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Deck Spotlight: Blaze of Glory

by on March 25, 2013

boromirs_death

It’s been quite awhile since I posted a deck that is not part of the Deck Building 101 series, mainly because while my love for the game has not diminished one iota, I’ve been feeling a bit uninspired as far as building new decks is concerned. In addition, the mono-sphere decks I”ve been creating for the Deck Building 101 series have been a blast to play (mono Tactics and mono Spirit are coming soon!), and so that has occupied my deck attention span as well. However, with a precious bit of free time on my hands over the weekend, I did get a kernel of an idea in my head, and the result is this deck that I’m spotlighting today. I will start off by saying that this is an experimental deck, designed to be fun and interesting to play rather than an exercise in power gaming. If you like these kinds of deck designs, I encourage you to go check out the Decks section of the Hall of Beorn blog, which is filled to the brim with novel design ideas.

Deck List:

Hero (3)

Frodo Baggins (CatC) x1

Boromir (TDM) x1

Beorn (OHaUH) x1

Ally (21)

Beorning Beekeeper (CatC) x3

Descendant of Thorondor (THoEM) x3

Escort from Edoras (AJtR) x3

Gondorian Spearman (Core) x3

Defender of Rammas (HON) x3

Gandalf (Core) x3

West Road Traveller (RtM) x3

Attachment (13)

Good Meal (TRG) x3

Horn of Gondor (Core) x2

Ring Mail (TLD) x3

Unexpected Courage (Core) x2

Spear of the Citadel (HON) x3

Event (17)

Fortune or Fate (Core) x3

A Test of Will (Core) x3

Dwarven Tomb (Core) x2

Feint (Core) x3

Stand Together (Core) x3

Hasty Stroke (Core) x3

Theme: Death, Sacrifice, and Resurrection

Spheres: Tactics/Spirit (about 2/3 Tactics, 1/3 Spirit)

Strategy: Overall, this deck was designed to work in tandem with a more questing-minded counterpart, but it could work as a solo build, if you are willing to make some tweaks (perhaps subbing in Eowyn for Frodo and including some more questing allies). While the focus is mainly on combat and dealing damage, I have included a few key allies, like West Road Traveller and Escort from Edoras, that can help with making progress. The main point of this deck, however, is allowing Boromir to use his sacrifice ability (discarding to cause 2 damage to each enemy engaged with him) while being able to bring him back from the dead fairly easily. Beorn comes into the mix since letting him eat up damage until he dies and then bringing him back is the only way to “heal” him and maximize his abilities, and therefore the Good Meal + Fortune or Fate combo that is at the heart of this deck can have multiple uses beyond Boromir. Since Boromir’s discard ability will be most effective if enemies already have some damage on them, I’ve included a few different direct damage effects: Gondorian Spearman, Spear of the Citadel, Descendant of Thorondor, and Beorning Beekeper. The latter card is one that I normally despise, because of its high cost and limited utility, and I don’t think it has seen action in any of my decks since the days of the Core Set. However, in this case I’m willing to give it a chance since it fits the direct damage and sacrifice theme so well. Overall, the strategy of this deck is to engage multiple enemies, soak up attacks using Frodo’s ability/Beorn’s hit points/Stand Together, deal direct damage when possible, and use Boromir’s discarding ability when the Good Meal and Fortune or Fate combo is ready to go.

How It Was Constructed: Rather than being built around a specific trait (like my Rohan and Eagle decks), this deck was born when I was thinking about how rarely I get to use Boromir’s sacrifice ability (perhaps Boromir traveled into my dreams and incepted me?). This seemed like a shame, since it’s such a thematic ability, and one of my favorite moments playing this game occured when Boromir was able to go out in a blaze of glory, sealing a victory over the Watcher in the Water. From there, I started thinking about how in order to build a deck around a Boromir blaze of glory, I would need to have a means of bringing him back from the dead in order to make it at all viable. There were two options open to me in this respect. The first was Landroval, which seemed the logical choice since he is from the same sphere as Boromir. However, I didn’t like the fact that Landroval’s ability can only be used once per game, and that it also costs 5 resources to put him on the table. Ideally, I wanted to enable the using of Boromir’s ability multiple times in a game, and Landroval couldn’t do this. This brought me to the second option, Fortune or Fate, which doesn’t have any limitations on how often you can use it. However, this created new issues as this card is from the Spirit sphere and also costs 5 resources. A solution emereged that could solve both problems at once: Frodo Baggins. Not only does Frodo allow the playing of Spirit cards, but since he is a Hobbit he can use Good Meal, which lowers the cost of an event by 2. Now, I would be able to play Fortune or Fate for a pretty reasonable cost of 3 resources. The inclusion of Dwarven Tomb allows for the quick retrieval of a Fortune or Fate after using it once, instead of having to wait to draw it again, which would be problematic given the lack of card draw in this deck (the Tomb also helps in case FoF gets discarded for some reason). Next, I chose to bring in Beorn as I wanted another reason to focus on resurrection other than just Boromir’s ability, and Beorn seemed like a great choice as he is very Fortune or Fate-friendly. Normally, he can’t be healed at all, which is a shame since he has an amazing 10 hit points and doesn’t exhaust to defend. However, letting him soak up a bunch of attacks, letting him die, and then bringing him back is a sneaky way of essentially healing him. The final piece of the puzzle was to bring in another card that I usually never use: Stand Together. This card, while is of limited utility in many cases, can work wonders with the trio of Frodo, Beorn, and Boromir (more on this in the Possible Combos section).

Possible Combos:

1) Fortune or Fate + Frodo + Good Meal: This is the central combo of the deck, and requires only drawing 2 cards to function (Frodo starts in play). You are looking to get either Fortune or Fate or Good Meal in your opening hand (if you get both, call it a good day). If not, a mulligan is highly recommended. Good Meal attaches to Frodo, lowering the cost of playing Fortune or Fate to only 3 resources. If you can get 2 copies of Good Meal onto Frodo, the cost reduces all the way down to 1! Once Good Meal is on the table and Fortune or Fate is in hand, you can use Boromir’s sacrifice ability at an opportune moment and immdediately resurrect him or allow Beorn to die and bring him back if that is the better choice at the moment.

2) Stand Together + Frodo + Beorn/Boromir (or both): Stand Together allows you to declare multiple defenders against the same attack. Often this is not a great play as you want to minimize the amount of characters you exhaust. However, in this case, Beorn doesn’t have to exhaust to participate in defending and Boromir can use his readying ability if needed. Frodo doesn’t have a natural readying effect, but Unexpected Courage can help. With this combo, you can defend with all 3 heroes for a total defense of 5, while still having the option of using Frodo’s damage-canceling effect if needed! Add in the readying effects and this combo can allow you to soak up hits from multiple enemies, even if they all are swinging for high amounts. Note that there are other options for using Stand Together in this deck. A Defender of Ramas, with its high defense of 4, can pitch in to help Frodo, Boromir, or Beorn out (all options are great: Boromir can defend for 6 and then ready, Frodo can also defend for 6 and soak up any remaining damage, while Beorn can defend for 5 and remain ready; all three choices allow you to block a huge attack and still keep the Defender alive). Stand Together can also help with dealing direct damage (see combo #3 below).

*Note: The issue of whether Stand Together can be used with Beorn is still unresolved as far as I know (Beorn is “immune to player card effects”. There is debate on whether this play is legal, and good arguments for both interpretations. The text of Stand Together is:

Action: Choose a player. That player may declare any number of his eligible characters as defenders against each enemy attacking him this phase.

On the one hand, the text says to “choose a player” and so that makes it seem as if the target is a player and not the characters who are defending. This would mean that Beorn could work with Stand Together. On the other hand, does his immunity mean that he is not an “eligible character”? I side with the first interpretation and that is why I am running with it in this deck. Can anyone find an official ruling on this?

3) Gondorian Spearman + Spear of the Citadel (+Stand Together): You want to deal as much direct damage as possible as often as possible to set up Boromir’s sacrifice ability so that it can kill multiple enemies at once. You can equip a Spear of the Citadel to Boromir to do some damage while defending (Beorn can’t use one because he can’t have attachments while Frodo isn’t a Tactics character). However, a potentially effective use to is to put Spears on a couple of Gondorian Spearmen. Then if you use Stand Together to have them both defend (potentially along with your heroes), they will do 2 points of damage to an attacking enemy. An added benefit of using Stand Together in this situation is that it may allow you to keep the usually flimsy Spearmen alive a little longer.

4) Descendant of Thorondor + Beorning Beekeeper + Boromir sacrifice: In addition to the direct damage provided by the Gondorian Spearmen and Spears of the Citadel, the Descendant of Thorondor can help add some damage when it comes in and out of play. The Beorning Beekeeper ability is best used right before Boromir’s sacrifice to sweeten the pot (see what I did there?). One point to note about the Beekeper is that you just need to discard it to use its ability, not exhaust it, so it can defend or attack first and then activate the direct damage effect

4) Frodo + Ring Mail + Horn of Gondor: Our valiant Hobbit needs some goodies besides a tasty meal. The Ring Mail can help .bolster his defense, but it really is the Horn of Gondor that is essential. Even at 3 resources, Fortune or Fate is expensive when there is only 1 Spirit hero and not many options for generating resources. The Horn of Gondor should be placed on Frodo as soon as possbile so that he can more easily pay for the combo that this deck is based around. With a deck based around sacrifice, there should be plenty of fodder for the horn.

Variations: One alternative version of this deck consists of replacing Beorn with Hama. The reasoning behind this would be that Hama could recycle the Stand Togethers to get the maximum use out of them (however, you would lose some of the teeth and fun of the deck without Beorn’s damage soaking). I also mentioned earlier that you could try making this a solo deck with Eowyn as an uber-quester and replacing Frodo. The problem is that getting rid of Frodo means that you can’t run Good Meal, which in turn means that Fortune or Fate will be almost prohibitively expensive to run with only 1 Spirit hero. At that point, you would probably transition this deck to being a 2/3 Spirit, 1/3 Tactics deck with Boromir as the lone Tactics hero. This is possible, but I don’t have the time or inclination at the moment to really flesh out what that would look like. Finally, after building this deck, I already see some changes that I would make, which is generally the story of deck-building. The biggest thing I notice is that Ring Mail might be a bit superfluous when you consider the defensive strength already included in this deck. Instead, I would probably include Born Aloft to increase the effectiveness of Descendant of Thorondor.

Final Thoughts: This is a fun, experimental deck that would do well against combat-heavy encounters. It would be particularly effective against quests that feature a few hard-hitting enemies, like We Must Away Ere Break of Day and Conflict at the Carrock (although the former poses some challenges with its restrictions on direct damage and multiple attacks). The powerful and flexible options for defense combined with an impressive attacking potential (8 when you consider just Beorn and Boromir) make this a strong combat deck even in normal circumstances. However, when you add in the direct damage effects and repreatable Boromir blaze of glory, there is a strong capacity for dealing with even the most potent foes. On the other hand, there are some definite weaknesses to the deck. The most obvious is the combination of high-cost cards with low resource-generation potential. This is most glaring in that the central combo of the deck relies on Spirit resources and there is only 1 Spirit hero! If you are not able to draw Horn of Gondor early on, then you might struggle a bit. Another weakness is questing (at least for willpower quests), and this is only partially mitigated by a couple of Spirit allies. The final aspect this deck is lacking is card draw, which means that it may be prone to inconsistency (if this really becomes a problem, then throwing in Foe-Hammer might be an option). However, at the end of the day, this is a deck that provides something a bit different and not only allows for the use of a few cards that I almost never use (Fortune or Fate, Beorning Beekeper, Stand Together), but actually gets me excited about using them. It’s time to make epic sacrifices the order of the day, as you eat arrows for breakfast and come back swinging!

I leave you with this tune to inspire your use of this deck.

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From → Deck Spotlight

9 Comments
  1. This is a great deck. I really like seeing under-used cards like Stand Together and Good Meal. The fact that the result is so thematically appropriate (Boromir + Fortune or Fate = Priceless) is even better.

    As for whether or not Stand Together works with Beorn, I would agree that it does. Caleb has ruled that Dori works with Beorn since he targets the damage, and not the bear. It seems to me that Stand Together should be fine, since it only targets the player, and not the defending characters.

  2. shipprekk permalink

    Agree with Beorn here.

    Epic deck.

  3. I like this deck concept a lot and look forward to testing it out!

    When putting together my Three Bees deck I asked Caleb about Stand Together and it does not work with Beorn. As he is being effected by a card effect.

    “A few questions regarding the Beorn hero. Can this character take advantage of cards such as Stand Together or Beorn’s Hospitality?

    Because Beorn is immune to player card effects, he cannot be healed by Beorn’s Hospitality or used with Stand Together.
    Cheers,
    Caleb”

    I was going through every card that can work with Beorn and ended up with about ten or 11 cards.

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      Ugh. I have to say that I like my interpretation better 🙂 It makes sense to me that Stand Together should work since it targets the player and not Beorn. Oh well, Stand Together still has a lot of other uses in this deck, but it would’ve been epic with Beorn. Thanks for the word from Caleb!

  4. I agree I wanted it to work with Beorn badly. It would have been truly epic.

  5. I keep coming back to this article because it’s one of my favorite deck types to think on, especially when new cards come out. I love playing Boromir and to a less extent, Beorn.

    Just wanted to mention the possibilities that open up with a few new cards.

    A Good Harvest – Replacement for Frodo + Goodmeal, if you were using Eowyn
    Hammerstroke – Engage all enemies
    Rain of Arrows + Vassal of the Winglord (Not a new combo but something I don’t see often. Potential for more direct damage)

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      Nice update suggestions! Hammerstroke practically screams to roll out the red carpet for Boromir, and I definitely want to see how it works in this deck.

  6. sweetnesswhachacha permalink

    Really great deck build!

    I always want to build stuff like this, as playing magic for so long made me think this way about deck building, couple cards that look interesting and building a deck around the combo and any synergies between other cards.

    I find this background hampers me some though, as it seems like, and this is only in my experience of course, whenever I do something like this, I have a very small success rate, and often after a game or 2 switch back to more balanced non combo based decks, more just synergies decks

    It’s interesting that if you played MTG for years, it kind of molds your thinking about how deck building should work, but this game in particular has the whole hero thing and doesn’t allow (for the most part) big combos that draw through your whole deck or infinite damage loops. So I’ve had to reteach myself

    I’d be interested to find out how this deck works as it sounds really awesome. I was thinking the other day how I’ve only used Boromirs ability only once or twice in all the games, and it is definitely one of the coolest most thematic effects in the game

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