First off let me preface by saying that I think Elrohir and Elladan are highly underrated heroes. Yes they require their brother to be in play to be playable but so long as that is the case they can be absolutely fantastic heroes. More so than any other combat heroes except perhaps Boromir they highly reward you for piling up attachments on them thanks to their inbuilt readying. Thanks to this inbuilt ability Elladan or Elrohir alone can defend against or attack and potentially destroy several enemies in one round. Because they have fantastic starting combat stats (3 attack or defense) getting extra actions out of them can almost be compared to having an additional hero. For a single leadership or tactics resource it is sort of like having an additional 3 attack or defense strength hero for the round (obviously not exactly the same as you cannot attack enemies more than once with Elladan etc). So long as you have them buffed with attachments it can be like having an additional 5 attack or defense strength hero! Even without a single attachment they can still do what no other hero can without readying attachments, defend or attack several times in one round.

I think that some of the obvious restrictions when using these two heroes are what lead people to underestimate the pair. Due to their abilities being quite resource intensive you obviously need to use a deck with lots of low cost cards when running the brothers together. You need to find a perfect balance between using their resources to play cards and using their resources to activate their abilities. This can be difficult but also adds an extra layer of planning and strategy to a deck which isn't necessarily a bad thing and might be ideal for some players. It isn't just a matter of playing cards as soon as you can or as soon as possible you really need to weigh up the use of your resources and whether you will need or want additional combat actions from the twins.

Steward of Gondor/The Day's Rising are both no-brainers on Elrohir so that you always have plenty of resources to get additional actions. The Day's Rising does require Sentinel but there is so much incentive to get Sentinel on Elrohir in multiplayer to begin with so that he can block for ANY PLAYER multiple times that this is inconsequential. He can also receive Heir of Mardil as he has the noble trait (this also means Captain's Wisdom and other noble targeted cards can affect him as well!). Dunedain Warning, Gondorian Shield (which combos with Steward), Dunedain Signal, Armoured Destrier, Elven Mail and Cloak of Lorien are all amazing attachments for Elrohir as well. So many nice attachments work well on him which means you not only have plenty of choice for what you want to put on him but you can include several of these cards in your deck to draw them more consistently and have the option to build him into an absolute wall of defense.

The Twins can be paired with Noldor Discard decks as they get boosted by cards like Lords of the Eldar, Tale of Tinuviel etc and both have the Ranger trait as well so can receive cards like Wingfoot etc and can be exhausted to pay for all the various player cards that need a Ranger character as well. The vast amount of choices and cards you can play on them or target them with is astounding. They can be used in Dunedain decks (defending/attacking multiple enemies per turn is perfect for a Dunedain build that wants multiple enemies engaged), Noldor decks, decks built around them, Ranger decks, Grey Company decks etc. Their two spheres tactics and leadership cover the vast majority of cards you want to actually use in conjunction with them as well which is ideal. The fact that they are so much better in multiplayer however means that other players can bring spirit or lore decks to play cards like Cloak and UC on them if you cannot. Can't think of any better target for receiving Ranged than Elladan and cannot think of a better target for receiving sentinel than Elrohir when playing multiplayer.

I think that Elladan is definitely the weaker of the two considering multiple and/or emergency defenses are almost always going to be more valuable than additional attacks as defense is integral to stop characters from falling in battle or heroes dying from undefended attacks and damage. That being said I think that they both have immense value. As a final note I would like to provide an example in which Elrohir is at a level that I believe no other defensive hero can get to. Lets say you have Steward, Shield, two Dunedain Warnings, Elven Mail and Cloak of Lorien attached. Elrohir can defend across the board with sentinel with a defense value of 8 (9 if the active location is a forest) and can keep defending for each resource you pay. It requires a hell of a lot of setup but he becomes near unstoppable. Lets say you went one step further and put Song of Wisdom and Burning Brand on him. Bye bye shadow cards and effects! Now yes you can achieve a similar effect with other defensive heroes by attaching cards like UC or Destrier to get additional actions and defense. This means that you can't then play those nice readying attachments on questing or offensive heroes however and you are never going to top the fact there is no limit on Elrohirs ability. Beregond even with 3 UC's attached is still limited to defending four attacks, Elrohir with 6 resources can defend a whopping seven attacks.

Even though I recently retired the Twins in my decks I will always have a soft spot for them. They are highly underrated heroes that can more or less lock down and keep control over combat on their own when paired up. They combo nicely with so many other heroes, builds and player cards that you always have plenty of options when using them and can even have them in play in different decks but still gain their buffs and fantastic contributions.

I recently built a deck with the brothers specifically for a nightmare quest, and they were pretty good! They are, indeed, underused... —
I definitely agree that these two can get overlooked. Obviously, the fact that they need to be used together to work properly means they won't get splashed in any decks, so really require a deck to be built around them. When you do though, it can lead to some really fun play experiences. —

Star Brooch is a card I loved from the moment I first saw it, even though it's reception was pretty cold in the rest of the community (who doesn't seem to initially like cards unless they are OP and can apply to every deck/scenario). My first impression was how the card art, flavor text, and ability perfectly captured the spirit of the Dunedain, the wandering descendents of ancient Numenorean kings. It is steadfast and vigilant, yet concealed in it's power and heritage...which is displayed when engaging the foes of the West.

Thematic win aside, I also really love cards that have conditional value. It's like they are saying "I bring great value for cost, but you need to build a deck around me and find a way to unlock my power". I personally wish that the majority of cards in this game were designed in such a way, as it would make decks more unique and keep deck building fresh and interesting. But enough gushing, let's take a look at the actual mechanics of this card.

A permanent +1 boost is very good value no matter who you are. It out classes cards like The Favor of the Lady and Dúnedain Quest instantly in cost/value, although The Favor of the Lady is less conditional and Dúnedain Quest can be shifted, so those cards are probably more precisely "different but equal". The only card that really outmatches it completely in value is Celebrían's Stone. However, Celebrían's Stone comes with it's own limitations in that it is both unique and restricted, while Star Brooch is neither. Indeed, I think that these two cards are complimentary, and the decks that I build that include Star Brooch also tend to include Celebrían's Stone. The secondary ability definitely more conditional, as I can only think of a handful of scenarios that reduce willpower, but it really just adds more value to the card in highly conditional situations and is really, really nice on the rare occasions it applies!

Clearly, the primary home for Star Brooch is Dunedain decks. The condition of having an enemy engaged is not that restrictive in these decks, since a Dunedain deck really isn't pulling it's weight anyway unless it spends most of the game engaged to atleast 2 enemies. It does take a little bit of crafty building since Dunedain decks tend to be primarily and , and focused more so on combat than quest progression. However, I have discovered that Dunedain decks can also be quite good in the questing role, as long as you are able to keep atleast two enemies engaged and are able to deal with their attacks and shadow effects. Star Brooch pairs well in a deck with Warden of Annúminas, even though it can't directly attach to this ally. I have found that Halbarad is the best target for Star Brooch, as when engaged with enemies he enjoys the ability to quest without exhausting, and it gets crazy when Halbarad is loaded up with Star Brooch and Celebrían's Stone and is questing for 5 every round without exhausting!

Great card, and fun to build a deck around, and very thematic to boot.

One of my favourite cards from the Core Set. Pretty easy to explain why as well. The erstwhile Snowbourn Scout was for a long time the archetypal chump blocker, and sometimes you just need a wimpy ally to lay down their life for the cause. As the card pool has expanded and we've gotten more and better defensive options, that need for chumps has lessened, but even now good old Snowbourn can be hard to leave out. People tend to focus more on strong defenders now but sometimes plans go out the window and it's nice to still have something expendable to fall back on.

Beyond that, the only significant question is why the Snowbourn Scout was and sometimes arguably still is the best chump in the game? Well, first off, he costs 1. There are a grand total of 13 allies in the game at this point which cost 1. Two of them have that frustrating text "Cannot attack or defend" so they can't be chumps. So options are limited for really cheap chumps. On top of that, the Snowbourn Scout places a point of progress when he enters play, so he still serves a purpose even if he doesn't have to die. A purpose that can fit usefully into any deck that can play him, unlike some of the others who may be more specific. And because his ability is an enters play and his only stat point is 1 /1 you're not losing anything by getting him killed, unlike, say Henamarth Riversong.

Honestly, the only option to really compete with the Snowbourn Scout for the position of a dedicated chump flexible enough to fit into any deck that can play him is the Squire of the Citadel. But even there, while a lot of people would consider the Squire to have supplanted the Scout, I still prefer the Scout's point of progress to the Squire's extra resource. For one thing, the resource can only go to Gondor heroes, and you don't always have one. Granted, Steward is in the same sphere and gives the trait to anyone, but then there's a question of the sequence you draw things, and also if you have Steward do you really need the 1 additional resource? Even if you do have natural Gondor heroes, again Steward may well give you all the resources you need, so often I'd prefer the progress. A final niche point is that in an emergency you could just Sneak Attack your Scout to clear a location in a hurry. Certainly not something you plan for, but an extra option. That little bit of location control should not be underestimated and is worth paying for in my opinion, especially in the rich sphere.

So here's to the Snowbourn Scout. May he rest in peace.

#envoy —
Another cheap ally that can chump is the Envoy of Pelargir -- it costs two, but immediately returns a resource to a noble or Gondor hero, so can be used for resource smoothing. However, Envoy has 1 wp and 1 attack, so it is useful for more than chumping. —

One of my favourite early heroes, and a sorely under-rated one. The reason I like him is simple - I like it when decks work co-operatively together, and I like readying effects. The reason he's good is that those two things I just mentioned can be incredibly powerful.

Now there are ways to make Brand insanely powerful, namely by combining him with Merry on the other side of the table. They attack and kill something engaged with the Merry player, Merry readies Brand, Brand readies Merry, and they do it again. But even outside of this niche ridiculous case, the extra action you gain from Brand can often be key to finishing off one more enemy than you otherwise could, which I would consider more valuable in terms of establishing a foothold against the encounter deck than the 2 progress you'd get from Legolas (Brand's primary competition for the 3 Ranged slot). Of course this is not universal, sometimes you can kill everything anyway, but then, if the enemies are well under control, you can use Brand to ready characters like Denethor or Henamarth Riversong for scrying; Beravor for card draw; Argalad to throw a point of direct damage into the staging area; Warden of Healing for... well, for healing; Elrond for Vilya. There's a lot of value that can potentially be gained by getting an additional action even right at the end of the combat phase. Alternatively, if you use Quick Strike and Brand can get the kill on his own then you can get that action earlier, if perhaps you need another defender in a hurry. Returning to my earlier parenthesised comparison, I should make it clear that I definitely agree Legolas is good. The ability is powerful and he's low threat. But I do think he's a bit over-rated, and the case can definitely be made for using Brand instead in some contexts (especially because ally Legolas is a brilliant option for decks now).

The biggest knock against Brand is that unfortunately pretty much all of the best weapons are specific to elves. It wouldn't be unreasonable to make Brand an Elf-friend specifically in order to kit him out with Rivendell Bow and Bows of the Galadhrim since they fit perfectly with his ability and he's much more likely to get that kill if he has 8 . Without such shenanigans however, there's always Dagger of Westernesse (since you want enemies to engage other players, you may be deliberately keeping your threat down and therefore get the full +2) and the old faithful Dúnedain Mark, which handily is also not restricted, allowing you to either stack more boosts or get more potential readies out of Brand by giving him a Rohan Warhorse or two.

Building around Brand can potentially be a lot like building around Haldir of Lórien - you want enemies to engage everyone else rather than you so his ability will be useful. So keeping your threat down is obviously good, perhaps playing with engagement costs via effects such as Pippin, Take No Notice, Noiseless Movement, etc, other decks with engagement effects like Westfold Outrider, Tireless Hunters, The Hammer-stroke, etc, and perhaps also including more Ranged and Sentinel characters in your deck to just handle combat in general from the other side of the table. Brand is probably going to be at his best in a context where multiple players build co-operatively to have the engagements fall out the way you want and to ensure he has good targets for readying, but even without that he can still be well worth it if you build it right just on basic assumptions about other players' decks.

The art is weird and he inexplicably lacks the Noble trait despite being a King, but Brand Son of Bain (Son of Bard) is nevertheless a strong hero in the right deck and not to be underestimated.