Nobles in Disguise

Inspiration
As soon as Tactics Eowyn was spoiled, I knew I wanted to build a secrecy deck around her. While Flame of the West was on the boat, I kept constructing this deck in my head, first pairing her with Hobbits, then with Hirluin the Fair. However, the release of Leadership Denethor changed my thinking. His setup ability of +2 resources allows a secrecy deck to get out Resourceful quickly, while still playing cheap allies and attachments on the first turn. After sleeving Flame of the West last week, I built this deck and took it against the Fords of Isen, Dunland Trap, and Three Trials quests. It did admirably in solo play.

noblesindisguise

Secret Nobles
Total Cards: 52
Starting Threat: 19

Heroes (3)
Denethor (Flight of the Stormcaller)
Éowyn (The Flame of the West)
Glorfindel (Foundations of Stone)

Allies (20)
2x Azain Silverbeard (Flight of the Stormcaller)
2x Bofur (Over Hill and Under Hill)
3x Derndingle Warrior (Escape from Mount Gram)
3x Envoy of Pelargir (Heirs of Númenor)
3x Galadriel’s Handmaiden (Celebrimbor’s Secret)
2x Grimbold (The Flame of the West)
2x Legolas (The Treason of Saruman)
3x Westfold Horse-breeder (The Voice of Isengard)

Attachments (24)
2x Armored Destrier (Temple of the Deceived)
3x Gondorian Shield (The Steward’s Fear)
2x Heir of Mardil (Celebrimbor’s Secret)
2x Herugrim (The Treason of Saruman)
2x Light of Valinor (Foundations of Stone)
3x Resourceful (The Watcher in the Water)
2x Rivendell Blade (Road to Rivendell)
2x Rod of the Steward (Flight of the Stormcaller)
2x Snowmane (The Land of Shadow)
1x Steed of Imladris (Across the Ettenmoors)
3x Steward of Gondor (Core Set)

Events (8)
2x A Test of Will (Core Set)
3x Elrond’s Counsel (The Watcher in the Water)
3x Foe-hammer (Over Hill and Under Hill)

SIDEBOARD

Attachments (4)

2x Dúnedain Cache (The Dead Marshes)
2x In Service of the Steward (Flight of the Stormcaller)

Events (2)
2x Captain’s Wisdom (The Thing in the Depths)

Deck built on RingsDB.
Cards up to The Flame of the West

Strategy
In this deck, a good starting hand consists of either Steward of Gondor or Resourceful to jumpstart resource generation. The first copy of either needs to go on Eowyn, since this deck leans toward expensive Tactics cards.  Any other resource generation should be played on Glorfindel, to pay for Herugrim and questing allies. If you can find either Steward of Gondor or Resourceful in that starting hand, everything else should fall into place rather quickly. An early Light of Valinor or Snowmane will get you action advantage, while Herugrim, Rivendell Blade, Armored Destrier, or Gondorian Shield will get combat well in hand.

Eowyn quickly becomes the powerhouse of this deck. Charge her up with Snowmane, Herugrim, Steward of Gondor, and Heir of Mardil, and she’s nigh unstoppable. Quest successfully with her for four, ready her up with Snowmane’s response, swing with Herugrim for 5 attack, and then trigger Steward and Heir for a second attack. Combine her with Legolas ally plus Rivendell blade, and you’ll be killing and drawing whatever you need.

Denethor clearly takes a back seat in this deck. He is really only there for a quick first turn start, after which I usually play Rod of the Steward on him and let him help with card draw. Once Eowyn has the Gondor trait through Steward of Gondor, you can also spin extra resources to her, though she will rarely need them.

Regarding allies, a few thoughts: In an original iteration of this deck, I had 3x Errand-riders, but I found that resource-smoothing could be accomplished by playing off of the Noble trait, which all three heroes share. Bofur and Grimbold might seem like slightly odd choices, but since Eowyn will have plenty of Tactics resources through Steward of Gondor and/or Resourceful, they become beefy Willpower allies and give you built in weapon-tutoring and attack cancellation if needed. Azain Silverbeard was thrown in just for fun–with him dealing direct damage and Legolas and Glorfindel wielding Rivendell blades, you can take down many, many enemies.

While this deck was built for solo play, with a few tweaks, it can be adapted to multiplayer use. Consider cutting Steward if some other deck needs it more, substituting Captain’s Wisdom and In Service of the Steward; this allows you to exhaust Denethor to pick up resources and then transfer them to Eowyn when needed. Also, consider packing Dunedain Cache to give Glorfindel and Eowyn ranged without sacrificing a restricted slot.

The Reward
In the end, this deck provides an interesting mix of powered-up and utility heroes. It’s unlikely you’ll end the game with a large army of allies, but rather a mix of allies and attachments that gives more of that “fellowship” feel. The payoff comes when you have Eowyn and Glorfindel questing for seven and still dishing out massive damage to tough allies. I hope you enjoy playing the deck as much as I enjoyed putting it together. Until next time, mára mesta: good journeys!

Net-Decking Guilt

Now that I am blogging about Our Beloved Game, albeit infrequently, I feel the pressure to bring my “A game” to every deckbuilding session and quest. It has definitely changed the way I feel about LOTR:LCG, and I’m not yet sure if that’s a good or a bad thing. However, when I’m just too mentally tired to build a deck, I’ll peruse RingsDB for something cool, print out the list, and assemble it while watching television. Then I can save my limited mental energy for actually playing whatever quest I have set up. That leads to net-decking guilt.

Net-decking guilt (n): The feeling a LCG or CCG aficionado gets of having failed in his or her obligation as a player when he or she creates a deck from online sources. Synonyms: net-decking self-reproach, net-decking shame

This week was a study in net-decking guilt. My lovely wife knew I hadn’t been to the Fantasy Flight Games Center in the last few months, so she told me to take Sunday afternoon and head up there. Since I was going to be playing with MD, I did what I usually do: build a pair of decks that work well together and pack the most recent quests. On the night I had set aside to deckbuild, I was mentally fatigued and not ready to create two awesome decks. So I net-decked. And in the one case, I felt terrible about it, and in the other, I felt awesome about it:

Case 1: I threw together Denethor and Sons from the Fantasy Flight Games site. When I piloted it that evening to test it out, I instantly felt net-decking guilt. It was an ally swarm deck that might have been fun to play if I had crafted it myself, but since I had pulled the list off the ‘net, piloting it was boring. There aren’t any interesting tricks, and I felt bad I had put this together.

Case 2: I drifted around on RingsDB until I found Seastan’s Everything Costs Two deck. I also piloted it that evening to test it out, and I loved it. There were interesting choices to be made every turn, and the thing got set up so fast I was giggling with glee. Seriously. My wife asked me what was so funny a few times. There were a lot of fun nuances and so many awesome tricks to be discovered that I felt really good about my choice.

On Sunday I headed to the Games Center with both decks in my backpack, and when MD heard about them, he just ignored the Denethor and Sons deck (probably didn’t sound interesting) and let me play Everything Costs Two while he piloted a Erestor, Haldir, Cirdan deck with a ton of Ent allies. We had a blast. I played Seastan’s deck three times and was still learning new things about it on the last turn of the last quest.

So, why the guilt in the first case, and not in the second? It really does come down to choices. I could have put Denethor and Sons together myself, and I would have been proud of my ability to choose the right cards in order to muster the might of Gondor. However, when I took the easy way out and just built it from someone else’s list, there wasn’t enough depth to the choices to make it fun to pilot. In the second case, I probably never could have put together that deck on my own, and it was full of cards I never play. Because of this, playing it felt like a discovery of sorts. I have a lot of respect for Mithlond Sea-Watcher and The Evening Star now, whereas before I might have just passed them by.

SO. NO MORE NET-DECKING GUILT. That is, as long as I use RingsDB to broad my horizons. Thanks for the awesome deck, Seastan.

Oh, and on my way out of the Games Center, I saw this on the menu. Totally unrelated, but funny all the same:

IMG_0221

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

Inspiration
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.

Strategy
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!

Reward
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!