Deck #33 Return of the Rune Masters

This deck was created and posted to RingsDB by user kinpatsusamurai. You should  kinpatsusamurai on Instagram where he posts pictures of the Lord of the Rings LCG along with a wide variety of other gaming goodness!

return of the rune mansters lilst.PNG

First Impressions

I think Erkenbrand is one of the most undervalued heroes currently out there. With good defensive stats, Sentinal and built in shadow-cancellation, he’s right up there with the best defenders in the game. I rarely see him in a deck on RingsDB so when I saw him along with less-used cards like Idraen and Rune-master, I wanted to give it a try.

This looks like primarily a multi-player support deck, so its possible that my method of testing won’t be “fair,” but I’ll try to take that into consideration while I play and review it.

The deck is listed at 57 cards which is high, but 3 of those cards are the Ranger of the North which don’t count towards the deck size. 54 cards is still a bit large but not outrageously large.

Test 1 – The Hills of Emyn Muil

With a good bit of location-control included in the deck and this quest fresh in my mind since it was reviewed on one of the new LOTR blogs, I decided to give Emyn Muil a try.

The quest was a bit dreary, but I did get a feel for the deck. I didn’t draw the cards I was hoping for so I had a bit of a slow start, but I did get Rune-Master out early which let me play and rearrange signals on my heroes for reduced cost.

There is a lot of direct damage in this quest, so my allies kept getting killed off, but I was able to use the Remedy to keep my heroes safe. The location-heavy quest let Idraen ready plenty of times, but unfortunately there weren’t many enemies to deal with to make her readying worthwhile.

I was unlucky enough to not draw any of the 3x Ancient Mathom which is the primary form of card draw in this deck, so I was “top-decking” most of the game. I got Unexpected Courage on Erkenbrand so he was able to do double duty of either questing and being ready to defend, or holding back to defend and use his 2 attack to help kill an enemy.

In a multiplayer setting, I would have been well set with Lanwyn readying most of the time from Surge, Idraen readying for combat with more consistent clearing of locations, and Erkenbrand able to defend for myself and another player.

The quest was a bit tedious since I just had to wait for VP locations to appear, but I did win after 16 full rounds. I had to use a Test of Will earlier in the game on a treachery that would have started to get me into location lock early, so the Rockslide treachery massacred my allies at one point.

return of the rune master emen muil.PNG

Test 2 – Into the Pit

I was able to beat this quest as well in spite of getting Watchful Eyes attached to Lanwyn early in the game. With a good mix of enemies and locations, this quest pushes each element of the deck: location control, combat, healing and threat control.

It was a challenge in the first half of the game, but the second half was well under control. Erkenbrand’s shadow cancellation was extremely helpful here, preventing more goblins from being added to the staging area.

This time I was able to get more location control out. With the Northern Trackers, Rhovanian Outriders and Cave Torch, I was able to clear locations at times when Idraen’s readying effect was helpful. The Rune-master attachment really helped me keep my heroes healthy without draining too many resources to Dunedain Remedy. Lanwyn was pretty much out of the game until I was able to get an Unexpected Courage on her to mitigate the Watchful Eyes, but I was still able to kill off the goblins during the midgame with some of the heavier allies.

This deck felt like an appropriate power level for this particular quest.

return of the rune master into the pit.PNG

Test 3 – Celibrimbor’s Secret

I was counting on plenty of Surge in this quest to make Lanwyn amazing, but I just got “unlucky.” I wasn’t able to ramp up my willpower fast enough and I kept drawing enemies and eventually got overwhelmed with my threat going up too fast with two locations explored by the orcs.

I felt like I would had a chance if I had been able to get more cards out of my deck. Mathom is great card draw but it doesn’t work if it doesn’t make it to your hand! I had 34 cards still in my deck by the end of round 10 when I was killed by orcs. This deck might be able to beat it if you had more fortunate draws from the encounter and player decks.

rune master celibrimbor.PNG

Too many orcs!

Cards Choices

I like this hero combo, but it is certainly stronger in a multiplayer game. Lanwyn will trigger more often and her Ranged attack will be more valuable, Idraen will hopefully trigger every turn, and Erkenbrand will be a good Sentinel defender with buffs and healing.

There are some nice combos here. The best one is Dunedain Remedy with Rune-master. You can heal one point of damage for free every turn as well as do some resource re-distribution.

The location control allies are good for potentially getting readying out of Idreaen, but since all of them trigger when those allies are committed to the quest, I found that she would be readied at the start of the quest phase, then the active location would clear and she would get an extra ready that didn’t have any effect because she was already ready.  Unfortunately, nearly all of the location control events that would help are Lore cards. The location control was still helpful, even in a solo game. Sometimes I wouldn’t have to travel to a location knowing that I could explore it anyway and get the readying out of it without paying the travel cost.

The Follow Me/Ancient Mathom combo is good, but didn’t do much for a solo game. I might be a bit concerned about actually pulling that combo off in a multiplayer game as well since I never actually saw both those cards in my hand at once in the three games I played. But if there are other players helping out with other card draw effects, it could be easier.

One of the powerful, but possibly weary combos that would help with card draw is Sneak Attack/Gandalf. Its not original, and you’d have to make some room for the cards in the deck, but it always helps to get those cards and a nice action out of Gandalf for only 1 resource!

More small but effective card draw options might include Weather Hills Watchman and with a couple modifications, the Westfold Horse Breeder might even be worth it. With 9 Signals in the deck, the Watchman shouldn’t whiff too often and he’s another body on the board.

My other favorite combo I’ve been meaning to try in a deck of my own is running the Ranger of the North with Lanwyn. Adding good encounter cards to the deck is always awesome, but these guys will help Lanwyn boost her willpower or ready as well! I happened to draw the Rangers as shadow cards every time which was super frustrating!

I found Hasty Stroke to be a bit extraneous in a solo game with Erkenbrand on the board since he can easily cancel the shadow effect anyway.

The Warrior of Lossornach could be good if you already have some Ethir Swordsmen on the table, but with their single hitpoint, I found the Outlands suite of allies fairly fragile.

The Ring of Barahir was a puzzle to me. Besides granting the extra 1 hitpoint to a hero, I wasn’t sure what it was there for. Erkenbrand does like extra hitpoints, but it may be a better 1x card.

I never drew Steward of Gondor in all my games which was weird, but I often found myself with more resources than cards. Thinning the deck down to 50 and including Rod of the Steward might help it be more consistent as far as a resource/card balance. The Day’s Rising is another card that I always like to include with Erkenbrand, especially if he’s using the Destrier. It’s another decent resource acceleration card that’s underused but can generate several extra resources through the game.

The Armored Destrier is super valuable for Erkenbrand and in a multiplayer game, 2 copies attached would be great. With the discarded shadow card, he can reliably get a resource from The Day’s Rising if it was included.

I think this deck was designed for a multiplayer setting so I took the liberty of rearranging things for a solo-style deck and this is what I came up with.

remastered runemasters.PNG

Final Analysis

I like some of the ideas in this deck. I think Erkenbrand is one of the most undervalued heroes right now and its great to see him get some play. I really like the two spirit heroes here as well.

The Signals are nice little attachments and they provide safety and flexibility for your heroes. Their weakness has always been they are a bit slow and expensive for what you get. Rune-master helps half of that equation by essentially giving you one for free every turn (provided you can draw it). The challenge for leadership is drawing those cards fast enough. With 3x Mathom and 3x Follow Me, this deck has some decent draw, but still feels like it struggles to get cards into hand. Valiant Sacrifice might be a good addition to get that card draw moving fast enough to get the pieces to all come together.

I think this deck has plenty of good things going for it, but it won’t blast through the more difficult quests in a solo game. It has a nice power level to be competitive in quests like Anduin, Into the Pit and 7th Level. I think if it was able to draw cards faster and get set up by turn 3 or so, it could really start to turn out some solid power, especially in a multiplayer game. I do appreciate the deck for using less-used cards like Follow Me, Rune-Master and Ranger Summons.

Thanks to kinpatsusamurai for creating and posting this deck! Go over to RingsDB and check it out! Give the deck a try and see how it works for you!

Happy Questing!

One thought on “Deck #33 Return of the Rune Masters

  1. Thanks for giving this deck a spin and the kind words about it’s construction! It goes through a bit of metamorphosis since my group is doing the cycle quests in order and cards come in and out to tech against things. I should have put in a couple caveats about some of the cards and their uses on RingsDB. The Ring of Barahir, for example, is in there for The Wastes of Eriador where each player choose a hero has to take 4 damage and this card was a quick fix for the deck. I left it in here just to give our hero Erkenbrand even more of a buffer in the other quests, but you are right it should come out or go to x1. In the similar situation we were dealing with a lot of direct damage in the Dread Realm so the Warrior of Lossornach went in as a keep alive solution.
    Can’t wait to give your version of this deck a spin with my play group. Thanks again!


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