This deck was built by MockTurtle36 who is one of my local friends in Portland. We’ve been playing LOTR together once a week for a couple years now and he’s mentioned this deck to me a few times as one of his first powerful and reliable decks he built when he was seriously getting into the game.
This is a solo deck that only includes attachments. No allies or events, just attachments!
It looks weird! Bilbo doesn’t have a reputations for being a “power hero,” but here he is right alongside Aragorn and Glorfindel, some of the strongest heroes in the game.
The first things I notice (beyond the obvious lack of allies and events) are 54 cards in the deck and a fairly low “willpower cap.” The heroes start with a solid 6 willpower between them, but with no allies to back them, I can imagine it being difficult to overcome some of the more aggressive encounter decks with higher threat cards. There are obviously ways to increase willpower output, but it won’t reach Outlands level numbers.
Test 1 – The Seventh Level – Success
My first experience with the deck was good! I took down this quest fairly quickly and easily. The Burning Brand on Aragorn really slowed down the encounter deck since the Goblins couldn’t spawn off shadow cards.
I won on turn 11 with complete control of the board. I even took down on of the big trolls! The deck takes some concentration to play! You’re drawing so many cards and there’s so many attachments to keep track of!
Test 2 – Passage Through Mirkwood -Success
I lost a couple times in a row but only because I forgot to draw that extra card from Bilbo’s effect the entire time! That kind of makes a big difference… I played it again correctly and beat it without trouble. Knowing what’s in your encounter deck is really important for this deck. Even with Bilbo and Spirit Glorfindel, the deck doesn’t start with terribly low threat. If you get a second enemy on turn two that you’re forced to engage, it will be a tough quest.
Test 3 – Breaking of the Fellowship – Success
This quest isn’t as demanding as a solo quest as it is in a 3-4 player game, but it’s still no stroll in Mirkwood! I got Aragorn boosted up with 13 attachments. This is the most impressed I’ve ever been with Protector of Lorien! You can boost your questing numbers to just the perfect amount.
Those Expert Treasure Hunter attachments empty the deck pretty fast. By the time I got the last Treasure Hunter attachment down I was drawing 5 cards every single turn. Healing was a bit of a challenge with all the archery this quest tends to throw at you, but Lembas and Athelas did enough to keep me going.
Test 4 – Escape from Umbar
This was hard but I made it. Getting the progress down on turn 1 and the constant archery damage were the main challenges. I piled the most attachments on Aragorn again but Glorfindel got his fair share as well. In Enemy Territory hit me hard and forced me to discard a lot of cards which slowed me down in the middle game, but I made it through, even defeating the Champion. It was a longer game at 15 turns, but I didn’t even have to use Aragorn’s threat reset.
Test 5 – The Steward’s Fear – Loss
This was a close game and a bitter defeat. I got all the way the last stage, killed the villian, but a got location locked after my deck ran out of cards and I couldn’t pitch cards to Protector of Lorien. The plot was revealing an additional card every turn which is always a challenge for solo, but once my deck ran out, I couldn’t get my willpower to overcome the building threat in the staging area and Asfaloth couldn’t clear locations fast enough. I felt like I should have won, but this tells me that adding a Will of the West for longer games might be smart. In fact, adding the full 3x might be smart because you’ll have to discard it if you draw it from Expert Treasure Hunter.
This deck is remarkably well-rounded considering its unconventional deck style. I threw it up against a wide variety of quests with good success. Bilbo is a rarely used hero, but here he powers the core of this deck. He gets cards into your hand from turn 1 and he can even be a decent defender if called upon! I still wish they would increase his willpower or decrease his threat cost by a couple points, but even as he is, he’s found a good home in this deck with Strider. Threat levels weren’t a big deal in my test games. I think I only used Aragorn’s reset in one of my games!
For being such an odd deck design, this deck is really flexible. While it could show weakness against quests that push really hard on one element of the game, it basically has all the areas of the game covered in one way or another. Potential weaknesses include a willpower cap, slow resources generation and lack of treachery cancellation. I noticed that a good portion of treacheries didn’t hit as hard when you don’t have a table of allies for the encounter deck to target.
I’m not going to suggest any major changes to the deck, but I will mention a couple cards that couple be subbed in for some variety.
As mentioned previously, a couple copies of Will of the West might be appropriate for longer games.
A copy or of Miruvor might be intriguing. I found myself with extra Spirit resources from time to time and having Miruvor available for an extra readying action, or just a transfer of a resource from Spirit to Lore might be useful. If you kept it around you could even keep recycling it for its readying effect after you deck is empty.
Elven-Light could be an interesting card here as well. You’d have to discard it if you drew it off Expert Treasure Hunter, but you could draw even more cards off it with your excess Spirit resources. I wouldn’t add more than one, but it could be potentially useful.
Both the new guarded artifacts could be helpful here. Willpower and resource generation both tend to be a little slim and both the Arkenstone and Necklace of Girion could help.
All these cards I mentioned would probably be 1x cards, but they might be fun and useful!
You could also change up the structure of the deck by including some more card draw events and cutting the Expert Treasure Hunter. That way you could include some of those strong events in the sideboard.
This is a fascinating deck that breaks normal deckbuilding rules (one of those rules is “Don’t play Bilbo!”), but it’s still strong, flexible and fun to play!
As the deck title suggests, this is going to be best as a solo deck since Bilbo’s draw is diluted with more players at the table, but I bet it could function at 80% efficiency in a two-player game.
I highly recommend this deck! If you’ve found yourself in a rut and want to play something out of the ordinary, this will give you some wins against a wide variety and might open up new ideas for your own deckbuilding. Give it a try!
Thanks to my friend MockTurtle36 for sharing the deck and letting me look at it!
If you haven’t seen his animated work, you should check out his ToonWaffle YouTube channel. He has a couple LOTR themed animated videos and a bunch of entertaining short videos that my kids love to watch over and over again!
I’m the nerd on the right…
He even made a video poking fun at my nerdy blog!