The Dunland Trap is one of this quests that plays very different when you play it for the first time or if you know what will happen (it was also very funny to play a 3 player game with my brothers where I was the only one who knew the quest 🙂 ). So if you haven’t played the quest yet, I really recommend to stop reading here.
So if you’re still here, you know the Trap, this nasty stage 2 that will wreck your board state. It is possible to prepare for this by using non-Item or Mount attachments, I even build a deck with only ally Gandalf and no Items or Mounts a while ago (https://ringsdb.com/decklist/view/7955/unsurprising-dunland-trap-1.0), but it wasn’t to successful.
The really problem is that you cannot build up efficiently a strong board state or a big hand size because of the mechanics of this quest. It would be good to get out cards directly from the deck, even if it’s just temporarily…and so I decided to include Tactics Imrahil.
He is really awesome at stage 2 and 3, and can get us basically every round a chump blocker for Chieftain Turch out of the deck. The Ered Mithrin cycle gave us with the Soldier of Erebor and Greenwood Defender two amazing new allies with the Warrior trait, that can help us blocking even multiple enemies. I haven’t tested them yet, so the timing seems perfect.
To make maximum advantage of the Defender I also include Celeborn in the deck, together with some other Silvan bouncing tricks. The Ringmaker-cycle at first introduced this mechanics and it will be interesting to see how the trait has developed over time.
Leadership Denethor is our third hero, helping to feed Imrahil’s ability and giving a boost in the early game where we have to deal with an enemy and want to explore the active location.
This is my first draft of the deck:
This deck has 24 targets for Imrahil, making sure he doesn’t whiff. The attachments are all titles, records and songs, so they won’t be lost in the trap. The events are more Silvan tricks helping to pull back allies we put into play with Imrahil. Bulwark of the West is great for condition removal with an ally we put into play with Imrahil, and with the Tome of Atanatar we can play those events even if we had to discard them earlier.
In the opening hand I look for extra willpower to clear the Old South Road (Naith Guide, Gimli, Orophin) and Steward of Gondor. The ally you want to keep is a Soldier of Erebor who can defend or attack multiple enemies.
The first 3 games I played where all very close. The first one I won with a single hitpoint remaining on all my heroes, the second one I lost because of location lock from after a Hithaeglir Foothills surged into Hills of Dunland, the third one was again close because of the direct damage. So I decided to include more willpower and healing. The Silvan bouncing wasn’t really working because I often had to discard the allies right after I returned them to hand. So I cut Legolas, Boromir (the deck has enough allies for Imrahil and they are basically useless if you draw them), 3 Elf Guide and The Elven King. I added 3 Dunedain Remedies (healing that isn’t discarded) and Faramir, Rosie Cotton and Celebrian’s stone for Willpower.
During the second round of testing I again won 2 of my games and lost for the first time at stage 3 after I had to deal with a Dunland Chieftain. I thought about ending the series, but then some cards came to my mind that could really help me at stage 3. One was Blood of Numenor that can allow Denethor to defend against Turch multiple times, Steward will give him enough resources. The other one was the Andrath Guardsman, who can cancel an attack and then serve as a chump blocker, but can also quest at stage 1. I cut even more Silvan tricks and removed the questers I just added and won all 3 of my attempts. This is the final decklist, I will name it Old Lords and New Tricks.
The Dunland Trap is a difficult, but in my opinion very enjoyable quest. The nature of stage 2 makes that the game isn’t over until it’s over (unlike other scenarios). To beat it consistently you need to have answers for this stage. Also, for harder quests, you sometimes have to make more radical changes, I had to cut basically all Silvan tricks at the end to be successful.