The Road to Isengard - Dain Deck - Specialist Deck Series

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The Road to Isengard - Specialist Deck Series
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This deck is one of two that make up the Fellowship designed to beat The Road to Isengard for my Specialist Deck Series. This deck forms the core of the Fellowship with Dáin Ironfoot at the centre. It also includes the majority of supporting cards for the Dwarf archetype.

Dáin is probably still the best reason to play Dwarves, his ability is so powerful and turns Dwarf allies from average to exceptional. In this quest Dáin also serves a special purpose - to supercharge our ability to gain the Ent allies thanks to his boost. Just be wary of the effect that exhausts and blanks damaged characters. That could be disastrous if it affects Dáin at the wrong time.

The importance of high also drives the next hero choice in Thorin Oakenshield who will boast an incredible 4 thanks to Dáin. His resource generating ability is also very welcome and we'll aim to get it online by turn 3 at the latest.

Ori rounds out the hero choices. He's a natural companion to Thorin since they both want 5 Dwarves on the table. The nature of the card draw is particularly useful in this quest since it won't result in any extra attacks from Saruman in Stage 3.

So the deck plays like a standard Dwarf swarming deck, aiming to get allies on the table and use our massive to beat the quest. The attachments included can be played for the benefit of the partner deck depending on the situation.

We also have a few side quests to take advantage of in Stage 2, where we don't need any progress on the quest.

A note about the card choices - this is a dwarf swarm deck, so naturally we want a lot of Dwarf allies and ideally they will be inexpensive to play. It should go without saying that being a cheap dwarf is basically reason enough to make the cut, especially since there are not that many to choose from. I also won't discuss the relative value including Dáin's boost. In the quest phase at least, it's assumed that Dáin will be ready.

Onto card specifics:

Bifur - I'm a big fan of Bifur. He starts with reasonable if unexciting stats for his cost and adds on two free cards. Despite his stat line, I wouldn't be afraid to quest with him - we should have some Ents to make up for the lost power. He's only here as a one of, in part for resource balancing considerations.

Dori - At a glance you might mistake this for the previous card, since Dori's cost and stats are identical to Bifur's. Dori is a little bit worse than Bifur, but his ability can come in handy in this quest, especially because there is a shadow card that makes an attack become undefended. For that reason I would tend to favour keeping Dori ready instead of questing with him, especially since he's a good attacker.

Dwarven Sellsword - This guy packs quite a punch for his cost. The downside is very real, but it can be worth it early in the game when we likely need a quick boost. The Sellsword is one of the ways we can quickly get Ori and Thorin's abilities online, which can definitely be worth it. We will need to make a judgement call each round if it's worth it to pay his upkeep. There's a lot of direct damage in this quest, so he is a nice way to soak up a few points once we're ready to let him go.

Erebor Hammersmith - This is another Dwarf that offers great value for his cost. In our deck we can easily end up with an attachment in the discard thanks to cards like A Very Good Tale and he'll help us fish them out. The partner deck also has a number of attachments that could easily be targets for his ability.

Erebor Record Keeper - This guy is incredible value. He is tied for our cheapest Dwarf and if we have a few resources spare we can get some good action advantage out of it.

Ered Luin Miner - We definitely want to get this guy for free, which we can achieve with King Under the Mountain and A Very Good Tale. Similarly, he makes a great ally to exhaust to pay for AVGT's cost. He's not a total waste if we have to play from hand, since he's a bit easier to pay for thanks to being neutral.

Ered Nimrais Prospector - I would generally not bother using this guys ability and just keep him for questing. However, every now and then an opportunity will come up where he can give us a little extra value.

Gandalf - Our only non-Dwarf ally. His value, particularly alongside Sneak Attack, is worth diluting our deck I think. I usually default to drawing cards, but there can be ample opportunity for his other options in this quest. Don't forget that we can use him with A Very Good Tale in the refresh phase before he gets discarded.

Glóin - Another Dwarf ally with good stats. He's in 3 times because he can ehlp with smoothing our resources. Not only that, but if we have a surplus we can help out the Partner deck as well.

Longbeard Elder - Nothing much to say about this guy, he's just a solid questing ally. I'm not sure I've ever triggered his ability, on balance I think it's not worth it.

King Under the Mountain - One of the advantages of playing Dwarves is that they come with some excellent toys. This is a top-tier card drawing effect. While we could donate it to the Partner deck, I'd favour sticking with our heroes since we might be able to grab Ered Luin Miner for free. Also worth noting that this isn't technically card draw, which means it doesn't trigger the effect on Saruman's Staff.

Legacy of Durin - Another fantastic card for Dwarves. More card draw keeps the swarm coming. Depending on when we draw this I would consider playing on one of the Partner deck's heroes, they don't have as much card draw. Unlike King Under the Mountain, this does cause Saruman to attack, so I'd stop using it in Stage 3.

Steward of Gondor - A staple, good resource generation is as important in ally swarm decks as anywhere. Again, depending on the time drawn we can consider giving this to the partner deck. Óin gets the extra resource icon so is a particularly good recipient.

A Very Good Tale - This is the card that changes ally based decks from strong to ridiculous. Thanks to the various costs of our allies, we can be reasonably confident of getting 2 in play for free. I'm repeating here, but this works especially well with both Ered Luin Miner and Gandalf. As a note, the deck is skewing a little light on allies and generally I'd prefer a few more to maximise the potential of AVGT. However, we wanted some room for the supporting cards. I think it still works well enough as it is.

Daeron's Runes - Free card draw, this will never not be good in decks. We can discard an attachment if we have Erebor Hammersmith in hand to get it back for some extra value.

Lure of Moria - This is a very powerful effect and can give us incredibly good turns. In this quest for instance, this can help us push through Stage 3 as quickly as possible.

Sneak Attack - This is really only in the deck to be played with Gandalf. We could use it with other allies, but it's only worth it in an emergency.

We Are Not Idle - Potentially worthwhile for the deck thinning alone, it does have additional utility here as it allows us to get more explosive starts than we would otherwise. Combined with AVGT we can have absurdly good first turns. Note that we can donate the resources (but not the card draw) to the Partner deck.

Side quests - None of these have any particular synergy with our deck, they are just strong effects that we can take advantage of because we will start off not needing progress on the main quest. Once we make it to Stage 3 we want to end the quest ASAP and I would forget about the side quests at that point. Note that like Ori, Prepare for Battle doesn't cause additional attacks from Saruman.