Rule of 4
Some card effects allow you to draw cards in the fellowship phase. You cannot draw (or take into hand) more than 4 cards during your fellowship phase.
This applies to cards taken into hand by any means. This does not apply to cards drawn “at the start of each of your turns.”).
- The Rule of 4 section
The Rule of 4 was one of the few core rules that was not in the game when it first debuted with The Fellowship of the Ring. In Fellowship Block, Allies were a much bigger aspect of the game than they were in later sets, meant to represent the aid given to the Fellowship by Elrond and Galadriel in the first movie, which resulted in players using allies almost universally. After all, why not pack your deck full of allies? There is no limit to the number that you can have in play at once (whereas the Fellowship is restricted by the Rule of 9) and their special abilities can often be used to great effect.
There was one card that was particularly useful because of a combination of reasons, and that was Elrond, Lord of Rivendell (1R40) . Any deck packing Elves or Gandalf could use him, and due to the prevalence of Legolas, Greenleaf (1R50) , that meant practically everyone could use him. On the turn that you dropped Elrond, you could draw 3 cards, and if any of those were other copies of Elrond, you could discard to heal and draw more. Put this in combination with any other drawing mechanism and you could easily play the turn with double the normal hand limit. There are hardly any strategies where this did not work in the player's favor, and so Agent Smith rose to huge popularity.
To combat this, Decipher ruled sometime before the release of Realms of the Elf-Lords to instigate a new rule, known as the Rule of 4: no more than 4 cards can be put into your hand during the Fellowship phase. This includes drawing from the draw deck, recovering from the discard pile, or taking cards into hand from play. Cards that play directly from the draw deck or discard pile do not count towards this rule, only cards placed "into hand". This also does not affect cards drawn "at the start of your turn" (such as Gandalf, The Grey Pilgrim (2P122) ) , as this happens before the Fellowship phase.
For this reason, card cycling is usually (but not always) done on the Shadow side of play, since there is no limit to the number of cards that can be put into hand while acting as Shadow player. A list of cards that are affected by the Rule of 4 are shown below.
Cards Limited by the Rule of 4
|Portrait||Card Name||Culture||Card Type||Game Text|
|Delving (1C6)||Dwarven||Event||Fellowship: Exert a Dwarf companion to draw 3 cards.|
|Wealth of Moria (1R28)||Dwarven||Event||Fellowship: Spot a Dwarf to reveal the top 3 cards of your draw deck. Take all Free Peoples cards revealed into hand and discard the rest.|
|Great Works Begun There (2C9)||Dwarven||Condition||Tale. Plays to your support area.|
|Book of Mazarbul (3R1)||Dwarven||Possession||Tale. Bearer must be a Dwarf.
At the start of each fellowship phase when the fellowship is at site 4 or higher, you may draw a card for each Dwarf companion.
|Dwarven Foresight (4R45)||Dwarven||Event||Fellowship: Spot a Dwarf to take a Free Peoples card stacked on a condition into hand.|
|Ever My Heart Rises (4R46)||Dwarven||Condition||Tale. Plays to your support area.
When you play this condition, reveal the top 6 cards of your draw deck and stack them here.
Fellowship: Spot a Dwarf and discard the top card of your draw deck to take a Free Peoples card stacked here into hand.
|Search Far and Wide (4C56)||Dwarven||Event||Fellowship: Spot a Dwarf and discard the top card of your draw deck to draw 2 cards.|
|Defending the Keep (5C6)||Dwarven||Event||Fellowship: Spot a Dwarf to draw a card or play a condition from your discard pile.|
|Calculated Risk (7C4)||Dwarven||Event • Fellowship||Spot a Dwarf and add a threat to draw 3 cards.|
|Loyalty Unshaken (7R10)||Dwarven||Condition • Support Area||When you play this condition, you may stack 2 cards from hand here. Draw a card for each card you stack.|
|Aggression (8C1)||Dwarven||Condition • Support Area||While you have initiative, each Dwarf is damage +1.
Fellowship: Spot a Dwarf who is damage +X to draw X cards. Discard this condition.
|Gimli, Opinionated Guide (19P2)||Dwarven||Companion • Dwarf||Damage +1. Fellowship.|
|Elrond, Lord of Rivendell (1R40)||Elven||Ally • Home 3 • Elf||To play, spot Gandalf or an Elf.
At the start of each of your turns, heal every ally whose home is site 3.
Fellowship: Exert Elrond to draw a card.
|Foul Creation (1U44)||Elven||Event||Fellowship: Exert an Elf to reveal an opponent’s hand. You may discard a minion revealed to draw 2 cards.|
|Alliance Reforged (4R58)||Elven||Event||Tale.
Fellowship: Draw a card for each Elf companion you spot.
|Elrond, Keeper of Vilya (6R15)||Elven||Ally • Home 3 • Elf||At the start of each turn, heal Elrond. Fellowship: Exert Elrond to discard the top card of your draw deck. If it is an card, you may take it into hand and heal an Elf companion.|
|Gift of Foresight (6U19)||Elven||Event||Fellowship: Spot an Elf to reveal the top card of your draw deck. You may discard it, return it to the top of your draw deck, or take it into hand.|
|Strands of Elven Hair (9R22)||Elven||Possession • Support Area||To play, spot a Dwarf. When you play this possession, add 2 tokens here.|
|The Mirror of Galadriel, Dangerous Guide (15R22)||Elven||Artifact • Support Area||To play, spot 3 Elves.
Each time you are about to draw a card, you may exert an Elf to look at the top three cards of your draw deck instead. Take a Free Peoples card into your hand and place the other cards on the bottom of your draw deck.
|Barliman Butterbur, Prancing Pony Proprietor (1U70)||Gandalf||Ally • Home 1 • Man||Fellowship: Exert Barliman Butterbur to take a event into hand from your discard pile.|
|Ottar, Man of Laketown (1R80)||Gandalf||Ally • Home 3 • Man||To play, spot Gandalf.
Fellowship: Exert Ottar to discard up to 3 cards from hand and draw an equal number of cards.
|Questions That Need Answering (1R81)||Gandalf||Event||Spell.
Fellowship: If the twilight pool has fewer than 3 twilight tokens, spot Gandalf to look at the top 4 cards of your draw deck. Take 2 of those cards into hand and discard the rest.
|Risk a Little Light (1C82)||Gandalf||Event||Spell.
Fellowship: If the twilight pool has fewer than 2 twilight tokens, spot Gandalf to look at the top 2 cards of your draw deck. Take one into hand and discard the other.
|Speak “Friend” and Enter (2C26)||Gandalf||Event||Fellowship or Regroup: Spot Gandalf to play the fellowship's next site (replacing opponent’s site if necessary).
Draw a card if you play an underground site.
|Saved From the Fire (8R20)||Gandalf||Event • Fellowship||Spot Gandalf and place a companion (except the Ring-bearer) in the dead pile to take 3 cards from that companion's culture into hand from your draw deck. Shuffle your draw deck.|
|The Art of Gandalf (11U28)||Gandalf||Possession • Support Area||To play, spot a Wizard.
Regroup: Stack a spell from hand here.
|Final Account (11C31)||Gandalf||Event • Fellowship||To play, exert a Wizard.
Discard 2 cards from hand to take a Free Peoples card and a Shadow card from your discard pile into hand.
|Dasron, Merchant from Dorwinion (13C29)||Gandalf||Companion • Man||At the start of the fellowship phase, you may remove 2 Free Peoples culture tokens to take a event into hand from your discard pile.|
|Return to Us (13C39)||Gandalf||Event • Fellowship||Discard 2 Shadow cards from hand to take a event into hand from your discard pile.|
|Momentous Gathering (15U32)||Gandalf||Event • Fellowship||Choose one: spot an Ent to take a companion into hand from your draw deck; or spot 2 Ents to take a companion and a condition into hand from your draw deck. Shuffle your draw deck.|
|Scintillating Bird (17R23)||Gandalf||Condition • Support Area||Spell.
Fellowship: Exert your Wizard and choose an opponent to name either Free Peoples or Shadow. Reveal the top three cards of your deck. If you revealed at least two of the chosen card type, take those cards into hand, otherwise, discard those cards.
|Ship of Smoke (18U27)||Gandalf||Condition • Support Area||Pipeweed. Each time you play a pipeweed card, you may spot Gandalf to reveal the top 3 cards of your draw deck. Take all Free Peoples cards revealed into hand and discard the remaining cards.|
|One Good Turn Deserves Another (11U49)||Gollum||Event • Fellowship,Regroup||Spot Sméagol to play the fellowship's next site. Then you may add a burden to take this card back into hand.|
|The Shards of Narsil (3R44)||Gondor||Artifact||Fellowship: Stack a card from hand here.|
|Denethor, Lord of Minas Tirith (10R28)||Gondor||Companion • Man||To play, spot 2 Men.|
|Isildur, Heir of Elendil (13U71)||Gondor||Companion • Man||Knight.
Isildur is resistance +1 for each card in your hand. At the end of any phase, if Isildur has resistance 0, place him in your dead pile.
Each time you reconcile, you may draw a card.
|News From the Mark (6R96)||Rohan||Event||Fellowship: Spot 3 mounted Men to make the move limit for this turn +2. Each Shadow player may draw 6 cards.|
|Éomer, Skilled Tactician (7R227)||Rohan||Companion • Man||Valiant. While you can spot a Man, Éomer’s twilight cost is –1.|
|Master Proudfoot, Distant Relative of Bilbo (1U301)||Shire||Ally • Home 1 • Hobbit||Fellowship: If the twilight pool has fewer than 3 twilight tokens, add to reveal the top 3 cards of your draw deck. Take all cards revealed into hand and discard the rest.|
|Old Toby (1C305)||Shire||Possession||Pipeweed.
Plays to your support area. When you play this possession, you may draw a card.
|Red Book of Westmarch (2R113)||Shire||Possession||Tale.
Each time you play a tale, you may spot Bilbo to draw a card.
|Birthday Present (10R104)||Shire||Condition • Support Area||Fellowship: Add a burden to choose 2 events with different card titles from your discard pile. Choose an opponent and make him or her choose 1 of those cards for you to take into hand.|
|Piles||Draw Deck||Adventure Deck||Discard Pile||Dead Pile|
|Other||Fellowship||Support Area||Twilight Pool||Adventure Path|
|The Turn Sequence|
|Fellowship Phase||Shadow Phase||Maneuver Phase||Archery Phase||Assignment Phase||Skirmish Phase|