Mormegil's Ultimate Solo Deck

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The Mormegil 1695

"Elrond wore a mantle of grey and had a star upon his forehead, and a silver harp was in his hand, and upon his finger was a ring of gold with a great blue stone, Vilya, mightiest of the Three.“

-J.R.R. Tolkien, “The Return of the King”

1. Premise

2. Playthrough Results

3. Strategy

4. The Heroes

5. The Allies

6. The Attachments

7. The Events

8. Notable Absentees

9. Conclusion

1. Premise

When the last official player cards of the game were spoiled last summer, I was surprisingly sad. However, one thing that I had been looking forward to for years was finally possible: Trying to build the most successful solo deck possible. With successful I mean a deck that can a) beat any scenario in the game and b) will need as few attempts as possible for that undertaking.

I will not claim that this deck is the answer to that question, it would not only be extremely arrogant to state but also vastly untrue since there are many skilled deckbuilders out there whose decks for such a task I simply do not know. This deck is just my personal best shot at it.

It would also be unfair to present the deck without mentioning the people who had the most influence in the construction of this deck. So huge shout-outs to Jban and Rouxxor!

Jban is a playing buddy mine and did a well reported “One-Deck-Playthrough” himself, so his insights into which quests would prove what kind of challenge were extremely useful.

Rouxxor, who shares my passion for optimizing a deck down to its last card, is someone who this deck would be much weaker without. I already had an older Vilya deck (which I already did a playthrough with) before starting my discussion with him and he had an Vilya deck as well. During our discussion, we both changed stuff about our own decks until the two decks were almost identical, apart from only two or three cards. Overall, we both adopted ideas from one another and made both of our decks stronger in the process.

Lastly, please forgive me for my inadequate English at times. I am not a native speaker, so any linguistic mess-ups are purely by accident and hopefully will not disturb you too much. With these facts out of the way, enjoy the deck and the (hopefully not too exhausting) write-up :).

2. Playthrough Results

My Rules for the playthrough were as follows:

  1. Play every quest in the game in its most difficult iteration. This means: Every quest for which a Nightmare mode exists I will play in Nightmare mode. “The Hunt for the Dreadnaught” must be played in Hard mode.
  2. If there is an argument for the normal version of the quest being more difficult than the Nightmare, both versions must be played.
  3. Do not use a sideboard or swap out cards between scenarios.
  4. The deck must be legal according to deckbuilding and scenario rules.

Now, there is another talking point with this deck and it concerns the setup timing of Messenger of the King. The currently official ruling by Caleb states that MotK’s setup ability triggers during step 7 of setup, so after every other step of setup is resolved. The community consensus that I have mostly seen is that this just does not make much sense and creates frustrating play patterns so most people I see play with MotK set it up during step 2 of setup (along with their heroes) as stated in the rulebook.

Because the current official ruling says step 7 is the setup time for contracts, I played it this way. However, the quests where this makes a significant difference for my deck where my win percentage is concernded (which are only really “Escape from Dol Guldur”, “The Fortress of Nurn” and “The Uruk-Hai”), I played both ways since I suspect the stats of the step 2 rule variant will probably be the ones that most people are actually interested in. Outside of these three quests (especially outside "The Fortress of Nurn") your winning percentage should be fairly similar for a step 2 and a step 7 setup.

All 121 quests were played in total.

Of these, “The Siege of Cair Andros” and “The Battle of Carn Dûm” were played in Nightmare and non-Nightmare mode.

“Escape from Dol Guldur”, “The Fortress of Nurn” and “The Uruk-Hai” were played twice, once with MotK being setup during step 2 and once being setup during step 7.

  • 116 Quests were beaten in the first attempt.

  • 3 Quests needed two attempts (“The Ruins of Belegost”, “Peril in Pelargir Nightmare” and “The Blood of Gondor Nightmare”)

  • “The Fortress of Nurn” needed 11 attempts with MotK being setup in step 7 of setup and 1 attempt with it being setup during step 2.

  • “Escape from Dol Guldur” needed 7 attempts with MotK being setup in step 7 of setup and 4 attempts with it being setup during step 2.

So overall, there were 4 or 5 (depending on the setup timing of MotK) quests I needed more than 1 attempt for.

There were 1 or 2 quests that took me more than 2 attempts to beat (again depending on the setup timing).

I am overall quite happy with the results.

If you are interested in further facts about my playthrough, I have prepared two documents for you to look at.

This document is a table with more detailed stats about my playthrough, the attempts I needed, who my usual Messenger of the King for each quest was and how difficult I would rate each quest for this deck.

This document is a written document that includes (sometimes very extensive) written analysis on the most tricky and difficult quests.

Please keep in mind with these results: They are very dependent on your skill and experience level! Vilya decks are not that hard to play to good results, but they are one of the most difficult decks to play to perfection. They have a very high skill-cap, a fact I will discuss at length further below. Playing Vilya to its full potential, especially this deck which has a lot of triggers and a lot of cards that are (sometimes contrary to belief) hard to use optimally, is really, really tough.

What is also essential for your results is a detailed knowledge of the quests you are up against, especially of course of the more challenging quests. Another thing to keep in mind is that a “One-Deck-Playthrough”, if you want to optimize your results as much as possible, requires quite a different, much more calculated and careful style of play than if you just play a casual scenario.

I will not claim that I know how to play Vilya or even this deck to perfection because, simply speaking, I do not. There might very well be players out there who would get better results! I have however played Vilya more than any other archetype in the game since I attempted another “One-Deck-Playthrough” with a similar deck several years ago. Therefore, the sheer number of games I played with decks similar to this one proved invaluable to me, as did my playing habits when playing solo. When I play solo, I normally play a pool of 30-40 quests which are usually the most challenging ones. This was also vital for my playthrough since a) I know the most challenging scenarios the best and b) I knew which scenarios would be troublesome, so I played these ones last to gain as much experience with the deck as possible before attempting them. That meant I played over a hundred games before going on to attempt the most difficult scenarios for this deck.

What I am trying to say is that your results would probably vary significantly to mine. They might be better or worse depending on your playing abilities, your experience with Vilya, your knowledge of the quests and your knowledge/experience of how to play when attempting an optimized playthrough.

3. Strategy

In this section I will talk about your general strategy. My strategy regarding specific cards can be found further below.

The Lord of the Rings LCG is a game that comes down to two challenges for me: Resource management and tempo management.

With resource management I do not only mean the resources your heroes gain but resources in a more general sense. This includes (but is not limited to) your actual resources, the cards in your hand, the available character actions you can take, the differential of your threat level to 50 that you can work with and so on.

Tempo management means your ability to navigate your position through the quest, to have a detailed knowledge of the scenario, which encounter/shadow cards could come up, which cards are already in which discard pile, where the main challenge of the quest lies, what potential reveals could influence your board position in what way … there are endless hypothetical scenarios that could change the correct management of tempo. And both bases, resource and tempo management, should be managed correctly to maximize your success with this deck. I will not be able to cover all strategic aspects of the deck in the context of a “One-Deck-Playthrough”, but I will try my best to give you an impression of how the deck is meant to be played.

The main problem with a “One-Deck-Playthrough” is basically that almost every answer to potential strategy questions is “it depends”. There are times where mulliganing for Vilya is the wrong move, where Quickbeam should not be damaged upon entering the game (I probably won a quest because of that play pattern), where sacrificing a hero in the very first round is the correct decision. These instances are of course only applicable to very few situations, but they are meant to show that everything I am about to say must be taken with a grain of salt and is not the correct play pattern for every situation, just for most of them.

This deck is of course a Vilya deck. However, it is quite a different deck to the most “famous” Vilya deck (on this platform at least) which is Seastan’s Vilya deck (a very powerful deck and incredibly fun to play). Whereas decks like Seastan’s One Deck try to maximize your chances for a blind Vilya, this deck is more about trying to _control _your Vilya trigger as much as possible. For that, you generally want to see Vilya as soon as possible. That is quite likely to happen since you will see a lot of cards with this deck due to the high amount of draw, your reduced starting deck size because of MotK, Gandalf's ability and the insanity of Drinking Song.

Bilbo Baggins is usually (in 80-90% of cases) your MotK target and fetches you Wizard Pipe to have a reliable way to control the top card of your deck as early as round one. Once you get Vilya out you want to use its incredible power to get ahead of the encounter deck and win the quest.

Because you will usually never have to do a blind Vilya and you see a lot of cards, there is really no point to fill up your deck with 15 or 20 high-cost allies, eight are more than enough. You will only be able to use Vilya once in seven phases anyways so why include a bunch of cards that sit in your hand doing nothing? It is better to have a lot of cards in your deck that you can play than a lot of cards in your deck you can only realistically play with Vilya (or Steward of Gondor). So apart from the few expensive allies this deck mostly includes quite cheap cards that you can play without Vilya and gain additional momentum this way. A lot of the cheaper cards are great Vilya targets as well, the most expensive card is not automatically your best target, it really depends.

Also keep in mind that the deck can outpace almost any quest eventually (which is mostly down to Vilya of course, but the other very powerful cards as well). Therefore, the most important round is usually the one you are playing at the moment, the next one will likely be easier and snowball off the round you are playing currently. This is for instance why a card like Treebeard is not included in the deck; He adds nothing the round he enters play and takes away your Vilya trigger for said round. By the time he would ready, you should be in an easier round than the one before so why make the previous one unnecessarily difficult?

The cards out of the last cycles that took this deck to the next level were mostly Drinking Song and especially Messenger of the King. These cards were such major gamechangers for Vilya decks and One Decks in general that my mind jumped straight to them when they were released (and I do not seem to be the only one, other people have paired these cards with great results as well). This is why I am mentioning these specific cards now, they are just so crucial for your whole strategy. A One Deck needs to be versatile above all else and these cards make your deck more versatile than ever before and consistent to a point that was unthinkable before they were released.

Drinking Song lets you not only find Vilya extremely consistently early on, it also dramatically increases the chance of having a good Vilya target available to you, which frees up more deck space for other useful cards. And a lot of quests have a very specific challenge that you might only have a few answers in the deck for (the prime example being “A Journey to Rhosgobel”) so Drinking Song reduces the time until you find your answers massively.

Speaking of adjusting to specific challenges, Messenger of the King is basically a revolution where that is concerned. Being able to adjust your MotK depending on the scenario is central to dozens of strategies for specific scenarios and invaluable for this deck. The best example might be “Mount Doom”, a quest that is traditionally quite tricky for Vilya decks but is infinitively easier with a MotK Faramir. And there are a lot of scenarios where this is the case.

This deck is also very much geared toward to surviving the early rounds, the most difficult part for a Vilya deck. It is built so that not questing hard or taking an undefended attack early on is something you can stomach quite comfortably with the amount of threat lowering and shadow cancellation you have access to. Gandalf is an integral piece of that strategy due to his flexible stat line and large pool of (as is Elrond). This means for instance that a card like Hasty Stroke is not only used as a panic button but also strategically quite aggressive to guarantee a momentum swing in your favor. Sacrificing your MotK early on (at least if it is Bilbo) is also something that you often plan for depending on your board state since his main task (to give you access to Wizard Pipe early) is achieved during setup. Of course, to successfully incorporate this strategy you need a knowledge of the potential challenges/shadow effects of the quest so keep that in mind when making such a decision (a trivial statement however since that basically should apply to all decisions you make).

4. The Heroes


Elrond is of course the hero you must include to even play the Vilya archetype to its full potential. But he has other very important uses as well. His stats are fantastic which makes him the recipient of Light of Valinor and usually the first Unexpected Courage you play. The resource smoothing he provides (due to his ability but also due to Vilya giving him a icon) is also invaluable and he therefore is your prime target for Steward of Gondor as well. And lastly his healing is also just always very useful, especially if you take a lot of damage early on due to undefended attacks (which, as outlined above, is sometimes your best course of action).


Gandalf is not only my favorite hero in the game but also one of the very strongest. His synergy with Vilya is obvious, but he makes Vilya even better since every time you use Vilya, it also leads you to see a new card. From going to “put into play the top card of your deck” you go to “put into play the top card of your deck and (basically) draw a card.”

His resources are also incredibly flexible, and his stat line is absolutely amazing due to its versatility from round 1. Additionally, you gain access to two very good cards when playing him: Wizard Pipe, probably the card in the entire card pool that synergizes the best with Vilya and Gandalf's Staff, which offers something any One Deck wants: Versatility.

But his biggest advantage is without a doubt his card drawing (or pseudo-card drawing) capabilities. In the right deck, he effectively draws you four or five additional cards per round since his ability is limited to “per phase”. Any card you play from the top of your deck is effectively replacing itself, therefore drawing you one additional card and he can do that up to seven times each round. A card like Elrond's Counsel often therefore basically reads “… and draw a card”, Daeron's Runes becomes even more ridiculous, you see three new cards instead of two and Drinking Song being played from the top of your deck (if you control Bilbo which is mostly the case) is just unfair; you get a new hand, draw an additional card for Bilbo and get a new card on top of your deck. It shuffles for instance six cards back into your deck and leads you to see eight new ones. Insanity.

These facts are mostly why I preferred him over other options like Glorfindel, Arwen, Denethor or Eowyn.

Messenger of the King

I already outlined above the vital role MotK plays in this deck and how you can adjust your target based on the quest you are playing. It also guarantees a very reasonable starting threat even though you are running the two most expensive heroes in the game.

Your default route is the following: You take Bilbo to grab Wizard Pipe, and if you have either him or Wizard Pipe in your opening hand (if you choose to set up MotK during step 7 of setup) you take Arwen Undómiel instead.

The timing of your MotK setup does not matter much, except for the three quests mentioned above. If you set it up during step 2, you get your guaranteed target (which is of course very nice) but are not able to react to your opening hand the encounter setup as a result. If you set it up during step 7, these arguments are switched, you might not get your preferred choice however you are able to react to what has happened previously.

Also, it is worth mentioning that Bilbo as your MotK thins your deck by effectively two cards (himself and Wizard Pipe) and any other target by one card. This is also a benefit of course since it can lead to you seeing Vilya or other key cards earlier.

5. The Allies

Arwen Undómiel

Three stats for two resources, one of the most useful allies in the game. Her low cost for two and two are ideal and I wanted a potential replacement for Bilbo as MotK (for the Hobbit sagas and if you have Bilbo or Wizard Pipe in your opening hand). Arwen was the obvious choice. She furthermore offers great synergy with Boromir, Glorfindel and heroes who have a Courage attached since they can use her boost multiple times. Valuable for Siege questing.


Just an absolute stat-monster. This alone might be enough to consider him, but his ability is also quite useful. Especially if your deck is empty, you can use it and get him back in the same round before drawing cards in the following rounds which is great for killing big enemies with limited action usage and can also be a nice little way to heal damage from him. The winning attempt of “The Ruins of Belegost” and one playthrough of “The Fortress of Nurn” could only be won due to this trick.

Bilbo Baggins

Amazing for grabbing one of the most important cards of your deck (Wizard Pipe) and of course your default MotK target. His low threat cost as a hero and his 2 / 0 / 0 / 2 stat line are exactly what the deck wants from him. Plus, he is in the perfect sphere.


I love Boromir, he is such a great ally, and I would have lost several quests without him (among those one of my “Escape from Dol Guldur” victories). Getting him out with Vilya or with resources from Elrond/Gandalf is often a major momentum shift and in terms of power level of high-cost allies in this deck, I would probably only put him below Firyal (generally speaking at least).

Important MotK for “The Dunland Trap”.


Always good but a key component in a few quests that target your threat specifically (“Return to Mirkwood” for example). A fine defender in a pinch.

Envoy of Pelargir

This card was probably the most important change that Rouxxor convinced me to do. I was skeptical at first, but fully convinced now. The Envoy is a glue card that makes the deck much, much more resistant. It only costs you one resource and gets you your resources where you usually want them the most, on Elrond.

It is a cost-efficient quester, normal or Battle, has 2 once you get Faramir out and is a very efficient sailor. You also often need a chump-blocker early on and the Envoy is primed for that role.

It also makes for a surprisingly good Vilya target, an ally and a resource are often worth the trigger if there is no better target currently available.


Absolutely fantastic ally in this deck (especially because there are quite a few low-cost allies who have great synergy with him).

In “Mount Doom” he is your MotK and your strategic cornerstone. Quite clutch for a lot of different quests as well, he was for example crucial in my victory over “The Lonely Mountain” and one of my victories over “The Fortress of Nurn”, two of the most challenging scenarios there are for this deck.


Amazing stats, amazing ability and one of your best, in a lot of scenarios the best, targets to play with Vilya. She is also quite often your MotK, especially in surge-heavy quests or in quests where there are certain encounter cards you want to avoid at all costs. Probably the best high-cost ally out there for one and two player games (in higher player counts, that title belongs to Faramir though).

Gildor Inglorion

Always a great ally to get into play with Vilya! That and his usefulness as your MotK in quests where you need to riddle/burgle puts him over other high-cost allies not included in the deck.


Just really, really efficient. You will often have duplicates of unique cards in your hand to fuel his ability and he quests and attacks extremely well. I also like him as a defender at times. With Arwen he is a 2 4 ally who can defend twice in one combat phase and can be replayed once he dies.

Henamarth Riversong

Henamarth Riversong is the best ally in the game in solo if you ask me.

He is so powerful that one resource for him is almost a joke. He is so powerful that he is the only unique ally I believe to be worth running as more than a 1x in this deck. And he is a card that is very difficult to play right because of the number of options he gives you. He is a passable quester, attacker, sailor and chump-blocker and has an ability that is frankly insanely good.

Usually, you want to utilize his ability of course, that is the reason he is in the deck for (but there are many exceptions to that rule). But his ability itself is also very tricky to play optimally. There are quests where you want to trigger him before and others where you want to trigger him after questing. There are quests where you want to look at shadow cards instead of the cards you will reveal in questing. He is almost impossible to always play optimally because it always, always depends. If you play him optimally though, his potential is absolutely staggering for such a cheap ally.

Imladris Stargazer

Due to Wizard Pipe usually being in your opening hand, I did not see enough reason to run her thrice. She still offers more than enough to justify two slots though, with her synergies with Gandalf and Vilya being the main reason.

Stacking your deck in a way in which your effects are maximized to their full potential is still incredibly useful.


I could copy and paste large parts of what I said about Firyal when discussing him. Amazing stats, amazing ability and one of your best, in some scenarios the best, targets to play with Vilya.


An absolute stat machine and especially useful because is probably the stat the deck lacks the most. Funnily saved me Gandalf once because I played him exhausted and did not trigger his response, so keep that almost never-used interaction in mind when playing him.

Rhovanion Outrider

He is only included for “A Journey to Rhosgobel” where he is needed to have a realistic chance against the quest. In the other quests he is also useful but would probably not make the cut were it not for “Rhosgobel”. I prefer him over Northern Tracker in this deck in solo because he is cheaper, mostly quests for one more and the number of times in which there are multiple troublesome locations in the staging area are limited.

Warden of Healing

You want to see him/her early relatively often so a 2x. An essential card for a lot of quests and your strategy to take undefended attacks now and again. I prefer him/her over Ioreth for his superior synergy with Elrond. Not a 3x because you will usually find the first one quite quickly if you need him due to the number of cards you go through and because Steward of Gondor on Elrond basically equals another copy (if you want to use its resources for the Warden's ability).

6. The Attachments

Gandalf's Staff

Gandalf’s Staff is so fantastic that I think a 2x is justified. Its strength lies in its versatility. It is mostly used for shadow cards (I estimate 2/3 of the time), but that is not always the correct decision. It depends on the quest in if there are threatening shadow cards still left in the encounter deck (something you should always keep track of). If the shadow cards are not a big problem, it is a genuine mistake to not use it for resources or cards!

Light of Valinor

Like Gandalf’s Staff, this card is simply so powerful that it justifies being a 2x despite being unique. Elrond is the target of course (unless Gildor is your MotK).

Steward of Gondor

The power of Steward of Gondor is evident and does not need to be explained here. It basically always goes on Elrond. I really like it in this deck for a couple of reasons: If you, despite all your efforts, do not see Vilya early on it is a very good second option to be able to play the more expensive cards in your deck. And if you see it and Vilya early on and can get both of them out, good luck to the encounter deck trying to keep track with you. Its sheer power justifies it as a 2x.

Unexpected Courage

Another very important card in the deck since it not only counterbalances Vilya’s “cost” of exhausting Elrond, it also lets you use your amazing stats on your heroes more often.

Usually, the first copy goes on Elrond and the second and third on Gandalf. That might change however depending on the quest/the boardstate.

Your MotK almost never gets a Courage but there are some notable exceptions (the most significant being of course Faramir in “Mount Doom”). A 3x because it is not unique and you are always glad to see it as early as possible.


I hear Vilya is important for the Vilya archetype. Kidding aside, this card makes the deck work. Usually, your number one priority is to get it out as soon as possible. The icon it gives is also more useful than I suspect many people would expect, it centralizes your important resource icons on one character and gives you access to picking a non- MotK without losing much value of your many cards.

Wizard Pipe

Not much explanation needed here as well. The synergy with Vilya is obvious and being able to get the Pipe on setup due to Bilbo is one of the main reasons why the deck works as it does.

7. The Events

A Test of Will

The second-most powerful card in the game in my opinion. Unquestionable 3x. Has a great synergy with Gandalf, as almost any event in the game, as outlined when I discussed him. It actually is a card with a very high skill cap because keeping the resource is sometimes absolutely the correct decision and sometimes a huge mistake. A card that requires very careful thinking to play to its full potential!

Daeron's Runes

The most powerful card in the game in my opinion. Unquestionable 3x. Has an insane synergy with Gandalf when being played from the top of your deck, a fact I already discussed.

Drinking Song

I talked about Drinking Song at length above, so I will not go into much more detail here. It is amazing, makes the deck so much more consistent and robust, almost always triggers to its full potential and even if it does not is still really good. Playing it from the top of your deck with Gandalf’s ability just feels like cheating.

Elrond's Counsel

An amazing card! Its free threat reduction is so amazing that its willpower boost is often disregarded as an afterthought and while it is a card that I mainly play for the reduction, the boost can also be quite important.

With your usual starting threat of 31, it can also bring you under the important 30-threat threshold in the first turn for free which is very important to several quests. Has a great synergy with Gandalf, as almost any event in the game, as outlined when I discussed him.

Hasty Stroke

Another card Rouxxor convinced me to include and another card he was right about! It has several uses that justify its inclusion (which probably surprises a lot of people).

First of all, unlike Gandalf’s Staff and Jubayr, it works on unique enemies. That is something that often proved essential. It also allows you to aggressively take undefended attacks without running overly high risks. This can prove to be a momentum shift that gives you more time to let Vilya build up your board. It can also result in you killing an enemy earlier than otherwise which is of course also something that often saves you actions and damage in future turns.

The same thing that applied to A Test of Will applies to Hasty Stroke: It actually is a card with a very high skill cap because keeping the resource is sometimes absolutely the correct decision and sometimes a huge mistake. A card that requires very careful thinking to play to its full potential! Has a great synergy with Gandalf, as almost any event in the game, as outlined when I discussed him.

The Galadhrim's Greeting

A card that is sometimes overkill where threat reduction is concerned, however in some quests both copies can be absolutely crucial. Therefore, it is somewhat irreplaceable as a 2x. Has a great synergy with Gandalf, as almost any event in the game, as outlined when I discussed him.

8. Notable Absentees

The notable absentees are oderered by their usefulness for the deck.

  1. The One Ring (with The Master Ring and/or Inner Strength): Not included because the current setup ruling weakens it significantly and even more importantly, it is illegal to play in the saga expansions. In non-saga quests, I would most likely include it. The cards that mostly missed out on a technicality.
  2. Narya: A great card with lots of great targets but it is probably only useful from round 2 or 3 onwards and I wanted my cards to be useful in the most important round of the game, round 1.
  3. Magic Ring: I though ages about Magic Ring’s inclusion. In the end I decided against it because in some of the most difficult quests in the game, every point of threat counts. And in these crucial games Magic Ring would therefore end up being a dead card.
  4. Deep Knowledge: Amazing card but excluded for similar reasons as Magic Ring.
  5. Word of Command: Felt somewhat unnecessary with all the draw and especially Drinking Song. The opportunity cost is too high of a tempo hit for the more difficult quests I believe.
  6. Ioreth: I prefer Warden of Healing when playing Elrond.
  7. Treebeard: Similar reasoning as Narya. This deck builds up a board state very quickly, so if you lose it is almost always because you fall behind in the first few rounds. So, the early-game is the part of the game where you are most vulnerable and Treebeard is not a great early-game ally (if you have no way of readying him).
  8. A high-cost attacking ally: I found my attacking power to be sufficient.
  9. Other high-cost allies: I included the ones I think are best suited for the deck and do not need or want more of them. More high-cost allies would just be win more.
  10. Master of the Forge: Drinking Song rendered him mostly obsolete.
  11. Expert Treasure-hunter: This deck does not lack draw at all.

9. Conclusion

If someone is still reading this, my admiration, I hope you enjoyed the article.

This deck filled a lot of my time during the Covid-19 crisis with a lot of fun and I am happy to finally share it with you. If you have any question regarding the deck, specific quests or anything else, feel free to ask.

I aIso saw some players over the last few weeks posting their attempts for a potential playthrough, I can only encourage you to try it! It is a lot of fun and a great mental exercise. So, good luck to everybody who is currently doing or thinks about doing a “One-Deck-Plythrough”.

Now, I will stop rambling on now and wish you a very good one.

Enjoy the deck!!!


Feb 14, 2021 The Mormegil 1695

The two documents on all the quests again so that you do not need to scroll through the description endlessly. If you have problems opening them, write a comment. :)

Feb 14, 2021 doomguard 1008

would have made it nearly he same, except, i do not like the boromir-ally, and for that and 2 envoy i had included 3 zigil. (more deckmanipulating and ressources)

perhaps i would have taken Keen as Lances instead of galadrims greeting, but this changes nothing at the concept.

Feb 15, 2021 GreenWizard 234

Cool deck. Interesting, I would've always used the Master of the Forge with a Vilya deck. But I like the drinking song way instead. Thanks for the idea.

Feb 15, 2021 Rouxxor 1380

Yeah! What a challenge. And what a win rate! More than 95% of the quests were defeated in first try, I don't think anyone else can pretend to that for now. Glad you consider that much our talk about decks, it is a pleasure to me too.

Before I start to speak about your deck all over the place (for his performance and because it demonstrate the power of my version too after all ^^) the only thing that bother me in your description, your quest resume and notes is if it would not have been better to fetch for Elfehlm immediatly (for MoTK effect) in Return to Mirkwood?

Feb 15, 2021 The Mormegil 1695


Thanks for the nice feedback!

@doomguardI prefer Envoy over Zigil (at least outside of running Narya) but Zigil is a very good ally with Gandalf nevertheless of course. I am curious why you dislike Boromir, I think he's great!

@RouxxorI mean it is as I said, you improved the deck quite a bit! For NM Return to Mirkwood, Elfhelm is good but I sometimes had the problem with him when testing the deck before the playthrough that your deck was much slower so needed at least one more round to win than with Bilbo. And he costs four more threat so if you add these 4 points to the (at least!) 3 threat you gain in one round during Return to Mirkwood he costs already 7 threat more than Bilbo. So he only pays for himself quite late by which point you should have gotten him into play just as a basic ally I think anyways, therefore I prefer Bilbo for Return.

Feb 15, 2021 doomguard 1008

@boromir, you will have most of the time a high threat, so you cannot use his ability. and with only 1 defense he is to squishy for me to be a save defender and trigger his 2. ability. and without having his abilities save, he is to expensive for cost of 4 (or use of vilya). i would prefer either Legolas for him if i want attackforce, or if defending/flexible force (beorn is still in the deck he s 1. choice)) i would choose a Giant Bear.

Feb 15, 2021 The Mormegil 1695

Slight addendum to my comment above: I should have read ... For NM Return to Mirkwood, Elfhelm is good but I sometimes had the problem with him when testing the deck before the playthrough that the deck ... I meant the deck I posted, not your deck @Rouxxor, sorry for the potential confusion

Feb 15, 2021 Seastan 31036

Very nice work and dedication here @The Mormegil! Every time I see an attempt to beat every quest in the game it gets an automatic favorite from me.

MotK has definitely been a game changer for the "One Deck Playthrough" challenge. It's a clever way to effectively include a sideboard to counter a particular quest. But what I find most surprising about this one in particular is that the "default" target is not Friyal, although I do see that you started with her a lot.

Looking at the document you shared it seems like there's just a few quests that you expect the deck to really struggle with. I found this was also the case with The One Deck. And I naturally find myself comparing the two.

I think this deck will outperform The One Deck for the vast majority of quests, as MotK Firyal turns all those quests that have just a couple game-ending cards in them into easy mode, and prevents a random loss to bad luck. In those cases The One Deck will need a second attempt, but not any more than that normally. Meanwhile, The One Deck only has the advantage in a couple battle quests, and a few that start with big enemies, but most of those are not any problem for your deck either.

What I find more intriguing are the few quests that pose a real challenge. Looking at the document you posted, it seems that there are 5 or so quests where this deck can be normally be expected to take many attempts to beat (even if you get lucky and happen to win the first time):

  • Escape from Mount Gram
  • Escape from Dol Guldur
  • Battle of the Five Armies
  • The Fortress of Nurn
  • Mount Doom

And here, if you are talking about a Step 7 MotK setup, I think the advantage shifts back to The One Deck. The One Deck also struggles with these 5 quests, but has better matchups against most of them.

  • For Dol Guldur, a non-MotK Vilya deck only has a 33% chance of Elrond getting taken rather than 50%.
  • For Five Armies, starting with Éowyn to get progress on the Battle quest greatly increases chance of success in a way that no MotK target can match.
  • For Fortress of Nurn, where a successful run pretty much depends on an early Firyal, a non-MotK deck running 3x Firyal will see ideal starts more frequently. A MotK Firyal deck with just 1x Firyal will see her in the 4-card deck only 8% of the time, and an early Vilya only in approximately half of those, so you are looking at only 1 in 20 starts being good. So even if you have a 50% chance of winning with an ideal start, it might only win once every 40 attempts or so.
  • For Mount Doom, being able to start with MotK Faramir makes this the one really difficult quest where MotK has the clear advantage. The win I got with The One Deck required getting lucky with drawing into an early Faramir.

I find this a pretty surprising result. A deck that outperforms The One Deck in nearly all quests except the most difficult ones. Naively I would've expected the increased win rate at easier quests to correlate with the challenging ones. But instead, the most difficult ones in general are also the ones that don't play nice with MotK.

Of course, with a Step 2 MotK setup, then I think the advantage goes back to the MotK deck not just the easy quest, but the hard ones as well.

This leads to some interesting questions about your objective of making a deck that can beat every quest and "will need as few attempts as possible for that undertaking". As in, if you drop your weakest card for a second Firyal, you would probably bump your success rate against Nurn from (roughly projected) 1/40 to 1/20. Would that extra Firyal lead to 20 extra losses elsewhere during the campaign? It doesn't seem like it would, and if this experiment were repeated many times it might actually lead to fewer total attempts just by improving the odds against that one quest.

Finally, thanks for taking the time to actually play through every quest. I know how it feels to be finally done with it! And thank you for your play reports. They will help me refine the Reduced Quest Gauntlet even more (the short list of quests that a deck needs to beat in order to have a good shot at beating them all).

Feb 15, 2021 ira212 210

Why do we do The One Ring and MotK setup in steap 7?! I realize Caleb ruled it that way, but why?!

That aside, it's interesting to see a slightly different take on a Vilya deck. The MotK Bilbo + Drinking Song is a great combination, and it's interesting to see 3x A Test of Will and 2x Hasty Stroke. I agree that taking attacks undefended is a powerful strategy that must be used sometimes, and Hasty Stroke makes that much more possible!

I think it feels pretty safe to say that Vilya decks are the most powerful One Deck options, but maybe I'm wrong. If anyone has a non-Vilya One Deck that they think can compete with Vilya-based One Decks, I'd be curious to see it! Maybe something with Bond of Friendship to help bring down the loss rate on quests that capture a hero? You might lose a few more quests here and there, but if you can beat Escape from Dol Guldur in ~5 tries on average, then that gives you a lot of wiggle room to improve elsewhere.

Feb 15, 2021 Seastan 31036

@ira212 After posting my comment about the 5 really troublesome quests, I started crafting a deck that would specifically excel at those ones, and my mind immediately went to Bond of Friendship as well.

While you give up a little consistency on most quests by losing MotK, my run with The One Deck has taught me that the vast, vast majority of quests will still be beaten in the first attempt with any serious deck candidate, even without having access to a flexible hero. So it seems like if you are trying to "optimize" the total number of attempts, the real thing to optimize is just the tiny number of quests that are requiring 10+ attempts on average. And BoF is a great matchup against the 5 quests I listed above.

But you made an assumption in your last paragraph that might limit you. Nothing is stopping you from having a Vilya deck that is also a Bond of Friendship deck! You do lose 1 copy of Vilya, though easy access to Steward might make up for it.

Feb 15, 2021 The Mormegil 1695

@doomguardIf you want to swapout Boromir, I would definitely take Giant Bear over Legolas since action advantage is what Boromir is here for. Warden of Healing and Arwen synergize very well with him, which is the main reason I took him over the bear.

@SeastanThank you for the time to write an extensive feedback and the many kind words :). I know your One Deck of course and really like it! The fact that you build it without having the last two cycles available makes it all the more impressive of course!

I agree with the 5 quests you outlined, these are among the 5 most difficult ones for any deck. There are one or two I would add to this list maybe (Blood of Gondor for sure although that one is quite similar to battle of the Five Armies in a lot of ways).

Now, one thing that can not be emphasized enough is that Vilya is certainly the most effective way to victory for this deck but not the only one. The "Vilya" package of the deck consists of only 11 cards (the 8 high cost allies, 3x Vilya), and the other 39 cards of the deck are generally very efficient and cheap.

Sure, some of these 39 have great synergy with Vilya (Wizard Pipe, Stargazer), but they are also just generally good with Gandalf even if Vilya is not out yet. Therefore you always have a plan b) which is the main reason why I decided to go against the blind Vilya approach.

You are very right in stating that MotK (when set up in step 7) is a disadvantage for some quests, so here is my opinion for these 5 quests.

  • The Battle of the Five Armies: One thing that helps massively with this quest is that Firyal can be your MotK and therefore Bolg is much less dangerous. I played Bot5A 5 times now with this deck overall and won 3 times. It is loosable but the winning percentage is quite decent. I prefer having a guaranteed Firyal to a third hero I have to say and I found all the cheap allies, which MotK allows you to run, proved to be invaluable to survive the early enemy swarm you are being subjected to.
  • Mount Doom is probably slightly easier than Bot5A, you do have a clear plan that does not always come off but should be enough to ensure victory a decent number of times.
  • Mount Gram is another quest where it really comes in handy that only a small portion of the deck is dedicated to the Vilya package since Vilya does not really work for this quest. It is still losable of course.
  • Escape from Dol Guldur: A quests where MotK (when being set up in step 7) can be a hinderence, because with Elrond captured your winning chances are very low. But it is again a quest where it is quite valuable that the flexibility provided by MotK frees up a lot of deckspace to be used for cheap and efficient cards which are extremely important against this quest. So while I agree that MotK (if you choose to set it up during step 7) is something that initially shifts the advantage to a three-hero Vilya deck, this advantage gets in my opinion mitigted by a MotK deck in large parts because the deck that MotK allows you to build has a lot of good answer cards against Escape that a deck which relies on a high "blind-Vilya-success-rate" probably can not afford to include.
  • Fortress of Nurn is the quest where I see a massive advantage with a non-MotK deck (again, if you choose to set it up on step 7). There are a lot of times where this quest is an instant scoop after setup with this deck. However why I think the winning percentage is still better than 1 in 40 is because a) you can win without Firyal (I nearly won with Arwen once for instance) and b) an early Vilya is not important. It is helpful, but I would rather see a few allies and a Healer in my opening hand than Vilya because again, very large parts of your deck do not rely on Vilya. Still, a loss is still very probable and I actually find your idea to take in a second Firyal absolutely fantastic because I agree that it would probably decrease the overall lost games of the deck when setting up MotK in step 7.

In conclusion, when playing Messenger of the King I only really find it to be a major disadvantage in Fortress of Nurn (and it is a sizeable disadvantage there). In quests like Mount Gram or Escape fro Dol Guldur, the card itself is a disadvantage, but the deck it allows you to play (in my opinion) counterbalances that disadvantage in large parts.

This is why I went with MotK, instead of a "normal" third hero (like Arwen), I ultimately only saw a major upside with the third-hero-route in Fortress of Nurn while MotK allowed me an advantage in most other quests.

Again, thanks a lot for the detailed feedback and the very nice remarks :)!

Feb 15, 2021 The Mormegil 1695

@ira212Thank you for your feedback!

@Seastan, @ira212that is very funny because I am also currently in the middle of trying to craft a Vilya/Bond of Friendship deck with an emphasis on beating Fortress of Nurn and Escape from DG as a potential alternative for a One Deck.

I completely agree with @Seastan that the decisive factor for a One Deck is mostly reliant on a very small number of quests

Feb 15, 2021 Seastan 31036

@The Mormegil That's a fair point about Bolg's effect in BoFA. Starting with Firyal does even the footing quite a bit.

But I think I still disagree about Dol Guldur and Escape From Mount Gram. Running a third hero seems clearly advantageous to me here.

For Dol Guldur, since you can only play 1 ally per round, Vilya doubles the expansion of your board state, so the deck that is able to get this going more quickly consistently is going to have the advantage I think. Having the third hero to decrease Elrond's capture rate is just one factor. Another major one is but not having to rely on Wizard Pipe or something else to set up Vilya, and not having a high-threat waste of space (since Gandalf is always captured in the ideal setup).

For Mount Gram, being able to find a second hero more quickly is incredible boost to the win rate. You basically win the moment you find the second hero. But besides that, when I read your successful play report (found Vilya, Steward, and Stargazer early and started playing allies from hand), it doesn't seem to benefit from MotK-style deck at all (in fact The One Deck runs all those cards, plus an extra Stargazer).

Feb 15, 2021 The Mormegil 1695

@Seastan Two very fair points, let's start with the easier one, Mount Gram. the decks have a very different route to victory. Your deck has a second hero it can find (at which point winning becomes easy) and my deck wins through a mixture of cheap allies, making Vilya work in the quest (due to Drinking Song being able to shuffe high-cost allies back) and getting Steward out. The routes to victory can be very dissimilar (they not always are as shown by my winning attempt) ,but I do not think that the success-rates are too much apart.

With Escape from Dol Guldur, your deck is somewhat tricky to compare to mine since they work so differently. Yours has the more reliable Vilya engine for sure, but apart from Vilya, your deck can throw very little against the quest (at least pre-Steward). My Vilya engine is far less reliable with a MotK setup in step 7 (due to the increased chance of Elrond being captured as well as having smaller chances on a blind Vilya hit), but I have a lot of cards that I can reliably play the normal way (as well as a chance on a well-working Vilya engine as well, despite it being lower).

I do not know which ultimately has the higher win percentage, since playthrough stats for Escape are always depending on catching a lucky break. One would need a very high number of sample games (or a way of setting the scenario up in a certain way and multiplying the win-percentage of the games with these constructed setups with the probability of these setup occuring for each deck) to come to a definitive conclusion.

Overall it would not surprise me if your deck has the higher winning percentage in Escape from DG, but I would be surprised if the margins between the two percentages would be high (in any direction).

Thank you for your remarks!!

Feb 15, 2021 ira212 210

@SeastanI think you misunderstood my suggestion re: Vilya. :) I'm a little bored of Vilya and wouldn't want to play all the quests in the game (or even the reduced quest gauntlet) with a Vilya deck, personally. I've played a good amount of Vilya already, and personally I didn't find it to be particularly high skill to play the top of my deck for free, especially when I can see it. :) That said, Mormegil (and you) have a lot more experience than me, so I could easily be wrong on that, and maybe I'm missing something about the skill required.

I think the greater skill is not in playing the deck, but in a) building the deck to have the right probabilities and tools, and b) having a deep knowledge of the quest. I realize that (b) can lead to playing the deck in a certain way, but that's not deck-specific playing skill and more quest-specific IMO.

Either way, I'd be interested in finding a One Deck that doesn't use Vilya at all. I saw your Dale Force Wins deck, which could be interesting. A non-Vilya "good stuff" deck with Bond of Friendship could be good. This one still used Elrond and Vilya though:

I've been enjoying the heroes-get-a-bunch-of-attachments archetypes that The Grey Wanderer and Forth, The Three Hunters! offers, but those aren't compatible with quests that capture heroes, so they're not great choices for One Decks. It might be sufficient to me to play One Deck sans Hero Capture, and be satisfied personally. :)

Finally, let's consider which One Deck is better, assuming (for easy math) there are 100 quests in the game.

Deck A: 90 quests: 1 try 10 hardest quests: 20 tries 290 tries total

Deck B: 50 quests: 1 try 40 quests: 2 tries 10 hardest quests: 10 tries 230 tries total

I feel like Deck A is probably "better" since it can beat 90% of the quests on the first try, and 10 tries for a hard quest is still a lot of tries for Deck B.

Basically, I think the scoring system shouldn't just be "fewest tries total," because they you end up making a change for 1-2 particular hard quests at the expensive of everything else. Yes, we want that balance to some extent, but I don't think it should be 1:1. Going from 50 tries to 40 tries is a really minor improvement for deck performance, but going from 11 tries to 1 try for a given quest is awesome.

So, I would propose scoring like this: 1 try: 10 points 2 tries: 5 points 3-5 tries: 4 points 6-10 tries: 3 points 11-20 tries: 2 points 21-100 tries: 1 point 101+ tries (but theoretically possible): 0 points, but still in the running for One Deck status

So if you improve your deck to taking 100 tries to 21 tries to complete a quest, that's irrelevant to me - you still have to play that quest 21 times to beat it, which is officially in the "unfun" range of number of replays (at least for me).

Using the scoring system above: Deck A: 90 quests: 1 try = 900 points 10 hardest quests: 20 tries = 200 points 1100 points total

Deck B: 50 quests: 1 try = 500 points 40 quests: 2 tries = 200 points 10 hardest quests: 10 tries = 300 points 1000 points total

Maybe it's silly to nit-pick this. :) Measuring total number of tries has some elegance, but I'm not sure it leads us in the right direction.

Thoughts welcome!

Feb 15, 2021 Seastan 31036

@The Mormegil Interesting. Just a couple more thoughts then I'll let it rest.

For Mount Gram, the Drinking Song thing is a good trick. The One Deck of course is 3 years old now and did not have access to this, but it could certainly run a 1x of it without hurting its main objective.

For Dol Guldur, I think The One Deck's strength apart from Vilya is being underestimated. If Eowyn is captured, you still have Arwen to give an extra resource to Elrond each round, so the lack of cheap cards is not a problem since you still can keep playing expensive allies. In the event that Arwen is captive, Elrond+Eowyn can still afford a big neutral or tactics ally every other round, of which there are several, and Eowyn's ability to clear out an early (or two) enemy cannot be overlooked for this scenario.

Regarding the blind Vilya: I think this is a pretty big deal here. Only about 9 or 10 cards in the MotK deck (20%) seem to be worth Elrond's turn 1 exhaust. And wasting that action against Dol Guldur is probably enough to cause a loss. So do you even use Vilya against Dol Guldur in the early game with this deck? Because it looks to be a death sentence.

So it seems like finding a Stargazer early is a must for the MotK deck, and looking at your log, that seems to be the key ingredient in your successful attempt. But this being a key card makes the probabilities look even worse compared to blind Vilya. Apart from Vilya (which both decks need), a favorable setup for the MotK deck needs Elrond to not be captured (50%) plus an early stargazer (probably around 40% when you factor in the great card draw) for a total favorable setup rate of about 20% compared to the blind Vilya's 66% (Elrond not captured). So while whichever deck is better tuned once a favorable setup is obtained might be too close to call, the large gap in favorable setup probabilities makes it no contest IMO.

Feb 15, 2021 Seastan 31036

@ira212 Have you seen Jban's non-Vilya deck?

I have another one (same lineup as Jban's actually, though the rest is very different) that doesn't run Vilya, though I never published it. So it's certainly possible.

Regarding the formula for "best deck": It's pretty hard because for any serious One Deck candidate, 90% of the quests will be easily beaten in 1 attempt. So even with a point system for losses you don't capture what you set out to do, namely have a ranking for which deck is "better" against most quests.

Feb 15, 2021 ira212 210

@SeastanThanks for the deck link - I hadn't seen that one! It's good inspiration. And I didn't know that Mariner's Compass would release Guarded cards, so that seems really great for getting all the Guarded player cards into play reliably. Obviously they are much more playable in multiplayer than solo, but I'm always tempted to include them in solo decks too. :)

Also, good point re: most quests being beaten in 1 attempt. So, I guess I'll just focus on the Power Deck Score and Reduced Quest Gauntlet as a way of comparing the strongest decks apples-to-apples! Thanks! (

Feb 15, 2021 The Mormegil 1695

@SeastanThank you for further replying, here are my finishing thoughts to go along with yours on the subject.

Ultimately, we tend to focus on the very few things we do not 100% agree upon (compared to the overwhelming majority of points we do agree with each other) since it naturally fuels discussion very well.

After our discussion above, I think we mostly see eye to eye on 121 of 121 quests with a MotK setup in step 2 and also on 120 of 121 quests with a MotK setup in step 7.

About that elusive last quest, upon reading my above comment, I definitely understated your decks capabilites without Vilya somewhat, apologies for that, they are certainly present which I fully recognize!

I also think that your assessment concerning this decks performace against Escape from DG is maybe a little too focused on the ideal scenario being the only winnable one; (the action-advantage cards that compensate for even a missed Vilya, LoV especially, the free card draw that makes you see Vilya/other key cards consistently early, the high amounts of cancels, the fact that a turn one or two Vilya is good but not always needed tempowise, not seeing Stargazer being survivable etc.) ... those are things I really value about the deck that can lead it to winning even if you don't get the perfect start in my view..

Overall, in almost all cases we seem to agree (which is always very nice) and the very few points that we judge a little differently served to created an interesting discussion about the game. So thank you for the civil and insightful exchange and I look forward discussing future decks with you ;).

Feb 16, 2021 AJ_800 259

@The Mormegil

Wow, this is amazing. I have read the entire write-up and quest log. This is further inspiration for me to push ahead with testing my own deck and seeing how the results compare.

Thank you for the huge amount of detail, and for sharing your insights and strategies, I will be studying this along with Seastan's writings.

P.S. Your English vocabularly and grammer is better than mine... and I am from England. So no need to apologise about any language issues!

Feb 16, 2021 AJ_800 259

@Seastan @The Mormegil

Thank you both for the inspiration and guidance that you provide to relatively new players. I enjoy reading the information that you publish and learning from your experience.

I also appreciate the fact that the LOTR community seems to have a remarkably positive attitude. In other communities, minor disagreements lead to flame wars, but in the LOTR community there are many good examples of amicable discussion and agreements to disagree.

Feb 17, 2021 The Mormegil 1695

@AJ_800Thank you for your many kind words, especially concerning my language and the deck! I was helped a lot by more experienced players when I got into the game, so I am happy to return the favor! Your point on the culture and quality of discussion is one I absolutely agree with, I really enjoy the fact that there is as good as no toxicity in this community (even in disagreement).

I wish you the best of luck with your testing and am excited to see what insights and results you come up with!

Feb 19, 2021 Rajam 117

This deck looks great and I'll definitely want to give it a try at some point. Question: in those quests in which you have to use ally-objective Arwen, Faramir, Bilbo, etc. do you use sideboard, or simply treat the respective player cards in your hand as dead?

Feb 19, 2021 The Mormegil 1695

@RajamI just treat them as dead, part of the challenge was not to use a sideboard under any circumstance. It is not illegal to have these allies in your deck, it is just illegal to play them. Cards that are illegal for some quests (e.g. Saruman or The One Ring) therefore are not in the deck :).

Feb 23, 2021 Yepesnopes 1105

I see that you have beaten A Journey to Rhosgobel Nightmare on the first attempt. Knowing this quest and seeing the cards in your deck it strikes me as a very random thing that you beat it in 1 attempt. I would guess that your deck, with zero ranged characters and only two healers, will fail more often than not in this quest, unless you were so lucky as to draw one or two Athelas very quickly and then quest very fast through the quest. May be you can comment which is your strategy in this quest to beat it consistently?

Feb 23, 2021 doomguard 1008

with (MotK) Firyal its easy in soloplay to avoid the enemys that must be defended with ranged.

Feb 23, 2021 Yepesnopes 1105

I have played this quest solo many times, and many with MotK Firyal. Firyal will for sure avoid some of the creatures. Yet, in my experience, it can hardly avoid all of them. Then, you still have to find one or more Athelas, depending on how many wounds Wilyador has. Given that in solo you only draw one encounter card per turn, unless you are very very lucky, you are going to need many rounds to find one, not to speak two. Under such scenario, this deck has by no means enough healing cards neither location control to consistently beat A Journey to Rhosgobel. I do not put in doubt that the deck can beat it, for sure it can. What I think is that it is far more a matter of luck with the encounter card drawing than the merit of the deck or the player skill. I may of course be wrong...

Feb 23, 2021 Seastan 31036

@Yepesnopes The trick is to get out the Rhovanion Outrider asap by mulliganing for it or using Drinking Songs to find it. Then, after Rhosgobel is cleared, you can stay is stage 1 and keep Wilyador and everyone else alive with Elrond and your Wardens of Healing until you find enough Athelas. This is the same strategy I used for the One Deck (except I used Northern Tracker). He discusses it in the play report file he linked.

Feb 23, 2021 Rouxxor 1380

Yes. It is a well known tricto cheat with the no-heal condition of the scenario ^^.

Feb 23, 2021 Yepesnopes 1105

Yes, that is how I beat the scenario, although I use Asfaloth. I did not think that the deck can take the 4 rounds you need to clean Rhosgobel with the Outrider, but if three people say so...

Feb 23, 2021 Seastan 31036

@Yepesnopes Well Wilyador is not likely to die in 4 rounds, and once your healing is online you can take your time to find as much Athelas as you need.

Feb 24, 2021 The Purple Wizard 909

Just found @Rouxxor's deck and that led me here. Commenting here because this deck doesn't run The One Ring (of which I am NOT a fan) but I'd love to hear from both of you.

I just about never play solo. Even when I'm playing on my own I typically play with 2-4 decks. So I'm wondering what changes you guys might make to this deck if you were planning on bringing it to a convention, or a game night where you didn't know the decks others were bringing. Obviously it takes up a lot of space with regards to unique cards, but I'm not thinking about that so much as I am about cards that do/don't make sense in multiplayer. Would you swap out Henamarth for Northern Trackers or more Outriders, for instance? Maybe swap a copy of Shadowfax for one of the UC because Ranged/Sentinel means something now?

Curious to hear your thoughts. :)

Feb 24, 2021 Yepesnopes 1105

I have so far played 3 times and give up the three of them by turn 5 as I was not able to find the one single Outrider. I mulligan for it, draw cards with Gandalf's staff, look my deck with the Stargazer, reshuffle my deck whenever I can, use drinking song, so far nothing in my 3 attempts. Since I cannot deal with the orc neither (`@Seastanthis does not happen with your One deck because you have Eowyn, big big difference in general), by turn 5 Wilyador had 14 wounds. I will keep trying, but indeed it points out that with this deck it is more a matter of luck than something else. I'll keep trying, 3 attempts is hardly any statistics :)

Feb 24, 2021 doomguard 1008

@Yepesnopesi would give it about 50/50 to find him in the first 2 rounds. 3 runes (that can be played from the top if appear) 3 drinking songs and some perhaps possibilities (staff, stargazer, gildor) lead me to this. 3 times not get it is about 12,5 % if the 50/50 is correct. not sooo unrealistic.

50/50 i would call, needs a bit luck, but not massive.

Feb 24, 2021 The Mormegil 1695

@Yepesnopes Seastan, Rouxxor and Doomguard already outlined your correct strategy for the quest.

Sure, there are instances in which the Outrider cannot be found however the deck is really built to go through a lot of cards (you already pointed out some ways to do that but there are others as well, Vilya and Gandalf both thin your decks, MotK as well, The Pipe, every card that is played from the top means you are one card closer to the Outrider, Gildor) so this should not happen all too often.

Also, I am a little surprised you have trouble defeating the Orc ... I often just quest very lightly or not at all in the opening round of Journey so I can defeat it and this is something that should be possible quite consistently, Outrider or not. Maybe I got lucky on my attempts and sure, a level of luck is always involved in finding the Outrider in time but I overall found the quest quite manageable.

@The Purple WizardHard to answer. Depending on player-count, my Vilya decks tend to change a lot. If you want to change just a few cards, in 2p I might include some ranged over someone like Gildor, I might add Shadowfax, depending on the other decks I might remove Steward (especially in 3 or 4 players where games tend to have fewer rounds) etc. ... in 3p/4p, I would make even more changes in addition to the ones mentioned, cards like Grim Resolve start to look very appealing for instance. Also, I maybe would consider Gather Information and Double Back.

But it is hard to say since my Vilya decks for 3p or 4p tend to be much more focussed on a specific role than in 1 or 2 players where I tend to build more versatile but less specific ... it also really comes down to how your group operates, if you just play and everybody brings a deck or if there is some communication going on. I think that even with few to no changes, you should be able to pull your weight quite well in MP with this deck no matter what, however I find it a little hard to make many substential card suggestions (besides the one above) because in multiplayer it always depends on your group.

Feb 24, 2021 The Mormegil 1695

@The Purple Wizard I just reread your comment and yes, Northern Tracker is definitely also a great include (in 3p/4p especially of course), I missed that in my suggestions above!

Feb 24, 2021 doomguard 1008

in multiplayer i would at least replace 2 Steward of Gondor and 1 Henamarth Riversong for 3 Zigil Miner so that another deck can take the steward and build a powerfull deck too.

then replace 1 light with shadowfax.

thats the minimum. i like the outrider and would max them have to figure out what other 2 allies have to go. i think 2 Envoy of Pelargir

in multiplayer you might have to replace arwen or boromir, they are often chosen heroes. (so put in a legolas for boromir and a Galadriel's Handmaiden in your sideboard)

at all i would not recommand a gandalf-elrond-deck for 3-4 pl, either the others are beginners. the ore players are there the more needs their gandalf-ally. replacing gandalf with (MotK) Gildor Inglorion and choose arwen as 3. hero makes it a little less might but gives much ore options for the other players. (and for vilya, this version is better than a gandalf without motkgildor, but only for vilya, you loose gandalfs abilitie, that is at all very powerfull)

Feb 24, 2021 Yepesnopes 1105

@The MormegilHow you deal with the orc in turn 1? To be able to do so with this deck, one must quest with no one and put in play two allies (1 to chump block and 1 to attack), or one ally and one unexpected courage. The orc needs a combined 8 axes to be killed, 3 from Gandalf, + 2 from Erlond, +1 from Firyal, + 1 from Wilyador amounts for 7, 1 is still missing. Also, not questing with Firyal may end up bad real quick for the future strategy of not engaging any creature that needs Ranged to be defended and/ or killed. Therefore, if Firyal has to quest, that means that one of the two allies has to have at least 2 axes.

Feb 24, 2021 The Purple Wizard 909

@The MormegilI usually build my multiplayer decks with a 5-10 card sideboard, so I can easily swap something in to cover unique conflicts. Thinking it through further, I think my core question is "which cards would you REMOVE from this if you knew you were playing a multiplayer game?" Henamarth seems the obvious one, unless you would keep one of them. I can see your point for Gildor. Any others? Steward and LoV are both popular cards so I'd at least have sideboard replacements ready for them, but I'd keep them in until I knew someone else was playing them.

@doomguardSounds like you would keep one Henamarth in multiplayer? What's your reasoning for that? I don't have a problem having a Gandalf deck prepared for a 3 or 4 player game, so long as I'm not demanding we play with it. Enough decks play without him that there would be times this could see play without it being an issue. As long as you have a few cards you can swap in for any unique conflicts among the allies and attachments you're fine, wherever the conflicts may lie.

I'm in the process of printing off alt-art decks for some permanently-built decks, and was thinking of doing one with a hero lineup like this, hence my questions. :)

Feb 25, 2021 doomguard 1008

@The Purple Wizardhenemarth has solid 1/1 for cost of 1. why not keep1? not all allys come from vilya, and 1/1 for 1cost would do every day.

and i wrote, "at least". perhaps a Dwarven Tomb (recycle A Test of Will or Elrond's Counsel does more than a henemarth, but that would not change much at all, more a question of "taste"

Feb 25, 2021 The Mormegil 1695

@YepesnopesI was cconfused about you answer and checked my previous post, I forgot to add the "s" after rounds which explaines the confusion, I'm sorry :D ... I was not talking about the first round but the first rounds ... in round 1 it is possible but quite unlikely (Vilya/Beorn works for example as does Envoy/Envoy/Henamarth or Vilya/Boromir/Envoy ... so very low chances overall) ... however a kill in round 2 or 3 is quite common. And yes, Firyal usually quests no matter what but there can be exceptions (some Henamarth scouting revealing not a creature for instance).

@The Purple Wizard I would remove at least one Henamarth, Gildor, these would be the first cards Iwould cut in mp. Stewards and Lights if other people play them (since they are great but not absolutely essentiell for the deck to function), depending on the quest maybe Elfhelm or the Outrider or some Greetings would all be cards I would at least bring sideboard replacements for. Quite a few cards i general relate to a specific challenge (like Greeting/threat or Hasty Stroke/nasty Shadows) so if they are not needed for the quest you are playing they should be replaced (if you are playing outside of a one-deck-context at least).

Sep 20, 2021 Seastan 31036

Question about Escape from Mount Gram. Your document says that your winning attempt involved having Vilya in your opening hand. But shouldn't Vilya, being an Artifact, be part of the capture deck?

Oct 13, 2021 The Mormegil 1695

A very good point, thank you for pointing this out to me. I mixed up the rules of the capture deck, thinking it was only Items, Mounts and allies (as is the criteria for e.g. Dunland Trap), but it specifically targets artifacts as well so my bad.

I have replayed the scenario and managed to succed with the following route: Elrond as starting hero, starting hand Greeting, Drinking Song, Steward.

1st turn draw LoV reveal Sound the Alarm into Goblin Tormentor, travel to Prison Cell.

2nd turn draw UC, use Prison Cell into Arwen, play her, reveal Torture Chamber into Feeble and Weary, quest through Prison Cell with Elrond/Arwen, rescue Wizard Pipe and Henamarth, travel to Torture Chamber.

3rd turn draw SoG, play Henamarth, reveal Prison Cell, clear Torture Chamber, rescue Beorn, travel to Prison Cell.

4th turn draw Counsel, rescue Vilya from Prison Cell, play Vilya+LoV, use the Drinking Song I saved to return my hand to deck. From then on, I was able to build slowly but steadily, success after turn 20. Threat became an issue after rescuing Gandalf, so keeping your Greetings (even though they do not seem to be important early on) is something to consider.

Overall, the quest is much more difficult with Vilya in the Capture deck of course, I would probably put in 3rd in difficulty behind Nurn and Escape from DG. You still have the advatage of some cheap allies in the capture deck (2nd turn Arwen was definitely the key to victory), but if the first few cards you rescue are Gandalf's toys/combat-oriented allies coupled with encounter cards that have at least 2 threat, you can get threat-locked relatively easily. Success seems to be quite luck-based on your reveals/rescues during the first 3-4 turns.

Oct 22, 2021 Imrahil13 459

@The Mormegil -- sorry, another question. Hopefully they're not too annoying, but I've been really enjoy diving into your deck and getting a better appreciation for all that it can do on the table.

In addition to Return to Mirkwood, I've always really struggled with NM Shadow & Flame. Your reports indicate clearing it in one and giving it a "B" difficulty rating, and you note to aim for Bilbo or Arwen via MotK.

Did you play NM S&F with a Step 2 or Step 7 contract set-up? I've been doing it as per the official ruling in Step 7, which means (unforunately), that you have to raise your threat after Quest Set-Up, so you're starting at 4 or 5 threat (instead of 0). This means that, in order to avoid a Round 1 engagement with the Balrog, you need to manage to pull off GG via Vilya OR two copies of Elrond's Counsel. Neither are impossible, but both are pretty tough to achieve, and even when it can be managed, there's still a chance to fail R1 questing and end up engaged (e.g. getting the R1 GG often comes at the cost of building a better boardstate / questing capability).


Oct 26, 2021 The Mormegil 1695

@Imrahil13 I was away at the Lure for a few days and had quite a bit of RL stuff to do so sorry for my late reply. Also, thank you very much for your interest in the deck! Here my thoughts on the two quest you spoke about ...

Nm Return to Mirkwood: I tried this quest 5 times today with 4 games ending in victory. I am curious why you have such a hard time with the quest to be honest. You mentioned early enemies being a problem and yes, that can be problematic but you also have quite a few answers I find. I have posted y playthroughs belowif you are interested and some of them feature early turn enemies. Maybe they help :).

I am relatively new to DragnCards so some things were probably a bit confusing and some triggers (e.g. Gollum) I sometimes noticed a little bit later than I should have ... but I think I overall played correctly. There was one small mistake in the first game (Gollum should have had one more damage) but that did not effect the outcome in any way.

Nm Shadow and Flame: I think the rules work different in that case but because the current setup rulings are sooo messy, I would not be surprised if I am wrong or if there is no clear official answer. Your initial starting threat is determined during step 2 of setup and 27 for this deck (14+13). Quest 1B sets your threat to 0 (not your starting threat, that is still 27). You now have a starting threat of 27 and a threat of 0. MotK however specifically targets your staring threat (27), not the 0. Compare that to Aragorn; you reset your threat with him to your starting threat, anything that happens during setup (e.g. Eowyn, Quest card effects) do not change that value.

This is one of the reasons (among others) why I am not in favour of the step 7 setup ruling since there are quite a few cards that trigger after the event for which their trigger would matter occur. Because as it stands, MotK would technically not raise your actual threat at all since your threat at the end of step 7 is clearly something different than your starting threat (again, compare to Aragorn) and therefore not targeted by it. It is not unsimilar to Gandalf's Delay: By the time Gandalf's Delay triggers, your starting hand is already drawn so its effect is nonsensical.

Now, that is of course not the intention of the card and I don't think anyone plays Gandalf's Delay as it actually would work. This is also how I approached it for MotK; I raised my threat during my playthrough since that is claerly the intented effect, even though the card under the current ruling does not require it (in fact under the current effect, that part of MotK has no effect at all I can think of unless you run Aragorn). So I basically recalculated step 2 during step 7, since getting any ally as a hero for 0 cost in any quest (save Mount Gram) was clearly not intended.

Maybe this helps with your problems with Nm Shadow and Flame! Because since you do start at 0, have 6 cards that lower your threat and Hasty Strokes (which make the Balrog far less menacing), I found this quest to be quite manageable.

Oct 27, 2021 Imrahil13 459

@The Mormegil

Thanks for the response, appreciate it!

That's a really interesting point about the definition of starting Threat... hadn't even occured to me in that context but you may be correct that your "starting threat" is altered to +4 but that your dial remains at 0 (which could have relevance for a deck with Lore Aragorn, say). If that's the case, then yea The Ultimate Solo deck should be able to turn Shadow and Flame into a stroll in the park most of the time, since it becomes pretty trivial to remain at 0 Threat while a boardstate is built up.

Thanks for your Return to Mirkwood efforts, I watched a couple of them. Really impressive you were able to secure 4/5 wins. My own efforts only netted 2/8 wins against NM RtM, so either Sauron and his Encounter Deck really hate me or I am just a bad Vilya player (though I pretty attentively watched for Gandalf-opportunities every phase and generally seemed to make comparable Vilya choices to your own playstyle).

Either way, it was nice to watch your deck in the hands of the master, and it's always satisfying to see the Encounter Deck get defeated in NM RtM!

Oct 27, 2021 The Mormegil 1695

@Imrahil13 Hahaha I agree, Return to Mirkwood is definitely one of these quests where you just enjoy the encounter deck losing. The key is to know which cards would negatively impact your position and tempo at any given point the most and to adjust your playing decisions accordingly.

This quest is definitely one of the reasons why I run Henamarth twice in the deck, he is one of my highest priorities in Return. Because for all the terrible cards in the encounter deck, you have an answer to them (in most situations at least). And if you can see what is coming , the sheer number of cards you get access to (through Gandalf, 0-cost-events, Drinking Song, Stargazer, Pipe, Vilya, Staff etc.) means you are often able to prepare quite well. Not always though, as also showcased in my second (the losing) playthrough.

I am really glad that you seem to be interested in the deck! I tried out your "Bearst Deck" recently (not against Return though) and had a great time with it, so I am glad to at least somewhat return the favour :).