Rule of 4

From LOTR-TCG Wiki

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.

See also Draw Deck, Draw, Discard Pile, Hand, Fellowship Phase.


Cards Limited by the Rule of 4[edit]

Portrait Card Name Culture Card Type Game Text
Delving (1C6) Culture Dwarven.svg Dwarven Event Fellowship: Exert a Dwarf companion to draw 3 cards.
Wealth of Moria (1R28) Culture Dwarven.svg 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) Culture Dwarven.svg Dwarven Condition Tale. Plays to your support area.

Each time you play a Dwarf, you may discard the top 2 cards from your draw deck to take a Culture Dwarven.svg event into hand from your discard pile.

Book of Mazarbul (3R1) Culture Dwarven.svg 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) Culture Dwarven.svg Dwarven Event Fellowship: Spot a Dwarf to take a Free Peoples card stacked on a Culture Dwarven.svg condition into hand.
Ever My Heart Rises (4R46) Culture Dwarven.svg 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) Culture Dwarven.svg Dwarven Event Fellowship: Spot a Dwarf and discard the top card of your draw deck to draw 2 cards.
Defending the Keep (5C6) Culture Dwarven.svg Dwarven Event Fellowship: Spot a Dwarf to draw a card or play a Culture Dwarven.svg condition from your discard pile.
Calculated Risk (7C4) Culture Dwarven.svg Dwarven Event • Fellowship Spot a Dwarf and add a threat to draw 3 cards.
Loyalty Unshaken (7R10) Culture Dwarven.svg Dwarven Condition • Support Area When you play this condition, you may stack 2 cards from hand here. Draw a card for each Culture Dwarven.svg card you stack.

Skirmish: Make a Dwarf strength +2. Also, make that Dwarf damage +2 for each Culture Dwarven.svg card stacked on this condition. Discard this condition.

Aggression (8C1) Culture Dwarven.svg 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) Culture Dwarven.svg Dwarven Companion • Dwarf Damage +1. Fellowship.

Each time you play a Culture Dwarven.svg possession, you may draw a card.

Elrond, Lord of Rivendell (1R40) Culture Elven.svg 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) Culture Elven.svg Elven Event Fellowship: Exert an Elf to reveal an opponent’s hand. You may discard a Culture Isengard.svg minion revealed to draw 2 cards.
Alliance Reforged (4R58) Culture Elven.svg Elven Event Tale.

Fellowship: Draw a card for each Elf companion you spot.

Elrond, Keeper of Vilya (6R15) Culture Elven.svg 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 Culture Elven.svg card, you may take it into hand and heal an Elf companion.
Gift of Foresight (6U19) Culture Elven.svg 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) Culture Elven.svg Elven Possession • Support Area To play, spot a Dwarf. When you play this possession, add 2 Culture Elven.svg tokens here.

Fellowship: Discard this possession or remove an Culture Elven.svg token from here to reveal the top card of your draw deck. If it is a Culture Dwarven.svg or Culture Elven.svg card, you may take it into hand.

The Mirror of Galadriel, Dangerous Guide (15R22) Culture Elven.svg 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) Culture Gandalf.svg Gandalf Ally • Home 1 • Man Fellowship: Exert Barliman Butterbur to take a Culture Gandalf.svg event into hand from your discard pile.
Ottar, Man of Laketown (1R80) Culture Gandalf.svg 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) Culture Gandalf.svg 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) Culture Gandalf.svg 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) Culture Gandalf.svg 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) Culture Gandalf.svg 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) Culture Gandalf.svg Gandalf Possession • Support Area To play, spot a Culture Gandalf.svg Wizard.

Regroup: Stack a spell from hand here.

Fellowship: Discard a Culture Gandalf.svg card from hand to take a card stacked here into hand.

Final Account (11C31) Culture Gandalf.svg Gandalf Event • Fellowship To play, exert a Culture Gandalf.svg 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) Culture Gandalf.svg Gandalf Companion • Man At the start of the fellowship phase, you may remove 2 Free Peoples culture tokens to take a Culture Gandalf.svg event into hand from your discard pile.
Return to Us (13C39) Culture Gandalf.svg Gandalf Event • Fellowship Discard 2 Shadow cards from hand to take a Culture Gandalf.svg event into hand from your discard pile.
Momentous Gathering (15U32) Culture Gandalf.svg Gandalf Event • Fellowship Choose one: spot an Ent to take a Culture Gandalf.svg companion into hand from your draw deck; or spot 2 Ents to take a Culture Gandalf.svg companion and a Culture Gandalf.svg condition into hand from your draw deck. Shuffle your draw deck.
Scintillating Bird (17R23) Culture Gandalf.svg 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) Culture Gandalf.svg 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) Culture Gollum.svg 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) Culture Gondor.svg Gondor Artifact Fellowship: Stack a Culture Gondor.svg card from hand here.

Fellowship: Add Twilight 1.svg to take a card stacked here into hand.

Denethor, Lord of Minas Tirith (10R28) Culture Gondor.svg Gondor Companion • Man To play, spot 2 Culture Gondor.svg Men.

Fellowship: If at a sanctuary, exert Denethor to take a Culture Gondor.svg card into hand from your draw deck, then reshuffle. Choose an opponent who may draw 2 cards.

Isildur, Heir of Elendil (13U71) Culture Gondor.svg 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) Culture Rohan.svg Rohan Event Fellowship: Spot 3 mounted Culture Rohan.svg Men to make the move limit for this turn +2. Each Shadow player may draw 6 cards.
Éomer, Skilled Tactician (7R227) Culture Rohan.svg Rohan Companion • Man Valiant. While you can spot a Culture Rohan.svg Man, Éomer’s twilight cost is –1.

Fellowship: Play a Culture Rohan.svg companion to take a Culture Rohan.svg possession or Culture Rohan.svg skirmish event into hand from your discard pile.

Master Proudfoot, Distant Relative of Bilbo (1U301) Culture Shire.svg Shire Ally • Home 1 • Hobbit Fellowship: If the twilight pool has fewer than 3 twilight tokens, add Twilight 2.svg to reveal the top 3 cards of your draw deck. Take all Culture Shire.svg cards revealed into hand and discard the rest.
Old Toby (1C305) Culture Shire.svg Shire Possession Pipeweed.

Plays to your support area. When you play this possession, you may draw a card.

Red Book of Westmarch (2R113) Culture Shire.svg Shire Possession Tale.

Each time you play a tale, you may spot Bilbo to draw a card.

Birthday Present (10R104) Culture Shire.svg Shire Condition • Support Area Fellowship: Add a burden to choose 2 Culture Shire.svg 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.​



Game Concepts
Play Area
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
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 BombBeasterlingsBerserkersBouncing HobbitsElventsForestgulsHobbit 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 ManipulationSplashSubcultureTankFetchValue EngineWhiff