Deck #23 Ramp Ents

This Ent deck was submitted for testing by xDIABOx. It aims to ramp up the ent power fast by using Grima’s Doom/Keys combo and the power of mono-Lore card draw. The hero lineup is substantially different that the classic Gandalf-Hobbit version, or the Mablung/Bifur/Faramir “readying ents” deck that have proved themselves.

The deck includes The Dam Bursts, a spoiled but unreleased card, so I will be playing Lore of Imladris as a proxy of The Dam Bursts.

ents ramp list

First Impressions

Elrond is a fun choice in an Ent deck since he helps the Wellinghall Preservers heal everyone faster. His drawback is his threat cost, and alongside Grima, I imagine threat running pretty high most of the game. Folco is a great match to drop threat in the late game. I like the looks of the card draw and resource generation. Grima with Keys of Orthanc goes crazy! I see Vilya in the deck, but no readying for Elrond. The description says we just need the Spirit match for the Galadhrim’s Greeting in the late game.

I’m surprised to see 2x of all the unique ents here! I generally run 1x each of all but Quickbeam.

Test 1 – Passage through Mirkwood

Since this is a very different ent deck than I have ever used before, I’ll be lazy and try it against Mirkwood.

I actually lost my first attempt! It was no fault of the deck, but Mirkwood can combo on you and beat up even the best deck from time to time. I got a Necromancer’s Reach followed by Hummerhorns as a shadow card for a total of 2 or 3 damage on every character! It did bring up an interesting question: I lost all three original heroes with only Sword-Thain Skinbark keeping me in the game. Is that legal? Never happened to me before…

ent ramp hummerhorns.PNG

I tried to play out the quest but I drew Ungoliant’s Spawn the very next turn! I had a Derndingle Warrior to defend, but the shadow effect forced me to discard an attachement: either the Sword-Thain attachment keeping me in the game, or the Eng-Draught, and that would instantly kill the Warrior letting the 5 attack go undefended! Brilliant combo play by the encounter deck. Sauron mode is really a thing.

ungoliant's spawn ent ramp loss

Which attachment should I discard? Death either way. (I just assigned the 5 undefended damage to Skinbark here. Warrior should be discarded)

I played it again and beat it within 8 turns, which is a little long, but it was fine. 13 ents on the board at 35 threat level with Folco still around.

ent ramp mirkwood win

Test 2 – Peril in Pelargir

This was a tough one with plenty of threat raising in the quest itself, but I beat it. The Ents are able to Battle quest just as well as they can quest with willpower, if not better!

It pushed the deck hard and I had to discard Folco to stay in the game, and an attack went undefended at some point due to a shadow card and I let Grima take it in the face. It really softens the pain of losing a hero when you can imagine Grima getting pounded by brutes on the docks of Pelargir…

Even when things go bad for an ent deck, if you have healing on the board, you can turn things around! I got swarmed a couple times with more enemies than I could handily defend against, but I eventually killed them all and won on round 8.

ent ramp peril win

Folco went home and Grima got killed.

Test 3 – Escape from Umbar

Another close win. The ents aren’t adept at darting through the ally ways of Umbar, but their hitpoints give them some resilience and time in this quest. In a way, the constant archery helps the deck power up since you can carefully place arrows in each ent to make sure they’re all at a nice level of angry.

ent ramp escape from umbar

I was pleased to win the game on turn 7 with only 34 threat on my dial.

Test 4 – Journey in the Dark

With the Booming Ents reaching huge attack numbers, I wanted to try taking down the Balrog.

I won this scenario in 9 rounds and took down the Balrog with attack to spare! This was the perfect time to play The Dam Bursts. I was able to ready nearly all my ents and hit the Balrog for 40+! I cleared the bridge the following turn, threw Grima over the edge and the Balrog died. I ended up losing some ents to direct damage, questing phase attacks and huge trolls, but overall, the ents did pretty good in Moria.

I did almost threat out here, but I held on to Folco Boffin long enough to play The Dam Bursts, but it forced me to hit 48 threat, which is pretty sketchy… The deck might want to include a unique hobbit ally in or that epic event is useless once you lose Folco. It would be a shame to have 15 angry ents and no little hobbit to trigger the rampage!

ent ramp balrog attack

Card Choices

Mono Lore is a bold choice for ents but it actually works!

Grima proves his ugly but undeniably high-quality once again. He really pushes the deck forward and lets you play 2 ents almost every turn which totally makes up for them entering play exhausted. With the Keys of Orthanc on Elrond, you can play a Lore Ent using Grima’s resources and triggering the Doomed 1, then add a resource to Elrond which you can spend on Tactics or Lore Ents. It’s basically a Wandering or Booming Ent every turn at the cost of 1 threat!

Elrond is there to pay for Tactics Ents, but he also helps with the healing! His healing boost is awesome and kind of a pain at the same time. To keep Booming Ents powered up, I often like to leave one damage on as many Ents as I can, and his healing boost pretty much doesn’t give me a choice. To be honest, I forgot to apply his healing bonus through most of my games!

I wasn’t sure about Sword-Thain in the deck, but it was a fun choice. You draw more cards with Mithrandir’s Advice and you can play the Scroll of Isildur for free  if you put it on Leaflock or Quickbeam. If you put it on a Tactics Ent it smooths resource production so you can play your Allies easier.

Including The Galadhrim’s Greeting is smart because the deck will hit 50 threat unless you have some reduction, and Folco might not cut it. Vilya is here to provide the Spirit match, but with no readying on Elrond, I think you could probably swap if for Song of Travel if you wanted to save a resource.

The Dam Bursts is an awesome card in the right quest, but I find it to be a late-game card. I went to use it once, but I had already discarded Folco, and no longer had a unique hobbit so I couldn’t play it! It might be prudent to include Robin Smallburrow to make that event playable in the late game.

Healing the ents with the Wellinghall Preserver works pretty well with Elrond on the board, but a single copy of Warden of Healing would make the deck a little more flexible, and keep the heroes safer. You could substitute a copy or two for one of the extra copies of the unique ents.

Solo or Multi

This deck falls solidly in the solo category because no one loves to play across from Grima. It’s possible to match a deck, but he will generally Doom all your friends away.

Final Thoughts

The deck is strong and it’s fun. If you’ve never played Grima, you owe it to yourself to give him a try! He’s fun and incredibly strong in a solo game.

My standard approach to compensating for Ents’ slowness is either through low threat which gives you time to set up, or readying (Leadership Faramir etc), but this deck just aims to accelerate by getting allies out as fast as possible. It was a new style of Ent deck for me and I recommend it! I won 4/5 games with it (Passage through Mirkwood was my only loss due to crazy chance), so it has some power.

Head over to Ringsdb, check out the deck and run it through some quests. It should be a good time.

Thanks to xDIABOx for posting the deck and submitting it for testing!

2 thoughts on “Deck #23 Ramp Ents

  1. Thank you for testing the deck!
    I’m the mad scientist behind this strange contraption! 😉

    I understand your comment about the 2x copies of each Unique Ent but they are in the deck for consistent pulls for the Sword-Thain to work. I want to ensure that one of the several acceleration engines can be set in place early game and not only depend upon Gríma’s Keys.
    With Daeron’s Runes in the deck I can then replace those dead copies in my hand for new cards.

    There are some other aspects that I’ve been noticing in my tests too.

    Healing is one of them. When the game is in the early stage I tend to defend or allocate direct damage to my Heroes and sometimes late Treachery pulls screw my plans and kill them. Warden of Healing with Elrond is legit to avoid it or Imladris Caregiver to make use of the Unique dupes in my hand.

    Threat is pretty darn steep. Even with Folco and the two Greetings the games tend do end in 45’ish Threat. A cool thing is that once the engine is set the deck creates a good tempo to end a Quest without much threat attrition.

    As I said, I use Vilya for the Spirit resource but also can use it in late game. Alas, Vilya is a late game card in this deck and is played when the resource engine is set. Any card in the deck is a good hit for Vilya and when you have 3 or more good questing Ents like the Preservers and Leaflock I tend to leave Elrond behind (specially when he’s already damaged) to pull Vilya’s effect. The 1-resource cost difference from the Song won’t matter in late game when I have Treebeard and/or a Thained ally to provide me.

    The Hobbits. There are two issues with The Dam Bursts:
    1. as you said it’s a late game card and sometimes may not even work (if there is no damage spread)
    2. Folco might not be here to tell his tale to the marching Ents

    For point 1. is simple, Preserver is a Response and may not be triggered. I tend to use it only on 2-damage Ents and leave 1-damage Ents alone. When 2 Preservers are in play I trigger only one if I really need to heal 2 damage out of a single Ent or don’t trigger them at all. When dealing with big Enemies is a good card to play after Questing/Defending and then provide a massive attack, but it’s maybe a one time effect or a two time effect. Perhaps cutting down to 2x or even 1x (with 3x Scrolls is a card that can be recycled) is the way to go.

    Point 2. depends upon how much I need or want to play The Dam Bursts… Robin Smallburrow is also a good hit for Sword-Thain as well costing just 2 (1 with Grima’s help) he can act as a backup Hobbit and be that 4th Lore Hero to boost the other two shenanigans. And he can also quests!

    This deck can deal well with combat and with Questing as well after Leaflock and Preservers are played.
    I tested it against Journey down the Anduin and that quest just punishes this deck… the starting Threat means I have to deal with the Troll turn 2. A good thing is that both Elrond and Treebeard ally can defend the Troll first two attacks, then it’s a matter of tempo. But if I step up the deck reacts well.

    I played M:TG for so many years and I played essentialy Green decks (Stompy, Tokens, Ramp) and that’s where my influences for this deck came from. I’ve built several Ent decks, with Tactics Heroes, with Faramir… neither of them pleased me.

    I need to make a few cuts and adjustments…
    -1 or -2 The Dam Bursts
    +1 Robin the Hobbit
    +1 or +2 Healers (I’m still divided between Warden and Caregiver, the second can do so much work when the hand is set)
    and I will keep track of Threat values to see if I need to play a Gandalf ally or two…

    Once again thank you so much for the work you do for the community of this great game!

    Like

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