The thing I like about this guy is that his response is after he 'enters play', which opens him up to all sorts of cool combos using the likes of Sneak Attack and To me! O my kinsfolk!, which belong to the same sphere. Another way to use him would be in secrecy with Timely Aid as you are likely to have more of an impact with his ability if you have built up a number of orc enemies in the staging area. With Dáin Ironfoot, he's attacking for 3 and with both the dwarf and warrior traits, the longbeard can have some pretty decent attachments. With a couple of Dwarrowdelf Axes in hand, he's swinging for 5 and dealing 2 direct damage too,

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In some scenarios it's an extremely useful card. Consider the first stage of Into the Pit, where you may have a steady stream of low hp goblins/orcs entering the staging area and you can't optionally engage them...and you know that as soon as you hit stage 2 they will all engage. Thalin is doing one damage as they are revealed from the encounter deck, then pop Longbeard Orc Slayer into play and whammo the staging area is a lot friendlier.

This is now just a standard song, but in the time of release, this card actually gave us first opportunity to create decks without the leadership heroes and still be able to use Sneak Attack and Steward of Gondor. Logical choice of FFG to give us hint, where this game will go... and we all bought it. I still use it a lot. Nice artwork. Verdict: 4/5.

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This card does basically the same what West Road Traveller does, but which one is more effective, depends heavy on situation, i think. I will always prefer ally, cause events are much more situational from my point of view. This one needs to be played right after the location is revealed, while with Traveler, you need to survive quest phase to next round, to be able to switch it in planning phase (if you don't use Sneak Attack). However both are very helpful in dealing with high Threat locations. Artwork is ok. Verdict: 3/5.

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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):

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