Decks: GenCon 2013

Before packing up my mead and honey-cakes and heading off on a trip to the far-away land of Indianapolis, I need to build a couple of decks for GenCon 2013. If the Stone of Erech event held by FFG is anything like those of years past, the scenario is going to be extremely challenging. Without knowing any details about the encounter deck, or who I will be matched up playing with, I have decided to build two powerful decks which complement each other and can handle most situations. The hope is that, no matter what kind of deck my eventual partner is playing, one of these decks will be able to hold its own. If there is a problem with duplicate heroes, we can always just use these two decks together.

One other goal for these decks is to make something different, to start to develop an archetype that is in some ways unique. With Dwarves and now Outlands well-established as powerhouse archetypes, these decks are going off the beaten path with an interesting hybrid of Gondor and Noldor/Silvan cards. My hope, and one that many players probably share, is that these two archetypes will eventually get enough support to field top-tier decks on their own. In the mean time, these decks will represent the alliance between the men of Gondor and the few elves who chose to take part in the War of the Ring.

The Galadhrim's GreetingWhile I always strive to maintain thematic cohesion in my decks, style will definitely be secondary to strategic effectiveness in this case. Knowing that we will be facing an extremely difficult scenario, there is very little room for thematic niceties. That said, once you get over the idea of an elf holding the title of Steward of Gondor, these decks do tell a rather interesting story.

I have been testing each of these decks, together as well as in solo play, including against the Core Set Nightmare scenarios. Fielding these two decks, Mrs. Beorn and I were able to beat the Nightmare version of Escape from Dol Guldur, so that should give you a sense of their potential effectiveness. While they are each built around fundamentally different core strategies, neither one can really be said to be the “support” deck. Likewise, neither one is really the “primary” deck for any given task – they both share the load for most aspects of the game.

DenethorThe first deck is titled Secrets of the Wise, and features Denethor, Glorfindel (Spirit) and the new hero Mirlonde. While many people still see Mirlonde as an underwhelming character, her ability opens up new possibilities when it comes to threat-management in general, and secrecy decks specifically. With a starting threat of 19 and multiple ways to lower threat, it may at first seem surprising that Resourceful is the only secrecy card to make an appearance in this deck. While both Spirit and Lore include other options for Secrecy cards, none of them made sense for the strategies that this deck employs.

resourcefulWith Steward of Gondor featured prominently in the other deck, Resourceful provides our essential resource generation and is something that we should look for in our opening hand. Aside of that, the deck is a study in efficiency. Silvan Refugee provides excellent questing at the bargain cost of 1 resource. Asfaloth and A Burning Brand are two attachments with abilities that cannot be matched elsewhere, and other means for emulating their effects are either too conditional or too expensive. Warden of Healing and Silvan Tracker provide the healing, the later of which combines well with Mirlonde and Legolas to soak up archery and other non-combat damage.

Gandalf (HOHaUH)Gandalf from the core set provides a bit more versatility to bolster our already solid card-drawing, as well as provide direct damage and some additional threat-reduction. With so much threat reduction, it begs the question of including more secrecy cards. Instead of the encounter deck manipulation or combat avoidance events that we could include, this deck uses the new Gandalf as the perfect complement for all of the threat-reduction. Being able to quest without exhausting, right alongside Glorfindel, this version of Mithrandir gives the deck superior action advantage. With such a low threat, this deck was able to take each of the threat-raising objectives in Escape From Dol Guldur, leaving the other deck to focus on combat.

The ability to draw additional cards is essential for any deck to excel, particularly in more recent scenarios that throw many challenges at players, right out of the gate. Master of the Forge, Gleowine, Daeron’s Runes and Mithrandir’s Advice are all inexpensive ways to see more cards. Expert Treasure-Hunter is an absolute bargain and has the advantage that it can provide the other deck with a repeatable card-drawing effect. Once Imladris Stargazer is in play, the risk of Expert Treasure-Hunter is completely mitigated, but I have had success using it without the astronomical Elf. Remember, there is often nothing wrong with choosing whatever card type you need most and triggering the blindly; if another card type is discarded, you’re just one card closer to what you were looking for.

Arwen UndomielSilvan RefugeeWith Glorfindel and Mirlonde and some Silvan Refugees handling questing duties, Denethor is left as our primary defender. He pairs very well with Arwen as she boosts his defense and allows him to aid the other deck if combat gets really out of hand. For the most part, questing, healing and treachery cancellation are mainstays of this deck, but Gandalf and Glorfindel are no slouches when it comes to combat. The other deck can definitely help in this regard, as a Gondorian Shield on Denethor and Rivendell Blade on Glorfindel will turn either of those two into a force in their own right. Since this deck is less martially capable, three copies of Ranger Spikes help stall while the other deck gets equipped.

elrohir elladanThe second deck is a modified version of my recent The Grey Company Defends Gondor deck that I have dubbed Called to the Sea. The core strategy is to get Steward of Gondor and Gondorian Shield on Elrohir and use him as our super-defender. Depending on circumstances, his sister Arwen can even give him aid from the other deck. With 6 defense, sentinel, and the ability to block multiple times, Elrohir can effectively take on an army of enemies. With healing provided by the other deck, for those rare cases where an enemy manages to deal damage, Elrohir should be nigh on indestructible.

Rivendell BladeElladan is rarely needed for combat and will usually be sent questing. Legolas is around to finish off enemies, along with Blade of Gondolin his ability also aids in making quest progress and clearing active locations. Rivendell Blade is also a great target for Legolas, Elrohir (since he is usually ready for counter-attacks after all of that blocking), or Glorfindel in the other deck. Foe-Hammer provides some much needed card draw and Bofur (the lone thematic outcast) is essential to help get everything setup. Last but certainly not least, Hands Upon the Bow is amazing with Legolas, especially if you can give the Elf a Rivendell Blade first. Being able to kill enemies before quest resolution and add progress to the quest is a big part of any aggressive strategy.

Book of EldacarThe Book of Eldacar does its best Háma impression and allows us to reuse our most valuable Tactics events a second time. This card may seem expensive with a cost of 2 in this deck, but every single time it comes up there is always an immediate use for it. Whether you recycle a Hands Upon the Bow to kill an enemy with a terrible engagement effect, or a Feint to buy Elrohir some respite, getting multiple uses out of Tactics events is always a good idea.

With a starting threat that is rather high at 29, threat-reduction can be important, especially in scenarios with a lot of doomed cards and nasty treacheries. Gandalf and Sneak Attack are both included in triplicate, so even if the other deck doesn’t find The Galadhrim’s Greeting, we will usually be able to manage threat. In cases where Threat is not a problem, drawing 3 cards and having another body around for questing is certainly useful. With plenty of direct damage and an almost manic level of combat readiness, the direct-damage effect of Gandalf won’t often be needed, but it’s good to have it there just in case.

FaramirWhile willpower may at first seem rather weak in this deck, there are solutions. While Legolas will be sniping everything that he can in the staging area, a pair of Leadership allies can help bolster our party’s willpower. Erestor provides 2 willpower and an absolutely critical ability to replace duplicate cards with something useful. Faramir, the less-heralded son of Denethor provides an equally important ability as he can boost our rag-tag group of messengers, envoys, and avian thralls into a proper adventuring company. Alternatively, he can increase the willpower of the already impressive characters in the Lore/Spirit deck to previously unseen levels.

I hope to meet some of you at GenCon, this is my first year attending and I am excited to finally meet even a few members of this fantastic community. This is one of my favorite games to play, especially with great company and in a fun setting. Tolkien paid special attention in his writing to the enjoyment and merry-making of the free folk of Middle-Earth. It is only fitting that we should play a game based on his works in similar fashion. For those that cannot make it, I hope that you enjoy these decks as a consolation. Wish me luck on my journey to the Stone of Erech!

Secrets of the Wise

Denethor
Mirlonde
Glorfindel (FoS)

Allies: 20
Silvan Refugee x2
Arwen Undomiel x2
Imladris Stargazer x3
Warden of Healing x3
Gleowine x1
Master of the Forge x2
Silvan Tracker x1
Northern Tracker x1
Haldir of Lorien x1
Gildor Inglorion x1
Gandalf (Core) x2
Gandalf (H:OHaUH) x1

Attachments: 18
Expert Treasure-Hunter x3
Resourceful x3
Light of Valinor x3
Protector of Lorien x1
A Burning Brand x2
Asfaloth x2
Ranger Spikes x3
Unexpected Courage x1

Events: 12
Daeron’s Runes x3
Elrond’s Counsel x3
A Test of Will x3
Mithrandir’s Advice x2
The Galadhrim’s Greeting x1

Called to the Sea

Elladan
Elrohir
Legolas

Allies: 20
Errand-Rider x3
Vassal of the Windlord x2
Envoy of Pelargir x3
Gondorian Spearman x2
Bofur (H:OHaUH) x3
Erestor x2
Faramir x2
Gandalf (Core) x3

Attachments: 17
Cram x2
Steward of Gondor x3
Rivendell Blade x3
Rivendell Bow x1
Blade of Gondolin x3
Gondorian Shield x3
Book of Eldacar x2

Events: 13
Sneak Attack x3
Foe-Hammer x3
Goblin-Cleaver x2
Feint x2
Hands Upon the Bow x3

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17 Responses to Decks: GenCon 2013

  1. Glaurung says:

    wish you luck with those 2 decks and dont forget give us some reports about the quest and some pictures of the cards and gaming proses on gencon. Thanks

    • Beorn says:

      Yes, once I get back I will be reviewing the Stone of Erech scenario. Everyone will be able to see just how badly I get my ass kicked! 🙂

  2. These decks look pretty sweet. Somewhat surprised to not see Dunedain Watcher in Called to the Sea. Just wondering how you use Mirlonde during the game? Is she usually a quester for you?

    • Beorn says:

      Dunedain Watcher is a great fit, especially for scenarios with chaining shadow cards; I’m hoping that I don’t see any of that nonsense, but it certainly is a possibility. Miner of the Iron Hills is similarly a good option for Secrets of the Wise. These utility allies will comprise a “sideboard” so that I can make adjustments to the decks if any one aspect of the encounter deck proves troublesome. Mirlonde is primarily a questing hero. For scenarios that are enemy-heavy she also can help in combat. Between her and Glorfindel, they can kill many enemies in one round, especially if Glorfindel has a Rivendell Blade.

  3. Casey says:

    I have been tinkering around using Mirlonde and Strider; her ability paired with his is an excellent form of threat control. I’m excited for Faramir and “Assault on Osgiliath” to be released so I can start working on a fun ranger-themed mono lore deck.

    The “Stone of Erech” quest might involve fighting loads of Soldiers of the Dead, and that prospect could mean the difficulty would be high, indeed! At any rate, it should be really cool, and I wish I could go see it in action (as well as get my hands on an early copy of the Black Riders expansion!)

  4. Glaurung says:

    Yes to get Stone of Erech +BR and Assault at Osgiliat in 1 go is amazing!!! Lucky boys!
    I hope you can share some cards pictures so i can make a proxy for now until i got original ones.

  5. Pingback: Contest: Most Underrated Hero | Hall of Beorn

  6. wehehe says:

    Reading your post I got a doubt. Can the book of Eldacar (and other books) be used to play an event with a triggered Response effect?

    I thougt it was not possible, because the book has “a non triggered action”, which usually you cannot play when the trigger of the action you want to play (in that case, foe-hammer) is met.

    It was an error writting the post, or I was totally wrong in my interpretation of the rules?

    PD: Sorry if they are any mistakes in the text.

    • Beorn says:

      You are correct. You cannot use any of the books to play Response events. Because Feint and Hands Upon the Bow are actions, it works fine with them. I have amended the text to not include Foe-Hammer in the list of cards that can be used with the Book of Eldacar. The Spirit version of the book is even harder to use, because many of the best Spirit events are responses.

      • wehehe says:

        Ok, I just thought it was me who was wrong. As you say… the spirit one is harder than the tactics one, but even with this… in a mono spirit deck I think it deserves at least two slots. The one I think it would be a little overpowered will be the Leadership one… allowing to play up to 6 sneaky Gandalfs…

        Anyways, good post, as always!

  7. Sean says:

    How would you change these two decks with the current card pool? Also, could you recommend a third support deck that doesn’t interfere with the characters used in these decks and doesn’t overlap too much in terms of the cards used? Seems like glorifindel blue quickly becomes a problem and a lot of duplicate noncore spirit cards would be needed by the support deck… I started using these decks as they were very close to what I was using… The tactic one is only abot 10% different than mine! and the knowledge deck was very similar to my elrond deck… So they were good variants for me.
    Also great website!!!

  8. Pingback: Deck: GenCon 2014 | Hall of Beorn

  9. Sean says:

    Feel like the problem there is the heavy use of either the accelerants (especially steward of gondor, or resourceful)… Closely followed by the overuse of the spirit sphere cards, or resource fixing like envoy and/or powerful odds-end cards that overlap between the decks…. Basically, if you pulled 3 of your decks at random two of them would end up with steward issue or need 9 copies of resourcefull, and most likely 6 plus copies of the blue threat reduction spirit cards… Probably 6 shields of gondor, and don’t get me started on spirit glorifindel. Not a criticism… I understand that these cards are all powerful, but man it creates sort of a conundrum… Especially on steward.

  10. Sean says:

    Overuse was a bad word… Not a criticism… More like forced overuse…. Really seems to only be two really good accelerants for resources. And glorifindel spirit really seems to be a problem as I always feel the need to reach for him… And that complicates thing… Totally agree on the spirit cards the counters and threat reduction cards are always getting looked at…. I have a few core sets, but no extra copies of expansions and decks… That is what is killing me… I want to play this with a group and I guess I just need to bite the bullet and buy a few extras… Really wish somebody sold singles, but only place I have found is in Germany and that is cost prohibitive and the cards are I’m German.
    I quite enjoy your decks, and thus far this is the best site I have found…
    One of the other issues I was finding is a few of hy resource fixing cards like envoy and errand rider… I feel like I need this all the time.
    Just frustrates me, but again not a criticism at all… I love looking through your decks… They are very similar to what I produce but you always seem to find something that I didn’t.
    On your non-steward westerfold suggestion, that is exactly what I am doing (except I will simply buy the shields and I actually have the extra cards for everything except the mana fixing). I figure to use the many fixing on westerfold instead of the other two decks as it is trispere and more prone to issues… Would appreciate your suggestions anything else to use the two stone gencon decks with westerfold… I do t think I could as easily use aggro boramir with them… Just too many conflicts.

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