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!
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.
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.
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.
You'll probably use more leadership resources than other spheres, with the deck as written.
Beorn is mostly in here for fun. Who doesn't like a quad-sphere deck?
Your third Mirkwood Long-knife should probably go on Theodred, because he's got better attack than Arwen. Though it usually won't matter.
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