Good Evening All! For November I am focusing on one of my favorite characters in the novels, Sam Gamgee, a hobbit hero that belongs to the Leadership Sphere.
One thing I have yet to touch on yet on this card are some of the deck lists that contain him. It’s been an interesting search so far, and I’ve noticed that most of the builds that contain Sam are quite similar and Hobbit focused. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but I’m hoping as the card pool grows there will be more room for him (or if the hobbit card pool grows at least).
Nevertheless, the typical Hobbit shell that we can find Sam in is an awesome one. It has been a joy to play and was one of the reasons why I kept playing the game. About a year ago I got into the game, with no clue what packs to get or what decks were viable and so on. I came across this Hobbit Deck, put it together and ran with it! It was a blast to play and I have rebuilt it again and again, always enjoying the way it plays. I really do hope the pool for hobbit cards grow because this play style might be one of my favorites. On to the deck itself:
The deck, which can be found here, is from an awesome blog called Tales From The Cards. I can’t express it enough how vital and informative this blog is as well as being entertaining to read and follow. The gentleman who runs it, Ian, is very good at analyzing strategy and deckbuilding and has even created his own custom set! Seriously… check it out.
As for the deck itself, the version that he had posted is called Stings Like a Bee and is the second deck of two hobbit decks he initially created. Where the first deck Floats Like A Butterfly (see what he did there?) is all about ducking and dodging the enemy the second deck, Stings Like a Bee, is all about engaging the enemies when YOU want to and then swinging at them for all your worth. It can be quite a powerful deck, and in the saga expansions where your Hobbit Hero count can increase to four things can get out of hand easily.
What really makes the deck shine are the three heroes, seen below:
I won’t go into detail on these three heroes, as I already did on an earlier post which can be found here, but the synergy between these three is so good you can see why it’s hard not to include Merry and Pippin with Sam. Pippin keeps the engagement cost of enemies just a tiny bit higher than usual, giving you those ample extra turns to keep your strategy alive. Then when you bring down the enemies Pippin rewards you by drawing a card for you with no need to exhaust him. Then, assuming Sam has committed to the quest with his rather high willpower, he will then be readied with a significant boost to all his stats. Lastly, Merry with a significant attack strength of 3 (or 4 if you have Fellowship Frodo with you) can join with Sam to kill an enemy then ready another attacker that joined him (possibly Sam) and have that person take another whack at another enemy. These three heroes came out of the same Saga Expansion and it’s very obvious. Each hobbit truly shines when they are together as such and like I mentioned above, it’s hard to justify why you’d want to shake that up.
And don’t worry, that’s not what we’re doing here. Because Ian’s deck, Stings Like a Bee is poised to abuse the synergy of these three as much as possible. Let’s start with some allies:
This is only a sampling of some of the allies in the build, and there are others that are in the deck that just help in general (such as the Faramir Ally that can really boost questing). These five allies however, do a real good job of keeping the deck alive, and you can see for all but one of them that’s literally what they do. Bill, which is might I add free if you control Sam Gamgee, gives all of your hobbits an extra hit point and a tiny bit of questing power. Dori, soaks up any unforeseen damage that may affect your little hobbits. And for the damage you know you can handle, there’s the Warden of Healing who can fix ’em up for the next round. Should you find one of your hobbits tragically lost you can then use Landroval to bring them back into play, albeit a little hurt. Last, but definitely not least is Bofur, a tactics ally with a decent amount of willpower who has the ability to get some weapons that you will most certainly need, but more on that later. As you can see these allies keep the deck afloat and on the task at hand. But with all of these allies, at varying costs and spheres, it can be hard to get them out at the right time.
These two cards are great methods in getting allies on the field either at the right moment, a la Sneak Attack, or for absolutely no cost with Elf-Stone. Some of the other allies contained in the deck that I hadn’t posted, like Beorn for instance, benefit from either of these cards rather well because, like Landroval they are quite expensive especially in a tri-sphere deck. The only issue with Elf-Stone is that if you are playing with more than one player the player count increases and so the chances that you will get the benefit from Elf-Stone start dwindling. Of course, if the other decks playing alongside you have other valuable allies it could help the quest as a whole.
Which leads us to resource generation/management. Thankfully there are a few different options for this deck.
I can’t imagine a deck containing a leadership hero without containing Steward of Gondor as well. As for a tri-sphere deck, I can’t imagine not having a card like Errand-Rider providing much needed resource management. Should you have a bad luck on draws and are getting nothing but tactics cards, you can use either of these cards to adjust accordingly and make sure you have the resources to get a steady stream of valuable cards onto the board. Both of these cards not only improve the resource management of your heroes but can also help out any other players who may be joining you, which of course is a benefit to everyone.
But let’s go back to the point of this whole deck. Keeping enemies at bay until just the right moment at which point the hobbits strike back and take them down. Here are the cards to make it happen.
Consider this your Hobbit arsenal; Your Hobbit bag of tricks. The first and certainly most important of the attachments is the Dagger of Westernesse. This one cost Tactics attachment will boost a hero’s attack by 1 (or by 2 if they are engaging an enemy with a higher engagement cost than the player’s threat). Typically you would want to slap two on Merry for the ultimate killing machine, having him swing in for a potential 8 Attack! The next card in the list is Feint, a very important Tactics event that can make sure an enemy will refrain from attacking you, either saving your defender from dying or keeping your defender (who will most likely be Sam) ready for attacking alongside Merry. Speaking of Sam, who is the point of this article after all, a good attachment for him is Hobbit Cloak. Considering you want to be engaging enemies with a higher engagement cost most of the time, Sam will be constantly getting a +2 to his Defense on top of his +1 he got from the initial engagement, bringing his total defense to 4. Not too bad for a Hobbit! The next attachment is in the Lore Sphere and can really benefit Merry AND Sam as it is a very simple, one cost readying effect. It’s pretty simple and that’s one of my favorite things about the card. Lastly is a card that I have found quite useful in my games and that is Halfling Determination. Halfling Determination is a Tactics event that for one cost can give your hero a +2 to all of his Stats until the end of the phase. Quite simply this card can save you in a pinch. It can give you enough willpower to get through a location or quest. It can give your defender a little extra boost to survive an attack. And of course it can give any of your Hobbits +2 to their attack, allowing them to defeat an enemy they may otherwise have been unable to slay.
The deck has been around for awhile, thanks in no small part to the Saga Expansion that released a majority of its components. As the card pool grows, however, I am finding more and more player cards that can be added to the deck. Some cards that come to mind are the ally characters that show up in The Road Darkens Saga Expansion, in particular Boromir, Elrond, and even Galdriel. Each of the allies work surprisingly well in some aspect for this build. Boromir meshes well with the engagement cost mechanic that defines the Deck. Elrond provides some much needed saving with his card draw, healing, or condition removal! And of course there’s Galadriel who can any of the attachments in the deck into play for free, should the player draw them from the top five of their deck.
So there you have it. The quintessential Hobbit build. It’s fun to tweak the deck ever so slightly, and the deck of course has seen it’s alterations both from Ian and other players since the Saga Expansion came out last year. I’m especially excited to see what these builds can do especially once the Saga Expansions that focus on Frodo and Sam are released but Sadly that is a long time coming. This is still one of my favorite decks to play and I can’t see myself ever being bored with it to be perfectly honest.
What are your thoughts on this build? Is it fun to play for you or do you prefer a different style of play? If you have a deck similar what is different?