This Dale deck caught my eye because it’s hero lineup is entirely different than all the Dale decks that I’ve played so far. Beorn’s Dale deck features 3 Leadership heroes so it can use Lord of Morthond combined with King of Dale to increase card draw.
The deck description is concise and covers the key points of play.
This is a very different Dale deck! My first thought was “why mono-leadership?” King of Dale is the cornerstone of the Dale deck and starting with no Spirit hero makes that card a lot harder to get into play! After looking through the card list carefully and reading the description I think that it’s possible to get that attachment into play fairly quickly in spite of the lack of a Spirit icon at the beginning of the game.
Once you get some resource generation in place and Lord of Morthond and King of Dale down, you should be able to have awesome planning phases almost every turn! I’m eager to give it a try. It looks a little clunky on paper, but I think it will come together!
Test 1 – Passage Through Mirkwood
I got a good start with a turn 1 Lord of Morthond on Denethor and Galadriel grabbing King of Dale into play on turn 1! From then on I was getting an extra card per turn with Lord of Morthond, but with only 1 attachment on Bard, I wasn’t getting a lot of cost reduction for my allies. I had several other attachments but they targeted my other heroes: Celebrian Stone is best on Aragorn but in retrospect it would have been better on Bard, and I couldn’t put Rod of the Steward on anyone but Denethor.
I beat the quest but got knocked around a little with a nasty Hummerhorn shadow effect that killed Denethor after he was damaged from a defense. If I had got Steward of Gondor out earlier, things would have moved much faster.
Test 2 – Intruders in Chetwood
I tried this one 3 times but I didn’t get setup fast enough to start taking enemies before my threat level was out of control. It didn’t help that I kept drawing Outlying Homestead…
I had a couple good starts where I drew Lord of Morthond and Steward of Gondor right away, but if I didn’t draw the Celebrian Stone, I wasn’t able to get King of Dale down and I was stuck with several cards in my hand that I couldn’t play and a good pile of resources on Bard that weren’t doing anything until I unlocked that King of Dale.
Test 3 – Across the Ettenmoors
I always enjoy this quest! The deck did well! Galadriel is extremely helpful in this deck. She’s a great card to draw in your opening hand since you can easily play her with Denethor’s resources and still have some cash to play another card or two on turn 1.
I was able to draw through most of my deck in the 9 turns before I beat this quest. By the last turn I had the No Rest condition attachment attached to all 3 heroes and my allies were carrying the entire load!
The cards came up in a better order in this game, but I always had a few cards in my hand that I couldn’t play. Raiment of War is a great attachment for the Redwater Sentry, but with only 1 copy of Song of Battle in the deck, I have yet to actually have the chance to get the Raiment into play!
That said, the deck really started to hum here. I got a huge army of allies out! I found myself a little short on attachments to give them, but I was able to power through anyway! I miss the Bow and Map that most Dale deck include.
Test 4 – Escape from Umbar
This was a good game! I got a good pile of attachments on Bard fairly quickly and was able to start using all the key attachments within the first few turns. My opening encounter card was Enfeebled which didn’t do anything on the first turn which gave me room to really get moving.
Between Sword that Was Broken and Bard’s willpower boost, these Dale allies are questing for really solid numbers! I quested for 24 with 6 characters on the last turn. Once you get that Lord of Morthond/King of Dale combo going, your can build up fairly quickly, but if you don’t get one of those pieces in the first couple turns it can be a tough game!
Mono Leadership is a bold choice for a Dale deck. It provides excellent resource acceleration and strong willpower buffs, but it can also slow the deck down since you are relying on a couple attachments to give you access to a good portion of your deck. 20 of the 50 cards in the deck locked out of play until you get another resource icon into play via one of your songs, Celebrian Stone or King of Dale. It’s a cool combo, but if the cards don’t come up, it can hurt.
This deck is trying to do a lot of things. It needs to smooth resources, accelerate resource production, draw cards quickly, and boost willpower to be successful. None of these goals are particularly hard for the deck, but it kind of needs to do all of them to really be successful and that’s the challenge!
The hero lineup is strong and starts you at a reasonable threat level which isn’t always easy for Leadership. Denethor’s extra resources are really helpful in this deck and Aragorn can provides some action advantage in the early game before you get your allies into play.
Playing ally Galadriel and Necklace of Girion in the same deck brought up some rules questions… Can she give you the necklace for free bypassing the Guarded keyword? My instincts say yes and that would be a fantastic combo if that’s true!
This deck has very strong card draw for a mono-leadership deck. Between Bard’s ability, and Lord of Morthond you’ll be drawing 3 cards per turn once you’re set up. In the good games I was getting down to 10-15 cards in the my deck by turn 9 or so.
Of all the allies I might name the Long Lake Trader as the most expendable. Most Dale decks have a more “specialized” attachments, but without the Bow and Map, I found the attachments that I played were either impossible to attach to the “wrong character” (Raiment of War or the unique attachments) or they weren’t as crucial to get on a specific character (Squire’s Helm or Spare Hood and Cloak). And since I had to use King of Dale to get him into play, I ended up keeping him in my hand so I could play one of the Warriors or Lookouts instead. I would say the same thing about the Raiment of War. Its really good on both the Sentry and Warrior of Dale, but it’s so difficult to get into play that I found it was sitting in my hand most of the game. I wish there was a leadership weapon that I could give that Warrior of Dale!
Running 3 Leadership heroes for a Dale deck has some real benefits and drawbacks. Are the drawbacks worth the penalties? When this deck gets going it’s great but it has enough really important pieces that it won’t always come together right away. It’s built well so you have plenty of resources smoothing cards, but no one of those cards is going to solve all your sphere issues: Celebrian Stone and Song of Travel will help with Spirit so you have 4 chances to get a match for King Dale in addition to Galadriel’s ability to get it into play for free. Tactics is a little harder with only 1 copy of Song of Battle in the deck and you’re relying on King of Dale alone to get those Lore allies into play. If you get your key attachments in place early, you’ll have a good game, but if you don’t see a couple of them right away, you might find yourself with a hand full of good cards that you can’t play. It can pay off, but it is a risky strategy to build a deck around.
I might lean towards bringing A Good Harvest in from the sideboard. With resources building up from Steward of Gondor, you could play out a lot of Spirit cards in one turn using the Good Harvest and it could potentially get you over that “hump” so you can start playing all the cards that come into your hand.
One of the main factors that encourages the mono Leadership hero lineup here is Lord of Morthond. While this card is excellent and card get a really card draw train going, I’m not sure it’s the most efficient way for a Dale deck to draw cards. It gives you that resources smoothing challenge along with the chance you may not find it in the first few turns or even get any benefit out of it if you do find it until you find a good way to get those off sphere allies into play. It could be argued that it’s faster and more reliable to just include a Spirit and/or Lore hero. The resource smoothing has it’s own difficulties in a trip-sphere deck, but at least you know you can save and spend to get those cards into play rather than just hoping you draw into that King of Dale or Galadriel to open up some of those cards
The reality of it is that a 2-cost card slike Gleowin can provide nearly the same benefit as Lord of Morthond without some of the drawbacks that you might get with a mono-leadership hero lineup..
A copy or two of ally Erestor might be a solid choice for this deck since you have several key unique cards that you won’t be happy to see in the mid/late game after you have the first copy in play
The deck is fun and enjoyable to play and has plenty of decision points to make it interesting. Bringing in Lore through Berabor or even Bilbo might be just as good for providing some additional card draw and resource smoothing, but this deck features a unique approach to the Dale deck that will be interesting and fun to pilot as long as your sphere smoothing cooperates. The power level is right in the middle of the road and you’ll be able to beat a good number of quests but it may not move fast and reliably enough to beat the hardest of them.
Thanks to Beorn for creating and sharing a unique Dale deck that comes to the table with a whole new set of tricks for this archetype. Check it out on RingsDB right here. Give it a play and let him know what you think!