The Shirefolk

  • Card Talk Season 5 Episode 42
    • Video episode
    • Audio episode
  • Cycle
    • Ered Mithren
  • Set
    • Mount Gundabad
  • Player Card Categories 
    • Threat Reduction

The Hobbit Enabler

Background

Hobbits came to settle The Shire from Bree in 1601 of the Third Age after getting permission from Arthedain’s King Argeleb II. In thirty years Hobbits from elsewhere in the Arnorion splinter kingdoms and Dunland came to settle until most Hobbits lived there. Shire Hobbits by the time of the quest to reclaim Erebor had become a heavily agrarian peaceful society if very sheltered. The Shirefolk were known for enjoying simple pleasures of food, smoking, and socializing.

Card Theme

One of the defining qualities of Hobbits in relation to the other races is how they’re overlooked. Part of that is their own doing in avoiding the “big folk” and the insularity of the Shire-folk. The other part of it is the underestimation of the other races. Part of that underestimation stems from the Hobbits avoiding becoming involved the other events of Middle-Earth. Another is that the Hobbits love of the more simple pleasures of life instead of great works of industry. Lastly as well is their short stature seeming as “almost like children” to most men. It is very fitting then that threat reduction is tied to cultural identity of The Shire-folk. Threat is intended to represent the attention of Sauron on the heroes and direct his forces to the great perceived threats. The Hobbits lacking any formal military, lack of widespread industry for armaments, disinterest in the geopolitics of Middle-Earth, and location far in the West made them particularly unthreatening to Mordor.

Card Synergies and Interactions

Hobbit Engage an Enemy with Higher Engagement Cost than Threat Bonus

This is where The Shirefolk really shines and obviously meant to. The Black Riders introduced this mechanism with Hobbit Cloak, Dagger of Westernesse, Lore Pippin hero, and Sam Gamgee hero to name a few. The danger to a Hobbit deck then is a low engagement cost enemy or massive threat gain. The Shirefolk counters both of those and fits into any configuration of Hobbit heroes and help to get those bonuses.

It also came in the same pack as Gaffer Gamgee that also shored up one of the biggest weaknesses of the Hobbit deck, defense. As long as threat is low and a player can spare Lore resources a round, that is one attack canceled every round or at worst every 2 rounds. It’s amazing and The Shirefolk can help keep it consistently happening.

Secrecy

The problem with Secrecy when introduced in Darrowdelf was that there few hero line ups that could have 3 heroes starting at 20 threat or lower. Hobbits fixed that with more good heroes at 6 or lower threat. Still it relied on getting good resource acceleration early with Resourceful and/or Timely Aid in hand early. Most times a player would be in secrecy for a few turns at most. The Shirefolk among other threat reduction introduced later made it easier to extend that window into the midgame. Hobbit decks with Elevenses, The Shirefolk, Smoke Rings, and Spirit Merry have many ways to keep utilizing Secrecy discounts throughout the entire game.

Pipes

Most specifically Hobbit Pipe. Hobbit Pipe turns threat reduction events into draw 1, 2, or 3 cards. A zero cost neutral event that helps the Hobbits do what they do best and draw more cards, it’s great! The Card draw then can help a player find Spare Pipe that can help find another The Shirefolk. There is really good synergy here to help keep the pipe engine moving and get some discounted powerful allies thanks to Smoke and Think.

Song of Eärendil

Song of Eärendil is a multiplayer focused card, but can be extremely powerful with Hobbits. As mentioned earlier, Hobbits have many ways to reduced threat. Spirit Merry in 3 to 4 player games can easily be reducing the Hobbit player’s threat by 2 – 4 per turn alone. Shirefolk only gives more means to offset using the second response liberally. In scenarios with a lot of threat raising effects, the Hobbit deck with this Song becomes a threat control support deck. It is not unheard of a Hobbit deck like this to keep everyone in the game and end with threat lower than its starting level.

Quest Specific

The Shirefolk is great to use in any quest with a lot of threat raising effects or Doomed. Later cycles in particular added more do X or raise threat effects. The Crossing of Poros for example has a Stage 2 that required allies to be exhausted when they enter play unless a player raises their threat by 1. The King’s Quest Stage 1 has players add a location to the staging area or raise their threat. Vengeance of Mordor cycle also hits players’ threat hard. The Power of Mordor encounter set featured in a few of the scenarios has a Doomed 5 card, another card will reduce a player’s threat elimination level by 5, and one raising threat for drawing cards.

Earlier cycles have a few stand out scenarios where threat reduction is a great idea. Shadow and Flame in the Darrowdelf cycle has players start at 0 threat and the Balrog has an engagement cost of 1. If a player can keep threat at 0 then they’re not engaged with Durin’s Bane and don’t have to take its attack. Trouble in Tharbad requires player to reduce their threat to 0 before advancing to a later stage of the game. It has a way for players to get there, but more threat reduction can help speed the game along.

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 The Shirefolk at 4 rings. It is a top notch enabler of the Hobbit strategy. It is neutral and zero cost so it can go into any Hobbit deck that uses all Hobbit heroes. The amount of threat taken off is better than most threat reduction cards except for Galadhrim’s Greeting, Lore Aragorn, and Core Set Gandalf. This helps ensure the Hobbits get their bonuses for engaging higher engagement cost enemies. The only downsides really is that it can’t be played outside Hobbit decks and it can’t be recurred with Record attachments. It’s niche tribal card but one that really helps do what it wants to.

  • Dave –
  • Grant –
  • Ted –
  • Matt – 4

External Links

Sample Decks

The Rise of the Hobbit Tacticians by Dave Walsh

Dave took it upon himself to build a Hobbit deck using only Tactics Hobbit heroes.

Main Deck

Hero (3)
Bilbo Baggins (Mount Gundabad)
Merry (The Black Riders)
Tom Cotton (The Mountain of Fire)

Ally (18)
1x Beechbone (The Battle of Carn Dûm)
2x Booming Ent (The Antlered Crown)
2x Derndingle Warrior (Escape from Mount Gram)
2x Farmer Maggot (The Black Riders)
2x Gandalf (Over Hill and Under Hill)
3x Master of the Forge (Shadow and Flame)
1x Quickbeam (The Treason of Saruman)
2x Rosie Cotton (The Mountain of Fire)
3x Treebeard (The Antlered Crown)

Attachment (20)
3x Dagger of Westernesse (The Black Riders)
3x Ent Draught (The Treason of Saruman)
3x Fast Hitch (The Dead Marshes)
3x Friend of Friends (The Mountain of Fire)
3x Protector of Lórien (Core Set)
3x Song of Wisdom (Conflict at the Carrock)
2x Sting (Mount Gundabad)

Event (18)
3x Daeron’s Runes (Foundations of Stone)
3x Drinking Song (Mount Gundabad)
3x Entmoot (The Treason of Saruman)
3x Raise the Shire (The Mountain of Fire)
3x The Shirefolk (Mount Gundabad)
3x Unseen Strike (The Redhorn Gate)

3 Heroes, 56 Cards
Cards up to Mount Gundabad

Decklist built and published on RingsDB.

Three Hobbit Hunters for Antlered Crown by kattattack22

Forth, the Three Hunters deck utilizing the low Hobbit starting threat to build up and eventually get some strong guarded attachments.

Three Hobbit Hunters for Antlered Crown

Hero (3)
Bilbo Baggins (Mount Gundabad)
Pippin (The Black Riders)
Sam Gamgee (The Black Riders)

Contract (0)
1x Forth, The Three Hunters! (The City of Ulfast)

Attachment (44)
1x Arod (The Treason of Saruman)
3x Blade of Gondolin (Core Set)
2x Celebrían’s Stone (Core Set)
3x Dagger of Westernesse (The Black Riders)
3x Dúnedain Quest (A Journey to Rhosgobel)
3x Fast Hitch (The Dead Marshes)
3x Friend of Friends (The Mountain of Fire)
1x Glamdring (Roam Across Rhovanion)
3x Golden Belt (Challenge of the Wainriders)
3x Hobbit Cloak (The Black Riders)
1x Magic Ring (The Crossings of Poros)
1x Necklace of Girion (The Wilds of Rhovanion)
3x Protector of Lórien (Core Set)
3x Ranger Spikes (Heirs of Númenor)
2x Ring Mail (The Long Dark)
2x Staff of Lebethron (The Land of Shadow)
2x Steward of Gondor (Core Set)
1x Sting (Mount Gundabad)
1x The Arkenstone (The Withered Heath)
3x Woodmen’s Path (Roam Across Rhovanion)

Event (6)
3x Hobbit-sense (Encounter at Amon Dîn)
3x The Shirefolk (Mount Gundabad)

3 Heroes, 50 Cards

Deck built on RingsDB.

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