This is literally the most broken card in the entire game. And I mean design-fail level flawed one. It just must be auto-include in any deck able to cast it (having hero with a lore resource icon, or Song of Wisdom). The card costs nothing. It replaces itself, filters a player deck and you can even play it when you draw it and quest prevents you from getting any resources (I mean no rebuy, just zero cost). Imagine you have two combo piecies in your deck and no limit for a number of copies in a deck. Would you be better running 25 card A and 25 card be? Or one copy of card A, one copy of card B, and 48 copies of this madness? You could draw 15 cards A in a row and never assemble the combo. Similarly, you must have noticed how Surge keyword is anoying. Imagine simple treachery card: "The first player chooses a character. Deal 1 damage to that character. Surge." Well, encounter deck consisting only of copies of such card would make you lose on the spot! In Magic the Gathering, this would be the best card printed ever, like 500% than Black Lotus. I don't get how this could ever see print.

I personally disagree that this is the most design-warping card in the game (I'm more partial to thinking so of Smoke Rings myself, as it necessitates limits on the number of Pipes they create) but I definitely agree with you that it is broken. Yes, FFG, free card draw/filtering is good. —

What I love about Sam Gamgee is the theme. In the books/movies Sam is super loyal to Mr. Frodo (as Sam would say). And I think this card captures his loyalty very well. Whenever an enemy came around the corner, Sam, no matter how tired he was, would go and defend Frodo. And this card in my opinion is one of my favorites in the game.

Great review. Captures the personality of Sam. —
I LOVE Sam! He's just the best! Period!!! —

I have not played Gondor decks very often, but once I did, I found this ally very useful. He is the generic Gondorian Soldier that was missing for a very long time. Takes advantage of all the usual Gondor boosts from Boromir and Visionary Leadership as well as For Gondor!, and since Gondor wants to swarm allies as quick as possible, his fetching ability is great, too, and even more precise than including card draw. He even has some kind of Valour support, a direction to which the Gondor decks got pushed a bit in the last cycle. Overall a great ally for his cost, and he really elevates the archetype in my opinion.

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After buying the Watcher in the Water and trying it out, I can say with certainty that my pre-purchase thoughts about the card were correct;

1) 0 cost threat reduction is ridiculously good.

2) The "additional cost," like the additional cost to play Knight of the White Tower, is so trivial that it feels wrong to even call it a cost; Elrond's Counsel requires you to control unique Noldor characters, like some of the best characters in the game. This is like making an absurd event that requires you to control a Gondor hero to play: do we really need to be incentivized to include Steward of Gondor?

3) The boost is simply gravy, piled high on an already enormous meal; several times, I've simply played it during the planning phase to get a secrecy discount.

Overall, Elrond's Counsel is disgusting, like Warden of Healing; unfairly cheap and egregiously efficient, they are the cards you will love to hate. They're like the Ring, toxic over the long term (how many healing cards had their careers cut short because they weren't as devastatingly efficient as Warden?) but tempting in the short term. You will use them, you will learn to rely on them, and it will take a supreme act of will in order to put them down once you've picked them up.

To be blunt, Soldier of Dom Amroth is not good. Statwise, you can get a better ally for the same cost in the form of Veteran Axehand, while textwise Soldier's traits aren't particularly inspiring (Gondor and Warrior are good, but not great) and while his cost reduction does, if you play him in the same phase as another card, make him effectively cost 1, 1 cost for 1 isn't as big of a bargain in where it's the standard versus a sphere like or (before Knight of Belfalas came out, at least) where it's rarer. The main thing that saves him from the binder is quests or decks that incentivize ally swarming, such as the Sailing quests from Dream-chaser. If you take Naralenya as your ship, you can reduce Soldier's cost by 1, effectively making him free if you play another card in the same phase. And, while his stats are still uninspiring (why, why, why, why did they not give him 2 ? Would that really break him? Can anything break Soldier of Dol Amroth?), he's a free body for sailing or exhausting to, say, Taking on Water, something highly appreciated.

Basically, if your deck appreciates additional characters to throw at the encounter deck, you can give Soldier of Dol Amroth a look. Otherwise, leave him in your binder and take a good card instead.

All I can say is: A Perilous Voyage. —