Decks: Heroes/Allies Stand Ready

Readers may recall that in a Deck Spring Cleaning a while back I updated an old deck focused on action advantage. In that post I commented that in some ways the logical way to update it might have been to keep the idea and just create two new decks, one focused on action advantage for heroes and the other for allies, and that I might do that in a future post. It’s taken a bit of work, but these are those two decks.

So, hero actions first. There are a fair few heroes who have inherent action advantage for themselves, but for the idea of this deck I realised the perfect candidates are the two heroes who can offer action advantage to other heroes, going for the flexibility rather than just the number of actions, so enter Legolas and Gimli from Sands of Harad. Of course that does push me towards using them to ready each other, but it’s not mandated like on a hero with a self-readying ability, and like with a self-readying hero, having that readying makes it easier to pass out other readying to different heroes rather than keep it for myself.
Next point is obviously including various other means of readying heroes, and the all-important point of making sure all those extra actions are actually worth using. So some stat boosts would appear to be in order. Handily the simplest and most universal stat boosts in the game appear in the Leadership sphere in the various Signal attachments. I can also give out Ranged and Sentinel. This clearly points me towards my third hero being a second Leadership hero, so sticking to the theme of action advantage I considered Prince Imrahil and Halbarad but decided quickly Sam Gamgee was the better choice for the low threat and higher willpower. Having two Leadership heroes also helps me potentially afford Grim Resolve.

Heroes Stand Ready

Sam Gamgee
Gimli (Ld)
Legolas (Sp)

Allies (9):
Weather Hills Watchman x3
Naith Guide x3
Westfold Horse-Breaker x3

Attachments (33):
Steward of Gondor x3
King Under the Mountain x3
Armoured Destrier x3
Cram x3
Dunedain Mark x3
Dunedain Warning x3
Dunedain Quest x3
Dunedain Cache x3
Dunedain Signal x3
Miruvor x3
Unexpected Courage x3

Events (11):
Elven-light x3
Well Warned x3
Unlikely Friendship x3
Grim Resolve x2

Greenwood Archer
Dunedain Remedy
Heir of Mardil
Light of Valinor
Steed of the North
A Test of Will
Swift and Silent
The White Council

As you can see I basically loaded up on every hero readying effect I could get in a Leadership/Spirit deck and found that along with the Signal stuff I was left with not enough room for all of them. To address the sideboard, Dunedain Remedy and Rune-master obviously offer more Signal synergy; A Test of Will is a massive staple which I simply left out because it doesn’t fit the strict theme I was going for (a similar case could be made about the completely omitted Sneak Attack Gandalf, though equally this deck could work well with hero Gandalf given its focus on action advantage and his stats); and the rest is more readying effects. Greenwood Archer, Light of Valinor, Snowmane and Steed of the North obviously are only relevant if there are good targets for them in play; Heir of Mardil could work with Steward but Gimli and Legolas already have readying from each other; and the two events while good can be costly. They’re all decent options though. If a particular game has good targets for the readying and good hero stats so the boosts are less necessary one could easily switch in more readying instead of having so many Signals.
As to the main deck, I think it’s all pretty self-explanatory. Steward of Gondor and King Under the Mountain go on Gimli, when playing Unlikely Friendship you should pretty much always put the extra resource on Legolas. Just give extra actions to whichever heroes seem most deserving of them, and boost their stats as needed. If you find yourself stacking up superfluous resources on Gimli from Steward, this can make him a good target for a lot of the Signal attachments if in doubt, since those spare resources will let him pass them on to other heroes if need be.

Meanwhile let’s consider the ally action advantage deck. There are two heroes with abilities which particularly relate to getting action advantage in Galadriel and Leadership Faramir. Obviously they don’t perfectly synergise in that an ally who quests without exhausting due to Galadriel can’t be readied by Faramir, but then any allies from previous rounds will be fair game for Faramir and a deck focusing on ally action advantage will probably have a lot of allies to play. The other big ally action advantage card is Narya. Of course this whole setup makes it rather difficult for me to use Strength of Arms, the ultimate card for ally action advantage, which makes me wonder about a possible third deck in this whole action advantage pursuit which would be mono-Leadership and just focused on recurring Strength of Arms over and over. Of course, with my Narya hero being Gandalf I could’ve still done the Desperate Alliance + Strength of Arms trick so long as SoA was on top of my deck, but that was just too much effort for something I generally didn’t need so I ended up cutting it from the deck during testing.
So once again I focused pretty hard on the action advantage, picking allies who have some good action advantage innately, but also allies who can specifically benefit from extra actions (so mostly ones with good stats), and then some additional cards which give more potential uses for a glut of actions.

Allies Stand Ready

Faramir (Ld)

Allies (22):
Dwarven Sellsword x3
Veteran of Osgiliath x3
Northern Tracker x3
Arwen Undomiel x1
Bilbo Baggins x1
Elfhelm x1
Glorfindel x1
Hama x1
Jubayr x1
Sam Gamgee x1
Anborn (Ld) x1
Ceorl x1
Eldahir x1
Gimli x1
Halbarad x1
Treebeard x1

Attachments (15):
Steward of Gondor x3
Gandalf’s Staff x3
Wizard Pipe x3
Narya x3
Spare Hood and Cloak x3

Events (12):
A Test of Will x3
A Very Good Tale x3
Ever Vigilant x3
Hail of Stones x3

Side-quests (1):
Send for Aid x1

Knight of the White Tower
Unexpected Courage
Elrond’s Counsel
Legacy of Numenor

In this case aside from a couple more allies the sideboard is all good cards which just don’t fit the theme. The potential Doomed from Saruman and/or Legacy of Numenor obviously isn’t too risky with Galadriel available to keep dropping threat down again, and getting up to 40 threat would get the boost on the Veterans of Osgiliath, which could be handy. Otherwise it’s all standard stuff. It might seem odd to relegate Unexpected Courage and Shadowfax completely to the sideboard in a deck with hero Gandalf, but since this is intended as a multiplayer support deck, you can absolutely get away with just having Gandalf using his action for Narya.
There’s a bit more to talk about here. In general Steward of Gondor should go on Gandalf here – he can spend flexibly on cards played from top of deck, and he gets a Leadership icon with Narya anyway. In terms of using all the actions, A Very Good Tale and Hail of Stones are great for ally-heavy decks with plenty of action advantage, and Spare Hood and Cloak obviously can pass actions around – one potential play there is to put the Cloak on a newly-played ally who doesn’t need to be ready for combat so they can just pass it on since they don’t exhaust to quest, or indeed if you do want them for combat they could pass the Cloak and then be readied by Faramir. As to the list of allies, Sellswords are pretty great with Galadriel ensuring you get to use at least two of those stats even if you discard them at the end of the round; Veterans are flexible; Northern Trackers have a questing ability but combat stats; and Arwen can potentially spread her bonuses around among multiple defenders on the table with Spare Hood and Cloak shenanigans or either of the events combined with other readying. This basically just plays out as a fairly standard ally swarm, but it works very well.

I have a victory screenshot for each deck from my testing to showcase the results of a successful game with them. Heroes Stand Ready I tested against Siege of Annuminas, alongside my a couple of older decks in We’ve Got You Covered and The Wisdom of the Istari, though I realised that despite winning it was definitely a mistake not to bring any location control; while for Allies Stand Ready I went up against Storm on Cobas Haven alongside the more recent ‘Tis but a Scratch! and a Scout deck I’ve been tweaking for a while.

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