Blade of Gondolin

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

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

Background

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

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

Card Theme

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

Card Synergies and Interactions

Card combos

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

Location control decks

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

Dale Armory deck

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

Quest Specific

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

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

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

Ring Rating

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

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

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

External Links

Sample Decks

Location, Location, Location by Durin’s Father

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

Main Deck

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

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

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

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

3 Heroes, 55 Cards
Cards up to The Grey Havens

Decklist built and published on RingsDB.

Meneldor

  • Player Card Categories 
    • Location Control
    • Enters Play
    • Leaves Play
    • Messenger of the King

Background

Meneldor is one of the Eagles of the Misty Mountains that are descended from Thorondor. Thorondor was the leader of the servants of Manwe, the Great Eagles in the First and Second Ages. More specifically, Meneldor is one of the three eagles to fly to Mount Doom to rescue Sam and Frodo after the Battle of the Morannon.

“Side by side they lay; and down swept Gwaihir, and down came Landroval and Meneldor the swift; and in a dream, not knowing what fate had befallen them, the wanderers were lifted up and borne far away out of the darkness and the fire.” –The Return of the King, Chapter 4: The Field of Cormallen

Meneldor along with Gwaihir and Landroval are the only named eagles in The Lord of the Rings trilogy.

Card Theme

Knowing that Meneldor was one of the Eagles to rescue Sam and Frodo, it would seem like his card should have an effect to return an ally or hero to play or at least back to hand for an ally. The problem is there are already eagle cards with those effects.

Meneldor’s Flight in fact already references Meneldor and has an effect that can “rescue” an Eagle ally from play. Landroval and Born Aloft represent are more thematic to those three as they can rescue any hero or ally. The of course to complete the trio, Gwaihir ally can also return an Eagle ally from the discard pile. The rescue theme then is well covered.

The earlier mention of Meneldor in the same chapter then seems to be the inspiration for the location progress mechanism:

“‘The North Wind blows, but we shall outfly it,’ said Gwaihir. And he lifted up Gandalf and sped away south, and with him went Landroval, and Meneldor young and swift. And they passed over Udûn and Gorgoroth and saw all the land in ruin and tumult beneath them, and before them Mount Doom blazing, pouring out its fire.” –The Return of the King, Chapter 4: The Field of Cormallen

This isn’t the first time that the Eagle’s ability to quickly traverse Middle-Earth is demonstrated. In the Hobbit, they also carried Thorin’s Company from the Misty Mountains to The Carrock. Progress in the game is intended to represent the characters traveling and exploring Middle Earth. It is still very fitting then to have one of the Eagles represent their ability to swiftly travel across Middle-Earth. Meneldor who is called out as swift in the passage is fitting then to have ability to place progress directly on a location.

Card Synergies and Interactions

Put into Play and Return Ally to Hand

Sneak Attack from the core set covers both effects and rightfully is the staple card to bounce allies with enter and/or leave play effects. Sneak Attack + Meneldor will place 4 progress on a location making it the location control version of Sneak Attack + Gandalf. Alternatively, Horns! Horns! Horns! can also make both triggers happen but then Meneldor is shuffled into the deck. Gwaihir’s Debt is another way to trigger both effects that is limited to Eagles or Istari. The requirement to have an Istari and Eagle in play can be a little restrictive unless using hero Radagast, Gandalf, or Saruman. It’s also not as consistent since it is from the top 5 of the deck. Horns! Horns! Horns! shuffling a copy back into your deck could even help set up Gwaihir’s Debt later especially late game when the deck is thinner.

Meneldor’s Flight, Born Aloft, Flight of the Eagles, and much like the core set Sneak Attack let you get extra triggers on the Eagles enter and leave play effects. Discard recursion effects like Gwaihir ally, Stand and Fight, and To the Eyrie are even better at getting to double up on Meneldor’s response considering he can chump block first.

Effects that Trigger off Leave Play

There are a number of cards that also combo with bouncing Meneldor in and out of play. Gwaihir hero and Leadership Prince Imrahil heroes both get to ready when he leaves play. Gwaihir can also ready when he enters play that can make him ready for combat if Meneldor is Sneak Attacked into play after Gwaihir is committed to the quest. Tactics Eomer can get a nice attack boost. Valiant Sacrifice can provide some additional card draw and is in the same sphere with Sneak Attack and Horns! Horns! Horns! to help set it up. Pre-errata Horn of Gondor could provide a resource for bouncing Meneldor since it triggered off a character leaving play. The errata making when a character is destroyed still provides some benefit, but no longer combos with the return ally to hand effects.

Eagles of the Misty Mountains

In order to reliably utilize all the bouncing effects, you will likely want to run more than a single copy of Meneldor. This means there’s a good chance with him being a unique the second or third copy could be a dead draw. The Eagles of the Misty Mountains allow the extra copies to be useful once the first one is attached to bolster the Eagle of the Misty Mountains.

Direct Location Progress

In sphere, Tactics Legolas Hero and his mighty steed Arod can build on this part of Meneldor’s effect. Especially if you include many of the previously mentioned cards to bounce him in and out of play. There’s also the Beorning Guardian, but the effect can only be triggered after he destroys an enemy. On top of that the progress is conditional on the enemy’s threat, and you have to discard him. It’s a little too conditional with a fairly high cost of 3 resource ally with a hero level attack stat of 3.

Spirit does have many options with Northern Tracker, Spirit Aragorn Hero, Lórien Guide, Steed of Imladris, Woodland Courier, and Backtrack. Woodland Courier in particular has some synergy with the put into play and return ally to hand effects as it places progress when it enters play. Lore also has many cards with this effect, such as, Mirkwood Explorer, The Evening Star, and Asfaloth. Leadership, unfortunately, only has Snowbourne Scout and Longbeard Elder. While the Snowbourne Scout also benefits from Sneak Attack and similar cards, it is usually not worth the cost. At 3 cost, he is a little pricey to include in a dual sphere deck with more direct location progress effects.

Guarded X Cards

Meneldor can help free any of the Guarded X cards that are guarded by a location. He can likely do so in a single turn if combined with a bounce effect as many locations have 4 quest points or less.1 Unfortunately, the two Tactics ones, Sting and Durin’s Axe can only be guarded by enemies. The good news is there are neutral ones. Necklace of Girion in particular is helpful in an Eagle focused deck for the willpower boosting and resource acceleration. Stone of Elostirion as one of the two that has to be guarded by a location Meneldor can help get into play. It also is in sphere with hero Radagast that is often played with Eagles since his staff provides strong resource acceleration and readying for eagle allies.

Quest Specific

Hills of Emyn Muil is notorious for being the first location focused quest. Location lock is really the only threat in the quest and any way to place progress on locations in the staging area is a good idea. The Antlered Crown’s locations all have Time X with effects that trigger if they’re not explored in 2 or 3 turns.

The Haradrim cycle featured many locations that have forced effects when they become the active location. Among others with costly Travel effects. The Mumakil Although there are some counters to direct location progress like Gates of Iron that prevents progress being put on locations in the staging area.

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 Meneldor at 3 rings. I really do think of him as the location control equivalent of Sneak Attack + Gandalf. Few cards can drop 4 progress on a location at one time like that. Besides Sneak Attack, there are quite a few ways to bounce him in and out of play to get the effect. The 3 cost isn’t the easiest if you have pay full cost each time but in a deck with Radagast and his staff, Steward of Gondor, or Hirgon it is very reasonable.

Then there are his stats. Two willpower in Tactics is very good for that sphere. He’s an auto-include in mono-Tactics that wants to do any questing. The two attack is nice too, but I often find that I wish it was lower to give him more willpower or hit points. Speaking of hit points, two is always good to see on ally. It gives just a little bit of margin to take direct damage effects like Necromancer’s Reach or Archery.

If there is any complaint that I have about the card, it is that he’s unique. When playing him without any return ally to hand effects, you won’t trigger his effect more than once a game usually. His willpower is just too good to chump block with him just for another 2 progress. That is until you draw another copy or have an Eagles of the Misty Mountains in play. Even then, it may not be worth it in opportunity cost since he costs 3 resources.

Overall, he’s a great card. The willpower and location control effects were still needed in Tactics even in the full card pool. It was needed even more so for Eagles that are fantastic at combat but had little to no questing power for the longest time. Lastly, he’s just fun to play when you can bounce him in and out of play to clear some troublesome locations.

  • Dave – 3
  • Grant – 3
  • Ted – 2
  • Matt – 3
  • Average – 2.75

Footnotes

  1. I sampled approximately 140 locations from Shadows of Mirkwood, Darrowdelf, Ered Mithren, and Vengence of Mordor cycles found the average to be slightly less than 4 quest points. Also 4 quest points was the most common.

External Links

Sample Decks

Slippery… Eagles? by Card Talk Dave

Dave takes his expertise in bouncing Silvans in and out of play and applies it to an Eagle deck.

Main Deck

Hero (3)
Éomer (The Voice of Isengard)
Frodo Baggins (A Shadow in the East)
Gwaihir (The Land of Sorrow)

Ally (18)
3x Descendant of Thorondor (The Hills of Emyn Muil)
3x Eagle Emissary (The Land of Sorrow)
3x Eagles of the Misty Mountains (Return to Mirkwood)
2x Meneldor (Roam Across Rhovanion)
2x Radagast (A Journey to Rhosgobel)
3x Vassal of the Windlord (The Dead Marshes)
2x Wilyador (The Land of Sorrow)

Attachment (18)
2x Gúthwinë (The Mountain of Fire)
2x Necklace of Girion (The Wilds of Rhovanion)
2x Rod of the Steward (Flight of the Stormcaller)
2x Rohan Warhorse (The Voice of Isengard)
3x Secret Vigil (The Lost Realm)
3x Steward of Gondor (Core Set)
1x Strength and Courage (The City of Ulfast)
2x Support of the Eagles (Return to Mirkwood)
1x The One Ring (A Shadow in the East)

Event (15)
3x Flight of the Eagles (Roam Across Rhovanion)
3x Meneldor’s Flight (The Hills of Emyn Muil)
3x Sneak Attack (Core Set)
3x The Eagles Are Coming! (The Hunt for Gollum)
3x Valiant Sacrifice (Core Set)

3 Heroes, 51 Cards
Cards up to The Land of Sorrow

Sideboard

Ally (3)
3x Eagle of the North (Roam Across Rhovanion)

Decklist built and published on RingsDB.

#justiceforBilbo by Pirate Brahm

Main Deck

Hero (3)
(MotK) Bilbo Baggins (Messenger of the King Allies)
Gandalf (The Road Darkens)
Radagast (The Fate of Wilderland)

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

Ally (23)
2x Arwen Undómiel (The Watcher in the Water)
3x Erebor Toymaker (Mount Gundabad)
2x Giant Bear (Fire in the Night)
3x Loyal Hound (The Fate of Wilderland)
2x Meneldor (Roam Across Rhovanion)
3x Messenger Raven (The Fate of Wilderland)
3x The Riddermark’s Finest (The Hills of Emyn Muil)
2x Vassal of the Windlord (The Dead Marshes)
3x Wild Stallion (Roam Across Rhovanion)

Attachment (19)
2x A Burning Brand (Conflict at the Carrock)
3x Expert Treasure-hunter (On the Doorstep)
2x Gandalf’s Staff (The Road Darkens)
1x Narya (The Grey Havens)
3x Radagast’s Staff (The Fate of Wilderland)
2x Shadowfax (The Treason of Saruman)
1x Silver Circlet (Wrath and Ruin)
2x Unexpected Courage (Core Set)
3x Wizard Pipe (The Road Darkens)

Event (18)
3x A Test of Will (Core Set)
3x Daeron’s Runes (Foundations of Stone)
3x Drinking Song (Mount Gundabad)
3x Flame of Anor (The Road Darkens)
3x Hidden Cache (The Morgul Vale)
2x The Galadhrim’s Greeting (Core Set)
1x Will of the West (Core Set)

3 Heroes, 60 Cards
Cards up to Messenger of the King Allies

Sideboard

Ally (4)
2x Ghân-buri-Ghân (The Flame of the West)
2x Warden of Healing (The Long Dark)

Attachment (2)
2x Steward of Gondor (Core Set)

Event (6)
3x Bulwark of the West (The Crossings of Poros)
3x Word of Command (The Long Dark)

Decklist built and published on RingsDB.