The Ring-maker

Description

Overview

Hi everyone,

I've decided to share some of the decks me and my friend group play with for particular cycles. This fellowship is meant to be played by 2 players for The Ring-maker Cycle. For more in-depth review of those decks check out their descrpitions :)

Each of those fellowships for each cycle contains two decks - one for players that I'm introducing to the game (Deck #1) and the other one for myself (Deck #2). Each of those Decks #1 is meant to represent the most fleshed out archetypes in the game, while Decks #2 are either some more niche archetypes or specific mechanics (think of Doomed keyword or Staging Area attack).

For additional flavour and some deckbuilding challenge I set up some rules regarding those decks:

Deck #1:

  • most represented archetypes in the game, for each cycle they were chosen either for theme or what player cards were developed during this time (mostly both at once), strictly sticking to the theme,
  • most powerful cards combination, while keeping in mind the rule above (so e.g. no Steward of Gondor in Silvan deck with , even though it is probably the most powerful card to include there),
  • no card repetition (this means, that even though A Test of Will is no doubt really powerful and technicaly fits the theme of many decks, it can be only included in one of those Decks #1)

Deck #2:

  • niche and underdeveloped archetypes in the game, for each cycle they were chosen either for theme, what player cards were developed during this time or what is the best approach to beat those particular quests,
  • sticking to theme as much as possible (it was sometimes not possible to make a functional deck around a niche archetype while only including thematic cards),
  • also the most powerful card combinations, while keeping in mind the rule above,
  • no restriction on repetition (meaning even when previous Decks, either #1 or #2, used A Test of Will, it's possible to include them in every Deck #2 - I'm not a masochist. I hope.).

Also, while appreciating what this community can create but being a bit of a purist, I've decided to include ALeP cards only to a minimum, when it's either necessary to complete the archetype or it makes obvious thematic and mechanical sense.

Another thing I forgot to mention in first two fellowships is that no changes can be made for those decks while playing for consistency's sake. So no swapping heroes or other cards between the quests.

Cycle

Scenarios in the fourth cycle of the game started to take more of a modern approach of quests. They are more demanding, introduce new mechanics, are more consistent and put a pressure on a player to not stall too much. All of the above are great inclusions, however regarding the last one it seems developers tried to push really hard the concept of punishing turtling with the Time keyword. This new mechanic tried to persuade players to finish given objectives quickly otherwise they will have to deal with numerous consequences. Probably because of this, Voice of Isengard box and The Ring-maker cycle aren't remembered fondly among the community. Personally I don't think it comes strictly from the Time mechanic; later quests, albeit not using this specific keyword, still try to make players keep up with the encounter deck through various triggers that go off when left unchecked. The problem lies more in how this Time keyword was introduced here. There are some quests where this inclusion seems fair and balanced and also unique, keeping player on their toes but not outright ending the game when Time triggers (The Fords of Isen, The Dunland Trap, The Three Trials). In others this mechanic seems a bit forced, like it was included only for the sake of having this keyword in scenario (Trouble in Tharbad, Celebrimbor's Secret). And there are quests where the Time is just straight up unfair, annoying to deal with and game-ending without real enjoyment (Into Fangorn, To Catch an Orc, The Nin-in-Eilph, The Antlered Crown). I would say it's shame we didn't get to see this keyword later, however if the proportions of how well implemented this mechanic would be could have mirrored this cycle, maybe it's for the best. Even though both quest-wise and lore-wise this cycle might seem all over the place, it's still poses some unique challenges and unpopular settings - it's definitely a blast to fight Dunland folks, visit unexplored locations like Swanfleet and slowly realise that maybe we are helping Saruman a bit too much... Here is quick overview for each scenario while using this fellowship:

  1. The Fords of Isen (Difficulty 3/5) - your standard warm-up quest, not too hard, not too easy. I think it introduces well the mechanics of Dunland enemies and hate for draw. Keep that in mind while using Galadriel or Deep Knowledge. Vital information is also that effects that punish drawing cards are not triggered when searching your deck for a card (think of Mirror of Galadriel or The Seeing-stone). With careful planning you can still dig through your deck without much reprecusion.

  2. To Catch an Orc (Difficulty 4/5) - extremly annoying quest, probably the worst implementation of Time keyword. Nenya is very important since you want to quest successfuly every round. In the Doomed deck Strider can be captured in those 20 cards you have to put away, so it's not a bad idea to hard mulligan for it. The rest of the quest is also luck dependent. Seeing Mugash in first round is probably a scoop, so it's better he shows up later since scenario doesn't foucs on increasing your threat that much.

  3. Into Fangorn (Difficulty 2/5) - and on the other hand this is a very easy quest. Just rush through, there is really no point even in attacking those Huorn enemies. Grab those that increase threat by 2, tank it, and just focus on the willpower.

  4. The Dunland Trap (Difficulty 5/5) - the second very, very, very hard quest while playing those fellowships. You have to deal with 2 annoying enemies from round one. Cards in the encounter deck are also nasty. And then when you establish your board, you have to basically reset midway through the quest. The most important part in my opinion is transition between quest stages. Try to clean the board of all enemies and when ready don't play any allies, just keep them in hand for the last stage. You can even bounce Silvans back since you will be discarding all but one. Third stage is fight for your life, don't be afraid of chumpblocking but keep the number of enemies in check since all of them will atack at the end of the game. Also try to keep Power of Orthanc for In Need of Rest, so a hero doesn't just collapse in the last stage. Definitely a very hard quest but personally I like it for it uniqueness.

  5. The Three Trials (Difficulty 3/5) - the difficulty here comes mostly from what combination of Guardians and Barrows you get. The best trial order in my opinion is: Intuition, Perseverance and Strength. Also keep in check your threat, during playtesting it has often came too close to threating out.

  6. Trouble in Tharbad (Difficulty 2/5) - I would say this quest is quite easy, even with the Doomed deck in play. It may take a bit more to clear first stage this way but still it shouldn't be a big deal. Unfortunately Galadriel's ability to draw and decrease threat is shut down here so keep that in mind.

  7. The Nin-in-Eilph (Difficulty 4/5) - antoher very annoying quest, that can also drag on for a while. Grab Hidden Eyot as one of the locations during setup. Then keep it for the stage with discarding cards from your hand since it's definitely the easiest. The other two either shut down The Grey Wanderer and drawing cards or make you play one card per round which is bad for both of the decks. Stages No. 3 are a bit easier and with board already set-up you shouldn't wait anymore and just try to beat the quest. Remember that Marsh-Dweller is not immune to player card effects so you can Feigned Voices or The Wizards's Voice it.

  8. Celembrimbor's Secret (Difficulty 3/5) - this quest in my experience can put a real strain on your questing, so Nenya is a priority. Apart from that it's not that complicated, I would try to minimize the Orc's Search since later it can inrease your threat a lot.

  9. The Antlered Crown (Difficulty 4/5) - the last quest which unfortunately is also annoying. All those locations with Time triggers can make a head hurt. Even though this quest is supposed to depict some great battle, questing is priority to clear those locations. Nenya is basically mandatory here. Even though decks in the fellowship don't have much location control, neat trick is to play Woodland Courier at least once and put one progress on some location in staging area. That way this Driven Back treachery will almost entirely whiff. Quite funnily Fierce Folk treachery is direct counter for both of the decks here since they rely on events heavily, so keep it in mind and maybe do some shenanigans before staging. On the last stage try to clear the Raven Camp in one go and kill the Chieftan the same round. Effects on both those cards are quite bad, so don't try to stall there.

Conclusion

So this pretty much sums up the fellowship. Keep in mind it's designed for this particular cycle and with some rules that I stated at the beginning of the description. Feel free to try those decks out!

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