Adventures in Middle Earth

Hey everybody!

Following on from writing my Shadows of Mirkwood blog a while ago, and my recent foray back into playing The Lord of the Rings, I’ve been looking at my decks to see if they’re as good as they can be. As a consummate theme player, I’m not interested in playing rush-type decks – indeed, when I’ve played such in other games, I’ve always felt hollow. I’ve had five decks made up for at least a year, and the last time they were looked at in any depth was about as long ago, so I’m feeling the time is right for some adventures in deckbuilding!

The other day, you might remember I mentioned playing Passage through Mirkwood twice, and failing at my first attempt? Well, that was with my Rohan deck, which has been having the odd card added to it since the Ringmaker cycle started giving us new Rohan cards, but in very much a piecemeal fashion. So I’ve taken a closer look at how the deck works as a whole. My Rohan deck is tri-sphere: Théoden (tactics), Théodred (leadership) and Dúnhere (spirit). However, there are barely any leadership cards in there, so it might as well be dual-sphere. I was wondering why I kept pulling Songs of Battle and Parting Gifts! The premise of this deck, then, is to quest with Théodred and use his ability to add resources to the other guys. If Théoden can have a Steed of the Mark, he becomes really useful, for questing and attacking – an extra resource each turn from his son makes this a really nice little combo! However, including a hero simply for his effect, and moving his resources around, is a really high gambit in a game like this, and I’d imagine the effect might not be worthwhile in a lot of other scenarios. So I’m considering swapping him out for Éomer, who is very useful with his personal attachment, Firefoot, or Háma, who is cheaper but whose ability isn’t as useful, given the amount of tactics events in my deck. At any rate, the deck also contains a lot of Eagles cards – tactics all – so I feel a move back to dual-sphere might be in order.

I had a Hobbit deck made up that was just awful, so have disassembled that and put it all away. I might come to that again, but probably when we have the Dúnedain cards from The Lost Realm, as I feel there will be some nice synergy there. I was a playtester for this expansion, and the Angmar Awakened cycle that will follow, so I’m kinda biased on this point. Obviously, I’m still under NDA, so won’t be spoiling anything. However, the preview article linked above does describe how the new Dúnedain cards work in terms of drawing enemies to them, which I think will work well in pulling focus away from Hobbit cards, in order to allow them to progress on the quest. We’ll see how that works in practice, though!

I’ve had what I call an all-purpose deck set up since Heirs of Númenor came out, with some new cards added as and when. This is the deck that I’d taken all the way through the Against the Shadow cycle with some success, but it has become a bit lumbering. It uses Boromir (leadership), Aragorn (lore) and Glorfindel (spirit), but it seems that the amount of tricks needed to make the deck work, combined with some staple cards, have made it too much hassle. I may make a record of what’s in it, then disassemble that one, too.

However, Glorfindel brings me onto something I’ve wanted to try for a long time with this game: an Elf deck. I’m not a huge Elf fan – my mate Tony is far more Elven than I am – but some of the coolest characters in this story are Elves, I think. With the new cards coming from the Ringmaker cycle, I’m thinking this should be a very definite move for me, anyway! So Celeborn (leadership), Elrond (lore), and for now, Glorfindel, while I await Galadriel (spirit) – if only because it means I can get to play with the rings Vilya and Nenya. There are quite a few good elven cards in tactics, of course, but Elrond’s ability can pay for the allies, and if it becomes too much hassle, I suppose I can always swap out Celeborn for Legolas – off the top of my head, I don’t think there are very many good elven cards in leadership, but I would love to try out a deck with the husband-and-wife team!

My Gondor/Outlands deck is fairly decent for now, though I think it too could use some paring-down. Faramir (lore), Hirluin (leadership) and Éowyn (spirit) make for a heady mix, of course, and the progression of fantastic allies can make this deck really fun to play with. Outlands decks, of course, have come under fire for “breaking” the game, but I’m generally not lucky enough to ever get such combos set up. Probably because of the size of the deck. So yeah, some revision might be needed there!

The last deck I have built and ready is my Dwarf deck. Dáin Ironfoot (leadership), Ori (lore) and Óin (spirit), they have rarely failed me thus far! I had a very memorable Adventures with Dwarves day back in March this year, where I took this deck through some of the Dwarrowdelf cycle. There hasn’t been a massive amount of dwarf cards released since the Hobbit Saga boxes, so I’m fairly certain this deck can remain as it stands right now.

Anyway, that’s enough of my rambling thoughts on deckbuilding – such as they were – for now. Once I’ve done some fiddling with these decks and have tried them out, I’m sure I’ll be back!