This two-hero deck was created and sent to me by my friend Mattastrophic. Mattastrophic is a friend of mine and we played through an entire campaign together in Portland before he moved out of country (and I still haven’t forgiven him for leaving!).
The theme is strong with this deck! Two hero decks are hard but this combo is one of the best! We have the royal couple accompanied by Gandalf, Glorfindel, a healer and some bouncy Dunedain allies.
Most cards have the full 3x, but I don’t see a lot for card draw acceleration. Without much card draw or resource acceleration beyond Arwen’s ability along with Elven-Light, it might ramp up a little slow. Let’s give it a try!
Test 1 – Passage Through Mirkwood
I had a perfect opening hand with both of the key early game attachments. Things went well until I was swarmed with too many low engagement level enemies.
My second attempt was successful and it was a fun game. I got two Rangers in with Elf Stone which really helped my early game combat capabilities. I had to use a Tale of Tinuviel once to clear that Elf Stone location so I didn’t get location locked. That’s such a flexible event! I usually aim to use it during the combat phase, but getting that extra willpower to avoid location lock or get that crucial ally is worth a lot.
By the end I was able to quest for 9 without exhausting any characters (which is a excellent thing when passing through Mirkwood).
I got Gandalf out around turn 7 and completed the quest on turn 10.
Test 2 – Into the Pit
I lost the first game again before I could get past that East Gate. The staging area filled with enemies I couldn’t engage and I was locked out.
My second attempt was another good game. It’s kind of amazing what just 4 characters can do with a few key attachments. With LoV on Arwen, Unexpected Courage/Burning Brand/Strider on Aragorn and Gandalf on the table, you can quest for 11 every turn without exhausting anyone, then defend safely and hit back hard. Ioreth and Lembas are pretty crucial for healing since Aragorn only has 2 defense, but once you get that Burning Brand down, you can math out your combat phase pretty easily. I never had so many resources that I used Blood of Gondor, but I could see where it could be useful if the game when on a little longer. This felt like a longer game but it ended on turn 11 which isn’t crazy long (especially for this style of deck).
I got Gandalf down fairly early which was very helpful, and I used Aragorn’s threat reset around halfway through the quest. I ended the quest on turn 11 with 33 threat and only 20 cards left in my deck. That Elven-Light did a lot of work!
Test 3 – Race to the Ford
I’m not a big fan of PJ’s choice to replace Glorfindel with Arwen in the Lord of the Rings movies, but I couldn’t resist playing this quest with this deck. Unfortunately Glorfindel didn’t make it into play in this play.
This was a fun game! I was able to win on turn 8 with 7 health left on Frodo and without ever resetting my threat. Desperate Defense was the MVP card here. Combined with Burning Brand and Protector of Lorien, I could be sure it would trigger the readying effect as well so I could get full value from the card. Lore Aragorn is a champ!
The last turn I came up 1 progress short of completing the 15 needed progress but Protector of Lorien got me all the way there. I had a Nazgul engaged so I couldn’t win until I killed him (or got another 15 progress down). I defended with Desperate Defense, used Protector again to trigger the ready, then I came up 1 attack short of killing the enemy. I was able to get that +1 attack on Gandalf by using Narya to ready himself and get that last point of damage down on the Fell Rider!
Test 4 – Desert Crossing
I knew this would be challenging with the intense amount of direct damage the quest throws at you combined with the time constraints the Temperature mechanic puts on you. I got really close but ended up losing to the temperature reaching the game-ending 60. Stage 2 was pretty tough with 2-4 direct damage coming down on me every turn but I made it through to the last stage before a worm’s shadow card boosted it two 10 attack and killed Gandalf. At that point I couldn’t muster the necessary willpower to escape the last stage before the end of the game. It was an intense game!
Tips on Playing the Deck
I certainly can’t pick up on every combo and card interaction with a few plays but here’s a few tips I picked up on while working with the deck.
- Look for Strider as your first priority, then Elven-Light, then Light of Valinor in your opening hand. If you can quest for 7 on the first turn without exhausting either hero, you have a good chance of getting through those first few turns which can be really challenging for 2-hero decks. Getting an Elf-Stone/ally combo in your opening hand is really strong as well, but only if you have the willpower to quest over the location.
- Daeron’s Runes is awesome here. The obvious combo is drawing 2 cards, then discarding an Elven-Light (or a Glorfindel).
- Resources will be tight so don’t be shy discarding duplicates of uniques you have in play to Arwen’s ability. You won’t be able to play that Elven-Light from your discard pile every turn. That balance is key.
- Get Gandalf out ASAP. The threat builds up fast but you can shave off several turns and really gain control of the board by having him out there. He’s worth the threat, even early game. Try for a Elf-Stone, but if you don’t get one, he’s worth paying the full 5 resources for.
- Narya is a weird card here but it’s solid. You can turn Gandalf into a 5/5 and a Ranger of Cardolan into a 3/3 which gives you a really solid combat phase. It’s kind of janky to have Gandalf ready himself, but it works!
- The choice of when to sneak in a Ranger of Cardolan with his 1 resource ability or when to “permanently” play him can be difficult. If you haven’t drawn Gandalf yet, he can be worth playing for his full cost. Watch your character count since Strider’s second ability will turn off if you have 6 characters. You can always make the ranger jump in for combat phase, then shuffle him away again so Aragorn can continue to quest without exhausting.
This is a challenging style of deck to build but this works fairly well. I think it would be better as a multiplayer deck just because a two hero-deck is incredibly fragile on the first couple turns and it can be locked up pretty fast if you draw the wrong card from the encounter deck on turn one.
Looking over the list I’m having a hard time coming up with many ideas for valuable criticism or substitutes. The only card I never used in my games was Blood of Gondor but it could be helpful for boss enemies that would cut all the way through Aragorn’s hitpoints. Even so, I’d say it’s the first card that could be replaced if you had a different card you’d rather run.
I would say Strider is the single most important card here and it’s worth having a better chance at finding it faster. We have Elven-Light, Daeron’s Runes and Dunedain Pipe to dig for it but it could still take a while to actually find it if the Valar don’t favor you. All that to say I think Heed the Dream might be worthwhile. It could get fetch those crucial cards a lot faster for a relatively low cost. It would be awesome in the early game when you’re trying to get those key pieces, but there are enough 1x and 2x cards in the deck to make it worth it later in the game as well. Another option for card advantage would be Deep Knowledge. With Aragorn’s huge threat drop, you could probably afford a couple extra threat to help you work through the deck faster.
I assumed Elrond’s Counsel would be here in the deck, but I think it’s OK without it. Hopefully you have a decent board state by the time you reach 30 threat and have to start facing the bigger enemies anyway and then you can use Aragorn to move your threat way back down to 21 when you’re ready. Both Tale of Tinuviel and Heirs of Earendil are excellent here.
The Magic Ring was a lifesaver once for me just for that extra healing when I had direct damage going all over the place. It’s not overpowered but it’s nicely suited for this deck since you’re already playing with threat and action economy. resources and healing all have to be carefully managed in this kind of deck. Lembas really functions in a similar way to Magic Ring here but it’s just a single use card with a lower cost. Lembas becomes a really valuable and safe card to use once you have Burning Brand down since you can accurately anticipate how much damage you can afford to take.
This deck outperformed my expectations! Two-hero decks certainly have their disadvantages and can be fragile in the early game, but this one can really hold its own. That ability to quest for 11 with no characters exhausted is pretty great! This isn’t a “one deck to rule them all” but if you’re looking for something different and want to experiment with two heroes, you won’t go wrong here! It’s not invincible, but it’s very solid as far as two-hero decks go!
I recommend it! You can find the deck here on RingsDB. Go check it out, give it a like and play some games with it! Thanks to my friend Mattastrophic for creating a fun deck and sending it my way!