Now that we have a semi-regular group of players in Austin, it has been fun to turn my attention to building a couple of solid multi-player decks. There are many ways to design a multi-player deck, but playing “pick up” games requires a particular kind of deck. Since you often don’t even know what scenario you will playing, it helps to have something a bit more general purpose.
First of all, you don’t know what other players you will be paired with, so a deck needs to be able to help in most (if not all) phases of the game. Since you don’t know whether other decks will be focused on questing or combat, the best bet is to have a deck which can excel at either. Some heroes are definitely more versatile in this regard than others, but we will be including allies which can provide consistent support as well.
Secondly, your deck cannot rely too much on one hero. It’s all well and good to design an Elrond and Vilya deck, but if another player is using Elrond, you won’t be able to easily change your deck. One alternative is to bring multiple decks, but even then certain heroes are quite popular, so there can still be conflicts with other decks. An approach that I prefer is designing decks which allow for one or more heroes to be swapped out.
Balanced design is all well and good, but we still want to make the best use of the heroes we are using. With that in mind, Boromir is the perfect Tactics hero for this deck. Taking advantage of his readying ability – a precious commodity in most combat-heavy decks, will mean that we can get the most out of cards like Support of the Eagles. This deck would definitely suffer if we swapped out Boromir for another hero, but it could still work.
In that case, going with a hero like Éomer makes the most sense. Not only will his ability be easy to trigger with eagles leaving play, but he has excellent support cards like Rohan Warhorse and Firefoot that will allow him to kill multiple enemies. These can take the place of Gondor-specific cards like Gondorian Shield and our deck would become a bit more aggressive.
As for the other heroes in this deck, they have their own strengths, and provide excellent support for the Tactics hero who forms the heart of our strategy. Sam has excellent willpower, and provides Bill the Pony, a versatile ally for no cost. His readying ability does not work as well with Boromir, since the son of Gondor will be raising our threat quite a bit, but it may prove useful in the early game. Even mid or late game, there are times when we will want to optionally engaging some particularly nasty enemy.
Balin brings a very powerful ability, and access to some much-needed card drawing via King Under the Mountain. As a second Leadership hero, he also allows us to get Steward of Gondor onto Boromir more quickly. With most of the allies being Tactics or Neutral (remember Bill the Pony effectively costs nothing), we are bound to have some leftover Leaderships resources. In Balin’s case, these should be saved. Even equipped with Gondorian Shield and Support of the Eagles, Boromir can still be vulnerable. This is especially true in scenarios that feature attachment-hate.
Poor disregarded Radagast even makes an appearance in this deck. Normally, I would consider his 5 cost to be too steep, but there are several elements in his favor here. First of all, the majority of allies in this deck are Creatures – many with more than one hit point – so both of his abilities are really useful. Secondly, the resource acceleration and ally mustering cards in the deck make it much more viable to get the Brown wizard into play early. The earlier Radagast enters the fray, the more useful his extra resources become. In a deck that relies very heavily on its heroes for questing strength, his 2 willpower can also be quite helpful.
Sam Gamgee (TBR)
Errand Rider (HoN) x3
Vassal of the Windlord x3
Bill the Pony (TBR) x3
Winged Guardian x3
Faramir (Core) x2
Eagles of the Misty Mountains x3
Gandalf (Core) x3
Gondorian Shield x3
King Under the Mountain (TH:OtD) x3
Steward of Gondor (Core) x3
Support of the Eagles x3
A Very Good Tale x3
Gaining Strength x2
The Eagles Are Coming! x3
Sneak Attack x3
Timely Aid x2