OK, I’ve mixed IPs horrifically there, but it got your attention. Now that you’re here, let’s talk about the new hero for The Lord of the Rings LCG: Prince Imrahil.
This new iteration has the same stats as his Shadows of Mirkwood version, but his ability reads “Combat action: Spend 1 resource from Prince Imrahil’s resource pool to search the top 5 cards of your deck for an ally who shares at least 1 Trait with him, and put that ally into play. Shuffle your deck. At the end of the phase, if that ally is still in play, shuffle it into your deck. (Limit once per round.)”
That Horn of Gondor erratum is starting to look pretty sensible now, right? This ability gives the players access to loads of toys during the combat phase, and gives us a couple of options for deck-building (that I can see).
The starting point for me was to look at allies with Imrahil’s traits: Gondor, Noble and Warrior. Of course, there are a ton of Gondor allies to pick from, and even some Nobles. There’s also the new attachment, Prince of Dol Amroth, that gives Imrahil the Outlands trait, should you want to revisit that period in the game’s history.
But I’m interested in the Warrior trait. It’s been around since the core set, and it’s taken a long time for synergies to appear. In fact, there are some fairly expensive warriors in the core set (and if you’re cheating allies into play, why not go for the big hitters?).
So expensive Warrior allies are my starting point for this deck. Beorn, for instance, with his one-shot ability, is an auto-include. But if I’m including expensive allies – a lot of expensive allies, to make sure Imrahil’s ability always fires – I need to make sure I can either hard-cast them from my hand, or cheat them into play somehow.
I can pay for things if I have a Leadership hero. I decide to include a couple of copies of Steward of Gondor. I usually avoid it, because it always causes issues in multiplayer, but on this occasion it has a clear role to play: making sure Imrahil can always trigger his ability.
I also like the look of the new Dwarven Shield attachment, which reinvigorates the Gloin resource engine. I choose the elderly Dwarf as my second hero, along with three copies of the shield.
(Oh, remember those expensive core set allies? Brok Ironfist costs six Leadership resources, has the same stats as Gloin and, if a Dwarf hero dies, you throw him down for free. Theme-tastic.)
That’s resources covered, then. But I really want to do lots of cheating allies into play.
Elf-stone is one answer. So is Sneak Attack.
One of the benefits of Sneak Attack is how it allows you to make the most of ‘comes-into-play’ effects. Gandalf is the go-to sneak target, but even a well-timed sneaky Snowbourn Scout can swing a game your way.
So I want lots of ‘comes-into-play’ effects. Luckily, the last cycle includes a whole host of allies which have ‘comes-into-play’ responses.
There’s the core concept for the deck. Big, bouncy allies who make an impact on the board, then disappear.
But what role does the deck fill in a multiplayer environment? Imrahil can quest, but he only really cares about the combat phase. I want the deck to have something to offer the other players, so I choose Beravor as my third hero. She can give any player card draw, she can quest when she needs to, and she gives me access to the Lore sphere.
Along with card draw, Lore means healing. There are lots of options for healing now, but by far the best is the ally: Ioreth. She costs nothing to play, stays on the board (barring bad things happening) and can be triggered by any player. She also has the Gondor trait, so can be summoned by Imrahil.
I throw in three copies of The Long Defeat, because it gives every player options, usually at a critical moment in the game. I want three copies, because I also want to run a side quest: Send for Aid. It supports the ‘cheat-stuff-into-play’ theme of the deck, and benefits all players.
Lastly, being a combat-focused deck means I want to be able to help out other players in their hour of need. The ally version of Mablung does that, as does Eldahir. In fact, there’s a smattering of Ranged and Sentinel in there, so you can offer combat support on a fairly regular basis.
In practice, the deck is super-efficient . . . against the right quests. We played a couple of Nightmare quests from the Khazad-Dum box, and the Longbeard Orc-Slayer had the game of his life, bouncing in and out of play, dealing damage left, right and centre to the green-skins.
The deck is full of all-star allies, and there are enough of them that you can take a tool-box approach when you trigger Imrahil. Out of resources, but have a Feint in hand? Put Soldier of Dol Amroth into play. Got a boss fight on your hands? Go get Beorn.
Where it falls down miserably is during questing – especially in the early rounds. It takes time to get the attachments you need, establish control of the combat phase, and start spewing out big allies. If it’s not partnered with a good questing deck, it starts to come apart, usually at the hands of treacheries.
There’s room for this deck to be tweaked further. Three copies of Dwarven Shield is a lot (but Gloin can wield two at a time), and you might prefer to have the safety of Citadel Plate instead. In early iterations I included three copies of Errand Rider, but I found that I just didn’t need it. Make Imrahil the Steward of Gondor, take a couple of hits on Gloin, and you’re usually laughing by round two or three.
Different versions? I’d try this deck solo with the hero version of Gandalf. His Wizard Pipe would work well with Imrahil‘s ability. The Outlands thing will interest some people, as will a Gondor swarm, with purple Boromir. You could even explore Rohan with the attachment Nor am I a Stranger, but that seems like a big, janky risk to take.
I’ve played the deck a fair amount now, and I’m enjoying the fact that it’s a multisphere MDK deck. It’s showy, but without being reliant on combos. It has a lot to offer in the right multiplayer game, and it plays differently to most decks (although there is a lot of shuffling).
Most importantly, this deck has started a trip down memory lane for me. I’ve taken core set cards like Longbeard Orc Slayer, Beorn and Brok Inronfist out of the binder for the first time in . . . well, no, for the first time.
Here’s the deck.
1x Prince Imrahil (The City of Corsairs)
1x Gloin (Core Set)
1x Beravor (Core Set)
2x Beorn (Core Set)
2x Brok Ironfist (Core Set)
3x Longbeard Orc Slayer (Core Set)
2x Knight of the White Tower (The City of Corsairs)
3x Soldier of Dol Amroth (The City of Corsairs)
1x Ioreth (A Storm on Cobas Haven)
1x Déorwine (Temple of the Deceived)
2x Mablung (The Land of Shadow)
2x Azain Silverbeard (Flight of the Stormcaller)
2x Ithilien Lookout (The Dunland Trap)
3x Marksman of Lórien (The Drowned Ruins)
3x Gandalf (Core Set)
2x Eldahir (The Thing in the Depths)
3x Gondorian Spearman (Core Set)
3x Elf-stone (The Black Riders)
2x Steward of Gondor (Core Set)
3x Dwarven Shield (The Sands of Harad)
3x The Long Defeat (The Battle of Carn Dûm)
3x Feint (Core Set)
3x Sneak Attack (Core Set)
Side Quests: (2)
1x Scout Ahead (The Wastes of Eriador)
1x Send for Aid (The Treachery of Rhudaur)
Let me know what you think in the comments below. I’d be especially keen to hear about your versions, or your experiences with this version.