A favourite of mine, and one of the best executions of the optional Doomed card. One of the best uses for Doomed cards is to accelerate your early game when resources are scarce but threat is plentiful, and this does exactly that. By paying 2 resources for this ally and then triggering Doomed 2 you, or another player of your choice, can bring in another ally of cost 2 or less. Of course one could take the view that in this circumstance you've effectively just paid the 2 resources for the other ally and then gotten an extra 1 or chump out of the deal; but on the other hand, for one there are benefits to having extra bodies on the table such as the further early game acceleration of A Very Good Tale or perhaps global boosts like Visionary Leadership, Sword that was Broken or Faramir, and for another even without such benefits this still allows for some significant resource-smoothing between spheres and indeed players.

To give examples, allowing a or player to bring in, for example, Arwen Undómiel or an Honour Guard while still retaining a resource for A Test of Will or Feint could be a very valuable early game play well worth your 2 resources and a bit of threat. An early Warden of Healing could also be significant in a damage-heavy quest. Of note is of course the fact that the player with each of these allies might have only one hero of the relevant sphere and thus be slower to afford the ally under normal circumstances. A further option with this is any ally with a useful enters play effect - such as Envoy of Pelargir or Soldier of Dol Amroth each of whom effectively reimburse a resource, any of the variety of 2-cost Silvan allies, and so on.

But even leaving aside the (significant) co-operative benefits and the potential for resource-smoothing, at its core the natural purpose of this ally and his optional Doomed effect is simply to accelerate an ally swarm. Given that swarming allies to overwhelm the encounter deck by force of numbers is an incredibly effective course to victory in a wide variety of quests, and that the early game is the most difficult part of the game for the most part, the opportunity to immediately bring in two allies for the price (in resources) of one can be a massive boost and set you well on the path to that eventual victory. Whichever purpose you put him to, the Herald of Anórien is just an incredibly useful ally to have.

Rúmil is a card I've always found a bit problematic. The stats are good and the ability is good, but it's debatable whether the stats are worth 4 resources, and the ability will often miss its opportunity to work.

As far as the stats go, flexibility is more useful in heroes than allies, but the fact Rúmil can switch as required between using his 2 and his 2 Ranged may come in handy. And obviously if there are readying effects available for allies then both can be used in a single round. On the other hand it may be simpler to have other allies for questing and attacking so you can do both every round without readying. As far as the attacking goes of course Galadhon Archer is the obvious choice.

The ability is where Rúmil should be winning us over, but as I said, it will often miss its opportunity. Firstly and significantly, note that unlike the other Silvan allies released in the Ring-maker cycle, Rúmil's ability only triggers when he is played from hand (during the Planning phase), not when he enters play through other means. Now, since Rúmil is Ranged himself, the effect will deal a minimum of 1 damage to an engaged enemy. A dedicated combat deck may well have 1-2 Ranged heroes as well, and if we add in allies like the aforementioned Galadhon Archer, Vassal of the Windlord, Trollshaw Scout and so on, it's pretty easy to get a high enough number of Ranged characters in play to instantly kill most enemies. So why am I not raving about how great this is? The answer is simply that in my actual play experience, if I have that many Ranged characters in play, since they're all good attackers the enemies are dead by the end of the combat phase and so by the time I have an opportunity to play Rúmil the following round his ability is redundant.

In quests that swarm you with enemies (for which direct damage tends to be a pretty good approach in general), and of course as player count rises, Rúmil is more likely to have a target. He can also be used to kill an enemy which you engaged during the Planning phase, by e.g. a Dúnedain Hunter, Knight of Minas Tirith or Westfold Outrider so it never has an opportunity to attack you. And of course he can be used to kill an enemy which you either couldn't or didn't want to kill the preceding round - beyond the usual case of insufficient , there are of course enemies like the Mûmak or the Oliphaunt which can take a limited amount of damage per round, where once again Rúmil could save you an attack, or perhaps a boss enemy which couldn't take damage until some condition was fulfilled; as to not wanting to kill an enemy, the most likely case would be if you kept a high enemy alive to put a Secret Vigil on it then Rúmil could once again kill it in the Planning phase and save an attack.

So there are certainly uses, and the ability is unquestionably a very powerful one when it works - the only problem is that by the time it's possible it is often also unnecessary. Rúmil is a good ally, but it's definitely worth being aware of the difficulties.

These are exact my thoughts about Rumil! —

This card is kind of under-rated. It's reasonable enough to say it is perhaps the least useful of the four Silvan events, but it is still useful. The simplest point to note is that in a Silvan deck, with the benefits of Celeborn, perhaps Galadriel, and the enters play effect of whichever Silvan you're using, returning a Silvan ally to hand is in some ways a reward in itself. At the very least, it's not really a downside, and the event is otherwise free.

Now to the actual effect. You're not going to get the ideal result particularly often, where one player has a bunch of enemies engaged which will all take damage. The question though is how much of a problem that really is. Even if you're only damaging one enemy, those points of damage add up, especially if there are other sources of direct damage around such as the obvious pairing in Galadhon Archer. Sometimes you'll find yourself just one point of short of killing something. Sometimes enemies have low hit points. With additional direct damage around there's potential for this to play a part in actually killing an enemy before it can make an attack, which is a massive deal. I mean, just cancelling an attack is the effect of another, much more popular Silvan event. That this will deal damage to additional enemies if you're engaged with more than one is just a nice little bonus.

Overall, this is a nice bit of direct damage to supplement other direct damage or just regular attack power while fueling the Silvan ally cycle. If you're tri-sphere or even quad-sphere then depending on the nature of the deck this might be the event to leave out, but when you're building on the basis of the Silvan ally-bouncing strategy you should definitely consider this if you have access to .

Nobody's reviewed Gandalf yet? Is he just too obvious, or is he actually that unpopular??

Gandalf is one of the cornerstones of my favorite deck, which I call Three) Wise Men. Vilya is the other cornerstone, which in most decks is a hit-or-miss proposition. With Imladris Stargazer it becomes viable, but with Gandalf it is incomparably strong.

It's impossible to review Gandalf without a mention of Wizard Pipe, which can only attach to him or a small number of allies, half of whom leave the game at the end of the round. Once again, the Pipe is not a very good card in and of itself, but because of what you can do with it and Gandalf's ability. If you put a card on top of your deck that you can immediately play, you've effectively drawn the card you swapped it for.

It's also impossible to review this hero without mentioning Gandalf's Staff, which again is pretty much impossible use without him. I sometimes wonder why I'm paying 2 resources now for a card that will only get me on resource per turn, and it'll take two turns for me just to break even. Then I remind myself that I gladly pay 2 for Gléowine, in almost every deck I build, and the Staff will do exactly the same thing if I want it to. It also can discard a shadow card before it's revealed, which is handy in a pinch, and keeps it useful when all the cards have been drawn and played and there's no more need for more resources. It's also nice that Gandalf can pay his colorless resources for the Staff, which can then give resources to heroes of other colors, or even other players. This flexibility is a key difference from the normally stronger Steward of Gondor, and since Gandalf shows you what's coming, you can use that information to your advantage.

By now it should be obvious that we can't thoroughly evaluate this card on its own, but let's stop and take a look at the card itself. 14 threat is as high as it gets, and all I'll say to that is that you'd better make it worth it. You can see your next card on top of your deck, and up to 7 times a turn you can play it. Only once per turn can the card played be an ally or attachment, so this obviously tends toward an Event-heavy deck. He doesn't gain you any extra resources, so this leans towards events that are cheap, or preferably free. But, in a deck that's built for it, this is an incredibly powerful card draw engine. Every time you play off the top isn't just a card play, it's also a card you drew for free. For example, normally with Daeron's Runes you play one card, draw 2, and then discard one, so your hand size actually remained the same. Gandalf did all that without removing the card from your hand in the first place, so it was essentially a free draw of a card. Thus, Gandalf can draw up to seven cards per turn. Amazingly powerful! Almost completely unmatched! Peace, and Thought comes close, gaining 5 cards for a cost of 1 card, 1 resource, and 2 heroes exhausted just before the turn starts. That's not an insignificant cost.

Meanwhile, here we have the strongest hero statline in the game: 3/3/3/5. He's not the best quester in the game, but he comes close; not the best attacker, but though many can match him almost none will beat him; not the best defense, but he's still very close. He does whatever you need, making him an obvious target for things like Unexpected Courage. But let's take a look at another card that comes with him: Flame of Anor. This is an incredible chance to recover from certain disaster; in a tight spot, Gandalf readies himself and gains bonus attack for the phase. You can see the card you're about to lose and how much attack it will give you, or if desperately needed you can take a random discard by playing the Flame from your deck, again gaining a card draw. Many times it's actually irrelevant, if you just needed him to block something.

As my last word on the card itself, I invite you to read the text carefully. You may play the top card of your deck. When you do so, Gandalf is all colors. Nothing says that only Gandalf can pay for the card, so if you have for instance no resources on him and A Test of Will on top of your deck, you can still spend a resource from Glorfindel to play it. What could be better? The four colors give him even more flexibility for his effect, but I caution players against using too many cards that are off-color to their other heroes. Once you've drawn a card of the wrong color, it becomes a dead card unless you have some other way to play it, and the Wizard Pipe will only reactivate one such card per turn.

There are two more cards that I have to mention, and one of course is Shadowfax. Like the staff, this is really only viable on Gandalf or Gandalf, since Gandalf leaves the table at the end of the round. It's slightly more expensive than Unexpected Courage, but it makes him Ranged and Sentinel, and also can be paid for with any color. Assuming you're in a multiplayer game, and given Gandalf's amazing statline, the horse is usually well worth the extra resource.

And finally, more recently we have gained Narya for use with Círdan the Shipwright or Gandalf, the only Ring of Power with such a choice. It should be obvious that readying two allies for +1 and +1 is strong, and depending on the allies may well be stronger than Gandalf's own statline. This goes extremely well with the Vilya strategy I mentioned at the start, because expensive allies are strong allies, and thus Flame of Anor becomes even more powerful. Less obviously, the icon Gandalf gains from the ring makes him much less of a burden when trying to play cards already in your hand.

Obviously, there are costs to be weighed here. 14 threat is not cheap, and Gandalf remains one of the strongest allies we have, especially with Sneak Attack. When you decide to play Gandalf, your whole fellowship loses that opportunity, and I don't take that lightly. A lot of assumptions about deckbuilding have to be scrapped, if you're going to make full use of his ability. If you do, however, the results can be spectacular, and you will find that Gandalf could well be the strongest of all the Gandalves.

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Children of the Sea is a card that I thing is highly underrated. I shall attempt to go over its merits. For one thing, it is free. This is huge! A +2 willpower boost for free? I don't believe this is an effect on any other card. Another hugely important thing is that it can work decently with Silvan. You can use this card, and at the end of the phase the ally is shuffled in to your deck. Then, if you have another ally out, you can play The Tree People and try to get the ally you shuffled back in out again. This is especially nice because it improves deck consistency. If you are running three copies of the ally you target with Children of the Sea, you will essentially add another copy to your deck at the end of the phase. It is important to note though that this does not only work with Silvan. A Noldor deck can benefit pretty heartily as well. Let's say you are running a Noldor deck with lots of card draw, and your deck is fairly small at the end of a few turns. You can play this card, and because your deck is dwindling in size pretty quickly, there is a good chance you will draw said ally again soon.

When this card is looked at in these lights, it suddenly does not seem so bad. Yes, the cases I described are niche, but it is good in those contexts. I do not believe a card is truly awful if it can be used to good effect in at least a few cases. This is one such card. Although it is not for every deck, in a few cases this card is amazing. I challenge everyone to try this card in one of the decks I mentioned.