Hero of the Month Deck: Ents of Ithilien

Leadership Faramir is a mighty Hero, a vast improvement on his Lore counterpart. He shows his quality in his ability to rally allies around him. In almost all cases this is a fairly beneficial effect, turning questing allies into questing and combat allies. In cases involving the Ents? This takes a great trait with only one main drawback into a force to be reckoned with. This is the Ents of Ithilien.

For some, this deck may not be new. When this brand new Faramir was introduced to the card pool many other blogs began to post decks that took Faramir’s effect to full advantage (here is one on Hall of Beorn). It didn’t take too much to see that the Ents would be one of the best allies to receive this boon. A list that showed up on The Warden of Arnor got me to give the deck a shot and you will see my deck came from his build with some minor changes as I played with it more and more. Please, if you have a moment, stop reading and give his article a look. It was very informative and again inspired me to try out this combination of cards. This deck is just my iteration of his list. With that out of the way, on to the Heroes!

mablung1faramirpippin

This deck is about two things, readying our Ents and giving us a reward for engaging enemies. Faramir accomplishes both of these things. Outside of his effect his well rounded stats and his very solid 5 hitpoints will have him playing a defensive role early game and then an offensive one late game. Mablung appropriately joins Faramir and his band of Ents as well. Thanks to Mablung, every time we engage an enemy and ready an Ent we will also be gaining resources to help pay for future Ents! To keep up with all of these Ents dropping down on to the battlefield is Pippin (Lore). His +1 to engagement costs is certainly a nice global effect but more importantly he rewards us for engaging enemies by drawing us a card. Better yet, where Mablung and Faramir’s abilities are once per phase Pippin’s only stops when we stop engaging. He can fetch Ents that are hiding in the forest that is our deck and prepare them for battle!

Allies:

There are a lot of allies in this build, more than I have ever used I think. Thirty-three ally cards make up the deck, spread across fourteen different allies. Of those different allies, eight of them are Ents, representing twenty-one of the thirty-three total card count. Let’s get the non-Ents out of the way.

dc3banedain-hunterThis is a tri-sphere deck. It would seem almost wrong to not include 3 copies of Errand-Rider to guarantee my resources go where they need them to be. Late game these guys are perfect for chump blocking (if the quest doesn’t punish such a strategy) and in the first quest of the Grey Haven Deluxe Expansion these little Gondorians are perfect for sailing tests. There are 3 copies of Dunedain Hunter as well which interestingly enough, acts as another reliable resource-focused card for us. On the first turn we can play Dunedain Hunter, pull an enemy from the encounter deck, grant us an extra resource, and allow us the chance to play some of our more high-costed allies (ideally a particular bearded Ent). In a less ideal, but still great, scenario the Dunedain Hunter can be used to ready a low costed Ent that was already put into play by activating Faramir’s ability.

guardian-of-arnorOn a more supportive front are allies like Warden of Healing and Honour Guard which offer their own differing approaches to healing. Other than our Heroes, we actually don’t mind our characters getting damaged and so these two work wonderfully in multiplayer games since they can focus on other players. Gandalf from the Core Set makes an appearance as well and he will be played in his usual “sneaky” way. Then there’s a newcomer to this list in the form of Guardian of Arnor. This deck has its fair share of being able to deal with enemies but I was finding that I needed a nice wall of an ally that wasn’t the 1-hitpoint Defender of Rammas. Guardian of Arnor works perfectly in that he scales with our side of the board as it gets a little more hectic. He’ll be an average defender early game then have a couple rounds of some very amazing defensive capabilities, giving us the opportunity to clean things up with our Ents.

Speaking of Ents! I’m going to go over these rather quickly to keep this post from getting too lengthy. I’ll start with Ents that are good for Questing and other aspects of the round outside of combat. QuickbeamWandering Ent, and Wellinghall Preserver are almost always committed to the quest while the Preserver grants some extra healing. In a more peaceful board state Beechbone can even commit to a quest when a large push is needed. Otherwise he will be used for combat. Worth noting, the Wellinghall Preserver is great for keeping the Derndingle Warriors (mentioned in the following paragraph) from over extending themselves.

booming-entOn the combat front we have Beechbone, SkinbarkBooming Ent, and Derndingle WarriorSkinbark and Beechbone (only 1 copy each) can be substituted for an extra copy of the other or removed entirely depending on the quest. They are there to get damaged, as is the Derndingle Warrior who also happens to be our other great defender outside of the Guardian of Arnor. All of this goes to help bolster our Booming Ent which when there are multiple copies out can do massive amounts of damage in one swing.

And finally there is Treebeard who deserves his own spotlight compared to the other Ents. Though he does cost 4 resources he is thankfully neutral and can start paying for other Ents as the game progresses, saving our Heroes’ resources for other cards. He can act as a solid quester, attacker, or defender. I often use him as a defender so he can take a bit of damage and boost our Booming Ents up even higher. Games where he doesn’t make an appearance, or games where he meets an easy demise, often prove to be more difficult. That is why there are three copies of him even though he is unique.

Attachments:

gondorian-shieldLet’s do a complete 180 degree turn. There are only 3 attachments in this deck, all of them representing one card. That is Gondorian Shield a near auto include in a deck like this with easy access to tactics resources and two Gondorian Heroes, one of which has one of the highest HP totals seen in the game (for player cards). Granted, late game these cards are a bit useless and can be chucked for encounter card effects or to the likes of Eowyn, but early game they provide some extra defensive power while we wait for our Ents to come online.

Where this may be the decks key weakness it’s also a great starting point to apply your own playstyle or to adjust to certain quests. I will post a lot more about this near the end when I go over sideboard options. For now, it’s time for the events!

Events:

boomed-and-trumpetedThe events in this deck are a little more well-represented. There are fourteen cards spread across five different events. For tactics there are two copies of Boomed and Trumpeted and Feint. Feint, like the Gondorian Shield, helps us out in the early game but also works just as well in the late game especially when a mightier foe enters into the foray. Boomed and Trumpeted is more of a utility card and can ready an Ent when Faramir cannot. It can be a bit on the clunky side and doesn’t always work as well as I’d expect. When an encounter card forces me to chuck something Boomed and Trumpeted is often the first. This is another area where some tweaking and sideboarding can be done in certain scenarios.

entmootLore, like tactics, also has two different events and both serve to thin out the deck. Entmoot, one of my favorite event cards which almost always hits its mark, pulls the Ents out of the deck and into our hand, leaving a more streamlined deck of cards. Side note, I personally enjoy pulling an Entmoot out of an Entmoot and then getting to play another Entmoot! Then there is Daeron’s Runes. Though it doesn’t grab as many cards as Entmoot it isn’t as restrictive. If we draw an Ent then that’s great. If we draw Gandalf, Warden of Healing, or Feint then we thankfully don’t have to shuffle it back in like we would with Entmoot. Since there are so many copies of cards like Treebeard and Gondorian Shield its likely we may pull a duplicate with the runes and so it’s discard effect doesn’t sting as much as it might in other deck lists.

sneak-attackLastly for leadership there’s the trusty Sneak Attack. Plain and simple it is meant for Gandalf and to help us get what we need at the appropriate time. Since most of our allies come into play exhausted Sneak Attack can feel a bit clunky otherwise especially since the timing will usually be off and Faramir’s effect will have already been triggered. However I have used it to sneak attack a Warden to get some last minute healing or an Errand-Rider to chump block so it’s not entirely useless when Gandalf’s missing.

Sideboard:

Most of my sideboarding will come in the form of attachments. Depending on your style or the particular quest you are playing then you may want to retweak some of the deck. If the ally count is too high but you’re still itching for some Ents, then you can dwindle some of the 3 and 2 copy Ent for attachments like Dunedain WarningDunedain Mark or another card I’ve been thinking of Gondorian Fire. Fire takes advantage of the traits of two of our Heroes while the Warning and Signal make use of their resources. Mablung can easily gain them while there really isn’t a big need for Leadership resources, which means Faramir usually sits on some extra. For Pippin you can throw in cards like Fast Hitch and Hobbit Cloak if you want to move him from just questing to questing/defending.

Conclusion:

I love this deck. It’s been the one I play the most when I play solo/2-handed or when I’m out at my FLGS. The amount of damage it can put out can be laughable at times yet on the same hand it can do its fair share of questing especially late game. In an ally hating quest it will definitely have its struggles, so buyer beware on that one. The only thing I will say, and this may be due to my style of play when I’m piloting this deck, is that it does have the potential to overextend its reach. The early game is vital for this deck and if you lose an Ent early on or if you accidentally take on an enemy you can’t handle it is hard to recover. Again, this is possibly due to my style since I like drawing cards and gaining resources which tends to lead to some greedy choices on my end but it’s still worth noting.

Here you will find another link to the deck list that got me started on Ents/Faramir from the Warden of Arnor. His list is titled “Hasten the Ents” and as you can see I didn’t stray too far from his formula. If you didn’t check it out when I mentioned it above I highly suggest giving it a look now 🙂

Let me know below what you think about this build and what you’ve done with Leadership Faramir in your lists if at all. Lastly, I want to point out that I built this deck using Seastan’s new Love of Tales Deckbuilder which was based off the very useful Rivendell Councilroom. Its a very interesting next step for deckbuilders and this community and I encourage you to check it out!

 

Thanks for reading!

-The Secondhand Took

Hasten the Ents – Original Deck from Warden of Arnor

Ents of Ithilien

Total Cards: 50

Heroes (starting threat: 27)
Faramir (The Land of Shadow)
Mablung (The Nin-in-Eilph)
Pippin (The Black Riders)

Allies (33)
3x Errand-rider (Heirs of Númenor)
2x Guardian of Arnor (The Battle of Carn Dûm)
1x Beechbone (The Battle of Carn Dûm)
3x Booming Ent (The Antlered Crown)
3x Derndingle Warrior (Escape from Mount Gram)
3x Dúnedain Hunter (The Lost Realm)
2x Honour Guard (The Wastes of Eriador)
1x Skinbark (The Land of Shadow)
2x Quickbeam (The Treason of Saruman)
2x Wandering Ent (Celebrimbor’s Secret)
2x Warden of Healing (The Long Dark)
3x Wellinghall Preserver (Across the Ettenmoors)
3x Gandalf (Core Set)
3x Treebeard (The Antlered Crown)

Attachments (3)
3x Gondorian Shield (The Steward’s Fear)

Events (14)
3x Sneak Attack (Core Set)
2x Boomed and Trumpeted (Escape from Mount Gram)
3x Feint (Core Set)
3x Daeron’s Runes (Foundations of Stone)
3x Entmoot (The Treason of Saruman)

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