The game has many facets. Beyond just questing and combat, there are many important aspects of a successful deck. Where many of the marquee heroes will directly address fundamental aspects of the game, a support hero might be less obviously powerful, but is often just as necessary. The definition of a support hero is a bit ephemeral, but at their essence they provide an ability which supplements the main strategy of a deck. This might be an ability that fills a niche or weakness in your strategy, or it could represent a pillar of your chosen archetype, but a support hero is one that helps your other heroes and allies to overcome the challenges of a particular quest.
Readers were asked to vote on their favorite support heroes, and there are some interesting results. Few will be surprised at a strong showing of Noldor in this list, with Galadriel and Elrond holding first and second place, respectively. It would be a disservice to either of these heroes to reduce their contributions to a single archetype, but there unique abilities – and access to rings of power – allow them to anchor several interesting strategies. Galadriel in particular is an excellent example of a support hero. Without the ability to quest or participate in combat, she by definition is limited to supporting your allies, and providing card draw and threat reduction. The lady of Lórien serves as a telling admonition against judging a hero in isolation. With powerful allies like Core Set Gandalf, the action advantage granted by Galadriel can be a tremendous boon to any strategy.
The next top vote getter might be a bit of a surprise, but I agree with other voters whole-heartedly. Sam Gamgee is a less assuming hobbit in some respects, but for 8 starting threat a hero with 3 willpower is not to be overlooked. A built in readying ability that can be triggered fairly consistently in the early game is also welcome for decks that might need a few rounds to setup. Lastly, access to Leadership at the low cost of 8 threat is an underrated benefit of everyone’s favorite gardener. It is possible to find resource acceleration, or more often cost-reduction of some kind, in other spheres; these effects are often narrow or come with additional costs. As much as the metagame is broadening with alternatives for many strategies, Steward of Gondor remains the most effective form of resource acceleration, and Sam Gamgee gives you access to this essential card.
The top seven vote-getters are rounded out by a trait-staple and two absolute gems for multi-player games. Dain Ironfoot is the first and most obvious choice as a support hero for any Dwarf deck. Even without readying, or taking actions of any kind – he can still lead an army of Dwarves to victory against most scenarios. The fact of the matter is that global passive effects are powerful, being able to impact every character in play with a particular (and fairly common) trait makes it much easier to construct an effective deck. Of the next three heroes in the results, none are nearly as powerful as the King Under the Mountain, but they all are excellent at what they do, and are a welcome sight in multiplayer games. Beravor gives you access to one of the most important spheres for the Dúnedain archetype, as well as having great synergy with cards like Protector of Lórien and to a lesser extent A Burning Brand. Most importantly, Beravor provides a powerful form repeatable card draw. This can be especially beneficial in multi-player games where many Tactics and Leadership-heavy decks lack access to such an effect.
Eleanor is a hero that some players might not consider, especially those who prefer solo play. Anyone who has played their share of multi-player games will immediately recognize and appreciate the value of repeatable treachery cancelation. The fact that the cancelled card is replaced is not nearly as bad as it at first seems because there will often be one or two treacheries which are game-ending in multi-player. Having insurance against these kinds of effects on a critical turn is precisely why Eleanor is so valuable in a game where 6 or more cards can be revealed during a single staging step.
Last but not least we have Théodred. Another hero of seemingly lesser prestige, the son of Théoden is nonetheless vital to many strategies. No matter how bad your opening hand is after a mulligan, if you have Théodred among your starting heroes you are guaranteed at least some form of resource acceleration. This is all the more valuable in the first few rounds, when getting that extra ally into play can be the difference-maker. Théodred is even better in multi-player games, where he can benefit other players with a critical resource needed for cancelation, or other quest-phase trickery, at just the right time. If you are going to adopt such a strategy, just remember that it is better to start the game as the last player, to maximize your options for where his extra resource is given.
There are many other worthy heroes featured here. Anyone looking to improve a struggling deck, or even just shake up a stale one, would do well to take heed of the names listed below. Support heroes might not always be the most obviously powerful, but they can often be just as critical to a deck’s success than their more heralded counterparts. You can, in fact, construct a deck consisting entirely of support heroes. As an exercise, I have built one just now, using the top three support heroes as voted by the readers. Thanks for participating , and be sure the check out the latest active poll on the side panel at right.
With a little help from my friends
Elrond (Shadow and Flame)
Galadriel (Celebrimbor’s Secret)
Sam Gamgee (The Black Riders)
Bill the Pony x1 (The Black Riders)
Arwen Undomiel x1 (The Watcher in the Water)
Imladris Stargazer x2 (Foundations of Stone)
Galadriel’s Handmaiden x2 (Celebrimbor’s Secret)
Zigil Miner x2 (Khazad–dûm)
Galadhrim Healer x2 (The Dread Realm)
Master of the Forge x1 (Shadow and Flame)
Lindir x1 (The Battle of Carn Dûm)
Harbor Master x1 (The Drúadan Forest)
Erestor x1 (The Long Dark)
Galdor from the Havens x1 (The Treachery of Rhudaur)
Haldir of Lórien x1 (A Journey to Rhosgobel)
Gildor Inglorion x1 (The Hills of Emyn Muil)
Gandalf x3 (Core Set)
Light of Valinor x2 (Foundations of Stone)
Mirror of Galadriel x2 (Celebrimbor’s Secret)
Nenya x3 (Celebrimbor’s Secret)
Unexpected Courage x1 (Core Set)
Silver Harp x2 (The Treachery of Rhudaur)
A Burning Brand x2 (The Watcher in the Water)
Vilya x3 (Shadow and Flame)
Elrond’s Counsel x3 (The Watcher in the Water)
Daeron’s Runes x3 (Foundations of Stone)
Sneak Attack x2 (Core Set)
Elven Light x3 (The Dread Realm)
A Test of Will x2 (Core Set)
Side Quests: 2
Gather Information x1 (The Lost Realm)
Double Back x1 (Escape from Mount Gram)
|Bilbo Baggins (THfG)||7||1.52%|
|Boromir Needs No Support||1||0.22%|