Halbarad (Hero)

  • Cycle
    • Angmar Awakened
  • Set
    • The Lost Realm

“2 against 1, eh? It’s almost a fair fight for you but you really should have brought at least one more to make it even.” – Halbarad probably

Background

Halbarad received a message to join his Chieftain Aragorn in Rohan. He and 30 other Dunedain rode south. Later joined by Elrohir and Elladan, they met Aragorn and accompanied him through the Paths of the Dead. Once Aragorn summoned the dead, they rode for Pelargir fighting off the Corsairs they found there. Halbarad took command of one the Corsair ships and sailed for The Battle of Pelennor Fields. He fought in the battle but died in the fighting.

Card Theme

Halbarad like many of the Dunedain heroes has balanced stats with 2 willpower, 2 attack, and 2 defense. This fits with the Dunedain considering their small population having to be self-sufficient and ready to defend their people. The Dunedain in the game generally gain bonuses for having an enemy engaged. This makes sense with their severely depleted population and many enemies around that they would have to rise to each challenge. His ability to quest without exhausting while engaged with an enemy represents this. His ability to optionally engaged 2 enemies is more representative of the Dunedain’s actions during the Watchful Peace. During that time they fought many minor battles with orcs and goblins to keep the lands of Eriador safe.

Card Synergies and Interactions

Stat Boosts

Halbarad’s built in action advantage and balanced if mediocre stats make him a prime target for stat boosts. In sphere and in theme are the Dunedain signal attachments from the first cycle.

While the bonus is only +1, the ability to move to other heroes shouldn’t be discounted. Especially for Dunedain Warning’s defense boost that can help another hero defend for a turn. Dunedain Quest’s willpower is a bit expensive especially when the Core Set gave players Celebrian’s Stone that gives +2 for the same cost. There aren’t many options for targeted willpower boosts in Leadership although the global boosts from Leadership Faramir ally of Aragorn with Sword That Was Broken are also options.

Aside from Dunedain Mark, Leadership doesn’t have many permanent attack boosts. Sword of Numenor is a very thematic one that comes with the possibility of some resource acceleration if fighting some tougher enemies. If utilizing the side quest bonus Dunedain alongside Halbarad, Legacy Blade can be a fantastic attack buff. Tactics has more possibilities with Dagger of Westernesse being the best to possibly get more than +1 attack from a single attachment.

Defense bonuses are generally better to build up on him at least when using other Dunedain. Another defender that can safely keep a 3 or 4 attack enemy engaged helps build up their bonuses. Fortunately, Leadership has some of the best defensive attachments with aforementioned Dunedian Warning, Ancestral Armor, and Armored Destrier. The destrier doesn’t convey a bonus to defense, the action advantage and shadow control is just what the Dunedain archetype needs to keep multiple enemies engaged for several turns.

Traps

Specifically, Forest Snare and Entangling Nets synergize very well with Halbarad and the rest of the enemies engaged bonus Dunedain. Forest Snare allows a player to just keep an enemy engaged for the entire game without having to worry about defending or any shadows. Entangling Nets is similar because of the attack reduction making defending easier. The action disadvantage of defending can be offset with Outmatched or just taking the attack undefended. Shadows effects can still be an issue with it in some scenarios.

Early Engagement Effects

Normally a player can’t get Halbarad to quest without exhausting unless puts an enemy engaged with a player first thing. Dunedain Hunter and Wait No Longer can help get that ability going. They can be especially useful in true solo play if no enemies are forthcoming since they both search the top 5 cards of the encounter deck for one.

Forth, The Three Hunters Contract

One of the downsides of this contract is that the player is limited to just 3 heroes. Action advantage is key to maximizing the heroes questing and combat potential. Any hero with it built in can make use of the contract’s willpower bonus and the combat bonuses of the extra restricted attachment better than ones without.

Quest Specific

The Shadows of Mirkwood featured the Goblin Sniper that could only be engaged if it was the only enemy in the staging area. This could lead to the dreaded double Goblin Sniper situation where neither can be engaged optionally. This left only Son of Arnor and reaching 48 threat as a solution early on in the game’s life. Halbarad’s ability gives players another way to engage both snipers before 48 threat.

Intruders in Chetwood is another quest that benefits from his ability to optionally engage 2 enemies since they don’t make normal engagement checks. Leaving enemies in the staging area is not a good idea since each one raises the players’ threat by 1 for each enemy there. Wastes of Eriador similarly has enemies not make engagement checks when the day/night objective is on the day side. Engaging multiple enemies during the day is better since many have additional effects or are stronger during the night.

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 Halbarad at 6 rings. The built in action advantage works pretty well with his balanced stats. Keeping an enemy engaged to quest isn’t that difficult for many quests especially if also running traps or with an Armored Destrier. Still it has its risks especially since his balanced stats are only 2 on each. He always requires a bit of set up to be more than just a little supplement questing and combat power. Even when built up, he won’t rival the more specialized heroes with a stat of 3 or 4. Still can be a good addition to line ups with a good questing and defending hero. Starting a quest with 6 willpower from heroes typically provides enough willpower to start. Defense is hard to skimp on since one bad enemy attack can easily take out a hero. Attack power can usually wait a turn or two to come online and easy enough to get from allies or attachments.

His ability to optionally engage 2 enemies doesn’t have many uses for solo play. Still in multiplayer it can supercharge a Dunedain deck. It is still tricky to use well considering the Dunedain can take a little while to get rolling. The heroes often have weaker balanced stats. The allies can be expensive and span all 4 spheres. This can encourage players to build tri-sphere to cram as many Dunedain allies into a deck.

Halbarad at one point was one of my most played heroes. He can be used to good effect but he takes some building around and time to set up. Many quests won’t give players time for it. He’s a decent hero and well worth playing. There are just many that are better because they don’t need that set up and support.

  • Dave – 8
  • Grant – TBR
  • Ted – 7
  • Matt – 6
  • Average – 7

External Links

Sample Decks

Three Wolf Hunters for Wastes of Eriador by kattattack22

A Forth, The Three Hunters deck utilizing Halbarad as a primary quester and secondary combatant.

Three Wolf Hunters for Wastes of Eriador

Main Deck

Hero (3)
Aragorn (The Lost Realm)
Beravor (Core Set)
Halbarad (The Lost Realm)

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

Attachment (41)
3x A Burning Brand (Conflict at the Carrock)
3x Armored Destrier (Temple of the Deceived)
2x Celebrían’s Stone (Core Set)
3x Dúnedain Warning (Conflict at the Carrock)
3x Expert Treasure-hunter (On the Doorstep)
2x Favor of the Valar (The Battle of Carn Dûm)
3x Golden Belt (Challenge of the Wainriders)
3x Gondorian Shield (The Steward’s Fear)
3x Ranger Spear (The City of Corsairs)
2x Roheryn (The Flame of the West)
3x Steed of the North (Race Across Harad)
3x Strider (The Drowned Ruins)
3x Sword of Númenor (The Dread Realm)
2x Sword that was Broken (The Watcher in the Water)
3x War Axe (The City of Ulfast)

Event (9)
3x Daeron’s Runes (Foundations of Stone)
3x Deep Knowledge (The Voice of Isengard)
3x Feint (Core Set)

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

Decklist built and published on RingsDB.

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.

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.

Erkenbrand – Community Review

by Phil Chesbro

  • Card Talk Season TBD Episode TBD
    • Video episode
    • Audio episode

Background

He charged in with Gandalf and helped save humanity!

Editor’s Note: Phil here is referring to Erkenbrand arriving at Helm’s Deep with all the men he could gather and Gandalf. For those only familiar with the movies, Eomer being banished and brought back by Gandalf is one of the changes made from the book. In the book, he was imprisoned and freed once Gandalf broke the spell on Theoden. He then was at Helm’s Deep with Theoden and the rest.

Card Theme

He came paired with The Day’s Rising, which I love, but don’t actually use much. He really lives up to the role when he defend, readies, then attacks. Get ’em Erky! Plus, his ability cancels shadow effects, which could be a reference to breaking the ranks of Saruman’s forces.

Card Synergies and Interactions

Hauberk of Mail, Armored Destrier, and Warrior Keyword

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 like Erkenbrand as much as I like Beregond. Sure, he doesn’t start with the same defense, but his ability is better than either Beregond abilities in my opinion. Canceling any shadow effect adds an incredible amount of control to combat. He’s also in Leadership, giving him access to Hauberk of Mail and Armored Destrier, meaning he can block for 4 twice without sweating any shadow effects. I’ve just started splashing him into my decks as a go-to defender and I couldn’t be happier with the results.

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

Killer Solo Leadership by The BGamerJoe

A mono-Leadership deck featuring Erkenbrand as the main defender that BGamerJoe used to beat the entire Harad cycle.

Killer Solo Leadership

Main Deck

Hero (3)
Aragorn (Core Set)
Erkenbrand (The Antlered Crown)
Gildor Inglorion (Two-Player Limited Edition Starter)

Ally (20)
1x Ceorl (Temple of the Deceived)
3x Envoy of Pelargir (Heirs of Númenor)
1x Erestor (The Long Dark)
2x Faramir (Core Set)
3x Galadriel (The Road Darkens)
3x Gandalf (Core Set)
1x Gimli (The Treason of Saruman)
3x Knight of the White Tower (The City of Corsairs)
1x Ranger of Cardolan (The Wastes of Eriador)
1x Redwater Sentry (The Wilds of Rhovanion)
1x Rosie Cotton (The Mountain of Fire)

Attachment (22)
2x Ancestral Armor (Roam Across Rhovanion)
3x Armored Destrier (Temple of the Deceived)
1x Celebrían’s Stone (Core Set)
2x Dúnedain Remedy (The Drowned Ruins)
2x Hauberk of Mail (The Wilds of Rhovanion)
1x Heir of Mardil (Celebrimbor’s Secret)
3x Steward of Gondor (Core Set)
1x Sword of Númenor (The Dread Realm)
3x Sword that was Broken (The Watcher in the Water)
1x The Day’s Rising (The Antlered Crown)
3x Tome of Atanatar (The Blood of Gondor)

Event (7)
1x Second Breakfast (Conflict at the Carrock)
3x Sneak Attack (Core Set)
3x Strength of Arms (The Drúadan Forest)

Player Side Quest (1)
1x Prepare for Battle (The Mûmakil)

3 Heroes, 50 Cards
Cards up to Roam Across Rhovanion

Sideboard

Attachment (1)
1x Necklace of Girion (The Wilds of Rhovanion)

Event (3)
3x Bulwark of the West (The Crossings of Poros)

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

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.

Leadership Aragorn

A powerful versatile hero just like he is in the books.

Background

Aragorn, son of Arathorn, AKA Strider is the direct descendent of the kings of Gondor and Arnor. He was the chieftain of the northern remnants of Arnor, the Dunedain. Elrond fostered him at Rivendell after his father was killed by orcs. After he turned 21 and learned of his heirtage, Aragorn travel far and wide in Middle Earth assisting both Rohan and Gondor against Sauron.

He is first introduced in The Lord of the Rings at The Prancing Pony. He soon become the Hobbits guide to Rivendell after Gandalf’s letter to Frodo identifies him as a friend. He joins the Fellowship at Rivendell offering to his life to help Frodo destroy The One Ring. After the breaking of the Fellowship, he tracks the Uruk-Hai to Rohan. There he aided in the defense of Rohan against Saruman. Then braving the Paths of the Dead enlist the dead oath breakers, he defeated the corsairs at Pelargir to brings the reinforcements that turned the tide at the Battle of the Pelennor Fields. He leads to the forces of Gondor and Rohan to The Black Gate to distract Sauron that Frodo can destroy The Ring of Power. After The Ring’s destruction, he becomes King of Gondor and marries Arwen Undomiel.

Card Theme

Aragorn is a highly skilled individual with decades of experience navigating the wilds of Middle Earth and countering Sauron’s forces. Questing in this game is often intended to represent the characters traversing Middle Earth. Aragorn being able to contribute to those travels while being ready to fight if needed is very thematic to those same skills and experience as a Ranger.

Card Synergies and Interactions

Resource Acceleration

Any card that can add resources to Aragorn enables using his ability consistently. The Core Set gave players two in sphere options to combo with Aragorn, Steward of Gondor and Theodred. The Aragorn and Theodread combo Card Talk highlighted previously in our Core Set Combo series. Later cycles introduced many other options particularly among Leadership events. Arwen hero and Zigil Miner are chief among the out of sphere options as they are also repeatable like Theodred and Steward. Additional resources on Aragorn are also a great idea if you’re using any of his toys as well.

Aragorn’s Toys

These cards are all attachments that can give other characters an ability or bonus, but they give Aragorn an additional bonus. Typically the additional bonus is another resource icon. Celebrian’s Stone was the first of these coming in the Core Set making Aragorn’s willpower equal to that of the best questing heroes. This makes his built-in action advantage from questing more valuable. It is easier to forgo 2 willpower to use his 3 attack or 2 defense in combat than 4 willpower. The added Spirit icon is also helpful for playing the only toy that isn’t in sphere, Ring of Barahir.

The Ring of Barahir is generally considered the least interesting since it only adds hit points that scales with the number of artifacts. The full card pool has many Artifacts now with the Guarded attachments like Stone of Elostirion and Orcrist. Aragorn doesn’t benefit much from having may hit points like Gloin and Gimli that have damage taken based abilities.

Sword That Was Broken gives any hero the Leadership icon but on Aragorn it is one of the best global willpower boosts available. It can be especially helpful in Dunedain decks since the Dunedain characters tend to have low willpower.

Roheryn is a powerful attachment since it allows Aragorn to attack before the enemy gets a chance to. If Aragorn has enough attack power to kill the enemy, then it effectively cancels the attack. It combos well with Gondorian Fire that can give Aragorn bonus attack for each resource in his resource pool. The One Ring with Strength and Courage can also provide a huge attack boost considering Aragorn’s printed 3 attack power. Firefoot‘s ability to place excess damage on another enemy can kill another engaged enemy before it can attack as well.

Rivendell Bow doesn’t give a resource icon. It is worth noting because it specifically mentions it can be attached to Aragorn besides just Noldor and Silvans.

Thorongil

Thorongil allows any Aragorn to gain the resource icon and abilities of the other versions of Aragorn. This can be used tactically to bring in threat control, additional combat, power, or location control as needed. The Leadership and Spirt versions in particular pair well. The Leadership version’s readying let’s a player double up on questing. Aragorn can contribute his willpower once to quest and again to reduce staging are threat.

Defense Boosts

Aragorn has the Sentinel trait to be able to defend for other players in multiplayer and a large pool of hit points at 5. His printed defense of 2 is not enough to be a dedicated defender in many quests, but Leadership has a few of the best defensive attachments in sphere. Aragorn between his toys and Thorongil has many additional ways to gain resource icons not available to most other heroes. He can turn into a defensive wall with the ability to cancel shadows if built up with Dunedain Warnings, Ancestral Armor, Armored Destrier, and/or Burning Brand. Blood of Numenor is also a strong option since resource acceleration is a good idea to use his readying ability.

Grey Wanderer

Aragorn’s built-in readying and attachments that can give him all 4 sphere icons makes him a great Grey Wanderer hero. His ability let’s him quest without using the contract’s setup ability to get Strider even if it is a very thematic choice. Resourceful can provide resource acceleration cheaply to fuel his readying. Timely Aid and A Very Good Tale are both in sphere to help muster allies and make up for not having 3 heroes worth of stats. A Gondorian Fire and Blood of Numenor build benefits greatly from the contract’s readying and resource acceleration. Lastly, he can use Roheryn more reliably because the low starting threat of a single hero keeps most enemies from automatically engaging.

Quest Specific

Aragorn’s built-in readying can be used to benefit besides just combat. 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. You can play around this condition attachment by making sure to only quest with Aragorn and readying him after. You can do the same in Darrowdelf 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. 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 Leadership Aragorn at 3 rings. That is only because I think he’s the 3rd best version of Aragorn. I think the Lore and Tactics versions offer more to players than this one. If playing another version of Aragorn, this one is top of the list to add its sphere and abilities it via Thorongil.

That said, he offers built-in action advantage for a very reasonable cost of one resource. In the sphere that is best known for resource acceleration. On top of that most of his “toys” are in Leadership. It’s possible to get him every sphere in the game via his own attachments plus some great bonuses and a strong ability. Undeniably a powerful and useful hero.

  • Dave – 2
  • Grant – 2
  • Ted – TBR
  • Matt – 3
  • Average 2.33

Sample Decks

Codus’ Roheryn’s Fire

A deck focused on using Gondorian Fire and Roheryn to kill enemies as soon as they’re optionally engaged. Arwen and Erestor provide resource acceleration and card draw to help get the combo going quickly.

Main Deck

Hero (3)
Aragorn (Core Set)
Arwen Undómiel (The Dread Realm)
Erestor (The Treachery of Rhudaur)

Ally (20)
3x Envoy of Pelargir (Heirs of Númenor)
3x Errand-rider (Heirs of Númenor)
3x Ethir Swordsman (The Steward’s Fear)
3x Galadhrim Weaver (The Treachery of Rhudaur)
3x Galadriel’s Handmaiden (Celebrimbor’s Secret)
1x Mablung (The Land of Shadow)
1x Quickbeam (The Treason of Saruman)
3x Warden of Healing (The Long Dark)

Attachment (16)
3x Gondorian Fire (Assault on Osgiliath)
3x Roheryn (The Flame of the West)
2x Song of Battle (The Dead Marshes)
2x Steed of Imladris (Across the Ettenmoors)
3x Steward of Gondor (Core Set)
3x Sword of Númenor (The Dread Realm)

Event (14)
3x Daeron’s Runes (Foundations of Stone)
3x Elrond’s Counsel (The Watcher in the Water)
3x Elven-light (The Dread Realm)
2x Gaining Strength (The Steward’s Fear)
3x Heed the Dream (Flight of the Stormcaller)

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

Sideboard

Event (3)
3x Tale of Tinúviel (The Dread Realm)

Decklist built and published on RingsDB.

Brok Ironfist

  • Player Card Categories 
    • Leaves Play
    • Messenger of the King

The Core Set’s consolation prize for losing a hero.

Background

Brok Ironfist is a FFG created character. He is presumably one of Durin’s Folk or a Longbeard Dwarf. The Longbeards are the only Dwarves introduced in The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings although there are other clans of Dwarves descended from the original 7 fathers created by Aule.

Card Theme

Brok is not a thematic card aside from being a character created for the game. His ability doesn’t match the damage for a bonus of Gloin and Glimi from the Core Set. Much less the have 5 Dwarves in play mechanic of Thorin’s Company introduced in The Hobbit expansions and mining developed in Against the Shadow and later cycles. I speculate that Brok’s ability is tangential to the damaged Dwarves get a bonus theme since if they get too damaged, you can put Brok into play for free. Especially as it seems from Veteran of Nihuadon that it was a mechanism intended to be developed for the Dwarf trait that later switched to Ents.

Card Synergies and Interactions

Leadership Dain Ironfoot

Brok with Dain in play stats 3/3/1/4 stats that are more in line with his cost. The comparison to the only other 6 cost ally, Beorn, is much closer. Then Brok is only 2 stat points lower than him. I suspect part of the reason Bork costs 6 is because of Dain. The designers have mentioned in interviews that player cards in a cycle are all developed at the same time.

Fellowship Contract

In the same vein as Leadership Dain (mining reference intended), the Fellowship contract can boost Dain’s stats to rival that of many good heroes that have 2 non-hit point stats of 3 like Glorfindel. Dwarves of likely one of the few traits in the game to have enough unique allies to fulfill the contract without including one of the other Middle Earth races. A player could even get 4 willpower and 4 attack with Leadership Dain boosting him as well.

A Very Good Tale

A Very Good Tale can be another way to put Brok into play cheaply besides his own ability. The real value is from exhausting Brok to determine how many resources worth of allies you can put into play. alone he ensures Beorn or Gandalf (Core or Over Hill and Under Hill versions) are eligible. A 2 cost ally exhausted as well then you can usually guarantee just about combination of 2 allies can enter play. Even great value can be extracted if Brok is put into play with Sneak Attack or To Me! O my Kinsfolk!

Flame of Anor

A great use of Brok is actually to not play him, but to discard him. Flame of Anor gives an Istari like Gandalf, Saruman, or Radagast +6 attack. A player could get Saruman in particular to an extremely high attack combining this play with The One Ring with Strength and Courage for +5 attack (15 attack). A War Axe, Golden Belt, and Legacy Blade with 3 completed side quests for an additional +6 (21 attack). Dunedain Marks could bring the final total all the way up to 24 attack. Setting up Brok to be discarded is not difficult with Imladris Stargazer to reorder the top 5 or Wizard Pipe to put him on top.

Messenger of the King

A player could make Bork a hero with Messenger of the King and start with him in play. If Dain is in play, he only has 1 less hit point than Thorin Oakenshield, but costs 3 less threat. Granted, you wouldn’t get a useful ability which would be the big downside. Especially considering the large number of other Dwarf hero options with very useful abilities like Balin.

Quest Specific

The first two cycles and The Hobbit Saga expansions included many encounter cards that were outright Hero killers. In the Core Set, players had to watch out for taking too much direct damage from Necromancer’s Reach and Evil Storm. Not to mention Hummerhorns dealing 5 damage to a hero when engaged or 1 damage to each character when revealed as a shadow. There are also a few shadow effects that become worse on an undefended attack that is often necessary in the early game.

The Darrowdelf cycle even more notoriously included effects that can outright discard a hero if the player(s). Not just as the when revealed effect but also in the shadow effect! A free ally with hero level stats won’t completely offset the loss, but it is still something that might let a player limp to the end of the quest.

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 Bork at 8 rings. He’s undoubtedly expensive for the stats you get unless Leadership Dain is in play. Partly it is due to core set where the cost curve was slightly higher. Later expansions lowered overall cost curve with many efficent 2 cost allies. Also he’s in Leadership and Leadership cards tend to be a little more expensive. It is the sphere with the best and most resource acceleration and as a result Leadership cards tend to be a little more expensive. Another consider I’m sure was that he was developed with Dain.

Still, he has hero level stats as many of them have a couple 2’s in willpower, attack, or defense. Only Dain, Thorin Oakenshield, and Thorin Stonehelm having a 3 stat that isn’t hit points. His ability isn’t one that you want to plan for. Especially since The Houses of Healing and Fortune or Fate both cost 5 and don’t provide much of discount to play him. It can still be a nice consolation prize if you lose a hero particularly in the late game when resources may not be needed as much. The stats to make the last questing push can be key to securing victory.

I think that Brok is consigned to being considered one of the worst cards in the game by the community for a few big reasons. First that he came out in the Core Set without Dain. This was compounded by that Dain came out in the last pack of the cycle with a huge gap of time between the Core Set and the first AP. Players had a long time to form an opinion without a major boost card. Second, the only other 6 cost card in the game is ally Beorn that comes with two major stats at 3 and more printed hit points than any player except his hero version. On top of all that, Beorn has an amazing ability that is a huge help against the biggest enemies in the core set. Lastly, the cost curve ended becoming lower with more good 2 cost allies and no more 6 cost cards.

Is Brok the worst card in the game? I don’t think so. Discarding him to Flame of Anor is a least one really good way to use him. Playing him as an ally with Dain on the table is not bad, but it is a big investment. Particularly when Dwarves are extremely well developed trait with many different ally options.

  • Dave – 10
  • Grant – 10
  • Ted – TBR
  • Matt – 8
  • Average – 9.3

Sample Decks

Deck Tech: Dwarf Starter Deck by chrsjxn

A limited purchase Dwarf Swarm deck using cards only from the original Core Set, Return to Mirkwood, and Khazad-Dum.

Main Deck

Hero (3)
Bifur (Khazad-dûm)
Dáin Ironfoot (Return to Mirkwood)
Gimli (Core Set)

Ally (24)
1x Brok Ironfist (Core Set)
2x 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)
1x Henamarth Riversong (Core Set)
1x Longbeard Orc Slayer (Core Set)
2x Miner of the Iron Hills (Core Set)
3x Veteran Axehand (Core Set)
2x Veteran of Nanduhirion (Khazad-dûm)

Attachment (10)
2x Blade of Gondolin (Core Set)
1x Celebrían’s Stone (Core Set)
3x Dwarrowdelf Axe (Khazad-dûm)
2x Self Preservation (Core Set)
2x Steward of Gondor (Core Set)

Event (16)
3x Durin’s Song (Khazad-dûm)
2x Feint (Core Set)
3x Khazâd! Khazâd! (Khazad-dûm)
2x Lórien’s Wealth (Core Set)
2x Quick Strike (Core Set)
2x Sneak Attack (Core Set)
2x Valiant Sacrifice (Core Set)

3 Heroes, 50 Cards
Cards up to Khazad-dûm

Decklist built and published on RingsDB.

The Company of Brok Ironfist by Durin’s Father

A mega stat boosting deck with Leadership Dain, Fellowship contract, and The Arkenstone.

Main Deck

Hero (3)
Bifur (Khazad-dûm)
Dáin Ironfoot (Return to Mirkwood)
Thorin Oakenshield (Over Hill and Under Hill)

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

Ally (16)
1x Azain Silverbeard (Flight of the Stormcaller)
1x Bofur (Over Hill and Under Hill)
1x Bombur (Road to Rivendell)
1x Brok Ironfist (Core Set)
2x Dori (Over Hill and Under Hill)
1x Dwalin (On the Doorstep)
2x Fili (Over Hill and Under Hill)
1x Gimli (The Treason of Saruman)
2x Glóin (On the Doorstep)
2x Ioreth (A Storm on Cobas Haven)
2x Kili (Over Hill and Under Hill)

Attachment (18)
1x Ancestral Armor (Roam Across Rhovanion)
2x Armor of Erebor (Mount Gundabad)
2x Armored Destrier (Temple of the Deceived)
2x Cram (Over Hill and Under Hill)
2x Dúnedain Remedy (The Drowned Ruins)
2x Hardy Leadership (Shadow and Flame)
2x King Under the Mountain (On the Doorstep)
2x Legacy of Durin (The Watcher in the Water)
2x Narvi’s Belt (Khazad-dûm)
1x The Arkenstone (The Withered Heath)

Event (16)
3x A Very Good Tale (Over Hill and Under Hill)
3x Daeron’s Runes (Foundations of Stone)
3x Durin’s Song (Khazad-dûm)
2x Lure of Moria (Road to Rivendell)
3x To me! O my kinsfolk! (On the Doorstep)
2x We Are Not Idle (Shadow and Flame)

3 Heroes, 50 Cards
Cards up to A Shadow in the East

Sideboard

Ally (2)
1x Arwen Undómiel (The Watcher in the Water)
1x Bofur (The Redhorn Gate)

Event (3)
3x Parting Gifts (A Journey to Rhosgobel)

Decklist built and published on RingsDB.

Wielders of the Three by Master of Lore

A Three Elven Rings deck full of powerful unique allies that Vilya can put into play. Narya can ready and boost them. Extra copies can fuel a big attack from Gandal with Flame of Anor.

Main Deck

Hero (3)
Elrond (Shadow and Flame)
Galadriel (Celebrimbor’s Secret)
Gandalf (The Road Darkens)

Ally (20)
2x Arwen Undómiel (The Watcher in the Water)
3x Beorn (Core Set)
2x Bilbo Baggins (The Road Darkens)
2x Brok Ironfist (Core Set)
2x Faramir (Core Set)
2x Gildor Inglorion (The Hills of Emyn Muil)
3x Master of the Forge (Shadow and Flame)
2x Treebeard (The Antlered Crown)
2x Warden of Healing (The Long Dark)

Attachment (22)
2x A Burning Brand (Conflict at the Carrock)
2x Expert Treasure-hunter (On the Doorstep)
2x Gandalf’s Staff (The Road Darkens)
2x Light of Valinor (Foundations of Stone)
2x Narya (The Grey Havens)
2x Nenya (Celebrimbor’s Secret)
2x Protector of Lórien (Core Set)
3x Unexpected Courage (Core Set)
3x Vilya (Shadow and Flame)
2x Wizard Pipe (The Road Darkens)

Event (8)
2x Elrond’s Counsel (The Watcher in the Water)
3x Flame of Anor (The Road Darkens)
2x The Galadhrim’s Greeting (Core Set)
1x Will of the West (Core Set)

3 Heroes, 50 Cards
Cards up to The Grey Havens

Decklist built and published on RingsDB.

Second Breakfast – Community Review

by Ziggi W

  • Player Card Categories 
    • Recursion
    • Discard Pile

Background

Hate that art. That disgusting stuffed Hobbit, is like a tiny Denethor who has just munched on all the tomatoes and is now considering tomatoes for dessert.

Card Theme

This should have been the Hobbit readying card instead of Fast Hitch. A real thematic miss to not create a Hobbit food related readying chain, Second Breakfast, Elevenses, Good Meal (that one is ok kinda). Drinking Song I’m on board with for theme and because it’s amazing, but Second Breakfast….so much sadness.

Card Synergies and Interactions

None, other than that food covered Hobbit-like ball on the art synergizes at putting me off my food.

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.

Rated 10 for being bloody useless and more importantly for being thematically wasted. This card is thematically what Fast Hitch should have been, Hobbits need their second breakfast to be ready for the day…after their first breakfast. In addition, FFG missed the boat on thematically incorporating Elevenses together with Second Breakfast for a delicious Hobbit readying chain, to be followed by eggs and bakey and a pipe. I would also have accepted ‘They come in PINTS!’ for Hobbit readying. Onto that card art, ughhhh! That stuffed Hobbit is giving me Denethor eating tomatoes vibes times 10, I had to sleeve the card backwards to save my soul from that image.

  • Ziggi – 10
  • Dave – TBR
  • Grant – TBR
  • Ted – TBR
  • Matt – TBR

Andrath Guardsman – Community Review

by Vardaen

  • Player Card Categories 
    • Attack Cancellation

Background

Let’s talk lore. Who is this guardsman, and what is the Andrath? The Andrath is a geographical feature in Arnor. Its a long defile between the Barrow-downs and the South Downs through which the North-South Road (or the Greenway) passed. Its south of Bree, and at various points it was controlled by both The Enemy and the Dunedain. It is a great tactical location that could control travel north-south in the region. The other option was to travel through the Barrow-downs, which as Frodo found out was not without great peril. In fact in Unfinished Tales the Black Captain stays at the Andrath setting up a camp rousing the Barrow-Wights from there and sending out patrols. So this Ranger is guarding this ‘pass’ keeping foes from reaching Bree and the Shire by bottle necking them there.

Card Theme

It is a theme home run for his effects. So for two resources (in Leadership!) you can effectively feint a non-unique enemy but also have an ally on the table to quest or defend with. Don’t be like the Hobbits and forget about the Rangers that have long kept the peace possible.

Card Synergies and Interactions

Vardaen’s Combo

Sneak Attack, in sphere feint for Leadership decks that don’t have Tactics. You get double duty, you can stop 1 enemy from attacking, and then block with him for another enemy!

Editor’s Note

Vardaen’s Combo doesn’t work as written. You would need to play Andrath Guardsman from your hand to cancel an attack. Born Aloft would let you reuse him to get an additional attack cancelation. You don’t get to cheaply chump block though. I’ve taken the liberty to create Bandrath Guardsman to enable Vardaen’s Combo.

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.

  • Dave – 3
  • Grant – 4
  • Ted – TBR
  • Vardaen – 4
  • Matt – 6
  • Average – 4.25

Sample Decks

Dunedain reborn by dkayringsdb

Dunedain centric deck utilizing several attack cancelation cards to build up engaged enemies and leverage Heir of Valandil.

Main Deck

Hero (3)
Amarthiúl (The Battle of Carn Dûm)
Aragorn (The Watcher in the Water)
Beravor (Core Set)

Ally (20)
3x Andrath Guardsman (The Mûmakil)
1x Eldahir (The Thing in the Depths)
3x Fornost Bowman (The Dread Realm)
3x Guardian of Arnor (The Battle of Carn Dûm)
2x Halbarad (The Flame of the West)
3x Ranger of Cardolan (The Wastes of Eriador)
3x Sarn Ford Sentry (The Lost Realm)
2x Vigilant Dúnadan (The Sands of Harad)

Attachment (24)
3x A Burning Brand (Conflict at the Carrock)
3x Armored Destrier (Temple of the Deceived)
3x Dúnedain Warning (Conflict at the Carrock)
3x Forest Snare (Core Set)
3x Heir of Valandil (The Lost Realm)
2x Self Preservation (Core Set)
1x Steed of the North (Race Across Harad)
2x Sword that was Broken (The Watcher in the Water)
1x The Day’s Rising (The Antlered Crown)
3x The Long Defeat (The Battle of Carn Dûm)

Event (6)
3x Coney in a Trap (The Mûmakil)
3x Descendants of Kings (Escape from Mount Gram)

3 Heroes, 50 Cards
Cards up to Race Across Harad

Sideboard

Ally (11)
3x Dúnedain Hunter (The Lost Realm)
3x East Road Ranger (The Wastes of Eriador)
2x Northern Tracker (Core Set)
1x Vigilant Dúnadan (The Sands of Harad)
2x Warden of Annúminas (The Lost Realm)

Attachment (16)
3x Athelas (The Lost Realm)
3x Entangling Nets (Temple of the Deceived)
2x Silver Lamp (The Voice of Isengard)
2x Song of Travel (The Hills of Emyn Muil)
3x Steward of Gondor (Core Set)
3x Warrior Sword (The Ghost of Framsburg)

Decklist built and published on RingsDB.

Leadership Elfhelm

Elfhelm gives stat-boosts to heroes with mount attachments
  • Player Card Categories 
    • Willpower Bonus
    • Attack Bonus
    • Defense Bonus

Background

If you’re solely a LOTR fan of the Peter Jackson films you may be wondering who this “Elfhelm” guy is and why you haven’t heard of him before. Well, that is because they pretty much cut him out of the story for the theatrical release. In the books he has a much more prominent role. Elfhelm eventually became the Marshal of the East-Mark. He was present at the Battle of the Ford of Isen where Theodred had fallen to the forces of Isengard. He later appears in Rohan’s ride to Gondor and fights in the Battle of Pelennor fields. While riding to Gondor he is actually aware of Eowyn’s presence and even supplies her with Theodred’s sword – the sword which would inevitably become the Witch-King’s demise. In the lore we see Elfhelm riding to and fro, making haste to where his king, or Gandalf, needs him most. This is presumably the theme behind his card abilities as well as his stats clearly boost the heroes around him.

Card Theme

Elfhelm is a lord of Rohan. And like any faithful Rider of the Mark he is well-trained in the art of horseback combat. It’s only natural that a lord of Rohan synergizes with the mount sub-archetype. While this sub-archetype is not as fleshed out as the typical Rohan discarding archetype it does have its benefits. Especially if you appreciate passive, versatile abilities. With Elfhelm you get a +1 boost hero to stats when that hero is equipped with a mount attachment. With the exception of Lore, each hero on the table with an attached mount will get at least one stat boost correlating to their sphere. This has the potential to increase hero stats dramatically for all players. Whether you’re building for an epic multiplayer Helm’s Deep game, or just “horsing” around solo, Elfhelm has his place on the table. Or in the stable? Okay, enough with the dad jokes… let’s “mount” up and see what Elfhelm has to offer.

Card Synergies and Interactions

Thematic Deckbuilding Ideas

Elfhelm’s hero version is pretty cut-and-dry in that mounts are needed to make him work. This concept is great in terms of theme and lore. Rohan is unique and powerful in Middle-Earth because of their horseback capabilities. Elfhelm helps reinforce this by rewarding the use of mounts. This reward comes in the form of +1 attack for Tactics heroes, +1 willpower to Spirit heroes, and +1 defense to Leadership heroes. A noteworthy mention is that his ability specifically excludes the Lore sphere. I have seen many people talk about house ruling the inclusion of the Lore sphere to include +1 HP. There is only one Lore Rohan “hero” which is Grima. This could be an indicator his intention may be to boost his Rohirrim comrades. You know, the ones who are not corrupt. While mount cards are what make him work, a potential drawback is how Elfhelm’s ability relies on extra cards to make him work. This can take up valuable deck space. Luckily, there are many useful mount-traited cards in the game. Not all of them are Rohan-themed though there are many thematic options. More on that later.

If you are going for a thematic Elfhelm/Mount deck you are obviously making room in your deck for mounts. Another common strategy is to include Song cards to grant additional spheres for heroes. I see this as particularly thematic when you envision a Rohirrim charge and the accompanying battle cries and chants. For that reason, song cards not only help boost an Elfhelm deck but align with a thematic Rohirrim charge. Much like what we see in the infamous scene of the “Ride of the Rohirrim” in the lore. It is fitting then that Burst into Song is in sphere with Elfhelm, boasts Rohan artwork, and has an incredibly thematic quote from the books:

“And then all the host of Rohan burst into song, and they sang as they slew, for the joy of battle was on them, and the sound of their singing that was fair and terrible came even to the City.”

Okay, now a show of hands: who wants to immediately go and build a thematic Elfhelm/Rohan deck after reading that? I know I do.

Deckbuilding Considerations

We already know Elfhelm can really only work when you give dedicated space in your deck to mounts. Count a few more spaces dedicated to songs and perhaps another two for Burst into song. Here we see the biggest limitation to Elfhelm decks – he requires a LOT of deck space to make him truly thrive. With this being the case, I see him as a great multiplayer hero where you can be the support role. You bring all the mounts and songs and your entire fellowship can benefit. When deciding to bring Elfhelm you will undoubtedly need to answer the question, “Are the mounts going to offer that much of an advantage to justify their use.” Let’s evaluate some thematic options as well as some other popular hero choices to see if Elfhelm can really help them.

Mounts

Rohan has many mounts specific to them. They are all worthy of adding into an Elfhelm deck. Notable cards include:

Snowmane: Give Theoden his steed, boost his willpower, and allow him to get ready for combat. If you use his Tactics version you get an even better combat boost. 

Armored Destrier: Use on Elfhelm himself to boost his defense stat and offer shadow cancellation. Better yet, give it to his buddy Erkenbrand for better stats and advantage.

Firefoot: Could Eomer possibly become a more powerful attacker? Why, yes he can! Because he gets an additional attack if you equip him with Firefoot thanks to Elfhelm.

Rohan Warhorse: What’s that? Giving Eomer more attack with Firefoot wasn’t enough and you want him to attack twice? Or you want to slap it on Tactics Eowyn for a double 11 attack swing? Rohan Warhorse can make it happen!

Windfola: The queen of questing, Spirit Eowyn, gets an extra willpower for one resource. That allows her to accrue two willpower for one resource and a guarantee she will not be removed from any questing thanks to Windfola’s ability. 

Steed of the Mark: A great option for whoever wins the “I get to use Steward of Gondor” debate. 

Not all of your fellowship will be using Rohan of course. Some of the best non-Rohan and mount synergies include:

Arod: For any tactics hero to boost attack and improve the chances of gaining that extra progress token. 

Armored Destrier: Denny and this steed are good friends. Elfhelm is also in sphere for this card if playing solo. 

Asfaloth: Especially for Spirit Glorfindel.

Hobbit Pony: especially for Spirit Merry with Fast Hitch or Unexpected Courage.

Firefoot: Basically any Tactics hero. But Grimbeorn loves him the most!

Shadowfax: Make Gandalf stronger (when equipped with his ring).

Roheryn and Steed of the North: Aragorn loves his horses as much as any of his other toys. He will be boosted an additional stat (attack) if you use Roheryn on his Leadership or Spirit versions. 

Non-Mounts

Song of Battle/Kings/Travel: Grant additional spheres for heroes for extra stat boosts. 

Burst into Song: Nearly an auto include if you run songs. Use it after defending but before attacking. After all, who doesn’t like singing while they slay? 

Westfold Horse-Breeder: Great mount search and acceleration. 

Charge of the Rohirrim: Even more boosts for heroes with mounts?! What are you waiting for? Ride out and meet them!

Forth, The Three Hunters: This contract *elevates* Eflhelm significantly in solo. I’d argue Three Hunters actually makes Elfhelm not only viable in solo, but close to top tier. You don’t have to worry about putting allies on the board and can focus solely on mounts and songs. No to mention Elfhelm becomes a good dedicated defender with Armored Destrier in a Three Hunter’s build. 

Sword-Thain: You get another hero with boosted stats if you attach a mount.

Quest Specific

Given the stat-boosting nature of Elfhelm’s ability you could throw him into any scenario. I personally think he does not play great in solo unless you run him in a Three Hunter’s deck. There are many scenarios which simply do not allow for setup time. If you are running three spheres it becomes even more difficult to accomplish this and get allies on the table. In my experience this ends up being overwhelming (location lock or enemy swarming) and sometimes frustrating.I would argue that Elfhelm shines most in a multiplayer game where he can throw his boosts around the table. So long as others are including mounts in their decks Eflhelm’s ability only increases in strength with higher player counts. This might make epic multiplayer games that much more epic. It’s this type of versatility that allows Elfhelm to potentially excel in most scenarios rather than specializing in any one. With a little coordination your fellowship can gauge what types of mounts and songs are best suited for the scenario and voilà! You’re ready to ride!

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.

  • Dave – 8
  • Grant – 6
  • Ted – 5
  • Matt – 5
  • Joe – 6
  • Average – 6

I have to give Elfhelm a 6 overall. It pains me because I’m clearly biased towards loving Rohan cards. The fact of the matter is he just is not a top tier hero and is often too cumbersome in solo. I will say he is a strong multiplayer hero. As long as another player can offer combat help in the early stages of the game Elfhelm could be a deciding factor in whether or not victory is achieved. The contrast for grading solo vs. multiplayer is quite a large spread for me. I’d give him a 6 for solo (Forth, Three Hunters! saves him from a 7) and a 4 for multiplayer. Unfortunately for Elfhelm, he rides as a middle-of-the-road hero at the end of the day. Still, he is a fun hero to play in the right circumstance!

Sample Decks

Rohan’s Mighty Hunters by The BGamerJoe

A thematic Rohan 3 hunters deck featuring Elfhelm as the defender.

Main Deck

Hero (3)
Elfhelm (Temple of the Deceived)
Éowyn (Core Set)
Théoden (The Morgul Vale)

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

Attachment (39)
3x Ancestral Armor (Roam Across Rhovanion)
3x Ancient Mathom (A Journey to Rhosgobel)
3x Armored Destrier (Temple of the Deceived)
1x Celebrían’s Stone (Core Set)
1x Dúnedain Warning (Conflict at the Carrock)
3x Golden Shield (The Flame of the West)
2x Herugrim (The Treason of Saruman)
2x Round Shield (Mount Gundabad)
2x Silver Circlet (Wrath and Ruin)
1x Silver Harp (The Treachery of Rhudaur)
3x Snowmane (The Land of Shadow)
2x Song of Travel (The Hills of Emyn Muil)
2x Steed of the Mark (The Morgul Vale)
3x Unexpected Courage (Core Set)
3x War Axe (The City of Ulfast)
3x Warrior Sword (The Ghost of Framsburg)
2x Windfola (A Storm on Cobas Haven)

Event (11)
3x A Test of Will (Core Set)
2x Elven-light (The Dread Realm)
3x Foe-hammer (Over Hill and Under Hill)
3x Well Warned (The Sands of Harad)

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

Sideboard

Attachment (5)
3x Raiment of War (The Thing in the Depths)
1x Silver Harp (The Treachery of Rhudaur)
1x Steed of Imladris (Across the Ettenmoors)

Event (6)
3x Sterner than Steel (The Flame of the West)
3x The Galadhrim’s Greeting (Core Set)

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

Decklist built and published on RingsDB.

Earth, Wind, and Firefoot by TheChad

A Grimbeorn + Firefoot deck using Elfhelm’s bonus and other attachments to power up Grimbeorn’s attack.

Main Deck

Hero (3)
Elfhelm (Temple of the Deceived)
Éowyn (Core Set)
Grimbeorn the Old (The Withered Heath)

Ally (17)
3x Arwen Undómiel (The Watcher in the Water)
2x Beorn (Core Set)
3x Beorning Skin-changer (The Withered Heath)
2x Gandalf (Core Set)
2x Giant Bear (Fire in the Night)
2x Honour Guard (The Wastes of Eriador)
3x Westfold Horse-breeder (The Voice of Isengard)

Attachment (25)
3x Ancient Mathom (A Journey to Rhosgobel)
1x Arod (The Treason of Saruman)
1x Dúnedain Remedy (The Drowned Ruins)
3x Firefoot (The Dunland Trap)
1x Hauberk of Mail (The Wilds of Rhovanion)
1x Miruvor (Shadow and Flame)
2x Necklace of Girion (The Wilds of Rhovanion)
3x Orcrist (Fire in the Night)
1x Snowmane (The Land of Shadow)
1x Song of Kings (The Hunt for Gollum)
1x Steed of Imladris (Across the Ettenmoors)
3x The Day’s Rising (The Antlered Crown)
2x Unexpected Courage (Core Set)
2x Windfola (A Storm on Cobas Haven)

Event (6)
2x Hasty Stroke (Core Set)
1x Quick Strike (Core Set)
3x Sneak Attack (Core Set)

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

3 Heroes, 50 Cards
Cards up to Fire in the Night

Sideboard

Hero (1)
Hirgon (Beneath the Sands)

Ally (3)
3x Wild Stallion (Roam Across Rhovanion)

Attachment (9)
3x Armored Destrier (Temple of the Deceived)
3x Steed of the Mark (The Morgul Vale)
3x Steward of Gondor (Core Set)

Event (6)
3x Beorn’s Rage (The Withered Heath)
3x Open the Armory (The Dungeons of Cirith Gurat)

Decklist built and published on RingsDB.