Welcome to Lao of Gondor’s first installment of RING LORE: a new column dedicated to a more intense study and analysis of the characters and minions of Decipher’s Lord of the Rings Trading Card Game. RING LORE offers beginning and advanced players alike, a unique understanding of certain key elements of the game, which will lead to stronger and more effective deck designs and strategies for your specific playing needs. So please sit back, relax, read-on and enjoy.

For this premiere installment of RING LORE, I have chosen my namesake and favorite character: BOROMIR – Lord of Gondor, Son of Denethor and Defender of Minas Tirith!

DESIGN STRATEGY: To fully utilize Boromir as part of your Fellowship, the decision you make should consider these following guidelines to realize his full potential as a companion:

A. Which version of Boromir will enhance your overall deck design?
B. Will Boromir be a Starting Companion or a Supporting Companion?
C. Is Boromir tailored to be PROACTIVE or DEFENSIVE?

There are currently 3 versions of Boromir to choose from as either a starting or supporting companion. Equally strong, each version shares the same character specifics of Strength (7) Vitality (3) and Twilight Cost (3). However, the subtle differences within each version will help you decide which best suits your overall deck design.

Let us begin with:
LORD OF GONDOR (LoG) – LoG is a very well balanced support companion. Defensively, he cannot be overwhelmed unless his strength is tripled, which allows him to defend against extremely high-strength minions (ex. The Balrog who is a base strength of 17). As a RANGER, LoG benefits from the versatility of very powerful ranger-based event and condition cards. LoG also benefits from non-sanctuary based healing due to the ARAGORN SIGNET, should he be in the same Fellowship as Aragorn, King In Exile.

ARMOR – Bearer (must be a Man) takes no more than 1 wound during each skirmish phase – essential to any given fighting deck strategy. LoG with Armor increases your Fellowship’s chance of survival significantly, as he becomes your foremost defender against the two largest damage +1/FIERCE minions in the game: The Balrog and The Cave Troll.

BANNER OF THE WHITE TREE – coupled with Armor, LoG becomes strength +3, defender +1 and may only take 1 wound during each skirmish phase. Strong enough to survive a combined attack of both a base strength Cave Troll and base strength Witch King!

BLADE OF GONDOR – increasing his base strength +2 and making his attack power damage +1, LoG now becomes a very powerful OFFENSIVE force. The Blade of Gondor also gives him the opportunity to exert and wound an Orc or Uruk-Hai he is skirmishing.

ARAGORN, KING IN EXILE – The Healer. Even past Sanctuary, at the start of your turn, he has the ability to heal another companion who has the Aragorn SIGNET – in this case, LoG – who WILL take severe amounts of damage during the course of the game.

The second version of Boromir to consider as a member of your Fellowship is:
SON OF DENETHOR (SoD) – During SKIRMISH, exert SoD to make a Hobbit Compaion strength +3. This version of Boromir is ESSENTIAL to Hobbit-based run strategies. However, without early defensive support cards, SoD has greater difficulty using his ability to assist the Hobbits. If he suffers multiple wounds or exhaustion, he cannot use his special ability. The skirmish timing for this Boromir is crucial. Therefore, in order to protect his ability to enhance the Hobbits’ chance for survival, SoD must employ the use of several key support cards.

ARMOR – Aside from reducing damage (as seen above), Armor is also incredibly effective against damage “modifier” cards such as Lurtz’s Battle Cry, Mordor’s Strength or other creatures or effects which effectively strip him of vitality and ultimately his ability.

COAT OF MAIL – Bearer (must be a man) cannot be overwhelmed unless his strength is tripled. With this possession, he becomes as defensively powerful as LoG. Combined with Armor, SoD can effectively protect his ability, thereby reserving his exertions for the Hobbits.

THE SAGA OF ELENDIL – by increasing Boromir’s vitality +1, he now has the additional insurance needed in order to protect FRODO or any of the Hobbits from a possible overwhelming situation. And, if SoD loses a skirmish against a damage +1 minion, he is still 2 vitality away from exhaustion and can exert once more before that happens. If necessary, you may discard the “SAGA” during a skirmish to become strength +2, which could help you win that skirmish and protect your vitality for later exertions.

STRENGTH OF SPIRIT – One of GANDALF’S spells which costs 1 twilight, prevents placing a wound token on a companion from an exertion. At the right time, SoD could possibly increase a Hobbit’s strength as much as +12 (four exertions – 1 prevented by Strength of Spirit and 1 additional from The Saga of Elendil).

Our final choice is probably the most popular version currently used for obvious reasons:
DEFENDER OF MINAS TIRITH (DoMT) – During the Fellowship phase, add 2 Twilight to heal Boromir. As both a Gondor Man and as a Ranger, DoMT benefits from the resources of powerful and versatile event cards. Perhaps though, the greatest asset of DoMT is his ability to heal THE very “exertion” that triggers a variety of powerful Gondor/Ranger initiated special cards. In conjunction with Aragorn, Heir to the White City – during each Fellowship phase, add 2 twilight to heal DoMT – which is subsequently negated using Aragorn’s game text as the Fellowship moves onward. The ability to heal DoMT is paramount to his success as a companion, either starting or supporting. And, if you choose recruit DoMT, The HORN OF BOROMIR strategy is ultimately your best direction for deck design (see below)!

As you can see from what I have outlined above, each version of Boromir benefits from certain interchangeable combination cards. However, due to the special ability of DoMT – this following support card is considered the best (and perhaps strongest) combination yet seen for any companion designed in this game.

HORN OF BOROMIR – The single strongest combination card for DoMT. It’s versatility is enormous and hailed by many as BROKEN. It is complimented by exertion prevention cards such as Gandalf’s Strength of Spirit, vitality extension cards like The Saga of Elendil and of course DoMT’s ability to remove the very exertion inflicted upon himself to use the “Horn”, and that’s only the beginning. With one blast of the HORN, spot an ally to make that ally strength +3 and active in both archery fire and skirmishes until the regroup phase. Timed correctly at the Lothlorien Woods, strength 3 allies such as Rumil, Orophin, Dinedal and Calaglin not only become +3 at this site, but also can potentially gain +3 from the HORN for a total of possibly 2-3 strength 9 allies. Imagine ELROND fighting a Troop of Uruk-Hai at a newly forged base strength from 8 to 11? This HORN will protect Frodo when all else fails!

You have seen how powerful Boromir can be – acheiving great defensive and offensive potential while fully armed and supported by several key events and possessions. However, his weaknesses – if correctly exploited, can bring him down very quickly efficiently. Here are a few strategies that the SHADOW has to offer:

SUCH A LITTLE THING: Moria’s (and the Shadow’s) ultimate anti-Boromir card. Spot a Moria minion to wound Boromir up to three times. The Free Peoples Player may discard 2 Free Peoples Possessions to prevent this. This card was created specifically to prevent Boromir from successfully defending the Fellowship against The Balrog or The Cave Troll – with the use of Armor, The Blade of Gondor, Coat of Mail and other such possessions. Very effective against the rest of the Fellowship’s possessions as well, if Boromir is to be saved for future use.

ISENGARD SMITH: Isengard’s solution to large Fellowships with multiple support possessions. Very effective against weapons and a strong threat against Boromir, whose Blade of Gondor adds +2 to his base strength amongst other things.

BEYOND THE HEIGHT OF MEN: Isengard’s maneuver phase effect which can remove up to one armor, shield or helm possession – or all such Free People’s possessions if there are 5 companions or more. Effective against one of Boromir’s strongest support cards – Armor.

SAURON/ISENGARD DISCARD STRATEGIES – as with all card games, the timing of card support is crucial. Boromir is moderately strong as an unarmed companion, but is a considerable threat when complimented by all of his resources. Deck destruction strategies as seen in the cultures of Sauron and Isengard can force your deck to discard or shuffle past those essential support cards needed to aid Boromir in his defense of the Fellowship.

CONCLUSION: Of course there are a variety of other cards which assist each version of Boromir aside from what I have recommended. From Swordarm of the White Tower to Flaming Brand, all are all excellent choices to further enhance the strategy of this one character. But remember, what role does your choice of Boromir serve in the Fellowship and to what extent does your deck rely on his survival? Each version of Boromir has both incredible strengths balanced with realistic weaknesses. In the final analysis, I would not highly recommend Boromir as a STARTING companion. However, the earlier Boromir is played with his compliment of support cards – the better – especially before you reach SITE 5.

Thanks for reading and please stay tuned to the GAMING HAVENS at THEONERING.NET for the next installment of Lao of Gondor’s RING LORE!

Drop me an e-mail! Let me know what you think about these deck building ideas, and share a few of your own! Drop me a line at Lao_Of_Gondor@theonering.net!