I have to admit, that the relatively recent introduction of Dunedain cards to our beloved card game stalled me out as I struggled to come up with a decent deckbuild. By requiring careful balance of risk versus reward, it’s a difficult mechanic to build around. Early on, it appears this was one of those archetypes that took a while for the community to wrap its head around, but, at the culmination of the Angmar Awakened cycle, there emerged some powerful and popular builds. I would be remiss if I did not mention Seastan’s Dunedain Trappers deck, which has become the de facto standard of the Dunedain archetype, and is worth checking out if you haven’t yet seen it in action.
As is the case with all deck archetypes, there is more than one road to victory. Variations in hero lineup and focus can shake up the way a Dunedain deck plays, without sacrificing that feeling of living on the edge.
Join us today, as CoTR shines a spotlight on…
2x Dúnedain Watcher (The Dead Marshes)
2x Eldahir (The Thing in the Depths)
3x Gandalf (Core Set)
3x Guardian of Arnor (The Battle of Carn Dûm)
2x Northern Tracker (Core Set)
3x Ranger of Cardolan (The Wastes of Eriador)
2x Sarn Ford Sentry (The Lost Realm)
3x Son of Arnor (Core Set)
2x Warden of Annúminas (The Lost Realm)
3x Forest Snare (Core Set)
3x Heir of Valandil (The Lost Realm)
2x Lembas (Trouble in Tharbad)
2x Ranger Provisions (Across the Ettenmoors)
2x Steward of Gondor (Core Set)
3x Sword that was Broken (The Watcher in the Water)
2x A Test of Will (Core Set)
2x Daeron’s Runes (Foundations of Stone)
2x Descendants of Kings (Escape from Mount Gram)
2x Elven-light (The Dread Realm)
2x Lore of Imladris (Core Set)
2x Sneak Attack (Core Set)
Player Side Quest (1)
1x Send for Aid (The Treachery of Rhudaur)
The hero lineup tells us a lot about how this deck functions: More so than most Dunedain decks, this one has some questing potential right out of the gate. Arwen and Halbarad quest for 5, and with an enemy engaged, Halbarad doesn’t exhaust. Once Aragorn gets a hold of his Sword that was Broken, that willpower increases to 7; not too shabby considering that you’re only exhausting one character. Then there is the synergy between Arwen and Aragorn: Through her willingness to gift resources to her beau, she mitigates the cost of the expensive Lore cards, namely Forest Snare. It is also reassuring to have a hero from the spirit sphere, as this opens up Elven-light for card draw, immediate access to Northern Tracker and Warden of Annuminas, and of course, A Test of Will.
What the heroes lack is strong defense, and so that mantle is taken up by powerful Dunedain allies. Guardian of Arnor is expectedly awesome, but so is Eldacar, especially in combination with Aragorn’s resource acceleration, which can consistantly pay for his kicker. Given the vital role that the allies play, this deck is dependant on an early Heir of Valandil to get the ball rolling; however, in case you don’t see it in your opening hand, there are safety valves in the form of Sneak Attack-Gandalf and Ranger of Cardolan.
Ultimately, what this means is that The Heir of Isildur tends to be less turtle-ly, but more fragile, than decks like Dunedain Trappers. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it’s important to note.
If you haven’t tried out a Dunedain deck yet, The Heir of Isildur is a fun one. Always balanced on the edge of a knife, the Dunedain archetype captures the risk-reward mechanic perfectly. More than once I found myself thinking “I could kill that Orc this turn, but if I risk leaving it alive, then I get to draw an extra card from a Sarn Ford Sentry next turn!”
For those who prefer to play multiplayer or 2-handed, I offer up this fellowship that I put together, entitled Border Patrol. It combines Wayward93’s The Heir of Isildur with bigfomlof’s Scouting Party. Together, these decks have amazing questing potential, and the ranged attackers in the Scout deck are of great help to the Dunedain, especially since Halbarad’s ability can help Haldir trigger his own.