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Deck Spotlight: Where Eagles Dare #2

by on February 25, 2015

where eagles

More than two years ago, I wrote the very first Deck Spotlight for this blog, focusing on an Eagle build. This reflected of course the current stage of the card pool at that time, as well as my enjoyment in using an Eagle deck as one hand of a successful two-handed jaunt through Khazad-dum and the Dwarrowdelf cycle. Despite some people’s protestations to the contrary, Eagles can do quite well in the cramped confines of Moria, thank you! However, two years is a vast amount of time in the life of a Living Card Game, and thus it makes sense to look from time to time at updating some of these older decks. This can be a fun exercise in seeing how the card pool has grown over time (as well as how I have developed as a player) and can also hopefully give you something new to try out in an upcoming game.

Version 2 of the “Where Eagles Dare” deck features Prince Imrahil, Eomer, and Mablung. The first two heroes are natural partners, given that they both feature abilities centered around characters leaving play. Since the whole Eagle archetype is also built around the idea of characters leaving play, whether we’re talking about Vassal of the Windlord, Winged Guardian, or Born Aloft, the idea of choosing Eomer and Imrahil as the heroes in an Eagle deck is natural. However, the third hero, Mablung, is where things really start to get interesting. The primary problem with Eagle decks has always been the cost of some of the key cards involved. Descendant of Thorondor, for example, is a fantastic source of direct damage, but costs four resources, as does the potentially game-changing Eagles of the Misty Mountains. Two strong unique Eagles, Gwaihir and Landroval, are available, but each costs five. Support of the Eagles allows heroes to really synergize with the Eagle allies, but it is on the high end of the cost scale of attachments, requiring three resources. Mablung provides a neat solution to this problem by generating resources through engaging enemies.

Deck List:

Hero (3)
1x Éomer
1x Mablung
1x Prince Imrahil

Ally (25)
3x Squire of the Citadel
3x Errand-rider
3x Descendant of Thorondor
3x Eagles of the Misty Mountains
2x Gwaihir
2x Landroval
3x Vassal of the Windlord
3x Winged Guardian
3x Gandalf

Attachment (15)
3x Gondorian Shield
3x Horn of Gondor
3x Rohan Warhorse
3x Support of the Eagles
3x Firefoot

Event (10)
3x Sneak Attack
3x Valiant Sacrifice
3x The Eagles Are Coming!
1x Grave Cairn

Total Deck Size: 50

Expansions Needed (13): Voice of Isengard, The Nin-in-Eilph, A Journey to Rhosgobel, The Blood of Gondor, Heirs of Numenor, The Hills of Emyn Muil, Return to Mirkwood, Trouble in Tharbad, The Dead Marshes, The Hunt for Gollum, The Steward’s Fear, The Dunland Trap, The Watcher in the Water

Theme: Allies Leaving Play, Attack/Defense Boosts, Readying, Resource Generation

Spheres: Tactics/Leadership (approximately 2/3 Tactics and 1/3 Leadership, but heavily slanted towards Tactics)

Solo or Multiplayer?: Multiplayer due to a lack of questing power

Strategy: This is generally not a tricksy deck, but rather one that focuses squarely on dealing with enemies in the most straightforward way possible. Eomer is the primary attacker and can become an amazing force in this deck. With Support of the Eagles, Vassal of the Windlord, and Firefoot in play, Eomer can attack for 8 (10 if an ally leaves play). Firefoot then allows him to spill some of this damage over. In terms of defense, chump blocking is a heavy theme given the focus on allies leaving play. However, both Mablung and Imrahil can serve as viable defenders, especially with Gondorian Shield and/or Support of the Eagles. Even questing is not completely out of the question, as Imrahil can contribute two and then ready later when an ally leaves play, while Mablung can contribute two as well.

Support-of-the-Eagles

In terms of getting everything setup, the resource generation engine of Mablung combined with Horn of Gondor and allies leaving play can be quite formidable and should allow Eagles to hit the table quickly. Errand-rider allows for the transfer of resources from Imrahil to the other heroes, smoothing out the imbalance between Tactics and Leadership. Card draw is also accounted for through Valiant Sacrifice, which provides further synergy with allies leaving play, The Eagles Are Coming!, and the classic Sneak Attack/Gandalf combination. Speaking of Sneak Attack, this event combines as well as ever with Descendant of Thorondor to provide some direct damage into the staging area. Generally, the plan is for this deck is simple: pump up Eomer, use Imrahil and Mablung flexibly for attacking/defending/questing as needed, and feed Eagles of the Misty Mountain through Vassals and Winged Guardians leaving play.

How It Was Constructed: This deck really began through a desire to build an updated Eagles deck given the card pool. Eomer and Imrahil were the logical starting point, as I had used them in Eagle decks before, but the addition of Mablung is what really moved the concept forward. The main idea behind this deck is taking an already decently strong archetype, Eagles, and adding heavy doses of resource generation and card draw, which had previously been a bit lacking. In theory, adding resources and card draw to any deck will enable it to function better, and this has surely proved to be the case here. Thematically, perhaps the theme is not entirely clear, but Eomer, Imrahil, and Mablung coming together at the end of the War of the Ring, along with the Eagles, is a plausible starting point.

Possible Combos:

1) Squire of the Citadel + Horn of Gondor + Valiant Sacrifice + Eomer/Imrahil: The synergy with allies leaving play can actually get pretty absurd. A single Squire of the Citadel leaving play through chump blocking can grant 2 resources (1 for itself and 1 for the Horn of Gondor), draw 2 cards through Valiant Sacrifice, ready Imrahil, and boost Eomer’s attack by 2. Of course, the same can also be true for something like Vassal of the Windlord (without the extra resource).

2) Vassal of the Windlord + Grave Cairn: There’s only a single copy of Grave Cairn as it was included more to fill out the deck more than anything, but there’s still the opportunity of a further +3 attack boost to someone like Eomer when a Vassal of the Windlord leaves play to make him even more of a fearsome attacking force.

3) Eomer + Support of the Eagles + Firefoot + an ally leaving play: With all cylinders firing Eomer can attack for 10 and spill over extra damage to another enemy (it can get even higher if Support of the Eagles is paired with a boosted Eagles of the Misty Mountains). Normally, this combination would be a bit slow, costing at least 5 resources plus the cost of an ally to leave play, but the resource engine in this deck makes it much quicker and consistent. Rohan Warhorse allows you to get extra attacks out of this amazing attack power.

Éomer

4) Sneak Attack/Gwaihir + Descendant of Thorondor: Sneak Attack can combine well with Descendant of Thorondor to deal damage to enemies in the staging area, but the newest Eagle card, Gwaihir can also get more use out of the Descendant as well. Keep in mind that Sneak Attack can also be used with Gandalf in the classic combination to deal further direct damage.

5) Landroval + characters leaving play effects: It’s even possible to get even more tricky and intentionally sacrifice a hero that is close to death, only to bring them back to life with Landroval. This can trigger some of those characters leaving play that are scattered around the deck, as well as essentially “heal” some of the damage off of a hero.

Variations: There are many possible versions of an Eagle deck and this is just one possibility. Keep in mind that going all-Tactics with a third Tactics hero accompanying Eomer and Mablung could allow for this deck to potentially move even more quickly. You would, however, lose quite a bit of the card draw from Valiant Sacrifice and Sneak Attack/Gandalf, as well as the general utility of Sneak Attack in an Eagles deck.

Final Thoughts: If you’re not looking for your deck to do much questing, and instead just want a deck that can smash through enemies like melted butter, this may just be the deck of your dreams. When comparing Where Eagles Dare version 2 to the original version, it is clear that this is the superior build, which does reflect how much stronger the card pool has gotten in the past two  years. Although many of the cards in this deck are identical to those found in the first version, the addition of just a few key cards, like Mablung, can drastically change, if not the shape of a deck, then at least its effectiveness and efficiency. So even though the card pool of The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game might grow much more slowly than that of other Living Card Games, remember that it only takes a few new cards to alter the fate of an archetype.

 

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From → Deck Spotlight

21 Comments
  1. Great deck! I have been having so much fun fitting Mablung into decks. His versatility and resource acceleration make it easy to include him in so many different kinds of decks. Between Gwaihir and Mablung, I am happy to see more recent support for Eagle decks. As devastating as Éomer can be with Firefoot, Grave Cairn makes a lot of sense in this deck.

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      Thanks! Yeah, if I really like Grave Cairn, I may end up adding another copy. We’ll have to see. Mablung is kind of a “slow burner” hero. He didn’t really make a huge splash when he came out, but I think he’ll find his way into more and more decks over time.

  2. Ian permalink

    Interesting that you didn’t even mention Radagast in the variations.

    I’ve revisited my eagle deck from old utilising Mablung and The Days Rising for resource acceleration. I used Leadership Aragorn (so I could get away with putting only a few low cost leadership cards; he could always use his ability to spend to ready) and Beregond as a defender as well as a target for The Days Rising.

    I’ve been really excited of late of the development of more unique attachment that provide a modicum of resource generation/fixing. I’m sure Steward will remain the strongest resource generation in the game, but all those “one of’s” really get to add a bit of spice to the deck building arena these days.

    Remember when you had to play 2 sphere just to get 50 decent cards? 🙂 Ah, the Core Set.

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      Radagast was in the original version of this deck and I considered including him here, but really I felt that he just kind of takes attention way from the core focus of pumping out Eagles and the whole Mablung/Horn engine is a replacement for Radagast at the end of the day. Ignoring him completely is a bit mean admittedly :p

      Steward (and the Horn to a degree) have really been the only resource generation game in town for ages. I agree that it’s great to now get more options for generating resources, which breaks this monopoly a bit, and they so in interesting ways without being broken.

      Nowadays, cutting down to 50 cards is extremely painful. I always end up leaving out at least a handful of cards that I would have loved to include. The Day’s Rising is actually one of those cards.

      • Ian permalink

        I guess I kinda have a soft spot for Radagast. Not because he is a good card per se, more because I *wanted* him to be a good card. I think, thematically, he was much better portrayed in the LCG than he was in, let’s say, the Hobbit movies. Pretty much the same way I felt about lore Glorfindel, though his reprise sorted out his problems. I guess my question to you is, if Radagast doesn’t have a space in this deck, with Mablung and Horn, does he have a space in any deck at all? He has the disadvantage of being overpriced (at 4 resources you might playing) and having diminishing returns as the game goes on. If you don’t play him in the first few turns, he’s probably not worth the investment in resources which means you pretty much have to run him as a “three of” or a “none of”.

        The Day’s Rising would have been very difficult to get into your deck I think, with it only being target-able on “Sentinel” characters. One thing I find interesting is that you went for a “high attack” hero in Eomer than a high defence hero like Beregond. While Winged Guardian and an assortment of “chuds” can get you through the first few turns, they don’t really give you any net gain since you are losing the cards or resources when they die (admittedly triggering both Eomer and Imrahil’s abilities) a strong defending hero would be more reliable. This being said, getting Gondorian Shield on Mablung is almost as good as getting it on Beregond so that would probably be fine.

        I dunno, you just made a comment that it isn’t generally a “tricksy” deck; but I’d beg to differ. It looks like it would play much like a Silvan deck, with stuff bouncing around and timing being of the essence. The trouble I’ve been having with mine has been a) zero location management or willpower buffs, and b) flipping treachery cards taking you to the hot place.

        Take the above with a grain of salt, it’s been an interesting read to see how someone else revisited the eagles 🙂 Mine was significantly more of a presence building deck, I found with stuff leaving play you never really had enough Willpower to make significant progress on the quest.

        Ciao,
        Ian

        • Joe Zim permalink

          If you replaced Mablung with Beregond, I would definitely say that Steward of Gondor is a must for this type of deck. At that point, I might also consider throwing Radagast in.

          I really want to like Radagast, but his stats don’t bring enough to the table.

          He says the deck isn’t tricksy, just because the strategy is somewhat straightforward: remove allies from play to protect and buff the heroes (and Eagles of the Misty Mountains). But, you’re right. There is a lot of timing involved. You have to know which means of removing allies would be wisest in any given situation. And this deck is definitely not meant for solo, btw. I had a similar 2-player deck back in the day and it was pretty boss. The biggest nuisance with this deck versus my old one is that Eomer isn’t ranged and the Winged Guardians are your only sentinel defenders, so the other deck will need a bit of combat prowess of its own.

          • TalesfromtheCards permalink

            Yeah, I agree about the lack of ranged and sentinel in this deck. As I mentioned in my reply to Ian, I originally conceived of throwing Dunedain Cache and Dunedain Signal into this deck to spread some of that Eomer goodness around (and help with defense), but ultimately cut them to focus in on the Eagle theme. I think throwing in a couple of copies of at least Dunedain Cache would make good sense if the other decks you’re playing with aren’t able to handle combat.

        • TalesfromtheCards permalink

          “I guess my question to you is, if Radagast doesn’t have a space in this deck, with Mablung and Horn, does he have a space in any deck at all?” To answer your question, I think he does, but in very few decks. Although, like you, I’m a big fan of the character and I want the card to be good, I don’t think he’s that great a choice in the majority of cases. I do use him in one mono-Tactics deck with Theoden that is meant to be able to work in solo play, and then Radagast finds a place mainly for his willpower.

          As far as The Day’s Rising is concerned, I guess what I should mention is that I originally considered dropping both Dunedain Cache and Dunedain Signal into this deck. This would give Imrahil some more things to pay for, but more importantly, this would put sentinel and ranged into a deck that is designed for multiplayer. It’s a shame to have Eomer buffed up or Imrahil or Mablung working as a good defender and not be able to help out other players with these heroes. So I was considering throwing The Day’s Rising in to accompany these attachments. Ultimately, though, I decided to just focus on streamlining everything and really just focusing on the Eagle aspect.

          AS far it not being “tricksy”, I guess it’s all relative. My last Deck Spotlight focused on a Beravor/Aragorn/Sam deck focused on scrying, encounter manipulation, and a bunch of other little subtle and tricky combos, so in comparison to that one, this is a a pretty straightforward affair, pretty much solely focused on attacking and defending. And as a final note, I’ll say that this is solely meant for multiplayer and not solo. There’s not enough willpower to quest and make it on your own, as is true for most Eagle decks. I mentioned a mono-Tactics deck with Theoden earlier, and that is the one Eagle deck I’ve built that is meant for solo play. It works decently, but not great.

          Anyway, thanks for the questions and comments. It’s a fun discussion!

  3. YANN MYERS permalink

    Awesome blog, priceless.

    Thanks

  4. Joe Zim permalink

    I’m surprised to see no Westfold Outrider. Not only does his ability facilitate the “leaving play” synergy, it also provides a means of engaging enemies outside of the engagement phase, which will allow Mablung to gain an additional resource that round, assuming there were two enemies to engage.

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      He’s definitely a key ally and I use him in almost every deck that includes Tactics. I was going for something a little different here, though, by honing completely in on Eagles, at least as far as the Tactics allies are concerned.

  5. Have you thought about building a companion questing deck for this?

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      I generally have just used any deck that does well in questing, mostly a mono-Spirit build (the most recent version of that particular deck is Glorfindel/Idraen/Eowyn).

  6. Philkav permalink

    I really like the deck but I have a little nitpick: the total number of attachment should say 15 and 10 for the events (it’s 16 and 9 right now). I also feel like you should have included everyone favorite airborne bear (ally Beorn) if only to poke fun at the movies :P.

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      Ah, yes, that was a holdover from the previous version of the deck (which had an extra attachments and one fewer event). Fixed!

      Including Beorn would be quite funny. Actually, it could work quite well since Sneak Attack is available and resources aren’t exactly scarce. Dropping a bear from the back of an Eagles is a sneak attack indeed!

  7. Steven permalink

    Have you considered adding Book of Eldacar in this deck? I’ve been musing over the idea of comboing The Eagles are Coming with this card. Because TEaC is itself an eagle card (and therefore combos into itself), returning them to your deck and shuffling your deck over and over could provide a powerful card-draw engine for an eagle deck. With just 2 books, you could get 7 TEaC uses.

    Unless this deck doesn’t need card draw so much because resources are it’s limiting factor.

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      I think that combo could definitely work as a viable form of Tactics card draw (at least in an Eagles deck). TEaC is actually pretty strong, much stronger than a lot of other fetch effects since you get to grab all of the matches instead of just one.

  8. Traekos77 permalink

    Ranged was mentioned a few times but not in regards to combos. Dunedain Cache would be a real powerful combo with Firefoot to increase the number of target combinations.

    Mighty Prowess could be another interesting addition as well!

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      Yeah, I think the Cache is great with Eomer/Firefoot. I’ve seen it used a few times in multiplayer games and it’s been pretty effective every time.

  9. Dr. T permalink

    I’m a little late to the party, but this looks fun. I’ve put it up on Rivendell Councilroom in case anyone wants to build off of it.

    I’m still building my collection, so I’m living about a year in the past…

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      Cool, thanks! I’d like to make an updated Eagle deck using all the cards available now.

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