With the new Deluxe box being planned for next week, Hobbits are becoming even more relevant than they already are. Over the years, there have been many interations of unique Hobbit characters that we know from the books, and some that were designed by FFG themselves. With 13 different unique Hobbit characters, there are some who are regarded as stronger than others, but some might have weaker other versions. An example of this is Pippin, who has a solid Lore hero version, and a new ally version coming out. However, his Spirit version is often regarded as one of the worst in the game thanks to its lack of synergy, heavy restrictions on his ability, and the ability being counterintuitive with the Hobbit’s low threat archetype. This would put him lower on the scale.
Because of these many versions, I decided to put them all up on a poll and have each of you pick 3 characters who you think have the strongest versions overall. With over 150 entries in the poll, I’d say we have enough to draw some conclusions here. Important to know beforehand is that every character on the list received at least one vote, so no character is regarded as awful. Every card has its own place in the card pool, it’s just that some are more popular than others. On to the results!
With a wide margin, Sam takes the top spot of this poll. Was there ever any doubt that this would be the case? Sam’s hero version is very popular with players who are looking for good stats, a built-in readying ability, a low threat hero, and access to the Leadership sphere. While people are switching to the new Gildor hero, Sam is still very popular. He also has a Spirit ally version that many people forget. While this ally isn’t as popular as the hero, it is still a great character to bring to the table. It is very cheap with any version of Frodo on the table, and also reduces the cost to play Bill the Pony to 0. I am looking forward to running him with the new Leadership Frodo. His ability is more in line with the Spirit Hobbit heroes (except for Merry) who all raise the player’s threat to interact with enemies. When raising your threat, you can spend a Spirit resource (perhaps one you didn’t spend on Test of Will during staging) to ready Sam, who gets +1 to his stats for the rest of the round. We may get a new version of Sam down the line, seeing how many other Hobbits have gotten one too. I’ll be looking forward to see how that hero will hopefully offer a difficult choice between all other versions of Sam.
The silver medal goes to Rosie Cotton, Sam’s sweetheart. While she has only one version that got released relatively recently (Mountain of Fire), she has changed the meta for Hobbits significantly, offering a build where she gets her willpower boosted and then goes on to raise stats on other Hobbits. I am sure nearly half of the votes cast for her are by Chad from Cardboard of the Rings, who has played a lot with this combo. She works well in a Hobbit deck, and can even use her ability multiple times per round (though only once per phase). She has quickly become one of the staples for a Hobbit deck, and will help you get your stats boosted without having to find certain attachments or relying on having a lower engagement cost than enemies.
The third place is held by Merry, who has a new ally version being released in the upcoming Deluxe. His new ally will boost willpower of unique allies, including himself. This makes him a very solid 3 willpower ally during the round he enters play, with the Arkenstone’s ability for other unique allies. This could get you out of a tight spot and also makes him a good Sneak Attack target. His hero versions are already a bit older, and have been used in many decks since. His Tactics version allows for a low threat hero in that sphere, with decent willpower. While his attack strength relies on there being more Hobbits than just him in your lineup, he can also function in a regular Tactics deck with the help of some Weapons. His readying ability is often overlooked, but can be exploited with Tactics Aragorn to kill many enemies that are on the board. The Spirit version is a little more recent, and allows for plenty of threat reduction. He also opens up the Hobbit’s ability to change their commitment to the quest, with access to cards like Hobbit Pony and Elevenses.
Further down the list, we encounter heroes who have recently gotten new versions, like Bilbo and Frodo. They are joined at this part of the list by Gaffer Gamgee, who is quickly turning out to be another staple of the Hobbit archetype. In the middle of the pack, we encounter Pippin, who’s Lore version is great and often used in decks. As a low threat hero, he helps you to raise the engagement cost of enemies, and provides some card draw. The new Tactics version of Pippin is also looking interesting, with a built in readying ability and an attack boost. This version with Tom Cotton in a deck will be a deadly combo. However, Pippin also has his Spirit version, which is often regarded as one of the worst heroes in the game. While this is open for debate, his ability is still very restrictive in what lineup you are using. Because of this version, he got pushed down on this list, but would otherwise likely have found a spot in the top 5.
Like I stated, all Hobbit characters have received votes, but three of them only received one vote each. This does not mean that they are useless, but just that they on a different level than the ones above them. Halfast suffers here because he doesn’t play well with his archetype. While he is a Hobbit, he interacts with the side-quest archetype. This is more the realm of the Dunedain, and he also doesn’t start off too well with a sphere match, as side-quests tend to favour Lore players a bit more. Because of this, he is more of a Dunedain-esque Hobbit, which is a nice nod to the lore. Farmer Maggot is at the bottom as well, which I hope will change when we eventually get a new version of him. Hopefully that will include his dogs, we can only hope. Tom Cotton is the only hero down here. He only has one version that is not really popular. He does help with combat, having solid defender traits, and allowing you to give allies a boost. I don’t play him often, but might try a Tom deck, as he doesn’t cause a uniqueness conflict with the other Hobbit heroes.
Thus concludes this month’s poll. If you would want me to do this kind of thing for other factions as well (like Gondor, Rohan, Dwarves, etc), then feel free to leave a comment. There are a lot of factions out there that have a bunch of unique characters, so it would be interesting to see them all go head to head.
For the month of August, I want to know what your favourite Haradrim cycle scenario is. Now that the cycle has been completed for a while, and we are about to cover more of its scenarios, it would be fun to see what the fan-favourites are when it comes to quests. The poll can be found in the sidebar of the blog or at the very bottom of the page for mobile users. Hope to see you all next month for the results!