Of all of the player cards introduced in the Heirs of Númenor deluxe expansion, Master of Lore is one of the most intriguing. With the exception of Love of Tales, which is too situational in all but the most dedicated decks, Lore has never really had help with resource generation. Because many of the best cards in the sphere are on the expensive side, this has meant that Lore typically needs to be paired with another sphere to help pay for everything.
This might mean pairing Lore with Spirit and using Zigil Miner and Imladris Stargazer, or the more traditional choice of Leadership for Steward of Gondor or Theodred. Tactics can even be used in a pinch, for Horn of Gondor, but Lore doesn’t have a lot of good allies that give you anything when they leave play so this is a less than ideal fit. In any case, a deck consisting of almost exclusively Lore cards has not really been viable until now.
The obvious focus of this deck is the 3 copies of Master of Lore. Getting one or more of these out quickly is essential to start reducing the cost of the more powerful, and expensive, cards in this deck. If Master of Lore is not in your opening hand, you will most likely want to mulligan. If all else fails, Gleowine and Lorien’s Wealth should help you to quickly draw him quickly. Spare Hood and Cloak is included to allow you to use the Master multiple times. You can either reduce the cost of the same card type by 2, or choice a different card type the second time. Either way, and early Master of Lore will mean that the expensive cards in this deck are easily paid for.
Unless they are needed to pay for Light of Valinor, Glorfindel should always send his resource to Bifur, to ensure that you have the Lore resources that you need. Other than Light of Valinor, there are many useful attachments in this deck, which is why Master of the Forge is another critical early card for this deck. A Burning Brand is another important attachment. Not only will it make defending safer, but it can be played on Gildor or Haldir to free up Denethor for using his deck-scrying abilities.
Other than Glorfindel, your starting heroes stats leave something to be desired so you will want to get Haldir or Gildor Inglorion out as quickly as possible to bulster your questing and combat. A first turn Master of Lore will still allow you to play Haldir in the next round, and with the high-cost cards in this deck, he will keep paying for himself every turn thereafter. Once you draw a second Master of Lore or a Spare Hood and Cloak, this deck starts to really shine.
In addition to the Master of Lore, Spare Hood and Cloak engine, there are some nice stylistic touches to this deck. Scrying is not only appropriate thematically, but vital to this deck’s strategy. Using the Steward or Henamarth Riversong to know what the next encounter card will be opens up a lot of possibilities. Cards like Ithilien Tracker, Ranger Spikes, Expecting Mischief, Needful to Know, and Out of the Wild all benefit from the wisdom and foresight of your wise men (and elves).
Instead of the seemingly automatic inclusion of A Test of Will, which doesn’t fit thematically, or have synergy with Master of Lore, this deck takes another approach to treachery-cancellation. If Denethor spies trouble on the top of the encounter deck, a timely use of Out of the Wild can be a life-saver. This also has the advantage that you can use it for pesky locations and enemies, not just “when revealed” effects. With a low starting threat, Needful to Know can also be used as threat-reduction to avoid treacheries that punish players for high threat. For that matter, since your threat technically starts at 20 with this deck, the secrecy cards can actually be used at their reduced cost, if you play them on the first round.
While Glorfindel is questing, this deck might struggle to subdue enemies. The basic strategy is going to be to stall until Gildor shows up to help out. This is where the Ranger Spikes and Forest Snares come in. For those enemies that you can’t dispatch by Expecting Mischief, you can always trap them in the staging area or after they engage with you. Once you get a bigger army of allies built up, you should not have a problem dispatching the trapped enemies. Traps that go to the discard pile can always be brought back by Erebor Hammersmith so that you can use them again. Lastly, Needful to Know can be timed to lower your threat to avoid unwanted enemy engagement.
The starting threat is a bit high, and the card synergies are not quite where I would like them to be, but this deck looks to only get better with the upcoming chapter pack cycle. The previously spoiled ranger, Anborn, will definitely have a place in this deck. He will not only provide a way to get traps back, but his 3 attack will be invaluable in helping the weaker heroes finish of engaged enemies. This deck may be more of a curiosity for now, but the great thing about Master of Lore is that he only gets better as time goes on. From here on out, each new Lore card with cost of 2 or more will get judged on a different scale, that is the very definition of a game-changing card.
Henamarth Riversong x2
Erebor Hammersmith x2
Miner of the Iron Hills x2
Master of the Forge x3
Warden of Healing x3
Ithilien Tracker x2
Master of Lore x3
Haldir of Lorien (AJtR) x2
Gildor Inglorion (THoEM) x2