The Ring Goes South - Trap Deck - Specialist Deck Series

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The Ring Goes South - Specialist Deck Series
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This deck is one of two that form the Fellowship for tackling The Ring Goes South from my Specialist Deck Series. While I would expect the deck to function okay by itself, there are a couple of cards which won't work (or won't work well) in a solo environment. Notably, Bard the Bowman is pretty much wasted while playing solo.

The deck is primarily a trap deck, which also features some location management and a few other ways to handle enemies.

As a trap deck, Damrod is an easy first choice for a hero. He provides card draw and (effectively) resource acceleration as long as we keep playing traps. There are 12 in the deck, so we will hope to see at least two in the first few turns and they should help us draw into additional traps. The key trap is Ranger Spikes. In this quest, a spiked enemy is permanently removed as a problem for the rest of the quest. Also, since they are stranded in the staging area we also avoid adding damage to locations due to engagement.

Next I looked for a ranged hero in . There are actually fewer in this category than I thought (only 4), and of these Bard the Bowman felt the best for what I wanted as he makes the strongest ranged attacks (accounting for his ability). He's also just fine as a quester or defender, but hopefully there will be no need for that.

Finally to round out the heroes I chose Gríma. Between his cost reduction and Damrod's, we hopefully will have some explosive starts. The threat is not too much of a concern in this quest, but we also have a few threat reduction effects just in case. The impact on enemy engagements should be mitigated by our traps. The partner deck features , so the threat will be manageable there as well. Later in the game, if threat becomes an issue we should be doing well enough to stop using the ability.

I'll briefly mention the partner deck - it is a and deck featuring Aragorn, Arwen Undómiel and Elfhelm as heroes. That deck should do a lot of heavy lifting in questing and defending. We are also including a few mounts to take advantage of Elfhelm's stat boosts.

The final element of this deck worth mentioning is some location control effects. We have Mirkwood Explorer, Meneldor, Arod, Asfaloth (played on Arwen in the partner deck) and Strider's Path. The idea behind these elements is that they potentially allow us to explore locations in one go (by themselves or in combination), before they have had the opportunity to accrue damage, meaning we can dodge the negative effects and take a lot of the bite out of this quest. Because we are always forced to travel, it's possible in two-player that locations do not linger very long in the staging area, and so incremental progress like Northern Tracker doesn't necessarily do what we want.

The deck in detail:

Anborn - Handy for re-using our traps and his 3 is very nice as well. Not a key piece of our deck which is why there is only one copy, but we won't be sad to see him. Our best trap Ranger Spikes will stay in play ideally, but there are effects that discard attachments and cards from hand, so lots of opportunity to use him potentially. Reusing the same traps for more card draw is very satisfying.

Firyal - As ever, an excellent questing ally. Now that we are playing with two decks she is not quite as strong since we still only have control over the first encounter card. Still, the ability is absolutely worth it. She is expensive and also not fundamental to our strategy so only one copy.

Gandalf - No particular synergies with our deck, just a strong and versatile card. Any of his abilities could be useful to us. We might also have spare Fellowship resources to spend and Gandalf is an excellent way to do so.

Gléowine - We have a few other card draw effects, but we'll always be happy to see another. Not a critical ally as we hope to see plenty of cards thanks to Damrod's ability.

Honour Guard - There are a few hard-hitting enemies and we don't have the most robust defenders (in either deck really), so a little extra help in that regard is welcome. There's some overlap in functionality with the Wardens, so in my mind they are taking up slots 4 & 5 for healing.

Legolas - An excellent attacker for . Again, extra card draw is always welcome and Legolas will usually find a place in a deck. We do already have Bard for a lot of our attacking needs, so not essential that we see him.

Meneldor - A handy quester in . One reason he's here is to help out with our location management strategy. Depending on the situation, he can put 4 progress on a location in one turn (enter play and e.g. chump blocking), which is enough to clear some of the locations in the encounter deck. Otherwise, we can use him in combination with our other progress placing effects.

Mirkwood Explorer - One of our key location management cards. A reliable quester whose ability will allow us to occasionally clear a location in one go. Damage can be added to locations both before and after the travel phase, so some judgement is required to decide which locations to explore and when. If we can use the effect to prevent having to travel at all, that's great, although not always possible in two-player. Usually better to build up 4 or 5 tokens and use them all in one go to be more action efficient, but if other cards like Asfaloth are available to help out we could use him more often. Also not bad in multiples if we see them.

Quickbeam - Quickbeam is just a very efficient ally and we can use him for both attacking and questing.

Warden of Healing - This quest throws quite a few enemies at us, and while we hope our traps will help a lot with that, it's inevitable that we take some damage. The wardens will help us to keep characters in the fight and hopefully we won't have to resort to chump blocking, at least until the Watcher shows up.

Ambush - The first of our trap cards. The effectiveness of this is dependent both on our board state and which enemy it ends up attaching to, more so than the others I think. Sadly it doesn't prevent engagements and adding damage to the active location. Still, it should take pressure off our defending characters. Worth mentioning here that neither of the big enemies (Watcher in the Water & Great Warg Chief) can be trapped, so our trap strategy will be about minimising the impact of all the others.

Arod - Arod is here to play into our location control strategy. Unfortunately he can only add one progress per turn, so will most likely need help from other cards to be effective. Possible to trigger during staging in combination with Hands Upon the Bow if an opportunity presents itself. As a mount, we also get an bonus from Elfhelm in the partner deck if played on Bard, although we also have the option of playing on Aragorn if we want the boost more.

Asfaloth - Much like Arod, Asfaloth is both a location control card (Asfaloth is a little more flexible in this regard) and a mount. However, he can only be played on Arwen in the partner deck.

Entangling Nets - One of our core traps and one that has a strong impact on combat. All of the enemies which this can attach to become pretty trivial as threats, although sadly this has no impact on engagement. Probably the trap most likely to be recurred using Anborn if we get to play him.

Fellowship of the Ring - We have a Ring-bearer so we might as well use him. On any given turn we are likely questing with 4 or 5 heroes so this presents a sizeable boost, and we can play it turn one thanks to Frodo Baggins' ability. This is one of the reasons to play Warden of Healing and Honour Guard as well.

Forest Snare - A strong card which is much more attractive to play with Damrod on the table. Short of an attachment discard effect, this permanently neutralises an enemy, although again, no help with engagements.

Keys of Orthanc - Effectively doubles the potency of Grima's ability (nothing in the encounter deck will trigger it). Can be used to help us play our more expensive allies. Note that this can be played on any hero, even from the partner deck, so the target should be chosen based on the board state at the time.

Outmatched - Another handy trap. In the early game this can do a lot to help with combat. We don't really have a dedicated defender, but this would allow, say, Bard to defend, ready, and then attack back. Being able to get two actions out of Gandalf with this would be very valuable. Also of note, this effect also works with Sentinel, so if the partner deck defends for this one with Aragorn, he would also get to ready.

Ranger Spikes - One of the deck's key pieces. Enemies with this trap attached will never engage either player unless we want them to and the eligible Warg enemies will be reduced to 0 . Crucially, this stops the damage from engagement being added to the active location. As a bonus, if the encounter discard is shuffled back into the encounter deck, there will be fewer enemies coming back out.

Rohan Warhorse - Another card which plays into the Mount theme supported by our partner deck. This is an attractive attachment for Bard as with the mount boost he can one shot all the non-unique enemies with Ranged attacks (and put a big dent in the Great Warg Chief). We could also play it on Grima, but I don't think we want to.

Woodmen's Clearing - We have a little bit of threat reduction to help counter the Doomed caused by Grima. Depending on how the quest goes, we may also have pressure put on our threat from the Hills of Hollin location, so this is a nice insurance against that.

Daeron's Runes - As ever, this is a vital card for optimising the performance of our deck. We can even get extra value if we are lucky enough to have Anborn available and we can discard a trap.

Feint - As mentioned above, we are a little light on the defence front, so this can get us out of a bind. We really want to have this in hand when Great Warg Chief appears.

Hands Upon the Bow - This is another way to prevent enemies engaging us and having damage placed on the active location. Bard or Legolas can one-shot most of the enemies with this and it's possible to kill even Howling Warg if we manage to trap it with Entangling Nets.

Strider's Path - Our final card is another location management solution. There are a couple of ways to use it. Firstly, if a very bad location is revealed, we can immediately travel there to prevent the encounter deck having the opportunity to place damage on it - Eregion, which causes allies to be discarded, is a good target. Similarly, if we have an active location with lots of damage, we can swap it out for a new location to dodge its effects. Depending on the encounter draws, this might allow us to avoid it for several turns, or potentially the whole game.