Deck: Boromir Leads the Charge!

White Christmas Tree of Gondor

On the most recent episode of The Grey Company podcast, our discussion about deck-building has inspired me to try something a little bit different. For most of the Against the Shadow cycle, the Gondor trait seemed to be sadly under-developed, but it looks like the developers were just saving the best for last. Visionary Leadership, one of a few powerful cards in The Morgul, is the missing piece to puzzle. Leadership Boromir can finally take his rightful place as the general in Gondor-themed decks.

Visionary LeadershipIn addition to dabbling with the Gondor trait, the focus on mono-sphere decks in Against the Shadow has been intriguing, if not always accessible. With the possible exception of Lore (Mithrandir’s Advice is amazing and Mirlonde is criminally underrated), mono-sphere decks are still very difficult to design. Particularly if you want to build a deck with stylistic cohesion, with traits and factions that share a common theme, there simply aren’t enough Gondor heroes to make this work.

Gondor is no different from the other traits in this regard. In preparation for this article, I built and tested dozens of Gondor decks featuring Leadership Boromir. Unfortunately, many of the results where less than stellar. When I stuck to all Gondor heroes, there were two consistent problems that I could not seem to avoid.

First of all, the willpower of Gondor heroes is decidedly lacking. This means that Gondor-themed decks will struggle to quest in the early game. Sure, Visionary Leadership and Faramir will allow Leadership-based Gondor decks to become questing power-houses, but these cards take time to setup. Allies have to be mustered, and extra resources have to be saved in order for everything to work properly. The biggest weakness for these decks is the early game. You need to hold back characters like Boromir for defending and attacking, but the other Gondor heroes simply don’t have much to offer in the way of willpower.

CaldaraEven questing with your other two heroes, and a cheap ally or two, you will often be struggling to break even in the early rounds. It is worth noting that Caldara is actually a great boon to Gondor, even if you ignore her costly ability. Her 2 willpower for a relatively low starting threat gives you a better chance of questing successfully in the early rounds than all but the Prince of Dol Amroth.

Make no mistake, breaking even on the quest in the early rounds is dangerous. Not making progress means that the staging area will be filling up with locations, and you will find yourself engaging enemies too quickly to ever develop a sizable army of allies. Every deck needs to be able to send multiple characters (with decent willpower) to the quest while holding back enough defenders to be able to deal with enemies in the staging area. Even if your threat is low enough, leaving everything in the staging area can spell your doom.

That leads to the other problem with decks featuring all Gondor heroes: high starting threat. Gondor has some great heroes, but when you put them all into a deck, you will find your starting threat looming at or above 30. This might not be an issue in a combat-heavy tactics deck, but in a deck that needs a few round to ramp up its ally base, this is a death sentence. Excessive chump blocking in a Gondor-themed deck is counter-productive. You want all of those allies in play to take advantage of Boromir, Faramir and Visionary Leadership.

Beregond smallIn trying all of these hero combinations, I built an interesting but flawed deck, which featured Leadership Boromir, Prince Imrahil and Beregond. To be fair, this deck did quite well against some scenarios, particularly if I was lucky enough to get Sneak Attack and Gandalf in the early rounds. But that combo works well in even the most poorly constructed decks in the game. I want to see if it is possible to design a consistently effective Gondor deck. Relying on tricks like this is not enough for me to say that a deck is well-built.

Hill TrollAs recently discussed on the FFG forums, there are a handful of scenarios that serve as a good test of the overall effectiveness of a deck. Journey Along the Anduin and Massing at Osgiliath, in addition to being well-designed and fun quests, are both great tests for a new deck design. With a starting threat of 32, my Leadership/Tactics Gondor deck only managed to beat each of those scenarios once, out of several attempts.

Essentially, if I had Sneak Attack and Gandalf in my early hands, I had a chance. Otherwise, the deck would be overwhelmed by the Hill Troll and countless other enemies. Massing at Osgiliath, while a different quest, poses similar issues for decks with high starting threat. You have to be able to weather the initial rush of enemies and start building your army as quickly as possible.

Another issue that exacerbates the inconsistency of these decks is the relative lack of card drawing effects in Leadership. Sure, you could add Denethor as one of your starting heroes, and gain access to all of Lore’s amazing card draw and healing effects, but then you would be in a situation where two of your starting heroes are terrible at traditional questing. This may work for some of the Heirs of Númenor scenarios, but as a general-purpose deck, it would be a disaster.

FaramirWith that in mind, I have had to get a little creative with the hero roster on this, my first attempt at a truly Gondor-themed deck. With the exception of two of my heroes, and three must-have copies of Gandalf from the core set, every character in this deck has the Gondor trait. It makes great use of Boromir’s ability, and the tremendous power of both Visionary Leadership and Faramir. I will not claim that it works against all scenarios, but as a general-purpose deck against the

Since I wanted this to be a deck where Boromir was the undisputed leader, it purposefully does not include the old Leadership standard: Aragorn and Sword that was Broken. This deck represents Boromir the general, leading the army of Gondor into glorious battle against the forces of the Dark Lord. For extra flavor, I encourage players to look at mixing in cards like For Gondor!, Valiant Sacrifice, and Tome of Atanator.

The fact that the other two heroes are not Gondor will have to be forgiven, because their simply aren’t enough Gondor heroes, particularly with lower threat and decent willpower, for this deck to be completely thematically accurate. Hopefully the coming cycles will bring some other more supplemental Gondor heroes, and this deck can be improved upon. In the mean time, this is the most consistently effective deck that I was able to design with Boromir as the center-piece.

Boromir (HoN)BalinSam Gamgee

Heroes:
Boromir (HoN)
Balin
Sam Gamgee

Allies: 24
Errand-rider x3
Squire of the Citadel x3
Envoy of Pelargir x3
Pelargir Ship Captain x3
Guard of the Citadel x2
White Tower Watchman x2
Faramir x3
Citadel Custodian x2
Gandalf x3

Attachments: 11
Steward of Gondor x3
Visionary Leadership x3
King Under the Mountain x3
Dúnedain Warning x2

Events: 15
A Very Good Tale x3
Wealth of Gondor x3
Gaining Strength x2
We Are Not Idle x2
Sneak Attack x3
Strength of Arms x2

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21 Responses to Deck: Boromir Leads the Charge!

  1. TalesfromtheCards says:

    Nice deck, and I agree with you that Gondor’s hero selection doesn’t make for a very friendly starting position. As for mono-sphere, I find that mono-Spirit, mono-Leadership, and mono-Lore can all work quite well nowadays (mono-Tactics can against certain quests), but you usually have to be willing to play very fast and loose with theme. It just may be that true Gondor decks mainly are a multiplayer build, and that is their role in this game, at least for now.

    • Beorn says:

      You’re right, Mono-Spirit is definitely viable, it just tends to have a really hard time with combat. Glorfindel + Frodo + Any other Spirit hero is a very powerful deck. You’d better bring Gandalf along though, if you want any hope of killing the tougher enemies. I really hope the Spirit Hobbits + Pipes becomes a viable archetype as the card pool grows.

      • Lucas says:

        I find it kinda sad that Gondor is under developed, for one in a sense outlands is Gondor and what FFG considers Gondor is mostly just people from the captiol (Minas Tirith). I was really excited for leadership Boromir but then saw the pretty weark Gondor Allies I was meh, if his ability applied to heros as well he would be very powerful, if not more than dain.

  2. Like TftC said, Gondor seems better built for multiplayer. As I mentioned on his blog in the Morgul Vale Attachment Review, I think now is a great time to combine to pull out Mutual Accord and Nor Am I A Stranger to make Gondor and Rohan start whooping butt:

    “After seeing this pack, the first thing that popped into my head was making a pair of decks with Gondor and Rohan. Then use Mutual Accord to give Rohan the Leadermir/VL boosts and to allow Gondor heroes to use Forth Eorlingas! (Nor Am I A Stranger helps too). Also, with using Denethor and/or Faramir, you have access to traps and such which really help to be able to use the spear and Forth Eorlingas! more often. Ithilien Pit allows us to use the spear without any specific ability on the characters, and Ranger Spikes can keep enemies in the staging area indefinitely with little to no threat disadvantage.”

    I wish I had more time to play so I could test these decks out more and give real feedback instead of theory. 😛

    • Beorn says:

      Yes, I really want to make Forth Eorlingas! and Spear of the Mark work in a deck. I have likewise always seen promise in cards like Nor Am I A Stranger and Mutual Accord. I suspect however, that it will be a matter of working out the subtle details – these cards are not as easy to use as they might at first seem. Tactics is not known for low threat, and Forth Eorlingas is useless if enemies are engaging you. Speaking of Mutual Accord, I actually plan on building a Rohan deck to pair with Boromir Leads the Charge!, so that should be a good chance to finally create some true Gondor and Rohan synergy.

  3. Scroll Lock says:

    Gondorian allies are not what I hoped them to be :/ I want to see those gondorian warriors, not ship-captains.

    • Speedy says:

      I agree with your post. Every single Gondor ally is very laughable in comparsion to other traits… Even Hobbits are better warriors 😀
      But at last, Gondor isn´t so weak…
      And for me, I mostly play monoLeadership Gondor deck (sometimes with help from cards that I designed), and I think that it can offer good fun 😉

  4. Glowwyrm says:

    I agree that an all Gondor hero deck is difficult to do. Maybe they will keep getting love in the Ringmaker cycle, and everyone can complain about the lack of Rohan synergy ;). Thematically though, I like that the protectors of Middle Earth are at their best when they are making everyone else better. I think the ideal Gondor situation is four mono-sphere decks, each with a Gondorian backbone holding them up. Caldara for Spirit, Boromir for Leadership, Beregond for Tactics, and Faramir for Lore (Denethor is at his best in solo play, which seems appropriate). The various peoples of Middle Earth can rally around the Gondorians, who do all the things that keep the free peoples safe: resource acceleration and smoothing and protection from enemies through defense and traps.

    I’ve had a lot of success with a Boromir, Denethor, Mirlonde deck. At 25 threat, you have some time to build up your forces, and you have access to Lore to get your questing combos going. Denethor’s scrying ability protects you in the early game, and you have enough cheap allies that you can get one down turn one to help with the quest early. The lore rangers and traps handle combat well, and Anborn is a beast with Boromir on the table. I’ve been able to handle all but the most difficult solo quests.

    • Hythlodaeus says:

      I REALLY like he idea of a Lore/Leadership Gondor deck built around allies and Visionary Leadership! I wonder which type of deck it would work well with in multiplayer? Perhaps a Tactics/Spirit deck built around Gondor and Rohan cards?

  5. Karlson says:

    Gondor got some nice LED lights for their Courtyard’s White Tree this Christmas season, I see – very nice!

    I, too, have had an equal amount of trouble as you in devising a very strong and consistent Gondor-themed deck. My latest effort has been Leadership Boromir, Prince Imrahil and Beregond for deck one and Faramir, Strider, and Mirlonde for deck two. I hated to cut out Spirit from these builds, but in all honesty, the Spirit sphere has definitely gotten the biggest shaft on all things Gondor. I ran into the exact same issues as you with the 32 starting threat of my Leadership/Tactics heroes, and it can be hard to get enough allies in play in the beginning to get a strong foothold.

    These decks can certainly work, but they need to have a lot of great card draw occurring to do so. Once Visionary Leadership and Steward of Gondor are in play and enough allies to have decent questers as well as warriors then Gondor becomes thematic and powerful. It’s the early game when resources and cards are slim that the real struggle comes from, even more so than many other factions it seems.

    In the end, I still wish Gondor was a stronger stand alone faction than it currently is, especially with its hero options, but I have faith that they will receive many more player cards in the future that make them so, but in the meantime I am really looking forward to the full-scale emergence of the Tactics Rohan faction next year – that’s going to be awesome!

    • jasonsomers says:

      I was really hoping for a Spirit Gondor hero with a more general ability in the Against the Shadow expansion… I’ve been tinkering around with a Leadership/Spirit Gondor deck that uses Aragorn (Core), Boromir (HON), and Eleanor, but I’m more drawn to the concept of a Leadership/Lore deck paired alongside a Rohan Spirit/Tactics one now. As you say, it’s tough building a Gondor deck with low starting threat! Do you find the decks you made can get by without Spirit?

      • Karlson says:

        I played through several quests with the two decks I mentioned above, and found that my mono-Lore Ranger deck was the one doing most of the work as far as questing and attacking enemies; whereas, the Leadership/Tactics deck was much more support and defensive based. This surprised me because I had expected Boromir to be the natural leader, killing off everyone and boosting the questers; instead, Faramir was really the standout hero.

        Anyways, to answer your question. I did miss several of the Spirit abilities that were absent. “A Test of Will” is one of my favorite Spirit player cards, and I almost always use it once or twice per quest to cancel a foul treachery effect. Without it, I had no power against any of the treacheries that were released from the encounter deck. Spirit also has great readying effects and threat lowering ability, both of which are always welcome in just about any deck I build, so I missed those as well. Yet, I didn’t miss any of the allies from the Spirit sphere. Damrod and the Pelargir Shipright are the only good Gondor Spirit allies (in my opinion) so I decided the loss of just those two wasn’t going to be too horrible. So, overall, Spirit wasn’t missed too much except for some of their sphere-specific abilities.

        To my joy, I did find that the mono-Lore Gondor trap deck really does excel once you can get a Steward of Gondor attachment on one of the heroes – that’s 5 resources a turn. Then, make use of card drawing effects (my favorite of which is Mithrandir’s Advice) as well as the Scroll of Isildur to use them over again, and you’ll have lots of allies and traps to get into play, hopefully early on in the quest. Sometimes you have to be careful with this trap heavy approach, however, such as during the quests that require all enemies in play to be defeated – suddenly, all the enemies that have been trapped in the staging area with Ranger Spikes and boosting Faramir’s attack have to be dealt with to win.

    • Hythlodaeus says:

      I’m going to have to go back and revisit the pure Lore deck….the theme has appealed to me from the beginning. What did you use to get Steward of Gondor onto the Lore heroes? Did you include Song of Kings or use the other deck to pay for and attach it?

      • Karlson says:

        The Steward of Gondor attachments were in my Leadership/Tactics deck, and they were kind enough to relay it to Strider once it was purchased.

  6. Chris says:

    Awesome deck, scored 104 against Massing and 99 against Stone of Erech. Early draw Steward and Visionary make it almost a guaranteed win. I was also happy to see Duerlin(sp?) the objective all in Erech is Gondor as well!

  7. Chris says:

    Just got done going through all the quests with this deck, and it can handle everything in solo(didn’t even try Dol Guldur, ally hate would kill this deck). I was able to beat Nightmare Anduin and Mirkwood as well, so in short, this deck rocks! It does suffer in Siege quests, but I was able to beat Cair Andros with a bit of luck and just letting all those battlegrounds get killed immediately.

  8. Jeremiah Levine says:

    I love that I found this article purely by coincidence in between sessions of trying to beat Massing at Osgiliath with a pure Gondor deck. Yep, it was hella frustrating. I started out with the purest Gondorian deck, Tactics/Leadership with Imrahil, Boromir and Beregond, just because I wanted to use as many cards from HoN as possible. Of course, I got nowhere fast with that deck, for all the reasons you mention here.

    After some tinkering, I ended up with a Tactics/Leadership/Spirit deck using Eowyn instead of Imrahil. I brought a couple of Northern Trackers and West Road Travellers to help with the questing and clearing out those pesky locations that pile up in the sstaging area. Thematically, I figured I was still on reasonably solid ground since Gondor and Rohan were allies of old and the Dunedain go wherever trouble is found. At least I didn’t have to use any non-human allies or artifacts, and the Gondor theme was not too diluted.

    I only got to play one game with this deck so far, and I did lose, but I think it was mostly due to horrible encounter deck draws, and the deck does have a fighting chance I think.

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