One of my favorite parts in Lord of the Rings isn’t even in the main trilogy of novels. I love the relationships that have already formed between certain characters by the time our protagonist, Frodo Baggins, even meets them. One in particular that interests me, and most fans I would believe, would be the relationship between Gandalf and Aragorn. It’s made clear in the books that they’ve worked together before, and that the two of them have been working against Sauron long before Frodo even laid eyes on the ring. With this deck I hope to assemble a sort of “Crew” together to best replicate those adventures.
I don’t really know what to call this deck. I’m not even sure how well it preforms. I honestly want to make it a little more thematic. Nevertheless, I wanted to build a deck around this guy… and this guy only. The current flavor of the week: Hero Gandalf.
Our favorite Istari (or at least mine) has it all. With 3 Willpower, Attack, AND Toughness, Gandalf is sure to fulfill any role you give him. His high threat of 14, although the highest to date, makes him more restrictive but also way more interesting than our lovely Spirit Glorfindel.
Ironically, and possibly a little hypocritically he makes it in as well. I toyed around with the idea of a 2-hero deck, and I still want to try it, but for the time being I didn’t want to chance it and so, I needed a hero with a low threat and some questing umph, vís-a-vís Glorfindel.
However, the reason why I wanted a low threat hero, and the reason I want to toy around with a 2-hero deck is none other than our favorite Ranger From the North, Aragorn, Son of Arathorn and in this particular case, Loragorn.
For thematic purposes I saw Loragorn a better choice because I see that character roaming around with Gandalf in the wilds, hunting orcs, keeping an eye on the enemy, and pursuing creatures such as Gollum, all for the good of the realm. Leadership Aragorn, even if he is completely capable, represents an Aragorn further down the road in my mind and so, here we are with the Lore version. (As a note, I am now toying around with replacing Glorfindel with Legolas for thematic reasons. It’s clear that Legolas and Aragorn may have crossed paths before, and I like the idea of the trio running around the woods together pre-LOTR doing good guy deeds, I don’t know, we’ll see in the future how that goes).
Anyway, onto some of the player cards.
Let’s just delve right into the Istari Aresenal of cards we get to play with. First off, I’ve included 3 copies of Gandalf’s Staff. Clearly this attachment can be an amazing card and since it only says attach to Gandalf, not Gandalf the Hero, I can see some other decks having fun with this card using Gandalf 2.0 or maybe even the Core Set version. All that aside, the ability to react to shadow card effects is an automatic plus. On the other side of things, should a nasty card come up and a player be one resource short of a life saving card, just exhaust the Staff and give them a resource. And lastly, who doesn’t want to draw cards? Though I see this being a refresh phase action, it may also work well with Gandalf’s hero ability in getting unwanted cards off the top of your deck.
Speaking of deck manipulation, there are also 3 copies of Wizard Pipe, a neutral 1 cost attachment which reads:
“Attach to an Istari character. Limit 1 per character (again Allies included). Action: Exhaust Wizard Pipe to exchange a card in your hand with the top card of your deck.”
What a card. Especially mixed with Hero Gandalf’s ability you can easily manipulate the top of your deck with the right card you need. Then, once you play the card you need off the top of your deck, you essentially go through your deck a little more, generating card advantage as the game goes on.
Last on the Istari Arsenal is 3 copies of Flame of Arnor, a 1 cost neutral event that reads:
“ Add Flame of Anor to the victory display and discard the top card of your deck to ready an Istari character you control. That character gets +X Attack until the end of the phase where X is the discarded card’s cost.”
This is one of those cards that I’m a little unsure of, and I’m sure it’s usefulness will depend entirely on how you use the Wizard Hero. But let’s be real, Gandalf the Grey did his fair share of hashing it out with the Orc-Bros from Mordor, so it’s safe to say we can let him do some of the punching. Not only can this potentially turn Gandalf into a beast, but it can also get rid of dead cards in your hand. Let’s take the Staff itself for an example. If I have one on the top of my deck (or in my hand which can be switched thanks to the pipe) and already have a copy attached, I can simply use Flame of Anor to give Gandalf not only a readying ability but also a slight attack boost to his already very modest stat. Though I’m unsure, as I write this I feel confident it could be helpful in enemy heavy decks.
Before I retire for the night I would like to discuss one other crew member, though he is more honorary in this matter. This would be none other than everyone’s favorite hobbit hero, Bilbo Baggins (the Spirit Ally Version). Like many of these cards, Spirit Ally Bilbo comes from the new Saga Expansion: The Road Darkens. He costs 2 resources, has 2 Willpower, 0 Attack, and 0 Strength and 2 hitpoints and reads:
“Response: After Bilbo Baggins enters play, search your deck for a Pipe attachment and add it to your hand. Shuffle your deck.”
It has yet to be seen if this new Bilbo can make those infamous hobbit pipes more interesting, but it goes without saying that our lovely Mr. Baggins will find himself at home with his old friend. Being able to fetch a key component of the deck so easily makes Bilbo an auto include in this deck, and I’d be tempted to add him even without the Spirit Sphere being present outside of Gandalf’s ability.
I’ll see how the deck plays out in the near future, but in the mean time I will post the deck list below. Feel free to try it out, call me out on any weird choices, and let me know any improvements that can be made. This deck most likely can’t do too much on its own Solo, so I recommend at least playing with a 2nd player or 2-handed. This is Second Hand Took’s first post, I hope you enjoyed it. Have a great evening!
In Progress Deck Title: The Crew
x1 Aragorn (Lore)
x1 Glorifndel (Spirit)
x3 Bilbo Baggins
x3 Zigil Miner
x3 Ithilien Lookout
x3 Envoy of Pelargir
x2 Escort from Edoras
x2 Master of the Forge
x2 Silvan Refugee
x1 Greyflood Wanderer
x1 Northern Tracker
x3 Light of Valinor
x2 Ancient Mathom
x2 Protector of Lorien
x2 A Burning Brand
x3 Elrond’s Counsel
x2 Desperate Alliance
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