While will of the west may not see use in normal decks, any Noldor deck or any deck that runs Erestor can make full use of this card. Another quest in which thus card shines is dungeons deep and caverns dim. It's also the life support of every infinite loop in the game.

Hasty stroke is THE shadow cancellation card. Burning Brand, gandalf's staff, and staff of lebrethon attach to specific characters, the leadership options are to expensive or risky, shadows give way and tireless hunters are to situational, armored destrier and deorwine function only when they are defending, and sterner than steel requires a weapon or armor attachment. This just up and cancels any shadow effect. Boom.

Strength of will is sorely underrated. 0 cost is nice but you do have to exhaust a character. However, if characters are ready then there probably not going to be in combat so you're not losing an action. Nice, cheap location control.

A sorely under-rated hero. Granted, he's not quite Beregond (or even Beregond), but 3 is still solid enough to withstand the majority of enemies, barring shadow effects. Speaking of which, innate shadow cancellation is an incredibly valuable ability for a defender to have. Potentially worthy of note is that there is no limitation on his ability, so it can work even if the attacking enemy has multiple shadow cards you want to cancel - the only limit is of course Erkenbrand's hit point total.

Using Erkenbrand against higher enemies is admittedly a more risky prospect, since combining damage from his ability with damage from the attack can easily put him at risk of death, but with any dedicated defender you should be considering -boosting cards and in general you should always consider bringing healing, but especially with a hero like Erkenbrand who triggers his ability by taking damage. Dúnedain Remedy is the in-sphere option, beyond that you want to be looking at the sphere (I should point out that while it still helps with defending, damage cancellation effects are of no use for Erkenbrand's shadow cancellation - if the damage is cancelled, the shadow effect is not). Warden of Healing is obviously the standard, but since we're focusing on a single hero Self Preservation and Lembas are also excellent choices for Erkenbrand, and basically anything works.

There are a couple of ways to further improve Erkenbrand's ability to disregard shadow effects - with readying so he can defend more attacks obviously, and by increasing his hit points so he can trigger his ability more times before needing to be healed (particularly relevant if your healing is Lembas and you want to get the most out of it). Armored Destrier is a great option since it readies him and discards another shadow card, making that enemy safe to be defended by someone else, but another valid option is Raiment of War - if he has other readying (like the standard Unexpected Courage) then the boost may not go to waste, the boost obviously helps, and 2 extra hit points help with his ability as noted. For a non-Restricted possibility, Ent Draught also adds 2 extra hit points.

It can certainly be argued that Erkenbrand is not the ideal defensive hero. He lacks a Gondor trait to synergise with the Gondorian Shield or Blood of Númenor, and shadow cancellation can be provided through other means, including the ultimate option in A Burning Brand, though this may require a Song of Wisdom to get it on a lot of the better targets - but that really highlights the worth of Erkenbrand. While Beregond has higher base , getting him repeatable shadow cancellation requires a two card combo. Innate heroes have immediate access to Burning Brand, but that's still dependent on drawing it, it costs 2 resources, and they all either have lower than Erkenbrand or lack his Sentinel keyword - Erkenbrand is the only 3 hero with Sentinel we have in the game thus far. So other defenders may have a higher potential, but Erkenbrand starts stronger and can save the game early on, before you draw all those important boosts you need Erkenbrand's closest competition for early game shadow cancellation is Balin, but aside from not being such a great defender himself and thus most likely consuming an additional hero slot in any hypothetical deck, Balin requires resources for his cancellation which you may not have available, especially in the early game; whereas Erkenbrand's hit points are guaranteeably going to be ready for use whenever you need them (unless he's already taken too much damage).

Overall, if you're not concerned about shadows then sure, Beregond is better, and cases could be made for other heroes, though Erkenbrand still definitely holds his own; but if shadow effects are a significant concern for you, then Erkenbrand's front-loaded innate cancellation combined with his stats and Sentinel is about the best you're going to get - having cancellation based on damage and having to wait to draw/play healing may be preferable than having to wait to draw/play your cancellation and being killed by an early shadow effect before you have it. How much you're worried about that depends on your approach to the game and perhaps what quest you're playing, but if you expect it to be a problem then the Lord of the Westfold might just be able to save the game for you.

I've always felt that Idraen was a severely under-rated hero. She doesn't get a lot of attention, tends to be not so well rated by a lot of players. On a basic level, she's certainly good - solid, well-rounded stats and an ability which gives action advantage so you can put those multiple of those stats to good use. But to understand why I think Idraen is really significant I think it's worth considering the state of the card pool when she was released as regards heroes. Dúnhere and Caldara are specialised, Eleanor and Fatty Bolger are support-focused, Dwalin is quest-dependent, Nori and Óin are dwarf-specific, and Pippin is bad. Leaving just Éowyn, Frodo Baggins and Glorfindel as good generally applicable heroes. Adding a fourth option to a list of three is a really big deal, especially if you like a bit of variety in your deckbuilding. On top of the general applicability angle Idraen was only the second hero with 3 , and in general the sphere isn't exactly awash with high-powered statlines.

I suspect a big part of the less favourable reaction comes down to people just preferring Glorfindel, who has 1 more and 6 less threat, but if nothing else it's worth noting that Idraen's action advantage is built in as opposed to Glorfindel needing Light of Valinor. There's also a bit more to it. The standard assumption is that Idraen will ready after questing when you explore an active location - which depending on quest and player count could easily be every round. On that assumption it is comparable to LoV, but there's potential for it to be even more, if Idraen is used in a deck with a definite focus on location control. With cards like Asfaloth and The Evening Star in the mix Idraen can potentially be readied additional times, in any action window of your choice. Of course that requires that you get locations close to explored in advance, so a dedicated location control deck is a good idea, with effects like Warden of Arnor, Northern Tracker, Rhovanion Outrider, etc. Obviously this pushes her towards higher player counts where there will be more locations and a dedicated location control deck can be a good fit.

Leaving aside her good stats, the accessibility of her readying synergises very well with anything which requires exhausting a hero or character. There are a few generic hero ones, but of particular note there are a number of cards which depend on exhausting a Ranger or Scout character and Idraen has both those traits - things like Guarded Ceaselessly, Quick Ears, Distant Stars or Mariner's Compass could all fit into a location-focused deck, and Idraen is ideally suited to Expert Trackers, since if you're engaging a high enough threat enemy Idraen will exhaust to place progress on the location, exploring it and readying her again.

In general, Idraen is good just as a solid hero who can get two actions a round easily enough in multiplayer and has more impressive stats than most heroes, but also if location control is a particular focus she can benefit hugely, enabling all kinds of shenanigans not to be underestimated. She's great in either case.

Always happy to see some Idraen love! I do think she loses the spotlight to some other more popular* choices. I'm hoping that as the scout trait develops we'll see her come back. As it stands I'm looking to make a location deck including her and bringing it to Gen Con (doubt there will be any issue of uniqueness clashing) —