Time for another Nightmare Review! Today I am reviewing Nightmare Intruders in Chetwood. The original version of this quest is one that I really like and play fairly regularly. Now that being said with my playstyle and decks it is actually not the easiest quest for me. I tend to play in a way where I build my board state slowly but once it truly gets going is near unstoppable and will only be tested late game by the hardest of quests. Early on though, which admittedly is usually the hardest part of the game, I sometimes struggle a little if I don’t have ideal or perfect starting hands. This quest raises threat so quickly and can throw multiple side quests (with nasty lingering effects) into play in the first few turns that by the time I get control I am sometimes at such high threat that I threat out before I can achieve victory. Cards like Outlying Homestead don’t exactly help either!! To be quite frank this quest can be a bit swingy and can sometimes be very hard rather than average difficulty depending on what appears during staging on the first few turns. I know this is true of many quests but it is especially true of this one. When this quest doesn’t just throw several side quests in play super early, raise your threat by a ton and take both decks hands away via Lost in the Wilderness it can actually be a really fun and balanced quest. You need decent combat abilities as even though enemies do not perform engagement checks you have to destroy any copies of Orc War Party that appear and you need good willpower to blast through side quests and the main quest quickly as well. Threat reduction is also a must in this quest. I really enjoy engaging enemies as I wish in this quest as it allows some really cool combat tricks especially with Tactics Aragorn. Similarly I like the single quest stage with a ton of progress points and additional victory conditions (no Orc War Parties in play). Its cleverly deceptive because you think that even at 30 progress points one quest stage is not much to beat. Once you get some truly nasty side quests in play that require clearing ASAP you realize you won’t be beating Stage 1B as fast as you thought! All in all, swingy and random or not I really love this quest so was excited to play the Nightmare version.
Before I report on the games I played lets talk about what the nightmare version of this quest brings to the table. Essentially we get two new side quests and a ton of cards that interact with sidequests and bring them into play faster. Now as I already covered in my Spoilers post for this quest the truly nightmarish part of this is that every single one of these cards makes you search not only the encounter deck and discard pile but also the victory display for a specific side quest when fetching one. This means you can see ANY of the various side quests multiple times throughout a single game and no matter how many times you clear any particular sidequest there is always a chance you will see it again. The two new side quests focus on either raising threat (Protect the Bree-Landers) or buffing copies of Orc War Party in play (Shadow the War Party). Both have an effect that compliments the core mechanics of the main quest stage; raising your threat by additional points every round based on certain criteria and having to destroy any copies of Orc War Party in play before being able to achieve victory. Protect the Bree-Landers adds another effect that raises threat every round and Shadow the War Party makes it much harder to kill War Partys. Overall most of the cards might not too be too nasty but the fact there are two new side quests in a quest that is already very heavy with side quests and that so many of the tamer cards from the original version are removed make this Nightmare quest far more formidable than it seems!
So after five games, of which only the last was a victory, I have discovered that the Nightmare version of this quest is no joke at all and is far less swingy or random. Although I did have a somewhat more lucky game during my victory it was by no means a fluke or extemely easy game where I did not reveal many nightmare cards. I saw plenty of Nightmare cards but managed to avoid many side quests appearing instead. I only saw three side quests all game: Shadow the War Party, Protect the Bree-Landers and Orc Ambush and 2 of them appeared late game so were very easy to clear. It also massively helped that I had god-like starting hands (all 3 copies of Unlikely Friendship were used by the end of Planning as I started with 2 and drew into the third) and both decks operated at full efficiency. Faramir was giving INSANE willpower boosts from about the midpoint onwards and the combat deck got plenty of killer attachments and allies into play.
The first four games however were pretty devastating. During the very first game I had a second Orc War Party and Shadow the War Party appear during staging on round 1… This meant that there was 16 threat in staging first turn (two 3 threat locations which I stupidly chose and both Orc War Parties both now at 5 threat each) and I ate a bunch of threat by questing unsuccessfully. Because I then couldn’t engage or damage the Orc War Parties I had to raise both decks threat by 3 at the end of the first turn. I then revealed Orc Ambush and a 5 threat location the following turn and ate a bunch of threat during questing yet again. A round or two later I threated out and lost. The next two games I did not threat out but was just barely coasting by and was placing a few points of progress a round and both the amount of side quests and total threat in staging were building up every single turn. Both of these games got to a point where I quested unsuccessfully the once and realised I would not come back from that state no matter what happened and things would only get worse so conceded. The fourth game was actually somewhat close and I managed to get roughly half the progress I needed to clear Stage 1B. I then suffered a devastating hero loss thanks to a nasty shadow effect and the following round had a treachery appear (Kill Them!) that led to a further hero loss because of another nasty shadow effect (should have picked the other option, removed all progress and tried to grind it out!). The first few games were a little frustrating especially the first one because I was so helpless and got so hammered but by maybe the third or fourth game I started enjoyed the quest a lot more. My eventual victory was definitely the most satisfying win I have achieved in a while and this was mainly because of the four losses beforehand.
Here is a brief breakdown of each Nightmare Card in this quest and my experiences with them during my five games:
Soldier of Angmar has strong stats but so long as you don’t chump block his extra nasty forced effect is not going to trigger. Probably one of the tamer cards Nightmare cards to be honest. A low 2 threat is great as well. So long as you have combat somewhat under control and can handle a foe with 5 attack and a decent amount of hitpoints this guy is fairly harmless. I saw a few copies during my various games but never let their effect trigger. A deck that does employ chump blocking however would be heavily punished by this card as Orc Ambush is one of the nastier side quests you can see in this quest.
Although the Orc Abductor has slightly lower attack I found it to be a somewhat nastier foe than the Soldier of Angmar as you pretty much have to engage it the round it appears or face Iarion being taken captive. Iarion can be a superstar in this quest and can easily have 3+ willpower when multiple side quests are in play so losing him can often be a severe blow. You also lose if you do not rescue him in time and this can happen easily in the Nightmare version as high threat in staging or encounter effects can stop you from clearing Rescue Iarion when you need to. All of this being said I was able to avoid the effect in all of my games by always engaging them right away but this did mean during one game I had to face more enemies than I wanted to during a particular round which is the main problem I believe this card can pose.
This new side quest is awful and probably one of the worst nightmare cards in this quest. If it appears at a critical moment or during the first round or two it can be devastating. With multiple Orc War Partys are in play it can shut you down pretty fast as it raises threat in staging big time and stops you from engaging or damaging the Orc War Partys until you clear it. If you are unable to clear it quickly and can’t generate a ton of willpower it can easily lead to a loss and this is essentially what happened during my first game. If you see this card late game or when there are no copies of Orc War Party in play and can easily clear it within a single turn it poses little to no threat to you though and this is what occurred during my eventual victory. It can block victory late game even with 30+ progress on the main quest stage by stopping you from destroying War Partys in play. Overall Orc Ambush and Lost in the Wilderness still seem worse to me than this sidequest but it is a very close third after those two.
Protect the Bree-Landers isn’t quite as nasty as Shadow the War Party as all it really does is raise threat and so long as you clear it quickly it doesn’t raise threat by very much at all. It if sees play when you have other more pressing side quests to clear such as Orc Ambush, Lost in the Wilderness, Rescue Iarion or Shadow the War Party it can be pretty nasty and can start to raise threat by quite a bit. The fact it combos with other side quests in a way (especially Orc Rearguard!) makes it a sort of a lose more card. If you are struggling anyway and have multiple side quests you can’t clear this card makes you threat out faster, if you have few/no side quests in play and are doing well this card poses little to no threat to you.
I saw this card during one of the rounds I conceded and it contributed to both decks high threat levels and I also saw it during the game I won and easily cleared it the turn after it appeared.
Greenway Path is in my opinion the lesser evil of the three new locations as its effect only ever triggers if you don’t quickly travel there so it can be fairly easily avoided. The other two locations have triggers that will go off far more often. This location also only has 3 threat and 5 progress points. The side quest it does fetch is a fairly nasty one though so you do want to avoid its effect whenever possible. This card did trigger during one of my losses and added yet another side quest to staging when I could not place enough progress to clear the active location and travel here. In all my other games I managed to avoid the effect though.
Five threat is painful… especially when you aren’t questing with a ton of willpower and are just scraping by. The fact that it fetches a side quest just by traveling there is even worse because even if you get that 5 threat out of staging you are adding Protect the Bree-Landers to staging instead. While this isn’t the worst side quest if you are concerned about this 5 threat location and need to travel here you are probably not doing so great in the questing department to begin with so Protect the Bree-Landers is going to be especially nasty. I managed to just leave this location in staging and avoid its effect either by choice (winning game) or because I could not travel anyway! (during some losses). The second worst Nightmare location in my opinion.
Northern Chetwood is the worst nightmare location as it not only brings a seriously nasty side quest into play (if you can’t tell yet I really hate Lost in the Wilderness especially if it appears early game..) but it can trigger FAR more easily than the other two locations. Unless you can clear its substantial 6 progress in one hit it brings Lost in the Wilderness into play but at the same time it’s four threat is definitely not negligible so you do want to clear it and get it out of staging if possible. It blocks Northern Tracker and while it is the active location stops me from using Legolas’s ability to place progress when killing an enemy. If I wasn’t confident that I would clear this location in one hit during my games I would not travel here. I managed to clear two during the game I won thanks to insane willpower boosts from Faramir.
A Great Host is a fairly nasty treachery but not a must cancel by any means. So long as you have strong heroes with 5 or more hitpoints and healing available (or any expendable allies to sacrifice) you can avoid Orc Rearguard being put in play fairly easily. Returning enemies to staging can be fairly detrimental and can boost threat in staging quite a bit (especially if Orc Ambush is in play! So many of the Nightmare cards are so much worse and combo better with certain side quests in play) but so long as you aren’t engaged with an enemy this effect does nothing. If you do let it put Orc Rearguard in play and it also returns enemies to staging as well it could completely ruin your day as you would add a ton of threat to staging and would only add more when revealing an extra card whilst trying to clear Orc Rearguard. Orc Rearguard is probably one of the worst cards you can see in this quest as it stops you clearing other side quests, the main side quest and even itself! I took the damage every single time.
Kill Them! is the other nightmare treachery and is probably the worst of the two. It adds a copy of Orc War Party to staging then makes you remove ALL progress (yep that’s right!) from the main quest if the player/deck with the highest threat can’t take an attack from each Orc War Party in the staging area. Only one War Party attacking is not so bad but having two 6 attack strength War Partys can be a problem. Removing all progress from the main quest late game when you are about to win can be even worse though! I only saw this card a few times and either cancelled it, only had to remove a few points of progress or during my winning game removed something like 9 progress thanks to its effect but this didn’t matter because the same turn I was able to place 13 or so progress after quest resolution and had victory in sight.
Going to keep this short and sweet as I have already covered most of the bases. Essentially the Nightmare version of this quest kicks things up a notch and reduces how swingy or random this quest can be by a little bit by just making it harder overall and a bit of a slog no matter what but you can still definitely cop an extremely rough or “unfair” start and have little to no chance of recovering if you aren’t using some serious power decks. It took me a fair few attempts to beat it and I needed a great start to earn my eventual win. Only the first attempt seemed ridiculous though and during all the other games I at least stood a chance until things turned sour. All the various effects that bring side quests into play on the new nightmare cards are fairly easy to avoid so long as you are strategic and clever but many can hurt quite badly if you do let them trigger especially if they bring a side quest you have already cleared back into play. All in all I didn’t find this to be the best Nightmare quest ever but it was definitely very fun thanks to the new mechanics and difficulty.
As for a rough difficulty rating (which is even harder than usual for this one as both the original as well as the nightmare version can at times vary in difficulty quite a lot if you get an extremely rough start) for this Nightmare quest I would have to say it is around the 7.5 mark. The player voted difficulty of the regular version of this quest on the Quest Companion is 6/10 (http://lotr-lcg-quest-companion.com/the-lost-realm-quest-intruders-in-chetwood.html).
Hope you enjoyed the review! The Weather Hills will be next!