Gollum, Dark as Darkness (9R+28)
|Sent Back (9R27)||
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|Slippery as Fishes (9R+29)|
Gollum, Dark as Darkness (9R+28) is a Gollum Minion from the Reflections set.
Gollum, Dark as Darkness is a popular choice in non- Gollum decks to cheaply, efficiently, and reliably place a wound on the ring-bearer. He appears in a broad variety of decks, either as a cheap efficient direct wounding minion, or as a cheap efficient way to put extra pressure on the ring-bearer. He can also occasionally squeak out a free win on an exhausted ring-bearer if the opponent doesn't have a way to kill Gollum before then (or at least wound him twice); the best way to do this is usually a swarm strategy. The ability to remove burdens for a bit of extra twilight is only occasionally useful. Almost every deck that's using it only plays one copy, however, and instead retrieves that copy with Captured by the Ring (7C53) to get a free threat.
One of the main decks it appears in is Morgul Orcs. That deck wants to put lots of pressure on the ring-bearer to get more value out of Morgul Brute (7R188) and Morgul Destroyer (7U190) , wants to wound the ring-bearer to enable Morgul Whelp (7U202) , Morgul Hound (7C192) , and Úlairë Nelya, Ringwraith in Twilight (2R84) , and even wants to place threats to enable Destroyers and sometimes Úlairë Cantëa, Faster Than Winds (7R211) or The Witch-king, Morgul King (7R221) . Dark as Darkness can contribute to that gameplan. Plus, Morcs is a semi-swarm deck, so sometimes it can keep Gollum alive and unwounded to score a dirty kill in the regroup phase, or use him to turn a burden into twilight so you can afford an extra minion. In that deck, if you think you're going to exhaust the ring-bearer, it's generally better to play Dark as Darkness and use his exert ability before Brutes or Destroyers unless you think you can score a ring-bearer kill that turn with him, so you maximize the number of threats and burdens you get.
Another deck that gets a lot of use out of Dark as Darkness is Isengard Orcs. Isenorcs is another swarm deck, but this time it wants to back that swarm up with undirected wounds, in large quantities. Dark as Darkness places an extra wound, and your opponent will have even more trouble preventing Gollum from getting a regroup phase wound because they'll be busy trying to overwhelm orcs. Even if Gollum dies, he might be helping an orc squeak through. Even if you're not using Gollum to kill, the exertions are helpful to set up Isengard Warrior (3U61) 's quite devastating ability to exert the whole Fellowship.
He's also useful in Grind decks, like Sauron Grind and archery decks. These decks generally exhaust the entire Fellowship before finishing them off, and every wound you can add to that pile counts. Adding threats means that when the wounds do break through and kill a companion, more are soon to follow. Two twilight for a threat and a wound is just a good value, generally better than Goblin Bowman (2C60) or Southron Bowman (4C248) played with Rallying Call (10U47) , which makes up for the lack of culture synergy. He can also occasionally help Southron Archery afford an event like Whirling Strike (4C260) or even Fierce in Despair (7R148) , if the opponent is using the One Ring to turn archery wounds into burdens. Plus, putting pressure on the ring-bearer specifically can make it more difficult to use The One Ring, The Binding Ring (9R+1) , one of the few Maneuver Phase versions of the One Ring, to soak up archery wounds.
Gollum, Dark as Darkness is a good support for Twilight Nazgul decks as well. Twilight Nazgûl want to pressure the ring-bearer specifically, either to kill them outright or stack up burdens that can later be used to empower Úlairë Enquëa, Lieutenant of Morgul (1U231) , Úlairë Toldëa, Messenger of Morgul (1R236) , or Úlairë Nelya, Ringwraith in Twilight (2R84) . Once the ring-bearer is exhausted, you can set up a Resistance Becomes Unbearable (2U79) / Return to Its Master (1R224) combo, or simply force your opponent to use a strong skirmisher to overwhelm Dark as Darkness, making it easier for The Witch-king, Lord of the Nazgul (2R85) or Úlairë Otsëa, Ringwraith in Twilight (3U86) to win a skirmish. Twiguls are not a strong or popular deck by Movie Block, but Gollum, Dark as Darkness helps them out a bit.
Dark as Darkness is mainly played for his ability to exert and wound the ring-bearer. What about all that stuff about burdens? The problem is that a burden is usually more useful than one twilight in the Shadow Phase, and almost always more useful than twilight in the Skirmish or Regroup Phases. That isn't to say that these abilities are never useful. If your Shadow deck isn't concerned about burdens, sometimes Gollum can let you play an extra minion, or maybe even two. Some Shadows have skirmish phase abilities or cards that are worth losing burdens to play. Stripping burdens in Regroup can intimidate your opponent into not making a double move. Most savvy players will correctly see this Regroup play as a bluff, though! Gollum won't usually survive to Regroup without other minions, so it would have to be a double after you just played a bunch of Shadow cards, at which point you probably don't have a hand full of even more Shadow cards. You might! But you probably don't. Consuming burdens in the Regroup Phase is a risky play, unless this turn is do-or-die for your opponent.
One of the most useful uses of his ability to remove burdens is in Shire matchups when your opponent is playing multiple copies of The Shire Countryside (3R113) . Those decks pack lots of cards that remove burdens, particularly using Nine-fingered Frodo and the Ring of Doom (10C112) , A Light in His Mind (10U108) , or Sting, Weapon of Heritage (11R173) to get at-will healing to enable using and reusing annoying exertion abilities. These decks are usually placing burdens on themselves for some sort of value—Sméagol, Slinker (5R29) , Birthday Present (10R104) , Daddy Twofoot, Next-door Neighbor (13U144) , and The One Ring, The Great Ring (19P1) are all popular—so it's not great to let your opponent have that for free, but it's often better than letting them have that and also get a ton of free healing.
His last ability is the most enticing but absolutely the least reliable. Gollum, Dark as Darkness can, technically, assassinate the ring-bearer with a direct wound that can't be prevented with most versions of the One Ring. However, you'll almost never actually get this to work. Most opponents will recognize the threat, and use one of the many ways of preventing it from working. And there are many ways. Any tank companion with 10+ strength can overwhelm him easily, unless you've out-swarmed the opponent. Likewise, unless he's part of a very large swarm, Gollum will usually lose his skirmish, and any companion with Damage +1 or a mount that exerts minions (like Brego (4U263) ) will wound him too badly to use his regroup wounding. Any healing that happens after the Shadow Phase will un-exhaust the ring-bearer; even Regroup Phase healing like Elrond, Heralf to Gil-Galad will happen before Gollum has a chance to get the kill as long as it's the first action the Free Peoples player takes in the Regroup Phase. Preventing the wound with a card like Hosts of the Last Alliance (2U18) , Dwarven Bracers (2U3) , Sapling of the White Tree (9R35) , or the rarely-played but very specifically targeted Rare Good Ballast (5U114) will also work. Direct wounding can shut Gollum up, with something like Aragorn’s Bow (1R90) , Slaked Thirsts (7U14) , or Citadel of the Stars (5C32) . Don't count on Gollum to ever actually get the kill. Instead, just pose the threat! If your opponent has to commit Aragorn or Legolas, Greenleaf (1R50) or a Sapling to stopping Gollum from winning the game, that's just fine. He's very cheap, and those are resources that your opponent can't use to stop your real win condition, whatever it is.
There really isn't a non- Gollum deck where Gollum, Dark as Darkness won't do some work. A cheap minion that comes in and places a threat and a wound then dies is a decent value, and you'll see him in all sorts of decks, using him basically the same way that these decks do. The weakness of Dark as Darkness, and the reason he doesn't see much play in Gollum-focused decks like Ninja Gollum, is because he needs to exert to use its main ability. He can't use his ability as the same site that you use Evil-smelling Fens (5U22) , he can only use Final Strike (10U20) once, and, in post-Shadows formats, there are even more strong cards that exert Gollum, like Incited (11R44) and Not This Time! (15R47) . Those decks occasionally run him as a one-of, to have a useful Gollum to play on turns where he wasn't going to do anything else anyhow, but usually that's not worth including him in a deck focused on Gollum.
Strengths and Weaknesses
- Cards that benefit from wounds on the ring-bearer, like Isengard Warrior (3U61) , Resistance Becomes Unbearable (2U79) , Úlairë Nelya, Ringwraith in Twilight (2R84) , Morgul Whelp (7U202) , Morgul Hound (7C192) , Gorbag, Covetous Captain (10R59) , or Ten Times Outnumbered (10C66) .
- Cards that also want to pressure the ring-bearer in particular, like Resistance Becomes Unbearable (2U79) , The Witch-king, Lord of the Nazgul (2R85) , Morgul Brute (7R188) , Morgul Destroyer (7U190) , and Howl of Harad (4U236) . Many of these two types of cards are common in Morgul Orcs.
- Grind decks that just want to stack up as many wounds as possible, like Isengard Orcs, archery decks, and Sauron Grind.
- Expensive Skirmish Phase or Regroup Phase effects, like Hides (4R19) , Howl of Harad (4U236) , Whirling Strike (4C260) , and many others.
- Swarm decks that can help survive his skirmish without taking more than one wound, so he can kill an exhausted ring-bearer in the Regroup Phase
- Dark as Darkness can provide the exertion to trigger Lost to the Goblins (1R189) in the Shadow Phase, making it very difficult to prevent
- The One Ring, The Binding Ring (9R+1) . An exhausted ring-bearer with Binding Ring can't use the ring at all, and Dark as Darkness can exhaust the ring-bearer unexpectedly.
- Consuming burdens with Gollum can prevent The Shire Countryside (3R113) from triggering.
- Free Peoples effects that trigger after winning a skirmish, like Legolas, Archer of Mirkwood (5P121) , Bow of the Galadhrim (1R33) , or Banner of Westernesse (6U51) .
- Éowyn, Lady of Ithilien (10R72) loves to see low-strength, high-vitality minions, especially ones that exert themselves before she even gets to them.
- Healing. Any healing can simply undo the damage that Gollum is doing turn after turn, so strong reusable effects like Banner of Westernesse (6U51) , Elrond, Herald to Gil-galad (3R13) , or Shadow Between (7R28) are his nemesis. Shoulder to Shoulder (1C59) can negate his pressure on the ring-bearer, although it doesn't reduce the number of overall wounds.
- There are a lot of ways to prevent Gollum from assassinating the ring-bearer, including wounding him with direct wounding, beating him in a skirmish with a character with Damage +1 or a mount that exerts minions, overwhelming him with a 10+ strength skirmisher, healing the ring-bearer, preventing the wound on the ring-bearer with a card other than the One Ring, or using one of the One Rings that work in any phase (The One Ring, Isildur's Bane (1R1) and The One Ring, The Ring of Rings (11R1) ). You should never count on him as a reliable win condition.
|Gollum, Nasty Treacherous Creature (5C24)||Regroup: Discard Gollum to exert a companion or ally.|
|Gollum, Stinker (5R25)||Gollum is strength +1 for each burden. Each time Gollum wins a skirmish, you may add a burden.|
|Gollum, Old Villain (6C40)||Skirmish: Discard a card from hand to make Gollum strength +1 (or +2 if skirmishing a Ring-bound companion).|
|Gollum, Plotting Deceiver (7R58)||If you have initiative during the Shadow phase, you may play this minion from your discard pile.|
|Gollum, Vile Creature (7C59)||Skirmish: Exert Gollum twice or remove a threat to make him strength +2.|
|Gollum, Mad Thing (10R21)||To assign Gollum to a skirmish, the Free Peoples player must make Gollum strength +3 until the regroup phase or add a burden.|
|Gollum, Skulker (11R42)||Lurker. (Skirmishes involving lurker minions must be resolved after any others.)
Skirmish: Exert Gollum twice to make another minion strength +2.
|Gollum, Her Sneak (13U50)||While a card titled Déagol is removed from the game, Gollum is strength +2 and fierce.
Shadow: Remove a card titled Déagol in your discard pile from the game to play this minion from your discard pile.
|Gollum, Hopeless (15R43)||At the start of each skirmish involving Gollum, he is strength +X until the end of that skirmish, where X is the Ring-bearer’s strength.|
|Gollum, Threatening Guide (19P10)||Gollum is strength +1 for each threat you can spot.
Each time Gollum wins a skirmish, you may add a threat.
|Gollum, Worker of Mischief (0W5)||To play, spot a condition. Menace - When you play Gollum you may make the move limit for this turn –1.|
|Gollum, Wretched Creature (0W18)|||