Halfling Determination

  • Card Talk Season 5 Episode 41
    • Video episode
    • Audio episode
  • Cycle
    • Lord of the Rings Saga
  • Set
    • The Black Riders
  • Player Card Categories 
    • Willpower Bonus
    • Attack Bonus
    • Defense Bonus

Background

There are many instances we see the determination of the hobbits in the books culminating in Frodo carrying the Ring all the way to the fire of Mount Doom. The flavor text pins this to shortly after Frodo, Sam, and Pippin meet Gildor and his band of elven pilgrims. Sam recounts to Frodo how Gildor pressed him to stay with Frodo, and now afterwards the nature of the journey has changed for him. It is no longer about having an adventure and seeing unusual creatures. He knows now it will be a dark journey but he feels he has a purpose in it that he must fulfil.

Card Theme

Boosting all of a Hobbits basic stats is a nicely tied to the theme of this card. It is their determination that helps them find whatever they need within themselves to carry on the quest. Whether it is preserving through strange and dangerous lands, or taking up their swords to fight orcs, trolls, and giant spiders. More willpower, attack, and defense can help players realize that in the game.

Card Synergies and Interactions

Action Advantage

Halfling Determination’s boost last until the end of phase. The more times you can make use of it, the better. Hobbits fortunately have their own readying card that is cheap and easy to play with Fast Hitch. It can also target a character much like Halfling Determination. This will be very important later when discussing Halfling Determination’s interaction with a special Hobbit character card. Then of course there are the other readying staples like Unexpected Courage, Rohan Warhorse, Armored Destrier, Cram, Lembas, and Miruvor among many others. For maximum effect, you will want to play it with Hour of Wrath or Path of Need. These cards because heroes will not exhaust to quest, attack, or defend means the boosted hero can use its enhanced stats against every enemy.

Rosie Cotton

Rosie Cotton like Halfling Determination itself is a powerful boosting card for Hobbits. They work well together because Halfling Determination boosts her willpower and then she can use the resulting 4 willpower to add 4 to a Hobbit hero’s stats. A Fast Hitch on her and the willpower bonus can be doubled for questing by using her ability and questing with her. She can also become a hero with Messenger of the King and Sword-thain. This allows her to target herself with her ability and double Halfling’s Determination for combat by adding her 4 willpower to her boosted attack or defense. This turns her in a pretty strong attacker or defender with 6 in either relevant stat.

Quest Specific

The stat boosts are going to be good in almost every quest since they help with both questing and combat. A couple special cases worth mentioning are in the LOTR Saga quests. Both are special tests called hide and fortitude tests. Hide tests are used in A Shadow of the Past and fortitude tests are in Mount Doom. Both have very similar mechanics where the players commit characters (heroes only for fortitude) and use their total willpower for the test. Then encounter cards are discarded to determine the value the players need to beat. In hide tests, threat is totaled up and fortitude it is Sauron eye icons. There is a special action window after encounter cards are discarded before resolving the test. If the players are short on willpower, Halfling Determination can help push them over the edge.

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 Halfling Determination at 7 rings. It is a pretty good boost with +2 to all of the basic stats. This makes it pretty flexible, but still only a one time boost. It going to be a bit niche considering it is limited to hobbits. I find it often just doesn’t make the cut even in Hobbit decks. Largely because the best hobbit cards are in Spirit and Lore. Hobbits additionally are low on defense and Feint is generally a better 1 cost Tactics event to include over this card. It also doesn’t help that this is the hobbit version of Durin’s Song except that it lasts only until the end of the phase.

  • Dave – 4.5
  • Grant – 2
  • Ted – TBR
  • Matt – 7
  • Average – 4.5

External Links

Sample Decks

The Kids Gather ’round the Christmas Tree by Dave Walsh

Card Talk’s Christmas themed deck focused on utilizing hero Treebeard.

Main Deck

Hero (3)
Bilbo Baggins (Mount Gundabad)
Frodo Baggins (A Shadow in the East)
Treebeard (The Treason of Saruman)

Ally (11)
1x Elrond (The Road Darkens)
3x Gandalf (Core Set)
1x Gildor Inglorion (The Hills of Emyn Muil)
3x Ioreth (A Storm on Cobas Haven)
3x Rosie Cotton (The Mountain of Fire)

Attachment (26)
3x Cram (Over Hill and Under Hill)
3x Ent Draught (The Treason of Saruman)
3x Fast Hitch (The Dead Marshes)
2x Necklace of Girion (The Wilds of Rhovanion)
3x Protector of Lórien (Core Set)
3x Self Preservation (Core Set)
2x Spear of the Citadel (Heirs of Númenor)
3x Steward of Gondor (Core Set)
2x Sting (Mount Gundabad)
2x The Arkenstone (The Withered Heath)

Event (17)
3x Daeron’s Runes (Foundations of Stone)
3x Drinking Song (Mount Gundabad)
3x Halfling Determination (The Black Riders)
3x Sneak Attack (Core Set)
3x Taste it Again! (The Land of Shadow)
2x The King’s Return (The Fate of Wilderland)

Player Side Quest (1)
1x Gather Information (The Lost Realm)

3 Heroes, 55 Cards
Cards up to A Shadow in the East

Sideboard

Event (3)
3x Feint (Core Set)

Decklist built and published on RingsDB.

Guardian of Esgaroth – Community Review

by David Renaud

  • Card Talk Season TBD Episode TBD
    • Video episode
    • Audio episode
  • Cycle
    • Ered Mithren
  • Set
    • The Withered Heath
  • Player Card Categories 
    • Attack Bonus
    • Defense Bonus
    • Willpower Bonus

Background

Guardian of Esgaroth is fairly clear as where it stands: an armsman from Dale, likely after the events of The Hobbit. Following Bard the Bowman to rebuild their ancestral lands, the Men from Dale would benefit from trade from both the Elves of Mirkwood and the Dwarves of the Lonely Mountain.

Card Theme

The card’s theme becomes quite evident in the deckbuilding direction it demands. Dale is a wealthy land of warriors and craftsmen. Guardian of Esgaroth pushes a deck towards plenty of attachments, including weapons, armour, and horses. The Men of Dale leverage their affluent position to be well prepared for war.

Card Synergies and Interactions

Guardian of Esgaroth fits into a fairly typical Dale deck. Brand son of Bain and Bard son of Brand provide synergistic heroes, with a third slot open for player preference (either to double up with more Leadership/Spirit or open up another Sphere). Personally, I enjoy Theodred for resource smoothing.

Then the rest of the deck can be an assortment of other Dale allies and low cost attachments. In particular, Wild Stallion stands out as an excellent card for the deck, as it provides the Guardian with +2 to all stats.

Additionally, cards that provide extra actions per turn out of Guardian shine. Valiant Determination enables questing for 5 on top of attacking or defending for 5 each turn.

Spare Hood and Cloak has been a surprisingly effective card for the deck. With the heroes, it immediately draws a card. Then it lets you pass the cloak to the Guardian to get an extra action in an emergency, while also letting the Guardian pass it back in rounds in which its combat power isn’t needed. This brings an extra level of flexibility to respond to a critical turn.

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.

Guardian of Esgaroth requires support, but acts on an often unused axis of the game – universally powerful allies. There are often min/maxed allies or universally average allies, but an ally that hits 5/5/5/5 (thanks to Wild Stallion) benefits from many effects that are costed to only apply to allies instead of heroes. This allows it to benefit from cards like Strength of Arms and Valiant Determination to act in multiple phases, for example. A 5 Defense/5 Health Ally also is unlikely to die to an unfortunate shadow, meaning you can heal off the damage and reuse it. And worst case scenario, losing a buffed ally isn’t as consequential as losing a buffed hero. And you can have three of them at once.

However, it requires a significant investment in deckbuilding to make it work.

  • David – 3
  • Dave – TBR
  • Grant – TBR
  • Ted – TBR
  • Matt – TBR
  • Average – 3

4P Ranger Summons by David Renaud

This deck was part of my four player fellowship running all the “shuffle into the encounter deck” events.

Main Deck

Hero (3)
Amarthiúl (The Battle of Carn Dûm)
Bard son of Brand (The Wilds of Rhovanion)
4P Ranger Summons by David Renaud This deck was part of my four player fellowship running all the “shuffle into the encounter deck” events. Brand son of Bain (The Wilds of Rhovanion)

Ally (18)
3x Guardian of Esgaroth (The Withered Heath)
2x Knight of Dale (The Dungeons of Cirith Gurat)
3x Long Lake Fisherman (The Withered Heath)
3x North Realm Lookout (The Wilds of Rhovanion)
3x Redwater Sentry (The Wilds of Rhovanion)
1x Wiglaf (Roam Across Rhovanion)
3x Wild Stallion (Roam Across Rhovanion)

Attachment (23)
2x Ancestral Armor (Roam Across Rhovanion)
2x Bow of Yew (The Wilds of Rhovanion)
3x Hauberk of Mail (The Wilds of Rhovanion)
3x King of Dale (The Wilds of Rhovanion)
2x Raiment of War (The Thing in the Depths)
3x Round Shield (Mount Gundabad)
2x Squire’s Helm (The Withered Heath)
3x Steward of Gondor (Core Set)
3x Valiant Determination (The Ghost of Framsburg)

Event (9)
3x Campfire Tales (The Hunt for Gollum)
3x Ranger Summons (The Lost Realm)
3x Traffic from Dale (The Wilds of Rhovanion)

3 Heroes, 50 Cards
Cards up to Mount Gundabad

Sideboard

Ally (3)
3x Ranger of the North (The Lost Realm)

Deck built on RingsDB.

September 2021 Solo League by Alonewolf87

This isn’t my deck, but includes the general ideas that I would bring into a solo build of the deck.

Main Deck

Hero (3)
Bard son of Brand (The Wilds of Rhovanion)
Brand son of Bain (The Wilds of Rhovanion)
Frodo Baggins (Conflict at the Carrock)

Ally (22)
2x Gandalf (Core Set)
3x Guardian of Esgaroth (The Withered Heath)
3x Long Lake Fisherman (The Withered Heath)
3x North Realm Lookout (The Wilds of Rhovanion)
3x Redwater Sentry (The Wilds of Rhovanion)
3x Rhovanion Outrider (Temple of the Deceived)
2x Warrior of Dale (The Wilds of Rhovanion)
3x Wild Stallion (Roam Across Rhovanion)

Attachment (20)
2x Bow of Yew (The Wilds of Rhovanion)
3x Hauberk of Mail (The Wilds of Rhovanion)
3x King of Dale (The Wilds of Rhovanion)
3x Map of Rhovanion (The Wilds of Rhovanion)
3x Spare Hood and Cloak (Over Hill and Under Hill)
3x Squire’s Helm (The Withered Heath)
3x Valiant Determination (The Ghost of Framsburg)

Event (8)
3x A Test of Will (Core Set)
2x The Galadhrim’s Greeting (Core Set)
3x Traffic from Dale (The Wilds of Rhovanion)

3 Heroes, 50 Cards
Cards up to The Ghost of Framsburg

Decklist built and published on RingsDB.

Fellowship of the Ring

  • Player Card Categories 
    • Willpower Bonus

A very thematic Saga only card that has a pretty big drawback and some opportunity cost.

Background

Title of the first book in trilogy. Also name given to the company charged with destroying The One Ring.

Card Theme

The mechanism here is very thematic as the company is very strong when they are together. The willpower bonus highlights their determination as they traveled from Rivendell through Moira and Lothlorien to Argonath. The Fellowship was broken when Boromir tried to take the Ring forcing Frodo to leave the Fellowship, and shortly after Boromir is killed protecting Merry and Pippin from the Uruk-hai. This card reflects that by forcing it be discarded if a character is destroyed.

Card Synergies and Interactions

Willpower Based Abilities

There are certain cards that provide a bonus based on a character’s willpower stat. Prime among them is Rosie Cotton. Her ability provides great flexibility and can help in both questing and combat with a Fast Hitch to ready her. Note this assumes you play her with Messenger of the King or Sword-thain to benefit from Fellowship of the Ring’s bonus. Spirit Aragorn while his ability seems lackluster gets much better the more willpower he has. Especially if he has any sort of action advantage to quest and lower a location’s threat like the from the readying staple Unexpected Courage. He even has a couple thematic options. Strider in a Grey Wanderer deck or 2 hero deck lets him quest without exhausting. Thorongil can also give him the ability to ready by spending a resource from his Leadership version.

Rohan heroes also have a couple attachments that can take advantage of the willpower boost besides more than just questing. Herugrim applies that willpower to attack and Golden Shield applies it to defense. There is also one very notable attachment that can basically double the willpower bonus for a character, Nenya. Fellowship of the Ring will boost Galadriel hero’s willpower. Then exhausting Nenya to add her boosted willpower to another character that also has boosted willpower results in getting the bonus twice. It can be even tripled if Galadriel’s willpower is added to Rosie who then adds her boosted willpower to a Hobbit hero.

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 8 rings. It is limited to only the LOTR Saga scenarios by virtue of being a Fellowship sphere. It can’t even be used in all of them since Fellowship Aragorn doesn’t have the Ring-bearer trait. The very limited number of scenarios it can be used in makes it just not up for consideration in most decks despite its effect is fairly powerful. A global willpower boost is great. This in most decks will add 3 or 4 willpower which is really good for the 2 cost. Normally 2 willpower for 2 cost is nice and efficient as seen in many Spirit allies and Celebrian’s Stone. This is balanced with a significant drawback, it is discarded if a character is destroyed. There are already a number of encounter effects that can force an attachment to be discarded and this drawback only makes it harder to keep in play.

Then there is the consideration of what else Fellowship resources can be used for. The first Fellowship versions of Frodo have very powerful abilities. Canceling an encounter card or an attack are well worth 1 resource. Then to play Fellowship means foregoing these game saving effects for 2 rounds. Depending on how the scenario is going, this could be a large opportunity cost.

  • Dave – 6.5
  • Grant – TBR
  • Ted – TBR
  • Matt – 8
  • Average 7.25

External Links

Sample Decks

Hobbits BoF July 2020 Solo League by kattattack22

I made this deck for a solo league challenge to beat Flight to the Ford, Breaking of the Fellowship, and Mount Doom. It’s a fun voltron style deck that builds up the hobbit heroes than use an ally swarm. The various songs help smooth resources plus add willpower for Fireside Song to build up Pippin and/or Folco into super quester(s). Sam is meant to be a mega defender and Merry with his bonus is the primary attacker.

Main Deck

Hero (5)
Folco Boffin (The Dungeons of Cirith Gurat)
Frodo Baggins (The Mountain of Fire)
Merry (The Black Riders)
Pippin (Encounter at Amon Dîn)
Sam Gamgee (The Black Riders)

Attachment (37)
2x Celebrían’s Stone (Core Set)
2x Dagger of Westernesse (The Black Riders)
2x Expert Treasure-hunter (On the Doorstep)
2x Fast Hitch (The Dead Marshes)
2x Fellowship of the Ring (The Road Darkens)
2x Fireside Song (Beneath the Sands)
1x Gondorian Shield (The Steward’s Fear)
2x Hobbit Cloak (The Black Riders)
2x Ring Mail (The Long Dark)
2x Self Preservation (Core Set)
2x Silver Circlet (Wrath and Ruin)
1x Song of Battle (The Dead Marshes)
2x Song of Hope (The Black Serpent)
1x Song of Kings (The Hunt for Gollum)
1x Song of Mocking (The Dead Marshes)
1x Song of Travel (The Hills of Emyn Muil)
1x Song of Wisdom (Conflict at the Carrock)
2x Staff of Lebethron (The Land of Shadow)
2x Steward of Gondor (Core Set)
2x Strider (The Drowned Ruins)
2x Unexpected Courage (Core Set)
1x Windfola (A Storm on Cobas Haven)

Event (13)
1x A Test of Will (Core Set)
2x Deep Knowledge (The Voice of Isengard)
2x Drinking Song (Mount Gundabad)
2x Feint (Core Set)
2x Frodo’s Intuition (The Black Riders)
2x Power of Orthanc (The Voice of Isengard)
2x The Wizards’s Voice (The Voice of Isengard)

5 Heroes, 50 Cards
Cards up to Wrath and Ruin

Deck built on RingsDB.

The Road Darkens – Minimum Purchase 1 by Darkling Door

Deck made for The Ring Goes South using only The Road Darkens and the Core Set. See Darkling Door’s blog post for more details.

Main Deck

Hero (3)
Aragorn (Core Set)
Éowyn (Core Set)
Gandalf (The Road Darkens)

Ally (22)
2x Bilbo Baggins (The Road Darkens)
2x Faramir (Core Set)
3x Galadriel (The Road Darkens)
3x Guard of the Citadel (Core Set)
1x Henamarth Riversong (Core Set)
2x Lórien Guide (Core Set)
2x Silverlode Archer (Core Set)
3x Snowbourn Scout (Core Set)
2x Son of Arnor (Core Set)
2x Wandering Took (Core Set)

Attachment (13)
1x Celebrían’s Stone (Core Set)
3x Fellowship of the Ring (The Road Darkens)
3x Gandalf’s Staff (The Road Darkens)
2x Steward of Gondor (Core Set)
1x Unexpected Courage (Core Set)
3x Wizard Pipe (The Road Darkens)

Event (15)
2x Common Cause (Core Set)
2x Ever Vigilant (Core Set)
3x Flame of Anor (The Road Darkens)
2x Hasty Stroke (Core Set)
2x Sneak Attack (Core Set)
2x The Galadhrim’s Greeting (Core Set)
2x Valiant Sacrifice (Core Set)

3 Heroes, 50 Cards
Cards up to The Road Darkens

Sideboard

Hero (1)
Frodo Baggins (The Road Darkens)

Decklist built and published on RingsDB.

Ring around the Rosie (saga) by Chad Garlinghouse aka TheChad

short deck description

Main Deck

Hero (3)
Merry (The Wastes of Eriador)
Pippin (The Black Riders)
Sam Gamgee (The Black Riders)

Ally (18)
1x Bill the Pony (The Black Riders)
2x Celduin Traveler (The Nîn-in-Eilph)
3x Gandalf (Core Set)
2x Ithilien Lookout (The Dunland Trap)
3x Master of the Forge (Shadow and Flame)
1x Quickbeam (The Treason of Saruman)
3x Rosie Cotton (The Mountain of Fire)
1x Treebeard (The Antlered Crown)
2x Warden of Healing (The Long Dark)

Attachment (18)
1x Celebrían’s Stone (Core Set)
3x Fast Hitch (The Dead Marshes)
2x Fellowship of the Ring (The Road Darkens)
2x Fireside Song (Beneath the Sands)
3x Friend of Friends (The Mountain of Fire)
2x Resourceful (The Watcher in the Water)
1x Song of Hope (The Black Serpent)
1x Staff of Lebethron (The Land of Shadow)
3x Sword-thain (The Dread Realm)

Event (15)
3x A Test of Will (Core Set)
3x Elevenses (The Thing in the Depths)
3x Frodo’s Intuition (The Black Riders)
3x Sneak Attack (Core Set)
3x Timely Aid (The Redhorn Gate)

3 Heroes, 51 Cards
Cards up to The Mountain of Fire

Sideboard

Attachment (5)
3x Hobbit Cloak (The Black Riders)
2x Hobbit Pony (The Wastes of Eriador)

Decklist built and published on RingsDB.

Rhovanion Outrider – Community Review

by Nathan Ferraro

  • Player Card Categories 
    • Location Control
    • Willpower Bonus

Background

Honestly, my Dale lore isn’t great.

Editor’s Note: There’s not much to about the men of Dale that isn’t in The Hobbit. They are Northmen that came from the southern part of Rhovanion and built Dale when Thror re-established the Kingdom Under the Mountain. The city prospered with Erebor until Smaug attacked and destroyed Dale. After the events in the The Hobbit, Bard and his son Brand ruled the lands around Dale. During the War of the Ring, forces of Mordor invaded overrunning Dale. The men joined the Dwarves of Erebor and remained there under siege until news came of Sauron’s defeat.

Card Theme

The theme is quite nice. The scout helps to eliminate threat of locations in the distance. When needed for combat, he is mounted and ready.

Card Synergies and Interactions

He works great by himself. He is even better in a dale deck when having his willpower boosted or with other location-control cards.

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.

Rhovanion Outrider is often overlooked for Northern Tracker, but he is often superior. The ability to target a single location with his ability can get around exploring many locations that have “forced: when it leaves play” abilities. He is cheaper than Northern Tracker and often times actually provides even more willpower than the Tracker. He is very affordable in many spirit decks, not just Dale or Vilya decks. In solo or two-handed play, there often aren’t that many locations in the staging area anyhow. The outrider is my go-to location control these days.

  • Nathan – 2
  • Dave – TBR
  • Grant – TBR
  • Ted – TBR
  • Matt – TBR
  • Average – 2

Sample Deck

Love of the Halfling’s Leaf without circlets

Main Deck

Hero (3)
(MotK) Bilbo Baggins (Messenger of the King Allies)
Dáin Ironfoot (The Ghost of Framsburg)
Gandalf (The Road Darkens)

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

Ally (19)
1x Arwen Undómiel (The Watcher in the Water)
3x Ered Luin Miner (Temple of the Deceived)
1x Faramir (Core Set)
1x Firyal (The Mûmakil)
1x Gimli (The Treason of Saruman)
1x Glorfindel (Flight of the Stormcaller)
1x Legolas (The Treason of Saruman)
2x Northern Tracker (Core Set)
3x Rhovanion Outrider (Temple of the Deceived)
1x Súlien (The City of Corsairs)
1x Thalion (Fire in the Night)
3x Zigil Miner (Khazad-dûm)

Attachment (16)
1x Ancestral Armor (Roam Across Rhovanion)
1x Armor of Erebor (Mount Gundabad)
3x Dwarf Pipe (The Mûmakil)
1x Expert Treasure-hunter (On the Doorstep)
2x Gandalf’s Staff (The Road Darkens)
1x Hobbit Pipe (The Black Riders)
1x Shadowfax (The Treason of Saruman)
2x Spare Pipe (The Land of Sorrow)
3x Unexpected Courage (Core Set)
1x Wizard Pipe (The Road Darkens)

Event (18)
3x A Test of Will (Core Set)
3x Hidden Cache (The Morgul Vale)
3x Old Toby (The Black Serpent)
3x Smoke and Think (The Land of Sorrow)
2x Smoke Rings (The Black Riders)
2x Well-Equipped (The Blood of Gondor)
2x Will of the West (Core Set)

Player Side Quest (1)
1x Double Back (Escape from Mount Gram)

3 Heroes, 54 Cards
Cards up to The Land of Sorrow

Sideboard

Ally (3)
1x Lórien Guide (Core Set)
1x Northern Tracker (Core Set)
1x Treebeard (The Antlered Crown)

Attachment (2)
1x Inner Strength (Wrath and Ruin)
1x The One Ring (A Shadow in the East)

Event (1)
1x Well-Equipped (The Blood of Gondor)

Deck built on RingsDB.

Windfola – Community Review

by John McClellan

  • Player Card Categories 
    • Quest Control
    • Willpower Bonus

Background

I tried to pick a card that perhaps falls somewhere in the 6 – 8 Rings range. 1 Ring cards are easy to discuss, based on their versatility and lore, and 10s challenge the reviewer to come up with some possible use and to otherwise complain. Easy pickins! Anyhow, I tried to think of a card I have included sporadically and what it’s possible utilization could be.

Here comes Windfola. The reason I have placed this in the lower tier range of rings is due to the cons outweighing the pros. Let us explore:

Windfola is the steed Eowyn took to battle secretly in the ride of the Rohirrim to save Gondor at Pelennor Fields. It carried Eowyn and Merry up until encountering the Witch-King, whose screech made the horse go wild. The horse abandoned the pair, and as far as I can tell is not seen in the text again.

Card Theme

Now, let’s review how Windfola works in practice. First, he can only be attached to a spirit hero or to tactics Eowyn. Very appropriate so far. Now, it does exclude tactics Merry, which in gameplay is fine because it does not sync well with him. It also cannot be attached to ally Merry, which is just as well, as he works best if he can pop into play multiple times. Let’s examine, then, how well Windfola syncs with the three heroes most associated with him: Spirit Eowyn, Tactics Eowyn, and Spirit Merry.

Spirit Eowyn syncs very well with Windfola. First, Eowyn’s ability specifically targets her willpower,and she, in the vast majority of cases, will be questing. Windfola first gives a boost to her willpower and prevents her from being taken out of the quest. Further, Eowyn is hardly ever the target of restricted attachments beyond willpower boosts or quest specific items, so she is happy to take this cheap attachment as one of her two given restricted slots.

Tactics Eowyn is a bit of a different story. At this point, Windfola is out of sphere, so either another spirit hero is needed (precluding some other cross-sphere combo) , or some help is needed across the table. Tactics Eowyn definitely wants Golden Shield and isn’t necessarily the dedicated quester her spirit counterpart is. Sure, to bring her to solid combat readiness, you might need to bring Unexpected Courage or Herugrim, both of which are blue cards, but it might take a while on the list of cards before you get to Windfola. Worse yet, Windfola takes up that one restricted slot, and unless you are running Eowyn in a three hunters deck, you can pretty much kiss her usefulness outside the quest phase (save once per game) goodbye … which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, if you are setting her up as splash red hero who can quest. Still, Windfola doesn’t seem to mesh nearly as well with this version of Eowyn.

Spirit Merry is perhaps the worst candidate of the three. Spirit Merry thrives when he has his Hobbit Pony, as you would like to decide in the moment whether you would like a threat drop or need a little extra push in the quest phase. Windfola assumes you are going to quest with this hero without a shadow of a doubt. In fact, you are in such need of this hero to quest, you are willing to take a restricted slot in order to guarantee that hero stays committed, encounter cards be damned. Now, I should point out that if you are running an all-hobbit lineup, Windfola on Merry with Elevenses is a fairly decent combo.(Still, the action windows and card text prevent you from being able to trigger Merry in addition to Elevenses and Windfola at the same time). Still, reading the card text on Merry, Hobbit Pony, and Windfola shows that while it isn’t the worst combo in the world, you will be better off in all cases without one of the attachments.

Since Spirit Eowyn is the only efficient candidate of the five character choices associated with the lore of the card, I rate it low in this category.

One final note. I think Windfola is missing one clause that could bump it into 5 or even 4 ring territory. Right at the end, include the text, “Then, you may discard Windfola to ready the attached hero.” This line improves all of the four cons I’ve held against it: One, it is right in line with the lore: the steed abandons them right in time for battle, for which they are now ready. It sits well with a Tactics Eowyn with a Golden Shield or a Spirit Merry now ready to jump on the next enemy that flips from the encounter deck. The ability allows for an easy restriction removal, when appropriate, while giving the added benefit of a second action. Players would actually bring 3 copies of Windfola, hoping to trigger it multiple times to recommit and ready with a back up in hand. It behaves as a willpower boost and a conditional ready, improving its versatility. It had potential to be solid, albeit with a specific trigger in mind.

Card Synergies and Interactions

I’ve mentioned it already, but unless you are running a Forth! The Three Hunters contract or the Golden Belt, you are only working with two restricted attachments per hero. There are certainly restricted attachments that see less play than Windfola, but according to the Hall of Beorn, this is the 6th ranked restricted steed out of the 9 (I should note that the last place, Tireless Thoroughbred, is probably ranked lowest due to release date). These restricted slots are precious, and give way to some of the most powerful boosts in the game. The restricted guarded take an extra element to get into play but (1) cost the same as Windfola (2) usually give a bigger boost and (3) have an ability that is generally useful and not quest specific. Armored Destrier essentially gives two defenses, one for free, and two defenses are needed much more often than two quests from the same character. Most see some kind of conditional, secondary boosts that would have been great to see here (“+2 willpower if attached hero is Merry or Eowyn”).

I will admit later that the cost of 1-for-1 willpower is enough to convince individuals it’s worth including in decks. Addressing the issue of uniqueness, how many copies do you dare bring? I know this is a constant battle for unique cards but some uniques you don’t even question (Steward of Gondor, Gandalf’s Staff in a Gandalf deck, you get the drill). Once you play Windfola, what do you do with the next one you draw? Well, if you are playing with Spirit Eowyn, great, more willpower. That’s about it. You would love to see a 1-for-1 boost that could be stacked. This would be one of the best willpower attachments in the game. For now, you might sprinkle in a single copy, MAYBE two into a deck featuring a Spirit, questing hero.

Now it does have some good economic value. How often will you win a quest by one willpower? Perhaps more than you might think. “Just one more point… one more to clear that location… one more to clear that quest card. Come on, where can we find one more willpower? Anything??” Yes I think we have all said it. Said it enough times that when you are running a spirit quester, you glance at Windfola and it gives you pause. Should you just throw it in? Sure. One copy. Go. I know there are plenty of deckbuilders who cringe at that idea, who like to squeeze every last deck thinning card in. I am not one of those deckbuilders. I like to include some generic boosts. That being said, I usually will opt for 2-for-2 instead of 1-for-1 for no real reason. I find myself including 2 cost 2 willpower allies instead of Windfola.

How niche is it? Well, okay, in a Forth! The Three Hunters deck that includes a Spirit hero, Windfola is in auto-include. Why? Either its a 0-for-1 (and soon 2) deal, or it’s a 1-for-2 deal if the contract is flipped. That spirit hero is going to be questing for you, I am sure (unless…you brought Beregond?) and you don’t have the luxury of including 2-for-2 allies any more. You also cannot remove that hero from the quest… it would be devastating. Windfola keeps you Spirit Hunter dedicated to it.
Particular quests can devastate you with quest removal. Notice that Windfola doesn’t PREVENT quest removal, but allows it and then triggers a request. This nuance is important because if an encounter card allows you to remove a questing character as an option, take it! I am looking at Inner Flame and Inner Shadow from the Shadow and Flame quest, Stars in Sky from Druadan Forest, and I am sure there’s more.


Is someone bringing Elfhelm? And you have a spirit hero? Windfola without a question.
In a combo I’d like to see, other commit triggers also are re-established. Let’s just assume we can get Song of Travel on the appropriate heroes. Tactics Bilbo gets a massive willpower boost and can lay some serious damage in the staging area. Leadership Frodo can ready two heroes and lower your threat by two. Theodred can give more money, Lotheriel can get another ally into play, Eomer can strike again, and Legolas can ready another. It takes some finagling but for one cost, who wouldn’t want to try?

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.

In the end, you are not running this card without a spirit hero, and that has to earn it some rings out the gate. You ARE running this card if you are running a spirit questing hero in a three hunters deck, or against a scenario that has devastating hero removal from quests. It loses some rings from the bottom 10 for that. The economics allow for some splashing in spirit hero decks, and when you come back to Core Eowyn, you get a nod of approval from fellow players when they see you play Windfola on his rider.

  • John – 7
  • Dave – TBR
  • Grant – TBR
  • Ted – TBR
  • Matt – TBR
  • Average – 7

Forth, The Three Hunters! – Community Review

by Jonathan Gillies

  • Player Card Categories 
    • Healing
    • Willpower Bonus

Background

The contract references Aragorn, Gimli, and Legolas pursuing the Urak-Hai after the breaking of the fellowship in The Two Towers.

Card Theme

This card harkens back to the core of The Lord of the Rings where a few brave souls can change the fate of the world. Rather than relying on hordes of allies swarming. Your three heroes must be brave and bold enough to risk this journey alone. But are given significant aid from the Valar and their gifts (cost-reduction), blessings (willpower boosting) and their healing (yeah still healing). I can really see how the developers wanted to create that feeling of a small band of heroes working alone to overcome the armies and traps of the enemy as they sprint across locations.

Card Synergies and Interactions

This contract combos with strong heroes that can get the most out of its boosting by being capable fighters and questers. As such it requires and works best with as much readying as you can throw at it: Leadership Aragorn, Spirit Legolas, Leadership Frodo, and Sam Gamgee are all excellent candidates for this contract. Arguably and ironically (since he is dead by the time of this contract’s namesake) Tactics Boromir is the best hero to make this really work with his ability to ready often throughout all phases of the game and help you with hide, escape, sailing, fortitude, racing and other tests. He’s always ready for you.

Anything else that helps with giving your few characters more actions such as Light of Valinor, Unexpected Courage x3, Shadowfax, Magic Ring, Steed of the North, Steed of the Mark, Rohan Warhorse (lots of mounts here), readying events and all of those delicious food-readying items are key to include.

Heroes that draw cards will help you get this contract flipped sooner and Erestor can do often do it round 1.

This deck excels in most quests because it completely ignores any effects that harm allies. And while you get to entirely avoid any treacheries, enemies or other hindering affects that target allies, this also can make quests where you have an objective ally you have to protect become extremely hard and create more auto loss events. Likewise when you are always defending with heroes shadow effects that discard the defending character are often game over in that moment.

Also Pelennor Fields, while beatable, absolutely requires having Will of the West in your starting hand as you have no allies to be put into play. Meaning your entire deck is discarded on the second phase and you skip right to the third much harder one. Also Wind-Whipped Rain and other discard all attachments you control are game-Enders. But still overall the benefits far outweigh the negatives of this contracts deck-building requirements. Also Ranger Summons or other players sending you their allies (looking at you Rider of the Mark and Blue Mountain Trader) is a great way to sneak in some allies into your deck. As there is no restriction on side B of the contract or gaining allies through other means.

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.

Alright hear me out here. I have been playing a Forth, The Three Hunters Gandalf, Spirit Legolas and Tactics Boromir deck for a solid year and a half now as I have been taking on every single quest in the game with the same deck, no changes or substitutions. And I can honestly say that this card is a 1, it’s the one contract to rule them all.

Firstly it completely opens up a new style of play that wasn’t really practical before. This is something the contracts were meant to do generally, but this one takes the cake for sheer power and changing up the game to the point that it almost feels like a different game entirely. Traditionally in our lovely game you are trying to build up an ally swarm as quickly as you can and then once you have raised the shire (or perhaps all of middle earth) you can casually walk through the game with your horde of allies both unique and not. This contract limits you to your three heroes only, and suddenly this game shifts from a classic strategy game horde builder to a classic dungeon crawler. This also feels so much more thematic as often it’s the work of a few heroes against the forces of the enemy that wins the day. You have to choose strong heroes because that’s all you have to take on the horrors of the enemy. Then with your heroes you slowly progress through the quest looking for more loot (oops I mean items, loot is another deck right?) to make your heroes stronger. Once you have two restricted attachments per hero suddenly your heroes becomes super powered, charged with willpower bonuses and by the end your fully levelled up mecha-warrior heroes battle their way to the finish.

Now next let’s talk about power, Bond of Fellowship is great to start with an extra hero, and Perilous Voyage helps with card draw and some crazy fun on the B side, but this contract is hands down the strongest of the lot. You are given an cost reduction of 1 for each of your heroes first restricted attachment EACH ROUND! That is essentially three free resources a round (or 4 with saga heroes) if your deck is full of restricted items (which it should be!). Helping to increase your board state is incredibly helpful and just ask Beregond how much he likes his cost reduction. So three extra resources a round of purchasing power is a great way to accelerate the often most difficult part of quests which is getting your engine going. And if you aren’t hurting for questing too badly you can even delay flipping your contract a few rounds to further utilize this early game acceleration.

But what happens when you flip that contract? All of a sudden you get a willpower boost for EACH restricted attachment on your heroes. And 2-4 extra willpower per hero makes questing a breeze for the second half of the game. Also you get the added benefit of a built in healing of 1 on each of your heroes a round. This greatly boosts your characters survivability as you have no chump blocking allies around.

But wait there’s more! While attachment-hating quests can completely ruin your burglar’s turn decks, and Escape From Dol Guldur ends your grey wandering before it begins, this contracts negative is actually a benefit. Think about the standard flow of the game traditionally. You are trying to increase your board state to build up your engine and then power through the quest as you deal with enemies that pop up and clear locations. The encounter deck always wants to attack you by filling the staging area with locations, swarming you with enemies (or strong attacks/damage), stealing your cards/resources, blocking your questing and finally attacking your board state. So many treachery cards and enemies specifically target allies. As they assume every player has some. When you don’t have allies at all, then a good chunk of the encounter deck more often then not will simply miss in their attempts to hurt you. This gives you more time to further build up your board state and be able to crush whatever remains.

One must also talk about the weaknesses of this contract to balance out the sheer power of it. And while you get to entirely avoid any treacheries, enemies or other hindering affects that target allies, this also can make quests where you have an objective ally you have to protect become extremely hard and create more auto loss events. Likewise when you are always defending with heroes shadow effects that discard the defending character are often game over in that moment.

Also Pelennor Fields, while beatable, absolutely requires having Will of the West in your starting hand as you have no allies to be put into play. Meaning your entire deck is discarded on the second phase and you skip right to the third much harder one. Also Wind-Whipped Rain and other discard all attachments you control are game-Enders. But still overall the benefits far outweigh the negatives of this contracts deck-building requirements. Also Ranger Summons or other players sending you their allies (looking at you Rider of the Mark and Blue Mountain Trader) is a great way to sneak in some allies into your deck. As there is no restriction on side B of the contract or gaining allies through other means.

When playing with this contract you do need to make sure you have a ton of readying so Unexpected Courage x3, Shadowfax, Magic Ring, Heroes that ready other heroes, and all of those delicious food-readying items are key to include. And Tactics Boromir is permanently glued to this contract for me for all of the cards that need you to exhaust a character outside do the traditional questing and fighting phases including but not limited to hide, sailing, and escape tests.

All in all this contract is the best example of how one single card can completely change how a game is played, how it feels and how it turns a novelty idea in the before-contract times into one of the most powerful archetypes in the game. That is why this card is a 1 to me and it’s extremely hard for me to not just always want to build another Forth, Three Hunters deck.

*for reference,
https://www.ringsdb.com/decklist/view/18333/thethirdagegba3hunterstheonedeck-2.0

TLDR: This contract completely changes the entire gameplay feel, takes the teeth out of the encounter deck since there are no allies to harm, and gives you crazy early game resource acceleration and second half power questing.

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

The Third Age GBA (3 Hunters THE ONE DECK!) by Christian_Medic

this is the deck I have beaten every single non-nightmare quest in the game with, and a share of nightmares that I have as well:

Main Deck

Hero (3)
Boromir (The Dead Marshes)
Gandalf (The Road Darkens)
Legolas (The Sands of Harad)

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

Attachment (38)
1x A Burning Brand (Conflict at the Carrock)
1x Arod (The Treason of Saruman)
2x Blade of Gondolin (Core Set)
1x Blood of Númenor (Heirs of Númenor)
1x Captain of Gondor (The Antlered Crown)
3x Dagger of Westernesse (The Black Riders)
2x Dwarven Axe (Core Set)
1x Favor of the Valar (The Battle of Carn Dûm)
1x Gandalf’s Staff (The Road Darkens)
3x Golden Belt (Challenge of the Wainriders)
1x Gondorian Fire (Assault on Osgiliath)
3x Gondorian Shield (The Steward’s Fear)
1x Light of Valinor (Foundations of Stone)
1x Livery of the Tower (The Flame of the West)
1x Magic Ring (The Crossings of Poros)
1x Miruvor (Shadow and Flame)
1x Raiment of War (The Thing in the Depths)
1x Rohan Warhorse (The Voice of Isengard)
1x Shadowfax (The Treason of Saruman)
1x Silver Circlet (Wrath and Ruin)
1x Steed of the Mark (The Morgul Vale)
1x Steward of Gondor (Core Set)
1x Strider (The Drowned Ruins)
1x Unexpected Courage (Core Set)
2x Unexpected Courage (Two-Player Limited Edition Starter)
1x Vigilant Guard (A Storm on Cobas Haven)
2x War Axe (The City of Ulfast)
1x Wizard Pipe (The Road Darkens)

Event (10)
1x Dwarven Tomb (Core Set)
1x Elven-light (The Dread Realm)
1x Foe-hammer (Over Hill and Under Hill)
3x Open the Armory (The Dungeons of Cirith Gurat)
1x Power of Orthanc (The Voice of Isengard)
2x The Galadhrim’s Greeting (Core Set)
1x Will of the West (Core Set)

Player Side Quest (2)
1x Double Back (Escape from Mount Gram)
1x Gather Information (The Lost Realm)

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

Decklist built and published on RingsDB.

Leadership Elfhelm

Elfhelm gives stat-boosts to heroes with mount attachments
  • Player Card Categories 
    • Willpower Bonus
    • Attack Bonus
    • Defense Bonus

Background

If you’re solely a LOTR fan of the Peter Jackson films you may be wondering who this “Elfhelm” guy is and why you haven’t heard of him before. Well, that is because they pretty much cut him out of the story for the theatrical release. In the books he has a much more prominent role. Elfhelm eventually became the Marshal of the East-Mark. He was present at the Battle of the Ford of Isen where Theodred had fallen to the forces of Isengard. He later appears in Rohan’s ride to Gondor and fights in the Battle of Pelennor fields. While riding to Gondor he is actually aware of Eowyn’s presence and even supplies her with Theodred’s sword – the sword which would inevitably become the Witch-King’s demise. In the lore we see Elfhelm riding to and fro, making haste to where his king, or Gandalf, needs him most. This is presumably the theme behind his card abilities as well as his stats clearly boost the heroes around him.

Card Theme

Elfhelm is a lord of Rohan. And like any faithful Rider of the Mark he is well-trained in the art of horseback combat. It’s only natural that a lord of Rohan synergizes with the mount sub-archetype. While this sub-archetype is not as fleshed out as the typical Rohan discarding archetype it does have its benefits. Especially if you appreciate passive, versatile abilities. With Elfhelm you get a +1 boost hero to stats when that hero is equipped with a mount attachment. With the exception of Lore, each hero on the table with an attached mount will get at least one stat boost correlating to their sphere. This has the potential to increase hero stats dramatically for all players. Whether you’re building for an epic multiplayer Helm’s Deep game, or just “horsing” around solo, Elfhelm has his place on the table. Or in the stable? Okay, enough with the dad jokes… let’s “mount” up and see what Elfhelm has to offer.

Card Synergies and Interactions

Thematic Deckbuilding Ideas

Elfhelm’s hero version is pretty cut-and-dry in that mounts are needed to make him work. This concept is great in terms of theme and lore. Rohan is unique and powerful in Middle-Earth because of their horseback capabilities. Elfhelm helps reinforce this by rewarding the use of mounts. This reward comes in the form of +1 attack for Tactics heroes, +1 willpower to Spirit heroes, and +1 defense to Leadership heroes. A noteworthy mention is that his ability specifically excludes the Lore sphere. I have seen many people talk about house ruling the inclusion of the Lore sphere to include +1 HP. There is only one Lore Rohan “hero” which is Grima. This could be an indicator his intention may be to boost his Rohirrim comrades. You know, the ones who are not corrupt. While mount cards are what make him work, a potential drawback is how Elfhelm’s ability relies on extra cards to make him work. This can take up valuable deck space. Luckily, there are many useful mount-traited cards in the game. Not all of them are Rohan-themed though there are many thematic options. More on that later.

If you are going for a thematic Elfhelm/Mount deck you are obviously making room in your deck for mounts. Another common strategy is to include Song cards to grant additional spheres for heroes. I see this as particularly thematic when you envision a Rohirrim charge and the accompanying battle cries and chants. For that reason, song cards not only help boost an Elfhelm deck but align with a thematic Rohirrim charge. Much like what we see in the infamous scene of the “Ride of the Rohirrim” in the lore. It is fitting then that Burst into Song is in sphere with Elfhelm, boasts Rohan artwork, and has an incredibly thematic quote from the books:

“And then all the host of Rohan burst into song, and they sang as they slew, for the joy of battle was on them, and the sound of their singing that was fair and terrible came even to the City.”

Okay, now a show of hands: who wants to immediately go and build a thematic Elfhelm/Rohan deck after reading that? I know I do.

Deckbuilding Considerations

We already know Elfhelm can really only work when you give dedicated space in your deck to mounts. Count a few more spaces dedicated to songs and perhaps another two for Burst into song. Here we see the biggest limitation to Elfhelm decks – he requires a LOT of deck space to make him truly thrive. With this being the case, I see him as a great multiplayer hero where you can be the support role. You bring all the mounts and songs and your entire fellowship can benefit. When deciding to bring Elfhelm you will undoubtedly need to answer the question, “Are the mounts going to offer that much of an advantage to justify their use.” Let’s evaluate some thematic options as well as some other popular hero choices to see if Elfhelm can really help them.

Mounts

Rohan has many mounts specific to them. They are all worthy of adding into an Elfhelm deck. Notable cards include:

Snowmane: Give Theoden his steed, boost his willpower, and allow him to get ready for combat. If you use his Tactics version you get an even better combat boost. 

Armored Destrier: Use on Elfhelm himself to boost his defense stat and offer shadow cancellation. Better yet, give it to his buddy Erkenbrand for better stats and advantage.

Firefoot: Could Eomer possibly become a more powerful attacker? Why, yes he can! Because he gets an additional attack if you equip him with Firefoot thanks to Elfhelm.

Rohan Warhorse: What’s that? Giving Eomer more attack with Firefoot wasn’t enough and you want him to attack twice? Or you want to slap it on Tactics Eowyn for a double 11 attack swing? Rohan Warhorse can make it happen!

Windfola: The queen of questing, Spirit Eowyn, gets an extra willpower for one resource. That allows her to accrue two willpower for one resource and a guarantee she will not be removed from any questing thanks to Windfola’s ability. 

Steed of the Mark: A great option for whoever wins the “I get to use Steward of Gondor” debate. 

Not all of your fellowship will be using Rohan of course. Some of the best non-Rohan and mount synergies include:

Arod: For any tactics hero to boost attack and improve the chances of gaining that extra progress token. 

Armored Destrier: Denny and this steed are good friends. Elfhelm is also in sphere for this card if playing solo. 

Asfaloth: Especially for Spirit Glorfindel.

Hobbit Pony: especially for Spirit Merry with Fast Hitch or Unexpected Courage.

Firefoot: Basically any Tactics hero. But Grimbeorn loves him the most!

Shadowfax: Make Gandalf stronger (when equipped with his ring).

Roheryn and Steed of the North: Aragorn loves his horses as much as any of his other toys. He will be boosted an additional stat (attack) if you use Roheryn on his Leadership or Spirit versions. 

Non-Mounts

Song of Battle/Kings/Travel: Grant additional spheres for heroes for extra stat boosts. 

Burst into Song: Nearly an auto include if you run songs. Use it after defending but before attacking. After all, who doesn’t like singing while they slay? 

Westfold Horse-Breeder: Great mount search and acceleration. 

Charge of the Rohirrim: Even more boosts for heroes with mounts?! What are you waiting for? Ride out and meet them!

Forth, The Three Hunters: This contract *elevates* Eflhelm significantly in solo. I’d argue Three Hunters actually makes Elfhelm not only viable in solo, but close to top tier. You don’t have to worry about putting allies on the board and can focus solely on mounts and songs. No to mention Elfhelm becomes a good dedicated defender with Armored Destrier in a Three Hunter’s build. 

Sword-Thain: You get another hero with boosted stats if you attach a mount.

Quest Specific

Given the stat-boosting nature of Elfhelm’s ability you could throw him into any scenario. I personally think he does not play great in solo unless you run him in a Three Hunter’s deck. There are many scenarios which simply do not allow for setup time. If you are running three spheres it becomes even more difficult to accomplish this and get allies on the table. In my experience this ends up being overwhelming (location lock or enemy swarming) and sometimes frustrating.I would argue that Elfhelm shines most in a multiplayer game where he can throw his boosts around the table. So long as others are including mounts in their decks Eflhelm’s ability only increases in strength with higher player counts. This might make epic multiplayer games that much more epic. It’s this type of versatility that allows Elfhelm to potentially excel in most scenarios rather than specializing in any one. With a little coordination your fellowship can gauge what types of mounts and songs are best suited for the scenario and voilà! You’re ready to ride!

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.

  • Dave – 8
  • Grant – 6
  • Ted – 5
  • Matt – 5
  • Joe – 6
  • Average – 6

I have to give Elfhelm a 6 overall. It pains me because I’m clearly biased towards loving Rohan cards. The fact of the matter is he just is not a top tier hero and is often too cumbersome in solo. I will say he is a strong multiplayer hero. As long as another player can offer combat help in the early stages of the game Elfhelm could be a deciding factor in whether or not victory is achieved. The contrast for grading solo vs. multiplayer is quite a large spread for me. I’d give him a 6 for solo (Forth, Three Hunters! saves him from a 7) and a 4 for multiplayer. Unfortunately for Elfhelm, he rides as a middle-of-the-road hero at the end of the day. Still, he is a fun hero to play in the right circumstance!

Sample Decks

Rohan’s Mighty Hunters by The BGamerJoe

A thematic Rohan 3 hunters deck featuring Elfhelm as the defender.

Main Deck

Hero (3)
Elfhelm (Temple of the Deceived)
Éowyn (Core Set)
Théoden (The Morgul Vale)

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

Attachment (39)
3x Ancestral Armor (Roam Across Rhovanion)
3x Ancient Mathom (A Journey to Rhosgobel)
3x Armored Destrier (Temple of the Deceived)
1x Celebrían’s Stone (Core Set)
1x Dúnedain Warning (Conflict at the Carrock)
3x Golden Shield (The Flame of the West)
2x Herugrim (The Treason of Saruman)
2x Round Shield (Mount Gundabad)
2x Silver Circlet (Wrath and Ruin)
1x Silver Harp (The Treachery of Rhudaur)
3x Snowmane (The Land of Shadow)
2x Song of Travel (The Hills of Emyn Muil)
2x Steed of the Mark (The Morgul Vale)
3x Unexpected Courage (Core Set)
3x War Axe (The City of Ulfast)
3x Warrior Sword (The Ghost of Framsburg)
2x Windfola (A Storm on Cobas Haven)

Event (11)
3x A Test of Will (Core Set)
2x Elven-light (The Dread Realm)
3x Foe-hammer (Over Hill and Under Hill)
3x Well Warned (The Sands of Harad)

3 Heroes, 50 Cards
Cards up to The City of Ulfast

Sideboard

Attachment (5)
3x Raiment of War (The Thing in the Depths)
1x Silver Harp (The Treachery of Rhudaur)
1x Steed of Imladris (Across the Ettenmoors)

Event (6)
3x Sterner than Steel (The Flame of the West)
3x The Galadhrim’s Greeting (Core Set)

Player Side Quest (1)
1x Rally the West (The Black Serpent)

Decklist built and published on RingsDB.

Earth, Wind, and Firefoot by TheChad

A Grimbeorn + Firefoot deck using Elfhelm’s bonus and other attachments to power up Grimbeorn’s attack.

Main Deck

Hero (3)
Elfhelm (Temple of the Deceived)
Éowyn (Core Set)
Grimbeorn the Old (The Withered Heath)

Ally (17)
3x Arwen Undómiel (The Watcher in the Water)
2x Beorn (Core Set)
3x Beorning Skin-changer (The Withered Heath)
2x Gandalf (Core Set)
2x Giant Bear (Fire in the Night)
2x Honour Guard (The Wastes of Eriador)
3x Westfold Horse-breeder (The Voice of Isengard)

Attachment (25)
3x Ancient Mathom (A Journey to Rhosgobel)
1x Arod (The Treason of Saruman)
1x Dúnedain Remedy (The Drowned Ruins)
3x Firefoot (The Dunland Trap)
1x Hauberk of Mail (The Wilds of Rhovanion)
1x Miruvor (Shadow and Flame)
2x Necklace of Girion (The Wilds of Rhovanion)
3x Orcrist (Fire in the Night)
1x Snowmane (The Land of Shadow)
1x Song of Kings (The Hunt for Gollum)
1x Steed of Imladris (Across the Ettenmoors)
3x The Day’s Rising (The Antlered Crown)
2x Unexpected Courage (Core Set)
2x Windfola (A Storm on Cobas Haven)

Event (6)
2x Hasty Stroke (Core Set)
1x Quick Strike (Core Set)
3x Sneak Attack (Core Set)

Player Side Quest (2)
1x Double Back (Escape from Mount Gram)
1x Gather Information (The Lost Realm)

3 Heroes, 50 Cards
Cards up to Fire in the Night

Sideboard

Hero (1)
Hirgon (Beneath the Sands)

Ally (3)
3x Wild Stallion (Roam Across Rhovanion)

Attachment (9)
3x Armored Destrier (Temple of the Deceived)
3x Steed of the Mark (The Morgul Vale)
3x Steward of Gondor (Core Set)

Event (6)
3x Beorn’s Rage (The Withered Heath)
3x Open the Armory (The Dungeons of Cirith Gurat)

Decklist built and published on RingsDB.

Stone of Elostirion

Guarded (location). Restricted.

Attach to a hero. Attached hero gets +2  [willpower].

You draw 1 additional card during the resource phase.

Stone of Elostirion is the latest of the player Guarded X attachments introduced in Ered Mithren cycle and only one of two released in Vengeance of Mordor. I think there is a strong case that it is the most playable of the Guarded X attachments with a lot of appeal to variety of players. The Guarded (location) mechanism provides Pippin players some opportunities to exploit location control combos with this card. Those combos provide means to basically negate the effects of adding another location. The automatic extra card per turn combined with a willpower boost is a powerful combination that a Boromir player can appreciate. While Bilbo players can enjoy the deep dive into Middle Earth stemming from the card’s background to theme.

Background

The Stone of Elostirion as indicated by the card art, is one of the palantiri. It was a rather unique one at that considering it was not linked to the others. Instead, it only looked West to Varda. It resided in one of three towers at the aptly named Tower Hills that was part of the former nation of Arnor. It was still there during the stated timeframe of the game between The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings as it left Middle Earth with the ringbearers. Gildor Ingolorian when he meet Frodo and company in Fellowship of the Ring, reportedly was returning from a visit to the stone with his company of elves. Although, this is not specifically mentioned within the text of their meeting.

Card Theme

The mechanics of this card fit right into the its background from the books. It being guarded by a location is perfect considering wandering companies of Elves would travel to the Tower Hills just to see it. Their hope to see Elbereth as Gildor and his company sing of is inspiring to them represented by the willpower boost of +2.

Palantir

The other thematic element to this card is the potential knowledge one can gain from through the different palantiri. Generally, knowledge in the game is represented by card draw. This is consistent with the other Palantir player cards (except for the Saga boon). The Palantir attachment allows players to exhaust it to possibly draw cards. The Seeing Stone is very targeted card draw for a card with Doomed. One noticeable difference between these two and Stone of Elostirion is the others come at the cost of direct threat gain. Stone of Elostirion could cause threat gain from questing unsuccessfully, but it doesn’t instantly raise threat for its card draw effect. This fits since it was not linked to the other palantiri . The Stone then didn’t carry the risk of Sauron spying or influencing people through the palantir in his possession.

Thematic Deckbuilding Ideas

  • Leadership or Lore Gildor Inglorion
    • He is the one that actually visited the Stone.
    • The Stone is in sphere with his ally version
    • Either version has location control options to help play Stone more easily (see Card Syngeries and Interactions section)
  • Frodo Baggins (Leadership hero especially)
    • Represents the Frodo leading his friends through the Shire evading the Black Riders
    • In sphere with Marnier’s Compass
  • Sam
  • Merry
  • Pippin
  • Wandering Exile
    • Many bands of elves traveled Eriador in the Third Age were called wandering companies.
    • Gildor calls his company of elves exiles in his meeting with Frodo.
  • Other non-unique Noldor allies
    • Gildor and his wandering companies of elves are identified by Frodo as high elves, but only Gildor is referenced by name.

Card Synergies and Interactions

Discard Location Effects

Guarded X cards come under a player’s control as soon as they’re “free of encounters” This means that players cards that discard the guarding location in play are generally the fastest and easiest way to get The Stone of Elostirion. Marnier’s Compass chief among them considering it only requires a leadership or scout character, it is repeatable, and can be done with the location in the staging area. Distant Stars, Short Cut, and Heirs of Eärendil all work as well, but the required character traits are not as broad. Distant Stars and Short Cut also require you can travel to the guarding location.

Direct Location Progress

Another way to accelerate getting Stone of Elostirion under your control is placing progress without having to quest. Cards like Asfaloth, Northern Tracker, Spirit Aragorn Hero, Mirkwood Explorer, Arod that can place progress on locations in the staging area are generally better. Many quests have locations that limit this method. There are others that place progress on the active location that still can help clear the guarding location faster, such as, Tactics Legolas Hero, Lórien Guide, and Steed of Imladris.

Automatic Card Draw

There are three heroes in the game that also have draw additional card(s) effects like the Stone, Lore Bilbo hero, Erestor hero, and Círdan the Shipwright. They will have the player draw 7 cards (and discard 1) each resource phase. Once the stone is out it can get up to 8 cards. This set up with the Perilous Voyage Contract a player could potentially draw the entire 100 card deck in 12-13 turns.

Quest Specific

Temple of the Deceived is the ideal scenario to play this card. All the locations are placed out as a map and there are none in the encounter deck. Once the Stone is played, the player fails to find any locations and gain control of it immediately.

Ring Ratings

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 Stone of Elostirion at 3 rings. It has 2 pretty powerful and widely useful effects on it. An additional card per turn means more options for what a player can do on their turn. The 2 willpower stat boost isn’t as exciting as the card draw, but it is a great value. Allies with 2 willpower at 2 cost are efficient for sending to the quest. The Stone only costs 1 resource and gives the same amount of additional willpower.

The other cost in adding a location to the staging area, is significant. This can be bypassed, mitigated, or even negated if build for it as mentioned in the card synergies section. Many of those cards are even in the same sphere as the Stone. Those location control cards do take up valuable deck space, but without them then when you play the card is key. Usually once the player deck is established and gaining ground in the mid to late game. Then it is in danger of becoming a “win more” card because you may not really need the willpower and card draw. It is that point in the game, however, when that extra card could be more valuable in keeping a deck from stalling out.

The quest being played will make it more or less playable as well. Many later quests prevent or limit location control strategies or have terrible locations that be extremely difficult to deal with. Besides Temple of the Deceived there will be others with locations that are not much of an issue to deal with. Others like Dungeons of Cirith Gurat encourage “voltron” builds that focus on building up the heroes with attachments. Stone of Elostirion is one of few player cards options with a +2 willpower boost and help boost the deck’s questing capability.

That all said, Stone of Elostirion is certainly powerful but has drawbacks to match. This is why a 3 seems appropriate. It will get considered for every deck I build with Lore because of its 2 widely useful effects. It may not make the final list because it can be tricky to play, don’t have the deck space for some location control, or the quest has troublesome locations. If I rated purely on power or how playable it is, I could see giving it a 4 or 5 rating. It gets an extra boost from me for interactions with location control and the theme. This card added more details to the meeting of Gildor and the Hobbits in Fellowship of the Ring for me. Prior to this review, I thought this was the Palantir Saruman had and was mistaken in that. This game continues to expand my knowledge and relationship to the stories of Middle Earth. I appreciate this card more as a result.

  • Dave – 3
  • Grant – 3
  • Ted – 4
  • Matt – 3
  • Average – 3.25

External Links

Sample Decks

Guarded-o-rama by Card Talk Dave

A Forth the Three Hunters deck with Tactics Bilbo, Leadership Eomer, and Tactics Eoywn focusing on getting Guarded cards to be free of encounter cards.

Main Deck

Hero (3)
Bilbo Baggins (Mount Gundabad)
Éomer (The Mountain of Fire)
Éowyn (The Flame of the West)

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

Attachment (39)
3x Cram (Over Hill and Under Hill)
3x Dagger of Westernesse (The Black Riders)
1x Durin’s Axe (Wrath and Ruin)
2x Firefoot (The Dunland Trap)
3x Golden Belt (Challenge of the Wainriders)
2x Golden Shield (The Flame of the West)
2x Gúthwinë (The Mountain of Fire)
1x Magic Ring (The Crossings of Poros)
2x Mariner’s Compass (The Grey Havens)
1x Mithril Shirt (The Fate of Wilderland)
1x Necklace of Girion (The Wilds of Rhovanion)
3x Rohan Warhorse (The Voice of Isengard)
2x Spear of the Citadel (Heirs of Númenor)
3x Steward of Gondor (Core Set)
1x Sting (Mount Gundabad)
1x Stone of Elostirion (Under the Ash Mountains)
1x The Arkenstone (The Withered Heath)
1x Thorongil (The Fortress of Nurn)
3x War Axe (The City of Ulfast)
3x Warrior Sword (The Ghost of Framsburg)

Event (12)
3x Bilbo’s Plan (The Land of Sorrow)
3x Foe-hammer (Over Hill and Under Hill)
3x Open the Armory (The Dungeons of Cirith Gurat)
3x The King’s Return (The Fate of Wilderland)

3 Heroes, 51 Cards
Cards up to The Fortress of Nurn

Scout’s Honor by Uruk-Guy

Scout themed multiplayer support deck with many direct location progress effects.

Main Deck

Hero (3)
(MotK) Haleth (Messenger of the King Allies)
Aragorn (The Fortress of Nurn)
Legolas (The Sands of Harad)

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

Ally (14)
2x Dunedain Pathfinder (Race Across Harad)
2x Firyal (The Mûmakil)
2x Forest Road Traveler (Fire in the Night)
1x Haleth (The Fortress of Nurn)
2x Mirkwood Explorer (The Thing in the Depths)
2x North Realm Lookout (The Wilds of Rhovanion)
2x Rhovanion Outrider (Temple of the Deceived)
1x Súlien (The City of Corsairs)

Attachment (31)
3x Ancient Mathom (A Journey to Rhosgobel)
2x Dúnedain Pipe (The Black Serpent)
3x Elf-stone (The Black Riders)
2x Leather Boots (Fire in the Night)
2x Light of Valinor (Foundations of Stone)
2x Map of Rhovanion (The Wilds of Rhovanion)
2x Mirkwood Long-knife (The Sands of Harad)
1x Mithril Shirt (The Fate of Wilderland)
2x Necklace of Girion (The Wilds of Rhovanion)
2x Ring of Barahir (The Steward’s Fear)
1x Silver Circlet (Wrath and Ruin)
1x Silver Harp (The Treachery of Rhudaur)
1x Stone of Elostirion (Under the Ash Mountains)
1x Thorongil (The Fortress of Nurn)
2x Unexpected Courage (Core Set)
1x Warden of Arnor (The Three Trials)
3x Woodmen’s Clearing (The Withered Heath)

Event (11)
3x A Test of Will (Core Set)
2x Desperate Defense (The Flame of the West)
3x Elven-light (The Dread Realm)
2x Scouting Party (Temple of the Deceived)
1x The Galadhrim’s Greeting (Core Set)

3 Heroes, 56 Cards
Cards up to The Fortress of Nurn

Sideboard

Ally (3)
1x Mirkwood Runner (Return to Mirkwood)
1x Rider of Rohan (Beneath the Sands)
1x Warden of Healing (The Long Dark)

Attachment (2)
1x Protector of Lórien (Core Set)
1x Silver Circlet (Wrath and Ruin)