Second Breakfast, Challenge 2: The Watcher in the Water

Well, that challenge went…um…swimmingly? If our definition of swimmingly is being drug down into the depths of a stagnant pool to swim evermore with The Watcher, then yes, it went swimmingly. Anyway, welcome to the blog version of Second Breakfast where every other Monday, I will be spending a little bit of time recapping how our playthrough went and posting the challenge here for you all to read and maybe give it a go. I won’t go into to much detail here on the playthrough, if you want that, go check out the video of the livestream here:

So, as stated earlier, things did not go very well for us during this challenge, although it was not as bad as our first challenge. Our first play resulted in a quick reset due to some rotten luck from the encounter deck and Ethan’s deck really falling flat. On our second run my deck was really not up and running until later in the game, after I had already lost Gildor. Still, Ethan’s deck took off and we nearly won (although it has been pointed out that due to an overlooked willpower, we should have lost during round 7), but the deck was being ruthless, giving us all the wrong Doors of Durin cards. On the last quest phase, we pulled a stagnant creek which ended up raising our threats by five, killing both of us (I would not recommend bringing the one ring to this quest, but for this challenge, you just kind of have to deal with it). If I had a test of will (but you never have them when you need them), we would have been able to make the Doors of Durin test immediately after, and won the game.

Even though we failed again though, we had a lot of fun with this challenge. As I have said multiple times, this is one of my favorite quests in what is easily my favorite cycle (also the first cycle I ever got). This one was a real roller coaster and about 5 or 6 rounds in, we had both kind of given up and just decided to play it out anyway, taking it to a very near-victory in the end. Yes, I know what you are thinking, I am ignoring our round 7 mistake. Yes, I am going to pretend that just wasn’t a thing. And yes, I am okay with it (although I appreciate being notified about it, thanks Carl). Back on topic, these are the kinds of moments that really remind us why we play and love this game. It was tense and we were on the edge of our seat the entire time.

So what was the challenge? Well, if you are new to Second Breakfast, this is a series where we play a random quest with random deck restrictions assigned to each of us. The goal of this is to hopefully spark different ideas for deckbuilding and maybe get people to think differently about certain cards and how they can be used to build decks. For example, I have never used and probably never would have used hero Bombur or mainly Lore dwarves in a deck before. But after seeing it actually work alright for Ethan, I may revisit that someday and I don’t see Bombur as being utterly useless anymore. The other aspect of these challenges is that it really narrows the focus of a deckbuild. If you are like me and want to include every card in every deck or are a newer player who is overwhelmed by the amount of cards there are in the game, these challenges can really help you narrow those options down and give you a starting point (maybe a really terrible starting point but a starting point nonetheless) for constructing a deck. Therefore, while it may be more of a challenge in the sense that it is harder to construct a really good deck, it also can make the deckbuilding process significantly easier as well.

The challenge for this week, which has been made obvious by now, was to play The Watcher in the Water, the third adventure pack from the Dwarrowdelf cycle. My deck restrictions were to play with the “master” trait, Thorongil, and “put into play” effects (basically effects that allow you to play cards for no cost). Ethan’s deck had to use hero Bombur, be an ally swarm deck, and be a healing deck as well. Keep in mind that when we play these decks on the livestream, they are always untested and we have no previous experience with them.

For that reason, there are a couple things I would have changed about my deck. First, I should have looked at the quest again more closely because I did not remember the dramatic amount of threat increases that this quest can throw at you. Had I seen that, I would have included some more threat reduction in my deck. Second, you can see in the livestream the moment I pick up Elfhelm in my second game and realize that in order to use his “put into play” effect, I have to use a Rohan resource (I was not running a single Rohan hero). For that reason, he is definitely going to get booted from this deck as he is then practically useless (there are a lot better ways to get his stat line for a cost of 4 or less).

Apart from those two changes though, I actually kind of enjoyed this deck. I really liked being able to play Thorongil on Elrohir giving him just a ton of defense, an extra readying ability (which I used incorrectly once), and less of a starting threat cost than hero Elrohir (sacrificing only 1 attack and 1 hit point). I also liked being able to have a lot of solid, unique allies that I always had the option to use power of command on (even though I think I only ever used it once). This deck really generates a solid amount of willpower (and for future reference, I will be putting Light of Valinor on Elladan instead which I believe will be far more useful). Overall, I think the deck does pretty well provided you get Thorongil and Steward of Gondor.

Enough about me though (and I can’t speak for Ethan’s deck as I did not play it but I think it did pretty well), I won’t bore you with any more details regarding our playthrough. Again, if you want that, you can go watch it yourself. However, I will put all of the challenge details in a shortened form here at the end of this post. If this kind of challenge format is something that interests you, please go try it for yourself. If you do, be sure to let us know how it went and leave a link to what decks you used. You can do that either in the comments of the Youtube video (linked below), or chat with us in our new Discord channel (also linked below). And lastly, if you are liking these challenges, be sure to subscribe to our Youtube channel so that you don’t miss any. That way, you can also check out the main podcast which puts out quality content every week and is just a lot of fun to listen to. There is a reason that this show is called Second Breakfast, its great, but there is no Second Breakfast without a first one (and trust me, the first one is so much better so go check it out). Most importantly, go play the game. That is what Card Talk is really about, getting people excited to play more game and build more decks. While you are at it, maybe give this challenge a try and come back in two weeks for a new one.

Challenge #2:

Quest: The Watcher in the Water

Deck 1: Hero Bombur, Healing, Ally Swarm (Ethan’s deck:

Deck 2: Master, Thorongil, “Put into Play” Effects (My deck:


Youtube channel:

Discord server:

This week’s livestream:

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