Zigil Miner

  • Artist
    • Magali Villeneuve
  • Pre-errata
    • Action: Exhaust Zigil Miner and name a number to discard the top 2 cards of your deck. If at least one of those cards has a cost equal to the named number, choose a hero you control. That hero adds resources to his resource pool equal to the named number.

Extremely thematic resource acceleration card. Pre-errata it rivaled even Steward of Gondor. Post-errata it is still fantastic and fun.

Background

Zigil is the Dwarven or Khuzdul word for silver. The Silvertine mountain in the Misty Mountain range is known as Zirakzigil to the Dwarves. Mostly notably, Gandalf defeated the Balrog on its peak, The Silverlode river that runs through Lothlórien is also called Zigil-nâd.

Card Theme

First, I will refer to the discarding cards from the top of a player deck from here on out as mining. This card was the first player card to utilize discarding cards from the top of player’s deck. Subsequent cards with this mechanism, like Ered Nimras Prospector, have consistency linked it to mining and the Dwarves. I also can’t help but note how similar this is to the Magic the Gathering short hand, milling, for the same mechanism. As a long time Magic player, I really appreciate this because it’s not a hard switch to make.

I think matching this mechanism to the Dwarves and their love of mining is a perfect thematic match. Discarding from your deck you don’t know you don’t know what you’ll find until you start digging. That is at least without some tools to aid you. I’m not a mining expert, but I know that modern day tools allow for scanning underground to find likely mineral deposits. Similarly in the game players have a few options to see what their top card(s) are or even choose them.

Card Synergies and Interactions

Player Deck Scrying and Manipulation

Imladris Stargazer, Gildor Ingorion ally, and Wizard Pipe all provide players with the ability to manipulate the top card(s) of their deck. Imladris Stargazer and Gildor are great for setting up Zigil Miner because they can reorder the top 5 and 3 cards, respectively. This let’s the player choose both cards that will be mined. Gildor has the added bonus of letting a player swap a card from their hand to the top. This can be very useful to make use of duplicate unique cards along with a couple other uses I’ll cover later. Wizard Pipe can also choose the top card by swapping from hand much like Gildor. It doesn’t provide the ability to scry the player deck on its own. Typically that comes from Gandalf hero’s ability to play with the top card revealed. Still this can at least ensure the miner provides 1 resource using his ability.

Hidden Cache and Ered Luin Miner

These two cards are designed to be mined. Hidden Cache offsets the nerf Zigil Miner received from its errata down to 1 resource per card with a matching cost. Ered Luin Miner is not an efficient ally for 3 cost, but great value when put into play for free. If you have the misfortune to draw them, then Gildor and Wizard Pipe can put them back on top.

Discard Recursion

There are two card effects that I classify as discard recursion. The first takes cards from the discard pile and either puts them directly into play or into a player’s hand. The other puts cards from the discard pile back into the deck.

There are quite a few cards that can pull cards back from the discard pile. Stand and Fight, Caldara, Reforged, To me! O my kinsfolk!, all can put one directly into play. Last one is a a crossover since the ally is put on the bottom of the deck at end of the phase and shares the Dwarf theme. Dwarven Tomb, Erebor Hammersmith, and Second Breakfast can all return a card to a player’s hand. Four of these are even in the first cycle for progression players to combo with the miner.

Recursion cards that take cards from the discard pile and put them into play or hand can turn Zigil Miner’s ability into pseudo-card draw or tutoring. For example, the miner could mine an Erebor Hammersmith and Unexpected Courage. Stand and Fight then could target the Hammersmith and put it into play. Hammersmith could put Unexpected Courage into a player’s hand. This a fairly optimized example, but very possible. Stand and Fight, Reforged, To me! O my kinsfolk!, and Dwarven Tomb can target any non-neutral ally, non-neutral attachment, Dwarf ally, or Spirit card, respectively. Aggressive use of Zigil Miner’s abililty with multiple copies in play only increases the number of possible targets in the discard pile for each card.

The downside to mining ability of course is running out of cards in your deck. Fortunately, the core set provided the ultimate means of refilling it, Will of the West. Once the entire discard is back into the deck, the player is free to mine or draw those cards again. Later cards like Dwarf Pipe, Tactics Nori, and Galadhrim Weaver only put 1 card back into the deck at a time. The use of them ends up being more tactical to shuffle in the most useful card(s). The upside is dead cards like duplicate unique ones don’t have to be returned to the deck.

The Record attachments of Map of Earnil, Tome of Atanatar, Scroll of Isildur, and Book of Eldacar cover both discard recursion effects. They let you play an event in your discard pile. Then put it back on the bottom of your deck. Map of Earnil and Tome of Atanatar also can replay the recursion identified earlier.

Cards with the Same Cost

Another way to make the miner’s ability very consistent is just to build your deck with cards that all have the same cost. Two or three cost are generally the best to use for this. There are a lot of options at those costs particularly for allies (see table). Those costs are high enough that Zigil Miner’s resource acceleration is still useful, but not so high that slows down early game tempo. Even just building mostly of the same cost card and playing the odds of what is left in your deck can work well.

CostCountAlly Count
01695
127926
2228129
3146104
46747
53318
622
Count is player card results returned by Hall of Beorn search for that cost on November 27, 2021. These numbers may include double counts due to reprinted cards in the Limited Edition Two Player Starter and Revised Core Set.

Quest Specific

In the Saga quests, you have the option in Helm’s Deep to take the Poisoned Counsels burden. If drawn, you have to discard your hand. Zigil Miner offers a way to avoid drawing it. In the Ered Mithren cycle, there is a treachery with a similar effect. Lost in the Wild when it is revealed it goes directly to a player’s hand and discard your hand when a card is played. Gildor or Wizard Pipe plus the miner, however, can put it on top of a player’s deck and mine it away.

There are a couple quests where if your deck runs out, you lose and Zigil Miner is not a good idea. Deadman’s Dike in the Lost Realm is the first. You can play Will of the West or a larger deck to play around the loss condition and still use the miner if you want. There are few encounter card effects, however, that are based on cards in your discard pile. For example, the shadow effect on Dark Sorcery will discard the defender if there is a copy of that ally in your discard pile.

The other is Under the Ash Mountains. It’s even more punishing than Deadman’s Dike. It forces the players to mine down to 40 cards. This one doesn’t allow events to shuffle cards from your discard pile back into your deck barring Will of the West. The quest will mine a minimum of 2 cards per turn from your deck but often more.

Ring Rating

Card Talk uses the highly scientific yet arbitrary scale of 1 ring for the card to rule them all to 10 to be cast back into the fiery chasm from whence it came.

I rate Zigil Miner at 2 even post-errata. It provides solid resource acceleration in Spirit. It is not difficult to make reliable either with Imladris Stargazer or just building your deck with all or mostly cards with the same cost. You can easily get bonus ally and resources with Ered Luin Miner and Hidden Cache. It also can provide pseudo-card draw when paired with Stand and Fight, Reforged, and Dwarven Tomb that are all in-sphere. If you don’t need the miner’s ability, it has 1 willpower and attack so it can help out with questing or attacking as needed. In a pinch, it can even chump block. The only downsides are it is not neutral and its 1 hit point that makes it vulnerable to direct damage effects like Necromancer’s Reach. If I’m playing Spirit, Zigil Miner is always under consideration for the deck.

  • Jeremy – 2
  • Dave – 6
  • Grant – 3
  • Ted – 2
  • Matt – 2
  • Average – 3

Sample Decks

The Dain and the Discard by Dave Walsh

This Dwarf mining deck is more focused on using Gandalf to set up putting attachments into play with Well-Equipped and Ring of Thror. Still Zigil Miner plays a role to accelerate resources to

Main Deck

Hero (3)
Dáin Ironfoot (The Ghost of Framsburg)
Gandalf (The Road Darkens)
Glóin (Core Set)

Ally (15)
2x Erebor Guard (The Sands of Harad)
2x Erebor Toymaker (Mount Gundabad)
3x Ered Luin Miner (Temple of the Deceived)
3x Ethir Swordsman (The Steward’s Fear)
2x Gimli (The Treason of Saruman)
1x Glorfindel (Flight of the Stormcaller)
2x Zigil Miner (Khazad-dûm)

Attachment (21)
2x Gandalf’s Staff (The Road Darkens)
2x King Under the Mountain (On the Doorstep)
1x Magic Ring (The Crossings of Poros)
2x Narya (The Grey Havens)
1x Orcrist (Fire in the Night)
1x Ring of Barahir (The Steward’s Fear)
2x Ring of Thrór (The Ghost of Framsburg)
2x Shadowfax (The Treason of Saruman)
1x Silver Lamp (The Voice of Isengard)
2x Steward of Gondor (Core Set)
3x Unexpected Courage (Core Set)
2x Wizard Pipe (The Road Darkens)

Event (18)
3x Durin’s Song (Khazad-dûm)
3x Hidden Cache (The Morgul Vale)
3x The Galadhrim’s Greeting (Core Set)
3x Untroubled by Darkness (Khazad-dûm)
3x Well-Equipped (The Blood of Gondor)
3x Will of the West (Core Set)

3 Heroes, 54 Cards
Cards up to Mount Gundabad

Decklist built and published on RingsDB.

Love of the Halfling’s Leaf by MrSpaceBear

This is a really interesting combination of the mining and pipes archetypes. I have based a few different decks off this one.

Main Deck

Hero (3)
(MotK) Bilbo Baggins (Messenger of the King Allies)
Dáin Ironfoot (The Ghost of Framsburg)
Gandalf (The Road Darkens)

Contract (0)
1x Messenger of the King (The Land of Sorrow)

Ally (19)
1x Arwen Undómiel (The Watcher in the Water)
3x Ered Luin Miner (Temple of the Deceived)
1x Faramir (Core Set)
1x Firyal (The Mûmakil)
1x Gimli (The Treason of Saruman)
1x Glorfindel (Flight of the Stormcaller)
1x Legolas (The Treason of Saruman)
2x Northern Tracker (Core Set)
3x Rhovanion Outrider (Temple of the Deceived)
1x Súlien (The City of Corsairs)
1x Thalion (Fire in the Night)
3x Zigil Miner (Khazad-dûm)

Attachment (18)
1x Ancestral Armor (Roam Across Rhovanion)
1x Armor of Erebor (Mount Gundabad)
3x Dwarf Pipe (The Mûmakil)
1x Expert Treasure-hunter (On the Doorstep)
1x Gandalf’s Staff (The Road Darkens)
1x Hobbit Pipe (The Black Riders)
1x Inner Strength (Wrath and Ruin)
1x Shadowfax (The Treason of Saruman)
2x Silver Circlet (Wrath and Ruin)
2x Spare Pipe (The Land of Sorrow)
3x Unexpected Courage (Core Set)
1x Wizard Pipe (The Road Darkens)

Event (18)
3x A Test of Will (Core Set)
3x Hidden Cache (The Morgul Vale)
3x Old Toby (The Black Serpent)
3x Smoke and Think (The Land of Sorrow)
2x Smoke Rings (The Black Riders)
2x Well-Equipped (The Blood of Gondor)
2x Will of the West (Core Set)

Player Side Quest (1)
1x Double Back (Escape from Mount Gram)

3 Heroes, 56 Cards
Cards up to The Land of Sorrow

Sideboard

Ally (3)
1x Lórien Guide (Core Set)
1x Northern Tracker (Core Set)
1x Treebeard (The Antlered Crown)

Attachment (1)
1x The One Ring (A Shadow in the East)

Event (1)
1x Well-Equipped (The Blood of Gondor)

Decklist built and published on RingsDB.

Everything* Costs 2 by Seastan

The deck contains 41 cards that cost 2. Galdor to help find Zigil Miner on the first turn. Then uses Zigil Miner and Arwen to accelerate resources for a swarm of cheap allies. Elven-Light can also use those resources to draw extra cards a turn.

Main Deck

Hero (3)
Arwen Undómiel (The Dread Realm)
Beregond (Heirs of Númenor)
Galdor of the Havens (The Grey Havens)

Ally (29)
1x Bilbo Baggins (The Road Darkens)
3x Envoy of Pelargir (Heirs of Númenor)
2x Erebor Hammersmith (Core Set)
2x Ered Nimrais Prospector (The Morgul Vale)
3x Ethir Swordsman (The Steward’s Fear)
3x Galadhon Archer (The Nîn-in-Eilph)
2x Galadriel’s Handmaiden (Celebrimbor’s Secret)
1x Gléowine (Core Set)
3x Honour Guard (The Wastes of Eriador)
2x Mithlond Sea-watcher (The Grey Havens)
1x Quickbeam (The Treason of Saruman)
3x Warden of Healing (The Long Dark)
3x Zigil Miner (Khazad-dûm)

Attachment (11)
2x Protector of Lórien (Core Set)
2x Ranger Spikes (Heirs of Númenor)
2x Raven-winged Helm (The Wastes of Eriador)
2x Spear of the Citadel (Heirs of Númenor)
3x Unexpected Courage (Core Set)

Event (10)
2x Elven-light (The Dread Realm)
3x Hidden Cache (The Morgul Vale)
3x The Evening Star (The Grey Havens)
2x Will of the West (Core Set)

3 Heroes, 50 Cards
Cards up to The Grey Havens

Decklist built and published on RingsDB.

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