By sprenger– February 13, 2013
Bifur (KD) x1
Dain Ironfoot (RtM) x1
Ori (OHaUH) x1
Brok Ironfist (Core) x1
Dori (OHaUH) x2
Erebor Hammersmith (Core) x3
Erebor Record Keeper (KD) x3
Fili (OHaUH) x2
Longbeard Elder (FoS) x2
Longbeard Orc Slayer (Core) x2
Miner of the Iron Hills (Core) x3
Kili (OHaUH) x1
Boots from Erebor (KD) x3
Dunedain Signal (RtM) x2 or Dunedain Mark x2
Hardy Leadership (SaF) x2
Healing Herbs (FoS) x3
Legacy of Durin (TWitW) x2
Self Preservation (Core) x2
Thror’s Map (OHaUH) x2
Song of Kings (THFG) x2
Durin’s Song (KD) x3
Lure of Moria (RtR) x3
Second Breakfast (CatC) x2
We Are Not Idle (SaF) x3
A Very Good Tale (OHaUH) x2
Recently I have had a lot of success with my latest Dwarf deck. Conquering quests like Flight From Moria (Balrog -Kazzad Dum), Return to Mirkwood, Dungeons Deep and Caverns Dim (Riddle Quest), and The Massing at Osgiliath (Witch King - GenCon). It is probably one of the best decks I have ever built because this deck performs well regardless of the number players in the game. It is a jack of all trades kind of deck, it provides a fair and balanced amount of Will, Attack and Defense allowing it to overcome any obstacle the quest throws at the fellowship.
This deck is built from the heroes out. they are the backbone and the life blood of the deck. They provide character buffs, card draw and employee solid resource management thus giving the player a solid chance to beat almost any quest. However it is not just the abilities that make them such a great team. When you look at their stats you will find they have all of their bases covered.
When it comes to questing, Bifur and Ori both have a Will Power of 2 and after applying Dain‘s bonus, those two can easily quest for 6 right out of the gate. Besides Bifur and Ori, you will find that most of the dwarf allies can contribute a wealth of Will power when under the influence of Dain’s ability. With as few as 2 dwarf allies you can easily quest for 10+ during the early part of the game.
A major part of questing is location control, being able to munpulate the staging area can sometimes be the difference between questing successfully and falling just short. When it comes to location control look no further than Durin’s Map. This a very powerful (and unique) attachment that allows you to change the active location when your fellowship is questing. The best part of this card is that there doesn’t even have to be an active location. Overall a great card and with a low cost of 1 it is hard to leave it out of the deck.
Since we are talking about Questing, I should mention Longbeard Elder. He is a leadership ally that allows you to look at the top card of the encounter deck when he is committed to the quest. If the revealed card is a location you get to place a progress token on the current quest (of active location if there is one) however if the revealed card is not a location then he gets -1 will for the round. This such a powerful card in itself because for one, you now know what the first encounter card is going to be so you can better plan for it and if it is a location then you are one step closer to completing that stage of the quest. Even if the revealed card is not a location Dain’s ability more than makes up for the decreased Will.
The Iron Defense
As for defense, look no further than Dain Ironfoot. He has a stellar defense of 3 and 5 hit points. If you give him some boots and some Hardy Leadership, he becomes a 3 defense/7 HP stone wall. In my game against the Witch King, he was able to withstand multiple attacks from the Witch King himself and still stand tall.
However what if you have more than 1 enemy engaged with you or your partner needs some protection, no problem! Ereber Record Keeper is the answer to this minor inconvenience. See by exhauting the Record Keeper and paying 1 Lore resource you can ready another Dwarf in play. If you can get all 3 of your Record Keepers out you can defend 3 heavy attacks without breaking a sweat. As for helping out your partner, you can equip Dain with a Dunedain’s Signal in order to Sentinel (defend) for them. (I find these strategy very effective when partnered with a Ranged Tactics deck.)
Let’s face it, Dain can’t do all the heavy lifting. Sometimes you will need to have an ally block an attack or two. It is best not to just sacrifice any given dwarf ally because the whole point of the deck is to have an army. Even the weakest dwarf can be strong in a crowd. If necessary, you can rely on your Erebor Hammersmiths to take the hit. They have 1 defense and 3 (printed) Hit points so they can endure smaller attacks. You will get the most out of them if you have Hardy Leadership in play. Hardy Leadership is an attachment that gives all dwarfs in play +1 HP. This keeps your dwarfs around longer and lets you relax your defenses from time to time.
Once you get a decent number of Dwarf allies, you will be able to start fighting your own battles. If you can manage to keep Dain up all of your dwarfs get +1 attack strength. It doesn’t seem like much however when you are attacking with 3 or 4 dwarfs their total attack strength increases quickly. Once Ori no longer needs to quest, provides a modest 2 attack strength (3 if Dain is standing). In a solo game you could drop the Signals in favor for Dunedain’s Marks to give him additional attack strength.
While all of your dwarfs get the attack bonus you still need to quest a good number of them. That’s why I suggest leaving the fighting to the Longbeard Orc Slayers, Dori and the Miner of the Iron Hills. These allies will make the most of the attack strength bonus leaving the rest to quest.
What if you have an enemy like the Witch King on you and you need to take him down with one single attack. Easy! You just drop “Lore of Moria” (ready all dwarf characters in play) and send every dwarf (minus Dain) to do battle with him. The Witch King may be powerful but he is not much against an army of dwarfs.
Build an army like this relies heavily on drawing the right cards and having the resources to fund it. The difficulty increases when you are running a dual-sphere deck (meaning you have two different kinds of cards/resources). As you can see above in the deck list, which has been highlighted to show each sphere type : Purple for leadership, Green for Lore and Blue for Spirit, there are about the same number of Lore cards as there are Leadership cards. This makes playing for cards difficult because you have 2 Lore heroes and 1 Leadership hero. During the early stages of the game you will find yourself not playing your leadership cards because most of them are high cost cards. It is all good because the leadership cards are more effective/useful during the middle stages and end game part of the quest. So at the beginning Lore needs to be your top priority.
That is where Bifur comes in. During the early stages of the game you can use his ability to move the resource on Dain to his pool. You can now play as if you were a Mono sphere Lore player. As the game goes on you can put “Song of Kings” on Bifur to make him a Leadership character. That way you can move resources from Ori’s pool to Bifurs’ and then you can play either Leadership or Lore cards with no problems.
The other issue is getting the right cards in hand during the early game. To maximize the chances of getting those cards, we will rely on Ori’s ability which grants us a second card draw at the beginning of the round if we have control 5 or more dwarfs. This is pretty easy since the whole point of the deck is to build an army of dwarfs. It might take a couple turns before it takes effect but once you start drawing twice as many cards you will find the core cards in no time. If that wasn’t enough, Legacy of Durin is a Lore attachment that gives you a card draw every time you put a dwarf character into play. If you can get that in the early game you won’t have any problem getting the cards you need.
With all of these cards in your hand, don’t be surpise if your normal amount resources can’t cover the cost of every card in your hand. Sometimes you’ll find yourself needing to put a card into play however you lack the resources needed to pay for it. I could have added Stewart of Gondor to help increase the resource generation but I happened to think of it as a crutch for lazy non-monosphere Leadership players (or new players who are still learning the game). Instead I went with a theme event card called ”We are not Idle“. This is a leadership card that allows the player to exhaust Dwarf characters to add a number of resources to one of your hero’s resource pool equal to the number of exhausted dwarfs. Then you get to draw a card. I like this card because I can go big as I want or just exhaust enough dwarfs so I can play a card that I really need at the time. You can pair this card with Lure of Moria to get the most resources without leaving any of your dwarfs exhausted.
We all know that the baddies are not going to just sit back and let you build an army without putting up a fight. They are out to kill your dwarfs and taking damage is to be expected. Unforunately there aren’t any dwarfs that heal damage at this point in time and I don’t want to sacrifice theme for Gondor healers. Instead we will put our trust in attachments like Self Perservation and Healing Herbs. It may not seem like much but when you take in to account HP buffs like Hardy Leadership and Boots from Erebor you will find that you don’t have to heal as often as you normal would. If you can control the number of attacks you have to endure you can easily control the amount of damage you take.
Always a good choice to put the Healing Herbs on Bifur. You have to exhaust Bifur to use the herbs but your Record Keeper can stand him back up if you need him to. Unlike Self Perservation, Healing Herbs is a one time effect. So you should use them only when you need them however there are ways of getting them back if you need them. We will cover that a little later.
Risky Tricks to Building an Army
As I have mention a couple times already, the main focus of this deck is to build an army of dwarfs. The faster you can build it the more effective it will be. With that in mind, I have included a couple tricks that should help get more dwarfs in play without spending your precious resources. One trick is the Kili-Fili combo. Basically when you play one of the two brothers you get to search your deck and put the other one into play for free. The drawback is if you draw Kili into your hand he becomes a dead card because he is the only spirit card in your deck and without the aid of another player you can’t give your heroes the Spirit sphere of influence. However most of my games so far I have been fortunate not to run into this problem.
The other trick, A Very Good Tale, is a little more risky because it is a hit or miss event card that makes you exhaust 2 dwarfs (higher the cost the more effective) and discard 5 cards from the top of your deck. Then you can take up two allies and put them into play as long as their total cost is equal to or less than the combine cost of the allies you exhausted. This assumes that you reveal any allies at all. If no allies are discarded you could find yourself up the creek without a paddle or a pray. The other issue I need to let you know of is that it forces you to shuffle your deck before you discard cards. So there is no way to stack your deck to make it hit every time.
Don’t Lose your Tools
You may have notice that this deck has just about the same number of attachments as it does allies. Some are more important than others however each of them will be quite useful throughout the game. The problem is that these can be discarded (either by it’s own effects or by encounter effects) at any time. Even some of the cards in this deck can cause you to discard your attachments. Fear not because I have already plan for that to happen and believe me it will happen.
There are two ways to get those cards back, first is to use the event card called “Second Breakfast“. This allows each player to take the top most attachment from their discard pile and put it back into their hands. It is limited to the top attachment but hey getting cards back is always a good thing. The other one is the Ereber Hammersmith, when he comes into play one player can return his top most attachment from his discard pile. Again it is limited but at least you are getting to put an ally out into play instead of just dropping an event card.
Overall, this deck gets the job done. It is very reliable and most importantly fun to play. You don’t have to rely on the other players to help you out however you have the tools to help them. Right now I don’t think i would change anything but we will see if that is still the case when Heroes on the Doorstep comes out later next week. Anyways I hope you enjoyed the read and maybe I inspired you to build your own Dwarf deck. The possibilities are endless at the point and we are about to get even more. So yeah.