Boots from Erebor

  • Player Card Categories
    • Hit Point Bonus
    • Ally Attachment
    • Burglar Treasure

A mundane bonus for a mundane item.

Background

The Lonely Mountain (Erebor) was a large mountain in northeastern Rhovanion that was a major Dwarven stronghold and source of the river Running. The Kingdom under the Mountain was established in T.A. 1999 by Thráin I after he fled from the awakening of Durin’s Bane in the capital of Khazad-dûm. The dwarves dug halls and caves to form the underground city, and the increased prosperity of the area led to the founding of the town of Dale. Thorin I abandoned the Mountain in T.A. 2210 for the Grey Mountains, but after the War of the Dwarves and Dragons, Thrór led a group of dwarves back to Erebor, reestablishing it as the capital of Durin’s folk. The great dragon Smaug attacked the mountain and drove out the dwarves in T.A. 2770, and the mountain remained empty for almost 200 years, with Smaug sleeping in the innermost chamber.

In T.A. 2941, King Thorin II and his company, with the help of Bilbo Baggins, retook the city and the treasure, but Thorin became ill with Dragon Sickness and refused to give any treasure to the Men of Esgaroth. The dwarves were placed under siege, but with the help of Gandalf and the alliance of Elves, Men, and Dwarves, they were victorious against the Orcs and Wargs in the Battle Under the Mountain. Thorin was mortally wounded, and Dáin took up the kingship and returned the Longbeards to the Lonely Mountain. The kingdom was rebuilt, including various improvements to the mountain, but the kingdom and its occupants were not immune to the great Shadow that rose in the last years of the Third Age. During the War of the Ring, the Kingdom of Dale was invaded by an army of Easterlings, and the Dwarves aided the Men of Dale in the great battle at the feet of the mountain. King Brand and King Dáin were killed, but the Men and Dwarves held out until they heard news of Sauron’s defeat in the south.

Card Theme

The game highlights the importance of defensive boosts in increasing a character’s odds of survival. Armor cards like Citadel Plate, Ancestral Armor, Ring Mail, or Raiment of War all offer an added layer of protection in combat by granting extra hit points. This makes complete sense, as the purpose of armor is to guard the wearer from harm and enhance their chances of making it through a battle unscathed.

However, armor isn’t the only piece of apparel that can have a significant impact on a character’s well-being. Boots are a prime example of an overlooked, yet crucial piece of a character’s gear. The characters in The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings walk for countless miles on their adventures. The significance of having a sturdy pair of boots that can protect their feet and keep them comfortable. Not only does it allow them to traverse difficult terrain, but it also reduces the risk of injury and fatigue, giving them a better chance of making it through their journey intact. In short, Boots from Erebor provide a layer of protection and comfort.

Card Synergies and Interactions

Gloin and Gimli

The Core Set father son duo that rewarded players for taking damage. Gloin gave players additional resources and additional attack on Gimli. The more hit points each have, the more bonuses the players could gain. Even better is the boots are not restricted and do not block putting 2 Citadel Plates on either one. This is very important to Gloin Voltron decks that seek to maximize the undefended attacks he can take to generate resources.

Hobbits

The Hobbits in general are in desperate need of hit points. Only Fatty Bolger, Sam Gamgee, and Tom Cotton have more than 2. Anyway the Hobbits can get more hit points makes them more likely to survive. Especially in scenarios with lots of Archery or direct damage. Spirit Frodo and Tom Cotton will benefit more than the others as the more defensively inclined Hobbit heroes.

Erestor Gift Deck

Erestor can easily cycle through a deck quickly but playing all the cards can be the challenge. Unless the deck is mostly full of zero cost attachments to spread around the table to other players. If the Erestor player knows someone is playing Hobbits or Dwarves then Boots can be a good inclusion.

Beorn Hero and Dori Ally

Beorn hero can’t be healed because he is immune to player card effects. Dori ally, however, can redirect damage since his ability targets the damage. More hit points on Dori increase the chances he can survive using his response until he can be healed. Messenger of the King makes this more reliable as Dori can start in play as a hero.

Burglar’s Turn

A player can technically choose the Boots to include in the loot deck. Doing so actually increases the cost to put the Boots into play since a location needs to be explored first. It really is not a great choice for the contract and it is a bit of a nonbo.

Quest Specific

Having a higher hit point count is advantageous in quests with a high concentration of archery and direct damage effects. This increases the chances of survival until healing or a favorable action opportunity becomes available. The Watcher in the Water, Against the Shadow, Haradhrim, and Vengeance of Mordor quests all contain significant amounts of archery, as do the Lord of the Rings Saga quests starting from Treason of Saruman.

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 would only rate Boots from Erebor a measly 8 rings. It’s barely a filler card, due to its minimal impact. While it may have been useful in a limited card pool like its release in the Khazad-Dum deluxe, it was only a decent 47th to 50th card because it was a zero-cost neutral attachment that could provide a hit point. As the card pool has grown, Dwarves and Hobbits have more options to increase their hit points. Not to mention many more allies and attachments that do a lot more for each trait. The best use for the Boots would be in a Gloin deck, but even then, the deck has numerous alternatives, so it may not even make the final cut with only a single copy.

  • Dave – 4
  • Grant – 6
  • Ted – TBR
  • Matt – 8

External Links

Sample Decks

Bond of Hobbitship by Dave Walsh

Bond of Friendship Hobbit Good Stuff deck.

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.

Khazad Dum Minimum Purchase 3 by Darkling Door

This is a deck built from just Core Set + Khazad-dûm cards for Path Less Traveled, an ongoing series on his blog, Darkling Door.

Main Deck

Hero (3)
Bifur (Khazad-dûm)
Gimli (Core Set)
Glóin (Core Set)

Ally (22)
1x Brok Ironfist (Core Set)
3x Daughter of the Nimrodel (Core Set)
2x Erebor Hammersmith (Core Set)
3x Erebor Record Keeper (Khazad-dûm)
2x Faramir (Core Set)
3x Gandalf (Core Set)
2x Gléowine (Core Set)
2x Longbeard Orc Slayer (Core Set)
2x Miner of the Iron Hills (Core Set)
2x Veteran Axehand (Core Set)

Attachment (14)
3x Boots from Erebor (Khazad-dûm)
2x Citadel Plate (Core Set)
2x Dwarrowdelf Axe (Khazad-dûm)
3x Narvi’s Belt (Khazad-dûm)
2x Protector of Lórien (Core Set)
2x Self Preservation (Core Set)

Event (14)
3x Ancestral Knowledge (Khazad-dûm)
3x Durin’s Song (Khazad-dûm)
2x Quick Strike (Core Set)
2x Radagast’s Cunning (Core Set)
2x Secret Paths (Core Set)
2x Sneak Attack (Core Set)

3 Heroes, 50 Cards
Cards up to Khazad-dûm

Decklist built and published on RingsDB.

protect the bear by doomguard

Messenger of the King Dori protects hero Beorn by taking The One Ring and all the bonus hit point attachments.

Main Deck

Hero (3)
(MotK) Dori (Messenger of the King Allies)
Beorn (Over Hill and Under Hill)
Galadriel (Celebrimbor’s Secret)

Ally (6)
1x Bilbo Baggins (The Road Darkens)
1x Gaffer Gamgee (Mount Gundabad)
3x Honour Guard (The Wastes of Eriador)
1x Robin Smallburrow (The Drowned Ruins)

Attachment (33)
1x Boots from Erebor (Khazad-dûm)
3x Citadel Plate (Core Set)
2x Golden Belt (Challenge of the Wainriders)
3x Lembas (Trouble in Tharbad)
1x Magic Ring (The Crossings of Poros)
3x Mirror of Galadriel (Celebrimbor’s Secret)
3x Nenya (Celebrimbor’s Secret)
3x Ring of Barahir (The Steward’s Fear)
2x Self Preservation (Core Set)
2x Silver Harp (The Treachery of Rhudaur)
1x Song of Mocking (The Dead Marshes)
2x Spare Pipe (The Land of Sorrow)
1x The One Ring (A Shadow in the East)
2x Thrór’s Key (On the Doorstep)
1x Thrór’s Map (Over Hill and Under Hill)
2x Unexpected Courage (Core Set)
1x Well Preserved (Under the Ash Mountains)

Event (13)
3x A Test of Will (Core Set)
1x Beorn’s Rage (The Withered Heath)
3x Drinking Song (Mount Gundabad)
3x Feint (Core Set)
3x Well-Equipped (The Blood of Gondor)

Player Side Quest (1)
1x Keep Watch (Beneath the Sands)

3 Heroes, 53 Cards
Cards up to The Land of Sorrow

Sideboard

Hero (1)
Éowyn (Core Set)

Ally (3)
3x Erebor Toymaker (Mount Gundabad)

Decklist built and published on RingsDB.

Heir of Valandil

  • Player Card Categories
    • Cost Reduction
    • Resource Acceleration

The trait based resource acceleration for Dunedain.

Background

You might be wondering who is the Heir of Valandil? Spoilers, it is Aragorn. I know what you’re thinking. Aragorn is Isildur’s Heir. How can he be the Heir of Valandil too? It is because Valandil was the original heir of Isildur. As Isildur’s youngest son he became the king of Arnor after his brothers and Isildur died at the Disaster of Gladden Fields. Valandil ended being the longest reigning king of Arnor at 239 years.

Card Theme

The card’s ally cost reduction by engaging an enemies is similar to idea behind Dunedain Hunter. The Dunedain rangers went where there was trouble during The Watchful Peace. It makes sense that their chieftain would have an easier time mustering them to deal with an immediate threat.

Card Synergies and Interactions

Dunedain Allies

A player might wonder why they might use Heir of Valandil when there is already a staple 2 cost unique resource acceleration attachment, Steward of Gondor. There are a couple reasons to highlight. The first is that the cost reduction can be applied to any Dunedain ally that a player already has a resource match for. This is very advantageous considering the 23 Dunedain allies in the game span all 4 spheres.

The second is, a player can use both. Nearly 2/3 of the Dunedain allies cost 3 or more resources. All the resource acceleration Dunedain can get help get a critical mass of allies and overcome the scenario. Lastly, it provides an alternative in multiplayer when someone else already has Steward of Gondor.

Traps

Traps are ideal way to increase the attachment’s cost reduction. Forest Snare in particular works really well because the enemy remains engaged but no longer attacks. Entangling Nets and Outmatched create a similar more safely engaged enemy that can be defended without sacrificing an action. Shadow effects are still a concern unless the player has a defender with some shadow cancelation like A Burning Brand.

Attack Cancellation

Attack cancelation effects like Feint, Thicket of Spears, The Wizard’s Voice, and Coney in a Trap like Trap attachments can help increase the cost reduction and reduce the risk of the engaged enemy albeit just temporarily.

Gloin hero

Gloin can be an interesting way to increase the effect. Song of Wisdom or Narvi’s Belt or a Warden of Healing make it that Gloin can heal all damage done to him quite easily. Some hit point bonuses from attachments like Citadel Plate, and he can take undefended attacks even from boss level enemies. Provided shadow effects don’t discard attachments, it can be quite easy to keep several enemies engaged without much trouble. Heir of Valandil might become a “win more” card at that point since combat is essentially neutralized.

Attachment Search

Ted often points out that a big drawback to any card is you have to draw it. Fortunately, there are 2 cards that help find an attachment in a deck. Galadriel ally searches the top 5 cards and puts it into play. She is even in sphere with Heir of Valandil. Master of the Forge will do the same expect put it into a player’s hand, but it can be used each round.

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 Heir of Valandil at 7 rings. It is only going into a Dunedain focused deck considering it requires a Dunedain hero and works only on Dunedain allies. That alone immediately makes it a niche card. Then the effect is conditional on having at least 1 enemy engaged. The Dunedain generally want to do that anyway, but it is risky. Especially if keeping any enemies engaged to keep the bonus. The only really nice part of the effect is that it is unlimited. The cost reduction can get high enough to even play a 5 cost Dunedain Wanderer into play for free.

The other major drawback is that it has the same sphere, cost, and also unique like Steward of Gondor. In solo play, unless your Dunedain are really spread across 3 or 4 spheres, Steward is going to be better. In multiplayer, it has the advantage of being a potential alternative if Steward is already taken. It is going to see some play in dedicated Dunedain decks, but not much outside of them.

  • Dave – 8
  • Grant – TBR
  • Ted – 5
  • Matt – 7
  • Average – 6.67

External Links

Sample Decks

Dunedain Trappers by Seastan

The most popular Dunedain deck utilizing traps to maximize engaged enemies and power up the effects of Heir of Valandil and Dunedain allies.

Dunedain Trappers

Main Deck

Hero (3)
Amarthiúl (The Battle of Carn Dûm)
Aragorn (The Watcher in the Water)
Damrod (The Land of Shadow)

Ally (20)
2x Dúnedain Hunter (The Lost Realm)
2x Dúnedain Watcher (The Dead Marshes)
3x Galadriel (The Road Darkens)
3x Guardian of Arnor (The Battle of Carn Dûm)
3x Master of the Forge (Shadow and Flame)
3x Northern Tracker (Core Set)
2x Sarn Ford Sentry (The Lost Realm)
2x Warden of Annúminas (The Lost Realm)

Attachment (17)
2x Celebrían’s Stone (Core Set)
3x Forest Snare (Core Set)
1x Gondorian Fire (Assault on Osgiliath)
2x Gondorian Shield (The Steward’s Fear)
2x Heir of Valandil (The Lost Realm)
2x Ranger Spikes (Heirs of Númenor)
3x Steward of Gondor (Core Set)
2x Sword that was Broken (The Watcher in the Water)

Event (13)
3x Daeron’s Runes (Foundations of Stone)
3x Deep Knowledge (The Voice of Isengard)
2x Descendants of Kings (Escape from Mount Gram)
3x Feint (Core Set)
2x Tighten Our Belts (The Nîn-in-Eilph)

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

Decklist built and published on RingsDB.

Asfaloth – Community Review

by Clare Bernier

  • Card Talk Season TBD Episode TBD
    • Video episode
    • Audio episode
  • Cycle
    • Darrowdelf
  • Set
    • Foundations of Stone
  • Player Card Categories 
    • Location Control

Card Background & Theme

The art, flavor text and mechanics reflects the description J.R.R. Tolkien provided in one of his letters, including “ornamental headstall, carrying a plume, and with the straps studded with jewels and small bells.” The card’s flavor text and mechanics are true to the lore, as Asfaloth was Glorfindel’s horse, who was commanded to bear Frodo across the Bruinen after his wounding at Weathertop.

Card Synergies and Interactions

Mostly pros here, with a few drawbacks due to cards that may be part of the Encounter deck. Asfaloth is pretty cheap to get out – but he is also Unique (only 1 copy of him can be in play). Of course, you have to be playing the Lore sphere (or at least have access to Lore sphere resources), and you must have a Noldur or Silvan hero to attach him to. He’s useful with or without Glorfindel – placing even 1 progress token on a land can be huge, especially in scenarios where you can easily become land-locked. True, the designers have come up with many ways to thwart Asfaloth’s progress — lands that cannot be targeted by card effects, and so on. If I’m playing Lore, I usually consider Asfaloth at some point in the deck design.

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.

A large part of what I enjoy most in playing LOTR:LCG is being able to construct an exciting narrative around the heroes and allies struggling to complete each scenario as I play. Asfaloth helps deliver that in a very satisfying way. We summon Asfaloth to the aid of one of our heroes and command him bear our hero more quickly (and thus more safely!) through the ravaged lands of Middle Earth on our way to complete this leg of the journey To me, this is the most wonderful thing about this card.

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

Hobbit Cloak

  • Player Card Categories 
    • Defense Bonus
    • Surprise
    • Burglar Treasure

Hobbit tribal defense boost

Background

The flavor text comes from Chapter 3 of the Fellowship of the Ring, Three is Company. It comes not long after Frodo leaves Bag End and overhears Gaffer talking to a black rider that is asking after him. It describes Pippin, Sam and him walking silently in the night as they leave Hobbiton.

Card Theme

The game represents the Hobbits affinity for stealth with various bonuses for engaging enemies with higher engagement cost than their threat. This can easily be construed as the advantage they get from the element of surprise. The description of how the Hobbit cloaks help the characters is a bit of stretch to a defensive bonus. It does help them in a defensive manner by avoiding discovery. There already are a couple mechanisms for that in game, engagement and threat control. It seems like threat reduction or increase engagement cost would have been much more thematic in this case. It is not entirely without precedent. Dunedain Warning, the first Leadership attachment with a defense bonus, arguably more about avoiding danger than protective gear.

Card Synergies and Interactions

Engagement Control and Threat Reduction

The game has 2 ways to help ensure Hobbit Cloak defense bonus can trigger, increase the enemies’ engagement cost and reduce a player’s threat. The only repeatable engagement cost increase is from Lore Pippin‘s ability. There are only a couple cards that can increase an enemy’s engagement cost further, 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.

Threat reduction is better considering there are several more cards for it. Unfortunately, in sphere options are limited to Leadership Frodo and Sneak Attack and Gandalf. 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. Leadership Frodo, Spirit Merry, 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.

Hobbit Heroes

Sam Gamgee is an excellent target for the cloak. His ability also triggers when engaging an enemy with higher threat readying him to defend. On top of that his base defense is boosted to 2 and with the cloak he gets up to 4 defense matching that of Beregond. Sam also has the most base hit points of the Hobbit heroes only matched by his father-in-law, Tom Cotton. Tom also makes a great target since he has the best defense stat. Both versions of Frodo also can benefit from it. Leadership Frodo provides Leadership access and threat reduction to help keep triggering it as the game progresses. Spirit Frodo already is great defender thanks to his ability, but it only works once per phase. The cloak can allow Frodo to save his ability for when it is really needed and still defend some lesser enemies.

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 Hobbit Cloak at 7 rings. It is fairly niche considering it is limited to Hobbit heroes and conditional on the attacking enemy having a higher engagement cost. The bonus however is fair costed compared to the +1 defense of Dunedain Warning that can go on any hero and no conditions. It is also similar to the other tribal defense boosts like Gondorian Shield, Shining Shield, and Cloak of Lorien that give a conditional +2 defense for 1 cost. It is slightly less powerful considering it doesn’t provide +1 defense all the time like the others. It works well in a Hobbit deck that focuses on utilizing the bonuses for engaging enemies with higher engagement cost. It is not going to see much play outside that deck type.

  • Dave – 6
  • Grant – 4
  • Ted – TBR
  • Matt – 7
  • Average – 6.67

External Links

Sample Decks

Three Hobbit Treasure Hunters for Antlered Crown by kattattack22

A Hobbit Three Hunters deck utilizing Expert Treasure Hunter for card draw and Fast Hitch for action advantage.

Main Deck

Hero (3)
Bilbo Baggins (Mount Gundabad)
Pippin (The Black Riders)
Sam Gamgee (The Black Riders)

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

Attachment (41)
2x Celebrían’s Stone (Core Set)
3x Dagger of Westernesse (The Black Riders)
3x Dúnedain Mark (The Hunt for Gollum)
3x Expert Treasure-hunter (On the Doorstep)
3x Fast Hitch (The Dead Marshes)
3x Golden Belt (Challenge of the Wainriders)
3x Gondorian Shield (The Steward’s Fear)
3x Hobbit Cloak (The Black Riders)
1x Magic Ring (The Crossings of Poros)
2x Necklace of Girion (The Wilds of Rhovanion)
3x Protector of Lórien (Core Set)
3x Ranger Spikes (Heirs of Númenor)
3x Ring Mail (The Long Dark)
3x Staff of Lebethron (The Land of Shadow)
3x Sting (Mount Gundabad)

Event (9)
3x Feint (Core Set)
3x Heed the Dream (Flight of the Stormcaller)
3x The Shirefolk (Mount Gundabad)

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

Sideboard

Attachment (3)
3x Secret Vigil (The Lost Realm)

Event (3)
3x Deep Knowledge (The Voice of Isengard)

Decklist built and published on RingsDB.

Bond of Hobbitship by Dave Walsh

Dave’s LOTR Saga campaign deck using Bond of Friendship.

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.

Palantir – Community Review

by Erik Miller

  • Player Card Categories 
    • Card Draw
    • Encounter Scrying
    • Encounter Control
    • Burglar Treasure

Background

It’s a big shiny ball that men, Hobbits, and corrupt wizards like to stare into. Too bad only Nobles can use it in the game.

Card Theme

The theme is spot on. Look into the future, and you may be rewarded …. or cursed.

Card Synergies and Interactions

Grey Wanderer, Risk Some Light, Lore Denethor, Needful to Know, Celduin Traveler, Ithilien Lookout, Far Sighted

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 Palantir got a lot easier to use with the Grey Wander contract (although it can still to be fun to use with low starting threat heroes), making its value increase since it first came out. With the contract, your threat starts low, you can start with the Palantir in play, and you can ready after using the Palantir. There are also secrecy cards that let you peek at the top cards of the encounter deck when in secrecy. This makes your hit rate with the Palantir increase. With three players, you know exactly what cards you will be getting. In solo, you can set yourself up for multiple rounds. And, even if you don’t know what’s coming the fun of guessing the card type and revealing could (maybe) make up for any threat increase you end up taking.

  • Erik – 4
  • Ian Martin – 5
  • Dave – 7
  • Grant – 7
  • Ted – TBR
  • Matt – 6
  • Average – 5.8

CON LGrn – To Scry or not to Scry by Erik Miller

Grey Wanderer Denethor with a few different ways to scry and control the encounter deck.

CON LGrn – To Scry or not to Scry

Main Deck

Hero (1)
Denethor (Core Set)

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

Ally (20)
3x Celduin Traveler (The Nîn-in-Eilph)
2x Firyal (The Mûmakil)
2x Gandalf (Core Set)
1x Gléowine (Core Set)
1x Haldir of Lórien (A Journey to Rhosgobel)
1x Henamarth Riversong (Core Set)
3x Ithilien Lookout (The Dunland Trap)
1x Mablung (The Land of Shadow)
2x Mirkwood Explorer (The Thing in the Depths)
1x Quickbeam (The Treason of Saruman)
1x Treebeard (The Antlered Crown)
2x Wandering Ent (Celebrimbor’s Secret)

Attachment (8)
1x Dark Knowledge (Core Set)
1x Gondorian Shield (The Steward’s Fear)
1x Palantir (Assault on Osgiliath)
3x Resourceful (The Watcher in the Water)
2x Unexpected Courage (Core Set)

Event (19)
3x Far-sighted (Challenge of the Wainriders)
2x Gildor’s Counsel (The Hills of Emyn Muil)
3x Needful to Know (The Redhorn Gate)
3x Risk Some Light (Shadow and Flame)
2x Shadow of the Past (Return to Mirkwood)
1x Swift and Silent (The Dunland Trap)
2x The Galadhrim’s Greeting (Core Set)
3x Timely Aid (The Redhorn Gate)

Player Side Quest (3)
1x Double Back (Escape from Mount Gram)
1x Gather Information (The Lost Realm)
1x Scout Ahead (The Wastes of Eriador)

1 Hero, 50 Cards
Cards up to Challenge of the Wainriders

Sideboard

Ally (11)
2x Anfalas Herdsman (The Steward’s Fear)
3x Ethir Swordsman (The Steward’s Fear)
1x Ithilien Tracker (Heirs of Númenor)
1x Robin Smallburrow (The Drowned Ruins)
3x Silvan Refugee (The Drúadan Forest)
1x Treebeard (The Antlered Crown)

Attachment (2)
1x Elf-stone (The Black Riders)
1x Strider (The Drowned Ruins)

Event (13)
3x Daeron’s Runes (Foundations of Stone)
3x Drinking Song (Mount Gundabad)
1x Gildor’s Counsel (The Hills of Emyn Muil)
3x Out of the Wild (Road to Rivendell)
1x Shadow of the Past (Return to Mirkwood)
2x The Hidden Way (The Withered Heath)

Deck built on RingsDB.

Fellowship of the Ring

  • Player Card Categories 
    • Willpower Bonus

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

Background

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

Card Theme

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

Card Synergies and Interactions

Willpower Based Abilities

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

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

Ring Rating

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

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

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

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

External Links

Sample Decks

Hobbits BoF July 2020 Solo League by kattattack22

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

Main Deck

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

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

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

5 Heroes, 50 Cards
Cards up to Wrath and Ruin

Deck built on RingsDB.

The Road Darkens – Minimum Purchase 1 by Darkling Door

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

Main Deck

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

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

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

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

3 Heroes, 50 Cards
Cards up to The Road Darkens

Sideboard

Hero (1)
Frodo Baggins (The Road Darkens)

Decklist built and published on RingsDB.

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

short deck description

Main Deck

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

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

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

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

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

Sideboard

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

Decklist built and published on RingsDB.

Spear of the Citadel – Community Review

by Anthony Burke

  • Card Talk Season TBD Episode TBD
    • Video episode
    • Audio episode
  • Cycle
    • Against the Shadow
  • Set
    • Heirs of Numenor
  • Player Card Categories 
    • Direct Damage
    • Ally Attachment
    • Burglar Treasure

Background

I adore the notion of ‘reach’. Defence in depth provided by spears and shield walls really highlights Gondor going into its shell under Denethor’s reign. With a renewed vigour during the Battle of Minas Tirath, the spear becomes aggressive again and wields itself with devastating efficiency.

Card Theme

Given it is a ‘thorns/reflection’ style card it works well with ANY blocker. Anything where you’re needing a tactics defender OR a defender that can have this cost paid by someone with Tactics is nice.

Card Synergies and Interactions

Beregond Tactics is a super synergy as you can play 2 cost attachments for free. If this is drawn in the opening hand you’re in a good stead. Things that search your deck for attachments (Master of the Forge) allows you to find something quickly outside your opening hand.

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.

Spear of the Citadel provides a defender an ability to damage an enemy. The timing of “is declared” can be used to the advantage of the player. Enemies that have 1 health or have one remaining will die before resolving their attack and shadow card.

In addition to this a defender can provide the additional damage, block the attack, and then have declared attacks hit the said attacker and this damage could be enough to kill it.

Pairs nicely with Beregond Tactics.

  • Anthony – 4
  • Dave – TBR
  • Grant – TBR
  • Ted – TBR
  • Matt – TBR
  • Average – 4

Windfola – Community Review

by John McClellan

  • Player Card Categories 
    • Quest Control
    • Willpower Bonus

Background

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

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

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

Card Theme

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

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

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

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

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

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

Card Synergies and Interactions

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

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

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

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


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

Ring Rating

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

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

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

Unexpected Courage

  • Player Card Categories
    • Readying

The quintessential readying card.

Background

This card takes inspiration from Bilbo luring the spiders in Mirkwood away from the captured members of Thorin’s Company based on the flavor text. Bilbo started off afraid.

Suddenly he saw, too, that there were spiders huge and horrible sitting in the branches above him, and ring or no ring he trembled with fear lest they should discover him.

The Hobbit, Chapter 8: Flies and Spiders

He soon finds the courage to antagonize the spiders and get them to chase him.

Bilbo saw that the moment had come when he must do something. He could not get up at the brutes and he had nothing to shoot with; but looking about he saw that in this place there were many stones lying in what appeared to be a now dry little watercourse. Bilbo was a pretty fair shot with a stone, and it did not take him long to find a nice smooth egg-shaped one that fitted his hand cosily

The Hobbit, Chapter 8: Flies and Spiders

After getting their attention, he taunts and teases the spiders to lure them away. Then he is able to circle back to free the Dwarves. The art encompasses the Dwarves battling the spiders after Bilbo rescues them. It is from here on out that Bilbo takes a more active role in the story and no longer is just the gentle Hobbit of the Shire.

Card Theme

It is fitting then that the card allows for extra uses of hero. It fits really well for representing the extra reservoir of courage they didn’t know they had.

Card Synergies and Interactions

Strong Stat Heroes

The most obvious synergy is with heroes with multiple strong stats. Unexpected Courage let’s them use those stats in multiple phases of the game as appropriate. Gwaihir in particular benefits additionally from having another way to ready besides playing an Eagle ally.

Heroes with Exhaust Abilities

Some heroes like Beravor, Denethor, and Eleanor from the Core set have an ability that requires you exhaust them to use. Most like Beravor are limited to once per phase or round. Still Unexpected Courage on let’s you their stats for questing, attacking, or defending as well as their ability. There are also a few where an attachment can give a hero an exhaust ability like the Palantir or the Elven rings.

Vengeance of Mordor increased the number of heroes this is good for with the Messenger of the King contract.

Leadership Faramir ally is an excellent example where having easier access to readying helps since his ability is not limited. Messenger of the King limits the readying of the ally turned hero to once per phase, but still triggering an additional willpower per questing character twice can be a huge boost. Especially as repeatable ally readying typically requires multiple cards to pull off.

Ted is fond of saying with powerful cards like Unexpected Courage, the downside is you have to draw it. Card draw and search effects can help you find it sooner. In Spirit, Ancient Mathom, Elven-light, and Cirdan for card draw. Imladris Stargazer and Long Lake Fisher offer some in sphere card search options. Lore offers even more of both with Daeron’s Runes, Deep Knowledge, Master of the Forge, Heed the Dream, and more. There are even a couple neutral cards that can help like core set Gandalf, Gather Information, and Steward of Orthanc.

A round about way available Spirit is to utilize the Dwarf mining effects. Zigil Miner, Spirit Dain, Erebor Guard can fill your discard pile with several cards a round. This combined with attachment recursion very prevalent in Spirit functions like card draw/search. Dwarven Tomb, Reforged, Erebor Hammersmith, and Second Breakfast can get Unexpected Courage into your hard or play from the discard pile.

Quest Specific

Many quests have encounter car effects that exhaust a character either as a when revealed or shadow effect. This goes all the way back even to the core set. Caught in a Web is the most notorious example since it makes you pay 2 resources to ready the attached hero during the refresh phase. Unexpected Courage let’s you play around this condition attachment by giving you a way to ready. Similarly in Darrowdelf you can use Unexpected Courage to avoid the negative effects of Watchful Eyes.

Aside from the encounter deck trying impede your ability to quest, attack, or defend, there are many other times the quest will require you exhaust a hero. Sometimes it is simply to claim an unguarded objective. Many other times it is required for a test to represent the heroes attempting to do something outside the normal questing. Shadow of Mirkwood introduced this idea with Escape tests in The Dead Marshes and Return to Mirkwood. These tests have to commit character’s willpower to exceed escape value on the encounter cards. Unexpected Courage on a high willpower hero like Eowyn can help tremendously to pass these tests. The Lord of the Rings Saga had similar Hide tests in A Shadow of the Past. A variation that was based solely on number of characters exhausted rather than willpower used in the Dream-Chaser cycle and Mount Doom scenario for Sailing and Fortitude test, respectively.

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 Unexpected Courage at 1. It is the kind of basic yet amazing card that needed to be in the core set to keep it relevant through the entire life of the game. Heroes tend to have better stats than allies and getting 2 or better willpower, attack, or defense typically is going to cost the same or more than Unexpected Courage’s 2 resources. That’s not even considering heroes that have abilities that are activated by exhausting them. Scenarios that feature encounter card effects that exhaust heroes or have test in them gives it even more utility. Forth, The Three Hunters and Grey Wanderer contracts only made action advantage even more valuable.

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

Sample Decks

Bilbo Super Quester

Basic idea was to use Galadriel’s, Theoden’s, and the contract’s willpower boosting to turn Bilbo into super quester especially with his ability on top.

Main Deck

Hero (3)
Bilbo Baggins (Mount Gundabad)
Galadriel (Celebrimbor’s Secret)
Théoden (The Morgul Vale)

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

Attachment (44)
3x Expert Treasure-hunter (On the Doorstep)
3x Golden Belt (Challenge of the Wainriders)
3x Golden Shield (The Flame of the West)
3x Gondorian Shield (The Steward’s Fear)
3x Herugrim (The Treason of Saruman)
2x Hobbit Pony (The Wastes of Eriador)
1x Magic Ring (The Crossings of Poros)
3x Mirror of Galadriel (Celebrimbor’s Secret)
3x Nenya (Celebrimbor’s Secret)
1x Ring Mail (The Long Dark)
3x Round Shield (Mount Gundabad)
3x Silver Circlet (Wrath and Ruin)
2x Silver Harp (The Treachery of Rhudaur)
2x Snowmane (The Land of Shadow)
3x Song of Travel (The Hills of Emyn Muil)
3x Unexpected Courage (Core Set)
3x War Axe (The City of Ulfast)

Event (6)
3x A Test of Will (Core Set)
3x Open the Armory (The Dungeons of Cirith Gurat)

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

Sideboard

Attachment (9)
3x Fast Hitch (The Dead Marshes)
3x Song of Wisdom (Conflict at the Carrock)
3x Warrior Sword (The Ghost of Framsburg)

Decklist built and published on RingsDB.

Spare Pipe

  • Player Card Categories 
    • Ally Attachment
    • Burglar Treasure
    • Card Search
    • Hit Point Bonus
    • Played from Hand

Fantastic card in the pipe deck, but otherwise just a filler.

Background

Pipe-weed originally grew in Numenor. The Numenorians brought it to Middle Earth. It was the Hobbits though that domesticated and started smoking it in pipes. The practice spread via Bree because it was a crossroads town.

Card Theme

The first part of the card is a huge thematic miss. While Tolkien indicated pipe-weed isn’t exactly tobacco it is related. The US Surgeon General has warned people for decades that smoking can lead to lung cancer. Gaining a hit point implying the character is healthier is completely backwards to what we know about smoking. The second part at least makes sense given Smoke Rings, Smoke and Think, and Old Toby are events. Once a character has a pipe, they’re going to want some leaf for it and start smoking it right away.

Card Synergies and Interactions

Smoke and Think

This is the card Spare Pipe was made for. It came in the same adventure pack. All the other pipes are trait restricted. Having a pipe for any character, in sphere, provides a universally good bonus, and helps you find Smoke and Think is everything a player wants to maximize the cost reduction. Between Hobbit Pipe, Wizard Pipe, Dunedain Pipe, and Dwarf Pipe that’s 12 cards to help maximize its effect. Fifteen cards adding in Spare Pipe. It can be difficult to fit four different traits into a single deck. Spare Pipe makes Smoke and Think possible to run in deck with just one of the associated traits. It is pretty efficient in one that can run 2.

A great example is a Dwarf Mining deck with Hero Gandalf. He already worked well with Dwarf mining decks. This is because Gandalf would let the player know at least of the cards to be minded. Then he can set up mining cards with Wizard Pipe. Dwarf Pipe being able to put one of those mined on the bottom of the deck fits right into this deck type too. Already that is 4-6 pipes in the deck to help get a decent cost reduction with Smoke and Think. Spare Pipe’s bonus hit point also won’t be amiss another great Dwarf Mining hero, Spirit Dain.

Hobbit Pipe

Spare Pipe enables the Hobbit Pipe threat reduction engine created by this card. Spare Pipe can help find a threat reduction event like the aforementioned Smoke Rings, Galadhrim’s Greeting, or The Shirefolk to draw additional cards. Smoke and Think added in gives it the additional resource acceleration component to play powerful allies like Glorfindel and Beorn to make up for their generally lower stats.

Old Toby

Old Toby like Smoke and Think became much better with Spare Pipe. It became a lot easier to have heal 1 damage on a wider range of heroes. Then to draw multiple cards. Especially at 2 cost it needs to draw 2 cards to have the same cost benefit as Lórien Wealth. It has to draw in the range of 4-6 cards to match the likes of Mithrandir’s Advice. It can however reach that level with some Spare Pipes among the other trait based ones.

Gloin

Gloin hero can turn into a monster resource engine and “defender” the more hit points he has. I say defender loosely in that usually he will be soaking undefended attacks. Spare Pipe provides another means of boosting those hit points besides the usual includes of Citadel Plate and Ent Draught. It can be a good early game option especially if paired with card draw events. Then it can help Gloin resource generation and near invincibility combos.

Dale

Spare Pipe could easily slot into a Dale deck. Dale is usually going to run some Spirit to utilize King of Dale. It doesn’t provide much for the Dale deck than an additional attachment for Guardian of Esgaroth. Many of the Dale allies have 2 or more hit points. Most Dale decks want to maximize the number of allies and attachments to draw cards from Brand son of Bain. There usually isn’t much room for events for Spare Pipe to pull out of the top 5.

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 Spare Pipe at 6 rings. It is a fine card. The +1 hit point is always useful. It is very flexible since it can go on any character. It likely will replace itself when played searching the top 5 cards for an event. It really enables the pipe engine with Hobbit Pipe and Smoke and Think. Outside of Pipe focused and maybe Gloin decks it is pretty marginal. Especially in Spirit that is overloaded with good cards.

  • Dave – 3
  • Grant – 3
  • Ted – 3
  • Matt – 6
  • Average – 3.75

Sample Decks

Deck Bond of Hobbitship by Dave Walsh

A Hobbit good stuff Bond of Friendship deck.

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.

Love of the Halfling’s Leaf by MrSpaceBear

Selection from the Ringsdb deck description:

This deck makes fantastic use of Smoke and Think along with the pipes for hobbits, dwarves, and wizards. In total, there are 7 pipes in the deck. The Spare Pipe can go on just about anyone, but Dáin Ironfoot is typically the first target for extra hit points. The pipes are all functional in this deck. Wizard Pipe is key to swap the top card that you want onto the top of your deck (to then Discard with Dáin Ironfoot, play with Gandalf’s ability, or mill with a Zigil Miner/Well-Equipped). The Hobbit Pipe helps to empower Smoke and Think as well as draw some cards when Smoke Rings is played later in the game. Dwarf Pipe is amazing in this deck. It should be churning through the deck quickly. Use the Dwarf Pipe to put the key pieces back on the bottom to find again. This can be key allies like Faramir in quests where high willpower is needed. It can be A Test of Will in multiplayer games where extra cancels may be needed. The Spare Pipe is a tutor for an event and helps to fuel Smoke and Think.

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 (18)
1x Ancestral Armor (Roam Across Rhovanion)
1x Armor of Erebor (Mount Gundabad)
3x Dwarf Pipe (The Mûmakil)
1x Expert Treasure-hunter (On the Doorstep)
1x Gandalf’s Staff (The Road Darkens)
1x Hobbit Pipe (The Black Riders)
1x Inner Strength (Wrath and Ruin)
1x Shadowfax (The Treason of Saruman)
2x Silver Circlet (Wrath and Ruin)
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, 56 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 (1)
1x The One Ring (A Shadow in the East)

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

Decklist built and published on RingsDB.