I think everyone breathed a collective sigh of relief (and potentially shouted in joy) when we saw the release of Arwen Undomiel in Hero form. Her Ally version has been around since the Khazad-Dum Cycle and has been prevalent in the Meta continuously ever since. It was only a matter of time until a Hero was bound to pop up hopefully give players a reason to exclude their favorite Spirit Ally. A couple of years later we got our wish and not only is this card powerful in its own right, it shifts the meta in interesting ways.
Arwen Undomiel is best known as Aragorn’s partner. Aragorn, a very very distant relative of Arwen, met her at a young age in Rivendell. There they began to show interest in each other and Arwen, being half-elven and able to choose how she lived her remaining years, considered the notion of living her life with a man. Her father had been against it claiming that only when Aragorn, the Heir of Isildur, was king of Gondor and Arnor would Aragorn be allowed to marry her. So they parted ways and met again in Lothlorien where their love blossomed even more. She was given the Ring of Barahir, as a token of his love and he parted. After the War of the Ring the two married and had several children while serving as King and Queen. Arwen is a lot more than her love story, which is a great story in and of itself. She was the daughter of Elrond Half-Elven, granddaughter of Galadriel, and her beauty was close to that of Luthien, marking her as one of the fairest of her kind. Though Arwen’s role in the novel is minor, so far as what is presented to the readers, it was because of Arwen and her love for Aragorn that motivated most of his actions, impacting the story in a very large way. She isn’t as powerful or influential as her father or grandmother were to the Fellowship and War of the Ring, but she was a powerful character nonetheless. Like many Heroes represented in this game, the designers had their work cut out for them in creating a card that gave the character justice. Thankfully they did that and more!
Arwen has some rather impressive stats for a Hero. Her stats read 3/1/2 with 3 Hitpoints and 9 starting threat. This steers her away from the well rounded Heroes we’ve seen lately and puts her in a more specialized category. Looking just at her stats she will be questing 90% of the time, though with some helpful attachments she could be a half decent defender as well.
She has the Noldor and Noble traits which are very nice to see. The Noble keyword tends to interact well with some resource smoothing attachments and allies, while the Noldor keyword continues to grow in strength. We are seeing more and more cards that take advantage of the Noldor keyword and their interaction with the discard pile which of course brings me to Arwen’s ability:
“Action: Discard a card from your hand to add 1 resource to a Noldor hero’s resource pool, or to Aragorn’s resource pool. (Limit once per round.)”
A quick note: Nice job on the theme throwing in the “Or to Aragorn” line. I chuckled a bit when I read that part. Back to more serious observations, Arwen provides a source of resource ramping and even smoothing to a degree. Her ability can be just as simple as throwing it on herself and giving that player an extra spirit resource or it can be given to one of her brothers for instance, which each represent Leadership and Tactics. I sometimes want to have a leadership Hero in my dual/tri-sphere decks just so I can play the Errand-Rider for resource smoothing. With Arwen I may not be forced to go down that path unless I have other, better reasons for doing so.
Already Arwen’s ability is quite powerful just with how it uses resources. If this card were to come out independent of the Noldor trait I’d say many players would still be happy to use her. However we are much luckier than that. The Noldor trait is growing strong and thanks to certain cards Arwen’s ability opens up fun interactions that have not been toyed with before.
The key card that comes to mind for this is Elven-Light. Normally this card would not be that useful thanks to its requirement to be in the discard pile but thanks to Arwen we have a reliable source of discard. This interaction has already been talked about to great length by other contributors on the web but with these two cards we can essentially turn resources into cards or cards into resources whenever we want.
An oldie but a goodie, Light of Valinor goes well on Arwen. Being pretty straightforward, this 1-cost attachment keeps Arwen ready for other actions (such as defending or attacking). But what it really does is allow us to take advantage of this lovely card: Tale of Tinuviel. Being Noldor, we can attach Light of Valinor to Arwen, leaving her free to quest. Then we get a nasty enemy during the staging step and it comes down our way. We can defend with a Dunedain, perhaps Aragorn (any version). Then we play Tale of Tinuviel and we exhaust Arwen to ready Aragorn. Now Aragorn is defending with the opportunity to attack back and his stats are all boosted by 3 (Arwen’s printed willpower).
Arwen is one of the most exciting Heroes to date. With her stats, ability, and traits she is capable on her own and she can find a purpose in many deck builds and styles and not just a Noldor build.
What are your thoughts on Arwen? I’ve already seen many players use her in different styles to mostly positive degrees of success. As always leave your comments/questions below and thanks for reading!
-The Secondhand Took