The Dunedain archetype is fascinating and can churn out some impressive results in the late game, but it certainly isn’t one of the most popular deck styles and they seem to be best in multiplayer. As a solo deck style they seem to have willpower issues for the first half of the game which usually makes at least half of the current quest pool out of reach for the Dunedain. This Dunedain deck was built and submitted for testing by Rimogard.
The last few Dunedain decks I’ve played are tri or even quad sphere but this one simplifies down to 2 spheres with really only a splash of Lore and a couple Feints.
It’s worth noting that this deck doesn’t include Steward of Gondor which is usually a Dunedain crutch, but it does have some resource acceleration through Legacy of Numenor, Rune-Master and possibly even Amarthiul’s ability if you keep a couple enemies engaged.
Dunedain decks typically include some traps to capitalize on their boosts from engaged enemies but this deck doesn’t include any so I don’t see this as a deck that aims to engage and lock down 5-6 enemies. It looks like 1-2 enemies at a time will be ideal. Looking over the card list it looks like the Guardian of Arnor is the only card that actually scales by the number of enemies engaged (along with Amarthiul).
Leadership’s Achilles’ Heel seems to be card draw and even with that splash of Lore, I anticipate this deck to be a bit starved for cards by the mid game. The Dunedain Pipe will keep cards cycling so you have something useful to play, but Gandalf if the only real card advantage effect in the deck.
Test 1 – Passage Through Mirkwood
This is a nice quest for the Dunedain since some of the enemies are pretty easy to keep engaged.
This was a solid win. As usual, the first few turns were a struggle to to keep up with the threat in the staging area but I finally had a breakthrough at turn 6 after a Sneaky Gandalf card burst on turn 5.
The shadow cards were mostly blank which was very helpful because there can be a lot of attachment hate in the shadow effects which could have hurt. That Destrier gave me some nice peace of mind and action advantage. There’s two Destriers in the deck and with no traps or shadow cancellation, it’s a really valuable card in the deck (possibly worth 3x).
Card draw was low. With Aragorn’s threat reduction around, Deep Knowledge might be a good choice, even at the cost of removing Legacy of Numenor.
I finished the quest on turn 9 at 46 threat (never reset with Aragorn), 30 cards left in my deck and a peak of 19 willpower for the last turn. I got 2 of the Rangers of the North into the encounter deck, one of which came up at an opportune time (he cleared a Necromancer’s Pass) and one of which came up as a shadow card.
Test 2 – The Seventh Level
This quest got it’s swarming combos going and I was overwhelmed! My first attempt I got nailed by a Troll too soon and had no way to recover. My second attempt got crazy and I got massacred by 8 engaged enemies on turn 8.
Test 3 – Across the Ettenmoors
This took 3 attempts but I made it! High starting threat and limited healing make this a tough quest for this deck. I had pretty bad luck with shadow cards which eventually discarded two Safe locations I was prepared to travel to.
I’ve learned to mulligan for Sword that was Broken above anything else. You need the willpower otherwise you’ll be desperately questing with everyone and failing during the combat phase as well.
I got all 3 Rangers of the North into the encounter deck and I controlled all of them by the end of the game! I think that’s a record for me.
Test 4 – Treachery of Rhudaur
This quest pushes a deck to get willpower numbers moving right out of the gate and it was a tough one for this deck. I wasn’t able to complete any of the opening 3 sidequests and I threw in the towel after Aragorn died to a direct damage treachery.
I know I broke the unique rule by using the Objective version of Amarthiul alongside hero Amarthiul. It happens.
Dunedain solo builds are hard! This is a fairly straightforward Dunedain deck, but it has some of the standard weak spots with low starting willpower being the main one. I’m thinking that solo Dunedain deck builds really need to include a high willpower hero, even if that hero is outside the Dunedain trait. The Dunedain can do lots of cool things, but they never get the chance to show off their tricks if they can’t quest. This deck has decent willpower if you draw The Sword that Was Broken. It’s always a little dangerous to have a deck that relies on a single card to function, but it’s possible if you have enough card draw. This deck would probably need more card draw to be viable against most quests as a solo deck. Gandalf can draw you cards, but the other card draw effects in the deck don’t provide card advantage, only card cycling.
Running primarily Leadership with only a splash of Lore and Tactics makes this deck simple to pilot (unlike most Dunedain decks), but it also limits it in several areas. You won’t have access to Spirit cards like your questing Warden of Annuminas, Treachery and Shadow canceling cards and cheaper high willpower allies.
While filled with Dunedain cards, this deck doesn’t really look to engage tons of enemies like many Dunedain decks might do. This deck does best when engaged with 2 enemies and beyond that, you aren’t getting many real benefits for more engaged enemies. With no traps in the deck, you’re relying on your defenders or temporary blocking effects like Feint and Andrath Guardsmen to keep enemies from attacking.
Traps might be worthwhile including but I’m not sure you’d have to go that direction. Without the card draw reward and cost reduction of Damrod, I’m not convinced it would be necessary. If anything I might add some Entangling Nets so you tone down an enemy or two so you can keep it engaged. Forest Snare would bring up the resource curve by a lot, although the deck is certainly light on Lore cards…
Instead of going through the deck and analyzing each card choice I cloned the deck and made did a couple rounds of modification and testing and this is what I came up with:
I tried to stay true to the character of the deck while just adding cards to help the deck do what it wants to do faster.
I think the key is faster card draw so I included Deep Knowledge, Gleowine and Heed the Dream. The hope is that you can find that Sword to boost willpower and start getting combos like Sneak Attack/Gandalf happening faster so you get a foothold before the quest gets out of control. Heed the Dream could be particularly since you have a nice resource setup to trigger the second effect. I removed Daeron’s Runes not because it isn’t good, but because I was trying to get more card advantage into the deck. You could put it back into the deck and run 53 cards with no harm to the deck at all.
I swapped out the Legacy of Numenor resource acceleration for the overused but reliable Steward of Gondor. I love it when a deck can work great without Steward, but I don’t think the Dunedain are really at the point where they can afford to build thematically, be viable as a solo deck against a wide variety of quests and leave Steward in the binder.
It took two attempts, but I was able to beat Treachery of Rhudaur with this iteration of the deck. It’s amazing how card draw effects snowball. If you can draw 3 cards with Gandalf, you’re likely to draw a Deep Knowledge or Heed the Dream so you can keep that momentum going. Just the extra card every turn from Gleowine is huge as well.
I think Dunedain is still a second tier deck type and its weaknesses are most glaring in solo games. Maybe that mythical Spirit Aragorn will provide a way to get Dunedain questing faster!
I think the basic concept of this deck is functional as a solo deck, especially since it doesn’t rely on several engaged enemies to power up. Its major weakness is relying on Sword that Was Broken with few ways of finding that card if it doesn’t show up in your opening hand.
With some accelerated card draw, this style of deck should be competitive against a good portion of our current quests. The Dunedain still won’t have the speed needed to beat quests with aggressive time counters or races like Flight of the Stormcaller or Race Across Harad, but this deck should have a chance against most of the “standard” quests.
I say this a lot on this blog, but card draw is important! My friend Mr Underhill has a rule of including 9 cards in the deck to help you draw cards and I find that really helpful. It doesn’t matter what you have in your deck if you don’t draw the cards! I like playing a card game with cards in my hand so I have options! It’s a helpless feeling to see that encounter deck spit more cards into the staging area while you have an empty hand and can only hope you draw the right card off the top of your deck.
I’d love to try some more Dunedain decks so if you have a favorite, send it my way!