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"Horsemen, hmph! I wish I could muster a legion of Dwarves, fully armed and filthy."
Here's a deck that was partially inspired by two steam forum discussions, one on Erebor Record Keeper and the validity of card draw on Normal mode, and the other about Longbeard Mapmaker's sphere identity.
My goal was to make a deck that could be played on Normal mode with Erebor Record Keeper that wouldn’t inundate the players hand with cards early in the Quest. I did this by drastically decreasing the resource-curve of the deck. More than half the cards here (roughly 20 or so) cost 1 resource or less, easily allowing you to play multiple cards a round. This means that Allies are fairly expendable as most of their value is to soak damage, or in the case of willpower/questing allies, do their thing once or twice and then be retired (killed or replaced).
As for Longbeard Mapmaker... the general feeling on the forums was that he didn't fit into the Lore sphere, with some people saying he should be a Leadership card. While it's very true that when compared to the other cards from the Lore catalogue, ol' Longbeard does fall short on the willpower spectrum. I'm of the opinion that Mapmaker's value will come, not with Lore decks of current, but rather in Dwarf themed decks of the future. Though this deck isn't quite Dwarf tribal worthy (7 /15 allies are dwarves, plus Gimli), I think it could potentially serve as a foundation for Dwarf decks in the future. Also... Longbeard Mapmaker and Aragorn as a combo is AMAZING! 8 Willpower a round for 2 resources can be pretty clutch!*
So, how does it play? Quite well, I'm pleased to say. Was able to achieve perfect scores consistently on all quests of The Shadow's Reach campaign on both Normal and Hard mode. Some knowledge of the game does help on Hard mode and as always Quest 4 will most likely cause some troubles.
Due to the low cost of cards, the deck also plays differently to other more high-cost curved decks, allowing players to outpace Sauron on board presence. Cards such as Erebor Record Keeper, as well as Faramir, allow for a constant source of cards, making sure the player isn't want for something to play.
Opening hand? Easy! As many 1 cost allies as possible. Guard of the Citadel & Erebor Watchman are great early defensive cards to distract Sauron's forces away from your heroes. Westfold Outrider and Ithilien Lookout make for a good aggressive start.
Gameplay strategy? Okay, I'm not the biggest fan of these kinds of write-ups. Half the fun of piloting a deck is figuring out how it is played. What I will say is this; play lots of Allies and don't be afraid to let them die, or replace them with another ally. Losing a Guard of the Citadel, or East Road Rider is fine, because another one isn't far away (card draw yo!). They are expendable and are not meant to serve long-term, that's what your heroes are for. Attachments and healing are for your heroes. Gandalf is to reduce threat (obviously). Any questions?
No Erkenbrand? He's there... you just have to look closely! See him?
That's all for now... hope you enjoy the deck!
[Note] I have been running 2x East Road Riders in this deck. Should you want to as well, swap out whatever you feel is best. Ideally cards that cost 2 resource (I recommend a Dwarven Axe and Veteran Axehand).
*Longbeard Mapmaker is currently a bugged card as his Power ability isn't always triggerable. FFI is aware of this bug and is working on a fix.