Built with 2 core sets and every thing up to and including HoN.
Starting threat: 24
Gleowine x 3
Master of the forge x3
Arwen Undomiel x3
Gandalf (OHaUH) x3
A Burning Brand x3
Thror’s Map x3
Fast hitch x3
Unexpected courage x2
Light of Valinor x3
Ancient Mathom x3
Song of Wisdom x3
Good Meal x3
The Galadhrim's Greeting x3
A test of will x3
Elrond's Counsel x3
Shadow of the Past x3
I build up Frodo with attachments. If I can, I'll get 3 fast hitches, song of wisdom, and burning brand on him. Of course he'll also get the Good meals and play the Galadhrim's greeting with them. All this is primarily to defend the smaug card that attacks during the staging step, Frodo, can take this damage during the quest /staging phase and ready with fast hitch to defend again during the combat phase. If Arwen is in play giving frodo +1 def then both of these attacks will only add up to 4 threat. If he has two other fast hitchs on he could also quest and attack.
Gandalf is another key card in the strategy, and when I get him into play he will stay in play for the rest of the game. I try to get him in the game sometime during the 2nd quest card, usually sometime after Aragorn has reduced the threat back to 24, removing all the threat generated by Frodo. I do not use the good meals and galadhrim’s greetings until after Aragorn has reduced my threat.
I try to get master of the forge and Gleowine in play as early in the game as possible. With 26 attachments in my deck master of the forge is pulling a card each round, and with the edition of gleowine I’m drawing 3 cards each round. Ancient mathoms are also delivering cards too.
What are all these cards for, they are primarily for lowering smaug’s defense when I have the Old Thrush objective. At the end of the game when I’m about to make my final attacks on smaug I’ll have about 20 cards in my hand available to discard, that’s why I’m not concerned about all the extra unique cards in my deck. They serve a purpose in the end.
Resource generation is slow, but I’m really not playing a lot of cards each round. It takes about 20 resources to get all the key cards that I need in play. My wins have usually come after the 10th round, so my heroes have by that point generated 30 resources, more than enough.
During quest stage 2 I'll be trying to lower burn damage on laketown, glorfindel will have light of valinor and Aragorn will have unexpected courage, so all my heroes are questing with Gandalf and Arwen for 13 willpower. Burn damage is not an issue. Can easily drop it to 0. What is critical is making sure I have the Old Thrush objective card. I’ve lost every time without it, usually when I drew it as a shadow card, so I started to include Shadows of the Past to return it to the top of the encounter deck. With old thrush and plenty of cards in my hand, I'll get smaug up to about 10 points damage and have the the 2nd quest card with 9 progress tokens.
The next round I'll take him out. I quest with everyone, and then ready them with attachments. I’ll advance to the 3rd quest card. Frodo defends, and then I attack with Gandalf, Glorfindel, Aragorn, and Fordo. I'll discard 7-9 cards from my hand for Old Thrush, and deal 10 damage to smaug. Typically there is very little burn damage on laketown, and I usually have about 20 victory points to spare. I usually only attack smaug twice, once before the third quest card and once during the third quest card. My final threat could be any where from 40 to 49. I’ve had some tight games. Usually win in about 10 – 14 rounds.
One other strategy I’ve been using is during the first few rounds I’ll send smaug to the staging area, until I have a Fast Hitch on Frodo. After Frodo has a fast hitch, I’ll send smaug to my play area. Without Fast Hitch Smaug the Mighty (the one that attacks twice each round) will destroy one of your other heroes, if none of your allies are ready. Gandalf can defend against one of these attacks, but he is usually not in play at this point. A burning brand on Frodo with a song of wisdom will take care of all the nasty shadow cards.
I’m probably getting a victory every 3rd game, but sometimes every other.