C – core set
M – Shadows of Mirkwood cycle
M1 – Hunt for Gollum
M2 – Conflict at the Carrock
M3 – Journey to Rhosgobel
M4 – Hills of Emyn Muil
M5 – Dead Marshes
M6 – Return to Mirkwood
K – Khazad-dûm deluxe
D – Dwarrodelf cycle
D1 – Redhorn Gate
D2 – Road to Rivendell
D3 – Watcher in the Water
D4 – Long Dark
D5 – Foundations of Stone
D6 – Shadow and Flame
H – The Hobbit saga
H1 – Over Hill and Under Hill
H2 – On the Doorstep
N – Heirs of Númenor deluxe
S – Against the Shadow cycle
S1 – Steward’s Fear
S2 – Drúadan Forest
S3 – Encounter at Amon Dîn
S4 – Assault on Osgiliath
S5 – Blood of Gondor
S6 – Morgul Vale
Scouting and Encounter Deck Management
Even though Son of Arnor (C) has a printed Willpower of 0, his questing value (even for quests without keyword) is much greater than that. When you know you will engage an enemy anyways, you might as well engage it prior to staging to avoid its threat. However, there is a raising number of enemies that might punish this strategy. The good thing is there is an alternative use for the son of the fallen Northern Kingdom. Using Stand and Fight, Sneak Attack, or Vilya, one can put the ally into play in Combat phase just after enemies have finished their turn to attack. It will mean the enemy shall no longer strike this round but there is a chance to strike against it first, and Son of Arnor can contribute his 2 points of Attack.
Since there’s a way to pull enemies from the staging area, it is only right there’s also a way to push them back with A Light in the Dark (C). Works a bit like Feint without the chance of hitting s a bit like Feint without the chance of hitting the enemy, unless you control Dúnhere or other ways to attack into the staging area (more of that below).
There is a lovely art for Watchful Peace (N). There’s also a way or two to make this card useful. But there seem to be no easy ways to find those in the game. Yes, there are some friendly locations and it is always nice to explore them a bit more but overall it is a bit of a wishful strategy.
Whilst there are some friendly locations, mostly their text is not benign to the players, Thror’s Key (H2) can take that threat away, but is it really worth the card slot(s)?
Lore has the upper hand in this category and Denethor (C) is the grand-master of it. The more players in the game, the less potent this gets but it can be game-changing solo. You still need to quest and fight, however, so a strategy based upon scouting will need support in other areas. Denethor is an excellent defender, especially with A Burning Brand. He’s than a primary target for Unexpected Courage; encouraged Denethor can fend off many a Sauron’s thrall.
Henamarth Riversong (C) could be considered right hand of Denethor, though thematically this Silvan scout will hardly have doing with the Gondorian Steward. Yet, there may be some sort of revival of the Old Alliance between the Eldar and Dúnedain, so that Henamarth shall find his seat in the Courtyard of the White Tree. Theme aside, Henamarth is a great play, cost of 1 is already rare enough for an ally to be considered but master Riversong has many more tricks up his sleeves. He can quest, he can fight, and he can let you know what evil is coming.
Radagast’s Cunning (C) will help you with the threat in the staging area, but only with one enemy and only for once.
Ithilien Tracker (N) can do that repeatedly, you just have to exhaust him prior to staging and hope the enemy whose threat you wish to mitigate will be revealed.
One can go even further with Ranger Spikes (N), as this card can potentially remove the threat of an enemy (together with its potential to engage the player) completely. The enemy best be of threat 2 or lower and without special engaging (or other) abilities.
Advance Warning (S2) follows two themes, it is another Gondor-themed (which has nothing to do with the actual game mechanics) card that prevents enemies from engaging. And it is one of the four events coming out in one adventure pack that only works if all heroes of the deck have the same printed icon. It prevents all enemies from engaging for a phase.
Several quests feature condition attachments that usually hold ugly surprises for the players. Miner of the Iron Hills (C) is the guy to get you rid of those (which may be game-changing in some of the cases). His stats are not exactly terrible but he's still more of a one-trick-pony, especially when compared to his Erebor equivalent.
Secret Paths (C) is the equivalent of Radagast’s Cunning. It does depend on the quest to see which is more needed. For a general deck-building, it is hard to fit them in, as you will face quests when these will not help much.
Strider’s Path (M1) is a more active version of the above. It doesn’t just prolong the inevitable, it gets down to business.
Thror’s Map (H1) used to be a permanent Strider’s Path, whether by mistake or the total lack of foresight of the designers. It has been shafted, so that it now becomes almost useless. This is not designers’ finest hour by any means.
Ravens of the Mountain (H2) is a very peculiar card. Though it is just hard to find a strategy for a card which effect depends mostly on luck.
Rumour of the Earth (M6) follows the same encounter-peeking strategy that Denethor or Henamarth pave. This one is a free event with a costly recycling option.
One of the best reasons for the whole scouting business, and secrecy alike, is Risk Some Light (D6). In such a deck, you should always consider a mulligan for this card, because with the discount you shall always play it for free on round 1. The right start is key for any quest and this card should give you just that. Best for one or two players.
The advantage of Shadows of the Past (M6) is its neutral nature. It can work on its own given the number of encounter cards that are milder than the rest. But its main power really comes in synergy with some of the cards above – or some of the future cards that have been previewed (let me see the Palantír, is that Sauron calling?).