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dalestephenson

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  1. Since the winner pick didn't include player cards (other than the mandatory heroes), I let skihorse4848 pick another cycle to supplement Ered Mithrin. So Mirkwood cycle will also be available for player cards.
  2. I grant more latititude for deck space than hero selection. There's now a wide variety of heroes that can be used with Rossiel in a secrecy deck (with Folco, practically anyone), but Dunhere is tied to a small number of heroes. It's true that Rossiel's defense boost is conditional, but it's also built-in. Cloak of Lorien is a conditional +2, but it's unconditionally +1 and doesn't take a restricted spot. Fastred does have in-sphere access to Arwen and (when released) Mithril Shirt, both of which are great defensive cards (though Mithril Shirt has the guarded cost as well). They also can be used on anyone, unlike ABB/Cloak. Rossiel in a secrecy deck with a spirit hero has access to those defensive options, Fastred in a deck with Argalad not so much from the reverse. It's true that Fastred finds himself with Tactics decks access, but that's a function of his partners -- LeEomer, Argalad and Dunhere all want weapons and TaBilbo is tactics already. The same is true of leadership access via LeEomer. That Fastred is used more often in the two spheres with the best defensive attachments is a function of his partners. If both heroes were used in the same sphere configuration, Fastred has an advantage in that he's natively eligible for Hauberk, Captain, and Raiment (Golden Shields is terrible on him since it blocks Raiment IMO), but Dunedain Warning would benefit both equally. I'm not surprised that you could get Fastred to multiple 6-7 defenses by mid game when you invest in his defense. But it requires 4 cards to get to 7 plus additional cards for the readies. A similar investment in Rossiel would produce a lower min defense but a higher max defense, meaning that if you ignored ABB access Fastred is more reliable -- but with ABB, I'll certainly take Rossiel *as a defender*. I'm also not surprised that your Fastred decks can beat nightmare quests -- I've certainly found my Fastred decks with LeEomer and Dunhere more powerful than the Rossiel decks I've played. But they weren't powerful because of Fastred's defense (good but fragile), nor were they powerful because his ability bolsters his defensive prowess (it doesn't). His defense is only important as a trigger for his ability, which is the real thing that makes Fastred great in the few decks where the ability is useful. I doubt we really disagree much about utility -- I'm not claiming Rossiel is a better hero than Fastred, you're not claiming Fastred is a good splash hero if you want a defender.
  3. Sorry for missing the update last week. Escape from Moria is an inconsistent quest -- if you get the random quests in the right order, it can be fairly straightforward, but bad luck with Foe Beyond (or Sudden Pitfall) can be miserable. I probably had 10 different stage 2s, but Foe Beyond never showed up and I *finally* got the Tools on Elrond, with UC and Miruvor. Three readies in the Refresh phase, I had only to survive one more card -- and I had Test of Will in hand in case it was New Devilry. Most of us managed to make it through (outside cards in parens) 0 rees263 (3) 0 dalestephenson (4) 0 Wandalf the Gizzard (5) 0 Thanee (27) 1 Skihorse4848 (0) 1 Vermithrax (9) Watcher in the Water has those miserable tentacles, which protect a regenerating boss enemy, or an alternate win condition of Durin's Door which can miserable without scrying. But as luck would have it, all of us have Lore access. Praise Hennamarth Riversong! 0 Skihorse4848 (0) 0 rees263 (3) 0 dalestephenson (4) 0 Wandalf the Gizzard (5) 0 Thanee (27) 1 Vermithrax (9) Here's the standings before Shadow and Flame, the toughest of the lot: 0 rees263 (3) 0 dalestephenson (4) 0 Wandalf the Gizzard (5) 0 Thanee (27) 1 Skihorse4848 (0) 2 Vermithrax (9) There's a three day weekend coming up (at least in the US), so plenty of time to join and play all three quests if you like.
  4. Again, this comes back to the context of "defensive hero". I like Fastred a lot and I recognize Rossiel's weakness and have no quarrel with the idea that Fastred is a better *hero*, but I like Rossiel better as a *defender*. My Rossiel decks are typically secrecy decks, so I mulligan for Out of the Wild and use that to setup Rossiel (typically for defense, though in quests with a starting location it may be for turn one willpower). So she's often defending at 4/3 from turn one against most enemies, and that's solid defense. That usage explains why Rossiel doesn't make the strongest VD decks, since you're powering up Rossiel with (likely) a weak card instead of taking out a nasty card and powering up Door Is Closed. But getting an 8-threat hero to defend for 4 or quest for 4 in turn one is pretty cool and helps me get off to a good start. Rossiel decks are neither the best victory display decks nor the best secrecy decks, but I find them fun for all that--they are certainly viable against non-nightmare quests. Fastred is the bomb in the specific archtype of staging area attackers, which is a ton of fun -- but it also means that he's tied at the hip to a handful of heroes. Without staging area attacks/damage (or a handful of quests where some enemies are important to un-engage) his ability is *terrible* for a defender, putting enemies back in staging to contribute threat and preventing you from attacking them. Looking at him as a generic defender, he starts with a 1 def advantage, but Rossiel has an ability that will add to her defense while Fastred has an ability that actively works against combat. He is also not eligible for most in-sphere defensive attachments. If I grabbed two heroes at random and was choosing between Fastred and Rossiel to be hero-defender-when-needed, I'd usually go for Rossiel. (Of course, it's likely I'd prefer one of the 3 def heroes *without* an explicit defensive ability over *either*.) The one big advantage Fastred has as a generic defender -- and it is a big one -- is Warrior. That doesn't help him in Spirit unless he's playing with SpBard, but Raiment of War is beautiful on him, buffing his defense and hp with one card. Rossiel's eligible 2-cost tactics attachment gives her sentinel instead of +1 def, which is usually much less useful for a generic defender, though it does leave a restricted slot free (with the ABB nerf, that obviously becomes very important).
  5. Sure, access to ABB was a selling point for a defending hero. Still is, because shadows are what kill hero defenders. I'm just not convinced that the existence of ABB (in un-errataed form) is the reason there aren't more/better Lore defenders, and we can expect better Lore defenders now that it's errata-ed. The only characters I think might be broken in Lore with the old ABB are the allies who don't exhaust to defend. But if you take shadow protection off the table, I'm still not convinced Fastred > Rossiel or SpTheoden > LoAragorn.
  6. Radagast requires staff, pipe, and raven to get the card draw for free, but only Pipe and Raven for guaranteed card draw. (ETH/Pipe also works, but requires successful questing). Now the Pipe/Raven combo does cost 1 resource per turn (to put the raven back in play) if you don't have the staff (or use it on something else). But that's not a bad price for a card *plus* Radagast questing without exhausting. But it's certainly true that with 3-4 players being able to scry three cards before staging is *way* more useful than another 2 willpower. Different story in one-deck solo, of course. It's also worth remembering that Word of Command in a Radagast deck makes assembling *any* combo easier, if you can spare his action.
  7. Of course, part of the problem is that "best defensive hero" depends on the situation. A heroic defender trying to cover the table in a four player game has different needs than a heroic defender in the "combat deck" of a 2-deck fellowship -- the former *needs* sentinel to do his job, while the latter can usually get by fine without it. Then in a solo deck you have heroic defenders who some turns may not defend at all -- Beregond is strictly superior to Denethor as a defender, yet Lore Denethor still might be a better "defensive hero" for a solo deck because he's always useful.
  8. Fastred is 3/3. I like Fastred a lot, but like Rossiel he is fragile. Rossiel's 4 defense is conditional, but she's same sphere with ABB and her access to Cloak of Lorien is better than Fastred's access to Golden Shield in three ways -- it doesn't exhaust, it's not restricted, and it's in the same sphere. Theoden has Sentinel, but Golden Shield gets him to 4 for only a single attack. For a SuperDefender target, I'd rather have LoAragorn, who also has sentinel, has an extra hp, and is the right sphere for ABB. Frodo has incredible survivability (at least for one attack per turn), but I'd prefer not to routinely raise my threat. I'd rather rely on Treebeard or Denethor or Radagast, despite the lack of defensive abilities. YMMV.
  9. The rules reference glossary under Sentinel calls it a "keyword ability", and the same wording is used for Ranged. The glossary under "ability" includes keywords as a type along with action, response, forced, constant ability, and when revealed ability. So from the glossary, I think it's clear that sentinel/ranged in fact are considered an ability. Ranged and Sentinel appear to be the only two keyword abilities, the other keywords are not.
  10. LoDenethor/Palantir is pretty sweet for multiplayer scrying, (though by requiring two exhaustions it makes him an unlikely defender, but in multiplayer you can have help for that). I think it's about the same setup as Radagast's Raven/Staff combo, since unless you have SpLegolas or TaBrand at the table it requires at least two cards. Even with SpLegolas, you don't get the full benefit of the scrying because SpLegolas' player has already committed to the quest, and with TaBrand you need to have an engaged enemy to kill in order to get the ready. It's true that outside Gloin/Elrond/Warden healing isn't sustainable for multiple defenses. Even without readying effects, I agree that defense is better than hp/healing -- if you prevent the damage in the first place, healing resources can be used elsewhere. There aren't a lot of quests that can deal two damage to the defender while resolving shadow effects, but the point is well taken. Despite being able to defend practically any attack right out of the box, I tend to forget Frodo as a defensive hero. The threat raise and the once per phase limitation make me think of him as an emergency safety valve rather than a heroic defender.
  11. We'll see. If we consider LoAragorn and Rossiel not being that good at defending, the only good hero defenders in Spirit are Dain and Beregond, both originally released in other spheres and with abilities that tie them to spirit -- and Frodo who has terrible defensive stats but makes up for it by being indestructable. But it's true that after starting Lore in the core set with the best defending hero and the only attachment that can increase defense, there's been hardly any help for defense (Cloak of Lorien) or even hp (Ent Draught). The one thing it does have aplenty that's useful to heroic defenders is healing, and it nearly has a monopoly on that. Spirit on the other hand has a bunch of events that increase defense -- but except for the hideous expensive and little used Light the Beacons, they all are in Angmar cycle or later. It also has four attachments that boost defense or cancel damage, though two of those are in the last two packs of the current cycle. So while Spirit's support over Lore for defense (ignoring healing) is massive, it's actually a fairly recent development and concentrated in packs with the borrowed top-flight defenders. If you step down from the top-end defensive heroes borrowed from other spheres, I don't think Spirit has a massive advantage over Lore in the hero department -- Lore's heroes tend to be a bit more sturdy without giving up defense to spirit. Bombur isn't going to be on anyone's list of excellent defensive heroes, but it's still what he does best -- Eleanor's best stat in defense, but is so fragile in a sphere without healing. I hope you are right and the developers were just waiting for the ABB nerf to rain Lore-ish defensive goodness down upon us. But I'm not confident myself -- I think Leadership and Tactics covers the defense for the sake of defense, and Lore are only going to get defenders if it is connected with an ability associated with the sphere, as has been the case with Spirit (and was the case with Rossiel, the last Lore hero to get an explicit defense-boosting ability).
  12. Yes, in one deck Denethor's ability is dead useful, when he's not defending. I've not played LoDenethor with SpBard/Tactics, but I've played him a lot in the Beorn's Path lineup of Theodred/LeAragorn/LoDenethor. There I rely on 3x Dunedain Warning for defense, though Ancestral Armor would be nice in the deck -- Steward typically goes on LoDenethor and he uses Rivendell Minstrel to fetch Song of Kings, so resources aren't much of an issue. I'd guess I end up scrying at about 50% of the time, since getting rid of enemies quickly doesn't always happen in leadership/lore mix, using with Tactics it might be less defenses. If mixing with spirit, UC can up the scrying considerably. Whether the 3 threat differential makes a difference is quest-dependent -- most quests it doesn't matter much, but Journey Down the Anduin has that hard 30 -- but not necessarily for Radagast! If you find his staff (and that would be worth mulliganing for) he doesn't have to defend the Troll at all until you're ready to take it down, just keep popping it back into staging -- with only 1 threat, that won't hurt you much and take as long as you want to prepare. Since his staff is neutral, you can play it on turn one if either it or Word of Command is in your opening hand. Healing favors the high hp hero only in the sense that (if you can heal it), it allows you to have a larger *consistent* defense. If you can fully heal, you can absorb a (Def + hp - 1) attack each turn. So for example, with plenty of healing and no boost to defense, Radagast can take a 6-strength attack *every turn*, and Denethor can't take it at all. But that's really only with dedicated defending heroes and it takes a lot of healing -- for questers/attackers spot healing enables low hp heroes to stay alive indefinitely, even the 2 hp hobbits, so you aren't paying in threat for hps you aren't likely to need.
  13. Bard is great for off-sphere attachments, but Bard himself is off-sphere to LoDenethor and Radagast, and if you're going off sphere to bolster defense (which you pretty much are required to do in any sphere except monoSpirit with spBard) you can just include tactics or leadership normally. If you're looking to set up a multiplayer Super Defender, then LoDenethor (prior to the ABB nerf) has an advantage over LeDenethor and Radagast fully-loaded because he can do G. Shield/Ancestral Armour/ABB combo without a prerequisite card (Song of Wisdom for LeDenethor, Diligent Noble for Radagast) -- but you can't do it anymore, and you still need sentinel + readies, and you could start with a bunch of other more sturdy defenders in the first place, etcetera. Bilbo might be the best pre-errata Lore super defender just because of Fast Hitch. Post-errata and outside the super defender role -- say as the primary defender in a solo deck or even in a two-deck fellowship, I like Radagast better than LoDenethor. Two more threat, but that's a negligible factor in defender quality. Ancestral Armor is great, but so expensive, setup with G. Shield/ABB seems more likely. Once setup, that gives an advantage to LoDenethor in that 5/3 is better than 4/4 defensively. But it's not enough (in my mind) to offset being able to survive a 6-strength attack *before* getting a Shield on. In Lore itself the defensive options are the same for both, of course, and the healing favors the higher hp hero. But the biggest factor in my mind is their respective abilities. LoDenethor's ability is blocked by defending, while Radagast's ability is compatible with defending. And especially solo, Radagast's potential to quest for 2 for a resource (or free, once he gets his staff) and still defend looms large for me -- as does the prospect of guaranteed card draw with the Wizard Pipe + Messenger Raven (or ETH). Radagast can defend + help you elsewhere. Denethor can defend at the expense of not being able to help you elsewhere. Now to be clear, the synergy and anti-synergy of their abilities with defense don't affect the defense *itself* unless you're using Protector of Lorien, it's just the reason that I think Radagast will be more attractive than LoDenethor in a splash-Lore-primary-defender role. I think Radagast is going to be good fun even (or especially?) outside an Eagles deck. One other point in the favor of Radagast as a defender is that his staff can be used to return a (non-unique) enemy to staging. In general that's not optimal behavior, but it *does* mean that he can prevent an attack as needed, and that's a handy thing for a defender to have in his back pocket (unrestricted attachment, can only go on Beregond). It can also be used to play Loyal Hound for free, and that's also a handy thing to have around for a hero defender. I think that outweighs Denethor's ability to benefit from out-of-sphere events like For Gondor!, Behind Stone Walls, and Gondorian Discipline.
  14. For "defense ability" I was thinking specifically of 3+ defense with defense-related ability, which excludes Frodo and Rossiel. I just forgot about Dain, and his ability doesn't link into traditional spirit strength (though it obviously links with dwarven mining, which has its key cards in spirit). I also specified abilities -- sentinel can be a useful trait, but a 3 attack/2 defense hero with sentinel is not what I consider to be a dedicated defensive hero. Distinct may not be the right word to group the two Beregonds together, but they deserve to be grouped together. I don't see releasing Beregond in Spirit as happening because Spirit needed a first class defender, I see releasing Beregond in Spirit to be a consequence of needing to release Beregond in Flame of the West -- he *had* to be in that box, and neither Lore nor Leadership makes sense for Beregond in the context of Book V. The three named individuals chosen to be first class sentinel defenders (Beregond, Grimbeorn, Erkenbrand) have no connections to Lore. Now it's perfectly true that the designers didn't have to release a Beregond hero at all, they could've had a (Tactics) Beregond ally and moved LeEomer up a box, and that would've been just as thematic. But to buy that the designers aim was specifically to provide Spirit a first-classs defender while neglecting Lore, I'd need to see an *invented* hero in that role. Fastred comes close in that while he's not invented, there's nothing at all known about it him save his death and nation. But given Rohan, putting him in Spirit is the most natural sphere (and Lore least likely), and his ability specifically synergizes with Rohan-attacking-staging -- plus he reduces threat, which puts him firmly in Spirit. There is exactly *one* hero who was FFG invented on your list of defensive heroes, and that hero is in Lore. Further, the other Lore hero on your list (Aragorn) actually has an ability that naturally belongs in Spirit! While there's an imbalance, the FFG-invented hero and the out-of-expected-sphere ability are both butressing Lore. When you release a 3+ defense sentinel hero, I don't think you're signaling that it's meant to be that sphere's best defensive hero (was that really the purpose of releasing Grimbeorn in tactics) -- I think it's just signaling that it's meant to be a candidate for the best multiplayer defensive hero, period. With such a small sample size drawing broad conclusions from Lore's exclusion doesn't seem warranted to me. If the designers are going, sometime in the future, release such a player in Lore, what would it be? Woodmen needs help and is lore-heavy, I think that's the best candidate for an invented defensive hero. Dwarfdom's best defensive hero (stat-wise) already has two hero versions. There's three 2/5 dwarves, but Bombur is already in Lore and Gimli has two versions -- I would love to see a lore Dori hero, which I think would be sentinel if ever made. There's a bunch of 2/4 dwarves not in Lore (Nori, Balin, Dwalin, Thalin), but one is invented and one died in Moria. Gloin's a defender in Leadership, but has poor defensive stats and would not be a defender elsewhere. Plus with the possible exception of Bilbo-carrying Dori and the ineligible exception of Balin, none are as prominent in the canon as Dain. (Gimli is so prominent that he would get a third version if any dwarf did, but so far only Aragorn has met that hurdle.) I think Bofur is the best bet for a brand new dwarf defender since he lacks a hero version -- both his ally versions are terrible defenders, but that doesn't mean much. Ithilien Rangers are concentrated in Lore, but Faramir, Mablung and Damrod are most prominent and already have hero versions; Anborn is probably next most prominent and doesn't have a hero version. Dunedain could use a first-class defender more than anybody and has reasonable representation in Lore. I'm also expecting a new Eastern tribe to be in the next cycle if they go East instead of dipping down into Mordor, as I hope/expect.
  15. I thought your original point was ABB was the reason lore didn't get *sentinel* (protect multiplayer), not that the weakness of the specific Lore defense candidates was a result of ABB. Still, while we agree that there's no good dedicated lore defenders (Radagast IMO will immediately become the best in that role despite his lack of useful traits), there's no way short of a statement from Caleb to know *why* there isn't. I think it's more plausible that it's just seen as more of a leadership/tactics thing -- the two defense-ability spirit heroes both reduce threat, an exclusively spirit thing. If we ever get a first class lore defender, I expect it to have some trigger with cards or healing or scrying, because that's lore's thing. It's also worth remembering that when we talk about 3+ defense and sentinel, there's only three distinct heroes that qualify, period: Beregond, Erkenbrand, and the recent Grimbeorn. It's not remarkable at all that Lore is left out when there are so few. Maybe cutting Ents out of ABB eligibility will lead to some better Lore allies worth putting ABB on. Now that the ents have been cut out of the loop, there's not a lot of non-temporary characters who can take it with at least 2 def and 3 hp -- Haldir, Gildor (exhaust ability), Firyal (quest ability), and the new Mirkwood Hunter. They also all cost 4+ now that the ents are excluded, though the last gets a discount. By contrast, spirit has seven in that category and two of them cost less than 4. Even neutral also has four, two of which are three cost (though Thalion can become Lore). (For completeness, leadership has ten and tactics has six that can take restricted attachments -- clearly leadership is thought of as the defense sphere, as hero Elfhelm shows.) Maybe now that ABB is restricted and exhausts, we can get some way of giving allies Lore? That'd be pretty sweet.
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