Hero. Threat: 10. 2   2   2   4  

Dúnedain. Ranger.

While you are engaged with any enemy, Halbarad does not exhaust to commit to a quest.

You may optionally engage 1 additional enemy during the encounter phase.

"Little do they know of our long labour for the safekeeping of their borders, and yet I grudge it not." The Return of the King

The Lost Realm #2. Leadership.


Halbarad is a hero I've been using a lot lately in Dunedain decks and he's done good work so I wanted to take some time to sing his praises. He doesn't seem to get that much love in general...

Firstly, Dunedain are cool, the Grey Company are cool, and Halbarad is one of the few named such characters to appear in the books. In the books, he's tight with Aragorn and I'd argue they work well together in the game too. High marks on that front.

In game terms, he's got two useful traits and well-rounded stats so can be tooled up for anything. Good then, that he has inbuilt action advantage ("does not exhaust...")! Of course the player pays for this by being engaged with an enemy, which can be a high cost, depending on the situation. Because of this, Halbarad is generally going to be better off in a more combat focused deck - there could be corner cases where you're playing opposite someone with spare sentinel and/or where Forest Snare is an option, but really he is designed with facilitating combat in mind.

How hard is his first ability to get set up? Well, with Halbarad's second ability (you can optionally engage up to two enemies per turn!), you shouldn't be short on engaged enemies, except possibly in solo play when you're at the mercy of encounter deck reveals. Turn one, he'll often need to exhaust to quest, but some quests start you engaged and there are other tools to go and grab an enemy before questing.

The extra optional engagement may not seem like a lot but I've found it incredibly useful in a lot of situations, typically in two player games (but it could shine even more often in higher player counts). You can save a partner having to engage a nasty enemy, you can pull more than one high engagement cost enemy out of the staging area and get around some of those evil encounter deck tricks (remember Goblin Sniper? How about Lossarnach Bandit and Zealous Traitor from Heirs of Numenor? Halbarad laughs at them). Honestly, there are many times that his second ability has been clutch, particularly in sparing a partner deck a very nasty combat phase.

Who/what does he play well with? Dúnedain Hunter to trigger his ability turn one; Star Brooch and Celebrían's Stone for a quest boost; Roheryn; or boosts depending on need - I usually go with eg Dúnedain Warning in sphere. Since the strategy is engaging enemies - and keeping at least one around - the deck needs defence. I've found Dúnedain Watcher and Guardian of Arnor make a great team and are in sphere. Halbarad pairs best with for all that combat nonsense. I've been using him with Aragorn and making good use of Sword that was Broken.

Who is he competing against? Amarthiúl and Aragorn if you just want a single hero - if you're including Dunedain cards, you'll probably want at least one! His ally version (Halbarad) - I can see how the ally could be good, but haven't used him yet. There are cheaper heroes will better willpower (Sam Gamgee) or resource acceleration (Théodred, Denethor) which mean Halbarad doesn't get much of a look in for people looking to splash . He really suits a certain style of play so perhaps that why I don't see him used in many non-Dunedain decks.

He may not be flashy, but he's a solid glue hero in Dunedain decks and with a few attachments can become a machine in 3 phases of the turn (questing, engagement and combat).

Some nice uses of Halbarad (with credit to the creators Gizlivadi, Seastan and Stokesbook):




Do you know of more cards to engage enemies before the engagement step? — Kossie 1

There aren't many heroes that are strictly oriented towards the Dunedain trait. There are certainly many that provide support for the archetype, such as the various Aragorn heros, but really only two others function exclusively through engaging enemies, Halbarad and Amarthiul. Of these two, Amarthiul is often viewed as the more attractive, both statistically and according to his abilities. This may be in part due to his battle heavy construction which makes him so valuable, particularly in the line of defense. That being said, I find it difficult to make an either/or comparison between the two, because Halbarad focuses on different aspects of the Dunedain trait than Amarthuil. Stats and planning phase benefits are what the latter bring to the table. Halbarad, meanwhile, offers abilities that are just as powerful, though a few are more unique than others.

Having characters with the ability to perform multiple actions during one round is vital to the Dunedain deck. Halbarad allows one to not only use him to quest, but also have him available to defend smaller attacks, or even chip in on the offensive. Since this ability comes into play by keeping enemies engaged, it requires no more set up than any traditional Dunedain deck. In addition, his two willpower is another stat that is rare throughout the Dunedain archetype. Questing, at least in a Tactics-Leadership deck, is inherently the weakest aspect of the Dunedain trait. In an archetype oriented more towards defending, willpower can be a rare commodity. Though Halbarad's two willpower will not blow anybody away, it will definitely lighten the burden of questing, particularly at the beginning of the game. And if one can find a way to increase his willpower, such as by attaching Celebrian's Stone or Star Brooch to him, Halbarad can become a questing monster. Even further, if one is able to add a few attachments such as Sword of Numenor, he can be up and ready to be a powerful force in the combat phase.

But another aspect of Halbarad's benefits to the Dunedain archetype is his ability to engage an additional enemy during the encounter phase. At first glance this may not seem like much, and if one is playing solo than it does have a greatly reduced effect on the game. But in a multiplayer situation it does allow one to have a slight control over which enemies engage which players. Oftentimes the Dunedain will be better prepared to defend than one's partner, and Halbarad allows one to swipe any threatening enemies before they reach engagement checks. Another use for the ability to optionally engage multiple enemies in one round is that it can provide a quick method of getting the Dunedain benefits up and running. This works not only at the beginning of the game, but also when one is forced to do away with a too powerful enemy, leaving the Dunedain stranded with either no enemies or just not enough of them engaged.

Perhaps the biggest misconception concerning Halbarad, however, is that he is only beneficial in a deck specifically structured for the Dunedain trait. On the contrary, having enemies that unintentionally hang around through multiple rounds is a rather common occurrence, giving one that extra action quite often. Multiple actions per character are always valuable, and as stated above, Halbarad needs only a few attachments to make him truly formidable in all phases of the game.