Maxine Newman's Gondor, Bulwark of the West

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With its starting heroes, Boromir, Aragorn, and Beregond, this deck boasts some fantastic defense and attack strength right out of the gate. What’s that, you say? My starting threat of thirty-three is too high? What? Are you scared of the Orcs and the Trolls? We are Men of Gondor. Let them come!

Playing the Deck

If I’m lucky, my opening hand will contain Steward of Gondor, which allows Aragorn to activate his Response every turn; it also gives him the Gondor trait, opening him up to greater synergy with the rest of the deck. My starting hand will usually have at least one Weapon or Armor attachment that I can throw on Beregond for free, freeing up his resource for an Envoy of Pelargir. Or, if I have Wealth of Gondor, I can throw a second resource on him and put out an early Gondorian Spearman or Defender of Rammas. I might also throw a Horn of Gondor on Beregond in order to accelerate his resource generation for later turns.

Where this deck really shines is defense. To that end, Gondorian Shield quickly becomes the centerpiece for this deck. Drop one on Beregond for free and he suddenly becomes a six-Defense Strength powerhouse. Throwing one on Boromir or Aragorn (once he has taken up the Stewardship) boosts either hero to four Defense, which is nothing to mock. Using Spear of the Citadel, I can sometimes kill enemies just by defending over the course of several turns, often without taking any damage. This process can be accelerated using Goblin-cleaver and exhausting a Spear of the Citadel before defending. In this way, Behind Strong Walls becomes an ever better card than Feint, because I can defend with Beregond, ready him, give him an additional point of defense, and then defend against a different enemy, dealing damage to both with Spear of the Citadel! There are very few enemies this deck truly fears.

Of course, defending against hordes of enemies is only one avenue to victory. This deck also includes several cards to muster Willpower for the quest. With Faramir and Sword that was Broken, every ally is inspired to greatness, even all those allies who start with one or zero Willpower. If I really need to focus on my questing, I can use #Ever Vigilant to ready Faramir and use his ability a second time, giving my army of characters an additional Willpower boost.

Two Heads Are Better Than One

This deck performs adequately in solo play, but it has its weaknesses: a lack of healing, card draw, threat reduction, and location control. However, these can be mitigated when you play with more than one player. This deck really shines when paired up with a deck that wants to avoid enemies, because I can snatch up as many enemies as possible and defend against each, freeing my partner to do what he does best. I might even throw in a copy or two of The Hammer-stroke so I can engage every enemy in play, keeping my teammates safe. In longer games, I occasionally end up with more resources than I know what to do with, but I can use Errand-rider to share the wealth with my fellow players. Playing with others also allows this deck to benefit from their threat reduction and card-drawing effects.

Caleb and I have had a lot of fun pairing this deck with his “Archery” deck. These decks have great synergy, as I can usually handle defending against every enemy in play, and Legolas and Bard the Bowman can snipe the enemies one by one while they’re engaged with me. Defending against five or more enemies at the same time sounds dangerous, but this deck makes it look easy. Backed up by Caleb’s archers, we have on more than one occasion cleared the entire board of enemies in a single combat phase…without taking a single point of damage in the endeavor.

I hope you’ve had fun reading about these three decks that Caleb and I often use when playtesting the new scenarios your fellowships will face.

-Maxine Newman, Associate LCG Developer. Posted to the FFG website 5/7/2013