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The Lost Realm: Heroes Review

by on April 7, 2015

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The drought has finally come to an end and an abundant flood has arrived to satiate thirsty consumers! Alas, I speak not of the plight of my California home, but the arrival of The Lost Realm, the newest LOTR LCG deluxe expansion, in stores. While I would appreciate some much-needed rainfall as well, in the interim, I will distract myself with a pleasing new set of player cards. Of course, it is perhaps the chance to try out new heroes that makes such additions to the card pool most exciting, and The Lost Realm brings a fresh version of a familiar face, as well as a brand new character to the fold. But just how good are the Tactics version of Aragorn and Halbarad? Will they soon be forgotten when the next hero on the block arrives? Or do they have true staying power? As always, you’ll just have to read on to find out!

HEROES

* Aragorn (Tactics Hero, 12 threat, 2 willpower, 3 attack, 2 defense, 5 hit points):

Aragorn

Aragorn is the first character to get a third non-Saga hero version. Of course, it’d be difficult to argue that he doesn’t deserve this distinction, as not only is he one of the central characters of The Lord of the Rings, but he also embodied a wide range of roles throughout the story, from skilled tracker to noble ruler to fierce warrior. The Tactics version of Aragorn seeks to personify the latter identity, and it certainly does so with aplomb, encompassing both a defense reduction to enemies and an ability that seeks out and engages enemies as well:

Each enemy engaged with you gets -1 .

Response: After Aragorn participates in an attack that destroys an enemy, choose an enemy not engaged with you and engage that enemy.

Let’s break down Aragorn piece by piece to see whether he justifies inclusion over his Lore and Leadership counterparts. First off, the reduction in the defense of all engaged enemies by one is quite strong by itself. While it may not appear striking at first glance, this essentially translates to Aragorn having a starting attack of four, rather than three, with the exception of enemies that have zero defense and those that are immune to player card effects. This means that Tactics Aragorn actually gives you a bit more in stats than his threat cost of twelve indicates. Of course, this ability goes beyond just “buffing” Aragorn’s own attack, however, as it applies to all engaged enemies whether Aragorn is involved in attacking them or not. This essentially translates into a buffing of another character’s attack when Aragorn is not participating. With other weapons and attack boosts added on top of this, a deck featuring Tactics Aragorn can quickly become a killing machine. The one downside here is that this defense reduction only applies to engaged enemies, which makes him not as well suited for ranged decks or those specializing in staging area attacks. In addition, as mentioned earlier, the fact that the ability reduces defense rather than boosts attack makes it useless against enemies that are immune to player card effects. Still, this is a generally applicable skill that will apply to almost every quest.

Aragorn’s second ability is one whose full power is a bit harder to grasp at first glance. This is because it allows the controlling player to engage an enemy they are not currently engaged with after Aragorn successfully destroys an enemy. Since engaging enemies has traditionally been viewed as a negative rather than a positive, this ability seems initially to be more of a drawback than a benefit. Yet it actually works perfectly with the new Dunedain deck type introduced by The Lost Realm, which centers around drawing advantages from being engaged with enemies (and often multiple enemies). To my mind, Tactics Aragorn’s engagement ability has four main uses:

1) To engage an enemy that would not otherwise be open to engagement

2) To provide an attack opportunity without having to suffer defense

3) To provide an alternative to ranged

4) To set up Dunedain engagement effects

The first use is the most straightforward and is quest-dependent. In The Lost Realm itself, we see an example of this application, as the first quest, Intruders in Chetwood, stops enemies from making engagement checks while punishing players for keeping enemies in the staging area. Tactics Aragorn provides an option for engaging multiple enemies per turn. This could also be used in other quests against specific enemies, such as Bill Ferny, that cannot otherwise be engaged. The advantage here is that you don’t have to include special cards to accomplish this effect, such as Son of Arnor or Westfold Outrider, as it is built into a hero. The second use could work in multiplayer to adapt to the game situation and the strengths of different player’s decks. For example, one player could defend against an enemy, while the Aragorn player could then pull that enemy over to attack it. This strategy could allow a deck using Aragorn to make the most of its attack strength (as well as the defense reduction), while not necessarily having to defend against every enemy attack. This approach could also work by leaving enemies in the staging area, then using Aragorn’s ability to pull them down after destroying an engaged enemy, removing their threat from the staging area for the following round and even possibly destroying them in turn without them ever having the chance to attack (note that this is an alternative to having to engage enemies right away to avoid their threat next round). Enemies could be more quickly dispatched in this way. The multiplayer application of course blends into the third use, which allows a deck using Aragorn to have the equivalent of “ranged” without actually having that keyword. What this means is that a deck’s full attack power could be brought to bear against an enemy that started out combat engaged with another player. Finally, bringing over an enemy could set up card effects like Sarn Ford Sentry and Heir of Valandil that key off of the number of engaged enemies. The beauty of this approach is that it gives you the benefit immediately or during the next planning phase without having to suffer an immediate attack. Beyond these four most common uses, there also exists the possiblility of shenanigans, such as using Quick Strike with Aragorn to kill an engaged enemy during questing, then pulling down an enemy from the staging area and facilitating faster quest progress.

These two abilities provide a potent package, as most heroes only get the benefit of one. Still, the second ability in particular requires a bit of skill and experience to use effectively, and thus Tactics Aragorn is perhaps not the best choice for someone just starting out with the game. Beyond these abilities, Aragorn’s set of stats is quite familiar, allowing him to quest, attack, and defend with nearly equal skill. Due to his defense reduction effect, Aragorn is perhaps best used as an attacker, yet with some readying he can participate in other areas of play as well. The threat cost of twelve is certainly high, but this hasn’t stopped the other versions of Aragorn from being used frequently and Tactics is a sphere that is used to high threat heroes. The main disadvantage here, as with other high threat heroes, is perhaps limiting the options as to accompanying heroes, but I have a feeling that he will work quite well with the valour effects that are to come, which means that a high total starting threat and an aggro approach may certainly be effective with this hero.

Finally, in terms of what’s printed on the card itself, we must consider the traits. Aragorn has the Dunedain, Ranger, and Warrior traits, though not the Noble trait. This makes him a valid target for Captain of Gondor, further boosting his attack and defense, or Wingfoot, for some much-needed readying. Of course, the Dunedain trait will likely get more and more use as the cycle continues, but it also currently gives access to Gondorian Fire, Blood of Numenor, Star Brooch, and Heir of Valandil, all of which could work well with Aragorn.

In terms of other attachments that find a good home with Aragorn, there are almost too many to name, as the character in general tends to make a good target for his own suite of attachments as well as a variety of other ones. As for the former, Sword that was Broken could be an effective means of adding more questing potential to Tactics than it really has ever had before. Celebrian’s Stone could of course boost his own questing power, while adding a Spirit icon, although I don’t know how much Tactics Aragorn will quest compared to his counterparts, especially in the absence of any readying attachments. As mentioned in my recent Signal the Dunedain article, I am also intrigued by the possibility of giving Aragorn ranged with Rivendell Bow and using Hands Upon the Bow to potentially take out two enemies in the staging area at once. Beyond the Aragorn-specific attachments, there are a few others that stand out the most clearly as having great synergy with this hero. Rohan Warhose is an obvious choice, as it could allow Aragorn to chain together a few attacks, pulling over multiple enemies in one combat phase (especially since there’s no limit to the ability). For example, Aragorn could destroy one enemy, engage another enemy, ready with Rohan Warhorse, destroy that second enemy, and then engage a third enemy. This could allow an Aragorn deck to exert a significant deal of control over the board in multiplayer. Mighty Prowess could also work well, as this attachment could allow Aragorn to destroy one enemy, place a damage on another enemy, and then pull that damaged enemy over, making it easier to destroy. Of course, a hero with balanced, well-rounded stats practically demands some action advantage, so a card like Unexpected Courage or Wingfoot could go a long way.

The big question left unresolved, of course, is how good Tactics Aragorn is in comparison to Leadership and Lore Aragorn. The question is a difficult one, and the fact that a clear pecking order does not establish itself actually speaks to the power of the Tactics version, as the previous iterations are quite strong. I will say that Tactics Aragorn is clearly better in multiplayer than solo. This is not to say that he cannot be used in a solo deck, but his engagement ability comes to full fruition with more enemies on the table and in interaction with other players. In addition, his high threat and presence in the Tactics sphere limits the deck building options for solo players. This does contrast with the Lore and Leadership versions, which can work equally effectively in both formats. Still, this is no substantial knock against the hero. Tactics Aragorn is an intriguing hero that works perfectly with Dunedain decks, but also in non-Dunedain builds as well, and is miles more powerful than he might appear at first glance. Overall, it will be more difficult than ever for players to decide on who gets to control Aragorn and which version of Aragorn will be used!

Versatility: ♦♦♦◊◊

Efficiency: ♦♦♦♦◊

Uniqueness: ♦♦♦♦♦

Possible Attachment Choices: Rohan Warhose, Wingfoot, Sword that was Broken, Rivendell Bow, Captain of Gondor, Gondorian Fire, Blood of Numenor, Mighty Prowess, Unexpected Courage, Celebrian’s Stone

* Halbarad (Leadership Hero, 10 threat, 2 willpower, 2 attack, 2 defense, 4 hit points):

Halbarad

While Aragorn is a familiar face in the game, Halbarad makes his first appearance with the release of The Lost Realm. Halbarad is certainly an important character, being the second in command of the Dunedain behind Aragorn and the leader of the Grey Company as they rode to meet their chief. In many ways, Halbarad is a similar hero to Tactics Aragorn, in that they both come to the table with two separate abilities, one of which is subtly powerful in its effects. Halbarad has in-built action advantage, although it is conditional, and the ability to take on an additional optional engagement:

While you are engaged with any enemy, Halbarad does not exhaust to commit to a quest.

You may optionally engage 1 additional enemy during the encounter phase.

Halbarad’s first ability is especially useful because it makes up for one of the common criticisms leveled against heroes with well-rounded stats, which is that some of those stats might end up “wasted” and not providing their full value. In Halbarad’s case, as long as you are engaged with an enemy, you can quest with him, while still having him available for attack or defense. What makes this ability particularly valuable is that it is built into the hero itself, so you don’t have to worry about drawing an attachment to take advantage of it. This leaves you free to focus on loading Halbarad up with other attachments, possibly to boost his stats. However, it is important not to overlook the fact that this ability can only trigger when there is an engaged enemy. While Dunedain decks should strive to keep enemies engaged with them anyway, this does limit the ability somewhat, as well as the range of decks that Halbarad can be a part of, at least to a certain degree of effectiveness. This limitation also means that you might not be able to use Halbarad’s questing power during the crucial first round, unless you use a card like Son of Arnor or Dunedain Hunter early on to set this up. However, all that being said, Halbarad can add a bit of reliable willpower to a deck that might otherwise be combat-focused, especially if you boost his willpower with other effects.

Halbarad’s second ability allows for a second optional engagement. This is the kind of ability that might not seem very useful or powerful at first glance, however this is a mistake. Like Tactics Aragorn’s engagement ability, this extra optional engagement is much more effective in multiplayer, as it allows for more flexibility in determining how enemies are divided. For example, players often specialize in either combat or questing, and while the combat deck might want to take on multiple enemies or certain enemies, the structure of engagement, which only grants one optional engagement while the rest come down in player order, may not allow this to happen. Halbarad can work around this by allowing a combat deck to take on at least two enemies they want rather than only having full control over one. Beyond multiplayer application, this additional optional engagement can also be quite useful against quests that stop engagement checks but still allow optional engagements. It also can play a part even in solo play when your threat isn’t high enough to bring down multiple enemies, but you would like to take on more than one. All in all, this ability is certainly not as powerful as Tactics Aragorn’s, but it still works very well in a Dunedain deck and actually works optimally in conjunction with Aragorn.

In terms of stats, Halbarad has an extremely familiar set of two willpower, two attack, and two defense, along with four hit points, which we have seen previously with Beravor and Mablung. In practice, I, like many other players, have preferred more specialization, as just one extra point in any of the key stats makes a huge difference, while you will rarely be able to take full advantage of willpower, attack, and defense all in one rund, at least without a heavy commitment to readying effects. Halbarad, however, has a few advantages that make up for this weakness and actually turn his jack-of-all-trades distribution into a strength. First is his presence in the Leadership sphere. This gives him natural access to Signal attachments like Dunedain Warning and Dunedain Mark, which can be used to customize Halbarad in the direction you prefer. This approach is greatly facilitated by the Weather Hills Watchman, who can bring out these attachments much more quickly and reliably. With even one of each, Halbarad can become a three attack and three defense powerhouse. Since these attachments can be transferred to Halbarad, as well as from Halbarad to other heroes, this commitment of resources and cards also doesn’t feel as onerous and provides some flexibility. Second, it is important to consider Halbarad’s partnership with Tactics Aragorn, as the two make a natural pair and will probably fill out many decks together in the future. With Tactics Aragorn by his side, Halbarad’s two attack is actually worth three attack in most cases, given that Aragorn reduces the defense of engaged enemies by one. This makes Halbarad stronger than he appears when just looking at his stats.

With the Dunedain and Ranger trait in tow, Halbarad can make use of attachments that key off of those traits. Ranger is a bit less useful, as something like Wingfoot is essentially wasted on him. The Dunedain trait, however, is certainly useful, giving him access to Gondorian Fire and Blood of Numenor in order to provide a level of specialization and power. Beyond trait-specific attachments, any card that can boost Halbarad’s willpower makes good sense. With natural access to Leadership, I like attaching Celebrian’s Stone to Halbarad, which allows him to commit 4 willpower to the quest without exhausting, as long as there is an enemy engaged. If you pair him with Tactics Aragorn, this means that he essentially has 4 willpower and the equivalent of 3 attack, which is insane value. Of course, Star Brooch can also help to boost willpower, and even Dunedain Quest isn’t the worst value given the ability to fetch it with Weather Hills Watchman. The cost of two is expensive but manageable in Tactics. Protector of Lorien is also a good option, as it allows Halbarad to add some power to questing in a similar way to Eowyn, while also potentially becoming a stronger defender as well. Finally, since Halbarad is likely to be ready later in a round due to his ability to quest without exhausting, he makes a good target for attachments that require exhaustion, such as Athelas.

Halbarad thus makes a solid new addition to the collection of heroes in the game. I would have to place him below Tactics Aragorn in raw power, but really the two make amazing partners, which renders such a comparison a bit superfluous. While his abilities, which are geared towards enemy engagement, restrict the range of decks that he is suitable for, he can play an effective and essential part in such builds.

Versatility: ♦♦◊◊◊

Efficiency: ♦♦♦◊◊

Uniqueness: ♦♦♦♦♦

Possible Attachment Choices: Dunedain Warning, Dunedain Mark, Star Brooch, Celebrian’s Stone, Unexpected Courage, Gondorian Fire, Blood of Numenor, Athelas, Protector of Lorien

Conclusion

Together, Tactics Aragorn and Halbarad provide a strong basis for Dunedain decks, a foundation that will hopefully be built upon as the cycle continues. While Voice of Isengard included two heroes that were nearly polar opposites in Grima and Eomer, these two heroes are meant to work together when possible. More than anything, Aragorn and Halbarad are both unique heroes, bringing to the table enemy engagement abilities the like of which have not been seen on heroes previously. This opens a brand new style of play, one that is both challenging to master, but also rewarding and entertaining.

Readers, what are your thoughts on Tactics Aragorn and Halbarad? What kind of decks will you build with these heroes? How do you rate them in comparison to other heroes?

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From → Reviews

51 Comments
  1. Alex permalink

    I have to disagree – I think tactics Aragorn isn’t that great. He’s not a surprise (been spoiled months ago) so we have had more time to think up uses for him but his abilities are really situational (esp the second one).

    I think that Lore Aragorn is the best (his ability is always useful and can drop threat by almost 20-25 points) and after that is Leadership (action advantage in a sphere rich for resources is always useful).

    Is it always useful to have -1 defense ? Sure – but it’s not that powerful an effect against reducing threat by 20 or readying after questing. Is it always useful to engage another enemy ? Obviously not – very situational.

    Also think of the benefit the ability has in sphere – Lore Aragorn reduces threat (a spirit effect in lore). Leadership gives action advantage (again also a mainly spirit effect). Then you have this tactics card reducing defense. Chances are most tactics deck don’t need his reduction bc they are designed to kill. Not sure the puny reduction in defense matters.

    I think you need to find uses for tactics Aragorn – the other two have uses that hit you right in the face and scream power. This one requires finese and skill and the right quest to work, but because of that more niche use I would argue it’s clear that he’s the worst of the three.

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      I can definitely understand where you’re coming from and initially I was somewhat skeptical as to how useful Tacticsgorn would be, but after using him quite a bit, I have yet to come across a game where I found his abilities to not be useful. I would argue that the engagement effect is not situational or niche at all. Again, I have found use for it in every game I have played thus far. Killing one enemy with Aragorn, then bringing another from somewhere else, whether the staging area or another player, then killing that one before it can ever attack is huge in terms of threat management and enemy management. It certainly does require skill and finesse to use properly, but after using it, I have come to a very favorable view. The one caveat is what I mentioned in the article, which is that it is much more useful in multiplayer than solo, and for pure solo play the other Aragorns are definitely better.

      • William O'Brien permalink

        I think Halbarad and Aragorn actually don’t work all that well in the same deck. Using Halbarad’s second engagement means you are likely facing an extra attack that using Aragorn’s ability would have avoided. If you are capable of killing both enemies Halbarad engages, you are usually better off engaging one, killing it with Aragorn, then killing the second. That may even give you an extra body to make another successful attack. Halbarad is also somewhat pricier than you want in an Aragorn deck, where you want as low a threat as you can get to avoid engagement thresholds.

        I think they do work pretty well as a team in separate decks, with the Halbarad deck focusing on successfully defending, and Aragorn on attacking when that’s over.

        An extra use of Aragorn is that he enables Straight Shot as a way to instant kill a 1 defense enemy before it attacks.

        Aragorn works very well in solo, I don’t think he’s diminished at all. In solo you try to maximize the attack avoidance aspect, since you don’t need to worry about other players engaging enemies and having to defend. Aragorn and Hobbits (usually Tactics Merry and either Sam or Lore Pippin) works very well. The low threat of hobbits allows more use of Aragorn’s ability, Merry works great with him, and each use of Aragorn will usually trigger the Pippin and Sam abilities. Because Aragorn lowers the need for weapons (since you effectively have a weapon on every attack you make) and Merry lowers the need for Rohan Warhorse, you get more deck space to compensate for questing and defense.

        Aragorn/Galadriel/Glorf can also work. You get major threat control to ensure long-term use of Aragorn. Use Galadriel + cheap Spirit allies to quest then chump block and eventually power Horn of Gondor + Blood of Numenor/Unexpected Courage to defend while Aragorn and Glorfindel murder things.

        For Halbarad, he also works well with the hobbits but I’m definitely going to be starting him out with the Elf brothers. Really attachment heavy with the signals to pump the brothers sky-high in their specialties and ally Galadriel to help with questing, card draw and resources all in one.

        • TalesfromtheCards permalink

          Regarding Halbarad and Aragorn, while I get your point that it is often possible to avoid engaging multiple enemies, then killing one to pull another from the staging area, this ignores the fact that in multiplayer it is not always possible to leave enemies in the staging area, as threat may dictate that they go to other players. In a three or four player game, there may end up being a ton of enemies on the table, and the beauty of pairing Halbarad and Aragorn together is that you can engage as many of these as possible, saving other players, and then use Aragorn’s ability to grab even more! In this way, Halbarad and Aragorn absolutely work well together, but you have to look at it from a multiplayer perspective and not just a solo perspective. I would also counter that low threat is not the only way to go with an Aragorn deck. That is only one approach and again is a more solo-focused perspective. A high threat aggro Dunedain deck with Halbarad and Aragorn works quite well to trigger various Dunedain effects.

          Similarly, while I don’t deny that it’s possible for Aragorn to work in solo, I stand by the statement that he is better in multiplayer. Having tried him in both environments, multiplayer is where he really gets to flourish as a fairly unique force and reach his full potential, handling enemies for the entire board. He can certainly play a part in solo as well, but there are other hero options that can achieve a similar effect.

          • William O'Brien permalink

            Well, since i was endorsing splitting them up I wasn’t referring to Solo play.

            Neither hero is a great defender (plus Aragorn needs to be available to attack), so if you are engaging multiple enemies with Halbarad, plus any normal engagements, you are relying on your third hero and your allies to pull a lot of defensive weight, and you still need guys left to attack. It can take quite a while for you to get the number of bodies on board in order to hold up to that, especially without the better readying effects available. Unless you just use Boromir, I guess. Aragorn/Boromir/Halbarad can handle all the combat in most games, but in most games Aragorn would seem kind of superfluous there. A different combat hero (Legolas?) would seem stronger in that group.

            Splitting them up lets you maximize both by letting Halbarad’s deck defend and Aragorn’s attack. Putting Halbarad with high threat heroes and Aragorn with lower threat heroes lets you control it even more, as the enemies are more likely to engage the deck you want them to. It’s kind of like one group of Rangers draw the enemy while the other group flanks them.

            So while a deck can work with both of them, I don’t think it is the best use for either one.

            I don’t see the drop in power level from multiplayer to solo, I just see a change in how he should be used. He’s a unique force in both. The synergy with Hobbits is bonkers strong. I’ve been messing with him on and off since he was spoiled and I think he’s the most powerful Aragorn in either format (though the best Loragorn deck is probably better than the best Tactagorn deck).

            • TalesfromtheCards permalink

              I think this may be an issue of different play experiences and probably the fact that we are trying out different decks. I’ve used one deck that is primarily focused on questing while the Halbarad/Aragorn Dunedain deck takes on the combat duties. In this case, I haven’t had much problem with defense thanks to the use of various buffs. Although splitting them up can certainly work, it is, in my opinion at least, inaccurate to say that this is objectively the better use for these two heroes. That may be a subjective experience, but it really depends on the type of decks you use and the approach you take. In my opinion, both approaches are probably equally effective as long as you deck build strategically around them.

              As for solo play, we’ll probably have to agree to disagree here. Note that I’m not saying that Tactics Aragorn is not powerful in solo play. I’m saying that I think he’s more powerful in multiplayer. Even the Hobbit/Aragorn deck, which is good in solo, could be said to be stronger in multiplayer because it pulls so much weight compared to what is normal (in other words, Aragorn deck doing the work of one deck in solo, but sometimes doing the work of 2-4 decks in multiplayer!). All in all, though, I do think he’s really powerful all around. But I give the nod to Lore Aragorn simply because the drop in threat is completely unprecedented, while a few other solo builds can do something similar to Tactics Aragorn, although not identical.

            • TalesfromtheCards permalink

              I do want to say thanks for sharing your opinions, lest this all sound too harsh! Part of the fun of a card game like this is having heated debates about the value of cards.

  2. Kyle permalink

    I like Halbarad more than Aragorn, though I do think he should be very fun in multiplayer (Imagine one deck with Aragorn and Merry and another deck at the table with Brand and Bard). Halbarad seems very exciting, and I like that subtly his multiple engagement ability goes well with Elladan and Elrohir, making a Grey Company theme deck a strong possibility.

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      I definitely want to try out a Grey Company Halbarad/Elrohir/Elladan deck, but haven’t had a chance to try it out yet.

  3. Traekos77 permalink

    I pick Denethor as a great choice for third hero. He can make Henamarth Riversong, Wingfoot, Ithilien Tracker and Warden of Healing available (along with traps). Plus he is a great defender and can help skip past locations & treacheries to hit on more enemies.

    • Traekos77 permalink

      Aragorn hero rankings: Lore > Tactics > Leadership. Readying after questing at the cost of 1 resource isn’t as compelling these days.

      • TalesfromtheCards permalink

        That’s fair and I’d probably agree with you…although I have a soft spot for Leadership Aragorn, especially given my love for mono Leadership decks.

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      That’s a good choice. Personally, I have been using Beravor as the third hero alongside Aragorn and Halbarad, but I find that Lore definitely adds a lot to the deck rather than going with something like Aragorn/Halbarad/Mablung (although I think that trio can work as well).

  4. Mikelius permalink

    Hmm, Mablung can get 3 resources per round with Westfold Outrider/Son of Arnor and this Aragorn ability. Fine.

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      Indeed. You can get a ton of value out of Mablung with Tactics Aragorn around.

  5. tactics Aragorn with tactics Boromir with blood and fire, though I’m bored with brormir by now!

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      Heh, I know what you mean. Boromir makes me feel so safe that he’s almost become a Boromir crutch by now! But I am thinking about putting Tactics Aragorn and Boromir together to watch the fireworks. Actually, Boromir, Aragorn, and Merry could just be so good in a dirty way in multiplayer.

  6. I love powers that mess with the standard order of play so these two are very interesting to me. They work really well together too giving us a nice out-the-box team.

    Other iterations of Aragorn might be more obviously powerful but this is not a competitive game so using a more niche hero like Tactigorn will squeeze some really creative combos from cunning deckbuilders that might not be ‘best’ but will be a lot of fun to create and trigger.

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      Agreed. This is all about creative options, and when used effectively, he can be as powerful as the more obviously powerful versions.

  7. Pekka permalink

    Nothing about the art of the cards? Aragorn looks ok, but I’m having hard times getting over that picture of Halbarad’s. I always imagined him with a solemn and/or grim expression, not with a manic grin. And what on earth is he doing with those swords?

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      I tend not to talk too much about the art, although there’s generally a lot to talk about, usually good (but sometimes bad). Halbarad’s art is interesting. I generally love it when characters dual wield swords, it just always seems so badass. But the angle he’s holding the swords at looks a bit weird, as if he’s slightly more flexible than your average human! Perhaps his manic grin is meant to represent the player when they boldly declare that they are taking on all the enemies!

      • Kjeld permalink

        The seemingly strange angle of the swords is due to the fact that he’s not holding both of them in a normal sword grip, with thumb toward the blade. Rather, his left hand is using a reverse grip, with the thumb away from the blade (much like the evil guy wields a knife in a slasher movie).

        • TalesfromtheCards permalink

          Got it. Manic grin and wields a knife like a bad guy in a slasher movie. So he’s basically the Middle-earth version of Dexter? 🙂

  8. Tonskillitis permalink

    I have to agree that this new Aragorn is really strong. His ability is only ‘situational’ in the sense that something like Westfold Outrider is ‘situational’. There is pretty much always an occasion in a multiplayer game where his tricks will do something useful allowing you to control engaged enemies and the staging area for questing. Everyone agrees that the Westfold Outrider is a great card and this Aragorn takes this to the next level. Seeing him paired in a deck with Merry, I wonder if his engagement ability should be limited to once or twice per round…

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      Agreed! I didn’t mention it specifically in the article, but other heroes that can provide readying, like Merry or Brand, can really take Aragorn to ridiculous heights of power. I’m torn on limiting him. In general, I think repeatable effects should be limited to once or twice per phase at minimum to prevent any possibility of abuse. On the other hand, less errata is generally better. Tough call.

  9. In this release and with these two heroes, I really feel like I’m missing cards from memory and that there is a huge amount of cards that I could include; we (I) need a deck spotlight to give some ideas for deck building. 🙂

  10. Pengolodh permalink

    I can’t wait to try out the new heroes. I’ve been waiting for Halbarad for some time now, and certainly want to try mono-traiting Dunedain. As for Halbarad’s first ability, you could engage a really tough enemy, put Forest Snare on it, and be able to have Halbarad quest without exhausting and trigger other Dunedain effects. Can’t wait to try that out!

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      It actually works pretty well! I haven’t used it every game, but in quite a few games I’ve used Tactics Aragorn to engage an enemy, then used Forest Snare on next turn’s planning to trap it before it could ever attack. Then, I always have at least 1 enemy to trigger all of those various Dunedain effects. Forest Snare is back in a big way.

  11. Gwaihir the Windlord permalink

    I am looking forward to using the Dunedain heroes more once I get my hands on The Lost Realm (stupid shipping . . .). I find these new cards elegantly balanced, for although the abilities of Halbarad and Tactics Aragorn are powerful, they require enemies to be engaged, a bigger price than it first seems. These enemies must be defended and then destroyed, and it is not always an easy task to do so. Still sitting attentively in the tree by my mailbox, waiting to waylay any mailmen or UPS guys the moment they walk beneath me . . .

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      I definitely agree. I’ve been really impressed by the development of both the Silvan deck type and now the Dunedain deck type (although it is early days yet for the latter). Both are powerful without feeling overpowered like the Dwarves or Outlands. And both integrate meaningful drawbacks and limitations that make piloting them an interesting and fun experience rather than something that verges on autopilot. All the kudos to the designers!

  12. Yet Another Mike permalink

    On a side note, I always like when you mention where you find the characters in the story/fluff.

  13. For me, it isn’t which Aragorn is the most powerful, it’s which is the most interesting to play, and in view that will be (T)aragorn, though, I’m still waiting for my expansion to arrive!

  14. I wonder if Halbarad works well with Idraen? Plus maybe Galadriel, to supply the Forest snare.
    Being ‘Dunedin’ how will Idraen fit in with the other Dunedain characters/archetype ?

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      On the surface, Idraen doesn’t seem to have direct synergy with the the other Dunedain. But as long as there is a location you can explore, she can quest and be available for combat, so from that perspective she could work with Halbarad. As long as you can meet both of their conditions, both could quest for 4 total and still be ready for battle.

  15. Hey, first off, thanks for the blog! I’m a pretty new player and it’s been invaluable, especially in deciding what packs to get to build the decks I’m most interested in at the time (apart from JtR, I had to get that first cos I NEEDED Prince Imrahil, now to wait for the RotK saga box for his knights…? Actually sorry for the tangent but I haven’t got to Heirs of Numenor yet so are Outlands parts of Gondor? Is that a mis-step for Prince Imrahil to not be an Outlander? Maybe all will become clear when I get to that part of the game…), plus just a fun read, so excellent work! (and yes I know it kind of seems stupid for a new player to jump right in with the newest box when I don’t even have most of the old cards, but I want to ride the wave of excitement for new releases as well!)

    Anyway, I quite like the new Aragorn in-game, I think it’s the -1 defense is great just because there’s always 1 ruddy orc that my allies can’t finish off cos of that 1 point of armour! Or with a lot of hero attacks are at 3 and the bad guys have 3 health and 1 defense, so again they JUST squeeze by. Getting rid of that annoyance is enough for me to like him! Though something doesn’t sit right with me, maybe it’s just because we don’t really see this Aragorn in the book (I don’t think anyway) that it just doesn’t really feel like him to me. Still, unless the resources are freely flowing, I’d rate this one above the Leadership version. Also as a multiplayer deck I reckon the new Aragorn enables an awesome killing machine deck!

    Halbarad’s pretty cool though, I’m a fan of those stats on Beravor and even a conditional self-readying is really useful. As for his second ability, the amount of times I kill the troll and then just threat-out in the next phase of Journey down the Anduin is ridiculous, being able to stop those orcs piling up is going to be handy for sure. Looking forward to trying them both out.

    I know it’s not really that related (though it is about Aragorn!) but I’ve been trying to make a Single player Lore Aragorn deck with him as the only hero, if you’re bored maybe you could spare a thought on whether it’s viable or not, and what might be essential? Obviously the plan is for a secrecy deck and some Song of Kings + Rivendell minstrel’s to get the good stuff. It just feels like that card is asking for such a deck, I love the idea of it just being Strider mooching about on his own mysterously.

    So anyway thanks for the great blog!

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      Hey there, welcome to the game! I’m glad you find the blog useful, and although jumping right into the new stuff may be unorthodox, it’s all about whatever works for you and is the most fun. To answer a couple of your questions:

      – In the book, Outlands are those regions that are part of Gondor but aren’t part of the main area of Gondor including Minas Tirith. I guess they can be roughly thought of as provinces. In the game, the Outlands characters don’t have the Gondor trait, which I think was a decision made to prevent them from being even more overpowered by being able to claim Gondor bonuses as well. Imrahil should definitely have the Outlands trait from a theme perspective, but I think he doesn’t probably because the designers didn’t even have Outlands in mind when they designed him.
      – As for the single hero Aragorn idea, building a single hero deck is an area of deck building that I haven’t really touched so far. I’ve tried two heroes, but not one hero. That’s actually a great idea for a future article, so thanks for that!

  16. Psychorocka permalink

    Many have mentioned a Grey Company Deck featuring Elrohir, Elladan and Halbarad.
    Most of you have probably already seen these on the official forums but here are my two handed decks, one of which runs those three heroes and is a fairly thematic Grey Company Deck:
    https://community.fantasyflightgames.com/index.php?/topic/104951-two-handed-decks/?p=1556607

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      Cool, thanks for sharing! I just built my first Halbarad/Elladan/Elrohir deck, which finally enabled me to conquer Deadmen’s Dike in two-handed play. Looking at your deck now, my version is actually pretty similar to yours with a few differences. I just wish I could get some more resources onto Elladan, as Steward goes on Elrohir and covers defense. But all in all, it works pretty well so far and Halbarad’s optional engagement does come in handy so far.

      • Psychorocka permalink

        Especially to keep foes away from the lore/spirit deck to allow Haldir to snipe away! Would you mind sharing your deck listing for that deck? I’m always looking at updates or changes I can make to my deck and would be very interested to see what you included =)

        • TalesfromtheCards permalink

          Sure! It’s not quite optimized methinks, but it’s getting there:

          Hero
          1x Elrohir
          1x Halbarad
          1x Elladan

          Ally
          3x Gandalf
          3x Dúnedain Watcher
          3x Errand-rider
          2x Erestor
          3x Galadhon Archer
          2x Vassal of the Windlord

          Attachment
          2x Elven Mail
          3x Gondorian Shield
          3x Rivendell Blade
          3x Dúnedain Mark
          3x Dúnedain Warning
          3x Steward of Gondor
          2x Blade of Gondolin

          Event
          3x Gaining Strength
          3x Sneak Attack
          3x Feint
          3x Foe-hammer
          3x Goblin-cleaver

  17. kwitee permalink

    This version of Aragorn also lost sentinel keyword for some reason. Perhaps it should be considered in valuation since sentinel is more useful in tactics.

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      That’s a good point that I didn’t include in the review. If I had to guess, I think sentinel was removed for two reasons: 1) to tone him down a bit since his abilities are quite strong and 2) to play into the new Dunedain deck type which is all about engaging all the enemies on one’s own rather than having other players engage them. They touched on this a bit in one of the spoiler enemies, and referenced Tireless Hunters as a substitute for sentinel. I think I don’t miss sentinel too much on Tactics Aragorn as moreso than the other Aragorns, I use him almost exclusively for attack, since I want to make the most of his ability.

      • Egwood permalink

        Or maybe they didn’t have room for it on the card?

        • TalesfromtheCards permalink

          It’s possible, but from the way they talked about the issue in the spoiler articles, it seems like a conscious design choice.

  18. Egwood permalink

    I’ve been using a doublehanded deck with
    Deck 1: Haldir, Spirit Glorfindel, Galadriel
    Deck 2: Halbarad, Taragorn, Mablung
    and its lots of fun to snipe enemies with haldir. Halbarads double optional really shines here, and you can trick play with aragorn and collect money with mablung. Give bow of the galadhrim to haldir and he attacks for “6”! Aragorn can be made to a monster with SoG, Sword that was broken, wingfoot, UC, GShield and gondorian fire (and the other one) etc. Even not so popular(?) allies like ithilien archer can be of use when bouncing enemies between staging area and engament and still kill them before they have a chance to do anything (and making a living with mablung on the side). All in all, I really like the dunedain duo.

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      I definitely like the idea of combining Halbarad with Haldir (in different decks) in multiplayer. There’s nothing more annoying than controlling Haldir and having to take on an enemy because of the way engagement falls, so Halbarad could definitely help with this!

  19. I’ve spent a few days playing the new Aragorn now, and I’m a lot less hot on him than I was before. I’ve only played single player but in most of the games I would have preferred the abilities of either of the other Aragorns, though it’s been a lot of fun hacking through everything with the Tactics team of Aragorn and Boromir! Halbarad has been great though.
    I think without the action advantage from Leadership Aragorn you’re just paying too much threat for not enough hero, and Lore Aragorn also offsets this (despite still being too high to be much use for Secrecy dang it).
    I still think in multiplayer he’d be pretty awesome in a committed killing deck, but I haven’t tried it.

    Thanks for clearing up about the Outlands, I suspected it was the case that Imrahil simply arrived in the game too early, and I’ll eagerly await some solo hero decks!

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      As I’ve said elsewhere, Tactics Aragorn definitely reaches his full potential in multiplayer. He can work in solo, but they have to revolve around him and they can be vulnerable to quite a few different scenarios. In multiplayer, he can be bonkers!

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