When I repurposed Deck Spring Cleaning to focus on updating old decks, I intended to use that for other decks I’d posted on the blog as well as deck ideas I’d had before starting it. Apart from anything else it’s potentially useful to me to have additional reminders and incentives to update my decks. I never got around to doing it though, until recently someone on Facebook mentioned it as something they’d specifically like to see blogs do (specifically mentioning one of my decks). So let’s actually do this thing. Since updating decks doesn’t require as much effort as building them in the first place I’m going to do them in batches.
A couple of notes before we begin: My deckbuilding process, which also applies to deck editing/updating, is to just kind of throw things in, cut down and then test to see how well it works in practice because sometimes I’ve overreached on things, and it’s relevant to bear that in mind as I go about updating these decks. And also, the focus of this is on updating these decks with newer cards that specifically fit into them, but you may spot some older and newer cards sneaking into the sideboards which I don’t actually mention – largely because they’re potentially useful (a recurring example is location control cards to be subbed in for multiplayer) but not specifically to do with the theme of the deck.
First up, the first deck post I ever did on this blog: Hasten the Ents.
Now, on the one hand Ents haven’t been expanded on that much since I initially built this deck, so there shouldn’t be too much to change. But on the other hand, I initially built this deck when Land of Shadow was still pretty new, and updated it once previously after Battle of Carn Dum. We’ve had a lot of cards since then.
Obvious cards first: Leaflock and The Dam Bursts. Neither is hugely significant to my mind, Leaflock provides willpower but nothing else, and while The Dam Bursts could theoretically lead to some big plays, by the time I have a lot of allies I probably don’t need it, and before then I can probably manage with the smaller-scale Boomed and Trumpeted instead. Worthy of consideration though.
Now, are there any other cards, not specifically related to Ents, that would fit well in this deck? Well, Heed the Dream is always a decent option though more conventional card draw would probably make more sense. Vigilant Guard and Ioreth could theoretically be used but they don’t seem like the best choices for this context (VG is expensive and could only go on Derndingle Warriors, Ioreth focuses healing where this deck generally prefers to spread it around and keep everyone on 1 damage).
I could at least sideboard some more side-quests. Wait No Longer could be good. Steed of the North could work but probably wouldn’t make the cut, my heroes don’t attack enough for Proud Hunters.
Hauberks of Mail for Derndingle Warriors could be nice. Man the Walls could actually be a very good fit for this deck since Ents already don’t quest the round they enter play for obvious reasons.
To fit in any new cards, old ones must be cut. So what’s most expendable?
Sneak Attack/Gandalf is great, but not core to the deck so I might prefer to just stick to the consistent Ent theme. Gondorian Shield is early-game backup, not sure how necessary it is. Daeron’s Runes should be 3 copies, don’t know what I was thinking. Unique Ents other than Treebeard could be reduced to x1. Dunedain Hunters aren’t Ents but do help a lot to enable the deck. Feint is not as indispensible as it used to be.
Next up, The Charge of Harrowdale. The main addition to the Dunhere/staging area attack archetype is Fastred, but I’m obviously not changing my hero lineup. So again I don’t know if there’s much I’ll want to change here, but again its been quite a while (the deck currently includes nothing more recent than Escape from Mount Gram).
Windfola I guess, just for the cheap willpower. Dunedain Pathfinders likewise if locations aren’t a concern. I’m always a bit of a fan of Magic Ring, and this deck should be able to handle the threat raise for using it.
Long Lake Fisherman and Grey Cloak could both fit in nicely, helping the draw and being a backup “don’t engage me” thing – given a character to exhaust for it, Grey Cloak is potentially just a cheaper Light in the Dark. South Away! could work in combination with another deck using location attachments, but I don’t have room for them in this deck.
Looking at the deck as it currently is, Quick Strike is good but has always been tough to use as Gandalf’s ability is generally reserved for getting Dunhere’s attachments into play. Expert Treasure-hunter is an obvious cut for that reason. Elfhelm makes sense but is expensive. Gandalf’s Staff should probably be x3. Arwen could easily be x1 (or cut given the likelihood of the hero being in play). Good Meal is potentially debatable, as is Dwarven Tomb. I could think about tweaking the number of copies of Bilbo/Wizard Pipe.
Next on the list is my old Caldara deck, but that was obviously invalidated by the Caldara errata, so there’s no point in updating it unless I want to specifically ignore things. Honestly, if I were to play Caldara again at this point, I’d probably go for my favourite version of her, which is pre-errata, no Sword-thain, no ally Imrahil.
On the other hand, The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stargazer and the Miners from Moria is next, and that’s a good place to scratch my old-Caldara itch. There’s more I could potentially do with this one as the basic concept is pretty flexible. This is a case where I could actually consider changing the hero lineup – shortly after I originally built it I wondered about the possibility of putting in Cirdan instead of Eowyn, and now Spirit Dain could be a good option as well. On the other hand this deck has actually been updated more recently than the others, with cards as recent as The Mumakil, but another update may still be worthwhile.
OK, so actually looking at cards released since The Mumkil, not much is jumping out at me. An interesting idea would be to dedicate a Stand and Fight deck to Beorning allies given the Skin-changer, but that would be a bit of a different deck to this one. While the whole concept could be applied to almost any set of allies, I’ve focused more on big powerful allies, often unique. Given that, maybe The Arkenstone would be a decent inclusion. Meneldor maybe? Skin-changer or no, the Giant Bear could be a decent inclusion. Soldier of Erebor, while costly, could fit this deck reasonably. And, that seems to be it. The core of the deck doesn’t really need any changes, so it’s just a matter of additional allies that could fit in.
As far as how to tweak, the first thing which I’m looking at is the question of Dwarf Pipe – on the one hand, it’d make a fair bit of sense to make it x3, on the other I can also potentially manage without it. I can honestly question the inclusion of Nenya, and while I haven’t played the deck for a while, I’m now wondering how important it actually is for me to have the Mirror/Harp combo. Beyond those possibilities, it’s just a matter of swapping allies in and out looking for the ideal mix. And of course other options can be kept in the sideboard to be subbed in as applicable (this includes the above-mentioned potential hero substitutions – Dain if combat’s going to be more of a concern, Cirdan if Eowyn’s in use in someone else’s deck).
In the end I think a big aspect of working with this deck at this point is going to be realising its flexibility and therefore subbing allies in and out to make it more a questing deck, more a combat deck, or a healthy balance of the two.
I think I’ll make the next post one covering some of the cases of multiple decks that I posted together, which means for this post I’m skipping over The Ring of Fire Sails to Gondor and Wisdom and Spirit of the Istari.
With that in mind, next up is Dwarves and Eagles and Bears, Oh My! One of my older decks, and last updated to include cards up to Land of Shadow. Also we’ve had some specific Beorning related cards released recently so there definitely should be something I can do with this.
In this instance I’m going to reverse my sequence and look first at the deck as it stands, because several things jump out at me. Firstly, Bard the Bowman has never been an integral part of the deck, so it’s certainly possible I could sub in a different hero. Secondly, the initial focus of the deck was on buffing up Dori to take all of Beorn’s damage repeatedly, but that’s because when I first built it there were far fewer options to keep Beorn around. Now there are, I could possibly reduce the focus on that aspect (which in turn would mean I wouldn’t need so many Ents to make Ent Draught consistent). Not thinking of removing Dori, just shifting the focus a little. Thirdly, allies Boromir and Legolas are good but speculative x1s can be easily trimmed with more compelling options being available. Oh and, I don’t know how necessary Gandalf really is.
So, new options. First, hero selection. The reason I initially put Bard in here was because his ability made him effectively 5 attack at Ranged so he could kill other players’ enemies while Beorn killed the ones in front of him. But while it would be more resource intensive, a very similar role could be filled while also sparing Beorn’s defences by Grimbeorn the Old.
Last Stand is potentially great with Beorn, and Heed the Dream could be useful. Raiment of War is good on Grimbeorn if I put him in. Entangling Nets debuff enemies for Beorn to better defend. Vigilant Guard can also siphon damage away from Beorn though it’s on the expensive side, Ioreth is a good additional bit of healing for Dori and others, Houses of Healing is another potential means of reviving Beorn.
The Storm Comes could come in handy though obviously I have the means to manage without it. Keep Watch is kind of OP in general, but it’s especially great with Beorn. Fierce Defence could find a home here as I already try to make use of one Valour event.
Beorn’s Rage, of course.
Given some of the significant attachments maybe I should think about Masters of the Forge?
The Valour of Numenor is an interesting one to consider as it has to accommodate not just new cards but also the Boromir errata. On top of that this was my first attempt at building a Valour deck, and even now after some more Valour cards have been released some might debate to what extent you can build a dedicated Valour deck versus just build a deck that uses some Valour cards. Currently has no cards more recent than Dread Realm.
Sterner than Steel could be a handy option to have.
Captain’s Wisdom for more resources on Boromir. Armoured Destriers can definitely help with defences and shadows.
Wait No Longer. Proud Hunters could be another additional source of resources. The Red Arrow has a Valour Response which I could theoretically make use of though it’s not as obvious a choice. Defenders of Cair Andros I really like in Valour. Knight of Dale is good though expensive if I want more attack; it’d be hard to justify omitting Fierce Defence if I’m really going for Valour as my main thing; Open the Armoury seems a natural choice but actually wouldn’t hit that consistently unless I change up my attachments. Magic Ring I like and it fits here.
Hauberk of Mail fits in great. Outmatched could be a very good fit. Man the Walls could work since this is a combat focused deck which doesn’t quest, Warrior Sword would be a good choice of Weapon if I want one, and Swift and Strong would also fit in there. Round Shield could be put in as another defensive option.
Ways to adjust the deck as it stands – with additional play experience I felt that the Dunedain Signals should just be in the main deck rather than sideboard. Rangers of Cardolan were typically an unnecessary additional emergency button. Veterans of Osgiliath and Path of Need suffered from being more expensive. If I’m getting more defensive options in from newer cards then some of the old ones may be less necessary now. Dunedain Hunters may be more debatable now, since switching on Amarthiul early is all very well, but they’re perhaps less significant to the eventual board-state. Rohan Warhorses might not be so necessary and it might be better to have weapons instead. I can consider the amount of card draw, and also the number of copies of the threat reduction options.
Looking at it, I think I have to more clearly define what the deck is about. Valour can do different things, and in this case the focus is more on the heroes than any allies I could potentially have, so adjust accordingly.
Finally for this post, the deck the facebook poster was actually specifically interested in seeing an update for was The Forest Devours, so let’s take a look at it. Obviously we haven’t had anything that really adds to the victory display playstyle since the Angmar Awakened cycle, so this will primarily be a question as to if there are any useful substitutions to be made to help Beorn or Treebeard. Currently contains cards up to Treachery of Rhudaur.
It’s entirely out of the scope of this deck, but I just want to observe in passing that getting Nor Am I A Stranger and Golden Shield onto Rossiel could be neat. Get your victory display set up and consistently defend for 8. But anyway.
Heed the Dream is always possible. Entangling Nets are again good with Beorn but he’s less the focus here. Battle-fury can be nice with Treebeard if someone can provide the Spirit resource as well, since damaging him boosts willpower *and* attack. Ioreth goes well with Treebeard, and he’s the one I expect to be taking the most damage.
Keep Watch again. Magic Ring is handy neutral readying. If I could find it consistently I might have less need for Good Harvest/Unexpected Courage.
Beorn’s Rage is the big candidate, though Woodmen’s Clearing could also be an alternative to Secret Vigil in some contexts (especially solo). Leather Boots are another potential source of readying without needing Spirit access.
From the deck as it stands – Elven Mail should really be in the sideboard. I’ve mentioned the possibility of subbing out Good Harvest/Unexpected Courage if other readying is available, which could include Boomed and Trumpeted for Treebeard. Quickbeam isn’t that significant. I suppose Burning Brand isn’t essential, though it’s nice to have. Horn’s Cry could be replaced by Beorn’s Rage, removing the need for me to flirt with Valour.
Here I think it’ll end up that I can come up with a solo version of the deck and then sideboarding things will be expected for multiplayer. Note that in the end I only managed to cut this one down to 53 cards rather than a flat 50. Testing it again may lead to the last few cuts.
With all of these decks I’ve ended up with interesting possibilities which need me to test them out in their new forms before I can decide finally if I want to revert some of them. This post is already pretty long though, so I’m going to cut the process in half. This is the first half, and I’ll do a follow-up post covering my process of testing the updated decks (and tweaking them again if some of the changes don’t work as intended). Look forward to that, and I trust you found this interesting.