Staples: Hitpoint Boost

While it is ok for some characters to have 0 willpower, no attack, and zero defence, there is one stat that all characters in your deck share. They all have at least one hitpoint. Some have more than others, but each character needs to have at least a single hitpoint in order to be played (exceptions like AleP’s Wandering Spirit are ignored here). Because hitpoints are so critical to the game, encounter cards don’t really interact with hitpoints at all. There are plenty of cards that deal damage, but none that reduce the hitpoints of a character, since that would mess with the game’s mechanics. In a similar way, boosting hitpoints is also not all too common in the game. There are only really some attachments and allies that do this since events would only be temporary, making the boost less useful. Even then, there are far fewer cards that boost hitpoints than there are for boosting willpower, attack, and defence. Even when looking at generic cards, there isn’t even a Signal attachment that boosts hitpoints, which would otherwise set a baseline for what a hitpoint is worth in the economy of the game. 

Still, there are enough cards out there to dive into the cardpool and see which ones are stronger than the others. I feel that the article will be a little shorter than the others since there won’t be many cards to discuss, but if you find yourself with heroes that could use some more protection from archery or other sources of direct damage, then these cards are worth including!


Not only is Lore the sphere you go to when you need healing, but it also features some of the better ways to increase your hitpoints so that you need to bring less healing. That’s nice because Lore is really struggling to boost other stats, as well as the other three spheres. An increased hitpoint pool also allows for the more advanced healing cards like Lore of Imladris and Well Preserved to heal even more damage. Well Preserved and Anfalas Herdsman also label Lore as the hitpoint-granting sphere in their archetypes, just because the others spheres have their own buffs to consider. But the most common way to boost your hitpoints in Lore is probably one that you include (or at least consider including) when you have access to the sphere and are playing at least one Ent.

Ent Draught

From the Saga boxes, the Ent Draught comes in as one of the cheapest ways to permanently boost your hitpoints on a single character. The attachment costs 1 resource, is neither unique nor restricted, and can go on both allies and heroes alike. This makes the attachment very flexible, though your one limitation is that the attached character can only have 1 copy of Ent Draught on them. While attached, the card grants the character +2 hitpoints, which allows them to survive more direct damage or even a boosted Dark and Dreadful. 2 stats for 1 resource is always a good deal, especially with hitpoints. This opens up a much larger hitpoint pool for you to take damage on characters to then heal it off later.

The card does come with a restriction that you are forced to own at least one Ent character. While you can start with one as your hero (Treebeard, Quickbeam, or various MotK Ents), you can also wait a little bit while digging for an Ent ally to play. Have Entmoot in the deck as well, and you can find your allies faster; plus, it fetches this attachment from your deck as well! And it is rare for mono-Lore decks not to run any Ents, making this restriction not all that punishing. Having Ent heroes even makes for a good immediate target for your first copy of Ent Draught, considering their gimmick is taking damage for increased stats or more action advantage. This buys you more time to find your healing cards.


Being the sphere with most of the armour attachments, Tactics is a good sphere to include if you are looking to boost the hitpoints on your characters. Some attachments even help out in more ways, allowing you to boost both hitpoints and the defence stat in one handy attachment like Raiment of War or Ring Mail. But if you think about boosting hitpoints, only one attachment really comes to mind, which has been with us since the beginning and is still the one attachment that boosts hitpoints by the most in a single card.

Citadel Plate

This is the original hitpoint-boosting card in the card pool and helped the Tactics deck in the early days by reducing the need for healing a little. This attachment is a common sight on heroes like Tactics Gimli and Gloin since they interact with taking damage. Boosting hitpoints by 4 usually doubles the base value of the hero, providing a large enough buffer to take most attacks undefended. There is a big downside to this attachment, though, its cost. 4 resources is a lot, especially in Tactics. That kind of money can get you top-tier allies like Legolas or Eagles of the Misty Mountains. To put that into a hitpoint buff for a single hero is quite the commitment. But there are ways around the cost. Tactics Beregond halves the cost of this attachment if you play it on him, and you can do some tricks with bartering on Book of Eldacar to make the attachment free. Other niche ways to reduce the cost to 0 are Master Ironsmith and the valour action on Open the Armory.

There is another thing to consider when using Citadel Plate, it is a Restricted attachment, meaning that it will take up one of your two Restricted slots on a hero. Funny enough, there is no limit of one of these on a hero, so you could use this twice on Tactics Gimli for a big chunk of attack strength once he has taken some damage. With Golden Belt in the same sphere, you could even put 3 copies on a single hero, though that might be overkill. But the belt does allow you to put this into more decks so that your defender can have a Citadel Plate alongside other pieces of Armor like Gondorian Shield or Raiment of War. This is not the most flexible attachment in the sphere, but plate armor isn’t known to be very flexible, to begin with, so I will mark that as a thematic win!


This being the sphere that can boost pretty much everything on a character, it’s safe to assume there are some hitpoint boosts in the sphere as well. However, many of them are locked behind certain archetypes like Dwarves (Hardy Leadership) and Hobbits (Bill the Pony). The sphere does also have its own version of Citadel Plate with the Ancestral Armor, offering two hitpoints as well as two points of defence. But I like big buffs (and I cannot lie), so I’m going with one of the more flexible attachments to boost allies with.

Squire’s Helm

Released during the Ered Mithrin cycle amid the host of attachments that can go on allies, the Helm gives your weaker allies some longevity with two additional hitpoints. This is not only a solid inclusion in any Dale deck where allies get additional buffs for having attachments, but most other allies also enjoy some more health. This is a particularly common sight on objective allies like Amarthiul and Arwen, which have to survive their scenarios but are hindered by their relatively low hitpoints. While you could heal the damage in between quest phases, some quests just pile on the damage during a single staging step, forcing a game over if the objective ally dies.

This attachment is also popular with the weaker utility allies like Warden of Healing. It can now take archery damage itself and heal it by exhausting. Providing additional hitpoints to weak allies also protects them from being wiped by stuff like Necromancer’s Reach, which can happen with Silvan and Hobbit decks quite often. Hobbits have better ways to increase their hitpoints, but it is not uncommon to see the Helm strapped to an Elf.

There are a few downsides to this attachment, but they are very minor. The attachment is not free but does only cost 1 resource in Leadership, so it is pretty much next-to-free. It also fills one Restricted slot, which gives attachments like Hauberk of Mail an edge over this attachment. If you are playing this on an objective or utility ally, then the Restricted slot doesn’t matter too much since it is unlikely those allies need any more attachments. You also cannot stack two copies of Squire’s Helm on the same ally. Once their hitpoints have been boosted by 2, you will have to find a different attachment (Ent Draught, Spare Pipe) to boost hitpoints further or invest in some healing. If you are playing mono-Leadership, though, healing will be hard to find, especially for allies. This can be a good replacement for healing in your deck, especially if you have allies that you really want to keep around.


It took some time for Spirit to get any hitpoint buffs since they only had Ring of Barahir for a long time. While this is a nice way to buff hitpoints, it requires a lot of Artifact attachments and was mostly forgotten until The One Ring decks started to make this attachment more interesting. The sphere also has Wild Stallion, which is a fantastic ally/attachment hybrid that can grant any ally +1 to all stats when they mount the horse. But I will go for a card that revived a nearly-dead archetype and was released in the penultimate Adventure Pack.

Spare Pipe

The Pipe archetype never really got a lot of attention during the game’s life, but during the Vengeance of Mordor cycle, there was a last sign of life with the Spare Pipe attachment and the Smoke and Think event. The Pipe is one of the more flexible ones around, not being tied down to a particular archetype like the ones for Wizards, Dwarves, or Hobbits. Instead, the Spare Pipe can go onto any character, which gives them +1 hitpoint. This is a nice way to gain a little bit of extra life without spending too many resources or filling up a Restricted slot. Since this attachment is unrestricted, it can go on both heroes and allies, and you can even have one character wield 3 copies of this card to boost their hitpoints by 3. This does not work well with any Pipe-related events, but if you need a way to boost hitpoints on a single character in mono-Spirit, then this is an option besides the Ring of Barahir.

There is another effect on the pipe that more than justifies its 1 cost. When you play the pipe on a character, you can look at the top 5 cards of your deck and draw any event among those five cards to your hand. This is a great way to fish for any event that you are looking for, which could otherwise take a few turns before you would have drawn it. So this attachment also checks a box for card draw in Spirit, assuming you are lucky enough to find an event in your top 5. Even if you whiff, 1 cost for an unrestricted and flexible way to boost hitpoints is fine in my book!


There is only a single card in Neutral that boosts hitpoints. I double-checked. While there are various Boons that can be earned during your campaigns, I do not see them as Neutral cards. This is what you get when you only have attachments (and a few allies) to boost hitpoints with. I even thought that the Fellowship contract would boost hitpoints, but I was wrong. The temporary nature of that contract’s B-side would have made it pretty weird if characters suddenly lost a hitpoint if you went below 9 characters. And since I have a really hard time calling Boots from Erebor a Staple card, I’m going to skip Neutral in this article.

Trait Specific Hitpoint Boosts

The following cards only boost hitpoints for particular archetypes. This is where many of the Leadership cards went, though the list is a bit shorter than the Willpower one was. There really are just not many cards that boost hitpoints in this game.

  • Elven Mail boosts Noldor and Silvan characters with 2 hitpoints and grants them the Sentinel keyword. It is rather expensive at 2 resources and a Restricted slot, but it can solve the squishiness of Elves.
  • Friend of Friends goes on two Hobbit heroes to boost all their stats, including +1 hitpoint.
  • Bill the Pony is the more popular Hobbit Hitpoint Booster, providing a steady +1 hitpoint to all Hobbits in the game. This is great value, especially since Bill is free if you own Sam.
  • Both Ring Mail and Boots from Erebor go on either Dwarf or Hobbit heroes. Seems fitting, since only they could fit in those clothes. Both grant +1 hitpoint, but Ring Mail also increases defence.
  • Hardy Leadership boosts the hitpoints of all Dwarves on the table by +1. This makes up for the lack of healing in thematic Dwarf decks. They are made to endure, not heal.
  • Hauberk of Mail only goes on Dale or Warrior characters. I know this is a pretty big group, but the character also needs to have the Sentinel keyword in order to benefit from the additional hitpoint.

With hitpoints and willpower covered, I will move on to the two traits that are used most often in the combat phase: Attack and Defence. At the current rate, I expect these to be done within a month or two, though the articles will be more extensive since there are sooooo many ways to boost attack and defence. Sometimes even in the same effect!

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