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Ecthelion III 134
A leaner, meaner version of my earlier "Speed Outlands" deck. It has the same idea—get as many of the basic Outlands allies as possible on the table as fast as possible—but without the fluff. The result: an ally-churning machine of pure efficiency.
The hard data: With a sample size of 22 quests, this deck pumps out an average of 4.6 Outlands allies on the first turn (5 being the most common number). By turn 2, there’s an average of 6.9 Outlands allies, and by turn 3, 9.6 Outlands allies—more than half the deck. In four of the quests tested (The Seventh Level, The Siege of Cair Andros, Voyage Across Belegaer, and The Steward’s Fear), every ally in the deck was on the table by turn 5.
How does it do this? The deck is composed of the following:
- 16 outlands allies, one each of every ally with the printed Outlands trait with no duplicate uniques.
- 28 free cards that either generate resources, draw cards, or muster allies
- 6 cheap cards that either generate resources (Steward of Gondor) or draw cards (Heed the Dream)
And that’s everything. Because it’s all so cheap and Erestor is drawing you so many cards, you can generally play your entire hand each round minus any Doomed cards you deem unnecessary. The goal is to not let any Outlands allies slip through into the discard pile by not drawing unless Hirluin the Fair has at least 2 resources in his pool. If they do, Men of the West can pull them back at a later turn.
Piloting the deck is simple. Steward of Gondor is essential; mulligan for it. Once it’s on Hirluin, he can generate 4 resources per turn (counting the one from Denethor since Steward bestows the Gondor trait), supplemented by any income from Wealth of Gondor or Gaining Strength or Legacy of Númenor if necessary. A Very Good Tale is another card that’s good to see in the opening hand, as it really speeds up the deck’s progress. A first-turn Legacy of Númenor is also a very strong play.
The Doomed penalty from Deep Knowledge and Legacy of Númenor is essentially meaningless in solo (unless the encounter deck is focused on raising your threat) because this deck completes quests so quickly. Use them to your heart’s content as long as you’re not making any enemies around the table.
Haste has its costs, and the deck’s biggest weakness is its lack of substance. Once you’ve gone through your deck and the allies are on the table, that’s it. Your characters are at the mercy of archery damage, nasty shadow effects, nastier treacheries, and the like. It functions best in multiplayer alongside another deck that takes a while to set up, allowing them to take several turns to get things fully operational while you’re throwing out 4/4/4 allies to survive in the meantime. (Just make sure they’re packing threat reduction if you plan to liberally use your Doomed cards).
Finally, enjoy the deck, and make sure to play allies so fast you’re not stopping to question why you’re still playing Outlands decks at this point in the game’s lifetime! :)