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The Lure of the Ring, Part Two

Copyright Pierre Jonas 'Pej' Castillo ©2002

Edited by Nigel Buckle for The Guild Companion

Last time, I presented a Fallen-wizard One Ring deck to illustrate a former article I wrote about One Ring strategies. This time, we're going to take a look at a minion One Ring strategy I once played. Before we proceed, I would like to extend my thanks to Nigel Buckle for the editing of my last article.

THE HUNT FOR THE RING

A minion One Ring deck


PREFERRED STARTING COMPANY
  • Dunlending Spy
  • Elerína
  • Luitprand
  • Odoacer
  • The Grimburgoth
  • Uchel
IN-DECK CHARACTERS
  • Pon Opar
  • Taladhan
  • The Mouth
RINGWRAITHS
  • Ren the Ringwraith x2
  • Ûvatha the Ringwraith
STARTING RESOURCES
  • Open to the Summons x2

I designed the starting company in such a way that you have 2 scouts, 2 rangers and 2 sages - as well as to prevent your opponent from playing Alone and Unadvised (very popular with my playgroup) on the company. My original starting company was composed of just The Grimburgoth and Taladhan for small hazard limits, but Alone and Unadvised became a frequent threat so I had to change the company size from 2 to four. Pon Opar and Taladhan act as back-up characters in case someone in your starting company dies. Of course, they can also be put in the starting company if the draft does not proceed as planned. The Mouth will be used to recycle your resources during the game. If your opponent is also a minion, chances are he'll be including The Mouth in his deck as well using his recycling ability every organization phase, so it would be better if you do not play the Mouth permanently in the table. Plus, his creature manifestation is very popular and you might end up returning him to your hand anyway. You may still want to add more characters in the deck, especially the sages so as there are enough of them to test those rings and play the other sage only cards in your resource deck.

Ren is the main Ringwraith as his +2 to the corruption checks of your characters will help considerably. Remember that you will be carrying rings, and all minion gold rings act like a Lure of the Senses on any character carrying them, so you need to be prepared. vatha will be the back-up Ringwraith as he will be useful for recycling helpful resources.

RESOURCES (30)

ITEMS
  • A Little Gold Ring x3
  • The Least of Gold Rings x3
  • Scroll of Isildur (M)
  • The One Ring (Minion)
SUPPORT RESOURCES
  • A Nice Place to Hide x3
  • All Thought Bent Upon It x2
  • An Untimely Whisper x3
  • Black Horse/Black Rider
  • Black Rain x2
  • Crept Along Cleverly x3
  • Test of Fire x3
  • Voices of Malice x2
  • Weigh All Things to Nicety x2
  • While the Yellow Face Sleeps

I divided the resource half into 2 One Ring sub-strategies: the test strategy and the Black Rain strategy.

For the test strategy, I included 3 copies each of the best gold ring items to use when playing a minion One Ring: 3 of A Little Gold Ring and 3 of The Least of Gold Rings. You may wonder: why not put instead 3 copies Gold Ring that Sauron Fancies instead of 3 copies of The Least of Gold Rings? While it is true that Gold Ring that Sauron Fancies has a better chance of getting the One out, it has a lower frequency of play compared to The Least of Gold Rings. We already have three gold rings that can only be played at Bag End/Ruins & Lairs sites (A Little Gold Ring); to have 6 of them would be very difficult to manage. The Least of Gold Rings, on the other hand, can be played at all gold ring sites, and for this deck, speed is a very important factor. I'll discuss it further below.

In addition to the Scroll, I also included inside the deck The One Ring itself. There's a reason for this: the gold ring items forces its bearers to perform corruption checks every untap phase, and over time, that can be dangerous. The only way to counter that is by either playing one gold ring at a time or testing them immediately. You cannot take the chance of playing slow as your opponent might grab the opportunity to collect enough MPs for the win or get the One out much earlier (especially when it's a hero opponent), so there's no other choice but to test them immediately. That's why there are 3 copies of Test of Fire in the deck so one can be readily available when you need it. Of course, if you're going to test them, you need the One to be available as well. Hence, it's in the deck. No need to sideboard it in (unlike hero players). In case you draw it too early, don't worry. The Mouth or a Weigh All Things to a Nicety is there ready to recycle it. Additionally, both will also be used to recycle the test cards, gold rings and other support resources in case you run out.

As I mentioned earlier, you should take note of the difficulty of getting to play the gold ring items. A Little Gold Ring can only be played at Bag End or Ruins & Lairs sites where gold rings are playable. Bandit Lair is definitely on top of the list. Next to it is Hermit's Hill which you cannot use for this particular deck, as you do not have minor items to give up. Your next best choice of sites is the nasty Dragon Lairs (use the 3 Crept Along Cleverly cards!). If you're going to base your strategy near Minas Morgul (which I recommend so as it will be near to Barad-dr), using the appropriate sites for getting gold rings can be difficult (but not impossible).

As for the Black Rain technique, I've included 2 copies of that card plus 3 copies of An Untimely Whisper so you can look at your opponent's hand. That way, you'll know when to play Black Rain. I originally placed 3 copies of Rain in the deck, but it was too much. Most of my opponents here play with few characters in their decks and the card can be virtually useless for such decks, ending up getting clogged in my hand. That's why I replaced one copy with some other useful card.

I've also included one Black Horse for my Ringwraith so he can travel from Minas Morgul up to Barad-dr to deliver the Ring to the Dark Lord. However, it can be quite dangerous, too. If Black Horse leaves active play, your Ringwraith returns to your hand. That means the Ring, on its way back to its Master, goes bye-bye, too. You definitely don't want that to happen on your last and possible winning turn, right?

While the Yellow Face Sleeps will help you cycle through your deck faster by giving you an extra card in your hand. You can afford to hold the One Ring card (or some other vital combo card) while still having enough slots in your hand for other cards.

Also, the great thing about a minion One Ring deck is that you don't need Gollum (or Stinker) anymore, or other support resources in the sideboard like heroes do, so that saves card slots in your deck for other useful support cards.

One thing to remember when playing the resource half is to always play it fast and furious. You have to play the resources whenever they can be played: even if you don't have the One yet in your hand, test the gold rings - you don't want your characters running away with corruption; always play Black Rain and the Untimely Whispers you'll never know when your opponent may have a character in his hand. You can afford it because you have the recyclers available: The Mouth and Weigh all Things to a Nicety. Of course, that does not necessarily mean that you should not have a strategic course of action. The point here is that you need to be fast because a minion One Ring deck is much slower to set-up compared to a hero and you can't afford to waste a turn.

HAZARDS (30) - vs. Heroes

  • Adûnaphel
  • An Unexpected Outpost x3
  • Assassin x2
  • Call of Home x2
  • Cave-drake x2
  • Doors of Night x2
  • Giant Spiders x3
  • Many Sorrows Befall
  • Marsh-drake x2
  • Mouth of Sauron
  • Rebel-talk x2
  • Rolled down to the Sea
  • Sellswords Between Charters x2
  • Shut Yer Mouth x2
  • So You've Come Back x2
  • Twilight x2

HAZARDS (30) - vs. Minions

  • Adûnaphel
  • An Unexpected Outpost x2
  • Assassin x2
  • Cave-drake x3
  • Call of Home x2
  • Doors of Night x2
  • Elf-lord Revealed in Wrath x2
  • Giant Spiders x3
  • Landroval
  • Mouth of Sauron
  • Rebel-talk x2
  • Rolled Down to the Sea
  • Shut Yer Mouth x2
  • Sellswords Between Charters x2
  • So You've Come Back x2
  • Twilight x2

The creatures are pretty much the same creatures I usually put in my hazard deck (whose main purpose is to kill of your opponent's characters like the Assassins and Elf-lords), with a little modification: the Giant Spiders can be helpful to discard important characters your opponent needs in his strategy. He might want to bring them back in play, and that can help you when playing Black Rain. The support hazard events are mainly influence destruction cards that can also help your resource Black Rain strategy by taking out your opponent's key characters. Always recycle these hazards using the 3 Outposts so you can ruin your opponent's companies.

SIDEBOARD (30) - vs. Heroes

  • Sudden Call
  • Alone and Unadvised x3
  • Assassin
  • Foolish Words x3
  • Lure of Expedience x3
  • Lure of Nature x3
  • Lure of the Senses x3
  • News of Doom
  • No Escape from My Magic
  • River x3
  • Slayer x3
  • The Precious
  • The Ring Will Have But One Master
  • The Will of the Ring
  • Will Shaken x2

SIDEBOARD (30) - vs. Minions

  • Sudden Call
  • Alone and Unadvised x2
  • Covetous Thoughts x3
  • Foolish Words x2
  • Lord of the Carrock
  • Lure of Expedience x2
  • Lure of Nature x2
  • Lure of the Senses x2
  • News of Doom
  • No Escape from My Magic
  • River x3
  • Spider of the Mrlat
  • The Precious
  • The Ring Will Have But One Master
  • The Will of the Ring
  • Thranduil's Folk x2
  • Wild Fell Beast x2
  • Will Shaken x2

ANTI-FW SIDEBOARD (10)

  • Cruel Claw Perceived
  • Fool's Bane
  • Inner Rot
  • Mask Torn
  • Power Relinquished to Artifice
  • Something Else at Work
  • Blind to the West x2
  • Ire of the East x2

The cards in the sideboard are mainly hazards designed to foil any specific hazards your opponent might be playing that your hazard deck hasn't got covered. You may notice that there are many corruption cards. That's because my playgroup just really loves to play that strategy, so might as well fight fire with fire. Of course, you can modify it depending upon the usual strategies your playgroup may use.

I hope this article is interesting and a useful guide to all of you who want to play as the bad guys and get the Ring back to the Dark Lord. Go ahead and make Middle-earth a truly evil place to live in.

Editors Notes:


Pej has provided a solid deck to consider when building a minion one ring deck, however I'd make a few changes if I were following such a strategy. I think the deck as it stands is too slow for a competitive tournament environment, and the addition of Black Rain further dilutes the focus most players would ensure Black Rain doesn't produce a ring by discarding excess characters or playing them as 'bluff' cards on-guard, and fast competitive decks are usually light on excess characters in any case. Also I think it's a mistake to try to get your Ringwraith mobile to move the ring, While the Yellow Face Sleeps is in the deck for the card advantage, but that is lost when you move better to keep Ren at home (to help with the corruption checks) and include Bade to Rule so you can play more characters if necessary.

The changes I'd make are:

Remove 6 resources:
  • Black Rain x2
  • Black Horse/Rider
  • An Untimely Whisper x3
Add 6 resources:
  • Dark Tryst x3
  • Weigh All Things to a Nicety
  • Above the Abyss x2 (vs. Hero)
  • Bade to Rule (vs. Minion)
  • Ancient Secrets (vs. Minion)

It's worth removing Uvatha against heroes and adding additional copy of Ren (against minions you need a backup plan if your opponent gets Ren first).

Additionally I'd put several cards in the sideboard that allow companies to move multiple times (Leg it Double Quick, Forced March) to bring in for the 2nd deck cycle or earlier if you get the one. Finally I'd consider using the Palantir of Annuminas to recycle the ring test cards but then you need a suitable character to use it.

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