The Wilds of Rhovanion was released abouta week ago and the eager deckbuilders are at work! This new deluxe box includes enough focused player cards to create a whole new deck style. While I haven’t been able to pick up my physical copy yet (due to the incompetence of my local game store!), I’ve been playing several Dale decks and I’ve been having a great time!
This will be a less detailed post as I play through several of the Dale decks that have been published on RingsDB over the last week.
I’m going to try to put several Dale decks through a gauntlet of three quest as fast as I can and get a feel for the various Dale variations that have already come to the surface.
My plan is to run these decks through Passage Through Mirkwood, Escape from Umbar and The Three Trials (easy, medium and difficult) and see how they do.
Deck #62 – All Hail King of Dale
Our first Dale deck is created by wehehe and features all 3 Dale heroes and some of the Dale allies we received in the Harad cycle. It has a Scout sub-theme and relies on the Necklace of Girion and some event for resource acceleration.
Passage Through Mirkwood – Win
A win on turn 5. Direct damage started to pile up but I quested through fast enough to survive. The 3HP on all three heroes is a little scary with Necromancer’s Reach around!
Escape from Umbar – Loss
I couldn’t get a foothold with enough willpower fast enough here and archery turned me into a porcupine fairly quickly… Dale doesn’t have a native healer and while the allies have great hitpoints they don’t last forever!
The Three Trials – Loss
I just couldn’t dig into my deck fast enough to get the allies into play. I was taken down by the second Guardian with not enough on the table to deal with what was coming at me. I feel like it could do considerably better with more card draw. The native card draw from Brand is good, but if your hand is full of attachments with no one to put them on, it doesn’t help! With these allies and attachments coming in fairly cheap, you really need to get those cards through your hand! While Lanwyn is a great thematic choice and she gives you another Dale character to drop attachments on, her ability doesn’t really synergize with the rest of the Dale deck. Her 3 attack was welcome!
This deck has good cancellation, threat reduction and all the right ally/attachment combos but I would say it just needs more draw to let all those delightful combos to go off. Sneak Attack/Gandalf would be a good way to get some draw without changing the hero lineup at all. The draw that Lore provides along with access to the new Bartering event might make a big difference as well if you were willing to change up that third hero.
Deck #63 – Dale Won’t Fail
This Dale deck comes to us from Durin’s Father. You can find a great post on his blog that discusses strengths and weaknesses of these new cards on his blog. It features the same lineup of heroes but uses a wider variety of attachments including more Tactics and some Lore cards.
Passage Through Mirkwood – Win
I never found King of Dale in this quest but I got 6 good allies on the board and cruised to victory. King of Dale is probably important enough to run the full 3 copies so you aren’t stuck with allies in your hand that you can’t play. I had a Warrior of Dale and a Long Lake Trader in my hand at the end of the game but I was top-decking until I found that King of Dale to get them on the table.
Escape from Umbar – Win
This was a good tight game! The archery never lets up! The Dunedain Remedy did good work keeping the squishy heroes healed up so I could keep my allies in play. It was a longer game at 11 turns, but I STILL never found King of Dale so I 5 allies in my hand that I either couldn’t afford or lacked a resource match to get into play. That 2nd and 3rd copy of King of Dale are dead cards once you draw them but it’s worth it to get that increased tempo of discounted and off sphere allies into play faster.
Great Yew Bow would have been fun on Lanwyn if I had drawn it a little sooner, but I drew it after my threat had already hit 36 so I didn’t really have a chance to pick off enemies in the staging area.
The Map of Rhovanion is a sweet little card. It can help you get through location lock even if you aren’t successfully questing.
The Three Trials – Loss
I think The Three Trials might be too brutal! I took a couple mulligans to give me a good start but I ended up defending against the 5 attack guardian right away and he chewed through all the allies I could get on the board then ate a hero. GG…
This deck has a lot of options in its attachment selection but that made my opening hand drastically different in every game. I had some bad luck and never found King of Dale in all 3 of my games which really hurt so I’m voting for a third copy for maximum efficiency. With no threat reduction I wasn’t thrilled about using the Magic Ring too much but the Red Arrow and Dunedain Remedy provided excellent value. I like the Celduin Traveler’s scrying effect, but he may be more expensive than he’s worth. 3 resources for 2 willpower is OK and he becomes better when you get a map or something on him but that North Realm Lookout already has me spoiled! The Rhovanion Outrider doesn’t have direct synergy with the core Dale trait mechanics but the quest/attack versatility is valuable and with 2 Spirit heroes he was not too difficult to get into play, even without the King of Dale attachment. Once you get a map on him, he’s actually questing for 3, dropping a progress on the active location and a location in the staging area! That’s actually pretty good..
More card draw would have helped again here. Lore is looking attractive to me for that third hero slot!
Deck # 64 New Neighbors in the Hood by Jekzer
This is a drastically different deck style that combines the Dale and Harad traits. The resource curve is pretty high and without Steward of Gondor it’s really going to rely on the new Necklace of Girion and King of Dale for cost reduction.
Passage Through Mirkwood – Loss/Win
I got a hard opening on this one so I played it again. I didn’t see any of the Harad allies in either play and I finally realized there’s only 4 copies of the Harad allies in the deck. Kahliel’s utility goes down when there’s only 4 allies that interact with him in the deck. Kahliel’s Headdress seems a little expensive for what it does here as well. At it’s best it will be adding 1 WP to Kahliel and Firyal assuming Jubayr isn’t questing.
Escape from Umbar – Loss/Win
I had a decent start but stalled out with not enough cards in my hand. I had allies out but no attachments to play.
The second run went really well as I revealed more locations than enemies in the early portion of the game. I won on turn 10 with 9 allies out on the board. I still had 24 cards left in my deck so I think it could benefit from more card draw (the Dale deck is hungry for draw!), but this went well. Kahliel didn’t do much but I did get Jubayr in around turn 7.
The Three Trials – Win!
This was a very enjoyable game! I got a great starting hand and got a nice combo of Barrow and Guardian. By the last stage I had enough defenders armored up to tank the Guardians for 3 turns and pick them off one by one. I didn’t have the freedom to play Necklace of Girion but I was pretty proud of beating this one!
I completed the quest on turn 13 with a threat level of 49 and 12 cards left in my deck.
I think that a Harad/Dale combo has possibilities but it takes some finesse. I’m not sure Kahliel is the most efficeint choice if you’re only going to include a couple Harad allies, but I won some good games with the deck so I won’t complain!
I’ve seen Spare Hood and Cloak in most of these decks but I’ve only made use of it a couple times. It’s nice to have a free item to play for the card draw and it combos well with the North Realm Lookout, but I find it fizzles after one use. Once you’ve moved it away from the character with action advantage, it’s hard to get it going again. Maybe I’m missing something…
Deck #65 A Dale as Old as Time by Devaresh
This deck is fairly similar to the Dale Won’t Fail deck. It includes Gandalf vs the Celduin Traveler and has shorter but more consistent list of attachments but the basic list is very simlar. I’m sad to see no Traffic From Dale in this list! It’s becoming a favorite of mine! That boost of 6-9 resources in the late game can be amazing!
Passage Through Mirkwood – Loss/Win
My first run ended with a stream of enemies taking me down in the first 3 turns.
The second run played out perfectly with some fun moments. I drew Ungoliant’s Spawn in the first few turns and was able to take it down in the same turn! The 3 Dunedain Remedy are excellent tech for Dale. I was able to shuffle them around to either clear a hero so I could drop another attachment which would draw me a card or move it over to Bard Son of Brand so increase the number of attachments on him to make King of Dale more powerful. A movable attachment is really fun in this deck! The Long Lake Trader can do a similar task, but Dale needs healing as well so the Remedy makes good sense.
Escape from Umbar – Loss/Win
Things can really go bad in the first turn on this one if you reveal an Umbar Sentry that surges into another enemy on turn 1! I scooped the first game then had a good second game. I even fought my way through the Southron Champion sidequest!
MVP cards here include the Remedy, Gandalf, King of Dale and the Lookout and Redwater Sentry. Gandalf really got my card draw engine going and then the deck can really do things. Dale is kind of dead unless it can draw cards! The Rhovanion Outrider was valuable as well. With a Map attached, he can quest for 3 and drop a progress on the active location and a location in the staging area. That little bit of staging area location control is really useful in this quest to clear the Umbar Square so you don’t reveal extra encounter cards during the travel phase.
The Three Trials – Loss/Loss/Win
I found that if I started with the Cave Barrow and the Raven Guardian in play, I had a decent chance, but with no heroes that could withstand a 5 attack Guardian on the first turn, it was almost an auto fail if the Wolf Guardian came up first.
Gandalf was a lifesaver again in this game. He was best for drawing cards, but he dropped my threat when it became urgent. I got a little use out of Spare Hood and Cloak in this game. Once you hit Valor level, you can use it on the Knight of Dale to ready one of your strong defenders, then pull it back off the defender with the Long Lake Trader. It is a 3 card/6 resource combo to get another defense out of a Redwater Sentry so not extremely efficient but tricksy and fun!
This deck has some good flexibility and fun tricks in it. I think Gandalf is a good choice and might be worth 3x instead of 2 just because of the strength of his flexibility. With King of Dale as the only form of resource acceleration, I found myself low on resources through much of the game. I applaud the choice to leave out Steward of Gondor but I would probably suggest pulling Traffic From Dale in from the sideboard. Just a couple plays of Traffic From Dale can give you the momentum to take control of the board. I would gladly swap out To Arms! for Traffic From Dale. Without more resource acceleration the Knight of Dale is a hard sell for me. He’s expensive and doesn’t excel in any one thing like the other allies do. He can quest for 3 which is good but he’s so expensive compared to his new fancy compatriots that I wasn’t eager to play him when he came up.
The card draw seems to be a constant challenge for Dale and this deck did pretty well in that area. Between up to 5 plays of Gandalf and a couple Valiant Sacrifice events, I was able to keep cards flowing pretty well. That last game of The Three Trials lasted 14 turns and I was able to get to the bottom of my deck by the last turn.
Lanwyn has made her way into almost all of these decks and while the theme is there, she doesn’t contribute a lot in a solo game. The quests I chose to play don’t have a lot of surging cards and in solo play, you can’t count on it even if there are a high percentage of cards with Surge. If you’re looking for strong theme, Lanwyn is one of the only 2 choices that we currently have, but I think there are probably more effective choices for a third hero. A Lore hero would be good to provide more card draw and resource matching for the Long Lake Trader and Maps. A hero with more hitpoints would be really nice to make the early game easier if you’re forced to take an undefended attack.
Deck #66 – Starter for Dale by Mr Underhill
This deck is a little different than the previous decks we’ve looked in that it contains cards from only one core set and this new expansion. Beravor might be able to solve Dale’s hunger for cards. We also have some utility cards like Hasty Stroke, Test of Will, Sneak Attack/Gandalf and The Galadhrim’s Greeting that will protect us from some of the nastier cards in these quests. This is the first deck I’ve looked at here that includes Bartering which looks like a bit of a tricky card to use. It looks like it will be flush with resources with Steward, King of Dale and 3x Trade from Dale.
If you want some detailed pointers on the finer points of the Dale tricks, Mr Underhill has written a detailed and long deck description here that goes over a lot of the possibles combos and tricks. It’s worth a read!
Passage Through Mirkwood – Win
If you can bring yourself to use her, Beravor keeps this deck rolling! In my 7 game turn there were only 11 cards left in my deck which means I drew an average of 4 cards per turn. I do like that card draw!
The deck is trisphere which is different than all the other decks I’ve tried so far so getting King of Dale down was a little tricky. Bartering really helped! I put a Hauberk on Brand and a map on Bard on turn 1. On turn 2 I used Bartering to pull the Hauberk off Brand to reduce the cost of King of Dale, then I was able to play the Hauberk on the Redwater Sentry for free when he came up.
Escape from Umbar
I failed the first one again to a enemy rush on turn 1 but dominated the second game. Once you get the staging area clear, this quest isn’t too bad. Henamarth Riversong kept me informed and the second run played out nice and smooth.
The card draw engine is strong here! I won on turn 8 with 9 cards left in my deck. Bartering proved its quality again here. If you have a Dale ally you really want to play an attachment on it so you can get the willpower and the resource. Sometimes the attachment you play isn’t the perfect one for the ally you have sitting there but it still helps. It’s just not ideal. But with Bartering, you can play that attachment, get the immediate benefit, then pull it off with Bartering and either play it again (for free and a card draw from your deck) on the proper target, or discount an important card like King of Dale or Steward of Gondor. The Hauberk is a great attachment to barter away since you can get the -1 discount on the next attachment you play then you can play that Hauberk back on to the Sentry for free and draw another card! It’s so cheaty!
I’m liking this version a lot. The card draw Beravor brings to the table is amazing and really gives the deck options. The resources this deck produces can be excessive but since you’re drawing a lot of cards, it’s not a bad problem!
The Three Trials – Win
While my Barrow draw was pretty bad, I was able to turtle on the Trial of Intuition for a good while and build up my board state. That beautiful board was ruined when I drew the Cave Barrow as the final barrow and I had to discard all by 5 allies, but I was able to rebuild a little and kill off all the Guardians and win on the 13th turn. A solid showing by Dale!
This deck has played pretty consistently so far. The strong card draw Beravor brings to the table really lets you set up that board of allies a lot faster. Lanwyn gives you a little more attack and potential action advantage but Dale’s strength is really in the allies so if you can get just a couple allies into play faster with Beravor’s card draw, you’ve basically replaced the utility of Lanwyn and continue to draw into more cards or support the other players at the table if you run your deck dry. I was drawing the last card of my deck by around turn 8-10 so it would be potentially useful to add that Will of the West from the sideboard.
The other interesting thing about this deck is that it only uses cards from the core and this box. That speaks to the power level of the cards in this new box!
(I went on to play several more games with this deck throughout the 4-5 days I continued to work on this post and beat several more quests with it including the 3 quests in the Wilds of Rhovanion box.)
Deck #67 Deck Tech: Dale Starter Deck by chrsjxn
This deck features Theodred as a third hero. This gives the deck a little lower starting threat and a big boost for early resource acceleration. This deck is also made entirely of Core and Wilds of Rhovanion cards.
Passage Through Mirkwood -Win
I got a great start with Steward and King of Dale in my opening hand. With a second Leadership hero it’s easy to play both King and Steward on turn 1! With King and Steward on Bard I was able to get a Redwater Sentry out with a Hauberk on turn 1! That is a solid start. After a solid planning phase I drew an Dol Guldur Orcs and shadows starting discarding my attachments and then I stalled out on card draw. I top-decked for a few turns until Gandalf came out to draw me some cards and I got control of the quest and won on turn 8.
Escape from Umbar – Loss
I got a weird starting hand here and could really play anything. I survived the first two turns then got engaged with 2 enemies at once and couldn’t keep up with archery and defense.
The Three Trials – Loss
I couldn’t get card draw going and never found the sentry/hauberk combo so those Guardians just chewed through my allies as fast as I could play them. The lower ratio of Dale allies was noticeable. With less Dale allies on the board, there were less opportunites to play attachments on them and draw cards to keep the engine going. I got to the third trial but by turn 10 I was sitting at 48 threat and there was no way I was going to be able to fight off all three Guardians at once so I called it there.
This deck feels a good bit different than Mr Underhill’s Core+Rhovanion deck just because of the ally selection. This deck has 14 allies from the core set and the other big difference is no attachment redistribution. Lore gives you access to both Long Lake Trader (you can run it with King of Dale if you want) and Bartering which is really good for getting those attachments on the ideal ally after you initially drop the attachment on any ally just so you keep the card draw momentum going.
Chris Jackson published a video of this deck beating Journey Down the Anduin earlier this week and he got the deck working really well there! You can find his video here.
With King of Dale, Steward of Gondor and Traffic from Dale, I feel that Theodred is actually a little more resource generation than you really need! If you can just draw the cards that will give you resources you don’t necessarily need the hero doing the resource generation. But for some reason I have an irrational aversion to Theodred so maybe that’s just me! The low threat level, resource distribution and turn 1 Steward are all solid contributions that Theodred brings to this deck.
Several more Dale decks have been published since I started writing this post but I think I’ll end this Dale-a-thon here.
Seastan published his Dale Deck 1.0 which features Galdor of the Havens to ensure you find King of Dale right away.
Devaresh published another Dale deck using Galadriel as the third hero. This was my first idea for the third hero when the box dropped so I’m eager to play this one and see how it works.
wehehe published a deck using Thurindir as the third hero so you can play allies faster and easier using The Storm Comes. I like this idea since it makes the deck a little less reliant on King of Dale, but by the time you’re able to clear that sidequest, you may have found your attachments and be well on your way! But I think this idea has great potential as well!
I put together a Erestor Dale deck and it performed pretty well but I haven’t published it yet. Erestor is a champ but so cheaty!
I’m a little Daled out! That was a marathon!
I have a couple takeaway thoughts after all those games:
- Dale is awesome, but it’s not invincible.
- Dale needs card draw. Lots of card draw. The cards are cheap and there’s lot of resource acceleration possible. The cards are good but they’re only good when you get the combos together. So draw all the cards!
- Dale is squishy on the first few turns. I recommend using a hero with at least 4 hitpoints as your third choice just so you have some sort of safety net if you get hit with an enemy or two on turn 1. Those three HP Dale heroes don’t last long if you take attacks undefended.
- Lore is pretty helpful. Bartering is actually a really helpful card and worth running. The native card draw and healing that Lore brings to the table seem to be worth extra tricks you have to play to make a tri-sphere deck work.
- Dale is really fun! All the fun attachments, strong allies and item swapping makes for interesting and enjoyable games.
- There’s more on the way! We have another solid generic Leadership ally coming and Wiglaf will be the first Unique ally for Dale. I’m excited to see what the coming cycle will bring to this new archetype that is already strong right out of the box.
This is a long post! I hope it was helpful to some of you and congratulations if you got to the end!