Deckbuilding Challenge: Three Hunters Pelennor

It has been a long time since I tackled a deckbuilding challenge, but that will now be rectified. I’ve actually had a couple of deckbuilding challenges in mind since some time last year but failed to get round to actually doing them, but now I’m at least getting to this one.
(As usual, if you have other deckbuilding challenges you would like to suggest for me, feel free to do so)

Now, as recently noted, The Battle of the Pelennor Fields is the pinnacle of the saga campaign in my opinion. The one obvious flaw it has from some perspectives is that the when revealed on the stage 2 quest card can be very punishing if your deck is short on allies, since it could end up discarding a lot of stuff you would have liked to play. And of course with more recent releases the contract Forth, the Three Hunters! has made no-ally decks thoroughly viable in general, but you have to imagine they’d be a terrible choice for this quest.
So naturally I’m going to beat the quest using a FTTH deck. When I arrive on stage 2 after the initial two Planning phases, I will be forced to discard my entire remaining deck. That’s the most obvious problem, but there are other considerations to be, well, considered. Playing solo means I shouldn’t get overwhelmed by too many enemies at once, but on the other hand the Witch-king can throw extra enemies at you on stage 3 and attack you extra times on stage 5 and after travelling to Grond. So I have to make sure I have sufficient defence and action advantage for that. I also have to make sure I have the requisite willpower to get through the quest before Minas Tirith is destroyed, and without neglecting combat. Because of the particular approach I have in mind, threat is also going to be a bit of a problem for me.

I’m going to drop in the video now, so if you want you can watch and see how I did it before I explain my deckbuilding choices. Or if not you can skip over it and watch after the explanation.

OK, as I said at the start of the video which you may or may not have just watched, the obvious way to do this would be to run 3x Will of the West and reshuffle the deck after it’s discarded. But that would be too easy for my liking. So Leadership/Tactics/Lore, I want as much card draw as possible to get as much out of those first two Planning phases while I still have cards I can play. And then I need to deal with the exacting questing and combat demands of this quest with only four heroes (including Fellowship Aragorn) at my disposal. Honestly the hero lineup came very naturally to me – Leadership Denethor for extra starting resources to set up fast, Tactics Boromir for action advantage, and Beravor to draw more (without the forced discard of Erestor). And then the other thing which immediately sprang to mind for me for even more draw was Pillars of the Kings – which also allows me to use other bits of Valour synergy, including Open the Armoury, which is obviously great for FTTH. And handily my starting threat is 29, so I definitely get the full draw 4 from Pillars of the Kings. On the downside it means that as mentioned, threat becomes a problem. Thankfully because of the Assault keyword I will not raise my threat for questing unsuccessfully on stage 3, but there is one Doomed card in the encounter deck and even without that I’m setting a sharp time limit on myself.

The Deck

Contract:
Forth, the Three Hunters!

Heroes:
Denethor (Ld)
Boromir (Ta)
Beravor

Attachments (29):
Favour of the Valar x3
Ranger Spear x3
Celebrian’s Stone x3
Armoured Destrier x3
Shining Shield x3
Valiant Sword x3
Gondorian Shield x3
War Axe x3
Dagger of Westernesse x3
Golden Belt x2

Events (21):
Pillars of the Kings x3
We Are Not Idle x3
Daeron’s Runes x3
Deep Knowledge x3
Heed the Dream x3
Drinking Song x3
Open the Armoury x3

Thoughts: So my selection of events is entirely geared towards quickly finding all the cards I really need to make this work by drawing, searching and reshuffling.
So which cards do I need to find to make this work? Well primarily I need to flip the contract for the extra willpower and so I can heal off any damage I take (most likely from Archery). I need some threat reduction so I don’t threat out before I can win. And then some of the attachments I need are specific.
Most importantly, in order to deal with the swarming nature of the enemies, extra attacks from the Witch-king, and just the attack value of the Witch-king, Denethor needs a Gondorian Shield, a Shining Shield, and an Armoured Destrier so he can defend twice for 7. If possible, a Golden Belt and a second Destrier could make things even safer, but I’d rather prioritise a Golden Belt on Boromir to get more attack power. Either Boromir or Aragorn can take either Shield to become a backup defender, but more likely Boromir since he has the relevant action advantage to defend and attack in the same round, and with a War Axe a Shield will also increase his attack. Beravor takes whatever attachments are available just to boost her willpower, while Aragorn definitely needs preferably Celebrian’s Stone but failing that a Dagger of Westernesse, since this Fellowship Aragorn can quest without exhausting if he has an Artifact attached. So the full setup I’m aiming for is:

Aragorn – Celebrian’s Stone/Dagger of Westernesse + other weapon(s).
Denethor – Both Shields + Armoured Destrier.
Boromir – War Axe + other weapons + possibly a Shield + preferably a Golden Belt.
Beravor – Any 2 weapons.

With Denethor’s specific kit being the most crucial. That’s quite a few things which it’s important for me to get within two Planning phases, and on top of that I also need to make sure I have some threat reduction, which could be Favour of the Valar or an additional copy of Pillars of the Kings (because it sets your threat to 40 regardless if that means going up or down). The cost of either is insignificant because after those first two rounds I should have nothing else to spend resources on. For an extra bit of help, killing a War Mumak gives the player a threat reduction of 4, and this deck is quite capable of killing a Mumak if one should turn up.

And that about sums it up. I still really enjoy doing deckbuilding challenges, and it was a lot of fun doing this one and finding that it was very much possible. I imagine there are other ways it could be done, especially if I didn’t specifically disallow myself from the obvious approach of using Will of the West, but I’m very satisfied with what I came up with.

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