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I've decided to share some of the decks me and my friend group play with for particular cycles. This is Deck #2 in a 2-player fellowship, played by myself while other player gets Deck #1. For more in-depth overhaul regarding structure and thought behind those decks please check out the fellowship description! (e.g. no shared cards in Decks #1, sticking strictly to the theme).
The Ring-maker cycle introduced us to many new cards. We've received new Silvan archetype, Rohan got some more support and we finally got our first glimpse at the Ents. Apart from that, a new keyword had appeared - Doomed. While simple in its premise - trading paying for cards with resources for threat - they firstly served as a glue cards with staples such as Deep Knowledge and Legacy of Númenor. Creating dedicated Doomed deck would be quite difficult for numerous reasons. That was until the latest cycle when Saruman was introduced with a bunch of new Doomed cards giving a fresh breath into this archetype. Since The Ring-maker cycle revolves heavily around Saruman himself, fitting Doomed deck into this fellowship seemed like a good idea. So I set on a premise that this deck would consist of Saruman and Doomed cards. But that's only one hero, what about the rest? Well Gríma is the only other hero that has an ability directly affecting Doomed keyword but he is already an objective ally in the first quest in the cycle. Aragorn suits this playstyle well since he can drop your threat after playing all those Doomed cards. But apart from that, there isn't really any hero that stands out for this archetype. So I've decided to stay only with Saruman, giving him The Grey Wanderer contract. This way we can also mitigate the threat increase by starting with only 13. But there was also the question regarding the rest of deck. Since Doomed cards are only few in between and they are mostly events, I needed to include at least some allies for this deck to function, ideally from some other small archetype. And since Saruman and Ents get along really well, some of them decided to join him this time. So all in all, this deck is a The Grey Wanderer Saruman/Doomed deck with some Ents sprinkled in.
Mulligan for either Saruman's Staff or Word of Command to fetch it. To be frank there aren't any must-have key cards in this deck (apart from Strider which you should grab with the contract) but staff comes close. It either removes some of the threat increase from Doomed or let's you grab more of those cards. Some allies are also nice to see. Even though grabing Saruman's Staff is important remember that Ents come into play exhausted, so sometimes the smart move is to open the game wih an ally instead of the staff.
Speaking of contract, with The Grey Wanderer you should grab Strider. It doesn't really fit thematically but it is arguably the best attachment for this contract, so it was an auto-include. Depending how you play (controversial rules on the timing of the player setup), while you already have Strider in your starting hand, go either for the Keys of Orthanc or Ent Draught. The latter requires an Ent in play, well, to play, however The Grey Wanderer allows you to put chosen attachment into play which in my book ommits this restricion. The contract itself on the first turn should be used to get more resources and later down the line to heal Saruman after he takes some beating. The reading effect isn't as powerful since you can play Doomed cards to ready your hero. Remember that contract allows you to play your first non-unique card during planning phase without resource match. It's important only while playing Ents so keep it in mind when you have those in your hand.
Saruman, being the sole hero of this deck, bring a lot to the table. Firstly, he allows you to play Doomed events of any sphere, so you don't have to worry about resource match while playing those. Even more impressing is his action which allows you to ready him after playing Doomed card. There are a lot of reading effects in the game, even those in-bulit into heroes, but there are two things that distinguish Saruman. First is his impressive statline which isn't easily encountered in a pair with a reading effect. Secondly his ability not only is very easy to trigger but it also has no limit! No once per round or even per phase. That makes Saruman a very potent hero, able to handle himself for the entirety of the game. There is a caveat, being you can only reduce your threat by one per effect, but that poses more of a deckbuilding problem. As I have described above, starting with 13 eases this burden a lot. While playing this deck I noticed I don't really come even near to threating out apart from some dragging on quests. Regarding usage of this hero, since he is the only one you have, he will be covering most of the aspects of the game. With Strider he quest for 5 out of the bat. His defence is on the more of the standard side with 2 and 4. However you have very potent healing effect with The Grey Wanderer so you can take some attacks. Just remember that when Saruman dies you are elimanted from the game since he is your only hero, so maybe don't take uncessary risks unless you have Close Call in hand. Lastly, his 4 is also impressive - with some help of ranged Silvans or Ents you can take most of the enemies thrown at you.
Allies in this deck are Ents. Those tree fellows are quite cheap for their stats but they come into play exhausted so you can use them after a round. This might seem like a major setback with only one hero - and it is - but at least Saruman has a very good statline and reading ability to let you survive first rounds. Quickbeam is definitely the best of the bunch since he can come into play ready, very useful during the early game. Unfortunately you can't pay for cards with The Grey Wanderer so Skinbark and Beechbone stay in the binder this time.
All of the attachments in the deck go on, well, Saruman. Strider and Saruman's Staff were described before. Keys of Orthanc are not that much of staple card but they are nice, giving a resource after increasing threat from a Doomed keyword. Remember you have to increase your threat to trigger this card, so reducing Doomed value to 0 with Saruman's Staff won't count here. Ent Draught can attach also your Ent allies, namely Derndingle Warrior or Treebeard, however your first copy should go on Saruman so he can defend more safely when needed.
Events here are mostly Doomed cards. To be exact I included every one of them since they all have their uses. The glue card here is The Seeing-stone allowing you to grab whatever the card you need the most at the moment. It's also nice to ready Saruman since it only costs 1. Most of those cards are self-explanatory, however I should make some remarks about them. Deep Knowledge is very powerful but it loses its value in Dunlending quests when you are punished for drawing. Defiant Challenge allows you to ready Ents that entered play. Power of Orthanc is very useful in this cycle since there are a lot of condition attachments. Horns! Horns! Horns! might seem like an odd choice since you get no value from it when Ents enter play exhuasted (apart from Quickbeam I guess but you don't want to shuffle him back into the deck afterwards). Still it's powerful for the Silvan deck with their enter play effects. Fun combo I found out is to play this card, plop something like Legolas and then instead of shuffling him back into the deck the other player returns him to hand via some event. Legacy of Númenor suffers from similiar circumstances, where with one hero it's not really worth it but Silvans could use extra resources. Apart from the Doomed cards, 3 copies of Word of Command make an apperance. They can grab you Saruman's Staff or some ally, like Quickbeam. Saruman is probably the best user of this event with his reading ability as well as reading from contract. That way you can use Word of Command on the first round to find Saruman's Staff and then trigger the contract to gain 2 resources needed and ready your hero. There is also Entmoot allowing you to find more allies - but not only. Remember that Entmoot itself as well as Ent Draught have an Ent trait, so they are eligible targets for this event.
That pretty much covers the basics of this deck. Please keep in mind it is designed to play with the other deck in a fellowship and for a particular cylce in a game. This decks is meant to represent most powerful combination of cards in a given archetype, but feel free to leave a comment regarding them, as even after some years of using them I change them slightly after some thought :) Feel free to try them, even with new players as I did!