It’s been over two years since I last took stock of the meta’s favorite Beorning Hero and about 5 years since he came rampaging into the card pool. While I normally strive to pick a new/different Hero every month, Beorn is a Hero that has been popping up a bit more from time to time and the card pool, it seems, isn’t done giving him toys. So here we go, 27 months later, the first Hero of the Month 2.0 (?)… Beorn!
I won’t delve too much into theme and lore, since I did so way back when. If you feel so inclined, check out my overview article as well as this interview with Dan from Hall of Beorn to get some insight into the Bear himself IRL.
The things that make Beorn fascinating haven’t changed since his introduction into the game proper. His stats are hilariously skewed towards combat, and his 10 hitpoints are in a league filled with trolls and other nefarious, one might say, “nameless” creatures of the shadow. Stats aside, Beorn‘s reluctance to interact with the card pool has yet to really be seen again, except for isolated cases like Galadriel‘s inability to participate in combat. Not only has this kept Beorn distinctive when compared to the massive pool of Heroes we have now, it is also what probably kept him from being hilariously errata’d. Such a Hero, with the ability to defend without exhausting, the high attack stat, and the immense pool of hitpoints, would be seen with caution should it be introduced today. But that doesn’t mean things haven’t changed or improved for the bear.
I know things really piqued my interest when Honour Guard was released. This seemingly unimposing guy was introduced, along with other play cards, in the same cycle that introduced Valour. While not necessarily a healer, the Honour Guard provided some much needed damage mitigation for tactics players who, at the time, had very limited options – most of which involved relying on another sphere/player. Although one can argue Honour Guard is a staple in many combat/tactics decks with a dedicated defender, he is an auto-include in any list that includes the big bear himself – no questions asked. With three of these guys on the table, Beorn essentially defends for 4 instead of 1, albeit for one attack. The fact that these guys can hang back and chump if needed is also an added bonus.
But what about some of those cards before Honour Guard. For awhile, Dori was a great ally to have out for anyone, let alone Beorn. Coming in at 3 Lore resources makes him costly more often than not, and if you are running Beorn you can rest assured you’ll have to work a bit to get Dori onto the field. A couple years after Dori was released, a tactics event was released in The Dunland Trap. Part of the Ringmaker Cycle, Close Call, and other player cards, played with the Doom mechanic, essentially giving players powerful effects at the cost of raising everyone’s threat. As the card pool has progressed, some of the more threat raising Doom cards have become much more playable, with threat mitigation being available in spades. Close Call is a fantastic card, like the Honour Guard, to have in a deck with a dedicated defender, especially one like Beorn who will be taking damage. Even better, coming in at 0 cost means it’s very playable no matter how heavy you are leaning towards tactics. It’s also a great card to hold in your hand, as you never know when another player suddenly is in danger of losing a hero.
After the Ringmaker cycle, players were introduced to Horn’s Cry. While this 2 cost event may not feel as useful as the aforementioned Honour Guard, the fact that every single enemy in play gets -1 Attack is insane. In a pinch, or rather in Valour Mode, Horn’s Cry can almost ensure a player could take their attacks undefended, as a debuff of 3 attack to an enemy means they will likely be rendered useless.
As you can tell, none of these cards are incredibly new. I think where Beorn remains headstrong in the meta is that player cards have slowly been introduced to mitigate his flaws. That’s not to say they eliminate them, but I think the change of the encounter deck “meta,” if you will, made Beorn a risky choice. Enemies were getting beefier and the Bear could be more easily defeated. Now with a smattering of tools, Beorn can pick the slack back up and return to what he does best. There is one new card, however, that sparked my interest, and it does a great job of bringing back another tactics Hero.
Vigilant Guard was released at the end of the Dreamchaser Cycle in A Storm on Cobas Haven, which is often viewed as one of the weaker packs in terms of player cards. I’ll admit that Vigilant Guard has few strong uses at the moment. It’s relatively costly, and it’s damage mitigation, while useful, is easily trumped by a defensive boosting attachment. There simply are better options. However, a great target for Vigilant Guard is none other than Tactics Gimli. The biggest issue with Gimli is that you need to find a way to either ready him so he can defend/attack or boost his hitpoints a la Citadel Plate so an undefended attack won’t finish him off. With Vigilant Guard you get a little bit of the Plate effect through the extra 2 hitpoints. Of course, it doesn’t ready Gimli and that’s where Beorn comes in. With all the tools out there, all the Honour Guards and Close Calls, Beorn can still suffer to an aggressive start from the encounter deck, especially if he’s the only defender. However, Vigilant Guard acts as another Honour Guard of sorts. When paired with Gimli, it not only reduces the damage dealt to the Bear but boosts Gimli‘s attack, all but ensuring that foe will fall to Beorn and Gimli. It’s this interaction that prompted me to pick Beorn as April’s Hero of the Month. While I could just have easily picked Gimli, he’s already had enough fun in the sun with his brand new Leadership version running amok.
As you can tell with the lists below, I’m not the only one making use of Beorn. Many players have gone the similar route of keeping the bear alive, while others have partnered Beorn with other self-sufficient Heroes, making a fearsome trio of bad-asses. Check them out and feel free to share what deck’s you’ve come up with!
As always, thanks for reading!
-The Secondhand Took