After having built a deck to beat each scenario of the Ringmaker-cycle, I want to give an overall summary of the decks I have built and some general deck building strategies for this cycle . I will start with a list of all the decks in links to their articles:
- The Fords of Isen: Watchers of the Isen
(Arwen/Bard sond Brand/Beorn), a Noldor deck built around Watcher of the Bruinen
- To catch an Orc: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
(Glorfindel (S)/Denethor(Lo)/ Treebeard), a Treebeard deck with aggresive quest and combat potential
- Into Fangorn: Old men Walking in the Park
(Bifur/Eowyn (S)/Cirdan), a pure questing deck
- The Dunland Trap: Old Lords and New Tricks (Celeborn/Imrahil(T)/Denethor(Le), a classic Silvan/Tactics Imrahill deck with additions from the Ered Mithrin-cycle
- The Tree Trials: Hammer and Anvil of Pain
(Beravor/Erkenbrand/Gildor and Gimli(T)/Mablung/Radagast), a two handed Fellowship around Gimli and Erkenbrand
- Trouble in Tharbad: How secret can you Keep an Ent? (Treebeard/Elrond/Haldir), a secrecy deck with Treebeard and Elrond, because I can
- The Nin-in-Eilph: The Valar favor the bold
(Eowyn (T)/Theoden(T)/Imrahil(T), a hyper-aggresive mono-Tactics deck
- Celebrimor’s Secret: The Orc Slayers
(Cirdan/Beregond(T)/Dwalin), a Dwalin deck
- The Antlered Crown: Valour of the Boar-Clan (Theoden(T)/Boromir(T)/Thurindir), a Valour deck build around Chief Turch
Big heroes for high tempo
The first things that comes to my mind when looking at those decks is that there are some high starting threat heroes and after calculating my average starting threat I see it’s 30.3, which is pretty high. The heroes I used twice are Treebeard, Theoden (T), Imrahil(T) and Cirdan. Those are certainly not the usual glue heroes! This also lead me to build two Valour decks which is an archetype I don’t run often.
But I think it is necessary for this cycle to bring strong heroes and agressive decks. The time keyword that appears in every quest forces you to move quickly, there is literally no time for stalling with a low threat. Also, if you move faster through the quest stages you’re less likely to threat out, so you are not that punished for your high starting threat.
Fighting hordes of Dunlendings
The common antagonists of this cycle are the Dunlendings and the generic enemies from the Dunland Raiders and Dunland Warriors encounter sets appear in The Fords of Isen, The Dunland Trap and The Antlered Crown. They trigger bad effects depending on you drawing Cards and having a large hand size. This is another argument for strong heroes, because they can often work on their own and are not requiring specific cards (this is also a reason Tactics Imrahil is great against them, accesing your deck without drawing cards).
The Dunlendings are not the most hard hitting enemies (thats in general true for the entire cycle, Mugash is the only enemy with more than 5 attack), but the danger comes from their sheer numbers. For that reason I used in all 3 before mentioned quests at least one character that doesn’t exhaust to defend and twice build my deck around them: Beorn and Watcher of the Bruinen for the Fords of Isen, Greenwood Defender for The Dunland Trap and Chieftain Turch for The Antlered Crown.
Weary Travellers, the set that can ruin your game
Beside those Dunlendings, most of the other Encounters sets that reappear in this cycle are relatively generic and manageable. The one exception is the Weary Travellers deck. Low on Provisions and In Need of Rest are two horrible treacheries that deal a lot of direct damage. Especially for in Need of Rest you really have to be prepared, it will kill a hero if you don’t have healing, damage cancelation or condition removal and definetely gets my vote for the worst encounter card of the cycle. Otherwise the treacheries in this cycle are not to horrible for a solo player, so you can often get away with not playing A Test of Will. That is in fact one of the reasons I like this cycle much better then Dwarrowdelf or Against the Shadows and started this series at this point.
A word on spheres
I have used Tactics heroes in 6 of the quests, Lore 5, Spirit 4 and Leadership only 2 times. While Lore and Tactics are in General my favourite spheres I think also that the first three spheres are more aggresive, while Leadership is the slowest sphere. Steward of Gondor gets better the longer the game lasts and Leadership has a lot of global boosting cards like Faramir that only are really strong if you have already established a board state. In fast paced quests with the time keyword those cards are not optimal.
I’m surprised to see Lore that high on this list, considering the whole card draw hate and that it has not the same high stats heroes like Tactics or Spirit. However, the Dunlendings don’t appear in every scenario, and because of the time keyword I often really needed to get my key cards faster, so having card draw/search from Lore was really helpful.
The Tactics sphere is however the really star here, having both aggresive combat (Beorn, Boromir, Imrahil) and Willpower (Theoden, Eowyn) heroes. With the new additions of Meneldor and Pippin (who was released during this series and managed to sneak into all 3 decks from then on) they have now some great questing allies, that can help them deal with even Location heavy scenarios like Celebrimors Secret or the Antlered Crown. And for the quest that needed the highest amounts of willpower, The Nin-in-Eilph, I only managed to win after switching to a mono-Tactics deck with 11 starting willpower.
This sums up my deckbuilding for the Ringmaker cycle. I had a lot of fun building those decks and finding answers to the very special challenges that some of those scenarios create. But I’m also looking forward to continue with the Angmar Awakened-cycle that has the overall more generic but also harder scenarios.