I’ve played a good number of different Dale decks at this point and defense is one of the things the deck usually struggles with in the early game so Beregond seems like a good choice to cover that early game weakness.
Some of the Dale combos are becoming fairly standard at this point, but the deck description is concise and worth a read.
I’ve been playing Spirit Beregond a lot over the past few weeks in a couple of my own decks and I’ve come to appreciate his value. He provides immediate solid defense for a deck while also giving you access to valuable Spirit cards. Having early access to 2 Spirit resources is extremely useful in a Dale deck so you can play King of Dale as soon as possible.
The ratio of allies, attachments and events seems fairly close to some of the other Dale decks I’ve played with around 20 allies, a few more than 20 attachments and a sprinkling of events.
King of Dale is a key piece of nearly all Dale decks and it looks crucial here. With only 2 spheres represented in the hero lineup and no other resource smoothing, you will likely struggle if you don’t get that Title attachment down within the first few rounds. Considering the essential nature of the attachment here I think a little more card draw might be worthwhile.
I’m going to run this deck through the same 3 quest testing regime that I used while testing the initial “batch” of Dale decks in one of my last posts and then see where it takes me from there.
Test 1 – Passage Through Mirkwood – Win
I didn’t find King of Dale in either opening hand and didn’t actually draw it until turn 6 but I was able to get along anyway. I drew Ungoliant’s Spawn on turn 3 and had to tank it with Beregond for half the game before I could kill it off at the last stage (Beorn’s Path). Speaking of Beregond, he never took a damage the entire game! He lowered my threat every single round!
In spite of not drawing King of Dale I ended up with more allies in play than I had attachments but by the end I had most of my characters equipped with something.
I won on turn 9 with a threat level of 31 and with 22 cards left in my deck.
Test 2 – Escape from Umbar – Win
This was a solid win. The quest didn’t combo on me (I only saw one Southron Archer the whole game) and everything went great!I had King of Dale in my opening hand. With a Dunedain Remedy and King of Dale on Bard on turn 1 I was able to start getting allies into play right away.
The Knight of Dale worked really well in this game. He’s expensive but being able to quest for 2 or 3 and have the option of readying for the combat phase if needed is really helpful. Flexibility is always good! I was also able to slide a Hauberk onto him from a Sentry with the Trader, then play another armor attachment on the Sentry with a discount.
My hand was never really full of that many cards so I didn’t have many options during the planning phase, but the cards I had in hand were always helpful (barring duplicate copies of KoD).
Test 3 – The Three Trials – Loss
While I had a fantastic first turn and good early game, I stalled midway through the game with no way to get more cards into my hand.
I was able to get through the Trials of Intuition and Perseverance alright, but the encounter deck kept picking off my allies and by the time I was facing the Trial of Strength, I was “top-decking” and couldn’t regain my momentum. The Wolf Guardian eventually wore Beregond down and I had to concede. I had plenty of resources in play, but I just needed more cards to come out of my deck!
Test 4 – Into the Pit – Win
My card draw cooperated a little better this time and I had a good game! I had to raise my threat by several points a couple times in the early game to avoid location lock with Zigil Mineshafts so my threat was tight! Beregond’s ability helped, but I still ended at 49 threat (after a Signs of Conflict surged into a Signs of Conflict in one of the last turns).
I got through half the deck in 10 turns but I still wished for more draw. I was stuck with both copies of Sneak Attack in my hand, but never drew one of the two Gandalfs.
Test 5 – Siege of Annuminas – Win
Rimogard mentioned that he beat this quest with this deck so I tried it and won! It was a marathon game of 17 turns, but the deck was well-suited to the quest and I got good draws from the encounter deck and my player deck. I drew both Gandalfs and both Sneak Attacks fairly early and used them all to draw cards which gave me a lot more options. Beregond’s defensive prowess was awesome and his threat reduction was crucial for a long game like this.
I revealed some fairly harmless treacheries in the first couple turns which let me get lots of progress on stage one and bolster Annuminas’s defenses.
I hadn’t played this scenario for a long time and this was a good experience!
The third hero is one of the biggest decisions in a Dale deck. Beregond is really solid here. Dale is really weak in the defense department until you get a Redwater Sentry equipped so having Beregond on the table on turn 1 really helps your early game. That second Spirit hero lets you play King of Dale and your other Spirit cards faster, but the lack of access to Lore hurts a little as well. I would certainly count Beregond as a stronger choice than Lanwyn at this point. Using Beregond might reduce early game willpower since you’ll never quest with him, but his threat reduction and tanky nature will give you several more turns in a normal game which compensates.
My main trouble playing these games was getting cards into my hand. It needs more draw! The Dale cards are only strong when combined and it can be frustrating to have a Sentry or Lookout in play knowing they could contribute so much to the game if you could just draw an attachment for them (or vice-versa).
Brand Son of Bain provides essential card draw, but he’s not enough to power the whole deck. The only other card draw in this deck is from Gandalf. It’s huge when you get those three cards and it usually gives you a breakthrough in the quest. As such, I would highly recommend running the full 3x of Gandalf and Sneak Attack. I consider accelerated card draw just as important (or more important) as King of Dale for decks like this. Options for card draw in Spirit and Leadership aren’t easy, but I think it needs more. Ancient Mathom doesn’t contribute anything to the theme of this deck, but adding 3 of them along with the full three copies of Sneak Attack and Gandalf would bring your number of card draw opportunities up from 4 to 9 which could help immensely. I know Sneaky Gandalf can be a “tired combo” for players who have used it for a long time, but I consider it a facilitator. It lets you play other fun cards and makes decks work! No shame in Sneaky Gandalf.
This deck runs more Dale allies than most that I’ve tested. The Big Three Dale allies (Sentry, Lookout, Warrior) are still the strongest in my opinion so I’m glad to see 3 copies of both the Lookout and Sentry. With the other allies included in the deck and no access to Tactics I think the 2x for the Warrior of Dale is a fine choice. I enjoyed using the Knight of Dale more than I expected to. If you can get him into play for 2 instead of 4, he really provides good value. He can quest for 3 (provided he has an attachment) and then be available to help in the combat phase if needed. I wish he had another point of defense, but he can at least attack for 3 if he has a Raiment of War. I’m eager to get some weapons for allies in this cycle! It would help him a lot!
The Rhovanion Outrider is a nice bit of location control or attack as necessary. I wish I could get some action advantage out him… Once you get two of them out, you can burn through locations in the staging area fairly quickly. If you can get a Map of Rhovanion on him, you’re throwing progress all over the place: he can quest for 3, drop a progress on the active location and a location in the staging area which brings his effective willpower contribution up to 5!
I wish there was room for a third copy of the Long Lake Trader to keep all the allies optimized. I know deck space is tight, but I wanted him so many times in my games but he just didn’t come up. With increased card draw, 2 copies is probably enough.
Dale decks are all about attachments and we have 23 here in this deck.
I consider the King of Dale, Hauberk of Mail, Bow of Yew and even the Map of Rhovanion as solid “auto-includes” for this deck type. This deck includes the largest armory I’ve ever seen in a deck! 3 Gondorian Shields, 3 Raiment of War, 3 Hauberks, 3 Bows and even 2 Open the Armory! That’s nearly a third of the deck devoted to weapons and armor. In my opinion there’s enough weapon and armor cards in the deck that you don’t really need to run the Open the Armory event. I think swapping it for Ancient Mathom would be an advantage in the long run. Odds are you’ll draw a weapon or armor in those 3 cards anyway!
It seems a shame to devote 3 card slots to the Gondorian Shield since you’ll really only play 1 in a game, but it may be worth it just to get Beregond to that 6 defense as soon as possible. I guess you could keep a copy or two of Open the Armory and cut a copy or two of Gondorian Shield so you don’t have to draw useless duplicates. The other positive for keeping three is that you are able to discard a shield to that annoying “discard an attachment you control” shadow effect knowing you can play another from your hand next turn and your board state won’t suffer.
Spare Hood and Cloak has seen a revival with the advent of the Dale deck, but I remain unconvinced. I think I used it’s effect twice in my games but I haven’t been able to set up a repeatable and useful cycle with the cloak. I personally think it’s a bit of a trap: best case scenario you’re attaching it to the North Realm Lookout and readying another ally or hero during the combat phase, but then you need the Long Lake Trader to move it back. It just seems to cumbersome to warrant the 3 card slots. It does have value as a 0-cost attachment that you can play right away to make King of Dale better, but I still don’t care for it. Maybe that’s my contrarian streak coming out because everyone else seems excited about this card in the Dale deck! Maybe I’m missing something but it would be one of the other cards I’d cut to make room for Gandalf/Sneak Attack/Ancient Mathom.
Unexpected Courage is a nice one-of for Beregond. There’s a lot of strong defense in the deck already, but you can’t complain about a 4-7 defense hero with a readying effect! I found it very helpful in Siege of Annuminas and it would have been really helpful in The Three Trials if I had got that far.
The Celebrian Stone and Dunedain Remedy are useful enough when they come up to warrant inclusion. Dale lacks healing and could probably use a Warden of Healing to be safest, but the Remedy lets you put archery and other direct damage on your heroes so you don’t lose your allies so fast.
These are all good events. As I said before, Open the Armory might be too much of a good thing and Sneak Attack’s potential to draw you 3 cards makes it worth 3x in my opinion. Both Test of Will and Traffic From Dale are excellent cards as well. You might want to bump Test of Will up to 3 if the treacheries are particularly nasty, but Dale can survive enough of those bad treacheries that 2 is probably OK in most cases (if you’re drawing enough cards!).
This is the most warlike Dale deck I’ve played so far! It has plenty of beefy allies and weapons and armor for everyone! Beregond gives the deck the ability to jump right into a combat situation and survive long enough to get some of those great allies into play.
I think Dale decks need serious card draw to work optimally and that’s what I would suggest to make this deck even more efficient. The deck has answers to most of the challenges a quest can throw at you but you need to draw those cards!
I did a few small adjustments to the list and played Annuminas again and it worked well and was a little faster. I drew all but 2 cards in a 12 turn game compared to all but 9 cards in a 17 turn game on the previous play and I had a few more allies out as well.
Here’s my variation with a couple quantity adjustments, Ancient Mathom added and Spare Hood and Cloak and Open the Armory removed:
This is a solid Dale deck that can put up a solid fight in a pitched battle and I give it a thumbs up! If you haven’t played The Siege of Annuminas for a while (or if you’ve been frustrated by it) this is an excellent deck for that particular quest. It has threat stability, strong defense, strong willpower and the ability to knock out tough enemies when it needs to!
Thanks to Rimogard for sending me another solid Dale deck! It was a pleasure to play and I recommend you check it out on RingsDB and consider Spirit Beregond as a solid choice for that third hero slot.