Strategy Guide -- Saruman

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Post by Wacho » Tue Jan 16, 2007 8:11 pm


Special Abilities -- May tap to use Palantir, May tap during end of turn phase to take a spell card from the discard pile to your hand
Missing Skill -- Warrior
Booster Card -- First of the Order
Home Site -- Isenguard

Saruman is probably the least popular wizard.  His abilities can be powerful but they do have significant disadvantages as well.  First of all, they both require you to tap, and to use the spell recycling ability Saruman has to remain untapped until the end of turn phase.  In all likelihood this means you'll use one or the other of these abilities, but not both.  Each of them also require you to make corruption checks.  Not to use the ability itself, but to use a palantir or to cast a spell a corruption check is required and so corruption is going to be a problem, and if Saruman is casting spells while carrying around a palantir that problem is increased dramatically, and further reduces the chances of you wanting to use both of these abilities.  On the plus side though, these abilities can be quite good if you can use them.  Palantir can help you get the cards you need, or plan ahead, or even counter your opponents hazards.  Spell recycling can bring into your hand powerful cards like Wizard's Flame, Vanishment, Wizard's Voice, or Sacrifice of Form.  Both of these abilities though take some time to set up.  You have to acquire a palantir or put spells in the discard pile.  One card that you'll need to watch out for though is Bane of the Ithil-Stone.  This can completely stop or at the very least severely hinder Saruman's abilities.  You will need to be able to deal with this card if your are planning to use Saruman in your deck.

Saruman's booster card is First of the Order, which gives him +2 to corruption checks for the rest of the turn.  While this complements Saruman's abilities and doesn't have the downside of needing to tap like most of the other wizard boosters, it doesn't have the flexibility of other corruption check helpers.  A Friend or Three is generally considered a much better card as it can be used to protect against corruption or to influence.  However if you anticipate multiple corruption checks in one turn such as with a spell heavy deck or against a strong corruption strategy First of the Order may be a better choice.  Otherwise, it is just too limited of a card to waste deckspace on.  Saruman has one other special card, The White Wizard.  While any wizard can play this card as Saruman you trump any other wizard and they can't play it.  This is a great card for him as it helps with his corruption checks and as he can have easy access to Sac of Form you should have no problem upgrading him to the White Wizard.

Saruman's homesite is at Isenguard.  He is one of the two wizards with a non-haven homesite (along with Radagast), but only Saruman's homesite is actually of much use.  This is one of Saruman's strong points.  While as a ruins and lairs Isenguard is somewhat dangerous it offers a selection of gold rings, major and minor items, and a palantir.  Saruman can come into play here and if not wounded or tapped during the M/H phase has a 72% chance of getting through the auto-attack untapped to play an item.  Or a company can come meet up with him at Isenguard and not only will they not have to waste a turn at a haven not doing anything but Saruman can tap and cancel the auto-attack so the others can enter unimpeded.  One other nice thing about Isenguard as a homesite is that it is not in a wilderness.  In fact if you focus on a Rohan/Gondor resource portion you can keep Saruman from ever having to travel through a wilderness the whole game.

The lack of warrior skill is a big weakness for Saruman.  This obviously hurts him in combat as he can't use cards like Risky Blow, or many weapons.  He also can't use Muster to gather factions, but that isn't a big deal as he has all the diplomat cards at his disposal.  But the biggest reason this hurts him is due to Beorning Skin-Changers.  These bears can keep him from going anywhere, and make it very risky to try using Saruman as a lone wizard.

Saruman can be used either in a passive or an active mode.  If you are planning on using palantir a passive strategy is probably more appropriate.  Give him a palantir and have him sit around gazing into his crystal ball.  If you want to use spells though an active strategy fits better.  Have him travel around with your main company and use Wizard's Flame or Vanishment to protect your group, or Wizard's Voice to influence.  If you can get a Fellowship on your company as well you can help Saruman with his corruption checks and make it really tough to hurt your company.  For either of these strategies having a way to untap Saruman is vital, so you'll most likely want And Forth He Hastened in your deck.

In summary, Saruman is best used in a Rohan/Gondor deck.  His homesite is centrally located and has items to play.  To use his abilities you'll need corruption check helpers and a way to untap him.  Focus on one or the other, active strategy with spells and passive with palantir.  He can be hard to use and he has some big weaknesses, but if you use him right he can be powerful.  You're also least likely to have your opponent steal your wizard.
Last edited by Wacho on Tue Jan 16, 2007 8:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by Gyg » Thu Jan 18, 2007 8:28 pm

If I may add a thing about Saruman.
In my experience (and I play Saruman all the time, although I'm rather poor player) his spell taking ability has one other advantage. You can counter certain opponent's hazard strategy without much effort. Tipically on first turn I tap Saruman to bring Vanishment, Wizard's Uncloaked, Sacrifice of Form, Wizard's Laughter to discard pile.
Now I can have spell suitable to fight corruption, influence attempts and against normal creatures. With it I successfully defended againt corruption decks and agents.
The key is not to rely on playing MPs with Saruman to have him untapped at the end of turn. Actually Dwarves with Saruman work well, especially with Return of the King (quick access to Sac of Form).

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Post by Zarathustra » Thu Jan 18, 2007 8:37 pm

Do you mean King Under the Mountain?

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Post by Gyg » Thu Jan 18, 2007 8:41 pm

Yes, King under The Mountain... :oops:

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