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CardShark Content - Carl Craig (6/15/2003)

This Article takes a look at cards from the “Fellowship of the Ring” expansion that are starting to see an increased use due to the release of the Two Towers Block and Standard Format.

I basically went through each and every culture and could find at least one card from each that was seeing more play, below you will find that list in detail along with a brief explanation as to why it is seeing more play.

Please remember that the below information is what I have gathered from my local scene here in Australia. With the release of Standard Format it is quite likely that some of these cards still don’t see use in your area, whilst other cards not on my list, are seeing a lot of use in your area – the Meta-Game is changing constantly thanks to Standard Format, so this is nothing more than a guide that some of you might find useful and/or interesting.

Write now onto the list ;-)

DWARF:
• Endurance of Dwarves: Due to the introduction of Gimli/Dwarf based Maneuver events such as ‘Quick as Maybe’ and especially ‘Baruk Khazad’, it has become more important to either get Gimli healed fast OR give him extra vitality to use them.
• Hand Axe: This card is popping up a lot in standard format lately. Mainly making use of the Rohan culture to retrieve them from your discard pile (using the likes of ‘Weapon Store’). It is also seeing a little more use in heavy archery decks with Elf and/or Gondor – sometimes seen used in conjunction with ‘Elven Brooch’ to prolong its use.
• Song of Durin: Due to Standard Format removing some of the key ‘Choke’ cards (such as ‘No Stranger to the Shadow’s’ + ‘Aragorn Heir to the White City’), it has made swarm decks a more likely choice for play. This would be one of the most effective anti-Moria card the Dwarves have (Zero Cost, has a continuous ability + another ability upon discarding it).

ELF:
• Arwen Daughter of Elrond: With other key Anti-Nazgul cards being removed from Standard Format (eg. ‘Flaming Brand’ + ‘O Elbereth’), it has left the Elven culture to pick up the pieces, Arwen is steadily being seen more in starting fellowships to help try and deal with the increased possibility of Nazgul decks.
• Defiance: More anti-Nazgul as explained for Arwen.
• Legolas Prince of Mirkwood: More anti-Nazgul as explained for Arwen.
• Release of the Angry Flood: Again more anti-Nazgul, with the chance of rendering ‘Ulaire Enquea’ useless before he can use his Maneuver ability.
• Elrond Herald to Gil-Galad: He is the next best substitute for the other version of Elrond (Lord of Rivendell) which is not permitted in Standard Format and adds a nice healing ability to any fellowship side requiring it.
• Galadriel Lady of the Golden Wood: With the increased use of Elven Companion’s, her healing text is invaluable. Unfortunately her site ability see’s little use at present.
• Secret Sentinals: The use of elf allies is on the increase which bring’s this condition removal card back into circulation. Even more useful now that there is an ever present flow of Orc decks in Standard (eg. Sauron direct damage, Warg and Moria Swarm decks)
• Council of Elrond: I have seen an increased use in this card purely for pulling key tale cards for heavy archery decks such as ‘Tale of Gil-Galad’ + ‘Saga of Elendil’.

GANDALF:
• A Wizard is Never Late: This card has always seen some use, mainly in the old ‘Trust Me as you Once Did’ decks, but with the release of ‘Ents’ it is seeing a more versatile use.

GONDOR:
• Shards of Narsil: This has become a staple card in making Knight Deck’s work – thus with the release of Knights it is seeing more play.

ISENGARD:
• Bred for Battle: This never saw a huge amount of play prior to the release of ‘Helms Deep’ and Standard Format, but now that there is no ‘Savagery to Match Their Numbers’ and the fact that this works well with Beserker decks it is starting to rear its ugly head a lot more.
• Hate and Anger: Who needs ‘Goblin Swarm’s’ to make a swarm deck work? Simply by uniting Moria with a few cheap cost Uruk-Hai, you can utilise this card to give you another 3 cards to work with, if you happen to pull more minion’s you get that same swarm effect ;-)
• Saruman Servant of the Eye: Works well with ‘Warg’ decks. Being able to help choose who defends against them, can quickly turn your opponent’s large fellowship into a mini version.

MORIA:
• Watcher in the Water: Your probably thinking……’what the hell’s he adding tentacles into this list for?’ Well your right in a way, they definitely don’t see much play in tournaments but in league’s and social play, they saw a rise with the release of the Gollum culture card ‘Evil Smelling Fens’.
• Foul Tenticle: Same as above for ‘Watcher in the Water’
• Huge Tenticle: Same as above for ‘Watcher in the Water’
• Fool of a Took: The chances of coming up against another hobbit (other than the ring-bearer) has increased due to – 3 hunter/unbound hobbit decks + frodo/sam/smeagol promise type decks….. not to mention that nearly every deck ‘splashes’ in a ‘Sam, Son of Hamfast’ just to help against burden decks. This can give you a large advantage when drawing extra cards…… and if not – oh well it didn’t cost you anything to play it ;-)
• Hide and Seek: Same as Above for ‘Fool of a Took’

NAZGUL:
• Helpless: As mentioned before, the chances of coming across ‘Sam’ has greatly increased (and may keep increasing once ‘Ents of Fangorn’ is released – if you havnt seen the spoiler for ‘Fell Beast’ yet, lets just say that Nazgul burden decks just got a lot easier to make happen).
• Black Steed: Nazgul in general are seeing a lot of play in Standard Format, due to cards like ‘Flaming Brand’ + ‘O Elbereth’ being on the X List – So by combining a ‘Black Steed’ with a ‘Nazgul Sword’ your giving a Nazgul a minimum of +4 Strength and that’s before the Plains and Burden bonus’s that each possession can add to that.
• Fear: With an increase in the use of Elrond and Galadriel (as above), getting rid of them has never been more vital or easier than by using this card.
• News of Mordor: Has become easier to use with the introduction of Grima Wormtongue or Chief Counselor….. Nasty stuff!
• Wreathed in Shadow: Some of the most common fellowship’s to come up against in Standard are archery heavy Elf/Gondor decks – what better way for the new favourites (Nazgul) to get around that than with this card.

SAURON:
• Mordor Enraged: Who would have thought that this card would make it onto this list, but with the loss of ‘Forces of Mordor’ from Standard Format as a twilight boost and the current heavy use of Fellowship Archery this could be the next best thing. Particularly useful on a Saruon minion with high vitality such as a ‘Tower Assassin’ OR ‘Morgul Hunter’.

SHIRE:
• The Shire Countryside: This card is seeing a lot of use lately in Frodo/Sam/Smeagol decks with all of the burden removal that the Gollum culture can now offer – sometimes even combined with the addition of ‘Gandalf White Wizard’ + ‘Narya’.

Well that’s the list.
Please remember once again that this is taken only from knowledge in my area. Some of these cards may have already come into heavy use in your, whilst perhaps some of you are still yet to see these cards in use at local tournaments and perhaps you never will?
Most importantly remember to have fun and please leave your idea’s on what other cards are only NOW starting to see heavy use in your area, when/if you review my article.


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