The Rangers of the North. Who in Middle-earth has inspired more intrigue? Who can match their wiles and prowess? Who has a higher cool factor? Not many. They’re hooded figures wandering the wilds of the North, sparing ignorant Men and Hobbits alike from the evils that go here and there, ready to destroy all good and free people. The Rangers of the North have received limited representation in The Lord of the Rings LCG so far; we got a few in the Core Set and a few in the Shadows of Mirkwood cycle, but really the sole Ranger who we see much of is, of course, Aragorn. Given the current cycle development, where each card cycle tends to focus on one geographical region and, thusly, one people group (for the most part), it makes sense that we haven’t seen too many yet. And while I expect to see more whenever the card pool takes us northwards, it has been said that the current cycle will not really stick to one particular trait or strategy. So who knows whether or not more Rangers will pop up in the Ring-maker cycle?
But, for now, we have a few Rangers to tide us over and chief among them, second only to Aragorn perhaps, is Beravor.
Not only one of the few northern Ranger heroes, she is also one of the few invented female characters in the game. Let’s take a look at what that means and learn some more about these mysterious wanderers.
EXPLORE THE LEGEND
All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.
From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king
These words, as we learn from Bilbo, are for Aragorn, but they can be applied to many of his kindred. They are a wandering folk, disenfranchised royalty, sons and daughters of the Lords of kingdoms that no longer exist. I will refer you back to my article on the sons of Elrond to get a view of the larger picture of the forebears of Númenor, its destruction, and the ties of the Dúnedain to their Elven kinsmen of long ago. But for our discussion of Beravor, let’s fast forward from there to the beginning of the Third Age, when all was quiet, Sauron was a banished spirit, and the realms of Men in Gondor and Arnor flourished.
Gondor and Arnor are often called sister-kingdoms and they are indeed related. When Elendil and his two sons escaped the downfall of Númenor, they founded these two “realms in exile”. Arnor was founded by Elendil himself, in the north, and Gondor was founded by his sons, Isildur and Anárion, in the south. In the north, they found colonists from Númenor already there, having mingled with the “lesser men” of Middle-earth but still in friendship with the Elves of Gil-galad’s kingdom. At that time there was to be a High King over both Arnor and Gondor, the Lord of all Dúnedain in Middle-earth. But as always happens, in real worlds and imagined ones, greed steps in propriety is kicked aside.
The beginning of the Third Age was a new age indeed. Sauron had been destroyed, albeit at the cost of the last two great Kings of the age: Gil-galad and Elendil the Tall. Still, things looked bright for Men until Isildur was slain at the Gladden Fields. Unfinished Tales describes the event in full — how Isildur wished to see his wife and children in Rivendell and take counsel with the wise; how Ohtar was sent ahead with the shards of Narsil to be kept safe in Rivendell; how the Orcs ambushed Isildur to his death and how the Ring betrayed him. His son, Valandil, remained King of Arnor and Meneldil, son of Anárion, became King of Gondor.
As I said before, Men are most confounded by their own pettiness and lust. So it was that although Valandil claimed High Kingship over both Arnor and Gondor, the southerly kingdom refused to recognize his lineage or descendants and soon the two kingdoms were sundered. Indeed, it would not be for 3000 years, until the time of Aragorn Elessar, that the two kingdoms would be united once again under a King bearing the lineage of both lines.
After their split with Gondor, Arnor was ruled successfully from its capital city Annúminas on the shores of Lake Evendim until more pettiness sprung up. The sons of the tenth King of Arnor, Eärendur, made war for the throne and the kingdom was further split into three realms: Cardolan, Rhudaur, and Arthedain.
So much for Men. It was the game of thrones before Game of Thrones. Arthedain was considered the final remnant of Arnor, with Cardolan and Rhudaur being almost rebel kingdoms. Appendix A tells us that in Arthedain, the line of Isildur was maintained and endured, but the line soon perished in Cardolan and Rhudaur. As such, the latter two quickly fell into evil and the horrible influence of the Witch-king. That most sinister servant of Sauron (such alliteration!) was sent to make war on the descendants of Isildur in the North. He never forgot his defeat in both Númenor and during the War of the Last Alliance.
Evil men and Orcs and wights all broke the fractured kingdom of Arnor until Arthedain, Cardolan, and Rhudaur were no more. Rhudaur was effectively invaded by hillmen who drove out those few Duendain who would not give in to the influence of Angmar. Once in place, the hillmen rulers annexed their lands to the Witch-kingdom of Angmar and the remaining reserves of Dúnedain were besieged. Cardolan, after the Great Plague wiped out its remaining Dúnedain, was infested by evil wights out of Angmar. And so the Barrow-downs became the evil place we see in Fellowship.
In one of the more famous stories of that time, a combined force of Dúnedain and Elves sought to drive Angmar from Arthedain in an attempt to retake the kingdom and its capital fortress of Fornost. When the battle was all but lost to the enemy, the Witch-king challenged Eärnur of Gondor. Eärnur could not master his steed’s fear of the Witch-king and Angmar laughed; that is until Glorfindel charged him in wrath and the Witch-king fled into the darkness for fear of the great Elf-lord. Before they could pursue, Glorfindel laid this curse on him:
“Do not pursue him! He will not return to this land. Far off yet is his doom, and not by the hand of man will he fall.” – Appendix A
Good news for Éowyn!
Yet despite the victory, Arnor was broken. All that remained was a remnant of faithful Dúnedain consigned to a life of wandering the wilds of their former kingdom in a silent and solitary siege, a last stand of defiance against the Enemy.
Beravor would have been such a one. She was first introduced in the Middle-earth Quest board game as a player character and, as FFG is wont to do, she made her way over to the LOTR LCG. It’s not unlike the blending of their Android universe to the Netrunner game. If you haven’t taken the time yet, it’s worth checking out the excellent fan film Born of Hope which includes a depiction of the daily life of Rangers in the north. Small villages are home to children and farmers and other ‘civilians’, while the Rangers themselves go far and wide, defending places like the Shire and Bree from the evils so near.
“‘Strider’ I am to one fat man who lives within a day’s march of foes that would freeze his heart or lay his little town in ruin, if he were not guarded ceaselessly.” – Aragorn
Very few of the Northern Rangers are named in the books. Aragorn, of course, and Halbarad are the only ones. So it’s no wonder that Beravor had to be invented and should we see more unique Ranger they will be invented as well, either male or female.
SHOWCASE THE ARTWORK
Tiziano Baracchi has done a phenomenal job here. As one of the first heroes in the game, he set the bar quite high with both the quality of his work and the depiction of an invented character. Mr. Baracchi’s work is easily recognizable. Not unlike Magali Villeneuve, his art is both realistic and surreal at the same time. He’s done other cards for LOTR, like To Me O My Kinsfolk! and he has done work for many of the other LCGs, from Star Wars to Game of Thrones to Cthulhu. Enjoy more his work at his online gallery.
As an invented character, Beravor has no other representations out there on the internets but, like many of Tolkien’s other subjects, the Rangers are well-represented. One of my favorites is Wouter Florusse, a Dutch artist who did a beautiful series depicting the Rangers of the North. Here they are
DISCUSS THE CARDS
Beravor was among the first cards to receive errata. Her ability is simple and originally read:
Action: Exhaust Beravor to choose a player. That player draws 2 cards.
However, some players found ways to abuse the ability and so the errata came down the pipe, adding “(Limit once per round.)” This kept a lid on her ability but also slightly limited her utility. As a Ranger, she is given very well rounded stats (10 cost, 2 will, 2 attack, 2 defense, 4 hit points) which makes the action it costs to use her card draw all the more painful. The key therefore, as many have said (including Tales from the Cards), is to use other effects like Unexpected Courage, Cram, or the like to get an extra action out of her. This has been her core usage in many decks, even after errata made her a little less useful. She is a solid hero, with a helpful ability.
Below is a weird, experimental deck I certainly haven’t perfected yet. It’s meant to be a deck that lets you play around with encounter deck manipulation. It’s essentially a buffet of events and actions that let you mess with the encounter deck however you should choose, and includes Scroll of Isildur to retrieve the ones you find useful, and Erebor Hammersmith to get the Scroll back just in case. It showcases Beravor as the “glue” card of the deck. Need some more card draw? She’s there for you. Not enough questing? Commit her! In need of a defender? Have a Ranger. Readying effects are also included to get the most out of Beravor and allow you to use Denethor should you so choose.
It packs no punch so it must be paired with a deck that can handle some combat, but Ithilien Archer is there to bail you out if need be!
Ravenhill Scout x2
Ithilien Tracker x2
Henamarth Riversong x2
Miner of the Iron Hills x3
Gildor Inglorion x2
Haldir of Lórien x2
Ithilien Archer x3
Erebor Hammersmith x2
Song of Travel x3
Unexpected Courage x2
Thrór’s Map x2
Scroll of Isildur x3
Rumour from the Earth x2
Gildor’s Counsel x2
Expecting Mischief x2
Mithrandir’s Advice x3
A Watchful Peace x3
Out of the Wild x2
Risk Some Light x1
Ravens of the Mountain x1
Strider’s Path x1