A character (even a Hobbit) may be brought into play wth direct influence at any Free-hold, Border-hold, or Ruins & Lairs.
First, as always, the effect. It significantly expands the range of places you can bring a character in at. This does have a good deal of use. I think (well, this seems likely, anyway) Wizards are included in this definition too, BTW, so I'll rate it as that. [Archivist's note: you may not use this card to bring in a wizard.] This has a good deal of application. The basic one is simply bringing out those annoyingly difficult characters, Hobbits and Wizards (well, havens are easy enough to reach so it's not much of a problem to bring in others) in many more places. Hobbits because they can only be brought in at their home site after the first turn (and an all-hobbit company is a pretty stupid idea, so you can't just put them all in the beginning) and Wizards because they can only be brought in at their home site and Rivendell (except Gandalf, whose home site is any haven and therefore isn't much of a problem for this).
With this card, you can bring these guys in whenever you want. Of course, the sites are limited for it, but that's not too much of a problem, since there's enough Free- and Border-holds and Ruins & Lairs to make it pretty easy to find one. The Wizard I'm not sure about because it does say WITH DIRECT INFLUENCE, and since a Wizard has infinite mind (according to one of my raters, it's that instead of 0) you can't really influence them, but the Hobbits it says right on the card. I think Wizards should be OK - it increases the value of the card a good deal (though it doesn't entirely agree with the intent of Wizards). Another idea - use it with The One Ring. Play a ring at The Dead Marshes, then bring in Frodo, quickly wander over to Mount Doom, and dunk the ring before your opponent knows what hit him. [Archivist's note: Dead Marshes is normally a Shadow-hold, and you can't play Gold Rings there.] Plus, use it with Call of Home (which can return characters to their owner's hand) to get your character right back out again.
There's one minor problem - the "direct influence" factor. Many characters have enough mind so that it's difficult to find a character with enough of this to control them. Most of the good ones have over the 3 or so that's the limit of everyone except Wizards. So this card does well by having a Wizard out, even though one of its uses (ruling?) is to bring them out. But there's one other problem: most of this card's use is eliminated with Alatar (a Wizard who I'd rather have than this) because he can just teleport and join a newly formed company at some other site anyway. Overall, a fairly good card, though mostly useful in Hobbit-heavy decks.
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