This deck is similar to the classic Black Riders Hobbit deck that has been around for a while, but it features several of the new cards that have come out in the last year that really give the deck a new feel. Using Folco Boffin instead of Pippin will give the deck 2 more full turns in Secrecy mode. It looks like this deck focuses on powering up Rosie using Sword Thain and a couple songs to make her action really strong. The other three newer cards from this last year include Fireside Song, Song of Hope and Friend-of-Friends.
One of the Hobbit deck’s strengths is flexibility. Between Rosie, Song of Hope, Halfling Determination, Fast Hitch and Sneak Attack this deck should have plenty of options to respond to whatever the encounter deck reveals during the staging step.
This deck looks a little “complex.” It has a lot stuffed into the deck which means it will have lots of options and will be very powerful when everything is in play, but it also means it won’t be as consistent as a deck that runs higher quantities of each card. It has five 1x cards, nine 2x and ten 3x cards. With lots of card draw it should see most of the 50 cards in a game, but if any cards are discarded off the top of your deck (Cirith Gurat, Deadmen’s Dike etc), you may lose an important part of your deck with no way to get it back.
Test 1 – Dungeon of Cirith Gurat
I actually played this game before I read the deck description or decided to review this deck so I didn’t really play it optimally. But I still won! The songs are meant to go on Rosie, but since I didn’t draw Sword Thain until late in the game, I loaded Folco up with songs to increase his questing power and resource generation/smoothing.
Between Peace and Thought, Gandalf and 3x Master of the Forge, I got cards into my hand quickly, but I was unlucky and didn’t draw Rosie until halfway through the game. But the low starting threat kept me in good shape through the early game and by mid game, Merry was powered up as a Murder-Machine. The last big fight was a trick and I had to throw a couple chumps under the buss.
Hero Rosie doubled the effect of Halfling Determination on the last turn to escape the host orcs that was chasing me in stage 3.
In spite of discarding some cards from my deck, everything functioned and I had control of the board most of the time. The treachery that stops characters from readying was painful for this deck, but as long as you can keep your threat low enough to avoid engaging too many enemies, you can survive one turn without the readying hobbits rely on.
Test 2 – Return to Mirkwood
This quest totally nerfs all the secrecy cards since you have to raise your threat by an additional three points per turn! The deck still did it’s job! I won on turn 8 with 49 threat on the dial! It was a quick game but facing a Hill Troll, Marsh Adder and Goblin Sniper on the last stage was exciting! Gandalf really pulled through here defending against the Hill Troll on the penultimate turn and finishing the quest by destroying the Marsh Adder in the planning phase of the next turn.
Test 3 – Escape from Umbar
Another great game! This deck really has a lot of options! It was a pretty long game at 12 full rounds, but I drew my entire deck, was still in Secrecy mode at the end of the game, and had Rosie boosting with her 5WP, Sam defending for 5 with shadow protection, and Merry attacking for 9, and all three had Fast Hitch! I never had to discard Folco either.
Archery can be a real problem for Hobbit decks, but I had the strength to dispatch those archers whenever the appeared so I didn’t have to deal with their damage any longer than necessary. I was able to deal that damage to Gandalf a couples times as well.
Attachments all over those heroes! For some reason Friend-of-Friends is coming through as Captains of the West in OCTGN right now…
Test 4 – The Nin-In-Eilph
This was a tricky quest to manage with all the threat increasing and direct damage effects but the deck rose to the challenge. The resource curve on this deck is very reasonable so you’re able to get something helpful into play every turn. Between the Master of the Forge, Gleowine, Gandalf, Heed the Dream and Peace and Thought, it’s fairly easy to find that crucial card that’s needed at any given moment.
This is a nicely balanced deck! With so many single and double copies of card I was afraid it wouldn’t be reliable, but it’s impressed me! While there might be only 1 or two copies of a very powerful and helpful card (Hobbit Cloak for example), there are usually other options for covering that part of the game just in case you don’t have that card in play.
- Willpower: Decent hero willpower, Fireside Song, Song of Hope, Friend of Friends, Halfling Determination, Rivendell Minstrel
- Defense: Sam, Hobbit Cloak, Rosie, Halfling Determination, Gandalf, Friend of Friends
- Attack: Merry, Dagger of Westerness, Halfling Determination, Friend of Friends, Rosie
- Card Draw: Gleowine, Master of the Forge, Heed the Dream, Peace and Thought, Gandalf, Daeron’s Runes
- Resource Acceleration: Resourceful, Sword Thain, Low resource curve, Good Harvest
- Threat Reduction: Gandalf, Folco Boffin
- Healing: Warden of Healing, Resourceful (you can reliable trigger one Warden twice per turn with a resourceful on Folco)
- Readying: Fast Hitch, Sam
- Cancellation: Staff of Lebethron
Treachery cancellation is the only area of the game this deck doesn’t have covered!
My only other comment is regarding the Lore hero selection. Folco is a great alternative to Pippin since he gives you those two extra turns to get Resourceful down, but Pippin might be more valuable in any quest that tends to consistently raise your threat. Pippin will still give you occasional cards after you threat is in the 21-32 range and he will raise that engagement cost but up to 4 with Sword Thain Rosie, or even 5 if you’re playing a Saga quest! Folco is the best choice for most quests, but Pippin could be swapped in if there’s no way you’re going to stay in Secrecy during those first few turns. Folco always gives you the option to decrease your threat by 7 but I don’t see that as a good choice in this deck unless you were close to 50. The Lore resources are too valuable.
Solo or Multi?
This deck will work fine in either context. It may be best in a solo setting since controlling threat and the engagement threat is slightly stronger with a single deck, but it will certainly pull its share of the load in a multiplayer game as well! With very few unique cards in the list it should be a decent deck to bring to a group game. Gandalf, Rosie and Bill are your only unique allies!
This is a great deck! It can quest, defend, kill things, and it’s fast and flexible. It does what a good Hobbit deck should do! I appreciate its balance. I also appreciate that it’s very thematic. Gleowine, Master of the Forge and Warden of Healing are the only cards that aren’t at home in the Shire and those are really support cards.
It might show some weakness against quests that mill your deck, but there’s enough overlap in card effects, it might survive that as well. It doesn’t rely on any one particular trick enough to be neutered by losing a card or two.