with David Haffner, Daniel Braganca, Sasha Klare-Ayvazian – Dave, Dan, and Sasha reunite at the Prancing Pony for the ultimate LOTR inspired Fantasy Fellowship Draft. We each select 8 characters from the expansive fantasy universe to build a fellowship for a long, arduous journey. Enjoy the draft, laugh at the commentary, and let us know who won!

Welcome back to MMH Fantasy Drafts! If you recall our last installment, Dan, Sasha, and I drafted Trial of Seven teams from the Star Wars universe, to defend our lives in a fantasy duel to the death. This time, we’re headed to MIddle-Earth, where we will draft ourselves our very own, personal fantasy Fellowships of the Ring to keep us company on an epic journey.

The scenario is this: You are in the Frodo role, tasked to go on a long, arduous, dangerous journey, likely to be filled with unexpected dangers and hardships. To accompany you on this quest will be eight companions, each filling a particular role.

The original members of the Fellowship have been matched to a broad character archetype. When you draft, you will try to match your picks to the part they are intended to play in your crew. They are as follows:

  • Sam: Your closest and most loyal companion on the journey.

  • Gandalf: A wise counselor, and also a wizard.

    • The Wizard is the only role allowed to use magic (more below).

  • Merry and Pippin: The best friends and fun ones.

    • This is a duo and drafted as a duo, so the draft will only have seven rounds. They must be best friends or siblings.

  • Aragorn: The rogue with a heart of gold.

  • Boromir: The gruff badass.

  • Legolas: The slick badass.

  • Gimli: The comic relief.

    • Sorry Gimli, I know you have your fans, but that’s what I’m reducing you to for the sake of this project.

 In order to make things interesting, we’ve set ourselves the following additional restrictions:

  • You may draft from fantasy or adventure movies.

    • No science fiction, no animation.

    • Motion-capture characters from live-action movies (e.g. Gollum) are allowed.

      • And they have to be characters, given a personality by a human performer, no creatures or monsters like Godzilla.*

  • Only one pick per fictional universe, per team.

  • You must draft at least one villain.

 *Yeah, I know Godzilla speaks in some of his movies. No Godzilla!

The magic question: To be clear, any and all of the characters can be latently magical in their essence, and even capable of superhuman feats because of that. But only one slot may actively “use magic” in the sense that they can call upon magic to do something. In Marvel terms, any character can be a species that makes them Captain America, but only one slot gets to be Doctor Strange. You are also free to draft a magic-user anywhere, they will just not have access to their magic.

When you make your picks, remember that this time you’re not just looking for combat strength. You are building a team that will face a long, difficult journey, filled with all sorts of complex tasks and bizarre dangers. Keep an eye out towards offbeat skills, teamwork, and straight-up good companionship.

Lastly, remember that there are specific roles you have to fill. They’re pretty broad, so it shouldn’t be that hard, but try to at least throw a bone toward meeting it.

Alright, Frodos! The draft order this time is Dave, Dan, Sasha. As with last time, we are drafting snake-style. I will intersperse the picks with some of our running commentary from the draft itself, and in [brackets] I’ll put some of your analysis that you emailed me afterward.

Ready? Let’s do this thing.

Sasha: How did you get this draft order?? Seems fishy. Also, can we draft Lord of the Rings characters?

Dave: I crumpled up Post-Its and threw them in the air. Honest. And yes, you can draft LotR characters, but preferably different ones from the role-definers. Otherwise, it’d be kinda lame.

The Draft

Dave, Round 1, Pick 1: Merry and Pippin, the Best Friends: Bill & Ted, Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure series.

[Dave: The obvious pick is to snag Indiana Jones right off the bat, but that role felt easier to fill, long term. This one seemed shallower, with a clear top choice, so I grabbed them before anyone else could.]

Dan, Round 1, Pick 2: Aragorn, the Rogue with a Heart of Gold: Indiana Jones, Indiana Jones series.

[Dan: Dave’s first pick was Bill & Ted, and although they were on my potential to draft board that had to be a reach. My first pick couldn’t go anywhere else. I had to get the greatest action adventurer in film history. How could you not want this guy on your team?]

Sasha, Round 1, Pick 3: Gandalf, the Wise Counselor/Wizard: Gandalf, The Lord of the Rings trilogy.

Dave: LAME.

Sasha, Round 2, Pick 1: Boromir, the Gruff Badass: Hector, Troy

Dave: I like this second one.

Sasha: I just liked Gandalf more than Dumbledore, he was a lock for me. But I probably could have waited on Hector—if you guys take any of my next two picks I’m gonna lose it.

[Sasha: When it comes to hoopers there’s only one Jordan and when it comes to wizards, there’s only one Gandalf. I will shrug off the fact that Dave is pissed that I took the guy who was the example for the category. If Jordan was the example, would you take Larry Bird? No.

When it comes to wizards, Gandalf is cooler than Dumbledore, stronger than Merlin, and just the #1 one guy I’d want to smoke with and talk elven history after a long day on the trail. This is an undeniable winner.

Regarding Hector, I’m a closet Troy guy (different topic for a different day). Hector is the prototypical male protagonist: strong, beautiful, loyal, commanding, compassionate. Between this and Munich, I have been a Bana guy for 20 years now. I think he’s a CLEAR upgrade over the actual Boromir. The idea of him sitting around our campfire each night makes me smile.]

[Dave: I concur about Troy, I’m also a closet fan, as we shall see soon. Not only that, but I’m an out-and-out die-hard for the Greek myths, so I think this is a solid pick.]

Dan, Round 2, Pick 2: Gandalf, the Wise Counselor/Wizard: Maleficent, Maleficent (villain)

Sasha: Nice dude.

Dave: That is a cool pick.

Dan: Thanks.

[Dan: The evil witch famous from Sleeping Beauty is easily one of the coolest and most powerful magic users in fantasy film history. As Wikipedia points out, “She is an evil fairy and the self-proclaimed ‘Mistress of All Evil;’” so the perfect choice for my wizard and villain character. In her own movies, she also gets depth and anti-heroine cred to make her well suited to join up with my team and contribute positively. I’ll also just point out that one wizard was taken off the board already with Sasha’s utterly uncreative Gandalf for the Gandalf role. Side note: you purposefully went with Gandalf the Grey over Gandalf the White—that needs some justification. I knew I’d be allowing Dave to wait on his wizard but Maleficent was my villain pick too so I couldn’t let her pass me by. I briefly considered Voldemort here but among other reasons wanted to leave other Harry Potter characters open to me.]

[Dave: I complimented Dan for a good choice, but on the inside, I was seething. I thought this pick would be my ace in the hole.]

Dave, Round 2, Pick 3: Legolas, the Slick Badass: Odysseus, Troy, The Odyssey, Ulysses, etc.

Dave, Round 3, Pick 1: Aragorn, the Rogue with a Heart of Gold: Dread Pirate Roberts, The Princess Bride

Dan: Nice! Great film to draw from.

[Dave: Like I said, I adore the ancient Greek stories, and slick badasses don’t come slicker or badder assed than Odysseus. He’s the god-damn archetype. Plus, he’s a man with “long journey” experience; that’ll come in handy. Meanwhile, Westley from Princess Bride seems like he has the patience, good humor, and combat skills that would make him an excellent addition to any team.]

Dan, Round 3, Pick 2: Boromir, the Gruff Badass: Conan, Conan the Barbarian franchise (Schwarzeneggar version)

[Dan: We were tasked to find a gruff badass for an epic fantasy quest. Conan the Barbarian is the definition of that role. No one is stronger, he’s able to battle monsters and sorcerers, he was arguably justifiable as the number one overall pick.]

Sasha: Fuck yeah! I made it! Last draft, you caught me off guard. This time, I’m going all the way, baby!!

Sasha, Round 3, Pick 3: Sam, the Companion: Hermione Granger, Harry Potter series

Sasha Round 4, Pick 1: Gimli, the Comic Relief: Captain Jack Sparrow, Pirates of the Caribbean series

Dan: You have got to be kidding me. I had both of those on my list. ARGH!

Sasha: *Rude gif*

Dan: Ugh, I’m really thrown with those picks! Okay, I guess I’ll go with another category…

Dave: Sash, you realize Hermione can’t use spells, right?

Sasha: Don’t care about that. Can’t get a smarter, better best friend along a journey. Frodo would have gotten to Mount Doom in Two Towers with Hermione in for Sam.

[Sasha: What makes Hermione special isn’t her wand, it’s her brain. She’s smart as a tack, cool as a cucumber, and loyal as they come. You can’t really ask for a better best friend who will not just stand by you when things get bad, but actually find the solution to get you out of it.

 In a “fantasy” draft you would be remiss not to take a Harry Potter character–Dan cough, cough–and I think I got the best one in the mid-rounds. Could not be happier.

Both Dave and Dan know I won this category. This is a home run. If you can’t see the Hermione-Sparrow chemistry being the apex version of the Ron-Hermione chemistry, you haven’t seen either film. He’ll be a ton of fun, he’ll keep things light when they get rough, and he may even trip his way into saving us from the direst moments.]

Dan, Round 4, Pick 2: Legolas, the Slick Badass: Van Helsing, Van Helsing

[Dan: My board was totally thrown off by Sasha’s last picks of Jack Sparrow and, more importantly, Hermione. I had a few Gimli picks I would be happy with, but it was still disappointing to see Jack Sparrow crossed off my options. I did end up with who I really wanted for Gimli but I was in total disarray after losing out on Hermione. I didn’t have a lot of options for the Sam role as it was, and Hermione was basically my only real choice on my pre-draft board. I thought no one would take her because, lacking her magic, they’d overlook her. I even deliberately left the Harry Potter universe open to me with an earlier pick for this reason. The only other option I really had considered pre-draft was Samwise Gamgee himself… but I wasn’t going to be that lame and pick Sam for Sam (looking at your Gandalf pick, Sasha).

Anyway, I was very excited to grab Van Helsing as my slick badass character. The world’s most famous vampire hunter has exactly the right experience a team like this needs battling all types of fantastical monsters. He’s inventive, clever, and incredibly slick. Look, it’s Hugh Jackman. That’s all anyone really needs to know.]

Dave, Round 4, Pick 3: Boromir, the Gruff Badass: Red Sonja, Red Sonja

Dan: Nice, matching Boromirs, haha.

Dave, Round 5, Pick 1: Gandalf, the Wizard: Dumbledore, Harry Potter series.

[Dave: With Red Sonja, I realized my crew was a little testosterone-heavy, and I was rapidly running out of female options on my draft board. I wanted to get a woman on board, because it adds good perspective to any group on a journey. You don’t want to only be getting ideas from a group of dudes. And Red Sonja is as tough and battle-y as they come. I felt like it was a good, solid choice.

With Dumbledore… the pick itself was fine. What I was unhappy about was the timing. Both the other Wizards were taken by this point, so I was in no rush. The problem was, I was so thrown off by some of the other picks (Maleficent, Jack Sparrow), that I was totally blanking on what to do. I recovered before the next pick, but time ran out here and I took a role I otherwise could have waited on. Oh well, it’s Dumbledore. There’s no one else I’d rather have watching my back with a wand or giving me advice. And just to be clear, this is the Michael Gambon version. GTFO here, Richard Harris.]

Dan, Round 5, Pick 2: Sam, the Companion: Susan Pevensie, Chronicles of Narnia

Dave: Isn’t she the one who gets left behind for liking boys when all the others get to go to Heaven at the end of the series?

Dan: lol, yeah.

Sasha: I read The Last Battle. It dissolves into a complete acid trip.

[Dan: Ok, so I lost out on Hermione, but my team is stacked and my board is still full of other strong picks for the rest of the categories. But I had to scramble to find a solid alternative here since I wasn’t going with Sam in his own role. Bright and loyal, with great archery abilities, I know she can handle herself on this journey and be the older sister figure I need in my darkest moments. She also famously never got the ending she deserves from C.S. Lewis, so I wanted to include her to allow her to fully realize her potential in a new adventure.]

Sasha, Round 5, Pick 3: Merry and Pippin, the Best Friends: Lumiere and Cogsworth, Beauty and the Beast

Sasha, Round 6, Pick 1: Aragorn, the Rogue with a Heart of Gold: Jareth the Goblin King, Labyrinth (villain)

Sasha: The live-action Disney has been my secret play!

Dave: I haven’t seen that—are they mocapped or entirely animated?

Sasha: They’re the same as Thanos or Gollum.

Dan: Ya, it counts. It’s not a cartoon.

Dave: Hmm, alright then.

[Sasha: So we know there are no animated characters. But last night doing my research a lightning bolt hit me- Disney has been remaking the classics with live-action. A world opened up to me, I thought about the genie from Aladdin, I thought about Mufasa, but I ultimately settled on the best pick for this universe. Everyone knows Lumiere’s cheeky humor is second to none, these guys are an all-star comedy duo, and they can entertain us at night by singing to us! And if shit really hits the fan, hell, we can pick them up and run!

My friend hosted a Labyrinth Halloween party a few years back. Finally got to actually see the film. Yup, it’s weird. It’s awesome! It’s all the things. Here’s the bottom line guys, David Bowie is on my squad. What now? Try and fuck with me.]

Dan, Round 6, Pick 2: Gimli, the Comic Relief: Lu Yan, The Forbidden Kingdom

[Dan: This pick may be a deep cut for some, but it’s my team and I think he’s just what our group needs as its functional comic relief. Lu Yan is an amazing martial artist in the adventure-fantasy kung fu film, The Forbidden Kingdom, starring Jackie Chan as Lu Yan. We know from the movie he can handle himself in a world with magic and fantasy creatures, but he also has no problem getting drunk and having a good time. Importantly, he has the abilities of a drunken master and can still fight with deft skill even while completely inebriated. Another mentor, fearsome fighter, and comic relief… a worthy choice for the Gimli role. And Jackie Chan is one of my favorite action stars of all time so he goes on my team.]

Dave, Round 6, Pick 3: Sam, the Companion: Sing, Kung Fu Hustle (villain)

Dave: This one’s a little bit of a cheat since he’s a good guy by the end of the movie, but he starts the film as a bad guy before he makes his face turn, so I’m going to try and get away with it.

Dan: I have no idea, I haven’t seen the movie.

Dave, Round 7, Pick 1: Gimli, the Comic Relief: Robin Hood, The Adventures of Robin Hood (Errol Flynn version)

Dan: Robin Hood is not comic relief!

Dave: He’s a merry prankster!

Dan: Little John, maybe.

Dave: Have you seen the Errol Flynn version? Fun and jokes all day from that guy! He’ll bring a much-needed dose of levity to my group.

Dan: He’s a Legolas! I almost picked him as my Legolas. He’s not a Gimli equivalent. He seems more like a leading character type and not a Gimli if he can easily fit into Legolas or Aragorn. But Sasha can weigh in.

Sasha: LOL Love seeing Dan pushing back on Dave, rather than Dave challenging me! Honestly, I think my team is fire, so I’m not too worried. Take it Dave. Y’all can fight for second.

Dave: Pff. Hubris.

Dan: LOL.

[Dave: Dan can complain all he wants, but the particular version of Robin Hood that I picked fits very well in the jokester/trickster role. Plus, I think he’ll get along great with Westley.

I’m more concerned about the Sing pick. This one bends the rules to the breaking point, since he ends the movie as a hero. I’m relying on the fact that he spends the majority of the film actively trying to be a villain, albeit incompetently, to get me through.

His final incarnation- a chilled out, Zen asskicker—would be the greatest companion one could ask for on a difficult journey, especially a neurotic weirdo like me.]

[Dan: Dave made a very questionable Gimli pick himself with Errol Flynn as Robin Hood. We allowed it, but please, Robin Hood is a clear-as-day Legolas pick- or even an Aragorn- but he’s obviously no Gimli.]

Dan, Round 7, Pick 2: Merry and Pippin, the Best Friends: Jen and Kira, The Dark Crystal

Dave: I actually haven’t seen that.

[Dan: For my Merry & Pippin duo I opted for the most hobbit-like innocent-yet-brave creatures I could think of in fantasy movies, from the Jim Henson classic, The Dark Crystal. They become a great duo throughout the film and prove they can handle adversity in a world much bigger and more dangerous than they are. For a noble quest against all odds they’re the duo I want most in my fellowship.]

Sasha, Round 7, Pick 3: Legolas, the Slick Badass: Katniss Everdeen, The Hunger—

Dan: That’s def sci-fi. I almost picked her, but I checked and didn’t.

Dave: Yeah, Hunger Games is definitely science fiction.

Sasha: I feel like there’s a thin veil between Indiana Jones and Hunger Games. Yes, it’s set in the future. But no aliens, no crazy tech, no space, no robots, it’s an adventure movie.

Dave: There’s pretty futuristic technology in the Hunger Games. And I think we were all imagining a world where Indy 4 never happened.

Sasha: Finneeee, I’ll take Jack Skellington.

Dave: He’s a claymation character!

Dan: Is stop motion animation, “animation”?

Dave: Claymation is definitely a form of animation. Jack Skellington is animated. Katniss would be more allowable than him.

Sasha: Right. In that case, can I take Blade???

Dave: Yes, Blade is allow—

Sasha: BLADE.

Dave: Okay, we get it, you want—

Sasha: Sasha’s Sick Final Team: Legolas: Slick badass, Blade. Mic drop.

Alright, that’s it! GG everyone! Before I submit our final teams to the voting public, do you have any final thoughts or analyses you want to share?

Sasha: Dave and Dan picked a fair number of folks I am unfamiliar with. I really liked the Dumbledore, Odysseus, and Bill and Ted picks by Dave, and for Dan, I thought Maleficent was super clever and outta the box. Checked a lot of boxes in one.

 I feel like Conan is a bit Hulk-y, not sure he adds enough depth or nuance to the team.

And Dave picking Robin Hood for Gimli was about as questionable as him just “happening” to have the first pick.

 Last draft I was caught off guard by A) The fact that I absolutely didn’t need to grab a Jedi early, they existed in droves, and B) My discrepancy around “force-sensitive” characters threw me into a tizzy. I deserved to lose.

 However, this time around, I was ready. I care deeply about fantasy, drafts, and I like to win. I proudly submit my team to the judges, and as Achilles once said, “Do you know what awaits you on the shore?! IMMORTALITY! Take it! It’s yours!”

Dan: Sasha had to scramble himself after some out-of-bounds picks for Legolas. He wanted, understandably, Katniss Everdeen. Unfortunately, she clearly comes from a sci-fi universe. When I was trying to come up with a Sam pick I considered her for a while. She was on my draft board in the Legolas category. I figured she was also a great friend… as I was about to pull the trigger and send her as my pick I thought again and realized she didn’t fit in the rules because she’s from a dystopian sci-fi universe. Sorry Sasha.

Thanks for a great draft everyone! It was fun trying to come up with a balanced and fun team based on these fantasy and adventure films. Looking forward to the next time… maybe with some sci-fi even.

Dave: Last draft, I walked out pretty cocky. Whether I won the vote or not, I was 100% certain I had the best team. This time feels more even. While I still have faith that I drafted the best Fellowship a Frodo could ask for, Dan and Sasha both did excellent jobs, themselves. I guess it’s all in the hands of the voters, now.Merry and Pippin, the Best Friends: Lumiere and Cogsworth, Beauty and the Beast

Final Teams

Dave

  • Gandalf, the Wizard: Dumbledore, Harry Potter series
  • Sam, the Companion: Sing, Kung Fu Hustle
  • Gimli, the Comic Relief: Robin Hood, The Adventures of Robin Hood (Errol Flynn version)
  • Merry and Pippin, the Best Friends: Bill and Ted, Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure series
  • Aragorn, the Rogue with a Heart of Gold: Dread Pirate Roberts, The Princess Bride
  • Boromir, the Gruff Badass: Red Sonja, Red Sonja
  • Legolas, the Slick Badass: Odysseus, Troy, The Odyssey, Ulysses, etc

Dan

  • Gandalf, the Wizard: Maleficent, Maleficent

  • Sam, the Companion: Susan Pevensie, The Chronicles of Narnia series

  • Gimli, the Comic Relief: Lu Yan, The Forbidden Kingdom

  • Merry and Pippin, the Best Friends: Jen and Kira, The Dark Crystal

  • Aragorn, the Rogue with a Heart of Gold: Indiana Jones, Indiana Jones series

  • Boromir, the Gruff Badass: Conan, Conan the Barbarian series (Schwarzeneggar version)

  • Legolas, the Slick Badass: Van Helsing, Van Helsing

Sasha

  • Gandalf, the Wizard: Gandalf, Lord of the Rings trilogy

  • Sam, the Companion: Hermione Granger, Harry Potter series

  • Gimli, the Comic Relief: Cpt. Jack Sparrow, Pirates of the Caribbean series

  • Merry and Pippin, the Best Friends: Lumiere and Cogsworth, Beauty and the Beast

  • Aragorn, the Rogue with a Heart of Gold: Jareth the Goblin King, Labyrinth

  • Boromir, the Gruff Badass: Hector, Troy

  • Legolas, the Slick Badass: Blade, Blade

 

Whose Fantasy Fellowship Reigns Supreme?

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