Smoke and Think

  • Player Card Categories 
    • Cost Reduction


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

Many of the resource acceleration cards in the game represent Middle Earth’s material wealth. These include cards like Steward of Gondor, Zigil Miner, Traffic from Dale. Many of the cost reduction cards are thematically tied to knowledge and thought. Master of Lore and Erebor Toymaker are prime examples.

The Song attachments of To the Sea, To the Sea and O Lorien! also arguably can be tied to this theme. The record attachments since they reduce their own cost represent this as well.

It is also fun to think about the characters all being drawn together to sit around and smoke a pipe. Granted this card can help play other cards besides allies. The high cost unique allies like Gandalf and Gimli as we see them do so in the books.

Card Synergies and Interactions


Obviously the more pipes you have the better this card is. Spare Pipe, Hobbit Pipe, and Dunedain Pipe all help draw Smoke and Think to get it into play. Wizard Pipe plus Gandalf hero has great synergy with Smoke and Think. The Wizard Pipe can set up Gandalf to play it from the top of the deck even if you don’t have a Spirit hero. Gandalf can also make use of the cost reduction in any phase with his ability which can be great to play some high cost yet powerful events like Galadhrim’s Greeting or Grim Resolve. Dwarf Pipe doesn’t have much synergy other than it being in the same sphere and keeping Smoke and Think in the deck if a mined away by a Zigil Miner or Spirit Dain.

High Cost allies

Once two or three pipes are play, Smoke and Think accelerate resources at rate similar to Steward of Gondor. Gandalf hero with his resource smoothing and strong stats works well with Hobbits, Dwarves, and/or Dunedain to make it possible to get 5 or 6 pipes in play that can make even the most expensive cards like Beorn ally and Brok Ironfist cost 0. This burst of resource acceleration is fantastic with high cost unique allies like Firyal, Jubayr, Legolas, or Treebeard. These allies have hero level stats and strong abilities that can make a huge difference if played early. Even a 2 or 3 cost discount can help to play them without having to save up for multiple turns.

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 Smoke and Think at 4 rings. It can have a pretty big effect. It takes a good amount of setup to get there however. It is also is limited because it is an event. Repeatable resource acceleration like Steward of Gondor, Zigil Miner, and O Lorien! will provide more value over the course of the game. If used to bring in a high cost yet strong ally like Treebread, Beorn, or Glorfindel then it is worth the effort. It can also be hard to count on with only 3 copies in the deck. Fortunately, card draw and search cards like Spare Pipe and Heed the Dream can help a player find it when they have a high cost card in hand.

  • Dave – 4
  • Grant – 2
  • Ted – 3
  • Matt – 4
  • Average – 3.25

Sample Decks

Smokin’ Sidequest Gandalf! by Matt Kell (kattattack22)

Pipe deck also featuring dwarf mining and side quests with underground location tech for Beneath the Sands.

Main Deck

Hero (3)
Dáin Ironfoot (The Ghost of Framsburg)
Gandalf (The Road Darkens)
Thurindir (Race Across Harad)

Ally (13)
1x Bilbo Baggins (The Road Darkens)
2x Bombur (Road to Rivendell)
3x Ered Luin Miner (Temple of the Deceived)
1x Glorfindel (Flight of the Stormcaller)
3x Northern Tracker (Core Set)
3x Warden of Healing (The Long Dark)

Attachment (23)
2x Dúnedain Pipe (The Black Serpent)
2x Dwarf Pipe (The Mûmakil)
3x Ever My Heart Rises (The Long Dark)
2x Gandalf’s Staff (The Road Darkens)
1x Narya (The Grey Havens)
2x Ring of Thrór (The Ghost of Framsburg)
2x Shadowfax (The Treason of Saruman)
1x Silver Lamp (The Voice of Isengard)
3x Spare Pipe (The Land of Sorrow)
3x Unexpected Courage (Core Set)
2x Wizard Pipe (The Road Darkens)

Event (15)
3x Hidden Cache (The Morgul Vale)
3x Old Toby (The Black Serpent)
3x Smoke and Think (The Land of Sorrow)
3x Smoke Rings (The Black Riders)
3x Will of the West (Core Set)

Player Side Quest (4)
1x Double Back (Escape from Mount Gram)
1x Gather Information (The Lost Realm)
1x Rally the West (The Black Serpent)
1x Scout Ahead (The Wastes of Eriador)

3 Heroes, 55 Cards
Cards up to The Land of Sorrow


Ally (9)
3x East Road Ranger (The Wastes of Eriador)
3x Ethir Swordsman (The Steward’s Fear)
3x Rhovanion Outrider (Temple of the Deceived)

Attachment (1)
1x Ring of Thrór (The Ghost of Framsburg)

Event (9)
3x The Galadhrim’s Greeting (Core Set)
3x Well-Equipped (The Blood of Gondor)
3x Word of Command (The Long Dark)

Decklist built and published on RingsDB.

Master Baggins by TheChad

Hobbit Pipe deck that pumps out strong unique allies with Smoke and Think.

Main Deck

Hero (3)
(MotK) Bilbo Baggins (Messenger of the King Allies)
Frodo Baggins (Conflict at the Carrock)
Sam Gamgee (The Black Riders)

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

Ally (20)
1x Arwen Undómiel (The Watcher in the Water)
1x Bill the Pony (The Black Riders)
3x Celduin Traveler (The Nîn-in-Eilph)
1x Erebor Toymaker (Mount Gundabad)
1x Erestor (The Long Dark)
1x Faramir (Core Set)
3x Gandalf (Over Hill and Under Hill)
1x Gimli (The Treason of Saruman)
1x Glorfindel (Flight of the Stormcaller)
1x Jubayr (The Mûmakil)
1x Prince Imrahil (The Flame of the West)
1x Rosie Cotton (The Mountain of Fire)
1x Súlien (The City of Corsairs)
1x Treebeard (The Antlered Crown)
2x Wild Stallion (Roam Across Rhovanion)

Attachment (14)
1x Gandalf’s Staff (The Road Darkens)
3x Hobbit Pipe (The Black Riders)
2x Narya (The Grey Havens)
1x Red Book of Westmarch (The Land of Sorrow)
1x Resourceful (The Watcher in the Water)
2x Shadowfax (The Treason of Saruman)
3x Spare Pipe (The Land of Sorrow)
1x Wizard Pipe (The Road Darkens)

Event (17)
2x A Test of Will (Core Set)
2x Dwarven Tomb (Core Set)
1x Free to Choose (Trouble in Tharbad)
3x Smoke and Think (The Land of Sorrow)
2x Smoke Rings (The Black Riders)
3x The Shirefolk (Mount Gundabad)
3x Timely Aid (The Redhorn Gate)
1x To Arms! (The Wilds of Rhovanion)

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

Decklist built and published on RingsDB.

A Test of Will

The staple Spirit card to rule them all.


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

Card Theme

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

Card Synergies and Interactions

Encounter Control

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

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


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

Map of Eardindil

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

A Good Harvest

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

Quest Specific

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

Ring Rating

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

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

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

External Links

Sample Deck

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

The Nope Deck by Qwaz

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

The Nope Deck

Main Deck

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Decklist built and published on RingsDB.