Good day travelers of Middle-earth! This is Gwaihir, Lord of the Winds. I am pleased to descend once again from the heights of my eyrie atop the Misty Mountain peaks to give to Elves, Men, and all Free Folk my second solo video play-through of the Lord of the Rings: The Card Game. In this video, I take on the The Watcher in the Water: Nightmare Mode. In my play-through of The Ring Goes South, I escaped the tentacle clutches of the Watcher and entered Moria through the Doors of During. But because Gandalf and my Eagle friends did so well in that quest, I decided to take things up to the next cliff and face off with the Watcher again – only this time, I won’t be flying away…So before we enter the mines and battle the Balrog in my next video play-through of Journey in the Dark, let’s see how my feathers fare against The Watcher in the Water: Nightmare Mode! Will his nightmarish tentacles overwhelm the Lord of the Winds? Will the Watcher best the Eagles and claim the tiny crown I so proudly wear on my feathered head? Do fish really know how wet they are? Watch the video below to find out.
Eyrie Vision (Quest Overview)
Encounter Deck Spread: 20 Enemies, 16 Locations, 16 Treacheries , 2 Quest Cards
The original The Watcher in the Water quest was a fairly straight-forward boss-fight scenario. You have to quest through stage 1 and then stage 2 brought out both the Watcher and the Doors of Durin. In order to win you had to either defeat The Watcher or explore the Doors of Durin. (As a side note, the actual win condition is to have 3 victory points in the victory display, which unintentionally made this scenario a joke by using the Black Arrow attachment from the Hobbit saga expansion to automatically win the game without exploring the Doors or defeating The Watcher). The Nightmare version of this quest corrects this problem by forcing you to both explore the Doors of Durin and defeat The Watcher in order to win the game. In addition, The Watcher enemy is more difficult to kill, having 21 hit points rather than 9, and has 7 attack strength instead of 5. However, to my surprise it does not have the keyword Regenerate 2 anymore, which I thought should have been left in. Furthermore, you can place one damage on The Watcher every time you destroy a tentacle enemy. I think this is counter-intuitive on the game designer’s side for Nightmare mode, since it makes The Watcher easier to kill. The downside is that you cannot engage The Watcher until you explore the Doors of Durin, which can be tricky if you do not have encounter deck manipulation and foresight.
Speaking of such, the key to defeating this scenario is having encounter deck manipulation in order to “stack the deck” in your favor. Since the Doors of Durin must be explored, you need to match the first letter of a card in your hand with that of the top of the encounter deck. A great way to be successful at this is to include cards such as Henamarth Riversong, hero Denethor, Rumor from the Earth, Needful to Know, A Watchful Peace, Shadow of the Past, or Ravens of the Mountain to look at or manipulate the top card of the encounter deck. The best cards, however, are the event Risk Some Light and the attachment Palantir. These two allow you to look at the top three cards of the deck, and so increase the chances of you finding a letter match with a card in your hand.
As far as enemies go, there are nothing but tentacle enemies in the Nightmare Mode, which all have the ability to attach to your characters when you attack them or they attack you. To help prevent this, you should look at the top card of the encounter first before they attack, but after the shadow cards have been dealt. Another way to handle them is to designate a “chump” blocker and “chump” attacker in which always participates in defending and attacking tentacle enemies. This “chump” should be someone you don’t mind to lose all its attack and defense strength, or someone you will not quest with or don’t mind taking damage and dying (hence, a “chump”). The most dangerous tentacle to look out for is Striking Tentacle. This is probably the nastiest card in the whole set, as it has 4 attack strength and its forced ability, if you discard a tentacle or shadow from the encounter deck, means its attack will go undefended. This can kill most heroes in one strike. Therefore, if this guy engages you…beware, be ready, and pray for Manwë’s winds to be at your tail! The Watcher can be brutal if left in the staging area too long, so make sure you quest slowly through the first stage until you have sufficient means of encounter deck manipulation in order to explore the Doors of Durin right away. Once explored, you can engage The Watcher and chip away at him at your leisure.
As a final note, there are a couple of Doomed 5 treacheries in the encounter deck, so make sure you have a little bit of threat reduction, be it core Gandalf, Elrond’s Counsel, or The Galadrim’s Greetings. Again, the key to winning this quest is taking your time through stage 1, preparing to explore the Doors of Durin and massing an army of allies or well-fed Eagles to make a sushi-snack out of The Watcher.
The Deck: Gandalf & Gwaihir Fly to Mt. Doom
This deck is the same I used in my previous post The Eagles Are Coming! with a few modifications for this scenario. For allies, I took out Faramir because I did not need as much questing power and added Henamarth Riversong to scry the top of the deck so that I can explore the Doors of Durin. To that end, I also added 3 copies of Risk Some Light which is not only fitting (as the artwork depicts Gandalf with his Staff), but also because it enable me to scry the top three cards of the encounter deck and rearrange them however I want. This greatly increases the chances of finding a name match needed to explore the Doors of Durin. I also added 1 copy of Word of Command, to further increase my odds of obtaining Risk Some Light.
Total Cards: (59)
1x Gandalf (The Road Darkens)
1x Elrond (Shadow and Flame)
1x Glorfindel (Foundations of Stone)
1x Gwaihir (Trouble in Tharbad)
1x Landroval (A Journey to Rhosgobel)
3x Eagles of the Misty Mountains (Return to Mirkwood)
2x Descendant of Thorondor (The Hills of Emyn Muil)
3x Vassal of the Windlord (The Dead Marshes)
3x Winged Guardian (The Hunt for Gollum)
2x Imladris Stargazer (Foundations of Stone)
1x Arwen Undomiel (The Watcher in the Water)
1x Gildor Inglorion (The Hills of Emyn Muil)
2x Warden of Healing (The Long Dark)
1x Bilbo Baggins (The Road Darkens)
1x Beorn (Core Set)
1x Radagast (A Journey to Rhosgobel)
1x Henamarth Riversong (Core Set)
2x Gandalf Staff (The Road Darkens)
2x Wizard Pipe (The Road Darkens)
3x Vilya (Shadow and Flame)
1x Unexpected Courage (Core Set)
2x Light of Valinor (Foundations of Stone)
2x Asfaloth (Foundations of Stone)
2x Expert Treasure-hunter (On the Doorstep)
2x Miruvor (Shadow and Flame)
2x Flame of Anor (The Road Darkens)
3x Daeron’s Runes (Foundations of Stone)
3x Elrond’s Counsel (The Watcher in the Water)
2x The Galadhrim’s Greeting (Core Set)
2x A Test of Will (Core Set)
1x Grim Resolve (Core Set)
2x A Very Good Tale (Over Hill and Under Hill)
1x Dwarven Tomb (Core Set)
3x Risk Some Light (Shadow and Flame)
1x Word of Command (The Long Dark)