Ringmaker 2P Fellowship
I'm starting the Ringmaker cycle and wanted to stay thematic with Ent, Silvan, Rohan, and Doomed cards (with a touch of Dunedain -- Idraen is much better than I was anticipating!). Some Ent & Rohan cards inevitably leaked in from the Sagas to help round out the decks.
I'm writing quest-specific notes on changes to the specific decks as I go (especially the Tactics/Lore one), so click the deck details to see those.
Fords of Isen and To Catch an Orc
Fords of Isen required a rebuild because Grima is an objective ally -- so much for Doomed but I stayed on the Ringmaker/Silvan theme with Haldir of Lórien. Once I got the hang of these decks and made some tweaks, they hummed along nicely and were able to beat both quests in the first few tries. Also Doomed (which I used extensively in To Catch an Orc) is a much more fun mechanic than I was expecting, especially during early turns when it really makes a difference establishing the board quickly.
Between these two quests, I much preferred Fords of Isen. I replayed it a couple extra times even after beating it, because I thought the story was compelling and the balance was really good. To Catch an Orc was OK too, but the search mechanic for the Out of Play decks makes it a little too swingy for my tastes.
I lost the first attempt badly when I drew The Forest's Malice during setup, and ended up with 5 Huorns in play by the end of the 2nd turn. I agonized for a bit over some deck changes before giving it another shot. The second time, I didn't see any Huorns in the first couple turns, and cakewalked through the quest in 4 turns total. I tweaked the decks a bit in between but really it had more to do with luck of the encounter deck draw than anything else.
(Update! I realized I had forgotten all about the "Hinder" keyword and wasn't removing progress tokens for my 2nd game, so I replayed it. I won this time fair and square, though the encounter deck was more even this time so I had to carefully balance when to engage the higher-threat Huorns and when to let them stick around in the staging area. It made for a nifty puzzle, though not as thrilling as some other quests. For fun-factor, I rate this quest about average: The Huorns were an interesting change of pace as enemies, but not interesting enough to make we want to play the quest a 4th time.)
The Dunland Trap
Funny thing: I got off to what I thought was a bad draw, unable to get the mounts and weapons I wanted active into play in the first few turns. I was getting punished for card draw, so unable to stall any longer, I forged ahead with a decent set of Ent allies but not much else. Little did I know, I would be forced to discard all my items and mounts anyway!
I had some close calls as I progressed, especially on Galadriel's side, since I had to engage more enemies than that deck is prepared to deal with. Unexpected Courage came up midway through the game while I was bogged down with enemies; putting it on Celeborn (a first for him!) changed the tide and I started to fight my way out. The darkest moment was an ill-timed Frenzied Attack treachery, which I misread and thought it forced me to discard all my allies from play, not from my hand! That would have resulted in a loss as my heroes didn't have enough health to withstand another attack from the Boar clan. Upon a third read of the card, slower and more carefully, I breathed a sigh of relief: my Chump Questers would stay on the board until the Combat Phase. I wasn't out of the woods, but next came a fortuitous forced draw of Gandalf while I had Sneak Attack in my hand, allowing me to clear the last truly troubling enemy by dropping a quick 4 damage on it. (The wizard shows up just in time again!) A turn later I was able to use Westfold Outrider to double-engage the boss during the planning phase, which dropped the timer to zero. A quick chump block against Chief Turch and the heroes survived the Dunland Trap!
This quest was definitely exciting: With a bit less luck (both with my late-game draws and with shadow cards), I would have failed the final stage -- at one point I would have insta-lost if I had pulled a +1 shadow card. But it didn't feel like luck was the driving factor overall...the win felt earned and very satisfying. I could definitely see myself coming back to this quest if I was in the mood for a fun & challenging one-off. (Though maybe knowing the item & mount wipe is coming ahead of time ruins it a bit?)
In hindsight, this would have been a good game to try out The Wizards's Voice and Rohan Warhorse for the first time, as I often had multiple enemies engaged with each deck. (Éomer can ride two horses at a time, right?) It also is making me consider adding some ranged or sentinel support to the Rohan deck, to better help out the more quest-focused side if it gets bogged down. Or maybe I just need to more aggressively lower my threat. Don't Be Hasty! saved the day at least once, as overquesting on the final stage was easy to do. Being able to pull back a character to pitch in against a newly-staged enemy was a big help.