Deck: Flight to the Ford

flight_to_the_ford

‘Ride forward! Ride!’ cried Glorfindel to Frodo.

He did not obey at once, for a strange reluctance seized him. Checking the horse to a walk, he turned and looked back. The Riders seemed to sit upon their great steeds like threatening statues upon a hill, dark and solid, while all the woods and lands about them receded as if into mist. Suddenly he knew in his heart that they were silently commanding him to wait. Then at once fear and hatred awoke in him. His hand left the bridle and gripped the hilt of his sword, and with a red flash he drew it.

‘Ride on! Ride on!’ cried Glorfindel, and then loud and clear he called to the horse in the elf-tongue: noro lim, noro lim, Asfaloth!

After a long absence wandering the Misty Mountains, I have returned to bring you a new deck list. The Steward’s Fear introduced some powerful new player cards. While most of the Adventure Pack focused on character with the new Outlands trait, I find myself more interested in one of the attachment cards.

Ring of BarahirThe Ring of Barahir was originally given to Barahir by the Elven Lord Finrod Felagund, in reward for saving his life in Dagor Bragollach. It was a sign of eternal friendship between Finrod and the House of Barahir and it became an heirloom which Aragorn ultimately inherited.

In game terms, it has a particularly interesting effect, giving the bearer an additional hit point for each Artifact they carry. Since the ring is itself an Artifact, it conveys a minimum of 1 additional hit point to the wearer. With so many powerful artifacts available to the Heir of Isildur, one of the themes of this deck is to load Aragorn up with all of his heirlooms and empower him in his struggle to hold off the Black Riders.

The Flight to the Ford is a critical moment in the Lord of the Rings. The Dark Lord has finally showed his hand and sends the Nazgûl, in broad daylight, to catch Frodo before he can reach the safety of Elrond’s house in Rivendell. If not for the bravery and quick thinking of his companions, Frodo, the One Ring, and the future of all Middle-Earth, would have been lost. This deck is an attempt to recreate this epic moment in the story.

Rather than simply choose all of the most powerful cards, I tried, where possible, to adhere to the most thematically appropriate choices. That is not to say that this deck is not powerful – far from it. The choice of heroes, and many of their corresponding attachments, all have a great deal of synergy. For the Boromir players who prefer more competitive decks, I encourage you to replace the more theme-centered cards with your favorite power cards.

One last note: I designed this deck with one Core Set in mind. For those who own multiple copies of the Core Set, or don’t mind proxies, you may want to add 1 additional copy of the following cards: Celebrian’s Stone, Unexpected Courage, Steward of Gondor and A Test of Will. You can cut a copy of Ancient Mathom, Asfaloth, Miruvor and Word of Command to make room for these cards. The deck should play just fine without these extra copies, but you will find that their addition allows it to perform more consistently.

AsfalothFrodo BagginsLore of Imladris

Heroes:
Aragorn (TWitW)
Glorfindel (FoS)
Frodo Baggins (CatC)

Allies: 16
Arwen Undomiel x2
Imladris Stargazer x3
Master of the Forge x3
Rivendell Minstrel x2
Northern Tracker x3
Gandalf (Core) x3 (this can be swapped for the Hobbit Gandalf at your preference)

Attachments: 26
Song of Kings x3
Celebrian’s Stone x1
Steward of Gondor x2 (admittedly less thematic)
Sword that was Broken x2 (technically, Aragorn doesn’t get this until he arrives)
Ancient Mathom x2
Miruvor x3
Light of Valinor x3
Ring of Barahir x2
Unexpected Courage x1
Fast Hitch x1
A Burning Brand x2
Asfaloth x2
Self Preservation x2

Events: 8
Elrond’s Counsel x3
A Test of Will x2
Word of Command x2 (Gandalf adds his own touches to the waves of the Bruinen)
Lore of Imladris x1 (The only thing that saves Frodo’s life)

Rivendell MinstrelWith a low starting threat and heroes with balanced stats, the deck can handle the various challenges that the Dark Lord’s servants might present. The most important thing to look for in the opening hand is a Song of Kings, or at least a card that will help us draw one. Between Master of the Forge, Rivendell Minstrel and Word of Command, there are plenty of ways to find the song. With Word of Command, don’t forget to use it during the Refresh phase, after Gandalf has readied, and before he leaves play, that way we can get the most use from the Istari.

Sword that Was BrokenOnce you do have Aragorn singing that song, he will be able to assume the title of Steward of Gondor. This allows him to pay for all of the Artifacts that are his birthright. With the Sword that was Broken, Celebrian’s Stone and the Ring of Barahir, Aragorn will have 5 willpower and an impressive 8 hit points. Give him A Burning Brand and a knack for Self Preservation and he will have no problem facing the Black Riders.

Ancient Mathom pairs well with Asfaloth for even more chances at drawing your most need cards. While the horse would normally attach to Glorfindel, you can attach him to Frodo for stylistic bonus points (Yes, technically Asfaloth can only be attached to Silvan and Noldor characters, but I consider this a design oversight given the horse’s actual role in the story). Miruvor, Light of Valinor, Fast Hitch and Unexpected Courage all provide action advantage, something that is all the more valuable as each of our heroes has at least two good stats. Self Preservation and Lore of Imladris round out the deck with some healing and we can freely use Frodo’s ability to cancel damage from undefended attacks, knowing that Strider will be able to reset our threat later in the game.

While building decks for some of the more difficult recent scenarios, I find that I sometimes lose sight of the deeper beauty of this game. The cards are more than just numbers to be analyzed for maximal utility, they represent actual characters and events from Middle-Earth. The world of Tolkien is a magical place, filled with wonder and adventure, sometimes it’s good to take a step back from the minutiae of strategy and focus on the narrative. With the announcement of the first of the new Saga Expansions based specifically on the story of the Lord of the Rings, we can look forward to many more cards to help us build these kinds of thematic decks.

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13 Responses to Deck: Flight to the Ford

  1. Hastur360 says:

    I do like to have my decks be useful but I also like them to be full of theme as well. Your last comment is how I feel at times in many other games that people lose sight of theme, mainly because those games do not lend themselves so well to theme as does the LotR LCG. Also with FFG releasing the easy mode rules it is now possible for people who enjoy themed decks to have a bit of an easier time with quests.

  2. I hope your orc hunt in the Misty Mountains was successful. Welcome back to your Hall! I’d greet you by setting a feast, but I’m not a long-bodied grey dog walking on my hind legs. Sorry!

    Instead, I’ll just thank you for a wonderful article about lore, strategy, and thematic deck building with a fantastic nod to the narrative. Thanks for the great read! Only 6 more months until Black Riders; I think I know what deck to try first.

  3. shipprekk says:

    Nice! I had a similar idea: (Leadership) Aragorn, Bilbo, and Elrond. Great minds, no? So far, mine has been too top-heavy (that’s a thing, right?); it takes too long to get both the Elrond/Vilya and Aragorn/artifact machines rolling and it kind of stalls out. Lots of nice draw, though. Once I iron it out we’ll compare notes.

  4. Very exciting that soon we will be able to use this deck in the actual flight to the ford!

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  6. Matthias says:

    Wonderful deckbuilding, a perfect blend of theme and power. I like the well integrated leadership splash because the deck has different ways to find the so important Song of Kings instead of purely relying on a good first hand.
    I really enjoy reading your blog, especially your decks. Your deckbuilding approach shows a deep understanding of strategy, creativity and a distinctive personal style.

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  10. Dr. Biddix says:

    Any substitute suggestions for Ring of Barahir and Word of Command? My card pool is a bit limited as I’m pretty new to the game, but I’ve got most of the first two cycles (not TLD, of course) and Black Riders.

    • Beorn says:

      Ring of Barahir can be replaced by Protector of Lórien and Word of Command can be replaced by Daeron’s Runes, Gléowine, or some other for of card draw effect. Good luck!

  11. dragonwarriorfan says:

    Re-reading Flight to the Ford now has made me want to revisit this deck. It was one of the first I used successfully for several early quests and I appreciate the them even more so now. I was wondering, though, given the current card pool, what changes/additions would you make? Altheas has come out since this, lots of great new Dunedain allies etc and I think even Oh Elbereth! came out after this deck.

    PS-enjoyed meeting you at GenCon and thanks again for this blog!

    • Beorn says:

      Thanks! I don’t recognize your handle, so I’m not sure which of the nice people that I met at Gen Con I am responding to. I could see including Athelas as a sideboard card (it doesn’t fit for every scenario), but I would have to think about what other changes to make. I really want to like Star Brooch, but even in a thematic deck like this it seems a bit too niche. I can definitely see A Elbereth Gilthoniel as an option here. Gather Information is another great addition. As for Dunedain allies I think Weather Hills Watchman and Sarn Ford Sentry probably make the most sense. I agree that this deck deserves to be re-evaluated in the context of the modern card pool.

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