For those that enjoy deck-building, a bigger card pool is always better. Each additional release opens up more archetypes for those who want to branch out and try something different. Greater depth for making refinements to an existing deck to handle new challenges. The metagame is constantly shifting, so having options allows players to adapt and kept decks relevant.
For those of us who prefer to play with physical cards, there is one practical downside to a growing card pool, however. It becomes challenging to find space to store everything. For the last couple of years I have been using the same storage strategy, and it has worked well until recently. I have four colored binders (red, purple, blue and green), one for each sphere, and a fifth (black) for neutral cards and heroes. Scenarios are organized by set or cycle and kept in card boxes.
As the card pool has grown, the four sphere binders have been filled to the bursting point, so I’ve had to look into alternate strategies for storing player cards. My first attempt at a fix was to move all player cards from saga expansions into a sixth binder, but this did not work out well. Ultimately unless you strictly collect the game but do not play, whatever storage strategy you use should facilitate deck building. When the card pool was smaller, I could memorize which cards came from which expansions, but the game has been around long enough that it is now difficult to hold the entire card pool in one’s head.
If I’m building an Ent deck, I don’t want to have to remember which Ent cards are from APs and which were released in saga expansions. This is where the sphere-based binders are so convenient. Ideally, I can grab the Red (Tactics) and Green (Lore) binders, along with the Black (Neutral/Heroes) binder and be ready to make an Ent deck. After choosing my heroes and what few neutral cards I need from the Black binder, I am down to using only two binders to complete the deck.
This is, by the way, why I don’t just put all of the player cards into a single huge binder. Most decks use two spheres (with possibly a third splashed in), so it doesn’t make sense to have look through every single player card while building a deck. Just because a bear can carry everything in his paws, doesn’t mean that he should. The one binder to rule them all would also be much less convenient to transport in the event that I want to deck build outside of the Hall.
This leads to my current conundrum, and the solution that I ultimately found. I wanted to continue to use the colored binders for each sphere, but with two more Saga expansions and an entire new cycle on the way, there was no way that this would work. For good or ill, some cards seldom if ever make it into any of my decks, so it made little sense for them to take up space in the binder. Ultimately, I made a list of cards that I never use, and these got moved into the sixth “extras” binder, to collect dust in the corner. Moving these little-used cards frees up space for all of the new cards that will be flooding in this year.
As with anything subjective, others will disagree with some of these choices. That’s the fun of deck-building. We all do it a bit differently. Ian has a great card spotlight feature over at Tales from the Cards about this very issue. What one player deems a coaster, another might use to build an entire strategy. Those who remain skeptical have only to see what enterprising deck-builders are doing with long forgotten cards – for example Seastan’s Love of Tales deck.
One final caveat, before I share my “coaster” list. Just because I don’t use a card in my decks does not mean that the card is bad. For that matter, it doesn’t even mean that I don’t see the value in the card. It just means that, for whatever reason, it doesn’t fit my personal deck-building style. With that disclaimer out of the way, here are 10 cards from each sphere which are now relegated to the “collecting dust” binder. Feel free to leave a comment with your own coaster list, or if you think that I am missing something with any of these cards.
Brok Ironfist (Core Set): Too expensive, with a near-useless ability
Keen-eyed Took (The Hills of Emyn Muil): Terrible stats with a very situational ability
Sword of Morthond (Assault on Osgiliath): Only useful in a dedicated Outlands deck
Common Cause (Core Set): Not actually action advantage – Leadership has better options
Rear Guard (The Hills of Emyn Muil): Much to expensive for such a minimal effect
Ever Onward (Khazad-dûm): Doom Hangs Still makes this card obsolete
Taking Initiative (The Redhorn Gate): Powerful, but much too situational to be reliable
Grave Cairn (The Watcher in the Water): Situational, with a real potential to be useless
Men of the West (Assault on Osgiliath): I’m not interested in a dedicated Outlands deck
Follow Me! (The Nîn-in-Eilph): Potential use in multi-player, but too situational
Veteran of Nanduhirion (Khazad-dûm): Cheaper alternatives – Battle Master or Sentry.
Watcher of the Bruinen (The Watcher in the Water): Too weak for a dedicated defender
Dwarven Axe (Core Set): Expensive and weapons are often overkill for Dwarves
Born Aloft (Conflict at the Carrock): Only useful in combos that do not interest me
Blade Mastery (Core Set): So many better tactics events
Stand Together (Core Set): Using multiple characters to defend is not action-advantage
To the Eyrie (A Journey to Rhosgobel): Much too expensive for the effect
Meneldor’s Flight (The Hills of Emyn Muil): Like Born Aloft, limited to specific combos
Heavy Stroke (Foundations of Stone): Tactics is resource-poor, I prefer Khazad! Khazad!
Trained for War (The Drúadan Forest): Mono-Tactics lacks the readying for questing
Damrod (Heirs of Númenor): I will always prefer Northern Tracker for this cost.
The Favor of the Lady (Core Set): Spirit has so many better ways to get willpower
Power in the Earth (Core Set): Too weak of an effect to warrant deck space
Ever My Heart Rises (The Long Dark): A sideboard card at best, too conditional
The Fall of Gil-galad (The Dunland Trap): Only useful in combos that do not interest me
Warden of Arnor (The Three Trials): Another sideboard card, too weak for most scenarios
Star Brooch (The Lost Realm): Far too conditional of an ability for limited impact
Strength of Will (Core Set): Too situational for a limited effect, action-disadvantage
A Light in the Dark (Core Set): Expensive, with more effective alternatives
Against the Shadow (The Drúadan Forest): I have yet to find a use for this card
Bombur (Road to Rivendell): Expensive, terrible stats, situational ability, otherwise great?
Isengard Messenger (The Voice of Isengard): No trait synergy, situational ability
Dark Knowledge (Core Set): Superior alternatives for shadow control
Healing Herbs (Foundations of Stone): Better alternatives without action-disadvantage
Gandalf’s Search (Core Set): Expensive, Lore has so many superior alternatives
Beorn’s Hospitality (Core Set): Expensive, Waters of the Nimrodel makes this card useless
Infighting (A Journey to Rhosgobel): Too situational/fiddly for my taste
Ancestral Knowledge (Khazad-dûm): Action-disadvantage with situational value
Advance Warning (The Drúadan Forest): Noiseless Movement is superior for my style
Message from Elrond (The Three Trials): Interesting, difficult with ad hoc multi-player