The Engine - Guarded 2 of 3

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MrSpaceBear 886

This deck is part of a 3 (to 4) handed deck that is meant to have fun and take advantage of the guarded attachments. These decks are not really meant for use in solo play.

Guarded attachments: The decks take advantage of a few ways of quickly getting the guarded attachments off of locations and enemies and onto the proper heroes. Hunting Party from "The Finisher" is an underrated card that can switch an enemy with one of the top 5...freeing up a guarded card for the proper hero. If a hill troll or Mumak happens to grab Orcrist, simply Hunting Party it away for a smaller enemy and grab the sword for the cost of a single leadership resource. Sneak Attack/Gandalf can also help deal with early enemies that grab guarded cards. "The Buzzsaw" provides Mariner's Compass. If a location ends up guarding a card, simply Mariner's Compass to swap it out, and you get the guarded card for free. Asfolath and Heirs of Earendil can also take care of locations that grab a key attachment.

Attack: "The Buzzsaw" is the main way of dealing with enemies. The goal is to get Orcrist and Glamdring on Elladan as fast as possible. Once you do, he turns into a 7 attack hero that gains a resource and draws a card every time he kills an enemy. He also wants a Rivendell Bow to gain ranged. Using his action to ready after being declared as an attacker essentially means that he can kill most enemies around the table...and draw a card for every single one that he kills. (He also nets a single resource since you do not typically need to pay to ready him after the final enemy is killed). Just make sure that he saves a resource to get the train started since he has to ready before getting paid from Orcrist.

Defense: Elrohir is a great defender, though he is actually secondary to Spirit Beregond in "The Engine." Elrohir gets Steward at the start of the game to ramp up the number of times he can defend and to pay for your stuff. If he is sitting on enough money and an encounter card discards it, feel free to throw a second copy on Aragorn from "The Finisher." Beregond gets the first Gondorian Shield, but Elrohir gets the second and an Ancestral Armor. He also picks up Cloack of Lorien from "The Engine." Having a secondary defender block for 6-7 is typically enough. Beregond also picks up most of the Unexpected Courage, Hauberk of Mail, Mithril Shirt, and Dunedain Warning. With several copies of Desperate Defense, he should be able to block many times a round for essentially 9-11 defense. Arwen can add another defense if ever needed.

Willpower: Late game, "The Finisher" handles most of the questing. The Fellowship contract is typically not too difficult to get off. The Sword that Was Broken,The Arkenstone, and Necklace of Girion all go on Aragorn. When Faramir Targets "The Finisher", all 9 questers will have +4 willpower in addition to their base stat. If you happened to Sneak Attack in Merry for the 9th unique card to flip the contract, then all the allies get +5 willpower in addition to their base stat. Early game questing is typically not an issue since Ewoyn is on the table. She quests with Haldan, Halbarad, all the heros from "The Finisher."

Card draw & location attachments: The location attachments, specifically Ancient Mathom, make these trio of decks a ton of fun to play...almost as much as the guarded cards. Ranger Provisions, Thror's Key, the guarded cards, 6 copies of Ancient Mathom plus all the lore attachments (and 6 copies of Reforged) produce a ton of card draw. "The Buzzsaw" typically provides its own card draw, so target the Ancient Mathom on the other two decks to get them ramped up. It is not uncommon for "The Engine" to draw 10-12 cards on its turn to be the first player. Ranger Provisions should be saved to target "The Finisher" most of the time.

Deck Specifics - The Buzzsaw: Mulligan hard for Steward and either Orcrist or The King's Return. Get Elladan and Elrohir set up and then start supporting the other two decks with all the leftover resources and card draw. Tighten Our Belts typically targets "The Finisher" as does Ranger Provisions. The Arkenstone and Necklace of Girion typically are not played until Elladan is set up and has cleared the board of most enemies. They both go on Aragorn to bring the quest home. Once Elladan has a Rivendell bow, feel free to throw a second copy on Glorfindel. Sneak Attack is typically used on Gandalf, but it isn't typically used for card draw. Nuking an enemy with a guarded attachment early on or reducing your thread is actually more common. Path of Need in this trio of decks can also provide an interesting way to play. You can typically draw it with all the card draw. Once you play it, the spirit decks can continually Reforge it at action speed to essentially make it so that heroes do not ever exhaust. While that is neat, it typically happens late in the game once Elladan and Beregond are already set up, so it becomes a "win more" card. Revealed in Wrath is a fantastic card against certain encounter sets. Use it situationally. Use Halbarad to engage most enemies (especially early game) since Beregond can defend for you anyhow. Once Elladan gets a bow, it can sometimes be advantageous to let other decks engage larger enemies. Elladan attacks for 7, but Idraen, Glorfindel, and Haldan are often ready to attack as well. Giving large enemies to "The Finisher," defending with Beregond, and attacking with 13 from Elladan, Idraen, and Glorfindel typically does the job.

Deck Specifics - The Engine: Seeing Ancient Mathom in your opening hand is key. Seeing Glamdring is also important to get "The Buzzsaw" going. It is typically advantageous to be the second player. That way, you can throw Ancient Mathom on a location and benefit from the draw right away. Once this deck gets going, it is hard to stop. There are up to 12 location attachments in this deck plus another 10 from the other two (depending on whether the guarded cards get enemies or locations). With 6 copies of Reforged, that brings us to 28 opportunities to draw a card with Haldan...without the three cards from Ancient Mathom. You should almost never pay for the Mirkwood Hunters. South Away can often be kept to gain a massive threat reduction on the same location that is being built up for a Mirkwood Hunter drop, but feel free to use it early to avoid travel effects while looking for Thror's map. Be a little selfish with the early Ancient Mathom, but once the deck is rolling, target "The Finisher" with as much as possible. The Wardens of Healing are the main source of healing. Be sure to draw into one or two and save the lore resources if necessary.

Deck Specifics - The Finisher: This deck does not typically have incredible starting hands. Any hand with Light of Valinor is worth considering. Also look for ramp. Having a single copy of Ancient Mathom to start in either "The Finisher" or "The Engine" is extremely important so that the decks can start reforging it. Sneak Attack/Gandalf is also great for the card draw. Having an early Hunting Party will cause more peace of mind to allow the other decks to play their guarded attachments. An early Unexpected Courage for Beregond is also great. Most of the allies do not actually do anything useful other than provide an insane amount of willpower. The role of "The Finisher" is to start questing early, cancel the treacheries, fuel card draw, and wait for the other two decks to build. Once they can support you, start dropping allies, flip the contract, and quest like crazy to end the game.

Adding a fourth deck: There is actually quite a bit of flexibility in adding a fourth deck for four player games. The one that I have had the most fun with is a standard Gloin deck. Heed The Dream helps to find the key cards to get everyone else rolling. Gloin typically absorbs archery well and provides an extra boost to healing. Nolder, Silvan, and lore Radgast decks also pair nicely as a fourth. (Just be sure to pull Arwen if you decide to use the hero version).