The North United

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Derived from
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Inspiration for
The North United 8 8 1 2.0
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Fantasty 1124

Fantasty has a newer deck inspired by this one: The North United

Concept

This is a (mostly) thematic deck that represents the joint efforts of the Dúnedain and brave Hobbit folk to keep the North free from evil. Both the hero and ally line-up are heavily dominated by these two traits and they go together surprisingly well. This not only makes the deck feel cohesive, but also results in a very potent combination as the Hobbits and Dúnedain perfectly play off each other's strengths.

This deck also has a secrecy aspect to it. In terms of thematics, this symbolises the strategy which I imagine the small Hobbits and ranging Dúnedain would employ to gain the upper hand over their foes. In terms of gameplay, this achieves two things:

  • It helps to keep our threat lower than our enemies' engagement costs so that we can better control how combat plays out. Additionally, this enables us to reliably use Sam Gamgee and Hobbit Cloak.
  • We can make use of Timely Aid and Resourceful to quickly and cheaply bring out many of our powerful allies. Along with A Very Good Tale and allies that can reduce their own cost, like Bill the Pony and Halbarad, we can assemble a large army in no time.

Synergy

The two main factors that glue these two archetypes together are engagement and side quests. On the engagement side of things we obviously have Sam Gamgee who can ready himself and boost his own stats. Hobbit Cloak helps turn him into a reliable defender, especially as he starts racking up a few copies of Fast Hitch. Halbarad and Robin Smallburrow (more on him later) can help to further increase enemies' engagement costs so that these effects are almost sure to trigger.

As for the side quests mechanic, it's less pronounced here but definitely useful. This deck isn't about stacking as many side quests in the victory display as possible to buff Thurindir, so we only run the 1 copy of Gather Information. For our purposes 1 completed side quest is enough, as this already buffs Thurindir to a very respectable 3 and it makes our Halfling Bounder live. Running more side quests would slow the deck down too much I think.

Strategy

So, that's enough about how Hobbits and Dúnedain effectively complement each other. What about the actual strategy of the deck? As I said before, the main aim of this deck is to quickly amass a strong collection of allies to take over the game. The most important cards in this respect are Timely Aid and A Very Good Tale.

For Timely Aid we obviously want to be in secrecy mode, but the deck starts out at 21 threat (not the 23 threat reported by RingsDB, as Folco Boffin only costs 5 here). This is however not a problem thanks to Folco Boffin. In your first turn you generally want to keep him around to quest. One of my favorite opening plays is to use his resource during the first turn for Peace, and Thought. On the next turn, when he starts out exhausted anyway, we spend his second resource on a ally, Fast Hitch or Dúnedain Pipe and then discard him.

This leaves us with a ton of cards in our hand and only 15 threat! From this point onwards the deck really starts to roll. Ideally you'll have 1-2 copies of Resourceful and/or 1-2 copies of Timely Aid. These both help play some of the more costly allies during the early game already. Once you have a few of them, you will want to start playing A Very Good Tale to extend your advantage. This card is especially strong in this deck, not only because you can easily drop high-cost allies thanks to Timely Aid, but also because there are so many allies that can lower their own cost. Bill the Pony, for example, counts as a 2-cost ally but you can play him for free!

Similarly, you can put Ranger of Cardolan into play for just 1 resource whenever you engage an enemy. While he is shuffled back into the deck at the end of the round, he will ready during the refresh phase just prior to that: the perfect opportunity to exhaust him one last time before he leaves play! The same strategy can be used when you play Gandalf from your hand. He, too, leaves play at the end of the round, but also readies just before he goes. Finally, there is Halbarad, who always counts as a 4-cost ally but can be played at a discount depending on the number of engaged enemies.

Common challenges

With the general strategy explained, it's time to consider how the deck deals with the basic challenges this game throws at you.

Combat

The deck is quite capable of handling itself in combat. First off, its low threat allows you to generally avoid the more problematic enemies until you have enough allies on the board to deal with them. In the meantime, Sam Gamgee is more than capable of defending against the weaker ones, especially once he gets a Hobbit Cloak and a few copies of Fast Hitch. There's also Rosie Cotton who can boost Sam Gamgee's stats during combat to make him even more effective.

The deck doesn't have that much , so it may take a while before you have enough allies to really start putting a dent in tougher enemies. However, we still run some allies like Ranger of Cardolan and Halbarad with solid stats all around. Not to mention there's always Sneak Attack + Gandalf if we find ourselves in an emergency situation.

Questing

Right away, this deck can quest for 7 with all its heroes combined. While not extraordinary, it is usually enough to get through the first rounds of questing. Once the allies start coming out, questing becomes ever less of a problem. Most of our allies have at least 1 , with many of them actually having 2 , so there's no shortage of that.

The only problem this deck faces is that it is quite uncommon for you to play an ally on your very first turn, and during your second turn you generally want to be playing Resourceful. If you find that you have to deal with a lot of in the staging area early on, definitely try to mulligan for Timely Aid so you can at least play that during turn 2 for a "free" ally.

Other good cards to look for in such cases are Bill the Pony and Henamarth Riversong, both of which can be played very cheaply. And as always, Sneak Attack + Gandalf can really help you out during the early game. Don't be afraid to use it if you must!

Threat

I hope that it's pretty clear that threat is hardly an issue for this deck. Our starting threat is incredibly low already, especially after Folco Boffin is discarded. Even if you happen to run into threat problems for some reason, there is still Gandalf who can lower it again for you.

When Revealed effects

While not a deck, we can actually cancel some treacheries after some setup thanks to Halfling Bounder. While it is obviously more beneficial to keep him around, some treacheries are so nasty that it may absolutely be worth it to discard him. We also run Dunedain Lookout, who may not be able to cancel treacheries, but is just as effective against enemies with similarly inconvenient effects.

Other aspects

Other factors every deck should at least take into account are card draw and resource acceleration. This deck manages to excel at both! For card draw our most important card is Peace, and Thought. This is absolutely amazing with Folco Boffin, as it allows you to get as much use out of him as possible before discarding him. But even later in the game without Folco Boffin around, you should be able to manage a turn without Thurindir (you can usually ready Sam Gamgee thanks to Fast Hitch anyway).

Other (but less reliable) card draw comes in the form of Sarn Ford Sentry, Gandalf and Dúnedain Pipe. The latter is especially useful here as it helps return allies to your deck to fuel Timely Aid and A Very Good Tale. While the deck runs quite a large amount of allies already, it is still possible for these cards to whiff. It's therefore never a bad idea to help turn the odds in your favor.

For resource acceleration we obviously have Resourceful, which helps compensate for the loss of Folco Boffin. We also have A Very Good Tale and Timely Aid which help play allies at a discount. Combined with the built-in cost reduction that some of the allies have, resources shouldn't be a problem.

What the hell is Imrahil doing here?

Now for one of my favorite gimmicks of the deck: Prince Imrahil. He may seem completely out of place here, but he's just too much fun not to include. Since Folco Boffin should be in your discard pile quite early on, it's not a problem to meet the conditions of his effect. Despite not playing any heroes, it is actually incredibly easy to get him into play thanks to Timely Aid or A Very Good Tale.

But what if you draw him, you may ask. Well, first off there is always Dúnedain Pipe to put him back in your deck. The infinitely more satisfying play, however, is to bring him out with Sneak Attack. It has been ruled that when an ally you put into play with Sneak Attack becomes a hero (through Sword-thain for example), it doesn't actually return to your hand at the end of the phase. By the same logic, Prince Imrahil will stay in play as well!

Not only is this an incredibly cheap way of putting a very capable character out on the field, it also helps with your resource acceleration. He now collects a resource each round as well, and while we don't run any other cards, he can still pay for all our neutral cards like Gandalf, Resourceful and Ranger of Cardolan. He also provides the necessary resources for Robin Smallburrow's effect, which may not be that impactful, but it's still incredibly fun.

Closing remarks

This deck is immensely fun to play, being both thematic and very strong. The varied ally line-up makes playing the deck a unique experience each time (and prevents multiple unique allies from clashing). It requires some serious decision making as well, which is always a pro for me personally. I'm not a big fan of autopilot decks and this certainly isn't one.

It's also very multiplayer friendly, containing very few popular unique cards. Other players are still completely free to play high-in-demand cards such as Light of Valinor, Steward of Gondor and many of the more often used heroes. The only problem in multiplayer is that you generally want to take your time during the first 2-3 turns to set up properly. This may be more difficult if your fellow players have a high starting threat and start engaging enemies right away.

When playing the deck, make sure to mulligan for some cards that benefit off of being in secrecy mode or some allies that can easily be played from your hand. Peace, and Thought is especially good to have in your opening hand, as it sets you up nicely for the rest of the duel. If you can combine it with Fast Hitch and/or Timely Aid you should be off to an amazing start.

So far, I have playtested the deck against the following quests and managed to beat all of them:

  • Journey Along the Anduin (Nightmare)
  • Massing At Osgiliath
  • Escape From Umbar
  • The Morgul Vale
  • Into the Pit

Other options

  • Quickbeam: while this is a thematic compromise, he does add some much-needed cheap to the deck. I chose to exclude him because of thematic reasons, but if you don't care much about that, he is definitely a solid pick.
  • Daeron's Runes: a very good choice for more consistency during the early game, and also helps getting rid of dead copies of Timely Aid, Dúnedain Pipe and Hobbit Cloak later in the game. The only problem is that it's hard to find room for it, and it hampers the effectiveness of Timely Aid and A Very Good Tale.
  • Wingfoot/Steed of the North: allows Thurindir to both quest and attack, which improves the offensive capabilities of the deck somewhat. However, given the deck's heavy focus on allies, you're probably better off playing an ally with 2 .
  • Send for Aid: if you feel the deck could benefit from a second side quest, this is probably the best one. It perfectly fits into the deck's ally-focused play-style and shouldn't be too difficult to clear.
  • Halfast Gamgee: sadly, this card is not on RingsDB yet as it hasn't been officially released at the time of this writing, but this card actually fits perfectly into the deck. He adds more synergy with side quests and playing him off of Timely Aid or A Very Good Tale gives you a free resource!

In general, the ally line-up can be freely changed to your liking. It is incredibly easy for this deck to quickly bring out allies, even if you only run 1 copy of them. Therefore, feel free to shake things up. Cards like Sarn Ford Sentry, Robin Smallburrow and Dunedain Lookout are mainly here for thematic purposes, but are by no means essential to the deck. If you care less about thematics, cards like Mablung, Quickbeam, Galadhrim Minstrel and Ghân-buri-Ghân all make decent replacements.

1 comments

Jan 23, 2018 The BGamerJoe 2949

I enjoyed playing through a few quests with this! I like the Dunedain/Hobbit pairing. I've tried to make several Dunedain/Hobbit decks before, but Folco really opens it up doesn't he? I had some good successes with the deck and featured it on my blog: lotrdecktest.wordpress.com

Thanks for posting the deck!