Bear Market: Aggro Archetype

angry-bear

Idraen represents an interesting shift in the game, on several levels. At 11 threat cost, she is a total outlier within the Spirit sphere. Her excellent and well-rounded stats, built-in readying ability, and supporting attachments all have helped to create a new and powerful archetype. But this archetype is not one seen before in the Spirit sphere: Aggro. As their name implies, Aggro decks are about straight-forward aggression. A Hobbit deck might hide from enemies until it is ready to spring a trap. A Dwarf deck will steadily build up an army to overwhelm the enemy with [numerical superiority]. Even tempo decks like the recent Rohan/Gondor are not looking to defend an enemy directly, but instead use tricks and the timely sacrifice of lesser troops to accomplish their goal.

Aggro decks, in contrast, take the direct approach by loading up powerful heroes with powerful attachments, supporting them with focused events and relying on them to achieve victory. This is not to say that Aggro decks cannot include powerful allies – and many of them do – but heroes are always the focus of an Aggro deck. The reasoning for this is simple, if you are going to include high-threat heroes in a deck, it makes sense to focus much of your deck’s strategy around them, otherwise it makes little sense to include them in the first place. The following is a list of five cards that are well-suited to Aggro decks, with a discussion of how they fit into these archetypes.

Cram

CramReadying effects are important for any type of deck. Control decks will often utilize Unexpected Courage to have repeatable readying. However there is a drawback to even this seemingly “must-include” card. Two Spirit resources can be expensive, especially for decks that might only have 1 Spirit hero and will want to save those precious resources for cancellation effects. An Aggro deck wants to be effective from the very first round of the game. Having to wait two rounds for that all-important readying effect can be dangerous for a deck with higher starting threat.

Such decks need an immediate action advantage. Whether it is through heroes like Aragorn (Core), Prince Imrahil, Idraen, and Boromir (Tactics), or attachments like Cram, Lembas, Rohan Warhorse and Miruvor, an aggressive deck takes particular benefit from readying effects. This is one of the major advantages of having high-threat heroes. When these powerful characters can act multiple times in a round, it allows your deck to handle the larger enemies that will inevitably be engaging earlier than they would against more conservative strategies.

Aragorn (Core)There is a certain thrill in the risk-taking involved with these decks. By including high-threat heroes, you will face tougher enemies more quickly. Because you are closer to 50 threat and game loss, you can’t afford to take our time and wait until we have the perfect combination setup. Aggressive decks are less about combinations, per se, and more about taking advantage of powerful characters in ways that can be consistently repeated. With readying effects, most heroes will be committing to the quest, because you are secure in the knowledge that they can be used later in the round if necessary. This is what makes Cram so useful – it acts like an insurance policy in case a hero is unexpectedly exhausted and you find yourself vulnerable.

One last consideration when it comes to the value of Cram is the sphere that it belongs two. With Miruvor and Unexpected Courage, Spirit has some of the best readying effects in the game. However, Aggro decks are not always going to want to include Spirit. This is especially true in multiplayer, where other players can use Spirit and fulfill the support role. Just like a giant bear, Aggro decks just want to kill things and leave the sneaking, and talking, and even thinking, to the other archetypes.

Quick Strike

Quick StrikeIn the last year, the game has taken a decidedly aggressive turn. This is a nice change of pace from the control decks that dominated The Dwarrowdelf, due largely to the gravity well of Spirit Glorfindel. The Spirit Noldor was, and still is, such a powerful card that his influence has rippled throughout the metagame. I look forward to a low-threat (but not too low) Spirit alternative to Glorfindel to bring some variety back to deck-building. With hero Gandalf measuring in at an almost reckless 14 threat, Glorfindel looks to retain his popularity for some time to come.

Still, with some amazing hero options in other spheres, it is no longer entirely necessary for decks with two champions to automatically include Glorfindel as their third hero. This is a good thing, and it opens up some interesting avenues in Tactics in particular. Now that finally have a decent number of weapons, it is much easier to turn a Tactics hero into a force on the attack. Even non-Weapon attachments like Support of the Eagles, Gondorian Fire and Firefoot can help to transform the right hero into an enemy-killing machine.

The problem with spending multiple cards to transform a hero into an offensive weapon, is that you can still be vulnerable to enemy attacks. Some decks will solve this by also including weapons and defensive effects like healing or shadow cancellation. While dedicating most of a deck to weapon and armor can be effective, especially with support from other players, it is not always the optimal design from a deck. In other cases, it makes more sense to use offense as your greatest defense.

Rohan-Warhorse-VoI-smallFor example, in one build of my Rohan/Gondor “Leaves Play” deck I have completely replaced Feint for Quick Strike. Feint is such a Tactics staple that this decision might at first seem foolish. To be fair, for some scenarios I will sub Feint back in, but for the most part I have preferred Quick Strike to Feint. The reason is simple: with Eomer loaded up and ready to kill, it better to spend 1 card and 1 Tactics resource to kill an enemy that 1 card and 1 resource to avoid that enemy for a single attack. Killing an enemy not only means that you avoid that enemy’s attack this round, but every other attack it would have made in subsequent rounds.

Because my Rohan/Gondor deck starts at 30 threat, I can often find myself with enemies left over at the end of the round, so it is not a foregone conclusion that I will kill every engaged enemy. However, by using Quick Strike in combination with Rohan Warhorse, Eomer gets to attack multiple times. Quick Strike I will use to take out the most troublesome enemy that I can handle. Quick Strike provides all sorts of options for this deck. If there is an enemy that I can damage but not quite kill, I can use Quick Strike to kill a weaker enemy, then exhaust Firefoot to trample some extra damage onto the stronger enemy. With the Warhorse readying Eomer for a later attack against the stronger foe, it is often possible to kill two birds with a single Quick Strike (and the support cards).

There is one last advantage of Quick Strike over Feint, and it is an unexpected one. Because Feint prevents an enemy from attacking, it can prevent a chump blocker from defending and dying. This means that Eomer and Prince Imrahil do not have a trigger for their responses, and the whole combat strategy for the round can be thrown off track. As strange as it seems, for the Rohan/Gondor archetype you often want enemies attacking, because it fuels all of your responses. In this situations, a card like Quick Strike is preferable to Feint, as it provided a greater versatility.

Power of Orthanc

Power-of-Orthanc-smallAs player decks become more powerful, and more consistent, the designers are faced with a conundrum. In order for encounter decks to be interesting and provide the right level of challenge against powerful player decks, scenarios have to utilize more lasting effects to hinder the players’ efforts. By lasting effects, I am referring to encounter card effects which are not tied specifically to an enemy or location.

High threat locations can be explored (often in the staging area thanks to Asfaloth and Northern Tracker). Powerful enemies can be killed (and often avoided entirely with Feint, Feigned Voices and Quick Strike). On the other hand, treacheries that become Condition attachments can burden players for the entire game – if you’re unfortunate enough to reveal one during setup. While these cards are frustrating, they are necessary to provide the risk of a player losing the full use of one of their heroes. And this is often what condition attachments do: diminish a hero’s ability to impact the game, often in dramatic ways.

In-Need-of-Rest-smallThe Voice of Isengard and Ring-maker cycle have continued this trend. Now Condition attachments can even target the current quest card. In Need of Rest is a particularly nasty treachery from the Weary Travelers encounter set in The Voice of Isengard. Because it is a supplemental encounter set for that deluxe expansion, it shows up in other scenarios in the cycle, and may even show up in one of the last two adventure packs. With the time keyword on almost every quest card in this cycle, this card can be more than dangerous – it can be outright deadly.

This is where Power of Orthanc comes to the rescue. In a solo game, paying 2 threat to remove a crippling condition from a hero is almost always going to be worth the cost. Still, there could be times that a solo player with access to Lore would prefer to use Miner of the Iron Hills – it does after all provide an ally with additional utility. This is especially true in dedicated Dwarf decks, where anything with the Dwarf trait is a welcome addition.

It is in multiplayer where Power of Orthanc really shines. Many recent scenarios have a sizeable percentage of cards with Surge. In a three or four player game, this can easily mean 6 or more cards revealed in a round. It is not uncommon in these cases for there to be two Condition attachments in play, draining strength from multiple heroes or otherwise wrecking havoc. In these situations, Power of Orthanc is salvation for Aggro decks.

By their very design, Aggro decks are susceptible to Condition attachments. Because they feature powerful heroes with game-changing abilities, they are more reliant on having each of their heroes act each round. This is in stark contrast to other archetypes like Dwarves or Outlands, where the heroes serve to support and bolster an army of allies. For example: a condition that punishes you for exhausting Dain Ironfoot will have negligible impact on a dwarf deck. On the other hand, being punished every time you exhaust Tactics Boromir is an absolutely brutal limitation that needs to be dealt with immediately.

Thror’s Map

Thror's MapDesigning for a living card game is not an easy task. As the card pool expands, players have more tools with which to break the game. The intent of a card is one thing, that way that the card is used by players in the actual game ends up being something else entirely. When the distance between these two points is too great, errata can be necessary to reign in a card. Such was the case with Thror’s Map.

In it’s original form, it completely broke the way that players interacted with locations. This was particularly egregious in solo play, where fewer cards are revealed each round, and automatically traveling to a new location each round is simply too powerful. While the intent was certainly to allow players to avoid the increasingly onerous travel costs on many locations, the idea was not for a repeatable form of Strider’s Path. The errata to this card was warranted, but as with many errata, it left Thror’s Map with a stigma.

Hidden-Alleyway-smallWhile the revised version of Thror’s Key is certainly not an auto-include, this is a good thing. Too many “auto-includes” leads to a stale metagame and a lack of variety in decks. Though it might not be as powerful, this card can still be a staple in Aggro decks. The reason this card is particularly important for Aggro decks has to do with something that I call “traveling strategy”. Ideally, an Aggro deck will be engaging any enemies in the staging area, once they are prepared to defeat them. Engaging enemies not only removes their threat from the staging area, but it protects other players, whose decks might be less capable of dealing with certain attackers. For much the same reason, an Aggro deck prefers to travel to a location, whenever there is one available in the staging area. This removes threat from the staging and helps to prevent location lock later in the game. This aggressive “engage everything” strategy works well in combat-oriented Aggro decks, but the corollary “travel everywhere” strategy is much harder to accomplish. Travel effects are increasingly demanding and can be especially taxing for an Aggro deck when they involve exhausting or otherwise hindering heroes.

This is where Thror’s Map shows that it is still a very relevant card. It is no small thing for the Aggro deck to be free to travel to whatever location makes the most sense, regardless of the cost. In newer scenarios, many locations have game-changing passive effects, sometimes even providing a benefit to the players. As a drawback, these locations will often have a dreadful travel cost, something that Thror’s Map completely circumvents. Granted, many unique locations have “Immune to Player Card Effects” so this attachment won’t allow you to avoid the marquee locations in a scenario, but this would remove much of the challenge and spoil most of the fun.

Gandalf (TRD)

Gandalf-TRD-smallAs long as the game has existed, players have wondered if there would ever be a Gandalf hero card. While The Road Darkens finally put that debate to rest, it gave rise to a whole host of new questions. What does a Gandalf deck look like? How do you build a consistently successful deck around a hero with 14 starting threat – other than the obvious crutch of using Glorfindel? What kinds of strategies does a Gandalf-deck give rise to?

Time, and a few more supplemental player cards, will ultimately answer these questions. Still, even this early it is safe to make a few observations about the game’s first (but hopefully not only) Istari hero. Gandalf is probably the perfect hero for an Aggro strategy. With 14 starting threat, the idea of sneaking around unnoticed by the Dark Lord is more than a bit absurd. Gandalf is the most powerful hero in the game, so it is only fitting to feature him in decks designed around utilizing the power of your heroes.

Even if you did pair him with two lesser heroes, to provide a more manageable starting threat, he still begs to be loaded up with gear. His pipe and staff are both staples in any deck featuring Gandalf as a hero. With the recent spoiler of Shadowfax, we know that more support is on the way for everyone’s favorite Istari. An attachment-heavy strategy makes all kinds of sense with Gandalf, particularly with readying effects, as you want to take advantage of his impressive stats.

Expert Treasure-HunterWith Gandalf’s guidance, always knowing what is on the top of your deck also lends itself to interesting strategies. Whether it is resource generation through Zigil Miner and Hidden Cache, or insane amounts of card drawing through Expert Treasure-Hunter, Gandalf unlocks the tremendous potential of many existing cards. Flame of Anor provides yet another powerful tool for the wizard, and brings the advantage of also being a readying effect. Even absent these specific combinations, knowing the next card on your deck is great with card drawing effects because it lets you know whether you need the next card in your hand now – or you can wait until later.

There is one last way in which Gandalf is particularly well-suited to Aggro decks. Because Aggro decks want to get setup quickly, they will often feature a good number of 0 and 1-cost cards. As discussed above in relation to Cram, being able to play cards for free is very important for a deck that does not have the luxury of a few rounds to setup. Aggro decks can expect to be engaged immediately, and thus need to be prepared. A deck that utilized Gandalf along with a large number of inexpensive cards, particularly events, can make use of his ability multiple times in a round. Not only is this a form of card drawing effect, but it also greatly mitigates Gandalf’s lack of a true printed resource icon.

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23 Responses to Bear Market: Aggro Archetype

  1. Gwaihir the Windlord says:

    Quick Strike has become a new favorite of mine recently as well. I include it (and Feint) in every deck I build that includes Tactics, and as a huge Tactics fan, that’s just about everything.

    I plan to make an Aggro White Council deck featuring Elrond, Galadriel, and hero Gandalf with a starting threat of 36. Vilya and Nenya will be included, as well as all of Gandalf’s toys. The one thing missing is Narya, Gandalf’s ring. Hopefully FFG plans on releasing it soon.

  2. William O'Brien says:

    Can you explain how the options available with Quick Strike are not also available with Feint? Feint does not prevent you from attacking the enemy. End result with both seems like dead enemy that didn’t attack, except Feint has other applications and doesn’t limit you to one hero for the attack. The only practical advantage that stands out to me is using Firefoot+Quick Strike to kill two enemies before they attack, which seems like a rare occurrence.

    Your last Quick Strike paragraph talks about how Feint prevents your allies from dying. Doesn’t using Quick Strike to kill the enemy do that too?

    • Beorn says:

      First of all, I can say from experience that using Quick Strike with Éomer and Firefoot is not a rare occurrence – my Rohan/Gondor deck pulls this off in more games than not. Because it starts at 30 threat and is most often paired with decks that have a lower starting threat, it is not difficult to engage two enemies at a time to make this strategy work. Westfold Outrider also helps in this regard.

      As for the rest of your concerns with Feint, it is a matter of utility. Assuming that Éomer has enough attack strength to kill an enemy, I would rather spend 1 resource and 1 card to completely eliminate that threat than just preventing them from attacking. It is also worth noting that Quick Strike does not target an enemy, so it can be used to kill (or at least damage) an enemy with immune to player card effects. Feint is completely useless against such enemies. Granted, quick strike would prevent a chump blocker from dying just like Feint would, but the idea is for this deck to only sacrifice (at most) one ally a round. The alternative is unsustainable over the course of a game unless other players are providing card drawing.

      In any case, Quick Strike is preferable to Feint in that particular deck because of the power of Firefoot. When at all possible, I will intentionally engage one big enemy and one small one. I can then quick strike the smaller enemy and trample the damage over to the bigger one – completely avoiding the high defense value that is often found on larger enemies. In ideal circumstances, this allows me to kill two enemies (or at least kill one and seriously injure the other) before those enemies even attack. Rohan Warhorse then allows Éomer to ready after defeating the smaller enemy, so even if the larger enemy survives, Éomer can make a second attack later in the round to finish them off. This kind of strategy simply is not possible with Feint, it is too passive of a card for this particular deck.

      As I mentioned in the article, I will put Feint back into the deck (in addition to Quick Strike, not as a replacement), for scenarios with “boss” enemies or shadow effects that specifically punish chump blocking. Still, it is worth noting that most of the time I would prefer to draw a Quick Strike with this deck than I would a Feint. I do not mean to imply that this comparison is universally true (very few comparisons are) – but for Aggro decks Quick Strike is often the better card. This doesn’t even touch on all of the Tactics heroes with responses that trigger after you kill an enemy. Feint is not going to help me to use Legolas, Brand Son of Bain, Merry, Foe-Hammer, etc. etc. I hope that this helps to clarify the point that I was trying to make. Thanks for your feedback.

      • William O'Brien says:

        “Assuming that Éomer has enough attack strength to kill an enemy, I would rather spend 1 resource and 1 card to completely eliminate that threat than just preventing them from attacking”

        If you Feint him and then attack with Eomer later in the round, isn’t the result the same? Same investment, the enemy doesn’t attack, and is killed.

        If you have an Immune enemy down to range where Quick Strike will kill them, haven’t you basically won already? Those guys are all end bosses with huge defense values. Eomer is barely scratching them on his own.

        “Rohan Warhorse then allows Éomer to ready after defeating the smaller enemy, so even if the larger enemy survives, Éomer can make a second attack later in the round to finish them off.”

        If the second enemy isn’t killed by Firefoot, isn’t the result the same? One enemy attacks, Eomer kills the smaller and tramples, then readies and attacks the larger.

        “Feint is not going to help me to use Legolas, Brand Son of Bain, Merry, Foe-Hammer”

        Quick Strike doesn’t really do this either. Quick Strike isn’t giving you an additional attack, it’s just letting you attack earlier than one enemy. Feint does the same thing by not letting that enemy attack at all. To get additional attacks, you would still need the same number of readying effects.

        I’m not trying to be adversarial, I’m legitimately curious. I can definitely see where Quick Strike + Firefoot would be better in something like 7th level, a scenario where my own version struggled a bit because of some of those nasty shadows that kill chump blockers. I just don’t see how Quick Strike will have a superior effect to Feint unless you have that kind of specific board position.

  3. Beorn says:

    Quick Strike does give you an extra attack, though. This is particularly relevant against a larger enemy that would take multiple attacks to defeat. Without some card effect, Éomer can only attack a given enemy once in a round. Thanks to Quick Strike he can attack an enemy twice. Alternatively, he can attack a smaller enemy using Quick Strike, kill it, and trample damage onto the larger enemy using Firefoot. Then, thanks to Rohan Warhorse, he can ready and make an attack against the larger enemy during the normal attack step. None of this is possible with Feint.

    Here is a hypothetical example to illustrate. In this case, let’s assume that a character had already left play (say an Escort from Edoras at the end of the quest phase), so that Éomer already has his bonus. (Even without this assumption the strategy still works, just with weaker enemies.)

    2 attacking enemies.
    Enemy A: 5 attack, 3 defense and 4 hit points
    Enemy B: 3 attack, 0 defense and 3 hit points

    Using Feint (after shadow cards are dealt, but before enemy attacks):
    1. Play Feint on enemy A, preventing it from attacking
    2. Chump block enemy B
    3. Attack enemy A with Éomer, killing it. Enemy B is still engaged with us for next round.

    Using Quick Strike (after shadow cards are dealt, but before enemy attacks):
    1. Play Quick Strike and have Éomer attack enemy B, killing it.
    2. Exhaust Firefoot and deal 4 damage to enemy A, killing it.
    3. No enemy attacks and no engaged enemies for next round. We also did not need to chump block and risk a nasty shadow effect from enemy B.

    You can argue that this is a contrived example if you want, but my own experience backs up the power of Quick Strike with this particular strategy. Feint is a powerful, but passive card. Quick Strike, especially when paired with an aggressive deck with characters that possess a high attack strength, is a much more aggressive card.

    Quick Strike absolutely is better suited for Legolas, Brand, Foe-Hammer, etc (not Merry, I misspoke). All of these responses are triggered after a hero kills an enemy. Quick Strike allows you to kill an enemy at action speed. Feint does not allow you do this. A well-timed Quick Strike can allow you to play a Foe-hammer which can allow you to draw a Feint for another attacker, all within the player action window after shadow cards are dealt. These kinds of combinations are simply not possible with Feint. If you were not quite able to clear the active location, Legolas can use Quick Strike during the quest phase to kill an enemy and put those last 2 points of progress on the active location. Then, when the travel phase comes you will be able to get another location out of the staging area.

    Here is a great example in multiplayer. Say you end up with two engaged enemies, but due to bad luck you don’t have any ready heroes to defend. If Brand can kill one of those enemies by himself (not difficult with the help of weapons), then I can use Quick Strike to remove one of the attackers, then trigger his response *before you have declared a defender* to ready one of your heroes to defend the other attack. In this example a Feint would have only saved you from one of those attacks, but Quick Strike saves you from two. I could go on and one, but Quick Strike is better than Feint in the right situation.

    To be very clear, I am not advocating replacing Feint with Quick Strike in all decks. Feint is an excellent general purpose card that is obviously a staple in any Tactics deck. However, Quick Strike can be the better card in a deck (like the one I was describing in the article) that is designed to use it. Any strategy, including Feint, can be weak for certain scenarios, but I consider Quick Strike more than just a “sideboard” or “situational” card as you are implying. It is fundamental to an aggressive strategy. If you look at most scenarios, there is a mix of high and low hit point (and defense) enemies. In any of these scenarios, using Quick Strike with Firefoot is superior to Feint by itself.

    • William O'Brien says:

      “Quick Strike does give you an extra attack, though. This is particularly relevant against a larger enemy that would take multiple attacks to defeat. Without some card effect, Éomer can only attack a given enemy once in a round. Thanks to Quick Strike he can attack an enemy twice”

      You need an additional readying card to do this, since Rohan Warhorse won’t trigger. Cram? Anyway, if an enemy would die to two Eomer attacks, they would most likely die to one Eomer + Imrahil + (allies) attack. And Feint would mean that you wouldn’t need to use a defender (and thus have an ally that can possibly add in to the attack).

      I can see cases where you get value out of multiple Eomer attacks against one enemy, but coming at a 2 card disadvantage vs Feint (defender/2nd Quick Strike and additional ready effect) it needs to be a pretty crucial case.

      “Using Feint (after shadow cards are dealt, but before enemy attacks):
      1. Play Feint on enemy A, preventing it from attacking
      2. Chump block enemy B
      3. Attack enemy A with Éomer, killing it. Enemy B is still engaged with us for next round.

      Using Quick Strike (after shadow cards are dealt, but before enemy attacks):
      1. Play Quick Strike and have Éomer attack enemy B, killing it.
      2. Exhaust Firefoot and deal 4 damage to enemy A, killing it.
      3. No enemy attacks and no engaged enemies for next round. We also did not need to chump block and risk a nasty shadow effect from enemy B.”

      You have Firefoot in one scenario but not the other? Not really apples-to-apples. The real difference if you are just replacing Quick Strike with Feint is one enemy attack. I’ve acknowledged before that when Firefoot would kill the second enemy, Quick Strike is better.

      Your other examples are good. Particularly Brand. I do think they are a little too setup dependent though.

      It’s probably just a play style difference. As a primarily solo/same-list player, Feint carries over from scenario to scenario a little better for my version of the deck. I also don’t chump block quite as often since I use Spirit Bofur as a consistent trigger for my heroes, with Imrahil w/ Gondorian Shield as a reliable defender. So I have more of my Envoys/Outriders/etc available to help kill.

      It’s a real cool deck archetype, and I appreciate you fueling the idea for it with your original post.

      • Beorn says:

        It doesn’t matter if I have Firefoot with Feint, I still have to face the attack from enemy B, with a shadow card revealed. In the example with Quick Strike, I can kill both enemies before either of them attacks. In the example with Feint, it is not possible to do that.

        I agree, using Quick Strike over Feint is as much a personal preference for me, as it is a strategic one. After including Feint in pretty much every deck I’ve ever built that includes a Tactics hero, it is nice to mix things up and go with a different approach. The way that I look at it is that Feint may be the more consistent card in these decks, but Quick Strike allows for more heroic “big” plays, where you turn the tides of battle in dramatic fashion.

      • William O'Brien says:

        “It doesn’t matter if I have Firefoot with Feint, I still have to face the attack from enemy B, with a shadow card revealed. In the example with Quick Strike, I can kill both enemies before either of them attacks. In the example with Feint, it is not possible to do that.”

        Right, I’ve acknowledged that from the beginning. But in your Feint example you don’t also have Firefoot to kill the enemy, making your comparison a bit more lopsided. The real difference in the ideal Firefoot/Quick Strike vs Firefoot/Feint scenario is one attack. Which can either be really, really bad (shadow effect kills chump blocker before damage is assigned) or nothing at all (defender takes no damage).

        Your way is definitely more exciting 😉

  4. William O'Brien says:

    I’m curious to see one of your Gandalf lists. I’ve been tinkering and it’s difficult finding a balance between the power cards (that need setup), and cheap cards. Especially an Elrond/Gandalf/Glorf deck where they all have several of their own must-run cards so it’s hard to find room for much else. Glorf/Gandalf/Bifur seems like it might be the most stable.

    • Beorn says:

      I have a couple of different Gandalf builds that I am tinkering with, but I still haven’t found one that I like yet. I think that ultimately I will go with insane amounts of card draw/digging (thanks to Daeron’s Runes, Expert Treasure-hunter, Zigil Miner, King Under the Mountain, etc.) and a deck of more than 50 cards.

      • Ragnaar Haas says:

        I usually try to get something in play that will let me scry the deck and shuffle, like Master of the Forge, then use Imladris Stargazer to order the top 5 cards how I want them. Ideally, I can set them up to play the cards I want per phase from the top of the deck. I don’t use Zigil as much since Gandalfs Staff can get a small amount of resource acceleration going.

  5. William O'Brien says:

    A couple nice things about Power of Orthanc that make it an almost ideal 1-of toobox card:
    1. It can be fetched with Seeing-stone, which has a few other nice options
    2. It’s Spirit, so you can get it back with Dwarven Tomb if you need it again.

  6. Tracker1 says:

    You’ve summed up a lot of my strategies of playing. Many of my decks are aggro thanks for letting me know. I load up attachments on heroes and some of these decks don’t even have allies in them. I use all the cards you mentioned except, Thor’s key and Quick strike.

    Before the key was nerfed I used it, but it was pretty broken, so I am happy with the change. As for quick strike, I just always forget to include it, but I usually don’t include Feint either. I guess i plan my decks around having a solid defender that hopefully will have enough readying to defend a few times if necessary and even possibly attack. So, yes any card that give action advantage deserves consideration and will be a major staple in the deck. Of course Tactics Boromir is the King of Aggro.

    A few cards that really made big waves for me this playstyle were Blood of Numenor, Fire of Gondor and Lay of Nimrodel. These cards allowed me to generate big numbers for the 3 main stats in the games, and made it more possible not to rely on allies to get the job done. Before those cards, which all rely on resources to boost the stat, the only options were cards that gave +1 or 2 to a stat and if the deck was slow on card draw it would take awhile to get a few in play, that’s pre Gandalf Hero era, now it’s quite easy with him.

    The 2 attachments mentioned above (BoN and FoG) are 0 cost and once attached gain more pwer each round as long as resources are not spent often, and additional resource generating cards can get a hero to pretty insane numbers quickly. One copy of the card and enough resources can take care of all attack or defending that would ever be needed. I basically figured I could just load the deck up with a ton of other 0 to 1 cost cards and just allow resources to accumulate. I’ve built a number of decks with different heroes that use this strategy and I think they fit into the Aggro deck builders tool bag.

    Anyway now I’m on to the Silvan army swarm for a change. I forgot how much fun it is to play allies, and frustrating it is when there wiped out by a nasty treachery card.

  7. lleimmoen says:

    I too prefer Quick Strike to Feint in some decks. At first it was more of thing of variety but certainly Éomer or Dúnhere work better with Quick Strike. I am not sure if you mentioned Dúnhere, he can Quick Strike during staging, something Feint will never be able to achieve. Also immune enemies ignore Feint but you can still Quick Strike them (and even if you don’t kill them it still allows you to strike them one more time provided you have action advantage like Elladan). Finally, Éomer can Quick Strike two enemies with Firefoot, three potentially, with Mighty Prowess. It has happened to me once or twice.

    • Beorn says:

      Yes, I should ammend this article to include Dúnhere; Quick Strike is particularly effective with Quick Strike. As more enemies are printed with immunity, that distinction will become more pronounced as well. Of all of the decks that I play right now, Éomer and Firefoot is one of my favorites. Thanjs to cards like Westfold Outrider, that deck has so many tricks up its sleeves.

  8. EricF says:

    I put together the “three rings” deck, and it works really well solo. With a few card swaps (see thoughtsbyericf.blogspot.com) I’ve been able to beat most of the scenarios, and all of the ones I’ve attempted so far. Battle of lake town was really tricky, and eventually led to adding 6 extra 1 cost chump blockers, in place of most of the late and mid-game stuff.

    • Beorn says:

      Nicely done. I have only ever beaten Battle of Lake-town once, and that was mainly due to good luck I suspect. I haven’t had the desire to go back and play that scenario, but it is good to hear about your triumph.

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