C – core set
M – Shadows of Mirkwood cycle
M1 – Hunt for Gollum
M2 – Conflict at the Carrock
M3 – Journey to Rhosgobel
M4 – Hills of Emyn Muil
M5 – Dead Marshes
M6 – Return to Mirkwood
K – Khazad-dûm deluxe
D – Dwarrodelf cycle
D1 – Redhorn Gate
D2 – Road to Rivendell
D3 – Watcher in the Water
D4 – Long Dark
D5 – Foundations of Stone
D6 – Shadow and Flame
H – The Hobbit saga
H1 – Over Hill and Under Hill
H2 – On the Doorstep
N – Heirs of Númenor deluxe
S – Against the Shadow cycle
S1 – Steward’s Fear
S2 – Drúadan Forest
S3 – Encounter at Amon Dîn
S4 – Assault on Osgiliath
S5 – Blood of Gondor
S6 – Morgul Vale
Boromir (M5) is a master of Action Advantage but his other ability is not as impressive; it can be used in an uttmost need, or one can even deck-build around it a little (Fortune or Fate) but overall it should seldom see play unless someone is into that sort of thing. Nicely thematic though. And in a potential tournament environment, saving a round (by defeating the enemies earlier) might cost you less points in the final score than keeping Boromir alive (in multiplayer or if he's wounded); and surely the great warrior wouldn't mind the sacrifice.
Thalin (C) is the basis for direct damage strategies. He does have to be commited to the quest (where he doesn't naturally excel) but then all revealed enemies come into play wounded. That in itself can automatically kill an evil bat or crow but combos particularly well with other Tactics cards.
One of which is Gondorian Spearman (C) who can finish the job Thalin has started. The problem is once the enemy is not destroyed by the hit, the spearman is bound to be by the attack.
A card that helps making Gondorian Spearman all the more powerful is Spear of the Citadel (N). Suddenly the defender deals two damage to the attacking enemy. But the spear can be attached to any Tactics character among which Beregond is a great target (getting the spear for free). In practice, Beregond can take on the more sturdy enemies whilst the spearman will finish the weak (and the weakened sturdy ones later).
Taking the combo is Goblin-Cleaver (H1) which requires a weapon attached to a hero (the spear, for instance) to be exhausted in order to deal two damage (or three to a pesky orc). Suddenly, enemies might begin to fall without a chance to strike.
Swift Strike (C) will also deal two damage after a defender defends (without the need of a weapon) but it costs 2 resources to play.
There must be a greater picture to justify the cost of Beorning Beekeeper (M2). On his own, for four resources, there's not that much he can do, normally. The more players in the game, however, the more enemies will enter the staging area, and if then the Beekeeper's efforts are supported by other means, the result can be surprisingly devastating for the servants of the Enemy.
One of the those means can be represented Descendant of Thorondor (M4). The only shame is that Sneak Attack is of a different sphere, because it works perfectly with the Descendant. For mono-sphere decks, the Eagle still remains one of the very few choices for willpower, though still very weak in that. Again, if you run Thalin, Spearman and the likes, this is a very good addition. A great example is the descendant blocking attacks coming directly from the staging area, saving your heroes, and valiantly hitting back after leaving play.
Mighty Prowess (S2) is one of those intriguing cards that still awaits its day, it seems. It doesn't quite fit into the whole direct damage Tactics formula, which is mostly based on preventing or blocking enemies. Still, as Legolas snipes the staging area with Hands Upon the Bow, he may as well contribute that one extra damage thanks to Mighty Prowess to help others finish yet another enemy.
Unless there are new mechanics, Dwarrodelf Axe (K) remains one of the poor choices for direct damage.
Straight Shot (H2) is not exactly a direct damage card but this is still the best category for it, it seems. It can be highly useful against enemies that cannot be damaged, as discarding them would still apply - and that is exactly what Straight Shot does. You just need to pick enemies with 0 defence, or lower it (think of Rivendell Blade).
Hail of Stones (D2) becomes super powerful once you accumulate many characters or employ action advantage. Without that, it still works well with the other Tactics means of damaging enemies. It is not staging area attack per se, but can achieve just the thing.
Rain of Arrows (C) can be generally considered a weaker counterpart to the above. Highly situation but still strong when paired up with the Spearman or the Spear. A ranged hero is almost a must, for one might not want to wait for ranged allies to appear once holding the card. Then again, such a hero can usually do better things on his own.
When someone is into deck-building for a given quest, then he might want to consider Longbeard Orc Slayer (C). Otherwise this is a poor card, doing little once Orcs aren't around, and even in Middle-earth, that can actually happen.
Speaking of not very useful cards... well, if you ever wondered what is the least useful card in the whole set, take a closer look at Taking Initiative (D1).
Fresh Tracks (D4) is a very efficient card for a single resource. Playing either a part of direct damage or enemy attack prevention (in a detour kind of way). But one still needs a deck that benefits from (or supports) those kind of things.
Infighting (M3) started the whole direct damage strategy in the Lore sphere. At the time, it was alone and hardly efficient without further combos. With the ranger strategies quickly stepping into prominence, Infighting suddenly steps into the light.
But even before the rangers, there was Expecting Mischief (H1), a card that benefits greatly from encounter deck scouting. But even with that, you might want to damage a different enemy that the one coming, and you can use the above to do that. However, Expecting Mischief can do much more than that, it is one of the very rare cards, like Thalin, that can damage enemies without being revealed (potentially preventing terrible things from happening). Of course, on its own, the two points of damage aren't too many but they are the start.
And two may quickly become three even without Thalin. Ranger Bow (S4) cannot damage the enemy before its revelation but it can before the quest resolution, which can not only prevent the enemy's attack but also its contribution to the threat. The problem is, you need rangers to have the bows attached, and you need to exhaust both to deal the single damage. Lore is crying desperately for action advantage.
But instead it is getting the whole set of direct damage cards, one of which is Poisoned Stakes (S5). Not as straightforward as Ithilien Pit, let alone Ranger Spikes, but it is another trap to the collection.
And Forest Patrol (S4) needs those to inflict more direct damage upon enemies. Three damage for one resource is a good deal, but again you need more cards to set this up. Card draw, unlike action advantage, is the primary strength of the Lore sphere, however.
Gandalf (C) deals four damage to an enemy when he enters play. Every child of this game knows that.