Forestguls is a strategy appearing in all post-Shadows formats. It is usually restricted to the Ringwraith culture, though a splash from other cultures is occasionally used. It uses site manipulation extensively, and aims to win with strength via Lost in the Woods (11U212), though it is not a clear-cut beatdown strategy.
The aim of the deck is to make as many sites on the adventure path forests. It usually does so by the Free Peoples side working in tandem with the Shadow, which is a a unique concept to post-Shadows decks. This usually means that you play Smeagol or Gandalf's bag of site tricks, then use Nazgûl that play around with sites, for example, Úlairë Nelya, Third of the Nine Riders (11S222), and sometimes Gollum with Led Astray (11U45).
The deck is usually paired with a Free Peoples side that can manipulate the site path, but it is good to have site manipulation on the Shadow side. There a quite a few ways to do this. Úlairë Nelya, Third of the Nine Riders (11S222) is a staple of most Nazgûl decks. Úlairë Toldëa, Eighth of the Nine Riders (11S225) can work as well, but is unreliable and largely eclipsed by Úlairë Toldëa, Black Shadow (12U180), who can recur Dark Approach (12R162), All Life Flees (18U132) (a powerful hate card), or Too Great and Terrible (3R85) (a must in Expanded). A Gollum splash for threats and recursion via Evil-smelling Fens (5U22) can include Led Astray (11U45) to keep your sites out.
Once you have forests on the site path, there are multiple ways to use them. There are two cards that capitalize on forests heavily; Lost in the Woods (11U212) and Dark Approach (12R162). Lost in the Woods is only useful on higher-strength characters, so using Nazgûl like Úlairë Nertëa, Dark Horseman (19P38) or Úlairë Cantëa, Black Assassin (12R174) to get them where you want them is very helpful. Dark Approach is usually recurred by Úlairë Toldëa, Black Shadow (12U180), but can also be fetched by Ring of Terror (17R143) or The Witch-king, Morgul King (7R221). Both of these can also recur Lost in the Woods in the event that it is discarded. Most Forestgul decks incorporate Moving This Way (11S213) to keep your deck cycling and to store Nazgûl for later. Black Rider (12U161) is a must for a potential swarm, as he is the only Nazgûl that is not unique. The Witch-king, Captain of the Nine Riders (11R226) is often used for his Toil discount as a free minion with good body.
Often Threatguls components are used in the deck, mainly as a meta call and to make the deck more versatile. Úlairë Cantëa, Faster Than Winds (7R211) is powerful possession hate, and also punishes large fellowships. They Feel The Precious (15U183) is basic wound prevention, and is a powerful silver bullet against the Rise of Saruman duo, Orophin, Silvan Elf (17S11) and Rúmil, Silvan Elf (17S12), and answers Aragorn’s Bow, Ranger's Longbow (15R56) very well. Ring of Terror (17R143) and The Witch-king, Morgul King (7R221) both are powerful recursion tools, and rely on threats. Úlairë Lemenya, Eternally Threatening (15R185) is powerful rainbow hate, and can fuel these other Nazgûl.
The other benefit of adding threats is that you can outright stop Free Peoples strategies that add threats. With enough threats added, threat adding cards become useless. In addition, even large fellowships look with fear at a hefty stack of threats waiting for a companion to be killed. With exerting cards like Úlairë Enquëa, Sixth of the Nine Riders (13R182), you can easily exhaust their fellowship, then kill a companion with Lost in the Woods (11U212).
Filling out the Deck
The rest of the deck is minions and meta cards. Too Great and Terrible (3R85) is a powerful answer to Gandalf, be it Gandalf, Wise Guide (19P8) or Gandalf, Powerful Guide (15R29). Gandalf's site manipulation tricks are a huge threat to your forests, and his condition sweeps like Deep in Thought (3C30) are a large problem. Buckland Homestead (11S230) is not a forest, but is powerful condition removal and can be swapped out with Úlairë Nelya, Third of the Nine Riders (11S222). Followers like Pallando, Far-travelling One (13R37) are a problem, so playing All Life Flees (18U132) can be a good solution, especially as Úlairë Toldëa, Black Shadow (12U180) can recur it. Úlairë Enquëa, Lieutenant of Morgul (1U231) is solid crowd control, and an alternate version, Úlairë Enquëa, Sixth of the Nine Riders (13R182), is equally strong. Úlairë Otsëa, Duplicitous Specter (17R141) is solid card draw and is a cheap Nazgûl.
If you are going a swarm direction, Úlairë Nertëa, Servant of the Shadow (13C184) is preferable to Úlairë Nertëa, Dark Horseman (19P38). Splashing Gollum also is a strong option, as he can recur your minions with Evil-smelling Fens (5U22), fetch minions with Sudden Strike (15U51), and use Shelob, Her Ladyship (10R23) to keep your opponent's Durin III, Dwarven Lord (9R+3) or Elendil, The Tall (9R+32) from skirmishing.
Forestguls does have some inherent weaknesses. For instance, any sort of condition removal is a threat, as well as Gandalf, Wise Guide (19P8) canceling your Dark Approach (12R162), but these have workarounds. The more hardcore threats are these:
- Smeagol or Gandalf Site Manipulation
Smeagol is adept at shifting the adventure path to fit his needs, and so is Gandalf. Any shadow that needs certain sites struggles to deal with this. The only real solution is to do the same with your fellowship side.
Madril, Defender of Osgiliath (15R64) and Ithilien Blade (15C62) will tear you apart. What Are They? (1C119) will just make things worse. The only real way to fight a well-set-up Madril deck is by splashing Ships of Great Draught (8R65) and crossing your fingers they don't pack condition removal. Úlairë Enquëa, Sixth of the Nine Riders (13R182) can stave off their Ithilien Blades, but is easily countered by cards like Ranger’s Cloak (15C68) and Houses of Healing (11U61).
Apart from these, other threats are mainly annoyances that can be countered in some form or fashion. As long as you tech properly, you should have a solid deck.