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CardShark Content - Carl Craig (6/17/2003)

This Article takes a look at the starter decks from the Ents of Fangorn expansion, which has a street release date of 2nd July, although those of us lucky enough to have a Pre-Release close by, we’ll be seeing this expansion in action on the weekend of the 21st/22nd June.

So for those of you who might be participating in a Pre-Release coming-up, hopefully some of the things I mention in this article might prove useful to your sealed deck game.

For those of you who are not already in the know, Decipher do have a full spoiler list available at their site, plus a list of what cards appear in the Ents of Fangorn starter decks (Witch-King and Faramir). I’d recommend viewing those before continuing with my article, it’ll help your understanding a little more.
Spoiler is here: http://www.decipher.com/indexes/index-lotrents.html
Starter Decks are here: http://www.decipher.com/lordoftherings/cardlists/ents/EOFstarters.html


At a glance, I could already see a few oddities in each of the decks. By oddities I mean cards that don’t seem to have much purpose or no purpose at all. These oddities came in the form of, particular sites that seemed to lack in purpose when other sites may have been more useful + more hobbit swords in the Faramir deck which has less hobbits than the Witch-King deck etc…. But I will break it all down in detail and discuss a few findings below.

Oh and before I start, Decipher list each FP side as having 25 cards and the SH side as having 24, that’s actually incorrect, it’s the other way around the FP side contains 24 cards (not including Frodo and the ring) whilst the SH side contains 25. So once again the decks themselves are NOT balanced, as in their not even – your supposed to have a 50/50 split in your deck of SH and FP cards, so without cards from the boosters each deck isn’t completely even to start off with.

I will be breaking each deck down separately, starting with the adventure deck, then the FP side followed by the SH side.

WITCH-KING DECK:
Adventure Deck:
Now I’m going to discuss the adventure deck, as the first site of this deck was the first oddity I spotted.
(1) Horse Country: Well there aren’t any mounts in this expansion so how useful is this site?? Well its of ‘zero’ use to you, why not use East Wall of Rohan or Western Emyn Muil as the first site??
(2) Derndingle: Useable, this site is ok
(3) Golden Hall: You only have 2x hobbit swords to lose, not a very effective site against another WK starter though, Barrows of Edoras would have been more useful – increase the chance of getting your Ent Army out early.
(4) Ered Nimrais: Useable, at least they didn’t choose Westernmet Hills – LOL
(5) Hornburg Courtyard: Not much use to anyone unless you manage to pull the Rare Aragorn, Defender of FP’s, who is the only Aragorn available in this expansion.
(6) Hornburg Armory: Not Much Choice.
(7) Hornburg Wall: Actually very useful with the big minion’s the WK starter has, But once again what about facing another WK deck, how good are the Saruon/Nazgul against a large Ent army?
(8) Nan Curunir: Useable, not too much to choose from for a site 8 anyway.
(9) Orthanc Library: Useable, But this site can be more useful VS another WK deck, with all of the Ent companion’s in it.

*Comments: Well there are 3 sites that have room for improvement. Unfortunately you’re not going to pull any valid replacements for those sites out of your boosters, so it looks like your stuck with them I’m afraid. I can only wonder ‘why’ with some of the choices made when constructing the adventure decks for these starters.

Free Peoples (24)
To keep it easier to decipher (pun intended ;-) I’m only going to mention cards that I feel need a little insight given to them.

Merry, Learned Guide: With the large amount of twilight this starter gives from playing expensive Ents and when moving with your extensive Ent Army, its actually quite easy for your opponent to have pool left to spend on cancelling the hobbit ability (at least once maybe twice per try). It’s a pity Decipher didn’t consider reprinting cards from before the Two Tower block for these decks, because I think using the earlier versions of Merry and Pippin and trying to keep them alive with hobbit swords etc… could have worked better.
There also aren’t many ways to reduce the amount of burdens and wounds placed on Frodo by using the hobbits abilities.

Pippen, Wooly Footed Rascal: Same as for Merry above.

Knocked on the Head: obviously useful if you can pull off the hobbits abilities, but there are only 2 of these included in the deck, so that’s only twice that you can get a hobbit back from the discard pile. You wont find anymore of these in your boosters as their from the Two Towers expansion (sorry about that ;-)

Hobbit Sword: There is no way of getting these back once you effectively use one of the hobbits ability, could be a good Idea to exchange these for more effective cards drafted from your boosters?

*Comments: Well not too much wrong with the fellowship really, unless I get too picky. I would suggest looking for more support cards in your boosters like ‘long slow wrath’ + ‘boomed and trumpeted’ before you think of adding more companions, basically because there are already a lot of Ents in this deck.

Shadow (25)

Fell Beast: It also doesn’t help that there are only 6 Ringwraiths in this deck that can use the Fell Beast, which could possibly incur in a hand clog (holding onto the beasts till you get a wraith to play it on). I will also point out that there is little point in playing this on the WK (unless your certain you can get an overwhelm), as he’s already fierce.

Ulaire Nertea: Each deck is only using 2 FP cultures (WK uses Gandalf/Hobbit – F uses Gondor/Hobbit) so his ability will be rendered less useable in sealed deck play unless your opponent decides to throw in some Rohan or Elf companions. Although I might point out that the Faramir deck also uses a touch of the smeagol culture, but with the number of cards available in the boosters, players may opt to not include him at all.

Gate Insurgent: Same reason as for Ulaire Nertea above.

*Comments: Well nothing too major. Some idea’s of play for the SH side…. First of all, I probably wouldn’t hold onto a Fell Beast if I didn’t already have a Nazgul to play it on, that space in my hand would be better left available for a minion or companion I could play next turn. I’d also limit the use of any “discarding to do something abilities” (such as Fell Beast, Orc Runner and Ulaire Lemenya), the more cards you go throw the more chance of running out of deck.

FARAMIR DECK:
Adventure Deck:
(1) East Wall of Rohan: Useable, this site is ok
(2) Wold of Rohan: Useable, this site is ok
(3) Stables: Hmmm here we go again, where are we supposed to get mounts from during the pre-release?? Well there aren’t any so this site is useless.
(4) White Rocks: Not very good when you wont have any FP mounts in this set (Wow they really liked the idea of putting in non-useable mount orientated sites didn’t they?)
(5) Deep of Helm: Excellent choice
(6) Hornburg Armory: Fair enough
(7) Kings Room: Lets hope you pull a Rohan companion in your boosters, cause there aren’t any in the starters
(8) Ring of Isengard: There are only 5 Dunland Minions in this expansion (4 common + 1 rare) lets hope you pull a couple to make use of this site.
(9) Cavern’s of Isengard: Good choice when using Isengard Orcs.

*Comments: Well its about the same as the WK starter, there are 4 potential sites that could do with a change, although there isn’t exactly much of a selection to warrant changing Ring of Isengard, so lets say 3. Once again, your gonna be stuck with these for the tournament, as there are any valid replacements in the Ents of Fangorn set. I do think that this adventure deck is more useful should your fellowship drop behind and start relying on your minion’s to help win the game for you.

Free Peoples:

Hobbit Sword: There’s no real need for 3 of them, 2 would be sufficient.

*Comments: Not much to gripe about from this starter, I feel that its got a slightly more balanced feel to it.

Shadow:

Ferocity: With only 6 Uruk-Hai in your starter (unless you draft more in your boosters) these are a potential hand clog.

Uruk-Hai Raiding Party: Not that he’s all that bad, I guess the damage +1 is enough for him to be ok, but there are better Uruk’s around.

*Comments: Once again, not as much to point out as with the WK starter, just don’t let you hand clog up too much with Ferocity’s if your not pulling any of your Uruk’s.

HELPFUL HINTS:
*As the decks stand, for the WK starter I’d recommend starting the 2 hobbits + Quickbeam. With Anborn and Faramir for the F starter.
*Keep an eye on an opponent discarding a minion during their reconcile, that usually means they’ve got a clog of minion’s and you’d be better off calling it a day than risking another move.
*Try to remember key sites that may effect you in each deck like: Caverns of Isengard, Deep of Helm + Golden Hall
*Esp with Golden Hall for Faramir decks, it could be beneficial to wait till after site 3 to play your swords of gondor.
*A strategy for the Faramir deck VS the Witch-king deck could be to not give much twilight. All of the WK’s minion’s are either high cost big guys OR they have a high home site number, thus their paying +2 roaming cost before site 6.
*Run carefully. Most sealed deck tourneys are a race to the end first, but these decks are different – they both have the potential to hurt badly if you give them the chance. *It maybe a slight bit more important for the Faramir starter to want to go first VS the WK starter, as the nazgul are really good at preventing a second move.
*Remember to have fun.

Please remember that these are just my views and opinion’s, I understand that everyone looks at things differently, but I hope that you at least get something from this.

I’ll be involved in a Ents of Fangorn Pre-Release this Saturday 21st June, so I’ll be sure to write up an article about that and let you all know how it went. It’ll be interesting to see what happens, as I have this gut feeling that the Faramir starter is slightly more tuned than the Witch-king starter, but then again what you get in your boosters can change everything in a Pre-Release ;-)





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