Gondor decks have been slowly evolving for several years now, but they still don’t come up often on RingsDB. While Hirgon feels like a Rohan hero since he fits so well with Theoden and Eowyn, he can actually be used effectively in a Gondor deck like this! This Gondor deck was created and uploaded to RingsDB by user Maogrim.
I’m interested to see how some of these allies work out. I rarely use Gondorian Spearman, Henneth Annun Guard and Ingold at this point. This looks like it will ramp up willpower numbers a little slow, but should get a decent army on the board by the end game.
Card draw has always been an issue for Leadership and that’s my main thought looking at this list. Steward of Gondor should keep the deck flush with resources, but if that Rod of the Steward doesn’t get drawn, this might have tons of cash and nothing to spend it on until it finds the Rod.
Test 1 – Into the Pit
I was afraid I might get location-locked in stage 1 before I got through that initial active location, but I was able to get through and win this quest. Getting a questing ally out right away is pretty crucial for getting a foothold.
With Steward in my opening hand I was able to play all my cards in my hand by turn 4-5 and then I was playing off the top of my deck until the end of the game on turn 9. I didn’t draw either Valiant Sacrifice or Rod of the Steward. I ended the game with around 12 excess resources.
I love the Hirgon/Knight of Minis Tirith combo. It’s great for taking care of that annoying 3-threat Goblin Scout that can’t be optionally engaged if your threat is between 26 and 35.
I ended with at least 10 allies in play and I was able to quest for around 14 without Faramir or Visionary Leadership (which never showed up either!). Unfortunately I forgot to take a screenshot of my game…
Test 2 – Fords of Isen
This didn’t go too well just because I wasn’t able to get enough willpower on the board fast enough. To be fair, the description does say this should be played with another deck that provides some early game willpower. I’ll try it again with a complimentary deck!
I played this deck with my Swords of the Noldor deck and had a successful game! I ended up “top-decking again which isn’t great, but wasn’t too bad for this quest since you get punished for having cards in your hand. I got Visionary Leadership out so I was able to contribute some solid willpower numbers to the quest. I was actually short on defenders. The Defenders of Rammas is the best defender in the deck, but with only one hitpoint, he can be squishy. I was missing the Gondorian Shield! I used Denethor as a defender, but he took 2 damage right away and couldn’t be used again until I was able to heal him with the other deck. The Knight of the White tower can be used a good defender as well, but I didn’t draw him.
The Knight of Minis Tirith is solid at 4 attack and even 5 if you use Hirgon’s +1 when he enters play.
By turn 7 the deck was questing for around 12WP and handling some decent combat. While I had plenty of attack power, the lack of a really solid defender made me reticent to take on more than one enemy at once.
Test 3 – Escape from Umbar
I tested this again with my Noldor deck and it worked great this time! I drew Steward of Gondor, Visionary Leadership, Heir of Mardil and Rod of the Steward in my opening hand! That’s the perfect draw for sure! With Rod of the Steward, I was able to continue building through the game. Even with discarding several allies through the game I was able to build a nice army of around 10 allies with solid stats buffed by Boromir, Visionary Leadership, Faramir and even For Gondor! when 6 enemies came down at once when I progressed from stage 1 to stage 2! By the end it was contributing plenty of willpower and chomping through enemies quite handily!
The core set Gondorian Spearman actually did good service as well! He finished off some enemies but he also survived a couple attacks between For Gondor and Narya’s +1 defense from the Noldor deck. I even had Gondorian Discipline in hand to save him if he happened to take damage.
I won on turn 9 even after hitting a setback when an enemy attacked the Noldor deck 3 times in a row near the end of the game.
There are some unique challenges to building a Tactics/Leadership deck. This deck has no cancellation, healing or encounter deck control, but it does provide strong resource production and smoothing and very powerful “universal buffs” which can make up for it’s weaknesses. If it can get enough cards on the table, it can really produce some powerful results.
Denethor provides a fast start by letting you get allies out right away and Boromir helps those allies be more effective. Hirgon provides “resource acceleration” as well with his discount but he also provides some flexibility as you are able to respond to what comes off the encounter deck. But he can only be effective if you have cards play! I think main thing this deck could use is more consistent card draw. There aren’t many options in these sphere, but I think making that a priority would be worth it. It’s always frustrating to have resources piled everywhere but no cards to play! I would strongly suggest prioritizing that card draw high enough to run the full 3x of Rod of the Steward and Valiant Sacrifice. The other alternative would be the Sneak Attack/Gandalf combo, but that isn’t nearly as thematic!
In my opinion, it would be easy to drop 1x Captain of Gondor and 1 For Gondor! or Ingold so you could bring Valiant Sacrifice and Rod of the Steward up to 3x each. I would go so far as so say that I would mulligan for Rod of the Steward over Steward of Gondor!
There are other options for card draw like Foe Hammer/Swords of Numenor or something like that, but that wouldn’t be any more reliable and it would dilute the main idea of this deck which is to crank out resources, play lots of allies and buff them up with strong Leadership cards.
Some of these Gondor allies don’t get used much, but I am happy to report that I was able to use nearly all their abilities! I even used the Henneth Annun Guard’s ability once to good effect! Hirgon’s makes those little abilities so much better since you can plan more accurately after the staging step. Ingold was questing for 5WP, the Defender of Rammas had some backup with Gondorian Discipline and For Gondor! (and Narya for these last couple games), and the Ship Captain and Envoy were able to shuttle resources around the table to good effect! I haven’t used some of those old cards like For Gondor! for a long time and it was good to see them actually do work!
With 11 Tactics allies in the deck, I didn’t always have an ally to play with Hirgon’s ability, but I was able to play one at least half the time in the games that I got the Rod of the Steward out and actually had cards in my hand.
Heir of Mardil was a very effective card here. I put it on Boromir and then he could either quest with him for 2 (or 3 if Faramir was working) and attack during combat or use him twice in in the combat phase. Denethor’s ability makes Heir of Mardil solid.
I wish there was a way to work some cancellation/healing into this deck. A significant portion of the allies have 1 hitpoint so a Necromancer’s Reach, Dark and Dreadful or any similar treachery would shut down your Gondorian army fairly quickly. It would be smart to make sure someone at the table has solid access to Spirit while you play this deck. The deck also lacks any way to reduce threat, but with a decently low starting threat of 28, that’s not a huge concern.
My main other thought was the defense was a little squishy. The Defender of Rammas and Denethor both start out as “decent” defenders but need an attachment to make them really solid. You could add Gondorian Shield and/or Raiment of War, but again, it comes down to a decision on how much do you want to dilute the deck’s primary focus of swarming Gondor allies? You can always afford to chump block with some of those little allies…
Solo or Multiplayer
I would put this deck solidly in the multiplayer side of things. It matches well with decks that provide solid starting willpower numbers. It worked great with my Noldor deck!
My enthusiasm for this deck went up and down a couple times while testing it. I won my first game, then lost several more including some easy quests, then started having a lot of fun with it after I matched it up with a complimentary deck. It’s certainly not a “do a little bit of everything” deck, but once it gets some key cards in place, it can really build up some solid numbers!
I rarely see decks that feature only Tactics and Leadership cards. The exclusion of Lore and Spirit does leave the deck with some weaknesses, but the focus on those global buffs Leadership provides is effective in its own way.
The deck isn’t invincible, but it can do good work in a multiplayer game! I’m going to give it a try in my multiplayer group at our next meeting and I suggest you do as well! It’s unlike any Gondor deck I’ve played before and I was (eventually) impressed with how well these various Gondor cards actually synergized. I’ve personally written some of these cards off as too expensive (For Gondor!), too low impact (Henneth Annun Guard), or too specialized (Heir of Mardil), but when combined correctly, they are very fun and plenty strong!
Go over to RingsDB and check out the deck. Give it a like and give it a few plays. Don’t play it just once! I found I had to play it a few times for it to make sense even in a multiplayer game. After several plays I really started to like it and it contributed a lot to a two-handed game!
Thanks to Maogrim for building a fresh style of Gondor deck and sharing it with us!