Bait and switch
Picture Glorg, Zargl, Vilgoz, and Craigrock, four orcs of average orc intelligence. Glorg, Zargl, Vilgoz and Craigrock are on watch duty while the rest of the platoon is sound asleep, dreaming of battle and pillage (except for captain Ulguz, who dreams of crocheting, his secret passion).
To protect themselves from the sun-that-hurts, the troop has settled on the edge of Fangorn, under the cover of the trees. Our four sentries are sitting around a large and relatively flat stump, playing dice. Craigrock is about to roll the dice when he hears a noise, coming from the forest.
"Did you hear that?" He asks his playmates. They frown. Craigrock thinks he heard the low voice of a dwarf cackling in the distance. "Must have been the wind", they say. Unconvinced, He decides to go investigate. Craigrock gets up and walks silently in the direction the noise came from. The voices of his comrades fade away as he goes deeper into the woods. About to give up, he hears the voice again. Craigrock has fought dwarves before, and he recognises the voice of one, singing. He pushes forward, following the sound coming ever closer.
After a while, Craigrock finally locates the singing dwarf, sitting on a rock in a clearing. Hidden behind a tree, Craigrock contemplates his options. He could run back for reinforcment, but if the dwarf was gone by the time he came back, he would be made fun of (and maybe punished). In the other hand, he could sneak up on it, kill it while it is distracted, and come back with a trophy. Silently unsheating his short-sword, Craigrock prepares to strike.
Before he can take another step, the tree he is standing behind suddenly turns, a branch catching him in the head, almost knocking him out. Craigrock falls on his back, and before he can make a noise, he sees a man and a man-child drop from the higher branches, both swords drawn. His scream is muffled by a sharp edge biting his throat.
Picture Glorg, Zargl, and Vilgoz, three orcs of average orc intelligence...
Bait and switch
This fellowship is designed to make Merry and Aragorn battle together, killing as many enemies in a turn as possible. This combo is not new, however this fellowship approches it in a new unique way. It is incredibly fun to play and creates memorable moments, i highly recommend you to download it and try it on OCTGN against an scenario with a swarm of enemies, expect some crazy rounds.
The basic combo works as following: attack an enemy with Merry and Aragorn together, killing it. Then trigger Aragorn's ability to engage an enemy not engaged with you (engaged with another player OR from the staging area), trigger Merry's ability to ready Aragorn, and use Rohan Warhorse or Fast Hitch to ready Merry. Rinse and repeat until out of action or until there is no enemy left in play.
Leveraging the combo
Assuming this is how we are going to kill ennemies, there are a few development we can make to generate value from this strategy:
Since we only need to engage one enemy to get started and kill enemies in staging, it is advantagous to have low threat, in order to avoid engaging more than one enemy and defending more attacks than necessary. The highest threat in this fellowship is the 24 of the aragorn deck, and enemies get +2 engagment cost from Pippin (who also lets us draw lots of cards while we are performing the combo).
Since that enemy will be engaged by the aragorn player, we will need defense to come from another deck. The obvious answer is to have a sentinel defender(which we have with Treebeard and (MotK) Arwen Undómiel), but i decided to go for something more fun (and flexible): Glóin The Grey Wanderer with Song of Mocking and Well Preserved can redirect to himself damage from undefended attacks on Aragorn, gaining resource in the process, and healing himself at the start of the next round.
Because Gloin will require us to play Ent Draught and to have some healing available, Treebeard is a perfect choice of hero. Since we need to keep threat low, he will be a wanderer as well, making use of Strider and working as an additionnal defender with 4 and sentinel thanks to (MotK) Arwen Undómiel. Also since Glóin will eventually carry Vigilant Guard Treebeard's ability will be incredibly powerful.
Using The Three Hunters, Golden Belt and War Axe, Merry and Aragorn will have enough to kill any enemy eventually, only using one restricted slot. Since they will be doing all the killing, i've decided to use Blade of Gondolin for the rest of their restricted slots (of which we have 9 accross all the decks). This will allow us to generate progress on the active location and on the quest during the combat phase, ensuring we make progress at a steady rate (sometimes clearing multiple stages in a single round!).(However we cannot make progress on a side quest outside of the quest phase)
Because we can make progress on the quest during the combat phase, the cost of playing side quests (not making progress on the main quest this round) is greatly reduced, which lets us run Gather Information and Double Back without losing too much time.
Because the progress generated by Blade of Gondolin will first go on the active location, we will often end up clearing the active location before the end of the round. To take advantage of that, we are using Explorer's Almanac and Strider's Path to potentially clear several locations a round.
We now have a solid plan to handle combat, and generate progress. However, by using two The Grey Wanderer we lose a lot of raw stat when it comes to . Treebeard helps with that, potentially questing for 9 by using The Grey Wanderer to heal mid-questing, but that is not enough.
Since we have a lot of excess copies of cards to improve consistency, i chose Éowyn as our second big gun quester: she will quest for 8 when we use her ability to the max. (MotK) Arwen Undómiel will also quest for 2 while giving treebeard sentinel, and so will Galdor of the Havens once he has Light of Valinor (before that he should be held back to use Healing Herbs).
And finally Galdor of the Havens is here for his second ability, to refill hands when they have been emptied (his ability is technically once per game for each player, which means Desperate Alliance can be used to make another player use his ability.
With a starting questing power of up to 23 (keeping Galdor of the Havens and Merry back), we should not fail questing during the first few rounds, especially if we can clear enemies and locations quickly.
Later in the game, we can give Pippin 2 Dagger of Westernesse (or an excess Blade of Gondolin or Citadel Plate) to flip the contract. with a Unexpected Courage on Aragorn we gain another 14 . And finally for the really big rounds when we want to clear an entire stage as well as several locations through Explorer's Almanac, we use Steward of Gondor+Gondorian Fire+Grappling Hook on Glóin to leverage his massive resource pool from taking all the damage.
The rest of the cards
Bilbo's Plan: This card lets us generate an extra enemy to kill for aragorn and merry on rounds where there are not enough enemies to exhaust all the readying we have, to generate more progress through Blade of Gondolin. Discarding a location is a bonus.
Campfire Tales and Second Breakfast: those are both draw 1 for everyone (since we can discard attachments to Éowyn), which gloin has resource for. Second Breakfast can also be used to recycle Grappling Hook, Healing Herbs, Explorer's Almanac and Secret Vigil.
Healing Herbs: absolutely ridiculous in this fellowship. Attach to Galdor, and enjoy healing 17 damage from gloin in the middle of (not) defending a bunch of attacks.
Unexpected Courage: One of them should go on Aragorn once the contract flips, others are for Treebeard so that he can defend more attacks (mostly attacks on himself or the galdor player, since Glóin can only (not) defend attacks against himself and aragorn/the hobbits.
This fellowship is immensly fun to play. You can look forward to that sort of round:
Use Desperate Alliance to have two players draw 6 instantly, use Grappling Hook and Explorer's Almanac to explore 3 locations at once while clearing a 20 progress stage in a single quest phase, then engage a bunch of enemies, let all the damage go to gloin generating 20 resource, use Healing Herbs to heal him up and keep going, generating even more resource, and then during attack killing 8 enemies with two heroes, while generating enough progress to clear one more location and complete a second stage of the main quest.
As usual, comments and questions of all sorts are welcome!
thanks to @doomguard, @kainveus and @TheGameLocker for inspiration