Dunedain Hunter

  • Player Card Categories
    • Encounter Control
    • Enters Play
    • Engagement Control

A great way to kick start the Dunedain engagement bonuses.

Background

Dunedain Hunter is one of the 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. Dunedain Hunters gives the game another way to represent members of the Grey Company.

Card Theme

The card’s mechanism here to get a free ally for engaging an enemy is pretty reflective of the Rangers during the Watchful Peace. During that time they fought many minor battles with orcs and goblins to keep the lands of Eriador safe. This to the people of Bree it just appeared that the Rangers were just wandering East and South telling tales of older times. In reality they were going where there was trouble. Also it fits with how Aragorn comes to join Frodo, Sam, Merry, and Pippin in Bree. He only shows up when the enemies are near joins them to guide and protect them on their journey to Rivendell.

Card Synergies and Interactions

Engagement Bonus Dunedain

These are the cards Dunedain Hunter was designed to facilitate. Dunedain Hunter’s cost of putting an enemy into pay transforms into an immediate benefit with these cards in play. Amarthuil can immediately gain his Tactics sphere during planning and be halfway to generating an additional resource a turn. Halbarad can quest without exhausting. Any Dunedain or Noldor hero with Star Brooch, Warden of Annuminas, Fornost Bowman, and Guardian of Arnor all get a stat boost. Sarn Ford Sentry, Heir of Valandil, and Descendants of Kings provide more utility centered abilities for that enemy engagement with card draw, cost reduction, and readying.

Vengeance of Mordor also gave the Dunedain engagement bonus archetype a couple of other allies. These it is more a restriction but one could argue the bonus for engaging an enemy is a cost reduction. Normally allies with 2 willpower in Spirit and 2 attack in Tactics cost at least 2 resources. These only cost 1 which is helpful considering Dunedain are spread out among the 4 spheres. Dunedian Hunter helps makes these playable on the first turn.

Mablung Hero

Mablung hero also can be considered an engagement bonus effect. Dunedain Hunter is one of the few ways to trigger his resource acceleration twice in a turn since it is limit once per phase.

Hobbits Engage an Enemy with Higher Engagement than a Player’s Threat

Similar to Duendain, Hobbits can get bonuses for engaging enemies although there is another condition to it. They have to engage an enemy with higher engagement cost than their threat to get the bonus. Still it can be worthwhile to search the 5 encounter cards for the right enemy to engage. Also getting the bonus during planning is advantageous when playing Tom Cotton, Odo Proudfoot, and/or Raise the Shire. This can ensure that the first Hobbit ally doesn’t need a resource match and Odo or Raise the Shire can find one to play in a subsequent round. Raise the Shire during planning also opens up finding a questing ally for the round like Bywater Shirriff that will also get additional willpower for having the enemy around.

Traps

Normally the downside to Forest Snare is a player has to defend an attack from the enemy first. Dunedain Hunter provides another way besides Son or Arnor to attach it to an enemy without defending first. It’s truly an advantage since Dunedain Hunter is putting an additional encounter card into play than normally would be. This really equates to a cost reduction for Dunedain Hunter. Dunedain Hunter most likely would be 4 resource cost considering he has the exact same stats as Legolas ally. Legolas is also unique but he has an amazing ability that the Hunter doesn’t so it still balances out. The cost reduction can be even more with Damrod hero since the first trap played each turn costs 1 less and a player will draw a new card for attaching a trap.

The trap that is best played with the hunter is Followed. Followed can reduce staging area threat by the threat of the attached enemy but player’s are at the mercy of the encounter deck revealing a high treat enemy once it is out. Unless a player waits until they see one and can maintain a low threat to choose. Dunedain Hunter can give the players more control and options for this trap since it is a choice from the top 5 of the encounter deck. Best of all it goes right to being engaged with the player avoiding any possible engagement mishaps in a multiplayer game. Outmatched can also be used in conjunction especially if the player pulls out a weak enemy (especially with surge) they want to just keep engaged turn after turn.

Attack Cancellation

Feint, Thicket of Spears, and The Wizard’s Voice are solid alternatives to deal with the enemy put into play by Dunedain Hunter. This is because if played early, an additional enemy can be too much for a deck to handle. Canceling the attack avoids the situation where the hunter might have to chump to the enemy it brought in. It also lets the player bring that 3 attack to bear and hopefully get rid of that enemy right away.

Quest Specific

One of the best things about Dunedain Hunter’s cost is that it puts the enemy into play. This doesn’t reveal the enemy which means When Revealed effects and Surge do not trigger. In quests with many weaker surging enemies like The Seventh Level it can be very handy to pull out one. Many of the Angmar Awakened quests feature the Cursed Dead that when revealed return all Cursed Dead from the encounter discard pile to play.

The risk of the hunter’s cost, however, is twofold.

  1. Not finding an enemy
  2. Finding a very strong enemy

The first one can be mitigated by looking at the enemy breakdown in a quest. A couple notable quests that are light on enemies are Hills of Emyn Muil and We Must Away ‘Ere Break of Day. Hills of Emyn Muil was the game’s early location focused quest. We Must Away ‘Ere Break of Day is Thorin’s Company fight with 3 Trolls and there are only a couple weak crow enemies to detract from that fight.

The other possibility can find examples through each cycle. Shadows of Mirkwood has Hill Trolls, Marsh Adder, Hummerhorns, Chieftain Ufthak, and Attercop that players would rather not see if at all possible. Darrowdelf has very tough Cave Trolls. Heirs of Numenor has Umbar Assassins and Zealous Traitors that can wreak board states with direct damage. Dream-Chaser has Ship enemies with Boarding that puts more enemies into play engaged. Haradrim had various Southron enemies that either remove progress or negative effects when engaged. Ered Mithren brought back high attack tough trolls not to mention dangerous werewolves. Vengeance of Mordor putting an enemy in play often just gives the treachery attachments targets to be buffed.

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 Dunedain Hunter at 8. It is a gamble to play. Sometimes it is less of a gamble if the enemies in the quest are not that tough, or if played later in the game. When defense is well established, getting a zero cost ally with 3 attack is nice and powerful. Typically I want to play him early and get the Dunedain bonuses rolling. The trouble is that Dunedain lack a strong early defender. Amarthuil, Halbarad, or even Lore Aragorn can get there with Dunedain Warnings, Ancestral Armor, or Blood of Nuemenor. It is much more manageable with a good early defender like Beregond or traps that can negate whatever enemy that comes out. Even attack cancellation can be enough to get rid of the enemy and the player enjoy the 3 attack going forward.

All of these considerations on how and when best to play the hunter is why it is so low. It is not a simple card to play needs at least some support if a player wants to use it early. If used mid to late game when a player is stabilized, it can easily become win more or too much and push a game towards a loss. Then it has to compete with Fornost Bowman. Fornost Bowman’s attack can become much higher than Dunedain Hunter’s 3. The bowman also has ranged making it a very good multiplayer ally. Hunter works better solo since getting and keeping 2 enemies engaged can be tough outside a Trap deck, but an extra enemy early in true solo is also difficult to manage. I like what the card can do for the Dunedain archetype. It is difficult to play at the right time and use well.

  • Dave – 7
  • Grant – TBR
  • Ted – 4
  • Matt – 8
  • Average – 6.33

External Links

Sample Decks

Legolas Shoots Locations by kattattack22

Mono Tactics deck for Heirs of Numenor and Against the Shadow cycle. I tweaked the deck as I played through the cycle and through the various iterations it beat every quest. It definitely settled into a final form by Encounter at Amon Din.

Legolas Shoots Locations aka Mono Tactics v4

Main Deck

Hero (3)
Beregond (Heirs of Númenor)
Éowyn (The Flame of the West)
Legolas (Core Set)

Ally (24)
2x Beechbone (The Battle of Carn Dûm)
2x Bofur (Over Hill and Under Hill)
3x Defender of Rammas (Heirs of Númenor)
3x Derndingle Warrior (Escape from Mount Gram)
3x Dúnedain Hunter (The Lost Realm)
3x Eagles of the Misty Mountains (Return to Mirkwood)
2x Gandalf (Core Set)
3x Honour Guard (The Wastes of Eriador)
3x Knights of the Swan (The Steward’s Fear)

Attachment (17)
2x Arod (The Treason of Saruman)
3x Dagger of Westernesse (The Black Riders)
3x Favor of the Valar (The Battle of Carn Dûm)
3x Gondorian Shield (The Steward’s Fear)
3x Rivendell Blade (Road to Rivendell)
3x Secret Vigil (The Lost Realm)

Event (9)
3x Feint (Core Set)
3x Foe-hammer (Over Hill and Under Hill)
3x Hands Upon the Bow (Shadow and Flame)

3 Heroes, 50 Cards
Cards up to The Flame of the West

Sideboard

Hero (1)
Aragorn (The Lost Realm)

Ally (10)
1x Gandalf (Core Set)
3x Grimbold (The Flame of the West)
3x Legolas (The Treason of Saruman)
3x Vassal of the Windlord (The Dead Marshes)

Attachment (5)
3x Dwarven Axe (Core Set)
2x Horn of Gondor (Core Set)

Event (9)
3x Sterner than Steel (The Flame of the West)
3x The Eagles Are Coming! (The Hunt for Gollum)
3x Thicket of Spears (Core Set)

Decklist built and published on RingsDB.

Palantir – Community Review

by Erik Miller

  • Player Card Categories 
    • Card Draw
    • Encounter Scrying
    • Encounter Control
    • Burglar Treasure

Background

It’s a big shiny ball that men, Hobbits, and corrupt wizards like to stare into. Too bad only Nobles can use it in the game.

Card Theme

The theme is spot on. Look into the future, and you may be rewarded …. or cursed.

Card Synergies and Interactions

Grey Wanderer, Risk Some Light, Lore Denethor, Needful to Know, Celduin Traveler, Ithilien Lookout, Far Sighted

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 Palantir got a lot easier to use with the Grey Wander contract (although it can still to be fun to use with low starting threat heroes), making its value increase since it first came out. With the contract, your threat starts low, you can start with the Palantir in play, and you can ready after using the Palantir. There are also secrecy cards that let you peek at the top cards of the encounter deck when in secrecy. This makes your hit rate with the Palantir increase. With three players, you know exactly what cards you will be getting. In solo, you can set yourself up for multiple rounds. And, even if you don’t know what’s coming the fun of guessing the card type and revealing could (maybe) make up for any threat increase you end up taking.

  • Erik – 4
  • Ian Martin – 5
  • Dave – 7
  • Grant – 7
  • Ted – TBR
  • Matt – 6
  • Average – 5.8

CON LGrn – To Scry or not to Scry by Erik Miller

Grey Wanderer Denethor with a few different ways to scry and control the encounter deck.

CON LGrn – To Scry or not to Scry

Main Deck

Hero (1)
Denethor (Core Set)

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

Ally (20)
3x Celduin Traveler (The Nîn-in-Eilph)
2x Firyal (The Mûmakil)
2x Gandalf (Core Set)
1x Gléowine (Core Set)
1x Haldir of Lórien (A Journey to Rhosgobel)
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 Treebeard (The Antlered Crown)
2x Wandering Ent (Celebrimbor’s Secret)

Attachment (8)
1x Dark Knowledge (Core Set)
1x Gondorian Shield (The Steward’s Fear)
1x Palantir (Assault on Osgiliath)
3x Resourceful (The Watcher in the Water)
2x Unexpected Courage (Core Set)

Event (19)
3x Far-sighted (Challenge of the Wainriders)
2x Gildor’s Counsel (The Hills of Emyn Muil)
3x Needful to Know (The Redhorn Gate)
3x Risk Some Light (Shadow and Flame)
2x Shadow of the Past (Return to Mirkwood)
1x Swift and Silent (The Dunland Trap)
2x The Galadhrim’s Greeting (Core Set)
3x Timely Aid (The Redhorn Gate)

Player Side Quest (3)
1x Double Back (Escape from Mount Gram)
1x Gather Information (The Lost Realm)
1x Scout Ahead (The Wastes of Eriador)

1 Hero, 50 Cards
Cards up to Challenge of the Wainriders

Sideboard

Ally (11)
2x Anfalas Herdsman (The Steward’s Fear)
3x Ethir Swordsman (The Steward’s Fear)
1x Ithilien Tracker (Heirs of Númenor)
1x Robin Smallburrow (The Drowned Ruins)
3x Silvan Refugee (The Drúadan Forest)
1x Treebeard (The Antlered Crown)

Attachment (2)
1x Elf-stone (The Black Riders)
1x Strider (The Drowned Ruins)

Event (13)
3x Daeron’s Runes (Foundations of Stone)
3x Drinking Song (Mount Gundabad)
1x Gildor’s Counsel (The Hills of Emyn Muil)
3x Out of the Wild (Road to Rivendell)
1x Shadow of the Past (Return to Mirkwood)
2x The Hidden Way (The Withered Heath)

Deck built on RingsDB.

Eleanor

Extra treachery cancelation hero that shines in multiplayer.

Background

Eleanor is a FFG created character with the Gondor and Noble traits. If the traits weren’t enough of a clue, her art shows her wearing a diadem. It even looks reminiscent of the Aragorn’s crown in Peter Jackson’s Return of the King.

Card Theme

Eleanor’s ability to cancel a treachery and reveal a new encounter card doesn’t match the abilities of most Gondorian heroes. Heirs of Numenor really started to establish the Gondor trait being linked to resources and resource acceleration with Leadership Borormir giving an attack bonus when he has a resource in his pool and Tactics Beregond discounting Armor and Weapon attachments. Other Gondor cards expanded on this theme with more resource acceleration like Wealth of Gondor, Mablung hero, Captain’s Wisdom and Leadership Denethor

.

Eleanor’s ability is similar to Lore Denethor‘s ability to look at the top card of the encounter deck and either put it on the top or bottom. There weren’t any more Gondor themed encounter control cards until the Gondorian Rangers and Traps in Against the Shadow and then it was limited to Lore. Eleanor’s ability is more aligned with the Spirit sphere’s encounter cancellation cards like A Test of Will and Hasty Stroke. I think this is largely a result of the initial design not being as centered around traits as what eventually developed in larger expansions.

Card Synergies and Interactions

Defense Bonus

Defense is Eleanor’s only stat besides hit points greater than 1. At 2, it is sufficient for the Core Set scenarios where many enemies have 2 attack and there is even 1 attack enemies. Gondorian Shield since it gives +2 defense to Gondorian heroes turns her into a decent defender. Blood of Numenor is a solid option in the Spirit sphere and works well with all the resource acceleration options for a Gondor deck. Eleanor’s low threat of 7 also makes it possible to pair it with Resourceful. Still even with these significant defense boosts, Eleanor’s 3 hit points keeps her from being a great primary defender.

Readying

Readying is good if a player wants to use Eleanor as a defender in addition to her ability. Unexpected Courage, of course is the quintessential readying card. Miruvor also is a decent option to ready Eleanor after using her ability. It can even add a resource to Eleanor for use with Blood of Numenor.

More Encounter Control

Eleanor can become an adequate defender, but it is really her ability that is most useful considering how much build up she needs. Utilizing it alongside more encounter control, can shut down the worst the encounter has to offer. This strategy is usually limited to multiplayer since it leaves little room in a deck for cards to aid in questing and combat. In Spirit, there’s A Test of Will and Hasty Stroke. A Watchful Peace can also control the encounters by recurring an innocuous locations. Lore, however, will need to be added for more direct encounter manipulation and cancelation. Lore Denethor, Risk Some Light, Out of the Wild, and Scout Ahead can either move or outright remove the worst cards from the encounter deck. Lore also has Leave No Trace and None Return like Out of the Wild that can add cards to the victory display but only after dealing with them at least once. This, however, opens the possibility of canceling another copy of that encounter card with The Door is Closed!

Quest Specific

Eleanor can be useful in many quests considering all of them have treacheries. The first two cycles more so than later cycles. Shadows of Mirkwood included many that dealt direct damage to heroes and allies that could lay waste to a players board state. Massing at Night in multiplayer especially at 3 and 4 players can be overwhelming. Roasted Slowly and Gollum’s Bite are outright hero killers.

The Darrowdelf 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.

These cancel or lose type treacheries are part of why the first few cycles can be very “swingy” for new players. If you don’t see them in your game, the scenario can seem very easy. If you get one or two at the wrong time, it can be very difficult if they don’t end the game outright.

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 Eleanor at 6 rings. I think she’s dropped off in importance as the card pool has grown and scenario design moved away from treacheries having such a large effects. In the first couple of cycles, I would have rated her a 3 especially in multiplayer. She doesn’t do a lot for a player turn to turn without significant investment in building her up. She’s got it covered, however, when you really need to cancel Massing at Night or Crumbling Ruins. The more players you add, the more likely that a treachery will show up to wreck havoc on the players. Later cycles treacheries are less prevalent and the effects are more manageable. Part of that is just having more options in deckbuilding. More allies have more than 1 hit point to absorb direct damage. Threat reduction options expanded even beyond Spirit. Lore encounter control options have grown in number. There are even more ways to return heroes to play.

  • Dave – 6
  • Grant – 5
  • Ted – TBR
  • Matt – 6
  • Average – 5.33

External Links

Sample Decks

The Nope Deck by Qwaz

This deck is entirely devoted to controlling the encounter deck. Eleanor cancels treacheries, Balin cancels shadows, and Damrod helps trap enemies. On top of that, victory display cards remove the nastier encounters.

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 Thrór’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 Thrór’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.

Fellowship Frodo Baggins (TBR) – Community Review

by Owen Watson

  • Player Card Categories 
    • Encounter Control

Background

Black Rider’s Frodo is really thematic in my eyes. Exhausting the One Ring symbolizes putting it on and vanishing from usually an enemy and then running away and finding himself someplace different, like a location.

Card Theme

Throughout the books and movies Frodo (against Gandalf’s strict warnings) has used the ring to escape deadly situations and flee the servants of Mordor. For me, this card represents his heroic escapes and him fleeing from one situation and falling into another.

Card Synergies and Interactions

This card combo’s really well with other Hobbit heroes for a few reasons. Reason number one is that Frodo has 0 threat, meaning with a few Hobbits (who, besides a few exceptions, are the lowest threat heroes in the game) you can have easy access to Resourceful (which can be brought in for cheap due to the Secrecy Keyword and help provide Frodo with resources for him to use for his ability, as well as to pay for Neutral and Fellowship sphere cards. Another reason for Hobbits is that Frodo’s Intuition is in-sphere for Frodo. For a cheap total of 2 resources, you can give each hero +1 Willpower AND draw 1 card for each hobbit hero you control, thus drawing you as much cards as you have Hobbit heroes. Throughout the whole Saga campaign, the only quests that seem to not work so great with Frodo are the ones that have cards in them that have negative effects if the One Ring is exhausted (ex. Morgul Wraith). For the most part, considering Frodo can only be used in LotR Saga quests, his ability is great and has little to no negative effects.

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 strongly believe that this deserves a 3 rating and is the best Fellowship/Saga hero in the game. Let me explain why it is (Black Riders) Frodo Baggins.

First, stats: 2 willpower is pretty good for a Hobbit hero, so no complaints there. This version of Frodo will be questing almost every time so his 1 attack and 2 defense don’t really matter unless he has some way of readying. 2 HP is a bit on the lower side, so it’s usually a good idea to have strategies in place to cancel direct damage effects or simply by giving him attachments that boost his HP.
Lets talk about his sphere. He is one of the 7 (8 counting ALeP Scouring of the Shire) Fellowhsip sphere heroes. Unfortunately, belonging to that sphere means he can’t be used outside of LotR Saga quests, but on the plus side you get access to all of the Fellowship cards which for the most part are really helpful with willpower.

Now let’s talk about what makes him so great. His ability. By spending one resource and exhausting the One Ring, you can choose and CANCEL the effects of a card revealed from the encounter deck. You heard that right. CANCEL! If you reveal a tough enemy you can’t deal with until your deck is set up, no problem, simply trigger his response and shuffle the card away. One too many locations? Nasty treachery and no Test of Will? He can solve them all. There is a couple of downsides to his ability however. The first and most obvious one is that you have to shuffle the card back into the Encounter deck and reveal another card. Imagine if the encounter deck is almost empty, the odds of drawing the same card again would be pretty good. Another thing to point out is that you could draw a worse card then the one you just canceled which could screw you over. And finally, throughout the Saga quests there are cards that have effects which are very nasty if the one ring is exhausted, and because you need to exhaust the One Ring to use Frodo’s ability, you are running the risk of having something nasty trigger. This is why, in my opinion, Frodo is one of the best cards in the game.

  • Owen – 3
  • Dave – TBR
  • Grant – TBR
  • Ted – TBR
  • Matt – TBR

Sample Decks

Three is Company

Main Deck

Hero (5)
Fatty Bolger (The Black Riders)
Frodo Baggins (The Black Riders)
Merry (The Black Riders)
Pippin (The Black Riders)
Sam Gamgee (The Black Riders)

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

Ally (16)
1x Barliman Butterbur (The Black Riders)
1x Bilbo Baggins (The Road Darkens)
2x Bill the Pony (The Black Riders)
2x Bywater Shirriff (The Fate of Wilderland)
1x Farmer Maggot (The Black Riders)
2x Gaffer Gamgee (Mount Gundabad)
2x Gandalf (Core Set)
2x Odo Proudfoot (Under the Ash Mountains)
1x Robin Smallburrow (The Drowned Ruins)
2x Rosie Cotton (The Mountain of Fire)

Attachment (13)
2x Ancient Mathom (A Journey to Rhosgobel)
2x Dagger of Westernesse (The Black Riders)
2x Fast Hitch (The Dead Marshes)
2x Hobbit Cloak (The Black Riders)
2x Red Book of Westmarch (The Land of Sorrow)
1x Spare Pipe (The Land of Sorrow)
2x Unexpected Courage (Core Set)

Event (19)
2x A Good Harvest (The Steward’s Fear)
2x A Test of Will (Core Set)
2x Drinking Song (Mount Gundabad)
1x Feint (Core Set)
2x Frodo’s Intuition (The Black Riders)
2x Halfling Determination (The Black Riders)
2x In the Shadows (The Land of Shadow)
2x Raise the Shire (The Mountain of Fire)
2x Sneak Attack (Core Set)
2x The Shirefolk (Mount Gundabad)

Player Side Quest (2)
1x Gather Information (The Lost Realm)
1x The Storm Comes (The Sands of Harad)

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

Decklist built and published on RingsDB.

The Hobbit Bond of Friendship For July Solo League

Main Deck

Hero (5)
Frodo Baggins (The Black Riders)
Merry (The Wastes of Eriador)
Pippin (The Black Riders)
Sam Gamgee (The Black Riders)
Tom Cotton (The Mountain of Fire)

Ally (18)
1x Barliman Butterbur (The Black Riders)
1x Bilbo Baggins (The Road Darkens)
1x Bill the Pony (The Black Riders)
2x Bywater Shirriff (The Fate of Wilderland)
2x Cautious Halfling (Wrath and Ruin)
1x Farmer Maggot (The Black Riders)
2x Gaffer Gamgee (Mount Gundabad)
2x Gandalf (Core Set)
1x Halfast Gamgee (The Crossings of Poros)
2x Halfling Bounder (The Sands of Harad)
1x Odo Proudfoot (Under the Ash Mountains)
1x Robin Smallburrow (The Drowned Ruins)
1x Rosie Cotton (The Mountain of Fire)

Attachment (7)
2x Hobbit Cloak (The Black Riders)
1x Hobbit Pipe (The Black Riders)
2x Hobbit Pony (The Wastes of Eriador)
1x Ring Mail (The Long Dark)
1x Sword that was Broken (The Watcher in the Water)

Event (22)
2x A Good Harvest (The Steward’s Fear)
2x A Test of Will (Core Set)
2x Drinking Song (Mount Gundabad)
2x Feint (Core Set)
2x Frodo’s Intuition (The Black Riders)
2x Halfling Determination (The Black Riders)
2x Raise the Shire (The Mountain of Fire)
2x Sneak Attack (Core Set)
2x The Galadhrim’s Greeting (Core Set)
2x The Shirefolk (Mount Gundabad)
2x Tighten Our Belts (The Nîn-in-Eilph)

Player Side Quest (3)
1x Gather Information (The Lost Realm)
1x Rally the West (The Black Serpent)
1x The Storm Comes (The Sands of Harad)

5 Heroes, 50 Cards
Cards up to Under the Ash Mountains

Decklist built and published on RingsDB.

Firyal – Community Review

by Daniel King

  • Player Card Categories 
    • Encounter Control
    • Encounter Scrying
    • Messenger of the King

Background

Firyal was created as means of fleshing out the Harad characters. In the book/movie they are the bad guys, but there is a line from Sam where he wonders if the Harad man that he just saw slain was really a bad guy or if he would have rather stayed home. We get a string of Harad heroes for the game and I love that.

Card Theme

Firyal is meant to be an efficient scout and quester, which her ability emphasizes.

Card Synergies and Interactions

Player Encounter Cards

She can potentially combo with player cards that generate encounter cards like Tom Bombadillo! and Flight of the Eagles.

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.

Firyal is the best lore hero in the game. As a primarily solo player I find her ability to filter the top of the deck to be incredibly useful. In solo play you have to do everything on your own. You have to be able to quest, defend and attack on any given turn. Firyal allows you to get rid of something that you can’t handle that turn. If you have an enemy still engaged with you from the previous round, you might use Firyal’s ability to get rid of an enemy from the top of the deck in hopes of seeing a location. She can also help you get rid of those impossibly difficult treacheries if you don’t have a test of will in hand or want to save it. Finally, because she is a unique ally, she is a great target for the contract, Messenger of the King. Having her amazing ability and 3 will power from turn one is a great deal for 9 threat.

  • Daniel- 2
  • Dave – 3
  • Grant – 3
  • Ted – 2
  • Mark Chan – 3
  • Matt – 2
  • Average – 2.5

Sample Decks

Firyal is pretty good by Daniel King

Well rounded deck featuring Firyal as a hero with a fair amount of location control.

Main Deck

Hero (3)
(MotK) Firyal (Messenger of the King Allies)
Beregond (The Flame of the West)
Glorfindel (Foundations of Stone)

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

Ally (21)
2x Arwen Undómiel (The Watcher in the Water)
1x Elfhelm (The Dead Marshes)
3x Erebor Toymaker (Mount Gundabad)
1x Firyal (The Mûmakil)
2x Gléowine (Core Set)
2x Henamarth Riversong (Core Set)
2x Northern Tracker (Core Set)
2x Quickbeam (The Treason of Saruman)
2x Théodwyn (ALeP – Children of Eorl)
2x Treebeard (The Antlered Crown)
2x Warden of Healing (The Long Dark)

Attachment (21)
2x A Burning Brand (Conflict at the Carrock)
3x Ancient Mathom (A Journey to Rhosgobel)
2x Asfaloth (Foundations of Stone)
2x Blood of Númenor (Heirs of Númenor)
3x Light of Valinor (Foundations of Stone)
3x Protector of Lórien (Core Set)
2x Song of Wisdom (Conflict at the Carrock)
3x Unexpected Courage (Core Set)
1x Warden of Arnor (The Three Trials)

Event (8)
3x A Test of Will (Core Set)
3x Elven-light (The Dread Realm)
2x Hasty Stroke (Core Set)

3 Heroes, 50 Cards
Cards up to ALeP – Children of Eorl

Deck built on RingsDB.

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.

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.