To be blunt, Grappling Hook is not a good card if you want to reliably quest; it's a one-use attachment, in the sphere with the worst attachment recursion ( has Erebor Hammersmith, has Second Breakfast, and has Dwarven Tomb; even has better recursion, thanks to The White Council.)

But, if you don't use it to reliably quest, but more like Secret Paths or Radagast's Cunning, as a break-glass-in-case-of-emergency boost, that's when it shows its quality. Attach it to Marksman of Lórien or Legolas, and you've got an emergency 3 "" character you can use to boost your questing a bit. More importantly, you can use it after staging. The flexibility here is incredible; you attach this to, like I said, Legolas, and you can quest for 3 with him in an emergency-or you can hold onto it, and use him in combat. This is where Grappling Hook really starts to shine; it allows you to quest lighter than you usually would, but still have peace of mind that you won't fail questing, at least not horribly. For instance, everyone knows that you beat Conflict at the Carrock by turtling until you're ready to kill the trolls, which means controlling your questing is key. But Conflict includes Wilderlands, which means you could be dealing with a random Brown Lands that completely messes up your questing calculations. So you have to quest for enough, but not too much. Or, you could be looking to clear a lot of enemies out of the staging area, and want to hold, say, Círdan the Shipwright back from the quest so that he can use Narya come the combat phase (assume he can't do both because Unexpected Courage is playing hide-and-seek with you, lurking near the bottom of your deck alongside Steward of Gondor.) So that's 4 you want to hold back, at least-but you also don't want to fail questing, so that you raise your Threat as little as possible. What do you do in these situations? Quest lightly, and have a character with Grappling Hook. You can hold them back for combat if the staging area stays manageable, but if too much comes up, just exhaust them and discard Grappling Hook to mitigate that. The ability to commit to the quest after staging is rare and understated, but simply incredible; it allows you to easily control your questing, and dodge all those annoying "...each character committed to the quest..." effects.

So, as a safety valve to help prevent you from underquesting, Grappling Hook is good-but a game is seldom won by sitting Behind Strong Walls. Grappling Hook can help minimize, or even prevent, a Threat raise due to failed questing, but what about placing progress by questing successfully? That requires a bit more specialization, but is still quite manageable.

First off, as mentioned earlier, you can put Grappling Hook on any old character with 2 , one of the many, or one of the fewer ones that have 3 , at which point Grappling Hook turns them into a quite solid quester. But there are ways to use Grappling Hook to place even more progress on the quest. Way more progress.

Something quite nice about Grappling Hook is that, since it uses the character's instead of their , any boosts to their get carried over to their when you use Grappling Hook. This means that Grappling Hook can hit some pretty incredible numbers for questing, though it does require some deckbuilding. For instance; Gimli equipped with a Grappling Hook is downright monstrous; at base, he can quest for 2, which is solid-but that only goes up. Maxed out on damage, Grappling Hook causes you to quest for 6-2 more than the famous Éowyn. With a Citadel Plate and 4 more damage, you quest for 2.5 TIMES the Lady of Rohan's output. Add another Citadel Plate, expensive as that may be, and 4 more damage, and you're questing for more than the 3 highest heroes in the game, COMBINED. Vigilant Guard adds 2 more , and a safer way to get that damage on Gimli. If you're after cheaper boosts, Gimli's a Dwarf, making him eligible for Dwarrowdelf Axe-and Khazâd! Khazâd!, allowing you to spend 0 for +3 . Another Dwarf who's an interesting target for Grappling Hook is Erebor Battle Master; he's still eligible for Khazâd! Khazâd! and Dwarrowdelf Axe, as well as having an innate attack boost that's arguably easier to activate than Gimli's. This is just the tip of the iceberg; not only has several characters with good , it also has quite a few who can reach mountainously high ; Grappling Hook allows you to turn these boss-killers into quest-killers. Éowyn, Éomer, Eagles of the Misty Mountains, Beorn, Booming Ent, Fornost Bowman... and that's just the characters who can hit levels that stupefy one to see. Gondorian Fire, Elven Spear, and even Keeping Count could be useful if you want to go all-in on boosts.

Overall, Grappling Hook does not allow to quest; it allows to help quest, either by minimizing the amount the quest is lost by or placing so much progress on it in a quest push that it makes the Outlands player's head spin. If you want the latter, it may take some specialization, but even without it, an additional 2 or 3 is very nice to see, even for one turn. The best thing about Grappling Hook is it does what Trained for War does; it allows one character to turn their martial strength to questing strength, and the role switch, I feel, is more easily stomached by one character than multiple. I didn't even touch on its ability to allow you to dodge Siege, partially because I haven't played any quests with it. Overall, while Grappling Hook by no means is an auto-include for decks, one which focuses on turning one character into a boss-killer might want to take a look at this as a way to use their when their foes lie dead about them. If you're looking for things to fill your last few deck slots in a deck with plenty of concentrated in a few characters and access to , you could do worse than throwing this in; at the very least, the thematic feel of throwing a grappling hook 'cross the battlefield and pulling yourself along with it while, hopefully, raining progress is quite fun. This is not to say that this card is thematic at the expense of power; like Keeping Count once you draw your second copy, it feels thematic, but is still a force to be reckoned with if you use it right. Put this in a deck with a strong boss-killer, or even one with even a few of 3 characters, and I have a feeling that you'll have a pleasant surprise one quest phase.

You could also just include a copy for a one round YOLO quest with a big hero just for fun. —
The last word of your comment aptly describes the best thing about Grappling Hook; whatever its power level, it's a boatload of fun to use. —
To true! —

Secret Paths is one of those cards which I always add, when play heavy location scenario. In specific situation it can actually (and also did) save my game. For one resource you will ignore location threat, which can be any number. Another cheap and effective card for your side board. Nice artwork. Verdict: 4/5.

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I'd personally say that it's worth including, regardless of whether or not you're playing a location heavy scenario; in higher player counts, odds are good that at least one location is going to be in the staging area, meaning that you're most likely going to have a target for this. Spending 1 Lore resource for +X Willpower, where X is the Threat of the highest Threat location in the staging area, is quite the fair trade off, I'd say. —

Radagast's Cunning is a very good card, which can for one resource provide cancellation of unlimited number of threat assigned to one enemy, including the boost of it as it in case of Hunters from Mordor. its not exactly card for the main deck (or the most important 50 cards), but definitely it should be part of side board, for specific scenarios it can work very well. Artwork is excellent. Verdict: 4/5.

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Explorer's Almanac, IMO, is the epitome of 'Bad attachments that attach to locations.' It provides a constant bonus that can be better provided by Northern Tracker, and it goes away even faster than Power in the Earth and Guarded Ceaselessly. It's not completely useless-I can see it being useful in quests where you don't need to make progress, like Three Trials, and Haldan is going to love this-but it's pretty close. It gets you out of location lock by questing successfully, except isn't that what location lock prevents you from doing? It's vastly inferior to Northern Tracker, it's worse at its job of location control than Power in the Earth (which isn't that bad, IMO,) and is just overall a card too niche to see the light of day.

This is actually not a bad card when you think about it. I probably wouldn’t let it take up deck space, but it’s free. Think about it this way: in a four player game, locations are piling up. You travel to and make active two locations (and avoid any travel effects). It can be game-saving in multiplayer to get rid of extra locations. This card doesn’t replace Northern Tracker, but it’s still great. For zero resources you can nuke an extra location at the small cost of a couple progress. —
I'm actually warming up to this. The main targets I can think of for this are high threat locations, which you'll either want to travel to or get rid of via direct progress effects, some of which snipe that location off before the next planning phase, when you could play the almanac, or, at which point I can see a use for this, locations with low threat, high quest points, and bad effects, like the Approach from Cair Andros, Sinking Bog from Nin, Broken Battlements from Lost Realm... Now that I think about it, it's not that Almanac is bad, it's just niche. Very niche, yes, but niche like Power of Orthanc; nigh-worthless in half the games you play, but very, very nice in the other half. —
In my opinion, its main use is to squeeze past impending location lock in a four player game. It's definitely better than Power in the Earth. Hey, do you think Haldan's location attachment archetype will revitalize cards like this, PitE, Hithlain, and Guarded Ceaselessly? —
Actually, I think PitE and this are two cards with vastly different purposes; PitE is meant to help break you out of location lock/quest, hopefully by targeting a location like Endless Caverns from Dol Guldur that you want to just ignore for the game (if it weren't for the forced travel, the East Bight would be another great example) while the Almanac is made to allow you to dodge location lock preemptively and bad Travel/While Active effects, in exchange for being a more temporary questing boost. As for Haldan, I personally think he's going to give this a bit of a boost, maybe PitE, honestly, I don't think he's going to give Hithlain a big boost, but Guarded Ceaselessly is pretty much going to be an auto-3X in Haldan deck's; it just says attach to a location, so (assuming you can quest for enough,) it's basically a 0-cost event that says "Response; after passing the active location, draw a card." Sure, that's in the sphere with Daeron's Runes, but still, card draw is card draw. —
Good points! With Guarded Ceaselessly really only trims down deck space, though, since the card draw just replaces itself. Of course, there are cards that get boosts when locations have attachments, like the ally spoiled in Fire in the Night. —

Cirdan the Shipwright is an amazing hero; sure, his starting threat's high, but he's worth it.

First, ignoring the text box, those stats are quite good. He ties Eowyn and Galadriel for , but has more than the lady of Rohan and doesn't require his ring like the lady of Lorien. More importantly, with readying and quite a few other cards, his other stats aren't wasted. If you have Elfhelm in play and manage to get Narya and Unexpected Courage or some other form of quest readying on him, Armored Destrier turns him into a serviceable defender (my brother also realized that Silver Lamp plus those other attachments could work; find out which enemy doesn't have the bad shadow, defend it, Destrier the other(s).) However, that's a lot of work to get use out of 2 base ; it's not necessarily good, especially with a larger card pool, but for people just starting out, it works surprisingly well. Just with his base stats, 4 is still as good as it was in the Core Set, 2 and 2 means he's not totally helpless come combat, even without turning him into Voltron, and 4 makes him a sturdy pinch-defender, as well as a good damage soak.

Then we reach his text box; effectively, you forgo drawing a card at the start of the turn-in exchange for playing a copy of Daeron's Runes. It is as good as it sounds. Sure, you have to discard a card from hand, but if you have Silver Harp it's not a problem, if you have Elven-light it's actually a plus, and the rest of the time you can probably find something you're willing to toss. Sure, there can be those painful "Steward of Gondor, Unexpected Courage, or Narya?" moments, but those are surprisingly few and far between. The rest of the time, you draw two, pitch a card from your hand, and smile as you draw your crucial cards two times faster.

Another awesome thing about Cirdan's ability is it actually allows you to fairly well play a > 50 card deck. With a regular hero lineup (excluding Erestor,) you draw through your deck in 43 turns, maybe less if you have card draw effects. With Cirdan, you draw through a 50 card deck in 23 turns. He cuts the amount of turns it takes to burn through your deck (and, logically, the amount of turns it takes you to find the 3 copies of Steward of Gondor on the bottom of your deck,) almost in half. With a 60 card deck, 3 regular heroes takes you 53 turns to draw through; Cirdan slashes that to 28, less than the time it takes a standard 50 card deck to draw through itself. It's only when you start getting into the high 60s that you start having consistency issues, I've found. It is as nuts as it sounds.

And that's not counting his ring; sure, you need readying to get use out of it and his , but that's a small cost for two ally readies, especially because ally readying has the potential to be even more ridiculous than hero readying. Sure, hero readying can make Beregond defend for 6 multiple times, or Gimli vaporize multiple enemies-but you don't always need that can be expressed as a cube, or that has multiple digits; sometimes, good ol' fashioned 6 and 4 will suffice. However, ally readying provides other things than strong stats; as I said in my review for the ring itself, you can ready 's support allies to use them again, boost Warden of Helm's Deep to a very nice 4 , use Beorn's ability and ready him to downright murder two enemies, and, most importantly, never, except in situations where you're either A. doing horrible or B. the encounter deck pulled off a combo that shouldn't exist, even with A Test of Will in the card pool, lose questing again, because some genius thought Faramir shouldn't have a frequency limit.

Overall, even without his ring, Cirdan the Shipwright is an amazing hero, one who I would personally say, while nowhere near as splashable as Galadriel or Glorfindel, can still work well in more decks than you'd expect. He has strong stats which you can either work to use well or just ignore and focus on his , a fantastic ability, and the potential to dramatically up the power of your deck's allies with two attachments (the deck slots they take up not being as big an issue as you'd fear because of his card draw.) While he won't work in every deck, unlike 's other three Noldor heroes, the Shipwright of the Grey Havens is no weakling; he does have hindrances, (his high Threat, chiefly,) but those are the parts of the oyster shell around this pearl of the sea. Men of Harad, long-limbed Ent, grey-eyed knight of Dol Amroth, and many others besides would cheer to see this Shipwright among their captains, with his will leading the way, his deep knowledge honing them, and the Ring of Fire upon his finger redoubling the courage in their hearts. Be careful with who you give Narya to, as Cirdan wisely gave it to Olorin, and you will find your strength trebled as Mithrandir and his allies did.

And the art is quite good, too; that beard is a work of beauty that even the Sons of Durin would appreciate.

Cirdan's ability is fantastic, but just to clarify, it's not "draw 2 cards and discard any 1 card from your hand," which your review suggests a couple of times. Instead, it's "draw 2 cards, then discard one of those 2 cards." Much more limited but still fantastic for accelerating through your deck. It begs for deck scrying like Imladris Stargazer (which is nicely in-trait and in-sphere for him). —
Welp, I've been using Cirdan wrong. Still great, though. —