The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game – The Long Dark » Sessions » Long Dark single core

Author: guciomir
Long Dark is a little bit disappointing as far as difficulty goes from solo player perspective. For sure game is quick, much quicker than Carrock. On the other hand, quest does not put pressure at player, the way Return To Mirkwood does. Usually, the game can be won easily, if you just quest and deal with some random enemies plus locations. You can ignore "lost" mechanic for the most part. And if you play like that, you can easily get high win rate.

At least on the first glance.

Long Dark is a tricky quest and is not easy to learn. There are some cards that can potentially turn the world upside down. The scariest one is definately Twisting Passage as it has 3-4 threat and is extremaly hard to get rid of. Then there is Cave Spider that makes you discard your hand. There is Foul Air which can wipe off entire board. And finally, the Warlord, who is encountered rather rarely, but if he enters game early, he can make you lose a few quest phases before you kill him. As I say, game can be won easily, if you just follow your luck and bad encounter cards do not come. But preparing for the worst, encountering the worst and winning the game, is much much harder.

Previous report can be found here:

Deck (Legolas , Eowyn, Theodred):
Events (15 total):
2x Test of Will
2x Hasty Stroke
2x Feint
2x Ever Vigilant
2x Sneak Attack
2x Galadhrim Greetings
2x Hail Of Stones
1x Shadows of the Past

Attachments (2 total):
2x Steward of Gondor

Allies (33 total):
3x Vassal of the Windlord
3x Snowbourn Scout
3x Gondorian Spearman
3x Veteran Axehand
3x Riddermark Finest
2x Bofur
2x Eomund
3x Dunedain Observer
2x Descendant of Thorondor
2x Arwen
2x Northern Tracker
2x Faramir
3x Gandalf

Below you can find my game session, that was pretty interesting and had a few twists and turns. I started to document the session during the first turn, when I saw what encounter deck prepared for me, so I knew the game would be tough.

Initial hand:
Hail Of Stones
Galadhrim Greeting
Gondorian Spearman
Axehand Veteran

Initial location:
Branching Path

Attach Torch to Eowyn (in case I need to sacrifice heroes, she is the last in line)

Comment: hand looks ok. No Gandalf who is very useful in this adventure, but Bofur should give me the edge in case of location flood in the early game. No early blocker means I am a little bit exposed to nasty shadow effects.

Turn 1
Staging: Branching Path (3 threat)
Active location:
Engaged with:
Resources: L1, E1, T1
Cards: Faramir, Hail, Galadhrim, Spearman, Bofur, Axehand
Draw: Arwen (I love her!)
Quest: Theodred (E2), Eowyn
Encounter: Warlord . Now this is interesting. Early Warlord can make me lose quite a lot of allies. I need to start clearing staging area so I trigger Torch and kill Branching Path. Torch shows some treachery, so this is good. But Branching Path effect is nasty: I see new Branching Path, Silent Cavern, Goblin Sneak. What should I choose? I don't have early blocker, so I decide to choose Silent Cavern
compare 6 threat against 5 willpower, threat goes to 27, fail Location test, Cavern and Warlord Lost effects trigger but do nothing (just tap Legolas)
travel to Caverns
threat 28

Comment: I have 2 Lost cards in play now. But I should be able to quest succesfully starting from next turn, so location will die easily and Warlord will follow next. Maybe I will kill him with Hail of Stones? I just need to play carefully, so Warlord Lost effect does not kill anyone.

Turn 2
Staging: Warlord
Active location: Silent Cavern
Engaged with:
Resources: L2, E3, T2
Cards: Faramir, Hail, Galadhrim, Spearman, Bofur, Axehand, Arwen
draw: Axehand
Play: Arwen E1, Axehand L0
quest: Theodred (T3), Eowyn, Arwen (Axehand)
encounter: Twisting Passage. Play Bofur E0 to get +2 willpower buff
Compare 9 willpower against 8 threat. Cavern progress 1/3
Threat 29

Comment: now this is becoming VERY dangerous. I have potential location lock. I need to kill Warlord as soon as possible because his +4 threat will mean that Lost mechanic will trigger me to death. Trying to clear Twisting Passage with Torch is a suicide, so I will try Faramir.

Turn 3
Staging: Warlord, Twisting Passage
Active location: Silent Cavern 1/3
Engaged with:
Allies: Arwen, Axehand
Resources: L1, E1, T4
Cards: Faramir, Hail, Galadhrim, Spearman, Bofur, Axehand,
draw: Sneak Attack
Play: Faramir T0, Hail Of Stones L0 (tap everyone, but Eowyn and kill Warlord)
Quest: Eowyn
Encounter: Foul Air. Ouch! Discard Axehand -> miss. Discard Galadhrim -> miss. Discard Spearman -> miss. Discard Sneak - miss. Foul Air is succesful. Wounds: Legolas 2/4, Theodred 2/4, Eowyn 2/3, Faramir 2/3. Kill Arwen and Axehand. Cavern's Lost trigger but does nothing since everyone is exhausted
Play Bofur to get +2 buff, E0
Compare 6 willpower against 4 threat , put 2 progress on Caverns, they are explored.
Travel to Twisting Passage.
Threat 30

Comment: I am so unlucky! Now I can't take attacks undefended, second Foul Air will kill me, there is Twisting Passage in play, I lost my allies. And I lost my hand. I have just Bofur. But I can still win the game, I have Faramir in play, so big questing power is at hand. All I need to is to succesfully explore Twisting Passage....

Turn 4
Active location: Twisting Passage
Engaged with:
Allies: Faramir 2/3
Resources: L1, E1, T1
Cards: Bofur
draw: Scout
Quest: Theodred (E2), Eowyn
Encounter: Mountains Root (Threat 2). Trigger Faramir
Compare 7 willpower against 2 threat. Trigger Twisting effect. What should I discard for Location test? Scout or Bofur? Scout can kill Mountains Root, but I feel Bofur is much more needed. Discard Scout -> miss. How lucky, 5th location test in a row failed. Discard Bofur -> hit! Location is explored.
Travel to Mountain Root.
Threat 31

Comment: I was a little bit lucky to get rid of Twisting Passage, but I feel like the game will be very hard to win. I have no cards in hand and everyone is wounded. Sure, staging area is clear, but encounter deck isn't done with me, is it?

Turn 5
Active location: Mountain Root
Engaged with:
Allies: Faramir 2/3
Resources: L2, E3, T2
draw: Thorondor (nice, I'll take a risk and quest with Legolas so I can play him next turn)
Quest: Theodred (L3), Eowyn, Legolas
Encounter: Spider. Here comes the Spider and my plan for Thorondor is lost. Encounter deck is laughing. Draw 1 card, Gandalf. Just perfect. Discard Gandalf and Thorondor to feed the Spider.
Compare 6 willpower against 3 threat. Explore Mountain Root, Phase 1 progress 2/13
Spider engages me, block attack with Faramir, no shadow
Threat goes to 32

Comment: well, Faramir still lives. But I feel like I'm getting lost in the darkness.

Turn 6
Active location:
Engaged with: Spider
Allies: Faramir 2/3
Resources: L4, E4, T3
Draw: Hail Of Stones
Quest: Eowyn (just her, so I can kill Spider)
Encounter: Abandoned Mire (4 threat). What to do? Can I risk another enemy? For sure, I need succesful quest phase (so 5 willpower), because Abandoned Mire's Lost effect will bring 2 nasty goblins into play, including Warlord. I could trigger Torch and kill Mire, but if another enemy comes, I will be doomed. I decide to feed Eowyn with Hail Of Stones.
Compare 5 willpower against 4 threat. Stage 1 progress 3/13
Spider attacks, Faramir blocks and still lives!
Kill Spider with Legolas and Theodred. Stage 1 progress 5/13
Trigger Torch and kill Mire. No enemy.
Threat 33

Comment: Is there a distant light in the tunnel? Once again board is clear and I still live.

Turn 7
Active location:
Engaged with:
Allies: Faramir 2/3
Resources: L5, E5, T4
Draw: Vassal
Play Vassal L4
Quest: Theodred + Eowyn, E6
Encounter: Burning Low. Trigger Faramir
Compare 0 threat against 7 willpower. Stage 1 progress 12/13
Threat 34

Comment: I can see it now, the light! I can almost grasp it!

Turn 8
Active location:
Engaged with:
Allies: Faramir 2/3, Vassal
Resources: L5, E7, T5
Draw: Feint
Quest: Eowyn (just her, I should be able to flip to stage 2, just 1 point is needed)
Encounter: Mountain Root (Threat 2). Stage 1 is completed and I flip to stage 2. I decide to fail stage 2 effect, new card will be revealed, but I feel I should be ok. If there is enemy, I will Feint it and kill it. New card is Lightless Passage. Ghh.. Should I kill it with Torch (but this will need me to trigger Torch twice)? Or maybe travel to it , so Torch will be used just once? I have Feint in hand, so I feel quite safe. I'll try to put progress tokens on Passage using Torch, maybe Scout or Tracker will come next turn? I reveal encounter card for Torch and see Rock Adder! Nasty - my plan with Feint won't work. Passage progress is 3/4
Travel to Mountain Root.
Rock Adder engages, Vassal blocks and dies.
Legolas and Theodred kill Rock Adder. Mountain is explored. Stage 2 progress 1/17.
Threat 35

Comment: I'll need to kill Lightless Passage next turn. Hopefully I will draw Scout or Tracker but I have a feeling that Torch will be needed.

Turn 9
Staging: Lightless Passage 3/4
Active location:
Engaged with:
Allies: Faramir 2/3
Resources: L6, E8, T6
Cards: Feint
Draw: Ever Vigilant . Oh, I have Faramir in play, if I quest with everyone and trigger Faramir twice... and I'll buff Eowyn... I will have 13 willpower. So close ! But not close enough. For sure I can do this trick next turn.
Quest: Eowyn, Theodred T7
Encounter: Orc Drummer. Trigger Torch, I really need to get rid of Lighless Passage. Spider!!! Draw Riddermark Finest. Discard Finest and Feint to feed the Spider. Lighless Passage is explored.
Compare 5 threat vs 5 willpower. Fail Locate test, but it does nothing.
Engage: Spider and Orc Drummer. Well, I can't keep Drummer too long in the staging area, so I decide to engage it and wish for no shadow effects.
Spider attacks , Faramir blocks, no shadow
Drummer attacks undefended, no shadow, Legolas 3/4
Legolas attacks spider 2/4
Threat 36

Comment: don't tell your plans or the encounter deck will laugh at you... I almost felt a victory last turn (triggering Faramir twice with Ever Vigilant), but now this is no longer possible. I'll need to kill enemies soon, but still I need to make progress.. What I really need, is Gandalf. He can save me with his draw 3 cards ability as I have tons of resources...

Turn 10
Active location:
Engaged with: Spider 2/4, Drummer
Allies: Faramir 2/3
Resources: L7, E9, T8
Draw: Faramir. Oh no! But wait, if Faramir dies, I may be able to replace him.
Quest: Eowyn (just her, so I'll kill spider)
Encounter: Stray Goblin
Compare 4 willpower against 1 threat. Stage 2 progress 4/17
Goblin engages
Spider attacks, Faramir blocks , +3 effect. Faramir dies
Drummer attacks undefended but no shadow, Theodred is on verge of death 3/4 (Legolas and Eowyn are also dying)
Stray attacks, Legolas blocks, shadow is "exhaust someone" but noone is ready
Threat 37

Comment: Enemies are killing me. But I may still try to do one , suicidal quest phase and try to finish stage 2. I need 13 more points. I need Gandalf. Badly.

Turn 11
Active location:
Engaged with: Spider 2/4, Drummer, Stray
Resources: L8, E10, T9
Cards: Faramir
Draw: Eomund. Quick math: 4 + 1 + 1 + 2 + 4 = 12. Not good enough...
Play: Faramir T5, Eomund E7
Quest: Eowyn (just her, so maybe Eomund dies and I can kill some enemies when Theodred + Eowyn get ready)
Encounter: Fatigue, exhaust Theodred.
Compare 4 willpower against 0 threat. Stage 2 progress 8/17.
Spider attacks, Eomund blocks, no shadow. Eomund 1/2. (argh, I hoped for something else)
Stray attacks, Faramir blocks, +3 attack shadow. Faramir still lives 2/3
Drummer attacks, Legolas blocks, +1 attack shadow. Legolas dies
Threat 38

Comment: everyone is on verge of death. I can feel, I can almost feel the end of stage 2, just 9 progress points are needed. Legolas is dead. Soon Theodred and Eowyn will follow him... Will I survive? Will my team of wounded heroes find a way to escape death or will they get lost in the dark? I feel like I am trapped and dangers are swarming everywhere. I NEED to get out!

Turn 12
Active location:
Engaged with: Spider 2/4, Drummer, Stray
Allies: Eomund 1/2, Faramir 2/3
Resources: E8, T6
Draw: Steward of Gondor.
Eowyn, Theodred and Eomund are questing. I discard Steward to Eowyn so she gets + 1 willpower and I trigger Faramir. With heart full of fear, I enter the darkness....
Wed May 30, 2012 5:39 pm
Author: Glaurung2
Cool report. Really like it. I still didn get my pack but really want it.
Wed May 30, 2012 8:03 pm
Author: Bullroarer Took
Thanks for the report. Besides having two Turn 9s, which is immaterial, can you explain Turn 8? It looks like you exhausted the Cave Torch and revealed Rock Adder, but then you engaged Goblin Sneak? Where did he come from?
Wed May 30, 2012 8:14 pm
Author: guciomir
Thanks, I corrected both issues.

As far as Adder mistake goes... Adder is a snake, and snake looks kinda like sneak So when I was writing, I was thinking about "snake" but wrote "sneak"
Wed May 30, 2012 8:39 pm
Author: Jekzer
Nice report, as always. A close, but no cigar! hehe

I saw a possible typo at turn 5, Legolas gained 1 resource token (so he goes from 2 to 3 but you put 4. I think that you played well though, because next round Legolas has 4 resource tokens (after resource phase), so just a typo.

I need to test this AP. Foul Air + Twisting Passage + Cave Spider is a really nasty combo. I don't know if it "deserves" DL = 7 but it seems an AP based on luck mostly (no PASS, no party!).
Wed May 30, 2012 9:10 pm
Author: Dam the Man
He specifically mentions risking questing with Legolas so he can play Thorondor next turn, questing with Lego allows Theo to give the resource from his ability to Lego.
Wed May 30, 2012 9:15 pm
Author: jpraibis
Hey. Travelling to Twisting Passage was quite suicidal. Given the chance to pass the test is some 20%, with almost no cards in hand you were super lucky not to get stuck at the spot. Think of it next time you play it perhaps?

Nice report, very synoptic.
Wed May 30, 2012 10:32 pm
Author: guciomir
Long Dark is tricky when dangerous cards are encountered. I think I still learn to play this quest and this is not easy.

I felt I needed to take some chances. If Twisting Passage stayed in play, it would contribute 4 threat every turn. For sure, it would slow me a lot (more turns = more encounter cards) and a threat lock could happen a few turns later when some more high threat cards come. Was traveling to Twisting Passage the best decision? Probably not and this is something which is hard to grasp when you play, it is much easier to analyze afterwards.

Moreover, I wonder if a major mistake happened just a little bit earlier, when I tried to pass Foul Air test.

It is hard to pass just one important test in this quest and I tried to pass two. At that point I knew that I was playing against both Foul Air and Twisting Passage, so I can't say there was a surprise here. When I look at the notes now, I think it would be better to give up Foul Air test and just concentrate next turn on Twisting Passage.

What's your opinion?
Thu May 31, 2012 6:35 am
Author: jpraibis
Tough decisions, surely. Even when I played Beravor and was drawing a lot, it happened to me that I failed a test discarding 8 cards. On another occasion - similar to you, I only had one card and made it.

You are probably right, Foul Air is devastating but you could still win without passing it, you should have probably failed that and concentrate on the Passage. Really hard though.

Unlike for the Watcher, where Henamarth is super great, here he can only help a little. When he peaks and it is a pass, you're set. When he peaks and it is a terrible encounter, it is still worth trying the test (if only just to fail but discard the terrible encounter card). Thus I feel, it is again a really nice card to have, if you play Lore of course. It is actually one card that for me gained perhaps most importance over the last few adventure packs. He has always been useful for prediction but now in some cases maybe doubly so.

What I am a little concerned about with this (or many other) quest is A Test of Will. It is usually so that when I get one (or two, or one and Dwarven Tomb), the chances for winning rise steeply. I am not fond of the fact that this one card has such a significance in the game, I like how the Watcher dealt with it, A Test of Will could still be useful but its power was hugely diminished.

I have yet to lose this one, I have got quite confident about my deckbuilding after beating it 10 times with 4 different decks (usually paired in two). Then, just to see, I took two of them to Emyn Muil which I considered to be easy (as many have) and got my arse beat.
Thu May 31, 2012 10:18 am
Author: jpraibis
As for the your deck, I really like the Hero line-up. I have only played this one for a short while but I like the swiftness of it. I think Legolas is a nice addition to a Rohan deck, even thematically.

I would make a suggestion though, or post a question. There are four Tactics cards I would consider having at such a deck, Blade of Gondolin, Rivendell Blade, Unseen Strike and Quick Strike. The first Blade can make a difference on some locations but you've got the Scout for the purpose, perhaps. The latter Blade is the one I almost cannot imagine not having with Legolas in a deck - but thinking of the enemies for the Long Dark, I know it doesn't make a difference on many occasions - do you deckbuild for each quest or do you keep this deck throughout? Surely Quick Strike can save you lots of trouble here though, as you don't have a natural defender in the line-up. And starting at 26, Unseen Strike is certainly one to consider, don't you think?

As for the cards to drop, surely Axehand. I like the two Eagles you run but have you had much luck with them? I know Vassal is a great buy - even solo. Descendant is probably only worth it for the Sneak - it is a great combo though.

Dunedain Watcher? Is she worth it if not for the cleavage? No, I know the shadows are devastating but Feint and Quick Strike could do a better job I feel.

Let me know what you think.
Thu May 31, 2012 11:31 am
Author: guciomir
Thanks for the feedback.

I play all quests with this deck and do not adjust it for single scenarios. I definately feel that a lot of improvements can be made to the build that I currently use. Previously, I was using 3x Radagast and 2x Misty Eagles instead of 2x Hail Of Stones, 2x Eomund, 1x Shadows of the Past. I feel like that previous build was working better overall.

Right now I am not entirely happy with a couple of cards, for a variety of reasons. I noticed that without Radagast, Thorondor is often a dead draw since I do not quest with Legolas too much. Riddermark, while nice sometimes, do not trigger their ability too often. Observer saves my life from time to time, but I wonder if I need to play 3 copies, maybe 2 will be enough? Steward of Gondor is also not always useful. I do not draw it most of the time and Theodred seem to be enough to accelerate resources. (on the other hand, when I was playing Radagast, Steward was more useful). Then I have Axehand and Spearman. Both are very useful as they provide attack and defense, but I may think about replacing them if similar allies appear in later packs.

Blade of Gondolin is not worth it, extra progress token won't make a big difference while +1 attack is not reliable. If +1 effect was always working, than I would give this one a try.

I played with Quick Strike, but found it not to be useful in current build. Legolas has just 3 attack which is not enough to kill enemies that matter.

However, I did not consider Rivendel Blade and this may be some turning point. I'll need to test it, maybe together with Quick Strike.

As far as Unseen Strike goes, I like Vassal more. It always works, can block, can quest and costs just 1 more.

But still, sometimes things go different in practice than in theory. I know I need to make a big update to the deck before the next cycle so I'll test most, if not all, ideas.
Thu May 31, 2012 12:15 pm
Author: jpraibis
Yes, probably better to forget Unseen Strike in this deck. Unless you can really keep the threat low, it may be situational. If you can though, the card rocks - but I like to combine it with Dúnhere.

Quick Strike is a different matter, but as you say, you probably need to boost Legolas to make more sense. Rivendell Blade is surely a way, just look at the legions of Goblins that do not combine hp + defence for more than five (which is what Legolas + Blade can take). Even from the core set, I guess Legolas can kill 85% of enemies with a single blow of the Blade. Plus you can consider Dúnedain Mark if you haven't.

I think you're really running too many allies, 33 seems a bit too many. I would not take out the Spearman though, he is just great. Getting ever better with more direct damage cards, even the new Fresh Tracks combos with it nicely.
Thu May 31, 2012 1:56 pm