We return to Moria in the Dwarrowdelf cycle with The Long Dark. This one has you return to Moria, traveling east, but if you’ve read the narrative, you know that Aragorn’s journey in Moria ended on a cliffhanger. So, I’m returning to the Black Pit to pick up that story. This is an interesting quest that can be frustrating, simply because of its randomness. The Encounter Deck is huge, at 60 cards, and the Locate tests can really be obnoxious. I’m tailoring the deck to handle any Locate tests as best I can.
I knew I wanted Lore for some of the unique challenges in this quest, so Lore Aragorn is where I started. Also, because of his ability to reduce my threat, I could get away with some cards that raise your threat via Doomed or other means. Also, there are some effects for failing the Locate tests that may raise your threat by a lot, so Aragorn is a good insurance policy.
Otherwise, he serves the same basic function as previous quests. He will defend, thanks to Protector of Lorien and Self Preservation, as well as A Burning Brand. But, there aren’t many dangerous enemies in this quest, just the usual Dwarrowdelf goblins. Aragorn will also quest while there aren’t any enemies around.
A few cards that I enjoyed adding thinking of Aragorn are Rumour from the Earth. This allows for some scrying ability and can come in handy to know what is coming from the Encounter Deck, since if you quest unsuccessfully, you will have to trigger Lost effects. Sometimes there won’t actually be any in play, but it is better to be safe than sorry. Another card with Aragorn in mind was Secret Paths. This is a very clutch card in being able to blank a location’s threat in the staging area. Locations like Zigil Mineshaft, with the buff from the first quest stage can really ruin the day. Instead of, or in addition to Secret Paths, I could’ve played Strider’s Path, but there just weren’t many Travel effects on the locations in this quest.
I’m bringing, as usual, Arwen Undomiel, strictly for questing and resource acceleration. She also enables some things that can help in this quest, such as Elven-light, which is fine to be discarded by Locate tests. Also, for an emergency, I’ve got Heirs of Earendil in the deck, too, in order to discard a location if I need to and don’t have Secret Paths. Also, just for fun I have one copy of Glorfindel.
The other hero is Beravor. I really wanted as much card draw as possible, since you have to discard cards for Locate tests. Beravor strictly will draw cards, but, thanks to some things like Rumour from the Earth, I can tell whether I can draw with her, or need to save her for questing. I will get Unexpected Courage on her for drawing without worry.
For allies, I needed questing strength over combat power. I’ve made sure to bring the Ethir Swordsman, as well as the Dunedain Pathfinder. It may be a little contradictory to have the Pathfinder that puts a Location in the staging area, when the threat is buffed, but I think it’s often OK, and technically free to play. There are a lot of locations, so it’s difficult to fail. I’m also including a couple copies of Treebeard as well as Elladan and Elrohir, two of my favorite allies.
Opening Hand and Strategy
Secret Paths is always great to start the quest, since you begin with a location in play. Starting with a Zigil Mineshaft at 6 threat could be really backbreaking. Some addition card draw is nice to see, but I really want to see a questing ally immediately. I have one copy of Will of the West in my sideboard, and in testing, I ran through my deck a few times, so it is likely to be added as a 51st card to the deck.
In addition to the location control with Secret Paths, Heirs of Earendil is very useful in a tight spot. Zigil Mineshaft has high threat, and there are other annoying locations, like Twisting Passage, which will require a Locate test before you can place progress on it. So, it’s possible to just get rid of it with Heirs of Earendil and avoid that test.
This is a fairly straightforward quest, even though it can be super random. The Locate tests can be avoided, except for the automatic one on Stage 2B, but when you have to do one, it can cost all the cards in your hand, or just one card. So, ideally, the more drawing the better, which is Beravor’s job. Also, Daeron’s Runes and Deep Knowledge help, and Aragorn can counteract the threat raise from Deep Knowledge. You never know what you’re going to get with this quest, so it could take an hour, or 15 minutes!