Samwise The Brave – An in-depth Analysis

Good Morning Everyone! Or at least it is morning at the time I am writing up this draft. Depending on when it is all said and done, who knows? I could be wishing you a good evening, or a good night… we will see.

For those of you who don’t know (which are several I’m sure) I have just recently started this blog in the hopes of just adding to the community. Nevertheless, I wanted to contribute something unique. Hoping to stay true to my goals, I have decided to do a monthly series called “Hero of the Month” (catchy..right?). With these monthly heroes I hope to just consolidate some of the deck lists scattered around the internet and present them in a nice centralized location. Aside from Deck Lists, which could get old as the only material released for the series, I hope to also offer some in depth analysis and any other discussion topics which, of course, leads us to this particular post.

I won’t dive in to any lore regarding Sam. For the time being you can go to his intro page here. On that same page I hope to also post all the links to the various deck lists and articles involving Sam, such as this article.

Sam Gamgee is a Hobbit hero belonging to the Leadership Sphere. His starting threat is 8 and his stats read 3/1/1. He has 3 hit points and his text reads:

Response: After you engage an enemy with a higher engagement cost than your threat, ready Sam Gamgee. He gets +1 , +1 and +1 until the end of the round.

Oh, and his artwork is pretty damn awesome. Check it out:

Sam’s placement into the roster of Leadership heroes is a smart move, and truthfully the only other sphere I could see him belonging to is that of Spirit. This is most likely the reason for his 3 willpower which is a stat he shares with some very notable characters, Glorfindel, Elrond, Celeborn, Thorin Oakenshield, and lastly a certain Grey Wizard. Sam as a character is one of the most courageous and persevering throughout the novels and it makes sense that in terms of willpower that he stands among some other great and worthy characters.

That being said, Sam Gamgee is still a hobbit, and a gardener hobbit at that and so his other stats aren’t the best. With a measly 1 in both attack and defense, Sam can hardly make a dent on most forces of evil and will most likely fall to any enemy attack that comes his way. But that’s when his text comes into play, which I posted above.

When you the player decide to engage in an enemy greater than yourself, or in gameplay terms an enemy with a higher engagement cost than your own, Sam snaps into line. He readies himself (assuming he was committed to the quest) and comes back with a +1 boost in all of his stats. What’s worth noting is that this effect lasts until the end of the round, and can be stacked multiple times. Certain cards such as Hammer-Stroke and Westfold Outrider are examples on how you can really turn Sam into a tank, or one heck of an attacker. These effects, like the Outrider for instance, can be triggered at other phases in the game and can do some fun tricks to power through quests. Say you have 15 Willpower on the board, and the staging area shows 13. You can discard the Westfold outrider to bring down an enemy with a higher engagement cost. So let’s say that enemy has a threat of 3. You are now looking at 15 Willpower to 10 Shadow. Sam of course now has a +1 to his willpower making the final tally, 16 to 10. Not only that but Sam is ready to defend against this new enemy, or ready to attack if you have a defender in play. Needless to say Sam Gamgee as a hero is very interesting and I hope to see him develop more and more as the card pool grows.

Which leads me to my next point. Where Sam truly shines is in a hobbit themed deck. Right now I have had trouble, both in my deck building and in my search for deck lists, finding other shells that welcome Sam Gamgee more than that of a Hobbit Deck. Of course this is not a bad thing as Hobbits are all about dealing with foes that are greater than themselves. I’ll discuss a particular deck list in a later post but the ideal trio right now seems to be these three:

The synergy between these three heroes is amazing! Lore Pippin provides decent willpower for questing (his other stats don’t really allow him to do much else) and his ability helps provide a nice cushion by raising the engagement cost of enemies by 1 for each hobbit hero you control. As your threat increases and encounter effects lower the engagement cost of enemies, Pippin helps buy you an extra turn or two where otherwise you’d be past the point of no return. Once you engage an enemy you then get to draw a card as per Lore Pippin’s other effect. Sam then readies up with a nice little boost to his stats. Merry comes into play at this point. As his text reads, Merry gets +1 to attack for each hobbit hero you control. Once you destroy an enemy in an attack during which Merry participated, you can then ready another hero from the same attack. So Merry can come in and, along with Sam, wipe out an enemy. Sam can then ready up again, and maybe kill off one of the smaller enemies or chip away at the health of a larger enemy. These effects only get crazier in the Saga Expansions that are out right now, as the ring-bearers that we can choose from are different versions of Frodo which can increase your Hobbit Hero count to four!

As you can see, it’s hard to talk about Sam Gamgee without talking about these other two heroes. Again, I will be posting about a deck list around these three heroes in a later post.

Back to Sam. Being part of the leadership sphere gives players using Sam a whole array of tools. Sneak AttackCram, and Steward of Gondor, are just a few of the cards that come to mind that Sam can take advantage of. One that is also worth mentioning, and is certainly better with more hobbits around, is everyone’s favorite pony… Bill the Pony. It’s hard to pass up a free ally with the potential to give all of your heroes an extra hit point. The only issue with Bill would be how many copies you include, as multiple copies of him will certainly be dead in your hand.With other Hobbits as his partners, Sam Gamgee decks will most likely take on a more aggressive role (which is slightly ironic) dealing decent amount of damage and ducking and dodging enemies. With other heroes, I see Sam Gamgee decks taking on a more supporting role, possibly as a “tank” deck. One partner I’m considering with Sam Gamgee is Beorn, but we’ll see about that. Right now the biggest issue with Sam in other shells is that it’s hard to keep a low threat and therefore make Sam really worthwhile.

What are your thoughts on Sam Gamgee? Does his mechanic limit him to just hobbit themed decks? Or can he hold his own weight with other heroes?


4 thoughts on “Samwise The Brave – An in-depth Analysis

  1. Pingback: Hero of the Month – Samwise Gamgee | The Second Hand Took

  2. Pingback: Three’s Company – Samwise Gamgee | The Second Hand Took

  3. goterps

    Good start to your blog. I wanted to respond to a couple of questions you pose. One is that I believe that you can never have too many copies of Bill the Pony. If you draw a second copy, you can always leave him back to defend (assuming the 1 hit point won’t kill a hobbit hero) and then just play him for free the next round. As a free chump blocker, he is hard to beat. I picture this as Bill running off with the hungry troll or warg chasing him, only to reappear behind Sam a couple minutes later after the monster is dead or too tired to chase him.

    Also, I would say that Sam certainly isn’t limited to hobbit decks. His ability doesn’t require other hobbits to function (although Pippen and Merry do synergize nicely). Even if you end up not being able to trigger them because of a higher starting threat, the 3 willpower for 8 threat is still a great deal. If I am running Leadership and not dwarfs, I will usually include Sam.


    1. I definitely would agree in having 2 copies of bill the pony. I just wonder if 3 is too much. With that extra slot it’s possible to make another of the 2 of’s into a 3 of or possibly add another ally to the roster.

      I don’t think Sam is limited to hobbit decks either, but sometimes it is difficult finding other heroes that synergize well with him. Sam just gets a bit more clunky outside of the hobbit build if you’re not careful.

      Either way, thanks for the input! Glad you are enjoying it so far and I appreciate the questions. I always love these discussions.


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