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Card Spotlight: Landroval

by on December 31, 2013

eagles nasmith

The Eagles of Middle-earth are enigmatic, powerful, and even controversial. While Tolkien employed them as the embodiment of his notion of eucatastrophe, readers (and viewers) of the more cynical modern age ask instead why the eagles couldn’t just fly the Ring to Mordor. In terms of LOTR LCG, Eagles formed one of the early viable deck archetypes, being fleshed out during the Shadows of Mirkwood cycle, but haven’t received any support since that time. Still, even though the card pool has grown and new archetypes have emerged, the Eagle deck can still work quite well, at least in terms of providing combat support. The most powerful of the Eagles that we have in the game is Landroval, brother of Gwaihir (we will see a Gwaihir card one day, won’t we?), and he will serve as the focus of this Card Spotlight.

This edition will be a little bit different in that I am taking on an ally for only the third time. Typically attachments and events are the best fodder for these articles because allies tend to be more straightforward in terms of their value (though not always), while attachments and events incline towards the subtle. Another difference is that the value of Landroval is not in dispute, at least not in any way that I’m aware of, and I venture that there are few players out there who would label him a coaster. However, the high cost of Landroval in a sphere without a ton of resource generation options means that he perhaps doesn’t get as much play as he might otherwise. Thus, I will use this opportunity to not only explore some of the best uses for Landroval, but also some of the ways that his expense can be mitigated.

For 5 resources, Landroval provides an ally with strong stats and a powerful ability:

Sentinel. 

Landroval cannot have restricted attachments.

Response: After a hero card is destroyed, return Landroval to his owner’s hand to put that hero back into play, with 1 damage token on it. (Limit once per game.) 

Thus, Landroval is currently one of the only ways to bring a hero back from the dead (Fortune or Fate being thelandroval other), and the only one in the Tactics sphere. It is crucial to understand that this ability can only be applied to situations where a hero is “destroyed”, meaning that they are discarded from play through the placement of a final damage token. This means that Landroval cannot be used to save Tactics Boromir or Caldara, for example, after they are purposely discarded as part of using their abilities. Understanding the difference between “destroyed” and “discarded” is key to grasping why this is the case.

In terms of Landroval’s ability and its usage in gameplay, you can look at it in one of two ways. First, it can serve as a valuable emergency backup in case one of your heroes is destroyed during the normal course of play. This can be particularly useful when you don’t have healing available, and can serve as an alternative form of shadow/treachery cancellation when dealing with effects that deal direct damage and might unexpectedly kill a hero. On the other hand, you can also use Landroval as part of an intentional strategy to allow one hero to soak up tons of damage and come back into play when they have reached their limit. Since Landroval removes all damage tokens but one when he brings a hero back into play, his ability acts as a form of de facto healing. The best candidate for this strategy is Beorn. With 10 hit points, he can soak up 10 points of damage and then be resurrected by Landroval, with 9 hit points available for the second go-around. Since Beorn doesn’t exhaust to defend, this combination allows him to become the ultimate tank (this is a variation on the core strategy of my Blaze of Glory Beorn deck, which uses Fortune or Fate instead). Note that Beorn is “immune to player card effects”, but once he is destroyed, this text becomes void, which means that Landroval’s ability can then work on him.

Of course, while the utility of Landroval is clear, I often have left him on the cutting room floor because of his high cost. Fortunately, there are a few options available that can allow you to get usage out of his ability more often. First, Elf-stone, a fantastic attachment released in The Black Riders expansion, has dramatically expanded the ability of players to get expensive allies into play more frequently. Although Elf-stone is a Lore card, it can easily fit into a Lore/Tactics deck to allow you to get Landroval into play for a low, low cost of 1 resource. Second, the classic event, Sneak Attack, can also work if you are simply interested in Landroval’s ability and not necessarily using him as an ally. Since Landroval’s resurrection effect triggers as long as he is in play, you can Sneak Attack him into play during the combat phase (or whenever you anticipate the destruction of a hero) and he will be present to save the day. Of course, the problem with this approach is that you need to know when to use it, and so it works best for the intentionally built Landroval decks rather than those that put him in a safety valve role. Third, A Very Good Tale, like Elf-stone, is another option for getting Landroval into play permanently without having to pay for him. The problem is that this combination won’t work that consistently as you have to shuffle your deck and draw 5 random cards from it. Thus, this approach is a bit less reliable than the first two. Of course, a final option is to simply load up on traditional resource generation. Horn of Gondor, combined with the natural tendency of Eagle allies to leave play, can help produce the resources needed to pay for Landroval, and this is a great strategy as it can all be done with Tactics cards. Radagast could also provide assistance if you are looking to pay for Landroval conventionally, but he is expensive himself, so it may be a bit counterproductive.

Leaving aside Landroval’s ability, how does he stack up as an ally? With 1 willpower, 3 attack, 1 defense, and 4 hit points, his  main function is likely as an attacker, and he can fill this role well. In fact, Landroval has equal stats to Legolas! In addition, if you have Support of the Eagles in play, Landroval’s high attack can help bolster the attached hero’s combat capability. Of course, Vassal of the Windlord can do the same thing for only 1 resource, but that ally is much more fragile and expendable. Since Landroval has sentinel and is fairly hearty (4 hit points) for an ally, he can also serve as a credible defender, even with only 1 defense. Keep in mind that if Landroval’s ability is used, then he has to return to your hand, and you will have to find a way to get him back into play all over again. Alternatively, if you have a copy of Eagles of the Misty Mountains in play, you can turn him into a facedown attachment to help buff that ally instead when the fateful moment arrives.

Altogether, Landroval is an eminently useful ally that is hampered by a high cost, although the expense is good design, in my opinion. After all, it should be difficult to save a hero from death. In many cases, it makes perfect sense to leave Landroval out of a deck, even if it is focused on Eagles, because a well-designed deck should not result in hero death anyway (and if it does, you are probably on your way to defeat in most cases). However, when facing the tougher challenges posed by Nightmare scenarios, Gen Con packs, and the tough quests from Heirs of Numenor, Landroval might just make the difference between defeat and victory. With this in mind, along with the potential of building around his resurrection ability with someone like Beorn, Landroval’s worth is quite clear.

Verdict: Gem


Got a suggestion for a future Card Spotlight? Let me know below! Found an innovative use for Landroval or have a memorable Landroval story to share? Don’t hesitate to sound off!

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15 Comments
  1. Mithrandir1119 permalink

    Completely forgot about that card, and have been playing with Elf Stone for a while now. Time to bring it back!

  2. You mentioned Radagast, who is one of my favorite (from the book as well as from the PJ adaptation). I rarely use him, but probably should use him more. Could you cover the card of Radagast? 🙂

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      That’s a great idea! I wouldn’t be surprised to see a Radagast Card Spotlight soon…

  3. I didn’t know that Landroval not runs with Beorn’s hability or Caldara’s hability. It is totally new for me…. Good point.

  4. Glowwyrm permalink

    Love the card spotlights and agree about Landroval. At least one copy makes it into every tactics-heavy deck I play, and he’ll see even more table time now thanks to Elf Stone.

    Two suggestions for card spotlights are Untroubled by Darkness and Rain of Arrows. They are two of my favorite cards that can absolutely save you in a pinch, but they don’t seem to get much love in the decks I see people building. Exhausting Vassal of the Windlord for a Rains of Arrows is a favorite card combo of mine, effectively picking off/softening up a bunch of enemies. My high point with the card was destroying eight orcs in the Over the Misty Mountains Grim with a double Rain of Arrows from Bard and Legolas.

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      Nice! Both of those cards are definitely in the queue for a Card Spotlight. Thanks for the suggestions! It seems like Rain of Arrows is going to get even better soon with some of those Silvan cards coming into the card pool.

  5. Gryphon Tracks permalink

    My latest deck is a tri-sphere hobbit deck with heavy Eagle support, and I’ve found Landroval an essential ally not only for his own abilities but also because he makes a great target for Support of the Eagles. Giving your favorite hero +3 ATK is nothing to sneeze at. And even when he dies he will help boost an EOTMM. He’s expensive, but he pays for himself many times in the average game.

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      Yes, Landroval definitely could be very useful to save those squishy Hobbits. His ability is also quite thematic. I would love to see more unique Eagle characters in the future.

  6. Phate999 permalink

    “It is crucial to understand that this ability can only be applied to situations where a hero is ‘destroyed’, meaning that they are discarded from play through the placement of a final damage token. This means that Landroval cannot be used to save Tactics Boromir or Caldara, for example, after they are purposely discarded as part of using their abilities. Understanding the difference between “destroyed” and “discarded” is key to grasping why this is the case.”

    I respectfully disagree here. Here is why. As you said (and this is ironic for me) “…situations where a hero is ‘destroyed’, meaning that they are DISCARDED”… I will stop there. You said “discarded”. This is a key word here. Discarded. You know, come to think of it, both Boromir and Caldara use that word too. Discard; the present tense of discarded. Same word though huh?

    Whether a hero takes sufficient damage to be “destroyed” or is “discarded” by an action
    (or an encounter card), the hero is “discarded” to the discard pile. Same ending destination. Landroval saves in either case, IMO. And I will continue to play it that way, since I don’t play in tournaments, and because of thematic reasons. If I were to make my own errata for Landroval it would say: “Response: Before a Hero would leave play for any reason, return Landroval…” and this would end the mystery and fit thematically.

    Doing damage to kill the Hero and THEN Landroval coming into to save makes no sense. They are already dead. I think his ability should be an interrupt to anything that would make a hero leave play. Face it. This would not make His ability much stronger, really. But it would make more sense. And that makes sense to me.

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      Yeah, I based this statement based on the official ruling from the designers and how they have differentiated between “destroyed” as a special form of discard that can only be triggered by a character receiving damage tokens equal to their hit points.

      • Phate999 permalink

        I hear you. That’s part of the beauty of this game. We, as players, can (carefully) alter the game rules to our liking. I agree that, the designers made a character take damage to kill them, only to have the big bird swoop in to gather the corpse from the ground.

  7. Phate999 permalink

    Gwaihir! Not crazy about the 5 cost, but glad to see another eagle to add to my favorite mono-Tactics deck build. Concept: Eagles and dealing direct damage, killing a lot of enemies before you even have to block. This is especially effective on enemies with 2-3 HP as they take 1 damage from Thalin upon entering the staging area. Then Gondorian Spearman often times finish them off without having to block, especially with Spear of the Citadel attached. Beorning Beekeeper + Thalin can wreck the Staging Area clogged with enemies. Farmer Maggot can wreck anything left alive that is attacking you, especially if the engagement cost is higher. Of course you also have Quick Strike and Feint, of which you can recycle with Hama. Hands Upon the Bow is awesome to use before questing is resolved. And then on top of all that, you have the Eagles. They are still very formidable combat specialists.

    Forth Eagles, Damage Dawn!

    Hero (3)
    Hama (TLD) x1
    Legolas (Core) x1
    Thalin (Core) x1

    Ally (25)
    Descendant of Thorondor (THoEM) x3
    Eagles of the Misty Mountains (RtM) x3
    Landroval (AJtR) x2
    Vassal of the Windlord (TDM) x3
    Winged Guardian (THfG) x3
    Farmer Maggot (TBR) x2
    Gondorian Spearman (Core) x3
    Beorning Beekeeper (CatC) x3
    Gandalf (Core) x3

    Attachment (15)
    Spear of the Citadel (HON) x3
    Horn of Gondor (Core) x3
    Mighty Prowess (TDF) x3
    Rohan Warhorse (VOI) x2
    Black Arrow (OtD) x1
    Support of the Eagles (RtM) x3

    Event (10)
    The Eagles Are Coming! (THfG) x3
    Feint (Core) x2
    Hands Upon the Bow (SaF) x3
    Quick Strike (Core) x2

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      I can’t wait to get a hold of Gwaihir, and I’m really hoping that we get at least 1 or 2 more Eagle cards sometime soon. I really loved Eagle decks, but haven’t played them for awhile, simply because nothing has come out to support them for a long time. New cards would bring some new life to them.

      • Phate999 permalink

        I agree. I still love them. But there needs to be a couple more of them to make a complete deck based on them. The other one I am looking forward to is the “ents” or tree guys. I see having a creature deck with Radagast (and his rabbit sled!) with eagles and tree people one day. Maybe even a Hero version of Radagast. His rabbit sled would be Lore, unique, and cost 3, adding +2 Willpower or +4 if attached to Radagast. 🙂

  8. sweetnesswhachacha permalink

    Good article!

    I think you hit it on the head. This card is amazing, but 5 cost is huge and the reason he doesn’t find his way into decks

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