The only way I would use Mirlonde is if I am using two other high lore heroes, such as Saruman, Glorfindel, or Elrond, because she isn't great otherwise. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

This card might be hard to pull off (due to the high cost and Trait restriction) but when it comes online it's really a thing of beauty. Not having to worry too much to handle defenses but also having to attack and kill some enemies later, but having the freedom to fully commit to attacking is quite liberatory. It can be combined with The Hammer-stroke (and possibily Hour of Wrath + Éowyn) to better cover the combat across the table. In that case some Good Meal help might be needed, maybe in a Éowyn / Merry deck (or even a MotK Pippin)

Sure Thicket of Spears is an alternative but they fulfill different objectives (and have different restrictions to keep in mind), the main difference being that Oath of Eorl might let you destroy an immune enemy before it attacks, while Feint and Thicket of Spears cannot.

I absolutely agree. Plus, if you're able to add Steward of Gondor to your deck you don't even have to rely on a built in Gondor trait as SoG provides this. Not only that, but it makes paying for this card much easier in combo with what you mentioned above! —

1 cost for 9 stats,

11 if you have Dáin,

Glóin pays the forced cost.

-Dwarven Sellsword, a haiku by Bilbo Baggins.

(I wrote a haiku,

Ringsdb, about this card;

what more can I say?)

Filling character limit.

Mirkwood Explorer is a bit of an odd card. Like another location control card from the Dream-chaser cycle, Explorer's Almanac, he provides location control that is primarily effective when you're able to quest successfully, i.e.; not experiencing location lock, the time when location control is most useful. Mirkwood Explorer is thus of little use as a come-from-behind card as you need to come out ahead of the encounter deck in order to make use of him, but at 3 cost for 2 he isn't the most efficient come-out-ahead card either. The best way to think about him is as a maintain-your-position card, where he helps maintain your position by questing for 2 in good times and potentially removing troublesome locations in bad times.

But his location control runs into another problem fairly quickly, namely how honestly clunky it is. You need to quest successfully with him to build up progress, which means you'll want to either exhaust him or run some readying effect like Valiant Determination so that he's ready after questing. You'll want him ready because, in order to use the progress you build up on him to explore locations, you need to exhaust him, meaning that while you might explore a 2 location you also lose Mirkwood Explorer's 2 for the turn, making the net effect of Mirkwood Explorer's location control 0 for the turn. In addition, the widest range of targets for his location control that you'll have is after the staging step, making keeping him ready until then critical if you want to use him for location control. But the most effective and reliable way of keeping him ready is to hold him back from the quest, meaning that you don't make use of his 2 , and, more importantly, you're not questing successfully with him so he doesn't build up progress. This means that Mirkwood Explorer effectively has two gears, which can take some time to shift between; questing mode to take advantage of his 2 and build up progress and exploration mode where you use that progress to explore locations. Without readying, it takes at least one, possibly multiple, turns to use both gears effectively, a tempo hit that may kill you if your tempo is already disrupted by an unlucky encounter card reveal. The worst part is that Mirkwood Explorer came out in the cycle of the box that provided us with quite possibly the best location control in the game that doesn't require you to run a specific hero to use, The Evening Star. Unlike Mirkwood Explorer, The Evening Star is quick, simple, and flexible, giving you point-and-click location removal. Granted, Mirkwood Explorer is repeatable location control, but that implies that you put in the effort required to get him off even once.

Mirkwood Explorer is not a bad card, especially with a limited collection; 2 in is pretty nice, even for 3 cost, and that 1 can come in surprising handy if you hold him back from the quest (or use best Dream-chaser attachment to ready him). The problem is the location control he provides is too clunky and slow, when speed and ease of use might mean the difference between a win or a loss. Put him up against the likes of Northern Tracker, The Evening Star, and especially Rhovanion Outrider and the gulf between the location control they provide and the location control Mirkwood Explorer provides becomes impossible to ignore. Mirkwood Explorer tried to blaze a new path for players with regards to location control, but with all due respect, I think I'll stick to the road that I know gets me where I want to go.

Guarded Ceaselessly is a surprisingly good card, though it does have several flaws that prevent it from becoming great. The greatest flaw it has is its timing; without the likes of Dunedain Pathfinder to bring out locations during the planning phase, you're going to need to reveal a location, leave it in the staging area for a round, then play Guarded Ceaselessly on it during the next planning phase. In addition, unless you have Ranger or Scout heroes who you're willing to exhaust, Guarded Ceaselessly does nothing on its own, requiring you to draw into additional cards in order to make use of it.

However, while this slightly-clunky timing and requirement of drawing into multiple cards may hinder Guarded Ceaselessly, they don't render it useless. They do make it a bit harder to use effectively, but it is still possible to do so.

First order of business when it comes to Guarded Ceaselessly; don't play it on a location it is imperative that you explore, like Siege Tower from Battle of Pelennor (Pellenor? Pelenor?) Fields. Rhovanion Outrider, Mirkwood Explorer, and other forms of location control are better suited for dealing with locations like that. In a similar vein, don't play Guarded Ceaselessly on a location you anticipate traveling to. Ideally, you want to play Guarded Ceaselessly on a location with moderate to high , preferably at least 2, that either has a bad 'when explored' effect (i.e.; Sinister Dungeon from The Dread Realm) a bad 'while active' effect (i.e.; Gladden Fields from the Core Set), or a bad When Revealed effect (i.e.; Fouled Well from Khazad-Dum). Fouled Well is actually one of the best targets for Guarded Ceaselessly; it has 3 so you'll definitely be able to get off at least one full-strength use of Guarded Ceaselessly's action, it has 5 quest points so either exploring or location controlling it is going to take a while, and it has an annoying When Revealed effect that you would like to see never come up again.

Second order of business when it comes to Guarded Ceaselessly; don't trigger it before the staging step. One of the best things about Guarded Ceaselessly is that, as a raw action, you can trigger it at any point during the quest phase, allowing you to keep your characters ready until you see if you actually need the pseudo 2 they provide by triggering Guarded Ceaselessly. If you don't, you can keep them ready, and if you do, they managed to avoid anything that targets either exhausted characters (not hitting my 1 "questing" allies this time, Necromancer's Reach!) or questing characters (combo; exhausting characters to trigger Guarded Ceaselessly as opposed to committing them to the quest gets around Brambles and Thorns. Nonbo; that means you left a location in the staging area in Nightmare Mode Emyn Muil). In addition, regardless of who you exhaust for Guarded Ceaselessly, the attached location gets -2 , meaning that you can effectively turn Snowbourn Scout into a 2 ally if you don't need a chump.

Third order of business when it comes to Guarded Ceaselessly; don't expect it to replace Northern Tracker. Northern Tracker is meant to hard-counter location lock by removing multiple locations from the board at the same time; Guarded Ceaselessly soft-counters location lock by allowing you to mitigate the impact one specific location has on your questing. Guarded Ceaselessly's a knife, Northern Tracker a sledgehammer. A knife will never replace a sledgehammer's ability to pulverize, and you can defeat an enemy as easily with a sledgehammer as you can with a knife, but there are some times where you need precision over sheer, brute force, where you don't want to open a door by smashing it open but by carefully prizing open the lock. Northern Tracker represents fairly well strength of arms in the Lord of the Rings, able to beat back your foes for a time but not for all time. Guarded Ceaselessly more represents the resolve of the Free Peoples in Middle-Earth, not able to influence events everywhere but, within their own little patch of land, able to do much more against the Shadow than all the hosts of Men.