This month I wanted to cover a remarkable Hero that has made appearances in a vast number of my decks and those of many others. While Pippin truly shines with his Hobbit kin, his global ability along with the card advantage he provides makes him one of the best Lore Heroes in the game. Better yet, Pippin is surprisingly splashable. Read on for more!
Let’s start with the lore on this Lore hero… heh. Pippin is one of the four Hobbits that sets out from Rivendell and, like all members of the Fellowship, plays a pivotal role in the story. In particular, he and his best friend Merry helped rouse the Ents into action while Pippin himself proved his valor after swearing an oath to the Steward of Gondor, Denethor, becoming a Guard of the Citadel shortly before the Battle of Pelennor fields. After that battle, Pippin joined with the remaining forces of the Free Peoples and fought at the Battle at the Black Gate. While many of the characters, and the Hobbits in particular, experience character growth in the trilogy, Pippin’s does stand out as one of the more dynamic. He is the most child-like, his curiosity and laid back nature attracting the ire of many foes and friends such as Gandalf who threw the classic “Fool of a Took” line at his face when the Hobbit brought the Fellowship into great peril. By the end of the trilogy, however, Pippin becomes a mighty warrior both abroad and at home, gathering a force of Hobbits to re-take the Shire. And, eventually, Pippin even becomes Thain of the Shire, a position of high respect in their culture. Considering that Elrond himself warned against Pippin’s joining the Fellowship, for lack of experience and in fear of his surviving, Pippin truly exemplifies the latent strength within Hobbits.
Pippin starts out with 6 threat, the lowest starting threat among the Hobbits, tied only with his partner-in-crime, Merry, and the lowest of any Lore hero. His stat line is 2/1/1 with 2 hit points and the Hobbit trait. Without going any further, Pippin is simply a low cost quester that provides easy access to the Lore sphere. While this isn’t incredible, it certainly isn’t bad either. His abilities take his value up a notch and place him a hand above many other Heroes.
Pippin’s 2nd ability reads:
“Response: After you engage an enemy with an engagement cost higher than your threat, draw a card.”
If you are ill prepared for enemies, perhaps taking up the questing mantle and little else, Pippin gives you the chance to mitigate your impending losses (whether it be an ally, or damaged Hero) by giving you the chance to gain some momentum, potentially drawing into solutions. If you’re prepared for an enemy and are still able to trigger Pippin’s effect, then you will find yourself keeping up with the encounter deck and eventually overtaking it. Even better, Pippin’s ability isn’t limited to a particular phase or a number of times it can trigger. Should you engage multiple enemies throughout the round, or find yourself falling victim to a card like The Ring Draws Them Near, then Pippin is a wonderful silver lining to a rather dreary affair.
The next ability Pippin possesses is perhaps his best, and fuels not only his above ability, but benefits all players at the table. It reads:
“Each enemy in play gets +1 engagement cost for each Hobbit hero you control.”
Should you be running 3 Hobbits, Pippin will potentially buy you and other players three extra rounds, delaying the enemy from engaging. If Pippin is your only Hobbit, then that one extra turn can be the difference from losing the game to winning the game, however small of an effect it may seem. Honestly, I should tally how many times myself or my play group has prepared to engage an enemy, dreading the potential consequences, only to realize that the enemy’s engagement cost of “X” is in fact “X+1” and that we can hold off another round. It’s fantastic. Simply fantastic.
Despite the Hobbit archetype being as fleshed out as it is, there aren’t many tools that Pippin should use. Fast Hitch, an amazing attachment for Tactics Merry or Frodo Baggins, is a bit wasted on Pippin. He isn’t much of a defender, and trying to boost up an already weak hero for combat is a waste of resources. Such cards can be thrown on the aforementioned Frodo or Merry. Rather, Pippin himself acts as a tool for other Hobbit related cards like Merry, Dagger of Westernesse, or Take No Notice. Looking outside of Hobbits, cards like Protector of Lorien can be used to turn Pippin into a more valuable quester, with the cards being drawn via Pippin serving as fuel for Protector‘s effect.
Pippin’s value lies in how he helps others, not so much those that help him. In a standard Hobbit deck, Pippin will award players with card draw, an extra attack boost for Merry, and the insurance that a Hero like Sam will, more often than not, have the ability to trigger their effect.
One of my favorite ways to take advantage of Pippin’s effect is in a deck that Warden Of Arnor created called Hasten the Ents. In that deck, Warden takes the “idea” of the Hobbit archetype, the benefit from engaging enemies, and spreads it to other traits, in this case Gondor and Ents which is a thematic home-run for the character. Joined by the likes of Faramir and Mablung, Pippin forms a trio of Heroes that rewards the player in three unique ways when an enemy is engaged (well… most of the time). Instead of engaging an enemy and getting an attack boost a la Sam Gamgee, Hasten the Ents will draw a card from Pippin, gain a resource from Mablung, and ready an ally from Faramir – and that ally should almost always be an Ent!
Pippin can also partner up with the likes of Damrod or Dunedain like Amarthiul and LorAgorn to supplement/support their trapping and engagement shenanigans. Tactics Aragorn also synergizes quite well with Pippin, drawing enemies away from other players while simultaneously creating card advantage. Haldir of Lorien will also vastly improve with Pippin on the table, his ability helping to ensure that Haldir’s effect will get to trigger.
A couple times now I have mentioned Pippin’s “Splashability” and that is probably is final great quality. Pippin doesn’t demand much of a player when included in a deck. As I mentioned with his tools, or lack thereof, Pippin doesn’t require cards to work around him but instead he himself works around other cards. His low threat is, of course, the other reason he’s a great splash hero. No other Lore Hero has such a small threat presence, and while someone like Mirlonde can get you close, you will see no other benefit from her ability, whereas Pippin can still provide you some sort of effect outside of the opening turns.
When looking up decks that made use of Pippin I found literally pages of results (11 at the time of this writing). Check out some of the lists below and share how you’ve used Pippin in the comment section.
As always, thanks for reading!
-The Secondhand Took