Deck: Reaches of the Realm

Gondor from Horseback

Ever since I first opened the Core Set, I have always wanted to be able to make a powerful deck featuring an army of Gondorian characters. Epic battles like Pelennor Fields and the Morannon are memorable events from the books, and it would be nice to in some sense re-create them in the game. The meta-game shifts as the card pool grows, and to some extent or another it has always been possible to make a decent deck with Gondor characters. After all, the faction has the undisputed king of resource acceleration in Steward of Gondor. Other factions have waxed and waned, but I have grown frustrated at what seems inconsistent support for the Gondor faction – particularly the Gondor Army archetype.

Horn of GondorNotably absent from this deck is Horn of Gondor. After the recent errata, Boromir’s iconic Horn fits even less into this archetype than it did before. While allies like Squire of the Citadel might seem to hint at a defensive strategy based on chump-blocking, that runs completely at odds with Leadership Boromir’s strengths. Also relevant, recent scenarios have begun to heavily punish chump blocking in all but the most dire of situations.

To be fair, Sneak Attack with Gandalf was the primary means for benefitting from the Horn without having to chump block, and that is a combo that cannot be relied upon. Still, it does feel weird that neither version of Boromir has an archetype where his horn makes strategic sense. In any case, Steward of Gondor, Wealth of Gondor and the cost-reduction built into hero Damrod should provide more than enough resource acceleration for our ally engine. A three-sphere deck can often struggle with getting the right resources at the right time, but allies like Errand-rider, Envoy of Pelargir and Pelargir Ship Captain can all help with resource smoothing.

The primary goal of this deck is to get Visionary Leadership attached to the first son of Denethor, and take advantage of numerical superiority with an army of Gondor allies. If we keep losing allies to attrition we will never achieve sufficient numbers to warrant this strategy. The presence of Beregond – along with Gondorian Shield and Honour Guard – highlights the fact that this deck is not looking to needlessly sacrifice allies. Rather, each hero has a specific facet of the game on which to focus, and the heroes exist to support what should be a steadily grow force of allies.

Beregond-smallBesides the smoothing, three copies of Gandalf and a fair bit of card draw, it is a safe bet that any excess resources should not go to waste. Beregond will often have resources to share as the deck includes only a few Tactics cards (and the Shield is free). Still, the captain of the guard is of vital importance to our strategy of keeping allies in play – as well as being a reliable defender against ever-present boss enemies. Tactics characters have many virtues, but willpower is not typically among them, so most of the ally mix in this deck is from Leadership and Lore. Once we have Visionary Leadership (or at least Faramir) in play, the deck should be solid at questing.

deep-knowledgeLike most decks that rely on allies, this deck can suffer from slow starts. Assuming a decent opening hand, and with the aid of card draw in multiple forms (don’t hesitate to use Gandalf for the extra cards in the early game, and threat reduction later on), it should be possible to survive the early rounds. With a starting threat of 30, there is no time to waste, however. A Doomed card like Deep Knowledge might seem like an odd fit with such a deck, but the reality is that – in the early game at least – threat is less important than establishing our critical attachments.

Resources are the engine that drives Gondor, so our goals begin with having Steward of Gondor attached to Boromir. From there, we have a host of excellent supporting allies – many with powerful abilities – which should help us to survive the onslaught of the encounter deck. As with most strategies in the current meta-game, the first few rounds are pivotal. With a horde of allies joining Damrod in questing, Beregond defending, and Boromir and the remaining allies pitching in on the counter attack, the deck has at least a solid plan for success.

Veteran-of-OsgiliathOverall it is nice to see the Gondor Army archetype evolve – albeit slowly. Cards like Veteran of Osgiliath are a welcome addition as they can prove to be far more substantial than old standbys like the Guard of the Citadel and its ilk. A massive army is a powerful thing, once you have it mustered. Still, it is helpful to have a few larger allies that can shoulder a bit more work in the critical early rounds. With the bonus from Boromir, characters like the Veteran and Knight of Minas Tirith can be quite formidable in their own right. The fact that the Veteran becomes even more powerful in the late game is a welcome benefit.

This deck is by no means perfect, and I do find myself continuing to make small tweaks around the edges. On the one hand I hope that the upcoming cycle brings a bit more support for Gondor Army decks, but I can’t shake the feeling that the archetype remains just one or two key pieces away from being more consistently viable. While this deck should fair well in multi-player surrounded by other top tier decks, or easy mode, or against the less difficult recent scenarios, I remain optimistic that Gondor will eventually have its day in the sun.

Boromir (HoN)visionary-leadership-smallDamrod

Boromir (Heirs of Númenor)
Beregond (Heirs of Númenor)
Damrod (The Land of Shadow)

Allies: 25
Errand-rider x3 (Heirs of Númenor)
Pelargir Ship Captain x1 (The Morgul Vale)
Defender of Rammas x1 (Heirs of Númenor)
Honour Guard x2 (The Wastes of Eriador)
Ithilien Tracker x1 (Heirs of Númenor)
Mablung x1 (The Land of Shadow)
Warden of Healing x3 (The Long Dark)
Envoy of Pelargir x3 (Heirs of Númenor)
Ingold x1 (The Wastes of Eriador)
Veteran of Osgiliath x2 (Escape from Mount Gram)
Knight of Minas Tirith x1 (Assault on Osgiliath)
Faramir x2 (Core Set)
Anborn x1 (The Blood of Gondor)
Gandalf x3 (Core Set)

Attachments: 15
Heir of Mardil x1 (Celebrimbor’s Secret)
Gondorian Shield x3 (The Steward’s Fear)
Wingfoot x1 (The Nîn-in-Eilph)
Steward of Gondor x2 (Core Set)
Visionary Leadership x3 (The Morgul Vale)
Ranger Spikes x3 (Heirs of Númenor)
Forest Snare x2 (Core Set)

Events: 10
Wealth of Gondor x3 (Heirs of Númenor)
Daeron’s Runes x3 (Foundations of Stone)
Deep Knowledge x2 (The Voice of Isengard)
Sneak Attack x2 (Core Set)

Sideboard: 15
Sword of Númenor x2 (The Dread Realm)
Ambush x3 (The Land of Shadow)
Sword-thain x2 (The Dread Realm)
Mutual Accord x2 (Heirs of Númenor)
Behind Strong Walls x2 (Heirs of Númenor)
For Gondor! x2 (Core Set)
Send for Aid x1 (The Treachery of Rhudaur)
Gather Information x1 (The Lost Realm)

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10 Responses to Deck: Reaches of the Realm

  1. silverthorn says:

    This is a interesting deck. I’ve been working on a solo Gondor deck with generally poor results so this could be some help.

  2. ChasmosaurusChris says:

    I can sympathise with your frustration as to the comparative lack of support for the Gondor trait. If there’s one faction that deserves to be robust it must surely be Gondor. I think it’s almost there though, it’s perhaps not so obvious as some other factions though. Angmar awakened cycle gave us some really nice Gondor allies.
    This deck looks like fun. One thing I’ve noticed is that Lore has some really nice Gondor allies. I’ve often thought about pairing lore with leadership rather than tactics. Of course here we get a little bit of everything which is cool.
    Recently I had a lot of fun with a mono leadership Gondor deck. Here I was running Boromir, Halbarad, and Amarthiul. This allowed me to use the powerful events reinforcements and strength of arms while also gaining access to the tactics sphere so I could include defender of rammas and honour guard. My plan was to amass an army as quickly as possible. Key cards to this strategy were the aforementioned reinforcements, a very good tale, and herald of Anorien. I paired this deck with a lore and spirit build which contained more Gondor allies to make the most of Boromir/visionary leadership. The support deck also ran forest snare.
    I think this year will see the Gondor army deck build come together in a big way. Isn’t the flight of the stormcaller meant to support the faction? I also think I read somewhere that it’ll contain a new leadership Gondor hero. I would also imagine that the Flame of the west saga will be themed largely around the faction.

  3. Morgan Muhlestein says:

    I like how the Grey Havens cards in the database are pulled right off the FFG forums. Makes you realize how close the LotR LCG is, you know?

  4. Kai says:

    Honestly, I’ve been running a Gondor deck on and off for quite a while and I’ve found it to be perfectly effective. Sure, it’s not a top-tier deck, but it’s as good as pretty much any non-Dwarf trait-based deck I’ve ever run.

    Either way, I’m excited to see what Gondor gets in the way of support in Dream-Chaser and Flame of the West. I still need to get my hands on Land of Shadow, but when I do, I’ll definitely be trying out a deck very similar to what you’ve done here!

    • Beorn says:

      To be clear, I’m not saying that Gondor Army has not been effective – it has. I think we can agree that it is not a top tier deck, which given the importance of Gondor in the books is unfortunate. In any case, I enjoy building and playing Gondor decks regardless of their relative power compared to other factions. I continue to hope that it one day enters the top tier of decks.

      • Kai says:

        I figured as much. I just felt that I had to speak up in defense of the deck! 😛 And if nothing else, you have a very very good point that Gondor Army is only one deck type of many possible that Gondor probably ought to have. The others have some major issues, unfortunately.

        Thanks again for all you do for the community!

  5. Morgan Muhlestein says:

    Any chance you could update the card database with the option to filter out boon and treasure cards? Seeing them during card searches is distracting when making a non-saga deck.

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