Halfway through the Dwarrowdelf cycle adventure packs, the Watcher in the Water gives you the chance to recreate the encounter with the beast that attacked the Fellowship at the western door of Moria, in The Fellowship of the Ring. There are multiple ways to win this quest, and I’ve made my deck with each one in mind, as well as the slight chance to “cheat” the win conditions.
Once again, Lore Aragorn is fulfilling the role of defending, and attacking, if able. There are a lot of enemies in this quest with low engagement cost, specifically, the Tentacle enemies. So you will have to engage them as they’re cost is as low as 12. However, they don’t have high attack, maxing out at 4 attack on the Striking Tentacle. So Aragorn’s 2 defense can hold up, especially if you get a Self Preservation or Warden of Healing early on. Also, of course, Protector of Lorien will allow him to jump up to higher defense if he has to, as the Tentacles aren’t the only enemies you’ll face.
I really want to see Unexpected Courage on Aragorn quickly, as well. Many Tentacle enemies have bad effects for attacking them, and you’re more than likely going to trigger those effects, so trying to kill them can be gamble, and can backfire. It’s likely I’ll keep a Tentacle, or two, engaged for a long time, so Aragorn may need to defend multiple times for the whole game. A Burning Brand, of course, is nice to have, but the Shadow effects in this quest aren’t that bad. There’s a really nasty one that buffs the attack of a Tentacle enemy, and I think that’s the worst one. So for this quest, it means Burning Brand isn’t as necessary as you may think.
Also, if fortune favors me, and I draw multiple copies of Legacy Blade, then I will give one to Aragorn, but only after I have one attached to my main attacking hero. If all goes well, Aragorn won’t have to do much defending, and he can participate in attacking to kill the Watcher, if we go that route in trying to win the game.
I’m bringing back the familiar supporting cast of Thurindir and Spirit Glorfindel, as I’m addicted to Lore + Spirit. But, these two fellows are perfect for my strategy, as I want to offer a “triple threat” answer, if you will, to beating this quest. First, Thurindir opens up the Side Quest archetype, which, I think, makes Lore capable of attacking well enough to handle most enemies in general. Having even one Side Quest in the Victory Display means Legacy Blade is a 0 cost attachment for +1 attack. More than one in the Victory Display, or more than 1 blade attached to Glorfindel, is icing on the cake. Also, Thurindir becomes a powerful questing hero, and I’ve chosen my Side Quests as usual: Gather Information, Scout Ahead, and Rally the West.
Spirit Glorfindel as usual is a questing hero, and the primary attacker. He is the first target for Legacy Blade, and with at the very least one attached, he can kill all of the Tentacle enemies on his own. But, there is risk in doing so, and I have included allies that have solid attack, as well as solid questing ability to help mitigate those risks.
For unique allies, I’ve included Treebeard, as he is a perfect defender for this quest. He can defend any and every Tentacle without trouble, especially if he has Self Preservation attached. He can also soak damage from The Watcher’s effect, if it is in the Staging Area for a while. Gandalf is also thrown in as some insurance, but I rarely found him needed. Continuing the running theme in the last few decks, Elladan and Elrohir are also included, since they can attack, defend, and quest quite well.
Generic allies include the East Road Ranger, which can quest for a really good 3 willpower when I’m trying to complete a side quest. If not, then they have a great 2 attack value. Another generic Dunedain ally is the Dunedain Lookout, who is able to counter the Black Uruks. Also, there’s a solid trick to getting rid of some Tentacle enemies with this guy, which I’ll get into later. Finally, the Warden of Healing is nice insurance to have, since we may get chip damage from all of the Tentacles.
Opening Hand and Strategy
First of all, my starting side quest is Gather Information, of course. As usual, when I play Glorfindel, I am looking for Light of Valinor, for action economy purposes. Otherwise, I want to see Protector of Lorien, or Self-Preservation, so I can defend Tentacles with Aragorn for a while without much worry. Card draw is tough in this deck, as it requires a lot of setup by getting Protector into play, and having Elven-light. So, it’s possible to top-deck for a while, which can hurt. Any of the allies are good to see in the opening hand, other than possibly Gandalf, but he can draw cards if needed in a pinch.
When this quest was released, there were no side quests. So, you were stuck with winning in one of two ways: defeat The Watcher, or “solve” the (annoying) riddle on Doors of Durin. Side quests, now, offer a bit of a cheat for this quest, as you could dedicate the deck to completing side quests, thus having at least 3 Victory Points required to defeat the last stage, and avoid defeating the Watcher, or dealing with Doors of Durin altogether. I didn’t want to commit fully to this, so I have 3 side quests as insurance, but I never see all of them.
Instead, Gather Information can pull a Light of Valinor, or some other card I want or need that I didn’t get in my opening hand. Also, I may grab Scout Ahead with it, as this is my main strategy for winning by solving Doors of Durin. By completing Scout Ahead once you reach the final stage, you can setup which card you discard from the Encounter Deck from Doors of Durin, and thus, can guarantee you place the Doors in the Victory Display.
The other win condition, killing the Watcher, I can easily accomplish with Legacy Blades, plus my allies, since I can have a lot of attack on the board. The biggest hurdle here is having no Tentacle enemies in play so that I can engage the Watcher. I try to accomplish that by sneakily attacking the Grasping Tentacles with Glorfindel and a Dunedain Lookout. There are no limits on the number of Grasping Tentacles that can be attached to one character, so the Lookout can take them all. Then, I can chump block with him, or directly damage him from the Watcher’s effect, and get rid of all those tentacles along with him.
Also, the Striking Tentacle and Thrashing Tentacle are annoying in that they can possibly deal heavy damage to you. This is why I want to get Self-Preservation and/or Treebeard in play as soon as possible to soak that damage. I’ve included None Return in my deck to, hopefully, put some of these Tentacles in the Victory Display, and just thin them down, since they will recycle into the Encounter Deck on the final stage.
You may have fear of the Wrapped treachery, but I don’t find it to be much trouble. Glorfindel will always be ready during the combat phase, so you can attach it to him, and if Aragorn has Unexpected Courage, then he can exhaust to discard it from Glorfindel. Or, you can attach it to Aragorn, and have Glorfindel exhaust, instead of attacking, to discard it from Aragorn, and continue defense as normal. Without Light of Valinor or Unexpected Courage, though, this can be dangerous and A Test of Will is handy to avoid it.