Following on from my Archetype Analysis: Superhero, I was planning to post up one or two more decks that fit into the superhero archetype, but neither of the two decks I had in mind is quite ready for public consumption yet, so instead while casting around for something to post I picked out this. This deck is one I built a while primarily just because I had yet to actually build a deck using hero Damrod and wanted to give it a go, but it went in some interesting directions as you’ll see.
As I recall there had also been some mentions on the forums of using some of the less used trap stuff like Poisoned Stakes and Forest Patrol to get easy direct damage kills on enemies without needing to fight them normally, so I decided to play around with those (having never really used those cards before). A little tinkering later and I realised that this would also be a great place for one of my favourite almost-never-used cards – Infighting.
So from there it essentially turned into a mixture of traps and Lore-based direct damage. An unusual combination to be sure, but an interesting one. I’ll mention now that this is absolutely not a solo deck. It’s probably not a 2 player deck either. Traps are a naturally supportive mechanic rather than a core one, so making them the primary aspect of your deck naturally inclines you towards a 3-4 player setup where the other decks are handling the core fundamentals and you’re thus free to do your tricksy support things and just help make things easier for them. I tested the deck in a 3-handed setup alongside these two decks (the Valour deck I’ve posted on the blog but the Noldor I had no particularly interesting insights about it, just ‘Noldor’ so I just stuck it on RingsDB).
So the basic intention is that you quest a bit, help a bit in combat with Faramir and Haldir, and get enemies stuck in traps (which helps you draw your deck fast). When you have some trapped enemies, Poisoned Stakes will naturally tick damage on them, and those with Ranger Spikes or Forest Snares present themselves as nice targets for Haldir or possibly Forest Patrol to lay down some damage for later use – they’re not going anywhere, and therefore neither is the damage, until you want to move it with Infighting to nuke a different enemy. If an enemy lands on a trap that you just want gone straight away, then you can of course just Forest Patrol it instantly if you want – with Damrod’s cost reduction, the amount of draw you have and recursion from Erebor Hammersmith and possibly Anborn, losing one trap isn’t that big a deal in the long run. Ithilien Trackers with Ranger Bows can also put up a few extra damage.
Now I mentioned Damrod’s cost reduction there. I have to admit, initially I found that even with that cost reduction I was struggling to afford everything. Between playing traps and getting some allies on the board I’d run out of resources and never be able to afford those tricksy events the deck is supposed to run on. Now part of the problem was solved by simply acknowledging the fundamentally supportive nature of the deck and removing some of the allies to make room for more of the attachments and events which make up the deck’s central functionality. But in addition to that, I also did want some more resources. But resource generation in Lore is pretty scarce. I could’ve brought in Grima and Keys of Orthanc, but while I’m not super worried about my threat I’d still rather not drive it up too much, and as much as I argue people worry more about threat than they need to, putting Grima in a deck only intended for 3-4 player games is just asking for hate. Plus I wanted to stick to this hero lineup even though it’s not necessarily that important, which also ruled out using Bifur and taking resources from other players. I didn’t want to go Good Harvest + Steward either, that’d be another way to attract the ire of other players. So what’s left? Master of Lore does cost reduction if you can take the 3 resources to get him into play in the first place, I suppose. Or, well there is that one option.
Now, people will generally tell you if you ask that using Sword-thain just to get more resources is not that worthwhile and they have a point. I’d generally agree with them. You pay 4 to play it, so it’ll be 4 rounds before you recoup that cost and have more resources than you would’ve had otherwise – and if you’re OK with that sort of wait, you could get the same effect from Resourceful. But there’s a slight difference if you play Sword-thain in mono-sphere, and slightly more for mono-Lore in particular. Because one of the powerful tricks available to mono-sphere decks are the four Record attachments. These have their cost reduced by 1 for each hero with a printed icon of the sphere. So if you were going to play the Record (in this case Scroll of Isildur) anyway, then having a fourth hero from Sword-thain saves you a resource (making the Record free), effectively speeding up the rate at which Sword-thain recoups its cost. Since we also can recur the Scroll with Erebor Hammersmith it’s not out of the question (thought admittedly unlikely) you could play Scroll of Isildur 4 times the same round you play Sword-thain, thus recouping the cost instantly. Being mono-Lore specifically also means that Sword-thain gets us an additional card every time we play Mithrandir’s Advice (which we can recur with the Scroll if we want). In general it’s not great if all you want is more resources, but in this specific case it works (and also gets us more cards as a bonus). Lore also has the only 1-cost unique ally in the game and a couple of good 2-cost options to make it easier to get Sword-thain down.
So here’s the decklist:
Orcs Tumble into my Traps
Haldir of Lorien
Henamarth Riversong x3
Erebor Hammersmith x3
Ithilien Tracker x3
Warden of Healing x2
Forest Snare x3
Poisoned Stakes x3
Ranger Bow x3
Ranger Spikes x3
Scroll of Isildur x3
Daeron’s Runes x3
Forest Patrol x3
Mithrandir’s Advice x3
Scout Ahead x1
Other options that would work well here – I decided my draw was good enough not to need fetching effects, but Master of the Forge, Heed the Dream or Gather Information would all be good fits, and certainly it would’ve been helpful if I’d had a chance to reshuffle my deck that one time I had all 3 copies of Sword-thain in the bottom 8 cards of the deck (in fairness, the deck still worked, but it goes better with 4 heroes). Most of the time the draw’s good enough though. Deep Knowledge could also give me more draw so long as I could handle the threat.
Expecting Mischief would be an interesting one. Since this deck is intended purely for 3-4 payer, the chances of seeing an enemy in a given staging are pretty good, and it’d fir the Lore direct damage thing I’ve got going on.
Other traps of course – Ithilien Pit can always be an interesting one, and if nothing else I can play it for free with Damrod to draw a card and make the next enemy a valid target for Forest Patrol, and we’ve also had another 1-cost trap spoiled as turning up later in the cycle, Entangling Nets.
The spoiled Ioreth ally would be great here. I could use her instead of Wardens of Healing, and she’s another great cheap option for Sword-thain.
If I were willing to change up the deck more substantially, I could dump Scroll of Isildur and Sword-thain, find a different source of resources (or change up the cost curve) and introduce another sphere. Leadership Denethor could bring Steward of Gondor, Sneak Attack Gandalf is never unwelcome, and Fresh Tracks could fit the deck’s strategy pretty well. On the other hand if I included some Tactics I could get Haldir some weapons and focus more on the strategy of pre-emptive kills with Hands Upon the Bow, plus there’s Tactics direct damage to play around with.
While he is certainly useful, Faramir is more a thematic choice than a mechanics-based one, so he could potentially be swapped out for a different Lore hero if you want.
Taking the deck as it is, it plays very well with anyone using a Dunedain strategy, since you can stick Forest Snares on the enemies they’re keeping engaged to power their stuff, and then use those enemies as damage sponges for Infighting. As I said, the two or three decks besides yours need to have the fundamentals covered so you can focus on support, though you’re not without a certain amount of use in combat at least – Faramir can get decent Ranged attack with Ranger Spikes trapping enemies in the staging area, while Haldir can make pre-emptive strikes or just help at Ranged normally, plus you’ve got your direct damage working for you to kill more enemies. In general though I think this probably works with just about any partner decks so long as they do, as I say, have the fundamentals down. I’ve got a game end screenshot from one of my testing games, against Nightmare Steward’s Fear. Things got pretty crazy as you can see, but between the traps and the Valour deck, enemies never felt like a problem. It was mostly just the plot(s) that gave me concern.