News for May 2013
Second Breakfast with the Men of Gondor
A Look at The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game by the Developers
The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game | Published 07 May 2013

Take a break from your quest and set down your pack. Every adventurer needs a chance to rest and recuperate. Take off your shoes and rub the soreness out of your feet. It’s time for rest and Second Breakfast…

Today, The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game developer Matt Newman shares a deck made to highlight the strengths of the Men of Gondor.

Second Breakfast with The Lord of the Rings Developer, Matt Newman

In our first two helpings of Second Breakfast, Caleb Grace presented a couple of his favorite decks: one focusing on Ranged heroes and Bard the Bowman’s Great Yew Bow (The Hobbit: On the Doorstep, 14), the other focusing on strong questing power and cards with the Rohan trait. In today’s installment, I’d like to take a moment to share the deck I’ve been using, both in our playtest sessions and outside the office.

Gondor, Bulwark of the West

“By our valour the wild folk of the East are still restrained, and the terror of Morgul kept at bay; and thus alone are peace and freedom maintained in the lands behind us, bulwark of the West.”
–Boromir, The Fellowship of the Ring

Ever since I first read The Lord of the Rings, my favorite of Middle-earth’s many people have always been the men of Gondor. Gondor’s long and interesting legacy dates back to the days of Númenor, and it contains many different people, places, and sub-groups. There’s Imrahil of Dol Amroth, Faramir and the Rangers of Ithilien, Beregond and the Guards of the Citadel, and of course, Boromir, Captain-General of the White Tower.

Many readers remember the people of Gondor for their flaws – Denethor’s fall to corruption and Boromir’s attempt to take the One Ring from Frodo – but I choose to remember the Men of Gondor for their strength and vigilance.

Gondor has always faced the shadow of Mordor head on. While others hid in their forests or their mountains, Gondor had little choice but to stand tall and proud, to defend its borders, and to serve as the shield wall of the West. In that same spirit, this deck excels at defending against the forces of shadow, supporting others through resource generation, and recruiting cheap and effective soldiers. Also, it only requires one copy of the Core Set, the Heirs of Númenor deluxe expansion, and just a handful of cards from other expansions.

Boromir (Heirs of Númenor, 2)
Aragorn (Core Set, 1)
Beregond (Heirs of Númenor, 1)

Citadel Custodian x3
Defender of Rammas x3
Errand-rider x3
Envoy of Pelargir x3
Faramir x2
Gandalf (Core Set, 73) x3
Gondorian Spearman x3
Guard of the Citadel x3

Celebrían’s Stone x1
Citadel Plate x1
Gondorian Shield (The Steward’s Fear, 5) x3
Horn of Gondor x1
Spear of the Citadel x3
Steward of Gondor x2
Sword that was Broken (The Watcher in the Water, 55) x2

Behind Strong Walls x3
Ever Vigilant x2
Goblin-cleaver (The Hobbit: Over Hill and Under Hill, 16) x2
Sneak Attack x2
Valiant Sacrifice x2
Wealth of Gondor x3

With its starting heroes, Boromir, Aragorn, and Beregond, this deck boasts some fantastic defense and attack strength right out of the gate. What’s that, you say? My starting threat of thirty-three is too high? What? Are you scared of the Orcs and the Trolls? We are Men of Gondor. Let them come!

Playing the Deck

If I’m lucky, my opening hand will contain Steward of Gondor (Core Set, 26), which allows Aragorn to activate his Response every turn; it also gives him the Gondor trait, opening him up to greater synergy with the rest of the deck. My starting hand will usually have at least one Weapon or Armor attachment that I can throw on Beregond for free, freeing up his resource for an Envoy of Pelargir (Heirs of Númenor, 18). Or, if I have Wealth of Gondor (Heirs of Númenor, 6), I can throw a second resource on him and put out an early Gondorian Spearman (Core Set, 29) or Defender of Rammas (Heirs of Númenor, 7). I might also throw a Horn of Gondor (Core Set, 42) on Beregond in order to accelerate his resource generation for later turns.

Where this deck really shines is defense. To that end, Gondorian Shield quickly becomes the centerpiece for this deck. Drop one on Beregond for free and he suddenly becomes a six-Defense Strength powerhouse. Throwing one on Boromir or Aragorn (once he has taken up the Stewardship) boosts either hero to four Defense, which is nothing to mock. Using Spear of the Citadel (Heirs of Númenor, 9), I can sometimes kill enemies just by defending over the course of several turns, often without taking any damage. This process can be accelerated using Goblin-cleaver and exhausting a Spear of the Citadel before defending. In this way, Behind Strong Walls (Heirs of Númenor, 8) becomes an ever better card than Feint (Core Set, 34), because I can defend with Beregond, ready him, give him an additional point of defense, and then defend against a different enemy, dealing damage to both with Spear of the Citadel! There are very few enemies this deck truly fears.

Of course, defending against hordes of enemies is only one avenue to victory. This deck also includes several cards to muster Willpower for the quest. With Faramir (Core Set, 14) and Sword that was Broken, every ally is inspired to greatness, even all those allies who start with one or zero Willpower. If I really need to focus on my questing, I can use Ever Vigilant (Core Set, 20) to ready Faramir and use his ability a second time, giving my army of characters an additional Willpower boost.

Two Heads Are Better Than One

This deck performs adequately in solo play, but it has its weaknesses: a lack of healing, card draw, threat reduction, and location control. However, these can be mitigated when you play with more than one player. This deck really shines when paired up with a deck that wants to avoid enemies, because I can snatch up as many enemies as possible and defend against each, freeing my partner to do what he does best. I might even throw in a copy or two of The Hammerstroke (The Blood of Gondor, 111) so I can engage every enemy in play, keeping my teammates safe. In longer games, I occasionally end up with more resources than I know what to do with, but I can use Errand-rider (Heirs of Númenor, 3) to share the wealth with my fellow players. Playing with others also allows this deck to benefit from their threat reduction and card-drawing effects.

Caleb and I have had a lot of fun pairing this deck with his “Archery” deck. These decks have great synergy, as I can usually handle defending against every enemy in play, and Legolas (Core Set, 5) and Bard the Bowman (The Hobbit: On the Doorstep, 3) can snipe the enemies one by one while they’re engaged with me. Defending against five or more enemies at the same time sounds dangerous, but this deck makes it look easy. Backed up by Caleb’s archers, we have on more than one occasion cleared the entire board of enemies in a single combat phase…without taking a single point of damage in the endeavor.

I hope you’ve had fun reading about these three decks that Caleb and I often use when playtesting the new scenarios your fellowships will face. And there’s plenty to look forward to: The Steward’s Fear is shipping to stores right now and will soon launch you into the exciting adventures of the whole Against the Shadow cycle!

    –Matt Newman, Associate LCG Developer

Thanks, Matt!

As we head into the Against the Shadow cycle, one of the most exciting things about Matt’s deck is that it will only get stronger. The Men of Gondor look to gain strength throughout the cycle, but they’ll need it! They face the hordes of Mordor to their East and dark conspirators within their walls. They’ll need to make all the allies they can as they seek to protect their own, and the adventures of this dramatic cycle all begin with The Steward’s Fear!

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.

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