The complete set of 7 Guarded attachments are all out now and there’s a variety of opinions on how strong and useful these attachments are and also how appropriate they are in solo games vs multiplayer games. I made a “treasure hunting” deck a while back but that was well before we had all the Guarded attachments. This Treasure Hunting deck was created by RingsDB by Tegyrius and sent to me for some testing.
It’s been a while since I played a Three Hunters deck. The deck will start with plenty of stats on the table and it should be able to face an enemy or two right away. Threat doesn’t start low but Aragorn should keep the deck in the game even through a long quest.
The most notable thing here is the abundance of 1x and 2x cards. There’s a lot of good cards squeezed into this deck but you might not see them all in a given game. In a deck like this I always look for card draw effects and while there aren’t tons, most of them are repeatable which means as long as you find an Elven Light, Gleowine, Glamdring or King Under the Mountain, you should be able to keep up a decent sized hand.
The deck includes 4 guarded attachments plus to copies of The King’s Return to fetch whichever attachment would be most helpful at the moment. We had Glamdring, Ring of Thror, Necklace of Girion and the Mithril Shirt. With all the unique allies in the deck, I expected to see the Arkenstone in here as well, but it seems to be absent.
The description mentions the copy of Faramir is supposed to be the new Lore Ally Faramir recently spoiled in the upcoming deluxe expansion so I will play him that way.
I’m a little concerned about starting willpower. With a combined starting willpower of 5 (6 counting the boost from Legolas) and no way to push that up quickly on the first turn or two, it may struggle to gain a foothold in the early game.
Test 1 – Passage Through Mirkwood – Win
This was a fun game. I had a great moment where I used the Ring of Thor to ready Gimli and it gave me a free Ancestral Armor!
My card draw was slow for the first few turns and without Elven Light in my opening hand, Legolas drained it a little, but once I got cards into my hand, the deck started to really come together.
I didn’t get all 4 Guarded attachments into play but I got a couple before the end of the game.
Test 2 – Into the Pit – Win
This took a while to get going but I got through the entire deck and earned all the Guarded cards! I could have won sooner but I chose to stay at stage 1 longer to earn another card.
I really struggled in the first couple turns to get things moving. Legolas and Gimli are a strange set of heroes to work with. They have some great early game action advantage, but it usually slows your board building a lot in the first couple turns until you draw into and are able to pay for Elven Light and Steward of Gondor. You can get stuck in a cycle of damaging your board state to keep alive.
Somehow I earned Ancestral Armor with Ring of Thror again!
I won on turn 13 with a threat level of 36 (after using Aragorn’s ability halfway through the game) and with no cards in my deck. I threw Will of West away early to Legolas to keep myself going in the early game.
Gimli really turned into a beast in this game. 10 attachments on him!
Test 3 – Roam Across Rhovanion – Win
I nearly got location locked at the first stage when I revealed 2 Hills of Wilderland on the setup and first turn and proceeded to reveal 3 more locations over the next 3 turns! Tri-sphere is always a little difficult to ramp willpower on the first couple turns but I eventually dug myself out.
I used Faramir as his Leadership version because he’s so helpful, especially in a quest where that x value location can pop up at any time. That was a 14 threat location by the end of this game!
I stalled at my first stage three (the one with the Key) so I could earn all the Guarded attachments but that lengthened the game. I won on turn 18 with a threat level of 41 (after using Aragorn earlier), no cards in my deck after already using Will of the West but plenty of Gandalfs left in my hand if I had needed them.
I mulliganed for Elven Light in this game and really thinking that’s the right choice. Without it, you either can’t quest worth anything at the opening of a game or you’re quickly draining your hand of cards that will further your board state.
Test 4 – Mount Gundabad – Win
I got an excellent opening hand with both Steward and Elven Light and then I drew into Unlikely Friendship on turn 1. That got off to a great start and I had a great game. I love this quest. Again, I used Faramir as his Leadership version and he was extremely helpful in overcoming big threat spikes through the course of the quest.
I won on turn 17 again with an empty deck, 29 threat and pretty much everything in play. Once you get Gimli powered up to 6 or 7 defense with plenty of readying abilities, he is a beast.
I suspect this deck couldn’t beat this quest every time, but this was a really fun game. I completed every quest stage!
This deck’s purpose is stated as making Guarded attachments playable in a solo setting so that’s what I’ll keep in mind while evaluating the deck.
Overall, the deck is stronger than I expected! With some time to set up, these three heroes can take on a lot. Legolas and Gimli did most of the combat phase and Aragorn was mostly there for his threat reduction. These solo games tended to be longer with the Guarded attachments around and Aragorn is great for counteracting that extra length. Gimli and Legolas are really fun design and I really enjoy them after I get some basic pieces in place. Getting over that hump of eating up your resources and cards in the early game can be a challenge. Steward is the clear answer for Gimli’s effect and Elven Light is Legolas’ best friend. That said, I really believe including a third copy of Elven-Light would be a great choice. It makes a huge difference to draw that early. It eats up your Spirit resource every round for a while so you can’t play Arwen for a while, but turning Legolas’ discard into card draw rather than a constant and real drain on your hand is huge. Worth sacrificing that 1 card slot in the deck in my opinion. You can discard other cards in the early game to keep you going since you’ll see them again in the late game with Will of the West, but it slows down your board state by a substantial rate.
Built as a deck that uses Guarded cards, this is working as a solo deck. I think you could tech it a little more by adding cards that could instantly discard locations or kill enemies (Gandalf does this just fine if you can afford him here), but that sometimes sacrifices basic deck efficiency. This deck is basically filled with strong cards that build a strong enough board presence to give it the luxury of taking extra time to earn these cards. Earning the Guarded cards if half the fun, but sometimes I felt like I was prolonging the game so I could earn them rather than just winning in less time. That’s OK but it feels kind of weird. This deck actually like the extra attack stats on Legolas but some of the other attachments like the Mithril Shirt seems extraneous and I was just earning them for the fun of it. Walking that line of keeping those attachments balanced and not super duper powerful but also making worth the effort of earning is tricky…
I’m kind of coming to the conclusion that these attachments are meant to all get thrown into one deck. If you want to earn 3+ Guarded attachments in a solo game, you’re going to basically extend the game by 3 turns or so just so you can “process” or deal with that extra card (assuming 1 card= 1 turn from the encounter deck). If you build a super strong deck to deal with the extra cards from the encounter deck that the Guarded cards bring out, do you even need the Guarded cards because the deck is already super strong? None of this is criticism of this deck at all (this deck obviously works and has the necessary tools to compensate for those cards), but more a general reflection on how the Guarded cards work generally.
I like the ally list here. It’s filled with awesome allies with hardly any duplicates. The description mentioned that Leadership Faramir was a stand in for the new unreleased Lore Faramir ally but I’m still partial to the Leadership version. He’s insanely good and got me out of some tight spots. With Warden of Healing the only non-unique ally in the deck, this could easily be a Fellowship Contract deck after that next deluxe is released. Giving all those heroes +1 to all their stats would be amazing. Just swap out Warden for Ioreth (you could honestly do that right now without hurting the power level at all) and you’re good to go. Gimli is the main character that gets damaged anyway.
The attachment list is a selection of all-stars as well. I was very suspicious of so many 1x cards, but they’re all so good, it usually works out. If I were to make any suggestions, I would recommend swapping out a Dunedain Warning for a Hauberk of Mail which would grant Gimli another hitpoint would can make a big difference while he’s still defending at 3. Ancestral Armor and Armored Destrier were my MVP attachments and I was always happy to see them. Sword that Was Broken fits in the same category. I wish there was more room for extra copies of these cards. King Under the Mountain was great when I drew it early but I didn’t use it much in a couple games just because I drew it late and it didn’t seem worth the loss in deck size (after you run your deck out the second time, it’s more challenging to discard every turn to Legolas because you can’t pull Elven-Light back to hand anymore). Thror’s Map didn’t do much for me in my games, but it can be an amazing card. I think it could be a sideboard card to make room for another copy of one of those key cards mentioned above. Celebrian Stone might make a good addition as well. It could help smooth resources by giving more access to Spirit through Aragorn’s resources. I found myself in need of Spirit resources more often than Lore and I always wanted to keep 1 Spirit Resource around for Test of Will.
Let’s talk about the selection of Guarded attachments. We have the Necklace of Girion, Glamdring, Ring of Thror and the Mithril Shirt in the deck. Of these I would count Glamdring as move helpful in my games. I put both the Necklace and Glamdring on Legolas and he could kill things fairly easily with 6 attack (after being readied and buffed by Gimli), quest for 4 (counting the +1 from StWB) and pay for Elven-Light up to twice per turn. The Ring of Thror and Mithril Shirt went on Gimli. The Ring was awesome and feels great to use. A ready feels worth it and then if you get free stuff, it’s so amazing! The Mithril Shirt really didn’t pull its weight here in my opinion. It’s not bad on Gimli but in 4 games, I never triggered its ability. I think I could have a couple times, but by the time I had it on him, I was geared up to 5+ defense and defending dragons then healing off. It was just never necessary or game saving. I kind of think Orcrist would be a better option. Getting Legolas up to 8 attack and earning both a card and resource with every kill would be amazing. The Arkenstone also seems a natural fit for this deck. I needed more willpower enough to use Faramir’s Leadership version but getting the Arkenstone into play would accomplish the same thing. Imagine getting Sword that was Broken, Fararmir, The Arkenstone and the Fellowship Contract in play all at once! +4 willpower to all your unique characters! That would be trippy.
I was really happy with the even selection as well. Unlikely Friendship is amazing. In tri sphere, it always opening up options an entire turn sooner. The only adjustment I would suggest is increasing that Elven-Light from 2 to 3. I count it as essential for making Legolas work at all.. I would be happy to cut a copy of a vanilla card like Daeron’s Runes to make room for a third Elven-Light. The balance of 1 Dwarven Tomb and 1 Will of the West seemed fine. You could mess yourself up with an unfortunate discard to Ring of Thror and hard decision on King Under the Mountain and be left without an option of recycling your deck in the late game, but usually that’s not going to cripple your or lose the game for you. Game did go long and having the option of recycling those Test of Wills etc was worth the inclusion of Will of the West.
The King’s Return was a fun card and is worth the 2 copies. I found myself in a place where I had all the Guarded attachments in hand which basically makes the King’s Return useless but I found a way where Dunedain Pipe can make it useful again. Just put the Guarded attachment on the bottom of your deck and draw a card then the event is useful again. The ability to put out that attachment outside of the planning phase is so helpful. Adding an enemy in the Travel phase when you know you’ll be able to take care of it substantially reduces the danger is presents.
My slight tweaks might make the deck look like this:
I enjoyed playing this deck and while it has some of the weakness inherent in a Legolas/Gimli deck (resource and card drain in the early game and Gimli can be squishy), but it has a very strong late game and it is very fun to play. The goal of making Guarded cards possible in a solo setting was met! I think the selection of Guarded attachments included here could be modified in a couple ways and still be viable. Just grab your favorite bling! After re-reading the description I think I had more success getting into play than Tegyrius generally did! I probably just turtled too much as I am apt to do…
With so many different cards in play, this deck won’t always have a consistent opening and I made a couple small suggestions that may help with that but I managed to beat all 4 of the quests I played with on the first attempt so it’s already in a good place!