Shelob, Eater of Light (8R25)
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Shelob, Eater of Light (8R25) is a Gollum Minion from the Siege of Gondor set.
Shelob, Eater of Light is the second-most popular version of Shelob, even if it is a distant second behind Shelob, Her Ladyship (10R23) . She's best used in one of two ways. Eater of Light can be useful as a one-of to download Web (8C30) for deck focused more on Gollum and Her Ladyship, such as Ninja Gollum. Alternately, she can serve as the centerpiece of her own deck, where you play Eater of Light, multiple copies of Web, a copy or two of Larder (8U23) , and orc minions that you can stack up on the Webs to increase her strength. In both cases, she's mainly used in Movie Block/King Block play, since she's left behind by a combination of other cards that serve her main purpose or simple power creep in later sets.
Eater of Light just isn't very impressive on base rate. While eight vitality is exceptionally high and great for soaking archery or direct wounding, it's usually overkill for most cases. If you're not taking advantage of her game text, her base strength is just not high enough for the 6-8 twilight she costs. Any strong combatant with a hand weapon can win skirmishes against her, and some, like Aragorn, Elessar Telcontar (10R25) , Gil-galad, Elven High King (9R+15) , and many ents like Ent Horde (6R28) , don't even need that. She doesn't even have the impact of a minion like Lurtz, Servant of Isengard (1R127) or Úlairë Attëa, Keeper of Dol Guldur (1R229) let alone King Block juggernauts like The Witch-king, Morgul King (7R221) , Orc Archer Troop (7U294) , or Castamir of Umbar (8R51) . Plus, because those other, more-dangerous juggernaut minions exist in the meta, good Free Peoples decks have a gameplan to deal with single dangerous minions played over and over. So how do you get value from her?
You can use her as a one-off in Ninja Gollum, or any deck that uses Gollum and/or a different Shelob. You include one copy of Eater of Light to grab Web, so that Gollum and your other Shelob can use it to be played over and over again. One copy of Web is very useful in those decks, but subsequent copies are much less so unless your opponent can remove them. Eater of Light is one less card you need to have in your deck to reduce your dead draws. Even if she's not a great minion, she is still a minion, and with two cards stacked on a Web (uncommon but doable) she gets up to a respectable 14 strength. You can grab her with Evil-smelling Fens (5U22) if she's in your discard and you need to download a Web. She's not the only choice to tutor Web, though. In Movie Block, there are mostly Free Peoples options, like On Your Doorstep (8U19) or Saved From the Fire (8R20) , which both require you to be playing both Gandalf and Smeagol. In later sets, there are many other options, like Incited (11R44) , Sudden Strike (15U51) , and Not Easily Avoided (18R32) , and consequently she's rarely played in Ninja Gollum in formats like Expanded.
Alternately, you can use her as the centerpiece for her own deck. Play her from your hand, and she downloads Web (8C30) . If your opponent doesn't kill her at that site—and most Fellowships will struggle to do so!—she goes back to the Web. Play her again at the next site, twilight permitting, and she can download another Web, or a copy of Larder (8U23) . Play orc minions to fill up her Webs and discard the ones you can't afford to Larder, and before long she gets to be an unstoppable high-strength juggernaut that can overwhelm almost any companion. Most decks are not prepared to survive a skirmish with a minion that gets up to 35+ strength.
The Eater of Light-focused deck generally uses four copies of Eater of Light (or three copies of her and one of Her Ladyship), four copies of Web, and 1-2 copies of Larder. It also generally runs at least one Gollum—Gollum, Old Villain (6C40) and Gollum, Dark as Darkness (9R+28) are popular generic choices— with 3-4 copies of Captured by the Ring (7C53) , 2-4 copies of Evil-smelling Fens (5U22) to recur Shelob. With about 18-20 cards spoken for, the rest of the deck is some sort of efficient, straightforward strategy involving orcs. Any orc-based strategy can work well, as long as some orcs survive to the regroup phase. King Block Sauron strategies like Sauron Roaming, Sauron Initiative, and Sauron Threats are often half a deck looking for a second half anyway, and a deck in that culture can also use Troll of Cirith Gorgor (10R101) , who appreciates spotting Shelob's possessions. Mordor Guard (7C287) , in particular, is even better if you stack him on Web instead of discarding him normally, since you then get to keep the threats. The main thing to keep in mind is that orcs stacked on a Web are not available to be discarded in the Regroup Phase by cards like Isengard Plodder (6C69) or Grond, Hammer of the Underworld (8R103) , are not available to be stacked on Goblin Swarms (1R183) or Flung Into the Fray (8U71) , and do not go to the discard pile to be retrieved later with cards like They Are Coming (1C196) or Goblin Hordes (11R123) . It's a challenge to find the right balance: your minions need to be cheap so you can afford Shelob and numerous enough to fill the Webs, but not so cheap that they die before the Regroup Phase.
No matter what way you go, you probably don't end up with a top tier deck. The main problem is that, while Eater of Light decks are rare, they're countered by the same counters that people use to deal with popular Shadow strategies. These counters fall into one of three main categories.
First, direct wounding. Most direct wounding cards won't make a dent in Shelob's beefy eight vitality, and few decks can put up enough archery to kill her outright. However, direct wounding cards that exhaust minions, followed by a single wound, can clear her out. Sméagol, Always Helps (7R71) (followed by Don’t Look at Them (6R39) , Unheeded (8R115) , or Mind Your Own Affairs (4U312) ), Fourth Level (8C35) (followed by Gondor Bow (7U94) or Citadel of the Stars (5C32) ), or the relatively-rarely played Mablung, Soldier of Gondor (4U127) (bearing Ranger's Bow (4C131) ) can all squish the spider. Similarly, Éowyn, Lady of Ithilien (10R72) can be a soft counter if you can clear out most of the other minions and stack up wounds on Shelob with mounts, Rohirrim Helm (5R89) , Rohirrim Javelin (7C248) , and/or Aldor, Soldier of Edoras (4R262) . These wounding strategies may not be cheap, but the decks that use them are oriented around using them over and over to solve problems. You can try to overwhelm these strategies by using other expensive, threatening minions like Troll of Cirith Gorgor (10R101) or Siege Troop (8C106) , but then it's often difficult to afford Shelob.
Second, Eater of Light relies on her Webs to get any work done. Luckily, there are only a few ways to remove Webs. Unluckily, because Raider boats and Grond, Hammer of the Underworld (8R103) are common and powerful meta staples in Movie Block, many Free Peoples decks are packing those counters. Blood Runs Chill (8R3) , Galadriel, Lady Redeemed (10R11) , Roll of Thunder (4U99) , Arrow-slits (5U80) , and Derufin (7R87) can all discard Webs, and almost every serious deck that can run these cards is running these cards. What's worse, there's almost nothing you can do about it.
Third, some decks can actually survive skirmishing with a 35+ strength juggernaut. Dwarven decks using Durin III, Dwarven Lord (9R+3) or Elfman decks with Aragorn or Elendil, The Tall (9R+32) , The Last Alliance of Elves and Men (1R49) , and their matching artifact weapons can often get up to 14-15 strength, enough to survive much of the game, and make up the difference with pump events and/or Coat of Mail (1C101) /Dwarven Armor (1C8) . Dwarven decks are the only ones that might stack enough Damage +X to kill her after winning one skirmish, to boot. Éomer, Third Marshal of Riddermark (4R267) can get up to 23 strength easily if she's fully exhausted, and will usually hover around 15-17 if she has 3-4 wounds from mounts, archery, Rohirrim Helm (5R89) , etc. Elven decks, particularly Telepathy and Elvents, have powerful skirmish effects like Forearmed (6U16) , Feathered (4U66) , Blades Drawn (4U60) , Vilya, Ring of Air (9R23) , and Glimpse of Fate (10U12) that can bring Shelob down to a manageable strength, overwhelming her in the early game and managing with some struggle in the late game even if she gets her Webs fully stacked. There to pick up the slack in the late game is Círdan, The Shipwright (10R8) , who can often give minions -15 or more per exertion late in the game. These are technically soft counters, but many elf decks have so many events and so many other good tanks (Glorfindel, Revealed in Wrath (9R+16) , Gil-galad, Elven High King (9R+15) , various versions of Arwen) that they can get by.
There are also a handful of soft counters that aren't reusable (or are only reusable at great expense), and thus only buy the Free Peoples player a turn or two. What Are They? (1C119) is almost always active against Shelob, even without support cards like Gondorian Ranger (4C122) . She can be discarded with Don’t Follow the Lights (6C38) if Sméagol beats up on a weaker minion, like Gollum or a random orc. Théoden, Tall and Proud (8R92) can heroically die to her then bring in Rohirrim Army (8R91) to discard her. You can just cancel her skirmishes, but the cards to do so are expensive (Gandalf's Staff (2R22) , Tom Bombadil, The Master (9R+52) ) or unreliable (Escape (4R300) , Boromir's Gauntlets (4C112) ), you'll need to do it twice a site, and she'll just go back to the Web afterward. Similarly, Phial of Galadriel, Star-glass (10R13) shuts her down for a site, but probably doesn't let you kill her. Filibert Bolger, Wily Rascal (2C101) and Sting, Bane of the Eight Legs (8R113) on Sam can discard her, assuming you can survive the first skirmish somehow (possibly with Chance Observation (10C106) or The Tale of the Great Ring (10U116) ).
Strengths and Weaknesses
- Eater of Light can download Web (8C30) , Larder (8U23) , and the rarely-used, rarely-useful Spider Poison (8C28) . This is an exhaustive list.
- She isn't worth playing at all in a deck that isn't using Web (8C30) . Either you're playing her to download Web, or you're playing multiple copies of Web to boost her strength.
- She works well with any version of Gollum and other versions of Shelob, who appreciate having Web in play.
- Alternately, she works well with orc minions of almost any sort, as long as they survive the skirmish phase and don't discard themselves in the regroup phase. (Mordor Guard (7C287) deserves special mention, since he doesn't remove threats if he's placed on Web.) Bear in mind that the the Moria swarm engine and Goblin Hordes (11R123) don't work when the minions don't go to the discard pile normally.
- Evil-smelling Fens (5U22) can replay her, and Gollum works well with her anyway.
- Unabated in Malice (10C24) is her strongest pump, and benefits from being in a multicultural Shadow deck.
- Troll of Cirith Gorgor (10R101) likes to spot the possessions that Shelob downloads
- Archery and many direct wounding strategies
- Any deck that can't handle a single big minion turn after turn
- Very strong tanks, ideally supported with anti-overwhelm cards and/or skirmish pumps. Durin III, Dwarven Lord (9R+3) , Éomer, Third Marshal of Riddermark (4R267) , Aragorn or Elendil, The Tall (9R+32) (especially with The Last Alliance of Elves and Men (1R49) ), Gil-galad, Elven High King (9R+15) , and Círdan, The Shipwright (10R8) are the usual suspects.
- Elven strength reduction effects that overwhelm her early in the game. Arwen, Queen of Elves and Men (10R6) , Arwen, Echo of Luthien (10U5) ,Forearmed (6U16) , Feathered (4U66) , Blades Drawn (4U60) , Vilya, Ring of Air (9R23) , and Glimpse of Fate (10U12) are notable.
- Direct wounding that can chew through her vitality. Notable examples: Éowyn, Lady of Ithilien (10R72) (with other wounding support) and cards that exhaust minions like Sméagol, Always Helps (7R71) and Fourth Level (8C35) combined with some way to finish them off, like Don’t Look at Them (6R39) or Gondor Bow (7U94) .
- Cards that remove her Web (8C30) s. There are few of these but they are all common: Blood Runs Chill (8R3) , Galadriel, Lady Redeemed (10R11) , Roll of Thunder (4U99) , Arrow-slits (5U80) , and Derufin (7R87) . This is an exhaustive list for Movie Block; there are many other cards in later formats.
- Eater of Light Shadow - A First Attempt, by Anautikus on the Last Homely House forums. This Movie Block deck stacks up Isenorcs on her Webs.
- An entry in Troll of Cirith Gorgor Contest, by Not A Zombie on the Last Homely House forums. This Movie Block deck uses Troll of Cirith Gorgor (10R101) and various super-cheap Sauron minions.
|Shelob, Last Child of Ungoliant (8C26)||Enduring. Fierce.
While in a fierce skirmish, Shelob is damage +1.
|Shelob, Her Ladyship (10R23)||Enduring. Fierce.
When you play Shelob, if you can spot Gollum, you may spot a companion. That companion cannot be assigned to a skirmish until the end of the turn.
|Shelob, Menace (18R34)||Fierce. Each time Shelob wins a skirmish, you may add threats up to the number of burdens you can spot.
Each time Shelob wins a skirmish, you may play Gollum from your discard pile; he is strength +3 and fierce until the end of turn.