Alright, so I was away from my blog for a bit doing a show (I did actually get some stuff written for The Line Unbroken during rehearsals, but wanted to get some other articles out first, and anyway I haven’t finished deckbuilding yet). Actually the article I was planning to put out next isn’t ready yet, so it’ll be coming later, but instead I’m going to share a deck I built recently, wanting to play around with some of the newly released cards. Also I saw in a comment thread that Beorn has a similar deck he’s planning to post, so I’m going to get mine in first!
So, the basic idea came when I saw the new hero version of Faramir spoiled in the lead-up to GenCon:
Readying allies whenever you engage an enemy is a very powerful ability in general of course. But the particular inspiration comes to use this ability for those most naturally action-starved allies, the Ents. Ents have been getting a lot of support lately, to the point where they’re really a powerhouse at this point so long as they can get going. I used this deck in a couple of three player games recently, for The Old Forest (following that old adage: “Set a tree to catch a tree”) and Journey in the Dark. In both cases I dumped an army of Ents onto the table and took care of most of the combat requirements for the whole game, including smashing the Balrog in one hit to the point where it died instantly to the heroic sacrifice of Pippin, with still enough left to wipe out the other enemies on the board as well.
Showdown of the year:
Durin’s Bane, the Balrog of Morgoth, a foe beyond any of you.
Peregin ‘Fool of a’ Took.
Never bet against the hobbit.
The core of the deck is pretty simple – just put in the Ents, starting from the basic Wandering, Booming and Treebeard and moving through to the just-released Skinbark and Derndingle Warrior (which is a fantastic defender). Then we have Leadership Faramir (not to be confused with ally Faramir, who of course is also in the Leadership sphere) to ready them as we engage enemies. Not very complicated so far. But then how do we fill out the rest of the deck? A few staples, some additional engagement effects to ready more Ents, now the big issue here is that all the Ent stuff is in Tactics and Lore, so I don’t have much use for Faramir’s resources, he’s only here for his ability. This is where I end up tweaking to try and make things flow a bit better, and ended up removing Steward, among other things (I originally had it to go on Pippin for help with Lore Ents, but found it unnecessary). The final piece of the build which I haven’t mentioned so far for some reason was of course the selection of the other two heroes, which seemed a no-brainer to me – I need to cover Lore and Tactics, so Mablung is a thematic choice to go with Faramir and a very synergistic one, since he also triggers off engagement and stacks up resources to help pay for some of the more expensive Ents, while Pippin ensures my starting threat isn’t too high, triggers off engagement again, and is thematic to go with Ents.
The deck could possibly still use some tweaking, or adding to the sideboard if nothing else, plus of course we know we’re getting at least one more Ent in the near future which may require a slight redesign to slot in, but here it is as it stands:
Hasten the Ents
Wandering Ent x3
Booming Ent x3
Derndingle Warrior x3
Gandalf (Core) x3
Warden of Healing x2
Dunedain Hunter x3
Gondorian Shield x3
Boomed and Trumpeted x3
Sneak Attack x3
Tireless Hunters x3
Daeron’s Runes x3
We Are Not Idle x2
Steward of Gondor x3
Gather Information x1
Scout Ahead x1
The big changes I made to this deck after my initial build didn’t work quite as well as I hoped were to remove some superfluous things like the Staff of Lebethron, Steward, and some others I don’t remember, putting in Daeron’s Runes to speed up the deck, and Errand-Riders. Errand-Rider is somewhat key to the functioning of this deck, with his primary duty being to ferry Faramir’s resources onto Mablung or Pippin, and a lot of the time he’s what I’d mulligan for, because there really isn’t much point to those Leadership resources. You’ll note that though I said I removed Steward, it’s still in the sideboard, but that’s just because it’s so powerful I felt like I should have the option of putting it in should the situation arise that no-one else is running Leadership, though I may well play it on someone else’s hero.
Dunedain Hunter can be fantastic, allowing me to ready an Ent in the Planning phase, or giving me the extra resource via Mablung that I need for a round 1 Treebeard. The Gondorian Shields are so Mablung and/or Faramir can help with defensive duties, particularly while I’m still amassing my army of Ents. Tireless Hunters is a bit of an odd choice and could possibly be replaced by Westfold Outriders, but I like it, and it does have the advantage of being cheaper so Mablung can save his resources for Ents.
Other cards to consider would include Westfold Outriders, obviously the not-yet-released Wellinghall Custodian (though given how this deck has played out I’m not sure it needs an extra infusion of power), and Ent Draughts, which were originally in but then removed. Ent Draught is a card which I know to be useful, but a lot of the time it just doesn’t seem that necessary. However given my newfound love of the incredibly useful Derndingle Warriors, who would really benefit from having some extra hit points, I think I should probably try and slot them back in. Of course I could potentially put in a third Warden of Healing. When Across the Ettenmoors comes out another consideration for sideboarding at least could be Delay the Enemy – while I can handle combat fine most of the time, other players may not be so lucky, and one thing Ents don’t have is Ranged. Shouldn’t be too hard to clear a Battle side-quest either, given the Booming Ents can get their attack values into double digits.
Those are all the possibilities which spring to mind, though feel free to suggest more.
Strategy for this deck is fairly simple – like I said, a lot of the time I’d mulligan for Errand-Rider, but Treebeard is another thing you like to see early, as is/are Gondorian Shield and/or Derndingle Warrior to get your defences up and running. Get Ents out quickly, engage things to ready them and then smash those things. Although you can get some fairly respectable willpower out, the deck is more combat focused, so things may go more smoothly if your fellow players make sure to bring some decent questing power and just let you handle the bulk of combat. If they have good Sentinel defenders to support you that can certainly help though, especially if your Wardens take a little too long to turn up, since while Derndingle Warrior is a fantastic defender, without healing it’s limited to 2 decent defences. Be careful with your damage – mostly it’s fine, Ents have hit points and you power up your Booming Ents to ridiculous levels, but the Derndingle Warriors and perhaps Treebeard you may want to actually heal up fully sometimes since they defend.
I hope you guys like the deck – I’m very proud, as this is the first time I’ve gone pretty much straight from an inspiration based on newly released cards to a very (perhaps even ridiculously) powerful deck. Although obviously other people have had the same idea, I came up with it independently of them, and put together a deck which feels incredibly powerful – but without overpowering the encounter deck to the point where it stops being fun.
So, have you guys done anything neat with the new Faramir (‘Shadow-mir’ as some are calling him) and/or the bolstered Ent trait? Please leave comments, I’d love to hear about it.