Anyone who’s spent a while in the community of this game is likely aware that the Zigil Miner gets nicknamed ‘Ziggy’. I’ve no idea where it originated, but it has certainly stuck, and tends to leave me singing to myself while I play. Of course this happened recently in the wake of the tragic death of David Bowie, and I thus found myself compelled to build a deck around good old Ziggy, especially once I came up with the full name. Kind of like how I couldn’t resist building Christmas themed decks once the idea occurred to me, though this is slightly different in that I have actually tested this deck a little (and tweaked it afterwards). It works noticeably better that the Christmas decks, despite still have a slightly gimmicky nature.
Of course, that was my starting point, which made it an interesting prospect to pull off, building a deck starting from one ally and a name referencing a song/album. I wasn’t sure exactly where to go with it, especially since I really wanted to do something I hadn’t seen before. The two aspects of the Zigil Miner are that he dumps cards into your discard pile and that he generates resources. Benefitting from the resources could be done with Gondorian Fire/Blood of Numenor, but I’ve seen that done quite a bit, and so has anyone else who watches Cardboard of the Rings twitch streams. And the discard stuff inevitably makes me think Caldara, but that’s because I’ve done it before. So as a starting point I went to the Rivendell Councilroom and searched for cards where the text contains ‘discard pile’ and looked down the list for ideas. Inevitably some of the recent Noldor cards caught my eye, and indeed some of the additional Noldor stuff we’re getting in The Grey Havens and the Dream-Chaser cycle would probably go nicely in this deck; but the card which really got things to work out interestingly was actually a Core Set classic that I pretty much never use any more – Stand and Fight.
So in fact the deck does end up playing quite like a Caldara deck, but instead of discarding Caldara and having Ziggy fund Fortune or Fate, Ziggy just funds Stand and Fight directly, and because of this difference, we can bring out allies from all spheres rather than just Spirit. Eowyn and Arwen allow me to easily discard those allies if I draw them into my hand (Arwen also helps with resources), while the Mirror can sometimes discard them randomly. If the deck gets rolling, it should have no problem playing Stand and Fight as much as it wants, because the amount of recursion effects in the deck is somewhat insane and possibly redundant. The precise suite of allies included in the deck is something I’m still tinkering with – my initial inclination was to go for powerful expensive, mostly unique, allies (possibly because I was trying to mix in Sword-thain for another David Bowie reference – “We could be heroes, just for one day”), but as I’ve played it a bit I’ve felt there might be something to be said for some smaller targets as well. With the amount of recursion available I can play Stand and Fight over and over again enough that I’m not particularly worried about ‘wasting’ it on a less powerful ally. On the other hand, the beauty of this deck in that regard is that Stand and Fight is such a flexible card, it’s really easy for me to just swap in whatever allies I want – if any of you decide to try this deck out for yourselves, I actively encourage you to change the lineup of allies (beyond the crucial ones) to whatever you want. The one exception is that neutral allies obviously don’t work so well since they can’t be targeted with Stand and Fight. Of course it’s also worth bearing in mind that you can grab other players dead and discarded allies in multiplayer, though there should be enough in this deck, and this deck is going to be discarding more than others (with the possible exception of an Erestor deck). Anyway, I’ve gone on enough without really showing you what I’m talking about, here’s the current version of the decklist:
The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stargazer and the Miners from Moria
aka “Ziggy played the Harp”
Zigil Miner x3
Imladris Stargazer x3
Gildor Inglorion x1
Galdor of the Havens x1
Northern Tracker x2
Erebor Hammersmith x3
Ered-Nimrais Prospector x2
Longbeard Sentry x2
Map of Earnil x3
Mirror of Galadriel x3
Silver Harp x3
Unexpected Courage x2
Dwarven Tomb x3
Stand and Fight x3
Will of the West x1
Hidden Cache x3
A Test of Will x3
Elven Light x1
Hasty Stroke x2
The Galadhrim’s Greeting x1
My original build really went overboard on the recursion, including Galadhrim Weavers and The White Council to shuffle cards back into my deck, but I realised this was largely pointless (as evidenced by the fact I never played them). The Spirit cards I can get back with Dwarven Tomb anyway, and everything else I want in the discard pile. The only use of shuffling things back into my deck is if I accidentally discard Nenya or if I want to shuffle a Hidden Cache back in so I can hopefully trigger it again, and for that reason I replaced The White Council with Ered-Nimrais Prospector.
I don’t think this deck would do too well in solo, unless you restrict yourself to quests with a fairly gentle start, as while it can muster decent attack once it gets going, it’s not so good on defence, though the addition of the Longbeard Sentries in the latest version is intended to help with that, while also discarding more of the deck (not sure how helpful the additional discarding is since Stargazers only go so far and you run out of Hidden Caches after a while, but it’s certainly worth a try). It’ll be much easier to just pair up with a deck that has decent Sentinel defenders though, and let this deck focus on questing for the first couple of rounds. That’s really what Unexpected Courage is in for.
You may find it strange that there’s only one Elven Light, but I haven’t found it to be that significant. Once it’s there, it’s nice to have as an option for extra draw, but between Galadriel and the Mirror, I often have enough even before factoring in the possibilities of Erestor, Galdor and Legolas. For that matter, the Mirror isn’t even necessarily that significant. It can be crucial early on, and I’ll often mulligan for it, but it’s mostly just to set up the Ziggy/Stargazer combo as fast as possible, and once that’s done it becomes much less important. Silver Harp, similarly, is only really there to defend the crucial cards from being discarded by the Mirror. As such, you really only need one copy in play, and the others can be safely discarded to Arwen, Eowyn and Erestor.
Once set up, just play Stand and Fight for whatever discarded ally looks most useful at the time and cycle it round with Dwarven Tomb and Map of Earnil. Be aware that your planning phases may take a while as you rearrange the top of your deck, discard some bits, draw others, and play Stand and Fight two or three times.
Final note on playing the deck is that while the decklist is a bit oversized, I don’t intend it to be played that way, as I appreciate the efficiency of it. Rather one should remove the cards that seem like they’ll be least useful for each particular game, such as unique allies which clash with other players’ hero choices.
Possible changes that could be made to the deck now or in the future – as I said, the selection of allies is easily subject to pretty much any change. Obvious examples would be that if someone is playing Dain, you can put in Dwarves, if someone’s playing Celeborn put in Silvans, if someone’s playing Leadership Boromir/Visionary Leadership put in Gondor allies; but otherwise you can just put in basically whatever you want. When ally Glorfindel gets released he’ll obviously be a perfect fit for this deck, and Cirdan might work in place of Eowyn – less choice of what to discard, but he also boosts the draw. At that point additional Noldor synergy could be more worthwhile, with Elven Jewellers, possibly actually using the other Silver Harps, throw in a copy of Lords of the Eldar, etc. Some of the Noldor stuff could still work already now for that matter. One could consider including a copy of Asfaloth since Galadriel can play it with Nenya, and it’s worthwhile even without Glorfindel. Given the minimal use I actually get out of Silver Harp I’ve considered cutting it entirely and accepting that I’ll occasionally lose important cards to the Mirror, but I still have mixed feelings about that, plus it allowed for the alternative title. Finally, obviously one could simply include more standard Spirit cards – Pelargir Shipwright, Elrond’s Counsel, etc. They’re always good, it’s just that I was really focusing on the Stand and Fight thing and used up so much space on out-of-sphere allies and recursion effects.
Anyway, I hope you guys like the deck, I’ve certainly had fun (and will continue to have fun) building, playing around, and tinkering with it. I may do an update to the decklist at some point, or possibly make a video to show off an updated version after some more tweaks.
(And just for the record if anyone’s wondering: I do not at present have any ideas or plans for an Alan Rickman themed deck)