A little while back I was discussing thematically odd options for a campaign, like bringing a Harad deck to Journey to the Crossroads, or Na’asiyah to Siege of Gondor, and it occurred to me that we now have a three hero lineup all of whom would be traditionally considered the enemies of the free peoples of Middle Earth – Kahliel as one of the Haradrim, Na’asiyah as a Corsair, and Grima working for Saruman and Isengard. So having had that thought I just had to try and put a deck together.
Since there are no cards for the Corsair trait other than Na’asiyah and Isengard is also pretty sparse, this mostly ends up as a Harad deck. But I feel like this is a decent hero lineup for a Harad deck in any case – the Harad trait is based primarily around a set of powerful but expensive unique allies, so the cost reduction provided by Grima, and extra resources from the Keys of Orthanc, feed very nicely into getting the deck up and running faster. Meanwhile even with that boost it may still take some time to draw and play the powerful allies, and Na’asiyah can cover combat needs in the meantime, using her resources to boost attack or defence as needed since she has little or nothing in the way of cards to spend them on. This was a happy coincidence since I decided to build this deck purely on the basis of the thematic idea, but I’m glad it also turned out to be pretty effective.
This is also my first attempt at building a Harad deck, so that was interesting. On the other hand I’ve seen other people’s takes on it so I wasn’t going in completely blind. If I were just going purely for the Harad thing this probably isn’t what I’d end up with, as the thematic idea meant I wanted to fit in a couple of Isengard allies and I was for the most part specifically avoiding cards tied to the more normal factions of the game, with a few exceptions – Gandalf apart from being really useful struck me as a character who would be willing to help redeem people shunned by most societies, The White Council likewise, Steward of Gondor is kind of essential since Kahliel’s paying for all the expensive allies, and Warden of Healing is too difficult to pass up for a lot of quests. If you want to get super-focused on the theme of these characters being outcasts though, the deck should still function OK without those cards apart from Steward and possibly the Wardens depending on what quest you’re playing.
Kahliel’s Tribesman x3
Southron Refugee x3
Gandalf (Core) x3
Isengard Messenger x3
Steward of Orthanc x3
Warden of Healing x2
Steward of Gondor x3
Kahliel’s Headdress x3
Keys of Orthanc x3
Sneak Attack x3
Daeron’s Runes x3
Deep Knowledge x3
Peace, and Thought x3
The White Council x3
Envoy of Pelargir
We Are Not Idle
Send for Aid
Prepare for Battle
So, brief notes on the sideboard – Envoy of Pelargir is mostly just cheap and useful, with the additional option that you could pay for her with Grima’s resources and then use her ability to add one to Kahliel. Secret Vigil is for if threat is more of a concern, though usually Gandalf should be enough. We Are Not Idle for more draw, Feint obviously is a staple, but given how good a defender Jubayr I and Na’asiyah can be it may well not be needed, hence sideboard rather than main deck. The side-quests could all potentially come in handy but also none of them are particularly necessary, they’re just additional options.
As far as the main deck goes, first let’s cover the basics – resource generation and card draw. This deck is very good at both, with Steward, Grima’s cost reduction (which can enable round 1 Steward), Keys of Orthanc and Southron Refugee’s cost reduction for resources; and Daeron’s Runes, Deep Knowledge, Peace and Thought, Steward of Orthanc (with 15 events to trigger on) and potentially Gandalf for card draw. The unique Harad allies are powerful and expensive, but this deck is well equipped to get them into play in a pretty timely fashion. The high amounts of draw also serve to fuel Kahliel’s readying ability, which is always worth bearing in mind – sometimes it can be worth holding off on playing an ally so you can instead use it to ready a different ally later in the round (you can shuffle it back into the deck with the Headdress anyway). Peace and Thought is an idea I totally stole from Seastan, but it’s a very effective one – since the chances of you not having a Harad ally in hand after Peace and Thought are incredibly low, you should be able to ready Kahliel again and only have lost one hero action, in exchange for which you got a load of cards which will be very useful in the long run.
The deck can build up pretty creditable amounts of willpower, particularly from all the Harad characters boosted by Kahliel’s Headdress, but also obviously helped by the 2 from each Steward of Orthanc and generally 2-3 each from Isengard Messengers (assuming using Grima every round, and sometimes a Deep Knowledge or Steward of Orthanc). For combat you can deal with most things with Jubayr, Yazan and Na’asiyah, and the allies can provide further assistance as needed (Kahliel’s Tribesman is a great one for this, because if you don’t need the combat stats he could still add willpower after staging and if you do he can either add defence or attack). Remember Kahliel’s ability can be used to ready the allies, as well as himself. Gandalf can be used for card draw if you’re short of cards early on, but in general he should be used for threat reduction so you can offset all the Doomed you’re inflicting on yourself.
In general I think the deck is pretty self-explanatory, with The White Council being perhaps the one potential head-scratcher. I’ve found it to work very well though. The ability to add a resource or draw a card I would only use in an emergency, but the other two abilities can be very useful with the way this deck works. Readying a hero is obviously in line with how the deck functions since it already makes use of Kahliel’s ability to ready himself, and this event potentially allows some readying for Na’asiyah as well, or an ability to ready Kahliel without a Harad ally in hand. On the other hand, with the amount of draw the deck has, shuffling a card from the discard back into the deck gives you pretty good chances of seeing it again. You can shuffle back a non-Harad ally who got themself killed or discarded, a card draw event to continue going through everything as efficiently as possible, or my general preference would be a Sneak Attack for more Gandalf.
There are certainly some other cards which could be considered for this deck or one like it. The Haradrim Spear is the one Harad card I left out, because I found it superfluous, but for quests with big boss enemies it could be more worthwhile. Tighten Our Belts I tried in earlier versions of the deck but again found it superfluous – the deck has enough resources and taking a round without playing anything is tough since you almost certainly can afford something. If I had more focus on the readying aspect of The White Council and less the reshuffling then Cram would work. A Good Harvest or The Storm Comes could make it easier to get out the allies, both by letting Grima pay for all the Harad allies and also letting Kahliel pay for the Wardens of Healing and the Isengard Messengers. Or Errand-riders could serve a similar purpose and also potentially help Na’asiyah boost herself further. I’m sure there are even more possibilities, but you get the idea.
I’ve been enjoying this deck quite a bit so I’ve tested it a few times, but to round it off since it was part of where the whole idea came from I decided to take it up against Pelennor Fields. Mustering enough defence and attack to deal with Nazgul and Mumakil was a problem, but I just managed to squeak out a victory with 39 damage on Minas Tirith.