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Admit it, you cracked open the Core Set (or Revised Core Set) for the first time, saw Gleowine, laughed at the artwork, and immediately thought “surely this card can’t be very good.” However, as is the case with many things in life, one of the golden rules of The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game is to not immediately judge a book, or card, by its cover. Or even first impressions. There are multiple facets to a review of Core Set cards that launched the game over 10 years ago including considerations such as its impact in the early card pool/quests as well as how the card ages as the card pool grew and matured. Gleowine is no exception, and many of these points, among others, will be examined in this review.

Background / Lore

Not much is known about Gleowine. He is only mentioned briefly in The Return of the King after the Battle of the Pelennor Fields. He was King Theoden of Rohan’s minstrel who accompanied him from Edoras to Gondor during the Ride of the Rohirrim to come to Gondor’s aid against the enemy. In the wake of the epic battle’s conclusion, Gleowine penned a song memorializing Theoden (which the flavor text of his card refers to). An interesting fact is that the name Gleowine means “music friend.”

Out of doubt, out of dark, to the day’s rising
he rode singing in the sun, sword unsheathing.
Hope he rekindled, and in hope he ended;
over death, over dread, over doom lifted
out of loss, out of life, unto long glory.

– Gleowine, The Return of the King

Alternate Art (ill. unknown) Alternate Art (by Beorn)

Card Theme

While Gleowine the minstrel was not counted on to fight with the Rohirrim or lead the charge into battle, he would have provided support via his comforting and invigorating songs in the halls of Edoras or in the rear lines of battle, always near Theoden the king. This is reflected in his unimpressive stats yet very helpful ability.


When considering thematic uses for Gleowine, the best place to start is his traits. First, we’ll start with Minstrel. Interestingly, he is one of 2 cards in the game with the Minstrel trait. Any guesses who the other one is??? Rivendell Minstrel is…..somehow not traited Minstrel. That honor goes to the Galadhrim Minstrel. So if you’re hoping to build a deck using the Minstrel archetype, hate to burst your bubble.


Gleowine’s Rohan trait, however, now there’s a well-developed archetype. So how well does Gleowine fit into a Rohan deck? Not amazing, surprisingly, for a couple of reasons. First, his sphere. As a Lore ally, he obviously will need a hero with the Lore resource icon. There is only one Lore Hero with the Rohan trait: Grima. This is actually not a bad hero to combo off of for Gleowine as long as you are prepared to offset the threat increase from Grima, since the cost of the extra cards Gleowine will draw you can be reduced by 1 once per round. The problem is Grima is better suited for Doomed decks, not Rohan. This leaves you needing to add a Lore resource icon to another Rohan character with cards like Song of Wisdom or A Good Harvest, or else using a non-Rohan Lore hero in your Rohan deck. Not terrible options, but this leads to the second drawback of Gleowine in a Rohan deck.

Rohan decks are built around the mechanic of discarding Rohan characters (i.e. allies) for various benefits such as attack boosts, willpower boosts, readying, etc. If you can get Gleowine into play in a Rohan deck, you can discard Eomund to ready Gleowine and draw a card more than once that round, which is great! If one of your heroes is Theoden, Gleowine only costs 1 when you play him, which again is fantastic and even thematic. The rub comes from the fact that Gleowine is a Rohan ally you want to keep in play as long as possible to get maximum card draw, which goes against the ally discard mechanic of the Rohan archetype. More on this later.

So to answer the question of how well Gleowine fits into a Rohan deck in one word: meh. He will help you draw your essential cards faster and can have his cost reduced to 1 by both Grima and Theoden, and several allies being discarded will allow you to ready him and draw you another card, but you also have to consider how you’re going to get him into play with the dearth of Lore Rohan heroes. And when he is in play drawing you cards, you aren’t going to want to discard him to trigger those beneficial Rohan boosts.

My final comment on theme is that I think the designers should have created a Spirit version of Gleowine later in the card pool as the archetype matured. Perhaps with a Quest Action where you could exhaust him to add +2 WP to a questing Rohan hero (+3 if that hero is Theoden or Eomer) or something like that. This would have been much more fitting thematically for the King’s minstrel.

Card Synergies and Interactions

General Deckbuilding

We’ve looked at Gleowine in a thematic Rohan deck, so now let’s give him a more holistic look when considering putting him in a deck. I’ll show my cards up front (pun intended) and say he is amazing! Card draw is a crucial component of deck building, for if you are top decking your way through a quest then you are likely going to lose. You need a way to get those key cards out as quickly as possible, and Gleowine will provide any deck consistent, repeatable card draw. For the cost of only 2 Lore resources, you get exactly that with this guy. The earlier in the game you can get him on the table, the greater ROI for those 2 resources and the better off you’ll be with more cards in your hand. If you already have card draw elsewhere in your deck such as Daeron’s Runes, Deep Knowledge, Beravor, etc., and you don’t draw Gleowine until the late-game, then he is probably a win-more card at that point.

Next, his stats. 1 WP, 0 attack, 0 defense, and 2 HP adds up to 3, which at face value appears to make Gleowine overcosted by 1 given the standard ally cost of Stat Total divided by 2 = Cost. His ability, though, is where he actually will provide a benefit over time. Think of it this way: if you consider 1 resource to draw one card as a standard cost throughout the game on various cards (Campfire Tales, Hidden Cache, etc.), then Gleowine nets you a benefit after drawing you only 2 cards. You can commit him to the quest in a pinch if you are desperate for more WP, but only do that as a last resort. His ability can often draw you the card you need that same round to quest successfully. For new players this could mean getting Radagast’s Cunning, Secret Paths, Sneak Attack or Gandalf in your hand before the quest phase, which can be more beneficial to you in the Quest phase than Gleowine’s 1 WP. Do not attempt to defend with him unless you are in dire need of a chump blocker, as his 0 defense and 2 HP will almost never survive any enemy attacks in this game.

One other consideration when including Gleowine in your decks is ally readying. This might not be a good first choice since the number of cards that ready allies is slim to none, but one such card is Grim Resolve, which new players will have access to right away in the Core Set. This will ready not just Gleowine to draw you another card, but every character on the table will gain action advantage that round. Other ally readying options include Brand Son of Bain, Narya attached to either Cirdan the Shipwright or Gandalf, The Free Peoples, Leather Boots, Spare Hood and Cloak, and Faramir. Most players find, though, that you don’t get too far beyond the Core set when you start some better card draw options (i.e. Ancient Mathom, Daeron’s Runes, Foe-Hammer, Deep Knowledge) to also include in their decks rather than looking for ways to ready Gleowine.

What I love about Gleowine is that there is literally not a single deck you wouldn’t want him in. His cost is low, Lore is a top notch sphere (rated the community’s favorite sphere in Card Talk’s 2021 Superlative February poll), every single deck will benefit from card draw, and one of the most amazing things about Gleowine is that he is equally as effective in solo and multiplayer!

Messenger of the King Contract

Here’s where things get even more bonkers. Let’s just say there is a reason Gleowine placed 4th out of 83 eligible targets for the contract in Vision of the Palantir’s December 2021 poll on best MotK heroes. Because Gleowine is a unique ally, he is an eligible target for the Messenger of the King contract. For those unfamiliar, this contract allows you to search your deck for a unique ally during Setup who then loses the ally card type and gains the hero card type. To determine that now-hero’s starting threat, you simply add up their total WP, attack, defense, and HP and that is their starting threat. They are now a hero and function in every way as one.

For Gleowine this means a few things. First, he is now a 3 threat Lore hero. That is among the lowest heroes in the game and tied with Smeagol. With so many good Secrecy cards being in the Lore sphere (e.g. Risk Some Light, Noiseless Movement, Out of the Wild, etc), being a 3 threat Lore hero helps with this plus he can help you draw those cards faster.

Second, as a Lore hero he allows you to deckbuild knowing you are going to be most likely drawing an extra card every round, which opens up your options (i.e. you can feel free to include less card draw when building your deck). Finally, he has a variety of readying options now! Unexpected Courage is the most obvious, but you can now include other readying cards such as Cram, Steed of the Mark, Westfold Horsebreaker, Lembas, Miruvor, etc. that can only ready heroes.

The final consideration of Gleowine as a MotK hero is that he is now a 3rd option to consider among card draw heroes, the other 2 being Beravor and Bilbo Baggins who are both also Lore heroes. I’ll briefly compare him with each. Beravor is no doubt a solid hero and is quite versatile with a balanced stat line and her Dunedain and Ranger traits. She can also target a player of your choice like Gleowine can, and provides 2 cards to his 1. However, she is a whopping 7 threat higher than Gleowine, and her ability was errata’d to “limit once per round.” You have no such restrictions with Gleowine. As for our old friend Bilbo Baggins, that 9 threat looks even worse than usual compared to Gleowine’s 3. They both have 1 WP and 2 HP, but because Bilbo has 1 attack and 2 defense where Gleowine has 0 for both, some players like to Voltron Bilbo with attachments. This is not advisable with Gleowine! Both draw you one card each round reliably, where Gleowine’s ability is an action and Bilbo’s is passive. Not a huge deal, but advantage Gleowine here as you can choose which player gets the extra card, whereas Bilbo is restricted to only granting that extra card to the first player and only in the resource phase, which can be a disadvantage in multiplayer. VERDICT: Gleowine is better than Bilbo and can often be better than Beravor, depending mostly on whether or not you want her traits or stats for the quest you’re building for.

Combos and Nonbos

Combos: Some of the best combos with Gleowine can be found in the Core Set/early card pool. He works perfectly with Eowyn by replacing the card you discard to use her ability each round. An even better combo is Eowyn + Stand and Fight + Gleowine where Gleowine draws you extra cards, and you can then select one from the glut of carts that is likely now in your hand to discard for her ability, and finally use Stand and Fight to put it into play using her resources. Another combo is Protector of Lorien + Gleowine for the same reason: he simply gives you consistent card draw to provide a glut of cards in your hand to use Protector of Lorien to great effect. Another card to combo with him is Daeron’s Runes. You have to discard a card from your hand after drawing 2 cards, and having Gleowine to provide that extra card draw gives you plenty of options (hopefully a duplicate unique).

Nonbos: As mentioned above, his ability allows him to still be helpful to a Rohan deck, but he is not helpful to the archetype’s mechanism of discarding Rohan allies to trigger boosts elsewhere because you don’t want to lose his card draw! Eomer, Lothiriel, Eothain, Ride to Ruin, and many others are great cards to include in a Rohan deck, but there are so many other cheap allies you can include to fuel these abilities that won’t negatively impact you like discarding Gleowine would.

Quest Specific

The only quests you definitely want to avoid bringing Gleowine along to are The Fords of Isen as well as The Dunland Trap, both from the Ringmaker Cycle. These quests contain the dreaded Dunland encounter sets that punish you for drawing cards and/or having a lot of cards in your hand.

Other Considerations

  • Ability Timing – Some encounter deck analysis will help you get an idea of whether or not you can use Gleowine to draw a card anytime you want, or if you need to be more careful on timing. Some classic early cycle examples of nasty cards that can quickly take out Gleowine if you aren’t careful are the Necromancer’s Reach and Dark and Dreadful treacheries. These cards deal 1 damage to each exhausted character, even if they’re exhausted for a different reason than being committed to the quest (Dark and Dreadful will kill Gleowine outright if the location is a Dark location). The key in these examples is to use Gleowine’s ability AFTER the quest phase. If you are playing a quest with encounter cards like these, a helpful suggestion is to use his ability during one of the Combat Phase action windows. This way you get the card draw right before he refreshes for the next round.
  • Solo or Multiplayer? – I already touched on this above, but Gleowine is amazing in both solo and multiplayer. In solo games he obviously only draws you a card as the only player, but in multiplayer you can decide who you want to draw the card and when. Some turns it could very well be you that you choose to draw a card for yourself, but it is always nice to give your fellow adventurers a hand and spread the card draw wealth when you can.

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.

The beauty of Gleowine is in the card’s simplicity and versatility (notice I didn’t mention the artwork in there). It’s a simple action: “Exhaust Gleowine to choose a player. That player draws 1 card.” While new(er) players will likely include him in more decks than veteran players will, he is absolutely a card that has stood the test of time. His ability is consistent in that you can use it every single round. It’s repeatable because there are no restrictions on how many times per phase or round you can use it. He’s in a sphere that has many of the best cards in the game. He only costs 2 resources. He can go into literally any deck and be effective. He is as helpful to a solo player as he is in a multiplayer game. The addition of the Messenger of the King contract breathed new life into him and opened up many new and exciting deckbuilding options with him as a hero, to the point the community thinks of him as a top tier target for this contract. To me, the MotK factor boosts him from a good card to a great card. Will you include him in every deck? No. Should he be a consideration for including at least 1x when building a deck though? Absolutely!

  • Dave – 4
  • Grant – 3
  • Ted – 3
  • Matt – 2
  • Eric – 2
  • Average – 2.8

Sample Decks

Deck name and creator

“YOU get a card! And YOU get a card! And YOU get a card!” – stone_of_eric (me)

“Stealthlands” – jvader

“Love of Drinking Song” – Marcelf

Bombur (Hero)

Thematic Dwarf hero designed primarily to get you to 5 Dwarf characters as quickly as possible.


Poor Bombur. The dude just likes a good meal and strong drink, yet is always the butt of the jokes. In Tolkien’s world, we first meet Bombur in The Hobbit when he shows up along with the other dwarves of Thorin’s Company (along with Gandalf) to Bilbo Baggins’ home of Bag End in the Shire. We learn little of his background, other than the fact that his brother is Bofur and his cousin is Bifur. He likely lived with Thorin and the other dwarves of this tale in the Blue Mountains leading up to the main events of the story – namely the quest to reclaim Erebor from the dragon Smaug. Throughout the adventure, numerous references are made to his, um, girth, and usually in a humorous manner. The card’s flavor text is a perfect example. A memorable scenario involving Bombur’s size is the Enchanted Stream in Mirkwood, where Bombur fell into the water and fell into a deep sleep for 6 days, forcing the other dwarves to carry him and complain constantly about it. He is also depicted in the book as constantly thinking and talking about food. Once Erebor was reclaimed, Bombur remained and lived there (happily ever after with plenty of food we assume).

Card Theme

Dwarves, dwarves, and more dwarves. That’s the goal of a Dwarf swarm deck. However, certain Dwarf heroes and allies have bonuses that trigger once you have at least 5 Dwarf characters in play. Those heroes are Thorin Oakenshield; Ori; and Oin, and the allies are Dwalin; Gloin; and Bifur. The heroes’ ability is passive while you control 5+ dwarves, while the allies’ ability only activates upon being played from your hand while you control 5+ dwarves. Bombur increases your efficiency in getting to that 5 dwarf threshold that much faster, and essentially provides slight, early resource generation in the fact that he counts for 2 of those 5.

Card Synergies and Interactions


Did I mention dwarves? Heroes, allies, doesn’t matter. Assuming you’re starting with 3 Dwarf heroes, you technically have 4 Dwarf characters on the table before you even start the game. This means playing a turn 1 Erebor Record Keeper, Dwarven Sellsword, Ered Nimrais Prospector, Erebor Hammersmith, Zigil Miner, Veteran Axehand, or other low cost dwarf ally gives you 5 Dwarves under your control on turn 1 and triggers the abilities of the aforementioned heroes and allies with 5+ dwarf abilities, most of which will then be able to be used right away (other than Thorin and Ori which would then be available on turn 2). If Dain Ironfoot is on the table (which he should be if you’re building a Dwarf swarm deck), Bombur goes to 1/2/2/5 for a statline.

Attachments and Events

Bombur’s statline means you will likely be doing nothing but defending with him. He can chip in the occasional 1 attack power (2 with Dain on the table) if you end up not needing him to defend say, via using Feint, Forest Snare, Ranger Spikes, or some other effect, so you certainly can throw Dwarf-specific weapons such as Dwarven Axe, Dwarrowdelf Axe, or other weapons on him. Or maybe you just defend with one of your other characters or a Sentinel defender across the table does it for you and he can chip in attack that way. You are almost always going to be defending with him, so you want to load him up with defense oriented attachments.

Some of the best attachments for him are A Burning Brand (in-sphere), Protector of Lorien (in-sphere), Dunedain Warning, Ring Mail, Ancestral Armor, Armor of Erebor, Citadel Plate, Dwarven Shield, and Round Shield. He will also benefit from Hardy Leadership on a Leadership hero such as Dain. Readying attachments such as Unexpected Courage or Cram would also be beneficial. Since his 2 defense is not the sturdiest on its own, playing a healing attachment such as Self-Preservation, Healing Herbs, or Dunedain Remedy on him will go a long way.

As for events, a few come to mind you would want to consider using on Bombur. Durin’s Song will give him +2 of all stats (not hitpoints). Lure of Moria will allow him to use 2 of those stats one round, so you could chip in 1 willpower for questing, then ready him for a defense, or you could play it in the combat phase to get 2 defenses out of him.

Some non-bos with Bombur: pretty much any cards traited or designed to be played with traits other than Dwarf. Even a card such as Unlikely Friendship, which requires you to control a Dwarf hero and a Silvan hero, will likely never make it in a Bombur deck. Why would you effectively negate his ability by running a Silvan hero in a dwarf deck? Or render Bombur useless by putting him in a non-dwarf swarm deck?


Bond of Friendship is the contract Bombur synergizes the best with. Running him as your Lore hero along with 3 other Dwarf heroes means you now start the game with 5 Dwarf characters (all heroes) and can take advantage of the 5+ Dwarf bonuses from the beginning of the game (although you wouldn’t be able to use Ori due to the contract’s restriction on each hero needing to be from a different sphere, and Bombur already takes up the Lore slot).

Quest Specific

Dwarfs, and swarm in particular, is the earliest, most fully developed archetype in the game. And they are very powerful. While powerful in the majority of scenarios, they really shine in scenarios with Underground and/or Dark and/or Mountain locations due to the numerous player cards that synergize with Dwarves and locations with those traits – such as Untroubled by Darkness, Ever My Heart Rises, and Ancestral Knowledge. Think Dwarrowdelf Cycle, Ered Mithrin Cycle, Vengeance of Mordor cycle, the Hobbit sagas, etc. These are the quests you will be more likely to run a Dwarf deck in, and therefore the quests you will be most likely to play Bombur.

Other Considerations

Traits and Sphere: Bombur is…a Dwarf. That’s it. Thematically this makes sense as the character Bombur most definitely was not a warrior (and in the game you aren’t going to be attacking with him), and he isn’t a noble. I think he should at least have the Sentinel keyword as defending is clearly his intended design, but it was not to be. As already mentioned, his Lore sphere provides access to A Burning Brand and Protector of Lorien which synergize nicely with him, and other helpful cards such as Legacy of Durin, Ancestral Knowledge, Daeron’s Runes, and most healing cards will be in-sphere.

Ally Version: So far in this review, I’ve been fairly neutral and looked at Bombur’s potential upsides, but spoiler alert: from here on we’ll mostly see his downsides (no, that wasn’t a fat joke). Let’s start with the fact that ally Bombur is arguably more useful in the type of quests you’ll be most likely to want to run his hero version. Exhausting to reduce the threat of a location by 1 is a fine ability, but it gets bonkers when you get him on the table in quests with a lot of Underground locations (see the Quest Specific section above). Now you’re shutting down some of those nasty, high threat locations that are notorious for bogging you down in these types of quests, and essentially getting +4 willpower which helps move you forward in the game significantly. I would argue this can make more of a difference for you in the right quests rather than having one additional Dwarf character at the beginning of the game or having a somewhat shaky defense-dedicated hero who needs to get built up a bit. Yes his ally version costs 3, but if you’re generating resources with Thorin Oakenshield, Steward of Gondor, Resourceful, and potentially spreading them around with Bifur or Narvi’s Belt, then his cost shouldn’t be an issue. Not to mention you can get him into play for free with A Very Good Tale or Elf-stone.


Opportunity cost is one of the overarching concepts of deckbuilding games, and you really need to take your time here considering whether Hero Bombur is worth a spot in your Hero lineup. There are countless ways to build a Dwarf swarm deck, but let’s examine a basic hero lineup. A strong swarm deck will usually be tri-sphere to give you access to as many dwarf allies as possible, but does not have to be so. It will usually include Dain Ironfoot doing his thing providing that global +1 WP and +1 attack for all dwarf characters on the table. Thorin Oakenshield is also a solid contender due to his resource generation. We’ll add Nori to keep your threat manageable and negate the need for treat reduction by allowing you to lower your threat by 1 for each of those swarming allies you’re playing. Now we need one more hero, and Tactics can be a solid play depending on the quest, so Oin with his swarm-y ability could be a good substitute for Nori unless you need a tank like Gimli. That leaves Lore as the best option for that 3rd hero.

Now let’s narrow down our Lore Dwarf hero options. Bombur will do all the things we already looked at above: get you 1 Dwarf closer to 5 and do some light defending sans any buffs/attachments for 8 threat cost. Bifur is a nice 7 threat cost, will quest for 3 with Dain on the table, can defend for the same amount as Bombur (albeit with 2 fewer HP), and can smooth your resources to boot. Ori is often too good to pass up in many situations like this. His threat is 8 (same as Bombur), he can quest for 3 AND attack for 3 with Dain on the table, and the golden ticket with Ori is his passive ability of drawing an extra card each round during the resource phase (assuming you have 5 dwarfs).

In preparation for writing this review, I re-played Hero Bombur in a variety of decks, in a variety of quests, and even multi-player. To get maximum use out of his ability, one deck I built had Bombur, Thorin, and Oin as the heroes. It was fun getting to use both of their 5+ abilities very early, but I lost every time. I ran him with Dain and Nori which went better, but Bombur could never pull his weight (again, not a fat joke) against the encounter deck with his statline, and I needed every resource I had to get more dwarfs out on the table, and was therefore not able to get any defense buffs or healing for him. One other finding from my playthroughs using Bombur is that he holds up OK against the first 2 cycles, but man is he worthless defending against most enemies in this game (sans building him up). I found myself only able to defend wimpier goblins or birds due to that 2 defense. Even with +1 defense you’re just going to get worn down using him as a dedicated defender and will find yourself needing to chump block or use Dain to defend. It was frustrating trying to build a deck that was actually strong using him that didn’t rely on other players helping beef him up.

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 Bombur at 9 rings. To be honest, the only thing keeping me from giving him a 10 is how much I love the thematic design of the card, which goes perfectly with its artwork. Starting out only 1 dwarf away from hitting 5 instead of being 2 away is nice, but I’ve never found it to be game-changing. How does that help you when you’ve mulligan’ed to get that 1 cost dwarf ally, but your second hand still only has 2+ cost allies and you have a tri-sphere deck? Even if you can use it to your advantage on turn 2, in a dwarf swarm deck you’ll start filling the board with dwarves by round 2 or 3 anyway, and now you have to focus on boosting his defense or healing so you can actually use him the rest of the game. With 15 other Dwarf heroes to choose from, there’s just too many other, better options. Not to mention bypassing his hero version frees me up to use ally Bombur instead! He only goes into literally 1 type of deck, and even then he does not do very much for you without needing to be built up, which takes away from the focus on overwhelming Sauron with your Dwarf swarm. I want to like Hero Bombur, but he’s just not good.

  • Dave – 7
  • Grant – 5
  • Ted – 6
  • Matt – 7
  • Eric – 9
  • Average – 6.8

Sample Decks

Bombur Doin’ His Thing by Stone of Eric

Here is a deck I made that is designed to make maximum impact with the 5+ Dwarf boosts.

Main Deck

Hero (3)
Bombur (On the Doorstep)
Óin (On the Doorstep)
Thorin Oakenshield (Over Hill and Under Hill)

Ally (22)
2x Bifur (On the Doorstep)
2x Bofur (The Redhorn Gate)
1x Dori (Over Hill and Under Hill)
2x Dwalin (On the Doorstep)
1x Erebor Hammersmith (Core Set)
1x Erebor Record Keeper (Khazad-dûm)
2x Fili (Over Hill and Under Hill)
2x Glóin (On the Doorstep)
2x Kili (Over Hill and Under Hill)
2x Longbeard Elder (Foundations of Stone)
2x Miner of the Iron Hills (Core Set)
1x Veteran Axehand (Core Set)
2x Zigil Miner (Khazad-dûm)

Attachment (14)
1x A Burning Brand (Conflict at the Carrock)
2x Armor of Erebor (Mount Gundabad)
2x Ever My Heart Rises (The Long Dark)
1x Hardy Leadership (Shadow and Flame)
1x King Under the Mountain (On the Doorstep)
1x Legacy of Durin (The Watcher in the Water)
2x Narvi’s Belt (Khazad-dûm)
2x Ring Mail (The Long Dark)
2x Steward of Gondor (Core Set)

Event (14)
2x A Test of Will (Core Set)
2x Ancestral Knowledge (Khazad-dûm)
2x Daeron’s Runes (Foundations of Stone)
2x Feint (Core Set)
1x Hasty Stroke (Core Set)
3x Lure of Moria (Road to Rivendell)
2x Untroubled by Darkness (Khazad-dûm)

3 Heroes, 50 Cards
Cards up to Mount Gundabad


Hero (1)
Dwalin (Khazad-dûm)

Ally (4)
2x Arwen Undómiel (The Watcher in the Water)
2x Gandalf (Core Set)

Attachment (5)
2x Ancestral Armor (Roam Across Rhovanion)
2x Cram (Over Hill and Under Hill)
1x Narvi’s Belt (Khazad-dûm)

Event (2)
2x Hasty Stroke (Core Set)

Decklist built and published on RingsDB.

Books and Eating (Mono Lore) by Durins_Father

Here is a deck built by durins_father that is a mono-Lore deck designed to be played as part of a Dwarf fellowship.

Main Deck

Hero (3)
Bifur (Khazad-dûm)
Bombur (On the Doorstep)
Ori (Over Hill and Under Hill)

Ally (17)
3x Erebor Hammersmith (Core Set)
3x Erebor Record Keeper (Khazad-dûm)
3x Ered Nimrais Prospector (The Morgul Vale)
2x Gandalf (Core Set)
3x Longbeard Map-Maker (Conflict at the Carrock)
3x Miner of the Iron Hills (Core Set)

Attachment (18)
2x A Burning Brand (Conflict at the Carrock)
2x Elf-stone (The Black Riders)
2x Expert Treasure-hunter (On the Doorstep)
2x Healing Herbs (Foundations of Stone)
2x Legacy of Durin (The Watcher in the Water)
2x Scroll of Isildur (The Morgul Vale)
3x Self Preservation (Core Set)
3x Thror’s Map (Over Hill and Under Hill)

Event (17)
3x Advance Warning (The Drúadan Forest)
3x Ancestral Knowledge (Khazad-dûm)
3x Daeron’s Runes (Foundations of Stone)
2x Expecting Mischief (Over Hill and Under Hill)
2x Infighting (A Journey to Rhosgobel)
2x Lore of Imladris (Core Set)
2x Mithrandir’s Advice (The Steward’s Fear)

3 Heroes, 52 Cards
Cards up to The Black Riders

Decklist built and published on RingsDB.

Gluttony by Beorn

On the humorous side of things, here is a vintage deck from Beorn called “Gluttony” with an article explaining the deck theme in the description.

Main Deck

Hero (3)
Bombur (On the Doorstep)
Frodo Baggins (Conflict at the Carrock)
Glóin (Core Set)

Ally (20)
1x Brok Ironfist (Core Set)
3x Erebor Hammersmith (Core Set)
3x Erebor Record Keeper (Khazad-dûm)
2x Fili (Over Hill and Under Hill)
2x Gandalf (Over Hill and Under Hill)
2x Kili (Over Hill and Under Hill)
2x Longbeard Elder (Foundations of Stone)
3x Master of the Forge (Shadow and Flame)
2x Wandering Took (Core Set)

Attachment (15)
2x A Burning Brand (Conflict at the Carrock)
3x Cram (Over Hill and Under Hill)
1x Fast Hitch (The Dead Marshes)
2x Good Meal (The Redhorn Gate)
3x Miruvor (Shadow and Flame)
2x Narvi’s Belt (Khazad-dûm)
2x Self Preservation (Core Set)

Event (15)
3x A Very Good Tale (Over Hill and Under Hill)
2x O Elbereth! Gilthonial! (Shadow and Flame)
2x Peace, and Thought (Shadow and Flame)
2x Second Breakfast (Conflict at the Carrock)
3x The Galadhrim’s Greeting (Core Set)
3x We Are Not Idle (Shadow and Flame)

3 Heroes, 50 Cards
Cards up to On the Doorstep

Decklist built and published on RingsDB.

Blade of Gondolin

  • Card Talk Season TBD Episode TBD
    • Video episode
    • Audio episode
  • Cycle
    • Shadows of Mirkwood
  • Set
    • Core Set
  • Player Card Categories 
    • Attack Bonus
    • Location Control
  • Deck Archetype(s)
    • Dale Armory

  • Inexpensive utility weapon/item attachment available right out of the Core set, with a deep connection to Tolkien lore.


The story of the great Elf city of Gondolin goes back almost to the very beginning of the First Age. It was founded by Turgon about 300 or so years after the first awakening of the Elves, and Turgon would remain its King until its fall many years later. The city itself was hidden from Morgoth (the original Dark Lord) by the Encircling Mountains and was also guarded by the Eagles led by Thorondor. Through an unfortunate series of events described in The Silmarillion, Morgoth discovered the location of the city and amassed all of his forces to sack the great city, in which he was ultimately successful.

Fast forward to the Third Age and the events of The Hobbit. We learn that many of the Elven blades used during the siege of Gondolin ages beforehand are still considered legendary for their ability to slay Orcs, and were also imbued with magical qualities that caused the blades to glow blue when Orcs are nearby. Thorin Oakenshield and Co. find 3 of these legendary blades in the troll cave after dawn had taken the trolls and the Company was saved. The flavor text on the card is from this passage of the book. The three specific “blades of Gondolin” named in the book are Orcrist (also known as “Goblin Cleaver”, but the Orcs nicknamed it “Biter” and it was taken by Thorin), Glamdring (also known as “Foe-Hammer,” but the Orcs nicknamed it “Beater” and it was taken by Gandalf), as well as Sting, which we all know was taken by Bilbo Baggins. Orcrist and Glamdring were said to have been personal swords of King Turgon once, and Glamdring and Sting would go on to play pivotal roles in both The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings in the war against Sauron.

Card Theme

The theme of the card is pretty simple: slay Orcs to make help progress on the quest! The theme is spot on when you take into account the lore mentioned above and what the card does for the player. Orcs are terrified of these blades, hence the attack boost when attacking Orc traited enemies. Imagine heroes wielding these blades in battle and fighting through hordes of Orcs who will probably hesitate a little bit at first sight of the blue blade coming at them. As these Orcs are destroyed, the heroes swing the momentum against the Enemy and ultimately aid in progressing through the battle.

Card Synergies and Interactions

Card combos

Pretty much any hero you plan on using as an attacker will be a good fit for the Blade. Legolas is an obvious choice, but more on him later. Keep in mind it does takes up a restricted slot, but it is also very cheap at 1 cost. Goblin-Cleaver synergizes well with the Blade, and even more so if you are attacking an Orc. In that case you can deal 3 damage to an enemy engaged with you, and then the hero can attack for +1 to finish it off. Foe-Hammer is another good combo with the Blade (makes sense since Goblin-Cleaver and Foe-Hammer are both blades of Gondolin!). Since this is a cheap Weapon attachment, you could throw an extra copy onto your main defender and pair it nicely with Sterner Than Steel. All of the cards mentioned here are in-sphere, to boot!

Location control decks

Straight out of the Core set this weapon seems designed for Core Legolas, who after participating in an attack that kills an Orc enemy while this card is attached would be able to place either 1, 2, or 3 progress on the current quest (since his ability and the Blade’s ability are both Responses they are optional). This is extremely helpful if, say, you need an extra 1 or 2 progress to clear the active location, but you don’t want to put progress on the current quest and inadvertently advance before your board state is built up. Put two of these on a hero, especially Legolas, and watch the progress tokens pile up! Pairing a Blade or two with Asfaloth or Arod on a hero (especially on Glorfindel and Legolas, respectively), is another good combo to give even more progress flexibility. It really can work well on any hero in a location control deck, because as we all know from playing the Riddermark Chump Blocker Snowbourne Scout, that 1 extra progress token each round can often make all the difference! Looking at you, Three Trials.

Dale Armory deck

Since this is an attachment with the Item and Weapon attachment, it will synergize well in a Dale Armory deck. Brand son of Bain, Traffic from Dale, and Dale Messenger are some of the cards that will synergize nicely with the Blade of Gondolin. Looking to build a Dale deck without a Tactics resource match? Bard son of Brand will let you slip Blade of Gondolin into your deck seamlessly.

Quest Specific

Because the Response is optional, the biggest question you’ll want to ask yourself before putting this card in your deck is “how many Orc enemies does the scenario I’m up against contain?” If there are a moderate to high number of Orc traited enemies, it’s probably worth it. If there are few to no Orc enemies in the scenario, it’s generally not worth the opportunity cost of having better cards taking up those slots in your deck.

For example, scenarios such as Peril In Pelargir, Into Ithilien, The Steward’s Fear, The Druadan Forest, Across the Ettenmoors, Deadman’s Dike, most of the Ringmaker Cycle, Dreamchaser Cycle, all the Black Riders scenarios, and others have few to no Orc enemies. You won’t be getting that attack boost very often if at all, so is that 1 point of progress from the hero killing an enemy going to be worth the deck slot(s) by itself? Might as well include Snowbourne Scout to at least get the chump blocker for the same cost and still place the 1 progress token.

On the other hand, arguably one of the best parts of playing LOTR:LCG is slaying Orcs, and the majority of scenarios are going to have Orc enemies. Some will have a LOT of them to provide maximum hacking and slashing fun while chipping in progress, which makes the Blade of Gondolin so utilitarian. And as previously stated, in many quests you want to advance to the next quest stage as quickly as possible, or time your advancing just right.

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.

This card is cheap, gives you an attack boost against a majority of enemies in the game, has some nice combos/synergies with other cards, and lets you place that 1 extra progress which can be so incredibly helpful. The biggest downsides to the card are the fact that you’ll generally need to run Tactics to play it (which as we learned in Superlative February is the community’s least favorite sphere), it cannot reach its maximum potential in all scenarios, and by the time a new player expands beyond the first couple of cycles they generally have more powerful cards that outshine it. One more thing – the artwork. The sheath and hilt are both beautiful. But for a card named Blade of Gondolin, you only get to see a sliver of the actual blade! Missed opportunity there. I give it 5 rings.

  • Dave – TBD
  • Grant – TBD
  • Ted – TBD
  • Eric – 5
  • Matt – 6

External Links

Sample Decks

Location, Location, Location by Durin’s Father

Location control deck with many direct progress effects like Blade of Gondolin.

Main Deck

Hero (3)
Haldir of Lórien (Trouble in Tharbad)
Idraen (The Three Trials)
Legolas (Core Set)

Ally (22)
2x Celduin Traveler (The Nîn-in-Eilph)
2x East Road Ranger (The Wastes of Eriador)
2x Galadriel’s Handmaiden (Celebrimbor’s Secret)
2x Greyflood Wanderer (The Three Trials)
2x Lindon Navigator (The Grey Havens)
2x Lórien Guide (Core Set)
2x Northern Tracker (Core Set)
2x Ravenhill Scout (The Redhorn Gate)
2x Sarn Ford Sentry (The Lost Realm)
2x Silvan Refugee (The Drúadan Forest)
2x The Riddermark’s Finest (The Hills of Emyn Muil)

Attachment (22)
2x Arod (The Treason of Saruman)
2x Asfaloth (Foundations of Stone)
2x Blade of Gondolin (Core Set)
2x Lembas (Trouble in Tharbad)
2x Rivendell Blade (Road to Rivendell)
1x Song of Travel (The Hills of Emyn Muil)
1x Song of Wisdom (Conflict at the Carrock)
2x Thrór’s Key (On the Doorstep)
2x Thror’s Map (Over Hill and Under Hill)
2x Unexpected Courage (Core Set)
2x Warden of Arnor (The Three Trials)
2x Wingfoot (The Nîn-in-Eilph)

Event (11)
2x Distant Stars (Escape from Mount Gram)
3x Expert Trackers (The Lost Realm)
2x Feint (Core Set)
2x The Galadhrim’s Greeting (Core Set)
2x The Tree People (The Dunland Trap)

3 Heroes, 55 Cards
Cards up to The Grey Havens

Decklist built and published on RingsDB.