The Vanguard

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This is a thematic deck built for an ongoing series on my blog, Darkling Door.

Theme: Dúnedain and Rohirrim

Played Against: Nightmare Trouble in Tharbad

"The North-South Road no longer existed except for the crumbling remains of the causeways, by which a hazardous approach to Tharbad might be achieved, only to find ruins on dwindling mounds, and a dangerous ford formed by the ruins of the bridge, impassable if the river had not been there slow and shallow—but wide."

The History of Galadriel and Celeborn, Unfinished Tales


This deck uses Scout synergies to support the classic Staging Area attack strategy.

The core of the deck should be familiar to any Dúnhere fan. I mulligan for at least one Weapon card, hoping to draw a second one as soon as possible, using cards like Open the Armory as necessary to help me find it quickly. With one Weapon, Dúnhere attacks Enemies in the Staging Area for 5 , which is enough to kill most smaller Enemies in one hit. Once he gets the second Weapon he'll be attacking for 7 , enough to kill most medium and large Enemies, too. Unseen Strike can help to make up the difference during the early game or for especially strong Enemies.

The addition of Dúnedain cards alters the core strategy in a few interesting ways. First of all, it makes the deck slightly more combat-capable if it happens to engage something. When I clear a Location, Idraen is ready to help defend or to make up for the deficit that Dúnhere suffers when fighting something right in front of him. Cards like Ranger of Cardolan can serve as emergency defenders or attackers in a pinch, too. Add this to the fact that Rohan already has some good chump blockers like Westfold Horse-breeder and it’s not so devastating when a low-threat Enemy slips past my defenses.

The second thing I get from the Dúnedain cards is a host of strong questers. Between the two traits I have access to quite a few Scout Allies, meaning that I can lean on Scouting Party for some pretty heavy burst-questing in the midgame. It’s even better if I can get a copy of Fearless Scout down on Éowyn first so I don’t have to go without her legendary .

I like how well Dúnedain and Rohan complement each other, and it’s fun that they intersect with the Scout trait in interesting ways. The result is a deck that plays a little differently from your typical Staging Area attack deck, with a slightly stronger presence. I have to work to make sure that manifests at the right time, though, which ensures that the deck remains interesting to pilot.


Since Trouble in Tharbad already contains some built-in threat reduction, I didn't feel I needed to add any more to the deck itself. If I were playing this deck outside of that quest, however, I'd consider making some space for Well Warned, perhaps cutting 1x each of West Road Traveller, Unseen Strike, and Steward of Orthanc.

► For more analysis, check out my blog post on this deck.