Pippin (Ally)

  • Player Card Categories 
    • Attack Bonus
    • Surprise
    • Messenger of the King

The best willpower ally in Tactics.

Background

Peregrine “Pippin” Took most people know as the hobbit that sang a sad song while Denethor made a disgusting mess of a tomato. He also is Merry’s cousin, a relative of Bilbo and Frodo, and good friend of Frodo and Merry. So much so that he aided in Frodo’s plan to cover his leaving the Shire. He helped Frodo pack for his apparent move from Hobbiton to Buckland. Then accompanying Frodo on his journey to Rivendell.

At Rivendell he would join the Fellowship of the Ring. Notably he caused the commotion that lead to the Fellowship being attacked by Orcs and a Troll. This ultimately led to Gandalf’s demise by Durin’s Bane. He would also inadvertently lead to Boromir’s end. This time due to being ambushed by Orcs as Boromir attempted to defend him and Merry.

It is after being captured by the Uruk-hai that he shows his quality. He keeps his wits to leave a clue for the Three Hunters and engineer his escape with Merry. Then he and Merry manage to get the Ents to attack Isengard and stop Saruman.Pippin’s curiosity about the Palantir diverts Sauron’s attention to Gondor and Rohan as Sauron thinks Pippin has the Ring at Isengard. He rides with Gandalf to Gondor and upon arrival enters Denethor’s service in honor of Boromir’s sacrifice. This position allows him to know of Denethor’s plan to burn Faramir and himself to death and get help to rescue Faramir from the funeral pyre. Pippin also participates in the final battle at the Black Gate killing a troll that subsequently falls on him and removes him from the battle. After returning home to the Shire, Pippin would help oust Sharkey/Saruman by raising the Shire against Sharkey and his men.

Card Theme

Pippin having 2 willpower is reasonable considering he volunteered to help Frodo leave the Shire. Then despite the dangers they encountered there, again volunteered for the dangerous mission to Mordor to destroy the Ring. While he wasn’t a fighter early in the story, Pippin learned how to fight as demonstrated by his taking down a Troll at the Battle of Morannon. That his attack is predicated on attacking an enemy with higher threat is aligned with other hobbit cards to represent their sneakiness and affinity for stealth or being underestimated.

Card Synergies and Interactions

Hobbit Tribal

There are 3 in sphere cards that can work very well with ally Pippin.

Many hobbit decks tend to be tri-sphere as they have several good cards across all 4 spheres. Tom Cotton‘s resource smoothing ability makes it easier to play Pippin and gives him 2 attack the turn he enters play. The second ability synergizes very well with Raise the Shire. Raise the Shire is great to help find Pippin. In the best case scenario, the players engages a higher engagement cost enemy, finds Pippin to put him into play, attacks for 4, and then returns him to hand to play Pippin again to quest for 2 and attack again for 4. Halfling Determination can make Pippin have top tier hero level willpower or attack for a phase.

Odo Proudfoot is also useful to help find Pippin. Fast Hitch, however, is a bit of a nonbo. Pippin already readies himself when engaging an enemy with higher threat cost. Secondly, his attack is conditional and may not always have attack to make good use of the ready. Lastly, if playing a Hobbit focused deck, a player likely has a better target for this that I’ll discuss in the Messenger of the King and Sword-thain section.

Engagement Control and Threat Reduction

The game has 2 ways to help ensure Pippin’s abilities can trigger, increase the enemies’ engagement cost and reduce a player’s threat. There are only a couple cards that can increase an enemy’s engagement cost, Take No Notice and Mablung ally. Both only do so by 5 and for a single phase. This limits their usefulness significantly because 5 will not push the enemies with very low engagement of 10 – 20 above the threat of most decks. This cross-section of enemies are the ones this effect would be the most useful against and needed, but they don’t increase it enough. The only repeatable engagement cost increase is from Lore Pippin‘s ability and can’t be used with his ally version.

Threat reduction is better considering there are several more cards for it. Unfortunately, in sphere there is only Secret Vigil that at best will reduce each players threat by 4. Fortunately, hobbit focused decks have The Shirefolk that can reduce threat by 4 for free and it is neutral. Elevenses is another hobbit specific option can significantly reduce threat mid to late game when lots of hobbit allies are out. Galadriel, Fastred, and Spirit Beregond all provide repeatable threat reduction. Galadriel and Beregond won’t help lower threat below more enemies’ engagement costs, but they’ll maintain threat turn after turn that a lower threat deck can still ambush the same enemies from beginning to the end of the game.

Fellowship Contract

Pippin is a thematic fit with this card. He like any other unique character gains great state buffs. This means once flipped Pippin could quest for 3 and attack for 3 when engaging an enemy with higher engagement cost than the player’s threat. On top of that, many unique allies are on the more expensive side. Pippin at only 2 Tactics resources can get into play quick and help flip the contract.

Messenger of the King and Sword-thain

As a Messengar of the King Hero, Pippin is pure value. He becomes a 4 threat hero that often times will have 6 threat of states. Especially as he will help keep the total low. It also opens up giving him state boosting attachments like Celebrian’s Stone or Dagger of Westernesse to make him more effective either questing or attacking. Thorongil is also a great option to add his Lore version to him. Then engagement costs are always at least 1 higher for better chance of triggering his abilities and possibly drawing a card as well. On top of this, Rosie can help boost his stats further even in both phases when a Fast Hitch is attached to her. Sword-thain also opens this possibilities, but it comes with the downside that Ted always points out in the podcast. That is the player has to draw it first. Still, it is great that the card referring to Pippin swearing his service to Denethor can be used on him and is useful.

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’m very close to 1 on ally Pippin because I know how hard it is to get willpower in Tactics. I’m rating him at 2 rings. Any Tactics ally with 2 willpower is almost an auto-include in mono-Tactics. That he is 2 cost for 2 willpower putting it on par with the best questing allies usually concentrated in Spirit is fantastic. On top of that he has great abilities with the conditional readying and attack that fits right in with other hobbit cards. He is great for almost any deck running Tactics or hobbits.

I didn’t rate him a 1 ring because outside hobbits or other low threat decks he is often just a 2 cost quester. Two cost questing allies are solid cards, but they’re not a card like A Test of Will that will save the players from certain defeat, or Core Set Gandalf that are so powerful that they can turn the tide of the entire game. I also think that Forth, the Three Hunters lowered the value of willpower allies in Tactics. Tactics has more restricted attachments than the other spheres making it easy to flip the contract and get the willpower boost. Three Hunters decks can quest really well when combined with some other willpower boosting attachments and the combat power of the restricted attachments to destroy enemies reliably.

Pippin ally is still an incredibly strong fair costed card with great abilities. He’s a pretty good target for Messenger of the King and works well with the Fellowship contract. He can synergize well with other hobbit cards as both his abilities that want to engage and attack enemies with higher engagement cost. He helps Tactics with one of their major deficiencies since the Core Set. There is a lot to like about this card and has become a staple of my decks with Tactics that aren’t using Forth, the Three Hunters.

  • Dave – 5
  • Grant – TBR
  • Ted – 4
  • Matt – 2
  • Average – 3.67

External Links

Sample Decks

The Doom of Men by Dave Walsh

This is Dave’s version of a “true hobbit deck.” One where most of the allies are hobbits.

Tom Cotton for the Win!

Main Deck

Hero (3)
Bilbo Baggins (The Hunt for Gollum)
Sam Gamgee (The Black Riders)
Tom Cotton (The Mountain of Fire)

Ally (23)
2x Bill the Pony (The Black Riders)
3x Bywater Shirriff (The Fate of Wilderland)
3x Cautious Halfling (Wrath and Ruin)
1x Farmer Maggot (The Black Riders)
3x Gaffer Gamgee (Mount Gundabad)
3x Gandalf (Core Set)
2x Pippin (A Shadow in the East)
3x Rosie Cotton (The Mountain of Fire)
3x Warden of Healing (The Long Dark)

Attachment (18)
2x Dagger of Westernesse (The Black Riders)
3x Fast Hitch (The Dead Marshes)
3x Forest Snare (Core Set)
3x Friend of Friends (The Mountain of Fire)
2x Hobbit Cloak (The Black Riders)
1x Protector of Lórien (Core Set)
1x Ring Mail (The Long Dark)
1x Song of Hope (The Black Serpent)
2x Steward of Gondor (Core Set)

Event (12)
3x Daeron’s Runes (Foundations of Stone)
3x Drinking Song (Mount Gundabad)
3x Sneak Attack (Core Set)
3x The Shirefolk (Mount Gundabad)

3 Heroes, 53 Cards
Cards up to Wrath and Ruin

Decklist built and published on RingsDB.

The Doom of Men by Matt Kell aka kattattack22

A Bond of Friendship “good stuff” deck for a couple of the Vengeance of Mordor quests.

The Doom of Men

Main Deck

Hero (4)
Aragorn (The Watcher in the Water)
Beregond (The Flame of the West)
Éowyn (The Flame of the West)
Ingold (ALeP – Children of Eorl)

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

Ally (25)
1x Angbor the Fearless (The City of Ulfast)
1x Arwen Undómiel (The Watcher in the Water)
1x Beorn (Core Set)
2x Envoy of Pelargir (Heirs of Númenor)
1x Firyal (The Mûmakil)
2x Galadriel’s Handmaiden (Celebrimbor’s Secret)
2x Gandalf (Core Set)
1x Glorfindel (Flight of the Stormcaller)
1x Grimbold (The Flame of the West)
2x Honour Guard (The Wastes of Eriador)
2x Ioreth (A Storm on Cobas Haven)
1x Legolas (The Treason of Saruman)
1x Meneldor (Roam Across Rhovanion)
1x Pippin (A Shadow in the East)
1x Quickbeam (The Treason of Saruman)
1x Rhovanion Outrider (Temple of the Deceived)
1x Treebeard (The Antlered Crown)
1x Veteran of Osgiliath (Escape from Mount Gram)
2x Warden of Healing (The Long Dark)

Attachment (11)
2x Armored Destrier (Temple of the Deceived)
1x Blood of Númenor (Heirs of Númenor)
1x Favor of the Valar (The Battle of Carn Dûm)
2x Gondorian Shield (The Steward’s Fear)
2x Steward of Gondor (Core Set)
1x The Red Arrow (Beneath the Sands)
2x Unexpected Courage (Core Set)

Event (14)
2x A Good Harvest (The Steward’s Fear)
2x Daeron’s Runes (Foundations of Stone)
2x Deep Knowledge (The Voice of Isengard)
2x Legacy of Númenor (The Voice of Isengard)
2x The Galadhrim’s Greeting (Core Set)
2x The Seeing-stone (The Voice of Isengard)
2x Tighten Our Belts (The Nîn-in-Eilph)

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

Sideboard

Hero (4)
Aragorn (Core Set)
Aragorn (The Lost Realm)
Aragorn (The Fortress of Nurn)
Beregond (Heirs of Númenor)

Ally (5)
1x Errand-rider (Heirs of Númenor)
2x Mirkwood Explorer (The Thing in the Depths)
2x Ranger of Cardolan (The Wastes of Eriador)

Attachment (13)
1x Gondorian Fire (Assault on Osgiliath)
2x Hauberk of Mail (The Wilds of Rhovanion)
1x Inner Strength (Wrath and Ruin)
1x Raven-winged Helm (The Wastes of Eriador)
2x Roheryn (The Flame of the West)
2x Sword that was Broken (The Watcher in the Water)
2x Sword-thain (The Dread Realm)
1x The One Ring (A Shadow in the East)
1x Thorongil (The Fortress of Nurn)

Event (11)
2x A Test of Will (Core Set)
2x Drinking Song (Mount Gundabad)
2x Horns! Horns! Horns! (Challenge of the Wainriders)
1x Legacy of Númenor (The Voice of Isengard)
2x Need Drives Them (The City of Ulfast)
2x Sneak Attack (Core Set)

Deck built 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

Brok Ironfist

  • Player Card Categories 
    • Leaves Play
    • Messenger of the King

The Core Set’s consolation prize for losing a hero.

Background

Brok Ironfist is a FFG created character. He is presumably one of Durin’s Folk or a Longbeard Dwarf. The Longbeards are the only Dwarves introduced in The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings although there are other clans of Dwarves descended from the original 7 fathers created by Aule.

Card Theme

Brok is not a thematic card aside from being a character created for the game. His ability doesn’t match the damage for a bonus of Gloin and Glimi from the Core Set. Much less the have 5 Dwarves in play mechanic of Thorin’s Company introduced in The Hobbit expansions and mining developed in Against the Shadow and later cycles. I speculate that Brok’s ability is tangential to the damaged Dwarves get a bonus theme since if they get too damaged, you can put Brok into play for free. Especially as it seems from Veteran of Nihuadon that it was a mechanism intended to be developed for the Dwarf trait that later switched to Ents.

Card Synergies and Interactions

Leadership Dain Ironfoot

Brok with Dain in play stats 3/3/1/4 stats that are more in line with his cost. The comparison to the only other 6 cost ally, Beorn, is much closer. Then Brok is only 2 stat points lower than him. I suspect part of the reason Bork costs 6 is because of Dain. The designers have mentioned in interviews that player cards in a cycle are all developed at the same time.

Fellowship Contract

In the same vein as Leadership Dain (mining reference intended), the Fellowship contract can boost Dain’s stats to rival that of many good heroes that have 2 non-hit point stats of 3 like Glorfindel. Dwarves of likely one of the few traits in the game to have enough unique allies to fulfill the contract without including one of the other Middle Earth races. A player could even get 4 willpower and 4 attack with Leadership Dain boosting him as well.

A Very Good Tale

A Very Good Tale can be another way to put Brok into play cheaply besides his own ability. The real value is from exhausting Brok to determine how many resources worth of allies you can put into play. alone he ensures Beorn or Gandalf (Core or Over Hill and Under Hill versions) are eligible. A 2 cost ally exhausted as well then you can usually guarantee just about combination of 2 allies can enter play. Even great value can be extracted if Brok is put into play with Sneak Attack or To Me! O my Kinsfolk!

Flame of Anor

A great use of Brok is actually to not play him, but to discard him. Flame of Anor gives an Istari like Gandalf, Saruman, or Radagast +6 attack. A player could get Saruman in particular to an extremely high attack combining this play with The One Ring with Strength and Courage for +5 attack (15 attack). A War Axe, Golden Belt, and Legacy Blade with 3 completed side quests for an additional +6 (21 attack). Dunedain Marks could bring the final total all the way up to 24 attack. Setting up Brok to be discarded is not difficult with Imladris Stargazer to reorder the top 5 or Wizard Pipe to put him on top.

Messenger of the King

A player could make Bork a hero with Messenger of the King and start with him in play. If Dain is in play, he only has 1 less hit point than Thorin Oakenshield, but costs 3 less threat. Granted, you wouldn’t get a useful ability which would be the big downside. Especially considering the large number of other Dwarf hero options with very useful abilities like Balin.

Quest Specific

The first two cycles and The Hobbit Saga expansions included many encounter cards that were outright Hero killers. In the Core Set, players had to watch out for taking too much direct damage from Necromancer’s Reach and Evil Storm. Not to mention Hummerhorns dealing 5 damage to a hero when engaged or 1 damage to each character when revealed as a shadow. There are also a few shadow effects that become worse on an undefended attack that is often necessary in the early game.

The Darrowdelf cycle even more notoriously included effects that can outright discard a hero if the player(s). Not just as the when revealed effect but also in the shadow effect! A free ally with hero level stats won’t completely offset the loss, but it is still something that might let a player limp to the end of the quest.

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 Bork at 8 rings. He’s undoubtedly expensive for the stats you get unless Leadership Dain is in play. Partly it is due to core set where the cost curve was slightly higher. Later expansions lowered overall cost curve with many efficent 2 cost allies. Also he’s in Leadership and Leadership cards tend to be a little more expensive. It is the sphere with the best and most resource acceleration and as a result Leadership cards tend to be a little more expensive. Another consider I’m sure was that he was developed with Dain.

Still, he has hero level stats as many of them have a couple 2’s in willpower, attack, or defense. Only Dain, Thorin Oakenshield, and Thorin Stonehelm having a 3 stat that isn’t hit points. His ability isn’t one that you want to plan for. Especially since The Houses of Healing and Fortune or Fate both cost 5 and don’t provide much of discount to play him. It can still be a nice consolation prize if you lose a hero particularly in the late game when resources may not be needed as much. The stats to make the last questing push can be key to securing victory.

I think that Brok is consigned to being considered one of the worst cards in the game by the community for a few big reasons. First that he came out in the Core Set without Dain. This was compounded by that Dain came out in the last pack of the cycle with a huge gap of time between the Core Set and the first AP. Players had a long time to form an opinion without a major boost card. Second, the only other 6 cost card in the game is ally Beorn that comes with two major stats at 3 and more printed hit points than any player except his hero version. On top of all that, Beorn has an amazing ability that is a huge help against the biggest enemies in the core set. Lastly, the cost curve ended becoming lower with more good 2 cost allies and no more 6 cost cards.

Is Brok the worst card in the game? I don’t think so. Discarding him to Flame of Anor is a least one really good way to use him. Playing him as an ally with Dain on the table is not bad, but it is a big investment. Particularly when Dwarves are extremely well developed trait with many different ally options.

  • Dave – 10
  • Grant – 10
  • Ted – TBR?
  • Matt – 8
  • Average – 9.3

Sample Decks

Deck Tech: Dwarf Starter Deck by chrsjxn

A limited purchase Dwarf Swarm deck using cards only from the original Core Set, Return to Mirkwood, and Khazad-Dum.

Main Deck

Hero (3)
Bifur (Khazad-dûm)
Dáin Ironfoot (Return to Mirkwood)
Gimli (Core Set)

Ally (24)
1x Brok Ironfist (Core Set)
2x Daughter of the Nimrodel (Core Set)
2x Erebor Hammersmith (Core Set)
3x Erebor Record Keeper (Khazad-dûm)
2x Faramir (Core Set)
3x Gandalf (Core Set)
2x Gléowine (Core Set)
1x Henamarth Riversong (Core Set)
1x Longbeard Orc Slayer (Core Set)
2x Miner of the Iron Hills (Core Set)
3x Veteran Axehand (Core Set)
2x Veteran of Nanduhirion (Khazad-dûm)

Attachment (10)
2x Blade of Gondolin (Core Set)
1x Celebrían’s Stone (Core Set)
3x Dwarrowdelf Axe (Khazad-dûm)
2x Self Preservation (Core Set)
2x Steward of Gondor (Core Set)

Event (16)
3x Durin’s Song (Khazad-dûm)
2x Feint (Core Set)
3x Khazâd! Khazâd! (Khazad-dûm)
2x Lórien’s Wealth (Core Set)
2x Quick Strike (Core Set)
2x Sneak Attack (Core Set)
2x Valiant Sacrifice (Core Set)

3 Heroes, 50 Cards
Cards up to Khazad-dûm

Decklist built and published on RingsDB.

The Company of Brok Ironfist by Durin’s Father

A mega stat boosting deck with Leadership Dain, Fellowship contract, and The Arkenstone.

Main Deck

Hero (3)
Bifur (Khazad-dûm)
Dáin Ironfoot (Return to Mirkwood)
Thorin Oakenshield (Over Hill and Under Hill)

Contract (0)
1x Fellowship (A Shadow in the East)

Ally (16)
1x Azain Silverbeard (Flight of the Stormcaller)
1x Bofur (Over Hill and Under Hill)
1x Bombur (Road to Rivendell)
1x Brok Ironfist (Core Set)
2x Dori (Over Hill and Under Hill)
1x Dwalin (On the Doorstep)
2x Fili (Over Hill and Under Hill)
1x Gimli (The Treason of Saruman)
2x Glóin (On the Doorstep)
2x Ioreth (A Storm on Cobas Haven)
2x Kili (Over Hill and Under Hill)

Attachment (18)
1x Ancestral Armor (Roam Across Rhovanion)
2x Armor of Erebor (Mount Gundabad)
2x Armored Destrier (Temple of the Deceived)
2x Cram (Over Hill and Under Hill)
2x Dúnedain Remedy (The Drowned Ruins)
2x Hardy Leadership (Shadow and Flame)
2x King Under the Mountain (On the Doorstep)
2x Legacy of Durin (The Watcher in the Water)
2x Narvi’s Belt (Khazad-dûm)
1x The Arkenstone (The Withered Heath)

Event (16)
3x A Very Good Tale (Over Hill and Under Hill)
3x Daeron’s Runes (Foundations of Stone)
3x Durin’s Song (Khazad-dûm)
2x Lure of Moria (Road to Rivendell)
3x To me! O my kinsfolk! (On the Doorstep)
2x We Are Not Idle (Shadow and Flame)

3 Heroes, 50 Cards
Cards up to A Shadow in the East

Sideboard

Ally (2)
1x Arwen Undómiel (The Watcher in the Water)
1x Bofur (The Redhorn Gate)

Event (3)
3x Parting Gifts (A Journey to Rhosgobel)

Decklist built and published on RingsDB.

Wielders of the Three by Master of Lore

A Three Elven Rings deck full of powerful unique allies that Vilya can put into play. Narya can ready and boost them. Extra copies can fuel a big attack from Gandal with Flame of Anor.

Main Deck

Hero (3)
Elrond (Shadow and Flame)
Galadriel (Celebrimbor’s Secret)
Gandalf (The Road Darkens)

Ally (20)
2x Arwen Undómiel (The Watcher in the Water)
3x Beorn (Core Set)
2x Bilbo Baggins (The Road Darkens)
2x Brok Ironfist (Core Set)
2x Faramir (Core Set)
2x Gildor Inglorion (The Hills of Emyn Muil)
3x Master of the Forge (Shadow and Flame)
2x Treebeard (The Antlered Crown)
2x Warden of Healing (The Long Dark)

Attachment (22)
2x A Burning Brand (Conflict at the Carrock)
2x Expert Treasure-hunter (On the Doorstep)
2x Gandalf’s Staff (The Road Darkens)
2x Light of Valinor (Foundations of Stone)
2x Narya (The Grey Havens)
2x Nenya (Celebrimbor’s Secret)
2x Protector of Lórien (Core Set)
3x Unexpected Courage (Core Set)
3x Vilya (Shadow and Flame)
2x Wizard Pipe (The Road Darkens)

Event (8)
2x Elrond’s Counsel (The Watcher in the Water)
3x Flame of Anor (The Road Darkens)
2x The Galadhrim’s Greeting (Core Set)
1x Will of the West (Core Set)

3 Heroes, 50 Cards
Cards up to The Grey Havens

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.

Lore Anborn

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

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

Background

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

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

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

Card Theme

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

Card Synergies and Interactions

Traps

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

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

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

Readying

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

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

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

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

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

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

Messenger of the King

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

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

Ranger Spear

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

Quest Specific

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

Ring Rating

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

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

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

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

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

Sample Decks

Ketaroz’s Forest Masters

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

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

Main Deck

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

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

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

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

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

Deck built on RingsDB.

Bear Traps of the King by GrandSpleen

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

Main Deck

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sideboard

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

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

Decklist built and published on RingsDB.

Endless Ambush by Seastan

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

Endless Ambush

Main Deck

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

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

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

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

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

Sideboard

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

Decklist built and published on RingsDB.

Forlong

This review won’t be Forlong and drawn out.

Background

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

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

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

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

Card Theme

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

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

Card Synergies and Interactions

Outlands

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

Messenger of the King

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

Spare Hood and Cloak and Marnier’s Compass

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

Quest Specific

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

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

Ring Rating

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

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

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

Sample Decks

A Messenger for the Outlands

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

Main Deck

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sideboard

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

Decklist built and published on RingsDB.

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

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

Main Deck

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Deck built on RingsDB.

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.