First off, am I the only person who's annoyed that Deorwine's shadow cancellation is an Action whereas every other shadow cancelling card in the game is a Response? Hasty Stroke is, Erkenbrand is and is also more weirdly worded, A Burning Brand is (hey, one card from each sphere), but Deorwine, for some reason, isn't. Does he even, strictly speaking, work, then? Do you have the action window to cancel the shadow card, or does Deorwine's text box basically just read "Sentinel?"

Assuming that Deorwine does work properly, aside from the annoyance at the inconsistency, Deorwine is an amazing ally. 4 isn't cheap, but you're getting your money's worth, especially if Santa decides that you deserve a present (cost reduction) for being good this year. Deorwine is clearly a defensive ally from his stat spread, and his text box further emphasizes this with sentinel (a keyword I personally think underutilized in the game) and an action that allows you to cancel shadow effects during attacks Deorwine's defending. However, this shadow cancellation comes at a cost, in the form of having to spend a resource.

On a whole, the Dream-chaser cycle's theme of cards that have abilities that require spending resources from different spheres are a mixed bag; Arrows from the Trees is almost unplayable just due to how restrictive it is, Hold the Line is pretty bad, while Heed the Dream is the best event in the game if you can pay the 3 . Personally, I find that Deorwine leans more towards the stronger end of the spectrum as far as the multi-sphere cards go, especially because of the fact that any player can spend the resource to trigger his ability. So, while you can include for Steward of Gondor so you can drop Deorwine faster and trigger his ability yourself or engage 2 enemies allowing Amarthiúl to do the same, you can also go mono- and let a partner deck focus on paying for the ability.

But should you put all that effort into triggering his ability? Yes, 100%. Unlimited Hasty Strokes while you're defending with a character with Denethor's bulk is nothing to sneeze at, as it makes it so that, so long as your group has a resource kicking around when Deorwine defends, you can block an enemy with 5 or less and not care what shadow it gets. No +X , no additional attacks, no surprisingly annoying "exhaust a character," just turn Deorwine 90 degrees sideways and do the math. This isn't the most useful in Dream-chaser due to the usually weak shadows, but in other cycles and especially Saga it can prove lifesaving. Ringwraith engages the questing deck and makes an immediate attack? No thank you. Discard Deorwine from play due to Sudden Pitfall? No, you mean cancel Sudden Pitfall due to Deorwine. Deorwine's power only increases the worse shadows get.

However, Deorwine is also able to get his power increased using two of my favorite cards from Dream-chaser: Narya and Raiment of War. I could wax lyrical about Narya all day, but Deorwine is one of the best examples of its power, turning from an okay defending ally with in-built shadow cancellation to a 4 wall that can help counter-attack in a pinch or defend twice without having to worry about shadows if you have the resources. With a kicking around (a sphere that, coincidentally, Narya provides its bearer) and Narya's boosts, Deorwine can defend an enemy with 6 and live, and do it again and again if you have healing. There are literally 28 enemies in the game with high-enough printed to get around this. Raiment of War, on the other hand, only gives you one use out of Deorwine, but that one use is strong enough to survive the printed of all but 2 enemies in the game. Combine these two cards together and you turn Deorwine into a beast, able to defend twice for 5 and 5 or defend once and counter-attack for a respectable 3 . And any defenses you make still have his built-in Hasty Stroke.

Deorwine is not for every deck. He's expensive, and he requires a fair bit of support to reach his full potential. But if you provide him with that support, you'll find a gem of a card, one who provides you with peace of mind during the defending portion of the combat phase.

His action does work because it triggers while Deorwine is defending. It can trigger at any point in the attack. —
You have action windows both after declaring a defender (but before revealing the shadow card) and after revealing the shadow card (but before determining combat damage). —
So you can cancel both a unrevealed shadow card and a shadow card that adds <span class="icon-attack"></span> but not a shadow that immediatly changes board state. —

I like cards that take a bit of nuance to use well, and I find this one the most difficult to trigger consistently among the three “top of discard” allies. Sailor of Lune is easy to trigger if you use Elven-light, Elrond's Counsel, or any other willpower-boosting event in the quest phase. Mithlond Sea-watcher is easy to trigger if you chump-block. Warden of the Havens though needs an attachment you can discard on-demand to get his ability to trigger more consistently. Here are some ideas:

Cram: In-sphere, free, trigger when you want. Miruvor: 1 cost, more flexible, trigger when you want. Grey Cloak: Free, sort of works against the idea of defending by avoiding an enemy, but since you’d get sentinel you could still block while another player engages.

Any location attachment that would go to your discard after exploring a location in the quest phase.

Any healing attachment, like Athelas, Lembas, Healing Herbs

Any of the four Record attachments, like Tome of Atanatar.

As I continue to play through the progression of this game, I've evolved my opinion of Theodred. Core and other early game cards can be classified into a few categories: 1) evergreen classics that stay relevant (think Steward of Gondor, A Test of Will, Feint); 2) playable starter cards that fade or are superseded over time (think Dwarven Axe, Longbeard Orc Slayer); 3) sleeper cards that didn't seem good at first but were revived by some later cards/strategies (think Will of the West or maybe Son of Arnor) and 4) those that, to be charitable, never quite become playable (you know who you are).

Theodred is to me a typical category 2: fine early with a limited card pool, then less and less attractive. Early in the progression he splashes well as the lowest threat hero in a sphere that typically runs 10+, has obvious synergy with the most powerful hero in his sphere in Aragorn, and generally provides needed resource acceleration. But as quests evolve and in particular require strong first round starts, the tension between his stats and ability becomes his undoing. A dedicated quester with 1 willpower becomes more and more difficult to drag along with you as the early rounds become more demanding. Add to this the increasing options for either threat reduction (making a higher cost hero easier) or resource acceleration/cost reduction (making his ability less rare) and he just becomes more and more difficult to play. Even just giving him a second willpower by swapping his stats around would help quite a bit, but it is more of a struggle with each new AP in the progression.

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This card makes so many Grey Wanderer decks viable. Starting with The One Ring and being able to pay for this card no matter the sphere of the starting hero (due to the contract, in the first planning phase), PLUS being able to grab another 1-cost attachment and play it for free, we can do things like... well, an obvious one is that we can start with a Beregond outfitted with a Gondorian Shield: 7 and shadow canceling. The idea of needing that built-in healing from the contract is almost laughable. And now you have the rest of your deck to play with powering up Beregond's attack, or doing other fun things.

Now, that might only be viable in multiplayer, because it would be hard to get Beregond to quest enough in the early game... but, there are so many other options for starting hero... what about Elrond and Strider/Light of Valinor? Éowyn and Golden Shield? Sam Gamgee and Hobbit Cloak? etc.

I think my favorite thing about using this in multiplayer is this: if The One Ring leaves play, everyone loses. Well, okay. No problem, because if you are playing solo, the game was over anyway when you lost your hero, and if you're playing multiplayer, well, you'd have been eliminated as a player anyway, and it's no fun to try and continue a quest without everyone playing.

I think this card is a game-changer, even in non-Grey Wanderer decks, even more so than its other sphere variations, since early-game shadow canceling is so huge, and it can go on any hero... fantastic card!

I love this card! I always give The One Ring and Inner Strength to Eleanor and she starts as a 3 defense defender that can cancel shadow effects, and this is all possible every game in the starting round. So she can cancel treacheries or defend enemies, leaving only Locations to deal with. Such a great card! —

When I first saw this card, I thought it would be something I'd use regularly. In general, I really like hero action advantage and feature it in many decks. It just fits my play style. So I use even not-so-popular heroes like Prince Imrahil more than most and always include hero readying cards as much as I can. This card sounded great -- basically it gives the attached hero the ability of Aragorn, which I have often incorporated into decks.

But then I started to try to include this in decks, and I just don't think it's worth it. I won't say never, but I have tried to put it into many decks and always end up cutting it. First, it is limited to Gondor or Rohan heroes, so is limited from the start. Not necessarily a deal breaker as the same can be said for Light of Valinor or Fast Hitch, but limiting. No, the real issue here is the cost. Light of Valinor gives the same effect for the same up-front cost but no need for the extra resource per turn. Unexpected Courage only costs one more up front, has no ongoing upkeep cost and is more flexible because its not restricted to readying after questing. And Fast Hitch just blows this away on all fronts. The only way this makes any sense to me is in combination with resource acceleration, preferably Steward of Gondor which also makes the attached hero eligible for this card. But now we're talking about a 2 card combo across different spheres that costs 3 resources to set up and uses half of Steward's output just to keep itself going. And the thought of drawing a second of these is even worse -- now you're dedicating 2/3 of your resources every round just to keep them going.

This is a card I really want to like. I've really tried to like it even. I can hypothesize about some real quest specific edge cases where it could be barely justified -- maybe on Eowyn in Return to Mirkwood so she can handle escape tests even if you don't find your Unexpected Courage. But I just can't get this to stay in any deck.

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