Who remembers the Dwarrowdelf cycle? Khazad Dum, with its swarming armies of Goblinses, leaving you constantly on the back foot, as you tried desperately to fend them off. Surely lots of surge here, right?
Well apparently not. Hazy recollections aside, once you actually get down to the numbers, standard difficulty Dwarrowdelf quests don’t really look any surgier than the Mirkwood cycle. The highest probability of surge caps out at around 1 in 9, which is the same as the Hunt for Gollum, but without the forced effect from the quest card revealing extra encounter cards, there are 4 quests (out of 9) with no printed surge whatsoever, and others like the Long Dark have only a token nod to surge with one card in a deck of 60 bearing the word.
The most notable outlier comes in Foundations of Stone, where the players deal with two entirely different encounter decks at different points, and the deck for stages 4 & 5 does have an impressive 1 in 5.5 chance of surging, although if you’ve quested carefully, you should be fairly well set-up by that point.
Easy mode in Dwarrowdelf behaves as you’d expect. Aside from the second foundations deck, surge either gets even less likely to appear (missing altogether from 5 of the 9 quests now) or remains statistically insignificant. Nightmare cranks it up somewhat, with a high of 1 in 5, and only one deck escaping altogether.
Where Dwarrowdelf really punishes players though, is in the surge-like effects. In standard mode, every single quest has at least a 1 in 10 chance of revealing a surge-type effect, with the odds in a couple of decks being 1 in 3. This doesn’t really change all that much across Easy or Nightmare mode.
Lastly, it’s worth noting another slightly distorting feature of the Dwarrowdelf cycle, the Goblin enemies who come out as a shadow card, then add themselves to the staging area. I think this is probably the main reason why it feels so surge-y even if the numbers don’t really suggest it- in several quests, there are no fewer than ten cards with the potential to transform at a moment’s notice from a shadow into an enemy. The figures below are worked out without factoring in these shadow effects.
Average surge likelihood:
Highest: 1 in 9 (11%) Into the Pit
Lowest: zero Flight from Moria, The Redhorn Gate, Watcher in the Water
Cycle overall: 4.5% standard, 4.3% Easy, 9.7% Nightmare
Surge-type effect Likelihood:
Highest: 1 in 3 (33%) Into the Pit, Foundations of Stone (part I)
Lowest: 1 in 10 (10%) The Redhorn Gate
Cycle Overall: 23% standard, 19% Easy, 25% Nightmare
Overall verdict – Not surge, but something a lot like it.