Deck: Refuge at Henneth Annûn

The Terrace at Henneth Annûn, by Ted Nasmith

The Terrace at Henneth Annûn, by Ted Nasmith

The work put before Faramir and his rangers of Ithilien was nigh impossible. Tasked with holding off the onslaught of the Dark Lord’s forces from Mordor into Osgiliath, they were sorely undermanned. The still proud people of Gondor lay directly in Sauron’s path to dominion over Middle-earth, with Faramir and his men in Ithilien were the vanguard of those in Gondor attempting to hold the line. Noble though they were, there attempts were doomed in much that same way that a child cannot hold back the incoming tide of the sea.

Into this tumultuous situation was thrust two travel-worn Hobbits Frodo Baggins and Sam Gamgee, along with their erstwhile guide Sméagol. That the One Ring – a weapon of unimaginable power – should stumble into his midst just as he was attempting to hold back his enemy must have been a might temptation to Faramir.

However, unlike his brother, Faramir shows great strength of will to resist the lure of the Ring. Indeed, Faramir stands alone with Aragorn as the only men to be in a position to easily take the Ring of Power who were able to master their restraint and leave it in Frodo’s hands. This moment represents an critical turning point in the narrative, as once the Ring leaves Faramir’s company, it enters Mordor and is beyond the reach of any further influence from the Free Peoples of Middle-earth.

mapofithilienRecently, I have been finding great enjoyment in trying to build decks which hew as closely as possible to a particular point in the narrative. Some players eschew so-called “theme” decks, as they tend to not be as powerful as decks which are built without concern for a cohesive narrative. While it is true that the most powerful decks are build using all cards regardless of faction or flavor, the card pool has grown to a point where it is now possible to make effective decks that still remain true to a given narrative.

This deck is an attempt to capture the brief respite offered to Frodo and Sam, while they stayed with Faramir and the Ithilien rangers at the hidden refuge of Henneth Annûn. With the necessary exception of Gandalf, all of the characters have been chosen because they were present at this point of the story. Ally Faramir has been chosen instead of his new hero version simply to keep the starting threat to a reasonable level.

That decision ends up being fairly important for this deck, as many of the effects are designed around controlling enemy engagement and benefiting from powerful effects like Sam Gamgee’s response, passive effects like Hobbit Cloak, as well as the intriguing new card In the Shadows. One area where the deck can struggle is with combat, for the few enemies that manage to sneak through our well-hidden defenses. As always, Gandalf provides a great emergency contingency. Additionally, Anborn is well-equipped to slay enemies when he is not resetting our various traps.

Henneth-annun Waterfall

Between these engagement effects and the reduced cost for traps provided by hero Damrod, the deck has a multitude of solutions for dealing with enemies and should prove a lot of fun to play. As players well know, combat is not the only facet of the game, which is where ally Faramir comes into the story. His quest boosting ability, supplemented by Faramir’s own Visionary Leadership, and aided by the indomitable spirit of Middle-earth’s most valiant gardener, Sam Gamgee, provides this deck with plenty of solutions for questing.

Sword-thain-TDRFor those who worry about Faramir’s seemingly diminished role in this deck, have no fear. The recently previewed Sword-thain attachment from The Dread Realm comes to the rescue, allowing us to elevate Faramir to his rightful place among the heroes of this deck. Alternatively, if Lore resources are of greater importance, Anborn can be an excellent target for this card as well.

Because this attachment changes the targeted character’s type from Ally to Hero, one particularly amusing combo is to play Sneak Attack during the planning phase, to get the unique ally into play. Once you play Sword-thain on that character they are no longer of the ally type, so Sneak Attack does not return them to your hand at the end of the phase. Not a bad deal for 5 resources, especially because it allows the newly-created hero to take advantage of cards like Gondorian Shield, Wingfoot and Dagger of Westernesse.

Though they faced insurmountable odds, the rangers fought bravely to protect their homeland. The Hobbits personally witness Faramir, Damrod, Anborn and their company ambush a contingent of Southrons on the outskirts of Ithilien. Players who want a more dominant deck are welcome to make changes to improve the potency and consistency of what is included here. It remains a fun example of the constantly improving prospects for thematically-designed decks in this fine game. Enjoy, and be ever on the lookout for danger!

Mablung-smallSam GamgeeDamrod

Mablung (NiE)
Sam Gamgee (TBR)
Damrod (TLoS)

Allies: 20
Errand-rider (HoN) x3
Defender of Rammas (HoN) x1
Ithilien Tracker (HoN) x1
Warden of Healing (TLD) x2
Veteran of Osgiliath (EfMG) x1
Henneth Annûn Guard (CS) x1
Ithilien Archer (EaAD) x1
Ithilien Lookout (TDT) x1
Anborn (TBoG) x3
Faramir (Core) x3
Gandalf (Core) x3

Attachments: 20
Gondorian Fire (AoO) x1
Hobbit Cloak (TBR) x1
Staff of Lebethron (TLoS) x1
Dagger of Westernesse (TBR) x1
Gondorian Shield (TSF) x2
Secret Vigil (TLR) x1
Wingfoot (NiE) x1
Steward of Gondor (Core) x2
Visionary Leadership (TMV) x2
Ambush (TLoS) x2
Ranger Spikes (HoN) x2
Forest Snare (Core) x2
Sword-thain (TDR) x2

Events: 9
Daeron’s Runes (FoS) x3
Sneak Attack (Core) x2
For Gondor! (Core) x1
In the Shadows (TLoS) x1
Take No Notice (TBR) x2

Side Quests: 1
Gather Information (TLR) x1

Sideboard: 15
Warden of Healing (TLD) x1
Gondorian Fire (AoO) x2
Dagger of Westernesse (TBR) x1
Secret Vigil (TLR) x1
Ranger Bow (AoO) x2
Wingfoot (NiE) x1
Steward of Gondor (Core) x1
Distant Stars (EfMG) x2
Feint (Core) x2
Noiseless Movement (TTT) x2

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9 Responses to Deck: Refuge at Henneth Annûn

  1. diedertk says:

    Nice deck, looking forward to trying it out.
    A lot of awesome cards are on the horizon, the game is in a great lift of new player cards again. 🙂

    • Beorn says:

      Thanks! I agree, the most recent releases have drastically improved the fortunes of various archetypes. Gamling definitely makes the Rohan “leaves play” strategy much more viable – my hope is that Damrod, Ambush and In the Shadows do the same for Ranger/Trap decks.

  2. shipwreck says:

    Got to play this and it’s super cool.

  3. wehehe says:

    Precisely I’m looking for a way to play a deck based on traps. My approach was using lore Faramir, Pippin and Merry, with an starting threat of 23 and Pippin ability to keep more enemies in the staging area and use Great Yew Bow, Hands upon the bow and Goblin cleaver to kill enemies without having to defend them.

    It worked quite well (I was able to beat Massing at Osgiliath), but normally it suffers because it has low WP. To shine it must be played with a strong quester deck, also with low Threat.

    I really like your approach, because it solves my main trouble (low Willpower), and it is also a very thematic deck ! Does it work in solo play?

    • Beorn says:

      This deck fairs okay in solo play. One thing that it can suffer from is a lack of attack. Ally Anborn helps a lot, but this deck is much better if another player happens to be using Leadership Boromir. Without that attack boost, and the willpower boost from Visionary Leadership (and Ally Faramir), Lore Gondor just cannot compete with the strength of the Ents in the same sphere. I like your idea of Lore Faramir, Tactics Merry and Lore Pippin. I definitely feel that Lore Faramir needs Great Yew Bow to take full advantage of his ability.

      • wehehe says:

        It really does. Without it it seems like you are wasting it, and those little hobbits look like they are the ideal partners of Faramir. Until land of Shadow is released, I think we still don’t have enough cards to make an efficient traps deck. (At least a solo playing one).

  4. Trooper66 says:

    I’m in need of a clarification on Sword-thain. We could not attach to Core Set Gandalf because he would have to be discarded at end of round? If we attached to OHUH Gandalf, we would have to raise our threat by 2 every round to keep him in play. Its really hard to work with the hero version of Gandalf with the high threat cost of 14. It would be awesome to use sneak attack, OHUH Gandalf, and sword-thain, then not have him exhaust for questing.

    • Beorn says:

      Sword-thain cannot be attached to either version of ally Gandalf because the ally must belong to a sphere. Since neutral allies have no sphere they cannot be targeted by Sword-thain.

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