The Elves are feeling a little crafty, and possibly tricksy, this time around. Teaming up with a Gondorian Hero of the Ranger variety, Haldir and Legolas strive to cause approaching enemies as much trouble as possible. Does this strategy confuse the enemy enough for the betterment of all the Heroes at the table? Or are the Elves just goofing off? Read on to find out about this Month’s Hero of the Month Deck, Crafty Elves.
The idea for this deck came from my trying to break away from a typical Haldir build which most typically look like a Silvan Deck with Celeborn, Galadriel, Legolas, etc. Instead of focusing on Haldir‘s Silvan trait I wanted to play around with his Ranger trait and (and hoping that the upcoming player cards are awesome) his Scout trait as well. Haldir is joined this time by a man of Gondor, the Ranger of Ithilien Damrod. With both Heroes providing Lore resources and Damrod’s ability laying traps at a reduced cost, the player piloting this deck will be dishing out as much traps as possible all the while building up Haldir so he can “snipe” enemies before they are forced to engage or before they attack other players. Trying to stay somewhat thematic but also needing a Tactics Resource Icon, Legolas makes an appearance. Aside from the above mentioned reasons, his Silvan trait grants him access to a good many weapons that he and Haldir can both enjoy as well as give us the chance to use some event cards that make the two Elves even better than they already are.
The Elves and Damrod are pretty much on their own here, with only 17 allies appearing in this list. That isn’t to say that these allies are unimportant, but a majority of them serve to help these Heroes directly or find other cards that do.
This deck has a lot of traps and weapons, there’s no denying that. And so to ensure that we get said attachments we have a couple copies of Master of the Forge. Though he contributes nothing in terms of willpower, he can help thin our deck and get the specific attachments we need. Should our much needed attachments get discarded or removed via the encounter deck then the Erebor Hammersmith can come to bring it back into our hand or, in a multiplayer game, assist a fellow player in returning one of their crucial attachments. In my original build there were more Hammersmiths than Masters but I found that ratio to not be helpful to the deck and so they have essentially swapped in terms of card copies. Lastly there is Anborn who, should he show up, will help us continually fetch traps from our discard pile as well as contribute pretty nicely to our combat should the need arise. He is expensive, and unique, and so there is only one copy.
Getting away from attachments there are two other allies that interact directly with Heroes. These would be Warden of Healing and the Envoy of Pelargir. The Warden is included (just one copy) because healing seems like a must these days, and the Envoy serves as a way to get some of the Lore resources that are building up to be transferred over to Legolas, who is often starving for more.
Finally there is a smattering of other Allies that help to fill out the deck in other areas. Two copies of Quickbeam help this Willpower-less deck contribute just a bit more to questing while Galadhon Archer (Also two copies) can ping enemies elsewhere on the board, making them easier for Haldir or other players to finish them off. Henamarth Riversong is on this list as well, just to add general support with his scry ability.
Oh boy. The attachments. I’m going to try and keep this rather brief as there are 20 total attachments in this list. Thankfully most of them are traps and we will start with them.
There are currently 10 traps included in this deck spread across Ithilien Pit, Ambush, Forest Snare, and Ranger Spikes. Of the four, Ambush and Ranger spikes are probably the most useful as far as testing has shown. As I mentioned in the ally section this deck struggles with contributing to the quest and Ranger Spikes, which lowers an enemy’s threat by 2, can help inch the deck a little bit further in questing power. Ranger Spikes gets even better when it lands on an enemy with 2 or less willpower, effectively shutting down the enemy until the end of the game or when the players wish to have it removed (ie Throngs of Unfaithful or Drowned Dead). Ambush is the other important card of the four traps as it acts like a backup should Haldir’s effect be put offline. The moment the Haldir player has to engage an enemy is when things can fall apart since Haldir can’t snipe an enemy before they make their attacks. If an enemy were to come down and ruin Haldir’s chance to make an attack, then Ambush provides a safety net and the Haldir player can either destroy their own enemy or use their ranged characters to participate in another player’s attack after they activated Ambush.
Second to the traps are the weapons. There are 6 weapons in this build all of which go on either Haldir or Legolas. Preferably Haldir gets first priority since he will be landing attacks before Legolas gets a chance. These weapons, Bow of the Galadhrim and Rivendell Blade, are restricted, however, and any excess copies can be ditched to cards like Eowyn or given to other players’ characters that fit the requirements.
The last two attachments in the deck are Wingfoot and Keeping Count. Wingfoot is pretty straightforward and goes on preferably Haldir, but possibly Damrod as well. With decent knowledge of the quest and what’s out on the board already, or with assistance from Henamarth, Haldir with Wingfoot can add his two willpower to the quest and be ready to strike back once an enemy is revealed. This does lend itself to some luck but it’s almost necessary in order to eek out as much willpower as possible.
The other attachment, Keeping Count, is an experimental choice on my part and one I have not only tried out before, but have yet to see in testing. Its purpose, should it come to fruition, is to first get a copy on Haldir as he will be sniping enemies while our threat sits low around 27-32 for the opening rounds of the game. After Haldir accrues 3 or 4 kills then another copy of Keeping Count can go on Legolas who without any other attachments can swing for 6 or 7, triggering his effect and contributing to the progression of the quest in his own way. It’s very situational, and requires two copies to be effective at all. I may ultimately remove the attachment but want to tinker with it more. My hope is that cards like Master of the Forger and other card draw effects will help grab the other copy of Keeping Count before it’s too late.
And now we have finally made it to the events. With 18 cards making up the total events in this deck, we are given quite a few tools at our disposal. While most of them work to make Legolas and Haldir more awesome, there are some other, tricksier ones included also.
First up are all of our combat-drive events and the primary resource suckers of Legolas. Feint helps Haldir catch up when multiple enemies start coming down while Quick Strike or better yet Hands Upon the Bow attempts to have either Haldir or Legolas clean up enemies before they make their attack. Hands Upon the Bow typically goes on Legolas, if he can make the kill, so that Haldir is free to use his ability and so that this deck can not only remove extra threat from the board but add a little bit of progress via Legolas on the quest or active location.
Since Haldir/or Legolas are bound to be making some kills while strapped with weapons, Foe-Hammer (thankfully at 0-cost) will be easily triggered to draw some extra cards. On a similar front there are two copies of Mithrandir’s Advice which although it gives two cards for one Lore resource it may be best to switch it out for the almighty Daeron’s Runes. I am still undecided on this matter but even so, Mithrandir’s Advice has been doing fine thus far.
Last are two more tricksy cards, Forest Patrol and Take No Notice. Both essentially cost one resource a piece but they help to further our goal of not having enemies engage us. Take No Notice certainly has some extra “umph” in that it helps all players by raising the engagement threat of enemies in the staging area, benefiting not just ourselves. It’s a card, however, that when you don’t need it winds up staying in your hand wishing you had something better. Forest Patrol, on the other hand, is turning out to be one of my favorite cards in the list. It has done so much in testing so far. In Raid on the Grey Havens things get dangerous the more enemies are building up in the staging area. Though it’s great to have enemies rendered useless via Ranger Spikes, the enemies’ very presence causes problems. With Forest Patrol we can clean up enemies when we so choose or dwindle away at the higher hitpoint enemies, making it easier for Haldir and other characters to finish them off. A common scenario I’ve seen play out (at least when the hitpoints are high) is to play Forest Patrol on a tough enemy in the staging area, followed by Hands Upon the Bow, using Legolas to wipe them clean from the board and making the staging step a little easier for other players.
I love this deck. I’ve always been a tactics player and so combat is my favorite part of the game. However I enjoy playing a game where I’m not necessarily bashing at my enemies with a huge stick and so having a deck that hits from afar while messing with other enemies is a fun idea to me. Despite my joy for this deck it isn’t without its flaws, which I’ve already mentioned a bit in the above sections. The biggest is it’s questing ability. Ranger Spikes and Hands Upon the Bow can only do so much and if they are used up quickly, then we run the risk of not being ready for the tougher enemies or running out of gas for the later stages of the scenarios. So far I have included cards like Quickbeam to help mitigate this but I feel more is needed. Perhaps it will only get better when more Scout cards. Perhaps it won’t. Another consideration is cards like Secret Paths or Radaghast’s Cunning. These events can cause major swings in questing but are very luck dependent and cost valuable Lore resources. That is another major downside to this deck. Resources are tight, particularly on the tactics side. An early Envoy of Perlargir can help Legolas dish out weapons early then hold on to his resources for Feints and other fun events but if the envoy doesn’t make an appearance things get tough.
Though not necessarily a weakness this deck is also very weak defensively. If an enemy makes an attack against you you will most certainly be losing a character, just hopefully not a Hero. Such a deck doesn’t need to have strong defenses since it doesn’t want to engage enemies in the first place. What that means, however, is that it needs to be partnered with another deck that can take the brunt of enemies.
That in lies the final weakness of the deck, it is very dependent on other decks. Obviously it’s not a solo deck but in multiplayer it requires very specific partnerships. Currently the deck feels like it acts as an extension of whatever deck it is supporting, as opposed to being its own deck (if that makes sense). It can make a tier 2 deck feel tier 1 and it can allow a tier 1 deck to do some amazing things. But if the quest demands this deck to do some work on its own, then struggle ensues. This will most likely not be the last time I discuss this deck as again, I have greatly enjoyed playing it, but as it stands there is something that’s just missing and I can’t put my finger on whether it’s something currently in the card pool or something that I can only hope comes out as the card pool grows.
Then again, I could just be hard on myself. Let me know what you think about this list, and what changes or similar builds you have tried yourself. As always of course thank you for reading and look out for at least one more deck involving Haldir as well as another deck provided to us by the Windlord himself!
-The Secondhand Took
Deck: Crafty Elves
Damrod (The Land of Shadow)
Haldir of Lórien (Trouble in Tharbad)
Legolas (Core Set)
1x Anborn (The Blood of Gondor)
2x Envoy of Pelargir (Heirs of Númenor)
1x Erebor Hammersmith (Core Set)
2x Galadhon Archer (The Nîn-in-Eilph)
1x Henamarth Riversong (Core Set)
2x Master of the Forge (Shadow and Flame)
2x Quickbeam (The Treason of Saruman)
1x Warden of Healing (The Long Dark)
3x Ambush (The Land of Shadow)
3x Bow of the Galadhrim (The Nîn-in-Eilph)
2x Forest Snare (Core Set)
2x Ithilien Pit (Encounter at Amon Dîn)
2x Keeping Count (The Redhorn Gate)
3x Ranger Spikes (Heirs of Númenor)
3x Rivendell Blade (Road to Rivendell)
2x Wingfoot (The Nîn-in-Eilph)
3x Feint (Core Set)
3x Foe-hammer (Over Hill and Under Hill)
2x Forest Patrol (Assault on Osgiliath)
3x Hands Upon the Bow (Shadow and Flame)
2x Mithrandir’s Advice (The Steward’s Fear)
3x Quick Strike (Core Set)
2x Take No Notice (The Black Riders)
3 Heroes, 50 Cards
Cards up to The Land of Shadow
Deck built on http://ringsdb.com.