It’s been even busier than usual, lately at the Hall. Some of my family was staying with us while Hurricane Harvey wrecked havoc against Houston and the Gulf coast. They were fortunate that their house (narrowly) avoided destruction in the terrible storm, but many families were not so lucky. I encourage everyone with the means to donate to the relief effort. There are many good choices, but I strongly suggest a charity with a low percentage of administrative fees. For example, Americares has less than 3% administrative fees.
Leading off a deck article with a call to charity might seem an odd choice, but I feel very strongly about using whatever voice I have to help other people. I am grateful to spend some of my free time thinking and writing about a game which I enjoy, and thus participating in a community of fine people. There are many people in and around Houston who no longer have the luxury to think about their hobbies, and won’t again for quite some time. The 40,000 people who lost their homes to Harvey – or even the estimated million people with ruined cars – are not worried about the ideal deck for defeating The Mountain of Fire. So forgive my digressions, dear readers, but the scale of this disaster must not be underestimated.
Ever since Vigilant Guard was released, I’ve been dreaming up a fun combo deck. The core of the combo is to pair Glóin and Beorn together, and find a way to attach Vigilant Guard to the dwarf and redirect damage from the bear to the dwarf. Unfortunately, when A Storm of Cobas Haven first gave players access to Vigilant Guard, the only way to give Glóin the Warrior trait was to use Valiant Warrior in a Saga deck. Now that Race Across Harad had given us access to Might Warrior, there is a much better option – one which is not limited to Campaign mode.
One of the risks of a Glóin deck is that you often end up taking multiple undefended attacks. The advantage of not needing to keep a character ready for defense is a big advantage, but some quests have shadow effects to punish this sort of strategy. In addition, the Sentinel keyword on Beorn makes him a superior defender to Glóin in multiplayer games. By using Beorn as the defender but redirecting the damage from him to Glóin, we get the best of both worlds.
A combo deck of this nature is inherently less powerful than the more traditional Glóin builds. Anyone looking for the most powerful iterations of this archetype should consider Sean’s Tower of Pain 2.0 and other, similar designs. Quite frankly, Glóin does not need Beorn. With Warden of Healing, that deck can basically handle most quests without help from any other heroes – once it gets setup. Rather than design for maximum power, my deck is more focused on setting up a fun combo while remaining (mostly) thematic to the Battle of Five Armies.
With that qualification aside, this deck is well-suited for multiplayer, especially when paired with certain other archetypes. An easily overlooked detail of Vigilant Guard is that the response can be triggered any time another character is assigned damaged. This means that you can assign damage from multiple different characters to Glóin.
Treacheries like Blocking Wargs can easily reck all of a players questing characters, particularly in decks like Silvan and Rohan, which feature many brittle allies. With the exception of cancelation like A Test of Will or Eleanor, Vigilant Guard is one of the only cards in the game which can allow you to save those questing characters. Assuming Glóin has enough hit points, he can soak up each of the damage – damage which would be fatal – to the questing characters, and you get to amass a fortune in the bargain.
This ability to redirect damage any time it is dealt – particularly during the quest phase – is the one thing that separates this silly combo deck from the more typical Glóin designs. Well-Equipped, along with a massive amount of card draw effects, help you to get two copies of Citadel Plate attached as quickly as possible. Next, we want to find a copy of Mighty Warrior as quickly as possible, to give Glóin the Warrior trait. The fact that it helps us draw another card when played keeps the silly combo engine running at full speed.
With these cards attached, we can then play Vigilant Guard, which also helps Glóin by giving him two additional hit points. In the ideal case, the Dwarf has a total of 14 hits points and multiple copies of Self Preservation attached. Without another player using Elrond and Warden of Healing, there is no way to consistently heal all of this damage in a single round, but this deck is not designed for the sheer level of carnage that a traditional Glóin deck can handle.
If that level of healing becomes necessary, I recommend pairing this deck with another questing/support deck that features repeatable healing and hero Elrond. In that case, remove your copy of ally Elrond and add Lore of Imladris from the sideboard, or even consider adding in your own copies of Warden of Healing. There are many decks which should pair well with this one – the number of Dwarf characters makes a companion deck featuring Dain Ironfoot another obvious choice. You can find the deck list on RingsDB, and I hope that you enjoy playing it as much as I enjoyed dreaming it.
Dori (Over Hill and Under Hill) x1
Erebor Hammersmith (Core) x3
Erebor Record Keeper (Khazad-dûm) x3
Gandalf (Core) x3
Honour Guard (The Wastes of Eriador) x2
Landroval (A Journey to Rhosgobel) x1
Longbeard Map-Maker (Conflict at the Carrock) x2
Citadel Plate (Core) x3
Dwarf Pipe (The Mûmakil) x1
King Under the Mountain (On the Doorstep) x1
Legacy of Durin (The Watcher in the Water) x1
Mighty Warrior (Race Across Harad) x3
Narvi’s Belt (Khazad-dûm) x2
Self Preservation (Core) x3
Vigilant Guard (A Storm on Cobas Haven) x3
A Good Harvest (The Steward’s Fear) x3
Daeron’s Runes (Foundations of Stone) x3
Heed the Dream (Flight of the Stormcaller) x3
Hidden Cache (The Morgul Vale) x3
We Are Not Idle (Shadow and Flame) x3
Well-Equipped (The Blood of Gondor) x3