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So, the idea behind this deck was to replicate the feel of the nameless Dúnedain guarding The Shire. My last deck smashed the Noldor and Ent traits together (http://ringsdb.com/decklist/view/7653/the-old-powers-1-5-2.0) to represent the awakening of the trees. My search for decks to use as inspiration for this type of build -- smashing the Dúnedain and Hobbit traits together for a story-centric approach using these heroes in particular -- yielded no results. My collection isn't complete, yet, but all the same, I felt like I had the components to make it work for a solo build.
Mechanically, I wanted the deck to function as a Dúnedain deck but include some of the flexible questing power and low cost of the Hobbits.
I tried as hard as I could to keep the story in mind, and so I included as many non-unique Dúnedain allies as possible, along with some flexible cards that make the Hobbit characters a bit more hardy, namely: Rosie Cotton, Fast Hitch, and Hobbit Cloak. Sneak Attack + Gandalf is always good, and Mithrandir has plenty of impact on this non-reciprocal defense agreement between the Northern Rangers and the Shirefolk, so he stays in to help as needed.
The philosophical gymnastics that I'd have to do in order to justify Bill the Pony, Steward of Gondor, Deep Knowledge, and Heed the Dream are hardly worth typing out, so I'll concede that these cards are purely for the deck to function properly.
The optimal starting hand includes either Heir of Valandil or Steward of Gondor, with particular emphasis on Steward. Now, the thing with Steward in this deck is that there are two potential targets, which I like, seeing as it's super flexible to have that option in the early game to get rolling. Option 1: Sam -- Lots of cards in here, so that's a natural choice, especially since Heir of Valandil gives you cost reduction when Aragorn gets his toys to give him both the and icons. Option 2: Aragorn -- The deck has a tendency to pile up resources on Sam after getting set up for a couple turns, and if you think you can get enough draw out of Deep Knowledge, Heed the Dream, Sarn Ford Sentry, and Gandalf, you might consider waiting to play Steward on Aragorn, as he'll have more options for spending resources on Forest Snare, clearance-price Dúnedain allies, and hard-casting Gandalf in a pinch. Just depends on if you think you can pull off the finesse game early to avoid the obvious choice of Sam in the early game.
There aren't very many "must-have" cards in here, but the closest thing to that might be having some of the Doomed events and either Fast Hitch / Hobbit Cloak early to set up the defense and keep enemies engaged with you. Rosie Cotton is always nice to see early as well, considering she might prevent you from taking too much threat by buffing Frodo's , adjusting , or boosting Sam's when necessary.
In terms of in-game choices, you really should err on the side of cranking up your early via Doomed events and Frodo defenses / undefended attacks to use a Loragorn reset just to gain tempo. Gandalf can manage your threat level in later turns. Obviously, try to trap the first enemy you can just to ensure, at the very least, a minimum cost reduction of 1 for Heir of Valandil. I find that you can generally keep multiple enemies engaged with you even when you can't snag a Forest Snare early just because Rosie is such a boss, and Frodo saves your entire board in the early game.
While I don't think this deck is inherently one of the most powerful out there, I do think it stands a good chance against some of the more commonly played "test" quests and is a fun, general-purpose, story-inspired deck to play. Any feedback is welcome, and thanks for checking it out!