Decks: The House of Stewards

After a long wait, the Dream-chaser cycle has apparently finally begun with the release of Flight of the Stormcaller, and everyone is excitedly jumping on our new Leadership Denethor hero (plus some other cards, but Denethor is I think the one that’s got people most excited. He certainly justifies it, though he is actually rather of that type of hero that’s not especially high profile in a game but nevertheless has a huge impact. I’m planning a post on that precise subject in the near future, but suffice to say at the moment that while having a couple of extra resources and then moving them around during the game isn’t as impressive as readying yourself, boosting your stats, etc, it may well have a much more significant impact on the outcome of a game than those more flashy abilities.

The new Denethor also has one aspect which makes him very welcome to me – he has obvious decks to build with him, which immediately spring to mind. Recent heroes, although I’ve liked them a lot, I’ve often had no immediate ideas for where I could actually fit them into decks, whereas with Denethor I knew immediately at least one of the things I wanted to do with him and could just jump straight into deck-building.
So as I mentioned in the last Line Unbroken post, the Denethor/Boromir/Faramir lineup, all of the house of Stewards, is one I’ve enjoyed playing around with ever since it became possible. The initial Leadership/Lore combination worked nicely, Tactics/Lore probably would’ve worked for a more combat focused version as well, and while I never got round to it, shifting the sphere balance of the Ld/Lo version with Leadership Faramir would I’m sure also be a good setup for a Gondor deck. A decent amount of the best Gondor stuff is in those two spheres, and having Lore means the Gondor deck doesn’t suffer for card draw as it otherwise can at times. Introducing Leadership Denethor adds multiple new options for this set of characters, and I’m going to explore a couple of those possibilities here.

Now Flight of the Stormcaller also gave us a few other Gondor-themed cards which could fit neatly into these decks – Rod of the Steward, firstly. Now 2 resources for 1 card my sound like not such a good deal, but I have often enough been sat staring at a double digit number of resources and an empty hand to know that in the right context this could be a big deal. In Service of the Steward certainly has potential, but is of less use in an actual Gondor deck because everyone has the trait already. Finally Heed the Dream is potentially very powerful, especially if you have Leadership resources sitting around for the second part of it – I’m not going to be making such good use of it here however, as I want to make use of one particular aspect of Denethor’s ability – that being that you can build a tri-sphere deck which is effectively mostly only dual-sphere, because you can just pass Denethor’s resources to the other heroes as needed every round (so long as the other heroes have the Gondor trait). So there are two approaches I decided to take, one being mono-Leadership and something of an all-rounder; and the other being tri-sphere with a serious hero-based combat focus.

The House of Stewards (mono-Leadership)

Boromir (Ld)
Faramir (Ld)
Denethor (Ld)

Allies (28):
Anborn (Ld) x1
Ingold x1
Citadel Custodian x3
Envoy of Pelargir x3
Errand-rider x3
Gandalf (Core) x3
Herald of Anorien x3
Pelargir Ship Captain x2
Squire of the Citadel x3
Veteran of Osgiliath x3
White Tower Watchman x3

Attachments (14):
Steward of Gondor x3
Rod of the Steward x3
Heir of Mardil x2
Tome of Atanatar x3
Visionary Leadership x3

Events (6):
Sneak Attack x3
Strength of Arms x3

Side-quests (2):
Gather Information x1
Send for Aid x1

In Service of the Steward x3
Mariner’s Compass x2
Path of Need x1
Staff of Lebethron x2
A Very Good Tale x3
Campfire Tales x3
Doom Hangs Still x2
For Gondor! x3
Reinforcements x3

Decklist on RingsDB

The sideboard here is mostly a bunch of cards which I haven’t really used yet and which I think should work well in a mono-Leadership deck but couldn’t find the space for. Reinforcements and Campfire Tales are specifically with multiplayer in mind, Mariner’s Compass for cases with bad locations, Doom Hangs Still for places where you might want to skip questing. A Very Good Tale obviously would be a very good fit for the deck and I didn’t want to relegate it to sideboard status, but on the other hand I should have plenty of resources to just play my allies. In Service of the Steward is potentially for multiplayer again as it’ll give the Visionary Leadership bonus and the Boromir bonus if played on an ally. May well not be worth it though. Staff of Lebethron is speculative and probably wouldn’t work because this deck wouldn’t be staying below enemy engagement costs so much. I suppose it could be combined with ISotS and played on a lower threat deck in multiplayer.
In the main deck, card draw is a bit lacking, it’s just Gandalf and Rod of the Steward, but on the other hand then we’ll have the situation where I may well have a ton of resources for the Rod when I draw it, and remember there’s no per round or per phase limit on the Rod. Given the number of resources I’m liable to have, obviously I can afford to send a few around the table with Errand-riders, which should make this deck more multiplayer-friendly than your average Steward-hog, it obviously does combat pretty well and quests well once Visionary Leadership turns up. Heir of Mardil allows a Noble Gondor hero to be readied at will by Denethor. Finally of course I have the Tome of Atanatar to recycle Sneak Attack and Strength of Arms to huge effect. This deck may well work in solo play as well as multiplayer so long as you’re not playing a quest which will destroy you for lack of healing or cancellation. And it’d probably have to get Visionary pretty fast to make sure it could quest OK.

“Yet the Lord of Gondor is not to be made the tool of other men’s purposes, however worthy. And to him, there is no purpose higher in the world as it now stands than the good of Gondor; and the rule of Gondor, my lord, is mine and no other man’s, unless the king should come again.”

The House of Stewards (tri-sphere combat focused)

Boromir (Ta)
Faramir (Lo)
Denethor (Ld)

Allies (9):
Gandalf (Core) x3
Honour Guard x3
Warden of Healing x3

Attachments (20):
Captain of Gondor x1
Dunedain Signal x3
Gondorian Fire x2
Gondorian Shield x3
Heir of Mardil x2
Ranger Spikes x3
Steward of Gondor x3
Sword of Numenor x3

Events (19):
Behind Strong Walls x3
Daeron’s Runes x3
Deep Knowledge x3
Feint x3
Heed the Dream x1
Peace and Thought x3
Sneak Attack x3

Side-quests (2):
Delay the Enemy x1
Scout Ahead x1

Decklist on RingsDB

This deck will very definitely not work solo. It does not quest (well, it might Battle quest with Gondorian Fire, thus Delay the Enemy). As I mentioned above, a handy point with Denethor’s ability is that you don’t have to have that many Leadership cards in your deck, since you can just pass them to other Gondor heroes of other spheres, accordingly, there aren’t a lot of Leadership cards in this deck, and Denethor’s resources should mostly be passed to his sons to play Tactics or Lore cards and to power Gondorian Fire. The Sword of Numenor is kind of speculative as I’ve never used it before, but at worst it’s still +1 attack. This deck is very focused on the heroes, so the only allies are supportive ones – damage cancellation, healing and Gandalf primarily for enters play effects. Heir of Mardil should obviously go onto Faramir since Boromir can already ready himself at will. The reason there’s only one copy of Heed the Dream is that I’d mostly want it for the optional second part which I may well not be able to trigger if I’m giving away all of Denethor’s resources. The first part is good too, but alternatively I could just wait until the refresh phase and draw five cards with Peace and Thought rather than just digging out one of those five. Between Shields and Signals, Denethor and Boromir should be able to cover defensive duties for a lot of the table (maybe all of it with Boromir), while Boromir attacks forward and Faramir does Ranged, boosted with Swords, Fire and enemies held in staging by Ranger Spikes (for Faramir). As I said, Delay the Enemy is in there because the deck will Battle quest pretty well with Faramir, Boromir and Gondorian Fire; while Scout Ahead being a powerful scrying effect may let you set up optimally favourable Ranger Spikes, though that one will obviously need to be quested through by other decks. With the amount of draw in this deck it should get rolling super fast and be able to handle a lion’s share of combat to keep the other decks safe.

“And where will other men look for help, if Gondor falls? … If you do not trust me to endure the test, you do not know me yet.”

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