The Secret Fire

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Journey Along the Anduin - 1 Player - 2020-11-13
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AJ_800 187

The interaction between Elrond, Vilya, Gandalf and Wizard Pipe is my favourite combo in the game. Being able to see the card that Vilya can play, switch out that card and play cards from the top of the deck is both powerful and fun.

I wanted to create a deck with this combination while achieving two things:

  1. Minimise the starting threat of an Elrond/Gandalf deck. The deck needs a turn or two to get moving which is too slow for some Quests. Elrond/Gandalf combined contribute 27 Starting Threat, which is a reasonable level to turtle for at least one turn. However, the deck also needs three resources a turn to get moving, which means that a third Hero is required. Unfortunately, even with Glorfindel as the third Hero, the starting threat is above 30, which means that the Hill Troll in Journey Along the Anduin engages on Turn 1 (he can kill either Elrond or Gandalf on Turn 1 with the right Shadow effect).
  2. Including Flame of Anor to maximise the usage of the high cost Allies in the deck, while adding readying effects to Gandalf to maximise its output.

This led me to (MotK) Ioreth. While initially seeming like a strange choice for a third Hero, (MotK) Ioreth has the following benefits:

  • She generates a resource that can be used for Master of the Forge and Heed the Dream in the early game.
  • The availability of her healing ability on Turn 1 (especially in combination with Elrond’s healing boost) allows Elrond and/or Gandalf to defend early and heal quickly if necessary.
  • The reliable source of healing removes the need for Warden of Healing, freeing up deck space.
  • Being able to remove a card from the deck during setup effectively reduces the deck size to 49, providing a marginal consistency gain.
  • She does all of this for 1 Starting Threat, giving the deck a total Starting Threat of 28.

Specific Cards:

  • Wizard Pipe makes Vilya, Gandalf and Flame of Anor more effective, and should be searched for as a second priority after Vilya.
  • Imladris Stargazer sorts the top of the deck to set up Vilya, Gandalf and Flame of Anor. She is a Ally, but resources from Elrond can be used to pay for any Allies, and resources from Gandalf can be used if she is the top card of the deck.
  • Unexpected Courage, Shadowfax and Magic Ring maximise the usage of Elrond and Gandalf. It is worth considering putting all three on Gandalf if Flame of Anor is lined up and there are a lot of Enemy cards in play. There are only two copies of Shadowfax as its cost pushes it down the priority list and its uniqueness means that multiple copies are not useful. Magic Ring is limited to one per deck but is a great utility card when drawn (especially since the healing option is boosted by Elrond).
  • Light of Valinor is not included as it has a potential conflict with Vilya. If Elrond has no other readying effect and an Ally is required to be brought in by Vilya to be committed to a quest, Elrond will already be exhausted when characters must be committed (Light of Valinor does not allow a player to commit an exhausted Character to a Quest).
  • Daeron’s Runes is an efficient way to thin the deck. It can also be cleared from the top of the deck with Gandalf’s ability to play cards from the top of the deck in order to avoid wasting a usage of Vilya on it.
  • Elrond's Counsel is the deck’s threat control but requires the sphere. Vilya will give Elrond the sphere, and Gandalf can play it from the top of the deck prior to this.
  • Beorn serves three major functions: he can soak up damage and be healed by (MotK) Ioreth; he can get a single-turn boost and go back into the deck or; he can be discarded from the top of the deck to give Gandalf +6 when playing Flame of Anor.
  • Boromir, Elfhelm, Firyal, Gildor Inglorion, Glorfindel and Jubayr are powerful high cost characters to be brought into play with Vilya or used for Flame of Anor. These are limited to two to avoid uniqueness issues.
  • A Test of Will is a standard defence card. Some care needs to be taken that Vilya is not wasted by leaving A Test of Will at the top of the deck, but this should not be problematic in this deck.
  • Flame of Anor is the inspiration for this deck and can be highly effective when used correctly. Gandalf can obviously Quest+Attack and Defend+Attack, but he can also Attack+Attack with both Attacks having the Flame of Anor bonus. This is achieved by exhausting Gandalf to Attack an Enemy in Attack step 6.8b, then playing Flame of Anor in the Action Window between steps 6.8.1. and 6.8.2. Then, in step 6.8.4., Gandalf will be ready, so the process loops to step 6.8. to begin another Attack. If Gandalf also has Unexpected Courage, Shadowfax and/or Magic Ring ready, he could Attack up to five different enemies in the same Phase, all with the Flame of Anor bonus. If a copy of Beorn is used for Flame of Anor, this is an additional 30 value in a single phase.

How to Play:

  • Mulligan for Vilya, or a way to find it (Master of the Forge, Heed the Dream or Gather Information depending on the circumstances) while avoiding drawing Ioreth. If your first Starting Hand contains both Vilya and Ioreth, you will have to mulligan due to the timing of Messenger of the King.
  • If a mulliganed Starting Hand contains Ioreth, you must either: choose another unique Ally to become a Hero for this game (depending on the specific Quest) or; concede the Quest and begin setup again.
  • Turn 1 is about finding Vilya and surviving. If you don’t have Vilya, play some combination of Master of the Forge, Heed the Dream and Gather Information. Utilise Elrond and Gandalf to Quest enough to avoid Threat increase and defend if necessary (though don’t be afraid of a small undefended Enemy Attack if necessary). If you have a resource remaining and damage on a Hero, use (MotK) Ioreth to heal that Hero before the end of Turn 1 so that she readies again at the end.
  • Once Vilya is in play, start bringing in the high cost Allies and support cards. In general, use Vilya for the high cost Allies while using resources for low cost Allies and support cards. Once you are set up you will quickly get ahead of the curve on most Quests.

I would welcome any feedback or comments.

2 comments

Nov 06, 2020 doomguard 547

another soulution is motk gallion. he has also a thread of 1 and gives you access to the spirit-shere. means courage is playable with gandalf from the top 1. round, and more flexibility with test of will, light of valinor, elronds council... before elrond has the ring and elrond can use his res for more important matters.

Nov 06, 2020 AJ_800 187

@doomguardThank you for taking a look at the deck!

I did seriously consider (MotK) Galion because of the access to as you rightly say but I was put off by the fact that his ability would be wasted.

Then once I started looking at (MotK) Ioreth, I saw the other benefits that she brought, such as healing.

The final factor that made the decision for me was seeing that (MotK) Ioreth and Elrond between them have two resources on Turn 1, when I need to play Master of the Forge or Heed the Dream if I have not yet found Vilya.

I do agree with you that this slightly decreases the immediate usefulness of A Test of Will and Elrond's Counsel but, given that those two cards are less likely to be needed on Turn 1 because of the low starting threat, I felt that the extra resource early on was a better way of getting the core elements of the deck up and running consistently.