In the Shadows

Card draw simulator
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Onidsen 450

This is a thematic deck built around the side quest synergy between Dunedain and Hobbits. Thurindir fetches side quests and generally becomes a questing powerhouse, while Pippin provides card draw and Sam Gamgee offers additional willpower as well as solid defense in an emergency.

The goal of this deck is to remain beneath the engagement costs of most enemies, power-questing through side-quest and main quest alike. Where enemies have to be engaged and killed, Sam Gamgee is our dedicated defender, with multiple Fast Hitches to ready and defend against multiple attacks. Boosted by his own ability, Hobbit Cloak, DĂșnedain Warnings, and the Staff of Lebethron, he can defend for 6 easily, and that can be further boosted by Rosie Cotton.

Alternatively, Rosie can Sam's counter-attack, helping to dispatch the enemies so we don't have to deal with them for round after round.

Most of the allies provide questing support, but a few deserve specific mention. The East Road Ranger is a versatile card. Early on, it can help clear some of the side quests to power up Thurindir and other effects, while in the later game, it becomes a valuable source of attack power. The Halfling Bounder does a lot of work in this deck. As soon as you have cleared the first side quest, each of them becomes the equivalent of A Test of Will, but they provide stats and a body on the table while you wait to see if you need the effect. Halbarad is also surprisingly useful in this deck - he raises the engagement cost of each enemy engaged with us by 10, triggering Pippin more often, while also making sure that Sam Gamgee can be defending at his highest efficiency.

The key ally, however, is Thalion (currently being proxied by the Ranger of Cardolan). With even a single side quest in the victory display, he is a 2, @, 2, 3 ally with built-in readying after questing. That's incredibly useful, allowing him to get the most out of his balanced stats, and easily worth the 4 resources it takes to get him into play. But it's his second ability that seals the deal. After we clear our third side quest, he becomes a hero and starts generating resources, with the spheres of every single sidequest in the victory display. As a hero, he becomes a viable target for Legacy Blade, and his role in the deck becomes cemented.

Even more importantly, once 3 side quests are completed, he becomes a hero the moment he enters play, and so can be put into play with Sneak Attack for only 1 resource. Since he is no longer an ally once he enters play, he will not return to hand at the end of the phase.

The attachments are all obvious fare - the defensive attachments go onto Sam Gamgee, while the Legacy Blades are meant for Thalion, but can really go onto any hero who can be left ready for combat. With a Fast Hitch, Pippin can even be a decent attacker using the blade, and with two of them he becomes positively deadly. The sideboard includes The Long Defeat, which should be subbed in for the DĂșnedain Pipe in a multiplayer game, or against a quest that relies on a lot of direct damage, as it will be difficult for the Imladris Caregiver to keep up, and the added healing from The Long Defeat can be a lifesaver. In multiplayer, that card also spreads card draw around the table, helping to defray the time cost of clearing all of these side quests.

The events and sidequests are where things get a little interesting. You should generally choose Gather Information as your opening hand side quest, and use it to fetch either Prepare for Battle or Send for Aid, whichever seems like it would be most useful. Send for Aid is another way to get the expensive allies Halbarad or Thalion into play, while Prepare for Battle accelerates the card draw significantly.

The two key events for this deck are In the Shadows and Take No Notice. Both cards are free to play for this deck, and provide valuable control over engagement and combat - the ability to reduce an enemy's attack by 1 at will should not be overlooked, while the ability to raise engagement costs can mean the difference between triggering Pippin and Sam Gamgee or not doing so.

An ideal opening hand includes both Fast Hitch and Peace, and Thought - with the readying provided by the Hitch, the cost of exhausting your heroes to draw 5 cards is significantly reduced. Other than that, defense boosts are the most critical thing to see in the early game. Luckily, between Rosie Cotton, the Hobbit Cloak, and the DĂșnedain Warnings, there are a lot of options that could show up before your threat rises high enough to require engaging enemies.

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