“Faithless is he that says farewell when the road darkens.” One of the more memorable quotes of the Lord of the Rings Trilogy comes at a major turning point in the story and is spoken by none other than Gimli, son of Gloin, faithful and stalwart member of the Fellowship. He is also December’s Hero of the Month!
Gimli is one of those characters that often gets the short end of the stick. For younger readers, his character is overshadowed by the likes of Aragorn, Gandalf, or Sam Gamgee, and his qualities risk going unnoticed. In the PJ films he is delegated to a more comedic role. As far as the novels are concerned, I was glad to eventually appreciate him as I grew older. Right from the get-go Gimli was quick to assist the Ringbearer and prove his loyalty. When Elrond makes note that none are sworn by oath or bond to go farther in the quest than they would wish, emphasizing in particular that they do not know what trials await that may sway them from their path Gimli is quick to point out that only a faithless individual would flee in times of peril (hence the quote). Though the argument continues a bit further, and both sides have their points, Gimli already shows promise that he will be a fierce companion in the adventure to come.
The strength of a lasting friend and a brave ally, the idea that together the weaker can overwhelm the strong, these are all major themes throughout Tolkien’s story. While Gimli is certainly not the only poster child for this philosophy, his friendship with the Elf-Prince Legolas is and is perhaps one of the most notable relationships in the novels. They begin as tolerable partners, both doubting the other in their decisions and characters, though they quickly develop a bond that nearly rivals that of Frodo and Sam. More importantly, their eventual trust in one another is hard to behold or believe in the current age, since Elves and Dwarves rarely communicate and highly distrust each other in a world on the verge of falling to darkness and hate. How well has this been portrayed in the game?
Gimli has so far been represented in paper on three different occasions. The first is as a core set Hero representing the Tactics Sphere. His ability increases his damage dealt as he takes more wounds. Gimli’s first iteration can easily interpreted as thematically appropriate, albeit a little abstract. It can be assumed that Gimli is taking damage for his allies, and that his selflessness strengthens his resolve, making him all the more prepared to strike down his foes.
The next time we see Gimli is several packs later as a Leadership Ally in the Treason of Saruman Saga Expansion. While Gimli’s stats are more or less the same his ability is drastically different. This time Gimli has the sentinel keyword (probably something his original version should have had, in this Took’s opinion) and has an interesting response effect that readies him when an enemy is revealed from the encounter deck. This makes Gimli a more well-rounded character, allowing him to help out in many phases of the turn, not just during combat.
A lot less time had gone by until a few weeks ago when we got our third version of Gimli. He returns, this time, to his Hero status but keeps his Leadership Sphere and his Sentinel keyword.
Gimli again has a response ability but this time it reads:
“Response: After Gimli is declared as a defender, spend 1 resource from Gimli’s pool to ready another hero. If that hero is Legolas, he gets +1 <att> until the end of the phase. (Limit once per phase).”
For starters, I like that instead of internalizing Gimli’s strength as a powerful force of good, we get to see it’s effects spread outward. Rather than readying himself, Gimli can ready any other Hero on the board. A failed Wingfoot trigger can be negated, opening up characters such as Haldir of Lorien for the chance to attack. Defending heroes like Beregond or Frodo Baggins can be readied for more defense during combat intensive rounds. Then there is Legolas. Interestingly, Gimli partners especially well with the most recent Legolas mostly due to how that Legolas effects Gimli, not the other way around. Either way, Legolas will be receiving an attack boost which is a perfect way to provide us players with thematic juiciness without making things overpowered.
Gimli’s traits serve him well. Being a warrior, he has the chance to use defensive attachments like Captain of Gondor and his noble lineage unlocks Heir of Mardil and Captain’s Wisdom. Having the Dwarf trait has it’s obvious merits too. A bevy of attachments become available, almost too many to list. Classics like Ring Mail or Hardy Leadership help make Gimli a better defender or bolster a dwarf deck respectively. Coming in as the new hotness* is Dwarven Shield. It’s effect is tailor made to make Gimli a better defender while providing him an easy resource to ready the new Legolas. Whether or not it’s a worthwhile addition to a deck containing new Gimli has yet to be seen in the meta.
And speaking of the meta! The community is already hard at work creating decks. Chrsjxn has made a deck that only requires the Core Set and Sands of Harad Expansion, making for a quick and easy entry into the game. His deck is appropriately titled Harad Starter Deck. Beorn, from Hall of Beorn, created a rather aggro focused deck called The Three Hunters Aggro. Jakehage6 has also made a Three Hunters Deck enthusiastically named The Three Hunters are Real. His deck also focuses on beefing up the three Heroes. Where Beorn’s deck is combat focused, jakehage6 aims to make his Three Hunters well rounded, providing a bevvy of attachments that keep them ready for all aspects of the game. Naturally Seastan has also taken a crack at Gimli with his deck Legimlivor. Instead of featuring the Three Hunters, Seastan has swapped out Loragorn for Beravor. While Beravor brings some of the card draw and access to the Lore Sphere, Seastan’s goal is to deck out Legolas and Gimli with a series of attachments that either combo or provide a hilarious amount of synergy, truly turning them into a dynamic duo.
At the time of writing this article there are only 9 decks featuring Gimli. Of the nine decks, seven are “Three Hunter Decks” with the latter being (to coin a term introduced by Seastan) LeGimliVor decks. Though this may hint at a weak showing in response to the return of Gimli, it may mean that the meta hasn’t found a combination of cards to take Gimli further. Or perhaps they have, and a Three Hunters or LeGimliVor are the two strongest options. As the cycle continues and we see an increase in “dual-trait” cards like Unlikely Friendship we may find Gimli reaching a higher tier. It’s possible that Gimli could find a home in a Dwarf Deck (or at least alongside Dain Ironfoot) or in some yet-to-be discovered shell. Who knows. But I look forward to finding out.
Have you had any luck with Gimli? What decks have you built, if any? How about a secrecy deck with Legolas? Whatever your thoughts may be on our newest Dwarf Hero please feel free to comment below!
Until next time, as always, thanks for reading.
-The Secondhand Took