Leadership Aragorn

A powerful versatile hero just like he is in the books.

Background

Aragorn, son of Arathorn, AKA Strider is the direct descendent of the kings of Gondor and Arnor. He was the chieftain of the northern remnants of Arnor, the Dunedain. Elrond fostered him at Rivendell after his father was killed by orcs. After he turned 21 and learned of his heirtage, Aragorn travel far and wide in Middle Earth assisting both Rohan and Gondor against Sauron.

He is first introduced in The Lord of the Rings at The Prancing Pony. He soon become the Hobbits guide to Rivendell after Gandalf’s letter to Frodo identifies him as a friend. He joins the Fellowship at Rivendell offering to his life to help Frodo destroy The One Ring. After the breaking of the Fellowship, he tracks the Uruk-Hai to Rohan. There he aided in the defense of Rohan against Saruman. Then braving the Paths of the Dead enlist the dead oath breakers, he defeated the corsairs at Pelargir to brings the reinforcements that turned the tide at the Battle of the Pelennor Fields. He leads to the forces of Gondor and Rohan to The Black Gate to distract Sauron that Frodo can destroy The Ring of Power. After The Ring’s destruction, he becomes King of Gondor and marries Arwen Undomiel.

Card Theme

Aragorn is a highly skilled individual with decades of experience navigating the wilds of Middle Earth and countering Sauron’s forces. Questing in this game is often intended to represent the characters traversing Middle Earth. Aragorn being able to contribute to those travels while being ready to fight if needed is very thematic to those same skills and experience as a Ranger.

Card Synergies and Interactions

Resource Acceleration

Any card that can add resources to Aragorn enables using his ability consistently. The Core Set gave players two in sphere options to combo with Aragorn, Steward of Gondor and Theodred. The Aragorn and Theodread combo Card Talk highlighted previously in our Core Set Combo series. Later cycles introduced many other options particularly among Leadership events. Arwen hero and Zigil Miner are chief among the out of sphere options as they are also repeatable like Theodred and Steward. Additional resources on Aragorn are also a great idea if you’re using any of his toys as well.

Aragorn’s Toys

These cards are all attachments that can give other characters an ability or bonus, but they give Aragorn an additional bonus. Typically the additional bonus is another resource icon. Celebrian’s Stone was the first of these coming in the Core Set making Aragorn’s willpower equal to that of the best questing heroes. This makes his built-in action advantage from questing more valuable. It is easier to forgo 2 willpower to use his 3 attack or 2 defense in combat than 4 willpower. The added Spirit icon is also helpful for playing the only toy that isn’t in sphere, Ring of Barahir.

The Ring of Barahir is generally considered the least interesting since it only adds hit points that scales with the number of artifacts. The full card pool has many Artifacts now with the Guarded attachments like Stone of Elostirion and Orcrist. Aragorn doesn’t benefit much from having may hit points like Gloin and Gimli that have damage taken based abilities.

Sword That Was Broken gives any hero the Leadership icon but on Aragorn it is one of the best global willpower boosts available. It can be especially helpful in Dunedain decks since the Dunedain characters tend to have low willpower.

Roheryn is a powerful attachment since it allows Aragorn to attack before the enemy gets a chance to. If Aragorn has enough attack power to kill the enemy, then it effectively cancels the attack. It combos well with Gondorian Fire that can give Aragorn bonus attack for each resource in his resource pool. The One Ring with Strength and Courage can also provide a huge attack boost considering Aragorn’s printed 3 attack power. Firefoot‘s ability to place excess damage on another enemy can kill another engaged enemy before it can attack as well.

Rivendell Bow doesn’t give a resource icon. It is worth noting because it specifically mentions it can be attached to Aragorn besides just Noldor and Silvans.

Thorongil

Thorongil allows any Aragorn to gain the resource icon and abilities of the other versions of Aragorn. This can be used tactically to bring in threat control, additional combat, power, or location control as needed. The Leadership and Spirt versions in particular pair well. The Leadership version’s readying let’s a player double up on questing. Aragorn can contribute his willpower once to quest and again to reduce staging are threat.

Defense Boosts

Aragorn has the Sentinel trait to be able to defend for other players in multiplayer and a large pool of hit points at 5. His printed defense of 2 is not enough to be a dedicated defender in many quests, but Leadership has a few of the best defensive attachments in sphere. Aragorn between his toys and Thorongil has many additional ways to gain resource icons not available to most other heroes. He can turn into a defensive wall with the ability to cancel shadows if built up with Dunedain Warnings, Ancestral Armor, Armored Destrier, and/or Burning Brand. Blood of Numenor is also a strong option since resource acceleration is a good idea to use his readying ability.

Grey Wanderer

Aragorn’s built-in readying and attachments that can give him all 4 sphere icons makes him a great Grey Wanderer hero. His ability let’s him quest without using the contract’s setup ability to get Strider even if it is a very thematic choice. Resourceful can provide resource acceleration cheaply to fuel his readying. Timely Aid and A Very Good Tale are both in sphere to help muster allies and make up for not having 3 heroes worth of stats. A Gondorian Fire and Blood of Numenor build benefits greatly from the contract’s readying and resource acceleration. Lastly, he can use Roheryn more reliably because the low starting threat of a single hero keeps most enemies from automatically engaging.

Quest Specific

Aragorn’s built-in readying can be used to benefit besides just combat. Many quests have encounter car effects that exhaust a character either as a when revealed or shadow effect. This goes all the way back even to the core set. Caught in a Web is the most notorious example since it makes you pay 2 resources to ready the attached hero during the refresh phase. You can play around this condition attachment by making sure to only quest with Aragorn and readying him after. You can do the same in Darrowdelf to avoid the negative effects of Watchful Eyes.

Aside from the encounter deck trying impede your ability to quest, attack, or defend, there are many other times the quest will require you exhaust a hero. Sometimes it is simply to claim an unguarded objective. Many other times it is required for a test to represent the heroes attempting to do something outside the normal questing. Shadow of Mirkwood introduced this idea with Escape tests in The Dead Marshes and Return to Mirkwood. These tests have to commit character’s willpower to exceed escape value on the encounter cards. The Lord of the Rings Saga had similar Hide tests in A Shadow of the Past. A variation that was based solely on number of characters exhausted rather than willpower used in the Dream-Chaser cycle and Mount Doom scenario for Sailing and Fortitude test, respectively.

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 Leadership Aragorn at 3 rings. That is only because I think he’s the 3rd best version of Aragorn. I think the Lore and Tactics versions offer more to players than this one. If playing another version of Aragorn, this one is top of the list to add its sphere and abilities it via Thorongil.

That said, he offers built-in action advantage for a very reasonable cost of one resource. In the sphere that is best known for resource acceleration. On top of that most of his “toys” are in Leadership. It’s possible to get him every sphere in the game via his own attachments plus some great bonuses and a strong ability. Undeniably a powerful and useful hero.

  • Dave – 2
  • Grant – 2
  • Ted – TBR
  • Matt – 3
  • Average 2.33

Sample Decks

Codus’ Roheryn’s Fire

A deck focused on using Gondorian Fire and Roheryn to kill enemies as soon as they’re optionally engaged. Arwen and Erestor provide resource acceleration and card draw to help get the combo going quickly.

Main Deck

Hero (3)
Aragorn (Core Set)
Arwen Undómiel (The Dread Realm)
Erestor (The Treachery of Rhudaur)

Ally (20)
3x Envoy of Pelargir (Heirs of Númenor)
3x Errand-rider (Heirs of Númenor)
3x Ethir Swordsman (The Steward’s Fear)
3x Galadhrim Weaver (The Treachery of Rhudaur)
3x Galadriel’s Handmaiden (Celebrimbor’s Secret)
1x Mablung (The Land of Shadow)
1x Quickbeam (The Treason of Saruman)
3x Warden of Healing (The Long Dark)

Attachment (16)
3x Gondorian Fire (Assault on Osgiliath)
3x Roheryn (The Flame of the West)
2x Song of Battle (The Dead Marshes)
2x Steed of Imladris (Across the Ettenmoors)
3x Steward of Gondor (Core Set)
3x Sword of Númenor (The Dread Realm)

Event (14)
3x Daeron’s Runes (Foundations of Stone)
3x Elrond’s Counsel (The Watcher in the Water)
3x Elven-light (The Dread Realm)
2x Gaining Strength (The Steward’s Fear)
3x Heed the Dream (Flight of the Stormcaller)

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

Sideboard

Event (3)
3x Tale of Tinúviel (The Dread Realm)

Decklist built and published on RingsDB.

Unexpected Courage

  • Player Card Categories 
    • Readying

The quintessential readying card.

Background

This card takes inspiration from Bilbo luring the spiders in Mirkwood away from the captured members of Thorin’s Company based on the flavor text. Bilbo started off afraid.

Suddenly he saw, too, that there were spiders huge and horrible sitting in the branches above him, and ring or no ring he trembled with fear lest they should discover him.

The Hobbit, Chapter 8: Flies and Spiders

He soon finds the courage to antagonize the spiders and get them to chase him.

Bilbo saw that the moment had come when he must do something. He could not get up at the brutes and he had nothing to shoot with; but looking about he saw that in this place there were many stones lying in what appeared to be a now dry little watercourse. Bilbo was a pretty fair shot with a stone, and it did not take him long to find a nice smooth egg-shaped one that fitted his hand cosily

The Hobbit, Chapter 8: Flies and Spiders

After getting their attention, he taunts and teases the spiders to lure them away. Then he is able to circle back to free the Dwarves. The art encompasses the Dwarves battling the spiders after Bilbo rescues them. It is from here on out that Bilbo takes a more active role in the story and no longer is just the gentle Hobbit of the Shire.

Card Theme

It is fitting then that the card allows for extra uses of hero. It fits really well for representing the extra reservoir of courage they didn’t know they had.

Card Synergies and Interactions

Strong Stat Heroes

The most obvious synergy is with heroes with multiple strong stats. Unexpected Courage let’s them use those stats in multiple phases of the game as appropriate. Gwaihir in particular benefits additionally from having another way to ready besides playing an Eagle ally.

Heroes with Exhaust Abilities

Some heroes like Beravor, Denethor, and Eleanor from the Core set have an ability that requires you exhaust them to use. Most like Beravor are limited to once per phase or round. Still Unexpected Courage on let’s you their stats for questing, attacking, or defending as well as their ability. There are also a few where an attachment can give a hero an exhaust ability like the Palantir or the Elven rings.

Vengeance of Mordor increased the number of heroes this is good for with the Messenger of the King contract.

Leadership Faramir ally is an excellent example where having easier access to readying helps since his ability is not limited. Messenger of the King limits the readying of the ally turned hero to once per phase, but still triggering an additional willpower per questing character twice can be a huge boost. Especially as repeatable ally readying typically requires multiple cards to pull off.

Ted is fond of saying with powerful cards like Unexpected Courage, the downside is you have to draw it. Card draw and search effects can help you find it sooner. In Spirit, Ancient Mathom, Elven-light, and Cirdan for card draw. Imladris Stargazer and Long Lake Fisher offer some in sphere card search options. Lore offers even more of both with Daeron’s Runes, Deep Knowledge, Master of the Forge, Heed the Dream, and more. There are even a couple neutral cards that can help like core set Gandalf, Gather Information, and Steward of Orthanc.

A round about way available Spirit is to utilize the Dwarf mining effects. Zigil Miner, Spirit Dain, Erebor Guard can fill your discard pile with several cards a round. This combined with attachment recursion very prevalent in Spirit functions like card draw/search. Dwarven Tomb, Reforged, Erebor Hammersmith, and Second Breakfast can get Unexpected Courage into your hard or play from the discard pile.

Quest Specific

Many quests have encounter car effects that exhaust a character either as a when revealed or shadow effect. This goes all the way back even to the core set. Caught in a Web is the most notorious example since it makes you pay 2 resources to ready the attached hero during the refresh phase. Unexpected Courage let’s you play around this condition attachment by giving you a way to ready. Similarly in Darrowdelf you can use Unexpected Courage to avoid the negative effects of Watchful Eyes.

Aside from the encounter deck trying impede your ability to quest, attack, or defend, there are many other times the quest will require you exhaust a hero. Sometimes it is simply to claim an unguarded objective. Many other times it is required for a test to represent the heroes attempting to do something outside the normal questing. Shadow of Mirkwood introduced this idea with Escape tests in The Dead Marshes and Return to Mirkwood. These tests have to commit character’s willpower to exceed escape value on the encounter cards. Unexpected Courage on a high willpower hero like Eowyn can help tremendously to pass these tests. The Lord of the Rings Saga had similar Hide tests in A Shadow of the Past. A variation that was based solely on number of characters exhausted rather than willpower used in the Dream-Chaser cycle and Mount Doom scenario for Sailing and Fortitude test, respectively.

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 Unexpected Courage at 1. It is the kind of basic yet amazing card that needed to be in the core set to keep it relevant through the entire life of the game. Heroes tend to have better stats than allies and getting 2 or better willpower, attack, or defense typically is going to cost the same or more than Unexpected Courage’s 2 resources. That’s not even considering heroes that have abilities that are activated by exhausting them. Scenarios that feature encounter card effects that exhaust heroes or have test in them gives it even more utility. Forth, The Three Hunters and Grey Wanderer contracts only made action advantage even more valuable.

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

Sample Decks

Bilbo Super Quester

Basic idea was to use Galadriel’s, Theoden’s, and the contract’s willpower boosting to turn Bilbo into super quester especially with his ability on top.

Main Deck

Hero (3)
Bilbo Baggins (Mount Gundabad)
Galadriel (Celebrimbor’s Secret)
Théoden (The Morgul Vale)

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

Attachment (44)
3x Expert Treasure-hunter (On the Doorstep)
3x Golden Belt (Challenge of the Wainriders)
3x Golden Shield (The Flame of the West)
3x Gondorian Shield (The Steward’s Fear)
3x Herugrim (The Treason of Saruman)
2x Hobbit Pony (The Wastes of Eriador)
1x Magic Ring (The Crossings of Poros)
3x Mirror of Galadriel (Celebrimbor’s Secret)
3x Nenya (Celebrimbor’s Secret)
1x Ring Mail (The Long Dark)
3x Round Shield (Mount Gundabad)
3x Silver Circlet (Wrath and Ruin)
2x Silver Harp (The Treachery of Rhudaur)
2x Snowmane (The Land of Shadow)
3x Song of Travel (The Hills of Emyn Muil)
3x Unexpected Courage (Core Set)
3x War Axe (The City of Ulfast)

Event (6)
3x A Test of Will (Core Set)
3x Open the Armory (The Dungeons of Cirith Gurat)

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

Sideboard

Attachment (9)
3x Fast Hitch (The Dead Marshes)
3x Song of Wisdom (Conflict at the Carrock)
3x Warrior Sword (The Ghost of Framsburg)

Decklist built and published on RingsDB.

Fast Hitch

A card so nice, they reviewed it twice (at least).

TL;DR It’s a Hobbit staple.

Background

Hobbit stats are rubbish: to begin with. There is no doubt whatever, about that. If you’re of the persuasion the first statement would read better with the word “stats” omitted, then you are probably off to find a better use of your time. Unless you’re getting into extended fan-created content (ALEP: The Last Alliance Contract) from here on, the following discussion is clearly in the context of Hobbitish application.

Card Theme

The source material for Fast Hitch comes from Sam and Frodo’s journey through the Emyn Muil. Our beloved podcast hosts appreciated this context the first time around, but a veil of forgetfulness had passed over all of them by the second time they discussed this card. Please reference The Two Towers: Chapter 1. The Taming of Smeagol to delight yourself with the fullest quotation.

After the elven rope gifted to Sam by Galadriel comes loose:

Sam did not laugh. “I may not be much good at climbing, Mr. Frodo,” he said in injured tones, “but I do know something about rope and about knots. It’s in the family, as you might say. Why, my grand-dad, and my uncle Andy after him, him that was the Gaffer’s eldest brother he had a rope-walk over by Tighfield many a year. And I put as fast a hitch over the stump as any one could have done, in the Shire or out of it.”

Even though an internet search today for fast hitches will result predominately in towing hitches, the demographic most interested in them is unsurprising: Farmers (and tangentially modern farming certainly relies on fast tow hitches to quickly attach and unattach equipment from tractors). The ability to quickly secure loads, equipment, or produce is key to agrarian values and skills that just such a Gamgee Hobbit family would have prided themselves on and found essential to efficiently cultivating lands.

Hopefully, it is obvious why knotting knowledge and the ability to quickly fasten loads would thematically represent action advantage for Hobbits. In the source material, the fact the elven rope loosens itself and returns to its owner is a sore point for Sam, but it also allows them to continue their quest sooner, without having to leave the rope behind.

Of note, in knot tying theory, a hitch is a knot used to fasten a rope to another object. Clearly an accurate use in this circumstance. Another thematic win is achieved by designing this card for the Lore sphere; from the core rules, “the sphere of Lore emphasizes the potential of a hero’s mind. Intellect, wisdom, experience, and specialized knowledge are all under the domain of this sphere.” A small quibble is it would have been nice if there was a Gamgee hero with the printed Lore icon; a MotK Gaffer is the closest we come.

Synergies and Interatcions

In the greater context, Fast Hitch compares most directly with the core staple Unexpected Courage; attachments that provide a repeatable readying effect. Note that Fast Hitch can be used on any character, not just heroes.

It’s easy to ask, “name a Hobbit that’s not a good target for Fast Hitch?” Clearly they all are, but one must consider the opportunity cost that exists. Because of this, there are clearly better targets for the readying. Also, should multiple Fast Hitches be stacked on a single character, or should they be spread around.

There exist two main strategies for building for Fast Hitch: you are planning to sufficiently boost a Hobbit’s stats to make the extra actions pay off or you are planning to use actions that require a character to exhaust. But let it be stated, Rosie Cotton merges these two strategies in powerful ways.

Stat Boosting

  • Characters that have above average or stat boosting abilities: Sam Gamgee (Leadership), Tom Cotton, Tactics Merry
  • Attachments for boosting Hobbits: Hobbit Cloak, Staff of Lebethron, Sting, Ring Mail, Friend of Friends, etc as well as plenty of others (i.e. play an off-theme Steward of Gondor, then Gondorian Shield becomes quite effective)
  • Events for boosting: Halfling Determination (best for combat as you might get multiple uses out of the boost).

Ability Triggers

Characters with abilities you may want multiple uses of:

  • Firstly, MotK Rossie Cotton: if her power isn’t self-evident, more in the next section.
  • Tactics Merry: top attack potential for Hobbits, with an attacking buddy they can really mow down the enemies. Top thematic points for pairing with a partner deck triggering Tactic Eowyn’s ability. You will have to figure out some potential ranged damage though (partner attack w/printed range, Dunedain Cache, etc.)
  • Spirit Merry: even though Hobbit Pony may do it better, questing-readying-triggering is quite effective.
  • Other more niche cases include Spirit Pippin and Tactics Bilbo Baggins

Peak Power

If your ambition is to feature Fast Hitch in the most powerful ways, building around MotK Rosie Cotton is your objective. Making Rosie a hero (yes, Sword-thane is similarly viable, but requires considerably more resources to set up), opens her up to all willpower boosting effects that target heroes (consider Fireside Song, Red Book of Westmarch, Celebrian’s Stone, Necklace of Girion, Stone of Elostirion, Strider, Courage Awakened, Hobbit Pipe + Smoke Rings, etc.). Having multiple hitches on Rosie will allow her to quest, then ready and exhaust to boost another questing Hobbit, while finally readying and exhaust to boost a combat hobbit. Not to mention all the decision points of whether you want to trigger her ability; you might want to limit your progress, while a big enemy reveal might have you prioritizing combat. It is still incredibly strong even if you can’t get her willpower boosted.

Defending enemy attacks is always a vital part of this game. As such, our defense capable Hobbits can greatly benefit from Fast Hitch: Sam Gamgee, Tom Cotton, and Spirit Frodo.

Even though Hobbit decks tend to be tri-sphere, you still must have access to Lore. There are only 3 printed heroes that are Lore Hobbits. While A Good Harvest, Song of Wisdom, or intentional discarding an attachment and playing it with Reforged can work, they are probably a bit too big of a momentum hit unless you’re utilizing those cards in other ways to facilitate your deck. Also note, the Bond of Friendship contract plays nicely with a couple of Fast Hitches. Additionally, Fast Hitch is a nice inclusion for many of the saga quests, since the extra hero is often a Hobbit and may have some nifty utility in the quest.

Rating, Conclusion

Even though their stats are rubbish, a pleasant side effect is that giving Hobbits action advantage through Fast Hitch doesn’t feel overpowered. Many decisions underlie skillful play of this card that is thematically appropriate for the hiding in the shadows, tricksey Hobbit archetype.

You knew it before you read all this, Fast Hitch is a near auto-include in any Hobbit deck. There are many shenanigans yet to be uncovered if you’ve extended your LCG experience with the ALEP fan content; the Last Alliance contract opens up the Hobbit trait to any other trait archetype.

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.

Dave: w/Hobbits 1, w/out Hobbits 10: overall 5

Grant: 3

My rating: 4 — I agree with Dave’s logic to split the difference between it’s usefulness with or without Hobbits; but as the card pool grows beyond the official FFG releases, there are more ways to use Fast Hitch than a strictly pure Hobbit deck.

Radagast and Radagast’s Staff

The hero and attachment the Eagles deck needed.

Background

Radagast is one of the wizards sent from Valinor to be an emissary of Manwë and the Valar to the peoples of Middle Earth. It is said that that he was a greatly interested in plants and animals although his knowledge of them was second to Gandalf. He lived for a time in Rhosgobel, a small settlement between the Carrock and the Old Forest Road of Mirkwood. As a result, he and Beorn knew of each other as Beorn considered him not bad for a wizard in The Hobbit. He was also a noted friend of the great eagles. He was also used as a pawn by Saruman to bring Gandalf to Orthanc, Whereupon Saruman imprisoned Gandalf preventing from returning to The Shire to inform Frodo what he learned of The One Ring.

Card Theme

Radagast’s interest and friendship with the various beasts of Middle Earth are represented heavily in his abilities and those of his staff. His resource smoothing and the staff’s resource acceleration for creatures reflect bringing those friends to his aid. Whether having them act as spies, carrying messages, or sending Gwaihir to rescue Gandalf from Orthanc. This also ties into his ability to quest without exhausting when a creature is played. As mentioned in the earlier examples, Radagast is able to cover a lot of ground with the help of his bird and beast allies.

The last ability to return a creature enemy to the staging area I don’t think has a thematic link to the books. It seems more to be inspired by The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug movie directed by Peter Jackson. In the movie, shadowy forms of giant spiders can be seen while Radagast is trying to heal a sick hedgehog. It is only after he draws out the magical sickness the spiders apparently retreat.

Card Synergies and Interactions

Creature Allies

The obvious one here to take advantage of Radagast’s Staff cost reduction and readying, the hero’s ability to smooth resources, and get him to quest without exhausting. The creatures allies available in the game can give a deck a suite of card draw as well as potential answers to enemies, locations, and direct damage. Eagles are the primary contingent of creature allies in the game. Vassal of the Windlord, Winged Guardian, and Wilyador are cheap efficient attacking and defending allies. Their discard effects feed The Eagles of the Misty Mountains to create mid to late game combat behemoths.

Additionally, Descendent of Thorondor‘s direct damage when entering and leaving play can take out enemies in the staging area making combat easier as well as providing pseudo-questing by removing some staging area threat. Meneldor has a similar enters and leaves play ability except for placing progress on locations. Using as many Eagle allies as possible makes The Eagles Are Coming! into a more reliable way to draw multiple cards.

The non-Eagle allies provide the other utility effects to round out a creature deck. Messenger Raven can generate card draw by successfully naming the player card type on top the player deck. Wizard Pipe can reliably set this up. That it returns the raven to hand allows Radagast to reliably quest without exhausting for 1 resource per turn. Riddermark’s Finest can be discarded for location progress for another location control option. Loyal Hound’s damage cancellation and can stop direct damage effects helps make defending with Radagast safer. The insurance in defending is helpful considering the only Lore defensive bonus he can have is Protector of Lorien.

Return Ally to Hand Effects

Meneldor’s Flight, Born Aloft, Flight of the Eagles, and Gwaihir’s Debt much like the core set Sneak Attack let you get extra triggers on the Eagles enter and leave play effects. Particularly useful for Descendent of Thorondor, Meneldor, and even ally Gwaihir if you want to get an Eagle ally back. Normally playing those 3 allies multiple times would be difficult considering their 3, 4, and 5 cost. Radaghast’s Staff makes it much more reasonable to get an extra play or two out of them. Returning creature alies to hand also make sure you have one to play each turn to trigger Radagast’s action advantage.

Defense Bonus

Radagast’s 3 defense stat puts him into the top tier of Lore hero defenders with core set Denethor, Treebeard, and Elrond. He’s in sphere for one of the best shadow control cards in the game, A Burning Brand. If Radaghast is the primary defender, being able to cancel a shadow effect every turn is always going to be good. Unfortunately, the only in-sphere defensive boost he can have is Protector of Lorien. Lore has enough card draw to provide the means to reliably boost his defense higher with it.

Tactics, however, has some additional defense boosting options, and if playing Eagles then a player is likely to include a Tactics hero as well. Gondorian Shield and Round Shield can are nice cheap options to put Radagast in the 4+ defense that is often necessary in many quests.

Word of Command

Word of Command let’s you search your deck for any card to add to your hand, but the requirement of exhausting an Istari carries a heavy opportunity cost. Gandalf and Saruman heroes and allies versions have great stats that players typically want to use. The ally versions tend to not stay in play more than a round. Radagast ally doesn’t have those drawbacks but is very expensive at 5 cost. This means you’re not going to get use its effect early in the game when it would be the most useful. Radagast’s ability to quest without exhausting after playing a creature makes Word of Command easier to play in the early game. Especially in true solo where after questing there may not even be any enemies for combat.

Quest Specific

One ability of Radagast’s Staff haven’t mentioned much yet is that it can return a creature enemy to the staging area. It’s easy to overlook since many earlier player cards triggered off the Orc and Goblin traits. There are a lot of creature enemies in the game. The core set alone has King Spider, Wargs, Hummerhorns, Ungoliant’s Spawn, Marsh Adder, Forest Spider, Black Forest Bats, and Eastern Crows.

This ability can be a game saver if Attercop, Attercop is revealed in Return to Mirkwood. Attercop’s 8 attack is difficult for many decks to deal handle, but the 2 threat is easier to quest over. Wastes of Eriador has exclusively Warg enemies that are also have the Creature trait. The Day / Night mechanism in that quest can make it easy to get overwhelmed with too many enemies and having a way to send one back to the staging during Night could be very useful. The Múmakil has exclusively creature enemies some with very nasty abilities. The staff can do some great work in it by sending back a Territoral Ape when the active location has 4 threat or help to avoid gaining a Strangling Python as an attachment or having Giant Centipede blank a hero’s textbox

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 Radagast hero at 4 rings. Built in action advantage, good defense stat in Lore so can have A Burning Brand. The hero with his Staff basically makes the creature ally deck work. Downside is he is a little higher threat at 11. Even that isn’t too difficult to get into a deck especially with the Lore Hobbit heroes or Mirlonde. This all makes him a very solid hero, but you need at least some creature allies to leverage the hero’s abilities. Outside a deck without creature allies, Radagast still can be a decent Lore defender.

Radagast’s Staff I rate at 3 rings. The cost reduction makes it Steward of Gondor for creature allies. This makes it one of the best trait based resource accelerators. Amazing value for the more expensive Eagle allies and Giant Bear. It also can ready those strong allies like Eagles of the Misty Mountains. Without creatures allies, the staff seems to take a bigger hit in utility than the hero. The only ability that can be used then is the return creature enemy to the staging area. This ability is more useful than it seems at first glance. The game is rife with spiders, bats, wolves, crows, scorpions and other creature enemies it can return to the staging area.

Overall, I like the Staff better than the hero. The staff with its cost reduction and readying of creature allies is fantastic in an Eagles deck. You don’t even need the hero to use it. You can use it with Radagast ally which doesn’t completely offset his high cost, certainly makes it more playable.

The on the other hand, I have trouble with using as a primary defender. Part of it is the lack of traits to give him some of the stronger defensive attachments like Ancestral Armor or Armored Destrier. Another part is I wish he had a Tactics icon to be in sphere with many of them and could get Support of the Eagles. It is thematic that he is Lore and there are songs, but it would have been easier if he had just been a Tactics hero. I also think his overall Istari package of staff and creature allies isn’t as widely useful or interesting as the Gandalf and Saruman heroes. It is nice that he is lower threat than either of the other 2, but really if I’m playing this hero it’s to facilitate playing expensive Eagle allies. Everything after that is a nice bonus to take advantage of.

Hero

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

Staff

  • Dave – 5
  • Grant – 5
  • Ted – 2
  • Matt – 3
  • Average 3.75

External Links

Sample Decks

The Eagles Are Coming! by radAGHAST 

This deck aims to swarm the board with Eagles utilizing the discount from Radagast’s Staff and Hirgon’s ability after questing succesfully.

Main Deck

Hero (3)
Éowyn (The Flame of the West)
Hirgon (Beneath the Sands)
Radagast (The Fate of Wilderland)

Ally (31)
3x Descendant of Thorondor (The Hills of Emyn Muil)
3x Eagle of the North (Roam Across Rhovanion)
3x Eagles of the Misty Mountains (Return to Mirkwood)
3x Gandalf (Core Set)
2x Gwaihir (Trouble in Tharbad)
2x Landroval (A Journey to Rhosgobel)
3x Loyal Hound (The Fate of Wilderland)
3x Meneldor (Roam Across Rhovanion)
3x Vassal of the Windlord (The Dead Marshes)
3x Warden of Healing (The Long Dark)
3x Winged Guardian (The Hunt for Gollum)

Attachment (6)
2x A Burning Brand (Conflict at the Carrock)
1x Magic Ring (The Crossings of Poros)
3x Radagast’s Staff (The Fate of Wilderland)

Event (16)
3x Daeron’s Runes (Foundations of Stone)
3x Flight of the Eagles (Roam Across Rhovanion)
3x Gwaihir’s Debt (The Fate of Wilderland)
1x Justice Shall Be Done (A Storm on Cobas Haven)
3x The Eagles Are Coming! (The Hunt for Gollum)
3x Word of Command (The Long Dark)

3 Heroes, 53 Cards
Cards up to The Fate of Wilderland

Decklist built and published on RingsDB.

Mono-Lore of the Eagles by The Purple Wizard

An Eagle centric Vilya deck that adds in some of the best questing and support allies from Lore and Spirit. It also utilizes Protector of Lorien to make Radagast into a serious defender with the extra cards drawn by Erestor.

Main Deck

Hero (3)
Elrond (Shadow and Flame)
Erestor (The Treachery of Rhudaur)
Radagast (The Fate of Wilderland)

Ally (34)
1x Arwen Undómiel (The Watcher in the Water)
3x Descendant of Thorondor (The Hills of Emyn Muil)
3x Eagles of the Misty Mountains (Return to Mirkwood)
1x Ered Nimrais Prospector (The Morgul Vale)
2x Firyal (The Mûmakil)
3x Gandalf (Core Set)
1x Ghân-buri-Ghân (The Flame of the West)
2x Glorfindel (Flight of the Stormcaller)
1x Gwaihir (Trouble in Tharbad)
1x Landroval (A Journey to Rhosgobel)
3x Loyal Hound (The Fate of Wilderland)
1x Mablung (The Land of Shadow)
3x Meneldor (Roam Across Rhovanion)
3x Vassal of the Windlord (The Dead Marshes)
3x Warden of Healing (The Long Dark)
3x Winged Guardian (The Hunt for Gollum)

Attachment (15)
2x A Burning Brand (Conflict at the Carrock)
1x Favor of the Valar (The Battle of Carn Dûm)
2x Protector of Lórien (Core Set)
3x Radagast’s Staff (The Fate of Wilderland)
1x Unexpected Courage (Core Set)
3x Vilya (Shadow and Flame)
3x Wizard Pipe (The Road Darkens)

Event (5)
3x The Evening Star (The Grey Havens)
1x The Galadhrim’s Greeting (Core Set)
1x Will of the West (Core Set)

3 Heroes, 54 Cards
Cards up to The Fate of Wilderland

Sideboard

Ally (15)
2x Ered Nimrais Prospector (The Morgul Vale)
2x Ghân-buri-Ghân (The Flame of the West)
1x Gwaihir (Trouble in Tharbad)
3x Imladris Stargazer (Foundations of Stone)
1x Jubayr (The Mûmakil)
1x Landroval (A Journey to Rhosgobel)
3x Northern Tracker (Core Set)
1x Quickbeam (The Treason of Saruman)
1x Robin Smallburrow (The Drowned Ruins)

Event (4)
2x The Galadhrim’s Greeting (Core Set)
2x Will of the West (Core Set)

Decklist built and published on RingsDB.