HOTM Deck: Mono Spirit Gandalf

My. Oh. My.

Where did August go? Things have been hectic at work and next thing I know we are less than a week away from the start of September! Where did the time go?

Well for one thing, I’ve had a hard time wrapping my head around Spirit Merry as a Hero. It’s not that I don’t think he’s good, I think he’s excellent. This particular Hobbit has really made me think in terms of deckbuilding. He adds an interesting approach to deck design, opens the door to many new play styles and strengthens long forgotten cards and reinvigorates old deck ideas. And yet I struggle. It could be the busy month, it could be that I don’t quite know how to use him. It could be, like the Treebeard Hero, that the play style Spirit Merry demands (most of the time) is so different than what I am used to doing. With all of that said, I give you…. Mono Spirit Gandalf?

I know. I know. Weird title for a Mono Spirit Deck that is built with Spirit Merry in mind. To be honest, I struggled building a Spirit Merry deck aside from the ones I’ve already built here and here. I went through a few different builds to get to this point. The first was a tri-sphere Hobbit deck that I almost went forward with posting, but didn’t quite know what to do with it. Then I went for a victory display deck… didn’t gel with me. Then I said the heck with it, I want to abuse Merry’s threat reduction and so I threw Spirit Glorfindel, Frodo Baggins, and Gandalf 2.0 into the mix and decided to see what would happen. I don’t know how I feel about the end product, but here it is regardless.

As previously mentioned the first of the three Heroes included in this list are Spirit Merry (of course). His low threat, Hobbit trait, and ability to keep our threat remarkably low is amazing. He will allow our next Hero to defend again and again without fear of our threat going too high. That second Hero is Frodo Baggins, kin to Merry Brandybuck and still possibly my favorite card art in the game! Frodo, like Merry, has a nice and low starting threat. Making things better he can serve as the deck’s tank, holding off any number of attack by merely raising our threat instead of taking damage. This would otherwise get out of hand quickly but Merry can fix that real quick. Lastly we have good ol’ Spirit Glorfindel. Like the Hobbits, Glorfindel has a low threat (5) and brings this deck to a total starting threat of 18. His high willpower and attack will mean he will be our main quester and attacker, leaving the defense to Frodo. He also has the traits Noldor, Noble, and Warrior. Some of these will really work for us later on.


This deck is all about the allies (and one in particular really). There are a total of 22 allies in the deck, and nearly all of them are devoted to questing. Some of these cards are pretty straightforward like Arwen UndomnielEthir Swordsman, and Pelargir Shipwright. Other allies, like Imladris Stargazer and White Tower Watchmen aren’t for questing but to give the deck more efficiency and some damage redirection respectively. Bilbo Baggins is also included in this deck for two reasons. The first is to quest, as his two willpower is a great addition to our questing ability. However, I wanted to use Bilbo as a way to thin out the deck. His ability to fetch a pipe will remove one less card from the deck reducing the overall number of cards and hopefully, helping us get the cards we need. It’s a bit of a stretch but I want to see how it works in practice. Lastly is the big man himself, and the reason why the title of this deck is so odd.. Gandalf 2.0. This Istari has it all, 4 stats across the board and the ability to not exhaust while questing. He does raise our threat every turn however, but with a combination of Spirit Merry, various events and attachments, and allies like Galadriel’s Handmaiden, we should be just fine. With Frodo as our defender and Glorfindel as our attacker, Gandalf can serve as our quester AND whatever other role is more desirable at the time.


There are 17 attachments in this list. They’re all pretty simple so we’ll just get right to it. Unexpected Courage is ideally meant for Frodo first, followed by Glorfindel and lastly Merry. Light of Valinor goes on Glorfindel of course. Silver Lamp will most likely go on Glorfindel too. Resourceful can go on any Hero thanks to this deck being Mono Sphere. Hobbit Pipe goes to Frodo or Merry and will provide some card draw in a sphere that otherwise has none. And finally for Gandalf there is Gandalf’s Staff and Shadowfax. The staff serves multiple purpose (thanks to the card having 3 different modes) and can help this deck or the deck of any other player out of a tight spot. In a solo game, Shadowfax gives Gandalf even more action advantage, potentially turning him into Quester, Defender, AND Attacker, or allows him to double up on one of the combat roles. In a multiplayer game Shadowfax gives Gandalf the amazing Sentinel keyword. If this deck can stay true to its low threat then it won’t be attracting many enemies. This may be good for the deck in a vacuum but in a multiplayer game those enemies are just going to aggro to players who may get overwhelmed over time. Gandalf with Shadowfax can hopefully give a little bit of assistance to that issue.


And lastly we have the events! This deck has 11, the lowest of the three card types represented in this list. Of those eleven, six are included to keep our threat low and to trigger the hobbit pipes if they are out. These six being three copies of Elrond’s Counsel, two copies of Free to Choose, and one copy of Galadhrim’s Greeting. I thought about including another copy of the greeting but with the deck wanting cards like Gandalf, Unexpected Courage, and Gandalf’s Staff out early resources are going to be tight. Being mono spirit I had to include Test of Will which has three copies. And then finally there’s two copies of Small Target. There was the full suite of three copies included at first but I trimmed it down by one figuring that until a card like Silver Lamp comes out, the card may be too risky to attempt.


So there you have it. A Mono Spirit Deck with Hobbits, Pipes, Elves, and Gandalf. As far as theme goes I kind of like the representation of the various peoples of Middle Earth represented here. As for the overall efficiency of the deck, I remain a little unsure (somewhat due to my struggle to come up with a list to begin with). The deck has no healing, will definitely struggle with combat, and may fall pray to certain nasty keywords like archery. What I do like about the deck is that I think it could pair well with another, and so in the future I hope to create a second deck that will pick up the slack. But for now, my brain is tired, and I had a hard enough time creating this list.

Regardless, let me know what you think! I always appreciate the extra help and suggestions 🙂

Good night!

The Secondhand Took

Deck: Mono Spirit Gandalf

Total Cards: (50)

Hero: (3)
1x Merry (The Wastes of Eriador)
1x Frodo Baggins (Conflict at the Carrock)
1x Glorfindel (Foundations of Stone)

Ally: (22)
3x Gandalf (Over Hill and Under Hill)
2x Bilbo Baggins (The Road Darkens)
2x Arwen Undomiel (The Watcher in the Water)
3x Ethir Swordsman (The Steward’s Fear)
2x Galadriel’s Handmaiden (Celebrimbor’s Secret)
2x Northern Tracker (Core Set)
2x Pelargir Shipwright (Assault on Osgiliath)
2x The Riddermark’s Finest (The Hills of Emyn Muil)
3x Imladris Stargazer (Foundations of Stone)
1x White Tower Watchman (The Drúadan Forest)

Attachment: (17)
2x Gandalf Staff (The Road Darkens)
2x Shadowfax (The Treason of Saruman)
2x Hobbit Pipe (The Black Riders)
3x Light of Valinor (Foundations of Stone)
2x Silver Lamp (The Voice of Isengard)
3x Unexpected Courage (Core Set)
3x Resourceful (The Watcher in the Water)

Event: (11)
3x A Test of Will (Core Set)
3x Elrond’s Counsel (The Watcher in the Water)
2x Free to Choose (Trouble in Tharbad)
2x Small Target (Encounter at Amon Dîn)
1x The Galadhrim’s Greeting (Core Set)

Side Quest: (0)


5 thoughts on “HOTM Deck: Mono Spirit Gandalf

  1. Gwaihir the Windlord

    I played your deck today in a multiplayer game against Nightmare Return to Mirkwood. I had to make a few modifications, as I don’t own two Core Sets, but I tried to insert cards with similar effects (i.e. Miruvor for one copy of Unexpected Courage, Hasty Stroke for missing A Test of Will, etc.). I have a feeling you didn’t build it with Nightmare Mode in mind (correct me if I’m wrong), as my threat escalated rapidly. Thanks to Merry and timely copies of Elrond’s Counsel, I ended the game at 40 threat. I got Gandalf up and running by round four, thanks to his staff and Resourceful, but for some reason forgot that Shadowfax could ready him! It wasn’t until round eight that I began to use it, though I suppose it makes up for us forgetting to put the Nightmare Mode set-up card in play until round four.
    Resourceful actually became one of the most useful cards in the game for me. I drew two copies and eventually had both on Glorfindel, who was unfortunately Caught in a Web, who couldn’t ready without two resources. However, since he had had Light of Valinor since round one, I didn’t really need the resources until I had Gollum on stage four. Stage four states that the player guarding Gollum takes ALL enemies in play at the beginning of the combat phase, so I ended up with a Hill Troll, a King Spider, Ambushing Orcs, and a Web-spinner. I was facing anywhere between three and six attack with these enemies – quite a daunting challenge in a mono-spirit deck. Fortunately, help from sentinel on the other side of the board paired with Shadowfax-ed Gandalf and dispensable allies helped me defend, and my friend (running Legolas/Loragorn/Bombur) used Legolas to attack with me. It turns out this Mono-spirit Gandalf deck is quite combat capable, as I was able to kill all the enemies within two rounds (granted, I had Dagger of Westernesse in Glorfy and a good deal of help). I commend you on your deck-building skills, sir, and hope to see more such decks in the future.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Saw your post yesterday but wanted to take the time to read it all before I responded (busy day yesterday).

      I definitely didn’t build it with Nightmare in mind. My play time is very minimal unfortunately with work eating up a lot of my schedule. I still have a good bit of content to play (mostly heirs of numenor and that cycle). So I haven’t made the dive into Nightmare yet (though I am tempted as of late).

      Glad to hear the deck performed! I truly struggled making a deck for Merry, I don’t know if it was the month I had or my deckbuilding experience but I appreciate you taking my deck for a spin. I’m very inspired to sleeve it up, just need to desleeve another deck until then. I have a friend coming over tomorrow for some gaming and I might pair this with a combat deck and see what we can’t do.

      As always thanks for reading!


      1. Gwaihir the Windlord

        Sent you a reply on Saturday, but it might not have gone through. If so, write another comment and I’ll send it again.


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