Gaffer Ever After

Seastan 17478

Overview

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.

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.

19 comments

Apr 09, 2019 Roka 700

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: hallofbeorn.com

Apr 09, 2019 Seastan 17478

@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 478

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

Apr 09, 2019 Marcelf 352

Nice deck! No Firyal with all these Lore resources?

Apr 09, 2019 Seastan 17478

@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 29

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 17478

@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 29

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 515

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 17478

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

Apr 11, 2019 bdavis96 5

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 5

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 17478

@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 9

errata for the Gaff will be on its way.

Apr 14, 2019 pd187540 9

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 20

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 17478

@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 29

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 20

@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.