The most well known and arguably the most powerful core set combo. At the cost of 1 Leadership resource you can put Gandalf into play and trigger his response for 3 cards, 4 damage to an enemy, or reduce your threat by 5. This alone makes one of the best ways to get card draw, direct damage, or threat reduction in the game and especially in the core set
Card Draw Effect
Aside from Beravor and Gleowine, this combo provides the best one time card draw effect prior to Foundation of Stone’s Daeron’s Runes. The other options within the core set are relatively expensive or conditional. Lorien’s Wealth in Lore costs 3 to draw the same 3 cards. Gandalf’s Search also a Lore event costs at least 1, but no matter how much you spend you only draw 1 card. In the same Leadership sphere as Sneak Attack, there is Valiant Sacrifice. It is similar in cost but it only draws 2 cards and an ally has to leave play. While this condition makes it more difficult to play, it combos with Sneak Attack + Gandalf. It can be played when Gandalf returns to hand at the end of the phase for Sneak Attack.
The direct damage is an incredibly useful effect and the flexibility on the timing of playing Gandalf makes it more so. You can play the combo at the beginning of the quest phase to kill an enemy and then quest with Gandalf. You can also play them at the action window after staging to kill an enemy and reduce staging area threat. It is less efficient since you can’t commit Gandalf to the quest and use his willpower. Still it can mean the difference between questing successfully or not. Another good time to play it after staging is when you are short a few progress to clear an active location or quest stage. Finally, another great time to play this combo is the action window at the beginning of the combat phase. You can potentially kill an enemy so it doesn’t have to be defended, or at least get it down to where you can kill it that turn. This also works well with Gondorian Spearman. If Gandalf can get the enemy down to 1 hit point, then the Spearman’s ability will kill it before its attack resolves. On top of it all, Gandalf can bring his 4 defense or attack to bear against an enemy.
The threat reduction particularly is important as Leadership is easier to pair with other spheres thanks to the resource acceleration of Steward of Gondor. One Leadership resource for 5 threat reduction is much cheaper than the only other big threat reduction card in the core set, Galadhrim’s Greeting.
2 thoughts on “Core Set Combos – Sneak Attack + Gandalf”
[…] tremendous value. It is so good, I’ve written and Dave made a video about it before in the Core Set Combo series For the low, low cost of one Leadership resource the player can draw 3 cards, lower threat […]
[…] be remiss without mentioning Core Set Gandalf because Reinforcements a double Sneak Attack, and Gandalf + Sneak Attack cemented Sneak Attack as a Leadership staple. Reinforcements + Gandalf alone isn’t quite the […]