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Thursday, November 6, 2014

They're Taking the Hobbits to Fall In! Part 2 (LOTR LCG)

So Steve is going to bring the superheroes to Fall In... I can see the benefits of such a deck-build. One of his heroes is an 8,000 year-old wizard; one has already slain a Balrog and sent the Witch King fleeing in terror; and the other is the presumptive heir to the throne of Gondor! But we all know that while Sauron had laid plans to overcome these mighty beings, plans that could easily have succeeded, he was undone by the unlikeliest of Middle Earth's races.

Bullroarer Took, the 3rd-greatest hobbit of them all

Yes, it was the humble Shire-folk that proved to be the undoing of Sauron (and the Witch King for that matter). The journey of the ring required great courage on the field of battle, but it also required stealth and deception, which is why I've decided to bring a Hobbit deck for our Fall In campaign.

To be completely honest, up until this point I had never been particularly interested in building a Hobbit deck. My true love of Middle Earth's lore lies with the men of Rohan and Gondor, and even the Dunedain to a lesser extent. In terms of gameplay the hobbit deck relies on several tricks and quirks, and tends to lack large numbers of allies, which generally isn't the type of deck I prefer to run.

However, as Steve mentioned, once we committed to playing through the Fellowship quests we knew that we had to keep it thematic, and that meant one of us would have to play the Hobbits. Since I didn't have any experience running a deck like this I asked Steve for advice and scoured through two articles on Tales from the Cards. Steve and I coordinated our decks to manage any overlap of unique cards, which I soon found out meant that I'd also be playing without one of my staple cards: the Steward of Gondor (I'm a resource hound).

At one point I even asked Steve if it would be possible to switch decks every couple of quests, because I was so convinced that I was sacrificing some of my enjoyment of the game for the sake of the theme. But then, something happened that I did not expect: I truly enjoyed the deck! Let's dive in and see what I have:

1 x Merry (The Black Riders)
1 x Sam Gamgee (The Black Riders)
1 x Pippin (The Black Riders)

3 x Bill the Pony (The Black Riders)
3 x Galadriel (The Road Darkens)
3 x Errand Rider (Heirs of Numenor)
3 x Warden of Healing (The Long Dark)
2 x Bofur (The Hobbit: Over Hill and Under Hill)
2 x Elrond (The Road Darkens)
1 x Gildor Inglorion (The Hills of Emyn Muil)
1 x Boromir (The Road Darkens) 
1 x Landroval (A Journey to Rhosgobel)
1 x Haldir of Lorien (A Journey to Rhosgobel)

3 x Dagger of Westernesse (The Black Riders)
3 x Elf Stone (The Black Riders)
3 x Fast Hitch (The Dead Marshes)
3 x Horn of Gondor (Core Set)
3 x Hobbit Cloak (The Black Riders)
3 x Dunedain Warning (Conflict at the Carrock)

3 x Feint (Core Set)
3 x Daeron's Runes (Foundations of Stone)
3 x Halfling Determination (The Black Riders)
3 x Foe-Hammer (The Hobbit: Over Hill and Under Hill)

The idea here is to buff Sam and Merry to herculean proportions. The solo version of this deck uses the Steward of Gondor as a precursor to popping Gondorian Shield on Sam, but in this deck I've opted for the cheaper, in-sphere solutions of the Hobbit Cloak and Dunedain Warnings, which are thematic and effective. With those attachments Sam becomes a defensive monster thanks to his readying ability.

Conversely, playing the Daggers onto Merry can see him attacking for 7, and I can boost that up to 9 if I have to thanks to Halfling Determination. That's Eomer-level attack power!

"I heartily endorse that assessment." - Eomer, King of the Mark

This might make Pippin seem like the odd man out, but his ability to raise the engagement cost of enemies makes Sam and Merry the heroes that they are. His card draw is just icing on the cake!

Without a reliable resource generator like the Steward of Gondor, expensive allies become a luxury, which is why I've included three copies of Elf-Stone. Gildor is essentially another hero, and Landroval can save our campaign if he's able to bring a hero back from the dead. Boromir and Haldir are solid allies with a ton of utility, and add a thematic element has well.

The rest of the team is fairly standard fare. Bill the Pony can be played for free as long as Sam is in the game. The Wardens of Healing provide some measure of damage control, and ally Elrond adds a little bit of everything. Galadriel and Bofur can go fetch the attachments I need to get Sam and Merry into ass-kicking mode.

I've taken this deck into a bunch of practice quests and it's done very well. The crowning moment so far was probably a test game where Steve and I beat the Stone of Erech quest from a past Gencon. That quest requires players to attack the enemies with their willpower instead of attack value, but then also makes the final stage a battle quest. It's the type of encounter that can completely invalidate a deck, but the decks that Steve and I have previewed for you took it down!

I think we are ready to carry the ring through the perils of Middle Earth. Stay tuned for our updates throughout the Fall In convention. The easiest way to follow along will be through Twitter @WWPDFellowship and @PIflamesofwar, and I'll be sure to get a summary article up when we have finished!

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