March is here and so is a new Hero! While I was on vacation I thought long and hard about what Hero I was going to select for this month. Funny enough I decided to steer away from my initial decision and focus on a Hero that has proven quite powerful in my recent plays. That Hero is Faramir and more specifically his Leadership persona. Gameplay wise he offers a style that is almost in the opposite direction of his Lore counterpart, rewarding players for engaging enemies not only in the combat phase but throughout the round. His solid stats are nothing to scoff at either making him an excellent Hero for many builds.
Let’s get the Lore stuff out of the way first! Though he first appears in the second novel, Faramir is no less prominent in the War of the Ring. He was the second son of Denethor and his older brother was Boromir, a valiant Gondorian Warrior and eventual member of the Fellowship. Faramir was a Captain of Gondor, specifically over the Rangers of Ithilien. He and his company were charged with the task of keeping watch throughout the region known as Ithilien, the eastern most territory in Gondor which resided over the Anduin River. Faramir and his soldiers would ensure that Orcs and other allies of the Dark Tower would not be able to use Ithilien as a throughway into Gondor or to rendevous with other forces. At the time we meet Faramir in the novels the War is almost at it’s boiling point and the fact that the Rangers of Ithilien still had a presence so close to enemy territories is astounding. Thanks to Faramir’s leadership and the skill of his soldiers they were able to keep the lands as free of enemies as possible before ultimately retreating to the Gondorian Capital. Unlike his brother Boromir, Faramir was a more well rounded individual, possessing military skill, excellent leadership qualities, and a wise citizen of Gondor (due to his friendship with Gandalf the Grey). Though Aragorn currently takes the prize of having the most versions throughout the Spheres, I think Faramir and his qualities give him enough justification to be placed in any of the four main spheres.
As I’ve already stated, as a card Faramir does a great job representing his sphere! He was a great captain and his men had tremendous respect and faith in his leadership qualities. It’s therefore a very thematic win that Faramir’s ability reads as such:
“Response: After you engage an enemy, ready an ally you control. (Limit once per phase.)”
Faramir rewards engagement and can rally tired allies to be ready for whatever is coming. In some cases this will turn a questing ally into a defender or attacker. But there’s one type of ally that works exceptionally well with Faramir’s ability. I’m speaking, of course, of the Ents!
Just by himself, Faramir removes one of the only major drawbacks regarding the Ents, their “enters play exhausted” effect that is written on every Ent ally to date. Now cards like Treebeard and Derndingle Warrior can contribute to combat the round in which they enter play. Pretty much every Ent has the possibility to ready the turn they enter, bringing most of them up to par with Quickbeam who is so far the only Ent ally that doesn’t care about Faramir’s effect.
There are other allies that enjoy the opportunity to take advantage of Faramir’s ability. When engaging enemies outside of the combat phase, players can use allies like Warden of Healing, Errand-Rider, and basically any ally with an ability requiring exhaustion to get a free action.
Thanks to Faramir’s stats you won’t be too worried about enemies causing much trouble either. He has the well rounded stat line of 2/2/2 but also has a staggering 5 hit points. Stat wise he has the ability to take on any major role depending on player preference or the game state, be it quester, defender, or attacker. His traits only help to enhance this decision. His Gondor trait works especially with making him a great defender thanks to cards like Gondorian Shield or Dunedain Warning. Blood of Numenor is also another consideration in this regard.
If you want to make use of Faramir’s Ranged keyword then cards like Dunedain Mark and Gondorian Fire can go a long way as well. You can also have your cake and eat it too! In my case I often use Faramir as an early game defender while I set up my board and then switch him to a more offensive character, assisting other players around the table while my Ents take care of defending the enemies in front of me.
As far as Heroes go that work well with Faramir, Tactics Aragorn (or Scorpigorn), Lore Pippin, Mablung, Sam Gamgee, Halbarad can sweeten the reward of engaging enemies and a Hero like Prince Imrahil works with Faramir to increase a deck’s overall action advantage. With his Noble and Gondor traits, Faramir has a plethora of other trait specific cards and Heroes that he plays well with and the upcoming Dreamchaser Cycler has the potential to take the Ranger Keyword to new heights. Only time will tell!
The only potential downsides to Faramir are his starting threat and the fact that the Ally version will be unplayable when he’s on the board. Questing has become easier for most decks and unless you want to take your numbers off the charts, the inability to use Ally Faramir will feel like less of a blow. In some pick up games though I’m sure this could still be an issue, mostly due to player preference. Faramir’s starting threat of 11 is, for the most part, negligible thanks to his impressive stats. Granted enemies may come down sooner than you would like but with Faramir you’ll be rewarded for such a state and if you build properly you won’t even care. In a less than ideal scenario, Faramir’s 5 hit points can even take an undefended attack here and there.
Faramir is a very exciting and powerful Leadership Hero that will only get better as the card pool grows. At the moment the existence of Ents makes Faramir especially powerful. I’d like to say that even without the Ents, being able to ready an ally that was previously questing or exhausted due to a quest specific effect is powerful, especially since it can trigger once each phase.
Keep an eye out in the next couple of days for my first deck containing Faramir which also happens to be the deck I run most often currently. It’s very similar to a deck I posted some weeks ago (and is a list I’ve seen others post as well). Until then please let me know below what you think of Faramir, if you like him over his Lore version or if you’d rather just stick with the Ally.
As always, thanks for reading!
-The Secondhand Took.