Deck: The Window on the West

Art LOTR Nasmith First Sight of Ithilen

‘See here, Captain!’ He planted himself squarely in front of Faramir, his hands on his hips, and a look on his face as if he was addressing a young hobbit who had offered him what he called ‘sauce’ when questioned about visits to the orchard. There was some murmuring, but also some grins on the faces of the men looking on: the sight of their Captain sitting on the ground and eye to eye with a young hobbit, legs well apart, bristling with wrath was one beyond their experience.

Window on the West is a turning point in the story of The Lord of the Rings. Frodo and Sam are about to leave behind the lands of men and venture at last into Mordor; their fate awaiting at Mount Doom. Faramir, Captain of the rangers of Ithilien, learns the truth about his brother and Isildur’s Bane. The decisions made at this point would have ultimately contribute to the Ring’s destruction.

This deck represents the last time that the Ring is within the grasp of the Men, and the critical choice that faces Faramir of Gondor. Faramir is leading the rangers of Ithilien in a desperate attempt to hold-off the Haradrim armies that are mustering on their borders. This deck is a different take on Secrecy which makes excellent use of one the less-heralded cards from The Dunland Trap: Ithilien Lookout.

There are many things to like about the Ithilien Lookout. First of, a Lore ally with 2 attack and 2 hit points is worth three resources for the stats alone. Secondly, Gondor and Ranger are both valuable traits. The first can take advantage of Visionary Leadership, if we need this ally for questing. The later trait is useful if we need to attach Ranger Bow to our Lookout, and use it to attack the staging area.

In a deck which lays traps in the staging area, the response of this ally should not be overlooked either. If we see an enemy that would be dangerous to leave in the staging area (for example: one with the archery keyword) we can use the Lookout’s ability to discard that foe. On the other hand, if a particular enemy would be harmless once trapped, we can leave them on the top of the encounter deck, secure in the knowledge of an uneventful quest phase. Henamarth Riversong can even be used ahead of time, so that we know when is the best time for our Lookout to enter the scene.

Ithilien-LookoutAll of the above would make the Ithilien Lookout a solid card in its own right. However the real advantage of this ally is when we can draw it within the first few rounds, and play it for only 1 resource. This is the kind of support that Secrecy needs: cards that are good when played for full cost, but excellent when played at a reduced cost. This deck is tailored to make the best use of Gondorian Rangers, and the Ithilien Lookout serves as the low-cost soldier which makes this strategy work.

Two other Secrecy staples, Resourceful and Timely Aid make an appearance here. Resourceful is particularly helpful in ensuring that Faramir has extra resources. These resources are not only needed to pay for all of the Lore allies and attachments in this deck, but they also help to power Visionary Leadership.

Timely Aid is a great way to muster the more expensive allies like Ithilien Archer, Anborn or even Gandalf. As for Anborn, Faramir’s lieutenant has a bevy of attachments at his disposal. With help from the Lookout and Henamarth Riversong it becomes possible to ensure that any enemy entering the staging area is always walking into a trap.

Gandalf is only one way for this deck to lower its threat, which might seem like a major limitation for a Secrecy strategy. A better way to think of Secrecy in this deck is as a supplement to the overall strategy. A low starting threat, combined with solid willpower allows us to leave high-engagement enemies in the staging area. Eventually, we can use traps to neutralize these enemies, even  sending engaged enemies into traps with the help of Ithilien Archers.

Enemies in the staging can be dealt with in several different ways. If they are trapped, they can often be ignored. High engagement-cost enemies can be optionally engaged, with Sam giving us action advantage. With other enemies in the staging area, Faramir’s attack power should be boosted to the point where he and his men can make quick work of the enemy. With excellent card draw, we also stand a good change of having Ranger Bow equipped to one or more of our rangers. In this case, we can sit back with our low threat and safely snipe the enemies from a distance. No need to fight an army of Haradrim up close, when we can drown them in a hail of arrows.

Secrecy is only really needed in the first few rounds, to help offset the absence of a third hero. Timely Aid can give us an expensive ally, helping to overcome the action disadvantage from the missing hero. Likewise, Resourceful pairs with Steward of Gondor to give our two heroes plenty of resources. Errand-rider can also help to ensure that unused resources are moved to where they are more effective. Daeron’s Runes and Master of the Forge both help to get critical cards into our hand as early as possible.

Ultimately, this deck can reach a point where it has full control of the staging area, and more than enough willpower to deal with any locations that come up. The initial boost from Secrecy just makes this early game setup a bit more consistent. If you happen to draw Gandalf later, after your threat is to high for Secrecy, you can always make use of his other abilities. It is never a bad thing to have a wizard by your side.

Faramir (AoO)Sam Gamgee

Faramir (AoO)
Sam Gamgee (TBR)

Allies: 26
Errand-Rider (HoN) x3
Henamarth Riversong (Core) x2
Ithilien Tracker (HoN) x3
Master of the Forge (SaF) x3
Warden of Healing (TLD) x3
Ithilien Lookout (TDT) x3
Ithilien Archer (EaAD) x3
Anborn (TBoG) x3
Gandalf (Core) x3

Attachments: 16
Resourceful (TWitW) x3
Ithilien Pit (EaAD) x1
Protector of Lórien (Core) x2
Ranger Bow (AoO) x3
Steward of Gondor (Core) x2
Visionary Leadership (TMV) x2
Poisoned Stakes (TBoG) x1
Ranger Spikes (HoN) x1
Forest Snare (Core) x1

Events: 8
Daeron’s Runes (FoS) x3
Sneak Attack (Core) x2
Timely Aid (TRG) x3

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14 Responses to Deck: The Window on the West

  1. shipwreck says:

    Love, love, love that Sam quote.

  2. I find the 1x of each of the traps very intriguiing. Can you enlighten me to your thought process on that?

    • Beorn says:

      The basic idea is this: traps are essentially dead cards once you already have one in play. Because each trap attaches to the first eligible enemy, it does little good to set multiple at the same time. Granted, the Ithilien Pit does not keep an enemy in the staging area, but with Faramir and a low starting threat, you should be able to kill most enemies before they engage. Once a given trap has been used, you can return it to your hand with Anborn (the best choice for Timely Aid, incidentally).

      After an enemy is trapped, there are options for how to deal with them. If Ranger Spikes is offsetting their threat and they don’t have an ability like archery, then they can safely be ignored. If they are high-engagement cost and fell into some poisoned stakes, you can likewise let the die on their own. Alternatively, you can optionally engage them to ready Sam and finish them off. This latter strategy works best when you have a good blocker (Sam with Protector of Lórien, or Gandalf) and you want to get their trap back in order to use it again.

      Granted, the deck could have included more copies of each of the traps for consistency, but I find that Master of the Forge and Daeron’s Runes do a very good job of fetching them. The extra spots that would have been taken by duplicate traps are instead given to other attachments, which can also be fetched the same way. If you find that you aren’t getting the traps consistently, feel free to drop a couple of allies for a few more copies of Ranger Spikes.

      In my experience, this deck works better as a support deck in multiplayer than it does solo. In that role, any of the traps can be useful, and Ithilien Archer can always be used to return an enemy to the staging area – into a trap. In many games I had multiple traps rotating in and out of play with Anborn’s help, so as long as you get a Master of the Forge (or an sneaky Gandalf for card draw) in the early game, you should not have any problem getting the traps going.

      Another nice trick is to discard traps like the Pit or Stakes to Protector of Lórien. If there are a lot of locations in play, or you need to make more quest progress, the traps are of secondary importance. You can always use Anborn later, to return the discarded trap to your hand. In this sense, traps are more of a generic commodity in this deck. This is especially true if you can get a couple of Ranger Bows in play. Smaller enemies can be sniped in the staging area, without ever having to worry about trapping them.

      Again, it should be stressed that with all of the ranged and staging area tricks, this deck functions much better as a support deck than when it tries to do everything on its own. Two hero Secrecy decks can struggle with consistency, and this deck is no exception. If you get Resourceful, Timely Aid or Sneak Attack + Gandalf in the opening hand, the deck can be amazing. On the other hand, a bad draw and only two heroes can make for a quick defeat against the wrong scenarios.

  3. Eucatastrophe says:

    Great deck! Love the thinking here. Master of the Forge is absolutely incredible. I put some stats together for what happens when you get three in play, and it was something like a 95% hit rate after the deck size gets down to 45 cards for getting an attachment type if you’ve included 3 in your deck. Completely changed the power level of my Hobbit Pipe deck (which, incidentally just nuked Journey Along the Anduin solo :).

    • Beorn says:

      Nice, I am glad to hear that it is possible to get the Hobbit Pipe deck to work. Master of the Forge just an incredibly powerful card. As more attachments are printed, he will only become more useful.

      • Eucatastrophe says:

        Agreed! The Hobbit Pipe deck has gone through much tweaking but is now really holding its own (esp solo) and will be *bonkers* when Ally Bilbo is released. Only real struggle is quests which have especially menacing first rounds.

  4. Beorn says:

    Yes, I have found that the most dangerous thing for these sorts of decks is cards like Dol Guldur Orcs or East Bight Patrol. High attack or a nasty “When Revealed” effect combined with low-engagement cost is no fun in the early game when you are trying to fly under the radar.

  5. Tonskillitis says:

    Looking forward to trying this deck- very interesting combination of cards and pretty nicely thematic too. Do you think this will be the cycle where 2 hero secrecy becomes fully viable as a play style? And will it be fun- or will it simply be an aid to the turtle-style of play in allowing players longer to build up an insurmountable army of allies and attachments? I am certainly interested to try and am looking forward to experimenting with Sylvan secrecy- Celeborn and (surprise surprise) Glorfindel might make a solid combination…

    • Beorn says:

      This deck is a lot of fun to play. It gives you many interesting choices and there are some fun interactions, particularly involving Ithilien Archer. As I said in the other comment, you will find that it works better as a support deck in some scenarios. It isn’t quite well-rounded enough to work solo against some quests, unless you get the perfect draw.

      This is the inherent drawback of Secrecy with two heroes: the action and resources lost in the first two rounds make your opening hand even more important. These decks will struggle mightily to overcome a poor opening hand.

      I hope that two hero Secrecy becomes viable in this cycle. I am interested in finding the best use for leaf brooch. The potential of Celeborn with all of these new Silvan allies is also intriguing. For now, I see him paired with Glorfindel or Galadriel (when she is released), but what we really need is another Lore Silvan hero. This hero would get Resourceful (and Steward if you don’t care about theme), and help you to pay for all of the solid 3-cost Silvan allies in that sphere.

      I imagine that, like any two-hero Secrecy deck, it will be tricky to play. Still, I very much look forward to the challenge. While Secrecy uses the “turtle” strategy on the one hand, two-hero Secrecy brings some unique challenges – both in deck construction and play style. This ensures that these decks are fun to play, so long as you don’t bring them to the wrong scenario . Put simply, some quests will utterly crush a two-hero Secrecy deck.

  6. Tonskillitis says:

    I guess it’s just that 1st turn playing resourceful can mean death on a quest with an explosive set up. You really need to be using those resources to put out valuable allies and attachments from the beginning to try to balance out the odds. I will certainly try it but it just seems too much like catchup at the moment playing secrecy with 2 heroes. The problem with Resourceful is that it doesn’t immediately generate a resource so it leaves you short initially. I guess given the ability of leaf broach that it will essentially give you the resource back on the turn you play it which is why steward of gondor is such a no-brainer I think. Other cards which have a secrecy cost of 0 will be useful. If nothing else, I’m looking forward to getting more use of ‘Timely Aid’. What a great card!

    • Beorn says:

      I agree, Resourceful does not give you any immediate advantage. The hope with this deck is that you can survive the early game, taking advantage of Sam’s ability if you need to optionally engage an enemy. I wish that I could find a way to get Great Yew Bow into this deck, to provide a more consistent means for attacking the staging area besides Ranger Bows. I suppose Song of Battle is an option, but it just feels like it would dilute the deck to include that card. I can see many games where Great Yew Bow is a dead card in your hand and threat gets too high to take advantage of it.

      Timely Aid is such an amazing card. In my most successful tests of this deck, I was able to play Timely Aid and an Ithilien Lookout on the first turn. Starting the game with Anborn or Gandalf in addition to the lookout can go a long way to making up for having only 2 heroes. Still, the resource and action disadvantage is hard to overcome, particularly when it comes to defending low-engagement cost enemies. I really like that they created Ithilien Lookout, and I hope to see a few more Secrecy cards to support a Ranger/Secrecy archetype.

      Leaf Brooch will help, in some versions of this deck, but events seem to be much less important than attachments in most Ranger decks. I would really like to see a card that helps with defending, since this can be a real weakness for this deck. With Resourceful and Steward of Gondor, I may end up trying a version of this deck that uses Harbor Master. It’s really too bad that Errand-rider does not provide support for that particular strategy; it might end up getting swapped out for Wealth of Gondor or Gaining Strength.

  7. Micah says:

    I’ve played two-handed, using this deck and your Caldera’s Sacrifice. They play really well together, I ran a continuous quest “gauntlet” of Passage Through Mirkwood and Journey Along the Anduin back to back (without shuffling player decks and without resetting my threat) and they handled it swimmingly. I also played Dol Guldur and got lucky with the Nazgul landing on some Poisoned Stakes, and never had to deal with him directly.

    Are there any synergies to those two decks that you think would be good? I was trying to fit Asfaloth in there somewhere, and the only thing I can think to take out are 1-2 rangers to make room.

    • Beorn says:

      I’m glad to hear that this deck worked out for you. That is a good pairing of decks. You can definitely take out a couple of Rangers to make room for Asfaloth, Good luck!

  8. Pingback: Metagame: Part 5 – FAQs and an Evolving Metagame | Hall of Beorn

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