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|Stealing The Initiative||12||5||9||1.0|
Some Sort 1148
This is an update to my original Stealing the Initiative deck (http://ringsdb.com/decklist/view/718/stealing-the-initiative-1.0), swapping Sam Gamgee out for the new Denethor hero.
The two greatest challenges confronting two-hero decks are the gimped economy and the loss of an action. Resourceful and Timely Aid are far and away the most powerful cards in the entire pool for the archetype precisely because they solve both of those issues. The only problem? You need to draw them early, (while you're still in secrecy), for them to matter.
To achieve that goal, how about we stack up gobs and gobs of card draw. Daeron's Runes and Deep Knowledge are beloved, heavily-used events that let you see two extra cards for zero cost. Typically Deep Knowledge is a major no-no in a secrecy deck, but two-hero secrecy decks can start with threat so low that they can include it without a problem.
The great thing about card draw is the more of it you have, the more effective it becomes, as each piece of card draw becomes more likely to get you yet another piece of card draw, continuing the cycle. If only there was another 0-cost, draw-2 card in the pool. Enter Taking Initiative!
Taking Initiative is a bad card. (You can read my review for all of the many reasons why it fails.) But if you contort yourself enough, you can actually make it usable; other than the nine zero-cost draw events, every card in this deck has a printed cost of 2 or more. That should give Taking Initiative a naive hit-rate of just under 84%, at which point it becomes amazing. Those three cards together will frequently chain until you're seeing 17 cards in your first planning phase.
The problem most frequently encountered with the Sam/Pippin version of the deck was that Sam only had one resource to use. I often wound up with extra Resourcefuls or Timely Aids in my opening planning phase that I just couldn't afford to play. Enter Denethor, who is for my money the single biggest boost to the 2-hero meta.
Not only does he allow you to play Steward of Gondor in the first turn, cranking your acceleration to eleven (without any thematic inconsistency, to boot!), but his three starting resources means you can play up to four combined copies of Resourceful/Timely Aid, too. That's massive.
With a little bit less of the Hobbit synergy, I feel better about swapping out Pippin for Galdor of the Havens. Starting at 17 threat means we can only play one Deep Knowledge while remaining in Secrecy, so we reduce it to a 2-of instead of a 3-of (increasing Taking Initiative's hit-rate in the process), but the controlled mulligan will increase our chances of hitting on 3+ Resourcefuls or Timely Aids in turn one, and Galdor is a little bit sturdier than Pippin, (especially since swapping out Sam also means passing on Bill the Pony).
In your opening hand, keep any Resourcefuls, Timely Aids, Taking Initiatives, and Daeron's Runes. In addition, keep one copy of Steward and Deep Knowledge. Discard anything else to Galdor to maximize the explosiveness of your first planning phase.
Between the huge amounts of draw, the three Resourcefuls, and the Steward, this deck often finds itself generating more resources than all but the wealthiest 3-hero decks as early as round 2. This makes it easy to pay for those expensive allies outright in later turns. Also, if paired with another deck that includes a Gondor hero, Denethor can easily share some of the accumulated wealth.