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|How About Some Cheese To Go With That Gleowine?||3||1||0||2.0|
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Some Sort 3019
So as soon as I saw Messenger of the King I knew I wanted to push its limits. Any target can only ready once per phase, but there are seven phases in a round, which leaves room for potentially seven readies. You just need an ally who can actually do something productive in every phase. Enter Gléowine.
So I built a deck designed to get Gleowine seven readies per round (six from card effects plus his normal ready during Refresh). Gleowine, in turn, can pass out seven cards per round. Since I used Erestor to get set up, I didn't really need those cards, so it was a bit of an Oprah deck-- You! get a card, and You! get a card, EVERYBODY GETS A CARD!
That deck wasn't optimized for playability or anything. It was strictly optimized for pushing the new MotK contract to its theoretical limits. I mean, it was totally playable, but the thing about drawing seven cards per round is that unless you're in a four-player game, it's kind of overkill. Something like four extra cards per round for the table was still super powerful and left a lot more room in the deck for doing other stuff.
Since the original deck was essentially designed for 3- or 4-player games, it went super easy on the conflict uniques. Other than Hero Arwen (unavoidable) and Ally Glorfindel (skippable), there weren't really any key pieces. It deliberately forewent Steward of Gondor because with three other decks at the table, it's a virtual guarantee that another one would want it.
But the thing is besides the novelty of pushing cards to their limits, there's actually a pretty good deck underneath all that. "Nolder decks that endlessly recur Lords of the Eldar" are already a thing, and adding Gleowine to chrome it out makes it that much better.
So this is a slightly refined version of the original decklist intended more for two-handed or even (gasp) solo play. You've still got the Unexpected Courages to pass around extra cards, though in solo the second and third copy are more likely to go on Erestor to get extra uses out of his (buffed-by-Lords of the Eldar) actions.
Also, when building for smaller games I feel less bad about getting greedy and grabbing Steward. In two-player I can more than make up for it by sending lots of card draw across the table. In true solo there's nobody else to complain.
So here's the new smaller-table Gleowine deck. Play is largely the same: zoom through your deck with Erestor (and even using Gleowine on yourself if you have spare resources, which you frequently will by the second, third, or fourth turn). Dump out as many attachments and allies as you can long the way. Then cycle Lords of the Eldar two or three or even four times per round.
(If you hit all your resource bonuses you'll naturally get ten resources per round with Magic Ring or nine resources per round without, good for three plays a round in perpetuity. But some rounds you won't need all three, which allows you to bank resources for more plays in later rounds.)
Or hell, no need to stop at four. As built, if you save up resources for a bit you can cycle it up to seven times by the quest phase and eight times by the combat phase. Play three from your discard during the resource phase, exhaust Gleowine to draw one back, ready Gleowine with Unexpected Courage, exhaust Gleowine to draw another, discard your two Lords of the Eldar from hand, play a fourth and fifth time during the resource phase. Then every phase after that ready Gleowine (2x more Unexpected Courages + 1x Magic Ring), exhaust him to draw another Lords of the Eldar, discard it, and play it. So you get your 6th play during planning, your 7th play during the quest, your 8th play during travel, and then you're out of card draw so you have to wait until the next round. Eight Lords of the Eldar turns those weenie little 0/0/1/1 Masters of the Forge into hulking 8/8/9/1 monstrosities. (Just watch out for direct damage effects.)
(Protector of Lórien and Imladris Caregiver give you extra discard triggers, of course. The Protector also makes Erestor a very credible defender while you're getting set up, and Silver Harp lets you get triggers off of it even when you have cards you're not willing to lose yet.)
Now it's rarely optimal to get 8 plays of Lords of the Eldar in one round, but that doesn't mean I haven't done it just for the novelty of smashing trolls with a fistful of jewelers, sailors, healers, and blacksmiths.
And because Gleowine can give cards across the table, and because Lords of the Eldar hits every Noldor character on the board, the deck is still very multiplayer-friendly. Suddenly that Dwarven Mining deck finds itself questing for five with its Imladris Stargazers instead of setting up its mining operations.
In terms of mulligan instructions, Elrond's Counsel is important to get early so you can afford the Resourcefuls, and Drinking Song is great if you have three key cards and can only afford two, allowing you to shuffle the third back into your deck and hopefully save it for later. Unlike most decks, smaller hands are usually better for Drinking Song here, so if you're out of resources and trying to save a card, dump all non-critical cards like Good Harvest or Lords of the Eldar or Glorfindel or Daeron's Runes (which is mostly intended for later rounds).
Steward is obviously playable first turn if you pair it with A Good Harvest. It's also playable with Reforged, and even better than usual: pitch Steward to Arwen for an extra Spirit Resource to play Steward. This essentially makes it even more unfair; not only is it revenue-neutral, it's actually revenue-positive! If you get an early Steward and have no means of playing it, though, don't worry about pitching it anyway; a Reforged will show up soon enough to dig it back out.
Theoretically, you can do all the same cycling with just a single copy of Lords of the Eldar, but you have to survive for the seven or eight rounds it takes you to empty your deck, and having a Lords of the Eldar handy to play during that time is often a godsend, so three copies it is.