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TftC Mailbag: Deck Building #7

by on October 10, 2014

bilbo mail

In last week’s mailbag, I helped a reader construct a deck from a limited card pool that could be successful against The Black Riders campaign. However, that same reader also had asked about deck building assistance for Siege of Cair Andros as well. There are varying schools of thought when it comes to building a deck for one specific scenario. Some prefer to build decks that can take on as broad an array of scenarios as possible, while others prefer the subtle tinkering and tweaking of decks to meet the specific needs of each quest. As with many areas of the game, I tend to be an “all of the above” type of player, in that I both build decks that are designed to tackle anything that might come my way and decks that focus in on one scenario in particular. While some players might dislike the idea of building with only one quest in mind, I actually find this kind of challenge an intriguing puzzle that helps to keep the game fresh. With a more limited card pool, I also find the need to deck build for specific quests even more pressing, at least for the more difficult ones, as trying to fashion a “one deck to rule them all” is understandably a bit more challenging with fewer cards available. I have found that this has become even more true from the Heirs of Numenor expansion/Against the Shadow cycle onwards, where quests have become increasingly demanding of a specific focus. This is best exemplified by the battle/siege mechanic, but is by no means restricted to it.

With that in mind, I took on the challenge of unlocking the Siege of Cair Andros with a limited card pool. As a reminder, the original message from the reader was as follows:

Hello, are you still doing the TftC Mailbag?  I have one copy of the Core set, Heirs of Numenor, The Steward’s Fear, The Druadan Forest, Encounter at Amon Din, Assault on Osgiliath, and The Black Riders and was wondering if you could make a deck that could beat the Siege of Cair Andros and a deck that could perform well at the campaign.  Please avoid using EaAD Pippin and Mirlonde (as much as I know you like Lore). 

The Siege of Cair Andros can be quite difficult solo, even with a complete card pool. It focuses heavily on the siege form of questing, which, in my opinion, can be the most difficult, as it forces you to devote your best defenders to questing, leaving them exhausted by the time it comes to combat. At the same time, this scenario features some extremely tough enemies that you need strong defense to handle. This puts a premium on including characters with high defense and readying effects that can allow them to both quest and defend. At the same time, cards like The Master’s Malice punish dual and tri-sphere decks, so mono-sphere builds tend to be the most successful against Cair Andros. I had previously built a mono-Tactics deck with a high success rate against the quest, using Boromir, Legolas, and Beregond. The idea was that Beregond could use his high defense to quest, while Boromir (especially with Gondorian Shield) could participate in questing, as well as attack and defense. Legolas was there mostly on clean-up duty to actually kill enemies, which would of course add more progress to the quest as well. However, since this reader did not have access to Boromir, I would have to do without that key component. However, I still wanted to keep to the mono-Tactics approach, with some trepidation as to whether this would be possible or effective with fewer cards available in the sphere. The end result was this:

Here’s the deck I designed for Siege of Cair Andros:

Hero: (3)
1x Beregond (Heirs of Numenor)
1x Legolas (Core Set)
1x Gimli (Core Set)
Ally: (25)
1x Beorn (Core Set)
3x Defender of Rammas (Heirs of Numenor)
3x Gandalf (Core Set)
3x Gondorian Spearman (Core Set)
3x Knight of Minas Tirith (Assault on Osgiliath)
3x Knights of the Swan (The Steward’s Fear)
3x Veteran Axehand (Core Set)
3x White Tower Watchman (The Drúadan Forest)
3x Envoy of Pelargir (Heirs of Numenor)
Attachment: (14)
3x Book of Eldacar (Encounter at Amon Dîn)
3x Gondorian Shield (The Steward’s Fear)
1x Horn of Gondor (Core Set)
3x Spear of the Citadel (Heirs of Numenor)
2x Dwarven Axe (Core Set)
2x Citadel Plate (Core Set)
Event: (11)
3x Behind Strong Walls (Heirs of Numenor)
2x Feint (Core Set)
2x Quick Strike (Core Set)
1x Swift Strike (Core Set)
3x Gondorian Discipline (Encounter at Amon Dîn)
I’ve found mono-Tactics to give you the best chance for beating Siege of Cair Andros solo. I have a Boromir, Legolas, Beregond deck that can destroy it pretty consistently, but in the absence of Boromir, I’ve found Gimli to be a solid replacement. He lacks the action advantage, but has solid defense for questing, and with all the archery floating around, can boost his attack to deal with tough enemies. To make up for the lack of readying, I’ve thrown in Behind Strong Walls, and the Defender of Rammas is amazing for siege questing. Still, many times you’ll have to use all your good defenders for questing, and Behind Strong Walls can’t ready them, so I’ve included Feint and Quick Strike as ways to handle enemies before they can attack, with the Book of Eldacar to recycle them as needed. 
The allies are just a solid assortment of characters with decent attack and defense. This deck should definitely work well against the scenario, but let me know if you have any specific questions about it. Enjoy!

While the battle and siege mechanics are not everyone’s cup of miruvor, I actually really enjoy them and think they add a lot to the game by substantially changing up deck building and in-game decision-making. These keywords also make mon0-Tactics decks, like the one here, actually capable of consistent success. In terms of building the deck here, the lack of Boromir actually made for some interesting deck building decisions. Without easy access to readying through Boromir, and with Tactics quite poor in that department otherwise, I had to find a way to be successful against this scenario without substantial action advantage. The main method I hit upon was to emphasize attack cancellation through Feint, Quick Strike, and the Book of Eldacar to recycle those two events, as this allows defenders to participate in questing without leaving the deck completely vulnerable. This illuminates the fact that attack cancellation can actually serve as a form of de facto action advantage/readying, given the right circumstances. Gimli is a useful, if imperfect replacement for Boromir, as his well-balanced stats allow him to contribute meaningfully to siege questing and attack, while he can soak up archery damage and then unleash destruction with Quick Strike. All told, this deck performs quite well against Siege of Cair Andros, with the limited card pool demonstrating that there is more than one way to skin a Warg. This is a fact that is easy to forget, as the path of least resistance is simply to get stuck in one’s own deck building comfort zone and favorite cards over time.

I hope today’s installment of TftC has been useful. As always, feel free to share your own responses to these questions in the comments below, as there are many avid deck builders that frequent this blog and can contribute some valuable advice of their own. Remember, if you have questions of your own, click on the Contact TftC! button above, and you might be featured in the next TftC mailbag. Enjoy your weekend!



From → TftC Mailbag

  1. Glowwyrm permalink

    Nice article. Limited card pools can present interesting challenges. Speaking of which, have you tried saga expansions (any of them) with just the core set and saga cards? Could be an interesting challenge. But I think outside of Black Riders it would be very challenging.

  2. sweetnesswhachacha permalink

    Definitely in the top 5 most difficult quests. I personally like to spoiler free try to beat them on my own without any help, but after that it sure is cool to see how other people tackle a given quest! This and your article on Ithilien road were definitely interesting!

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