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The Lord of the Rings TCG Wiki: The Rule of 4

The Rule of 4

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, 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 limited to 9 in play and in the dead pile) 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, shown to the right. Any deck packing Elves or Gandalf could use him, and due to the prevalence of Legolas, Greenleaf, 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) , as this happens before the Fellowship phase.

For this reason, card cycling is usually 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.

How many cards do you know that were so broken they needed an entire rule drafted to combat it?

From the Comprehensive Rules 4.0:

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.”

Cards Limited by the Rule of 4




Gollum (Free Peoples)




rule_of_4.txt · Last modified: 2014/04/26 13:55 (external edit)

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