Let me explain why Saruman is one the best heroes of the game.
First, his stats. Notice this sweet 4 , wich makes him the second best fighter after Beorn (but Saruman can wear Attachments ). His is good to, but nothing special for someone with this threat level. His is a bit behind (although he can take A Burning Brand against nasty shadows effects, i wouldn't make him my main defender).
Nonetheless, he can make a better use from his stats than any other hero, because he has the best readying ability of the game. Most champions have some kind of limitation : Prince Imrahil's is once per round, Elladan or Elrohir are limited to special windows of the combat phase. And you don't need to pay ressources or loose an ally : it's just a bonus effect from all your Doomed cards, many of them already being top-tier cards (you loved Deep Knowledge ? Consider it now gains the printed text "Ready Saruman").
Of course, Doomed increase your Threat level, and it's hard to reduce yours when you have Saruman (remember, his limitation is only for player cards, so encounter cards can lower your threat by more than one. ). So here are your possibilites :
- Start low (for example, with The Grey Wanderer contract)
- Mitigate your increase with his staff
- Take some 1-threat reduction cards (Galadriel or her handmaiden, Nori, Frodo Baggins,... )
- Use shenanigans. Go The Fall of Gil-Galad, or in multiplayer Desperate Alliance him away.
Did i just said shenanigans ? Cause you know the best card for shenanigans is ? Word of Command. And what better way to play this exhausting-istari event than a Istari whith build-in readying ? Yes, Saruman is an Istari. Go play with your pipe and make all Gandalf does better. For he is only grey when you are Saruman of Many Colours !