Bear Draft: Playing v4 at Con of the Rings 2018

Con of the Rings 2018

The online world can be alienating. We interact with others through text and emojis – the lingua franca of the 21st century internet. Perhaps the occasional photo gives us some context but we are largely disconnecting from those with whom we share so much of our free time. This distance is compounded by the fact that we span the globe’s far-flung geography, speak a multitude of languages and regional dialects, and filter our life experiences through distinct cultural lenses. As social as human beings are, it’s a wonder we are able to form strong communities without a physical connection.

I had the pleasure of attending Con of the Rings this last weekend, and it was a wonderful experience. Unfortunately, the Con came less than a week removed from our a lengthy trip to Central Europe, so I was jet lagged and exhausted. It was a joy to meet so many nice members of the community, but please accept my apologies if I seemed burdened by a condition attachment or two. Next year I will be able plan around the Con and be a more energetic bear. I do want to thank everyone, especially the Minnesota natives, for their generosity and hospitality. Everyone in attendance served as exemplars for what makes this community such a joy.

With members who live in four different time zones, it becomes a logistical challenge to assemble the Grey Company in the same place at the same time. For that matter, even coordinating a time when we all can record an episode of the podcast can be a struggle. The Con of the Rings presented the perfect opportunity, and a reasonable geographic compromise, for the Grey Company to assemble. Unfortunately, Ian was not able to make it, so we carried around a life-sized Gríma doll and talked to it like he was there with us. This led to some awkward and confusing moments at karaoke, but Minneapolitans were surprisingly understanding.

Aside from terrifying the natives, another highlight of the Con was running the latest version of my Bear Draft. As the card pool expands, and my experience with limited formats of Lord of the Rings improves, I’ve continued to make changes to the card list and the rules surrounding the draft. What follows is an overview of those changes and a description of how the draft is run. I want to send a special thanks to everyone who participated in this incarnation of the Bear Draft – I hope you all had as much fun playing it as I had in running it!

The draft pool consists of 512 player cards and 72 hero cards

Assuming 8 players in the draft, there will be a one round of drafting hero cards followed by 4 rounds of drafting player cards. Once all of the cards have been drafted, players will have the option of adding one set of signature cards to their deck, based on one of the heroes in their deck. For more information about signature cards, refer to my Signature Squads article for v3 of the Bear Draft.

For the hero draft, each player will receive a randomized 9-card hero pack (consisting of the heroes listed below). After the one round of drafting their hero cards, each player will have 9 heroes. They do not need to choose which of those heroes will ultimately be in their deck, these extras are to provide them with options if they are unable to draft player cards which match a certain strategy. For example, if I draft Dain Ironfoot but am unable to draft many Dwarf allies, I can change my strategy and build a deck around one of my 8 other hero cards.

  • 1 hero draft round with a 9 card pack
  • 4 player card draft rounds with 16 card packs
  • 64 player cards per player
  • 9 hero cards per player
  • 160 common player cards – 3 copies of each in the pool and 5 per draft pack
  • 256 uncommon player cards – 2 copies of each in the pool and 8 per draft pack
  • 96 rare player cards – 1 copy of each in the pool and 3 per draft pack

For player cards each sphere has 120 cards, as follows:

  • 36 common: 18 allies, 9 attachments, 9 events
  • 64 uncommon: 32 allies, 14 attachments, 14 events, 4 side quests
  • 20 rare: 10 allies, 5 attachments, 5 events

There are 32 neutral player cards, as follows:

  • 16 common: 8 allies, 3 attachments, 5 events
  • 0 uncommon
  • 16 rare: 6 allies, 5 attachments, 3 events, 2 side quests

At the completion of the draft, each player receives (at their option):

  • 1 copy of Core Gandalf
  • 1 signature squad from the list below (they must have drafted the corresponding hero)

Each team of two or more players receives (at their option):

  • 1 copy of Gather Information (added to one player’s deck)
  • 1 copy of Justice Shall be Done (only for the brave)

As the card pool is becoming unwieldy as it is, I decided to remove resource smoothing Song cards from the card pool (Song of Battle, Song of Kings, Song of Travel, Song of Wisdom). Instead, I added the following house rule. On your first turn, each player may optionally play one card from their hand face-down attached to one of their heroes for the cost of 1 resource. They choose a sphere, and that face down card acts as an attachment which grants that sphere to the attached hero. This was an elegant solution which allowed me to avoid cluttering the draft pool with a bunch of Song cards which inevitably get drafted last and excluded from many decks.

Heroes with Signature Squads


Denethor: Faramir, Ingold, Rod of the Steward, In Service of the Steward, Visionary Leadership, Wealth of Gondor

Hirluin the Fair: Forlong x2, Lord of Morthond, Sword of Morthond, Men of the West x2

Sam Gamgee: Bill the Pony, Rosie Cotton, Hobbit Cloak, Friend of Friends x2, Taste it Again!

Théodred: Snowbourn Scout x2, Ceorl, Eothain, Heir of Mardil, Gaining Strength

Balin: Dwarven Pipe, Dwarven Shield, Narvi’s Belt, Lure of Moria x2, We Are Not Idle

Gildor Inglorion: Rivendell Scout x2, Gildor’s Counsel x2, Timely Aid x2

Amarthiúl, Weather Hills Watchman, Eldahir, Heir of Valandil, Descendants of Kings x2, Tireless Hunters

Elrohir: Dunedain Watcher, Elladan, Halbarad, Elven Mail x2, Revealed in Wrath

Erkenbrand: Warden of Helm’s Deep, Elfhelm (Tactics), Hauberk of Mail, Armored Destrier, Day’s Rising x2

Brand son of Bain: Guardian of Esgaroth, Redwater Sentry, Hauberk of Mail, Squire’s Helm, Knight of Dale, Traffic from Dale

Elfhelm: Steed of Mark x2, Steed of the North, Rohan Warhorse, Burst Into Song x2

Khaliel: Yazan, Jubayr, Firyal, Kahliel’s Tribesman, Southron Refugee, Kahliel’s Headdress

Boromir: Faramir, Knight of the White Tower, Sword of Numenor, Horn of Gondor, Visionary Leadership, Wealth of Gondor

Celeborn: Naith Guide, Orophin, O Lorien!, Feigned Voices, Swift and Silent x2

Dáin Ironfoot: Ered Luin Miner, Hardy Leadership, King Under the Mountain, Durin’s Song x2, We Are Not Idle

Prince Imrahil: Pelargir Ship Captain, Squire of the Citadel x2, Prince of Dol Amroth x2, Valiant Sacrifice

Aragorn: Arwen, Halbarad, Celebrían’s Stone, Roheryn, Sword that was Broken, Heir of Valandil

Thorin Oakenshield: Glóin, Fili, Kili, Arkenstone, King Under the Mountain, To me O my Kinsfolk


Merry: Farmer Maggot x2, Dagger of Westernesse, Halfling Determination x2, Unseen Strike

Legolas: Galadhon Archer, Arod, Blade of Gondolin, Rivendell Blade, Rivendell Bow, Hands Upon the Bow

Hirgon: Gondorian Spearman, Knight of Minas Tirith, Grimbold, Descendant of Thorondor, Defender of Cair Andros, Red Arrow

Éowyn: Riddermark Knight, Westfold Outrider, Windfola, Golden Shield, Battle-fury, Unseen Strike

Beregond: Gondorian Spearman, Defender of Rammas, Gondorian Shield, Spear of the Citadel, Behind Strong Walls, Gondorian Discipline

Brand Son of Bain: Warrior of Dale, Rohan Warhorse, Bow of Yew, Hour of Wrath, Black Arrow, Mighty Prowess

Elladan: Elrohir, Elven Mail, Rivendell Blade x2, Rivendell Bow, Revealed in Wrath

Éomer: Westfold Outrider, Firefoot, Rohan Warhorse, Guthwinë x2, Oath of Eorl

Mablung: Dunedain Hunter x2, Secret Vigil, Followed, Tireless Hunters, Wait No Longer

Thorin Stonehelm: Azain Silverbeard, Dwarrowdelf Axe x2, Mighty Prowess x2, Heavy Stroke

Bard the Bowman: Great Yew Bow x2, Black Arrow, Horn’s Cry, Straight Shot, Valour of the North

Boromir: Defender of Cair Andros, Captain of Gondor, Gondorian Shield, Horn of Gondor, Blade Mastery, Fierce Defense

Gimli: Veteran Axehand, Dwarrowdelf Axe, Ring Mail, Vigilant Guard, Khazad! Khazad! x2

Grimbeorn the Old: Beorning Skin-changer x2, Beorn x2, Beorn’s Rage x2

Prince Imrahil: Knight of Dol Amroth, Knight of Minas Tirith, Boromir, Gondorian Spearman x2, Captain of Gondor

Aragorn: Fornost Bowman, Steed of the North, Celebrian’s Stone, Sword of Numenor, Sword that was Broken, Roheryn

Beorn: Honour Guard, Dori, Vigilant Guard, Horn’s Cry, Beorn’s Rage, Keep Watch

Théoden: Westfold Outrider, Guthlaf, Elfhelm (Tactics), Snowmane, Herugrim, Stand Your Ground


Glorfindel: Light of Valinor, Asfaloth, Elf-stone, Song of Earendil, A Elbereth Gilthoniel x2

Merry: Hobbit Pony x2, Hobbit Pipe x2, Smoke Rings x2

Eleanor: Minas Tirith Lampwright x2, Damrod, Watchful Peace x2, Light the Beacons

Frodo Baggins: Sam Gamgee x2, Free to Choose x2, Courage Awakened x2

Caldara: Emery x2, Prince Imrahil, Pelargir Shipwright, Map of Earnil x2

Dúnhere: Escort of Edoras, Rider of the Mark, Spear of the Mark x2, A Light in the Dark x2

Arwen Undómiel: Glorfindel, Elven-light, To the Sea, To the Sea!; Elwing’s Flight x2, Tale of Tinuviel

Bard son of Brand: North Realm Lookout, Long Lake Trader, Necklace of Girion, Gray Cloak, To Arms! x2

Éowyn: West Road Traveller, Riddermark’s Finest, Elven-light, Windfola, Ride them Down, Astonishing Speed

Fastred: Rider of Rohan, Rider of the Mark, Arwen Undómiel, Háma, Tides of Fate, Double Back

Galadriel: Galadriel’s Handmaiden, Nenya x2, Song of Eärendil, Heirs of Earendil, Galadhrim’s Greeting

Lanwyn: Minas Tirith Lampwright, Celduin Traveler x2, Rhovanion Outrider, Scouting Party, Well Warned

Legolas: Woodland Courier x2, Mirkwood Long Knife, Fair and Perilous, Island Amid Perils x2

Nori: Blue Mountain Trader x2, Bofur (Spirit), Ever My Heart Rise, Untroubled by Darkness x2

Beregond: Blood of Numénor, Livery of the Tower x2, Desperate Defense, Renewed Friendship x2

Idraen: Greyflood Wanderer x2, Warden of Annuminas, Northern Tracker, Warden of Arnor, Star Brooch

Círdan the Shipwright: Sailor of Lune, Narya x2, Light of Valinor, Inspiring Presence, Lords of the Eldar

Théoden:Gamling x2, Háma, Herugrim x2, Snowmane


Pippin: Robin Smallburrow, Barliman, Gildor Inglorion, Fast Hitch, Take No Notice, In the Shadows

Bifur: Ered Nimrais Prospector x2, Longbeard Map Maker, Bombur, Expert Treasure Hunter, Legacy of Durin

Folco Boffin: Halfling Bounder, Strider, The Road Goes Ever On, Vanish from sight, Peace and Thought, Scout Ahead

Denethor: Master of Lore, Ioreth, Dark Knowledge, Deep Knowledge, Warden of Healing, Palantir

Mirlonde: Daughter of Nimrodel, Silvan Tracker, Cloak of Lorien, Mithrandir’s Advice, Scroll of Isildur x2

Ori: Erebor Record-keeper, Miner of the Iron Hills, Dori, Legacy of Durin, Ancestral Knowledge x2

Rossiel: The Door is Closed, Out of the Wild, None Return x2, Leave No Trace, Keen as Lances

Thurindir: Halfling Bounder, Legacy Blade x2, Scout Ahead, Gather Information, The Storm Comes

Bilbo Baggins: Rivendell Minstrel; A Burning Brand; Fast Hitch; Peace, and Thought x2; Expert Treasure-hunter

Damrod: Anborn, Mablung, Followed x2, Ithilien Pit, Poisoned Stakes

Galdor of the Havens: Lindon Navigator x2, Gather Information, Evening Star x3

Haldir of Lórien: Lembas, Noiseless Movement x2, Bow of the Galadhrim x2, Distant Stars

Beravor: Sarn Ford Sentry, Healing Herbs, Athelas, Ranger of Cardolan, Weather-stained Cloak, Quick Ears

Erestor: Galdor of the Havens, Protector of Lórien, Lords of the Eldar; To the Sea, To the Sea!; Will of the West x2

Faramir: Ithilien Guardian, Ithilien Tracker, Ranger Bow x2, Arrows from the Trees, Ithilien Archer

Aragorn: Athelas, A Burning Brand, Wingfoot, Celebrían’s Stone, Ioreth, Sword that was Broken

Elrond: Imladris Caregiver, Glorfindel, Vilya x2, Lore of Imladris, Elrond’s Counsel

Treebeard: Quickbeam, Leaflock, Ent Draught x2, Ent Moot x2

Player Cards


Common (16)

Defender of the Naith x2        Envoy of Pelargir x2                   Southron Refugee x2
Ered Luin Miner x2                 Hidden Cache x2                         Resourceful x3
A Good Harvest x3

Rare (16)

Strider                                         Sword-thain                               Keen as Lances
Ranger of Cardolan x2            Favor of the Valar                      Treebeard x2
Gandalf (Hobbit) x2                Magic Ring x2                             Open the Armory x2
The Storm Comes x2



Errand Rider                             Naith Guide                              Andrath Guardsman
Warrior of Lossarnach            Longbeard Elder                     Warden of Helm’s Deep

Cram                                           Dunedain Warning                 Steward of Gondor

A Very Good Tale                      Gaining Strength                    Sneak Attack


Dwarven Sellsword                  Snowbourn Scout                     Squire of the Citadel
Pelargir Ship Captain              Greenwood Archer                   Herald of Anorien
Warden of the Havens            Weather Hills Watchman       Guardian of Arnor
Guardian of Esgaroth              Kahliel’s Tribesman                 Veteran of Osgiliath
Knight of Dale                           Knight of the White Tower     Longbeard Orc-slayer
Redwater Sentry

Dunedain Mark                         Dunedain Remedy                   Dunedain Signal
Hauberk of Mail                        Mariner’s Compass                  Dunedain Cache
Armored Destrier

Captain’s Wisdom                     Feigned Voices                          Legacy of Numenor          Tighten Our Belts                     Campfire Tales                          Valiant Sacrifice
For Gondor!

Side Quests
Prepare for Battle                      Send for Aid


Bill the Pony                              Forlong                                          Gloin
Erestor                                        Gimli                                              Ceorl
Rosie Cotton                              Galadriel                                       Orophin

Heir of Mardil                          Heir of Valandil                           Visionary Leadership
O Lorien!                                   King Under the Mountain

Hunting Party                          Lure of Moria                              Dawn Take You All
Timely Aid                                Grim Resolve



Dúnedain Hunter                  Knights of the Swan                     Vassal of the Windlord Defender of Rammas            Derndingle Warrior                     Marksman of Lórien

Dagger of Westernesse        Gondorian Shield                           Dwarven Axe
Raiment of War

Feint                                         Quick Strike


Gondorian Spearman           Winged Guardian                          Riddermark Knight
Galadhon Archer                   Booming Ent                                  Honour Guard
Westfold Outrider                 Veteran Axehand                           Mithlond Sea-watcher
Erebor Battle Master            Warrior of Dale                              Fornost Bowman
Grimbold                                 Legolas                                            Vigilant Dúnedan
Eagles of the Misty M.

Bow of Yew                             Rivendell Blade                              Rohan Warhorse
Bow of the Galadhrim          Secret Vigil                                      Blade of Gondolin
Spear of the Citadel              Citadel Plate

Foe-hammer                           Proud Hunters                               Sterner than Steel
Straight Shot                          Behind Strong Walls                     Hands Upon the Bow
Hold Your Ground                Wait No Longer


Azain Silverbeard                  Bofur                                                 Skinbark
Boromir                                   Rumil                                                Deorwine
Elfhelm                                    Yazan                                                Landroval

Gondorian Fire                      Captain of Gondor                          Golden Shield
                                   Support of the Eagles

Battle-fury                              The Hammer-stroke                       Horn’s Cry
Oath of Eorl                           Thicket of Spears



Dúnedain Pathfinder           Westfold Horse-breeder                Ethir Swordsman
Galadriel’s Handmaiden     Elven Jeweler                                   Zigil Miner

Spare Hood and Cloak         Ancient Mathom                            Miruvor

A Test of Will                         Hasty Stroke                                    The Galadhrim’s Greeting


Galadhrim Weaver              Arwen Undómiel                              Eregion Survivor
Escort from Edoras             Imladris Stargazer                            North Realm Lookout
West Road Traveller           Sailor of Lune                                    Bofur
Long Lake Fisher                Rider of Rohan                                  Pelargir Shipwright
Rhovanion Outrider           Erebor Guard                                     Northern Tracker

Light of Valinor                   Snowmane                                          Steed of Imladris
Thror’s Key                           Mirkwood Long-knife                      Silver Harp
Unexpected Courage

Elrond’s Counsel                 Tides of Fate                                       Well-warned
Desperate Defense              Dwarven Tomb                                  Elven-light
Heirs of Eärendil

Side Quests
Double Back                         Rally the West


Dwalin                                   Bilbo Baggins                                      Éomund
Háma                                     Kili                                                         Lindir
Elfhelm                                  Prince Imrahil                                    Sulién

Blood of Numénor              Fireside Song                                      To the Sea, to the Sea
Windfola                               King of Dale

Desperate Alliance              Scouting Party                                    Untroubled by Darkness
Lords of the Eldar               Shadows Give Way



Anfalas Herdsman              Erebor Hammersmith                      Galadhrim Minstrel
Master of the Forge             Wandering Ent                                  Warden of Healing

Entangling Nets                   Protected of Lórien                           Self Preservation

Daeron’s Runes                   Deep Knowledge                                Heed the Dream



Ioreth                                     Erebor Record-keeper                      Guardian of Ithilien Henamarth Riversong        Emyn Arnen Ranger                         Gléowine
Imladris Caregiver              Long Lake Trader                              Miner of the Iron Hills
Quickbeam                           Daughter of the Nimrodel                Ithilien Archer
Sarn Ford Sentry                 Silvan Tracker                                    Wellinghall Preserver

Elf-stone                               Lembas                                                 Map of Rhovanion
Ranger Spear                       Long Defeat                                         A Burning Brand
Ranger Spikes                     Forest Snare

The Tree People                  Coney in a Trap                                  Distant Stars
Mithrandir’s Advice           Secret Paths                                        Lore of Imladris
The Hidden Way

Side Quests
Scout Ahead


Ghan-buri-Ghan                 Mablung                                             Robin Smallburrow
Bifur                                      Dori                                                     Elrond
Leaflock                                Anborn                                               Haldir of Lórien
Gildor Inglorion

Thror’s Map                         Legacy of Durin                                Fast Hitch
Asfaloth                                Wingfoot

Infighting                             Gildor’s Counsel                               Out of the Wild
Waters of Nimrodel           Interrogation


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1 Response to Bear Draft: Playing v4 at Con of the Rings 2018

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