Between the core set, two deluxe expansions, a saga expansion, and two chapter pack cycles, Lord of the Rings LCG has quite a large card pool at this point. Much of the time, players will be examining cards with an eye for strategy and theme. Cards that provide powerful synergies with existing cards, or fit the style of a given deck, are the first to be included. This leaves some often overlooked cards that can be quite fun to play in the right deck. If you’ll recall from my Renewed Friendships decks, some cards can be a lot of fun when used as part of a cooperative strategy. In this list, we will cover 5 cards that are fun to play, and can even be powerful in the right deck.
Just as in the trilogy, in Lord of the Rings LCG, the Brown Wizard is often overlooked for his more renowned, and powerful, grey brother. That said, Radagast has a very unique and quite useful distinction in that he is the only ally in the game that generates resources. In a deck with eagle allies, If you get Radagast the Brown into play quickly, he can pay for himself in a matter of rounds. Giving non-Lore decks access to healing, as long as the target is a creature, is another underrated aspect of this wizard. If you do however, happen to include the Lore sphere in your deck, Radagast is the only ally besides Gandalf that can help trigger a Word of Command. His cost may seem high, and his abilities narrow, but the best thing about Radagast is how perfectly he fits into the game thematically. And remember, since this is just a card game, when you play Radagast, you don’t even have to clean the bird poop off of his face!
Leadership has been getting more and better card draw of late. But when it was released, Campfire Tales was actually one of the best forms of card draw available to the Leadership sphere. Paying 1 resource for 1 card might not seem like much, but anyone who has seen the power of this card in a 4 player game knows that it definitely has its uses. Because of how easy it is to generate resources with Leadership, the cost of this card is negligible, so it can serve as a deck shrinker, even if you are running a deck solo.
The concept of deck-shrinking is subtle but important. You want to get to your best cards as quickly as possible, particularly in scenarios that don’t give you a lot of time before they overwhelm you. By including a seemingly pointless card like Campfire Tales in your solo deck, you effectively make your deck smaller. Between Steward of Gondor, Gloin, Theodred and We Are Not Idle, most Leadership decks are not going to have a problem generating resources. But what if you really need to draw your Lure of Moria, or Grim Resolve, to create one huge round? This is where including Campfire Tales can actually be a very good decision. It might not seem useful compared to other cards, but it always replaces itself, which will allow your deck to play more consistently. Regardless of whether you play it for its power in a multiplayer game, or as deck-thinner in solo play, this card is as fun as making s’mores and telling a ghost story around a crackling warm fire.
Song of Mocking
As early as the core set, the game has included heroes which benefit from being damaged. Glóin generates a resources for each damage he receives. His son, Gimli, gains an attack bonus for each damage he has on him. These abilities are very useful, but it can sometimes be a hassle to get damage on these characters. You may need to use Gimli’s 2 willpower to help with questing. Likewise, Glóin’s 2 attack might be sorely needed to finish off any enemy. Planning on taking damage from unopposed attacks makes sense, but brings its own problems.
With bigger enemies, you often won’t be able to take the full damage from an undefended attack and have your dwarf survive the outcome. Similarly, untimely shadow effects can turn a seemingly benign attack into a death sentence, particularly because many shadow effects have increased effect when the attack is undefended. An easy solution is Song of Mocking. By playing the song on Glóin or Gimli, you can wait to see how another attack plays out, to ensure that they take the perfect amount of damage. Because there is a window for player actions, after a shadow card is revealed and before damage is dealt, you can use this card in a way where you will always know the outcome. In a worst case scenario, you could even use this to sacrifice the attached hero to save another, even more important hero. Losing Glóin might be bad for your chances, but losing Aragorn with The Sword the Was Broken attached to him could be fatal to your chances. Most important of all though, is that when you activate this card’s ability, you get to stick out your tongue and say, “neener neener, boo boo!” – enemies hate when you do that.
Rider of the Mark
There are only a few ways to cancel shadow effects in the game. Most of them, like Hasty Stroke, A Burning Brand, and Dawn Take You All, serve one and only one purpose. If you have a Hasty Stroke in your hand, but the staging area is filled with locations, that is a dead card. At a cost of 3 resources, Rider of the Mark might seem expensive, but his versatility makes him an invaluable in any multiplayer game. Not only can the rider contribute 2 willpower to the quest, but being from Rohan, he can take advantage of cards like Astonishing Speed and We Do Not Sleep. His response effect is where the rider really shines. For the cost of 1 resource, you not only give control of the Rider of the Mark to another player, who can then use him to defend or counter-attack, but they get to discard 1 shadow card dealt to an attacking enemy, before it ever resolves.
In many cases, this is functionally equivalent to canceling the effect using a card like Hasty Stroke. The fact that they get a useful character out of the bargain is what makes this card so good. Spirit is a sphere that is splashed into many decks for cheap but powerful cards like A Test of Will, Light of Valinor, and Elrond’s Counsel, which often means that you will find multiple players in the game have access to Spirit resources. In these situations, the rider is even better. You can send him back and forth between players, canceling shadow effects as he travels hither and yon across Middle-Earth. If you happen to find two coconut halves handy, they are perfect for simulating the sound of a galloping horse.
Love of Tales
The Shadows of Mirkwood cycle made it much easier to build effective 2 and 3 sphere decks. By singing songs of Battle, Kings, Travel and Wisdom, your heroes gain access to multiple spheres. This can greatly mitigate the risk of the resource starvation that can happen in rainbow decks. Other song cards have been introduced with various, often powerful effects. Song of Song of Eärendil not only replaces itself by allowing you to draw a card, but it can be used with Wandering Took as an advanced form of threat management. Durin’s Song has been covered in another card list article, and remains the single most versatile enhancement event for dwarves. Lastly we have Song of Mocking, which is discussed above, in this very article. All of these songs can be essential tools in the right deck, but with Love of Tales they become even better.
As a sphere, Lore has many different strengths, but resource generation is not one of them. Even with the release of new cost-reduction cards like Master of Lore, the fact remains, Love of Tales is the only Lore card which actually generates resources. Doing so while itself costing nothing, makes it that much easier to play. The fact that songs all cost 1 resource, might make this card’s ability seem pointless, but the value of this card is more subtle. Even if you are not playing in a multiplayer game where everyone is using songs, Love of Tales can still be quite useful. Using this card, you can essentially make any Lore hero act like Bifur, when songs are being played. By spending the resource for a Song from another hero, then triggering Love of Tales on your Lore hero, you have effectively “moved” the resource from one hero to another, and you got a free song in the bargain. Just be careful, when you play this song, you may find yourself singing silly songs about castles, and minstrels, and shrubbery.
So remember, the next time that you are tempted to dismiss a card as useless, it might simply be a fun card in disguise, looking for an opportunity to shine. It’s good to keep an open mind when it comes to deck building, you just might be pleasantly surprised at what you find.