Jeff Hannes
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It's long overdue, but finally here's the companion to my "Back to Basics" killer deck. (Found here: http://boardgamegeek.com/thread/1108855/back-basics-killer-d...)

These are two decks designed to played with each other, either by two players or one player playing two-handed (my preferred solo play style). As with my previous Core-only deck, these are 42-card decks. You're handicapping yourself unnecessarily trying to build 50-card decks as long as your card pool is a single Core set. Below the deck list I've included suggestions to fill the decks out to 50 cards each once you acquire a second Core set or expansion packs.

Some notes on how best to play certain cards and combos in the decks follows as well.

DECK #1: Leadership/Spirit

HEROES [29 Starting Threat]
Aragorn (Leadership)
Theodred (Leadership)
Eowyn (Spirit)

LEADERSHIP ALLIES
x2 Faramir
x3 Guard of the Citadel
x2 Silverlode Archer
x3 Snowbourn Scout
x2 Son of Arnor

LEADERSHIP ATTACHMENTS
x1 Celebrian's Stone
x2 Steward of Gondor

LEADERSHIP EVENTS
x2 For Gondor
x1 Grim Resolve
x2 Sneak Attack

SPIRIT ALLIES
x2 Lorien Guide
x2 Northern Tracker
x2 Wandering Took

SPIRIT ATTACHMENTS
x1 The Favor of the Lady
x1 Unexpected Courage

SPIRIT EVENTS
x2 A Test of Will
x1 Dwarven Tomb
x2 Hasty Stroke
x3 Stand and Fight
x2 The Galadrahim's Greeting
x1 Will of the West

NEUTRAL ALLIES
x2 Gandalf

TACTICS ALLIES
x1 Beorn


DECK #2: Lore/Tactics

HEROES [27 starting threat]
Beravor (Lore)
Denethor (Lore)
Legolas (Tactics)

LORE ALLIES
x3 Daughter of the Nimrodel
x2 Erebor Hammersmith
x2 Gleowine
x1 Henamarth Riversong
x2 Miner of the Iron Hills

LORE ATTACHMENTS
x1 Dark Knowledge
x2 Forest Snare
x2 Protector of Lorien
x2 Self Preservation

LORE EVENTS
x3 Lore of Imladris
x1 Lorien's Wealth
x2 Radagast's Cunning
x2 Secret Paths

TACTICS ALLIES
x3 Gondorian Spearman
x3 Veteran Axehand

TACTICS ATTACHMENTS
x2 Blade of Gondolin
x1 Horn of Gondor

TACTICS EVENTS
x2 Blade Mastery
x2 Feint
x2 Quick Strike

NEUTRAL ALLIES
x2 Gandalf


STATEGY TIPS
* Generally you'll quest with Theodred and Eowyn and put the bonus resource on Eowyn, since the first deck is split evenly betweem Leadership and Spirit cards despite having a 2-1 hero ratio. Celebrian's Stone will also give Aragorn the ability to help play Spirit cards, and in most cases you'll want him to get the benefit of the Steward of Gondor so he can easily afford to ready himself every turn and save up for key cards like Faramir and the expensive but super-effective Grim Resolve. (Not a card I normally play with because of the cost, but it can be a game-changer.) Alternatively, if you have several Spirit cards (or expensive ones like Northern Tracker), you could also give Steward to Eowyn and use Theodred's resource to ready Aragorn.

* Keep in mind also that you're not limited to playing attachments on your own "side" of the table. Horn of Gondor could go on Eowyn or Aragorn and Unexpected Courage will usually be most effective on Beravor (so she can both draw cards and quest or fight), Denethor (so he can use his ability AND defend) or Legolas (for multiple attacks).

* Remember that with sentinel, Aragorn can block enemies engaged with the Lore/Tactics player, and with ranged Legolas and the Silverlode Archers can attack across the table. Determining which player should engage which enemies is key to doing well two-handed.

* In most cases you'll want to use your card draw (whether from Beravor, Gleowine or Lorien's Wealth) on the Leadership/Spirit side, as that deck boasts the best combo (Sneak Attack/Gandalf) and the most MVP cards for the quests in Core Set/Mirkwood cycle: A Test of Will, The Galadrahim's Greeting, Unexpected Courage, Northern Tracker, Faramir & Steward of Gondor. The Lore/Tactics deck's most valuable cards include Miner of the Iron Hills, Feint, Horn of Gondor and Forest Snare, and only Feint is on the power level of the aforementioned Leadership/Spirit cards. Also, since most if not all of your resource generation will go to the Leadership/Spirit side, that deck will be able to put more cards into play.

* Pay attention to the timing on when you play Son of Arnor... Ideally you'll play him when the Leadership/Spirit deck is the start player, to grab an enemy out of the staging area so that the Lore player can then play Forest Snare. This doesn't work the other way around, when the Lore player is the start player.

I put Beorn in the Leadership/Spirit deck since you can bring him into play with Sneak Attack or discard him to Eowyn's ability and use Stand and Fight. The odds of Legolas accumulating 6 resources are very low, and not even worth consideration.


ADDITIONS
As you add to your collection, here are the primary cards I'd look to include. First build up to 50 cards, and then start subbing out some of the less effective cards from the Core Set as you get better expansion replacements. While some of the Mirkwood heroes are very good in their own right, I don't see any of them fitting into these particular decks. Frodo is a fantastic hero, but when you're limited to these quests and player cards, Eowyn is still the best Spirit hero (and possibly the best hero overall) and therefore still holds the spot in the Leadership/Spirit deck. Imrahil is nice, but in this deck Aragorn is better -- especially with Celebrian's Stone available to him.

SECOND CORE SET
x1 Celebrian's Stone
x1 Sneak Attack
x1 Northern Tracker
x1 Unexpected Courage
x1 A Test of Will
x1 Dwarven Tomb
x1 The Galadrahim's Greeting
x1 Gandalf

x1 Erebor Craftsman
x1 Henamarth Riversong
x1 Miner of the Iron Hills
x1 Forest Snare
x1 Horn of Gondor
x1 Feint
x1 Quick Strike
x1 Gandalf


HUNT FOR GOLLUM
x3 Dunedain Mark
x2 Strider's Path
x3 Westfold Horse-Breaker

JOURNEY TO RHOSGOBEL
x3 Ancient Mathom
x2 Haldir of Lorein

CONFLICT AT THE CARROCK
x2 A Burning Brand

THE HILLS OF EMYN MUIL
x1 Gildor Inglorien
x3 The Riddermark's Finest

THE DEAD MARSHES
x2 Dunedain Watcher
x2 Silvan Tracker
x3 Vassal of the Windlord

RETURN TO MIRKWOOD
x2 Dunedain Signal
x2 West Road Traveller

Of course, these additions are just suggestions... feel free to experiment. These decks are just meant to be an effective baseline.

I should note that I've not yet had a chance to test these decks. I'm on vacation, and while I brought most of my player cards, I only have the Ringmaker cycle quests. Not exactly the best testing grounds! I'll try the Core and Mirkwood quests over the weekend and report my results. In the meantime, I feel confident these decks will perform well. If I make any tweaks (though there's very little I could see changing) I'll post those updates as well.
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Ryan
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Excellent. I am very excited to see this as I've enjoyed your one handed deck.

Thank you!
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Matt Jolly
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Thank you so much for this!

Assembling this as I read, I assume that "x2 Erebor Craftsman" above is actually 2 Erebor Hammersmiths?

How long did it take you to construct and refine these decks? I assume that they represent a long period of testing and refinement. Is that typical for the deckbuilding element?

Cheers,

Matt
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Andrew Brown
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matt.jolly wrote:
Thank you so much for this!

Assembling this as I read, I assume that "x2 Erebor Craftsman" above is actually 2 Erebor Hammersmiths?

How long did it take you to construct and refine these decks? I assume that they represent a long period of testing and refinement. Is that typical for the deckbuilding element?

Cheers,

Matt
not OP, but I would say that deckbuilding never ends. As you play more games, you find things that work, this that don't, and continually revise. Sometimes you go straight back to drawing board and start over too. It's a total labour of love though
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Jeff Hannes
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matt.jolly wrote:
Thank you so much for this!

Assembling this as I read, I assume that "x2 Erebor Craftsman" above is actually 2 Erebor Hammersmiths?

How long did it take you to construct and refine these decks? I assume that they represent a long period of testing and refinement. Is that typical for the deckbuilding element?


Oops. I tend to do that. Fixed the Hammersmith.

As to time to construct... These decks took about 20 minutes. I have a database of all the cards so I use that to browse through my options. With a single Core set, options are very limited, so I just jotted down a list of all the cards worth using, counted them up, and split them into two decks accordingly. I actually ended up having to ADD a couple cards to get to 42 instead of stripping down.

But the speed with which I built these decks is more about strong familiarity with the card pool and quests I'll be using them against. From experience of playing with every player card I know which ones are effective and which aren't. When new cards come out I find I'm often a pretty good judge of how they'll play, but some surprise me and turn out better than I thought, and others are weaker than I'd hope. That's where the real refinement comes in.

It's a similar process when building newer decks, but usually I end up initially picking 60-70 cards and then culling down. I've been meaning to post my Gandalf/Elrond/Galadriel "White Council" deck. When I do so, I'll include some detailed explanation on cards I cut or added, and go through the deck-building process in general.

Bottom line, the initial deck-build is often just a starting point. Only through actual play will you see which cards often make a difference and which don't.
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I read this and your original post, and these are great contributions to the game for newcomers like myself.

These have inspired me to build my own decks with the core set and figure out this game before buying more cards.

Thanks again!
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Mark Campo
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Journey down the be came a troll tropy hunt .. OK OK I was on easy but still counts . more testing to come bought an extra core to keep these as teaching decks always ready to pull out.. Thnx so much
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Thanks! I just read your solo deck thread and was happy to see you link to this 'couples' deck build. I just got the game this past week and while I will play some solo games, my husband and I will play together too. Can't wait to try this build.
 
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We often run Leadership/Lore and Tactics/Spirit with a core and Mirkwood Cycle to work from.

I see your point about the resource generation advantages coming from Leadership and Spirit though. We might give that a run.

I am curious why you don't include the various resource smoothing songs as good additional cards from Mirkwood? Those have been very useful for resource smoothing, particularly for the non Leadership side of the table.

All told, though, nice decks. Very much appreciated.
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Rudy Castaneda
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Ryahl wrote:
We often run Leadership/Lore and Tactics/Spirit with a core and Mirkwood Cycle to work from.

I see your point about the resource generation advantages coming from Leadership and Spirit though. We might give that a run.

I am curious why you don't include the various resource smoothing songs as good additional cards from Mirkwood? Those have been very useful for resource smoothing, particularly for the non Leadership side of the table.

All told, though, nice decks. Very much appreciated.


Thank for this build. I was having a very difficult time beating the Passage through Mirkwood quest with the single-colored decks.

My frustrations were echoed by someone else in this thread:
https://boardgamegeek.com/article/18847351#18847351

Thank you again!
-rudy
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Matthew Hayward
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My friend and I are also having good success with decks based around these.
 
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Hm. The only problem with these decks in my plays has been the high threat. It's manageable, but makes it substantially difficult to proceed. As a weirdo, I don't want to take the shortcut to solving that problem (I like to make decks without Spirit Glorfindel (just because he's so OP that he's as boring as the Dr. Boom in Hearthstone--everyone has him and uses him)). Suggestions? How might one rework these decks so they have lower threat and still remain effective?
 
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L Kasper
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This is a bump with a question!

How have the decks faired against the core set quests and the Mirkwood cycle AP's? I'm really looking forward to trying them, and I was hugely successful with the solo deck that was mentioned, but was hoping to see how it went against, say, Escape from Dol Guldur for example.
 
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Jonathan Meltzer
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Kasperitis wrote:
This is a bump with a question!

How have the decks faired against the core set quests and the Mirkwood cycle AP's? I'm really looking forward to trying them, and I was hugely successful with the solo deck that was mentioned, but was hoping to see how it went against, say, Escape from Dol Guldur for example.


My wife and I have used these decks against the core quests. We just barely managed to beat Dol Guldur first time out, so I know it can be done, though I suspect our success rate will lower drastically with additional plays.
 
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Per Starbäck
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We have played them successfully against against all core sets, the whole Mirkwood cycle, and the three scenarios in Khazad-dûm. (No need for Dwarves just because you are in Moria!)

But I don't remember now how many tries we needed for Escape from Dol Guldur. (For Khazam-dûm we succeeded with Into the Pit and Flight from Moria on the first try, but not with The Seventh Level.)
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star wrote:
We have played them successfully against against all core sets, the whole Mirkwood cycle, and the three scenarios in Khazad-dûm. (No need for Dwarves just because you are in Moria!)


Playing the Dwarrowdelf cycle has also worked, most often on first or second try. That is until we got to the last adventure in that cycle, The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game – Shadow and Flame. We've only played it once, but it felt really hopeless, with one ally each having to be cannon fodder almost every turn, and still having enough battle strength to injure the Balrog enough. I think we have to customize the decks to succeed. I would surely like to see the same adventurers tacks this one, but is it realistic?
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