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A Thematic Guide to the Hobbit Saga Expansions

by on February 15, 2013

OnTheDoorstepBlog

With The Hobbit: On the Doorstep, the second Saga Expansion for LOTR LCG, almost on our doorsteps, it is time to prepare some decks to tackle these new quests. However, with these scenarios taking place approximately 60 to 80 years before the usual timeline of the game, thematic players, as well as those who enjoy a challenge, might want to restrict which characters they use to only those that were actually alive and old enough to take part in the adventures of Thorin’s company. To assist players in this undertaking, I have decided to compile this short thematic guide to outline which heroes and allies were actually alive during Bilbo’s adventure, which were snot-nosed kids at the time, and which could actually participate. I have limited this guide to the unique characters in the game, as generic allies are representative of types, and can be used according to your thematic tastes. Have fun building your pure Thorin company decks and alternate storyline adventures!

*Note on abbreviations: T.A. = Third Age, F.A. = First Age

*Note on the timeline: The events of the Hobbit took place during T.A. 2941. The events of the normal LOTR LCG timeline take place between T.A. 3001 and T.A. 3018. If we estimate that a character should be at least 20 years old to take part in the trip to the Lonely Mountain, that would make them at least 97 years old when the War of the Ring began. This is why I estimate that most human characters, when their birth date is unknown, were either not born yet or too young to be included in thematic Hobbit decks.

* Note on list: I have excluded those characters that were included in The Hobbit: Over Hill and Under Hill as they are obviously all good fits for Hobbit decks.

HEROES

* Aragorn (Leadership):

Date of Birth: T.A. 2931

Age in 2941: 10 yrs. old

Aragorn, being one of the Dunedain, was blessed with extended life and thus was one of the few mortal men alive during the events of The Hobbit. However, he was only 10 years old at the time. I’m not sure if it really is a thematic fit to imagine a tiny Aragorn tagging along on these adventures.

Beravor (Lore):

FFG-Created Character

Beravor is one of FFG’s creations, and thus is a bit of a gray area as far as thematic decks are concerned. If we assume that she is roughly Aragorn’s age, being one of the Dunedain, then she was likely either not born yet or very young during the events of The Hobbit. Because of this, she probably isn’t a good fit for Hobbit decks.

Beregond (Tactics):

Date of Birth: Unknown

Age in 2941: Unknown (Estimate – Not born yet)

Beregond was a soldier of Gondor, most notable for defending Faramir against his father’s madness and preventing him from being burned alive. Not knowing his age during these events for sure, we can only assume that he was not born yet during The Hobbit.

* Bifur (Lore), Dwalin (Spirit), Gloin (Leadership):

These three heroes were part of Thorin’s company in the book, and thus are great choices for Hobbit decks.

Boromir (Leadership/Tactics):

Date of Birth: 2978

Age in 2941: Not born yet

Boromir was born 37 years after the Battle of the Five Armies concluded. Leave him out of your thematic Hobbit decks.

Brand son of Bain (Tactics):

Date of Birth: Unknown (Estimate – Sometime before T.A. 3007, probably in the 2970’s or 2980’s)

Age in 2941: Not born yet

Brand was the grandson of Bard the Bowman, who played such a key role in The Hobbit. However, Brand himself was not born yet when his grandpa shot Smaug out of the air.

Dain Ironfoot (Leadership):

Date of Birth: T.A. 2767

Age in 2941: 174 yrs. old

Dain Ironfoot is mentioned throughout The Hobbit and shows up during the Battle of Five Armies in response to Thorin’s call for aid. In terms of pure timeline, Dain can fit into Hobbit decks, although thematically he was not part of the main journey. However, you can imagine an alternate storyline where Dain decided to accompany Thorin (or even lead the adventure himself).

* Denethor (Lore):

Date of Birth: T.A. 2930

Age in 2941: 11 yrs. old

Denethor, the father of Boromir and Faramir, was a young child at the time of Bilbo’s journey. He had not yet risen to the position of Steward, and would be too young to take part in the adventure. (I never realized until researching for this article that Denethor was only 1 year older than Aragorn!)

* Dunhere (Spirit):

Date of Birth: Unknown

Age in 2941: Unknown (Estimate – Not born yet)

A captain of the Rohirrim during the War of the Ring and a mortal man, he was probably not born yet when Bilbo set out from the Shire.

*  Eleanor (Spirit):

FFG-Created Character

Another of FFG’s creations, we can assume, as with most of the other human characters, that she was either not born yet or too young to take part in the events of The Hobbit.

Elladan (Tactics) and Elrohir (Leadership):

Date of Birth: T.A. 130

Age in 2941: 2811 yrs. old

The twin sons of Elrond and Celebrian, they were definitely old enough in 2941 to be considered fair game for Hobbit decks. One of the compelling stories in Middle-Earth is the ride of Elladan and Elrohir to save their mother from the Orcs who had captured and tortured her. We can imagine an alternate storyline where the twins joined the Dwarves on their quest, perhaps with the hope of getting a chance to bleed some more Orcs.

Elrond (Lore):

Date of Birth: F.A. 532

Age in 2941: 6440 yrs. old

Elrond was alive, well, and ancient when he welcomed Thorin’s company to Rivendell after their encounter with the trolls. Including Elrond would be a way to explore an alternate storyline where the master of Rivendell decided to undertake the quest to Erebor.

* Eowyn (Spirit):

Date of Birth: T.A. 2995

Age in 2941: Not born yet

Our shieldmaiden of Rohan was not born yet and could not have been part of Bilbo’s adventures.

* Frodo Baggins (Spirit):

Date of Birth: T.A. 2968

Age in 2941: Not born yet

Frodo Baggins was born 27 years after Bilbo’s adventure. More importantly, he had three books written about his adventures, so why would you want to let this Baggins steal Bilbo’s spotlight!

Gimli (Tactics):

Date of Birth: 2879

Age in 2941: 62 yrs. old

Gimli was a tender 62-year-old at the time that his father, Gloin, decided to take part in Thorin’s quest to Erebor. While Gimli was not part of the company, you can certainly imagine an alternate story where he fights side by side with his dad.

* Glorfindel (Lore/Spirit):

Date of Birth: Unknown

Age in 2941: Unknown (Estimate – Over 6,000 yrs. old)

There is a bit of lore disconnect between whether there were two Glorfindels or just one who died and was resurrected. As Tolkien indicated that the latter was his preference, that’s the one I’ll choose. Glorfindel is an old and very powerful elf-lord. While Glorfindel does not appear in The Hobbit, he certainly could have been part of events, if he decided to tag along with the company for some inexplicable reason (perhaps to slay a dragon as he once killed a Balrog?).

Hama (Tactics):

Date of Birth: Unknown

Age in 2941: Unknown (Estimate – Not born yet)

Hama was most famous as the doorwarden for Theoden, allowing Gandalf to pass with his staff and secretly sabotaging Wormtongue’s plans. In terms of The Hobbit storyline, he was likely not yet born.

Legolas (Tactics):

Date of Birth: Unknown

Age in 2941: 500-3000 yrs. old

While his exact date of birth is unknown, he was definitely alive at the time that the Dwarves were being held captive by his father, Thranduil. Legolas does not appear in the story by name, but it is entirely possible that he was in his father’s hall as Thorin and the others were being held captive. Perhaps he also took part in the Battle of Five Armies. Either way, Legolas can join the adventure, if you leave aside the enmity between the Silvan of Mirkwood and Thorin that emerges in the latter half of the book.

* Prince Imrahil (Leadership):

Date of Birth: T.A. 2955

Age in 2941: Not born yet

Imrahil, the leader of the Knights of Dol Amroth, was born 14 years after the adventure to the Lonely Mountain. Leave him out of your Hobbit decks.

* Thalin (Tactics):

FFG-Created Character

Thalin is another creation of FFG. As a Dwarf, he probably is old enough to have been alive during the Hobbit adventures. It also would make sense thematically if he joined the other Dwarves in the company as some random relative.

* Theodred (Leadership):

Date of Birth: T.A. 2978

Age in 2941: Not born yet

Theodred, son of Theoden, was born 37 years after the Battle of Five Armies. Leave him out of your Hobbit decks.

 

ALLIES

* Arwen Undomiel (Spirit):

Date of Birth: T.A. 241

Age in 2941: 2700 yrs. old

Arwen was alive and well, being over 2000 years old at the time that The Hobbit takes place. You can therefore play Arwen in your Hobbit decks without fear of breaking the space-time continuum. However, she played no part in the actual events of the story. At the time that Bilbo’s adventures took place, I believe that Arwen was visiting with her grandmother, Galadriel, in Lorien. I base this off the fact that during the year the company came to Rivendell (T.A. 2941), Aragorn was 10 years old and had been fostered there since he was 2. According to lore, Aragorn doesn’t meet Arwen until his twentieth year, which would be 10 years after the adventures of The Hobbit, when she comes back from her stay at Lorien. I’m making the assumption that this stay was a long one and is the reason why they didn’t meet previously, because Rivendell isn’t so big that young Aragorn wouldn’t come into contact with the daughter of Elrond if she was there! (Also, Tolkien probably wanted to avoid the weirdness of Arwen meeting her love for the first time when he was a young boy, George Lucas I’m looking in your direction!) Anyway, in terms of age, she can fit, in terms of story, you’ll have to imagine an alternate storyline, which would be even more of a stretch than some of the others.

Beorn (Tactics):

Date of Birth: Unknown

Age in 2941: Unknown

If you are not using the Beorn hero that came with Over Hill and Under Hill, then you also have the option of using the Beorn ally card that came out way back as part of the original Core Set. Beorn played an important role in The Hobbit, providing the company with an opportunity to rest and replenish themselves after their adventure in the Misty Mountains, as well as advice for how to travel through Mirkwood. He also showed up to take part in the Battle of the Five Armies, slaying Bolg the Orc. As such, he is a great thematic choice for Hobbit decks.

Bofur (Spirit), Bofur (Tactics), Bombur (Lore), Dori (Lore), Fili (Leadership), and Kili (Spirit):

I won’t say much about these allies, because they were all part of Thorin’s company! Feel free to use them to your heart’s content as part of your Hobbit decks.

Brok Ironfist (Leadership):

FFG-Created Character

As far as I know, this character was a creation of FFG. As such, feel free to use him as part of your Hobbit decks. Most Dwarves live for a good few centuries, so if he is alive with a white beard at the time of the game’s main storyline, it is safe to assume he was alive during the timespan of The Hobbit as well. The fact that his flavor text is a quote from The Hobbit also serves as an argument for his inclusion, but then again, you probably don’t want to include him for gameplay purposes.

Damrod (Spirit):

Date of Birth: Unknown

Age in 2941: Unknown (Estimate – Not born yet)

Damrod was one of Faramir’s rangers, encountered by Frodo and Sam in Ithilien. There is no firm information about his age, and how old he would have been during the time of The Hobbit. My guess is that he was from 30 to 60 years old during the War of the Ring, which would mean he was likely not born yet during Bilbo’s adventure (unless he is Dunedain and benefits from long life, but there is no indication of this being the case). My conclusion is that Damrod probably is not a good thematic fit for Hobbit decks.

Elfhelm (Spirit):

Date of Birth: Unknown

Age in 2941: Unknown (Estimate – Not born yet)

Elfhelm was the Marshal of the East-mark of Rohan, and he was part of the battle during which Theodred, son of Theoden, was mortally wounded. For similar reasons as Damrod, I assume that given the span of a normal mortal life, and his likely age given his position, he probably was not alive during the events of The Hobbit.

Eomund (Spirit):

Date of Birth: Unknown (Estimate – Between T.A. 2948 and 2963)

Age in 2941: Unknown (Estimate – Not born yet)

Eomund was the brother-in-law of Theoden and father of Eowyn and Eomer. According to lore, he died in T.A. 3002 at the hands of Orcs, so interestingly he shouldn’t be around for most of the existing non-Saga scenarios. His exact date of birth is unknown, but I am assuming that he was roughly around the same age as Theoden, who was born in T.A. 2948, seven years after the Battle of Five Armies. Even if he was a bit older, he would’ve been a very young child at the time of The Hobbit. Leave Eomund out of your Hobbit decks.

Erestor (Leadership):

Date of Birth: Unknown

Age in 2941: Unknown (Estimate – Several thousand years old)

Erestor was the chief counsellor to Elrond. Unfortunately, there is not much more information about him than that. With Elrond being over 6,000 years old, Erestor must be fairly close in age, if he is seen as being experienced and wise enough to hold the position of chief counsellor in Rivendell. Although Erestor did not take part in The Hobbit, he can temporally fit into Hobbit decks.

* Faramir (Leadership):

Date of Birth: T.A. 2983

Age at time of story: Not born yet

This one is a fairly clear case. Faramir was not born yet when the events of The Hobbit took place.

Gildor Inglorion (Lore):

Date of Birth: First Age

Age in 2941: Unknown (Estimate – Over 6,000 yrs. old)

Gildor Inglorion was a very ancient elf, likely born in Valinor and part of the Exiles who came to Middle-Earth during the First Age. He gives Frodo counsel at the beginning of his journey. As for The Hobbit, while taking no part directly in the story, he is fair game for thematic decks.

* Gleowine (Lore):

Date of Birth: Unknown

Age in 2941: Unknown (Estimate – Not born yet)

Gleowine was a minstrel of Rohan, famous mainly for writing a song about Theoden and the Battle of Pelennor Fields. Given that he was a non-Dunedain mortal man, he was likely not born yet during The Hobbit and is off-limits for thematic decks.

Haldir of Lorien (Lore):

Date of Birth: Unknown

Age in 2941: Unknown

Very little is known of Haldir, other than the fact that he was a marchwarden and guard of Lorien’s borders. As an elf, I am estimating that he is fairly old, and was more than likely around during the time of Bilbo’s adventure.

Henamarth Riversong (Lore):

FFG-Created Character

Another FFG creation, you can probably feel fairly comfortable using Henamarth Riversong as a representation of a generic Silvan elf of the time period.

Landroval (Tactics)

Date of Birth: First Age (?)

Age in 2941: Unknown (Estimate – Over 6,000 years old)

Landroval is one of Gwaihir’s brothers, the same Gwaihir that participated in the Battle of Five Armies. As such, I think it makes sense for Landroval to take part in the events of The Hobbit, although he is not directly named. According to one source, Landroval served as a vassal to Thorondor during the First Age, making him quite old.

Radagast (Neutral)

Date of Birth: Before Arda was created

Age in 2941: Ancient

Radagast was one of the Istari, a powerful Maia incarnated in human form. Feel free to include him in your Hobbit decks, although you’ll have to do without any rabbit-drawn sleds.

 

Summary

The following heroes should not be included in thematic Hobbit decks:

– Aragorn

– Beravor

– Beregond

– Boromir

– Brand

– Denethor

– Dunhere

– Eleanor

– Eowyn

– Frodo

– Hama

– Prince Imrahil

– Theodred

The following allies should not be included in your thematic Hobbit decks:

– Damrod

– Elfhelm

– Eomund

– Faramir

– Gleowine

 

Feel free to post your thematic Hobbit decks below, including alternate storyline creations. What are your thoughts on playing the Saga Expansion scenarios? How strict are you as far as thematic/timeline limitations are concerned?

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From → Lore

11 Comments
  1. This is great stuff! I really enjoy seeing how the threads of the various stories in Middle-Earth tie together into the larger narrative. I especially appreciate how you provide good reasons why some of the ancillary characters could be included in “what if” alternate timelines.

    I admit to a certain bias, but I think you’d have to be touched in the head not to include a certain giant bear on your adventure to Erebor! 🙂

  2. * Boromir (Leadership/Tactics):
    Date of Birth: 2978
    Age in 2941: Not born yet

    Boromir was born 37 years after the Battle of the Five Armies concluded. Leave him out of your thematic Hobbit decks.

    * Brand son of Bain (Tactics):

    My very first thought here, just after I read the name, was: ‘Leave him out of any decks’.

  3. Yes, Hama… the most important doorman of Middle-earth.

  4. It just struck me how, in some cases, you can see which characters were made up by FFG just from reading their names. Ironfist? Riversong? They sound like WarCraft characters.

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      True, they’re not very Tolkien sounding, are they?

    • Indeed, Tolkien approached his work primarily as a linguist and often the invention of language and names often occurred before the stories. It’s part of the reason that his universe is so fully and believably realized. Assessing the “Tolkien-ness” of the FFG created names is an idea I hope to explore at some point. For now, let me just say that Celador is a much better name than Brok Ironfist in terms of emulating Tolkien — though it’s possible that Ironfist is the Westron or Common Speech rendering of a Dwarvish name that makes more sense.

  5. cnquist permalink

    Its not entirely out of sync with Tolkien for the dwarfs. We have Oakenshield and Ironfoot as examples. No excuse for the elves though.

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      Good point. Ironfist is similar to Ironfoot, I imagine that’s where they got the inspiration. Can we expect an Oakensword character soon?

  6. Excellent article! As an ex MTG player I have to date been focusing on only using the most powerful deck. This has got me thinking about using a thematic approach for The Hobbit saga.

    Currently building a 3 sphere deck using only dwarf heros from the company and dwarven allies. This deck will focus on questing and fits nicely with the thematic view of this being the party.

    I like to play 2-handed, so the other deck will be the support deck that helps the party with combat. Intending to use an eagle deck with Dain and 2 Tactics heros that fit the thematic approach, e.g. Beorn.

  7. OnkelZorni permalink

    Why is “Riversong” worse than “Greenleaf” (Legolas)? English is not my native language so I might miss something, but both sounds legal too me

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