The Ring is Undone
These are the two decks I used to complete my thematic campaign and win Mount Doom. Because only Sam and Frodo are the only thematically appropriate characters to participate in the Mount Doom scenario, any other heroes you include are thematic concessions. I decided to include heroes who the two had met, and who could have provided a source of inspiration for them. This meant Galadriel was at the top of the list, but she proved too slow. I needed high willpower from turn 1, and I didn't want to make Nenya a mulligan-priority card, as there were other important cards to look for.
The strategy was to achieve high levels of willpower as soon as possible, spread over multiple heroes to allow flexibility, and readying effects to allow for Fortitude tests and combat.
The key cards were Rally the West, which Thurindir pulls and Arwen Undómiel pays for on turn 1, and Fellowship of the Ring. The side quest gets cleared on round 1. On round two, you can play Fellowship, and now every hero has +2 willpower (and Thurindir has +3 because a side quest is in the victory display).
Thurindir was the only really off-theme card here. It became apparent that I needed more Lore resources. I had Éowyn in there at first, and it was hard to cut her and her amazing willpower. Her once-per-game ability is also useful in clearing out an enemy. But she also is unthematic, as Frodo and Sam would not have met her. Other thematic possibilities include Pippin and Faramir, who were not great choices for what I was trying to accomplish. Treebeard would work well but his threat is high and he is not thematic for Sam and Frodo. I also wanted a Dunedain hero specifically to enable the Heirs of Earendil card (which I ended up including but not playing), and I wanted a side quest or two, so Thurindir was the perfect choice.
I had 7 resources on Mount Doom to work with. The minimum number of turns needed to complete Mount Doom is only 4 (one per stage), so I could actually stall for 3 rounds and still win. In the winning playthrough, I deliberately stalled for 2 rounds, and completed the game during round 5 (2 resources remaining on Mount Doom). Stalled on stage 1 by completing Rally the West. Stalled on round 2 by questing perfectly (cleared the Mordor Road active location exactly, with no progress placed on the quest card itself, avoiding its forced Fortitude tests). I had intended to use Scout Ahead on stage 2, but didn't draw it in time. Then I completed stage 3 in one turn (BARELY, and willpower-boosting effects were key), and stage 4 in one turn.
I tried 22 times to beat Mount Doom, but actually completed it on my first try with the decklists here. It was the third try with the side quest strategy (but the first two attempts I focused on Scout Ahead because I forgot that Rally the West existed!). These decks were assembled after I laid out the previous Eowyn version of the decks on the ground, looked at all the cards, and grouped the heroes into new decks. I needed Lore resources to stay together, so Elrond and Thurindir needed to stay together. After that, starting threat was the main concern, so I chose a configuration that kept threat as low as possible for both decks. Both had a +2 starting threat penalty from an earlier scenario in the campaign. I then distributed the Spirit cards between both decks, with most of them going into the deck with Gandalf.
Sam had the Skilled Healer boon, which I never ever regretted. Having him start with 5 hit points was really useful. The other stat-boosting boon went on Fatty Bolger! I made him a Tireless Ranger because I did not understand how the campaign was going to work. That was a colossal mistake, as I left him at Flight to the Ford and never saw that boon again.
It was a four and a half year campaign, and I enjoyed every back-breaking minute of it! This last box was insanely difficult, but I'm happy I was able to make it through with a (mostly) thematic hero lineup.