Since the release of Assault on Osgiliath, I have wanted to design a deck around Faramir. The captain of the rangers of Ithilien has always been one of my favorite characters and I was hoping to unleash this long-awaited hero’s potential. Unfortunately, building an effective deck around Faramir is not an easy task.
With a starting threat of 11 and solid all-around stats, combined with 5 hit points, the second son of Denethor is a solution in search of a problem. His ability requires enemies to be left in the staging area, but this comes with its own pitfalls. There are only so many copies of Ranger Spikes to keep enemies in the staging area. Beyond that, a low threat and lots of willpower are essential, to make quest progress and avoid engaging enemies in the staging area. Unfortunately low-threat and high willpower are not particular strengths of the Lore sphere.
But every sphere and archetype has its weaknesses, which is what makes deck building such an interesting challenge. In a previous article, we’ve discussed strategies for covering weaknesses endemic to an archetype. This is precisely what we will be doing with the design of this deck. In addition to these adjustments, the deck that we design will be a natural pair with our earlier deck featuring Faramir’s brother: Boromir Leads the Charge!. Naturally, in such a pairing, the Faramir ally in that deck will need to be swapped out for a different Gondor character.
Since we want to leave enemies in the staging area, a low starting threat will be essential. However, even with a Secrecy level of starting threat, many scenarios will include enemies with low engagement costs. This is where the new Pippin hero from The Black Riders can help out. With only a single Hobbit hero, enemies engagement cost will only be increased by 1, but the fool of a Took also allows us to play Take No Notice at a reduced cost. Mirlonde also helps with our starting threat, bringing it down to a very reasonable level of 22.
Assuming our low starting threat and engagement shenanigans allow us to leave enemies in the staging area, we will need excellent willpower to avoid staging area lockup. Ranger Spikes obviously help with this, because they offset some of the threat from these enemies. Ithilien Tracker also helps offset one new enemy each round, but we will need some way to clear the active location and make quest progress. Exploring locations is especially important for this deck because Elf-Stone is our primary means to accelerate mustering of our Ranger allies.
With these requirements in mind, Rivendell Minstrel is a natural fit. Not only does it provide a solid 2 willpower, but it allows us to fetch the Song of Battle that we will need to equip Faramir with the Great Yew Bow. With the fantastic card drawing power of Lore at our disposal, Protector of Lorien is another natural fit for this deck. We can even make use of the defense boosting ability from this attachment, in the rare cases when we have to engage an enemy.
Rounding out the deck will be several low-cost allies with a single willpower. While this gives us a less than stellar army of questers, the idea is to hold the line while our archers fill the staging area with arrows. If we are paired with Boromir and his Visionary Leadership, this deck will have significantly less of a questing burden.
In any case, the hope is that we can kill enemies quickly enough, and clear enough locations to keep the staging area under control. Events like Radagast’s Cunning and Secret Paths will help in this regard. The Scroll of Isildur provides extra consistency at a bargain price. Using it we can either draw extra cards via Mithrandir’s Advice or recycle one of our many utility cards to manage the staging area.