I consider this card somewhat under-rated, which might surprise people - I'm sure people would agree this card is incredibly powerful. The thing is, despite that fact, I very rarely see it used in decks. I think the reasons for that are on one hand that it's much more a multiplayer thing and on the other that people have a knee-jerk negative reaction to the Doomed keyword. Doomed 3 is a tricky prospect to sell people on I'll grant you, but for the effect it's well worth it. Well, one more point is that it works best if the damage is well spread so it's good for lots of direct damage, not for just taking bits of damage defending attacks.

So, problem one, multiplayer. Fairly obvious, this is a global healing effect, more players, more healing. Of course Doomed affects all players but you get better value for the resources. Also, with more players more damage will happen because you're revealing more cards, so you have more of a need for said healing. A solo game against even a quest which is pretty heavy on direct damage, you can get out a bunch of allies and have a comfortable buffer of hit points away from losing anyone, but get up to 4 players you have four times the characters in play and yet you end up having to kill them all over the place. The way quests(/encounter cards) scale into multiplayer is a whole separate subject for debate though. The fact is it does work this way, and given that, you need healing. If a quest really lays on the damage, more usual methods of healing may well fall behind, but this is a complete reset button. However much damage there is, it's all gone. 3 resources and 3 Doomed is a small price to pay in those circumstances. Furthermore, having that reset button available can save you putting more into continually healing. Problem 2, knee-jerk reaction to the Doomed, wel I just said it's a small price to pay in the circumstances, and it should also be noted that this is an effect which you can't really get through other means, except perhaps for an extortionate number of resources - these being the two areas in which Doomed cards really shine.

The final point really covers the biggest aspect of how I feel this card really should be used. If your defender is just a bit too flimsy to keep tanking all the enemies so bits of damage get through, then cheaper repeatable healing is a better idea. But if you're playing a quest with lots of archery and/or direct damage treacheries and/or additional direct damage from other enemies, shadow effects and locations; where all this damage is under your control and you can keep taking it exactly as you like and no character will die unless you specifically choose to put that last damage token on them up to their hit points; then this card can absolutely blow quests out of the water. Managing that build-up of damage would usually be an ongoing struggle as it mounts up, but Waters of Nimrodel is the nuclear option, wiping the slate completely clean so you can start the whole process over again from a more powerful position than when you did it the first time. It's a truly amazing card in the right circumstances.

I think that Doom cards compensate for all those good multiplayer cards for solo players. Comboed with Loragorn, you can abuse them. —

This is a tricky card, but probably better than it's given credit for. A significant point in this respect is that we find another of those cases wherein a card might be a lot better were it not for the existence of an earlier released card which is arguably too good - in this case Elrond's Counsel. Of course it's possible for Free to Choose to reduce your threat by more than the 3 you get from Counsel, but in practice most encounter card effects which raise your threat won't do so by more than 2, on top of which Free to Choose doesn't give you a boost.

Let's consider the card independently of Elrond's Counsel for a bit though. There's a clear downside to this card in that you can't drop your threat at any time, only when an encounter card raises it first. So rather than taking your threat down it merely lets you maintain parity. On the other hand it's completely free. Furthermore, if this lets you maintain parity you can use other effects to actually drop your threat if you want. I might argue the most significant point though is that the natural threat raise from rounds passing, or from player card effects, you can plan for - encounter card threat raises are the ones which throw you off. It happens to me often enough that I form a plan based on being below a certain engagement cost only to have a treachery push me over it unexpectedly. Of course there tend to be other ways of dealing with such problems, but just negating the problem right off the bat is a very simple and effective one.

So, yeah, this is a pretty decent card for avoiding those tricky moments or just generally keeping your threat down while thumbing your nose at the encounter deck. Additional tangential benefit: Hobbit Pipe. If you're playing a Hobbit Pipe deck you need a bunch of threat reduction events and this is one more to add to the pile. That it costs 0 is very handy in that context as well.

Finally, let's look back at that Elrond's Counsel comparison. What points does Free to Choose have in its favour over EC? Well, it has no additional conditions on playing it. That one's potentially pretty significant to the Hobbit Pipe deck idea because if all your heroes are Hobbits then you don't control the unique Noldor you need for EC (ally Arwen works, but that's conditional on you drawing and playing her first. And then, sometimes there are really big threat raises. Free to Choose is perhaps at its best in earlier quests, released well before it was - if you chump-block a Hill Troll you could raise your threat a lot; Watcher in the Water has that Doomed 5 card; Return to Mirkwood has the +8 threat for Gollum's Anguish. There are others, even in more recent quests, though they're not too common. And it is important to bear in mind that while this card could be seen as negating a threat raise, it actually just lowers your threat again after the raise happens, so if the effect would take you over 50, you won't have a chance to play this before you lose.

Bearing all those points in mind though, this isn't an awful card. Just a rather niche one, suited to a limited set of decks and/or certain quests. In the right context, this can definitely work out.

I agree. I think, outside of a Hobbit Deck, it can be a decent 2-of in a sideboard because, yes, it is pretty quest dependent at this point. Does it save you from threating out? As I read it, you would go to 50+ threat and THEN you would reduce your threat. So it doesn't save you from that, correct? —
Yes, correct. I said as much in the review - "so if the effect would take you over 50, you won't have a chance to play this before you lose." —
Real edge case but couldn't this tie in with ally Elfhelm to get a one point threat reduction overall —
It can. As well as you can play 2 free to choose in response of a same effect :). —
Didn't think of that sadly it's a response or you could have all kinds of recursion madness with it! —
@Warden wow... my bad. Completely missed that last line :P —

This guy has had a problematic time earning the community's acceptance. It's understandable, but I do think he's kind of under-rated. The problems with this card lie entirely in the comparison to the much more popular Defender of Rammas, and as such that's also probably the best way to review him. So what are the differences? Warden of Helm's Deep has one less , one more hit point, a Sentinel keyword, costs one more resource, and is in the sphere rather than .

Obvious point first, 3-cost instead of 2 is a big issue. I could trot out the tired old "Cost is less significant in " argument, but that's more significant if the card in question is clearly worth the resources you're paying but it might be hard to get those resources without help. So what we have to consider is whether the Warden of Helm's Deep is in fact worth the 3 resources he costs. It should of course be noted that if you use Théoden then this guy only costs 2 as the first ally in a round, and given Rohan can also be a bit weak on defence, that's certainly a place where this ally fits in very well. Whether he fits in other contexts where you have to pay full price is more in question however.

3 /2 versus 4 / is an interesting debate to consider. As far as considering what single attacks each ally can survive they're obviously equivalent, but with multiple attacks for 4 the Warden will require healing to maintain that durability. On the other hand 3 is still very good for an ally, enough to block the average enemy without concerns, while that extra hit point could soak up a point of archery or other direct damage, or in some quests could of course save you from a nasty undefended when you get that dreaded "Deal damage to the defending character" shadow effect. Especially with healing becoming more of an assumption and a necessity in some recent quests rather than the simple option it started out as, the argument could be made in favour of the Warden over the Defender, but it's pretty close.

The big deal here is that Sentinel keyword (in multiplayer). Of course arguing that simply being a Sentinel is worth an extra resource is a difficult case to make, it brings back thoughts of those old punching bags the Silverlode Archer and Horseback Archer who followed a similar principle with Ranged. I would argue in mitigation though that Sentinel on a good defender is more significant. Partly this is because strong defenders are rarer than strong attackers, so being able to throw defences across the table may be more significant than throwing attack around; and partly it's because Sentinel is less common than Ranged - a search for allies with Sentinel turns up 16 results (plus 3 who can gain Sentinel under certain conditions). Of those 16, only 3 innately have 3+ , of which one is the Warden; one is Déorwine, who is unique; and one is the Winged Guardian, who either costs extra or is temporary. The Longbeard Sentry is good if you're OK to keep discarding from your deck, or Derndingle Warrior if you have healing available (though of course having healing also makes the Warden good, as noted above), and of course Guardian of Arnor is amazing if you have some enemies engaged, but the point is strong Sentinel defenders are not that common a resource. I will note here that in fact Ranged attackers are less common than Sentinel defenders, but most of those Sentinels aren't particularly strong defenders, and the strength is more significant on defence since (generally) can't be pooled.

In the end, while there are some mitigating factors, the Warden of Helm's Deep probably isn't as good value for resources as the Defender of Rammas. I wish he had an ability, even if it was something really minor, just something to set him apart, or failing that, just giving him 2 rather than 1 would be something. But on the other hand it could be argued that the Defender's incredible value for resources is unbalanced in the first place while the Warden is on a more reasonable level. As such I'd say that a deck looking for a decent ally defender should at least consider him, and in particular for such a deck which is also using Théoden he's a great choice.

This is a rather niche card, but much better than a lot of people give it credit for. The significant issue with it is that it doesn't deal any additional damage itself, it only moves damage that is already there. Which means there needs to already be some spare damage lying around to be moved - which then raises the question of why you don't just kill the enemy that's already damaged instead of moving the damage to another enemy? The thing is there can be some decent reasons for that.

The classic one which I think a lot of people will consider is if the first enemy is stuck in a trap and thus not a threat to you. If you have an enemy in a Forest Snare then there's no real need for you to ever kill it, so you might as well stick a few damage on it when you have the actions to spare, thus setting up future use of Infighting. Or equally if you have an enemy stuck on Ranger Spikes and some means of attacking it in the staging area. Furthermore you could combo this up by placing some of that damage using Forest Patrol - just obviously being careful not to kill the trapped enemy since then you lose your damage sponge. Of course the problem with this is that it's only really effective if you manage to trap an enemy with a decent hit point pool, but which you can damage easily (Forest Patrol adds another card to the required combo while the efficacy of placing the damage by attacking depends on the enemy's ) and which doesn't have some negative effect for being in play/in the staging area/engaged with a player. And of course in the Ranger Spikes example it only works if you can attack in the staging area, in which case you often want to power up your to the point where you kill things in one hit, which doesn't work for this, and without scrying (which would be adding another layer of complexity) you can't target Ranger Spikes on a specific enemy. Forest Snares are easier, but they cost 3, which is a bit much if this is the only reason you're using them, when you could get some better combat power for less resources and just kill the enemy. Could be a nice combo with Dunedain though.

The thing is, I think a lot of people consider the potential in that combo, figure out how complicated and difficult it'd be - and consequently how inconsistent - and reject Infighting entirely as a result. Which isn't fair, because the card is not limited to that one potential setup. That's kind of an ideal situation, where you can have a tough enemy with 5 or 6 damage on it ready to be moved over to nuke another fairly tough enemy as soon as it comes off the encounter deck; but just because the ideal situation isn't going to come up reliably doesn't mean there aren't other, less ideal uses of the card which are still good. I would draw a simple comparison between this card and another 1-cost event, Feint. Now Feint is a staple of pretty much all decks ever, but let's compare the two. Feint prevents an enemy attacking. Infighting can prevent an enemy attacking and kill it for you as well. Clearly Infighting is the more powerful effect in that instance, with the proviso that it requires more setup to make it work that way. But if that setup is in place, it is simply a more powerful effect for the same cost. Hell, if you have enough damage to kill the enemy in the staging area it's effectively a Radagast's Cunning as well. And this doesn't necessarily require you to move lots of damage. If you move 1 damage and that kills an enemy before it attacks, then that's easily worth it.

As an addendum, one additional advantage of Infighting over just attacking and killing enemies yourself is that it potentially substitutes for Ranged - if an enemy is engaged with a deck that's not built for combat and you don't have much Ranged to kill it from across the table, Infighting could potentially make a sizeable difference by letting the combat deck attack one of its own engaged enemies and then have the damage moved over to kill the enemy in front of the questing deck. In general though, you probably want to be getting at least some of this damage from effects other than simply attacking, so we ask what effects?

Well, there are plenty of options: Thalin is one of the simplest and easiest since he'll put a damage on every enemy that gets revealed ensuring that there's plenty lying around. Of course it's still only 1 damage per enemy so unless you're dealing with some very weak enemies you'll probably want to supplement that with other effects. Argalad is another hero option, and one of which I am rather fond. Anborn is a good one, especially given the potential combo with Sword-thain+Wingfoot. Descendant of Thorondor is good though expensive for getting more concentrated damage out, and you could just Sneak Attack to dodge the cost. Of course you could also Sneak Attack Gandalf to the same end. Skyward Volley is a great option in this regard as well with the option to spread you instances of 2 damage around as you like. Gondorian Spearman and Spear of the Citadel are classics in this area for good reason. Finally, I mentioned traps further up, and if you're going for a Ranger/Trap thing, then Ranger Bow and more notably Poisoned Stakes could work excellently to provide you with quite a bit of damage which you can then shift around the place. If you're fortunate enough to get Poisoned Stakes on a high hit point enemy, you could potentially play Infighting over and over again to have that one poisoned enemy end up killing all the others. To be clear, you don't by any means need all of these options for Infighting to be good, but grab a few of them and you should have some pretty good options available.

In the end, I admit, a case could certainly be made that Infighting isn't exactly an optimal choice. But if we all played optimally all the time, we'd be using the same three or four decks forever. What Infighting is, however, is a fun and different way of dealing with enemies if you're willing to put some effort into preparing it. It doesn't work in a vacuum, but if you're willing to put some effort into the shenanigans then they can be rather effective as well as very fun.

Henneth Annun Guard is a card I really want to like. When I first saw it I was very positive about him, but I'm not sure if I've ever actually used him in a game. It's something of a common problem among the optional Doomed cards that they'd clearly be worth it if their optional Doomed effect was just an innate ability, but requiring an extra cost for it makes it less appealing. The Henneth Annun Guard might be debatable even on that front, but he'd certainly be a bit easier of a prospect were that the case. The optional Doomed is certainly valuable - it's essentially a one-shot use of ally Arwen but slightly better since it's +2 instead of only +1. Since a lot of decks can depend on Arwen's ability to grant Sentinel if not so often the boost, The Henneth Annun Guard could be useful as a backup measure if you don't draw Arwen in a timely fashion, or of course now a lot of the time hero Arwen will be in play so this may be used as a partial substitute (or a backup measure if you don't draw Dúnedain Signal in a timely fashion). An odd but effective use of this ability could be if you want to use Valour - Doomed obviously synergises well with Valour, and in particular granting Sentinel to another character would allow you to get more bang for your buck with Hold Your Ground! The biggest disadvantage of the ability is that it's a one-shot and has to be triggered in the planning phase, where depending on decks and quest you may find by the time combat arrives that the boost might have been better applied elsewhere. For all that though, it's only Doomed 1, which is very manageable. So why doesn't this guy see more play?

Well, he costs 3 resources. That's always difficult. It's a whole round's worth of resources in mono-. As useful as his ability is, since it's a one-shot it's not something you're going to be depending on and therefore build around, so you have to assume you can manage without it and so if you can manage without it why bother including it when it comes attached to a costly ally? But the big problem lies in his stats, and relatedly in the way people tend to build their decks. 0/2/2/2 isn't a bad statline for a combat ally by any stretch of the imagination. 2 and 2 isn't going to survive much as a defender, but it's still certainly usable, and 2 is certainly useful. The thing is though, it's a versatile statline rather than a focused one, and while I'm an advocate for versatile statlines, I advocate them much more on heroes than I do on allies, because heroes are always there while allies you have to draw and play. And that's how people build their decks, rather than include one ally who can attack or defend as needed they're more likely to include two allies, one who can attack and one who can defend - especially since the sphere includes such cost-effective options as the Defender of Rammas and Galadhon Archer in this regard (not to mention the cost curve skewing nature of the Dúnedain Hunter). When you can get the or you need for cheap, you don't necessarily want to splash out on a more expensive option who is more flexible but not quite as good at either.

With all that said, I think the time may be ripe for a re-examination of the Henneth Annun Guard. I do like the ability, potential for strong ally defenders has definitely expanded since his release, there's that tantalising Valour Hold Your Ground! possibility to consider; and most significantly, a flexibly statted combat ally with the Warrior trait seems made to be combo'd with Raiment of War and perchance Narya, so his potential stock has definitely risen noticeably since his release.

I think the high cost is his biggest drawback. At a cost of 2 I think he is much more playable and can help get players on their feet if there is an aggressive encounter deck. An already strong defender can take on an even nastier attack for a turn or a weaker ally can help mitigate some of the attacks, getting the weight off of another key defender. And you can get an ally on top of that! Those 3 resources though... —
I believe Hennath Annun guard was released in the pack after tactics Mablung. I can see a certain synergy there with Mablung making it more affordable and the guards doomed effect turning Mablung into a decent defender... —