Welcome back to Unfinished Trails for the third and final installment of player card reviews from The Mountain of Fire. This review is timely, as I just received my copy of Cirith Gurat in the mail and am excited for a fresh round of player cards from that adventure pack! This time, we will take a short look at the final cards from the box, the allies Elladan and Elrohir.
“But [Arwen’s] brothers, Elladan and Elrohir, were out upon errantry; for they rode often far afield with the Rangers of the North, forgetting never their mother’s torment in the dens of the orcs.” – The Fellowship of the Ring
Who are these guys, and why do they hate orcs so much? Elladan and Elrohir are the twin sons of Elrond and Celebrían, and they are the older brothers of Arwen (by one hundred and eleven years). In the year 2509, Celebrían was traveling to Lorien (she was the daughter of Celeborn and Galadriel [which makes Elladan and Elrohir their only grandsons]) when her party was ambushed by orcs in the Redhorn Pass. She was captured and tortured at the hands of the orcs, receiving a poisoned wound. Elladan and Elrohir were eventually able to rescue her, and Elrond was able to heal her physical wounds, but she “lost all delight in Middle-earth” and sailed out of the Havens into the West. Her sons neither forgot nor forgave the deeds of the orcs, and they fought often alongside the Dúnedain once the orcs began increasing again along the Misty Mountains. The brothers joined the Grey Company in their journey to aid Aragorn, fought on the Pelennor, and even at the Black Gate (which is what makes their inclusion in this box appropriate).
I always enjoyed the hero versions of these two characters, so I was excited to receive them as allies. I really hoped it would be easy to pair one brother’s ally version with the other brother’s hero version (a Leadership Elladan and a Tactics Elrohir), since it was often restrictive having to devote two out of three hero selections to making their combo work. That’s not what we ended up getting, but Spirit and Lore make a lot of sense given the other Noldor allies we have, and I don’t think it would be impossible to combine the hero and ally versions of the brothers in a deck. Since their stats and abilities are basically the same, I will give a single score and review for both.
My ratings may give away a bit of my bias in favor of these cards, but give me a chance to explain my reasons. In terms of gameplay, the brothers are about as solid as their hero incarnations. They don’t get multiple readying, but you can finally use their willpower to some effect, still reap the benefits of some readying (more so if you’re running Círdan and Narya), and their cost is excellent. It can be a bummer if you don’t get both brothers onto the table around the same time, but in any quest with orcs (of which the ratio has to be pretty high), the readying and baseline stats are decent enough to justify the cost. If the quest has orc enemies, you will always quest with these guys. Even without both brothers, readying one can be helpful. An extra point of attack can help out as needed, and 1 defense with 3 hit points would actually allow one by himself to take a hit from a small enemy. There are definitely allies with worse cost/stat/ability combos in the game. Getting the second brother on the table makes these guys the joint mayors of valuetown. A total of 4 willpower, 4 attack, 4 defense, 6 hit points, and 4 total actions for a cost of 6. When they are both on the table, they easily each compare to allies with individual costs of 4 and 5.
Elrohir combos well with ally Arwen (who shares a sphere), and both brothers are obviously good with Narya. They are also good with Lords of the Eldar, letting you take advantage of all three stat boosts. To the Sea, to the Sea! can help you play them on or around the same turn, and any card draw (especially hero Erestor) helps make sure you see them both early. These guys are so good, I would go so far as to say that I think even if they were costed at 4 apiece, they would still be decent and see some play. The fact that they’re each 3 instead makes them nuts. They will fit well not just with other Noldor (which can help fuel needed card drawn and cost reduction to get them both into play), but I could see them being effective and low cost additions to hobbit decks. I honestly think they’d be good in most any deck that can find room for six copies, which I admit is tough, but so worth it in this case.
Thematically, the allies give a nod to their hero counterparts, which emphasizes their bond as twins and their strong commitment to their family. It can be annoying when you lose one, and the other brother loses some stats, but this just reinforces that they hunt and fight as a team. These points, combined with the backstory of their resentment of orcs, makes it easy to give them five rings for theme.
The brothers’ art represents a first for our card game. The art for both brothers is actually taken from a single piece, and you can overlap the cards in such a way to see the whole thing. I love how much this mirrors the theme of these two characters. Beyond that, the quality of the art is pretty good, and again worth a full five rings. I actually really like this artist’s style (Jason Jenicke) and find it interesting and appropriate that he also does a lot of Catholic religious art.
What do you think of the ally versions of Elrond’s twin sons? Am I too positive on these guys? Is there anything you’d hoped Caleb and FFG would have done differently in designing them? Please let us know in the comments, and thanks for reading!