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AJ_800 has a newer deck inspired by this one: Aran Naur
- Provide a toolbox of options so that the deck can be played against various quests, including those that the player has not played before.
- Use a wide range of Allies to avoid wasting Vilya and provide solutions to multiple challenges.
- Keep Starting Threat under 30 to give the Vilya engine time to set up before larger enemies engage.
- Utilise Word of Command as a reliable way to get the key cards into play, and then as a toolbox for the wide range of Allies, Attachments and Events.
- Utilise Flame of Anor as an attack swing and readying effect, taking advantage of the high cost Allies that are already in the deck for Vilya to target.
- Add a range of readying effects, all of which can be used by Gandalf.
(MotK) Ioreth as the third Hero
- (MotK) Ioreth generates a resource that can be used for Master of the Forge and Word of Command 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 take damage in the early game if necessary.
- The reliable source of healing removes the need for Warden of Healing, freeing up deck space.
- Being able to remove one copy of Ioreth 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.
- There are two copies of Ioreth in the deck. The reasons for this are: to allow for a confident mulligan for Vilya with minimal chance of not leaving at least one copy in the deck for Messenger of the King to target and; to provide a backup copy to be played as an Ally if (MotK) Ioreth is destroyed (which will also remove Messenger of the King from the game).
- 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 Allies of any sphere, and resources from Gandalf can be used if she is the top card of the deck.
- Unexpected Courage and Shadowfax and maximise the usage of Elrond and Gandalf. It is worth putting multiple readying Attachments on Gandalf in order to maximise the impact of Flame of Anor and reduce the impact of Word of Command.
- Elrond's Counsel is the deck’s main 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. A single copy of The Galadhrim's Greeting can be searched for with Word of Command if necessary,
- Beorn serves two major functions while in play: he can soak up damage and be healed by (MotK) Ioreth and; he can get a single-turn boost and go back into the deck. There are three copies because he is also the primary target to be discarded from the top of the deck to give Gandalf +6 when playing Flame of Anor.
- Firyal is the other unique Ally with three copies in the deck. This is because her ability to look at and discard the top card of the encounter deck is incredibly powerful against some of the more unforgiving quests.
- Anborn, Elfhelm, Faramir, Gildor Inglorion, Glorfindel, Jubayr, Northern Tracker, Treebeard and Yazan present a range of cost 4-5 Allies to be brought into play with Vilya or discarded from the top of the deck when playing Flame of Anor. Some are stronger than others, but keeping them at one card each avoids uniqueness issues and allows for a customised approach to each quest thanks to Word of Command.
- 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 can be used to allow Gandalf to Attack two enemies, 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. Played this way, Gandalf will be ready in step 6.8.4. so the process loops to step 6.8. to begin another Attack. If Gandalf also has Unexpected Courage and/or Shadowfax ready, he could continue to declare Attacks against other enemies, all with the Flame of Anor bonus.
- Gandalf's Staff, Narya and Expert Treasure-hunter are toolbox cards that can be kept at one copy thanks to Word of Command. Narya works well with Faramir, allowing him to use his ability twice for a big boost on questing characters.
- The Great Hunt is very useful in the right situation. It can be played for free using Vilya, or it can be paid for by playing it from the top of the deck with Gandalf's ability (as he is considered to have the printed sphere when playing cards this way). Played correctly, this card can remove a large enemy such as a Hill Troll in Journey Along the Anduin.
How to Play
- Mulligan for Vilya, or a way to find it (Master of the Forge or Word of Command depending on the circumstances). In the unlikely situation where your second (post-mulligan) Starting Hand contains both copies of Ioreth, you will have to choose another unique Ally to become a Hero (be conscious of your threat level in this situation).
- Turn 1 is about finding Vilya and surviving. If you don’t have Vilya, play some combination of Master of the Forge and Word of Command. Quest enough to avoid threat increase. Defend if necessary though don’t be afraid of a small undefended Enemy Attack.
- Utilise (MotK) Ioreth to heal damage when needed, though it is best to do this at the end of the Combat Phase. This avoids her being killed by effects that damage exhausted characters and still allows her to be readied in the Refresh Phase.
- Play other exhausting effects at the end of the Combat Phase unless you absolutely need to use them before. This maximises your options during the prior phases and still allows the exhausted characters to ready during the Refresh Phase.
- 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.
I would welcome any feedback or comments.