Losing Count

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Merry Gets Hitched 19 14 0 1.0
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Some Sort 2367

Keeping Count is a card that rarely comes out of binders. You need two copies out before it even does anything. In a 50-card deck with three copies, you'll need to draw 25 cards-- half your deck-- before you even get a 50/50 shot at seeing two copies.

Even if you do get two copies, in order to work you need to have a character who is able to kill a lot of enemies without its help (to start piling up the tokens). But if you have that character, then you don't really need Keeping Count.

And even if you get Keeping Count set up and rolling, the problem is the more you use it the weaker it becomes. Your primary killer might get four or five tokens, giving an attack boost to your secondary attacker. Your secondary attacker then starts taking advantage of that boost to kill some more enemies, but every enemy he or she kills reduces the attack boost by another point.

If you work at it, you can kind of make Keeping Count sort of work, but for the most part it's a fun and flavorful card that is just really weak and hard to make any use of.

The one potential exception I've found to this is Tactics Merry. Tactics Merry is cool because he attacks often (thanks to Fast Hitch), and he rarely attacks alone. You can put one copy on his preferred partner immediately and start piling up tokens for a couple rounds. Then you put a second copy on Merry himself. Every time those characters attack together, they both get a token on Keeping Count, so the relative differential remains unchanged. You've essentially locked in your attack bonus for the rest of the game.

The best lineup for this is your infamous Scorpagorn / TacMerry / Lore Pippin trio, simply because they chew through so many enemies at once, (and also because it draws a lot of cards thanks to Pippin). A couple years ago I made that exact deck using the trio and Keeping Count for a reliable attack bost.

Bartering is a fun card that really makes me want to revisit the deck, though, because Bartering offers something really new and cool to the archetype. It offers the ability to reset the token count on Keeping Count at will! This is amazingly handy.

And since I'm already running Bartering, I might as well take advantage of the other fun trick with it: combining it with a record attachment to play Sword-thain at a deep discount. This deck can play a Book of Eldacar for 2 resources, then pop it back to drop a free Sword-thain. (If the Sword-thain goes on Robin Smallburrow, Merry even gets another +1 attack in the process.)

Is Sword-thain doing anything for you in this deck? Nah, not really. I mean, it gets you an extra resource per round, but it costs two resources up front, so it takes three more rounds until you're in the black, (and given that it'll take a couple rounds to set up the combo, the quest will likely be well in hand or already lost by that point). Other than Merry/Robin, there's not really anything that takes advantage of adding hero status to any of the characters in the deck.

So why is it in here? Because it's cool. Yes, the deck is better if you devote that deck space to something else, but I think in a deck built around Keeping Count it's pretty much understood that some of the choices are going to be sub-optimal.

Getting silly attack totals is a worthy goal in and of itself, but once you have them you might as well do something. Enter Grappling Hook, which lets Merry quest for double digits all by himself when you're ready to smash through a quest phase, then ready in time to add some more tokens to Keeping Count again.

2 comments

Oct 26, 2018 CDavis7M 143

I like this deck a lot. What a fun idea. Have you play tested much? I wonder how many tokens you can hoard. Getting the 3rd copy out would be fun too.

Oct 27, 2018 Some Sort 2367

@CDavis7M I haven’t played this one much (just the obligatory 3 test quests). I played the original deck a good deal, though, and I was able to pretty reliably stack tokens. I’d get a +3-5 bonus before slapping down my second copy and locking it in. As long as your two count-keepers attack together, the bonus never changes... but the high stack keeps growing.

Bartering lets you take that original basic combo and then reset the low stack at any time, turning your locked-in +3 bonus into a locked-in +7 bonus or better. If you’re trying specifically to build a token stack it’s generally pretty doable to get into double digits, especially when playing with larger player counts. (It’s not optimal, because you never really need a +12 attack bonus, but it makes Grappling Hook pretty fun if nothing else.)