Minimum Purchase Dale Deck

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Authraw 2430

This is a deck built from just Core Set + The Wilds of Rhovannion cards for Path Less Traveled, an ongoing series on my blog, Darkling Door.

Played Against: Journey Up the Anduin

Leading the deck

This minimum purchase Dale deck does a great job at showing off the new player cards!

The basics

As a Dale deck, the #1 most important card is King of Dale, so I mulligan away any hand that doesn't have it. If I still don't have it, I keep triggering Beravor's draw ability (if I can find any way to spare her stats) until I do find it.

If I'm lucky, I might be able to use a 1-cost Attachment like Map of Rhovanion in conjunction with Bartering or any Attachment with Traffic from Dale to afford King of Dale on round 1. Otherwise, I save my first resource on Bard so that I can be sure I'll be able to play it on round 2. Usually I'll crown Bard son of Brand as King, since he's most likely to be questing every round and therefore more likely to accumulate some extra Attachments, but it would be fine to play it on Brand son of Bain as well. Once King of Dale has entered play, though, I'm off to the races.

From there, I start playing as many Dale Allies as I can afford, equipping each one with an Attachment. I try to make ideal Ally / Attachment pairings whenever possible, but in the beginning of the game it's more important to get those cards down and doing work than it is to get them perfect the first time. If I survive to the late game, I can always use a Long Lake Trader to swap things around and make my board state more efficient.

Be careful

One of the things I have to watch for is the proper time to play Necklace of Girion. It's a resource generation card, so it's going to do me more good in the beginning of the game than the end of the game—but I'm also less likely to be able to handle another Enemy or Location from the Guarded keyword in the beginning when I'm still getting set up. Ideally, I could use Henamarth Riversong to tell me when it's safe to play down the Necklace (bonus points if the top of the deck has Surge, since the Necklace won't trigger it) but there's only one copy of Mx. Riversong in the deck so I'll usually just risk playing the Necklace at a time when the Staging Area seems pretty empty and hope for the best.

The endgame

Between Beravor, Brand, and Gléowine, this deck has a lot of card draw. So much that I usually find that I've drawn through the entire deck before the end of the game. To combat this, I included a single copy of Will of the West so I can shuffle all of those Events and Gandalfs back into my deck (along with any early chump blockers or cards lost to Treachery effects). To be honest, it's probably not necessary for me to do so—after all, once I've gone through the whole deck I probably have enough of a board state to carry me through. But at least shuffling the discard pile keeps things interesting as I close things out.

It can take a couple of rounds for things to get going, but once the Dale ship is sailing it becomes an unstoppable force!

► For more analysis, check out my blog post on this quest.


Aug 01, 2018 Beorn 5636

It's a validation of the quality of the card pool - and the lessons learned on newer archetypes - that recent minimum purchase decks are this effective.

Aug 01, 2018 Authraw 2430

It really is! The Dale archetype manages to be fun to play, powerful, and versatile (even outside of archetype decks) with so few cards! It's pretty incredible considering that there are zero Dale Heroes and Allies in the Core Set.

Aug 03, 2018 Melkata 3

Yep. This is really a terrific box, and the cards work so well together. Great job by Caleb, they really knocked it out of the park here. And I cannot wait to see the beornings!

Aug 03, 2018 MDuckworth83 1446

Wait...Guarded doesn't trigger surge? I thought anything that triggered when revealed effects triggered surge.

Aug 04, 2018 GrandSpleen 643

In what is sure to be a confusing point for new and seasoned players alike for years to come, Guarded and Guarded (x) work very differently. The original Guarded keyword causes you to reveal the next card in the encounter deck, which would trigger Surge and Doomed. Guarded (x) causes you to discard until you find the matching card type, then put it into play. It is not ‘revealed,’ so Surge and Doomed will not trigger.