A Plague of Elves

Copyright Nigel Buckle © 2004

Edited by Nicholas HM Caldwell for The Guild Companion

"This time I'm going to use a different approach."

I've had a couple of requests for advice playing against minion decks by players who only have a limited number of cards later than the Dark Minions Expansion. This article gives a sample hero deck that you could try. Note the deck is not finished - the sideboard needs completing and you could exchange some of the cards for others from Lidless Eye or later. On the plus side, I've given some explanation of how the deck should play, rather than just presenting a deck list.

One advantage you have playing an opposing alignment is that you are guaranteed your starting company and any characters you play during the game, including your Wizard. So the first decision is which Wizard. I've decided to use Pallando as I believe he's the most powerful, and, in this particular deck, his lack of the scout skill will not be an issue as I don't intend to use any 'scout only' cards. The next thing to consider is either the resource deck along with characters or the hazard deck. As the purpose of this deck is to work against minions, the hazard deck is probably the harder part to build, so I'll do that first.

One of the challenges with facing minion decks are the wide range of resource strategies that could be used. It's hard to design a deck that can have an impact on all (or even most) of them. You could try to play the 'meta-game' and predict what are the minion decks you're likely to face in a tournament, but I can't really do this for a general article. You could ignore your opponent and play a burn deck ('dump and run') that is designed to get through your deck as fast as possible and you win with your resources. This is quite viable, as Hero decks are often faster than minion, but I've covered this hazard strategy in previous articles.

This time I'm going to use a different approach.

If you think about all, decks there is one resource that they all have in common, influencing factions. Every deck needs to bring in a faction or two, and to do that you use an influence check with relevant modifiers. Furthermore, many minion decks will bring in a number of factions under leaders etc, as often factions are an easy source of safe MPs, or a source of high MPs (such as Roused Dragons etc). If I can design a hazard deck that interrupts the recruiting of factions, this is going to affect virtually all the minion decks and if I'm lucky I'll be able to double faction points! I don't have to worry about site types, regions travelled in, underdeeps, etc., as I'll be targeting the influence check with the hazards. Additional hazards will fill out blind-spots, or be aimed at particularly troublesome minion resource strategies.

There are a number of hazards that create negative modifiers for influence checks and I intend to use them all:

Foolish Words (x3)
Times are Evil (x3)
Scorba at Home (x1)
Lord of the Carrock (x1)
News of Doom (x1)

The last two are Rares from later sets. If you don't have them, then substitute for something else (such as Badulia or River, etc).

Also I'll use standard 'vs minion' hazards that seem to go in every deck:

The Mouth of Sauron (counts as a half creature) and Lady of the Golden Wood (another half creature).

We also need 10 other creatures (as we have 4 ½ creatures already, The Mouth, The Lady of the Golden Wood, Lord of the Carrock and Scorba at Home), I suggest the following:

Cave Worm (x3)
Stirring Bones (x3)
Wisp of Pale Sheen (x3)
William (x1)

The Cave Worm gives a hard-hitting creature to cover some of the popular regions, while the Stirring Bones and Wisps give good Shadow hold coverage. In fact, the Wisps are great as detainment attacks as they are guaranteed to tap low mind characters. William is also good for hitting Shadow and Dark holds.

The deck also needs 9 other hazards:

Heedless Revelry is good against squatting decks and decks that intend to do more than one thing in the site phase. Typical minion decks play multiple cards (such as Blasting Fire) in the site phase. There isn't really a suitable replacement for this card from the earlier sets, so it's worth trading for this particular Lidless Eye Rare. If you don't own it, then you'll have to substitute for a card you do own, possibly The Moon Is Dead to boost the undead creatures. It's worth having 3 copies of 'An Unexpected Outpost' to recycle the most effective hazards and/or access the sideboard. This leaves 4 cards to find to complete the hazard deck. At this point I'm switching to the resource deck, as these are not obvious, I'll return to complete the hazard deck later.

The hazard deck creates problems with influence attempts that will affect my characters (Times are Evil), so the resource deck needs to have a way of coping with this hazard long event.

Minion decks can use a variety of hazard strategies to stop a hero deck, so my main goals for the resource deck are:

Cope with negative influence attempt modifiers, have small but powerful companies for a low hazard limit, gather greater items as they have high MP values.

I'm going with an Elf theme deck, as they typically have a high prowess. The plan is to fight creatures and automatic attacks, rather than avoid them.

Starting Company(3):

Glorfindel with Elf stone controlling

Haladir

Thranduil with Cram

[Minor Items: Elf Stone & Cram]

Characters for the Deck:

Pallando (x3), Elrohir, Elladan, Celeborn

This gives a strong 3 character company (7 MPs), and enough DI to add Elrohir or Elladan to the company. The other characters join Pallando at The Grey Havens.

Resources (30)

MP cards (11)

Items:

Glamdring
Narsil
Orcrist
Red Arrow
Wormsbane

Allies:

Goldberry
Gwahir
Quickbeam

Factions:

Elves of Lindon
Wood Elves

Miscellaneous:

The Wind Lord Found Me

Most of the items are weapons to further boost the characters -- Red Arrow is used to automatically recruit the Riders of Rohan (in the sideboard). The plan is to avoid Borderholds (except the Old Forest for Goldberry, and you only really need her if your opponent looks like they're playing 'roadblock').

Support cards (19)

A Friend or 3 (x3)
Dodge (x3)
Many Foes He Fought (x3)
Marvels Told (x3)
Risky Blow (x3)
Smoke Rings (x3)
Twilight

The idea of the resource deck is to have 2 companies one of 4 Elves, the other 2 Elves and Pallando. All of your characters have a decent prowess, Haladir is the weakest at 4 (and he's pretty expendable).

Glamdring : Nice item, especially for Pallando as it's only 1 corruption point.

Narsil: Only 3 MPs for this greater item - but it's the only weapon that Glorfindel can use, and with the extra DI bonus it gives he can control either Elrohir or Elladan

Orcrist: A useful 4MP item

Red Arrow: Only useful for recruiting the Riders of Rohan. Once you have this in play (or your hand) bring in the Riders from the sideboard, then play them and store the Arrrow.

Wormsbane: Similar to Orcrist

Goldberry: Useful against Roadblock hazards

Gwahir: An ally with a reasonable prowess (4)

Quickbeam: A high prowess Ally

Elves of Lindon: One of your elves, or Pallando should be able to recruit this faction even with Times are Evil in play

Wood Elves: Thranduil should be able to play this faction with relative ease.

The Wind Lord Found Me: Useful for getting Pallando into play, if it's drawn late in the game and you don't need the points or haven't time to store it -just discard it. Plan to play this at Isengard.

The Sites you use for the items will depend on what hazards you see played (and discarded using Pallando's ability) - you could use any/all of these:

The Stones (greater items)

Carn Dum (greater items)

Ruined Signal Tower (major items)

Glittering Caves (major items)

Mount Gram (major items)

Mount Gundabad (greater items)

Sarn Gorwing (major items)

You probably want to avoid sites with Undead attacks, if you use The Moon is Dead. If that isn't in play, then you could add: Isles of the Dead that Live (major items), Himring (major items), The Barrow Downs (major items).

A Friend or 3: Useful defence against corruption, or help to recruit the factions

Dodge: Good combat card -- you can combine it with Risky Blow, as this card is not a 'skill' card.

Many Foes He Fought: Useful for getting Glorfindel to face multiple attacks, especially automatic attacks if you want to get another character into the site untapped. It's also useful for throwing Haladir against a nasty creature if you think you can't beat it, or don't want to take the risk (such as an enhanced Corsairs of Umbar, etc)

Marvels Told: Staple card for getting rid of irritating hazard events

Risky Blow: Staple combat enhancer

Smoke Rings: Use to recycle the other support cards (or discarded MP cards) or to bring in useful resources from the sideboard

Twilight: Anti-environment card, as this deck doesn't use environments for either resources or hazards.

Don't be surprised if your opponent stops playing hazard creatures on your companies, especially once you get some weapons into play. Many Foes He Fought is a very under-rated card, and works well in this deck. If you find your opponent is playing mainly 'attacker chooses defender' type hazard creatures you might want to sideboard in More Alert than Most. This deck shouldn't suffer much from Beorning Skin-Changers, as all your characters are warriors and most have a prowess greater than 4.

This deck has the capacity to generate a large number of MPs:

Characters -11 (7 starting)

Items -15

Misc -3

Factions - 8

Allies - 5

And if your hazard strategy works you might be able to double your faction points!

Now I need to add those last 3 hazards to finish the hazard deck -Plague is a nice hazard, but it's a LE Rare. It's a good card against squatting leaders and any companies that don't return to a haven regularly. Furthermore your companies are totally immune to this card, as all your characters are Elves, apart from Pallando who's also immune. Rats is another nice hazard card to force the discard of an item such as a blazon of the eye - and it shouldn't be too hard to get a copy as it's a Lidless Eye uncommon. Finally another Twilight can't hurt (and put a third in the sideboard). If your opponent is using environment cards, you'll be glad you included them. If you can't obtain the LE cards then use other general hazards, such as Rivers, Seized by Terror, etc.

Hazard Deck (30) * = creature or ½ creature:

*Cave Worm (x3)
*Lady of the Golden Wood (x1)
*Lord of the Carrock (x1)
*Scorba at Home (x1)
*Stirring Bones (x3)
*The Mouth of Sauron (x1)
*William (x1)
*Wisp of Pale Sheen (x3)
Foolish Words (x3)
Heedless Revelry (x3)
An Unexpected Outpost (x3)
News of Doom (x1)
Plague (x1)
Rats! (x1)
Times are Evil (x3)
Twilight (x1)
Sideboard (incomplete)
Riders of Rohan
Twilight
Wizard Uncloaked
Sacrifice of Form
More Alert than Most

Finally a name for the deck - 'A Plague of Elves' seems apt.