Every once in a while, a unique card turns up in the game which isn’t part of any pre-existing trait. In the early days of the game, this was quite common as new synergies were getting developed. But the Wose trait wasn’t introduced to the player card pool until the second to last Saga expansion. We have gotten to battle against this trait during the Druadan Forest Adventure Pack, but this was the first time we have gotten a character to join us. With the recent spoiler for The Hidden Way, my interest in the Wose trait has been re-awoken. I will recommend players to read the chapter concerning the Drúedan in Unfinished Tales, as that is a great read.
Who are the Woses?
The Drúedan are descendants of the Third House of Men who came over the mountains during the First Age. They are less in stature but make up for their looks in stealth and craftsmanship. The Woses are masters of forest combat and are rumoured to have some sort of magical abilities to make the statues they make come alive in the protection of their homes. During the time of the War of the Ring, few Woses remained in Middle Earth, with the only known colonies in the Drúedan Forest in Anorien, and in the Drúewaith Iaur to the west of Gondor. They are mostly kept to themselves and are therefore mostly neutral in the battles of the Free Peoples.
For a good look at the Woses, I will recommend players to play the Dúedan Forest Adventure Pack. This gives an accurate depiction of the Woses being mostly neutral in the wars. You have to battle them during the first part of the quest and negotiate a peace treaty during the final stage once you convinced the Chief that you are no threat to them. For player cards, check out these packs:
- Flame of the West
- The Withered Heath (The Hidden Way has Wose art, but nothing to do with the Wose trait)
The Wose cards we have seen so far all belong to the Lore sphere. And I find that perfectly reasonable. Not only does the green Lore sphere fit well with the Forest dwelling Woses, but they are also very crafty, much like Lore players in the game. Lore allows the players to use these cards to their utmost advantage in manipulating the encounter deck. Lore has also proven to have Poison in the sphere, allowing some sort of trickery with that for the Woses as well.
With not many cards having the Wose trait, the community has stepped in to design a synergy around it. The cards featured in this article, aside from the one Wose card that we got in Flame of the West, are custom made by Micah Galicinski, who designed them after my notes on the trait in an earlier version of this article. For a full list of cards, see this link to his dropbox folder. He also designed a deck with these new cards in mind, which you can upload to DragnCards immediately following this link. Just be careful when unloading the encounter deck, as it may remove some cards from your deck. I’m happy to have inspired people to design their own cards for this trait, and am looking forward to other attempts in the future!
The cards that we do have up to this point all share a common theme of location control. Since this is one of the chokepoints in a multiplayer game, I wanted an ally that could be used to get more locations out of the staging area without having to put progress on them. I feel like the placing-progress part is more fit to be in the Scout/Ranger/Woodmen traits than the Wose. As I was analysing the Assault on Osgiliath adventure pack, I found a couple of nice effects that could be translated to player cards to make locations less of a problem. The Drúadan Scout is such an example. It allows players to have 2 active locations, meaning that they can clear more locations next turn, and remove some threat out of the staging area. Explorer’s Almanac tends to do sort of the same thing, but it keeps the location in the staging area, making it more difficult for players to place progress there during certain quests. It also still adds the threat of the location to the total threat, so location lock is still a problem.
The combat side of the Woses is also something I wanted to explore. Not only do these people fend off invaders with fearsome statues, but also with poisoned arrows. We haven’t seen much poison in the game from the players, besides the Trap, so I wanted an ally that will do damage over time to enemies. This is great to defeat some high defence enemies as you will only have to hurt them once and wait until they die. The statues were interesting to design, as enemies will tend to get used to them once they have seen them a couple of times. That is why the attachment will be discarded after it has scared off a number of enemies. This will thin the staging area of enemies, allowing players to explore the locations without the interference of the enemies.
For more info on what a Wose deck could look like, check the links shared earlier.
The one card with the Wose trait that we have is Ghan-buri-Ghan. He got introduced to us in the Saga expansions and was a nice nod to the lore. He is an incredibly useful quester with a variable willpower stat. His willpower is the same as the threat of the active location. This can make him a stellar quester against locations like Gladden Marshland or Forest Battleground. These locations can get out of hand fast, but Ghan allows players to counter it with a good chunk of willpower. If there is no active location, players can keep him back, as his willpower will be 0. Players can also combine Ghan with effects like The Hidden Way or Strider’s Path to get an active location in play and allow Ghan to quest again. Ghan-buri-Ghan also has a second ability where you can discard him to travel to a location without paying its Travel cost. This can be beneficial since most Travel costs tend to hurt players or add an additional encounter card to the staging area. Ghan can also help if players are unable to pay for the Travel cost in terms of exhausting characters or spending resources. This makes Ghan a great toolbox ally to have in place for locations.
With the Wose trait not being that developed, I cannot really share a RingsDB link with the proposed lineup. But thanks to the custom-made Wose cards, a Wose deck is now possible. You can find the new cards following the previously shared Dropbox link, and add on some cards from your own collection. The following deck is courtesy of Micah Galicinski:
Drúadan Tracker (x3)
Drúadan Stalker (x3)
Drúadan Runner (x3)
Drúadan Drummer (x3)
Drúadan Archer (x2)
Drúadan Scout (x2)
Drúadan Hunter (x3)
Drúadan Warrior (x3)
Warden of Healing (x2)
Wose Headman (x2)
Scroll of Isildur (x1)
Wose Potion (x3)
Warning Cry (x3)
Statue of the Púkel-men (x3)
A Burning Brand (x2)
Mithrandir’s Advice (x2)
Mustering of the Drúedain (x3)
Drinking Song (x2)
Aid of the Wild-men (x3)
Drúadan Scout (x1)
Miner of the Iron Hills (x2)
Warden of Healing (x1)
Drúadan Archer (x1)
Wose Headman (x1)
Poison Darts (x3)
Woodmen’s Clearing (x2)
Necklace of Girion (x2)
Protector of Lorien (x2)
Scroll of Isildur (x1)
The highest priority with this deck is to get your Wose attachments in play as soon as possible. I would mulligan for all of those, especially Wose Potion and Warning Cry. It’s also especially good to get an Aid of the Wild-men and a Drinking Song in the same hand, because if you don’t get your important cards from the Aid, you can effectively mulligan them away with Drinking Song. After that, you just want as many allies as you can buy.
If the scenario is heavy on locations and questing, try to get your Trackers, Runners, Drummers, and high-willpower allies out fast. It’s also very effective to get a Statue in the early game, because it lets you build up your board state before having to fight enemies.
For enemy-heavy scenarios, it’s extremely important to get your Stalkers, Archers, and Statues out as soon as possible. I usually like to wait to play a Hunter until I can get it for a discount, but if you need a defender, they’re pretty competent (and the Runners work in a pinch). I also like to wait to play the Warrior until his ability will be useful, but sometimes you just need the willpower.
The most crucial advice for this deck is: don’t be afraid of discarding your allies. Once your engine’s in place, the discard pile is essentially your fuel. So if you get a nasty location (à la Gladden Marshlands), don’t hesitate to get rid of your Runner. If you reveal a Dreadful Gap, let your Tracker take care of it! And use Mustering of the Drúedain every time.
If you ever need to defend with an ally that you know will die, choose a Drummer or a Warrior. It’s always very satisfying to get a willpower boost from the Drummer, then chump and recur it next round for another willpower boost.
As far as specific cards, I like to use Mustering of the Drúedain almost as a pseudo-Feint…quest with an ally, discard it for Mustering (giving Drû a resource and a coin), and grabbing a different Wose ally to defend with. Then, you can ready Drû (discarding another ally and gaining more resources) to strike back and kill the enemy (preferably with a Stalker, so you can now Feint some more enemies).
I’ve found that I usually have enough resources and card draw, especially when I don’t forget to use Smeagol’s ability. Use Mithrandir’s Advice to get you your non-Wose cards, and use Drinking Song to search your deck for your “other” cards.
This specific deck is definitely more suited to solo than multiplayer. But if you want to take the challenge, make sure that your partner decks have great early willpower and lots of cancelation. I would also add in some Poison Darts to snipe away at non-engaged enemies and another Drúadan Archer. And if your group doesn’t have good cancelation, consider switching Smeagol for Thurindir.
This deck struggles most with cancelation and early willpower. If you draw a nasty treachery, you just have to deal with it. That said, I’ve never really needed cancelation because the deck’s pretty good at muscling through the hard stuff.
But if you need to build around the quest a little, look no further than the sideboard. Drúadan Scout, Firyal, Protector of Lorien, and Necklace of Girion can give you more willpower, and Firyal will double as great cancelation. Woodmen’s Clearing (and maybe even good ole Gandalf) are good for threat reduction. You can add in Miner of the Iron Hills or Elrond to get ready of those nasty Condition attachments, and in heavy Archery quests I would take a third Warden of Healing.
And this isn’t the only Wose deck that can be made! The possibilities are endless, and I would expect the Wose trait to pair well with lots of other traits (Drúadan Hunter in a Dunedain deck would be insane!). Here’s some ideas to get you started:
Mirlonde, Drû-buri-Drû, and Thurindir (add in Gather Information, Scout Ahead, Halfling Bounders for cancelation, and possibly Deep Knowledge or Legacy Blades)
Spirit Beregond, Drû-buri-Drû, and Lore Pippin (add in all those great Spirit cards like Test of Will, Hasty Stroke, Reforged, Stand and Fight, plenty of threat reduction, Poison Darts, Resourceful, and more willpower allies)
And finally, you could try Spirit Theoden, Drû-buri-Drû, and Lore Pippin (or Spirit Eowyn) for a fun thematic Rohan/Wose deck (maybe even pull in ALeP’s Last Alliance contract!).
To close this out, here’s one last example of a best-case scenario:
You have Wose Potion, Warning Cry, and Wose Headman attached to Drû-buri-Drû. You’ve got two Drúadan Warriors and a Drúadan Stalker on the table, with a Drummer and a Mustering in your hand (not an unusual game state).
You play the Drummer, giving each of your Wose allies extra willpower. Questing with both your Warriors, your Drummer, Drû-buri-Drû, Smeagol, and Mirlonde, you have 14 willpower. You draw a Gundabad Climber which surges (via Bolg) into a Bodyguard.
You engage both the enemies and use Mustering of the Drúedain to discard your Drummer (giving Drû-buri-Drû a resource and a coin). You put a Hunter into play, killing the Climber and dealing 2 damage to the Bodyguard. Then, you discard a Drúadan Warrior (getting another coin and a resource) to ready Drû. Drû and your Stalker attack and destroy the Bodyguard, which you attach to the Stalker. Now you can Feint the next Orc you draw, and you return the Warrior from your discard pile to your hand. Next round, you buy your Warrior, recur and buy your Drummer for another global willpower boost, and still have at least 2 coins left over.
In all, this is a really fun archetype to play. I’m sure better decks could be made, but I’m happy with how mine turned out. I hope you enjoy it, and happy questing!