Putting Angmar Back to Bed (#RCO)
I was inspired by the #RCO hashtag (thanks, @TheGameLocker!) to create a two-handed fellowship capable of taking down the entire Angmar Awakens cycle in campaign mode (including Carn Dum). My first iteration utilized hero Amarthiúl, but I really wanted a hero lineup that did not require adjustment for certain quests, hence the inclusion of Beregond as chief defender for the Dunedain deck. I will include my specific campaign notes (with SPOILERS on the boons/burdens) below the specific deck descriptions for any who are looking for specific piloting instructions.
Note on playing two-handed: I really enjoy the added deckbuilding options and gameplay decisions that come with playing two-handed (though I enjoy playing true solo as well), but there was a time when I found the idea intimidating. For those who are unsure about taking the plunge and giving it a try with physical cards, this article: https://talesfromthecards.wordpress.com/2013/02/06/a-guide-to-playing-two-handed/ is a classic. For those who find it easier to get in a game on dragncards, you can find Seastan's basic tutorial here: https://youtu.be/XNlDcmysP9k (once you get the hang of a few keyboard shortcuts, it plays very smoothly). I used dragncards for my own campaign playthrough.
"Lonely Men are We"
"Lonely men are we, Rangers of the wild, hunters - but hunters ever of the servants of the Enemy; for they are found in many places, not in Mordor only." - Aragorn, The Fellowship of the Ring
This deck can be constructed using only the Revised Core, Angmar Awakens Heroes Expansion, the Defenders of Gondor starter deck, and by pulling A Very Good Tale from the Dwarves of Durin starter. It is designed to be played across the table from a questing deck (specifically, one constructed mainly from the Elves of Lorien starter). The three heroes each have a particular set of skills, which make them a nightmare to any foes you may encounter ;).
Aragorn - He's the main attacker and leader (essentially giving a +1 buff for each attack you make). Once he's got a weapon and Unexpected Courage (from another deck), he can drag multiple enemies out of staging and dispatch them with ease. This is especially powerful once you have some attacking allies out, as you can avoid the attacks of higher engagement enemies by leaving them in staging until Scorpagorn is ready to drag them down.
Halbarad - The ability to optionally engage more than one enemy is quite useful in keeping the questing deck safe, and his bonus 2 without exhausting never hurts. He should get Steward of Gondor so that he can pay for Guardian of Arnor and eventually Faramir.
Beregond - As one of the top defenders in the game (w/sentinel too), he handles the bulk of the defense. Gondorian Shield, Raven-winged Helm, and Honour Guard help to keep him alive. In quests featuring multiple heavy hitters (i.e. Carn Dum), he can take the first Unexpected Courage.
General Strategy - Steward of Gondor is the obvious card to look for (and mulligan for) early, but other important cards to see are Gondorian Shield and Raven-winged Helm for Beregond, defensive allies, and any piece of the Sneak Attack + Gandalf classic combo. Ranger of Cardolan is another great panic button for early enemies (and can be an excellent target for A Very Good Tale in the refresh phase). Depending on the quest, you will probably want to use Gandalf w/Sneak Attack to either draw 3 cards or lower your threat, since enemies will often present less of an obstacle (and it's often not the end of the world if an enemy survives to stay engaged with you).
Miscellaneous Strategy - Favor of the Valar and Secret Vigil provide tech against quests that push threat (Wastes of Eriador, Mount Gram, Carn Dum). Descendants of Kings can be extraordinary for averting disaster. Gather Information is always solid, but it can also be critical to help the Elven deck find Nenya in a pinch.
Meet the Grandparents
"[Aragorn] did not know it, but Arwen Undomiel was also there, dwelling again for a time with the kin of her mother." - The Return of the King, Appendix A
This deck can be constructed using only the Revised Core, Angmar Awakens Heroes Expansion, and Elves of Lorien starter deck, the last of which forms the main structure (albeit optimized for stronger questing and support). The presence of Arwen Undómiel instead of Haldir grants stronger opening and access to the Elven-light engine. Once up and running, Arwen and her grandparents can contribute 10 before any allies enter play.
Arwen Undomiel - Strong willpower and resource acceleration (turned into card acceleration w/Elven-light) really make this deck run. Typically, she will give the extra resource to her Grandmother, but it can also go across the table to the Fiance when convenient. Equip her with Steed of Imladris once it comes out for additional questing power.
Celeborn - His boost to all Silvan allies speaks for itself, but he also provides 3 and access to for O Lórien!, Feigned Voices, and Naith Guides.
Galadriel - Card draw, threat control, pseudo-questing (very convenient for minimizing some of the nastiest weather treacheries!), tempo for allies entering play, the Lady of Lorien does it all. It is critical to get Nenya out ASAP to provide access to (otherwise the deck is capable of stalling out). One fun trick to combat Cold from Angmar is to damage Galadriel and then just quest with her until you can find healing.
General Strategy - Nenya and Elven-light are the most important cards to see early, but O Lórien! and a questing ally (either Galadriel's Handmaiden or Naith Guide) are also great. Quest hard and plan to chump whatever enemies cannot be covered by the sentinels across the table (or use Feigned Voices, which can be recycled by your Galadhrim Weavers). Generally, Scorpagorn will be able to grab these enemies after one round. Cancel the nastiest treacheries with A Test of Will, throw Unexpected Courage across the table, and use Host of Galadhrim when you need a massive tempo boost. Gather Information is present to help dig out Nenya if it is slow to show up. Otherwise, this plays very much like a typical Silvan build. Play allies for their effect, bounce them back with The Tree People or Feigned Voices, rinse & repeat.
Miscellaneous Strategy - Tale of Tinúviel is not only a really fun card to play, but it can lead to some great moments when it shows up. For best usage, exhaust Aragorn (in the other deck) to defend or attack a big enemy, play the Tale in the action window before that attack/defense resolves (using Galadriel to raise all of his stats by 4), and then he is able to ready and get another usage out of this massive boost.
Campaign Notes (SPOILERS!!!)
Intruders in Chetwood - This quest can really be swingy, based on how many side quests come out (and how close together!), but once the Dunedain were powered up, I was able to kill enemies and then immediately drag others down from staging and dispatch them easily. Even the Orc War Parties were chopped up with ease.
The Weather Hills - The weather treacheries can expose the main weakness of this fellowship (limited access to healing), but you can counter by going to Sheltered Valleys and sending allies with extra hit points (Beorn, Gandalf on the quest to soak up damage from Biting Wind. Quest hard, hope to avoid back-to-back-to-back treacheries or side quests, and you can get through. I completed Mysterious Omens on this quest and earned Cunning on Halbarad (enables a round 1 Steward of Gondor for the rest of the campaign) and Resolute on Arwen Undómiel (the free two damage cancellation each quest is really handy).
Deadmen's Dike - The Elven deck can struggle with all the enemies this quest can throw out, but the Dunedain have enough sentinel to hold down the fort. Watch out for the Power of Angmar side quest, which can shut down A Very Good Tale and Elven-light. At the end of this quest, I chose Amarthiúl's Courage, but was stuck with 4 damage on Protect the Innocent.
The Wastes of Eriador - The Day/Night mechanic is notoriously challenging, but both decks have enough threat reduction (recurring Gandalf and Galadriel's Handmaiden) to get set up and then burst explosively through stages 1 and 2. I was even able to completed Fend off Despair to earn a 2 reduction for the rest of the campaign.
Escape from Mount Gram - Start with Halbarad and Arwen Undómiel. The Dunedain will struggle to quest at first, but the Elves should be able to pick up the slack and join up with them soon. After that, it's just a matter of digging out all of your unique characters and "getting out of Dodge". I completed Loot the Dungeons to claim Chieftain's Brooch and Silverthorn (in retrospect, the Dunedain probably would have been better served with Laermuin for some extra healing).
Across the Ettenmoors - This quest is not the biggest challenge, and I was able to blow through in 4 rounds (only earning 1 copy of Losing Time) while completing Fend off Despair again (for a cumulative 4 reduction).
Treachery of Rhudaur - I started off aiming to Sift through the Debris, but Haunting Fog redirected me to Quiet the Spirits to earn Daechanar's Brand. If things play out well, it is possible to complete both side quests (Decipher Ancient Texts is probably a bridge too far) with this fellowship.
Battle of Carn Dum - Prior to this quest, I subbed out Gather Information (no time for extra side-quests), Derndingle Warrior (too long to get ready), and Valiant Sacrifice (since you are guaranteed an opening hand weapon for Foe-hammer). Besides Foe-hammer, throw in another Faramir and two Gondorian Spearmen. I continued using this version through the end of Dread Realm. For the Elven deck, I removed Gather Information, and one copy of Gandalf and The Tree People in favor of extra Lembas and another Steed of Imladris to increase healing potential and to help clear an Accursed Battlefield in a pinch (one usage of the Steed plus a Lórien Guide can immediately clear the battlefield and switch you back to willpower questing). I chose Elrond's Champion as my boon for early questing power.
Select Raiment of the Second Age as your opening campaign boon for the Dunedain. While it has it's greatest potential on Aragorn, in most games it makes more sense to equip Halbarad, who can quest without exhausting and then attack (especially important for the opening battle quest). Either way, this gives the two Dunedain a combined 7 , which is enough to take out the Carn Dum Garrison (and to drag down the second one w/Scorpagorn. The sooner you can do this, the better chance you have of gaining tempo on this quest. Do not be shy about using Aragorn to drag down enemies (allows Halbarad to quest and attack and helps to keep the board as clear of enemies as possible). With luck, the Elven deck will be able to play Unexpected Courage on your attackers quickly. Try to get as many allies out as possible to be ready to chump Thaurdir's attacks (this avoids putting Beregond at risk to a particularly nasty chain of shadow attack buffs). If you can keep the board relatively clear of enemies, you can weather the threat increase upon advancing to stage 2 and try to quest through and take out Thaurdir in 1-2 more rounds. At the end of this quest, I had a total of 4 damage distributed on my heroes (2 on Beregond, 1 on Aragorn, 1 on Celeborn.
The Dread Realm - The Dunedain do not fear being engaged with a swarm of puny reanimated dead, and so this quest is quite manageable. Descendants of Kings can set up a powerful combat phase. Be wary of killing off too many Cursed Dead w/out a way to prevent them from all rejoining the party later! Questing against any side quests that come up is a great way to deal with Sorcery condition attachments (since they will be discarded when you complete the side quest). Save Host of Galadhrim for the final questing push on stage 3.
I had a lot of fun putting these decks together and taking them through the Angmar Awakens Campaign. They will not one-shot every quest, but they stand a fighting chance even against the harder ones. They could also certainly be improved and tweaked for better efficiency, particularly by a larger card pool (Wait no Longer, Dagger of Westernesse, and Boromir are cards that spring immediately to mind if you have the Riders of Rohan starter and/or the Fellowship Saga Expansion. Nevertheless, I offer them as my contribution to the #RCO project. Happy questing!
Thanks so much for building this fellowship, and for taking up my #RCO challenge!