I asked for some more Dunedain decks to test and I was happy to get this Dunedain Fellowship from Onidsen. Playing complimentary decks should really help the Dunedain deck type since you kind of need a critical mass of enemies to make the “lots of enemies” Dunedain deck type works as its supposed to.
These are true Dunedain Decks. Glorfindel is the only hero outside the Dunedain trait and the vast majority of the allies are Dunedian as well.
These hero lineups are fresh for me. Most Dunedain deck I’ve made or played include either Aragorn (for the willpower) or Damrod (for the cheap traps). These hero combinations let both the decks start below 30 which is helpful since the Dunedain are usually a bit of a slow burn. The main weakness still looks like willpower to me, but with Glorfindel on the table, you start with a little more than usual.
The Amarthiul deck looks more like the typical “engage the enemies” style of deck while deck 2 has more willpower and locations control tricks.
I see both decks have well over 50 cards so there might be a possibility of optimizing down to 50 to increase consistency.
Test 1 – Passage Through Mirkwood
The decks did great vs this quest. Both decks feature the 0 cost Dunedain allies that bring encounter cards into play as part of their cost and they proved valuable here. Many of the locations have a mere 2 quest posts which means you can fetch it with the Pathfinder, then immediately get rid of it with Asfaloth. The little bats and spiders weren’t a huge cost to getting the Dunedain hunter into play either, although I was once forced to engage Ufthak through that effect. I’m just glad the Hummerhorns never showed up as the only enemy in those five cards…
I never got Forest Snare down so I had to defend all the enemies every turn, but I kept ahead of the encounter deck’s curve the entire time so while the shadow effects hit me a couple times (mostly discarding attachments), my defense was always sufficient.
Test 2 – Road to Rivendell
This quest is nice for the Dunedain since the Ambush keyword brings enemies down fairly quickly. The nasty Sleeping Sentry hit me a couple times and I had to be careful to keep cancellation ready and I won in the end. It was a short game at only 5 full turns. These decks have a solid amount of card draw/resource acceleration/ally reduction. Even with no Steward of Gondor, they can ramp up pretty fast.
That combat deck found itself pretty hard pressed a couple times and I’m not sure I could have survived very much longer. That Vigilant Dunedain really kept me alive!
Test 3 – Escape from Umbar
This took me 3 attempts but I was able to beat it! I couldn’t resist using the super cheaty Thror’s Map/Narrow Alleyway tech to pile several Harad enemies up in the alley which certainly helped, but these decks proved well rounded here.
The Northern Tracker and Asfaloth duo are still the most potent location control around and it makes a big difference in a quest like this where keeping that staging area clear is so helpful.
My successful run gave me a lot of locations in the early game which helped me set up and get some early progress down so I could spend it later to survive the eventual rush of enemies.
I found the location control element of the decks to be the strongest in this game and the healing to be a bit lacking. With only 2 Imladris Caregivers and 2 Self Preservations, that archery became a problem. The Hunters of Eriador (Glorfindel) deck had a hard time defending as well since Arwen never came out to give any of the stronger defenders on the other side of the board the Sentinel keyword.
I won on turn 9 with 39 and 37 threat and 32 and 35 cards left in my decks. I was able to clear the single sidequest but that’s always a dangerous choice in this quest.
These decks are well rounded overall and compliment each other nicely.
The Dunedain have a couple standard challenges:
- Early willpower
- High starting willpower
- Dependence on Steward of Gondor
While there are a few weaknesses here, I found these decks find solid solutions to all 3 of these challenges. The early willpower isn’t super strong, but the addition of Glorfindel really helps (he helps with #2 as well). Nearly every Dunedain Fellowship I’ve seen (as well as many solo Dunedain decks) rely on Aragorn’s willpower boosting effect with Sword that Was Broken but these decks use the location control strategy instead. The decks don’t pump out willpower, but once you start removing locations, the need for willpower goes down drastically.
Steward of Gondor is a crutch for many deck types and a high majority of Dunedain decks include it. You’re almost always running Leadership with the Dunedain and the ally cost curve tends to be on the higher side so it really gives the archetype a better chance at being competitive, but that limits your opportunities to play with others who might be using the card and it can get annoying feeling like you are forced to use Steward in decks that aren’t thematically appropriate.
The resource acceleration package takes up more deck space than 3x Steward/3x Errand Rider, but the combination of Heir of Valendil, Ranger Provisions, Amarthiul and 0 cost Dunedain allies keeps the decks from feeling choked.
The main resource issue I came up against is the Lore/Spirit resource demands in the Hunters deck. With only 1 Lore and 2 Spirit heroes, the resource distribution is 41 Lore resources to 39 Spirit. The Storm Comes helps smooth out those resources when you’re playing allies, but sometimes those bigger Lore cards like Self Preservation are hard to play.
Card draw is generally good which really helps the Dunedain. I used to consider Beravor a boring hero but I’ve really come around to appreciate her power in the last year. She can make a huge difference in solo or multiplayer!
Defenders of the North
This deck does it’s job! It can defend from turn one and it has many options for strong defenders. Amarthiul takes the early load but with 3 Armored Destrier, 3 Vigilant Dunedain and 3x Guardian of Arnor, you can build a wall of defenders that can keep both decks safe through most games. The Guardians are the only characters with a built in Sentinel so it’s nearly crucial to see one of them come early so you can keep the other deck safe.
Thurindir isn’t really used to his full potential here but he’s still good, and that just shows you how strong he is. He’s still awesome with a mere 1-2 sidequests present between the two decks. I might suggest adding Gather Information and even using it as your opening sidequest if the quest allies for a few turns at stage one. At the very least it will let the second deck find a key card, boost Thurindir’s willpower and The deck description instructs you to choose The Storm Comes as your opening sidequest but it’s only present in the sideboard so I assume that it’s only there so you can grab it easily while playing in OCTGN. With 55 cards in the deck I’d probably recommend cutting Eldahir, and a couple Dunedain Hunters or Watchers so you can get down to 50 cards.
I found Dark Knowledge to be effective and valuable on Amarthiul since he never quests and you can make solid plans for your defense. You can even put two copies on him with no real consequence! This is the first deck I’ve played Ranger Provisions in for a while and while it’s no Steward of Gondor, it was valuable and more flexible than Steward since you can reasonably control which deck gets the resource boost.
Hunters of Eriador
Glorfindel really makes this deck work. That low threat is helpful and extra location control through Asfaloth is perfect for getting value out of the Dunedain Pathfinders. This deck has some decent combat power as well, although the other deck seems to pull all the enemies away so Glorfindel and Idraen are often left ready with not much to do during the combat phase.
The main suggestion I have here is balancing out the resource curve to reflect the 2:1 Spirit/Lore resource generation. There are nearly as many Lore cards in the deck as Spirit and the total resource demands are higher on Lore which leaves Lore cards stuck in your hand more often than not. With no resource generation or manipulation, Elf-Stone is the only way to help mitigate the imbalance and it’s not enough to really make the deck run smoothly.
Let’s take a look at the allies. Arwen is an auto-include, the Pathfinder is solid here, the Lookout can be very useful in certain quests, but he’s mostly just a decent body, Nothern Tracker is always good and a single copy of Sulien is nice, but with that Lore/Spirit imbalance, the likelihood of having an extra Lore resource to trigger her ability is fairly low. [EDIT. I forgot about The Storm Comes while writing this section. The imbalance isn’t a big deal if you’re able to clear that sidequest.] She can still quest for 3! Gildor is a super good ally, but he’s going to be really hard to get out by any means other than Elf Stone. There’s a Noldor subtheme in the deck, but I’m afraid it’s not helping a lot. The Imladris Caregiver can be a good healer in some decks, but I think the standard Warden of Healing might be more efficient here. Beravor can get cards into your hand, but not fast enough to make the Caregiver outstrip the Warden. Other thematic options for healing might include Athelas (very thematic) and Lembas (less thematic but very useful). Anyway, I never wanted to use the Caregivers except when a hero was at death’s door in my games.
The Greyflood Wanderer is a bit of a puzzling ally, but he’s a Dunedain ally with 2WP so he’s OK. I’m not sure I’ve ever used his ability, but I suppose it could be useful in some situations.
So I’m not entirely sure the extra Noldor allies are contributing a lot, but if you wanted to pursue that theme, the Mountain of Fire Elladan and Elrohir would be fun thematic choices. They rode with the Grey Company and hunted orcs with the Dunedain and they are both in-sphere here and would provide good questing and some combat support as well in quests that feature orcs.
I like the attachment selection a lot with the exception of Self Preservation. It’s too expensive for this deck so I could never get it down. I think Athelas or Lembas would do nicely as replacements. A single copy of Wingfood is always nice for Beravor if you could find a place in the deck for it.
The event list includes a couple cards I don’t see much. Well Warned is a great card that can be used to benefit either deck and I think it works well here. With solid location control in the deck, I’m not sure Distant Stars is a very helpful card here, but it could be good tech vs a quest with dramatic locations. I’d tend to keep that one in the sideboard along with Quick Ears for quests with really bad locations or enemies that you really don’t want to have to deal with.
Tale of Tinuviel might be good here as well, but with the other deck handling most of the combat, I don’t think it’s a “must have.” The Noldor/Dunedain traits also give access to Heirs of Earendil, but again, with solid location control already in the deck, it would only be really helpful in games with terrible locations like the infamous X threat locations you might find in The Crossings of Poros or Attack on Dol Guldur that you need to destroy immediately.
My instincts would bring the deck to this:
This brings the resource balance from Lore 41/Spirit 39 to Lore 26/Spirit 41 which is going to give you more options every turn. [EDIT. I forgot about The Storm Comes while writing this section. The imbalance isn’t a big deal if you’re able to clear that sidequest.] Healing might be a little light here, but it wouldn’t he hard to get down once you draw it. You might have to slot in more healing if you’re planning to tackle something with a lot of archery like Escape from Umbar or Breaking of the Fellowship.
I tested this version along with a 50 card version of the Lore/Leadership deck against Journey Up the Anduin and had a great game. It was hard, but I won eventually.
The Dunedain still aren’t easy decks to crush quests with, but building two decks to work together really smooths things out for them in my opinion. These decks were fun to play and can handle standard level quests quite nicely! The Combat Deck/Location Control deck pairing works really well.
Thanks to Onidsen for creating the decks and sending them my way. My apologies for the delay in getting this post out. It takes exponentially more time to test a Fellowship vs a solo deck! Way longer games, harder to absorb everything going and a a lot more to think through! But always fun!
Thanks for reading!