I’m not entirely sure why, but I haven’t played Silvan decks are much as many of the other deck styles in the game. Dave over at Card Talk (who goes by Card Talk on RingsDB) built this deck and sent it my way.
Check out the full deck description to get some of the thoughts behind the cards included here.
Test 1 – Passage Through Mirkwood
I crushed it. I got a great starting setup with Nenya and Steward in my opening hand and I drew into O Lorien fairly early. I didn’t do a lot of bouncing beyond using The Tree People to get some more allies out of my deck but I beat the quest soundly without any trouble. I won on turn 6 with plenty of allies on the board and plenty more options in my hand.
Test 2 – The Mumakil
This took a while (15 turns) but I beat it. Willpower was actually my limiting factor. I couldn’t muster enough willpower to get enough progress on the first stage to progress after I got my Mumak in the staging area. The encounter deck stubbornly refused to give me any enemies for the first half of the game so several of my events stayed in my hand for a good while.
Test 3 – The Long Arm of Mordor
I played this with my local group in multiplayer context so I pulled it out see if this deck could manage it. This quest is a weird once since you don’t start with any of your heroes. I tried it three times but couldn’t make it work. Those heroes are too essential to the core of the deck. Without Galadriel’s action advantage and Celeborn stat buffs, the Silvans just didn’t do enough! 3 losses.
Test 4 – The Fords of Isen
Silvans decks like having cards in hand so this was a tough one but I beat it on the third attempt. My first attempts I couldn’t find Nenya and without it, willpower is a little hard to muster. Thranduil is really fun and good but his ability to play that ally during the combat phase means you’re going to lose out on that boosted willpower and free questing from Celeborn and Galadriel. In my first two attempts at this quest I wasn’t able to free Grima in time just because of lack of willpower. I feel like the deck misses Galadriel’s Handmaiden. That extra willpower would be nice and the threat reduction wouldn’t hurt either.
The Silvan Tracker was the MVP in these games. There’s a quest card effect, a Condition attachment, a Treachery and an enemy that all pile damage on your characters and without that healing I would have been destroyed.
By the midgame Rumil becomes a really good option for taking out an enemy before they attacked. Here I had 5 ranged characters in play by the end and that takes out most enemies.
By the end I was questing for about 14. I won on turn 9 with 36 cards left in my deck and a threat level of 43.
Test 5 – Intruders in Chetwood
This was a good game! I got up to 49 threat at one point and just had to keep drawing trying to find that Island Amid Perils. Pulling Rumil back for -4 threat is a nice feeling. I got Nenya right away so my willpower was fairly strong throughout the game. There are some big enemies in this quest and some shadow cards really hurt you for chump blocking (some really hurt you for defending with heroes as well…) so I wish I had some more options for beefing Thranduil up a little. That 3 defense and 4 hitpoints is enough for most low and mid level enemies, but doesn’t cut it when you’re defending a Orc War Party over and over again.
I won on turn 13 with 17 cards left in my deck and a threat level of 45.
Test 6 – Siege of Annuminas
The COTR Discord bot generated this random quest for me. This is pretty crazy hard in epic multiplayer but I really enjoy it solo. This was a very long game but I won! Props to the deck.
It took 19 turns but I made it through! Galadriel’s threat reduction was essential. Again, the limiting factor was willpower on stage 2. With so few allies with 2wp, it just takes so many characters to get willpower numbers up. I was topping out at about 14 willpower. Not bad at all but with good size locations to explore and 40-50 progress needed on stage 2, it took a while to get through it.
I really like this quest!
This is a solid deck. Silvan has been a good deck style for a long while now but Thranduil really opens up more options for the archetype. That being said, I’m going to be as critical/analytical as I can be here!
Celeborn and Galadriel have always been staples of the solo Silvan deck but that third hero was always flexible If you chose Tactics, you were limited on Lore cards and if you chose a Lore hero like Haldir, you didn’t have access to any of the Tactics allies. Thranduil smooths that over but at a bit of a cost.
- Overabundance of Leadership resources. Elvenking and O Lorien are essential so you need some Leadership but beyond that, you don’t need that many Leadership resources in a Silvan deck. There aren’t that many Silvan Leadership allies.
- Less willpower. This comes in two forms. He only has 1 willpower which means you can’t quest as hard if you’re in a bind. He also takes away some of that free questing power you get from allies you would have played in the planning phase without Thranduil. His combat action is strong, but it does come at a bit of a cost.
Galadriel is obviously a great choice for a Silvan deck (especially since there Legolas is the only true Spirit Silvan hero!). That action advantage on the buffed allies is great and all her threat reduction, card draw and questing assistance is extremely powerful. I do have to take issue with some of the comments regarding Galadriel in the deck description. The description recommends not using Galadriel’s threat/card action in the planning but waiting for the engagement or combat phase. This may be OK if she has Nenya attached and you’re not sure if you need her for the quest phase or not, but if she doesn’t have her ring, I think you’re hurting yourself to delay that action. I’m not sure what the perceived advantage would be for waiting but I think having more options in your hand during the planning phase is always good! She can’t defend or attack and if she can’t quest she might as well help you out by reducing your threat and give you a card right away! Getting that extra card in hand can help you plan your turn and may give you entirely new options which would be wasted if you delay in using it. As Eomer said to Gimli, “there are certain rash words concerning the Lady in the Golden Wood that lie still between us.”
Celeborn is clearly a perfect choice for a Silvan deck as well and I no comment on him. His 3 willpower is certainly welcome on turn 1.
As I move into looking at the other player cards I have to say that making cuts is the hardest part of putting together a Silvan deck at this point in the game’s life. There are so many good cards they just don’t fit into one deck! Silvans are really in a good place to create a 2 deck fellowship at this point just so you can play more of their cards.
After playing this deck through several quests I would say Willpower and card draw are points where the deck is weakest (defending can also be difficult in some quests) and Resources and Attack power are probably areas where the deck has more than enough support. The willpower and card draw issues are tied together. If your willpower is high enough, Galadriel can help out with the card draw, but if you can’t muster the necessary willpower, the card draw will stall and everything will shut down. I think adding a bit more willpower could free up Galadriel to use her ability more often and keep the deck running at high efficiency.
Let’s look at willpower. Celeborn’s 3 willpower is a nice place to start and if you can get Nenya out right away, your willpower should be pretty strong, but if I didn’t find Nenya, I found it was hard to build up questing momentum since the allies didn’t offer a lot of willpower, especially if I needed to wait until the combat phase to play that off-sphere ally. I noticed Galadriel’s Handmaiden was omitted from the ally list and sideboard, but I think that might be a good option for getting willpower numbers up faster. Most all of the other allies quest for 2 (or 3 for Haldir and Orophin) on their first turn in play but by the second turn they are only questing for 1 and you really lose momentum if you can’t play at least one every turn. Having at least 1 cheap ally that can quest for more would be helpful in my opinion. I’d even be tempted to add a single copy of Silvan Refugee as a non-unique pseudo Galion that would help with willpower.
I did some ally swapping and cut a little here and there and came out with a resource and stat curve looking like this. I added two copies of Gandalf from the Sideboard and that changes the stats a good bit but it now comes out in favor of the Willpower stat instead of Attack.
When it comes to card draw, Galadriel can do a lot and Legolas can keep your hand full as well. I had a decent hand of cards in most of my games but I ran out a couple times. I might be tempted to add a couple copies of Daeron’s Runes just to make better use of the Duplicates that tended to build up in my hand. Even if it means going to 53 cards, it wouldn’t be bad since it would basically be a “draw 2” effect once you have a duplicate to discard (and you have to have Nenya in play which is certainly a drawback.). It’s not a card you would want to see in your opening hand so maybe that means it wouldn’t improve things. Protector of Lorien would be a nice way to use those duplicates and its super thematic!
Resources became plentiful once O Lorien and Steward came into play! If I got Steward early, I usually stopped triggering it at some point in the mid game when I had more than enough resources for the cards in my hand. I played a version without Steward and it was tighter for sure but still very functional. If you could find a way to fetch O Lorien faster, I think this deck could get by with that and no Steward. Steward of Gondor does the trick for sure, but if you’re looking for an alternative so someone else can use it, Captain’s Wisdom might be an extra boost and the Greenwood Archer can help ready whichever hero you use to gain the resources.
In general I really like the ally list. I would try to fit Galadriel’s Handmaiden in there just for better willpower but that’s my main thought. It’s really nice to get those big 3 and 4 cost unique allies into play with a Tree People, but I think it would be OK to move Orophin and Haldir and maybe even Legolas down to 1 copy each just so you don’t start drawing duplicates later in the game (it seems like I was always drawing both Haldirs in the first couple rounds but never even drawing 1 Nenya!). The Silvan Tracker is really good here. I think 2 copies is enough unless you’re going up against a damage-heavy quest like Weather Hills or Escape from Umbar and then you might want to add a third.
Other allies that might fit well in this deck include Gandalf (Sneak Attack is always valuable in a Silvan context) and Henemarth Riversong. No reason not to run Henemarth in a solo Silvan deck!
Nenya and O Lorien are the essential attachments here but if you wanted some more room in the deck for those Silvan events, I think one could slim down the attachment list without hurting the deck too much.
Sword Thain is a nice combo with Sneak Attack, but I’m guessing it should be moved to the sideboard unless you add Sneak Attack to the deck. As it is, Sword Thain doesn’t do much except generate resources after the 4 turn of recouping the initial expense. It would be nice to get it on Legolas, Rumil or Haldir to give you conventional access to those off-spheres.
As already mentioned, Steward is nice but I wouldn’t count it as absolutely necessary. The Elvenking is a great and consistent way to get those allies back to hand, but in this deck, the heroes aren’t doing that much to make the readying effect essential. Thranduil doesn’t always need the readying because he isn’t really built up as a “super defender” so it falls to Celeborn and that basically gives you his willpower and then an emergency defense or 2 attack during the combat phase. I’m a little hesitant saying this but I think it would be OK to bring that number down to 2 instead of 3. That easy way to get Galion back into hand is pretty great but those duplicates cards really build up in your hand! I think 2 would be enough.
I usually include at least one copy of Unexpected Courage in Galadriel deck, and I wish it could fit in here, but I’m not I can find a spot for it. Getting her willpower and threat reduction every turn is pretty great.
There are a lot of good Silvan events and the recent addition of Quicker Than Sight is making it even harder to make the cuts to get down to 50. The only thought I had here was working Sneak Attack into the mix of events (especially if Gandalf gets added to the ally list). I think Island Amid Perils could be cut without too much harm to the deck if it has enough willpower to keep moving through a quest. But if you have resources to spare, it’s fun to bring Rumil back to hand for a -4 threat and then play him again in the combat phase to insta-kill another enemy. I really like Quicker Than Sight but if the quest has no super-offensive shadows, it could be swapped out if you needed room for a quest-specific card.
I’m not going to say changes are needed because the deck is working really well as it is, but this would be how I would be build this style of deck. I’ve added some willpower, cut some resource acceleration I didn’t think was strictly necessary and and reduced most of the unique allies to one copy each.
For some reason I haven’t played a lot of Silvan decks in the last couple years and this was a lot of fun! Last time I remember really working on building devoted Silvan decks was when Nin-in-eilph came out 100 years ago. Silvan is strong and a lot of fun.
This deck works really well and I beat a lot of quests with it. There are so many good Silvan cards around at this point that I think there could be several variations on a deck like this that could be really strong and I think I pointed out a few more cards that could be fun to layer in, but there’s no real need to change much here. The main areas I think might be altered to increase the strength of the deck would be to increase willpower by a little bit, add Henamarth for some encounter deck knowledge, throw Gandalf in for flexibility and cut a few cards that weren’t providing long term value in most games.
With plenty of Ranged allies in the deck, this could function well as a multiplayer deck as long as you are willing to give up Steward of Gondor if someone else is needing it.
If you haven’t already seen, Card Talk is currently releasing a lot of content focusing on Silvan cards and this deck in particular. You can find all their videos and releases on their Facebook page here. I think Dave is releasing videos of the deck in action so you can check that out as well. At this point he’s released a video of Passage Through Mirkwood but it sounds like he’ll be releasing several more this month.
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