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Posted: Sat Jun 09, 2007 12:22 pm
Joined: 22 Apr 2007 Posts: 191 Location: Quebec, Canada
Block Format Deck Building, the evolution of the game.
What to know for each of those Blocks

When Decipher announced the rotation, I was sad to learn that I wouldnít be able to use some of my favourite cards. Then, they also introduced us to a new site path mechanic, which dramatically changed the game forever. Site path manipulation became as important as say, possession removal. While this article will not debate over the pros and cons of those changes, I will explore a format that I became to appreciate more and more. This article is very long, just so you should know.

Table of Contents
Why do I love this format?
Deck Building in a Block Format
Fellowship Block
Fellowship Block Mechanics
Fellowship Decks
Two Towers Block new additions
Two Towers Block Mechanics
Here are some Two Towers Decks now
King Block new additions
King Block Mechanics
Here are some King Decks now

Why do I love this format?

Maybe itís because I bought my first starter on the day the Realms of the Elf-lords hit the market (I bought Legolasí starter at the time, one of my Rares was the Palantir of Orthanc, and my friends hated that card from the beginning) and I say the evolution of this game from its firsts breathing. Iíve bought boosters from every set after that.

Deck Building in a Block Format

During the first 3 Blocks of The Lord of the Rings TCG, Decipher tended to focus on some particular strategies, and new mechanics appeared along the way. Itís also true from the later expansions but I feel the bounds within the sets are weaker, especially for the freepeople sides. With that in mind, we now have focus on the mechanics inside the Block weíre playing to build a deck correctly in order to have a deck that is versatile enough to face anything thatís coming in our way.

I will now take a look at each of those Blocksí main/new mechanics with some example of popular decks at that time.

Fellowship Block

Well, for the first Block, every mechanic was a new one, and even if we are familiar with the right now, I will explain the importance of each one IN THE BLOCK.

First of all, The One Ring, Isildurís bane: of the 3 movie block rings, this one is the only one you can wear as a response action. It gives Frodo both Strenght and Vitality boosts, but it is the only ring ever made that adds 2 burdens for each wound.

Fellowship Block Mechanics

Ally: Fellowship Block is the one with the most allies; in fact, every culture except Gondor has some. Among the most used for each culture dwarves had Thrarin, Dwarven Smith, one of the most splashed allies in solo companion decks.

The elves had plenty of them, strong ones too. Galadriel, Lady of the Light was the central part of most decks for her ability to play an elf for free. 3 of those allies even got to the X list: Galadriel, Lady of the Light for her choking capacities with the many elf companions of the Two Towers Galadriel, Lady of the Golden Wood for her impact on the WotR Block site path mechanic and Elrond, Lord of Rivendell for his Drawing capacity.

The hobbit had some good ones like Bounder. The Hobbit Hospital deck will show you some use of those allies later in this article.
Finally, Gandalf had Barliman Butterbur, Prancing Pony Proprietor for event recursion and Albert Dreary, Entertainer from Bree for condition removal.

Archery/wounding: Still seen a lot today, archery is the direct wounding of this TCG. Elves and Moria dominated this side with cards like Elven Bow, Legolas, Greenleaf, Double Shot, The Splendor of their Banners, Bitter Hatred, Goblin Marksman and Moria Archer Troop. Gondor had Gondor Bowmen and Aragornís Bow, while Insegard had Lurtz, Servant of Isengard and Orthanc Assassin. Sauron Dealt archery wound with the infamous Orc Bowman, Hate, Under the Watching Eye deck (see below).

Cards like Shield of Boromir, Elven Cloak, Goblin Archer, Mithril-coat, Uruk-hai Armory or The Cave Trollís Chain helped a lot to reduce the damages caused by this strategy.

Assign to a companion minion: Mostly seen with Ulaire Toldea, Messenger of Morgul, Saruman, Servant of The Eye, Bill Ferny, Return to its Master and Orc Assassin. This is self explaining I think, overwhelm, kill or win the skirmish.

Character hate: Can You Protect me From Yourself, Betrayal of Isengard, Such a Little Thing, Too Great and Terrible, Terrible as the Dawn, Why Shouldnít I Keep It? Those were sometimes splashed to get rid of some annoying characters, only the dwarves were safe.

Choke: What to say, Bill the Pony, Aragorn, Heir to the White City, An Able Guide, there were a lot. The idea is to deny the twilight to the Shadow player to keep the Fellowship out of harms way.

Corruption/burden removal: Every shadow had a way to corrupt, just think twilight nazgul, Lost to the Goblins, Worry and Desperate Defense of the Ring. Some proved better than others as you should notice. To remove them there were Sam, Son of Hamfast, Narya, Gandalfís Pipe and Elf Song (the only elven card ever written that does so) among them.

Damage +1: Welcome to the land of the Uruk-hai, the Dwarves, and the possessions (Gwemegil, Rangerís Sword, Glamdring, Blade of Gondor, Gimliís Battle Axe). Itís way more impressive in the Shadow cultures though, Lurtzís battle cry, lurtzíz sword, the cave trollís hammer, the balrogís sword, dark whispers, the pale blade, the idead is to kill a companion in a single skirmish no matter how much vitality he has. Final cry anyone? That is why one of the best defense is a card like armor, valiant man of the west, mithril-coat, gimliís helm or gandalfís staff to cancel the skirmish. Beware of the whip of many thongs and beyond the height of men, those cards can mess your defenses up.

Defender +1: One word, Aragorn Ranger of the North. Well, more than one, but this card was loved since the beginning, because it would insure good swarm prevention at site 9 (be carefull for Emyn Muil though). That is why it might be a good idea to keep this companion in mind when you run a swarm. Valiant man of the west and banner of the white tree are other examples for this block.

Discard/draw Cards: Like in most TCG this was a strategy of this block. Dwarves both Draws cards (Delving) and discards them (Dwarven axe, Nobody Tosses a Dwarf). The Uruk-hai played cards like Lurtzís Sword while Sauron had The Tower of Barad-dur and Desperate Defense of the Ring. Moria draws the most of the Shadow Culture with the Goblin Scimitar and the Hobbits with Old Toby.

Fierce: Big bad Nazgul, Lurtz, Servant of Isengard, Savagery to Match Their Numbers, Saruman, Keeper of Isengard, The Balrog, Flame of Udun, The Cave Troll of Moria, Scourge of the Black Pit.

Move limit: Gift of Boats, Durinís Secret, Their Number must be Few, Bree Gate, Rivendell Waterfall. With Bree Gate and Rivendell Waterfall on the site path and 4x Durinís Secret in hand, Fellowship Block is the only one where you could move from 1 to 9 in a turn in single player! Start with Arwen, Daughter of Elrond (your elf and your ranger) and Gimli, Dwarf of the Mountain-race (your dwarf with a choking ability), play 4x Durinís Secret, 4x Gandalf, Friend of the Shirefolk, 4x A Wizard is Never Late to get him out fast 4x Ottar, Man of Laketown to cycle through your deck and to heal him a lot, to cycle more (this is now impossible with the rule of 4 butÖ) Glamdring x4 (empty the pool) and when the move limit is +6, go through site 9 (without muster or any such cycling capacity, the shadow player gets clogged with FP cards) and stop when there are too many minions.

Rule of 5: Greed and Ulaire Enquea, Lieutenant of Morgul were enough to keep the crowd down.

Site path manipulation: Pathfinder, Speak Friend and Enter, Galadriel, Lady of the Golden Wood.

Skirmish cancellation: Hobbits stand all the way with Hobbit Stealth, Hobbit Intuition, Filibert Bolger, Wily Rascal O Elberteh, Gilthoniel! (those two made a trip to the X list before the rule of skirmish cancellation on RB). Gandalfís Staff and Voice of Nimrodel were the 2 non hobbit cards of the Block.

Twilight generation: Goblin Armory was the perfect example of how to set up a swarm, but Tower Orthanc is nice too.

Fellowship Decks

Dwarves Draw cards like no other, so does Moria, and they need many cards to Swarm. Both love the underground sites; here are 2 good reasons to play them together. Hereís the Deck. 40 cards.

Frodo, Old Bilboís Heir
The One Ring, Isildurís Bane

1 Westfarthing
2 Trollshaw Forest
3 Frodoís Bedroom
4 Mithril Mine
5 The Bridge of Khazad-dum
6 Dimrill Dale
7 Anduin Wilderland
8 Shores of Nen Hithoel
9 Summit of Amon Hen

Gimli, Dwarf of Erebor (start)
Gloin, Friend to Thorin (start)
Fror, Gimliís Kinsman x2
Farin, Dwarven Emissary x2

Grimir, Dwarven Elder
Thrarin, Dwarven Smith

Gimliís Battle Axe
Gimliís Helm
Dwarven bracers x2
Hand axe x2
Dwarven axe x3
Dwarven armor x2
Book of mazarbul
Hobbit sword

Mines of khazad-dum x2
Song of durin x2
Till durin wakes again x2
Stairs of khazad-dum x2

Delving x2
Axe strike x4
Their halls of stone x4


Goblin backstabber x4
Goblin runner x4
Goblin scavengers x4
Goblin sneak x4
Goblin warrior x2
Goblin scrabbler x2
Guard commander x2
Moria scout x2

Goblin armory x4
Goblin swarms x3
The Underdeeps of Moria x3
They Are Coming x2

Goblin scimitar x4

Now, hereís my Hobbit Hospital deck paired with Uruk-hai.

I chose this one over pipeweed because it only works within the block. Note that I didnít include any expanded X or R list card in the decks so it can remain fun to play against: 32 cards.

Frodo, Old Bilboís Heir
The One ring, isildurís bane

1 green hill country (central point of the deck because of the Hobbit Farmer)
2 buckland homestead
3 Frodoís Bedroom
4 hollin
5 The Bridge of Khazad-dum
6 valley of the silverlode
7 the great river
8 anduin banks
9 slopes of Amon Hen


Merry, horticulturalist (start)
Pippin, hobbit of some intelligence (start)
Sam, proper poet (start)

Bilbo baggins, retired adventurer
Bounder x2
Farmer maggot, chaser of rascals
The gaffer, samís father
Hobbit farmer x2
Hobbit party guest x4
Master proudfoot, distant relative of Bilbo
Rosie cotton, hobbiton lass
Filibert bolger, wily rascal
Melilot brandybuck, merry dancer
Old noakes, purveyor of wisdoms

Hobbit sword x4

Hobbit stealth x4
Hobbit intuition x4


Lurtz, servant of isengard x3
Orthanc assassin x3
Troop of uruk-hai x4
Uruk lieutenant x4
Uruk captain x2
Saruman, servant of the eye

Lurtzís sword

Sarumanís ambition x4
Tower of orthanc x2

Lurtzís battle cry x4
Beyond the height of men x2

Finally, the Archery Deck: 30 cards

Frodo, Reluctant Adventurer
The One ring, isildurís bane

1 the prancing pony
2 trollshaw forest
3 council courtyard
4 eregion hills
5 The Bridge of Khazad-dum
6 lothlorien woods
7 silverlode banks
8 anduin banks
9 slopes of Amon Hen

Legolas, Greenleaf (start)
Arwen, daughter of Elrond (start)
Aragorn, king in exile
Boromir, lord of gondor x2

Orophin, lorien bowman x2
Rumil, elven protector x2

Aragornís bow x2
Elven bow x2
Blade of gondor
Rangerís sword

The splendor of their banners
The saga of elendil
The tale of gil-galad
The last alliance of elves and men x2
Gondor bowmen x4

Double shot x4
Power according to his stature x2


Orc assassin x4
Orc scouting band x4
Orc scout x2
Orc ambusher x2
Morgul hunter x4
Tower assassin x2

Orc bowmen x4
Under the watching eye x4

Hate x4

Other deck ideas from FotR block:

Pipeweed, Rangers choke, nazgul beatdown, Isengard orcs, moria archery, lady of the light deck, twilight nazgul, sauron discard corruption, friend of the shirefolk deck. Check them out from the Fellowship thread in the deck desing.

Two Towers Block new additions

Letís talk about that Ring, Mr. Bubbles, The One Ring, Answer to all Riddles. It gives a nice +2 to vitality AND can grant a +2 to strength while Frodo wears it. While it seams nice, it can turns against you when facing archery if Frodo is exhausted, because you can only wear it in the skirmish phase. Cavern Entrance was kind of annoying too.

This Block brought 4 new cultures, though Moria disappeared with the exception of The Balrog, Terreor of flame and shadow and durinís tower. Those new cultures were Rohan, Raiders, Gollum and Dunland.

Rohan is composed with lots of possessions, spears and mounts that exerts in the beginning of the skirmish. This makes sure no one survives in the regroup phase, or even in the fierce skirmish. Eomer, Third Marshall of Riddermark became so powerful, players had to prepare against this very companion when they get to their local tournament. Along with Simbelmyne and Firefoot, this guy was the most wanted companion of its time.

One of the ways to get around this guy was the Dunland Culture: undercost site 3 minions with big strength but no vitality. I loved it at first sight. It was hard enough to get the Hides though. Why was it the bane of Eomer, Third Marshall of Riddermark? Because they could not be exerted to boost his strength, and they did tend to get rid of eomerís spear and firefoot with cards like War Club. Too long have these peasants stood along with war club and dunlanding warrior insures you that nothing is left on the table except companions, then, a couple of dunlending elder with 2 sites would make sure even the companions would get wiped out. There are also minions like Hillman mob which gives you the opportunity to play a minion in the skirmish phase, something that had never happened before. This guy could play wild men of the hills, an 18 strenght beast for 2 twilight tokens or dunlending reserve for free!!!

Raiders can be divided in two, the Southrons and the Easterling. While some of them might fit well together (desert legions in an Easterling deck), most often we will see them apart from one another. They Easterling tend to deal with burdens, while the Southrons tend to deal with archery and wounding, skirmish and regroup abilities with the Ambush mechanic, and some site control.

Gollum is pretty much a surprise as how itís going to be next with each new sets, because itís a pretty versatile culture. Itís the only two sided culture. Burdens and wounds was how it was first made in the Two Towers Block. Gollum, Stinker was a good addition to the Easterling decks, while They Stole It was nice with the Southrons. Smeagol, naturally, was made to be played with Frodo and Sam. Sam, nice sensible hobbit, Frodo, master of the precious, no help for it, rare good ballast, sting baggins heirloom and you must help us will show you what I mean.

For the already existing culture, here are the changes.

Dwarves were down to just Gimli, so the culture became real close to the elves. Gimli, unbidden guest, quick as may be, lend us your aid. In addition to the elven archery, gimli had baruk khazad. He also started to stack cards on his conditions to get benefits, courtesy of my halls, from the armory, here is good rock, ever my heart raises, toss me.

Elves. The naith Company. An interesting strategy, play a naith longbow on naith companions to get a bonus. Erethon, naith lieutenant, pengedhel, naith warrior, thonnas, naith captain, taurnil, sharp-eyed bowman, naith warband. So these guys did not add to the archery total but were stronger. For the Archery, better play some Lorien swordsmen, these guys were great. Finally, How can I talk about Two Towers elf without mentioning Legolas, Dauntless Hunter. Paired with the 2 unbound hobbits and Aragorn, Wingfoot, this deck was pretty annoying. Choked reached the point of a NPE with this deck. The birth of the telepathy (apart from stupid mallorn trees) is from Two Towers too.

Gondor brought 2 exciting decks to the game: Rangers and Knights. While the rangers are specialists for avoiding to fight their foe with sheer strength, knights wanted to overwhelm them. Arrows thick in the air, curse them, rangerís bow and new errand are cards for the non skirmishing rangers like faramir, captain of gondor, mablung, soldier of gondor and damrod, ranger of ithilien. All the rangers had to do is to keep the minions roaming. No problem there with gondorian ranger and ancient roads. For the Knights, Alcarin, warrior of Lamedon was on the front row of Osgiliath. With city wall, citadel of the stars and war must be, the knights could get pretty strong. The best Common companion ever made in my opinion, Faramir, son of denethor, realy shines in this format by the way, I had to mention.

Gandalf stays Gandalf, he plays spells to help everyone out, but in this set, the Ents were born. Quickbeam, bregalad, skinbark, fladrif and treebeard, guardian of the forest are there with the host of fangorn to get of piece of the Uruk-hai. The Two Towers Ents are Unhasty, so they must be played with more hasty unbound hobbits, like merry, impatient hobbit or pippin, hastiest of all.

Now for the Hobbits, well, a 4 hobbit deck isnít that good in the Two Towers Block. Either pair it with some Hunters (Legolas, dauntless hunter, Aragorn, wingfoot, gimli, lockbearer), some Ents, or with Smeagol. A special mention needs to be made to Frodo, Courteous Halfling, who rips the condition discarding apart. Bravo, one less NPE. An interesting thing to mention is the lack of swarm in this Block. Frodo is tanked when he bears Sting, baggins heirloom, because the shadow sides tend more to beatdown (with the exception of Sauron orcs, isengard orcs with stupid swarm, or the uruk regular swarm, which was X-ed)

Sauron and the Ringwraith were mostly gone from this set. It is possible to build a Sauron swarm with teeth of mordor and a lot of cheap minions that allows you to draw cards, but thatís about it (Iíll let those twilight minions like corpse lights aside, thereís nothing good that can be done with them, really).

Isengard on the other hand saw their apogee in the Two Towers Block. Wargs, site control, archery, grind, beatdown, swarm, hand clog, trackers, battleground, fierce, berserker, damage +1 or 2Ö name them. You have 147 cards to build decks with this culture in this block. I will list some key cards here to show you what I mean, because there are lots of possibilities I didnít even had time to explore over the years. Broad-bladed sword, burning of the westfold, down to the last child, grima, wormtongue, lieutenant of orthanc, mauhur, patrol leader, orthanc champion, the palantir of orthanc, seventh seeing-stone, pillage of rohan, race across the mark, ranged commander, Saruman, black traitor, ugluk, servant of saruman, unferth, grimaís bodyguard, uruk assault band, uruk besieger, uruk regular, uruk spear, uruk vanguard, uruk-hai band, weapons of isengard, weary, berserk slayer, foul horde, war warg, agents of orthanc, isengard mechanics and so on and so forthÖ

Two Towers Block Mechanics

Ambush: Mostly used for cards like whirling strike and desert spearman, but it can be nice with an army of haradrim or southron assassin.

Discarding hobbits: Every version of merry and pippin involves discarding them in this Block. Discarding means you will lose the skirmish but wonít die, so knocked on the head, treebeard, earthborn, or Gandalf, greyhame will play them back.

Site Control: This is mostly used for Dunland. Ready to fall and Dunlending elder made dunland 2 sites a famous strategy. Hilman horde is a nice way to get everyone stronger too. The Uruk-hai used those sites with burning of the westfold, pillage of rohan, uruk besieger, uruk vanguard, uruk-hai band. Anyway, there was a need to liberate sites more than in any other formats in this set. Keep that in mind when deck building. How to liberate those sites: Haldir, emissary of the galadhrim, sword-wall, forests of ithilien, helm! Helm!, theoden, son of thengel, let us be swift, banner of elbereht, crack into rubble, banner of westernesse, banner of the mark. When building in this format, try to run some of those, they are more important than condition discarding against certain decks.

Ring-bound/unbound: Cool concept, it could protect some of your companions out of harms way (grima, wormtongue, hornburg causeway to name some). The Easterling loves to deal with that concept to add burdens (easterling gurad, gathering to the summons). The ring-bound rangers can realy mess up a corruption deck based on easterling guard and easterling lieutenant.

Telepathy: Galadriel, keeper of nenya, Elrond, keeper of vilya, forarmed and forewarned and naith longbow are pretty much all the telepathy in the Block, but still, itís a nice beginning. The best way to counter telepathy is the palantir of orthanc, seventh seeing-stone.

Unhasty: This one is annoying, it forces you to exert or discard cards from hand as an additional cost to assign a minion to an unhasty character. If the shadow player can either kill or exhaust all the hobbits, it is much easier to swarm after that, because some of the ents wonít be able to fight.

Here are some Two Towers Decks now

Rohan villagers / Dunland 2 sites deck 32 cards.

Frodo, Courteous Halfling
The One Ring, Answer to all Riddles

1 horse country
2 rohirrim village
3 westemnet plains
4 westemnet hills
5 helmís gate
6 great hall
7 kingís room
8 ring of isengard
9 orthanc balcony

Eowyn, sister-daughter of theoden (start)
Eomer, third marshal of riddermark (start)
Gamling, warrior of rohan
Hama, doorward of theoden

Guma, plains farmer
Hlafwine, village farmhand
Leod, westfold herdsman
Weland, smith of the riddermark
Ecglaf, courageous farmer

Well stored x3
Thundering host x4
We left none alive

Riderís mount x2
Riderís spear x2
Eomerís spear
Eowynís sword
Sting, baggins heirloom

Simbelmyne x4
Helm! Helm!

Hill chief
Hillman horde x2
Hillman tribe x4
Saruman, rabble-rouser x2
Wulf, dunlending chieftain x2
Dunlending elder x4

Hides x4
War club x3

Ready to fall x3
Constantly threatening

Burn every village x4
Too long have these peasants stood x2

Ring-bound rangers, Isengard men 35 cards

Frodo, tired traveller
The One Ring, Answer to all Riddles

1 plains of rohan
2 uruk camp
3 barrows of edoras
4 white rocks
5 helmís gate
6 hornburg armory
7 deeping wall
8 wizardís vale
9 orthanc balcony

Faramir, captain of gondor (start)
Mablung, soldier of gondor (start)
Damrod, ranger of ithilien x2
Gondorian ranger x4

Faramirís cloak
Faramirís bow
Rangerís bow x4
Sword of gondor x4

Ancient roads x4
Forests of ithilien
henneth annun
forbidden pool
boromir, my brother
ruins of osgiliath

pathfinder x4
new errand x4

Saruman, black traitor x4
Grima, son of galmod x4
Unferth, grimaís bodyguard x4
Rohirrim traitor x4
Agents of orthanc x4

Sarumanís staff, wizardís device x2
The palantir of orthanc, seventh seeing-stone

Twisted tales x2

Banished x2
Leechcraft x2
Wounded x2
Desertion x4

Knights / Easterling Corruption 32 cards

Frodo, Courteous Halfling
The One Ring, Answer to all Riddles

1 western emyn muil
2 wold of rohan
3 golden hall
4 white rocks
5 hornburg parapet
6 hornburg armory
7 hornburg wall
8 wizardís vale
9 palantir chamber

alcarin, warrior of lamedon (start)
turgon, man of belfalas (start)
gondorian knight x4

citadel of the stars x2
city wall x4
stone tower
rally point x2
garrison of osgiliath x2

sword of gondor x2
banner of westernesse x2
sting, baggins heirloom

take cover x2
fall back x2
men of numenor x2
war must be x4

Easterling captain x2
Easterling army x2
Easterling guard x4
Easterling lieutenant x4
Easterling skirmisher x4

Easterling polearm x4

Discovered x2
New fear x2
Gathering to the summons x4
Vision from afar x4

Ents / Uruk-hai site control

Frodo, Courteous Halfling
The One Ring, Answer to all Riddles

1 western emyn muil
2 fangorn forest
3 golden hall
4 white rocks
5 deep of helm
6 caves of aglarond
7 hornburg wall
8 wizardís vale
9 palantir chamber

Merry, impatient hobbit (start)
Pippin, hastiest of all (start)
Quickbeam, bregalad (start)
Treebeard, guardian of the forest
Skinbark, fladrif x2
Host of fangorn
Ent horde
Gandalf, the white wizard x4

Gandalfís staff, walking stick

Enraged x4

Grown suddenly tall x2
Boomed and trumpeted x4
Long slow wrath x2
Knocked on the head x4
Crack into rubble x2

Uruk besieger x4
Uruk trooper x4
Uruk veteran x4
Uruk stormer x4
Uruk-hai band x3

Burning of westfold x2
Attack on helmís deep x3
Down to the last child x2
Pillage of rohan x2

We are the fighting uruk-hai x4

Other interesting deck ideas would be:

Naith army, Frodo/sam/smeagol, Gandalf, Mithrandir deck, 3 hunters, lorien swordsman / telepathy, uruk-hai archery, battleground uruks, uruk trackers, Sauron swarm, Southron archery / wounding. Have a look in the deck designs to know more.

King Block new additions

The first new addition to the block is the grass ring, the one ring, such a weight to carry. While not much used these days with all the alternate ring-bearers, giving a +2 strength to Frodo is pretty good. He can face any 9 strength minion without any pumps. With Sting or a hobbit sword, Frodo and this ring could fight any nazgul except the witch-king. To wear the One Ring, one has to add a burden, and it must be decided in the maneuver phase, so it can be pretty risky to play this ring over the common ruling ring, but risk is I think a bit more present to this block.

Now, with the addition of the threats mechanic, the initiative and enduring, thereís a kind of ďdo it but not too muchĒ reasoning going on. Yeah sure, add some threats, but donít die unless you can take the wounds, play your cards, but keep at least 4 if youíre facing a shadow that uses initiative to its advantage and exhaust your wraiths, but donít loose initiative or swept away, because youíll die in bitter agony. That is one cool thing when playing King Block, youíre living on the edge most of the time.

Letís talk a bit more about what this article is all about now, deck designing in King Block. What changes are there to the cultures we had in previous sets? The Isengard is composed with suffered much loss and that is it, Moria and Dunland are no more. Last set, Isengard had a big boost, itís Sauronís turn now.

The Sauron culture brings the powerful and exciting Besiegers! What are they? Theyíre specialist of the site control of this block. Troop tower gives you site and a nice boost along with tower walkway, encirclements make sure every one is cheap to play, gorgoroth swarm, siege troop and din of arms get more sites, gothmog, lieutenant of morgul with gothmogís warg can get beefy, olog-hai of mordor can do some damage with its game text while great hill troll discard conditions. You can also add burdens with gorgoroth attacker and threats with gorgoroth engineer. Their marching company and gorgoroth troop can stack minions on your sites, gorgoroth pillager makes everyone fierce, and with encirclement out, that can set up a nice swarm for later on. The downside, they need lots of twilight to do all that, along with a good draw, but once theyíre set, they tend to win a lot.

Sauronís culture also had a threat deck, with mordor guard, mordor veteran, mordor assassin or orc officer. Basically, this deck drops a big bomb on site 5 (city gates) and 4 or 5 orcs, inclunding one veteran, one guard one assassin or 2 or 3 officers for corruption. The veteran can make anyone +8 while removing 3 threats, the guard can add a lot of threats so you need to overwhelm 1 companion to either assign the assassin to Frodo and kill him, or to add burdens.

Another Sauron deck is the initiative / Gollum deck. Mordor Fight is your main character since he gives you initiative; you other orcs are orc chaser, orc pursuer, orc stalker. Add some besiegerís pike, Gollum, plotting deceiver, let her deal with them and hobbitses are dead, fat one wants it and captured by the ring and thatís it. All your minions are cheap so you can play 5 easily, then arm them with a pike, let her deal with them and you have some nice 10 to 20 strenght, damage +1 orcs each turn.

The introduction of Shelob brings a strong Gollum culture theme with Shelob, eater of light. Pack some web, orcs and Shelob might be the mightiest minion of this block with a possible 44 strength.

The Corsairs might be one of the most played subculture of the Raiders. While the Easterling are still in the King Block, theyíre better with cards from the Two Towers. The Southrons are there too (see my mumakil deck below), they mostly deal with threats, archery and wounding. As for the Corsairs, they do everything. Castamir of umbar is fierce, enduring and he can add tokens on your ships (corsairs are token addicted). Corsair Marauder and black numenorean both discards possessions, corsair freebooter steals tokens, corsair brute wounds, corsair ruffian discards cards from your opponentís draw deck, quelled discard condtions, black sail of umbar can set up a nice swarm, corsair war galley gives you initiative, and ships of great draught recycle your cards. In a word, Corsair means versatility.

For the last of the Shadow Cultures, behold the Nazgul. There are some strong possibilities here: Threatguls, Morcs, enduring Nazgul, archery, or initiative nazgul. Threatguls are composed with cards like there came a cry, the witch-king, morgul king, ulaire cantea, faster than winds, morgul destroyer ghastly host and Gollum, the interesting factor here, when a companions dies, if the threats are maxed out, the must all go to non-ring-bearer companions if morgul king is in play. If it happens, it can leave Frodo alone to face the remaining fierce nazgul. Morcs are mainly morgul brute, morgul destroyer, out of sight and shot, morgul spearmen and all the nazgul you want. This is a mix of swarm, beatdown, ring-bearer hate deck that can be pretty wicked. For enduring nazgul, see my deck below. Archery is made with streaming the field, morgul lurker, morgul creeper, morgul ambusher, and gothmog, morgul commander. Throw in gorbag, covetous captain if you want some strength and flung into the fray to exert the ring-bearer while you play some more orcs. Stooping to the kill can also add damage bonuses. Initiative Nazgul are made with cards like unhindered, beyond all darkness, stooping to the kill and the nazgul you like. Gain initiative to get you nazgul damage +1, thatís the key. You might want to add the discard this nazgul if you have initiative cards, but theyíre not required for this deck to work.

Dwarves are one again made to work either with Elves, Gandalf or some other fellowship members sin Gimli is once again the only Dwarven companion in the set. It can be a good to any wounding deck with cards like slaked thirsts and preparation, along with gimliís battle axe, trusted weapon. Damage Dwarves were born in this set, but they are pretty much impossible to play without Reflections and War of the Rings, so itís more or less a King Block strategy.

Now, the elves, they donít have any elven bow, so itís harder to build an archery deck, but it can work more or less combined with telepathy. This strategy gets most of its good cards in this set, with the addition of Elrond, venerable lord, and celeborn, lord of the galadhrim. Combined with still needed, it insures you that you can wound a minion and heal an elf each skirmish phase. Iíll show you an elven deck below.

Gandalf stands alone in this block, though he can be great with elves (Gandalf, manager of wixards, glamdring, elven blade) or with any wounding deck (terrible and evil). He gets cards to basically help each culture. Gondor gets sharpen your swords, Rohan gets kingís advisor and Shire gets peace of mind and not the firs Halfling, which also helps Elves

Smeagol is the only character with skirmish cancellation in the set, with sneaking. Heís great in any decks that needs pathfinding, very nice friends, and still far ahead are good examples. He still discards himself to get benefits, the dead city, never, scouting, serving the precious and smeagol, slippery sneak are the discard cards, while days growing dark, and very nice friends are the play him back cards. I must also mention the bane of the Gollum minion side: cleaver hobbits. It can ruin any Gollum shadow side by discarding every single condition he has.

The sub cultures of Gondor from the previous sets (rangers and knights) are both still there, mostly for the knights though since rangers are harder to play in king block only and thereís a new addition: the Wraiths. Letís have a look at knights first. There are plenty of conditions for them to play with, fourth level, fifth level and sixth level to mention the mostly played, along with two other good cards: strong an old and catapult. Combine fourth level with gondor bow to kill any minion you want can be a good strategy, and pair it with fifth level to get an incredibly strength reduction on a minion. Who are the knights in this block? They are ingold, Aragorn, captain of gondor, imrahil, prince of dol amroth, knight of dol amroth, garrison of gondor and denethor, steward of the city if you want to choke (notice how both companions and fortifications can be played for free with denethor and strong and old). Derufin can also be a good splash companions vs. besieger. A special mention to Anduril, the flame of the west here for the best movie block hand weapon in my opinion.

The Gondor Wraiths are essentially enduring companions that add and remove a lot of threats, they are kept alive while exhausted with swept away and elessarís edict. King of the dead, the oath breaker, shadow host, cursed of erech, sleepless dead and dead man of dunnharrow can be paired either with Gandalf, leader of men, or Aragorn, driven by need if you want. Those Wraiths deals with the 3 main block mechanic I was talking earlier, threats, initiative (swept away) and enduring. They are the proudest representative of my point. If you have too many threats, you canít play more companions anymore, if you loose initiative while having too many threats, just hope your enduring companions are not all exhausted because if you die, all those wounds will be deadly. Even more deadly would be a fellowship entirely composed by exhausted wraiths and Frodo not wearing such a weight to carry, with 4 or more threats, and one of your wraiths gets overwhelmed, meaning 4 wounds will go to Frodo because of swept awayís text, meaningÖ your death. If you love to play with fire, this deck side is made for you to play in King Block, if not, try something else.

The Two Towers Rohan was just plain strong, but in this block, itís OK, no more no less. They can tank with swift steed, rohirim javelin and long spear, but it wonít be enough, so youíll have to pack some events to get them stronger. Fey he seemed, morning came and white hot fury are your best options here. Note that they can all be fetched back if you play Eomer, skilled tactician, an 8 strength Eomer. Eowyn, Dernhelm is one of the best starting companions for Rohan since she can be strength 10 when facing a mumakil. Eowyn, lady of ithilien appears at the end of this set with what is the most powerful skirmish wounding ability ever made on a companion.

The little Halflings did not get too many cards, but they get some good ones. Merry, rohirim squire and pippin, sworn to serving work well together, along with Aragorn, driven by need. The finest fighting hobbits are in this set in movie block, especially sam, great elf warrior. We also have the bouncing hobbits, merry, swordsthain and pippin, wearer of black in silver, one to be played with Rohan, the other with Gondor, especially rangers (possibly the only way to efficiently play rangers in this block). Finally, what about 5 strenght hobbits, or a 12 resistance Frodo? As for the deck building, threats seems to be the way, so either play some nine-fingered Frodo and the ring of doom or Aragorn, driven by need as I said earlier, or you can also wound with shadowplay, great heart and unheeded.

King Block mechanics

Enduring: Enough was said on the Wraiths, but this mechanic converts wounds into strength, suddenly, exerting your characters can be pretty tempting. Shelob, Her ladyship or shelob, last child of Ungolioant, Thrall of the one Nazguls, castamir of umbar, orc slaughterer (nice), and most defiantly, Ulaire Enquea, Thrall of the one, the godfather of Turbo Corruption Decks. Other cards to work along the mechanic along with any exert cards, between nazgul and prey, seasoned leader, black dart and dark swooping shadow.

Initiative: Sometimes, itís good to loose it if youíre the Freepeople (so fair, so desperate, glimpse of fate, brooding on tomorrow, a light in his mind, hardy garrison and fell deeds awake), some other times, it isnít. Check out my Sauron deck below, or take a look at the following cards: desert runner, desert scout, desert sneak (all 3 paired with red wrath is deadly), new strength came now, rout, there came a cry, ulaire ate wraith on wings, ulaire toldea wraith on wings, morgul lurker, underfoot, stooping to the kill and flames within.

Threats: The threats are soon to be wounds, so if someone dies, his friends might join him if there are too much of those. They can either be use by the shadow side (orc ravager, southron marksmen, ulaire cante, faster than winds, army of udun, ships of great draught, Gollum, vile creature to name a few) or the freepoeple side (sting, bane of the eight legs, shadowfax, greatheart, merry rohirim squire, long spear, knightís spear, smeagol, always helps or legolas nimble warrior).

Here are some King Decks now

Telepathy / Enduring Nazgul 32 cards

Frodo, wicked masster!
The One Ring, such a weight to carry

1 rohirrim road
2 kingís tent
3 hall of the kings
4 pelennor prairie
5 pelennor flat
6 Minas Tirith Seventh Circle
7 pelennor grassland
8 morgulduin
9 dagorlad

Legolas, nimble warrior (start)
Arwen, queen of elves and men (start)
Celeborn, lord of the galadhrim x2
Elrond, venerable lord x2
Gandalf, manager of wizards x3

Gandalfís staff, focus of power
Phial of Galadriel, star-glass
Asfaloth, elven steed
Bow of the galadhrim, gift of Galadriel
Glamdring, elven blade
Shadowfax, great heart
Sting, bane of the eight legs

Into the west x2
Leaving forever x2

Still needed x4
Defiance x4

Ulaire otsea, thrall of the one x3
Ulaire enquea, thrall of the one x4
Ulaire toldea, thrall of the one x3
Ulaire nelya, thrall of the one x3
Ulaire lemenya, thrall of the one x3
Ulaire cantea, thrall of the one x3

Black marshal x4
Flung into the fray

Between nazgul and prey x4
Dark swooping shadows x4

Rohan/ mumakil 33 cards

Frodo, resolute hobbit
The One Ring, such a weight to carry

1 edoras hall
2 west road
3 hall of the kings
4 anduin banks
5 city gates
6 Minas Tirith Fourth Circle
7 ruined capitol
8 cross roads
9 dagorlad

Eowyn, dernhelm (start)
Theoden, rekindled king (start)
Eomer, keeper of oaths x3
Rohirrim army


With strength to fight
Fell deeds awake
the Tale of the great ring

Firefoot, eomerís steed
Herugrim, sword of the mark
Long spear x2
Rohirrim javelin x4
Eowynís sword, dernhelmís blade
Sting, bane of the eight legs

Fey he seemed x4
Morning came x4
White hot fury x2

Mumak commander x2
Mumak chieftain x4
Southron captain x4
Desert villain x4
Desert fighter x4

Line of defense x2
Bold men and grim
Rallying call x4
Field of the fallen x4

Mumakil x3

Wraiths/ Sauron Initiative 30 cards

Frodo, Hope of Free Peoples
The One Ring, such a weight to carry

1 steps of edoras
2 rohirrim camp
3 the dimholt
4 anduin banks
5 city gates
6 Minas Tirith First Circle
7 pelennor grassland
8 morgul vale
9 dagorlad

Aragorn Driven by need (start)
King of the dead, Oathbreaker x2
Shadow host
Cursed of erech
Dead man of dunharrow x4

Anduril, flame of the west
Sting, bane of the eight legs
Spectral sword x4

Swept away x4
Stronger and more terrible x4
The tale of the great ring

Drawing his eye x4
Nine-fingered Frodo and the ring of doom x2

Gollum, plotting deceiver
Mordor fighter x4
Orc chaser x4
Orc pursuer x4
Orc stalker x4

Besieging pike x4

Let her deal with them x2
Fat one wants it

Captured by the ring x4
Hobbitses are dead x2

Basically, Iíve built a deck mainly around those 3 new mechanics, 3 of the main themes of this block. Now, hereís another shadow side Iíve not mentioned yet, the Roaming Sauron 34 cards (shadow only) as a conclusion to this block.

Advance Captain x3
Shagrat, captain of cirith ungol x3
Advance regular x3
Advance scout x3
Cirith ungol guard x4
Cirith ungol patroller x4
Cirith ungol sentinel x4
Cirith ungol sentry x4

Rank and file x3
Flames within x2

Grond, hammer of the underworld

Other interesting deck ideas would be:

Any one mentioned earlier or even, your own. You can now start your deck building. Note that there once was a mega filtering deck using Base of Mindolluin / Gondorian Captain, but then the captain was X-ed so I did not include it in my description.


When I started writing this, I really didnít it was going to be this long, but hey, Iíve made some unexplored before decks while doing so, they have yet to be play tested to know if they are good, but they were fun to build anyway. I strongly encourage you to build Block decks, theyíre fun, less broken than expanded formats, and you get to play rotated cards. Plus youíll play on a completely different sitepath (take a look at the sites in my decks, youíll notice how strategic it can be to play on those).

I hope you had fun reading this, feel free to comment (try?) some of my decks.
Last edited by Dravius on Mon Jun 11, 2007 5:20 pm; edited 16 times in total-Darth Dravius, Dark Lord of the Sith
Posted: Sat Jun 09, 2007 12:25 pm
Joined: 22 Apr 2007 Posts: 191 Location: Quebec, Canada
Some of the links doesnít work because of typos but Iíll edit them later, I donít have time today, sorry.
-Darth Dravius, Dark Lord of the Sith
Posted: Sat Jun 09, 2007 1:08 pm
Joined: 28 Dec 2006 Posts: 5468 Location: I don't know...
One thing about this article, it is long. Thatís not a bad thing, but for long articles, you need a hyperlinking Table of Contents. Check This Thread for an example on how to use this.

I would have War of the Ring block and Hunters Block. Check out some of the deck clinic deck lists for these formats.

Also, in King Block, at least mention the Base of Mindolluin / Gondorian Captain combo.
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Posted: Sat Jun 09, 2007 3:27 pm
Joined: 22 Apr 2007 Posts: 191 Location: Quebec, Canada
Fixed the links, updated the table of contents, I mentionned the combo, though I wonít talk more about somethingís that is not tournement legal much, I mentioned in the article that I wonít review broken X-list cards / combo.

As for the war of the ring and hunters block, it is not the same feeling I have for those. The sitepath and the possibility to play an alternate ring-bearer deck pretty much makes the format a lot like standard. Sure there are great deck (I have one myself) but playing it isnít that exciting compared to the 1st 3 sets, especialy since Decipher needed some huge cards for the new shadow cultures, and decks are more easily builded in my opinion.

Thank you for your review and you help NBarden. Iíll award you a GP for the link to the table of contents.
-Darth Dravius, Dark Lord of the Sith
Posted: Mon Jun 11, 2007 8:27 am
Joined: 19 Mar 2006 Posts: 1218 Location: Wow, its hot in Iowa
Good job 5 from me.
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Posted: Mon Jun 11, 2007 10:26 am
Joined: 23 Mar 2006 Posts: 7750 Location: somwhere, over the rainbow way up high. There's a land that I heard of once in a lullaby.
Great article have a 5!
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Posted: Mon Jun 11, 2007 4:27 pm
Joined: 10 Apr 2006 Posts: 98 Location:
well done a 5 from me
Posted: Mon Jun 11, 2007 6:07 pm
Joined: 28 Dec 2006 Posts: 5468 Location: I don't know...
As is, nice article. Pretty well written, and covers most bases. However, I donít feel that it was exhaustive enough to merit a 5. So a 4 from me, and a well-earned one. An analysis of Movie Block, WotR, and Hunters would have been better, and may have merited a 5.

Kingís Block needs a Southron wounding deck. Rout and Harsh Tongues. Twisted Evil. This seems to be one of the most powerful Kingís Block decks out there. Also mention Saved from the Fire filter. Maybe add a Saved From the Fire / Southron Wounding deck. Thumbs Up

Anyway, good article, and a well-earned 4 from me.
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Posted: Mon Jun 11, 2007 7:49 pm
Joined: 01 May 2007 Posts: 225 Location: a place
Great article! 5

And NB: it seems all of a sudden people are talking about rout and harsh tongues. Before I joined CC, there was nothing about it as far as I could tell, then I posted about it, and was ignored. All of a sudden (long enough later that I bet it was in response to a higher-ranking memberís suggestion) theyíre special: is this a new thing or am I completely missing something?
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Posted: Mon Jun 11, 2007 7:52 pm
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I think it was my suggestion, and I have a friend who runs Rout and Harsh Tongues and have always advocated it as a great deck. In RotK format, it gets better.

But Iím the only person going on about Rout and Harsh Tongues, nobody else cares about the (100% completely SWEET deck).

Really scary when 1 Haradrim Marksman means 1 dead companion and a bunch of threats...
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