Green Anaconda


Green anacondas are the largest snakes in the world, capable of eating prey as large and dangerous as a jaguar. With their powerful jaw they clasp on to their prey, coil their body around it, and squeeze it to death, eventually swallowing it whole.

I set out to build a full four player mono lore fellowship and was pleasantly surprised to find it operated in very much the same manner as the anaconda, constricting the encounter deck until there was no life left in it. It was great fun and quite a departure from the typical in this game we love. It requires multiple copies of certain cards so it's not easy to play in person, even with a full card collection, but on OCTGN or on the table if you ever get the chance to try it out I hope you do.

Here's how it works.

There are four main avenues of constriction happening. Let's look at them one at a time.

Victory Display. Three of the four decks are equipped with three copies each of The Door is Closed!, a way to completely cancel cards that come out of the encounter deck. The catch is you have to have another copy of an encounter card in the victory display in order to cancel it when it is revealed from the deck, so we want to get cards in the victory display as quickly as possible. The Heart & Stomach deck is the primary cause of this, using all of the victory display tricks in the game. All four decks are equipped with three copies of [Keen as Lances](/card/10037, a useful utility card that should be free for everyone a few rounds into the game. Getting enemies into the victory display powers up Rossiel, who intends to become the fellowship's best defender.

Side Quests Lore's other form of cancellation of the encounter deck comes in the form of the Halfling Bounder, a pint-sized dynamo who can be discarded to cancel the when revealed effects of an encounter card just revealed from the encounter deck. Once again, three of the decks come fully-loaded with three of these guys. The catch with this one is there has to be a completed side quest in the victory display before he can go to work. Thurindir ensures we can start the game with the side quest Scout Ahead in play. So we want to clear that as quickly as possible (which also helps our victory display and encounter deck manipulation). The halfling bounders can't negate an encounter card as completely as The Door Is Closed can, which just discards the card no matter what is on it, but it is more versatile and can help with treacheries we haven't gotten in the victory display yet. Completing side quests is also essential in powering up our attackers, as our primary weapon is the Legacy Blade. Thurindir and Thalion also gain valuable benefits from completing side quests.

Traps Traps play an essential role in both combat and in questing. Their direct purpose is harassing and restricting enemies, which they do quite effectively, but they have the additional benefit of empowering our Emyn Arnen Rangers, which once again three decks have three copies apiece. This is our best means of powerful questing, of outpacing the encounter deck, and the higher threat an enemy you can trap the better these guys get in response. A higher threat enemy also leads to more powerful uses of Interrogation, which leads us to our forth form of constriction...

Scrying and Manipulation Not merely content to just cancel whatever comes out of the encounter deck, we also have ways of making it give us what we want to see and avoiding the worst of it. Scout Ahead is the most powerful version of this, allowing us to look at the top eight cards of the encounter deck, remove one from the game, and re-order the rest any way we like. We have three copies of Scout Ahead in our fellowship and each use of this is good for us on all fronts. Once an enemy is trapped Interrogation allows us to look at the top few cards and re-order them, tossing the ugliest of them in the discard pile. Risk Some Light has a similar but slightly less powerful effect but doesn't require any set-up, so it can help us right off the bat. Gildor's Counsel allows us to draw one less card all together. And if we find Firyal she can look at the top card of the encounter deck when she quests and discard it if she so desires.

And those are just the systems, there are also individual cards also limit the encounter deck in many ways.

~A Burning Brand completely cancels shadow effects when attached to the defending character.

~Secret Paths and Radagast's Cunning cancel out threat in the staging area.

~Thror's Map and Ghân-buri-Ghân cancel out travel effects.

~Miner of the Iron Hills discards conditions.

~Advance Warning keeps swarms of enemies from engaging.

~Haldir of Lórien kills off enemies before they can even attack.

~The Houses of Healing can return a hero from death.

All of this has the effect of squeezing the life out of the encounter deck: 18 different cards (9 each of The Door is Closed! and Halfling Bounder) that can just cancel cards that are revealed, 12 cards that remove cards from the deck so Sauron only gets one use out of them, or none at all, 15 recyclable and debilitating traps for the enemies that DO come out, and ten different opportunities to re-order the encounter deck to our liking. Meanwhile, Elrond and Vilya are building an army to just plain old outnumber Sauron's forces, providing the muscle we need to overpower our prey. Once this anaconda is wrapped around the encounter deck there's not much Sauron can do about it.

The real challenge here is getting that choke-hold on the encounter deck. The first few rounds Sauron starts out on even footing, or even with us on the defensive, and is quite dangerous. The anaconda first latches on to its prey with its mouth and holds on tight, trying to wrap its body around the prey while the prey fights to escape. We've got to hang in there early on in order to give our mechanisms time to get to work. The first couple rounds are essential to victory, so there are several cards here that help us get that initial grip.

To start with, clearing that first Scout Ahead is crucial for several reasons. It is connected to three of our avenues of constriction. Do whatever you can to clear it the first round, if at all possible. Some of the primary means to that end are Risk Some Light, Secret Paths, Radagast's Cunning, and sending Treebeard in the quest round one. He'll feel a lot safer doing this if he has some Lembas so he can quest all-out and still be healed and ready for combat. We have nine copies of Lembas so hopefully somebody can get one on him right away. Ranger Spikes is usually the best trap right away and helps with both questing and combat. The Scales deck is set up to defend as strongly as it can right from the start. As long as it can keep afloat in combat and you can quest successfully, victory is attainable.

Now, there are some types of encounter decks that are particularly tough for this fellowship to tackle. Two of the decks do NOT want to engage enemies most of the time, so quests where enemies start engaged with each player are tough. Same with quests that have a boss who sits in the middle and attacks everyone each round. There are a few ways to handle these--it's not a hopeless cause--but it's going to be tough sledding. Similarly, quests where you simply cannot afford to complete a side quest early (or ever) are a problem. As a whole, the faster Sauron starts the tougher it will be to catch up, but that's pretty universally true so it's hardly a unique weakness. Some kinds of prey are just not on the anaconda's menu.

As mentioned, it's tough to playtest this fellowship because it requires so many copies of cards that even a complete set of player cards leaves you short. Here's the list of player cards you need more than three copies of:

4 Gildor's Counsel

6 Guardian of Ithilien

6 Guardian of Rivendell

6 Legacy Blade

9 Lembas

9 Heed the Dream

9 Mithrandir's Advice

9 The Door is Closed!

9 Emyn Arnen Ranger

9 Halfling Bounder

12 Keen as Lances

I have been able to get a couple games in with it so far. It beat nightmare Passage Through Mirkwood pretty handily. Nightmare Journey Down The Anduin took three attempts to beat, as our first two had just insane starting rounds by Sauron. The third go was a good challenge and turned into a very satisfying victory. Hopefully I'll get more opportunities to test this out in the near future.

Somebody made a mono-Spirit fellowship a while back and it got my gears grinding on this idea. I'm glad it did. I've never seen or built anything quite like this before. Lore has TONS of tricks and this fellowship puts several of them on full display in a very cohesive manner. Most often what you find with lore in a fellowship is you'll have ONE deck committed to it. Maybe that's a trap deck and it's stocked with traps. Emyn Arnen Ranger turns into a beast, but he's only in that deck. Or you've got a Rossiel victory display deck but no other deck is carrying The Door Is Closed. Very useful decks but those fellowships don't explore the value they can bring fully. This one tries to and I think it succeeds quite enjoyably. I hope you can try it out yourself sometime.


Mar 24, 2019 FolcoBoffin 140

This is nuts, I've never seen anything so ambitious on this site. Looks like loads of fun, I'm glad it works!

Mar 24, 2019 The Purple Wizard 485

Thanks @FolcoBoffin! We got a couple more playtests in last night. First we got blocked by the I-forgot-how-ridiculous-this-is-in-four-player Celebrimbor's Secret, then we cruised through Across The Ettenmoors. It really seems the key for this is if you can quest and defend successfully in rounds one and two. If you can do that, victory is likely. I really want to try this against a slower, longer quest next, to see if the encounter deck just gives up by the end. :D

Mar 25, 2019 Mr. Underhill 2393

Looks awesome. I have one question / suggestion. Is there any reason you don't use Gather Information in the Thurindir deck? If you complete that turn 1 then you can go fetch Scout Ahead for next turn, and all of the other decks get to find a key piece of their puzzle. Seems especially good to get Vilya on Elrond too.

Mar 25, 2019 old_toby 7

This is fantastic, great creativity and fun. It's exactly what we need more of on the Fellowships part of the site.

For the Elrond deck, have you considered cutting the two extra events (Gildor's Counsel and Heed the Dream) so you can "blind Vilya" more safely. Vilya into the Guardian of Rivendell is amazing value. (I'm presuming that you aren't "allowed" other colour allies in this deck for Vilya and Elrond, otherwise there are lots of options here).

It's also a shame you're missing both Beravor and Denethor, both of whom would contribute well to this game plan. The Hobbit deck is running (Resourceful, Risk Some Light and Out of the Wild) as the only Secrecy cards with both Keen as Lances and Folco Boffin as threat reduction. Can either B or D fit in there? MMmmm, might be hard. Possibly you could swap out Galdor of the Havens and put Beravor in the Elrond deck - who is the better card draw engine? All the other heroes seem pretty integral to the deck concepts (or are just generally strong).

Mar 25, 2019 The Purple Wizard 485

Appreciate the thoughts...this is exactly why I would love to see some people playtest this further. :) Here's my answers as to the choices I've made thus far.

@Mr UnderhillI thought about it, but in every game I've played with this so far, if we were in good shape after two rounds we CRUISED to victory. So a lot of the choices here are made with the first two rounds in mind. The main reason I'd want Gather Information would be to find Vilya, the other decks don't have anything specific that's essential like that and they all have plenty of card draw. (I've been trying to figure out what my odds are of getting Vilya round one with the set-up I've already got is...with all the Heed the Dream contingencies, it's a complicated question, but it seems to be over 75%.) So most likely I already HAVE Vilya, and if that's the case Scout Ahead sets up just about everything else I'm doing so brilliantly. Putting an awful card in the victory display...probably a treachery...means we probably won't have to deal with other copies of that treachery for the rest of the GAME, with all our cancellation. And don't underestimate setting up the next seven cards. I didn't mention this but this allows you to take some undefended attacks the round you clear it, which is no big deal with all Lore's healing, and might mean the difference between killing off a couple enemies vs. losing allies early on. This builds momentum. Momentum gets us through round two/the next round successfully and now we're off to the races.

@old_tobyOnce again, you've got to think with the first round in mind. If we can succeed early we'll be fine. Do either of these heroes make us better in round one, especially in questing? I feel pretty confident in saying Beravor isn't needed. The hobbits have PLENTY of card draw and don't need it, and if you put it there to give somebody else card draw round one you're losing the two willpower you would gain from questing. Galdor helps you find Vilya faster than Beravor could, and he still quests round one. Beyond that, with Galdor there you don't really need any other card draw, since everything you've got is good and expensive. Denothor is trickier. Once again, if you use him you lose two willpower round one. Is his ability worth that? If it is, then where do you put him? Mirlonde might be the most expendable hero, so maybe there? You're still in secrecy, but his defense isn't utilized much in that deck and now a bad setup draw knocks us out of secrecy. Maybe we put him in Rossiel's spot and move her to the hobbit deck in Mirlonde's place? But Rossiel can turn into our best defender with her inherent ability and access to the only defense boost in Lore in Cloak of Lórien, do we really want to keep her away from the fighting? Late game, Denethor's ability is eclipsed by Interrogation, so if we want more of that we could just add more copies of that in the decks, so this really is all about the first few rounds. In my opinion I'd rather have the two willpower someone else provides for questing than Denethor. Actually, the hero it hurt most to leave out was Glorfindel. Three willpower and a powerful Asfaloth! But such high threat and once again who does he replace? Can't be Mirlonde this time, and everybody else has an important function. Gah!

In the Elrond deck I originally had three copies of Out of the Wild, actually, but I realized the timing of when to Vilya messed with the scrying other decks were doing. So it got cut. Gildor's Counsel could go too and free up our Vilya timing, I suppose, but it more than pulls its weight when we see it from Vilya. Such a good card! I've thought about Heed the Dream a lot. I wish I didn't need it in this deck. Maybe having it in the other decks is enough and I could drop it here? Or maybe Galdor is enough by himself? Now you've got me thinking, I could probably be better off with Protector of Lórien in place of Heed the Dream. It would help round one with questing AND allow us to drop cards from Elrond's hand to trigger Galdor's empty-hand card draw quickly if we need to. So we still find Vilya quickly but now we're better off the first round. Yay! PoL is also a better card to find blindly through Vilya than HtD is, though not enormously so.

Also, for the record, blind Vilya is just fun. :)

My rules for this build were only Lore heroes and only Lore or neutral decks. I could have made a much better fellowship and Elrond deck using hero Gandalf, but doing so felt like I was getting away from Lore too much and I mostly just wanted to see what Lore could pull off on its own. Trying ONLY Lore without neutral left me with too many weaknesses to overcome, so I ended up here.

Mar 26, 2019 Goggen 93

LoL - Until I read your last reply I was sure I wanted to suggest swapping Glorfindel for Galdor of the Havens, and simply mulligan hard for Vilya and nothing else.

Asfaloth is off course part of that (as you mention), but the main reason is his awesome stats that can really shine, especially in the first rounds. Having 3 is part of that, but you can also give him Lembas or Leather Boots and then he's perfect to both take an undefended hit and hit back with his 3 . He could add some muscle to your muscle!

It does also open up for Ally-Galdor and a very nice, tough slightly different, combo with Protector of Lórien (and also Daeron's Runes), but that' will require some setup and probably be less critical to the first rounds.

Now with Protector of Lórien to search for Vilya it's “Sophie's choice” all over again :-)

Mar 26, 2019 old_toby 7

Good replies, thank you Purple Wizard. I would love to see a set of Quest Logs against the Fellowship (on Nightmare ofc). Clearing the first two cycles would show it's quality.

Mar 26, 2019 The Purple Wizard 485

@GoggenGood thoughts and I appreciate them. You could certainly build a solid deck using Glorfindel in that spot, and it'd work great when you DO get Vilya first hand, but what's its back-up plan for when you don't? And does that back-up plan leave more holes in the deck for blind Vilya to whiff on? Blind Vilya is a fun deck but definitely tricky to pull off. I think after getting more playtesting in on all of this it's that deck that will see the biggest changes, whatever they are. I may even try Erestor in that hero spot and re-think the whole thing!

@old_tobyThat's a new feature on this site, right? I'll have to take a look at that.