The idea for this deck comes from a recent OCTGN game with Derek (aka Shipprekk) of The Last Ship. The central idea that he came up with is to attach Steward of Gondor and Gondorian Shield to Elrohir.
When paired with his brother Elladan, Elrohir becomes a solid defender with 3 defense and the ability to ready after defending. Ordinarily, it can be rather costly to pay a resource to ready Elrohir every time. With the extra resources from Steward of Gondor however, using Elrohir as a super-blocker is a much easier proposition. In addition, the Steward grants our elven friend the Gondor trait. With the shield, this means that Elrohir will have an massive 5 defense that he can use to block multiple enemies each round.
Elladan will obviously be a part of this deck, and will act as our attacker. Rivendell Blade will accentuate his attack of 3, allowing him to easily fell the tougher enemies. Rounding out our heroes, we will use Spirit Glorfindel to keep our starting threat low and give us access to Light of Valinor, A Test of Will, Elrond’s Counsel and powerful allies like Arwen Undomiel. Arwen pairs perfectly with Elrohir as she can boost his already impressive defense even further and give him sentinel, a critical ability for multiplayer games.
With three different spheres, paying for cards will be challenging in this deck. Fortunately, our heroes can handle most of the heavy lifting so we can fill the deck with mostly cheap cards to keep the deck fast. Our basic strategy for allies will be to utilize numerical superiority coupled with global effects like Faramir’s ability. As long as we survive the early rounds, our well-equipped heroes should be able to handle whatever challenges the enemies pose, while our army of allies handles questing duties.
Since we will be including a large number of cheap allies, Horn of Gondor is a natural fit as it essentially means chump blocking with a 1 cost ally can be free. This is a nice benefit since we may need to sacrifice allies in the early game while we load up our heroes with all of those attachments.
Silvan Refugee becomes a natural choice once we have the horn attached. Even if this ally only stays in play for a single round, we have essentially paid nothing for two extra willpower committed to the quest. If we happen to have valiant sacrifice in our hand when the Silvan leaves play, we can even gain card advantage out of the bargain.
This is an important thing to keep in mind when evaluating the relative value of a card – never judge a card in isolation. In an ideal situation, Elrohir will be doing all of the defending and we won’t need to chump block, which means that allies won’t be leaving play very often. If we can get a few rounds out of the Silvan before a sneaky Gandalf or bad luck with a treachery card causes her to be discarded, it was absolutely worth the single resource investment. People often look at cards with a downside and ask “why would I play this card in my deck, when there are good cards without a downside that I could play instead?”.
While this rationale may seem logical, it is missing the fundamental cost/benefit analysis at the heart of deck building. Why would I pay 1 less for Silvan Refugee when we could pay 2 for West Road Traveler? Aside from the better thematic fit, the Refugee makes strategic sense in a three sphere deck. That extra Spirit resource may allow us to still pay for A Test of Will when the game-breaking treachery is revealed during the quest phase. Or perhaps it saves the resource needed to also play Light of Valinor on Glorfindel and keep our threat low while gaining action advantage. In lucky cases, we may even draw two Silvan Refugees and be able to play them both. With Faramir’s help, we can have two allies questing for 6, instead of a single ally questing for 3. In the end, as long as we take steps to maximize the benefit of the Refugee (Horn of Gondor, Valiant Sacrifice, Faramir), we will always come out ahead for our investment, even if she doesn’t stay around the entire game. The difference between 1 resource and two, especially in the early game, is often more critical than having an ally that survives to see victory.
One last strategy to consider, in the rare event that chump blocking will be necessary, is to hold the Refugee back and use her to chump block. In this case, you never want to play more than a single Silvan Refugee at a time, but her drawback doesn’t matter if she is already on her way to the discard pile. This is actually a perfectly sound strategy, since this deck really only needs to stall until we get some attachments on the twins, and Faramir in play to drive questing. This even works perfectly if we’ve saved a Sneak Attack and Gandalf in our hand. Once Silvan Tracker leaves play after chump blocking, we are free to bring the Wizard into play without worrying about negative side-effects.
Snowbourn Scout x3
Knights of the Swan x3
Vassal of the Windlord x2
Silvan Refugee x3
Arwen Undomiel x2
Gandalf (Core) x3
Light of Valinor x3
Steward of Gondor x3
Horn of Gondor x2
Gondorian Shield x3
Rivendell Blade x3
Elrond’s Counsel x3
A Test of Will x3
Sneak Attack x3
Valiant Sacrifice x3