Here we are another month later! For April’s Hero of the Month we are going to cover Haldir, of Lorien. Haldir is an interesting Hero with an interesting array of traits that get me excited with some of the cards we’ve seen spoiled for the upcoming cycle thus far. But let’s not ponder about the future, let’s delve into the past about who Haldir is both as a character in Middle Earth and as a card in the Lord of the Rings Living Card Game.
Haldir, as his full card name would suggest, was an Elf of the realm of Lorien. He and his brothers, Orophin and Rumil, protected the borders of Lothlorien with Haldir having watch over the North. Haldir stood out among his brothers, and a good bit of his other kin, due to his familiarity with the common tongue. Where some struggled with the language or chose to simply not learn it, Haldir became quite fluent. This ultimately became helpful when the Fellowship encountered Haldir, allowing the companions other than Legolas and Aragorn to discuss their errand to Haldir and his fellow Elves. Though his role is minor in the novels, and his portrayal in The Two Towers(film) is a major departure from the source material, Haldir certainly played his part in the Fellowship’s journey. He provided aide to the Fellowship when Orcs were at their heels right out of Moria, and was able to guide them safely into the guarded realm of Lothlorien to meet with Galadriel. Once the Fellowship was to depart, Haldir and his Elves lead the Fellowship to their boats and his name is never mentioned again.
So yes, he has a small role in the story. Given the Fellowship’s emotional and physical state I’d say they were quite fortunate to find someone of Haldir’s quality to help guide them, if only for a short while. There can be no doubt that he was a strong individual, especially among his people. Haldir and his grey cloaked companions were skilled rangers and trackers and boasted of their abilities to handle enemies (including the Fellowship) without being seen if they so chose. How well does that come across in Haldir’s card form? Quite well actually:
Before we dive into Haldir’s ability let’s quickly cover his stats. Starting at 9 threat he has a decent spread of stats 2/3/1 with 3 hitpoints. He won’t be doing much defending, not without risking lethal damage from even the more basic enemies, but he can do his fair share of questing and will most certainly be attacking. He also has the traits Silvan, Ranger, and Scout. Thanks to some particular attachments Haldir’s traits grant him the possibility to become a lethal presence on the board. Aside from these mysterious cards how is this possible? That is because of his ability. Besides having the Ranged keyword, Haldir’s text reads:
“Combat Action: If you have not engaged an enemy this round, exhaust Haldir of Lorien to declare him as an attacker (and resolve his attack) against an enemy not engaged with you. Limit once per round.”
Let’s break down a scenario that shows how Haldir can be a force to be reckoned with.
In the planning stage you can throw a good variety of weapon attachments on him due to his Silvan trait. For this example we’ll say we attach a Bow of the Galadhrim and a Rivendell Blade. Then, because we are in the Lore sphere, we draw some extra cards and pull a Wingfoot and promptly attach that to Haldir because he fits the Ranger requirement. The rest of the planning phase goes on and we commit Haldir to the quest, declaring “enemy” as the type of card in response to Wingfoot’s effect. Everyone commits to the quest and among the encounter cards revealed, Drowned Dead is one of them. Due to Wingfoot’s effect and our declaring enemy, we get to ready Haldir who still committed two willpower to the quest. Play continues and we move into combat where the Drowned Dead engages another player (we’ll say he’s playing Hobbits and they are badly wounded). Unable to fend off the pending attack from the undead without losing a Hero, the Hobbit player accepts his losses. Before the worst happens, however, the Haldir player has a window and using the card’s combat action can exhaust Haldir to attack the Drowned Dead. The Rivendell Blade reduces the Drowned Dead’s defense from 3 to 1 and the Bow of the Galadhrim increases Haldir’s attack strength to 5. With the Drowned Dead having only 4 hit points Haldir’s attack rips through its defenses, sending Drowned Dead to the discard pile before it can make its attack.
This is just one scenario that shows how powerful Haldir can be as a Hero. Combined with other cards (attachments, Heroes, etc.) a player controlling Haldir can control a fair bit of the board as far as enemies are concerned. Hands Upon the Bow, Galadhon Archer, Legolas, Pippin, and Feigned Voices are all cards that either serve to make Haldir more efficient in attacking, add more damage to enemies not engaged with the Haldir player, help in ranged attacks, or keep the Haldir player from having to engage enemies.
That last point is also Haldir’s biggest downside and where any player piloting a deck with Haldir has to stay alert. His ability is a combat action, which is fair and would otherwise make him a little overpowered, and so he can only react after enemies have made engagement checks. If an enemy were to work it’s way down to the Haldir player then his ability would be rendered unusable. Granted Haldir is still able to contribute to ranged attacks and he can still do enough damage to his own enemies a-la Quick Strike but he won’t be able to interrupt an attack being directed at another player. Thankfully he does have low starting threat, and combined with other cards (a good bit of them Hobbit related) the player controlling Haldir can keep their threat low and the enemy’s engagement costs high.
Where Hobbit style decks warrant players taking on powerful enemies sooner than expected to deal large amounts of damage, a player controlling Haldir wants to avoid enemies and either ensure they go to other players and kill them before they make their attack or try their best to keep said enemies stuck in the staging area. In a deck I will post later this week you’ll see that traps, and the Hero Damrod, help make it easier to keep enemies away from players entirely.
Thanks for reading!
-The Secondhand Took