Yes, I know that this is ridiculously premature, and highly speculative, but I wanted to start a conversation about hero pairings and deck construction. The following decks have been designed with the assumption that they will be played in two, three or four player games. In addition, I find multi-sphere decks more interesting, in part because they open up far more potential for deck building, and, I think, will be stronger in two player games. Each deck will run, approximately 32 cards in the main sphere and 16 in the secondary, and 2 neutral allies (which the exception of “Men of Middle Earth, which will be closer to 29/19/2). Given the deck size, I am assuming two starters.
So, here are my initial deck concepts.
Elves – 29 Threat
Denethor - Lore (1W, 1A, 3D, 3H, 8T)
Glorfindel – Lore (3W, 3A, 1D, 5H, 12T)
Legolas – Tactics (1W, 3A, 1D, 4H, 9T)
Yes, yes, I know Denthor isn’t an elf, but we only have so many heroes, and he pairs amazingly well with his elven friends. . This basic game plan with this deck is to take advantage of high stats. Send Glorfindel off questing, or bring him to bear against a particularly tough foe. Denethor is one of the best reserve defenders in the game with both a high defense, and the ability to exhaust for a special if no foe appears. Legolas makes for a great attack (especially in multi-player), and actually gives your progress for killing.
The deck will supplement this basic strategy with a deck full of combat tricks. Feints and Forest Snares, and other one-shot cards abound., to all the Legolas and Glorfindel to attack without fear of consequence. The Lore sphere also allows for card drawing, so the hope is, where a mono-tactics deck would run low on cards as the game progresses, the lore deck allows you to keep a hand full of nasty surprises. In addition, Glorfindel and various lore powers give you healing to keep your heroes in the fight.
Dwarves – 29 Threat
Gimli – Tactics (2W, 2A, 2D, 5H, 11T)
Gloin – Leadership (2W, 2A, 1D, 4H, 9T)
Thalin – Tactics (1W, 2A, 2D, 5H, 9T)
The dwarven characters, by nature, want to grind down your opponents. Keep thalin questing, so you can start wearing down monsters that come their way. Gloin wants to put himself in danger, especially once your teammate has ways to heal you, while gimli wants to get bloodied once or twice and turn into an unstoppable killing machine.
While the elves focus on combat tricks, healing and card advantage, the dwarves eschew such cards. Instead, they will focus on building a bevy of long term assets. The dwarves will be gathering axes, strapping on gondrian plate mail, recruiting hoards of allies, and generally focusing on the acquisition of permanent, dwarvy assets. Dwarves, by nature not only want to accumulate stuff, but they get salty when they lose something, so cards that give a boost when some of your permanents are destroyed are also a must. That’s not to say that they have no combat tricks, dwarves now the value of a moral boosting wa rcry, and aren’t so scrupulous that they won’t have one of their many allies launch an Ambush, but, in general, they want focus on acquiring vast piles of resources.
Men of Middle Earth – 28 Threat
Aragorn – Leadership (2W, 3A, 2D, 5H, 12T)
Dunhere – Spirit (1W, 2A, 1D, 4H, 8T)
Theodred - Leadership (1W, 2A, 1D, 4H, 8T)
As long as Theodred constantly rides around of his horse chasing quest after quest, the men of middle earth abound with resource tokens. Theodred’s ability synergizes perfectly with Aragorn; you can send the heir of Isildur questing and constantly untap him, and still generate three resources a turn. If you are able to find Celebrian’s Stone, or send Dunhere Question, the deck also has more flexibility in resources than other decks, since it can generate Spirit Resources and Leadership resources at the same rate. As for Dunhere, I remain skeptical of his ability. I fear that foes her can kill will engage rather than remaining in the staging area, and the beasts left in the staging area will prove to tough for him to seriously injury. I will test it with him, but if we get another solid spirit hero, he may find himself on the sidelines.
The deck will focus on protecting and empowering your ally. You can keep threat levels low, toss out helpful boosts, and protect your allies from attack (through Aragorn’s Sentinel ability, if nothing else). The deck will try to include a number of cards which allow you to press through locations and get progress tokens on the quest. More than any other deck, the Men of Middle Earth want to pour cards onto Aragorn to turn him into an unbeatable champion. You want him both questing and fighting on every turn, so he should get loaded down with every helpful permanent you can find.
Women of Middle Earth – Threat 25 or 16+X
Eowyn - Spirit (4W, 1A, 1D,3H, 9T)
Eleanor – Spirit (1W, 1A, 2D, 3H, 7T)
Beravor or Bilbo Baggins (1W, 1A, 2D, 2H, 9T)
How these heroes would work together is a bit of a mystery, since I have yet to see the states or abilities of Beravor (does anyone know these?). In any case, she may be quickly replaced by Bilbo, whose ability to draw cards is just ridiculously. You game plan is fairly simple; take advantage of Eowyn’s ridiculous willpower, as well as her power, and try to plow through quests as quickly as possible. Make sure your threat stays low, since your partner should be doing most (all?) of the fighting. You will focus on healing your ally, even bringing back fallen heroes, providing various forms of support, and generating occasional card advantage for when you need to push Eowyn over the top to finish quests. Most of all, try not to get noticed, because all of your heroes are quite squishy.
Let me know what you think about this game plan.