The Shire culture has popped up in one form or another since the game began, but Hobbits have been relegated to support for other better-developed cultures - until War of the Ring block. Shadows, Black Rider and Bloodlines have gone great distances to make Hobbits playable. Several high-rated tournament players have managed to make Hobbits work, for one good reason: they match up great against tournament scourge Nazgul.
Hobbit decks, unlike other Free Peoples, depend on losing most skirmishes. It's OK - they have the vitality and can take the punishment. Each loss adds a token to Sudden Fury, which can then be used to win other crucial skirmishes, especially when minions pile on the Ring-bearer. If the Hobbit is unbound, he or she can also use Escape, especially when Sauron rears his ugly head.
Hobbits also have access to some potent healing tricks. Simple Living discards to heal each hobbit if you play a Shire event. Since Shire runs a ton of events, this is a no-brainer. There's also Fates Entwined for the off chance that Hobbits win a skirmish. When using Sam, Great Elf Warrior, the chances of winning are significantly higher, but to gain the full benefit of the card, Frodo or Bilbo must win.
Besides healing and adding tokens, one thing that Hobbits are great at is removing burdens. Hobbits shut the Nazgul Burden deck down cold two ways: they can run all Ringbound companions, negating Between Nazgul and Prey, or they can simply use Bilbo, Aged Ring-bearer to remove two burdens (assuming Sam and Frodo are spotted). Bilbo can more than hold his own in battle, despite his age.
As mentioned above, the Shire culture also pops up in other decks. Pippin, Wearer of Black and Silver is killer on the first couple of sites. Merry, Swordthain was and remains a staple of Rohan decks. And don't forget good old Pippin, Hobbit of Some Intelligence, reprinted in Black Rider, for a cheap and easy way to remove a burden or wound and then stand in the way of a big minion.
All these tricks, and most of Shire's good cards are common and uncommon. Sam, Great Elf Warrior is in a Mount Doom starter. Plus, they lose almost nothing when Tower Block rotates out of Standard format in the fall - almost all their good cards are recent. Good luck!