(Disclaimer: Deck does not use Valour cards, it’s just a name)
This deck started from something I threw together at my first opportunity to use cards from Ghost of Framsburg and has since been developed. Honestly I think there’s a wide variety of decks which could be built on essentially the same idea as this one, but this is what I’ve come up with.
To be more precise, I built this the first opportunity I had to use cards from Ghost of Framsburg *and* Mount Gundabad. I ended up trying to see if I could put together a deck with Spirit Dain and Tactics Bilbo. Bilbo ended up not being the best fit for the rest of the deck, though, and instead the core of the deck is based around the other two heroes – Dain and Gandalf, along with a couple of crucial support cards in Wizard Pipe and Ring of Thror.
That’s what I mean when I say there’s a wide variety of decks which could be built on this idea – swap in a different third hero and change a bunch of the other contents of the deck and you can arrive at a rather different deck which still runs on the same engine. Essentially said engine is just the Ring of Thror acting as kind of Vilya-lite, but Gandalf/Wizard Pipe directly enable that engine and Dain ends up fitting in very well with it.
The basic idea of using Ring of Thror to cheat useful attachments into play (while also providing action advantage no less) is obvious enough. One particularly nice aspect of it is the ability to get some attachments into play outside the Planning phase – the most notable being attaching Path of Need to a location immediately after travelling to it, and attaching Seccret Vigils to enemies the round they enter play to get the threat reduction without needing to leave them alive for a round. But while potent, this and the combo with Gandalf/Wizard Pipe is simple and clear enough that I don’t think I need to explain it.
Where it turns out to work very well with Dain became apparent as I progressed through my first game using a deck like this and realised how I should play it. Will of the West is an obvious inclusion for a deck like this since Dain could end up discarding useful cards, but having it also means there’s no real need to worry about discarding things. So a reasonable approach can involve discarding to Dain even when it’s not really necessary for the defence, simply to dig further down the deck in search of particularly useful cards. With a certain amount of ruthless discarding you can speed through the deck the first time getting all the crucial pieces into play and then shuffle everything back in to continue.
Onto the flexibility as regards the rest – you do probably want your third hero to be someone who benefits from a certain suite of attachments, which you can then provide, though in a co-operative setting you could equally be providing attachments to other decks. Beyond that there are considerations of playstyle, which again can be multiplayer-relevant. You could use the Ring of Thror to put in Trap attachments for an encounter deck control sort of thing. You could use it for Forest Snares, Warrior Swords, etc doing a Dunedain thing. You could use it for location attachments to help out a Woodman deck – since using Will of the West allows you to recycle all those temporary attachments this works out very well. You could use it to help power up a Dale deck, as if they need any help. There are a bunch of options. One which I’m wondering about, though it’ll make the starting threat even worse, is throwing in Radagast once Fate of Wilderland is released so I can have a second Wizard Pipe. It might not work given that Radagast is focused on Creature allies while this whole deck concept is based around attachments, but I’m willing to take the time to experiment with it and find out.
As to the actual deck I built, I reasoned that a logical thing to do would be to go even further with the Dwarven mining aspect and put in Thorin Stonehelm as the third hero, firmly cementing it as a very attachment-focused combat deck.
Dain Ironfoot (Sp)
Erebor Toymaker x3
Ered Luin Miner x3
Ring of Thror x3
Gandalf’s Staff x3
Wizard Pipe x3
King Under the Mountain x3
Unexpected Courage x3
Ancient Mathom x3
Dwarf Pipe x3
Secret Vigil x3
Dwarrowdelf Axe x2
Captain of Gondor x1
Magix Ring x1
Armour of Erebor x1
Silver Lamp x1
Path of Need x1
A Test of Will x3
Will of the West x3
Hidden Cache x3
Favour of the Valar
Hauberk of Mail
Steward of Gondor
Sterner than Steel
So firstly, the excessively large sideboard. Bilbo lets you search your deck for the Pipes (the Wizard Pipe being the most important of course), Gather Information lets you search your deck for anything important you haven’t found yet, Hasty Stroke and Sterner than Steel are there for cases where shadow effects are a larger concern. The rest of the sideboard is of course additional attachments intended for various possible purposes which may be suggested by particular quests and/or particular companion decks. So we have some additional combat boosts which could be spread around the table, additional readying options including Narya for if a companion deck has some good allies, Elf-stones again for if a companion deck has good allies, and some resource generation to be spread around as well. The main things in the sideboard which could actually be used by this deck rather than played cross-table are Arod to supplement location control, Rohan Warhorses and Mighty Prowess if it’s more important to get more attacks out of Thorin than power up his attack (though of course we already have Unexpected Courage for readying), and Favour of the Valar if a quest is particularly hard on the threat dial or doesn’t have many enemies who are eligible for Secret Vigils. The various defensive attachments obviously could potentially be attached to Dain, but since he can already discard cards from the deck to boost up to 6 (7 once he has Armour of Erebor) there seems rather less point in giving him permanent boosts unless perhaps playing a quest with a big boss enemy that makes multiple attacks each round.
As to the main content of the deck, I already talked a bit further up about how one plays it – the first time through the deck, discard aggressively with the Dwarves looking for the more important attachments – these being Ring of Thror, Wizard Pipe, Gandalf’s Staff and King Under the Mountain. In a pinch you can even discard these since there are 3 copies of each, but ideally you want to get them into play as quickly as possible. Wizard Pipe/Ring of Thror is the engine of the deck, allowing you to get any other attachment into play for free while simultaneously getting action advantage out of Dain, Gandalf’s Staff is just good all-round utility, and King Under the Mountain accelerates your draw so you can find whatever else you really want in a timely fashion. Once you have those you don’t have to be as aggressive with your discards, though you can still obviously use the discard abilities to get past duplicate uniques.
With the rate at which you go through the deck it’s not unreasonable to wait until it’s completely empty before playing Will of the West, though obviously you don’t have to wait that long if you’ve discarded something you really want back. When considering WotW, you should at least think about how much use you’ve gotten out of your one-shot cards – obviously for maximum efficiency you want to use up all Ancient Mathoms, Secret Vigils, Tests of Will and Feints before reshuffling so you get as many uses as possible of each. Not essential of course, but this does mean if you’re planning on playing WotW soon anyway you can consider cancelling a treachery you might usually accept, or putting a Secret Vigil on a lower threat enemy.
Another interesting consideration is when to use your Dwarf Pipes. Since the deck has no means of reshuffling, anything you save with a Dwarf Pipe will remain at the bottom of the deck. So if it’s a case of needing to discard one of your key attachments to keep Dain alive there’s no point in using the Dwarf Pipe since you’ll find the other two copies before you find that one again. On the other hand it does make sense to save Hidden Caches since they can be triggered again, or the one-shot cards since that can tie into the WotW efficiency as mentioned above – or even if you don’t use them before reshuffling it’s still useful to draw multiples, unlike with, say, the Wizard Pipe.
The target board state has Gandalf with Pipe, Staff and Shadowfax; Thorin with Dwarrowdelf Axes and Captain of Gondor; Dain with Armour of Erebor, Ring of Thror and Silver Lamp. Distribute Unexpected Courages and Magic Ring as you see fit, King Under the Mountain on either Dwarf hero, Dwarf Pipes on both and a Toymaker.
The Toymakers can provide another means of getting attachments in cheaply – getting 3 resources on Dain isn’t that difficult with Gandalf’s Staff and Hidden Caches around. The Miners can come in very handy if you need an expendable ally to use as a chump or discard to a treachery – obviously with WotW any ally can be recycled but the Miners have the advantage of being free with Dain/Thorin/King Under the Mountain.
Ancient Mathoms can be used for yourself early on, but once established are better used for other players. Secret Vigils while best on higher threat enemies can reasonably be used on anything with non-0 threat since you’ll be recycling them anyway.
Path of Need can be used for big plays and should be held back for such in general. When a situation unexpectedly arises where you have too many enemies to easily handle normally, just use Ring of Thror after the first defence to ready Dain and put Path of Need onto the active location, then clean house with all heroes not exhausting, and take the free questing the following round as a nice bonus.
I guess the one other thing to consider is what decks this deck works well with, and the answer is basically just questing decks since this deck is largely combat-focused. Any deck which would benefit from some of the additional attachments in the sideboard (or any other attachment for that matter) can obviously ask to have them subbed in and that will likely be a fruitful partnership. Some means of handling defences early on in an emergency since this deck relies on an attachment to gain Sentinel could be useful, but mostly it shouldn’t be relevant. Alternatively just keeping threat down so all enemies will engage this deck instead can be a viable solution. Ability to share around some threat reduction may also come in handy since this deck starts at 34 threat, but it’s not required since cycling Secret Vigils can be very effective.
While testing I paired it with Galdor’s Fall against Withered Heath and Roam Across Rhovanion and that worked out pretty well: