MoD #1: Introduction

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Some Sort 2727

This summer, Old Tobey and I were playing through the quests in release order. When we reached Dwarrowdelf, we thought it'd be fun to both run Dwarf decks.

I actually love Dwarf decks. Normally I'm all about the jank, but Thorin Oakenshield, Ori, and Bombur is one of my favorite hero lineups. It's not tricksy, but they're all so solid, they're thematic, and they complement each other well. Plus they bring the "5 dwarves" mechanic out to its full potential.

Once you've got your fifth dwarf out, Ori gets you an extra card and Thorin gets you an extra resource every round. Bombur ensures that you only need one more dwarf to hit the bonus, and with two Lore dwarves, there are a whopping 15 dwarves you can play on the first turn (Erebor Hammersmith, Erebor Record Keeper, Ered Nimrais Prospector, Miner of the Iron Hills, and the neutral Ered Luin Miner).

With so many viable targets, there's a 99.3% chance you'll have one in your opening hand (factoring in the mulligan but ignoring draw effects such as Daeron's Runes or We Are Not Idle, which both increase these odds). Because of this, Bombur (the overlooked Dwarf) is basically a Dwarven version of the much-loved Leadership Denethor; Denethor has a low threat cost and gets you two extra resources in the first round and a solid defender besides, Bombur has a low threat cost and gets you an extra resource and an extra card in the second round and a solid defender besides.

Normally with a two-sphere deck you need to have a "major" sphere and a "minor" sphere, since you'll get twice as many of one type of resource as the other. But with that core trio of heroes you get two Lore and two Leadership resources per round, meaning you can do a true 50/50 split.

Plus the rest of Thorin's Company is so interesting and thematic. It plays straightforward, but it doesn't feel all that straightforward. It's interesting, dynamic, solid, and most of all, fun. I love it.

But Tobey's playing that deck so I don't get it. I'm stuck building Dáin Ironfoot.

I've always felt that Dain is an important historical artifact. He was one of the very first "power heroes" we got and powered a lot of players through the toughest quests over the first few cycles. He's really, really, really, really good.

But in terms of deckbuilding, he's just... boring. He doesn't let you do anything new like Dúnhere or Caldara. He doesn't help you pull off weird things more consistently like Beravor or Arwen Undómiel. He's not a low-threat splash like Glorfindel or Merry and he doesn't solve any early-game problems like Éowyn or Beregond.

Instead, he just... takes numbers and makes them a little bit bigger. He's basically Outlands with less math and more beards. So while he's really, really good, I generally don't touch him. He's boring to build, he's boring to play.

But I also recognize that any issues here aren't Dain's issues, they're mine. If he's boring, it's a failure of creativity in my part. And this is a great opportunity to work through my issues with the big purple dwarf king. As a result, I'm setting myself a challenge. There are 9 quests in Khazad Dum and the Dwarrowdelf cycle. So I'm going to make 9 entirely different, mechanically distinct Dain decks and play a different one against each quest.

I'm calling this series "Musings on Dáin", and I'm going to use these 9 decks to work through and codify my thoughts on the hero and perhaps get past my aversion to him.


This is Deck #1 in the "Musings on Dáin" (MoD) series, so I figured I'd start at the beginning.

Dain boosts every dwarf's willpower and attack by one. How do you take advantage of that ability? You play a lot of dwarves. Additionally, because he hits every dwarf at the table, Dain's power gets extreme in multiplayer. So here's a basic, bog-standard multiplayer Dain deck.

My partner is running Thorin's Company, which locks me out of most of the unique dwarves. (I've gotten special dispensation to use Bifur and Nori because... well... there aren't exactly any non-unique dwarf heroes.) To highlight the power of Dain in multiplayer, I've eschewed all other uniques (other than Core Set Gandalf) so there are no potential conflicts with any deck I might happen to pair with.

Other than the huge stat boost he provides to the entire table, the only other noteworthy thing about Dain is that he's actually a pretty solid defender, provided you have a way to ready him again afterward (to turn back on the global attack boost). In fact, some emergency readying is never a bad idea, so I've tossed in a bit of that, too.

This isn't meant to be the best Dain deck possible. There's not nearly enough draw and resource acceleration for that. Instead, it's the sort of Dain deck I might have built when I first started building decks, a basic-but-effective list that carries you along while you figure out what matters and what doesn't.

It just kind of putters along and spits out a few dwarves here and there and eventually just sort of overwhelms the quest. It's the kind of basic, bog-standard Dain deck that I hate building and I hate playing.

But in any endeavor, it's important to start at the beginning.

1 comments

Dec 16, 2020 GreenWizard 73

I TOTALLY agree! Dain is boring. I love your idea. I should really try that too. Thanks for the great read.