Deck-Craft: Secondary, Tertiary Elves

Inspiration
In The Lord of the Rings, there are elves and then there are elves. Arwen and Haldir are clearly secondary characters, whereas Erestor is a tertiary character, showing up only in the chapter “The Council of Elrond” and offering some sage advice. However, these three characters have all become strong heroes in our beloved card game in the last eighteen months, and so when MD and I decided to play a few quests at Level Up Games, I was really excited to put these three together. This deck performed admirably alongside a more combat-focused deck featuring Legolas, Bifur, and Beregond. So, without further ado, here’s the decklist for Secondary, Tertiary Elves.
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Total Cards: 54

Heroes: 3
1x Arwen Undómiel (The Dread Realm)
1x Erestor (The Treachery of Rhudaur)
1x Haldir of Lórien (Trouble in Tharbad)

Allies: 19
2x Galadhrim Weaver (The Treachery of Rhudaur)
2x Galadhrim Minstrel (Trouble in Tharbad)
2x Galadhrim Healer (The Dread Realm)
2x Silvan Refugee (The Drúadan Forest)
2x Curious Brandybuck (The Wastes of Eriador)
2x Erebor Hammersmith (Core Set)
2x Quickbeam (The Treason of Saruman)
2x Galdor of the Havens (The Treachery of Rhudaur)
2x Elrond (The Road Darkens)
1x Gildor Inglorion (The Hills of Emyn Muil)

Attachments: 19
1x Thror’s Map (Over Hill and Under Hill)
2x Silver Harp (The Treachery of Rhudaur)
2x Unexpected Courage (Core Set)
2x Wingfoot (The Nin-in-Eilph)
1x Protector of Lorien (Core Set)
3x Song of Battle (The Dead Marshes)
1x Steed of Imladris (Across the Ettenmoors)
3x Elven Spear (The Treachery of Rhudaur)
2x Lembas (Trouble in Tharbad)
2x Rivendell Blade (Road to Rivendell)

Events: 14
2x Elrond’s Counsel (The Watcher in the Water)
2x Power of Orthanc (The Voice of Isengard)
2x Fair and Perilous (Across the Ettenmoors)
2x A Test of Will (Core Set)
2x Will of the West (Core Set)
2x Elven-light (The Dread Realm)
2x Mithrandir’s Advice (The Steward’s Fear)

Side Quests: 2
1x Scout Ahead (The Wastes of Eriador)
1x Double Back (Escape from Mount Gram)

Strategy
Like my last deck, Swift and Strong Steeds, there is no resource acceleration here, except what’s provided by Arwen. One interesting thing about her is she can be splashed in a deck to allow you to spam out 1-cost Spirit cards or play a 2-cost Spirit card right away on the first turn, provided you are willing to “convert” a card to a resource through discarding. In this deck, she can also discard a card to add a resource to Haldir or Erestor, allowing for a 3-cost Lore card to be played on the first turn. This provides a lot of versatility, as more expensive Lore cards that might not usually make it into a two-hero Lore deck are now viable.

In my starting hand, I like to look for a copy of Song of Battle so that the Elven weapons (Rivendell Blade, Elven Spear) can be put on Haldir right away. In hindsight, I would probably swap out Elven Spear for Bow of the Galadhrim, but I wanted to try it out. That massive ten-card starting hand is a lot of fun to play with. Here’s a look at what my heroes looked like at the start of Turn Two a few nights ago, with Quickbeam peeking in below:IMG_1839
This deck is not straightforward, since you need to think of every card as a potential resource if it’s discarded, or as a willpower, defense, or attack boost if it’s discarded to boost Protector of Lorien or Elven Spear, respectively. Keep in mind too that there’s no reliable way to keep hold of a card like A Test of Will until Galdor comes out, so you need to adopt a “use them or lose them” mentality. By turn three or four, however, Erestor’s draw ability should let you spam out cheap attachments to get attack, defense, willpower, and readying out of your heroes, and you should either have a swarm of cheap questers such a Silvan Refugee, Curious Brandybuck, and Galadrhim Weaver on the board, or a small band of beefier allies like Quickbeam, Galdor, and Gildor. Either way, you can muster significant willpower, chump block, and slay enemies with a powered up Haldir pretty easily. Meanwhile, playing cards like Unexpected Courage and Lembas across the table should ensure that you get a sentinel block from your fellow players every now and again.

A fair warning: I slapped this deck together in five minutes before heading to the game store, so I recognize that there might be better card choices out there, but I was truly surprised how well it worked against The Dead Marshes.

Reward
The fun factor in this deck comes from the fact that Arwen and Erestor make me think about deck construction and play in very different ways. There’s really no need to include three copies of key cards, since you’ll get to them easily. That allowed me the space to put in a lot of what I consider “fun” cards like Curious Brandybuck, just to see how they work. So if you feel hampered by needing consistency all the time, and you feel like as a result many of those neat but “not quite top tier” cards are staying in your binder, play with Erestor and Arwen to give yourself some breathing space to test off-the-wall cards.

Happy new year, readers, and until next time, mára mesta: good journeys!

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