Alternate Art: The One Deck

It’s been about 8 months since Seastan posted The One Deck on RingsDB. Elrond (with Vilya) decks have been among the game’s most powerful ever since Shadow and Flame was released. Still, this deck is taking the archetype to a whole new level. Using the power of Elrond’s ring, this deck fields an army of powerful but expensive allies, at a speed which few other decks can math. Paired with card draw effects which help fetch Vilya as quickly as possible, this deck has beaten every quest in the game.

As a solo deck, the unique Harad allies feature prominently here. In addition, the new ally version of Glorfindel is a perfect fit with Noldor heroes like Arwen and events like Elven-light. As potent neutral allies, Core Set Gandalf and Treebeard are a natural fit for most decks, here they are that much easier to get into play. Elfhelm is an important addition for quests which multiple threat-raising effects, and ally Beorn is the perfect choice for quests which require defeating a powerful boss enemy.

The One Deck wants to be able to pay Vilya blind, in case we don’t draw Imladris Stargazer in the opening hand. With that in mind, the attachments here are limited. While not technically an attachment, Gather Information is here to help the deck find whichever card is most essential to defeat a quest. This deck is excellent at questing, so completing a side quest is not a problem.

The events here should come as a little surprise. Card draw, in the form of Heed the Dream and Elven light, allows you to find Vilya as soon as possible. With the number of game-ending treacheries, A Test of Will is an essential inclusion for any powerful deck.

I hope that you enjoy these alternate art cards. Contact the Hall if you are interested in printable versions of these cards.

Posted in Aggro, Alternate-Art, Community, Deck Lists | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

A Few, Key, Words

Over the years, I’ve had the opportunity to teach The Lord of the Rings LCG to a fair number of players. In the spectrum of design complexity, this game sits firmly on the opposite end from “beer and pretzels” or casual games. This is a good thing. Cooperative games with limited depth or little difficulty quickly become boring.

The depth and constantly evolving challenges presented by this game are major contributors to its longevity. Having designers who truly appreciate the theme of the source material is the critical factor in the games sustained excellence.  If the game had been too simplistic or trivial, it never would have survived through seven deluxe expansions and two saga campaigns, not to mention nightmare quests, Gen Con PODs and dynamic encounter decks!

All that is well and good, but this game has a steep learning curve. I am reminded of this every time I try to teach it to players who are familiar with more mainstream board games, but are neophytes when it comes to card games or deeper strategy games. Play style is personal and subjective. Some people are natural puzzle solvers, and enjoy the strategy (and math) that goes into optimal play. Others prefer their games to be light and fun, and dislike games that “bog down” with heavy mechanics. While it would be simple if every gamer was one of these two extremes, there are a great many people with a play style in the nebulous middle.

This is why execution is critical. A well designed game can still be approachable, even though it includes deeper strategy and aspects of heavier mechanics. While there are many aspects of The Lords of the Rings design which are excellent, it has some rough edges which can can catch new players and give them a negative play experience. An example of one of these rough edges is cards with a “wall of text”. When an effect is so complex that it requires a paragraph to explain, drawing that card becomes a moment of anxiety for new players.

A common class of this wall of text problem is encounter cards with the “search the encounter deck and discard pile” template. While it may seem helpful to have the exact effect of these cards spelled out, most of words in the template are just noise. When you are hunting through extraneous and repetitive words for the few pieces that matter reading is slowed and cognitive load is increased. This is particularly an issue with new players, who aren’t as familiar with the game’s patterns.

Looking at the ‘when revealed’ effect on Southron Support, for example, we can deconstruct it into the following critical pieces:

  1. Each player must perform the search
  2. The search is for a Harad enemy
  3. Each enemy is added (not revealed) to the staging area

There are a few extra pieces of information: namely that a player only has to add an enemy if they find one in the encounter deck or discard pile. In addition, the encounter deck is shuffled once the players are done searching. The revised player rules explain that any time the players search the encounter deck, they must shuffle the deck when they are done searching.

Readability is a tricky thing, particularly when game mechanics are involved. Words and phrases which make sense to some people are confusing to others. Replacing commonly repeated passages with keywords makes sense, but it can be taken too far. The goal is to remove the noise from these templates while retaining the essential mechanics of a card. Ideally, a new player’s first guess of what a card does should be the correct interpretation. With that said, my proposed templates are more sparse than the original cards because I am trying to avoid the wall of text which can make this game so intimidating.

Here is the simplified template:

Doomed 3.
When Revealed: Each player searches for and adds a Harad enemy.

Let’s look at how this template differs from the official one above. First of all, we’ve added  a kind of idiom to the above template, so it’s worth spending a few words to explain this. Templates already have Triggers like “Response:” and “When Revealed:” and of course keywords like “Doomed 3.”. One of the thing lacking in existing templates is a more succinct way describing card effects without using so many words. Phrases like “searches the encounter deck and discard pile for” are unnecessarily verbose and easily lead to a wall of text. I’m proposing effect keywords. These are one or two word phrases, which are printed in italics (but not in bold like Traits) and a short-hand for larger effects.

The full explanation for these effect keywords will be provided in the rules reference, but the idea is for them to be intuitive for new players and eventually become automatically understood by experienced players. In the above example “searches” is short for “searches the encounter deck and discard pile for”. As long as this short-hand is consistently used across all templates, players will quickly come to understand what “searching for an enemy/location/side quest” means, without having to read every single word on the card. Cleaner card templates make a card easier to scan, which actually improves reading retention. For a more literary perspective on these principles, see anything about Hemmingway, Ernest.

Three words later, we use another effect keyword, add, which addresses another tricky subtlety with the current template. Some effects cause encounter cards to be “added to the staging area” without first being “revealed”. Other effects, even if they involve the same “search” process, will first “reveal” an encounter card and then “add it to the staging area” (in the case of locations, enemies, and encounter side quests). This is an important distinction, as many encounter cards have “When Revealed:” triggers but these triggers are not always resolved when an encounter card enters play.

The key is whether or not the effect which adds a card to the staging area includes the word “reveal”. If it uses this critical word, then the “When Revealed:” trigger on that card is resolved. If the word “reveal” is omitted from the source effect, then the “When Revealed:” trigger on that card is ignored. Because this distinction between “revealing and adding” and “only adding” is so subtle, I’ve decided to make both idioms into effect keywords. So, in the proposed new template, a card which causes the When Revealed trigger on other encounter cards to be resolved will use the reveal or revealed effect keyword. Effects which simply add encounter cards to the staging area and ignore the “When Revealed:” trigger will use the add or added effect keyword.

These distinctions might seem like pedantic nitpicking to some. I argue that simplifying and clarifying language is essential to a game’s health. Put another way:

No matter how amazing a game is, if it is difficult to teach, it will always be a niche game. Limiting your player pool to only the most experienced or dedicated players is a major impediment to a game’s popularity.

I have more proposed changes to card templates, but in the spirit of concision and clarity I want to keep these articles short and sweet. I’m curious to hear from other players – particularly those who have taught the game to new players. Let me know what you think in the comments. We here at the Hall wish a warm and Happy New Year to all of the readers!

Posted in Community, Complexity, Digital LotR, Discussion, Key Concepts, New Players, Opinion | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Making Every Card Count

Editor’s Note: This article is brought to you by a guest writer named Ulrik. I’d like to thank him for contributing this article about suggested changes to balance the early card pool.

Imagine this: when deck building for your upcoming adventure in Lord of the Rings: The Living Card Game, you have one slot left for your deck. You desperately need something that can handle locations in the staging area, and your choices have been narrowed down to either Northern Tracker or Power in the Earth.

Unless we have set upon ourselves harsh restrictions, everyone would – without hesitation – choose the Northern Tracker. Now, wouldn’t this deck building experience have been much more interesting if the choice between these two cards was more difficult? What if both cards were of roughly equivalent strength?

I am a casual player, quite satisfied with only owning a single copy of the Core set as well as the Mirkwood cycle. In such a limited pool of player cards, having the Northern Tracker always triumph over Power in the Earth greatly impacts the deck building aspect of the game. For me, one of the strengths of this game is the deck building aspect. Sorting the cards by type and cost, and then spending a considerable time pondering over which ones to include for the chosen scenario. This process is hampered by the huge discrepancy in power between Northern Tracker and Power in the Earth (or, for that matter, any other location control option in the Core Set and Shadows of Mirkwood cycle).

For that very reason, I have set myself upon the quest to try and re-balance the notoriously over-powered player cards, as well as tweak and boost the embarrassingly under-powered cards. My aim is for a more balanced power level of all the available player cards. The end goal is a situation where next time I am creating a deck to face the many perils of the Middle Earth, the choice between Northern Tracker and Power in the Earth is neither obvious nor easy. Ideally, they can stand roughly shoulder to shoulder in power level.

This is the quest, and the reason for this article. You are most welcome to join me. But first, a few rules to form the framework of this grand adventure:

  1. The overall power level of the player deck should preferably stay the same as before. Thus, by toning down for example Steward of Gondor, it is important to simultaneously level up weaker resource-accelerating cards to maintain an adequate power level and game balance.   
  2. I will only take into consideration the internal balance of the cards within the Core set and the Mirkwood cycle. For example: it does not matter if my altered version of Rain of Arrows is absolutely busted with Outlands or Ent decks, as those decks are not part of this limited environment.
  3. Some cards will still be stronger than others. The goal is not to make all cards identical, but to make the choice between cards to solve a given problem more interesting. For example: Erebor Hammersmith likely is a stronger card than Second Breakfast, but they are both within the realm of reasonably playable and interesting within their respective spheres. For this first session, I will focus on the worst offenders in terms of power level, whether under-powered or over-powered.
  4. Altering cards can be time consuming and difficult. Therefore, any changes should be as straightforward as possible. Most changes will be as simple as lowering or raising the cost of player cards, altering the stats of allies, and only very rarely will I alter any part of the card’s text. In those circumstances, the changes should be as small as possible. Personally I’ve done most changes easily enough with a scanner, a colour printer and some paper-friendly glue.
  5. To each their own. Choose freely whether to be inspired or disregard any or all of the ideas presented in this article. One of the great things about cooperative and solo games is that you can apply house rules without affecting the way that others play.

With all that said, let’s get the most obvious elephant in the room out of the way first. I’m looking at you, Steward of Gondor.


The Steward of Gondor (or Consul of Gondor as I call it to bypass the thematic problems) is by many players admittedly problematic, as it is so strong it virtually warps the entire game experience around itself. The difference of having a Steward of Gondor in play or having to go by without it is often night and day. The card is so powerful; it even forces itself into decks which don’t include Leadership heroes! No, that simply won’t do!

My solution, as simple as possible: First I weaken Consul of Gondor so it only gives 1 resource per turn (instead of 2). That’s it. Now, the card is still strong, especially over a long game, but not ridiculously over-powered.

To offset the smaller income of resources given with the new version above, several formerly over-costed Leadership cards are made cheaper: Brok Ironfist down to 4, Longbeard Orc Slayer down to 3, Dúnedain Cache down to 1.

Furthermore, the formerly useless Parting Gifts receives an additional line of text, in that in addition to its usual effect, it also adds a free resource to the hero before any transferring of resources.


Another one of the super-powered cards, the Unexpected Courage is ironically one of the most expected cards to show up in any Spirit sphere deck. By doubling the cost of this alluring attachment from 2 to 4 however, it becomes less of an auto include. I think this cost better represents the card’s very powerful effect.

Again, to offset the decrease in power level from the former all-star card, other cards that offers readying effects are boosted: We Do Not Sleep has its cost lowered to 3, and Grim Resolve is lowered to 4. And as a side effect, other fairly costed cards like Westfold Horse-Breaker, Ever Vigilant and Common Cause will by themselves get a bit more playable with a somewhat less desirable Unexpected Courage.


If there is any ally that can ruin the challenge of an adventure, it is the Northern Tracker. You grab the game box from the shelf, clear the gaming table, sort all of the cards, spend half an hour or so to build your deck, and another half an hour preparing the encounter deck and some fitting background music, only to have the Northern Tracker totally dominate and trivialise the entire adventure within a couple of minutes.

Solution: Limit the skilled Tracker’s ability to place 1 progress on up to 2 locations each time he commits to a quest. Also, not that it really matters since he is almost always questing, but let’s lower the attack and defence values of the Northern Tracker to 1 each (instead of 2).

Now, with the Tracker pulled a bit down to earth, others need to step up to the challenge. First off, Power in the Earth subtracts -2 threat to the attached location (instead of -1), and Strength of Will places 3 progress (instead of 2).

Two more cards receives an additional line of text: Ride to Ruin (in addition to placing progress to a location, also deals 1 damage to each enemy in the staging area), Meneldor’s Flight (in addition to bouncing an Eagle back to your hand, also places 2 progress on any one location).

Finally, the formerly overlooked competition to Northern Tracker, Lórien Guide, gets +1 attack. This, along with the Silvan trait, should differentiate its to the now less combat proficient Tracker. This elven scout is probably still a weaker ally than the Dúnedain tracker, but now it’s a bit more of a contest.


Now this is a tricky one. Sneak Attack by itself is not really problematic or overpowered. But since the very dawn of this game, Sneak Attack and Gandalf (and occasionally Beorn) have gone so tightly hand in hand, to the exclusion of almost any other ally. Squeezing as many uses as possible of old Gandalf has always been a strong and viable tactic. Too strong, I would argue, since it severely limits deck building options, which of course just won’t do.

Inspired by the digital version of this game, I have the come up with the following solution for Sneak Attack (which also further highlights just how unexpected the attack is): “Action: Look through the top of your deck until you find an ally card. Put that ally into play. At the end of the phase, if that ally is still in play, discard it.”

So the effect is still powerful, it is just that little extra matter of making sure what ally is on top of your deck. A task the formerly useless Keen-Eyed Took certainly can help out with (which, on a bit of a whim, I have boosted by +1 Attack value). Other choices include a fixed Gandalf’s Search which in my altered version costs 2, but allow the player to look at the top 4 cards of their deck, making it a quite nice tool indeed with this new version of Sneak Attack.


Feint is another difficult card to change. It is not at all on the ludicrous power level of Steward of Gondor or Unexpected Courage. Plus, it’s quite an essential asset for the Tactics deck. The good thing is, that the Tactics sphere actually has quite a few similar cards, albeit much weaker so they used to all stand in the shadow of the all mighty Feint.

First off, let us grant a small price increase to Feint, from 1 to 2. In contrast, lower the cost of both Swift Strike and A Light in the Dark to 1 (from 2), and give A Thicket of Spears the following extra effect: “Also deal 3 damage to each enemy engaged with that player” (thematically representing the heroes each having a spear). Finally, the overly complicated Stand Together is changed to have the following ability (still at a cost of 0): “Combat Action: Choose a player. That player’s heroes each get +2 Defence this phase”. Getting two extra shields for a phase is surely a strong effect, yet, everyone knows the inherent risks of using heroes to defend.

From different spheres, but worthy of consideration, Beorn’s Hospitality is lowered to cost 3 (from 5), and Fortune or Fate is lowered to 4 (from 5). These changes offset the fact that heroes become more vulnerable when Feint is more expensive and somewhat less commonplace.

So, this was the first stage of our quest. Below you will find the cards discussed in this article. In future articles we can continue re-balancing player cards, even bringing our attention to the heroes. Until next time, farewell!

Posted in Card Lists, Community, Custom Cards, Discussion, Game Variant, Guest Author, Metagame, New Players, Opinion | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Alternate Art: Carrock and Eyrie

The emergence of Beornings as an archetype in the Ered Mithrin cycle has been a cause for celebration around the hall. Seeing my clan represented in this game is something I’ve been clamoring for since the Core Set. Ally Beorn has always been a powerhouse, but there was never a deck built around Beornings as a whole because there were too few of them around which to form any consistent strategy. Thanks to Beorning Skin-changer, the first inklings of a cohesive deck concept are coalescing.

Eagle decks have long been a fascination of mine, and since there are not yet enough Beorning allies to support an entire deck, I’ve designed a deck with Beornings and Eagles, working together to rid Rhovanion of the scourge of ravening Wargs and ferocious Orcs. At its heart, this deck uses Raiment of War, Captain of Gondor and Support of the Eagles to transform Grimbeorn the Old into a one-bear killing machine. Éowyn and Mablung provide support, namely with questing and resource acceleration.

Supplementing these heroes is a host of Eagle allies.

With the skies patrolled by the servants of  Manwë, Beorn and his people watch the earth:

The deck is light on attachments, but what is has is designed to empower Grimbeorn, or muster high-cost allies. Raiment of War and Captain of Gondor are both particularly effective with the son of Beorn. The bonus attack and defense are both used in concert with his ability. The additional hit points are always welcome on your primary defender.

Legolas (Ally)Legolas, the son of Thranduil, is visiting from his home in Mirkwood. His response ability is often essential in a mono-Tactics deck which can struggle with card draw. Foe-hammer is also included for this purpose, but requires Raiment of War to be attached and so is less reliable. Between these two cards, and pseudo-draw options like The Eagles are Coming and Open the Armory, the deck is fairly consistent.

Foe-hammerAlong with Vassal of the Windlord, he also contributes ranged attack which can be a life-saver in multiplayer games. This deck has less ranged than I would normally build into a mono-Tactics deck, because Grimbeorn’s sentinel and counter-attack ability means that we can provide protection to less combat savvy decks without actually having the ranged keyword.

The deck is rounded out with several powerful events. The low-cost events provide card draw, resource acceleration and stat boosts. The more expensive events are for combat control. Oath of Eorl is a new favorite in my Tactics-heavy builds, especially in decks which feature Tactics Éowyn. Wait until the turn when you use her once per game ability, then you have a 10 strength chingona who attacks before the enemies even know what it happening.

I’ve had a chance to play this deck several times in our local Austin Lord of the Rings group and it has performed admirably. Once you have Grimbeorn loaded up with at least one attachment he is a formidable hero. He takes after his father, in that regard. I hope that you enjoy this deck as much as I do; the full deck list is available on RingsDB. It was an enjoyable process finding alternate art images for these cards. Anyone who wants printable copies can contact us. From everyone here at the Hall of Beorn, have joyous and safe holidays!





Posted in Alternate-Art, Beornings, Deck Lists, Fun, Lord of the Rings, RingsDB, Theme | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Adventures in Central Europe – Part One: Hungary

Life has finally settled down after returning from Con of the Rings and holding our Austin Fellowship event, and days have resumed more familiar rhythms. The time has allowed me to sort through vacation photos and gather my thoughts about our recent trip to Central Europe. Travel influences us in subtle ways, and it is interesting to see how my perspective on life in Austin (and America at large) has changed since my return. While the external trappings of culture can be obvious, it also informs us in subtle ways – many of which are invisible to our consciousness.

These subtle differences are just one of the reasons why travel is so interesting. We are in a very literal sense, re-contextualizing our cultural existence when we spend time in countries far from home. A good example of these changes is in our daily routine. Everywhere along our trip, I tried to establish the same morning pattern: walk to a cafe, order a cappuccino and a fresh baked bread or pastry of whatever sort is popular in that region or city. As simple as this might sound, it differs from the morning routine that I have in Austin.

America does not prioritize having bakeries and cafes within walking distance of residences. For that matter, Austin specifically does not prioritize walkability, so the prospect of walking to these activities from my house is highly impractical. It’s funny how such a seemingly minor change in habit can have a noticeable impact on one’s outlook to start the day. I found that by starting my day in this way, something which was easily facilitated by the cities we visited, it put me in the perfect frame of mind for new experiences.

For those who are interested in reading about Lord of the Rings, the book or the card game, you will find this article light on such content. As my interactions with the community continue to remind me, the world is filled with friendly, intelligent, and interesting people, who just so happen to be fans of Tolkien’s books and this game. I suspect that many with a sense of adventure and an interest in other cultures will find something worthwhile in my travel tales.


My knowledge of Hungary before visiting was limited to vague impressions and half-remembered stories from the first World War. A good friend visited Budapest several years ago and gave it a glowing recommendation. The Pearl of the Danube exceeded my expectations. It is far and away one of the most beautiful cities I’ve ever visited.

For me, travel is about curiosity. I want to understand what is unique about a place, the heart that gives it life. While the most iconic aspects of a city are not always my favorite parts, they make for a good starting point for getting to know a city. Now I understand why the baths of Budapest are world famous. The architecture in Budapest is magnificent.

Pairing such magnificent structures with crystal clear water, fed from natural springs, makes the baths of Budapest a singular beauty. After so many hours of stuck on an airplane with coughing people and screaming children, a nice long soak was just what we needed.

The buildings of Hungary are a constant reminder of an older empire, when the Magyar were at the center of European politics and Budapest was known as “The Heart of Europe”. Seeing all of this grandeur, along with ample evidence of the passage of time, I could not help but think of Minas Tirith in the Third Age. The city is still a sight to behold, but one inevitably wonders what it must have looked line in its youth.

Paprika BeefNo trip to Hungary would be complete without a taste of their signature dish: Goulash. A savory stew of meat, paprika, and other spices, Goulash is popular throughout Central Europe. Each region has its own take on this traditional dish, and in any form it is one of my favorite meals. Visiting in the Fall was perfect, as delicious hot stews are the perfect meal for the weather. While I enjoyed the Goulash, it was a different dish which surprised and impressed me: a traditional Hungarian meal known as Paprika Beef. Hungarian food is a must for anyone who likes savory meals, particularly stews and soups.


At the end of our sojourn through Central Europe, we had the pleasure of returning to Budapest for a few days, just before returning home. On one of our last full days there, we took the train from Budapest to the city of Veresegyház, and had what I would describe as a true adventure.

There’s nothing quite like getting lost in a foreign country, particularly when you don’t speak the native language. I say this without pride, as learning to speak some of the native tongue is something I prefer to do, but Magyar is a notoriously difficult language to learn. Having already been to Estonia some years ago, I had an inkling of the difficulty of this esoteric language family. In any case, after a few wrong trains and help from generous and friendly locals – which mostly involved the language of universally applicable gestures and nods – we finally found the Bear and Wolf Sanctuary on the outskirts of Budapest.

As a bear, and giant troll killing machine, seeing my ursine brethren was one of the highlights of the trip. I was initially worried that this would be like some trips to the zoo, where bored and agitated animals leave me feeling a profound sense of loss – of nature being subverted by man’s will. Fortunately, this sanctuary gave the the Bears and Wolves ample room to roam and hunt, and they were obviously happy and in their natural element.

It brought joy to my ursine heart, seeing these majestic animals – many of them rescued from circuses – happy and healthy. Many of the bears and wolves live in the same enclosures, which makes sense as they are not natural enemies. All the same, it was amusing to see just how little mind the full grown bears gave to packs of wolves – even circling around them. For anyone who has a chance to see these beautiful animals in that natural environments (ore as close to such as is practical), you should definitely do so.

As a bonus for those wanting more Lord of the Rings-related content, here is a deck that I designed based on Hungary’s signature dish: Hungarian Goulash.

Posted in Community, Fun, Nature, Stories | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Bear Draft 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


Posted in Community, Con of the Rings, Draft, Fun, Game Variant, Metagame, Thanks, The Grey Company | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Hall of Beorn now includes the Digital Card Game

As we approach the anniversary of Hall of Beorn Card Search, it is hard to believe that it has been almost five years since I built that site as a side project. With the digital version of The Lord of the Rings: Living Card Game in early release on Steam, I’ve gone ahead and added support for that game as well. I’m pleased to announce that Hall of Beorn Digital Card Search now includes all of the cards released to date for the digital game. In the near future, I will be adding categories and a JSON API which other tools like online deck-builders are free to use.

Work continues on the Hall of Beorn Card Search to add new features for the original game, so have no fear that the bear is abandoning one game for another. I have two paws, after all, so I can certainly work on both sites. As traffic on the new site ramps up, so do my hosting costs see a commensurate increase. I would appeal to any and all players who enjoy the search engines, or the intermittent ramblings I post here, to head on over to my Patreon page and pledge your support. Every small donation is greatly appreciated, and makes a difference to offset the cost of maintaining these community tools.

Posted in Community, Digital LotR, Hall of Beorn Card Search, Patreon, Thanks, Video Games | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments