Thematic Playthrough #5: Wielders of the Three

Of the Three Rings that the Elves had preserved unsullied no open word was ever spoken among the Wise, and few even of the Eldar knew where they were bestowed. Yet after the fall of Sauron their power was ever at work, and where they abode there mirth also dwelt and all things were unstained by the griefs of time.

This passage from “Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age” in The Silmarillion describing the “unsullied” works of Celebrimbor serves as a perfect introduction to my “Wielders of the Three” deck featuring Elrond, Gandalf, and Galadriel. Arguably the three most powerful individuals among the Free Peoples of Middle-earth during the Third Age, these members of the White Council also share the secret burden of being a Ring-bearer. Although their three Elven-rings were not forged by Sauron, they remain “subject to the One.” Therefore while the Three are the “last made” and thus “possess the greatest powers”, their guardians know that their power will not endure. Whether Sauron reclaims his One Ring or whether his enemies destroy it, the Three are doomed to fail and “pass into the twilight”.

“Three Rings for Elven kings under the sky…”

But at the time of our card game, it is not yet so. Elrond wields Vilya, the “mightiest of the Three”, Ring of Air. On Galadriel’s finger is Nenya, “wrought of mithril“, the Ring of Waters. Narya, the Red Ring, “remained hidden until the end, and none save Elrond and Galadriel and Círdan knew to whom it had been committed.” Originally given to Gil-galad and later passed to Círdan, it is only on the second to the last page of The Lord of the Rings, that we learn it is has been in the possession of Gandalf, who appears wearing it “openly on his hand” on the way to the Grey Havens.

While Narya still “remains hidden” in our LCG, these three heroes with our two released Elven-rings are definitely not lacking in potency. In fact, I daresay they form the nucleus of the most powerful solo deck you can build. When you control them with their full complement of attachments, it is simply ridiculous what you can accomplish. Wielders of Three Text ListFittingly, the Master of the Forge is the most essential ally in this deck. The quicker the Noldorin craftsman can begin churning out rings, staffs, pipes, armor and (more obscurely) courage, the sooner you will be ready to take on every enemy and treachery the encounter deck can muster. As the powerful card draw available from Expert Treasure-hunter, Galadriel, and Gandalf’s Staff thins your deck to just a few cards, you will see ally Beorn coming in and out of play regularly as a raging bear. If this isn’t enough attack strength, Gandalf can summon the Flame of Anor to attack for 9 after having a smoke on his Wizard Pipe with Brok Ironfist. Meanwhile Elrond equipped with Burning Brand and Elven Mail can defend against the mightiest blow with the support of his daughter Arwen and appointment as Protector of Lórien by his mother-in-law Galadriel.


“The Wielders of the Three” Deck

I’ve recently been playing my “Wielders of the Three” deck against the second scenario of The Road Darkens saga expansion, “Journey in the Dark”. Only Durin’s Bane, The Balrog of Morgoth, seems a foe worthy of their strength. Each time, the showdown has been epic.

I recorded my most recent playthrough to post on YouTube. Watching through my game while editing, I realized that I am still only scratching the surface of how powerful this deck can be. I regularly forgot to trigger Expert Treasure-hunter, neglected adding several resources to Treebeard, often let Gandalf’s Staff go unused for a round, and frequently exhausted allies to quest when they entered play in spite of Galadriel. Despite all this, I still managed to face The Balrog and I hope that the confrontation does not disappoint!

I did, unfortunately, make one incredibly bone-headed error at the very beginning of the game that I pray does not disqualify me from your good graces. For some inexplicable reason, I set my starting threat at 32 instead of 36. This was actually more of hassle in the long run, because a 38 threat Moria Orc sat in the staging area for several rounds while I complained about not wanting to optionally engage him. Meanwhile, I let Galadhrim’s Greeting clog my hand the entire game. If you can overlook this major mistake though, I hope you’ll enjoy my playthrough. I stuck a video camera tripod on my ceiling fan to get a great angle on the table!


  1. Awesome deck and awesome video, however you do make quite a few mistakes (some subjective). Not sure if you want critiques or not. Keep up the awesome content

    1. It was positively painful for me to watch the video as I was editing out pauses and speeding up the refresh phase. Besides the huge starting threat mistake, I also saw one time that I counted Galadriel as a questing character while calculating Faramir’s boost. There were TONS of “subjective” mistakes and actually watching this video made me ready to play this deck again and actually take advantage of its full power by not forgetting so many things. I would love to hear your critiques! Anybody who posts things on the internet is not only interested, but eager for feedback. What did you notice?

      1. Little things. Around the 10 minute mark Light of Valinor was on top of your deck, you only have two copies of it. You use master of the forge to look at the top 5 then pick light of valinor. Correct play would be play light of valinor, Then look at the top 5 cards. That way you see one more card and you still get LoV which would be my pick anyway. Another on was you had Gildor on top of your deck. You should have used your refresh action to put him into play with Elrond instead of draw him. Those are some subjective critiques from early on.

        Some play mistakes involve tapping Elrond to quest when he has LoV attached to him and things of this nature. Like tonskillitis said, there are a lot of things going on and there are a ton of choices to make which is why this deck is just super awesome but very easy to make mistakes.

        None of this is intended to be negative. Once again awesome video.

      2. I had seen the Elrond mistake, but hadn’t considered your strategic point about Light of Valinor and Gildor. Thanks for pointing it out! For me, one of the fun parts of posting a video is seeing what everyone else notices that I missed when playing, thereby learning to get better at the game. I may never be counted among “the Wise”, but I will keep trying to improve my play. Thanks again for the critique and don’t hesitate to mention anything else you notice (though admittedly, there’s too much to list!).

  2. This deck is awesome

  3. Tonskillitis · · Reply

    Great too see another video from Master of Lore! It was awesome to see Brok Ironfist pulling his weight even if it is just the image of his face in Gandalf’s head inspiring him to hit harder! The only problem with this deck is that there are some many different effects to remember trigger. Still it’s very effective, delightfully thematic (aside from Treebeard in Moria!) and seems like one of the most powerful iterations of the Gandalf deck. On a spectrum of fun vs fiddly where do you find that this deck sits?

    1. Great to see another comment from Tonskillitis! I always appreciate your remarks.

      To answer your question — Though “fiddly”, this deck was amazingly fun! Yes, there are too many things to remember and I did often forget. For instance, I exhausted Elrond to quest the very first round that I put Light of Valinor on him (Doh!). As long you won’t kick yourself for failing to utilize your full power, it will be a blast though. But know that as you become better and better at remembering and deploying all your abilities, this deck will just keep getting more and more powerful in your hands!

      I considered leaving out Treebeard in Moria for thematic reasons, but he and “young Gandalf” are good friends, so I couldn’t resist. I also thought Brok Ironfist was a poor thematic inclusion, but he is smoking a pipe and he’s in there just to use with Wizard Pipe to set up Flame of Anor, so I went for it. Plus, I haven’t used him in a deck for over two years so it was fun to see him on the table.

      Thanks for your comments and I’m glad you enjoyed the video despite my mistakes!

      1. Still not sure of Treebeard being hurried through the Mines of Moria and risk getting turned into charcoal by the Balrog! lol
        Great fun though.

        And yes, it is an insane deck!
        Loved it! lol

    2. Charcoal Treebeard, yikes!

  4. Thaddeus Papke · · Reply

    I’ve been really excited to try out a deck with those three heroes. I’ve held off only on account of wanting to let Galadriel play with her hubby in a Silvan deck. I’ve also been sorta waiting on the arrival of Shadowfax. But your deck might well inspire me to go ahead with it. I’ll probably give in to the temptation to include the likes of Gwaihir to expand on the “rockstars of Middle-Earth” thing that the deck has going on.

    1. With the release of Peter Jackson’s Hobbit movies, the theme of Galadriel leaving Celeborn to pal around with Gandalf instead is trending in the LOTR community. Poor husband! 😉

      With the exception of the Master of the Forge, Warden of Healing, and possibly Faramir, it should be entirely possible to swap out these “rockstars of Middle-earth” for any set of uber-allies. It would be interesting to run a deck of almost exclusively Tactics Eagles without a single Tactics hero and still have no problem putting them all into play!

  5. Chris Eckes · · Reply

    I’ve been trying to build this deck for a while. Interesting take on it, I’ll have to try it out!

    1. It’s a fun build. I feel like there are more choices to make then any solo deck I’ve built before. You must be truly Wise to run it well. If you’ve watched my playthrough, clearly I’m not there yet! 😉

  6. This hero set is definitely strong enough to take on every quest (if you cheat a little and always pick galadriel to be captured in Escape from…).

    I use 3x Elronds counsel and Dareon’s runes, with zigil miner instead of master of the forge, so I can function even without Vilya.

    1. How do you handle the Hill Troll coming on the first round? I guess if you get the right starting hand it’s possible.

      Ziggy and Stargazer would help dig for the key attachments just as well. I also thought about thinning the deck to 1 or 2 of some cards running Daeron’s Runes or the thematically appropriate White Council.

      1. Either chump block, and accept the increased Threat, or hold Gandalf or Elrond back, and hope for no +ATK shadow, or get out a first turn Beoren/Gildor and have him defend.

  7. dragonwarriorfan · · Reply

    So glad to see a true solo deck. It seems everyone playing solo these days plays two-handed. Anyway-what sub suggestions do you have for a single core set? Miravors for Unexpected, Boromir for Beorn, etc?

    1. Miruvor would be an excellent (and more thematic) replacement for Unexpected Courage. In fact, now that you mention it, I’d like to try playing with three copies instead of the UC just to enjoy the better lore connection!

      As for Beorn, his two function in the deck are usually attack strength and cost (for Flame of Anor). Thinking about theme, I’m now wondering how Saruman would play in this deck. He has that 5 attack and 5 cost. With Galadhrim’s Greeting, you can actually handle more threat raise than you’d first expect.

      Maybe the next tweak I want to make to this is make it a White Council deck with Saruman, Erestor, and Radagast as the other allies, maybe throw in Gwaihir and some Eagles like Thaddeus suggested…

  8. That’s a really cool deck I have to say. It’s the first deck I played that I didn’t build myself. And I’ve been playing for about 2 years now. Also I’m slowly coming back to playing real solo, not two-handed, which frustrated me too often back then. But with the growing cardpool it becomes more and more viable, very well demonstrated by your deck.
    I also threw in a copy of Beorns Hospitality, which already helped me in my first plays. And because of the cost it adds to Flame of Anor as well.
    And for the mistakes, I made a lot of them as well, there’s just so many things to think about. And like you said, it needs some experience to use the decks full potential…

    Thanks you for this great article!

    1. I’ve tried two-handed solo just because there are so many synergies (player and encounter) that you can’t experience in “true solo”, but I always find that keeping track of two hands makes me lose the ability to make the story in my mind which is what I most enjoy about playing.

      I’m glad you enjoyed the deck. I’m still tweaking as I find that the card draw can let me include fewer copies of some cards, but the basic premise remains. Beorn’s Hospitality or Grim Resolve sound like great adds!

      Playing the deck again since editing the video, I am finding it even more powerful after learning from the mistakes. Thanks for the feedback!

  9. Thaddeus Papke · · Reply

    I tried out my version of this deck last night (solo game against The Stone of Erech) and it was doing okay, but not great. My starting threat was so high and I never got Nenya so I was being required to engage all the enemies and take lots of undefended attacks. Fortunately, their beefy hitpoint pools and a Warden of Healing with Elrond helped with that, but it did mean I was in pretty rough shape when I got the the final stage and the King of the Dead came out. It was also around then that I realized that that for the whole game I had been forgetting Galadriel’s ability to keep Allies unexhausted for questing the round they enter play…
    I reset the game, got both Vilya and Nenya in my starting hand, and completed the whole quest by the time I had just gotten to the Dusk card. 😛
    It’s pretty crazy.

  10. Otherworlder · · Reply

    I built a version of this too. With Stargazer and Zigil Miner for extra resources, I can live without Vilya early game too. Triple Elrond’s Counsel on top of Galadhrim’s Greeting for threat management; I can literally finish in the mid-twenties, and I use big eagles and ally Boromir for attack power instead of Beorn (can’t find my Beorns…) I would love to see an ally Aragorn, that would be fun theme-wise in this deck. The deck is ridiculously powerful, can beat through almost every deck with relative ease.

    And I just realized I completely utterly forgot Galadriel’s ability with allies don’t exhaust to quest when they enter… Well then, this is a reeeaaally powerful deck lol.

  11. Futonrivercrossing · · Reply

    Just an amazing deck!! Probably the most powerful I’ve played 🙂 – I think one thing you could have done, is use the one ring to draw another card to find an enemy for stage 2.

  12. […] the Flame and everything will be set! I used this combo to great effect several times in my “Wielders of the Three” deck and it was great fun to see Brok Ironfist on the […]

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