Ninja Gollum

From LOTR-TCG Wiki

Ninja Gollum is the main Culture Gollum.svg Gollum Shadow deck. It focuses on killing off a single companion (usually with direct wounding), which triggers a stack of threats, crushing the entire Fellowship. This wouldn't normally be enough wounding on its own to finish off most Fellowships, but Promise Keeping (8R24)LOTR-EN08S024.0 card.jpg effectively doubles those wounds, and the deck often runs other sources of wounding to soften up the Fellowship. The deck relies on King Block cards, so it first appears in Movie Block, then remains popular in all later formats (except French).

The Promise Keeping Combo[edit]

Ninja Gollum's core combo is Promise Keeping (8R24)LOTR-EN08S024.0 card.jpg and a large stack of threats. Every time Gollum or Shelob kills a character in a skirmish, each threat wound gets doubled. The timing of Promise Keeping (8R24)LOTR-EN08S024.0 card.jpg means the Shadow player and Free Peoples player take turns when a companion is killed in a skirmish: the Shadow player places an exertion (unless the skirmish win was an overwhelm), the Free Peoples player places a threat wound, the Shadow player places an exertion, and so on, repeating until all the threat wounds are placed. If the threat stack was large enough, this can cripple a Fellowship or kill it outright, especially if the Free Peoples player forgot to (or couldn't afford to) put on the One Ring.

The next key addition to this combo is They Stole It (6R46)LOTR-EN06S046.0 card.jpg or, in Expanded, Not This Time! (15R47)LOTR-EN15S047.0 card.jpg. The wounds from these cards are doubled by Promise Keeping (8R24)LOTR-EN08S024.0 card.jpg, so They Stole It (6R46)LOTR-EN06S046.0 card.jpg and a hand of six cards or more can kill an unwounded three-vitality character, triggering the threat cascade. Not This Time! (15R47)LOTR-EN15S047.0 card.jpg does weaken your threat stack, but it makes it easier to preserve cards in your hand or chew through high-vitality characters. You can supplement these conditions (or maybe even score the actual kill) with You’re a Liar and a Thief (6C47)LOTR-EN06S047.0 card.jpg or Frenzied Attack (11U41)LOTR-EN11S041.0 card.jpg (although the latter is rare, due to the difficulty of playing it). They're one-shot events, but they do wounds with the right timing to be doubled by Promise Keeping.

Support cards[edit]

You need to generate some threats to make this combo work, of course. Captured by the Ring (7C53)LOTR-EN07S053.0 card.jpg can do that, while also downloading a Gollum of your choice. Fat One Wants It (7R57)LOTR-EN07S057.0 card.jpg is another good source of threats. In Expanded, there's Gollum, Threatening Guide (19P10)LOTR-EN19S010.0 card.jpg, who can't help much to generate initial threats, but can grow a large stack or restart the stack with one threat after killing a character. Threatening Guide and Not This Time! (15R47)LOTR-EN15S047.0 card.jpg are a strong way to mop up a weakened Fellowship. You can also get threats from other cultures, with cards like Úlairë Cantëa, Faster Than Winds (7R211)LOTR-EN07S211.0 card.jpg or Úlairë Lemenya, Eternally Threatening (15R185)LOTR-EN15S185.0 card.jpg.

The deck can use any version of Gollum, and often runs multiple different copies to have a choice which to grab with Captured by the Ring (7C53)LOTR-EN07S053.0 card.jpg or We Must Have It (5C30)LOTR-EN05S030.0 card.jpg. Gollum, Mad Thing (10R21)LOTR-EN10S021.0 card.jpg is a strong skirmisher (especially with Hidden Even From Her (8C22)LOTR-EN08S022.0 card.jpg) that can set up burdens for Gollum, Stinker (5R25)LOTR-EN05S025.0 card.jpg, Gollum, Threatening Guide (19P10)LOTR-EN19S010.0 card.jpg can be a strong skirmisher, Gollum, Dark as Darkness (9R+28)LOTR-EN09S028.0 card.jpg can add extra wounds or help pay for other minions (and occasionally sneak a kill on an exhausted ring-bearer), and Gollum, Old Villain (6C40)LOTR-EN06S040.0 card.jpg can help cycle your hand before you get They Stole It (6R46)LOTR-EN06S046.0 card.jpg out. Most versions of this deck run three or four copies of Shelob, Her Ladyship (10R23)LOTR-EN10S023.0 card.jpg to help counter the handful of companions that can prevent this deck from going off, although some replace one with a single copy of Shelob, Eater of Light (8R25)LOTR-EN08S025.0 card.jpg to download Web (8C30)LOTR-EN08S030.0 card.jpg.

Since you can only have four each of Gollum and Shelob, the deck runs cards to help download and recur them. We Must Have It (5C30)LOTR-EN05S030.0 card.jpg and Captured by the Ring (7C53)LOTR-EN07S053.0 card.jpg are as good as extra copies of Gollum. Some decks even run a copy or two of So Polite (7R74)LOTR-EN07S074.0 card.jpg, for more cards that can replay Gollum. Evil-smelling Fens (5U22)LOTR-EN05S022.0 card.jpg can recur Shelob or other utility minions splashed into the deck. Web (8C30)LOTR-EN08S030.0 card.jpg can ensure that both Gollum and Shelob appear over and over again until they are killed. In Expanded, Sudden Strike (15U51)LOTR-EN15S051.0 card.jpg can download Shelob or a splashed utility minion, and Incited (11R44)LOTR-EN11S044.0 card.jpg and Not Easily Avoided (18R32)LOTR-EN18S032.0 card.jpg can help set up or replay any Culture Gollum.svg Gollum cards you need.

Ninja Gollum also runs other cards to help soften up the Fellowship, usually with more exertions and wounds. These are often splashed in from other cultures, especially in Movie Block, but Evil-smelling Fens (5U22)LOTR-EN05S022.0 card.jpg and Sudden Strike (15U51)LOTR-EN15S051.0 card.jpg can grab them. Úlairë Enquëa, Lieutenant of Morgul (1U231)LOTR-EN01S231.0 card.jpg can punish large Fellowships, especially when they have many weakened companions. Morgul Ambusher (8C74)LOTR-EN08S074.0 card.jpg appreciates the threat stack Ninja Gollum decks often build up. Desert Lord (4R219)LOTR-EN04S219.0 card.jpg, and in Expanded, Mûmak Commander, Giant Among the Swertings (15R86)LOTR-EN15S086.0 card.jpg can place two wounds and often even win a follow-up skirmish. Gothmog, Morgul Leader (18R80)LOTR-EN18S080.0 card.jpg is good for three wounds, while buffing Shelob and possibly winning a skirmish of his own. Gríma, Wormtongue (4R154)LOTR-EN04S154.0 card.jpg, Isengard Smith (3U60)LOTR-EN03S060.0 card.jpg, Southron Leader (7R166)LOTR-EN07S166.0 card.jpg, and Gríma, Servant of Another Master (19P16)LOTR-EN19S016.0 card.jpg can all disrupt some Free Peoples strategies. Sauron, The Lord of the Rings (9R+48)LOTR-EN09S048.0 card.jpg, Orc Slaughterer (10R95)LOTR-EN10S095.0 card.jpg, and The Balrog, Demon of Might (19P18)LOTR-EN19S018.0 card.jpg can simply overwhelm some decks. Expanded adds some wounding options in other phases in Culture Gollum.svg Gollum culture, like Little Snuffler (13U52)LOTR-EN13S052.0 card.jpg, Horribly Strong (11R43)LOTR-EN11S043.0 card.jpg (great with extra copies of Gollum in hand, especially Dark as Darkness!) or Unseen Foe (15R53)LOTR-EN15S053.0 card.jpg. These cards aren't doubled by Promise Keeping (8R24)LOTR-EN08S024.0 card.jpg, but they can help soften up the Fellowship for a killing blow. Be careful: killing a companion outside of the skirmish phase means missing out on doubling your threat wounds with Promise Keeping, although a kill and a pile of wounds can hardly be considered a bad thing! Just don't overload your deck with too many splashed supplementary cards. Or do, I'm not your dad.

Gollum and Shelob can use some help winning skirmishes on turns when the Promise Keeping (8R24)LOTR-EN08S024.0 card.jpg combo isn't set up. Hidden Even From Her (8C22)LOTR-EN08S022.0 card.jpg makes Gollum fierce, which is great for Gollum, Mad Thing (10R21)LOTR-EN10S021.0 card.jpg, Gollum, Stinker (5R25)LOTR-EN05S025.0 card.jpg, and Gollum, Threatening Guide (19P10)LOTR-EN19S010.0 card.jpg (but terrible for some other versions of Gollum, particularly Gollum, Dark as Darkness (9R+28)LOTR-EN09S028.0 card.jpg). Unabated in Malice (10C24)LOTR-EN10S024.0 card.jpg and Not Easily Avoided (18R32)LOTR-EN18S032.0 card.jpg are the main pumps for Gollum and Shelob in Movie Block and Expanded respectively, although there are other options: Hobbitses Are Dead (7R61)LOTR-EN07S061.0 card.jpg and Cunningly Hidden (13U45)LOTR-EN13S045.0 card.jpg are pump events that can replay themselves from the discard pile. Slippery as Fishes (9R+29)LOTR-EN09S029.0 card.jpg is a situational strength buff that also doubles as a way to cycle a particularly bad hand, although Ninja Gollum decks rarely lack for cycling tools. Chasm’s Edge (13R44)LOTR-EN13S044.0 card.jpg is always worth at least one strength, but gets even better against Hobbits or Faramir, Son of Denethor (4C117)LOTR-EN04S117.0 card.jpg. Saruman, Servant of Sauron (17R38)LOTR-EN17S038.0 card.jpg is worth an extra two strength where you need it and adds in a few handy wounds to boot.

The rest of the deck is made up of utility cards to help the whole thing play more smoothly. Plotting (7R67)LOTR-EN07S067.0 card.jpg can work as a backup plan to set up a threat stack out of nowhere, but its high cost and significant downside if there are any threats left at the end of the turn limit its appeal. A Dark Shape Sprang (10R19)LOTR-EN10S019.0 card.jpg and Reclaim the Precious (10U22)LOTR-EN10S022.0 card.jpg are slightly gimmicky ways to interfere with normal skirmish assignment; A Dark Shape Sprang (10R19)LOTR-EN10S019.0 card.jpg is the only way for a Shadow player to kill the ring-bearer at site 1, in fact. Final Strike (10U20)LOTR-EN10S020.0 card.jpg shuts down a variety of annoying strategies. Evil-smelling Fens (5U22)LOTR-EN05S022.0 card.jpg, Incited (11R44)LOTR-EN11S044.0 card.jpg, Not Easily Avoided (18R32)LOTR-EN18S032.0 card.jpg, and Sudden Strike (15U51)LOTR-EN15S051.0 card.jpg all help grab key cards. Treacherous Little Toad (12U41)LOTR-EN12S041.0 card.jpg shuts down healing, and by extension can silence a companion with an annoying exertion ability. Deceit (18R29)LOTR-EN18S029.0 card.jpg protects your vulnerable support area. Led Astray (11U45)LOTR-EN11S045.0 card.jpg can protect against Cavern Entrance (11S232)LOTR-EN11S232.0 card.jpg or Foot of Mount Doom (18U135)LOTR-EN18S135.0 card.jpg, or occasionally send the opposing Fellowship to an annoying site like Anduin Banks (11U227)LOTR-EN11S227.0 card.jpg or Slag Mounds (11S258)LOTR-EN11S258.0 card.jpg.

Ninja Gollum is unusual in that it can benefit from your Free Peoples deck and vice versa, above and beyond the usual methods of cycling, filter, and choosing a synergistic site path. If your Free Peoples deck uses Gandalf, you can start any version of Smeagol and immediately sacrifice him with Saved From the Fire (8R20)LOTR-EN08S020.0 card.jpg to tutor three key Shadow Culture Gollum.svg Gollum cards. If you'd rather play a Free Peoples deck more focused on Sméagol, It's Mine (7C62)LOTR-EN07S062.0 card.jpg and Incited (11R44)LOTR-EN11S044.0 card.jpg can help draw cards for both sides, and Cunningly Hidden (13U45)LOTR-EN13S045.0 card.jpg, Naked Waste (13U53)LOTR-EN13S053.0 card.jpg, and Not Easily Avoided (18R32)LOTR-EN18S032.0 card.jpg all work on both sides' Culture Gollum.svg Gollum cards.

Sites[edit]

Ninja Gollum is common in both Movie Block and post-Shadows formats like Expanded, so what sites you want depends on the format.

Movie Block uses the King Block site path. Important sites in this site path for Ninja Gollum:

In the post-Shadows site path, few cards benefit Ninja Gollum's game plan in particular. (Make sure to avoid Cavern Entrance (11S232)LOTR-EN11S232.0 card.jpg, which harshly punishes Ninja Gollum's tricks, and Foot of Mount Doom (18U135)LOTR-EN18S135.0 card.jpg, which permanently delete cards you would rather fish out of your discard pile later.) You can always stack rivers, mountains, and underground sites to benefit Slippery as Fishes (9R+29)LOTR-EN09S029.0 card.jpg, but you might be better off simply using sites that add wounds, threats, or burdens. Wounding sites include Anduin Banks (11U227)LOTR-EN11S227.0 card.jpg*, Doorway to Doom (18U134)LOTR-EN18S134.0 card.jpg*, Isengard Ruined (15U192)LOTR-EN15S192.0 card.jpg (if you run Saruman, Servant of Sauron (17R38)LOTR-EN17S038.0 card.jpg), and Neekerbreekers’ Bog (11S249)LOTR-EN11S249.0 card.jpg. You can set up threats with Abandoned Mine Shaft (13U185)LOTR-EN13S185.0 card.jpg*, Pelennor Flat (11S254)LOTR-EN11S254.0 card.jpg, or Slag Mounds (11S258)LOTR-EN11S258.0 card.jpg, or set up an extra couple threats with City Gates (15S189)LOTR-EN15S189.0 card.jpg. You can also make up for Ninja Gollum's lack of condition removal with Buckland Homestead (11S230)LOTR-EN11S230.0 card.jpg (if your deck runs utility Nazgul) or Dol Guldur (17U145)LOTR-EN17S145.0 card.jpg. Mount Doom (15R193)LOTR-EN15S193.0 card.jpg* and Sirannon Ruins (18U138)LOTR-EN18S138.0 card.jpg* are always useful. (Sites marked with an asterisk benefit Slippery as Fishes (9R+29)LOTR-EN09S029.0 card.jpg.

Variants[edit]

Ninja Gollum decks often supplement their strategies with corruption, as an alternate route to win, to pressure the opponent to pick the option to buff Gollum, Mad Thing (10R21)LOTR-EN10S021.0 card.jpg, or just to discourage soaking threat wounds with the One Ring. Gollum, Stinker (5R25)LOTR-EN05S025.0 card.jpg can serve as enough deterrent on his own, but the deck often also runs Úlairë Enquëa, Lieutenant of Morgul (1U231)LOTR-EN01S231.0 card.jpg. Other options include Úlairë Toldëa, Messenger of Morgul (1R236)LOTR-EN01S236.0 card.jpg, Morgul Creeper (8C75)LOTR-EN08S075.0 card.jpg, and Úlairë Cantëa, Black Assassin (12R174)LOTR-EN12S174.0 card.jpg. Heavy Burden (7U60)LOTR-EN07S060.0 card.jpg, Nasty, Foul Hobbitses (6C42)LOTR-EN06S042.0 card.jpg, and Not Yet Vanquished (11R48)LOTR-EN11S048.0 card.jpg can add more burdens, too.

There's a corruption bomb combo using Watcher in the Water, Keeper of Westgate (2R73)LOTR-EN02S073.0 card.jpg and Northern Ithilien (7U359)LOTR-EN07S359.0 card.jpg, and as such it only works in Movie Block. Play Evil-smelling Fens (5U22)LOTR-EN05S022.0 card.jpg and stack up threats, either beforehand or on the turn you go off. Once you get to Northern Ithilien (7U359)LOTR-EN07S359.0 card.jpg, play Gollum, ideally using the site's gametext. (If you don't already have threats stacked beforehand, playing Plotting (7R67)LOTR-EN07S067.0 card.jpg on the turn you plan to go off can help.) Then, play the Watcher, which will discard Gollum. (A second copy of Evil-Smelling Fens can help pull the Watcher out of your discard pile.) At this point, play Gollum over and over using the site's text, placing two burdens and immediately discarding Gollum each time. This combo can stack up as many burdens as you can get threats, usually up to the size of the Fellowship. The combo is not especially reliable, so it's usually not the main focus of a deck.

Little Snuffler (13U52)LOTR-EN13S052.0 card.jpg can kill the ring-bearer stone dead in the early game, and some decks use it along with cards that exert or wound the ring-bearer (e.g. Gollum, Dark as Darkness (9R+28)LOTR-EN09S028.0 card.jpg, Morcs, Doorway to Doom (18U134)LOTR-EN18S134.0 card.jpg) to fish for a quick early-game kill, ideally in the first three sites. It mostly relies on a perfect draw or some sort of extreme setup to guarantee a perfect hand. And if your opponent has any counter, like any wound prevention, healing, or vitality cards or one of several versions of the One Ring, the whole trick falls apart. As a deck, it's a flimsy gimmick, but any Ninja Gollum deck can run Little Snuffler (13U52)LOTR-EN13S052.0 card.jpg and some of these cards and occasionally scam a free win.

Counterplay[edit]

Condition removal. Ninja Gollum has almost all of its power tied up in expensive support area conditions, so condition removal can cripple it. Secret Sentinels (2R20)LOTR-EN02S020.0 card.jpg, Vilya (3R27)LOTR-EN03S027.0 card.jpg, Company of Archers (4R61)LOTR-EN04S061.0 card.jpg, Namárië (17U10)LOTR-EN17S010.0 card.jpg, Lothlórien Guides (17U9)LOTR-EN17S009.0 card.jpg, Sleep, Caradhras (1C84)LOTR-EN01S084.0 card.jpg, Deep in Thought (3C30)LOTR-EN03S030.0 card.jpg, Grown Suddenly Tall (4R92)LOTR-EN04S092.0 card.jpg, Crack Into Rubble (6U25)LOTR-EN06S025.0 card.jpg, Brooding on Tomorrow (10U15)LOTR-EN10S015.0 card.jpg, Bilbo, Well-spoken Gentlehobbit (2U96)LOTR-EN02S096.0 card.jpg, Fortress Never Fallen (4U276)LOTR-EN04S276.0 card.jpg, Let Us Be Swift (5C85)LOTR-EN05S085.0 card.jpg, Blood Runs Chill (8R3)LOTR-EN08S003.0 card.jpg, Clever Hobbits (7U54)LOTR-EN07S054.0 card.jpg, and Gladden Homestead (13R49)LOTR-EN13S049.0 card.jpg are all a beating against Ninja Gollum. Usually, the main target is Promise Keeping (8R24)LOTR-EN08S024.0 card.jpg, followed by whichever wounding condition(s) the Ninja Gollum player is using. Web (8C30)LOTR-EN08S030.0 card.jpg isn't a condition, but the prevalence of strong support area possessions in other Shadow decks means that many Free Peoples decks run Roll of Thunder (4U99)LOTR-EN04S099.0 card.jpg, Derufin (7R87)LOTR-EN07S087.0 card.jpg, Throne of Minas Tirith (17R36)LOTR-EN17S036.0 card.jpg, or Arrow-slits (5U80)LOTR-EN05S080.0 card.jpg to deal with them. Galadriel, Lady Redeemed (10R11)LOTR-EN10S011.0 card.jpg can discard both, making her very difficult to counter in Movie Block. Final Strike (10U20)LOTR-EN10S020.0 card.jpg can protect against many of these cards, as long as Gollum is in play and has the vitality to exert. In Expanded, Deceit (18R29)LOTR-EN18S029.0 card.jpg covers this weakness very well, although it can't protect against Vilya or Gladden Homestead, and does not protect effectively against some of these cards without holding back twilight every turn.

Wound prevention. Preventing wounds with cards like Éowyn, Lady of Rohan (4C270)LOTR-EN04S270.0 card.jpg, Huorn (9R25)LOTR-EN09S025.0 card.jpg, Hosts of the Last Alliance (2U18)LOTR-EN02S018.0 card.jpg, Sapling of the White Tree (9R35)LOTR-EN09S035.0 card.jpg, or Narsil, Blade of the Faithful (9R+34)LOTR-EN09S034.0 card.jpg not only makes it harder to kill someone to trigger the threat stack, but it also means that those wounds don't get doubled by Promise Keeping (8R24)LOTR-EN08S024.0 card.jpg. Gimli's Helm (1R15)LOTR-EN01S015.0 card.jpg, From the Armory (4U47)LOTR-EN04S047.0 card.jpg, Faramir, Wizard's Pupil (7R91)LOTR-EN07S091.0 card.jpg, and Lórien Protector (13S20)LOTR-EN13S020.0 card.jpg can soak a full stack of threats harmlessly or nearly so. Cards that prevent companions from taking more than one wound per skirmish phase, like Armor (1C92)LOTR-EN01S092.0 card.jpg, Swiftly and Softly (4C321)LOTR-EN04S321.0 card.jpg, and King's Mail (4R284)LOTR-EN04S284.0 card.jpg, or prevent wounds entirely, like Swept Away (8C48)LOTR-EN08S048.0 card.jpg in Gondor Wraiths, can be a double-sided sword: those cards can stop Gollum from getting any use out of They Stole It (6R46)LOTR-EN06S046.0 card.jpg, but they also limit how many wounds a character can absorb from a successfully-triggered threat stack while providing no protection from Promise Keeping (8R24)LOTR-EN08S024.0 card.jpg. Cards that discard characters that would die, like The Dead City (7R56)LOTR-EN07S056.0 card.jpg or Elessar's Edict (8R33)LOTR-EN08S033.0 card.jpg, are very rare, but can also prevent a threat stack from being triggered. Shelob, Her Ladyship (10R23)LOTR-EN10S023.0 card.jpg can sometimes help by excluding a particular character, but many of these abilities still work even if a different character is skirmishing.

Similarly, healing and high vitality can be a soft counter to Ninja Gollum. While it definitely sucks to lose a companion then have to soak 10+ wounds from a full stack of threats, a fully-healed Fellowship can survive that and finish the game despite the setback. Aragorn, Gandalf, Durin III, Dwarven Lord (9R+3)LOTR-EN09S003.0 card.jpg, Círdan, The Shipwright (10R8)LOTR-EN10S008.0 card.jpg, Gil-galad, Elven High King (9R+15)LOTR-EN09S015.0 card.jpg, Elendil, The Tall (9R+32)LOTR-EN09S032.0 card.jpg, and Grimbeorn, Beorning Chieftain (14R6)LOTR-EN14S006.0 card.jpg, and most ents are hard to kill in the first place to trigger the threat stack, and can soak up the wounds even if it does go off. Hobbits are especially vulnerable to They Stole It (6R46)LOTR-EN06S046.0 card.jpg, but they often have a great deal of healing from cards like The Shire Countryside (3R113)LOTR-EN03S113.0 card.jpg, Fates Entwined (13U148)LOTR-EN13S148.0 card.jpg, and the Hobbit Hospital healing ally package to come back from a bad turn. Elves often have strong healing, from cards like Elrond, Herald to Gil-galad (3R13)LOTR-EN03S013.0 card.jpg, Shadow Between (7R28)LOTR-EN07S028.0 card.jpg, and Nenya, Ring of Adamant (9R20)LOTR-EN09S020.0 card.jpg, and in some decks can offload wounds to self-healing allies with Shoulder to Shoulder (1C59)LOTR-EN01S059.0 card.jpg. Gondor Knights can often soak some wounds, prevent some sounds with Sapling of the White Tree (9R35)LOTR-EN09S035.0 card.jpg, and heal the rest off with Banner of Westernesse (6U51)LOTR-EN06S051.0 card.jpg and Aragorn, Captain of Gondor (7C81)LOTR-EN07S081.0 card.jpg.

Skirmish cancellation. Since Ninja Gollum runs relatively few minions at a time, it's very vulnerable to having those skirmishes cancelled, leaving Gollum and Shelob twisting in the wind. Gandalf's Staff (2R22)LOTR-EN02S022.0 card.jpg, Rohirrim Helm (5R89)LOTR-EN05S089.0 card.jpg (recurred with Merry, Swordthain (7R321)LOTR-EN07S321.0 card.jpg), No Visitors (15C150)LOTR-EN15S150.0 card.jpg (recurred with Daddy Twofoot, Next-door Neighbor (13U144)LOTR-EN13S144.0 card.jpg), and Halfling Leaf (17U106)LOTR-EN17S106.0 card.jpg are all particularly obnoxious, since they are reusable. Warmed Up a Bit (4C322)LOTR-EN04S322.0 card.jpg and Tom Bombadil, The Master (9R+52)LOTR-EN09S052.0 card.jpg can also be annoying, although they aren't reusable and aren't common. (Boromir's Gauntlets (4C112)LOTR-EN04S112.0 card.jpg, Escape (4R300)LOTR-EN04S300.0 card.jpg, Merry, Learned Guide (4C310)LOTR-EN04S310.0 card.jpg, and Pippin, Woolly-footed Rascal (4C314)LOTR-EN04S314.0 card.jpg are rarely a significant concern, since Ninja Gollum often doesn't spent every last bit of twilight.)

Removing threats can help soften Ninja Gollum's impact. The simplest solution is to let a low-value companion or ally die. Ideally you'd do this when you have a card that can prevent a whole threat stack like Gimli's Helm (1R15)LOTR-EN01S015.0 card.jpg and Faramir, Wizard's Pupil (7R91)LOTR-EN07S091.0 card.jpg lined up. Somewhat less ideally, you can do it in a way that avoids Promise Keeping (8R24)LOTR-EN08S024.0 card.jpg: let them die to a non-Culture Gollum.svg Gollum minion, kill them off outside of the skirmish phase, or simply do it when Promise Keeping isn't in play. Otherwise, threat removal is rare: Citadel to Gate (7R33)LOTR-EN07S033.0 card.jpg, Nine-fingered Frodo and the Ring of Doom (10C112)LOTR-EN10S112.0 card.jpg, Glorfindel, Eldarin Lord (18R13)LOTR-EN18S013.0 card.jpg, and Sting, Elven Long Knife (18R113)LOTR-EN18S113.0 card.jpg are the main cards of note. Gondor Wraiths generates a lot of threats, but also runs plenty of cards to remove them that are rarely seen in other decks, like Frodo, Hope of Free Peoples (7C317)LOTR-EN07S317.0 card.jpg, Aragorn, Driven by Need (7P364)LOTR-EN07S364.0 card.jpg, and of course Stronger and More Terrible (8C47)LOTR-EN08S047.0 card.jpg.

Many abilities that punish events or prevent abilities can shut down Ninja Gollum. Faramir, Son of Denethor (4C117)LOTR-EN04S117.0 card.jpg and Spirit of the White Tree (17U34)LOTR-EN17S034.0 card.jpg shut down They Stole It (6R46)LOTR-EN06S046.0 card.jpg and Not This Time! (15R47)LOTR-EN15S047.0 card.jpg, making them high-priority targets for Shelob, Her Ladyship (10R23)LOTR-EN10S023.0 card.jpg. Cavern Entrance (11S232)LOTR-EN11S232.0 card.jpg stops all of Gollum's skirmish tricks, but Led Astray (11U45)LOTR-EN11S045.0 card.jpg can prevent it from being a problem. Perspective (18U25)LOTR-EN18S025.0 card.jpg shuts down a whole spectrum of Ninja Gollum tricks, albeit at the cost of helping set up the threat stack. Gandalf, Wise Guide (19P8)LOTR-EN19S008.0 card.jpg can shut down events, up to and including simply playing him with Captured by the Ring (7C53)LOTR-EN07S053.0 card.jpg in the first place.

Direct wounding and archery are generally not a problem for Ninja Gollum, since Gollum and Shelob have high vitality. Shelob, Her Ladyship (10R23)LOTR-EN10S023.0 card.jpg even punishes archery. However, some direct wounding decks can pose a problem, especially if they can exhaust minions. Gondor Knights can use Fourth Level (8C35)LOTR-EN08S035.0 card.jpg to exhaust Gollum or Shelob, who can then be picked off with Citadel of the Stars (5C32)LOTR-EN05S032.0 card.jpg or Gondor Bow (7U94)LOTR-EN07S094.0 card.jpg. Gondor Rangers can neutralize one of them when they're roaming with Mablung, Soldier of Gondor (4U127)LOTR-EN04S127.0 card.jpg and Ranger's Bow (4C131)LOTR-EN04S131.0 card.jpg. (In Expanded, this matchup is much worse, as Madril, Defender of Osgiliath (15R64)LOTR-EN15S064.0 card.jpg sets them up to be easily discarded with Ithilien Blade (15C62)LOTR-EN15S062.0 card.jpg.) Similarly, Sméagol, Always Helps (7R71)LOTR-EN07S071.0 card.jpg can exhaust one, then kill them with Don’t Look at Them (6R39)LOTR-EN06S039.0 card.jpg or an event like No Use That Way (5R113)LOTR-EN05S113.0 card.jpg. Culture Rohan.svg Rohan culture can often muster enough wounding to finish off Ninja Gollum's minions, with cards like Merry's Sword (7R242)LOTR-EN07S242.0 card.jpg, Éowyn, Lady of Ithilien (10R72)LOTR-EN10S072.0 card.jpg, some wounds from archery, and exertions from mounts. Again, sometimes neutralizing a key companion with Shelob, Her Ladyship (10R23)LOTR-EN10S023.0 card.jpg can help somewhat, particularly in the case of Mablung or Sméagol, and Final Strike (10U20)LOTR-EN10S020.0 card.jpg can shut down many of these abilities, but sometimes this is just a bad matchup.

They Stole It (6R46)LOTR-EN06S046.0 card.jpg and Not This Time! (15R47)LOTR-EN15S047.0 card.jpg don't work when Gollum is skirmishing an ally, and Promise Keeping (8R24)LOTR-EN08S024.0 card.jpg only doubles wounds dealt to companions. Gollum often just can't do much to Elrond or Tom Bombadil, The Master (9R+52)LOTR-EN09S052.0 card.jpg in a skirmish. This doesn't come up often! Horn of Boromir (3R42)LOTR-EN03S042.0 card.jpg is banned in all common formats where Ninja Gollum is played, and Support of the Last Homely House (1U64)LOTR-EN01S064.0 card.jpg and One Whom Men Would Follow (1U109)LOTR-EN01S109.0 card.jpg are both unusual cards.

Cards that punish roaming minions will affect Shelob for most of the game due to her high site number. This isn't a problem in most cases: small strength bonuses or direct wounding are of little concern, and she can often negate a single character with an anti-roaming-minion ability. However, What Are They? (1C119)LOTR-EN01S119.0 card.jpg and Ithilien Blade (15C62)LOTR-EN15S062.0 card.jpg can discard her harmlessly for most of the game.

Example Decklists[edit]


Gameplay
Game Setup Starting FellowshipBiddingMulligan
Deck Building Considerations UniquenessX-ListR-ListErrataFormat
General Strategies BeatdownBombCorruptionDirect Wounding/Undirected WoundingHand ExtensionRun/StopSkirmish CancellationSwarmWin ConditionWound Prevention
Deck Archetypes Auto-Corruption BombBeasterlingsElventsForestgulsHobbit HospitalFruit LoopsGondor KnightsGondor RangersGondor WraithsMoria ArcheryMoria BeatdownMoria NavyMoria SwarmMoria TentaclesNazgul BeatdownNinja GollumOrc CorruptionRainbow WoundingSauron GrindSauron InitiativeSauron RoamingSauron ThreatsSolo SmeagolSouthron ArcherySouthron InitiativeStupid SwarmSuper FriendsTelepathyThreatgulsToken TanksTroll SwarmUruk ArcheryUruk MachinesUruk TrackersWarg Super Swarm
Rules Rule of 4Rule of 9
Mechanics BearDiscardDraw DeckExertExhaustedFellowshipInitiativeIn Play/Leave PlayMove LimitReconcileRoamingSite ControlSpotStackSupport AreaThreats
Gameplay Terms BoatBodyBroken/NPE/OPBuff/NerfChokeChump BlockingComboCultural EnforcementCyclingDead DrawFatFilterFloodGasGlueGrindHand ClogHateInteractionLoopMatchupMetaMillNewbie TrapNukePilePower CreepPumpRainbowRecursionRemovalResourceRogueRule of 6SideSite ManipulationSplashSubcultureTankTutor/DownloadValue EngineWhiff