Second Breakfast – Community Review

by Ziggi W

  • Player Card Categories 
    • Recursion
    • Discard Pile

Background

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

Card Theme

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

Card Synergies and Interactions

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

Ring Rating

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

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

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

Smoke and Think

  • Player Card Categories 
    • Cost Reduction

Background

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

Card Theme

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

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

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

Card Synergies and Interactions

Pipes

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

High Cost allies

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

Ring Rating

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

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

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

Sample Decks

Smokin’ Sidequest Gandalf! by Matt Kell (kattattack22)

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

Main Deck

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sideboard

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

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

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

Decklist built and published on RingsDB.

Master Baggins by TheChad

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

Main Deck

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

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

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

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

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

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

Decklist built and published on RingsDB.

Spare Pipe

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

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

Background

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

Card Theme

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

Card Synergies and Interactions

Smoke and Think

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

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

Hobbit Pipe

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

Old Toby

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

Gloin

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

Dale

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

Ring Rating

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

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

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

Sample Decks

Deck Bond of Hobbitship by Dave Walsh

A Hobbit good stuff Bond of Friendship deck.

Main Deck

Hero (4)
Frodo Baggins (Conflict at the Carrock)
Merry (The Black Riders)
Pippin (The Black Riders)
Sam Gamgee (The Black Riders)

Contract (0)
1x Bond of Friendship (The Fortress of Nurn)

Ally (20)
2x Bilbo Baggins (The Road Darkens)
2x Bill the Pony (The Black Riders)
2x Boromir (The Road Darkens)
2x Farmer Maggot (The Black Riders)
2x Gaffer Gamgee (Mount Gundabad)
2x Gandalf (Core Set)
2x Quickbeam (The Treason of Saruman)
2x Rosie Cotton (The Mountain of Fire)
2x Treebeard (The Antlered Crown)
2x Warden of Healing (The Long Dark)

Attachment (18)
2x Boots from Erebor (Khazad-dûm)
2x Dagger of Westernesse (The Black Riders)
2x Fast Hitch (The Dead Marshes)
2x Hobbit Cloak (The Black Riders)
2x Red Book of Westmarch (The Land of Sorrow)
2x Ring Mail (The Long Dark)
2x Spare Pipe (The Land of Sorrow)
2x The Arkenstone (The Withered Heath)
2x Unexpected Courage (Core Set)

Event (12)
2x A Test of Will (Core Set)
2x Hasty Stroke (Core Set)
2x Peace, and Thought (Shadow and Flame)
2x Raise the Shire (The Mountain of Fire)
2x Sneak Attack (Core Set)
2x The Shirefolk (Mount Gundabad)

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

Decklist built and published on RingsDB.

Love of the Halfling’s Leaf by MrSpaceBear

Selection from the Ringsdb deck description:

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

Main Deck

Hero (3)
(MotK) Bilbo Baggins (Messenger of the King Allies)
Dáin Ironfoot (The Ghost of Framsburg)
Gandalf (The Road Darkens)

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

Ally (19)
1x Arwen Undómiel (The Watcher in the Water)
3x Ered Luin Miner (Temple of the Deceived)
1x Faramir (Core Set)
1x Firyal (The Mûmakil)
1x Gimli (The Treason of Saruman)
1x Glorfindel (Flight of the Stormcaller)
1x Legolas (The Treason of Saruman)
2x Northern Tracker (Core Set)
3x Rhovanion Outrider (Temple of the Deceived)
1x Súlien (The City of Corsairs)
1x Thalion (Fire in the Night)
3x Zigil Miner (Khazad-dûm)

Attachment (18)
1x Ancestral Armor (Roam Across Rhovanion)
1x Armor of Erebor (Mount Gundabad)
3x Dwarf Pipe (The Mûmakil)
1x Expert Treasure-hunter (On the Doorstep)
1x Gandalf’s Staff (The Road Darkens)
1x Hobbit Pipe (The Black Riders)
1x Inner Strength (Wrath and Ruin)
1x Shadowfax (The Treason of Saruman)
2x Silver Circlet (Wrath and Ruin)
2x Spare Pipe (The Land of Sorrow)
3x Unexpected Courage (Core Set)
1x Wizard Pipe (The Road Darkens)

Event (18)
3x A Test of Will (Core Set)
3x Hidden Cache (The Morgul Vale)
3x Old Toby (The Black Serpent)
3x Smoke and Think (The Land of Sorrow)
2x Smoke Rings (The Black Riders)
2x Well-Equipped (The Blood of Gondor)
2x Will of the West (Core Set)

Player Side Quest (1)
1x Double Back (Escape from Mount Gram)

3 Heroes, 56 Cards
Cards up to The Land of Sorrow

Sideboard

Ally (3)
1x Lórien Guide (Core Set)
1x Northern Tracker (Core Set)
1x Treebeard (The Antlered Crown)

Attachment (1)
1x The One Ring (A Shadow in the East)

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

Decklist built and published on RingsDB.

Sword-thain

Before there was Messenger of the King, there was Sword-thain.

Background

The term sword-thain is used only a few times in the books. We first see it used when Theoden offers to have Merry ride with him and act as his squire.

You shall be my esquire, if you will. Is there gear of war in this place, Éomer, that my sword-thain could use?

Book 5, Chapter 2: Passing of the Grey Company

It subsequently only comes up again when Theoden dismisses Merry as his pony will not be able to keep up on the ride to Minas Tirith. In the context used, it seems to be a formal title for a squire. The historical thane or thegn, however, was a lordly title similar to a knight. The term largely used prior to William the Conqueror’s conquest of England. A period of history that Tolkien studied and took inspiration from.

Card Theme

The card refers to Merry joining Theoden’s service, but in the previous chapter Pippin swears his sword to Denethor. Prior to this, the readers had not seen them really demonstrate martial prowess. If anything they had fallen into trouble in The Old Forest, in the barrows, and captured by orcs. Granted, they managed to convince the Ents to march on Isengard, but still that them being persuasive. It is once they join the armies of Gondor and Rohan and participate in the Battle ofPelannor Fields and rescue Faramir from the pyre that they become much more heroes in their own right. The change is apparent when they return to the Shire. They can easily push past gate guards, shirriffs, and turn back waylaying ruffians through shows of confidence. The Sword-thain card then represents the turning point where they “level up” much as the card promotes an ally into a full blown hero.

Card Synergies and Interactions

Resource or Attachment Acceleration

Now Sword-thain at 4 cost is fairly expensive. Even if the effect of gaining another hero is well worth it. You’re not going to play it first turn without some resource acceleration. Leadership Denethor hero, Steward of Gondor, and Legacy of Numenor are a couple options for getting it out first turn, but they require Leadership.

Bartering - Lore Event - 0 cost - Planning Action: Choose a ready player attachment on a character you control. Return that attachment to its owner's hand to reduce the cost of the next attachment played this phase by X, where X is the chosen attachment's cost.

First, I’d like to thank Marcelf over at Ringsdb for putting me onto this combo with his Barliman and Robin deck. Bartering the 0 cost Lore event offers a couple interesting options for putting it into play on the cheap. If you are running all Lore heroes or couple heroes of one sphere with a Lore hero, you can play the record attachments for 1 or 2 cost. Use Bartering to return it to your hand then play Sword-thain for free since the discount is by the printed cost. Lore offers some very low cost unique allies like Ioreth and Henamarth Riversong that can be played first turn with it. Then you can start gaining an additional resources.

Another option is to utilize Tactics Beregond’s discount on Weapon and Armor attachments. Basically any 2+ cost weapon or armor on him will let Bartering discount Sword-thain. Citadel Plate, Spear of the Citadel, Raiment of War, and Raven Winged Helm are good options to transfer the discount.

There are a couple other options for getting Sword-thain into play without paying the full 4 cost, but they are limited to dwarves.

Well-Equipped can put it into play for free onto a unique Dwarf. There’s certainly no shortage of targets with 9 of the 13 dwarves in Thorin’s Company represented by allies. Bofur even has 2 different versions. Outside The Hobbit Saga expansions, Gimli ally, Azain Silverbeard, and even the infamous Brok Ironfist.

Ring of Thror requires a Dwarf hero to use. Unlike Well-Equipped, the attachment that is discarded can go on any non-neutral unique ally.

Sneak Attack

Many unique allies are higher cost. Another way to get a Sword-thain hero is to Sneak Attack one into play. Then attach Sword-thain to it before the end of the phase. It won’t return to your hand anymore because it is no longer an ally. You can use this with other temporarily put an ally effects into play, such as, Horns! Horns! Horns! and Gwaihir’s Debt. Although with the latter you will be limited to Gwaihir and Landroval since Sword-thain can only be used on non-neutral unique allies.

Effects that Scale with the Number of Heroes

There are a number of cards that the effect is based on the number of heroes. Usually they require they belong to a particular sphere or have a named trait. Chief among these is Caldara.

Caldara can return an ally from the discard for each Spirit hero the player controls. A Sword-thain hero counts for this effect allowing you to return 3 allies with Sword-thain. You can even get up to 4 if Spirit Prince Imrahil is in play since he instantly becomes a hero when Caldara is discarded.

Another mono-Spirit favorite is Pelargir Shipwright. It’s willpower is equal to the number of Spirit heroes you control. This means with a Sword-thain Spirit hero, it has 4 willpower rivaling that of Eowyn and Cirdan.

I mentioned earlier the record attachments can be played for 1 or 2 cost. This is because Tome of Atanatar, Scroll of Isildur, Map of Earnil, and Book of Eldacar cost 1 less for each hero of the matching sphere. It’s possible to make these cost 0 once Sword-thain hits play.

Mithrandir’s Advice can draw a card for each Lore hero. This card in a mono-Lore deck with Sword-thain can draw nearly as many cards as Peace and Thought without having to exhaust 2 heroes. Then a free Scroll of Isildur can recur it for you.

Tactics Merry and Frodo’s Intuition similar to the others do more for each hero you have. The difference being that their effects are based on the number of Hobbit heroes rather than the sphere. Frodo’s Intuition overlaps with another kind of scaling effect by giving each hero +1 willpower. These card don’t explicitly scale like those mentioned. Instead these get better the more heroes you have because they affect each one. Tighten Our Belts, Legacy of Numenor, and We Are Not Idle can all garner up to 4 resources with a Sword-thain hero. Hour of Wrath when in Valour (threat is 40 or higher) will let all heroes attack and defend without exhausting. Captains of the West will boost all Noble heroes’ willpower and have them quest without exhausting. While Captains of the West is trait restricted, there are many unique Noble allies that make great Sword-thain heroes.

Unique Allies

While it is a requirement of the card, there are definitely some better targets than others. Generally, the unique allies with strong combat stats or very useful abilities are top targets. Jubayr is a good example of both. His strong defense and ability to discard a shadow makes a solid defending ally. Once he is a hero additional attachments open up like Dunedain Warning and Armored Destrier that can turn into a defender for the entire table. Tactics Nori is one where his combat stats aren’t stellar and making him a hero can help make his ability more reliable. Then he can have great attack boosting attachments like Dagger of Westernesse or War Axe. He could even have a Rohan Warhorse to possibly destroy 2 enemies and get 2 cards from the discard on the bottom of the deck.

Speaking of readying, there are more options for readying heroes than allies. This is great for allies with great abilities that trigger by exhausting like Leadership Faramir and Rosie. Faramir could add 2 or more willpower to a player’s questing characters. Rosie has always had potential to use her ability multiple times a round thanks to Fast Hitch, but opens up to running her without Lore. Additionally, willpower boosting attachments like Celebrian’s Stone and Fireside Song can make her ability even more powerful.

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 Sword-thain at 3 rings. The 4 cost can be a big ask especially without some resource acceleration. There are a couple ways, however, to play it on the cheap. When built around it, you can get some really great mileage out that extra hero. It can really improve the effectiveness of unique allies with strong abilities like Rosie and Leadership Faramir. It even opens up some unique ally turned hero voltron builds. Especially as it doesn’t have the readying limit that Messenger of the King does. There is also a fun factor to this card. If your favorite character for some reason isn’t a hero but an ally. Then you can make them one. There are fun builds out there that aim to get 5 – 7 heroes or at least near hero allies. These usually have 3 normal heroes, a Sword-thain hero, Thalion, Treebeard, Over Hill and Under Hill Gandalf, and/or Radagast. Sword-thain won’t fit into every deck, and it is on the expensive side. Despite those drawbacks, it offers a lot of deck building possibilities.

  • Dave – 6
  • Grant – 4
  • Ted – 7
  • Matt – 3
  • Average – 5

Sample Decks

Barliman and Robin by Marcelf

Sword-thain is a major piece of resource acceleration in this deck. Scroll of Isildur is used for Bartering Sword-thain or Resourcefuls into play. The Scrolls are important to play and use to recur Risk Some Light over and over again. Getting to be free also helps accelerate resources.

Barliman and Robin

Main Deck

Hero (3)
Bilbo Baggins (The Hunt for Gollum)
Folco Boffin (The Dungeons of Cirith Gurat)
Pippin (The Black Riders)

Ally (19)
1x Barliman Butterbur (The Black Riders)
3x Erebor Hammersmith (Core Set)
1x Firyal (The Mûmakil)
1x Gaffer Gamgee (Mount Gundabad)
1x Gandalf (Over Hill and Under Hill)
1x Ghân-buri-Ghân (The Flame of the West)
1x Gildor Inglorion (The Hills of Emyn Muil)
1x Henamarth Riversong (Core Set)
3x Ithilien Lookout (The Dunland Trap)
1x Mablung (The Land of Shadow)
2x Mirkwood Explorer (The Thing in the Depths)
1x Quickbeam (The Treason of Saruman)
1x Robin Smallburrow (The Drowned Ruins)
1x Warden of Healing (The Long Dark)

Attachment (12)
1x Fast Hitch (The Dead Marshes)
3x Love of Tales (The Long Dark)
3x Resourceful (The Watcher in the Water)
3x Scroll of Isildur (The Morgul Vale)
2x Sword-thain (The Dread Realm)

Event (19)
2x Bartering (The Wilds of Rhovanion)
3x Deep Knowledge (The Voice of Isengard)
3x Drinking Song (Mount Gundabad)
3x Mithrandir’s Advice (The Steward’s Fear)
2x Peace, and Thought (Shadow and Flame)
3x Risk Some Light (Shadow and Flame)
3x The Shirefolk (Mount Gundabad)

3 Heroes, 50 Cards
Cards up to Mount Gundabad

Decklist built and published on RingsDB.

Aggro Caldara v4 by Beorn

Post-errata Caldara deck utilizing Noldor discard to fill the discard pile with targets for Caldara’s ability.

Main Deck

Hero (3)
Arwen Undómiel (The Dread Realm)
Caldara (The Blood of Gondor)
Círdan the Shipwright (The Grey Havens)

Ally (30)
1x Elfhelm (The Dead Marshes)
3x Emery (The Blood of Gondor)
1x Escort from Edoras (A Journey to Rhosgobel)
1x Gamling (The Land of Shadow)
2x Glorfindel (Flight of the Stormcaller)
1x Háma (The Treason of Saruman)
3x Imladris Stargazer (Foundations of Stone)
3x Jubayr (The Mûmakil)
3x Northern Tracker (Core Set)
3x Pelargir Shipwright (Assault on Osgiliath)
3x Prince Imrahil (The Flame of the West)
1x Rhovanion Outrider (Temple of the Deceived)
1x Súlien (The City of Corsairs)
1x Westfold Horse-Breaker (The Hunt for Gollum)
3x Zigil Miner (Khazad-dûm)

Attachment (9)
2x Light of Valinor (Foundations of Stone)
3x Narya (The Grey Havens)
1x Steed of Imladris (Across the Ettenmoors)
3x Sword-thain (The Dread Realm)

Event (11)
3x A Test of Will (Core Set)
1x Dwarven Tomb (Core Set)
3x Elven-light (The Dread Realm)
2x Hidden Cache (The Morgul Vale)
2x Stand and Fight (Core Set)

3 Heroes, 50 Cards
Cards up to The Mûmakil

Decklist built and published on RingsDB.

Ring around the Rosie (saga) by TheChad

Chad of Cardboard of the Ring’s LOTR Saga deck that makes Rosie the Sword-thain hero. Then boosts her willpower with Celebrian’s Stone, Fireside Song, etc.

Main Deck

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

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

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

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

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

Sideboard

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

Decklist built and published on RingsDB.

Big Hero Six by Zeromage

This deck aims to have 6 heroes in play or at least 4 heroes and 2 hero-like allies in play (Gandalf and Treebeard).

Main Deck

Hero (3)
Beravor (Core Set)
Círdan the Shipwright (The Grey Havens)
Denethor (Flight of the Stormcaller)

Ally (24)
1x Arwen Undómiel (The Watcher in the Water)
3x Envoy of Pelargir (Heirs of Númenor)
3x Erebor Hammersmith (Core Set)
3x Errand-rider (Heirs of Númenor)
1x Faramir (Core Set)
3x Galadriel’s Handmaiden (Celebrimbor’s Secret)
3x Gandalf (Over Hill and Under Hill)
1x Glorfindel (Flight of the Stormcaller)
1x Henamarth Riversong (Core Set)
3x Treebeard (The Antlered Crown)
2x Warden of Healing (The Long Dark)

Attachment (13)
3x Ent Draught (The Treason of Saruman)
1x Gandalf’s Staff (The Road Darkens)
1x Light of Valinor (Foundations of Stone)
3x Narya (The Grey Havens)
1x Shadowfax (The Treason of Saruman)
3x Steward of Gondor (Core Set)
1x Unexpected Courage (Core Set)

Event (13)
3x Daeron’s Runes (Foundations of Stone)
3x Dwarven Tomb (Core Set)
3x Elrond’s Counsel (The Watcher in the Water)
2x Gaining Strength (The Steward’s Fear)
2x The Galadhrim’s Greeting (Core Set)

3 Heroes, 50 Cards
Cards up to Flight of the Stormcaller

Decklist built and published on RingsDB.

Secret Vigil – Community Review

by Jason Meyer

  • Card Talk Episode TBD
  • Cycle
    • Angmar Awakened
  • Set
    • The Lost Realm 

  • Player Card Categories 
    • Staging Area Threat Reduction
    • Threat Reduction

Background

I suppose since the quote comes from Aragorn from The Fellowship of the Ring, it’s meant to bring one back to this idea of Dunedain Rangers keeping a vigil on the many Free Peoples. That’s a reassuring thought, when thinking of the many dangers outside the more populated areas of Hobbiton and Bree.

Card Theme

Thematically, it’s spot-on for me because it’s a Secret Vigil, observing an enemy in the staging area (so it’s seen as less of a Threat), and then while it’s engaged, one has determined some of its weak spots, and upon killing it, the death of such a high threat enemy has emboldened the cast of characters to regain some hope in their endeavor, and are able to move forward with less of that sense of impending doom that comes with much of Middle-Earth adventuring (at least in this game).

Card Synergies and Interactions

Bond of Friendship & Grey Wanderer Contracts

I would have liked this card to work better at helping one stay in Secrecy, but I’ve found that (to kill) an enemy while in Secrecy, I tended to have Hobbits or a Spirit Glorfindel; and it just hasn’t quite worked. Instead, I’ve liked this, like in my Bond of Friendship decks, for when I needed an extra Tactics card. Also, I’ve liked having this in some Grey Wanderer decks with a single hero that has high attack power (Legolas, Gandalf) to help me stay at pretty low Threat for a few more rounds.

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.

For only 1 Tactics resource, I’ve been finding this card to be pretty useful. It’s an attachment that can be played on any enemy, so if the (-1) Threat would be helpful in the Staging area (and often questing with Tactics is difficult) that’s good. But it can be attached to even an Engaged enemy, so if there’s an Ungoliant Spawn, Mumak, Giant Centipede, or some other high Threat enemy that is about to be killed, the Threat reduction kicks in. I know Dave is primarily a solo player, but I play 2-handed; and since Secret Vigil reduces EACH player’s Threat by that enemy’s printed Threat. In Tactics, Threat reduction is very beneficial. Also, that it’s a 1 cost, it has made its way into Bond of Friendship decks I’ve made. That the player can choose where it goes, makes it stand out from the typical attachments that can be put on enemies, so there’s less of a chance of this being accidentally attached to some 1-Threat enemy.

  • Jason – 5
  • Dave – TBD
  • Grant – TBD
  • Ted – TBD
  • Matt – TBD

Sample Decks

20210806_Bond_Dwarf by Jason Meyer

Main Deck

Hero (4)
Bifur (Khazad-dûm)
Dáin Ironfoot (Return to Mirkwood)
Nori (Over Hill and Under Hill)
Thorin Stonehelm (Wrath and Ruin)

Contract (0)
1x Bond of Friendship (The Fortress of Nurn)

Ally (21)
1x Bofur (Over Hill and Under Hill)
1x Bombur (Road to Rivendell)
1x Dwalin (On the Doorstep)
2x Dwarven Sellsword (The Drowned Ruins)
2x Erebor Hammersmith (Core Set)
2x Erebor Toymaker (Mount Gundabad)
2x Ered Luin Miner (Temple of the Deceived)
1x Fili (Over Hill and Under Hill)
2x Gandalf (Core Set)
1x Glóin (On the Doorstep)
1x Kili (Over Hill and Under Hill)
2x Longbeard Map-Maker (Conflict at the Carrock)
1x Miner of the Iron Hills (Core Set)
2x Veteran Axehand (Core Set)

Attachment (16)
2x Boots from Erebor (Khazad-dûm)
2x Cram (Over Hill and Under Hill)
2x Dwarrowdelf Axe (Khazad-dûm)
2x Secret Vigil (The Lost Realm)
2x Song of Battle (The Dead Marshes)
2x Song of Wisdom (Conflict at the Carrock)
1x Unexpected Courage (Core Set)
1x Warrior Sword (The Ghost of Framsburg)
2x Woodmen’s Clearing (The Withered Heath)

Event (13)
2x A Test of Will (Core Set)
1x Ancestral Knowledge (Khazad-dûm)
1x Beorn’s Hospitality (Core Set)
2x Bulwark of the West (The Crossings of Poros)
1x Dwarven Tomb (Core Set)
2x Feint (Core Set)
2x Hasty Stroke (Core Set)
2x Sneak Attack (Core Set)

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

Stone of Elostirion

Guarded (location). Restricted.

Attach to a hero. Attached hero gets +2  [willpower].

You draw 1 additional card during the resource phase.

Stone of Elostirion is the latest of the player Guarded X attachments introduced in Ered Mithren cycle and only one of two released in Vengeance of Mordor. I think there is a strong case that it is the most playable of the Guarded X attachments with a lot of appeal to variety of players. The Guarded (location) mechanism provides Pippin players some opportunities to exploit location control combos with this card. Those combos provide means to basically negate the effects of adding another location. The automatic extra card per turn combined with a willpower boost is a powerful combination that a Boromir player can appreciate. While Bilbo players can enjoy the deep dive into Middle Earth stemming from the card’s background to theme.

Background

The Stone of Elostirion as indicated by the card art, is one of the palantiri. It was a rather unique one at that considering it was not linked to the others. Instead, it only looked West to Varda. It resided in one of three towers at the aptly named Tower Hills that was part of the former nation of Arnor. It was still there during the stated timeframe of the game between The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings as it left Middle Earth with the ringbearers. Gildor Ingolorian when he meet Frodo and company in Fellowship of the Ring, reportedly was returning from a visit to the stone with his company of elves. Although, this is not specifically mentioned within the text of their meeting.

Card Theme

The mechanics of this card fit right into the its background from the books. It being guarded by a location is perfect considering wandering companies of Elves would travel to the Tower Hills just to see it. Their hope to see Elbereth as Gildor and his company sing of is inspiring to them represented by the willpower boost of +2.

Palantir

The other thematic element to this card is the potential knowledge one can gain from through the different palantiri. Generally, knowledge in the game is represented by card draw. This is consistent with the other Palantir player cards (except for the Saga boon). The Palantir attachment allows players to exhaust it to possibly draw cards. The Seeing Stone is very targeted card draw for a card with Doomed. One noticeable difference between these two and Stone of Elostirion is the others come at the cost of direct threat gain. Stone of Elostirion could cause threat gain from questing unsuccessfully, but it doesn’t instantly raise threat for its card draw effect. This fits since it was not linked to the other palantiri . The Stone then didn’t carry the risk of Sauron spying or influencing people through the palantir in his possession.

Thematic Deckbuilding Ideas

  • Leadership or Lore Gildor Inglorion
    • He is the one that actually visited the Stone.
    • The Stone is in sphere with his ally version
    • Either version has location control options to help play Stone more easily (see Card Syngeries and Interactions section)
  • Frodo Baggins (Leadership hero especially)
    • Represents the Frodo leading his friends through the Shire evading the Black Riders
    • In sphere with Marnier’s Compass
  • Sam
  • Merry
  • Pippin
  • Wandering Exile
    • Many bands of elves traveled Eriador in the Third Age were called wandering companies.
    • Gildor calls his company of elves exiles in his meeting with Frodo.
  • Other non-unique Noldor allies
    • Gildor and his wandering companies of elves are identified by Frodo as high elves, but only Gildor is referenced by name.

Card Synergies and Interactions

Discard Location Effects

Guarded X cards come under a player’s control as soon as they’re “free of encounters” This means that players cards that discard the guarding location in play are generally the fastest and easiest way to get The Stone of Elostirion. Marnier’s Compass chief among them considering it only requires a leadership or scout character, it is repeatable, and can be done with the location in the staging area. Distant Stars, Short Cut, and Heirs of Eärendil all work as well, but the required character traits are not as broad. Distant Stars and Short Cut also require you can travel to the guarding location.

Direct Location Progress

Another way to accelerate getting Stone of Elostirion under your control is placing progress without having to quest. Cards like Asfaloth, Northern Tracker, Spirit Aragorn Hero, Mirkwood Explorer, Arod that can place progress on locations in the staging area are generally better. Many quests have locations that limit this method. There are others that place progress on the active location that still can help clear the guarding location faster, such as, Tactics Legolas Hero, Lórien Guide, and Steed of Imladris.

Automatic Card Draw

There are three heroes in the game that also have draw additional card(s) effects like the Stone, Lore Bilbo hero, Erestor hero, and Círdan the Shipwright. They will have the player draw 7 cards (and discard 1) each resource phase. Once the stone is out it can get up to 8 cards. This set up with the Perilous Voyage Contract a player could potentially draw the entire 100 card deck in 12-13 turns.

Quest Specific

Temple of the Deceived is the ideal scenario to play this card. All the locations are placed out as a map and there are none in the encounter deck. Once the Stone is played, the player fails to find any locations and gain control of it immediately.

Ring Ratings

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 Stone of Elostirion at 3 rings. It has 2 pretty powerful and widely useful effects on it. An additional card per turn means more options for what a player can do on their turn. The 2 willpower stat boost isn’t as exciting as the card draw, but it is a great value. Allies with 2 willpower at 2 cost are efficient for sending to the quest. The Stone only costs 1 resource and gives the same amount of additional willpower.

The other cost in adding a location to the staging area, is significant. This can be bypassed, mitigated, or even negated if build for it as mentioned in the card synergies section. Many of those cards are even in the same sphere as the Stone. Those location control cards do take up valuable deck space, but without them then when you play the card is key. Usually once the player deck is established and gaining ground in the mid to late game. Then it is in danger of becoming a “win more” card because you may not really need the willpower and card draw. It is that point in the game, however, when that extra card could be more valuable in keeping a deck from stalling out.

The quest being played will make it more or less playable as well. Many later quests prevent or limit location control strategies or have terrible locations that be extremely difficult to deal with. Besides Temple of the Deceived there will be others with locations that are not much of an issue to deal with. Others like Dungeons of Cirith Gurat encourage “voltron” builds that focus on building up the heroes with attachments. Stone of Elostirion is one of few player cards options with a +2 willpower boost and help boost the deck’s questing capability.

That all said, Stone of Elostirion is certainly powerful but has drawbacks to match. This is why a 3 seems appropriate. It will get considered for every deck I build with Lore because of its 2 widely useful effects. It may not make the final list because it can be tricky to play, don’t have the deck space for some location control, or the quest has troublesome locations. If I rated purely on power or how playable it is, I could see giving it a 4 or 5 rating. It gets an extra boost from me for interactions with location control and the theme. This card added more details to the meeting of Gildor and the Hobbits in Fellowship of the Ring for me. Prior to this review, I thought this was the Palantir Saruman had and was mistaken in that. This game continues to expand my knowledge and relationship to the stories of Middle Earth. I appreciate this card more as a result.

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

External Links

Sample Decks

Guarded-o-rama by Card Talk Dave

A Forth the Three Hunters deck with Tactics Bilbo, Leadership Eomer, and Tactics Eoywn focusing on getting Guarded cards to be free of encounter cards.

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

Scout’s Honor by Uruk-Guy

Scout themed multiplayer support deck with many direct location progress effects.

Main Deck

Hero (3)
(MotK) Haleth (Messenger of the King Allies)
Aragorn (The Fortress of Nurn)
Legolas (The Sands of Harad)

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

Ally (14)
2x Dunedain Pathfinder (Race Across Harad)
2x Firyal (The Mûmakil)
2x Forest Road Traveler (Fire in the Night)
1x Haleth (The Fortress of Nurn)
2x Mirkwood Explorer (The Thing in the Depths)
2x North Realm Lookout (The Wilds of Rhovanion)
2x Rhovanion Outrider (Temple of the Deceived)
1x Súlien (The City of Corsairs)

Attachment (31)
3x Ancient Mathom (A Journey to Rhosgobel)
2x Dúnedain Pipe (The Black Serpent)
3x Elf-stone (The Black Riders)
2x Leather Boots (Fire in the Night)
2x Light of Valinor (Foundations of Stone)
2x Map of Rhovanion (The Wilds of Rhovanion)
2x Mirkwood Long-knife (The Sands of Harad)
1x Mithril Shirt (The Fate of Wilderland)
2x Necklace of Girion (The Wilds of Rhovanion)
2x Ring of Barahir (The Steward’s Fear)
1x Silver Circlet (Wrath and Ruin)
1x Silver Harp (The Treachery of Rhudaur)
1x Stone of Elostirion (Under the Ash Mountains)
1x Thorongil (The Fortress of Nurn)
2x Unexpected Courage (Core Set)
1x Warden of Arnor (The Three Trials)
3x Woodmen’s Clearing (The Withered Heath)

Event (11)
3x A Test of Will (Core Set)
2x Desperate Defense (The Flame of the West)
3x Elven-light (The Dread Realm)
2x Scouting Party (Temple of the Deceived)
1x The Galadhrim’s Greeting (Core Set)

3 Heroes, 56 Cards
Cards up to The Fortress of Nurn

Sideboard

Ally (3)
1x Mirkwood Runner (Return to Mirkwood)
1x Rider of Rohan (Beneath the Sands)
1x Warden of Healing (The Long Dark)

Attachment (2)
1x Protector of Lórien (Core Set)
1x Silver Circlet (Wrath and Ruin)