Deck: Solo First Turn Win

Bear’s Note: This article was written by a member of the community named Rouxxor, I merely helped a bit with the translation. Rouxxor can be found on the FFG Community Forums. You can read the article in the original French, si vous parlez français. If you want to see the deck in action, you can watch the video on YouTube (also in French). Finally, the deck list can be found on RingsDB.

Bear-Running

This article is long, but the I do my best to explain the combo in detail and the essential pieces are outlined at the beginning. You don’t need to read all the way to the end to get an idea of what this deck is about or how the combo works.

I. Introduction – Combo Decks

This deck is an absolute 100% combo deck. The goal it to win before the first quest phase, so the encounter deck never has a chance to do anything. It is really surprising and it is the only deck I know of which can do this now. That is not to say that this is the best deck in the Lord of The Rings LCG. Like most combo decks, some quest mechanics can completely shut it down – making it useless. Fortunately, these quests represent only 5% or 10% of the game (Escape from Dul Guldur, The Nîn-in-Eilph, The Drúadan Forest Nightmare). Regardless of the quest, when the combo doest not work the deck can stall and you will lose very quickly (the Doomed cards have way of raising your threat to dangerous levels). Compare to traditional strong solo decks, combo decks like this one are fragile and clunky.

In the past, FFG has responded to these sorts of powerful combos by issuing errata. Will of the West, Love of Tales, Horn of Gondor and Master of Lore, all have errata to prevent broken combos. With resource acceleration like Legacy of Númenor and efficient card draw like Daeron’s Runes and Deep Knowledge, these kinds of powerful decks have become part of the balance of the game. This deck features those powerful cards, but it features an unexpected card at its heart: Second Breakfast. Without that often-overlooked card, the loop in this deck would not exist.

II. The Deck List

Hero (3)
Bifur (Khazad-dûm)
Bilbo Baggins (The Hunt for Gollum)
Denethor (Flight of the Stormcaller)

Ally (13)
3x Dwarven Sellsword (The Drowned Ruins)
3x Erebor Hammersmith (Core Set)
3x Erebor Record Keeper (Khazad-dûm)
3x Ered Nimrais Prospector (The Morgul Vale)
1x Glóin (The Hobbit: On the Doorstep)

Attachment (7)
3x Good Meal (The Redhorn Gate)
1x Legacy of Durin (The Watcher in the Water)
1x Rod of the Steward (Flight of the Stormcaller)
1x Scroll of Isildur (The Morgul Vale)
1x Tome of Atanatar (The Blood of Gondor)

Event (30)
3x Daeron’s Runes (Foundations of Stone)
3x Deep Knowledge (The Voice of Isengard)
1x Gaining Strength (The Steward’s Fear)
3x Heed the Dream (Flight of the Stormcaller)
1x Justice Shall Be Done (A Storm on Cobas Haven)
3x Legacy of Númenor (The Voice of Isengard)
3x Lórien’s Wealth (Core Set)
2x Lure of Moria (Road to Rivendell)
3x Mithrandir’s Advice (The Steward’s Fear)
1x Ravens of the Mountain (The Hobbit: On the Doorstep)
1x Second Breakfast (Conflict at the Carrock)
3x The Seeing-stone (The Voice of Isengard)
3x We Are Not Idle (Shadow and Flame)

III. The Goal

The entire deck is devoted to the combo, so there is no backup plan. Every card is chosen to help you create a loop. Once the loop is setup, we will have use a few cards to defeat the quest: Rod of The Steward, Scroll of Isildur, Tome of Atanatar, Ravens of the Mountain and Second Breakfast.

The rest of the deck consists of a few Dwarf allies and then card draw and resource acceleration for setting up the loop. In some cases we might reach 49 threat from playing all of the Doomed cards, but it doesn’t matter. When played correctly, you can beat most quests in a single planning phase using Ravens of the Mountain, so your current threat won’t matter. Now to describe the loop.

IV. Setup: Draw your entire deck

We need to draw all 50 cards of our deck. That might sound impossible, but the deck features so much card draw that this, is in fact, pretty easy.

At the start of the game we draw 6 cards. We want to have as many events as possible in hand. The best are Doomed cards and Justice Shall be Done (assuming it is possible to best the current quest in one turn – otherwise consider subbing this card out). Use your mulligan if you have no one of these cards, and consider a mulligan if you only have one of these cards. Next, we draw 2 cards, thanks to Bilbo, and we start to produce resources and use our most efficient card draw first. Once we have some Dwarf allies in hand, we attach Legacy of Durin to Bifur and play some Dwarf allies. This is followed by We Are Not Idle, to gain more resources and draw another card. We can repeat this with more Dwarves and draw more events. A second We Are Not Idle then a Lure of Moria allows us to repeat this gain. All the other Dwarf allies and card draw effects with our final copy of We Are Not Idle and our second copy of Lure of Moria. At this point our deck will be empty and we are ready to win.

When everything happens perfectly, we don’t need Heed the Dream. But if the only copy of Legacy of Durin and Justice Shall Be Done don’t show up, we must use Heed the Dream to find them (usually Justice Shall be Done is the more important of the two cards).

Good meal is here to be used with Lorien’s Wealth, but it can also be used for Mithrandir’s Advice or Heed the Dream. Ideally, we can use Good Meal up to 6 times if we can perfectly time when we play each copy of Erebor Hammersmith. Any resources that we save from Good Meal make it that more easier to continue playing Dwarves, drawing more cards and gaining more resource. We can also discard them from our hand for Daeron’s Runes if we are about to play a Hammersmith.

Daeron’s Runes should only be played when we already have a card to discard. Ravens of the Mountain, Scroll of Isildur and any extra copies of Good Meal, can all be safely discarded. Even Heed the Dream can safely be discarded, as long as we have our other forms of card draw available. In any case, we should play the other draw events first, and wait to play Daeron’s Runes when we have suitable choices for discard.

Because of the risk of discarding critical cards, we almost never trigger the response on Ered Nimrais Prospector while setting up the loop.

V. First Loop: Infinite Resources

To enable the first loop, we need to be the following situation:
– An empty deck
– Denethor with Rod of the Steward and 7 resources
– All 14 Dwarves (Bifur + 13 Dwarf allies) in play and ready
– Tome of Atanatar in hand
– Second Breakfast, We Are Not Idle and Lure of Moria in our discard pile

This combo breaks down into 14 steps:
1. Play Tome of Atanatar [Cost: 3 resources, remaining: 4, deck is empty, hand is empty]
2. Use Tome of Atanatar, discarding it, choosing Second Breakfast from the discard. The Tome of Atanatar is now back in your hand while Second Breakfast is at the bottom of your deck (which is also the top because the deck is empty) as per the effect of Tome of Atanatar. [Cost: 1 resource, remaining: 3, deck: Second Breakfast, hand: Tome of Atanatar]
3. Play Tome of Atanatar [Cost: 3 resources, remaining: 0, deck: Second Breakfast, hand is empty]
4. Use Tome of Atanatar, discarding it, choosing We Are Not Idle from the discard. Exhaust 14 Dwarves to generate 14 resources on Denethor II and draw a card (which will be Second Breakfast) [cost: 0 resources, remaining: 14, deck: We Are Not Idle, hand: Second Breakfast]
5. Play Second Breakfast that bring back Tome of Atanatar [cost: 1 resource, remaining: 13, deck: We Are Not Idle, hand: Tome of Atanatar]
6. Play Tome of Atanatar [cost: 3 resources, remaining: 10, deck: We Are Not Idle, hand is empty]
7. Use Tome of Atanatar, discarding it, choosing Second Breakfast from the discard. He bring back Tome of Atanatar, again. [Cost: 1 resource, remaining: 9]
8. Play Tome of Atanatar [cost: 3 resources, remaining: 6, deck: We Are Not Idle and Second Breakfast, hand is empty]
9. Use Tome of Atanatar, discarding it, choosing Lure of Moria [cost: 3 resources, remaining: 3, deck: We Are Not Idle and Second Breakfast and Lure of Moria, hand is empty]
10. Use Rod of the Steward to draw We Are Not Idle [cost: 2 resources, remaining: 1, deck: Second Breakfast and Lure of Moria, hand: We Are Not Idle]
11. Play We Are Not Idle and exhaust 14 Dwarves to generate 14 resources on Denethor II and draw a card (which will be Second Breakfast) [cost: 0 resources, remaining: 15, deck: Lure of Moria, hand: Second Breakfast]
12. Use Rod of the Steward to draw Lure of Moria [cost: 2 resources, remaining: 13, deck is empty, hand: Second Breakfast and Lure of Moria]
13. Play Lure of Moria [Cost: 3 resources, remaining: 10, deck is empty, hand: Second Breakfast]
14. Play Second Breakfast on Tome of Atanatar [cost: 1 resource, remaining: 9, deck is empty, hand: Tome of Atanatar]

We are back at the initial state of the loop with one critical different: 9 resources remaining instead of 7. We can repeat this process one million times on each hero so we have enough resources for the rest of our actions.

VI. Second Loop: Infinite Progress

From here on out we won’t keep track of resources as it is assumed with have an infinite number of them from the first loop.

First, we must have all attachments back in our hand:
1. Play Tome of Atanatar
2. Use Tome of Atanatar, discarding it, choosing Second Breakfast from the discard. The Tome of Atanatar is now back in your hand while Second Breakfast is at the bottom of your deck (which is also the top because the deck is empty) as per the effect of Tome of Atanatar.
3. Use Rod of the Steward to draw 1 card (which will be Second Breakfast)
4. Play Second Breakfast on the first attachment in the discard pile.
5. Repeat these steps with Second Breakfast until we have all of our attachments back, including Scroll of Isildur.

Then, we will play Ravens of the Mountain with the help of Scroll of Isildur
1. Play Tome of Atanatar
2. Use Tome of Atanatar, discarding it, choosing Second Breakfast from the discard. The Tome of Atanatar is now back in your hand while Second Breakfast is at the bottom of your deck (which is also the top because the deck is empty) as per the effect of Tome of Atanatar.
3. Play Scroll of Isildur
4. Use Scroll of Isildur, discarding it, choosing ravens of the mountain from the discard. I exhaust Bifur and put (may be) tokens on the active quest step.
5. Play Tome of Atanatar
6. Use Tome of Atanatar, discarding it, choosing Lure of Moria to ready Bifur and then it goes to the bottom of the deck.
7. Use Rod of the Steward to draw 3 times: Second breakfast, Ravens of the Mountain and Lure of Moria
8. Play Second Breakfast to bring Tome of Atanatar back to our hand
9. Play Tome of Atanatar
10. Use Tome of Atanatar, discarding it, choosing Second Breakfast from the discard. The Tome of Atanatar is now back in your hand while Second Breakfast is at the bottom of your deck (which is also the top because the deck is empty) as per the effect of Tome of Atanatar.
11. Use Rod of the Steward to draw 1 card (which will be Second Breakfast)
12. Play Second Breakfast to bring Tome of Atanatar back to our hand
13. Play Ravens of the Mountain and exhaust Bifur
14. Play Lure of the Moria and ready Bifur

We have just played Ravens of the Mountain twice and we are back at our initial state. We can repeat this loop until we have placed all of the necessary progress on each quest card. In this way, we can defeat any scenario which only requires progress to be placed on quests. As mentioned above, this does not solve quests which have other requirements, like boss enemies that must be defeated or locations which must be explored. This is where the sideboard comes into play.

VII. Sideboard: Other Win Conditions

Each scenario has its own win condition, and many quests need more than just progress to defeat. We must include cards to fulfill these other win conditions. Here are some of the cards that we can use:
– Lore of Imladris to heal (Wilyador);
– Out of the Wild to remove the whole encounter deck or select the few cards you want to stay in there;
– Risk Some Light to select the order of the cards inside the encounter deck;
– Needful to Know to reduce my threat;
– The Evening Star to explore location in the staging area;
– Gandalf to kill enemies and reduce the threat (you must include also Born aloft and Song of Battle and remove Scroll of Isildur)
– Dúnedain Pathfinder to put location in the staging area (you must include also born aloft, song of Battle and Song of travel and remove Scroll of Isildur)
– Durin’s Song to power up Bifur

Each card that we include from our sideboard will require us to remove a card that was helping to setup the combo. Here is what we should remove first:
– Gaining Strength
– One copy of Heed the Dream
– One copy of Good Meal
– Rod of the Steward (if Born aloft is included)
If we need to include more than 4 cards we must first change Bilbo for Erestor and remove each copy of Good Meal and wealth of Lorien.

For some quests it is simply impossible to win on the first turn (e.g. with cards which are immune to player card effects). In that case, we no longer want to include Justice Shall be Done and we should consider other changes:
– Add: Legacy of Durin x2
– Add: Gaining Strength x1
– Add: Needful to Know x1
– Add: Risk Some Light x1 or Out of the Wild x1
– Remove: Heed the Dream x3
– Remove: Justice Shall Be Done x1
– Remove: Ravens of the Mountain x1

in this situation, we will take our time and control the encounter deck to win the scenario over multiple round.

VIII. Alternate Loop: Born Aloft instead of Scroll of Isildur in step 3

1. Play Tome of Atanatar
2. Use Tome of Atanatar, discarding it, choosing Second Breakfast from the discard. The Tome of Atanatar is now back in your hand while Second Breakfast is at the bottom of your deck (which is also the top because the deck is empty) as per the effect of Tome of Atanatar.
3. I play Born Aloft on Erebor Hammersmith
4. Use Born Aloft, discarding it to return Erebor Hammersmith to our hand
5. Play Erebor Hammersmith, draw Second Breakfast and return Born Aloft to our hand
6. Play Born Aloft on Ered Nimrais Prospector
7. Use Born Aloft, discarding it to return Ered Nimrais Prospector to our hand
8. Play Second Breakfast and return Born Aloft to our hand
Repeat this process for return all 3 copies of Erebor Hammersmith to our hand
9. Play Tome of Atanatar
10. Use Tome of Atanatar, discarding it to put Lure of Moria on the bottom of our deck
11. Play Erebor Hammersmith (don’t use Legacy of Durin’s effect) and return Tome of Atanatar to our hand
12. Play Tome of Atanatar
13. Use Tome of Atanatar, discarding it and put Lure of Moria on the bottom our deck
14. Play Erebor Hammersmith (don’t use Legacy of Durin’s effect) and return Tome of Atanatar to our hand
15. Play Tome of Atanatar
16. Use Tome of Atanatar, discarding it to play Second Breakfast from the discard. Tome of Atanatar is now back in our hand while Second Breakfast is at the bottom of our deck
17. Play Ered Nimrais Prospector, discard the three cards of the deck and put the chosen cards as the only card in our deck
18. Play Erebor Hammersmith and return Tome of Atanatar to our hand and draw a card.

With this combo, we can draw any card we want without Scroll of Isildur but instead by using Song of Battle and Born Aloft. The card that we draw doesn’t even have to be attachment or belong to a specific sphere. This is obviously more versatile and powerful but it requires Song of Battle before we can set it up, so Scroll of Isildur is preferable unless we also need Born Aloft to go with Gandalf.

IX. Results

It took many revisions to get to this version, so only some of my tests can be used. But I recently started a campaign to test this latest iteration of the deck. Here are my results against all the Nightmare quests for the first three cycles:

– 21 wins in 21 games when I included Justice Shall be Done, so 100% wins for the moment
– 6 wins in 8 games when I was unable to win on the first turn, so a 75% for the downgraded version
– I conceded against Escape from Dol Guldur Nightmare, which seems absolutely impossible with this kind of deck

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4 Responses to Deck: Solo First Turn Win

  1. Rouxxor says:

    If you have any question I will do my best to answer 🙂

  2. jamesarthurharrison says:

    Wow! Just wow, I’m so Impressed – I actually almost skipped over this article until I saw “Justice shall be done” and I thought, Ooh any deck running this will be really interesting. I am not disappointed :-)… I’ve run a much slower infinite combo before that put the encounter deck in the victory display: but no where near as neat as this (as it did it over several turns). Well Done!

  3. Rouxxor says:

    Someone kindly made a video about this deck. It is in french but it can be really better to see it in video so I give you the link anyway:

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