Forth, The Three Hunters! – Community Review

by Jonathan Gillies

  • Player Card Categories 
    • Healing
    • Willpower Bonus

Background

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

Card Theme

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

Card Synergies and Interactions

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

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

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

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

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

Ring Rating

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Main Deck

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

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

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

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

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

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

Decklist built and published on RingsDB.

Drinking Song

  • Card Talk Season 5 Episode 36
    • Video episode
    • Audio episode

It’s an extra mulligan!

Background

Tolkien’s works feature many songs. It considering that a major theme in the Lord of the Rings is joy of everyday life and simple pleasures that it would have a couple drinking songs. There is “Ho! Ho! Ho! To the Bottle I Go” that used for the flavor text. The hobbits sing it after meeting Gildor and his entourage of elves.

Ho! Ho! Ho! to the bottle I go

To heal my heart and drown my woe.

Rain may fall and wind may blow,

And many miles be still to go,

But under a tall tree I will lie,

And let the clouds go sailing by.

Fellowship of the Ring, Chapter 4: A Short Cut to Mushrooms

There is also “The Man in the Moon Stayed Up Too Late” that Frodo sings when he gets up on a table at The Prancing Pony.

There is an inn, a merry old inn

beneath an old grey hill,

And there they brew a beer so brown

That the Man in the Moon himself came down

One night to drink his fill.

Fellowship of the Ring, Chapter 9: At the Sign of the Prancing Pony

The above is an just an except as the full song is quite long.

Card Theme

Many of the cards with draw effects in the game has ties to knowledge in the game. Daeron’s Runes (a writing system), Deep Knowledge, Gandalf’s Search, Mithrandir’s Advice, etc.

Drinking Song is an interesting entry into melding this theme and mechanism. It can be argued that songs are another medium to convey knowledge. Particularly with many of the songs of the ancient heroes and deeds in Middle Earth. Drinking Songs, however, generally are not these grand epic songs. They’re silly, funny, and fun to sing while drinking impairing one’s wits. I think this is why it has a player shuffle their hand back into the deck and redraw those cards. It is represents the alcohol scrambling the knowledge in their head.

Card Synergies and Interactions

More Card Draw

The idea behind combining this card with more card draw, is it increases the number of cards you reshuffle into the deck. This synergy is best if a player truly wants an extra mulligan with this card ensure getting a key card or to really thin their deck. Peace and Thought is a really strong choice for this since it draws 5 at the cost of a single card. Erestor hero also especially on turn 1 can help maximize that new hand if played on turn 1. Deep Knowledge and Daeron’s Runes also can help incrementally increase your hand size especially if you have more than 1 or draw into multiple copies.

Love of Tales

Drinking Song and Love of Tales can create a resource acceleration engine in mono-Lore. Lore doesn’t have many resource acceleration options after the Master of Lore nerf. This particular engine for Mono-Lore takes a bit of setup to get 2 or optimally 3 Love of Tales in play. Still it is not that difficult since they’re zero cost and just need to be drawn, and fortunately Lore has many ways to draw cards. Then each play of Drinking Song, will give each hero with Love of Tales a resource. They can be recurred with Scroll of Isildur to play them 9 times in a game. Erebor Hammersmiths can increase this up to 15 times in game. That means this engine could generate up to 45 resources in a game. The entire time, the player will get to draw new hands of cards.

Council of the Wise

Council of the Wise because of its deckbuilding limitation, can be very inconsistent. The limit of 1 copy of each card in a deck works in Magic the Gathering where Elder Dragon Highlander or as it is now known, Commander is a very popular format because its card pool lots of cards with similar effects. This allows Magic decks to create consistent decks because there are dozens of cards with different names that still do the same thing. LOTR LCG doesn’t have that same depth particularly as less player cards came out in each cycle than many Magic sets. Additonally, an advantage of the LCG release model is there is little to no reprints and players don’t have to buy multiple copies of expansions except for the original core set. Drinking Song can help make Council of the Wise decks a bit more consistent. Anytime there is a bad draw or starts to stall because events aren’t being drawn, then Drinking Song can reset the player’s hand plus triggers the contract’s response.

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 Drinking Song at 4 rings. It is a good solid card that helps dig for specific cards and makes for a fun resource engine in mono-Lore. It is a very Pippin player friendly card because it help get combos set up. That said, I think it is more a role player of the zero cost card draw events. Daeron’s Runes and Deep Knowledge are easier to play since they are zero resource cost and get the player 2 new cards. Drinking Song needs a unique Hobbit in order to replace itself. The main hurdle I find to playing it usually if I have a card I want to keep, then I don’t play Drinking Song even if all the other cards in my hand aren’t helpful. If playing Lore and looking to splash in card draw Daeron’s Runes and Deep Knowledge are top of the list. Including a third card draw event after those can take up too much deck space. Even if considering more card draw, Heed the Dream is a strong contender for the similar use case as Drinking Song. Heed the Dream let’s a player search their top 5 cards for 1 in particular and their entire deck if 3 leadership resources are paid. At that point, it may come down to if unique Hobbits are being played in the deck or not.

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

External Links

Sample Decks

Love of Drinking Song by Marcelf

Mono-Lore deck showcasing Love of Tales and Drinking Song resources acceleration.

Love of Drinking Song

Main Deck

Hero (3)
(MotK) Gléowine (Messenger of the King Allies)
Folco Boffin (The Dungeons of Cirith Gurat)
Gríma (The Voice of Isengard)

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

Ally (23)
3x Erebor Hammersmith (Core Set)
1x Firyal (The Mûmakil)
1x Gaffer Gamgee (Mount Gundabad)
2x Gandalf (Core Set)
1x Gandalf (Over Hill and Under Hill)
1x Gléowine (Core Set)
1x Henamarth Riversong (Core Set)
1x Ioreth (A Storm on Cobas Haven)
3x Isengard Messenger (The Voice of Isengard)
3x Loyal Hound (The Fate of Wilderland)
1x Mablung (The Land of Shadow)
1x Quickbeam (The Treason of Saruman)
1x Robin Smallburrow (The Drowned Ruins)
2x Steward of Orthanc (Race Across Harad)
1x Warden of Healing (The Long Dark)

Attachment (15)
3x Keys of Orthanc (The Voice of Isengard)
3x Love of Tales (The Long Dark)
3x Resourceful (The Watcher in the Water)
3x Scroll of Isildur (The Morgul Vale)
3x Sword-thain (The Dread Realm)

Event (12)
3x Bartering (The Wilds of Rhovanion)
2x Daeron’s Runes (Foundations of Stone)
3x Drinking Song (Mount Gundabad)
3x Mithrandir’s Advice (The Steward’s Fear)
1x The Houses of Healing (A Storm on Cobas Haven)

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

Decklist built and published on RingsDB.

Pippin (Ally)

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

The best willpower ally in Tactics.

Background

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

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

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

Card Theme

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

Card Synergies and Interactions

Hobbit Tribal

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

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

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

Engagement Control and Threat Reduction

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

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

Fellowship Contract

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

Messenger of the King and Sword-thain

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

Ring Rating

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

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

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

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

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

External Links

Sample Decks

The Doom of Men by Dave Walsh

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

Tom Cotton for the Win!

Main Deck

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

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

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

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

3 Heroes, 53 Cards
Cards up to Wrath and Ruin

Decklist built and published on RingsDB.

The Doom of Men by Matt Kell aka kattattack22

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

The Doom of Men

Main Deck

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sideboard

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

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

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

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

Deck built on RingsDB.

Honour Guard

  • Player Card Categories 
    • Damage Control
    • Valour
    • Beorn Support

The most flexible damage cancelation card. I wish there were more like it.

Background

The art depicts a Guard of the Citadel much like the Leadership ally of the same name. Honour Guard is still apt as guarding the citadel and the White Tree was the highest honor and duty to the guards in Minas Tirith. They couldn’t leave their posts for any reason except if commanded by their lord. They could wear Elendil’s livery of the White Tree with a silver crown and stars on a field of black. They also wore mithril helms with wings of sea birds.

Card Theme

One of the more obvious mechanism and thematic links with the guard meant to protect those in the Tower of Gondor. The card can protect characters in the game by canceling a damage or 5 in Valour directly.

Card Synergies and Interactions

Beorn

Beorn hero is not an obvious synergy since he is immune to player card effects. Fortunately, Honour Guard’s effect targets the damage much like ally Dori. Per the FAQ, that clarified that Dori’s ability can redirect damage dealt to Beorn because it targets the damage, Honour Guard’s ability can cancel damage to Beorn too.

Ally Readying

The ability to cancel a damage requires a player to exhaust the Honour Guard. Readying effects that target allies then allow the ability to be used more than once per round. Players can use the Core Set Leadership cards of Ever Vigilant to ready a single ally and Grim Resolve to ready all characters. Many other single target and global readying cards work as well like Narya, To Arms!, Strength of Arms, Elwing’s Flight, and Leadership Faramir hero. The only issue is these effects are all actions. They can’t ready Honour Guard immediately after he is exhausted to cancel 2 points of damage. A player will have to wait until the next action window and then the Honour Guard can use its ability the next time a character might take damage. A couple have an additional timing limitation. For example, Elwing’s Flight is a quest phase action or Leadership Faramir’s response typically will occur during the Encounter Phase.

Quest Specific

Much like hero Beorn, there are several objectives and objective allies that take damage but are immune to player card effects. Canceling damage on these objectives is incredibly helpful because often times if they enough damage the players lose the scenario.

A Journey to Rhosgobel is a noted early example as Wilyador takes 2 damage each round. He can also take additional damage from other encounter effects. An advantage Honour Guard has here over healing effects is that it will not be removed from the game by Stage 2’s Forced effect. This quest infamously has a surprise loss condition if Wilyador is not fully healed by Stage 3. Wilyador only taking 1 damage per round gives the players more time to find enough Athelas for him.

Flight to the Ford is very similar to A Journey to Rhosgobel. The Ring-bearer will take 1 damage per round and there are more encounter effects that can add more. If the Ring-bearer runs out of life, the players lose. Canceling that 1 damage at the end of each round takes some pressure off the players to rush through the quest.

The Antlered Crow, Race Across Harad, The Crossings of Poros, Roam Across Rhovanion, and The Land of Sorrow all feature objective allies that if they leave play, that player is eliminated or the players lose. There are other objective allies and scenarios that also have this condition like Nalir in Trouble in Tharbad. These scenarios and allies in particular benefit from Honour Guard’s damage cancelation more than others because they have good stats, useful abilities, and/or damage from undefended attacks has to be assigned to them.

Chief Turch notably can defend without exhausting and has decent defense of 2 and large hit point pool of 5. An Honor Guard or two can make Turch defending multiple enemies much safer and a viable strategy. Tamed Mumak in Race Across Harad is usually best to quest with considering the quest limits progress if you don’t. The quest can be very combat heavy if many enemies pile up in the Orc area and then engage when they catch up to the players. Honour Guard can help the players take undefended attacks safely since they’re assigned to Mumaks and help clear out the orcs enemies. Urdug and Tiny are also no slouch at defending and only get better with some damage cancelation. Lastly, Arador in The Land of Sorrow is well set to be a secondary defender with 3 defense, 5 hit points, and built in readying for defending but risky if he takes too much damage. Honor Guard mitigates the risk of losing to a bad shadow which are a few in the quest to be wary of.

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 Honor Guard at 2 rings. Damage cancelation is a very useful ability to counter attack boosting shadows, direct damage shadow and treachery effects, high attack enemies, Archery damage, and other direct damage effects that quests might throw at the players. It can be used for any character and repeatable putting ahead of other damage cancelation cards like Raven-winged Helm or Mithril Shirt that are limited to the attached hero. The damage cancelation has a slight timing advantage over healing since it responds to the damage because this can prevent a character destruction from direct damage from treacheries and shadows. Healing usually needs to happen in action window before or after such effects, but it is not always possible if the character just has so few hit points. The only downside to the ability being damage cancelation versus healing is that it doesn’t benefit from Elrond hero’s healing boost.

The ally itself has a beefy 3 hit points and far less vulnerable to direct damage than many healing allies and especially compared to Warden of healing. It is a very fair costed 2 resources. It has the Gondor and Warrior traits that both are very useful for benefiting from global boosts and qualifying for attachments. Even better it is in the Tactics sphere that is the most combat focused sphere, but healing effects are exclusively in Lore. This makes a multiplayer mono-Tactic battle deck much more self-sufficient in handling all combat. Lore and Tactics can be a difficult combination to build together in a deck because both don’t have many resource acceleration cards and have less strong willpower or willpower boosting options than Spirit and Leadership. In true solo or a strong balanced willpower and combat deck Spirit or Leadership often are better to include.

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

External Links

Sample Decks

Legolas Shoots Locations aka Mono Tactics v4

Mono Tactics deck for Heirs of Numenor and Against the Shadow cycle. I tweaked the deck as I played through the cycle and through the various iterations it beat every quest. It definitely settled into a final form by Encounter at Amon Din. The games I’ve played with it with earlier iterations are featured on the blog as well.

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.

Power grimbeorn the old nightmare by Grant

Grant’s go to Grimbeorn multiplayer battle deck. It’s survived Assault on Dol Guldur epic multiplayer.

Main Deck

Hero (3)
Grimbeorn the Old (The Withered Heath)
Hirgon (Beneath the Sands)
Théodred (Core Set)

Ally (21)
2x Beorn (Core Set)
3x Beorning Guardian (The Crossings of Poros)
3x Beorning Skin-changer (The Withered Heath)
1x Erestor (The Long Dark)
3x Giant Bear (Fire in the Night)
1x Grimbold (The Flame of the West)
2x Honour Guard (The Wastes of Eriador)
3x Legolas (The Treason of Saruman)
2x Warrior of Dale (The Wilds of Rhovanion)
1x Yazan (The Mûmakil)

Attachment (22)
2x Armored Destrier (Temple of the Deceived)
2x Bow of Yew (The Wilds of Rhovanion)
2x Cram (Over Hill and Under Hill)
3x Dúnedain Mark (The Hunt for Gollum)
3x Dúnedain Warning (Conflict at the Carrock)
2x Hauberk of Mail (The Wilds of Rhovanion)
2x Raven-winged Helm (The Wastes of Eriador)
2x Secret Vigil (The Lost Realm)
2x Steward of Gondor (Core Set)
2x Warrior Sword (The Ghost of Framsburg)

Event (5)
2x Feint (Core Set)
3x Sneak Attack (Core Set)

Player Side Quest (2)
1x Gather Information (The Lost Realm)
1x Send for Aid (The Treachery of Rhudaur)

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

Sideboard

Ally (4)
1x Faramir (Core Set)
3x Gandalf (Core Set)

Attachment (10)
1x Celebrían’s Stone (Core Set)
2x Necklace of Girion (The Wilds of Rhovanion)
3x Song of Travel (The Hills of Emyn Muil)
1x Steward of Gondor (Core Set)
3x Unexpected Courage (Core Set)

Event (3)
3x The Galadhrim’s Greeting (Core Set)

Decklist built and published on RingsDB.

Curious Brandybuck

  • Cycle  
    • Angmar Awakened
  • Set
    • Wastes of Eriador

Efficient quester for a limited time.

Background

The Brandybucks are descendents of the first Thains of The Shire. Originally called the Oldbucks, they ruled The Shire until the twelveth Thain, Gordenhad Oldbuck, moved to Buckland. He began to turn it into a settlement and renamed himself Brandybuck. The only member of the Brandybuck family from the main story is Meriadoc “Merry” Brandybuck.

Card Theme

This card appears to be modeled after Gordenhad as the exmplar of the Brandybuck family. The ally comes into play for traveling to a new location. Then once that location is known, the ally goes away much like how Gordenhad left his nominal leadership position to establish a new Hobbit settlement.

Card Synergies and Interactions

Hobbit Character Boosts

Curious Brandybuck particularly benefits from any Hobbit character boost that doesn’t require an attachment to be placed on it. Fortunately Hobbits have a few options here. Tom Cotton boosts its attack to 2 for the round. This could be triggered multiple times in a game if the Brandybuck is put back on the bottom and later drawn again. Redbook of Westmarch will boost its willpower by 1 each time it can quest. Lastly, Bill the Pony provides an extra hit point that can help soak some damage, especially archery. This is a good play since any damage put on it will disappear when it is placed on the bottom of the deck.

Merry + Horn of the Mark

Hobbits don’t have many ways to bounce in and out of play like Rohan. Curious Brandybuck, however, provides one of the more reliable triggers for Horn of the Mark. The card draw from it helps offset the loss of the card when Brandybuck leaves play.

Westroad Traveler

West Road Traveler provides a way to avoid the Forced effect to put the Curious Brandybuck on the bottom of the deck. It still can only be temporary since there is an active location providing a buffer to the main quest. Still if a player wants to keep the Curious Brandybuck around for another round to chump block then West Road Traveller

Erestor

Curious Brandybuck gives an Erestor deck a free ally it can play. This is important when Erestor decks have a 10 card starting hand but only 3 resources to play them. Mid to late game, the card being put back on the bottom is not an issue as a player can expect to draw it eventually with 4 cards being drawn a turn.

Ring Rating

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

I rate Curious Brandybuck at 7 rings. This is recognizing that getting a free ally even temporarily is a good deal. Tom Cotton can give it low but helpful attack when it comes into play. It also can be used to get a free chump block in an emergency. Using its cost reduction ability, however, results in it having to leave play eventually. Horn of the Mark, Valiant Sacrifice, or other card draw can offset the loss of the card. Still there are other 2 cost 2 willpower Spirit allies that won’t have to leave play if the active location is explored. The availability of these solid alternatives make this more of a niche card.

  • Dave – 4
  • Grant – TBR
  • Ted – 5
  • Matt – 7
  • Average 5.33

External Links

Sample Decks

Hobbit swarm by Fleone

A Bond of Friendship deck that aims to swarm the board with Hobbits.

Main Deck

Hero (4)
Merry (The Wastes of Eriador)
Pippin (The Black Riders)
Sam Gamgee (The Black Riders)
Tom Cotton (The Mountain of Fire)

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

Ally (27)
1x Bilbo Baggins (The Road Darkens)
2x Bill the Pony (The Black Riders)
2x Bywater Shirriff (The Fate of Wilderland)
2x Cautious Halfling (Wrath and Ruin)
2x Curious Brandybuck (The Wastes of Eriador)
2x Farmer Maggot (The Black Riders)
2x Gaffer Gamgee (Mount Gundabad)
2x Gandalf (Core Set)
2x Halfling Bounder (The Sands of Harad)
2x Hobbit Archer (The Land of Sorrow)
2x Odo Proudfoot (Under the Ash Mountains)
2x Robin Smallburrow (The Drowned Ruins)
2x Rosie Cotton (The Mountain of Fire)
2x Wandering Took (Core Set)

Attachment (11)
2x Horn of Gondor (Core Set)
2x Horn of the Mark (The City of Ulfast)
1x Inner Strength (Wrath and Ruin)
1x Magic Ring (The Crossings of Poros)
2x Red Book of Westmarch (The Land of Sorrow)
1x Sword-thain (The Dread Realm)
1x The One Ring (A Shadow in the East)
1x Thorongil (The Fortress of Nurn)

Event (12)
2x A Good Harvest (The Steward’s Fear)
2x Drinking Song (Mount Gundabad)
2x Knife-work (A Storm on Cobas Haven)
2x Raise the Shire (The Mountain of Fire)
2x The Shirefolk (Mount Gundabad)
2x Tighten Our Belts (The Nîn-in-Eilph)

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

Sideboard

Hero (1)
Frodo Baggins (A Shadow in the East)

Ally (4)
2x Halfast Gamgee (The Crossings of Poros)
2x Keen-eyed Took (The Hills of Emyn Muil)

Attachment (6)
2x Dagger of Westernesse (The Black Riders)
2x Fast Hitch (The Dead Marshes)
2x Hobbit Cloak (The Black Riders)

Event (8)
2x A Very Good Tale (Over Hill and Under Hill)
2x Halfling Determination (The Black Riders)
2x Hobbit-sense (Encounter at Amon Dîn)
2x Keen as Lances (Escape from Mount Gram)

Decklist built and published on RingsDB.

Beregond’s amazing discount sale! by Steinwell

A multiplayer gift deck that uses Beregond’s armor and weapon discount combined with Battering or Long Lake Trader to pass out attachments to other players.

Main Deck

Hero (3)
Beregond (Heirs of Númenor)
Erestor (The Treachery of Rhudaur)
Thurindir (Race Across Harad)

Ally (13)
3x Curious Brandybuck (The Wastes of Eriador)
2x Elven Jeweler (Escape from Mount Gram)
3x Guardian of Rivendell (Flight of the Stormcaller)
2x Ioreth (A Storm on Cobas Haven)
3x Long Lake Trader (The Wilds of Rhovanion)

Attachment (29)
1x Black Arrow (On the Doorstep)
3x Citadel Plate (Core Set)
3x Explorer’s Almanac (The Grey Havens)
2x Gondorian Shield (The Steward’s Fear)
3x Keeping Count (The Redhorn Gate)
3x Legacy Blade (The Dungeons of Cirith Gurat)
2x Mighty Warrior (Race Across Harad)
3x Raiment of War (The Thing in the Depths)
3x Raven-winged Helm (The Wastes of Eriador)
1x Spear of the Citadel (Heirs of Númenor)
3x The Long Defeat (The Battle of Carn Dûm)
1x Weather-stained Cloak (The Dread Realm)
1x Wingfoot (The Nîn-in-Eilph)

Event (6)
3x Bartering (The Wilds of Rhovanion)
3x The Evening Star (The Grey Havens)

Player Side Quest (2)
1x Gather Information (The Lost Realm)
1x The Storm Comes (The Sands of Harad)

3 Heroes, 50 Cards
Cards up to The Wilds of Rhovanion

Decklist built and published on RingsDB.

Bill the Pony

  • Card Talk Season 5 Episode 32
    • Video episode
    • Audio episode

The pack pony that can’t carry anything in the game.

Background

Bill was the only pony for sale in Bree after all the horses and ponies were let loose from The Prancing Pony’s stable. Barliman bought from Bill Ferny to replace Merry’s ponies and gave it to them as they left Bree. Sam well cared for Bill until he had to be let loose at the West gate of Moiria. After The One Ring’s destruction, Sam and Bill were reunited in Bree.

Card Theme

The cost reduction when Sam is in play is very thematic. Sam demonstrated significant feeling and concern for the poor pony. He insisted Bill continue on the journey with them as they left Rivendell. He did not want to leave Bill outside Moria pleading with Gandalf to take the pony with them. Returning to Bree, he expressed that he had worried about Bill many times since their parting at Moria what became of Bill.

The hit bonus Bill gives Hobbits is not very thematic. Most hit point bonuses in the game come from armor attachments like Citadel Plate, Ring Mail, Ancestral Armor, and more. These make sense in that they protect people effectively making them more durable in combat. Ent Draught is another attachment that gives hit points that makes sense considering it makes trees and people healthier and taller. In that line of thinking, Bill carrying the hobbits provisions heled keep them healthy. Still it feels like that is a stretch.

Another complaint about the card’s theme is that Bill can’t have attachments. He is used as a pack animal. He should be able to carry certain item attachments like Spare Hood and Cloak or Spare Pipe at least. Arguably he still shouldn’t be able to use them, but maybe having the ability to put item attachments facedown under his card to stow them. It could at least be useful for the hand size hate in Ringmaker. Seems like a wasted opportunity to make him more thematic and interesting of a card.

Card Synergies and Interactions

Hobbits

Hobbits often have less hit points that characters in other traits. This is most evident with the hobbit heroes that typically have 2 hit points. The only hobbit heroes with more are Sam, Tom Cotton, Fatty Bolger, and both Baggins sphere versions of Bilbo. Giving them more hit points increases their chances of survival particularly in quests with a lot of direct damage.

Fellowship

Bill qualifies as a unique character for the Fellowship contract. Getting one out for free with Sam in play can help it flip faster. This is very helpful considering it requires 9 unique characters in play. Then once it flips each character gets +1 willpower, attack, and defense. This can turn Bill into a very efficient 2 willpower and 2 attack ally. It is also one of the very few ways to buff him because of the “cannot have attachments” restriction.

Messenger of the King

Unfortunately this is a nonbo with Bill. Bill can’t have attachments and since Messenger of the King has to attach to make a unique character into a hero it won’t work on Bill.

Quest Specific

If you playing Hobbits in the Haradrim cycle or the LOTR Saga then Bill is great to have along. Many of the quests feature archery. Direct damage for several rounds combined with the low hit point pools of Hobbit heroes leaves little margin for error.

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 Bill at 7 rings. He’s basically a Guard of the Citadel that is unique, with a significant drawback, a narrow conditional discount, and a tribal bonus. Unless you’re playing Hobbits and/or Sam Gamgee, there’s little reason to play Bill. It is very nice that the bonus helps offset one of the primary weaknesses of Hobbits.

  • Dave – 5
  • Grant – TBR
  • Ted – 5
  • Matt – 7
  • Micah – 4
  • Average 5.25

External Links

Sample Decks

Bond of Hobbitship by Dave Walsh

This is solo hobbit deck. There are no cards that are ranged (sorry Hobbit Archer) or sentinel. If you have never tried to play hobbits, this may be a great place to start.

The fun of this deck is that you aren’t necessarily looking for anything in particular in your opening hand to get the deck going. You may need something quest specific, but this deck really relies on the versatility of the hobbits to get you going.

Main Deck

Hero (4)
Frodo Baggins (Conflict at the Carrock)
Merry (The Black Riders)
Pippin (The Black Riders)
Sam Gamgee (The Black Riders)

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

Ally (20)
2x Bilbo Baggins (The Road Darkens)
2x Bill the Pony (The Black Riders)
2x Boromir (The Road Darkens)
2x Farmer Maggot (The Black Riders)
2x Gaffer Gamgee (Mount Gundabad)
2x Gandalf (Core Set)
2x Quickbeam (The Treason of Saruman)
2x Rosie Cotton (The Mountain of Fire)
2x Treebeard (The Antlered Crown)
2x Warden of Healing (The Long Dark)

Attachment (18)
2x Boots from Erebor (Khazad-dûm)
2x Dagger of Westernesse (The Black Riders)
2x Fast Hitch (The Dead Marshes)
2x Hobbit Cloak (The Black Riders)
2x Red Book of Westmarch (The Land of Sorrow)
2x Ring Mail (The Long Dark)
2x Spare Pipe (The Land of Sorrow)
2x The Arkenstone (The Withered Heath)
2x Unexpected Courage (Core Set)

Event (12)
2x A Test of Will (Core Set)
2x Hasty Stroke (Core Set)
2x Peace, and Thought (Shadow and Flame)
2x Raise the Shire (The Mountain of Fire)
2x Sneak Attack (Core Set)
2x The Shirefolk (Mount Gundabad)

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

Decklist built and published on RingsDB.

The Revolving Door Fellowship by BGamerJoe

From the deck description:

The goal is to get to 9 characters as soon as possible, but you have to be careful to not include too many cheap and easy allies or you’ll be pretty disappointed with your final Fellowship when you arrive. Also, I found that playing a Fellowship deck can become boring later in the game if you get your nine in place. You continue to draw allies you can’t play and planning phases become non-existent in solo or very tedious in multiplayer. I tried to put together a deck where there’s a balance of allies that are easy to get into play quickly to get you closer to 9 and expensive heavy-hitters that make the Fellowship powerful when you get there. The other theme of the deck is flexibility. Gandalf, Ghan, and Folco all have ways to leave play and Timely Aid, Sneak Attack and A Very Good Tale all let you get characters into play outside the standard planning phase. This means that even after you reach the magic number of 9, you can continue to upgrade your fellowship as opportunity presents itself and you can also “patch up” your fellowship during the quest or combat phase if a quest effect takes out an ally and leaves you with less that 9 characters. I’ve found it entertaining to play in solo and multiplayer and the power level is high enough to complete a wide variety of quests.

Main Deck

Hero (3)
Folco Boffin (The Dungeons of Cirith Gurat)
Frodo Baggins (A Shadow in the East)
Pippin (The Black Riders)

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

Ally (28)
1x Bill the Pony (The Black Riders)
1x Ceorl (Temple of the Deceived)
1x Eldahir (The Thing in the Depths)
1x Faramir (Core Set)
1x Firyal (The Mûmakil)
2x Gaffer Gamgee (Mount Gundabad)
2x Gandalf (Core Set)
1x Gandalf (Over Hill and Under Hill)
1x Ghân-buri-Ghân (The Flame of the West)
1x Gildor Inglorion (The Hills of Emyn Muil)
1x Gimli (The Treason of Saruman)
2x Gléowine (Core Set)
1x Haldir of Lórien (A Journey to Rhosgobel)
3x Henamarth Riversong (Core Set)
3x Ioreth (A Storm on Cobas Haven)
1x Mablung (The Land of Shadow)
1x Merry (A Shadow in the East)
1x Quickbeam (The Treason of Saruman)
1x Rosie Cotton (The Mountain of Fire)
2x Treebeard (The Antlered Crown)

Attachment (5)
3x Resourceful (The Watcher in the Water)
1x The Arkenstone (The Withered Heath)
1x The One Ring (A Shadow in the East)

Event (18)
3x A Very Good Tale (Over Hill and Under Hill)
3x Drinking Song (Mount Gundabad)
3x Sneak Attack (Core Set)
1x The Free Peoples (Beneath the Sands)
3x The Master Ring (A Shadow in the East)
2x The Shirefolk (Mount Gundabad)
3x Timely Aid (The Redhorn Gate)

3 Heroes, 51 Cards
Cards up to A Shadow in the East

Sideboard

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

Event (6)
3x Daeron’s Runes (Foundations of Stone)
3x The Ruling Ring (A Shadow in the East)

Decklist built and published on RingsDB.

The Great Hunt

  • Cycle
    • Ered Mithren
  • Set
    • Fate of the Wilderland
  • Player Card Categories 
    • Mono Sphere Required

The Great Ship Killer!

Background

The picture of the White Hart and the flavor text refer to in The Hobbit when an deer knocks Bombur into the enchanted stream. Shortly after they hear a great hunt going on. Knowing Tolkien’s interest in Western and Northern European folklore, this is likely a reference to The Wild Hunt. The Wild Hunt is a type of mythological story common in Northern Europe with a hunting party comprised of Gods or supernatural beings.

The more direct reference is to the White Hart most notably appearing in Arthurian Legend. The Hart is hunted by King Arthur and his knights but has an uncanny ability to evade them.

The appearance of the White Hart, the implications of Mirkwood as a magical place with the enchanted stream, and similarity in name are why I think Tolkien alludes to The Wild Hunt. It also fits with his interest in mythology and attempting to create a mythological stories with The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings.

Card Theme

The effect of destroying a non-unique enemy matches the idea of a great hunt that would culminate in the death of the pursued creature. It doesn’t match the passing reference to the possibility of a great hunt proposed by Bilbo and the Dwarves in The Hobbit. Especially as they do not kill the deer and the White Hart also has a great ability to elude hunters in legend.

Card Synergies and Interactions

Resource Smoothing

The nice part about this card compared to previous cards that require mono-sphere is it doesn’t require the printed resource icon on each hero like Strength of Arms or Advanced Warning. Song of Wisdom or A Good Harvest can make it possible to play The Great Hunt. Any heroes or unique allies with Messenger of the King that also have a Lore hero version with Thorongil can pay for The Great Hunt. Galadriel and Aragorn can also gain Lore through Nenya and Ring of Barahir. This makes it a bit more flexible than the Against the Shadow cycle mono-sphere cards.

Cost Reduction

The drawback to this version of mono-sphere card, is the 3 resources have to be paid. All cost reduction cards then cannot combo or a nonbo with The Great Hunt. It is especially unfortunate for Hobbit decks considering A Good Meal and Leaf Brooch are great cost reduction options.

Low Threat Heroes and Engagement Control

The second reason that it unfortunate the Hobbit cost reduction is a nonbo is the advantage of putting The Great Hunt in a low starting threat deck. The Great Hunt can only target an enemy in the staging area, but it can only be played after engagements during the combat phase. Hobbit heroes in particular work well because they’re all fairly low starting threat. Folco Boffin that is a Lore hero helps keep them even lower since he can be 4 threat with 2 other Hobbit heroes. The Shirefolk is a great threat reduction card that lowers threat slightly more than Elrond’s Counsel and still costs 0. In other mono-Lore builds Woodmen’s Clearing or Lore Aragorn are going to be the best threat reduction options.

Lore isn’t limited to just threat reduction for controlling engagements. Advanced Warning was mentioned earlier that lets the player skip engagement checks for a phase. Lore also cards that increase engagement costs of enemies with Lore Pippin hero, Take No Notice, and Mablung ally.

Scroll of Isildur

Scroll of Isildur is the best combo with The Great Hunt. This allows players to possibly play each copy 3 times in a game. That is up 9 non-unique enemies just discarded from play. The recursion can be taken further with Erebor Hammersmith or Second Breakfast to bring Scroll of Isildur back from the discard pile. That is not far fetched considering how much card draw Lore has available between Drinking Song, Daeron’s Runes, Mithrandir’s Advice, Peace and Thought, Deep Knowledge and more.

Quest Specific

The game even since the beginning of the game has made strong non-unique enemies. Most notoriously is the Hill Troll players have in the staging area at the start of Journey Along the Anduin. The Great Hunt can get rid of it right away. Marsh Adder in the Wilderlands encounter set can also make an appearance in Journey and it is not easy to deal with its fairly high 7 hit points. Chieftain Ufthak similarly has tough defense and hit points compared to most other enemies in the core set. Both are better to not engage as each attack they make increases a player’s threat or their attack. Most surprising, however, is that the Nazgul of Dol Guldur in Escape from Dol Guldur is not unique and vulnerable to The Great Hunt. Discarding it and not risking having to discard an ally due its second forced effect is a great value.

Another good target for The Great Hunt are Mumaks. They’re often not unique but very strong with a lot of hit points. On top of that they have a limit on how much damage they can take each round. The Great Hunt bypasses that limitation and gets rid of the Mumak in a single round!

Intruders in Chetwood in the Angmar Awakened cycle sets up using The Great Hunt very well. First of all the quest, makes it so there are no engagement checks perfect for setting up targets. Second, the quest starts with an Orc War Party in play. It is a strong enemy that prevents enemies in the staging are from taking damage and the players from winning the game. There is also another strong orc enemy, Angmar Captain that is better to not to engage if at all possible. It’s forced effect can make it attack twice in a single combat with its 5 attack! Both enemies have 3 threat which is not easy to just quest over. Reducing staging area threat by 3 is going to help questing more than playing most allies since few have 3 or more willpower.

The best value for The Great Hunt is discarding ship enemies. This is because many of them have the Boarding keyword. Boarding X says, “When a ship-enemy with the Boarding keyword engages a player from the staging area, reveal the top X cards from the Corsair Deck and put the revealed enemies into play, engaged with that player.” Discarding a ship enemy then not only gets rid of 1 enemy engagement, but often times 2, 3, or even 4 enemy engagements. Ship enemies only appear in Voyage Across Belegaer, Flight of the Stormcaller, A Storm on Cobas Haven, A City of Corsairs, and The Hunt for the Dreadnaught. In those 5 scenarios, it can do a lot of work.

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 Great Hunt at 5 rings. The effect can be incredibly powerful. In some scenarios, it can make them much, much easier. The core set offers the earliest examples of this with advancement of quest prevented by Hill Troll in Joureny Along the Anduin and the Nazgul in Escape from Dol Guldur. Normal strategy would be to build up to deal those enemies in combat. The Great Hunt offers an alternative. There are a couple scenarios like Intruders in Chetwood and Dungeons of Cirith Gurat where enemies don’t make engagement checks and having other ways to get them out of play is very useful. Lastly, getting rid of ship enemies with Boarding is just amazing value.

That all said, the requirement to pay for The Great Hunt from 3 different heroes resource pools is limiting. It doesn’t necessarily require 3 Lore heroes to play since resource smoothing does work to fulfil the requirement. It does mean it can’t be played in a Grey Wanderer deck and cost reduction is not an option. The cost reduction nonbo is an issue for mono-Lore. Lore doesn’t have much resource acceleration available unless playing secrecy for Resourceful and/or Grima. Outside mono-Lore then there is a bit of additional setup required with the smoothing to be able to play it. It also is just an event. Even if Lore has a ways to recur it a substantial number of times. It will discard one enemy per turn. A strong attacker with a few attachments could achieve the same effect without the 3 resources per turn cost.

I’ve found it to be a good effective card for solo or multiplayer. It just doesn’t see widespread play because of the cost and requirement to pay the cost from 3 different heroes resource pools.

  • Dave – 3
  • Grant – 5
  • Ted – TBR
  • Matt – 5
  • Average – 4.33

External Links

Sample Decks

Victory via a Burglary Side Quest by Matt Kell aka kattattack22

Questing deck for multiplayer leveraging the willpower boosting on Treebeard, Thurindir, and Rossiel in early to mid game. While also providing some encounter control with victory display events.

Burglar’s Turn provides some strong attachments to further boost willpower and comabt ability. Many can be easily passed out to other players.

Main Deck

Hero (3)
Rossiel (Escape from Mount Gram)
Thurindir (Race Across Harad)
Treebeard (The Treason of Saruman)

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

Ally (28)
3x East Road Ranger (The Wastes of Eriador)
2x Firyal (The Mûmakil)
2x Ghân-buri-Ghân (The Flame of the West)
2x Gléowine (Core Set)
2x Henamarth Riversong (Core Set)
2x Mablung (The Land of Shadow)
3x Mirkwood Explorer (The Thing in the Depths)
2x Mirkwood Hunter (The Ghost of Framsburg)
2x Quickbeam (The Treason of Saruman)
2x Robin Smallburrow (The Drowned Ruins)
3x Warden of Healing (The Long Dark)
3x Wellinghall Preserver (Across the Ettenmoors)

Event (21)
3x Gildor’s Counsel (The Hills of Emyn Muil)
3x Leave No Trace (Escape from Mount Gram)
3x None Return (Across the Ettenmoors)
3x Out of the Wild (Road to Rivendell)
3x The Door is Closed! (The Treachery of Rhudaur)
3x The Great Hunt (The Fate of Wilderland)
3x The Hidden Way (The Withered Heath)

Player Side Quest (3)
1x Explore Secret Ways (Race Across Harad)
1x Gather Information (The Lost Realm)
1x Scout Ahead (The Wastes of Eriador)

3 Heroes, 52 Cards
Cards up to Wrath and Ruin

Sideboard

Attachment (14)
1x A Burning Brand (Conflict at the Carrock)
1x Celebrían’s Stone (Core Set)
1x Durin’s Axe (Wrath and Ruin)
1x Elven Mail (The Three Trials)
1x Ent Draught (The Treason of Saruman)
1x Glamdring (Roam Across Rhovanion)
1x Magic Ring (The Crossings of Poros)
1x Mirkwood Long-knife (The Sands of Harad)
1x Mithril Shirt (The Fate of Wilderland)
1x Necklace of Girion (The Wilds of Rhovanion)
1x Orcrist (Fire in the Night)
1x Ring of Barahir (The Steward’s Fear)
1x Stone of Elostirion (Under the Ash Mountains)
1x The Arkenstone (The Withered Heath)

Decklist built and published on RingsDB.

The Greatest Hunt by Seastan

A low threat mono-Lore deck dedicated to recurring The Great Hunt. Resource acceleration and card draw ensures it has everything to keep the recursion going. I’ve done something similar with Marcelf’s Love of Drinking Song sideboarding in The Great Hunt. It is highly effective.

Main Deck

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

Ally (16)
3x Erebor Hammersmith (Core Set)
2x Firyal (The Mûmakil)
1x Gaffer Gamgee (Mount Gundabad)
1x Gléowine (Core Set)
1x Guardian of Ithilien (The City of Corsairs)
1x Henamarth Riversong (Core Set)
1x Mablung (The Land of Shadow)
1x Quickbeam (The Treason of Saruman)
3x Robin Smallburrow (The Drowned Ruins)
1x Warden of Healing (The Long Dark)
1x Wellinghall Preserver (Across the Ettenmoors)

Attachment (12)
3x Resourceful (The Watcher in the Water)
3x Scroll of Isildur (The Morgul Vale)
3x Steward of Gondor (Core Set)
3x Sword-thain (The Dread Realm)

Event (22)
3x A Good Harvest (The Steward’s Fear)
3x Bartering (The Wilds of Rhovanion)
3x Daeron’s Runes (Foundations of Stone)
3x Drinking Song (Mount Gundabad)
3x Mithrandir’s Advice (The Steward’s Fear)
3x The Great Hunt (The Fate of Wilderland)
3x The Shirefolk (Mount Gundabad)
1x Will of the West (Core Set)

3 Heroes, 50 Cards
Cards up to The Fate of Wilderland

Decklist built and published on RingsDB.

Gwaihir (Hero)

  • Player Card Categories 
    • Enters Play
    • Leaves Play

The art doesn’t show him with a tiny crown, but the card demonstrates why he deserves it.

Background

Gwaihir is the most prominent Eagle of the Misty Mountains which are the descendants of Manwe’s servants in the First and Second Ages, the Great Eagles. He is only one of three Eagles to be named in the trilogy along with Landroval and Meneldor. The first mention of Gwaihir is when Gandalf explains to Frodo how he was rescued from Orthanc. His second mention is in yet another Gandalf telling tale of his exploits this time to Aragorn, Gimli, and Legolas. This one relating that Gwaihir carried him from the mountaintop where he slew the Balrog after being returned to life to Lothlorien and then did some scouting for him along the River Anduin. Gwaihir makes his third appearance as one of the three eagles to fly to Fields of Cormallen and eventually Mount Doom to rescue Sam and Frodo after The One Ring’s destruction.

Card Theme

The readying Gwaihir whenever an Eagle enters or leaves play as Gwaihir preparing to swoop down on some enemies right after another eagle gets out of the way. It could also show Gwaihir being a lead from the front type of leader to the Eagles. He’s not going to let them go in alone against the forces the Shadow. He’s going to be right there with them divebombing the orcs.

Card Synergies and Interactions

Eagle Allies

The more Eagle allies you or the other players run in your decks, the more times you can ready Gwahir. The primary ones for this are Eagle Emissary, Vassel of the Winglord, Wilyador, and Winged Guardian since they can discard themselves. This also synergizes well with returning Descendent of Thorondor and Meneldor to hand with Born Aloft, Meneldor’s Flight, or Flight of the Eagles to maximize their enter and leave play effects.

Put Ally into Play

Another way to ready Gwaihir is to just put the Eagle allies into play. Sneak Attack from the core set is the staple card of this effect. It works great for a combat phase ready especially if Gwaihir committed to the quest. The ally is put into play to ready Gwaihir and he’ll ready at the end of combat when the ally is returned. Horns! Horns! Horns! is a Doomed alternative, but then it shuffles the ally into the deck rather than returning it to the player’s hand. Gwaihir’s Debt offers an is in sphere option to ready him twice in combat. The requirement to have an Istari and Eagle in play can be a little restrictive unless using hero Radagast, Gandalf, or Saruman. It’s also not as consistent since it is from the top 5 of the deck.

More general ally mustering cards like A Very Good Tale, Send for Aid, Timely Aid, Vilya, and The Red Arrow can also help get another Eagle ally into play. Like Gwaihir’s Debt, they are not as reliable since it is possible to whiff if there isn’t one near the top of the deck.

Stand and Fight also offers a way to put an Eagle ally into play outside the planning phase. Akin to the ally mustering effects, the ally won’t necessarily leave play triggering another ready. It does have the added bonus of being able to bring back one of the self discarding Eagles.

Unrestricted Attachments

Gwaihir’s constant effect keeps him from readying in the refresh phase is drawback to offset his readying ability. Unexpected Courage can offset this drawback and help Gwaihir function in the mid to late game if the supply of Eagle allies runs short.

Gwaihir’s other constant effect that he can’t have restricted attachments and his biggest drawback compared to other Tactics heroes. Tactics has the most restricted attachments of any of the spheres and most are centered on making characters better in combat. Gwaihir has a strong attack with decent defense and hit points, but he is prohibited from many of the best attachments to increase them. There are still a few options to help him be a better defender and attacker. Ent Draught, Self Preservation, and Lembas can give him some additional hit points and healing to help survive attacks with just his base defense. Dunedain Warning even with just one copy attached gets his defense up to 4 and on par with Beregond. Dunedain Mark gives a way to boost his attack further. He can even wield the Black Arrow to gain +5 for a single attack. He probably has to carry the arrow in his talons and just release it at target during a swoop down to “launch” it, but it could work. These few options, however, aren’t the best way to boost his attack and defense.

Support of the Eagles

Support of the Eagles is the best unrestricted attachment for Gwaihir. It is in-sphere. The bonus it gives is based on an Eagle ally’s stats so it synergizes already running many Eagle allies. The bonus lasts until the end of the phase meaning it can be exhausted at the beginning of combat to get a boost from Vassel of the Winglord, Wilyador, or Winged Guardian. Those allies can be used then to block or attack. Timed just right, this can give let Gwaihir defend and attack several times in a single combat phase. For example, Gwaihir could defend an enemy, then Winged Guardian defends another, the Guardian leaves play, Gwaihir readies, Gwaihir attacks an enemy, Vassel of the Winglord attacks another enemy, Vassel is discarded, Gwaihir readies, and is ready to attack another enemy. Even if there isn’t another enemy engaged with the Gwaihir player, he has ranged to attack across the table.

Ring Rating

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

I’m going to rate Gwaihir at 4 rings. My initial rating for him was 5 because he’s a better multiplayer hero. I have played him solo and he is fine with enough Eagle allies and at least one Unexpected Courage that he can consistently ready at least once a turn. He is a hero you really need to build around. It effectively limits him to Eagle decks which tend to be low on willpower and combat oriented. In true solo, where the deck needs to handle all aspects of the quest can be too limiting. That he has both Ranged and Sentinel reinforces that he is stronger in a multiplayer setting. In multiplayer especially if another player also has Eagle allies, he can be incredibly good.

What pushed him into a 4 for me is the fun factor. He introduces a lot of interesting timing decisions to the Eagle archetype. Smart play with cards like Sneak Attack and Gwaihir’s Debt can make Gwaihir play like pre-errata Tactics Boromir. This really makes Eagles play a bit more like Silvans with the Eagles swooping in and out of play. Late game with a built up Eagles of the Misty Mountains and a Support of the Eagles, Gwaihir can take some beefy enemies alone. He’s a really fun hero for fans of Eagles and those that want to capitalize on them leaving play besides just with Eagles of the Misty Mountains.

  • Dave – 3
  • Grant – 5
  • Ted – TBR
  • Matt – 4
  • Matthew Dempsey – 1

External Links

Sample Decks

Slippery… Eagles? by Dave Walsh

Eagle deck designed to benefit from them entering and leaving play with Gwaihir and Tactic Eomer. Leadership Frodo provides a way to ready Gwaihir if needed.

Main Deck

Hero (3)
Éomer (The Voice of Isengard)
Frodo Baggins (A Shadow in the East)
Gwaihir (The Land of Sorrow)

Ally (18)
3x Descendant of Thorondor (The Hills of Emyn Muil)
3x Eagle Emissary (The Land of Sorrow)
3x Eagles of the Misty Mountains (Return to Mirkwood)
2x Meneldor (Roam Across Rhovanion)
2x Radagast (A Journey to Rhosgobel)
3x Vassal of the Windlord (The Dead Marshes)
2x Wilyador (The Land of Sorrow)

Attachment (18)
2x Gúthwinë (The Mountain of Fire)
2x Necklace of Girion (The Wilds of Rhovanion)
2x Rod of the Steward (Flight of the Stormcaller)
2x Rohan Warhorse (The Voice of Isengard)
3x Secret Vigil (The Lost Realm)
3x Steward of Gondor (Core Set)
1x Strength and Courage (The City of Ulfast)
2x Support of the Eagles (Return to Mirkwood)
1x The One Ring (A Shadow in the East)

Event (15)
3x Flight of the Eagles (Roam Across Rhovanion)
3x Meneldor’s Flight (The Hills of Emyn Muil)
3x Sneak Attack (Core Set)
3x The Eagles Are Coming! (The Hunt for Gollum)
3x Valiant Sacrifice (Core Set)

3 Heroes, 51 Cards
Cards up to The Land of Sorrow

Sideboard

Ally (3)
3x Eagle of the North (Roam Across Rhovanion)

Decklist built and published on RingsDB.

Rohan and Eagles Race Wainriders by Matt Kell

This deck uses ALEP’s Last Alliance contact and has a readying focus so that the heroes are available for the appropriate racing test in Challenge of the Wainriders. Westfold Horse-Breaker in particular is key. You can use the contract in order to get Gwaihir to ready along with Eowyn or Thengel. Once Light-footed Steed is on one of them, all the heroes can ready from the discard.

Main Deck

Hero (3)
Éowyn (Core Set)
Gwaihir (The Land of Sorrow)
Thengel (ALeP – Children of Eorl)

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

Ally (25)
3x Escort from Edoras (A Journey to Rhosgobel)
3x Gamling (The Land of Shadow)
1x Grimbold (The Flame of the West)
1x Meneldor (Roam Across Rhovanion)
2x Morwen Steelsheen (ALeP – Children of Eorl)
2x The Riddermark’s Finest (The Hills of Emyn Muil)
1x Théodwyn (ALeP – Children of Eorl)
3x Vassal of the Windlord (The Dead Marshes)
3x Westfold Horse-breaker (The Hunt for Gollum)
3x Wilyador (The Land of Sorrow)
3x Winged Guardian (The Hunt for Gollum)

Attachment (16)
3x Golden Shield (The Flame of the West)
3x Horn of the Mark (The City of Ulfast)
3x Light-footed Steed (ALeP – Children of Eorl)
2x Snowmane (The Land of Shadow)
3x Thrór’s Key (On the Doorstep)
2x Unexpected Courage (Core Set)

Event (9)
3x A Test of Will (Core Set)
3x Flight of the Eagles (Roam Across Rhovanion)
3x The Eagles Are Coming! (The Hunt for Gollum)

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

Sideboard

Hero (1)
Éowyn (The Flame of the West)

Ally (3)
3x Eagle of the North (Roam Across Rhovanion)

Attachment (6)
3x Ancient Mathom (A Journey to Rhosgobel)
3x Born Aloft (Conflict at the Carrock)

Event (3)
3x Ride to Ruin (The Hills of Emyn Muil)

Deck built on RingsDB.

Gwaihir Gets The Bling by bobbymcbobface

A deck designed solely to see how many useful attachments could put on Gwaihir.

Main Deck

Hero (3)
Bilbo Baggins (Mount Gundabad)
Gwaihir (The Land of Sorrow)
Radagast (The Fate of Wilderland)

Ally (19)
3x Descendant of Thorondor (The Hills of Emyn Muil)
3x Eagles of the Misty Mountains (Return to Mirkwood)
2x Landroval (A Journey to Rhosgobel)
3x Meneldor (Roam Across Rhovanion)
2x Messenger Raven (The Fate of Wilderland)
3x Vassal of the Windlord (The Dead Marshes)
3x Winged Guardian (The Hunt for Gollum)

Attachment (21)
1x Black Arrow (On the Doorstep)
2x Fast Hitch (The Dead Marshes)
1x Magic Ring (The Crossings of Poros)
1x Mithril Shirt (The Fate of Wilderland)
2x Necklace of Girion (The Wilds of Rhovanion)
3x Radagast’s Staff (The Fate of Wilderland)
1x Song of Travel (The Hills of Emyn Muil)
2x Sting (Mount Gundabad)
2x Support of the Eagles (Return to Mirkwood)
1x The Arkenstone (The Withered Heath)
2x Wizard Pipe (The Road Darkens)
3x Woodmen’s Clearing (The Withered Heath)

Event (10)
3x Flight of the Eagles (Roam Across Rhovanion)
2x Gwaihir’s Debt (The Fate of Wilderland)
3x Meneldor’s Flight (The Hills of Emyn Muil)
2x The Eagles Are Coming! (The Hunt for Gollum)

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

Sideboard

Ally (3)
3x Eagle of the North (Roam Across Rhovanion)

Decklist built and published on RingsDB.

Gleowine

  • Player Card Categories 
    • Card Draw
    • Rohan
    • Messenger of the King Heroes

Admit it, you cracked open the Core Set (or Revised Core Set) for the first time, saw Gleowine, laughed at the artwork, and immediately thought “surely this card can’t be very good.” However, as is the case with many things in life, one of the golden rules of The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game is to not immediately judge a book, or card, by its cover. Or even first impressions. There are multiple facets to a review of Core Set cards that launched the game over 10 years ago including considerations such as its impact in the early card pool/quests as well as how the card ages as the card pool grew and matured. Gleowine is no exception, and many of these points, among others, will be examined in this review.

Background / Lore

Not much is known about Gleowine. He is only mentioned briefly in The Return of the King after the Battle of the Pelennor Fields. He was King Theoden of Rohan’s minstrel who accompanied him from Edoras to Gondor during the Ride of the Rohirrim to come to Gondor’s aid against the enemy. In the wake of the epic battle’s conclusion, Gleowine penned a song memorializing Theoden (which the flavor text of his card refers to). An interesting fact is that the name Gleowine means “music friend.”

Out of doubt, out of dark, to the day’s rising
he rode singing in the sun, sword unsheathing.
Hope he rekindled, and in hope he ended;
over death, over dread, over doom lifted
out of loss, out of life, unto long glory.

– Gleowine, The Return of the King

Alternate Art (ill. unknown) Alternate Art (by Beorn)

Card Theme

While Gleowine the minstrel was not counted on to fight with the Rohirrim or lead the charge into battle, he would have provided support via his comforting and invigorating songs in the halls of Edoras or in the rear lines of battle, always near Theoden the king. This is reflected in his unimpressive stats yet very helpful ability.

Minstrel

When considering thematic uses for Gleowine, the best place to start is his traits. First, we’ll start with Minstrel. Interestingly, he is one of 2 cards in the game with the Minstrel trait. Any guesses who the other one is??? Rivendell Minstrel is…..somehow not traited Minstrel. That honor goes to the Galadhrim Minstrel. So if you’re hoping to build a deck using the Minstrel archetype, hate to burst your bubble.

Rohan

Gleowine’s Rohan trait, however, now there’s a well-developed archetype. So how well does Gleowine fit into a Rohan deck? Not amazing, surprisingly, for a couple of reasons. First, his sphere. As a Lore ally, he obviously will need a hero with the Lore resource icon. There is only one Lore Hero with the Rohan trait: Grima. This is actually not a bad hero to combo off of for Gleowine as long as you are prepared to offset the threat increase from Grima, since the cost of the extra cards Gleowine will draw you can be reduced by 1 once per round. The problem is Grima is better suited for Doomed decks, not Rohan. This leaves you needing to add a Lore resource icon to another Rohan character with cards like Song of Wisdom or A Good Harvest, or else using a non-Rohan Lore hero in your Rohan deck. Not terrible options, but this leads to the second drawback of Gleowine in a Rohan deck.

Rohan decks are built around the mechanic of discarding Rohan characters (i.e. allies) for various benefits such as attack boosts, willpower boosts, readying, etc. If you can get Gleowine into play in a Rohan deck, you can discard Eomund to ready Gleowine and draw a card more than once that round, which is great! If one of your heroes is Theoden, Gleowine only costs 1 when you play him, which again is fantastic and even thematic. The rub comes from the fact that Gleowine is a Rohan ally you want to keep in play as long as possible to get maximum card draw, which goes against the ally discard mechanic of the Rohan archetype. More on this later.

So to answer the question of how well Gleowine fits into a Rohan deck in one word: meh. He will help you draw your essential cards faster and can have his cost reduced to 1 by both Grima and Theoden, and several allies being discarded will allow you to ready him and draw you another card, but you also have to consider how you’re going to get him into play with the dearth of Lore Rohan heroes. And when he is in play drawing you cards, you aren’t going to want to discard him to trigger those beneficial Rohan boosts.

My final comment on theme is that I think the designers should have created a Spirit version of Gleowine later in the card pool as the archetype matured. Perhaps with a Quest Action where you could exhaust him to add +2 WP to a questing Rohan hero (+3 if that hero is Theoden or Eomer) or something like that. This would have been much more fitting thematically for the King’s minstrel.

Card Synergies and Interactions

General Deckbuilding

We’ve looked at Gleowine in a thematic Rohan deck, so now let’s give him a more holistic look when considering putting him in a deck. I’ll show my cards up front (pun intended) and say he is amazing! Card draw is a crucial component of deck building, for if you are top decking your way through a quest then you are likely going to lose. You need a way to get those key cards out as quickly as possible, and Gleowine will provide any deck consistent, repeatable card draw. For the cost of only 2 Lore resources, you get exactly that with this guy. The earlier in the game you can get him on the table, the greater ROI for those 2 resources and the better off you’ll be with more cards in your hand. If you already have card draw elsewhere in your deck such as Daeron’s Runes, Deep Knowledge, Beravor, etc., and you don’t draw Gleowine until the late-game, then he is probably a win-more card at that point.

Next, his stats. 1 WP, 0 attack, 0 defense, and 2 HP adds up to 3, which at face value appears to make Gleowine overcosted by 1 given the standard ally cost of Stat Total divided by 2 = Cost. His ability, though, is where he actually will provide a benefit over time. Think of it this way: if you consider 1 resource to draw one card as a standard cost throughout the game on various cards (Campfire Tales, Hidden Cache, etc.), then Gleowine nets you a benefit after drawing you only 2 cards. You can commit him to the quest in a pinch if you are desperate for more WP, but only do that as a last resort. His ability can often draw you the card you need that same round to quest successfully. For new players this could mean getting Radagast’s Cunning, Secret Paths, Sneak Attack or Gandalf in your hand before the quest phase, which can be more beneficial to you in the Quest phase than Gleowine’s 1 WP. Do not attempt to defend with him unless you are in dire need of a chump blocker, as his 0 defense and 2 HP will almost never survive any enemy attacks in this game.

One other consideration when including Gleowine in your decks is ally readying. This might not be a good first choice since the number of cards that ready allies is slim to none, but one such card is Grim Resolve, which new players will have access to right away in the Core Set. This will ready not just Gleowine to draw you another card, but every character on the table will gain action advantage that round. Other ally readying options include Brand Son of Bain, Narya attached to either Cirdan the Shipwright or Gandalf, The Free Peoples, Leather Boots, Spare Hood and Cloak, and Faramir. Most players find, though, that you don’t get too far beyond the Core set when you start some better card draw options (i.e. Ancient Mathom, Daeron’s Runes, Foe-Hammer, Deep Knowledge) to also include in their decks rather than looking for ways to ready Gleowine.

What I love about Gleowine is that there is literally not a single deck you wouldn’t want him in. His cost is low, Lore is a top notch sphere (rated the community’s favorite sphere in Card Talk’s 2021 Superlative February poll), every single deck will benefit from card draw, and one of the most amazing things about Gleowine is that he is equally as effective in solo and multiplayer!

Messenger of the King Contract

Here’s where things get even more bonkers. Let’s just say there is a reason Gleowine placed 4th out of 83 eligible targets for the contract in Vision of the Palantir’s December 2021 poll on best MotK heroes. Because Gleowine is a unique ally, he is an eligible target for the Messenger of the King contract. For those unfamiliar, this contract allows you to search your deck for a unique ally during Setup who then loses the ally card type and gains the hero card type. To determine that now-hero’s starting threat, you simply add up their total WP, attack, defense, and HP and that is their starting threat. They are now a hero and function in every way as one.

For Gleowine this means a few things. First, he is now a 3 threat Lore hero. That is among the lowest heroes in the game and tied with Smeagol. With so many good Secrecy cards being in the Lore sphere (e.g. Risk Some Light, Noiseless Movement, Out of the Wild, etc), being a 3 threat Lore hero helps with this plus he can help you draw those cards faster.

Second, as a Lore hero he allows you to deckbuild knowing you are going to be most likely drawing an extra card every round, which opens up your options (i.e. you can feel free to include less card draw when building your deck). Finally, he has a variety of readying options now! Unexpected Courage is the most obvious, but you can now include other readying cards such as Cram, Steed of the Mark, Westfold Horsebreaker, Lembas, Miruvor, etc. that can only ready heroes.

The final consideration of Gleowine as a MotK hero is that he is now a 3rd option to consider among card draw heroes, the other 2 being Beravor and Bilbo Baggins who are both also Lore heroes. I’ll briefly compare him with each. Beravor is no doubt a solid hero and is quite versatile with a balanced stat line and her Dunedain and Ranger traits. She can also target a player of your choice like Gleowine can, and provides 2 cards to his 1. However, she is a whopping 7 threat higher than Gleowine, and her ability was errata’d to “limit once per round.” You have no such restrictions with Gleowine. As for our old friend Bilbo Baggins, that 9 threat looks even worse than usual compared to Gleowine’s 3. They both have 1 WP and 2 HP, but because Bilbo has 1 attack and 2 defense where Gleowine has 0 for both, some players like to Voltron Bilbo with attachments. This is not advisable with Gleowine! Both draw you one card each round reliably, where Gleowine’s ability is an action and Bilbo’s is passive. Not a huge deal, but advantage Gleowine here as you can choose which player gets the extra card, whereas Bilbo is restricted to only granting that extra card to the first player and only in the resource phase, which can be a disadvantage in multiplayer. VERDICT: Gleowine is better than Bilbo and can often be better than Beravor, depending mostly on whether or not you want her traits or stats for the quest you’re building for.

Combos and Nonbos

Combos: Some of the best combos with Gleowine can be found in the Core Set/early card pool. He works perfectly with Eowyn by replacing the card you discard to use her ability each round. An even better combo is Eowyn + Stand and Fight + Gleowine where Gleowine draws you extra cards, and you can then select one from the glut of carts that is likely now in your hand to discard for her ability, and finally use Stand and Fight to put it into play using her resources. Another combo is Protector of Lorien + Gleowine for the same reason: he simply gives you consistent card draw to provide a glut of cards in your hand to use Protector of Lorien to great effect. Another card to combo with him is Daeron’s Runes. You have to discard a card from your hand after drawing 2 cards, and having Gleowine to provide that extra card draw gives you plenty of options (hopefully a duplicate unique).

Nonbos: As mentioned above, his ability allows him to still be helpful to a Rohan deck, but he is not helpful to the archetype’s mechanism of discarding Rohan allies to trigger boosts elsewhere because you don’t want to lose his card draw! Eomer, Lothiriel, Eothain, Ride to Ruin, and many others are great cards to include in a Rohan deck, but there are so many other cheap allies you can include to fuel these abilities that won’t negatively impact you like discarding Gleowine would.

Quest Specific

The only quests you definitely want to avoid bringing Gleowine along to are The Fords of Isen as well as The Dunland Trap, both from the Ringmaker Cycle. These quests contain the dreaded Dunland encounter sets that punish you for drawing cards and/or having a lot of cards in your hand.

Other Considerations

  • Ability Timing – Some encounter deck analysis will help you get an idea of whether or not you can use Gleowine to draw a card anytime you want, or if you need to be more careful on timing. Some classic early cycle examples of nasty cards that can quickly take out Gleowine if you aren’t careful are the Necromancer’s Reach and Dark and Dreadful treacheries. These cards deal 1 damage to each exhausted character, even if they’re exhausted for a different reason than being committed to the quest (Dark and Dreadful will kill Gleowine outright if the location is a Dark location). The key in these examples is to use Gleowine’s ability AFTER the quest phase. If you are playing a quest with encounter cards like these, a helpful suggestion is to use his ability during one of the Combat Phase action windows. This way you get the card draw right before he refreshes for the next round.
  • Solo or Multiplayer? – I already touched on this above, but Gleowine is amazing in both solo and multiplayer. In solo games he obviously only draws you a card as the only player, but in multiplayer you can decide who you want to draw the card and when. Some turns it could very well be you that you choose to draw a card for yourself, but it is always nice to give your fellow adventurers a hand and spread the card draw wealth when you can.

Ring Rating

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

The beauty of Gleowine is in the card’s simplicity and versatility (notice I didn’t mention the artwork in there). It’s a simple action: “Exhaust Gleowine to choose a player. That player draws 1 card.” While new(er) players will likely include him in more decks than veteran players will, he is absolutely a card that has stood the test of time. His ability is consistent in that you can use it every single round. It’s repeatable because there are no restrictions on how many times per phase or round you can use it. He’s in a sphere that has many of the best cards in the game. He only costs 2 resources. He can go into literally any deck and be effective. He is as helpful to a solo player as he is in a multiplayer game. The addition of the Messenger of the King contract breathed new life into him and opened up many new and exciting deckbuilding options with him as a hero, to the point the community thinks of him as a top tier target for this contract. To me, the MotK factor boosts him from a good card to a great card. Will you include him in every deck? No. Should he be a consideration for including at least 1x when building a deck though? Absolutely!

  • Dave – 4
  • Grant – 3
  • Ted – 3
  • Matt – 2
  • Eric – 2
  • Average – 2.8

Sample Decks

Deck name and creator

“YOU get a card! And YOU get a card! And YOU get a card!” – stone_of_eric (me)

https://ringsdb.com/decklist/view/26846/yougetacardandyougetacardandyougetacard-1.0

“Stealthlands” – jvader

https://ringsdb.com/decklist/view/18426/stealthlands-1.0

“Love of Drinking Song” – Marcelf

https://ringsdb.com/decklist/view/16418/loveofdrinkingsong-1.0

Eleanor

Extra treachery cancelation hero that shines in multiplayer.

Background

Eleanor is a FFG created character with the Gondor and Noble traits. If the traits weren’t enough of a clue, her art shows her wearing a diadem. It even looks reminiscent of the Aragorn’s crown in Peter Jackson’s Return of the King.

Card Theme

Eleanor’s ability to cancel a treachery and reveal a new encounter card doesn’t match the abilities of most Gondorian heroes. Heirs of Numenor really started to establish the Gondor trait being linked to resources and resource acceleration with Leadership Borormir giving an attack bonus when he has a resource in his pool and Tactics Beregond discounting Armor and Weapon attachments. Other Gondor cards expanded on this theme with more resource acceleration like Wealth of Gondor, Mablung hero, Captain’s Wisdom and Leadership Denethor

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Eleanor’s ability is similar to Lore Denethor‘s ability to look at the top card of the encounter deck and either put it on the top or bottom. There weren’t any more Gondor themed encounter control cards until the Gondorian Rangers and Traps in Against the Shadow and then it was limited to Lore. Eleanor’s ability is more aligned with the Spirit sphere’s encounter cancellation cards like A Test of Will and Hasty Stroke. I think this is largely a result of the initial design not being as centered around traits as what eventually developed in larger expansions.

Card Synergies and Interactions

Defense Bonus

Defense is Eleanor’s only stat besides hit points greater than 1. At 2, it is sufficient for the Core Set scenarios where many enemies have 2 attack and there is even 1 attack enemies. Gondorian Shield since it gives +2 defense to Gondorian heroes turns her into a decent defender. Blood of Numenor is a solid option in the Spirit sphere and works well with all the resource acceleration options for a Gondor deck. Eleanor’s low threat of 7 also makes it possible to pair it with Resourceful. Still even with these significant defense boosts, Eleanor’s 3 hit points keeps her from being a great primary defender.

Readying

Readying is good if a player wants to use Eleanor as a defender in addition to her ability. Unexpected Courage, of course is the quintessential readying card. Miruvor also is a decent option to ready Eleanor after using her ability. It can even add a resource to Eleanor for use with Blood of Numenor.

More Encounter Control

Eleanor can become an adequate defender, but it is really her ability that is most useful considering how much build up she needs. Utilizing it alongside more encounter control, can shut down the worst the encounter has to offer. This strategy is usually limited to multiplayer since it leaves little room in a deck for cards to aid in questing and combat. In Spirit, there’s A Test of Will and Hasty Stroke. A Watchful Peace can also control the encounters by recurring an innocuous locations. Lore, however, will need to be added for more direct encounter manipulation and cancelation. Lore Denethor, Risk Some Light, Out of the Wild, and Scout Ahead can either move or outright remove the worst cards from the encounter deck. Lore also has Leave No Trace and None Return like Out of the Wild that can add cards to the victory display but only after dealing with them at least once. This, however, opens the possibility of canceling another copy of that encounter card with The Door is Closed!

Quest Specific

Eleanor can be useful in many quests considering all of them have treacheries. The first two cycles more so than later cycles. Shadows of Mirkwood included many that dealt direct damage to heroes and allies that could lay waste to a players board state. Massing at Night in multiplayer especially at 3 and 4 players can be overwhelming. Roasted Slowly and Gollum’s Bite are outright hero killers.

The Darrowdelf 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.

These cancel or lose type treacheries are part of why the first few cycles can be very “swingy” for new players. If you don’t see them in your game, the scenario can seem very easy. If you get one or two at the wrong time, it can be very difficult if they don’t end the game outright.

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 Eleanor at 6 rings. I think she’s dropped off in importance as the card pool has grown and scenario design moved away from treacheries having such a large effects. In the first couple of cycles, I would have rated her a 3 especially in multiplayer. She doesn’t do a lot for a player turn to turn without significant investment in building her up. She’s got it covered, however, when you really need to cancel Massing at Night or Crumbling Ruins. The more players you add, the more likely that a treachery will show up to wreck havoc on the players. Later cycles treacheries are less prevalent and the effects are more manageable. Part of that is just having more options in deckbuilding. More allies have more than 1 hit point to absorb direct damage. Threat reduction options expanded even beyond Spirit. Lore encounter control options have grown in number. There are even more ways to return heroes to play.

  • Dave – 6
  • Grant – 5
  • Ted – TBR
  • Matt – 6
  • Average – 5.33

External Links

Sample Decks

The Nope Deck by Qwaz

This deck is entirely devoted to controlling the encounter deck. Eleanor cancels treacheries, Balin cancels shadows, and Damrod helps trap enemies. On top of that, victory display cards remove the nastier encounters.

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 Thrór’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 Thrór’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.