Starter for Dale (Single Core + Wilds of Rhovanion)

Mr. Underhill 2132

Mr. Underhill has a newer deck inspired by this one: Dude, Where's My Cloak?

Mr. Underhill has a newer deck inspired by this one: Fire in the Night: Ered Mithrin Solo Progression

Mr. Underhill has a newer deck inspired by this one: Guardians of Gundabad

Here's a deck aimed at players who want to try out the new Dale cards with minimal deckbuilding effort. This is also a great list for people who want something powerful without spending too much money, because all you need to play this deck is the Wilds of Rhovanion expansion and one copy of the Core Set!

With just these two boxes you get a strong deck that covers all major aspects of the game. I have played this against a lot of different quests (see below for the full record) and it has beaten most of them at the first time of asking.

What's more, this deck is fun to play! The design team have done a fantastic job with the Dale characters and there are lots of interactions between the new cards that make them interesting to pilot. Honestly, I love playing this deck.

Overview

This deck aims to play Dale allies and power them up using Item attachments. The heroes support this goal by providing card draw (Brand son of Bain and Beravor) and resource smoothing for attachments (Bard son of Brand).

One of the deck's strengths is that it has a lot of card draw. Seriously, this thing can draw loads of cards. Between the hero abilities, Gléowine, and Gandalf, you will have plenty of options in hand to work with during your games.

The deck also has a lot of resource generating cards to keep things moving along. King of Dale, Steward of Gondor, Bartering and Traffic from Dale mean that you won't be short of resources once things are up and running.

Heroes

One of the limitations of this deck is that the heroes have a mediocre stat line. Just look at all those twos...

However, this lack of specialization gives the heroes a certain amount of flexibility. I usually try for the following setup:

Get to the point already! How do I play this deck?

Quick start:

  • Mulligan for King of Dale.
  • Play attachments on Dale characters to draw cards and gain willpower.
  • Draw lots of cards. No seriously, just keep drawing cards.
  • Play the cards.
  • Profit.

Longer explanation:

Step 1. Get King of Dale into play.

King of Dale is a key card because it makes Dale allies cheap and removes the need for a resource match. Mulligan for it if you don't get it in your first hand. Once you get it, it should be played on either of your Dale heroes as quickly as possible. I personally like to play it on Bard son of Brand since he will also get Steward of Gondor.

One thing I like about this deck is that there are a couple of ways to get King of Dale out on the first turn.

The same principles can be used for a first turn Steward of Gondor, and we all know how powerful that is. If the right cards are drawn, this deck can play King of Dale followed by a North Realm Lookout and a Map of Rhovanion on the first turn - a very solid start by all accounts.

Step 2. Play allies and attachments

Once King of Dale is out you should be able to play one or two Dale allies per turn. The synergies between the allies and their attachments in this box is really cool. Remember Brand's response: you get to draw a card each time you play an attachment on a Dale character without an attachment. This means that the best way to play is to initially spread the attachments around, 1 per character, so that you can maximise your draw from Brand son of Bain. Don't worry if you have to play these attachments suboptimally, e.g. playing Bow of Yew on a hero turn 1. The important thing is to get these cards down so that you can move through the deck and get your pieces in play.

The Dale allies work like this:

  • Long Lake Trader is a support ally who can move your attachments where they need to be. Let's say you played Bow of Yew on Brand turn 1 to get your draw rolling, but now you want it on your Warrior of Dale. No problem, the trader can move it for you. He can also hold an attachment by himself temporarily and move it to a better character later on.
  • Redwater Sentry is a mini Beregond once he gets Hauberk of Mail because it will give him 4 , 4 and Sentinel. Those stats are amazing in this card pool.
  • North Realm Lookout is amazing combined with Map of Rhovanion as he will quest for 3 without exhausting. He can take a Bow of Yew to chip enemies in the combat phase too.
  • Warrior of Dale is the most difficult ally to play since he requires the use of King of Dale for the resource match, and that's why you have two copies. However, he's a very good attacker once he's out with a Bow of Yew.

Step 3. Profit

The deck becomes straightforward to run once you get a feel for how it plays and you figure out how to use the allies. The power cards from the core set help keep things ticking over - honestly, part of the reason this deck runs well is because of things like Steward of Gondor and Sneak Attack + Gandalf. That combo alone solves a whole host of problems in this game.

Tips on Play

The main challenge for this deck is surviving the first round. It's tri-sphere, with a high starting threat, no dedicated questing hero and no decent defender. This can make it difficult to get a foothold against some of the more challenging scenarios.

  • One thing I learnt from The One Deck is that it is sometimes better to fail the quest on turn 1 in order to get a foothold. Raising your threat with this deck is not necessarily a problem because it has a lot of threat reduction: 2 The Galadhrim's Greeting and up to 5 Gandalfs over the course of a game. If raising your threat means that you can kill an enemy, survive an attack or draw an extra 2 cards on the first turn, it's worth it.

  • Don't be afraid to distribute attachments sub-optimally. It's sometimes better to play that Hauberk of Mail on Brand son of Bain, even if you plan to quest with him. The reason is because playing it down will give you +1 willpower and a card to replace the attachment.

  • You might want to keep a weird starting hand depending on the quest you're up against. For example, in Journey Along the Anduin, you have to prioritise a turn 2 Gandalf to lower your threat and dodge the Hill Troll.

  • This deck has no healing. You have to be careful with things like archery and defending with heroes. However, I'm not convinced that adding healing would have changed the outcome of any of my solo games to date.

Card Choices FAQ

Why only the Core Set?

I am currently in a situation where I am away from my primary physical collection. I wanted to see what could be done with the card pool I have available to me (Core Set and a few expansion packs).

Is it worth running three copies of King of Dale?

Yes! It's a key card that you want to see early. Any card in that category should be a 3x unless you have a way of guaranteeing that you'll see it. The spare copies are not dead cards here either: first, they can be discarded to Protector of Lórien for extra willpower or defence. Second, there are often Shadow effects that say things like "discard an attachment you control". Spare copies give you the option of pitching King of Dale to these effects and then replaying it next turn.

Why do you have three copies of Bartering?

This card is very good and there are several reasons I like it here.

  • It facilitates a first turn Steward of Gondor or King of Dale in combination with any 1 cost lore attachment. The strength of this cannot be underestimated and running three copies maximises the chance it will happen.
  • It allows for suboptimal Item distribution to be corrected without the involvement of the Long Lake Trader. It allows you to do things like move Unexpected Courage between heroes, which is a neat trick if you'd rather have it on a different hero.
  • It is effectively Unlikely Friendship ("gain 1 resource and draw 1 card") when used in combination with cards like Hauberk of Mail and Redwater Sentry. For example, you can return the Hauberk to hand -> play another 1 cost attachment for free -> replay the Hauberk on Sentry for free -> draw 1 card.
  • It can help other players get attachments down in multiplayer.
  • If nothing else it is deck thinning when used with 0 cost attachments, i.e. Return Bow of Yew to hand with Bartering, replay it, draw 1 card.

Why three copies of Traffic from Dale?

  • This is another card that can facilitate a first turn King of Dale.
  • In the mid game, this card can gain you a couple of resources to play a key attachment when used on Bard, or can help play a Redwater Sentry without using King of Dale if used on Brand.
  • In the late game, this can net you 8-10 resources depending on board state. You will have no problem hard casting Gandalf or The Galadhrim's Greeting.

Why don't you run To Arms!?

Honestly, I haven't needed it. I would rather play another ally, cancel an encounter card or Sneak Attack a Gandalf.

Sideboard

I've found this list sufficient to handle most of the quests I have played. Some possible inclusions from the core set are:

  • Faramir can help to meet the willpower demands of tougher quests. He is easy to afford in this deck, but I probably wouldn't run more than 1 copy of him.
  • Miner of the Iron Hills for Condition attachments.
  • Secret Paths for X threat locations.
  • Will of the West for quests that discard cards from your deck, e.g. The Dungeons of Cirith Gurat.

Northern Tracker might also help against some quests, and Dwarven Tomb is a reasonable shout to get back a cancel card.

Playtesting

This list has been tested by myself and BGamerjoe. Here is the full record of games (Attempts / Wins) that we have played.

Mr Underhill Solo:

  • Passage Through Mirkwood: 2/1
  • Journey Along the Anduin: 1/1
  • Hunt for Gollum: 1/1
  • Conflict at the Carrock: 1/1
  • Hills of Emyn Muil: 1/1
  • Dead Marshes: 1/1
  • Return to Mirkwood: 1/1
  • Into the Pit: 2/1
  • The Seventh Level: 1/1
  • Flight from Moria: 1/1
  • The Redhorn Gate: 1/1
  • Road to Rivendell: 1/1
  • The Long Dark: 1/1
  • Foundations of Stone: 3/1
  • Over the Misty Mountains Grim: 2/1
  • Peril in Pelargir: 2/2
  • The Steward's Fear: 1/1
  • The Druadan Forest: 1/1
  • The Blood of Gondor: 3/0
  • The Morgul Vale: 1/0
  • Fords of Isen: 1/1
  • Into Fangorn: 1/1
  • The Three Trials: 1/1
  • Trouble in Tharbad: 1/1
  • Celebrimbor's Secret: 1/1
  • Intruders in Chetwood: 2/2
  • Escape from Umbar: 1/1
  • Desert Crossing: 1/1
  • Beneath the Sands: 2/1
  • The Dungeons of Cirith Gurat: 5/1 (subbed in Faramir and Will of the West)
  • Attack on Dol Guldur (POD): 5/2
  • The Battle of Lake-town (POD): 1/1

BGamerjoe Solo:

  • Passage Through Mirkwood: 1/1
  • The Watcher in the Water: 1/1
  • We Must Away, Ere Break of Day: 1/1
  • Encounter at Amon Din: 2/1
  • To Catch an Orc: 1/1
  • Raid on the Grey Havens: 2/1
  • Journey up the Anduin: 1/1
  • Lost in Mirkwood: 2/2
  • The King's Quest: 1/1

Two players:


That's it! Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoy playing this deck. Hats off to the designers for a fantastic job on the new player cards.

8 comments

Jun 19, 2018 eldub 294

“Beravor gets nothing.”

Best part of the description haha. Seriously, nice write-up.

Jun 19, 2018 OKTarg 115

Awesome deck and an awesome resource to our newer community members! Walking us through things like the optimal sequencing of Bartering is so helpful. Hopefully we can see a video about this soon....

Jun 20, 2018 Mr. Underhill 2132

@eldub Hmm, maybe I was harsh on poor old Beravor :P

@OKTarg Thanks! Once I own the physical cards then I will make a video with this deck.

Jul 07, 2018 Melkata 3

This is terrific help, thanks! As a new player I really like the Dale theme, but was having trouble with the first quest. Can’t wait to try this out.

Aug 11, 2018 Iliamel 1

Even with enough attachments, how can you play a tactics ally for free? One of the heroes has to show the tactics symbol, not?

Aug 11, 2018 Mr. Underhill 2132

@Iliamel King of Dale allows you to play the tactics ally without a resource match.

Dec 19, 2018 Purple Dain 7

I just received TWoR as an early Christmas present. I've got a few of the early expansions as well, but I appreciate the focus on TWoR and the core set. As @OKTargmentioned, this is super helpful for newer community members who might not have all the expansions as part of their collection. Thank you!

Dec 21, 2018 Mr. Underhill 2132

@IINCEPTIONIIGlad to hear it! Feel free to ask questions about playing the deck here.