Anborn Or Bust

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Derived from
None. Self-made deck here.
Inspiration for
Turn 1 Anborn+Sword Thain+Wingfoot 1 0 5 1.0
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Some Sort 3140

There's this awesome and super-janky combo where you take Anborn, name him Sword-thain, and attach Wingfoot. Commit Anborn to the quest, name "enemy" as your card type, and every time an enemy is revealed you ready him and then trigger his response. This deals one damage to every enemy and increases their engagement cost by five.

Pair him with Thalin and every enemy that comes down the pike enters play with two damage tokens already on him. A Gondorian Spearman and Spear of the Citadel makes it four damage tokens before they can even get off an attack. That's really good! Hall of Beorn tells me that there are 452 different enemies in the game to this point, and 214 have four or fewer hitpoints. That's 47% to start, and it doesn't account for the fact that (A) lower-HP enemies tend to have more copies per quest than their higher-HP counterparts, (many of whom are bosses or uniques), and (B) many of the higher-HP enemies are not revealed from the encounter deck, or else they're immune to player card effects, so you couldn't Thalin/Anborn them anyway. I'd wager that 4 damage is enough to kill off a solid majority of all enemies in actual play.

This is not a balanced, well-rounded deck. This is a deck that says "screw it all" and does everything in its power to get that combo on the board and running by the end of the first planning phase. There's barely any willpower. There's barely any attack power. There's just as much resource acceleration and card draw as you can possibly cram into 50 cards while still leaving room for 3x Anborn, 3x Sword-thain, and 3x Wingfoot.

Here are the ways you can get the combo out early: Sneak Attack + Anborn + Sword-thain lets you get him out for the 5 resources you start with. Legacy of Númenor lets you pay for him the old-fashioned way and have enough left over to still Sword-thain him. A single Captain's Wisdom, Gaining Strength, Wealth of Gondor, or We Are Not Idle gives you the extra resource necessary to afford Wingfoot, too.

One important note, though: make sure you play all of your draw effects during the first resource phase so if you draw into a Captain's Wisdom, it's not too late to play it.

Gandalf is a great way to use extra Sneak Attacks, but you'll have so many resources that you can easily afford to play him the old-fashioned way, too. He's strong draw when you're hunting for your pieces, he can offset the threat gain from all your doomed cards, or else his direct damage can finish off enemies already weakened by Anborn and Thalin.

Once the combo is set up, the deck has nothing left to accomplish, so it's free to pivot all that prodigious resource-generating and card-drawing power to its partners. Errand-riders shuffle excess resources across the table, and Denethor can send resources to Gondorian heroes even without them. (There's In Service of the Stewards in the sideboard to increase the number of viable targets). There's also Steward of Gondor, which can be played across the table to give you another viable target, or can be played on your own heroes to give you more tokens to shuttle across with your riders.

Once you're done digging in your own deck, Heed the Dream lets you trigger the single most powerful draw effect in the game for a lucky ally. Gandalf's Search is too expensive to see regular play, but in a deck this rich it's kind of amazing. Steward on Galdor or a Song of Wisdom on Denethor can crank it up to 11. And yes, it can be played on your partners, too. The White Council is another card that's generally too expensive to be useful, but for a deck with more resources than sense, it's a great way to help the table.

If you want to make the deck a bit more able to stand on its own two legs instead of a one-dimensional damage-and-resource-token-generator, there's other stuff in the sideboard. Celebrían's Stone is useful for making your two main questers not quite so terrible at questing. Gondorian Shield turns Denethor into a fantastic defender. Treebeard is on the short list for the best ally in the game, and he can ready himself every other round.

But like I said, for the most part, you have one job. And you're quite good at it.