This looks like a nice “toolbox” style of trap deck that includes a wide variety of cards. Lore certainly has a lot of interesting and tricky cards! The first thing I notice here is that nearly every card has 2 copies in the deck. Gildor is the only single copy and Entangling Nets is the only 3x card! This will give the deck a lot of options, but it usually makes a deck a little less consistent. Lore’s easy access to card draw mitigates that disadvantage but I’m guessing that I’ll feel that inconsistency a little during play.
Aragorn will keep the deck from threating out, but the 30 starting threat will throw you straight into combat in most quests.
Test 1 – Passage Through Mirkwood
This went very well! I killed Ungoliant’s Spawn and won on turn 5 with is excellent. Between Henamarth Riversong, Gildor and the Traps, I felt like I was in control of the game most of the time. With Henemarth, I was able to prepare the staging area for the final boss and kill off Ungoliant’s Spawn with no difficulty. She fell into the Poisoned Steaks and Entangling Nets so I only had to muster 7 attack to kill it.
Willpower didn’t accelerate super fast, but Ranger Spikes helped and I didn’t have any trouble questing through.
Test 2 – Road to Rivendell
It’s brave/foolish to go into this quest with no shadow cancellation, but it worked out. The high threat level meant I was repeatedly ambushed by the enemies, but I was able to take it. This quest brought up a couple rules questions for me… Does the Ambush keyword happen before the enemy enters the staging area? Is the card “in play” before it enters the staging area? If it does hit the staging area first and falls in a Rangers Spikes, does it still make engagement checks? It was a bit confusing and I need to search for some rules answers, but in either case, I beat the quest fairly easily.
It was a fairly long game at 12 full turns, but with Henamarth in play, I had control again. Traps and Henamarth is such a great combo! Interrogation was a good card here. If Henamarth saw a bad card coming, I could use Interrogation to discard that card and set up my turn.
My card draw was strong and I drew all but 1 card out of the deck. Threat was high, but I didn’t have to reset. I ended at 42 and could have/should have reset at 35 or so.
Test 3 – Escape from Umbar
This quest is always a challenge for trap decks but I still managed it. It had enough flexibility through its variety of traps to function without relying on Ranger Spikes (the archer always seems to fall in the spikes which just means too much archery).
Between Henamarth, Interrogation and Anborn grabbing me the perfect trap, it was a controlled game that felt good. I was starting to feel the archery pile up and wished for a healer, but that’s pretty standard for this quest.
I thinking Burning Brand would be worth including. There’s no really stout defender in the deck, but both Aragorn and the Preserver do decent jobs, but they would be a lot safer with that Brand. With the Master of the Forge, it shouldn’t be too hard to find and I think it would be worth it in most quests.
I reset my threat when I hit 40 just so I had a little more control but it wasn’t necessary. It was a long game at 15 turns, but it was a solid win at the end.
Test 4 – Nightmare Trouble in Tharbad
Trap decks are ideal for this quest and Haldir was released in this pack! This wasn’t insanely, but my threat elimination level got down to 28 by the end!
Bellach is a good target for traps and he really got beat up when he came down. With Ambush and Entangling nets attached he didn’t stand a chance.
I couldn’t even use Aragorn’s ability (The Empty Mug’s effect will remove any card from the game if reduces your threat) but it wasn’t needed because of the nature of the quest.
I won on turn 10 with 15 cards left in my deck.
Most trap decks try to start with a low threat level and keep control through keeping their threat reasonably low. This deck starts fairly high (for a trap deck) but has the option to reduce it drastically when needed. While the deck loses some early game safety with that 30 starting threat, it has plenty of control cards to compensate. I’m starting to put more stock in scrying/encounter deck manipulation and this deck has a small dose of it that makes a big difference. If the deck can know what’s coming and play the appropriate trap to deal with it, it doesn’t really matter if your threat is 24 or 40.
Damrod is foundational for a trap deck and he’s central here but the other two heroes are used in (what I consider) non-standards ways. Lore Aragorn is often used in a secrecy or Doomed deck and he’s usually the target of lots of attachments. Here he is less central. In my games he was able to fill several different roles as needed. He’s a good defender with a large pool of hitpoints, he can quest when needed and his 3 attack was useful as well. Haldir is usually used in low threat decks so his effect will be easier to use but here he utilizes his ability through traps. Haldir was my normal target for Wingfoot, but a good case could be made for Aragorn if you’re planning to use him as your consistent defender.
This ally list is pretty long and I won’t go through each, but I’ll comment on a couple.
Anborn is crucial. Recycling traps is very powerful and worth the four resources. Henamarth Riversong is awesome for trap decks, especially when you can look in the planning phase (unlike Firyal) and even respond to a Surge card or an especially bad card with Interrogation (which can discard one of the top few cards of the encounter deck).
The Wellinghall Preserver and Mirkwood Explorer are the primary questing allies and they earned their keep. The Master of the Forge is an auto-include as well.
These allies are interesting, but didn’t contribute as much in my games:
- Dori (a nice safety valve, but expensive for the early game and I feel that more healing would be just as good or better)
- Ithilien Archer (This guy can be useful, but the deck packs enough attack that it can usually just kill the stuff that engages it instead of trying to through it back in the staging area). If you want enemy bouncing, the Guardian of Ithilien might be a cheaper way to the same thing although less consistent.
- Gandalf (He’s obviously good but I usually had so many cards I wanted to play I couldn’t make myself save up the 5 resources)
- Gildor (He could be a defender, but just running Burning Brand for Aragorn is cheaper. He could quest, but a 3rd copy of the Preserver is probably more efficient)
The deck performed really well for me so I’m not criticizing, but it’s worth considering increasing the quantity of some of the key allies and reducing the quantities or dropping some of the allies that didn’t contribute as much.
Ally Mablung would be good here since he’s cheap willpower and he can manipulate enemies at the same time. He might be a good option to swap for Gildor if you wanted to bring the resource curve down a little.
I really liked the mix of traps included here. It sounds strange, but the Forest Snare was probably my least-used trap. There are certainly times you just want to nail down an enemy for the rest of the game, but I found myself either leaving enemies in the Spikes in the staging area, or killing them off as they engaged me so the Forest Snare didn’t feel necessary. I haven’t used Poisoned Steaks very much, but with Haldir and Forest Patrol in the deck, it really helped killing off a couple enemies.
Interrogation claimed the most-valuable-event title. Knowledge of the encounter deck is always helpful and the ability to discard an encounter deck can be crucial. It’s cheap as well! Mithrandir’s Advice is great at 3 cards for 1 resource! I used Advanced Warning once, but it seems a little expensive in a solo game.
I enjoyed the deck a lot so I tweaked it a little so I could have more copies of the cards I felt were most useful. Here’s my altered list on top and the original below.
And the original version below:
This reduces the ally count a little and it also brings the resource curve down (108 resources down to 94).
Multi or Solo?
I would say this would work fine in either setting. Some trap decks take a while to start contributing much to a larger group, but this deck gets some good stats on the board fairly quickly.
This deck performed well. The Trap deck archetype has enough options now to create many different decks with considerable differences in play style. This one doesn’t rely on low threat nearly as much as many Trap decks, and it has plenty of options available once your card draw engine starts to take off. I enjoyed the considerable control you have over the encounter deck while playing this deck. The wide variety of traps in this deck proved fun as well. I tend to get stuck in the Ranger Spikes/Entangling Nets/Forest Snare rut and never explore the Poisoned Steaks and Ambush options. The strong attack options in this deck made both those less-used traps pretty valuable.
The 2x of most cards reduces the consistency of the deck, but some people prefer that style of play and it does have the advantage of keeping useless duplicates out of your hand. If you prefer more 3x cards in a deck, it’s fairly easy to make some decisions on which cards to cut and which to increase. My other idea would be to include Burning Brand for any quest with nasty shadow cards. The enemy attacks are often softened with Entangling Nets or dodged with Ambush, but you will be defending from time to time and with no character with more than 2 Defense, that Brand will really pay off in a lot of quests.
My only other thought while playing is that the resource curve is a little high. This deck has really strong card draw between Damrod and Mithrandir’s Advice which means you’ll have plenty of cards to choose from during the planning phase. Large-impact cards like Gandalf and Gildor are great, but if you can play a Preserver, Entangling Nets, a Ranger Spear and Mithrandir’s Advice for the same cost as that 5 cost ally, you’ll probably pick the later choice and those expensive cards might sit in your hands.
Thanks to Twelvesmallsquares for creating and sharing a strong trap deck! Go check out his deck here on RingsDB. If you look at all of Twelvesmallsquares decklists, you can see the evolution of this deck over several different versions.