Ally. Cost: 4. 2   1   2   3  

Gondor. Noble. Ranger.

Action: Exhaust Faramir to choose a player. Each character controlled by that player gets +1 until the end of the phase.

"He leads now in all perilous ventures. But his life is charmed, or fate spares him for some other end."
Mablung, Ranger of Ithilien,
The Two Towers
Jeff Himmelman

Core Set #14. Leadership.


My feelings about ally Faramir are kind of weird. I think that he's overrated by most people but also that he's overpowered to the point where I doubt he'd exist if he hadn't been an early card when the balance was a bit shakier.

So, firstly let's glance at his mostly irrelevant stats. 1 is fairly meaningless, but 2 and 3 is decent for an ally and you'd expect him to survive a hit, so he can be a passable backup defender in a round when you didn't need his ability - you want to be careful he doesn't die though, or you lose access to that ability and also you've kind of wasted 4 resources at that point. His 2 is really meaningless, because if you're in a position where his ability won't give you more than 2 you really shouldn't have bothered playing Faramir.

The ability then is the meat of the discussion of this card. While there are sometimes other uses for , in the vast majority of cases this is a means of improving your questing. It's comparable to the later Sword that was Broken with a couple of differences - first and most crucial is that Faramir can be triggered after the Staging step rather than before, allowing you to adjust how hard you're questing after finding out exactly what you're up against; and second is that Faramir can be targeted on any player in the game rather than being specific to you, so you can choose who to give the boost to in order to make the optimal amount of quest progress (whether that be as much as possible or a specific amount if you're trying to control your questing).

That second point improves Faramir's flexibility since in multiplayer it can then be much more reasonable to include Faramir in a deck which either doesn't have a lot of allies or doesn't really quest, since you can simply target another player. Even in ally swarm decks it makes things easier if you get a bad draw, because if another deck has better luck and plenty of questing allies you can just boost them rather than yourself. It also allows for better controlled questing as noted, if you're playing a quest where everything is liable to go wrong when you advance, like Conflict at the Carrock, but you'd still want to clear active locations pretty consistently. If different players are questing with different number of characters you can pick and choose from a few different options how much progress you want to make.

The fact it can be triggered after staging is obviously also crucial to the case of controlled questing since you can wait to see exactly how much threat you're up against before deciding where to target Faramir, or whether to not use him at all - this allows for his stats to actually sometimes be useful as mentioned above, because if for one reason or another you don't need that much quest progress then the extra from Faramir may well be superfluous, but unlike other big boosts, Faramir has another potential use.

Flexibility aside, the ability is tremendously powerful. The sphere has many means of amassing sizeable ally counts, with mustering effects like A Very Good Tale or Herald of AnĂ³rien combined with simply having lots of resource generation and paying for the allies normally. Consequently you end up with an ally swarm and can be questing with a large number of characters. Not that you need that many for Faramir to be worth it - as soon as you're questing with 4 characters (say 2 heroes and 2 allies) Faramir's boost gives as much as the resources it costs to play him, but then that number keeps going up, and it's not too outlandish a possibility that Faramir could wind up granting double digit amounts of , at which point it starts to feel utterly ludicrous. And don't forget, if you have some means of readying allies, there is no limit on Faramir's ability, so if you ready him after triggering it you can just trigger it again a second time to get even more ridiculous, though the chances of youneeding to are slim.

Which brings me back to my initial point. The amounts of Faramir can provide, flexibly, to any deck, make him seem pretty overpowered, and I doubt he'd have been this powerful if he'd been released a few cycles later in the game. But those excessive numbers are just that, excessive. Especially at lower player-counts, by the time you've got enough allies in play to reap significant benefits from Faramir you tend to have as much as you really need without him - and that's without considering the potential presence of other boosts like Sword that was Broken, Visionary Leadership or Dain Ironfoot. So I find myself thinking, "Why bother?" Now at higher player-counts Faramir may become more relevant as there's a lot more scope for things to simply fly out of control due to the sometimes wacky scaling of this game. If you encounter a large Surge train and fill up the staging area with an implausible amount of then certainly it could help to have an ally who can repond by providing a similarly implausible amount of to get past it all. So in 3-4 player Faramir makes more sense. But he's still far from being the only means of dealing with such a situation, and I would contend he is one of the least interesting means of doing so and thus still generally prefer to look elsewhere.

There's no denying ally Faramir's sheer level of power in the right context, and he's still well worth the resources even without leaning too hard into the ally swarm approach. He's arguably overpowered even, but despite that I feel he doesn't necesssarily deserve as much praise as he has been known to receive, because so often by the time he is both drawn and played he can end up being surplus to requirements. And that's the reason I tend not to use him, because while he's unquestionably worth the resources, I find it more variable and debatable as to whether he's worth the deckspace.

Faramir may be old, but he still more than pulls his weight. You'll mainly be playing him for his ability, but he has other uses. Sword that was Broken and Visionary Leadership do alot of the same, but neither are as versatile as Faramir. If you don't need the quest push, he's still a good defender. And if someone else is defending, he can still attack!