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Deck Spotlight: Hama’s Bag of Tricks (The Dread Realm)

by on March 1, 2016

EmlGoldenHall (1)

The Angmar Awakened cycle recently came to a close, and the two final quests, The Battle of Carn Dum and The Dread Realm, provided some of the most fun I’ve had with this game, which is saying quite a bit. These two quests, however, can indeed be tricky, and I found them more difficult when taking them on two-handed instead of pure solo (your experience may vary). What I appreciate, though, is that, despite the difficulty, I didn’t find success by just trotting out the same old power decks or reliable decks that get me through most scenarios. Instead, in both cases, I ended up winning with decks that are slightly more unconventional, at least from the perspective of what I usually use. For example, I finally took down The Battle of Carn Dum two-handed with a Dunhere deck on one hand, focused on sniping enemies, and a Silvan deck on the other. When it came time to face The Dread Realm, an alternative approach was needed, as the two scenarios pose different challenges. It was a Caldara deck on one hand and a Hama deck on the other that proved decisive. While the Caldara deck is always generally good, it was the Hama deck that stole the show, and so I thought I’d give it its due in a spotlight article. Unlike the “Hama lock” deck, which focuses entirely on preventing enemies from attacking by recycling Feint over and over again, this Hama deck wants to do something more interesting by using a variety of Tactics tricks and events.

“Hama’s Bag of Tricks” uses the Tactics version of Aragorn and Mablung as Hama’s partners-in-crime. This is therefore a mono-Tactics deck that is suited only for multiplayer, unless you want to make some substantial changes. It is also worth keeping in mind that this deck was modified from an existing deck to deal specifically with The Dread Realm, so some card choices might only make sense in that light (for example, Straight Shot with only Tactics Aragorn to lower enemy defenses might seem strange, but that card is a silver bullet meant mainly for the annoying Dwimmerlaik). But small changes can be made so that this deck works for a wide variety of scenarios, excepting those that put a damper on direct damage. In thematic terms, the heroes span the three major groupings of Men in the Third Age (with apologies to people like the Beornings and the residents of Dale). Aragorn from the Dunedain, Hama from the land of Rohan, and Mablung from the land of Gondor have formed a sturdy fellowship to stand against the tide.

Deck List – Hama’s Bag of Tricks:

Heroes (starting threat: 31)
Aragorn (The Lost Realm)
Háma (The Long Dark)
Mablung (The Nin-in-Eilph)

Allies (21)
1x Bofur (Over Hill and Under Hill)
3x Defender of Rammas (Heirs of Númenor)
3x Derndingle Warrior (Escape from Mount Gram)
3x Galadhon Archer (The Nin-in-Eilph)
3x Gondorian Spearman (Core Set)
3x Knight of Minas Tirith (Assault on Osgiliath)
1x Legolas (The Treason of Saruman)
1x Rúmil (The Three Trials)
3x Gandalf (Core Set)

Attachments (14)
3x Dagger of Westernesse (The Black Riders)
3x Gondorian Shield (The Steward’s Fear)
2x Mighty Prowess (The Drúadan Forest)
3x Rohan Warhorse (The Voice of Isengard)
3x Spear of the Citadel (Heirs of Númenor)

Events (15)
3x Foe-hammer (Over Hill and Under Hill)
3x Goblin-cleaver (Over Hill and Under Hill)
1x Gondorian Discipline (Encounter at Amon Dîn)
1x Hour of Wrath (The Dread Realm)
3x Quick Strike (Core Set)
3x Straight Shot (On the Doorstep)
1x Swift Strike (Core Set)

Total Deck Size: 50

Expansions Needed (16): The Lost Realm, The Long Dark, The Nin-in-Eilph, Over Hill and Under Hill, Heirs of Númenor, Escape from Mount Gram, Assault on Osgiliath, The Treason of Saruman, The Three Trials, The Black Riders, The Steward’s Fear, The Drúadan Forest, The Voice of Isengard, Encounter at Amon Dîn, The Dread Realm, On the Doorstep

Theme: Direct Damage, Event Recursion, Enemy Management

Spheres: Tactics

Solo or Multiplayer?: Multiplayer

Strategy: 

This deck is pretty much designed around one main idea: allow Hama to recycle various useful Tactics events, while drawing enough cards to give plenty of options. Many of the events and other effects included in the deck focus on direct damage, which allows enemies to be taken care of in a variety of unconventional ways. The general idea is that instead of banking on one or two such tricks, this deck loads up on many, which allows the player to react to the changing game situation. What is most essential is getting the card draw engine running as quickly as possible, which basically consists of Foe-hammer plus a weapon. To this end, Foe-hammer is the number one card you are looking for in your opening hand. With Hama, you can recycle Foe-hammer whenever you need to keep the cards flowing, and although there is only one copy of Legolas, he can really help with card draw as well. Mablung helps to pay for everything, and he can gain even more resources when cards like Knight of Minas Tirith and Tactics Aragorn pull down additional enemies outside of the engagement phase. With cards aplenty and all the resources you could need, this deck should be able to do its job, which is killing things; those looking for questing (or pretty much anything else) need not apply.

foe-hammer

How It Was Constructed: The main idea behind this deck is a refinement of an existing deck I had, which initially came about from the idea of moving away from Hama as a simple recycler of Feint to something much more interesting. Crucially, this deck omits Feint altogether in favor of turning Hama from a one-trick pony to a multi-trick one. Choosing the other two heroes was relatively easy, with Mablung helping to fund Hama’s events (and everything else), while also being versatile enough to fill a variety of roles, including defending with Gondorian Shield. Tactics Aragorn not only helps bring in resources for Mablung by engaging enemies, he serves as one of the “tricks” of the deck all by himself. Enemies can be engaged through his ability during player attacks and then dispatched with direct damage effects without having to worry about defending. Together, this trio work together fairly seamlessly. One important aspect to consider is that this deck, along with its partner, was specifically built to take on The Dread Realm. For the most part, it should transfer quite well to other quests, but it’s something to keep in mind.

Mablung

Possible Combos:

1) Gondorian Spearman + Spear of the Citadel (+ Swift Strike): An oldie-but-goodie, a Gondorian Spearman wielding a Spear of the Citadel can take out enemies with 2 hit points remaining before they have a chance to complete their attack. This combination is gold against the annoying Cursed Dead of The Dread Realm, but it can also work well against smaller enemies or those that have been worn down by other sources of direct damage.

gondorian spearman

2) Knight of Minas Tirith/Tactics Aragorn + Mablung: Mablung’s resource generation upon enemy engagement is limited to once per phase, so anything that can engage an enemy outside the encounter phase helps to speed this up. Knight of Minas Tirith, who can engage an enemy during planning, and Tactics Aragorn, who can engage an enemy during the combat phase, both fit this bill.

3) Quick Strike + Tactics Aragorn (+ Rohan Warhorse): One of my favorite combos in this deck is to use Quick Strike with Tactics Aragorn to attack an engaged enemy during the quest phase. If Aragorn can dispatch the engaged enemy with this attack, he can pull down an enemy from the staging area, generating an extra resource for Mablung (essentially paying the cost of the Quick Strike). More importantly, it removes that enemy’s threat before quest resolution, and, if that all wasn’t enough, it makes sure the destroyed enemy won’t be able to attack during the combat phase. Altogether, with one little card, much can be accomplished. And with Hama’s help, it can be used over and over again. When Aragorn has Rohan Warhorse attached, he can pull off this trick and still be ready for the combat phase.

4) Direct damage ahoy!: Just for the purposes of listing out all of the potential direct damage possibilities, Rumil, Gondorian Spearman, Spear of the Citadel, Mighty Prowess, Goblin-cleaver and Galadhon Archer are all means of placing damage directly on enemies. In fact, Goblin-cleaver, aside from Quick Strike and Foe-hammer, is the event I probably recycle the most with Hama. Two damage (three for an Orc) might not seem like much on the face of it, but it quickly adds up with other sources of damage. For example, a simple combination of Goblin-cleaver and Gondorian Spearman can take out an enemy with three hit points left (four if an Orc). And, of course, damage sticks around from turn to turn, so an enemy that is weakened on one turn can be dispatched the next using direct damage without having to suffer its attack. At the end of the day, that is what this deck is all about, dealing with enemies through direct damage to minimize enemy attacks (including the danger posed by shadow effects). As a final note, Mighty Prowess fits in well here, as most encounter decks these days tend to focus on enemies with a shared trait, so there’s usually plenty of targets for it to work with throughout the course of a game.

Goblin-cleaver

5) Straight Shot + Tactics Aragorn: Straight Shot, combined with the -1 defense given by Tactics Aragorn, can combine to take out any enemy with a defense strength of 0 or 1. This doesn’t include many enemies these days, but, as mentioned in the intro, this was an inclusion designed with The Dread Realm specifically in mind. Another variation of this deck that I’ved used in the past can use hero Legolas and Rivendell Blade to make Straight Shot a real killer.

6) Mablung + Gondorian Shield + Gondorian Discipline: I tend to build a solid defender into most combat decks because it makes me sleep soundly through the night. This deck has less of a need for such a defender, as direct damage is meant to dispatch many enemies before they can attack. Still, I’m a continual proponent of backup plans and redundancies, so I’ve included Gondorian Shield to turn Mablung into a very solid defender (and between Aragorn, Hama, and the Daggers of Westernesse, he’s usually not needed to attack). A single copy of Gondorian Discipline might seem strange, but Hama can turn a single copy into many copies, and it’s meant primarily as an escape valve if I need to use Mablung to defend against a bigger boss. Gondorian Discipline can also allow a Gondorian Spearman to survive an attack that actually goes through, although they are used primarily to finish off enemies. Note that the Defender of Rammas and Derndingle Warrior provide additional defensive options, so this deck is actually no slouch in both attack and defense.

Variations: I’ve mentioned already the hero Legolas version of this deck, which uses Rivendell Blade and Straight Shot to great effect. There are a variety of different hero combinations you could use if you go this route, like Hama/Legolas/Merry (for the readying and low threat) or even Hama/Legolas/Beravor (for extra card draw). Those are slightly different decks though. As for possible cards that can be substituted into this deck, here are some options:

  • Horn’s Cry: It could be interesting to experiment with de-fanging enemies through recycling Horn’s Cry, especially in valour mode, and this deck has the resources to pull it off. The only downside here is that this combination is more along the lines of the Feint lock, whereas this deck is more offensively minded, at least when it comes to Hama’s tricks.
  • Stand Together: If you want to go full jank, then you could use Stand Together with multiple Gondorian Spearman, potentially with Spears of the Citadel involved as well, to take down big enemies before they can attack. Then, Hama could recycle Stand Together to do it all over again. This combo is workable, but requires too many pieces to be consistent, which is why I left it on the cutting room floor. It would be interesting to try at some point though.
  • Dunedain Hunter: The Hunter works well with Mablung to generate more resources. However, I don’t really need the extra attack and sometimes this deck wants to be a bit selective about who it engages. Still, the Hunter is a possible ally substitution for quests where you really need to take down a boss-type enemy.
  • Beechbone: More direct damage is good, but there’s a certain threshold of diminishing returns, especially as the higher cost slots get filled up.
  • Blade of Gondolin: I’d love to find room for another weapon, just to make sure Foe-hammer is operational as early as possible (as well as Goblin-cleaver). Dagger of Westernesse and Spear of the Citadel are the existing options, although Spear is a bit trickier to use to activate Foe-hammer as the attached character, normally a defender, has to be involved in the attack. Blade of Gondolin is probably the best third option, as there aren’t many choices for humans.

Complementary Deck: As already mentioned, this is a multiplayer deck, so it should be used with at least one other deck. Since this deck is heavily focused on combat, the other deck should center around questing, cancellation, and support. This deck can provide some defensive help with the Derndingle Warrior, Aragorn, and Gondorian Spearman all having sentinel, and there are some ways to spread direct damage elsewhere on the board, but the accompanying deck should still have some kind of defensive alternative.

Final Thoughts: This deck is seriously fun to play, and it does a fantastic job managing enemies through direct damage. As with any such deck, it tends to excel against scenarios with enemies whose hit points are in the low-to-medium range, rather than those that have extremely hearty foes. All in all, Hama was early on smeared with the reputation of being a “boring” hero, because his first claim to fame was locking down enemy attacks. However, he is actually an extremely versatile hero that can facilitate all kinds of approaches and deck types, since his ability applies to all Tactics events. Hopefully, you’ll enjoy this “bag of tricks” version of a Hama deck, and as more Tactics events are released throughout the life of the game, the possibilities will only grow.

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7 Comments
  1. Since Rivendell Blade can be attached to allies, specifically to Legolas, Rumil, and Galadhon Archers, do you think it’d be worthwhile to include and make Straight Shot stronger?

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      It’s definitely worth thinking about. With only 5 copies of those characters, I’d be a bit worried about consistency, but if I could slot some more Noldor or Silvan in, it could work.

      • Yea, sadly, there aren’t a lot of good options for Silvan/Noldor Tactics allies, though we do have one more Silvan on the way in the new cycle.

  2. Steven A permalink

    “This deck can provide some defensive help with the Derndingle Warrior, Aragorn, and Gondorian Spearman all having sentinel,” – point of order. Tactics Aragorn does not have Sentinel.
    I like the deck though. The first time I built a direct damage focused deck I put in Hama to recycle the direct damage events. Ended up swapping him out because I found it effective enough to just keep drawing new ones rather than recycle the old, but both are effective options.

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      Good catch. I had the other Aragorns on the brain.

      Yeah, I think it can work either way if you can include enough draw in the non-Hama version. One of the reasons I like Hama is because once you see the first copy of an event, you basically are guaranteed to be able to use it for the rest of the game, and it opens up the possibility of including a single copy of an event and still getting multiple uses out of it.

  3. Fouilloux permalink

    I tried this deck yesterday against the dread realm. I paired it first with a straight forward Rossiel-Eowyn-Arwen deck, but it did not worked that well, the enemies where still overowwering me. I got back to my Rossiel-Eowyn-pippin deck, and then it worked really well. It turned out I did not used Hama so often, as he was often the target of the sorcey effect that force the character to commit to a quest every round. It is indeed fun though to recycle those events, (first time I used some of them). When you have to choose, it is really hard because there are so many good ones.
    I managed to pull a victory, altghhough I was close of dying in the last stage. But I had two epic turns: very first turn, Knight of minas Tirith kills a cursed dead that is sent right back in the victory set: +1 ressources, and Rossiel is ready to defend everything for the game. Latter in the game, she had a burning brand and Ally Arwen was on the table. It meant that when Daechanar appeared, I played an hour of wrath on her and she basically defended somethink like 6 ennemie’s attacks without a scratch. What was fun was that in both deck, the two deck had to work together to make it work, and that where it feels right.
    So, thank for this deck!

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