The Fate of Numenor is my favourite quest from the Grey Havens Deluxe Box so naturally now that I have the Nightmare version and have taken it on I am writing a review of this fantastic new Nightmare Quest. The original version is somewhat of a cakewalk yet is a quest I definitely have a soft spot for due to its interesting location mechanics and fantastic art and setting; a cursed ancient Numenorian Island!
Now easy as it may be the quest can be a little tough at times if you get overwhelmed by the nasty undead that appear but this tends to occur later in the game giving you time to prepare yourself. After briefly reviewing the new Nightmare cards recently I doubt this will be the case in the Nightmare version! Not only are there some new Uncharted locations and treacheries with much nastier effects than those in the normal quest there is also the new pseudo boss enemy Guardian of the Golden King. He may not have the most fearsome stats but as I quickly learned he can stick around far longer than you want him to! The Nightmare Setup card also states that progress can no longer be placed on Uncharted locations in the staging area and there is also a new mechanic for Shrine of Morgoth that essentially stops you from actually travelling there even if you manage to if you don’t have enough uncharted locations in the victory display yet.
So after just two games, both of which were a blast, I have discovered that the Nightmare version of this quest ramps the difficult up by much more than just a touch! The new version of this quest can make you threat out with ease if you aren’t prepared and can deal a ton of direct damage across the board usually at the worst possible moment. Admittedly my decks powered through the second attempt and although it was still a tense game I kept very confident more or less throughout.
For my first attempt I had a great initial start but a few turns in things quickly began to go south and there was more threat in the staging area than I thought there would be to begin with. Both decks took a few threat bumps thanks to this and then a few copies of Throngs of Unfaithful began to appear and I simply could not shake them as they kept coming back thanks to their nasty forced effect. heroes began to get close to lethal amounts of damage and I became somewhat overwhelmed with enemies The location effects and treacheries hit damn hard in this nighmare quest, at one point during this first game I had a copy of Calphon’s Folly flip a copy of Desecrated Grounds dealing damage across the board to most characters as this triggered during staging during a big quest push. I managed to turn things around somewhat with some nice draws and plays, namely by getting healing under control and bringing combat back under my control during an especially combat phase. I managed to get UC on Gimli at a critical moment and had Elrond set up with Burning Brand and Elven Mail (as well as LoV, UC and Vilya!) and then employed a Sneak Attack + Greenwood Archer combo allowing me to ready a well-equipped Legolas (dagger and rivendell blade) to allow my forces to destroy both a Servant of the Deceiver and Guardian of the Golden King (after two rounds of not being able to deal damage to it due to a 0 cost card being on the bottom of my library until another encounter card changed this!) as well as two copies of Throngs of Unfaithful in the same phase, getting rid of one once and for all. Threat had skyrocketed and I found both decks at 42 and 44 threat at the end of that same turn. I attempted to use a well-timed copy of Gather Information (played via Vilya) to fish out Gandalf and Galadrims Greeting to lower both decks threat back to a somewhat manageable level but before I could complete the side quest a copy of Corrupted Flora devastated my final questing phase and made both decks take a 7 or so threat bump after removing almost every character from the quest. This made the combat deck threat out so I immediately conceded.. Although I only managed to get 10 progress on Stage 1B had I kept threat at a reasonable level thanks to my strong start and the fact I was able to finally clear the board of enemies and somewhat lower threat in staging I may have gotten a lot further or even won. Corrupted Flora is one awful treachery that can really mess your questing phase up badly especially when you rely on an army of questers like I do..
My second attempt, although successful, was one hell of a long and grueling game! Until I was few rounds from the end of the quest things remained tense and I had to keep on top of everything (threat, combat, cancelling key treacheries and putting out as much willpower as possible during questing) in order to come out on top. I had a much stronger start this time around and within a few turns I had Vilya up and running and several strong allies and attachments in play. I cancelled a crazy amount of treacheries throughout the game after eventually drawing and using all three copies of Test of Will (and recurring one with Dwarven Tomb) and also cancelling two treacheries with both copies of Halfling Bounder! I also managed to clear all three player side quests and Keep Watch swung things in my favour in a big way and made defending so much safer and easier to manage. The questing deck actually ran out of cards near the end (with a few allies being returned to the deck on the final round via Curse of the Downfallen). and the Combat deck had only 6 or so cards left. It was easily one of the longest games I have played in a long while and both decks performed at more or less maximum efficiency as I was able to utilize more or less every card in both decks. The combat deck was especially magnificent during this game and I drew and used copies of Gandalf, Sneak Attack, Proud Hunters, Unlikely Friendship and Foe Hammer at the perfect moments to keep a continous flow of both card draw and resource boosts. The only card that could have appeared a little earlier and had more impact was Steward of Gondor which didn’t appear until midgame. Due to the fact that both decks almost ran out (or did run out only to have cards put back in the deck last round!) during this game I am now considering adding at least 1 or 2 more ally cards to each deck and removing a few events or attachments in order to do so. This is because I feel as though both decks could have used another powerful or useful ally or two towards the later end of the game and this could boost the deck’s power against harder quests than this. The more or less final state both decks can get to power wise (sans several weaker allies that fell from direct damage) just seemed a little bit underwhelming or at least not as powerful as I had expected. The new ally versions of Elrohir and Elladan being added to the questing deck once I get my hands on them will certainly help in this regard. Without a doubt the two encounter cards that caused me the most trouble and were avoided or cancelled whenever it was possible were the new treachery Corrupted Flora, which completely shuts down my questing power, and the new location Desecrated Grounds, which deals damage across the board to all exhausted characters which can really put the heat on. Forsaken City and Calphon’s Folly (which can reveal and activate Desecrated Grounds..) came in a close tied third for most troublesome encounter cards.
Here is a picture of my final board state:
Now for my brief breakdown of each Nightmare Card in this quest and my experiences with them during my two games:
I want to talk about the back side of the Nightmare Setup card quickly to begin with. Unlike the vast majority of Nightmare Quests this one does not remove entire sets of several encounter cards but rather removes single copies of several cards whilst also replacing every location in the quest with all new ones. Admittedly most locations are the same as their non-nightmare counterparts and this is done mainly so that the Uncharted deck is not a mixture of nightmare and non-nightmare cards but this is still very different from the usual Nightmare setup. Only Steep Plateau, Forbidden Coast and Aimless Wandering are removed frmo the quest entirely and all three of these cards have effects that can actually help rather than hinder you. The Nightmare version of this quest simply has no interest providing you with card draw or allowing you to peek at Uncharted locations via Steep Plateau or Aimless Wandering. Guardian of the Golden King is a troublesome foe indeed. On more than one occasion I was utterly unable to damage a copy of this enemy for several turns until an encounter effect discarded the bottom card of my deck and replaced it with something that has a higher cost. He may not have any other effects but that alone can completely stump you and decks that run a ton of lower cost cards will find it even more difficult to deal with this foe. Gandalf himself being on the bottom of my deck was my saviour on one particular occasion allowing all attackers to remain attacking dispatching a Guardian in one hit. At one point during the second game I had two copies of this foe engaged and it took several turns to get rid of both.
Now Shrine to Morgoth is the same as it is in the regular version of this quest however I am including it so that I can share an interesting aspect and potential rules dilemma for this Nightmare Quest. During Stage 2B if you travel to Shrine to Morgoth before you have more than 3 double-sided locations in the victory display you must flip it back to its Lost Island side and return it to the staging area choosing another location to travel to instead. Now because you must flip the location BACK to its Lost Island side does this not mean that you already flipped it while active and need to trigger the Forced effect on the Shrine side before you return it to staging and travel to another location? I decided that it did in fact mean this and put an undead enemy into play engaged with each deck and exhausted each ally in play with printed cost 2 or less on the single occasion that I travelled to Shrine of Morgoth but was then forced to travel elsewhere. This upped the difficulty as I then had to trigger a second location’s forced effect in the same travel phase and had to take on a horde of boosted enemies that had appeared out of nowhere. Luckily this occurred during one of the last few turns and I was able to defend against and decimate the foes with relative ease. I could easily imagine a worst case scenario play through of this Nightmare quest where you are forced to activate the forced effect on Shrine of Morgoth without actually getting to travel there several times while also triggering other locations such as Drowned Graves or Temple Ruins at the same time bringing about an army of Undead in the process that overwhelm and defeat you. Essentially the new rules surrounding the Shrine can be far more punishing than they first appear and could easily be the final nail that stops even the most worthy adventurers from overcoming this quest.
Desecrated Grounds is easily the nastiest location in this quest in my opinion. Not only does it boost undead enemies but it also deals damage to all exhausted characters when it is flipped over while active. This location took out multiple allies during both games I played. It also boosted enemies to the point that they were able to get through my defense and deal damage most times it appeared. Every time that I travelled to an Uncharted location I prayed that I would not reveal Desecrated Grounds upon flipping it.
Forsaken City is another awful location that also boosts undead. It boosts them quite a bit however not only giving them immunity to player card effects but also allowing any engaged undead enemies to make an immediate attack when it is flipped over. Forsaken City may not have the ability to deal damage across the board but it can make combat a nightmare. On one occasion this location shut down my ability to deal with foes almost entirely as Tactigorn’s -1 defense ability no longer had any effect and neither did the two copies of Rivendell Blade I had out. This was worrying as I had several engaged enemies including a Guardian of the Golden King and I was consequently only able to take out one or two foes instead of the vast majority. Although I always preferred to see this location appear over Desecrated Grounds had it appeared while I was engaged with both copies of Guardian of the Golden King alongside other enemies (a Servant of the Deceiver and Throngs of Unfaithful I believe?) during my second game it may have cost me the game. Any ability that gives enemies additional attacks should never be taken lightly as there is always a point where you simply cannot defend another attack and risk the loss of a hero. This location definitely has the ability to seal your fate and lead you down the path of a loss just as much as Desecrated Grounds does.
Ahhh Overgrown Steps. The replacement for Steep Plateau and a location that seems somewhat harmless at first but has much more of a bite than I thought it would. With two copies of this location in play (which occured during both games early on) all Uncharted Locations have +2 threat and they can always receive further boosts from the treachery Mysterious Fog (which also occurred at one point..). Now this may not seem that bad because you can always just travel to Overgrown Steps to get rid of this ability however I found out the hard way that this Nightmare quest can throw a lot of threat your way very quickly so an extra 2 threat from the travel effect can be worse than you may think. As well as this the mere 1 progress required to explore this location means that during Stage 1 clearing this location is only going to place 1 progress on Stage 1B…
Yeah… this location is a pain in the ass regardless of what you decide to do. Once I had built up a ton of willpower in the second game I decided to just ignore these locations and let them boost Uncharted locations all they wanted.
Corrupted Flora is a truly Nightmarish treachery that just decimates your total willpower with ease by removing all but a few characters from questing (also damaging those that remain committed by 1). That was the effect it had on my decks at least, considering the average cost of most cards in either deck is around 2. Corrupted Flora was honestly my arch nemesis during this quest and was the more or less sole cause of my loss during the first game. It appeared multiple times that first game bumping each decks threat by several points each time (as the result of questing very unsuccessfully..) and causing one deck to threat out the final time it appeared which led to me conceding considering I had not even reached Stage 2. During the second attempt I was a lot luckier and also planned accordingly and was consequently able to either cancel or avoid every copy I encountered except one. Now I was actually able to somewhat get around this Treachery and still quest successfully on the final occasion it appeared during the second game. The questing deck was able to keep 2 characters committed and the combat deck was able to keep 1 committed. Now because Galadriel was boosting Elrond’s willpower by 5 he was at 9 just on his own (Faramir boosting both of them). Adding this to Arwen at 4 willpower and Aragorn at 3 (StwB) meant that I was still questing for 16 with just the three characters who remained committed to the quest!! As this was on one of the final rounds there was only 10 or so threat in the staging area after the staging step and I was still able to clear the active location and make progress. Considering every time I revealed this treachery and was unable to cancel it both decks took a nasty threat bump from questing unsuccessfully I was pretty damn impressed with myself that I was finally able to overcome it so well the last time it appeared. If you aren’t bringing decks to this Nightmare quest that either generate a ton of willpower on singular characters or that have a higher average card cost than 2 you will be in the same boat as me and this treachery will be more or less must cancel.
Calphon’s Folly is not always that bad. At least it reveals what an Uncharted location is hiding and while it does trigger any forced effects on that location this at least means you won’t have to trigger that effect a second time when travelling there. Most of the Uncharted locations have a higher threat than 2 when flipped to their other side so Calphon’s Folly can actually add several points of threat to staging while also triggering a forced effect on a location. Only Flooded Ruins and Cursed Temple can become the active location when flipped due by this treachery as all the other locations have forced effects. The worst locations to flip over with Calphon’s Folly are easily Desecrated Grounds and Forsaken City considering they can do a ton of damage across the board or can provide enemies with additional attacks. That being said Lush Jungle also has the potential to do some serious harm when flipped by this effect as it cannot return to staging while already there so all characters are guaranteed to get -1 attack and lose ranged. The shadow effect on Calphon’s Folly is no joke either and it can easily give an attacking enemy up to 5 or 6 attack if one of the higher threat locations such as Forsaken City are active. I just want to add as a final note that I absolutely love the theme of this card; our guide Calphon has only ever seen this Island in his dreams and is leading us on that knowledge alone so he is bound therefore to make some mistakes. Little does he realise that his simple mistakes may lead to disaster!
I had an absolute blast playing this Nightmare quest! I was actually quite surprised to lose the first game considering my decks have been doing so well lately. It was actually a somewhat welcome change to the many easy victories I have achieved of late and forced me to get more strategic and clever with my second attempt. The Nightmare version of this quest is very different from the original and is definitely much more challenging and interesting. One of the best aspects is the simple fact that you cannot travel to Shrine of Morgoth until you have at least 4 other Uncharted locations in the victory display. This stops you from accidentally discovering the Shrine immediately upon reaching Stage 3, now there is no fluke discovery and you must slog your way through four other locations before you are even allowed to reach the Shrine. The new sources of direct damage (Desecrated Grounds and Corrupted Flora) add a new element to the quest as before there was only Curse of the Downfallen capable of dealing direct damage and only to non-unique allies with printed cost 2 or less. Now direct damage effects occur fairly often and they are far less specific than Curse of the Downfallen and can damage any questing or exhausted character in play. Threat and staging area management were easily the two most important aspects of this quest and my main focus throughout. Yes combat and enemies have received quite a boost as well but threat was almost always my main concern. There may not be that many cards that actuallyfeature the Doomed keyword but Corrupted Flora alone can force you to take huge threat bumps when it appears and because the quest is quite long (Stage 1B takes quite a while to clear and then Stage 2 takes almost as long now that you have to clear 4 Uncharted locations before being able to reach the Shrine) you can easily find yourself at a very high threat level indeed while you are still miles away from achieving victory. Bring plenty of threat reduction or you could find yourself threating out much faster than you thought. Cancellation is also pretty important if you don’t have another way to deal with Corrupted Flora or other treacheries that can hit hard under the right circumstances (Curse of the Downfallen or Lingering Malevolence for example).
I definitely recommend buying this Nightmare Quest if you enjoy Nightmare Mode as it vastly improves the original quest. The difficulty is raised quite a bit providing a fun and challenging quest that I will definitely return to in the near future. This nightmare quest does however come in a pack of three that includes the Nightmare versions of Voyage Across Belagaer and Raid on the Grey Havens so if you have no interest in obtaining them as well it may not be the Nightmare pack for you… this is somewhat unfortunate considering how great this Nightmare quest is.
As for a rough difficulty rating for this Nightmare quest I would have to say it is around the 6.5/7 mark. To be completely honest I was going to give this quest a 7.5 but I went back and reflected on previous difficulty ratings I provided for Nightmare reviews in the past (non-Saga ones that is as rating the difficulty of Saga quests is far too unreliable and biased) and I gave Nightmare Intruders in Chetwood a rating of 7.5. That Nightmare quest is certainly tougher and more swingy than this one is so I am sticking with a rough score of 6.5/7 and feel like I should have rated Nightmare Intruders in Chetwood an 8. For reference the player voted difficulty of the regular version of this quest on the Quest Companion is 4.2/10 (http://lotr-lcg-quest-companion.com/the-grey-havens-quest-the-fate-of-numenor.html)
As always I hope you enjoyed the review and perhaps it will even help some of you when deciding what Nightmare packs to pick up. If there is a specific Nightmare quest you would like to see reviewed next let me know!