Decks: The Battle of Five Armies

300px-Matt_Stewart_-_The_Battle_Under_the_MountainThe Battle of Five Armies has always been one of my favorite events in all of Tolkien’s legendarium. Not only does it feature my favorite character (yes, I’m biased), but it also happens to involve one of the more epic finales of any of the battles in the history of Middle-Earth. There is so much going on: from Bilbo’s cry of “The Eagles!”, to Thorin’s desperate last stand and the death of Bolg at the hands of yours truly. Within the context of The War of the Ring which followed, the The Battle of Five Armies was actually the first defeat it what would ultimately be the downfall of Sauron.

These two decks attempt to recreate this epic battle, in all its triumph and tragedy. Rather than some of the more subtle strategies of recent decks, the intent here is total domination. The first deck utilizes powerful heroes, supported by Eagles and a few key event cards. The second deck takes a different and more traditional approach, fielding an army of dwarven allies.

Bard the BowmanTo this end, the first deck features Beorn and Bard the Bowman. There are few enemies that can withstand the combined might of these two brave warriors. Dain Ironfoot leads the Dwarves into battle, and also serves as a much-needed defender for larger foes. With a dangerously high starting threat of 34, this deck will be engaging many enemies immediately. This is by design.

The initial rounds can be a bit rough, look to use Feint and Sneak attack to fend off any early enemies that are causing problems. Once you have Ring Mail on Dain of Support of the Eagles on Bard you will have a super defender. On the other hand, the Bowman can make short work of most enemies, particularly those engaged with other players. With three copies of Song of Battle, another option is to give Bifur access to the Tactics sphere, which will allow you to attach Support of the Eagles. Between this card, Ring Mail and Hardy Leadership, it is entirely possible to have a 5 or 6 strength defender. This is yet another reminder that one should never underestimate a Dwarf.

BifurThe second deck is more of a traditional Dwarf deck. Thorin Oakenshield heads the charge, and an army of dwarven allies follow his lead. For this deck, getting to five Dwarves in play is essential as so many effects are dependent on crossing that threshold. This is where Bifur and A Very Good Tale come in.

Bifur ensures that you will always have two Lore resources so those are the allies that you can look to play early. Erebor Record Keeper works particularly well at keeping Dain ready. Once you have two allies in play, do not hesitate to use A Very Good Tale. The size of the allies that you pull is not really important – this deck is all about flooding the board with our bearded fighters.

ffg_gaining-strength-tsfBoth decks make use of card drawing effects and this will ensure that you should always have the essential cards near to hand. Two copies of Lure of Moria are included for when you need to swing the tide of battle in your favor. As has been mentioned before, they also combo perfectly with We Are Not Idle to provide resources.

Resources are the probably the most piece to keeping these decks running, which is why Gaining Strength is included. Don’t hesitate to send resources from one deck to the other using Bifur and Glóin. In both cases, you should be able to amass two resources on a single hero which is perfect for Gaining Strength.

These decks are designed to be thematically appropriate and as such you will notice certain missing elements in the lists. Steward of Gondor, Errand-Rider, Warden of Healing and The Galadhrim’s Greeting would all work very well with these decks, but they make no sense from a historical perspective. For those that are more interested in winning than winning in style, I encourage you to tinker with the deck lists to suite your needs. As it is, these decks are quite powerful, and can put up a considerable fight against many different scenarios.

Deck #1 – Beorn & Reinforcements Deck #2 – Thorin & Company
Beorn Thorin Oakenshield
Bard the Bowman Nori
Dain Ironfoot Bifur
Allies: 23 Allies: 25
Vassal of the Windlord x3 Erebor Record Keeper x3
Veteran Axehand x3 Erebor Hammersmith x3
Winged Guardian x3 Ered Nimrais Prospector x3
Bofur x2 Zigil Miner x3
Erebor Battle Master x2 Glóin x2
Eagles of the Misty Mountains x3 Fili x2
Veteran of Nanduhirion x2 Kili x2
Landroval x2 Dwalin x2
Gandalf (Core) x3 Dori x2
Gandalf (Core) x3
Attachments: 13 Attachments: 10
Black Arrow x1 Cram x3
Song of Battle x3 Legacy of Durin x3
King Under the Mountain x3 Hardy Leadership x2
Ring Mail x3 Narvi’s Belt x2
Support of the Eagles x3
Events: 14 Events: 15
Gaining Strength x3 A Very Good Tale x3
We Are Not Idle x2 Gaining Strength x2
The Eagles Are Coming! x3 We Are Not Idle x3
Sneak Attack x3 Sneak Attack x2
Feint x3 A Test of Will x3
Lure of Moria x2
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9 Responses to Decks: The Battle of Five Armies

  1. nyckk says:

    Very nice, i like that! I will definetely get back to that list when playing the last adventure of the “Hobbit-Cycle”.

    In the moment myself and two fellows are trying to play through the “Hobbit-Cycle” thematically as close as possible. In deckbuilding we stayed very true to the story. With 8 dwarven heroes we are going for two 3-hero decks and one 2-hero deck, but we are even failing to finish the first adventure…

    Any suggestions for deck building, Monsieur Bear?

    • Beorn says:

      Are you including Dain as one of your Dwarf heroes? Not only is he thematic, but he is very powerful in Dwarf decks. The other question that I have is what you are doing for support cards. Are you including healing? What about threat-reduction? What about cards like Feint and Sneak Attack. If you can link me to your deck lists (or include them in a comment), I would be happy to give you more specific help. Good luck!

      • nyckk says:

        Sorry, i did not get notified that you answered. Thanks for that! After failing too often we desperately moved on to Isengart. Failing there over and over again. But we definetely we will come back to the dwarves.

        We excluded Dain at first because we planned to bring hin for the five armies staying true to the story. Lauter we put him through.

        I will post a deck list when we get back to the quest but now i have to plan out the Isen first 😉

  2. LordofChance says:

    I was looking to try out one of your decks and I was surprised last week when as I was geting ready for my first run at this scenario, your desk list came out. Nice!

    These decks played well, even if I was unsure when I should mulligan. I was surprised twice in the end and that’s a good thing. I expected Bard to kill big old Bulg as I got him equiped with the black arrow and Thror’s hunting bow early on. After Beorn gave up his life to save Bard’s at mid game (ever the gheroic one), I felt also that Bard should now be the thematic one to do the orc in, but it was not to be. Unable to take a shot because of the bodyguards poping out of the encounter deck when Bulg was engaged with the other deck, he finaly fell to Bulg’s axe to save Dain. That was my first surprise. The secound is that after losing two heros on the same deck, I was sure this playtrough was going to see me report a loss. Not so! The joly army of dwarfs, with the help of Dain finished off the last body gard and Bulg in the next round, now that they did not have to quest.

    All in all a very good run. Thanks for sharing this deck list Beorn. Now on to the Battle of Laketown.

    • Beorn says:

      That’s great to hear! I am so glad that you were able to try out these decks against The Battle of Five Armies. That remains one of my all time favorite scenarios, for obvious reasons, and it always makes me happy when other people can enjoy using my decks. Good luck at The Battle of Lake-town, that scenario is incredibly challenging.

  3. lordofchance says:

    Hey Beorn. This reply is not directly related to this article or the presented decks. It’s more of a question on deck building in general and the terme “quest specific”.

    I’ve read most, if not all the posts of the websites of the hosts of the Grey Company podcast, with much pleasure, and read many posts on BGG, including this very interesting one from Figo 3434 ( and I come to the conclusion that much of the fun in deck building for this game is in constructing quest specific decks. This is eather to try to win for the first time or to simply win better or in a different creative way. I would love to read or listen to a discussion of how to “read” the particular challenges of a new adventure pack to help us build realy innovative “quest specific” decks like the ones on this page. Juste a thought.

  4. David says:

    Lordofchance asks.a great question, how to build a specific deck for any given AP.
    It takes me a few plays to understad what I’m up against. This allows me to find out the nastiet treaccheries/shadows, the location vs enemy ratio and the avg threat of the encounter deck ( to name a few). After that you can tweak accordingly.
    For instance in this scenario shadow effects are less of a concern. Compared to straight defense. As a result he doesn’t play Balin nor Hasty Stroke. Then you might look into themes based strictly on the book or some variation.
    Of course you have tollow deck building 101 but its a good start.

    • lordofchance says:

      Hey David. Thanks for pitching in. I think its an interesting topic. I do think every player goes through a similar process as you define to find the first Deck that’s going to get the first win. I think also that there’s may be variations to that approach when it comes to building truly Quest specific Decks or Thematic decks that I would be fun to hear Beorn and the Grey Company talk about. For exemple, the battle of Lake-Town is a quest I’m struggling to win with my two sons. I’m the deck builder fro the group and testing the set of tree decks is fun, but also very time consuming. If they could take that Quest and discuss how they would go about developing a set of tree or four decks for it, I would obviously be interested, but I think others would too. Cheers.

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