Cordeiro Cordeirooo
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There are many great guides about how to build the best decks or to optimize a already good deck, including some here on BGG, so if you're look for something like that, keep looking - this isn't the place.

Since this game has almost ZER0 competition, there is plenty of space for players to work on improving their decks, and since we all know how difficult this game can be, patience is fundamental. What I want to discuss here is the usefulness of Heroes for starting and start-intermediary players and how those can help (or sometimes hamper) these same player's ascension to greatness!
This doesn't mean you can't learn a thing or two. Also, please feel free to disagree and to add your comments.



OO "Origin Only"; I'll only consider cards from where this card was originated (Core, Mirkwood Cycle, etc) and older cards.
EI "Everything Included"; There is no official card left out when I'm considering with this topic.

Stars:
Threat
∘ Threat is essencial in this game. Too much and you can lose in a few turns, too low and you have a low amount of stats between your heroes. Having a high score in this stat means that the Hero contributes well while not increasing too much your threat; the opposite happens when the threat is too high, mattering more than how well he/she contributes.
Handle
∘ How easy is to use this Hero's full capabilities. If he is simple to use and how well cards interact with him/her. The greater the amount of stars, the simpler is the Hero, while keeping his synergy with other cards pretty clear.
Experience
∘ The game evolves and so should the player, but some Heroes do not do well in later quests due to various factors. The lowest the rating here, the worse he becomes in the late-game; be it because a new and improved version arrived or simply because his ability is easily replicable by other cards.
Synergy
∘ Very similar to Handle, but is directly related to other Heroes. The Heroes that can compete for a place in both high-threat and low-threat decks receive the highest ratings here.
Support
∘ Cards that have their names on another cards gaining bonuses because of that have a higher star rating; having cards that interact directly with his/hers abilities (like Ranged and Hands Upon the Bow) or his/hers keywords also greatly improve the numbers here.


.: ProgresS :.
Core
// Done!
Mirkwood cycle
// Work in Progress.
Kazad-dum
// Not started.
Dwarrowdelf Cycle
// Not started.
Hobbit
// Not started.
Heirs of Númenór
// Not started.


1. Core Set
As I'm sure you'll see, most Heroes in the Core set are designed with the inexperienced player in mind: These heroes' abilities are mostly shortcuts to an easier gameplay (like Denethor's seer ability or Eleanor replacing 1 treachery). Still, there are others that have abilities that could be considered 'advanced', even though they may look simple, there is something behind them. Keep reading and you will find out which one is which!


1.1 Aragorn (Leadership) Starting Threat 12
Being a Sentinel is already something nice to see on a card, but seeing on a Hero means you'll have a great defender all around the table since the turn 1. Aragorn is pretty much as all-arounder as you can get: He quests well, attacks well, defends well and have a nice 5HP (a number that you find almost exclusively on Dwarven heroes and other resilient characters).
His response means you don't need to worry (much) about attackers later on on the turn - again, it's nice to remember he is Sentinel, which means he'll be saving any 1 player's skin each turn if using his ability.

OO :: Celebrian's Stone is a great attachment to play on Aragorn, specially if you have more Spirit Heroes to fully benefit from the item's powers. Aragorn now quests like Éowyn and can play all the cards she can... Yes, you can quest with TWO Éowyns if you have him and her on the same party. Another attachment that does wonders for Aragorn is the Protector of Lórien! Even with the errata, Aragorn fully utilizes both bonuses this nice attachment can bestow upon him.
Some would say Horn of Gondor is great with him, for the reason that anything that adds resources to him means a good quester and defender/attacker ready to rock every turn. I cannot disagree. On the same vein, Steward of Gondor is wonderful for him.
As far as Events go, Stand Together can help against very aggressive encounter decks, making Aragorn defend together with another Sentinel and not receiving any damage at all.
The only Ally I can think of that helps Aragorn is Henamarth Riversong, even though it is only by so far; if you can see what is coming next, you can plan if you need him to quest for you AND defend (and therefore, paying one resource) or not.
Heroes Synergies Theodred, Denethor (loosely).
EI :: The first ally that comes to my mind is Arwen Undómiel. I can't stress how many times I gave her Defense bonus to a Aragorn (both Leadership and Lore) so I could defend an enemy with ease. When she quests, not only she contributes with 2 Willpower but also gives her loved one +1 Defense to help him come back home unscathed. Again, in a deck with Aragorn and another Spirit Hero, Celebrian's Stone becomes even better. While any character can benefit from Dunedain Watcher's response, Aragorn fills a role where he is often defending and in doing so, ends up being constantly in line of nasty shadow cards - the same can be said about Rider of the Mark. The Longbeard Elder you find in FoS has Henamarth's ability in a response, and as so, have some synergy with Aragorn as far as Henamarth's go.
Dunedain Warning is a nice addition to Aragorn's arsenal that you get from CatC. Giving +1Defense to a Sentinel that can (almost) always be ready during the Combat phase is impressive. Now, there is no reason why you shouldn't have Sword that Was Broken on every deck with Aragorn - it is clear that the Lore Aragorn can use it for it's full potential, but in addition to Celebrian's Stone, Aragorn becomes a 5 Willpower Hero that can quest and defend shortly after - not to mention that he inspire all other allies to quest better!
When it comes down to Shadow cards, anything that can remove them from hurting Aragorn is welcomed, and so Dawn Take You All have a sweet spot on Aragorn's decks. Not going too far from the questing theme, Late Adventurer - while not a great card - have it's uses in a Aragorn/Spirit deck, since it is free you have the opportunity to keep Aragorn ready until you really need to quest with him; it's the same premise of the cards that look at the top card(s) from the encounter deck (like Risk Some Light).
Heroes Synergies Brand son of Bain (loosely).

__Conclusion__
Threat
(2,5 stars)
Handle
(3 stars)
Experience
(3,5 stars)
Synergy
(3,5 stars)
Support
(2,5 stars)
________________________
Overall (3.000)


Aragorn is an excellent Hero for your to learn the game upon, since you have one more defender than you would normally while keeping a nice Willpower during the quest phase. As soon as you start getting the game, though, he begins to lose his value.
His abilities are simple and you don't have a limitation on them, which means you can use every turn without fear of 'wasting' it on a wrong opportunity.




1.2 Beravor (Lore) Starting Threat 10
It doesn't matter your background, if you ever played a card game, you know that drawing is key. Heck, you don't need to even be a card-game player to know that: The more options you have to chose from, the better; and Beravor greatly helps you with that. Her cost is simply to exhaust her, and even though now (since the errata) she can only use the ability once per round she is a well-rounded Hero (seems to be a theme with Rangers...).

OO :: Basically anything that can ready the Ranger lady is considered great to her. In the core, unfortunately we only have Unexpected Courage, Grim Resolve and Common Cause. While there isn't much in terms of readying and even direct synergy with Beravor, there are some cards that can work pretty well with her, such as:
Protector of Lórien: Yes. This card is wonderful for anyone, but when you consider that you'll try as much as possible to ready her, having a good defender/drawing machine/defender on two cards alone seems extra nice - oh, and she provides the fuel to PoL burns upon!
Getting more on the perspective of drawing as much as possible, Gleowine - who shares a resource icon with Beravor -, Gandalf, Lorien's Wealth - also a Lore card - and Valiant Sacrifice can be considered 'synergies' with her.
Heroes Synergies None.
EI :: The more cards are released, this Dúnedain Hero gets better.
The fact that the party containing Beravor draws thrice the amount of cards of a regular non-drawing party does, implies that eventually they will need a sink; you then, must use card sink (like Protector of Lórien), must have lots of resource generation (basicly the Leadership sphere) or having a deck full of 0-2 cost cards. In this sense, I won't list all cards that have a range cost of 0-2 if that is the the major reason to play them with Beravor; cards like Daeron Runes - cost 0 - are inherently better with Beravor because the deck must already pack some kind of sink to avoid clogging your hand with a lot of cards that you can play or find any useful end for it. Gildor Inglorion can help wonders here: He will trade a useless card from your hand for 1 on the top 3 of your deck; if you use Beravor right after, you have basically drawn 3 cards (I say basically because trading 1on1 basis is called 'recycling' - even when you are not discarding anything) - Imladris Stargazer can help as well, but not being Lore reduces a little bit her usefulness for Beravor. Master of the Forge is somewhat a draw and can help even more when Beravor is matched with 2 Tactics heroes, but since he shuffles the deck before his ability ends his worth is diminished by a cent; Erestor, on the other hand, has a truly recycling ability and do wonders in an expensive Beravor/Leadership deck.
If you have Protector of Lórien on Beravor, there is no reason why you shouldn't slap A Burning Brand as well, turning her into the Great Wall of... China? I never saw a Beravor secrecy deck, but I can easily point how great would it be to have Resourceful on her. If someone has done one and had success, please post here and I'll link to it!
As said before, anything that can ready Beravor is almost an auto-include, so if it is also free, you must be insane not to put it; now, go read this card: Cram.
Another great advantage of Beravor's drawing machine is that you can pack a higher amount of meta* without fear of having dead cards on your hand. (*cards with very specific function, like using Location management for heavy-location quests). While this guide is directed to Inexperienced Players, some ideas are always good to expose so players can toy with it until they are confortable enough with the game to do it their own way, and when Beravor befriends the Eagles, all you need now is to mount a medium-to-good resource engine and you're good to go; there will be Eagles coming and going during all the game.
Heroes Synergies Bilbo Baggins, Brand son of Bain, Hama, Ori.

__Conclusion__
Threat
(3,5 stars)
Handle
(3,5 stars)
Experience
(4,5 stars)
Synergy
(4 star)
Support
(0 star)
________________________
Overall (3.100)


Beravor is somewhat like wine (and I'm not talking about the WINE compatibility layer for UNIX), the older she gets, the better; but, unlike wine, you should try her every once in a while when an idea pops in your head. Since there isn't any cards that ask specifically for Dunedain, Ranger or Beravor, she got 0 stars in Support. In the end, even with only 3 stars, Beravor is one of the cards I would recommend for a newcomer to use; she is relatively easy to use, has nice stats and her ability makes the game easier for anyone.




1.3 Denethor (Lore) Starting Threat 8
Denethor has the power of the Palantír on his hands, that has a cost though: He must exhaust to do so. The power to manipulate if the card stays there or is replaced has an effect on the flowing of the game. Also, his 3 Defense is almost unheard of, and assuming you can ready him, he will make the enemies attacks stop on his shields. Denethor's value also diminish for every additional player in the game.

OO :: Henamarth Riversong is a mini Denethor that you can use on two different ways, a preventive one and a a progressive one: The first is when you use Henamarth to scout the card and only use Denethor if you must send it to the outskirts; the second is duplicating the ability to look up, sending the Denethor's card to the bottom and then using Henamarth's to see what it was replaced with. The second isn't really helpful on a pratical basis, helping only the on informative field.
The event A Light in the Dark helps marginally in the sense that you can scout before playing to know how high will be the Threat on the staging area. When playing a more defensive deck and coupling Denethor with more Gondor cards, For Gondor! can be a very nice addition, as long as you know you won't be able to scout - sans readying mechanisms - with Denethor that turn; 4 Defense isn't something you see every day, specially on a Lore character!
Heroes Synergies Eleanor, Thalin.
EI :: When it comes down to allies, Denethor mostly benefits from Spirit characters since his information gain is mostly useful during the Quest phase. Allies like Bofur (TRG) can be exploited upon based on the knowledge of what's to come - maybe you don't need to be successful this turn, and then Bofur is even more interesting; if along with that you have the Longbeard Elder, you can manipulate the encounter deck to work for you. Elfhelm, yet another Spirit ally, enforces the information theme for Denethor's player benefit; you can cut your losses with his ability while he is ready. When it comes down to readying, Denethor benefits for the same stuff Beravor does and there is nothing better than Cram: Free, no strings attached.
Some cards have the lottery element intricate on them because the ability alone would make it too powerful; Denethor then, removes the lottery side and give you a powerful ability like Expecting Mischief and Needful to Know - this last one can become a powerful threat reducer if you play it right. Pairing the Lore Steward with Out of the Wild (without sending the card to the bottom) can remove a nasty encouter card - sure, you could use the Event without Denethor, but again you would be playing the lottery game.
To further explore his amazing Defense, you can use Dunedain Signal plus Dunedain Warning and turn him into a major defensive Hero - you must follow closely his Hit Points though. Using A Burning Brand on him as well would make him utterly unstoppable... if you use him right.
Heroes Synergies Brand son of Bain.

__Conclusion__
Threat
(4 stars)
Handle
(2 stars)
Experience
(2,5 stars)
Synergy
(3 star)
Support
(3 star)
________________________
Overall (2.900)



Denethor has rookie value. Specially for those games with 1-2 players. As soon as you start playing more and more, Denethor's ability starts to look subpar, and next thing you know, you already replaced him. A good idea for new players to follow is having a 'scouting' deck ready before playing a new scenario; this way you use Denethor to remove the nasty stuff and then, next time you come with a deck already knowing what you're expecting. It is important to remember that: Denethor loses power with the increased amount of players, and his ability also loses impotance while you grow because your deckbuilding skills will make-up for the losing of the scouting ability.




1.4 Dunhere (Spirit) Starting Threat 8
The great rider of Rohan, Dúnhere attacks with ferocity when upon his trustful steed and the better part is that he attacks the enemy so quick that they can't even counterattack; yeah, that's right, he is a better warrior when upon his horse than on foot - that's basically the definition of a Rohirrim!

OO :: Being a Spirit character with only 2 Attack is not that great for combat, but attacking an enemy on the staging area at ANY TIME you attack alone with him, and as a bonus, he gets a +1 on his Attack stat! Yeah, now he has a very decent attack and he has an amazing ability that even helps you with questing! See, since his ability was UNIQUE at the time, there isn't much in the sense of synergy here. You could go with the Blade of Gondolin in a Dunhere/Tactic deck when playing against Orcs, or a Dwarven Axe (if you don't have any Dwarf to put it on, of course). Basically anything that gives him Attack is a good idea; he is simple as that!
Now, there are some basic plays you eventually get, like pairing him with A Light in the Dark to avoid an attack AND spearing the enemy on the same round. In a Leadership deck you can also use Common Cause for when you have no one to attack and another Hero could use the readying effect; in this same deck For Gondor! would fit like a glove - giving attack to all characters and defense to Gondorians.
Pairing Dúnhere with Tactics is the best way to pump his Attack and exploiting his ability to the maximum level with cards like Quick Strike - attacking during the staging step and helping you quest.
Heroes Synergies Thalin.
EI :: Now with even more options, there is more reasons for you to pair him with some Tactics heroes, like Bombur weapon grabbing, Descendant of Thorondor weakening a target - the same can be said for Longbeard Orc Slayer about... well, orcs. A very nice addition you get in the Spirit sphere is Éomund; a Rohan that readies other Rohan when he goes out of play - so, Born Aloft and Éomund goes very well together.
The Dúnedain signal that comes in THfG is Dúnedain Mark, the best signal you can get on Dúnhere - the more the merrier! You will want to pump his attack to the max you can, but don't forget that you don't win this game with combat alone - do not focus an entire deck on getting Dúnhere to 100 Attack, it won't get you anywhere if your threat is skyrocketing. Oh, that reminds me of something: Having your threat being kept low is key for his ability to be optimized, so, cards like Galadhrim's Greeting (if you have at least 2 Spirit Heroes, that is) and Wandering Took are great for this deck.
A nice card that works well in multiplayer is Keeping Count, specially if more than one player has 3x of it in his deck, giving a bonus - even a small one - for a good amount of Heroes is always interesting.
Unfortunately, you can't have Support of the Eagles on him, unless you also attach Spirit of Battle, but if you eventually do, remember that Thicket of Spears asks for 3 Tactic Heroes. Easily one of the best Event to use on Dúnhere is Unseen Strike: You give him +3 Attack and he swings on an enemy on the staging area (who probably has a bigger engagement cost than your threat).
Heroes Synergies Aragorn, Hama.

__Conclusion__
Threat
(5 stars)
Handle
(4 stars)
Experience
(4,5 stars)
Synergy
(3 star)
Support
(3,5 star)
________________________
Overall (4.000)


Dúnhere is one of the most promising heroes in my opinion - a solid . He is a good character all in all, and I gave him 5 stars in Threat because, when using his ability his stats sum more than his starting threat AND the fact that he has a very focused niche with low threat. He is a well of awesomeness! He will grow a lot and you will like him more when you get the game going, and he being a Rohan means he already has a nice support and that he will have even more in the future.
There is not much secret in how to use him and yet he can be used in a multiple array of ways.
He isn't only a good Hero for Inexperienced players, he is also a nice Hero for veteran players who want to have a good attacker who also gets nice support in questing.




1.5 Eleanor (Spirit) Starting Threat 7
Eleanor is a FFG-made Gondorian. If I remember correctly, she was made for the Middle-Earth Quest Board Game, from 2002. Her fragility is one of her strengths; what this tells about this gal? Keep reading.

OO :: Eleanor has a low Willpower, HP and Attack, which makes her a bad quester, attacker and defender. So, what Eleanor have to earn her a place among the three chosen of a player? Exactly that. Since she has low stats, her threat reflects that, and having a extremely-low 7 Initial Threat makes her an 'okay' choice for a Spirit Threat-Control deck. Her ability is like ice on a rookie's cake; some treacheries are very mean to a new player, specially when he is playing solo, so Eleanor gives you another chance (remember, she replaces the card you didn't liked). When you have cumulated a nice deckbuilding experience, Eleanor becomes less and less interesting. The fact that she has do exhaust to give you a chance to draw better means she probably will be tossed out as soon as you start building new decks, specially multi-sphered decks. Henamarth Riversong is an interesting addition to her company.
Being on the same sphere as Unexpected Courage is a nice add, although you probably have another target that would be more useful with a certain surge of courage. Her ability is somewhat Unique - the only comparable is the event called A Test of Will -, so there isn't many synergies between her and other cards.
Heroes Synergies Denethor, Thalin.
EI :: Unfortunately, there is still not much for Eleanor to expand upon, what makes her unappealing to most audiences.
Heroes Synergies None.

__Conclusion__
Threat
(4 stars)
Handle
(2,5 stars)
Experience
(1 stars)
Synergy
(2 stars)
Support
(3 stars)
________________________
Overall (2.500)



She certainly is below the average. I gave her a lesser score on threat because, differently from Dúnhere, she won't be using any of her stats to help you during the game - her HP is too low, a simple 5 Attack kills her; if you quest with her and can't ready her, you won't be able to use her ability - and she is only questing with 1 then.
Her ability is like betting: You have the chance to get something better, but there is also the chance to getting something worse (and on some occasions, the same card). Good thing is, she discards that card, so it it was a unique treachery cards, you won't be seeing that for a while. Because of her randomness, I gave her half total score (2,5); she is easy to use, but you can't maximize her effectiveness.




1.6 Eowyn (Spirit) Starting Threat 9
The daughter of Éomund and Theodwyn, sister to Éomer and niece of the Rohirrim King Théoden. The same girl who defeated the Witch-King of Angmar in the Battle of the Pelennor Fields is one of the greatest representers of the Spirit sphere; she basically shaped the sphere to her likings.

OO :: Éowyn's above-sky Willpower is wonderful, the fact that she has a built-in ability to increase that makes her an auto-include if you want an amazing questing power for a low cost. In the Core alone, there is a nice amount of boosters already; her husband, Faramir from the Leadership sphere is a force to reckon with if there is a nice number of characters questing, otherwise he will add as much as Rear Guard (THoEM). Within her own sphere, Éowyn has the attachment Favor of the Lady, which, while not a favorite, is enough with only the core, since you pay 2 resources to basically have her ability 'on' for free (after that 2 resources) until the attachment is removed. You could also use Celebrian's Stone in a deck with a Leadership hero.
Lórien Guide and Northern Tracker, both Spirit are good additions against locations if you have an all-Spirit (or at least 2 Spirit Heroes) deck, as long as you are prepared to pay for it.
Even with the Protector of Lórien's errata, she is still a suitable user for that title; she will only use the Willpower - probably - but being the power quester she is, this isn't a problem at all.
Heroes Synergies Beravor, Theodred.
EI :: The amount of questing power the spirit sphere can gather is easily the greater between all spheres - Lore being the far second - and this is no secret, but some allies printed after the core are just plain absurd. Some of the names I can cite are: Arwen Undómiel, Éomund, Escort from Edoras and West Road Traveller.
Knowing that you can easily overcome enemies' threat, the Ancient Mathom attachment becomes even more appealing to the player, since you can (almost) guarantee the location being explored next turn - or even the same turn if you have Thror's Map and the location was at the staging area during the Planning phase.
On the same vein of Favor of the Lady, "A Journey to Rhosgobel" introduced the Dúnedain card called Dúnedain Quest (I know, right?), which does the same Favor of the Lady does, for the same cost, but also have an ability to pass the item around for 1 resource cost. The Miruvor attachment can also be a nice addition to the Shieldmaiden's ever raising Willpower pool cards.
Since Rohan is a popular questing keyword, there is a certain amount of Events that deal with this specific keyword, some of them - that Éowyn can use - are: Astonishing Speed and We Do Not Sleep. The first gives a great boost (+2) to all questing Rohan characters, while the more expensive We Do Not Sleep removes the necessity of exhausting before questing for those same characters. In a turn, you could be questing with more than enough and still having a good amount of defenders (or attackers!) during the Combat phase.
Heroes Synergies Bilbo, Ori.

__Conclusion__
Threat
(4 stars)
Handle
(5 stars)
Experience
(4 stars)
Synergy
(3 star)
Support
(3,5 star)
________________________
Overall (3.900)



Almost reaching our champion so far, Éowyn have a low starting threat and a specific role: Questing. The fact she has a low Defense and HP suggests you won't be using her to defend an enemy attack, but that is not a problem, unless she was readied by a card, she was probably very exhausted from all the locations she's been visiting this round. Heroes with specific roles either get stronger or obsolete with the time passing, and Éowyn is part of the former group; questing is her deal, and she will keep doing that very well - the more players, the merrier - from the very start until the end of the game lifespan. A nice Hero to use when you're in deep need for Willpower, but try not to be hooked, or sooner or later you won't be able to ditch her.
Don't forget: There are other fish in the sea!




1.7 Gimli (Tactics) Starting Threat 11
Gimli, son of Glóin (we will talk about his father later), a real killer machine. You know, some people do not hold grudges, but believe me when I tell you this dwarf definitively does! The worst he gets hurt, the harder he will be swing at your enemies. Gimli is one of those heroes that you MUST try at least once - he is that fun!

OO :: Gimli is better when coupled with good defenders, giving him the edge on more powerful enemies and letting the weakest to the allies. There is not much you can do to raise your Attack (even less on a permanently basis)... unless you are a Dwarf. Dwarven Axe and Citadel Plate are the restricted spots you want to use for Gimli. When it comes down to allies, supporters like Son of Arnor are a good call.
Self-Preservation is a good card on Gimli, you can defend more than once before start having problems with his HP. Gimli can have - naked - up to 6 Attack - Daughter of the Nimrodel has the same effect on him. He is an all-arounder, and while that usually means a so-so Hero, Gimli makes sure you get what you paid for his 11 starting threat.
Some not much used cards like Blade Mastery are great for Gimli if you have some way to ready him - 3 Defense and then come back with a powered up attack? Sure, where do I sign?
Quick Strike is a bless to Gimli, you have the first opportunity to bury his axe on an enemy's head that is threatening you before he can even breath.
Heroes Synergies Glorfindel, Legolas.
EI :: The Tactical Bofur is a friendly sighting to the Lord of the Glittering Caves, fishing his favourite axes (Dwarven Axe / Dwarrowdelf Axe) out of the player's deck. The same can be said about Master of the Forge, but this one can fish for other attachments as well (like Citadel Plate, Ring Mail and Boots from Erebor). Gimli is such a good attacker that once I saw him trashing Durin's Bane in one swing! Yes, he is a BEAST!
Dori, another dwarf, can save his life if you're risking Gimli on the edge of his HP count. Another life-saver is the healer of Gondor: Warden of Healing.
A good friend on the hack and slash for Gimli is the Erebor Battle Master, but only if you have enough Dwarf to justify his low HP and Defense. Dúnedain Cache makes this killing-machine go berserk with the ranged keyword.
Since Gimli is almost always swinging, attaching the first Keeping Count on him can do wonders to other heroes - specially the ones like Boromir and Dúnhere; Boromir can use his ability to wipe the table of enemies with the nice boost from Keeping Count, while Dúnhere can eliminate a major threat while it is still sitting at the staging area.
The item Song of Mocking makes Gimli able to attack from the get go. The fact he has a lot of HP means he is able to soak a nice amount of damage before you have to worry, and his Attack is pumping for that amount of time.
Heroes Synergies Brand son of Bain, Beorn, Dáin Ironfoot, Elrond, Ori, Thorin Oakenshield.

__Conclusion__
Threat
(3,5 stars)
Handle
(4,5 stars)
Experience
(4 stars)
Synergy
(4,5 star)
Support
(5 star)
________________________
Overall (4.300)



These Dwarves definitively cover for one another. If you have all the AP's and two more friends (just two!) you can build three decks containing all the Dwarf Heroes and then... well, you will understand what synergy means. But this is about Gimli. The stubborn Dwarf has all-around stats, but with a few damage on him, he becomes over the top; and he can still quest if there is no enemy threatening you. He is resilient and have enough support to justify all his 5 Stars.
Gimli will be a staple in very aggressive Tactics decks, and he will keep growing as long as enemies with high Defense and HP are being print (which means, forever).




1.8 Gloin (Leadership) Starting Threat 9
Glóin! Hey, I told you I was going to talk about him. One of Thorin's companions who set out to Erebor is the second Dwarf Hero in the Core set. He plays with the game's most simple and yet important structure: The resource-making. Interesting enough, he has a similar ability to his son's, both triggering out of suffering wounds - these dwarves, huh?

OO :: While Gimli had to remain wounded for his effects to keep 'on', Glóin's Response is a one-time effect: You get wounded, you get rich. Which means healing is the best companion to Glóin. On that vein, we have: Daughter of the Nimrodel and Self Preservation; both of those heal up to 2 damage from Glóin, which means half of his life. Oh, right, his HP is on the average (4.1 HP is the average, if you are wondering - or 3.9 if you ignore the out-of-bounds 10HP from Beorn), and his defense is low, which means you will have to be very careful in the wounds management - if you slip once, he can die and take a whole lot of resources with him.
Then you think: But I can give him more HP! Yes! Yes you can! Specially if you pair him with the Tactics sphere. He give enough money to pay for it, and it doubles his Hit Points, giving you more leeway on the management we just talked about. Not to mention that most of the best Tactics ally have a cost range of 3-4, which gives you another reason to pair him with them. Another nice trick for a Glóin-Tactics deck is Stand Together: You defend with one-to-three characters against a huge attacker and what pass through goes on Glóin - if he can't handle it, a cheap ally bites the dust instead. If you want to make him a best defender, though, Lore is the way to go: Dark Knowledge removes 1 point of Willpower from him, but helps you decide whether you will defend against an enemy attack or not - paired with Protector of Lórien, he becomes a great defender and you can easily decide how much damage you will take from each attack.
Still on the Lore sphere, you have healing... Lots of it. Among the Events you have a Lore of Imladris, which removes ALL damage from Glóin, doesn't matter if he has 3 damage or 7. The fact that it is an 2 cost action, means you can make your management even broader, being able to heal right after revealing the enemy's shadow card.
Heroes Synergies Glorfindel.
EI :: As soon as you hit the other APs and Expansions, you get Warden of Healing. Now imagine Warden, Daughter of the Nimrodel and Elrond. You'll never have a dead Glóin in your hands anymore. He can use the help of Master of the Forge to fish for Boots from Erebor and raises his HP to that of a very respectable Dwarf! You can see that the Lore is the best sphere if you are aiming to a defensive Glóin, specially with Dori in play.
Being on the Leadership sphere have it's perks, and Hardy Leadership is definitively one of them, in Glóin's case. Not only it's a cheap attachment, but it has a very broad scope, giving every Dwarf CHARACTER +1 Hit point - if you sum it all up, you can have a Glóin with 14 Hit points (Boots from Erebor, Citadel Plate x2 and Hardy Leadership). That with Healing Herbs in play is probably a nice picture to see. If you have Song of Mocking to pair with this humongous monster of health, you don't need to worry about losing a Hero anymore!
If you're aiming for a more balanced Glóin, Durin's Song is a great tool, giving him +2 Willpower to quest, +2 Attack in case you want him to attack AND +2 Defense for a possible defense, all for just 1 cost! While we are at Leadership sphere and Dwarf-specific cards, there is no way to avoid mentioning Lure of Moria: Dwarven Personal Grim Resolve... at for 2 less resource! Matched with Parting Gifts, Glóin (who already has a respectable beard) becomes Santa himself.
In the end, you can see how Glóin can fill a great number of roles, and do it well, while not needing to be the main focus of a deck to work properly.
Heroes Synergies Bifur, Dáin Ironfoot, Elrond, Thorin Oakenshield.

__Conclusion__
Threat
(5 stars)
Handle
(4 stars)
Experience
(5 stars)
Synergy
(4 star)
Support
(5 star)
________________________
Overall (4.600)



Here we have one of the most balanced, yet powerful, Heroes not only of the core, but the whole game. I'm not saying he is an auto-include, far from that; this game has a good amount of diversification already, but Glóin is a perfect definition of a powerhouse. You want him to quest? He can do the work pretty well. You want him to attack? He can do that, but his golden facet is when he is blocking an enemy: The game gives you enough tools to manipulate the defenders Defense and the attacker's Attack value in a way that you can easily predict the outcome of a certain attack. Resource is the main foundation of the game and Glóin can provide it as water, and if you make him the focus of the deck, the most powerful allies of Middle-Earth will be dropping enemies on your doorstep before you can say "Glóinisdaman" three times very fast.




1.9 Glorfindel (Lore) Starting Threat 12
The returned Noldor, Glorfindel is perhaps the mightiest Elf alive during the War of the Ring. His stats fail to reflect that perfectly, but his initial threat is a reminder of why the enemy fears the name "Glorfindel". His first version isn't very popular, specially among new players.

OO :: Glorfindel is clearly a good quester and a good attacker, but his defense is subpar. While he isn't good defending enemies' attacks, his 5 HP certainly gives him a punch on the terrain of survival; other sources of damage (like Goblin Sniper) aren't that hurtful for him. He has above Will, falling only under Éowyn's 4 Willpower and her ability to increase that built-in, which means that he will be already giving you an edge during the Quest phase, being Lore increases that edge by a little bit, since Information is one of Lore sphere's faces... the others are draw and healing; something that Glorfindel has built-in. Cards like Horn of Gondor and Steward of Gondor makes his ability a little bit less costly, but that is one of his major weakness: His printed ability's cost. As discussed before on Glóin's review, resource is the foundation of the game, and if you are already using it for something other than paying for cards, your ability to use events, attach items and play characters is diminished. The fact he is Lore - and not Leadership - makes that a little bit harder; the best allies in Lore have a cost of 3 or more, so unless you're either playing secrecy or a deck full of events, your Lore cards will probably clog your hand very soon.
All in all, Glorfindel is an acceptable all-arounder, but he will eventually get out of your front lines as soon as you get more APs.
Heroes Synergies Gloin, Gimli, Denethor (loosely), Theodred.
EI :: The Core's Glorfindel greater problem is himself. But in another incarnation: Spirit Glorfindel. The fact that this new (and improved) version of Glorfindel exists, makes the 'original' one pales in comparison and since you cannot have two Unique cards with the same name in play at the same time, you're either going for Lore or Spirit - never both. Funny or not, his future is still bright; Lore has many lines to expand upon, and Healing is one of those that has yet to see a real development, so, he still has some locked potential growing within. The game's first Mount, Asfaloth is a Lore card, which means that coupling Glorfindel and his Mount on the same deck, even a diluted (two-sphere/tri-sphere) deck will yield great results.
As said before, he is a good quester, so if paired with Spirit, Light of Valinor is indispensable for making this strong quester an automatic +3 to your questing totals every turn. The addition of healing cards somehow diminished his value, although both healer allies have 1 HP - and so are very vulnerable from direct hit treacheries -, one of the attachments is disposable (Healing Herbs) and the other may only affect the character whom it is attached (Self Preservation); which again brings Glorfindel back to the table: Reliable - it is in play since turn 1 -, Resistant - has 5 HP - and Flexible - may heal any character in play, including himself.
Heroes Synergies Elrond.

__Conclusion__
Threat
(2,5 stars)
Handle
(3 stars)
Experience
(3,5 stars)
Synergy
(3,5 star)
Support
(4 star)
________________________
Overall (3.300)



Glorfindel's threat is too high, but he has higher than average Willpower and Attack as well as a great survivability although his Defense is low. His ability to heal himself or another makes him even better at the survival game some quests bring upon the player.
The Noldor keyword is mostly explored by cards on the fields of questing and attacking, which pretty much helps Glorfindel's support rating, and since he has a card (Asfaloth) that directly gives him a boost, so did his rating. In the end, Glorfindel is a Hero to be tested, and some kinds of players will indeed see the value behind him - because he indeed has it.




1.10 Legolas (Tactics) Starting Threat 9
The Prince of Mirkwood, son of King Thranduil, one hell of an bowman. Legolas is depicted as one of the best (if not the best) archer in Middle-Earth during his time. In his first incarnation on this game, he got a so-so distribution of stats and an ability that helps Tactics in the field it is mostly needing.

OO :: Legolas have a low threat, but to reflect that his stats aren't that great. He has low Willpower and Defense, while having a superior Attack and an average Hit Point value. If you analyse his role, you can see that this is actually a good thing: He doesn't quest well, but that is not his role - still, if you desperately need 1 Willpower, he will help you; just as he will be useful if you're planning to use Grim Resolve after questing. His 4 HP means he will survive some suffering before succumbing, but his Defense begs you not to use him as a defender. His Attack, on the other hand, is great. A 3 Attack printed with an after-kill response that actually helps you win the game is nearly overpower; now, couple that with Blade of Gondolin and his Ranged ability and Legolas makes his arrow fly as far as you need while still scouting the surroundings for trouble and progress. If you are willing to place him in a supportive role, you can add Horseback Archer to the team and make the ranged attacks even more powerful.
Having only the core to explore upon, Legolas don't have many options on which to abuse of his already high Attack, other than a few Events like Blade Mastery (hum...) and For Gondor!. In a game against low-HP enemies, Quick Strike is Legolas' best friend, even more when you have a way to ready him after the attack; this way you can place up to 4 progress tokens directly - and that if he is naked! Place a Blade of Gondolin or two and he is now one of your best quest advancers, without questing!
Heroes Synergies Gimli.
EI :: Some new toys are available for Legolas with a few expansions. The Hobbit's events that asks for Weapons to be exhausted (Goblin-cleaver and Foe-hammer, both costing 0) work exceptionally well on Legolas, since he can equip the Rivendell Blade, Rivendell Bow and Blade of Gondolin - a total of 3 weapons, all of which you can exhaust after killing an enemy for these previously mentioned events.
If you have him on a Noldor/Silvan deck, you'll definetively want to add Silvan Tracker, Haldir of Lórien, Trollshaw Scout/Watcher of the Bruinen and Mirkwood Runner to the roster. The first will guarantee some survivability for your Silvan characters while Haldir can both help Legolas on his arrow-adventures or defend (pretty well, should I add) either you or a partner player. Trollshaw can help as an attacker, multiple times per round as long as you have enough fuel; the same can be said to Watcher's defensive capabilities, although this one must be more carefully followed since he probably won't survive more than 2 attacks per round.
Since most of the best Tactics ally are expensive, I believe FFG purposely made their events great and cheap at the same time; you can attest that evidence with Hands Upon the Bow, a card that bestows Dúnhere's ability (without it's limitation) on a ranged character such as Legolas. Now, you can not only directly advance your winning condition using his ability, but you can also help your questers by removing a troubling enemy with high threat at the staging area. Having the ranged printed is easily an advantage when having multiplayer games and Legolas can fulfill almost all roles Tactics is supposed to, specially the aggressive role.
Most successful Eagle decks uses Legolas, be it for his already great attack, the ranged keyword or his ability to place progress tokens.
Legolas could only be better if he was a Dwarf.
Heroes Synergies Beorn (loosely), Brand son of Bain, Boromir, Elladan (loosely), Hama.

__Conclusion__
Threat
(4 stars)
Handle
(5 stars)
Experience
(4,5 stars)
Synergy
(4 star)
Support
(4 star)
________________________
Overall (4.300)



In the end, Legolas is one of the best choices - if not the best - you can have, up to this day, in the Tactics sphere when it comes to strategy; tactically he is clearly behind both Háma and Boromir. His stats being very focused is good because it lowers his initial threat by sacrificing flexibility in other areas. The tactic sphere is getting a new breath with the Heirs of Númenor expansion and Legolas certainly will benefit from it. He will grown even more, when we have the (probable) Elven expansion.




1.11 Thalin (Tactics) Starting Threat 9
Another FFG creation, Thalin deceived many of Tolkien's fans into believing in his genuine existence, and for that alone, I salute him. Thalin has a very interesting ability, that both has everything to do with his sphere and at the same time, the whole opposite. He does damage, DIRECTLY for that matter, but is most of the time unavailable to attack! This guy is one in a thousand.

OO :: Thalin has (along with Legolas and Hama) the lowest threat among Tactics heroes. He could have a lesser threat, in my opinion, since he nearly ever will be using his Attack and Defense stats. He has average HP (although some would argue he has a below-average HP for Dwarves) and most Tactics attachments are useless on him due to his questing nature. When commited to a quest, Thalin may be able to damage up to 4 enemies (depending on the number of players - could be more due to surge) without breaking a sweat - it is good to also remember that some enemies do indeed have only 1 HP, so Thalin is able to kill enemies before they try to react (his ability, being a trait is 'faster' than When Revealed effects and other printed like Surge and Doomed - which makes him a great quester during one of the most hated scenarios: A Journey to Rhosgobel).
He having such a low Willpower begs him to be paired with the Spirit sphere for a better questing power initially or Lore, for the freedom during the Combat phase and the amount of possibilities it opens up with the amount of draw - you will have a small army of cheap allies to defend and quest while Thalin damages then during the quest phase - now you just need someone to finish the job, someone like Boromir (I know this is supposed to be Core only, but he is perfect for this situation).
Heroes Synergies Denethor, Dúnhere, Eleanor, Théodred.
EI :: Hey, remember when I said that Thalin's initial threat could be lower by reducing his stats? Yeah, with the advention of Siege and Battle keywords, he is even better during those kind of quests! Hell, it seems as if they designed him with Siege/Battle in mind! He is a dwarf, he is tactics and his Willpower is low, although his printed ability is only useful when he is commited to a quest; during Siege/Battle his stat used is better than in other quests! Amazing job FFG, amazing job indeed!!
If paired with more dwarves and prone to being hit by Lure of Moria, Thalin becomes a true pain for the enemies as they are wounded before acting and can be countered not long after by the same guy... It is said that orc-moms tell scary-stories about a mad dwarf who is faster than lightning; wether it is true or not remains unverified, but none can contest Thalin's versatility.
With the amount of ready-a-hero effects in the game right now, Thalin's other stats matter even more, you can have him questing (which you'll want all the time, I assume) and then attackin/defending right thereafter. With some blanket bonuses to Attack or Defense, he now doubles as a versatile attacker. Durin's Song were never so appealing: For 1 Leadership resource, Thalin becomes a beast with 3/4/4 able to use two of those to it's fullest - accepting the previous premises; while we are at the Leadership sphere, you can also add Fresh Tracks so you can kill even a 2 HP enemy before he can attack you.
During the previous review, I talked about his possible synergy with the Lore sphere; what if you could give Thalin's ability a boost? Well, the first Hobbit box gives you Expecting Mischief, an event that, if used with Encounter deck tempering (Lore's information facet) can guarantee a kill on a 3 HP enemy DURING THE STAGING STEP! You can't say that Thalin isn't flexible after that.
Heroes Synergies Boromir, Dáin Ironfoot, Dwalin (loosely), Ori, Thorin Oakenshield.

__Conclusion__
Threat
(4 stars)
Handle
(5 stars)
Experience
(4,5 stars)
Synergy
(5 star)
Support
(5 star)
________________________
Overall (4.700)



The aftermath is very promising for Thalin. He has the most 5 stars out of any of the Core Heroes and is one of my personally favourite. While I believe Dwarves are still getting some support in the coming APs, their huge boost has already arrived, any news for Siege/Battle quests are good enough for Thalin as well, so he deserves the extra half-star on Experience. Thalin grows on Siege/Battle, but he is even bigger coupled with Thorin and Ori, specially if another deck is running Dáin Ironfoot.




1.12 Theodred (Leadership) Starting Threat 8
Théodred was the heir of Théoden, King of Rohan. His ability relying upon commiting to quest is a direct relation to his Rohan keyword, and his resource creating capability is reliable.

OO :: Leadership is the sphere of resources and Theodred reinforces that point very thightly. This extra resource accelerates your economy by 1/3 of an extra turn after questing and his only requirement is that someone is questing as long as he is as well - so, if he is the only one questing, you can place the extra resource on him. In the second turn's Combat phase you have a total of 8 resources to spend - at every 3 rounds you have one extra round of resources and all you did was try to win the game as you would normally do anyway. Since he will be always questing - just like Thalin - cards that provides Willpower have that extra punch for him, specially the ones that remain on the game permanently - or for longer than a turn at least -, like Protector of Lórien or Celebrian's Stone.
For quicker decks, that play a lots of Events, the extra resource is better to be used either during the Quest phase (when paired with Lore and/or Spirit) or the Combat phase (Tactics or Leadership). Theodred can also be used to empower three-sphere decks with his ability to provide the extra resource needed in the right time.
Theodred lacks a little bit in the readying department, since he has a low Defense and a average Attack you probably have a more suitable target to the readying you have in your hand at the moment. Other than that, he fills his single role pretty well: Give people resources.
Heroes Synergies Aragorn, Éowyn, Glorfindel, Thalin.
EI :: The Prince of Rohan has an even greater value in Secrecy decks, since he can provide the extra resource a third Hero would bring to the table, and since Leadership has some good cards for this kind of deck, he is easily a reliable choice. Since he is a resource producer himself, placing him in a Secrecy deck along with Resourceful, Steward of Gondor and Bifur makes the high costing Secrecy cards more appealing, not to mention the underdog event Taking Initiative, which can be a real game changer in this same deck - since you have deck manipulation because of Lore and most of your cards will have a cost high enough to Taking Initiative effective.
Him being a Rohan only makes things better: Astonishing Speed, Éomund, We Do Not Sleep. Questing with 3 Willpower, without exhausting and with the possibility to combine Éomund with Ride to Ruin so you can attack/defend and yet explore a 3-questpoint location at the same time? Yes, it seems the perfect hand (and you'll need a LOT of resources for that) but it can happen more often than not, specially paired with the Lore sphere of Draw.
Heroes Synergies Bifur, Elladan, Elrohir, Elrond (loosely).

__Conclusion__
Threat
(4 stars)
Handle
(5 stars)
Experience
(4 stars)
Synergy
(5 star)
Support
(5 star)
________________________
Overall (4.600)



As it becomes visible, Théodred fulfills only one role well: The supporter. He feeds you the foundation of the game +1 Willpower if you accept to have virtually one less hero during the rest of the game.
He shines brighter, though, when you have a rushing deck and/or Secrecy active - specially since he has such a low threat, sure. In the end, I was torn between giving him 3,5 or 4 stars in Threat, I ended up giving it 4 stars because of his ability - it is very powerful for only 8 initial threat and this boosts even more his role in a secrecy deck.



2. Mirkwood Cycle (Shadows of Mirkwood)
During this analysis, I'll treat the whole cycle as one big expansion, instead of treating each expansion pack alone.
I can say for sure that we got both amazing Heroes and some not-so-much. The first cycle certainly gave the game a lot of maturity, but as once it was said to me in FFG's forum: It has a lot of room to grow yet.

2.1 Bilbo Baggins (Lore) Starting Threat 9
Bilbo Baggins, the first of our Heroes to get out of the summing template for definition of Starting Threat. When I first started playing, Bilbo was shunned and was living in eternal darkness. He simply didn't seemed all that much to me, his ability was good, but mitigated somewhat for... all the rest. Yet, to this day, he is always one of the first ones I consider when building a Lore deck - if he makes the cut or not, is another issue, but he is always on the dispute.

OO :: As I said before with Beravor, the ability to draw cards is something that should never be seen with disdain, no matter the game. Bilbo's ability is what you can call 'passive', as in you don't need to do anything, in fact you CANNOT do anything. Yes, you cannot choose if the first player will draw the extra card or not - so his only requirement to work is for you to remember he is in play and that you play by the book. At first look, his 9 initial threat scares a little bit for a guy who isn't good at anything (he is mediocre at questing, attacking and survival) but his extra card has always proved to be useful. Then, you realize that there is more than numbers in his card (wow!), and there is a very interesting word: "Hobbit". Yes, that's right. Bilbo's most valuable asset is his trait. Even though Hobbit is not a fully-explored trait as of yet (hoping to see more support in the third expansion for the next arc, though), there is an attachment in "The Dead Marshes" called Fast Hitch. At first look, it isn't much, but that 1-cost attachment can transform the fragile Bilbo into the Great Wall of China - even more than Denethor with his high printed Defense. Bilbo using Fast Hitch and Burning Brand becomes a good defender, but he is still very fragile - a simple 4 Attack enemy kills him even without the Burning Brand - but, there are a number of other cards that can help you here:
Healing Cards (Daughter of the Nimrodel, Self-Preservation), Defense Boosters (Dunedain Warning, Protector of Lórien, Support of the Eagles), Health Boosters (Citadel Plate) and other Miscellaneous like Song of Mocking (you block the Shadow card and another guy takes the hit). The uses of Fast Hitch do not stop with his defensive capabilities, though. You can transform the hobbit-only rope into a readying festival with A Common Cause, readying a more important/powerful Hero at no cost.
Spirit decks focused on questing will benefit the most from his ability, because this kind of deck cannot have a resource management AND a drawing machine at the same time - it would thin the deck too much. Bilbo being in play though, makes this much easier; both players will benefit, one each round, so neither would have 'too much' in his hands.
The ability to foresee what the players can draw boosts Bilbo a notch; Keen-eyed Took in a Resource-Supportive deck can help as well, specially for those with a driving for combos, since you'll usually pack 3-of of the combo's wheels, so as soon as you get the extra copies on the top of the deck, Keen-eyed Took can take them out for you. Unfortunately for Bilbo, this Hobbit cannot look past the top, so some strategy (like counting cards) between the players to define what's the next step is mostly appreciated. You can go even further with this foreseeing ability, though, with a well-known-and-rarely-used event called Gandalf's Search: it is a costly card, but in a deck focused on combos, it will make it's appearance, and Bilbo will make sure all those hours in the wizard library wouldn't be in vain.
I've never saw an Eagles deck featuring Bilbo, but during my research I realized that a Elrond-Bilbo-(someone) Tactic/Lore deck could be interesting, as in building the Eagles of the Misty Mountains. You see, Bilbo's extra card is greatly appreciated in solo games (since the same player will benefit from his ability every turn) and Elrond cutting both ways (heh) for allies can generate enough income to produce the eagles and keep the board flowing.
Bilbo, in the end, is wall with a permanent unrestricted drawing ability that can benefit more than one player. That is something you should look for at least once, during the deck building phase.
Heroes Synergies None.
EI :: Remember about Bilbo's defensive role I was talking about? Yeah, it gets better! Way. Better. Now you can count on cards that are all-powerful on their own, like Arwen Undómiel, but strengthens Bilbo as they appear.
His Defense can easily sky-rocket in a Spirit/Lore defensive questing deck, having great possibilities to raise his defense, readying often and healing after a hit. His 2HP, though, remain a problem, and except without a Tactics partner to play Citadel Plate or Ring Mail, the only way to get him more health is with Boots From Erebor, which, in fact, is quite nice, but a character can only attach one, making Bilbo a 3HP Hero top.
While we are speaking about attachments, Good Meal is an interesting choice for a tri-sphere'd deck, giving you the opportunity to get a discount to the next event of any sphere, as long as Bilbo has the matching song, giving you a interesting control on the resource management. A little bit of tweaking and you can abuse this little trick with attachment retrieval. In a Lore specific point of view, however, you mostly won't use it, since most Lore decks do not pack many events, and those who do, mostly use 0-1 cost events.
Again, drawing is always a good ability, but with the game progressing, there is a possibility that we are seeing the last days of Bilbo. With Beravor still being a favorite for Lore-draw, Bilbo's niche can be closed so long as we get a Hero with better stats with a similar ability. Not hoping for that though.
Heroes Synergies Beregond (loosely), Bifur.

__Conclusion__
Threat
(1 stars)
Handle
(4 stars)
Experience
(2,5 stars)
Synergy
(1,5 stars)
Support
(1,5 stars)
________________________
Overall 3 stars (3.000)


You know, it's kind of sad that Bilbo got so low results, but that simply is a reflection of the game growing outside of it's initial premises, which is good - while we see failures like Secrecy, new abilities and quests keep appearing to mantain the game's freshness. Bilbo, on the other hand, could see a new version on the horizon to avoid his name to fall into oblivion - who knows? Maybe on 2nd part of the Hobbit?
I would like to notice that his 1 Start for threat is mostly based on a comparison with other Heroes with an approximated threat who are better at what they do than Bilbo on his. Beravor is another matter to be taken into it's own category: She gives you more control on how the drawing will happen, draw more cards, have only 1 more threat and still manages to have a good survivability right from the start.



2.2 Boromir (Tactics) Starting Threat 11
Ah, Boromir son of Denethor. My favorite male character from Tolkien's work. It's hard to be impartial about him, except when we are talking about numbers - which is what this work is about.
Boromir came to me together with Bilbo and Frodo, which probably was the reason why Tactics was the sphere I used most during my early days - also probably the reason why I laughed at Bilbo's face when I saw his card.

OO :: Not considering Ranged/Sentinel, Boromir was the first Hero to get two abilities and the only one to this day to have both of them as proactive. His stats are somewhat over the top, with the ability to ready himself at whim, every number on his card counts: He can contribute to questing, then defending (any number of times) and still be ready to rock some Orcs' behinds. Also, still on his stats, having an Attack of 3 is far from uncommon, specially on the Tactics sphere, but giving a single card both this high Attack and the ability to repeat punishment on several enemies is unheard of.
The designers' ability to make Boromir is remarkable, they were able to make a strong and bold warrior who prefers to work on his own. This reflects pretty well Boromir's personality during the War of the Ring, but reduces significantly his score for card synergies. His ability to ready himself isn't something you can share with other allies, and his suicidal attack is performable once per game (sans retrieval), so you can't rely on that also. The obvious exception is Landroval*, who is Boromir best friend, specially on the brink of defeat.
Although that lack of camaraderie can make him look bad, his ability and his numbers make him the best option for a ton of attachments and events, like Support of the Eagles, Blade of Gondolin, Any of the Dúnedain signals, Blade Mastery, For Gondor! and Common Cause. If you center your deck around Boromir's ability - either in a Spirit with heavy threat reduction - or in a suicidal support deck (where you do not care if you are defeated, as long as the players win in the end), Boromir can trully shine and show the White Tree colors on the battlefield.
Heroes Synergies Legolas, Prince Imrahil, Thalin.
EI :: Anything that boosts Boromir's attack is a very nice addition to his arsenal, so cards like Grave Cairn while they are decent on their own, attachments are Boromir's preferred weapons - they usually have lower bonuses but they stick around for the slaughter. Unfortunately, the game haven't developed the Item (specially Weapons) part of the Tactics sphere yet - every Weapon in the game is Tactics, but only Dwarven Axe has an always-present bonus and no faction-restriction. Boromir can (ab)use Spear of the Citadel, bringing the weapon's full potential into play as long as you are ready to make some sacrifices (your threat).
With the addition of Heirs of Númenór, a Gondor/Rohan mixed deck became an obvious choice, but they ended up giving this Boromir a better chance at surviving than the new one. That helps in questing (Battle) and attacking, but this one has the ability (and the guts) to do everything by himself. The overpower Light the Beacons turned him into a party pooper for the incursing enemies who try vainly to attack the almighty Boromir Behind Strong Walls. Geez, I mean, if he has the Support of the Eagles, then, there is no enemy with swordmanship enough to nick Cap Boromir.
Heroes Synergies Aragorn.

__Conclusion__
Threat
(4 stars)
Handle
(3 stars)
Experience
(4 stars)
Synergy
(2,5 stars)
Support
(4 stars)
________________________
Overall (3.500)


While Boromir does synergizes well with all Heroes listed, I gave him only 2,5 stars because the support itself is very limited. As an example, Aragorn can only use his ability once, and while it's clear that if you brought them together you know the potential 'combo' between them, you can only do this once and in scenarios that skyrocket your threat Aragorn will be more worried about the team's safety than the combo itself; while the others are either benefited by one-time events (not the card type) or simply the fact that he is allround.
Boromir's future is safe for the next cycle at least, and probably the whole game if it keeps the current balance.

* It came to my attention by the user AjiTae that Boromir CAN'T be saved by Landroval. While it does not change his stats, clearly makes him a truly loner.



2.3 Brand son of Bain (Tactics) Starting Threat 10
Brand the archer, grandson of Bard himself! The King of Dale has arouse attention of players for his inability to perform well solo while being a great weapon in multiplayers' arsenal around the globe. His threat, however, is one of his boons.
Brand is one of the rare Heroes with the printed Ranged ability, and as such can abuse events related to the ability.

OO :: Brand's ability unlocks his full potential if the deck is tuned for support action. Even if the deck in question is a suicidal one, the King of Dale's capability to ready any character under the other player's control every Combat phase (even out of it, sometimes) can turn games. There is a reason why Unexpected Courage is unanimously considered a powerful card: It 'cheats' with no cost. Brand has a restriction, but considering that most (all?) of the time you'll want your enemies to die, the cost doesn't seem that hefty, does it?
It is good to reiterate the fact that his ability readies a CHARACTER, it doesn't say a Hero or a ally, it says a character. Most of the times you'll ready a Hero, I know, but the potential is there! A juiced Beorn (ally) just swung at an enemy? Direct that cannon to another one! What about the Grey wizard? Yes, he can quest and slap Easterling's face in the same turn if you have a partner with Brand at your side. Gildor Inglorion can defend/attack/quest and then use his ability before you draw to better manage your cards. The possibilities are near endless! It is good to remember the reader of a card named Quick Strike, with it, Brand's tricks extend from the Combat phase to any other phase during the game, so you could use a character exhausting ability (like Beravor's) and then commit him to the quest right after Brand kills that pesky bat annoying you. All you need is a killable enemy engaged with your partner. It goes without saying that his power grows exponentially with more than 2 players, reaching it's appex with 4 players.
The same premise of Boromir's attack is true for Brand's, but since he can only attack once, you don't wanna to waste too many slots to boost his attacks, after all, 3 Attack is already strong, and since you'll mostly use him during coordinated attacks, 3 is a good number alright.
Although the above cannot* be questioned, he is just a 10-threat ranged guy for soloers, and that is not a good card in my book - you can get a better deal out of Legolas.
Oh, speaking of his disabilities, for some reason Brand decided to go to war naked, and so he has only 3HP. If you are facing a treacherous damage-inflicting encounter deck, prepare your retrievals/cancellations or you'll lose him.
Heroes Synergies Aragorn (loosely), Beravor, Denethor, Gimli, Legolas. (Note: I was tempted to include him in Bilbo's synergies - and vice-versa -, but it was ultimately removed)
EI :: While Brand is one of the two only Heroes who can use Hands Upon the Bow right of the bat, you should refrain from doing so unless ultimately necessary. See, his ability only works if you defeat an enemy engaged with another player - the main reason why soloers never touch him - and the event asks you to target an enemy on the staging area.
Brand's preferable controller would be one aggressive as to fully exploit his ability, so he makes a good candidate to start the Keeping Count festival, helping other heroes to get their Attack's up in the mid- and late-game. Anything that can ready him consistently basically means flexibility in terms of exhausting to pay costs. Pairing him with Hama, makes you able to Quick Strike every round, readying heroes and slashing thug's throats.
Heroes Synergies Beregond (loosely), Dwalin, Háma.

__Conclusion__
Threat
(3 stars)
Handle
(4,5 stars)
Experience
(3,5 stars)
Synergy
(4,5 stars)
Support
(0,5 star)
________________________
Overall (3.200)


The only reason why he was given 4,5 instead of 5 stars in Synergy is due to his inability to work outside of multiplayer games. Also, I gave him 1,5 stars because of his Ranged ability alone: There is no support to Dale cards as of yet.



2.4 Dain Ironfoot (Leadership) Starting Threat 11
The King Dáin Ironfoot of Erebor was a great warrior in his time, even in the momentsbefore his death it is said that he branded his weapon like a true Dwarf. Yet, this incarnation of Dáin focuses on his ability to lead, and nothing more suitable to reflect that than, not one, but two blanket boosts. Yes, King Dáin makes all your Dwarf allies look cheaper and makes every other faction pale in comparison. The designers chose to exchange flexibility for power, and did it wonderfully well.

OO :: It is not the easiest job to talk about a so focused character. Dáin has the ability to give all Dwarf characters +1 Attack and +1 Willpower. That alone is great, although, it is good to note that his ability has one downside: His bonuses only work while he is ready. Dáin makes any Dwarf (yours or otherwise) stronger just by standing there immobile; you don't need a action to activate it, you don't need to meet any requirement. Just, let him be... awesome.
The King of the Iron Hills has a very good Defense stat, ranging above the normal, and cumulated with tons of HP makes him an admirable defensor. You have a choice here, that depends on your playing style, you can defend with him and lose the Attack bonus or let him there untouched and keeping the attack high on the table. It is funny that he is such a good defender and leader, but can't do much when besieged.
Heroes Synergies Gimli, Gloin, Thalin.
EI :: Knowing very well that you have cards such as Lure of Moria in your arsenal makes the previous choice-making I was talking about much smoother. You can go on and quest with him, not worrying about damage-dealing Treacheries because he has an almighty 5HP to back him up and then, bam. Ready everyone. +1 Willpower for all. Cheers. Good Gaming.
The amount of support the Dwarves received in Khazad-dum is, to the moment, unprecedent. They were given card-draw, resource boosting, willpower, never-seeing before abilities, absurd attacking prowess and resilience. But that didn't stopped with Khazad-dum, no. The Hobbit Saga expansion brought more Dwarves to be in awe of Dáin's awesomeness and one of their best attachments: Hardy Leadership. If a moment ago Dáin only helped in defeating enemies and quests, now he also makes you more resistance to those goblins' sticks. Anything that comes along and says 'Dwarf', Dáin Ironfoot has already requested the universally known right of claim: 'dibs'.
Heroes Synergies Bifur, Dwalin, Nori, Ori, Thorin Oakenshield.

__Conclusion__
Threat
(4 stars)
Handle
(5 stars)
Experience
(4,5 stars)
Synergy
(4 stars)
Support
(5 stars)
________________________
Overall (4.500)


Come on guys, down the pitchforks and the torches. Yes, he didn't get 5 Stars in Synergy because his ability is exclusive for Dwarfs. Gimli, for example, got a higher rating because not only he also synergizes with the same number of Heroes as Dain does, but he can fit in different decks, independent of his affiliations: he will fight just as well along Legolas just as well as he fights along his brothers - Dáin, on the other hand, does nothing for the Dúnedain, Silvan, Noldor, etc...
The overall future is also bright for Dáin. We expect to see more Dwarves in the second part of Hobbits, so his value is clearly on the rising, and blanket abilities will always be interesting at least. Considering the huge amount of readying in game, yes, he will stick around for cycles to come.



2.5 Frodo Baggins (Spirit) Starting Threat 7
One of Lord of the Ring's protagonists made his debut right after the launch of the game, at the second expansion pack, right after his uncle's: Conflict at the Carrock. At the time, that was a difficult quest, but after managing to make Frodo works his potential, you start to realize the shortcuts to win that scenario... and many others.

OO :: Frodo is an interesting character that can easily backfire if you do not think ahead. His ability to negate wounds on him is unbelievable strong, specially on such a small container with just 7 threat. Although the cost for this awesome ability is also steep: Threat. Frodo starts the game with a good Willpower of 2, with that, not only can he sustain major wounds but he is a competent quester to help you win the game.
While he definitively shouldn't be defending with him every turn, sometimes you know you need to make sacrifices and Frodo knows how to take it to the heart. The most amazing part of his (canon) ability is that you have the means to mitigate it's cost if you are ready to give him more spotlight during the deckbuilding stage. Adding cards with a defense bonus (or better, a defense AND willpower bonus - looking at you, Protector of Lorien) or Dunedain Warning - which, coincidently or not, comes in the same Adventure Pack! -, Frodo becomes a very competent defender, although not as good as his uncle, Frodo would not depend anymore solely on his ability in order to stay alive. In this case, he can even abuse readying abilities to make him defend more.
Cards that ignore or cancels Shadow are specially useful for him, making the outcome predictable, and thus, easy to mitigate later.
In a Tactics deck, he can Stand Together with other defenders to further reduce the chance of being hit - and, while we are there, a Citadel Plate would guarantee a longer lifespan as well.
The aftermath is, the Frodo Baggins card is just like his book counterpart: A survivor. A really good one, while at that. Frodo can survive any hit in the game, but he will draw the attention of Sauron when doing so, and consequently raise your enemies' awareness of your presence. Use him wisely, then, because he can bring you victory, just as he could your demise!
Heroes Synergies Glorfindel.
EI :: The first part of the Hobbit expansion introduced an interesting Dwarf called Dori to help our heroes in their journeys through Middle-Earth, but a very interesting facet of this Dwarf is that he boosts immensely the protection when it comes down to another little guy, Frodo. Yes, Frodo has a built-in tool for ultimate survival, but you now have ANOTHER choice for when are you going to use this double-edge ability. His ability became even more strategic, will you use it only on bigger hit, and then having to raise your threat immensily or will you use the Ring to avoid minor attacks and raise your threat accordingly, so your other characters are free to attack and eliminate the enemy? It's a hard task to always getting the upper hand on the decision, but Dori gives you another shot at getting the right decision.
The overall survivability of cards also rose during these expansions, with new and cheap ways to gain HP, like Armor Mail (2 tactics cost) and Boots from Erebor (1 neutral cost), Frodo saw the start of his warrior carreer - yeah, ok, I exaggerated a bit, no problem though. Frodo now, not only has a high defense, but he has a larger pool of Hit points, giving him the possibility of being healed and only using his ability when the need is high!
Heroes Synergies Aragorn, Elrond.

__Conclusion__
Threat
(3,5 stars)
Handle
(2,5 stars)
Experience
(3 stars)
Synergy
(2 stars)
Support
(1,5 stars)
________________________
Overall (2.500)


I already expected Frodo to do poorly here. Although I should remember you, dear reader, that this stats aren't about how good a Hero is or how powerful, no, this is just a list of 5 characteristics I deem more appropriate for a beginner to look for in his Heros, in order to aiding his ascension within the game ranks!
Frodo, unfortunately, do not do that very well. I was actually having trouble to define his 'Handle' score, because he could be an awesome asset for players 'avoiding' the Combat phase, using the same premise of Aragorn and the Rulebook's rule for beginners of 'no shadow card': Not having to worry about a part of the game (Exhaust for Questing for Aragorn, Defending for Frodo and Shadow Cards for the Rulebook) is not detrimental for the game, it's the opposite: He will start to understand better this complex (yet AWESOME) game and then he will ask for more challenges! So, do you agree with my score for Frodo? While he obviously help in that regard, Frodo can make your threat skyrocket if you aren't prepared enough.
Still, I'm not worried for this guy's future for now, with Peregrin Took coming around and giving Hobbits a full-deck, his Support, Synergy and Experience would gladly accept a review.



2.6 Prince Imrahil (Leadership) Starting Threat 11
A underrated card that gave me more trouble than any other in this write-up until now. I wrote his review twice, and then, review it once more just to make sure I did not left any arguments from the first one on the second.
Imrahil is a Noble Gondorian, a paragon of Gondor's ally scheme. Although he does not help them, per se, he exerts himself to beyond the normal limits to once again take action on his own hands.
As the Prince of Dol Amroth, Imrahil is a very independent character, not depending directly on Gondor to sing his song, although being way stronger when doing so.

OO :: Imrahil has good stats overall, with good Willpower, Defense and HP, although with a high Attack of 3. Having high stats, of course, reflects on his initial threat as well. His 11 threat, then, makes him unable to be part of low-threat decks, and his ability clearly directs him to aggressive decks, specially those with low-cost allies.
The sphere with more such low-cost allies is Spirit, although that is not a very good recipe for a aggressive deck in multiplayer, this Leadership+Spirit combination can be a blast during solo play. As the rule of thumb, you will reveal only one card per round, so, the questing power yield by the Spirit sphere plus the aggressive style Imrahil and cards like Sneak Attack provide the extra push needed to a guaranteed win.
Sure, the Sneak Attack itself is already a 'combo' (if you want to call it that) for Imrahil, but there are more of these sure ways to make Imrahil act twice every turn. Escort from Edoras will provide a ridiculous 6 Willpower (2 From Edoras, +2 from his ability and +2 from Imrahil committing as well) for the cost of 2 spirit resources, and then, at the end of the quest, Imrahil is ready to kick some goblin's... er, cheeks.
We all know Hobbits are creative creatures, their usual ways of waging war isn't by branding swords (sure we have exceptions) and Keen-Eyed Took makes Imrahil's reaction ability into an Action: instead, giving you even more control over the game. Since Imrahil is a Gondorian and Leadership, surely 2 resources will not be a problem for you.
Having the power to ready himself means that you left the good readying cards for others without this ability.
Since we are talking about agressiveness, the Captain of the White Tower, Boromir, can make an exciting match-up with the Prince of Dol Amroth, both having the great ability to work extra-hours for you. And, since you now have a good resource machine (Leadership) and two nice Heroes, why not make a Eagle-riding deck?
Heroes Synergies Denethor, Eleanor.
EI :: Having overall good stats makes Imrahil a good choice for players who prefer the "One Deck to Rule them All" mode, since he is able to quest well during the normal scenarios as well as during the Battle and Siege.
With the addition of support for Gondor, Imrahil's power obviously creeped a bit. Although that is the same for any other Gondorian, the fact that this keyword means both ally support and money is an extra sauce for the Prince.
The amount of low-cost allies did not rose that much, but 'put into play' cards did. Which means that you have more fuel for Imrahil.
Remember that Imrahil can be placed in both a condensed 'Do it All' kind of deck and a aggressive oriented deck, designed to make the players as a whole win, regardless of himself, and he fits both of those very well.
Heroes Synergies Bifur, Elrond, Nori.

__Conclusion__
Threat
(4 stars)
Handle
(4 stars)
Experience
(4,5 stars)
Synergy
(3 stars)
Support
(4 stars)
________________________
Overall (3.900)


Imrahil was unable to enter any of my decks for over the entire Mirkwood Cycle, Khazad-dum and the Dwarrowdelf cycle. But I had to use him in order to write about him, so I made a few decks with him and was took by surprise eventually.
After knowing what he is capable of, and having the Heirs of Númenór in my posession, he'll definetively be in most of my Gondor-centered decks and more agressive-oriented ones as well!
If you made the same mistake as I did, you should give him a shot, you'll not regret!






3. Khazad-dum
3.1 Work in Progress! It will take a little bit, probably.
Estimated Date: 01/02


4. Dwarrowdelf Cycle
4.1 I don't know how long it'll take, but I haven't even started yet, so do not expect it to be ready before mid January (although, anything is possible).

5. Hobbit
5.1 Same as Dwarrowdelf Cycle.

6. Heirs of Númenór
6.1 I have (ab)used this product already, but will wait a little bit to make the review so I can have more experience with it!

.: Edits :.
#1 Dec 13, 2012
- Khazad-dum was listed twice.

#2 Jan 1st 2013
- Added the Mirkwood cycle review.
- Updated the other reviews dates.

#3 Jan 11 2013
- Boromir can't make friends.
- Date changed because I moved.
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M. Freeman
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Wow…this is GREAT!... Looking forward to your other reviews!
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Wojtek Wojcik
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I very much like designing games but I also like to play games.
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Metallum is my first game that will be premiered in Essen.
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Great work. One comment so far:
cordeirooo wrote:
OO :: Being a Spirit character with only 2 Attack is not that great for combat, but attacking an enemy on the staging area at ANY TIME you attack alone with him, and as a bonus, he gets a +1 on his Attack stat! Yeah, now he has a very decent attack and he has an amazing ability that even helps you with questing!


As I read Dunhere ability you are only allowed attack with him during normal attack window not at any time as you suggest or am I misreading something here?
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Thanee
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Great work, indeed!

I do wonder, though, what the Spirit Glorfindel will have in terms of Rating, as many of these are fairly high already.

10/5?

Bye
Thanee
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Cordeiro Cordeirooo
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Wojo wrote:
Great work. One comment so far:
cordeirooo wrote:
OO :: Being a Spirit character with only 2 Attack is not that great for combat, but attacking an enemy on the staging area at ANY TIME you attack alone with him, and as a bonus, he gets a +1 on his Attack stat! Yeah, now he has a very decent attack and he has an amazing ability that even helps you with questing!


As I read Dunhere ability you are only allowed attack with him during normal attack window not at any time as you suggest or am I misread something here?


If you can produce an attack outside of the Combat phase (with cards like Quick Strike) you can still use his trait!
He is that good. laugh

Maybe the way it is worded is confusing, because the 'any time' may suggest you can attack with him anytime, but no, it continues shortly thereafter with 'you attack with him alone', so, any time you attack with him alone, he may target an enemy on the staging area!


@Thanee
hahaha
Spirit Glorfindel is certainly out of these guys leagues. The ratings are exclusively within the Cycle/Box. In the end, I'll make a huge rating (in another thread) with a 'ranking' with all of them with updated scores.


@Throxx
Thanks man!
The Mirkwood cycle has only 6 heroes (opposed to this 12 from the Core), and it is mostly done already - I only need to re-read to make sure nothing is out of place and test Imrahil one last time. :x
It won't take too long, I promise.



EDIT: I edited the OP because I had 'Hobbit' listed twice instead of 'Khazad-dum'.
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Nico Buffing
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I am awed by the obvious great amount of time you have spend to write up these analyses. On the other side I am somewhat shocked by your rating and they are quite opposite to my experiences with the game for some heroes (Aragorn and Gloin for example).
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Matt Duckworth
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Bravo... fantastic job. I am an experienced "adventurer" and I have learned a few things from your analysis and am actually considering copying your post into a word document to save for posterity for when this thread inevitably becomes buried. I am waiting with great anticipation for further analysis on other expansions.

A few points of input, just because you asked... just from my experience and playstyle.

I truly think that I have found Legolas to be the most useful hero out of any in the core set. I just think that a low threat, high attack, ranged character that puts progress tokens on the board is of immeasurable value to the tactics deck. I think I have used him in every single tactics deck or tactics deck/combo I have built, and he is an integral part of my ongoing quest to create Numenor decks. In my mind, he is the best value for the price from the core set, and only gets better with age with cards like rivendell blades and especially "hands upon the bow". Legolas is a low threat, highly utilizable, quest progressing, killing machine.

My estimation of Thalin is a little lower than yours.... outside of the core set Mirkwood cycle that is. Thalin is a character who I feel like has gone down in value with later releases for one sole reason... enemies seem to keep getting higher and higher hit point values.

His cliche use is as a crow killer and I will admit that he was great in Khazad Dum for softening up goblins, but when enemies tend to have 3 or more hitpoints (such as Numenor) his utility goes down (as his counterpart Gimli's tends to go up). I truly believe quality damange is becoming more necessary than quantity. If he isn't severely cripping enemies in the staging area, he isn't really doing much of anything... though I concede your point about his use in Battles... something to think on. However, at the end of the day he still is a dwarf, and that alone boosts his value (though strangely enough I havn't fit him in many dwarf decks). Now if they release some kind of card in AtS packs that somehow boosts his direct damage by a point, than we are talking again.

Everything else I more or less agree with. I really enjoyed the spotlight you put on grossly under-utilized (myself included) heroes like Lore Glorfindel. I think your assertion is correct that his biggest drawback is his spirit counterpart. I really think "lore"findel would have been easier to utilize with less hitpoints and less threat. Your not going to use him in a defending role regardless. I have always found his 1 resource for 1 healed damage to be a bit on the pricy side as well... especially with the advent of cards like healing herbs and Gondor healers.

Edit: One minor point to perfect your review. When you are speaking of Theodred handing you that one great basic game advantage... I assume you meant +1 resource instead of +1 willpower? Don't mean to nitpick, this post is a real great piece of work.

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Michael
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Excellent write-up! Looking forward to your continued analysis!
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Cordeiro Cordeirooo
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Infyra wrote:
I am awed by the obvious great amount of time you have spend to write up these analyses. On the other side I am somewhat shocked by your rating and they are quite opposite to my experiences with the game for some heroes (Aragorn and Gloin for example).


This was bound to happen, I guess.
And, to be honest, this is quite good, because it shows the versatility of the game. I'm finishing up the Mirkwood cycle write-up and I'm pretty sure I'll get answers like yours about one or another Hero, like Imrahil.
This keeps the discussion alive, bringing new points of view for every Hero, thus, prolonging their usefulness.


Quote:
My estimation of Thalin is a little lower than yours.... outside of the core set Mirkwood cycle that is. Thalin is a character who I feel like has gone down in value with later releases for one sole reason... enemies seem to keep getting higher and higher hit point values.

True! That is a down about Thalin, if he can't bring the opponent down in a swing, it lowers his overall value. Enemies with more than 3HP are mostly safe, but sometimes the extra point of damage is essential to bring down some more defensive enemies. A good pair with him on these cases, is Mirkwood Runner (hey! Lore again!).

Quote:
Edit: One minor point to perfect your review. When you are speaking of Theodred handing you that one great basic game advantage... I assume you meant +1 resource instead of +1 willpower? Don't mean to nitpick, this post is a real great piece of work.

I need to rephrase that. I meant it to be like you 'lose' a Hero in terms of availability for 1 Willpower (since he will always be questing to fully explore his ability) and 1 extra resource.

Quote:
Excellent write-up! Looking forward to your continued analysis!

Thanks! I'm glad you liked.
Stay tuned. In a few days the Mirkwood review will be posted.
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Martin Mlodzkoski
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First very nice write up.

Second i find Eleanor's ability very useful and think you under-rate her. You reference "it is like betting." Just like a card counter who makes the odds go in their favor, a player that uses eleanor on the "right" treachery can really swing the game in your favor.
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Cordeiro Cordeirooo
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Hello everybody!

Sorry the delay, but I'm spending the week on the girlfriend's house and only brought the notebook with me, so the review and stuff are at home.
Also, this delay probably means that I'll need to push the Khazad-dum writeup even further. The chances are that I'll only post the Mirkwood on December 26.

Still, not all is lost!
Since I got HoN (and played A LOT yesterday), right after Khazad-dum I'll make the Heirs of Númenór write-up.

Thank you all!


Grandmartoni wrote:
First very nice write up.

Second i find Eleanor's ability very useful. You reference "it is like betting." Just like a card counter who makes the odds go in their favor, a player that uses eleanor on the "right" treachery can really swing the game in your favor.


Indeed, that's betting.
In multiplayer games she grows in power, since her stats are low, having her ready during the combat phase rarely means something BUT I agree with you that when she works, she shines - sometimes, even, you can place all the credit for winning on her.
In my opinion, that alone does not place a Hero between the 'very useful' ones, and she can only bring that to the table.

In the end, that's the beauty of this analysis: Is just another player's view on Middle-Earth Heroes!

Thanks for reading!
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Cordeiro Cordeirooo
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The Mirkwood review is up!
i'm working on a Blog as well, so after Khazad-dum stuff may slow down a bit.

Hope you liked it and Happy New Year everybody!
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Ancestral Hamster
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Thank you for this useful series. Subscribed.
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C. Batalla

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Exelent review, sir.

By the way:
Quote:
while we see failures like Secrecy, new abilities and quests keep appearing to mantain the game's freshness.

I think secrecy is nice and I pretty like it. Why you consider secrecy a failure?

Thanks

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Cordeiro Cordeirooo
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Ferganth wrote:
Exelent review, sir.

By the way:
Quote:
while we see failures like Secrecy, new abilities and quests keep appearing to mantain the game's freshness.

I think secrecy is nice and I pretty like it. Why you consider secrecy a failure?

Thanks



Hi!

I also find Secrecy pretty nice as well!
The failure I mean is the fact that they seemed to halt on producing Secrecy stuff (either cards that have Secrecy or cards that works better with fewer cards in play - like Taking the Initiative).
I'm better at making decks than playing them, and I've gone pretty far with a Bifur/Theodred secrecy deck - which tells a lot about secrecy!

Thank you!
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Very nice review,

I am sad to see that some of the strategy and heroes I liked (like defensive Bilbo) is becoming obselete with enemies becoming more and more stronger. In HoN 5~8 seems average enemy attack strength and poor Bilbo just cannot take it.

But I need to disagree with Dain.
If Gloin, Thalin and Theodred is like 4.6/4.6/4.7, Dain needs to be 4.8 atleast.
My reasoning is while he is ready, he actually gives a point of Willpower and Attack to himself so his stat actually becomes 2/3/3/5 which is better than his threat. And like you mentioned in your Beravor review, readying isn't that big of deal (cram, miravor, UC, common cause, spare hood) especially if you are dwarf (record keeper, lure of moria).
But I can see why if you want to leave him at 4.5, he is totally useless outside of Dwarf deck.
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Cordeiro Cordeirooo
Brazil
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ellareth wrote:
Very nice review,

I am sad to see that some of the strategy and heroes I liked (like defensive Bilbo) is becoming obselete with enemies becoming more and more stronger. In HoN 5~8 seems average enemy attack strength and poor Bilbo just cannot take it.


Yeah, that's unfortunate. Although, I believe they will not let the power creep dictates which strategy we can use.
There certainly will be quests where speed will prevail over power, and others where the 'turtle' strategy will be the most useful. I have much faith in this Design team, more than I ever had in any other game's DT (even my Favorite Game: L5R).


Quote:
But I need to disagree with Dain.
If Gloin, Thalin and Theodred is like 4.6/4.6/4.7, Dain needs to be 4.8 atleast.
My reasoning is while he is ready, he actually gives a point of Willpower and Attack to himself so his stat actually becomes 2/3/3/5 which is better than his threat. And like you mentioned in your Beravor review, readying isn't that big of deal (cram, miravor, UC, common cause, spare hood) especially if you are dwarf (record keeper, lure of moria).
But I can see why if you want to leave him at 4.5, he is totally useless outside of Dwarf deck.


Your logic is perfect, but we do not share the same premises. Also, I can see that you have a good view over how the game works!

Back to the disagreement, haha; the overall rating is based on the previous characteristics, since his threat is so high and yet he can't use his stats (mostly - I use him as a last resort defender) or his ability would be useless, he received a good 4 stars instead of a great 5. In comparison to the other Heroes you mentioned, I'll make a brief explanation for each:


Dain vs. Gloin
Threat
vs.
Handle
vs.
Experience
vs.
Synergy
vs.
Support
vs.

You can see that their difference is minimal, and so is the difference in the overall result. Gloin has a lower threat, and not only that, but he can use all of his stats without hampering your possibility to use his Response: - while, of course it is better to use him as a defender in order to receive damage, there is a plethora of possibilities to be damaged without defending. In terms of Experience, the difference was almost neglected, but I wanted to show that Dain's only path to evolution is with cards designed to work with Dwarves, while Glóin can easily work outside of this sphere.



Dain vs. Thalin
Threat
vs.
Handle
vs.
Experience
vs.
Synergy
vs.
Support
vs.

Here the difference is a liiiittle greater than in Gloin's comparison. Thalin is a great tool for starting players. He smooths the play with auto-damage and a 'no-brainer' choice, if you know what I mean - there little reason not to quest with him.
Again, you can see where Thalin shines more than Dain: The Synergy!
It is the only stat that I gave Thalin more stars than the almighty King Dain. And it is for the same reason you stated: He is useless outside of Dwarf decks!



Dain vs. Theodred
Threat
vs.
Handle
vs.
Experience
vs.
Synergy
vs.
Support
vs.

Theodred basically fulfills a very similar role to Dain, although his uses are broader. Both exclusively fit as the supporter, but again Dain's exclusive support to Dwarves subtracts his stats a little bit. You can see above that they had very similar results, with Theo getting the upper hand on Synergy (the same as Thalin).


Also, you can see that I chose to use only 5 aspects to rate the Heroes. This isn't, by all means, a guide for which Hero is better. Maybe someday I can even try to make such a guide, if I have the time and if I have merit enough to justify it.



Stay tuned!
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Edwin Karat
United States
Massachusetts
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cordeirooo wrote:
Hello everybody!

Sorry the delay, but I'm spending the week on the girlfriend's house and only brought the notebook with me, so the review and stuff are at home.
Also, this delay probably means that I'll need to push the Khazad-dum writeup even further. The chances are that I'll only post the Mirkwood on December 26.

Still, not all is lost!
Since I got HoN (and played A LOT yesterday), right after Khazad-dum I'll make the Heirs of Númenór write-up.

Thank you all!


Grandmartoni wrote:
First very nice write up.

Second i find Eleanor's ability very useful. You reference "it is like betting." Just like a card counter who makes the odds go in their favor, a player that uses eleanor on the "right" treachery can really swing the game in your favor.


Indeed, that's betting.
In multiplayer games she grows in power, since her stats are low, having her ready during the combat phase rarely means something BUT I agree with you that when she works, she shines - sometimes, even, you can place all the credit for winning on her.
In my opinion, that alone does not place a Hero between the 'very useful' ones, and she can only bring that to the table.

In the end, that's the beauty of this analysis: Is just another player's view on Middle-Earth Heroes!

Thanks for reading!


I think a better analogy would be that Eleanor is a safety net. The wrong treachery card at the wrong time can suddenly lose you the game out of nowhere. I remember people laughing at me when I described a session where that happened, and they told me that it was my fault for not using Eleanor.

It's not as much like betting because that nasty treachery card *will* come up at some point.

As a personal preference, I would rather use Eleanor than someone who lets me peek at the next card in the encounter deck.
 
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Cordeiro Cordeirooo
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karat wrote:
I think a better analogy would be that Eleanor is a safety net. The wrong treachery card at the wrong time can suddenly lose you the game out of nowhere. I remember people laughing at me when I described a session where that happened, and they told me that it was my fault for not using Eleanor.

It's not as much like betting because that nasty treachery card *will* come up at some point.

As a personal preference, I would rather use Eleanor than someone who lets me peek at the next card in the encounter deck.


With the card pool nowadays, you hardly ever lose a game because of a Treachery card being revealed. Also, you can never be sure that this supposedly nasty hypothetical treachery *will* come up; it can come as a shadow, it can be discarded, it can be sent to the bottom of the deck (Denethor) or you could use Eleanor... or A Test of Will.

I still don't think Eleanor deserves a spot in a deck.
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Emmanuel F
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I love this analysis of heroes but I think you overlooked something : You can't save Boromir with Landroval as 'defeated' and 'discarded' are two different things.
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Cordeiro Cordeirooo
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AjiTae wrote:
I love this analysis of heroes but I think you overlooked something : You can't save Boromir with Landroval as 'defeated' and 'discarded' are two different things.


Ouch, what an overlook! My bad...
Didn't knew about that one.

Thanks mate, I'm correcting this one right now.
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Carlos José Matos
Portugal
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cordeirooo wrote:
AjiTae wrote:
I love this analysis of heroes but I think you overlooked something : You can't save Boromir with Landroval as 'defeated' and 'discarded' are two different things.


Ouch, what an overlook! My bad...
Didn't knew about that one.

Thanks mate, I'm correcting this one right now.


You can't save Boromir with Landroval if you use Boromir action to Discard Boromir to deal 2 damage to each enemy engaged with a single player.

If you lost Boromir by taking all his hit points you can use Landroval.
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