“Yes, they are Elves,” said Legolas; “and they say that you breathe so loud that they could shoot you in the dark.” Sam hastily put his hand over his mouth. “But they also say that you need have no fear. They have been aware of us for a long while. They heard my voice across the Nimrodel, and knew I was one of their Northern kindred.”
–J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring
At its heart, The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game is a game of exploration and adventure. Each new scenario introduces new quests for you to undertake, along with a new set of locations to explore and the enemies that haunt them. Meanwhile, even as they introduce new scenarios, the game’s Adventure Packs and deluxe expansions allow you and your friends to explore new regions of Middle-earth, from the Shadows of Mirkwood to the mines of Khazad-dûm and the tumultuous lands surrounding Isengard.
Additionally, as the game’s expansions allow you to adventure through an ever-expanding selection of difficult terrain and iconic locations, they offer new heroes and player cards for you to include in your decks. Of course, since The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game isn’t competitive, but is instead a cooperative Living Card Game® , there’s no metagame compelling you to improve upon your existing decks or crushed by your rivals. Still, fans do change their decks, but they do so more out of a spirit of exploration and adventure, to try new things…
Today, in the first of two Second Breakfast articles dedicated to an exploration of The Ring-maker cycle of Adventure Packs, developer Matthew Newman looks at the cycle’s Silvan Elves and the many options they now present.
Yes, They Are Elves
With the release of The Antlered Crown just around the corner and The Ring-maker cycle coming to a close, I wanted to look at how the Elves of Middle-earth have grown in The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game . In particular, the Silvan trait has seen a lot of love in this past cycle, and we’re very excited to see the kinds of decks players form with these new Silvan cards.
The Silvan Elves of The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game are unlike any other trait-based collection of characters in the game. Subtle and tricky, they prefer to use hit-and-run tactics and tend to work from behind the scenes, much unlike companies of Men or Dwarves. To represent this, all of the new Silvan allies from this cycle have Response effects that trigger when they enter play, and each sphere has an event card that allows you to return a Silvan ally to your hand to trigger a powerful effect.
Since these Silvan decks rely upon their subtlety and tricks, it’s important to learn when best to take advantage of your allies and events. To help illustrate how these allies and events can work together, I’d like to share two Elf-themed decks that exhibit the strengths of the Elves of Lothlórien and Mirkwood. These decks are built with a very heavy emphasis on theme, and both of them can be built simultaneously from a single card pool, consisting of only one copy of the Core Set and one copy each of several Adventure Packs. While strong in their own right, these decks are designed to work together. When played by two players with a mind for cooperation, they become a powerful company that can tackle many quests!
Today we’ll look at the first of these two decks, which I call The Elven Highborn .
2x Arwen Undómiel
3x Defender of the Naith ( Trouble in Tharbad , 65)
1x Galadhrim Minstrel
3x Galadriel’s Handmaiden ( Celebrimbor’s Secret , 117)
3x Gandalf ( Core Set , 73)
2x Lórien Guide ( Core Set , 44)
3x Naith Guide ( The Dunland Trap , 2)
1x Orophin ( Celebrimbor’s Secret , 114)
2x Silvan Refugee
2x Silverlode Archer ( Core Set , 17)
Light of Valinor
Foundations of Stone
1x Mirror of Galadriel ( Celebrimbor’s Secret , 118)
2x Nenya ( Celebrimbor’s Secret , 121)
3x O Lórien! ( Trouble in Tharbad , 58)
1x Unexpected Courage
2x A Test of Will
2x Children of the Sea ( The Blood of Gondor , 113)
3x Elrond’s Counsel ( The Watcher in the Water , 59)
3x Feigned Voices ( The Three Trials , 27)
2x Hasty Stroke
2x Island Amid Perils ( The Nin-in-Eilph , 90)
2x Sneak Attack ( Core Set , 23)
2x Stand and Fight ( Core Set , 51)
1x The Tree People ( The Dunland Trap , 9)
Playing The Elven Highborn
The Elven Highborn takes heavy advantage of the strengths of the Silvan trait, and features both the Lady and Lord of Lórien, Galadriel and Celeborn.
These two heroes enhance every ally you play and increase the value of bringing a Silvan ally back into your hand to play again later. For example, if you play a Naith Guide, she can use her Response , quest with two Willpower, and attack with two Attack Strength, all in the same turn. Then, using Feigned Voices, Island Amid Perils, or The Tree People, you can bring her back into your hand, and she can do it all over again the next turn.
With O Lórien! and the fact that Elrond can pay for allies of any sphere, you can reliably play one to two allies every turn, so long as you have them in your hand. If any of these allies are destroyed, both Stand and Fight and Orophin can bring them back from your discard pile, triggering their Response abilities and benefiting from Celeborn and Galadriel all over again. Sneak Attack is also a great card to play with this deck, even if you don’t draw a powerful ally like Gandalf, because it allows you to take full advantage of the above synergies.
With Light of Valinor, Naith Guide, Nenya, and many high Willpower allies, this deck has little trouble questing. In fact, Celeborn and Galadriel are so effective that even more combat-focused allies like the Silverlode Archer and Defender of the Naith can contribute to the quest on the turn they enter play. Lórien Guide is a bit expensive and has no Response when she enters play, but if you can save some resources by cheating her into play with The Tree People, she can help prevent you from becoming stuck at an active location with a high quest point value. Finally, if you’re having trouble finding the many pieces of this deck that combo together, the Mirror of Galadriel is a great way to dig through your deck for a clutch event like Feigned Voices or Sneak Attack, or one of the deck’s other attachments, which are important to put into play as early as possible.
Unfortunately, this deck does have some weaknesses. While it can defend fairly well with some healthy heroes and Defender of the Naith, its only particularly strong attacker is the Silverlode Archer. Typically, taking care of a powerful enemy requires the combined strength of several Silvan allies, preferably all played on the same turn to take full advantage of Celeborn’s ability. The deck’s rather high starting threat can also be an issue, although Elrond’s Counsel, Galadriel’s Handmaiden, and Galadriel herself can all help to lower your threat to a safer level. Finally, while O Lórien! can help pay for allies and many of the deck’s events and allies function as a form of pseudo card draw, there aren’t a lot of ways for you to quickly gain lots of resources or cards, which means your first few turns will be a slow boil until you reach Elven Critical Mass.
Customizing The Elven Highborn
As always, there are many ways in which a good deck can be customized to suit your own needs or express your own creativity. For example, you may wish to take out several “bounce” events such as Children of the Sea, replacing them with more allies from the Leadership, Spirit, or Lore spheres. You may also wish to include more threat control, or more attachments to build up the deck’s already formidable heroes.
The Elven Highborn is built with the theme of the Silvans and Lothlórien in mind, so there are many cards that have been left out in order to complement this theme, such as Steward of Gondor ( Core Set , 26). If you find the deck lacking without these cards, you can easily add them in. You may also wish to include Elrond’s ring, Vilya ( Shadow and Flame , 137), as well as a few Imladris Stargazers ( Foundations of Stone , 106), in order to take advantage of the ring’s ability. Finally, the addition of a second Core Set would allow you to include more copies of A Test of Will and Unexpected Courage, if you desire more of them.
The Woodland Realms Unite!
While it’s decent on its own, The Elven Highborn is designed to pair with another deck, The Spear of Mirkwood , which I will cover in another Second Breakfast article next week. Be sure to drop by for a description of that deck, as well as some interesting strategies to keep in mind when playing these two decks together!
The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game is a cooperative card game that puts 1-2 players (or up to four with an additional Core Set) in control of the most powerful characters and artifacts of Middle-earth. Players will select heroes, gather allies, acquire artifacts, and coordinate their efforts to face Middle-earth’s most dangerous fiends. The Living Card Game format allows players to customize their gaming experience with monthly Adventure Pack expansions to the core game.