After a “short” break (I planned to have this article ready on Halloween 2020), we advance in our Angmar Awakened nightmare series to another great quest. The Treachery of Rhudaur was already fun with multiple players, but it always used to be a little less fun while playing only one deck. Since it came out, many high-willpower cards like Círdan have been released, thus making it almost trivial for some solo decks, too.
This is where nightmare mode comes into play, and even though the deck doesn’t add a lot, it does a great job at enhancing what is already there, especially making the choice of which starting side-quest to go for first harder.
The Treachery of Rhudaur Nightmare
- Found in: The Treachery of Rhudaur nightmare deck (you also need the original AP and the Lost Realm deluxe expansion)
- Difficulty (feeling of the author): 7 (the original quest had a community rating of 5.9)
- New quest focus: punishing players for not being able to complete the original three side-quests
- Increased quest focus: Thaurdir (making him more dangerous in general), swarming undead
- Play if: You want to have a generally good time; You like a challenging but doable quest with some Undead and discovery; you like dark secrets
- What to watch out for: countless (surprise) attacks by Thaurdir, threat raise, early location lock even in solo, swarms of (literally) unkillable Undead
- Can I play side-quests here?: No, not really. You are going to be punished for not being able to defeat the initial encounter side-quests and stage 2 wants to be completed as quickly as possible.
- Can I run Guarded (X) cards here?: Again, not really. Additional locations are just going to eat up precious progress, while enemies will just swarm you even more (and if a card gets guarded by an Undead Thrall, you know you have a problem)
- Decrepit Remains (easy location)
- Eerie Halls (replaced by Charred Cellar, also strange art)
- Dark Covenant (often kind of whiffed, two copies remain)
- Ruins of Arnor (weak location, one remains to potentially dish out some threat)
- Tragic Discovery (led to too much threat raise, didn’t add any threat to the staging area)
- Cursed Dead (Thematic homerun, look at Dead Lord in my The Dread Realm NM analysis)
New Nightmare Rules
The new nightmare setup card boils down to one new mechanic. It instructs you to set aside the new “Sift through the Debris,” “Decipher Ancient Texts,” and “Quiet the Spirits” encounter sets aside during setup. If you think these names sound familiar, that is because these sets have the same names as the three TToR side-quests you are going to be trying to complete.
That is made even more important in nightmare mode because in the second part of the nightmare card, you also shuffle said mini-encounter sets (and the encounter discard pile) into the encounter deck when you advance to stage 2B. The catch is that you only use the encounter sets here whose respective side-quests you weren’t able to finish. That places a lot more focus on the three side-quests, as these mini-encounter sets feature very nasty cards that will definitely impede your progress if you reveal them.
New Nightmare Encounter Cards
The ten new encounter cards that will always be in the encounter set don’t actually follow a specific “pattern” in what they add to the quest, but they do certainly put a bit more focus on the Undead enemies and are all certainly not a relief to reveal (except for one that can be pretty harmless). I’ll look into the cards from the mini-encounter sets a little further down together with their respective side-quests.
Stat-wise, Thaurdir’s Hunter seems to be on the low side, at only two in attack and threat and a combined wound+defense threshold of seven. The real danger it poses lies in the Forced ability it has, which triggers whenever it attacks, either removing a time counter from the current main quest or treating the attack as undefended. Neither of these options sounds great (especially when considering shadow effects), but you will probably find yourself taking undefended attacks, as you will need your time on stage 1 and flat-out can’t remove time counters from stage 2B.
The shadow effect isn’t much better, but it can be circumvented by just not leaving attacks undefended (except against another copy of Thaurdir’s Hunter).
Sometimes it’s just a teeny tiny keyword that makes an enemy unique. In this case, Undead Thrall boasts pretty low stats and Surge, which is not great but also not too bad for a nightmare deck. The unique part comes in its Indestructible keyword. Yes, this enemy cannot be killed! You’ll have to endure its attacks until the game ends, and if you can’t cancel its shadow effect, you’ll have to deal with it, too! That all is definitely not good for you and does remind of Brown Water Rats a bit, which cannot be defeated in the traditional sense, too.
There is a small spark of light, though, as Revealed in Wrath does allow you to remove its textbox, making it possible to kill the Undead Thrall and be rid of it for some time. Effects that directly discard enemies can be useful, too, but those are usually quite costly. Another costly way to nullify this enemy is to trap it in a Forest Snare. Outmatched is also a solution, though the Thrall will continue to make attacks with that trap attached.
Making the inevitable swarming of Undead even worse, Forgotten Courtyard gets worse the more of them get revealed. Especially if you let one of these sit in the staging area during the transition to stage 2, you will have a pretty sudden jump in threat. Because the Undead enemies really amass in this quest, this is a high-priority location to travel to, although Thrór’s Key will make it pretty much a “free” encounter card. Not much else to say here.
Another simple but threatening location, this has a whopping threat of five. Traveling here is going to be mandatory to continue questing without having to fear threat raise. That is going to be a problem in itself, though, because Charred Cellar has a nasty effect while it is active, which deals damage to a character whenever a player gets their threat raised by an encounter card. Even though two damage usually isn’t much, Curse of the Years and continuous attacks by Thaurdir might squish everyone down enough that at some point, some characters might have to die by direct damage. If you get lucky, you might still have a good shot at not having problems with Charred Cellar.
As the last of the “normal” new encounter cards, there is this treachery. When it is revealed, the questing character with the highest willpower is removed from the quest (not readied), and the player controlling that character has to raise their threat by that character’s willpower. This is not a too bad effect for you, as it will most times just remove maybe three willpower and raise your threat by a bit, but it doesn’t do any real harm to your board state, and Windfola will make it incredibly harmless. It doesn’t even have the Sorcery trait, so there is no attack from Thaurdir either.
The only reason you might be scared of this card would be its shadow effect, which heals all damage from all undead enemies in play if the attack destroys a character. That is probably not going to be a big problem on stage one, but it might heal a bit of damage from Thaurdir on stage two if you are forced to chump-block.
Changes about the quest
Stage 1 hasn’t changed all that much. It is mostly still about trying to clear the board state for stage two and defeating the three side-quests. Choosing the order in which you want to clear them might be a bit harder than in normal mode, so I wrote a bit about each of them (and the mini-encounter sets).
Quiet the Spirits
Just as in the normal version of the quest, Quiet the Spirits still mainly works around combat, with the side-quest being easier to complete by defeating enemies and the reward being even more attack strength in the form of Daechanar’s Brand.
Now, if you fail to beat it, you are going to be punished by shuffling three copies of the new Apostate of Angmar into the encounter deck. Not only does it have a nasty five threat, but while it is engaged with a player, that player cannot attack Thaurdir. This is bad in solo, as you need to “defeat” Thaurdir to win the game (and the Apostate is incredibly hard to kill), but it becomes pretty irrelevant in multiplayer if a combat-heavy deck engages Thaurdir and a weaker one takes the Apostate. It doesn’t have high attack strength anyway, so that it won’t be a big threat in itself. In solo, this is definitely a side-quest you should aim to defeat, but in multiplayer, the others might be more troublesome. If you do accidentally engage the Apostate, Fierce Defense will do wonders.
Sift Through the Debris
Sift Through the Debris always used to be the one of the ToR side-quests that was the most work to defeat and offered the smallest reward, as willpower is arguably the easiest of the three core stats to obtain, and one of them definitely won’t change the way you play a lot. In nightmare mode, there is some additional need to complete it, though, as Secret Antechamber (which is the penalty mini-set of Sift Through the Debris) can shut you down incredibly easily, reducing the amount of progress you might be able to place on stage 2 to a minimum. It is also immune to player cards, so quickly nuking it with The Evening Star won’t work to get rid of it, and its travel cost of raising your threat by three means you may have to think about traveling there twice. The only silver lining here is that additional copies you might reveal won’t do too much to you.
Honestly, if you can, you should probably try to defeat this side-quest during stage 1, just because Secret Antechamber is so awful. On the other hand, a solo deck should have a decent chance not to reveal one of these, so you might want to go for the other two instead.
Decipher Ancient Texts
This is the last of the three core side-quests, and it is probably the most interesting one. Defeating it is not going to be easy, as allies are basically useless while questing against it. Galadriel, Círdan (and Súlien in multiplayer) will help you here, bypassing that restriction. You can also pay up to three resources per round to put a little extra progress on this card. Especially with more players, you might consider slowly chipping away at this side-quest. Its reward is great, as extra defense is quite hard to come by and Amarthiúl will be able to defend against all enemies instead of Thaurdir quite safely using Orders from Angmar.
If you fail to Decipher (the) Ancient Texts in time, three copies of Life Drain will be shuffled into the encounter deck. It not only features some great art, but it is really impressive in gameplay terms, too! When it is revealed, you deal it to Thaurdir as a shadow card. Because it has the Sorcery trait, he makes an immediate attack (and is dealt another shadow card). The shadow effect not only gives Thaurdir plus three attack (boosting him up to at least 9!) but also attaches Life Drain to him if a character is killed by the attack, permanently granting him plus three hit points as well.
Nine attack is incredibly hard to deal with, so unless you have a very dedicated defender, you might have to chump-block. Plus three hit points is quite a bit, but if you have some good combat strength, you should be able to overcome it. Overall, this is probably the weakest of the three mini-sets if you are set up well, but it can easily be a harsh setback if you are caught off-guard. (Condition discard and shadow cancellation will be great if you aren’t planning to defeat Quiet the Spirits.)
Nothing has been fundamentally changed about stage 2, either. You still have to deal with Thaurdir and another Undead enemy per player, trying to bring his hit points down and place progress on the quest as quickly as possible. You should note that a copy of Forgotten Courtyard might grow in threat substantially upon revealing stage 2A. You will have to deal with the additional encounter cards if you haven’t been able to defeat some of the side-quests, which will mess with your progression. Also, the encounter discard pile has to be shuffled back into the deck together with the mini-sets, resetting it and potentially forcing some previously overcome cards upon you.
You should really just try to power-quest through this stage as quickly as possible to minimize the number of times Thaurdir can attack you and to get away from the awful mini-encounter sets.
Once you defeat this stage, you have won the game and are ready to begin a battle against the forces of Carn Dûm… Good luck!
The Encounter Deck
- The encounter deck consists of 37 cards, not counting Thaurdir, Amarthiúl, The Great Hall, the three side-quests, one copy of Ancient Causeway and the mini-encounter sets removed during setup.
- The chance to hit a shadow effect is roughly 56.76%, which is not terribly high. It will change a bit when you shuffle in the mini-sets on stage 2B. Shadow effects can raise the attack strength, raise threat and do many other things. Many effects will get worse if the defending player does not control a Clue objective.
- Average threat revealed is ~1.43. Some treacheries will add a varying amount or remove willpower, though, so it is probably going to be a bit higher. There are some five-threat cards, making it vary even more, and stage 2 and its extra cards will mess with the numbers even more.
- Surge is present on six cards, including two enemies, but four other cards can situationally get the keyword, too.
- No cards initially have the Doomed keyword, but Wight of Rhudaur can gain Doomed 2 and many other cards may raise your threat through other means. Threat can definitely be a problem here!
- Secret Antechamber is immune to player card effects
Tips and Tricks
- Multiplayer will definitely be easier for playing this quest, as you can ramp up willpower on stage 1 better that way and only one player will have to deal with Thaurdir.
- Doomed and Valour decks should stay in your binder here, as several encounter cards will try to increase your threat, too.
- As many enemies only have an attack value of two, Vigilant Dúnadan or any other character with two defense can already be very efficient in defending. A strong defender and/or healing will still be needed for Thaurdir.
- In general, a bit of healing might help you a lot against direct damage and undefended attacks (remember Thaurdir’s Hunter?).
- Fierce Defense will be useful, too, especially against Undead Thralls and Apostates of Angmar.
Sadly, I have not been able to find any playthroughs of this quest. This is probably because nightmare decks in general aren’t used by a good part of the community and this cycle can be counted among the more “elite” ones. If you find any playthroughs or make one, please contact me so I can add it to this article.
This about wraps up the analysis on this Nightmare deck! I had a lot of fun with it, but ultimately its main mechanic doesn’t play out quite as well as one would think. Still, if you want to play an even more interesting version of Treachery of Rhudaur, it is definitely a good one.
I hope I’ll be able to make some more nightmare articles in the future, but as I don’t actually own any more of the Angmar Awakened decks, I will probably turn to another cycle. Have fun with any articles that are going to come!