This is without doubt my favourite of the 'top card of your discard pile' Noldor Allies from the Grey Havens. Just on base stats alone, contributing 1 in Tactics for only two resources is incredible on a non-unique Ally (only Derndingle Warrior has the same willpower and cost) and allows Tactics decks to contribute meaningfully to questing without skimping on the combat prowess that is their forte. This allows the Sea-Watcher to contribute to the game whilst waiting for any Ally to hit your discard pile and turn it into a combat machine. 3 is excellent on a 2-cost Ally - especially one that can contribute in the questing phase - and if paying 'normal' price this Ally would cost 3 resources so as long as you can keep a dead Ally in the right place this Ally is quite a bargain. But how to do that? Thankfully, Allies are the easiest card type to get into the discard pile since at the very least you can use them to chump-block an attacker - which works perfectly in this instance as the Sea-Watcher's ability wants to be active when you are attacking which happens to be right after any chump-blocking Allies have died. If you don't fancy sacrificing your allies in this manner, you can also make use out of allies that can be discarded from play for an effect (most Rohan allies fit the bill here and Westfold Outrider is particularly helpful as he can be discarded to bring an enemy into range of the Sea-Watcher whilst simultaneously ensuring you have the attack power to finish them off). The Sea-Watcher is the greatest help to mono-Tactics solo decks as not only do they lack cheap questing Allies (and cheap allies in general!) but they have access to two reasonably costed Allies who can be killed to 'prevent' enemy attacks - Grimbold and White Tower Watchman. Sacrificing these Allies will not only cancel the attack of a powerful enemy you need to kill, but will boost the attack power of your Sea-Watchers so you can defeat them. I don't see myself making any Tactics decks in th near future that don't include a full three copies of this extremely useful card.

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I also love this card. However, if you want really good value, the #Dunedain Hunter is even better because he is free. —

To me this is the best card in silvan deck. It give you the event needed to jump here (Feigned Voices and The Tree People are my favorite) or a very good tale to make you able of bring tons of allies in a few turn. After that it give you the cancel effect you need to be sure to maintain this army.

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I would argue that "The Tree People" is the best card in the deck, but Gladhrim is a close second. Combined, they are the most potent combination of cards in the deck, I would say. —
I'm not averse to throwing her into any deck where I consider an event critical. —

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, well 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.