Deck Spotlight: Spearman Superhero
In the most recent episode of The Grey Company podcast, which you can find here (I’m only slightly sheepish about this shameless plug), we discussed the Outlands trait. More specifically, we each took on the challenge of creating an Outlands deck that was unique or creative in some way. Here you will find the full deck list, along with a bit of explanation of the idea behind it and some basic strategy guidelines. I should say that this isn’t one of the most high-powered Outlands builds around, as it is designed more around a particular combo and the desire to make something different, but it can certainly hold its own, as with most Outlands builds.
Elrond (SaF) x1
Thalin (Core) x1
Hirluin the Fair (TSF) x1
Anfalas Herdsman (TSF) x3
Gondorian Spearman (Core) x3
Ethir Swordsman (TSF) x3
Hunter of Lamedon (HON) x3
Knights of the Swan (TSF) x3
Warden of Healing (TLD) x3
Warrior of Lossarnach (TSF) x3
Theme: Outlands, Ally Hulking, and Direct Damage
Spheres: Lore, Leadership, and Tactics
Strategy: This deck is built with a single goal in mind: to build up the Gondorian Spearman into a superhero. This requires a three-part process:
1) Get several copies of the Warrior of Lossarnach and Anfalas Herdsman into play. These will eventually serve the purpose of increasing the defense and hit points of the Gondorian Spearman up to 3 or 4.
2) Attach a Spear of the Citadel to the Gondorian Spearman. This will allow him to deal 2 damage each time he is declared as a defender.
3) Attach a Sword of Morthond to the Gondorian Spearman. This will give him the Outlands trait and allow him to benefit from the Outlands buffs.
These steps don’t have to be completed in this order, but they are all necessary to accomplish the ultimate objective of this deck. Once this set-up is finished, you will have a Gondorian Spearman that can defend with a strength of 3 or 4 and deal 2 damage each time, making it nigh indestructible against all but the toughest of foes. Since so much effort has been put into creating this powered up ally, it would be a shame to only get one action per turn. With this in mind, I have included 3 copies of Behind Strong Walls, which can allow him to defend twice in one turn, with an extra point of defense the second time around. That’s not the only readying effect, as I’ve also brought along Ever Vigilant, which provides an additional action for the Spearman for only 1 Leadership resource. It’s not all about readying, however. I also don’t want to see my precious Spearman destroyed, and this is where the Warden of Healing comes in, who will be even more effective thanks to Elrond. Finally, I couldn’t resist finding room for 3 copies of Goblin-cleaver, which will give a Spear-carrying Spearman the ability to inflict 4 points of damage with a single defense. Brutal.
Beyond the Spearman shenanigans, there also is a passable Outlands deck here. As with all good Outlands builds, your main priority is card draw, which helps with pumping out allies as quickly as possible. Since I didn’t run with mono-Leadership, I can’t take advantage of Lord of Morthond, so I have made use of Thalin’s presence to include King Under the Mountain instead. Men of the West provides insurance against situations where King Under the Mountain draws 2 Outlands allies and I have to discard 1 (as well as against generic ally destruction). However, this deck can struggle a bit in solo play with generating enough willpower in the early rounds, and there is a pressing need to get it going more quickly than even King Under the Mountain can facilitate (the deck works much better in multiplayer). Therefore, I have chosen to include one of the best forms of card draw from the perspective of pace: Peace, and Thought. This card is fantastic for Outlands decks, as by exhausting 2 heroes, I can draw an amazing 5 cards. The 3 copies of Cram in this deck can help compensate for the need to exhaust 2 heroes, which can be a tough ask in the opening stages of a game. Generally, the Steward of Gondor can go on either Elrond or Hirluin, with there not being much difference between the two, other than Elrond being able to pay for the Warden and Hirluin being able to pay for some of the non-ally Leadership cards. Once the Outlands allies are out on the table in numbers, not much strategy is required. Just exhaust and win.
How It Was Constructed: The deck really solidified around the one Outlands card that is somewhat fascinating to me: the Sword of Morthond. From there, I tried to think of a Gondorian ally that would be interesting in a buffed up form. While someone like Faramir or Denethor can certainly reach crazy stat levels with help from the Outlands trait, I wanted to pick an ally that could do something really interesting with those superpowers. This led me to the Gondorian Spearman. In his natural state, the Spearman is a valuable ally with a strong ability, but he has the natural limitation of low defense and a measly 1 hit point, which ensures that he either gets sacrificed as a chump blocker or can only be used in a limited set of situations and survive. Being able to bump him up to a higher level of defense with the Sword of Morthond seemed like a match made in heaven. Thus, the idea for the deck was born. The allies filled themselves in, while I chose attachments and events that either directly complemented the Spearman Superhero approach or facilitated general Outlands strategy.
Hero choice was a bit interesting. I knew I needed a Tactics hero to make the whole Spearman idea work, but it was difficult to pin down the right choice. In the end, I gave Thalin the nod for a few reasons. One, he has a relatively low threat. Two, he synergizes well with the Spearman, providing an extra point of direct damage. Third, he provides access to King Under the Mountain, which is an important consolation for the lack of Lord of Morthond. Beyond Thalin, Hirluin was an auto-include, while I find Elrond to be a strong counterpart for Outlands decks despite his high threat. His 3 defense serves as a good buffer in the early game, while his 3 willpower is essential for questing during the first few rounds.
1) Gondorian Spearman + Sword of Morthond + Spear of the Citadel: This is the central combination of the deck and what everything is based around. Usually, I shy away from 3-card combinations, but with the card draw in this deck, I can usually get it on the board fairly quickly.
2) Goblin-cleaver + Thalin + powered up Gondorian Spearman: The powered up Spearman deals 2 damage when he defends, while Thalin inflicts 1 on each enemy that is revealed during questing. Finally, Goblin-cleaver adds another 2 damage (3 if the enemy is an orc). Altogether, this is a grand total of 5, which can dispatch most enemies in the game before they can even attack!
3) Cram + Peace, and Thought: Cram is a versatile readying effect that can be used for many purposes. Here, however, its primary role is to make sure that 2 heroes are available to activate Peace, and Thought.
Variations: This is a pretty specific deck, so there aren’t a ton of variations available. However, there is definitely some wiggle room in the choice of heroes. If you are looking for a lower starting threat, you can certainly replace Elrond with a different Lore hero. Just keep in mind that you will be missing out on willpower and resource flexibility. Substituting another Tactics hero in for Thalin is another possibility, but I wouldn’t recommend it. If you’re interested in making this deck a bit less gimmicky and more focused on straight-up power, then you can take out the Spearman-centric cards, like Goblin-cleaver, Ever Vigilant, and Behind Strong Walls, and replace them with more universally applicable effects.
Final Thoughts: The Spearman Superhero deck is designed to provide an interesting twist on Outlands, and it succeeds in that respect. It can be extremely powerful in multiplayer games, as the Gondorian Spearman has sentinel and can defend across the board. In addition, other decks can provide some questing and combat cover for this deck until it really gets going. As a solo deck, this build struggles a bit in the first few rounds with generating enough willpower for questing. Once you get some Ethir Swordsman on the table though, everything starts to take off. While I am generally reluctant to play Outlands, I do like the idea of using the Sword of Morthond to create some intriguing interactions, and that is something that can be expanded upon by other players, especially as additional Gondorian allies emerge in the future.