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Mr Underhill 490
A lot of decks have a hero lineup consisting of a dedicated quester, defender, and attacker. Here's a simple yet fun solo deck that takes a different approach by forgoing a primary defender and instead using two attack-oriented heroes. Rather than setting up for heavy defense, the deck relies on combat tricks to dodge enemies and/or kill things before they have a chance to attack. It also makes use of post-errata Háma, so hopefully this deck shows that he can still see some play despite his new "three times per game" limit.
Building to dodge (rather than defend) enemies is quite interesting because it allows us to completely ignore some of the usual aspects of deckbuilding, e.g. shadow cancellation or defensive buffs, and instead focus on offense. In line with this we have a number of tricks that allow us to avoid enemies and kill them on our own terms.
- Sniping with Haldir of Lórien: 27 starting threat is reasonably low, allowing Haldir to make use of his ability to apply some early chip damage or pick off weak, high engagement cost enemies. As usual, he can start killing tougher enemies once he gets a Rivendell Blade or Dagger of Westernesse. Black Arrow can allow him to nuke something big if you don't want to engage it - I've used it to kill the Southron Captain in Escape from Umbar, for example.
- Attack cancellation: 3 copies of Feint and 3 copies of Coney in a Trap (Haldir is our ranger, Hama is our warrior) are used to prevent enemy attacks. Using Hama's ability, we can potentially recur Feint a further 3 times, meaning that we can outright cancel the attacks of 9 enemies over the course of a game. Noiseless Movement also functions a bit like attack cancellation since it can keep an enemy in staging and allow Haldir to kill it from afar.
- Pre-emptive attacking: Since it's an any phase Action, Hands Upon the Bow can allow Haldir to kill enemies when they're revealed during the quest phase. Quick Strike (in the sideboard) can kill weak enemies after we engage them, before they have a chance to attack.
The best opening hand would include a 2 cost spirit ally for early questing power, a weapon for Haldir, and any card that gives draw - preferably Elven-light or Foe-hammer (if you have a weapon) so mulligan for those.
Try to avoid engaging enemies so that you can kill them with Haldir. If you do engage something, cancel its attack with Coney / Feint and then kill it with Hama and Haldir together. When you declare Hama as an attacker, you can use his ability to grab back Feint, if that's what you just played to stop the attack.
While the main idea is to use Hama to recur Feint, his ability can be used as more of a toolbox effect, depending on the board state. If you need more cards, pull back a Foe-Hammer; if you want to kill something with Haldir next turn, grab Hands Upon the Bow. Another cool trick is to use Quick Strike before an enemy makes its attack, declare Hama as the attacker, and then pull back Quick Strike or Feint to stop another enemy attack. Or you can pull back Foe Hammer and trigger it if you know that you are going to kill the enemy.
To allow Hama and Haldir to work together, the deck uses Arwen Undómiel for access to Spirit, resource acceleration and card draw with Elven-Light. We use Outlands allies (who are a bit of a crutch, but are needed here), Galadriel's Handmaiden and Wingfoot for questing power.
It's very important to find those cancellation cards and weapons, so the deck is packed with draw to keep the cards coming. Elven Light works in combination with Hama to mitigate the drawback of his ability. Haldir should get the first weapon, ideally a Rivendell Blade, but he can take a Dagger if it shows up first. Hama can take the other 2 daggers and Arwen could even take any spare Rivendell Blades.
Henamarth Riversong is a very important card here as he allows for precise planning. I've included three copies to make sure he shows up quickly, and also because he can be used as a chump blocker on the rare occasions that we do need to defend something. He also combos perfectly with Wingfoot.
The sideboard has two Warden of Healing for quests with archery damage. They can be subbed in for Mablung and Robin Smallburrow. Silvan Refugee can be included for quests with higher willpower demands. Elfhelm would also be a good inclusion as another trick that can block enemy attacks. A Test of Will should be added if you need it.
The deck is certainly risky but is quite fun because you need to play carefully. It won't beat every quest but I have made it past Journey Along the Anduin and Escape From Umbar with it during testing.
Here's a video of it against Nightmare Celebrimbor's Secret.