Deck: The Grey Company Defends Gondor

Steward of Gondorgondorian-shieldThe 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.

Silvan RefugeeFaramirSince 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.

elrohir elladan glorfindel

Glorfindel (FoS)

Allies: 24
Errand-Rider x3
Snowbourn Scout x3
Knights of the Swan x3
Vassal of the Windlord x2
Silvan Refugee x3
Arwen Undomiel x2
Erestor x2
Faramir x3
Gandalf (Core) x3

Attachments: 14
Light of Valinor x3
Steward of Gondor x3
Horn of Gondor x2
Gondorian Shield x3
Rivendell Blade x3

Events: 12
Elrond’s Counsel x3
A Test of Will x3
Sneak Attack x3
Valiant Sacrifice x3

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18 Responses to Deck: The Grey Company Defends Gondor

  1. Landroval says:

    Very nice deck

  2. Vladimir says:

    This deck looks really interesting. I’ll try it after I buy the rest of the DD APs that I don’t own yet.

  3. shipprekk says:

    All credit is due to Adam G, who mentioned the Steward/Shield combo when he guest hosted on COTR. But Beorn here took the idea and ran with it!

  4. Great deck, but UGH, it pains me every time I see only 4 different Event cards. How can anyone feel ok limiting themselves to so few cards when there are soo many other good cards?

    • Beorn says:

      Feel free to mix and match the events to your taste. The reason that I stuck with the basics (all zero or 1 cost) is because this is a three-sphere deck. With decks where resources are less constrained, I tend to be more creative in my mix of cards. Also, decks with more card draw can afford to have fewer copies of a wider variety of cards. Diluting this deck we would probably find that it plays very inconsistently.

      Originally, I had two copies of Hail of Stones in the deck, but ultimately cut them for some card draw. Even so, this deck is not really about the events. Certainly, they do help address some of its weak areas but they play a more supplemental role. Getting the Gondorian attachments on Elrohir and the blades on the other two heroes is really where this deck starts to excel. Thanks for the feedback. I will look to make more suggestions for alternative card choices in future decks.

  5. tomtom says:

    I’ve had a knack for E-brothers based deck for a long time and every time I tried, I failed miserably. Since there are three basic requirements for the brothers – resources, resources and more resources, my decks were based in similarity to the deck presented – draw SoG, proceed. Since then, I always ask myself when deckbuilding – what will your chance of survival be if you don’t draw that crucial card?

    • Beorn says:

      This has been my experience as well, which is why I have included 3 copies of Steward, 2 copies of Horn and some card draw. Even so, this deck can absolutely stall if you get a bad draw. I have long held out hope that FFG would print some (hopefully thematic) resource generation mechanism for elves. Dwarves definitely got it between Zigil Miner, We Are Not Idle and Thorin. Gondor, of course, has always had it. It makes it very hard to build thematic but effective elf decks when a) they are so resource intensive, and b) they have no appropriate means for generating extra resources.

  6. tomtom says:

    Yeah, you’re right, that’s not fair for elves to be left with no resource acceleration. We might only wish to get Cirdan or Celebrimbor to the rescue. Since we wait for it now (and I have faith that the next deluxe expansion will be elf-themed), I would lean on some more card draw and therefore swap some allies (Knight or Scouts) for 3xAncient Mathom.

    • Beorn says:

      Good call, the Knights are really only in here because I wanted to show that they could be effective as cheap allies, even outside of an Outlands deck. With both Elladan and Glorfindel, each potentially wielding Blades, the Knights are unnecessary. Swapping them for 3 copies of Ancient Mathom would definitely help with card draw. Come to think of it, the Vassals are an even better choice to remove, since they are yet another card that clashes with the Silvan Refugee.

  7. tomtom says:

    I forgot about something. While you mix E-brothers with Glorfindel, you have not one, but two crucial cards – when you play solo, Light of Valinor is necessary to make any progress and in 2 players game, you will also need some LoV to boost willpower unless the other player tends to not care about being active in other phases than questing. So in conclusion, you’re right: when it works, it works; whent it stalls, it sucks. Just imagine playing The Long Dark and watching 2 SoGs, 1 LoV and 1 GS going away during one test.

    • Beorn says:

      Ouch. This deck would definitely struggle against some scenarios. Also, some of the more recent ones with a lot of attachment hate would definitely necessitate adding 3 copies of Hasty Stroke. I can just imagine how awful it would be to have Elrohir loaded up with everything that he needs, only to have it all discarded by one ill-timed shadow card.

  8. tomtom says:

    It would be called “an almost immediate scenario reboot” 😀

  9. George says:

    Great deck!! Took out Knights, Vassals & 1 Valiant Sacrifice added 3 Hasty Strokes and 3 Ancient Mathoms. Cruised through The Stewards Fear and The Druadan Forest with no problems, even with bad card draws(no LoV) on the latter. 1st deck i have tried that has beaten both of those on the 1st try. Great work, many thanks!

    • Beorn says:

      Glad to hear it, George! Good call adding more card draw and some shadow cancelation. I really like how balanced the elves are against various quest types. I’m really hoping that Silvan and Noldor traits get more attention in upcoming APs so that this deck can get even better.

  10. George says:

    Having played a few more times through with this deck I was thinking of a good complimentary deck to play with 2 decks. The one thing that is really missing is healing, so why not a good healing deck combined with the Outlands? Below is the deck I constructed. Have played and beaten The Stewards Fear, The Druadan Forest and The Massing at Osgiliath with the 2 decks combined. They seam to work really well together, let me know what you thing or if they can be improved in any way. Thanks

    Aragorn (FO)
    Hirluin the Fair

    Miner of the Iron Hills x2
    Warden of Healing x3
    Daughter of Nimrodel x2
    Anfalas Herdsman x3
    Ethir Swordsman x3
    Warrior of Lossarnach x3
    Knights of the Swan x3
    Forlong x1
    Gandalf x2 (Core)
    Gandalf x1(Hobbit)

    Gaining Strength x3
    Rumors from the Earth x2
    Expecting Mischief x2
    Lore of Imladris x1
    Gildor’s Counsel x1

    Cram x3
    Vilya x2
    Unexpected Courage x2
    Steward of Gondor x1
    Ranger Spikes x2
    Celebrian’s Stone x2
    Asfaloth x2
    Sword That Was Broken x2
    Self Preservation x2

  11. Pingback: Decks: GenCon 2013 | Hall of Beorn

  12. Pingback: Elladan & Elrohir | Master of Lore

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