Realms of the Elf Lords is upon us! Therefore, I shall begin the CARD OF THE WEEK segment with THE appropriate opening choice:

Card Title: LEGOLAS: Son of Thranduil
Type: Companion/Elf
Statistics: Strength 6/Vitality 3
Twilight Cost: 2

Text: While LEGOLAS is at a river or forest, add 1 to the fellowship archery total.

This is the third installment of the great and powerful elven archer, LEGOLAS. Until now, we have basically had the option of two different strategies revolving around Legolas: Directed archery fire in Legolas GREENLEAF and increased defensive capabilites against the strongest minion class – THE NAZGUL – as seen in Legolas PRINCE OF MIRKWOOD.

Legolas GREENLEAF: combined with ARWEN, Daughter of Elrond; the Fellowship holds a tremendous opening advantage using archery fire in conjunction with Ranger special event cards such as “A Ranger’s Versatility” and ARWEN’S NAZGUL-fighting ability. Since twilight generation is lower in the first 3 sites, there is very little minion oppostion and the directed archery can generally eliminate the current threat before moving along the adventure path from Site 2 to 3. This version of LEGOLAS is the strongest choice so far as either a starting or support companion.

Legolas PRINCE OF MIRKWOOD: the Fellowship also has the advantage of adding 1 to the archery total as well as a companion who becomes a 9 strength, like ARWEN, DoE, against a Nazgul attack. Combined with The Bow of The Galadhrim, Defiance, Double Shot and The Splendor of Their Banners – Legolas P.O.M is just as effective as his original alternate version if you maintained the strategy behind his use. I believe this LEGOLAS is grossly overlooked. With the rise of the Twilight NAZGUL – he is a tremendous asset both as a starting companion or support player.

So, why this third version of LEGOLAS? Is his special ability worth basing an entire new form of strategy behind him? Step back for a moment to look at the even bigger picture behind this version of LEGOLAS: His effectiveness is centered around the very core of any strategy – THE ADVENTURE PATH! Key in winning the game, the ability to maintain and manipulate your opponent at YOUR sites is the greatest advantage in the game – and this is where Legolas SON OF THRANDUIL – I believe will become most effective.

If you look carefully at all of the current sites, 2, 3 and 6-9 all have rivers and forests (and in some cases river/forests). The new Legolas’ ability is basically active 6 out of nine sites when you control your adventure path and therefore adds a natural 2 archery total on those particular sites.

“But it’s not DIRECTED ARCHERY you say.”

When you use Legolas GREENLEAF’S ability to the maximum, it creates a severe vulnerability towards 1) Exhaustion 2) Hate (Sauron’s most effective direct damage card) 3) Relentless Charge (NAZGUL’s archer-only version of HATE) and 4) Bitter Hatred (Moria’s version of HATE against Elves). Anticipating any of these situations will force you to think about exerting a second time which basically reduces your directed archery fire to a total of 1 for the rest of the adventure path.

The ability to ADD 1 to the archery total at 6 out of your 9 sites, without the effects of exhaustion or hinderance, is incredibly powerful – especially when combined with the RANGER event cards like A Ranger’s Versatility, Elven cards such as Release The Angry Flood, or in conjunction with direct damage effects such as Orc-Bane, Hobbit Sword-Play, Bow of the Galadhrim, Blade of Gondor and Power According To His Stature.

I believe his “latent” effectiveness will be during the REGROUP phase. Using his ability as a barometer to determine whether or not to move forward and eliminate “trailing” exhausted minions with a hail of arrows is easier to consider, especially when you are not in fear of succumbing to a direct damage attack which would remove Legolas as both a fighting/defending companion and 1-2 archery points.

Combined with Elven Archer ALLIES Orophin, Rumil and the new Calaglin (who during regroup, you can exert to wound ANY minion) the choice of using Legolas SON OF THRANDUIL over GREENLEAF or PRINCE OF MIRKWOOD is still not an easy decision. Do I want to give up my directed archery? Do I want to give up my +3 strength bonus against a NAZGUL? Or do I have the control I need over the adventure path in order to maintain 2 points of archery at rivers and forests?

These are all strong choices as far as the variety is concerned. I however would rank this new Legolas second in overall performance – right on the heels of directed archery and slightly above the +3 strength bonus against NAZGULS.

As for the rest of you – how do you feel about Legolas, SON OF THRANDUIL?