Early in its lifecycle LOTR LCG received two Lore heroes with an inbuilt card draw ability, Beravor and Bilbo Baggins. Each performs quite differently, so let’s put these two heroes head-to-head to find out who is the card draw heavyweight.
Meet the contenders
Beravor is one of the three lore heroes included in the core deck, and her card draw ability has made her a firm favourite in the LOTR LCG community. In addition to her stellar ability Beravor is interesting for the fact that she was invented by Fantasy Flight Games to compensate for the lack of female characters in Tolkien’s written work.
Threat level: 10
Attack Strength: 2
Defence Strength: 2
Hit Points: 4
Traits: Dúnedain, Ranger
Ability: Action: Exhaust Beravor to choose a player. That player draws 2 cards. Limit once per round.
Bilbo Baggins was the first hero released after the core set and also the game’s first Hobbit hero. He has a passive card draw ability that targets the first player.
Threat Level: 9
Attack Strength: 1
Defence Strength: 2
Hit Points: 2
Ability: The first player draws 1 additional card in the resource phase.
Round 1: Card draw speed
Beravor: Beravor has the potential to net you an additional 2 cards per round, tripling your card draw speed. With Beravor’s assistance you can draw an entire 50 card deck in 15 rounds – not too shabby at all!
Bilbo: Bilbo’s more modest ability means that it will take him 22 rounds to work through a 50 card deck. Like Beravor, his ability is limited to one use each round.
Round 2: Card draw reliability
Beravor: The drawback to Beravor’s ability is that she must exhaust to use it, so you have to forego her card draw ability in order to use her for questing or combat. One way around this shortcoming is with readying effects such as Unexpected Courage, but that takes up extra slots in your deck and depends on drawing the effect to begin with.
Bilbo: Because Bilbo has a passive card draw ability he does not need to exhaust to trigger it, it just happens. Provided there are no encounter or quest effects suppressing his ability to draw cards Bilbo will snag an extra card every round regardless of how else you use him.
Round 3: Multiplayer utility
Beravor: Beravor lets her controller choose which player draws cards, so her ability can be used to benefit the player who needs it most. This makes her very powerful in a multiplayer context without compromising her utility in solo games.
Bilbo: Because Bilbo always draws an additional card for the first player his ability can’t be directed to a specific player, which dilutes his utility in multiplayer games. For this reason Bilbo seems to be more popular with solo players.
Round 4: Synergy
Let’s crunch the numbers to find out which of our contenders has the best trait synergy. My knowledge of the card pool is limited to the Dwarrowdelf cycle and earlier, so I have used RingsDB card ratings to estimate the relative popularity of synergistic cards.
Beravor: Beravor has the Dúnedain and Ranger traits, which first got some love in the Heirs of Numenor expansion and have continued to grow in power as the game evolves. Currently there are 26 cards that have synergy with either the Dúnedain or Ranger trait, with an average RingsDB rating of 2.3. A poll conducted by Dan Poage (AKA Beorn) ranked Dúnedain one of the most popular traits in the modern game.
Bilbo: Bilbo is of course a Hobbit, a trait that made an appearance early in the game’s lifecycle which makes it very friendly to new players. There are currently 25 cards that have Hobbit synergy, with an average RingsDB rating of 2.04.
Winner: Draw. Although the Dúnedain and Ranger traits rank more highly, the Hobbit trait has the advantage of being accessible to players with a small card pool – the players who are most likely to be playing Beravor or Bilbo.
Round 5: Versatility
Are our two heroes defined purely by their card draw abilities, or do they bring something else to the table?
Beravor: Even if we take card draw out of the equation Beravor still stacks up fairly well. Her 2 willpower, 2 attack strength, 2 defence strength and 4 hit points make her a good all rounder who can adapt to most situations. Her stats put her on par with an ally such as Haldir of Lorien.
Bilbo: Bilbo doesn’t fare as well when he is stripped of his ability. He has a measly 1 willpower and attack strength, and while his 2 defence strength suggest that he was designed to be a defender he only has 2 hit points, which makes him too fragile for that role unless he is tanked with armour or shadow cancellation attachments. Worse still, Bilbo breaks the rule of thumb that a hero’s threat cost should equal the sum of their stats, which makes him an expensive proposition when compared with most other heroes.
And the winner is…
I have a soft spot for Bilbo and included him in many of my Shadows of Mirkwood decks, but when I put him side-by-side with Beravor I have to admit that he seems like the weaker of the two. Bilbo’s passive ability makes him extremely dependable, but Beravor has the edge when it comes to sheer card draw speed, and her solid stats make her a more versatile hero.
It was a close fight, but I declare Beravor the overall winner of this showdown.
Do you think I made the right call, or have I shortchanged our Hobbit friend? Let me know in the comments.
Header art by Tiziano Baracchi