A Lady, an Elf, and a Third Wheel

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A Lady, an Elf, and a Thorongil 6 1 0 2.0
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Some Sort 2475

Some Sort has a newer deck inspired by this one: A Lady, an Elf, and a Thorongil

There's a reason you don't see many dual-sphere Caldara decks. Typically there are two routes you can go with Caldara: build around blowing her up ASAP to accelerate your board state, or build around getting a Sword-thain, Prince Imrahil, or both into play to maximize her effect when you do pop her in round 3 or 4.

There's merits to both approaches, and back when Caldara could be triggered multiple times, the latter tended to be favored. Basically she became a broken-good resource accelerator once you were already set up, trading a five-resource event (Fortune or Fate) for twelve to fourteen resources worth of allies.

After the errata, there's more pressure to build in the other direction, where you're viewing Caldara as a one-time accelerator that quickly builds board state, much like a Spirit version of Denethor or something. If you're trading Caldara for Jubayr and Glorfindel in the first turn, you're coming out ahead, even if you are losing the extra resource per round from being down a hero. If you pull Prince Imrahil and another great Spirit Ally from your discard, you've just gotten a straight upgrade, essentially getting a free first-turn ally and replacing Caldara with another hero who has the same trait and slightly better stats.

But the "quickly establish board state" Caldara decks rely on being able to pull two allies from the jump, because if you're just trading Caldara for one ally and losing a resource per round in the exchange, you're not really leaving yourself better off. So dual-sphere decks aren't very compelling at all.

Which isn't to say I haven't built them. I had a two-hero deck that didn't really care about the secrecy cards (but did want to use Strider), and adding Caldara let me trade 9 starting threat for a strong first-turn ally without impacting Strider's bonus. It was nice. Not all that powerful, but it worked out.

Now, if you could somehow ensure that you were getting Imrahil in play on turn 1 or turn 2, dual-sphere Caldara decks become much more palatable. But he's a four-resource ally, so playing him straight will wipe out two full rounds worth of Spirit resources.

You can cheat him into play. My favorite method here is Sneak Attack. You bring him in as an ally, blow up Caldara to turn him into a hero, and then the "return to hand" effect fizzles and he sticks around. Now he only costs 1 leadership resource. But this means you're building Spirit/Spirit/Leadership and relying on a two-card combo without access to any of Lore's crazy draw effects, which isn't very consistent. (You could go Spirit / Spirit / Lore for your heroes and rely on A Good Harvest or Song of Kings or Narya to get your leadership resource match, but now you're relying on a 3-card combo!)

When it works it's great. But most of the time it won't. So Caldara remains stuck in mono-Spirit until we somehow manage to find a way for Spirit to cheat Imrahil into play cheaply. For free would be best.

You know, something like Lothíriel.


So here's the basic idea. You draw your opening hand, keep every copy of Daeron's Runes you draw as well as one copy of Imrahil, Children of the Sea, and Heed the Dream, pitching everything else to Galdor's modified mulligan. (You may or may not want to save a Horn of the Mark, that's a trickier call and will depend on the rest of your hand, but I usually check that back, too.) Hopefully you can get some good Spirit allies into your discard right off the bat.

After the mulligan, play any Deep Knowledges and Heed the Dreams you may have to restock your hand with Imrahil (your top priority) and big spirit allies. Then draw some more and discard some more good spirit allies to Daeron's Runes. Then discard a few more to Elven Jeweler or Children of the Sea if necessary, just make sure you have at least two top-tier Spirit allies in your discard-- Jubayr, Glorfindel, Elfhelm, Northern Tracker, or Súlien. Make sure you spend Caldara's resource in the process.

(If after all of this you still don't have Imrahil, you can discard your entire hand to To the Sea and then trigger Galdor's second ability to draw six new cards. If you DO have an Imrahil, you can discard everything except for him to To the Sea!, then when you sneak Imrahil in during the quest phase trigger Galdor to draw six new cards. If you do that you can play any Glorfindel in your discard and use Caldara to grab two other allies, instead, netting you 13-14 resources worth of spirit allies-- not counting Prince Imrahil-- on your first turn. You don't get a first-turn Horn of the Mark this way, but it's... umm... still kind of good.)

Once you've got your discard seeded with Spirit allies and Imrahil in hand, you commit Lothiriel and Caldara to the quest, then use Lothiriel's ability to put Imrahil in with them. Wait until the quest resolves and Caldara's willpower has been counted, then blow her up to bring in your two allies. (If you got the Horn of the Mark into play first, you can trigger it off of Caldara's ability!) Imrahil gets promoted to hero before Lothiriel can shuffle him back and you enter the combat phase with e.g. Jubayr and Glorfindel ready to bash some heads.

Here's a sample hand I just ran through on OCTGN. Draw Heed the Dream, Jubayr, Northern Tracker, two Elven Jewelers, and a Lords of the Eldar. Pitch everything except for the Heed the Dream to Galdor. Draw To the Sea, Heed the Dream, Elrond, Daeron's Runes, and Envoy of Pelargir to replace them, plus Horn of the Mark as my seventh card.

Play a Heed the Dream to look at the top 5 cards. No Imrahil or Glorfindel, so I pull a Daeron's Runes. Play both of my Daeron's Runes. Draw Sulien, Galadriel's Handmaiden, Glorfindel, and a Deep Knowledge, discard Glorfindel and Sulien. Play my Deep Knowledge, draw an Elven Jeweller and a Northern Tracker.

Use Caldara's resource to play To the Sea. Discard two cards to put Elven Jeweller into play for free, discard the other four cards to To the Sea to reduce the cost of the next Noldor ally by four, then use Lothiriel's resource to play Glorfindel from my discard. Trigger Galdor's ability to draw six new cards: Elfhelm, Imrahil, two more To the Seas, Elf-Friend, and Horn of the Mark.

Quest with Galdor, Lothiriel, Caldara, and Glorfindel, trigger Lothiriel's ability to put Imrahil into play committed to the quest for a total of 12 willpower. After quest resolution, blow up Caldara to bring back Jubayr and a Northern Tracker (or you could grab Sulien if you prefer). Discard a To the Sea to ready Glorfindel, and I enter the combat phase at 27 threat with Jubayr, Glorfindel, a Northern Tracker, and an Elven Jeweler ready to rumble.

It seems like a crazy start, but it's not. That's the eighth straight hand (and ninth out of the last ten) where I had Imrahil and 13-14 resources worth of Spirit allies on the board by the end of the first quest phase. That's... pretty much what the first turn is going to look like.


Once you're past the (hopefully) explosive start there are a few more interesting allies to trigger Lothiriel's ability on, especially once you get an Elf-friend on her. The Galadriel's Handmaidens can keep your threat down, Envoy of Pelargir gets you a resource, Mablung is an all-purpose engagement fixer, and Papa Elrond quests for three and either draws a card for the entire table, heals a hero, or pitches a condition attachment. Once your Horn of the Mark is online each of these allies becomes self-replacing, too.

The deck gets its name from another fun interaction. Make sure you're always spending Imrahil's spirit resources first, and if anything bad ever happens (an undefended attack, some surprise direct damage), feel free to kill him off. Lothiriel can always sneak in an extra copy in the next quest phase, where he'll immediately become a hero and stick around again. Galdor and Lothiriel tend to stick around, but you can easily burn through three or four copies of your third hero over the course of a quest.

If you really wanted to get silly, you could use those Lothiriel and the Knight of Belfalas in the sideboard to bring back some of those copies of Imrahil and kill them off all over again, leaving Imrahil trapped in an endless "Groundhog Day" style loop of dying and coming back and dying and coming back and dying and coming back.

The rest of the sideboard includes some healing and some more bouncy Silvans in case you want to play up that aspect of the deck a bit more. Plus Damrod, who actually isn't bad when you don't have to pay anything to use him. Let Lothiriel bring him in for free, benefit from that one extra willpower during the quest, then blow him up after resolution for some free threat reduction.

8 comments

Apr 26, 2020 The Purple Wizard 809

You make some of the coolest decks, Some Sort. This is ridiculous!

Apr 26, 2020 Alonewolf87 599

Very cool! Just one thing, the Horn of the Mark is dependent on another deck on the table having a version of Eomer around I guess.

Apr 26, 2020 Some Sort 2475

@The Purple Wizard Thanks!

@Alonewolf87 Oh no! Of course she’s not an eligible target without Eomer around. Well darn.

Fortunately the easiest solution is to just swap the 3x Horn of the Marks with 3x Elven-lights, which despite requiring Glorfindel to cycle should actually be a touch more consistent since the two required pieces can both play from the discard. (You often discard a lot of cards fairly indiscriminately in the first round.) Should also have the benefit of aiding setup by letting you dig one card deeper if Imrahil is being shy and not showing up.

While we’re at changes, if you don’t mind the extra shuffling I’d also drop Lords of the Eldar (I forgot about how badly Lothiriel’s shuffle-back slows down emptying the deck) plus a Sulien and an Elven Jeweler for 3x Drinking Song. Seastan simulated 100,000 hands and found that the odds of a first-turn Imrahil were just a shade better than 84%. With the Elven-lights and the Drinking Songs that could get as high as 93-94%.

Apr 27, 2020 deceasedhorse 58

Tried it out a couple of times with the Elven-light change; still drew through the deck quite handily . Quite fun! I'm not sure I'd want to lose the allies for drinking song, but then again I was quite fortunate in being able to get Imrail consistently, possibly by luck.

Apr 28, 2020 Olander 130

Green Faramir would be good here, fun deck

Apr 28, 2020 Sfrug 244

Errata: in the description you write Children of the Sea where (I think) you meant to write To the Sea, to the Sea!.

Apr 29, 2020 Some Sort 2475

@Olander I had Faramir in for a bit, but in the end preferred the flexibility of Mablung over the 2 points of direct damage, especially as Mablung is cheap enough to just pay for outright if I want.

@Sfrug Yup! Made that mistake a couple times, thought I’d caught them all.

May 15, 2020 RascaL 1

Just won against Encounter at Amon Din with this deck and a radagast eagles deck. Super strong and plays VERY fast. Awesome job @Some Sort!