Deck: A Desperate Gambit

Frodo Sam and Gollum approach Mount Doom

Sending Frodo to destroy the One Ring was a desperate gambit by Gandalf and Elrond, but they felt it held their best hope of defeating Sauron. Certainly Sauron, isolated for so long in his own evil thoughts, would never imagine that his enemies would look to destroy the one thing that stood between themselves and total annihilation. The fact that Saruman and Denethor provided his only real insight into the strategies of his enemies may have ultimately been a good thing. Certainly, if the ring had fallen into the hands of either of those flawed powers, Sauron’s decisions would have been made easy. As it was, Gandalf used the uncertainty of the ring as a weapon against its maker.

At the battle of Dagorlad, where Sauron was defeated by Isildur, the Free People of Middle-Earth had assembled into a last great alliance of Elves and Men. At the time of The Lord of the Rings, no such alliance existed – nor could one be readily formed. Gil-Galad, last king of Noldor, had been slain along with Elendil and far too many other brave elves and men. The fragile alliance between the Eldar and the sons of Númenor was half-drowned somewhere in the Dead Marshes.

This deck represents this strategy that was born of desperation and few alternatives. After the breaking of the fellowship above the Falls of Rauros, Frodo and his trusty companion Sam forge one alone into the dark land of Mordor. But they are not truly alone. Along the way they receive aid from Faramir, noble captain of the Rangers of Ithilien and are lead be the unlikeliest guide of all: Gollum. Sadly, there is no Gollum ally card to include in this deck, but the other characters included have been chosen to represent the help that Frodo received throughout his journey.

Son of ArnorAt the borders of the Shire, Frodo and his companions meet up with Gildor Inglorion and his band of Silvan Refugees. After escaping the clutches of Old Man Willow, with some help from Tom Bombadil, the hobbits discover a hidden cache of ancient weapons in the Barrow Downs. Arriving finally in Bree, they save Bill the Pony from the mistreatment of his evil master, Bill Ferny.

There they also meet Strider, a Dunedain and lost Son of Arnor. Aragorn, along with other Northern Trackers and Dunedain Wanderers, has long kept the North safe from the spreading evil. After being waylaid by Black Riders on Weathertop, they receive Timely Aid in the form of Glorfindel. The elf provides Frodo with the use of Asfaloth to make his escape across the Ford of Bruinen.

Longbeard ElderSilverlode ArcherAt the Council of Elrond, Frodo is healed and meets many of the fair folk of Imladris. Among the many gathered at the last homely house is Elrond’s daughter, Arwen Undomiel.In addition are many star-gazers and wise counselors such as Erestor.

With the forming of the fellowship, Frodo is joined by Gimli of Durin’s Folk (Longbeard Elder), Legolas Greenleaf of Mirkwood (Silverlode Archer) and Boromir of Gondor (Guard of the Citadel). Together with Aragorn (Son of Arnor), Gandalf, Merry and Pippin (Wandering Took), they form a fellowship of nine.

Dwarven TombIn the mines of Moria, the fellowship discovers the Dwarven Tomb and learns the fate of Balin and the other dwarves of Khazad-dûm (Zigil Miner). After tragic fall of Gandalf against Durin’s Bane, they move past the Dimrill Stair, where Haldir of Lorien finds the now diminished fellowship. After receiving The Galadhrim’s Greeting in Lothlórien, the fellowship leaves with Elven Cloaks and other parting gifts. After the breaking of the fellowship at Amon Hen, Frodo and Sam depart and are left to their own resourcefulness to continue their journey to Mordor. With naught but some lembas and Sam’s odds and ends (Ancient Mathom), they alone must brave the wastes.

FaramirFortunately, Sam and Frodo stumble into Ithilien, where they are aided by none other than Faramir, Damrod, Anborn and the rangers of Gondor. Rather than fall to the temptation of the Ring, as his brother did, Faramir remains true and helps the Hobbits safely enter the borders of Mordor.

O Elbereth GilthonialAfter passing the treacherous webs of Cirith Ungol, the Hobbits find themselves on the plain of Mordor with only Mount Doom ahead of them. Ultimately, the brave Halflings complete their quest, and just in time to save their friends on the Morannon. Thanks to quick thinking by Gandalf and the arrival of Landroval, Sam and Frodo even manage to survive to tell A Very Good Tale.

One look at the deck list makes it plain that this is not the kind of deck that wins through total domination. What it is, however, is a highly thematic take on the epic journey undertaken by Frodo and Sam. The low starting threat should keep most enemies at bay until you can build up a fellowship of allies, but it remains a somewhat random collection of odds and ends. This deck is undoubtedly the Ancient Mathom of my designs. As such, it is an excellent candidate for less challenging quests and trying out Easy Mode. For anyone interested in something a bit off the beaten track of Spirit Glorfindel and Outlands decks, I encourage you to give this deck a try.

Sam GamgeeFrodo Baggins

Sam Gamgee (TBR)
Frodo Baggins (CatC)

Allies: 25
Silvan Refugee x1
Imladris Stargazer x3
Wandering Took x1
Bill The Pony (TBR) x1
Guard of the Citadel x1
Arwen Undomiel (TWitW) x1
Zigil Miner x2
Dunedain Wanderer x1
Longbeard Elder x1
Son of Arnor x1
Silverlode Archer x1
Damrod (HoN) x1
Erestor (TLD) x1
Faramir (Core) x1
Northern Tracker x1
Anborn (TBoG) x1
Haldir of Lorien (AJtR) x1
Gildor Inglorion (THoEM) x1
Landroval (AJtR) x1
Gandalf (Core) x3

Attachments: 8
Hobbit Cloak x2
Ancient Mathom x3
Resourceful x3

Events: 17
Hidden Cache x2
A Very Good Tale x3
Sneak Attack x2
A Test of Will x2
Dwarven Tomb x1
Timely Aid x3
O Elbereth! Gilthonial! x2
The Galadhrim’s Greeting x2

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9 Responses to Deck: A Desperate Gambit

  1. This looks like a very fun deck which could play differently each time depending on which of the allies turn up. Which quests have you play-tested it on and how did it go?

    • Beorn says:

      I tested it on Journey Along the Anduin, in easy mode, and I was able to beat it. This deck definitely lacks for attack strength, so unless you get A Very Good Tale/Timely Aid/Sneak Attack going early and often, you could be in for a bad time. O Elbereth! Gilthonial! is also a great way to get rid of pesky attackers like Wargs, or even The Hill Troll (if you can stand the threat gain). It plays very differently than most decks, but it is more of a fun deck than a hyper-competitive one.

  2. Tonskillitis says:

    Awesome. I’m loving the inclusion of 1 copy of each ally. Something about my creative side is offended by the mantra of “must include 3 copies for consistency” (has Into Ithilien made us too circumspect!?). Variety is the spice of the eldar after all. Of course, any deck with hidden cache in is sure to be enjoyable!.

    • Beorn says:

      I agree, designing every deck with 3 of each gets very boring after a while. It’s fun to mix it up a bit. With mustering cards like A Very Good Tale, Timely Aid and Elf-Stone, I’m finding more and more that you can get away with fewer copies of unique allies, and you still have a good chance of fielding a solid army.

  3. shipwreck says:

    Finally got around to trying this deck out and I love it. Takes a little while to get the gears moving, but Secrecy allows for some wiggle room and, of course, lots of shenanigans. I loved having a full party of allies and about 10 cards left in the deck when all was said and done.

  4. Glauco says:

    Hi, how can you play Gildor, Anborn, Haldir, and Landroval since they are of different spheres than Frodo and Sam? Can “A very good tale” and “Timely Aid” put into play allies of any sphere or neutral allies?

    • Beorn says:

      Greetings, Glauco! Yes, A Very Good Tale, Timely Aid and Sneak Attack can all get allies into play, regardless of their sphere. With Sneak Attack, the allies obviously have to return to your hand at the end of the phase, making it a better choice to use with Gandalf. But the other two events are great for getting expensive allies into play that this deck would not otherwise be able to pay for. This strategy does have some risk, as you can end up with these expensive allies stuck in your hand, but if you can get even one or two of them into play, you will have powerful help against whatever challenges you face.

  5. Pingback: Frodo Baggins | Master of Lore

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