Ye "New" Ranger Trap Deck (Peak Faramir)

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MDuckworth83 1140

This is my most recent (and by far most powerful) iteration of the Ranger Trap deck. I have been building these type of decks ever since Faramir and Ranger Spikes came out in the "Against the Shadow cycle", and am proud to say that I think they have finally made it to top tier. They do require some finesse and have a reasonably high skill curve to play, but are the most enjoyable decks in the game to play once you know how to pilot them.

HEROES

Damrod is, as usual, the man behind the curtain...not terribly sexy but providing the engine for the deck through cost reduction and dependable card draw. Faramir is the muscle, throwing the big punches, defending in a pinch, and soaking up damage with his 5 . Éowyn is the new addition to the deck and the "glue piece" that really steps it up to the next level. She provides low threat access to and covers the two biggest weaknesses of my previous trap decks....early and that one nasty enemy that always manages to slip through the traps and engage.

ENGINE

One of the nicest things about trap decks is that Damrod provides a built in hero engine at setup, consistently lowering your cost curve and drawing cards as long as you have a critical mass of traps to fuel him. The other major “engine” component that “really” makes this deck consistent is Master of the Forge. Despite one of the worst stat/cost ratios in the game, he is solid gold in any heavy deck. This deck has enough attachments, that he hits nearly every turn you use him. If you draw him early, he will quickly fill your hand with trap options and probably find that Song of Wisdom for Éowyn to grab a icon. The final engine card that is surprisingly useful early on is Proud Hunters. Since this hero set contains the Ranger and Noble traits from setup, you can usually count on this for a 2-3 resource boost, even if you have to kill an enemy that is already trapped just to trigger it. Just be sure that atleast one of the heroes is involved in the attack, as this is where you want the extra resources to go.

QUESTING

This is where this deck has most dramatically improved with a growing card pool. With the inclusion of Éowyn, the hero line up comes right out of the gate with 8 at setup. Emyn Arnen Ranger is the primary questing ally, usually able to provide 3+ for 2 cost by mid game fairly consistently. Combine this with Followed (and hopefully a complimentary Forest Snare) and you have a very potent questing package once you get some enemies trapped. If you can manage to get 2x Followed with a Forest Snare on a 3 enemy and play a couple of Emyn Arnen Rangers, not an ureasonable board state for this deck, you suddenly have 1 enemy who is doing nothing else but subtracting 6 from staging as your Emyn Arnen Rangers are triggering off of it to generate 6 , for a total of 12 net ! Mablung is also a decent early game questing ally that has the nice perk of dragging enemies out of staging during the planning phase and landing them in a Followed or Forest Snare, or even just removing their staging prior to the quest phase!

COMBAT

The beauty of RT decks is that they offer alternative ways to deal with tough enemies, and thus try to limit “conventional” combat.

  • AttackFaramir is the primary attacker of this deck, with Éowyn’s “nuclear button” on standby for an emergency. Ideally, I try to avoid using Éowyn’s attack most games because you generally want to keep your threat low. It's mostly a safeguard against an unplanned and undesirable engagement that used to be the bane of trap decks. Ithilien Pits and especially Hands Upon the Bow grant Faramir the ability to take out enemies in the staging area where he is most effective. Hands Upon the Bow especially does a lot of work in this deck because it’s generalized action window means that Faramir can use it to take down enemies revealed during staging before quest resolution, meaning not only does he destroy an enemy, but removes it’s staging as well. Ranger Spears are there really just to give Faramir’s a good boost against enemies in Ithilien Pits and with Secret Vigils attached, but they have the niche benefit of also working against enemies with encounter card attachments. Black Arrow just adds to the explosive potential of this deck, and to be perfectly honest has saved my ass countless times. It's also great for boss enemies and is a backup to Éowyn for devastating unplanned enemy engagements.

  • Defense – The defense strategy mimics the attack strategy. It focuses on providing "one of" defenses as needed rather than consistently tanking big s every turn. Ranger Spikes are typically the first line of defense ensuring that enemies don’t even make it to engagement, and if they do, they can usually be Feinted and then Forest Snared or simply dealt with the old fashioned way. For those scenarios that have a boss or another mechanic that forces you to regularly defend large s, I've sideboarded Gondorian Shields to make Faramir a solid defender with Damrod pinch hitting. Faramir’s hit points combined with Ioreth’s healing power typically makes taking s undefended a viable option as well. If all these safeguards fail, you can always chump a Master of the Forge or Guardian of Ithilien.

MISCELLANEOUS

As always, trap decks and decks in general are all about the “tool box”.

  • Traps – Most of the specifics have been discussed, but they are the central focus of the deck so it's worth talking about them in a general sense. What is important to recognize is not just a given trap’s primary effect, but all the secondary effects you are using them to trigger. One of the reasons why I love Ithilien Pit despite everybody constantly telling me to take them out of my decks, is because with Damrod, they are 0 cost card draw even if they do absolutely nothing else! The lesson is that traps are doing A LOT more than what is printed. They are 1. reducing cost curve, 2. drawing cards, 3. adding , 4. negating staging , 5. adding damage, and 6. providing resources on top of whatever happens to be their “actual printed” effects. Playing off and timing all of these effects is what makes the deck super dynamic.

  • Healing – What self respecting deck doesn’t have some healing? Ioreth has become my favorite healer in the game. She is a 0 drop, 3 heal on demand that can eat a point of archery/direct damage to boot. She keeps Faramir healed up so he can put his 5 to use with archery and undefended attacks. Healing is actually one of the defensive strategies of this deck.

  • Threat Control – The best form of threat control is a low threat hero line up. If that fails, do what this deck does best and let the enemies work for you, using Secret Vigil to reduce threat. I left 1 Gandalf in my deck because I don’t feel comfortable running without atleast one Gandalf wild card. If you get behind on threat too early, he is an option if you see him...and as well as this deck draws you have a better chance of seeing him than you might think.

  • Resource Smoothing – Yep, that’s right….2018 and I still use icon granting song cards. The deck is very heavy on cost curve and is assuming that at some point you are going to find a Song of Wisdom and put it on Éowyn. Otherwise she ends up with a mountain of unused resources. Luckily with the consistent card draw and the incredible fetching ability of Master of the Forge, I usually have no problem seeing one of my two copies by mid-game when I need them.

  • Scrying - Henamarth Riversong provides foreknowledge of the encounter deck to help match the right traps to the right enemies (on top of the incredibly powerful planning advantage in solo play of foreknowledge). Not super critical to the deck's function but nice to have and might go up to 3x if I had a third core set. 2x is perfectly fine though and usually sufficient.

Well that's about it, Faramir at his peak! Be my guest and take this deck for a spin to find out why he is the most dynamic attacker in the game!

19 comments

Jun 28, 2018 Devaresh 1161

Trap decks are definitely one of my favorites. Love the deck! Love Lore Faramir! Keep up the trapping!

Jun 28, 2018 Arkane 135

Great deck and very nice write up, i'll sure try the deck. Thanks for sharing!

Jun 30, 2018 Seastan 15101

Nice deck and writeup! Just wondered if you considered Envoy of Pelargir instead of Song of Wisdom. It lets you transfer resources from Eowyn to Faramir with the added bonus of providing a "one of" defense.

Jun 30, 2018 MDuckworth83 1140

@Devaresh Always!

@Arkane Let me know how it goes...and if you have any suggestions for improvement.

@SeastanI think Envoy of Pelargir is a better option for the early game for the reasons you mention. In regards to the long game however, the way this deck is costed very heavily in and very lightly in . By mid-game, Eowyn almost always has a pile of resources on her and I am ALWAYS happy to see that Song of Wisdom after about round 2-3.

I think it would be a different story if the cost curve actually represented close to 2/3 vs. 1/3 (as I usually try to build dual sphere decks). As it is, it's basically a mono-sphere deck that occasionally spends a resource on a event.

Jun 30, 2018 MDuckworth83 1140

Thanks guys!

@Seastan In regards to the early game, I think you are exactly correct, Envoy of Pelargir is a more efficient option for the reasons that you mention. However, the way the cost curve runs in this deck, Éowyn will almost always have a pile of resources on her by mid-game and I am always happy to see that Song of Wisdom after turn 2 or 3.

I think it would be a different story if this deck followed the 2/3, 1/3 rule on cost curve that I usually try to apply to my dual sphere decks, but in reality, this is basically a mono- deck that occasionally spends a resource on a event. In regards to the long game, I still think the song has the edge.

Jul 01, 2018 jtwilliams37 87

Looks nice, I'll sleeve it up and give it a shot! Thanks for posting.

Jul 02, 2018 SamthemanGamgee 179

Good deck, I only bought the heirs of numenor and the against the shadow cycle for the traps so I'm always excited to see a good trap deck! I do play the cycle but I mostly wanted the traps, but why no ambush? I think it's a strong trap that almost works like a feint and is able to be brought back with anborn which I'm also a little wondering why no anborn? Just curious, Either way looks strong and can't wait to try it

Jul 02, 2018 MDuckworth83 1140

@SamthemanGamgee, the lack of Anborn is purely a cost curve factor. I normally only play with him in my mono-lore trap decks, as he is expensive and the Erebor Hammersmith has a similar effect for so much cheaper.

Ambush is a decent trap, just don't really have room for it. The point of the deck is to either destroy things in staging (where Faramir's attack is strongest, or Followed/Forest Snare them. Ambush works against the decks intent a little bit.

Jul 02, 2018 SamthemanGamgee 179

@mduckworth83 thank you for clearing that up, your points make a lot of sense, but again good deck love the traps

Jul 07, 2018 Rimogard 140

Awesome looking deck! Well done! :)

Jul 12, 2018 Tiberius 1

Just played a deck with this as the basis. I have most of the cards, but not all. I threw in Ghan-buri-Ghan, and he seemed to fit in nicely. I also don't own Ioreth yet, but used 2 wardens of healing, and they were a nice substitute. I don't have Shadow and Flame yet sadly, and looks like I won't be getting anytime soon, but it still worked. Anyways, I am loving this deck! Most fun I have had playing this game for while. Thanks!

Jul 15, 2018 MDuckworth83 1140

@Tiberius Your post just made my day, thank you for that. I treat these decks like Dan Carlin does his Hardcore History podcasts...I don't put out many but when I do, I try to make sure they are super fun, actually viable against tough scenarios, and hopefully somewhat thematic.

I just recently learned how awesome Ghân-buri-Ghân can be in King's Quest, where he is a rockstar against the "Cave Deck" locations. He's a bit quest specific, being better where there are going to be a lot of high threat active locations, but definitely a much better card than I originally thought he was.

The only reason that I went with Ioreth over Warden of Healing is because this deck is usually more concerned about healing a lot of damage on one hero with a lot of hit points. In other decks with lower hit point heroes and a lot of defensive allies, I prefer Warden of Healing.

Thank you for the comment and let me know how it continues to go and if you have any other ideas for improving the build!

Jul 17, 2018 Aramis 1

Thanks for this decklist which looks very interesting and fun to play ! I would like to play this list in duo, do you recommend a particular type of deck that can be combined with this one?

Jul 18, 2018 MDuckworth83 1140

@Aramis I might try to pair it with something that contains Spirit or possibly a Lore deck focused on side quests or victory display shenanigans.

I say that because the one real weakness of this deck is no cancellation, and some scenarios force you to eat some really bad treacheries.

Off the top of my head, I think a deck focused on Dunhere would go very nice with this one because they are working together to do essentially the same thing in attacking the staging area and maintaining low threat.

Jul 18, 2018 SamthemanGamgee 179

@mduckworth83 You could always use fastred and, either bard or or dunhere.

Sep 09, 2018 SamthemanGamgee 179

Do you think Valour of the North could make it in this list?

Oct 09, 2018 The Broken Meeple 1

I used this throughout the Harad cycle. It started off great, though struggled as most decks do with Race Across Harad. But from Black Serpent onwards, it became problematic. The sheer number of enemies became too much to defend against and if a Song of Lore wasn't found early then you just didn't have the resources to get the cards out. I also found that Guardian of Ithlien to do nothing the whole cycle but be a chump blocker. Also I'd find myself in situations where I'd have the Ranger allies out, but no trapped enemy to trigger their willpower boost, which was a pain.

It was a fun deck overall, but it was quite inconsistent for me. When it worked, it worked amazingly. But if my initial draws were bad, I was on the back foot.

Oct 09, 2018 MDuckworth83 1140

@The Broken MeepleI also really struggled through those last 2 Harad quests. I was beginning to wonder if I was "ever" going to beat the last one with this deck, so your observation is valid. It's very heavy on control but you only have so many tools and quests on the extreme at throwing swarms of enemies that outnumber traps are a struggle for trap decks.

I would personally never play the Emyn Arnen Ranger unless I already had something forest snared or ranger spiked (that had higher than 1 willpower). He really isn't worth putting on the table until he can make 2 willpower reliably.

Curious, did you mulligan for master of the forge and play him as soon as possible? I say this because it wasn't intuitive to me at first, but getting him out on an early turn makes all the difference in the world on consistency (and that really goes for all trap decks!). Not only does he almost never miss and fill your hand up with an assortment of traps but he also finds your song of wisdoms quicker. Try to get him out on turn 1 as often as possible.

And lastly, I sort of share your sentiment on the Guardian of Ithilien. I was excited about this card when it came out, have played it in several decks now, and have not found a lot of use for his ability. I've found that part of the problem is that he is basically a jump blocker who bounces enemies, but you need the chump block right away and the bounce later. To use his ability, you have to hold him back from play until you have actually engaged an enemy (which is what you needed the chump block for!) I agree that he is sort of an awkward card.... but a 1 cost ranger ally is still good even just being that. It won't hurt my feelings one bit if you want to chuck him and slot in something bringing more value.

Oct 15, 2018 The Broken Meeple 1

I dread to think what will happen if Harad gets the Nightmare treatment. As if Dreamchaser wasn't already made nearly impossible with theirs!

Point taken on the Emyn Arnen Ranger - I did have a habit of "prepping" them in advance.

If I saw the Master of the Forge, yes I got him out as soon as possible. I've even had times with 2 of them out, he's insane. Of course this was dependent on seeing him in an opening 1-2 turns. But yeah either him or a starting good hand was the main way I ever saw a Song.

I also found myself reluctant to use Éowyn for her super kill as the extra 3 threat was almost a crux I didn't want to deal with. I could never set up those Secret Vigil effectively to get any more than 1-2 threat and that was a rarity in itself.

Yeah the Guardian of Ithilien was useless for me. Is it optional to use his ability or mandatory? He was basically just a cheap chump blocker.

Harad cycle now done, the deck is retired anyway (I usually try to use one deck for a cycle and then try a new type for another. Rhovannian has a Dale deck going, but I need to revisit both Numenor and that "Dunedain" cycle which I "skipped" but have all the cards for. Thinking I'll do the Dunedain one next with a focused combat Dunedain deck and some saga quests with a Hobbit Secrecy deck.

Always good fun though - pains me I have no hardcore LOTR LCG players near me in UK like everyone in the US.