The Istari

The most cards I've ever done in one review (there's FIVE), plus the first non-idea review with no ratings. There's a slightly different form to these: I'll give a (short?) review under each, with the uses of and comments on their special ability (or abilities), and then have a general review with comparisons at the bottom. I'm not bothering with the skills for the reviews, as any one skill is generally easy to find in another character.

Character: Warrior/Scout/Ranger/Sage Wizard
Mind: 0
Direct Influence: 10
Marshalling Points: 0
Prowess/Body: 6/9

Unique. During the movement/hazard phase, the number of cards that opponent draws based on Alatar'scompany's movement is reduced by one. If in a Haven when a hazard creature is played on another company, he may join that company and face one of the hazard creature's strikes; he must tap and make a corruption check immediately following the attack.
Home site: Edellhond

Probably one of the most interesting special abilities, and also a plainer one. First the plainer one. He can reduce the opponent's draw from your companies' movements. This is the only way you can make your opponent actually draw LESS than you for some site movements. You can even prevent his draw altogether if you move to a card with a normal draw of 1. Or make Mount Doom's draw of SIX just a little less dangerous.

But on to his main ability. He can "teleport" from one company to another for attacks. I often find I end up waiting for an easy attack more than bringing him in to help an afflicted company, since the teleport's generally more useful to me for transporting him and his items. Have him sitting somewhere getting The One Ring with Wizard's Test and then you can move a company to Mount Doom (and remember, it's only a Shadow-Hold itself, you just pass through Dark-domains to get to it), wait one turn, and on your next turn when your opponent doesn't get such huge draws and dark-domains to play them in teleport him in at an easy attack. Then just dunk the ring on your next turn. Of course, there's the tap and corruption check thing, but if you keep an Old Friendship or two in hand you can get rid of most of the problems for that.

His home site is okay, but not great, since though it's a haven it's probably the least visited one and nearest to the least sites.

His overall main use is in Destroy-the-ring decks if you're not willing to risk Gandalf's non-modified tests and want to go for the Wizard's Tests instead OR in decks with lots of spread-out factions and a few strong characters to go to their homes and wait for him to arrive OR for decks with lots of modifiers you can use to make him a great attacker.


Character: Warrior/Scout/Sage/Diplomat Wizard
Mind: 0
Direct Influence: 10
Marshalling Points: 0
Prowess/Body: 6/9

Unique. All Corruption check +1. Can tap to "test" a Gold ring.
Home site: Any Haven

Okay, Gandalf's review is a bit shorter. He has only one special ability. He also has a +1 bonus to corruption checks, quite useful for decks where he'd be exposed to a lot of it. But his main thing is his special ability. He can tap to test gold rings. This is somewhat useful, as it allows you to get around having to store test cards in your deck, but not extremely so.

It's also good because there aren't any corruption checks or anything else associated with it. And it's good in addition to that for those times when you just get extremely unlucky, you play your maximum of three of one ring type, you still can't get it out, so you have to resort to different types, and you don't want to carry around that many testers.

His home site's probably the best of any Wizard, since you can bring him in at any Haven and they're pretty centrally located.

Overall his main uses are in Destroy-the-ring decks as a convenient way to test rings OR in decks with high corruption (though for those I prefer Radagast, more useful ability).


Character: Warrior/Ranger/Sage/Diplomat Wizard
Mind: 0
Direct Influence: 10
Marshalling Points: 0
Prowess/Body: 6/9

Unique. His controlling player may keep one more card than normal in his hand. Opponent must discard his cards face-up.
Home site: Grey Havens

Okay, like most of the Wizards Pallando has two special abilities, one more useful than the other. First the less useful one. Your opponent has to discard face-up. Big deal. It has one purpose, to show you how good your opponent's hand is by the cards he discards, but since he knows you're seeing it he can bluff if he wants to.

Pallando's main feature is the hand size increaser. This is useful for a variety of things. Like ring decks, to have space to do lots of other stuff besides bringing out rings. Or powerful hazard decks, to have space to get your killer combo gathered before playing it. There are many uses for it. And unlike the elves that give you this, he doesn't have to stay in one place to get it.

His home site's just a little above Alatar's because it's once again not very often visited.

Overall, Pallando is useful in decks with large combos OR in speed decks where you want to have better choice than Radagast offers (because you can pick discards better and you get more with cards like Favor of the Valar).


Character: Warrior/Scout/Ranger/Diplomat Wizard
Mind: 0
Direct Influence: 10
Marshalling Points: 0
Prowess/Body: 6/9

Unique. If his company moves to a new site during the movement/hazard phase, he may draw 1 additional card for each wilderness in his company's site path. +1 to all his corruption checks.
Home site: Rhosgobel

The ultimate speed Wizard. He has only one ability, plus his +1 to corruption checks like Gandalf. He increases card draws, rather than the hand size of Pallando.

This works faster than the hand size increaser, but can sometimes have the opposite of the intended effect and make you have to discard cards you would rather keep. This card is especially useful if you plan its movements and give it a small but powerful company to accompany it. You can get FOUR extra cards on every draw if you plan it in the right patches (for details on those, see the original review). And if you combine him with Shadowfax (though then you can't have a poweful accompanying company), giving him two movement/hazard phases, you can get an entire extra hand (EIGHT cards) every turn.

His home site's probably the worst, since it's right next to a dark-domain and by itself is sort of out of the way.

Overall, Radagast is useful in speed decks and also possibly Ring decks where you want a good chance of getting The One Ring and the other needed cards quickly.


Character: Scout/Ranger/Sage/Diplomat Wizard
Mind: 0
Direct Influence: 10
Marshalling Points: 0
Prowess/Body: 6/9

Unique. May tap to use a Palantir. At the beginning of each of his end-of-turn phases, he may tap to take one "spell" card from his discard pile and return it to his hand.
Home site: Isengard

Probably the most versatile Wizard. Saruman has two uses, one general and one more specialized.

His first, overall lesser one is that he can tap to use Palantiri. This is roughly equivalent to Gandalf's for Palantir decks, except Palantir have different abilities. They mosly manipulate the deck and draws, giving him some of the qualities of the speed deck wizards easily.

But his other ability is his main one. He can re-use spell cards just by tapping. First, this serves to give him better ring testing abilites than Gandalf, with just 1 Wizard's Test. It's also good with some other powerful spells, like True Fana or Vanishment.

His home site is pretty good, because it allows rings to be played right in it, its auto-attack isn't that hard (in fact, Saruman can automatically defeat it by himself), and pretty safe, plus it's near to both Rivendell and Lorien.

Overall, Saruman's uses are in almost any type of deck, from speed to destroy-the-ring.

General review

Now some general things about the Wizards. The first is the issue of whether to even reveal your wizard or not in the first place. I usually say go for it, it's worth the risk of having him killed, but if you know your opponent to have a good hazard deck for corruption or for powerful creature's I'd strongly consider not doing it.

There's also the issue of general ranking for the Wizards. My view is (best to worst, for all of these) Alatar, Saruman, Radagast, Gandalf, Pallando. Beren's is (as an example) Saruman, Radagast, Pallando, Alatar, Gandalf. Clearly opinions vary. But there are some general ones I've seen from almost everyone. Saruman's always one of the best, as is Radagast. No one much likes Gandalf except for coolness value (or because he's your namesake and you feel obligated to like him :-) ). Alatar varies in interesting ways, usually ending up middlish or so. Pallando you either love or hate, opinions strongly vary on him (my review of him ranged from 1.0 to 9.4 from raters).

One of the biggest debates is Radagast versus Pallando for speed decks, usually decided by the size and number of the combos in a deck. I'm not going to try to make a definitive comparison here, only just to give you information and opinions and let you decide yourself. So, with that I close this 50th review, thanking everyone who's helped us get there.

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