The Seventh Level: There and Back Again

“Here lies Balin, son of Fundin. Lord of Moria.”

My latest article continues my adventures in the dark, twisting passages of Moria as I search for signs of Balin – although, of course, we all know his unfortunate fate from reading ‘Fellowship of the Ring’

The Encounter deck uses lots of new cards that are different from ‘Into the Pit’, and some quite nasty ones too, but none that need tweaking for Story Mode.

This was an easy preparation as I think my dwarf deck from last time worked well as did Erebor as a thematic Haven, so I retained my Heroes of Dain, Bifur and Dwalin with the starting attachments of Song of Battle on Bifur, Boots of Erebor on Dain so he could soak up some more damage as principal defender and because I realised that with Bifur’s ability, putting another Song of Battle on Dain was a bit redundant. I know I could have put the more beneficial Dunedain Warning on Dain, but I’m keeping with the Dwarf theme. I’m also going to restrict myself to not having any duplicates in my starting attachments from now on. Ever My Heart Rises went on Dwalin as before. My starting Threat was 29 and I also slimmed down the deck a little to 50 cards.

This quest is just a fast run through Moria where you have to quest as much as possible so that the goblins don’t have time to swarm out of the tunnels and overwhelm you. In that way, the quest was very thematic although once you’ve figured that speed is of the utmost importance, it’s fairly easy to beat.

Of course, since I don’t look at the encounter deck before I tackle the quest, I didn’t realise this the first time out and even though my final Threat was really low with Dwalin’s Threat reduction when he kills an Orc (handily almost all enemies in this quest are Orcs), the swarming mechanic of those pesky Goblin Spearmen and Goblin Swordsmen meant that I had a huge swarm of goblins coming at me that just overwhelmed my dwarves. I also made the mistake of not exploring the Goblin Tunnels Location that negates any progress.

The Book of Mazrabul Objective is a great help on the first stage and is a natural card for Dain so that he always stays ready in the Quest phase. Dain rarely attacks so the attack restriction is not a problem. For this quest I also put Narvi’s Belt on Bifur as I realised that it was more efficient with his card ability.

For my second attempt I was very successful and finished the quest in 6 rounds. I went as fast as possible, got quite a few allies out and just went for total questing. I think I was a bit lucky with my encounter deck however as I didn’t encounter anything really nasty such as a CaveTroll.

“They have a Cave-troll”
Eh, Boromir, they have 2!

Third time out, and to make it more of a challenge I added the Moria Stronghold. Unfortunately I didn’t really get going. With a terrible hand of cards and absolutely no allies in sight at all, my 3 Dwarf heroes soon got overwhelmed again by hordes of nasty goblins who stuck me with spears until the dwarves expired by round 6!

Unfortunately, my last attempt, with the Stronghold again, was again unsuccessful for much the same reason – not being quick enough off the bat – even if I did get onto the second quest card this time. I did however have the fun of seeing Erebor Battle Master take down a CaveTroll – before I realised that he had errata…

Favourite card combo: Erebor Record Keeper works so well being able to ready Dain or Dwalin when needed. It’s very thematic imagining this little dwarf sitting in Erebor and recording (and embellishing on them, as his ability makes them even more heroic) all the exploits of his dwarf pals as they adventure through Moria.

Overall, a fun quest that does a good job of recreating the famous scenes around Balin’s tomb from the books and then the frantic fight and flight from the movie – I dare anyone not to say ‘they have a cave troll!’ when one actually appears from the encounter deck! It is a bit hit and miss that depends on the amount of allies you can get out however. Certainly I didn’t use the most efficient deck for this quest as I tried to retain my Dwarf ‘campaign’ heroes and stay with the Dwarf theme. With the amount of 1 Hit point Orc enemies this quest throws at you, having Thalin as a hero would be a real advantage as he kills them as they are revealed. Likewise, Legolas who can add progress tokens each time an Orc enemy is killed would be really useful – especially armed with a Blade of Gondolin… But I’m sticking with theme as always.

But can I hear drums? Perhaps it’s best to get out of here…?

“The Road Goes Ever On…”

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