Poll Results: Favorite Core Set Staple

With over 500 votes, it’s time to tally the results of the latest poll. Readers were asked about their favorite staple cards from the Core Set. While many powerful cards have been released since the games inception, the Core Set remains the foundation upon which most decks are built and defines the basic constraints which shape the meta-game. The results reflect the continued influence of the game’s base set as the top choices can be found in a vast majority of decks.

Card Votes Percentage
Steward of Gondor 93 18.24%
Gandalf 90 17.65%
Unexpected Courage 75 14.71%
A Test of Will 56 10.98%
Sneak Attack 56 10.98%
Northern Tracker 39 7.65%
Faramir 28 5.49%
Feint 27 5.29%
Gondorian Spearman 13 2.55%
Horn of Gondor 12 2.35%
Erebor Hammersmith 8 1.57%
Protector of Lórien 6 1.18%
Gléowine 3 0.59%
Daughter of the Nimrodel 1 0.20%
Henamarth Riversong 1 0.20%

In an effort to illustrate just how relevant the Core Set still is, I decided to design a new deck around many of these staple cards. Rather than simply mix ever single staple into some strange soup, I decided to build a thematic deck where at least half of the cards were taken from the Core Set. Because I wanted to highlight as many Core Set staples as possible (even some cards that did not make it into the Poll), I actually included 30 Core Set staples in this deck.

Dain IronfootI chose Dwarves, since I haven’t played with them in a while, and I’ve been wanting to make a Dwarf deck without Dain Ironfoot. While he remains the undisputed King of the Dwarves in strategic terms, I find his presence in the vast majority of Dwarf decks has made that entire archetype feel somewhat stale. As I mentioned in my recent meta-game review, over-powered heroes like Dain have a tendency to dominate strategic thinking (my own included) and lead to repetitive designs.

I went with 60 cards instead of the usual 50, because of the incredibly powerful card-drawing effects available to Dwarves allow a larger deck to remain consistent. On a thematic note, I also wanted to play with as many of the unique dwarf allies as possible. Dwarf decks are particularly fun to play in that their strategical development can progress on pace with their theme. As more and more unique Dwarf allies enter play, the entire company benefits – not only from the individual abilities but from their collective might. While the absence of Dain mutes the overall strength of this deck, it can still must a formidable army given the opportunity.

Gimli (ToS)Astute readers will not that this list also includes a single copy of Gimli from the upcoming Treason of Saruman Saga Expansion. We are all eagerly awaiting the release of the latest installment of our campaign through Middle-earth, but for those who don’t want to use a proxy in the mean time, feel free to replace Gimli with an extra copy of his father Glóin. I am personally very excited about the new Gimli and Legolas allies, not only for how they represent a thematic “Fellowship” deck for the Saga expansions, but also for how well they will fit into their respective Dwarf and Silvan archetypes. Gimli in particular is an amazing addition to any Dwarf deck. His stats are fantastic, even before boosts for other global effects. In some ways, his built-in readying response is even more powerful than his well-rounded stats as it facilitates all sorts of trickery with cards like A Very Good Tale and We Are Not Idle.

This deck uses 2 copies of the Core Set, to make it more consistent, but it can easily be trimmed down to 50 cards for those who want to build it using a single Core Set. First, remove one copy each of the following Core Set cards: Erebor Hammersmith, Miner of the Iron Hills, Steward of Gondor, Unexpected Courage and Sneak Attack. This brings you down to the cards available from a single Core Set. Next, remove one copy of the following cards to bring the deck back down to the typical size:  Ered Nimrais Prospector, Bofur, King Under the Mountain, We Are Not Idle and Daeron’s Runes. As you can see, these changes end up take extra copies of some very powerful cards out of the deck, which is the entire reason I designed it to be 60 cards in the first place. Regardless, whether you play this as a 60 or 50 card deck, it should highlight the power of many of the Core Set cards, as well as being an entertaining Dain-free alternative to the traditional Dwarf decks.

Thorin-Oakenshield (THOHaUH)OinBifur

Thorin Oakenshield (OtD)
Óin (OtD)
Bifur (KD)

Allies: 29
Erebor Record-keeper (KD) x3
Veteran Axehand (Core) x3
Erebor Hammersmith (Core) x3
Ered Nimrais Prospector (TMV) x3
Miner of the Iron Hills (Core) x3
Zigil Miner (KD) x2
Fili (TH:OHaUH) x1
Kili (TH:OHaUH) x1
Glóin (TH:OtD) x1
Bofur (TH:OHaUH) x1
Dwalin (TH:OtD) x1
Dori (TH:OHaUH) x1
Faramir (Core) x2
Gimli (ToS) x1
Gandalf (Core) x3

Attachments: 14
Legacy of Durin (TWitW) x2
Protector of Lórien (Core) x2
Narvi’s Belt (KD) x2
King Under the Mountain (TH:OtD) x3
Steward of Gondor (Core) x3
Unexpected Courage (Core) x2

Events: 17
We Are Not Idle (SaF) x3
Daeron’s Runes (FoS) x3
Sneak Attack (Core) x3
Feint (Core) x2
A Test of Will (Core) x2
Hasty Stroke (Core) x2
Lure of Moria (RtR) x2

Sideboard: 15
Blue Mountain Trader (TDT) x2
Cram (TH:OHaUH) x2
Legacy of During (TWitW) x1
Hardy Leadership (TWitW) x2
A Burning Brand (TWitW) x2
A Very Good Tale (TH:OHaUH) x3
A Test of Will (Core) x1
Waters of Nimrodel (TAC) x2

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3 Responses to Poll Results: Favorite Core Set Staple

  1. RAVE says:

    hello, Beorn! Thanks for the article!
    But why Bifur?
    Why not Ori or even Bombur?

    • Beorn says:

      Thanks, RAVE. Bifur’s resource smoothing is a big help in a deck with three spheres. Ori can still help with questing but is not a good choice for defense (or A Burning Brand). Bombur is an excellent defender, but cannot help with questing. I wanted the versatility that Bifur brings to this deck, but feel free to try one of these other heroes that better fits your preference.

      • RAVE says:

        ok, I understood, thanks for quick reply.
        I also play with 3 or even 4 spheres and I use Errand-Rider for resource allocation. His ability is much better than Bifur’s.

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