|Boromir's Guide to Deck Construction, Part Two
A Lord of the Rings: The Card Game spotlight on successful solo play
|The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game | Published 16 January 2012|
“We of Minas Tirith have been staunch through long years of trial. We do not desire the power of wizard-lords, only strength to defend ourselves, strength in a just cause.”
–Boromir, The Fellowship of the Ring
The wildernesses and darkened corners of Middle-earth host all manner of Orcs, Trolls, Wargs, and other dangers that threaten the brave heroes who undertake quests to secure the borders of their homelands and lead the war against the approaching Shadow. Since last April, The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game has given players the chance to immerse themselves in these perilous quests, both in cooperative games and in solitary efforts.
While many players enjoy the game’s solitaire play, it often takes every ounce of your heroes’ talents to overcome the encounter decks’ fearsome enemies and cunning artificial intelligence. Today, we continue our series of deck-building tutorials for players braving the challenges of The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game on their own.
Last week, we looked at ways to create action advantage and to gain card advantage. While finding ways to incorporate these advantages should be among the primary mechanical considerations of any strong deck construction, cards are only good if you can play them, so we need to find ways to develop resource acceleration.
Each card game utilizes its own economy. In The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game, you must pay for your cards with the resources you accumulate on your heroes, but your heroes each normally acquire only one resource per turn. In order to play many of the stronger, four-cost cards in the game, such as Citadel Plate (Core Set, 40) or Northern Tracker (Core Set, 45), you must either save your resources over multiple turns or find means of accelerating the number of resources you generate.
There are several cards which currently accelerate your resource acquisition in The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game, and most of them belong to the Leadership sphere of influence. The Leadership heroes Glóin (Core Set, 3) and Théodred (Core Set, 2) both provide the means to replenish or enrich your resource pool each turn, so long as you can afford Glóin with constant healing. The Core Set also gave us Horn of Gondor (Core Set, 42) and the Leadership attachment Steward of Gondor (Core Set, 26), which offers arguably the best, renewable resource acceleration in the game. Meanwhile, Khazad-dûm brings the Zigil Miner (Khazad-dûm, 9) who, with a little luck, can carve resources out of the top of your deck. A combination of these cards can help you play more than three resources per turn, meaning that you can play your stronger cards earlier and more often.
With the Dwarrowdelf cycle, however, players gain new means of accelerating their resources. Players able to keep their threat under 20 may play cards with the Secrecy keyword at significant discounts. Secretive fellowships can gain Timely Aid (The Redhorn Gate, 3) for just one Leadership resource. Players have long included multiple copies of Sneak Attack (Core Set, 23) in their decks for its ability to facilitate the play of expensive allies, and Timely Aid can potentially grant the same benefits. Even better, if you recruit Gildor Inglorion (The Hills of Emyn Muil, 79), he can provide you advance knowledge of your draw deck and ensure that you’ll know when your Timely Aid will come from a humble source, such as a Snowbourn Scout (Core Set, 16), or from a mighty ally, such as the Eagle, Landroval (A Journey to Rhosgobel, 53).
Going hand-in-hand with the concept of resource acceleration is the concept of the deck’s resource curve. Generally, decks with two or more spheres of influence contain a wider variety of options. Any deck can benefit from Leadership’s resources, Lore’s card draw, Spirit’s Willpower and control, and the raw combat prowess Tactics can provide. But as you mix heroes from different spheres, you increase the number of turns your heroes have to save resources to play cards with costs greater than one.
It doesn’t make much sense to work at constructing your deck to benefit from increased card draw if you can’t afford to play the extra cards in your hand, so you’ll want the majority of cards in your deck to cost no more than the number of resources you’re guaranteed to gain each turn from heroes of the card’s sphere of influence. Some cards are strong enough to merit inclusion even if you have to save a turn to play them, but few cards are worth playing if you have to save resources three or more turns in order to play them from your hand. The Orcs and Trolls in the dark tunnels of Khazad-dûm aren’t renowned for their patience, and you’ll likely need your resources to make more immediate impact!
Veteran card players hear a lot about “synergy.” Literally, this is the ability for individual elements to accomplish more in combination. In The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game, heroes and allies unite to join a common cause, but some unite more effectively than others.
The Core Set and Adventure Packs from the Shadows of Mirkwood cycle have developed a number of Trait-based themes, including Rohan, Eagle, and Dwarf. Through the Shadows of Mirkwood cycle, the Rohan theme saw a great deal of success, but Khazad-dûm is lending new strength to Dwarf decks. Cards like Untroubled by Darkness (Khazad-dûm, 10) allow you to stack more bonuses on your Dwarves than ever before, while cards like Ancestral Knowledge (Khazad-dûm, 12) and Bofur (The Redhorn Gate, 6) allow your Dwarves to take more useful actions.
While you can’t build a deck for The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game consisting entirely of cards sharing a single Trait, you can increase the chances of drawing into useful combinations, the more you include cards that combine with each other. Untroubled by Darkness grants your Dwarf characters extra Willpower while questing, as can Dáin Ironfoot (Return to Mirkwood, 116). Together, they can turn the Lore ally, Erebor Hammersmith (Core Set, 99) into a two-cost, four-Willpower questing machine. Meanwhile, when the Erebor Hammersmith enters play, he returns the topmost attachment in any player’s discard pile to his hand. What if this topmost discarded attachment is a copy of Ancient Mathom (A Journey to Rhosgobel, 56)? Then the Erebor Hammersmith can provide you questing power as well as recurring an excellent card draw tool. The card draw can, in turn, fuel your Protector of Loríen (Core Set, 70). Multiple cards start to work together nicely, all of which are useful on their own, but more powerful when the combinations pile up. That’s synergy.
As you look to conquer the scenarios from the Core Set and Khazad-dûm, bear in mind the various elements of deck construction. If Moria’s enemies and physical pitfalls prove too deadly for your party, you can use this knowledge to analyze your failures and aim toward successes. What worked? What didn’t work? Were your heroes exhausted too early? Maybe you didn’t include enough allies and other cards to provide your party sufficient action advantage. Did you run out of cards early? Find a way to add card advantage to your deck. Did you have enough cards in your hand, but no way to play them? Add cards to your deck to increase your resource acceleration, and adjust your resource curve. Sometimes, you can have a deck built with great little pieces, but they just don’t seem to hold together. In this case, you want to look at the cards that seem to act like loners. Take those cards that just do their own thing, but don’t combine with other cards, and swap them for others that build more synergies.
Next week: We’ll look at a Dwarf deck built to tackle the mines of Moria, and we’ll look at how it might deal with some of the challenges lurking aboveground in The Redhorn Gate.
The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game is a cooperative card game that puts 1-2 players (or up to four with an additional Core Set) in control of the most powerful characters and artifacts of Middle-earth. Players will select heroes, gather allies, acquire artifacts, and coordinate their efforts to face Middle-earth’s most dangerous fiends. The Living Card Game format allows players to customize their gaming experience with monthly Adventure Pack expansions to the core game.
A great and very useful continuation to the first part of Boromir's deck construction guide! The first article treats the essentials of deck building and the second one builds your knowledge with more advance techniques.
Bofur is sick good. :)
Bofur looks awesome for my current deck I am running and look forward to adding him.
I do agree on the Secrecy front that I am hoping to see a bit more threat reduction or I do echo the thought that this may be the push towards playing only 2 heroes in a deck. Still hoping to see heroes with two resource icons and higher threat to help trend towards that push as well.
I hope Secrecy means there will be some more threat reduction options coming. We have a couple, but getting your threat below 20 is generally quite a challenge right now. While that Thiely card is great, its a lot of trouble to get your threat down, and at full cost I'm not sure its worth it.
Been really loving the game! I like constantly rebuilding my decks and trying new ideas. I hope to see more for Hobbits and Elves soon. I wonder if this cycle will develop a new keyword type as well?
I'm loving this series. I was on the fence about buying into the Dwarrowdelf cycle, but you've hooked me.
useful and another great preview
Yes Bofur is looks really ok. But what about Secrecy? Keep your threat low then 20 is quite difficult. Specealy now when the new encounter cards so powerful. So it mean maybe is time to play with 2 heroes instead 3??? If course is depend on how many secrecy cards total and how powerful they are...... But maybe this will happen eventually.....
Seeing Bofur, I'm definitely making a spirit/lore dwarf deck :)
Love the artwork on Bofur by the way, well done!
I think Bofur is made for Imrahil throw in Dain and you get three willpower and Imrahil readying for one resource. What's not to like.
That last post assumes one is using Dain as a hero. It would only be a 2 Willpower boost without him.
Forgot to mention: If you quest unsuccessfully you have played a 3-cost card for 1 resource. The problem is that you lose the greatest function of this card: a 3 Willpower boost EVERY QUEST PHASE for 1 resource and without the risk of losing the character in combat or from a card effect.
I'd play 3 of these in a spirit deck for sure!
Yes, he would stay in play. It's interesting that he would return to your hand if you're successful. However, during the questing phase there is a chance for player actions between revealing cards and resolving questing.
Suppose you are using Dain as a hero and after revealing cards from the encounter deck in the quest phase you are 2 Willpower shy of questing successfully. You could spend a mere 1 Spirit resourse for a 3 Willpower (2 from Bofur + 1 from Dain's buff) boost to quest successfully then return him to your hand. I think it's a brilliant and versatile card and mechanic :)