Alternate Art by Potawo

With the overwhelmingly positive feedback I’ve received on my alternate art cards, it’s exciting to see that I’m not the only one who enjoys different artistic interpretations. Which makes it all the more pleasant to discover that a reader has been hard at work lately on their own art interpretations of some of the game’s most iconic cards. Potawo (aka Fabrice) has used Photoshop to create some truly stunning alternate art cards and I wanted to take an opportunity today to share them. I find that new piece of art can bring an old card to life in ways which continue to surprise me.

One aspect of his style which is particularly dynamic is the way Potawo has used overlap to create a three dimensional look to many of his designs. The art really “pops” out from the background and more action-based pieces take on an epic feel. One final detail that I wanted to point out is the way he has opted to omit chrome (the decorative edge designs and other non-essential design elements) from some of the cards to give them a cleaner look – which further emphasizes the art. You can view the full gallery of Potawo’s alternate art cards and I have included some of my favorite pieces below:

To accommodate space and page load time, I’ve included smaller images here. For any who enjoy these beautiful pieces, I strongly encourage you to go check out the originals. He’s included bleed margins, so they are ready for printing. I encourage everyone to go an experience something beautiful which brings joy to your life.

Posted in Alternate-Art, Art, Community, Fun | Tagged , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Game: Heavy Metal Thunder Mouse

My friend and fellow member of the Grey Company, Derek Kamal has just announced the Kickstarter for his new game: Heavy Metal Thunder Mouse. Anyone who enjoys roleplaying games, mice, motorcycles, or mice on motorcycles should give his wonderful game a look!

Heavy Metal Thunder Mouse (HMTM) is a tabletop roleplaying game where you and your friends make your mice, found your club, and hit the streets. These are mice with the gusto to build their own motorcycles and set off into an intimidating world where they are outsized, but never outclassed.

HMTM uses the rules of Fate to tell stories about the drama of city mice and their motorcycle clubs. It’s an RPG that works best with 2-5 players (plus the GM). It’s fit for episodic play (sessions last about 3-4 hours) and epic campaigns!

Your stories are set in Thunder City, USA, a fictitious city of the real world. For small creatures existing in a place which doesn’t belong to them, these stories will be filled with the drama of their lives, and the trouble, both inside and outside, of a biker gang. Will your gang be Robin Hood-like doers of good, springing cheese from unwatched refrigerators and delivering it to needy widows, or will you be thugs and thieves exploiting the weak? Your mouse, your bike, and your gang all belong to you and the stories you tell at your table.

Posted in Books, Community, Fun, Roleplaying Games, The Grey Company | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Deck: The Storm Comes

Thurindir is the first to notice that something is amiss. Another storm is gathering in the East. As if things were not bad enough already! Our ragtag group has weathered one fearsome storm and we barely escaping unscathed. It seems a cruel fate, to be barraged with a second such onslaught with scant days to catch our breath. The Dúnadan and I were sent by the Grey Company to seek allies in the fight against the Dark Lord in the wild lands of the South. Many in Gondor still think this desperate errand a folly, but eyes in the White Tower have oft look inward, especially of late. Wisdom and hope bleed out of the line of Men on the battlefields of the Rammas and Osgiliath, Ithilien and the Outlands. A sense of hopelessness pervades the world of men, and the aim of our quest is as much to bring hope as to affect strategic advantage.

Fortunately, not all have turned a blind eye to potential allies – anything to turn the tide in this war against tyranny and oppression. Elrond, ever one to see a future shrouded in uncertainty, has sent Arwen and the mighty Glorfindel of his house. We are happy to be joined by the Eldar, who bring a wisdom and stalwart courage that is welcome in these dire times. Together our band of Elves and Men has met with and befriended Kahliel, the proud leader of a Haradrim tribe. Marching North, our goal is to join the Free People of Middle-earth, even now locked in an existential struggle with evil.

The Noldor are no strangers to the plight of refugees, and Arwen and Glorfindel can only nod wistfully to see the Haradrim diaspora. It’s a slow trickle at first: a clutch of refugees wanders into camp just as my watch ends. Drenched with water and carrying their entire lives in colorful sacks on their backs, the newcomers refuse to make eye contact. As the storm intensifies, so too the stream of the dispossessed.

A band of Kahliel’s tribesmen, out to reconnoiter the surrounding foothills for a safe path North, return early in the morning. Bloodied, their clothing in tatters, they apparently fell victim to ambush by hungry wargs. The inclement weather has manifested a ferocity in the wolves of the South unknown to us from Eriador. The faces of the scouts barely belie their losses. Kahliel names the fallen, sotto voce, a solemn elegy for those brave souls.

The gravity of the scouts sacrifice is not lost on any of us, those who would risk and ultimately spend their lives to keep others safe must never be forgotten. At the noon meal, Arwen sings a haunting lay in the Sindar tongue and the light of her people is upon her. Though I speak little of that blessed language, I understand its meaning plainly enough. The sun breaks through a gap in gray clouds for one hopeful moment. As we sit and eat, clumped in groups for protection and warmth among the foothills, all look to the sun as to our hope and our hearts are lifted. The moment for peace and thought is fleeting. Arwen’s song ends as the sun hides anew. Camp is broken in haste and all in the company can sense the coming of the storm. The air is filled with an anxious intensity, a buzz which sets the nerves on edge.

In defiance of the earth and wind itself, Kahliel dons his headdress and calls to his people. Some in the North may think him a savage, and no doubt dismiss our quest of alliance as a fool’s errand. Their arrogance is the true foolishness, and seeing Kahliel rally his tribesman I can’t help but recall stories of the Númenórean kings of old. Their captain’s wisdom is plain, though some would be blinded of this by ignorance and suspicion. Though the afternoon march is grueling, we have formed a bond through hardship and the fight for survival. This shared experience provides us reserves of willpower, redoubling our efforts to outpace the storm. At sundown, the storm comes.

Gales gust like the wingbeats of a dragon, pulling our cloaks away from our faces and dragging the unwary off their feet. Rain pelts at an aggressive diagonal, seemingly coming from everywhere. It starts as a distinct ping, ping, ping sound on our armor but quickly intensifies. Soon, it is falling like the hoofbeats of the Rohirrim – a chaotic cacophony of noise without coherence. The storm assaults our senses and staggers even the most determined of steps. All forward progress is ground to a halt by volley upon volley from a numberless and unseen foe. We are helpless before the onslaught.

Still our group soldiers on, reduced to crawling on hands and knees in search of shelter and safety from the untamed and untamable beast of nature’s wrath. The bravery that I see this night will remain etched in my memory forever. Jubayr selflessly steps in front of a clutch of refugees, deflecting a tree branch which has torn lose and would have decapitated lesser men. Firyal, despite the worsening conditions, continues to serve in the vanguard and is the first to sight the forest fire running amok just over the ridge-line. His quick wits save us all from certain disaster as he hastily discovers an alternate route. When the wargs come again, heedless in their half-starved desperation, it is Yazan who saves us. His first shot pierces the eye of the leader and gives the others pause. His second shot follows immediately, pinning another warg to the ground by its throat and scattering the remnants of the pack.

If only those arrogant “nobles” in their White Tower could see us struggle, could appreciate what it means to rally around a common cause. Ours is not a battle of petty nationalism. Ours is not an obsession over the differences in language, culture, or the color of our skin. We join each other in the oldest and most basic struggle of all – the struggle of life against death. We fight and die for each other, and many acts of selfless sacrifice will sadly go uncounted and unnoticed.

In the end, the storm takes its toll. Some have drowned in the deluge, others burned in the freak fires caused by lightening strikes. More are lost in the wilderness, scattered while confusion overcame us. In the coming days, we slowly accept that they will never be seen again. All wear our wounds without shame.

Kahliel weeps openly at the sight of the devastation. Far from disdain, we only respect him more for his honesty and the knowledge that he has sacrificed alongside each of us. For many the trauma of this night will take years to overcome, but those who have survived are forged with a certainty that this alliance is vital. Having passed through the ravages of the storm, we do not fear the armies of the enemy. Any force of the dark lord that would oppose us should be wary; we of this brave band have defeated fiercer foes.

I did not think that I would be writing about storms again so soon after Harvey. Sadly, it appears that the storm season is only intensifying. One record-breaking storm followed by another. For any who are free to give, I encourage you to do so. You can find the deck for this story at RingsDB. Stay safe, everyone!

Posted in Community, Deck Lists, Stories, Theme | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Deck: The Sixth Bear Army

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.

Beorn (Over Hill and Under Hill)
Bifur (Khazad-dûm)
Glóin (Core)

Allies (15):
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

Attachments (17):
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

Events (18):
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

Posted in Combo, Deck Building, Deck Lists, Discussion, Fun, RingsDB, Strategy, The Hobbit, Theme | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Fastred Outwits the Black Serpent

Fastred Outwits the Black Serpent

At last week’s Austin LotR group I had a chance to test out a multiplayer version of a Fastred deck. The deck was based on this design by Seastan, and I wanted to see if it was possible to adapt it for three and four player games. Unfortunately, Fastred’s ability does not lend itself to multiplayer. While I was able to consistently use ally Arwen to give Fastred sentinel, there are more problems with returning enemies to the staging area.

Until Dúnhere is loaded up with weapons, he is unable to defeat most enemies in the game, so while Fastred’s threat reduction benefits me, it does so at the cost of the board state and can put other players in danger of being overrun by a horde of enemies. I suspected that Fastred was mostly intended as a solo hero and today afforded me the opportunity to test this out.

First, I subbed the solo-specific cards like Steward of Orthanc back into the deck (Doomed is frowned upon in most 4 player games). At that point I was ready to test the deck solo against The Black Serpent. While I expected Fastred to be more effective in solo, I was pleasantly surprised at just how powerful the deck can be. The game went even more smoothly than it did recently with my Aggro Caldara deck.

We can add this anecdote to the mountain of evidence that solo is a fundamentally different game from multiplayer. With a low starting threat and the slower pace afforded by solo, you are given precious rounds to draw and play the attachments which are so essential for each of your heroes to maximize their abilities. Even though I never saw a single copy of Gondorian Shield for Fastred, I was able to make do with Captain of Gondor, Arwen’s defense boost and some timely help from Honour Guards.

The fact that Fastred’s ability is a response lead to some interesting interactions with enemies in this particular quest. A treachery named Nowhere to Hide can be particularly troublesome to low threat decks that want to turtle and avoid engagement and methodically build an army. By forcing a random enemy to engage during the quest phase, regardless of that enemy’s engagement cost, this treachery can lead to some very dangerous situations.

This is particularly true when you consider that many of the enemies in this quest have forced effects which trigger when they engage a player. Take Southron Soldier, for instance. Unless you remove 2 progress from main quest when he engages, he will make an immediate attack – not something that most decks want to see during the quest phase. Even if you are able to survive the surprise attack from the Soldier, he will stay engaged with you to attack you again during the combat phase.

This is where Fastred really showed his quality. Because Nowhere to Hide was revealed on a turn when I had just advanced to stage 2, I did not have any progress to remove to avoid the forced attack from Southron Soldier. Instead, I had Fastred defend the attack and then triggered his response. Thanks to Arwen’s (thematically ambiguous) winsome whiles, Fastred was able to avoid any damage from the attack, then I returned the Soldier to the staging area and lowered my threat by 2.

Instead of facing multiple attacks from an enemy I would not have engaged (my threat was in the mid twenties at the time), Fastred tricked the hapless soldier to wander the desert. Later that round, Dúnhere lifted the veil of confusion from the soldier’s eyes, when he ran it through with a spear and a dagger at the same time. Being able to utilize a card which rarely sees play is a nice bonus of this new archetype. Because of the repeatable threat reduction offered by Fastred, your threat in solo can stay low enough to make cards like Unseen Strike much more consistent. Being able to “spend” some of that low threat to draw extra cards via the Steward of Orthanc is a nice bonus.

Without strong coordination between multiple decks, I can’t advocate Fasted in a multiplayer environment. If multiple players have decks designed around staging area control, he may be viable – but it will take a strong opening hand and support from other players. On the other hand, Fastred delivers his promise in solo play. Repeatable threat reduction and the synergy with Dúnhere and weapons like Spear of the Mark means that Rohan finally has another viable archetype. Let’s hope that the newly spoiled Éomer hero gives a corresponding boost to the ally-discard strategy.

Posted in Deck Lists, Fun, Live Play, Photo, Solo, Staging Area Control, Strategy | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Caldara bests the Black Serpent

Caldara against The Black Serpent

After a couple of futile attempts with other decks (Hobbits and Gondor never had a chance), I had to pull at the big guns and bring my Aggro Caldara deck against The Black Serpent. It was a pitched battle, with archery and forced effects consistently whittling away at my army of allies. At one point, I lost four allies in a single round and the quest looked like it might be slipping away. Caldara prevailed in the end – with my threat at 43 I was able to finish off the Black Serpent.

Among other mechanics, the Haradrim cycle has introduced the concept of using progress on the main quest as a resource. I am quite enjoying this design as it make quest control (being able to specifically decide how much progress you make) a vitally important facet of the game. In an interesting twist, there are times when you don’t want to complete the current quest card (for the earlier stages) because the next quest card will be without progress for the rest of the round. Because the enemies and shadow effects interact with progress on the main quest card, these rounds tend to be some of the most dangerous.

There are several troublesome encounter cards in this cycle, but one of my nominations for most annoying would have to be Southron Champion. Every time this card shows up it throws your plans for the round straight out the window. Because of the timing, you will often have to face multiple attacks from whatever enemy becomes the champion, and it prevents you from passing the quest – particularly troublesome on a round when you might be spending cards and resources to make a major willpower push. Kudos to Caleb – the quests in this cycle have been consistently excellent.

Posted in Aggro, Fun, Live Play, Mono-Sphere, Photo, Solo | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

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’s Addendum (11/15/2017): The recently announced FAQ includes errata to We Are Not Idle which breaks the core engine of this combo deck. Because you can now only get 3 resources (or 4, with Sword-thain) from We Are Not Idle, there is no way to achieve infinite resources from an army of Dwarves. I’ve left this article unaltered as the deck was an undeniably clever design when it was conceived – something which is only confirmed by the errata necessary to break the infinite combo.


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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