Defeat of the Fortress of Nurn

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SchadenfreudeNE 51

This deck was specifically built to beat The Fortress of Nurn. It got the job done on its second attempt, but it was by no means a foregone conclusion. It's funny how you can try to tech against everything an Encounter Deck throws at you, and it's still touch-and-go to get the victory!

Having watched some playthroughs, this quest seems most likely to beat you by threating out. So, I selected heroes with the idea of mitigating against high threat for as long as possible. It's a Bond of Friendship deck. I started by building around Frodo Baggins and Beregond to work on threat mitigation. Éowyn is one of the best heroes in the game, so she slotted in easily for Tactics.

That left Lore. After looking through the list of heroes, I settled on Thurindir. Although Nurn makes "Set up" effects ineffective, I knew I would be seeing a lot of side quests and driving up Thurindir's willpower (especially late game) would be important. And even though I was unlikely to pull a side quest in my 4 card starting deck, I could still look at all of the cards in that tiny deck to help plan out the first few turns. All of the cards in the deck are built around the ideas of threat mitigation, side quest bonuses, and/or being generally useful cards. There are a lot of 1-of cards, which were all cards that I knew would be nice to have, but that I could live without if they didn't show up.

The two side quests I threw in--Double Back and The Storm Comes--were added as "wants," as opposed to "needs." However, in the game I won, they ended up being the first major piece of luck I received. My opening hand included The Storm Comes. And after passing out my deck to the various quest cards, I looked at my 4-card deck and found Double Back!

Gondorian Shield and my 1 copy of Unexpected Courage were also in my starting hand. As such, I knew I would have Beregond ready from the start of the game to help me deal with the various high-attack enemies. Between Frodo Baggins, Beregond, Double Back, and a Secret Vigil I put on a Mordor Olog-Hai, I was able to drive my threat down to under 20.

I also got a bit lucky in how the Power of Mordor deck was dealt to the various quest cards. Under the Watching Eye (the one that raises your threat when you draw cards) went under the main quest deck. Effectively, this also let me keep my threat low because I wouldn't being raising my threat each time I drew a card for quite a while. After clearing my two player side-quests, I progressed first through The Armies of Mordor (the one that prevents you from damaging enemies the round they engage you) under No Quarter (not great), followed by Covered in Darkness (the Doomed 5 one) under Lethal Counterattack (also not great), then Khamul the Easterling under Stronghold of Mordor. After completing these side quests, and the two other ones in the encounter deck, Thurindir was questing with 9 Willpower each round!

After slowly progressing through the first stage, I was as ready as I was ever going to be to face down Thane Ulchor. What I didn't appreciate going into the second stage before playing is how the game shifts from being about patience and survival to a race against time. Every single card in the Encounter Deck is meant to hurt--badly--and you can't dilly-dally around while Ulchor is revealing cards every time he attacks. I took around 4 rounds to get progress on the second main quest stage and damaged Ulchor as quickly as I can. Having kept my threat low throughout the game allowed me to keep enemies in the staging area. On the last turn, Ulchor revealed two Guard Dogs, who were accompanying the 2 Easterling Mercenaries I kept in the staging area. I was already engaged with another Guard Dog, Ulchor's Guard, and Ulchor himself, so I may not have been able to survive through the next turn had I not won when I did.

A few random thoughts:

  • Another piece of luck was never being hit by the Dark Lord's Reach, and only hit by Ulchor's Rage once or twice. I was able to pull both Halfling Bounders, who were ready to cancel these bad treacheries, but I ended up only discarding one of them to cancel an Ulchor's rage (which was huge when it happened).

  • I was able to pull both my Honour Guards, which provided another level of protection to Beregond and against the various cards that do direct damage to characters. They were life-savers until I got a warden and Ioreth out later in the game.

  • Arwen Undómiel was a 1-of, but was great to have because she allowed me to have a back up defender for those attacks where Beregond was busy.

  • Galadhrim Weaver recycled my Unexpected Courage when it was discarded by a shadow effect. Another game-changing moment!

  • Similarly, Hauberk of Mail came out twice, got played twice, and got discarded twice by that same shadow effect.

  • I've never played with Halfast Gamgee, and I may never again, but he was good to have for the additional willpower points. He came out for free and put a resource on Frodo.

  • I now appreciate how great Frodo Baggins is. I used his ability on all but 1 or 2 turns to ready Thurindir. Thurindir's 2 attack made a big difference in whether I could kill a number of enemies on a specific turn, or would have to wait for the next turn.

This is a hard quest. And I made a number of mistakes while playing (which I did my best to correct). Ultimately, I think it was a good win, but I definitely see myself as having gotten lucky. It wouldn't surprise me if I played with this deck 10 times and this being the only win I got against this quest. But we'll never know, as I don't really have a desire to replay this quest anytime soon!

Completed Rounds - 25 (250 points); Dead Heroes - 0; Final Threat - 27; Damage on Heroes - 2; Victory Points - 58.

Total Score 221


May 04, 2021 Truck 647

Great, any Nurn win is a well deserved win. Very respectable.