So while all the big names in the LotR LCG have been off enjoying themselves at GenCon (I’m not bitter, honest…), I’ve just been looking through my many many OCTGN decks thinking “How many of these am I ever going to use again?” So I think it’s time to do a bit of deck spring cleaning! (Yes, I know it’s summer, but summer cleaning isn’t a thing)
So given that my decks are, as mentioned, very numerous, I’m going to start by explaining how I have them divided up into different folders so then I can just go one folder at a time (and this is going to end up as multiple articles rather than just the one).
So my OCTGN deck folders are:
Campaign – decks for a campaign I’ve been playing with my brother. Obviously these are exempt from spring cleaning.
Campaign-s – decks from a solo campaign, likewise exempt.
First Age – decks for the Tales from the Cards First Age custom set.
Fix – decks which I think still need some tweaking.
Gimmick – decks which really focus on a particular gimmick, or in some cases a specific quest. Though some of these are still perfectly functional decks in the right context.
Playthrough – decks built for The Line Unbroken (I made the folder before I came up with the name). Obviously these are exempt.
Secrecy – I suppose really I could make this a sub-folder of Gimmick. But yeah, this one’s self-explanatory.
Template – This is a mixture of cases where I’ve collected together everything that fits a certain theme so I can refer to it when I actually build decks on that theme, and decks where I got the basic idea and put in the key cards, but didn’t get as far as fleshing it out to 50 (or in some cases didn’t get round to cutting it down to 50 after picking out all the potential options).
Viable – decks I actually think are good.
I also have folders for decks I’ve taken from other people (Hall of Beorn, Tales from the Cards, and the odd one taken from the forums), but those aren’t my decks so this doesn’t really apply to them. Now, leaving aside the folders specified as exempt, I’m going to go through all my decks and give some thoughts before deciding if I think the deck is worth keeping or if I should delete it, and also if possibly the deck should be in a different folder.
The first non-exempt folder is First Age, but I think I’m going to save that one for a later occasion because I do plan at some point to do something talking about the First Age so it’d make more sense to save this folder until after that.
Next on the list is Fix. In we go!
Dunedain – This is a deck I built fairly recently, wanting to make use of the new Dunedain stuff in The Lost Realm. Aragorn (Ld)/Halbarad/Beravor. Looking at it, I think it has potential problems with where to put Steward if I don’t quickly get Celebrian’s Stone-Ring of Barahir. Beravor’s the minority sphere and I need Forest Snares to fuel Heir of Valandil, but I also have Northern Trackers and Wardens of Annuminas in here which are expensive for just one hero, plus Aragorn may want extra resources for readying. I suppose those allies are made cheaper by Heir of Valandil though, which the Snares are not. Honestly, I think as much as I want to include everything, I really need to have less Spirit cards in this deck since Spirit resources are dependent on getting the Stone onto Aragorn, but otherwise this might actually play out pretty reasonably as it is, though maybe I could also put in a couple of things from Wastes of Eriador. I should try it some time anyway.
EncounterScrew – This deck is intended to do what its name says: screw with the encounter deck. Halbarad/Sam Gamgee/Pippin (Lo), Ranger Spikes, Forest Snares, Ranger Summons, Out of the Wild (No Secrecy, just make Pippin the Steward), Shadow of the Past to recover lost Rangers of the North when they go as shadow cards. I think this one could work pretty well as well, but I suspect I’ll do much better with this sort of concept with the infusion of stuff from Escape from Mount Gram, and possibly making it Lore/Spirit, just let someone else summon the Rangers into the encounter deck. It’s still an idea I really like though – putting objective allies into the encounter deck, removing nasty things to the victory display to just water it all down to something much more pleasant. So I think this is probably an OK deck, but I don’t think it’s necessarily the best way to go about the idea it was built around.
Verdict: Postpone decision pending a probably better version with cards from Escape from Mount Gram and Across the Ettenmoors.
Grima-Galadriel – The idea seemed obvious to me, pairing Grima’s Doomed-based cost reduction with Galadriel’s threat reduction and card draw to rapidly get out some pretty impressive stuff without drawing the ire of every enemy in the game. Third hero is Theodred for even more resources. All sounds good in principle, but in practice it just never worked out well enough. It’s currently 53 cards, which isn’t too bad with Galadriel and her Mirror, plus A Very Good Tale, so I don’t think that’s a problem. Maybe I should try it out again and it’ll turn out to be OK, but I’m not confident. I could probably simplify it down to two spheres if I replaced Theodred with someone else, tri-sphere is always tough. Plus I think that if this does work out as it is, I’d probably have more resources than I’d know what to do with in the long run between Theodred, Steward and Keys of Orthanc. Since the idea is to get powerful expensive things out with Grima’s cost-reduction, having two heroes of the same sphere could be handy so I could play something 3-cost on round 1, plus as it stands my hero lineup is pretty wimpy – Theodred and Grima’s statlines aren’t anything to write home about, and Galadriel can’t participate in the main areas of the game.
Verdict: Delete it, I can just build a better version some other time.
Ithalinen – One of two decks I built to potentially take against Into Ithilien with my brother and a friend. Didn’t end up using this one. Thalin/Merry (Ta)/Sam Gamgee, a bunch of Eagles and Hobbit Gandalf for Battle/Siege questing. Does operate on characters leaving play somewhat, which of course can raise problems, but this can be worked around if the other deck or decks can just heal Celador back up afterwards. Obviously the reason I’m less likely to come back to this deck is that it was built with that specific quest in mind, though I have found that things can work out nicely with Into Ithilien where you build a deck specifically for it which will then work elsewhere with or without some possible small tweaks. Even without that consideration, I’ll probably end up playing Into Ithilien again at some point. The reason this deck is in Fix rather than Gimmick is that I was never 100% sure it was good enough, Into Ithilien being one of the quests which I worry most about playing.
Verdict: Keep, consider using again, should probably move to Gimmick folder.
Ithilrond – The second deck I built for Into Ithilien, the one I actually ended up using. Elrond/Faramir (Lo)/Glorfindel (Sp), and mostly just a lot of standard powerful stuff, other than the fact it includes a couple of Eagles again since Elrond can pay for them and they are great for Battle and Siege. Could possibly do with a couple of tweaks for use against other quests, e.g. Asfaloth, but I have actually used it against other quests and found it to work pretty well.
Verdict: Keep, maybe tweak a little or add a sideboard, should probably move to Gimmick folder.
LoreSiege – Unexpectedly (for me anyway), we had more difficulty with 3-player Siege of Cair Andros than we did with Into Ithilien, and one of the things particularly causing us trouble was The Master’s Malice, leading to a decision to all go mono-sphere. Thus, I built a mono-Lore deck that would be decent at Siege questing. In fact, I think this deck should be pretty good at all kinds of questing, because the way Lore gets good at questing is less about amassing willpower and more about cancelling threat in the staging area, which is applicable whatever keyword you’re questing at. Elrond/Denethor/Aragorn (Lo), a bunch of card draw, threat cancellation for the staging area, etc. I was never completely happy with it, it could probably do with being more consistent, since at the moment pretty much if there’s something I only want one copy of in play, there’s only one copy in the deck. Can work reasonably given all the card draw, but there are still some things I’d like to find faster. Starting threat’s a bit high, but I do have the reset button of Loragorn. I think this one could still do with a few tweaks, but in general I’m happy with it. I suppose for a non-Siege context I could consider subbing in Mirlonde for Denethor to get a lower starting threat, though I’d lose the scrying which can be quite handy.
Muster – Elrond/Gandalf with ally mustering effects: Vilya, Elf-Stone and Timely Aid (to be Vilya’d rather than played normally). An interesting idea, and given the power of the Elrond/Vilya/Gandalf/Wizard Pipe combo it’ll probably play out pretty well. On the other hand, there are probably better ways to build an Elrond/Gandalf deck.
Verdict: Try it out some time, but probably delete and make a better version.
Quad-sphere Dwarfs – Thorin/Ori/Oin, so as soon as I play two Dwarf allies the deck becomes quad-sphere. The crazy draw from Ori/King Under the Mountain/Legacy of Durin will get through the deck very fast so being a bit oversized may not be an issue, but as it stands it’s 70 cards which definitely seems like too much. Though the problem I actually found with it as I recall was a lack of good defensive options – the only really good Dwarven defender so far is Dain. Otherwise they have hit points but not so much defence. Also being quad-sphere means I’m not really going to get an ally out round one to chump-block, and my heroes only have 1 defence each. May work better in multiplayer though, when someone else can be Sentinel and I can just bring out the army of Dwarves to beat the quest into submission. On the other hand, if I really want this to work I really need to be more ruthless in picking out the really important stuff and cutting out the excess. Quad-sphere is really not the place to try and fit in absolutely all your options.
Verdict: Delete, rebuild from scratch.
Rivendell-Elladan/Rivendell-Elrohir/Rivendell-Elrond – Three decks I was building to go together using Elrond and his sons. An interesting idea, to be sure, and one which could probably work pretty well if done properly, but I tried to build these quite a while back when I was still fairly new to deck-building and they’re definitely not as finely tuned as they could be. Plus, since these are designed to work together the only way I’d get to play them properly would be to convince other people to use my decks rather than their own in multiplayer or to play three-handed, which really isn’t something I’m likely to do very often.
RohanProgress – I had the idea of pairing Spirit Theoden with Galadriel and a few different options for third hero. This is the only one of those decks I finished, with Legolas. The idea is to use Legolas with readying effects and Arod to make a bunch of progress via combat, and also quest pretty well with the Spirit Rohan allies (including Riddermark’s Finest who can also throw more direct progress around). I like the idea, it just needs refining, picking out the important components and focusing on them rather than the mess of too many options it currently is. As it stands it’s 52 cards, which is OK, but I mostly have exactly the number of copies of things that I actually want, so it won’t be very consistent. I definitely should be able to improve it though.
See Ahead – This was one of the first decks I ever tried to build, wanting something that could generally be prepared with scrying and cancellation for whatever problems the encounter deck might throw out. Balin/Eleanor/Denethor. I think the principle could probably work in multiplayer if I could get it right, and I have periodically come back and tried to tweak this deck into a usable state, incorporating new cards as they got released. Maybe I could sort it out entirely if I just focused on it properly rather than taking a more casual approach. Or maybe this is another case where I should just get rid of everything except the hero line-up and the idea so I can start again fresh. Either way though, I have a bit of a sentimental attachment to this deck since it was one of the first decks I ever built in OCTGN, so I’m definitely not deleting it.
Verdict: Keep, consider putting more effort into fixing this one.
And there we go! One folder down, five to go, and since I’m not really going to focus on this to get it done in a timely fashion, by the time I’m finished I’m sure I’ll have a bunch more decks so I can start the whole thing over again!
If you’re curious about any of the decks I mentioned above, leave a comment and I can do a post about them – including the ones I said I’m going to delete, I’ll keep them a little while just on the off-chance people are interested.
So, readers, do you find you have so many interesting ideas that you end up with folders full of more decks than you’ll ever find time to use? Or are you the kinds of people who are too busy to build all the decks you’d like to build and so end up with just a few standards?