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|Bard and Eagles - Mono Tactics||0||0||0||1.0|
The Mormegil 532
Hello fellow players,
here is the deck that I've been rocking last weekend in the Lure of Middle-Earth event(which is a fantastic event in Germany if you are intereseted) event in Stahleck. It is fairly easy to play and straight-forward but nevertheless simply speaking very strong. It is designed for playing with at least two players, but I found that the deck increased its value with the number of players you add while still being pretty great in a two-player game.
The deck was incredibely valuable all weekend and pulled its weight in as good as every game I played it in. Although there are of course the other players/decks to credit as well, in three or four player fellowships the deck had some credit in winning what are considered to be some of the hardest quests in the game, e.g. Nightmare Escape from Dol Guldur, Siege of Annuminas Epic Multiplayer Mode(although the deck was a bit broken up due to another player playing Beregond), A Storm on Cobas Haven, Nighmare Journey Along the Anduin and of course the one and only Battle of Carn Durm. The deck performed well in the aforementioned quests without exceptions and was a key component on handling enemies during the games.
The general strategy is largely based on one principal: Being efficient and powerful when dealing with enemies while still having fun playing and getting some sweet combos off. The deck is generally not very complicated and prett straight-forward. The heroes each have a clear and simple role and the player cards largely support your heroes and your goal of handling enemies, preventing their attacks and ultimately kiling them. It gets stronger with the more players you add but is also strong in a two-player game. If you want to play it solo, you need to make significant changes not only to your player card choices but also to your hero lineup. You generally want your pals engaging the enemies since you can only trigger Bard during ranged attacks and your main defender has sentinel. All the events (and Grimbold) that directly prevent enemies from attacking can also be played on enemies which are not engaged with you so there is simply no point on taking on them yourself. The only exception is of course the (hopefully) fairly strong enemy that you want to kill with Eowyn once per game. So much for the general strategy, I will now plunge into a deeper analysis of the individual player cards for those of you who are interested in such a thing.
Strategy - Heroes
First of all, this deck uses three of the strongest and most reliable tactics heroes in the game. Yes there are a lot of attachments and synergizing events in the deck, but even if you cannot get them out (which is unlikely), you can reliable quest for four from turn one, defend an enemy with a relatively high attack value and attack anywhere on the board (except for your engaged enemies) for effectively five attack.
Beregond is the strongest and most efficient defender in the game period. His defense of 4 is still (after several years) unrivaled and unbeaten, but furthermore, he is also pretty key for this particular deck as he allows you to put out many of your attachments for free. So while Eowyn and Bard are in my opinion the best choices for the other two hero slots but not irreplaceable, Beregond certainly is.
Eowyn seems to be a somewhat odd choice at first in a deck that has the main goal of killing stuff. But she as well is in my opinion simply the most efficient hero for the deck. Her questing power of four is unarguably amazing (especially since questing is not very prominent in the rest of the deck), her starting threat of six is great since the dagger can be triggered more easily to its full effect and her point and click ability to kill a strong enemy (or battle-quest extremely hard) can be (and proved to be) a lifesaver in many games. There are still alternatives like Mablung or Merry, but the problem with them is that they kind of counter Bards ability with their ability round per round, while Eowyn only does it once in the game. So she has certainly the second most irraplaceable slot in your hero line-up after Berregond since I simply found her consistent willpower boosting and her insane attacking power of ten once in the gema invaluable.
Alternatives for Bard (although I think he is an amazing hero and one of the most undervalued heroes in the game in terms of how often you see him being played) are of course the other two tactics heroes with ranged, Legolas and Brand son of Bain. Brand son of Bain is a decent hero (a fact which is still not universally accepted but simply speaking the truth), but lacks IMO the raw attacking power of a character like Legolas or Bard, one of which has a tailormade attachment for himself while the other one has a built-in attacking boost. So Legolas is probably in most cases the better alternative than Brand. But I think he still doesn't come close to the brutal efficiency that is Bard the Bowman. Sure, two progress per round is nothing to sneeze at, but that doesn't really help in terms of what the deck wants in terms of a strong attacking hero. The amazing thing about Bard is that he has a built-in bonus that you first of all have from turn one, but that more importantly does not use up a restricted slot. So with the Rohan Warhorse (which I found to be a clutch card in the deck all weekend) using up at least one restricted slot, you can only attach one additional restricted attachment to your attacker. That leaves your Legolas capped as basically a character with an attacking strength of five, while Bard has an attack cap of seven with the warhorse, his ability and a weapon like Dagger of Westernesse. There are also two other, more practical but still important, arguments for Bard and against Legolas. You can a) play the Legolas ally, who is a fantastic attacker and a great (in tactics rare) way of drawing cards reliably and b) be certain to have a low chance of having the same hero as another player since Bard is not played very often and Legolas is (also due to his new version) in a lot (and I mean A LOT) of decks. Overall speaking, Bard is in my opinion the most efficient, the most reliable and the most potent hero for the postion of an attacker in this deck.
Strategy - Allies
First of all, this is not a deck that relies heavily on its allies. It doesn't need a lot of allies and since most of the the combat will idealy happen across the board nearly all allies without ranged or sentinel would be a waste in the deck. So let's just go over the ones which made it into
Grimbold is one of my favourite allies in the game and one of the MVPs of the deck. His ability is a incredibly valuable panic button which you can trigger on demand. This,paired with a very decent willpower, is more than enough to justify his place in the deck. And although the cost of three is relatively steep, he is actually quite affordable in a deck that runs many low-cost attachments (especially with Beregond) and a lot of cheap events. He was a consistent help during the weekend and I wouldn't even think about putting him out of the deck.
Vassal of the Windlord is probably the definition of efficiency. His three attack, his ranged keyword and his ability to serve as a chump-blocker are all amazing. Paired with his cost of one, he is probably pound for pound one of the most effective allies in the game. He is in nearly all of my tactic decks and also makes the cut comfortably in this one.
Westfold Outrider seems again like an odd choice. But he was another MVP that proved invaluable during some of the harder quests. For one, having at least a few chumpblockers in your deck is never a bad thing. But he is much more than only (as my GOT pals would call it) claimsoak, his ability can be crucial (especially often after staging but before quest resolution) to help questing and to manage the threat in the staging area. One quest (I think it was the first Dreamchaser quest) was only winable due to him, since we got this stupid card twice in turn twice during the game (so four times total) and had to make a big quest push. He was able to drag out the high-threat ships and so we were able to powerquest to the end. So he might seem mediocre on paper, but his flexibility and my practical experience in the game really justify his existence in the deck.
Let's take a look at the hard hitters. Legolas and Déorwine are both great inclusions due to their respective stats and keywords. Legolas is consitent card-draw, which this deck otherwise lacks, and is just an overall very solid attacker. Déorwine isn't as clutch but still a great addition as a one-of.
Strategy - Attachments
Attachments are key. Attachments are key. ATTACHMENTS ARE KEY! I don't think I really need to justify the inclusion of staples like Gondorian Shields or Black Arrow. But the other ones also really pull their weight. Raven-winged Helm and Spear of the Citadel are both fantastic bargains to play for free on Beregond, but neither one of them is necessary enough to justify three copies. Dagger of Westerness is a tricky one; even though you don't start have a very low starting threat, they are still solid even if you cannot get their full benefit and generally the best option for a weapon to attach to Bard. Rivendell Blade is also very solid for Legolas ally or any other Noldor or Silvan hero that is played on the table (e.g. Haldir, Elladan or even Legolas hero). Lastly, Rohan Warhorse is simply fantastic. It allows you to kill with Bard more often and more consistent. While you normally only want one Warhorse on him (exceptions are of course e.g. situations where you already have more than enough raw attacking power but are swarmed with enemies), the immense strenght and efficiency of the first one you can put out is in my opinion more than enough to pay for the deckspace and justify the three copies.
Strategy - Events
The events in the deck are also crucial. They can generally be devided into two categories: Attack-prevention events and Beregond-protection events. The purpose of the attack-prevention events (Behind Strong Walls, Feint, Hands Upon the Bow, Quick Strike and Thicket of Spears) is simple: Preventing enemies from attacking and trying to kill them as early as possible. They are straight-forward but powerful and enable you to take on more enemies across the board. Oh and: Hands Upon the Bow works with Bard; Bard the BOWman should work with the card Hands Upon the BOW.
The events of the other category (Behind Strong Walls, Gondorian Discipline and Sterner than Steel) are in the deck for protecting our Gondorian defender. Even though they are not as flexible as the other events and rather situational, their purpose of protecting Beregond is crucial since a dead Beregond will decrease the strenght of the deck dramatically. So do not dismiss or even chuck them but keep them for the right situation.
The last card which doesn't belong to the aforementioned categories is Foe-Hammer. Its inclusion should be self-explanetory as drawing three cards is always a good thing.
Let's start with the allies: Adding Gandalf or Derndingle Warrior are both great and solid choices, I personally run Gandalf in games where Legolas is being used by another player. Déorwine is as described a very good ally in the deck, but I think he is in the deck as it stands (unlike e.g. Legolas or Gondorian Shield) not worth taking the risk of having dead copies of him in hand. I still think he is amazing and generally speaking a great inclusion, so I put him into the sideboard. The argument of adding him gets dramatically stronger when you don't play Legolas ally as well.
The attachments include Raiment of War if you decide to run Déorwine over Legolas. I also love the Raiment on Beregond (especially if you have a healer somewhere across the board) since you can play it for free. I would in most cases prefer the Shield since it only uses up one restricted slot, but the Raiment is (on top of being great on Déorwine) a solid alternative for Beregond. Secret Vigil is in the sideboard for quests that are either long or have a large amount of threat-adding effects. I was a few times in higher threat regions during the weekend and Secret Vigil (or Gandalf for that matter) is a solid option of avoiding that 50 threat limit. Spear of the Citadel is something you have to decide for yourself. I generally do not think that three copies are needed, but it is undoubtedly a great card for Beregond and the deck in general.
As I already said, you generall want your partners to engage enemies since you want to trigger Bard of course. Here are few card/deck suggestions that work great with the deck.
Most importantly, your partner(s) need to bring questing and/or location control to the table since your deck majorly underperforms in those aspects. Noldor is e.g. a deck that I found to be a great partnerdeck since it can control locations with the Evening Star and can quest hard with heroes like Círdan, Arwen and/or Elrond.
Some cards to work good with the deck are really obvious. Hasty Stroke to cancel shadow effects is often great in addition to Sterner than Steel, healing of any form is often helpful in keeping Beregond alive and resource tranferring like Errand-Rider or leadership Denethor can help you get out more expensive cards like Legolas more quickly. A rockstar with the deck is Armoured Destrier which was and is (when attached to Beregond) an amazing card for Beregond and also provides built-in shadow cancelation.
So if you are still reading your way through that rather long analysis: WOW, respect! I hope you find the same amount of fun and success that I found (and are still finding) with the deck. I wish you a great day and happy questing.