It seems like Tulkas was still wrestling with Melkor the last time we posted poll results. It is high time we discovered which heroes are most preferred by players for defense. As the game evolves and enemies grow larger and more fearsome, having a dedicated defender is essential for most decks. Some archetypes, like the Silvan deck built around Celeborn, can get away with mostly using allies for defenders. Still, scenarios will often punish this strategy, and it is often more safe over the course of a game to have a single strong defender.
The results are in, and it should come as little surprise that Beregond is by far the most popular hero to use a defender. With 4 defense, the Sentinel keyword, and a discount card when it comes time to shop for armor, the captain of the Citadel is the obvious choice. His Gondor trait is valuable as well, as we see with some of the other heroes receiving votes.
Gondorian Shield is the biggest reason for the defensive value inherent in the Gondor trait. Other less-heralded cards like Gondorian Discipline and For Gondor also contribute to that faction’s formidable reputation. The only thing missing is some readying – either repeatable like Unexpected Courage, or one-time from events like Behind Strong Walls – and Beregond can safely defend against most enemies in the game. Shadow cancellation can also be a concern, particular in scenarios with chaining shadow effects, and that is where the next two heroes come in.
Rounding out the top three vote-getters we have Denethor and Erkenbrand. While Erkenbrand’s built-in shadow cancelation makes him another obvious candidate for a dedicated defender, Denethor is a less likely choice at first glance. The key to the Steward of Gondor’s prowess as a defender of his people is more than just his ability to wield a Gondorian Shield (no doubt a mean feat in itself at his advanced age). The fact that he has the Lore sphere makes him a natural choice for A Burning Brand. It doesn’t take a palantir to know that a hero with 5 defense that cancels all shadow effects on attacking enemies is powerful indeed.
Other notable heroes can be found as you scan down the list of votes: Elrohir, Frodo Baggins, Boromir, Dain Ironfoot, Elrond and Gandalf all received votes. Obviously there are many factors at play in deciding which hero to use as your primary defender: the spheres that your deck includes, whether or not your deck is primarily focused on questing, combat or support, and which traits or strategies you are trying to explore.
All of these considerations are what make deck-building for this game so interesting. For me it is often more fun to take a less-obvious choice and transform them into an epic defender. In my solo saga deck, Sam Gamgee gets loaded with a Hobbit Cloak, Staff of Lebethron and Sting, and ends up laughing off most attacks. This just goes to prove that you never have to take any card at face value – the card pool gives you plenty of options for brining out the hidden qualities in a hero.
Inspired by your votes, I am planning on building a deck with Beregond, Denethor and Erkenbrand and attempting to survive the Siege of Cair Andros. That is one of my all-time favorite quests, and these heroes should be well-suited to the task of holding off the onslaught of the enemy. Keep an eye out soon for a video (with deck list) of this bit of community-driven deck building.
Thanks to everyone who voted, and be sure to vote in the latest poll which is online now. Lastly, I want to give special acknowledgement to the brazen individual with the write-in vote for Spirit Pippin. Whoever you are, you are my winner of Troll of the Week!
|Frodo Baggins (CatC)||28||7.11%|
|Dain Ironfoot (RtM)||17||4.31%|
|Bilbo Baggins (THfG)||6||1.52%|
|Sam Gamgee (TBR)||6||1.52%|
|Prince Imrahil (AJtR)||2||0.51%|