Annnnnnnd there goes August. For those of you who read my one and only deck list for Merry (August’s Hero of the Month) you’ll recall I said something similar about my lack of scheduled blogging time. It felt a little something like this:
Griping aside, I did really enjoy the one deck I ended up creating for Merry, and am pleased with the two decks that contained him some weeks prior. I’m also glad to be in a new month not only so that I can leave the craziness of August behind me but so I have a chance to go over one of my favorite characters in Lord of the Rings: Legolas!
I say “one of my” favorite characters because as I’ve grown up I’ve found myself relating to or understanding some of the more dynamic characters in the story. I grew up with the films and the novels, but my twelve year old self was very much captivated by the trilogy of films New Line and PJ put out in the early 2000s. Even more so, I was very much a fan of Legolas and his cool swifty self, jumping across distances, shooting multiple arrows, and taking down oliphaunts singlehandedly. And, despite the fact that I’ve grown up, I still very much enjoy Legolas (both in the films and in the novels).
As always, I want to quickly go over this prince of elves and who he is as far as the story of Lord of the Rings is concerned. Legolas is of Sindarin lineage meaning his descendants accepted the invitation to journey to Valinor but ultimately never finished for various reasons. His ancestor was Oropher, a Sindarin Elf who lived in Doriath under the rule of King Thingol. After the War of Wrath and the destruction of Beleriand Oropher and other Sindarin elves retreated and eventually, having grown tired of living under the Noldor, joined up with the Silvan elves in forests like Greenwood the Great (eventually named Mirkwood). Oropher became King of Greenwood the Great and eventually fathered Thranduil who in turn fathered Legolas. Needless to say, Legolas is one of the few members of the Fellowship who has a true perspective on things by the time we are introduced to him in the novels. His father was a part of and knew of a great many things pertaining to the Second Age and therefore Legolas knew things that the Hobbits and men like Boromir knew close to nothing about. Given how “young” he was compared to other key elves at the time, Legolas served as a great representative of the elves in the Fellowship of the Ring, being a sort of bridge between the two ages. Legolas arrived in Rivendell to the council to share news of Gollum’s departure from the dungeons of Mirkwood. He joined the Fellowship and proved himself a valuable guide, protector, warrior, and friend. His relationship with Gimli the Dwarf is one of the more important relationships in the novels and was a rarity in Tolkien’s world, at least by the Third Age. Though Legolas was never as outspoken as someone like Gandalf or Aragorn he, like many of the Heroes represented in this card game, was very much a key player in the War of the Ring. Okay… that was a little more Lore than I expected…
On to the card, shall we?
Legolas is one of the core set Heroes, rightfully so given his role in the War of the Ring. His keen eyes and light-footedness kept the Fellowship from harm and his ability to see in dark/harsh conditions spared the Fellowship from a nighttime attack from a Nazgul riding a winged fell beast. Though he was valuable on the battlefield, he was often working with Aragorn in devising strategies, pushing his allies onward, and giving his own sage advise here and there. Nevertheless, his representing the Tactics Sphere is spot on as he was known primarily as a warrior. He was also a kind and faithful friend (seen by his protection of the Hobbits and his friendship with Gimli), and had great skill with a bow. Putting all of this into consideration Legolas’s core card is quite nearly a thematic home run. His stat line reads 1/3/1 with 4 hit points and 9 starting threat. He has the ranged keyword and his ability reads:
“Response: After Legolas participates in an attack that destroys an enemy, place 2 progress tokens on the current quest.”
With the minutia of his stat lines and what they represent put on the backburner, I think Legolas’s ability (like many of the Heroes in the life of this game) are what translate his novel character into a playable card. He has the ranged keyword for starters. Not only do I see this as a no brainer since his use of the bow is mentioned throughout the novels but his desire to assist his friends/allies was also one of the strongest. Though I imagine the inclusion of his keyword is due to the former, I like to consider the latter in regards to multiplayer games. Legolas can help anyone at the table and isn’t just in it for himself. Then there’s his response ability. Legolas was a skilled warrior but also quite intelligent (being an elf of royal lineage doesn’t hurt either). That being said, he was able to put his skills to good use and while he laid waste to his foes he continued to push his fellowship forward towards their ultimate goal.
Unlike several of the core set Heroes, Legolas still has some uses as the meta currently stands. Though his ally version is a threat in itself, Legolas is still the only Tactics Silvan Hero we have available.
That in itself is a big plus for using Legolas. There are many powerful tactics cards that want to use Silvans or other elves: Rumil, Bow of the Galadhrim, Rivendell Blade, Galadhon Archer. Given how much Silvan cards synergize with each other, if one were to go the combat route with the silvan strategy it would make little sense to have one third of your Hero base not be Silvan. So right now being the only tactics Silvan Hero is huge. Sticking with tactics, Legolas also has a very low threat which is something Tactics otherwise struggles with. Lastly, his ability to add progress tokens to the quest via combat is very valuable to a tactics player, at least in multiplayer games. As the number of players increases the need to quest becomes greater. Though the tactics player isn’t likely to become a questing powerhouse, having Legolas add the occasional progress here and there helps pick up the slack. And if the player controlling Legolas is able to kill multiple enemies (possibly using Rohan Warhorse and Hands Upon the Bow) then that’s even more progress.
There are only a few downsides to Legolas. Ironically, one of them is his ally version. The ally version of Legolas gives the player controlling him the ability to draw cards in lieu of the progress tokens the Hero version allows. Though this is possibly a matter of opinion, some may argue that drawing cards is more important in the long run. The other downside is Legolas’s Ranged keyword. In a solo game having such a Keyword has little to no value, except cards like Hands Upon the Bow still use the keyword well.
Even though the card pool continues to grow at an astonishing rate and some of the cards we are seeing are shifting the meta game in new and exciting ways I think Legolas is still a prominent and useful Hero. The good for using him far exceeds the bad and the bad is negligible in this Took’s humble opinion. He’s simple to use, easy to learn, and a blast to play! And he’s just an all round good Hero. What’s not to like?
Let me know what you think of the Prince of the Woodland Realm and if you still use him. Keep an eye out for a few deck lists in the near future and if you want to share your own just let me know!
-The Secondhand Took