In part one, I looked at allies from the core set that are awesome on their own, or have become awesome due to the expanded cardpool. I got a lot of great feedback regarding that, and as a result I am focusing this article on cards that only stand on their own two legs. These are cards that were great on day one, and are great now. In either case, the point of these articles is to let new players know that the core set provides many great cards, and isn't completely outmatched by the modern cardpool! Seeing the current catalog of LOTR LCG releases can be very daunting, but you don't need to worry! You can contribute to the quest with just one purchase!
With that being said, let's get started. I've kept the list to my top 4 so as not to get too wild! As usual, images courtesy of the wonderful Hall of Beorn.
First up, we have the quintessential resource generating card:
The Steward of Gondor remains the quintessential resource generating card. It's reliable, it has no restrictions on who it goes on, and it produces a hole damn lot of resources! It's not without it's drawbacks, but they're minor. Because it's a Unique card, you can only have one in play. If you run multiple-sphere decks, that means one of your heroes will be generating way more than the others. Of course, lots of cards exist to mitigate this in the cardpool now, but not so much in the core set.
Another serious drawback for me, and other slaves to theme like myself is that it just doesn't make sense in a lot of cases. Because it's a Title, the card implies the hero is the actual Steward of Gondor. Now, I've rationalized this away to mean the hero has the support of the Steward of Gondor (who can provide him with the wealth of Gondor), but when you're attaching the card to Sam Gamgee it can still feel a little odd.
Theme aside, this remains one of the most widely used cards in the game. Everyone needs resources (some of us more than others... ahem.. Parker), and this is how you get them for sure! One more oft overlooked aspect of the card is that the attached hero gains the Gondor trait. Not many cards in the cardpool permanently alter a character's traits, and there's quite a bit of synergy developed in the later card pool for this trait- not to mention a bit in the core set!
Speaking of resources, the Steward isn't the only resource generating card from the core set. The Horn of Gondor requires a bit more finesse (or a bit more throwing allies onto the swords of the enemy) to get the most out of. Aside from a new hero card, tactics isn't known for resource generating, yet does tend to have some fairly expensive cards (especially in the core set).
Because the horn generates resources not only when a character is destroyed, but when a character leaves play, it works very well with Eagles, Silvan, and Rohan- all of
Celebrian's Stone, in my opinion, is a solid card to use on ANY hero- but when put on Aragorn it's just fantastic! 2 cost for 2 willpower, beats most other willpower-adding-attachments by a good bit. On Aragorn it's even better- giving him a spirit icon helps with resource smoothing. With 4 different Aragorn options available (well, only 2 right now, but tactics and fellowship versions have been spoiled!), EXCEPT for a spirit version, Celebrian's stone is probably the best of his many attachments.
There isn't much more to say about Celebrian's stone because it's so straightforward. Is it an auto-include? No, but it's still the best in class for the willpower adding cards, and is a must have for Aragorn if your deck contains spirit.
Finally we come to Unexpected Courage. In my opinion, "action advantage" is one of the most important concepts to understand in the game (especially in solo play - Parker). My favorite deck builds feature very capable heroes who do more than one thing in a turn, so this card is a go-to for me. While quite a few cards that allow readying effects have come out since, none are as flexible or reliable as Unexpected Courage.
There really isn't much else to say about this card! I have a really hard time not including it in decks, unless my heroes have a very clear purpose. For powerful heroes, it just doesn't get any better than this!
Thanks guys, hope you enjoyed this! And I hope newer players are encouraged to know that the card-pool hasn't outstripped the core set cards!
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