This journey now takes us into Rohan, and this is one of my favorite factions to play, although it is not a particularly strong one, with a deck solely dedicated to the trait. But, I am very excited to put Aragorn into some Rohan deck archetypes that I will feature quite prominently throughout this cycle.
This first quest introduces the new Time mechanic, which I do not necessarily like. It adds certain restrictions to your deck building and gameplay from one quest to another. For the Fords of Isen, and in most of the cycle generally, there are effects that punish you for drawing cards, or having a lot of cards in your hand. This is of course, opposite of what you want to do as a player, since card draw is how you win your games, primarily. So, this cycle will present many interesting challenges.
I knew I wanted to build around a Rohan theme for this deck, and usually I would need to compensate with card draw for this archetype, but recent cards have reduced that requirement a bit. Also, with Rohan using a good number of Mount attachments, I decided Lore Aragorn was not the best choice this time around. I’ve played him in more than half of the episodes so far, and I was more drawn to Core Aragorn for this deck.
Primarily, I thought of Aragorn as a defender in this deck who can occasionally quest. I thought this was thematic for the official storyline in the quest where you are encountering a group of Rohan knights under attack by Dunlendings. But, also, once the allies start coming into play, there are plenty of chump blockers so Aragorn can also attack.
For his defensive purpose, I’ve added a couple copies of Armored Destrier. This will at least be a ready for Aragorn when defending, and will also discard a shadow card, if engaged with more than one enemy. Chump blocking the stronger enemies, like Dunland Chieftain, is ideal, so removing their shadow cards after defending a weaker enemy with Aragorn is a huge boon. Also, I can boost Aragorn to 3 or 4 defense if I see two copies of Dunedain Warning.
Outside of defending, I always bring Sword that was Broken when playing Core Aragorn. I’ve also got a couple copies of Song of Travel to help him gain a Spirit icon, because I’ve also tossed in two copies of Steward of Gondor, since he’s traveling from Gondor to Rohan in my storyline. Steward can also fuel his ability to ready when he quests, but it is absolutely not a necessary card.
Now I need to get to the Rohan archetype. One of my favorites is ally swarm combined with the discard effects. Any ally deck for Rohan will need to start with Spirit Theoden, since he reduces the cost of your first ally each round. Theoden is also going to be questing, once het gets Snowmane attached, and attacker, with Guthwine, which Aragorn enables with his Leadership resources.
The other hero is just good old Spirit Eowyn, who will just quest, and use Elven-light to draw cards and boost her willpower. She’ll also get Horn of the Mark to help draw cards, but again, I have to be careful about drawing too many and ending up with some really bad effects from the quest cards and encounter deck. So, even with the Horn in play, I won’t necessarily trigger it, depending on what effects are coming up, or active in play.
There are plenty of useful allies, and while I’m not sure how many in the deck constitute a “swarm,” I’ve got 18 in total, and they are all Rohan traited. The Escort from Edoras is the only automatic discard ally, so I generally find myself recycling that ally with Guthwine. However, it’s also good to see Gamling to save the ally back to my hand.
The newer Rohirrim Scout is an ally I really like for only 1-cost thanks to Theoden. The discard effect may not come into play that often, but it can be very helpful to avoid an enemy like Dunland Chieftain or Dunland Raider. The classic chump blocker, Snowbourn Scout is free, which is great, and I also included Ceorl for his attack, since he is 1-cost for 2 attack.
Further, Eomund and Elfhelm are nice at one copy, so they won’t be crucial, but getting them into play will be quite helpful. One of my favorite Rohan cards is a newer one, The Muster of Rohan, which really helps you have a big turn, or finish off a quest, or save your bacon. Outside of this series, I build a full-Rohan deck with the aim of using this card as much as possible. It’s such a fun addition to Rohan ally builds.
Opening Hand and Strategy
It’s tough to choose between getting some of the hero attachments to start, or a bunch of allies, so I generally try to find an opening hand that mixes both, along with some form of card draw. I always hope to see Snowmane early for Theoden, so I can quest with him right off the bat. The card draw would be either Elven-light or Horn of the Mark. For allies, an Escort from Edoras, or even a Westfold Horse-breeder wouldn’t be bad, since I could maybe get lucky with her ability and find Snowmane.
Since this cycle introduces the Time mechanic, you’re always on a countdown here. First, you have to rescue Grima by clearing the Islet location on stage 1. I usually don’t travel to that location until there are 3 or 2 Time counters left. It only needs 1 progress, so it isn’t a huge hurdle. But, on advancing to each subsequent stage, you have to find an enemy to put into play.
I like to grab enemies like Dunland Tribesman, because it gives you time to set up, being a 37 engagement cost. But, also, Dunland Prowler has a low attack, and removes a possible Surge from the encounter deck. I need to make sure I can handle those extra enemies when advancing stages, but also, need to avoid the negative effects of the Time counters running out. You lose if you let them run out on stage 1, but on stage 2, you have to deal damage to your characters based on how many cards are in your hand. So, I don’t want to sit with a lot of cards on that stage.
Stage 2 and 3 require a fair amount of progress, so it’s good to try and power through with a lot of willpower. I may play an Escort from Edoras while on stage 1, and just let it hang out until stage 2, so I can use its huge willpower to push through that stage quickly. Once on the third stage, you can’t win while an enemy is in play. It’s also important to keep a small hand-size, because you may spawn more enemies as a result of the Time effect. So, push quickly in the quest phase, but also make sure to kill those enemies!