Deck: Faramir and the Rangers of Ithilien


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.

Faramir (AoO)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.

Mirlonde_smallSince 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.

Rivendell MinstrelWith 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.

Take No Notice (TBR)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.

Faramir (AoO)
Pippin (TBR)

Allies: 23
Envoy of Pelargir x3
Warden of Healing x3
Ithilien Tracker x3
Ithilien Archer x3
Gleowine x2
Master of the Forge x2
Anborn x2
Rivendell Minstrel x3
Gandalf (Core) x2

Attachments: 18
Song of Battle x2
Elf-Stone x3
Ranger Bow x3
Asfaloth x2
Ranger Spikes x2
Protector of Lorien x2
Great Yew Bow x2
Scroll of Isildur x2

Events: 9
Mithrandir’s Advice x3
Take No Notice x2
Radagast’s Cunning x2
Secret Paths x2

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11 Responses to Deck: Faramir and the Rangers of Ithilien

  1. I made a deck with the same heroes (you may have stolen the heroes from my deck when I mentioned it back during the Assault on Osgiliath reviews) but your deck has one glaring difference from my deck: Instead of just building up the deck’s strength, you also tried to cover its weaknesses.

    For example, instead of cards like Asfaloth and Protector of Lorien, I instead included more traps. Instead of Envoy of Pelargir and Warden of Healing to cover some questing and healing, I included Henamarth Riversong and Risk Some Light to know when to lay traps and which traps to lay. Instead of Radagast’s Cunning and Secret Paths, I included Advanced Warning, Expecting Mischief, and Forest Patrol. I also couldn’t resist Hands Upon the Bow.

    My deck doesn’t cover its weaknesses very well, but if paired with a strong questing deck, could prove to be much handier with dispatching enemies. Your deck, however, can handle more situations on its own and is more balanced. I like your deck, and will likely take some cues from your choices, especially cutting back on events and at least adding Asfaloth. Somehow, it never occurred to me that Mirlonde could use it before.

    • Also, the choice between Take No Notice and Advanced Warning is difficult (if you decide to choose 1 over the other). TNN costs only 1 with this deck, but will not necessarily keep all enemies from engaging, whereas AW costs 2 (which may not seem like much of a difference, but, as all veterans know, is actually a huge difference in a game like this) but guarantees no one engages… choices choices.

      • Beorn says:

        Yes, I ultimately chose Take No Notice because Lore has nothing in the way of resource acceleration, and that one less resource can be all the difference in a deck that needs to muster enough Ranger allies to maintain control of the staging area. Deck design is by no means a science, and this deck was designed with a specific strategy in mind. No doubt, your deck list will perform better against certain scenarios than this one will – there are always trade offs. Ultimately, many of the decisions come down to personal taste. Thanks so much for your insight into an alternative design with these heroes!

      • I agree with your statement about taking the cheaper card, and it also has an added bonus in this deck. By increasing the engagement cost instead of just saying the enemies cannot engage you, you can purposefully engage an enemy to use Pippin’s ability to draw a card. Not sure how often that would come up, but it has a decent potential… until you play the quests from Voice of Isengard 😉

  2. bootagot says:

    Sweet deck. I just beat JATA nightmare mode solo with this deck. Slight changes: – 2 cunnings -1 secret path + 3 Striders path tech against those 10/10 locations. I find you really need ranger bows and/or Faramir going early (I prioritize assembling my rangers) otherwise your threat gets to high and the staging area empties. It was my third attempt but I had faramir with Yew bow + Ranger bow and two other bowed up rangers fairly early. It was so awesome just mowed down enemies.

    • Beorn says:

      Nice. Yes, I was just playing this deck earlier and agree with adding Strider’s Path (for more then just JATA nightmare). I feel like it could go with an extra copy of Song of Battle and Great Yew Bow as well. Playing this deck is quite tricky, with very little willpower there is a very slim margin for error. As you said, once you get your archers all setup, it is quite fun to sit back and watch the enemies fall before they ever reach you.

      • bootagot says:

        Yea once I slow rolled stage one, just setting up slowly pinging the troll for one. I flew through stage 2. I quest with only >1 health guys and minstrel to avoid The Necromancer’s Reach blow out (minstrel didnt matter because thats all she was there for everyone else was utility for something else). Quested with Mirlonde, Pippin (both equipped with Protector of Lorien), minstrel and someone else. Turn 1 (currently empty): flipped rat, warg rider (surge), rat = ranger bow warg and discard 6 cards (13 progress). Turn 2 flip TNR kills minstrel damages Mir and pip, then reveal 10/10 location. I either SP path it and not pass the stage or damage out and discard 6 cards to pass the quest on the nose. I heal 2 points then damage out (all hero’s on 1 health) pass the quest, stage 3A revealed = rats discarded. 3B = reveal location and enemy; bow enemy and chump. Next turn kill enemy WIN. I had to gamble but it paid off

  3. David Schlanger says:

    I love this deck and it has inspired me to create my own version. I do have a question about Ithilien Tracker and how to properly use it. I hope you know the answer.

    In a two player game, if I have two Ithilien Trackers out in play and exhaust the first one before encounter cards are revealed his reduction effect takes place for the next enemy added to the staging area. If the first card I reveal is an enemy and it gets reduced, is it then legal to interrupt with the action to exhaust the 2nd Ithilien Tracker to hopefully reduce the 2nd card to get pulled from the encounter deck?

    How should this legally be played? If you can not interrupt, then there is some redundancy to having two Ithilien Trackers out in play at the same time in a 2 player game.


    • Beorn says:

      Hello David,

      I am glad that you are enjoying this deck. Ithilien Tracker’s ability must be used before encounter cards are revealed. His ability specifically states that it only applies to “the first enemy added to the staging area” so having multiple copies of Ithilien Tracker does not allow you to use the ability multiple times in a round. Just to clarify, there is no player action window between each encounter card being revealed, so the only effects that you can trigger are responses. This means that even if Ithilien Tracker’s ability was worded differently, you would not be able to trigger it after the first card was revealed and before the second card.

      The reason why the deck still includes multiple copies of Ithilien Tracker is that they are inexpensive, at 2 resources, and the extra copies are a perfect fit for attaching Ranger Bow. They also have 1 attack strength and 3 hit points, so even when you are not using their ability, Ithilien Trackers are useful for other tasks.

      • Actually the card says “next enemy” not “first enemy”, but you are correct in saying that you cannot use actions between encounter card reveals so it makes little difference.

  4. David Schlanger says:

    Interesting. I was hoping that it was not true, as I find it kind of weird when aspects of the game don’t scale well when adding additional players.

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