Despite having one of the most popular songs of all time, the Eagles reside mostly in the high peaks of the Misty Mountains. These flying Deus (dei?) ex machina birds have been introduced in the very first cycle of the game and haven’t been seen since, except for the introduction of Gwaihir in the Ringmaker cycle. The Eagles are powerful, but still not developed enough to make a full deck around. However, a couple of the Eagle cards are still being used in present-day decks as cheap defenders or attackers.
Who are the Eagles?
This is pretty well defined, as there is just one race and only one place where the Eagles originate from. All Eagles also have the Creature trait, which gives them something in common with Horses. The Creature trait also gives the Eagles access to Radagast, who is quite useful in getting the Eagles out, and keeping them healthy.
The Eagles have dominated the Tactics cards of the first cycle, with at least 1 card per AP. In the later life of the game, the Eagle trait had already been fleshed out, so no more allies or other cards have been printed beside Gwaihir.
- Hunt for Gollum
- Conflict at the Carrock
- A Journey to Rhosgobel
- The Hills of Emyn Muil
- The Dead Marshes
- Return to Mirkwood
- Trouble in Tharbad
- Roam Across Rhovanion
- Fate of Wilderland
Eagles are as Tactics as you can become. They haven’t dipped into any other sphere at all since their release. They can be played outside a Tactics deck if you have Radagast on the table and make good use of cards like The Storm Comes and Elrond. The combat abilities of the Eagles make them a good inclusion in most Tactics decks. There is also a possibility to combine Elrond and hero Radagast to pay for Eagles through their Creature trait in Lore.
The eagles have a very bouncy nature. They have a lot of abilities that trigger on them entering or leaving play. Descendant of Thorondor is a perfect example of this. When he enters and leaves play, you may deal 2 damage to an enemy. This is basically the same amount of damage as Gandalf but at a lower cost. Meneldor works in the same way, but with 2 progress when he enters and leaves play. The two cheap allies, Vassal of the Windlord and Winged Guardian are glass cannons. These allies have incredible stats for their cost, but they have to leave play after they attack or defend. Winged Guardian can stay in play if you pay an additional resource, so if you are swarmed with enemies, you can keep him in play for longer.
The idea of Eagles leaving play is enforced with the vanila named card Eagles of the Misty Mountains. After an Eagle leaves play, you may attach that eagle to the flock, and the flock becomes stronger. This can really get out of hand, with one Eagles of the Misty Mountains having 7 attack and defence. Having these stats and Support of the Eagles can turn your heroes into absolute beasts. Another way that you would want to return Eagle allies is through Flight of the Eagles, which in turn brings an Eagle of the North into the encounter deck for you to draw into eventually.
The Eagles are very good characters to have commited to Battle or Siege quests. They do not have to be discarded after they commit to the quest, which improves their staying power.
Synergy with other traits
Eagles do not really have a lot in common with the regular traits. The only other trait besides Eagle and Creature that they synergise with is the Istari trait. This got introduced in the very first cycle through the Radagast ally, but when he became a hero, the connection between Istari and Eagles became better. Gwaihir’s Debt even requires the two traits being in play at the same time in order to trigger the event.
Not really an Eagle, but Radagast is vital to the trait. He can pay for eagle allies with his resources, or heal them. You can also use his effect for other creatures, like the Riddermarks Finest, but that combo is used less often. Although Radagast is expensive, it is very much worth it to get him out in the early game. He adds some willpower to your deck, which is something that the eagles find difficult.
The Eagles are Coming! is the card you really want to dig for. This card will allow you to fetch a lot of your eagle cards from your deck. You can also fish out any other copies of this card to repeat the process as the event also has the Eagle trait. This event will allow you to find a large portion of your allies early.
Landroval is a very interesting character. He allows you to return a destroyed hero from your discard pile and put him back into play with one damage on him. You have to return Landroval to your hand for this, but that is a good trade for a hero. It is very much worth it to get Landroval out early, in case you might lose a hero. This effect can be triggered for any hero that is destroyed, but only once per game.
Meneldor is an amazing Eagle character, as he provides good willpower in Tactics, making him good in other Tactics heavy decks as well. His ability, which places 2 progress when he enters and leaves play, is also great for Tactics, as they sorely lack location management that doesn’t require you killing an enemy.
“Bad” Eagle cards
Not all of the Eagle cards are amazing, unfortunately. The two events Meneldor’s Flight and To the Eyrie are basically worthless. It is too difficult to pull them off, and their rewards are very limited. They can be placed in your bike spokes as soon as you get them. The rest of the cards have good uses in a lot of decks.
A good quest to test your Eagle decks is A Journey to Rhosgobel. A lot of the cards in that quest require you to have eagles in play. Try it sometimes!
So ends this short analysis of our winged friends. Hopefully, there will be more eagles in the future, as the trait can still use more allies to fully flesh out the archetype. Maybe we will even get a Gwaihir or Landroval Hero. Or perhaps we even get the return of Wilyador as a player card.
For more information, check out this post from The Hall of Beorn about the Eagles as characters in the lore.