In this game, there are a multitude of archetypes and endless ways to combine your starting lineup of heroes to begin building your deck with. However, sometimes you only need 2 heroes and have a free slot left on your team that you will want to fill in. This is where so called “Splash-heroes” come in. These heroes require very little, if any, setup and will help your deck perform better in a field that it is otherwise lacking in. These heroes generally don’t work well with their corresponding archetype, but are excellent additions to your lineup to provide you with a sphere you need, while also giving you additional benefits with their stats or their abilities.
In this article, I will go over some of the more common splashable heroes by sphere, and explaining why these heroes are great to use as a third hero in your regular deck. This list may not be complete, and will only be updated at the end of each cycle, if new splashable heroes have been released during that time. There won’t be any ranking, as the effectiveness of these heroes really depend on your other 2 heroes and the contents of your deck. I will give several tips for using these heroes, including some cards to pack in your deck to get a little more use out of them.
While we only have one Neutral hero in this game (as of yet), it is a big ticket hero. Gandalf is in no way, shape or form a splashable hero. If anything, he is the exact opposite of a splashable hero, which I did want to mention before the list begins, so that you can see what criteria the real splashable heroes have to meet in order to be on the list. First off, Gandalf has way too high a starting threat to splash into a deck. It is more of a tsunami than a splash. 14 threat is difficult to add on top of your deck, unless you are building for it. But if you are, then he isn’t really a splashed-in hero, is he?
Second, Gandalf has a lot of cards that he likes to use for his deck. While none of them are critical to him, it is nice for your deck to have some control over what is on top of your deck. Hence your inclusion of Wizard’s Pipe. And since you have Gandalf on the table anyway, Shadowfax, Narya, and Gandalf’s Staff are easy inclusions as well. Add in multiple copies of these cards, and suddenly Gandalf takes up a significant part of your deck.
Finally, Gandalf is also popular with other players, which needs to be kept into account during multiplayer matchmaking. He has two ally versions that are in a large section of player’s decks, so you can’t just splash him in your deck without requiring others to change their decks as well. For Gandalf, it is better if you make a dedicated deck for him, and keep it in reserve in case the oppertunity arises.
The Leadership sphere has a bunch of splashable heroes with various effects. The main reason that you would want to add a Leadership hero to your deck would be to have access to more affordable resource generation cards. But there are also Leadership heroes you might want to include for other reasons. Let’s take a look at some of the more popular splashable heroes in Leadership.
Right out of the Core Set, Theodred was a pretty flexible hero when it comes to what deck you play him in. While he does well in Leadership Rohan decks, he can be used in most other decks as well. With only 8 starting threat, Theodred gives you easy access to Leadership, without punishing you with a high starting threat. The pay-off is that Theodred’s stats aren’t amazing. You will most likely want to use him for his ability, which allows him to generate a resource when he commits to the quest. This gives you some built in resource smoothing, which can be a nice thing to have in a multisphere deck that you are probably running him in. His willpower could use a buff though, so if you have some extra deckspace for him, add in some readying or willpower boosting effects to get more use out of him.
Advantages: Resource generation, resource smoothing, low starting threat, no uniqueness conflicts
Disadvantages: Poor starting stats, usually doing nothing else than questing
Cards to include: Celebrian’s Stone, Dunedain Quest, Heir of Mardil
Sam has been one of the most popular heroes for a while now, and is arguably the most used Hobbit hero at the time of writing. This praise is well grounded too, as Sam is a very versitile hero with an ability that allows you to get some more use out of his stats. Like Theodred, Sam has 8 starting threat, but his stats are spread so that you can get more use out of them. 3 willpower is great for the early game to have, while you are setting up your board. Sam’s ability is also nice to have for the first part of the game, as he allows you to ready while your threat is lower than the engagement cost of the enemy you just engaged. This gives you an additional attacker or defender in case you need it. Using attachments is a great way to boost Sam’s stats, allowing you to get more use out of his readying ability. Having a Hobbit in your deck also allows you to benefit from Drinking Song and The Dam Bursts, though both require access to Lore.
Advantages: Low starting threat, good early game stats, access to Hobbit cards
Disadvantages: Ability is less useful if your threat is high, can die to direct damage with relative ease, popular hero in other decks
Cards to include: Bill the Pony, Hobbit Cloak, Drinking Song (if you have Lore), Rosie Cotton
A relatively new hero that came with the Two Player Starter box. I have yet to play with Gildor, but I heard from those that have already played him, that he is a great glue hero for many decks. His high willpower is great for the early game to get you going, but he also has a decent attack stat in case you play Light of Valinor on him. The Leadership Noldor archetype doesn’t really have a lot of cards you really want to use with Gildor, but since he doesn’t interact with the archetype anyways, he is a good fit for any sort of deck. His biggest strength lies in his ability, which allows you to spend his resources for cards. This means that you don’t even have to add resource smoothing cards to your deck for him. If you don’t include that many Leadership cards in your deck, this hero allows you to have a use for those extra resources without resorting to cards like Parting Gifts (which would be pretty thematic).
Advantages: Card draw in Leadership, high willpower for the early game, easy resource sink in the late game
Disadvantages: Not yet widely available, ally is popular with Noldor players, low hitpoints, cannot be used in A Shadow of the Past (or later scenarios if you pick him over Mr Underhill)
Cards to include: Works fine on his own, no real Gildor toys (yet).
Not the Lore version, but the Leadership one is the one being recommended here. While Denethor is quite a popular hero, he fits in many decks as a way to boost your first turn. This is because Denethor starts the game with 2 additional resources, allowing you to pay for more expensive cards straight away. The obvious card to play is Steward of Gondor, which you can play on your most important sphere hero. Besides this early boost, Denethor also supplies you with a decent defender, with 3 defence and 3 hitpoints allowing him to take a number of attacks before you need healing. If you have no other need for his resources, Denethor can pass them to other Gondor heroes on the table. Steward of Gondor and In Service of the Steward can grant players the Gondor trait, allowing them to receive a resource from Denethor. This can then pay for cards from other spheres.
Advantages: More resources in the early game, low starting threat, resource smoothing, defender
Disadvantages: Popular hero, won’t last for ever when defending with him
Cards to include: In Service of the Steward, Steward of Gondor, Armoured Destrier
This hero is often overlooked by players, including myself. His timing was a bit poor, and since he didn’t follow the Dwarf Swarm archetype while other Leadership heroes did, Balin got left behind. But if you are looking for a hero that is a bit different than others, Balin will serve you great! His stats are distributed fairly evenly, allowing you to either quest or defend for a good amount. 4 hitpoints is also nice to have, allowing you to soak up some direct damage. Balin’s response is a great tool to have in scenarios with punishing treacheries and offers a solution to players who are not including many Leadership heroes in their decks. Balin allows players to pay a resource in order to cancel a shadow effect and replace it with another card. While this is limited to once per attack, you can trigger it on multiple enemies per round, giving you a good destination for your left-over resources. As a Dwarf, Balin also grants you access to cards like Unlikely Friendship if you control an unique Silvan as well, which is a great card to add to your deck.
Advantages: Nice pool of hitpoints, source for your left-over resources, no uniqueness conflicts
Disadvantages: You got to dig somewhere in your binder to find him, you may get your Leadership cards out more slowly if you are using his effect often.
Cards to include: King Under the Mountain, Narvi’s Belt, Unlikely Friendship (if you have a Silvan), Dwarven Shield
This is more of a glue hero than a splash hero, but Amarthiul can fill both roles if he has to. His ability allows you to get a nice blend of Tactics and Leadership in your third hero, making him a great hero for your Tactics/Leadership dual-sphere deck. On top of this, Amarthiul gives you some good stats in attack and defence values, though you do pay for this a little with his higher starting threat than others on this list. His ability works well with the Dunedain archetype, but you will find that many other decks can be constantly engaged with at least 1 enemy at all times. If you are (un)lucky (depending on the enemy), you can even have 2 enemies engaged with you, giving you some resource generation as well. His traits are nothing special, but can work well for cards that require 2 traits on different characters.
Advantages: Access to both Leadership and Tactics, great stats for combat, resource generation in some cases
Disadvantages: Cannot be used in certain Angmar Awakened scenarios, ability requires you to handle several enemies, relatively high threat to splash.
Cards to bring: Ranger Summons, Outmatched, Armoured Destrier
Tactics brings a bit more combat potential to your deck, with strong allies and attachments buffing your characters. Because of this, you might want to splash in some Tactics heroes in your deck. Here are some of the easiest to splash heroes from this sphere.
This was an easy one, as Tactics Eowyn is arguably one of the strongest heroes in the game that needs no attachments or other cards to get going. Her 4 willpower is the highest in the sphere, and is most welcome during regular quest phases. On top of this, she reduces your starting threat by 3, which is a great boon for when you are pairing her with other high threat heroes. The real fun begins when she uses her ability, which grants her +9 attack until the end of the phase. This can get you out of a rough spot during the early game, but can also be saved to deal with the boss-enemy at the end of some scenarios. She brings a lot to the table and will be able to carry her weight in questing and that one time attack. If you are looking for a more defensive hero, you’d best skip her though, unless you include Golden Shield and readying effects.
Advantages: Willpower in Tactics, very low threat, amazing ability
Disadvantages: Poor combat stats without ability, both versions of her are extremely popular with other players.
Cards to include: Hour of Wrath, Grappling Hook, Golden Shield
When flipping through your binder, looking for that Tactics hero that you need for your deck, Mablung is hard to pass up on. His balanced stats give him the ability to fill any role in your deck. He also has a nice pool of hitpoints and 2 defence, making him a good defender. This gets even better with his Gondor trait, allowing him access to Gondorian Shield to become a very capable defender for your deck. Mablung’s ability is a nice way to generate more Tactics resources that you can use for the Tactics cards in your deck. Whenever you engage an enemy, Mablung will get you a resource. Since this is limited once per phase, engaging outside of the combat phase will get you even more resources if you need it. 10 threat is a bit much for your splash hero, but with his ability relying on engaging enemies, it is not so bad.
Advantages: Resource generation in Tactics, balanced stats to fill any role decently
Disadvantages: Needs some setup to excell in one field (likely defense), has a Lore version that might be in Hobbit/Ranger decks.
Cards to include: Gondorian Shield, Followed/Outmatched, Wait No Longer, Dunedain Hunter
If you want a good attacker or defender in your lineup, but have no need for any other Tactics cards in you deck, then Na’asiyah is the hero for you. At only 8 threat, she starts with decents stats to attack and defend with. She even has a lower cost than her stats combined, which is rare. The caviat to using her is that her resources cannot be used to pay for ally cards. This means that you should include any Tactics allies if Na’asiyah is your only Tactics hero. Instead, you may use her resources to boost her attack or defense with 2 per resource, per attack. The fact that this hasn’t been limited to any number of resources you have to spend, sets her up for some crazy finishing moves. If you have ways to boost her base stats, you won’t be using her resources every round, allowing you to save them for one big defence, or one big attack. Giving her cards like Steward of Gondor and some readying effects puts her on a whole other power level, smashing enemies left, right, and center.
Advantages: Self contained card where you always have a use for her resources, low threat for good combat stats
Disadvantages: Unable to play Tactics allies with her resources, cannot be played during certain scenarios due to her objective ally version
Cards to include: Any resource acceleration, Raiment of War, other Weapon or Armour attachments, Magic Ring
Splashing in Lore in many decks is done to give the deck access to strong card draw effects. Daeron’s Runes, Deep Knowledge, Heed the Dream, and Drinking Song all require a Lore sphere match. Adding a Lore hero to your deck will see you draw through your deck a lot faster. It also grants you access to healing and (encounter) deck manipulation, which can be useful against tougher scenarios.
I think that Beravor might just be one of the most splashed in heroes ever. From the Core Set onwards, she has been seen in many decks for several reasons. First of all, her stats are well rounded, allowing your deck an extra questing character, or an extra character to help out in combat without dying. But most people aren’t using her for her stats. Her ability is used more often than not, where players exhaust Beravor to let anyone draw 2 cards. This ability had to be limited to once per round, due to the broken nature of readying effects on her. She still allows you to draw through your deck quickly, even without using other card draw effects. If nobody on the table wants to use her card draw effect, then her stats will still be welcome during the quest or to join in during combat.
Advantages: No uniqueness conflicts, easy point-and-click card draw for any player, well rounded stats
Disadvantages: high starting threat if you are only going to use her for her ability,
Cards to include: Leather Boots, Athelas, Wingfoot, Burning Brand
This thumb-looking Hobbit has really kicked off the 2-hero synergy at the end of the Haradrim cycle. Folco allows you to start the game without limiting yourself to less than 3 resources per resource phase, but also allows you to have an escape hatch if your threat becomes too high. While Folco’s best position in your deck is the discard pile, he does become a good hero to bring if you don’t have the deckspace to build up your third hero. It is always better to bring Folco, than to start the game with just 2 heroes, as he gives you at least 1 resource and -1 starting threat. This means that you don’t have to build around him and can use his resources early to get you a few Lore cards. After that, just ditch Folco and enjoy your low threat.
Advantages: Low starting threat (even lower in a Hobbit deck), able to drop your threat by 7 at any point, no need to build around him
Disadvantages: Poor stats, ability requires you to continue with 2 heroes unless you build against that.
Cards to include: Vanish from Sight, Strider, Imrahil ally, Houses of Healing, Drinking Song (early game)
If you have expensive Lore cards in your deck that you want to get out quickly, then Bifur should be in your deck. This Dwarf hero only has 7 starting threat but gives you 8 stat points to play with. While his combat stats aren’t great, you weren’t going to use them anyways. Bifur tends to quest and collect resources. He does this through his ability that allows any hero to give him a resource. This gives Bifur the ability to play any 2 cost Lore card from the start of the first round. This is great in setting up healers (Warden of Healing), card draw (Master of the Forge, Gleowine), or other solid characters quickly (Quickbeam, Gaffer Gamgee, Dunedain Lookout). While Bifur won’t be doing much during the game, he is great if you need your deck to have some Lore cards. During the late game, you can even funnel his resources into characters like Longbeard Map Maker to quest harder while not wasting resources on him.
Advantages: Resource smoothing, Dwarf trait, able to get expensive Lore cards out quickly
Disadvantages: Mediocre stats, usually just questing, ability is not very useful if you aren’t including many Lore cards in your deck or aren’t using the resources for Longbeard Map Maker or Warden of Healing.
Cards to include: Unlikely Friendship, Narvi’s Belt, A Good Harvest, 2 cost Lore cards
Another Hobbit hero can be splashed in your deck if you are looking for a low-threat option that provides you with more card draw than threat reduction. Pippin is often splashed in decks for his nice 2 points of willpower at a very low threat cost. On top of that, he raises the engagement cost of enemies by 1 for each Hobbit hero you have. While this means that Pippin is more useful in a Hobbit archetype deck, putting him in any other deck will still raise the engagement cost by 1. This is more useful that it may seem, sometimes saving you from engaging that extra enemy. It also sets you up nicely for his Response, which will be the main reason for bringing Pippin. This response draws you a card every time you engage an enemy with higher engagement cost than your threat. This ability is unlimited, allowing you to do some tricks to engage other enemies outside of the engagement phase. Tactics Aragorn, Wait No Longer, and Dunedain Hunter all work well with this version of Pippin.
Advantages: Low starting threat, card draw ability, engagement cost raising.
Disadvantages: Vulnerable to damage, ability is less effective in the late game, several other cards with the same title, so don’t bring him if the other players are running Hobbits.
Cards to include: Drinking Song, Gaffer Gamgee, Fast Hitch, cards that engage enemies outside of regular engagement.
Grima is one of the more controversial “heroes” in this game. He can be a great catalyst for your deck, but it will come at the cost of high threat throughout your playthrough. This starts with Grima’s stats, which are costed 1 threat more than they are worth. His traits are nothing amazing either, since Lore Rohan is virtually non-existent, and Isengard needs some serious work to be viable. But then there is Grima’s ability, where you can lower the cost to play a card from your hand by 1 if you give that card Doomed 1. While this is only limited to once per round, it can save you a lot of resources during your game. It also works well with the Keys of Orthanc, which is a card you will likely have in your deck as well, granting you more resources. This resource acceleration will come at a cost of high threat for all players, but Lore Aragorn will be an excellent reset option to bring you back down. There have been made some great decks using Grima’s early boost, so be sure to give him a spin someday. The hero himself makes for a decent quester but can also be turned into a Lore defender with A Burning Brand. While the lack of good traits prevent him from getting better attachments, there are some generic items for him to pay for. You can also grant Grima various traits to have him equip those items, but you would be including a lot of cards at that point for your splash hero.
Advantages: Cost reduction, synergy with the Doomed mechanic
Disadvantages: Little synergy with his traits, Doomed can hurt other players, stats are nothing special
Cards to include: Keys of Orthanc, Woodmen’s Clearing, any threat reduction, A Burning Brand
Spirit is often splashed in decks for various cards and abilities. Threat reduction, cancellation, and cheap willpower are all great to have in your deck, but will require a Spirit hero. Luckily, the Spirit heroes generally have low starting threat and very good abilities that definitely shouldn’t be ignored.
Treacheries in this game can be game-ending events for the entire fellowship. So it is useful to always pack cancellation cards for those times. But where A Test of Will requires you to save a resource and actually find the card, Eleanor provides you with a very good alternative. You may exhaust her to cancel the “When Revealed” part of a treachery card and then discard the card. While this does not cancel the Doomed keyword, it does save you from the nastiest part of most treacheries. However, the players will have to reveal a replacement card for the one just cancelled, which can potentially be worse. There can also be a situation where no treacheries are revealed, meaning that Eleanor will remain ready throughout the phase. While you can use Late Adventurer on her, the single point of willpower is probably not worth that card’s inclusion in your deck. Instead, it will be better to focus on her strong stats, which in this case would be defence. Her Gondor trait and Spirit spher give her access to some solid equipment that can be used to defend enemy attacks with. Splash her in a Tactics deck for a very solid defender in case you don’t cancel treacheries with her.
Advantages: Treachery cancellation, low starting threat, Gondor trait
Disadvantages: Can remain standing if no treachery was revealed, in which case she is only really useful as a defender.
Cards to include: Silver Lamp, Blood of Numenor/Livery of the Tower, Gondorian Shield (if access to Tactics), Unexpected Courage.
Yes, this is the second time I mention Eowyn on this list, but both of her versions are just so good. This Spirit version was the most played hero in the early life of the game and continues to be relevant in the current card pool. Her base willpower stat of 4 solves a lot of problems in the early game. Her ability even allows players to discard cards in order to boost it to a potential 8 willpower without needing any setup. She has become an excellent tool to discard extra copies of unique cards to. The recent Noldor archetype also gave her more fuel with cards that can (only) be played from the discard pile. If you can maintain a lot of cards in your hand to ditch to Eowyn, then willpower should be no problem with your deck.
Advantages: High willpower that can be adjusted upwards by everyone on the table.
Disadvantages: No other real tricks than just questing with her, not too useful in Battle or Siege quests, very popular hero
Cards to include: Windfola, Elven-light, Glorfindel ally, Stand and Fight, Reforged
Until Smeagol joins the card pool in the next Deluxe expansion, Spirit Glorfindel will be the hero with the lowest printed starting threat, at only 5. But this doesn’t mean that his stats are only worth 5. Glorfindel has solid willpower and attack stats, giving you a boost in the early game, but they also allow him to help out during the rest of the scenario. This does come at cost though; each time that Glorfindel exhausts to quest, you must raise your threat by 1. This cost is pretty low, and Light of Valinor outright cancels it, but for those early rounds, you will be raising your threat more often. Elrond’s Counsel is also a possible solution, as you have an in-sphere unique Noldor hero. Glorfindel also solves any location lock problems with Asfaloth, though this does require a Lore resource match.
Advantages: Very low starting threat, excellent stats, Noldor trait
Disadvantages: Ability needs Light of Valinor to be countered, which is a popular card with other players
Cards to include: Light of Valinor, Asfaloth, Elrond’s Counsel
And another Hobbit for the list, this time we have the Spirit version of Merry. This hero has a starting threat of only 6, and will continue to lower your threat throughout the game. It is not impossible for a deck running Merry and other threat lowering cards to remain in Secrecy with ease. The stats on Merry unfortunately do match his starting threat, with only his willpower having some use. However, you will want to keep Merry ready for his ability, which allows you to lower your threat by the threat of an enemy that was revealed from the encounter deck. There can be rounds where no enemy pops up however, but in higher player counts, Merry will be sure to lower your threat consistently. This pairs him nicely with Doomed cards, and other threat raising abilities like Spirit Frodo and Tactics Boromir. Hobbit Pony can allow you to commit Merry to the quest if no enemies were revealed, so including at least one copy of that card will help you to get maximum uses out of this splash hero.
Advantages: Nice threat reduction usually every round, willpower as failsave, low starting threat
Disadvantages: Low hitpoints, will require some setup to make sure Merry does something, scenario specific, uniqueness conflicts with the other hero and the new ally
Cards to include: Hobbit Pony, Hobbit Pipe, Late Adventurer
Arwen’s ally version has been a staple in many decks for a long time, so when a hero version was announced, she had big shoes to fill. But boy, did she fill those shoes. Arwen is one of the most used heroes in the game, on par with Eowyn. She has this to thank in part to her stats, which allow her to quest pretty well for the early part of the game. But the real strength lies in her ability to transform cards in your hand to resources. While you can only discard one card to her each round in order to get a resource, this will be a great way to generate more Spirit resources each round for you to play cards with. You can also pass the resources to other Noldor heroes, or to Aragorn. This gives you some flexibility with her ability, though you will need a specific lineup to benefit from this ability the most. Elf-friend would also help in this regard. Good targets for her ability are extra copies of unique cards or cards that work with the Noldor synergy. Arwen’s uses outside the questing phase are limited, though she can be a good target for Tale of Tinuviel, readying a Dunedain hero and boosting their stats. You will have to communicate well with your team that you will be running Arwen though, as she is a popular hero and ally in many decks. She is not well suited for pickup games, but for solo games, you can have a great source of resource generation.
Advantages: Resource acceleration, nice willpower, good synergy with Noldor
Disadvantages: Unable to bring to Redhorn Gate or Road to Rivendell, very popular hero, her ally version also finds its way into many decks, so communicate with your team beforehand.
Cards to include: Cards that can be played from the discard pile, Silver Harp, Elven-Light
Like I mentioned at the beginning of this article, the list may not be a complete one. In that case, I will update it to include the heroes that I have missed. Feel free to let me know what hero you would consider to be splashable. If you have suggestions for articles like this, feel free to let me know as well, I can always use suggestions when making articles like this.
Also a big thanks to everyone who suggested heroes for this list. I missed a couple during my first drafts, so thank you for your input.