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- Messenger of the King
The best willpower ally in Tactics.
Peregrine “Pippin” Took most people know as the hobbit that sang a sad song while Denethor made a disgusting mess of a tomato. He also is Merry’s cousin, a relative of Bilbo and Frodo, and good friend of Frodo and Merry. So much so that he aided in Frodo’s plan to cover his leaving the Shire. He helped Frodo pack for his apparent move from Hobbiton to Buckland. Then accompanying Frodo on his journey to Rivendell.
At Rivendell he would join the Fellowship of the Ring. Notably he caused the commotion that lead to the Fellowship being attacked by Orcs and a Troll. This ultimately led to Gandalf’s demise by Durin’s Bane. He would also inadvertently lead to Boromir’s end. This time due to being ambushed by Orcs as Boromir attempted to defend him and Merry.
It is after being captured by the Uruk-hai that he shows his quality. He keeps his wits to leave a clue for the Three Hunters and engineer his escape with Merry. Then he and Merry manage to get the Ents to attack Isengard and stop Saruman.Pippin’s curiosity about the Palantir diverts Sauron’s attention to Gondor and Rohan as Sauron thinks Pippin has the Ring at Isengard. He rides with Gandalf to Gondor and upon arrival enters Denethor’s service in honor of Boromir’s sacrifice. This position allows him to know of Denethor’s plan to burn Faramir and himself to death and get help to rescue Faramir from the funeral pyre. Pippin also participates in the final battle at the Black Gate killing a troll that subsequently falls on him and removes him from the battle. After returning home to the Shire, Pippin would help oust Sharkey/Saruman by raising the Shire against Sharkey and his men.
Pippin having 2 willpower is reasonable considering he volunteered to help Frodo leave the Shire. Then despite the dangers they encountered there, again volunteered for the dangerous mission to Mordor to destroy the Ring. While he wasn’t a fighter early in the story, Pippin learned how to fight as demonstrated by his taking down a Troll at the Battle of Morannon. That his attack is predicated on attacking an enemy with higher threat is aligned with other hobbit cards to represent their sneakiness and affinity for stealth or being underestimated.
Card Synergies and Interactions
There are 3 in sphere cards that can work very well with ally Pippin.
Many hobbit decks tend to be tri-sphere as they have several good cards across all 4 spheres. Tom Cotton‘s resource smoothing ability makes it easier to play Pippin and gives him 2 attack the turn he enters play. The second ability synergizes very well with Raise the Shire. Raise the Shire is great to help find Pippin. In the best case scenario, the players engages a higher engagement cost enemy, finds Pippin to put him into play, attacks for 4, and then returns him to hand to play Pippin again to quest for 2 and attack again for 4. Halfling Determination can make Pippin have top tier hero level willpower or attack for a phase.
Odo Proudfoot is also useful to help find Pippin. Fast Hitch, however, is a bit of a nonbo. Pippin already readies himself when engaging an enemy with higher threat cost. Secondly, his attack is conditional and may not always have attack to make good use of the ready. Lastly, if playing a Hobbit focused deck, a player likely has a better target for this that I’ll discuss in the Messenger of the King and Sword-thain section.
Engagement Control and Threat Reduction
The game has 2 ways to help ensure Pippin’s abilities can trigger, increase the enemies’ engagement cost and reduce a player’s threat. There are only a couple cards that can increase an enemy’s engagement cost, Take No Notice and Mablung ally. Both only do so by 5 and for a single phase. This limits their usefulness significantly because 5 will not push the enemies with very low engagement of 10 – 20 above the threat of most decks. This cross-section of enemies are the ones this effect would be the most useful against and needed, but they don’t increase it enough. The only repeatable engagement cost increase is from Lore Pippin‘s ability and can’t be used with his ally version.
Threat reduction is better considering there are several more cards for it. Unfortunately, in sphere there is only Secret Vigil that at best will reduce each players threat by 4. Fortunately, hobbit focused decks have The Shirefolk that can reduce threat by 4 for free and it is neutral. Elevenses is another hobbit specific option can significantly reduce threat mid to late game when lots of hobbit allies are out. Galadriel, Fastred, and Spirit Beregond all provide repeatable threat reduction. Galadriel and Beregond won’t help lower threat below more enemies’ engagement costs, but they’ll maintain threat turn after turn that a lower threat deck can still ambush the same enemies from beginning to the end of the game.
Pippin is a thematic fit with this card. He like any other unique character gains great state buffs. This means once flipped Pippin could quest for 3 and attack for 3 when engaging an enemy with higher engagement cost than the player’s threat. On top of that, many unique allies are on the more expensive side. Pippin at only 2 Tactics resources can get into play quick and help flip the contract.
Messenger of the King and Sword-thain
As a Messengar of the King Hero, Pippin is pure value. He becomes a 4 threat hero that often times will have 6 threat of states. Especially as he will help keep the total low. It also opens up giving him state boosting attachments like Celebrian’s Stone or Dagger of Westernesse to make him more effective either questing or attacking. Thorongil is also a great option to add his Lore version to him. Then engagement costs are always at least 1 higher for better chance of triggering his abilities and possibly drawing a card as well. On top of this, Rosie can help boost his stats further even in both phases when a Fast Hitch is attached to her. Sword-thain also opens this possibilities, but it comes with the downside that Ted always points out in the podcast. That is the player has to draw it first. Still, it is great that the card referring to Pippin swearing his service to Denethor can be used on him and is useful.
Card Talk uses the highly scientific yet arbitrary scale of 1 ring for the card to rule them all to 10 to be cast back into the fiery chasm from whence it came.
I’m very close to 1 on ally Pippin because I know how hard it is to get willpower in Tactics. I’m rating him at 2 rings. Any Tactics ally with 2 willpower is almost an auto-include in mono-Tactics. That he is 2 cost for 2 willpower putting it on par with the best questing allies usually concentrated in Spirit is fantastic. On top of that he has great abilities with the conditional readying and attack that fits right in with other hobbit cards. He is great for almost any deck running Tactics or hobbits.
I didn’t rate him a 1 ring because outside hobbits or other low threat decks he is often just a 2 cost quester. Two cost questing allies are solid cards, but they’re not a card like A Test of Will that will save the players from certain defeat, or Core Set Gandalf that are so powerful that they can turn the tide of the entire game. I also think that Forth, the Three Hunters lowered the value of willpower allies in Tactics. Tactics has more restricted attachments than the other spheres making it easy to flip the contract and get the willpower boost. Three Hunters decks can quest really well when combined with some other willpower boosting attachments and the combat power of the restricted attachments to destroy enemies reliably.
Pippin ally is still an incredibly strong fair costed card with great abilities. He’s a pretty good target for Messenger of the King and works well with the Fellowship contract. He can synergize well with other hobbit cards as both his abilities that want to engage and attack enemies with higher engagement cost. He helps Tactics with one of their major deficiencies since the Core Set. There is a lot to like about this card and has become a staple of my decks with Tactics that aren’t using Forth, the Three Hunters.
- Dave – 5
- Grant – TBR
- Ted – 4
- Matt – 2
- Average – 3.67
- Tolkien Gateway
- Men of the West – Pippin Took, Thain of the Shire – Epic Character History
- Hall of Beorn
The Doom of Men by Dave Walsh
This is Dave’s version of a “true hobbit deck.” One where most of the allies are hobbits.
Tom Cotton for the Win!
2x Bill the Pony (The Black Riders)
3x Bywater Shirriff (The Fate of Wilderland)
3x Cautious Halfling (Wrath and Ruin)
1x Farmer Maggot (The Black Riders)
3x Gaffer Gamgee (Mount Gundabad)
3x Gandalf (Core Set)
2x Pippin (A Shadow in the East)
3x Rosie Cotton (The Mountain of Fire)
3x Warden of Healing (The Long Dark)
2x Dagger of Westernesse (The Black Riders)
3x Fast Hitch (The Dead Marshes)
3x Forest Snare (Core Set)
3x Friend of Friends (The Mountain of Fire)
2x Hobbit Cloak (The Black Riders)
1x Protector of Lórien (Core Set)
1x Ring Mail (The Long Dark)
1x Song of Hope (The Black Serpent)
2x Steward of Gondor (Core Set)
3 Heroes, 53 Cards
Cards up to Wrath and Ruin
Decklist built and published on RingsDB.
The Doom of Men by Matt Kell aka kattattack22
A Bond of Friendship “good stuff” deck for a couple of the Vengeance of Mordor quests.
The Doom of Men
1x Bond of Friendship (The Fortress of Nurn)
1x Angbor the Fearless (The City of Ulfast)
1x Arwen Undómiel (The Watcher in the Water)
1x Beorn (Core Set)
2x Envoy of Pelargir (Heirs of Númenor)
1x Firyal (The Mûmakil)
2x Galadriel’s Handmaiden (Celebrimbor’s Secret)
2x Gandalf (Core Set)
1x Glorfindel (Flight of the Stormcaller)
1x Grimbold (The Flame of the West)
2x Honour Guard (The Wastes of Eriador)
2x Ioreth (A Storm on Cobas Haven)
1x Legolas (The Treason of Saruman)
1x Meneldor (Roam Across Rhovanion)
1x Pippin (A Shadow in the East)
1x Quickbeam (The Treason of Saruman)
1x Rhovanion Outrider (Temple of the Deceived)
1x Treebeard (The Antlered Crown)
1x Veteran of Osgiliath (Escape from Mount Gram)
2x Warden of Healing (The Long Dark)
2x Armored Destrier (Temple of the Deceived)
1x Blood of Númenor (Heirs of Númenor)
1x Favor of the Valar (The Battle of Carn Dûm)
2x Gondorian Shield (The Steward’s Fear)
2x Steward of Gondor (Core Set)
1x The Red Arrow (Beneath the Sands)
2x Unexpected Courage (Core Set)
2x A Good Harvest (The Steward’s Fear)
2x Daeron’s Runes (Foundations of Stone)
2x Deep Knowledge (The Voice of Isengard)
2x Legacy of Númenor (The Voice of Isengard)
2x The Galadhrim’s Greeting (Core Set)
2x The Seeing-stone (The Voice of Isengard)
2x Tighten Our Belts (The Nîn-in-Eilph)
4 Heroes, 50 Cards
Cards up to ALeP – Children of Eorl
1x Gondorian Fire (Assault on Osgiliath)
2x Hauberk of Mail (The Wilds of Rhovanion)
1x Inner Strength (Wrath and Ruin)
1x Raven-winged Helm (The Wastes of Eriador)
2x Roheryn (The Flame of the West)
2x Sword that was Broken (The Watcher in the Water)
2x Sword-thain (The Dread Realm)
1x The One Ring (A Shadow in the East)
1x Thorongil (The Fortress of Nurn)
2x A Test of Will (Core Set)
2x Drinking Song (Mount Gundabad)
2x Horns! Horns! Horns! (Challenge of the Wainriders)
1x Legacy of Númenor (The Voice of Isengard)
2x Need Drives Them (The City of Ulfast)
2x Sneak Attack (Core Set)
Deck built on RingsDB.