Back to Basics - A Killer Deck Using Cards from 1 Core Set

Questlogs using this decklist
Journey Along the Anduin - 1 Player - 2019-02-03
Fellowships using this decklist
None.
Derived from
None. Self-made deck here.
Inspiration for
Minimum Purchase - Lost Realm 2 2 1 1.0
My Basic Solo Deck 1 1 0 1.0
Solo into Mirkwood and Moria 4 1 0 1.0
A Noob's Tri-Sphere Deck from Core Set 1 1 0 0 1.0
Back to Basics Tri Sphere 0 0 0 1.0
Trachten Current 0 0 0 1.0
First Deck! 0 0 5 1.0
core-001-killer(theodred,eowin,beravor) 1 1 0 1.0
Xanalor's Single Core Reloaded (2x Core) 0 0 0 1.0
Core Set-2-Solo 0 0 0 1.0
5 wins vs attempts - Progressive Play #3 0 0 1 1.0
Deneglordred 0 0 0 1.0
Working with what I got 0 0 0 3.0
Mazo multicolor basado en Matar 0 0 0 1.0
Back to Basics - A Killer Deck Using Cards from 1 Core Set 0 0 0 1.0
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Xanalor 1668

  • Yes, this is a 44-card deck. Why? Because IMHO these are the only cards in the core set worth including in the deck. Just about everything else in the box (not including Tactics cards) is of situational use at best, and will just dilute the deck. if you're going with the constraint of a single Core set, you really shouldn't be handicapping yourself by forcing a 50-card deck. If you really want a 50-card minimum, get another Core set and add extra copies of Sneak Attack, Steward of Gondor, Northern Tracker, A Test of Will, Unexpected Courage and Henamarth Riversong, or start adding cards from expansion packs as you get them.

  • Against some of the Mirkwood quests, one of my favorite tricks with this deck is using Stand and Fight to bring a Snowbourn Scout into play during the encounter phase... AFTER cards have been revealed from the encounter deck, but before you resolve the quest. For example, suppose a comes off the encounter deck... That's 5 threat you're facing, and could cause you to quest unsuccessfully. But if you bring a Scout into play you can immediately explore it (without having to wait for the travel phase) and not have that 5 threat count against you.

  • Even after all the expansions, Sneak Attack/Gandalf is probably still the best combo in the game, giving you a big ally to quest, defend or attack and also letting you deal an extra 4 damage, reduce your threat or draw cards, all for just one measly leadership resource. Try to save the combo for when you really need it, like when you're facing down a big enemy or need a lot of willpower to blast through a difficult stage of a quest.

  • Keep in mind that, due to one of the most nonsensical rulings in the history of card games, Stand and Fight does NOT work with Gandalf, since he does not belong to "any" sphere. (Seriously... that "hero can be any sphere" is supposed to be clarification text, not a rules override.) However, you can use S&F to bring #beorn](/card/01031) into play, and that's why Beorn's in the deck. Alternatively,kyou can Sneak Attack #beorn](/card/01031) in for an 8-strength attack, though generally Sneak is best saved for Gandalf. Note that you can pitch Beorn to Eowyn's special ability to get him into your discard pile.

  • Speaking of Éowyn's ability, a nice little card-conserving combo is to pitch an attachment to her ability if you've got Erebor Hammersmith in hand. Then next turn you can play the Hammersmith and get that attachment back.

  • Henamarth Riversong is the MVP of this deck when playing pure solo. But resist the temptation to exhaust him the moment he comes into play. Instead, wait until after the combat phase. Then you can get a sneak peek at next turn's encounter card without risking any ill effects. If you exhaust Henamarth at the start of the turn, the encounter card could be something that damages exhausted characters and then Henamarth would be toast. On rare occasions, I've used Henamarth to peek at the top card before dealing a shadow card, to know if I can take an attack undefended or not. But usually I save him for the end of the turn (before the refresh phase) so I can have perfect information (barring a surge or guarded card) for the next encounter phase.

  • Steward of Gondor will usually go on Eowyn, since the more expensive cards in this deck are the Spirit ones. However, I have played it on Theodred if I have Faramir and several other leadership cards in my opening hand. In that case, you need to be sure to always quest with Theodred and Eowyn and give the resource to Eowyn so she can build up her pool.

  • In most quests, on the first turn you'll quest with Théodred and Éowyn (giving the resource to Eowyn unless you have Steward of Gondor in hand), leaving Beravor back to defend or attack if need be. Then if you don't need Beravor for combat, you can (and should) exhaust her to draw two cards.

  • Unexpected Courage goes on Beravor, always. With the errata you can only use her ability to draw cards once per turn, but that's fine. The Unexpected Courage allows you to also use her to quest (useful if you need her to grab an extra resource from Theodred) or in combat.

  • Tempting as it might be to get that Northern Tracker into play ASAP, be wary of spending all your spirit resources if you have A Test of Will in hand. Usually it's better to wait an extra turn to accumulate resources so that if a nasty treachery comes up you're not left with an unplayable Test of Will.

  • Don't play Hasty Stroke on any old shadow effect. Taking an extra damage on a defender or having to raise your threat isn't necessarily a big deal; save Hasty Stroke for when you really need it.

  • Speaking of which, Hasty Stroke / Lore of Imladris can be a very useful combo. For example, let's say it's the first turn of Passage Through Mirkwood and you have no allies in play, but really want to take care of that Forest Spider ASAP. You can quest with Eowyn, ready her by traveling to Old Forest Road and have all your heroes at the ready, Engage the Spider and take its attack undefended. Since you have Hasty Stroke in hand, you can afford to do this -- if a shadow effect that would give the spider a bonus to its attack comes up, you can just cancel it. Drop the 3 damage on Beravor and then attack with all three heroes to kill the Spider. Actually, against many quests you don't even need to have the Lore of Imladris in hand to do this. The reason you put the damage on Beravor and not Theodred is because you're usually going to want to quest with Theo, making him susceptible to damage from Necromancer's Reach. Beravor, on the other hand, will usually stay back to attack or draw cards, so she's effectively immune to that treachery. Later quests can deal damage to characters whether they're exhausted or not, but nothing in the base set. Knowing the encounter deck is key.

  • In most cases you'll want to use Dwarven Tomb to get back A Test of Will or The Galadrahim's Greeting. With Test of Will, make sure you do this BEFORE you reveal encounter cards, since one you reveal a card you cannot play Dwarven Tomb to get A Test of Will back before the When Revealed effect resolves. (Dwarven Tomb is an action, not a response, so you have to do it ahead of time.) By contrast, you can usually afford to wait until the engagement phase to play the Dwarven Tomb/Galadrahim's Greeting combo to lower your threat by six.

  • And speaking of The Galadhrim's Greeting... Watch our for Treachery cards which nail you when you're up to 35 threat. In those cases, you'll want to play the Greeting before revealing cards since, once again, Greeting is an action, not a response. Most other times you can just save the Greeting for when you actually need the threat reduction, but also be aware of encounter sets that have effects that make you discard event cards. (In those cases, just play the Greeting as soon as you have the resources, unless you have A Test of Will to protect your hand.)

  • Miner of the Iron Hills is your first and best defense against nasty conditions like Caught in a Web. When playing a quest that has conditions, try to hold on to your Miners until if and when these condition cards appear. Again, knowing the encounter deck is key; for example, there are no condition attachments in Journey Down the Anduin, so against that quest you might as well play the Miner as soon as you have the available resources. Also note that if need be a card like Caught in a Web can be canceled by A Test of Will, though only as it's revealed from the encounter deck.

  • Since I've mentioned just about every card, I'll fill it out with a couple quick call-outs:

  • For Gondor! is there for when you need that one big attack, against the likes of Chieftain Ufthak, Hill Troll or Spawn of Ungoliant.

  • Faramir is awesome for questing; always keep him ready during the questing phase and only exhaust him for his ability AFTER revealing cards from the encounter deck, if you actually need the added willpower. Otherwise, he makes a very good defender if need be.

  • Guard of the Citadel is a nice cheap, all-purpose ally. He can quest, attack, and take it on the chin as a chump defender if need be. There are better allies in future expansions, but if you're limited to the Core set, he's your best option for cheap utility.

  • Forest Snare's use is obvious, though remember you have to take at least one attack from the enemy first, since the Snare can only be played during your planning phase. Chump blocking the Hill Troll with a Snowbourn Scout and taking a 4-threat increase isn't so bad as long as you have the resources to play the Snare on the following turn.
36 comments

May 02, 2016 Kirha 1

Wow. The deck itself is exceedingly helpful, but the commentary helps me a great deal... I've always had trouble coming up with good combinations, and your details help me understand WHY it works, not just which cards to put together.

May 03, 2016 onelamefrog 1

Mirroring Kirha's thoughts here. I don't specifically want to copy any deck but the commentary helps especially to identify synergies in the core set. Much love.

May 20, 2016 naner 42

Thanks for sharing this deck !!

Nov 14, 2016 efrenciscus 20

Really useful deck! Thanks so much for all the info on how to use it, like the other people I find it crucial. Thanks!

Dec 07, 2016 Olorin89 1

I am a VERY casual player (grad work takes a lot of my time), but I have been playing Journey Down the Anduin solo with just one core set...and I have lost many, many times.

However, I recently used this deck with some additions (Elfhelm and Dunedain Watcher) to journey down the Anduin yet again. I finally succeeded. The commentary was helpful and the deck suggestions kickstarted my brain into thinking through deck building concepts.

Dec 27, 2016 mekane 39

Such a great help for new players, both for getting a working deck out of the core set and for the tips. I love the versatility of this deck - it manages to handle a lot of different situations with just the basics.

I would love to see how this deck would evolve as more expansions were added to the available pool. Not jumping to present day and swapping all the super powerful stuff in, but slowly and using the first few expansions.

May 02, 2017 Obscure1666 1

Thx for deck! i add Son of Arnor to combo with Forest Snare and Fortune or Fate to back one killed hero.

Jun 05, 2017 mtngrown 33

For the record, which card did you mean to say comes off the Encounter deck in the Snowbourn Scout discussion here: "For example, suppose a comes off the encounter deck... "

Aug 10, 2017 Aurion 297

This is a great deck. I would say however that you are missing some great cards that could be included to bring you up to a 50-card deck. Firstly, Wandering Took - this is the single most cost effective ally (excluding Henamarth) in the core set. It costs the same as your favoured utility card: Guard of the Citadel and is more likely to survive an attack with its 1. It also serves well in multiplayer but as we're focusing on Solo play here, I'll not go into that. Secondly, Ever Vigilant has to be the most underrated card from the core set but it's potential is awesome. Readying effects are as important to winning a game as resources and card draw. I recently realised that Faramir's ability is repeatable, so for 1 resource, you can add 2 to each of your characters. Still need convincing, I often use Ever Vigilant in conjunction with Sneak Attack/Gandalf in the combat phase so that I can make use of both his awesome 4 and . That's a total of 8 stats for just 2 resources! For 1 more, you can draw 2 cards when the wizard then subsequently leaves play if you include Valiant Sacrifice. Remember, this only requires a character to leave play, so it is quite a consistent form of card draw. Coming back to readying effects though, I would also include Grim Resolve. It may be expensive but it is a game changer - think about Journey along the Anduin, you have snared the hill troll and spend a few rounds amassing allies before defeating it and moving onto the next quest card. You are going to need to quest aggressively to clear this stage before that extra encounter card each round starts to take its toll. You can commit everyone to the quest to complete it this turn but then you'll have nobody ready to face any enemies that might be arriving in the next quest stage - grim resolve removes any uncertainty from the equation. Obviously, the inclusion of these cards would change the shape of your deck somewhat but I would argue that it could work by playing SoG on Théodred and using his ability to give Éowyn the resources she needs. Sure, it might take a while longer to get Northern Tracker into play but it'll be easier to play Faramir and it'll ensure that you have enough resources to pay for For Gondor! when you need it.

Aug 15, 2017 Corbs 2

@mtngrown it should say The Brown Lands. Hope this helps.

Aug 15, 2017 Corbs 2

@Aurion this looks good. I'm a newbie playing this deck and I'll try your additions and see how I get on!

Aug 26, 2017 mtngrown 33

@Arion, great analysis!

Aug 26, 2017 mtngrown 33

@corbs, thanks, I suspected as much but always good to get confirmation.

Sep 18, 2017 Sarseth 132

Hi there, deck is lovly. But I have to ask. How Beorn is going to discard pile. Since you wrote, 'stand and fight' for Beorn, but you wont be able anyway to play him earlier right? Except what, sneak attack? And he need to die in one attack. But you said that is optional, so I wonder what I am missing there.

Sep 18, 2017 Sarseth 132

Ok I got this by Eowyn. Now I cannot delete my comment. Shame will last forever. SOrry!! ;)

Sep 23, 2017 mtngrown 33

@Sarseth It's a really great deck. It took me a few plays to figure it out many of the combos.

Feb 01, 2018 cibermano 1

Hi, please be patient... I’m new in the game. I have a simple question, it’s legal to get Beorn in this deck? I mean, this deck has 3 different sphere heroes, none is from Tactical sphere. So, how is possible to get Beorn there? He’s from Tactical sphere.

Feb 01, 2018 Corbs 2

Hi @cibermano, you can use Stand and Fight to bring Beorn back from your discard pile. How do you get him in the discard pile - discard him using Eowyn’s ability!

Feb 01, 2018 cibermano 1

Hi @CorbsI get he procedure to bring him to play, using the cards you say, but my concern is... it's legal to set up a deck with sphere cards that does not belong to any of your heroes?

Feb 01, 2018 Corbs 2

Yes @cibermano it is perfectly legal to do this. It is covered in the official FAQ.

Q: Can a player have cards in his player deck from a sphere that doesn’t match the sphere of one of his heroes? A: There is nothing in the rules that disallows this, although a player will need to find clever card interactions to make use of such cards.

Happy playing!

Mar 03, 2018 pd187540 10

@Xanalor``@mtngrownso if playing the Escape From Dol Guldur scenario (hardest in the whole game series, shame on FFG for doing that), which hero would you make the prisoner?

Mar 03, 2018 mtngrown 33

@pd187540 Beravor is what's recommended for this deck. There is different deck (don't have a link) which I've read about which makes Glorfindel the prisoner and uses Beravor for card draw. It might be one of seastan's decks, can't recall. Note: I haven't beaten it yet, but I've come close.

Mar 05, 2018 pd187540 10

@mtngrown``@Xanalordo you think this deck can be used in most scenarios, including later ones past the Mirkwood cycle?

Mar 09, 2018 pd187540 10

So far, I crushed Passage Through Mirkwood and Journey Along the Anduin back to back. One game each. This deck is tremendously powerful, at least in those 2 scenarios. For Anduin in particular, the train of cards never got too long, and I was able to put 12 progress markers on Stage 2 (out of 16 total) in one turn. Beravor's draw 2 cards ability is crazy useful. Now the question is how it will fare on Escape From Dol Guldur. Will it be possible using just this deck while making Beravor prisoner, or will it have to be played 2-handed?

Mar 09, 2018 Xanalor 1668

I was able to beat the entire Khazad Dum and Angmar Awakened cycles, so this deck definitely holds up beyond the core set. You CAN beat Escape from Dol Goldur single-handed, though it may take several tries. (I won 1 out of 4 using Beravor as prisoner.) Works best with Beravor as prisoner, as you need the extra resource generation from Theodred and the willpower from Eowyn to have any hope of advancing.

Although I feel Escape from Dol Goldur is poorly balanced for solo play. Here's a variant I recommend for a more enjoyable true solo experience on that particular scenario, that actually scales fairly to one player.

  • The Captured Prisoner still generates resources, but otherwise cannot be used or targeted and is immune to both player card and encounter effects until rescued.

  • Chose TWO objectives at random at the start of the game, instead of using all three, and remove the third from the game. In order to complete to stage 2B, you must have the 2 objectives attached to your heroes.

Mar 09, 2018 Xanalor 1668

Just to clarify, when I beat Escape solo, I played by the normal rules (no resources from prisoner, all three objectives), so it can be done. Just saying it's more appropriately balanced if you tweak things.

Mar 10, 2018 mtngrown 33

@Xanalor Great balance suggestions. It would be nice for FFG to issue canonical variants with better balance for solo players, but I'm not holding my breath.

Mar 10, 2018 pd187540 10

@Xanalor``@mtngrownNo dice. Escape From Dol Guldur is a DEAD scenario. I tried your balance suggestions on EASY mode. STILL can't do it. Impossible. Until I see a YouTube video showing a victory on this scenario, I refuse to believe that it's beatable using only 1 solo deck. A very scathing email went out to Foolish Flight Games over this. It's best that everybody completely ignore this scenario and just move on until FFG issues a revised core set with a mega errata on this scenario, which badly needs to happen

Mar 11, 2018 zrarzi 6

I love your deck, for me that starts and thank you for the additions of information, I play better and I understand better. I apologize in advance for the rest. Eh! critics of the last scenario of the basic box, Ok, it is almost impossible but if we add cards and an easy home-made mode, maybe it will be "fingers in the nose", so stop taunting and you can test to succeed. In my case, this game is interesting for the deck construction if a quest is too easy it does not interest me and very quickly. So, I will advance on other quests and build decks before killing me several times before finally succeeding this famous quest ... The game is good if it's too easy it is not much ...

Mar 24, 2018 uuneter 50

@pd187540 I had similar results as @Xanalor, going 1/4 on Escape from Dol Guldur, choosing Beravor as the prisoner. It is winnable.

Apr 02, 2018 Losselaire 1

Newbie here. Tried the deck against Anduin. Draw three under-20 enemies in the first two round, no allies in my hand. Am I just unlucky or is there a way to deal with this situation (two or more 2-attack enemies engaged) with only these 3 heroes?

Apr 03, 2018 uuneter 50

@Losselaire Journey Along the Anduin is a tough quest, and it sounds like you had an unlucky start. I would just try again. Don't forget, you can mulligan your opening hand.

Apr 07, 2018 Losselaire 1

@uuneterThank you. Finally I have won with this deck (with small variations), even though I had two Hill Trolls in the first round :) I have learnt a lot and I appreciate all the advice and information that you all provide here. Now comes Dol Guldur and my first expansion pack :)

Apr 07, 2018 pd187540 10

@Losselairefor Dol Guldur, it is highly recommended that you use 2 decks. You just won't win using this deck alone or any other single deck. Here are the 2 decks that crushed Dol Guldur: ringsdb.com

Note that it requires 2 core sets, which you'll need another core set anyway at some point.

Apr 08, 2018 mtngrown 33

@Losselaire I have come very close to winning Dol Guldur with this deck, but it was brutal, and most games are sudden death within 3 turns lol. But it is doable.

Jul 08, 2018 Corbs 2

Incredible; I’ve just used this deck, with @Aurion’s suggestions to bring it up to 50, and beat Escape from Umbar for the first time. I’ve previously used another couple of decks to try and beat it, and failed around 25 times. Thanks @Xanalor and @Aurion!