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Celebrimbor’s Secret: Hero Review

by on December 2, 2014


Galadriel has arrived! Let all the heralds cry out the news and let all the bards sing her praises! To say I have strong feelings about this brand new hero is a bit of an understatement, as I wrote a whole article about her back in May when she was merely spoiled, which is a bit of a departure from my normal way of doing things. Now that Celebrimbor’s Secret has been released, I was slightly tempted to simply direct readers back to that piece for my thoughts on Galadriel and move on to the other player cards. However, the true test of any card is in the playing. We can all talk all day long about a card until we’re blue in a face, but actually using it in the heat of battle is the only way of knowing its real strengths and weaknesses. I’ve been slavish about not playing cards until they are actually released, merely as a personal means of preserving as much anticipation for the game as possible, but now that I’ve gotten my hands on the latest AP, I’ve been able to put Galadriel through a trial by fire (don’t worry, no Galadriels were harmed in the making of this article). How did she do? And has she met my expectations or somehow fallen short? Read on to find out!


* Galadriel (Spirit Hero, 9 threat, 4 willpower, 0 attack, 0 defense, 4 hit points):


Galadriel is quite the complex hero, with three separate pieces of game text, one of which is actually a built-in disadvantage. This new hero enhances the effectiveness of other allies, reduces threat, and provides card draw, but also is completely barred from directly participating in questing and combat:

Galadriel cannot quest, attack, or defend. Allies you control do not exhaust to commit to the quest during the round they enter play.

Action: Exhaust Galadriel to choose a player. That player reduces his threat by 1 and draws 1 card. (Limit once per round.)

Let’s tackle the bad first. Galadriel is only the second hero to have a negative effect, with Spirit Glorfindel being the other. I find Galadriel’s to be much more restrictive, since she is completely barred from taking part in the most important areas of play. In fact, if I was feeling particularly uncharitable, I could call Galadriel a glorified attachment, as she can exhaust to provide some nifty effects (and has a nice passive effect), but can’t actually do the questing and combat that other heroes and even allies can. To take this line of thought even further, playing with Galadriel is like starting the game with only 2 heroes (if you’re using 3), although Galadriel does at least provide normal resource generation. In terms of theme, this restriction is a brilliant move. Galadriel was a great force for good in The Lord of the Rings, but she did not leave Lorien until the very end of the War of the Ring, and played her part by providing rest, inspiration, hope and crucial assistance in the form of gifts to the fellowship, not by jumping into the fray herself. Thus, it wouldn’t feel quite right to have her traipsing about in the swamps of The Nin-in-Eilph or getting to grips with some lowly, filthy orc.

In game terms, though, I think it’s sometimes tempting to minimize this negative effect in order to focus in on the strengths of this hero. However, it is important to take into account just how reliant Galadriel is on her ring, Nenya. [Note: I usually try to take each card in a pack and analyze it purely on its own merits, but it’s impossible to separate Galadriel and Nenya and have any meaningful discussion about this hero, so I won’t even make the attempt.] While Glorfindel can be dependent on Light of Valinor, and other heroes can sometimes be dependent on their own particular attachments, whether we’re talking about Elrond and Vilya or Gandalf and Wizard Pipe, I find Galadriel to be the greatest offender in this regard. Those other heroes can still play a part in questing or combat, even Glorfindel can contribute his willpower if you’re willing to take a simple threat increase, but Galadriel is the only one to be completely locked out of participation as a character without the proper attachment. Only when Nenya is in play can Galadriel add her willpower to another character’s and aid with questing. Against many quests, this isn’t an insurmountable obstacle. With careful deck building and strategic use of Galadriel’s other abilities to make up for this disadvantage, you can eventually build the kind of setup that can compensate for losing out on the actions of a third hero, or at least tread water until you draw the ring. On the other hand, intense scenarios that hit you hard from the beginning may beat down a Galadriel player before there is any chance to respond or recover.

So just how easy is it to compensate for this weakness? Are you completely at the whim of your opening hand? Yes and no. There’s nothing you can do really to ensure that Nenya will be in your opening hand, but throwing in 3 copies does give you a decent chance (close to 60% in a 50 card deck if you don’t want to click the link). From there, a card like Master of the Forge can help to bring it out quicker, and is good enough at his job to be considered a key addition to a Galadriel deck if you’re using Lore. Galadriel’s own mirror can also help with the fetching as well. That failing, simple card draw, including Galadriel’s own ability, can help to do the job. There may simply be games where you strike out over several rounds and are just never able to get going, but generally the laws of probability should be on your side if you build in a few of these possibilities to your deck. Since Galadriel is fairly one-dimensional even when she gets Nenya (indirect questing only) and can’t help with combat at all, it is imperative to choose the other 2 heroes that will accompany her carefully. At least one of them should be strong in the willpower department, unless you are playing multiplayer or are basing your strategy on dumping strong questing allies into play quickly. Alternatively, you could have 2 heroes that are well-rounded and have some in-built action advantage. In fact, readying effects of any kind are invaluable for the 2 heroes other than Galadriel, since they help to mitigate the initial action disadvantage.

Now that enough time has been spent discussing the dark side of Galadriel, let’s explore the positive potential of this hero. First, the passive effect that allows allies to quest without exhausting during the round they enter play is fantastic. The most obvious synergy is with Galadriel’s husband and partner-in-crime, Celeborn, as he boosts Silvan allies’ stats during the round they enter play, and Galadriel allows them to get the most out of this boost. However, this ability is plenty powerful and intriguing even without Celeborn on the table. Just imagine Core Gandalf entering play and being able to both quest for 4 and attack or defend for 4. With such power on offer, I might be tempted to load up on Sneak Attack, if I had Leadership available, and recreate some of the great utility of the OHaUH version of Gandalf without the threat increase. Other traits that receive multiple global stat boosts, such as Dwarves, Gondor, or Outlands can also heavily benefit from the inclusion of Galadriel. Without these bonuses, allies with solid, well-balanced stats should be the focus of a Galadriel deck, with Faramir, Elrond and Haldir being good examples. However, even a small fry like Erebor Hammersmith works well, as 1 willpower, 1 attack, and 1 defense means that he can quest for 1 and still be available to contribute a point to attack or soak up an attack. Since this ability keys off of entering play, having some effects around that can get groups of allies into play quickly, such as A Very Good Tale, can make for some big swing turns. All in all, this global granting of action advantage to allies, albeit in a temporary fashion, is quite strong, although somewhat dependent on the available allies, and something we haven’t seen from a hero before. I might even be tempted to try out some shenanigans with Born Aloft to get full use out of Galadriel’s bonus, especially for stronger allies.

Beyond the ally bonus, Galadriel can exhaust to lower one player’s threat by 1 and allow them to draw 1 card. This is simple, understated, but highly effective. Especially in solo play, this can even be game-changing. If you are able to use Galadriel’s ability every round, this essentially negates the normal threat increase of 1 during the refresh phase, meaning that you can freeze your threat at its starting level, barring threat increases from the encounter deck. This is even leaving aside further threat reduction from other player cards. Of course, the situation becomes a bit more diluted in multiplayer, but even there the ability is quite useful, helping to grant threat reduction and card draw to deck types that are usually quite lacking in those areas. Galadriel’s threat reduction also provides some intriguing options in combination with heroes that rely on threat gain. Tactics Boromir, for example, is a fantastic hero that can trade threat for action advantage. Galadriel can help to reduce the impact of this constant threat gain and can essentially grant 1 “free” action to Boromir each turn. The same logic applies to pairing Galadriel with Grima, where the former’s threat reduction can consistently cancel out Grima’s threat increase, meaning that you can get all the cost reduction of Grima without any of the pain. I definitely look forward to exploring the interaction between this unlikely, but potentially powerful, pairing. If you were feeling so inclined and aren’t sick to death of Dwarves, you could also pair Galadriel with Nori. Together, they could actually drop your threat throughout the course of a game far below its starting level, and I’ve already discussed how Galadriel can benefit an archetype like Dwarves through her passive ability. Galadriel’s ability can even make a mockery of a quest like Shadow and Flame by keeping a player permanently at 0 threat and avoiding Durin’s Bane until they choose to take it on. While the threat reduction is perhaps more eye-catching, the card draw is quite useful too. Again, if you are able to use Galadriel’s action every round in solo play, you’ve essentially got the equivalent of a Bilbo, with a bunch of other strong effects wrapped into the same package. In multiplayer, opening up the right options for the player who needs it can benefit everyone, whether it’s helping someone get to that vital A Test of Will, an attachment they need, or a key card of any kind. Although Galadriel’s action requires her to exhaust, she’s not really allowed to do anything else anyway, other than use Nenya, so this isn’t actually as much of a cost as it would be for other heroes.

This brings us to the final piece of the Galadriel puzzle: using her willpower through Nenya. 4 willpower is quite substantial and one of the primary reasons that Eowyn remains one of the best heroes around (along with her discard-for-willpower ability, which is quite good as well). Now Eowyn has finally met her match in another hero with 4 willpower, although the lady of Rohan still holds the advantage in pure questing ability, since she can commit to the quest from turn one without attaching anything or spending a single resource. However, Galadriel does have some advantages of her own. One is that she actually grants her willpower as a boost to another character instead of directly committing to the quest. This usually is a distinction without much meaning, but it can insulate Galadriel from cards like Blocking Wargs that target questing characters. It also means that Galadriel can give her willpower to an ally during the round that it enters play, since that ally will not have to exhaust because of her passive effect, and then it can still be available for other tasks. This can prevent the need for heroes to quest at all, which may be useful for certain situations. Then again, Galadriel could throw her willpower onto someone like Tactics Boromir, who could use his readying to quest and engage in combat, or a hero like Thalin or Theodred that quests every round because of their abilities but normally don’t have much willpower to contribute. Ultimately, the most useful aspect of Galadriel and Nenya, though, is the ability to add the willpower as an action after staging and before quest resolution. This makes it a powerful tool for pacing, allowing you to only use the extra willpower if you really need it, or potentially to under-quest in order to avoid moving to the next stage at the wrong time, and then using Galadriel/Nenya to make up the difference if you quest unsuccessfully or come up a little shorter than you intended. Unfortunately, Nenya is a quest action, so you can’t use it to boost willpower for combat in quests like The Stone of Erech or The Druadan Forest. However, this ability is great for quests that feature willpower based tests during the quest phase, such as the hide tests of Shadow of the Past or the escape tests of The Dead Marshes. It also works well when it is beneficial for players to quest with as few characters as possible, such as to minimize the threat of The Lonely Mountain in the quest of the same name or the direct damage of a treachery like We Cannot Get Out from The Road Darkens.

Since Galadriel can’t participate in normal parts of the game and will only exhaust to use her ring or action, it makes sense to me to try to take advantage of her unconventional nature as much as possible. For example, Spare Hood and Cloak could be a way to use Galadriel to give another hero (or ally) some action advantage when needed, and then that character could ready her on a different turn so that she could use both Nenya and her action. For a similar reason, Galadriel is a good recipient of Silver Lamp, as you can hold off on exhausting her for her action until after shadow cards are dealt. Finally, don’t forget that Galadriel gives you access to Elrond’s Counsel without the need for Spirit Glorfindel.

Overall, it’s clear that Galadriel is a fantastic hero. At 9 threat, she has low enough threat to fit into a variety of decks, and her ability to fundamentally change the impact of threat, especially in solo play, opens up a new range of player decks, from Silvan builds to Secrecy decks that can stay permanently in Secrecy to Boromir/Grima partnerships and much more. Because of her ability to freeze threat, she can even make previously untenable high starting threat decks feasible.I n multiplayer, Galadriel can fill a useful support role that can help everyone be successful. Unlike a couple of other powerful heroes of the past, though, Galadriel cannot be accused of being broken or overpowered, as she does come with a substantial drawback. Those who use Galadriel will have to think carefully about deck building and play strategy against the more difficult quests, especially those that ramp up quickly. This includes attachment fetching events and card draw more generally to quickly reach Nenya, or a deck design aimed at eliminating the need for Galadriel’s willpower at all. Galadriel is certainly a good candidate for Unexpected Courage, as she could use both her action and willpower each round, although it is also possible to simply forego the readying and make the choice each round. It is easy enough to hold off on using Galadriel’s action until after staging when you will know whether or not her willpower is needed. With all this in mind, Galadriel is a strong addition to the hero pool and she joins that limited set of heroes that can be said to have a huge impact on the meta because of her threat management ability.

Versatility: ♦♦♦♦◊

Efficiency: ♦♦♦♦♦

Uniqueness: ♦♦♦♦♦

Possible Attachment Choices: Unexpected Courage, Nenya, Mirror of Galadriel, Silver Lamp


Usually, the final pack of a cycle is reserved for the marquee hero, so it was a bit strange to see Galadriel come in the penultimate pack instead. However, you’ll hear no complaints here. Fortunately, the rest of the pack doesn’t disappoint either, as Celebrimbor’s Secret is packed with some strong player cards, as we’ll see soon.

Readers, what are your thoughts on Galadriel? How necessary is Nenya? Would you use Unexpected Courage on Galadriel? What are your favorite Galadriel decks?


From → Reviews

  1. Dave permalink

    Copied/pasted conclusion from a previous hero 🙂

  2. Galadriel is amazing. I love her so much. I tend to use her in decks that don’t need her willpower (2-handed helps with this) so they don’t rely on Nenya as much, which allows me to make more use of her action. This also means I can use 2 or fewer copies of Nenya and I don’t need to include Unexpected Courage just for her, so she isn’t filling up the deck as much with attachments specifically for her.

    I’m confused about what you were saying with Sneak Attack + Gandalf. If you use Sneak Attack, he’ll only be in play for a single phase before he’s pulled back into your hand, so he won’t gain anything by not exhausting to quest. I prefer to just use OHaUH Gandalf in conjunction with Galadriel, even though her ability that keeps allies from exhausting to quest on the first round is mute, because she negates half of the threat increase that he requires to stay in play. An OHaUH Gandalf that won’t threat you out in a couple rounds is extremely powerful!

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      Eh, I didn’t explain it very well, but the idea is to get 3 double uses out of Gandalf with Galadriel’s bonus and then 3 normal uses with Sneak Attack when you need a surgical strike (or surgical quest).

      • Robin Munn permalink

        But if you get double use out of him, you played him normally (at cost 5) so he’s getting discarded at the end of the round, right? The Sneak Attacks would need to come first, before the cost-5 plays, in order to get full effect.

        • TalesfromtheCards permalink

          Yes, but you’re not going to get all 3 copies of Gandalf or all 3 copies of Sneak Attack at the same time. When you choose to get the double use and when you choose to use the Sneak Attack will depend upon the game situation and how many copies of each you have in hand at the moment. The “then” in my comment above is not implying sequence, but two different uses.

          • Steven A permalink

            You could also potentially get a sort of double use with a Sneak Attack by bringing him in to quest without exhausting and then exhausting him for A Very Good Tale or Word of Command (the latter perhaps used to fetch another Sneak Attack so you can do the same thing again next round?)

            • Kostas permalink

              Over Hill and Under Hill Gandalf is also very good. You lose the awesome effects of Core Gandalf, but with Galadriel’s threat reduction ability you can keep him around for a few turns easily.

              • TalesfromtheCards permalink

                Yeah, Kostas, I’m a big fan of OHaUH Gandalf. In my opinion, he can actually be more game-changing than Core Gandalf and Galadriel helps lessen the burden a bit.

            • TalesfromtheCards permalink

              Good point, Steven! Word of Command would definitely be a good shout in such a deck.

  3. Gwaihir the Windlord permalink

    Galadriel is definitely one of my top five heroes. I recently created paired Silvan decks with a friend, one for questing, one for combat. I used Galadriel/Haldir/Celeborn and focused on encounter deck control and questing while my friend went with Mablung/Idraen Mablung and used the Tactics Silvan cards and strong defenders. Bellach didn’t stand a chance.

    • Gwaihir the Windlord permalink

      Legolas! Idraen/Mablung/Legolas! WordPress really needs to have a way to edit comments.

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      I have a feeling I’m definitely going to be trying out Galadriel in a lot of different decks over the next few months. I’ve only done Silvan so far, but I’m looking forward to the other possibilities.

  4. Thaddeus Papke permalink

    She’s pretty keen. Gandalf is the only other hero I’ve been as excited to try out in a long time. Speaking of which, I’m now really anxious to try a “White Council” deck with her, Gandalf, and Elrond. That will have to wait, though, since I’m still feeling out my Galadriel and Celeborn led Silvan deck.

  5. hazeydavey permalink

    She works extremely well with Elrond in a deck designed to quickly find both of their rings. I think she has so much utility, I am going to play exclusively Galadriel decks for an undetermined length of time!

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      I’m really interested in seeing what creative decks Galadriel can be part of, and I’m always glad to have a hero that is so ripe for experimentation.

  6. MPK permalink

    It is true that the last pack in the cycle usually has a powerful and iconic hero – Dain, Elrond, Theoden. The fact that both Galadriel and Celeborn have already been released makes the anticipation for the as of yet unrevealed hero even greater!

    Given this cycle’s focus on the silvan train, I think Thranduil is a good candidate, though I personally am hoping for Cirdan. If the designers want to start the next cycle off with a bang (in the same way that Dain preceded the Dwarrowdelf cycle), perhaps a Halbarad hero is forthcoming?

    • catastrophic09 permalink

      We already know the last hero will be Rohan.. and I’m starting to wonder if this pack was really meant to be the last pack of this cycle (an early leak on AP titles had it as the last pack) and the hero and player cards were so fantastic it will be hard to beat and what hero can be better than Galadriel? 😉

      • We know the last hero will be Rohan? Where do we know that? Must have missed something.

        • catastrophic09 permalink

          Yeah I’m pretty sure that they said it in the announcement article for that pack.

          • MPK permalink

            You are indeed correct – it is specified in The Antlered Crown news article. In that case… maybe Erkenbrand? Or another version of Theoden himself? Hard to imagine other Rohan characters that would be leadership.

            • As much as I don’t want to see the same hero two cycles in a row, I’m hoping a more viable Theoden hero shows up. Then again, I’m not a huge slave to theme so it could be anyone, but I hope it really brings the Rohan faction something really useful.

              Maybe (s)he’ll give a bonus willpower till the end of the phase to all Rohan characters whenever a Rohan character is discarded…? I think that would fit the Rohan strategy well and would be a fitting way to give a non-overpowered stat boost to Rohan. Of course it doesn’t have to be willpower either; it could be something else or even multiple stats.

              Or it could be none of these! Darn speculation!

  7. catastrophic09 permalink

    She’s amazing! with her ring, mirror and the Ring of Barahir she will be at 7 hit points!! able to take undefended damage quite easily although that seems messed up lol but means she can help in combat 🙂

    And yes the Spare Hood and Cloak and also Strength of Will are good ways to exhaust her for good uses if you’re not using her other abilities.

    So many cool decks can be built with her, she’ll be a highlight for a long time in my decks!! 🙂

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      Ah, yes, I forgot to mention her utility as a damage soaker! I’m sure she won’t mind taking on some damage for the team, and your use of Ring of Barahir is a good one. I’m almost tempted to experiment with Song of Mocking on her plus some hit point boots. A hero could defend and then Galadriel could exhaust Song of Mocking to take on the damage instead, almost providing another pool of hit points for that hero to draw from. Not sure if it would be good enough to make deck space for, but it would be fun!

      • Kjeld permalink

        Paired with Elrond and Self Preservation, it would be a potent defensive solution (easy to Vilya a Citadel Plate that way as well). Especially with Silver Lamp to avoid any unfortunate shadow effects.

        • catastrophic09 permalink

          Yep the Silver Lamp would be very important since you’re frequently punished for taking undefended and if you do this frequently you’ll definitely need healing.

        • Don’t forget Elven Mail. The sentinel will be waster but it costs half as much as Citadel Plate.

      • Thanks for bringing up Song of Mocking. That could come in really handy because in my Silvan deck, Elrond is my main defender, but since my only healing is Silvan Tracker, once he receives a bit of damage I have to start using characters with less defense. If I had Song of Mocking, I could transfer the damage to a Silvan hero that can be healed. Now I just need to find a way to fit it in the deck…

        • TalesfromtheCards permalink

          Song of Mocking does seem to work well with Silvan, given the focus on taking damage/healing as a form of defense.

  8. ishallcallyousting permalink

    I love Galadriel. I built a support/control deck for multiplayer (it stinks in solo) with Galadriel/Spirit Glorfindel/Lore Pippen. It starts at an amazing 20 threat, already in secrecy. I focused on abusing the Palantir on Galadriel to see what was coming from the encounter deck and then using cards like Out of the Wild, Test of Will, and the two new secrecy guys to purge away nasty locations, enemies, and treacheries. If you get setup you see only chump stuff. The deck is amazing against Nightmare scenarios, especially with Thror’s Key, as long as the other deck can do the heavy lifting and actually beat the scenario..Definitely a lot of fun.

    • Galadriel’s ability to KEEP you in secrecy along with allowing your new allies to quest for free, so you can keep a few guys up and ready for something to happen in combat is something that can actually help enable secrecy decks to work much better. If her threat was lower, it’d be a LOT easier to make it work, but it’s still doable because you can actually start with 21 threat and use her ability to drop you down to 20. Sadly there are still very few hero combinations that can work:

      Merry (6)
      Lo Pippin (6)
      Sp Pippin (6)
      Mirlonde (6 if used with another Lore hero)
      Glorfindel (5)

      The following can only be used with Glorfindel
      Fatty Bolger (7)
      Eleanor (7)
      Frodo Baggins (7)
      Bifur (7)

      If you’re willing, though, you can stuff your deck full of Elrond’s Counsels and count on it showing up in your opening hand (or at least within the first couple rounds), which would allow you to start at 24 threat and still be in secrecy on the first turn.

  9. sweetnesswhachacha permalink

    What an amazing thematic and interesting hero! I agree, she is useful in a ton of decks. The first being of course her husband and the silvan archetype. I read it more that her draw/threat ability (in terms of mechanics) as giving her value while you wait to grab nenya, getting extra cards and keeping your threat low while you get your engine set up.

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