Doom of Estel: Hope of the Dúnedain

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Devaresh 1007

“Aragorn, Arathorn’s son, Lord of the Dúnedain, listen to me! A great doom awaits you, either to rise above the height of all your fathers since the days of Elendil, or to fall into darkness with all that is left of your kin. Many years of trial lie before you. You shall neither have wife , nor bind any woman to you in troth, until your time comes and you are found worthy of it.”

Elrond, Appendix A, Here Follows a Part of the Tale of Aragorn and Arwen

After his father died Aragorn was raised in Rivendell as Elrond’s own son from the age of 2, and was given the name Estel. This deck depicts Elrond giving Aragorn the shards of Narsil, and the ring of Barahir and revealing his true lineage and name when he reached manhood. A few days after Aragorn met Arwen and fell in love with her. Shortly after Elrond told Aragorn of his fate; that Aragorn would go out into the world as leader of his people to begin his work against the enemy, and until it was completed he would not be able to act upon his love.

This is my favorite Dúnedain deck I have played.

Evolution of this Deck

I couldn’t find any decks with this particular hero line up, and also none with an alternate version of Aragorn which were Dúnedain centered, so I thought it might beneficial to know how I got here.

I wanted to build a Dúnedain deck but I was hoping to make one which was perhaps more balanced against the weaknesses of the archetype. For Example:

  • Over-reliance on enemy engagement. There is a tendency with the archetype to be forced to bite off more then it can chew because it’s necessary to maintain resource matches, generation, etc. This also can push toward including traps and other devices which can water down your deck as a whole. I wanted a deck that thrived on engagement, but was not tied to it.

  • Shadow effects. With so much combat and so many enemies, bad shadows will happen and take things to an unwinable situation quickly!

  • Low questing start. Because it can be so engagement focused it the first few rounds of questing can be really tough with either low heroes or inability to commit them to the quest.

This hero lineup mitigates much of the weaknesses and inflexibility of the Dúnedain archetype. Arwen Undómiel provides resource generation/smoothing, and card draw with Elven-light, and access to Heirs of Earendil and Tale of Tinúviel. Elrond gives us access to ever resource sphere for our allies, an incredible boost to healing, and those stats! NO Vilya here! I considered it but I found I didn’t need it and didn’t want to include the cards to make it worthwhile.

Turn 1 you can play A Burning Brand. You can play down a Guardian of Arnor, or a Ranger of Cardolan. This is all without any enemy engagement at all! With the resource smoothing and generation of this deck it’s ok if you don’t draw your Heir of Valandil. That being said if you do, oh man does this deck take off!

Shadow effects are taken care of through A Burning Brand and Armored Destrier. A nice trick is to cancel a shadow with Armored Destrier for an attack you can take undefended to free up a block when needed.

This deck is built more for combat but it can throw in 8 from the start and still have Aragorn ready to block thanks to his ability. That’s not to bad at all! Mid to late game you will be putting in some serious quest numbers as well thanks to Sword that was Broken.

How does it play?

This is the most fun I’ve had playing the Dúnedain archetype, and has become my favorite deck of its kind.

This deck is a hold the line, and then turn the corner style deck. Hold the enemies down, build up, until you are ready to blow through them. With high starting threat you will be engaging from the start so you need to think very carefully early game to make sure you aren’t overwhelmed.

In your opening hand you want to see Elven-light so that you can be drawing cards, but also so that you don’t have to chuck pieces you need for that extra resource! Also good is Dúnedain Pipe, which is a card which becomes ridiculous in this deck! I can actually say you will probably see every card in the deck with the combination of just these two cards or there’s a good chance you have already won. Once all three Dúnedain Pipe are going you can be trading 3 cards in a round for something else from your deck!

Also good in your opening hand are Guardian of Arnor, A Burning Brand, and Ring of Barahir. Heirs of Earendil provides some fantastic location control, and Tale of Tinúviel can be used to provide a variety of effects.

Draw aggressively until you have at least one brand, a destrier, and some healing on the board. That means Sneak Attack Gandalf, Dúnedain Pipe every round, and Elven-light every round. Most every cost is covered by the other two heroes which means Arwen Undómiel uses her resource almost always for Elven-light.

  • Attachments: A Burning Brand goes on Elrond, along with Light of Valinor and most everything else goes on Aragorn. Aragorn can have up to 8 hit points with shadow cancellation and multiple readying effects if you manage it.

  • Allies: The Ally selection is flexible but I have included what I have found to be a balance of “good-all-the-time” and “fantastic-with-lots-of-enemies-engaged”. The only 4 cost Dúnedain included are Ranger of Cardolan because He is neutral so I can pay for him in one turn, and because of his pseudo sneak attack ability, and Vigilant Dúnadan for his always 3 and otherwise flexible stat spread. If there is a side quest he only gets better.

  • Managing Threat: This deck has a high starting threat but Elrond and Aragorn are two beefy defenders. The only threat management included is Gandalf so use that carefully, particularly with your sneak attacks. I have not found a need for more than that. For quests which push your threat high then use Elrond's Counsel from the side board.

I like this deck because it revolves around difficult decisions and pacing. What cards do I need immediately and what can I do without so I can get that extra resource, what can I trade in for something potentially better? I always feel like I’m pushing forward, and very seldom have a sense that I’m turtling.

Summary

This is a very capable deck which focuses on combat but can also pump out some solid questing. It can play solo very well, but also shines in multiplayer with a healthy dose of sentinel allies, and some ranged support as well. It can quest enough in the early game, and put out some huge numbers in the late game. It is flexible, and will be able to handle a wide variety of quests, even those which disapprove/punish staying engaged with enemies. Overall it feels surprisingly thematic, as the Dúnedain work to hold back the shadow long enough to secure the overall victory.

Ive played it through quite a few quests at this point. Most recently I have used this deck to beat the Black Serpent, and Escape from Umbar.

Give it a try and let me know what you think!

1 comments

Apr 17, 2018 The BGamerJoe 1099

I got to play several games with your deck and I featured it on my blog: lotrdecktest.wordpress.com

I really like the Aragorn/Noldor synergy you got going here!