After another great Sunday playing our beloved game at the Fantasy Flight Game Center has come and gone, and I was so pleased with the performance of my deck that I just had to share it. This deck shines in a four-player game and helped my teammates and I defeat A Shadow of the Past and the Treachery of Rhudaur handily.
As many skilled players of the game have pointed out in the past few years, four-player LOTR:LCG really lives and dies by everyone playing a particular role. You need a strong questing deck (or two!) and a strong combat deck. Meanwhile, one or two folks must play support in some way. Since multiple players can take on enemies, some of the combat responsibilities can be shared. However, since there can only be one active location at a time, location lock is a real threat. At the same time, my experience is that a lot of people find the travel phase to be one of the least interesting portions of the game, and very few people want to play the “travel deck”. My goal in building this deck was to make it fun (and easy!) to travel. To that end…I give you Swift and Strong Steeds.
Total Cards: 50
1x Eowyn (Core Set)
1x Theoden (The Treason of Saruman)
1x Galadriel (Celebrimbor’s Secret)
3x Escort from Edoras (A Journey to Rhosgobel)
3x Northern Tracker (Core Set)
2x Eomund (Conflict at the Carrock)
2x Westfold Horse-Breaker (The Hunt for Gollum)
3x Westfold Horse-breeder (The Voice of Isengard)
1x Elfhelm (The Dead Marshes)
2x West Road Traveller (Return to Mirkwood)
3x Gamling (The Land of Shadow)
3x Hama (The Treason of Saruman)
2x The Riddermark’s Finest (The Hills of Emyn Muil)
1x Protector of Lorien (Core Set)
1x Asfaloth (Foundations of Stone)
2x Herugrim (The Treason of Saruman)
3x Snowmane (The Land of Shadow)
2x Unexpected Courage (Core Set)
1x Silver Harp (The Treachery of Rhudaur)
2x Nenya (Celebrimbor’s Secret)
3x Mirror of Galadriel (Celebrimbor’s Secret)
2x Thror’s Key (On the Doorstep)
2x Steed of Imladris (Across the Ettenmoors)
3x A Test of Will (Core Set)
2x Ride to Ruin (The Hills of Emyn Muil)
1x Astonishing Speed (Return to Mirkwood)
Side Quest: 1
1x Double Back (Escape from Mount Gram)
Though this deck contains no resource acceleration, the discount you receive from Spirit Theoden is enough to ensure that you can always play one or two Rohan allies a turn. I mulligan for either Nenya, the Mirror of Galadriel, or Gamling, since the first can get you a Willpower boost, the second can let you go fishing for cards, or the third can help recycle those Rohan allies that are getting discarded all the time.
As the game progresses, Steed of Imladris, The Riddermark’s Finest, Asfaloth, and Northern Tracker can all allow you to rain down progress tokens upon various locations, clearing the dreaded location lock that can be the end of so many multiplayer games. I’ve found that the Riddermark’s Finest to be incredibly helpful in this regard, since when you discard it, you can drop two progress on a location, then use Gamling to bring it back to hand, and do it again next turn. Meanwhile, Westfold Horse Breeder will let you go fishing for three all-important mounts: Steed of Imladris, Asfaloth, and Snowmane, all of who supercharge the deck in various ways.
By the late game, it’s common to have out a host of strong Rohan allies, all of whom are getting recycled as long as you use their abilities sparingly. Theoden and his sword, Herugrim, are laying waste to enemies that engage with you, Galadriel is dishing out Willpower boosts, cards, and threat reduction left and right, and Eowyn is helping the team make it through difficult quest phases with her discard to Willpower conversion. Though this deck doesn’t muster a huge amount of Willpower (I still think Leadership is best for that!) and it’s definitely a second-tier combat deck, you won’t need to be constantly begging the Tactics player for a sentinel block or a ranged attack on your behalf, and other players will be thankful as you clear multiple locations a turn and cancel treacheries through A Test of Will. Go team!
For me, the real reward of this deck is that you can take care of locations in a lot of interesting ways–discarding to Steed of Imladris, placing progress with pinpoint precision with Asfaloth and Steed of Imladris, or using Ride to Ruin to discard an ally and place progress, just to name a few–while also providing questing, cancellation, and combat assistance. Mirror of Galadriel and Westfold Horse Breeder give you two fun tutoring mechanics, and leading the cavalry of Rohan as it does its thing is just plain satisfying.
The real power of this deck showed up this past Sunday, when, in a four-player game of A Shadow of the Past, we had several locations in the staging area and were trying to get to Buckleberry Ferry. However, since all locations must be cleared from the staging area before you can travel to Buckleberry, we were in a bit of a bind. But my Northern Tracker had been prepping several locations for a few turns, and Asfaloth and The Riddermark’s Finest were in play. In one fell swoop, I committed the Northern Tracker, clearing three locations at once, then exhausted the Riddermark’s Finest and Asfaloth to get rid of a location just revealed. Finally, we used Fellowship Frodo’s Ring ability to shuffle another location away, and then we finally quested hard enough to clear the active location (using Eowyn’s discard ability to make up the final progress). So my deck allowed for the clearing of five locations in one turn, and Fellowship Frodo took care of a sixth. Traveling never felt so good!
If you’re headed into a four-player game in the next few weeks, definitely build this one. Better yet, improve upon it and leave a comment. Until next time, mára mesta: good journeys!