To continue our coverage of the 4 big occupational traits, we come to the Scout trait. I actually like a deck that runs some Scout cards, as they invite a very control like deck. The Scouts also tend to focus more on the quest than attacking enemies, giving the other decks the ability to plan ahead. Let’s get started right away with this trait!
Who are the Scouts?
This is one of the traits that is not directly linked to a certain race in Middle Earth, multiple factions use Scouts to inspect the land and notify the army of dangers ahead. These dangers can be enemies, in which case the Scouts bring advance warning to the main force, or they can be locations, in which case the Scouts will try to clear the location of any threats. A notable use of Scouts was used by the Free Armies of the West during their attack on the Black Gate, where a Scout force under command of the Rangers of Ithilien took down an Orc Vanguard before the main host would be troubled by it. The Scouts are found in a multitude of factions, but any character that wishes to become a Scout may require the Fearless Scout attachment from the Haradrim Cycle.
The Scout trait has been with the game since the Core Set, where it already combined with the Silvan and Rohan trait. Since Angmar Awakened, the Scout trait got better developed, with Scout-only cards. The trait is still very common in recent releases, as Ered Mithrin is trying to involve more Scouting with Dalians and Woodmen. There is a multitude of packs out there that will help you get a Scout themed deck going in no-time.
- Core Set
- The Redhorn Gate
- Foundations of Stone
- Voice of Isengard
- Entire Ringmaker cycle, especially Three Trials
- The Wastes of Eriador
- The Grey Havens
- The Thing in the Depths
- Temple of the Deceived
- The Drowned Ruins
- Race Across Harad
- Beneath the Sands
- The Black Serpent
- Wilds of Rhovanion
- The Withered Heath
- Roam across Rhovanion
- Fire in the Night
The Scout trait has in recent cycles been focused on by the Spirit sphere, which is where the majority of Scout related cards can be found. But this does not mean that it is a Spirit exclusive trait. Leadership and Lore also have a fair share of Scouts, with only Tactics falling behind. The Lore related cards tend to focus on the cooperation with the Ranger trait like Guarded Ceaselessly, or on the side-quest mechanic with cards like the East Road Ranger. Leadership provides more allies from Gondor and Rohan, and allows the Scout deck some more offensive and defensive cards.
The Scout synergy relies on questing hard, and exploring locations. While this may not seem like much of a synergy, it can be surprising how much willpower a dedicated Scout deck can put out. This synergy is harnessed the most in one card: Scouting Party. This 2 cost event allows you a bonus of +2 willpower to every character you have committed to the quest, as long as all characters have the Scout trait. This makes every Scout character a great quester, and ensures that the deck will make a good amount of progress during the next quest phase. The fact that it does not limit itself to once per round makes it even exploitable, though at a high cost. Playing all three copies of this event at once will grant all Scouts a temporary +6 willpower per character. If your deck is dedicated to the trait and to questing hard, this card will pump it up to the next level.
Scouts also tend to do a lot of exploration, so you can be sure that a Scout deck will take care of locations for the group. This can even be seen in one of the earliest cards in the card pool with the trait: Lorien Guide. This ally puts one progress on the active location when she commits to the quest. This allows players to make more progress on the quest card, as the active location no longer absorbs progress. In later phases of the card pool, this ability got transferred into an attachment: Map of Rhovanion. It is one of the ways to explore locations outside regular questing, but the Scouts have more tricks up their sleeve. Players can discard locations and replace it with other locations with cards like Distant Stars and Mariner’s Compass. Players can make progress on locations with Rhovanion Outrider or Snowbourn Scout, softening up locations for other effects.
All these effects make for a very fun supportive deck type, and is great to bring to location heavy quests. In terms of combat, the Scout deck is less powerful, though some effects like Well Warned and Expert Trackers will trigger upon engaging enemies. Other items like Grey Cloak will avoid enemies, so there is something for every type of player.
Synergy with other traits
There are a host of different racial traits given to the Scout cards in the card pool, so all will work well in decks centred around those traits. Dale decks will make great use of cards like the North Realm Lookout, while Rohan will find the Snowbourn Scout a useful target to leave play through various effects. Most of the allies will find their way into their respective traits, making them a useful addition to the questing side of that deck.
Rangers and Scouts have also got a lot of cards shared in their card pools, as discussed last time. The ability to quest hard and avoid enemies makes for a powerful deck between the two traits, and is a lot of fun to explore. If you are going down this route, try going for a Dúnedain style deck, as that trait has got easy access to both Rangers and Scouts.
The Scout trait has some powerful cards bearing its trait, so let’s discuss some of them here. The first one to cover is one of my favourite heroes in the game at this point, and she was the spark that lit the Scout deck into existence: Idraen. With very solid stats for a Spirit hero and being the only Spirit Dunedain hero in the pool up to this point, she has found her way into many decks. Not only does she allow you to quest with her, but whenever a location is explored, Idraen readies. This allows you to use her for combat, or to use her traits for various abilities. One of my favourites is to use her plus Strength of Will to travel to a location and immediately explore it. This frees up the active location slot for another location to travel to using Thror’s Map or South Away! 2 defence and 4 hitpoints can also make her a decent defender in a pinch, though some defensive equipment is advised. While she has quite a high starting threat for a Spirit hero, she does come in the sphere that has the most options when it comes to threat reduction, so that cost is less of a problem. Try her out in a location control deck, and you won’t regret it.
Rhovanion Outrider is a Scout character that is getting a lot of use in the recent expansions. Since it is a Dale character, it benefits strongly from being in a Dale deck which puts attachments on it. The Outrider on its own can put one progress on a location in the staging area, and will get +1 willpower if that location wasn’t explored because of this effect. If it does clear the location, then the Outrider is essentially questing for 1+ that location’s threat. With Map of Rhovanion, Brand son of Bain, and cards like Scouting Party, this ally becomes a powerhouse which pumps out progress on locations as well as questing hard. The recent Dale archetype made him even better, since his relative high cost can now be offset by King of Dale.
Warden of Arnor is one of the better Scout-only attachments out there, though it is unique. It basically gives the players the same effect as Thalin, but only for the first location revealed each round. This softens some locations up and makes 3 quest point locations easier to manage with Asfaloth or other effects. While the attachment does require that the attached hero commits to the quest, this is hardly a problem since your Scout heroes tend to be questing anyway. The attachment is also protected from a lot of treacheries, since it is a Title, meaning it can’t be discarded during quests like Dunland Trap or Foundations of Stone. The effect may be marginal, but for a true location control deck, that 1 extra point of progress can be crucial in getting rid of a lot of threat in the staging area.
“Bad” Scout cards
It wasn’t easy picking “bad” scout cards, as most cards with the trait have a place in some decks and perform well. Snowbourn Scout isn’t a power card, but it has its uses in a Rohan deck, which is why I don’t include it in this segment. However, two Scout allies stood out as being very rare in games, and after a closer look, they actually do deserve a mention here, as they can’t be considered “good” cards.
I really want to like the Ravenhill Scout, especially now that Dale is becoming more a thing, but he is just not doing it for me. At 3 cost he is an incredibly expensive ally for his stats in Lore, being the same cost as Elrond, who is far superior. The Ravenhill Scout has an effect where progress between locations can be exchanged, but only in groups of 2, unlike Infighting for damage between enemies. Even with Dale synergy with King of Dale and Brand son of Bain, this guy is just taking up space in your deck. He might prove useful in a future Woodmen deck, but that remains to be seen.
With Secrecy becoming more viable as the card pool progresses, there are still some duds in that mechanic that also happen to be a Scout. I am talking about the Rivendell Scout, which becomes a free ally once the player is in Secrecy, but is a 2 coster outside of Secrecy. With no other keywords or abilities, the Rivendell Scout is a bland filler ally, that doesn’t really play well with any synergy at this time. While it could be great having a few of these out as chumps, it is an early game ally with limited stats and survivability. It also doesn’t play well with the Noldor synergy, so there is next to no reason for playing this ally, besides using it for triggering Scout abilities for free, though even then, players will have to draw the ally quickly and build around a Secrecy deck.
Honourable mention goes to Trollshaw Scout as well. It is borderline “bad” in my eyes, as it is pretty weak on its own and has no synergy for the Scout trait at all. Being a Tactics Scout is also rare, and opens up little in terms of synergy. However, I must credit the developers of the Noldor synergy for basing it around this guy and the Sentinel counter part. Having this ally be a source of discarding cards from your hand is decent and works well with the trait. Maybe if the Tactics Noldor get developed further, this ally may get back into some decks.
There is a wide variety of Scout decks out there that try to combine the trait with other, more faction based traits. Here are some decks to help you get going with a Scout build. As always, if you have deck suggestions of your own, pop them in the comments below.
This marks the halfway point of these occupational traits, with only Noble and Warrior left. I will make sure to do those in the future, completing the set. After those, the trait analyses might go back to factions again, or I might go and do some updating on older articles with cards that have been released in the meantime (Beornings, Eagles, etc).