I received my copy of Hunt for the Dreadnaught last week, and having played the quest a few times now, I have decided to bring back the First Impressions series one last time before we enter the hiatus. This quest is rather unique, plus the pack came with an additional contract, so I want to spend a little time talking about the contents of the pack. This article will be a little shorter than the usual First Impressions articles, as there aren’t that many player cards in the pack compared to adventure packs. I hope that this will hype people up to play the scenario over the coming christmas holidays and maybe set up some more Epic Multiplayer games!
This scenario pack comes with a contract that can be used in any other scenario as well. Looks like the designers had more contract ideas than they had expansions left!
While we have had a contract that made Secrecy decks more viable, Valour has not had the same attention. Valour did get some more cards in the Vengeance of Mordor cycle, especially with some more Gondor-synergy, but no dedicated contract. You could make an argument for Bond of Friendship being the Valour-contract, but that doesn’t really benefit you from being at high threat.
So we get Perilous Voyage, a double-sided contract with the deckbuilding challenge of making a deck that is twice the size of what you usually aim for. Usually, you try and build a deck of 50 cards, but with the A-side of the contract, your deck must include at least 100 cards. You can go over this 100 card limit, but at the cost of consistency. The 100 card minimum means you will have an easier time including cards in your deck without having to worry about cutting cards by the end. This also means that certain archetypes will have a lot more fuel now that the deck has increased in size. Dwarven mining decks now have a lot more of the deck to get through, though their chances of hitting a Hidden Cache or Ered Luin Miner are reduced. Erestor decks now also can last a lot longer, without having to rely on Will of the West by turn 5 or something.
The 100 card minimum does mean that your deck will be less consistent. Without proper card draw, you will probably never see the bottom 30 cards before the quest is over. And if you happen to have some important attachments in your deck and they happen to be near the bottom, you are out of luck. Cards like Mirror of Galadriel, Gather Information, Heed the Dream, and others that let you scry deep into your deck will be important to include so that you can find the cards you need quickly.
There is also the practical issue of a 100 card deck. The deck will be a lot thicker (especially when sleeved) and will be more difficult to shuffle. In online formats, this is less of an issue, but for physical cards, you have to make sure you have a deckbox big enough to hold 100 sleeved cards plus heroes, contract, and extras. Shuffling such a large deck will also become a pain, so try to avoid certain heroes like Tactics Imrahil and Lothiriel with this contract, as you will otherwise be shuffling the deck every turn.
But the 100 card minimum for your deck is not the only restriction for this contract. Since this is a Valour-focused contract, you do not get to reduce your threat by any amount through player card effects. This means that you can still lower it through quest and encounter card effects (Trouble in Tharbad stage 1 for example) but not through any cards or effects that you can play directly. This is a lot like with hero Saruman, but instead of the threat reduction being brought to 1 with Saruman, this contract lowers your threat by 0 for any effect. Now, this threat reduction does take away a lot of your safety nets, and will probably mean that you don’t want to bring Doomed cards or things like Pillars of the Kings (it’s threat reduction is ignored with the contract, though you can still put your threat up to 40 if you want). It also means that you have a set number of rounds that you can survive until you hit your threat elimination level. However, hitting that threat elimination level is good, as that is the trigger where you get to flip this card over to it’s B-side.
Before we talk about the B-side though, there is an extra action on this card that lets you exhaust the contract and raise your threat by 1 to look at the top 2 cards of your deck. You may draw one of those cards, and then put the other on the bottom of the deck. This makes it easier for you to draw through your deck without having to rely on card draw effects, and the extra threat can put you in Valour range faster (or flip the contract faster). Putting the card you don’t want on the bottom will mean you don’t really want to start shuffling your deck, as you will start to only get “unnecessary” cards at the bottom as you trigger this effect over and over. Those cards will have a chance of popping up again if you start shuffling the deck. If you happen to draw those cards later, I would advise a Dunedain Pipe to send them back to the bottom and replace them with a new card.
Once you have hit your threat elimination level, you flip over the contract before you would be defeated. The B-side has a Forced effect that triggers immediately afterwards. It lowers your threat by 10, putting regular decks (not running the One Ring and having an elimination level of 50) at 40 threat, which is still within the Valour range. This allows you to spend 10 more rounds in that mode, before you are defeated. To sweeten the deal, the contract allows you to search your deck for any card and either add it to your hand, or play it immediately, reducing it’s cost by 3. This can get you your important attachment, a solid ally, or an important event for very cheap. You shuffle your deck afterwards.
At this B-side, you lose your ability to draw cards by raising your threat, so you will need some different cards to make sure you see all of your deck before the end of the game. Another important change from the A-side is that your threat can now no longer be reduced by non-Contract player card effect. This does not remove your ability to lower it from encounter card effects, and is just a way to allow the contract to reduce your threat by 10 when flipping it.
Once you are at side B of the contract, your heroes no longer exhaust to commit to the quest, giving you plenty of action advantage for the combat phase or to trigger effects like Beravor more consistently while still getting more willpower on the table. This is a nice benefit, though I am not sure if it outweighs being eliminated in 10 turns at best. Remember that the encounter deck can still raise your threat, so after you flip the contract, it will really become a race to complete the quest before you are eliminated. 10 turns is usually enough, but Doomed effects from the encounter deck can cut that down to 3-4 turns pretty quickly. So this contract is pretty high risk, but some people enjoy that.
I have not yet played with this contract, but have seen it being used during a game of Dreadnaught. I would like to make a deck with the contract at some point, which will probably be a Gondor-swarm deck with some Dunedain support. I am looking forward to seeing how other people take on this contract, and if there are any deviations from a full Valour take on this contract. 100 cards in a deck will be great for decks that want to include a ton of cards, and I might even consider a Dale deck with this contract, just to be able to add more attachments to the deck.
When this pack was announced back in September, it was quickly confirmed that this would have been the scenario for GenCon 2020. However, when it was announced, it was also mentioned that this is not a Print on Demand scenario but instead a separate entity: A scenario pack. Whatever the differences may be, the pack is the same size as the packs containing the custom scenario kits (roughly 2 player cards side-by-side). The pack contains fewer cards than the custom scenario kit, but makes up for this by including an oversized card for the Dreadnaught enemy. This enemy is two-sided, and twice the size of a regular encounter card. It is also the same size as the Blob from Arkham Horror, or Ant-man from Marvel Champions. Such a large card does come with some issues when it comes to sleeving and storing the card, for which I have not yet found a solution.
The encounter set itself contains 10 ship objectives, 3 separate difficulty modes, a Corsair deck, 6 unique Corsair enemies, and about a regular sized encounter deck compared to previous POD quests. The 3 different difficulty modes (Easy, Standard, and Hard) offer some replayability and customization not really seen before with these stand-alone quests. They have a different setup, and a different set of rules you need to take into account. All is written on the rule cards, so it shouldn’t be too difficult to get the hang of.
As for the difficulty modes, I have won solo against an Easy version of the quest, and a 13-player game against Standard mode. Hard mode takes away your cannon (10 damage to any 1 non-unique enemy, which is quite powerful) and swaps it out for an extra rule to raise your threat when readying characters and healing damage. This seems pretty hard, and I have not yet tried it.
I mentioned I have played a 13-player game, that is because this quest is again one that can be played in Epic Multiplayer mode. But where previous quests were restricted to 12 players, Hunt for the Dreadnaught will scale with an endless number of players. The quest points and hit points on some cards will scale with how many players participate in the event, meaning that you are all working towards the same goal, but at your own table. This was a lot of fun to do, and requires some coordination between groups, but makes me wish I could have played it at a convention when it came out.
The quest itself has players control one of six unique ships, all of which have amazing abilities that are worth to build your deck around. This includes buffs for your heroes, a better mulligan, heroes borrowing traits from others, and many other effects. Your ships will also need to survive the quest, and work a lot like the ships you have seen during the Dream-chaser cycle. These ships can also be upgraded by a location in the encounter deck, which will boost their stats, and do some more amazing things for the players. The 6 different ships offer a lot of replayability with different strategies that I really like.
I won’t spoil too much about the quest, but it is quite a task to bring down the Dreadnaught. The Corsair deck and the Boarding keyword makes a return, along with some nasty encounter cards you might have seen during the Dream-chaser cycle. The encounter deck is also surprisingly generous, as some encounter cards will also deal damage to enemy ships, and players can go to a treasure island to find more resources.
The quest is a ton of fun, and I will recommend it to everyone. It is not too difficult on standard mode, and even in solo you can have a good time. There is a lot of variety, and the quest is very thematic. The fact that you also get a contract with this pack makes it a solid pick for newer players as well. I have done 2 playthroughs of the quest so far. My solo run can be seen in the picture below, and if you are interested in seeing the quest in a 13-player multiplayer run, see this video on the new Vision of the Palantir Youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zCm7Ss-7AQQ