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).

Update (06/2019)

I’ve been through the RQG now (the nightmare version) a few times, and I think I can trim it down a bit further. Here is the updated list, followed by some reasoning for why certain things were cut.

    (NM) Escape from Mount Gram (captured heroes)(NM) A Storm on Cobas Haven (sailing)(NM) Encounter at Amon Din (early willpower)(NM) The Three Trials (early defense)The Ruins of Belegost (direct damage)(NM) The Lonely Mountain (max willpower and deck management)(NM) A Journey to Rhosgobel (healing)(NM) Return to Mirkwood (threat)(NM) Journey to the Cross-roads (early attack)(NM) Shadow and Flame (big boss)(NM) The ​Nin-in-Eilph (burst willpower, play restritions)(NM) The Battle of the Five Armies (battle and siege)Mount Doom (anti-swarm)(NM) Escape From Dol Guldur (lol)

Removed:

  1. City of Corsairs – This requires handling early engagement, but with the 2 ships starting at your side, I think it”s easier than the early engagement in The Three Trials.
  2. The Steward’s Fear – Due to the random plots, you could replay this until you get an easy one (like Assassination)
  3. Watcher in the Water – The combat is no harder than the other ones in the list. The only reason this was here was due to the scrying needed for Doors of Durin test, but I think this can be replayed pretty easily until you get lucky, or game it by running down the encounter deck to 1 or two cards and determining the letter by process of elimination.
  4. Deadman’s Dike – This tests your ability to conserve cards in your deck, but the Lonely Mountain already does this.
  5. Flies and Spiders – This hero capture quest allows you to build up your board state first, and frankly isn’t all that hard. NM Escape from Mount Gram tests the hero capture better.
  6. The Druadan Forest – If your deck doesn’t have some way to generate extra resources, there’s no way you’re beating most of the other quests here.
  7. Race Across Harad – Not as bad of a willpower race as Mount Doom is.
  8. The Morgul Vale – This one really punishes you for a high starting threat, but not as badly and Return to Mirkwood does.
  9. The Blood of Gondor – The Battle of the Five Armies is a tougher test of siege. Other than that, this quest is just hard, but there are plenty of other hard quests on the list.
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4 thoughts on “Seastan’s Reduced Quest Gauntlet

  1. Nice, great idea! I’m curious what your thoughts are on Riddles in the Dark and Watcher in the Water. Both have some unique “deck composition” requirements that aren’t found elsewhere.

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    1. I like you suggestions. I think both are good examples of quests that demand good card draw in order to solve the puzzle. I think Watcher in the Watcher in the Water is the tougher quest, so I’ll add that in!

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  2. Great list. I may ask for some clarification:
    – It is only for solo play right? I don’t see many people trying to have a One Duo anyway, mostly because it is way more easy anyway;
    – Does Druadan forest is the nightmare one? I always found it very easy. Probably because I often steward and/or other resource management. I even found the classic version harder, but in solo it stay really easy, it is only difficult with high player count.
    – Battle of carn Dum standard is more interesting. The nightmare version is on the same difficulty, or may be even easier and less about synergies between encounter cards.
    – I get the feeling that
    – About a storm at cobas haven I presume you haven’t play it with nightmare. Because you playtest before it release, but city of corsairs is probably in nightmare because it is an addendum
    – You point it out but a journey to rhosgobel is what look like the most location clear even for one player. More than heal since every healing cards won’t be very powerful as long as Rhosgobel location is in play?
    – What do you think of steward’s fear as a “have to adapt during game” scenario? You have to either reduce the threat, avoid deck empty or put many to the quest depending of the plot.

    Anyway, even this make the list more ugly, it would be more clear to put for each scenario if he his nightmare or not. May be using a color code, like write in purple nightmare aside for each nightmare quest.

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    1. – Yes this is only for solo. I have not played enough multiplayer to make one for that.
      – Druadan Forest is different than many other quests and can be a truggle if you don’t have resource generation. That’s why it’s on the list. You’re right that it’s not hard for a deck that runs Steward, which is why it appears to high on the list (meaning it’s one of the easier ones).
      – Battle of Carn Dum: Yes, you are right, which is why Carn Dum is in the standard list, not the nightmare list.
      – Cobas Haven appears in both lists
      – Agreed, location control is important in Rhosgobel if you plan to use repeatable healing.
      – Stewards Fear s good for demanding adaptability. I can add it to the addendum.

      – Color codes: I’m not sure what you mean. There are two entire separate lists at the end of the post. You follow the standard list if you play in standard mode, and you follow the nightmare list if you play nightmare.

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