With the resources covered in the previous article, it is now time to spend all of those precious resources and play some cards. What would a card game be without having cards in your hands right? The staples in this category are mostly found in the Lore sphere, as it established itself early on to be the main card drawing sphere in the game. As such, I will cover some of the biggest and most used card draw effects from that sphere and some alternatives. But as the spheres bleed into each other a little, the other spheres have gotten a bit of card draw over the years. Some of these card draw effects immediately become staples as mono-sphere deck will heavily rely on these cards to fuel their hand with cards.
The starting hand of 6 cards may be played out sooner than players can refuel their hand with the standard 1 card per resource phase. As such, many decks will opt to include some sort of card draw effects to have something to spend their resources on. As discussed before, Lore excels in this aspect by having quite a few heroes that can restock your hand with cards. Heroes like Bilbo and Beravor are some early card pool examples, while heroes like Erestor pushed the card draw side of decks to insane levels. But these characters will take up a hero slot and are usually not well equipped to deal with other aspects of the game. This is why many players use Event cards to thin their decks faster. These events are also non-unique, which means that all players can run these events in order to find more cards in their decks.
The cost curve of cards tends to shift between spheres. Triggering Mithrandir’s Advice in a mono-Lore deck can cause players to draw 3 cards
I’m sure every player that owns this card has it in at least 1 of his decks. I often find myself requiring more copies of this card since it will not only draw 2 cards for 0 cost but also allows players to discard a copy of a card they won’t use (double copies of unique cards for example). In the early days of the game, Daeron’s Runes were the go-to event just for the cheap nature of this card. It only requires that you have access to Lore and have a card in your hand you are willing to discard. This last line of text is what makes some people hesitant of using this card from time to time, as they might not have anything they absolutely want to discard from their hand. Luckily, players get to make the choice after they have drawn the 2 cards. If you happen to draw a second copy of a unique ally/attachment that is already in play, you can discard that. If you really, really don’t want to discard any of the cards in your hand, consider running Silver Harp. This will allow you to keep the discarded card.
After about a cycle of absolute monopoly on card draw, the Voice of Isengard deluxe expansion offered a contender to the title: Best card draw event: Deep Knowledge. Like Daeron’s Runes, this event draws 2 cards at the low cost of 0 resources. However, as this was the box where player Doomed was introduced, all players will have to take 2 points of threat in order to draw these cards. This effect is not optional and will, therefore, require some communication between players on when to trigger this effect. The good part of this card is that it will allow all players on the board to draw 2 cards. This will allow other decks to use the card slots for other cards, as long as the Lore player includes some copies of this card. I personally find myself triggering this Doomed card more often than any of the other Doomed Events introduced in this box.
This card draw event can also be put to excellent use by players who like to grief deck (be a d*ck to other players) during battles against Dunlendings. These enemies trigger on having to draw cards or the number of cards in the player’s hand. Having players to force drawing 2 cards AND raise their threat by 2 will a very nice grief move in these scenarios.
Heed the Dream
After a long time, the Dream-chaser cycle gave us another great event to draw more cards. Heed the Dream will only draw 1 card at the cost of 1 resource. This may look like a bad trade when compared to the previous two staples, but that is not all. Players get to check out their top 5 cards of their deck and pick the card they would like to draw. Then, their deck gets reshuffled and they get the option to pay for a kicker. This kicker requires 3 Leadership resources and will allow players to find a specific card in their deck and draw it. This effect will let players find crucial cards to their strategy without having to get an Istari into play (Word of Command) or explore a side-quest (Gather Information). This effect can also find some important 1-off cards you included in your deck. The kicker will require that players have access to Leadership resources so that forces your deck layout a little. You can also look your partners in the eye and beg them to pay for the kicker if you are desperate to find 1 card in your deck. I don’t often find myself using the kicker, as 1 cost for 1 specific card in your top 5 might be all you need to pay to find a certain card.
A nice card to combo with this event is Imladris Stargazer as she will allow you to scan the top 5 cards of your deck to see if you can use Heed the Dream in order to find a specific card without paying for the kicker. Master of the Forge will allow you to reshuffle the top 5 cards of your deck to increase your odds. Playing these allies is not essential, but can make your card draw more reliable. Master of the Forge is, by the way, another great Lore character that allows players to stock their hand with a lot of attachments. Trap decks tend to run this ally often to find more traps more quickly. Having this ally on the board might cause you to draw an additional card every turn up to a certain point. After a while, you will tend to run out of attachments in your deck and will start to whiff.
Rod of the Steward
Leadership is probably the most in need of more cards as the same sphere tends to generate a ton of resources. For a long time, options were limited to effects like Campfire Tales, We Are Not Idle, and the ally version of Erestor to replace cards in your hand. But since the Dream-chaser cycle, Leadership got some better options. One of those is Rod of the Steward, a unique attachment that will allow players to spend 2 resources to draw a card. When comparing this to other effects, the Rod is incredibly expensive card draw, even in sphere. Campfire Tales will also allow you to draw 1 card but at the cost of 1 resource. It will also let all other players draw a card in a multiplayer game. So Rod of the Steward may seem expensive, but remember that Leadership often has a massive surplus of resources. I have had many cases where I would love to just spend 2 resources in order to get a new card into my hand. In this case, Rod of the Steward is even better as it doesn’t restrict players on how many times they can trigger this ability, as long as they have resources to spend. This could potentially cause players to draw through their entire deck if they manage to get about 80 resources.
Besides Rod of the Steward, Leadership has had many other effects that can make the sphere draw cards. Prepare for Battle is a side-quest that will allow a Solo player to draw 2 cards instead of 1 each turn, basically replacing Bilbo in the deck. Leadership is also the sphere that can boost the effect of Heed the Dream, allowing it to find a specific card from the deck. This will still need a Lore hero though so you may be better off adding some more Lore events instead.
Tactics is sorely lacking card draw, mono-Tactics players often find themselves playing more cards than they end up drawing. Their options are few and far between too. They can decide to throw in the 4 cost Legolas ally, though he only grants 1 card per turn if you manage to involve him in an attack that kills an enemy. Knife-work is very underused as it will also require a lore resource in order to allow players to draw cards in the first place. I understand that this might be a good option in a multiplayer game with another player who has some access Lore resources, but I never really found myself using this event all too much. If you are going to throw in some Lore hero, you can swap Knife-work out for some better events as discussed earlier.
The only really solid card draw option in Tactics is the 0 cost Event Foe-Hammer. This event will draw a player 3 cards when one of his heroes destroys an enemy while carrying a weapon. Weapons are easy to come by in Tactics, so getting an easy Blade of Gondolin will be the only real cost to trigger this event. This event is often a 3-off in my Tactics decks if they are running any sort of Weapons.
Spirit got some amazing card draw options at the end of the Angmar Awakened cycle and the start of the Dream-chaser. The developed Noldor synergy requires decks to draw a lot of cards in order to discard them to fuel abilities. Not only did this sphere get Cirdan the Shipwright, who acts as a filter for drawing some good cards faster and discarding trash, but also the amazing 1-cost event Elven-light. This event has become an auto-include in many decks. It can only be played from your discard pile, so it is great fuel for Arwen, Elven Spear, Steed of Imladris and other Noldor cards. Even outside the Noldor trait, it can find its way to the discard pile via Spirit Eowyn, Protector of Lorien or Ally Erestor. Unlike Elrond’s Counsel, Elven-light does not require you to have any Noldor character in play so the Event can fit any Spirit deck that has options to discard cards.
Other great cards in Spirit that draw cards are Ancient Mathom, Galadriel plus her Mirror, and the Hobbit Pipe. Though these effects do require some additional costs, they can end up drawing some great cards for decks that don’t have access to Lore.
Right out of the Core Set, a good way to include some more card draw in any deck is by including the old ally Gandalf. Whenever he enters play, players can opt to draw 3 cards instead of dealing direct damage or reducing their threat. Having this kind of flexibility is what makes Gandalf still a staple in many decks that can use some card draw on the side. Even Lore decks can make good use out of this ally that they might bring in with Elf-Stone for 1 cost. But Gandalf also brings players into some conflict over who gets to play him this turn. Since he is unique, there can only be 1 copy of him on the table at any given time. At the same time, there are 2 other versions of him that are also popular (though not as popular as Core Set Gandalf). These other versions might restrict the number of times you can put Gandalf into play and benefit from his card draw effect.
Other cards in Neutral can also allow players to draw cards, though they are a lot less common. The White Council is a nice multiplayer card, but I haven’t seen it used in forever. Hidden Cache can turn 1 resource into a card if you happen to draw a copy instead of discarding it. Keen as Lances is a kind of Core Set Gandalf rolled into an Event, but can also allow players to draw 3 cards. In a victory display deck, this event can even become free card draw! The Palantir is a tricky way of drawing cards, but with enough scrying and a bit of luck, this attachment can turn into a great Neutral card draw engine, just be careful with your threat!
There are a couple of effects that will allow you to search your deck for specific cards. Think about Mustering the Rohirrim that will allow you to only find Rohan allies. These effects can be quite good to accelerate your synergy or to find some clutch cards you really need desperately. Master of the Forge is a good way to draw more attachments and reshuffle your deck for better odds finding some specific attachment.
Other trait related card draw are The Eagles are Coming and Entmoot. These will rapidly increase the number of Eagle/Ent cards in your hand. They do not only find allies but can also be used to find additional copies of The Eagles are Coming and Entmoot. This kind of surging effect will allow players to get their trait-specific cards out faster.
While these cards are great to get some specific cards into play, not all traits can benefit from it. The cards are a great fit in trait-specific decks, but worthless outside a deck that consists of at least 20% of cards with that trait.
While Lore still has the best options for drawing additional cards, the other spheres are getting a little bit of it as the card pool expands. Though some of these effects are not very popular (Knife-work), they can still benefit the players, allowing them to draw more cards and thereby having more options with their decks.
What are some of your more obscure ways to draw cards? Comment below. Next time I will be discussing something that Spirit excels in Threat Reduction.
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