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Subject: A Solo Deck to Escape from Dol Guldur rss

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Mark Judd
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I jumped into the Lord of the Rings LCG addiction last October and tried to beat every scenario one at a time in release order using just the cards that had been released up to and including that specific scenario. I found out really quick that Escape from Dol Guldur was near impossible to solo with only cards from the core set, and my deck building skills were rather limited. Eventually, I made my way through the entire Shadows of Mirkwood cycle and attempted Dol Guldur again with those newer cards, but still with no luck. I ran through Khazad-dûm and started into the Dwarrowdelf cycle before getting too frustrated with The Watcher in the Water, skipping that, and again getting stuck on The Long Dark. With the increased frustration, I shelved Lord of the Rings for a while and stuck with other solo games and video/computer games. A week ago, I was cleaning my room and reorganizing my games and decided it was time to crack open Lord of the Rings again, especially because I had sleeved but not played with any of the cards from Foundations of Stone, Shadow and Flame, or Over Hill and Under Hill. To give those cards a chance, I decided to forget about my original goal and start all over from the beginning, attempting each scenario from the beginning using any of the cards I own - two core sets, the Shadows of Mirkwood cycle, Khazad-dûm, the Dwarrowdelf cycle, and Over Hill and Under Hill.

I started the core set again with a dwarf deck just for fun, giving a strong emphasis to the gang from The Hobbit. The tri-sphere heroes in a quad-sphere deck struggled with Journey Down the Anduin, so I decided to go back to what I had originally been successful with - a Spirit/Lore deck. Fortunately, the last two releases of the Dwarrowdelf cycle included a great pair of heroes that I had yet to try out that would work perfectly with a Spirit/Lore deck - Elrond (and Vilya!), which allowed me to include a touch of Leadership and Tactics, and Spirit Glorfindel (with Asfaloth) adding little threat. I threw in Frodo as well for his low threat. After easily defeating Journey Down the Anduin, I took on Escape from Dol Guldur once again. The deck was very raw and required a bit too much luck to make much progress, but did show potential. So I jumped on here to see if anyone else had success with this combination of heroes. I didn't find anything exact, but did find two great decks using a combination of two Spirit Heroes and a Lore Hero, both utilizing Frodo and one of the versions of Glorfindel.

BGG user Thanee was able to Escape from Dol Guldur about 50% of the time using Spirit Glorfindel and Frodo with Beravor with this deck, and Martin Hoefer was also able to Escape from Dol Guldur about 50% of the time using Lore Glorfindel with Frodo and Eowyn with this deck. Their approaches seemed similar to what I was trying to attempt, so I used their decks as guidelines to adjust my deck, trimming the excess, and adding some of what worked for them to come up with my own version of a solo deck to Escape from Dol Guldur.

Here is what I came up with:

Heroes (Threat 25)

Frodo Baggins (Conflict at the Carrock)
Glorfindel (Foundations of Stone)
Elrond (Shadow and Flame)

Allies (#23)

1x Lórien Guide (Core)
3x Northern Tracker (Core)
1x Elfhelm (The Dead Marshes)
2x Zigil Miner (Khazad-dûm)
1x Bofur (The Redhorn Gate)
1x Arwen Undómiel (The Watcher in the Water)
2x Imladris Stargazer (Foundations of Stone)
1x Miner of the Iron Hills (Core)
1x Gléowine (Core)
1x Haldir of Lórien (A Journey to Rhosgobel)
1x Gildor Inglorion (The Hills of Emyn Muil)
3x Warden of Healing (The Long Dark)
1x Beorn (Core)
1x Faramir (Core)
2x Gandalf (Core)
1x Gandalf (The Hobbit: Under Hill and Over Hill)

Events (#13)

3x The Galadhrim's Greeting (Core)
2x Will of the West (Core)
3x A Test of Will (Core)
2x Dwarven Tomb (Core)
3x Elrond's Counsel (The Watcher in the Water)

Attachments (#19)

2x Unexpected Courage (Core)
3x Light of Valinor (Foundations of Stone)
2x A Burning Brand (Conflict at the Carrock)
2x Fast Hitch (The Dead Marshes)
1x Asfaloth (Foundations of Stone)
2x Song of Wisdom (Conflict at the Carrock)
1x Boots from Erebor (Khazad-dûm)
3x Resourceful (The Watcher in the Water)
3x Vilya (Shadow and Flame)


I've only had the patience to run through Escape from Dol Guldur a few times while tuning the deck, and only ran through it with this final version once to successfully escape from Dol Guldur solo, feeling elated with the success and not wanting to go back to it again until I go through the other quests. Just two attempts earlier (with only minor differences to the deck), I was kicking butt and nearing escape but realized when I got to Phase 3 that I forgot to put the Nazgul into play as soon as the prisoner was freed. It probably wouldn't have mattered as I had a ton of questing power and my army could have pwnd the Nazgul as soon as I opted to engage him, but I decided to end that attempt immediately upon discovery of my error and try again until I was able to succeed.

Here are my reasoning for and opinions of the cards that were included:

Heroes

Frodo Baggins - As mentioned earlier, low threat as well as a good emergency defender by raising threat. He is a great candidate for prisoner, and was the one that was captured in my winning attempt.

Glorfindel - As mentioned earlier, low threat and Asfaloth bonus. He would only quest when essential with the minor threat penalty, and his high attack helps out a lot. The Noldor trait is also helpful with Elrond's Counsel and Light of Valinor. It isn't devastating if he is captured, either, and I believe he was the one captured in the near victory, forgotten Nazgul attempt.

Elrond - An overall great swiss army knife with good questing and defense and a decent attack. He would quest if not needed for defense or if he had the Light of Valinor and would usually take the blows from the tougher enemies when necessary. The extra healing was a decent small addition, especially when the heroes were injured, and his ability to pay for the cost of any allies without the use of other attachments or effects was huge. And then there is Vilya. It is very costly if he is captured, but Lore is the smaller part of the deck and can still be played with songs, so the quest might still be doable without him for Phase 1.

Allies

1x Lórien Guide - I included this as a minor assistant in case I was stuck with a large amount of threat in the staging area and unable to quest successfully. Fortunately, other cards did a better job at getting rid of Locations, so it was not needed. I think I might still keep it in just in case, though.

3x Northern Tracker - Essential to clear out the locations piling up in the staging area. In my more successful attempts, I was able to get out one or two of these in the first few rounds.

1x Elfhelm - I don't like to include multiple copies of unique characters/items unless they are essential. He seemed like a good addition just in case I had difficulty questing, and his stats are decent.

2x Zigil Miner - I only included 2 instead of 3 because the miner's stats are low in case I needed him for attack or defense. On the forgotten Nazgul attempt, he was key. On the winning attempt, he didn't come into play until after the first several rounds when the game was already running smoothly. It can help to get the Miner/Stargazer combo early, but isn't essential. Of course, I did not use the miner's ability unless I had knowledge of the top two cards.

1x Bofur - Another single unique character. I included him for his decent questing. I never had to try, but I wonder if he could be played during the questing phase to bypass the one-ally-per-turn caveat of this scenario...

1x Arwen Undómiel - Another single unique character. Her questing was helpful, and I would use her defense bonus on either Frodo or Elrond. She never seemed essential, though, so just one copy works for me.
On a sidenote, I must confess that I have a huge crush on her. Magali Villeneuve did a great job with the artwork - she is beautiful! A drastic improvement over Liv Tyler!
modest

2x Imladris Stargazer - In both the forgotten Nazgul attempt and the winning attempt, the stargazer played a key role. First with the miner and in the later attempt with Vilya. A third might be handy in the deck, but I'm not keen on the stats. I lost one to Necromancer's reach, so it might help to gaze into your deck towards the end of your turn instead of during your planning phase.

1x Miner of the Iron Hills - I included this guy just in case for Caught in a Web. It isn't essential if you get the resource engine running or with Unexpected Courage or Fast Hitch, but he is handy in an emergency.

1x Gléowine - Another single unique character to assist with card drawing.

1x Haldir of Lórien - Another single unique character with decent stats. Wasn't essential, but I was including so many other single unique characters, so why not?

1x Gildor Inglorion - Another single unique character. He has excellent stats which made him a good swiss army knife, was occasionally used to quest, defend, or attack, and his special ability worked well as an alternative to the stargazers to help out with the miners and Vilya. It was also handy to be able to switch out a useless card in my hand with a better one from the deck.

3x Warden of Healing - The Elrond/Warden of Healing combo was what got my entire deck idea started. Healing two different targets with one warden was a great help, as was Elrond's bonus.

1x Beorn - Another single unique character. Elrond would have been the only one able to summon Beorn, with or without Vilya, so having Elrond captured would hurt a little. But Beorn is not key - just another emergency option to go Hulk and smash Ungoliant's Spawn, Chieftan Ufthak, the Dungeon Jailers, or the Nazgul if I got in a jam. Fortunately (or unfortunately?), I haven't needed to try out his Hulk ability yet.

1x Faramir - Another single unique character, playable only by Elrond with or without Vilya. In the winning attempt, he helped me breeze through Stage 2 and Stage 3 with the questing bonus.

2x Gandalf (Core) - The versatility of Core Gandalf was appreciated. Typically, I'd use him for threat reduction. But his direct damage did help by taking down Hummerhorns in my winning attempt. I had originally planned on using a song or two so I could play him with Sneak Attacks, but it always seemed to clog my deck so I got rid of those.

1x Gandalf (Hobbit) - I decided to add one Hobbit Gandalf for the ability to keep him in play if my threat was low enough. He helped take down the Nazgul in my winning attempt.

Events

3x The Galadhrim's Greeting - Much needed threat reduction.

2x Will of the West - These were to help recycle my deck if the game dragged on too long. I did get to use one half way through my winning attempt as all of the Galadhrim's Greetings, Elrond's Counsels, and a Dwarven Tomb or two appeared in the top half of the deck.

3x A Test of Will - These emergency cards usually just sat in my hand, but are handy just in case.

2x Dwarven Tomb - Really came in handy to help keep my threat low with Galadhrim's Greeting and Elrond's Counsel.

3x Elrond's Counsel - Having two Noldor heroes guaranteed that this could be played even if one was captured. The questing bonus was also helpful.

Attachments

2x Unexpected Courage - One of these was a great help for Elrond, especially with Vilya. In the winning attempt, he was able to quest with Light of Valinor, use Vilya, and defend or attack as needed all in the same turn.

3x Light of Valinor - Due to it's necessity, this was one of the only unique cards that I used multiple copies of. This would go on Elrond unless he was captured.

2x A Burning Brand - Elrond could usually defend on his own without support from other cards, just getting healing from the warden afterwards. But occasionally I had him living on the edge, and once or twice an extra point of damage or two from shadow effects was enough to do him in. Burning Brand wasn't essential, but it is useful.

2x Fast Hitch - Included so that Frodo could quest and/or defend multiple times in a turn. In the winning attempt, these stayed in my hand until Frodo was freed. But they are useful if one of the other two heroes is captured.

1x Asfaloth - A single unique attachment. Having two Noldor heroes again helped, ensuring that this could be played despite losing one hero at the beginning. The Northern Trackers typically did their jobs, so I didn't feel the need to add more than one of these. It appeared early in my winning attempt, and was a great help.

2x Song of Wisdom - These would be essential if Elrond was captured. Fortunately, that did not happen in my winning attempt.

1x Boots from Erebor - A small bonus for Frodo; it wasn't essential and you can't play more than one on him, so I stuck with one.

3x Resourceful - Originally, the goal with the low initial threat was to be able to quickly drop it so the Secrecy goal would be met allowing these to be played for cheap. I have not yet been able to get that to work, although I have been able to get it low enough midway through the game when Resourceful hasn't been as necessary. But I do usually get them out at full cost in about the 3rd-4th turn or so after a few allies have been played. It seems like a nice alternative to Miner/Stargazer if that combo doesn't show up early. These usually go on Elrond to help with the higher cost allies.

3x Vilya - This is the star of the deck. I've been able to have some success while tuning the deck without Vilya appearing (I originally started with just one copy), and I've struggled trying to use Elrond and Vilya if he is needed for other duties. But once Elrond gets Light of Valinor and/or Unexpected Courage, Vilya really shines.

So there you have it. Another solo deck that has successfully resulted in an Escape from Dol Guldur. I plan on trying it out on the other scenarios before attempting Dol Guldur a few more times, so I don't know exactly how successful it can be, but I wouldn't be surprised if it is able to win 25-35% of the time, possibly more with a little bit of tweaking and refining.
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notrub eneg
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Great deck. Very similar to a broad based deck I have been running against "all other" scenarios, successfully. I would expect yours to do pretty well against others as well.

Differences include using Lornagorn instead of Frodo. Dropping all Frodo specific cards and Ziggy (I just don't use him). Don't have the songs, but as you point out, would be essential to avoid a gap if Elrond is captured in Dol Guldur.

I have two Miners and two Asfaloths and no Elfhelm or Lorien Guide.

I think the key is the ability to control threat. Makes for longer games with higher formal scoring, but most often results in success.

Good gaming. Will have to test mine against Dol Guldur with the song addition.
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Mark Judd
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notrub wrote:
Great deck. Very similar to a broad based deck I have been running against "all other" scenarios, successfully. I would expect yours to do pretty well against others as well.

Differences include using Lornagorn instead of Frodo. Dropping all Frodo specific cards and Ziggy (I just don't use him). Don't have the songs, but as you point out, would be essential to avoid a gap if Elrond is captured in Dol Guldur.

I have two Miners and two Asfaloths and no Elfhelm or Lorien Guide.

I think the key is the ability to control threat. Makes for longer games with higher formal scoring, but most often results in success.

Good gaming. Will have to test mine against Dol Guldur with the song addition.

With Lornagorn instead of Frodo, I assume you would have a higher ratio of Lore cards to Spirit cards.

With 2 Lore heroes, you probably wouldn't need Song of Wisdom. All that would do is allow Glorfindel to attach A Burning Brand. And with just 1 defense, I usually don't defend with Glorfindel except in an emergency. If Elrond is captured, you would still have Lornagorn to allow you to play Lore cards. But you might need Song of Travel in case Glorfindel is the one captured to allow you to play Spirit Attachments and (most importantly) Spirit Events.

I'll probably have to add an additional Miner of the Iron Hills for the other scenarios - some seem to have an even higher ratio of even nastier attachments. It probably wouldn't hurt the deck too much to have an extra in Escape from Dol Guldur either.

About the score, right now I don't care about the score. I just want to be able to defeat every scenario solo because I hate losing to the game over and over again! Once I accomplish that, I can go back to the scenarios again if desired to try for speed and/or Victory cards to get a personal high score. But I have a long road to travel before that happens!

“Home is behind, the world ahead,
and there are many paths to tread
through shadows to the edge of night,
until the stars are all alight.”
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Thanee
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Nice to see another one going up against this insanely hard adventure successfully!

Bye
Thanee
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Mark Judd
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Thanee wrote:
Nice to see another one going up against this insanely hard adventure successfully!

Bye
Thanee

And it was successful in part thanks to you! The ideas for some of the cards came from one of your decks - especially Ziggy/Stargazer, and the inclusion of Stargazer has really helped Vilya in my attempts at other scenarios.

 
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