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Competitor’s Corner #2: Double Duty

by on July 24, 2013

Hello again, it’s IshallcallUSting. That’s right, I’m back. I do regret that it has taken me this long to get out a second article, but I was overwhelmed with unexpected responsibility, including replacing the transmission and clutch on my truck. Hopefully, all of that unpleasantness is now in my rear view mirror and I can dedicate myself to providing this worthy audience with top quality Lord of the Rings content. The following post is, I think, well worth the wait. You will surely let me know if I am wrong.

In this series, which I call “Competitor’s Corner”, we discuss two important topics. First, we discuss the aggro style of deck building–the style that tries to defeat scenarios in the fewest possible turns. Second, we discuss the development of the game in the context of competitive tournaments. Three weeks ago, I started things off with some introductory thoughts and I ended the first article with a challenge: Who could build the fastest deck against the “Hunt for Gollum” scenario?

In this article, I will take up these topics again and push forward on all fronts. I am going to run through deck building principles that focus on the aggro style, using the results from my challenge to illustrate some of the finer points. Then, at the end of this article, I will propose a bold new vision for a viable tournament format that just might succeed for this great game.

Aggro Deck Building 101

Have you ever noticed that most scenarios put the players in a hard spot right out of the gate? Generally speaking, experience teaches me to predict that the hardest part of any scenario will be right at the beginning. I then assume that the game will come down to a single challenge: Will I be able to stabilize the board situation or will I die? In other words, once I am able to stabilize, I relax; there is very little chance that I will now lose. Even if major challenges reveal themselves later in the scenario, I am confident that I will be able to breeze right past them because I have achieved such a dominating position. It seems that once a thinking human player is able to stabilize against an impersonal mindless quest deck, then that deck cannot break the player’s hold on the situation. Now, there are a few exceptions. In the Conflict at the Carrock scenario, a bunch of trolls fall on your head all at once and, if you are not ready, you can lose fast. However, as a general rule the pattern I have described is accurate.

So, if that is the case, then wouldn’t we optimally want to build decks that stabilize as quickly as possible? Well, surprisingly, it isn’t quite that simple. Sometimes, if you clear a board of enemies too quickly you achieve only a thin and weak level of control and one enemy with “surge” or a few harder than normal locations can suddenly send the situation back into dangerous chaos. Most decks will intentionally slow the pace of the questing down so that the players can take some time to draw cards or accelerate resource collection. These brief developments are worth the slower pace because eventually they allow whatever stabilization the deck achieves to stand more securely against a greater variety of threats. Every deck designer has to decide where to push for quickness and where to slow down for greater levels of control. There is a trade off between instant power and long-term top-end power. You can either have a high floor or a high ceiling, but you can’t really have both.

With that introduction, I have painted a picture that brings the topic of aggro style deck building into clear focus. So that you can understand further, let me illustrate by delving into a deeper analysis of on eminently important aggro card: Unexpected Courage.

The most frustrating thing about Unexpected Courage is the fact that there is only one copy in the Core Set. It is tempting to get a second Core just to have a second copy, but almost nobody has three. But let’s pretend that we all have three copies. Would it be a good idea to put all three in your deck? Well, that depends (of course), but let’s break down the factors. The card Cram–which has a similar effect–is commonly used, but Fast Hitch–the Unexpected Courage for Hobbits–is not nearly as popular. We can conclude from those card comparisons that if your hero has better stats (Hobbits are weaker), then the readying effect given by Unexpected Courage is more valuable–well duh. If you prefer going for weaker heroes supported by lots of allies–as in many Dwarf or Outlands decks–then you would much rather spend a precious deck slot on another valuable ally card, in which case Unexpected Courage doesn’t make the cut.

Yet Unexpected Courage seems so incredibly powerful. Why would you cut it for just another ally? Well, obviously, a person puts together a deck with weak heroes and lots of allies because that person believes that the sacrifice in starting position will be compensated by higher top-end power later in the game. If you compare Unexpected Courage directly with Erebor Battle Master, for instance, than you can see immediately how the first card boosts you in the short term at the cost of the long, while the latter card does the exact opposite. A deck that focuses on high stat heroes will use Unexpected Courage to clear the board quickly, but a deck that focuses on making sure that Erebor Battle Master has an impact will want to make sure there are as many dwarf characters as possible, hoping that lower stat heroes and more expensive ally cards will still be able to stabilize (perhaps a turn or two later) but after stabilizing, will be stronger.

Now let’s revisit the discussion of style and see how these observations regarding Unexpected Courage might make an impact. In my last article I said that there were three styles to deck building: control, combo, and aggro. Of those three styles only one–the aggro style–is interested in short term power at the cost of long term potential. The other two styles try to sacrifice speed at the beginning in order to eventually develop their board position into an unstoppable juggernaut of scenario crushing power. Now–to be fair–because most scenarios start in such tough spots (as I talked about earlier), all decks have to include a mixture of quick stabilization, so let’s not go overboard here. Unexpected Courage, and other aggro style cards, regularly show up in even the slowest decks, yet, in my opinion, most players try to avoid aggro cards as much as possible.

In this article we will resist that urge and instead try to see what happens when we sell out to the aggro style. How successfully can a player completely sacrifice long term potential in order to stabilize as quickly as possible? What other cards, besides Unexpected Courage, are there to support this style of play? How can you focus almost exclusively on questing, while trying to ignore threats until it is absolutely necessary? With that said I am now ready to introduce you to the deck I built for the Hunt for Gollum scenario and to discuss the challenge from my last article.

First, however, I need you to follow me down a little rabbit trail.

Power Cards

Now this is going off topic a bit, but I want to explore a comment from a recent article because it articulates so many important points. While discussing his reasons for designing decks, the author of the recent guest spotlight article, Landroval, said this:

This (building one deck to rule them all) was a personal quest of mine for quite some time. To be honest, I no longer enjoy this type of challenge at all. Primarily because true solo play is so restrictive/difficult, you end up relying on power Heroes/power player cards, seeing the same cards all the time and settling for lower win ratios etc. etc. This type of deck was traditionally restricted to Glorfindel (Sp)/Frodo/Aragorn (Lo), but now Hirluin and the Outlands are viable too. I no longer like playing like this. It’s the most challenging but also, for me, the most boring. I prefer to change my deck regularly.

That quote sums up much of what I feel and what I expect many other players and readers of this article feel as well. In fact, when I put forward my challenge in the last article I focused on one, and only one, scenario because I wanted to see what would happen with deck designs if we could all let go of the impulse to win every quest with the same deck.

I want to make more of a case for what Landroval is saying. When a deck has to beat everything, then it has to include ranged characters and healing for Journey to Rhosgobel, while it shouldn’t have 0 willpower characters because of Redhorn Gate. You have to make sure your deck fits these severe parameters even when you are not playing those particular quests, because if you don’t, then those few quests will just wreck you. Then they will stick in your mind mockingly, saying, “You didn’t beat us!” On the flip side, you also have to maximize those deck elements that are always good, like scrying and resource acceleration and avoid those things that are only good sometimes–like location control or discarding harmful conditions. I would really like to build a Dwalin-centered orc slaughtering deck, but if that deck has to beat everything, then I am out of luck.

Before moving on, however, I want you to focus on one specific phrase used in the quote–“power cards”. What did Landroval mean by that? He is free to comment, but I want to take a stab at defining it for myself. Power cards are those cards that are able to excel in all situations, because they don’t specialize in one unique skill which may or may not apply to a specific quest, like Eleanor or Dwalin. I am sure that Landroval also meant that the cards were highly effective at a low threat cost (efficiency). I agree, and I think everyone would agree, because it is an obvious point. What I want you to concentrate on is exactly why those cards are so powerful–why efficiency is so important. The answer is found in the aggro deck building principles which I am about to reveal for your pleasure.

The Hunt for Gollum Aggro Deck

I want you to see my deck with fresh eyes, even though there are clearly some “power cards” included, especially the heroes.

Here is the deck list:

Aragorn (Lore)
Glorfindel (Spirit)

3 Gandalf (OHaUH)
3 West Road Traveller
3 Arwen
3 Ethir Swordsman
3 Escort from Edoras
2 The Riddermark’s Finest
2 Unexpected Courage
3 Light of Valinor
3 Test of Will
3 Silvan Refugee
3 Ride to Ruin
3 Asfaloth
3 Ranger Spikes
3 Radagast’s Cunning
3 Strider’s Path
2 Fast Hitch
2 Protector of Lorien
3 Daeron’s Runes

Now this deck is narrowly built for the Hunt for Gollum scenario, so I don’t recommend it generally, but the deck does perform well against any location heavy quest in which there is no requirement to kill any enemies in order to achieve victory. For instance, this deck defeated Foundations of Stone on Turn Six. I will also say that I have built a similar “one deck to rule them all” type of deck on the same aggro principles described here, and that deck has beaten 29 of the 32 quests currently available. It couldn’t beat Battle for Lake-town (couldn’t generate enough attack power to kill Smaug), Siege of Cair Andros (Glorfindel’s lack of defense makes him useless in a siege quest), and Journey to Rhosgobel (just never got the lucky draw needed to heal the eagle, probably could beat the quest). If I get enough interest, maybe I will reveal that deck list as well.

The deck list presented here is not made in a mental laboratory; it was built as the result of massive playtesting. When a card proved too weak, even if I liked it, out it went. In the end, the weakest cards are Ride to Ruin and The Riddermark’s Finest, but I was unable to find other cards that were better. Here are some lessons in aggro competitive deck building that I learned from the experience.

1) Having powerful heroes is the most important factor in building an aggro style deck.

This is obvious because heroes are the only cards you don’t have to play. When you start the game, they are already on the table and it will be many turns before your other cards surpass the impact of the heroes. If you want to stabilize quickly, then heroes are clearly the key. I experimented with many other hero combinations, but the big three found here were just too good to pass over. Basically, they are overpowered. Even though I agree with Landroval, I decided to feed my inner Spike and say, “Nuts to my distaste for OP overused cards. I want the best!” Many people have discovered that this combination of heroes is exceptionally powerful, so this is no fresh or innovative news, but I hope I can interest you in understanding why they are so good. That leads us to…

2) The most important deck qualities to supplement aggro heroes are readying effects or de facto readying effects.

These are far more important than traditional sources of domination like card drawing or resource acceleration. The reason that Spirit Glorfindel is the best aggro hero in the game is because of Light of Valinor, period. That hero/attachment combination is simply broken (and in the Competitor’s Corner, that is a compliment). Before Light of Valinor, it was basically useless to have both 3 willpower and 3 attack, since you would normally only use one or the other each turn. Lore Glorfindel saw little play because his high threat cost wasn’t worth it; there just was not enough opportunity to actually use all his stat goodness. Readying effects allow large stats on a hero to be a boon instead of a burden, enabling the double duty of maximum questing, as well as combat, for quick stability. In like fashion, Frodo is a candidate for best hero in the game, but clearly he is even more dominant when used as an aggro hero. The reason why (which has already been well explored in this article) is because Frodo can exhaust to quest and then still effectively block any enemy in the game, because you can assign undefended attack damage to him. Talk about double duty, this makes Frodo the best blocking hero around! Finally, we have Aragorn, who has great stats, so that if you throw an Unexpected Courage on him, he will contribute nearly as much as Glorfindel or Frodo. He also provides Lore for access to some extremely powerful Lore aggro support cards. Oh, and his ability is pretty good too.

3) Overhill and Underhill Gandalf is essential in any true aggro build.

If you don’t learn anything else from this article, please, please, please trust me on this one. This version of Gandalf is absolutely incredible. I am not saying that it is better than Core Gandalf, because maybe you are building a combo deck and you need to draw cards, or a secrecy deck and you need to lower your threat level. What I am saying instead is that it depends on context. For aggro, OHaUH is better, by far. The only truly aggro effect of the Core Gandalf is dealing damage to an enemy in play, which–in my opinion–is his worst effect. The other two effects clearly make their impact by improving the long-term health of your position. Don’t be blinded by the fact that you discard Core Gandalf; he is not aggro. The OHaUH Gandalf, on the other hand, helps to stabilize the situation as quickly as possible, while also dedicating the most possible power to questing, something that Core Gandalf simply can’t do. The high cost for that quick power is paid in long-term threat danger. Again, this is counter-intuitive, because the OHaUH version sticks around, but trust me, the OHaUH is the more aggressive version of the great wizard. One of the best things about Gandalf in the post-HoN era is that it doesn’t matter if the quest has a battle or a siege keyword; he is still a boss.The best opening play for the deck listed above is Turn One Light of Valinor, Turn Two Gandalf. That allows you to quest for 9 with Frodo or 11 with Aragorn, while still being able to block anything and attack for 7 (without Aragorn) or 10 (with Aragorn). That is some serious power. Maybe some crazy Outlands plays with A Very Good Tale could get more questing and combat power on Turn Two, but that is far more unlikely. Practically speaking, there is no faster way to consistently achieve that level of power in the game. You just need to make sure you end the game quickly before his threat cost catches up with you.

4) Max questing is the best way to neutralize many dangers.

In the scenario Foundations of Stone, the third quest card causes you to discard all encounter cards in play. That means that if you have three or four enemies engaged with you, the best thing to do is just quest away. If you are able to advance then–poof–all those enemies are gone. It is the most effective board sweeping maneuver you can achieve. This same effect happens in the Hobbit quest, Over the Misty Mountains Grim. This effect rewards a deck that sprints past enemies instead of bothering to kill them. Now most quests do not have such an obvious effect, but if you don’t have to defeat an enemy as part of the victory condition (as in Massing at Osgiliath), then basically it’s the same thing. One quest in which this applies happens to be The Hunt for Gollum, which is why I rarely bother to kill creatures unless I absolutely have to (of course, when Glorfindel and Gandalf are standing there ready, then I might as well). In addition, every quest has at least one devastating treachery, so the fewer turns it takes to win, the less likely you are to see that card. This works even better than a cancel effect! Finally, and most obviously, speed is the best way to combat the dangers of threat level.

In short, while it is important to stabilize, often you can achieve even better results by just winning without bothering to clear the board. However, I would not recommend ignoring encounter cards when it comes to locations. If an aggro deck gets buried in locations, then it will lose. Enemies can engage you, locations cannot. While several enemies can be killed in a single round, only one location can be cleared away (making it harder to play with more players). If you sacrifice the long term potential of your deck–if you raise your floor while lowering your ceiling–then you may actually be incapable of questing at high enough levels to win. Remember, it isn’t just that you can’t clear the locations away. You may simply not be able to clear them away fast enough to win before your threat rises to lethal levels. Once that happens, the deck is dead. Because of the danger of land lock, it is important to sprint through locations to keep them clear. In that context, Strider’s Path is one of the best aggro cards available, and other location control cards, like Asfaloth, are especially important in an aggro deck.

5) Killing enemies in the staging area during the quest phase is one of the most impressive effects in the game.

Of all the lessons presented here, this is the one that applies to every style and player in every situation; it’s not just for aggro decks. However, I will say that when you are playing in an aggro style the effect is magnified. Think about all the benefits of killing enemies in the staging area. First, the threat of the enemy does not apply to the quest, allowing you to sprint quest even faster. The enemy does not engage you, so you avoid any Forced effects that trigger (like those from the Brigand enemies in Peril in Pelargir). You don’t have to worry about combat, so there is no need to block and you completely avoid any possible shadow effects that might wreck your deck (just check out the shadow effect on Sleeping Sentry in the Road to Rivendell quest to understand what I am talking about; that one shadow card can kill you dead). This all makes Ranger Spikes an almost overpowered card. It also means that aggro decks work extremely well when paired with combat decks that use cards like Hands Upon the Bow and Hail of Stones to kill enemies right as they come off the deck. You see, red decks can help out with questing!

Other Submissions

Now I want to say a quick word of thanks to Tracker1 and Gregory (I didn’t get a screen name), who submitted deck lists and descriptions for the challenge. Tracker1 submitted an Outlands deck, which he stated was not altered for the scenario specifically. I am not discussing that deck here, because it is more of what I would call a “combo deck”–working with Outlands synergy to create a very high level of power. I mention it because–in the interests of full disclosure–it did perform just as quickly as my deck on the Hunt for Gollum scenario, although after play testing both decks, I am very confident that over most games my deck has a better percentage chance of success.

Gregory submitted a legitimate aggro style deck that I found very interesting. His deck list is the following:

Hero (3):
Eowyn (Core) x1
Glorfindel (FoS) x1
Dunhere (Core) x1

Ally (26):
Gandalf (OHaUH) x3
Arwen Undomiel (TWitW) x2
Envoy of Pelargir (HON) x3
Escort from Edoras (AJtR) x3
Imladris Stargazer (FoS) x3
Silvan Refugee (TDF) x3
Zigil Miner (KD) x3
Ethir Swordsman (TSF) x3
Eomund (CatC) x3

Attachment (9):
Light of Valinor (FoS) x3
Thror’s Key (OtD) x3
Unexpected Courage (Core) x3

Event (15):
A Test of Will (Core) x3
Dwarven Tomb (Core) x3
Elrond’s Counsel (TWitW) x3
Hasty Stroke (Core) x3
The Galadhrim’s Greeting (Core) x3

I want to devote some time to analyze this quality aggro deck. Apparently, Gregory does have three copies of Unexpected Courage (or he was using a proxy or a computer program). Even though his deck slows the pace a tiny bit for the classic Stargazer/Miner combo (which is still amazing even after the errata nerf), as well as for The Galadhrim’s Greeting and Elrond’s Council (threat control), it was still crazy fast. This is mostly due to Eowyn, who doesn’t do much to stabilize the board against enemies, but who knows how to travel. Again, after play testing I think my deck is more consistently fast while being able to better neutralize threats, so I do not acknowledge defeat. I didn’t quite understand Dunhere as a hero, because the only enemies worth killing were too strong for him to kill in the staging area. It was probably just the fact that he wanted a mono Spirit deck and Dunhere has low threat. If so, I personally would have tried to include more Rohan synergy than just Eomund. I encourage Gregory to discuss his deck in the comments so I can get a better grasp on his deck building techniques. The most interesting inclusion for me was Thror’s Key, which proved surprisingly effective against lands like Gladden Fields and Necromancer’s Pass. I didn’t think it was good enough to make the cut in my final deck, but it was solid and worth further experimentation. The one card I would definitely axe would be Hasty Stroke. That is a scenario specific choice, and there are simply no dangerous shadow effects in the Hunt for Gollum quest. He could have included The Riddermark’s Finest instead (or several other cards) and make the deck slightly more consistent.

These are slight criticisms, however, and I was overall impressed with the deck. On the flip side, for instance, we see that he also included OHaUH Gandalf. This was a fine choice. He also included Ethir Swordsman despite having no other Outlands characters. This is classic competitor style deckbuilding–not caring about theme, just winning. I like it. The Swordsman is clearly worth including just for the cost to willpower ratio, but if two of them hit the board, it is downright crazy. Finally, he and I both included the Escort from Edoras and Silvan Refugee, even though technically that combination has bad synergy. The reason is simple: both cards are great for the scenario. If a conflict ever came up, I would save the Escort for the final push and then the drawback wouldn’t matter.

Just a quick side note: The inclusion of Thror’s Key made me curious about Thror’s Map and I play tested it for a bit. The pre-errata version of the map was overpowered because it was like Strider’s Path on a stick–infinitely repeatable. They had to tone it down for the overall health of the game. The new Thror’s Map is still good because you can use it to bypass heavy travel costs. This may make it seem not worth including in a high performance deck, but the card also combos well with Strength of Will to clear two locations in a single travel phase. That effect can be surprisingly good, especially when playing with two or more players when the ability to clear multiple locations in the same round can be critically important. It’s definitely worth further investigation.

With that, I will move on from discussions of deck building to explore the world of competitive tournaments.

A New Challenge

In the comments of my last article, I toyed with the idea of a new tournament format and I got a very positive response. I looked over all the comments and tried to get a feel for what people would like to see in any official competition. With that in mind, I am proposing the following five rules for a new style of tournament for LOTR LCG called “Hobbit Style”:Each competitor builds a tournament legal deck and supplies the required quest. Each deck has a sideboard of 15 cards and 3 alternate heroes and the players can modify their decks in between quests. The tournament can either include all teams of the same number of people or all solo players.

1) A quest pool of six quests is announced prior to the event. Each quest is also given a number for par. This number indicates the turn number on which a player or team is expected to defeat the quest. Finally, each quest is given a time limit in which players should reasonably be expected to complete a game.

2) Each participating player or team will play each of the six quests once and record the turn on which the quest is defeated. If the quest is not defeated, than the competitors will receive a penalty score of +10.

3) Scores are determined by comparing the turn on which the players defeat the quest to the par. Any competitor that finishes under par is given a negative score equal to the difference in turn number. Any competitor that finishes on a turn after par is given a positive score. The maximum score that a competitor can earn if they successfully defeat the quest is +7, but in order to achieve a +7 instead of a +10, the quest must be completed within the allotted time. The team or player with a lower total score after all six quests is the winner (or there can be multiple rounds and/or run offs).

4) Players are given one free mulligan of their own cards as per the standard core rules. In addition, players can elect to take additional mulligans at the cost of +2 to their final score for the quest. This penalty is not limited by the +7 cap, so that players who take this extra mulligan can earn scores of higher than +7 or +10. In like fashion, a player can elect to take a “reset mulligan” of the encounter deck before taking any action in the game, if the initial quest condition is deemed too challenging. In this case the encounter deck is reshuffled and the quest is set up again, while the player keeps his or her hand. Any damage to heroes or discard effects are cancelled as though the quest never started. The cost of a reset mulligan is +2–same as an extra mulligan.

Now these rules are not meant to be comprehensive or anything, just a good start. I would love to get feedback. In addition, I would love to try and run a tournament with these rules (or very similar rules) on this website. For that, I need some help. I need people who are willing to play, but I also need some testing and voting for quests and setting pars. Anyone who would like to help in this regard, please leave a comment in the comment section and/or email Tales from the Cards.

Until next time, delight yourself in the slaying of spiders,


I need this dress with Lord of the Rings map <3

  1. Tracker1 permalink

    I used to run a similar deck to the one you posted. It was my one deck to rule them all, with minor modifications, and it held just about all my top scores. That was until Outlands came along. There are hugh differences between the playstyle of an Outlands deck compared to Aragorn, Frodo, Glorfindel, which you did a great job describing. One of the main reasons that I was able to get low scores with the later deck was due to Aragon’s threat reduction ability, but the number of round it would take to beat a scenario would take longer, at least compared to outlands. For instance I can win Shadow and Flame with both of these decks, but with Outlands I’ve done it 4 rounds since the damage I can deal to the balrog often exceeds it’s HP in one or two attacks. But with the other deck I need to slowly chip away at the Balrog since the attack output is much lower. Same story with Battle of Laketown. Outlands destroy Smaug in a few turns, but with the Aragorn lore deck the only way I could win was if I got Old Thrush, and discarded cards to lower Smaug’s defense. I had to incorporate Shadows of the Past in this deck to make sure I could get the Thrush back in case it showed up as a shadow.

    So, I think this might have interesting implications for the tournament based on the # of rounds completed. Basically what I’m saying is that the two decks I’m describing might get a similar score in the end but outlands might do it in less rounds, where as Aragorn lore’s deck might do it in more rounds but have the threat reduction to lower the total score in the end.

    Although, that does not seem like that was your experience with THfG. But on other quest this could be the case.

    Anyway, I think the tournament rules look good. I’m interested to see how it goes.

    Just had a thought that might connect to what I was describing earlier. Is there a way to include the final score into the par +/- system your using. Let’s say something like an average score for a scenario is 80-89. If you got a score in that range you get no points. If you got a 70-79 you get -1 for your score, 90-99 +1 to your final score. It could be in increments of 5 or 10, whatever. Something like that though might account for these slower decks that finish with really low scores.
    Example, and then I’ll shut up.

    Outlands wins a scenario in 4 rounds and threat is at 42: score 82
    Aragorn Lore deck wins in 6 rounds and threat is 22: score 82

    See, if it is just based on rounds Outlands in this case might always seem to be coming out on top, but it’s not the whole story.

    Another thought: Maybe final threat at the end of the game can also be a par. Let’s say your starting threat of is 25. If you finish the game within +/- 3 of it you get no points. If you finished between 29-31 you get +1 point, 32-35 +2 points. Works the same way in the opposite direction.
    That or something like that might work.

    Maybe my suggestion might just make things more complicated.
    Sorry for the long post. I hope there is something of interest in it.

  2. ishallcallusting permalink

    Interesting input Tracker, I want to respond right away. Basically I have not been able to reproduce the kind of amazing results I get reported about Outlands. When I play I find that board sweeper effects and/or a lot of attacks disrupt the fragile synergy too easily and I can never get going. That being said, what you described makes me believe that Outlands is better in a scenario where killing an enemy is the focus. Another example would be Conflict at Carrock. My aggro deck takes forever to beat that quest because it takes a while to build up to be able to handle the trolls and then each troll has to be picked off one by one. I would assume that an Outlands deck would do much better. Essentially the aggro deck I described is more of a questing deck with just enough combat to scoot through. The advantage of the Outlands synergy is that once it hits critical mass it can do absolutely everything, including combat. I think that my deck is faster when, like I said in the article, you don’t have to kill anything as a victory condition. Your description seems to back that up.

    As far as your tournament suggestions go, I am open to any idea, but the things you put forward seemed pretty complicated. I would prefer as little paperwork or tracking as possible. I do not like the scoring system because it encourages players to do things that don’t really matter, like healing or lowering their threat level for no reason. The scoring system makes lore Aragorn overpowered and discourages people from running OhUh Gandalf, so they can play Core Gandalf to lower their threat when they are going to win anyway. I prefer a pure simple focus on the turn of victory because it is more elegant and there are no bizarre motivations. If that means that Outlands wins every time then that is a problem with the cardpool, not the rules, in my opinion.

    Hopefully by mixing up the quest styles we can reward a larger variety of decks. I have a Dwarf secrecy deck that is insanely powerful against many quests that my Big 3 deck struggles against, but it is too slow for most quests. We will have to play and see.

    Thanks for the comment.

  3. Bolivar permalink

    Interesting material. I want to share with you my idea of competitive play: player vs player.
    Primary players prepare encounters deck from all cards from for example Shadows of Mirkwood cycle. The players deck are standard deck.
    They can choose what they want, but cards ale limited to three copies, and unique cards are limited to one copy per deck.
    The players deck are standard deck.
    In my opinion best quest to try this is Journey down the Anduin.
    Players starts play using encounter deck prepared by opponent.
    After they finish they match their points, and then starts to play the same quest but using encounter deck prepared by themselves.
    If you fail to finish one of the quest you loose game to your opponent only if he succeeded all of his quest.
    If both players failed one quest but won another then player with less points wins the game.
    My proposition is in my opinion quite interesting, because you must think what is the most successful way to beat your own encounter deck, in the same time you must think about your own deck to be strong enough to win with your opponents encounter deck. This is the opportunity to think about cards in the way you never tried before.
    Sorry for poor English.


  4. Matt permalink

    I like your ideas for a tournament, and would be a willing guinea pig to test it out. However, I do have one question. How are the games going to be officiated? I’m not saying that anyone would deliberately cheat, but sometimes even the most experienced players can let card effects or rules slip without even knowing. I participated in a tournament a couple of months ago where the two players facing each other were logged into OCTGN as observers. If the idea is to go strictly by play reports, I think that there could be some potential for mistakes to be made that are game altering.

  5. gregory permalink

    So nice of you to give feedback on my build! In thinking Aggro I went w a monosphere build to make sure I had resources to pay for whatever I drew to my hand, also I was in a monosphere frenzy w some of the cards in HoN cycle really piquing my interest. Inclusion of miner and stargazer were for their cheap cost; in retrospect I would likely ditch them. They also were included due to an ally-heavy deck-building mindset that probably is not as effective in regards to this specific quest/challenge. BTW I have 3 cores, and all AP’s and expansions to date, including BoN and Dark Riders, which being a Hoosier boy I was fortunate enough to have only a two hour trek to fetch from GenCon! I’m sure the deck would change now w the expanded card pool.
    I also would not concede victory if I were you; I believe your deck to be well thought out and likely superior. It was a fun build for me, and I thought I’d get a 2-4 turn victory out of it. In testing it I didn’t fare so well though, I think turn 6 may have been my best, I don’t remember, it has been a month or more.
    I appreciate all the blogs and forums and was interested in the challenge. Even so, competitive play in my opinion has plenty of other arenas, and I’m not too interested in LoTR LCG tournament play, but that’s me. Thanks for the feedback! Cheers!

  6. sweetnesswhachacha permalink

    This article makes me want to consider the daunting task of building a deck for each scenario!

    I like this article because it looks at deck building differently.

    I’m interested to know what you mean by using thror’s map and strength of will to clear 2 locations. Unless you use completely other cards to deal with the former location which you could do without Thror’s map. This isn’t a criticism, I’m interested in seeing If I’m missing something (you mention this is post errata). Also, would strength of will work as I thought the point of Thrors map is that you don’t actually travel there? Or do you use it first, then Thrors map, and then legolas or something similar?

    Thanks for the well thought out article. Oh and I especially like the idea of a turn one light and turn 2 gandalf, seems like a monster ,I usually do the opposite and hold off a little on gandalf to put other utility and combo pieces out, but now I see that play as not as good. (Or maybe it is just not aggro) Interesting food for thought

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