Deck: ‘Tis but a scratch!

This is the third deck I built which branched out from the basic concept of “Warrior allies + Raiment of War.” While putting together the set of Warrior allies I could choose from I realised that a great candidate for Raiment of War is ally Boromir, since his ability depends on taking damage so the additional hit points are especially worthwhile, and he has innate readying to use the bonuses to both defence and attack in the same round without even needing Narya.

The other aspect was that since I was building around the Warrior trait I also tried to use Vigilant Guard, which likewise fits quite nicely with ally Boromir but not necessarily so well with the other Warrior allies. Weirdly, for all that I’m posting this as the third of the three decks which diverged from the basic idea, but this actually started out as the original deck, which got twisted away from the original idea such that I ended up building Brave Warriors to get back to the original concept while this became more focused on ally Boromir specifically. In particular trying to focus on ally Boromir in this way requires healing, so it’ll work a lot better if this deck contains Lore for healing itself rather than relying on another deck, and the solid card draw really helps with setting up a combo as well. And being able to shed the more generic aspects of the deck allowed me to get more out of the whole Boromir combo idea.

So getting the full combo together can be a bit problematic, there are multiple pieces to it. Initially my hero lineup was Galdor (for the discard mulligan helping find combo pieces), Tactics Eowyn (for the low threat) and Mablung (for the resources). It worked alright, but I felt like being able to play a Master of the Forge sooner would be beneficial, as would better healing. Enter Elrond, who in addition to boosting healing can also still pay for Boromir and other Tactics allies, while Mablung’s resource generation means the attachments remain reasonably affordable as well. Inevitably the deck still takes a bit of time to get set up, but it can do it and works well once it is set up. Perhaps the biggest obstacle at this point is the need to control an Ent character before you can play Ent Draught. Back when I still had two Tactics heroes I was thinking maybe it’d work better if I waited until The Crossings of Poros was released so I could sub in the Tactics Ent hero we’re going to get in that pack, but now that I only have one Tactics hero I think I really need that resource generation to be able to afford everything sensibly. On to the decklist before I get too in-depth about how the deck functions:

‘Tis but a scratch!

Heroes:
Galdor of the Havens
Elrond
Mablung

Allies (24):
Boromir x3
Honour Guard x3
Dunedain Hunter x3
Derndingle Warrior x3
Quickbeam x3
Wandering Ent x3
Warden of Healing x3
Master of the Forge x3

Attachments (15):
Raiment of War x3
Vigilant Guard x3
Secret Vigil x3
Ent Draught x3
Defender of the West x3

Events (11):
Daeron’s Runes x3
Deep Knowledge x3
Entmoot x2
Feint x3

Sideboard:
Proud Hunters

Decklist on RingsDB

I had difficulty coming up with a name for this deck until it occurred to me that Boromir taking hits potentially up to 9 damage and repeatedly popping back up again ready for more could be seen as very reminiscent of the Monty Python Black Knight and now I can’t think of it as anything else. I also had difficulty thinking of anything to go in a sideboard because it’s very focused – Proud Hunters is a good choice though if you feel the deck is a bit short on resources, which might still be a thing, especially in the early-game when you’re getting set up.
But as I said, the deck is very focused. Obviously it all hinges on Boromir, boosted by Raiment of War, Vigilant Guard, and Ent Draught, plus Defender of the West for potential shenanigans (though those shenanigans may be superfluous a lot of the time and so that could be an OK cut for Proud Hunters, especially if someone has ally Arwen). Master of the Forge digs out all the important attachments. To play Ent Draught I need an Ent ally, so I have a set of nine very useful Ent allies to choose from. Wardens of Healing and Honour Guards are crucial to the concept so I can keep Boromir’s hit points as high as possible at all times, especially with potential Defender of the West undefended attacks in the mix. The Derndingle Warriors of course are themselves great targets for the spare Ent Draughts, while the Honour Guards could make good repositories for the spare Vigilant Guards assuming I can afford them. Dunedain Hunters get more resources out of Mablung; Daeron’s Runes, Deep Knowledge, and Entmoot get more draw to increase the reliability of this multi-card combo, and Secret Vigils offset the combination of highish starting threat and Deep Knowledge (potentially they might even enable Boromir’s conditional +2 defence). The only card in the whole deck which doesn’t somehow tie into the whole central theme of getting this combo to work is Feint, which is a staple of all Tactics decks.
Given how basically everything relates somehow to the combo, one could argue that Galdor’s discard mulligan is kind of superfluous, and indeed I considered Pippin as an alternative, with lower threat and potentially providing a bit of extra card draw. Feel free to sub him in if you like. But on the other hand, while everything kind of ties in, some things are more relevant than others, especially right at the start of the game, so the discard mulligan can have some definite relevance. Not to mention that this deck is obviously combat focused, so as long as the other players are alright for questing power, Galdor’s 2 attack might come in useful.

So, the basic idea of how to play the deck is obvious. With the full combo in play, Boromir has 2 defence and 10 hit points, he can siphon damage from other characters and take undefended attacks, and with Wardens and Honour Guards on hand he can keep taking the damage and consequent readying for ages. I mean, I tried an earlier version of this deck in 3-handed against Journey in the Dark, and while I lost, Boromir successfully tanked two or three Balrog hits before I realised I didn’t have enough attack power to kill the damn thing (and this was before I added Elrond to the deck so my healing was much less). With how effective this is, it’s just a shame Lembas only works on heroes.
Anyway, as I was saying, basic idea obvious, the difficult part is getting there. In the early-game you probably want Elrond to act as a defender until Boromir is set up, because you can’t really wait to engage enemies since that’s how you get the extra resources out of Mablung. If you’re subbing in Proud Hunters remember also that you need to score a kill with the hero you want the resources on, which is most likely Mablung, but could be Elrond (in which case Mablung probably defends – don’t worry if he takes a bit of damage, you have healing for it). Make use of Elrond’s ability to play out of sphere allies primarily for Boromir, but potentially also for Honour Guards or a Derndingle Warrior if that’s the first Ent you can get – any resources you spend from Elrond on Tactics allies are resources you save on Mablung to potentially play Tactics attachments. Fortunately Boromir and Vigilant Guard are the only cards in the deck which cost more than 2, so you don’t have to save up too much, but testing out this deck and Recalled Glory alike has really heightened my already sizeable appreciation for Mablung, with his ability to repeatedly afford 2-cost attachments as the only Tactics hero in the deck.

This deck will work very nicely with anyone playing ally Arwen, since that’s the only repeatable way of giving Sentinel to ally Boromir, and then he can just defend pretty much everything. Since you want him to take damage and ready the defence boost can actually be a liability, but if you’re getting fully set up then you have additional options in Vigilant Guard and undefended attacks with Defender of the West to get him ready again. Leadership Denethor in a friendly deck could also be nice to pass extra resources to Mablung, or equally a generous player with Errand-riders. Narya could be a thing, though once again the defence boost could be a liability. Obviously anyone else running any of the same key cards (e.g. Ent Draught, Raiment of War, Warden of Healing) in this deck could accelerate the process of getting the combo into play – in particular someone with hero Treebeard and Ent Draughts might be faster than this deck needing to play an Ent ally first, even if they keep the first draught for themself. Strong questing decks will obviously make good partners, not just because this is a combat deck, but particularly because if starting willpower is good from other decks it’ll be a lot easier to hold back some or all of the heroes in this deck for combat, which could be significant in the early-game.

Regardless, I hope you find this deck interesting, cool, fun, whatever. I hope you appreciate it in some way. I’ve certainly had a lot of fun working on it.

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