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At any time, either one side or the other side has initiative. The Free Peoples player has initiative while he has four or more cards in hand.

Otherwise, the Shadow has initiative. If there is more than one Shadow player, then all of those Shadow players have initiative when the Free Peoples player does not.

Besieging Pike says, “If you have initiative, bearer is strength +3.” Since this is a Shadow card, it only gets this bonus when the Free Peoples player has 3 or fewer cards in hand (the cards in the hands of the Shadow players don’t matter).

- Initiative section

Initiative was added to the rules with the release of set 7 and was only ever referenced in cards from King Block (sets 7, 8, and 10). Some cards make it more difficult for the Free Peoples player to have initiative, or take initiative away from the Free Peoples player altogether. These are:

Culture Raider.svg Raider

  • Harsh Tongues
  • Southron Chieftain
  • Corsair War Galley
  • Haradwaith

Culture Ringwraith.svg Wraith

  • Feel His Blade
  • More Unbearable
  • Streaming to the Field
  • Unhindered

Culture Sauron.svg Sauron

  • Mordor Fighter
  • Some Secret Art of Flame
  • Morgai