Dark Knowledge was an okay card until the Burning Brand was released. This one comes at -1, is only one use, and only looks at the card (instead of cancelling). Still though, It's playable if you don't have access to the Brand.

Protector of Lorien is a very useful card, even post-errata. You used to be able to dump your entire hand for a massive quest push, but now it's limited to thrice per phase (you can still use it for willpower and defense in the same round). However, it's still an extremely useful card. It's an easy way to dump uniques, and at a profit! You can trigger it prevent a hero from dying to a shadow effect or direct damage. Or, you could just use it in the planning phase for loop shenanigans, stand and fight, or Caldara.

Brok Ironfist is... not a good card. For starters his stats - rule of thumb for allies is that cost should be around half their sum of stats. Brok has a total of 9 stat points, so by that logic he should cost 4 or at most 5 resources, not 6. Furthermore, almost every ally in the game has a useful ability to back up that stat-to-cost ratio - Brok Ironfist on the other hand gives no useful ability for those resources since his only ability is an alternative means of getting him into play. Put simply, Brok is by no means even remotely worth the number of resources he costs unless you use his ability to put him into play. It always seemed to me that his excessively high cost was given specifically to encourage putting him into play using his ability instead, but in practice that's really not how it works - it doesn't encourage using his ability, it merely discourages playing him normally, which just goes to further ensure that he will only be used if putting him into play with his ability is worth it since paying for him isn't.

So, how about that ability then? Well, in principle, I can certainly say that losing a hero and getting a free ally is better than just losing a hero, but there also exists the third option of just not losing a hero in the first place. While there are exceptions, in general decks are built to follow a certain game plan which does not involve losing heroes. If you do lose a hero, it often heralds an impending loss, so unless putting Brok Ironfist into play will be enough to keep you in the game, it's not really worth including him - you'd be better off just losing faster so you can try again and do better next time. And your deck will likely be better and more consistent if you include some other card instead of Brok, which will be useful in a wider range of circumstances rather than being useless most of the time and maybe saving a game once in a blue moon.

Now here's where Brok could actually be OK if he wasn't so wildly over-costed. If he cost 4, and maybe had some other useful ability while he was in play - perhaps something which could help compensate for the loss of a hero - then he might get included in decks because he could serve as an emergency valve if a hero was going to die but still not be a totally dead draw if all heroes were alive and well. That hypothetical alternative Brok Ironfist could be a pretty interesting card, whereas the existing one falls flat through not only being bad, but also being boring.

If one were to try and use Brok for some reason, there are a few points to consider. Obviously he's more useful if Dain Ironfoot is in play, or other Dwarf synergy. Even under those circumstances, it's still not really worth paying for him especially since there is a plentiful supply of good Dwarf allies, so you should be looking for using his ability. But we can draw a clear comparison in the existence of Caldara (and experience of playing with her) that while trading a hero for two allies can be worthwhile, trading a hero for one ally isn't. So I would only consider using Brok if I had some other reason for wanting to kill a hero, at which point I would refer you to my review of The Fall of Gil-Galad. I would say The Fall of Gil-Galad is a much more worthwhile trade-off for a dead hero however, and there aren't necessarily a lot of good targets among Dwarf heroes for such a setup. Brok has one advantage over FoGG in that he's not limit 1 per deck, but he's also not quite as easily searchable, being a Dwarf ally rather than a Song attachment; and ensuring that he's in your hand at the right moment for you to sacrifice a hero to put him into play is still a significant potential problem with the setup, to say nothing of the problem with duplicate copies clogging up your hand (duplicate uniques are of course a widespread problem, but generally the unique cards you'd have 2 or 3 copies of are considerably more useful to you than Brok Ironfist, plus there are some means by which unique cards can leave play and you can then replace them, which is impractical for Brok given his extortionate cost).

In the end, it's certainly possible to make some use of Brok Ironfist. It's complicated and shenanigans-y, and difficult to pull off consistently - but despite all that, I would personally say it's even harder to think of a reason why you'd even want to use him (other than 'to prove it can be done'). Save yourself the effort and just use cards which are actually good.

I've had some success (and by success I mean not a complete failure) with using The Fall of Gil-Galad with Gloin and Brok Ironfist - if you like shenanigans it is quite cool when it works. I've published the deck (https://ringsdb.com/decklist/view/5738/the-fall-of-gil-glin-1.0) - Galadriel's Mirror is fairly vital as it means you have a reasonable chance of getting both Brok and Fall of Gil-Galad before the games ends... —
If you want to do something completely pointless, run a Denethor/Treebeard/Thalin deck with a ton of card draw so you can get Sword-thain, Song of Mocking and Brok in your hand without spending resources. Then, put Song of Mocking on Thalin, trigger Treebeard 4 times, and kill him. This puts Brok into play for free and you can now play Sword-thain with your remaining 4 resources! Not too shabby. —

Secret Paths is basically Radagast's cunning for locations. It's slightly better, in that most enemies automatically engage but you never half to travel to a location if you don't want to (barring east bight, etc.), thus this will have a target more often. Plus, most locations have more threat than enemies.

This is a very useful and potentially a very versatile card, though in a majority of cases its versatility is disregarded and it just gets joined at the hip to Core Gandalf - it can work well in many more contexts than that though. The effect is simple - at a cost of 1 resource you put an ally into play for a single phase. Since most allies cost more than 1, you're most likely getting an effective discount, perhaps using an ally you couldn't afford to play normally, but you only get to use them for that one phase (so most likely they only get one action) before returning them to your hand. It should be noted that there is no limitation on the sphere of the ally, so this is a means by which you can bring in out of sphere allies, albeit temporarily.

The utility of bringing an ally into play for just one phase is obviously twofold - you get their stats and you get whatever ability they have, so any ally which has something particularly good in either category may be a good candidate for Sneak Attack. In many cases of course allies with high stats also have pretty useful abilities, though what makes an ability useful for a Sneak Attack is not necessarily the same as what makes it useful for playing the ally normally. As far as stats go, options do not spring to mind for , since it's fairly rare for an ally to have more than 2 , though it's still an option if you're particularly short on willpower. I would generally prefer something which would allow me to adjust my after staging though. For and there are better choices, and it's easier to justify it as you have more available information - you know if you have one more enemy than your available good defences, or if you just need a little more to kill an enemy, whereas Sneak Attacking an ally for questing is always more speculative unless you've scried the encounter deck. So combat is friendlier to Sneak Attack than questing if you're just looking for extra stats, and there are plenty of options there.

The more interesting case however tends to be considering the abilities of the allies. Now a lot of allies won't get much use of their ability in a Sneak Attack because the benefit of a lot of ally abilities is that they're repeatable, which doesn't apply if they're only in play for the one phase. There are three types of ability which tend to be particularly friendly to Sneak Attack - action advantage, enters play abilities, and discard abilities (or other means of leaving play):

  • Action advantage is obviously a combat thing - allies like Boromir if you can keep him healed up, or Vigilant Dúnadan if there's a side-quest in the victory display (and you can keep him healed up) can defend a long line of enemies, thus getting you much more value out of the Sneak Attack than if you brought in a regular ally who'd just exhaust to defend or attack once and that's it.
  • Enters play abilities obviously work great with Sneak Attack, as you can trigger them without spending the full cost of the ally this way. This is why Core Gandalf is such a good target, because he gives a choice of three great enters play abilities on top of his incredible statline. Elrond is another great choice for basically the same reason. Sarn Ford Sentry can be a good one in a Dunedain deck to draw a load of cards. Descendant of Thorondor can do some nice direct damage, and using Sneak Attack for it avoids the problem with playing it that the enemy you want to damage may not still be in the staging area come the Planning phase; likewise in an Eagle deck Gwaihir triggers on entering play. Sneak Attack can also be a fantastic inclusion in a Silvan deck because the archetype runs on allies with enters play abilities, on top of which they also get the stat boosts from Celeborn when they enter play.
  • Discard(/other leave play) abilities likewise - you can trigger them without having spent the full cost of the ally. Beorn is a fantastic one since you can trigger his +5 and then choose to resolve Sneak Attack returning him to hand before his own effect shuffling him into your deck. For lower impact but not insignificant options, there are things like the Eryn Galen Settler, Grimbold becomes a Feint for the same cost, Honour Guard if you're in Valour, Sneak Attack Westfold Horse-Breaker readies a hero in an emergency, or Westfold Outrider can engage an enemy to prevent an attack or remove threat from the staging area as needed. Continuing on Rohan, Escort from Edoras and Háma both automatically discard themselves after doing something useful, so if you're going to do that there's certainly value in getting them into play cheaper, while Éomund triggers on leaving play so if you Sneak Attack him for questing he will ready all Rohan characters in play when he returns to your hand and the end of the phase. Eagles are also great for Sneak Attack because of the leaves play thing - Descendant of Thorondor triggers again on leaving play, Vassal of the Windlord and Winged Guardian both automatically leave play after one combat action so you're not losing out on anything by sneaking them in, and any Eagle ally you Sneak in can go under Eagles of the Misty Mountains instead of going back in your hand; for one which also works in a non-Eagle context, Landroval can save a hero from death by returning to hand, so bringing him in with Sneak Attack is a great option to have. Finally, I have to mention Silvans again, because in addition to the enters play effects the other key aspect of a Silvan deck is using the events to return them to hand, and you might as well trigger that with Sneak Attacked ally who's going to return to hand at the end of the phase anyway - the ultimate case of this would be using Sneak Attack to bring in a Silvan ally, triggering their enters play effect, having them do something, and then before the end of the phase returning them to hand with The Tree People to replace them with a permanent ally.

I should also mention Faramir, who doesn't fit any of the above categories but can still be well worth a Sneak Attack because his ability is so potent for the amount of it can add to your questing, and that after staging.

As I said, Sneak Attack is often only considered only in the context of Gandalf, and admittedly Sneak Attack Gandalf is one of the oldest and still one of the most powerful combos in the game. In some ways I wish the two didn't synergise as well as they do, because then Sneak Attack might be appreciated more for the other options it offers, but even with Gandalf in the mix, you should always bear in mind the many, many other uses of Sneak Attack, including but not limited to the ones I've brought up here - and Sneak Attack is also the sort of card which once you've put it in your deck for a specific reason may then end up being used for a different reason in an emergency, and it can really be a game-saver under those conditions. Flexibility really not to be dismissed.

Sneak attack plus Galadriel Ally is a good one in my book. —
Ally Galadriel only triggers when you play her normally, Sneak Attacking her doesn't work. —