Minimum Purchase - A Knife in the Dark

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This deck originated from a desire to provide newer players with a deck that can take down A Knife in the Dark with only cards from the Revised Core Set and the Fellowship of the Ring saga box. Even without access to staples like Fast Hitch, Resourceful, Rosie Cotton, etc., the original gang of Hobbits is well-suited to the various challenges that this quest presents.

Questing

Between Frodo Baggins, Sam Gamgee, and Pippin, you can quest for 7 right from the start. As the quest progresses, Fellowship of the Ring and Frodo's Intuition provide noticeable boosts and you can supplement this with appearances from Gandalf, Elrond, and Galadriel. This should be enough until Faramir shows up to put you over the top.

Defense

Eventually Sam Gamgee with Hobbit Cloak and Protector of Lórien can block even the Witch-King, but Boromir, Beorn, and the temporary allies can also soak most enemy attacks. Fortunately, your threat should be low enough that you are only dealing with one enemy at a time, at least until stage 3. Feint and Mr. Underhill act as panic buttons when needed.

Attack

It is almost unfair that Merry starts off at 4 , which can easily rise to 8 once he gets a pair of Daggers. Boromir and Beorn can take down heavy enemies, with the various supporting allies chipping in as well. And, of course, Gandalf and Farmer Maggot can deal direct damage when you need to soften up a Rider from Mordor.

Resources

Between the ability to play a free ally with The Prancing Pony and the power of Elf-stone (bonus points if you get Elf-stone on the Pony for double effect!), you should have no problem getting your heavy hitters into play. Steward of Gondor is almost unnecessary (I often end up with a pile of resources on Sam Gamgee), but it's worth it to ensure that you can get Faramir into play as soon as possible.

Quest-Specific Strategy

  • First things first, this deck has multiple ways of dealing with the machinations of Bill Ferny. Son of Arnor can force him to engage you, or you can use the tried and true Sneak Attack + Gandalf twice to take him out. A fun trick is to play Sneak Attack during the Resource phase to drop 4 damage on Bill Ferny and then return Gandalf to hand in time to play him during the Planning phase to finish the job. Make sure to just eat the threat increase from Bill until you can kill him (do NOT under ANY CIRCUMSTANCES shuffle in a Ringwraith unless you have no choice).
  • By stage 2, you should be set up for questing (hopefully with Faramir in play). Try to clear the board of enemies before travelling to Midgewater. Otherwise, make sure to place progress on the main quest to avoid getting extra Ringwraiths. It can be helpful to keep a copy of Weather Hills around to "hide" a Rider from Mordor once you get to stage 3 (yes, that counts toward the victory conditions :) ).
  • The main challenge of this quest is the big, bad Witch-King. Not only is he immune to player cards, but his restriction on who can defend him makes him quite nasty. Fortunately, this is the moment when Barliman Butterbur shows his true quality by jumping in front of an undefended attack (if he hasn't shown up, you can defend with Gandalf or a powered-up Sam Gamgee. Merry w/a single Dagger of Westernesse can combine with a powered up Beorn to attack for the requisite 14 in one swing (then Merry readies Beorn, who can take out a Rider from Mordor in the same phase).

Conclusion

Even within the constrictions of a limited card pool, this deck is up to the challenge of A Knife in the Dark. With the addition of some of the starter decks, you could sub in things like: Daeron's Runes for Valiant Sacrifice, slot in Defender of Rammas to help with defense, include Errand-rider for some resource-smoothing, and potentially include some Cram for readying or A Very Good Tale to get to your allies more quickly. Happy questing!

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