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TftC Mailbag: Deck Building #4

by on October 25, 2013

bilbo mail

If you’re reading this article, then you’ve successfully made it to yet another Friday! While the first few mailbag articles have centered around reader questions regarding help with initial deck building, today’s e-mail focuses on a very specific deck request. It also sheds light on an article that fell through the cracks (perhaps into the flames of Mt. Doom) in those early days when this blog was first starting. Let’s let the mail speak for itself:

I have an eagles deck that I really enjoy playing, but have not found the right lore/spirit deck to complement it. I was reading your article on your eagles deck (our decks look similar enough), and was excited when I read the lines “That means that this deck is built with the idea that it needs to be paired with another deck to compensate for its weaknesses. I will share that particular deck in the next spotlight (it is a Lore/Spirit questing deck).” I looked for the deck in your “Card/Deck Spotlights” section but cannot find it. Would you mind sharing this deck with me, or point me to where the list is housed?

Well, I messaged this reader back letting him know contritely that the Lore/Spirit counterpart deck I mentioned in the Eagles spotlight never materialized into an article. Fortunately, the deck does indeed exist somewhere, safely stored on CardGameDB, and I used it quite a bit back in December when that piece was written. Of course, that means it is slightly dated in terms of some of the cards used (if I remember correctly, that would’ve included everything up through Heirs of Numenor), but here’s what that Lore/Spirit deck looked like then:

Hero (3)
Frodo Baggins (CatC) x1
Glorfindel (FoS) x1
Elrond (SaF) x1

This is a pretty classic hero combination of Glorfindel and Elrond, with Frodo around to soak up damage or quest. Since the Eagles deck is relatively weak in willpower, these three heroes can pick up much of the slack. A starting threat of 25 is perfectly respectable for this type of build.

Ally (23)
Bofur (TRG) x2
Escort from Edoras (AJtR) x2
Gandalf (Core) x2
Gildor Inglorion (THoEM) x1
Miner of the Iron Hills (Core) x2
Northern Tracker (Core) x2
Rider of the Mark (RtR) x2
West Road Traveller (RtM) x2
Arwen Undomiel (TWitW) x2
Warden of Healing (TLD) x2
Imladris Stargazer (FoS) x2
Master of the Forge (SaF) x2

A well-balanced batch of heroes that was designed to fill a wide variety of support roles: removing condition attachments (Miner), location control (Northern Tracker, West Road Traveller), healing (Warden), player deck manipulation (Imladris Stargazer, Master of the Forge, Gildor), and a ton of just pure questing power. Even in today’s card pool, this is a pretty decent selection of allies.

Attachment (15)
A Burning Brand (CatC) x2
Song of Wisdom (CatC) x1
Unexpected Courage (Core) x2
Song of Travel (THoEM) x1
Light of Valinor (FoS) x3
Asfaloth (FoS) x2
Vilya (SaF) x2
Fast Hitch (TDM) x2

A Burning Brand and Unexpected Courage transform Elrond into an all-dancing, all-singing, defending, questing, card-pumping machine. Light of Valinor and Asfaloth, also known as Glorfindel’s toys, can help take care of questing and locations. With Fast Hitch, Song of Wisdom, and A Burning Brand, Frodo can become one of the best defenders in the game. For experienced players, this set-up may seem like old hat, but it was still pretty new at the time, and gets the job done just as well almost a year later. 

Event (14)
A Test of Will (Core) x2
Gildor’s Counsel (THoEM) x2
Hasty Stroke (Core) x2
Radagast’s Cunning (Core) x2
Secret Paths (Core) x2
Strider’s Path (THFG) x2
Elrond’s Counsel (TWitW) x2

Again, these events help this deck fulfill a support role, covering for the combat-focused Eagles build. A Test of Will/Hasty Stroke provide classic cancellation, while Radagast’s Cunning/Secret Paths/Strider’s Path facilitate questing in a powerful way. One of my favorite cards here, which I haven’t used as much lately, is Gildor’s Counsel, which works fantastically well with two decks. Revealing one fewer encounter card makes a far more significant impact than it might seem at first glance.

Since this deck was created awhile ago, and even though I think it can be used as-is and it will work well, I’ve decided to also provide a new version of a Lore/Spirit counterpart to a combat-focused Eagles build. Here it is:

Hero (3)
Frodo Baggins (CatC) x1
Glorfindel (FoS) x1
Elrond (SaF) x1

Ally (20)
Escort from Edoras (AJtR) x3
Gandalf (Core) x2
Gildor Inglorion (THoEM) x1
Miner of the Iron Hills (Core) x2
West Road Traveller (RtM) x3
Arwen Undomiel (TWitW) x2
Warden of Healing (TLD) x3
Imladris Stargazer (FoS) x2
Haldir of Lorien (AJtR) x1
Northern Tracker (Core) x1

The main changes I’ve made here are to remove the Master of the Forge in favor of other forms of card draw, as well as the addition of a copy of Haldir to take advantage of Vilya’s free play ability. I’ve also altered the quantity of certain cards. I completely removed Rider of the Mark, which was motivated more by the desire to make room for other cards than out of any dislike for that card itself. Indeed, it can play a useful role in helping the Eagles deck with shadow effects, and provide a boost of willpower to it in situations where this is called for, but it was simply surplus to my needs here.

Attachment (16)
A Burning Brand (CatC) x2
Song of Wisdom (CatC) x1
Unexpected Courage (Core) x2
Light of Valinor (FoS) x3
Asfaloth (FoS) x2
Vilya (SaF) x3
Expert Treasure-hunter (OtD) x3

I removed the Song of Travel, which seemed superfluous, as well as Fast Hitch  (with Light of Valinor and Unexpected Courage around, extra readying seemed a bit excessive, although I think the Fast Hitch does have a part to play). This allowed me to introduce some card draw, which I think was the main weakness of the original version of this deck. Expert Treasure-hunter is a cheap and potentially powerful form of draw, especially in a deck that contains Imladris Stargazer. With 2 or 3 copies in play, the Stargazer arranging the deck, and a trio of strong questing heroes, an extra 2 or 3 cards per turn is not difficult to achieve.

Event (14)
A Test of Will (Core) x3
Gildor’s Counsel (THoEM) x2
Hasty Stroke (Core) x3
Radagast’s Cunning (Core) x2
Strider’s Path (THFG) x2
Elrond’s Counsel (TWitW) x2

Here, I was able to take advantage of having a second Core Set to build from, compared to the single Core Set I used to build the original version, which allowed me to up the quantity of A Test of Will and Hasty Stroke. I cut out Secret Paths to make room for these, which shouldn’t hurt too much as I still have Strider’s Path to cover the same function.

I would hesitate to say that this new version is clearly better than the old one. Rather, I will cowardly sit the fence and say that they are simply different, and would probably perform differently depending on the quest. However, both are designed to work in tandem with a combat-focused Eagles deck, and so will hopefully provide a useful jumping off point to this reader, as well any others out there with a similar question. I hope that there are no other articles that I promised in the past that have yet to emerge, but if there are, please let me know! And, as always, don’t hesitate to click that Contact TftC button if you have a question of your own. It may just end up in a TftC Mailbag article in the future!

That concludes this week’s mailbag. In the coming days, I will be able to announce a very exciting new project that I’m involved in, but mum’s the word for now. Readers, what decks have you found that work well with Eagle builds? Which version of my Lore/Spirit deck do you prefer, the old or the new?

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4 Comments
  1. I made a very similar deck with the exact same heroes to run along side my eagle deck! I noticed that you said it was a “classic combination”, but I’m glad to say that I found it on my own. Anyway, these decks work very well together.

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      I should specify that Elrond-Glorfindel is a “classic combination”, but adding in Frodo is not necessarily a common arrangement, at least that I know of, but it’s definitely an effective one!

  2. Eric Johnson permalink

    This may be covered elsewhere, but I’ve noticed your decks often will only contain one or two copies of a particular card, even non-unique ones. I used to play MtG a long time ago, and a good rule of thumb to follow back then was that if a card wasn’t good enough to include 4 times, it wasn’t good enough to include because you wanted to increase the certainty in your deck as much as possible. Is this different in LOTR because of the relatively slow pace of the game and/or abundant card draw? Just wondering the rationale, as maybe I have been doing it wrong so far as it were. Thanks!

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      That’s a good question, and there isn’t really one right answer. At the risk of generalizing too much, I think LOTR LCG players split along the lines of consistency vs. variety. Some players really just want a small, tight set of cards that will consistently emerge, and go with 3 copies of everything. Others prefer to include some cards in 1-2 copies, because, as you mentioned, there are plenty of card draw options, and you can safely include a variety of cards with the knowledge that you will draw most of what you need. It is also heavily dependent on particular decks, whether you’re playing solo/multiplayer (i.e. you might need more variety when playing solo and having to take care of everything yourself), the scenario involved, etc.

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