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Author Topic: Gandalf Signets/Isengard Weather (Fellowship Casual)  (Read 5058 times)

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April 02, 2017, 05:16:14 AM
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ArtificerAlf

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Gandalf Signets/Isengard Weather (Fellowship Casual)
« on: April 02, 2017, 05:16:14 AM »
Ring-bearer (2):
Frodo, Reluctant Adventurer x1
The One Ring, The Ruling Ring x1

Adventure Path (9):
Shire Lookout Point x1
Trollshaw Forest x1
Council Courtyard x1
Pass of Caradhras x1
The Bridge of Khazad-dum x1
Galadriel's Glade x1
Anduin Wilderland x1
Gates of Argonath x1
Wastes of Emyn Muil x1

Free Peoples (35):
Gandalf, the Grey Wizard x1 (starting)
Sam, Proper Poet x2
Legolas, Prince of Mirkwood x2
Boromir, Defender of Minas Tirith x1
Elrond, Lord of Rivendell x1
Narya x1
Gandalf's Cart x1
Hobbit Sword x2
Armor x1
Bow of the Galadhrim x1
Gandalf's Staff x1
Wizard Staff x1
Gandalf's Wisdom x2
Betrayal of Isengard x1
The Nine Walkers x1
Trust Me As You Once Did x2
Staff Asunder x1
You Cannot Pass! x1
Speak "Friend" And Enter x2
Strength of Spirit x2
Servant of the Secret Fire x1
Treachery Deeper Than You Know x1
Intimidate x2
Mysterious Wizard x2
Sleep, Caradhras x2

Shadow (35):
Uruk Messenger x3
Isengard Forger x3
Isengard Worker x2
Isengard Servant x2
Saruman, Servant of the Eye x3
Isengard Retainer x2
Orc Overseer x2
Orc Commander x1
The Balrog, Durin's Bane x1
Isengard Axe x3
Saruman's Ambition x2
A Fell Voice on the Air x1
Saruman's Snows x2
Wizard Storm x2
Servants to Saruman x2
Abandoning Reason for Madness x2
The Trees Are Strong x1
Saruman's Power x1

This deck was inspired by the very first LOTR TCG product I ever purchased 15 years ago, the FOTR Gandalf starter. As I've been able to get more cards, I decided to take advantage of the signet companions and use them. My biggest issue with the Free Peoples' side is figuring out how many of each card to add, and what Gandalf events to focus on. I've seen other decklists run 2-3 copies of a card at most; very rarely do I see 4 of a kind for the Free Peoples.

For the Shadow side, I really liked the Isengard Orcs, but also wanted to use Saruman for some weather effects. I realize there are probably some more cards in that side that should be going up to 3, but as I don't have a ton of games under my belt, I might be overestimating how full the twilight pool can become.

Strategy/deck building thoughts are appreciated. I would rather see comments like "With two copies, Intimidate isn't really going to help you during any skirmishes you might lose, something that might help you more in this situation would be XXX" over "Intimidate is a bad card, use XXX". As I'm still fairly new to building more decks and playing with friends, I see all cards as having potential and am not ready to become jaded thinking certain cards are just "jank" (a big reason I decided to step back in to this game, as I felt the individual card quality was higher than another game I had been playing).

Thank you so much for you help and support. Looking forward to discuss!

April 04, 2017, 06:46:33 AM
Reply #1

ket_the_jet

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Re: Gandalf Signets/Isengard Weather (Fellowship Casual)
« Reply #1 on: April 04, 2017, 06:46:33 AM »
There's definitely a lot going on here. In the future, you can post these sorts of decks in the Fellowship block section. The "casual" format of this section of the boards is more for custom rules (for instance, if someone played Fellowship block, but with alternate ring-bearers or something of the like).

All things being equal, this seems like a pretty fun deck, if not a bit inconsistent. With a single copy of Gandalf starting, and one you are possibly exerting (Trust Me As You Once Did, Staff Asunder, Sleep Caradhras, either staff, his own game text), you may be susceptible to cards like Hate or Too Great and Terrible. If you intend for Gandalf to be the life of the party, you'll want to ensure he has plenty of protection.

In the Fellowship of the Ring Block, there are ten companions with the Gandalf signet. Five are rare cards: Frodo, Old Bilbo's Heir, Gimli, Son of Gloin, Aragorn, Ranger of the North, Pippin, Hobbit of Some Intelligence, and Arwen, Lady Undomiel. One doesn't really add any utility to this deck: Merry, Horticulturist. That leaves the guys you have focused on: Gandalf, Legolas, Sam, and Boromir.

The deck could use another fighter, and for this I'd recommend Merry, From O'er the Brandywine. With a Hobbit Sword, Merry is a strength 7, vitality 4 tank in Fellowship of the Ring block. Cards like Hobbit Stealth and Hobbit Intuition (the former a necessity to duck out of Balrog fights with Frodo) are good fits as they buff Merry, Sam, and Frodo. Remember that Trust Me As You Once Did can also boost Merry even though he has a different signet. With the skirmish-dodging that the [Shire] events provide as well as the added utility of working with three companions, focusing a bit more on Gandalf supporting the Hobbits might be a stronger strategy than strolling Legolas out there as anything other than a splash companion. Even Aragorn, King in Exile would be a stronger support than Legolas with the Bow of the Galadhrim.

With the twilight savings of Council Courtyard or your Gandalf, you may want to consider dropping The Nine Walkers. Extra spaces you open up can be used on additional copies of Gandalf, particularly with all of these exert cards. Barliman Butterbur, Prancing Pony Proprietor is another strong card that can tutor a Servant of the Secret Fire, You Cannot Pass!, or Sleep Caradhras back into hand in a key moment.

As for your Shadow side, 19 of the 35 cards are minions...that ratio might be a little low for Fellowship of the Ring block. As you combat directed wounding decks, you'll come to appreciate the utility of Isengard Shaman. Wound prevention will allow your minions to stay tough so they can do their damage in the regroup phase. If you have Isengard Smith, a copy or two can be the difference between a buffed Aragorn slaughtering your minions and your orcs doing an extra wound or two in the skirmish phase. Isengard Warrior is perhaps the most important [Isengard] Orc minion--his ability to prevent cards like Aragorn's Bow, Legolas, Greenleaf, or Gondor Bowmen from harming your minions is as important as his regroup action text. Even a single copy can prevent your opponent from using his ring-bearer as a pincushion for regroup phase wounds (particularly if he thinks there are more).

Note that Saruman's Ambition is a bit redundant in this deck. It's strength bonus text can only help the Uruk Messenger, and the only [Isengard] events that cost more than (0) are Abandoning Reason to Madness ([1]), a single The Trees are Strong ([1]), and Saruman's Power ([2]). These card slots would best be used on other minions.

Wizard Storm is a great addition to an [Isengard] Orc deck, particularly since the deck is one of the worst at preventing a double move from the Fellowship. For strategy's sake, I would use early copies of Abandoning Reason for Madness and regroup phase reconciling to discard Wizard Storm and Saruman's Snows, hoping to replay them with A Fell Voice On the Air at key moments.

A fun card to keep in mind is One of You Must Do This. A great way to get additional exertions before the skirmish phase, and in a theater with mixed-race Fellowships (like yours), it can do a lot of damage.

Hope this helps. Happy to keep an open dialogue.

Best,
-wtk

April 04, 2017, 07:11:17 AM
Reply #2

ArtificerAlf

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Re: Gandalf Signets/Isengard Weather (Fellowship Casual)
« Reply #2 on: April 04, 2017, 07:11:17 AM »
This was some amazing feedback. Thank you so much!

For the Fellowship, I do have one copy of Gimli, Son of Gloin that I've considered (due to his combat prowess), but have left him out in case it's used for my dwarven deck. I am well aware that it should go well, so we'll see if I pull another when my next FOTR box arrives Thursday.

I will cut the Nine Walkers and add those suggestions. I had forgotten about Barliman, as I was always trying to make sure I had enough cards doing what I wanted.

I'm also hoping to add Glamdring if I can pull one. I've opened 2 boxes and other packs and haven't seen one yet, but third time is the charm.

For the Shadow side, I had a hunch Saruman's Ambition was a weak link, but did like the reducing feature of the costs. I will cut it and figure out what other orcs to add, based on your suggestions. There are so many options, and I've noticed from other lists that card numbers varies. Most free peoples rarely run 4 of a card, especially the unique possessions and such. It's very different in that sense compared to other games I've played.

I'll make some edits and post what I come up with. Thanks for the in depth explanations and strategy. I will start posting my other decks soon, as I'm trying to put a slew of them together for friends and family to play some multiplayer.

Lastly, what advice do you have about figuring out how many copies of a card I want to use? I've seen some decks run a few copies of a companion while others only run 1. That was my basis for only including one Gandalf. In general, I have playsets of most commons and uncommons. Rares are hit or miss, but I'm always open to considering them, especially if it's something I had previously passed up.

Thank you so much for this response. I've been super excited to play the game again and have been sad to see a lack of online resources. This website and board has really helped me a lot.

April 05, 2017, 02:32:01 PM
Reply #3

ArtificerAlf

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Re: Gandalf Signets/Isengard Weather (Fellowship Casual)
« Reply #3 on: April 05, 2017, 02:32:01 PM »
Since this is a Gandalf deck, I had some more questions about considering Gandalf cards:

Deep in Thought - This is a more expensive version of Sleep, Caradhras, but I can figure out a few reasons why one would prefer this card over Sleep. One, if my deck is uses a lot of Free Peoples' conditions, I wouldn't want Sleep because it would remove all my benefits as well. Ultimately, this represents a choice on what the deck wants to accomplish.

Depart Silently - I initially thought this was good for Gandalf and Hobbits, but while it prevents skirmishes with hobbits, that just means all the minions get assigned to Gandalf, which could lead to him getting overwhelmed. Not what I want.

Fireworks - Depending on what I edit the deck to, and if I fill it with more Shire cards, I'm actually really considered adding this. Recursion can be a big part of many other card games I've played, and I'm not entirely sure that strategy is applicable here, but I'm not sure this is a bad choice.


April 05, 2017, 05:33:10 PM
Reply #4

ket_the_jet

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Re: Gandalf Signets/Isengard Weather (Fellowship Casual)
« Reply #4 on: April 05, 2017, 05:33:10 PM »
With Depart Silently, note that you can assign all of the minions to Gandalf, then exert twice with Gandalf's Staff to cancel the skirmish. Neat little trick, as long as you can keep him healed enough.

Fireworks is a solid card for recursion, and Deep in Thought is a great card too, but with the latter event, note that you need to have [4] in the pool before you play the card. That becomes a lot easier with [Gandalf] maneuver events in Towers block.

Best,
-wtk

April 07, 2017, 04:54:27 AM
Reply #5

ArtificerAlf

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Re: Gandalf Signets/Isengard Weather (Fellowship Casual)
« Reply #5 on: April 07, 2017, 04:54:27 AM »
Per what I said with the Archery deck, I ran them against each other to get a feel for glaring obvious issues, and I found them!

Like you said, the deck is entirely focused on Gandalf (which isn't a horrible thing). However, with so much exertion of our favorite Grey Wizard, I think I need to use 4 Strength of Spirit. I saw a lot of other dead spell draws, and while I initially thought a toolbox spell approach was a good idea, the deck just doesn't really play that way, and that's ok. It's the fun of messing with all this stuff. :)

Boromir is really good! His ability to heal allowed him to battle and come out alive. I might add some more possessions for him. I did pull a second Gimli, Son of Gloin, so he may be added as well, with some good dwarven possessions to store on the cart.

The Shadow side was doing ok, but I think it needs a few tweaks still that I'm working out. I did add in a copy of No Business of Ours, mostly because I don't want Sting or Glamdring disrupting all my orcs (I've still yet to pull either). It also stops things like Foul Creation, Curse Their Foul Feet, etc.

Thanks again!

April 10, 2017, 07:59:08 PM
Reply #6

ArtificerAlf

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Re: Gandalf Signets/Isengard Weather (Fellowship Casual)
« Reply #6 on: April 10, 2017, 07:59:08 PM »
Here's my current update:

Ring-bearer (2):
Frodo, Reluctant Adventurer x1
The One Ring, The Ruling Ring x1

Site Path (9):
Shire Lookout Point
Trollshaw Forest
Council Courtyard
Pass of Caradhras
The Bridge of Khazad-dum
Caras Galadhon
Anduin Wilderland
Gates of Argonath
Wastes of Emyn Muil

Free Peoples (35):
Gandalf, The Grey Wizard x2 (starting)
Merry, From O'er the Brandywine x2
Sam, Proper Poet x1
Boromir, Defender of Minas Tirith x2
Barliman Butterbur, Prancing Pony Proprietor x1
Elrond, Lord of Rivendell x1
Narya x1
Gandalf's Cart x1
Blade of Gondor x1
Shield of Boromir x1
Armor x1
Hobbit Sword x2
Gandalf's Staff x1
Gandalf's Wisdom x1
Betrayal of Isengard x1
Trust Me As You Once Did x2
Strength of Spirit x4
Servant of the Secret Fire x1
Speak Friend and Enter x2
Treachery Deeper Than You Know x1
Intimidate x2
Mysterious Wizard x2
Sleep, Caradhras x2

Shadow (35):
Isengard Shaman x3
Isengard Forger x3
Isengard Worker x2
Isengard Warrior x2
Isengard Servant x2
Saruman, Servant of the Eye x3
Isengard Smith x2
Orc Overseer x2
Orc Commander x1
The Balrog, Durin's Bane x1
Isengard Axe x3
No Business of Ours x1
A Fell Voice on the Air x1
Saruman's Snows x2
Wizard Storm x2
Servants to Saruman x2
Abandoning Reason for Madness x2
The Trees Are Strong x1

I'm a lot happier with this version, but still feel like I could make some tweaks. For the site path, I swapped Galadriel's Glade with Caras Galadhon, which just helps my fellowship overall.

I added more Boromir equipment to put on Gandalf's cart, and also knocked down my copies of Sam by 1 so I could increase Boromir. Not sure if I need to keep 2 copies of Merry or not. Any advice on the companion count would be appreciated.

I'm still looking for room for the 2 copies of Hobbit Stealth that are considered to be pretty solid. I'm not sure if I still want Speak Friend and Enter, since only one site is Underground. I also cut a copy of Gandallf's Wisdom, since it seemed like a good effect, but not something I would want to run in to more.

I don't have much to say about the Shadow side at this point, mostly because I think I made some solid swaps. As with anything, the quantity of how many of each card I should use is what's really throwing me for a loop, especially with all the unique companions and their gear, but I'm having a blast with this.
« Last Edit: April 11, 2017, 04:24:19 AM by ArtificerAlf »

April 11, 2017, 06:51:30 AM
Reply #7

ket_the_jet

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Re: Gandalf Signets/Isengard Weather (Fellowship Casual)
« Reply #7 on: April 11, 2017, 06:51:30 AM »
The new version looks a lot better than the original. Even still, here are a few notes I would make:

You're much better off starting Boromir, Defender of Minas Tirith and Merry, From O'er the Brandywine and then adding four copies of Gandalf (or one copy and four copies of A Wizard Is Never Late). Without Frodo, Old Bilbo's Heir, you only have three Gandalf signets in the deck, so you might even want to consider Gandalf, Friend of the Shirefolk who is strength eight with Boromir and Frodo in play, or Gandalf, the Grey Pilgrim. Both have better game text than Gandalf, the Grey Wizard.

Of course, with less focus on Gandalf signets, Trust Me As You Once Did and Gandalf's Wisdom lose their potency. These spots could be replaced by Hobbit Stealth. It's also worth splashing a copy of Aragorn, Ranger of the North if you have him. Drop him at site eight or nine, make him defender +3, and send him to the Halls of Mandos.

I'm presuming you just have the single copy of Servant of the Secret Fire. As you acquire more copies, replace the copies of Mysterious Wizard. Even though a strength +4 is a larger linear value than a strength -3 swing, Servant of the Secret Fire is better in every way.

Other than that, it looks pretty good. There are a few cards I would choose not to use, but you'll have to play them yourself and decide what works for you and what doesn't.

Cheers,
-wtk

April 11, 2017, 07:10:58 AM
Reply #8

ArtificerAlf

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Re: Gandalf Signets/Isengard Weather (Fellowship Casual)
« Reply #8 on: April 11, 2017, 07:10:58 AM »

Other than that, it looks pretty good. There are a few cards I would choose not to use, but you'll have to play them yourself and decide what works for you and what doesn't.

Thank you so much for this. The joys of playing these games is discovering the cards you want to swap rather than being told "this card is horrible, remove it".

I happen to have 4 copies of A Wizard is Never Late! I forgot that it can be used to "cheat" my starting Fellowship. Drawing extra copies can only get me Barliman right now though. I really like Grey Pilgrim, as drawing extra cards is always solid. But then I'm using an Aragorn signet Gandalf...so some of this might just amount to playtesting, again. If I'm not running much exertion (due to swapping Gandalfs), then Strength of Spirit can be replaced too.

I know we keep talking about Hobbit Swords, but what about Frying Pan? I know they're meta dependent, but I feel like a 50/50 mix could be worthwhile.

EDIT: I keep forgetting that the signet based cards continue to get better in later sets as more companions are released with them. This means I won't feel quite so bad about abandoning ideas because I can always try certain cards for Towers Standard or something!

« Last Edit: April 11, 2017, 07:24:36 AM by ArtificerAlf »