Dwarven Tomb

  • Player Card Categories 
    • Recursion
    • Discard Pile

Almost like having an extra copy of any Spirit card.


There are 2 possible tombs from the books this card can be based on. It could be Thorin Oakenshield’s tomb where he was buried with the Arkenstone after The Battle of Five Armies. The other is tomb of Balin in Moria. The Fellowship of the Ring found Balin’s tomb in the Chamber of Mazarbul when passing through Moria and ambushed there by orcs.

The flavor text is an except from Far Over the Misty Mountains Cold. It is not version the Dwarves sing after the unexpected party at Bag End, but one they sang after Smaug was defeated. The main difference in the excerpt is the first line, “The dwarves no more shall suffer wrong,” instead of “To seek the pale enchanted gold”. This could refer to either Thorin or Balin since both were part of that company. It is possible FFG kept it intentionally ambiguous, but the art favors the description of Balin’s tomb with the shaft of light falling upon it.

The chamber was lit by a wide shaft high in the further eastern wall; it slanted upwards and, far above, a small square patch of blue sky could be seen. The light of the shaft fell directly on a table in the middle of the room: a single oblong block, about two feet high, upon which was laid a great slab of white stone.

The Fellowship of the Ring, Chapter 4: A Journey in the Dark

Card Theme

I know from a couple designer interviews that LOTR LCG is inspired by Magic the Gathering. The discard pile in Magic is called the graveyard. The thematic tie of a tomb to the discard pile recursion mechanic is well known to veteran Magic players. It still makes sense in this game as destroyed allies and heroes are put in the discard pile as well. The brining a card back out of the discard pile doesn’t fit that well with finality of the tomb. If it had been a reference to the Valar sending Gandalf back to Middle Earth then it would have been more thematic.

Card Synergies and Interactions

Powerful Spirit Events

Spirit has some of the most powerful and widely useful event cards in the game. A Test of Will of can neutralize many treachery encounter cards which can account for about a third of a scenario’s encounter cards. Additionally there are some enemies with When Revealed effects that it can cancel. Hasty Stroke can be a game saver against nasty shadows. Elrond’s Counsel and Galadhim’s Greeting are staples in threat reduction.

Dwarven Tomb can act as like an additional 3 copies of each of those events. Events are a more common target because events go right into the discard pile after being played making them easier to recur. Also allies and attachments have their own specific events, Stand and Fight and Reforged. Those 2 are generally better than Dwarven Tomb for allies and attachments because they put the card into play. Players want to keep allies and attachments in play usually as well. Still the flexibility to get any spirit card can be more advantageous in some decks.

Caldara, Dwarven Mining, and Noldor Discard

Caldara, Dwarven Mining, and Noldor Discard decks can all benefit from that flexibility due to each has a similar game plan. Put cards into the discard pile. Caldara decks want to fill it with powerful allies and when Caldara is discarded they get 2, 3, or even 4 allies for the price of an 8 threat cost hero. Dwarven Mining will put cards directly from its deck into the discard to power the abilities of its heroes and allies or possibly get free attachments via Well-Equipped or Ring of Thror. Noldor discard will discard cards from hand for abilities or to play allies with To the Sea, to the Sea! There is always the risk in these decks of either blindly or forced to discard a necessary card. Dwarven Tomb is a great insurance to get that card. Dwarven Tomb also turns the mining effects into pseudo card draw. As the Dwarves put more cards into the discard pile, the potential targets of the tomb expand.

Other Discard Recursion Cards

Dwarven Tomb and Map of Earnil fill similar roles but together can be ridiculous. The map can target the tomb to bring back another card then put the tomb on the bottom of the deck for another possible use. This can lead to an infinite loop with an empty deck as the tomb can target Map of Earnil to return to hand. Play Tomb again with the returned Map to return another Spirit card. A little card draw with Elven-light and this loop can occur every turn. Dwarven Tomb retrieving Knight of Belfalas, especially if somehow all copies ended in the discard, allows for another chain of discard recursion. The Knight can retrieve each other copy since they’re all Gondor allies. Chump block while one is in hand and just get back after replaying it.

Quest Specific

There are a few quests that will force players to discard cards from their deck. Deadman’s Dike from The Lost Realm, Dungeons of Cirth Gurat in the Haradrim cycle, and Under the Ash Mountains. There are also many cards scattered across various quests that force players to discard cards from their hand or their entire hand. Dwarven Tomb can help mitigate the downsides of these quests aside from just getting a key card back. Many of them have effects that additional effects if another copy of card is in your discard. Deadman’s Dike and Under the Ash Mountains both have a player lose if they run out of cards in their deck. Dwarven Tomb can help find a way to get some cards shuffled back into the deck.

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 this card at 4 rings. It has a pretty flexible and useful effect considering it can get any Spirit card out of the discard pile. I’ve used it fairly often even back when I had only 2 copies from my 2 old core sets. I’ve used it in discard recursion focused decks as insurance and added to decks with Spirit as potential extra copy of Test of Will. In my experience, I usually would rather just have the regular card drawn and it can cut from the deck list pretty easily if extra room is needed. It also be helpful in trimming a deck since I’ll drop a 3rd copy of A Test of Will and another generally useful Spirit event like Hasty Stroke. Dwarven Tomb then I’ll count on as the 3rd copy for both. Still I find I’ll hold on to Dwarven Tomb just in case or won’t have the spare resource to play it and the card I pull out. Discard recursion, I’ll find myself trimming Dwarven Tomb if I’m just using it as insurance. One copy sometimes is all that is needed to tilt the odds to seeing it late game when it might be needed. It’s that “just in case role” it fills that while a generally useful card when playing Spirit, that it moves more towards a niche card rather than a powerful will always include card.

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

External Links

Sample Decks

Doomed Rohan – To Catch An Orc – Minimum Purchase by kattattack22

Rohan themed deck for To Catch an Orc using only Voice of Isengard and 1 old core set. Dwarven Tomb doesn’t feature necessarily in this deck but it serves as a possible 3rd copy of A Test of Will.

Main Deck

Hero (3)
Éomer (The Voice of Isengard)
Éowyn (Core Set)
Gríma (The Voice of Isengard)

Ally (27)
2x Erebor Hammersmith (Core Set)
3x Gandalf (Core Set)
1x Gléowine (Core Set)
3x Gondorian Spearman (Core Set)
1x Henamarth Riversong (Core Set)
3x Isengard Messenger (The Voice of Isengard)
3x Lórien Guide (Core Set)
2x Northern Tracker (Core Set)
3x Veteran Axehand (Core Set)
3x Westfold Horse-breeder (The Voice of Isengard)
3x Westfold Outrider (The Voice of Isengard)

Attachment (6)
2x Blade of Gondolin (Core Set)
2x Keys of Orthanc (The Voice of Isengard)
2x Rohan Warhorse (The Voice of Isengard)

Event (17)
2x A Test of Will (Core Set)
2x Deep Knowledge (The Voice of Isengard)
1x Dwarven Tomb (Core Set)
2x Feint (Core Set)
2x Secret Paths (Core Set)
3x Stand and Fight (Core Set)
2x The Galadhrim’s Greeting (Core Set)
3x The Wizards’s Voice (The Voice of Isengard)

3 Heroes, 50 Cards
Cards up to The Voice of Isengard

Decklist built and published on RingsDB.

Burglar’s Turn to Side Quest by kattattack22

Multiplayer questing and support deck that uses some Noldor discard effects and dwarven mining. Dwarven Tomb here is an insurance policy if forced to discard something important or turn Zigil Miner into pseudo card search.

Burglar’s Turn to Side Quest

Main Deck

Hero (3)
Arwen Undómiel (The Dread Realm)
Círdan the Shipwright (The Grey Havens)
Thurindir (Race Across Harad)

Contract (0)
1x The Burglar’s Turn (Wrath and Ruin)

Ally (25)
1x Bilbo Baggins (The Road Darkens)
3x East Road Ranger (The Wastes of Eriador)
1x Faramir (Core Set)
1x Firyal (The Mûmakil)
1x Glorfindel (Flight of the Stormcaller)
3x Lórien Guide (Core Set)
3x Mirkwood Explorer (The Thing in the Depths)
3x Northern Tracker (Core Set)
3x Rider of Rohan (Beneath the Sands)
1x Súlien (The City of Corsairs)
2x Thalion (Fire in the Night)
3x Zigil Miner (Khazad-dûm)

Event (20)
3x A Test of Will (Core Set)
3x Dwarven Tomb (Core Set)
3x Elven-light (The Dread Realm)
3x Hidden Cache (The Morgul Vale)
3x Stand and Fight (Core Set)
3x The Galadhrim’s Greeting (Core Set)
2x Will of the West (Core Set)

Player Side Quest (6)
1x Double Back (Escape from Mount Gram)
1x Explore Secret Ways (Race Across Harad)
1x Gather Information (The Lost Realm)
1x Rally the West (The Black Serpent)
1x Scout Ahead (The Wastes of Eriador)
1x The Storm Comes (The Sands of Harad)

3 Heroes, 51 Cards
Cards up to Wrath and Ruin


Attachment (14)
1x Ancestral Armor (Roam Across Rhovanion)
1x Celebrían’s Stone (Core Set)
1x Citadel Plate (Core Set)
1x Durin’s Axe (Wrath and Ruin)
1x Glamdring (Roam Across Rhovanion)
1x Gondorian Shield (The Steward’s Fear)
1x Legacy Blade (The Dungeons of Cirith Gurat)
1x Magic Ring (The Crossings of Poros)
1x Mithril Shirt (The Fate of Wilderland)
1x Narya (The Grey Havens)
1x Necklace of Girion (The Wilds of Rhovanion)
1x Orcrist (Fire in the Night)
1x Stone of Elostirion (Under the Ash Mountains)
1x The Arkenstone (The Withered Heath)

Decklist built and published on RingsDB.

Erebor Hammersmith

  • Player Card Categories 
    • Discard Pile
    • Played from Hand
    • Recursion

Tremendous value for cost ally that is great to recur attachments.


The Hammersmith is 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. The Dwarves of Erebor originally came Khazad-Dum or Moiria after being driven out in the First Age. Erebor in the books is known for having been occupied by the Dragon Smaug during the Third Age not long prior to Sauron’s return.

Card Theme

Many attachments in the game are items. The Hammersmith then could be seen as repairing those items in the discard pile. Once repaired, it is then it can be used again in play. A similar logic seems to be applied to the Reforged card from the Vengeance of Mordor cycle. A thematic disconnect, however, is that neither card is limited to attachments with the Item or Artifact traits. They can bring back Titles like Steward of Gondor or Skills like Self Preservation.

There is also a nice tie in with the Dwarf Mining mechanism that discards cards from a player’s deck. even though it was not developed later cycles. The Erebor Hammersmith lets players dig in their discard pile for “treasure”. Akin to the mining effects dig through the deck for “treasure” like Hidden Cache.

Card Synergies and Interactions

Single Use Attachments

There are some very useful attachments that a player can play and then later discard for an effect. Erebor Hammersmith can get extra uses out of these cards. In the same sphere, there are several one time healing attachments such as Lembas, Athelas, and Healing Herbs. Lembas will even ready the hero it is attached to making it a favorite for defending heroes. Cram and Miruvor are other one time readying effects that are useful to recur. Thror’s Map is another good in sphere option that can let players avoid a travel effect.

A favorite of Pippin players are the Record attachments. These let you play an event from your discard pile then put it back on the bottom of the deck. Getting these attachments back can set up playing the same even at the same event several times over the course of the game. It then becomes feasible to get Gandalf’s ability nearly every turn by replaying Reinforcements and/or Sneak Attack. Risk Some Light in Lore is another popular event to play over and over to control the encounter deck. In true solo players, it can make the game significantly easier.

Attachments that can go on enemies, locations, or quest cards are also good targets, such as, Ancient Mathom, Ranger Provisions, The Long Defeat, or Secret Vigil. This is because they are discarded when the attached enemy, location, or quest card leaves play. Many have strong effects due to the additional requirement of exploring the location, completing the quest card, or defeating enemy it is attached to.


These are very similar to the single use attachments although typically these provide ongoing effects. Ambush is the exception since it is discarded to allow the player(s) to attack the enemy before defending. Once the enemy is defeated, Erebor Hammersmith can bring them back to be used again.

Discard Effects

There two forms of this. In the Core Set, there was only the discard from hand kind. Protector of Lorien and Eowyn in particular let you discard cards from your hand for a temporary stat boost. There was a little bit of synergy here as a player could discard an attachment and Erebor Hammersmith could get it back.

The other kind of discard effect has players discarding cards from the top their deck. This is often referred to as “mining” or “milling” (milling is the common term for this in Magic the Gathering) despite the designers calling it “delving” in an FFG livestream in early 2022. Mining effects work better with Erebor Hammersmith because the more that is discarded from the deck, the more options the Hammersmith has to put into your hand. The ability paired with mining then acts like card search and draw.

Dwarf Tribal

Dwarf allies have many ways they can become better. The primary one is Leadership Dain Ironfoot that boosts both willpower and attack of all Dwarves when he is ready. Hardy Leadership can give the Hammersmith and all other Dwarves +1 hit point. On top of those global boosts, there are attachments like Boots from Erebor, Ring Mail, and Armor of Erebor that can go on a Dwarf character. The Hammersmith’s 3 hit points lends itself to being built up into a secondary defender.

Put in Play Effects

Sneak Attack, Stand and Fight, A Very Good Tale, To me! O my kinsfolk!, and similar cards that put allies into play don’t trigger the Hammersmith’s ability. The response says, “After you play,” which is different from putting an ally into play per FAQ 1.16. Put into play effects then are a nonbo with the Erebor Hammersmith.

Quest Specific

There are many quests where the Hammersmith’s ability will be very helpful since effects that discard attachments or attachment hate is sprinkled throughout the game. There are a couple stand out quests where this can help more than others. The first is Foundations of Stone. There is a part of the quest where players have to discard all Item, Weapon, and Armor cards. That is going to be most attachments that players typically use and the Hammersmith can help get them back.

Journey Up the Anduin, The Withered Heath, and Roam Across the Rhovanion all feature Weighed Down that can destroy attachment heavy decks. It attaches a hero and forces the player to discard an attachment from that hero each time it readies. Erebor Hammersmith won’t get rid of Weighed Down. He can at least mitigate the damage by retrieving the most important attachment.

Lastly, Deadman’s Dike and Under the Ash Mountains discard cards from the top of a players deck. Players can leverage this with Hammersmith to pull out an important attachment if the encounter mines it from their deck for them.

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 Erebor Hammersmith at a 2. He is tremendous value for stats. I’ve played him a bit more recently in the Revised Core Set campaign, and he is one of the few allies that can defend a 2 or 3 attack enemy and survive most of the time. On top of that, He is a Dwarf. Dain, Hardy Leadership, and Dwarf character attachments can all make him better. He is quite cheap at only 2 Lore resources. Lore doesn’t have much in sphere resource acceleration. This means that players typically have to play on the resource curve and load up on efficient allies.

On top of all this, he has an incredibly useful and versatile ability to return an attachment from the discard pile. This ability only got better with Dwarf Mining effects becoming more prevalent in the card pool. Attachments being discarded directly or indirectly by the encounter deck only gives it more opportunities to shine. If you’re playing Lore, Erebor Hammersmith is always near the top of the list to be included.

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

External Links

Sample Decks

Dwarf Swarm without Khazad Dum by kattattack22

Basic strategy is get 5 Dwarves down for resource acceleration and card draw. Legacy of Durin is good to get out early for more card draw. A Very Good Tale and Fili are your main enablers.

Sideboard is for tweaking the deck as this is a little light on allies than I’d like for A Very Good Tale. Also the Lure of Moiria and We Are Not Idle combo isn’t what it used to be.

Main Deck

Hero (3)
Dáin Ironfoot (Return to Mirkwood)
Ori (Over Hill and Under Hill)
Thorin Oakenshield (Over Hill and Under Hill)

Ally (21)
2x Dori (Over Hill and Under Hill)
3x Erebor Hammersmith (Core Set)
2x Fili (Over Hill and Under Hill)
3x Gandalf (Core Set)
2x Glóin (On the Doorstep)
1x Kili (Over Hill and Under Hill)
3x Longbeard Elder (Foundations of Stone)
2x Longbeard Orc Slayer (Core Set)
3x Miner of the Iron Hills (Core Set)

Attachment (11)
1x Celebrían’s Stone (Core Set)
3x Cram (Over Hill and Under Hill)
2x Hardy Leadership (Shadow and Flame)
2x Legacy of Durin (The Watcher in the Water)
3x Steward of Gondor (Core Set)

Event (18)
3x A Very Good Tale (Over Hill and Under Hill)
3x Daeron’s Runes (Foundations of Stone)
3x Lure of Moria (Road to Rivendell)
3x Parting Gifts (A Journey to Rhosgobel)
3x Sneak Attack (Core Set)
3x We Are Not Idle (Shadow and Flame)

3 Heroes, 50 Cards
Cards up to On the Doorstep


Ally (7)
2x Bifur (On the Doorstep)
2x Bombur (Road to Rivendell)
1x Fili (Over Hill and Under Hill)
1x Kili (Over Hill and Under Hill)
1x Longbeard Orc Slayer (Core Set)

Attachment (1)
1x Legacy of Durin (The Watcher in the Water)

Event (6)
3x To me! O my kinsfolk! (On the Doorstep)
3x Valiant Sacrifice (Core Set)

Decklist built and published on RingsDB.

Pickaxes and Pipes (Dwarven Miners) by Mr. Underhill

A mining deck with many similar costed cards to increase chances of Zigil Miner gaining resources blindly.

Main Deck

Hero (3)
Dáin Ironfoot (Return to Mirkwood)
Gandalf (The Road Darkens)
Nori (Over Hill and Under Hill)

Ally (24)
2x Arwen Undómiel (The Watcher in the Water)
3x Bilbo Baggins (The Road Darkens)
3x Blue Mountain Trader (The Dunland Trap)
3x Erebor Battle Master (The Long Dark)
2x Erebor Hammersmith (Core Set)
3x Ered Luin Miner (Temple of the Deceived)
2x Ered Nimrais Prospector (The Morgul Vale)
3x Warden of Healing (The Long Dark)
3x Zigil Miner (Khazad-dûm)

Attachment (22)
2x A Burning Brand (Conflict at the Carrock)
3x Dwarf Pipe (The Mûmakil)
2x Dwarven Shield (The Sands of Harad)
3x Gandalf’s Staff (The Road Darkens)
1x Hardy Leadership (Shadow and Flame)
2x King Under the Mountain (On the Doorstep)
3x Narvi’s Belt (Khazad-dûm)
3x Unexpected Courage (Core Set)
3x Wizard Pipe (The Road Darkens)

Event (4)
3x Hidden Cache (The Morgul Vale)
1x Will of the West (Core Set)

3 Heroes, 50 Cards
Cards up to The Mûmakil


Ally (3)
3x Miner of the Iron Hills (Core Set)

Event (4)
2x Smoke Rings (The Black Riders)
2x Untroubled by Darkness (Khazad-dûm)

Decklist built and published on RingsDB.

Barliman and Robin by Marcelf

Mono Lore Secrecy with significant resource acceleration and recursion to play efficient and big allies. End game is to replay Risk Some Light over and over.

Main Deck

Hero (3)
Bilbo Baggins (The Hunt for Gollum)
Folco Boffin (The Dungeons of Cirith Gurat)
Pippin (The Black Riders)

Ally (17)
1x Barliman Butterbur (The Black Riders)
3x Erebor Hammersmith (Core Set)
1x Firyal (The Mûmakil)
1x Gaffer Gamgee (Mount Gundabad)
1x Gandalf (Over Hill and Under Hill)
1x Ghân-buri-Ghân (The Flame of the West)
1x Gildor Inglorion (The Hills of Emyn Muil)
1x Henamarth Riversong (Core Set)
3x Ithilien Lookout (The Dunland Trap)
1x Mablung (The Land of Shadow)
1x Quickbeam (The Treason of Saruman)
1x Robin Smallburrow (The Drowned Ruins)
1x Warden of Healing (The Long Dark)

Attachment (13)
1x Fast Hitch (The Dead Marshes)
3x Love of Tales (The Long Dark)
3x Resourceful (The Watcher in the Water)
3x Scroll of Isildur (The Morgul Vale)
2x Sword-thain (The Dread Realm)
1x The One Ring (A Shadow in the East)

Event (20)
2x Bartering (The Wilds of Rhovanion)
3x Deep Knowledge (The Voice of Isengard)
3x Drinking Song (Mount Gundabad)
3x Mithrandir’s Advice (The Steward’s Fear)
2x Peace, and Thought (Shadow and Flame)
3x Risk Some Light (Shadow and Flame)
1x The Ruling Ring (A Shadow in the East)
3x The Shirefolk (Mount Gundabad)

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


Ally (7)
3x Loyal Hound (The Fate of Wilderland)
2x Mirkwood Explorer (The Thing in the Depths)
2x White Tower Watchman (The Drúadan Forest)

Event (2)
2x The Evening Star (The Grey Havens)

Decklist built and published on RingsDB.

Second Breakfast – Community Review

by Ziggi W

  • Player Card Categories 
    • Recursion
    • Discard Pile


Hate that art. That disgusting stuffed Hobbit, is like a tiny Denethor who has just munched on all the tomatoes and is now considering tomatoes for dessert.

Card Theme

This should have been the Hobbit readying card instead of Fast Hitch. A real thematic miss to not create a Hobbit food related readying chain, Second Breakfast, Elevenses, Good Meal (that one is ok kinda). Drinking Song I’m on board with for theme and because it’s amazing, but Second Breakfast….so much sadness.

Card Synergies and Interactions

None, other than that food covered Hobbit-like ball on the art synergizes at putting me off my food.

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.

Rated 10 for being bloody useless and more importantly for being thematically wasted. This card is thematically what Fast Hitch should have been, Hobbits need their second breakfast to be ready for the day…after their first breakfast. In addition, FFG missed the boat on thematically incorporating Elevenses together with Second Breakfast for a delicious Hobbit readying chain, to be followed by eggs and bakey and a pipe. I would also have accepted ‘They come in PINTS!’ for Hobbit readying. Onto that card art, ughhhh! That stuffed Hobbit is giving me Denethor eating tomatoes vibes times 10, I had to sleeve the card backwards to save my soul from that image.

  • Ziggi – 10
  • Dave – TBR
  • Grant – TBR
  • Ted – TBR
  • Matt – TBR

Ranger of Cardolan

TL;DR A versatile neutral ally well positioned for unexpected combat requirements.


[In] the wild lands beyond Bree there were mysterious wanderers. The Bree-folk called them Rangers, and knew nothing of their origin. They were taller and darker than the Men of Bree and were believed to have strange powers of sight and hearing, and to understand the languages of beasts and birds. They roamed at will southwards, and eastwards even as far as the Misty Mountains; but they were now few and rarely seen. When they appeared they brought news from afar, and told strange forgotten tales which were eagerly listened to; but the Bree-folk did not make friends of them.
—The Fellowship of the Ring, Book 1, Ch 9, At the Sign of the Prancing Pony

The Ranger of Cardolan was released during the Angmar Awakened cycle which featured heavy development of the Dunedain archetype. These descendants of the kingdom of Arnor are capable of an aggressive, combat focused style of play as they seek to protect and guard those more vulnerable, and happen to be able to tell a good tale now and again. As such, Ranger of Cardolan makes an excellent contributor to this style of play.

Card Theme

If you’ve played the Angmar Awakened Cycle (which is likely since that’s where this card originates), you’ve been exposed to a fair smattering of Dunedain history. However, it isn’t intuitive to piece the scraps together solely from playing the card game. Hence a brief (and hopefully accurate) review of the foundational historical pieces of Arnor, of the Northern Kingdom of the Dunedain.

Following the defeat of Sauron in the War of the Last Alliance, the rule of Arnor is assumed by Valandil, Isildur’s only surviving son following the Disaster of the Gladden Fields. Thereabout eight uneventful centuries pass until the unity of Arnor is splintered into three kingdoms: Arthedain, Rhudaur and Cardolan.

Arthedain was in the North-west and included the land between Brandywine and Lune, and also the land north of the Great Road as far as the Weather Hills. Rhudaur was in the North-east and lay between the Ettenmoors, the Weather Hills, and the Misty Mountains, but included also the Angle between the Hoarwell and the Loudwater. Cardolan was in the South, its bounds being the Brandywine, the Greyflood, and the Great Road.
—The Return of the King, Appendix A, “The Númenorean Kings”, “Eriador, Arnor, and the Heirs of Isildur”

Image credit to The Mad Hobbit blog

The chronicle of tales shows that the dread realm of Angmar was established and Rhudaur fell under it’s control. Cardolan allied with Arthedain to hold back the evil forces, but it was eventually overwhelmed and it’s royal line destroyed. A band of survivors took refuge in Tyrn Gorthad (Barrow Downs and Old Forest region) where they interred the Last Prince of Cardolan (possibly the tomb Frodo encounters) where they endured for two centuries; but eventually they were ravaged by the Great Plague and perished, allowing the evil wights of Carn Dum to possess the barrow region. Upon rescuing Frodo, Tom Bombadil remarks of his memory of the fallen people of Cardolan; to what extent he interacted with these people is unknown, but he was certainly present and contemporary with them, and may have had friendly relations.

It is speculative to suggest this ally card represents a faint, unbroken lineage of Cardolan Dunedain. Rather, it likely depicts rangers of intact Arthedain descent who are stationed, posted, or positioned in regions of the former Cardolan kingdom (additionally, similar for the Sarn Ford Sentry). Nevertheless, card’s ability is a thematic success for to spring into play from the shadows in order to protect others.

Synergies and Interactions

Let’s establish one thing at this point, the stats on the Ranger of Cardolan are quite good. A combined nine stats for four resources is cost effective and it’s neutral (non-)sphere to boot. There are a good number of heroes that have a 2/2/2 statline as well as several allies in the “Vilya Champions” group. It wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to call it the strongest non-unique neutral ally in the game (although there are interesting cases to be made for Guardian of Rivendell, etc).

Researching this card provided a lot of different clever uses for Ranger of Cardolan. But its high stats are a bit of a drawback when it comes to all of the effects that Ranger of Cardolan could trigger. If a card effect requires you to exhaust an ally/Dunedain/Ranger, then there is almost always a lower stat ally that could fit the bill (provided they are actually in play). These come at the opportunity cost of not being able to use its stats, which we’ve verified, are quite good.

To establish just a couple other points on the card’s ability that will come up later. “After you engage an enemy” is not limited to the Engagement phase. This could be triggered during non-traditional phases for engagement such as planning, questing, combat, etc. Also note, when triggering the ability, Ranger of Cardolan stays in play until the end of the round (i.e. the very end, after the refresh phase); you could get several uses out of this card over the course of the round with various readying effects available, or even in the narrow window after it refreshes but before the round ends and is discarded.

I’ll briefly acknowledge some combo’s that are viable, but on fringe of productive. Expert Trackers has an interesting combo to engage an enemy, bring in the Ranger of Cardolan and exhaust it place progress on a location; but it’s not really that productive since a different Scout/Ranger could be used to exhaust and our Ranger of Cardolan could be used to help deal with the enemy. He’s only here for a limited time, let’s make the most of it. Similarly, attachments on the Ranger of Cardolan could be useful, but that means you’re not using his ability (although very much still viable), and as before, other allies may be better targets.

There’s another set of combos that are intriguing, but still only situationally applicable because several pieces may need to be in place.

  • Descendants of Kings: more ways to get uses out of Dunedain stats/actions and you’ll likely have enemies engaged if you trigger Ranger of Cardolan’s ability
  • Tale of Tinuviel: always takes some finesse since it’s not providing action advantage. Since the stat boosting lasts until the end of the phase, extra readying is needed to get maximize the benefit (say from: Descendants of Kings)
  • Dunedain Hunter: an alluring gamble to directly take on an extra enemy to get a strong ally in play for not cost. Sometimes that enemy is more than you can handle right away, and the Ranger of Cardolan could help double-team that enemy if necessary. Plus, played during the planning phase, it gives you more opportunities to get an extra use.
  • Wait no Longer: a similar combo as previous, play during planning and appreciate exactly what extra enemy you are dealing with this round. However, it starts to get a little bit expensive to pull off.
  • Heir of Valandil: a perfectly acceptable way to reduce the cost once you’ve got some enemies engaged. Appreciate the flexibility to play Ranger of Cardolan this way if you missed the opportunity to trigger the response, of if you have Ranger of Cardolan back in your hand later in the game when the response isn’t as needed.
  • Mablung (hero): while he doesn’t share the right trait with the Ranger of Cardolan to trigger its ability, Mablung effectively defrays the cost of putting the Ranger into play during any phase.

Now to the substantive analysis, putting Ranger of Cardolan against the two staple 1-cost cards dealing emergency/unexpected combat:

Completely shuts down an attack and no secondary effect triggers: no shadow card, no forced effect related to the attack, etc.

Sneak Attack
Allows ‘enters/leaves play’ effects to trigger. If the ally survives, it could be paid for conventionally during the next planning phase, or a second sneak attack during a later phase of the same round.

Ranger of Cardolan
One resource cost is not specific to a sphere. Ally remains until the end of the round. Card is shuffled into owner’s deck for potential reuse. Takes up less ‘deck space’ with the integrated ability.

Objectively, Feint and Sneak Attack deserve their spots among the most popular and abused effects from the core set. But looking comparatively at the Ranger’s ability, would Feint and Sneak Attack be improved if they were neutral (non-)sphere? Would Feint and Sneak Attack be improved if they were shuffled into their owner’s deck after use (say, conditionally if no shadow effect was dealt to the target enemy)? The fine print to shuffle back into the owner’s deck can be incredible if there is sufficient card draw in a Dunedain deck.

The Ranger of Cardolan can be an excellent archery damage soak, effectively healing itself as it leaves play (also true for Sneak Attack). But it is also significant card economy, as it takes up half the space in your deck as a Sneak Attack and the corresponding ally.

Clearly there are some restrictions on Ranger of Cardolan. Controlling a Dunedain hero is much more limiting than being able to pay for one tactics or lore resource based on any hero lineup; there’s only six Dunedain heroes by name, and a couple more Messenger of the King candidates. But there is quite a bit of sub-archetype flexibility here: the multifaceted Aragorn, Idraen with location control, Thurindir (and Thalion) with side quests, and Beravor with card draw support. It also is only triggerable at the moment you engage an enemy; while that usually is the most impactful moment to have use of an extra ally, it lacks the flexibility to enter play if that isn’t the case.

Sidebar: Thalion mirrors the Ranger of Cardolan. Differing only in ability and unique status, they share the same card type, stats, cost, traits and sphere. It would really be a bonus achievement to trigger Ranger of Cardolan if your only Dunedain hero was Thalion after three side quests have been cleared.

Peak Power

Here we go; you’ve been looking for that overpowered combo to abuse the encounter deck with. Here we go! It was an unexpected surprise when I found the quote at the head of this article that mentioned when the Rangers would appear in Bree they “told strange forgotten tales which were eagerly listened to“.

Alright, you’re smart. You’ve probably known this combo was coming all along. But let’s go over some extra abuses of A Very Good Tale when used in the refresh phase before Ranger of Cardolan is discarded at round’s end. If you’ve snuck it into play using only one resource, you’ve got a chance to get excellent value out of that one resource.

To be explicit, all characters will ready during step 7.2 and then A Very Good Tale is playable during the action window between 7.4 and 7.5. Exhausting an ally, especially one with a high printed cost, that is about to leave play maximizes A Very Good Tale’s already potent resource acceleration and card draw effect.

Remember, there is that sneaky little action window after all cards ready and before the round ends

Here’s an extra achievement to unlock for yourself: pair Ranger of Cardolan with another ally leaving play at the end of the round. Gandalf, Elrond, Galadriel and Saruman, while costly, all have powerful when enters play effects that you can squeeze one more use out of before they depart. Combined with Ranger of Cardolan, they can bring in a pair of high cost allies. Frankly, a pair of Rangers makes a perfectly viable combo on their own.

Dwarven Sellsword and Wilyador similarly leave play at the end of the round, but they are remarkably cheap allies whose value decrease the longer you keep them hanging around; what better than to play them on the cheap, yet get another stable ally into play as they leave (however, you are compromised to a total cost of incoming allies at five resources, but still plenty of respectable allies can be brought in this way).

Backing off “Peak Power” for a moment, imagine blanking the textbox on Ranger of Cardolan; gone is the ability, but also the restriction. Is it still worth playing? Consider how playable a neutral ally is in a tri-sphere deck.

Consider also if a Bond of Friendship contract is played. Per the setup restriction, ten non-sphere cards need to be included in your deck and, with four heroes, paying for a four cost ally doesn’t require any forethought or resource hoarding. As good as they are, a strong neutral ally is much more playable than one belonging to a specific sphere. (And if you really want a third neutral ranger, remember Thalion.)

Rating, Conclusion

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 Ranger of Cardolan has a lot of strengths. As a neutral ally, it can fit in almost any deck. Its statline is versatile and above average per stat to resource value/ratio. With a Dunedain hero, it can bounce into play many times during a game especially as an emergency combatant and archery soak.

With a mature card pool, it can’t always get included, but it’s certainly worthy of consideration in many decks even if its ability isn’t triggerable.

  • Dave – 4
  • Grant – TBR
  • Ted – 5
  • My rating – 3
  • Average – 4.00

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.


‘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


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.


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


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


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

Decklist built and published on RingsDB.