Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Deck Tech: House of Knives

Hey all, welcome to week 39 of Deck Tech! Last week, we paired up Bilbo BagginsCírdan the Shipwright, and Erestor to draw entirely too many cards.
Entirely too many cards. And some Noldor synergy to go along with it.
Arwen UndómielNa'asiyahThéodred
Ally (18)
2x  Erestor (TLD)
2x  Faramir (Core)
2x  Galadriel (TRD)
3x  Gandalf (Core)
1x  Glorfindel (FotS)
2x  Súlien
But this week, we're doing something I'm not sure how I missed. Na'asiyah's ability is very useful for a general purpose deck, but I want to kick it into high gear with Steward of Gondor and Unexpected Courage.
More than one Unexpected Courage is a bit counter-productive, because Na'asiyah doesn't have access to that many resources normally, but they can sometimes come in handy.
Backing all of this up, I've got Arwen Undómiel and Théodred for more draw and resource acceleration. And a good number of allies that really bring the willpower that Na'asiyah can't.
Quest 1: The Hunt For Gollum
I haven't played this one in a while, but I figure Na'asiyah is more than a match for the Hunters from Mordor.
This quest starts out with a Gladden Fields in the staging area, which might be more than I can easily quest past right away. But at least it's not the horrible start Mitch and Matthew got in the progression series a long time ago. I've got Elven-light for draw, and a Silvan Refugee to use for some willpower early.
I do quest successfully, and that trigger reveals a Banks of the Anduin. Great, more locations.
A Galadriel in round two gets a Steward of Gondor for Na'asiyah, and she's going to take the Refugree with her when she flees. But we definitely make a lot of progress while she's on the table.
In round four, I've got a Gondorian Fire on Na'asiyah, so I choose to explicitly pull a Hunters from Mordor from the encounter deck. Tired of all these locations when I've got a hero all ready to stomp some orcs. Which she does, no problem, of course.
In round six, I play Blood of Númenor on Na'asiyah, but I have to quest with her because we made so little progress in the previous round. Because of that, she's forced to take an undefended attack from a Hunters, but that just makes her angry as she strikes back.
And in round eight, I finally grab my first clue! Which means the Hunter I engage is extra beefy. But Na'asiyah has been building up resources for a little bit, so she's just fine.
And then it takes two more rounds to get through stage 2 and on to stage 3. At which point I Sneak Attack in a Gandalf for threat reduction and play my last Elrond's Counsel to reduce my score. Obviously important plays, right there.
Final score: 123. 10 full rounds, 26 threat, 0 damage on heroes, 3 vp.
Quest 2: The Steward's Fear
I start this one off discarding Glorfindel to play Unexpected Courage on Na'asiyah. We're way more likely to have to fight it out here than in the last scenario.
And my first staging card is Local Trouble, which shuts Arwen down a little bit.
Round two, I play Galadriel again, and find Steward of Gondor for Na'asiyah. And I play Gondorian Fire on her immediately. Then a treachery forces me to face two enemies this round. So I have to take one undefended attack, and hit back hard with Na'asiyah.
In round four, I've cleared out all the bandits, and I play Dúnedain Remedy to start healing up my undefended attack damage. I find a clue that will add resource tokens to a quest stage, which I always save for stage two. Being able to power to the final stage while the Plot is ticking away is really handy.
Unfortunately, speaking of hands, I've got almost nothing left. So I pay two resources to heal one damage from Theodred. And find the other clue that places resource tokens. Just need to find and clear one location in the next stage, now.
But there are no more locations for stage 1 until round 8. At which point I've built up a Rod of the Steward to help draw and Súlien to help quest. Thanks to a second Galadriel, I even know what I'm going to draw with the Rod for a little bit.
Then, instead of just one location, I find City Streets and Houses of the Dead at the same time. Which does lock out a few Underworld cards (including the Umbar Assassin!), because I have no desire to travel to the Houses of the Dead.
So I finally make it to stage 2 in round nine. And my plot is Unholy Alliance, which is a hell of a lot better than the one that raises threat every round. Unfortunately, Theodred is also having Local Trouble, and I didn't have A Test of Will to cancel it.
Round eleven, I decide to grab a clue to move on to stage 3 before combat, so I can maybe kill the villain right away. And my encounter deck is empty! So the stage 3 effect that adds Underworld cards into it is just going to guarantee I have no shadows to worry about. My Villain is Daughter of Beruthiel, who I can't kill this round. But I need to do it soon because her threat pump is going to destroy me.
I have to tank undefended attacks that first round, which puts a lot of damage on my heroes. But Na'asiyah can kill the other enemy I'm engaged with, no problems. It takes two more rounds to build up enough to destroy the Daughter of Beruthiel, which I do.
And then I quest hard with everyone, including Arwen with her Local Trouble, raising my threat just to the breaking point. But I succeed with just one progress to spare.
Final Score: 186. 13 full rounds, 49 total threat, 8 damage on heroes, 1 vp.
Play Tips:
  1. Galadriel messes up the Silvan Refugee willpower boost, but it's still often worth it. There are a lot of attachments you can pull, and knowing the order of your draws can be very helpful. Try to put things you can't play yet deeper in the deck.
  2. Galadriel also helps you plan out where Théodred's resources go during the quest phase.
  3. Na'asiyah can fight just fine without Blood of Númenor and Gondorian Fire, so don't be afraid of enemies before you get them out.
  4. You can also quest with Na'asiyah and Théodred to help get her extra resources early. Especially if you can reduce your threat in your opening hand.
  5. Discard Glorfindel for resources early, and then don't forget he's in your discard pile. I know I forget that a lot.
  6. Elven-light is your bread and butter, as always. I'd consider a mulligan very strongly if you start without one. Even if the hand looks pretty good.
Next week: So ready to play a Kahliel deck, but I'm guessing those cards aren't going to make it to my hands before I have to come up with something new. I'll figure it out.
Blog: I'm still planning on doing a visual revamp of the  blog, (and it has an RSS feed if that's your thing). Once that's done, I'll start sharing other players' decks again with the occasional spotlight.
Twitter: Follow @LOTRDeckTech to get notifications whenever I post a new deck, new blog post, or something random on the twitter feed!

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Deck Tech: Revolver

Hey all, welcome to week 38 of Deck Tech! Last week I brought Unlikely Friendship into a Silvan package to help draw a ton of cards and generate a ton of resources.
And as a little note at the bottom of that Deck Tech, I promised you a deck that drew a lot of cards. And I know I could make a deck that draws even more cards than this, but I think this might just be enough.
I'm calling this one Revolver, because your base draw every round is six cards. You do have to discard one, thanks to Círdan the Shipwright's Forced effect, but that's never been a problem for me.
It's primarily a Noldor deck, with a single copy of Lords of the Eldar to help power up in key rounds and if you happen to stall for a long time.
But the fun doesn't stop there. I've included a few copies of key Lore allies to help deal with locations and enemies. Ghân-buri-Ghân can be one of the strongest questing allies in the game, depending on where you've traveled. And Mablung and Robin Smallburrow help you avoid engaging enemies you'd like to ignore.
Enough talking about the deck, let's see how it plays.
Quest 1: Voyage Across Beleagar
I think this is the fastest I've ever completed any quest that isn't Passage Through Mirkwood. (Or a crushing defeat!)
Round one sees me with a huge hand, of course, drawing 6 more after my opening and discarding a Robin Smallburrow. Then why not play Daeron's Runes, finding myself a Protector of Lórien. Bilbo is named the Protector, and I use To the Sea, to the Sea! to power out a Guardian of Rivendell and an Elven Jeweler. And I've still got an Elrond's Counsel to drop my threat and boost my questing a little bit.
Of course I sail successfully, without using the Dreamchaser, and I make a good chunk of progress on stage 1.
At the beginning of round two, my heroes reload my hand with six fresh cards, including a Song of TravelGhân-buri-Ghân, and Lindon Navigator, all of which I play. And a Rumour from the Earth shows me a sailing icon on the top of the encounter deck, so I can sail very lightly.
On to stage 2! And I choose the Cursed Mists, discardin Ghan to travel to a Rolling Seas without having to go off course.
Round three finds me my second copy of Will of the West, but I can count my discard pile and know there's still a Dwarven Tomb to help me out coming later. I build up slightly, mostly saving cards for Lindon Navigators and Protector of Lórien, and quest into the second Stage 2: The Star's Guidance.
I've got a Fog Bank and a Calm Waters in the staging area, because I want to travel to them only when I need their benefits.
And in the following round, I play out the final Lindon Navigator, and quest into stage 3. At this point, without any enemies that I would engage, I travel to Calm Waters to force my sailing through in (hopefully) the last round of the quest.
I just use my Navigators to sail this round, which seems entirely appropriate. Plus two cards for the Calm Waters means I see a good number of icons.
And at that point, I just quest with everyone, including the poor, overworked Navigators. 26 willpower against 12 threat means I make exactly enough progress for the victory.
Final score: 65. 4 full rounds, 32 threat, 2 damage on heroes, 9 vp.
Unfortunately, that's all I've had time for this week, but I think you get a good idea of how this is going to play out overall.
Play Tips:
  1. Think very carefully before you discard your first card every round to Círdan the Shipwright. If you figure out your planning, you can often find a card you weren't going to want to play anyway to discard.
  2. Rumour from the Earth isn't worth paying to recur, generally, because you can't keep it from round to round in this deck.
  3. This deck has two Will of the West and two Dwarven Tomb. Count carefully when you have one or the other in your hand, so you can recycle your discard pile later.
  4. But don't always recycle your discard pile, just because you can. Lords of the Eldar is an incredible finisher when you get your deck empty. And it doesn't have a problem with Cirdan's forced discard, because you have to play it from there anyway!
  5. You're allowed to pay for Elven Jeweler, if you have the resources. This deck has a lot of other uses for those cards that might be better.
Next week: I'm going to hire people to riot outside FFG headquarters until we get new cards. That way I don't have to work nearly this hard to come up with decks I haven't played before!
Blog: I'm still planning on doing a visual revamp of the blog, (and it has an RSS feed if that's your thing). Once that's done, I'll start sharing other players' decks again with the occasional spotlight.
Twitter: Follow @LOTRDeckTech to get notifications whenever I post a new deck, new blog post, or something random on the twitter feed!

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Deck Tech: Old Friends, New Toys

Hey all, welcome to week 37 of Deck Tech! Last week we named Treebeard an honorary Eldar, and this week technical difficulties have forced me to give you something a bit unique.
Not the deck, though, the deck is totally fine! I've got Unlikely FriendshipCaptain's Wisdom, and the new Greenwood Archer to really ramp the Silvans up quickly. Who's the lucky Dwarf? Bifur! You get resource flexibility and a nice, low starting threat to boot.
The deck, of course, features a ton of different Silvan allies, and two copies of Galadhrim Weaver to shuffle all the fun stuff back into the deck. Yes, trying to get the most out of them will make your brain hurt because of the sequencing.
The technical difficulties I was mentioning mostly resolve around OCTGN crashing on me a ton while trying to test out another deck. And when it's the holiday season and you don't have your physical cards handy, that just makes things no fun. Nothing permanent, just a challenge for this week.
Quest 1: The Weather Hills
Some of you are thinking this is going to go very badly, because you remember some of the cards in this encounter deck and my reluctance to use A Test of Will now. We'll see if you're right.
I start this game off with an opening hand that includes Unlikely Friendship and Galadhrim Weaver, so I'm basically all over it. Being able to give one of these heroes two resources right off the bat will let me surge out a good number of allies. And then, in the resource phase, I draw a Captain's Wisdom and this is probably the best start I've ever had. Play the Captain's Wisdom, exhausting Celeborn. Play Unlikely Friendship for more Silvans and follow it up with a Galadhrim Weaver to get more free cards and resources later. And then a Greenwood Archer and a Naith Guide to use up poor Celeborn's resources for the turn.
So we clear out the first active location, and an Orc appears to force me to discard an ally. The Weaver gets killed, but I have another I can use to recycle her!
Round three I use The Tree People to pull a Galadhrim Minstrel, who finds me an Unlikely Friendship and gives me the resources I need to play Treebeard. Unfortunately, the active location is cleared, revealing a very large Angmar Captain. But I can stall on engaging him until Treebeard is ready.
We keep making steady progress for a while, and on round seven I have a ton more Silvan fun. I use Captain's Wisdom to get some extra resources, an Island Amid Perils to bring back a Greenwood Archer, drop my threat, and replay it to ready Celeborn. Plus a Galadhrim Weaver to shuffle my threat reduction back in. I like never having to engage enemies I don't want in a Silvan deck.
Round ten I experience some Alanis Morissette level irony. I pay five for Gandalf, after holding out on my Silvan shenanigans the previous round, and immediately draw three copies of Sneak Attack. Fortunately, before the end of the round, I can play a Feigned Voices to bring back a Galadhrim Weaver to my hand. And after Gandalf gets discarded, I play the Weaver to shuffle him back in.
And then one round after that, the shit hits the fan. I draw a Biting Wind in a round where I'm forced to reveal two encounter cards. And I don't have any cancellation, so a lot of Silvans have to die. I draw through the rest of my deck (giving me access to Sneak Attack and Gandalf for the first time) in the following round, and I get close to stabilizing before drawing another Biting Wind and scooping. You don't really want to hear me talk about the slowly dwindling hand size as I gradually threat out.
Play Tips:
  1. Pull the Galadhrim Weavers back to your hand before you think you'll need them, but after they've quested for 2 with Celeborn's boost. That way you can have more control over what you recycle.
  2. Unless you're about to play something immediately with the extra resource, Unlikely Friendship should probably give its resource to Celeborn. There's a lot of great Leadership events that cost in here.
  3. Don't forget Galadriel lets your allies quest without exhausting when they come into play. Including Gandalf. Doesn't do anything for Treebeard, though.
  4. Valiant Sacrifice is awesome in this deck, if you have the resource to spare. Just draw even more cards, and the ally doesn't actually have to die.
  5. Once your deck runs out, you can permanently Feint one enemy with a Galadhrim Weaver and Feigned Voices. It's good fun.
Possible Changes:
  1. Skip Island Amid Perils for A Test of Will. The deck's threat gets low enough already that it probably doesn't need it, though I like shrinking it further and increasing the density of effects that will let you pull a Silvan out.
  2. Warden of Healing is probably a better choice than Galadhrim Healer, but he's off-theme. And the low health allies will concentrate damage on your heroes. Having a way to heal Treebeard would be nice, though.
Next week: More surprises, but I expect a lot of card draw.
Blog: I'm planning on doing a visual revamp of the blog, (and it has an RSS feed if that's your thing). Once that's done, I'll start sharing other players' decks again with the occasional spotlight.
Twitter: Follow @LOTRDeckTech to get notifications whenever I post a new deck, new blog post, or something random on the twitter feed!

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Deck Tech: Treebeard, Lord of the Eldar

Hey all, welcome to week 36 of Deck Tech! Last week we took advantage of the Glóin Dwarven Shield synergy, and this week we're going to explore the jankiest combo I've ever put together.
Treebeard's ability gives him willpower and attack, so the plan is to take advantage of that double stat boost. Fair and Perilous is pretty much the only card that cares about both stats, and fortunately it's not too difficult to name Treebeard Elf-friend.
There are a few more pieces that can come together to make for more boosting, like Lords of the Eldar and Star Brooch. And Ent Draught to give Treebeard enough health to potentially trigger his ability five times without having to weave in healing. And once Treebeard is an Elf-friend, Arwen Undómiel can pass him resources!
Quest 1: Journey Along the Anduin
My opening hand here has threat reduction, Asfaloth, and a Star Brooch, which seems pretty solid. And my opening draw gets me an Elf-friend, which I'm happy about.
I nearly run out of cards in my opening hand in the first few round, but that's okay. And I've been holding back from questing with Glorfindel because he doesn't have Light of Valinor, and because I need my heroes to be ready in order to fight some low threat orcs.
Round 5, I'm forced to engage the troll before I'm really ready, and chump blocking his attack boosts my threat just a little bit. I also only manage to do 6 damage, despite hitting Treebeard pretty hard.
Next round, I draw the first of my set of draw cards, Deep Knowledge. Deep Knowledge gets me an Elven-light and a Gandalf, who draws me even more cards. A wizard is never late, indeed. I do have enough damage to kill the Hill Troll, but not enough progress to advance! I think that's honestly the first time that's ever happened to me accidentally.
It takes me until round 8 to make it past stage 1, and then until round 15 to get past stage 2. I also have the worst ambush I've ever had, and end up with six enemies in the staging area. Those enemies include an annoying Wargs and an even more annoying Goblin Sniper.
Fortunately, it only takes two tries to clear the Wargs without them bouncing back to the staging area. And then the next round I can finally engage the Goblin Sniper. And I unleash a big chunk of the combo to have Treebeard attack that Sniper for 24 attack. He deserved it.
Final score: 195. 16 full rounds, 43 threat, 6 damage on heroes, 14 vp.
Quest 2: Celebrimbor's Secret
This time I mulligan hard for Elven-light, because I don't want to be stuck without draw again. And the encounter deck surges out four cards in turn one. One of them a treachery that doesn't do anything, the rest because I don't want to strip time counters until I can get things more under control.
I do make enough progress to travel to the Secret Chamber, at least! And Treebeard can use Lembas to defend and then kill an Orc.
I want to use a second Lembas for the same thing in the following round, but Treebeard has to defend two Orcs this time. Fortunately, in the next round I play another Unexpected Courage and a Guardian of Rivendell to help keep Treebeard from having to just tank all the time.
The Guardians end up doing a ton of work for me in this scenario, defending at first and then switching to attack once they get too much damage on them. Luckily, I manage to get all the Scour effects under control every time the quest runs out of time counters.
Things go pretty smoothly from here, with only one possible bad turn when a location re-summons a 5 attack enemy from the discard pile. But I chump block him and Treebeard can swing back with enough for the kill.
I finally make it to stage 2 in round 13, and then follow that up with an emergency Gandalf to kill an enemy in the staging area and boost up our questing power. We make all the progress we need, and I engage Bellach.
Lords of the Eldar, with the Star Brooch, and two Fair and Perilous lets us smack Bellach for 24 (again) with just Treebeard.
Final Score: 163. 13 full rounds, 38 threat, 3 damage on heroes, 8 vp.
Play Tips:
  1. Elf-friend on Treebeard is a priority, so you can shuffle resources around. It means you can play Self Preservation on turn two, if you need it.
  2. Questing is a bit tough if you don't start with all your staples, but building up the combat power will help you keep the staging area clear in many quests.
  3. Don't forget you can weave Treebeard's ability in with healing, allowing you to enrage him five times in a phase without running out of hit points.
  4. Star Brooch makes your math way easier! With it on, if you're going for the combo attack, Treebeard has the same attack and willpower.
Next week: A surprise (to you and to me!), because I haven't come up with it yet.
Blog: I'm planning on doing a visual revamp of the blog, (and it has an RSS feed if that's your thing). Once that's done, I'll start sharing other players' decks again with the occasional spotlight.
Twitter: Follow @LOTRDeckTech to get notifications whenever I post a new deck, new blog post, or something random on the twitter feed!