Sword of Númenor is one of my favorite cards from the Angmar Awakened cycle, and can be a very powerful card in the right deck. It bears a striking resemblance to Dúnedain Mark: Both cards cost 1 resource and impart a +1 bonus. Since its release, the merits of both cards have been debated; however, rather than pit these two cards against each other in some ultimate struggle for dominance, it is instructive to understand where both cards shine, because they do cater to different deck archetypes.
Points in favor of Dúnedain Mark:
- Dúnedain Mark can be attached to any hero, whereas Sword of Númenor is restricted to Dunedain and Gondor heroes.
- Dúnedain Mark is not a restricted attachment, whereas Sword of Númenor is.
- Dúnedain Mark is a Signal attachment, so it can be fetched by a Weather Hills Watchman.
- Dúnedain Mark is not an Item or Weapon, making it immune to the attachment hate in The Dunland Trap.
- Dúnedain Mark can be transferred between heroes, allowing it to be used multiple times per round.
Points in favor of Sword of Númenor:
- Sword of Númenor provides limited resource acceleration.
- Though Sword of Númenor is a restricted attachment, it is not limited to one per hero; therefore, dual-wielding can provide greater resource acceleration.
- Sword of Númenor combos very nicely with Gondorian Fire.
- Since Sword of Númenor is a Weapon attachment, it can trigger weapon-specific events such as Foe-hammer, Goblin-cleaver, or Straight Shot.
What this analysis reveals is that, while both cards are similar, some situations will favor one over the other:
- Combat Strategy: If you have a hero lineup where you anticipate that multiple heroes will be attacking, then the card transference ability of Dúnedain Mark may be more valuable; however, if you rely on a single beefcake attacker to take down everything in sight, then it's probably better to go with the Sword of Númenor so that you can cash in on the extra resources.
- Enemy Cards: The 5+ hit point restriction on Sword of Númenor is not as big a hindrance as it seems at first glance, since most quests (even some of the early ones) feature a good supply of beefed-up opponents. That said, if you're traveling to The Seventh Level, or some other hole infested with nothing but 2 hit point Goblins, it's probably best to take the Dúnedain Marks instead.
- Hero Traits: Sword of Númenor only makes sense if you can target a Dunedain or Gondor hero.
- Blood/Fire: If you are running Gondorian Fire (or possibly Blood of Númenor), then Sword of Númenor can accelerate your growth.
- Deck Composition: If you are relying on Foe-hammer for card draw, you probably want to use Sword of Númenor. If you are running enough signals to warrant Weather Hills Watchman, then you probably want Dúnedain Marks.
With all that said, go have fun with it! If there is anything I've missed, please add it to the comments below. Sword of Númenor is a great card; it just requires some planning to get the maximum benefit from it.