Zigil Miner

  • Card Talk Season 4 Episode 49
    • Video episode
    • Audio episode
  • Cycle
    • Darrowdelf
  • Set
    • Khazad-dûm
  • Player Card Categories 
    • Resource Acceleration
    • Mining
  • 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.

Sword-thain

Before there was Messenger of the King, there was Sword-thain.

Background

The term sword-thain is used only a few times in the books. We first see it used when Theoden offers to have Merry ride with him and act as his squire.

You shall be my esquire, if you will. Is there gear of war in this place, Éomer, that my sword-thain could use?

Book 5, Chapter 2: Passing of the Grey Company

It subsequently only comes up again when Theoden dismisses Merry as his pony will not be able to keep up on the ride to Minas Tirith. In the context used, it seems to be a formal title for a squire. The historical thane or thegn, however, was a lordly title similar to a knight. The term largely used prior to William the Conqueror’s conquest of England. A period of history that Tolkien studied and took inspiration from.

Card Theme

The card refers to Merry joining Theoden’s service, but in the previous chapter Pippin swears his sword to Denethor. Prior to this, the readers had not seen them really demonstrate martial prowess. If anything they had fallen into trouble in The Old Forest, in the barrows, and captured by orcs. Granted, they managed to convince the Ents to march on Isengard, but still that them being persuasive. It is once they join the armies of Gondor and Rohan and participate in the Battle ofPelannor Fields and rescue Faramir from the pyre that they become much more heroes in their own right. The change is apparent when they return to the Shire. They can easily push past gate guards, shirriffs, and turn back waylaying ruffians through shows of confidence. The Sword-thain card then represents the turning point where they “level up” much as the card promotes an ally into a full blown hero.

Card Synergies and Interactions

Resource or Attachment Acceleration

Now Sword-thain at 4 cost is fairly expensive. Even if the effect of gaining another hero is well worth it. You’re not going to play it first turn without some resource acceleration. Leadership Denethor hero, Steward of Gondor, and Legacy of Numenor are a couple options for getting it out first turn, but they require Leadership.

Bartering - Lore Event - 0 cost - Planning Action: Choose a ready player attachment on a character you control. Return that attachment to its owner's hand to reduce the cost of the next attachment played this phase by X, where X is the chosen attachment's cost.

First, I’d like to thank Marcelf over at Ringsdb for putting me onto this combo with his Barliman and Robin deck. Bartering the 0 cost Lore event offers a couple interesting options for putting it into play on the cheap. If you are running all Lore heroes or couple heroes of one sphere with a Lore hero, you can play the record attachments for 1 or 2 cost. Use Bartering to return it to your hand then play Sword-thain for free since the discount is by the printed cost. Lore offers some very low cost unique allies like Ioreth and Henamarth Riversong that can be played first turn with it. Then you can start gaining an additional resources.

Another option is to utilize Tactics Beregond’s discount on Weapon and Armor attachments. Basically any 2+ cost weapon or armor on him will let Bartering discount Sword-thain. Citadel Plate, Spear of the Citadel, Raiment of War, and Raven Winged Helm are good options to transfer the discount.

There are a couple other options for getting Sword-thain into play without paying the full 4 cost, but they are limited to dwarves.

Well-Equipped can put it into play for free onto a unique Dwarf. There’s certainly no shortage of targets with 9 of the 13 dwarves in Thorin’s Company represented by allies. Bofur even has 2 different versions. Outside The Hobbit Saga expansions, Gimli ally, Azain Silverbeard, and even the infamous Brok Ironfist.

Ring of Thror requires a Dwarf hero to use. Unlike Well-Equipped, the attachment that is discarded can go on any non-neutral unique ally.

Sneak Attack

Many unique allies are higher cost. Another way to get a Sword-thain hero is to Sneak Attack one into play. Then attach Sword-thain to it before the end of the phase. It won’t return to your hand anymore because it is no longer an ally. You can use this with other temporarily put an ally effects into play, such as, Horns! Horns! Horns! and Gwaihir’s Debt. Although with the latter you will be limited to Gwaihir and Landroval since Sword-thain can only be used on non-neutral unique allies.

Effects that Scale with the Number of Heroes

There are a number of cards that the effect is based on the number of heroes. Usually they require they belong to a particular sphere or have a named trait. Chief among these is Caldara.

Caldara can return an ally from the discard for each Spirit hero the player controls. A Sword-thain hero counts for this effect allowing you to return 3 allies with Sword-thain. You can even get up to 4 if Spirit Prince Imrahil is in play since he instantly becomes a hero when Caldara is discarded.

Another mono-Spirit favorite is Pelargir Shipwright. It’s willpower is equal to the number of Spirit heroes you control. This means with a Sword-thain Spirit hero, it has 4 willpower rivaling that of Eowyn and Cirdan.

I mentioned earlier the record attachments can be played for 1 or 2 cost. This is because Tome of Atanatar, Scroll of Isildur, Map of Earnil, and Book of Eldacar cost 1 less for each hero of the matching sphere. It’s possible to make these cost 0 once Sword-thain hits play.

Mithrandir’s Advice can draw a card for each Lore hero. This card in a mono-Lore deck with Sword-thain can draw nearly as many cards as Peace and Thought without having to exhaust 2 heroes. Then a free Scroll of Isildur can recur it for you.

Tactics Merry and Frodo’s Intuition similar to the others do more for each hero you have. The difference being that their effects are based on the number of Hobbit heroes rather than the sphere. Frodo’s Intuition overlaps with another kind of scaling effect by giving each hero +1 willpower. These card don’t explicitly scale like those mentioned. Instead these get better the more heroes you have because they affect each one. Tighten Our Belts, Legacy of Numenor, and We Are Not Idle can all garner up to 4 resources with a Sword-thain hero. Hour of Wrath when in Valour (threat is 40 or higher) will let all heroes attack and defend without exhausting. Captains of the West will boost all Noble heroes’ willpower and have them quest without exhausting. While Captains of the West is trait restricted, there are many unique Noble allies that make great Sword-thain heroes.

Unique Allies

While it is a requirement of the card, there are definitely some better targets than others. Generally, the unique allies with strong combat stats or very useful abilities are top targets. Jubayr is a good example of both. His strong defense and ability to discard a shadow makes a solid defending ally. Once he is a hero additional attachments open up like Dunedain Warning and Armored Destrier that can turn into a defender for the entire table. Tactics Nori is one where his combat stats aren’t stellar and making him a hero can help make his ability more reliable. Then he can have great attack boosting attachments like Dagger of Westernesse or War Axe. He could even have a Rohan Warhorse to possibly destroy 2 enemies and get 2 cards from the discard on the bottom of the deck.

Speaking of readying, there are more options for readying heroes than allies. This is great for allies with great abilities that trigger by exhausting like Leadership Faramir and Rosie. Faramir could add 2 or more willpower to a player’s questing characters. Rosie has always had potential to use her ability multiple times a round thanks to Fast Hitch, but opens up to running her without Lore. Additionally, willpower boosting attachments like Celebrian’s Stone and Fireside Song can make her ability even more powerful.

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 Sword-thain at 3 rings. The 4 cost can be a big ask especially without some resource acceleration. There are a couple ways, however, to play it on the cheap. When built around it, you can get some really great mileage out that extra hero. It can really improve the effectiveness of unique allies with strong abilities like Rosie and Leadership Faramir. It even opens up some unique ally turned hero voltron builds. Especially as it doesn’t have the readying limit that Messenger of the King does. There is also a fun factor to this card. If your favorite character for some reason isn’t a hero but an ally. Then you can make them one. There are fun builds out there that aim to get 5 – 7 heroes or at least near hero allies. These usually have 3 normal heroes, a Sword-thain hero, Thalion, Treebeard, Over Hill and Under Hill Gandalf, and/or Radagast. Sword-thain won’t fit into every deck, and it is on the expensive side. Despite those drawbacks, it offers a lot of deck building possibilities.

  • Dave – 6
  • Grant – 4
  • Ted – 7
  • Matt – 3
  • Average – 5

Sample Decks

Barliman and Robin by Marcelf

Sword-thain is a major piece of resource acceleration in this deck. Scroll of Isildur is used for Bartering Sword-thain or Resourcefuls into play. The Scrolls are important to play and use to recur Risk Some Light over and over again. Getting to be free also helps accelerate resources.

Barliman and Robin

Main Deck

Hero (3)
Bilbo Baggins (The Hunt for Gollum)
Folco Boffin (The Dungeons of Cirith Gurat)
Pippin (The Black Riders)

Ally (19)
1x Barliman Butterbur (The Black Riders)
3x Erebor Hammersmith (Core Set)
1x Firyal (The Mûmakil)
1x Gaffer Gamgee (Mount Gundabad)
1x Gandalf (Over Hill and Under Hill)
1x Ghân-buri-Ghân (The Flame of the West)
1x Gildor Inglorion (The Hills of Emyn Muil)
1x Henamarth Riversong (Core Set)
3x Ithilien Lookout (The Dunland Trap)
1x Mablung (The Land of Shadow)
2x Mirkwood Explorer (The Thing in the Depths)
1x Quickbeam (The Treason of Saruman)
1x Robin Smallburrow (The Drowned Ruins)
1x Warden of Healing (The Long Dark)

Attachment (12)
1x Fast Hitch (The Dead Marshes)
3x Love of Tales (The Long Dark)
3x Resourceful (The Watcher in the Water)
3x Scroll of Isildur (The Morgul Vale)
2x Sword-thain (The Dread Realm)

Event (19)
2x Bartering (The Wilds of Rhovanion)
3x Deep Knowledge (The Voice of Isengard)
3x Drinking Song (Mount Gundabad)
3x Mithrandir’s Advice (The Steward’s Fear)
2x Peace, and Thought (Shadow and Flame)
3x Risk Some Light (Shadow and Flame)
3x The Shirefolk (Mount Gundabad)

3 Heroes, 50 Cards
Cards up to Mount Gundabad

Decklist built and published on RingsDB.

Aggro Caldara v4 by Beorn

Post-errata Caldara deck utilizing Noldor discard to fill the discard pile with targets for Caldara’s ability.

Main Deck

Hero (3)
Arwen Undómiel (The Dread Realm)
Caldara (The Blood of Gondor)
Círdan the Shipwright (The Grey Havens)

Ally (30)
1x Elfhelm (The Dead Marshes)
3x Emery (The Blood of Gondor)
1x Escort from Edoras (A Journey to Rhosgobel)
1x Gamling (The Land of Shadow)
2x Glorfindel (Flight of the Stormcaller)
1x Háma (The Treason of Saruman)
3x Imladris Stargazer (Foundations of Stone)
3x Jubayr (The Mûmakil)
3x Northern Tracker (Core Set)
3x Pelargir Shipwright (Assault on Osgiliath)
3x Prince Imrahil (The Flame of the West)
1x Rhovanion Outrider (Temple of the Deceived)
1x Súlien (The City of Corsairs)
1x Westfold Horse-Breaker (The Hunt for Gollum)
3x Zigil Miner (Khazad-dûm)

Attachment (9)
2x Light of Valinor (Foundations of Stone)
3x Narya (The Grey Havens)
1x Steed of Imladris (Across the Ettenmoors)
3x Sword-thain (The Dread Realm)

Event (11)
3x A Test of Will (Core Set)
1x Dwarven Tomb (Core Set)
3x Elven-light (The Dread Realm)
2x Hidden Cache (The Morgul Vale)
2x Stand and Fight (Core Set)

3 Heroes, 50 Cards
Cards up to The Mûmakil

Decklist built and published on RingsDB.

Ring around the Rosie (saga) by TheChad

Chad of Cardboard of the Ring’s LOTR Saga deck that makes Rosie the Sword-thain hero. Then boosts her willpower with Celebrian’s Stone, Fireside Song, etc.

Main Deck

Hero (3)
Merry (The Wastes of Eriador)
Pippin (The Black Riders)
Sam Gamgee (The Black Riders)

Ally (18)
1x Bill the Pony (The Black Riders)
2x Celduin Traveler (The Nîn-in-Eilph)
3x Gandalf (Core Set)
2x Ithilien Lookout (The Dunland Trap)
3x Master of the Forge (Shadow and Flame)
1x Quickbeam (The Treason of Saruman)
3x Rosie Cotton (The Mountain of Fire)
1x Treebeard (The Antlered Crown)
2x Warden of Healing (The Long Dark)

Attachment (18)
1x Celebrían’s Stone (Core Set)
3x Fast Hitch (The Dead Marshes)
2x Fellowship of the Ring (The Road Darkens)
2x Fireside Song (Beneath the Sands)
3x Friend of Friends (The Mountain of Fire)
2x Resourceful (The Watcher in the Water)
1x Song of Hope (The Black Serpent)
1x Staff of Lebethron (The Land of Shadow)
3x Sword-thain (The Dread Realm)

Event (15)
3x A Test of Will (Core Set)
3x Elevenses (The Thing in the Depths)
3x Frodo’s Intuition (The Black Riders)
3x Sneak Attack (Core Set)
3x Timely Aid (The Redhorn Gate)

3 Heroes, 51 Cards
Cards up to The Mountain of Fire

Sideboard

Attachment (5)
3x Hobbit Cloak (The Black Riders)
2x Hobbit Pony (The Wastes of Eriador)

Decklist built and published on RingsDB.

Big Hero Six by Zeromage

This deck aims to have 6 heroes in play or at least 4 heroes and 2 hero-like allies in play (Gandalf and Treebeard).

Main Deck

Hero (3)
Beravor (Core Set)
Círdan the Shipwright (The Grey Havens)
Denethor (Flight of the Stormcaller)

Ally (24)
1x Arwen Undómiel (The Watcher in the Water)
3x Envoy of Pelargir (Heirs of Númenor)
3x Erebor Hammersmith (Core Set)
3x Errand-rider (Heirs of Númenor)
1x Faramir (Core Set)
3x Galadriel’s Handmaiden (Celebrimbor’s Secret)
3x Gandalf (Over Hill and Under Hill)
1x Glorfindel (Flight of the Stormcaller)
1x Henamarth Riversong (Core Set)
3x Treebeard (The Antlered Crown)
2x Warden of Healing (The Long Dark)

Attachment (13)
3x Ent Draught (The Treason of Saruman)
1x Gandalf’s Staff (The Road Darkens)
1x Light of Valinor (Foundations of Stone)
3x Narya (The Grey Havens)
1x Shadowfax (The Treason of Saruman)
3x Steward of Gondor (Core Set)
1x Unexpected Courage (Core Set)

Event (13)
3x Daeron’s Runes (Foundations of Stone)
3x Dwarven Tomb (Core Set)
3x Elrond’s Counsel (The Watcher in the Water)
2x Gaining Strength (The Steward’s Fear)
2x The Galadhrim’s Greeting (Core Set)

3 Heroes, 50 Cards
Cards up to Flight of the Stormcaller

Decklist built and published on RingsDB.

Ranger of Cardolan

TL;DR A versatile neutral ally well positioned for unexpected combat requirements.

Background

[In] the wild lands beyond Bree there were mysterious wanderers. The Bree-folk called them Rangers, and knew nothing of their origin. They were taller and darker than the Men of Bree and were believed to have strange powers of sight and hearing, and to understand the languages of beasts and birds. They roamed at will southwards, and eastwards even as far as the Misty Mountains; but they were now few and rarely seen. When they appeared they brought news from afar, and told strange forgotten tales which were eagerly listened to; but the Bree-folk did not make friends of them.
—The Fellowship of the Ring, Book 1, Ch 9, At the Sign of the Prancing Pony

The Ranger of Cardolan was released during the Angmar Awakened cycle which featured heavy development of the Dunedain archetype. These descendants of the kingdom of Arnor are capable of an aggressive, combat focused style of play as they seek to protect and guard those more vulnerable, and happen to be able to tell a good tale now and again. As such, Ranger of Cardolan makes an excellent contributor to this style of play.

Card Theme

If you’ve played the Angmar Awakened Cycle (which is likely since that’s where this card originates), you’ve been exposed to a fair smattering of Dunedain history. However, it isn’t intuitive to piece the scraps together solely from playing the card game. Hence a brief (and hopefully accurate) review of the foundational historical pieces of Arnor, of the Northern Kingdom of the Dunedain.

Following the defeat of Sauron in the War of the Last Alliance, the rule of Arnor is assumed by Valandil, Isildur’s only surviving son following the Disaster of the Gladden Fields. Thereabout eight uneventful centuries pass until the unity of Arnor is splintered into three kingdoms: Arthedain, Rhudaur and Cardolan.

Arthedain was in the North-west and included the land between Brandywine and Lune, and also the land north of the Great Road as far as the Weather Hills. Rhudaur was in the North-east and lay between the Ettenmoors, the Weather Hills, and the Misty Mountains, but included also the Angle between the Hoarwell and the Loudwater. Cardolan was in the South, its bounds being the Brandywine, the Greyflood, and the Great Road.
—The Return of the King, Appendix A, “The Númenorean Kings”, “Eriador, Arnor, and the Heirs of Isildur”

Image credit to The Mad Hobbit blog

The chronicle of tales shows that the dread realm of Angmar was established and Rhudaur fell under it’s control. Cardolan allied with Arthedain to hold back the evil forces, but it was eventually overwhelmed and it’s royal line destroyed. A band of survivors took refuge in Tyrn Gorthad (Barrow Downs and Old Forest region) where they interred the Last Prince of Cardolan (possibly the tomb Frodo encounters) where they endured for two centuries; but eventually they were ravaged by the Great Plague and perished, allowing the evil wights of Carn Dum to possess the barrow region. Upon rescuing Frodo, Tom Bombadil remarks of his memory of the fallen people of Cardolan; to what extent he interacted with these people is unknown, but he was certainly present and contemporary with them, and may have had friendly relations.

It is speculative to suggest this ally card represents a faint, unbroken lineage of Cardolan Dunedain. Rather, it likely depicts rangers of intact Arthedain descent who are stationed, posted, or positioned in regions of the former Cardolan kingdom (additionally, similar for the Sarn Ford Sentry). Nevertheless, card’s ability is a thematic success for to spring into play from the shadows in order to protect others.

Synergies and Interactions

Let’s establish one thing at this point, the stats on the Ranger of Cardolan are quite good. A combined nine stats for four resources is cost effective and it’s neutral (non-)sphere to boot. There are a good number of heroes that have a 2/2/2 statline as well as several allies in the “Vilya Champions” group. It wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to call it the strongest non-unique neutral ally in the game (although there are interesting cases to be made for Guardian of Rivendell, etc).

Researching this card provided a lot of different clever uses for Ranger of Cardolan. But its high stats are a bit of a drawback when it comes to all of the effects that Ranger of Cardolan could trigger. If a card effect requires you to exhaust an ally/Dunedain/Ranger, then there is almost always a lower stat ally that could fit the bill (provided they are actually in play). These come at the opportunity cost of not being able to use its stats, which we’ve verified, are quite good.

To establish just a couple other points on the card’s ability that will come up later. “After you engage an enemy” is not limited to the Engagement phase. This could be triggered during non-traditional phases for engagement such as planning, questing, combat, etc. Also note, when triggering the ability, Ranger of Cardolan stays in play until the end of the round (i.e. the very end, after the refresh phase); you could get several uses out of this card over the course of the round with various readying effects available, or even in the narrow window after it refreshes but before the round ends and is discarded.

I’ll briefly acknowledge some combo’s that are viable, but on fringe of productive. Expert Trackers has an interesting combo to engage an enemy, bring in the Ranger of Cardolan and exhaust it place progress on a location; but it’s not really that productive since a different Scout/Ranger could be used to exhaust and our Ranger of Cardolan could be used to help deal with the enemy. He’s only here for a limited time, let’s make the most of it. Similarly, attachments on the Ranger of Cardolan could be useful, but that means you’re not using his ability (although very much still viable), and as before, other allies may be better targets.

There’s another set of combos that are intriguing, but still only situationally applicable because several pieces may need to be in place.

  • Descendants of Kings: more ways to get uses out of Dunedain stats/actions and you’ll likely have enemies engaged if you trigger Ranger of Cardolan’s ability
  • Tale of Tinuviel: always takes some finesse since it’s not providing action advantage. Since the stat boosting lasts until the end of the phase, extra readying is needed to get maximize the benefit (say from: Descendants of Kings)
  • Dunedain Hunter: an alluring gamble to directly take on an extra enemy to get a strong ally in play for not cost. Sometimes that enemy is more than you can handle right away, and the Ranger of Cardolan could help double-team that enemy if necessary. Plus, played during the planning phase, it gives you more opportunities to get an extra use.
  • Wait no Longer: a similar combo as previous, play during planning and appreciate exactly what extra enemy you are dealing with this round. However, it starts to get a little bit expensive to pull off.
  • Heir of Valandil: a perfectly acceptable way to reduce the cost once you’ve got some enemies engaged. Appreciate the flexibility to play Ranger of Cardolan this way if you missed the opportunity to trigger the response, of if you have Ranger of Cardolan back in your hand later in the game when the response isn’t as needed.
  • Mablung (hero): while he doesn’t share the right trait with the Ranger of Cardolan to trigger its ability, Mablung effectively defrays the cost of putting the Ranger into play during any phase.

Now to the substantive analysis, putting Ranger of Cardolan against the two staple 1-cost cards dealing emergency/unexpected combat:

Feint
Completely shuts down an attack and no secondary effect triggers: no shadow card, no forced effect related to the attack, etc.

Sneak Attack
Allows ‘enters/leaves play’ effects to trigger. If the ally survives, it could be paid for conventionally during the next planning phase, or a second sneak attack during a later phase of the same round.

Ranger of Cardolan
One resource cost is not specific to a sphere. Ally remains until the end of the round. Card is shuffled into owner’s deck for potential reuse. Takes up less ‘deck space’ with the integrated ability.

Objectively, Feint and Sneak Attack deserve their spots among the most popular and abused effects from the core set. But looking comparatively at the Ranger’s ability, would Feint and Sneak Attack be improved if they were neutral (non-)sphere? Would Feint and Sneak Attack be improved if they were shuffled into their owner’s deck after use (say, conditionally if no shadow effect was dealt to the target enemy)? The fine print to shuffle back into the owner’s deck can be incredible if there is sufficient card draw in a Dunedain deck.

The Ranger of Cardolan can be an excellent archery damage soak, effectively healing itself as it leaves play (also true for Sneak Attack). But it is also significant card economy, as it takes up half the space in your deck as a Sneak Attack and the corresponding ally.

Clearly there are some restrictions on Ranger of Cardolan. Controlling a Dunedain hero is much more limiting than being able to pay for one tactics or lore resource based on any hero lineup; there’s only six Dunedain heroes by name, and a couple more Messenger of the King candidates. But there is quite a bit of sub-archetype flexibility here: the multifaceted Aragorn, Idraen with location control, Thurindir (and Thalion) with side quests, and Beravor with card draw support. It also is only triggerable at the moment you engage an enemy; while that usually is the most impactful moment to have use of an extra ally, it lacks the flexibility to enter play if that isn’t the case.

Sidebar: Thalion mirrors the Ranger of Cardolan. Differing only in ability and unique status, they share the same card type, stats, cost, traits and sphere. It would really be a bonus achievement to trigger Ranger of Cardolan if your only Dunedain hero was Thalion after three side quests have been cleared.

Peak Power

Here we go; you’ve been looking for that overpowered combo to abuse the encounter deck with. Here we go! It was an unexpected surprise when I found the quote at the head of this article that mentioned when the Rangers would appear in Bree they “told strange forgotten tales which were eagerly listened to“.

Alright, you’re smart. You’ve probably known this combo was coming all along. But let’s go over some extra abuses of A Very Good Tale when used in the refresh phase before Ranger of Cardolan is discarded at round’s end. If you’ve snuck it into play using only one resource, you’ve got a chance to get excellent value out of that one resource.

To be explicit, all characters will ready during step 7.2 and then A Very Good Tale is playable during the action window between 7.4 and 7.5. Exhausting an ally, especially one with a high printed cost, that is about to leave play maximizes A Very Good Tale’s already potent resource acceleration and card draw effect.

Remember, there is that sneaky little action window after all cards ready and before the round ends

Here’s an extra achievement to unlock for yourself: pair Ranger of Cardolan with another ally leaving play at the end of the round. Gandalf, Elrond, Galadriel and Saruman, while costly, all have powerful when enters play effects that you can squeeze one more use out of before they depart. Combined with Ranger of Cardolan, they can bring in a pair of high cost allies. Frankly, a pair of Rangers makes a perfectly viable combo on their own.

Dwarven Sellsword and Wilyador similarly leave play at the end of the round, but they are remarkably cheap allies whose value decrease the longer you keep them hanging around; what better than to play them on the cheap, yet get another stable ally into play as they leave (however, you are compromised to a total cost of incoming allies at five resources, but still plenty of respectable allies can be brought in this way).

Backing off “Peak Power” for a moment, imagine blanking the textbox on Ranger of Cardolan; gone is the ability, but also the restriction. Is it still worth playing? Consider how playable a neutral ally is in a tri-sphere deck.

Consider also if a Bond of Friendship contract is played. Per the setup restriction, ten non-sphere cards need to be included in your deck and, with four heroes, paying for a four cost ally doesn’t require any forethought or resource hoarding. As good as they are, a strong neutral ally is much more playable than one belonging to a specific sphere. (And if you really want a third neutral ranger, remember Thalion.)

Rating, Conclusion

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 Ranger of Cardolan has a lot of strengths. As a neutral ally, it can fit in almost any deck. Its statline is versatile and above average per stat to resource value/ratio. With a Dunedain hero, it can bounce into play many times during a game especially as an emergency combatant and archery soak.

With a mature card pool, it can’t always get included, but it’s certainly worthy of consideration in many decks even if its ability isn’t triggerable.

  • Dave – 4
  • Grant – TBR
  • Ted – 5
  • My rating – 3
  • Average – 4.00

Lore Anborn

  • Player Card Categories 
    • Recursion
    • Discard Pile
    • Messenger of the King

An ally with an ability built for the Traps archetype that is a little too expensive in resource and opportunity cost.

Background

‘Now I have him at the arrow-point,’ said Anborn. ‘Shall I not shoot, Captain? For coming unbidden to this place death is our law.’

The Two Towers, Book 4, Chapter 6: The Forbidden Pool

Anborn is one of the Ithilien Rangers under the command of Faramir. He is the one to spot Gollum lurking around the Forbidden Pool. As the quoted above, he keeps an arrow trained on Gollum ready to shoot while Faramir questions Frodo about Gollum.

Card Theme

Anborn’s ability puts him into the Gondor Rangers trap archetype developed during Against the Shadow. This is very thematic to the Rangers of Ithilien. They’re a guerrilla force to harass the enemy at every opportunity, but they’re vastly outnumbered. Traps and ambushes to quickly take out the enemy and then fade away back into their secret hiding places to avoid any sort of counterattack. Anborn has a strong attack stat to help kill enemies in one attack. If not needed on the attack, he can get a trap back to help set up their next offensive.

Card Synergies and Interactions

Traps

Of course with his ability you can get more uses out of Ithilien Pit, Poisoned Stakes, and Ambush. These often will end up in the discard as they facilitate killing the attached enemy. Entangling Nets can also be a good one to get back if used to lower an enemy’s defense.

Ranger Spikes and Forest Snare often won’t need to be retrieved since they can effectively remove an enemy from the game. There are some cases where you will need to kill the trapped enemy anyway. For example, putting a Forest Snare on the Hill Troll in Journey Along the Anduin is a great way to deal with it. You only have to defend it once before throwing the trap on. (Son of Arnor can get it engaged during planning to avoid even the one defense, but it’s harder to pull off.) Then you can kill it over the course of a few turns without too much trouble.

Followed is another where hopefully you don’t need to bring it back with Anborn. He does allow you to put out there and if it attaches to a low threat enemy, just kill it, get Followed back, and replay it.

Readying

The biggest drawback to Anborn’s ability is that you need to exhaust him. This prevents you from using his 3 attack that turn. There may be times when you don’t need his 3 attack because no enemies revealed or another player has combat covered. Still being able to attack and use his ability is better.

There are a fair number of options for readying Anborn. Leather Boots is cheap, in-sphere and can be made more reliable with cards like The Hidden Way and Dunedain Pathfinder. Leadership Faramir hero is a very thematic choice. Anborn’ and Leadership Faramir hero combos well with the Ambush trap since you get to attack when the enemy is engaged. You will just want to plan ahead and use his ability during the Travel phase action window.

Narya can be another great card for readying Anborn. Not only does he ready but he gets a boost to his best stat, attack. His defense is also boosted to 2. This with his 3 hit points makes him into a decent defender for a 2 or 3 attack enemy.

Spare Hood and Cloak is a little trickier to make into a reliable source of readying. Fortunately, Long Lake Trader that can move it to an a weaker ally or an ally that doesn’t need to exhaust like North Realm Lookout is also in Lore.

There are some ally readying events like the core set Ever Vigilant. To Arms! can be especially useful if already running Leather Boots and/or Spare Hood and Cloak. Swift and Strong is a bit more conditional and is better if you have a second target to attack. This is because it will buff his attack to 5! This can really help clear the board of enemies especially if Anborn has a Ranger Spear.

Grim Resolve, Strength of Arms, and The Free Peoples offer global readying. Most likely you won’t be playing these to get Anborn to attack and use his ability. Still he can contribute his 1 willpower if needed to quest and then readying with everyone else for combat. Alternatively, if it’s a heavy combat quest, getting to attack twice for 3 is always good.

Messenger of the King

The contract can make Anborn into an 8 threat cost hero. He already has stats on par with core set Legolas. His trap recursion ability can help set up a draw engine with Damrod hero. Especially if using the traps mentioned earlier that will end up the discard pile frequently. He’s a decent choice for a thematic Rangers of Ithilien build. Thematic considerations aside, Legolas ally outshines him for the contract. Same threat cost and an ability that provides card draw just for killing enemies is much more efficient.

Once he is a hero, there are many more options to ready him. In sphere there is Wingfoot and Lembas. Out of sphere, there is the core set staple Unexpected Courage, Steed of the North, Leadership Gimli hero, Cram, and Magic Ring. Wingfoot and Steed of the North like Leadership Faramir hero mentioned earlier take some planning to use his ability before readying given they are triggered effects.

Ranger Spear

Anborn is one of the best Ranger allies to attach this to. Yazan and Vigilant Dunadan are the only other Ranger allies with a base attack of 3. Most of the Ranger heroes only have attack of 2 for that matter. His ability will help make the +2 attack bonus more reliable.

Quest Specific

His 3 attack can be helpful in quests that have battle questing like those in Heirs of Numenor and the first part of Battle of Carn Dûm. If you give him Ranger Spears, any quests where enemies are guarding cards like Escape from Dol Guldur or the Hobgoblin enemy in the Ered Mithren cycle, he can attack for 5-7 even without traps in play.

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 Anborn at 7 rings. I admit this has a lot to do with my disappointment with trying to fit him into a Trap deck. He’s too expensive to be more than a mid to late game card. That’s likely when you’ll need to get back some traps. Unfortunately usually at that point you should be set up to not need them anymore. This because the best ones to recur, Ithilien Pit, Poisoned Stakes, and Ambush are better early when threat is low and can control engagement better. Erebor Hammersmith then at 2 cost is better to get one of those back early. The trap archetype also is now very full with the addition of Tactics traps and Emyn Arnen Ranger. Anborn tends to be a one of if he makes the cut at all.

I think really what he offers is the 3 attack stat. He’s basically the Lore version of Legolas Ally with a worse ability. The only other ally in Lore with 3 attack is Quickbeam. If not building Mono-Lore, he has some stiff competition from other 4 cost allies like Treebeard and Northern Tracker.

I haven’t played with him as a Messenger of the King hero, but I just don’t see his 8 threat is really low enough to help with keeping a trap deck’s threat low to avoid engagement. I think you’re better off just using the other low threat Lore heroes to get into Secrecy or the likes of Gleowine to get threat as low as possible. Also for the threat cost, there just some better options like Tactics Legolas ally with a more universally useful ability.

  • Dave – 8
  • Grant – 5
  • Ted – 7
  • Matt – 7
  • Average – 6.75

Sample Decks

Ketaroz’s Forest Masters

I originally found this deck back on the FFG forums years ago. Hints below copied from the original thread.

  • Do not hold traps in your hands, keep staging area always with a trap.
  • Keep summoning allies whenever you can.
  • Gandalf will mostly be used as a End Game move or threat control.
  • Engage often and voluntarily.
  • Quest are the hard part, be smart, normally heroes quets and allies fight.
  • Activate Aragorn skill around threat 43.

Main Deck

Hero (3)
Aragorn (The Watcher in the Water)
Faramir (Assault on Osgiliath)
Mirlonde (The Drúadan Forest)

Ally (30)
3x Anborn (The Blood of Gondor)
3x Elrond (The Road Darkens)
3x Erebor Hammersmith (Core Set)
3x Gandalf (Core Set)
3x Gildor Inglorion (The Hills of Emyn Muil)
3x Haldir of Lórien (A Journey to Rhosgobel)
3x Ithilien Archer (Encounter at Amon Dîn)
3x Wandering Ent (Celebrimbor’s Secret)
3x Warden of Healing (The Long Dark)
3x White Tower Watchman (The Drúadan Forest)

Attachment (17)
3x Forest Snare (Core Set)
3x Lembas (Trouble in Tharbad)
3x Poisoned Stakes (The Blood of Gondor)
3x Ranger Bow (Assault on Osgiliath)
3x Ranger Spikes (Heirs of Númenor)
2x Wingfoot (The Nîn-in-Eilph)

Event (3)
3x Mithrandir’s Advice (The Steward’s Fear)

3 Heroes, 50 Cards
Cards up to Celebrimbor’s Secret

Deck built on RingsDB.

Bear Traps of the King by GrandSpleen

A multiplayer combat deck featuring Anborn as The Messenger of the King.

Main Deck

Hero (3)
(MotK) Anborn (Messenger of the King Allies)
Beorn (Over Hill and Under Hill)
Damrod (The Land of Shadow)

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

Ally (16)
1x Anborn (The Blood of Gondor)
3x Defender of Rammas (Heirs of Númenor)
3x Honour Guard (The Wastes of Eriador)
3x Landroval (A Journey to Rhosgobel)
2x Legolas (The Treason of Saruman)
2x Master of the Forge (Shadow and Flame)
2x Warden of Healing (The Long Dark)

Attachment (29)
3x Ambush (The Land of Shadow)
3x Dagger of Westernesse (The Black Riders)
3x Entangling Nets (Temple of the Deceived)
2x Favor of the Valar (The Battle of Carn Dûm)
3x Ithilien Pit (Encounter at Amon Dîn)
3x Outmatched (Fire in the Night)
2x Raiment of War (The Thing in the Depths)
3x Ranger Spear (The City of Corsairs)
2x Rohan Warhorse (The Voice of Isengard)
3x Song of Battle (The Dead Marshes)
2x Vigilant Guard (A Storm on Cobas Haven)

Event (5)
3x Daeron’s Runes (Foundations of Stone)
2x Foe-hammer (Over Hill and Under Hill)

3 Heroes, 50 Cards
Cards up to Messenger of the King Allies

Sideboard

Attachment (4)
1x Favor of the Valar (The Battle of Carn Dûm)
3x Woodmen’s Clearing (The Withered Heath)

Event (3)
3x Keen as Lances (Escape from Mount Gram)

Decklist built and published on RingsDB.

Endless Ambush by Seastan

As the title suggests, the deck is all about recurring Ambush with Anborn.

Endless Ambush

Main Deck

Hero (3)
Aragorn (The Watcher in the Water)
Damrod (The Land of Shadow)
Glorfindel (Foundations of Stone)

Ally (16)
3x Anborn (The Blood of Gondor)
2x Henamarth Riversong (Core Set)
3x Master of the Forge (Shadow and Flame)
3x Treebeard (The Antlered Crown)
2x Warden of Healing (The Long Dark)
3x Wellinghall Preserver (Across the Ettenmoors)

Attachment (19)
3x Ambush (The Land of Shadow)
3x Asfaloth (Foundations of Stone)
2x Forest Snare (Core Set)
3x Light of Valinor (Foundations of Stone)
3x Ranger Spikes (Heirs of Númenor)
3x Steward of Gondor (Core Set)
2x Wingfoot (The Nîn-in-Eilph)

Event (15)
3x A Good Harvest (The Steward’s Fear)
3x A Test of Will (Core Set)
3x Daeron’s Runes (Foundations of Stone)
3x Deep Knowledge (The Voice of Isengard)
3x Heed the Dream (Flight of the Stormcaller)

3 Heroes, 50 Cards
Cards up to Flight of the Stormcaller

Sideboard

Attachment (3)
3x Elf-stone (The Black Riders)

Decklist built and published on RingsDB.

Forlong

This review won’t be Forlong and drawn out.

Background

Forlong is introduced in The Return of the King as the Lord of Lossarnach with two rather unflattering nicknames.

‘Forlong! Forlong!’ Pippin heard men calling. ‘What do they say?’ he asked. ‘Forlong has come,’ Bergil answered; ‘old Forlong the Fat, the Lord of Lossarnach. That is where my grandsire lives. Hurrah! Here he is. Good old Forlong!’ Leading the line there came walking a big thick-limbed horse, and on it sat a man of wide shoulders and huge girth, but old and grey-bearded, yet mail-clad and black-helmed and bearing a long heavy spear. Behind him marched proudly a dusty line of men, well-armed and bearing great battle-axes; grim-faced they were, and shorter and somewhat swarthier than any men that Pippin had yet seen in Gondor. ‘Forlong!’ men shouted. ‘True heart, true friend! Forlong!’ But when the men of Lossarnach had passed they muttered: ‘So few! Two hundreds, what are they? We hoped for ten times the number. That will be the new tidings of the black fleet. They are sparing only a tithe of their strength. Still every little is a gain.’

The Return of the King, Book 5, Chapter 1: Minas Tirith

Forlong fought in the Battle of Pelennor Fields. It is revealed in the Mounds of Mundberg song that he fell in battle alongside many other lords of Rohan and Gondor. Lossarnach is located southwest of Minas Tirith comprised of the White Mountain’s flowered vales.

Card Theme

There is not much about Forlong in the books to draw on the source of his readying ability. I argue it is intended to represent his dependability and reliability based on the people calling him a true heart and friend. The Outlands theme in general, however, is a different story.

Gondor arguably was the only empire of Middle Earth in the Third Age. It encompassed several different regions and had built up from Númenórean Faithful colonies and intermingled with other peoples over the course of its history. The southern fiefs called the Outlands provided different resources to the rest of Gondor. Most notably for the stat boosting mechanism to other Outlands characters is the captains of these lands brought 2,000 soldiers all equipped and trained differently. The strength of Gondor through its various peoples and lands is what is represented in the Outlands allies making each other stronger. Forlong is still and extension of that general theme.

Card Synergies and Interactions

Outlands

Forlong like all the other Outlands allies gets better the more you play. Play all the other stat boosting allies like Warrior of Lossarnach, Anfalas Herdsman, Ethir Swordsman, and Knights of the Swan. Then Forlong will have hero level stats and ready each phase. Hirluin the Fair with the resource smoothing for Outlands allies helps get them all into play.

Messenger of the King

The contract can put him into play right at the start with a pretty low starting threat of 6. Nearly the same starting threat as Spirit Glorfindel. While his stats aren’t as impressive to start, it only takes a couple Outlands allies and he provides some extra value for his initial threat cost. Additionally, he’ll have the printed Leadership icon for Lord of Morthond and Strength of Arms. This makes Messenger of the King Forlong a strong hero option in an Outlands focused deck.

Spare Hood and Cloak and Marnier’s Compass

Forlong won’t really get much for readying during the Travel and Encounter phases. That is unless you find a way to exhaust him for a benefit. Enter Spare Hood and Cloak and Marnier’s Compass. Now when he readies during those phases you can exhaust him and the cloak to move it and ready the character you moved it to. Play a Long Lake Trader or two and you can repeat this every turn. Mariner’s Compass is another ally attachment that allows you to replace a location in the staging area. It is a very solid location control card, or even better use it to free a Guarded card from a location.

Quest Specific

Forlong’s readying ability makes him great in quests that have many “exhaust a character” effects. You will often see them as a travel cost or forced effect on an enemy engagement. Even more often it will be a treachery or shadow effect.

If using Forlong as a Messenger of the King hero, the number of quests his readying is helpful increases substantially. Basically any quest with objectives that require a hero to be exhausted to claim them, such as, A Journey to Rhosgobel, The Seventh Level, and The Steward’s Fear. He can also counter some of the terrible condition attachments like Caught in a Web and Watchful Eyes.

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 Forlong at 5 rings. He is incredibly good in an Outlands deck with all the other Outlands allies. Outside of an Outlands deck he’s an expensive ally with low stats. The 5 rings I think best represents this very limited awesomeness.

  • Dave – 9
  • Grant – 4
  • Ted – 4
  • Matt – 5
  • Average – 5. 5

Sample Decks

A Messenger for the Outlands

A mono-leadership outlands deck, utilizing the Messenger of the King contract on Forlong for maximum readying and get Lord of Morthond to work.

Main Deck

Hero (3)
(MotK) Forlong (Messenger of the King Allies)
Hirluin the Fair (The Steward’s Fear)
Prince Imrahil (A Journey to Rhosgobel)

Ally (23)
2x Anborn (The Land of Shadow)
3x Anfalas Herdsman (The Steward’s Fear)
3x Ethir Swordsman (The Steward’s Fear)
2x Faramir (Core Set)
1x Forlong (The Drúadan Forest)
3x Gandalf (Core Set)
3x Hunter of Lamedon (Heirs of Númenor)
3x Knights of the Swan (The Steward’s Fear)
3x Warrior of Lossarnach (The Steward’s Fear)

Attachment (14)
2x Lord of Morthond (Encounter at Amon Dîn)
1x Path of Need (Foundations of Stone)
3x Prince of Dol Amroth (The City of Corsairs)
3x Steward of Gondor (Core Set)
3x Sword of Morthond (Assault on Osgiliath)
2x Tome of Atanatar (The Blood of Gondor)

Event (11)
2x Grim Resolve (Core Set)
3x Men of the West (Assault on Osgiliath)
3x Sneak Attack (Core Set)
3x Strength of Arms (The Drúadan Forest)

Player Side Quest (2)
1x Prepare for Battle (The Mûmakil)
1x Send for Aid (The Treachery of Rhudaur)

3 Heroes, 50 Cards
Cards up to Messenger of the King Allies

Sideboard

Event (3)
3x Reinforcements (The Treachery of Rhudaur)

Decklist built and published on RingsDB.

Dave’s Version of Grant’s Grey Wanderer Hirulan Deck

The low starting threat of having a single hero helps give the Outlands deck time to build up for combat. Plus the acceleration provided by Resourceful and Timely Aid is very helpful too.

Main Deck

Hero (1)
Hirluin the Fair (The Steward’s Fear)

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

Ally (25)
3x Anfalas Herdsman (The Steward’s Fear)
3x Ethir Swordsman (The Steward’s Fear)
3x Forlong (The Drúadan Forest)
3x Gandalf (Core Set)
3x Hunter of Lamedon (Heirs of Númenor)
3x Knights of the Swan (The Steward’s Fear)
2x Long Lake Fisherman (The Withered Heath)
2x Warden of Healing (The Long Dark)
3x Warrior of Lossarnach (The Steward’s Fear)

Attachment (10)
3x Ancient Mathom (A Journey to Rhosgobel)
2x Lord of Morthond (Encounter at Amon Dîn)
2x Resourceful (The Watcher in the Water)
2x Steward of Gondor (Core Set)
1x Strider (The Drowned Ruins)

Event (15)
3x A Very Good Tale (Over Hill and Under Hill)
3x Daeron’s Runes (Foundations of Stone)
3x Men of the West (Assault on Osgiliath)
3x Sneak Attack (Core Set)
3x Timely Aid (The Redhorn Gate)

Player Side Quest (1)
1x Send for Aid (The Treachery of Rhudaur)

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

Deck built on RingsDB.

Ranger Bow

  • Player Card Categories Willpower Bonus
    • Direct Damage
    • Staging Area Attack
    • Ally Attachment

A tool for Ranger decks looking to dispatch enemies in the staging area which is easier said than done.

Background

The flavor text points the Ranger Bow as those carried by the Rangers of Ithilien. In fact, the text is from when Frodo and Sam first met the rangers after their capture:

If they were astonished at what they saw, their captors were even more astonished. Four tall Men stood there. Two had spears in their hands with broad bright heads. Two had great bows, almost of their own height, and great quivers of long green-feathered arrows. All had swords at their sides, and were clad in green and brown of varied hues, as if the better to walk unseen in the glades of Ithilien. Green gauntlets
covered their hands, and their faces were hooded and masked with green, except for their eyes, which were very keen and bright.

The Two Towers, Book 4, Chapter 4: Of Herbs and Stewed Rabbit

It is later revealed these rangers are selected from people descended from Ithilien’s former residents. They secretly cross the Anduin to engage in guerilla tactics to harry the forces of Mordor.

Card Theme

The direct damage into the staging area is very thematic to the Rangers of Ithilien. Their job is set up ambushes and harass the enemy at every opportunity then fade away back into their secret hiding places. Keeping low threat or otherwise avoiding engaging enemies to damage them outside of direct combat represents their tactics very well.

Card Synergies and Interactions

Cheap Ranger Allies

The Ranger Bow of course requires a ranger character to use it. While ranger heroes are certainly an option, allies are better as heroes tend to have strong stats or abilities that require them to exhaust. Top ally candidates are Guardian of Ithilien, Ithilien Tracker, Ithilien Lookout, and Andrath Guardsman. All are or can be 1 or 2 cost making them cheap to play. Aside from Ithilien Lookout, they all have 1 stat scores that won’t be terribly missed if exhausted to use the bow.

Guardian of Ithilien is the first choice since can help get an enemy back up into staging but after it enters play, its utility is diminished. It could be useful for a chump block but with a Ranger Bow it provides more value turn after turn. The one direct damage into the staging area can allow it to damage an enemy on its own. It it kills an enemy, this could possibly reduce threat in the staging area for some pseudo questing.

Ithilien Tracker is a good second choice also with its one attack that won’t be missed. It’s ability can be hit or miss since it is an action that has to be triggered prior to staging. Ithilien Lookout is another useful inclusion for a secrecy deck with its cost lowered to one. While it has a more useful 2 attack than the others, the bow is a good option for it while avoiding engagements. Andrath Guardsman similar to the Guardian of Ithilien loses utility once played. The bow gives it some ongoing utility.

Engagement Control, Threat Reduction, and Return to Staging Area

All of these types of cards can help keep enemies in the staging area for Ranger Bow. The method just differs slightly. Engagement control cards like Take No Notice, Advance Warning, Mablung ally, and Lore Pippin hero, Noiseless Movement, and Rohirrim Scout either increase the engagement cost of enemies or prevent engagement.

Threat reduction helps keep you below the engagement of enemies so they don’t come down at all. In Lore with Ranger Bow there are only 2 options, but they’re great. Woodmen’s Clearing at 0 resource cost can lower your threat by 3 once the location it is attached to is explored. Location control effects are quite prevalent in Lore making this fairly easy to do. Lore Aragorn, which I like to think of as Strider because of the art, is the other option. His refresh action to reset your threat to its starting level is the biggest threat reduction effect in the game. Of course these are not the only options even in mono-Lore. There are a couple neutral options like core set Gandalf ally and Keen as Lances that work well too. There are more neutral cards and in other spheres. I’ll cover them later as they overlap with other synergies.

If you can’t avoid engagement there are cards to return them to the staging area. Guardian of Ithilien is a great double duty card here. It sends an enemy back up to the staging area and is a ranger for the Ranger Bow to go on. Best case is you’ve damaged an enemy the previous round, return it to the staging area with Guardian, and then shoot it dead with Ranger Bow. Another double duty card is Fastred hero. Not only will he send an enemy back, but he will also reduce threat for doing so.

Ithilien Archer and Terrible to Behold are other options but are just not worth it. The archer is expensive at 3 cost. It’s 2 attack usually isn’t going to damage an enemy on its own. If you can damage an enemy, you might as well try to kill it since that means the attack already has been defended. Terrible to Behold at least cancels the attack and returns it, but as the cost of exhausting a Noble character. At that point you might as well have defended the attack.

Hobbits

Hobbits can work quite well with the bow. They offer some of the lowest threat cost heroes in the game, additional threat reduction, and engagement control. Particularly in the Lore sphere with Ranger Bow. As mentioned earlier, hero Pippen its chief among them for increasing engagement cost of enemies per Hobbit hero you control. Folco Boffin also in the lore sphere is a great choice because his threat cost can be 4 when you’re running only Hobbit Heroes. Plus he can be discarded for an emergency threat reduction. The last in sphere option, Bilbo Baggins, is less optimal than others considering his 9 threat cost. He’s not bad when paired with Pippin and Folco for 19 starting threat, and more card draw is never a bad thing.

A couple of the spirit Hobbit Heroes also have very useful abilities to to pair with Ranger Bow. Spirit Merry with his threat reduction ability can help keep Heroes below the engagement cost of enemies. Spirit Pippin can send an enemy back up to the staging area to make it a target for the Bow. They also provide Spirit access for many threat reduction cards like Galadhrim’s Greeting, Smoke Rings, and the more Hobbit specific Elvenses. Lastly but certainly not least is The Shirefolk if using all Hobbits.

Robin Smallburrow offers another way to increase engagement cost of enemies. It’s a bit conditional with having to travel, but the increase by quest points can be significant. Particularly in later cycles when locations were given more quest points to counter direct location progress effects like Asfaloth.

Other Direct Damage and Staging Area Attack

Ranger Bow dealing only 1 damage means it is unlikely to kill an enemy in a single turn. Even with 2 or 3 copies out unless you’re playing earlier scenarios where enemies could have 1 or 2 hit points like Shadows of Mirkwood, Darrowdelf, or The Hobbit Saga. More cards with these effects make this strategy more effective and consistent. Heroes like Thalin from the Core Set, Argalad, and Tactics Bilbo can all do a direct damage to enemies in the staging area. Argalad besides being in sphere is the most flexible as his ability is an action that can be triggered after staging. Bilbo and Thalin on the other hand have to quest to get the damage. A number of allies also have direct damage effects typically from entering play like the Core Set Gandalf, Descendent of Thorondor, Galadhon Archer, and Rumil. There are some thematic options as well with Forest Patrol, Poisoned Stakes, Leadership Anborn ally, Arrows from the Trees, and Lore Faramir ally.

The other route is to use heroes that can attack directly into the staging area either to soften up or finish off targets of the Ranger Bow. Haldir hero, Dúnhere and Leadership Éomer all have staging area attack built in. They also have the staging area attack specific attachments, Bow of the Galadhrim and Spear of the Mark, to make them very effective at attacking into the staging area. Great Yew Bow and Hands Upon the Bow can allow any ranged hero to attack into the staging area as well.

Quest Specific

Ranger bow will really shine against enemies like the Core Set’s 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.

Quests to not bring the Ranger Bow against are definitely Intruders in Chetwood, Dungeson of Cirith Gurat, and Helm’s Deep. 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. In Dungeons of Cirith Gurat, enemies guarding objectives are immune to player card effects during stage 1. They’re often guarding objectives since they will capture allies as objectives. The second stage when the players have to avoid engaging enemies for 2 turns Ranger Bow would be great, 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. Ranger Bow’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 rate Ranger Bow at 7 rings. It can be useful, but you have to build in some encounter control, low threat, or return to staging area effects to use continually. Otherwise, it just softens up enemies when engaged and there are attack boosting attachments that would be a better use of deck space. The 1 direct damage isn’t enough to kill an enemy at least every other turn without 2 copies in play. This direct damage also is generally outclassed by staging area attack. Dunhere, Haldir, and Leadership Eomer can all get their attack up to kill an enemy in a single turn with a couple attachments. It is not unplayable, but the card pool generally has better options for what this is trying to do.

  • Dave – 8
  • Grant – 9
  • Ted – 7
  • Matt – 7
  • Average – 7.75

Sample Decks

Ye Olde Ranger Trap Deck by Matt Duckworth

The main idea is enemy manipulation in staging. The focus is to either trap enemies as they come into play, or use Ithilien Archer or Mablung to bounce select enemies you engage back into traps in staging. As you are laying traps and trapping enemies, Damrod functions to both accelerate resources and fuel additional card draw. The main attack power comes from Faramir, who is boosted both by sticking enemies in staging with low threat and Ranger Spikes, as well as equipping Dagger of Westernesse.

Ye Olde Ranger Trap Deck

Main Deck

Hero (3)
Damrod (The Land of Shadow)
Faramir (Assault on Osgiliath)
Mirlonde (The Drúadan Forest)

Ally (22)
2x Anborn (The Blood of Gondor)
2x Gandalf (Over Hill and Under Hill)
1x Henamarth Riversong (Core Set)
2x Ithilien Archer (Encounter at Amon Dîn)
2x Ithilien Lookout (The Dunland Trap)
2x Ithilien Tracker (Heirs of Númenor)
3x Mablung (The Land of Shadow)
3x Master of the Forge (Shadow and Flame)
2x Mirkwood Pioneer (The Nîn-in-Eilph)
3x Rivendell Minstrel (The Hunt for Gollum)

Attachment (23)
2x Ambush (The Land of Shadow)
2x Dagger of Westernesse (The Black Riders)
2x Forest Snare (Core Set)
2x Ithilien Pit (Encounter at Amon Dîn)
2x Poisoned Stakes (The Blood of Gondor)
2x Protector of Lórien (Core Set)
2x Ranger Bow (Assault on Osgiliath)
3x Ranger Spikes (Heirs of Númenor)
3x Secret Vigil (The Lost Realm)
1x Song of Battle (The Dead Marshes)
2x Wingfoot (The Nîn-in-Eilph)

Event (6)
2x Distant Stars (Escape from Mount Gram)
2x Forest Patrol (Assault on Osgiliath)
2x Mithrandir’s Advice (The Steward’s Fear)

Player Side Quest (1)
1x Scout Ahead (The Wastes of Eriador)

3 Heroes, 52 Cards
Cards up to The Black Riders

Decklist built and published on RingsDB.

Smoke Screen Alliance by Matt Kell (kattattack22)

A Ranger Hobbit Last Alliance deck also featuring Pipes. General game plan is mulligan for Hobbit Pipe(s). Multiple if possible. Once some Hobbit Pipes are in play use the threat reduction events to draw cards. Last Alliance provides some resource acceleration throughout the game. Smoke and Think helps pay for the high cost Ranger allies.

Main Deck

Hero (3)
Aragorn (The Watcher in the Water)
Frodo Baggins (Conflict at the Carrock)
Pippin (Encounter at Amon Dîn)

Contract (0)
1x The Last Alliance (ALeP – Children of Eorl)

Ally (20)
1x Bilbo Baggins (The Road Darkens)
2x Cautious Halfling (Wrath and Ruin)
2x Curious Brandybuck (The Wastes of Eriador)
2x Gaffer Gamgee (Mount Gundabad)
3x Guardian of Ithilien (The City of Corsairs)
2x Ithilien Tracker (Heirs of Númenor)
1x Mablung (The Land of Shadow)
2x Northern Tracker (Core Set)
1x Odo Proudfoot (Under the Ash Mountains)
2x Ranger of Cardolan (The Wastes of Eriador)
1x Robin Smallburrow (The Drowned Ruins)
1x Sam Gamgee (The Thing in the Depths)

Attachment (13)
3x Dúnedain Pipe (The Black Serpent)
3x Hobbit Pipe (The Black Riders)
3x Ranger Bow (Assault on Osgiliath)
3x Spare Pipe (The Land of Sorrow)
1x Thorongil (The Fortress of Nurn)

Event (18)
3x Deep Knowledge (The Voice of Isengard)
3x Drinking Song (Mount Gundabad)
3x Smoke and Think (The Land of Sorrow)
3x Smoke Rings (The Black Riders)
3x The Galadhrim’s Greeting (Core Set)
3x The Shirefolk (Mount Gundabad)

3 Heroes, 51 Cards
Cards up to ALeP – Children of Eorl

Sideboard

Hero (5)
Aragorn (Core Set)
Aragorn (The Lost Realm)
Aragorn (The Fortress of Nurn)
Frodo Baggins (A Shadow in the East)
Pippin (The Black Riders)

Ally (14)
2x Bilbo Baggins (The Road Darkens)
1x Cautious Halfling (Wrath and Ruin)
1x Curious Brandybuck (The Wastes of Eriador)
2x Elladan (The Mountain of Fire)
2x Elrohir (The Mountain of Fire)
1x Gaffer Gamgee (Mount Gundabad)
1x Odo Proudfoot (Under the Ash Mountains)
1x Ranger of Cardolan (The Wastes of Eriador)
1x Robin Smallburrow (The Drowned Ruins)
1x Sam Gamgee (The Thing in the Depths)
1x Súlien (The City of Corsairs)

Event (7)
3x Elrond’s Counsel (The Watcher in the Water)
3x Old Toby (The Black Serpent)
1x Will of the West (Core Set)

Deck built on RingsDB.

Ranger Bow Target Practice by Jim H (teamjimby)

A Secrecy deck with scrying and card draw to support using Ranger Bow.

Main Deck

Hero (3)
Glorfindel (Foundations of Stone)
Mirlonde (The Drúadan Forest)
Pippin (The Black Riders)

Ally (19)
1x Bilbo Baggins (The Road Darkens)
3x Celduin Traveler (The Nîn-in-Eilph)
3x Guardian of Ithilien (The City of Corsairs)
2x Henamarth Riversong (Core Set)
3x Ithilien Lookout (The Dunland Trap)
1x Ithilien Tracker (Heirs of Númenor)
1x Mablung (The Land of Shadow)
3x Master of the Forge (Shadow and Flame)
2x Warden of Healing (The Long Dark)

Attachment (16)
1x Asfaloth (Foundations of Stone)
1x Hobbit Pipe (The Black Riders)
3x Light of Valinor (Foundations of Stone)
3x Poisoned Stakes (The Blood of Gondor)
3x Ranger Bow (Assault on Osgiliath)
2x Ranger Spikes (Heirs of Númenor)
3x Resourceful (The Watcher in the Water)

Event (14)
3x A Test of Will (Core Set)
3x Daeron’s Runes (Foundations of Stone)
3x Elrond’s Counsel (The Watcher in the Water)
3x Risk Some Light (Shadow and Flame)
2x The Galadhrim’s Greeting (Core Set)

Player Side Quest (1)
1x Scout Ahead (The Wastes of Eriador)

3 Heroes, 50 Cards
Cards up to The City of Corsairs

Sideboard

Ally (1)
1x Warden of Healing (The Long Dark)

Attachment (3)
1x Asfaloth (Foundations of Stone)
1x Ithilien Pit (Encounter at Amon Dîn)
1x Ranger Spikes (Heirs of Númenor)

Event (4)
3x O Elbereth! Gilthonial! (Shadow and Flame)
1x The Galadhrim’s Greeting (Core Set)

Decklist built and published on RingsDB.

Secret Vigil

by Jason Meyer

  • Card Talk Episode TBD
  • Cycle
    • Angmar Awakened
  • Set
    • The Lost Realm 

  • Player Card Categories 
    • Staging Area Threat Reduction
    • Threat Reduction

Background

I suppose since the quote comes from Aragorn from The Fellowship of the Ring, it’s meant to bring one back to this idea of Dunedain Rangers keeping a vigil on the many Free Peoples. That’s a reassuring thought, when thinking of the many dangers outside the more populated areas of Hobbiton and Bree.

Card Theme

Thematically, it’s spot-on for me because it’s a Secret Vigil, observing an enemy in the staging area (so it’s seen as less of a Threat), and then while it’s engaged, one has determined some of its weak spots, and upon killing it, the death of such a high threat enemy has emboldened the cast of characters to regain some hope in their endeavor, and are able to move forward with less of that sense of impending doom that comes with much of Middle-Earth adventuring (at least in this game).

Card Synergies and Interactions

Bond of Friendship & Grey Wanderer Contracts

I would have liked this card to work better at helping one stay in Secrecy, but I’ve found that (to kill) an enemy while in Secrecy, I tended to have Hobbits or a Spirit Glorfindel; and it just hasn’t quite worked. Instead, I’ve liked this, like in my Bond of Friendship decks, for when I needed an extra Tactics card. Also, I’ve liked having this in some Grey Wanderer decks with a single hero that has high attack power (Legolas, Gandalf) to help me stay at pretty low Threat for a few more rounds.

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.

For only 1 Tactics resource, I’ve been finding this card to be pretty useful. It’s an attachment that can be played on any enemy, so if the (-1) Threat would be helpful in the Staging area (and often questing with Tactics is difficult) that’s good. But it can be attached to even an Engaged enemy, so if there’s an Ungoliant Spawn, Mumak, Giant Centipede, or some other high Threat enemy that is about to be killed, the Threat reduction kicks in. I know Dave is primarily a solo player, but I play 2-handed; and since Secret Vigil reduces EACH player’s Threat by that enemy’s printed Threat. In Tactics, Threat reduction is very beneficial. Also, that it’s a 1 cost, it has made its way into Bond of Friendship decks I’ve made. That the player can choose where it goes, makes it stand out from the typical attachments that can be put on enemies, so there’s less of a chance of this being accidentally attached to some 1-Threat enemy.

  • Jason – 5
  • Dave – TBD
  • Grant – TBD
  • Ted – TBD
  • Matt – TBD

External Links

Sample Decks

20210806_Bond_Dwarf by Jason Meyer

Main Deck

Hero (4)
Bifur (Khazad-dûm)
Dáin Ironfoot (Return to Mirkwood)
Nori (Over Hill and Under Hill)
Thorin Stonehelm (Wrath and Ruin)

Contract (0)
1x Bond of Friendship (The Fortress of Nurn)

Ally (21)
1x Bofur (Over Hill and Under Hill)
1x Bombur (Road to Rivendell)
1x Dwalin (On the Doorstep)
2x Dwarven Sellsword (The Drowned Ruins)
2x Erebor Hammersmith (Core Set)
2x Erebor Toymaker (Mount Gundabad)
2x Ered Luin Miner (Temple of the Deceived)
1x Fili (Over Hill and Under Hill)
2x Gandalf (Core Set)
1x Glóin (On the Doorstep)
1x Kili (Over Hill and Under Hill)
2x Longbeard Map-Maker (Conflict at the Carrock)
1x Miner of the Iron Hills (Core Set)
2x Veteran Axehand (Core Set)

Attachment (16)
2x Boots from Erebor (Khazad-dûm)
2x Cram (Over Hill and Under Hill)
2x Dwarrowdelf Axe (Khazad-dûm)
2x Secret Vigil (The Lost Realm)
2x Song of Battle (The Dead Marshes)
2x Song of Wisdom (Conflict at the Carrock)
1x Unexpected Courage (Core Set)
1x Warrior Sword (The Ghost of Framsburg)
2x Woodmen’s Clearing (The Withered Heath)

Event (13)
2x A Test of Will (Core Set)
1x Ancestral Knowledge (Khazad-dûm)
1x Beorn’s Hospitality (Core Set)
2x Bulwark of the West (The Crossings of Poros)
1x Dwarven Tomb (Core Set)
2x Feint (Core Set)
2x Hasty Stroke (Core Set)
2x Sneak Attack (Core Set)

4 Heroes, 50 Cards
Cards up to The Fortress of Nurn

A Test of Will

The staple Spirit card to rule them all.

Background

It’s difficult to point to a single character or event in the books that this would apply to because really its a theme in Lord of the Rings. Frodo’s will is consistently tested by the ring on the journey to Mordor. Gandalf and Galadriel are tempted but ultimately pass the test when Frodo offers it to them. Boromir’s will is eventually broken by its promise of a means to save his people. The will of the free peoples are tested as they are betrayed and beset on all sides against what seems overwhelming odds.

Card Theme

Treacheries in this game can be thought of like a plot twist. The game can seem to be heading in one direction then suddenly there is a Piercing Cry. The heroes must summon their will to fight off Dread and Despair. Their will is continually tested as the road darkens with the Devilry of Saruman and his Orcs of the White Hand. All the while resisting The Lure of the Ring until they reach the Foul Fumes of Mount Doom.

Card Synergies and Interactions

Encounter Control

A Test of Will can basically reduce the number of cards revealed in a turn by 1 as long as it is a treachery. Lore with Gildor’s Counsel can do in a more straightforward fashion. Lore also has many other ways to mitigate what the encounter deck can throw at the players. Out of the Wild and Scout Ahead can put the most punishing encounter card of the top 5 in the victory display. This can set up The Door is Closed to cancel not only treacheries (and their keywords which A Test of Will can’t do), but any encounter card in the victory display. None Return and Leave No Trace can ensure that a bad enemy or location that the players destroyed or explored doesn’t make a repeat appearance.

Additionally there are some encounter filtering effects like Lore Denethor in the core set that can put an encounter card on the bottom of the encounter deck. Risk Some Light does much the same except players can choose one of the top 3. The Hidden Way and Wait No Longer let players choose a location or enemy, respectively, from the top 5 cards to replace a card revealed during staging. Plus, these cards put the location in the active slot or engaged keeping staging area threat under control. Eleanor and Balin can also replace a treachery or shadow revealed. These filtering effects help players mitigate the randomness of the encounter deck bypassing the worst effects for ones that are hopefully easier to deal with. Players combining all of these cards can have a strong measure of control over the encounter deck as they’ll either always be choosing the least harmful effect or having the means to remove or cancel it.

Nonbos

There are a couple cards that seem like they should work with A Test of Will but don’t due to the timing framework.

Map of Eardindil

Map of Eardindil can’t be used to recur A Test of Will. It is an action to use the map to replay A Test of Will from the discard and there are no action windows during staging when most treacheries are revealed. It still doesn’t work even if you reveal a treachery during the Planning Phase when there are action windows presumably through something like A Desperate Path. This is because per FAQ 1.37 on timing of effects, “players should use this order of resolution: passive abilities first, Forced effects second, Response actions third”. Each effect has to pass their priority (to borrow some Magic: The Gathering terminology) before actions can be used. This means that by the time you can use Map of Earindil’s action, the window to play a response is closed.

A Good Harvest

As mentioned earlier, there isn’t any action windows during staging. If you planned to splash A Test of Will into a deck without a Spirit hero, A Good Harvest it won’t be able to help do so on as needed basis. A Good Harvest would have to be played before staging since it is an action either at the action window after 3.1 Quest Phase begins or 3.2 Commit characters to the quest. A risky play just for the chance to cancel a when revealed effect without some encounter scrying especially in lower player counts.

Quest Specific

A Test of Will will be useful in any quest since all of them still have treacheries with When Revealed effect. The Khazad-Dum cycle, however, it is almost a requirement to bring Test of Will. The Hazards of the Pit set that is part of many of the scenarios includes the notorious Sudden Pitfall that can easily take out a hero if there are no other questing characters to discard. Crumbling Ruin in the same set can also often result in the loss of an ally and even a hero if they don’t have an ally instead. Watchful Eyes also in one of the deluxe sets means many additional encounter cards or not being able to use a hero. Then there’s Road to Rivendell with not 1 but 2 terrible treacheries to watch out for. The infamous Sleeping Sentry that has ended many a game when A Test of Will is not available to cancel it. Then there’s Orc Ambush that as Ted pointed out in Superlative February covering the best and worst encounter cards not only can give bring a ton of enemies into play late game, but surges on top of it.

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.

There’s no denying A Test of Will is 1 ring rating card. One Spirit resource to stop some of the worst effects the encounter deck can do to players is amazing. Especially in the early cycles when the encounter design threw more varying levels of difficulty at players. Treacheries could act more like a “bomb” card for the encounter deck. Later cycles treacheries and the occasional when reveled on an enemy work more to grind away at a player’s board state, but canceling one that would take out a key part of it is still important.

  • Dave – 1
  • Grant – 1
  • Ted – 1
  • Matt – 1

External Links

Sample Deck

Really you can find just about any deck with a Spirit hero and some without that include Test of Will. There’s is one deck that takes encounter control to another level.

The Nope Deck by Qwaz

This is a multiplayer encounter control support deck. It runs Balin and Eleanor to provide ways to mitigate treacheries and shadows right off the rip. The full victory display suite to get ride of the worst encounter cards and double up on cancelation with both A Test of Will and The Door is Closed!

The Nope Deck

Main Deck

Hero (3)
Balin (On the Doorstep)
Damrod (The Land of Shadow)
Eleanor (Core Set)

Ally (3)
3x Errand-rider (Heirs of Númenor)

Attachment (14)
3x Forest Snare (Core Set)
3x King Under the Mountain (On the Doorstep)
3x Ranger Spikes (Heirs of Númenor)
3x Steward of Gondor (Core Set)
2x Thror’s Map (Over Hill and Under Hill)

Event (31)
3x A Test of Will (Core Set)
3x Daeron’s Runes (Foundations of Stone)
3x Deep Knowledge (The Voice of Isengard)
3x Gildor’s Counsel (The Hills of Emyn Muil)
3x Hasty Stroke (Core Set)
3x None Return (Across the Ettenmoors)
3x Out of the Wild (Road to Rivendell)
3x Power of Orthanc (The Voice of Isengard)
3x The Door is Closed! (The Treachery of Rhudaur)
3x We Are Not Idle (Shadow and Flame)
1x Will of the West (Core Set)

Player Side Quest (2)
1x Gather Information (The Lost Realm)
1x Scout Ahead (The Wastes of Eriador)

3 Heroes, 50 Cards
Cards up to The Land of Shadow

Sideboard

Ally (6)
3x Miner of the Iron Hills (Core Set)
3x Warden of Healing (The Long Dark)

Attachment (13)
3x A Burning Brand (Conflict at the Carrock)
3x Entangling Nets (Temple of the Deceived)
3x Song of Wisdom (Conflict at the Carrock)
3x Thrór’s Key (On the Doorstep)
1x Thror’s Map (Over Hill and Under Hill)

Event (9)
3x A Good Harvest (The Steward’s Fear)
3x Dwarven Tomb (Core Set)
3x Heed the Dream (Flight of the Stormcaller)

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.

Background

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.

Guided by Fate

  • Player Card Categories 
    • Encounter Control
    • Discard Pile

Finally a card that really enables player encounter cards like Ranger of the North, Winds from the Sea, Eagles of the North, and Tom Bombadillo!

Background

The phrase, “guided by fate” shows up in the Two Towers when Gishkanah is killed right before he can kill Merry and Pippin.

“Grishnákh flung himself on the ground flat, dragging the hobbits under him; then he drew his sword. No doubt he meant to kill his captives, rather than allow them to escape or to be rescued; but it was his undoing. The sword rang faintly, and glinted a little in the light of the fire away to his left. An arrow came whistling out of the gloom: it was aimed with skill, or guided by fate, and it pierced his right hand. He dropped the sword and shrieked. There was a quick beat of hoofs, and even as Grishnákh leaped up and ran, he was ridden down and a spear passed through him. He gave a hideous shivering cry and lay still.” – The Two Towers, Chapter 3: The Uruk-hai

This is a bit of deus ex machina with the well timed arrow and a random rider of Rohan saving the Hobbits from an untimely demise. The art of Gandalf and one of the Eagles is more representative of another bit of deus ex machina from The Hobbit. That is the eagles’ timely rescue of Bilbo, Gandalf, and Thorin’s Company from the trees they sought refuge in but their goblin pursuers had set fire to.

The title of this card alludes to a greater theme in Lord of the Rings of the roles of fate and free will. There are many instances where the choices the characters make end up serving a greater purpose. Bilbo a seemingly happy hobbit homebody chooses to join Thorin’s Company. In doing so finds a magic ring that had long remained hidden eventually leading to its destruction and that of Sauron. Radagast unwittingly lures Gandalf into Saruman’s trap for him. As a result of Gandalf’s eventual escape when Galadriel sends Gwaihir to look for him, they are alerted to Saruman’s treachery and fall into shadow. Aragorn to prove himself worthy of Arwen, works hard to become a leader of men and the true heir of Isildur. He then is just the leader Gondor needs as the Steward falls into madness and death to stand against Mordor and draw attention away from the ringbearer.

This is all built into Middle Earth. Nowhere more clearly than “The Music of Ainur” within The Simarillion that is Middle Earth’s creation myth. Iluvatar, the god figure, creates the Ainur from his thoughts to sing the song that would become Arda or Middle Earth. One of the most powerful of them, Melkor the the eventual big bad of the First and Second Ages, attempted to subvert and corrupt the song. Iluvatar, however introduces new themes that subsume Melkor’s music into them. After the song ends Iluvatar says about it,

“And thou, Melkor, shalt see that no theme may be played that hath not its uttermost source in me, nor can any alter the music in my despite. For he that attempteth this shall prove but mine instrument in the devising of things more wonderful, which he himself hath not imagined.” – The Simarillion, Ainulindale

It’s clear here that while the people and even spirits of Middle Earth have free will, it is all guided by fate to fit into the larger plan.

Card Theme

The card theme of the seeming fortuitous event that helps our heroes is extremely fitting. Especially as the mechanism makes the encounter player cards more likely to appear when they’re needed. That it is at the direction of the players reinforces the agency of fate in steering the ultimate destiny of Middle Earth. One seeming mismatch in theme is the art doesn’t correspond to the event in the books where the title is used. The art, however, ties into the eagles theme of player cards in Fire of the Eastement adventure pack. As mentioned earlier, the eagles also are often found to show up when needed most.

Card Synergies and Interactions

Player Encounter Cards

There are currently 4 events that can shuffle a set aside player card with the Encounter keyword, Ranger Summons, Flight of the Eagles, Flight to the the Sea, and Tom Bombillo!

Flight of the Eagles and the associated Eagle of the North given the eagle theme of the pack, are the main intended combo piece. They’re arguably the most useful pair of the player encounter cards. Flight of the Eagles is 0 resource cost and gets an eagle to leave play. This is a very useful effect for many eagle cards like Descendant of Thorondor, Meneldor, Eagles of the Misty Mountains, and Gwairhir (both hero and ally versions). On top of that, Eagle of the North is a strong attacking ally and good at questing especially for the generally willpower poor eagles and Tactics in general.

The other 3 events don’t do anything other than shuffle in a set aside card. Ranger of the North with its direct damage or progress can help get rid of a troublesome enemy or location. It’s stats are good and flexible and the ranged and sentinel gives it additional utility in multiplayer. Wind from the Sea is the only one with a shadow effect which makes for an interesting decision on when to use the action on Guided by Fate hoping to reveal it during staging or as a shadow card.

Encounter Control & Scrying

There are some player cards that can help make sure that whichever card Guided by Fate shuffled into the top 5 is the one revealed, or at least let a player know when to expect it. Denethor from the core set and Risk Some Light both are not let you see the top 1 and 3 cards, respectively but move a card to the bottom of the encounter deck. Firyal likewise can discard the first of the 5 encounter cards if it isn’t the desired one. Far-sighted will let a player see where the card is shuffled in at among the top 5. Henamarth Riversong and Rumor from the Earth only take a look at the top card, but for true solo players this is sufficient to determine if the card shuffled in by will be revealed during staging.

On the flip side, Guided by Fate can help set up certain encounter control cards. Prime among them are Wait No Longer and The Hidden Way. Guided by Fate’s action can ensure they do not whiff. Additionally the players can ensure that a weaker enemy or less troublesome location is put into play as well as revealing 1 less encounter card.

Dunedain Hunter and Pathfinder

Similar to Wait No Longer and The Hidden Way, a player can ensure these allies will always find an enemy or location and can enter play.

Victory Display

Out of the Wild and Scout Ahead combo really well with the action ability on Guided by Fate. Much like A Shadow of the Past, players can set up these cards to remove a particular card from the encounter deck since the encounter discard pile is public knowledge. Best part is it repeatable for victory display fellowships.

Quest Specific

Guided by Fate is a boon for quests with objective cards that don’t get shuffled back in when discarded or revealed as a shadow. The Hunt for Gollum and A Journey to Rhosgobel back in the first cycle are early examples with Signs of Gollum and Athelas objectives. Both are important to successfully completing the quest and having to discard one as a shadow can extend the game. In the case of the Athelas it could mean the difference in winning the scenario if the players can’t find enough to completely heal Wilyador.

The Ghost of Framsburg and The Ruins of Belegost are later quests where players are searching for Loot objectives and have the game go long if they’re discarded. The Ghost of Framsburg at least provides a location that can attach a Loot objective in the discard to an enemy. The Ruins of Belegost, however, Loot can only be found through the Discover X keyword. Locations with Discover have the players look at the top X cards to reveal 1 Loot Card and 1 Hazard card when it becomes the active location. If revealed any other way, they are just discarded. Guided by Fate can be a way get those Loot cards back into the deck right before the travel phase.

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 remember being very excited when I got Lost Realm for Ranger Summons and possibly getting a Ranger of the North from the encounter deck. A 2/2/2/3 ally for 1 cost seemed incredible. Playing it true solo, I learned you can’t count on it showing up particularly any time soon in a game. Guided by Fate fixes that issue for those cards and makes them much more playable. There are also a number of other use cases with encounter control cards, zero cost Dunedain allies, and quests where the players need to find certain objectives.

I rate Guided by Fate at 6 rings. All those use cases considered, they’re not universal. A more general application would be just to try recurring some less problematic encounter cards. I think, however, that the other encounter control options like Firyal, Denethor, or victory display cards would be better and more consistent at avoiding the worst the encounter deck has. Still if you’re going to run player encounter cards, this a fantastic enabler particularly for true solo players.

  • Dave – Thumbs up
  • Grant – Thumbs up
  • Ted – Thumbs up
  • Eric – Thumbs up
  • Matt – 6

A note on the podcast hosts’ ratings, when they recorded the episode on the card it was a spoiler. Fire in the Eastement had not released. They gave the card their spoiler impression thumbs up or thumbs down. It has subsequently come out, and I feel comfortable giving Guided by Fate a preliminary ring rating.

External Links

Sample Decks

Eagles and Dunedain by SchadenfreudeNE

A Dunedain and Eagles alliance featuring 2 Rangers of the North and an Eagle of the North.

Main Deck

Hero (3)
Alagos (ALeP – Fire on the Eastemnet)
Aragorn (The Lost Realm)
Faunith (ALeP – Fire on the Eastemnet)

Contract (0)
1x The Last Alliance (ALeP – Children of Eorl)

Ally (29)
2x Andrath Guardsman (The Mûmakil)
2x Chieftain of the Skies (ALeP – Fire on the Eastemnet)
2x Dúnedain Hunter (The Lost Realm)
2x Eagle Emissary (The Land of Sorrow)
3x Eagles of the Misty Mountains (Return to Mirkwood)
2x Meneldor (Roam Across Rhovanion)
2x Messenger of Manwë (ALeP – Fire on the Eastemnet)
3x Northern Bowmaster (Under the Ash Mountains)
3x Ranger of Cardolan (The Wastes of Eriador)
3x Vassal of the Windlord (The Dead Marshes)
2x Veteran Eagle (ALeP – Fire on the Eastemnet)
1x Wilyador (The Land of Sorrow)
2x Winged Guardian (The Hunt for Gollum)

Attachment (7)
3x Golden Crown (ALeP – Fire on the Eastemnet)
2x Guided by Fate (ALeP – Fire on the Eastemnet)
2x Support of the Eagles (Return to Mirkwood)

Event (14)
2x Breath of Arda (ALeP – Fire on the Eastemnet)
3x Flight of the Eagles (Roam Across Rhovanion)
3x Hidden Roosts (ALeP – Fire on the Eastemnet)
3x Ranger Summons (The Lost Realm)
3x The Eagles Are Coming! (The Hunt for Gollum)

3 Heroes, 50 Cards
Cards up to ALeP – Fire on the Eastemnet

Sideboard

Ally (6)
3x Eagle of the North (Roam Across Rhovanion)
3x Ranger of the North (The Lost Realm)

Decklist built and published on RingsDB.