Bilbo Baggins (Tactics)

  • Cycle
    • Ered Mithren 
  • Set
  • Player Card Categories
    • Direct Damage
    • Staging Area Control

But one day Bilbo was asked to go
On a big adventure to the caves below
To help some dwarves get back their gold
That was stolen by a dragon in the days of old

The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins by Leonard Nimoy


Bilbo once a respectable Hobbit from a respectable family that didn’t go off having adventures, went on an adventure to burgle treasure from a dragon. Along the way, he won or found a magic ring (depending on the telling) that would change the course of Middle-Earth. That however is another story. Bilbo aided by the magic ring, verbally sparred with a dragon in trying to burgle some treasures. In so doing provoked the dragon to attack a nearby town leading to its demise and liberation of a Dwarven ancestral home and its treasures. Elves, Men, and Dwarves afterwards nearly came to war over the liberated treasures until the host of goblins, orcs, and wargs arrived. Bilbo was soon knocked out in the fighting but survived to take a nice stash of treasure home to retire on.

Card Theme

The willpower boost Bilbo gains from an enemy in the staging area is very thematic to Bilbo in The Hobbit. While he is initially resistant to the adventure, he always rises to the occasion when confronted with adversaries.

Card Synergies and Interactions

Guarded X Cards

This version of Bilbo is basically designed for these cards considering he does 2 damage to an enemy guarding a card. The guarded card Bilbo most wants besides for thematic reasons, Sting, is Guarded (enemy). This is great as it gives Bilbo a potential target and once free of encounters +1 willpower, attack, and defense. It also builds on his ability to directly damage enemies dealing 1 damage each time Bilbo attacks. This set ups Bilbo damaging an enemy in the staging area and dealing the final point of damage just by blocking. Durin’s Axe is similar as the only other Guarded (enemy) card and also with a direct damage effect.

Most of the others are Guarded (enemy or location), and there’s at least a chance they will add an enemy for his ability. Of course, there is always A Shadow of the Past to help set up an enemy preferably with lower hit points for one of these wonderful attachments. Necklace of Girion or The Arkenstone both can help make Bilbo a better quester. Of course these can always be given to other heroes as well even those under the control of other players. In multiplayer, there will likely always be a target for Bilbo’s ability and more willpower available to handle an additional encounter card.

Commit a Hero or Character to the Quest

Both Hobbit Pony and Late Adventurer let a player commit him in the action window after staging but before quest resolution. This opens up any enemy revealed during staging as a target for his ability and maximize Bilbo’s willpower bonus. You can chose to Hobbit Pony is better considering it is an attachment and can be used every round once it is in play.

A fun combo is use one or both of these with Elevenses. Commit Bilbo during the regular commit characters to the quest step. After staging, remove him from the quest with Elvenses and reduce your threat by 1 (assuming you only remove Bilbo). Then recommit him with these two to trigger his willpower boost a second time. This works because his response lasts until the end of the phase. Per FAQ 1.55, lasting effects from player cards are not recalculated even if the game state changes. In this case, Biblo’s questing status. Additionally, his response does not have a stated limit. It can be triggered again if he is recommitted to the quest creating a new trigger and another lasting effect boosting his willpower twice. Windfola can also potentially commit Bilbo to the quest twice, but it requires a Song of Travel and a quest that can removes characters from the quest.

Direct Damage

Bilbo’s ability alone typically won’t destroy an enemy in a single round. Some quests early in the game’s life had a many 1 or 2 hit point enemies like The Seventh Level or Over the Misty Mountains Grim. Later scenarios, the norm was enemies with 3 or more hit points. In those, more is needed if a player wants to destroy an enemy with direct damage.

Tactics is full of direct damage options including Bilbo’s signature weapon, Sting. Sting deals a damage whether attacking or defending. This works quite well considering Hobbits have additional readying via Fast Hitch. Spear of the Citadel can also go directly on Bilbo to deal damage when defending or on Gondorian Spearman. The spearman then can deal 2 damage when defending. Thalin can also soften up any enemies revealed during a turn when he quests. Galadhon Archer, Descendent of Throndor, and Rumil have direct damage effects are like Gandalf ally from the Core Set dealing direct damage when they enter play.

Lore is the other main sphere with direct damage effects. Argalad can team up with Bilbo to deal 1 damage to an enemy in the staging area provided he has enough attack power to reduce their threat to 0. Poisoned Stakes trap can also deal 2 damage at the end of each round. This works well when building around keeping an enemy in staging for Bilbo to target over multiple rounds.

These that I’ve listed is not an exhaustive list. These are most of the recurring ones or could be recurred fairly easily. There are many event based ones like Swift Strike, Hail of Stones, Goblin-Cleaver, or Expecting Mischief.

Staging Area Attack

Similar to Bilbo’s ability, staging area attack lets a player damage an enemy before engaging it. Dunhere introduced the ability in the Core Set. Haldir hero and Leadership Eomer have staging area attack built in as well. Heroes with ranged can also gain it via Great Yew Bow and Hands Upon the Bow. Bilbo’s old acquaintance, Bard the Bowman using the Great Yew Bow can even give the enemy -2 defense.

Engagement Control and Threat Reduction

There are 2 kinds of effects that allow a player wants to keep an enemy in the staging area. Engagement control that either skips the encounter phase or increase the enemies’ engagement cost, or Threat Reduction to reduce a player’s threat. There are only a couple cards that can increase an enemy’s engagement cost, Take No Notice and Mablung ally. Both only do so by 5 and for a single phase. This limits their usefulness significantly because 5 will not push the enemies with very low engagement of 10 – 20 above the threat of most decks. This cross-section of enemies are the ones this effect would be the most useful against and needed, but they don’t increase it enough. The only repeatable engagement cost increase is from Lore Pippin‘s ability which Biblo helps to boost. Unfortunately there are only 2 cards that prevent engagement checks. Ranger Spikes is a bit of a nonbo since it lowers the enemy’s threat. Advance Warning isn’t available because all the heroes require a printed Lore resource to play it.

Threat reduction is better considering there are several more cards for it. Unfortunately, in sphere there is only Secret Vigil that at best will reduce a players threat by 4. Fortunately, hobbit focused decks have The Shirefolk that can reduce threat by 4 for free and it is neutral. Elevenses is another option with some other combo potential mentioned earlier. Then there always the threat reduction staples of Galadhrim’s Greeting, Elrond’s Counsel, and Woodmen’s Clearing. Galadriel, Fastred, and Spirit Beregond all provide repeatable threat reduction. Galadriel and Beregond won’t help lower threat below more enemies’ engagement costs, but they’ll maintain threat turn after turn. If the Bilbo player is already low enough, they’ll keep the enemies up in staging Fastred can help get threat lower and put the enemy back into staging for Bilbo to target.

Grey Wanderer

Grey Wanderer has many advantages for Bilbo. One, the player’s threat starts very low avoiding most if not all enemy engagements allowing him to use his ability easily. Two, the free 1 cost attachment can get Strider allowing him to quest every round without exhausting and boost his willpower to quest even without an enemy. Third, it has a built in readying to maximize direct damage when Bilbo uses Sting.

Quest Specific

Escape from Dol Guldur, The Hunt for Gollum, A Journey to Rhosgobel, Across the Ettenmoors, A Storm on Cobas Haven all feature the Guarded keyword. While it is not guaranteed an enemy will be the encounter card guarding each objective, they still present more opportunities for Bilbo to deal 2 damage. Shadows of Mirkwood and Darrowdelf have a couple great targets for Bilbo, Goblin Sniper and Khazad-Dum’s Orc Drummer. High engagement cost, low hit points, and an incredibly annoying ability while they’re in the staging area. Little surging enemies in later cycles similar to Ered Mithren’s Stray Goblin are also good targets. It creates action advantage by not having to defend them and gets a little threat out of the staging area. Ered Mithren also has some enemies like Mirkwood Patrol and Hobgoblin that end up guarding cards on their own that Bilbo can counter.

Intruders in Chetwood, Dungeson of Cirith Gurat, and Helm’s Deep are all ones to avoid using Bilbo in. Intruders in Chetwood enemies can’t be damaged while Orc War Party is in play. The quest starts with one in play and there are 2 others in the encounter deck. More often than not, enemies won’t be able to take damage. Dungeons of Cirith Gurat is a real heartbreaker for Biblo. Enemies guarding objectives are immune to player card effects during stage 1 otherwise they would take 2 damage from him! They’re even often guarding something because they will capture allies as objectives. The second stage when the players have to avoid engaging enemies for 2 turns where it would be another great time for him, except they’re all immune to damage. Helm’s Deep many of the enemies have the toughness X keyword that cancels the first X damage any time damage is dealt to them. Bilbo’s damage then will just get canceled every time it is used against them.

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’m going to preface this rating with Tactics Bilbo is one of my top heroes I like to play. If I rated on how much I like the card, the rating would be at least a 2. Still based on his general usefulness, power level, and how many deck types he would fit into he’s a 5. He can work fine in many decks because he can basically offset an enemy’s threat and possibly soften up an enemy before it is engaged. This only gets more powerful when combined with player guarded attachments or more effects that can damage enemies in the staging area. Bonus willpower in the willpower poor Tactics sphere is a huge boon to monosphere Tactics.

One problem is his stats are all low. Still his base willpower isn’t enough for him to be the main questing hero without several willpower boosting attachments or Forth the Three Hunters side B active. His best stat is defense but at 2 and 2 hit points, he can’t defend well without a couple defense boosts. Sting can help since it boosts all his stats and gives him direct damage for defending. Plus 1 to all stats though makes him more like the Dunedain heroes that are jack of all trades. Hobbit heroes fortunately has additional readying with Fast Hitch and additional stat boosting from Rosie Cotton. It is a lot of setup to put him on par with many other heroes.

The other problem that is carried over from his earlier Lore version is the 9 threat cost. It is the highest of the Hobbits and a bit counter to his ability. His ability requires the player to avoid engagement at least once to trigger unless using Hobbit Pony or lots of engagement control and threat reduction.

This is all to say that without much support, Tactics Bilbo is often outclassed by others in the same sphere and threat cost like Core Set Legolas. When built around, Bilbo can be powerful and fun to play. Contracts in particular make it easier to get him built up quickly.

  • Dave – 3
  • Grant – 3
  • Ted – TBR
  • Matt – 5
  • Average 3.66

External Links

Sample Decks

Wandering Burgler Discovers Fate of Numenor by kattattack22

Basic idea is to leverage Bilbo’s ability combined with direct damage from Gandalf and Descendent of Thorondor to clear enemies guarding Sting or Necklace of Girion. Also the Eagles of the North might discard a non-unqiue enemy guarding a card. Azain’s direct damage ability is another possibility since can engage an enemy not guarding a card that shares a trait and have ability deal more damage to enemy in the staging area.

Wandering Burgler Discovers Fate of Numenor

Main Deck

Hero (1)
Bilbo Baggins (Mount Gundabad)

Contract (0)
1x The Grey Wanderer (Challenge of the Wainriders)

Ally (22)
3x Azain Silverbeard (Flight of the Stormcaller)
3x Descendant of Thorondor (The Hills of Emyn Muil)
3x Eagles of the Misty Mountains (Return to Mirkwood)
3x Gandalf (Core Set)
1x Gwaihir (Trouble in Tharbad)
3x Meneldor (Roam Across Rhovanion)
3x Mirkwood Explorer (The Thing in the Depths)
3x Northern Tracker (Core Set)

Attachment (16)
3x Fast Hitch (The Dead Marshes)
3x Necklace of Girion (The Wilds of Rhovanion)
3x Resourceful (The Watcher in the Water)
3x Sting (Mount Gundabad)
1x Strider (The Drowned Ruins)
3x Support of the Eagles (Return to Mirkwood)

Event (12)
3x Flight of the Eagles (Roam Across Rhovanion)
3x Sneak Attack (Core Set)
3x The Shirefolk (Mount Gundabad)
3x Timely Aid (The Redhorn Gate)

Player Side Quest (1)
1x Gather Information (The Lost Realm)

1 Hero, 51 Cards
Cards up to Challenge of the Wainriders


Ally (9)
3x Eagle of the North (Roam Across Rhovanion)
3x Vassal of the Windlord (The Dead Marshes)
3x Winged Guardian (The Hunt for Gollum)

Attachment (6)
3x Born Aloft (Conflict at the Carrock)
3x Poisoned Stakes (The Blood of Gondor)

Event (6)
3x The Eagles Are Coming! (The Hunt for Gollum)
3x The King’s Return (The Fate of Wilderland)

Decklist built and published on RingsDB.

Guarded-o-rama by Card Talk Dave

This deck was created because of an episode of Card Talk where Grant and Dave discuss ways to get Guarded Cards, namely Durin’s Axe into play. To see that episode, click on over to it HERE. The idea is that Éomer can attack into the staging area and, coupled with Firefoot, excess damage can be assigned to enemies engaged with you. While this isn’t even remotely the “new hotness,” coupled with Bilbo Baggins is a great twist.


Main Deck

Hero (3)
Bilbo Baggins (Mount Gundabad)
Éomer (The Mountain of Fire)
Éowyn (The Flame of the West)

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

Attachment (39)
3x Cram (Over Hill and Under Hill)
3x Dagger of Westernesse (The Black Riders)
1x Durin’s Axe (Wrath and Ruin)
2x Firefoot (The Dunland Trap)
3x Golden Belt (Challenge of the Wainriders)
2x Golden Shield (The Flame of the West)
2x Gúthwinë (The Mountain of Fire)
1x Magic Ring (The Crossings of Poros)
2x Mariner’s Compass (The Grey Havens)
1x Mithril Shirt (The Fate of Wilderland)
1x Necklace of Girion (The Wilds of Rhovanion)
3x Rohan Warhorse (The Voice of Isengard)
2x Spear of the Citadel (Heirs of Númenor)
3x Steward of Gondor (Core Set)
1x Sting (Mount Gundabad)
1x Stone of Elostirion (Under the Ash Mountains)
1x The Arkenstone (The Withered Heath)
1x Thorongil (The Fortress of Nurn)
3x War Axe (The City of Ulfast)
3x Warrior Sword (The Ghost of Framsburg)

Event (12)
3x Bilbo’s Plan (The Land of Sorrow)
3x Foe-hammer (Over Hill and Under Hill)
3x Open the Armory (The Dungeons of Cirith Gurat)
3x The King’s Return (The Fate of Wilderland)

3 Heroes, 51 Cards
Cards up to The Fortress of Nurn

Decklist built and published on RingsDB.

The Burglar and the Bowman by Hollowbandit

A Bard and Bilbo buddy deck with Fastred defending them and reducing threat.

Main Deck

Hero (3)
Bard the Bowman (On the Doorstep)
Bilbo Baggins (Mount Gundabad)
Fastred (The Black Serpent)

Ally (12)
1x Arwen Undómiel (The Watcher in the Water)
1x Azain Silverbeard (Flight of the Stormcaller)
1x Bofur (The Redhorn Gate)
2x Curious Brandybuck (The Wastes of Eriador)
3x Galadhon Archer (The Nîn-in-Eilph)
1x Gandalf (Core Set)
3x Honour Guard (The Wastes of Eriador)

Attachment (23)
2x Ancient Mathom (A Journey to Rhosgobel)
1x Black Arrow (On the Doorstep)
2x Book of Eldacar (Encounter at Amon Dîn)
3x Dagger of Westernesse (The Black Riders)
3x Great Yew Bow (On the Doorstep)
1x Hobbit Pony (The Wastes of Eriador)
1x Magic Ring (The Crossings of Poros)
1x Necklace of Girion (The Wilds of Rhovanion)
3x Round Shield (Mount Gundabad)
1x Song of Battle (The Dead Marshes)
3x Sting (Mount Gundabad)
1x The Arkenstone (The Withered Heath)
1x Unexpected Courage (Core Set)

Event (15)
3x A Test of Will (Core Set)
3x Feint (Core Set)
3x Foe-hammer (Over Hill and Under Hill)
3x Hands Upon the Bow (Shadow and Flame)
3x Straight Shot (On the Doorstep)

3 Heroes, 50 Cards
Cards up to Mount Gundabad

Decklist built and published on RingsDB.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s