This thematic Gondor trap deck was created and published by Devaresh. He has recently started a blog called Reflection in Henneth Annun and you can find a dramatized retelling of a game of Escape from Umbar that features this deck here.
Deverash sent this deck my way after seeing my last post featuring a trap deck. While using several of the same cards, this deck is substantially different than the Traptics deck I recently tested.
This deck looks like it has lots of options. With 50 cards and 23 titles, the 3x card is the exception and 2x is the average.
I really like the fairly strict adherence to a Gondorian theme here, and it’s always fun to have Faramir and Boromir together in a deck. Boromir isn’t standard for a trap deck, but his stout defense will certainly be helpful for those moments when the deck might get in a little over it’s head while trying to set up the Followed/Emyn Arnen Ranger questing combo.
The Lore/Tactics often runs a little short on willpower in a deck, and I can see that being a potential issue in some quests for this deck, but the newer trap and ranger cards might really help in that area.
The deck has higher than average starting threat for a trap deck and Boromir will likely bring that level up a little faster than usual, but between Gandalf and Secret Vigil, there are some options for bring that threat down through a game.
Gondor deck usually feature Steward of Gondor and Visionary Leadership but without and Leadership cards in the deck, this deck will have a different feel than most Gondor decks.
Test 1 – Passage Through Mirkwood
My first try was such an easy run so I played it again. My first run was over in 6 turns and the second play lasted 9 turns with an easy win in both cases.
The second game I was able to kill Ungoliant’s Spawn in the staging area with Faramir powered up to 10 attack with two Spears and Hands Upon the Bow (2 turns in a row).
I was able to start using Master of the Forge on turn 1 or 2 in both games which gave me great options. With 21 attachments in the deck I had a couple attachments to pick from every single turn.
Test 2 – Siege of Cair Andros
I was just reminded this can actually be a fun quest by Warden of Arnor’s recent nightmare video. While this deck isn’t optimized for Siege or Battle questing, both the Traps and Boromir are excellent for this particular quest.
I was lucky enough to get my Ranger Spikes down early and neutralize several strong enemies in the staging area including the Lieutenant of Mordor, a Siege Raft and terrible Orc Vanguard. Even with 4 enemies in the staging area, Followed brought the total threat in the staging area to 0 (-1 if that was possible) so I was able to battle quest through to the end as my threat hit the mid 40’s.
It was great fun running a thematic Gondor deck up against a quest that doesn’t see much play! Traps are excellent counters to some of these bad enemies in the Against the Shadow cycle!
Test 3 – Escape from Umbar
This is a tricky quest for a trap deck since you can’t move from stage 1 to 2 or win at stage 2 unless you aren’t engaged with any enemies. Trap decks like to keep at least one enemy engaged with Followed and trapping those Southron Archers in the staging area with Ranger Spikes is more painful than it is useful so I had to play a little different.
My first game was a loss as I was overwhelmed with too many enemies before I was set up. The second attempt was a difficult but fun game with a successful ending on turn 15.
The Injured Companion treachery kept whittling me down as I couldn’t afford the threat hike. I made good use of Hands Upon the Bow in this quest. With a couple enemies in the staging area and two Ranger Spears attached, Faramir can attack for up to 10 and kill off the largest enemy in the quest before quest resolution!
This hero combination worked better than I anticipated! The main thing I was worried about was my threat level being too high which would force me to engage enemies I wanted to avoid. With traps stopping engagement, nets nerfing enemies and Boromir’s stout and repeatable defense, it wasn’t as much of a problem as I anticipated!
Faramir is a tricky hero to make good use of but he does solid work here. Between the Ranger Spikes buffing his attack, a Ranger Spear or two, his Ranged trait, his useful pool of 5 hitpoints and his ability to quest at least some of the time with Wingfoot, he was consistently contributing a good amount on every turn.
Boromir is a non-standard choice for a trap deck but he lets you be a little bolder in engaging enemies since he can defend a couple times. His resources tended to build up a little since there are only 10 resources worth of Tactics cards in the deck (compared to 52 for Lore), but that ensures that you have cash for Gandalf when he shows up. You can also pull resources off him with the Envoy of Pelargir.
Damrod is great as always. The deck relies on his cost reduction and card draw and he functions primarily as a quester until your Emyn Arnen Rangers are set up. In the late game he can actually defend against any netted enemies with the Gondorian Shield if you find yourself with extra willpower and a couple enemies in engaged.
The ally selection is broad and shallow (more 1x and 2x than 3x) but it seems to work out. Master of the Forge, Emyn Arnen Ranger, Mablung, Anborn and the Warden of Healing are all “auto-includes” in this style of deck.
I would consider the Dunedain Hunter as optional since you have a couple very strong attacking heroes, but he can fetch an enemy to put in your traps in the early game if you need it. Gandalf is expensive but he is helpful primarily for his threat reduction and a nice boost of willpower if you need to get through a location block. Extra Tactics resources tend to build up through a game anyway so his cost isn’t too bad. The Envoy is a nice resource smoothing option and a decent little quester who you can ditch when you need to chump block or discard an ally to a quest effect. I wouldn’t count her as essential, but she’s always helpful. The Ithilien Archer is an interesting choice. He can throw enemies back into traps in the staging area, but the 3 cost makes him pretty hard to get into play. The 2-cost Ithilien Tracker might be a nice substitute if you wanted some more sneaky questing power. The Guardian of Ithilien is even cheaper and could perform the Archer’s trick but only once.
The only attachment that didn’t seem to provide a lot of value to me was Elf-Stone. Gandalf is a good target for a free ally, but since Elf-Stone takes up a card slot, a resource, and requires you to add an additional progress point to a location, it doesn’t seem to be a big advantage as most of your allies are only 2-cost.
We have a strong selection of traps and it seems to be a sufficient number overall although I would probably encourage a 3rd copy of Forest Snare. Both Forest Snare and Gondorian Shield add enough value I would consider them 3x cards. Wingfoot is a helpful card, but with Master of the Forge around, I think 1 or 2 copies will be fine.
The event selection is small but helpful. Hands Upon the Bow steals the spotlight as a upgraded Feint since Faramir can knock out pretty much any enemy before the end of the quest phase (provided everything is going well and you have a spear or two attached and the enemy is trapped). Proud Hunters is one of my favorite cards from this last cycle. That burst of an extra few resources really helps the deck move along without having to play Leadership. Heed the Dream was very helpful in fetching the Healers when I was playing Escape from Umbar and the archery was piling up. Daeron’s Runes is never bad but Foe Hammer might be another good options since it’s actual card advantage and you’ll be killing enemies with your Ranger Spears on Faramir anyway. It doesn’t help as much in the early game, but it gives you a bigger boost when you can trigger it. Since the deck only has 1 unique card that you don’t want to draw twice (Wingfoot), there will always be a hard choice when deciding what to discard after you draw from Daeron’s Runes. Mithrandir’s Advice cost one resource but it would provide more card advantage without discarding.
Since Boromir will be doing most of the defending with his Shield, Sterner than Steel would be a good card to sub in if the quest you intend to go up against has particularly nasty shadow cards in it.
With a fairly high starting threat and faster threat increase from Boromir this would be a very appropriate deck to use some Valour cards, but I’m not sure which cards you’d want to cut to make room. A copy of Fierce Defense or Hour of Wrath would be fun although probably not optimal unless you’re battling Mumaks or something similar.
Here’s another possible iteration of this decklist:
Solo or Multiplayer
This deck should do OK in both contexts. Faramir’s Ranged attack will be very helpful in multiplayer games and with more cards coming off the encounter deck, you’re more likely to get an enemy in a trap every turn which is good for the deck! This deck would do even better with Leadership Denethor across the table passing resources around. Resource generation was the limiting factor in how fast this deck could move, so an extra resource a turn from Denethor could do great things in a multiplayer game.
This deck was very enjoyable to play and has some good power in it! It gets extra points for having a strong theme and for some unusual card combinations. It’s great to see those two new cards breath new life into the Trap deck archetype! It certainly gives it more viability in solo play and this deck is just one of the successful variations I’ve seen out there!
Most Gondor decks use a heavy dose of Leadership cards so this deck is worth a look just to see how well the Gondor deck can do without those key Leadership cards! Check it out here on RingsDB and give Devaresh any feedback you might have after playing a game with it.
Thanks to Devaresh for creating a new style of Trap deck and sharing it with us!