Special Abilities -- +1 to Corruption Checks, May tap to test a ring
Missing Skill -- Ranger
Booster Card -- Hobbit Lore
Home Site -- Any Haven
Gandalf is sort of the all-around wizard. He's the backup wizard for many decks, but he isn't too specialized so for most strategies another wizard is better suited. So why would you use Gandalf? His abilities are not spectacular. The bonus to corruption checks is nice as it allows him to carry weapons and use spells with less worry, but he also shares this ability with Radagast. His second ability, ring testing, is almost never used. In a sealed deck game it can be great, but in a constructed deck it is simply too risky. Wizard's Test or Test of Lore give much better chances of getting the ring you want and you don't need to tap to play these cards. At most you will use this ability as a backup and even if you do you'll probably want to be playing with Rumors of Rings and using multiple ring types. That way no matter what you roll you can get something.
Gandalf's booster card is the worst of them all. Its benefit of +2 DI vs. hobbits and hobbit factions is of limited utility, and on top of that Hobbit Lore is the most restricted in its playability. Gandalf must be at a haven during the organization phase and must tap if untapped. These limitations turn a mediocre card into a terrible one.
However, Gandalf has his own special booster card, Narya. While dangerous with a -5 corruption check this card is powerful and can be a big help to your strategy if you are careful with it. Its first effect is to boost Gandalf's stats. With +4 to prowess, +1 to body, and +2 to DI it turns Gandalf into a 10/10 with 12 DI SuperWizard. But Narya's best effect is its untapping ability. All non-wounded characters in your company will be untapped. This allows you to tap out during the M/H phase or while facing an auto-attack and still do something during the site phase. Or two or three somethings if you are well prepared. Use Thorough Search, Bounty of the Hoard, or pick up allies like the Noble Hound or Noble Steed. You can also use this ability to good effect in the Underdeeps. You will need to have a plan to deal with Narya's drawback though so pack plenty of corruption check helpers. Play with cards such as A Friend or Three or Old Friendship, and pick up items such as Magical Harp or Emerald of the Mariner. For every Narya you put in your deck I'd suggest at least 2 corruption check helpers.
As a homesite, Gandalf has the choice of any haven. This is especially nice for companies based around Lorien or that roam around large portions of Middle Earth. This ability to show up at Lorien can make Gandalf a first choice for Galadriel based strategies, or certain One Ring decks that use Lorien to pick up Leaf Brooches. This also tends to make him the first choice of a backup wizard as he can come into play in any area of the map.
Gandalf's one big disability is his lack of ranger skill. This makes him the most limited for lone wizard use as he can be stopped by River, Long Winter, and other roadblock cards. If you are playing with Gandalf you'll want to keep him in a company with a couple of rangers unless you are sure your opponent is not playing with roadblock cards, especially River.
In summary Gandalf is a decent all around wizard. His abilities don't put him in an active or passive mode so you can use him for either type of strategy. Although more susceptible to roadblock than most Gandalf is good for a backup wizard or companies based out of Lorien. His one shining star is Narya, but use it carefully with lots of help for his corruption check.
A place for newbies (and oldies who are coming back to the game) to get up to speed quickly
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