Frodo seems like an extremely powerful and versatile hero. Low threat, decent stats that compliment his ability well (except maybe his which you likely won't be using much) and access to two of the game's most useful abilities: action advantage and threat reduction. In many ways he's comparable to Aragorn (an old classic and one of my favorite heroes), yet arguably better. Suddenly heroes with bloated statlines that have trouble taking full advantage of them (like Glorfindel for instance) can now perform to their full potential from the start of the game and without dedicating deckspace to action advantage cards that you or may not draw. Also the fact that his ability isn't limited to heroes means you can even target allies like Gandalf and Elrond, which can make him act like a pseudo Galadriel. With this ability alone Frodo would already be a very good hero, but the threat reduction is icing on the cake. Seeing as you will more likely than not be questing successfully each round, especially with Frodo's ability to supply action advantage, this essentially means your threat will stay static—barring Doomed cards and other encounter cards that raise threat, of course. This has so many applications, from the obvious Hobbit decks to secrecy decks, you name it. Plus being in Leadership means he shouldn't have much difficulty paying for that one resource each round. All in all I think Frodo has so much to offer to just about any type of deck.

My first thoughts on this card: trash. Bike spoke fodder. But after much play, and having the Guardian of Ithilien single-handedly save my game once, my opinion has changed drastically.

Let's first look at his stats. Cost 1 is very nice, especially for a Lore ally. 1 attack is acceptable, can be boosted by Boromir. One hit point makes him pretty fragile. But without his ability, where the Guardian of Ithilien really shines is actually his traits. The Gondor trait has many effects that can boost the Guardian's stats, especially the before named Boromir and Visionary Leadership. The Ranger trait is also very helpful, as it allows him to wield a Ranger Bow or the in-pack Ranger Spear. In my opinion, then, the Guardian of Ithilien is justified for a deck even WITHOUT his ability! Guardian of Ithilien with a Ranger Bow is actually what won me Shelob's Lair once.

Now, the ability is icing on the cake. It works very good with a Trap deck, which wants enemies in the staging area to snare them, and also staging area attack decks. One final note: the in-pack hero Prince Imrahil works great with the Guardian as it can essentially act as A Light in the Dark or Feint if pulled out by Imrahil's ability.

What are your thoughts on the Guardian?

I didn't use this much initially, mainly because I really liked the spirit ally version of Bofur. However, I've been including it more often now and thought I'd give this dwarf some praise. First, his ability is great. He's the tactics version of Master of the Forge, who is also very useful. In a deck with a reasonable number of weapons, even 3x3 weapons, he has a good chance of grabbing one if you don't have any in hand. And, like Master of the Forge, he'll shuffle your deck even if he whiffs so he can bring that needed weapon up to the top for the next try.

Second, his stats are very, very good for a tactics ally -- even ignoring the various dwarven boosts that can benefit him. In a sphere that is notoriously light on willpower, his 2 stands out, and 2 attack is decent. That combination makes him great for quests that have both normal and battle quest stages. He won't be defending much, but there are plenty of ways to get that job done in tactics. And 3HP makes him very hardy, so treacheries that hit questing characters aren't a worry and he can soak up some archery damage if needed. I think his stats shouldn't be underestimated because once you've used his ability for a few rounds to arm up he can still make real contributions.

The only possible concern would be his 3 cost. This makes him not great if you're only running a single tactics hero, but otherwise compares favorably to other allies. Only Pippin gets you 2 willpower in tactics at a lower cost. There are a number of tactics allies with 2 attack for 2 cost, but they are typically only usable for that attack and don't have Bofur's versatility. And the aforementioned Master of the Forge costs 2 but is useless other than a single chump block if you're done using him for his ability.

8

Of the events that shuffle beneficial cards into the encounter deck, this one is my favorite (the other options at the time of this writing being Ranger Summons, Flight to the Sea, and Tom Bombadillo!). There are several reasons for this:

  1. Free to play. With the others, you are paying up to 2 resources for a benefit that you likely might never see! Unless you are just swimming in resources or have a gambling problem, this should give you pause. Is this really the best way to spend those resources? Of course, the more players there are in the game, the more likely the gamble will pay off. But in a solo game, those other cards are close to unplayable. Here at least you are only paying the cost of a card (not insignificant, which leads me to my to my next point...)
  2. The card actually does something useful beyond shuffling something into the encounter deck. That makes the encounter card more of a bonus if you draw it, rather than its only effect. Now normally, returning an ally to your hand would be a downside, but an eagle deck has several reasons for wanting this to happen:
    • Triggering Meneldor or Descendant of Thorondor up to two more times.
    • Triggering Gwaihir again (not as crazy as it sounds if you're running Radagast's Staff and/or Hirgon). Combos well with the previous eagle cards.
    • Return Vassal of the Windlord to your hand after applying his damage, but before he gets discarded. This never used to be possible in the early days of the game, but works now thanks to the revised timing structure in the online rules reference (confirmed by Caleb). There is a player action window between 6.8.3 "Determine combat damage" and 6.8.4 "Player attack ends". Similarly for Winged Guardian and the action window between 6.4.3 and 6.4.4 (the attack will still be defended).
    • Move an already exhausted eagle underneath Eagles of the Misty Mountains to boost his stats. This can be triggered mid-attack even.
    • Return the spoiled Wilyador (The Land of Sorrow) to your hand if you can't/don't want to pay his upkeep, or as a guaranteed way to trigger Radagast's Response ability next turn.
    • Ready the spoiled Gwaihir hero (The Land of Sorrow). This combos with any of the above, getting even more value out of a single card.
  3. Eagle of the North kicks serious butt. Don't get me wrong, the other encounter cards are also great, but this one is the best of the bunch in my opinion. When you factor in the cost, then there's no contest. Tom Bombadil is amazing (especially since since he doesn't have "surge"), but you only get him for one round. Wind from the Sea also lacks surge, but is very hit-or-miss without scrying. Ranger of the North is a terrific ally (especially in multiplayer), having stats comparable to Eagle of the North. But what puts Eagle of the North over the edge for me is the When Revealed effect. You are both getting a permanent ally and a killer one-time effect. Also, for me, this one best captures that "deus ex machina" feel when out of nowhere an eagle swoops down and carries off that Mumak you thought for sure was going to grind you into paste.

The only bad thing about this card is that it's the final nail in the coffin for Meneldor's Flight. The only possible reason to include the latter in your deck over this one would be if you want to use Háma or Book of Eldacar to replay it, but that's a real stretch. I suppose if you're using the new Gwaihir hero then maybe you'd want 3 x of both cards? But otherwise, Meneldor's Flight is pretty much a coaster. Which is a shame, since printing cards that are strictly better than previous ones limits deckbuilding choices.

73

When I first got this card, I chuckled. A drunk elf that gives you one round of 1 questing power, and then does nothing unless you have some general willpower boosting ally like Faramir out. What a pointless card!

Then I played a Silvan deck, and found Galion, in fact, to be a fantastically useful card. He's a prime target for any of the Silvan cards that use return allies to your hand, since you can keep dropping him back into play for free. When coupled with Celeborn you can get 2 questing each round for free, while also using him to 'pay' for cards like The Tree People and The Elvenking readying. Plus, you're probably playing him with Galadriel to have spirit access, and so he doesn't exhaust to quest each turn he comes into play.

This is all useful throughout the game, but particularly valuable early, when Galion helps you get your Silvans going on the cheap. Galion ends up being the glue that allows you to keep all those fantastic Silvan effects rolling without using up all your resources putting an elf back in play every time you trigger one of those effects, while also providing a respectable 2 questing power each turn (with Celeborn), all for the low cost of 0.

A lesson learned about underestimating a tipsy elf.