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Card Spotlight: Second Breakfast

by on April 17, 2014

second breakfast

If there’s one phrase that is guaranteed to bring Hobbits to the forefront of one’s brain, surely “second breakfast” is in the running. It didn’t take long for this lovable eccentricity of the little folk to be incarnated in card form, as Second Breakfast was released as part of the Conflict at the Carrock Adventure Pack. Since then, you’d be hard pressed to find many decks out there that feature this Leadership event, as it appears that most players are quite content with just one breakfast. I would include myself in this group, as I can surely count the times I’ve actually included this card in a deck or used it on one hand. When this is the case with any card, it becomes the perfect fodder for the Card Spotlight, that ruthless instrument of truth that separates the gems from the coasters. Is this a Second Breakfast worth having? Or should you stick to those taters you had for first breakfast?

Second Breakfast is a 1-cost Leadership event that centers around attachment retrieval/recursion:

Action: Each player returns the topmost attachment card from his discard pile to his hand. 

If this card reminds you of the Lore ally, Erebor Hammersmith, it should, as that character has an almost identical effect. Of course, with the Hammersmith, for a single extra resource, you get an ally with great stats for your trouble in addition to the ability. Still, as I emphasized in the last Card Spotlight, having a superior version of an effect in one sphere doesn’t necessarily make a similar, weaker effect in another sphere obsolete. Thus, it’s important to evaluate Second Breakfast on its own terms.


On the face of it, attachment retrieval/recursion sounds like an incredibly useful tool. Attachments, as exemplified by such staples as Steward of Gondor, Unexpected Courage, Gondorian Shield, and Light of Valinor, tend to be some of the most powerful cards in the game. Their relative permanence distinguishes them from events, and their ability to enhance the strongest characters on the board (heroes, though some attachments can help out allies) is crucial. However, this permanence is also what works to undermine Second Breakfast. Cards that bring events back from the discard pile are marvelously useful, as events are one-time use effects and thus are constantly being discarded. By contrast, attachments leave play much less frequently, and thus a card like Second Breakfast finds far fewer targets than something like Book of Eldacar, Hama, or Dwarven Tomb. To make the picture a bit bleaker, Second Breakfas tis further restricted by only grabbing the topmost attachment in players’ discard piles, rather than allowing them to search for the one they want. Timing thus becomes key as Second Breakfast must be drawn and in hand when the desired card is the topmost attachment.

Still, there are two main cases when attachment retrieval/recursion becomes useful: when the encounter deck discards them and when an attachment is disposable. There is a third, less common, possibility as well, which involves card effects that discard cards from the top of player decks (this archetype is generally focused around Spirit, but it could be possible to introduce Leadership to allow “discard draw” of attachments). To take the first case, attachment hate on the part of encounter decks is not as widespread as some other effects (direct damage, attack boosting, exhaustion, etc.), but it does pop up in a few quests. Some notable examples are the Black Uruks from Khazad-dum/Dwarrowdelf cyle,  Orc Raiders from Road to Rivendell, and the dreadful Wind-whipped Rain from The Hobbit: Over Hill and Under Hill. When you actually pore through the available quests out there, attachment hate is actually not terribly common. However, for those scenarios that do feature such effects, Second Breakfast could surely play a role in the absence of access to Lore and the superior Hammersmith (or if you really only need to grab Spirit attachments, Dwarven Tomb can do the job).


The second use for Second Breakfast, as an intentional means of recycling certain disposable attachments, is more intriguing and potentially more broadly useful. Which one-use attachments make the best partners for Second Breakfast? There are only a few attachments that fall into this category, but probably the best fit in terms of gameplay and theme is Cram. Chowing down on some Cram for Second Breakfast may not be the most appetizing meal in history, but it certainly makes more sense than feasting on a discarded Unexpected Courage! In gameplay terms, Cram is a fantastic 0-cost Leadership attachment that readies the attached hero once and then is discarded. When playing Leadership without access to Spirit, readying is often at a premium and Cram can play a central role. Unfortunately, such readying has to be used wisely, as even with 3 copies in a deck, you’re not guaranteed to see them all. Thus, Second Breakfast could perhaps serve as 4th, 5th, and 6th copies of Cram, assuming of course that the stars align and Cram sits as the topmost attachment when Second Breakfast is in your hand. A final important aspect of Cram is that it has a natural sphere match with Second Breakfast itself, which most of the other candidates I’ll mention don’t (with the exception of Tome of Atanatar and Path of Need). Beyond Cram, Healing Herbs is another possibility. While munching on Herbs might make for an unsatisfying course, it is a healthy one, as this disposable 0-cost Lore attachment can be discarded to heal all damage on 1 character (it also requires the exhaustion of the attached character). Second Breakfast could be used to get additional uses out of Healing Herbs, similar to Cram. However, such focused healing on one character will really only be necessary for certain scenarios (those featuring plenty of direct damage or strong enemies) or certain deck types, and thus Healing Herbs isn’t as strong a match as Cram.

Good Meal and Miruvor are two other attachments that might fit the bill thematically and mechanically. The former is a Hobbit-centric Neutral attachment that can be discarded to lower the cost of an event by 2. Thus, if you used Second Breakfast to retrieve Good Meal, you’d essentially be paying 1 resource to save 2, netting only a 1 cost discount. In most cases, this would not be worth the effort and deck space. Miruvor, on the other hand, is a highly useful Spirit attachment that allows players to choose from a menu of choices: readying, extra willpower, resource generation, and recycling Miruvor itself. Eventually Miruvor will be discarded, as continually putting it on top of your deck will mean you’re not drawing other cards, and thus will be a poor choice unless you have card draw available or a ton of good cards in hand already. However, Second Breakfast allows you to have your cake and eat it too (or have your Elvish wine and drink it too, in this case), by using 2 abilities from Miruvor, getting it back into hand AND still getting your normal card draw next turn. Thus, Second Breakfast and Miruvor is almost as fantastic a combination as Cram, although it loses marks because Spirit already has a possible way to get back Miruvor through Dwarven Tomb.

Beyond possible food items, Second Breakfast might work well with the mono-sphere Record attachments that were released as part of the Against the Shadow cycle. There is one for each sphere: Map of Earnil for Spirit, Book of Eldacar for Tactics, Scroll of Isildur for Lore, and Tome of Atanatar for Leadership, and they all work the same way: discard the Record to play an event from your discard pile (with a cost discount for the attachment itself based on how close you are to mono-sphere). While I wouldn’t recommend eating a map, book, scroll, or tome for breakfast or any other meal, this use of Second Breakfast does work in game terms to allow you to get multiple applications out of these recursion tools. For example, you could use Book of Eldacar to play a copy of Feint in your discard pile, then use Second Breakfast to grab the Book back into your possession. The limitation of this combo is that the recycled event is placed on the bottom of your deck after use, so you wouldn’t be able to play that same event again even if you get your Record back with Second Breakfast (unless there are multiple copies in your discard pile). Still, intrepid souls can create some “super recursion” decks with Second Breakfast in conjunction with the Records.

The final category of attachments that could form partnerships with Second Breakfast includes those that attach to an enemy or location and thus may be discarded with them when they leave play: traps, Path of Need, Thror’s Key, Elf-stone and Ancient Mathom. Of these, I find Path of Need to be the most tempting. Regarding traps, it certainly would be useful to recycle Ranger Spikes or Poisoned Stakes, but Lore already has access to Anborn and Erebor Hammersmith for that purpose. A similar logic applies to Elf-stone (although perhaps a Lore/Leadership build could use the Hammermsith and Second Breakfast in conjunction to endlessly recycle Elf-stone and get a flurry of high-cost allies into play). Thror’s Key and Ancient Mathom suffer from the “Spirit problem” in that Dwarven Tomb is a better and more flexible card than Second Breakfast for the same cost. In my experience, you also generally don’t need more of either card anyway. It thus falls to Path of Need, that enigma of cards, to save Second Breakfast’s bacon. Path of Need can potentially be a game-changing card, as while it is attached to the active location, all heroes don’t have to exhaust to do anything! Questing, attacking, and defending are all fair game. The problem is that this effect goes away as soon as the location is explored, which usually happens quickly with powerful questing at your fingertips and the need to actually put progress on the quest itself eventually.  With a limit of 1 copy per deck, once Path of Need is gone, it’s gone…usually. This is where Second Breakfast comes in, as it could allow you to get multiple uses out of this attachment in a single game. Of course the problem here is the same problem that any Path of Need combo always faces, and that is that 1 copy limit itself, as you can’t be sure of seeing it in any particular game unless you include a ton of card draw and/or fetching through something like Word of Command. Still, the potential is there and it makes sense to include Second Breakfast if you’re going to include Path of Need.

path of need

One aspect of this card that I haven’t yet specifically addressed that is actually a plus in its favor over a similar card like Erebor Hammersmith is that it allows every single player to grab their topmost attachment instead of just one player. Thus, it is conceivable that in a 3 or 4 player game, several players could all include Cram in their decks, with a single copy of Second Breakfast bringing them all back (given the right timing). The same could potentially apply to Miruvor or something like Elf-stone as well. This could be a fruitful avenue for experimentation, although my hunch is that the coordination and timing required will likely make it more of a niche option than a widely applicable strategy.

Unfortunately, even the tastiest meal must end at some point, and no feast can go on forever (except for one in the Undying Lands perhaps!). Similarly, this bite-sized assessment of Second Breakfast must reach a conclusion. It seems that there are some tantalizing tendrils that if followed far enough might lead to this card being deemed viable. I do think, however, that simple is often best when it comes to pure consistency, and as someone who has played mono-Leadership decks quite a bit, Second Breakfast/Cram seems to be clearest and best use available for this card. The problem is that, as all LOTR LCG players know, especially those with access to the complete card pool (or most of it), cutting down to 50 cards these days is no easy task, and thus it would be pretty hard for me to justify the space Second Breakfast would take up merely to serve as a Cram recycler. Perhaps if I was facing a quest that demanded an abundance of readying effects, then this would be an acceptable cost. However, it doesn’t seem like the best choice in many cases. Other possibilities have been outlined here, and all could be defensible given the right deck or scenario. With that being said, though, Second Breakfast hasn’t done enough, in my opinion, to earn its place at the table, as I would to see a bit more applicability. There is a glimmer of hope on the horizon, however, as there is little doubt that as the card pool expands, more disposable attachments will arise and further attachment hating quests will be released. Until then, I’ll have to pass on the seconds.

Verdict: Coaster


For leftovers, here’s an experimental Second Breakfast deck based around recycling Cram, Elf-stone, and hopefully Path of Need. The Hobbit version of Gandalf makes an appearance to grab that Path of Need through Word of Command. Enjoy!

Hero (3)

Aragorn (TWitW) x1
Sam Gamgee (TBR) x1
Bifur (KD) x1

Ally (21)
Gandalf (OHaUH) x3
Erebor Hammersmith (Core) x3
Bill the Pony (TBR) x3
Dunedain Watcher (TDM) x3
Faramir (Core) x2
Gleowine (Core) x3
Henamarth Riversong (Core) x2
Haldir of Lorien (AJtR) x1
Gildor Inglorion (THoEM) x1

Attachment (16)
Path of Need (FoS) x1
Cram (OHaUH) x3
Hobbit Cloak (TBR) x3
Steward of Gondor (Core) x3
Sword that was Broken (TWitW) x3
Elf-stone (TBR) x3

Event (13)
Second Breakfast (CatC) x3
Word of Command (TLD) x3
Daeron’s Runes (FoS) x3
Radagast’s Cunning (Core) x2
Secret Paths (Core) x2


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  1. I had a lot of fun using the Second Breakfast and Cram combo in the Hobbit deck for the Shadow of the Past scenario in Black Riders as it provided all the thematic yumminess I love about the game while providing a key strategic function in readying heroes for those Hide tests. I think that overall however, I have to agree that it’s usually not worth its slot in the deck. 😦

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      If we get more food items, perhaps the long-awaited Lembas, then it will get better in both theme and gameplay!

  2. Glowwyrm permalink

    Awww. I thought that after that long write-up with all the uses of Second Breakfast you would give it a Gem! With 1-2 players, it might not be worth it, but in 3-4 you can do some awesome stuff.

    I wasn’t very high on the card until I started playing mutli-player games on OCTGN recently. It opened up some fun and powerful combos. In one game during the refresh phase, the spirit player discarded Caldara to bring in two allies, Zigil mined to gain resources, then discarded Good Meal from Frodo to pay for Fortune or Fate to bring Caldar back. On the next planning phase, the leadership player discard a Good Meal off Sam to pay for Second Breakfast, bringing both Good Meals back, then the leadership player played a Good Meal on Frodo. the spirit player took their planning phase, played the other good meal and a Map of Earnil, discarded both to play Fortune or Fate and brought back my Eomer, who had been killed by a Striking Tentacle. Two Fortune or Fate plays in one round! Granted, this combo won’t happen every game, but with a little deck coordination, it’s very possible.

    The other great use (as you pointed out) was with Miruvor, which we were using to pass around readying effects to different heroes. Since two players were running spirit, it meant two Miruvors were retrieved (along with whatever else the other players had), which gave the heroes some flexible readying. All the readying from Miruvor helped us breeze through Nightmare Conflict at the Carrock (also a fun game because every single hobbit hero was on the table), because the big attacking heroes were getting multiple swings a turn.

    I understand your verdict, but I respectfully disagree.

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      Thanks for sharing those uses! Second Breakfast is one of those combo niche cards that can get some really interesting combos going, as you mentioned here. I came so close to talking myself into a gem verdict, but gave it the short shrift because of limited flexibility.

  3. Tonskillitis permalink

    I guess you just have to look at the utility of the card- it is rare that this is the card you would most want to draw- many times it will be of limited use. I have used it with some reasonable success with cram and ranger spikes but it is certainly not a powerful card. I suppose it can be thematically amusing to recycle good meals with second breakfasts on Fatty Bolger but I just feel it is a superfluous card 9 times out of 10. Players are forced to make tough deck building decisions these days given the ever-expanding card pool and I feel this sort of situational recursion effect is quite limited. I suppose you could lump it in as a form of card draw but you still have to find a way of getting the attachment into your discard pile in the first place. If a card doesn’t directly boost my stats, give me card draw or resources or lower my threat then it feels a bit of a luxury which is not something that one can afford when facing streamlined nightmare encounter decks- show no mercy for you will receive none!

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      “If a card doesn’t directly boost my stats, give me card draw or resources or lower my threat then it feels a bit of a luxury which is not something that one can afford when facing streamlined nightmare encounter decks- show no mercy for you will receive none!”

      Indeed. I can be much more loose and investigate interesting niche cards like Second Breakfast when I’m playing against standard quests that I have already beaten. However, when it comes to tackling Nightmare, I have to become much more practical and ruthless and, as you say, get rid of all those cards that aren’t immediately upping my power curve.

  4. Mndela permalink

    We mustn’t forget that leadership is the best interactive sphere, more than the adder-resources sphere. Leasership is the less played sphere for alone players, because it is designed for multiplayer. For example, Campfire Tales (for me the most great drawing machine at the moment, but of course, in 4 players), Faramir ally (you pick the player you want to add his bonus…), Parting Gifts, For Gondor, Keen-eye Took, Dawn Take you all… all cards more powerfull when more players are in game.
    Of course Second Breakfast is coaster…, when you play alone or with only one more friend. But in 3 players or …4! It is powerfull, it is GEM. But i understand it is not easy to meet with 4 players and even coordinate a good use for Second Breakfast (but when you reach it, it is very very powerful).

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      Great point. While Leadership can be quite good solo, some niche cards in the sphere that aren’t very good in 1-2 player games become quite amazing in 3-4 player games. This is fitting since Leadership is all about interaction and rallying/supporting others. Unfortunately, because its role is so narrow, I gave it the coaster label, but most coasters can become gems given the right circumstances, Second Breakfast perhaps more so than some others.

      • Glowwyrm permalink

        I think the best thing about the card pool is that there are very few true duds (I’m looking at you Power in the Earth). Almost every card can find some niche use, whether its in multi-player, solo, or a scenario specific use. I don’t mind some of the more niche cards being given a coaster verdict, but, since this is a cooperative game, you can build less powerful decks that make use of some of these niche but fun cards (as you did for Second Breakfast).

        One of the best surprises is that Nightmare mode has made some utility cards very powerful. For example, there are very few locations in standard mode that could scare me into including Thror’s Key or Thror’s Map in a deck. But in Nightmare Mode? They are auto-includes.

  5. jamesarthurharrison permalink

    just to second (breakfast?) the Multiplayer Gem-ness of it! We regularly play three player, and it is not to much hardship to have disposable attachments in each deck; making this a truly excellent card for a leadership support deck… and timing isn’t much of an issue either. So while in general it is not a powerhouse, it has a great non-coaster place in the game 🙂

  6. sweetnesswhachacha permalink

    Yeah, early on I used this, but quickly cut it. I definitely like the idea of being able to use it for path of need, but find that card in and of itself to be fickle because of the things you mentioned.

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