Boromir (Tactics Hero)

Pre-Errata

The top tier version

Background

Eldest son of Gondor’s Steward and a commander in their army. Driven by a dream he had to go to Rivendell where he joined the Fellowship of the Ring. He fell to the temptation of the Ring and tried to take it from Frodo causing the breaking of the Fellowship. Shortly afterwards, the Uruk-Hai attacked Merry and Pippin as they searched for Frodo and lead to Boromir’s demise as he defended them. As he lay dying, he confessed his attempt to take the Ring to Aragorn.

Card Theme

The pre-errata Boromir hero card reflected his combat capabilities from the book very well. He slew many of the orcs that had Merry and Pippin surrounded when they had been out searching for Frodo at the breaking of the Fellowship. Then at least 20 more before another host overpowered him to take the Hobbits. The pre-errata version could ready as much as the player had threat available to attack every enemy and if that wasn’t enough then discard him to finish off the enemies.

Card Synergies and Interactions

Stat Boosts

Boromir’s built-in readying means that every stat boost can be utilized more. His strong attack and decent defense put him disposed to combat. Fortunately, the Tactics sphere has most of the weapon and armor attachments that can maximize his combat potential. In particular, Gondorian Shield a defensive staple boosts his defense to 4 putting him on par with the Beregond that has the highest printed defense. Raiment of War and Captain of Gondor work well to boost both his attack and defense. Blade of Gondolin grants a conditional attack boost, but more importantly it turns his combat ability into a way to help quest by placing progress for each enemy defeated. While not in sphere, Valiant Sword and Shining Shield synergize with the drawback of his ability since they each provide a +2 bonus once at a player’s threat is 40 or higher.

Support of the Eagles + Eagle allies is an older more expensive way to boost Boromir’s combat ability. It still can be quite effective. Eagles of the Misty Mountains with a few facedown attachments maximizes the boost, but even Vassal of the Windlord‘s 3 attack or Winged Guardian‘s 4 defense are huge for Boromir.

The zenith of his combat ability is achieved not with weapons or armor attachments, but two tied his Numenorian ancestry often referred to simply as “Blood and Fire”. Blood of Numenor and Gondorian Fire will boost defense or attack, respectively, by the amount of resources on the hero at the cost of 1. A few turns building up with Steward of Gondor and gaining 3+ to either stat is easily achievable.

The errata limiting Boromir’s readying to once per phase made willpower boosts on Boromir more worthwhile. Tactics doesn’t have many ways to boost willpower although Tactics Theoden hero and The Red Arrow give a couple options. Grappling Hook is generally going to be the better option for Boromir to contribute to the quest since even without any boosts, it turns his 3 attack into 3 willpower. Leadership offers more options with Celebrian’s Stone, Dunedain Quest, and Visionary Leadership. Spirit has The Favor of the Lady, Windfola, and Silver Circlet although the later two requires Boromir to gain the Spirit icon first.

The One Ring and the Master trait attachments provide a quick way to boost Boromir’s stats because each gives +1 to a stat and a player gets to fetch Master trait card during setup and there. Strength and Courage’s response doesn’t work that well with his readying since it only affects 1 attack. Inner Strength’s is likely the most useful to Boromir since it puts his defense on par with the likes of Erkenbrand and Grimbeorn plus can cancel a shadow. Power of Command provides a willpower boost but the response will depend on the number of unique characters in the deck. There are a couple downsides to playing these with Boromir, and that is the reduced elimination level and they also increase threat. It can easily become too much threat too quickly.

Forth, The Three Hunters Contract

This contract really enables a “voltron” Boromir build to maximize his readying. It requires each hero have 2 restricted attachments in order to flip to side B. Once on side B, each hero gets +1 willpower for each restricted attachment. The Most restricted attachments are weapons and armor that Boromir wants already to improve his attack and defense. The even contract increases the restricted attachment limit from 2 to 3. This can get Boromir up to 3 or 4 willpower pretty easily while also improving his combat effectiveness. It will also provide repeatable healing which is handy since Boromir isn’t the best defender without some set up.

Threat Reduction

Threat reduction is key to using Boromir’s readying as much as possible in game. Tactics only has 1 option in sphere with Secret Vigil that is conditional on the enemy it can be played on. The good news is Boromir won’t have trouble destroying the enemy to trigger the threat reduction. There are two solid neutral cards for threat reduction, Core Set Gandalf and Favor of the Valar. Lore Aragorn hero offers the largest potential threat reduction. A Boromir player could get all the way to 49 and reset back to their starting threat. Spirit offers the staple Galadhrim’s Greeting. More notably Spirit has heroes that can reduce threat every turn. Beregond and Fastred can do so by defending. Merry just needs an enemy revealed during staging. There is one more that is a twofer in a Boromir deck.

Galadriel Hero

Galadriel can exhaust every round to reduce a player’s threat by 1. That is essentially a free ready on Boromir. Additionally she can boost Bormir’s willpower with her ring Nenya and some readying of her own.

Hero Revival

Normally losing a hero can set a player way back in a game. Boromir’s second ability is used rarely because of the lost resources of being down a hero. When used it usually is because the player would likely lose Boromir anyway or as a game finishing move in a scenario that requires all enemies to be defeated. The game does have Landroval, Fortune or Fate, and Houses of Healing that can bring Boromir back after using his second ability. They are all very expensive at 5 resources making it very difficult to build around using his direct damage multiple times in a game.

Quest Specific

The best quests to use Tactics Boromir in are quests with enemy swarms or start off with a lot of enemies in play. Seventh Level, Over the Misty Mountains Grim, and Fate of the Wilderland can easily see swarms of enemies coming out. Massing at Osgiliath starts off with 3 enemies in play per player. Boromir being able to defend and attack or attack twice right away can really help even the odds against those 3 enemies.

Scenarios to watch out for using him in are those with enemies that prevent readying or feature lots of Doomed or other effects that raise threat. The Haradrim cycle in particular has scorpion and spider enemies that can prevent a character from readying until the end of the round. Threat focused scenarios like Return to Mirkwood and Murder at the Prancing Pony are going to be tough for Boromir to use his readying. The Steward’s Fear, The Crossing of Poros, and The King’s Quest can possibly have a significant amount of raise threat effects. The Steward’s Fear depends on the plot revealed in Stage 3. The Crossing of Poros has a quest stage and encounter set that has a lot of threat but that might only be seen instead of a direct damage focused one. The King’s Quest it is at the player’s discretion to raise threat or add another location to the staging area. Temple of Doom and Fortress of Nurn can also feature lots of threat depending on the cards revealed from the Power of Mordor deck.

Ring Rating

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

I rate Boromir at 2 rings. The built-in readying and solid attack, defense, and hit points make him good at combat immediately. A couple boosts and he’s great. Blood of Numenor and Gondorion Fire with some resource acceleration and he’s amazing at combat. It’s also not that difficult to give him decent willpower so questing and using him in combat is worthwhile. Even post-errata it is still great considering there are some scenarios that have enemies that attack when a player engages them or make immediate attacks when revealed. Boromir can ready and help to defend them all. It is conceivable to use him in every phase of the game thanks to cards like Captain’s Wisdom and Quick Strike.

I mentioned Forth, The Three Hunters contract works really well with Boromir but really a few of them can work well with him. Fellowship gives all nine unique characters in play +1 to every stat which Boromir’s readying can make great use of. Grey Wanderer let’s the player start at 11 threat providing lots of threat to use with Boromir’s ability. The contract even gives him another way to ready. Then on top of that Strider gives him a willpower boost and not exhausting to quest. Grey Wanderer Boromir then can ready at least twice during combat and doesn’t need to exhaust to quest. Plus, doesn’t need a resource match to play Blood of Numenor if it is the first card played. Not to mention he will start in Secrecy for Resourceful to fuel Blood and Fire. Council of the Wise offers repeatable threat reduction for just playing events. As mentioned before, Boromir already starts off with solid combat stats and doesn’t need much to get going and would fit right into an event heavy deck.

I’ve noticed in this game that veterans (myself included) will avoid certain powerful cards in the card pool. I do this to experiment with different deck builds and enjoy the variety of deck types out of there. Others likely have similar reasoning or may just want to preserve the challenge in the game. It could be they are disappointed he can’t endlessly ready anymore. No matter the reasoning, Boromir is still a very effective hero albeit straightforward one. I would rate him at 1 ring pre-errata since he could just effectively handle combat on his own. Post-errata he needs more to do everything in combat, but still can do a lot for the players even just readying once per phase.

  • Dave – 4 (originally 5)
  • Grant – 5
  • Ted – 4
  • Brandon – 1
  • Matt – 2
  • Average – 3.2

External Links

Sample Decks

Screw You Fate of the Wilderland by kattattack22

As the title says, I built this to handle Fate of the Wilderland. The plan is basically Eomer and Boromir quest primarily to avoid gaining too much threat. Boromir readies before combat. Grimbeorn defends and uses his response to hopefully kill the attacker. Boromir is back up defender or can hopefully finish off the enemy.

Main Deck

Hero (3)
Boromir (The Dead Marshes)
Éomer (The Mountain of Fire)
Grimbeorn the Old (The Withered Heath)

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

Attachment (44)
3x Armored Destrier (Temple of the Deceived)
3x Dagger of Westernesse (The Black Riders)
3x Firefoot (The Dunland Trap)
3x Golden Belt (Challenge of the Wainriders)
3x Gondorian Shield (The Steward’s Fear)
2x Hauberk of Mail (The Wilds of Rhovanion)
3x Raiment of War (The Thing in the Depths)
3x Rohan Warhorse (The Voice of Isengard)
3x Round Shield (Mount Gundabad)
3x Secret Vigil (The Lost Realm)
3x Shining Shield (The Fortress of Nurn)
3x Spear of the Mark (The Morgul Vale)
3x Valiant Sword (Under the Ash Mountains)
3x War Axe (The City of Ulfast)
3x Warrior Sword (The Ghost of Framsburg)

Event (6)
3x Foe-hammer (Over Hill and Under Hill)
3x Open the Armory (The Dungeons of Cirith Gurat)

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

Sideboard

Event (3)
3x Sterner than Steel (The Flame of the West)

Decklist built and published on RingsDB.

Optimus Prime… SUPER MODE! by BeestThouNotInHaste

Gondor is strong, but the might of Gondor wanes, and even under the leadership of the great Optimus Prime (Boromir), his meager 2 and 3 are not enough to stand up to the forces of evil. Fortunately for his troops, Boromir has a secret weapon he can use to face the darkness: he can invoke the power of the Matrix Of Combination (Support of the Eagles) to combine with his trailer (Eagles of the Misty Mountains) to enter into…

Optimus Prime… Super Mode!

Main Deck

Hero (3)
Boromir (The Dead Marshes)
Galadriel (Celebrimbor’s Secret)
Mablung (The Nîn-in-Eilph)

Ally (23)
3x Descendant of Thorondor (The Hills of Emyn Muil)
3x Eagles of the Misty Mountains (Return to Mirkwood)
3x Galadriel’s Handmaiden (Celebrimbor’s Secret)
2x Gandalf (Core Set)
2x Gwaihir (Trouble in Tharbad)
3x Vassal of the Windlord (The Dead Marshes)
2x Westfold Horse-breeder (The Voice of Isengard)
2x Westfold Outrider (The Voice of Isengard)
3x Winged Guardian (The Hunt for Gollum)

Attachment (18)
3x Ancient Mathom (A Journey to Rhosgobel)
2x Born Aloft (Conflict at the Carrock)
2x Mirror of Galadriel (Celebrimbor’s Secret)
3x Nenya (Celebrimbor’s Secret)
2x Power in the Earth (Core Set)
2x Rohan Warhorse (The Voice of Isengard)
3x Support of the Eagles (Return to Mirkwood)
1x Unexpected Courage (Core Set)

Event (9)
2x A Test of Will (Core Set)
2x Feint (Core Set)
3x The Eagles Are Coming! (The Hunt for Gollum)
2x The Galadhrim’s Greeting (Core Set)

3 Heroes, 50 Cards
Cards up to Celebrimbor’s Secret

Sideboard

Event (2)
2x Power of Orthanc (The Voice of Isengard)

Decklist built and published on RingsDB.

The Very Wise Captain by Seastan

Play Song of Travel on Boromor. Then use Captain’s Wisdom, Steward of Gondor, and Leadership Denethor to give Boromir 8 resources turn 1 for Blood and Fire.

Main Deck

Hero (3)
Boromir (The Dead Marshes)
Denethor (Flight of the Stormcaller)
Erestor (The Treachery of Rhudaur)

Ally (10)
2x Anfalas Herdsman (The Steward’s Fear)
2x Arwen Undómiel (The Watcher in the Water)
3x Envoy of Pelargir (Heirs of Númenor)
3x Ethir Swordsman (The Steward’s Fear)

Attachment (16)
2x Blood of Númenor (Heirs of Númenor)
3x Gondorian Fire (Assault on Osgiliath)
3x Gondorian Shield (The Steward’s Fear)
2x Silver Harp (The Treachery of Rhudaur)
3x Song of Travel (The Hills of Emyn Muil)
3x Steward of Gondor (Core Set)

Event (24)
3x A Test of Will (Core Set)
3x Captain’s Wisdom (The Thing in the Depths)
3x Daeron’s Runes (Foundations of Stone)
3x Elrond’s Counsel (The Watcher in the Water)
3x Gaining Strength (The Steward’s Fear)
3x The Galadhrim’s Greeting (Core Set)
3x Wealth of Gondor (Heirs of Númenor)
3x Will of the West (Core Set)

3 Heroes, 50 Cards
Cards up to The Thing in the Depths

Sideboard

Ally (3)
3x Galadriel’s Handmaiden (Celebrimbor’s Secret)

Attachment (6)
3x Dúnedain Cache (The Dead Marshes)
3x Favor of the Valar (The Battle of Carn Dûm)

Decklist built and published on RingsDB.

Boromir (Ally)

  • Player Card Categories
    • Defense Bonus
    • Readying
    • Surprise
    • Messenger of the King

The Hobbit protector version

Background

Eldest son of Gondor’s Steward and a commander in their army. Driven by a dream he had to go to Rivendell where he joined the Fellowship of the Ring. He fell to the temptation of the Ring and tried to take it from Frodo causing the breaking of the Fellowship. Shortly afterwards, the Uruk-Hai attacked Merry and Pippin as they searched for Frodo and lead to Boromir’s demise as he defended them. As he lay dying, he confessed his attempt to take the Ring to Aragorn.

Card Theme

This version of Boromir gets a defense bonus when the player is engaged with a higher engagement cost enemy than their threat. He is the only non-Hobbit character to have an ability the engaged with higher engagement cost enemy. All other characters with this kind of triggered ability are Hobbit characters. This clearly is intended to be Boromir as he defended Merry and Pippin from the Uruk-hai. Adding to this association is that he readies every time that he is damaged. This could easily happen as he defends from attacks, but also from characters with Archery that deal direct damage. The archery damage can be even more fitting as he had a few black arrows in him from the Uruk-hai’s bows.

Card Synergies and Interactions

Low Threat Heroes and Threat Reduction

Boromir’s defense bonus works more consistently the lower the initial threat cost of your heroes. Thematically, Hobbit heroes comprise a large portion of the heroes with with 7 threat cost or less. Although there are many other options like Spirit Glorfindel, Mirlonde, Smeagol, and Tactics Eowyn that also have a threat cost of 7 or less. If expanded to 8 many more options become available like both versions of Denethor although 3 heroes at 8 threat get close to 25 engagement cost which is one of the more common enemy engagement costs. Messenger of the King further expands the roster to unique allies with useful abilities but not many stats like Ioreth and Gleowine. Another option to start with low threat to increase the consistency of the defense bonus is to use only 1 hero with The Grey Wanderer contract.

An addendum to starting with low threat, is keeping threat low. Spirit Merry covers both considering he only has 6 threat cost and his ability can reduce the player’s threat each time an enemy is revealed. In sphere with Boromir, there is really only Secret Vigil. In the Hobbit deck that his ability works best with, there are several options like Elvenses, The Shirefolk, and the other staples like The Galadhrim’s Greeting Woodmen’s Clearing.

Healing

Healing allows a player to really maximize Boromir’s second ability. Each time he takes damage, he can ready. If a player heals him after taking that damage, he’s free to keep taking damage and readying. There’s no limit on the ability unlike the errata’d Tactics hero version.

Repeatable effects like Warden of Healing, Ioreth, and Self Preservation work very well since they can be used after Boromir is damaged by enemy or other effect. Additionally they can be boosted by Elrond Hero. Other one-time healing effects like Healing Herbs and Lore of Imladris are better if Boromir already has taken significant damage and even better if he has additional hit points from ally attachments.

Ally Attachments

There are a few ally attachments that can really boost his defensive and readying capability. Hauberk of Mail and Round Shield can increase his defense. Ent Draught, Vigilant Guard, Wild Stallion, and Raiment of War provide more hit points to let him take more damage and keep readying. Wild Stallion and Raiment of War adding attack as well make his readying even better when he is ready to attack back. Card Talk contributor Quetzal wrote a great review of Boromir on Ringsdb years ago pointing out a great interaction with Vigilant Guard. He noted you can use Vigilant Guard’s damage redirection ability to damage Boromir and ready him even more often. Quetzal suggested using this with hero Beorn because he can defend without exhausting but has low defense. Ringsdb user AJ_800 took it a step further using hero Treebeard’s ability to deal damage to Boromir up to 5 times per phase. Note, Treebeard won’t get the bonus willpower or attack since the he doesn’t pay the price of taking the damage himself.

Sword of Morthond can indirectly increase any of Boromir’s stats. It really just depends on how many of the Outlands allies are included along with Boromir.

Hirgon and Tactics Imrahil

Boromir’s 4 cost is expensive especially in a sphere with few resource acceleration options. Hirgon offers a way to discount Boromir with the added bonus of boosting his combat stats. The built-in readying of Boromir can really leverage the boost. Tactics Imrahil also can possibly find and put Boromir into play for a turn. Normally shuffling the ally back into the deck is a full on downside. There is a bit of benefit to it for Boromir ally since all damage is removed. A player could potentially get 2 or 3 readies in Boromir and then basically fully heal him by putting him back into the deck.

Messenger of the King

Messenger of the King opens up many more attachment options and offers a slightly lower threat cost at 9 compared to 11 of the regular hero version. Top among of them in power is Gondorian Fire and Blood of Numenor. They each have a player spend a resource for bonus attack or defense equal the resources on the hero. This was a mainstay of pre-errata Tactics Boromir hero that had no limit on his readying. Specifically for this version, Citadel Plates for many more hit points along with Well Preserved and The One Ring for full healing each turn can really turn him into a defending and readying machine.

Damage Cancelation

Damage cancelation is a bit of nonbo or combo that doesn’t work. As mentioned earlier, abilities like hero Treebeard that say take damage for an effect, damage is considered the cost. If the character doesn’t take the damage, then the cost isn’t payed and the effect doesn’t happen. This doesn’t mean they can’t help if Boromir would take more than 1 damage, but players have to be careful to not cancel all the damage.

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 Boromir at 3 rings. I’ll admit prior to my review, my opinion of this card was pretty middling. When I play Hobbits, I tend to make a super defender with Hobbit Cloak and other defensive attachments or just chump block. The only deck I’ve played the card in was Seastan’s Tactics Imrahil deck called Bouncy Bear. It primarily focused on using Spare and Cloak to maximize actions with the beefy allies in the deck. I realized as I prepared for this review by looking at various decklists and reading other reviews that there were many more combos with this card than I thought. I’m especially intrigued by the possibilities with Vigilant Guard readying Boromir. The cycles since The Road Darkens came out have really opened up more decks that this version can be useful in besides just Hobbit decks.

He still faces some tough competition for attention at 4 cost in Tactics between the excellent Legolas ally and fun to build around Vigilant Dunadan. The original Tactics Boromir that is still a very good hero despite his readying limited to once per phase by the errata. Leadership Boromir also sees a fair bit of play despite being a bit niche for Gondor Swarm decks. It is a card that likely has been long overshadowed by the hero versions that came out earlier in the game.

  • Dave – 5
  • Grant – TBR
  • Ted – 4
  • Matt – 3
  • Average – 4

External Links

Sample Decks

The Return of the King by AJ_800

Messenger of the King Boromir ally deck leveraging Vigilant Guard + Treebeard hero to ready Boromir several times a turn.

Main Deck

Hero (3)
(MotK) Boromir (Messenger of the King Allies)
Glorfindel (Foundations of Stone)
Treebeard (The Treason of Saruman)

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

Ally (15)
2x Boromir (The Road Darkens)
3x Envoy of Pelargir (Heirs of Númenor)
3x Firyal (The Mûmakil)
3x Gandalf (Core Set)
1x Ioreth (A Storm on Cobas Haven)
3x Wellinghall Preserver (Across the Ettenmoors)

Attachment (20)
2x Asfaloth (Foundations of Stone)
3x Elf-stone (The Black Riders)
3x Ent Draught (The Treason of Saruman)
3x Gondorian Shield (The Steward’s Fear)
3x Light of Valinor (Foundations of Stone)
1x Strength and Courage (The City of Ulfast)
1x The One Ring (A Shadow in the East)
3x Vigilant Guard (A Storm on Cobas Haven)
1x Well Preserved (Under the Ash Mountains)

Event (15)
3x A Test of Will (Core Set)
3x Daeron’s Runes (Foundations of Stone)
3x Drinking Song (Mount Gundabad)
3x Dwarven Tomb (Core Set)
3x Elrond’s Counsel (The Watcher in the Water)

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

Decklist built and published on RingsDB.

Main Deck

Hero (3)
(MotK) Boromir (Messenger of the King Allies)
Glorfindel (Foundations of Stone)
Treebeard (The Treason of Saruman)

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

Ally (15)
2x Boromir (The Road Darkens)
3x Envoy of Pelargir (Heirs of Númenor)
3x Firyal (The Mûmakil)
3x Gandalf (Core Set)
1x Ioreth (A Storm on Cobas Haven)
3x Wellinghall Preserver (Across the Ettenmoors)

Attachment (20)
2x Asfaloth (Foundations of Stone)
3x Elf-stone (The Black Riders)
3x Ent Draught (The Treason of Saruman)
3x Gondorian Shield (The Steward’s Fear)
3x Light of Valinor (Foundations of Stone)
1x Strength and Courage (The City of Ulfast)
1x The One Ring (A Shadow in the East)
3x Vigilant Guard (A Storm on Cobas Haven)
1x Well Preserved (Under the Ash Mountains)

Event (15)
3x A Test of Will (Core Set)
3x Daeron’s Runes (Foundations of Stone)
3x Drinking Song (Mount Gundabad)
3x Dwarven Tomb (Core Set)
3x Elrond’s Counsel (The Watcher in the Water)

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

Decklist built and published on RingsDB.

Imrahil, Prince of Dol Amoth by carlosm88

Tactics Imrahil deck featuring the Outlands allies, Sword of Morthond, and Boromir ally.

Main Deck

Hero (3)
Denethor (Flight of the Stormcaller)
Hirluin the Fair (The Steward’s Fear)
Prince Imrahil (The City of Corsairs)

Ally (25)
3x Anfalas Herdsman (The Steward’s Fear)
2x Boromir (The Road Darkens)
3x Envoy of Pelargir (Heirs of Númenor)
3x Errand-rider (Heirs of Númenor)
3x Ethir Swordsman (The Steward’s Fear)
1x Forlong (The Drúadan Forest)
3x Hunter of Lamedon (Heirs of Númenor)
3x Knights of the Swan (The Steward’s Fear)
1x Legolas (The Treason of Saruman)
3x Warrior of Lossarnach (The Steward’s Fear)

Attachment (13)
2x Gondorian Shield (The Steward’s Fear)
2x Heir of Mardil (Celebrimbor’s Secret)
3x Prince of Dol Amroth (The City of Corsairs)
2x Rod of the Steward (Flight of the Stormcaller)
3x Steward of Gondor (Core Set)
1x Sword of Morthond (Assault on Osgiliath)

Event (11)
3x Man the Walls (The Ghost of Framsburg)
1x Men of the West (Assault on Osgiliath)
3x Valiant Sacrifice (Core Set)
3x We Are Not Idle (Shadow and Flame)
1x Wealth of Gondor (Heirs of Númenor)

Player Side Quest (1)
1x Gather Information (The Lost Realm)

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

Decklist built and published on RingsDB.

Bilbo Baggins (Tactics)

  • Cycle
    • Ered Mithren 
  • Set
  • Player Card Categories
    • Direct Damage
    • Staging Area Control

But one day Bilbo was asked to go
On a big adventure to the caves below
To help some dwarves get back their gold
That was stolen by a dragon in the days of old

The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins by Leonard Nimoy

Background

Bilbo once a respectable Hobbit from a respectable family that didn’t go off having adventures, went on an adventure to burgle treasure from a dragon. Along the way, he won or found a magic ring (depending on the telling) that would change the course of Middle-Earth. That however is another story. Bilbo aided by the magic ring, verbally sparred with a dragon in trying to burgle some treasures. In so doing provoked the dragon to attack a nearby town leading to its demise and liberation of a Dwarven ancestral home and its treasures. Elves, Men, and Dwarves afterwards nearly came to war over the liberated treasures until the host of goblins, orcs, and wargs arrived. Bilbo was soon knocked out in the fighting but survived to take a nice stash of treasure home to retire on.

Card Theme

The willpower boost Bilbo gains from an enemy in the staging area is very thematic to Bilbo in The Hobbit. While he is initially resistant to the adventure, he always rises to the occasion when confronted with adversaries.

Card Synergies and Interactions

Guarded X Cards

This version of Bilbo is basically designed for these cards considering he does 2 damage to an enemy guarding a card. The guarded card Bilbo most wants besides for thematic reasons, Sting, is Guarded (enemy). This is great as it gives Bilbo a potential target and once free of encounters +1 willpower, attack, and defense. It also builds on his ability to directly damage enemies dealing 1 damage each time Bilbo attacks. This set ups Bilbo damaging an enemy in the staging area and dealing the final point of damage just by blocking. Durin’s Axe is similar as the only other Guarded (enemy) card and also with a direct damage effect.

Most of the others are Guarded (enemy or location), and there’s at least a chance they will add an enemy for his ability. Of course, there is always A Shadow of the Past to help set up an enemy preferably with lower hit points for one of these wonderful attachments. Necklace of Girion or The Arkenstone both can help make Bilbo a better quester. Of course these can always be given to other heroes as well even those under the control of other players. In multiplayer, there will likely always be a target for Bilbo’s ability and more willpower available to handle an additional encounter card.

Commit a Hero or Character to the Quest

Both Hobbit Pony and Late Adventurer let a player commit him in the action window after staging but before quest resolution. This opens up any enemy revealed during staging as a target for his ability and maximize Bilbo’s willpower bonus. You can chose to Hobbit Pony is better considering it is an attachment and can be used every round once it is in play.

A fun combo is use one or both of these with Elevenses. Commit Bilbo during the regular commit characters to the quest step. After staging, remove him from the quest with Elvenses and reduce your threat by 1 (assuming you only remove Bilbo). Then recommit him with these two to trigger his willpower boost a second time. This works because his response lasts until the end of the phase. Per FAQ 1.55, lasting effects from player cards are not recalculated even if the game state changes. In this case, Biblo’s questing status. Additionally, his response does not have a stated limit. It can be triggered again if he is recommitted to the quest creating a new trigger and another lasting effect boosting his willpower twice. Windfola can also potentially commit Bilbo to the quest twice, but it requires a Song of Travel and a quest that can removes characters from the quest.

Direct Damage

Bilbo’s ability alone typically won’t destroy an enemy in a single round. Some quests early in the game’s life had a many 1 or 2 hit point enemies like The Seventh Level or Over the Misty Mountains Grim. Later scenarios, the norm was enemies with 3 or more hit points. In those, more is needed if a player wants to destroy an enemy with direct damage.

Tactics is full of direct damage options including Bilbo’s signature weapon, Sting. Sting deals a damage whether attacking or defending. This works quite well considering Hobbits have additional readying via Fast Hitch. Spear of the Citadel can also go directly on Bilbo to deal damage when defending or on Gondorian Spearman. The spearman then can deal 2 damage when defending. Thalin can also soften up any enemies revealed during a turn when he quests. Galadhon Archer, Descendent of Throndor, and Rumil have direct damage effects are like Gandalf ally from the Core Set dealing direct damage when they enter play.

Lore is the other main sphere with direct damage effects. Argalad can team up with Bilbo to deal 1 damage to an enemy in the staging area provided he has enough attack power to reduce their threat to 0. Poisoned Stakes trap can also deal 2 damage at the end of each round. This works well when building around keeping an enemy in staging for Bilbo to target over multiple rounds.

These that I’ve listed is not an exhaustive list. These are most of the recurring ones or could be recurred fairly easily. There are many event based ones like Swift Strike, Hail of Stones, Goblin-Cleaver, or Expecting Mischief.

Staging Area Attack

Similar to Bilbo’s ability, staging area attack lets a player damage an enemy before engaging it. Dunhere introduced the ability in the Core Set. Haldir hero and Leadership Eomer have staging area attack built in as well. Heroes with ranged can also gain it via Great Yew Bow and Hands Upon the Bow. Bilbo’s old acquaintance, Bard the Bowman using the Great Yew Bow can even give the enemy -2 defense.

Engagement Control and Threat Reduction

There are 2 kinds of effects that allow a player wants to keep an enemy in the staging area. Engagement control that either skips the encounter phase or increase the enemies’ engagement cost, or Threat Reduction to reduce a player’s threat. There are only a couple cards that can increase an enemy’s engagement cost, Take No Notice and Mablung ally. Both only do so by 5 and for a single phase. This limits their usefulness significantly because 5 will not push the enemies with very low engagement of 10 – 20 above the threat of most decks. This cross-section of enemies are the ones this effect would be the most useful against and needed, but they don’t increase it enough. The only repeatable engagement cost increase is from Lore Pippin‘s ability which Biblo helps to boost. Unfortunately there are only 2 cards that prevent engagement checks. Ranger Spikes is a bit of a nonbo since it lowers the enemy’s threat. Advance Warning isn’t available because all the heroes require a printed Lore resource to play it.

Threat reduction is better considering there are several more cards for it. Unfortunately, in sphere there is only Secret Vigil that at best will reduce a players threat by 4. Fortunately, hobbit focused decks have The Shirefolk that can reduce threat by 4 for free and it is neutral. Elevenses is another option with some other combo potential mentioned earlier. Then there always the threat reduction staples of Galadhrim’s Greeting, Elrond’s Counsel, and Woodmen’s Clearing. 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. If the Bilbo player is already low enough, they’ll keep the enemies up in staging Fastred can help get threat lower and put the enemy back into staging for Bilbo to target.

Grey Wanderer

Grey Wanderer has many advantages for Bilbo. One, the player’s threat starts very low avoiding most if not all enemy engagements allowing him to use his ability easily. Two, the free 1 cost attachment can get Strider allowing him to quest every round without exhausting and boost his willpower to quest even without an enemy. Third, it has a built in readying to maximize direct damage when Bilbo uses Sting.

Quest Specific

Escape from Dol Guldur, The Hunt for Gollum, A Journey to Rhosgobel, Across the Ettinmoors, A Storm on Cobas Haven all feature the Guarded keyword. While it is not guaranteed an enemy will be the encounter card guarding each objective, they still present more opportunities for Bilbo to deal 2 damage. Shadows of Mirkwood and Darrowdelf have a couple great targets for Bilbo, Goblin Sniper and Khazad-Dum’s Orc Drummer. High engagement cost, low hit points, and an incredibly annoying ability while they’re in the staging area. Little surging enemies in later cycles similar to Ered Mithren’s Stray Goblin are also good targets. It creates action advantage by not having to defend them and gets a little threat out of the staging area. Ered Mithren also has some enemies like Mirkwood Patrol and Hobgoblin that end up guarding cards on their own that Bilbo can counter.

Intruders in Chetwood, Dungeson of Cirith Gurat, and Helm’s Deep are all ones to avoid using Bilbo in. Intruders in Chetwood enemies can’t be damaged while Orc War Party is in play. The quest starts with one in play and there are 2 others in the encounter deck. More often than not, enemies won’t be able to take damage. Dungeons of Cirith Gurat is a real heartbreaker for Biblo. Enemies guarding objectives are immune to player card effects during stage 1 otherwise they would take 2 damage from him! They’re even often guarding something because they will capture allies as objectives. The second stage when the players have to avoid engaging enemies for 2 turns where it would be another great time for him, except they’re all immune to damage. Helm’s Deep many of the enemies have the toughness X keyword that cancels the first X damage any time damage is dealt to them. Bilbo’s damage then will just get canceled every time it is used against them.

Ring Rating

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

I’m going to preface this rating with Tactics Bilbo is one of my top heroes I like to play. If I rated on how much I like the card, the rating would be at least a 2. Still based on his general usefulness, power level, and how many deck types he would fit into he’s a 5. He can work fine in many decks because he can basically offset an enemy’s threat and possibly soften up an enemy before it is engaged. This only gets more powerful when combined with player guarded attachments or more effects that can damage enemies in the staging area. Bonus willpower in the willpower poor Tactics sphere is a huge boon to monosphere Tactics.

One problem is his stats are all low. Still his base willpower isn’t enough for him to be the main questing hero without several willpower boosting attachments or Forth the Three Hunters side B active. His best stat is defense but at 2 and 2 hit points, he can’t defend well without a couple defense boosts. Sting can help since it boosts all his stats and gives him direct damage for defending. Plus 1 to all stats though makes him more like the Dunedain heroes that are jack of all trades. Hobbit heroes fortunately has additional readying with Fast Hitch and additional stat boosting from Rosie Cotton. It is a lot of setup to put him on par with many other heroes.

The other problem that is carried over from his earlier Lore version is the 9 threat cost. It is the highest of the Hobbits and a bit counter to his ability. His ability requires the player to avoid engagement at least once to trigger unless using Hobbit Pony or lots of engagement control and threat reduction.

This is all to say that without much support, Tactics Bilbo is often outclassed by others in the same sphere and threat cost like Core Set Legolas. When built around, Bilbo can be powerful and fun to play. Contracts in particular make it easier to get him built up quickly.

  • Dave – 3
  • Grant – 3
  • Ted – TBR
  • Matt – 5
  • Average 3.66

External Links

Sample Decks

Wandering Burgler Discovers Fate of Numenor by kattattack22

Basic idea is to leverage Bilbo’s ability combined with direct damage from Gandalf and Descendent of Thorondor to clear enemies guarding Sting or Necklace of Girion. Also the Eagles of the North might discard a non-unqiue enemy guarding a card. Azain’s direct damage ability is another possibility since can engage an enemy not guarding a card that shares a trait and have ability deal more damage to enemy in the staging area.

Wandering Burgler Discovers Fate of Numenor

Main Deck

Hero (1)
Bilbo Baggins (Mount Gundabad)

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

Ally (22)
3x Azain Silverbeard (Flight of the Stormcaller)
3x Descendant of Thorondor (The Hills of Emyn Muil)
3x Eagles of the Misty Mountains (Return to Mirkwood)
3x Gandalf (Core Set)
1x Gwaihir (Trouble in Tharbad)
3x Meneldor (Roam Across Rhovanion)
3x Mirkwood Explorer (The Thing in the Depths)
3x Northern Tracker (Core Set)

Attachment (16)
3x Fast Hitch (The Dead Marshes)
3x Necklace of Girion (The Wilds of Rhovanion)
3x Resourceful (The Watcher in the Water)
3x Sting (Mount Gundabad)
1x Strider (The Drowned Ruins)
3x Support of the Eagles (Return to Mirkwood)

Event (12)
3x Flight of the Eagles (Roam Across Rhovanion)
3x Sneak Attack (Core Set)
3x The Shirefolk (Mount Gundabad)
3x Timely Aid (The Redhorn Gate)

Player Side Quest (1)
1x Gather Information (The Lost Realm)

1 Hero, 51 Cards
Cards up to Challenge of the Wainriders

Sideboard

Ally (9)
3x Eagle of the North (Roam Across Rhovanion)
3x Vassal of the Windlord (The Dead Marshes)
3x Winged Guardian (The Hunt for Gollum)

Attachment (6)
3x Born Aloft (Conflict at the Carrock)
3x Poisoned Stakes (The Blood of Gondor)

Event (6)
3x The Eagles Are Coming! (The Hunt for Gollum)
3x The King’s Return (The Fate of Wilderland)

Decklist built and published on RingsDB.

Guarded-o-rama by Card Talk Dave

This deck was created because of an episode of Card Talk where Grant and Dave discuss ways to get Guarded Cards, namely Durin’s Axe into play. To see that episode, click on over to it HERE. The idea is that Éomer can attack into the staging area and, coupled with Firefoot, excess damage can be assigned to enemies engaged with you. While this isn’t even remotely the “new hotness,” coupled with Bilbo Baggins is a great twist.

Guarded-o-rama

Main Deck

Hero (3)
Bilbo Baggins (Mount Gundabad)
Éomer (The Mountain of Fire)
Éowyn (The Flame of the West)

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

Attachment (39)
3x Cram (Over Hill and Under Hill)
3x Dagger of Westernesse (The Black Riders)
1x Durin’s Axe (Wrath and Ruin)
2x Firefoot (The Dunland Trap)
3x Golden Belt (Challenge of the Wainriders)
2x Golden Shield (The Flame of the West)
2x Gúthwinë (The Mountain of Fire)
1x Magic Ring (The Crossings of Poros)
2x Mariner’s Compass (The Grey Havens)
1x Mithril Shirt (The Fate of Wilderland)
1x Necklace of Girion (The Wilds of Rhovanion)
3x Rohan Warhorse (The Voice of Isengard)
2x Spear of the Citadel (Heirs of Númenor)
3x Steward of Gondor (Core Set)
1x Sting (Mount Gundabad)
1x Stone of Elostirion (Under the Ash Mountains)
1x The Arkenstone (The Withered Heath)
1x Thorongil (The Fortress of Nurn)
3x War Axe (The City of Ulfast)
3x Warrior Sword (The Ghost of Framsburg)

Event (12)
3x Bilbo’s Plan (The Land of Sorrow)
3x Foe-hammer (Over Hill and Under Hill)
3x Open the Armory (The Dungeons of Cirith Gurat)
3x The King’s Return (The Fate of Wilderland)

3 Heroes, 51 Cards
Cards up to The Fortress of Nurn

Decklist built and published on RingsDB.

The Burglar and the Bowman by Hollowbandit

A Bard and Bilbo buddy deck with Fastred defending them and reducing threat.

Main Deck

Hero (3)
Bard the Bowman (On the Doorstep)
Bilbo Baggins (Mount Gundabad)
Fastred (The Black Serpent)

Ally (12)
1x Arwen Undómiel (The Watcher in the Water)
1x Azain Silverbeard (Flight of the Stormcaller)
1x Bofur (The Redhorn Gate)
2x Curious Brandybuck (The Wastes of Eriador)
3x Galadhon Archer (The Nîn-in-Eilph)
1x Gandalf (Core Set)
3x Honour Guard (The Wastes of Eriador)

Attachment (23)
2x Ancient Mathom (A Journey to Rhosgobel)
1x Black Arrow (On the Doorstep)
2x Book of Eldacar (Encounter at Amon Dîn)
3x Dagger of Westernesse (The Black Riders)
3x Great Yew Bow (On the Doorstep)
1x Hobbit Pony (The Wastes of Eriador)
1x Magic Ring (The Crossings of Poros)
1x Necklace of Girion (The Wilds of Rhovanion)
3x Round Shield (Mount Gundabad)
1x Song of Battle (The Dead Marshes)
3x Sting (Mount Gundabad)
1x The Arkenstone (The Withered Heath)
1x Unexpected Courage (Core Set)

Event (15)
3x A Test of Will (Core Set)
3x Feint (Core Set)
3x Foe-hammer (Over Hill and Under Hill)
3x Hands Upon the Bow (Shadow and Flame)
3x Straight Shot (On the Doorstep)

3 Heroes, 50 Cards
Cards up to Mount Gundabad

Decklist built and published on RingsDB.

Revealed in Wrath

  • Cycle
    • Dreamchaser
  • Set
    • Temple of the Deceived

Tech for difficult enemies like the Mumak.

Background

The card title, art, and flavor text all refer to Glorfindel, Aragorn, Pippin, Sam, and Merry driving the Nazgul into the Ford of Bruinen. In particular, Glorfindel reveals his power that forces to Nazghul to shrink away from him and drive their horses mad. This traps them in the Ford to be swept away by the oncoming flood and let them take Frodo to Rivendell safely. Glorfindel had a great presence in the Unseen World due to being a First Age elf that lived in Valinor, died fighting a Balrog, and returned to Middle Earth by the Valar. This presence is what caused the Ringwraiths to recoil and generally avoid him.

Card Theme

The theme of Glorfindel using his presence to neutralize the Nazghul fits very well with blanking enemy textboxes. It doesn’t completely neutralize an enemy in the game since their stats are still in play. It can certainly negate many of their abilities that makes them more dangerous or difficult to defeat.

Card Synergies and Interactions

Quest Specific

The game ever since the Core Set included non-unique enemies with strong abilities. The Hill Troll and Marsh Adder in the Wilderlands encounter set could raise a players threat very quickly. Chieftain Ufthak kept getting stronger the longer it was in play. The Nazgul of Dol Guldur can decimate a board state if there is a shadow effect forcing the player to discard a character. All of these negative effects can be blocked for a turn.

Mumaks are fantastic targets for Revealed in Wrath due to the limit of damage they can take. Blanking text box allows players to exceed the limit and destroy them in a single round. The Uruk-hai in The Treason of Saruman scenarios are similar because Toughness reduces all damage they would normally take. Without it, they are easier to destroy and open to direct damage.

Orc War Party in Angmar Awakened also is great to blank because it prevents enemies in the staging are from taking damage and the players from winning the game. Players using staging area attack or direct damage can clear out the staging area in Intruders in Chetwood.

Revealed in Wrath also can provide a lot of value against ship enemies in the Voyage Across Belegaer, Flight of the Stormcaller, A Storm on Cobas Haven, and Hunt for the Dreadnaught. This is because many of them have the Boarding keyword. Boarding X says, “When a ship-enemy with the Boarding keyword engages a player from the staging area, reveal the top X cards from the Corsair Deck and put the revealed enemies into play, engaged with that player.” Getting rid of the Boarding keyword during the engagement phase can often times avoid additional enemy engagements.

More thematically, there are the various Nazghul enemies from the Saga scenarios. Many are just restricted from having non-Morgul attachments and still vulnerable to being blanked. The best ones to blank are the ones that have additional attack triggers. Rider of Mordor can be great to get rid of the willpower penalty or to avoid engaging because The one Ring is exhausted.

Noldor Heroes

There unfortunately is only one Noldor hero in the Tactics sphere, Elladan, to satisfy both requirements to play Revealed in Wrath. Although, Elrond can play Revealed in Wrath using Vilya. This isn’t much of an issue considering many of Noldor heroes are very splashable with typically high willpower and useful abilities with card draw, resource acceleration, and threat reduction. They ca easily fight into a team with a Tactics hero or two.

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 Revealed in Wrath at 7 rings. It can be useful in a number of scenarios looking at the vast array of abilities. There are a few cases where it can provide a tremendous benefit like the Mumaks with the damage limits and ship enemies with boarding. Other Tactics events likely will be better for most non-unique enemies. Especially if they outright can help the player destroy the enemy like Quick Strike, Hands Upon the Bow, or Fierce Defense.

  • Dave –
  • Grant –
  • Ted –
  • Matt – 7

External Links

Sample Decks

Mettle of the Strong by WingfootRanger

A Spirit Tactics deck with a strong hero line up with a flexible toolbox of answers for a scenario’s challenges.

Main Deck

Hero (3)
Beorn (Over Hill and Under Hill)
Beregond (The Flame of the West)
Círdan the Shipwright (The Grey Havens)

Ally (19)
2x Arwen Undómiel (The Watcher in the Water)
1x Bofur (Over Hill and Under Hill)
2x Dúnedain Hunter (The Lost Realm)
3x Ethir Swordsman (The Steward’s Fear)
3x Galadhon Archer (The Nîn-in-Eilph)
3x Galadriel’s Handmaiden (Celebrimbor’s Secret)
3x Rhovanion Outrider (Temple of the Deceived)
2x Riddermark Knight (The Dungeons of Cirith Gurat)

Attachment (16)
2x Ancient Mathom (A Journey to Rhosgobel)
3x Gondorian Shield (The Steward’s Fear)
3x Light of Valinor (Foundations of Stone)
1x Magic Ring (The Crossings of Poros)
2x Narya (The Grey Havens)
3x Thrór’s Key (On the Doorstep)
2x Unexpected Courage (Core Set)

Event (15)
3x A Test of Will (Core Set)
3x Desperate Defense (The Flame of the West)
3x Feint (Core Set)
3x Hasty Stroke (Core Set)
3x Revealed in Wrath (Temple of the Deceived)

3 Heroes, 50 Cards
Cards up to The Crossings of Poros

Sideboard

Ally (21)
2x Dunedain Pathfinder (Race Across Harad)
1x Grimbold (The Flame of the West)
3x Honour Guard (The Wastes of Eriador)
3x Knights of the Swan (The Steward’s Fear)
1x Lindir (The Battle of Carn Dûm)
1x Riddermark Knight (The Dungeons of Cirith Gurat)
2x Saruman (The Voice of Isengard)
3x Silvan Refugee (The Drúadan Forest)
2x Steward of Orthanc (Race Across Harad)
3x Westfold Outrider (The Voice of Isengard)

Attachment (2)
1x Captain of Gondor (The Antlered Crown)
1x Windfola (A Storm on Cobas Haven)

Event (27)
3x Backtrack (Race Across Harad)
3x Dwarven Tomb (Core Set)
3x Elrond’s Counsel (The Watcher in the Water)
2x Fortune or Fate (Core Set)
1x Justice Shall Be Done (A Storm on Cobas Haven)
3x Keen as Lances (Escape from Mount Gram)
3x Power of Orthanc (The Voice of Isengard)
3x Sterner than Steel (The Flame of the West)
3x The Wizards’s Voice (The Voice of Isengard)
3x Wait no Longer (The Mûmakil)

Player Side Quest (3)
1x Double Back (Escape from Mount Gram)
1x Gather Information (The Lost Realm)
1x Keep Watch (Beneath the Sands)

Decklist built and published on RingsDB.

Dunedain Hunter

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

A great way to kick start the Dunedain engagement bonuses.

Background

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

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

Card Theme

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

Card Synergies and Interactions

Engagement Bonus Dunedain

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

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

Mablung Hero

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

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

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

Traps

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

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

Attack Cancellation

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

Quest Specific

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

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

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

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

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

Ring Rating

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

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

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

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

External Links

Sample Decks

Legolas Shoots Locations by kattattack22

Mono Tactics deck for Heirs of Numenor and Against the Shadow cycle. I tweaked the deck as I played through the cycle and through the various iterations it beat every quest. It definitely settled into a final form by Encounter at Amon Din.

Legolas Shoots Locations aka Mono Tactics v4

Main Deck

Hero (3)
Beregond (Heirs of Númenor)
Éowyn (The Flame of the West)
Legolas (Core Set)

Ally (24)
2x Beechbone (The Battle of Carn Dûm)
2x Bofur (Over Hill and Under Hill)
3x Defender of Rammas (Heirs of Númenor)
3x Derndingle Warrior (Escape from Mount Gram)
3x Dúnedain Hunter (The Lost Realm)
3x Eagles of the Misty Mountains (Return to Mirkwood)
2x Gandalf (Core Set)
3x Honour Guard (The Wastes of Eriador)
3x Knights of the Swan (The Steward’s Fear)

Attachment (17)
2x Arod (The Treason of Saruman)
3x Dagger of Westernesse (The Black Riders)
3x Favor of the Valar (The Battle of Carn Dûm)
3x Gondorian Shield (The Steward’s Fear)
3x Rivendell Blade (Road to Rivendell)
3x Secret Vigil (The Lost Realm)

Event (9)
3x Feint (Core Set)
3x Foe-hammer (Over Hill and Under Hill)
3x Hands Upon the Bow (Shadow and Flame)

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

Sideboard

Hero (1)
Aragorn (The Lost Realm)

Ally (10)
1x Gandalf (Core Set)
3x Grimbold (The Flame of the West)
3x Legolas (The Treason of Saruman)
3x Vassal of the Windlord (The Dead Marshes)

Attachment (5)
3x Dwarven Axe (Core Set)
2x Horn of Gondor (Core Set)

Event (9)
3x Sterner than Steel (The Flame of the West)
3x The Eagles Are Coming! (The Hunt for Gollum)
3x Thicket of Spears (Core Set)

Decklist built and published on RingsDB.

Halfling Determination

  • Card Talk Season 5 Episode 41
    • Video episode
    • Audio episode
  • Cycle
    • Lord of the Rings Saga
  • Set
    • The Black Riders
  • Player Card Categories 
    • Willpower Bonus
    • Attack Bonus
    • Defense Bonus

Background

There are many instances we see the determination of the hobbits in the books culminating in Frodo carrying the Ring all the way to the fire of Mount Doom. The flavor text pins this to shortly after Frodo, Sam, and Pippin meet Gildor and his band of elven pilgrims. Sam recounts to Frodo how Gildor pressed him to stay with Frodo, and now afterwards the nature of the journey has changed for him. It is no longer about having an adventure and seeing unusual creatures. He knows now it will be a dark journey but he feels he has a purpose in it that he must fulfil.

Card Theme

Boosting all of a Hobbits basic stats is a nicely tied to the theme of this card. It is their determination that helps them find whatever they need within themselves to carry on the quest. Whether it is preserving through strange and dangerous lands, or taking up their swords to fight orcs, trolls, and giant spiders. More willpower, attack, and defense can help players realize that in the game.

Card Synergies and Interactions

Action Advantage

Halfling Determination’s boost last until the end of phase. The more times you can make use of it, the better. Hobbits fortunately have their own readying card that is cheap and easy to play with Fast Hitch. It can also target a character much like Halfling Determination. This will be very important later when discussing Halfling Determination’s interaction with a special Hobbit character card. Then of course there are the other readying staples like Unexpected Courage, Rohan Warhorse, Armored Destrier, Cram, Lembas, and Miruvor among many others. For maximum effect, you will want to play it with Hour of Wrath or Path of Need. These cards because heroes will not exhaust to quest, attack, or defend means the boosted hero can use its enhanced stats against every enemy.

Rosie Cotton

Rosie Cotton like Halfling Determination itself is a powerful boosting card for Hobbits. They work well together because Halfling Determination boosts her willpower and then she can use the resulting 4 willpower to add 4 to a Hobbit hero’s stats. A Fast Hitch on her and the willpower bonus can be doubled for questing by using her ability and questing with her. She can also become a hero with Messenger of the King and Sword-thain. This allows her to target herself with her ability and double Halfling’s Determination for combat by adding her 4 willpower to her boosted attack or defense. This turns her in a pretty strong attacker or defender with 6 in either relevant stat.

Quest Specific

The stat boosts are going to be good in almost every quest since they help with both questing and combat. A couple special cases worth mentioning are in the LOTR Saga quests. Both are special tests called hide and fortitude tests. Hide tests are used in A Shadow of the Past and fortitude tests are in Mount Doom. Both have very similar mechanics where the players commit characters (heroes only for fortitude) and use their total willpower for the test. Then encounter cards are discarded to determine the value the players need to beat. In hide tests, threat is totaled up and fortitude it is Sauron eye icons. There is a special action window after encounter cards are discarded before resolving the test. If the players are short on willpower, Halfling Determination can help push them over the edge.

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 Halfling Determination at 7 rings. It is a pretty good boost with +2 to all of the basic stats. This makes it pretty flexible, but still only a one time boost. It going to be a bit niche considering it is limited to hobbits. I find it often just doesn’t make the cut even in Hobbit decks. Largely because the best hobbit cards are in Spirit and Lore. Hobbits additionally are low on defense and Feint is generally a better 1 cost Tactics event to include over this card. It also doesn’t help that this is the hobbit version of Durin’s Song except that it lasts only until the end of the phase.

  • Dave – 4.5
  • Grant – 2
  • Ted – TBR
  • Matt – 7
  • Average – 4.5

External Links

Sample Decks

The Kids Gather ’round the Christmas Tree by Dave Walsh

Card Talk’s Christmas themed deck focused on utilizing hero Treebeard.

Main Deck

Hero (3)
Bilbo Baggins (Mount Gundabad)
Frodo Baggins (A Shadow in the East)
Treebeard (The Treason of Saruman)

Ally (11)
1x Elrond (The Road Darkens)
3x Gandalf (Core Set)
1x Gildor Inglorion (The Hills of Emyn Muil)
3x Ioreth (A Storm on Cobas Haven)
3x Rosie Cotton (The Mountain of Fire)

Attachment (26)
3x Cram (Over Hill and Under Hill)
3x Ent Draught (The Treason of Saruman)
3x Fast Hitch (The Dead Marshes)
2x Necklace of Girion (The Wilds of Rhovanion)
3x Protector of Lórien (Core Set)
3x Self Preservation (Core Set)
2x Spear of the Citadel (Heirs of Númenor)
3x Steward of Gondor (Core Set)
2x Sting (Mount Gundabad)
2x The Arkenstone (The Withered Heath)

Event (17)
3x Daeron’s Runes (Foundations of Stone)
3x Drinking Song (Mount Gundabad)
3x Halfling Determination (The Black Riders)
3x Sneak Attack (Core Set)
3x Taste it Again! (The Land of Shadow)
2x The King’s Return (The Fate of Wilderland)

Player Side Quest (1)
1x Gather Information (The Lost Realm)

3 Heroes, 55 Cards
Cards up to A Shadow in the East

Sideboard

Event (3)
3x Feint (Core Set)

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

Honour Guard

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

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

Background

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

Card Theme

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

Card Synergies and Interactions

Beorn

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

Ally Readying

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

Quest Specific

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

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

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

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

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

Ring Rating

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

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

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

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

External Links

Sample Decks

Legolas Shoots Locations aka Mono Tactics v4

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

Main Deck

Hero (3)
Beregond (Heirs of Númenor)
Éowyn (The Flame of the West)
Legolas (Core Set)

Ally (24)
2x Beechbone (The Battle of Carn Dûm)
2x Bofur (Over Hill and Under Hill)
3x Defender of Rammas (Heirs of Númenor)
3x Derndingle Warrior (Escape from Mount Gram)
3x Dúnedain Hunter (The Lost Realm)
3x Eagles of the Misty Mountains (Return to Mirkwood)
2x Gandalf (Core Set)
3x Honour Guard (The Wastes of Eriador)
3x Knights of the Swan (The Steward’s Fear)

Attachment (17)
2x Arod (The Treason of Saruman)
3x Dagger of Westernesse (The Black Riders)
3x Favor of the Valar (The Battle of Carn Dûm)
3x Gondorian Shield (The Steward’s Fear)
3x Rivendell Blade (Road to Rivendell)
3x Secret Vigil (The Lost Realm)

Event (9)
3x Feint (Core Set)
3x Foe-hammer (Over Hill and Under Hill)
3x Hands Upon the Bow (Shadow and Flame)

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

Sideboard

Hero (1)
Aragorn (The Lost Realm)

Ally (10)
1x Gandalf (Core Set)
3x Grimbold (The Flame of the West)
3x Legolas (The Treason of Saruman)
3x Vassal of the Windlord (The Dead Marshes)

Attachment (5)
3x Dwarven Axe (Core Set)
2x Horn of Gondor (Core Set)

Event (9)
3x Sterner than Steel (The Flame of the West)
3x The Eagles Are Coming! (The Hunt for Gollum)
3x Thicket of Spears (Core Set)

Decklist built and published on RingsDB.

Power grimbeorn the old nightmare by Grant

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

Main Deck

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sideboard

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

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

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

Decklist built and published on RingsDB.

Gwaihir (Hero)

  • Player Card Categories 
    • Enters Play
    • Leaves Play

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

Background

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

Card Theme

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

Card Synergies and Interactions

Eagle Allies

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

Put Ally into Play

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

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

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

Unrestricted Attachments

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

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

Support of the Eagles

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

Ring Rating

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

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

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

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

External Links

Sample Decks

Slippery… Eagles? by Dave Walsh

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

Main Deck

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

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

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

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

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

Sideboard

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

Decklist built and published on RingsDB.

Rohan and Eagles Race Wainriders by Matt Kell

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

Main Deck

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sideboard

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

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

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

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

Deck built on RingsDB.

Gwaihir Gets The Bling by bobbymcbobface

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

Main Deck

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

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

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

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

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

Sideboard

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

Decklist built and published on RingsDB.

Horseback Archer

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

Background / Lore

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

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

—The Two Towers

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

Card Theme

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

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

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

Card Synergies and Interactions

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

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

Spear of the Mark

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

War Axe

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

Raiment of War

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

Hands Upon the Bow

No Ranged character is complete without it!

Other Obscene Combos

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

Quest Specific

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

Ring Rating

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

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

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

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