Spoiler Alert: The Mountain of Fire

I wanted to alert you of a new spoiler on FFG’s website for the upcoming Lord of the Rings Saga Expansion, The Mountain of Fire. Check out the article for all of the juicy details:

First of all, I’m super stoked to see that we’ll finally be getting Ally versions of Elladan and Elrohir. It’s almost like getting new Heroes too, since it opens up a bunch of new decks that weren’t possible before using one of the brothers as a Hero and the other in Ally form. Super cool.

But a particular sentence in the spoiler article caught my eye:

Of course, while [Aragorn and Frodo] may be the two most important characters to play a part in your Saga, they’re not the only ones you’ll find in The Mountain of Fire. You’ll also find two more heroes and unique allies for all four spheres, including the sons of Elrond, Elladan (The Mountain of Fire, 7) and Elrohir (The Mountain of Fire, 8).

This sent my little puzzle-loving brain abuzz.

Who are the other characters in the box?

To help me guess who might fill the four remaining character slots (two Heroes, two Allies) I flipped through my copy of The Return of the King and skimmed through the chapter “The Black Gate Opens”, looking for character names. In doing so, I found exactly what I was looking for in nearly a single sentence:

There was Gandalf as chief herald, and Aragorn with the sons of Elrond, and Éomer of Rohan, and Imrahil; and Legolas and Gimli and Peregrin were bidden to go also, so that all the enemies of Mordor should have a witness.

That’s a pretty good place to start. Later in the chapter, Beregond is named as being near Pippin in the battle, and earlier in the chapter it is explained that Merry must stay behind with Beregond’s son, Bergil, because Merry was injured. The chapter ends with the arrival of the eagles, with Gwaihir, Landroval, and Meneldor all being named. And of course Frodo and Sam feature prominently in this half of the book as they bear the One Ring to the cracks of doom.

Okay, so that’s my list of probable suspects.

How can I narrow it down? Well, I bet that we’re more likely to get characters we’ve seen less of, especially characters we haven’t seen before in the Sagas. So I threw together a chart of these characters and how many different incarnations we have of them in the card game so far:

Saga Hero Saga Ally Non-Saga Hero Non-Saga Ally
Gandalf x  x x
Aragorn xxx xxx
Elladan x x
Elrohir x x
Éomer  x
Imrahil x xx
Legolas x xx
Gimli x xx
Pippin x x
Merry x x
Beregond x x
Bergil
Gwaihir x
Landroval x
Meneldor
Frodo xxxx  x
Sam  x x

The first thing I notice when I look at this list is that we don’t have a Saga version of Éomer yet, and we only have one version of him overall. Given his importance in the narrative of The Lord of the Rings, he seems like a natural choice for one of the Hero slots. But who could the second Hero be?

There are a lot of good options on this table, but honestly I’d be disappointed if one of the Heroes in the box wasn’t Sam. He plays such a pivotal role in the second half of the Return of the King—carrying the ring himself, single-handedly saving Frodo from the Tower of Cirith Ungol, and carrying Frodo up the slopes of Mount Doom when all hope was lost—that it would be a shame if he didn’t have a prominent position in this box. He’s my second Hero choice for The Mountain of Fire.

So that leaves two Allies. Of the characters on the table above, only two of them have yet to appear at all in our card game: Meneldor and Bergil. Meneldor seems like a perfect fit for this box, but Bergil is a slightly harder sell for me. I’d feel terrible throwing Bergil at some Orc as a chump blocker, and he’s not as iconic as other options. Pippin serves a prominent role as the character with the most narrative focus during “The Black Gate Opens”, so I could see him getting the final slot instead. It feels a little odd to include Pippin without Merry, though, as the two form a sort of a dynamic duo—so I could see Merry edging out Meneldor for an Ally slot for that reason alone.

For the sake of picking something, though, I’ll go with Meneldor and Bergil, mostly because I’d rather see new characters than rehashed old ones.

A colorful guess

Having made my guesses at the characters in the box, all that remains is to guess at the spheres from which they will hail.

The Allies are easier, so I’ll do them first. Elladan and Elrohir are taking up the Lore and Spirit slots respectively, and since we know that the Allies hail from “all four spheres”, that leaves only Tactics and Leadership. It would be strange for Meneldor to appear in a different sphere from his other Eagle brethren, so he’s likely to be the Tactics Ally. That leaves the Leadership slot for Bergil, which would put him in the same sphere as a lot of other Gondor Allies (although a different sphere than either version of his father, which is unfortunate).

The Heroes are harder. The primary school of thought suggests that the designers will seek to balance out the spheres of all of the Heroes by the end of the Saga expansion. By that logic, we’re due to receive Heroes in Tactics and Leadership in this box. We already have a Tactics Éomer Hero, so it’s most likely he would be given the Leadership slot. That seems to fit, since he becomes the King of Rohan after his father’s death at the Battle of Pelennor Fields.

That would seemingly leave the Tactics slot to Sam. That seems like less of an excellent fit: Sam’s 3 willpower feels a little out of place in Tactics, and while it wouldn’t be the first time the designers broke from the usual stat spread for the Tactics sphere, it also doesn’t jump out at me as a great fit for Sam’s personality. I feel like Spirit would be a much better fit; in fact, I might go so far as to say that Sam is the perfect Hero to exemplify what the Spirit sphere represents in my mind.

That said, if ever there was a time for a Tactics Sam, it’s now. During his daring rescue attempt of Frodo from the Tower of Cirith Ungol, he was so fearsome that the orcs mistook him for an Elf-lord. With a particularly thematic ability, I think a Tactics Sam could fit in fine.

So here’s my guess: The two Heroes will be Tactics Sam and Leadership Éomer, while the Allies will be Lore Elladan, Spirit Elrohir, Tactics Meneldor, and Leadership Bergil.

Only time will tell

What are your predictions for the remaining characters from The Mountain of Fire? Do you like my picks or do you think I missed something? Who do you think are the most likely candidates? Let me know in the comments below!

4 thoughts on “Spoiler Alert: The Mountain of Fire

  1. Your predictions are reasonably likely, and I’m also looking forward to a new hero version of Sam. Éomer is virtually a certainty, especially since the article mentions him: “ride beside Aragorn as he, Gandalf, Prince Imrahil, and Éomer lead a valiant army of seven-thousand into the teeth of a battle they cannot possibly hope to win.” The reference to leading suggests that he’ll be a hero, not an ally.
    I’m not sure whether we’ll get a new hero version of Sam in this box, since that would repeat an earlier saga hero (which hasn’t happened so far, though Tactics Éowyn repeated a Core Set hero). We might get another event like Taste it Again for Sam, though.
    We might well get a Tactics Gwaihir hero. I’ve noticed that since Treason of Saruman, all of the saga heroes have an ally in their sphere that matches their racial trait (Théoden – Háma, Treebeard – Quickbeam, Faramir – Anborn, Damrod – Mablung, Éowyn – Grimbold, and Beregond – Imrahil), so we might get hero Gwaihir and ally Meneldor. (Even earlier, Bill the Pony and Barliman Butterbur interact with the hobbit trait; Beorn – Bofur is the only clear exception to the rule.) There’s not an ideal Rohan ally to pair with a Leadership Éomer hero, so we might get another exception. Elfhelm’s a possibility, though: he wasn’t at the battle of the Black Gate, but he during that time he led the force that dealt with the enemies in Anórien. On the other hand, we already have both a hero and an ally version of Elfhelm.
    The Land of Shadow included Gamling and Skinbark, so we might get an ally from earlier in Book V. Húrin the Tall was one of the captains of Gondor who rode out with Imrahil during the Battle of Pelennor Fields, and he commanded the men who remained in Minas Tirith when Aragorn left for the Black Gate. Angbor, Lord of Lamedon, was the only man who did not flee before the Grey Host (Grey Company together with the Army of the Dead), and the reinforcements he was bringing to Minas Tirith enabled Aragorn to take more of Gondor’s men to attack.
    My prediction is that we’ll get Éomer and Gwaihir heroes, with Elfhelm and Meneldor allies. If there’s an exception to the matching trait rule, Elfhelm could be replaced by Húrin, Bergil, or Angbor. If there’s an exception to the no repeating saga heroes rule, then my alternative prediction is that we’ll get Leadership Éomer and Tactics Sam heroes, with Leadership Merry (with the Rohan trait) and Tactics Pippin (with the Gondor trait) allies.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Wow, that trait matching pattern is a compelling observation! You may just be right about that. In that case, I would probably expect Elfhelm to be the Leadership Ally. I remember thinking that he felt conspicuously absent from the last Saga box.

      As much as I would love a Rohan Merry and Gondor Pippin, I feel like the boons from the last box were meant to cover that.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve predicted since The Black Riders that the final Saga box would include…drum role, please…
    King Elessar. (Spirit)
    This rounds out Aragorn, giving him a version in every sphere, and it’s their only chance to present him as King.

    Like

    • I would love a Spirit Aragorn, if for no other reason than to make easier use of Ring of Barahir in my Spirit / Lore decks. ☺️

      I’m not so sure he will make an appearance in The Mountain of Fire, though, since we already know that we’re getting a Fellowship Aragorn. The new Fellowship Aragorn does have the Gondor trait and looks pretty kingly in the art though, so at least we have that.

      Like

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