The Revolving Door Fellowship

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The BGamerJoe 2579

I've really enjoyed working with this Fellowship contract! Besides being clearly a strong card to build around, I've enjoyed the various decision points in deckbuilding and game play that this contract presents. So far this is my favorite Fellowship style deck I've put together.

The Contract

So far this contract seems to have the smallest drawback. Unique characters are generally better than genercis and there's plenty of them so it isn't very painful to limit yourself to a smaller set of possible allies.

The goal is to get to 9 characters as soon as possible, but you have to be careful to not include too many cheap and easy allies or you'll be pretty disappointed with your final Fellowship when you arrive. Also, I found that playing a Fellowship deck can become boring later in the game if you get your nine in place. You continue to draw allies you can't play and planning phases become non-existent in solo or very tedious in multiplayer. I tried to put together a deck where there's a balance of allies that are easy to get into play quickly to get you closer to 9 and expensive heavy-hitters that make the Fellowship powerful when you get there. The other theme of the deck is flexibility. Gandalf, Ghan, and Folco all have ways to leave play and Timely Aid, Sneak Attack and A Very Good Tale all let you get characters into play outside the standard planning phase. This means that even after you reach the magic number of 9, you can continue to upgrade your fellowship as opportunity presents itself and you can also "patch up" your fellowship during the quest or combat phase if a quest effect takes out an ally and leaves you with less that 9 characters. I've found it entertaining to play in solo and multiplayer and the power level is high enough to complete a wide variety of quests.

The Heroes

Frodo Baggins isn't flashy but he's sure good. That constant threat reduction combined with the action advantage makes him great for this deck and his low threat and access to Leadership for Timely Aid is crucial. Pippin's card draw makes the deck easy to play and his low threat and engagement control are always helpful. Folco might seem like an unlikely choice for a Fellowship deck but I think he's actually excellent. Once you get your fellowship in place, you no longer have a pressing need for resources so sending him on his way doesn't really hurt if you have a better ally to play. Discard him for that massive threat reduction and then drop a larger ally into play or play a blind (or Gildor prepared) Timely Aid now that you're in Secrecy again. All that value for 4 starting threat. And the great neck thrown into the bargain! I toyed with going with tri-sphere heroes but found that two spheres let me get allies out much more reliably in the conventional way which increased consistency.

The Allies

These allies kind of fall into 3 categories: cheap bodies, moderate allies that you can play conventionally and big allies you hope to get for reduced cost.

  1. list text hereIoreth and Henamarth Riversong are the cheapos you want to see right away to get your character count up.
  2. Ceorl, Gaffer, Rhan, Gleowine, Mablung, Merry, Rosie and Quickbeam make up the middle tier. They're all solid allies but you can get any one of them into play whenever they enter your hand.
  3. Gandalf, Faramir, Firyal, Eldahir, Gildor, Gimli, Haldir and Treebeard make up the elite tier who will boost those quest numbers way up and handle the combat phase once in place. You want to get these guys in play with Timely Aid or Resourceful if possible but you can play them conventionally fairly easily if it comes to that.

I know Bill is a weird choice without Sam, but I found the hitpoint boost very helpful a few times and for 2 cost, he was good enough to make the cut. Eldahir is a so-so ally in most situations, but I found him pretty strong in this setting. Once your fellowship is in place, he's defending for 3 and you usually have the Lore resource to burn. If the enemy has a shadow effect, he's defending for 5 and that's great. Gildor defending for 4 is often the primary defender when he's on the table and I often ready him with Frodo so he can quest as well. and Quickbeam and Treebeard provide the muscle to take out enemies quickly. Gimli is really great for this style of deck with his built-in action advantage. Ceorl is a bit of an overlooked ally but his 2 cost for 2 which turns into 3 in this setting is good enough. Gandalf is fun in this deck. I put 2 copies of the core Gandalf in to help the deck accelerate quickly and jump in when needed with Sneak Attack but with such low starting threat and access to threat reduction, I had to include a copy of the more permanent Gandalf as well. 5/5/5 with free questing is so great! Haldir, Eldahir and Gimli give the deck a little bit of multiplayer combat support with some Ranged and Sentinel.

The Ring

The One Ring is not necessary but I really like having some cancellation with The Master Ring and it doesn't really hurt the deck at all since threat is a non-issue. I had copies of The Ruling Ring in there for a while but I just didn't use them enough to warrant taking up the space.

Miscellaneous

The Arkenstone is too good for the deck to leave out. The deck quests for plenty fairly quickly, but boosting everyone's willpower again with this attachment lets you leave more characters ready so you can manage the combat phase easier. I love The Free Peoples so I had to throw one copy in. My starting heroes have a grand total of 1 trait between them all but it isn't hard to get to 9 by the 2nd or 3rd turn. I think there's around 18 traits in the deck. If you want to go hog-wild with your willpower, you can get your Fellowship bonus, Arkenstone bonus, Faramir bonus, Free Peoples bonus and them Faramir bonus again for a total of +5 to every character! And if you play Merry in the same round it's possible to get a +6 on all the allies. Excessive, but enjoyable.

Drinking Song is amazing for keeping the deck consistent and pulling out those key cards when you need them. Just be judicious in the early game because it will shuffle away your Master Ring event which can be a game saver early on. The Shirefolk is awesome but after ending several games at 0 threat, I cut it to 2x to make room for another card. I built the deck with Elf Stone included but I eventually cut it because it never really helped. For 2 cost instead of 1 I can get a very decent ally which gets me closer to my goal faster and I can upgrade from there.

Play Tips

Look for Timely aid in your opening hand along with a cheap ally. It's fairly easy to play 2 or even 3 allies on turn 1 and if you get A Very Good Tale in your opening hand, don't hesitate to gamble on that right away as well. You'll have enough willpower and threat is so low you can afford to quest with everyone for a turn or 2 and stay safe through the combat phase.

Don't be afraid to go in and out of Fellowship mode several times. If you have resources built up and some big allies in hand, make Henamarth step in front of a Hill Troll so you can make room for Firyal. Just plan your combat phase carefully, taking into account the potential stat reduction of coming out of Fellowship mode. Or plan a tricksy trick. If you chump block, you could either Sneak Attack a new character in to get back to 9 temporarily or you could play Timely Aid during the combat phase as well. If you go into the combat phase with only 8 characters, you can play A Very Good Tale, get up to 10 characters, then chump block with the least popular member of the Fellowship bringing down to the magic number and then take out the offending enemy with your boosted stats. I find these tricks irrationally enjoyable.

Testing

I build this deck before Con of the Rings 2019 and was able to play many multiplayer games with it there. I found that it didn't conflict too heavily with most decks with Gandalf and Treebeard being the exception. I subbed out Gandalf a lot and just added a couple more decent allies, trying to keep that ally count close to 30 to keep my events consistent. I was able to get to 9 characters consistently by turn 3 and sometimes by turn 2 and once or twice even on turn 1! I've since been playing it with my multiplayer group in Portland to good effect. It covers a lot of the willpower needs for the table and it can handle an enemy per round by turn 2 or 3. After really solidifying when I wanted in the deck I've been playing some more solo games with it and I beat all 3 quests in the Lost Realm box on the first attempt, Wastes of Eriador on the second attempt, Mount Gram on the second attempt, Ettenmoors on the first attempt and I beat The Treachery of Rhudaur on the first attempt with all three objectives claimed.

Thanks for checking out the deck! I hope it's enjoyable for you if you have a chance to give it a try.

1 comments

Dec 12, 2019 TheChad 4697

beautiful hero line-up. 2 thumbs and 10 hairy toes up!