I don't know about this guy. You're paying 2 for an ally that's constantly in danger of getting killed, and once you're past the first cycle's swarms of bats and crows, there's not many things he can one-shot. He's in a strange place between disposable and important. It is enticing to build an elaborate system with Thalin, Spear of the Citadels and Honour Guards, but at that point you could just have a bunch of normal allies doing normal fighting. Always feels good when the enemy's last hit point happens to line up, though.

The gold standard in hero readying ever since the core set, and one of the reasons blue is so damn strong. It's a similar situation to Steward of Gondor, where they painted themselves into a corner with such a broadly useful card, and the more interesting alternatives just aren't as good usually. You also only get one copy in the core set (thanks FFG,) which means it's proxy time. Remember kids, a standard card is 2.5 by 3.5 inches, and Keeping Count makes a great backing material.

An excellent card for tanky heroes (like both versions of Beregond...) Also works well for Dunedain decks that plan on engaging a lot of enemies. More readying effects besides Unexpected Courage are always welcome, and this one is repeatable and will trigger often, making it one of the best alternatives. Being restricted is a fairly large downside though, so you'll still want to fit in Unexpected Courage if you plan on building a superdefender with things like Gondorian Shield and Spear of the Citadel.

This card ranges from mediocre at a single Spirit hero to exceptional when you control 3 (printed) Spirit heroes. Where many other quest-only characters that give 1 willpower per resource cost (such as Escort from Edoras, Galadhrim Weaver, and Galadriel's Handmaiden) have a single hit point and are easily killed, Pelargir Shipwright can handle some punishment. He can even defend and survive an attack here and there, which is always helpful in a mono-Spirit deck. It's a straightforward but powerful card that is almost always worth including in a mono-spirit deck, and is still worth a look in a 2-spirit hero deck.

And especially in a Caldara deck! —

Northern Tracker is an amazing card. Four resources may seem steep to a beginner, but that ability is insane. He can take out twenty-three of the 594 locations in the game. And if there isn't a location that needs exploring, he still has a very strong two attack, two defense, and three HP. Just awesomesauce.