First, I'll compare this card to Grim Resolve. It costs the same, but this one is neutral and not Leadership, so it's easier to play in any multi-color deck. It has the same effect, plus a significant questing boost: at least +3 (heroes), and potentially much more. The willpower effect doesn't share in a multiplayer game, but the readying does. All in all, this is a very good card, if you don't mind spending the 5 for it, or have some way to make it cheaper (Vilya?) So this should be an easy pick: if you liked Grim Resolve, you'll love Free Peoples!
Now that that's resolved, I'll spend the rest of the review answering one important question: how hard is it to have 9 traits? The answer: it's surprisingly easy to control heroes and allies with 9 different traits. I'll start with the bad news: it's literally impossible to choose 3 non-Saga heroes with 9 different traits among them. So, you won't have 9 on your first turn, but it's laughably easy to have 6, and not hard at all to have 7. It's even possible to have 8 if you work at it.
Allow me to demonstrate.
Every hero has the possibility of the following three traits:
A "Fealty," which literally every hero has one of.
Most likely this is Dunedain, Dwarf, Gondor, Hobbit, Noldor, Rohan, or Silvan.
In unique or near-unique cases, it could be Beorning, Corsair, Dale, Ent, Esgaroth, Harad, Istari, or Outlands.
"Noble," or not.
- A "Profession," or not. In the case of heroes, possible professions are Warrior, Ranger, or more rarely Scout.
Go ahead, check them. Every hero has only those three, and no more? Well... not exactly. As of this writing, when we have received (spoiled or published) nearly all heroes from the entire Saga series and up through the Haradrim cycle,
Here is every single exception to the rules above:
Denethor and Denethor are Gondor, and Noble, and have the unique profession "Steward," which literally nobody else has. Not even Ally Denethor for some reason. Not even the target of Steward of Gondor, who gains the Gondor trait but not the Steward trait.
Gríma has two fealties, namely Rohan and Isengard. Unfortunately he is not Noble and has no profession.
- A small handful of heroes have one fealty and TWO professions, and are not Noble.
Amarthiúl and Aragorn are Dunedain, Ranger, Warrior.
Haldir of Lórien the Silvan, and Idraen the Dunedain, both are Ranger, Scout.
Elfhelm is Rohan, Scout, Warrior. Oddly, neither of his Ally versions are so well-traveled.
So here's the bottom line. If you want 7 traits on your heroes, you have thousands of options: choose any three fealties, with one of each profession, and make sure at least one of them is Noble. 7 Scouts times 15 Rangers times at least 25 warriors, minus a few hundred combinations with duplicate fealties, is at least a few thousand. But,
If you want 8 Traits on your heroes, you MUST choose Denethor or Grima, and you MUST choose two other heroes with 3 professions between them.
Denethor, plus a double-profession, plus a non-matching profession gives you 3 fealties, Noble, and 4 professions. Grima, plus a double-profession, plus a non-matching profession (and it could be Denethor!) gives you 4 fealties, Noble, and only 3 professions. These are the ONLY ways to get 8.
And you can't get 9. Not with just your starting heroes.
But it's not hard to get to 9! Here are just a few of my favorite ways.
- Playing a Saga quest? No problem! If you're in Over Hill and Under Hill, Bilbo Baggins is a Hobbit. In any other Saga quest, you have a Hobbit Burglar, or a Hobbit Ring-bearer, or a Dunedain Noble Ranger. Or, coming soon in Mountain of Fire, a Dunedain Gondor Noble Warrior instead. With a small amount of planning so that you don't match, these will get you your 9. Play it one-player, or wait for your turn as first player, and you're all set. (Incidentally, yes, there are no other Burglars or Ring-bearers anywhere else.)
- Warden of Healing is Gondor, Healer, and you know you want them. So is Ioreth, and you might want her too (or instead, depending on your deck). If you're doing something weirder, the Healer trait also exists on Galadhrim Healer, Imladris Caregiver, and (temporarily) Elrond. No heroes have that trait... nope, not even Elrond, oddly.
- I'm a huge fan of Gléowine, and of course I want him as early as possible. That brings me Minstrel, Rohan. As it happens, the only other Minstrel that's actually Minstrel is Galadhrim Minstrel, Silvan. That's right, Rivendell Minstrel isn't actually a Minstrel.
- Eagle deck? All Eagles are Creature, Eagle. Two traits for cheap, that almost nothing else matches.
- Very few heroes have Scout, but a few unique allies and a lot of non-unique allies do. This could be easier than picking from limited hero options.
- Depending on your heroes, Elf-friend nets you Noldor, Silvan, or both.
... plus of course, dozens of other ways to add one trait at a time. Get yourself a Craftsman, like Master of the Forge or a handful of others. Or, grab an ally from any of the many fealties that don't match your heroes. If you picked your heroes right, it'll only take one or two allies to get you set up, and you could easily have a deck full of possible choices, to make sure you draw at least one early.
So in conclusion, playing Free Peoples is probably easier than you think. Give it a try!