The Shirefolk

  • Card Talk Season 5 Episode 42
    • Video episode
    • Audio episode
  • Cycle
    • Ered Mithren
  • Set
    • Mount Gundabad
  • Player Card Categories 
    • Threat Reduction

The Hobbit Enabler

Background

Hobbits came to settle The Shire from Bree in 1601 of the Third Age after getting permission from Arthedain’s King Argeleb II. In thirty years Hobbits from elsewhere in the Arnorion splinter kingdoms and Dunland came to settle until most Hobbits lived there. Shire Hobbits by the time of the quest to reclaim Erebor had become a heavily agrarian peaceful society if very sheltered. The Shirefolk were known for enjoying simple pleasures of food, smoking, and socializing.

Card Theme

One of the defining qualities of Hobbits in relation to the other races is how they’re overlooked. Part of that is their own doing in avoiding the “big folk” and the insularity of the Shire-folk. The other part of it is the underestimation of the other races. Part of that underestimation stems from the Hobbits avoiding becoming involved the other events of Middle-Earth. Another is that the Hobbits love of the more simple pleasures of life instead of great works of industry. Lastly as well is their short stature seeming as “almost like children” to most men. It is very fitting then that threat reduction is tied to cultural identity of The Shire-folk. Threat is intended to represent the attention of Sauron on the heroes and direct his forces to the great perceived threats. The Hobbits lacking any formal military, lack of widespread industry for armaments, disinterest in the geopolitics of Middle-Earth, and location far in the West made them particularly unthreatening to Mordor.

Card Synergies and Interactions

Hobbit Engage an Enemy with Higher Engagement Cost than Threat Bonus

This is where The Shirefolk really shines and obviously meant to. The Black Riders introduced this mechanism with Hobbit Cloak, Dagger of Westernesse, Lore Pippin hero, and Sam Gamgee hero to name a few. The danger to a Hobbit deck then is a low engagement cost enemy or massive threat gain. The Shirefolk counters both of those and fits into any configuration of Hobbit heroes and help to get those bonuses.

It also came in the same pack as Gaffer Gamgee that also shored up one of the biggest weaknesses of the Hobbit deck, defense. As long as threat is low and a player can spare Lore resources a round, that is one attack canceled every round or at worst every 2 rounds. It’s amazing and The Shirefolk can help keep it consistently happening.

Secrecy

The problem with Secrecy when introduced in Darrowdelf was that there few hero line ups that could have 3 heroes starting at 20 threat or lower. Hobbits fixed that with more good heroes at 6 or lower threat. Still it relied on getting good resource acceleration early with Resourceful and/or Timely Aid in hand early. Most times a player would be in secrecy for a few turns at most. The Shirefolk among other threat reduction introduced later made it easier to extend that window into the midgame. Hobbit decks with Elevenses, The Shirefolk, Smoke Rings, and Spirit Merry have many ways to keep utilizing Secrecy discounts throughout the entire game.

Pipes

Most specifically Hobbit Pipe. Hobbit Pipe turns threat reduction events into draw 1, 2, or 3 cards. A zero cost neutral event that helps the Hobbits do what they do best and draw more cards, it’s great! The Card draw then can help a player find Spare Pipe that can help find another The Shirefolk. There is really good synergy here to help keep the pipe engine moving and get some discounted powerful allies thanks to Smoke and Think.

Song of Eärendil

Song of Eärendil is a multiplayer focused card, but can be extremely powerful with Hobbits. As mentioned earlier, Hobbits have many ways to reduced threat. Spirit Merry in 3 to 4 player games can easily be reducing the Hobbit player’s threat by 2 – 4 per turn alone. Shirefolk only gives more means to offset using the second response liberally. In scenarios with a lot of threat raising effects, the Hobbit deck with this Song becomes a threat control support deck. It is not unheard of a Hobbit deck like this to keep everyone in the game and end with threat lower than its starting level.

Quest Specific

The Shirefolk is great to use in any quest with a lot of threat raising effects or Doomed. Later cycles in particular added more do X or raise threat effects. The Crossing of Poros for example has a Stage 2 that required allies to be exhausted when they enter play unless a player raises their threat by 1. The King’s Quest Stage 1 has players add a location to the staging area or raise their threat. Vengeance of Mordor cycle also hits players’ threat hard. The Power of Mordor encounter set featured in a few of the scenarios has a Doomed 5 card, another card will reduce a player’s threat elimination level by 5, and one raising threat for drawing cards.

Earlier cycles have a few stand out scenarios where threat reduction is a great idea. Shadow and Flame in the Darrowdelf cycle has players start at 0 threat and the Balrog has an engagement cost of 1. If a player can keep threat at 0 then they’re not engaged with Durin’s Bane and don’t have to take its attack. Trouble in Tharbad requires player to reduce their threat to 0 before advancing to a later stage of the game. It has a way for players to get there, but more threat reduction can help speed the game along.

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 The Shirefolk at 4 rings. It is a top notch enabler of the Hobbit strategy. It is neutral and zero cost so it can go into any Hobbit deck that uses all Hobbit heroes. The amount of threat taken off is better than most threat reduction cards except for Galadhrim’s Greeting, Lore Aragorn, and Core Set Gandalf. This helps ensure the Hobbits get their bonuses for engaging higher engagement cost enemies. The only downsides really is that it can’t be played outside Hobbit decks and it can’t be recurred with Record attachments. It’s niche tribal card but one that really helps do what it wants to.

  • Dave –
  • Grant –
  • Ted –
  • Matt – 4

External Links

Sample Decks

The Rise of the Hobbit Tacticians by Dave Walsh

Dave took it upon himself to build a Hobbit deck using only Tactics Hobbit heroes.

Main Deck

Hero (3)
Bilbo Baggins (Mount Gundabad)
Merry (The Black Riders)
Tom Cotton (The Mountain of Fire)

Ally (18)
1x Beechbone (The Battle of Carn Dûm)
2x Booming Ent (The Antlered Crown)
2x Derndingle Warrior (Escape from Mount Gram)
2x Farmer Maggot (The Black Riders)
2x Gandalf (Over Hill and Under Hill)
3x Master of the Forge (Shadow and Flame)
1x Quickbeam (The Treason of Saruman)
2x Rosie Cotton (The Mountain of Fire)
3x Treebeard (The Antlered Crown)

Attachment (20)
3x Dagger of Westernesse (The Black Riders)
3x Ent Draught (The Treason of Saruman)
3x Fast Hitch (The Dead Marshes)
3x Friend of Friends (The Mountain of Fire)
3x Protector of Lórien (Core Set)
3x Song of Wisdom (Conflict at the Carrock)
2x Sting (Mount Gundabad)

Event (18)
3x Daeron’s Runes (Foundations of Stone)
3x Drinking Song (Mount Gundabad)
3x Entmoot (The Treason of Saruman)
3x Raise the Shire (The Mountain of Fire)
3x The Shirefolk (Mount Gundabad)
3x Unseen Strike (The Redhorn Gate)

3 Heroes, 56 Cards
Cards up to Mount Gundabad

Decklist built and published on RingsDB.

Three Hobbit Hunters for Antlered Crown by kattattack22

Forth, the Three Hunters deck utilizing the low Hobbit starting threat to build up and eventually get some strong guarded attachments.

Three Hobbit Hunters for Antlered Crown

Hero (3)
Bilbo Baggins (Mount Gundabad)
Pippin (The Black Riders)
Sam Gamgee (The Black Riders)

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

Attachment (44)
1x Arod (The Treason of Saruman)
3x Blade of Gondolin (Core Set)
2x Celebrían’s Stone (Core Set)
3x Dagger of Westernesse (The Black Riders)
3x Dúnedain Quest (A Journey to Rhosgobel)
3x Fast Hitch (The Dead Marshes)
3x Friend of Friends (The Mountain of Fire)
1x Glamdring (Roam Across Rhovanion)
3x Golden Belt (Challenge of the Wainriders)
3x Hobbit Cloak (The Black Riders)
1x Magic Ring (The Crossings of Poros)
1x Necklace of Girion (The Wilds of Rhovanion)
3x Protector of Lórien (Core Set)
3x Ranger Spikes (Heirs of Númenor)
2x Ring Mail (The Long Dark)
2x Staff of Lebethron (The Land of Shadow)
2x Steward of Gondor (Core Set)
1x Sting (Mount Gundabad)
1x The Arkenstone (The Withered Heath)
3x Woodmen’s Path (Roam Across Rhovanion)

Event (6)
3x Hobbit-sense (Encounter at Amon Dîn)
3x The Shirefolk (Mount Gundabad)

3 Heroes, 50 Cards

Deck built on RingsDB.

The Great Hunt

  • Cycle
    • Ered Mithren
  • Set
    • Fate of the Wilderland
  • Player Card Categories 
    • Mono Sphere Required

The Great Ship Killer!

Background

The picture of the White Hart and the flavor text refer to in The Hobbit when an deer knocks Bombur into the enchanted stream. Shortly after they hear a great hunt going on. Knowing Tolkien’s interest in Western and Northern European folklore, this is likely a reference to The Wild Hunt. The Wild Hunt is a type of mythological story common in Northern Europe with a hunting party comprised of Gods or supernatural beings.

The more direct reference is to the White Hart most notably appearing in Arthurian Legend. The Hart is hunted by King Arthur and his knights but has an uncanny ability to evade them.

The appearance of the White Hart, the implications of Mirkwood as a magical place with the enchanted stream, and similarity in name are why I think Tolkien alludes to The Wild Hunt. It also fits with his interest in mythology and attempting to create a mythological stories with The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings.

Card Theme

The effect of destroying a non-unique enemy matches the idea of a great hunt that would culminate in the death of the pursued creature. It doesn’t match the passing reference to the possibility of a great hunt proposed by Bilbo and the Dwarves in The Hobbit. Especially as they do not kill the deer and the White Hart also has a great ability to elude hunters in legend.

Card Synergies and Interactions

Resource Smoothing

The nice part about this card compared to previous cards that require mono-sphere is it doesn’t require the printed resource icon on each hero like Strength of Arms or Advanced Warning. Song of Wisdom or A Good Harvest can make it possible to play The Great Hunt. Any heroes or unique allies with Messenger of the King that also have a Lore hero version with Thorongil can pay for The Great Hunt. Galadriel and Aragorn can also gain Lore through Nenya and Ring of Barahir. This makes it a bit more flexible than the Against the Shadow cycle mono-sphere cards.

Cost Reduction

The drawback to this version of mono-sphere card, is the 3 resources have to be paid. All cost reduction cards then cannot combo or a nonbo with The Great Hunt. It is especially unfortunate for Hobbit decks considering A Good Meal and Leaf Brooch are great cost reduction options.

Low Threat Heroes and Engagement Control

The second reason that it unfortunate the Hobbit cost reduction is a nonbo is the advantage of putting The Great Hunt in a low starting threat deck. The Great Hunt can only target an enemy in the staging area, but it can only be played after engagements during the combat phase. Hobbit heroes in particular work well because they’re all fairly low starting threat. Folco Boffin that is a Lore hero helps keep them even lower since he can be 4 threat with 2 other Hobbit heroes. The Shirefolk is a great threat reduction card that lowers threat slightly more than Elrond’s Counsel and still costs 0. In other mono-Lore builds Woodmen’s Clearing or Lore Aragorn are going to be the best threat reduction options.

Lore isn’t limited to just threat reduction for controlling engagements. Advanced Warning was mentioned earlier that lets the player skip engagement checks for a phase. Lore also cards that increase engagement costs of enemies with Lore Pippin hero, Take No Notice, and Mablung ally.

Scroll of Isildur

Scroll of Isildur is the best combo with The Great Hunt. This allows players to possibly play each copy 3 times in a game. That is up 9 non-unique enemies just discarded from play. The recursion can be taken further with Erebor Hammersmith or Second Breakfast to bring Scroll of Isildur back from the discard pile. That is not far fetched considering how much card draw Lore has available between Drinking Song, Daeron’s Runes, Mithrandir’s Advice, Peace and Thought, Deep Knowledge and more.

Quest Specific

The game even since the beginning of the game has made strong non-unique enemies. Most notoriously is the Hill Troll players have in the staging area at the start of Journey Along the Anduin. The Great Hunt can get rid of it right away. Marsh Adder in the Wilderlands encounter set can also make an appearance in Journey and it is not easy to deal with its fairly high 7 hit points. Chieftain Ufthak similarly has tough defense and hit points compared to most other enemies in the core set. Both are better to not engage as each attack they make increases a player’s threat or their attack. Most surprising, however, is that the Nazgul of Dol Guldur in Escape from Dol Guldur is not unique and vulnerable to The Great Hunt. Discarding it and not risking having to discard an ally due its second forced effect is a great value.

Another good target for The Great Hunt are Mumaks. They’re often not unique but very strong with a lot of hit points. On top of that they have a limit on how much damage they can take each round. The Great Hunt bypasses that limitation and gets rid of the Mumak in a single round!

Intruders in Chetwood in the Angmar Awakened cycle sets up using The Great Hunt very well. First of all the quest, makes it so there are no engagement checks perfect for setting up targets. Second, the quest starts with an Orc War Party in play. It is a strong enemy that prevents enemies in the staging are from taking damage and the players from winning the game. There is also another strong orc enemy, Angmar Captain that is better to not to engage if at all possible. It’s forced effect can make it attack twice in a single combat with its 5 attack! Both enemies have 3 threat which is not easy to just quest over. Reducing staging area threat by 3 is going to help questing more than playing most allies since few have 3 or more willpower.

The best value for The Great Hunt is discarding ship enemies. 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.” Discarding a ship enemy then not only gets rid of 1 enemy engagement, but often times 2, 3, or even 4 enemy engagements. Ship enemies only appear in Voyage Across Belegaer, Flight of the Stormcaller, A Storm on Cobas Haven, A City of Corsairs, and The Hunt for the Dreadnaught. In those 5 scenarios, it can do a lot of work.

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 The Great Hunt at 5 rings. The effect can be incredibly powerful. In some scenarios, it can make them much, much easier. The core set offers the earliest examples of this with advancement of quest prevented by Hill Troll in Joureny Along the Anduin and the Nazgul in Escape from Dol Guldur. Normal strategy would be to build up to deal those enemies in combat. The Great Hunt offers an alternative. There are a couple scenarios like Intruders in Chetwood and Dungeons of Cirith Gurat where enemies don’t make engagement checks and having other ways to get them out of play is very useful. Lastly, getting rid of ship enemies with Boarding is just amazing value.

That all said, the requirement to pay for The Great Hunt from 3 different heroes resource pools is limiting. It doesn’t necessarily require 3 Lore heroes to play since resource smoothing does work to fulfil the requirement. It does mean it can’t be played in a Grey Wanderer deck and cost reduction is not an option. The cost reduction nonbo is an issue for mono-Lore. Lore doesn’t have much resource acceleration available unless playing secrecy for Resourceful and/or Grima. Outside mono-Lore then there is a bit of additional setup required with the smoothing to be able to play it. It also is just an event. Even if Lore has a ways to recur it a substantial number of times. It will discard one enemy per turn. A strong attacker with a few attachments could achieve the same effect without the 3 resources per turn cost.

I’ve found it to be a good effective card for solo or multiplayer. It just doesn’t see widespread play because of the cost and requirement to pay the cost from 3 different heroes resource pools.

  • Dave – 3
  • Grant – 5
  • Ted – TBR
  • Matt – 5
  • Average – 4.33

External Links

Sample Decks

Victory via a Burglary Side Quest by Matt Kell aka kattattack22

Questing deck for multiplayer leveraging the willpower boosting on Treebeard, Thurindir, and Rossiel in early to mid game. While also providing some encounter control with victory display events.

Burglar’s Turn provides some strong attachments to further boost willpower and comabt ability. Many can be easily passed out to other players.

Main Deck

Hero (3)
Rossiel (Escape from Mount Gram)
Thurindir (Race Across Harad)
Treebeard (The Treason of Saruman)

Contract (0)
1x The Burglar’s Turn (Wrath and Ruin)

Ally (28)
3x East Road Ranger (The Wastes of Eriador)
2x Firyal (The Mûmakil)
2x Ghân-buri-Ghân (The Flame of the West)
2x Gléowine (Core Set)
2x Henamarth Riversong (Core Set)
2x Mablung (The Land of Shadow)
3x Mirkwood Explorer (The Thing in the Depths)
2x Mirkwood Hunter (The Ghost of Framsburg)
2x Quickbeam (The Treason of Saruman)
2x Robin Smallburrow (The Drowned Ruins)
3x Warden of Healing (The Long Dark)
3x Wellinghall Preserver (Across the Ettenmoors)

Event (21)
3x Gildor’s Counsel (The Hills of Emyn Muil)
3x Leave No Trace (Escape from Mount Gram)
3x None Return (Across the Ettenmoors)
3x Out of the Wild (Road to Rivendell)
3x The Door is Closed! (The Treachery of Rhudaur)
3x The Great Hunt (The Fate of Wilderland)
3x The Hidden Way (The Withered Heath)

Player Side Quest (3)
1x Explore Secret Ways (Race Across Harad)
1x Gather Information (The Lost Realm)
1x Scout Ahead (The Wastes of Eriador)

3 Heroes, 52 Cards
Cards up to Wrath and Ruin

Sideboard

Attachment (14)
1x A Burning Brand (Conflict at the Carrock)
1x Celebrían’s Stone (Core Set)
1x Durin’s Axe (Wrath and Ruin)
1x Elven Mail (The Three Trials)
1x Ent Draught (The Treason of Saruman)
1x Glamdring (Roam Across Rhovanion)
1x Magic Ring (The Crossings of Poros)
1x Mirkwood Long-knife (The Sands of Harad)
1x Mithril Shirt (The Fate of Wilderland)
1x Necklace of Girion (The Wilds of Rhovanion)
1x Orcrist (Fire in the Night)
1x Ring of Barahir (The Steward’s Fear)
1x Stone of Elostirion (Under the Ash Mountains)
1x The Arkenstone (The Withered Heath)

Decklist built and published on RingsDB.

The Greatest Hunt by Seastan

A low threat mono-Lore deck dedicated to recurring The Great Hunt. Resource acceleration and card draw ensures it has everything to keep the recursion going. I’ve done something similar with Marcelf’s Love of Drinking Song sideboarding in The Great Hunt. It is highly effective.

Main Deck

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

Ally (16)
3x Erebor Hammersmith (Core Set)
2x Firyal (The Mûmakil)
1x Gaffer Gamgee (Mount Gundabad)
1x Gléowine (Core Set)
1x Guardian of Ithilien (The City of Corsairs)
1x Henamarth Riversong (Core Set)
1x Mablung (The Land of Shadow)
1x Quickbeam (The Treason of Saruman)
3x Robin Smallburrow (The Drowned Ruins)
1x Warden of Healing (The Long Dark)
1x Wellinghall Preserver (Across the Ettenmoors)

Attachment (12)
3x Resourceful (The Watcher in the Water)
3x Scroll of Isildur (The Morgul Vale)
3x Steward of Gondor (Core Set)
3x Sword-thain (The Dread Realm)

Event (22)
3x A Good Harvest (The Steward’s Fear)
3x Bartering (The Wilds of Rhovanion)
3x Daeron’s Runes (Foundations of Stone)
3x Drinking Song (Mount Gundabad)
3x Mithrandir’s Advice (The Steward’s Fear)
3x The Great Hunt (The Fate of Wilderland)
3x The Shirefolk (Mount Gundabad)
1x Will of the West (Core Set)

3 Heroes, 50 Cards
Cards up to The Fate of Wilderland

Decklist built and published on RingsDB.

Tactics Glorfindel – Spoiler Review

  • Player Card Categories 
    • Attack Bonus

Balrog slayer version of Glorfindel.

Background

Glorfindel we meet in the Lord of the Rings trilogy after Frodo is stabbed by the Morgul blade. He finds Strider and the Hobbits on their way to Rivendell. He takes Frodo from them and carries him swiftly to Rivendell. When confronted by the ringwraiths at the ford, he reveals his spiritual presence to drive the wraiths into the river. Then they are swept away in the ensuing flood. Those unfamiliar with books will note this part is filled by Arwen in the Peter Jackson film adaption.

Glorfindel, however, has a much more extensive story than his cameo in Lord of the Rings. In the First Age, he is one of the captains of Gondolin, the hidden elf city. He is most well known for slaying a Blarog in single combat covering the elves’ flight from the city after it fell. After the fatal blow, the Balrog began to fall into an abyss and dragged Glorfindel down with him. Glorfindel died, but the Valar brought him back from the Halls of Waiting.

He lived in Valinor after his ressurction puntil coming back to Middle Earth in the Second Age. Glorfindel most likely returned to Middle Earth with the Blue Wizards. He was sent to aid King Gil-galad and Elrond in fighting Sauron. Not much is known of his deeds during the end of the second age and early third age. He did fight Sauron’s forces in Eriador. There, most notably, he gave the prophecy that the Witch-King would not fall by the hand of a man.

Card Theme

The attack bonus for attacking alone is very thematic for Glorfindel’s one on one fight with a Blarog. Each incarnation of a Balrog in the game, The Nameless Fear, Durin’s Bane, and The Balrog, are all unique as well. Glorfindel will have both bonuses while attacking them alone. The Nameless Fear and Durin’s Bane generally have low enough defense that he could fight them alone with just his 7 attack. Durin’s Bane 9 defense, however, he’ll need some additional attack boosts to go one on one with.

Card Synergies and Interactions

Attack boosts

Strength and Courage is going to be the biggest and fastest way to boost Glorfindel’s attack power. It gives +1 but exhausting the The One Ring and gaining 1 threat will boost his attack to 11! It is one better than Tactics Eowyn‘s once per game ability. It is enough to kill many boss enemies without any further boosts.

Rivendell Blade isn’t a straight attack boost since it lowers an enemy’s defense. It is rare to have an enemy without at least 2 defense basically becoming +2 attack. Although it also doesn’t work on enemies immune to player card effects. Dagger of Westernesse is another weapon that can easily be +2 attack in many situations. Especially if you are keeping threat low which is often a good idea to do anyway. War Axe is best second weapon to have since it gives +1 attack for each restricted attachment. This can be a mega boost in Forth, the Three Hunters! decks and/or with Golden Belt. There are many other in sphere weapons that boost attack by 1, but are less efficient than Rivendell Blade, Dagger of Westernesse, and War Axe.

There are a couple other attachments for boosting attack that don’t cost a restricted slot. Keeping Count is in sphere for Tactics Glorfindel. He can also become Captain of Gondor since he has the Warrior trait. Dunedain Mark as a solid option in Leadership. Lastly, there’s a few attack boosting events like Blade Mastery and Unseen Striker that can get his attack up to even greater Balrog slaying levels

Firefoot

While Firefoot also boosts attack, the response on it deserves its own special mention. Glorfindel with Firefoot attacking alone will have 6 attack and any excess damage can be dealt directly to a second enemy. This can be made into a even more reliable 2 enemy killing machine with the other attack boosting attachments previously mentioned. The only downside is enemies that are immune to player card effects can’t be target by Firefoot’s ability.

Light of Valinor

There’s no better value than 1 resource for 3 willpower. Typically in this game it takes 1 resource for 1 willpower if not more resources for 1 willpower. Light of Valinor is more valuable to Glorfindel’s spirit version to avoid threat raise for questing with him, but still useful to the Tactics version.

Forth, The Three Hunters!

There are very few Tactics heroes with high willpower. Forth, The Three Hunters! contract fixes that weakness by letting the Tactics sphere use it vast armory of restricted attachment into willpower boosts. Still having a high willpower hero increases the maximum possible willpower for the hero line up. Light of Valinor, Unexpected Courage, or another readying effect lets Glorfindel leverage both his best stats which is key to decks using this contract since action economy is limited.

Revealed in Wrath

Credit to alonewolf87 talking about this card on the Cardboard of the Rings Discord putting it on my radar. I don’t play Noldor much and haven’t used this card yet. Still it is easy to see how combined with Glorfindel’s attack boost this can be game changing. Particularly for non-unique enemies that aren’t immune to player card effects but have other abilities that make them difficult to defeat. Enemies with Toughness or hard damage limits like the Mumaks are prime targets. Ship enemies and others like the Haradrim with engagement effects also are great to blank. Enemies stats of X can be lowered to 0 when blanked as well.

Quest Specific

There are lots of quests with big unique enemies that Glorfindel can get full benefit of his ability against. There are even some where attacking alone he doesn’t need any additional help beyond his built in abilities.

There are even a few enemies like the Fire Drake in The King’s Quest, The Black Serpent in The Flame of the West, and Tom in We Must Away Ere Break of Day that you must or encouraged to attack with 1 character.

Then of course there are many quests that are just straight up boss fights or require one to progress like Conflict at the Carrock, Watcher in the Water, Shadow and Flame, The Three Trials, City of Corsairs, Battle of Carn Dum, Fire in the Night, The Land of Sorrow, and more. While many of the boss level enemies are immune to player card effects, Glorfindel’s attack boosts target himself offering them no protection from his high attack.

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. Typically in spoiler reviews the team uses a thumbs up and thumbs down rating instead.

I give Tactics Glorfindel a thumbs up and I’ll even go so far to give a preliminary 3 ring rating. I could see that going even to 2. The Tactics version definitely is huge step up from the core set Lore version, but it can’t beat the huge value of the Spirt version. Still the attack bonus abilities are very thematic and very useful. In most cases, you can count on him having attack equivalent to hero Beorn. You can easily that get much higher to rival even Tactics Eowyn’s once per game ability. On top of that, you can use Revealed in Wrath that in sphere to get around certain enemy damage limitations making them significantly easier to deal with. Lastly and one I think is easily overlooked is that he has 3 willpower in Tactics. Only 2 Tactics heroes have 3 or more willpower without any other cards in play, Eowyn and Theoden. Glorfindel is welcome addition to increasing solo viable mono-Tactics decks.

  • Dave – Thumbs up
  • Grant – Thumbs up
  • Ted – Thumbs up
  • Matt – Thumbs up and preliminary 3

Sample Decks

The Golden Liberator 1.0

This is a deck I built with a proxied Tactics Glorfindel for The Land of Sorrow. Check back on January 28th for the playthrough.

Hero (2)
Arwen Undómiel (The Dread Realm)
Dáin Ironfoot (The Ghost of Framsburg)
Glorfindel (The Glittering Caves)

Ally (22)
1x Bilbo Baggins (The Road Darkens)
2x Elfhelm (The Dead Marshes)
3x Ered Luin Miner (Temple of the Deceived)
3x Ethir Swordsman (The Steward’s Fear)
2x Grimbold (The Flame of the West)
3x Honour Guard (The Wastes of Eriador)
1x Meneldor (Roam Across Rhovanion)
1x Pippin (A Shadow in the East)
3x Westfold Horse-breeder (The Voice of Isengard)
3x Wilyador (The Land of Sorrow)

Attachment (11)
2x Asfaloth (Foundations of Stone)
2x Light of Valinor (Foundations of Stone)
2x Rohan Warhorse (The Voice of Isengard)
1x Strength and Courage (The City of Ulfast)
1x The One Ring (A Shadow in the East)
2x Unexpected Courage (Core Set)
1x Windfola (A Storm on Cobas Haven)

Event (18)
3x A Test of Will (Core Set)
3x Elrond’s Counsel (The Watcher in the Water)
3x Elven-light (The Dread Realm)
3x Hidden Cache (The Morgul Vale)
3x Quick Strike (Core Set)
3x Reforged (The Fate of Wilderland)

3 Heroes, 51 Cards

Deck built on RingsDB.

A Test of Will

The staple Spirit card to rule them all.

Background

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

Card Theme

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

Card Synergies and Interactions

Encounter Control

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

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

Nonbos

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

Map of Eardindil

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

A Good Harvest

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

Quest Specific

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

Ring Rating

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

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

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

External Links

Sample Deck

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

The Nope Deck by Qwaz

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

The Nope Deck

Main Deck

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sideboard

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

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

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

Decklist built and published on RingsDB.

Spirit Théoden

Théoden is the king of Rohan, and perhaps the king of cost reduction. He has a clear role of getting out your Rohan allies efficiently. As is commonly known, Rohan has a strong theme of discarding allies in exchange for card effects. Théoden helps soften the blow of losing an ally by having it cost less. Additionally, one can build up a good sized army of Rohan allies of any sphere with Théoden’s strong resource smoothing and cost reduction features. Let the mustering begin!

Background

Théoden king, the Lord of the Mark of Rohan. He is the seventeenth king of Rohan and plays a prominent role in The Lord of the Rings. During the war of the ring he is under the spell of Saruman before Gandalf shows to free him from said spell. After this he comes to his senses and immediately thwarts Rohan in action against the evil forces of Saruman, and then Sauron. He famously calls for the mustering of Rohan and eventually presses his Rohirrim forward to the Battle of Pelennor Fields. His iconic speech closes with battle cries of death. He does meet his own death in the fields of Pelennor and in doing so leaves behind a legacy of redemption and glory.

Card Theme

Thedoen’s ability matches his theme quite well, specifically the mustering theme. His ability allows a player to reduce the cost the first played Rohan ally to zero. This is much like his attempts to rally his army in Tolkein’s work. Théoden’s ability is not great by shear power, but by numbers. The idea here is a Rohan ally swarm attempting to get any able-bodied warrior into the battle. Such a theme mimics the desperation to form forces to fight the enemy in both the Battle of Helm’s Deep and Pelennor fields.

Thematic Deckbuilding Ideas

The beauty of deckbuilding with Théoden is he can be dropped in any thematic Rohan deck. In fact, there are pages upon pages of deck ideas on RingsDB demonstrating exactly this. He is going to fit best into a Rohan themed deck with many allies and some high-cost allies, ideally both. This is a huge bonus if you love running Rohan. Any time you can drop a Westfold Horse-breeder for 0 resources, or an Eomund or Gamling for 2 you’re at a major advantage. A Spirit Elfhelm for 3 resources? Yes, please.

Other than his high threat there’s hardly any reason to exclude him in a Rohan swarm deck. His sentinel ability makes him a great defender in multiplayer which also has a thematic flare of it’s own. While Théoden boasts great stats, his value does drop outside of Rohan themed decks due to his specialized nature. Dave and Grant explain more about this in the podcast episode.

Card Synergies and Interactions

Théoden is priviledged into having access to tools specific to him. Snowmane and Herugrim both have added bonuses if you attach them to Théoden. Golden Shield is another thematic fit. Théoden can host all three due to Snowmane losing the restricted keyword when attached to Théoden. It’s clear these were developed with him in mind. Snowmane provides a free readying ability barring a successful quest. Herugrim provides and awesome base of +2 attack bonus while Golden Shield provides a fortifying base of +2 defense bonus. An Unexpected Courage ensures Théoden can utilize both of his combat attachments.

Gamling and Guthwine‘s ability to recur Rohan allies sets Théoden for a nonstop swarm. Speaking of swarm, Mustering the Rohirrim can help dig for any Rohan ally within the top 10 cards of your deck. The one resource you spend doing this is negated by Theoden’s cost reduction.

Feel like making Theoden a powerhouse attacker? Add Herugrim to him as well as a Steward of Gondor and a Song of Hope. Boost that willpower and swing away. Do the same with Golden Shield.

Finally, we can refer to Card Talk’s episode on Théoden and Théodred. I love Dave’s (rather insistent) idea of using both heroes’ ability to double resource smooth. The Rohan swarm could be never-ending with this duo. Want to take it a step further? Add Grima for maximum resource smoothing.

Quest Specific

I’m not sure there’s any specific quest Théoden is going to excel in specifically. The only immediate exception I can think of is Voyage across Belegaer where Nárelenya essentially has the same ability as Théoden.

I might suggest staying away from quests which start off combat-heavy. The reason for this is Théoden’s high threat level. For example, we all know what we have to deal with turn one during Journey Along the Anduin if your threat is over 30. Even with a great cost reduction ability it’s hard to build a board state in a situation like this.

Ring Rating

I’d ring Théoden a 3. He’s reached elite status in Rohan decks but is lackluster outside the archetype. He has good stats and the sentinel ability to help his cause but its not enough to make him a versatile hero overall. He’s high specialized and highly effective in Rohan decks which is the primary reason I give him a three. I keep him at a three because there’s no reason to consider building with him outside the Rohan archetype unless you do some Three Hunter’s shenanigans. Oh, and I freely admit I’m quite partial to Rohan!

  • Dave – 4
  • Grant – 3
  • Joe – 3
  • Average – 3.33

External Links

Sample Decks

A Sword-day: Arise, Arise, Riders of Théoden! – Devaresh

A Rohan swarm deck featuring Théoden and his attachments.

A Sword-day: Arise, Arise, Riders of Théoden!

Main Deck

Hero (3)
Éomer (The Voice of Isengard)
Éowyn (Core Set)
Théoden (The Treason of Saruman)

Ally (23)
3x Elfhelm (The Mountain of Fire)
2x Éomund (Conflict at the Carrock)
2x Escort from Edoras (A Journey to Rhosgobel)
1x Gamling (The Land of Shadow)
3x Riddermark Knight (The Dungeons of Cirith Gurat)
2x Rider of Rohan (Beneath the Sands)
3x Steward of Orthanc (Race Across Harad)
2x West Road Traveller (Return to Mirkwood)
3x Westfold Horse-breeder (The Voice of Isengard)
2x Westfold Outrider (The Voice of Isengard)

Attachment (14)
3x Firefoot (The Dunland Trap)
2x Golden Shield (The Flame of the West)
3x Gúthwinë (The Mountain of Fire)
2x Herugrim (The Treason of Saruman)
2x Snowmane (The Land of Shadow)
2x Song of Kings (The Hunt for Gollum)

Event (13)
3x A Good Harvest (The Steward’s Fear)
1x Astonishing Speed (Return to Mirkwood)
3x Elven-light (The Dread Realm)
3x Keen as Lances (Escape from Mount Gram)
3x Open the Armory (The Dungeons of Cirith Gurat)

3 Heroes, 50 Cards
Cards up to The Dungeons of Cirith Gurat

Sideboard

Ally (15)
3x Déorwine (Temple of the Deceived)
3x Elfhelm (The Dead Marshes)
3x Gandalf (Core Set)
3x Háma (The Treason of Saruman)
3x Rider of the Mark (Road to Rivendell)

Attachment (4)
3x Favor of the Valar (The Battle of Carn Dûm)
1x Song of Kings (The Hunt for Gollum)

Event (6)
2x Hasty Stroke (Core Set)
2x Mustering the Rohirrim (The Hunt for Gollum)
2x Ride to Ruin (The Hills of Emyn Muil)

Decklist built and published on RingsDB.

Wise Horse Lords of Rohan – Card Talk

A Council of the Wise deck focused on swarming. This deck combos with Théodred for increased resource smoothing.

Wise Horse Lords of Rohan

Main Deck

Hero (3)
Éowyn (The Flame of the West)
Théoden (The Treason of Saruman)
Théodred (Core Set)

Contract (0)
1x Council of the Wise (Under the Ash Mountains)

Ally (22)
1x Ceorl (Temple of the Deceived)
1x Déorwine (Temple of the Deceived)
1x Elfhelm (The Mountain of Fire)
1x Éomund (Conflict at the Carrock)
1x Éothain (The Dread Realm)
1x Escort from Edoras (A Journey to Rhosgobel)
1x Gamling (The Land of Shadow)
1x Grimbold (The Flame of the West)
1x Guthlaf (The Blood of Gondor)
1x Háma (The Treason of Saruman)
1x Horseback Archer (Core Set)
1x Riddermark Knight (The Dungeons of Cirith Gurat)
1x Rider of Rohan (Beneath the Sands)
1x Rider of the Mark (Road to Rivendell)
1x Rohirrim Scout (Challenge of the Wainriders)
1x Snowbourn Scout (Core Set)
1x The Riddermark’s Finest (The Hills of Emyn Muil)
1x Warden of Helm’s Deep (The Antlered Crown)
1x West Road Traveller (Return to Mirkwood)
1x Westfold Horse-Breaker (The Hunt for Gollum)
1x Westfold Horse-breeder (The Voice of Isengard)
1x Westfold Outrider (The Voice of Isengard)

Attachment (8)
1x Armored Destrier (Temple of the Deceived)
1x Golden Shield (The Flame of the West)
1x Gúthwinë (The Mountain of Fire)
1x Herugrim (The Treason of Saruman)
1x Horn of the Mark (The City of Ulfast)
1x Snowmane (The Land of Shadow)
1x Unexpected Courage (Core Set)
1x Windfola (A Storm on Cobas Haven)

Event (23)
1x A Test of Will (Core Set)
1x A Very Good Tale (Over Hill and Under Hill)
1x Astonishing Speed (Return to Mirkwood)
1x Battle-fury (The Drowned Ruins)
1x Captain’s Wisdom (The Thing in the Depths)
1x Charge into Battle (Wrath and Ruin)
1x Charge of the Rohirrim (Celebrimbor’s Secret)
1x Desperate Defense (The Flame of the West)
1x Dwarven Tomb (Core Set)
1x Feint (Core Set)
1x Forth Eorlingas! (The Morgul Vale)
1x Gaining Strength (The Steward’s Fear)
1x Helm! Helm! (The Treason of Saruman)
1x Last Stand (Flight of the Stormcaller)
1x Mustering the Rohirrim (The Hunt for Gollum)
1x Parting Gifts (A Journey to Rhosgobel)
1x Ride Them Down (The Antlered Crown)
1x Ride to Ruin (The Hills of Emyn Muil)
1x Sneak Attack (Core Set)
1x Stand and Fight (Core Set)
1x The Muster of Rohan (Challenge of the Wainriders)
1x Valiant Sacrifice (Core Set)
1x We Do Not Sleep (The Dead Marshes)

3 Heroes, 53 Cards
Cards up to Under the Ash Mountains

Decklist built and published on RingsDB.