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The Red Day of Rohan

by on November 4, 2015

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Greetings, readers! This is Grant Ellis, aka “pfcamygrant”. I am a regular contributing writer for WWPD.net and have answered Ian’s call for contributors to this site; it being the culprit of my love and affection for this game.

Often, my adoration for this game ignites my interest in the investigation of the many nooks and crannies of Tolkien’s world. A recent theme of study I’ve enjoyed is that of the Rohirrim, whose heroic stand at Helm’s Deep was relived in my own campaign and whose arrival at the Pelennor fields stayed the might of Mordor until the Grey Company could arrive. The Living Card Game gives us the opportunity to reimagine epic scenarios and navigate new narratives while keeping true and honest with the source material. This article will explore a thematic deck drawing upon the current card pool then seek out your advice as to how to handle tricky situations it might encounter.

Marshals of the Mark

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The full military might of the Rohirrim, the Muster of Rohan, was led by three Marshals of the Mark. Each Marshal possessed one hundred and twenty fully-equipped cavalry, called an Eored, as part of his household that could be called upon at his discretion. One hundred Eored would come together to form the Muster of Rohan; called an Éoherë in the Rohirric language. The Marshals of the Mark commanded over the Westfold, the Eastfold, and the capital city of Edoras respectively. The position evolved between the reigns of Theoden King, Son of Thengel, and Eomer, moving from the ranks of First, Second and Third Marshals to Marshal of the East-fold and Marshal of the West-fold.

At the time of the events during the War of the Ring, Theoden King held the title of First Marshal in Edoras, with Elfhelm (who would later be called to the new rank of Marshal of the East-Mark) serving as acting commander and king’s lieutenant. Theoden’s personal guard was led by Hama, and Gamling the Old served as a notable member of that guard.

Eomer, nephew of the king, also served as Third Marshal and commanded the East-mark. Eomer would be named heir to Theoden shortly before departure to the Hornburg, and participated in many of Middle-Earth’s pivotal battles of the Third Age. He would redefine the rank of Marshal at the time of Theoden’s funeral.

Erkenbrand, Lord of the Westfold, was appointed to Marshal of the West-Mark after the War of the Ring. His defense of the Westfold led some 1,000 horsemen to be made available to the defense of Helm’s Deep, and he would prove an integral part of the battles to come.

A Cardboard Oath not to be Broken

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All of this theme, history, and substance translates into gameplay by finding a fifty card deck that is fun to play, but also can succeed at scenarios.

Let’s start with Hero selection:

The current card-pool leads me to select the tactics hero Eomer, whose transition from Marshal to King is important to the narrative, but also fun to play. A recent poll ranked Eomer as the fourth-favorite attacking hero, and as a strong leader of Men, Eomer opens up some possibilities especially when he attaches to his mount, Firefoot, and receives his attack bonus when allies leave play.

Allies being discarded during play is a running theme in the Rohan meta-game, with at least 25% (at a quick glance) having an ability that results in them being discarded. This leads me to my second choice, the Spirit version of Theoden, who will effectively reduce the cost of the first Rohan ally he plays each round. Also, his mount has some good conditional readying, and his sword adds additional punch to his attack.

Lastly, I choose the solid Leadership defender; Erkenbrand. Erkenbrand purchases shadow-cancellation with his own blood. His inclusion results in a tri-sphere combination of heroes that will need resource smoothing and acceleration in order to pay for its cards, lest they be found dead in your hand.

Red Arrow Allies

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As the deck is a thematic tri-sphere combination, I need some immediate smoothing. I select three copies of Errand-rider for the deck. Thematically this is appropriate, as the story reads that Hirgon, a tall man of close-resemblance to Boromir, was an errand-rider of Gondor who had an audience with Theoden, presenting the Red Arrow that symbolized Denethor’s call to Gondor’s allies for aid during the Siege of Minas Tirith.

Moving to other allies of the Leadership sphere I take three copies of Snowbourn Scout as a form of location control and a potential chump blocker (though recent quests punish that behavior) and Erkenbrand adds a pair of Warden of Helm’s Deep to the deck for general defense.

In the Spirit sphere we will start with a single copy of the King’s Lieutenant, Elfhelm, if for only thematic reasons. We then add two copies of Eomund for mass-readying to create needed Action Advantage. I add two copies of Hama and two of Gamling, to round out the king’s guard. We add two copies of Escort from Edoras for additional questing potential, two copies of the Westfold Horse-breeder to fetch our eventual Mount attachments, and two copies of the Westfold Horse-Breaker for location control.

We add two copies of the Tactics sphere ally Westfold Outrider to help ensure fights on our own terms, before we select attachments that increase the theme and help shape the deck.

Show Us the Meaning of Haste

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Two copies of Firefoot (2-cost Tactics), Snowmane (1-cost Spirit), Rohan Warhorse (1-cost Tactics), and Steed of the Mark (1-cost Spirit) are immediately added for the following reasons: Firefoot helps hulk Eomer, Snowmane adds readying to Theoden after questing successfully, the Warhorse and Steed both seek to increase action advantage in separate phases (combat and questing respectively). We add another two copies of the 3-cost spirit attachment Herugrim to the deck to buff Theoden’s attack (he also reduces the cost), and we add two copies of Raven-winged Helm to help mitigate the self-inflicted shadow-cancellation damage Erkenbrand generates. With twelve attachments, I’m feeling a little light, but that may help us to ride faster so to speak.

Chief Obstacles to an Easy Conquest

Three copies of the 1-cost Spirit event A Test of Will are auto-included for treachery cancellation. I also add two copies of Hasty Stroke for Shadow cancellation should Erkenbrand be low on hits. Keeping with the Spirit Sphere, the 2-cost event Helm! Helm! Is brought in should the might of our non-unique foes need to be dealt with. Moving to Leadership, I add a pair of 0-cost Parting Gifts to add a little more smoothing and another pair of 0-cost Tighten Our Belts for some resource acceleration. With all of the discarding that could potentially happen, I finish the deck with two copies of Will of the West to recycle my discard pile back into the deck.

How Do these Rohirrim Hold at the Fords of Isen?

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The Fords of Isen were the location of several battles in the lore and also were the setting of the inaugural scenario for the Voice of Isengard Deluxe Expansion. If we want to test-drive these horsemen (is that a thing?) a good gauge is to jump right into the waters of an epic battle against a feuding faction from Dunland.

Well, without healing and early questing, you may see yourself giving up too much too early. It’s fun to lob off the heads of your enemies with Eomer, but should the waters run red with the blood of Erkenbrand so soon? Perhaps a second player is needed to aid the Rohirrim, but is that the story we seek to tell? The enemies at Isen hit hard as well, with the Chieftan and Raider packing a punch that would knock a Nazgul off of its black steed (no wonder Saruman and Sauron found them useful). I made it to 13 of 16 progress on Quest Stage 3B, with about 47 threat, before I was finally overrun by my enemies. That may be a good representation of the battle that was going on in the story, but I didn’t successfully hold the Fords. We could boost our Willpower with the 3-cost Spirit Event Astonishing Speed and we might squeeze out more action advantage with Unexpected Courage, but we probably need more tanking for Erkenbrand and Theoden. Thematically, we are limited to maybe Light the Beacons, interpreting it that the Rohirrim are being called to aid, but that card is costly. A Low-cost card like Feint could come in handy.

This deck obviously is not “finished”, nor should any deck in a living card game truly be.

Here’s how it is rounding out:

Heroes:

Erkenbrand (The Antlered Crown)

Éomer (The Voice of Isengard)

Theoden (The Treason of Saruman)

Starting Threat: 32

Ally (23)

1x Elfhelm (The Dead Marshes)

2x Eomund (Conflict at the Carrock)

3x Errand-rider (Heirs of Numenor)

2x Escort from Edoras (A Journey to Rhosgobel)

2x Gamling (The Land of Shadow)

2x Hama (The Treason of Saruman)

3x Snowbourn Scout (Core Set)

2x Warden of Helm’s Deep (The Antlered Crown)

2x Westfold Horse-Breaker (The Hunt for Gollum)

2x Westfold Horse-breeder (The Voice of Isengard)

2x Westfold Outrider (The Voice of Isengard)

Attachment (12)

2x Firefoot (The Dunland Trap)

2x Herugrim (The Treason of Saruman)

2x Raven-winged Helm (The Wastes of Eriador)

2x Rohan Warhorse (The Voice of Isengard)

2x Snowmane (The Land of Shadow)

2x Steed of the Mark (The Morgul Vale)

Event (15)

3x A Test of Will (Core Set)

2x Charge of the Rohirrim (Celebrimbor’s Secret)

2x Hasty Stroke (Core Set)

2x Helm! Helm! (The Treason of Saruman)

2x Parting Gifts (A Journey to Rhosgobel)

2x Tighten Our Belts (The Nin-in-Eilph)

2x Will of the West (Core Set)

What are your thoughts on the basic construction?
Are there more functional cards that would still be a thematic fit?
What sort of cards are needed to bring this deck off of the Islet and back into Meduseld?
Is there a companion deck you find appropriate to join this one?

Let me know in the comments below!

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6 Comments
  1. Stellar introduction and great explanation of how you built the deck. This is a great format for the blog. Keep up the good work, Grant!

  2. Great article! Little thing… I’m not sure raven-winged helm can be used to help Erkenbrand, if he does not get damaged I believe you cannot call his effect triggered (similar discussions exist with Treebeard on official forums IIRC)

    • Thanks for the Feedback!

      EDIT:
      Below is my original response, but after researching the issue I reveal where I was wrong.
      It is still a good card for Erkenbrand, despite the limitation.

      Here’s how I handle a situation like this:
      Read the cards and follow order of operations.

      First, let’s look at Erkenbrand:
      While Erkenbrand is defending, he gains: “Response: Deal 1 damage to Erkenbrand to cancel a shadow effect just triggered.”

      Then let’s look at the Raven-Winged Helm:
      Attach to a hero with sentinel. Limit 1 per hero. Response: Exhaust Raven-winged Helm to prevent 1 point of damage just dealt to attached character.

      Erkenbrand’s card reads that you are dealing damage to him.
      Raven-Winged Helm reads that you are preventing 1 point of damage just dealt.

      Dealt is the past tense of the verb To Deal, so I think the Helm would be usable, unless we are outside of an Action Window.
      Can you choose to trigger the Response after the Shadow Card is cancelled?

      What do you think?

      The words also work against my interpretation as the response reads “to prevent” meaning the damage would not have landed on Erkenbrand. But its the past tense of “to Deal”.. dealt.. I think you need to decide how the responses trigger.

      EDIT:
      PER THIS BLOG AND THE OFFICIAL RULING
      Note, though, that Raven-winged Helm cannot be used to cancel the damage dealt by Erkenbrand to himself in order to activate his shadow-cancellation ability. This use was the subject for much debate, but the official ruling is that if damage is canceled, it will then cause the effect it was meant to activate to fizzle too

      Note, I would say the word “prevent” causes it to fizzle.
      If the card read “Remove 1 Damage Token dealt to the attached Character this phase” it would work, but that is not how the card is worded.

  3. Nitpick (sorry):

    The men Erkenbrand led to Helm’s Deep were not mounted actually.

    “Behind him, hastening down the long slopes, were a thousand men on foot;”

    Easily confused in our heads with the scene in the movie where the calvary charge is a little more energetic.

    • These are my favorite kind of comments, because it clarifies an error in my write-up, provides a more accurate representation of the lore, and opens up the deck building by leading us to seek out Rohan cards that can represent the foot-men! Thank you!

      • Actually, now that I re-read it, your wording of “horsemen” may not be completely inaccurate. Rohan IS known for their horses and surely these soldiers would be considered “horsemen” just being associated with Rohan. But that term just brought mounts to my mind first “/

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