Gaffer Ever After

Questlogs using this decklist
Mount Gundabad - 2 Player - 2019-04-07
Beneath the Sands - 0 Enemy Attacks
The Black Serpent - 3 Enemy Attacks
Race Across Harad - 3 Enemy Attacks
The Mûmakil - 5 Enemy Attacks
The Long Arm of Mordor - 1 Enemy Attack
Escape from Umbar - 1 Enemy Attack
The Wastes of Eriador - Nightmare - 2 Enemy Attacks
Desert Corssing - 2 Enemy Attacks
The Withered Heath - 2 Players - 2019-04-07
The Withered Heath - 2 Players - 2019-04-07
A Shadow of the Past - 1 Player - 2019-09-21
Fellowships using this decklist
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Seastan 22658


Gaffer Gamgee is insane. If you've got low threat and enough resources to keep playing him every turn, you can cancel an attack every round. In solo, this means that enemies simply never attack you. In multiplayer, this means you can ignore the biggest enemy on the table every round (provided you engage him yourself).

This deck feels busted. The Gaffer has catapulted Hobbits straight into a top-tier archetype. At the same time, it's very tricksy, and the attack cancellation playstyle feels more true to the Hobbit theme than, say, having Sam and Rosie tank a Mumak. But I'm a bit nervous that the deck is too good at circumventing a major aspect of the game. Regardless, let's get on to the deck strategy.


Mulligan for Steward of Gondor and/or Resourceful. Either card will let you start generating 2 resources per turn. Then, once you draw into either the Gaffer himself or Raise the Shire, you're set to play Gaffer again and again every turn after. We're talking about a 2-card combo where each card has effectively 6 copies in the deck, so it's incredibly easy to set up. Even more so due to Drinking Song and the fact that the combo pieces are played on the table and do not have to be in your hand at the same time.

An early-game turn might look something like this: Exhaust Steward, gain 2, play Gaffer. Quest with Sam Gamgee, Pippin, and Gaffer for 6. Engage an enemy, draw a card with Pippin, ready Sam and boost his stats. Cancel the attack with Gaffer. Kill the enemy with Sam (2) + Merry (3) + Dagger of Westernesse (2). Repeat.

Spend the rest of the game cancelling attacks while you keep your threat low with The Shirefolk and Gandalf and build up your board of allies.

The occasional turn where you get surprised with a second forced engagement or an enemy with very low threat can be handled with Feint and Sneak Attack-Gandalf. You could sneak in the Gaffer to use him twice in one round, but I prefer to save the sneaks for Gandalf.

The card draw here is just nuts with Pippin grabbing you an extra card every turn and the absurdly good Drinking Song.

The deck does have one weakness: "Immune to player card effects." This is not the deck to take up against Smaug or his kin. But if you are trying some quest where the immune enemy only shows up for a brief period, you may find that Sneak-Gandalf is enough to deal with those defenses. For example, the deck had no trouble dealing with the Mumak in The Mumakil quest. Alternatively, you may decide to swap out Feint for Hobbit Cloak so that Sam and Rosie can do their tanking business for a few turns.

Finer Details

For those that like the nitty-gritty details: If I open with Resourceful+Steward, I like to put Resourceful on Sam then Steward on Pippin turn 2. Then I'll put the second and third Resourceful on Pippin. Extra lore resources can always be used for readying Warden of Healing and paying full price for Gandalf.

The Fast Hitch play order is typically Merry first, so he can quest, then Rosie Cotton second (if she's out) so she can use her ability in both the quest phase and combat phase. Then Sam would be the next target so he can act as an emergency defender and still be able to attack.

For the Dagger of Westernesse, it's not super clear to me what the optimal target order is despite playing this deck many times now. I normally put dagger #1 on Merry, so he can have boosted attack for low-engagement enemies that don't ready Sam. But the nice thing about having daggers on Sam is that when he and Merry attack together, Merry readies Sam, who can attack again, getting double use out of the dagger. So normally the second dagger goes on Sam, and the third goes on Merry again. But feel free to experiment and see what works best for you.

A good partner deck for this one is probably something that can handle its own enemy per round, and provide a solution for big, immune bosses. I played the deck alongside one of Bullroarer Took's Beregond decks and we handled Mount Gundabad's Dagnir with ease. But any Beregond or Beregond deck should work. Perhaps one of these. In a multiplayer setting I also like to swap out Henamarth Riversong for Errand-rider to share excess resources with other players.

Play Report

At this point, the decklist has been well-refined with many playthroughs.

It blazed through the Harad Cycle without any trouble. The highlight was Beneath the Sands, where no enemy made an attack the whole game.

I then took it against Nightmare Wastes of Eriador, just to see how far it could go. It suffered a couple quick losses before winning on the third attempt, in which the wargs made grand total of 2 attacks.


Apr 09, 2019 Roka 880

Awesome deck, as usual. I was also worried that Gaffer is to good. Especially if you consider that you can play him with Halbarad in basically every deck. One other weakness I see (which prevents that deck from breaking to many quests) are quests with very low engagement bosses, like those ones:

Apr 09, 2019 Seastan 22658

@RokaThanks! Low engagement bosses are like immune enemies in that the can't be blocked by Gaffer. But they are generally only around for a few turns and can be handled during those rounds with Feint/Gandalf/chump blocking.

Apr 09, 2019 wehehe 774

So many unique characters, this deck could use The Arkenstone, which is great with Rosie Cotton !

Apr 09, 2019 Marcelf 795

Nice deck! No Firyal with all these Lore resources?

Apr 09, 2019 Seastan 22658

@wehehe``@MarcelfBoth great suggestions! Guarded attachments are quite playable here due to how well the deck handles enemies, and the presence of Henamarth.

The Gaffer uses up a ton of the lore resources so it still might take you a while to play Firyal. But you could probably adjust your strategy a bit and avoid engagement for a few rounds in order to play her.

Apr 09, 2019 doomguard 85

nice, but depends on steward. would be nice to have a nearly equal effective version without steward. perhaps Errand-Rider can help. then it could work without steward (and unlucky starthand without recourcfull), in the 1. round. later in the game the rider can chumpblock or take 2 archery or support a partner. henemarth is only for solo, right? else i would not see him as much important.

Apr 09, 2019 Seastan 22658

@doomguardI consider Steward on Pippin to be thematic since he pledges service to Denethor. But is you mean that it prevents others form using it in a multiplayer setting, it's true. But Steward isn't as hotly contested as it used to be, as we have plenty of alternative forms of resource acceleration in the card pool now.

Henamarth is primarily for solo, yes. In multiplayer I swap it out for Errand-rider (I'll add this to the description).

Apr 10, 2019 doomguard 85

in solo perhaps its worth to think about a swordthain. if used on a hobbit merry gets +1 and pippins effect is improved.

Apr 10, 2019 sappidus 592

This deck is the real deal. (Shocking for a @Seastan creation, I know…) Did a huge amount of work as half of my team through a long slog against Withered Heath, locking down some of the big non-unique boys of the quest (despite never seeing a Feint), as well as chipping in its share of attack against the Cold-drake. The synergy between Gaffer, Shirefolk, and Raise the Shire is sweet indeed, and Drinking Song as extra mulligans is of course excellent.

Apr 10, 2019 Seastan 22658

@sappidusThanks! Feel free to tag this deck in a quest log ;)

Apr 11, 2019 bdavis96 81

I didn't realize that Mount Gundabad was out yet until reading this post and seeing how you created a totally awesome Hobbit deck. I am not seeing anyone use this deck against at least the first Saga expansion, which is what I want to try once I get this deck made.

Apr 11, 2019 bdavis96 81

Speaking of Saga, would you replace Daeron's Runes with Frodo's Intuition in Solo play? +1 willpower per hero and 4 cards for 2 resources vs 1 card for 0 resources.

Apr 11, 2019 Seastan 22658

@bdavis96Never drop Daeron's Runes! If you want to add Frodo's Intuition it's better to go to a 53 card deck than to replace the Runes.

Apr 14, 2019 pd187540 10

errata for the Gaff will be on its way.

Apr 14, 2019 pd187540 10

I don't think they thought ahead much when they created Gaffer's combat action. In order to avoid spamming gaff every round, it would have been better if it said to discard him instead of putting it back in your hand. The Great Gaffe by FFG!

Apr 19, 2019 Schrodingers Hat 32

I doubt it will be errata’d. You could already do this with a Gamling/Grimbold combo and no-one complained about that. This one is one resource cheaper (not that much of an issue with Steward) but the Rohan version works on any character rather than being dependent on threat.

The only real difference is that Seastan made a deck from this one so the combo gets more attention.

I honestly don’t get the angst about powerful combos. It’s a cooperative game, if a combo seems overpowered, don’t use it. Like most super combos, I’ll probably use this once or twice, say “Huh. Cool” and then forget about it unless I feel the urge to absolutely smash a quest.

Apr 20, 2019 Seastan 22658

@Schrodingers HatYou are talking about a 3 card combo: Steward+Gamling+Grimbold. This is just a 2 card combo. The difference is significant. There are a great many 3-card combos that trivialize the game, but they are balanced by the fact that they are hard to pull off. If you can reliably get Steward+Gamling+Grimbold into play turn 1 or 2, with a hero lineup that is good at questing and attacking, then you have something comparable to this. But I have seen no such list.

Apr 20, 2019 doomguard 85

i think its o.k. its more expensive then a feint and the enemy had to have higher engagement cost than your thread. with hama and some books you can easily have a feint every round and no one complains about that. 2 res evry round is expensive. and for 1 res more you can get the forrest snare and the enemy cannot attack until the end of the game.

Apr 20, 2019 Schrodingers Hat 32

@Seastan well, with TEowyn, STheoden and Theodred you only need the two cards (Gamling and Grimbold) to be able to do it every turn from turn 2 onwards, you actually don’t need Steward (though it will work better with it). With the crazy draw setups I’ve seen you create, I’m pretty sure you could build a deck that could do that effectively to “break” the encounter deck.

But that wasn’t really my point. I just personally don’t think that this is a huge problem.

I get that this makes Hobbits super strong if you choose to use it, but as you say there are other combos which trivialise parts of the game if you set them up.

I dunno, maybe it’s just me, but I don’t have a problem with there being super powerful combos in a cooperative/solo game. If you like these kind of combos you’ll use it, if you don’t you won’t. I don’t really see why it needs an errata, especially given that it is only this effective in solo.

Apr 22, 2019 Seastan 22658

@Schrodingers HatThe lineup you described doesn't have lore, so it's actually pretty tricky to get some "crazy draw setup" to put that combo together quickly. And you're still stuck without much attacking power to kill the enemy that Grimbold is blocking. Being able to kill the enemy right away is very important, because you can only block 1 attack per round. With this hobbit lineup all you need is a single 1-cost dagger to be swinging for 7.

As for whether or not super strong cards deserve errata: I think it's a complex subject. I'm not actually calling for a Gaffer errata (yet). More time is needed. But it's not as simple as "don't like it, don't play it". In some cases, even if you aren't using a strong card, future scenarios may be designed under the assumption that you are. Northern Tracker and Asfaloth are good examples. If the developers feel the need to put "immune to player card effects" onto every big enemy going forward in order to shut down people exploiting Gaffer, it will have a negative effect on everybody. Not saying it will happen, but you get the idea.

Apr 22, 2019 Schrodingers Hat 32

@Seastan yeah I guess that’s a good point. The game being changed by the designers building for certain cards (like the cost curve of cards being warped by Steward of Gondor) is a factor I didn’t really think about. And I guess the fact that Gaffer Gamgee can go into any deck with Lore makes it more likely that it will affect quest design in the future.

Apr 22, 2019 Goggen 106

Not arguing against the awesomeness of the gaffer, but an eternal Grimbold-combo shouldn't be that hard to pull off quickly and consistently.

No does make it more difficult, but Gúthwinë can be an alternate to Gamling (and can again be fetched by Open the Armory). There is also Mustering the Rohirrim. Together they should make for some consistency.

With Eowyns ability covering the early-game, and Grimbold having the added perk of working against all enemies (including bosses with threat set to ensure automatic engage) it could make for an interesting alternative.

Apr 27, 2019 Seastan 22658

@GoggenI had forgotten about Gúthwinë. That would definitely make the Grimbold strategy more viable, since it's searchable with Open the Armory and also boosts your attack.

Then you could also consider using Gríma+Keys of Orthanc in addition to Steward for more reliable setup. Then it's still a three card combo, but a much easier one to put together: Grimbold + (Steward or Keys) + (Guthwine or Armory).

Jul 21, 2019 Haydenfisher3422 1

@Seastani can not get passed dul guldur... Any tips with this deck?

Jul 21, 2019 doomguard 85

because u can only play one ally per round, it is not very improving to play that ally to cancel an attack. u need to improve your questing- and fightingpower. because of that it is better to improve sam to defend. than u can play 1 hobbit each round and improve your questingpower slowly.

i would change the deck, either sam+2 tactiks (merry and toby) or sam +pippin+folko. if sam is the prisioner, start new. than add hobbit cloak and dunedans warning to give sam the defensepower to replace a repeated gaffer.

Jul 23, 2019 Seastan 22658

@Haydenfisher3422 Dol Guldur's 1 ally/round is a hard counter to this deck, not to mention the effect that the captive hero has on any trisphere deck.

My suggestion would be to either try an entirely different solo deck, like a modern mono-spirit deck, or two entirely different decks in two-handed play.

Sep 10, 2019 TASagent 1

@Seastan it should have been obvious beforehand, but I discovered last night there is some real hilarious synergy between Rosie Cotton here, and Nenya (which my coop ally was running). Thanks for the great deck, this one was a blast to play with.

Sep 10, 2019 doomguard 85

@TASagent why do u think that? u can use rosies ability only once per phase, i cannot see, what narya can do, what a fast hitch would not do? or where the "hilarious" synergy is? +1 att and def on rosie does not help really, and her ability only goes to hobbitheroes meanwhile narya can only be used on allies. plz explain :)

Sep 10, 2019 TASagent 1

@doomguard, It looks like you're thinking of the wrong card. Nenya is the unique ring you can only put on Galadriel, a 4-willpower hero. Nenya allows Galadriel to add her willpower to another character for the phase. This can be used to buff Rosie Cotton's willpower (and thus her buff) to 6.

Sep 10, 2019 TASagent 1

Notably, however, you are limited to using Nenya's ability as a Quest action, but if you need to quest HARD, and you have a fast hitch on Rosie, that means she can be responsible for contributing 12 to the quest on her own (with Galadriel's help)

Sep 10, 2019 doomguard 85

yess, wrong ring, but my question stands. galadriels ring is only usable in the questphase. what is the great synergy? you rarely need attack or defense in the questphase (except in battle or siege, but did u mean that? )

Sep 10, 2019 doomguard 85

ah u mean she goes questing for her own, can be made ready and support another hobbithero. o.k. nice but imo not thiiis much of a deal.

Sep 10, 2019 Seastan 22658


If Galadriel targets someone else (not Rosie), then Galadriel (4) + Rosie (2) + Fast Hitch (2) can contribute 8 to the quest.

If Galadriel decides to target Rosie, then Rosie (6) + Fast Hitch (6) can contribute 12 to the quest.

Sep 10, 2019 TASagent 1

Yeah, the excitement was tempered by the realization that Nenya was limited to the Quest phase, but actually it was really versatile in the quest we were playing, in which hide tests were being triggered and occasional enemy attacks were being triggered in the questing phase. Galadriel + Rosie enabled the ability to transmute 6 willpower into any other stat (during the quest phase), and share it across players, which actually ended up making a big difference.

Sep 10, 2019 bdavis96 81

I have been experimenting with a Frodo Baggins, Galadriel, Nenya, and Rosie Cotton deck. Quest with Frodo (2) and a Galadriel targeted Rosie (6). Spend 1 resource from Frodo to ready Rosie. Use Rosie's ability to increase Frodo's willpower to 8. So together, they are questing for 14? Even more if there are other willpower boosting items/allies in play. Then if Fast Hitch is on Rosie, you can use her ability again during the combat phase.

Sep 10, 2019 bdavis96 81

So Frodo and Rosie vs Rosie and Rosie nets +2 willpower and -1 threat (if you quest successfully)

Sep 10, 2019 bdavis96 81

I guess looking at it, there really isn't +2 willpower (because Frodo has to quest), but it does free up Fast Hitch for the combat phase.

Sep 10, 2019 bdavis96 81

Sorry for all the comments...or even better, would it be legal to do Rosie (6), Rosie recommiting to the quest with Fast Hitch (6), and then Frodo readying her and using her ability to boost Frodo to (8)? 6 + 6 + 8 = 20?

Sep 10, 2019 TASagent 1

Nawh, a character is either committed to the quest, or not, but can't be double-committed. I think the only way to get around the 1/phase restriction of rosie's ability would be bouncing her in/out of play (@Seastan can probably speak better to whether this actually resets the count of the uses of her ability), but that would actually make you worse off because she'd lose her +4 and/or fast hitch. I can't imagine a huge benefit to doing this, but is it possible to Sneak Attack in a new Rosie, bump out the old Rosie, and stack the new one's ability?

Sep 10, 2019 bdavis96 81

That is where I am confused. I thought Seastan’s Rosie (6) + Fast Hitch (6) is recommiting Rosie to the quest as an ally...unless it assumes sword-thain to make Rosie a hero and she buffs herself. Frodo’s ability is effectively a second Fast Hitch.

Sep 10, 2019 Seastan 22658

@TASagent Yes, I think as long as you bounce her out it's allowed.

@bdavis96 No, I'm assuming you have some other questing Hobbit. So that's 6 from questing herself and 6 more from buffing a questing Hobbit hero.

Sep 11, 2019 Nillapo82 1

What about Ioreth instead of warden to use the fellowship contract?

Sep 11, 2019 TASagent 1

@Nillapo82I was toying with the same idea the other night. The collision between the intended use of Gaffer Gamgee and the Fellowship contract somewhat reduces the benefit, but it doesn't eliminate it. Obviously, on any round where you trigger Gaffer's ability, you only have access to the Fellowship buffs for Questing, and (potentially) part of defense (unless you burn a Sneak Attack to temporarily bump yourself back up to 9 allies). Even so, the added willpower could quite possibly still be worth it. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯. It also opens up the amusing thought experiment of some quest forcing an objective ally on you at an inopportune time and locking you out from playing Gaffer.

Sep 16, 2019 Nillapo82 1

@TASagentyes the idea is to use Gaffer ability UNTIL you get the contract, after that you are boosted enougth to stop using gaffer bounce (ideally you bounce him the last time and then you put in an ally that has to stay on the floor)

Feb 03, 2020 Sfrug 224

Seastan, do you think this deck would be viable across from someone playing hero Gandalf? Or is it too dependent on his threat reduction? The only thing I can think to do to partly make up for it would be to replace G & Sneak with Woodmen's Clearing & Secret Vigil. Not sure if it would work though.

Feb 03, 2020 Seastan 22658

@Sfrug Won't be as good but maybe Woodmen's Clearing to replace the threat reduction and Valiant Sacrifice to replace the card draw.