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Deck Spotlight: Aule’s Pride

by on December 18, 2013


Once upon a time there was a Zigil Miner. Powerful and gifted with the knack for finding precious minerals deep within the earth, he brought great riches to Dwarf, Man, and Elf alike. However, there were some who claimed that his abilities were simply too good to be true. There were some who claimed that only sinister forces could have gifted him with such great powers. The Zigil Miner was called home, his pickaxe hung above his mantlepiece, and he found himself consigned to an early retirement…That is until one day, when rumors of a hidden cache spread throughout the land, and the Zigil Miner set forth once more to reclaim the glory of days past.

Readers, I hope you’ll forgive one of my sudden moments of silliness, but I really couldn’t resist introducing this brand new deck, focusing on Dwarves and mining for resources, in such a manner. After the quite justified nerfing of poor Ziggy (the Zigil Miner) , he receded into the shadows (for those new players not aware of what I’m talking about, you can see the original text of Zigil Miner here). Zigil Miner has been a usable card since then, but his more moderate impact has kept him out of many decks. However, with the release of Hidden Cache in The Morgul Vale, Ziggy can emerge once more. Coupled with the appearance of Ered Nimrais Prospector in the same pack, I was immediately excited about the possibility of building a new type of Dwarf deck and a new type of miner deck, built around a strong set of synergistic cards. This is not the strongest of the possible Dwarf decks, as it omits Dain and powerhouses like Thorin. Instead, it is designed to do something a little different, and it works well in both solo and multiplayer play, although it will surely have a tough time against the anti-turtle, anti-hand size antics of Voice of Isengard, as this is a very much a turtling, draw-cards-by-the-handful kind of deck. Since Aule forged the Dwarves with his own hand, they have had a love for mining and crafting, and this Dwarf deck reflects that key aspect of Dwarven life quite well.

Deck List:


Hero (3)
Bombur (OtD) x1
Ori (OHaUH) x1
Oin (OtD) x1

Ally (26)
Bifur (OtD) x1
Dori (OHaUH) x2
Erebor Hammersmith (Core) x3
Erebor Record Keeper (KD) x3
Ered Nimrais Prospector (TMV) x3
Imladris Stargazer (FoS) x3
Zigil Miner (KD) x3
Longbeard Map-Maker (CatC) x3
Erebor Battle Master (TLD) x3
Kili (OHaUH) x1
Fili (OHaUH) x1

Attachment (12)
A Burning Brand (CatC) x2
Legacy of Durin (TWitW) x3
Protector of Lorien (Core) x2
Citadel Plate (Core) x1
Dwarrowdelf Axe (KD) x1
Resourceful (TWitW) x1
Unexpected Courage (Core) x2

Event (17)
A Test of Will (Core) x3
Daeron’s Runes (FoS) x3
Hidden Cache (TMV) x3
Stand and Fight (Core) x3
Well-Equipped (TBoG) x2
Will of the West (Core) x2

Theme: Mining for Resources and Discard Shenanigans

Spheres: Dual-sphere (Lore, Spirit, with a splash of Tactics)

Strategy: Unlike the simple and straightforward Rohan staging area attack deck that I spotlighted last time, this deck is quite complex and has a bunch of moving parts. To help you get to grips with those different aspects, I’ll separate them distinct functions:

* Dwarven swarm and draw: This part of the deck is no different than many of the other Dwarf decks that you may be familiar with that revolve around quickly getting Dwarf allies into play and drawing cards through Legacy of Durin. With Bombur around, all that is needed is a single cheap Dwarf ally in the opening hand to reach the crucial threshold of 5 Dwarf allies (Erebor Record Keeper is perfect for this purpose, but any of the 2-cost Lore Dwarves work as well). Once the 5 Dwarf minimum is reached, Oin gets his attack bonus and Tactics icon and Ori draws an additional card each turn. Legacy of Durin should be attached as early as possible, and this is a card that you want to see in your opening hand. Between Legacy of Durin, Ori, and ally Bifur, this deck can draw plenty of cards, and once the resource engine gets going, you should be able to pump out Dwarf allies fairly quickly. One word of advice: you don’t always have to use a card draw effect (except for Ori’s, which is not an optional response or action but a passive effect), and sometimes you will want to hold back on drawing cards. Because this deck has such strong card draw, I was able to include 1 or 2 copies of several cards instead of the usual 3, as this deck draws a good chunk of itself during the course of a game. Any excess cards in hand are never wasted, as they serve as Protector of Lorien fodder.

* Mining for resources: This is undoubtedly the most enjoyable part of the deck and the aspect that gives it its distinctive character. The crux of this part of the deck’s strategy revolves around getting Imladris Stargazer into play as early as possible. Her player deck manipulation is absolutely essential to facilitating everything else that happens. If you don’t get Imladris in your opening hand, then I would take a mulligan. In fact, this consideration acts as a limiting factor, as I would actually be fine with making this deck larger than it is, because of the draw and discard tricks, but I have kept it relatively small because I want to keep the chances of drawing Stargazer in my opening hand high. Once the Stargazer is in operation, you can use her to set up Hidden Cache in conjunction with Zigil Miner, Ered Nimarais Prospector, or one of the other discard options. This is this deck’s resource generation engine, which helps pay for the Dwarf swarm and everything else.

The Bombur tank: You can make those foes (and friends) who think Bombur is a joke eat their words once he becomes a true tank. With A Burning Brand and Protector of Lorien equipped, Bombur can fend off even some of the toughest enemies. In addition, Well-Equipped can allow him to take on Citadel Plate and possibly even Unexpected Courage for free, turning Bombur into a defender for the ages.

Oin and Ori do it all: With defense taken care of by Bombur, Oin and Ori can both take part in attack and/or questing. Readying effects, either through Erebor Record Keeper or Unexpected Courage, are essential to cover both areas of play, especially in the early rounds before the swarm has hit the board. A copy of Protector of Lorien, combined with the strong draw, can help either of these heroes be a stronger questing force.

In solo play, this deck will mostly be playing a stalling game during the first few turns, buying time for everything to get up and running. In multiplayer or dual-handed play, this deck will have more freedom and not have to turtle quite as much. Generally, it performs better in the latter situation, but it can survive pure solo play and with a few tweaks can even thrive in it.

How It Was Constructed: Mostly this deck was inspired by the release of Hidden Cache and Ered Nimrais Prospector in The Morgul Vale AP. Quickly, a nascent core formed around those two cards, as well as Imladris Stargazer and Zigil Miner. I decided to go with a strong emphasis on Dwarves, for thematic reasons, but I wanted to move away from using the Leadership sphere in general, and Thorin and Dain in particular. Since the cards I had chosen all hailed from either the Spirit sphere or Lore sphere, I decided to run with those two as my focus. Ori was a natural choice, because his card draw is such a strong ability. I chose Bombur as my second Lore hero for several reasons: I’ve never used him that much and wanted to give him a chance to shine, his ability would be helpful in getting Ori’s effect to trigger sooner, and I was inspired by his star turn in The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug (I won’t say much here for spoiler’s sake, but those who have seen the movie will know what I’m talking about). The choice of Spirit hero was a tough one, ultimately coming down to Nori vs. Oin. Oin ultimately won out because I wanted a hero with a stronger attack strength, since Bombur covered defense, and the ability to splash Tactics was intriguing. Oin’s inclusion allowed me to bring in the Erebor Battle Master, who could help bring some combat power to the table, which is otherwise somewhat lacking in this deck. The Dwarven allies pretty much picked themselves based on the chosen spheres and their synergy with other cards, and I included single copies of several attachments to make the most of Well-equipped. Finally, most of the events were chosen with an eye towards facilitating the miner combos or facilitating the drawing, discarding, and recycling of cards.

Possible Combos:

1) Zigil Miner + Imladris Stargazer + Hidden Cache: This is perhaps the core combination of this deck, and so satisfying to pull off successfully. Imladris Stargazer allows you to arrange the top 5 cards of your deck so that Zigil Miner can hit on both of the top 2 cards, gaining 2 resources. If you can arrange it so that one of the cards discarded by Zigil Miner is Hidden Cache, then that is an additional 2 resources. If you can arrange so that both are copies of Hidden Cache, then that is a windfall of 4 resources (plus the 2 from Zigil Miner itself). Thus, this combo can net anywhere from 2 to 6 resources. While Zigil Miner/Imladris Stargazer have been perfectly usable before, there is something about Hidden Cache that makes the combination far more enjoyable.

2) Ered Nimrais Prospector + Imladris Stargazer + Hidden Cache:: This combination works in essentially the same way, except Ered Nimrais Prospector only discards cards when it enters play, and does not generate resources on its own. Thus, you are looking at a net gain of from 2 to 6 resources with this combination (6 is a highly optimistic scenario, 2 to 4 is more typical). While you might wonder if Ered Nimrais Prospector is worth the effort, since Zigil Miner can do his job, an important thing to remember is that the Prospector can shuffle 1 card from your discard pile back into your deck, meaning that it is extremely helpful to recycle copies of Hidden Cache so that you can keep mining for resources. This is especially helpful if you draw a copy of Hidden Cache early on instead of discarding it. You can simply discard the Hidden Cache in your hand using Daeron’s Runes or Protector of Lorien (or use its own ability to draw a card), and then when Ered Nimrais Prospector comes into play, you can put that Hidden Cache back into your deck.

3) Well-Equipped + Imladris Stargazer + various attachments: Originally, I dismissed Well-equipped too quickly, and didn’t give it a fair shake. However, Well-Equipped works great in this deck, and is a fantastic way of getting attachments into play for free. Imladris Stargazer allows you to rearrange the top 5 cards of your deck so that you can make an attachment of your choice one of the top 2 cards. If Hidden Cache is there, you can make this the other card. Thus, you can potentially play an attachment for free and gain 2 resources from Hidden Cache, all for 0 cost, which is an amazing combo. The great thing about Well-Equipped, which I missed at first glance, is that it can allow you to put an attachment into play without a resource match. This doesn’t come into play much in this particular deck, but it is definitely something to keep in mind for the future. Citadel Plate, which is expensive, is a great target for this combo, and can be placed upon Bombur to make him into an absolute beast. Perhaps there are better choices available, but if you don’t crack a smile at the thought of Bombur sporting a Citadel Plate, then you have no soul. Another expensive attachment, Resourceful, is included as a target for Well-Equipped and further strengthens the resource generation theme (without dipping into Leadership and Steward of Gondor). The Dwarrowdelf Axe can be placed on either Ori or Oin to enhance their offensive capabilities, and can either be played once Oin gets his Tactics icon or through the use of Well-Equipped. Finally, Well-Equipped is also a great way to get those crucial copies of Unexpected Courage or A Burning Brand into play for free.

4) Will of the West + Hidden Cache: Once all those copies of Hidden Cache have been mined and used up, you can use Will of the West to shuffle your discard pile back into your deck. Will of the West is also important in this deck because so many cards are discarded during the course of a game that you will want to “refresh” your deck now and then.

5) Daeron’s Runes: This is not a combination per se, but a nice utility card. Daeron’s Runes serves several purposes. First, and most obviously, it helps to draw cards. Second, it serves as good Zigil Miner fodder. Third, it helps to discard copies of Hidden Cache that end up in your hand.

Variations: There are several different variations to this deck that are possible. The central Zigil Miner/Imladris Stargazer/Hidden Cache combination, along with some of the supporting cards, can be transplanted to a variety of other Spirit (and Lore) decks to provide a strong resource engine. If you are interesting in building this deck into a stronger solo force, then there are a couple of options available. Bombur can be replaced with Bifur to increase the starting willpower, although Bifur is a more fragile tank. However, once Bifur has the key attachments (Protector of Lorien, A Burning Brand) equipped, then he can serve equally well in that capacity, although you will also be losing Bombur’s ability. Another, more radical, alternative is to introduce Dain into the deck in place of Bombur. This makes the deck more akin to the traditional power Dwarf deck, but you can still have fun with the mining activities. It also can be an enjoyable exercise to experiment with different attachments in combination with Well-Equipped. Those who worry about being too dependent on Imladris Stargazer could introduce Gildor Inglorion and Elf-stone into the mix, but I haven’t found this necessary, thanks to the strong card draw.

Final Thoughts: As with the Ride to Ruin Rohan deck, this deck has the fun factor locked down. It’s also dripping with theme, as you will get in touch with your inner Dwarf every time you dig deep into the earth in search of precious gems and wealth. The great thing about this game is that, as new player cards are released, new possibilities for deck types are being continually opened up. Seemingly superfluous Dwarf cards, like Well-Equipped, Ered Nimrais Prospector, and Hidden Cache, help breathe new life into the Dwarf trait and provide support for “discard draw” decks of various kinds. With all this in mind, I’m looking forward to seeing what new cards emerge in the future to help support this archetype.


From → Deck Spotlight

  1. I love this deck. It looks like so much fun to play, and I can’t wait to give it a try.

    • Also, David Bowie is one of my all-time favorites, so I really appreciate the alternate name for this deck.

      • TalesfromtheCards permalink

        I think Zigil Miner and Imladris Stargazer have a promising future together in a Bowie cover band.

  2. Karlson permalink

    Wow, I really enjoyed reading this exciting new deck you came up with! After roughly six months of playing the game now, I would venture to say that Dwarves are my favorite group of Middle-earth adventurers to play as; so, this reading this particularly post was a real joy. I hope all those bearded folk are kind and respectful to Miss Stargazer, though.

    Oin, Ori, and Bombur are the heroes that I recently settled into using for my Tactics/Lore deck. Paired with another deck that features Thorin, Balin, and Nori, it has been an ongoing (yet still unrealized) goal of mine to get all thirteen Dwarf members of Thorin’s Company into play at once during a quest. My current record is 10, though, so I am hopeful that it will occur soon!

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      It is truly kind of the Stargazer to lend her abilities to this group of uncouth Dwarves. There have been some rumblings of a budding romance between her and Kili, but I dismiss that as hogwash.

      I think getting all members of the company on the board at once would certainly be an achievement. That’s a game in itself!

  3. Tracker1 permalink

    This looks cool. I’ll have to give it a try. Nice to see a new looking dwarf deck. Happy to see your getting Well Equipped to work. That’s a card I thought would never see the light of day.

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      I didn’t think Well-Equipped would be very useful, but it’s proved me wrong. It’s kind of interesting though that all these Dwarven combos are dependent on Imladris Stargazer. I wonder if we’ll ever see a Dwarven scrying effect.

  4. +1 for awesome theme deck, +1 for use of the word ‘nascent’.

  5. Glowwyrm permalink

    I got to try this deck out last night and it was lots of fun. In one game, I drew/mined through my deck twice! I made a few tweaks for solo play (and because I only have one core set) that worked well.

    Instead of changing heroes, I put in two copies of Untroubled by Darkness that were essential for big quest pushes. I also used Protector of Lorien on Ori more often than Bombur, so that I could stay afloat with willpower while I pumped out the dwarf army (which you mention).

    I only have one copy of Unexpected Courage, so I added a copy of Miravor. This addition made for another fun use of Well Equipped, which discarded a Miravor and Hidden Cahce, netting me four resources (two for HC, a free play of Miravor, and a resource from Miravor when I discarded it).

    This deck is also the first time I put a copy of The End Comes in a deck. I can generate an extra resource when it is discarded alongside Hidden Cache, and I can discard it without regret for Protector of Lorien. I doubt I’ll ever use the card, but since this deck type resurrected some other coasters, I had to give it a shot.

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      Awesome. I particularly like the use of the underrated little card, Untroubled by Darkness, but especially Miruvor.

  6. Gizlivadi permalink

    I love this deck! It looks pretty with all these dwarves that are not leadership. Great idea as well to use this mining combo for it. I don’t think Miruvor is underrated, and it shouldn’t be, it’s a great card. Also, I think spirit Bofur might be great for solo questing early in the game.

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      Thanks! I agree that Miruvor is probably not underrated. I meant that Untroubled by Darkness is an underrated card for Dwarf decks, depending on scenario of course.

  7. Matt permalink

    Awesome Deck!
    Did you mean to make it a 54 card deck?

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      Thanks! Yeah, the 54 card size was intentional. Usually, I go with 50 card decks, 52 at most, for consistency’s sake. With this deck though, I burn through the deck so quickly that I’m fine with including more cards to give me more toys to play with. I might actually be tempted to make it a bit bigger, but I want to keep the chances of drawing Imladris in my opening hand decently high.

  8. This is the kind of thematic fun I like to have in this game and I’ve been wanting to give this (and a ranger trap deck) a try since the new packs came out, but just haven’t found the time yet. Hopefully with the holidays upon us, I’ll get a chance! Thanks for the awesome write-up.

  9. hilariouslijah permalink

    This is awesome! I was looking for a use for the prospector and this is perfect.

  10. Mndela permalink

    Wow! Great deck! Lots of useless cards become very powerfull cards (and others could be add to it, for example Search Gandalf). I like it a lot because Stargaze and dwarf-decks return to play! I got tired of combo Stargaze-Zigil and powered-dwarfs, but this deck is different! I don’t sense that i’m playing powered-dwarfs, it can be played alone, without Dain neither Thorin.
    One more time: congratulations TftC!

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      Thank you! It’s nice that the designers have brought out some cards that allow players to build some different types of dwarf decks that don’t feel overpowered

  11. Mndela permalink

    With the Well-equipped card you could play Self-preservation on Bombur (like Citadel Plate)

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      That would definitely be a good choice for those quests that are heavy on archery and/or direct damage from the encounter deck.

  12. mndela permalink

    I need 4 rounds to play the combo Imladris-Zigil Miner. Is there any way to reduce the number of round to get this combo? I though about songs, or play Zigil first and try lucky…

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      I think it’s fine to play Zigil without Imladris for a bit. There’s enough retrieval and reshuffle through Will of the West that you can blindly mine for awhile. As far as getting Imladris out more quickly, you could cut down the deck size to 50 from 54. You could try Gandalf/Word of Command, but that might take just as long to set up! If you find yourself wanting more card draw, Expert Treasure Hunter is an excellent choice that I cut out of the deck because I felt like I had enough draw, but it could definitely help to get to those copies of Imladris/Stargazer more quickly.

  13. Robert permalink

    This article inspired me to build my own version of this deck, and man is it a blast. I ended up opting out of using Stargazer for theme, but honestly it didn’t hurt the deck one bit. I run a ton of weapon cards for dwarves and I’m always either getting them back into my hand with Erebor Weaponsmith or into play with Well Equipped. It’s not uncommon to mill through the deck twice for me (even with only one legacy of durin) so will of the west is in mine to get everything back and start it all over again. This is the type of dwarf deck I’ve been wanting to play the whole time.

  14. Phate999 permalink

    This is my take on this type of deck:

    Mining for Gold!

    Hero (3)
    Ori (OHaUH)
    Oin (OtD)
    Nori (OHaUH)

    Ally (28)
    Zigil Miner (KD) x3
    Bofur (TRG) x2
    Dwalin (OtD) x2
    Erebor Record Keeper (KD) x3
    Ered Nimrais Prospector (TMV) x3
    Erebor Hammersmith (Core) x3
    Miner of the Iron Hills (Core) x3
    Erebor Battle Master (TLD) x3
    Imladris Stargazer (FoS) x3
    Emery (TBoG) x3

    Attachment (9)
    Dwarrowdelf Axe (KD) x3
    Expert Treasure-hunter (OtD) x3
    Legacy of Durin (TWitW) x3

    Event (13)
    Stand and Fight (Core) x3
    Hidden Cache (TMV) x3
    Dwarven Tomb (Core) x3
    Untroubled by Darkness (KD) x3
    Will of the West (Core) x1

    On Journey down the Anduin, I hit the last enemy to win the quest for 15 attack + 1 direct damage with just one Battle Master. I had all three in play! So all three attacking at once would have done 14+14+15+1 = 44 damage. Plus I quest pretty well with Untroubled by Darkness.

    I think this deck may be more powerful (and versatile) than any Dain or Thorin deck I have seen or made.

    Nori keeps your threat pretty much stagnant and actually decreases it over time. If you have get 2 or 3 Expert Treasure-hunters in play and pick “Ally”…this rocks. Stargazer can move things to make Emery stay in play at times and she is a Valiant Sacrifice blocker to make use of the 3 copies I put in, mainly for the discard.

    So much card draw and recycling going with this build on it is actually hard to keep up with! Super fun. And actually works really well because one turn one you can play Zigil. Turn two hopefully Stargazer and a Lore Dwarf that costs 2. Then your machine is rolling. Just have to survive till around turn 3 and you are pretty much unstoppable after that. This is my new favorite deck.

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      I find the Dwarven mining archetype to be way more fun than the traditional Dwarven swarm power deck. I was a bit skeptical when the designers kept sprinkling Dwarf cards into the Against the Shadow cycle, but cards like Hidden Cache, Ered Nimrais Prospector, and Well-equipped add one important thing to the trait: fun factor.

  15. I used this deck last night in a three-player game of the Black Riders. Very fun to play, but perhaps a little too “fiddly” for that quest, meaning that you spend a lot of your actions drawing, discarding, and re-arranging cards, often for a marginal benefit. I later swapped out the Map-Maker for the new Blue Mountain Trader, and that seemed to help this deck get up and because you could do a little more resource smoothing be more helpful to other players. Great theme to this deck, and I hope we get a few more bits and pieces that will make it work a little better.

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      I agree. The deck is high on fun factor, but can definitely be fiddly, especially against quests that tend to hit you hard and fast.

      • Although I will say this is a huge step up from a complicated deck like the Love of Tales deck posted quite a while ago (see here: I played that one and had practically my whole deck in my hand by turn four, but it just didn’t do anything else!

        • TalesfromtheCards permalink

          Interesting. Generally, although I like experimenting and trying out all kinds of decks, I’m generally not interested in trying to maximize crazy combos to the point of drawing the whole deck, etc.

  16. mikepic permalink

    The new Dwarven pipe from the mumakil ap + the neutral dwarf ally that enters play when discared really (forgot the name) fits into a deck like this! I’m working on mine atm, but I don’t own the hobbit saga expansions.

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  1. Against the Shadow: Cycle Wrap-up | Tales from the Cards
  2. Surviving The Fords of Isen | Tales from the Cards
  3. Dwarrowdelf Campaign: Deck and Lore | Tales from the Cards

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