Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Deck Tech: Burrahobbit

Hey all, welcome to Deck Tech 45!
Last time we did some daily side quests with Thurindir, plus a ton of early willpower from ÉowynGlorfindel, and some allies like the Silvan Refugee.
This time, I feel compelled to come to the defense of an often panned hero. And no, I don't mean Óin, who looks like he should have a pan in that art...
I'm talking about Bilbo Baggins. Yes, 9 threat is a lot. But you don't get unconditional card draw for less, because cards are really good.
My original plan was to make a Bilbo defender deck, like I know plenty of people have done. Fast Hitch makes it cheap to get extra actions out of him, and he's in sphere for A Burning Brand. But it's been done, so let's try a burglar Bilbo build.
There's no player card for Sting, sadly, so we're going to need to find some other knives for Bilbo to wield. And I like the idea of him dual wielding two Mirkwood Long-knifes, so we're going to need Elf-friend.
And if we're going that far for Bilbo, Light of Valinor can basically turn him into Glorfindel. Works for me!
 Arwen UndómielBilbo BagginsThéodred
Ally (26)
1x  Beorn (Core)
1x  Erestor (TLD)
2x  Faramir (Core)
3x  Gandalf (Core)
1x  Gimli (ToS)
1x  Glorfindel (FotS)
2x  Quickbeam
2x  Treebeard (TAC)

Quests: Into Ithilien and The Steward's Fear
I'm going to mention Into Ithilien here, because I pulled it out of the box and shuffled it up just to try this deck out. And every time I was immediately eliminated on turn one. Twice I shuffled into two Blocking Wargs and an extra Southron Company. I could have held back to make the first turn less aggressively awful (or brought tactics), but it was kind of fun to shuffle up and watch everything go to shit.
So for a real test, I pulled out Steward's Fear. I drained all my resources round one to play Treebeard, and that actually worked out okay. A Knife in the Back missed him a few times, fortunately.
And in the second round, I was able to play Elf-friend and Light of Valinor on Bilbo. Elf-friend helped me smooth out my own resources with Theodred and Arwen's discard. And Light of Valinor meant it was okay for Bilbo to handle Local Trouble for many, many rounds.
Slow and steady, I built up a ton of allies working through the first stage of the quest. Not getting many locations means your progress is a little slow.
And Faramir means you don't have to worry too much about locations building up in the staging area in an ally heavy deck. This encounter deck is surprisingly surge heavy, though. City Streets into City Streets into Unwelcome Discovery was a bit of a rough moment, but I had saved a Sneak Attack and Beorn or Gandalf just in case.
My plot was Unholy Alliance, which was no big deal, and my villain was Telemnar's Bane. Saving the clues you find until stage 2 is quite helpful. And having to clear out City Streets sucks when you're feeling the location lock pressure, but I had a ton of willpower when I needed it.
And having to clear out a bunch of City Streets means you don't find as many bandits in the other locations.
I wrapped it up in round 14, questing for a bit over 40 into a mess of locations.
Play Tips:
  1. Plan out your resource expenditures a turn in advance. Théodred gives you a huge amount of flexibility in a deck like this where all your heroes are going to quest, but you need to figure out what you'll want to spend before drawing cards next round.
  2. Elf-friend on Bilbo and Theodred means Arwen Undómiel can give them resources, too. But after you get that set up, you can use her ability to fix your resources after drawing cards for the round.
  3. You'll probably use more leadership resources than other spheres, with the deck as written.
  4. Beorn is mostly in here for fun. Who doesn't like a quad-sphere deck?
  5. Your third Mirkwood Long-knife should probably go on Theodred, because he's got better attack than Arwen. Though it usually won't matter.
  6. Yes, you can use Elf-friendLight of Valinor, and the first two Mirkwood Long-knifes on Theodred, too. It's probably slightly better, but not as fun.
Other media: Follow @LOTRDeckTech to get notifications whenever I post a new deck, new blog post, or something random on the twitter feed! Or if you're a little more old fashioned, the blog and its RSS feed will also update with every deck I post.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Deck Tech: Doing Some Dailies

Hey all, welcome to Deck Tech 44! (If I can't keep up a weekly schedule, that means the intro has to change, right?)
Last deck was a fun Argalad build that used Grappling Hook as a backup, to make sure we could always use his attack to its full potential.
This deck is set up to rush through a side quest in the first, and possibly even the second, round of the game. To that end, there's a host of turn one willpower boosters (Elrond's CounselSilvan RefugeeCelduin Traveler, and Ithilien Lookout). Some of these even allow you to look at the top card of the encounter deck, which will help you more precisely calibrate your willpower commitment.
Attachment (5)
2x  Asfaloth
Event (15)
3x  Feint
As for the side quests? Gather Information is definitely the best side quest available for this deck. It's cheap (0 cost), easy to complete (only 4 quest points!), and it lets you go grab the thing your game needs the most in that particular moment.
I've got a second side quest in here, too, but it's mostly a backup. Double Back is as cheap and easy to complete as Gather Information, but its benefit is just not quite as useful. It's in here to pull a card out of your deck if you happen to mulligan into Gather Information before Thurindir's ability, but you can pull it out when you complete Gather Information if you think you can finish a second side quest.
Quests: The Mumakil and Foundations of Stone
I'm probably going to be dropping the play-by-play style game recaps here. They take up so much more time than a higher level overview.
I did play a few quests with this deck, though I'll admit that my time crunch meant they were just the quests sitting assembled on my desk!
In The Mumakil, we got off to a great start. I finished Gather Information in round one, and then Double Back in the next round. I had basically everything I needed in my opening hand, or I'd have grabbed Light of Valinor or Asfaloth instead.
Unfortunately, I stalled out a bit on stage 2. When your threat is too low to clear out two enemies in a single round, and the stage just keeps pumping them out two at a time...
I caught my mumak, but it took fifteen rounds. I could have probably gotten there faster if I were a bit more aggressive about traveling to locations, but clearing them with Asfaloth and guaranteeing I didn't have to deal with two mumak seemed like a good idea. Oh, and I killed that pesky tiger twice.
After that, Foundations of Stone just turned out to be pathetically easy. I cleared it on round 8, after finishing both of my side quests. I definitely could have sped up stage 1 with some judicious use of the Cave Torch, but all the rest of them took one round max.
It helps that Asfaloth and Light of Valinor don't get washed away in the flood on stage 3. Apparently elven horses are great swimmers.
Play Tips
  1. You don't have to discard the card you see with Celduin Traveler or Ithilien Lookout if it's the right type. Especially turn one, if it means you can guarantee that you finish your side quest.
  2. Quest with Glorfindel turn one. I don't care about that one single threat point, and neither should you. Unless you know, for sure, that you're going to finish your side quest without him.
  3. A Good Harvest and Heed the Dream don't work together, no matter how much you want them to. :(
  4. Don't overcommit to Silvan Refugees. You probably want to stick to one out at a time, so you don't lose too much if you lose another character.
  5. Eowyn should pay for most of your neutral expenses. Her resource load is incredibly cheap, if you have one open for Feint.
Other media: Follow @LOTRDeckTech to get notifications whenever I post a new deck, new blog post, or something random on the twitter feed! Or if you're a little more old fashioned, the blog and its RSS feed will also update with every deck I post.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Deck Tech: grappling_hook.deck

Hey all, at long last, welcome to week 43 of Deck Tech. It's been much longer than it should, thanks to some real life nonsense, and the schedule might be a bit slower for a little while, but I'm back.
This week's deck is an attempt to maximize the utility of Grappling Hook. My first thought about that was Faramir, but he's too dependent on getting a lot of pieces in place to contribute value.
Ally (24)
1x  Beorn (Core)
1x  Erestor (TLD)
2x  Faramir (Core)
3x  Gandalf (Core)
2x  Gimli (ToS)
1x  Halbarad (FotW)
2x  Quickbeam
2x  Treebeard (TAC)
Instead, let's start with a hero that already starts with the ability to "quest" with his attack, Argalad. That way, Grappling Hook can be a sweet backup option for turns without any good enemy targets. And Cram or Lembas can allow Argalad to drop an enemy's threat and quest with the Grappling Hook.
Supporting Argalad's quest to become Batman, we've got Éowyn and Théodred. Eowyn is low threat, which helps, and gives us access to the tactics icon we need. And Theodred is my old standby.
Quest 1: Journey Along the Anduin
Every hero needs a good villain, right? So why not a big brute of a beast, lurking in the staging area right from the get go? This is mostly a test of speed, though not the most difficult one. Only Gandalf reduces threat in this deck, so can we get off the ground fast enough to deal with the troll?
The deck starts off strong, with Sneak Attack in hand, and a Dúnedain Mark to boost Argalad's attack to 3. That's about all he'll need for the whole quest.
Round two I draw my secret second reason for picking this quest: Goblin Sniper. Argalad chunks him down in two turns, and we develop a pretty sizable board of allies. Ghân-buri-Ghân, a Dúnedain Hunter, and a Defender of Rammas.
I follow up with a Treebeard and a Warden of Healing. And Gandalf to drop my threat. Might as well take a bit longer whittling down the troll.
Round six, I decide to pull the troll and kill it with a few of my remaining allies. Then we burst through stage two thanks to Argalad's attack counting double.
Our ambush is okay, all things considered. Some orcs, Eastern Crows, and a Wargs. Sneak Attack and Gandalf kill the wargs before they can stall me out, and Treebeard uses his resources to slaughter everything else.
Final score: 96. 7 full rounds, 36 threat, 0 damage on heroes, 10 vp.
Quest 2: Into the Pit
Let's take out some more goblins! Though this time I don't get quite such a potent start. A Dúnedain Hunter in the first round pulls a Goblin Scout, and my questing stalls, forcing me to use the Cave Torch to make progress.
I do leave the Goblin Scout engaged to reduce Halbarad's cost in round two. I've also got Ghân-buri-Ghân in hand, ready to quest for seven, thanks to our ridiculous starting location.
Of course, I get a Sudden Pitfall during staging, and Halbarad has to go. Cave Torch helps make progress again, finding another goblin for us to fight.
I make slow progress for a bit, finally making it to stage 2 in round seven. After questing with basically everyone, I use Sneak Attack with Beorn to demolish the Patrol Leader, who manages not to find a meat shield.
After that, I get Watchful Eyes in both of the following rounds, raising my threat a good amount. But the eyes don't contribute any threat, so I can push through enough progress to finish the quest thanks to Grappling Hook. Argalad was up to six attack by the end of this quest, which is quite handy.
Final score: 115. 8 full rounds, 38 threat, 1 damage on heroes, 4 vp.
Play Tips:
  1. Éowyn is your backup attacker. You can push harder than you normally might on questing or defense, because she can ready and kill nearly any enemy in the game.
  2. As mentioned before, you can't use Argalad's ability more than once in a round. But that doesn't stop him from readying with Cram or Lembas and using his ability to double quest.
  3. Ghân-buri-Ghân is a huge quester. You should definitely prioritize playing him over most of the other lore cards if you can.
Next Deck: I've got a few ideas floating around for some of the new cards in Race Across Harad, so that's probably where we'll go next.
Other media: Follow @LOTRDeckTech to get notifications whenever I post a new deck, new blog post, or something random on the twitter feed! Or if you're a little more old fashioned, the blog and its RSS feed will also update with every deck I post.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Deck Tech: Traps in the Forest

Hey all, welcome to week 42 of Deck Tech! Last week, I went back to my roots and put together a Leadership secrecy deck headed by Sam Gamgee and Denethor. Their combined low threat and huge resource potential really helped me crank out the allies and speed my way to victory.
This week, we've got a new expansion! The Mumakil is out, and I have the cards, and so I'm going to share a deck for it with you.
Ally (19)
2x  Faramir (Core)
2x  Firyal
3x  Gandalf (Core)
2x  Gimli (ToS)
2x  Jubayr
2x  Treebeard (TAC)
2x  Yazan
This time, more so than most others, I wanted to go for a thematic deck. We're playing all of the Harad characters from the last quest in the deluxe expansion, and since we're in the woods trapping Mumakil, I wanted to pack a bunch of extra traps for whatever else we could find there.
I know, I know, you can't actually use any of these player card traps on these big enemies, but there are plenty of other animals in the jungle you can trap!
Quest 1: The Mumakil
I've got Steward of Gondor and Rod of the Steward for Kahliel in my opening hand, so there's basically zero chance of a mulligan this time. Damrod also sets up some Entangling Nets in the staging area.
And, amazingly, my opening draw was an Heir of Mardil for Kahliel to ready after questing. Just about the best possible opening for this deck, since it has all the key attachments and a way to mitigate early enemies.
And I get one of those right away, in the form of a Territorial Ape. Caught in a net and with no active location, it's not a very threatening enemy.
Round two sees a Kahliel's Headdress and Yazan join the party, thanks to Daeron's Runes.
And then a little bit of annoyance thanks to a Strangling Python coming off the top of the encounter deck. I choose to let the python hit Damrod, because I don't really need his actions for the rest of the quest. Though it would be nice to find Miner of the Iron Hills and clear that problem up.
Deep Knowledge in the following round gets me two extra copies of Steward of Gondor. And I quest right into the Harad Tiger, which I'm not going to be able to deal with right away. And I've managed to discard all my traps, so there won't be any sneaky plays here.
I get out a Warden of HealingTreebeard, and Firyal over the next few rounds. And I still have to let the tiger eat Yazan before I can kill it in round six.
Then I make a dangerous mistake. Firyal reveals The Savage South, and I figure it will be safe to allow because I've seen so many of my duplicates. Unfortunately, it kills my Warden of Healing, and that's all the healing my deck can bring to bear.
After this, I quest into a Terrible Fever on Theodred, and I dig as hard as I can for a Miner of the Iron Hills to heal him. Well, I can't actually remove the damage he's already built up, but I can stop the fever from hurting him more.
Eventually I do find it, just before Theodred would die.
Round thirteen, I finally allow the Mumak to come off the top of the encounter deck, and my objective is the Poisoned Spear. The next couple of rounds are pretty straightforward, soaking up attacks and putting a bit of damage on the Mumak. I do find another Terrible Fever for Kahliel, but I've been holding on to my second Miner of the Iron Hills just in case.
And in round fifteen, I play Gandalf to drop my threat, feeling hopeful. The Mumak still has three hit points, but I think I can end the quest this round with decent odds. And I do flip a 3 threat location off the top of the encounter deck, so this Mumak is mine!
Final score: 171. 14 full rounds, 28 threat, 6 damage on heroes, 3 vp.
Quest 2: The Foundations of Stone
We're off to a similar start this time. I've got Steward of GondorSneak Attack, and Ranger Spikes in my opening hand. And my first draw is Gandalf!
I need to use Sneak Attack on Gandalf immediately to help deal with a Goblin Swordsman from setup. Amusingly enough, its shadow is a second Goblin Swordsman that gets stuck in my trap!
Next round I play out another Ranger Spikes and catch a Goblin Scout. I wouldn't have been able to engage with it anyway, but reduced threat in the encounter deck and free draws are appreciated. Treebeard and Heir of Mardil also set us up for more combat in the future when the traps run dry.
Captain's Wisdom in round three makes for an incredibly explosive turn, allowing me to play Gimli and Firyal in one round.
Yeah, with two trapped goblins in the staging area, and that kind of ally muscle out on the table, we advance pretty fast. Round six sees me all the way through to stage 4, and I haven't encountered any Nameless Things yet.
I've managed to keep my threat relatively low, so when I do find an Elder Nameless Thing, Gandalf comes in to destroy it without having to engage it. And the first regular Nameless Thing I have to engage only finds an Entangling Nets and a Rod of the Steward, making it very little threat.
(I did have a funny thought about the Nameless Things getting caught in traps from your deck, but I'm 90% sure that's not how that actually works.)
And another appearance from Gandalf and the help of Faramir allows us to not really have too much trouble with stage 5's questing restriction. I escape from Moria much faster than normal.
Final score: 109. 8 full rounds, 33 threat, 0 damage on heroes, 4 vp.
Play Tips:
  1. The Trap cards are really useful early to help make your combats smoother before you can find the Harad allies (or Treebeard).
  2. All your resources go on Kahliel, because that's how you power out the allies. Heir of Mardil also goes on him, so Steward of Gondor plus Théodred is four resources and free questing every round.
  3. Heir of Mardil and Captain's Wisdom are a great combo. Just remember you have to play Captain's Wisdom during the resource phase, so you might need to wait a round.
  4. Protect your Warden of Healing. I kept the healing very light, so if anything happens to the Warden, you could be in trouble.
  5. Firyal is the most useful of the Harad allies, by far, in a solo deck. So if you have to pick, play her first.
Next week: TBD. I know I still need to get Grappling Hook to work out, eventually, but now might not be the time.
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!