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!

The North Rides to War

Inspiration
After the Armored Destrier came out in the Temple of the Deceived AP, I finally saw what the solo Dúnedain deck had been needing for so long: a way to make one of fabled northern Rangers a steady defender to keep the hordes of Mordor in check. Last week I promised a solo deck using the Destrier and Amarthiúl, and today I’m ready to deliver! After testing it against several quests old and new (everything from Journey Along the Anduin to The Thing in the Depths), it’s time to reveal the power of two Dúnedain and one Noldor lord and his ring.

passing_of_the_grey_company_by_jeiwo

The North Rides to War
Total Cards: 50
Starting Threat: 34

Heroes (3)
Amarthiúl (The Battle of Carn Dûm)
Aragorn (The Lost Realm)
Círdan the Shipwright (The Grey Havens)

Allies (20)
2x Arwen Undómiel (The Watcher in the Water)
3x Dúnedain Hunter (The Lost Realm)
2x Fornost Bowman (The Dread Realm)
2x Gandalf (Over Hill and Under Hill)
3x Ranger of Cardolan (The Wastes of Eriador)
2x Silvan Refugee (The Drúadan Forest)
3x Weather Hills Watchman (The Lost Realm)
3x Westfold Horse-breeder (The Voice of Isengard)

Attachment (21)
2x Armored Destrier (Temple of the Deceived)
2x Celebrían’s Stone (Core Set)
3x Dagger of Westernesse (The Black Riders)
3x Dúnedain Warning (Conflict at the Carrock)
3x Light of Valinor (Foundations of Stone)
3x Narya (The Grey Havens)
2x Rohan Warhorse (The Voice of Isengard)
1x Steed of Imladris (Across the Ettenmoors)
2x Unexpected Courage (Core Set)

Event (9)
3x A Good Harvest (The Steward’s Fear)
3x A Test of Will (Core Set)
3x Elrond’s Counsel (The Watcher in the Water)

Deck built on RingsDB.

Strategy
In this deck, a good starting hand consists of either the Armored Destrier or the Westfold Horse-breeder to go fetch it, and, depending on the quest you’re playing, a few cheap allies to spit out early on. Cirdan is standing by to provide early questing support and access to cheap willpower like Arwen and Silvan Refugee. Engaging one weak enemy early is preferred, since Amarthiúl will need access to Tactics early. Time A Good Harvest so that you can drop out a lot of allies and attachments from either Leadership or Spirit. Contrary to what’s printed on the card, I ignore Aragorn as a target for Celebrian’s Stone and use it instead to boost Cirdan’s willpower to a mighty six.

In the mid-game, getting Gandalf 2.0 out will get you four more questing, plus beefy defense and attack if you ready him with Narya.

Above all, getting that Armored Destrier is key, since with it Amarthiúl can block and discard shadow cards with ease, all while gaining his engagement buffs.

The Reward
This deck is rather straightforward in its approach, but the reward is in finally being able to get good use out of Amarthiúl’s two engagement buffs consistently without being overwhelmed by enemies. Laugh with grim delight as the forces of the North ride roughshod over the forces of the Dark Lord. Until next time, mára mesta: good journeys!

A Closer Look at the Armored Destrier

With the recent release of Temple of the Deceived this week, we now have access to the Armored Destrier, a powerful Leadership attachment that is already making its way into  my decks:mec50-armored-destrier

At first glance, the Destrier provides situational readying. For a cost of two Leadership resources, you get a readying attachment that can only be placed on two types of heroes and that requires you to defend two attacks in one turn. My very first thought was, “Why wouldn’t I just use Unexpected Courage?” But let’s consider that second sentence, “Then, discard a shadow card…” Ah ha! Now, we actually have readying and shadow cancellation packed into one card. This was enough to pique my interest for sure.

Although the picture on the card shows us a warhorse of Dol Amroth (note the swan motif on the breastplate), which implies we should be attaching this card to Gondor heroes, I actually like it best in a Dúnedain deck. At the conclusion of the Angmar Awakened, I had a lot of respect for how the trait had been fleshed out, but it could still be incredibly risky to engage multiple enemies in order to trigger the Dúnedain bonuses. This can be mitigated somewhat by splashing Lore and running traps, but that dilutes a pure Dúnedain deck quite a bit. Halbarad, Amarthiúl, and either Leadership or Tactics Aragorn provide a strong lineup. However, I’ve had trouble in the past with Amarthiul. First, if you use him as a defender, you waste his 3 Attack, which is a shame. Also, keeping two enemies engaged to trigger Amarthiúl’s two abilities can be a real challenge:

amarthic3bal

The Armored Destrier fixes both of these problems! The readying and shadow cancellation allows you to engage two weaker enemies early in the game and block them with ease. Later in the game, after he has been buffed by Dúnedain Warnings or other defense boosts, he can take on larger enemies. Also, since the Armored Destrier’s response doesn’t require you to block the second enemy’s attack with the hero it’s attached to, you can block the first attack, discard a shadow card from the second enemy, block with someone else, and then put Amarthiúl’s 3 Attack to good use. I was playing around with a Dúnedain deck just a few days ago and was amazed at how the Destrier takes a lot of the pressure off in the early game. Gone was the panic I used to experience in turns 1-3 while I set up Amarthiúl as a defender.

Next week I’ll share a great solo Dúnedain deck that features the Armored Destrier as a key component. Until next time, mára mesta: good journeys!