Updated: Sep 19, 2019
Over the last couple of weeks my friend and I have been playing through the #AgainsttheShadow cycle in Lord of the Rings The Card Game.
The cycle begins with the players attempting to drive a dark threat out of Minas Tirith, a dangerous underworld presence, before pursuing them into the Druadan Forest and incurring the wrath of the Woes. After that the heroes answer the call of Lord Alcaron to help fend off an Orc incursion, before riding to Osgiliath to help Boromir and Faramir retake the city.
This is my first time playing through the Against the Shadow cycle two player as I’ve previously completed it solo. Solo is a tricky beast when it comes to Lord of the Rings as your deck needs to be capable of dealing with multiple aspects of the game, so playing two player gave me a chance to try out some deck builds I’ve never tried before.
Across the cycle I’ve been running a Leadership deck. Leadership is a tricky sphere to run solo, there are lots of powerful heroes in the Leadership sphere but they come with a high starting threat that will open you up to many dangers too early in the game. With a second player however you can both shoulder this burden and reap the benefits that the Leadership Sphere has to offer.
My friend was running a Tactics deck, meaning he could handle the defence side of things (with the help of Beregond) while I was tasked with the quest. Although I’ve switched the heroes up a couple of times, the deck functions largely the same. In the most recent build I’ve been using Aragorn, Boromir and Hirluin the Fair. The core cards in the deck are:
Steward of Gondor to increase my resource production and Lord of Morthond to increase my card draw as I play Outlands allies. The Outlands allies are cheap but come from all different spheres meaning that Hirluin needs to be the one with Steward of Gondor. Then we have The Sword that was Broken, attached to Aragorn and giving all characters a willpower boost, while Boromir, with resources in hand, constantly boosts mine and my friends Gondor attackers.
For additional questing power we have Denethor equipped with the Sword of Morthond, which gives him the Outlands trait and allows him to benefit from both the boosts from the Outlands characters and the boost from his son Boromir. Failing that the deck also features Faramir who can also inspire all allies to an additional willpower boost.
The rest of the deck consists largely of cards intended to aid both me and my friend, attachments such as the Dunedain Warning or Dunedain Mark, Campfire Tales for extra card draw and Ever Vigilant and Grim Resolve to make sure we always have allies ready when we need them.
And this is the thing I love about Lord of the Rings the Card Game, the sheer variety of the decks you can build. There isn’t a single build that can beat all scenarios, there isn’t even a single strategy to winning each scenario. With each adventure pack and deluxe expansion the options expand and no two games need ever be the same. When I played through Assault on Osgiliath solo I tried to brute force the game, forsaking questing for sheer defence and attack. I remember loading Beregond with armour and shields to take all enemies, while Boromir ratcheted up my threat to ready and fight again and again, discarding enemies like empty chocolate wrappers.
Next week we will face the final scenario and finally unmask the villain who has been the root of all our troubles. Then it’s on, on to Isengard and on to an entirely new deck build. Perhaps I’ll take Faramir and his rangers. Perhaps I’ll take a quest heavy Spirit deck or maybe a tri-sphere deck and nothing but hobbit heroes.
The Road goes ever on and on, down from the door where it began. Now far ahead the road has gone, and I must follow, if I can, pursuing it with eager feet, until it joins some larger way where many paths and errands meet and whither then? I cannot say.