Wizard and Warriors (and more Warriors)

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Snufflegator 89

I've been working on a Gandalf + Prince Imrahil deck and I think I finally figured it out. The solution was to embrace the high threat with Aragorn as the third hero, rather than trying to avoid it. This deck pairs with a Staging Area Control deck for a 2P Fellowship that I made for the AA cycle, though it is fairly self-contained and should pair well with any questing / support deck that is actively trying to avoid combat.


The goal is obvious: Get the Prince to splash a high-cost ally into every combat phase. You can easily add or remove other warrior/Gondor/noble allies depending on your card pool: It is fun to finally get some of these powerful-but-too-pricy ally cards to the table, that otherwise never see play. (But still no Brok, ok?) The deck can be quite fun to play, with tons of One Shot Kill potential.

I'll run 60+ cards, so every game plays a little different, and the sideboard includes a bunch of other ally options. If you love consistency and ruthless efficiency, swap out the singles of most allies and go to 3x of the best ones for your quest. Háma, Boromir, and Glorfindel are all great candidates for multiples, since they can self-ready. (And it didn't make the decklist, but eventually I discovered Greenwood Defender is another great option!) Of course, the Big Bear loves this deck. Pre-nerfed Horn of Gondor would have been a must-include attachment for this deck, though it is still usable if you want to stock up on low-defense allies, then chump block with them essentially for free.

None of the allies are intended to stick around outside of the combat phase, though Glorfindel and/or Legolas are certainly fun to keep around if you can afford them. The lack of persistent allies means that Strider is a workable sideboard card, giving a mostly-permanent 2 boost to Gandalf, who should be questing every round once Shadowfax appears.

Wizard Pipe is the most important card in the deck and almost always worth mulliganing for, as you really want control over that top card. Gandalf's ability to play off-sphere cards, the Flame of Anor, and most importantly Imrahil's ability are all made infinitely more effective by the pipe. This deck doesn't have any way to get a 2nd swap, though at times I wish it did. Radagast with another pipe, or Gildor Inglorion could help, though those are both expensive options and I wouldn't say they are necessary.

Gandalf's Staff is the 2nd most important card due to it's flexibility: Early in the game you can drop an extra resource on Imrahil or draw for either player as needed; later in the game I usually give the resource to the partner deck or discard shadow cards, as by then Expert Treasure-hunter will be sufficient for this deck's card draw. Once all the toys are out, they'll be a ton of readying with a Rohan Warhorse on each hero, Heir of Mardil on Imrahil triggering from Gandalf's Staff (or Steward), and (eventually) an Unexpected Courage on Gandalf and/or Aragorn from the other deck. With the Treasure-hunter, you'll have plenty of cards to feed Protector of Lórien.

An ideal turn will have Gandalf and at least one other hero questing then readying. Then engage one enemy (though the high threat sometimes means more than one), defend with a temporary ally, then Aragorn + Imrahil team up to kill the enemy and then engage + kill another. A Warhorse + Sword of Númenor on each of them is generally enough. I also have a couple Dagger of Westernesse, though it rarely triggers +2. I don't own Orcrist or Glamdring, but I imagine they'd work nicely here instead. Feint and Noiseless Movement from the other deck will help when you inevitably get swarmed, and it is worth considering Hands Upon the Bow+Flame of Anor if you find that isn't enough.

Special note: Boosting Gandalf's with Flame of Anor and then playing Hour of Wrath in Valour is totally bonkers and will clear every enemy on the board.

Threat Mitigation

I originally made this deck with Mablung instead of Aragorn, figuring that two fewer threat and the extra resource would be preferred. I was trying to manage the high threat with The Galadhrim's Greeting, but it was simply too hard to pull off consistently given the need to have it on the top of the deck because it was out-of-sphere. Swapping in Favor of the Valar made all the difference; it is neutral and and passive, so it is much easier to work with. I've had bad luck a few times when I couldn't find it, but usually one copy + a couple Secret Vigil traps is enough to get me through the game. By the time you need to play a 2nd Favor, finding the card and the resources is usually no longer an issue.

[I also made a few attempts with this deck for solo play, usually adding Strider and Dúnedain Remedy for healing. If you can get the staff & pipe early, and survive the first few turns without losing a hero or getting location locked, you'll have fun. If not, at least it loses quickly!]