Dunedain Hunter

  • Player Card Categories
    • Encounter Control
    • Enters Play
    • Engagement Control

A great way to kick start the Dunedain engagement bonuses.

Background

Dunedain Hunter is one of the Rangers of the North with the Dunedain and Ranger traits. The Rangers of the North are the descended from the people of Gondor’s sister kingdom, Arnor. Arnor split into three smaller kingdoms, Cardolan, Arthedain, and Rhudar. The people of these successor kingdoms dwindled after wars with Angmar and a plague until only scattered settlements and wandering bands remained.

There are not many Dunedain in the LOTR books besides Aragorn. Halbarad is the only other named one that in The Passing of the Grey Company arrives with 30 of his kinsmen to support Aragorn. Dunedain Hunters gives the game another way to represent members of the Grey Company.

Card Theme

The card’s mechanism here to get a free ally for engaging an enemy is pretty reflective of the Rangers during the Watchful Peace. During that time they fought many minor battles with orcs and goblins to keep the lands of Eriador safe. This to the people of Bree it just appeared that the Rangers were just wandering East and South telling tales of older times. In reality they were going where there was trouble. Also it fits with how Aragorn comes to join Frodo, Sam, Merry, and Pippin in Bree. He only shows up when the enemies are near joins them to guide and protect them on their journey to Rivendell.

Card Synergies and Interactions

Engagement Bonus Dunedain

These are the cards Dunedain Hunter was designed to facilitate. Dunedain Hunter’s cost of putting an enemy into pay transforms into an immediate benefit with these cards in play. Amarthuil can immediately gain his Tactics sphere during planning and be halfway to generating an additional resource a turn. Halbarad can quest without exhausting. Any Dunedain or Noldor hero with Star Brooch, Warden of Annuminas, Fornost Bowman, and Guardian of Arnor all get a stat boost. Sarn Ford Sentry, Heir of Valandil, and Descendants of Kings provide more utility centered abilities for that enemy engagement with card draw, cost reduction, and readying.

Vengeance of Mordor also gave the Dunedain engagement bonus archetype a couple of other allies. These it is more a restriction but one could argue the bonus for engaging an enemy is a cost reduction. Normally allies with 2 willpower in Spirit and 2 attack in Tactics cost at least 2 resources. These only cost 1 which is helpful considering Dunedain are spread out among the 4 spheres. Dunedian Hunter helps makes these playable on the first turn.

Mablung Hero

Mablung hero also can be considered an engagement bonus effect. Dunedain Hunter is one of the few ways to trigger his resource acceleration twice in a turn since it is limit once per phase.

Hobbits Engage an Enemy with Higher Engagement than a Player’s Threat

Similar to Duendain, Hobbits can get bonuses for engaging enemies although there is another condition to it. They have to engage an enemy with higher engagement cost than their threat to get the bonus. Still it can be worthwhile to search the 5 encounter cards for the right enemy to engage. Also getting the bonus during planning is advantageous when playing Tom Cotton, Odo Proudfoot, and/or Raise the Shire. This can ensure that the first Hobbit ally doesn’t need a resource match and Odo or Raise the Shire can find one to play in a subsequent round. Raise the Shire during planning also opens up finding a questing ally for the round like Bywater Shirriff that will also get additional willpower for having the enemy around.

Traps

Normally the downside to Forest Snare is a player has to defend an attack from the enemy first. Dunedain Hunter provides another way besides Son or Arnor to attach it to an enemy without defending first. It’s truly an advantage since Dunedain Hunter is putting an additional encounter card into play than normally would be. This really equates to a cost reduction for Dunedain Hunter. Dunedain Hunter most likely would be 4 resource cost considering he has the exact same stats as Legolas ally. Legolas is also unique but he has an amazing ability that the Hunter doesn’t so it still balances out. The cost reduction can be even more with Damrod hero since the first trap played each turn costs 1 less and a player will draw a new card for attaching a trap.

The trap that is best played with the hunter is Followed. Followed can reduce staging area threat by the threat of the attached enemy but player’s are at the mercy of the encounter deck revealing a high treat enemy once it is out. Unless a player waits until they see one and can maintain a low threat to choose. Dunedain Hunter can give the players more control and options for this trap since it is a choice from the top 5 of the encounter deck. Best of all it goes right to being engaged with the player avoiding any possible engagement mishaps in a multiplayer game. Outmatched can also be used in conjunction especially if the player pulls out a weak enemy (especially with surge) they want to just keep engaged turn after turn.

Attack Cancellation

Feint, Thicket of Spears, and The Wizard’s Voice are solid alternatives to deal with the enemy put into play by Dunedain Hunter. This is because if played early, an additional enemy can be too much for a deck to handle. Canceling the attack avoids the situation where the hunter might have to chump to the enemy it brought in. It also lets the player bring that 3 attack to bear and hopefully get rid of that enemy right away.

Quest Specific

One of the best things about Dunedain Hunter’s cost is that it puts the enemy into play. This doesn’t reveal the enemy which means When Revealed effects and Surge do not trigger. In quests with many weaker surging enemies like The Seventh Level it can be very handy to pull out one. Many of the Angmar Awakened quests feature the Cursed Dead that when revealed return all Cursed Dead from the encounter discard pile to play.

The risk of the hunter’s cost, however, is twofold.

  1. Not finding an enemy
  2. Finding a very strong enemy

The first one can be mitigated by looking at the enemy breakdown in a quest. A couple notable quests that are light on enemies are Hills of Emyn Muil and We Must Away ‘Ere Break of Day. Hills of Emyn Muil was the game’s early location focused quest. We Must Away ‘Ere Break of Day is Thorin’s Company fight with 3 Trolls and there are only a couple weak crow enemies to detract from that fight.

The other possibility can find examples through each cycle. Shadows of Mirkwood has Hill Trolls, Marsh Adder, Hummerhorns, Chieftain Ufthak, and Attercop that players would rather not see if at all possible. Darrowdelf has very tough Cave Trolls. Heirs of Numenor has Umbar Assassins and Zealous Traitors that can wreak board states with direct damage. Dream-Chaser has Ship enemies with Boarding that puts more enemies into play engaged. Haradrim had various Southron enemies that either remove progress or negative effects when engaged. Ered Mithren brought back high attack tough trolls not to mention dangerous werewolves. Vengeance of Mordor putting an enemy in play often just gives the treachery attachments targets to be buffed.

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 Dunedain Hunter at 8. It is a gamble to play. Sometimes it is less of a gamble if the enemies in the quest are not that tough, or if played later in the game. When defense is well established, getting a zero cost ally with 3 attack is nice and powerful. Typically I want to play him early and get the Dunedain bonuses rolling. The trouble is that Dunedain lack a strong early defender. Amarthuil, Halbarad, or even Lore Aragorn can get there with Dunedain Warnings, Ancestral Armor, or Blood of Nuemenor. It is much more manageable with a good early defender like Beregond or traps that can negate whatever enemy that comes out. Even attack cancellation can be enough to get rid of the enemy and the player enjoy the 3 attack going forward.

All of these considerations on how and when best to play the hunter is why it is so low. It is not a simple card to play needs at least some support if a player wants to use it early. If used mid to late game when a player is stabilized, it can easily become win more or too much and push a game towards a loss. Then it has to compete with Fornost Bowman. Fornost Bowman’s attack can become much higher than Dunedain Hunter’s 3. The bowman also has ranged making it a very good multiplayer ally. Hunter works better solo since getting and keeping 2 enemies engaged can be tough outside a Trap deck, but an extra enemy early in true solo is also difficult to manage. I like what the card can do for the Dunedain archetype. It is difficult to play at the right time and use well.

  • Dave – 7
  • Grant – TBR
  • Ted – 4
  • Matt – 8
  • Average – 6.33

External Links

Sample Decks

Legolas Shoots Locations by kattattack22

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.

Legolas Shoots Locations aka Mono Tactics v4

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.

Guardian of Esgaroth – Community Review

by David Renaud

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

Background

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

Card Theme

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

Card Synergies and Interactions

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

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

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

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

Ring Rating

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

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

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

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

4P Ranger Summons by David Renaud

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

Main Deck

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

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

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

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

3 Heroes, 50 Cards
Cards up to Mount Gundabad

Sideboard

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

Deck built on RingsDB.

September 2021 Solo League by Alonewolf87

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

Main Deck

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

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

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

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

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

Decklist built and published on RingsDB.

Rhovanion Outrider – Community Review

by Nathan Ferraro

  • Player Card Categories 
    • Location Control
    • Willpower Bonus

Background

Honestly, my Dale lore isn’t great.

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

Card Theme

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

Card Synergies and Interactions

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

Ring Rating

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

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

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

Sample Deck

Love of the Halfling’s Leaf without circlets

Main Deck

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sideboard

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

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

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

Deck built on RingsDB.

Quickbeam (Ally)

An Ent for all decks.

  • Player Card Categories 
    • Enters Play
    • Messenger of the King
    • Readying

Background

Merry and Pippin stayed with Quickbeam while the other Ents discussed going to war against Saruman at the Entmoot. He decided early to attack Saruman as he was a hasty Ent and his trees suffered much at the axes of the Uruk-hai.

Card Theme

The game has a great mechanism to represent how the Ents are not hasty in the game. They enter play exhausted.

They all have good stats, often hero level stats representing how powerful these ancient tree herders are. Entering play exhausted keeps a player from utilizing their stats right away without another card effect to ready them. This results in a tempo hit. Tempo is a game concept I originally learned in Magic the Gathering. Basically it describes the pace a player is on to victory. If you are quickly playing cards that each get you closer to winning then your tempo is fast. Another player can disrupt this tempo by getting rid of or canceling those cards. Ents can help contribute to that pace of the game, but players have to delay getting that benefit for a turn since they’re not immediately available. The encounter deck then might be a card ahead in tempo since the player forgoes using a card to deal with the new treachery, location, or enemy revealed that turn. Then it becomes a question of, if the power of the Ents overtake the encounter deck’s tempo advantage,

Card Synergies and Interactions

Ent Tribal

There are many other Ent cards that synergize quite well with Quickbeam as many have effects that work with damaged Ents. Booming Ent and Leaflock each count how many damaged Ents are in play to gain attack and willpower boosts, respectively. A player then that damages Quickbeam to ready him right away can also be boosting other Ent allies. Boom and Trumpted is a little more difficult to realize the benefit using Quickbeam’s ability, but not impossible. It just will require effects that put an ally into play outside of the planning phase like Sneak Attack or Reinforcements. Then of course there are facilitating cards like Entmoot and Treebeard ally. Entmoot is fantastic tribal card draw since it is not look at the top 5 and choose one but get all the Ent cards. Even if it doesn’t offset Ted’s top drawback for all cards, it most likely will significantly thin a player’s deck to increase the change of drawing it later. Treebeard ally acts like a 4th hero in Ent centric decks since his resources can be used to play Ent allies. Lastly, Wellinghall Preserver’s healing offsets the cost of Quickbeam’s ability since it can heal him during the Refresh phase.

Ally Action Advantage / Readying

Quickbeam has a good willpower of 2 to quest and an strong attack of 3 for an ally. It can be difficult to decide which to utilize especially if his 2 willpower is always needed to quest then a player is forgoing the use of his best stat. There are fortunately many ways to ready him. As seen earlier, there are a couple Ent speicific options with ally Treebeard if he has 2 resources although often it is better to just ready Treebeard himself. Boom and Trumpted can be an incredible play especially since it will boost his attack to 6. It will be difficult to manage outside quests with Archery considering Quickbeam’s weakest stat is defense.

While he can’t have restricted attachments, there is Valiant Determination, Spare Hood and Cloak, and Cram that can let him both quest and attack. Valiant Determination is the best of these as it will ensure he can do both every turn. Leadership Faramir hero is another way to potentially get the most use of him although it will be dependent on engaging an enemy every turn. Leadership introducted ally readying with Every Vigilant and Grim Resolve in the Core set. Ever Vigliant is a reasonably efficient to get 3 attack on an enemy. Grim Resolve with the global readying is more aimed at turning the tide of a game to make a big quest push and then try to clear the board in combat. The Free Peoples offers a bit more synergy considering Quickbeam is such a strong efficient character that can easily fit into a deck with variety of traits. Even better it will boost his willpower to 3 for that big quest push.

Fellowship

Quickbeam already has hero level stats with his 2 willpower and 3 attack. He works especially well with this contract considering he’s only 2 cost. This is very helpful considering it requires 9 unique characters in play. The faster a player can get those 6 unique allies out to pass the threshold, the sooner all those characters gets +1 willpower, attack, and defense. Quick beam then gets 3 willpower and 4 attack. This is great since he can’t have restricted attachments and can’t get many of the other stat boosting attachments for allies.

Messenger of the King

Messenger of the King Quickbeam is a terrible nonbo. Quickbeam is amazing because he has the stats of a 4 cost ally or regular hero for the low, low cost of 2 Lore resources. Messenger of the King makes you pay the full cost of his stats with 9 threat and he’s enters play either exhausted or with a damage unlike other 9 threat cost heroes. A player is better off choosing a different unique ally with a a good ability, or a low threat hero with a decent stat or two. Lore has enough card draw that Quickbeam is easy to dig out the player’s deck.

Ring Rating

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

I rate Quickbeam at 1 ring. His cost to stats ratio is insane. Then his ability to ready once he comes into play completely offsets the Ent drawback of entering play exhausted to compensate for the higher stats. He has to take a damage, but that’s not a big deal and can even be a synergy. That can help immediately boost a Booming Ent. Otherwise, it only takes one Wellinghall Preserver to offset that cost. Even if he isn’t healed, he still has a 2 respectable hit points. There are a few quests that have effects that scale by damaged characters, but there so few and far between that it is negligible. The only arguments I have against him being a 1 is that he’s not neutral and he’s a terrible Messenger of the King hero. Otherwise, any deck I’m building with Lore that isn’t a trait centric deck or using Forth, the Three Hunters is going to have a minimum of one copy of Quickbeam. Most likely 2 to increase the changes of seeing him and minimize having a dead draw since he’s unique.

  • Dave – 3
  • Grant – TBR
  • Ted – 2
  • Matt – 1
  • Average – 2

External Links

Sample Decks

Super Hasty Ents by Master of Lore

Master of Lore created an Ent deck designed to avoid the tempo hit using Grima to play Treebeard turn 1. Faramir can ready Ents while engaging enemies or Treebeard’s resources will ready them if there are no enemies in play.

Main Deck

Hero (3)
Faramir (The Land of Shadow)
Gandalf (The Road Darkens)
Gríma (The Voice of Isengard)

Ally (19)
1x Beechbone (The Battle of Carn Dûm)
3x Booming Ent (The Antlered Crown)
3x Derndingle Warrior (Escape from Mount Gram)
2x Quickbeam (The Treason of Saruman)
1x Skinbark (The Land of Shadow)
3x Treebeard (The Antlered Crown)
3x Wandering Ent (Celebrimbor’s Secret)
3x Wellinghall Preserver (Across the Ettenmoors)

Attachment (20)
2x Ent Draught (The Treason of Saruman)
3x Favor of the Valar (The Battle of Carn Dûm)
3x Gandalf’s Staff (The Road Darkens)
3x Keys of Orthanc (The Voice of Isengard)
3x Narya (The Grey Havens)
3x Steward of Gondor (Core Set)
3x Wizard Pipe (The Road Darkens)

Event (11)
3x A Good Harvest (The Steward’s Fear)
3x Daeron’s Runes (Foundations of Stone)
3x Entmoot (The Treason of Saruman)
2x The Galadhrim’s Greeting (Core Set)

3 Heroes, 50 Cards
Cards up to The Grey Havens

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.

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

Horseback Archer

Horseback Archer, a nostalgic core set card. Anyone who’s played the classic Tactics deck from the original core set has held this card in their hand. At the time it was somewhat of a special card as it was one of two ally cards including the “Ranged” keyword. Furthermore, it has a fair line of stats, as far as core set cards are concerned, and only cost 3 resources to put into play. Horseback Archer is also one of three Rohan allies in the core set, and one of three allies with the “Archer” trait. Add that to the cool artwork and Horseback Archer becomes an instant classic. Or does it? A quick show of hands, how many people still use Horseback Archer? As the game had aged, so had the meta and power creep. The question now becomes has Horseback Archer aged like fine wine, or like the ruins of Weathertop or the Dead Marshes? Let’s take a look, shall we?

Background / Lore

It is evident in the lore that horseback archers actually existed. The quote on the card references The Two Towers, specifically from “The Uruk-Hai” chapter. We all now the scene. Merry and Pippin are held captive by Uglúk and his band of Uruk-Hai near Fangorn while on their way to Isengard. They stop for camp, have a little “disagreement” with the orcs from Mordor, talk about what’s on the menu for dinner, and then next thing you know it they’re surrounded by the Rohirrim who could care less about Uruk dinner etiquette. Well, that’s how Peter Jackson told the story anyway. In the movie I don’t recall a single horseback archer in that scene. They are in the books, though. The book reads:

“A few of the riders appeared to be bowmen, skilled at shooting from a running horse. Riding swiftly into range they shot arrows at the Orcs that straggled behind, and several of them fell; then the riders wheeled away out of the range of the answering bows of their enemies, who shot wildly, not daring to halt.”

—The Two Towers

Here we get a glimpse of Rohirrim tactics demonstrated by the horseback archers. In their effectiveness they provided the shock value needed to allow Merry and Pippin escape. I’m sure Eomer slaying Uglúk helped too, but that will be for another review. In any case we get a strong sense of the important role of the horseback archer, both in the above quoted text and in the battle of Pelennor fields.

Card Theme

Horseback Archer fits quite nicely in some of the Rohan-themed battles in the game. For example, they would most certainly be thematic in “The Uruk-Hai” and “Battle of Pelennor Fields” quests where they are specifically mentioned in the book. The trouble may come if you’re trying to build around them. In which case you will be up against a challenge. First off, you are going to want to ensure you’re playing multiplayer to make use of Horseback Archer’s “Ranged” keyword which is strongly tied to their theme. Merry and Pippin would be excellent choices for heroes in the adjacent deck if playing a thematic multiplayer game. Unfortunately, Horseback Archer cannot wield any bow in the game which ends up being a thematic setback. Somehow they forgot how to use the “Bow of Yew” used by their ancestors I guess? It ends up being reasons like these that the use of Horseback Archer in thematic builds might be based on quest theme versus effectiveness. 

Now, that is not to say there aren’t any thematic options for Horseback Archer. You could really throw them in any Rohan deck with special consideration for multiplayer games. For this you’re going to want to include ***Theoden who allows Horseback Archer to enter at a reduced resource match. Playing him this way makes his cost palatable whereas the 3-cost is hard to justify at times. The goal here would be to put him into play solely for his Ranged keyword which could make quite a big impact in many scenarios. 

Speaking of the Ranged keyword, you could also make a thematic Ranged deck. There is something like 20 Ranged allies in the game across all four spheres. Luckily for Horseback Archer there are several Tactics heroes and allies with the same keyword which would make it a viable option in bigger multiplayer games. The Horseback Archer might be among the more expensive allies with the keyword but it also has good stats to trade off making. This makes him a good deal if you can afford it. Ideally, you are including several allies with Ranged along with several attachments which boost their attack. All of this could add up quickly if the players can control the board state for long enough. Just make sure there is a good questing deck along for the ride!

Card Synergies and Interactions

While thematic options are not too middle-earthshattering, how about general deckbuilding? Horseback Archer is a great addition to early deckbuilding where ranged and Tactics are needed. You could throw him in a lot of decks to achieve combat across the board. Full disclosure: we are going to have to get pretty creative and a bit silly to make him work well. The problem is his value decreases the farther you get into the game. Why? Because later on you get cards like ***Fornost Bowman and ***Marksman of Lorien who are both 3-cost allies with Ranged and perform other functions that often make a bigger difference AND have access to better attachments and synergies. Still, Horseback Archer has a solid 2 attack which is wonderful in the right situation. The only thing you would need to do is add to his attack somehow.

There are a few options to add to Horseback Archer’s combat effectiveness. When trying to recall attachment cards I was surprised to find there were no “attach to a character with ranged” cards that he was eligible to wield. Luckily there are still some good options that I will highlight below.

Spear of the Mark

Spear of the Mark is thematic option, just not in terms of what an “archer” might wield. It does increase his attack by +1 which would significantly increase his value. If you can find a way for him to attack the staging area that would be a +2 boost which ends up doubling his attack. ***Hands Upon he Bow and ***Ithilien pit could be extremely useful combos here as well.

War Axe

War Axe grants you a general increase of +1 attack and +2 with another restricted attachment. That’s potentially a +4 base ranged attack if you have a Spear of the Mark and attacking the staging area. Sure, it takes a few combos but I’d have to say it’s worth it!

Raiment of War

Not quite as powerful in terms of boosting attack but very powerful in boosting overall combat effectiveness. Raiment of War is sometimes a card just sitting in your hand if you already have one out. Attaching it to Horseback Archer would mean you give it the ability to perform a ranged attack better and give yourself the option to defend with 2 defense and 4 HP. Not bad! I would only consider this option if I were playing Spirit Theoden as 5 resources is spendy.

Hands Upon the Bow

No Ranged character is complete without it!

Other Obscene Combos

Keep in mind these are not the most ideal combos. With that being said we are here to have a bit of fun while this game destroys our morale and bank account! So why not have a bit of fun with it? And what better fun than going full Voltron with a Spear of the Mark, War Axe, ***Self Preservation, ***Spare Pipe, and ***Valiant Determination? Better yet, break out that ***Elf-friend and load him up with things like ***Bow of the Galadhrim, ***Rivendell Bow, and ***Rivendell Blade. Amplify this with ***Hands Upon the Bow! Let’s get Rhovanion Wild in here!

Quest Specific

There are not many specific quests that come to mind that Horseback Archer is a “must include” card. I think it really comes down to what your objective is. Multiplayer clearly poses the best scenario where he becomes viable. I personally only use him in Rohan or Ranged archetypes beyond my early days in the game. Let us not forget the thematic quests such as “The Uruk-Hai” and “The Battle of Pelennor Fields” which would make Horseback Archer quite appropriate to use, but still not necessarily a must.

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 think Horseback Archer deserves a complex analysis for his ring rating. We have to consider the following variables: use for new players, multiplayer, Rohan decks, and general deckbuilding. 

  • I feel Horseback Archer is a solid option for new players and should be used as a decent attacker and emergency defender. He deserves a 3 for newer players (in part because of a lack of overall options). 
  • Multiplayer, especially a Ranged theme deck, is perhaps his best inclusion. He gets a 4 here for utility. 
  • For Rohan decks, Horseback Archer should really only be included if you need a Ranged or Tactics character, or need more allies in general. A 6 here.
  • For general deckbuilding, he gets a 9. Sorry bud, there are just too many better options. Thankfully for you there are worse options too!
  • This all averages out to a 5.5. If we round up we get a 6 which I feel is fair all things considered.
  • Dave – 10
  • Grant – 8
  • Ted – 9
  • Joe – 6
  • Average – 8.25

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