The second-to-last occupational trait to cover is the Noble trait. This trait has some peculiar cards that don’t see a lot of play, but the characters are all well-known and see regular play. The Nobles are the commanders of their nations and the armies that come from it. They specialise in global buffs and in getting a lot of allies on the table quickly.
Who are the Nobles?
The lords and ladies of the various nations in Middle Earth are counted among the Nobles, as well as those who have descended from royal bloodlines. They span all races and various nations, making for a very diverse archetype. The Nobles tend to work best with their loyal subjects of the same nation, who they lead into battle. If any character without the Noble trait wants to get that title, there is no need to marry a princess, they can just attach the Diligent Noble card and get the trait.
Noble is one of the most common traits to find on heroes in play. It has been around since the Core Set and got new heroes as late as the Vengeance of Mordor cycle. If you own this game, you are bound to already own at least 3 Noble heroes. For actual Noble focused cards, the synergy tends to start as early as the Heirs of Numenor expansion. Only during the final cycle did we get some more Noble-themed cards, but the number of Noble-related cards (excluding heroes) is still low compared to the other occupational traits. Besides the heroes, these are the packs that you will want to pick up for allies, attachments, and events. The packs in bold should be gotten first for a more Noble-themed deck, but know that there is no such thing as a Noble deck yet.
- Core Set
- The Watcher in the Water
- Heirs of Numenor (Leadership Boromir and Envoy of Pelargir)
- Encounter at Amon Din
- Assault on Osgiliath
- Celebrimbor’s Secret
- Flight of the Stormcaller
- The Thing in the Depths
- A Storm on Cobas Haven
- The Sands of Harad
- Race Across Harad
- The Dungeons of Cirith Gurat (Diligent Noble)
- Roam Across Rhovanion
- Fire in the Night
- The Ghost of Framsburg
- A Shadow in the East
- Under the Ash Mountains
- The Fortress of Nurn
- The Road Darkens
- The Flame of the West
- The Mountain of Fire (Captains of the West, Fellowship Aragorn 3)
While the heroes with the Noble trait come from every sphere of influence, the allies, attachments, and events tend to come from only one sphere: Leadership. This is the most obvious sphere for a trait like this to come in, as the Nobles lead the armies into battle. These are the commanders, and can, therefore, be found in the sphere that has the least trouble in getting out a big army.
There are some Spirit allies with the Noble trait, usually reskins of heroes like Arwen and Glorfindel. But with Well Warned also in the Spirit sphere, you could get away with adding a Spirit Noble hero to your decklist for the sake of variety. Other heroes can also be found in Tactics and Lore, but those spheres tend to focus on other traits than the Noble trait. Any Noble deck should have access to Leadership at the very least.
The Noble trait is a very pure form of the strengths of Leadership in general. Most noticiable is the way that Nobles can benefit from getting more resources. Cards like Envoy of Pelargir and Captain’s Wisdom will add more resources to your Noble hero, that can then be used to trigger effects like Heir of Mardil to ready the hero. Furthermore, there are plenty of uses for those resources when it comes to churning out more allies, even some high cost ones. If you are playing with a lot of Noble characters, then your resources shouldn’t be a problem.
Another thing that Nobles do surprisingly well is defending. With recent additions like Ancestral Armour and Shining Shield, the Nobles can do a fair bit of defending for your deck if you want to have your allies do something else. Add in some older cards like Arwen, and your Noble hero can become a solid defender. If an enemy is still more powerful than your hero, there is the often overlooked Terrible to Behold event for when you are defending with a Noble hero. That way, you can avoid some powerful foe that would otherwise have damaged or killed a character.
The Noble trait also gets a little stronger as things get more dire. The two attachments from the Vengeance of Mordor cycle, the Valiant Sword and Shining Shield, boost the stats of the attached Noble hero even further if the threat of the controlling player is 40 or higher. This makes the two attachments have great value during the later stages of the game. This ties in nicely with the Valour and Gondor archetypes. Together, these three archetypes can make for a high-risk/high-reward style deck that can make good use of its Noble heroes.
Synergy with other traits
The synergy between Noble characters isn’t really that much to speak of, as the Nobles interact far better with their respective faction. Often, Noble heroes will provide global buffs to allies in play, such as Celeborn, Galadriel, Brand son of Bain, and Leadership Boromir.
It is easy to justify adding a Noble hero to your trait-specific deck, as they also play well with the faction’s synergy. These characters are some of the best-known characters of that faction, so they have some of the more powerful abilities to help that faction. Leadership Denethor, Arwen Undomiel, Dain Ironfoot, and Spirit Theoden all come to mind. These heroes work well in most decks, but combine them with their faction and your deck goes from good to great.
Because of all this, you will be able to justify a lot of different traits when thinking about making a Noble deck. This can range from the bigger traits like Gondor and Rohan, but also to the smaller traits like Harad, where their only hero has the Noble trait, which helps a lot in getting those expensive Harad allies out quicker.
With so many heroes having the Noble trait, there are some very powerful and often used cards in this trait. Heroes like Leadership Denethor, Arwen, Aragorn, Elrond, and many others would make it difficult to make a (non-Hobbit) deck without Noble characters. So for this section, I will cover some of the stronger cards outside the heroes of this trait. You can get a pretty good idea on what heroes are stronger than others when looking at decks on RingsDB.
On of the best uses of a Noble hero is to use Captain’s Wisdom on it. This event allows you to exhaust a Noble hero during the Resource phase. Having 2 extra resources during the resource phase is such a boost to your next planning phase, that it is often reason enough to exhaust the hero. Of course, there are ways to ready the hero to prevent him being a resource generator only, with cards like Greenwood Archer and Heir of Mardil. Those 2 extra resources can make for a more powerful start of your round. The effect is not even limited to once per round, so if you have an all-Noble hero lineup and have all three copies of Captain’s Wisdom in hand, you can start your resource phase with 6 resources on top of your usual 3.
“Bad” Noble cards
Despite there being a lot of great cards with the trait, there are also a few that are not on the same level of power. Probably the least played of them all is the ally version of Leadership Denethor, who got completely eclipsed by his newer Leadership Hero version. I have detailed Denethor in the Gondor article as well, so you can check out his weak points there.
Captains of the West is a slightly newer card and while it makes a lot of thematic sense, the card hasn’t seen a lot of play in the community. The 3 cost event allows each Noble hero in play to commit to the quest without exhausting, and each of those heroes get a +1 to their willpower. This event is more focused on multiplayer decks, where the majority of the heroes have the Noble trait. While this shouldn’t be difficult to build around in theory, my guess is that the card gets cut out of many decks for its high cost and situational effect. Noble heroes have ways to ready themselves (Boromir) or are not that useful after they have quested (Eowyn). This card is likely to get replaced with some more allies to fill out the deck. I do hope to see an full fellowship pull off this card and quest for a lot with their heroes in one round while keeping everyone ready for combat.
What the archetype is missing
This archetype is far from complete, and is missing quite a lot of things to be able to form a complete deck around. The biggest cause of this in my opinion is that the Noble trait lacks any non-unique Noble characters. This is understandable, as the Nobles of Middle-Earth all have names and are thus unique. But if the trait would have had access to some generic non-unique princes or knights that have the Noble trait, a Noble deck could start to expand its synergy. The archetype focuses heavily on its heroes without giving them too much to work with. The Noble trait is nice to have, but there aren’t that many cards in the card pool that would make you wish that the heroes you are playing with had the Noble trait.
During the Vengeance of Mordor cycle, we did get some further expansion on the trait with the two Leadership attachments that fit on Noble heroes, but it wasn’t enough to convince the community to build a Noble deck. More cards that only target Nobles or require Noble heroes to be in play could help to create such a deck, but without those cards, you mostly play Noble heroes for their other traits. I will say that the recent attachments have made me want to get the Noble trait on some characters that don’t have it. Leadership Dain Ironfoot could for instance make good use out of Shining Shield, and an MotK version of Forlong with the Noble trait could be used to trigger Captain’s Wisdom without it really costing anything during the mid-game. So there is potential for the Noble trait, but without extra cards, the trait leaves a lot to be desired compared to the other occupational traits.
Despite trying to find a solid Noble-style deck, I couldn’t really find one. If you have a Noble-themed deck that resonates with the synergy mentioned in this article, feel free to let me know, and I will add the decklist to the article. For now, most Noble cards are used separately in decks that focus on other synergies.
That concludes the Noble trait, leaving only the Warrior trait to be discussed. This one will follow soon before I start work again with the scenario analyses. I hope you all enjoy these articles, and I will see you next time!