Here we have a thematic deck focusing on the people of the North, the Hobbits and Dunedain. The North United was created and posted to RingsDB by user Fantasty.
Sam and Folco go hunting with a Dunedain troop but Boffin is bound to head home come lunch time and keep the hunting party in Secrecy mode for a good while.
The deck description is extensive and helpful with many of the possible plays and combos outlined and described.
After reading the description I feel like I know how to play the deck already! It looks like the deck will get plenty of stout Dunedain allies into play through the advantage of Secrecy cards like Timely Aid and Resourceful. Folco’s effect and the possible Gandalf are the only threat reduction effects in the deck, but starting at 21 and having that -7 whenever you need it should ensure the deck stays in Secrecy long enough to get the key cards out. Peace and Thought looks like the primary form of card draw although Dunedain Pipe functions as pseudo draw.
Usually a Thurindir deck has at least 2-3 sidequests included but here we only have 1. I was surprised the description didn’t recommend a specific card to find with Gather Information but I’m assuming Rosie is the primary target since there is only 1 copy of her included and she should help out a good bit.
Test 1 – The Redhorn Gate
This was a success! As the description mentioned, mustering attack strength was the most difficult part of the game, especially when I was trying to destroy a 2/5/5/7 Mountain Troll!
While going over Caradhras I was stretching to get the required willpower since all questing characters get -1. This deck is very consistent with its theme, but it sacrifices some “standard” leadership Secrecy cards like Faramir that would have boosted willpower numbers considerably.
I was able to play 2 Resourcefuls and 2 Timely Aids right away after I sent Folco Boffin packing and I hardly missed him. I did make the mistake of putting one Resourceful on Sam and one on Thurindir and I probably should have put both on Thurindir since most of the cards I needed to pay for were Lore.
The Hobbit and Dunedain allies both have fairly well rounded stats so I had to plan ahead and save allies back for the combat phase when I was ready to hunt an enemy. With my threat in the teens and twenties the entire game, I was easily able to control what and when I engaged enemies. The larger challenge was controlling how many stayed in the staging area to contribute their threat. Henamarth Riversong was valuable here of course! I could carefully plan how much WP to send and how much attack to keep back to deal with the enemy I wanted to take down.
It was a long game because I was playing conservatively. I won on turn 15 with 1 card left in my deck and a threat level of 27.
Test 2 – Escape from Umbar
I gave this several tries with varying degrees of success but I couldn’t get my attack and/willpower numbers up fast enough to beat this quest. I had some great opening turns, but the quest kept catching up to me.
I tried various things including killing the Umbar Sentry with Sneaky Gandalf, getting several allies out turn 2 and using Folco and Sam to get some Peace and Thought cards into my hand, but I couldn’t ramp up fast enough.
Test 3 – Into the Pit
This was an unusual run through into the Pit but I smashed it. I only saw 4 enemies the entire 8 turns. With Henamarth Riversong’s scrying, I knew when I had the freedom to work on setting up my board without worrying about unexpected enemies. Between Timely Aid, Sneak Attack, Ranger of Cardolan and A Very Good Tale, I was able to muster a pretty army of allies by turn 3. At this point I’m starting to see what the deck is supposed to do!
With 13 allies on the board on the 8th turn I was able to quest for 24 and get through the last quest stage in one turn. I ended with 9 cards left in my deck and a threat level of 26 (which is remarkably low for Into the Pit).
Folco does good work here. If you can quest with him turn 1 and save his resource, you can play Peace and Thought in the Refresh phase which will hopefully draw you some good cards and maybe even a Fast Hitch to make up for exhausting Sam. Then you can let Folco go and get your threat down to 15 which should get you plenty of turns to get some resource acceleration down before you hit 21 threat and Resourceful’s cost goes up,
Test 3 – The Mumakil
It took me 13 turns, but this was a fairly easy win. The early game was a little rough with threat really building up in the staging area with a pile of locations, but I eventually dug myself out and got my board set up before advancing. The ally “cheating” combos worked well again here.
With very few enemies to face in the early game and the luxury of knowing what was coming (Henamarth Riversong FTW!) I was able to get enough combat power on the board to whittle down my Mumak and win on turn 14 without every losing a character. Sam got set up as a defender with the Cloak and Rosie’s help. He took a couple damage from the Mumak, but the healers kept him going.
This is a bit of a tricky deck to play but after several games with it, I can see that each card is certainly contributing something and it’s a cohesive deck.
I like the hero combination and I appreciate the (fairly) tight theme the deck limits itself to. I like the way Folco functions here: he gives the deck a good boost of a resource and 5 cards (through Peace and Thought), then goes on his way leaving the deck deep in Secrecy territory.
The only real theme concessions in the ally list are the Warden of Healing and Prince Imrahil. The healers are too good to leave out and while Imrahil is certainly not necessary for the deck, he fits too well mechanically to exclude!
The main ally I didn’t feel like I was getting my full value from was the Sarn Ford Sentry. This deck certainly doesn’t want to get locked down with more than 1 enemy at a time since it is low on defenders. While Sarn Ford Sentry can contribute her 2WP and sometimes draw a card for you, I hate to see her ability do so little. If one was going for efficiency over theme, the standby Quickbeam ally could replace at least one copy of the Sentry.
Another interesting ally option would be 1x Vigilant Dunedain. With your sidequest completed earlier in the game, he might provide an additional (and thematic) defensive option in the late game. He would have to be cheated in with Very Good Tale or Timely Aid, but that worked for Imrahil! You can always use the Dunedain Pipe to put him back in your deck if you draw him.
I think the Dunedain Wanderer would be a solid ally to include here as well. He could really take the place of the Andrath Guardsman. Since you stay in Secrecy mode for most of the game, he will cost the same as the Guardsman, provide some more substantial combat numbers and serve as a great story teller for A Very Good Tale.
Fantasty mentions several more efficient but less thematic options for allies including Mablung, Ghan-buri-Ghan, the Galadhrim Minstrel and Quickbeam.
I like the attachment selection but I would probably up the Hobbit Cloak from 2x to 3x. I felt the deck was very vulnerable until I got it attached to Sam so he could defend for 4. Without the cloak, there’s no way to defend for more than 2 with any character.
Legacy Blade usually accompanies Thurindir, but with only 1 sidquest in the deck, it wouldn’t do enough to be included (although its still a cheaper attack boost than Dunedain Mark in this deck!). 1x Steed of the North would be nice just to let Thurindir do something besides quest the entire game, but adding cards like this would probably just water down the core ally engine the deck is focused on. The Strider attachment would be thematic and helpful here. It would give you the free questing for most of the game for 1 cost.
All four events in the deck are essential and it’s good to see 3x of each one.
Solo or Multi?
This deck would work for either but I think it might be best as a solo deck since it uses those early turns of low threat to avoid enemies and get allies into play. It takes a while to actually build up enough characters to handle a tough fight or contribute more than its “fair share” of willpower.
I like playing this deck, especially since it has a tight theme that I enjoy. It’s good fun to get those large allies into play through other means. With the scrying and low threat, it really feels like you’re scouting through the deck and hunting your enemy once you get things set up.
That said, this isn’t a “power deck.” It moves a little slow. By turn 12 or so you can plan on questing for around 20 if everything has gone well and deal with a moderate enemy. Its going to be fun against quests that don’t throw too many enemies at you right away but have a “reasonable” first stage that will let you get your pieces in place.
This is an interesting and thematic deck that will have a good shot at beating a lot of quests, but won’t blow you away with raw power.
Thanks to Fantasty for getting the Hobbits and Dunedain together and sending it my way! Go over to RingsDB and give it a like and then play a game or two and see how it feels to you!