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!

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!

Voices at the Door: Time to Build a Ranged/Sentinel Deck

Every few weeks I head over to the Fantasy Flight Game Center for this weekly LOTR:LCG meetup. It’s a great chance to meet other players in the area, play quests together, and see how other folks are building decks. Because of the large group size, we are playing 3-4 player games, which is a new experience for me. Luckily, the gentlemen over at the Grey Company have prepared me for these larger games, which led to the creation of my Swift and Strong Steeds deck. I always pack this deck (or something like it) so I can be “location control guy,” which is usually appreciated.

However, last weekend I was reminded that I need to build a good Ranged/Sentinel deck and pack that as well. I played alongside paired Dwarf decks last weekend, while I ran Arwen, Graima, and Cirdan in a location control deck. We gelled pretty well together, but it became apparent throughout the afternoon that my deck’s inability to deal with stronger enemies, when combined with the Dwarf decks’ lack of Ranged and Sentinel, meant that my allies were being wiped off the board quite often. Right now I’m thinking of a Beregond/Legolas/Erestor lineup, so I can quickly dig for lots of strong Tactics attachments while still dishing out healing, but I’m not sure if that will work. Stay tuned for a decklist, which I’ll bring to next week’s event.

Very short post this week as I contemplate what that deck might look like…Until next time, mára mesta: good journeys!