A Look At Hobbit Saga Decks
This will be an appetizer-sized post, meant to hold you over until I finish preparing the main courses. One of the things I meant to get around to a few weeks ago was posting a pair of decks that I used successfully against all six of the Hobbit box quests in a grand Saga campaign (that is, I played all quests included in the two Hobbit Saga Expansions in order using the same decks). I did not change any cards between quests, other than to add in the treasures that I had appropriately earned. Hopefully, these decks can give you ideas if you are struggling with particular quests in these Saga Expansions. This was one situation where I did not feel guilty at all using Dwarves, as it seemed thematically inappropriate to use any other kind of decks. While my main goal was to maximize the effectiveness of these decks, with a particular eye towards balance since the types of challenges you face can vary dramatically from quest to quest, I did keep an eye towards theme, and even crafted a few logical explanations for deviations in my head. Well, without further ado, here are the successful Hobbit Saga decks, that were able to make it there and back again and live to tell the tale!
Hobbit Saga Deck 1: Thorin and Dain Company
A Very Good Tale (OHaUH) x3
Durin’s Song (KD) x3
Lure of Moria (RtR) x3
Radagast’s Cunning (Core) x2
Secret Paths (Core) x2
The Story: In this alternate history, Thorin Oakenshield manages to convince Dain Ironfoot to accompany him on the quest to Erebor. Immediate arguments ensue as to who deserves the title of Most Important Dwarf. Despite these frequent clashes between the two, the company benefits from having such a fierce warrior and respected leader along for the journey. For one, Dain convinces them that it might be a good idea to have an actual plan for dealing with the dragon (+1 willpower indeed).
The Strategy: The plan is simple: chug out Dwarves as quickly as possible, aiming to reach the magic number of five within the first two rounds. The Fili/Kili combo, as well as the 1-cost Erebor Record Keepers are ideal for this purpose, and I will usually mulligan to make sure at least one of these avenues is available. Once there are five Dwarves on the table, the deck kicks into overdrive with an extra card each turn from Ori, and an extra resource for Thorin. The card draw engine is formidable, with King Under the Mountain, Legacy of Durin, and Bifur making sure that Dwarf allies come out fast and furious. Resources usually flow freely as well, when you consider Steward of Gondor and Thorin’s ability are both on the menu. Because of this wealth in terms of cards and resources, We Are Not Idle is not necessary. This is a balanced deck, that can quest extremely well, whether it is traditional questing or a battle or siege. It also can handle almost any combat demands, but this is mostly because of the amount of characters that are in play, providing many potential chump blockers and high attack potential through swarming.
Hobbit Saga Deck 2: Gimli Smash
Bofur (TRG) x2
Defender of Rammas (HON) x3
Dwalin (OtD) x2
Erebor Battle Master (TLD) x3
Escort from Edoras (AJtR) x2
Vassal of the Windlord (TDM) x3
Veteran Axehand (Core) x3
Winged Guardian (THfG) x3
The Story: A young Gimli decides to tag along with his father, Gloin, and won’t be denied the opportunity for adventure despite his father’s misgivings. This deck also sees some of the Eagles helping out when they are needed most. There are a couple of thematic misfits here: Defender of Rammas and Escort from Edoras. My predilection for alternate timelines fails when it comes to figuring out an explanation for their presence, but perhaps our FFG-created friend Thalin is friends with Men from Gondor and Rohan and brought them along for the ride. Then again, maybe their assistance was bought with the promise of Dwarven gold (although Thorin being willing to share Erebor treasure with non-Dwarves is about as likely as Sauron sitting down for afternoon tea with Gandalf).
The Strategy: This is in many ways designed to support the Thorin and Dain Company deck. While that deck can function well on its own in solo play, the Gimli Smash deck can cover for a few weaknesses: lack of treachery/shadow cancellation, lack of readying effects, and a lack of raw combat ability before the Dwarf swarm gets rolling. The inclusion of Spirit here allows for Hasty Stroke and A Test of Will to make an appearance, which can make all the difference against some of the nastier treacheries and shadows found in the Hobbit quests. It also brings in Unexpected Courage, which can keep Dain ready at all times and still give him the opportunity to defend when necessary (I also found space for Ever My Heart Rises, which is non-essential, but can get some joy in a couple of quests to help ready Thorin). The raw questing power of the Thorin and Dain company means that this deck can focus on combat, and with Gimli, Erebor Battle Master, Vassal of the Windlord, and Khazad! Khazad! around, few enemies stand a chance. Meanwhile, Winged Guardian, Defender of Rammas, and Dwalin fill defensive needs. Finally, Escort from Edoras is in the deck to inject some willpower when necessary early on in games or when the staging area gets clogged.
That’s it for now. Although we’ve been fortunate enough to see the Against the Shadow cycle begin, don’t forget to spare a thought for those Hobbit Saga Expansions. I hope you all enjoyed the starters, just remember to leave some room for both dinner and supper!