There and Back… and to the Side! by Kelfox

I enjoy a good side quest deck. More often than not I annoy those I’m playing with by side questing too much and too often! The current Ered Mithren cycle has a high ratio of quests that are extremely suitable for side quests but I still haven’t noticed many side quest decks show up on RingsDB lately.

This side quest deck was created and posted to RingsDB by user Kelfox.

there and back list

First Impressions

Low threat and high willpower from the heroes. That’s a perfect start for a side side quest deck. This deck leverages the reduced threat of Glorfindel and Eowyn to start in Secrecy while still having plenty of hero stats on the board on the first turn.

Threat level starts out at 19 so you’ll want to see your Resourcefuls right away if possible or start with Double Back in hand.

Tri-sphere doesn’t bother me and I think it’s the way to go for this kind of deck. I am surprised to not see The Storm Comes in the deck to help smooth out the resource curve.

The deck seems to emphasize willpower and be a little lighter on combat prowess but it has 5 allies that can defend well and a supply of Feints. Defense should be easier if you can clear Keep Watch fairly early.

One of the hard parts of creating a side quest deck is deciding how many side quests to include. This deck is fairly conservative with only Double Back, Keep Watch and Rally the West. It’s unusual to see Gather Information omitted but these three are all strong.

The deck description is helpful but it doesn’t give any advice on which side quest to pull from your deck at the start of the game so I’ll just be choosing that card according the quest I play.

Test 1 – Journey Along the Anduin

A win. I started with Double Back in my hand and I cleared it turn 1. There’s plenty of low engagement enemies and it really helped starting the game at 14 threat! I pulled enemy after enemy off the encounter deck and it was a bit of touch and go for a while while I tried to get control of the Defense situation. Once I got control, I used Eowyn to kill the Hill Troll and then pushed through stage 2 in a couple turns. The last stage took so many turns just because that pesky Warg wouldn’t not stay engaged! I finally Feinted him to kill him after probably 5 turns of trying to kill him while the Goblin Sniper shot at me!

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I found Willpower to be really strong but Defense was the challenge. I didn’t feel like I was drawing that many cards in this playthrough.

I beat the quest on turn 12 with a threat level of 27 and 29 cards left in my deck.

Test 2 – Road to Rivendell

For this quest I started with Keep Watch in play which turned out to be very helpful. I was able to clear Double Back later to get down to Secrecy again and attach 2 Resourcefuls later in the game.

With no Treachery or Shadow cancellation I lost several allies to direct damage but I won fairly quickly anyway! I would usually load up on cancellation for this quest but if you quest through fast enough you can afford to “quest and pray.”

road to rivendell side.JPG

I won on turn 9 with a threat level of 22 and 28 cards left in my deck. I still never saw any Gandalfs!

Test 3 – Roam Across Rhovanion

I won again! High willpower makes everything so much easier.

I got a Resourceful on both Glorfindel and Thurindir on turn 1 along with Light of Valinor on Glorfindel. Defense and card draw were my weakest parts of the game. I took a couple turns at stage 1 since a Hills of Wilderland came up as my initial card and it took me a while to get through (which also meant I couldn’t clear my Keep Watch for a while as well).

I lost my hand of cards in the mid game and never fully recovered a reasonable hand after that.

I hit the last stage on turn 8 or so which seems pretty good. I quested lightly so I could keep Eowyn up to kill both Tiny and Urdug in one turn but a Shadow card returned Urdug to the staging area. All my allies fell to repeated attacks and Urdug bounced back to the staging area again on the following turn. I nearly lost near the end when my threat went up and I had to take another Stone Troll I hadn’t planned on engaging (he also bounced back to the staging area and I was finally able to wack Urdug with a 9 Attack Glorfindel and a 10 Attack Eowyn.

I’m thinking that if this deck is going to be light on Defenders, it might be nice to have some Shadow cancel cards.

roam across rhovanion sidequests.JPG

My board state really went up and down throughout this game. I assembled a good group of allies only to see them all get smashed by Tiny, Urdug and the Stone Troll later in the game.

Test 4 – Lost in Mirwood

This was a really fun and I didn’t have any troubles at all. It took me a couple turns to complete Keep Watch as my first side quests but it served me well for the rest of the game. Side quests are pretty difficult to complete in this quest in a multiplayer game but they’re perfect for a solo game.

One of the challenges in this game was getting enough cards into hand so I could spend my resources to stay safe from the Swarm of Bats! I remembered that treachery halfway through the game and then spent them all on an unnecessary Gandalf etc. I drew two Swarms in a row after that!

I drew the stage 3 that steals a hero and attaches it to an enemy in the staging area. At that point I had completed all 3 side quests so I could fulfill that Forced effect with Thalion. I thought that was entertaining!

caleb is captured

By the end I had built up a nice army of allies and my threat was still at a comfortable 30. I could muster 37 attack to take down the final Nemesis at the end.

lost in mirkwood sidequests.JPG

It took me a solid 12 turns to win but I was in control the entire time and I probably could have progressed faster if I had been able to overcome my turtlish tendencies.

Card Choices

This hero selection is one of the “standard” hero lineups for side quests decks (there are 8 decks on RingsDB with the same 3 heroes) and there’s a good reason for that. That combination of super low threat and really high willpower gets the deck off to a great start. In most cases you can even afford to not quest with Glorfindel for the first couple turns if Light of Valinor doesn’t come up right away.

Allies

allies.JPG

This set of allies worked better than I thought when I first looked at the deck. With only 5 allies (characters) in the whole deck that can really defend, I was afraid defending would be a real challenge. It was a little difficult a few times and I had to chump some unfortunate Silvan Refugees a couple times but overall, it worked.  Defender of Rammas, Treebeard and Thalion were the MVP’s in my games. The questing allies were sometimes unnecessary with the heroes questing for so much! It worked but my instincts would push me to add a couple more combat allies. The Vigilant Dunedain is conspicuously absent from this deck. Most side quest decks are eager to leverage his steadfast defense and capability to always attack back but he’s not here in this deck. It worked without him but I would probably cut a copy of the Refugee and Quickbeam to make room for 2 copies. He’s expensive and without The Storm Comes, he’s going to be harder to get out, but even so, I think he could work well in the deck. Just put a copy of Resourceful on Eowyn early and you could make happen.

More card draw is always good so you could always consider a 1x Gleowine. I wouldn’t be sorry to see him show up.

Attachments

I like this set of attachments. In a multiplayer setting, I think both Asfaloth and The Long Defeat are awesome. The Long Defeat doesn’t see enough play! If used as a solo deck, I think you could afford to cut at least 1 copy of Asfaloth and maybe a Long Defeat to make room for some Ancient Mathom. Card draw is present but it held me back in a couple games and that Mathom could make a big difference.

attachments.JPG

The weapon cards were helpful but I kept messing up and putting two Legacy Blades on Glorfindel then drawing into my Rivendell Blade and feeling bad… I could still play it on an elf ally but I felt kind of silly.

Dunedain Pipe was helpful and I like the 1x combined with Bilbo. I invariably drew the pipe before Bilbo in every game!

Events

Not many events in this deck! 3x Feint and 3x Daeron’s Runes are the only events included here. Test of Will is obviously a card you would want to keep close in your sideboard depending on the quest you intend to play, but I appreciate a deck that can play without it. It forced to constantly think about the treacheries in the deck and try to play around them rather than lean on Test of Will to dodge them.

If I were to add another event Hasty Stroke would probably be my first choice. With fairly few defenders and one of those defenders vulnerable to the infamous “Deal 1 damage to the defending character” shadow card, having some protection would help my peace of mind. The other fun event to help out in the defense department would be Coney in a Trap (after writing that I checked the deck again and that event is in the sideboard!). Having 6 attack cancels would be awesome. The one unique strength of Hasty Stroke is that it can cancel a shadow card on a boss or enemy that’s immune to player cards while Feint and Coney in a Trap can’t stop those big enemies but Treebeard can probably take an attack if you can cancel a shadow effect that would otherwise kill him.

Proud Hunters is another event I like to put in this style of deck but with Resourceful present, it isn’t needed here. Foe Hammer would be kind of nice to add some card draw as well. With 5 weapons in the deck, it would be pretty reliable.

Side Quests

Most side quest decks use Gather Information as the “flagship” side quest but this deck skips it entirely. In solo, I think this is a valid choice but if you plan to use this in a multiplayer setting, I would certainly put it back in. The ability for every deck on the table to grab whichever card is most needed at the beginning of a game is too powerful to ignore.

sidequests.JPG

Most side quest decks also include more side quest cards as well. I think 3 is the minimum you want to put into any “side quest deck” and I kind of wanted more in some of my games. Gather Info would be my first choice for an additional quest card in multiplyaer games but Scout Ahead would be my first choice to add in solo games. In fact, I might choose it as my opening side quest for many games. Reordering 5 cards on turn 1 would really make those first turns easier to control!

Deck space is tight in this kind of deck but I would try to add 1 more side quest. But I know side quests are a weakness of mine and you should take that with a grain of salt… It worked the way it is. With only 3 side quests in the deck and one starting in your opening hand, it might be a long time before you see one of the other quests come into your hand. I would at least add a couple to your sideboard.

The Storm Comes is another quest I like to include in a deck like this but with a fairly low cost curve for your allies, it would add a lot of power here in a solo game. It’s almost always good for multiplayer though, so I would keep it on hand if you’re playing with others.

I used Keep Watch as my opening quest in several of these games. I don’t think I’ve ever done that before but it was pretty helpful. The cost of 1 Tactics resource is a bit of a drawback because that means you won’t be able to play the Defender of Rammas until turn 3. It also has 6 progress needed to complete which makes it much less likely to finish on turn 1, but after playing a few games, I found it was possible and very helpful if I was able to complete it early. I think Double Back would be a fine choice for your starting quest in many games as well. It’s free, low threat is always good, and it only takes 4 progress to complete.

Final Thoughts

This is a fine deck! I didn’t lose any of my test games! I would say it might falter vs quests with a constant rush of enemies as it could run out of defenders but it can cancel some attacks, defend some and chump with cheap allies as a last resort. It worked out for me.

I would consider card draw the only other “weak point” (I know it has Dunedain Pipe and 3x Daeron’s Runes but neither of those cards produce card advantage. Only The Long Defeat really adds cards to your hand and that’s not the strongest option.). I would probably add some combination of Ancient Mathom, Foe-Hammer and Gleowine.

As with all side quest decks, I would keep a sideboard of cards available to change the deck up a little to make it efficient for both solo and multiplayer games.

Thanks to Kelfox for creating and publishing this deck! Go give it a like!

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