Ranger Bow

  • Player Card Categories Willpower Bonus
    • Direct Damage
    • Staging Area Attack
    • Ally Attachment

A tool for Ranger decks looking to dispatch enemies in the staging area which is easier said than done.

Background

The flavor text points the Ranger Bow as those carried by the Rangers of Ithilien. In fact, the text is from when Frodo and Sam first met the rangers after their capture:

If they were astonished at what they saw, their captors were even more astonished. Four tall Men stood there. Two had spears in their hands with broad bright heads. Two had great bows, almost of their own height, and great quivers of long green-feathered arrows. All had swords at their sides, and were clad in green and brown of varied hues, as if the better to walk unseen in the glades of Ithilien. Green gauntlets
covered their hands, and their faces were hooded and masked with green, except for their eyes, which were very keen and bright.

The Two Towers, Book 4, Chapter 4: Of Herbs and Stewed Rabbit

It is later revealed these rangers are selected from people descended from Ithilien’s former residents. They secretly cross the Anduin to engage in guerilla tactics to harry the forces of Mordor.

Card Theme

The direct damage into the staging area is very thematic to the Rangers of Ithilien. Their job is set up ambushes and harass the enemy at every opportunity then fade away back into their secret hiding places. Keeping low threat or otherwise avoiding engaging enemies to damage them outside of direct combat represents their tactics very well.

Card Synergies and Interactions

Cheap Ranger Allies

The Ranger Bow of course requires a ranger character to use it. While ranger heroes are certainly an option, allies are better as heroes tend to have strong stats or abilities that require them to exhaust. Top ally candidates are Guardian of Ithilien, Ithilien Tracker, Ithilien Lookout, and Andrath Guardsman. All are or can be 1 or 2 cost making them cheap to play. Aside from Ithilien Lookout, they all have 1 stat scores that won’t be terribly missed if exhausted to use the bow.

Guardian of Ithilien is the first choice since can help get an enemy back up into staging but after it enters play, its utility is diminished. It could be useful for a chump block but with a Ranger Bow it provides more value turn after turn. The one direct damage into the staging area can allow it to damage an enemy on its own. It it kills an enemy, this could possibly reduce threat in the staging area for some pseudo questing.

Ithilien Tracker is a good second choice also with its one attack that won’t be missed. It’s ability can be hit or miss since it is an action that has to be triggered prior to staging. Ithilien Lookout is another useful inclusion for a secrecy deck with its cost lowered to one. While it has a more useful 2 attack than the others, the bow is a good option for it while avoiding engagements. Andrath Guardsman similar to the Guardian of Ithilien loses utility once played. The bow gives it some ongoing utility.

Engagement Control, Threat Reduction, and Return to Staging Area

All of these types of cards can help keep enemies in the staging area for Ranger Bow. The method just differs slightly. Engagement control cards like Take No Notice, Advance Warning, Mablung ally, and Lore Pippin hero, Noiseless Movement, and Rohirrim Scout either increase the engagement cost of enemies or prevent engagement.

Threat reduction helps keep you below the engagement of enemies so they don’t come down at all. In Lore with Ranger Bow there are only 2 options, but they’re great. Woodmen’s Clearing at 0 resource cost can lower your threat by 3 once the location it is attached to is explored. Location control effects are quite prevalent in Lore making this fairly easy to do. Lore Aragorn, which I like to think of as Strider because of the art, is the other option. His refresh action to reset your threat to its starting level is the biggest threat reduction effect in the game. Of course these are not the only options even in mono-Lore. There are a couple neutral options like core set Gandalf ally and Keen as Lances that work well too. There are more neutral cards and in other spheres. I’ll cover them later as they overlap with other synergies.

If you can’t avoid engagement there are cards to return them to the staging area. Guardian of Ithilien is a great double duty card here. It sends an enemy back up to the staging area and is a ranger for the Ranger Bow to go on. Best case is you’ve damaged an enemy the previous round, return it to the staging area with Guardian, and then shoot it dead with Ranger Bow. Another double duty card is Fastred hero. Not only will he send an enemy back, but he will also reduce threat for doing so.

Ithilien Archer and Terrible to Behold are other options but are just not worth it. The archer is expensive at 3 cost. It’s 2 attack usually isn’t going to damage an enemy on its own. If you can damage an enemy, you might as well try to kill it since that means the attack already has been defended. Terrible to Behold at least cancels the attack and returns it, but as the cost of exhausting a Noble character. At that point you might as well have defended the attack.

Hobbits

Hobbits can work quite well with the bow. They offer some of the lowest threat cost heroes in the game, additional threat reduction, and engagement control. Particularly in the Lore sphere with Ranger Bow. As mentioned earlier, hero Pippen its chief among them for increasing engagement cost of enemies per Hobbit hero you control. Folco Boffin also in the lore sphere is a great choice because his threat cost can be 4 when you’re running only Hobbit Heroes. Plus he can be discarded for an emergency threat reduction. The last in sphere option, Bilbo Baggins, is less optimal than others considering his 9 threat cost. He’s not bad when paired with Pippin and Folco for 19 starting threat, and more card draw is never a bad thing.

A couple of the spirit Hobbit Heroes also have very useful abilities to to pair with Ranger Bow. Spirit Merry with his threat reduction ability can help keep Heroes below the engagement cost of enemies. Spirit Pippin can send an enemy back up to the staging area to make it a target for the Bow. They also provide Spirit access for many threat reduction cards like Galadhrim’s Greeting, Smoke Rings, and the more Hobbit specific Elvenses. Lastly but certainly not least is The Shirefolk if using all Hobbits.

Robin Smallburrow offers another way to increase engagement cost of enemies. It’s a bit conditional with having to travel, but the increase by quest points can be significant. Particularly in later cycles when locations were given more quest points to counter direct location progress effects like Asfaloth.

Other Direct Damage and Staging Area Attack

Ranger Bow dealing only 1 damage means it is unlikely to kill an enemy in a single turn. Even with 2 or 3 copies out unless you’re playing earlier scenarios where enemies could have 1 or 2 hit points like Shadows of Mirkwood, Darrowdelf, or The Hobbit Saga. More cards with these effects make this strategy more effective and consistent. Heroes like Thalin from the Core Set, Argalad, and Tactics Bilbo can all do a direct damage to enemies in the staging area. Argalad besides being in sphere is the most flexible as his ability is an action that can be triggered after staging. Bilbo and Thalin on the other hand have to quest to get the damage. A number of allies also have direct damage effects typically from entering play like the Core Set Gandalf, Descendent of Thorondor, Galadhon Archer, and Rumil. There are some thematic options as well with Forest Patrol, Poisoned Stakes, Leadership Anborn ally, Arrows from the Trees, and Lore Faramir ally.

The other route is to use heroes that can attack directly into the staging area either to soften up or finish off targets of the Ranger Bow. Haldir hero, Dúnhere and Leadership Éomer all have staging area attack built in. They also have the staging area attack specific attachments, Bow of the Galadhrim and Spear of the Mark, to make them very effective at attacking into the staging area. Great Yew Bow and Hands Upon the Bow can allow any ranged hero to attack into the staging area as well.

Quest Specific

Ranger bow will really shine against enemies like the Core Set’s Goblin Sniper and Khazad-Dum’s Orc Drummer. High engagement cost, low hit points, and an incredibly annoying ability while they’re in the staging area. Little surging enemies in later cycles similar to Ered Mithren’s Stray Goblin are also good targets. It creates action advantage by not having to defend them and gets a little threat out of the staging area.

Quests to not bring the Ranger Bow against are definitely Intruders in Chetwood, Dungeson of Cirith Gurat, and Helm’s Deep. Intruders in Chetwood enemies can’t be damaged while Orc War Party is in play. The quest starts with one in play and there are 2 others in the encounter deck. More often than not, enemies won’t be able to take damage. In Dungeons of Cirith Gurat, enemies guarding objectives are immune to player card effects during stage 1. They’re often guarding objectives since they will capture allies as objectives. The second stage when the players have to avoid engaging enemies for 2 turns Ranger Bow would be great, except they’re all immune to damage. Helm’s Deep many of the enemies have the toughness X keyword that cancels the first X damage any time damage is dealt to them. Ranger Bow’s damage then will just get canceled every time it is used against 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 Ranger Bow at 7 rings. It can be useful, but you have to build in some encounter control, low threat, or return to staging area effects to use continually. Otherwise, it just softens up enemies when engaged and there are attack boosting attachments that would be a better use of deck space. The 1 direct damage isn’t enough to kill an enemy at least every other turn without 2 copies in play. This direct damage also is generally outclassed by staging area attack. Dunhere, Haldir, and Leadership Eomer can all get their attack up to kill an enemy in a single turn with a couple attachments. It is not unplayable, but the card pool generally has better options for what this is trying to do.

  • Dave – 8
  • Grant – 9
  • Ted – 7
  • Matt – 7
  • Average – 7.75

External Links

Sample Decks

Ye Olde Ranger Trap Deck by Matt Duckworth

The main idea is enemy manipulation in staging. The focus is to either trap enemies as they come into play, or use Ithilien Archer or Mablung to bounce select enemies you engage back into traps in staging. As you are laying traps and trapping enemies, Damrod functions to both accelerate resources and fuel additional card draw. The main attack power comes from Faramir, who is boosted both by sticking enemies in staging with low threat and Ranger Spikes, as well as equipping Dagger of Westernesse.

Ye Olde Ranger Trap Deck

Main Deck

Hero (3)
Damrod (The Land of Shadow)
Faramir (Assault on Osgiliath)
Mirlonde (The Drúadan Forest)

Ally (22)
2x Anborn (The Blood of Gondor)
2x Gandalf (Over Hill and Under Hill)
1x Henamarth Riversong (Core Set)
2x Ithilien Archer (Encounter at Amon Dîn)
2x Ithilien Lookout (The Dunland Trap)
2x Ithilien Tracker (Heirs of Númenor)
3x Mablung (The Land of Shadow)
3x Master of the Forge (Shadow and Flame)
2x Mirkwood Pioneer (The Nîn-in-Eilph)
3x Rivendell Minstrel (The Hunt for Gollum)

Attachment (23)
2x Ambush (The Land of Shadow)
2x Dagger of Westernesse (The Black Riders)
2x Forest Snare (Core Set)
2x Ithilien Pit (Encounter at Amon Dîn)
2x Poisoned Stakes (The Blood of Gondor)
2x Protector of Lórien (Core Set)
2x Ranger Bow (Assault on Osgiliath)
3x Ranger Spikes (Heirs of Númenor)
3x Secret Vigil (The Lost Realm)
1x Song of Battle (The Dead Marshes)
2x Wingfoot (The Nîn-in-Eilph)

Event (6)
2x Distant Stars (Escape from Mount Gram)
2x Forest Patrol (Assault on Osgiliath)
2x Mithrandir’s Advice (The Steward’s Fear)

Player Side Quest (1)
1x Scout Ahead (The Wastes of Eriador)

3 Heroes, 52 Cards
Cards up to The Black Riders

Decklist built and published on RingsDB.

Smoke Screen Alliance by Matt Kell (kattattack22)

A Ranger Hobbit Last Alliance deck also featuring Pipes. General game plan is mulligan for Hobbit Pipe(s). Multiple if possible. Once some Hobbit Pipes are in play use the threat reduction events to draw cards. Last Alliance provides some resource acceleration throughout the game. Smoke and Think helps pay for the high cost Ranger allies.

Main Deck

Hero (3)
Aragorn (The Watcher in the Water)
Frodo Baggins (Conflict at the Carrock)
Pippin (Encounter at Amon Dîn)

Contract (0)
1x The Last Alliance (ALeP – Children of Eorl)

Ally (20)
1x Bilbo Baggins (The Road Darkens)
2x Cautious Halfling (Wrath and Ruin)
2x Curious Brandybuck (The Wastes of Eriador)
2x Gaffer Gamgee (Mount Gundabad)
3x Guardian of Ithilien (The City of Corsairs)
2x Ithilien Tracker (Heirs of Númenor)
1x Mablung (The Land of Shadow)
2x Northern Tracker (Core Set)
1x Odo Proudfoot (Under the Ash Mountains)
2x Ranger of Cardolan (The Wastes of Eriador)
1x Robin Smallburrow (The Drowned Ruins)
1x Sam Gamgee (The Thing in the Depths)

Attachment (13)
3x Dúnedain Pipe (The Black Serpent)
3x Hobbit Pipe (The Black Riders)
3x Ranger Bow (Assault on Osgiliath)
3x Spare Pipe (The Land of Sorrow)
1x Thorongil (The Fortress of Nurn)

Event (18)
3x Deep Knowledge (The Voice of Isengard)
3x Drinking Song (Mount Gundabad)
3x Smoke and Think (The Land of Sorrow)
3x Smoke Rings (The Black Riders)
3x The Galadhrim’s Greeting (Core Set)
3x The Shirefolk (Mount Gundabad)

3 Heroes, 51 Cards
Cards up to ALeP – Children of Eorl

Sideboard

Hero (5)
Aragorn (Core Set)
Aragorn (The Lost Realm)
Aragorn (The Fortress of Nurn)
Frodo Baggins (A Shadow in the East)
Pippin (The Black Riders)

Ally (14)
2x Bilbo Baggins (The Road Darkens)
1x Cautious Halfling (Wrath and Ruin)
1x Curious Brandybuck (The Wastes of Eriador)
2x Elladan (The Mountain of Fire)
2x Elrohir (The Mountain of Fire)
1x Gaffer Gamgee (Mount Gundabad)
1x Odo Proudfoot (Under the Ash Mountains)
1x Ranger of Cardolan (The Wastes of Eriador)
1x Robin Smallburrow (The Drowned Ruins)
1x Sam Gamgee (The Thing in the Depths)
1x Súlien (The City of Corsairs)

Event (7)
3x Elrond’s Counsel (The Watcher in the Water)
3x Old Toby (The Black Serpent)
1x Will of the West (Core Set)

Deck built on RingsDB.

Ranger Bow Target Practice by Jim H (teamjimby)

A Secrecy deck with scrying and card draw to support using Ranger Bow.

Main Deck

Hero (3)
Glorfindel (Foundations of Stone)
Mirlonde (The Drúadan Forest)
Pippin (The Black Riders)

Ally (19)
1x Bilbo Baggins (The Road Darkens)
3x Celduin Traveler (The Nîn-in-Eilph)
3x Guardian of Ithilien (The City of Corsairs)
2x Henamarth Riversong (Core Set)
3x Ithilien Lookout (The Dunland Trap)
1x Ithilien Tracker (Heirs of Númenor)
1x Mablung (The Land of Shadow)
3x Master of the Forge (Shadow and Flame)
2x Warden of Healing (The Long Dark)

Attachment (16)
1x Asfaloth (Foundations of Stone)
1x Hobbit Pipe (The Black Riders)
3x Light of Valinor (Foundations of Stone)
3x Poisoned Stakes (The Blood of Gondor)
3x Ranger Bow (Assault on Osgiliath)
2x Ranger Spikes (Heirs of Númenor)
3x Resourceful (The Watcher in the Water)

Event (14)
3x A Test of Will (Core Set)
3x Daeron’s Runes (Foundations of Stone)
3x Elrond’s Counsel (The Watcher in the Water)
3x Risk Some Light (Shadow and Flame)
2x The Galadhrim’s Greeting (Core Set)

Player Side Quest (1)
1x Scout Ahead (The Wastes of Eriador)

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

Sideboard

Ally (1)
1x Warden of Healing (The Long Dark)

Attachment (3)
1x Asfaloth (Foundations of Stone)
1x Ithilien Pit (Encounter at Amon Dîn)
1x Ranger Spikes (Heirs of Númenor)

Event (4)
3x O Elbereth! Gilthonial! (Shadow and Flame)
1x The Galadhrim’s Greeting (Core Set)

Decklist built and published on RingsDB.

Secret Vigil

by Jason Meyer

  • Card Talk Episode TBD
  • Cycle
    • Angmar Awakened
  • Set
    • The Lost Realm 

  • Player Card Categories 
    • Staging Area Threat Reduction
    • Threat Reduction

Background

I suppose since the quote comes from Aragorn from The Fellowship of the Ring, it’s meant to bring one back to this idea of Dunedain Rangers keeping a vigil on the many Free Peoples. That’s a reassuring thought, when thinking of the many dangers outside the more populated areas of Hobbiton and Bree.

Card Theme

Thematically, it’s spot-on for me because it’s a Secret Vigil, observing an enemy in the staging area (so it’s seen as less of a Threat), and then while it’s engaged, one has determined some of its weak spots, and upon killing it, the death of such a high threat enemy has emboldened the cast of characters to regain some hope in their endeavor, and are able to move forward with less of that sense of impending doom that comes with much of Middle-Earth adventuring (at least in this game).

Card Synergies and Interactions

Bond of Friendship & Grey Wanderer Contracts

I would have liked this card to work better at helping one stay in Secrecy, but I’ve found that (to kill) an enemy while in Secrecy, I tended to have Hobbits or a Spirit Glorfindel; and it just hasn’t quite worked. Instead, I’ve liked this, like in my Bond of Friendship decks, for when I needed an extra Tactics card. Also, I’ve liked having this in some Grey Wanderer decks with a single hero that has high attack power (Legolas, Gandalf) to help me stay at pretty low Threat for a few more rounds.

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.

For only 1 Tactics resource, I’ve been finding this card to be pretty useful. It’s an attachment that can be played on any enemy, so if the (-1) Threat would be helpful in the Staging area (and often questing with Tactics is difficult) that’s good. But it can be attached to even an Engaged enemy, so if there’s an Ungoliant Spawn, Mumak, Giant Centipede, or some other high Threat enemy that is about to be killed, the Threat reduction kicks in. I know Dave is primarily a solo player, but I play 2-handed; and since Secret Vigil reduces EACH player’s Threat by that enemy’s printed Threat. In Tactics, Threat reduction is very beneficial. Also, that it’s a 1 cost, it has made its way into Bond of Friendship decks I’ve made. That the player can choose where it goes, makes it stand out from the typical attachments that can be put on enemies, so there’s less of a chance of this being accidentally attached to some 1-Threat enemy.

  • Jason – 5
  • Dave – TBD
  • Grant – TBD
  • Ted – TBD
  • Matt – TBD

External Links

Sample Decks

20210806_Bond_Dwarf by Jason Meyer

Main Deck

Hero (4)
Bifur (Khazad-dûm)
Dáin Ironfoot (Return to Mirkwood)
Nori (Over Hill and Under Hill)
Thorin Stonehelm (Wrath and Ruin)

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

Ally (21)
1x Bofur (Over Hill and Under Hill)
1x Bombur (Road to Rivendell)
1x Dwalin (On the Doorstep)
2x Dwarven Sellsword (The Drowned Ruins)
2x Erebor Hammersmith (Core Set)
2x Erebor Toymaker (Mount Gundabad)
2x Ered Luin Miner (Temple of the Deceived)
1x Fili (Over Hill and Under Hill)
2x Gandalf (Core Set)
1x Glóin (On the Doorstep)
1x Kili (Over Hill and Under Hill)
2x Longbeard Map-Maker (Conflict at the Carrock)
1x Miner of the Iron Hills (Core Set)
2x Veteran Axehand (Core Set)

Attachment (16)
2x Boots from Erebor (Khazad-dûm)
2x Cram (Over Hill and Under Hill)
2x Dwarrowdelf Axe (Khazad-dûm)
2x Secret Vigil (The Lost Realm)
2x Song of Battle (The Dead Marshes)
2x Song of Wisdom (Conflict at the Carrock)
1x Unexpected Courage (Core Set)
1x Warrior Sword (The Ghost of Framsburg)
2x Woodmen’s Clearing (The Withered Heath)

Event (13)
2x A Test of Will (Core Set)
1x Ancestral Knowledge (Khazad-dûm)
1x Beorn’s Hospitality (Core Set)
2x Bulwark of the West (The Crossings of Poros)
1x Dwarven Tomb (Core Set)
2x Feint (Core Set)
2x Hasty Stroke (Core Set)
2x Sneak Attack (Core Set)

4 Heroes, 50 Cards
Cards up to The Fortress of Nurn

A Test of Will

The staple Spirit card to rule them all.

Background

It’s difficult to point to a single character or event in the books that this would apply to because really its a theme in Lord of the Rings. Frodo’s will is consistently tested by the ring on the journey to Mordor. Gandalf and Galadriel are tempted but ultimately pass the test when Frodo offers it to them. Boromir’s will is eventually broken by its promise of a means to save his people. The will of the free peoples are tested as they are betrayed and beset on all sides against what seems overwhelming odds.

Card Theme

Treacheries in this game can be thought of like a plot twist. The game can seem to be heading in one direction then suddenly there is a Piercing Cry. The heroes must summon their will to fight off Dread and Despair. Their will is continually tested as the road darkens with the Devilry of Saruman and his Orcs of the White Hand. All the while resisting The Lure of the Ring until they reach the Foul Fumes of Mount Doom.

Card Synergies and Interactions

Encounter Control

A Test of Will can basically reduce the number of cards revealed in a turn by 1 as long as it is a treachery. Lore with Gildor’s Counsel can do in a more straightforward fashion. Lore also has many other ways to mitigate what the encounter deck can throw at the players. Out of the Wild and Scout Ahead can put the most punishing encounter card of the top 5 in the victory display. This can set up The Door is Closed to cancel not only treacheries (and their keywords which A Test of Will can’t do), but any encounter card in the victory display. None Return and Leave No Trace can ensure that a bad enemy or location that the players destroyed or explored doesn’t make a repeat appearance.

Additionally there are some encounter filtering effects like Lore Denethor in the core set that can put an encounter card on the bottom of the encounter deck. Risk Some Light does much the same except players can choose one of the top 3. The Hidden Way and Wait No Longer let players choose a location or enemy, respectively, from the top 5 cards to replace a card revealed during staging. Plus, these cards put the location in the active slot or engaged keeping staging area threat under control. Eleanor and Balin can also replace a treachery or shadow revealed. These filtering effects help players mitigate the randomness of the encounter deck bypassing the worst effects for ones that are hopefully easier to deal with. Players combining all of these cards can have a strong measure of control over the encounter deck as they’ll either always be choosing the least harmful effect or having the means to remove or cancel it.

Nonbos

There are a couple cards that seem like they should work with A Test of Will but don’t due to the timing framework.

Map of Eardindil

Map of Eardindil can’t be used to recur A Test of Will. It is an action to use the map to replay A Test of Will from the discard and there are no action windows during staging when most treacheries are revealed. It still doesn’t work even if you reveal a treachery during the Planning Phase when there are action windows presumably through something like A Desperate Path. This is because per FAQ 1.37 on timing of effects, “players should use this order of resolution: passive abilities first, Forced effects second, Response actions third”. Each effect has to pass their priority (to borrow some Magic: The Gathering terminology) before actions can be used. This means that by the time you can use Map of Earindil’s action, the window to play a response is closed.

A Good Harvest

As mentioned earlier, there isn’t any action windows during staging. If you planned to splash A Test of Will into a deck without a Spirit hero, A Good Harvest it won’t be able to help do so on as needed basis. A Good Harvest would have to be played before staging since it is an action either at the action window after 3.1 Quest Phase begins or 3.2 Commit characters to the quest. A risky play just for the chance to cancel a when revealed effect without some encounter scrying especially in lower player counts.

Quest Specific

A Test of Will will be useful in any quest since all of them still have treacheries with When Revealed effect. The Khazad-Dum cycle, however, it is almost a requirement to bring Test of Will. The Hazards of the Pit set that is part of many of the scenarios includes the notorious Sudden Pitfall that can easily take out a hero if there are no other questing characters to discard. Crumbling Ruin in the same set can also often result in the loss of an ally and even a hero if they don’t have an ally instead. Watchful Eyes also in one of the deluxe sets means many additional encounter cards or not being able to use a hero. Then there’s Road to Rivendell with not 1 but 2 terrible treacheries to watch out for. The infamous Sleeping Sentry that has ended many a game when A Test of Will is not available to cancel it. Then there’s Orc Ambush that as Ted pointed out in Superlative February covering the best and worst encounter cards not only can give bring a ton of enemies into play late game, but surges on top of it.

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.

There’s no denying A Test of Will is 1 ring rating card. One Spirit resource to stop some of the worst effects the encounter deck can do to players is amazing. Especially in the early cycles when the encounter design threw more varying levels of difficulty at players. Treacheries could act more like a “bomb” card for the encounter deck. Later cycles treacheries and the occasional when reveled on an enemy work more to grind away at a player’s board state, but canceling one that would take out a key part of it is still important.

  • Dave – 1
  • Grant – 1
  • Ted – 1
  • Matt – 1

External Links

Sample Deck

Really you can find just about any deck with a Spirit hero and some without that include Test of Will. There’s is one deck that takes encounter control to another level.

The Nope Deck by Qwaz

This is a multiplayer encounter control support deck. It runs Balin and Eleanor to provide ways to mitigate treacheries and shadows right off the rip. The full victory display suite to get ride of the worst encounter cards and double up on cancelation with both A Test of Will and The Door is Closed!

The Nope Deck

Main Deck

Hero (3)
Balin (On the Doorstep)
Damrod (The Land of Shadow)
Eleanor (Core Set)

Ally (3)
3x Errand-rider (Heirs of Númenor)

Attachment (14)
3x Forest Snare (Core Set)
3x King Under the Mountain (On the Doorstep)
3x Ranger Spikes (Heirs of Númenor)
3x Steward of Gondor (Core Set)
2x Thror’s Map (Over Hill and Under Hill)

Event (31)
3x A Test of Will (Core Set)
3x Daeron’s Runes (Foundations of Stone)
3x Deep Knowledge (The Voice of Isengard)
3x Gildor’s Counsel (The Hills of Emyn Muil)
3x Hasty Stroke (Core Set)
3x None Return (Across the Ettenmoors)
3x Out of the Wild (Road to Rivendell)
3x Power of Orthanc (The Voice of Isengard)
3x The Door is Closed! (The Treachery of Rhudaur)
3x We Are Not Idle (Shadow and Flame)
1x Will of the West (Core Set)

Player Side Quest (2)
1x Gather Information (The Lost Realm)
1x Scout Ahead (The Wastes of Eriador)

3 Heroes, 50 Cards
Cards up to The Land of Shadow

Sideboard

Ally (6)
3x Miner of the Iron Hills (Core Set)
3x Warden of Healing (The Long Dark)

Attachment (13)
3x A Burning Brand (Conflict at the Carrock)
3x Entangling Nets (Temple of the Deceived)
3x Song of Wisdom (Conflict at the Carrock)
3x Thrór’s Key (On the Doorstep)
1x Thror’s Map (Over Hill and Under Hill)

Event (9)
3x A Good Harvest (The Steward’s Fear)
3x Dwarven Tomb (Core Set)
3x Heed the Dream (Flight of the Stormcaller)

Decklist built and published on RingsDB.

Guided by Fate

  • Player Card Categories 
    • Encounter Control
    • Discard Pile

Finally a card that really enables player encounter cards like Ranger of the North, Winds from the Sea, Eagles of the North, and Tom Bombadillo!

Background

The phrase, “guided by fate” shows up in the Two Towers when Gishkanah is killed right before he can kill Merry and Pippin.

“Grishnákh flung himself on the ground flat, dragging the hobbits under him; then he drew his sword. No doubt he meant to kill his captives, rather than allow them to escape or to be rescued; but it was his undoing. The sword rang faintly, and glinted a little in the light of the fire away to his left. An arrow came whistling out of the gloom: it was aimed with skill, or guided by fate, and it pierced his right hand. He dropped the sword and shrieked. There was a quick beat of hoofs, and even as Grishnákh leaped up and ran, he was ridden down and a spear passed through him. He gave a hideous shivering cry and lay still.” – The Two Towers, Chapter 3: The Uruk-hai

This is a bit of deus ex machina with the well timed arrow and a random rider of Rohan saving the Hobbits from an untimely demise. The art of Gandalf and one of the Eagles is more representative of another bit of deus ex machina from The Hobbit. That is the eagles’ timely rescue of Bilbo, Gandalf, and Thorin’s Company from the trees they sought refuge in but their goblin pursuers had set fire to.

The title of this card alludes to a greater theme in Lord of the Rings of the roles of fate and free will. There are many instances where the choices the characters make end up serving a greater purpose. Bilbo a seemingly happy hobbit homebody chooses to join Thorin’s Company. In doing so finds a magic ring that had long remained hidden eventually leading to its destruction and that of Sauron. Radagast unwittingly lures Gandalf into Saruman’s trap for him. As a result of Gandalf’s eventual escape when Galadriel sends Gwaihir to look for him, they are alerted to Saruman’s treachery and fall into shadow. Aragorn to prove himself worthy of Arwen, works hard to become a leader of men and the true heir of Isildur. He then is just the leader Gondor needs as the Steward falls into madness and death to stand against Mordor and draw attention away from the ringbearer.

This is all built into Middle Earth. Nowhere more clearly than “The Music of Ainur” within The Simarillion that is Middle Earth’s creation myth. Iluvatar, the god figure, creates the Ainur from his thoughts to sing the song that would become Arda or Middle Earth. One of the most powerful of them, Melkor the the eventual big bad of the First and Second Ages, attempted to subvert and corrupt the song. Iluvatar, however introduces new themes that subsume Melkor’s music into them. After the song ends Iluvatar says about it,

“And thou, Melkor, shalt see that no theme may be played that hath not its uttermost source in me, nor can any alter the music in my despite. For he that attempteth this shall prove but mine instrument in the devising of things more wonderful, which he himself hath not imagined.” – The Simarillion, Ainulindale

It’s clear here that while the people and even spirits of Middle Earth have free will, it is all guided by fate to fit into the larger plan.

Card Theme

The card theme of the seeming fortuitous event that helps our heroes is extremely fitting. Especially as the mechanism makes the encounter player cards more likely to appear when they’re needed. That it is at the direction of the players reinforces the agency of fate in steering the ultimate destiny of Middle Earth. One seeming mismatch in theme is the art doesn’t correspond to the event in the books where the title is used. The art, however, ties into the eagles theme of player cards in Fire of the Eastement adventure pack. As mentioned earlier, the eagles also are often found to show up when needed most.

Card Synergies and Interactions

Player Encounter Cards

There are currently 4 events that can shuffle a set aside player card with the Encounter keyword, Ranger Summons, Flight of the Eagles, Flight to the the Sea, and Tom Bombillo!

Flight of the Eagles and the associated Eagle of the North given the eagle theme of the pack, are the main intended combo piece. They’re arguably the most useful pair of the player encounter cards. Flight of the Eagles is 0 resource cost and gets an eagle to leave play. This is a very useful effect for many eagle cards like Descendant of Thorondor, Meneldor, Eagles of the Misty Mountains, and Gwairhir (both hero and ally versions). On top of that, Eagle of the North is a strong attacking ally and good at questing especially for the generally willpower poor eagles and Tactics in general.

The other 3 events don’t do anything other than shuffle in a set aside card. Ranger of the North with its direct damage or progress can help get rid of a troublesome enemy or location. It’s stats are good and flexible and the ranged and sentinel gives it additional utility in multiplayer. Wind from the Sea is the only one with a shadow effect which makes for an interesting decision on when to use the action on Guided by Fate hoping to reveal it during staging or as a shadow card.

Encounter Control & Scrying

There are some player cards that can help make sure that whichever card Guided by Fate shuffled into the top 5 is the one revealed, or at least let a player know when to expect it. Denethor from the core set and Risk Some Light both are not let you see the top 1 and 3 cards, respectively but move a card to the bottom of the encounter deck. Firyal likewise can discard the first of the 5 encounter cards if it isn’t the desired one. Far-sighted will let a player see where the card is shuffled in at among the top 5. Henamarth Riversong and Rumor from the Earth only take a look at the top card, but for true solo players this is sufficient to determine if the card shuffled in by will be revealed during staging.

On the flip side, Guided by Fate can help set up certain encounter control cards. Prime among them are Wait No Longer and The Hidden Way. Guided by Fate’s action can ensure they do not whiff. Additionally the players can ensure that a weaker enemy or less troublesome location is put into play as well as revealing 1 less encounter card.

Dunedain Hunter and Pathfinder

Similar to Wait No Longer and The Hidden Way, a player can ensure these allies will always find an enemy or location and can enter play.

Victory Display

Out of the Wild and Scout Ahead combo really well with the action ability on Guided by Fate. Much like A Shadow of the Past, players can set up these cards to remove a particular card from the encounter deck since the encounter discard pile is public knowledge. Best part is it repeatable for victory display fellowships.

Quest Specific

Guided by Fate is a boon for quests with objective cards that don’t get shuffled back in when discarded or revealed as a shadow. The Hunt for Gollum and A Journey to Rhosgobel back in the first cycle are early examples with Signs of Gollum and Athelas objectives. Both are important to successfully completing the quest and having to discard one as a shadow can extend the game. In the case of the Athelas it could mean the difference in winning the scenario if the players can’t find enough to completely heal Wilyador.

The Ghost of Framsburg and The Ruins of Belegost are later quests where players are searching for Loot objectives and have the game go long if they’re discarded. The Ghost of Framsburg at least provides a location that can attach a Loot objective in the discard to an enemy. The Ruins of Belegost, however, Loot can only be found through the Discover X keyword. Locations with Discover have the players look at the top X cards to reveal 1 Loot Card and 1 Hazard card when it becomes the active location. If revealed any other way, they are just discarded. Guided by Fate can be a way get those Loot cards back into the deck right before the travel phase.

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 remember being very excited when I got Lost Realm for Ranger Summons and possibly getting a Ranger of the North from the encounter deck. A 2/2/2/3 ally for 1 cost seemed incredible. Playing it true solo, I learned you can’t count on it showing up particularly any time soon in a game. Guided by Fate fixes that issue for those cards and makes them much more playable. There are also a number of other use cases with encounter control cards, zero cost Dunedain allies, and quests where the players need to find certain objectives.

I rate Guided by Fate at 6 rings. All those use cases considered, they’re not universal. A more general application would be just to try recurring some less problematic encounter cards. I think, however, that the other encounter control options like Firyal, Denethor, or victory display cards would be better and more consistent at avoiding the worst the encounter deck has. Still if you’re going to run player encounter cards, this a fantastic enabler particularly for true solo players.

  • Dave – Thumbs up
  • Grant – Thumbs up
  • Ted – Thumbs up
  • Eric – Thumbs up
  • Matt – 6

A note on the podcast hosts’ ratings, when they recorded the episode on the card it was a spoiler. Fire in the Eastement had not released. They gave the card their spoiler impression thumbs up or thumbs down. It has subsequently come out, and I feel comfortable giving Guided by Fate a preliminary ring rating.

External Links

Sample Decks

Eagles and Dunedain by SchadenfreudeNE

A Dunedain and Eagles alliance featuring 2 Rangers of the North and an Eagle of the North.

Main Deck

Hero (3)
Alagos (ALeP – Fire on the Eastemnet)
Aragorn (The Lost Realm)
Faunith (ALeP – Fire on the Eastemnet)

Contract (0)
1x The Last Alliance (ALeP – Children of Eorl)

Ally (29)
2x Andrath Guardsman (The Mûmakil)
2x Chieftain of the Skies (ALeP – Fire on the Eastemnet)
2x Dúnedain Hunter (The Lost Realm)
2x Eagle Emissary (The Land of Sorrow)
3x Eagles of the Misty Mountains (Return to Mirkwood)
2x Meneldor (Roam Across Rhovanion)
2x Messenger of Manwë (ALeP – Fire on the Eastemnet)
3x Northern Bowmaster (Under the Ash Mountains)
3x Ranger of Cardolan (The Wastes of Eriador)
3x Vassal of the Windlord (The Dead Marshes)
2x Veteran Eagle (ALeP – Fire on the Eastemnet)
1x Wilyador (The Land of Sorrow)
2x Winged Guardian (The Hunt for Gollum)

Attachment (7)
3x Golden Crown (ALeP – Fire on the Eastemnet)
2x Guided by Fate (ALeP – Fire on the Eastemnet)
2x Support of the Eagles (Return to Mirkwood)

Event (14)
2x Breath of Arda (ALeP – Fire on the Eastemnet)
3x Flight of the Eagles (Roam Across Rhovanion)
3x Hidden Roosts (ALeP – Fire on the Eastemnet)
3x Ranger Summons (The Lost Realm)
3x The Eagles Are Coming! (The Hunt for Gollum)

3 Heroes, 50 Cards
Cards up to ALeP – Fire on the Eastemnet

Sideboard

Ally (6)
3x Eagle of the North (Roam Across Rhovanion)
3x Ranger of the North (The Lost Realm)

Decklist built and published on RingsDB.

Spirit Théoden

Théoden is the king of Rohan, and perhaps the king of cost reduction. He has a clear role of getting out your Rohan allies efficiently. As is commonly known, Rohan has a strong theme of discarding allies in exchange for card effects. Théoden helps soften the blow of losing an ally by having it cost less. Additionally, one can build up a good sized army of Rohan allies of any sphere with Théoden’s strong resource smoothing and cost reduction features. Let the mustering begin!

Background

Théoden king, the Lord of the Mark of Rohan. He is the seventeenth king of Rohan and plays a prominent role in The Lord of the Rings. During the war of the ring he is under the spell of Saruman before Gandalf shows to free him from said spell. After this he comes to his senses and immediately thwarts Rohan in action against the evil forces of Saruman, and then Sauron. He famously calls for the mustering of Rohan and eventually presses his Rohirrim forward to the Battle of Pelennor Fields. His iconic speech closes with battle cries of death. He does meet his own death in the fields of Pelennor and in doing so leaves behind a legacy of redemption and glory.

Card Theme

Thedoen’s ability matches his theme quite well, specifically the mustering theme. His ability allows a player to reduce the cost the first played Rohan ally to zero. This is much like his attempts to rally his army in Tolkein’s work. Théoden’s ability is not great by shear power, but by numbers. The idea here is a Rohan ally swarm attempting to get any able-bodied warrior into the battle. Such a theme mimics the desperation to form forces to fight the enemy in both the Battle of Helm’s Deep and Pelennor fields.

Thematic Deckbuilding Ideas

The beauty of deckbuilding with Théoden is he can be dropped in any thematic Rohan deck. In fact, there are pages upon pages of deck ideas on RingsDB demonstrating exactly this. He is going to fit best into a Rohan themed deck with many allies and some high-cost allies, ideally both. This is a huge bonus if you love running Rohan. Any time you can drop a Westfold Horse-breeder for 0 resources, or an Eomund or Gamling for 2 you’re at a major advantage. A Spirit Elfhelm for 3 resources? Yes, please.

Other than his high threat there’s hardly any reason to exclude him in a Rohan swarm deck. His sentinel ability makes him a great defender in multiplayer which also has a thematic flare of it’s own. While Théoden boasts great stats, his value does drop outside of Rohan themed decks due to his specialized nature. Dave and Grant explain more about this in the podcast episode.

Card Synergies and Interactions

Théoden is priviledged into having access to tools specific to him. Snowmane and Herugrim both have added bonuses if you attach them to Théoden. Golden Shield is another thematic fit. Théoden can host all three due to Snowmane losing the restricted keyword when attached to Théoden. It’s clear these were developed with him in mind. Snowmane provides a free readying ability barring a successful quest. Herugrim provides and awesome base of +2 attack bonus while Golden Shield provides a fortifying base of +2 defense bonus. An Unexpected Courage ensures Théoden can utilize both of his combat attachments.

Gamling and Guthwine‘s ability to recur Rohan allies sets Théoden for a nonstop swarm. Speaking of swarm, Mustering the Rohirrim can help dig for any Rohan ally within the top 10 cards of your deck. The one resource you spend doing this is negated by Theoden’s cost reduction.

Feel like making Theoden a powerhouse attacker? Add Herugrim to him as well as a Steward of Gondor and a Song of Hope. Boost that willpower and swing away. Do the same with Golden Shield.

Finally, we can refer to Card Talk’s episode on Théoden and Théodred. I love Dave’s (rather insistent) idea of using both heroes’ ability to double resource smooth. The Rohan swarm could be never-ending with this duo. Want to take it a step further? Add Grima for maximum resource smoothing.

Quest Specific

I’m not sure there’s any specific quest Théoden is going to excel in specifically. The only immediate exception I can think of is Voyage across Belegaer where Nárelenya essentially has the same ability as Théoden.

I might suggest staying away from quests which start off combat-heavy. The reason for this is Théoden’s high threat level. For example, we all know what we have to deal with turn one during Journey Along the Anduin if your threat is over 30. Even with a great cost reduction ability it’s hard to build a board state in a situation like this.

Ring Rating

I’d ring Théoden a 3. He’s reached elite status in Rohan decks but is lackluster outside the archetype. He has good stats and the sentinel ability to help his cause but its not enough to make him a versatile hero overall. He’s high specialized and highly effective in Rohan decks which is the primary reason I give him a three. I keep him at a three because there’s no reason to consider building with him outside the Rohan archetype unless you do some Three Hunter’s shenanigans. Oh, and I freely admit I’m quite partial to Rohan!

  • Dave – 4
  • Grant – 3
  • Joe – 3
  • Average – 3.33

External Links

Sample Decks

A Sword-day: Arise, Arise, Riders of Théoden! – Devaresh

A Rohan swarm deck featuring Théoden and his attachments.

A Sword-day: Arise, Arise, Riders of Théoden!

Main Deck

Hero (3)
Éomer (The Voice of Isengard)
Éowyn (Core Set)
Théoden (The Treason of Saruman)

Ally (23)
3x Elfhelm (The Mountain of Fire)
2x Éomund (Conflict at the Carrock)
2x Escort from Edoras (A Journey to Rhosgobel)
1x Gamling (The Land of Shadow)
3x Riddermark Knight (The Dungeons of Cirith Gurat)
2x Rider of Rohan (Beneath the Sands)
3x Steward of Orthanc (Race Across Harad)
2x West Road Traveller (Return to Mirkwood)
3x Westfold Horse-breeder (The Voice of Isengard)
2x Westfold Outrider (The Voice of Isengard)

Attachment (14)
3x Firefoot (The Dunland Trap)
2x Golden Shield (The Flame of the West)
3x Gúthwinë (The Mountain of Fire)
2x Herugrim (The Treason of Saruman)
2x Snowmane (The Land of Shadow)
2x Song of Kings (The Hunt for Gollum)

Event (13)
3x A Good Harvest (The Steward’s Fear)
1x Astonishing Speed (Return to Mirkwood)
3x Elven-light (The Dread Realm)
3x Keen as Lances (Escape from Mount Gram)
3x Open the Armory (The Dungeons of Cirith Gurat)

3 Heroes, 50 Cards
Cards up to The Dungeons of Cirith Gurat

Sideboard

Ally (15)
3x Déorwine (Temple of the Deceived)
3x Elfhelm (The Dead Marshes)
3x Gandalf (Core Set)
3x Háma (The Treason of Saruman)
3x Rider of the Mark (Road to Rivendell)

Attachment (4)
3x Favor of the Valar (The Battle of Carn Dûm)
1x Song of Kings (The Hunt for Gollum)

Event (6)
2x Hasty Stroke (Core Set)
2x Mustering the Rohirrim (The Hunt for Gollum)
2x Ride to Ruin (The Hills of Emyn Muil)

Decklist built and published on RingsDB.

Wise Horse Lords of Rohan – Card Talk

A Council of the Wise deck focused on swarming. This deck combos with Théodred for increased resource smoothing.

Wise Horse Lords of Rohan

Main Deck

Hero (3)
Éowyn (The Flame of the West)
Théoden (The Treason of Saruman)
Théodred (Core Set)

Contract (0)
1x Council of the Wise (Under the Ash Mountains)

Ally (22)
1x Ceorl (Temple of the Deceived)
1x Déorwine (Temple of the Deceived)
1x Elfhelm (The Mountain of Fire)
1x Éomund (Conflict at the Carrock)
1x Éothain (The Dread Realm)
1x Escort from Edoras (A Journey to Rhosgobel)
1x Gamling (The Land of Shadow)
1x Grimbold (The Flame of the West)
1x Guthlaf (The Blood of Gondor)
1x Háma (The Treason of Saruman)
1x Horseback Archer (Core Set)
1x Riddermark Knight (The Dungeons of Cirith Gurat)
1x Rider of Rohan (Beneath the Sands)
1x Rider of the Mark (Road to Rivendell)
1x Rohirrim Scout (Challenge of the Wainriders)
1x Snowbourn Scout (Core Set)
1x The Riddermark’s Finest (The Hills of Emyn Muil)
1x Warden of Helm’s Deep (The Antlered Crown)
1x West Road Traveller (Return to Mirkwood)
1x Westfold Horse-Breaker (The Hunt for Gollum)
1x Westfold Horse-breeder (The Voice of Isengard)
1x Westfold Outrider (The Voice of Isengard)

Attachment (8)
1x Armored Destrier (Temple of the Deceived)
1x Golden Shield (The Flame of the West)
1x Gúthwinë (The Mountain of Fire)
1x Herugrim (The Treason of Saruman)
1x Horn of the Mark (The City of Ulfast)
1x Snowmane (The Land of Shadow)
1x Unexpected Courage (Core Set)
1x Windfola (A Storm on Cobas Haven)

Event (23)
1x A Test of Will (Core Set)
1x A Very Good Tale (Over Hill and Under Hill)
1x Astonishing Speed (Return to Mirkwood)
1x Battle-fury (The Drowned Ruins)
1x Captain’s Wisdom (The Thing in the Depths)
1x Charge into Battle (Wrath and Ruin)
1x Charge of the Rohirrim (Celebrimbor’s Secret)
1x Desperate Defense (The Flame of the West)
1x Dwarven Tomb (Core Set)
1x Feint (Core Set)
1x Forth Eorlingas! (The Morgul Vale)
1x Gaining Strength (The Steward’s Fear)
1x Helm! Helm! (The Treason of Saruman)
1x Last Stand (Flight of the Stormcaller)
1x Mustering the Rohirrim (The Hunt for Gollum)
1x Parting Gifts (A Journey to Rhosgobel)
1x Ride Them Down (The Antlered Crown)
1x Ride to Ruin (The Hills of Emyn Muil)
1x Sneak Attack (Core Set)
1x Stand and Fight (Core Set)
1x The Muster of Rohan (Challenge of the Wainriders)
1x Valiant Sacrifice (Core Set)
1x We Do Not Sleep (The Dead Marshes)

3 Heroes, 53 Cards
Cards up to Under the Ash Mountains

Decklist built and published on RingsDB.

Fast Hitch

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

TL;DR It’s a Hobbit staple.

Background

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

Card Theme

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

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

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

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

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

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

Synergies and Interatcions

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

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

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

Stat Boosting

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

Ability Triggers

Characters with abilities you may want multiple uses of:

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

Peak Power

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

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

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

Rating, Conclusion

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

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

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

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

Grant: 3

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

Envoy of Pelagrir

  • Card Effect Categories 
    • Resource Acceleration
    • Resource Smoothing
    • Enters Play

A flexible cheap efficient ally that was necessary early in the life of the game. Now in the larger card pool, it’s a fine filler or resource smoothing card.

Background

Pelagrir is the primary coastal city of Gondor located along the Anduin. An envoy based or from Pelagrir makes sense as the envoy can board sailing or river ships to travel to many places in Middle Earth. Most notably in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, Aragorn lead the dead men of Dunharrow against the corsairs of Umbar that had taken the city.

Card Theme

Steward of Gondor back in the core set introduced the resource acceleration mechanism to the game. Heirs of Númenor as the first Gondor focused deluxe expanded on the Gondor trait having resource related mechanisms. Envoy of Pelagrir and Errand-Rider both gave it ways to move resources around. Wealth of Gondor gave it another acceleration option, and Leadership Boromir boosted ally attack while he had a resource. This is a nice way to represent the manpower and materials at Gondor’s command. It makes a lot sense as the kingdom was the largest and strongest of the free peoples during the later years of the Third Age.

Envoy of Pelagrir and Errand-Rider both provide another great thematic representation of the mechanism of moving resources from one hero to another. Both are traveling around and interacting with the various peoples of Middle Earth. The Pelargir Ship Captain, introduced later in the cycle, continued the thematic link of traveling allies with a resource smoothing ability that isn’t limited to just Gondor or Noble. Squire of the Citadel is another later example of the thematic link. Although it is not as obvious as the prior examples considering the squire would need to leave play first to basically move the resource to a different Gondor hero. Still a squire could be expected to run messages for their knight and it can tie in.

Card Synergies and Interactions

Gondor Global Boosts

Envoy is a pretty good value with 1 willpower and attack for essentially 1 resource. You can get more stats with Leadership Boromir hero or For Gondor! boosting its attack. Gondor has many good allies for combat.

I tend to think of Envoy as a cheap questing ally. Especially since it’s easy to boost its willpower with Visionary Leadership, Leadership ally Faramir, and even Sword that was Broken on Aragorn.

Bond of Friendship

The Envoy fits in well with this contract’s deckbuilding restrictions considering you have to include at least 5 neutral or Saga sphere cards. There aren’t as many neutral card options as the regular 4 spheres. It’s ability to smooth resources between Gondor and Noble heroes is even better value with the mandatory quad sphere build.

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 the Envoy at 5 rings because it is one the best filler cards. I could see a a strong argument for 4 on that basis. I just find that being a good or even great filler usually gets cut from my deck. In larger card pool, I often find better choices for the particular deck I’m building. Even Gondor swarm has many great cheap options that are competing for space like Solider of Gondor, Herald of Anórien, Defender of Rammas, or Knight of Belfalas.

When it came out, the Envoy was fantastic. It was just the kind of card the game needed for the small card pool, a flexible ally that could go in any deck. Also it could make your early game much better by giving a hero that one resource needed to play another card in the same turn especially in dual sphere decks. Now, there are better cheap allies for most decks and better resource smoothing options. It still is useful, but not as universally as it was back in Against the Shadow.

  • Dave – 5
  • Grant – 4
  • Ted – 5
  • Matt – 5
  • Average 4.75

External Links

Sample Decks

A Family of Leaders by emorlecallor

Main Deck

Hero (3)
Boromir (Heirs of Númenor)
Denethor (Flight of the Stormcaller)
Faramir (The Land of Shadow)

Ally (29)
1x Anborn (The Land of Shadow)
2x Citadel Custodian (Heirs of Númenor)
3x Envoy of Pelargir (Heirs of Númenor)
3x Errand-rider (Heirs of Númenor)
3x Gandalf (Core Set)
3x Herald of Anórien (Trouble in Tharbad)
1x Ingold (The Wastes of Eriador)
2x Pelargir Ship Captain (The Morgul Vale)
3x Squire of the Citadel (The Blood of Gondor)
3x Veteran of Osgiliath (Escape from Mount Gram)
2x Warden of Healing (The Long Dark)
3x White Tower Watchman (The Drúadan Forest)

Attachment (12)
3x Rod of the Steward (Flight of the Stormcaller)
3x Steward of Gondor (Core Set)
3x Tome of Atanatar (The Blood of Gondor)
3x Visionary Leadership (The Morgul Vale)

Event (10)
3x A Very Good Tale (Over Hill and Under Hill)
1x For Gondor! (Core Set)
3x Sneak Attack (Core Set)
3x Strength of Arms (The Drúadan Forest)

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

3 Heroes, 52 Cards
Cards up to Flight of the Stormcaller

Decklist built and published on RingsDB.

Leadership Éomer

  • Card Talk Season 4 Episode 26
  • LOTR Saga
    • Mountain of Fire
  • Card Effect Categories
    • Staging Area Attack
    • Declared Attack

The first iteration of Éomer in Voice of Isengard fit into the primary ally discard mechanism associated with Rohan. It is fitting then that the second iteration builds on the second mechanism, staging area attack. The core set introduced this mechanism with the Dúnhere hero. It was only sporadically developed since then, but Leadership Éomer is a strong addition to the archetype.

Background

Éomer is the ever loyal nephew and adopted son of King Theoden as well as the brother of Éowyn when he is introduced in the Two Towers. He is also the Third Marshal of Rohan following in the footsteps of of his father of Eomund. His efforts to keep Rohan safe form orc incursions resulted in imprisonment by the traitor Grima. After being freed, he goes on to fight valiantly in the defense of Helm’s Deep, The Battle of Pelannor Fields, and at the Black Gate. Eventually he becomes King of Rohan in the Fourth Age.

Card Theme

Most staging area attack cards are themed to imply the mechanism covers significant distance. Dúnhere, as mentioned earlier, introduced the staging area attack mechanism. It wasn’t until Darrowdelf and The Hobbit Saga with Hands Upon the Bow and Great Yew Bow requiring ranged the implication of these attacks covering great distance started to form. Then in The Morgul Vale with Spear of the Mark and Forth Eorlingas! cemented the Rohan version is based on the calvary charge. It is fitting considering calvary charges can be an effective shock tactic that would keep an enemy too disarrayed to attack. Particularly against the more cowardly and not highly disciplined orc and goblin troops of Mordor prevalent in the game.

Thematic Deckbuilding Ideas

Card Synergies and Interactions

Attack Boosts

Of course anything that boosts Eomer’s attack helps him destroy an enemy in the staging area. This removes threat to quest against and takes pressure off your defender.

Spear of the Mark is a top choice for making the most of his ability with +2 vs. enemies in the staging area. Dagger of Westernesse is similar especially in a low starting threat deck as most enemies in the staging area when committing characters to the quest should have a higher engagement cost.

His sword, Guthwine, offers +2 attack and can bring back a Rohan ally to hand in an ally discard deck. It’s main limitation is having to exhaust it to get the bonus and it won’t be available during combat assuming you can ready Eomer. Firefoot also provides +2 attack for Eomer with a useful ability to address multiple engaged enemies. Fantastic for Éomer as it should be since it is his horse after all.

Valiant Sword, Orcrist, and even Dúnedain Mark provide solid options to make his attack more effective. Orcrist in particular has some additional synergy as it can replace the resource used for the attack.

Herugrim and Willpower Bonus

Another means of maximizing his ability is to make him a better at questing with cards like Celebrían’s Stone. Then attach Herugrim to Éomer that he is not only making a strong attack against an enemy in the staging area but meaningfully contributing to the quest. Another option is to use hero Galadriel and Nenya to boost his willpower and attack by 4. One downside is Éomer then is less effective if you ready him for combat because Herugrim is exhausted for for the attack bonus. This limit its use to once per round.

Guarded X Player Cards

Éomer with his ability makes playing the Guarded (enemy) and (enemy or location) attachments an easier proposition. Basically any enemy that comes out from them he can attack and possbily remove their threat from the staging area. I mentioned earlier he beneifts quite a bit from Orcrist, but many of them give a powerful attack or willpower boost that can benefit from as well.

Quest Specific

Basically any quest that has enemies that have negative effects when they engage a player or while engaged Éomer can be a strong counter to. The Passage of the Marshes has many undead enemies where the players can’t reduce their threat while they’re engaged. Many of the enemies in the Haradrim cycle have effects that when they engage you must remove quest progress or suffer a negative effect. For example Southron Soldier, has you remove 2 progress of take an immediate attack. Although there are quests that prevent players from using Éomer’s ability with enemies in the staging area being immune to player card effects or not being able to take damage. Intruders in Chetwood in the Angmar Awakened cycle and Dungeons of Cirith Gurat from the Haradrim cycle are prime examples.

Ring Rating

I rate Leadership Éomer at 3 rings. I think staging area attack is a really fun mechanism. It helps avoid or minimize one of the more variable parts of the game, defending. You can use his ability right away and doesn’t have the same prerequisites that Haldir, Legolas, or Bard the Bowman to attack the staging area. It’s not too difficult to use every turn because this version of Éomer is in the primary sphere for resource acceleration. It’s not too difficult to build up his attack using Spears of the Mark, his horse, his sword, even his uncle’s sword, or other options available to Rohan and Leadership heroes. He’s a very solid attacking hero that only has a couple downsides to me. You can’t make the most use of his ability in every scenario because of immune to player effect type of limitations. The other is minor for building him in a pure Rohan deck which is Leadership has less Rohan allies than Spirit and Tactics. This limits your options a bit, particularly in dual sphere.

  • Dave – 3
  • Grant – 2
  • Ted – 6
  • Matt – 3
  • Average – 3.5

External Links

Sample Decks

Éomer takes the Lead by Grant

Forth, the Three Hunters multiplayer combat deck.

Main Deck

Hero (3)
Éomer (The Mountain of Fire)
Éowyn (The Flame of the West)
Erkenbrand (The Antlered Crown)

Attachment (50)
2x Ancestral Armor (Roam Across Rhovanion)
2x Armored Destrier (Temple of the Deceived)
3x Blade of Gondolin (Core Set)
2x Celebrían’s Stone (Core Set)
3x Dagger of Westernesse (The Black Riders)
2x Firefoot (The Dunland Trap)
3x Golden Belt (Challenge of the Wainriders)
1x Golden Shield (The Flame of the West)
2x Gondorian Shield (The Steward’s Fear)
2x Gúthwinë (The Mountain of Fire)
2x Hauberk of Mail (The Wilds of Rhovanion)
2x Raiment of War (The Thing in the Depths)
2x Rod of the Steward (Flight of the Stormcaller)
3x Rohan Warhorse (The Voice of Isengard)
3x Round Shield (Mount Gundabad)
3x Secret Vigil (The Lost Realm)
2x Shining Shield (The Fortress of Nurn)
2x Song of Battle (The Dead Marshes)
3x Spear of the Mark (The Morgul Vale)
2x Steward of Gondor (Core Set)
2x Valiant Sword (Under the Ash Mountains)
2x War Axe (The City of Ulfast)

Event (6)
3x Foe-hammer (Over Hill and Under Hill)
3x Open the Armory (The Dungeons of Cirith Gurat)

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

Ride them Down! by Onidsen

This deck uses Herugrim + Galadriel with Nenya to boost Éomer’s willpower and attack. Fastred bounces enemies back to the staging area for Éomer to attack.

Main Deck

Hero (3)
Éomer (The Mountain of Fire)
Fastred (The Black Serpent)
Galadriel (Celebrimbor’s Secret)

Ally (18)
3x Arwen Undómiel (The Watcher in the Water)
3x Bofur (The Redhorn Gate)
1x Elfhelm (The Dead Marshes)
1x Errand-rider (Heirs of Númenor)
3x Ethir Swordsman (The Steward’s Fear)
3x Galadriel’s Handmaiden (Celebrimbor’s Secret)
1x Warden of Healing (The Long Dark)
3x West Road Traveller (Return to Mirkwood)

Attachment (24)
1x Celebrían’s Stone (Core Set)
3x Dúnedain Warning (Conflict at the Carrock)
1x Firefoot (The Dunland Trap)
3x Herugrim (The Treason of Saruman)
1x Livery of the Tower (The Flame of the West)
3x Mirror of Galadriel (Celebrimbor’s Secret)
3x Nenya (Celebrimbor’s Secret)
2x Silver Harp (The Treachery of Rhudaur)
2x Steward of Gondor (Core Set)
2x The Favor of the Lady (Core Set)
3x Unexpected Courage (Core Set)

Event (9)
2x A Good Harvest (The Steward’s Fear)
3x A Test of Will (Core Set)
2x Hasty Stroke (Core Set)
2x Ride Them Down (The Antlered Crown)

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

3 Heroes, 52 Cards
Cards up to The Mountain of Fire

Sideboard

Ally (5)
2x Elfhelm (The Dead Marshes)
2x Northern Tracker (Core Set)
1x Warden of Healing (The Long Dark)

Event (6)
2x A Light in the Dark (Core Set)
1x Hasty Stroke (Core Set)
3x Power of Orthanc (The Voice of Isengard)

Eagles of the Misty Mountains

The capstone card of the Eagles cards released in the first cycle of the game. While 4 resources can be a big investment in LOTR LCG, this is one is very much worth it.

Background

The Eagles of the Misty Mountains were descendants of the Great Eagles, servants of Manwe in the First and Second Ages. They came to the aid of Gandalf, Bilbo, and Thorin’s Company when trapped in trees after escaping from dungeons dim and caverns deep pursued by goblins and wargs. They also aided the men, elves, dwarves in the Battle of Five Armies turning the tide along with the arrival of Beorn. In the Lord of the Rings, their involvement is more off-screen as Gandalf later relates to Frodo his rescue from Orthanc by Gwaihir . Then again, Galadriel sends Gwaihir to retrieve Gandalf from the top of Celebdil after his battle with the Balrog. They join the Battle of the Morannon as Aragorn leads the armies of the West against Sauron as a distraction for Frodo. Most notably Gwaihir, Meneldor, and Landroval fly to Mount Doom after The One Ring’s destruction to save Frodo and Sam.

Card Theme

This card is incredibly thematic. You can easily imagine a Vassel of the Winglord swooping down from sky to attack an orc and then flying back up to rejoin the convocation. This card represents that as those Eagle allies with discard effects getting attached to it making the whole convocation stronger.

Card Synergies and Interactions

Other Eagle Allies

The more Eagle allies you run in your deck, the more potential attachments you have to build up the Eagles of the Misty Mountain’s attack and defense. The primary ones for this are Eagle Emissary, Vassel of the Winglord, Wilyador, and Winged Guardian since they can discard themselves. Descendent of Thorondor and Meneldor could be attached too after using Born Aloft, Meneldor’s Flight, or Flight of the Eagles to trigger their leave play effects. Although, you might really want to just return them to your hand to replay them.

Put Ally into Play & Resource Acceleration

The Eagles allies that discard themselves tend to be the cheaper ones that can get into play early. Eagles of the Misty Mountains at 4 cost are difficult to play early in the game before discarding any other Eagle allies. Having any effects that can put allies into play or accelerate your resources to play them helps the Eagles build up more attachments quickly.

Top among put into play effects is Vilya which for the cost of exhausting Elrond can put the top card of a deck into play. The classic ally mustering card, A Very Good Tale could be difficult to get an Eagles of the Misty Mountains with only the cheaper Eagle allies. A little trick is to an ally put into play via Gwaihir’s Debt, Sneak Attack, or Horns! Horns! Horns! Meneldor, Descendent of Thorondor, or Gandalf core set ally are good ones to use for triggering their enter and leave play effects along with higher costs.

For decks with a lot of questing power, Elf-Stone and the side quest Send for Aid are good options for getting the Eagles of the Misty Mountains in play. Hirgon is another popular resource acceleration choice. He can reduce the cost by 1 when the player quests successfully. He has additional combat synergy since the ability has the option to add 1 attack and defense when played with his ability at the cost of 1 threat.

Low threat Tactics heroes like Merry, Éowyn, Na’asiyah, and Tom Cotton or Messenger of the King and Grey Wanderer contracts can also allow for 2 great options in Secrecy. Resourceful can provide amazing value over the course of a game providing an extra resource for the Secrecy cost discounted cost of 1. Timely Aid will search the top 5 cards for an ally to put into play also for the low, low 1 cost. It’s not necessarily a reliable means for getting Eagles of the Misty Mountains into play without some player deck manipulation like Imladris Stargazer’s rearranging the top 5 cards or swapping the top card with Wizard Pipe. One advantage for Timely Aid is that there are a few other expensive Eagle allies that it can help with. Also it could put one other ally that will help play Eagles.

The much maligned Radagast ally offers creature specific resource acceleration. His cost of 5 is more prohibitive then Resourceful played out of Secrecy. If put into play with Timely Aid, Elf-Stone, A Very Good Tale, etc. then it still provides a good value. Additionally, you an make use of his staff to lower the cost of the Eagles to 2. Wizard Pipe can also be put on him to set up Eagles for a second Timely Aid. Of course, you can always run his hero version which provides access to Word of Command to find the staff or Eagles to help get them out sooner than later.

Ally Readying

Ally readying effects let you get more use out of their solid base stats or hopefully their built up attack and defense. Radagast’s Staff offers this effect along with the cost discount to play the Eagles. Also in hero specific attachments, Narya can ready them and boost their combat stats further. Ever Vigilant is the base ally readying event from the core set. Spare Hood and Cloak is cheap option for a single ready if there is another ally that isn’t needed or used often. Long Lake Trader could always move Spare Hood and Cloak back to an available character. Leadership Faramir hero‘s ability to ready an ally on engagement isn’t as useful as the others since it means the readying will only help to use Eagles to quest or defend an immediate attack prior to step 5. Their 2 willpower is still good for questing and there are some scenarios where enemies can attack when revealed. It is just not as flexible as the others.

Support of the Eagles

Before Gondorian Fire and Blood of Numenor, there was Support of the Eagles. This is the other way to take advantage of an Eagles of the Misty Mountains with several attachments. It synergized incredibly well with pre-errata Tactics Boromir because he could ready multiple times during combat. In modern decks, it has found a new preferred target, Gwaihir hero. Gwaihir readies as any Eagle leaves play that can be attached to Eagles of the Misty Mountains allowing Gwaihir to take advantage of that stat boost immediately.

Grappling Hook

This card can let you leverage the Eagles attack stat for questing outside of a Battle quest. It could easily provide a mid to late game questing push to get through at particularly bad stage or rush to the end. The Haradrim cycle has a couple quests where it can be important to push through a stage quickly. Race for Harad in particular is one where having the option to convert strong attack into a questing boost at the end before the orcs catch up can be very valuable.

Quest Specific

The Eagles of the Misty Mountains can be very helpful in quests with the Battle and Siege keywords. Quests with those keywords have characters quest with their attack and defense stats. These are featured in all three of the Heirs of Numenor quests. They’re also good to use in Battle of the Five Armies aside from thematic reasons as Battle and Siege show up in that quest as well.

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 3 rings. The Eagles have stats comparable to a 9-10 threat hero and they can get better if you are running other allies with the eagle trait. I’ve found their 2 willpower to be very useful in willpower poor mono-Tactics. It also just very fun to get them into play early and start building up them up into a massive attacker or defender. The main drawback is the high cost especially as you want to play them as early as possible to avoid wasting a discarded or destroyed eagle ally. The high cost, however, is well justified considering what they bring to the table. There are also more 4 costs allies in Tactics that are better, Legolas, or just as good as the Eagles. While I don’t consider them a staple Tactics ally anymore, they’re still a really good value for the cost and only get better the more eagles in the deck.

  • Dave – 5
  • Grant – 4
  • Ted – 3
  • Matt – 3
  • Average – 3.75

External Links

Sample Decks

Eagles of the Misty Riddermark by peacefrog3 (Chris G)

Chris’s deck tries to get as much value as possible from Eagles leaving play as possible. Eomer and Eagles of the Misty Mountains get boosts when any leave play. Chump blocking will generate resources with Horn of Gondor.

Eagles of the Misty Riddermark

Main Deck

Hero (3)
Éomer (The Voice of Isengard)
Éowyn (The Flame of the West)
Théoden (The Morgul Vale)

Ally (24)
1x Bofur (Over Hill and Under Hill)
2x Descendant of Thorondor (The Hills of Emyn Muil)
3x Eagles of the Misty Mountains (Return to Mirkwood)
1x Envoy of Pelargir (Heirs of Númenor)
3x Gandalf (Core Set)
2x Grimbold (The Flame of the West)
1x Guthlaf (The Blood of Gondor)
1x Gwaihir (Trouble in Tharbad)
1x Landroval (A Journey to Rhosgobel)
1x Legolas (The Treason of Saruman)
3x Vassal of the Windlord (The Dead Marshes)
2x Westfold Outrider (The Voice of Isengard)
3x Winged Guardian (The Hunt for Gollum)

Attachment (15)
3x Firefoot (The Dunland Trap)
2x Golden Shield (The Flame of the West)
3x Gondorian Shield (The Steward’s Fear)
2x Grappling Hook (The Grey Havens)
2x Horn of Gondor (Core Set)
3x Spear of the Mark (The Morgul Vale)

Event (10)
3x Feint (Core Set)
2x Foe-hammer (Over Hill and Under Hill)
2x Hail of Stones (Road to Rivendell)
3x The Eagles Are Coming! (The Hunt for Gollum)

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

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

Decklist built and published on RingsDB.

Two Istari Try To Fly Far-i! Gandalf/Eagles! by Attercop! (Shane M)

Shane is having a blast playing this Eagle deck against the Haradrim and a bit of the Vengeance of Mordor cycles. He mentioned something about explaining later some bike spoke card choices in this deck, but I have no idea what he could be referring to. I see a lot of solid resource acceleration and put ally into play options with this deck!

Two Istari Try To Fly Far-i! Gandalf/Eagles!

Main Deck

Hero (1)
Gandalf (The Road Darkens)

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

Ally (20)
3x Descendant of Thorondor (The Hills of Emyn Muil)
3x Eagles of the Misty Mountains (Return to Mirkwood)
1x Gwaihir (Trouble in Tharbad)
1x Landroval (A Journey to Rhosgobel)
2x Meneldor (Roam Across Rhovanion)
3x Radagast (A Journey to Rhosgobel)
3x Vassal of the Windlord (The Dead Marshes)
2x Wilyador (The Land of Sorrow)
2x Winged Guardian (The Hunt for Gollum)

Attachment (12)
3x Gandalf’s Staff (The Road Darkens)
1x Narya (The Grey Havens)
1x Radagast’s Staff (The Fate of Wilderland)
3x Resourceful (The Watcher in the Water)
2x Shadowfax (The Treason of Saruman)
1x Song of Battle (The Dead Marshes)
1x Wizard Pipe (The Road Darkens)

Event (21)
3x A Very Good Tale (Over Hill and Under Hill)
3x Flame of Anor (The Road Darkens)
3x Flight of the Eagles (Roam Across Rhovanion)
3x Gwaihir’s Debt (The Fate of Wilderland)
3x The Eagles Are Coming! (The Hunt for Gollum)
3x Timely Aid (The Redhorn Gate)
3x Word of Command (The Long Dark)

1 Hero, 53 Cards
Cards up to The Land of Sorrow

Decklist built and published on RingsDB.

Legolas Shoots Locations by kattattack22 (Matt Kell)

A mono Tactics deck I played through Against the Shadow where Eagles of Misty Mountains 2 willpower is pretty key.

Main Deck

Hero (3)
Beregond (Heirs of Númenor)
Éowyn (The Flame of the West)
Legolas (Core Set)

Ally (24)
2x Beechbone (The Battle of Carn Dûm)
2x Bofur (Over Hill and Under Hill)
3x Defender of Rammas (Heirs of Númenor)
3x Derndingle Warrior (Escape from Mount Gram)
3x Dúnedain Hunter (The Lost Realm)
3x Eagles of the Misty Mountains (Return to Mirkwood)
2x Gandalf (Core Set)
3x Honour Guard (The Wastes of Eriador)
3x Knights of the Swan (The Steward’s Fear)

Attachment (17)
2x Arod (The Treason of Saruman)
3x Dagger of Westernesse (The Black Riders)
3x Favor of the Valar (The Battle of Carn Dûm)
3x Gondorian Shield (The Steward’s Fear)
3x Rivendell Blade (Road to Rivendell)
3x Secret Vigil (The Lost Realm)

Event (9)
3x Feint (Core Set)
3x Foe-hammer (Over Hill and Under Hill)
3x Hands Upon the Bow (Shadow and Flame)

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

Sideboard

Hero (1)
Aragorn (The Lost Realm)

Ally (10)
1x Gandalf (Core Set)
3x Grimbold (The Flame of the West)
3x Legolas (The Treason of Saruman)
3x Vassal of the Windlord (The Dead Marshes)

Attachment (5)
3x Dwarven Axe (Core Set)
2x Horn of Gondor (Core Set)

Event (9)
3x Sterner than Steel (The Flame of the West)
3x The Eagles Are Coming! (The Hunt for Gollum)
3x Thicket of Spears (Core Set)

Decklist built and published on RingsDB.

Radagast and Radagast’s Staff

The hero and attachment the Eagles deck needed.

Background

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

Card Theme

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

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

Card Synergies and Interactions

Creature Allies

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

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

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

Return Ally to Hand Effects

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

Defense Bonus

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

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

Word of Command

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

Quest Specific

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

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

Ring Rating

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

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

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

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

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

Hero

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

Staff

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

External Links

Sample Decks

The Eagles Are Coming! by radAGHAST 

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

Main Deck

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

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

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

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

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

Decklist built and published on RingsDB.

Mono-Lore of the Eagles by The Purple Wizard

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

Main Deck

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

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

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

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

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

Sideboard

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

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

Decklist built and published on RingsDB.