Two friends and I have started playing this with just 1 core set. We didn't realize you were expected to customize fairly soon, so we have just been playing with the stock decks. We pick 1 each and each take 1 gandalf.
The first 3 tries we got beat up really badly. Came sort of close once, but ultimately failed.
Tactics, Lore, Leadership failed hard.
Tactics, Leadership, Spirit was a little better.
Then we tried it again and smashed it. No dead heroes. No damage. All but 4 of the victory points. We were each at about 35 threat (when starting at ~30).
We used Leadership, Spirit and Lore
These were the things that seems to be the most key to me:
1. Early threat reduction to dodge the troll. The Leadership and Spirit stock decks start less than 30 threat, but Lore starts at 30. First turn, spirit was able to reduces all of our threat by 2. This gave us a couple turns to be ready for the troll. This was probably the biggest thing. With a customized deck, you can arrage your party to be 27-28, but we didn't have that option.
2. Slow and steady. We took our time getting through the first phase so we could get the staging area under control.
3. Lots of brute force. Leadership got a TON of allies so they could kill the large beasts.
4. The scout/tracker stuff from spirit. We wound up throwing a ton of progress tokens on quiests from the scouty characters.
5. Mega-healing from lore. Lore had all 3 "exhaust:heal 2 HP" cards out so we could take a bunch of damage and then clean it up.
6. The hit and run hero from spirit worked away at high-HP, low defense beasties in the staging are so we never had to engage them. Is that legit?
We never even used a gandalf and at one point we actually had 0 threat in the staging area
Again, I think the big deal was to get our threat dropped first turn so we had a couple turns to gear up for the troll.
Looking forward to Dol Guldur. Will we be able to get through that with 3 of the 4 stock decks?
I just did Anduin with a solo-lore deck (though tweaked to be ally heavy). Got crushed twice and then got a forest trap in my start hand and neutralized the troll completely. Was able to do as you did and get things under control and then carefully and systematically work my way through the rest. But progressed too slowly the first time and had too much to handle waiting for me at the beginning of stage 3. Played again - and got the forest trap again - made sure staging area better before triggering stage three and sailed through.
Yeah, the first Hill Troll, to me, is the toughest part about the Anduin quest. Without any bump to Defense, both Gimli and Aragorn are the only ones that can take 1 attack from him (assuming he doesn't get +1 to his attack) without dying.
In general, it's best to do as you did, reduce threat early and build up your hand to find a way to beat him.
As for Dunhere, yeah, he's great to slowly hitting staging area goons. Especially ones with low defense. Provided your threat stays below their engagement value, they will just stay there taking the hits until, whammy, they're dead!
And I don't think you NEED to build custom decks at this point. The option certainly exists though. Replacing a Lore character with one from the sphere you didn't use (Tactics?) would be one way to get your threat under 30 to start. Plus allow you to pepper in some decent events or allies.
Nice job though.