Legolas is a very good hero! He's one of the most efficient heroes in the core set. His ability is a response, so you could use him even in a turtle deck. His main competition comes from Brand and Bard, the other ranged tactics heroes. But Brand only works in multiplayer and Bard has more wasted stats than seastan has likes. Plus, as an elf, Legolas has access to an entire suite of weapon attachments.

This is a card I've always liked but I've pretty much never used. It's a general problem with event-based boosts that generally you want permanent boosts to deal with all enemies rather than a temporary one which will get you maybe one or two enemies. I suspect that the most used -boosting events, certainly as a percentage of decks capable of making use of them, would be things like Unseen Strike and Khazâd! Khazâd! since they're free, as opposed to Charge of the Rohirrim or comparably For Gondor! costing 2 resources which may be much more difficult to save up. On top of that this card specifically obviously requires a certain amount of setup before it works at all.

One of the biggest limiting factors on this card I would say is simply the question of how many Mounts are going to be in play. This card is potentially much better with more players, if you have a bunch of Rohan characters in play who you can load up with Mounts to just kill everything. At the time this card was released it honestly probably wasn't that good because there really weren't that many Mounts you could use, and not all of them were Rohan Mounts - but as we get more and more Mounts, and particularly since the release of hero Elfhelm, this card definitely increases in potential.

Let's look at this in more detail. Some of the Mounts are generally or completely unavailable to Rohan, but Rohan Warhorse, Firefoot and Snowmane specifically reference the Rohan trait (so does Steed of the Mark, but we tend to ignore that one), while Arod can go on any hero; and then Armored Destrier, Steed of Imladris and Windfola all go on heroes of particular spheres. Meanwhile on the hero side of things (despite the event referencing characters, none of these Mounts go on allies), there are 11 Rohan heroes, 8 of whom have 2+ (including 2 different versions of Théoden). Of ourse, while it doesn't solve the problem of affording it, Háma would allow this event to be repeatedly recycled so it'd be more consistent as well. So there's definitely scope for a 2+ deck fellowship to get +18 or +21 out of this event without actually trying too hard. If you're willing to go a bit further with it, Nor am I a Stranger could get you some more eligible characters, and while 3 of the Rohan heroes are only 1 (including 2 versions of Éowyn), without even getting into the use of Éowyn's ability, there's just the simple fact that giving +3 to any character makes them a useful attacker. 3 is what we view as a good attacker, so +3 on any character makes them good whatever they were starting from, so if you can get your questers ready with Mounts attached then they'll be good attackers when you play this event.

The other limitation which you then have to get around is that with that (potentially) big a boost is having enough enemies to kill with it. So that's another thing which pushes this event more towards higher player counts, since there you're more likely to have enough targets for this to seem worth it. Of course then there's still the question of whether you can engage the enemies - so maybe this fits best into a higher threat aggro sort of setup where the enemies will generally engage you anyway once you're a little way into the game. Or of course you could just go all out for the weird Rohan combat options and double up on Charge of the Rohirrim and Forth Eorlingas! so you can kill all the enemies in the staging area - although it's more difficult to pull off, I'd say that may be a better option, because if you just stay below engagement costs and have plenty of you can leave enemies in the staging area for a while and once you draw the events you'll have plenty of targets for all those suddenly really high heroes you have. Also it's just really cool.

All in all, this is a powerful and fun card if you can get it to work, but getting it to work can be difficult. The best place for it probably requires co-operation in building or choosing decks to play together for a multiplayer game, with a Rohan focus and most likely using hero Elfhelm to just tie all of the synergies together. If you do go to the effort of building a deck (or more likely multiple decks) which make it work though, it can be well worth it.

I identified Haldir as one of the best cards from the Ring-maker cycle for supporting a developing archetype, that being the dedicated long-range combat deck. In this case actually it might be more accurate to say he created the archetype all by himself. Obviously it was always possible to build a combat deck stuffed with Ranged (and Sentinel) characters which could therefore handle combat everywhere on the table in multiplayer without really being concerned about who engages what - but the release of Haldir really pushed people towards the idea of a combat deck which specifically tries not to ever engage any enemies itself. The only cards which supported that kind of approach beforehand were Brand son of Bain and Bard the Bowman, both of whom are great heroes, but neither of them caught the players' imagination in quite the same way, though either of them might work reasonably well with Haldir for that reason.

Let's break down this card. 9 threat cost is reasonably low and Haldir is the first and so far only 3 Ranged hero in the sphere, which obviously is not generally as strong on attack as . As much as it sometimes frustrates me, the best weapons in the game are only for Elves, so the fact Haldir is Silvan gives him an advantage since he can use the Rivendell Blade and Bow of the Galadhrim - though if you enable his ability y keeping your threat down Dagger of Westernesse could also work. Speaking of Silvan, 3 Ranged and the sphere, one of the obvious comparisons is the Core version of Legolas, and personally I think Haldir compares favourably. As much as people extol the virtues of Legolas' very focused statline, exchanging 1 hit point for a second point of which you can use with a readying effect like Unexpected Courage, Light of Valinor or of course the in-sphere Wingfoot is a decent trade. As with Legolas though, the non- stats are mostly irrelevant - what matters is 3 Ranged and the ability.

And what an ability. Limitations, it's a combat action so you can't use it in other phases for potential shenanigans, and more significantly, it only works if you haven't engaged an enemy this round. But assuming you haven't engaged an enemy, Haldir can make an attack against any enemy not engaged with you. The primary use of this is that since it can be done in any action window in the combat phase you can use this ability to declare an attack before resolving enemy attacks, thus hopefully killing something and preventing its attack altogether. However a secondary and similarly potent option is to attack an enemy in the staging area - likewise preventing any attack it might make in the future if you kill it, and avoiding any possibly problematic consequences for engaging it. I don't actually play Haldir that often, but when I do I'm pretty much always struck by just how amazing that ability to pre-emptively kill enemies is.

Obviously to get best use out of Haldir you need to increase his to the point where he can kill enemies in one hit by himself using his ability - I mentioned the three most obvious options for getting that boost above, all in the sphere, but if you want to look elsewhere, Dúnedain Mark in , Ranger Spear in and Mirkwood Long-knife in are decent options. If you can't get enough for an instant kill, some means of throwing additional damage around can obviously make the difference - so cards like Thalin, Anborn, Argalad, Gondorian Spearman or Spear of the Citadel could work well, to pick a few examples. A potentially more involved but fun possibility is Infighting - you can use damage from another enemy to finish off the pre-emptive kill on the one Haldir attacks, or use Haldir's damage to kill a different enemy (potentially making things easier depending on the different values of the enemies); for maximum shenanigans on rounds with no new enemies you can have Haldir attack enemies caught by Forest Snares or Ranger Spikes to effectively bank damage that you can use to kill other enemies with Infighting later. Getting enough boosts for Haldir to just make one-shot kills is undoubtedly more efficient, but the point is you have options.

The one remaining aspect of this is the feasibility of avoiding engaging enemies to ensure Haldir's ability remains available every round. Sometimes in some quests you'll just get screwed over because there'll be a treachery or other encounter card effect which puts an enemy into play engaged with you, and besides cancelling the effect there's nothing you can do about that. In other cases you definitely have options though. You can obviously try to keep your threat down, though the sphere has almost no threat reduction in it so you're likely looking elsewhere. can mess with engagement costs with effects like Noiseless Movement, Take No Notice and of course Advance Warning. In general though, you are somewhat dependent on the other players in the game (who shouldn't mind taking an enemy for you if you can kill it before it attacks, of course). The problem arises if you have more enemies than players in the game and are past their engagement costs, because then you only have so many optional engagements and thus player order may force you to engage something. You can try to avoid having that many enemies in play at a time with effects like Gildor's Counsel and Quick Ears, but mostly you hope the other players have means of helping you out, of which there are a few. Halbarad can work nicely in a deck opposite Haldir, as can effects like Westfold Outrider, The Hammer-stroke, Aragorn (requiring something like Quick Strike to get the extra enemy before engagement checks), or perhaps just using Follow Me! to change the player order at a relevant moment could make the difference. Even with these, sometimes it may not work out, but it'll work a lot of the time.

Haldir was a sizeable shake-up to the meta of this game, pretty much creating his own deck archetype immediately on his release and instantly rocketing up the hero rankings as one of the best attacking heroes in the game (which he still is), that unique ability to alter the timing structure of the combat phase (not to mention attack into the staging area) really setting him apart as something truly special.

This is a great card. It can be a difficult card sometimes, since it depends on you not spending resources one round to have more the next and the things you can play right now might be really tempting, not to mention sometimes there are cases where you really need to get cards down on the table as fast as possible to deal with what the encounter deck is throwing at you. But when you can get it to work it's so good.

How it works is simple. There's nothing ambiguous about the text - each hero who didn't spend any resources gets another resource. Worth noting is that it can be targeted on any player, so if you have plenty of resources (a common enough situation for a deck), you can spread the wealth to someone else with this. Also worth noting that while in general you obviously want to use this to add 3 resources, it can still be worth it just for 2 if you have to spend one unexpectedly. At 1 it might be a bit of a waste. 3 is what you aim for though, and getting an extra round's worth of resources can be so useful. The only way I can think of to gain more than 3 resources in one go is with Zigil Miner and Hidden Cache, which takes a bit of setup (and arguably that's two resources generating effects rather than one); Legacy of Númenor gives 3 resources (to each player, not just you) but costs in threat; other resource generating effects cap out at 2. But this can give 3 resources completely free under the right circumstances. That's so good.

So the obvious context in which this card really shines is tri-sphere decks. In a tri-sphere deck, given that a lot of good cards tend to cost 2 resources, it's easy enough to find yourself in a situation where you actually can't afford to play anything with the 1 resource per hero you have, so you lose nothing by not spending, and then next round you have 3 resources on each hero and can drop a bunch of great stuff all at once. In a dual-sphere or mono-sphere setup this is still great, but it's much more likely you can actually afford to play something and thus that you are specifically delaying that play this round in order to have more options next round - a totally valid trade-off but not always an easy one to make, and often an unnecessary one. In tri-sphere though, I might even prefer this to Steward of Gondor a lot of the time. This partly comes down to deckbuilding style, but when I build tri-sphere I tend to be fairly evenly distributed among the spheres and keep everything fairly cheap - but even with everything cheap a boost doesn't hurt (especially early game), and in that case I would much rather the boost was spread evenly between my heroes than concentrated on just one of them as would be the case with Steward.

The other way you can kind of cheat extra value out of this card is by noting that its stipulation is about spending resources, not about playing cards. So anything which costs 0, before or after cost reduction, is fair game and will not invalidate your resource gain. Bill the Pony in a deck with Sam Gamgee would be an obvious example, as would a few Secrecy cards. In general this can work quite nicely with cost-reducers - though you need to be aware of the limits of different cost-reducers if you're doing this, since some specify that they only reduce to a minimum of 1. Gríma, Théoden, Damrod and Heir of Valandil all go down to 0, but Master of Lore, O Lórien! and To the Sea, to the Sea! all have that pesky "(to a minimum of 1)", so bear that in mind if you intend to use cost reducers to cheat the system with you belt tightening.

Even without means of cheating it though, this is just an amazing card and one of my favourites from the Ring-maker cycle. Always worth considering in any tri-sphere deck, and can slot into other sphere-combinations as well under the right conditions.

This is one of those cards which looks interesting at first glance, but then is very difficult to actually find a use for. That's obviously not helped by the fact it's clearly more of a co-operative thing and most often decks are built in isolation. Looking at it carefully though, there are two aspects to this card - one, the attached ally is always controlled by the first player, like most objective allies; and two, the ally can take damage from undefended attacks. So we simply need to examine how either or both of those things can be useful, what unique allies would work well with one or both of those effects. Of potential note is that the two abilities do go together reasonably well since the first player is the first to make engagement checks each round and thus is the most likely to end up with more enemies than they can deal with.

Let's examine the two aspects separately though. Firstly, the first player gains control of the ally. Well, as noted, the first player potentially gets more combat than the other players, so if this is a useful combat ally then that could come in handy. On the other hand, it could simply be an ally with some useful ability which only applies to the player who controls the ally, so passing them around the table lets everyone benefit rather than just the one player. I struggle to think of relevant allies though, with one sort of exception - Landroval's ability doesn't only benefit the controlling player, but since limit once per game checks by player, passing Landroval around the table with Defender of the West allows his ability to be triggered multiple times - most likely useful with hero Beorn dying and coming back over and over. Another interesting if somewhat niche possibility could be Firyal if you're being strict about player sequence, so all players except the first can account for Firyal's scry when they decide who to commit to the quest. Next possibility is a negative ability - OHaUH Gandalf is an incredibly powerful ally to have in play, but he raises your threat by 2 every round, so if your fellow players are willing you could use Defender of the West to spread the threat around rather than concentrating it all on you.

Another possibility is if there's something from the encounter deck which targets the first player and this ally can help with that. This can come back to the combat question of course, with boss enemies who repeatedly attack the first player, but there could be other possibilities even if I can't think of them offhand. Say if an effect would discard a card from the first player's hand you could put Defender of the West on Galdor of the Havens so they'd get to draw for it - a minor benefit but it makes the point that these benefits at least could be relevant, and of course Defender of the West only costs 1 neutral resource in the first place. And a final shenanigansy option is that Defender of the West allows you to potentially give control of an ally to someone else if you think or now that you're about to die (at which point normally you would take that ally with you). There are few options for giving control of an ally to another player, and there are some fairly powerful unique allies so this is a not insignificant bit of support you can pull off. Of course the way one can actually plan for this would be to build a shenanigansy deck with Justice Shall Be Done, guaranteeing your elimination at the end of the round, at which point if you're not going to win the quest by the end of the round your best course of action is to give away as much useful stuff as you can, so if that includes a powerful unique ally, all the better.

And now the other aspect, the ability to assign undefended damage to the ally. Well, if you know in advance that you (or whoever is first player at the time) are going to have more attacks than you can deal with, you could simply put Defender onto a cheap unique ally as an alternative to chump-blocking with them. Ioreth for example could use her ability to heal then be killed by an undefended attack, and if you have another copy then you can just play her again the next round. 1 neutral resource isn't an unreasonable cost for that, the only problem being that you have to play the attachment during Planning and may not know whether or not you need it until after the Quest phase. If you're just wanting to ease the combat load of the first player on the other hand, then you obviously want to put Defender onto a unique ally with a decent hit point pool, which rather narrows your choices. Beorn is obviously a great one with his 6 hit points, and Treebeard with 5. No other ally has more than 4 hit points, so those undefended attacks start to become more of a risk unless you have shadow cancellation or damage cancellation ready to ensure the ally survives. Or, of course, hit point boosts. I mentioned Treebeard already, and Ent Draught could be very useful to a Defender of the West to ensure their survival, plus there's synergy for damaging Ents with Booming Ent and Boomed and Trumpeted, not to mention that Beechbone could be another pretty good candidate for taking some undefended damage since it'd power up his ability. But of course Ent Draught can go on any ally, not just an Ent, and boosting any of the 4 HP allies up to 6 would make them a good target, with possibly my favourite candidate being Boromir, since he readies every time he takes damage. So if he defends an attack without taking damage you can take an undefended to get him readied up for the next attack. This approach might require quite a bit of healing, but it'd be very strong.

Returning to the question of knowing in advance that the first player will have more attacks than they can otherwise deal with, enemies that repeatedly attack the first player are perhaps the most obvious case, and they're a difficult one for undefended attacks if you want the ally to live, since generally those are powerful boss enemies, but it's not out of the question. In particular a great case could be Gollum in the two Land of Shadow quests he appears in - he attacks the first player normally in combat and also after engaging during the Refresh phase, at which point you may be reluctant to exhaust a defender and thus prefer to take it undefended. But Gollum's is only 2, so barring one shadow effect (of which there are two copies in the deck) it's pretty safe to take that undefended, but all the same you may still prefer to preserve the hit points of your heroes, so Defender of the West becomes potentially a very useful option.

All in all, yeah, Defender of the West is a tricky cards to use, but there are a few decent ways. Maybe the odd bit of basic undefended shenanigans, or Justice Shall Be Done shenanigans, but more likely build something around putting it on an ally like Landroval, Hobbit Gandalf, Beorn, Treebeard, Beechbone or Boromir, and I think the possibilities there are at least interesting enough to be worth a try from time to time.