Deck: Reclaiming Khazad-dûm


Continuing in our recent series of thematic decks that propose alternate histories, we will explore one of the most fascinating locales in all of Middle-Earth. Founded by Durin the Deathless, eldest of the Seven Fathers of the Dwarves, Khazad-dûm was once the jewel in the crown of all dwarven kingdoms. Of all the creations of the Dwarves, the Dwarrowdelf (also know as Moria) was their greatest achievement and source of pride. As is so often the case in Tolkien’s works, this pride sewed the seeds of their downfall. After digging too deep and awakening one of Morgoth’s terrible demons, a Balrog forever more know as “Durin’s Bane”, the dwarves were forced to flee their ancestral home.

It was not until hundreds of years later, in the Third Age, that Balin left Erebor and entered Moria with a company of dwarves including Flói, Óin, Ori, Frár, Lóni, and Náli. Emboldened by his recent success with Thorin & Company at retaking Erebor from the fell dragon Smaug, Balin hoped to reclaim Durin’s great halls from the Orcs and other nameless things which now inhabited them.

Astute readers will notice the absence of certain “auto-include” cards from each sphere. Even though the deck makes use of all four spheres, key cards like Sneak Attack, Feint, A Test of Will and Warden of Healing are not included. This is intentional and fits thematically with the story that this deck is telling. In their arrogance, Balin and Company essentially showed up at the gates of Moria and assumed that they would be able retake their ancestral home with little resistance.

king-under-the-mountainIt is no slight to Balin, but the demon of Khazad-dûm had faced far mightier foes and their once great halls were teeming with Orcs. In returning the way he did, Balin showed great bravery, but he also showed the same hubris that was the bane of so many of his kindred. It’s telling that this deck would be much better served with Dain Ironfoot. The King Under the Mountain at Erebor actually warned Balin not to go, but heedless of the advice of his elders, Balin was not to be deterred.

For those that want a more competitive build of this deck, feel free to swap out some of the thematic choices for more traditional cards. Ever My Heart Rises and Untroubled By Darkness, for example, are perfect in terms of the mood they reflect. However, for above ground scenarios, these cards will be less useful and can be swapped out for the staples of your choosing. Regardless of where on the thematic vs. competitive spectrum you choose to play it, as a multi-sphere deck, this will take a few rounds to get going.

We Are Not IdleA Good HarvestOn of the interesting things about making this deck, is that in order to remain true to the history, my hero choices were made for me. This meant that, like it no, this deck has have access all four spheres. Typically I prefer to design decks a bit more focused, but this exercise in historical fiction was a great opportunity to utilize some cards that haven’t yet made any appearances in my decks. A Good Harvest has tremendous potential in multi-sphere decks as the ultimate resource smoothing event. In combination with Gaining Strength and the time-honored, and very much appropriate, We Are Not Idle + Lure of Moria, the resource acceleration in this deck should greatly ease the friction that comes with a multi-sphere deck.

Another interesting aspect of this deck is the inclusion of 2 copies of most cards, rather than 3. Again, necessity is the mother of invention, and the reasons were two-fold. With an explicit goal of wanting to include as many thematically appropriate cards as possible, it became obvious early on that I would need to include fewer copies of each card. At first glance this would seem to put us in danger of terrible inconsistency, particularly with cards from each of the four spheres being drawn all willy-nilly.

Legacy of DurinDaeron's RunesFortunately, like the moon runes on Thror’s Map, the constraints of the hero choices helped point to a solution. Ori has one of the better card draw abilities in the game, and in an exclusively Dwarf deck, he has natural affinity with Legacy of Durin and Daeron’s Runes (yet another thematic win). Balin, in turn, is a natural fit – both historically and strategically – for King Under the Mountain, so that is included as well. All told, there is an almost absurd amount of card draw, which should make it a bit easier to get the resources going, once we can get 5 dwarves in play.

More so than most typical dwarf decks, this one can start really slowly, but once it gets going it can hold its own admirably. Unfortunately, and again accurately so, this deck is not really capable of handling the more challenging scenarios like Shadow and Flame. Poor Balin, if only he had shown a bit of humility and heeded Dain’s counsel.

Balin Oin Ori


Allies: 22
Erebor Record Keeper x3
Miner of the Iron Hills x2
Zigil Miner x3
Dwalin x2
Fili x2
Kili x2
Glóin x2
Bifur x2
Bofur (TRG) x2
Erebor Battle Master x2

Attachments: 12
King Under the Mountain x2
Narvi’s Belt x3
Dwarrowdelf Axe x2
Ring Mail x2
Ever My Heart Rises x1
Legacy of Durin x2

Events: 16
A Good Harvest x2
Daeron’s Runes x3
A Very Good Tale x2
We Are Not Idle x2
Gaining Strength x3
Untroubled by Darkness x2
Lure of Moria x2

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9 Responses to Deck: Reclaiming Khazad-dûm

  1. TalesfromtheCards says:

    I really like these alternate history decks. No matter how thematically all over the place some of the decks I build are, I always try to imagine in my head what the backstory could possibly be to justify characters coming together. However, it’s nice to see this thematic experimentation tightened up and pursued full bore. Regarding Moria, one of my biggest disappointments is probably The Long Dark quest. I’m hoping a Nightmare version will turn it into the quest it has the potential to be. Perhaps really simulating darkness by taking away your ability to know what the enemies in the staging area are, or forcing you to take different paths with different cards on each route.

    • Glaurung says:

      Hmmm Long Dark is really cool quest but to get it you must to play at least 3 players. Solo or 2 players there is no way to see combo of encounter deck. But suddenly everything change when you add third player. Really hard and interesting to play and lost start to work! Try it you will see.
      I wait for KD nightmare, should be very good

      • Beorn says:

        Absolutely. I am also really excited by the about the Nightmare decks being used to evolve and improve existing scenarios. Mrs. Beorn and I have been able to beat Nightmare mode Passage Through Mirkwood and Journey Along the Anduin, but we have not yet tried Escape from Dol Guldur in Nightmare mode. We still need to figure out which decks we will use for that.

    • Beorn says:

      I really like the idea of facedown enemies in the staging area. They could have a default number of threat and be immune to player card effects and then have some trigger that causes them to flip. I guess this is technically similar to the underworld idea in The Steward’s Fear, but I really like the idea of the unknown “monster in the dark”. Light sources become that much more valuable in that circumstance. I was always a bit bummed that the elven blades don’t provide light (when Orcs are nearby) like they did in the books.

  2. Pingback: Narvi’s Belt | Master of Lore

  3. Dr. Biddix says:

    Sorry to reply on an old post, but finally just for KD and am able to play with dwarves. You have several different dwarf decks out here – do you have a favorite for true solo? I keep hearing how powerful dwarf decks are, but haven’t found one yet I favored. Also, I know the swam/build up approach seems favorable with dwarves, but what about an aggro build? Thanks!

    • Beorn says:

      An Aggro build around Dain, Thorin and Gloin would be a lot of fun. You have Narvi’s Belt to splash other spheres and it gives you access to Strength of Arms for all of those Dwarf allies. I’d need to work out the details, and it might fail miserably against certain scenarios, but I am positive that it would be a lot of fun to play.

  4. Dr. Biddix says:

    I’m guessing Thorin and Gloin for the resource generation?Then maybe have battlemasters and a mapmaker or two in there as one of few allies (this would be a less ally-heavy deck?)…I keep going back to Balin in this type of deck for the cancellation.

    Anyway, I’d love to see what you come up with. I enjoy playing dwarves, but I find myself turtling more than I want to get the swarm out and would like to see an aggro variant.

    • Beorn says:

      Good call, Balin is a better choice for the third hero. That also frees you up to use ally Gloin. Along with Fili, Kili and the newly spoiled ally Gimli, the deck will have some excellent support. I would also include Erebor Battle Master, which you can play using Narvi’s Belt or A Very Good Tale.

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