Drinking Song

  • Card Talk Season 5 Episode 36
    • Video episode
    • Audio episode

It’s an extra mulligan!

Background

Tolkien’s works feature many songs. It considering that a major theme in the Lord of the Rings is joy of everyday life and simple pleasures that it would have a couple drinking songs. There is “Ho! Ho! Ho! To the Bottle I Go” that used for the flavor text. The hobbits sing it after meeting Gildor and his entourage of elves.

Ho! Ho! Ho! to the bottle I go

To heal my heart and drown my woe.

Rain may fall and wind may blow,

And many miles be still to go,

But under a tall tree I will lie,

And let the clouds go sailing by.

Fellowship of the Ring, Chapter 4: A Short Cut to Mushrooms

There is also “The Man in the Moon Stayed Up Too Late” that Frodo sings when he gets up on a table at The Prancing Pony.

There is an inn, a merry old inn

beneath an old grey hill,

And there they brew a beer so brown

That the Man in the Moon himself came down

One night to drink his fill.

Fellowship of the Ring, Chapter 9: At the Sign of the Prancing Pony

The above is an just an except as the full song is quite long.

Card Theme

Many of the cards with draw effects in the game has ties to knowledge in the game. Daeron’s Runes (a writing system), Deep Knowledge, Gandalf’s Search, Mithrandir’s Advice, etc.

Drinking Song is an interesting entry into melding this theme and mechanism. It can be argued that songs are another medium to convey knowledge. Particularly with many of the songs of the ancient heroes and deeds in Middle Earth. Drinking Songs, however, generally are not these grand epic songs. They’re silly, funny, and fun to sing while drinking impairing one’s wits. I think this is why it has a player shuffle their hand back into the deck and redraw those cards. It is represents the alcohol scrambling the knowledge in their head.

Card Synergies and Interactions

More Card Draw

The idea behind combining this card with more card draw, is it increases the number of cards you reshuffle into the deck. This synergy is best if a player truly wants an extra mulligan with this card ensure getting a key card or to really thin their deck. Peace and Thought is a really strong choice for this since it draws 5 at the cost of a single card. Erestor hero also especially on turn 1 can help maximize that new hand if played on turn 1. Deep Knowledge and Daeron’s Runes also can help incrementally increase your hand size especially if you have more than 1 or draw into multiple copies.

Love of Tales

Drinking Song and Love of Tales can create a resource acceleration engine in mono-Lore. Lore doesn’t have many resource acceleration options after the Master of Lore nerf. This particular engine for Mono-Lore takes a bit of setup to get 2 or optimally 3 Love of Tales in play. Still it is not that difficult since they’re zero cost and just need to be drawn, and fortunately Lore has many ways to draw cards. Then each play of Drinking Song, will give each hero with Love of Tales a resource. They can be recurred with Scroll of Isildur to play them 9 times in a game. Erebor Hammersmiths can increase this up to 15 times in game. That means this engine could generate up to 45 resources in a game. The entire time, the player will get to draw new hands of cards.

Council of the Wise

Council of the Wise because of its deckbuilding limitation, can be very inconsistent. The limit of 1 copy of each card in a deck works in Magic the Gathering where Elder Dragon Highlander or as it is now known, Commander is a very popular format because its card pool lots of cards with similar effects. This allows Magic decks to create consistent decks because there are dozens of cards with different names that still do the same thing. LOTR LCG doesn’t have that same depth particularly as less player cards came out in each cycle than many Magic sets. Additonally, an advantage of the LCG release model is there is little to no reprints and players don’t have to buy multiple copies of expansions except for the original core set. Drinking Song can help make Council of the Wise decks a bit more consistent. Anytime there is a bad draw or starts to stall because events aren’t being drawn, then Drinking Song can reset the player’s hand plus triggers the contract’s response.

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 Drinking Song at 4 rings. It is a good solid card that helps dig for specific cards and makes for a fun resource engine in mono-Lore. It is a very Pippin player friendly card because it help get combos set up. That said, I think it is more a role player of the zero cost card draw events. Daeron’s Runes and Deep Knowledge are easier to play since they are zero resource cost and get the player 2 new cards. Drinking Song needs a unique Hobbit in order to replace itself. The main hurdle I find to playing it usually if I have a card I want to keep, then I don’t play Drinking Song even if all the other cards in my hand aren’t helpful. If playing Lore and looking to splash in card draw Daeron’s Runes and Deep Knowledge are top of the list. Including a third card draw event after those can take up too much deck space. Even if considering more card draw, Heed the Dream is a strong contender for the similar use case as Drinking Song. Heed the Dream let’s a player search their top 5 cards for 1 in particular and their entire deck if 3 leadership resources are paid. At that point, it may come down to if unique Hobbits are being played in the deck or not.

  • Dave – 2
  • Grant – TBR
  • Ted – 2
  • Matt – 4
  • Average – 2.67

External Links

Sample Decks

Love of Drinking Song by Marcelf

Mono-Lore deck showcasing Love of Tales and Drinking Song resources acceleration.

Love of Drinking Song

Main Deck

Hero (3)
(MotK) Gléowine (Messenger of the King Allies)
Folco Boffin (The Dungeons of Cirith Gurat)
Gríma (The Voice of Isengard)

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

Ally (23)
3x Erebor Hammersmith (Core Set)
1x Firyal (The Mûmakil)
1x Gaffer Gamgee (Mount Gundabad)
2x Gandalf (Core Set)
1x Gandalf (Over Hill and Under Hill)
1x Gléowine (Core Set)
1x Henamarth Riversong (Core Set)
1x Ioreth (A Storm on Cobas Haven)
3x Isengard Messenger (The Voice of Isengard)
3x Loyal Hound (The Fate of Wilderland)
1x Mablung (The Land of Shadow)
1x Quickbeam (The Treason of Saruman)
1x Robin Smallburrow (The Drowned Ruins)
2x Steward of Orthanc (Race Across Harad)
1x Warden of Healing (The Long Dark)

Attachment (15)
3x Keys of Orthanc (The Voice of Isengard)
3x Love of Tales (The Long Dark)
3x Resourceful (The Watcher in the Water)
3x Scroll of Isildur (The Morgul Vale)
3x Sword-thain (The Dread Realm)

Event (12)
3x Bartering (The Wilds of Rhovanion)
2x Daeron’s Runes (Foundations of Stone)
3x Drinking Song (Mount Gundabad)
3x Mithrandir’s Advice (The Steward’s Fear)
1x The Houses of Healing (A Storm on Cobas Haven)

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

Decklist built and published on RingsDB.

Gleowine

  • Player Card Categories 
    • Card Draw
    • Rohan
    • Messenger of the King Heroes

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

Background / Lore

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

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

– Gleowine, The Return of the King

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

Card Theme

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

Minstrel

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

Rohan

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

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

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

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

Card Synergies and Interactions

General Deckbuilding

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

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

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

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

Messenger of the King Contract

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

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

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

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

Combos and Nonbos

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

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

Quest Specific

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

Other Considerations

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

Ring Rating

Card Talk uses the highly scientific yet arbitrary scale of 1 ring for the card to rule them all to 10 to be cast back into the fiery chasm from whence it came.

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

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

Sample Decks

Deck name and creator

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

https://ringsdb.com/decklist/view/26846/yougetacardandyougetacardandyougetacard-1.0

“Stealthlands” – jvader

https://ringsdb.com/decklist/view/18426/stealthlands-1.0

“Love of Drinking Song” – Marcelf

https://ringsdb.com/decklist/view/16418/loveofdrinkingsong-1.0

Core Gandalf

  • Player Card Categories 
    • Card Draw
    • Direct Damage
    • Threat Reduction
    • Enters Play

The most thematic Gandalf and so powerful that it’s a challenge to not include him in a deck.

Background

Gandalf is one of five Istari, Maiar emissaries in the form of old men, sent to Middle Earth by the Valar in the Third Age. They were sent to help the elves and men against Sauron. He traveled the Westlands extensively combing to know the men, elves, dwarves, and hobbits. In the books, he is the architect of the plan to burgle treasure from Smaug and eventually remove the dragon. He recruits Bilbo Baggins to be that burglar. Then it is in Lord of the Rings, Gandalf learns Biblo’s magic ring that he discovered during the adventure with Thorin’s company is The One Ring forged by Sauron. Gandalf is the one to advise Frodo to leave the Shire initiating the chain of events leading to the formation of the The Fellowship of the Ring, the ring’s destruction, and Sauron’s ultimate defeat.

Card Theme

The biggest thematic element is that Gandalf only remains in play for a round. Just like the books, Gandalf shows up, helps tremendously, and is gone again for a while. Just take The Hobbit for example, Gandalf mysteriously disappears right before Thorin’s Company is captured by trolls and reappears later to free them. He leaves them again later at the beginning of Mirkwood to deal with the Necromancer. Then rejoins the narrative after Smaug is defeated and the Dwarves, Men of Dale, and Elves of Mirkwood are having a stand off over the ownership of Erebor’s treasure.

Card Synergies and Interactions

Put into Play and Return Ally to Hand Effects

Sneak Attack + Gandalf, the core set combo that cemented Sneak Attack as a Leadership staple and delivers tremendous value. It is so good, I’ve written and Dave made a video about it before in the Core Set Combo series For the low, low cost of one Leadership resource the player can draw 3 cards, lower threat by 5, or deal 4 direct damage to an enemy. Additionally you get to use Gandalf’s 4 willpower, attack, or defense for a phase. The value is very apparent comparing the cost of card draw, threat reduction, and direct damage on other cards. For example, Galadhrim’s Greeting can reduce a single players threat by 6 for 3 cost. Sneak Attack and Gandalf can reduce threat by nearly the same amount for a third of the cost.

There are a few more cards that can let players put Gandalf into play temporarily much like Sneak Attack and get additional triggers of his enters play abilities. Horns! Horns! Horns! is arguably a Doomed version of Sneak Attack costing 2 threat instead of resource and shuffling the ally into the deck instead of returning it to hand. Still a great way to get Gandalf into play cheaply especially if using the threat reduction which then it becomes a net reduction of 3 threat and can use Gandalf for a phase. Reinforcements is a double sneak attack for decks with 3 Leadership heroes, A Good Harvest, or some other resource smoothing. Gwahir’s Debt is a little trickier since Gandalf would have to be in the top 5 cards, but still an option particularly in an Eagle deck giving it more potential uses. Lastly, Born Aloft while free, doesn’t put Gandalf into play. A player can use it on a full cost Gandalf, get to use him for nearly the entire round and then return to hand during the action window in the refresh phase.

Ally Readying

Gandalf’s limitation of being in play for 1 round often means players aren’t able to take advantage of his amazing stat line. Readying effects that target allies or characters fix that issue. The Core Set gave players using Leadership Ever Vigilant to ready a single ally and Grim Resolve to ready all characters. As the game progressed many single target and global readying effects have been added. Narya (attached to Cirdan in this case) is very powerful to use with allies that already have strong stats since it further boosts their attack and defense. Flame of Anor is limited to Istari, but can make for huge attack if a high cost card is mined from the player deck. Leadership Faramir hero like Narya offers a repeatable ally readying effect rather than rely on one time events.

Stand and Fight

Stand and Fight notoriously is not a combo or nonbo in card game parlance with Core Gandalf. The first FAQ clarified that Stand and Fight can only target allies that belong to a sphere. Neutral cards do not belong to any of the spheres and therefore Gandalf is not an eligible target.

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 Core Set Gandalf at 1. His power is very apparent with 4s across all his stats which few heroes has equal printed values in either willpower, attack, and defense and only 1 surpasses in printed attack. On top of these amazing stats, he gives players 3 fantastic choices for an enters play effect. He’s neutral which means any deck can play him without having to plan in resource smoothing. Core Set Gandalf is what Magic the Gathering players would call a bomb card. He has such a big effect on the game that it change the course of it. It is a testament to that card that veterans often talk about getting tired of putting this version of Gandalf into decks. He’s so good there’s often no reason to not include him and became seen as a crutch in deck builing to the point veterans will avoid using him.

  • Dave – 2
  • Grant – 2
  • Ted – TBR
  • Matt – 1
  • Average – 1.67

External Links

Sample Decks

Play Gandalf Every Turn by Dale Stephenson

A combo deck that uses The Elvenking + Elf-friend + Bard Son of Brand to be able to play Gandalf every turn. Basically the player plays Gandalf and attaches Elf-friend to him. Later The Elvenking can return Gandalf to the player’s hand. Bard Son of Brand’s ability returns Elf-friend to the players hand. Steward of Gondor + Arwen or Steward + Necklace of Girion supplies the 6 resources to be able to play Gandalf and Elf-friend round after round.

Main Deck

Hero (3)
Arwen Undómiel (The Dread Realm)
Bard son of Brand (The Wilds of Rhovanion)
Thranduil (Fire in the Night)

Ally (8)
1x Galion (Fire in the Night)
3x Gandalf (Core Set)
1x Henamarth Riversong (Core Set)
1x Legolas (The Treason of Saruman)
2x Marksman of Lórien (The Drowned Ruins)

Attachment (17)
2x Ancestral Armor (Roam Across Rhovanion)
1x Cloak of Lórien (Celebrimbor’s Secret)
1x Dúnedain Remedy (The Drowned Ruins)
3x Elf-friend (The Treachery of Rhudaur)
1x Mithril Shirt (The Fate of Wilderland)
1x Necklace of Girion (The Wilds of Rhovanion)
1x Self Preservation (Core Set)
2x Staff of Lebethron (The Land of Shadow)
3x Steward of Gondor (Core Set)
2x The Elvenking (Fire in the Night)

Event (25)
2x A Test of Will (Core Set)
3x Elf Guide (Mount Gundabad)
3x Elrond’s Counsel (The Watcher in the Water)
3x Elven-light (The Dread Realm)
3x Feigned Voices (The Three Trials)
3x Island Amid Perils (The Nîn-in-Eilph)
3x Reforged (The Fate of Wilderland)
3x Sneak Attack (Core Set)
2x The King’s Return (The Fate of Wilderland)

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

3 Heroes, 51 Cards
Cards up to The Fate of Wilderland

Decklist built and published on RingsDB.

Cirdan’s Solo Support Group by The Purple Wizard

This deck is designed to play Reinforcements multiple times through recycling the discard pile with Will of the West. It also features Cirdan and Narya to ready and boost the allies Reinforcements puts into play.

Main Deck

Hero (3)
Balin (On the Doorstep)
Círdan the Shipwright (The Grey Havens)
Denethor (Flight of the Stormcaller)

Ally (18)
1x Arwen Undómiel (The Watcher in the Water)
1x Beorn (Core Set)
2x Elrond (The Road Darkens)
3x Envoy of Pelargir (Heirs of Númenor)
1x Erestor (The Long Dark)
3x Galadriel (The Road Darkens)
3x Gandalf (Core Set)
1x Gimli (The Treason of Saruman)
1x Glorfindel (Flight of the Stormcaller)
1x Orophin (Celebrimbor’s Secret)
1x Squire of the Citadel (The Blood of Gondor)

Attachment (20)
2x Armored Destrier (Temple of the Deceived)
3x Dúnedain Warning (Conflict at the Carrock)
3x King Under the Mountain (On the Doorstep)
3x Light of Valinor (Foundations of Stone)
3x Narya (The Grey Havens)
3x Silver Harp (The Treachery of Rhudaur)
3x Steward of Gondor (Core Set)

Event (12)
3x A Test of Will (Core Set)
1x Captain’s Wisdom (The Thing in the Depths)
3x Reinforcements (The Treachery of Rhudaur)
3x Sneak Attack (Core Set)
2x Will of the West (Core Set)

3 Heroes, 50 Cards
Cards up to Temple of the Deceived

Sideboard

Ally (3)
1x Beorn (Core Set)
2x Squire of the Citadel (The Blood of Gondor)

Attachment (4)
1x Magic Ring (The Crossings of Poros)
2x Tome of Atanatar (The Blood of Gondor)
1x Unexpected Courage (Core Set)

Event (4)
2x Legacy of Númenor (The Voice of Isengard)
1x Second Breakfast (Conflict at the Carrock)
1x Will of the West (Core Set)

Decklist built and published on RingsDB.

Beravor

  • Player Card Categories 
    • Card Draw

A versatile hero with a incredibly useful ability. Power creep has marginalized her a little, but can still be used to great effect.

Background

Beravor is a character created by Fantasy Flight Games. She made her first appearance in Middle Earth Quest. Then FFG reused the character for LOTR LCG. Clearly she is intended to be one of Rangers of the North with the Dunedain and Ranger traits. The Rangers of the North are the descended from the people of Gondor’s sister kingdom, Arnor. Arnor split into three smaller kingdoms, Cardolan, Arthedain, and Rhudar. The people of these successor kingdoms dwindled after wars with Angmar and a plague until only scattered settlements and wandering bands remained.

There are not many Dunedain in the LOTR books besides Aragorn. Halbarad is the only other named one that in The Passing of the Grey Company arrives with 30 of his kinsmen to support Aragorn. No further details of these 30 are given and there is no one to say that Beravor was not one of them.

Card Theme

Beravor’s card draw is representative of the Lore sphere more than anything else. The Lore sphere is full of card draw effects with Gleowine, Lore Bilbo hero, Daeron’s Runes, Deep Knowledge, Erestor, Drinking Song, and Mithrandir’s Advice representing the knowledge, stories, and songs present in Middle Earth. Beravor’s knowledge as a Ranger would be of natural things like plants and animals, tracking, and how to survive in the wild. Much like the skills and knowledge demonstrated by Aragorn back when the Hobbits knew him as Strider.

Card Synergies and Interactions

Readying

Cards that can ready Beravor are great to allow a player to make use her ability and stats. Her 2/2/2 stats are also advantageous when taking multiple actions. She is equally good at questing, attacking, and defending. A general rule is a 2 cost ally with a 2 stat is considered pretty efficient. Paying 2 resources for Beravor to take an additional action is similar to paying for an efficient ally with more flexibility.

In the core set, there are a few options for readying Beravor. None unfortunately are in the Lore sphere. Unexpected in Spirit, however, is the staple hero readying card. For 2 resources, Beravor can be readied once per round which is amazing value. Many other ready a hero effects are either an event and therefore not repeatable, or come with additional restrictions and/or conditions. Leadership is the only other sphere to offer a couple readying options. Common Cause while cheap in resource cost, requires that you exhaust another hero. This generally is prohibitive to using it. Either a hero will already be exhausted or will have just as good if not better stats to use. The best use case will be a ready defending hero with no enemies to defend who then can ready Beravor. Grim Resolve is the other Leadership card which readies all characters. Usually a mass ready like this will be used to make significant questing push exhausting everyone. Then played to ready everyone for combat. It can really turn a game around, but not one to include just to use Beravor’s ability and stats.

Fortunately as the game has progressed there are a few more great readying cards added or this Dunedain Ranger.

Leather Boots and Wingfoot are in the same sphere as Beravor and cheaper than Unexpected Courage. Both are a little more limited since the ready will trigger after committing characters to the quest for both of them. Basically they’ll allow a player to use her to quest or draw cards before questing. Then maybe ready for combat or any travel effects that require exhausting a hero. Steed of the North is similar although it triggers on engagement. This is more controllable considering all the additional ways Dunedain have to force engagement like Son of Arnor, Dunedain Hunter, and Tactics Aragorn hero. Descendants of Kings much like the other readying events isn’t great for Beravor since it is not repeatable. Still Beravor is a good target among other Dunedain characters in a dedicated Dunedain deck.

Discard effects

There are several cards that give players a bonus when a card is discarded from their hand. Beravor’s card draw can help fuel these abilities. Protector of Lórien and Eowyn both could boost willpower at the cost of a discarded card and defense as well for Protector. Later cards expanded to other effects like Spirit Legolas’s readying and healing with Song of Healing. The Noldor characters in particular expanded the use of discard effects as many of their effects required discarding cards.

Dale

Beravor is often included as third hero in a Dale deck. This is because the Dale engine of playing attachments on allies is prone to stalling. Brand, Son of Bain will let players draw a card for the first attachment played on a Dale ally. Players can hit a string of allies with no attachments or attachments with no allies. More card draw helps alleviate this issue and find whichever the player currently needs.

Quest Specific

Beravor is not a good choice for many of the quests in the Ringmaker cycle. There are several card effects that trigger from the players drawing cards. there are also effects that get worse the more cards a player has in their hand.

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 Beravor at 3 rings. Repeatable card draw is powerful. Most decks need some card draw and resource acceleration to stay ahead of the encounter deck. Drawing 2 cards each turn increases a player’s options tremendously. The only downsides to Beravor are her lower stats for a hero and that the ability requires exhausting her. The second downside can be offset with readying cards. The stats aren’t bad necessarily. They were fine in the core set when 1 or 2 attack enemies were more prevalent. Power creep has marginalized her 2 defense. It still can help with the weaker surging enemies, but most quests, it will be a huge risk to defend with her. Two attack also became less useful as enemies gained more defense and hit points. The 2 willpower is fine for secondary quester since a good start usually require 6 willpower available on turn 1. It can be difficult to squeeze in a utility hero like Beravor when a quest starts off strong. It usually is a better idea to have a designated quester, attacker, and defender heroes that have the appropriate high stat.

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

Sample Decks

Back to Basics – A Killer Deck Using Cards from 1 Core Set by Xanalor

A tri-sphere core set only deck. It is only 44 cards since it was built back when the core set didn’t come with a full play set of each card. The deck description on ringsdb is quite extension highlighting many combos.

Back to Basics – A Killer Deck Using Cards from 1 Core Set

Main Deck

Hero (3)
Beravor (Core Set)
Éowyn (Core Set)
Théodred (Core Set)

Ally (21)
1x Beorn (Core Set)
2x Erebor Hammersmith (Core Set)
2x Faramir (Core Set)
3x Gandalf (Core Set)
2x Gléowine (Core Set)
3x Guard of the Citadel (Core Set)
1x Henamarth Riversong (Core Set)
2x Miner of the Iron Hills (Core Set)
2x Northern Tracker (Core Set)
3x Snowbourn Scout (Core Set)

Attachment (5)
2x Forest Snare (Core Set)
2x Steward of Gondor (Core Set)
1x Unexpected Courage (Core Set)

Event (18)
2x A Test of Will (Core Set)
1x Dwarven Tomb (Core Set)
1x For Gondor! (Core Set)
2x Hasty Stroke (Core Set)
3x Lore of Imladris (Core Set)
2x Sneak Attack (Core Set)
3x Stand and Fight (Core Set)
2x The Galadhrim’s Greeting (Core Set)
2x Will of the West (Core Set)

3 Heroes, 44 Cards
Cards up to Core Set

Sideboard

Event (1)
1x Will of the West (Core Set)

Decklist built and published on RingsDB.

Minimum Purchase Dale Deck by Darkling Door

Dale deck built with cards just from Wilds of Rhovanion and the Core Set.

Main Deck

Hero (3)
Bard son of Brand (The Wilds of Rhovanion)
Beravor (Core Set)
Brand son of Bain (The Wilds of Rhovanion)

Ally (20)
3x Gandalf (Core Set)
2x Gléowine (Core Set)
1x Henamarth Riversong (Core Set)
3x Long Lake Trader (The Wilds of Rhovanion)
3x North Realm Lookout (The Wilds of Rhovanion)
3x Redwater Sentry (The Wilds of Rhovanion)
2x Snowbourn Scout (Core Set)
3x Warrior of Dale (The Wilds of Rhovanion)

Attachment (16)
3x Bow of Yew (The Wilds of Rhovanion)
1x Celebrían’s Stone (Core Set)
3x Hauberk of Mail (The Wilds of Rhovanion)
3x King of Dale (The Wilds of Rhovanion)
3x Map of Rhovanion (The Wilds of Rhovanion)
2x Necklace of Girion (The Wilds of Rhovanion)
1x Unexpected Courage (Core Set)

Event (14)
2x A Test of Will (Core Set)
3x Bartering (The Wilds of Rhovanion)
2x Hasty Stroke (Core Set)
3x To Arms! (The Wilds of Rhovanion)
3x Traffic from Dale (The Wilds of Rhovanion)
1x Will of the West (Core Set)

3 Heroes, 50 Cards
Cards up to The Wilds of Rhovanion

Decklist built and published on RingsDB.

Three Wolf Hunters for Wastes of Eriador by kattattack22

A Dunedain Three Hunters deck built for the first couple of scenarios in the Angmar Awakened cycle.

Main Deck

Hero (3)
Aragorn (The Lost Realm)
Beravor (Core Set)
Halbarad (The Lost Realm)

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

Attachment (41)
3x A Burning Brand (Conflict at the Carrock)
3x Armored Destrier (Temple of the Deceived)
2x Celebrían’s Stone (Core Set)
3x Dúnedain Warning (Conflict at the Carrock)
3x Expert Treasure-hunter (On the Doorstep)
2x Favor of the Valar (The Battle of Carn Dûm)
3x Golden Belt (Challenge of the Wainriders)
3x Gondorian Shield (The Steward’s Fear)
3x Ranger Spear (The City of Corsairs)
2x Roheryn (The Flame of the West)
3x Steed of the North (Race Across Harad)
3x Strider (The Drowned Ruins)
3x Sword of Númenor (The Dread Realm)
2x Sword that was Broken (The Watcher in the Water)
3x War Axe (The City of Ulfast)

Event (9)
3x Daeron’s Runes (Foundations of Stone)
3x Deep Knowledge (The Voice of Isengard)
3x Feint (Core Set)

3 Heroes, 50 Cards
Cards up to Challenge of the Wainriders

Decklist built and published on RingsDB.

Stone of Elostirion

Guarded (location). Restricted.

Attach to a hero. Attached hero gets +2  [willpower].

You draw 1 additional card during the resource phase.

Stone of Elostirion is the latest of the player Guarded X attachments introduced in Ered Mithren cycle and only one of two released in Vengeance of Mordor. I think there is a strong case that it is the most playable of the Guarded X attachments with a lot of appeal to variety of players. The Guarded (location) mechanism provides Pippin players some opportunities to exploit location control combos with this card. Those combos provide means to basically negate the effects of adding another location. The automatic extra card per turn combined with a willpower boost is a powerful combination that a Boromir player can appreciate. While Bilbo players can enjoy the deep dive into Middle Earth stemming from the card’s background to theme.

Background

The Stone of Elostirion as indicated by the card art, is one of the palantiri. It was a rather unique one at that considering it was not linked to the others. Instead, it only looked West to Varda. It resided in one of three towers at the aptly named Tower Hills that was part of the former nation of Arnor. It was still there during the stated timeframe of the game between The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings as it left Middle Earth with the ringbearers. Gildor Ingolorian when he meet Frodo and company in Fellowship of the Ring, reportedly was returning from a visit to the stone with his company of elves. Although, this is not specifically mentioned within the text of their meeting.

Card Theme

The mechanics of this card fit right into the its background from the books. It being guarded by a location is perfect considering wandering companies of Elves would travel to the Tower Hills just to see it. Their hope to see Elbereth as Gildor and his company sing of is inspiring to them represented by the willpower boost of +2.

Palantir

The other thematic element to this card is the potential knowledge one can gain from through the different palantiri. Generally, knowledge in the game is represented by card draw. This is consistent with the other Palantir player cards (except for the Saga boon). The Palantir attachment allows players to exhaust it to possibly draw cards. The Seeing Stone is very targeted card draw for a card with Doomed. One noticeable difference between these two and Stone of Elostirion is the others come at the cost of direct threat gain. Stone of Elostirion could cause threat gain from questing unsuccessfully, but it doesn’t instantly raise threat for its card draw effect. This fits since it was not linked to the other palantiri . The Stone then didn’t carry the risk of Sauron spying or influencing people through the palantir in his possession.

Thematic Deckbuilding Ideas

  • Leadership or Lore Gildor Inglorion
    • He is the one that actually visited the Stone.
    • The Stone is in sphere with his ally version
    • Either version has location control options to help play Stone more easily (see Card Syngeries and Interactions section)
  • Frodo Baggins (Leadership hero especially)
    • Represents the Frodo leading his friends through the Shire evading the Black Riders
    • In sphere with Marnier’s Compass
  • Sam
  • Merry
  • Pippin
  • Wandering Exile
    • Many bands of elves traveled Eriador in the Third Age were called wandering companies.
    • Gildor calls his company of elves exiles in his meeting with Frodo.
  • Other non-unique Noldor allies
    • Gildor and his wandering companies of elves are identified by Frodo as high elves, but only Gildor is referenced by name.

Card Synergies and Interactions

Discard Location Effects

Guarded X cards come under a player’s control as soon as they’re “free of encounters” This means that players cards that discard the guarding location in play are generally the fastest and easiest way to get The Stone of Elostirion. Marnier’s Compass chief among them considering it only requires a leadership or scout character, it is repeatable, and can be done with the location in the staging area. Distant Stars, Short Cut, and Heirs of Eärendil all work as well, but the required character traits are not as broad. Distant Stars and Short Cut also require you can travel to the guarding location.

Direct Location Progress

Another way to accelerate getting Stone of Elostirion under your control is placing progress without having to quest. Cards like Asfaloth, Northern Tracker, Spirit Aragorn Hero, Mirkwood Explorer, Arod that can place progress on locations in the staging area are generally better. Many quests have locations that limit this method. There are others that place progress on the active location that still can help clear the guarding location faster, such as, Tactics Legolas Hero, Lórien Guide, and Steed of Imladris.

Automatic Card Draw

There are three heroes in the game that also have draw additional card(s) effects like the Stone, Lore Bilbo hero, Erestor hero, and Círdan the Shipwright. They will have the player draw 7 cards (and discard 1) each resource phase. Once the stone is out it can get up to 8 cards. This set up with the Perilous Voyage Contract a player could potentially draw the entire 100 card deck in 12-13 turns.

Quest Specific

Temple of the Deceived is the ideal scenario to play this card. All the locations are placed out as a map and there are none in the encounter deck. Once the Stone is played, the player fails to find any locations and gain control of it immediately.

Ring Ratings

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 Stone of Elostirion at 3 rings. It has 2 pretty powerful and widely useful effects on it. An additional card per turn means more options for what a player can do on their turn. The 2 willpower stat boost isn’t as exciting as the card draw, but it is a great value. Allies with 2 willpower at 2 cost are efficient for sending to the quest. The Stone only costs 1 resource and gives the same amount of additional willpower.

The other cost in adding a location to the staging area, is significant. This can be bypassed, mitigated, or even negated if build for it as mentioned in the card synergies section. Many of those cards are even in the same sphere as the Stone. Those location control cards do take up valuable deck space, but without them then when you play the card is key. Usually once the player deck is established and gaining ground in the mid to late game. Then it is in danger of becoming a “win more” card because you may not really need the willpower and card draw. It is that point in the game, however, when that extra card could be more valuable in keeping a deck from stalling out.

The quest being played will make it more or less playable as well. Many later quests prevent or limit location control strategies or have terrible locations that be extremely difficult to deal with. Besides Temple of the Deceived there will be others with locations that are not much of an issue to deal with. Others like Dungeons of Cirith Gurat encourage “voltron” builds that focus on building up the heroes with attachments. Stone of Elostirion is one of few player cards options with a +2 willpower boost and help boost the deck’s questing capability.

That all said, Stone of Elostirion is certainly powerful but has drawbacks to match. This is why a 3 seems appropriate. It will get considered for every deck I build with Lore because of its 2 widely useful effects. It may not make the final list because it can be tricky to play, don’t have the deck space for some location control, or the quest has troublesome locations. If I rated purely on power or how playable it is, I could see giving it a 4 or 5 rating. It gets an extra boost from me for interactions with location control and the theme. This card added more details to the meeting of Gildor and the Hobbits in Fellowship of the Ring for me. Prior to this review, I thought this was the Palantir Saruman had and was mistaken in that. This game continues to expand my knowledge and relationship to the stories of Middle Earth. I appreciate this card more as a result.

  • Dave – 3
  • Grant – 3
  • Ted – 4
  • Matt – 3
  • Average – 3.25

External Links

Sample Decks

Guarded-o-rama by Card Talk Dave

A Forth the Three Hunters deck with Tactics Bilbo, Leadership Eomer, and Tactics Eoywn focusing on getting Guarded cards to be free of encounter cards.

Main Deck

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

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

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

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

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

Scout’s Honor by Uruk-Guy

Scout themed multiplayer support deck with many direct location progress effects.

Main Deck

Hero (3)
(MotK) Haleth (Messenger of the King Allies)
Aragorn (The Fortress of Nurn)
Legolas (The Sands of Harad)

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

Ally (14)
2x Dunedain Pathfinder (Race Across Harad)
2x Firyal (The Mûmakil)
2x Forest Road Traveler (Fire in the Night)
1x Haleth (The Fortress of Nurn)
2x Mirkwood Explorer (The Thing in the Depths)
2x North Realm Lookout (The Wilds of Rhovanion)
2x Rhovanion Outrider (Temple of the Deceived)
1x Súlien (The City of Corsairs)

Attachment (31)
3x Ancient Mathom (A Journey to Rhosgobel)
2x Dúnedain Pipe (The Black Serpent)
3x Elf-stone (The Black Riders)
2x Leather Boots (Fire in the Night)
2x Light of Valinor (Foundations of Stone)
2x Map of Rhovanion (The Wilds of Rhovanion)
2x Mirkwood Long-knife (The Sands of Harad)
1x Mithril Shirt (The Fate of Wilderland)
2x Necklace of Girion (The Wilds of Rhovanion)
2x Ring of Barahir (The Steward’s Fear)
1x Silver Circlet (Wrath and Ruin)
1x Silver Harp (The Treachery of Rhudaur)
1x Stone of Elostirion (Under the Ash Mountains)
1x Thorongil (The Fortress of Nurn)
2x Unexpected Courage (Core Set)
1x Warden of Arnor (The Three Trials)
3x Woodmen’s Clearing (The Withered Heath)

Event (11)
3x A Test of Will (Core Set)
2x Desperate Defense (The Flame of the West)
3x Elven-light (The Dread Realm)
2x Scouting Party (Temple of the Deceived)
1x The Galadhrim’s Greeting (Core Set)

3 Heroes, 56 Cards
Cards up to The Fortress of Nurn

Sideboard

Ally (3)
1x Mirkwood Runner (Return to Mirkwood)
1x Rider of Rohan (Beneath the Sands)
1x Warden of Healing (The Long Dark)

Attachment (2)
1x Protector of Lórien (Core Set)
1x Silver Circlet (Wrath and Ruin)