Needing to take a break from Legolas based Decks and still suffering from a bit of deckbuilding writer’s block, I’ve decided to cover a deck I’ve used in a few different quests to some success. I’ve been pretty happy with this deck and as more cards are released into the card pool I see nothing but improvements to be made. Unfortunately, and I’m a little embarrassed by this, I don’t seem to have a deck list saved anywhere. I’ve rebuilt the deck from scratch, taking into account key cards that shined in the deck while trying to work in some new strategies and, like I mentioned above, some of the new cards introduced in recent AP’s and Expansions.
The deck revolves around Tactics Aragorn (or Scorpigorn), Tactics Merry, and Sam Gamgee. There are a slew of allies in the list to help with defense and supporting our Heroes but for the most our Heroes will be on the offense. The idea of the deck is to get Aragorn and Merry repeatedly slaying enemies and triggering Aragorn’s ability which in turn triggers Sam Gamgee’s ability. This can turn Sam into either a super defender, quester, or attacker depending on our current need. Sam Gamgee already has a few tools at his disposal without comboing with Merry and Aragorn to get him decent defense stats, which helps when the combo has trouble taking off. For the most part this is a fun combat focused deck. It may not necessarily be top tier, but watching Aragorn and Merry continually killing enemies and watching Sam Gamgee’s stats continue to rise is a fun experience. Paired with a decent questing deck, this deck, which I’ve called Boil ‘Em, Mash ‘Em, Stick ‘Em in a Stew, can handle a good majority of quests that are combat oriented.
The list is crammed (pun intended) with 22 attachments, nearly half of the total card count. With Sam Gamgee as our primary defender we have several copies of Hobbit Cloak, Dunedain Warning, and Staff of Lebethron to keep him safe. The Hobbit Cloak goes really well with Sam’s stat raising ability and often we can see Sam defending for 4. With extra copies of Dunedain Warning Sam’s defense stat can go even higher and the staff helps us protect him (and our attachments) from nasty shadows. The Staff of Lebethron was one of the recent cards to be added into the pool that I was glad to see. Not sure how well it would function on a hero that isn’t a Hobbit but still, I’m glad to see a worthy attachment even if it has a limited focus.
For Merry and Aragorn it’s all about either boosting their attack or, better yet, readying them. They’re definitely going to be killing at least one enemy a round and so we have several copies of Rohan Warhorse to give them extra attacks. This should go ideally on Merry since he can attack with Aragorn, ready Aragorn via his inherent ability, then be readied by the Warhorse and attack again. This gives Aragorn three attacks and potentially three engagements considering we kill our enemies, making Sam noticeably stronger. Typically Sam is strong enough at that point we won’t need weapons on him and more often than not he has just enough attack strength to finish off a lingering enemy.
In case we want to crank the readying all the way to eleven we have two copies of Cram. These can go on any Hero depending on the situation but Sam and Merry would be preferable if we need a good defender or extra attacker respectively. As far as weapons go we only have Dagger of Westernesse and Blade of Gondolin to choose from. If our threat is low enough the Dagger is the preferred option but if we are in a quest swarming with Orcs, if we need more questing power, or if our threat is so high that the Dagger is useless then the Blades should come into play. Sam Gamgee doesn’t use a lot of restricted attachments and can be a target for either weapon if our other two Heroes have reached their restricted limit.
Then there’s just a few other attachments to take care of everything else. Steward of Gondor helps us pay for all of our tactics cards and Captain of Gondor works well with Aragorn and better yet, doesn’t take up a restricted slot. Captain also gives us some flexibility and if we are short a defender then Aragorn can step into that role. Our threat is a main concern however, and if we can’t manage to keep it low then a lot of our strategy falls apart. Hopefully there will be another deck across the table that can help with this but if not, we have two copies of Secret Vigil we can use. Not only does this help “quest” since we are reducing the amount of threat in the staging area but we can also reduce our threat (and that of others) by decent chunks if we slay the appropriate enemy. Aragorn’s ability comes into play again and if an enemy with Secret Vigil has to go somewhere else or is stuck in the staging area then Aragorn can help bring them back after we kill a previous enemy.
For the most part the Allies play a supportive/defensive role in combat. Our Heroes can handle a huge amount of the work but our allies will keep us alive during those rough starts or late game changers. A new card that I’m glad to add to the list of allies is the Honour Guard. A big concern with this deck was healing. There isn’t any. Previously I had to rely on cards like Bill the Pony to give my Hobbits a bigger hitpoint pool. This still didn’t solve the problem, especially when Heroes like Aragorn aren’t even affected. There are still a couple of copies of Bill in the deck (since he can boost other players’ Hobbits I think he’s still pretty great) but now thankfully we have a better solution in the Honour Guard. He is just so great. His three hitpoints are great in direct damage situations (issues some of our other defenders struggle with) and his ability can, in a sense, heal our Heroes by preventing a single point of combat damage. Particularly, if Sam Gamgee’s defense is high enough then a single damage is all we can expect to get through and with Honour Guard’s ability we can clean that right up. If things seem grim and our threat actually gets above 40 then the Honour Guard can provide a last ditch safety measure and keep one of our Heroes alive.
For straight defense we some options, most of them Ent related. Derndingdale Warrior and Booming Ent are great to have. They’ll most likely get beat up a little bit but that isn’t an issue for the Booming Ent who wants to see a few damaged Ents so he can go berserk and start swingin’ at foes. The mighty tree-folk go so well with Hobbit focused decks (even ones with Aragorn included). These decks often start at a lower than normal threat and it takes enemies a few turns to notice the players and actually engage them. This turns the Ents’ “enters play exhausted” clause which is typically a downside into something negligible.
The Defender of Rammas although not an Ent, still provides solid defense. I almost thought about cutting him now that the Derndingdale Warrior is in the list, and I still may, but in certain quests it may be best to have a turn one defender who can survive a couple of rounds. Treebeard is included to do what he does best, help us pay for ents and ready them. He can also help contribute to questing adding a little bit of willpower, and if his resources are plentiful, he can ready himself to help in some form during combat.
Finally we have two more allies to keep our deck running. The first is one of my go-tos. I’m always cautious about being locked out of playable cards either due to a lack of resources or a lack of the right amount and the Errand-Rider helps alleviate that concern for me. Personally, I’m happy to use his ability for a round or two and then turn him into a chump blocker if need be, or sacrifice him to direct damage. Of course, if he stays on the field longer I’m very happy since he can not only help myself but my teammates as well. We also have some copies of the Westfold Outrider. He is one of my favorite tactics ally and his ability synergizes very well in this type of deck. By pulling enemies toward us at practically any point in the round he can do multiple things: help with questing by removing enemies prior to staging, boost Sam Gamgee’s willpower prior to staging, and keep the Aragorn/Merry engine alive. He is low costed and extremely versatile and I’m always happy to have a reason to include him.
The events cover a few other areas that could always use more help. They’ll keep us alive, help our resources, and make combat a little more bearable. Foe-Hammer gives us card draw which is a problem tactics rarely can answer. Feint is an obvious choice and can function as a “defender” if we are lacking allies or if Sam Gamgee is exhausted. Halfling Determination is another favorite of mine in this deck. It can boost Sam Gamgee’s Willpower or Defense, helping in questing or combat and can also be used on Merry, giving him and Aragorn the extra firepower they need to kill an enemy and keep the combo going. Tighten our Belts is included for now and though it may go out again I’ve experienced some turns where my Heroes could use the extra resources all around. Worst case scenario the 0 cost leadership event can be used on another player who may be in dire straits.
Then there’s the newest event to be added to the list, Taste it Again. This is the card I’ve been waiting for. It gets a little fiddly trying to ready Sam after he’s been exhausted as a defender and Taste it Again remedies that for just one Leadership resource. On the other hand it may aversely affect how the deck operates. If we only have one enemy then Sam’s attack bonus is wasted. We won’t want Sam to do the attacking but rather Aragorn/Merry so that they can pull more into our side of the board. Granted, Sam is still ready to attack thanks to Taste it Again but the bonus will be lost on different targets. It may be better suited for a different type of deck but I am just too excited to try it out.
This is a really fun deck to play. Sam Gamgee is one of my favorite Heroes in the game and the abilities on Aragorn and Merry are some of my favorite abilities as well. This deck just brings me so much enjoyment and though it may not be the best of the combat oriented decks it can still hold it’s weight. The deck does hinge on Sam making at least one reliable defense against an enemy so nasty shadow effects can tear this deck apart. If paired with an appropriately supportive deck, and one that can handle the questing portion of scenarios, this deck can do wonders. If the partnered deck is weak defensively then cards like Quick Strike may need to be included to pull in enemies before they attack.
As always let me know what you think below!
-The Secondhand Took
Deck: Boil ‘Em, Mash ‘Em, Stick ‘Em in a Stew
Total Cards: (50)
1x Sam Gamgee (The Black Riders)
1x Aragorn (The Lost Realm)
1x Merry (The Black Riders)
2x Booming Ent (The Antlered Crown)
2x Defender of Rammas (Heirs of Numenor)
2x Derndingle Warrior (Escape from Mount Gram)
2x Honour Guard (The Wastes of Eriador)
3x Westfold Outrider (The Voice of Isengard)
2x Bill the Pony (The Black Riders)
2x Errand-rider (Heirs of Numenor)
2x Treebeard (The Antlered Crown)
2x Cram (Over Hill and Under Hill)
2x Dunedain Warning (Conflict at the Carrock)
2x Hobbit Cloak (The Black Riders)
2x Steward of Gondor (Core Set)
2x Captain of Gondor (The Antlered Crown)
2x Blade of Gondolin (Core Set)
3x Dagger of Westernesse (The Black Riders)
3x Rohan Warhorse (The Voice of Isengard)
2x Secret Vigil (The Lost Realm)
2x Staff of Lebethron (The Land of Shadow)
2x Foe-hammer (Over Hill and Under Hill)
2x Halfling Determination (The Black Riders)
3x Taste it again! (The Land of Shadow)
2x Tighten Our Belts (The Nin-in-Eilph)
2x Feint (Core Set)