This card is in the “worst cards in the game” category, but is not the absolute worst card in the game. The 2 things it gives you (card draw and deck reordering) are done by much, much better cards almost immediately. Card draw staples like Daeron’s Runes and even Beravor are available in the early, early going of the game and blow this out of the water. If you still thought the deck arching/reorder ability is nifty, Imladris Stargazer makes this card obsolete almost immediately. You’d have to pay 5 Lore resources with this card to do the action one time in order to equal what Stargazer does for you in one turn. But then she goes on to do it for you for free the rest of the game. Not to mention she only costs 2 Spirit resources. Again, not the worst card in the game, but what it does for you is performed much better and much more efficiently by other cards, most of which are available in the Core and early cycles. 10/10.
The slew of direct damage cards found throughout the game seem to have a general theme. Namely, they aren’t worth the deck space they take up, because the point or two of damage that they deal isn’t enough to offset the cost of forgoing a more permanent option when it comes to killing enemies. In the case of Goblin-cleaver, is it really worth it to take up a card slot or two in order to play a card which probably won’t even kill an enemy completely? Additionally, you have to exhaust a weapon attachment that presumably would be on a hero to kill the target enemy in the first place. Needless to say, this does not appear ideal.
I’m a firm believer that most cards in the game (most; looking at you Core Set!) can work reasonably well if you combine them in the right deck. For the longest time I was having trouble finding the right niche for this alias of Thorin’s legendary sword. However, with the release of the Dream-chaser cycle, I believe that Goblin-cleaver, along with a host of other direct damage cards, has taken on new life. Enter Argalad, who is a master of leaving enemies hanging around with an extra hint point or three, which are perfect targets for Goblin-cleaver. In addition, he’ll be wielding a weapon or two, satisfying the requirement of exhausting a weapon on a hero. Better than this, though, is the fact that Argalad has finally given an avenue to creat a viable direct damage solo deck, since he can both quest and deal damage, something Thalin fails so miserably at. Goblin-cleaver should never be relied on as a primary means of dealing damage. However, in a dedicated direct damage deck, it is one of the many useful tools that can be used to clean up extra hit points that inevitably slip through.
Given this information, let’s take a closer look at the card itself. In a direct damage deck, you want to be able to deal the damage either before staging, or before having to defend. While Goblin-cleaver is restricted to the combat phase, as long you have a weapon attachment on a hero (read: Argalad) at the beginning of the combat phase, you’ll be able to play this card and hopefully knock off an enemy before it attacks you. The fact that it’s free is icing on the cake, when you compare it to other direct damage cards such as Expecting Mischief, Arrows from the Trees, and Forest Patrol. In addition, compared to the restrictions and elements of chance on some of these events, the cost of exhausting a weapon is relatively minuscule. Of course the downside is that it takes up a perhaps valuable card slot, but in a direct damage deck you’ll be wanting to pack plenty of card draw anyway.
Goblin-Cleaver will never be an auto-include card, and it takes a specific type of deck to make it worth it. However, in that deck, it plays its role perfectly, supplying the last push to skewer an enemy. If you’re like me an enjoy finding ways to rejuvenate old cards, try an Argalad deck and see what happens!
He works perfectly in my Secrecy Swarm deck. ringsdb.com - if you get him in your opening hand while in secrecy and you have Denethor on the table he can then combo extremely well with A Very Good Tale. Also, having ranged and sentinel option in multiplayer is always good.
What's great about this Side Quest is that it's not limited to 1 per deck. You can run 3 copies of it to make sure you get the benefit as soon as possible, even without having Thurindir as one of your heroes.
She is a phenomenal spirit hero for the woodmen/ location control archetypes. Typically her setup ability will often get you a free Gavin into play on turn one to make up for her 8 total stats for a 10 cost. Gavin himself is a great resource battery who's only downside is pulling an extra location into the stage area on occasion. Widfast's travel action is just amazing for clearing your staging area of potential location jamming and gives you another target for all your location attachments (specifically limit 1 per location cards like Woodmen's Clearing).
Another option is getting an Eagles of the Misty Mountains for a guaranteed turn 1 big creature play (Seastan made a really strong and unique deck around this).
I love her in my location-control deck and I hope she helps gets more players into the archetype!