The Line Unbroken – 1-3: The Core Set

So, gentle readers, cast your minds back to 2011, when the Lord of the Rings LCG was newly made, and the Core Set was all there was. That was the perspective I had to try and force myself into a little while back when I had to build decks using only those core cards.
Well, not really. I wasn’t coming at it from the perspective of those being the only cards which existed full stop, merely the perspective of those being the only cards I was allowed to use. There is a subtle but important distinction, as my knowledge of the current, more developed card pool means that some cards I quickly passed by as not worth it which I might not have done if I was coming in with no preconceptions. I may have unfairly dismissed some cards which aren’t really worth it now because there are better options, but were much more worth it then, before those other options were released.

This was also a rather different experience to what I’ll have at any other point in this series – later on I’ll have one hero I have no choice but to use by my own imposed rules (maybe with occasional postponements), and I’ll be looking at all the new cards trying to fit in as many as I reasonably can. On top of that, I’ll be building with the demands of the specific quest in mind, and possibly musing on whether the designers had a particular rationale behind releasing a certain hero or other card for that quest.
In this case, however, none of those points apply. Rather than coming in wanting to use as many of the available cards as possible, I came in thinking the easiest way to start would be to immediately cut out all the cards that really aren’t worth it. And since this was the genesis of the game, both the quests and the player cards are somewhat generic and contain a little bit of everything. Correspondingly I just built decks I thought would work reasonably well in general rather than focusing on anything in particular, and proceeded to take them through all three scenarios (I may or may not continue this approach for deluxe and saga expansions; certainly in some cases I could see a lot of value in changing decks between different quests from the same box).

Now, it has been a little while since I actually built these decks, so I can’t remember my precise thought processes, but I’ll do my best to reconstruct them.
So my starting point was to consider what cards I actually thought were worth it from each sphere. I found myself rather light on Leadership cards which interested me: Faramir, Snowbourn Scout, Steward of Gondor, Celebrian’s Stone, Sneak Attack and Valiant Sacrifice. So only one Leadership hero – Gloin can be handy, but requires healing and preferably hit point boosting, plus we have SoG for resources; Theodred is OK but doesn’t contribute much beyond the sphere match and resources; Aragorn on the other hand is an excellent hero, with the added bonus of being able to gain a Spirit icon from CS.
Other spheres made a better showing in my eyes, but Lore seemed the easiest to cut down on and have as my other minority sphere. So which hero? Glorfindel is an instant no, because his ability costs resources and with only one Lore hero I expect to need those resources for cards; Denethor is a nice defensive option or scrying; but Beravor’s flexible card draw remains something of a favourite, plus she gives me a bit more willpower.
Spirit-wise, Eowyn is a must for the questing strength, and while I quite like Dunhere’s ability, it’s not very effective without some decent attack boosts, so Eleanor takes the spot.
For Tactics, I’m fond of Thalin making combat easier for the others and killing crows, but on the other hand, Legolas and Gimli are a classic pairing (If admittedly unthematic since the game depicts events occurring many years before these two met – but the game is littered with these little issues requiring invention of alternate histories if you want it to make sense).
Finally, I think it just came down to a card-count of what I wanted from each sphere that made it add up better if I had Aragorn/Legolas/Gimli (Leadership/Tactics with a splash of Spirit) and Eowyn/Eleanor/Beravor (Spirit/Lore). This also allows me to have six copies of Unexpected Courage flying around, which is an idea I like very much (Three cheers for OCTGN! With physical cards I’d need to buy six copies of the Core Set to build these decks).

Deck 1: The Three Hunters Who Haven’t Met Yet


Allies (15):
Faramir x1
Snowbourn Scout x3
Veteran Axehand x2
Gondorian Spearman x3
Beorn x1
Wandering Took x2
Gandalf x3

Attachments (18):
Steward of Gondor x3
Celebrian’s Stone x3
Blade of Gondolin x3
Citadel Plate x3
Horn of Gondor x3
Unexpected Courage x3

Events (17):
Sneak Attack x3
Valiant Sacrifice x3
Feint x3
Quick Strike x2
Test of Will x3
Hasty Stroke x3

Thoughts: Dear lord this deck is light on allies. This is what I mean about me dismissing cards because I think they’re not worth it based on my knowledge of a larger card pool than I’m actually using. On the other hand, the heroes can do a lot so I suppose I can manage with less allies. The splash of spirit ended up a bit more than intended, though that’s partly because I added the Wandering Took because he’s another ally, though the ability to even out the threat between the decks could be useful as well. And of course, the downside of my set of powerful heroes is a starting threat of 32, which will cause me to instantly engage the Hill Troll on the banks of the Anduin. On the other hand, barring nasty shadow effects, both Gimli and Aragorn can take a hit from it without dying, plus Feint, Citadel Plate to gain more hit points, it’s manageable.

Deck 2: A Wayward Shieldmaiden and Her Imaginary Friends


Allies (15):
Northern Tracker x3
Daughter of the Nimrodel x1
Erebor Hammersmith x2
Henamarth Riversong x2
Miner of the Iron Hills x2
Gleowine x2
Gandalf x3

Attachments (13):
Favour of the Lady x3
Unexpected Courage x3
Forest Snare x1
Protector of Lorien x2
Dark Knowledge x2
Self Preservation x2

Events (22):
The Galadhrim’s Greeting x3
Strength of Will x3
Hasty Stroke x3
Test of Will x3
Radagast’s Cunning x2
Secret Paths x2
Stand and Fight x2
Dwarven Tomb x2
Will of the West x2

Thoughts: Firstly, I’d just like to mention that I mean no disrespect to Beravor and Eleanor by describing them as Eowyn’s imaginary friends. It just seemed like a decent name idea since they are both FFG-created characters rather than Tolkien original.
On the actual deck construction, again, very ally-light. This is a problem which will correct itself as I move a bit further into the card pool and come to more allies I like, but if this was a deck I actually wanted to make a bit more generally viable, I would definitely be editing it furiously right now. I’m not entirely sure why Will of the West is in there. On the other hand, the core set quests are rather easy to be honest (famous last words?), so I don’t think I need the most carefully nuanced pair of decks to beat them.


Passage Through Mirkwood
Journey Down the Anduin
Journey Down the Anduin Attempt 2
Escape from Dol Guldur

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