The Last Ships West was created and uploaded to Ringsdb by user Fantasty. It focuses on Legolas and Gimli and their last voyage from the Grey Havens into the West after King Aragorn passed away. The deck description is very thorough and lengthy.
I’m happy to see some more attention given to the Sands of Harad versions of Gimli and Legolas. The deck is compact with 3x and 2x of every card included. I’m surprised to see a Cirdan deck without Will of the West. The description says that Steward of Gondor is “unfortunately” crucial to make the deck work which doesn’t bother me. It includes additional resource acceleration, including 3x Captain’s Wisdom, 3x Unlikely Friendship, and 3x We are Not Idle, so I’m guessing resources won’t be scarce.
Test 1 – Passage Through Mirkwood
Back to the basics. My first attempt I got hit by Hummerhorns as a shadow card and direct damage ruined my game before it got going.
The second attempt went fine with plenty of willpower to push me through the 3 stages in just 5 rounds. With just Light of Valinor and Silver Harp, the heroes alone can quest for 8, and with the expense of one Leadership resource, all the heroes can still be ready and perform during the combat phase. I didn’t find Steward of Gondor necessary in this quest and the high willpower kept me from getting bogged down. Gimli did defend a couple times, but wasn’t able to get his defense above 2 within the 5 rounds.
Test 2 – Into the Pit
High willpower on turn 1 is such a huge advantage for almost any quest. This scenario can get out of control if you can’t get through the opening starting location, but with 10 willpower on turn 1, I cleared the East-Gate on turn 1, was able to defend with Gimli at 3 due to Arwen, and kill the goblin with Legolas by himself. The game played right right into this deck’s strengths.
I didn’t have to face the Cave Troll enemy, but the deck sailed through this quest without a problem. Even on the last stage where heroes don’t collect resources, there were enough resource-advantage cards in the deck, I was still able to expand my board-state. Elven-Light was doing major work through this quest, and I always felt like I had options for what to play from my hand.
I was clearing the board every turn on stage 1, so I only had 1 enemy to face at stage 2 and the Patrol Leader died on my first attack (the effect on his card can make him hard to kill, no matter how much attack you have to throw at him). I won the quest on turn 7.
The biggest challenge was keep my threat level in check. Staring at 32 threat, I ended this quest at 41.
Test 2 – Escape from Umbar
I lost the first attempt here as well. It’s so easy to get two enemies engaged with you too early in this quest! The deck’s threat level is high enough that it’s hard to avoid any enemy that comes up.
The second attempt was a good game, and I beat it fairly handily. I had a beautiful starting hand with several crucial pieces present: LoV, Steward, Silver Harp, Elrond’s Council and a questing ally.
I was able to quest for 8 and still defend and kill that starting Umbar Sentry on turn 1 which gives any deck a good chance at the quest. It can be a challenge to actually get Steward of Gondor down if you’re triggering Gimli’s response very often, but I eventually got it out on Cirdan. After I got Narya attached, all my resource problems were over. The Sailor of Lune proved a good quester since there are plenty of low cost or free events that will be hitting your discard pile.
I was able to get a Dunedain Warning on Gimli and along with Arwen’s defense boost, he was able to do the majority of the defending. There were a couple attacks I ended up taking on the Guardian of Rivendell just to keep Gimli safe, but it really hurt to not be able to ready Legolas and have that 4 attack. Narya didn’t do much work (besides a little resource smoothing) until I got 2 Guardian of Rivendell allies out, then it was helping a good bit.
The deck started at 8 willpower and ended questing for 15 by turn 12. I saw a lot of locations which helped me keep alive, but the willpower numbers helped me clear them as they came up and not get bogged down.
With all the archery flying everywhere, the healing became scary for a bit, but by the time the Dunedain Remedy hit the table, I had excess resources on all heroes and was able to pass it around and heal everyone up.
Test 3 – Encounter at Amon Din
The deck passed again with flying colors. It took 9 turns and ended at 41 threat, but we saved 22 villagers and only lost 2. I didn’t draw Steward of Gondor the entire game and it still worked OK. I didn’t get rushed with too many enemies, but I was always able to kill off what came at me. If I had more resources, I would have been able to play more allies, draw more cards with Elven-Light and quest through the last stage faster with higher willpower numbers, but it worked just fine!
Test 4 – The Steward’s Fear
There are a lot of variables in this quest and while I didn’t win, I had a solid shot at it. It’s easy to stall out with too many locations in the staging area on this quest, but with that solid 8 from turn 1, that was never a problem here.
The “Up in Flames” plot started discarding cards off the top of my deck from turn 4, and I lost by my deck running out. I was prepped to kill the Villain, the Daughter of Beruthiel, but a shadow card from a Brigand enemy stole all my resources before Gimli defended so I couldn’t ready Legolas and finish her off. My deck ran out at the end of the round, and that was it. I was so close!
This hero combination is actually pretty potent, with the high starting threat being its main weakness. My difficulty with the Harad box versions of Gimli and Legolas has been how many support cards they need to work smoothly, and that’s still holds, but even without any attachments or events played on turn 1, you can quest for 8 and still defend and attack. That’s a strong opening for any deck.
The problem then becomes how do you mitigate the card and resource drain on your deck?
The key cards to help get the deck off the ground are Silver Harp and Steward of Gondor. There are other cards that help, but getting these two cards down early is important enough that you really want to see at least one in your opening hand.
Even if you have Steward in your hand, it’s a bit of a trick to actually play it. If you spend Gimli’s resources, you forfeit the opportunity ready Legolas later which opens you up to getting overpowered by too many enemies. If Steward could go in Gimli it would be easy since it just replaces itself, but you really want Steward on Cirdan since you have many more Spirit cards to pay for and Narya will smooth things out after it is attached.
Captain’s Wisdom, Envoy of Pelargir and Unlikely Friendship all help get resources over to Gimli, but those first couple turns can dangerous and/or a little frustrating.
Silver Harp is just as important for the long-term success of the deck. If you get Steward out and get 1-2 copies of Elven-light cycling, you’re in good shape, but with 2 Silver Harps on the board, you can ignore Cirdan’s forced discard, effectively doubling your draw, and ignore the cost of Legolas readying Gimli. This frees you up to actually play the Guardian of Rivendell which requires a couple discards as well! I was initially surprised to see 3x Harp and no Mirkwood Longknife, but I think it was the right choice.
Gimli’s 5HP are wonderful because 2 defense is a little sketchy for a devoted hero defender. Arwen and 2x Dunedain Warning will get him to where he needs to be, but I might feel safer to include 3x Warnings. Just getting to 3 defense will help immensely. The Dunedain Remedy is a great healing choice since resources build up in the late game, which is about the time you start to really need it. I wish there was space for a couple Hasty Stroke events to help keep Gimli safe. It might be worthwhile to include depending on the scenario.
Light of Valinor is always good, but it doesn’t feel essential for the early game. I might even favor reducing it to 2x to squeeze another Warning into the deck. Getting it on Cirdan early is nice because he can provide an emergency defense or help Legolas kill off an enemy, but it really becomes useful after Narya enters play.
Narya is an interesting choice since there are only 6 combat oriented allies in the deck. Once you get two Guardian of Rivendell allies out (a Northern Tracker is almost as good), it’s worthwhile since you can ready them both, boosting one’s defense to 4 and both attacks to 3. I played fairly short quests, but I found it challenging to set up the heroes sufficiently and get those strong allies out before the endgame came. Choosing to focus on getting allies out or boosting the heroes’ power level is on of the interesting choices you have while playing this deck. I ended with 3-4 allies on the board in most cases.
The questing allies include Arwen, Sailor Of Lune and the Envoy can either quest or be ready to block as needed. I expected the Sailor to quest for 2 every turn due to all the cheap events and Elven-Light getting dropped to Legolas’ ability, but sometimes Cirdan’s resource phase discard got in the way and an ally or attachment ended up on top during the quest phase. Still a good choice.
Glorfindel will really give the deck a solid boost in the mid game when you can afford to play him from your discard pile. He has built in readying, but he’s a decent choice for Narya’s readying as well if your hand is low on cards or the +1 might help.
While testing this deck in “true solo”, I didn’t get much value out of the Northern Tracker, but he is always appreciated in multiplayer games. He gives the deck more combat prowess if the game goes long.
Galadriel’s Handmaiden is worth it for the threat reduction. Even with 3x Handmaiden and 3x Elrond’s Council, the deck consistently ends in Valour mode. Well Warned is included in the sideboard and I would seriously consider including a couple copies if there are any Doomed cards in the encounter deck you’re planning to play against. With only 1 combat action possibly from each hero, and the allies only appearing a bit later in a game, sitting at 35-37 threat on turn 2 is a bit scary!
Test of Will, Unlikely Friendship, Elven-Light and Elrond’s Council are all perfect here. Captain’s Wisdom is nice to get that early-game resource on Gimli, but it’s so hard to forfeit Gimli’s 3WP to actually play it. All 3 heroes are Noble, so technically you could trigger it with any of them, but Gimli seems to be the best choice in most cases, if you can stomach the WP loss. The same comment goes for We are Not Idle, except it’s easier to play since you can do it outside of the resource phase.
Solo or Multi?
Both, but the high threat level could cause issues in multiplayer.
I really like the design idea built into these unlikely friends, but making them really work has proved more difficult than I hoped. This decks exceeded my expectations and proved they are viable and even strong when built around! It’s true that these heroes take some setup to really work through an entire game, but Cirdan is a good choice for a third hero to help them setup faster.
This deck won’t spread allies across the entire table, quest for 100 or take down a Balrog in one attack, but it hits the ground running, covers each area of the game competently, has a cohesive theme and it’s fun to play!
I recommend you go give it a try and give it a thumb on Ringsdb.
Thanks to Fantasty for creating and posting the deck!