There have been recent discussions on the board about the possibility of a single deck that can dominate all of the existing quests. I have a highly effective Spirit/Lore Deck that I wanted to put the deck through its paces, so I decided to play it best of three against every quest in the game. Is this the fabled “on deck”? Probably not, but I wanted to give it a whirl and see how it performed.
The basic concept of the deck is to keep threat low, control the board with counters and powerful synergies, and then race through quests with your vast hand fueling Protector of Lorien. Beravor fuels the cards engine, so she has to come to the dance. Glorfindel [Spirit[ is also central to keeping threat low and controlling the board through a slew of simple combos (he allows Light of Valinor, Asfaloth, and Elrond’s Counsel to function). I have some flexibility for the third hero. Despite the risk that booored will start yelling at me, I chose Eowyn. Frodo and Eleanor might also make good choices, but I want the early game speed Eowyn provides, even though she doesn’t offer much mid to late game.
Henmarth Riversong (x2)
Warden of Healing (x3)
Forest Snare (x1)
Protector of Lorien (x2)
Daeron’s Runes (x3)
Lore of Imladris (x2)
Strider’s Path (x2)
Arwen Undomiel (x3)
Northern Tracker (x3)
Light of Valinor (x3)
Unexpected Courage (x2)
A Test of Will (x3)
Elrond’s Counsel (x3)
Dwarven Tomb (x2)
Hasty Stroke (x2)
The Galadhrim’s Greeting (x3)
Will of the West (x1)
Shadow of the Past (x2)
A Passage through Mirkwood (2 wins [38 and 63] – 0 loses)
Game 1 (win - final score, 38): I get a strong draw that includes Unexpected Courage and two Elrond’s Counsel. Beravor nets me Protector of Lorien and the race is on. I finish the quest on the third turn, and without any of the spiders of Mirkwood even noticing my presence.
Game 2 (win - final score 63): Not a great draw, which keeps the party on the first stage for two turns and means tangling with a Forest Spider. But Runes keeps my deck cycling and Shadows of the Past helps ensure that we keep trudging down the Old Forest Road. This time we have to duke it out with some spiders, but Gandalf shows up at the end to team up with Glorfindel to lay low Ungoliant’s Spawn.
Journey Down the Anduin (2 wins [130 and 96] – 0 loses)
Game 1 (win - final score 130): A Goblin Sniper and Warg hit the table early, start mauling my team. Arwen and a well timed Lore of Imaldris prevent death by a thousand cuts, but the constant attacks leaves Beravor unable to draw cards. After a long slog, Gleowine finally helps me dig out Gandalf. It’s not until turn 10 that I can play him, Once the wizard arrives we smite the troll, and with the help of Shadows of the Past and Asfaloth we stick to the banks the Banks of the Anduin and use Protector of Lorien to race to the conclusion of the quest.
Game 2 (win - final score 96): Once again I get a first turn Warg, but I open with Elrond’s Counsel, Dwarven Tomb (for Counsel), Light of Valinar (all of this made possible by Runes) . I get my card engine going and drop the Troll on turn 5. I race past the the second stage, but get a second Troll and a Marsh Adder on my final draw. They slow me down, but this victory is much more comfortable.
Escape from Dol Goldur (2 wins [235 and 96] – 1 lose)
Game 1 (win - final score, 235): Eowyn starts out as a prisoner, but by turn two I have Unexpected Courage and Asfalath out, followed by Riversong next turn. My threat keeps creeping up, but I manage to stabilize the game with Light and Protector, despite having a growing hoard of enemies that will come crashing down on my at 35 threat. I free Eowyn and Gandalf is able to deal with the Nazghul, but the game almost ends on turn 11 when I hit 35 threat. I top deck 2 Elrond's Counsel to keep going. Turn 13 brings another close call with Ungoliant’s Spawn and Hummerhorns as a Shadow Card, but then I start bring a stream of Trackers to the board to crush the orc masses.
Game 2 (lose – turn 9): Glorfindel is prisoner, which worries me since Asfaloth was the key to the first game. I get hit with Eyes of the Forest in set up, losing half my hand. I get out Unexpected Courage and Warden of Healing, but a Cavern Guardian puts early pressure on me, and Caught in a Web keeps me from replenishing my hand. I approach the Tower Gate at the wrong time, and get hit with Dol Goldur Orcs, followed by Ungoliant’s Spawn and Hummerhorns as Shadow Cards. My few allies die, and my threat shoots up high enough that a Beast Master crushes my small party
Game 3 (win - final score 96): I am unsure I can win with anyone besides Eowyn as the prisoner, so I don’t draw a random hero this time around. The opening table has two locations, Dol Goldur Orcs, and Cavern Guardians, but I have Light of Valinar and Asfaloth in my opening hand, and draw Unexpected Courage turn two. I get slammed with threat after the first turn (it jumps to 31), but by the start of turn three I have cleared all of the initial threats and control the board. My card draw engine gets going, I play Elrond’s Counsel five times to control threat (go dwarven tomb!), and I simply out race the Nazgul, finishing the last two quest stages in only two turns. Wow.
Hunt for Gollum (2 wins [80 and 95] – 0 loses)
Game 1 (win - final score 80): Between Old Wives Tales, the East Bank, and the Old Ford (as a shadow card), I can’t get allies onto the table. But I get the full load of attachments in the first four turns (Glorfindel has Asfaloth and Light of Valinar, Eowyn has Protector of Lorien and Beravor has two Unexpected Courage). Add one Northern Tracker to the mix, and we ride roughshod over the location heavy encounter deck.
Game 2 (win - final score 95): I get so enthralled with Asfaloth and Elrond’s Counsel, that I keep a hand that I should probably have thrown back. I get swarmed with three Hunters from Mordor; they can’t find me because of my low threat, but the bog down my progress. Glordindel eventually lures one into a Forest Snare, I get Unexpected Courage and Gleowine on the table, and dump my whole hand to Protector of Lorien for three straight turns. Eventually, we find Gollum’s trail.
Conflict at the Carrack (2 wins [119 and 162] – 0 loses)
Game 1 (win – final score 119): A first turn Riversong ensures that I am in complete control of the game, while the Warden of Healing shuts down the threat from the early Warg and Sniper who harry me. I build up slowly, keeping threat well below the range of the trolls. Eventually, Beravor is able to use Protector of Lorien to stave off the trolls, while Glorfindel and Eflhelm lead an army of Trackers to slay the fearsome monsters one by one. I forget to use Shadows of the Past on what should have been the last turn, and draw into a Hill troll, but it only prolongs the inevitable.
Game 2 (win – final score 162): The game begins with Eowyn thrown in a sack, crippling my resource generation and threatening to send my threat through the roof. Fortunately, Arwen and Glorfindel (with light of the Valinar and Protector of Lorien) stabilize progress. I end up drawing my entire deck using that to my advantage to recycle a steady stream of Gandalfs, Elrond’s Counsel and jetsam used to fuel Protector.
The deck exceed my high expectations, going 10-1. Will the deck struggle with Rhosgobel? Of course it will. The attachment destruction and lower engagement values in Darrowdelf will also certainly give it problems. I doubt I would win two of every three games against Escape from Dol Goldur, but I didn’t need dream draws from the encounter deck to beat that scenario. It’s simply a very strong deck.
In terms of construction, in 11 games I never once played Strider’s Path, so that card should be replaced with something else (Burning Brand, perhaps?). I only played Lore of Imaldris once, but it saved the game, and I will need it to have any hope of Rhosgobel. Given the number of ways I have to use dead cards, I wouldn’t take it out. Forest Snare also only hit the table in one game.
The big surprise to me was the The Galadhrim’s Greeting. In 11 games, I only played it once or twice. It used to be a staple card in my Spirit/Lore Strategies, but Elrond’s Counsel is far superior, and at the rate this deck cycles I don’t know if the high resource cost of Greeting makes it worth including. The deck’s main weakness is low resource generation, so I may shift to something cheaper, but I have no idea what that would be. So, is this the one deck? More to come soon, but if you have questions about how the deck works, comments or criticisms, please post them.