Seastan’s Reduced Quest Gauntlet

At the time of this writing, there are nearly 100 quests available for this game. Two months ago I embarked on a mission to play through each one of them (in nightmare mode, when available) with a single deck, with no modifications.

The result can be found here: http://ringsdb.com/decklist/view/8682/the-one-deck-1.0

I really enjoyed the challenge because it forced me to replay every quest, even the ones I don’t like and would never revisit otherwise. I wanted to take the opportunity, while all these quests are still fresh in my recent memory, to outline what I call the Reduced Quest Gauntlet (RQG).

The idea of the RQG comes from the fact that I want to design other decks that can be considered “One Decks” that can beat every quest in the game, without the actual tedious part of playing through literally every quest out there. I would like to have a shorter list of quests, such that any deck that can beat all the quests in the shortlist can beat all the quests in the game. This is the RQG.

For instance, it’s hard to imagine any sort of deck that can beat every quest in the game except for Passage through Mirkwood. So for a deck to be considered a One Deck, I don’t think it’s ability to beat this quest even needs to be checked.

Just how short can we make the RQG? Well, we have a number of quests that are auto-includes because they include prisoner heroes. These quests are sufficiently unique in that they can completely cripple a deck that relies on the synergy between the heroes:

  • Escape From Dol Guldur (1 hero captured)
  • Escape from Mount Gram (2 heroes captured)
  • Flies and Spiders (all heroes captured)

I’ve left out Uruk-Hai (1 hero captured) and Long Arm of Mordor (all heroes captured) because they represent easier versions of one of the quests above.

We then need some quests that place specific demands on the player deck. These are:

A lot of willpower questing, with no time to turtle:
  • Race Across Harad
A lot of battle and/or siege questing, with no time to turtle:
  • The Battle of the Five Armies
A lot of combat early, with no time to turtle:
  • The Three Trials
A lot of allies. I chose the hardest sailing quest for this:
  • A Storm on Cobas Haven
Few allies:
  • Mount Doom
Low starting threat:
  • The Morgul Vale
Good threat management:
  • Return to Mirkwood
Good resource generation:
  • The Druadan Forest
Good healing:
  • The Ruins of Belegost

Good card draw:

  • Riddles in the Dark (if playing standard)
  • Watcher in the Water (if playing nightmare)

I would’ve liked to include a quest that demands a deck with good location control, but in solo I can’t think of any. Quests with that focus, like The Hills of Emyn Muil, tend to be on the easier side and can be beaten by a generic deck. If you have a recommendation, let me know.

The same goes for a quest that demands good card draw. A quest like The Long Dark is too easy. However, I think good location control is somewhat already covered by the demand for good willpower, and good card draw is just naturally going to be found in any sort of power deck, so I don’t think we definitely need a quest to challenge these aspects. Still,

Now that we’ve required our deck to be good at all the general aspects of the game, we need to take a look at what quests remain, and whether they have any demands that aren’t met by a standard well-rounded deck.

The quintessential example is of course:
  • A Journey to Rhosgobel

Which requires not just good healing, but a specific type of focused healing. It might also be beaten by a clever trick using location control to clear the Rhosgobel location, followed by more generic healing. Either way, this quest definitely puts some unique demands on the player deck.

We should also include:
  • Shadow and Flame

For the unique 0-threat mechanic it starts out with, followed by a boss enemy attacking you from turn 2 onward unless you’ve got some repeatable threat reduction.

Then there’s:
  • The ​Nin-in-Eilph

Now, this quest demands a lot of willpower and threat management, which have already been taken care of above to a more extreme degree, but Nin-in-Eilph is unique in that its first stage places a severe restriction on your deck which makes it difficult to set up properly.

I think we also need:
  • Deadmen’s Dike

Because it directly counters Erestor-type power decks that win by burning through the player card deck and dumping everything on the table quickly. At the very least, such a deck needs to either win while playing more conservatively, or find room for Will of the West in the deck list (in Deadmen’s Dike you lose if your deck runs out of cards).

Now we come to a split depending on whether you’re doing the standard version or the nightmare version of the quests. For standard mode, we add:
  • The Battle of Carn Dum

Since it’s one of the toughest quests in the standard quest pool (it’s nightmare version is eclipsed by other nightmare quests).

Nightmare mode has a couple more to contend with:

  • Encounter at Amon Din Nightmare
  • The Blood of Gondor Nightmare
  • The Lonely Mountain Nightmare

Just in terms of how many encounter cards and/or attacks that these three scenarios can throw at you, I found them to be pretty challenging in their own ways.

Ordering

The last thing I want to do is set an ordering for the Reduced Quest Gauntlet, from what I consider the easiest to hardest quest for a One Deck candidate to beat. This ordering serves two purposes. One is to see how far you can get, starting at the easier end and going forward. The other, which I plan to use it for, is to start at the hard end, so that if you get stuck you can make tweaks to the deck before you get too heavily invested in the process. It would be a shame to get to the last and hardest quest in the list only to realize that the only way your deck can beat it is with a couple changes.

Just one note before I get to the list. This is not what I consider to be an overall ranking of quest difficulty. This is what I consider a difficulty ranking specifically for One Deck candidates that are supposed to be good at everything. Note how Journey to Rhosgobel is near the end of the list. This is because it’s hard for a well-rounded deck to beat. Overall it’s actually a very easy quest if you specifically build for it.

If you are playing standard:

  1. Riddles in the Dark
  2. Flies and Spiders
  3. The Druadan Forest
  4. Escape from Mount Gram
  5. Race Across Harad
  6. A Storm on Cobas Haven
  7. The Morgul Vale
  8. Deadmen’s Dike
  9. Shadow and Flame
  10. The Three Trials
  11. The Battle of Carn Dum
  12. The Ruins of Belegost
  13. The ​Nin-in-Eilph
  14. A Journey to Rhosgobel
  15. Return to Mirkwood
  16. The Battle of the Five Armies
  17. Mount Doom
  18. Escape From Dol Guldur

If you are playing nightmare:

  1. Flies and Spiders
  2. The Watcher in the Water
  3. The Druadan Forest
  4. The Lonely Mountain
  5. Escape from Mount Gram
  6. Race Across Harad
  7. A Storm on Cobas Haven
  8. The Morgul Vale
  9. Deadmen’s Dike
  10. The Blood of Gondor
  11. Shadow and Flame
  12. The Three Trials
  13. Encounter at Amon Din
  14. The Ruins of Belegost
  15. The ​Nin-in-Eilph
  16. A Journey to Rhosgobel
  17. Return to Mirkwood
  18. The Battle of the Five Armies
  19. Mount Doom
  20. Escape From Dol Guldur

Can you beat them all? Did I miss any? Let me know!

Addendum

After further reflection, I’ve added a few more quests to the RQG because they present unique challenges to an all-round type deck. I will keep this section updated with any future releases that belong in the gauntlet as well. These quests should be added to both the standard and nightmare RQGs.

  • Journey to the Cross-roads

Because you essentially have to deal with an extra enemy every round on top of the regular encounter card, with no time to turtle.

  • The City of Corsairs

Because typical decks do not have a good answer to the sudden engagement of a huge battleship and a Corsair, as well as whatever else comes off the top of the encounter deck, all on the first turn.

  • The Steward’s Fear

Because it demands your deck to be highly adaptable partway through the quest, needing to be able to reduce threat or conserve your deck, etc. (thanks for the suggestion rouxxor).

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