Let’s hunt some orc! This is an interesting quest that can be quite difficult. Not only does it steal almost half your deck, you also have to manage the Time mechanic; and, lots of locations; and, enemies; oh, and, a powerful boss enemy potentially very early before you’ve set up! It is a puzzle, but one that can be fun to do. I tried many deck ideas for this one, ranging from scouting and hunting themed ones, to some very poorly themed, net-decked types. But I am not here to net-deck in this series, so I simply went with a mix of Rohan stuff, combined with some Gondor fellows to represent a good hunting party, so to speak.
I really tried every Aragorn in my ideas for this one, but simply settled on the Core version. I knew I wanted him to quest and have strong willpower, because that is very important in this quest, but also be able to defend. Also, the narrative I have developed to this point, Aragorn has approached Isengard as a noble lord of Gondor, so this version made the most sense in that regard, and he’s in-sphere for many good things I wanted to include in the deck.
He will always be questing and using his ability to ready so he can then defend the enemies. Depending on the attachments, he can also attack some; and he’ll be loaded up with good stuff to get very strong stat boosts. Of course, Sword that was Broken and Celebrian’s Stone will give him an extra 3 willpower if I can get them in play, but also, Roheryn will help get him extra bonuses as well.
To emphasize his alias as a Captain of Gondor, I’ve included the Gondorian Shield and Steward of Gondor, which will give him the resources needed to utilize his Response, as well as give him that extra defense boost from the shield by having the Gondor trait.
Just as in the last quest, and in many of these throughout the cycle, I’ll be focusing on the Rohan archetype to surround Aragorn. For this one, I’m using two heroes I have not used in the series so far! Since I was looking for a good scout or hunting party, I thought this was a cool chance to use Elfhelm. He’s a hero I have never really used, but it was very fun to try and build his Mount deck archetype, even if I didn’t go all-in on the idea.
Elfhelm gives out stat boosts when heroes have a mount attached, based on their sphere. I realized that Elfhelm is a cool pair with Aragorn because Aragorn can have every sphere in the game with his Artifact and Mount attachments. Once Aragorn has Roheryn attached, he will get +1 defense and +1 attack from Elfhelm, since Aragorn will gain the Tactics icon from Roheryn. Then, Aragorn with Celebrian’s Stone will also give him +1 willpower from Elfhelm for being a Spirit hero, too.
These stat boosts and Elfhelm’s own balanced stats means he’ll be a fine quester and that’s the role he’ll fulfill most of the time. If willpower is handled by Aragorn and allies, then Elfhelm, with an Armored Destrier, will be able to defend with his own defense boost.
The other hero is Tactics Eomer, who I really love. When I first played this quest a long time ago, I used him to beat it, so I felt like I had to go with him in this attempt, too. Pairing him with Elfhelm is amazing because he gets +3 attack when he has Firefoot attached. Coupled with his ability when an ally leaves play and Eomer will be attacking and trampling for 8 attack! He doesn’t need anything else at that point, but I also threw in Guthwine, his personal weapon, to get his attack up to a possible 10, and possibly retrieve a Rohan ally from the discard pile.
Allies are a mix of Gondor and Rohan, to fit with Aragorn’s narrative here. The majority are Rohan, of course, since in my own narrative, Aragorn (Thorongil) did not ride to Isengard with any of his Gondorian companions. Grimbold is a great choice for questing and an added feint effect. The Westfold Lancer is a newer card that is a fantastic 2 willpower in Tactics, but also has a 2 attack, and could soften enemies that were revealed while questing. Lastly, the Riddermark Knight is just a cheap attacker.
The Gondor contingent includes Soldier of Gondor, which I love here to possibly grab another of his brethren, like Knight of the White Tower, or Angbor the Fearless. Also, if I play one it gives me the chance to “scout” my own deck, so to speak, when searching the top 5 cards, to see what I may have in there, since the quest sets 20 of your cards out of play. That knowledge is helpful when deciding what card you may want to keep from the Searches mechanic in this quest.
Opening Hand and Strategy
What I’m really looking for in an opening hand for this quest is some willpower and a mount. Of course, you always want to see Steward of Gondor in your opening hand when playing it. Drawing that and Celebrian’s Stone in my opening hand would be good enough for me, honestly, even if there is no mount, since I can play both on the first turn, giving Aragorn a strong 4 willpower, and the ability to use his response.
The quest has you start with a Mountain location in the staging area, and I usually go with Methedras, since it is only 2 threat, and doesn’t require a lot of progress to explore, even though it does boost threat of other locations when it is active. Since the main quest card has Time 2, and bad stuff happens when those run out, it is imperative to get at least 1 progress on the main quest in the first turn, to get that extra Time counter. I think the encounter deck is most likely to add 2 or 3 threat, and that means I’m probably looking at 5 threat total on turn one.
It’s not great to find Mugash quickly, from the Searches keyword. Ideally, I’ll have Steward, Roheryn, and Gondorian Shield on Aragorn by the time I find him. Of course, I am not worried about chump blocking him, since that boosts Eomer’s attack. Whenever Mugash is apprehended, Eomer is the one to carry him back to Isengard. If Aragorn is fully loaded up, with Sword that was Broken in play, questing out on the final stage isn’t so difficult.