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EBerling

Land of Sorrow - Remaining Cards

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21 hours ago, Amicus Draconis said:

While Unexpected Courage is only once in a core set, that is no reason to only include one copy in your or your ally's deck. And with Support of the Eagles and some eagle allies you can easily reach 7 attack and defense, allowing you to drop the unusable restricted attachments out of your deck. At the time when you will have run out of eagles, Born Aloft, Flight of the Eagles and Meneldor's Flight, you very likely will have found at least a single copy of UC.

There are 5 non-unique, non-encounter eagle allies which you can play 3 times each. 3 eagles are unique (Gwaihir excluded), so you can only have one in play at a time, but especially Wilyador can be used to ready Gwaihir at the end of the round. 4 of these eagles have a forced discard, 3 of which can be prevented through paying a resource. That means you can ready Gwaihir at least 5*3+3*1=18 times in different planning phases (counting the uniques only once), at least 11 times in combat phases (3 times each for Vassal, Guardian, Descendant, once for Landroval and Meneldor), 3 times in quest phases for the Emissary and at least once for Wilyador at the end of a round. With careful planning this can ready Gwaihir for 33 rounds, which is more than enough time to find UC or threat out. And even if you use his stats twice in the combat phase, this will be enough for 16 rounds, which is still longer than most games I have played. And while the Eagles of the North are not reliable, they can save you a response from Hirgon for another round and add another eagle which can leave play. Interestingly the combined resource cost of all cards is 48, which also take 16 rounds to collect, provided you do not use Radagast, Mablung or Hirgon for extra resources or cost reduction.

The Vassal does not need an extra target to ready Gwaihir, just let them attack in conjunction and Gwaihir is ready for the next round, which saves you an eagle in the next planning phase. Swift and Strong does work, if you use Elf-friend and Rivendell Bow. Heir of Mardil, Steed of the Mark and all the events can work on both Gwaihir and Boromir, if you grant them the right traits or keywords. Grima has a limit once per round, which is less frequent than Gwaihir's once per phase restriction.

But in the end it just comes down to whether you are willing or able to put a single copy of Unexpected Courage on him before you run out of eagles, which should not be too hard, at least in a multiplayer game.

Not everyone proxies cards; I don't do it myself except with damaged cards.  And as it's out-of-sphere, you need a partner deck to have access to UC at all.  But even with a willingness to proxy and other decks to find UC, there still remains the other problem -- there are a lot of heroes who do something more interesting with their exhaustion than Gwaihir can.  Support of the Eagles has the same problem, as powerful as it get to be, it's also powerful on other ranged tactics heroes or other ranged sentinel heroes, or even someone like Boromir who has neither ranged nor sentinel (without assistance) but can guarantee two exhaustions in the combat phase.

Yes, if you draw all your eagles, spread them out, and have the ones that like to leave play leave play you could ready Gwaihir 33 times.  But drawing and playing all your eagles is hardly guaranteed, and more to the point while this is good for *Gwaihir*, it's not actually good for Eagles!  In a more normal Eagle deck, you don't want your Guardians and Vassals to leave play until they can buff Misty, and you *do* typically want to get most Eagles in play ASAP, not dribble them out when Gwaihir needs a ready.  Once again, if Gwaihir readied normally like any other hero, he could get some "free" readying from things that eagles like to do anyway, but pushing Gwaihir's readying requirement on the backs of the poor Eagles forces them to play abnormally.  You will also be including cards like Meneldor's Flight and Born Aloft that often don't make the cut in a Gwaihir-free Eagles deck.  Eagles are good [required] for Gwaihir -- I don't see Gwaihir as being good for Eagles.  Imagine if Celeborn didn't buff Silvans, but had great stats and readied only when a Silvan entered or left play.  Could he ready a lot?  Normally, yes.  But would he be good for a Silvan deck?  Not hardly.

It's a good point that a post-attack readying *is* good for Gwaihir, unlike most heroes in the game, because it can substitute for the missing end-of-turn ready.  At long last, we've finally got a natural partner for Tactics Brand in another deck.

Yes, if you use trait-fixing you can expand the options for both Boromir and Gwaihir, but when hero A can use a readying effect without trait-fixing and the other cannot, it's fair to give the advantage to the hero who doesn't need a three-card-combo to take advantage of Swift & Strong.  Repeatable readying via attachment is much more interesting, and the only one Gwaihir can add via trait-fixing is Heir of Mardil (and even with adding Noble, Boromir still has the advantage with Heir triggering due to the LeDenethor combo).  Throwing trait-fixing in also gives Boromir access to Snowmane and Armored Destrier, neither of which can be used by Gwaihir.

Grima can be used only once per round, to get multiple Doomed readies Saruman will have to fall back on the 11 different Doomed events he can use to ready, all but one of which is zero cost, and all but one can be played in any action window.  Not that you'd *want* to do that since his staff can only negate one Doomed per turn -- the Saruman comparison was about *ways* to ready, not how many times a hero would ready in a typical round.  I'd guess the hero with the highest number of average readies in actual play is Sam due to his ability, usefulness in every-phase, and access to Fast Hitch.  Gwaihir won't change that.  Here's the significance of the Eagles timing breakdown:

Wilyador and Eagles played in planning can substitute for the missing end-of-turn refresh.

LeFrodo can ready Gwaihir, but only if Gwaihir exhausted to quest.

SpLegolas or Hirgon-eagle-playing or Eagle Emissary leaving play can ready Gwaihir before the combat phase

Chumping or LeGimli or WG going away can ready Gwaihir after a defense has been made

Vassal, TaBrand, TaMerry can ready Gwaihir after an attack can be made.

You can opportunistically insert other readies with Born Aloft/Meneldor's flight.

Of these effects, only hero effects are inherently repeatable, though playing eagles in planning is *likely* for much of a given quest.  Assume that Gwaihir is ready after the planning phase due to played eagles and/or TaBrand/TaMerry readying.  What does Gwaihir need to get actual action advantage?

Quest/combat -- repeatable with LeFrodo, SpLegolas, Hirgon (will drainEagles out of hand faster), or once per Eagle Emissary

Defense/Defense -- repeatable with LeGimli or once per WG or eagle chumped -- but in all cases requires a defense *between* Gwaihir's own defenses.  Even with natural sentinel and Support of the Eagles, you need three defenses in order to defend with Gwaihir twice.

Defense/Attack -- repeatable with LeGimli, TaBrand, or once per WG or Vassal or eagle chumped.  A bit wider than the defense/defense combo, but you still need either a defense or an attack *between* Gwaihir's defense and Gwaihir's attack.

Attack/Attack -- repeatable with TaMerry, TaBrand, or once per Vassal.  This scenario does not require an in-between attack, as TaMerry and TaBrand and the Vassal can attack *with* Gwaihir and ready him immediately.  As a bonus, if there's not another target he's already ready for the next round.  The down side is that the natural Eagles-readying is only one cheap ally; for repeatable readying, you need to be attacking with TaMerry or with TaBrand in another deck.

Gwaihir is a combat hero, he has excellent stats and both ranged and sentinel.  But his readying *inside* the combat phase is badly timed, he has to skip a defense in order to defend twice, and has to skip a defense or attack in order to both defend and attack.  For a hero who has so many ways to ready, getting *useful* action advantage isn't as easy as it looks.  Obviously, the more players at the table, the less crippling the skip-a-combat requirement will be and the more slots will be available elsewhere to make room for LeGimli or TaBrand.

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21 hours ago, General_Grievous said:

5. Lastly, Gwahir makes a decent Grey Wanderer with his epic stats and the contract’s built in readying. Also he pairs great with the heroes that ready another character like Frodo/Legolas.

The problem I see with Grey Wanderer Gwaihir is that his Eagles need resources, and if you're providing resources with the contract you're not using his contract to ready.  So I don't think you'd enjoy much action advantage with Gwaihir and would have to use the contract every turn just to get him to ready at all.

Of the other-hero-readiers, I think LeFrodo is by far the weakest.  Since Gwaihir has to quest with him, he can't ready Gwaihir if he's already exhausted, and it also requires questing successfully.

SpLegolas is the second weakest, not just because a card is typically more costly than a resource, but because the only action advantage he enables is quest/combat, and with only 2 willpower for Gwaihir it's not *that* special.  Still, Legolas can ready a Gwaihir who wasn't readied in planning, so he's a great option to have around.

LeGimli I like a lot, since any enemy Gimli defends Gwaihir will be able to attack.  He's also the only hero-readier who can allow defense/defense from Gwaihir, though that requires three enemies to defend against.

TaMerry is the lone hero-readier who is a good fit in Gwaihir's own deck, he provides tactic resources for Eagles, he's low-threat so helps with Gwaihir's huge threat, and he can consistently attack with Gwaihir to either enable another attack or ready Gwaihir for next turn.  His weakness is that the requirement to attack *with* Gwaihir means he can't set up defend/attack action advantage.  Downside is that Merry's attack won't be bolstered by Gwaihir, and the other tactics hobbit hero wants hobbits in the deck, not eagles.

TaBrand is the lone hero who can set up defense/attack action advantage, though that requires him to be able to destroy an enemy engaged with Gwaihir's deck and without Gwaihir's help.  He can set up attack/attack though, and like Merry can leave Gwaihir ready.  And like Merry, his readying is "free" instead of costing a resource or card.

For maximum Gwaihir potential, he wants to be in a fellowship with all of these guys....

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Grey Wanderer lets you choose 2 options at once, so you can ready and get resources. The timing problems with doing that on round 1 apply to Gwaihir as well as any other hero, but starting from round 2 Gwaihir actually makes very good use of both the readying and the resources during the planning phase--- he doesn't have to intentionally time his use of the contract to make full use of it.

 

 

 

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1 hour ago, GrandSpleen said:

Grey Wanderer lets you choose 2 options at once, so you can ready and get resources. The timing problems with doing that on round 1 apply to Gwaihir as well as any other hero, but starting from round 2 Gwaihir actually makes very good use of both the readying and the resources during the planning phase--- he doesn't have to intentionally time his use of the contract to make full use of it.

 

 

 

Haha beat me to the explanation, you get to choose two options, often the readying/healing are wasted since you want the resources during planning most rounds. And with stats like a boss/support of the Eagles you usually wont need healing. All of the secrecy cards to get more resources and summoning high cost allies is great with Eagles. And you could even throw in all the copies of ally Radagast in hopes that you’ll get him for free for some more help with Eagles.
With Gwahir you will always be able to use the readying and resources every round. I think he is arguably one of the best heroes for that contract. Haldir and Treebeard are two other solid choices though, but until we see the final cards from the pack, solo Gwahir is looking like the way to play our winged friend. 

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23 hours ago, MikeGracey said:

EotMM can defend for more but Gwaihir has sentinel.... Which makes me wonder. Do you play mostly as a solo player or multiplayer?


I predominately play multiplayer (I have two different groups that I play 3-Handed with), though I do play solo a fair amount as well (especially as I tweak or alter decks to get a feel for them).  

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Posted (edited)
35 minutes ago, General_Grievous said:

Haha beat me to the explanation, you get to choose two options, often the readying/healing are wasted since you want the resources during planning most rounds. And with stats like a boss/support of the Eagles you usually wont need healing. All of the secrecy cards to get more resources and summoning high cost allies is great with Eagles. And you could even throw in all the copies of ally Radagast in hopes that you’ll get him for free for some more help with Eagles.
With Gwahir you will always be able to use the readying and resources every round. I think he is arguably one of the best heroes for that contract. Haldir and Treebeard are two other solid choices though, but until we see the final cards from the pack, solo Gwahir is looking like the way to play our winged friend. 


I agree that a Wandering-Gwaihir is a tantalizing option, and I tinkered with it initially a bit, but I think it has some notable limitations:

  • First and foremost, he auto-loses any quests which require carrying Restricted objective items (which is, especially early on, a fair amount of quests), so you're forced to only play him in multi-player where other players' heroes can try and carry all the restricted objectives for you 
  • In a similar vein, he cannot start with the One Ring + Master Card, which is a potent boon to other Wanderers as it thins their deck and gives them access to the Master cards
  • At already 13 Threat (and with the Contract costing 1 threat to use each turn), Gwaihir is not in secrecy long, which means he's got a very narrow window to use Secrecy Cards (and has a hard time getting access to Threat Reduction).  It also means you can't really use Doom cards like Deep Knowledge or a Timely Aid --> OHUH Gandalf quite as well as other Wanderers.  Also, at only 2WP, even with Strider there are many quests where Gwaihir may come up short in WP against the initial starting Staging Area threat, and if he raises his threat from failed questing on Turn 1 he might be out of Secrecy very quickly.
  • Tactics is (arguably) the worst sphere for a Wanderer (card draw from Lore, Resource Acceleration or Ally Acceleration (Timely Aids , Sneaks, etc) from Leadership, Cancellation Protection from Spirit).  Not having cancellation protection is especially painful (since you can't even One Ring + The Master Ring like other Wanderers), and a lot of treacheries go from painful to "you lose" when you are a Gray Wanderer, especially solo.
     

That said, a lone Gwaihir just flying round is super thematic and a lot of fun, depending greatly on the particular quest/fellowship.  If nothing else, it's finally a reason to use Ally Radagast, which is awesome in and of itself!  I will likely return to trying to get a Gray Wander Gwaihir to work someday, but in the meantime I've settled on other heroes for when I want to Wander.

Edited by EBerling

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38 minutes ago, EBerling said:


I agree that a Wandering-Gwaihir is a tantalizing option, and I tinkered with it initially a bit, but I think it has some notable limitations:

  • First and foremost, he auto-loses any quests which require carrying Restricted objective items (which is, especially early on, a fair amount of quests), so you're forced to only play him in multi-player where other players' heroes can try and carry all the restricted objectives for you 
  • In a similar vein, he cannot start with the One Ring + Master Card, which is a potent boon to other Wanderers as it thins their deck and gives them access to the Master cards
  • At already 13 Threat (and with the Contract costing 1 threat to use each turn), Gwaihir is not in secrecy long, which means he's got a very narrow window to use Secrecy Cards (and has a hard time getting access to Threat Reduction).  It also means you can't really use Doom cards like Deep Knowledge or a Timely Aid --> OHUH Gandalf quite as well as other Wanderers.  Also, at only 2WP, even with Strider there are many quests where Gwaihir may come up short in WP against the initial starting Staging Area threat, and if he raises his threat from failed questing on Turn 1 he might be out of Secrecy very quickly.
  • Tactics is (arguably) the worst sphere for a Wanderer (card draw from Lore, Resource Acceleration or Ally Acceleration (Timely Aids , Sneaks, etc) from Leadership, Cancellation Protection from Spirit).  Not having cancellation protection is especially painful (since you can't even One Ring + The Master Ring like other Wanderers), and a lot of treacheries go from painful to "you lose" when you are a Gray Wanderer, especially solo.
     

That said, a lone Gwaihir just flying round is super thematic and a lot of fun, depending greatly on the particular quest/fellowship.  If nothing else, it's finally a reason to use Ally Radagast, which is awesome in and of itself!  I will likely return to trying to get a Gray Wander Gwaihir to work someday, but in the meantime I've settled on other heroes for when I want to Wander.

 

While the restricted restriction does make it harder, it’s not an auto-loss impossible, sword-thain can let you turn a unique ally into a hero to grab it, and is possible with a bit of setup. Harder for sure but I mean we are using Treebeard as a wanderer.

 

He also can’t take the master ring which is a big negative so I’ll give you that. 

 

The no threat reduction isn’t really a concern, the first non-unique card each round you can play off-sphere so after a few rounds you can drop a Galadhrim’s Greeting or Gandalf (the latter would be great with Gwahir’s Debt and ally Radagast that you’d be trying to play anyways!)

 

And while 4 willpower is a bit short I find that 3-5 is a decent start for most average decks. Not everyone can mono-Tactics Boromir, Theoden and Eowyn quest at 10 starting round. 

 

And final point tactics is easily the hardest to play true solo anyways so the added challenge is something to note but in my mind to embrace especially for the aspect of the awesome theme you pointed out.

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I don't proxy cards either, unless they require an errata. UC is out of sphere for Gwaihir, yes, but that does not mean, I need a partner deck to include it. I happen to like tactic/spirit decks (paired with lore/leadership). Are you mostly playing one-handed solo mono-sphere?

My first target for UC is usually the defender and Gwaihir happens to be one. And while there are heroes with fancy actions that require an exhaustion, not all of them need UC. They either need better stats than Gwaihir, an exhaustive ability, which can be used multiple times, or a combination of both. So let's see, who might qualify:

Dori needs someone else to defend in the first place, so he is not a primary candidate for UC.
Galadriel's ability has a limit, though through Nenya or her Mirror she can exhaust a second time. But without her toys there is no need for UC yet. The same goes for Elrond with Vilya and Círdan or Gandalf with Narya.
Denethor has some nice encounter deck manipulation and depending on the quest, he can greatly benefit from UC.
All other exhaustive abilities are either limit once per round or responses to revealing cards.
Merry, Eleanor, Fatty Bolger, Argalad and Beravor have worse stats than Gwaihir and thus have no higher need of UC than him. This only leaves Haldir of Lórien, as long as he has increased his attack.

In most quests there is no demand to ready a hero based on willpower alone, so they need a combat stat that is higher than Gwaihir's. For attack, without any weapons there are only Beorn, who cannot have attachments, Gimli with at least 3 damage on him, Na'asiyah with a pile of resources, Bard the Bowman against non-immune enemies not engaged with him, Grimbeorn the Old against non-immune enemies and a pile of resources, Faramir with 3 enemies in the staging area and Treebeard when self-damaging. Éowyn might use UC with her ability to attack for 10 twice, but that would make the card pretty useless afterwards.
For defense without any armour there are only Beregond, Na'asiyah with a pile of resources and Spirit Dain Ironfoot when discarding a card. Erkenbrand does not have more defense but innate shadow protection when self-damaging. Leadership Dáin wants to be ready after defending, but only has one hitpoint more.

Most of the heroes mentioned above need a keyword, healing to compensate for their abilities, attachments or resources to surpass Gwaihir in combat, so they need some extra combo pieces, which are about as hard to find as UC itself.

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23 minutes ago, Amicus Draconis said:

For attack, without any weapons there are only Beorn, who cannot have attachments, Gimli with at least 3 damage on him, Na'asiyah with a pile of resources, Bard the Bowman against non-immune enemies not engaged with him, Grimbeorn the Old against non-immune enemies and a pile of resources, Faramir with 3 enemies in the staging area and Treebeard when self-damaging.

Also Quickbeam and Saruman I guess.

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Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, Amicus Draconis said:

I don't proxy cards either, unless they require an errata. UC is out of sphere for Gwaihir, yes, but that does not mean, I need a partner deck to include it. I happen to like tactic/spirit decks (paired with lore/leadership). Are you mostly playing one-handed solo mono-sphere?

My first target for UC is usually the defender and Gwaihir happens to be one. And while there are heroes with fancy actions that require an exhaustion, not all of them need UC. They either need better stats than Gwaihir, an exhaustive ability, which can be used multiple times, or a combination of both. So let's see, who might qualify:

Dori needs someone else to defend in the first place, so he is not a primary candidate for UC.
Galadriel's ability has a limit, though through Nenya or her Mirror she can exhaust a second time. But without her toys there is no need for UC yet. The same goes for Elrond with Vilya and Círdan or Gandalf with Narya.
Denethor has some nice encounter deck manipulation and depending on the quest, he can greatly benefit from UC.
All other exhaustive abilities are either limit once per round or responses to revealing cards.
Merry, Eleanor, Fatty Bolger, Argalad and Beravor have worse stats than Gwaihir and thus have no higher need of UC than him. This only leaves Haldir of Lórien, as long as he has increased his attack.

In most quests there is no demand to ready a hero based on willpower alone, so they need a combat stat that is higher than Gwaihir's. For attack, without any weapons there are only Beorn, who cannot have attachments, Gimli with at least 3 damage on him, Na'asiyah with a pile of resources, Bard the Bowman against non-immune enemies not engaged with him, Grimbeorn the Old against non-immune enemies and a pile of resources, Faramir with 3 enemies in the staging area and Treebeard when self-damaging. Éowyn might use UC with her ability to attack for 10 twice, but that would make the card pretty useless afterwards.
For defense without any armour there are only Beregond, Na'asiyah with a pile of resources and Spirit Dain Ironfoot when discarding a card. Erkenbrand does not have more defense but innate shadow protection when self-damaging. Leadership Dáin wants to be ready after defending, but only has one hitpoint more.

Most of the heroes mentioned above need a keyword, healing to compensate for their abilities, attachments or resources to surpass Gwaihir in combat, so they need some extra combo pieces, which are about as hard to find as UC itself.

My most experience with Eagles is actually playing a progression descendant of Beorn's Path spirit/tactics deck (Thalin/TaGimli/SpEowyn), which was an Eagles deck in Dwarrowdelf/Hobbit/Numenor/Ringmaker -- I phased out the Eagles completely only when I got to Derndingle.  A solo Eagles deck with double tactics is totally viable, especially with all spheres having some good questing heroes now.  And though the threat hit would be high, I think Eowyn/Gwaihir/Gimli would certainly be viable, since outside of cycles with 1-hp enemies Gwaihir has more potential, and when one of the two UC shows up I'd put it on Gwaihir over Gimli so I could guarantee he is ready and could defend.

That's not to say the deck wouldn't be better if I swapped out Gwaihir for Grimbeorn or TaBeregond or TaBoromir or Mablung (or any tactics hero that can defend four 4+ with a single Gondorian Shield), and every last one of those guys is lower threat than Gwaihir.  The deck's not especially good for Gwaihir -- with splash spirit there are spirit cards I want/need to include, not just my 1-3 copies of UC, and that deck space has to come from somewhere.  Gwaihir wants to be in a deck with all the eagles, plus three copies each of Born Aloft and Meneldor's Flight.  That's hard to justify in an Eagles deck, so I see Gwaihir's natural home as a full-blown kitchen sink Eagles deck, and that means mono-tactics is the way to go.  You can also have a big Eagles deck combining double tactics with Gandalf, Elrond, or especially Radagast, but those guys have toys that demand deck space too, and they're all to my mind more attractive UC targets than Gwaihir anyway.

As you say, Gwaihir's best potential is as the defender, and I agree the best target for UC is a heroic defender, barring exhausting abilities you want to use elsewhere.  Gwaihir has great defensive bones, but even aside from his readying issues, he's hampered by having natural access only to Support of the Eagles, which is both expensive and needs WG or buffed Misty in play for defense -- and that works equally well on any *other* tactics defender (or for splashers in an Eagles deck, Song of Battle -- I'd add that to my Radagast Eagles deck both to help pay non-Eagle tactics cards and to make him a Support target, because the only thing better than a heroic defender with Support is a heroic defender with Support *and* A Burning Brand).  But the other thing that hampers him is that his "natural" readying is rarely between defenses, only with WG leaving play, [or LeGimli readying him].  So a *ready* Gwaihir with UC attached is only good for two defenses, same as any other defender with UC, with Gwaihir having the handicap that you can't *guarantee* he's ready in the first place without exhausting UC.

Without sphere-fixing, Support can only go on Tactics heroes (including Gandalf if he plays it himself).  But it doesn't have to go in the Eagles deck, nothing requires it to choose an eagle you control.  So whether part of the Eagles deck or not, all tactics heroes can take it.  All other tactics heroes except Quickbeam (and Beorn, who can't use support either) can take 1-2 of the *many* restricted armors that boost defense in addition to Support.  This is another hard obstacle for Gwaihir, though he has a trump card that someone like TaBeregond can't match -- if there's only *one* defense needed, he is powerful on the attack.  Still, in a multiplayer situation where I expect multiple defenses to be common, which of the defensive-potential Tactics would I pass over as a Support/UC target?  Gwaihir is a 3/4 defender.

Gandalf is a special case since he has to play Support himself, but he's a *much* better UC target since he can quest better, use Narya or Word of Command, and with Shadowfax gets an extra ready plus ranged/sentinel.  He can also play ABB on himself.  He starts at 3/5.  Definitely would prefer Gandalf.

Boromir is 2/5 and neither ranged nor sentinel, but he starts with guaranteed readying (sadly nerfed to once per phase), gets to 4/5 with 1-cost Gondorian Shield, can naturally take Blood of Numenor and Gondorian Fire.  Despite the lack of sentinel and ranged, I'm definitely buffing SuperBoromir over Gwaihir.

Beregond is 4/4, and 6/4 with a free Gondorian Shield and also sentinel.  If you're looking for multiplayer sentinel defense, it doesn't get any better than Beregond.

Theoden is only 2/4, but he's sentinel already, can attack for three, and is boosted by 3 for both Goldien Shield and Herugrim (sadly, only one each).  Much easier to boost his defense, I'd prefer him as a target.

Mablung is only 2/4 but deserves mention because he's often an Eagles deck staple for his resource generation.  Natural access to G. Shield is good, as is Blood/Fire *on a hero that generates resources*.  Lack of sentinel diminishes his potential, but I think his upside is greater than Gwaihir in the same deck.

Dori is 2/5 and sentinel, so Gwaihir starts with a point of defense on him as a repeat defender, though lacking a hit point.  But Dori can take many defensive boosts that Gwaihir can't, and he has the unique ability among heroic defenders to help provide heroic defense safely *even when at the point of death*.  I've played a ton of Dori fellowships and UC doesn't generally go on Dori (the one Dori fellowship that used an Eagles deck had TaTheoden/Dori/TaAragorn), but if the only two targets for Support/UC to set up a heroic defender were Dori and Gwaihir, I'd go with Dori -- his defensive potential is higher due to Restricted access.

Na'asiyah is 2/4, but can be 4/4 by spending a resource.  She lacks sentinel (or ranged) but her defensive potential is higher and her starting attack with buff matches Gwaihir.  Not a good fit for an Eagles deck because she can't pay for allies.

Tom Cotton is 3/3 and lacks sentinel.  But if you're going to set up an inpenetrable multi-defender with Support of the Eagles, you can't do better than a Hobbit with access to Fast Hitch.  Support works for the *whole round*, so all you need is Arwen and Bob's your uncle.  Since he synergizes with Hobbits he's unlikely in an Eagles deck, but that's no impediment to Support and he's a fine tactics splash in a Hobbit deck.

Grimbeorn is 3/5 sentinel and can counterattck for effective-five.  Absolutely no contest here, Grimbeorn is *vastly* better as a Support/UC choice.

Amongst the other tactics hero, Aragorn, Legolas, Bard, Thorin and Merry all have when-attacks abilities that would be handy to trigger more than once in a round, so are attractive UC/Support targets.  Elladan has unlimited (until the resources run out) attacks, so synergizes *extremely* well with Support if you've got enemies to kill.

Once you get away from tactics Support needs sphere-fixing, but there's a lot of sentinel defenders who can buff their defense more easily than Gwaihir, plus  Beravor, Galadriel, Elrond with Vilya, Cirdan with Narya, Argalad and Denethor with useful stats and exhausting abilities.  The more players at the table, the more likely it is that *somebody* will benefit more from UC being attached to them than Gwaihir will.  Gwaihir benefits a lot from UC, both from guaranteeing he will be ready at least once a round and to ready him in windows (like between consecutive defense) where Eagles won't.  But Gwaihir having the greatest need for UC doesn't translate into UC necessarily being most valuable on him.

Gwaihir's combat stats are excellent, and it's true that most heroes need combo pieces to surpass him -- but when they get those pieces, surpass him they will.  Whether the other pieces are hit quicker or slower than UC/Support doesn't matter much, because those two cards can be used to great advantage on other heroes as well; there is *no* attachment or event I can think of which benefits Gwaihir and none of his competition.  But I think the combo pieces will be hit sooner to buff defense, since heroic defenders or attackers typically have *multiple* attachments to boost their stats, not just relying on a single 3x, and Open the Armory makes them easier to find than other cards in the deck.  By the time UC shows up, Gwaihir may not have the best combat stats, and long-term he certainly won't keep them.  Replacing sentinel/ranged is a tougher task, though depending on how combat capable the other decks are -- and how often the quest can keep enemies away from the combat deck -- this may not be such a big deal even with multiple players.

Edited by dalestephenson

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30 minutes ago, dalestephenson said:

My most experience with Eagles is actually playing a progression descendant of Beorn's Path spirit/tactics deck (Thalin/TaGimli/SpEowyn), which was an Eagles deck in Dwarrowdelf/Hobbit/Numenor/Ringmaker -- I phased out the Eagles completely only when I got to Derndingle.  A solo Eagles deck with double tactics is totally viable, especially with all spheres having some good questing heroes now.  And though the threat hit would be high, I think Eowyn/Gwaihir/Gimli would certainly be viable, since outside of cycles with 1-hp enemies Gwaihir has more potential, and when one of the two UC shows up I'd put it on Gwaihir over Gimli so I could guarantee he is ready and could defend.

That's not to say the deck wouldn't be better if I swapped out Gwaihir for Grimbeorn or TaBeregond or TaBoromir or Mablung (or any tactics hero that can defend four 4+ with a single Gondorian Shield), and every last one of those guys is lower threat than Gwaihir.  The deck's not especially good for Gwaihir -- with splash spirit there are spirit cards I want/need to include, not just my 1-3 copies of UC, and that deck space has to come from somewhere.  Gwaihir wants to be in a deck with all the eagles, plus three copies each of Born Aloft and Meneldor's Flight.  That's hard to justify in an Eagles deck, so I see Gwaihir's natural home as a full-blown kitchen sink Eagles deck, and that means mono-tactics is the way to go.  You can also have a big Eagles deck combining double tactics with Gandalf, Elrond, or especially Radagast, but those guys have toys that demand deck space too, and they're all to my mind more attractive UC targets than Gwaihir anyway.

As you say, Gwaihir's best potential is as the defender, and I agree the best target for UC is a heroic defender, barring exhausting abilities you want to use elsewhere.  Gwaihir has great defensive bones, but even aside from his readying issues, he's hampered by having natural access only to Support of the Eagles, which is both expensive and needs WG or buffed Misty in play for defense -- and that works equally well on any *other* tactics defender (or for splashers in an Eagles deck, Song of Battle -- I'd add that to my Radagast Eagles deck both to help pay non-Eagle tactics cards and to make him a Support target, because the only thing better than a heroic defender with Support is a heroic defender with Support *and* A Burning Brand).  But the other thing that hampers him is that his "natural" readying is rarely between defenses, only with WG leaving play, [or LeGimli readying him].  So a *ready* Gwaihir with UC attached is only good for two defenses, same as any other defender with UC, with Gwaihir having the handicap that you can't *guarantee* he's ready in the first place without exhausting UC.

Without sphere-fixing, Support can only go on Tactics heroes (including Gandalf if he plays it himself).  But it doesn't have to go in the Eagles deck, nothing requires it to choose an eagle you control.  So whether part of the Eagles deck or not, all tactics heroes can take it.  All other tactics heroes except Quickbeam (and Beorn, who can't use support either) can take 1-2 of the *many* restricted armors that boost defense in addition to Support.  This is another hard obstacle for Gwaihir, though he has a trump card that someone like TaBeregond can't match -- if there's only *one* defense needed, he is powerful on the attack.  Still, in a multiplayer situation where I expect multiple defenses to be common, which of the defensive-potential Tactics would I pass over as a Support/UC target?  Gwaihir is a 3/4 defender.

Gandalf is a special case since he has to play Support himself, but he's a *much* better UC target since he can quest better, use Narya or Word of Command, and with Shadowfax gets an extra ready plus ranged/sentinel.  He can also play ABB on himself.  He starts at 3/5.  Definitely would prefer Gandalf.

Boromir is 2/5 and neither ranged nor sentinel, but he starts with guaranteed readying (sadly nerfed to once per phase), gets to 4/5 with 1-cost Gondorian Shield, can naturally take Blood of Numenor and Gondorian Fire.  Despite the lack of sentinel and ranged, I'm definitely buffing SuperBoromir over Gwaihir.

Beregond is 4/4, and 6/4 with a free Gondorian Shield and also sentinel.  If you're looking for multiplayer sentinel defense, it doesn't get any better than Beregond.

Theoden is only 2/4, but he's sentinel already, can attack for three, and is boosted by 3 for both Goldien Shield and Herugrim (sadly, only one each).  Much easier to boost his defense, I'd prefer him as a target.

Mablung is only 2/4 but deserves mention because he's often an Eagles deck staple for his resource generation.  Natural access to G. Shield is good, as is Blood/Fire *on a hero that generates resources*.  Lack of sentinel diminishes his potential, but I think his upside is greater than Gwaihir in the same deck.

Dori is 2/5 and sentinel, so Gwaihir starts with a point of defense on him as a repeat defender, though lacking a hit point.  But Dori can take many defensive boosts that Gwaihir can't, and he has the unique ability among heroic defenders to help provide heroic defense safely *even when at the point of death*.  I've played a ton of Dori fellowships and UC doesn't generally go on Dori (the one Dori fellowship that used an Eagles deck had TaTheoden/Dori/TaAragorn), but if the only two targets for Support/UC to set up a heroic defender were Dori and Gwaihir, I'd go with Dori -- his defensive potential is higher due to Restricted access.

Na'asiyah is 2/4, but can be 4/4 by spending a resource.  She lacks sentinel (or ranged) but her defensive potential is higher and her starting attack with buff matches Gwaihir.  Not a good fit for an Eagles deck because she can't pay for allies.

Tom Cotton is 3/3 and lacks sentinel.  But if you're going to set up an inpenetrable multi-defender with Support of the Eagles, you can't do better than a Hobbit with access to Fast Hitch.  Support works for the *whole round*, so all you need is Arwen and Bob's your uncle.  Since he synergizes with Hobbits he's unlikely in an Eagles deck, but that's no impediment to Support and he's a fine tactics splash in a Hobbit deck.

Grimbeorn is 3/5 sentinel and can counterattck for effective-five.  Absolutely no contest here, Grimbeorn is *vastly* better as a Support/UC choice.

Amongst the other tactics hero, Aragorn, Legolas, Bard, Thorin and Merry all have when-attacks abilities that would be handy to trigger more than once in a round, so are attractive UC/Support targets.  Elladan has unlimited (until the resources run out) attacks, so synergizes *extremely* well with Support if you've got enemies to kill.

Once you get away from tactics Support needs sphere-fixing, but there's a lot of sentinel defenders who can buff their defense more easily than Gwaihir, plus  Beravor, Galadriel, Elrond with Vilya, Cirdan with Narya, Argalad and Denethor with useful stats and exhausting abilities.  The more players at the table, the more likely it is that *somebody* will benefit more from UC being attached to them than Gwaihir will.  Gwaihir benefits a lot from UC, both from guaranteeing he will be ready at least once a round and to ready him in windows (like between consecutive defense) where Eagles won't.  But Gwaihir having the greatest need for UC doesn't translate into UC necessarily being most valuable on him.

Gwaihir's combat stats are excellent, and it's true that most heroes need combo pieces to surpass him -- but when they get those pieces, surpass him they will.  Whether the other pieces are hit quicker or slower than UC/Support doesn't matter much, because those two cards can be used to great advantage on other heroes as well; there is *no* attachment or event I can think of which benefits Gwaihir and none of his competition.  But I think the combo pieces will be hit sooner to buff defense, since heroic defenders or attackers typically have *multiple* attachments to boost their stats, not just relying on a single 3x, and Open the Armory makes them easier to find than other cards in the deck.  By the time UC shows up, Gwaihir may not have the best combat stats, and long-term he certainly won't keep them.  Replacing sentinel/ranged is a tougher task, though depending on how combat capable the other decks are -- and how often the quest can keep enemies away from the combat deck -- this may not be such a big deal even with multiple players.

Again you put Gwaihir in a solo context, while I see him as a fellowship hero. But even in a solo Tactics/Spirit deck with UC, I am no longer reliant on his response to ready at all. In such a deck you could pack Winged Guardian, The Eagles are Coming, Landroval, Descendant of Thorondor, Vassal of the Windlord, Eagles of the Misty Mountains, Support of the Eagles, Meneldor, Flight of the Eagles, Eagle Emissary and Wilyador. That is at most 33 cards out of 50, or 2 thirds of your deck with 2 thirds of your heroes being Tactics, which is what I would strive for. Of course you do not need 3 copies of each card, so you can include Born Aloft, Flight of Meneldor or Feint.

If you want to combine double tactics with Radagast in a solo deck, UC has no sphere match. For Elrond you need Vilya first and then the question is, whether you need more willpower, attack or A Burning Brand. For Gandalf the question is similar, but both heroes have special attachments for action advantage (Light of Valinor and Shadowfax) and thus less need for UC.

I did not say, that Gwaihir's best potential is as a defender. I said, that I prefer UC primarily on defenders and Gwaihir is one (due to sentinel and 3/4). But with 4 attack he can also succesfully be used as an attacker if needed.

I would not waste a Winged Guardian to ready Gwaihir as long as I have access to cheaper Vassals or one of the eagles with leave play effects. And there still are Flight of the Eagles, Meneldor's Flight and Born Aloft to ready him between defenses.

With Leadership in the mix he has access to Dúnedain Warning, within Lore there is Protector of Lórien. And as long there is no new FAQ also A Burning Brand with Song of Wisdom.

"Many" restricted armors that boost defense are not available for all other tactics heroes except Quickbeam and Beorn: Most of them have trait requirements with only Round Shield (conditional) and Gondorian Shield available to everyone. But then do you really need more than 7 defense in most cases? And if you do, there is still time for taking some damage or a eagle chump blocker, which can ready Gwaihir.

Shadowfax is an argument against UC on Gandalf, as it does the same, just better.

Gondorian Fire and Blood of Númenor can be slapped on anyone with Steward of Gondor, which you most likely will use to pay for these effects. And while Boromir has lower threat than Gwaihir, it will not last long with his ability.

Sure, Beregond is the best defender in the game, but he also is a one trick pony. Gwaihir can also quest and attack, if the situation calls for it.

Théoden does have his toys, but you have to find them first, they work only once per round (as you already said), he is not ranged and does not ready as easily as Gwaihir in the combat phase.

Dori has less defense than Gwaihir, which itself is a bad thing. You need defensive attachments on him, otherwise he will die faster than Gwaihir. And before I put any defensive attachments on Dori, I put them on the main defender in the first place. And again Gwaihir can reach 7 defense with Support and a Winged Guardian, you will need 2 restricted attachments on Dori in addition to Support to surpass that (he is neither Gondor nor Noble). At least the other heroes on this list do not need extra defense buffs.

You already said enough about Na'asiyah: She does some things better than Gwaihir and others worse.

Tom Cotton does not have any keywords, less hitpoints, less attack and needs attachments to ready in the combat phase while Gwaihir has the potential to do so while another eagle does something useful like buffing EotMM, nuking the staging area or shuffling an eagle into the encounter deck. And with a lot of attachments, I can turn most heroes into a super defender.

Grimbeorn with UC soaks a lot of resources, so he also needs resource acceleration and then he will not contribute playing the eagle allies.

The other tactics heroes you mention all have their merits, but this time they cannot defend if necessary. Gwaihir has the flexibility to do both as needed.

As I said before, Galadriel and Círdan need their rings (or mirror) first to get any use out of UC, Gwaihir does so from the start. Beravor has a useful though limited ability, but as none of her stats is higher than Gwaihir's she is not a better target. Denethor's ability can be useful, but it depends on the circumstances whether it is better than 4 attack or 2 willpower. Argalad's stat also are not better than Gwaihir's and his ability is limited to once per round.

As I said above, many heroes can be better with enough attachments, but there is a point, where higher attack or defense just does not help you any longer, as you cannot overkill or overdefend your enemies. There are cards who benefit Gwaihir like Meneldor's Flight, which do absolutely nothing for the other heroes (except Éomer and Prince Imrahil), but they also need a lot of attachments to reach the Windlord.

True, Support of the Eagles is only 3x in a deck, but there are also other cards that work on him like signals, Arwen, Protector of Lorien and Black Arrow. And even in risk of repeating myself: 7 attack and 7 defense surely are not the highest stats reachable in the game, but they are more than sufficient for most situations.

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I'm not sure why you say I'm putting Gwaihir in a solo context, I've pointed out sentinel/ranged, mentioned multiplayer repeatedly, and I see Gwaihir's natural home as a mono-tactics Eagles deck, which are typically not solo.  Gwaihir's clearly better in a multiplayer context, he can get non-restricted buffs from other spheres and his sentinel/ranged can help cover enemies that escape the Eagles deck -- the most powerful Eagle has neither trait, only the one-shot Vassals and temporary Wilyador have ranged, and WG is the only viable sentinel option (Landroval also has it, but with 1 defense is a terrible repeat defender).  But I've found at least in my fellowship play that a hero defender lacking sentinel (especially early) is often *not* a crippling limitation, as the combat deck engages the most enemies and the most difficult enemies.  That's quest-dependent, but given a choice between two lockdown defenders, one of which has sentinel and the other of which can defend twice consecutively, I'll take the latter every time.  I find ranged on a hero much less important than sentinel; there's a wealth of inexpensive ranged attackers, and they can be combined to take things down.

Of the 11 cards you mentioned in the hypothetical Spirit/Tactics deck with Gwaihir, I think you want 3x of all of them with the exception of Landroval (1x), maybe Thorondor (2x), and if solo you can drop the unpredictable Flight of the Eagles.  So 27-30 cards before adding in Born Aloft and Meneldor's Flight, two cards that in a normal Eagles deck (especially not mono-tactics) often don't make the cut -- and with Gwaihir, you *want* 3x of both of those cards, not just to exploit Meneldor and Thorondor but to ready Gwaihir at an opportune moment.  Now you're up to 33-36 Eagles cards before adding a single spirit card in a spirit splash deck!  There's little room left for Feint and other fantastic TActics card.  There's little for Radagast and his staff, which is worth considering in a normal splash Eagles deck.  You also haven't added 3x Gwaihir's Debt yet (the ONE Eagles card actually made better by having Gwaihir hero in play), which wants ally Radagast in play *and* wants 3x Gandalf too.

Radagast as a lore splash is the natural off-tactics for an Eagles deck.  He doesn't have access to UC, but he is going to want his staff (3x) and Wizard Pipe, and Gwaihir's Debt, and 3x core Gandalf, and Messenger Ravens -- add those on top of the 33-36 cards Gwaihir's need, and there's no room for other Lore or Tactics cards.  A lot of heroes have toys that will eat into your deck space if you choose them -- Gwaihir needs over 30 cards to support his needs.  That's why I see him as ill-fitting anywhere but mono-tactics, at least in a three-hero deck.

It's absolutely true that with enough attachments you can turn any hero into a super defender, and with an Eagles deck Support can turn any tactics hero into a strong defender *and* attacker.  That's why the most important attribute in a super defender is *ability to ready*, and that's where Tom Cotton shines if he's at the same table with a Lore deck containing 3x Fast Hitch.  Yes, he needs Fast Hitch to get a readying advantage over Gwaihir, but once he has it attachment he can defend consecutively every turn, and the more copies he gets the more he can defend.  For Gwaihir to defend consecutive he can remove an Eagle from play to do something useful, but it costs a card (the event), board state (Eagle removed from play), and will need more resources to put the Eagle *back* into play.  It's *vastly* more expensive readying and it's not repeatable.  Eagles leaving play sacrifices board state and/or cards.  Gwaihir does nothing to provide card draw, but needs it badly, and his deck space demands and difficulty in getting weapons to exhaust preclude the few card draw options in Tactics.

This is also why Gwaihir can't compare with Grimbeorn.  Yes, repeat Grimbeorn will suck resources, but you won't always need to use his counterattack, and burning one resource for a counterattack is vastly cheaper than removing and replaying Eagles to keep Gwaihir readying!

It's true that Gondorian Shield and Round Shield are the only armors that can go on all those tactics heroes, but that's not my point -- each of those heroes based on traits has buffs that can go *on them* that Gwaihir doesn't have access to, while Gwaihir has access to *nothing* restricted and nothing non-restricted that wants any trait but sentinel or ranged.  Dori starts with one less defense than Gwaihir?  He also can take Gondorian Shield *or* Ring Mail, and other decks can give him Armor of Erebor or Dwarven Shield.  Tom Cotton starts at the same defense but can get G. Shield or Ring Mail, plus the non-restricted Hobbit Cloak.  Grimbeorn can get the wonderful Raiment of War, Captain of Gondor *and* Hauberk of Mail on him at the same time.

I don't agree with the logic that Shadowfax's readying means that Gandalf shouldn't be a UC target.  Getting Shadowfax makes Gandalf a *better* UC target, because you want to buff the hero that can ready *most often* -- plus it gives him both Ranged and Sentinel, matching Gwaihir's one big advantage. In addition, Gandalf has a repeatable exhaust-ability with Narya and a non-repeatable exhaust ability with Word of Command.  And he's a better quester too.  There's no possible way I'd waste UC on Gwaihir if Gandalf is at the table with Shadowfax on him.

Yes, UC is not useful on Galadriel if Nenya hasn't come out yet.  But being able to use both Nenya and Galadriel's ability is so useful that there's no way I'd put UC on Gwaihir over Galadriel just because Nenya's not out yet!  It's not transferrable.

The same is true to a lesser extent of Cirdan, though unlike Galadriel he can actually attack and defend.

I do put defensive attachments on the "main hero" before Dori, UC included -- but that assumes that there is a "main hero" to buff.  In a number of fellowships there never was a "main defender" and who Dori would end up buffing would vary.  For example, in our saga playthrough Dori's deck had Amarthiul, but any enemies engaging with the spirit deck would be covered by Dori directly early on, and later Arwen (with Light of Valinor) or Eowyn (with Snowmane/Golden Shield).  In another fellowship Dori would help out Beravor or Elanor as the situation demanded.  When Dori is being "spread around", it makes sense to buff Dori first; if you have Dwarven defensive attachments they only go on Dori, if you use Dunedain Warning starting it on Dori can let you get double duty on an assisted defense (boost Dori's defense when exhausting, then move it to the defending hero before the attack is resolved).

But if Dori's the intended Support target, you want buffs on him from the beginning, because once he gets that he is the tower.  And once he gets that, he's a fine attacker in his own right as well, making UC useful with only one defense needed -- that's the thing about Support of the Eagles, even though Gwaihir has the advantager over everyone if being used for both defense and attack to start with, once a hero has Support they *all* attack and defend well.

Blood/Fire can be slapped on anyone with Steward of Gondor, but Mablung is of special interest in that he generates resources *without* Steward and he doesn't need Steward to get it.  If Steward is shy (and for a 1x core player it's only a 2x core) Blood/Fire cards are dead if you don't have a natural target.  Steward is also such a useful target that you may have a better use for it than creating a Blood/Fire target.

Argalad's ability is once-per round, but he's a ranged attacker and his ability means you want to boost his attack ASAP so he can cause direct damage.  If there's an enemy in staging to use his ability on during the questing phase, it's reasonably likely there will be an enemy for him to attack in the combat phase; UC is a consistently useful card on him.  I'm not sure I'd put UC on Argalad over Gwaihir, since buffing him to 3 defense is still shy of Gwaihir but sufficient to cover most enemies.  But if his weapons came out before UC did, I'd give it strong consideration.

Unexpected Courage is a fantastic card on Gwaihir, it can guarantee that he's ready for the combat phase and most of the time it will let him take two consecutive exhaustions in the combat phase.  But like the Eagles themselves, Gwaihir needs UC more than it needs him -- UC is a fantastic card on a *lot* of heroes, and there's a lot of tactics hero that I would rather put Support/UC on than Gwaihir, because they bring something else to the table I value more than the sentinel/ranged combo and unreliable, board-state damaging readying.

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