Elessar Undimmed by Elessar010

This Aragorn/Arwen deck was built and sent to me by RingsDB user Elessar010 who runs The Book of Elessar blog and video series. If you haven’t discovered this project yet, you should take a look! He’s playing through the quest from the beginning with Aragorn featured in every deck. Not only is he playing all the quests but he’s recording games on YouTube and then writing up narrative versions of these games on his blog! An impressive undertaking and very well done so far.

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First Impressions

I’ve built a couple decks working with the same theme of Aragorn and Arwen and I like the looks of this one so far.

The two heroes look like the core of the deck with only 3 other different characters included and two of those are non-permanents. After reading the description I have a decent idea how this deck is meant to work. Two heroes means you have a significant reduction in stats and resources so getting some action advantage and resource acceleration right away is pretty key. The description mentions needing Strider and Steward of Gondor in the opening hand.

I see lots more readying in the deck including Unexpected Courage, Heir of Mardil and Tale of Tinuviel. With only 2-3 characters on the board most of the time, these characters will need some willpower buffs as well and for that we have Sword that was Broken, Strider and Celebrian Stone. If I crunch some numbers, assuming you have Treebeard on the board and all 3 of those helpful attachments I think you could regularly quest for… 14WP. That’s not bad for 3 characters! Gandalf and Galadriel can pop in for some burst questing as well.

Treebeard, Rohryn, Gondorian Fire and Blood of Gondor cover the combat phase. Once those are in place, combat should be really well covered. The challenge will be getting all those pieces in place fast enough.

 

Test 1 – Journey Down the Anduin

This was a great game. Mulliganed into an amazing starting hand and proceeded to put a few pieces into place every turn. By turn 8 I was able to engage the Hill Troll and destroy it with Rohryn/Gondorian Fire without even letting him attack. I had two enemies on the last stage and I took two turns to safely kill them off and won on turn 11.Once you get that Fire and mount in place, combat is pretty much over. That was amazing.

elessar jdta.PNG

I used Gandalf and Elven Light to draw at almost every opportunity and I was down to 18 cards in my deck by the end of the game. Not too shabby at all!

Test 2 – The River Running

The first attempt ended with an overwhelming amount of archery on the second turn but the second attempt went fine. I won on turn 11 again with 18 cards left in my deck, exactly like the previous game of Anduin. I didn’t get all the ideal attachments right away so it was a little slower start but it worked out. Rohyrn is pretty great. I think I defended 3 times in this game and the rest of the enemies just got nailed before they could attack.

river running elessar.PNG

Test 3 – Escape from Umbar

I tried this quest 4 times and almost got a foothold once but couldn’t quite make it. Either I got a surge enemy and couldn’t knock them out fast enough or I got too many locations and got locked up. It does take a very specific opening hand to make up for that lack of a third hero. If you’re able to get Strider and Sword that was Broken fairly quickly, willpower can go crazy, but then it’s more than likely that combat becomes an issue. It’s hard to muster early game attack power. If you can get Steward and Fire online quickly, it becomes easy, but before that it’s difficult to kill things.

elessar harad loss.PNG

Test 4 – Road to Rivendell

This quest has the Arwen ally so I had to fudge the rules a bit. I lost once and then won the second attempt. Luckily I drew plenty of cancellation to protect myself from the super nasty treacheries and shadow cards in this quest.

Sleeping Sentry and Orc Ambush can really get you in this quest. I found Orc Ambush can be a beneficial card in the right situation. With no ranged characters in this deck, there was no way to engage or attack the Goblin Archer one he was in the staging area, but when Orc Ambush came up, I got to engage him! Nice to see two nasty encounter cards nerf each other.

Road to Rivendell elessar.PNG

It took 15 full turns to win but it was an interesting game, with the Ambush keyword actually making some trouble for me. I was able to quest for 22WP at the end with only 4 characters.

Test 5 – The Stone of Erech

I want Aragorn to work in this quest and I’ve been playing around with Forth the Three Hunters deck for this quest. It’s a hard quest with some real quirks.

I got a couple early game soft balls and went on to squeak out a win! Really tight and enjoyable game. And I never saw Steward of Gondor! The last quest stage is Battle and I had my Gondorian Fire out to get some extra quest power and with Steward’s resources, I could have quested out really fast but without it it was really hard. There was a pretty great combo at the end when I engaged the boss enemy who blanks all your characters textboxes while engaged. Gandalf just stuck around for a good 3 turns!

I can’t believe I actually beat that quest… Arwen had to take an undefended attack from that boss so she didn’t make it but I was able to finish the quest with only Aragorn on the board. I would have threated out if I hadn’t completed the quest on that turn. 13 completed turns and a threat level of 48 and 24 cards left in my deck, including all 3 copies of Steward of Gondor and all 3 copies of Elven Light. Aragorn’s boosted willpower and plenty of Gandalfs got me through that game. Really enjoyable experience.

 

Test 6 – Roam Across Rhovanion

This was a win and a hard fought one! The first couple turns were touch and go and I quested unsucessfully a couple turns in a row while I struggled to boost willpower against a couple locations in the staging area.

I got set up and things were going fine and then I got hit with dougle Weighed Down! Not good for this deck.

weighed down.PNG

With no Condition removal, I had to suffer through it. Luckily, Strider keeps Aragorn from even exhausting so as long as enemies didn’t show up, it wasn’t hurting him. I got Arwen rehabilitated but I never removed the condition from Aragorn. I kept throwing more attachments on him to keep him functional and I managed to win. Again, Gondorian Fire combined with Roheryn destroyed any enemies that came down until the end when I had to face Tiny and Urdug. By then I had massive Fire built up and was able to incinerate both bosses after defending with Gandalf and Galadriel. I almost threated out near the end and I would have without Gandalf!

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 Card Choices

The hero choices are a given for this deck. The deck seems to be built around the challenge of getting these two heroes to work together. I have to say it worked very well. I beat a lot of quests with it and they were fun games especially in the first 5 turns or so. I have to say Steward/Gondorian Fire/Roheryn are pretty essential to make this deck work and once they do get to work, your combat phases are seriously trivialized since you don’t even have to defend. There are a few exceptions when you can’t optionally engage an enemy or when an enemy is immune to player card effects. While Gondorian Fire/Roheyrn can make a game less interesting, with a 2 hero deck, I’m happy to take pretty much any advantage I can get.

Defense is a little scary in the early game but once you get Treebeard out, he’s good for your low level and a few mid level enemies, but since you can’t heal him,  you’ll need to either defend with Aragorn, hopefully boosted by some Warnings, or with a Gandalf, mostly likely dropped in with a timely Sneak Attack. If you get Blood of Numenor into play, that can solve all your defense problems as well but with one copy, you can’t rely on it. To be honest, I didn’t have a lot of trouble defending.

Late game willpower is solid, usually hitting 13 or so, but the first few turns are the hardest. If you get locations out early or a high threat enemy you can’t deal with, you might quest unsuccessfully for a few turns. But with low threat and some reduction, you can afford to take some threat raises while you get set up. One card I think would do a lot to relieve this potential early game lock is Heirs of Earendil. If you’re going to take threat from too much in the staging area, you might as well pay the one resource to totally get rid of the location at the same time. I think it would be at least as helpful as Tale of Tinuviel, if not more so. I wished for Heirs of Earendil many times while using this deck!

Even with all the attachments in this deck, there’s only 1 Restricted attachment! I really like the attachment selection for the most part. I just have a couple comments. Light of Valinor hits a weird spot in this deck. Arwen isn’t much good for anything besides questing, so her action advantage isn’t massively helpful. But it’s really good for Tale of Tinuviel, especially if you have Celebrian Stone on Arwen (which isn’t necessarily a good idea since that Spirit icon on Aragorn can sometimes be useful. In practice I found that with 2 copies of Light of V and Heirs of Earnendil, they rarely came up in the correct order and at the opportune time to actually use that combo. Maybe I didn’t look for opportunities to use it or I was too busy incinerating orcs with fire from horseback.. But from my experience, I would be willing to cut both Light of Valinor and Tale of Tinuviel and would gladly replace them with copies of Heirs of Earendil and a 3rd copy of Elven Light.

Usually I would put 3x of Sword that was Broken in any Leadership Aragorn, but with the low character count, it’s not that essential. Very nice, but not essential. Heir of Mardil is nice as well, but if you wanted to max out the consistency, you could cut it in favor of a third copy of Gondorian Fire which is pretty essential to making the deck work.

I think Steed of Imladris could be a decent card to add to the deck. Probably only 1 copy, but it could help break out of any location lock situations and it could help you draw more cards later in the game when you have enough resources to pay for Elven-Light twice in a turn.

You could keep a 2nd copy of Dunedain Remedy on hand for archery heavy quests, but other than that, I really like what’s in this deck. Pretty much every other card seems to pull its weight.

Opening Hand

I think the most essential card to see right away is Strider. It’s an immediate boost of 2 WP and it basically lets you trigger Aragorn’s hero ability for free for the rest of the game. The next card is probably Steward of Gondor with Elven-Light being nearly as important. An early Galadriel can be amazing as well.

Final Thoughts

This deck was much more competitive than I thought it would be. I’ve seen decks similar to this before and even made some myself, but they usually include a low threat third hero just to keep the deck afloat. This manages to beat quests with only two heroes and very minimal allies to boot! I’m actually very impressed.

I have to reiterate that it does rely pretty heavily on Gondorian Fire and Roheryn to get it through the combat phase and that doesn’t necessarily make for the most interesting games as you engage and pretty much immediately discard the enemy, but the novelty and feeling of power that gives you does have a different kind of appeal.

Short of possibly swapping out the Tale of Tinuviel suite of cards out for Heirs of Earendil and maybe a 3rd Elven Light, I don’t really have many comments. It’s a well-crafted deck. I like seeing Leadership Aragorn works so well. I like playing him.

Thanks to Elessar010 for sending me the deck! I owe him extra thanks for being a patron of Three is Company, a podcast I host on as well. Make sure to check out his blog and video series as well. He’s an excellent community member!

 

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