The 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.
To 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.
The 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.
Both 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|
|Bard the Bowman||Nori|
|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|