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The Hunt for the Ring

MECCG: Minion Roadblock

Copyright Nigel Buckle ©2002

Edited by Nicholas H.M. Caldwell for The Guild Companion

This article continues on the theme of my recent articles giving hero players advice on how to play against the newer alignments, but in a slightly different way.

In this article, I'm going to give a fairly competitive minion deck that has a nasty hazard strategy. You could play this deck yourself, or use it as an example of what minion decks can sometimes be like and try to build a hero deck that can compete against it.

When I see a deck list on the internet, or in a magazine it is not always obvious how the deck should be played or why certain cards have been included (or excluded), so I will also explain how the deck is supposed to work.

In this deck, I've not worried about trying not to use cards from the later sets, because to sensibly consider building a minion deck, you need a number of cards from Lidless Eye at least.

Character Draft (10)

  • *Herion
  • *Lagduf
  • *Shagrat
  • *The Grimburgoth
  • Asternak
  • Dsakn
  • Grishnakh
  • Monid
  • Pon Opar
  • Ugluk
*= Ideal characters
Minor Items: Open to the Summons x2

Ideal Starting Companies [start at Minas Morgul]

Company 1:
  • The Grimburgoth with Open to the Summons
  • Controlling Herion with Open to the Summons

Company 2:

  • Shagrat
  • Controlling Lagduf

This gives you 2 starting companies, one covert (men) and one overt (orcs), both with a small hazard limit and relatively high prowess and the essential Ranger skill. Once you put the smaller characters under direct influence, you're only using 13 points of GI leaving plenty to start a third company as soon as you draw appropriate characters. Dsakn you would have to play at one of his home sites, but as you won't be playing a Ringwraith you can play him fairly easily under GI.

Character Pool (for the deck)

Badulia (to use as a hazard agent) and some unused characters from the draft. You also have some characters in the sideboard too. You should include enough characters to bring your MP (character) total to around 12 (excluding Baduila). The actual number of characters you use depends on the types of deck you expect to face (to replace dead characters) and your playing style. As the characters are Orcs and Men, any can combine to form a viable 3rd (and possibly 4th) company, as you'll have around 14 spare GI for characters once The Lidless Eye is played.

Resources (30)

  • Blasting Fire (x2)
  • Bold Thrust (x3)
  • Broad-headed Spear (x3)
  • Come By Night (x3)
  • Dark Tryst (x3)
  • Great Bats
  • High Helm
  • Morgul Orcs
  • Nurniags
  • Sable Shield
  • Sauron
  • The Dark Power (x2)
  • The Lidless Eye (x3)
  • Twilight
  • Variags of Khand
  • Voices of Malice (x2)
  • War Wolf

Because you are not using a Ringwraith, your deck is lighter on characters/resources than some other decks (30/30 + Ringwraiths and characters). This means you are likely to be drawing more hazards proportionally to resources, which helps your hazard strategy, as it's rather slow. Once you get The Lidless Eye in play you should probably discard a card in the organisation phase (to look at your opponent's hand) in preference to sideboarding unless you really need the character/resource (such as Sudden Call) or you suspect your opponent has Will Shaken. You should end up with 3 or 4 quite strong companies and around 12 points from characters. The idea of the resource deck is to move around Mordor and the adjacent regions in relative safety. Look to play multiple items using Come By Night where possible. You can raid Easterling Camp, Raider Hold, Gobel Mirlond and Southron Oasis for items, but Variag Camp needs to be saved for recruiting the Variags. Also Nurniag Camp should be saved for ideally the Nurniags, Great Bats and the Blasting Fires you may decide to leave a character or two at the (tapped) Camp waiting for the Bats and the Blasting Fire. Depending on how the game progresses, you may have to send a company to operate out of Mirkwood too. Use the sideboard to pull in the appropriate resources to play in that area if required.

Blasting Fire: Play this after you've tapped a Shadow-hold to play something else.

Bold Thrust: Basic combat utility card use it against creatures or automatic attacks.

Broad Headed Spear: Basic non-unique item. As it's a weapon, you can combine its play at a border-hold with Come By Night.

Come By Night: Great card if you're planning to use border-holds. It helps defeat the automatic attack with your company untapped and the first item played doesn't tap the site.

Dark Tryst: Basic minion utility card drawing card. I use 3 in every minion (and 2 in most fallen wizard) decks.

Great Bats: Play this ally at Nurniag Camp as that is a very safe site with no automatic attack, or possibly Mount Doom.

High Helm: A great major item, play it the first opportunity you get.

Morgul Orcs: An easy faction to collect, as Minas Morgul is the haven your companies will use.

Nurniags: A faction playable at a safe site in a safe region ideally you want to collect the Great Bats at the same time.

Sable Shield: Similar to High Helm, don't count on it lasting the whole game if you use it actively in combat.

Sauron: Backup to The Lidless Eye, although it's preferable that The Lidless Eye is used.

The Dark Power: Great helper for influencing factions, with the bonus that if you fail the faction goes back in your deck. Downside is you have to have The Lidless Eye or Sauron in play to use it.

The Lidless Eye: In this deck you're playing as 'Sauron' rather than a Ringwraith. The Lidless Eye is the preferred manifestation to play as you need the extra card in your hand (for your hazard strategy) and you can either sideboard in a marshalling point resource (and Sudden Call) if necessary, or help your deck cycling by discarding a card each organisation phase.

Twilight: (see the section on hazards)

Variags of Khand: Another fairly safe faction to recruit, ideally you would use Come By Night first to play an item before influencing the faction.

Voices of Malice: Standard Utility card use it to discard any really problematic permanent events

War Wolf : The other ally. Mount Doom is probably the safest place to play it.


Key Sideboard Cards (Resources/Characters):

Some of these cards are included to boost your MP total, some if you manage to get 4 companies operating and need more resources to play and some for the 2nd deck cycle for a few more points.

Black Bole: Another Ally, playable at most sites in Mirkwood (Sarn Gorwing is an obvious choice, or Woodmen Town if you don't intend to play the Woodmen)

Easterlings: Another faction either for the 2nd deck cycle, assuming you plundered Easterling Camp for items earlier, or in the 1st cycle, sideboarding it in with The Lidless Eye.

Faithless Steward: Nice easy MPs, play it on Dsakn and move him to one of his homesites on the last turn. Alternatively bring in Risha and use her.

Last Child of Ungoliant: A big ally, but at a very dangerous site; only attempt to play her if you have a big enough company to lose a character to the automatic attack. Given her limited range it's best to save her for a turn just before you end the game.

Long Grievous Siege: Play this on an appropriate faction near the end of the game (you could play it on the Morgul Orcs and use Henneth Annn)

Orc Tracker: A spare non-unique character you can bring in if you have the free GI.

Orcs of Dol-Guldur: Sideboard this faction in if you're desperate for faction points or are planning to operate a company in Mirkwood.

Risha: A spare agent for Faithless Steward if you lose Dsakn or even just for points, remember you have to play agents at their home site.

Ready to His Will: Sideboard this in if your opponent is playing appropriate hazards that this card can turn into an ally (such as Assassins).

Sudden Call: Sideboard this in near the end of the deck cycle.

Tribute Garnered: Play this on a faction you've played earlier for another point. Ideally play it after you and your opponent have cycled decks.

Two-Headed Troll: Another ally, mainly for Mirkwood based companies, but a Mordor based company could make the trip to Buhr Widu if necessary, remember you can play a major item at the site first, then the troll for optimum efficiency.

Woodmen: A faction for a Mirkwood based company.

Hazards (30)

  • *Daelomin At Home
  • *The Mouth of Sauron
  • *Beorning Skin Changers (x3)
  • *Olog Warlords (x3)
  • *Adunaphel
  • *Marsh Drake (x3)
  • *Sellswords Between Charters (x3)
  • Doors of Night (x3)
  • Peril Returned
  • Foul Fumes (x3)
  • Twilight (x2)
  • An Unexpected Outpost (x3)
  • Morgul Night (x3)
* indicates Creatures & Creatures

The hazards are not a typical tournament hazard strategy. This has the advantage of being unexpected, but the disadvantage of not being as fast as 'standard' hazard decks. The main theme is based on a Doors of Night environment, which can take a turn or two (at least) to set-up, so you need to be aware that it's possible for your opponent to get a great start before the hazards start working. Additionally until you have Doors of Night in play, you are likely to have to hold a number of hazards waiting for the chance to play them this means you need fast resources that you don't need to hold, but can be played as soon as they are drawn.

The theme is to turn most of the map into shadow, with Morgul Night and then tap the sites with Foul Fumes. The advantage of this for a minion is most creatures will then attack your companies as detainment and Foul Fumes doesn't affect you at all (your sites won't be tapped). This strategy is supported with creatures that either delay your opponent (while you set-up the environment) or are powerful creatures that benefit from the land being in shadow. The rest of the cards either support the environment or recycle the most effective cards. Also note you have the agent Baduila included in the deck as a character, but it's best to play him out as an agent, and use his roadblock ability on a company moving near his home sites.

Daelomin At Home: Used as a half-creature, you can discard it to increase the hazard limit. Best used on a turn when you can play Doors of Night, Morgul Night then Foul Fumes and hopefully a nasty creature.

The Mouth of Sauron: Use it to recycle a hazard that seems to cause particular problems to your opponent, probably Foul Fumes.

Beorning Skin Changers: Annoying roadblock card, especially for low prowess companies (like Hobbits). Remember the effect of Morgul Night on Wildernesses, so you have to be careful of the order you play hazards.

Olog Warlords: Powerful creature, made significantly more playable by Morgul Night. Also great against One-Ring decks as you can key them to Mount Doom.

Adunaphel: Fast permanent event just play her when you draw her. Discard her to tap a character at an appropriate time. For example tap the warrior so Beorning Skin Changers will roadblock the company.

Marsh Drake: Mainly in the deck for coastal sea coverage but also made significantly more playable with Morgul Night.

Sellswords Between Charters: Staple creature card covering Border-holds and Shadow-holds.

Doors of Night: Required for the play of the other environment cards (Morgul Night and Foul Fumes). Protect it with Twilight, it also has the benefit of disrupting any resource deck that relies on Gates of Morning.

Peril Returned: A long event that duplicates the effect of Doors of Night, really just in the deck to increase the chances of you getting Doors of Night in play and keeping it in play.

Foul Fumes: The second effect of this card is what you are looking for tapping the site before your opponent gets a chance to use it, if your opponent's company hasn't got a ranger the effect is even better, tap the site and then force the company to return to its site of origin (thereby discarding the site totally). For this reason, you need to hold the card in hand until you can either play it on a company moving without a ranger, or you can get Doors of Night in play, and create a shadow-land with Morgul Night.

Twilight: The hazard deck has two; the other is in the resource portion. Hold this card in hand to protect Doors of Night.

An Unexpected Outpost: Normally I don't bother to sideboard in hazards, but this hazard strategy needs deck manipulation. Ideally you want to play these with Doors of Night in play then you can either sideboard 2 hazards, or recycle 2 hazards. Don't overlook the recycling of a previously played Unexpected Outpost too. Bring back the hazards that look like they are causing your opponent the biggest problems, or sideboard in appropriate hazards.

Morgul Night: Key environment card that needs Doors of Night in play. Once in play all Wildernesses become Shadow-lands and all Shadow-lands become Dark-domains. This makes the map safer for your companies (most attacks will be detainment, and it's unlikely your opponent can hit you with nasty creatures like Elf-Lord), as well as making it easier to play your creatures. However the biggest use of this card is to create a shadow-land in your opponent's site path, allowing Foul Fumes to tap the site (virtually all the hero sites have a wilderness in the site path for the site which is what Foul Fumes looks at, not the actual site path of the company).


Key Sideboard Cards (Hazards):

Those of you who regularly read my articles should realise I don't often bother to sideboard in hazards, however this deck has some blind spots that you can cover with cards from the sideboard once you've worked out that you need to.

Angmar Arises/Reaching Shadow: Useful to increase the playability of your shadow-land creatures if you can't establish Doors of Night/Morgul Night (and you suspect your opponent's companies will be moving in the affected regions)

Drowning Seas: Great anti-coastal sea card, especially as you're playing Doors of Night.

Eyes of the Shadow: Good to increase the hazard limit of small companies, you'll notice it's likely your companies are not affected, as the big mind characters are rangers.

Fell Winter: This has a drawback that it makes border-holds harder for your companies to enter, but it's worthy for the sideboard, as it changes regions towards shadows, again making your hazards more playable.

Lure of the Senses: Sideboard this in to corrupt any rangers that your opponent plays Promptings of Wisdom on.

Nameless Thing: Anti-underdeeps, in the unlikely event your opponent is playing that against minions. Also doubles up as anti-coastal sea when you have Doors of Night in play.

Peril Returned: Sideboard this in if you seem unable to establish the Doors of Night environment you need.

Seized by Terror: Another shadow-land roadblock card. Note this gets around Promptings of Wisdom as it targets a character rather than the company. Best used on low mind characters to guarantee its effect.

Shadow of Mordor: Anti hero-speed deck card - your companies don't move to sites with high card draws, and the speed of the deck means you can afford to choose to draw just one card, brutal against a Radagast speed deck (and immune to Marvels Told your opponent will have to find a Twilight or a Gates of Morning to get rid of it).

Stormcrow: Useful if your opponent is using the direct influence of their wizard or you want to remove permanent events on the Wizard's company (like Fellowship).

Storms of Osse: Another good anti-coastal sea card (as you're playing with Doors of Night)

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