This card with Beregond is legit amazing. It's a great way to keep enemies occupied and out of the encounter deck. I legit do not want to kill them because it's like you are just toying with them.

[How do I make this review 200 characters long...]

I found this to be an incredibly useful card in some decks. Since it isn't unique, you can play two or even three of these Errand-Riders, which means you could move up to THREE resources per turn.

Paired with Steward of Gondor, this can supply other decks with much needed resources in a pinch and even in solo-play I found that the resource smoothing helped a lot.

Veteran Sword-elf is a very strange card by design. Costing 3 resources for a 1/1/1/3 statline is not a good deal. 3 health is good and goes a long way in helping with blocking enemy attacks and soaking archery damage. Of course, one would not be running this card only for a 1/1/1/3 statline. Ideally, with it's special ability, it should higher, turning this elf into a killing machine. It's Noldor and Warrior traits enhance this aspect, allowing for some great interactions with cards such as Warrior Sword and Fair and Perilous.

The unfortunate issue is that its special ability is not that good.

Now, the card is by no means a complete right off, but it's intent and the way its design impacts play is strange. Allow me to elucidate.

The issues arrive from needing to have other copies Veteran Sword-elf in the discard pile for the elf to be worth playing. The first challenge is finding all 3 copies to get full value. Its viable with only one copy in the discard pile, becoming a cheaper, but less versatile variant of Haldir of Lórien. The second challenge is the cost. 3 resources is a lot. Paying this high cost should develop your board state substantially and provide value to help you win the game. Veteran Sword-elf does not provide this value and impact unless there is already another copy in the discard pile. Often, I find myself asking "if I had a different ally, would I be in a better position?". The answer is unfortunately in most scenarios yes.

Assuming best case scenario, Veteran Sword-elf will be a 1/3/3/3 with 2 copies in the discard pile. A good deal for 3 resources. However, with such high stats, ideally you should be making use of multiple of them, or one of them multiple times. This makes this elf an attractive target for cards such as Narya and Ever Vigilant. If you are not making use of multiple stats, then I question the value of having a fully powered Sword-elf. I'm not using it for questing, there are better options for the cost in sphere such as Meneldor. For attacking, I could use Marksman of Lórien. For defence, I could use Defender of Rammas or Derndingle Warrior, both of which are cheaper. And all of which are immediately powerful, without having to have 2 dead cards in the discard pile (how many times must I say some variant of Sword-elf and discard pile?? :) ). One way to view the Sword-elf is that the 2 copies in the discard pile are no cost "attachments" that buff the elf. However, you would get more impact by including a single copy of a good ally and 2 good attachments that can go on other targets instead of 3 copies of the elf.

Now, admittedly, this review has been from the perspective of playing 1 copy of the elf and buffing it with the other 2 copies. You can play the all copies of elf, with the intent that when the encounter deck becomes really mean and brutal and you lose a copy, you buff 2 copies of the elf. I do disagree. Squire of the Citadel is a card that provides value when he dies. And he is cheap. I shouldn't have to wait for a 3 cost ally to die before the other copies start to provide value.

Now, besides thematic reasons for running the Sword-elf, what sort of decks does this card belong? The elf does have value. Immediately one would think Noldor decks. The card cares about the discard pile (one half of the Noldor archetype, the other being discard).

Veteran Sword-elf does not quite work in Erestor decks. Erestor decks want to burn through their decks fast, which does ensure you power up the elf quickly. However, they also want to shuffle their discard piles back into the deck to play cards again with Will of the West. This results in the Sword-elf going through cycles of being strong to being weak. A tricky thing to balance and make work. It does however, work in Galdor of the Havens decks. You can stack the discard pile with any copies of the elf you have in your starting hand, then dig for the other copies with his activated ability.

There is another deck type that the Sword-elf shines in, although we haven't had dealings with them since the dark days. That's right! Dwarves! Particularly dwarf mining decks (discarding cards from the top of your deck). Dáin Ironfoot makes a great hero to run, allowing you to fill your graveyard with copies of Veteran Sword-elf. He is also in sphere for Stand and Fight, a good insurance policy for if you recklessly play minecraft with your deck and discard the 3rd copy... The classic Imladris Stargazer and Zigil Miner combo can help generate the resources to pay for elf's cost whilst controlling the mining and discarding of the other copies. Given that Zigil miner/Imladris Stargazer combo is used in non dwarf decks, the Sword-elf can be a fun inclusion in those decks.

In conclusion, Veteran Sword-elf is a strange card. There are undoubtedly better choices for that will win a spot in your deck in a competitive analysis. But there are decks where the Sword elf is a fun addition, particularly Dwarf mining and Galdor of the Havens decks. This elf has it's problems, but I encourage you to include it in such decks, get it out of the binder and have a bit of fun.

10
It really should be a 2-cost card. Would work so much better. —
@kjeld That does make it a lot better. I might reduce it's health by 1 if I made it 2 cost, as 1/1/1/3 for 2 is pretty good. Another good house eratta is to make it 2 cost with 1 health, but buff the health for each copy in the discard pile. —

So I recently discovered an absolutely ridiculous combo with this card. You do need to be running a Gandalf+Elrond deck with Vilya, Wizard Pipe and Dwarven Tomb however. You simply put it on top of your deck with the pipe and play it for free with Vilya. Dwarven Tomb allows you to recur and play it for a single resource each time. You can potentially play it for free 3 times and for one spirit resource 3 times if you include 3 copies of it and Dwarven Tomb in a deck. You don't have to use hero Gandalf and can simply pull off the same thing with Stargazer and Elrond+Vilya but Gandalf with his pipe allows you to still play it free with Vilya even when it's in your hand as well. He also allows Dwarven Tomb and even Light The Beacons itself to be played off the top of your deck sans Vilya if need be.

I've been running this combo in a deck I play alongside a Three Hunters Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli deck that runs both Captains of the West and Hour of Wrath. On turns that either or even both of these events are played alongside Light The Beacons; a simply ridiculous amount of questing, defending and/or attacking is all done without exhausting and with boosted willpower and defense. I've defended 10+ attacks with a boosted Gimli alone at around 8 defence in one turn to then easily strike back and destroy most if not all enemies with boosted Legolas and Aragorn and various allies. The counter-attack is due to Hour of Wrath but the combination of the two events is ridiculously strong. Even without Hour of Wrath, Light The Beacons allows a boosted Gimli to defend literally every attack across the board resulting in other characters who may have otherwise been needed to defend attacks and Gimli himself (plus a hero he readies with his ability too potentially) ready to attack instead providing not only a huge boost to defence but also offence as well.

This card is an absolute mvp in these decks basically trivialising combat across several key turns. It can be played only when needed or even as a safety net on turns you know you'll progress to the next quest stage and likely face additional enemies or attacks because of this. Because it lasts for the whole round and not a phase you can play it at the start of a turn or at a later point in the combat phase when you're sure you actually do need its effect. This also allows protection from surprise or additional attacks outside of the combat phase, in some quests this may provide protection against multiple special boss attacks as well as all regular attacks during the combat phase. It's defense boost is honestly Icing on the cake in any deck/s that have a dedicated defender and at least a handful of defense boosting attachments already as the extra boost from Light The Beacons is often unnecessary and instead makes your strongest defender/s into absolute walls instead that nothing except perhaps a dragon or extremely strong boss attack has any chance of getting through and dealing any damage.

Light The Beacons, when used in strong combinations or cheated into play is hands down one of the strongest and best cards in the game.

For me the best thing about this card is that you can play it in the Resource Phase and use its benefits for all sorts of "out of combat" attacks —

Galion is a card that blends his theme with his mechanics beautifully. Theme wise, I've always thought of the Elves as haughty and proud, their celebrations dignified, serious and sombre affairs. But I guess even Elves need to get hammered on the drink on occasion, their friends (as all good ones do) dumping their unconscious body outside their house to regret their life decisions in the morning. In all serious, a drunk elf who is only useful when he arrives but becomes useless as the game goes on is quite the thematic win.

On a more serious note, Galion was created to be a prime target for the Silvan archetype's main additional cost: return a Silvan ally to your hand. The cost of many such Silvan cards (The Tree People, Island Amid Perils etc) is obfuscated as by returning a Silvan to your hand, you need to pay the resources to develop your board state again. Of course, then you get the Silvan ally's enter play effect again hence it's often more of a boon than a cost. Regardless, returning Galion only to play him again for free completely mitigates this cost, allowing the use of Silvan cards without having to sacrifice your board state.

It is impossible to talk about Galion without talking about the other card that came in the set he was released in: The Elvenking. They are a match made in heaven, allowing for a guaranteed no cost ready making The Elvenking a cheap, Silvan only equivalent of Unexpected Courage as well as making Galion perpetually useful, allowing him to commit to the quest each round without the need for a global boost to ensure he is not just a 1 point archery damage soak.

This is where Galion becomes a bit strange in his function. Often when playing a Silvan deck, you want to bounce other Elves to get more value from their enter play effects. However, returning Galion means that you don't get any extra value, but you do save resources (you don't need to pay to put him back into play). Most of the time, this can save you a few resources, although O Lórien! helps mitigate this, effectively reducing the value you get from bouncing Galion. If your deck greatly needs the resources then this is a very valid consideration. However, in certain deck builds, you will often find that you get more value in the enter play effects of other bounced Silvans than bouncing Galion himself, particularly if bouncing effects are inconsistent to draw. Once you've played all your copies of The Tree People and Feigned Voices, or you only draw them a few times during the game, many a time you will often find that you can afford to bounce a more valuable ally than the drunk elf.

It's when you need to consistently bounce Silvans however, that Galion truly shines. And the most consistenct cause of needing to bounce a Silvan Elf is The Elvenking. Without Galion, you often run into the dilemma of not readying the attached hero to preserve your board state, or sacrificing it to get additional use out of a hero. Galion ensures you can always use the Elvenking to full effect.

All in all, Galion is a fun and thematic card. He makes Silvan additional costs cheap, he ensures The Elvenking is always useable and adds more crunch to the Silvan archetype bouncing decision making. Which in my book is good all round.

10