You may recall from my article about play style, the Sam player most enjoys the cooperative elements of the Lord of the Rings LCG. There is probably no card in the game that embodies cooperation more than Renewed Friendship:
In most decks, this card would be far too conditional to be worth including. However these two decks are designed with this card in mind. Each deck includes at least 14 attachments, and all of the attachments are designed to be played on the heroes from the other deck. This design, along with card draw and cards like Master of the Forge, should ensure that Renewed Friendship is never a dead card in either player’s hand. While both decks start at 20 threat, these are not secrecy decks, per se. The decision to start with a low starting threat was more to give each deck time to setup their strategies before they are overrun.
Obviously, getting Vilya on Elrond as early as possible is essential for the Elf-Friends deck which is why the first deck includes 3 of this card, along with stargazers and card draw. This, along with a Stargazer, will allow you to get the high-cost elves and/or Gandalf out more easily. In a similar vein, getting Light of Valinor and Asfaloth on Glorfindel will help get the Dwarves, Elves and Men going. Since Renewed Friendship is going to be played during the planning phase, it would seem like the choice to ready another player’s hero would be wasted in most decks. That is not necessarily the case with these decks because of Elrond. The second player can use Elrond and Vilya to play an attachment on one of the other player’s heroes, the first player can then use Renewed Friendship to ready Elrond, who can subsequently be used for questing or defending. The versatility of Renewed Friendship is really great, if the other player doesn’t need one of their heroes readied, you can lower their threat or have them draw a card. As long as you have attachments to play, this card will always be useful.
Another attachment that will be good to find early is Resourceful. The Elf-Friend deck will want to play this on Glorfindel or Bifur to help the first deck out with resources. Conversely, the first deck should attach Good Meal to Frodo so that the second deck can more-easily pay for its expensive spirit events. Gandalf is here in triplicate in both decks to provide ultimate utility. Indeed, one of the core design concepts behind these decks is using cards that have multiple effects, or allow for a choice between multiple effects. With Miruvor, Renewed Friendship, Elrond’s Council, Gandalf and general-purpose cards like Dwarven Tomb, these decks provide a tool-box of solutions to whatever problems you might face.
These decks are by no means powerhouses, but that is not the play style for which they were designed. The goal of a Sam player is not so much to dominate, but rather to do everything within one’s power to ensure that all players are able to give their best efforts to completing the quest. These decks are, more than anything, an attempt to explore he possibilities of cooperative deck design. That said, once these decks get setup and running, they have the ability to succeed against many scenarios and they are quite fun to play.
Deck #1: Dwarves, Elves and Men
Deck #2: Elves and Elf-Friends