The second time we cover an Elven trait, this time it is the tree-dwelling, lesser elves that have not seen the light of the trees: The Silvans. This trait was properly fleshed out during the Ringmaker cycle where they established themselves as the trait that bounces allies from your hand and into play. This gave them a very active playstyle in which players can trigger multiple effects when Silvan allies enter or leave play. Let’s take a look at the Trampoline Elves.
Who are the Silvans?
If it lives east of the Misty Mountains and is not named Galadriel, the game considers it to be Silvan. This includes the Sindar elves (Celeborn, Thranduil (probably), and Legolas). We might even get to see some of the Avari as a standalone trait at one point, but for now, I will state that any Avari Elves will also count as Silvans.
From the cards we have right now, there are 2 factions within the Silvan Trait. The Woodland Realm, with characters like Legolas, Argalad, and Woodland Courier. And the Galadhrim of Lothlorien, with characters like Celeborn, Haldir, and Defender of the Naith. These two factions do not specify in anything yet, but we may see that the Woodland Realm might take a more combat heavy role, and Lothlorien may be a defensive faction. These are all just speculations on my part though.
The Core Set gave us 5 Silvans to start with, and during the Mirkwood cycle, the trait got some allies. But the real strength of the Silvans came in the Dunland Trap, where Celeborn, Naith Guide, and Tree-People gave us the core of the Silvan synergy. The Dwarrowdelf cycle did not give any specific Silvan cards, but some of the Noldor cards in that cycle can be used on Silvan characters.
- Core Set
- A Journey to Rhosgobel
- The Dead Marshes
- Return to Mirkwood
- The Druadan Forest
- The Dunland Trap
- The Three Trials
- Trouble in Tharbad
- The Nin-in-Eilph
- Celebrimbor’s Secret
- Escape from Mount Gram
- The Treachery of Rhudaur
- The Dread Realm
- The Drowned Ruins
- The Sands of Harad
- The Treason of Saruman
While the Silvans can choose from all 4 spheres, and even have a Neutral ally, their heroes are mostly found in Lore. Spirit only saw a Silvan Hero during the previous Deluxe Expansion, which is quite late. The strength of the Silvans lies in a dual or even tri-sphere deck, as it can use more allies and events from those spheres. The balance of which spheres to use depends on the kind of deck you want to build. The Silvans can make for solid willpower questing with Leadership and Spirit, or deal a lot of direct damage and Ranged attacks with Tactics and Lore.
Each sphere brings something to the table for the Silvans, so playing it mono-sphere is usually not the way to play them unless you pair it with other traits.
- Leadership: Readying, not exhausting, and resource acceleration (Greenwood Archer, Naith Guide, O Lorien)
- Lore: Scrying, healing, and card draw (Henamarth Riversong, Galadhrim Healer, Galadhrim Minstrel)
- Tactics: Attack power, ranged characters, and direct damage (Rumil, Marksman of Lorien, Galadhon Archer)
- Spirit: Willpower, location control, and threat reduction. (Galadriel’s Handmaiden, Hithlain, Lorien Guide).
The Silvan trait has to do with abilities to get allies in for cheap, trigger an ability, and then use another ability to get those allies back into your hand after they have done their thing. This synergy is one of the reasons why Horn of Gondor got an errata around this time. The allies are quite cheap, especially when you have cards like O Lorien that reduce the cost of your first ally each round. On top of the action that your allies grant you, your allies will also gain a boost to their stats if you are running Celeborn. This makes your allies much more useful during the round they enter play. In order to return these allies to your hand, the Silvan trait offers 4 events that will require you to return any Silvan ally from play in order to lower your threat, feint an enemy, deal 1 damage to each enemy engaged with a player or search your deck for another Silvan ally and put it into play. This last one, Tree-People, is a vital piece of the machine to keep your allies boosted with Celeborn.
While the Silvans may be strong on the willpower and the offence, they are a bit lacking in defensive strength. Most allies only have a single hitpoint, which makes them vulnerable to some treacheries. The only dedicated Silvan defender at the moment is Defender of the Naith, who can handle some medium-sized attacks before dying. For heavier combat scenario’s, you may find yourself chumping with some of your allies. This is ok, as they have done their job after they entered play. Use Orophin to try and return any Silvan character to your hand from your discard pile if you are forced to chump block.
This leads to another style of playing that the Silvans tend to use: Engage as few enemies as possible. This is easy in multiplayer games, as your fellow players can defend some of the enemies that are revealed from the encounter deck. The Silvans are best used at range. A lot of characters have the Ranged keyword, and some cards will want you to not attack an enemy engaged with you. Galadhon Archer, Bow of the Galadhrim, and even Haldir of Lorien will want you to have enemies either engaged with other players or in the Staging Area.
The Victory Display synergy I usually tend to combine with the Silvan synergy. Not only are a majority of those cards Silvan based (either in art or name), but Rossiel, who is the main hero in that synergy is also a Silvan. Now, this synergy is worthy of another article, but it is the reason why so many Silvan Heroes are Lore Heroes. A Mono-Lore deck tends to run a Silvan Hero like Haldir, Rossiel, Mirlonde or Argalad. This makes some of the more costly Silvan characters more affordable (Silvan Tracker).
Synergy with other traits
The Silvan trait is best used in a deck truly dedicated to bouncing your allies between the table and your hand. Because of this, there is little room for synergy with other traits. The Silvans and Noldor share a couple of cards that can go on either trait. Children of the Sea, Elven Mail, and Cloak of Lorien are just a couple. Besides that, other traits can benefit from the Silvan synergy by attaching Elf-friend to a hero. This is particularly useful on Tactics Imrahil, as he will be able to use his effect with Silvan allies.
Galadriel is considered by most people to be a very good Noldor character to play alongside a Silvan deck. Not only does she provide a Spirit resource icon (and Lore with Nenya), her ability allows your fresh Silvan characters to not exhaust to quest. Combine this with the buff they get from Celeborn, and you will have committed quite some willpower, without exhausting anyone.
There is another trait that Silvans tend to like, but this is not a trait found on player cards (not even Ents): Forest. When playing a scenario that has a lot of Forest locations, Silvan decks get a little boost whenever such a location is active. This can be seen with cards like Woodland Courier and Cloak of Lorien. However, this boost is useless during quests like those in the Dwarrowdelf cycle, where there is no Forest to be seen. Do some encounter deck analysis before you start adding these cards to your deck.
There are so many good Silvan cards that I probably won’t name them all. However, some cards stand out above the others as great cards. For the Heroes, Celeborn is the most in touch with the trait. He will boost all Silvans globally during the round they enter play. This makes the allies stronger than they are on their own. You can even get a 3 willpower ally out for just 1 Spirit resource icon with this effect.
The 4 events that bounce Silvans back to your hand are also auto includes in most Silvan decks, though I tend to use some more than others. Tree-People is probably the best out of the 4, with the ability to trade a low-cost ally for a much more expensive character like Haldir or Rumil. In the second place, Feigned Voices takes care of any enemy that you cannot defend against (and isn’t immune to player card effects). The other 2 events are also nice to include but fulfil a smaller part in a standard Silvan deck.
Henamarth Riversong is one of those cards that is included in any true solo deck which has access to Lore. He will be able to scry the next card off of the top of the encounter deck, so you know what you will be dealing with during the quest phase. I would advice using his effect after staging, as he is very vulnerable to direct damage. Because he is a very cheap Silvan character, he is mostly used in Silvan decks as fodder for Tree-People. You will be able to play him again from your hand in most cases, and any other ally you get with the event is a better trade when comparing stats.
Silvan Tracker is also a very good ally, though he is quite expensive. Whenever Silvan Tracker readies, you get to heal 1 point of damage from all Silvan characters in the game. Though the allies usually don’t take damage, this effect can heal a tremendous amount of Archery damage if it is dealt to Silvan heroes.
“Bad” Silvan cards
There are just a couple of cards that haven’t seen much play since the early days of the game. These cards do not synergise well with other Silvans and are simply too expensive for their effects and stats. The Silverlode Archer got overshadowed by a cheaper ally with an ability, Greenwood Archer. Characters like Daughter of the Nimrodel, Mirkwood Runner, and Lorien Guide are just too expensive to be used in any deck that can draw from a wide card pool.
The Silvan Refugee is a card which has sparked a lot of debate in the community. Her Forced effect is very counter-intuitive to the Silvan synergy, but her willpower to cost ratio is unlike any other character. Usually, you would pay 2 or 3 resources to get 2 willpower out, but now you get to spend 1 resource for 3 willpower with Celeborn. Try and use Children of the Sea to make that 5 willpower.
Here are a couple of Silvan decks that might give you a bit of a taste how the trait plays out. I have also added a deck I use a lot which combines the ranged capabilities of the Silvan trait with the Traps.
Honestly, I could go on about my personal favourite archetype at the moment, but nobody would want to read an article over 10.000 words in size. For the future of the trait, there is one character that is still missing from the entire card pool: Thranduil. We know he is alive during the time of the game, but he hasn’t been introduced in any shape or form yet. Hopefully, the new cycle will finally bring us Thranduil. Besides him, I would like to see new versions (perhaps hero versions) of Rumil and Orophin, as I feel like they aren’t very popular cards. A 3 bro’s deck (Haldir, Rumil, Orophin) would be very enjoyable to play with. But let us first get a version of Thranduil!