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Authraw

Solo deck to beat Escape from Dol Guldur

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For the past couple of weeks, I've been trying to build a single solo deck specifically to beat Escape from Dol Guldur. My criteria for the deck were that I wanted it to be capable of winning no matter which hero was taken, and that it should be able to achieve a win ratio greater than 50%. Bonus points if I could come up with a multi-sphere deck that could do it.

 

I thought some of you might enjoy my thoughts on this process.

 

Quest Analysis

This quest hits hard right from the get-go. You'll be dealing with three cards in the staging area at setup, and they could really be anything: enemies, locations, or treacheries. If you get treacheries during setup, it turns out to be a bit of a softball, but most games seem to start out with you having to quest through 5-9 threat on round one. Having heroes with high enough willpower to keep the staging area under control from round one is a must.

 

Most of the enemies in this quest don't hit very hard compared to more modern quests, so you can get away with higher hit point heroes with lower defense. Most of the enemies swing for 2 (some for 3). In a pinch you can take a hit like that undefended, but the shadow effects often punish undefended attacks (and often in a game-ending way) so do it sparingly.

 

The magic number for attack values seems to be 3. One character with attack 3 can kill many of the smaller enemies in one swing. Most of the larger enemies can be killed by two characters with attack 3. The Dungeon Jailor and the boss-type enemies are the exception, they require three or four attack 3 characters to kill in one turn.

 

Allies can be a problem in this quest too. You're only allowed to play a single ally per round, so you'll have to try hard not to lose the ones you build up. To get the most out of your allies you'll probably want to play at least one per turn because you'll need a solid set of stats to keep up with the pace the encounter deck sets, but that's difficult on the two-resource budget you'll have for the first part of the quest. I've had the most success with cheap, efficient allies so I can ensure I can get one out every round.

 

Threat is a huge problem in this quest as well. Just picking up the three objectives required to complete the quest results in a +6 threat gain. One of those objectives results in an additional +2 threat gain per turn. Furthermore, Ungoliant's Spawn's shadow effect can result in a threat gain of 4-8 if you don't cancel it--and you're bound to fail a quest phase or two in the beginning of the game as you struggle to get control over the board state. Worst of all, crossing 40 threat too soon can result in some dire consequences: Hummerhorns pretty much kill a hero when they engage you, and the Nazgul will engage, so you'd better be ready for it by then.

 

The biggest complication I found was that given a set of three heroes, any two of them need to be able to handle all three parts of the game: questing, attacking, and defending. In Dol Guldur, the magic numbers seem to be 3+ willpower, 3+ attack, and 5+ combined defense & HP. Logistically, the easiest way to achieve this is to have two "all around" heroes (such as Treebeard or Gandalf) and any third (hopefully low-threat) hero. This way, no matter which hero you lose, you'll definitely have at least one hero to cover the bases the other one can't.

 

My Solution

After a lot of tweaking and trying out different strategies, this is what I came up with:

 

Total Cards: (50)

Hero: (3)

1x Aragorn (The Watcher in the Water)

1x Glorfindel (Foundations of Stone)

1x Galadriel (Celebrimbor's Secret)

 

Ally: (25)

3x Dunedain Hunter (The Lost Realm)

3x Vassal of the Windlord (The Dead Marshes)

3x Saruman (The Voice of Isengard)

3x Anfalas Herdsman (The Steward's Fear)

2x Quickbeam (The Treason of Saruman)

3x Elrond (The Road Darkens)

2x Silvan Refugee (The Drúadan Forest)

3x Galadriel’s Handmaiden (Celebrimbor's Secret)

3x Ethir Swordsman (The Steward's Fear)

 

Attachment: (10)

3x Nenya (Celebrimbor's Secret)

2x Elf-stone (The Black Riders)

1x Light of Valinor (Foundations of Stone)

2x Unexpected Courage (Core Set)

2x Mirror of Galadriel (Celebrimbor's Secret)

 

Event: (14)

3x Daeron's Runes (Foundations of Stone)

3x Elrond's Counsel (The Watcher in the Water)

3x Stand and Fight (Core Set)

3x Hasty Stroke (Core Set)

2x Power of Orthanc (The Voice of Isengard)

 

Side Quest: (1)

1x Gather Information (The Lost Realm)

 

Glorfindel and Aragorn serve as my "all around" heroes, with Galadriel as my support hero. The vital theme is keeping threat low: two unique Noldor characters means I can always use Elrond's Counsel (no matter who is taken). Aragorn provides an enormous one-time threat reduction, while Galadriel can provide continual threat management, and Glorfindel provides fantastic stats for his starting threat cost (which also improves the threat reduction that Aragorn provides).

 

I was hoping to find a strategy that didn't involve Spirit Glorfindel, but to date I haven't been able to find one. His ability to serve any role for such low threat solves a lot of the problems that this quest throws at you.

 

Some might find the lack of Asfaloth and Wingfoot or the single copy of Light of Valinor strange. I omitted these cards over time because I found that having too many hero-specific cards made the deck too unreliable when that hero wasn't present. By limiting it to Galadriel's attachments (which really make the deck run smoother, even if you have to wait to rescue her) I minimize the number of dead cards. Dead draws can really kill the tempo of this deck, especially in those vital first few turns.

 

Playing the Deck

Mulligan if you don't get Nenya. You might lose Galadriel, but in 66% of games, you won't, and having Nenya will make the start of the game so much smoother. If you lose Aragorn, Nenya will be vital to make sure you can still play your Lore cards.

 

Do your best to drop an ally each turn when possible, even at the expense of most of the attachments and events. You'll note that most of the allies are inexpensive to allow this.

 

You'll also note that there are a few Tactics allies in this deck. The reason is so that you can get some 3-attack allies into play to help deal with enemies in ways the Lore and Spirit allies can't. These Tactics allies will have to be cheated into play using either Elf-Stone or Stand and Fight. Note that both of those allow you to "put into play" an ally, so you can use them in addition to your normally-played ally each round. Don't be afraid to use Stand and Fight to cheat into play a second questing ally in a round when that's what's needed.

 

Make sure you time your transitions from one quest stage to the next. Get all of the needed progress on the quest card, and then grab the needed objective only after the staging step once you're ready to proceed. Only advance when you have enough allies down to make sure you can rush through the second and third quest cards relatively quickly, because the presence of the Nazgul really makes things difficult. Typically I put the Gandalf's Map objective on Galadriel (when possible) or whichever of the other two heroes is least needed. Sometimes I'll grab the Shadow Key objective instead when Galadriel isn't present and just let one of the other two heroes die in a few rounds--the deck runs fine with two heroes, so I've had some luck with this strategy when I only need a few rounds to kill some enemies to gain control of the board.

 

It's of the utmost importance that you stay below 40 threat. The Hummerhorns kill a hero when they engage, so stave that off as long as possible. Furthermore, you can't afford to chump block very often and your heroes can't take a hit from the Nazgul, so you'll need to prevent that from happening. Later in the game, after you've already used Aragorn to reset your threat and you're getting up there again, you might be able to use Galadriel to tread water for a while until you're set up for the end game.

 

For some reason, I always seem to get the Caught in a Web condition card very early in the game (turn 1 or 2). I always attach it to Galadriel when possible. Unexpected Courage can be a good way to deal with it if none of your other condition-removing cards are available.

 

All of the games that I have won with this deck have ended this way: On quest stage 2, I play Saruman. I declare the Nazgul as "not in play" for the round. Then I commit everyone to the quest. After staging, I claim the remaining objectives and quest through the final quest card to win the game.

 

Final Thoughts

I've been able to achieve about a 60% win ratio with this deck, but with each additional playthrough I find myself more skilled at beating the quest. It's definitely hardest when Galadriel is captured--both Nenya and the Mirror of Galadriel really help the deck run smoothly from turn 1 and help deal with the swingy nature of Dol Guldur. Without her, you can still get by but you'll be a little more at the whims of the encounter deck to throw things at you that your draws can handle.

 

I haven't tried using this deck against Nightmare Dol Guldur yet. I'd like to, but I'm going to take a break from this project for a little while before I come back to it.

 

I'd be interested to hear if anyone has other solutions to Dol Guldur solo--especially if they don't use Spirit Glorfindel.

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Daeron's Runes, the Mirror of Galadriel, as well as that location which discards cards from your hand. It turns out not to be too hard to get them there most of the time, probably because the game drags on for a while.

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I did win this quest solo with a Lore mono sphere deck.

Would be great to see the decklist if you have it please :) i imagine monosphere makes it much better to resource manage and play cards with one hero captured, but also hard to cope with the encounter decks contents being limited to the strengths of just one sphere so would be really good to see what you put in there to tackle the challenges.

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I did win this quest solo with a Lore mono sphere deck.

Would be great to see the decklist if you have it please :) i imagine monosphere makes it much better to resource manage and play cards with one hero captured, but also hard to cope with the encounter decks contents being limited to the strengths of just one sphere so would be really good to see what you put in there to tackle the challenges.

 

 

Here it the deck.

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Oops.... nope, it Lore + Spirit! In my memory, it was monosphere Lore... Sorry!

 

I think I tried with a mono-Lore deck before this one. I guess that with some of most recent cards, a powerfull mono-Lore deck could beat Dol Guldur solo.

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It's tough to do it with any single color, since there are so many demands that need to be met and no one sphere covers them all. It might be doable using songs to splash, though.

Maybe Treebeard/Loragorn/Pippin? They probably have the stats needed to win. You would have to be able to generate a lot of willpower from turn 1, though, and that can be tough for Lore.

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For solo play, I think that mono sphere decks are better with Lore or Leadership. You can probably build a nice Gondor mono-leadership deck that could beat Dol Guldur solo. I'd have to try it!

Edited by Lecitadin

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Please do! I don't think I explored mono leadership too much during this investigation. They have the advantage of resource generation and a really strong endgame. I'd be worried about all of the threat gain in this quest causing a premature death, but I'd have to try it.

If you do try it, let us know how it goes!

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Recently I've been trying to build a solo deck that can beat Nightmare Dol Guldur. I haven't really been successful, but I wanted to share my progress. The new deck I've been working with is pretty decent at beating vanilla Dol Guldur.

 

My most successful efforts have been with Dwarves--leadership dwarves, specifically. Here's my decklist:

Total Cards: (50)

Hero: (3)

Thorin Oakenshield (Over Hill and Under Hill)

Balin (On the Doorstep)

Dain Ironfoot (Return to Mirkwood)

 

Ally: (23)

3x Brok Ironfist (Core Set)

1x Kili (Over Hill and Under Hill)

3x Ered Nimrais Prospector (The Morgul Vale)

3x Gandalf (Core Set)

3x Longbeard Elder (Foundations of Stone)

3x Longbeard Orc Slayer (Core Set)

2x Fili (Over Hill and Under Hill)

3x Gimli (The Treason of Saruman)

2x Gloin (On the Doorstep)

 

Attachment: (8)

3x King Under the Mountain (On the Doorstep)

2x Hardy Leadership (Shadow and Flame)

3x Tome of Atanatar (The Blood of Gondor)

 

Event: (18)

3x To Me! O My Kinsfolk! (On the Doorstep)

3x Sneak Attack (Core Set)

3x A Very Good Tale (Over Hill and Under Hill)

3x We Are Not Idle (Shadow and Flame)

3x Hidden Cache (The Morgul Vale)

3x Lure of Moria (Road to Rivendell)

 

Side Quest: (1)

1x Send for Aid (The Treachery of Rhudaur)

 

The idea is to get a bunch of dwarves down really quickly and then to quest hard enough to beat the quest before you bust the threat threshold (which doesn't take long with those objective attachments raising your threat by 2 each just to pick them up!)

 

Mulligan for--get this--Brok Ironfist. I know! I didn't think he was good for anything either, and then I realized that when you bring 3 Dwarf heroes to Dol Guldur, a Dwarf hero always leaves play at the start of the game. That lets you put Brok into play for free. That's a huge boost, especially since you want to be aggressive from turn 1.

 

Sometimes I can Sneak Attack another ally into play turn 1, and then use A Very Good Tale to drop another two Dwarves into play. Playing an ally naturally on turn 2 gets you to the 5 dwarf threshold. Pretty good for only being allowed to play one ally per round. :)

 

Against Nightmare Dol Guldur this deck can put up an admirable fight, but once those horrible Spiders start surging all over the place it's pretty much over--not to mention that there's no way to deal with the threat problem before the game ends. The deck does a pretty decent job against vanilla Dol Guldur, though. I don't think it's quite as consistent as the one in my original post, but it's definitely faster (and so you can get more games in if you lose).

 

The only thing I wish I had were more non-unique Dwarf allies in Leadership (or Neutral). It's pretty frustrating searching for allies and only finding copies of allies you already have in play. I never thought I'd find myself asking for more dwarves, but then again I found a use for Brok Ironfist, so I suppose nothing should surprise me now.

 

 

Has anyone else had any luck with Nightmare Dol Guldur Solo? Maybe even a deck that can beat it, even if not consistently?

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Mulligan for--get this--Brok Ironfist. I know! I didn't think he was good for anything either, and then I realized that when you bring 3 Dwarf heroes to Dol Guldur, a Dwarf hero always leaves play at the start of the game. That lets you put Brok into play for free. That's a huge boost, especially since you want to be aggressive from turn 1.

Strictly speaking the quest card doesn't actually say the prisoner leaves play or is considered to be out of play...

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Mulligan for--get this--Brok Ironfist. I know! I didn't think he was good for anything either, and then I realized that when you bring 3 Dwarf heroes to Dol Guldur, a Dwarf hero always leaves play at the start of the game. That lets you put Brok into play for free. That's a huge boost, especially since you want to be aggressive from turn 1.

Strictly speaking the quest card doesn't actually say the prisoner leaves play or is considered to be out of play...
Hmm... The Nightmare card does, actually. Not sure if that carries over to the vanilla quest though, interesting point.

And if it doesn't apply to the vanilla quest as well, I wonder if there's some way to abuse that to our advantage as well...

Edited by Authraw

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Mulligan for--get this--Brok Ironfist. I know! I didn't think he was good for anything either, and then I realized that when you bring 3 Dwarf heroes to Dol Guldur, a Dwarf hero always leaves play at the start of the game. That lets you put Brok into play for free. That's a huge boost, especially since you want to be aggressive from turn 1.

Strictly speaking the quest card doesn't actually say the prisoner leaves play or is considered to be out of play...
Hmm... The Nightmare card does, actually. Not sure if that carries over to the vanilla quest though, interesting point.

And if it doesn't apply to the vanilla quest as well, I wonder if there's some way to abuse that to our advantage as well...

 

 

It's really clever what you've done with Brok, but I'm taking a look at the Nightmare setup card and don't see where it specifies that the hero "leaves play".

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It's really clever what you've done with Brok, but I'm taking a look at the Nightmare setup card and don't see where it specifies that the hero "leaves play".

You're totally right, I'm not sure where that idea came from. It's funny, because I swear I got the idea to use Brok when I read the Nightmare card. Memory is a strange thing.

In that case, I don't think Brok is a legal play. Sorry Brok! Back into the binder you go.

That greatly reduces the effectiveness of my dwarf deck then. There simply aren't enough Leadership dwarves to get a swarm going fast enough.

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