Grond, Hammer of the Underworld (8R103)
|Great Hill Troll (8C102)||
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Grond, Hammer of the Underworld (8R103) is a Sauron Possession from the Siege of Gondor set.
Grond, Hammer of the Underworld is an all-purpose removal skeleton key, crushing possessions, conditions, allies, and even artifacts and followers with ease. (It's one of very few cards that interacts with Free Peoples artifacts or followers at all.) It's very straightforward: use it to play Sauron minions to stack culture tokens on it, ideally keep those minions alive until your chance to take an action in the Regroup Phase, then hammer any problematic card. Because Grond is a support area possession, there's only a few Free Peoples cards that can even do anything about it. Unlike the other Engines which mostly only appear in Besieger decks, Grond is a staple of almost all Sauron decks in Movie Block and later.
All you need to play Grond is enough Sauron minions in your deck. He works in a variety of decks and works well against every Free Peoples deck that doesn't discard him first. Unlike most Engines, there's no need to play him with Besiegers, although he does make (the very annoying) Gorgoroth Assassin (8R95) more attractive even in a deck not chiefly focused on Besiegers.
Grond is chiefly played in Movie Block, since later blocks reshuffle the Shadow cultures. There are relatively few cards in that format that can discard Grond, and all of them are popular specifically to deal with it (as well as some similar cards, like Boats). Blood Runs Chill (8R3) is a powerful tool to clear the Shadow player's entire board. Stand Against Darkness (1U63) can toss it, and Telepathy and Elvents often run that card for that reason. Galadriel, Lady Redeemed (10R11) is herself a skeleton key for Shadow support cards, and can appear in any deck with enough Elven events. Roll of Thunder (4U99) is a staple in any deck with Gandalf, and can be tutored with Saved From the Fire (8R20) and recurred with Barliman Butterbur, Prancing Pony Proprietor (1U70) . Arrow-slits (5U80) is one of the least popular of these due to its narrow applicability. Derufin (7R87) shows up in many Gondor decks in Movie Block, in large part to protect artifact weapons from Grond.
Grond has a bit of anti-synergy with other cards that require you to play Sauron minions as part of an ability action. You can't get a token for playing a minion at a discounted price with Ithil Stone (9R+47) , or for using Their Marching Companies (8U107) to play a Besieger stacked on a site you control. You can't double-dip both Grond and Great Siege-towers (7U281) . It also has anti-synergy with other cards that want to discard or stack Sauron minions, like Troop Tower (7R316) , Army of Udûn (7U264) , or Troll of Gorgoroth, Abomination of Sauron (8R108) . Plus, you need to remember to use Grond to play your minions, rather than playing them on their own. These are relatively minor considerations, but they're important to keep in mind.
While Grond can't affect companions directly, it can affect them indirectly by discarding the cards they're bearing. If an exhausted companion is bearing a card that increases their vitality, Grond can discard that card, causing the companion to drop to zero vitality and die. Keep an eye out for opportunities to hammer popular vitality boosters like The Tale of Gil-galad (1R66) , Aiglos (9R+12) , Gandalf's Staff (2R22) (and its many variations), The Saga of Elendil (1R114) , Andúril, Flame of the West (7R79) , Narsil, Blade of the Faithful (9R+34) , Escape (4R300) , and the Elven rings. Likewise, discarding resistance boosters like Phial of Galadriel (3U24) , Scroll of Isildur (9R36) , or a Damage +X hand weapon or ring on Gimli, Bearer of Grudges (9R+4) can sometimes get a sneaky win.
Because Grond discards cards rather than killing them, any unique ally discarded by him can simply be replayed. Be careful that you're not helping your opponent out by discarding an exhausted ally that can't easily be healed. This is mainly a concern with Barliman Butterbur, Prancing Pony Proprietor (1U70) , who can simply be replayed with A Wizard Is Never Late (1R87) .
Strengths and Weaknesses
- While all you need to play Grond is any Sauron minions, Gorgoroth Assassin (8R95) , Great Hill Troll (8C102) , and Troll of Gorgoroth, Abomination of Sauron (8R108) appreciate spotting Engines.
- Gorgoroth Agitator (8U94) can replay Grond
- Since Grond works against every non-companion, non-event Free Peoples card, there are always good targets for it
- Grond is one of the few cards that can remove Artifacts and Followers
- Discarding cards that boost resistance or vitality can occasionally kill companions or corrupt the ring-bearer in an unexpected way
- There are relatively few cards that can discard Shadow support area possessions. An exhaustive list for Movie Block: Blood Runs Chill (8R3) , Stand Against Darkness (1U63) , Galadriel, Lady Redeemed (10R11) , Roll of Thunder (4U99) , Arrow-slits (5U80) , and Derufin (7R87) .
|Grond, Forged With Black Steel (18R82)||To play, spot an minion.
Each time the fellowship moves in the regroup phase, you may discard this possession to search the Free Peoples player's draw deck and remove up to 2 Free Peoples cards from the game.