Deck-Craft: “I will not yield the river and Pelennor unfought!”

In Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings film trilogy, there is a moment during Return of the King in which Denethor, aptly played by John Noble, tells Faramir, “I will not yield the river and Pelennor unfought!” before ordering his son to a near-certain death. But Noble delivers the line in such a goofy way (while creepily preparing his meal, in fact) that my Beloved Wife and I have always made fun of it. Take a look/listen:

To this line, we always reply, “Huh? Wassat now? Speak up!” While I am traveling for work, I have lots of layover time to make goofy decks, so this mangled line has become the inspiration for a (mostly) Gondor deck designed to shield those in need of sentinel defenders and/or siege questing. Say it with me now, “IwillnotyieldtheriverandPelennorunfought!” Huh?!

“I will not yield the river and Pelennor unfought!”
Total Cards: 50
Starting Threat: 28

Heroes (3)
Beregond (Heirs of Númenor)
Denethor (Flight of the Stormcaller)
Mablung (The Nîn-in-Eilph)

Ally (15)
3x Derndingle Warrior (Escape from Mount Gram)
3x Envoy of Pelargir (Heirs of Númenor)
2x Faramir (Core Set)
3x Gandalf (Core Set)
3x Squire of the Citadel (The Blood of Gondor)
1x Vassal of the Windlord (The Dead Marshes)

Attachment (26)
3x Dagger of Westernesse (The Black Riders)
3x Gondorian Fire (Assault on Osgiliath)
3x Gondorian Shield (The Steward’s Fear)
2x Heir of Mardil (Celebrimbor’s Secret)
1x Protector of Lórien (Core Set)
3x Rod of the Steward (Flight of the Stormcaller)
2x Rohan Warhorse (The Voice of Isengard)
3x Steward of Gondor (Core Set)
1x Sword of Númenor (The Dread Realm)
2x Unexpected Courage (Core Set)
3x Visionary Leadership (The Morgul Vale)

Event (9)
3x A Good Harvest (The Steward’s Fear)
3x Foe-hammer (Over Hill and Under Hill)
3x Sneak Attack (Core Set)

Cards up to Flight of the Stormcaller
Deck built on RingsDB.

Good starting hands include Steward of Gondor and/or Rod of the Steward, Gondorian Shield, or Gondorian Fire. The goal here is to get as many attachments as possible on Mablung until he becomes a beast of an attacker and defender. Behold, a tapestry of awesome from my first turn planning last week:
FortPelennorYes friends, that was a turn one Steward played on Mablung (thanks, Denethor!), followed by Rod of the Steward, Dagger of Westernesse, and Squire of the Citadel. Oh, and in this early iteration I was using Wingfoot instead of Heir of Mardil, so I Good Harvested into that. Crazy! But wait, it gets crazier. Here’s turn four:
IMG_2509That’s eight amazing attachments on our buddy here. In short, Steward and Rod of the Steward will get you all the resource acceleration and card draw you need to turn Mablung into a Gondorian fire-thrower of doom. DOOM! Meanwhile, Denethor can tank attacks on your side of the table, and Beregond, Winged Guardians, and Derndingle Warriors can block for everyone else. Throw in Visionary Leadership and Faramir and you’re granting a whole lot of people willpower boosts. Sneak attack Gandalf is reserved strictly for emergencies, or for that moment when you need to drop your threat. Lock and load Mablung, point him at the bad guys, and have fun!

It should be self-evident: blocking all incoming attacks is really fun, and you’re doing everyone at the table a service. But for me personally, the fun is in having three thematic heroes working in tandem and relying on the synergy granted by the Gondor trait, without going whole hog. In fact, this deck started as a mono-leadership Denethor, Boromir, Faramir deck, but it was full of (boring) ally mustering and sort of either worked or flopped based on how quickly Visionary Leadership and A Very Good Tale hit the table. This second iteration, however, gels a lot better.

I want to really tip my hat to community contributor Seastan and a comment he made inf Episode 98 of Cardboard of the Rings. He was talking about card combos and synergy and talked about how A Good Harvest opens up so many options. To that end, I threw Unexpected Courage and Protector of Lorien into this deck and have been very, very happy with the result. Sword of Numenor was a late add because, when paired with Gondorian Fire, it ends up paying for itself very quickly. These sorts of small efficiencies add up over time.

Well, it’s been a while since I felt confident enough to post a deck idea, but I hope you enjoy it. Until next time, mára mesta: good journeys!

A Letter to the Forgotten Heroes

Dear forgotten heroes of Middle Earth:

It’s not you, it’s me. I say that without a hint of irony. When I first began playing LOTR:LCG in December of 2012, it was a more simple time. I had one child. Now I have four. I used to work four miles from my home. Now I regularly travel for work. In the past 3.5 years, these life changes have led to some interruptions in my gaming, and thus some of you have sat, sleeved and yet never utilized. I want to take some space here to apologize to each of you personally:

Elladan and Elrohir: I have twins myself now, and I know I should address you individually because you *are* individuals. But let’s face it; each of you is useless when used alone. I want to apologize for only building around you once. You deserve better. But that one time, when I had to jam every resource-generating card in the game into two decks to try to make you work, I was sorely disappointed in the outcome. Now that we have three more cycles’ worth of cards to work with, I should really try again.

Fatty Bolger: I tried you in one deck with Spirit Frodo and Dunhere. It was a travesty. I apologize, though I will also say this: I will never build around you again. I’m sorry, but you’re just terrible.

Spirit Pippin: See Fatty Bolger entry above.

Mirlonde: I’ve used you in two decks but haven’t looked back since. I don’t carry within my heart the burning hatred that some people do, but your ability is rather boring, and I like flashier heroes. And you don’t seem to help out Silvan decks at all. My apologies for not giving you another try, but I probably won’t change my mind, as I can’t think of a more boring ability than yours.

Brand, Son of Bain: I can safely say I have never built a deck with you in it. Perhaps once the Siege of Minas Tirith is released, because I like the idea of the grandson of Bard the Bowman traveling to Gondor to kill orcs from the walls of Minas Tirith, but not until then. I will say this, though: I have admired you from afar when playing with newbs who only have the Shadows of Mirkwood cycle. You’re cool, but other heroes are more interesting to me at the moment. Also, it looks like you smell something stanky in your picture.

Rossiel: You’re beautiful and green and surrounded by weird magic, and your ability is awesome, but I don’t see a lot of use for you in solo or two-player formats, which I play the most frequently. You’re like an exotic foreign exchange student in one of my college classes; you’re amazing, but I’m way too scared to talk to you for fear it won’t work out.

Well, that’s it for now, forgotten heroes of Middle Earth! Consider this a breakup letter of sorts. Again, it’s not you, it’s me. Maybe if cirumstances change we’ll get back together, but for now…let’s just be friends, okay? (And by that, I mean we won’t be spending much, if any time together. Read between the lines, yo.)