As can be seen in my Storage Solutions articles, I like to build several decks at once instead of building a specific deck for each scenario. While both methods of deckbuilding have their merits, I prefer this style. However, building 10+ decks at once comes with a couple of challenges that people are struggling with. People reached out to me for some tips, so this article is for those of you who are looking to have several deck built at once in order to tackle several scenarios with the same deck.
Before we begin, I would like to stress that I do not consider myself to be an expert deckbuilder. While I do have several decks on RingsDB, they tend to be multiplayer orientated and are sometimes a bit outdated. But I do deck build myself at times, so I feel confident enough to make this article. But be aware that I might miss some aspects of deckbuilding, in which case a correction or addition to this article would be appreciated. This article will also be more tailored to players with a larger card pool, as new players simply don’t have enough cards to facilitate a large number of decks. I argue that each cycle of content can get you roughly 1.5 new decks, with improvement to the others. Owning the Ringmaker cycle, for instance, can build you a solid Silvan deck, and the other cards help in rounding out your Rohan deck together with cards from other sets. I do believe there is an eventual upper limit to the number of decks you could possibly make that can hold their own, but for the sake of this article, I will tend to focus on having around 12 decks built at the same time. This article is also talking about the physical cards, as online deckbuilding is far easier and doesn’t really care about how many decks you have in your library.
Before getting to the benefits of having so many decks, I would like to discuss some of the drawbacks to having this many decks built at the same time. If you find that these disadvantages outweigh the later advantages, feel free to adopt your own style of deckbuilding. There are no wrong decisions with deckbuilding for this game.
- Your decks are generally weaker than precision made decks. This is pretty obvious since you build a deck so that it can handle multiple quests without changing cards. However, this does leave you vulnerable to specific encounter combos. Not all decks will have Condition removal for instance, which will make it difficult to deal with some quests. You could keep a small sideboard with your decks so that you have some cards to swap out in order to compensate for encounter cards like that. I will stress that if you are looking to beat a certain scenario or are playing in progression and/or campaign mode, that precision deckbuilding will serve you better.
- You will have fewer copies of staple cards. This is something that a lot of people who only have 1 copy of all sets will come across often. If you only have 1 copy of an AP, you only get 3 copies of the staple card in that pack. If you are planning on building several decks at once, you are going to run low on those staple cards by deck 4-5. And if you want multiple decks to have that staple card, you will have to cut down the number of those cards in your original deck in order to spread them out. The obvious solution would be to buy multiple copies of the pack from which you need that card, but outside of a second Core Set, that generally is a waste of money. Proxying cards will make for a more elegant solution, but I will cover that later.
- Finding the deck you want to use takes a little longer. Sure, this is a minor inconvenience, but with so many decks, you may be confused at what deck is the one you want to bring to the quest. I suggest colour coding your decks in a way that seems logical to you through sleeves. With mono-sphere decks, this is easy, but you can also find a system that you like based on the purpose of the deck (Woodmen->green, Mining deck-> gold, Spirit-Lore deck-> turquoise).
- Finding the cards you need for a different deck is a problem. This is a larger issue, as it can sometimes be confusing to where that last copy of an ally you really need is for your new deck. But if you build all your decks yourself, and have a sharp memory, you should be able to find it.
- Taking all the decks apart and rebuild other decks takes a lot of time. Sure, it takes a while to unsleeve the cards, put them into piles according to sphere and type, and then store them only to rebuild a new deck with them later. But if you don’t like that, the game might not be for you. The deckbuilding part of the game is a big part for the LCG, and while this may take a long time, I tend to enjoy seeing the decks destroyed, only to rebuild them later. It may even spark new ideas. If you were to switch to finetuning the decks to certain scenarios, you will be doing this a lot more than with this strategy, so I like to take an afternoon every 2 months or so and rebuild my decks.
- Making adjustments is harder. If after some deck testing, you want to make some adjustments to your deck, you may come to realise that the card you wanted is in another deck already. Worst case sceanrio is if you need a card from another deck that is build around this card in particular. While this may be rare, you will come across this eventually. To avoid this, either be sure that your earlier decks are strong enough, or deck test those decks before moving on to build the next one.
With the negatives out of the way, let’s now check out why you should have multiple decks ready at the same time. These may be a bit biased, but I speak from experience here.
- Your deckbox looks like a rainbow of coloured sleeves. Ok, ok, I fear that may just be personal to me. But you have to admit, it looks pretty.
- You’ll be able to pick up games faster. If you only have a short amount of time to play a quick game, you don’t want to be stuck with only your deck that is perfect for tackling Carn Dum or Ruins of Belegost. Those are tailor-made for certain scenarios and may not fare well against the scenario you wanted to play. Having several decks available at once can allow you to attempt any regular quest with the chance of winning.
- Multiplayer pickup games are easier. If someone in your game group forgot their decks or the deck they brought overlaps too much with other decks, you can hand them one of your decks. Since you built it together with the deck you are playing, you can be relatively certain that the heroes don’t overlap. You can also build fellowships with this strategy that play well with each other, making for a more fun multiplayer experience.
- You can make some really thematic decks. While I will cover the benefits of trait-specific decks later, it is fun to just bring out an all-Dale deck to the table and making it work.
- You get to use cards you normally don’t see. Not only does this include the player cards in your deck, but it is fun to see some other heroes in your lineup other than Tactics Eowyn, Erestor, Arwen, and Leadership Denethor. With having 10 decks, you are bound to need 30 heroes, which adds to your variety. You will also have the deck space to build around these heroes so that they don’t necessarily have to suck. For other player cards, it can be fun to see something else in your hand than the third copy of Steward of Gondor that you drew into with Daeron’s Runes. Variety is what makes your deck unique and memorable.
I will write the strategy on how to build multiple decks at once from the perspective of someone who is close to owning the entire cardpool. If you do not own as much, the numbers in this section may be a bit lower as you can support fewer decks. The tips remain the same though, so it is still worth the read.
Decks 1-3: The most powerful decks
When starting to build this many decks, the first few decks are the easiest. Just think about what kind of deck you want to build, or what card you want to build around. If you need help with constructing an entire decklist, look at those published by others on RingsDB, netdecking isn’t frowned upon, and actually encouraged for newer players so that they learn about combos and archetypes. While deckbuilding from lists like this, you will burn through your staple cards really quickly. Many decklists will include 3 copies of cards like Steward of Gondor, Warden of Healing, Unexpected Courage, Master of the Forge, Feint, Daeron’s Runes, Sneak Attack, A Test of Will, Gandalf, and many other strong cards. You can simply follow these decklists as usual, but in order to sustain future decks, consider cutting some 3-offs to 2 copies. In return, you can add cards that find these cards easier in your deck. This can be Word of Command, Open the Armoury, or Gather Information. Just making this little adjustment makes sure that you can add some of these staples to later decks as well.
For the rest, these decks will build themselves, you have the entire card pool to your disposal and will be able to make several decks that you like to explore without them sharing too many cards. If you do happen to run out of staples at this point, you can list the cards you don’t want to see in your RingsDB search results to make it easier on yourself.
These decks tend to be the strongest decks, as they have a coherent synergy and not too many cards that have no purpose in the deck. These decks can be your fail-save in case other decks don’t make it through the scenario. I personally tend to construct an Outlands deck at this stage, just so that I have something to smash most scenarios with if all else fails.
Usual deck types in this category: Anything that you would like to play and that fits your card pool, usually your strongest decks.
Decks 4-7: The traited decks
Now that you have your most powerful decks built, and your choice in heroes is starting to decrease, it is time to look at trait synergy. Some heroes might not fit general decks, but will work better in a deck centered around their synergy. Take for instance Celeborn, who gets better as you hone in more and more on the Silvan style of playing allies in that deck. So you can include him and 2 other heroes that could work well in that deck as the foundations of a Silvan deck.
Another benefit of these traited decks is that they don’t tend to have a lot of overlap with other decks when it comes to cards. You are unlikely to play cards like O Lorien outside of a Silvan deck, so you may as well include 2-3 copies in this trait-centred deck. This argument holds up for several well-developed traits that have their own exclusive cards that work really well in their respective decks. Think about Fast Hitch in a Hobbit deck, Westfold Horse-breeder in a Rohan/Mount deck, Erebor Battlemaster in a Dwarf deck, and the different cost reducers in their respective traits.
Having a trait-centered deck is also fun to play for thematic purposes. It can be a bit odd to the lore-focused players to see a Dwarf with Steward of Gondor attached, so having lore-friendly ways in your deck to circumvent this anomaly can be great fun. Focusing on a specific archetype like Dwarven Mining can also allow you to play other cards that wouldn’t see play in other decks, freeing up more general cards for later use.
For deckbuilding tips at this stage, you can go to RingsDB for inspiration, but be ready to find that you used some of the staples in previous decks. In that case, you can try to find a replacement card to use instead. For instance, if you have run out of Core Set Gandalf, and the decklist you want to use needs him for threat reduction, you could experiment with Keen As Lances. Not only does the card cost the same initially, but it gets cheaper the more copies you play. It may not be as powerful as Core Set Gandalf, but then again, what is? Proxying can also be a required strategy at this stage.
In the end, these decks may lack some of the staples that went into the earlier decks, but you should be able to make some solid synergy-focused decks out of your card pool with what you have left. The interaction between cards will make the deck survive against normal scenarios while also being fun to play and show off to lore fanatics.
Usual deck types in this category: Decks focused on one specific trait (Noldor, Silvan, Rohan, etc) or on one specific archetype (Dwarven Mining, allies with attachments, Traps).
Decks 8-12: The mono-sphere decks
With both the staples gone and the trait-specific decks having exhausted quite a few heroes and useful cards, you are starting to run out of options. However, there are still sleeves without cards in them, and flipping through your binder, you may notice that you haven’t yet used some cards that you find interesting. This is where the mono-sphere decks come in. Building with only one sphere in mind will make for a pretty specific deck, but will allow you to pay more easily for more expensive cards. Over the years, the power of mono-sphere decks has grown considerably, with each sphere now being viable given the right cards.
Tactics has for instance seen the most change, and can now produce a pretty strong deck focused on bringing out allies at different points during the round. Remember that there are certain smaller synergies and traits that are bound to only a specific sphere. At this stage you could make a simpler Caldara deck, and throw in some high-cost allies that are left in your binder. Voila, there is another deck. For Lore, you could try a Secrecy build, but if you would go for a Victory Display deck, you can fill half your deck with the events required, making for a brand new deck. You could pat out the deck with some Ents you have left over so that you have s pretty strong late-game deck that would survive in a multiplayer environment.
Experimentation at this point is key, try to find cards that you haven’t used in a while, and try to build a deck with them. You don’t have to worry as much about the cost of the cards, as you have 3 heroes with the same sphere at this point. There are also some cards from the Against the Shadow cycle that only work in mono-sphere decks, and it is unlikely you have exhausted those cards at this stage already. Throw in some record attachments so that you can recycle the few copies of events that are worth replaying, and you should end up at 50 cards soon.
Usual deck types in this category: Eagles, Caldara, Victory Display, Woodmen, Gondor, any other mono-sphere line-up.
Decks 13 and higher: The scraps
At this stage, you will have exhausted the last of your “good” cards, but maybe you have some cards in your binder that would make for a nice dual-sphere deck. Decks like this are usually focused on one or two tasks, like Direct Damage or Location Control. Since these tasks have cards in several spheres, it is easier to find some scraps in your binder and make a deck out of them. These decks won’t have many of the glue cards like in your earlier decks, but will still hold their own in a multiplayer game where you actually need a player to fill the role of support.
If you are unable to make a deck out of this, since you used too many cards in other decks, you can start to get creative. Make a Secrecy deck with only 2 heroes for instance. Not only will this help you in selecting your heroes, but the Secrecy archetype has some specific cards that may not have been picked up by other decks. If you made a Hobbit deck, there is a likelihood that cards like Resourceful are out of the cardpool already, but cards like Strider can make up for this. Try using some Guarded player cards like Necklace of Girion as well in such a deck, who knows how well it will work.
Know when to call it quits though, there is no point in building decks that cannot hold themselves in a fight and are made up of very weak cards that you happen to have left over. Eventually, you will stick with some cards left in your binder, and if you do not intend to ever use the scrap deck that you are building, it will save you time to not build it at all.
Usual deck types in this category: Twin decks, Location Control, Direct Damage, Secrecy, Two-hero decks, One-hero decks, multiplayer related decks, whatever you threw at the wall and stuck.
Tips & Tricks
The strategy above isn’t perfect and you may want to use some of these tips when deckbuilding multiple decks at once.
- Feel free to proxy cards that you need more copies of. This is especially important if you need some more copies of staple cards in each of your decks without reducing the chance of finding it to 1 in 50. Proxying is not frowned upon in this game, as it is a co-op multiplayer game, or even a solo game in which case you only have yourself to deal with. Make sure you don’t go over the 3 copy per deck limit, but otherwise, proxy away. You can make some nice alt art proxy cards using Strange Eons, or you can use similar costing cards that you otherwise never play as the card you need. (Using Power in the Earth as Light of Valinor for instance).
- In order to save a bit of deckspace, try to run 1 or 2 copies of a card you have never really given much thought. Not only does this save you a space in your decks, but you will also eventually come across that card during play. Who knows, maybe the card will do fine in your deck.
- If you have a rough idea on what you want a new deck to focus on, try finding a similar deck on RingsDB. Maybe this can give you some inspiration on what other cards to include. You don’t have to follow the exact decklist, but it can help.
- Know when you have enough decks. There is no point in going on until you have a crappy lineup of heroes with a supporting deck that won’t work. This is time wasted that you could also use for deck testing your other decks.
I hope this article has helped you to understand how to deck build with so many decks at once. If you have additions to any part of the article based on your own experience, feel free to let me know, and I’ll add it to the article. I am curious to hear what crazy number of viable decks you guys have constructed at once. My record is 15, but as the card pool grows, this number can be matched or even surpassed.
(To those asking about the thumbnail, the decks are: Dale – Mono Tactics Eagles – Hobbits – Direct Damage -Woodmen/location control – Mono Lore Victory Display/Secrecy – Silvans – Side-quests – Mono Spirit Caldara – Rohan – Mono Leadership Outlands – Dwarven Swarm – Dwarven Mining – Dunedain (outside the box)) The Decklists can all be found here.