Bond of Friendship

Contract.

Your deck must be exactly 50 players cards and include exactly 10 cards from each of these four spheres: , , , and . You cannot include more than 2 copies of any card by title in your deck.

When choosing your starting heroes, you may choose 4 heroes instead of 3. Each of your heroes must belong to a different sphere.

"You can trust us to stick to you through think and thin - to the bitter end."
-Merry, The Fellowship of the Ring
Borja Pindado

The Fortress of Nurn #147. Neutral.

Bond of Friendship
Reviews

While the rules allows you to play with less than 3 heroes, there is almost no deck with one (before The Grey Wanderer) or two heroes. Why ? Because getting more ressources, more stats and more action advantage between your starting characters is more valuable than a lower threat. This contract does the opposite (trading threat for a 4th hero), and that's in my opinion what makes it so powerful : you start with 33% more stats/ressources than the average deck. What downsides will you have in exchange ?

Threat management

With 4 heroes, keep in mind that your starting threat will likely be high. You will probably be forced to face ennemies like the well-know Anduin Troll on the first round, and every scenario focusing your threat level becomes riskier. You could already face this problem when building strong 3-hero lineup (like Gandalf/Elrond/Treebeard), but it becomes common with Bond of Frienship.

Solutions :

  • Use low-threat heroes (Hobbits, Splorfindel, TÉowyn, even Sméagol)
  • Have built-in threat reduction on heroes (Nori, Galadriel, Beregond, Frodo Baggins)
  • Include threat-reducting cards. Because you have to include cards that don't belong to any sphere, Favor of the Valar is a must-have. Good old core set Gandalf too (note that you can't play hero Gandalf with this contract), especially because your increased ressource generation will make him easier to play.
  • Embrace the Valor cards. Angbor the Fearless is a monster when your starting threat is already 40.
Resource & card management

You are forced to play a 4-sphere deck, with exactly 10 cards from each sphere. Having a solution to transfer resources between your heroes may be something you want. Denethor is your man in a gondor line-up. Errand-rider, A Good Harvest are probably some good cards too. And you can always rely on your 10 neutral cards to dump the leftover resources (sometimes even transfering them with a Envoy of Pelargir).

Keep in mind that with two copies of your more valuable cards instead of three, you will not always find them in your starting hand. So either don't play decks that rely to much on many-card combo, or increase the number of fetching cards.

You will probably have to make choices (i always end up with a sphere where trimming down to 10 cards is a pain^^), so you may want to look for alternatives in other spheres. No more place in for threat reduction or discard recursion ? You can give a try to (Nori, Secret Vigil).

Lastly, note that every card that gives an advantage to each hero gets better with this Contract (ex : Tighten Our Belts can net you 4 resources).

Playing thematic

Playing with 4 heroes is really strong, so you could pick the best cards of each sphere and end up with some kind of Avengers team (i'm sure someone will build a One Deck with this contract someday. Edit: done).

But in my opinion Bond of Friendship will give you more fun when trying to build a thematic deck : Gondor or Hobbit are probably the most tailored for, but you can make a Bond of Friendship with almost every archetype of the game. The limitation in the number of copies will give you more variety by forcing you to include more differents cards, and you can end up picking some cards that where in your binders for a very long time :)

Emmental 329
I like "Splorfindel" — Truck 1219

Bond of Friendship may be the most powerful individual card in the entirety of the card pool. While there are some very real restrictions, the benefits far outweigh them to the point where against standard quests I can struggle, I can take on the Nightmare version and feel comfortable. In Emmental's review below he covers restrictions quite well, so I won't go through those again. The benefits though are worth expanding upon, because while the extra hero and resource are powerful in and of themselves, there are some nuances I think make interesting discussion points, and also one I'd like to add.

The extra hero and hero action are not just a 33% increase in your output - they offer some interesting extra choices by allowing a hero to shore up the weaknesses of the other three. For example, playing an ally bouncing deck with Lothíriel, Éomer, and Imrahil is a powerful combination, but card draw is an issue long term with all the allies leaving play. Playing the same style of deck with the Bond of Friendship contract allows taking another hero who can help with card draw, essentially eliminating the weakness of the core idea of the deck right from the start and not requiring you to find the card you need to do it from your deck.

Another example to this point is a Hobbit deck - their chief weakness is being able to defend the enemies they want to engage. Tom is answer within the archetype, but if you're taking Tom, one of Sam, Merry, or Pippin normally can't be in the deck. Playing in contract allows you to take the extra hero to shore up the defensive weakness - usually it's Tom and SpMerry using Thorongil to get back to his Tactics version, but you could also use Beregond with the three classic hobbits and keep your threat right where it starts.

Another benefit of the extra hero is with global benefits - More dwarves for Dáin to benefit, starting with 4 dwarves (or 5 if using Bombur) to proc Thorin, or more Dale characters for Brand. It also allows global boosts to have more targets to start with - things like Sword that was Broken or Faramir can be worth playing earlier if you can because they have more targets in play.

The benefit the contract offers that gets overlooked most is the fact that you have access to cards from each sphere, and all that that entails. You don't need to make difficult decisions about which sphere to leave out, and to which element of game play you no longer have access. If the Hero combination you want doesn't have a lore hero, you don't need to give up on healing, scrying, or card draw, or settle for less efficient options. While you can still play those staples using A Good Harvest or the Songs, it requires multiple card combo's, and enough card draw to make it work. In a Bond of Friendship, you just have access to those right from the start.

There are some very powerful staples in each sphere that will always make a deck stronger, or more resilient. Things like Steward of Gondor or Faramir; A Test of Will or The Galadhrim's Greeting; Feint or Gondorian Shield; Gléowine or Warden of Healing. Being able to take all of them, even with the limitation of 2x, is going to make a deck handle a more broad set of situations than you may otherwise.

The 10 card restriction per sphere I've found is actually a really enjoyable part of deck building - I want this card, what have I got in other spheres that can do the same thing? Or which of my other cards in this sphere have replacements in other spheres? The chain reaction of moving cards in and out when deck building is delightfully puzzling, I enjoy building Bond decks as a result.

I'll also leave you with this thought - you can now take Beravor, and still have 3 hero actions without needing to find any readying. The restrictions are enough to stop it from being easy mode, but it's not far off - an extra resource and two extra cards per turn, with access to all four spheres. Insanely strong.

Mythik 126
I agree that is is a very powerful (and fun!) card, and really takes out one of the main problems solo: which sphere to exclude. Also, staring with 4 heroes is a very powerful advantage — BlackArrow 248

I think this card is very good, but be careful! Whatever you do, do not make Gandalf, Elrond, Gwaihir and Aragorn Friends, cuz "Starting : 52." I think this contract is best with Hobbits. They are all low and if you include Merry he gets 4 . Question. Can you use MotK heroes with this contract? That would mean using 2 Contracts, right? I don't own A Shadow in the East, so I did not read the rules of Contracts.

Overall 10/10.

Truck 1219
Gandalf cannot be choosen with contract, because he belongs to no sphere. — Emmental 329
> Can you use MotK heroes with this contract?" No. Only one contract may be used at a time. — ellipticaltable 183
But a 50 threat line-up (like Cirdan/Elrond/Aragorn/Gwahir) could be legit if you were playing « The Black Gate open » — Emmental 329
surprised this is the only review — Truck 1219
nevermind, there is another review — Truck 1219
How would you resolve the max 50 card deck in a saga campaign. Boon cards earned don't count towards deck minimum (which is 50 cards). Contract states no more than 50 cards in deck. So does that mean you cannot include boon cards as the rules create a paradox? — Asgardian Phil 25
The way I've reasoned it is the contract states deck must have exactly 50 cards which overrides the core rule book minimum 50 card rule. Then seeing as there is no min or max under this contract the boon cards that are classed as neutral player cards count towards the exact 50 card count. — Asgardian Phil 25