The Hobbit Saga 3P: Over Hill and On The Doorstep
These are roughly the decks that my two sons and I used to beat The Hobbit Saga. It is (arguably) thematic if you accept that Dain joined the Quest for Erebor early (like, all the way back in the Shire), and Beorn + Eagles tagged along the whole way (even under the mountains). Mostly it uses cards from a single Core + SoM, and naturally both Hobbit boxes. The Lore+Spirit deck leans heavily on Master of the Forge to get attachments, so that deck should bring more draw power if the Master is unavailable. (We made big changes to that deck for BotFA that relied on a few key Ringmaker cards...sticking with the standard deck is likely to add a significant challenge.)
Dáin Ironfoot is really the key to this Fellowship; with 3 players all running dwarf-heavy decks, it was quite common for Dain to boost willpower by 8-10 per turn, which obviously had a huge cumulative impact. We only failed 3 times total in the entire Saga, with most of the credit to Dain's boosting. We might still be fighting Trolls west of Elrond's House if Dain had stayed in the Iron Hills like he did in the book.
Informal Quest Log:
Ere Away: Lost first attempt because we went in blind and didn't know to bulk up before Trolls. Second attempt was pretty straightforward, though we had to stall a bit to find the Key. What's the point of continuing without the treasure, right?
Misty Mountains: We jumped into the Saga having only played the Core box quests, and this is the first quest that really showed us how exciting the game can be, and how satisfying it can be to win! We succeeded on the first try, but just barely. It took two hours and it felt like we killed 100 goblins! After this quest, I started buying up all the trilogy Saga boxes I could find, knowing for sure we'd be into this game enough to justify the time & cost.
Dungeons Deep: We won on the first try, and it was pretty easy. Honestly we got super lucky in the riddling game and only failed the contest once. I could imagine a second playthrough would have been a lot tougher.
Flies and Spiders: Like the Trolls quest, we didn't look ahead before we started, so we were caught by surprise and lost pretty quick when Bilbo split. The second attempt we beefed up Bilbo and scraped out an ugly (but exciting) victory. I believe we lost at least two heroes (Thalin and maybe Beorn). We weren't playing with perma-death, so we took the win and got the hell outta Mirkwood. This was a really fun quest, probably the most likely one we'd replay if we felt like revisiting the Saga for a one-off.
The Lonely Mountain: We lost this pretty quickly the first attempt, mostly on bad luck in the burgling. There was some confusing switching between quest cards as well...overall we didn't love this quest design and were hoping for more with the only Smaug showdown in the box. (We have Battle of Laketown but it looks way too tough for our cardpool.) We did better on the second attempt, winning but with only three treasures -- Thrór's Hunting Bow ended up being very useful in our BotFA quest, The Arkenstone and Thrór's Golden Cup less so. None of us was interested in playing this one again to find the other treasures.
Battle of Five Armies: We changed heroes for the first time, adding Legolas and Haldir of Lórien to represent the support of the Wood Elves at the foot of Erebor. We won on the first attempt in epic fashion, across 2 play sessions spanning 3+ hours. Landroval had to revive a fallen Thorin (if only it could have happened in the book!), and Dori sacrificed himself (twice) to keep Beorn alive and defending tirelessly throughout. Haldir was able to be activated almost every turn to pick off an enemy before they could attack. While we felt confident mid-game that we all had strong boards and would win easily, a few progress-removing treacheries held us up. The game ultimately came down to the wire due to both threat and damage. High fives were made all around after Bolg fell, pierced by the Black Arrow from Legolas. This quest, far more than any of the others we played, had every player contributed in multiple, creative ways.
Onward to the Fellowship of the Ring Saga!