[hero; vs hero] Challenge Deck C (Pallando: Dwarven Quest)

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[hero; vs hero] Challenge Deck C (Pallando: Dwarven Quest)

Post by EndersGame » Wed Dec 07, 2005 7:12 pm

This is the first "Analyze, Customize and Improve a Challenge Deck" thread, geared especially towards newer players, with the help and input of experienced players.  Using the pre-constructed Challenge Deck as a starting point, feel free to comment on its strengths and weaknesses, and make suggestions for improving it.  

- no more rares can be added, aside from those already in the Challenge Deck.  
- any cards can be removed, as long as they are replaced mostly with commons and the odd uncommon
- restrict the deck to a hero alignment vs hero, since that is what new players usually begin with.
- cards should mostly be from METW, although cards can also be from MeTD and MEDM as well.  
More about the background on this idea: http://www.meccg.net/dforum/viewtopic.php?t=1470

This thread is for the first in the series: Challenge Deck C (Pallando: Dwarven Quest)
Thanks in advance for any input, and I look forward to reading any comments and suggestions that are made!
Last edited by EndersGame on Wed Dec 07, 2005 10:13 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by EndersGame » Wed Dec 07, 2005 7:14 pm

(Pallando, with Animal hazards)

Thorin II [R] w/ Cram
Óin w/ Cram

Pallando (x3)
Gildor Inglorion
Boromir II


Bow of Dragon-horn
Book of Mazarbul
Durin's Axe
Enruned Shield
Hauberk of Bright Mail
Iron Hill Dwarves
Magical Harp
Men of Dorwinion
Wormsbane [R]

A Friend of Three (x2)
Bounty of the Hoard
Concealment (x3)
Fellowship (x2)
Hundreds of Butterflies
Marvels Told
Not at Home (x2)
Risky Blow
Smoke Rings
Thror's Map
The Dwarves Are Upon You! (x2)
Lucky Search [R]

Blue Mountain Dwarf-hold
Buhr Widu
Caves of Ûlund
Dead Marshes
Grey Havens
Iron Hill Dwarf-hold
The Lonely Mountain
Ovir Hollow
Sarn Goriwing


Giant Spiders (x3)
Lesser Spiders (x3)
Neeker-breekers (x2)
Wargs (x2)
Watcher in the Water (x3)
Cave Worm (x3)

Full of Froth and Rage (x3)
River (x2)
Wake of War (x2)
Twilight (x2)
Despair of the Heart (x3)
Seized by Terror (x2)


Blue Mountain Dwarves
Gates of Morning (x2)
Marvel's Told (x2)
Not at Home
Promptings of Wisdom (x2)
The Old Thrush

Covetous Thoughts (x2)
Foolish Words (x2)
Ghosts (x3)
Lost in Free-domains
Muster Disperses

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Post by EndersGame » Wed Dec 07, 2005 7:16 pm

Play Tips from the Challenge Deck Rule Booklet
Suggested Sites for Resources

Bow of Dragon-horn - Ovir Hollow or with Bounty of the Hoard
Book of Mazarbul - Moria (storing it at the Blue Mountain Dwarf-hold)
Durin's Axe - Sarn Goriwing or Buhr Widu
Enruned Shield - Caves of Ulund or The Lonely Mountain
Gollum - Goblin-gate
Hauberk of Bright Mail - Sarn Goriwing or Buhr Widu
Iron Hill Dwarves - Iron Hill Dwarf-hold
Magical Harp - Ovir Hollow or with Bounty of the Hoard
Men of Dorwinion - Shrel-Kain
Quickbeam - Wellinghall
Wormsbane - Dead Marshes, Caves of Ulund, or The Lonely Mountain
Blue Mountain Dwarves (sideboard) - Blue Mountain Dwarf-hold

Resource Play

This deck is loaded with items giving strong tactical advantages in play.  Corruption is a natural danger when playing a large number of items, so take the time to play both Fellowships.

In a deck using one large company, resources that allow multiple MPs to be played in one turn are needed for speed.  This deck has three: Bounty of the Hoard, Lucky Search, and Thror's Map.  Take special care to use these to their full advantage.  Thror's Map is the most powerful of the bunch, so never discard it.  Note that Lucky Search can only be played at Dead Marshes, Goblin-gate, Moria, or Sarn Goriwing - not at a Dragon's Lair.

This deck can fight creatures for MPs or cancel the overwhelming threats.  After the first few risky turns, the Dwarven company should be in a comfortable position when attacked.


Pallando should move to Lorien and form a company there from the play deck.  This company is responsible for playing the two allies and the Book of Mazarbul - if not played with the Dwarves on an early turn.  Otherwise, Pallando should not move unless you can properly protect him with tactical options from your hand.  After playing Quickbeam, relocate Pallando's company to Rivendell.  Tap Pallando to bring the Blue Mountain Dwarves into the play deck.  His company should be in a convenient position to move to the Blue Mountain Dwarf-hold to store the Book of Mazarbul and play this faction.

Hazard Play

The hazards attempt to swarm an opponent with high frequency of play creatures.  Do not underestimate the role of Neeker-breekers.  The greatest threats are the spiders and Watchers in the Water enhanced with Full of Froth and Rage and Wake of War.  The hazards also have a roadblock sub theme that fills out its blind spots in the dark areas against Ringwraith opponents.


The sideboarding for this deck is not as important as with other Challenge Decks.  The most important play is bringing in the Blue Mountain Dwarves after playing the Book of Mazarbul.  If you believe your opponent has any sort of Dragon or Drake creatures, bring in The Old Thrush.
Last edited by EndersGame on Wed Dec 07, 2005 7:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by EndersGame » Wed Dec 07, 2005 7:24 pm

Analysis from Card of the Day #768
This is an interesting deck. I have to pause and try to understand why the designers chose to use Pallando with all these Dwarves ("Thorin and company, at your service.") instead of a Wizard who could take a more active role (namely, Radagast and Gandalf--for his ability to come into play at Lorien). I personally think this is the starting company that sho uld have been in the Alatar deck... Thorin II is the absolute best Scout, bar none, for a Thorough Search deck. And with Gloin, Oin and Kili (ditching Dori, of course, who stands in mainly as an excuse for your opponent to play an extra hazard) in the same company, the necessary skills are covered, and you have a fairly solid group of Orc bashers. But that's n ot what ICE chose to do, so I am left to review this deck as it was made.

Pallando is the Wizard who lets you hold an extra card and see your opponents discards. He's the "see what's coming and be prepared to deal with it" Wizard. Yet, for some reason, even though he has the same prowess as the other Wizards, I've attached some odd stigma to him wher e I thoroughly believe he's the wimp of the Wizards. I see him as creatur e bait. Radagast, I feel, is the strongest; his ability to draw a mass of c ards allows you to hold the right card to deal with whatever hazard your opponent plays. Alatar puts all doubts about Wizard prowess to rest with his persistent desire to run out of havens and smite those feeble creatur es that mercilessly assault your companies. Saruman can recycle powerful spells; unfortunately he needs to be untapped at the end of the turn to b e able to do so. Gandalf has +1 against all corruption checks and can carry weapons with a bit less worry; plus, in those rare occassions when it is actually played, Narya boosts him up to a 10/10 fearless master of magic. Pallando, on the other hand, is left with whatever you have in your one-card-larger hand. Certainly, he can carry weapons or do the same stuf f as the other Wizards, but it just doesn't seem fitting. This is our pro phet of doom, a morbid fellow, who tends to sit in the Grey Havens waiting for Cirdan and the Elves of Lindon to turn to his cause. So, why is he suddenly associating himself with all these Dwarves who want to run about snatching magical items from under the bellies of the great, scaly beasts? I'm not quite certain. It doesn't really seem to fit him as w ell as an Old Road and Lordly Presence deck would (especially since it doesn't utilize any of his skills), but now's the time for me to set aside my preconceptions...

What I see at first is a fairly low-prowess company to think about venturing off into Dragon Territory. With no one at a starting prowess greater than 5, the first Dragon and Drake attacks, particularily the automatic-attacks, will need to be cancelled--hence, Concealment, which goes well with the 2 starting Scouts. Not at Home is also a very good car d for this deck. What would have been really nice is Dragon Feuds with a Drake hazard strategy, allowing you to discard a Drake or Dragon hazard to cancel a Drake or Dragon attack. The five starting characters all have prowesses of 3 or higher, meaning they stand a good chance at basic creatures: Orcs, Wolves, Undead, Spiders and Animals. But Drakes have larger prowesses, and 2@14 from a True Cold Drake is just too much for this little company to handle... Until they get properly boosted. With th e 2 Fellowships on the company and Durin's Axe and Wormsbane on Thorin and either Pallando or Gloin, you have a high prowess of 11 (or 12 for Pallando against Drakes and Dragons) and no one with a prowess lower than 5. At this point, The Dwarves Are Upon You! becomes a playable card; risking the body penalty is a no-no until you have better than a 50 /50 chance of defeating a strike with the +2 to prowess. So, a 5/5 Dori (with The Dwarves Are Upon You!) against a Cave Drake is a fair bet, but against a Barrow-wight, he's as likely to die as he is to defeat the Barrow-wight. Yet, when those 2 Fellowships are played, all he needs is a 6 to defeat the same Barrow-wight, and we find it is at this point that many of the support cards first become terribly useful. This is both a fl aw and a challenge within the deck--needing to get your characters to a Have n (with Quickbeam in the company) to play 2 Fellowships on them for them to have a good chance at surviving in Dragon Territory. It is possible, o f course, that the company, with its 2 Scouts, can Conceal itself from creatures and find that Dragons are Not at Home at their sites in order t o play nice MP items, but that leads us to the second concern...

The deck is not very well balanced. Almost all the MPs in the deck are from items, and there are a great number of high MP items. There are, thankfully, at least 2 factions and 2 allies (better than the one of one source that appears in several Challenge Decks), but the allies both requ ire heading back out of Dragon Territory. The factions are both good; it's just a wonder, with all the factions playable within one or two regions of eac h other in that area, that the deck doesn't have more.

The hazards are solid. The deck is a basic Full of Froth and Rage, Spider and Animal deck with the ever-connected Wolves and Wake of War (thanks to this card, the strategies are inter-dependent). Sadly, your ow n company becomes quite susceptible to any modified creatures your opponent plays against you, since the entire deck is based on double-wilderness sites. This is a minor matter when discussing a Challenge Deck. It's not often I've looked at a Challenge Deck and ha d my first concern be about its synergy with the resources rather than foun d it to be somewhat confused or feeble. It's interesting to note (after h aving a somewhat lengthy conversation with Radagast) that the creatures are primarily keyed to regions (and largely to double-wilderness at that) rat her than sites. It's not my style because I am never certain that my oppone nt will wander through those region types, and I feel more confident about hitting him where he ends up. Yet, with all the creatures keyed to double-wilderness or wilderness, it makes for a very good, "first turn" hazard deck--the kind that hurts characters on their way out of Rivendell and sets you up with an initial advantage.

Meanwhile, Pallando must have some secret reason for his sudden interest in Dwarven affairs, but I'm still unclear what it is...

Source: http://fan.theonering.net/morgulrats/cotd/cotd768.html

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Post by Zarathustra » Thu Dec 08, 2005 7:39 am

This deck is pretty badly designed.  It's all over the map, and it doesnt seem to have a coherent goal.  I must say, however, that I disagree with the CoTD review that calls Pallando a wimpy wizard....

In any case, here's some suggestions:

Characters: No idea why there are elves or a dunadan in this deck.  At best there should be a man or two.  Given that they are there, I'd drop Kili and Dori in the starting company for Elrohir.  No need to sponge up more HL than you've already got.

MP Resources:

Lose: Book of Mazarbul, Hauburk, Men of Dorwinion; add: Glamdring, Orcrist, Men of Northern R.

Supporting Resources:

Lose: 2 Fellowships, Bounty, Great Road; add: 2 Risky Blow, 1 Escape, 1 The Dwarves are Upon You.

Sites: Add all.


Lose: 3 Cave-Worms; add: 2 Ambushers, 1 slayer.

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Post by EndersGame » Fri Dec 09, 2005 4:15 am

Mark, thanks sincerely for taking the time to respond!  I have a few questions for you or any others prepared to tackle them:
Zarathustra wrote:This deck is pretty badly designed.  It's all over the map
Do you mean that geographically the target sites are too far apart?  I thought that most of the action as in the north east of the map, and depending on card draw, it's possible to limit moves to one or two regions at times.  But perhaps I'm wrong, or not quite understanding you.
Characters: No idea why there are elves or a dunadan in this deck.  At best there should be a man or two.  Given that they are there, I'd drop Kili and Dori in the starting company for Elrohir.  No need to sponge up more HL than you've already got.
I found that having Kili and Dori (with low mind) made a large dwarven company very vulnerable to "Seized by Terror" if going through shadowlands, and subsequently dividing the company and losing any Fellowship cards played.  So in addition to the improvement of an elf or man character, is that an additional consideration?
MP Resources:
Lose: Book of Mazarbul, Hauburk, Men of Dorwinion; add: Glamdring, Orcrist, Men of Northern R.
Just wondering about the reasons for these changes - I could likely learn a great deal by understanding the rationale for removing certain MPs and including others.
Supporting Resources: Lose: 2 Fellowships, Bounty, Great Road; add: 2 Risky Blow, 1 Escape, 1 The Dwarves are Upon You.
Bounty of the Hoard seemed useful to play two items at a single site (especially since the deck has several cards for cancelling auto-attacks) - so I'm curious about the reason for dropping it.  Same question about the Fellowships - wouldn't they really benefit a company of weaker dwarfs?
Lose: 3 Cave-Worms; add: 2 Ambushers, 1 slayer.
Are the Cave Worms typically regarded as weaker hazards?  Or are they just too limiting in where they can be played?

Please understand that my questions are being asked in ignorance rather than criticism of your suggestions!  I can assure you that newbies like me find this very helpful, so thanks again for your contribution to this discussion, and I look forward to reading any further comments from you and others about customizing the Pallando Challenge Deck!

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Post by Zarathustra » Fri Dec 09, 2005 6:07 am

No problem!

Yeah, it's got quickbeam and gollum and book of mazarbul and hoard items....  You basically want all of your MP resources to be reachable from one another's sites.  Can't get from Wellinghall or Moria to Withered Heath, so....

Yeah, Seized is a prime hazard vs. fellowships.  Divide and conquer!  And since there's 2 allies in the deck, the fellowships arent really playable anyway.

Book of Maz and Hauberk are both useless items.  Book because it takes so long to get any points out of it (3 at best), and hauberk because most people would much rather kill a creature and be tapped than be wounded and alive: in other words, weapons are better than armor.  Men of Dorwinion are way out in boony-ville, so it's better to replace them with something close by or use Smoke Rings to bring them in from the SB.  Bounty looks useful, but most of the time you're not going to have 2 characters untapped after entering a dragon hoard.  And you've got the Map for that anyway....

Fellowships: they're so hard to play.  In fact, I've never seen a really high-quality deck that used them.

Great Road: I think it's just nuts to let your opponent draw 6 cards while you draw 3 moving into Dragon Country.  I suppose it would make some sense if you were trying to get your fellowships into play, but since I recommended taking them out, I can see no use for Great Road in this deck.

Cave-Worms are great hazard creatures.  It's just that the creatures of this deck are almost all focused on deep wilderness, where the worms dwell.  I figured the easiest way to keep the animal/wolf/spider theme while still covering all bases was to drop the worms in favor of some men.

Glad to be of service.

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Post by EndersGame » Thu Jan 05, 2006 7:21 pm

Thanks for your comments Mark.  I know I found them very useful, I hope others did too!

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