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Nor Am I A Stranger: Self Preservation

by on November 11, 2015


Greetings again!

Last time, I introduced a new series aimed at evaluating potentially ‘broken’ cards and looking at small ways in which you can play them again if you have relegated them to the binder. You can see my breakdown of Treebeard here.

Now, in an effort to get even more cards out of binders and into your sleeves, I will look at the other end. So, I will head to the dark side and see if I can pull a few misguided cards back like Luke did for his dad.

Nor Am I A Stranger is the other new series that will focus on cards that have been thrown in the binder by some, but in reality deserve to be thrown into a sleeve. This is not an attempt to figure out if a card is a coaster or a gem like Ian does here but rather taking cards that are probably considered to be coasters and showing you how they can be used to good effect. My goal here is to take cards that either (a) have been labelled as coasters from the start or (b) old favorites that have since been deemed obsolete and showing you how to breathe new life into them. I will show you how to play them straight up, but also with a couple of simple modifications that can make them much more playable.

The goal here is not to take cards that, for instance, increase willpower by 1 and convince you they are good if you just change that number to 2. It’s more for cards that have niche uses, and how slight changes can make them playable.

I was going to start with a certain wizard card but I’ve since changed my mind and I am going to use something I have started incorporating into my current favorite build.

Lets get one thing out of the way – I do not play one handed solo. I am evaluating cards more on the two handed solo/multiplayer level, which is how I play.

The first ever entry is below:

Type: Attachment (Skill)
Sphere: Lore
Cost: 3
Attach to a character.

Action: Exhaust Self Preservation to heal 2 points of damage from attached character.

This is a core set card, and as such has likely found its way into many a binder at this point in the life cycle of the game. The points against this card are obvious: it is simply over-costed and too restrictive when compared against other healing effects.

No one is doubting the power of the card – being able to heal two points off at will is quite powerful . The big benefit of this card though is that it can go on anyone, even if there are other options that are better out there.

There are other effects that are limited to Ents and Silvan characters, but there are only really two other universally applicable targeted repeatable healing (phew – from now on UATRH) in the game.

The Warden of Healing is clearly superior in that he can heal two different characters for only a cost of 2, and can also go heal a non-hero (ie –Wilyador) unlike Self Preservation (no attachments on Wilyador). He is the gold standard for healing in the game, and he can even quest or defend in a pinch if needed. Also, he can be used multiple times a round although it is a high upkeep that is rarely used. No doubt, he is the master of healing in this game.

Other healing effects are more one-shot events (ie – Lembas, Healing Herbs, Lore of Imladris) and as such cost less, but over the course of a game cost more per unit healed. Of course, Lembas has a powerful readying effect as well so it really does see play frequently.

The only other UATRH in the game is Daughter of the Nimrodel which allows you to keep healing off 2 pts of damage as you see fit. She is Silvan so she can be used in those decks to add more willpower when she first hits the table. Her healing is limited to heroes which outside a niche quest is probably not a huge difference as very few allies would ever get a three cost attachment. Essentially, she is the ally version of Self Preservation with a bonus of being able to defend or quest if needed.

So, the main question arises as to why we would want to use an attachment that is far less versatile than these allies to do the same thing?

In general, attachments are going to be much more sturdy than allies – both of our healing allies can only take 1 shot before they die, making Self Preservation perhaps a safer choice. It will likely be more immune to When Revealed effects and ally hate, which is ramping up more than attachment hate. However, this is a slight difference. So, can I really make such a flimsy case for Self Preservation?

Up until recently, I would have agreed that Self Preservation should have been thrown into the fires of Mount Doom, but a couple of new cards have led me to dust it off and re-insert it into a few decks.

There are two main cards that have come to mind that has made this card much more playable for me lately.

Hero Treebeard is a unique card in that you can damage him heavily at will to boost up your WP and attack when needed. When paired with healing, he is a deadly card. The Warden can heal him for one, but you are likely going to rack up more damage on him than that, making cards that heal 2+ much more valuable in this setting, as well as perhaps multiple healing options. The other deck that has made a bit of a resurgence is the Gloin engine deck that COTR (Cardboard of the Rings podcast) has up on their Facebook page that also uses this concept.

He can be healed with Ent specific healing, but again that is only for 1 point. He works well with Healing HerbsLembas and Athelas but those are one shot cards only. After you boost up his willpower with cards like Ent Draught, then you really want a bigger effect over many rounds. So, if you want high impact UATRH, then it’s between the Daughter and Self Preservation. Why one over the other?

The other half of of this argument involves this amazing Galadriel ally that can be used to help get attachments into play for free. By running an attachment heavy deck, you can basically cheat some of these into play for free and get one-shot questing out of it to boot. In this way, I can potentially get this powerful attachment, and a three questing ally for a round into play for only 3 resources, which is much more powerful than the daughter alone for the same cost. As well, there are also other attachments I run that can also be put into play this way. She also works well with Horn of Gondor and A Very Good Tale.

So, the basic premise of this deck type is to get a bunch of attachments and readying onto Treebeard and get him to be a tank who attacks, defends and quests like mad each round and is healed as needed. A good way to heal him is pairing Self Preservation with Galadriel along with other one-shot effects and the Warden of Healing. He is a natural fit for Burning Brand so he really can do almost everything.

As I mentioned earlier, I am not a true solo player so I have built two decks here that use this premise to make Self Preservation shine in highly synergistic decks that can tackle most scenarios. It is quite fun to use Treebeard as you can dictate exactly how much attack power you need each round.

If I still have not convinced you that this card is more playable now than it was before, here are some quick modifications you can use to make it even more playable outside of this combo.

1. Lower cost to 2: this now makes the card cheaper than Daughter and as such more playable given its limitations in comparison to the ally. It will now also put it on par with Warden of Healing in terms of cost with comparable effects

2. Add Valor action: Add in a Valor action to discard Self Preservation to heal all damage on the hero and ready them

3. Add in ‘Lower Cost’ text: Add in ‘Lower the cost to play this card by 1 on a Lore character. This allows some thematic sense as Lore characters are better at healing, so they can heal themselves better. After all the card is called Self Preservation.

So, Self Preservation can be used in certain builds the way it is, and in more builds if you bend the rules a tad. I like playing it as is in a good Treebeard build as its quite fun to damage him and ready him 2-3 times a round and heal away the damage.


  • One of the few universally applicable targeted repeatable healing (UATRH) in the game
  • Combos well with hero Treebeard, Gloin and ally Galadriel
  • Can use above modifications it make more playable


Deck List


The main idea behind these decks is to get readying and healing onto Treebeard and Elrond and then onto Aragorn and Legolas as the Unexpected Courages come up. Deck 2 will try and get sentinel onto Treebeard as he can negate shadows (also Elrond). Deck 2 is a powerhouse attack deck, but also you can get ranged onto all most all of them with weapons to help out and attack across the board or into the staging area. Finally, we have Aragorn and his toys as well as card draw, threat control, location management etc built in. These decks are designed to be synergistic, with Deck 1 pumping out attachments for both with resource acceleration and Deck 2 providing the readying that is needed along with Stargazer to help setup Vilya and GaladrielElrond helps maximize the healing here as well.


Deck One                                                   Deck Two
Hero                                                           Hero
1x Théodred                                               1x Aragorn (Tactics)
1x Elrond                                                   1x Legolas
1x Treebeard                                              1x Glorfindel (Spirit)

Ally                                                            Ally
2x Quickbeam                                             2x Vassal of the Windlord
3x Warden of Healing                                   2x Imladris Stargazer
3x Galadriel                                                2x Arwen Undómiel
2x Wandering Ent                                        3x Knights of the Swan
2x Wellinghall Preserver                              3x Galadhon Archer
2x Errand-rider                                            3x Ethir Swordsman
1x Faramir
2x Booming Ent
2x Gandalf

Attachment                                                Attachment
2x Sword that was Broken                           3x Light of Valinor
2x Ranger Spikes                                       3x Rivendell Blade
1x Celebrían’s Stone                                  3x Hands Upon the Bow
3x Steward of Gondor                                 3x Rivendell Bow
2x Self Preservation                                 3x Unexpected Courage
2x Asfaloth                                                2x Ancient Mathom
2x Athelas
3x A Burning Brand
3x Lembas
2x Ent Draught
2x Vilya
2x Unexpected Courage

Event                                                          Event
3x Sneak Attack                                           2x Quick Strike
1x Peace, and Thought                                 2x Foe-hammer
2x A Very Good Tale                                    3x Feint
3x Daeron’s Runes                                       3x Hands Upon the Bow
.                                                                 3x Elrond’s Counsel
.                                                                 1x Dwarven Tomb
.                                                                 3x A Test of Will
.                                                                 3x Boomed and Trumpeted

SIDEBOARD: You can sub out Legolas for Mablung to help with the resources but I find that I usually have enough to pay for everything and like the ranged as I play a lot of multiplayer games. As well, if there are no condition attachments then Athelas can be subbed outFor card draw you can sub in Mithrandir’s Advice instead of Peace and Thought, but I often find with all the readying I have going on that I have heroes that have unused actions. Also, with all the other card draw I have, sometimes I just take out Peace and Thought and thin the deck a little.

There we go! Thank you for reading and appreciate the feedback. Next time I will take a look at an old favorite combination that has long since been labelled broken and put it through the ringer.


From → Card Spotlight

  1. Tony F permalink

    I’m with you that Self Preservation is still a good card in the right deck. Rather than considering Self Preservation (and Daughter) over-costed, I consider the Warden to be under-costed. If he had been costed at 3 like the other healing options, then he wouldn’t have become the no-brainer choice for healing in a deck that he did.

  2. Interesting perspective. I find that I still use self-preservation fairly regularly. It’s at least sideboarded in any non-Silvan deck I make that includes lore.

    The situation would probably be somewhat different if I owned Warden of healing, but as I don’t have any of the Dwarrodelf cycle my options are more limited.

    Still, from a thematic perspective I doubt Warden of healing would totally displace Self preservation for me as I tend to stick as closely as possible to my thematic concept of a deck so I wouldn’t likely include Warden of healing unless I was including a bunch of other Gondor cards as well, whereas self preservation could conceptually fit anywhere.

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