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Card Spotlight: Longbeard Elder

by on January 23, 2013

In these new bite-sized Card Spotlight installments, I will pick one card that usually doesn’t get much attention or acclaim and put it under the microscope. By brushing off some of the dust, we can see if it is a gem or coaster material. First up is one of the Dwarves that often gets lost in the spotlight of his more flashy (and younger) peers: the Longbeard Elder.


Longbeard Elder is a Leadership ally with 2 willpower, 1 attack, 1 defense, and 2 hit points. He costs 3 resources, which is on the moderate-to-high side. His ability states that after he commits to a quest, you look at the top card of the encounter deck. If it is a location, you put 1 progress token on the current quest (or active location if there is one). If it is not a location, then Longbeard Elder gets -1 willpower for that phase.

On the surface, the semi-expensive cost of this ally combined with an ability that isn’t immediately impressive might make you overlook this wise, old Dwarf. But there are a few reasons why you should stay that impulse, and consider including him. One is the ever-present Dain factor, always a key consideration when assessing Dwarf characters. With Dain in play, suddenly the Longbeard Elder has an amazing 3 willpower! That is a hero-esque number and fully justifies the 3 resources on its own (not to mention he would also boast 2 attack). Are there any weaknesses to this card? It does only have 2 hit points, which makes it a bit vulnerable to treacheries or enemy attacks. Given his high willpower and ability, you will probably only be using him for questing, so that won’t be too much of an issue. If you have Hardy Leadership in play, he’ll be sitting pretty at 3 hit points.

What about his ability? Is it any good? It absolutely can be. If you play the Longbeard Elder as a form of gambling, hoping that a location will pop up more often than not, then you will probably be losing out on willpower over and over again. However, if you put Longbeard Elder in a deck that also includes Henamarth Riversong or Rumour from the Earth, you will be able to activate the ability only when it will be successful (remember that his ability is a response, so using it is optional). In this way, Longbeard Elder could at least contribute say 2-4 extra progress tokens per quest (depending on the quest), which seems insignificant, but could be quite important. This is only amplified if you are able to get multiple copies of this card into play, as it is not unique. Now imagine that you use him in a deck that also features Legolas and a couple of Blades of Gondolin. Suddenly, extra progress tokens will be raining in from all sides, and you will find yourself flying through quest stages.

There is a final, subtle use for his ability: scrying. In order to use his ability, you have to look at the top card of the encounter deck. Note that you are not yet revealing said card, and you have not moved onto staging yet, rather you are still in the commitment step. This means that Longbeard Elder, as a side-effect of his ability, gives you the ability to see what’s coming a la Henamarth Riversong. There are some differences, however. You must commit all of your characters simultaneously to the quest, including the Longbeard Elder, before you get to look at the top card of the encounter deck. So that means that you won’t get the benefit of that information in guiding who you will commit to the quest, but any other players who commit after you will gain from that knowledge. On the other hand, Longbeard Elder, unlike Henamarth Riversong, activates his ability while questing, so you still get the benefit of his being committed to the quest, instead of having to exhaust him as a separate action. Even if you are playing solo or are the last player on a particular turn, Longbeard Elder’s indirect scrying can still be helpful in that you have the opportunity to play actions before staging. So if you see a nasty monster coming up, you could play Fresh Tracks or Expecting Mischief, or if a horrible treachery that you can’t cancel is on the horizon, maybe it’s time to play Out of the Wild and remove it from play. All in all, this indirect scrying makes Longbeard Elder a card that is more useful that it at first appears. Note that this approach does contradict what I said earlier about not using Longbeard Elder blindly. This is because you have to choose. Either you are primarily using the Elder for his bonus progress, in which case you want to pair him with some other means of looking at the encounter deck, or you are employing this card mainly as a means of indirect scrying, in which case you are prepared to lose willpower at times.

Overall, there is ripe potential for synergy and combos with the indirect scrying effect and extra progress tokens. Alternatively, f you rather never use the ability, you can still have a 3 willpower ally for 3 resources if you have Dain in play. With all this in mind, I encourage players to respect their Longbeard Elders and give them a shot in your decks.

Verdict: Gem

From → Card Spotlight

  1. OnkelZorni permalink

    Great review, I didn’t use this card yet, but I think I’ll give it a try. Two things I want to mention: Ranger Spikes don’t work the way you described it cause it’s an attachement and you are not allowed to show or tell your companions the encounter card you took a look at.

  2. TalesfromtheCards permalink

    Yes, good catch with Ranger Spikes! Events like Expecting Mischief and Fresh Tracks would work, but not attachments of course. As far as table talk goes, people follow it to varying degrees. If you are following the rule to the letter, you couldn’t tell your fellow players what the card is, but you could use your knowledge to give them vague advice like, “Trust me, you will need to commit all your characters” or “Don’t worry about it, we don’t need that much willpower”.

  3. Thaddeus permalink

    In a dwarf deck, he’s generally worth it. Getting to quest for three (I nearly always assume Dain is being used if someone is playing dwarves) and add a progress token is pretty awesome. Even if it isn’t a location, you’re still questing for two and got to scry the top card.

    You can also use him in the Dead Marshes quest as three wp for escape tests.

  4. legolas18 permalink

    This card would also work well with The Sword that was Broken + Faramir combo. That way, you could try to use his ability, and if it doesn’t work he still has 3 willpower. And if you happen to have Dain, this Elder could be more useful than Eowyn!

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      Awesome, I like how you think! A 4 willpower Longbeard (with Dain and Sword that was Broken) would be amazing. I’m working on an uber-willpower deck and I think that combo will definitely find a place.

  5. lordofchance permalink

    I’m using Long Bear Elder in a solo playthrough of the Hobit saga and I was using his scrying ability. Now that I’ve read your post, I may reduce his place in my deck. I’m disapointed that he comits at the same time as the others. For 3, he looking expensive now, especialy as these senarios don’t have a large amount of locations. What would be a spirit, leadership or lore dwarf to replace him with? I’m not runing Dain, but a tri-sphere deck with Thorin Oakenshield, Nori and Ori.

  6. Longbeard Elder pairs well with Core Aragorn and Steed of the Mark. By knowing what is coming, spending resources on readying can be done intelligently.

  7. Two or more Longbeard Elders are also good. You can peek at the first encounter and if it’s a location, you may opt to use the 2nd Longbeard Elder’s abiity.

  8. Sweetness Whachacha permalink

    You made some good points on this card. I used him only briefly but I really liked him. I don’t use legalos much anymore, as I want to try new heroes but miss the Mirkwood cycles constant “put a couple of progress tokens on something.” When I was legalosing enemie, so I liked the long beard elder.

    I also like your point about expecting mischief and fresh tracks, as I don’t like always having to exhaust denethor, or don’t have a rumor of the earth in hand or riversong in play

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