Deck: Westfold to the Rescue

At the battle of Pelennor Fields, the Rohirrim charged to the rescue of Gondor. Éomer lead the riders of the Westfold against the main host assaulting Minas Tirith. Éowyn (aka Dernhelm) defeated the Witch-king of Angmar, with the help of her friend Merry the Hobbit. Prince Imrahil was among the hosts of Gondor, bravely defending the city until the Rohirrim could ride to its rescue.

This deck has two main goals. On the one hand, the aim is to capture just some of the excitement from that epic battle, Rohan rushing to rescue its old ally Gondor from the onslaught of Mordor. At the same, the metagame is changing and there is a new archetype forming around the Rohan trait, mounts, and allies leaving play. This deck presents one example of this new archetype, while trying as much as possible to remain thematically appropriate to the story of the ride of the Rohirrim.

EomundAs far as strategically appropriate heroes are concerned, Éomer is everything that Théoden is not. Where his uncle boosts Tactics heroes but lacks any specific synergy with Rohan archetypes, Éomer works perfectly with existing Rohan allies. In fact, a majority of the existing Rohan allies have abilities that involve them being discarded, or otherwise leaving play. Indeed, Éomer’s father Éomund allows all Rohan characters to ready when he leaves play. Éomer would then ready, and receive his +2 attack boost. It is a total design win that father and son have perfect synergy in this way.

Knowing that we want allies to be leaving play in order to take advantage of this ability, it makes sense to include other cards with responses to this same trigger. Prince Imrahil is a natural, and thematically perfect compliment to this strategy. His two willpower makes him a solid support to Éowyn for questing. Then, after an ally leaves play, he can either serve as a defender, with help from Gondorian shield, or use his 3 attack to help Éomer defeat a tougher enemy. This last point is vital, as one of the other important cards in the archetype depends upon killing enemies, not just damaging them.

rohan-warhorseBetween Steed of the Mark, from The Morgul Vale, and the new Rohan Warhorse, the Mount trait is now a part of the Rohan archetype. The Warhorse in particular works well with Éomer. With the help of this trusty steed, the lord of the Westfold can often fell two enemies in the same round. The Voice of Isengard even includes a way to find these horses, in the form of Westfold Horse-breeder.

Being able to search the top 10 cards of your deck for a Mount, and have a cheap ally for questing and chump blocking is a perfect addition to this deck. One cost allies are particularly effective in this deck, since Horn of Gondor essentially makes them free. Being about to recoup the cost of an ally, and trigger all of our “leaves play” responses is the ideal situation for this deck.

Squire of the CitadelAs far as chump blockers are concerned, Squire of the Citadel is the perfect choice. If you have Horn of Gondor in play, and possibly even Valiant Sacrifice in hand, you can actually net resources and recoup lost cards from the exchange. This is of course in addition to all of the benefits your heroes receive.

One of the other advantages of chump blocking is that we are not worried about most shadow effects. Cards like Blocking Wargs, which deal damage directly to the defender, can still be an issue. However in most scenarios you will not be concerned about a shadow effect boosting the attack of an enemy, because the lowly squire or scout was going to die either way. This is called “taking one for the team”.

One thing that astute readers will notice is the lack of weapons in this deck list. This is intentional. When your strategy involves intentionally killing off your allies to fuel hero and attachment card effects, you need a lot of allies at your disposal. While it may be tempting to fill the deck with weapons like Dagger of Westernesse and Spear of the Mark, to turn Éomer into a one man killing machine, this works contrary to his response effect. In order to maximize the advantages of Imrahil and Éomer, we need allies leaving play. Sneak Attack helps some, but ultimately, some of our cheap allies are going to chump blocker heaven. This means the deck list needs to include enough fuel for our bonfire of sacrificial lambs.

Horn of GondorWhile a three sphere deck might at first seem too risky, this list includes a plethora of resource acceleration and resource smoothing. Each of our heroes has the Noble trait, which means that Envoy of Pelargir costs 1 resource and allows us to move resources around to different heroes. Likewise, Errand-rider and Pelargir Ship Captain allow resources to be moved. More importantly, Steward of Gondor and Horn of Gondor provide resource generation. With all of the allies leaving play, the Horn can be very important to this deck, for those with multiple core sets (or who don’t mind proxies), a third copy is definitely an option.

Sneak Attack and Gandalf of course fit perfectly into this strategy. In any deck, using Sneak Attack to get Gandalf into play during the quest phase is a solid play. In this deck it is outright amazing. Not only do you get the wizard’s unparalleled versatility and a +4 willpower boost to the quest, but at the end of the phase you get to trigger all of your responses. In these situations you are combining massive action advantage with the tactical superiority of Éomer and the Prince of Dol Amroth. When played correctly, this kind of strategic leverage is not only an excellent path to victory, but it is a heck of a lot of fun as well.

Prince ImrahilEomer

Prince Imrahil

Allies: 26
Errand-rider x3
Snowbourn Scout x2
Squire of the Citadel x3
Westfold Horse-breeder x3
Envoy of Pelargir x3
Pelargir Ship Captain x2
Westfold Outrider x3
Westfold Horse-breaker x2
Éomund x2
Gandalf (Core) x3

Attachments: 12
Gondorian Shield x2
Horn of Gondor x2
Rohan Warhorse x3
Steed of the Mark x2
Steward of Gondor x3

Events: 12
Gaining Strength x3
Sneak Attack x3
Valiant Sacrifice x2
Feint x2
A Test of Will x2

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26 Responses to Deck: Westfold to the Rescue

  1. Landroval says:

    Great deck – i like it a lot. But i fail to see how Gandalf+Sneak Attack is of any benefit? Eomer’s response effect will expire before he attacks again and imrahil will have nothing to do either. am i missing something? Thanks

    • Eomer’s ability is until the end of the round, so he’d keep the +2 attack. Also Imrahil will be used for questing and then can come back to defend (with shield of Gondor).

  2. Tracker1 says:

    This is same hero line up and similar deck that I am using. It is an excellent deck, and works really well. I don’t have SoG in it though, and the one card that really works great, but you may not have included it for thematic reasons, is spirit Bofur. For the cost of 1 during the quest phase he adds 2 wp and when leaves play triggers both Eomer and Imrahil abilities along with the Horn of Gondor. His ability to trigger Imrahil before chump blocking was one of the main reasons I included Gondorian shield, since this combo allowed imrahill to safely defend more. Overall, this was the best Roban themed deck, with a splash of Gondor that I could come up with. Theoden remains in his hall (large white card box) under spell of Grima’s counsel for now.

    • Beorn says:

      You are absolutely correct Tracker1, Spirit Bofur is perfect for this deck from a strategic standpoint. My goal was to stick to the theme as much as possible, which is why I used Steed of the Mark instead of Unexpected Courage. For those that prefer a stronger deck to a more thematic one there are definitely some changes that can be made.

  3. Interesting looking decks. I find that the biggest problem with chump-blocking to activate Eomer (or Imrahil) are the “If this attack destroys a chracter…” shadows – I seem to recall there’s one that removes Time counters, which can be utterly foul, particularly in stage 2 of “to catch an Orc”

    • It is certainly dependent on the quest.

    • Beorn says:

      That’s a good point, James. I should have included a warning about these along with the direct damage. In scenarios with these effects, Silver Lamp and and extra copy of Gondorian Shield and Steed of the Mark would work. Use Steed to ready Eowyn after questing, and the lamp gives you the information that you need for whether or not to chump block. If the attack needs to be blocked, Imrahil with a Gondorian Shield should work for most enemies. As Joe pointed out, whether or not chump blocking is dangerous is highly dependent upon the quest.

  4. Love the deck. I just wonder how powerful it ends up being since you’ve devoted so many cards to resource generation/smoothing that you have relatively few cards to actually use for their numbers, though several of them can be put to use after they’ve activated their responses from entering play.

    The other weakness that I see is card draw. 5 cards give you “card draw” for a total of 7 cards. Seems like it wouldn’t be very consistent to me.

    I see a lot of readying effects (and I applaud the lack of Unexpected Courage), which should help cover the weakness presented in the first paragraph.

    Overall, it’s probably just about as good as it’ll get, though there could be some substitutions, like Spirit Bofur, or Ancient Mathom, etc.

  5. Beorn says:

    Yes, Ancient Mathom would make it more consistent, as would Foe-Hammer. Unfortunately, Foe-Hammer itself is not consistent unless you include at least 4-6 weapons, and at that point I like to include Tactics Bofur. On the other hand, Ancient Mathom does not particularly fit the theme I was going for. Spirit Bofur is awesome with Imrahil and Eomer, but makes even less sense with the story that I am trying to tell. As always, I encourage people to modify the deck as they see fit. Making a deck more thematic is most often a conscious decision to make it less strategically effective. It is ultimately up to each player where they want their deck to be fall on the Thematic -> Strategic spectrum. Thanks for your feedback!

  6. TalesfromtheCards says:

    I love the Imrahil/Eomer combination, fueled by their righteous outrage at the loss of their more humble comrades. “You killed Nameless Squire #347, you son of a Warg! Prepare to die!”

    • Beorn says:

      I *almost* included a reference to red shirts in the strategy discussion above, but I couldn’t quite rationalize mixing Tolkien with Star Trek. Still, whenever I chump block in my games, I think of a hapless redshirt taking one for the (away) team. Everyone should bring their attack wing to GenCon (I’ll have to barter for somebody’s Ferengi D’Kora Marauder) and we can all play an epic space battle.

  7. Tom Drury says:

    This is basically the deck I built on Monday when southern Indiana was closed due to snow and ice and I had all day to beat Fords of Isen. I didn’t end up using any wizards though, to be able to burn through cards as quickly as possible. First deck I ever built without Gandalf in it.

    • Beorn says:

      It is interesting to see how the Fords of Isen encourage a totally new kind of deck design. I still found myself using Gandalf to help beat the quest, however. He is expensive at 5 resources, but being Neutral I was always able to play him when I needed to. This deck has quite a bit of resource acceleration to ensure that he is not a dead card in your hand. Still, it is a badge of honor to beat a quest without the help of Gandalf – well done.

  8. Fantastic thematic deck! I’ve been playing with a “thematic” Imrahil, Éomer, and Merry deck but have found myself repeatedly making compromises to strategy over theme as I play the Fords of Isen, namely the use of Trollshaw Scout and Watcher of Bruinen in order to keep my hand size from destroying me with those nasty Dunlendings. Your use of Éowyn not only solves that problem but also provides quest power which my deck lacks (unless I get ally Faramir out early). Also, I found the Rohan Warhorse largely wasted in solo play and replaced it with Cram for Merry to eat so he can add to Éomer’s strength and ready him in the few instances when it’s possible to actually to destroy an enemy before making another attack. But what kind of thematic Rohan deck doesn’t have horses? From my perspective as a player who loves the theme and story of the game, this deck is a thing of beauty. Thanks for sharing!

    • Beorn says:

      Thanks Master of Lore. I really wanted to stick to theme as much as possible. While the deck might suffer a bit strategically (Ancient Mathom and Unexpected Courage would probably be improvements), it is fun to be able to make a cohesive design where every single card actually fits the theme.

  9. Tonskillitis says:

    This is a great deck- thematically and mechanically. Somehow that action advantage just makes heroes seem much more heroic as they seem to running (riding?) all over the place and hewing orcs left and right. Oddly, my favourite Rohan card at the moment is Eomund who has become quite powerful. This ultimate chump blocker gives the Rohan heroes the opportunity to launch a pretty massive counter attack either against a large engaged enemy or with Forth Eorlingas in the staging area. I am playing with a pair of Rohan decks so pretty much all of the allies and heroes are Rohan. The strategy is to get as many deaths out of Eomund as possible to give maximum action advantage. I found this strategy worked great against the fairly challenging Fords of Isen quest where players are swarmed with wildmen. It keeps Eomer in a state of wild fury to see his father fall under one crushing blow after another, only to rise again and be struck down!

    • Beorn says:

      I agree, Éomund is the secret weapon in this archetype. With more Rohan cards coming in the future, this deck will continue to improve.

  10. Pingback: Fight at the Fords | Master of Lore

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  12. Fey Loveless says:

    Hello Beorn, would you mind giving a few more detail on substitutes for those prefering the “strongest deck for the type” for players like me that are just getting started getting into deckbuilding? Replacing the Steed of the Mark with Unexpected Courage was actually even obvious to me (which means something 😉 ) but I have trouble with including other cards like Spirit Bofur, Ancient Mathom Eomer’s Mount, Wingfoot or the likes and finding out which cards to remove for the new ones. I would really appreciate that!

    • Beorn says:

      Sure thing, Fey. I have my own “less-thematic” version of this deck which includes some changes. It doesn’t go as far as it could, in that it doesn’t include Spirit Bofur, but it is more tightly focused from a strategy standpoint. It removes all copies of Pelargir Ship Captain and Eomund and adds a third copy of Snowbourn Scout. It also removes Horn of Gondor as the extra resources are not really needed in a deck with such inexpensive allies. It then adds Firefoot, Quick Strike and Stand and Fight. This is just one way to play this deck, there are other configurations which are better suited depending on the scenario. An example of a “sideboard” card for this deck is Hasty Stroke. If a scenario has shadow effects which punish chump blocking, then it is a very good idea to include at least two copies of Hasty Stroke. Likewise, scenarios with nasty treacheries that become Condition attachments can necessitate including Power of Orthanc. Ancient Mathom is a great option for more card draw, and can even replace Steed of the Mark/Unexpected Courage in some cases. You won’t often quest with Eomer, so Imrahil is the only hero that you really want the readying for. Since you will have allies leaving play most rounds, the readying from Unexpected Courage can be overkill. For scenarios where you need more willpower, Escort from Edoras is another great choice as it allows you to trigger all of your bonuses at the end of the quest phase. Pesky locations with bad travel effects can be avoided with West Road Traveller. The allies can be mixed and matched as you like, just bear two things in mind as you are doing it. You always want to have at least 23 allies (or ally-summoning effects like Stand and Fight) so that you have an ally to sacrifice for Imrahil and Eomer. The other key is keeping your allies fairly evenly mixed among the spheres. Since you only have one hero from each sphere, you don’t want to risk having a hand full of allies that all belong to the same sphere. Let me know if you have more questions that I can answer. Good luck!

      • Fey Loveless says:

        Hello, I did not have time to test the changes due to workload, but I will try and check each card to get more understanding of why it was removed/added. Your explanations already help a lot, and I definately need to get better at deckbuilding, as I usually get pretty lost while trying to put one together myself, so this is a good starting point. Thank you for your time to reply to an older entry in your blog – something not a lot of blog owners will do – and coming up with a ton of help for me! Just awesome!

      • Fey Loveless says:

        Hello again,

        I went to work on the changes as you suggested. as I removed 4 allies (Ship Captain and Emound) and 2 Horns – added 1 Scout, 2 Stand and Fight (in accordance with your hint about allies numbers thats still 25), 2 Quick Strike and 1 Firefoot. I have yet to ever see Firefoot in a game show up, but I guess the ratio for the added cards is okay?

        One thing you mentioned, that I have only heard the second time about (the other was the Defenders of Rhovannion Deck article on Tales of the cards) is the sideboard. I understand its purpose, as I used to play MTG more than a decade ago, but maybe as an article suggestion – what are some of the regular must-haves for sideboards?

        Thanks again for helping out!

  13. Annbird says:

    what’s your thought of using Grave Cairn in this deck?

    • Beorn says:

      I tend to prefer consistency in my decks. While Grave Cairn can be very powerful, it only works with high-attack allies. With so many 0-attack allies, that event can end up dead at the worst possible moment. This is not to say that it wouldn’t work in this deck, just that I prefer other strategies which are more consistent.

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