“It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.”
Sometimes the best way to win a fight, is to avoid it entirely. These decks are designed to avoid confrontation and instead defeat enemies by damaging them when they are revealed from the encounter deck and while they are in the staging area. Weaker enemies can be killed the phase that they are revealed. Stronger enemies, with a higher engagement threshold, will usually stay in the staging area for a few rounds, where they can be defeated or subdued before they engage. There are also means for dealing with emergencies; large enemies that engage too early can be trapped or returned to the staging area.
With such a strong focus on direct damage and enemy control, there is little room for location control, threat lowering or card draw. Understandably, these decks are best-suited to scenarios with many enemies, location-heavy scenarios will likely cause major problems. With Dain and dwarf allies, you should nonetheless have a shot at most scenarios by questing aggressively with your dwarves.
Legolas and Dunhere are included to deal with enemies that survive the first barrage of Thalin, Expecting Mischief and Ranger Spikes. For anything that actually makes it out of the staging area to engage a player, you have Gondorian Spearman (ideally equipped with Spear of the Citadel), Feint and A Light In The Dark to avoid attacks and shadow cards. Normally, sending an enemy back to the staging area would be counter-productive but in this case it works wonderfully with Dunere’s ability.
You will want to save Forest Snare as an emergency solution for large enemies that engage before you have adequate defenses prepared. With Horn of Gondor in play, you can also afford to chump block a large enemy on occasion. If you do so, lose eagles before dwarves or the Battle Masters get weaker. The sneak attacks are obviously for Gandalf, and, too a lesser extent in the tactics deck, the Descendant of Thorondor. Don’t feel obligated to use the Grey Wizard solely for his direct damage effect however, a well-timed threat reduction can be just as important to keep enemies off your back and buy some time for Dunhere to do his job.
The central cog in the Tactics/Leadership deck is Bofur. You want to get him out as quickly as possible and if he is not in your opening hand, you probably want to mulligan. His ability is essential for getting weapons quickly, which in turn are needed to fuel Foe-Hammer and Goblin-Cleaver. In addition, with Dain ready, he has 3 willpower which is invaluable in a heavy tactics deck that can struggle to contribue much to the quest.
For the tri-sphere deck, the most important thing is, not surprisingly, having resources to pay for everything. Bifur’s ability can help smooth things out to pay for Ranger Spikes and Forest Snares, but you still need a lot of resources to keep a three-sphere deck from sputtering to a halt. This is why Steward of Gondor is included in triplicate. Depending on your hand, you typically want to put it on Dain, along with a Narvi’s Belt. Alternatively, if your hand consists of an even distribution of mostly inexpensive cards in each sphere, you can make Thalin the Steward of Gondor and have him send one of the extra resources to Bifur each round. These decks are designed so that most of the key enemy control cards cost 1 or 2 resources, so you should be able to get the staging area locked down relatively quickly.
Deck #1: Tactics/Leadership
Deck #2: Leadership/Spirit/Lore