It’s now July and we are coming up on about eight months since I began this blog and roughly seven months since I decided to do a Hero of the Month. In that time I have covered six Heroes so far yet none of them have been from the Lore Sphere. This is for many reasons. The first is that I don’t play a lot of Lore. Outside of Lore Pippin the only other Lore Hero I continually use is Haldir and even he shows up in very few of my decks. The second is that admittedly it’s the sphere with which I’m the least familiar and so I’ve kind of been holding off on a Lore Hero while I continue to become more comfortable to the game (I still consider myself a newb 😛 )
But enough is enough and it’s high time this crazy took just takes a plunge and gives it a go. I struggled with which Hero to choose. I was actually close to using Faramir but will save him for just a regular deck list posting sometime in the near future. In the end the Hero that won out was none other than everyone’s favorite Ent: Treebeard!
I’ll get to the art in a second but let’s get into our Lore (no pun intended) overview.
Treebeard or as he’s also called, Fangorn, is an Ent, a very ancient and mysterious race that appeared in Middle Earth roughly the same time as the elves. To go an extra level deep they were created by Yavanna. She was of the Ainur and oversaw all things that grew. With that in mind when she discovered the creation of the Dwarves and their likelihood of felling trees to support their craftsmanship she created Ents to protect the trees from peril and destruction. This was quite the task though, and by the time we the reader meet Treebeard we can see that Yavanna wasn’t entirely successful. The Ents were practically forgotten and some of them even began to take on more tree-ish traits and lost their ability to shepherd and protect. But enough about Ents. How about a little more about Treebeard.
Treebeard is one of the oldest Ents, if not the oldest. His true name is actually too long to say and the other name by which he goes, Fangorn, is but a miniscule segment of his full name. When he meets Merry and Pippin in the Two Towers he seems to have no knowledge of Hobbits, despite his being around since pretty much the dawn of Middle Earth. He regales to Merry and Pippin (once he trusts them) that he recalls when the Elves went about teaching the trees to speak. He even mentions that the world at one point was basically a enormous forest and that he would wander around observing as much as he could and taking in everything. Sometime during the Third Age Treebeard developed a friendship with the Wizard Saruman and at the time Merry and Pippin meet Treebeard he isn’t entirely up to speed on just how far Saruman had fallen. Treebeard would later on become a pivotal player in the War of the Ring, especially thanks to the Hobbits, Merry and Pippin.
Being a walking talking tree that is essentially not really a tree makes Treebeard a fascinating character and subject. Being a character that has been around since the Elves woke up makes him even more interesting. There is truly nothing like Treebeard or the Ents in the rest of the Lord of the Rings novels. This can be said not only about the lore surrounding them and their history but also of their characteristics. They are incredibly slow folk (making even Hobbits appear quick to act) and aren’t exactly violent. Yet we soon discover that there is a hidden power in them. They are very much a representation of the Earth and meant to protect nature and so they also represent the latent strength in nature as well. Their strength is unmatched, should something drive them to act so violently and hastily. And still they are very wise and have a vast knowledge of Middle Earth’s inhabitants and forests.
That’s quite a lot to take in to be perfectly honest, especially when designing a Hero card. When Treebeard was first released as a unique Ally I wasn’t at all upset and would’ve been satisfied. But given Treebeard’s involvement with the War of the Ring I think everyone knew we would see a Hero version of the oldest Ent in existence at some point or another. I think Treebeard as a Hero is another thematic and mechanical win for the designers. Before this article gets too wordy, let’s jump right in to the card itself:
Treebeard is a Lore Hero (which represents his vast knowledge of the living beings that reside in Middle Earth). He has a starting threat of 13 which, although quite high, I feel is thematically appropriate. The Ents were all but forgotten but it didn’t take long for them to make their presence known once they were pushed to action. His stat line reads 2/3/3 and he has 5 hitpoints. These are very good stats and though I think his defense could maybe be higher keeping it at 3 keeps him from being too powerful but may also represent his willingness to throw himself into harm’s way and his lack of concern for his own well-being once angered. His text reads as follows:
“Cannot have Restricted Attachments.// Action. Deal 1 Damage to Treebeard to give him +1 Willpower and +1 Attack until the end of the phase (limit 5 times per phase).”
Again, another thematic win. The fact that he cannot have attachments is perfectly fine. He’s already a very powerful Hero and being able to equip him with certain items such as a Gondorian Shield or Rohan Warhorse would not only be too powerful but a very large departure from theme. His Action is very thematic for the same reasons I mentioned in regards to his defense. Once Treebeard sets forth, he has little regard for his own safety and will strive to accomplish his goal at any cost. This is evident in not only the fact that he gets his willpower and attack boost via damage but that a player can activate it a whopping five times per phase.
I’m thrilled to have Treebeard as a Hero. His trait is surprisingly useful thanks to some newer attachments we’ve been given and he works thematically quite well with a couple of Heroes I’ll cover later in the coming weeks. As for the specific cards that interact nicely with him I will save those for my analysis article that I hope to have up later in the week. Until then please let me know what you think of Treebeard in the comment section below. Likewise, if you have any deck lists with Treebeard or cards you like to combo with him feel free to send them my way if you’d like me to cover them!
-The Secondhand Took