At the start of the Against the Shadow cycle, Dwarves were the most developed and most powerful archetype up to that point. But when the Stewards Fear adventure pack was released, a new archetype was born instantly: Outlands. This controversial trait is easy to master and is the go-to deck I hand to new players. At the end of the cycle, the entire trait was finished. Since then we have only received 1 other Outlands cards. To me, the archetype feels complete, though certain characters from the books could be included.
Who are the Outlands?
By the Outlands is meant the areas of Gondor that are not part of Anorien (Minas Anor) or Ithilien (Minas Ithil). These “provinces” still answer to the King and the Steward of Gondor but have their own lords. The most famous of these lords is the Prince of Dol Amroth who is third in command of Gondor’s armies after the Steward and his son. The fiefdoms supported the armies of Gondor during the Siege of Minas Tirith, though a lot of their forces remained in their region to defend the crossing of the Anduin in the south and protect the coast from Corsair invasions.
The Outlands trait was introduced during the Against the Shadow cycle. After this cycle, not a lot of Outlands cards have been released since the trait was strong enough just from the cards that had been released up to that point. When the narrative of the quests returned to the Outlands during the end of the Dream-chaser cycle, we got just a few additions, but nothing major.
- A Journey to Rhosgobel
- Heirs of Numenor
- The Stewards Fear
- Druadan Forest
- Encounter at Amon Dîn
- Assault on Osgiliath
- A Storm on Cobas Haven
- The City of Corsairs
- Flame of the West
The Outlands trait is mostly centred around having allies from all 4 spheres of influence. However, the main focus of this trait is in the Leadership sphere. Not only does the trait have 2 heroes in this sphere (Hirluin the Fair and Prince Imrahil), but all of the attachments and events that have to do with the trait are in Leadership as well. Outside of Leadership, there are some allies belonging to Lore, Tactics, and Spirit. This may prove difficult to play these allies in a mono-Leadership deck unless you run heroes like Elrond and of course Hirluin.
Hmm, I wonder if the Outlands trait has any synergy at all. It only has 11 cards, so there can’t be much synergy in the trait, right? Wrong! This trait relies heavily on the synergy the players get with these allies. Getting a copy of any ally from the Stewards Fear expansion on the table will improve the stats of all Outlands character you control. This includes the ally itself. The boosts are also in line with their respective sphere. Spirit boosts willpower, Tactics attack strength, Leadership defence, and Lore boosts the hitpoints on any Outlands character you control. These boosts carry over to the heroes with the Outlands trait. This makes Hirluin the Fair a fairly (hehe) strong hero once you get some allies out.
The other cards in this trait revolve around playing allies from a sphere that isn’t Leadership. Lord of Morthond will increase your card draw if you can reliably pay for any ally in a mono-Leadership deck that isn’t a Leadership ally. Besides paying for Outlands characters with Hirluin, The Storm Comes offers some options to pay for allies without having their matching sphere. Once you control allies from all 4 spheres, cards like Forlong will start to become amazing. However, I did find it odd that only Forlong the Fat is added to the card pool while there are many other named captains that remain without cards. I added some of my fan-made cards below. These will also require that your army is very diverse with 4 different spheres in play.
Having allies from 4 different spheres is actually quite odd to see in this cycle, as it tried to force players into a mono-sphere deck build. Having a Master’s Malice trigger on your Outlands army will absolutely ruin them. Though the card pool does give you the option to retrieve the cards with Men of the West.
In all, Outlands has one of the strongest cards when you combine them into a single deck. But also outside of a dedicated Outlands deck, some allies are worth playing. Knights of the Swan will allow you to get 3 3 attack characters for the low cost of 3 resources. And Ethir Swordsmen are still one of the best questing allies to include in your Spirit decks. The only thing that the trait is really missing, is having a healing option. Healing is mostly restricted to Lore so you will have to break the Mono-Leadership deck in order to add healing to your deck (or play a Song of Wisdom/A Good Harvest/The Storm Comes).
Synergy with other traits
Like I mentioned before, the Outlands are a part of the Kingdom of Gondor. Because of this, the Outlands trait is very much in synch with the Gondor trait. You will even be able to have certain Gondor characters become Outlands as well with the Sword of Morthond. While Outlands is a part of Gondor, the allies and heroes do not get the Gondor trait. This will allow the allies to also receive boosts from Visionary Leadership and Leadership Boromir. Hunter from Lamedon does have the Gondor trait, as a misprint because it was released before any other Outlands cards. This makes it even more powerful than any of its brethren. Running Gondor allies alongside your Outlands characters will cover any of the gaps between the two traits.
The allies are all staples for Outlands. Though Hunter of Lamedon will not boost any of the stats on your allies, he will thin your deck to make sure that you get Outlands allies in play faster than you would otherwise.
Hirluin is really the centrepiece of this trait as he will allow you to spend his resources for Outlands characters of any sphere. This is the way you get out all of your allies in a mono-sphere deck. He will also be receiving the various buffs from the allies in order to make him very much worth the threat cost. His Ranged keyword also comes in handy, as Outlands is a pretty solo deck, it doesn’t have very good access to Ranged and Sentinel characters. The strategy with Hirluin in simple, get as many resources on him as possible in order to churn out those allies. The easiest strategy is to make him Steward of Gondor, which also gives him the Gondor trait. I find myself using In Service of the Steward for this trait as well if another player plays Steward before me. This trait will allow Hirluin to receive resources from Denethor, Envoy of Pelargir, and Wealth of Gondor. I can also give him the Noble trait for the same reasons with Diligent Noble but haven’t tried it yet. Getting readying out of Hirluin is also a good thing as he will be able to do multiple (ranged) attacks or quest for a maximum of 4. I often find myself including Cram as a cheap way to get Hirluin ready.
“Bad” Outlands cards
Even “Bad” Outlands cards can still be incredible when compared to other cards
While the allies are by far the best thing about the Outlands trait, I find myself feeling a bit underwhelmed with the attachments. Lord of Morthond is great if you are getting low on cards, but it does require you to play mono-Leadership. This prevents you to pay for off-sphere allies with different heroes. It also reduces any other card draw you would like as you can’t start off with a Lore hero right off the bat.
Sword of Morthond is a nice addition to your card pool, but it won’t be a crucial card for your deck. Sure, there are some juicy targets out there that could really benefit from getting a +3 to all of their stats, but do you really need it? I find myself not adding this card in many Outlands deck as it is a bit of a win-more kind of card. I will add that the Sword of Morthond is amazing on a Gondorian Spearman with a Spear of the Citadel. This turns him into an incredible defender that isn’t the glass cannon like its vanilla version and can take a hit once his defence and hitpoints are boosted.
Prince of Dol Amroth is a nice way to get Imrahil the Outlands trait, but either version of him isn’t a great fit for an Outlands deck. His Leadership version will require allies to leave play, which is counter-intuitive with the Outlands characters. The Tactics version only sneaks in allies for the combat phase, they don’t stick around, so that is a bit of a dud. That version will also screw your mono-Leadership strategy a bit. The Spirit ally version would be the best bet, the only problem is that Sword of Morthond is cheaper and does the same thing. It will also be difficult to get a non-Outlands Spirit ally out on the board unless you are playing Good Harvest/The Storm Comes. The additional resource on this attachment is a nice boon, as it will allow you to let the card pay for itself once you have Outlands allies from 4 different spheres. Only thing is that by that time you have likely beaten the quest or it won’t take too much time before you beat it. I tend to leave this card in the binder, despite its thematic fit.
These decks are some of the most powerful decks you can make and beat most but the hardest (or techiest) scenarios with. They rely on getting your Outlands characters out fast and keeping them alive in order to have a very strong army of allies.
This concludes the Outlands trait review. I will be occupied elsewhere for the rest of the week, so it isn’t likely that there will be much content in the next few days besides the month overview. I am having exams next week that will require a bit of studying. Writing articles can be hard after having spent 5 hours learning equations, so I’ll be back in April with the review of the Steward’s Fear.