This is one of those cards which just fits perfectly into its archetype. The Dunedain deck archetype is all about keeping enemies engaged. The drawback of this is of course that barring Forest Snares you need to keep finding ways to handle the defences of all those enemies to continue reaping the benefits. You may have a solid plan for them, but then something revealing too many additional enemies (e.g. via Surge) or shadow effects triggering extra attacks can throw a spanner in the works of said plan. Or maybe you're short on ways to handle those enemies until you can get more of a board-state - but you can't easily get out that board-state until you're gaining the benefits of having the enemies engaged, a seeming catch 22 which can only be resolved by some big boost. In all of these circumstances Descendants of Kings comes up trumps.

If all you need is to defend all your attacks, then by readying Dunedain characters equal to your engaged enemies you ensure that even if everyone was exhausted before playing it, Descendants of Kings will allow you to defend everything (so long as your characters are up to the defences, of course). If you have some characters already ready or have already done some defences then you'll have ready characters left over who may be able to attack (perhaps at Ranged so you maintain your engaged enemies bonuses but help out other players) or trigger other effects (e.g. A Very Good Tale, Beravor or Tale of Tinúviel off the top of my head). It's also worth noting that this is a generic action, not limited to the Combat phase, adding to its flexibility. Oh, and we mustn't forget that it only costs a single resource. For one resource this is potentially a hugely potent effect.

Of course this card can potentially also work outside of a Dunedain deck. In or out of a Dunedain deck, it's important of course that the effect is based off the number of enemies engaged with you specifically at the time you play it, so you can choose to use it at the most opportune moments - as opposed to the Dunedain lynchpin Heir of Valandil, which requires that the enemies stick around into the Planning phase. Whether you're playing a Dunedain deck which only wants to keep a certain number of enemies for HoV and other bonuses, or you're playing a regular deck (but using a reasonable number of Dunedain characters) which just wants to kill its enemies efficiently, it's helpful that you can time this card for maximum benefit at the moment when you're engaged with the most enemies and have most or all of your eligible targets exhausted. The primary use is certainly in Dunedain decks but other decks may have a use for it from time to time, especially given how cheap it is.

Ultimately, engaging a bunch of enemies in this game can be a risky prospect, especially in a Dunedain context where you keep them around into subsequent rounds, and when that risk backfires on you, Descendants of Kings is one of the perfect ways to pull your game back out of the fire.

On release I like this card, viewing it as one more piece of the developing Ent deck. Since then my appreciation has grown, and the Derndingle Warrior is pretty much my go-to defensive ally in most contexts now as well as one of the key components of the Ent deck.

So, the standard Ent disadvantage of 'Enters play exhausted' is a problem, but once that's resolved, what do you get? Well, for starters there are very few Sentinel allies costing less than 3, which can be significant for multiplayer. Of those, the Derndingle Warrior's 2 /3 makes him the sturdiest alongside Dwalin (who is unique, and only cheap in a Dwarf deck). Of course they're still not the best defensive stats for the long term, and options for boosting them are limited by the Derndingle Warrior's inability to have attachments (though a Hauberk of Mail would go nicely), but then I haven't mentioned the ability yet.

Now the Derndingle Warrior's ability involves dealing damage to him, so if you want to rely on it repeatedly then you will need healing and/or hit point boosts, but in exchange for that 1 damage the Warrior boosts up to 5 , which is the best you're likely to see on an ally and enough to not take damage from the attacks of the vast majority of enemies in this game. If you can get past that one round where the Warrior is exhausted and give him a bit of support he can easily cover all defences for you for an entire game.

As noted, he is limited in potential boosts, but there are options - in addition to the already-mentioned Hauberk of Mail, he's obviously a great target for an Ent Draught since his ability gives you all the you need so long as you have the hit points to keep triggering it. And of course Narya is a great one with Ents in general - note however that the Derndingle Warrior's ability only lasts through one attack, so if you have him defend multiple times you may need to deal additional damage (though not necessarily, since after using Narya he's already at a base of 3, which may be good enough without the additional boost. Whether you use these options or not, the other key element for supporting a Derndingle Warrior is some form of healing - with the obvious options being Warden of Healing, Imladris Caregiver or of course Wellinghall Preserver (and even in a dedicated Ent deck which wants to keep its Booming Ents at high healing them works since you damage them again when they defend and therefore before you attack).

The Derndingle Warrior is obviously a big deal to an Ent deck as their strongest defensive option, but he can also fill that role for any number of other decks which otherwise have nothing to do with Ents. He's just that good.

This card was largely panned by a lot of reviewers when it came out because it is situational, and unfortunately a lot of players fall into trap of being biased towards thinking only "easy" cards that play well in every situation are good. I personally think it comes from a competitive LCG/CCG mentality but I'll leave that alone for now.

Conditions aside, the effect is fantastic. A +3 stat boost for 0 cost is almost always a really good deal, but the beauty of this card is you get it in attack or defense. While attack boosts are a bit more common, defense boosts tend to be a bit harder to come by. +3 is a good relevant number also because it's just enough to take a non-defensively focused hero (and maybe even ally) to a point where he can answer an attack from most boss enemies and likely survive. What is even better is the flexibility though, you get either/or depending on the needs of the situation, and flexibility is often a quality that's hard to judge at face value and not always terribly apparent when looking at a card in a vacuum. The one draw back is that it only lasts for one attack, but since most characters in the game are not going to have a source of action advantage most of the time, that's all it really needs to do in the majority of cases.

The conditions to play this card are definitely limiting, but that just means that barring certain scenarios, it's a card that is designed to be good in a very specific deck... namely the trap deck. It combos great with Damrod and traps like Ithilien Pit and Entangling Nets because these cards effectively turn into 0 cost markers, that make an enemy eligible to card effects like this one on top of their printed card effects of the trap itself. However, the use of this card isn't only confined to trap decks. There are two other situations where it plays well.

  1. More and more scenarios seem to be including treachery (or even enemy!) cards that turn into enemy attachments. Some good examples are the nazgul and morgul attachments in the Black Riders box, and the Warg enemies that become attachments in Race Across Harad for a couple of examples. This card is definitely a great sideboard card for these quests and others like them.

  2. Many people probably don't realize this but with guarded cards that are guarded by enemies, the guarded card is considered an attachment on the enemy. This makes this card great with the growing "class" of guarded player card attachments like Necklace of Girion, The Arkenstone, and Orcrist, allowing you to play them and then more easily kill (or defend) the enemies guarding them. Valour of the North is only going to increase in value as more of these "guarded" player cards come out, as well as scenarios that make use of the mechanic on objective cards.

All in all, this card is worth a second look as atleast a solid sideboard item, and you might be surprised how great it works out in a deck built with traps or guarded player cards. It can really be a life saver in the right situation. I hope we continue to see more cards like this, situational but very powerful in their niche situations, as they are what makes the game as well as deckbuilding fun and diverse.

I hope you don't mind too mch, since this isn't reallly the right place... Where do you take the ruling that guarded cards on enemies count as attachments? Couldn't find anything (not that i'm doubting you or anything...) —
Nope....that's a great question. I don't recall where that ruling came from. I'll do some research when I get a chance. —
Nothing says "valour" like stabbing a guy in a net. —
I feel like this card's wording got mixed up during development - I think the original idea was to buff a character with an attachment instead (considering it's from the Dale box, the art on the card, and the flavour text). —

"The world is taming with dangerous foes, now it's my job to go through those corrupted lands and restore some peace."

Merry is clearly my favorite hero in the game so far, why ?

Threat reduction monster :

First, he offers one of the most efficient way to reduce your threat during the whole game. As a Secrecy player, I love to add him when I have the opportunity since his threat is so low and he will always help you out for questing. Threat reduction is essential to the game, even for decks not bulding around Secrecy, especially when you want to go in the most difficult scenarios and/or nightmare modes. Merry is certainly not the only hero allowing you to take care of that dangerous threat : Aragorn is able to put you back to your starting value, which can be really powerfull depending on your building, but this is only a one-shot effect (and you have to activate it at the best timing, putting you in difficult positions at times). The recent other hobbit Folco Boffin is a nice way to reduce your threat by 7 at any moment in the game in but then again, you will miss a hero ( Strider would be a possibility). Galadriel is maybe the only hero that allows a constant threat reduction during the game if you equip her with Unexpected Courage. But the threat reduction is not great by itself, it only counters the natural +1 threat at the begining of your turn. The real power of this Galadriel is to draw an additional card each turn. Beregond and Fastred are two interesting options to consider, but they recquire to defend (and survive) the attacks of ennemies, while Merry does it without engaging anyone.

Even better against hard scenarios :

The amount of threat reduction provided by Merry heavely depends on the encounter deck. Scenarios with high threat monsters like The morgul vale are really easy to beat with him since he becomes a power-house and allows you to stay out of sight during the whole game and keep playing cheap Secrecy cards. The number of encounter cards you draw is also key to his success : in many scenarios, cards with surge, or effects that reveal aditional encounter cards each turn like in one of the possible endings of The Steward's fear, make him even better since you have more chances to trigger him. In multiplyer, Merry is a beast, no need to explain obviously.

Versatile card :

Merry is not that powerfull if you don't have any way to make him quest when no ennemies are revealed (in solo, that happens quite often). But equip him with Hobbit Pony and he then becomes much more reliable since his 2 willpower will always be usefull. Merry is not a game-changing hero like Elrond and his stats are mediocre in comparison with the mighty Glorfindel : he will only be interesting for questing and threat reduction, which is already nice of course, but not instant win. His power comes with late game since you won't have to engage ennemies, no matter how long the game is. He has the Hobbit trait, which will allow some nice interations with heroes like Pippin for exemple, but he perfectly works out of Hobbit decks. He is manly disigned to be played in any deck that lacks some threat reduction engin. Encounter deck manipulation cards like Denethor or Risk Some Light are also great with him since you will be able to planify what comes next and let Merry avaible to trigger on the best target.

Personal Taste :

Eventually, Merry also has a beautifull illustration. The yellow background with the shadows of the trees produces nice colorfull tones, and the twisted look of the place reminds us of the corrupted Mikwood. Merry has a dynamic pose, we can imagine he's looking ahead to see if any danger is coming. I like the fact that he's facial expression is ambiguous, we can't really tell if he's afraid or amazed by what he sees. The ambient text is really coherent with the artwork : this Merry is not a fighter like Merry, he's more like a silent scout, looking ahead for trouble and allowing his allies to avoid problems.

A great hero that can easily join any party.

3

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,

301