Deck Spring Cleaning: First Age

Back when I started doing Deck Spring Cleaning I said that it’d make more sense to save spring cleaning my folder of First Age decks until after I’d done something else on the First Age. Since I have now done First Age in The Line Unbroken, it makes perfect sense at this point to come back and tackle the folder, especially since thinking of everything I noted down for the card reviews has given me assorted ideas for First Age decks which I really want to try out and it makes sense to clear out the older and less good decks before doing so. And so here we are. I anticipate that a lot of the decks I’ll end up resolving to delete and rebuild from scratch, but let’s see!

So firstly, a couple of subfolders:

Decks built for some games in real life with the real cards. These are exempt from Spring Cleaning even though we’re unlikely to use them again. I don’t know, maybe I’ll delete them at some point for that reason.

Solitary Outlaw
Single hero decks making use of Solitary Outlaw. Specifically I’ve got Earendil, Fingolfin and Turin. I strongly suspect I could improve these both with the addition of some more recently released cards (both official and First Age) and with more deckbuilding experience which I’ve gained since building them, but I definitely want to keep them. At worst I might rebuild them from scratch.

Decks I built for playtesting the expansions in the Doom-Mastered cycle. Now obviously the more recent ones of these I can’t talk about in detail, but some of them are still carried over from testing Trial Upon the Marches and Among the Outlaws, so I want to go through those and see if any of them are worth holding onto (and moving into the main folder).

Belegmast – Pretty sure I built this when Beleg was new and being playtested for Trial Upon the Marches. Beleg/Thingol/Turin, which is actually a pretty thematic lineup, all the Doriath heroes. Nothing that interesting about this deck, I was mostly just throwing a bunch of new cards into a deck to see how they worked out.
Verdict: Delete.

Betrayal1Win/Betrayal1Win2 – A pair of decks I built to win against the initial playtesting version of Betrayal of Mim, even though Ian had already decided to change it, because I refused to let the quest beat me. Can’t talk about some of the details and obviously they’re obsolete now (and really don’t work without the mechanics of that initial version of the quest) but they kind of have a little bit of sentimental value at this point.
Verdict: Keep for posterity.

BorBerSecrecy – Beren/Haleth/Bor the Faithful. When I saw Bor in the player cards for Among the Outlaws I immediately figured it’d be interesting to build a Secrecy deck with him. Beren is the lowest threat Leadership hero in the First Age, I want Leadership for Timely Aid, and he also has inherent resource generation so he’s a great fit. Glancing at it, this deck looks pretty good. Between Songs of Gladness, Brethil Hounds and Double Back it stands decent chances of maintaining its Secrecy and beyond that it just has a bunch of useful stuff. If I remember rightly this deck did pretty spectacularly well against an earlier version of Among the Outlaws.
Verdict: Keep.

BorMast – Bor/Turin/Feanor. Since Bor’s ability relates to corruption, obviously pairing him with Mastery for effects like Maeglin and Dark Elf makes a lot of sense. Specifically I think someone in the playtesting group had questioned whether pairing Bor with Maeglin would be too powerful and so I built this deck to try it out and see how I felt about it (Which, if you’re curious, yeah it’s powerful, but there’s a lot of powerful stuff in the First Age so I don’t think it’s really broken, certainly not in context). Once again this seems like I was mostly just throwing stuff together to see how it worked out, but it also looks pretty good and I think it turned out pretty well as I recall.
Verdict: Keep.

Feanor2solo – Feanor/Fingon/Beleg. Use Feanor for free attachments, use Fingon to get more uses out of him, use Beleg’s cost reduction to smooth out the tri-sphere. In principle this is great, and I do love me some Feanor, but glancing at the decklist there are a few things where I’m just going “Why is this in here?” For example, Hour of Need – OK, it fits the theme of trying to get things in for cheap but do I really want to be planning to get engaged with two enemies that often with this deck? Also Secret Toil I’m not sure about but I do have Unexpected Courages going around. In general though, as much is there are good ideas behind this deck it’s a case where I think I’d probably be better off just starting again.
Verdict: Delete, maybe rebuild from scratch.

[Redacted] – Playtesting Betrayal of Mim cards, can’t tell you about this one.

GreatYewBeleg – Beleg Strongbow being the first Ranged First Age hero, I figured to see if I could actually make use of the fact the Great Yew Bow is on the approved list. Other heroes are Hurin for low threat Tactics access and Earendil to keep my threat down. Cost reduction from Beleg should help smooth the tri-sphere as usual but a fair amount of this decklist is kind of a mess to be honest. The standard tri-sphere problem of having too many things you want to include. I could probably tighten this up and make it work reasonably, but once again I feel like the best way to begin that process might be with a blank decklist rather than one which already contains the mess.
Verdict: Delete, maybe rebuild from scratch.

QuestCancel – Beren/Luthien/Earendil, and as the name suggests it’s supposed to be just a general questing and cancellation deck.. A reasonable general selection of things here, but nothing that interesting.
Verdict: Delete.

SolitBeleg – Solitary Outlaw Beleg Strongbow. A decent idea, cost reduction fitting well into a build with less heroes, but then you need to make the progress first before it’ll work. Also has the positive that there are a bunch of good Secrecy cards in Lore. On the other hand, I’m not sure how good this deck would actually be in practice – I’m not sure if I ever actually tested it. So maybe I’ll try it out and see if it works at all.
Verdict: Try it, delete it if it doesn’t work.

ThingolCorrupt – This was my first foray into an idea I’ve had for a while of using the Ransom allies and possibly also Petty-dwarf Survivors and Nauglamir or otherwise getting allies corrupted to trigger lots of draws from the Menegroth deck. That’s an idea which I feel is really going to be coming together a lot more with some of the stuff from Among the Outlaws and the currently playtesting Betrayal of Mim. Net result, I’m going to be putting together a new version of this from scratch.
Verdict: Delete and rebuild.

TrialSupport – I feel like maybe this deck was supposed to be combined with another one when I was playtesting Trial Upon the Marches, but that other deck either I’ve deleted, moved, or I didn’t give it such an easily recognisable name as ‘Trial[something]’ to make it clear what it was for. In any case, this is Fingon/Turgon/Idril and as the name suggests it seems to be a pretty general support deck, with a little bit of everything. I could probably improve it, I’m sure I could at least tighten it up a bit to make it more consistent, but it basically looks OK.
Verdict: Keep.

Main Folder
That’s all the subfolders, so now let’s take a look at what’s left. A lot of these are probably going to be deleted because I built them back when I was new both to the First Age specifically and the game in general, so I made some more questionable deckbuilding decisions.

Beren-Luthien – Beren/Luthien/Hurin. A Beren & Luthien deck is an obvious thing to go for, so it was one of the first things I tried to do. Including Hurin as my third hero was because I saw the second option on Huan and figured I had to get that in, but making it a tri-sphere deck is liable to make it harder to get them working properly since there’s nothing else you really want from Tactics. Just have another deck play Huan and attach him cross-table. The thematic third hero choice would be Finrod of course since Finrod went with Beren to Tol in Gaurhoth, but with Finrod you end up probably putting more emphasis on the Edain trait rather than on Beren and Luthien. I might just try and make it a two-hero deck to be honest. Upshot is though, this version is not very good.
Verdict: Delete, make a new one some time.

BerLuLeg – Beren/Luthien/Beleg (hence the oh-so-creative deck name). Since I’d kind of learned how to build decks by this point it’s better than the previous one, and once again Beleg’s cost reduction is good for tri-sphere. Still not sure this is well-built enough to be worth holding on to though, but it may be worth at least trying out. A definite red flag is only 2 copies of High Kingship of the Noldor, but on the other hand I feel like this may work better with a spread of resources rather than stacking them on one hero and thus do better with the three copies of Tighten Our Belts and Beleg which it also has. The difficulty is that Beleg’s cost reduction can be less consistent than one might like unless you have Ard-Galen Horses to leave some spare progress lying around. There are some interesting points to this but I doubt I’ll ever really want to pick it up and play it.
Verdict: Delete.

Blue Dwarf – Fingon/Cirdan/Thingol, with the intention of building around the Dwarf of the Blue Mountains and a bunch of unique attachments. Once again, this was early in my time with this game and thus my deckbuilding was not as good. The Dwarf of the Blue Mountains is still a card that I really want to build around, but once again it’ll probably be easier for me to build that deck starting from scratch rather than trying to alter this one.
Verdict: Delete, consider rebuilding.

Costs – Fingon/Beleg/Fingolfin. I’m not sure exactly why this is called ‘Costs’. I mean, Beleg reduces costs with his ability and it combos with Ard-Galen Horses, plus I’ve got ally Galadriel who lets you dodge some costs, but I don’t know that that’s enough to name the deck after it. I really don’t know what this deck’s purpose is supposed to be.
Verdict: Delete.

Edain-Noldor – Finrod/Haleth/Earendil. This was based on the thought I brought up in the Leadership card review for The Line Unbroken of having Finrod boosting the Edain and then using Strength of Men to have the Edain boost the Noldor back. The reason for Earendil is because I figured it made thematic sense for a deck built around the friendship between the Edain and Noldor to have one Noldor hero, one Edain hero and one Halfelven hero. In practical terms though a lineup of Finrod/Beren/Haleth might make more sense though. Or maybe if we had another Spirit Noldor or Edain hero (I guess we do if we use the approved list). This is a concept I definitely want to revisit, but this version of it, not so much.
Verdict: Delete, remake.

Feanor – Feanor/Fingon/Idril. Focused on using Feanor to get in cheap attachments and Fingon to remove his corruption and keep him going. As you might guess, the “Feanor2solo” deck in the Test folder was supposed to be a newer and better version of this, so since I decided to ditch and possibly rebuild that one, it only makes sense that I do the same to this.
Verdict: Delete.

Feanor-Earendil – Feanor/Luthien/Earendil. I’m not entirely sure why I emphasised Earendil rather than Luthien, maybe just because Earendil is one of my favourite First Age heroes. Anyway, this lineup works out pretty great because if you have effects like Dark Elf which are triggered by putting corruption on heroes, having Luthien and Earendil gives you massive scope for them without needing to touch Feanor, so he can stick to his innate abilities. Luthien and Earendil are also heroes who greatly benefit from getting their key attachments faster, and Feanor lets you get them down instantly. As usual, this could do with tweaking, but here I think the core is solid so I don’t need to tear it all down to the foundations first.
Verdict: Keep.

Fingolfin-Ecthelion – Fingolfin/Ecthelion/Thingol. I figured Fingolfin as the ultimate defender and Ecthelion as the ultimate attacker would pair together well. Thingol is a good third because the Menegroth deck can draw you some handy stuff and you want to be engaging everything. Plus Aranruth lets me include a few out of sphere cards I might want, and Open Battle can also fetch the important things. Again, could use some tweaks, but basically solid.
Verdict: Keep.

First Try – As the name suggests, this was my first try at building a First Age deck. Correspondingly, it’s really not that good. Didn’t even have a particularly interesting idea behind it, I just went “I want to build a First Age deck.” That was the entirety of the idea behind this not particularly good deck.
Verdict: Delete.

Haleth-Hurin/HalHur2 – Two decks both built around the idea of pairing up Haleth and Hurin since they both benefit from having engaged enemies. The first deck uses Earendil as the third hero, while the second has Finrod to boost both the other heroes. Making it tri-sphere is perhaps a tad problematic, but there’s not a lot of expensive stuff this deck really wants, and I have Oath of Friendship and a couple of Songs of Battle to help with smoothing. There are some more questionable elements, but a fair amount of the deck is good. The first version has more questionable elements and I think is overall not as strong.
Verdict: Delete the first, keep the second.

Monolead/Monolor/Monomast/Monospir/Monotact – I figured why not try building mono-sphere decks in each of the five spheres. Not particularly because I thought they’d be that good so much as I just wanted to see what they’d end up looking like. Mono-Mastery of course is a rather questionable setup until we get another Mastery hero so we don’t have to put Feanor and Thingol together. The others are more reasonable, and by this point the First Age card pool may be getting to a comparable size to the official card pool circa Against the Shadow. That said, if I want a mono-sphere deck at this point I’m just going to build a new one rather than look at these old ones.
Verdict: Delete.

Secret – First attempt at a First Age Secrecy deck, with Thingol/Haleth/Glorfindel. Interesting thought, but I’m not particularly enamoured of it, and as a general rule when I’m building First Age decks I prefer to stick to First Age heroes rather than approved list ones. I much prefer the Beren/Bor/Haleth one I covered from my Test folder.
Verdict: Delete.

Supercombat – Turin/Ecthelion/Fingolfin. An extremely focused combat deck. Built specifically for Trial Upon the Marches but it should work in general, but pretty much only in a 3-4 player context because like I said, it is extremely focused. If there are enemies, this deck can defend them, and it can kill them, but someone else needs to handle questing, and preferably throw a bit of threat reduction around as well. Could maybe do with updating, but still basically fine.
Verdict: Keep.

Tanks – This was partly another attempt to work with the Blue Mountain Dwarf, and has a generally defensive theme, with them, Cirdan and Fingolfin. Once again though, it didn’t really work all that well.
Verdict: Delete.

Trial LL – Fingon/Cirdan/Beleg. A fair amount in common with TrialSupport from the Test folder and it shares a lot of the same positives. Thinking about it I might want to only keep one of them and not the other, and this one looks possibly better.
Verdict: Keep, maybe delete TrialSupport instead.

Vengeance – Earendil/Ecthelion/Hurin. Trying to make use of the Oath of Vengeance, pairing it up with things like Elwing, Azaghal and Undismayed. Never quite worked as well as I wanted it to but I’m not sure I want to completely abandon it. This is another one I might like to take for a spin and see how it works out.
Verdict: Try it out and see.

Wolfhunt1/Wolfhunt2 – Two decks built specifically to work well against Hunting of the Wolf, since it’s so hugely divergent from the normal run of how quests tend to work. That said, as with the mono-sphere decks, if I want something geared towards that quest I’ll build something new (or alternatively just grab the decks I used for The Line Unbroken).
Verdict: Delete.

So there we go. First Age deck folder decidedly tidied up, many decks gone, now I can start working on new ones to replace them. And at this point I’m probably done talking about the First Age on this blog for at least a little while. Hope you’ve enjoyed the detour.

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