to push the win rate from 99% to 99.5% by changing a couple cards. I am not very interested in doing this, but if you have suggestions for optimization that you want to share, feel free.

Other quests

While this deck is entirely focused on beating Escape from Dol Guldur in nightmare more, it can be easily extended to other quests.

For quests that force you to take multiple rounds: Drop Justice Shall Be Done and some of the other less-efficient draw cards. Replace them with Favor of the Valar so that player 1 can drop back down to 45 threat after Vanish from Sight wears off. You can also include Doom Hangs Still, and the player with 45 threat can keep recurring the valour action every round to avoid questing while the player with 0 threat soaks up the threat raise with Song of Eärendil. You will also want to drop Erestor for Bilbo Baggins.

A common method for the drawn out games is to remove all the cards from the encounter deck by looping Out of the Wild, then just wait until the quest is over. This kind of method works for quests like Helm's Deep for instance. If there are any victory point cards in the deck that cannot be removed with Out of the Wild, you can clear the locations once they're revealed by looping The Evening Star. The enemies in the deck that have victory points can be dealt with in many ways, such as Desperate Alliance+Advance Warning, followed by looping Hail of Stones the next turn.

The Steward's Fear: Remove all cards in the encounter deck as above except for a single copy of City Street.

Shelob's Lair: This requires all the tricks: Ravens of the Mountain, Doom Hangs Still, and Hail of Stones.

Nin-in-Eilph: This one is tricky, since you start with one of 3 random stage 2s, one of which starts you out not being able to draw cards or gain resources, and one of which does not let a player play more than 1 card. So you would only have a 33% chance of winning with these decks as is. You would need to modify these decks to have a ton of burst willpower, trying to get through stage 2 quick then pulling off the combo in stage 3. I haven't tried this, but if you swap Beravor for Treebeard and Boromir for Tactics Éowyn, you can put 3x Grappling Hook hook in deck 2 and search it out with Heed the Dream from deck 1 (Denthor's extra resources come before the quest card effect). This would allow a decent burst of 24 willpower, which should complete stage 2 every time on turn 1. In fact it's a little overkill.

If there's a final boss that is immune to player card effects: All you need is to boost one of your heroes up to infinite attack, which is easy with infinite resources. Lords of the Eldar, Durin's Song, and Gondorian Fire are some examples.

Let me know if there's any quest that seems like this fellowship could not be modified to defeat, and I'll see if I can come up with an answer. Thanks for reading!


Jul 06, 2017 Wandalf the Gizzard 491

@SeastanWhat do you do if the Ravens of the Mountain are used and you see a treachery card?

Jul 06, 2017 Wandalf the Gizzard 491

Also, would Faramir or Imrahil work in place of Boromir?

Jul 06, 2017 Seastan 12892


Every use of Ravens of the Mountain requires you to shuffle the deck.

Yes, those heroes would be fine.

Jul 06, 2017 Wandalf the Gizzard 491

I can't believe I didn't see that on the ravens! Thanks!

Jul 09, 2017 Rouxxor 716

Great. You do it! You are more experimented that me about the two combo deck stuff. You think about a lot of thing so it work better than I thought. good job!

About steward fear I have a twisted solution for winning at turn one. It involved (in addition of the usual cards): Risk Some Light (put location with underworld on top) born aloft dunedain pathfinder (all locations are in play) the evening star (all the cloud are our, first token thank to basic active location) (Risk Some Light again to put 2 city street on top) Strider's Path (another active location) force of will (second active location explored) strider's path (third active location) use the evening star again (third counter) use the 1 counter clue (come to second stage) Resolve the quest: complete the active location of step 2 (1 counter) Travel on another location and explore it with evening star (2 counter) Use the 2 counter clue to complete stage 2. Come to stage 3, win with hail of stones.

It seems to work, don't you think?

Jul 09, 2017 Seastan 12892

@RouxxorYes, I think that works. Clever use of Strength of Will!

Jul 22, 2017 pokie 71

I have not considered the abusive potential of Vanish from Sight before. Thanks for showing it off! Normally I've found making ~150 or so resources sufficient for Out of the Wild Shenanigans, but this takes it to the next level. Kudos!

Jul 22, 2017 pokie 71

Also, if you play Celeborn over Boromir, you can play Unlikely Friendship for a better early card draw/resource generator.

Jul 22, 2017 pokie 71

I ran into a small problem getting infinite money - Rod requires spending from the hero who has it. So looping Legacy means losing 4 money from that hero while gaining only 2 money on the hero with the Rod.

Jul 22, 2017 pokie 71

Ah, that's where Parting Gifts comes in. As long as your heroes have enough money to start with, you just add another loop to recycle it.

Jul 23, 2017 Rouxxor 716

@SeastanThanks :). It is nice to talk about this with someone. It is usally miles from people plays habits ^^.

@pokieAs I understand it it is not why vanish from sight it used. With vanish from sight you can't be eliminated from threat this phase so you can play as many doomed cards you want. The fact that you need less resource after being able to get infinite resources is, in fact, pretty useless with my play style (and probably Seastan one for this deck too). Because you can't really do any of the physical actions required to get all the resources because it will take hours only to do repetitive actions. So when we can do this (there is not random, everything is predictable) we says we do it as many time we want (for exemple 1 billion times in each hero in table) so there is not point of reducing cost of further cards :).

Jul 24, 2017 pokie 71

@Rouxxor Yeah, I think I understand how it works. The decks I built like these just recycled Lure of Moria and We Are Not Idle instead of doomed cards. So the use of Vanish from Sight is novel in this regard.

Jul 27, 2017 Seastan 12892

@pokieI didn't include Celeborn and Unlikely Friendship because it becomes a dead card if either hero gets captured.