Mustering of the Rohirrim was released earlier this week, and I for one could not be more excited. Looking back on the decks I’ve built over the years, I’ve been trying to make viable decks around Beornings since The Hobbit Saga was released. To be fair, the archetype features powerful heroes like Beorn and Grimbeorn the Old, but it has always lacked enough supporting cards to allow for a full-fledged Beorning theme.
When Bilbo and the Dwarves first meet Beorn in the Hobbit has always been one of my favorite moments in the book. There is something so humorous, off-putting, and yet endearing about the interactions between Beorn and his guests. This deck is my attempt at capturing that moment, while highlighting some of the exciting new cards from Mustering of the Rohirrim. I don’t just want to capture the theme, I also want the deck to be viable mechanically. Certainly, it won’t be the strongest deck ever built, but once it gets setup is should more than hold its own. As always, the deck list can be found on RingsDB.
At it’s heart, this is an ally swarm deck. At first glance a tri-sphere deck might seem a bit too ambitious, given the relatively high cost of many of the allies. However, thanks to the industrious Dwarves and their mining mechanics, we won’t often be playing allies from our hand in this deck. Instead, the strategy is to use cards like King Under the Mountain, Expert Treasure-hunter, Daeron’s Runes to get our best allies into our discard pile. Once we have a good selection of allies in the discard pile, Birna and the Beorning Skin-changers give us incredible versatility when it comes to mustering allies.
We also feature the two cards that I spoiled recently, Osbera and the Beorning Pony. Osbera offers questing or damage prevention, depending on which need is most pressing at the time. She also gives us access to Lore for some essential attachments and events. Remember that we can still muster Lore allies while Osbera is flipped to her tactics side, we just cannot play them from our hand. The Beorning Pony combines with all of the other mining effects, seeding the discard pile with helpful allies. If we have an extra tactics resource to spare, he can even be used to fetch a critical card.
It’s important to note that with Birna’s effect, the ally is shuffled into your deck at the end of the phase so timing is critical. Ideally, we will pull an expensive ally like a Giant Bear out of the discard pile during the combat phase. Then, we can use the Bear to attack or defend, but ready him with his ability. Then, we can use him to pay the cost on A Very Good Tale. Between his ability and Birna’s, he is destined to be shuffled back into our deck, but not before his high cost helps us muster another powerful ally or two. The net result of all of this fun and games is that we keep the two allies we muster via A Very Good Tale.
A Very Good Tale is definitely the card we’re looking for with our card draw and search effects, as it massively accelerates the rate at which we build an ally swarm. Even after we’ve used our copies of that event, the deck is not dead however. Birna still allows us to bring extra allies into play every round, we just know that they won’t be staying around. Even if you only have him for a phase, ally Beorn is a beast. An 8 strength attack is going to kill many enemies by itself, and he’s especially adroit at helping to topple powerful boss enemies.
One downside of this strategy, is that the effects on Osbera, Birna, and Balin all cost resources. While we don’t need many resources for playing allies (once we get the mustering engine running), this deck can still feel somewhat resource constrained. The ample supply of card draw and search effects only exacerbates the sense of having too many options and not enough money to buy them all with. This is where another new ALeP card come to the rescue, and it forms the thematic heart of the deck.
Beorn’s Welcome is the perfect solution to a deck built around all of these costly effects. Each hero can attach a copy, then any time we trigger the effect for Balin’s shadow cancelation, Osbera’s transformation, or Birna’s effect (paid for by Thorin), we can recoup or resource. The only time when Beorn’s Welcome doesn’t allow us to gain a resource is when we play an ally from our hand. Fortunately, after our first few allies, this deck should not have to do that very often.
The inclusion of The Last Alliance contract gives this deck an interesting wrinkle. With two Dwarf heroes, our Beorning allies cost 1 less out of the gate. This means that with We Are Not Idle in the opening hand we can play Birna on the first turn. The cost reduction obviously shifts as the number of allies in play changes, but that is just one reason for the contract. Look at an ally like Erebor Record Keeper, and imagine using his ability to ready a Beorning character. Suddenly, papa Bear is swinging his massive paws for 8 damage multiple times before he goes back to his winter nap.
For the most part, the deck list stays true to the theme of the Hobbit. Unfortunately, there was no Tactics version of Thorin Oakenshield, so I had to use Dain’s son Thorin Stonehelm as a replacement. When I play this deck, I am going to consider Thorin to be the one for the story as the alternative is narratively impossible. In any case, this deck is more fun than a mug of mead and a slice of honey cake. I hope you find your own enjoyment from this thematic feast.