As much as I wanted Theoden to be the answer for Mono-Tactics decks to be viable solo, his ability is just too limited to make a difference. The reality is, for all but the most battle-heavy scenarios, Mono-Tactics still works best paired with another deck to handle questing. Trained for War is intriguing, and is included in this deck for its potential for a game-winning quest push. At a cost of 2 resources, it is not cheap, so it will not always necessarily be a target for recycling with Háma’s ability.
Because the other version of Boromir is included in our mono-Leadership deck, there is only one Tactics Gondor hero that we can include here. Beregond is amazing at what he does, and the usual assortment of cards are included to support him. Equipped with a Gondorian Shield and Spear of the Citadel, and with help from cards like Behind Strong Walls and Gondorian Discipline, the most famous guard of the citadel can handle most any foe.
Since we have to look outside the walls of the white tower for our other two heroes, it made sense thematically to look to the Rohirrim for support. Theoden’s starting threat is too high so until Eomer is released, Háma is the natural choice. Certainly, his ability can be quite powerful, but we also need him simply for his attack strength and ability to wield weapons like the Spear of the Mark.
The deck features a wide array of events for the door warden to target with his recycling ability. The choices here are designed for the sake of variety and style, but can easily be changed. For those that prefer a more focused deck, feel free to mix and match the events as you see fit. In multiplayer games, questing is less important for the tactics player, so replacing Trained For War with Thicket of Spears makes a lot of sense.
For the final hero, the decision ultimately came down to the smallest Tactics hero of all. While Merry would normally be found in all-Hobbit decks, his low starting threat and 2 willpower are a welcome addition to a deck lacking in overall questing strength. Halfling Determination is a great, and overlooked card from The Black Riders, and this deck takes full advantage of that card.
For this choice to be truly thematic, it would have been Pippin, unfortunately there is no Tactics version of Pippin so purists will have to forgive the slight liberty taken in switching the two characters. I sincerely hope that we one day as a Tactics version of Pippin with the Gondor trait so that he can take his rightful place beside Beregond (and Bergil) on the tower walls.
As for the rest of the characters in this deck, we have the usual cast of Gondor allies. Defender of Rammas and Gondorian are both great choices for an extra copies of Spear of the Citadel. Guthlaf, in addition to helping with questing, can also wield the Spear of the Mark once his Rohirrim brother has taken his rightful copy of that weapon. While this is just enough willpower among the allies (and heroes) present to manage a meager questing force, this deck is more intended for Battle quests, or being paired with one of the other, more quest-centric Gondor decks covered previously.
Another character that deserves special attention is the Knight of Minas Tirith. In most mono-Tactics decks, this ally’s ability is difficult to pull off. With a high starting threat, and characters designed for combat, most such decks will be immediately engaging enemies the round that they enter play. With the exception of enemies like Bill Ferny and Morgul Tracker, it will be difficult to find a valid target for this particular effect. With a starting threat of 25, this deck is actually in a position to be able to put the Knight’s ability to use. Once in play, his 3 attack strength will also be quite useful for combat or Battle questing. With Leadership Boromir in play, this character can boast a truly impressive 4 attack.
Other than Horn of Gondor, which provides a bit of a resource boost, the attachments in this deck are all about combat. Foe-Hammer is an essential card, providing card drawing in a sphere with limited options. What’s more, Háma’s ability does not come without a cost, so having a hand full of cards (even duplicate uniquest) will give you more options for handling various challenges.
Obviously, the Dunlending enemies in the upcoming Voice of Isengard expansion will soon provide a disincentive, but card drawing in a tactics deck is too powerful to pass up. With each of the heroes serving as a good target for the weapons included, it should not be difficult to equip our army. Bofur helps in this regard, while admittedly not in the most thematically ideal way. Unfortunately, Tactics Gondor allies do not yet include more nuanced support allies like the Dwarf.
This deck concludes our look into the current state of the Gondor trait in the game. While we certainly could have gone without mono-sphere decks, the Against the Shadow cycle included some intriguing cards in support of this theme, so it seemed like the natural approach to deck building for Gondor.
While the Gondor trait seemed depressingly under-developed for much of this cycle, it does include some very powerful cards like Gondorian Shield. Also, The Morgul Vale brought with it Visionary Leadership. This card finally allowed the new version of Boromir to assume his well-earned rank as General of Gondor’s armies and in some ways redeemed the Gondor trait for this cycle.
To be sure, some of the factions currently work better than others, which is evidenced by the decks featured here. Leadership, and to a lesser extent Lore and Spirit, are all viable options for Gondor decks that can handle many (though certainly not all) scenarios. From my experiences testing this deck, and others like it, Tactics has a long way to go before it is viable as a solo archetype. With the upcoming focus on Rohan, Theoden may yet prove to be part of this solution but I remain skeptical. This is not necessarily a bad thing as Tactics has always been the most single-mindedly focused of the spheres, something which makes it incredibly powerful as a combat support deck, but which makes it struggle when forced to play a more all-around role. Each sphere having its own well-defined strengths and weaknesses is essential for the overall health of the metagame.
In all, the Gondor trait has a ways to go before it will be as complete as Dwarves – or even Outlands, but it is slowly and surely improving. While I personally hope for a bit more support for Gondor in this next deluxe expansion and cycle, I suspect it will be quite some time before we see more cards around this trait. Like Dwarves before it, Gondor looks to be on the back-burner for a while. In the mean time, enjoy one bear’s take on fun and thematic decks for Gondor.