The downside to this, obviously, is that there isn't a hero that brings together the disparate Rohan allies and events. The Dwarves have Dain, Gondor has Leadership Boromir, and the Silvans have Celeborn - the Rohirrim don't have that yet.
The advantage to this situation, however, is that I have free will to build a deck under my own interpretations of what Rohan means to me. I could go on for hours talking about the brave men of the Riddermark, these men and women who forsake book-learning and instead focus on the art of survival and war. But to put it simply: in my view the Rohirrim are masters of controlled aggression.
Think about it. The Rohirrim don't have the manpower of Gondor, and cannot normally commit large armies to set-piece battles. When Theoden called his banners to marshal at Dunharrow they were barely able to muster 6,000-7,000 riders - a pitifully small number by the standards of Gondor.
It is in their equipment that Rohan finds salvation, specifically their steeds. Their horses give them the advantage of maneuverability, and in this aspect they are second to none. They may not have the numbers, but the strength that they can muster can be fielded in the correct location at the correct time. This is how the Rohirrim have traditonally won their battles, and it is this theme that I set out to explore.
My old Rohan deck of Eomer, Theodred, and Eowyn basically revolved around getting the Steward of Gondor on Eomer and buffing him up with Gondorian Fire. Is it fun? Certainly. But you'll notice a strange word in the cards I mentioned: Gondor. I wanted to build a Rohan deck that, generally, allowed its heroes to rely on Rohan-themed attachments and equipment. You'll see that allies from other races are backing them up, but hey, that's Middle Earth for you. And remember book-purists: the Elves totally helped out at Helm's Deep *wink wink*
I wanted this new deck to reflect the idea that the Rohirrim commit to battle on their own terms, which in the game means engaging enemies when I'm good and ready to fight. For that, I'll need to keep my threat low and set up some staging area shenanigans. Luckily the Rohirrim are capable of doing just that!
The hero lineup of Eowyn, Eomer, and Dunhere is thematic (all were present at the Pelennor fields) and brings a unique set of capabilities to the table. Eowyn remains the single best quester in the game, and she'll primarily be committed to that role. Dunhere, fully kitted-out with Spears of the Mark, will be able to charge the staging area and deal with all but the mightiest of foes. Together these two will pay for multiple copies of The Galadhrim's Greeting, which will keep my threat low enough to prevent any enemies from engaging me.
If enemies do make it through then they'll meet their eventual demise at the hands of Eomer and Firefoot. Eomer will also help pay for a cool new card called Charge of the Rohirrim, which segues nicely into a discussion of the key combos for this deck:
1. Westfold Horse Breeder + Mounts - Just as horses are critical to the success of the Rohirrim in the books, so too are the mounts critical to the success of this deck. Assuming that Spears of the Mark have been found for Dunhere, the first priority should be getting Steed of the Mark onto him. This mount isn't a restricted attachment, which is critical so we can get two spears onto Dunhere. This will set up those Charges of the Rohirrim we so desperately want to achieve.
2. Mounts + Heroes + Charge of the Rohirrim - Once each hero has a mount then this deck becomes capable of dishing out an awesome amount of attack power thanks to Charge of the Rohirrim. With Steeds of the Mark on Dunhere and Eowyn, and Firefoot on Eomer, there won't be very much that can stand up to the might of Rohan. In this capacity Eowyn becomes a true shieldmaiden of Rohan.
Much like the Rohirrim in war, you'll need to time your charges well to unleash their maximum potential. Remember what I said about controlled aggression? Don't leave enemies hanging around. Wait until the optimal time to engage, and then kill them dead when you do.
Also, you're going to have to decide whether to throw the Horn of Gondor or Rohan Warhorse onto Eomer. For me it generally comes down to which deck(s) my partner(s) is/are playing. If someone has Silvans on the table then you bet your ass I'm getting the Horn of Gondor out there. Again, it's not thematic, but it's a concession to gameplay to have it in the deck.
3. Westfold Horse Breeder + Ride to Ruin - Poor Westfold Horse Breeder... The ideal sequence of events for her is to come into play, bring a mount into hand, commit to the quest, and then be sacrificed to Ride to Ruin (which also gives Eomer his attack boost). This, along with Riddermark's Finest, provides a hefty amount of location control.
Great artwork too
4. Imladris Stargazer + Zigil Miner - Ah the old Spirit resource-generator. It's not thematic at all but there is no better way for the Spirit sphere to both generate resources and thin the deck. Not much needs to be explained here.
This all sounds good in theory, but how has it been in practice? Well, it's surprisingly light on willpower. Now it's true that I have Eowyn, but aside from her I really don't get anyone questing for more than 1, maybe two willpower per quest phase. Escort from Edoras can help when I need a serious boost, but there really isn't a consistent amount of willpower to be found from these allies. I included Arwen Undomiel in this deck not for any sort of defense boost, but because she's a cheap and steady supply of 2 willpower.
And she's a babe
Speaking of defense, this deck barely has any! Sure, in a pinch Eomer can defend, and I may be able to get a Defender of Rammas on the table, but that's not at all ideal. The fact is that if enemies end up engaged with this deck then someone is probably going to have to give their life in defense of Middle Earth.
I've had games where this deck works exactly as intended and it's a ton of fun. Then I've had games where I get rocked. I will say after experimenting for a while with this deck that it doesn't hold up under solo play. There just isn't enough willpower or defense to get through most quests.
Arwen Undomiel x 2
Imladris Stargazer x 3
Zigil Miner x 3
The Riddermark's Finest or Escort from Edoras x 2 (depends on other players' decks)
West Road Traveler x 3
Defender of Rammas x 2
Westfold Outrider x 3
Westfold Horse Breeder x 3
Spear of the Mark x 3
Steed of the Mark x 3
Firefoot x 3
Rohan Warhorse x 2
Unexpected Courage x 3
Horn of Gondor x 2
The Galadhrim's Greeting x 3
Charge of the Rohirrim x 3
A Test of Will x 3
Quick Strike x 3
Ride to Ruin x 2
"On the Fence" Cards that I Might Ditch/Replace: Ride to Ruin, Rohan Warhorse, 1 copy of Unexpected Courage
"Might Be Nice to Have" Cards: Astonishing Speed, Guthlaf, Dwarven Tomb, Power of Orthanc (dependent upon the quest), Foe-Hammer
Alternate Hero: Hama instead of Eomer. This would give us a lower starting threat, but would mean that we probably drop Firefoot in favor of other cards. I still prefer having Eomer around, but being able to recycle Quick Strikes and Charges of the Rohirrim is certainly something to consider.
Artist: CG-Warrior of Deviant-Art
I'm completely open to suggestions on this deck. What do you think could help strengthen the theme or gameplay value? Any obvious combos I'm missing? Reach out to me on Twitter @PIflamesofwar or @WWPDFellowship and let me know. Remember that it behooves you to help me out, since this is a co-op game and you'll never know when we'll be allies in the defense of Middle Earth! Thanks for reading!
Thanks as always to Hall of Beorn for the card images.