The Vale of the Anduin is home to many people and creatures, but none are as fierce as the Beornings. This trait was introduced in the Core Set with the most famous of these sturdy men: Beorn the Skin-changer. Since the Core Set days, not much has happened with the Beornings, until the narrative brought us back to the lands of the Anduin and we got a whole new archetype out of it.
Who are the Beornings?
The Beornings are a subspecies of men and linger between the Misty Mountains and Mirkwood. At the time of the War of the Ring, their numbers were small and they lived in secluded villages, tending to their bee pastures. But ever does the Beorning heart stir at the mention of Orcs. Being so close to the mountains, Beornings and Orcs have had a war for many years over the control of the Anduin Vale. A small number of Beornings were Skin-changers as well. This meant that they were able to take the form of huge beasts. At the time of the Hobbit, only Beorn is left with this ability, and it died with him. His son Grimbeorn took over the family bee-pastures, but he hasn’t found a way into a player card yet. To get a bit more Beorning for your buck, play Conflict at the Carrock. Grimbeorn joins the players there as a very useful objective ally against the Trolls.
With the Beorning trait introduced in the Core Set, people have been wanting this trait to expand ever since. It got one addition in the very next cycle, but besides a Hero, things have been quiet with the Beornings for a long time. Then, the Ered Mithrin cycle came around, and gave us more fluffy bears than we could hope for! The best pack to pick up for Beornings would be The Withered Heath, as it contains useful allies, a hero, and a Beorning event.
- Core Set
- Conflict at the Carrock
- The Crossings of Poros
- The Withered Heath
- Fire in the Night
- The Hobbit; Over Hill and Under Hill
The Beornings are not really good diplomats, they prefer to use brute strength over stealth and cunning. Therefore, the Beornings are right at home in the Tactics sphere. All cards belonging to this trait are from Tactics, just like the Eagles. The objective ally Grimbeorn the Old in Conflict at the Carrock doesn’t really fit a Beorning deck, as he requires Leadership resources in order to be recruited.
Beornings are fierce, and sport high attack stats to show this off. Smaller Orcs or Goblins will not stand a chance at the sight of Beorn’s base 5 attack stat. Beorning heros tend to both attack and defend, with Beorn not exhausting to defend, leaving his 5 attack stat open. Grimbeorn does exhaust to defend, but can attack the enemy back, even before other heroes would be allowed to join in.
Most of the allies that the Beornings get are quite expensive. This can be troubling for players, as not a lot of decks can pump out Tactics resources fast enough to justify using these allies. The Beorning Skin-changer ally can help in reducing this cost, by discarding the Skin-changer in return for an expensive Beorning ally like Giant Bear or Beorn. This discarding ability is quite common, as these allies usually leave play in order to trigger abilities. Beorning Beekeeper will deal 1 damage to each enemy in the staging area, which can wreck some smaller enemies that have already take direct damage by other means. Beorning Guardian will make progress on the quest if he destroys an enemy, but he has to be discarded for that as well. Beorn will get a massive boost to his attack strength (changing from man to bear does that to a guy) which can help overcome high defense or maybe even kill a boss type enemy. Giant Bear can ready to do some good damage, but is reshuffled into your deck afterwards. This is done to counter Skin-changers bringing this ally into play over and over again.
With the new Beorning cards from the Ered Mithrin cycle, the trait has been more focused towards decreasing stats on enemies that are engaged with you. Effects like Grimbeorn and Beorn’s Rage will make the enemies less of a threat, after which you can trample them with your bear army. In case enemies are immune to this effect, I would recommed boosting the attack and defence value of your characters through effects like Blade Mastery instead.
Synergy with other traits
The Beorning trait is pretty stand-alone up to this point. This also makes some sense when looking at the lore of these peoples. Perhaps in the future, some sort of synergy will be possible with the relatively undeveloped Woodsmen trait, as these people live in the same region. Helping the Creature trait would also be logical to the Beornings, as they are known to keep a lot of creatures at their homesteads. It won’t be long until we get some Bee Creature ally that would make them honey.
But it wouldn’t surprise me to see the Beornings keeping to themselves and providing extra offensive support to any deck that can afford them. Beorning Beekeeper could do wonders in a deck that relies on traps or direct damage to enemies in the staging area. He could also help out the Rohan trait that is getting to push enemies back into the staging area with Fastred.
The two Beorn cards are probably the most used, as the other allies are a bit too expensive for most decks that can’t reduce their cost. Ally Beorn might be expensive at first glance, but there are just so many ways around that high cost of 6 resources. Sneak Attack Beorn in during the combat phase and he can take a hefty portion of Archery damage. On top of that, he can deal a lot of damage to any one enemy before he is returned to your hand. Remember that you can choose to resolve Sneak Attack before the Forced ability on Beorn that requires you to discard him. Other great ways to put him into play are Reinforcements, the ability of Tactics Imrahil or Send for Aid.
Hero Beorn is another great card as the stats on him are amazing for his threat cost. Beorn has the highest printed hitpoints and attack strength of every hero so far in the game and has no wasted stats. His ability to not exhaust to defend will make him a good early game hero to tank some attacks while you get your board set up. Beorn does come with some drawbacks to limit his usefulness. He is not able to be targeted with player card effects, and cannot have attachments. This makes it very hard for players to keep Beorn alive if he is doing a lot of defending across the board. Damage cancellation from Close Call and Honour Guard target the damage, not Beorn, and is, therefore, a good way to help the big bear stay alive for an extra round. When Beorn is destroyed, effects like Landroval, Houses of Healing, and Fortune or Fate are all able to target Beorn and bring him back to life.
Beorning Skin-changer is also a great card for any Beorning deck. Not only does this 2 cost Tactics ally have a point of willpower, which is quite useful in Tactics, it also helps to lower the cost of your deck. For 2 cost (or 1 with Hirgon), you can get this ally on the table and keep him as a regular ally. When you happen to come across another Beorning ally, but this time with a cost of 3 or higher, you can discard the Skin changer to morph him into this high cost ally from your hand or discard pile. The fact that this effect targets the allies in your discard pile make this ally a lot easier to play, and should be an auto include if you want to save resources in your Beorning deck.
“Bad” Beorning cards
Some allies have not aged well over the years, and were pretty much a dud when they came out. Though some Beornings have gotten better with the introduction of the new Beorning cards, this does not count for Beorning Beekeeper. He has had plenty of time to be included in decks but remained in the binder for many players. This is probably due to his high cost and low stats. Players will have to lower his cost in order to play him more efficiently. Even then, the Beekeeper will only do 1 damage to each enemy in the staging area, which will make it rare that you actually kill something unless you combine him with Thalin and other direct damage effects. The optional discarding will be useful in Rohan decks, as it can boost Éomer’s attack.
As the trait is yet undeveloped, Beorning decks are not really a thing yet. But there are some decks that make use of the cards, so perhaps you would like to try some to get a taste of Beorning greatness.
This brings an end to the analysis of one of the game’s newly developed traits. Hopefully more cards will be added in the coming cycle. If you would like to see what Beorning cards the community made as a part of a contest over at the Hall of Beorn, click here.