MoD #7 - Dain, Unguarded

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Some Sort 3032

This is Deck #7 in my "Musings on Dáin" series. See the first deck for more details about the project.

Originally, the reason I dropped Dain into my Reinforcements deck (see entry #6) was because I'd had a specific idea I'd been meaning to play with. But then I got so caught up in the thematic elements that I decided to build in that direction, instead.

With my thematic curiosity satisfied, I wished to return to my original idea. When I first encountered Guarded cards, my reaction was the same as probably most of yours: "these are insanely OP". And then once I started actually playing with them I started to get a better sense of how well-balanced they actually were.

The guarded card was absolutely worth whatever extra enemy or location it brought with it, but the problem was that you didn't get the card until after that enemy or location had been dealt with, and you didn't have the benefit of the guarded card to make dealing with it any easier.

In the early game, when you're getting your footing, dealing with an extra encounter card with no help is a massive ask. By the late game once you're established, it's a much smaller task... but by that point you're already established anyway, so the guarded card isn't really all that necessary. It's a classic "win more" card-- great when you're already dominating, but unlikely to get you into a positive game state in the first place.

So then, of course, my mind goes to shenanigans. Rulings shut down the possibility of cheating guarded cards into play without the extra encounter card (via Well-Equipped or The Grey Wanderer, say). Each guarded card is going to bring in an enemy or a location and there's precious little you can do about it.

But what if you could blow up that enemy or location right away? You still have to deal with it, but then you get that guarded card immediately to help you deal with the normal staging reveal. Suddenly that's a much more interesting trade! In that case, you're not really taking a tempo hit and the guarded cards become much more appealing.

How do you blow up enemies and locations during the planning phase (or, at the latest, during the quest phase before resolution)? My favorite method is the oldest one in the books: Sneak Attack + Gandalf (or Location Gandalf). For most of the things you'd be unfortunate enough to pull, that's enough to free the guarded card.

So I dug out the Reinforcements deck, added a couple extra Meneldors and a fistful of guarded cards, and figured I'd put that theory to the test.

Of course, it's still a Dain deck. There aren't a ton of dwarves, but the ones that made it are cheap (playable in a single round) and very resource-efficient for the stats they provide, helping you keep up with the normal demands of the quest while you're shenaniganing all the guarded cards.

With two other solid dwarf heroes you're able to quest for 6 right out of the gate no matter what you draw, and since you don't need Dain's attack boost to kill enemies, you're free to defend with him for the first few rounds without issue (which also frees up deck space that would normally be reserved for readying effects so you can turn the attack boost back on).

And from a thematic standpoint it was important to me that my first serious foray into guarded cards be a Dwarf deck, given their natural predisposition to dig too deep in search of treasure.


Dec 22, 2020 Darkling Door 4743

I like this concept. How well did it work? Were you able to consistently get the Guarded cards on the turn that you played them? Did you have enough card draw to find your combo ppieces ?

Dec 22, 2020 Some Sort 3032

It definitely worked. I only played it in multiplayer, so the demands on the deck could be distributed a bit (especially with Dain juicing up the partner deck to help it carry the load while I was piddling around). But I definitely managed to pull off the "play guarded card, immediately blow away the guard, claim guarded card, use it during the same round" trick a couple times. It was cool when I did. (I largely wound up giving the guarded cards across the table, actually. I mean, I'm not going to play Orcrist and then NOT give it to Thorin.)

You'd definitely need a lot more draw if you wanted to make it reliable. Here you can be pretty confident that you'll be able to pull it off once or twice, but you'll have much less confidence in what guarded card you'll be getting out of the exchange.

If I wanted to build this out as more of a solo-viable deck I would ditch the dwarves and go with a more cliche lineup (LeaDenethor and the Lore Draw heroes-- Galdor, Erestor, Beravor, etc). Maybe add Voltron Elrohir to take advantage of that insane synergy with Orcrist. It still winds up feeling more like something you're doing because you can and less something you're doing because it's meaningfully increasing your deck's power.