This guy has had a problematic time earning the community's acceptance. It's understandable, but I do think he's kind of under-rated. The problems with this card lie entirely in the comparison to the much more popular Defender of Rammas, and as such that's also probably the best way to review him. So what are the differences? Warden of Helm's Deep has one less , one more hit point, a Sentinel keyword, costs one more resource, and is in the sphere rather than .

Obvious point first, 3-cost instead of 2 is a big issue. I could trot out the tired old "Cost is less significant in " argument, but that's more significant if the card in question is clearly worth the resources you're paying but it might be hard to get those resources without help. So what we have to consider is whether the Warden of Helm's Deep is in fact worth the 3 resources he costs. It should of course be noted that if you use Théoden then this guy only costs 2 as the first ally in a round, and given Rohan can also be a bit weak on defence, that's certainly a place where this ally fits in very well. Whether he fits in other contexts where you have to pay full price is more in question however.

3 /2 versus 4 / is an interesting debate to consider. As far as considering what single attacks each ally can survive they're obviously equivalent, but with multiple attacks for 4 the Warden will require healing to maintain that durability. On the other hand 3 is still very good for an ally, enough to block the average enemy without concerns, while that extra hit point could soak up a point of archery or other direct damage, or in some quests could of course save you from a nasty undefended when you get that dreaded "Deal damage to the defending character" shadow effect. Especially with healing becoming more of an assumption and a necessity in some recent quests rather than the simple option it started out as, the argument could be made in favour of the Warden over the Defender, but it's pretty close.

The big deal here is that Sentinel keyword (in multiplayer). Of course arguing that simply being a Sentinel is worth an extra resource is a difficult case to make, it brings back thoughts of those old punching bags the Silverlode Archer and Horseback Archer who followed a similar principle with Ranged. I would argue in mitigation though that Sentinel on a good defender is more significant. Partly this is because strong defenders are rarer than strong attackers, so being able to throw defences across the table may be more significant than throwing attack around; and partly it's because Sentinel is less common than Ranged - a search for allies with Sentinel turns up 16 results (plus 3 who can gain Sentinel under certain conditions). Of those 16, only 3 innately have 3+ , of which one is the Warden; one is Déorwine, who is unique; and one is the Winged Guardian, who either costs extra or is temporary. The Longbeard Sentry is good if you're OK to keep discarding from your deck, or Derndingle Warrior if you have healing available (though of course having healing also makes the Warden good, as noted above), and of course Guardian of Arnor is amazing if you have some enemies engaged, but the point is strong Sentinel defenders are not that common a resource. I will note here that in fact Ranged attackers are less common than Sentinel defenders, but most of those Sentinels aren't particularly strong defenders, and the strength is more significant on defence since (generally) can't be pooled.

In the end, while there are some mitigating factors, the Warden of Helm's Deep probably isn't as good value for resources as the Defender of Rammas. I wish he had an ability, even if it was something really minor, just something to set him apart, or failing that, just giving him 2 rather than 1 would be something. But on the other hand it could be argued that the Defender's incredible value for resources is unbalanced in the first place while the Warden is on a more reasonable level. As such I'd say that a deck looking for a decent ally defender should at least consider him, and in particular for such a deck which is also using Théoden he's a great choice.

This is a rather niche card, but much better than a lot of people give it credit for. The significant issue with it is that it doesn't deal any additional damage itself, it only moves damage that is already there. Which means there needs to already be some spare damage lying around to be moved - which then raises the question of why you don't just kill the enemy that's already damaged instead of moving the damage to another enemy? The thing is there can be some decent reasons for that.

The classic one which I think a lot of people will consider is if the first enemy is stuck in a trap and thus not a threat to you. If you have an enemy in a Forest Snare then there's no real need for you to ever kill it, so you might as well stick a few damage on it when you have the actions to spare, thus setting up future use of Infighting. Or equally if you have an enemy stuck on Ranger Spikes and some means of attacking it in the staging area. Furthermore you could combo this up by placing some of that damage using Forest Patrol - just obviously being careful not to kill the trapped enemy since then you lose your damage sponge. Of course the problem with this is that it's only really effective if you manage to trap an enemy with a decent hit point pool, but which you can damage easily (Forest Patrol adds another card to the required combo while the efficacy of placing the damage by attacking depends on the enemy's ) and which doesn't have some negative effect for being in play/in the staging area/engaged with a player. And of course in the Ranger Spikes example it only works if you can attack in the staging area, in which case you often want to power up your to the point where you kill things in one hit, which doesn't work for this, and without scrying (which would be adding another layer of complexity) you can't target Ranger Spikes on a specific enemy. Forest Snares are easier, but they cost 3, which is a bit much if this is the only reason you're using them, when you could get some better combat power for less resources and just kill the enemy. Could be a nice combo with Dunedain though.

The thing is, I think a lot of people consider the potential in that combo, figure out how complicated and difficult it'd be - and consequently how inconsistent - and reject Infighting entirely as a result. Which isn't fair, because the card is not limited to that one potential setup. That's kind of an ideal situation, where you can have a tough enemy with 5 or 6 damage on it ready to be moved over to nuke another fairly tough enemy as soon as it comes off the encounter deck; but just because the ideal situation isn't going to come up reliably doesn't mean there aren't other, less ideal uses of the card which are still good. I would draw a simple comparison between this card and another 1-cost event, Feint. Now Feint is a staple of pretty much all decks ever, but let's compare the two. Feint prevents an enemy attacking. Infighting can prevent an enemy attacking and kill it for you as well. Clearly Infighting is the more powerful effect in that instance, with the proviso that it requires more setup to make it work that way. But if that setup is in place, it is simply a more powerful effect for the same cost. Hell, if you have enough damage to kill the enemy in the staging area it's effectively a Radagast's Cunning as well. And this doesn't necessarily require you to move lots of damage. If you move 1 damage and that kills an enemy before it attacks, then that's easily worth it.

As an addendum, one additional advantage of Infighting over just attacking and killing enemies yourself is that it potentially substitutes for Ranged - if an enemy is engaged with a deck that's not built for combat and you don't have much Ranged to kill it from across the table, Infighting could potentially make a sizeable difference by letting the combat deck attack one of its own engaged enemies and then have the damage moved over to kill the enemy in front of the questing deck. In general though, you probably want to be getting at least some of this damage from effects other than simply attacking, so we ask what effects?

Well, there are plenty of options: Thalin is one of the simplest and easiest since he'll put a damage on every enemy that gets revealed ensuring that there's plenty lying around. Of course it's still only 1 damage per enemy so unless you're dealing with some very weak enemies you'll probably want to supplement that with other effects. Argalad is another hero option, and one of which I am rather fond. Anborn is a good one, especially given the potential combo with Sword-thain+Wingfoot. Descendant of Thorondor is good though expensive for getting more concentrated damage out, and you could just Sneak Attack to dodge the cost. Of course you could also Sneak Attack Gandalf to the same end. Skyward Volley is a great option in this regard as well with the option to spread you instances of 2 damage around as you like. Gondorian Spearman and Spear of the Citadel are classics in this area for good reason. Finally, I mentioned traps further up, and if you're going for a Ranger/Trap thing, then Ranger Bow and more notably Poisoned Stakes could work excellently to provide you with quite a bit of damage which you can then shift around the place. If you're fortunate enough to get Poisoned Stakes on a high hit point enemy, you could potentially play Infighting over and over again to have that one poisoned enemy end up killing all the others. To be clear, you don't by any means need all of these options for Infighting to be good, but grab a few of them and you should have some pretty good options available.

In the end, I admit, a case could certainly be made that Infighting isn't exactly an optimal choice. But if we all played optimally all the time, we'd be using the same three or four decks forever. What Infighting is, however, is a fun and different way of dealing with enemies if you're willing to put some effort into preparing it. It doesn't work in a vacuum, but if you're willing to put some effort into the shenanigans then they can be rather effective as well as very fun.

Henneth Annun Guard is a card I really want to like. When I first saw it I was very positive about him, but I'm not sure if I've ever actually used him in a game. It's something of a common problem among the optional Doomed cards that they'd clearly be worth it if their optional Doomed effect was just an innate ability, but requiring an extra cost for it makes it less appealing. The Henneth Annun Guard might be debatable even on that front, but he'd certainly be a bit easier of a prospect were that the case. The optional Doomed is certainly valuable - it's essentially a one-shot use of ally Arwen but slightly better since it's +2 instead of only +1. Since a lot of decks can depend on Arwen's ability to grant Sentinel if not so often the boost, The Henneth Annun Guard could be useful as a backup measure if you don't draw Arwen in a timely fashion, or of course now a lot of the time hero Arwen will be in play so this may be used as a partial substitute (or a backup measure if you don't draw Dúnedain Signal in a timely fashion). An odd but effective use of this ability could be if you want to use Valour - Doomed obviously synergises well with Valour, and in particular granting Sentinel to another character would allow you to get more bang for your buck with Hold Your Ground! The biggest disadvantage of the ability is that it's a one-shot and has to be triggered in the planning phase, where depending on decks and quest you may find by the time combat arrives that the boost might have been better applied elsewhere. For all that though, it's only Doomed 1, which is very manageable. So why doesn't this guy see more play?

Well, he costs 3 resources. That's always difficult. It's a whole round's worth of resources in mono-. As useful as his ability is, since it's a one-shot it's not something you're going to be depending on and therefore build around, so you have to assume you can manage without it and so if you can manage without it why bother including it when it comes attached to a costly ally? But the big problem lies in his stats, and relatedly in the way people tend to build their decks. 0/2/2/2 isn't a bad statline for a combat ally by any stretch of the imagination. 2 and 2 isn't going to survive much as a defender, but it's still certainly usable, and 2 is certainly useful. The thing is though, it's a versatile statline rather than a focused one, and while I'm an advocate for versatile statlines, I advocate them much more on heroes than I do on allies, because heroes are always there while allies you have to draw and play. And that's how people build their decks, rather than include one ally who can attack or defend as needed they're more likely to include two allies, one who can attack and one who can defend - especially since the sphere includes such cost-effective options as the Defender of Rammas and Galadhon Archer in this regard (not to mention the cost curve skewing nature of the Dúnedain Hunter). When you can get the or you need for cheap, you don't necessarily want to splash out on a more expensive option who is more flexible but not quite as good at either.

With all that said, I think the time may be ripe for a re-examination of the Henneth Annun Guard. I do like the ability, potential for strong ally defenders has definitely expanded since his release, there's that tantalising Valour Hold Your Ground! possibility to consider; and most significantly, a flexibly statted combat ally with the Warrior trait seems made to be combo'd with Raiment of War and perchance Narya, so his potential stock has definitely risen noticeably since his release.

I think the high cost is his biggest drawback. At a cost of 2 I think he is much more playable and can help get players on their feet if there is an aggressive encounter deck. An already strong defender can take on an even nastier attack for a turn or a weaker ally can help mitigate some of the attacks, getting the weight off of another key defender. And you can get an ally on top of that! Those 3 resources though... —

Word of Command is a card which can often seem better in theory than in practice. In the right deck it can be pretty amazing though. So let's take a look. You get to search your entire deck for any card of your choice and add it to your hand. That's incredibly powerful. However it does require you to exhaust an Istari character, and there aren't many of those in the game - only Gandalf, Radagast, Gandalf, Saruman and Gandalf. Hero Gandalf is obviously the most reliable option but that means you're using up a hero action on this - specifically the action of a 14 threat hero with powerful stats which you might want to use or indeed be relying on using - though those stats mean you may already want to give him action advantage with Unexpected Courage or Shadowfax. Core Gandalf and Saruman are temporary allies - though handily if you can wait you can use Word of Command in the refresh phase after characters ready but before the temporary ally is discarded. Hobbit Gandalf is a pretty good option if you can stomach the threat, since he has built-in action advantage, but as noted, threat. Radagast has no downside but isn't particularly useful in general, and as useful as Word of Command can be, it's probably not worth playing a 5-cost ally for no other purpose.

If you can manage the cost though? Any card from your deck for that exhaust plus 1 resource is a pretty good deal. An obvious and significant use is that you can use it to grab any of those cards with the annoying "Limit 1 per deck" restriction if you wnt to use them more reliably. Path of Need is an obviously powerful choice, but I'm also somewhat partial to The Fall of Gil-Galad for shenanigans. Justice Shall Be Done would also be a great shenanigans option. On the other hand, you can also use it when you simply need/want a particular card at a particular time, like wanting A Test of Will for security, Feint when you have too many attacks, that sort of thing. Or of course, finding crucial cards for your deck when you haven't been lucky enough to get them in your opening hand/mulligan/early draws. Like Light of Valinor, Steward of Gondor, Master of the Forge or other such mulligan cards. In a pinch, if your hero Gandalf deck likes its action advantage, you could make a case for exhausting Gandalf for Word of Command to grab Unexpected Courage which you can then play and ready him, leaving you with the same number of actions you otherwise would've had for that round, but one more in subsequent rounds for the rest of the game.

The main reason Word of Command can be viewed as less useful in practice than in theory is that often a lot of decks will prefer to use cards which let them draw a higher number of unidentified cards rather than a single specific one. With the ability to just draw 2 for free with Daeron's Runes or Deep Knowledge, or 3 for 1 in the right deck with Mithrandir's Advice, paying 1 and exhausting a very powerful character for only one card may not seem like such a great idea, unless it's a particularly useful card. Add to that the fact that while Word of Command is cheap, unless you use hero Gandalf it's a 2 card combo and thus less reliable. Ironically one good use for Word of Command would be to find combo pieces, but it is itself a combo if triggering it with one of the allies, so you have to open the box with the crowbar you find inside.

Despite all those difficulties, I really like Word of Command and wonder if perhaps I should use it more often. With the allies it's unreliable but can be a useful option, with hero Gandalf it's incredibly potent if you can cope without the action. Worth consideration at least.

This is an interesting and somewhat variable card. I like it a lot but it's difficult to make it work consistently in a lot of quests. Moving the top card of the discard pile back onto the encounter deck in general merely gives you the advantage of foreknowledge. Which is useful to have, but it's not necessarily worth 2 resources, though at least they are neutral resources so anyone can pay for this card. The best reason to play this card is not just because you want to know in advance what the next encounter card is, but furthermore because it's a card you actually want to see revealed.

So why would you want to see a particular card revealed? Well, obviously because it's a relatively nice card. In some cases it may simply be that it's low threat; or that it's a location when you're getting swarmed by enemies; or an enemy when you're at risk of location lock. Sometimes of course there are even those rare cards which under the right circumstances actually do nothing. There's at least one treachery in the Angmar Awakened cycle which under certain conditions is Doomed 2 and nothing else, and I could certainly see the benefit in recycling that unless you're particularly worried about your threat. Mostly the general, not quest-specific instances of these gentle or nothing cards are from earlier in the life of the game - if you're using Thalin then any 1 HP enemy becomes a dead card, earlier quests had more 1 threat cards which are obviously far preferable to pretty much any other card in the encounter deck, any location with only 2 quest points can be instantly explored by Asfaloth (with Glorfindel) so it has no real impact on the board-state, that sort of thing. More recently, a slightly different one is of course that in a Sailing quest you could return to the top of the encounter deck a card with a wheel on it so you know you only have to commit one character to the next Sailing test. And even now there are a fair number of locations with beneficial effects when they're explored, so there might be a case when you particularly want to trigger one of those effects (Perhaps the most notable being the Seat of Seeing in Breaking of the Fellowship in campaign mode - very helpful in the long run if you can do it). But then there are also a fair number of even more quest-specific cases, which may be the more interesting ones. Certainly they're the cases where Shadow of the Past really comes into its own.

Item one in this category is objectives for victory. Signs of Gollum in Hunt For Gollum; Athelas in Journey to Rhosgobel; Gollum in Dead Marshes if he gets shuffled into the encounter deck and goes as a shadow card; the victory point mountains in Redhorn Gate (while not as effective for winning, the Dimrill Stair is also a decent one because of its positive effect on travelling); a card you can match the starting letter of in Watcher in the Water. Again this was more a thing earlier in the life of the game. But this isn't the really juicy stuff to my mind, this is mostly just insurance against your own shuffling of the encounter deck screwing up your chances of victory. Correcting an issue in the design of the quests where crucial objectives could be lost as shadow cards and force the players to sit around until the whole encounter deck got reshuffled and then try again. I'd inlude Shadow of the Past for a bunch of these quests, but I wouldn't be particularly enthused about playing it.

Item two is the good stuff. Non-essential but very helpful/fun objectives, such as: Grimbeorn the Old in Conflict at the Carrock; Rangers of Ithilien in Massing at Osgiliath; the random bits of equipment in Long Dark and Foundations of Stone; Ithilien Guardians in Into Ithilien; Misty Mountain Eagles in Battle of Five Armies; the Gildor Inglorion boon in Shadow of the Past in campaign mode (and further if you add him to the campaign pool); Tom Bombadil in Old Forest and Fog on the Barrow Downs; and the Dunedain of Annuminas in Siege of Annuminas. All of these can be very helpful to get a hold of, so in my opinion well worth spending two neutral resources to retrieve if they go as shadows. Of note, some of them (Gildor and Bombadil at least, off the top of my head) don't even surge, at which point your 2-cost neutral Shadow of the Past is providing a more powerful effect than the 3-cost Gildor's Counsel. A final note on this front is that using Ranger Summons can allow you to seed your own objectives into the encounter deck, those being Rangers of the North, and so in this case Shadow of the Past would be a bit less quest-specific.

So that as far as I'm concerned is the best and most fun use of Shadow of the Past. Beyond that... well, as I said, there are still other instances where simply having that foreknowledge is useful, cases where a bit of control over the enemy to location ratio could be helpful, and cases where you want a certain card recycled because of the positive effect you get for defeating it. And occasionally even now there can be dead cards. This card can certainly be at least a valid consideration for decks focused on encounter deck manipulation, but in a lot of cases it may be best as a sideboard card to swap in where it'll be particularly useful rather than an all-the-time thing.