Welcome to the next installment in my objective-ally review series! We have emerged from the Shadows of Mirkwood cycle and enter into the Dwarrowdelf cycle, in which there is only one objective-ally and the first to appear in two separate scenarios: Arwen Undómiel. This popular Noldor is included in both The Redhorn Gate and Road to Rivendell adventure packs. Let us begin!
Like most objective-allies, Arwen is drawn directly from the world of Professor Tolkien. While she is not referenced by name overmuch throughout The Lord of the Rings, she has a great influence over one of the main characters, Aragorn. But I am getting ahead of myself (Eagles tend to do that sometimes). [Warning: More possible spoilers ahead!] Arwen was half-elven, born in the year 241 of the Third Age of the world, the age in which our card game takes place. She was the daughter of Elrond (hence Half-elven) and Celebrian, Galadriel’s child. Arwen was the youngest of three children; she had two older twin brothers, Elladan and Elrohir, who are also heroes in the game. Because of her Half-elven heritage, Arwen had a choice to make in her lifetime: she could remain an immortal Elf, or become of the mortal race of Man. Arwen probably would have satisfied herself with the former option had she not met Aragorn, one of the few remaining Dùnedain, the last living heir of Isildur. He fell in love with Arwen, and she eventually came to return that love. It must be known that for a Man and an Elf to fall in love was nearly “forbidden” in a sense, as Men were mortal whilst Elves lived forever. Nevertheless, they promised to wed each other once Aragorn fulfilled Elrond’s requirement: Arwen could not marry him unless he became the king of both Gondor, a kingdom to the south, and Arnor, its fellow realm in the north. This meant that Aragorn would have to defeat Sauron, who commanded a strong influence over both lands. Aragorn accomplished this feat (read The Lord of the Rings to discover how) and Arwen chose a mortal life, remaining in Middle-earth as Queen of Gondor after her kin sailed West to the Undying Lands. She and Aragorn ruled Gondor for 120 years, having several daughters and one son, Eldarion, before Aragorn’s death in Fourth Age 120. Arwen died a year after, at the respectable age of 2,901.
Arwen’s relationship with Aragorn is crucial throughout The Lord of the Rings. Her love for him influenced many of his decisions and may have been the principal reason he embarked upon the quest in the first place. Even when a noble of Rohan, Eowyn, fell in love with Aragorn, he did not stray, though he felt compassion towards the niece of the king. [SPOILER ALERT ENDED.] Arwen is a thematic objective-ally and most certainly deserves a high rating.
Thematic Relevance: 5 out of 5
As far as stats are concerned, Arwen could be written off as weak. That’s hard to argue; she has 2 willpower, no attack, 1 defense, and only 2 hit points, immediately negating the option of attacker or defender. Like almost all objective-allies, the players lose the game if Arwen leaves play, so defending with her would not be a prudent move. However, two willpower is not to be overlooked, especially when it is given to the players at the commencement of two scenarios. Therefore, Arwen will spend most of her time questing. Now, if this were all she did, the Evenstar wouldn’t be much better than many conventional allies in the game. However, her card text reads,
“Response: After Arwen Undómiel, choose a hero. Add 1 resource to that hero’s resource pool.”
As questing occurs every round (I, for one, will always exhaust Arwen to commit her to the quest) one of the heroes on the table will essentially receive an extra resource. As it can go to anyone, the resource-gifting may allow players to purchase cards more swiftly and certainly provides some resource smoothing. Arwen’s ability pairs well with cards such as Steed of the Mark or Leadership Aragorn, as these cards require a resource’s payment to take effect. Arwen’s resource conveniently negates the loss of a resource for these and other similar cards. Thanks to her useful ability, Arwen’s rating rises a little, as one resource (or 2 willpower) may be the difference between victory and defeat.
Utility Rating: 3 out of 5
Arwen Undòmiel is a decently balanced objective-ally: highly thematic and relatively useful to the players. Perhaps she is not as burly as Grimbeorn or as intriguing as Gollum, but she can certainly affect the outcome of a game in a powerful manner.
Until the next parcel drops to the ground from my eyrie: “May the wind under your wings bear you where the sun sails and the moon walks!”