No reviews for the best ally in the game? This shall not stand!

Ally Glorfindel (titled so to differentiate him from the other Glorfindels) is a 5-cost unique ally, though you can reduce his cost using To the Sea, to the Sea! His text box also means that you can discard him to To the Sea, to the Sea! to reduce his own cost as you can play him from your discard pile. In exchange for that not-insignificant resource outlay, you get a 3/3/1/4 ally, making his stats just 1 fewer than his hero variants'. He also features built-in readying, with a cost that can be easily circumvented.

However, the heaviest cost of ally Glorfindel is his opportunity cost; by including him, you pass up Spirit Glorfindel the First as well as the potential to spend the 5 resources you needed to play him on other cards, such as Pelargir Shipwright or Knight of Belfalas. Is any card, even a 3/3/1/4 ally with built-in readying, worth passing up the cheapest hero in the game (in all meanings of the word) and the 2-3 other cards you could've played if you hadn't played ally Glorfindel?

Not necessarily, but those things aren't actually what make Glorfindel the best ally in the game. What does is actually that simple first line of text on his text box, "Glorfindel can be played from your discard pile." That simple line of text turns Glorfindel from a good ally (who might not be worth passing a great hero up for) into a game-breaking monstrosity. Suddenly, the sphere with the least healing or pseudo-healing options suddenly has the biggest pool of any sphere, because no matter how many times Glorfindel dies, if you can pay for him (and even a mono- deck will want to include some resource acceleration if it includes Glorfindel, so you stand a good chance of being able to pay for him) you can just keep bringing him back.

Combine these two parts of the card-the impressive statline and readying and the infinite recurability-and you have an ally that, if you can find a way to pay for him, is worth every penny. Glorfindel can quest for 3, take some damage during the quest phase, then either ready to counteract during the combat phase, ready to chump during the combat phase, or simply soak some archery. Typically, destroying a 5 cost ally is not a good move, but Glorfindel is no typical ally, and destroying him can actually be a boon in some situations, allowing you to put him back into play fully healed so that he can soak up archery again.

And all of this is assuming that you simply use Glorfindel as an overglorified sponge. He can do a lot more than that, from turning cards in your hand into extra characters committed to the various 'tests' that come up occasionally in quests (i.e.; Sailing tests from Dream-chaser and Escape tests from the Dead Marshes) to rocketing his stats even higher using cards like Raiment of War or Narya to become a monster in the combat phase. He even has value when he's in your hand, allowing you to confidently discard him without fear of losing something you might need later. And, of course, no review of a high-cost ally with built-in readying would be complete without mentioning A Very Good Tale.

Glorfindel may be expensive, but he is worth every penny. 3 is impressive even in , 3 is mind-boggling there, and 4 is impressive on an ally anywhere. His readying is fairly cheap and can even make other copies of himself that you draw useful. But it's the ability to play Glorfindel from your discard pile that seals the deal, at its worst allowing you to discard him to satisfy some cost or effect and not worry about having lost something you might need, at its best allowing you to laugh in the face of direct damage provided you have enough resource acceleration. If you manage to set Glorfindel up properly, you'll easily find the keyword he actually really, really deserves.

Expensive so really requires setup to make sure you maximize it.

Tactics Eowyn, Hammer Stroke, and this lets you defeat just about every enemy on the board though so the possibilities are out there.

The Valour Action can be incredibly good too in a big fellowship, one strong sentinel defender like Beregond and 1 or 2 ranged attackers can both defend and then help clean up the board.

Raiment of War is quite possibly one of the best attachments to come out of the Dream-Chaser cycle, not including the box. Granted, against In Service of the Steward and Hithlain that isn't particularly notable, but I would say it even holds up against the likes of Armored Destrier and Strider.

Raiment of War is, at 2 cost, a relatively affordable card, though its real cost is its opportunity cost. To be precise, what restricted attachments do you forego by playing Raiment of War on someone?

I would argue that, for most heroes, Raiment of War is not worth this cost; Beregond hits higher with a Gondorian Shield and can take another restricted card, Amarthiúl cares more about the quantity of defenses you can make with him as opposed to the quality so Armored Destrier is better, Gimli prefers Citadel Plate, and Beorn can't have attachments at all. While it could be interesting on Boromir, the fact of the matter is the majority of the time your heroes will prefer restricted attachments that provide a more specialized stat boost as opposed to Raiment of War's general one, and typically can find them.

But what if they can't?

This is where a key word in Raiment of War's text box shows its quality; "Attach to a Warrior character." Not a Warrior hero, a Warrior character, meaning it can go on allies. Allies who can only take about half the Weapons in the game and less than half the Armors. In short, allies who by taking Raiment of War pass up very little else. While Ered Mithrin has dulled some of Raiment of War's shine in this aspect by introducing more restricted attachments allies can take, like Round Shield, Raiment of War is still a solid choice for taking up the restricted slots of an ally who would otherwise have nothing: Defender of Rammas doesn't die to "Deal 1 damage to defending character" shadows anymore, Jubayr becomes even more indestructible, Guardian of Rivendell reaches eye-popping combat stats, Defender of the Naith actually becomes worthwhile to ready, and Knight of the White Tower reaches a stat total that would, if on a hero, make them tie with Gandalf for starting threat.

Raiment of War is overall a lot like the decision to send the Ring into Mordor to be destroyed; choosing it may end up being the right decision, but it is a decision primarily made because the chooser has nowhere else to turn. If the Council of Elrond had had the capability, they probably wouldn't have chosen to send the Ring into Mordor, instead opting for a less-risky route, just like Raiment of War is typically passed over once more specialized restricted attachments are made available. But, for most allies, as with the Council, they don't have that capability, and so make do with what they have. And, just like the Council's decision, sometimes this decision can prove to be a very wise one.

Good for Gimli —

First off, am I the only person who's annoyed that Deorwine's shadow cancellation is an Action whereas every other shadow cancelling card in the game is a Response? Hasty Stroke is, Erkenbrand is and is also more weirdly worded, A Burning Brand is (hey, one card from each sphere), but Deorwine, for some reason, isn't. Does he even, strictly speaking, work, then? Do you have the action window to cancel the shadow card, or does Deorwine's text box basically just read "Sentinel?"

Assuming that Deorwine does work properly, aside from the annoyance at the inconsistency, Deorwine is an amazing ally. 4 isn't cheap, but you're getting your money's worth, especially if Santa decides that you deserve a present (cost reduction) for being good this year. Deorwine is clearly a defensive ally from his stat spread, and his text box further emphasizes this with sentinel (a keyword I personally think underutilized in the game) and an action that allows you to cancel shadow effects during attacks Deorwine's defending. However, this shadow cancellation comes at a cost, in the form of having to spend a resource.

On a whole, the Dream-chaser cycle's theme of cards that have abilities that require spending resources from different spheres are a mixed bag; Arrows from the Trees is almost unplayable just due to how restrictive it is, Hold the Line is pretty bad, while Heed the Dream is the best event in the game if you can pay the 3 . Personally, I find that Deorwine leans more towards the stronger end of the spectrum as far as the multi-sphere cards go, especially because of the fact that any player can spend the resource to trigger his ability. So, while you can include for Steward of Gondor so you can drop Deorwine faster and trigger his ability yourself or engage 2 enemies allowing Amarthiúl to do the same, you can also go mono- and let a partner deck focus on paying for the ability.

But should you put all that effort into triggering his ability? Yes, 100%. Unlimited Hasty Strokes while you're defending with a character with Denethor's bulk is nothing to sneeze at, as it makes it so that, so long as your group has a resource kicking around when Deorwine defends, you can block an enemy with 5 or less and not care what shadow it gets. No +X , no additional attacks, no surprisingly annoying "exhaust a character," just turn Deorwine 90 degrees sideways and do the math. This isn't the most useful in Dream-chaser due to the usually weak shadows, but in other cycles and especially Saga it can prove lifesaving. Ringwraith engages the questing deck and makes an immediate attack? No thank you. Discard Deorwine from play due to Sudden Pitfall? No, you mean cancel Sudden Pitfall due to Deorwine. Deorwine's power only increases the worse shadows get.

However, Deorwine is also able to get his power increased using two of my favorite cards from Dream-chaser: Narya and Raiment of War. I could wax lyrical about Narya all day, but Deorwine is one of the best examples of its power, turning from an okay defending ally with in-built shadow cancellation to a 4 wall that can help counter-attack in a pinch or defend twice without having to worry about shadows if you have the resources. With a kicking around (a sphere that, coincidentally, Narya provides its bearer) and Narya's boosts, Deorwine can defend an enemy with 6 and live, and do it again and again if you have healing. There are literally 28 enemies in the game with high-enough printed to get around this. Raiment of War, on the other hand, only gives you one use out of Deorwine, but that one use is strong enough to survive the printed of all but 2 enemies in the game. Combine these two cards together and you turn Deorwine into a beast, able to defend twice for 5 and 5 or defend once and counter-attack for a respectable 3 . And any defenses you make still have his built-in Hasty Stroke.

Deorwine is not for every deck. He's expensive, and he requires a fair bit of support to reach his full potential. But if you provide him with that support, you'll find a gem of a card, one who provides you with peace of mind during the defending portion of the combat phase.

His action does work because it triggers while Deorwine is defending. It can trigger at any point in the attack. —

I like cards that take a bit of nuance to use well, and I find this one the most difficult to trigger consistently among the three “top of discard” allies. Sailor of Lune is easy to trigger if you use Elven-light, Elrond's Counsel, or any other willpower-boosting event in the quest phase. Mithlond Sea-watcher is easy to trigger if you chump-block. Warden of the Havens though needs an attachment you can discard on-demand to get his ability to trigger more consistently. Here are some ideas:

Cram: In-sphere, free, trigger when you want. Miruvor: 1 cost, more flexible, trigger when you want. Grey Cloak: Free, sort of works against the idea of defending by avoiding an enemy, but since you’d get sentinel you could still block while another player engages.

Any location attachment that would go to your discard after exploring a location in the quest phase.

Any healing attachment, like Athelas, Lembas, Healing Herbs

Any of the four Record attachments, like Tome of Atanatar.