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Card Spotlight: Farmer Maggot

by on May 26, 2016

farmer_maggot_by_ringbearer80

Long ages have passed since the Eye of TftC has shone forth to place one card under the withering glare of its spotlight. Now, with the help of the popularity ratings over at the Hall of Beorn card search, which is based off of how often cards are used in decks at RingsDB, I can easily see which cards are overlooked by the community at large. Of course, the real question, as always, is whether this neglect is justified or mistaken.

Looking through the allies that are clearly out of favor at the moment, Farmer Maggot jumped immediately out at me, for sentimental reasons primarily. Farmer Maggot is a fascinating character in the books, even if he only appears briefly. After all, this is a seemingly unremarkable Hobbit who still had the stones to stand up to a Nazgul! If that wasn’t enough, Tom Bombadil, one of the most powerful beings that Frodo encounters, seems to be firmly in the Farmer Maggot fan club:

There’s earth under his old feet and clay on his fingers; wisdom in his bones, and both his eyes are open.

With all of that in his favor, unfortunately the Farmer Maggot card hasn’t been as successful in winning over supporters among the LOTR LCG player base. I’m a huge proponent of Hobbits and Hobbit decks myself, and even I must admit that this ally isn’t one that usually makes it into my builds. So is there no hope for ol’ Farmer Maggot and he should resign himself to a life of protecting surfaces from moisture? Or is he actually a hidden gem waiting to be discovered amongst the mushrooms?

Farmer Maggot is a three-cost Tactics ally, with an ability that centers around direct damage:

Response: After Farmer Maggot enters play, deal 1 damage to an enemy engaged with you. (Deal 2 damage instead if that enemy’s engagement cost is higher than your threat.)

Since Farmer Maggot isn’t known much as a warrior himself, this damage is likely supposed to represent the ability of his dogs, Grip, Fang, and Wolf, to sink their teeth into those that their master doesn’t take a liking to. Coming in The Black Riders box, which introduced the mechanic of Hobbits gaining abilities and strength when enemies have a higher engagement cost than your threat, it’s a nice touch that Farmer Maggot plays on this mechanic as well by being able to deal extra damage in such a situation. When I first picked up The Black Riders, I did throw Farmer Maggot into my decks right away and got some decent use out of him. So what exactly happened to make myself, and seemingly everyone else, send him and his hounds packing?

farmer maggot

The biggest problem is that he is largely outclassed by other Tactics allies at the three-cost slot, and even cheaper Tactics allies are often better. Looking at his stats, Farmer Maggot has 1 willpower, 2 attack, 0 defense and 2 hit points. Obviously, you are almost never going to defend with him unless you intend to use him as a chump blocker, and he’s expensive for that purpose. His willpower is actually a nice bonus, as most Tactics allies don’t have any willpower at all. Still, you’re usually not including a Tactics ally for the purpose of questing, and 1 willpower isn’t going to make much difference in the grand scheme. So really Farmer Maggot is meant to be an attacker, yet his 2 attack pales in comparison to the 3 attack you can get from the Knight of Minas Tirith (even if you don’t get his ability) or even the new Azain Silverbeard for the same cost. Even worse, Vassal of the Windlord and Dunedain Hunter provide much cheaper ways of getting 3 attack, even though each has its own drawback.

The closest comparison (and potentially the most damning) is with the Galadhon Archer, who only costs two resources yet has the same attack strength, along with the ranged keyword. The Archer can also deal a point of damage, with the difference being that it is applied to an enemy not engaged with you. Even comparisons don’t tell the whole story though. Perhaps the biggest obstacle in the way of Farmer Maggot being relevant is that his main role is to provide attack strength and damage in a sphere that is positively flush with both across heroes, allies, attachments, and events. It doesn’t help matters that Farmer Maggot is unique, which makes it more difficult to fit him into a deck. You can throw three copies of a non-unique ally into a deck without worrying about wasted copies, but the same is not true of a unique ally, and it feels particularly egregious to be saddled with a duplicate of a unique character that isn’t particularly strong or important. So Farmer Maggot is destined to be included as a singleton, if at all, which renders him very likely to be cut when it comes time to make tough choices.

The future looks bleak indeed for everyone’s favorite mushroom maker, so let’s try to peek behind the clouds in search of a silver lining. First, if you’re a player who is fond of Hobbits, Farmer Maggot is one of the few Hobbit allies and the only Hobbit ally in the Tactics sphere. He’ll therefore find a spot in the decks of those players who are trying to hew as closely as possible to a Hobbit theme. Of course, that doesn’t speak to his gameplay utility and save him from coaster status on its own, yet it is something to keep in mind.

In terms of actual usage, being able to deal damage to an enemy engaged with you, rather than one that is not engaged with you, as is the case with the Galadhon Archer, can certainly be useful (especially since many other direct damage effects don’t let you hit an enemy engaged with you). If you are able to use his direct damage ability against an enemy with a higher engagement cost, then two damage is nothing to scoff at, especially when most direct damage tends to be a single point. A Hobbit deck (or perhaps a secrecy deck) will often be looking to keep a low profile and pick off enemies one-by-one. Farmer Maggot could be useful to help dispatch enemies that you don’t have the attack strength to kill normally. In this way, you could almost view Farmer Maggot as having 4 attack strength the round he enters play (if you consider the 2 points of direct damage as doing the work of 2 attack strength). This boost could be particularly useful in the early rounds of a game when you haven’t quite built up your forces enough to muster big attack numbers. Also, consider that Farmer Maggot’s ability triggers off of entering play, rather than being played from hand, so shenanigans involving Sneak Attack or Born Aloft are fair game.

Since Farmer Maggot is one of the few Hobbit allies, there also are some opportunities to make good use of his trait. The number one option in this regard is Halfling Determination, which shares a sphere with Farmer Maggot, and can target Hobbit allies as well as heroes. With this event, you can bump Farmer Maggot’s attack strength up to an impressive four or even let him quest for three in a pinch. The main problem I see here is that you can just use Halfling Determination on one of your Hobbit heroes instead for essentially the same net gain, which you are likely to have if you are including Halfling Determination in the first place. So the only real special use here would be if you had Farmer Maggot in a deck with no Hobbit heroes, in which case you could use his trait to include and make use of Halfling Determination. However, this would only be advisable if you were running other Hobbit allies as well, as even 3 copies of Farmer Maggot and 3 copies of Halfling Determination wouldn’t be consistent enough to justify inclusion.

There are some other cards that could be used with Farmer Maggot’s Hobbit trait, but none are particularly compelling. Hobbit Pipe is the best bet, as Farmer Maggot gives you another target for that attachment and potentially another source of card draw, assuming you are also running Spirit. Beyond fun with pipes, it’s easy to forget that Fast Hitch can actually attach to Hobbit allies. Unfortunately, it’s hard to see a case where this would be useful with Farmer Maggot. You could get a couple of attacks out of him, but with only two attack strength, there’s not much value there. There are a couple of defensive attachments, Ring Mail and Boots of Erebor, that are technically able to be used by this ally, but since he’s not a strong defender even with their help, there’s no real use there either. This leaves us with Farmer Maggot as fodder for Short Cut, which….well, the less we say about that possibility the better.

So what are we left with as the picture has cleared? Farmer Maggot is a decent ally that has value as a means of dealing damage to engaged enemies. He also can help to take out enemies earlier in a game until you have time to set him up. This ally also has secondary value as a target for Halfling Determination, and he can also hold a Hobbit Pipe in a pinch. Still, there are other direct damage options in Tactics that are cheaper, more powerful, or more consistent. Mighty Prowess, for example, provides repeatable damage that can potentially hit engaged enemies, Goblin-cleaver is at least equal in power to Farmer Maggot’s damage for 0 cost, and Descendant of Thorondor is a better Sneak Attack target. Still, the benefit of Farmer Maggot is that you get a body along with the effect, which happens to have 2 attack.

That’s not nothing, and there are definitely worse cards in the game, but ultimately it’s hard to argue that Farmer Maggot’s lack of popularity isn’t justified. Thankfully, any future cards that target the Hobbit trait on allies could potentially boost Farmer Maggot’s prospects, so he is not necessarily consigned to obscurity forever. For the time being, though, I’m going to have to slip him under a frosty mug and slap down the dreaded coaster tag.

 

Verdict: Coaster

 

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16 Comments
  1. Kjeld permalink

    The newly spoiled Elevenses is probably the best card triggering off of Hobbit characters to boost Farmer Maggot’s utility. There aren’t that many hobbit allies (and most of them are even worse than Farmer Maggot…), so he can provide another body for lowering threat through Elevenses. Not much, but not nothing, either.

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      Yeah, I’m still trying to figure out exactly how useful Elevenses itself will be, but Farmer Maggot would certainly be a good target for it.

  2. Wolf Of Winter permalink

    I have tried using him with sword Thani to boost up merry and pippins abilities but it takes forever and hardly seems worth the cost, even if you can get merry swinging for four!

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      agreed. I do like the idea, but it seems like Merry usually doesn’t need the help (and an extra point for Pippin isn’t much), so the resources could probably go elsewhere.

  3. MagisDragonis permalink

    Forgot the best benefit – a pure hobbit deck will love to use sword thain on him. Bonus to merry and pippen both, in addition to the other benefits.

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      I like the idea in theory, but not sure how practical/useful it would be, and I don’t think it’s enough to redeem Farmer Maggot. It is worth a shot though!

  4. I don’t have a problem with the cost/benefit ratio relative to other tactics cards (since I do prefer to hold to trait as much as possible in decks, which means my hobbit decks with Tactics Merry don’t generally get any other allies). My biggest issue is that it must be an engaged enemy, which means barring tricky card effects you are talking about dealing one or two points of damage to an enemy after they have already attacked once and didn’t defeat, which isn’t a situation I have come up very often. Either I’m playing solo so there aren’t many enemies showing up or I’m playing two-handed and there’s another deck handling most of the enemies. Considering the offensive potential of tactics Merry with weapon attachments enemies don’t usually survive more than one attack.

    Still, it’s only recently that I stopped putting him in my hobbit decks, and that’s mostly because I’ve been using Spirit Merry so I don’t have access to Tactics anyways.

    I really like this card, and I wouldn’t call it underwhelming, but it doesn’t have very much applicability.

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      In truth, it falls somewhere between a gem and coaster, although I force myself to make a hard decision one way or another. He can help to finish off an enemy, and he’s usually “nice to have”, but he just doesn’t fall into that “must have” or “need to have” category.

  5. anonim permalink

    Shelob, Sahir and Daechanar need all the damage you can muster.

    Aditionally, he’s interesting in Shadow and Flame: let someone use Pippin, then Durin’s Bane will be engaged with you but with a higher engagement cost than your threat, and you can deal 2 damage+2per round.(Okay, it can be said over the Descendant but he costs 4).

  6. Perhaps it’s time for a Farmer Maghot hero, hm? …I could see him as a Lord hero, based on that quote from good ol’ Tom.

    • Lore* not Lord. Grr, autocorrect.

    • I would love to see some mechanic with him as a hero and maybe have his three dogs as unique attachments that each give him a different bonus or something. I don’t know; I’m no designer but it sounds cool at least.

  7. RIP in pepperino sauce, Maggot. Always loved his card art.

  8. mpk permalink

    I think he is just too expensive – given that he is unique, I think a cost of 2 could have been justified. In a hobbit deck, you generally won’t have more than a single tactics hero and 3 tactics resources is quite a lot.

    In a non-hobbit deck, as is pointed out in the article, he is simply outclassed by other tactics options.

  9. anonim permalink

    Speaking of Saga Expansions, when will you publish Road to Isengard? And please don’t tell me that you’ve spent this whole time rousering the ents.

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      Sometime soon hopefully! Those campaign writeups take up an ungodly amount of time, but I do want to get it done within the next few weeks. I promise it will be out before George RR Martin releases Winds of Winter! :p

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