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PsychoRocka

The Sands of Harad

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Unlikely Friendship is good enough that, leaving theme aside, it's worth looking at Bifur as possibly the best Lore hero for a tri-sphere Silvan deck.

Yes, indeed, I too had been playing Bifur with Celeborn and Galadriel before I went with another Silvan (of which Argalad might be a good fit in a month time or so). But Unlikely Friendship really fits perfectly into the Silvan deck with Bifur.

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Hi, I see I'm late. Anyway, what I wanted to say: I've got mixed feelings about this.

By one hand, Cool! Exploring Harad and fighting in the streets (and keep losing progress), and sitting in the desert while the temperature goes up and you can't ready by numerous quest effects, and new trait mechanics, and side-quests=AWESOOOOOOOOME!

By another hand, another uncharted territory cycle? And those Were-Worms are nasty but weird...

P.S.: I've invented 2 side quests here.

1-Find Shadow

6

The sand begins to burn and it will be soon impossible to keep going.

Forced:At the end of the round, increase the Temperature by 2.

Response: After Find Shadow is defeated, reduce the Temperature by 4.

2-Surrounded!

4

The guards are everywhere. You must seek to confront them if you want to accomplish your goal.

Doomed 3. Surge.

Forced:At the end of the Staging step, each player must either search the encounter deck and discard pile for an enemy and reveal it, or remove 3 progress from each Quest Card in play.

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If the blue wizards were added to the game they should be enemies of our forces.

 

 

Oooh I like that idea.  The article does say our heroes will have a twist which makes us question our beliefs.  Our belief that Wizards are the allies of the Free Peoples, perhaps?

 

 

 

 

 

The 'Free Peoples' is a loose, catch-all term in the books that doesn't include subjugated or maginalised cultures like the Dunlending Hillmen and Wose people, both of whom have legitimate grievances against the Rohirrhim who stole and/or encroached on their lands. It doesn't include the men of the east and south who Gondor warred with even through the long years of Sauron's absence (and after his demise). The War of the Ring is a more complicated affair than simply Evil trying to destroy Good.

 

 

Instead of breeding orcs or gathering non-Free Men to his side, Gandalf makes himself a presence in the two most powerful courts in the western lands, with a very cunning plan to put some random Ranger on the throne of Gondor (despite being a cool guy, Aragorn's claim is not that strong). Not only that, he had Faramir the "wizard's pupil" around as a backup! Ignoring any questions of morality, the aims of Gandalf and Saruman are fundamentally the same. They seek power, because their rivals seek power, which must be matched. It is the nature of their kind.

 

The blue wizards went into the east. In all likelihood based on the text of the Lord of the Rings (as a rule I don't care what an author intended to write, only what they actually wrote), they gathered to themselves forces by whatever methods they found appropriate, came to war with Sauron (and almost inevitably each other), and were probably destroyed or driven into ruin. The numbers of Men from those lands that Sauron is able to muster against Gondor and Dale suggests there is no significant resistance there.

 

Alternatively they went the way of Radagast and stopped caring entirely. But that would be boring.

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Harad! Great stuff.

I like the story continuing exactly where the last one left you.

And my quess is that the temperature will be is Celsius.

All the world uses Celsius, except the USA as far as I know.

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Sauron and Gandalf are both Maiar that raise armies and vie for dominance over Middle Earth. Saruman is not unique in the books.

Sauron is neither an Istari nor an emissary from the West and is not relevant to the Istari at all.  Gandalf's entire army-raising career consists of getting relief forces to Helm's Deep in time to save the day -- the Huorns and Rohirrim in question did not serve or answer to Gandalf and only in the case of the Rohirrim did Gandalf take an active part in gathering them.  Gandalf had no permanent power base of any kind, and turned down the Ring vehemently because he feared the power increase that came with it.  He's a spectacularly poor example of an invented general rule that Maiar will raise armies and vie for dominance.

 

Further there's two other (likely) Maiar appearing within the pages of the text.  Durin's Bane seems to have put no effort into raising armies and vying for dominance, his very existence in Moria is not known.  Tom Bombadil is likely Maia, and is less likely to raise an army and seek dominance over Middle Earth than literally every other sentient creature in it.

 

Saruman's behavior is unique among the three Istari in the book, and even though Tolkien thought the other two wizards probably failed (at least earlier in his life, later he changed his mind dramatically), he thought they "undoubtedly" failed in a different manner to Saruman.

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That side quest just seems to buff Mono Leadership Gondor decks. Suddenly they can include cards like the Rangers, Warden of Healing, Honour Guard, Defender of Rammas, Damrod, Master Ironsmith, etc.

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If the blue wizards were added to the game they should be enemies of our forces.

 

 

Oooh I like that idea.  The article does say our heroes will have a twist which makes us question our beliefs.  Our belief that Wizards are the allies of the Free Peoples, perhaps?

 

 

 

 

 

The 'Free Peoples' is a loose, catch-all term in the books that doesn't include subjugated or maginalised cultures like the Dunlending Hillmen and Wose people, both of whom have legitimate grievances against the Rohirrhim who stole and/or encroached on their lands. It doesn't include the men of the east and south who Gondor warred with even through the long years of Sauron's absence (and after his demise). The War of the Ring is a more complicated affair than simply Evil trying to destroy Good.

 

 

Instead of breeding orcs or gathering non-Free Men to his side, Gandalf makes himself a presence in the two most powerful courts in the western lands, with a very cunning plan to put some random Ranger on the throne of Gondor (despite being a cool guy, Aragorn's claim is not that strong). Not only that, he had Faramir the "wizard's pupil" around as a backup! Ignoring any questions of morality, the aims of Gandalf and Saruman are fundamentally the same. They seek power, because their rivals seek power, which must be matched. It is the nature of their kind.

 

The blue wizards went into the east. In all likelihood based on the text of the Lord of the Rings (as a rule I don't care what an author intended to write, only what they actually wrote), they gathered to themselves forces by whatever methods they found appropriate, came to war with Sauron (and almost inevitably each other), and were probably destroyed or driven into ruin. The numbers of Men from those lands that Sauron is able to muster against Gondor and Dale suggests there is no significant resistance there.

 

Alternatively they went the way of Radagast and stopped caring entirely. But that would be boring.

 

 

Christopher Tolkien has pointed out (and rightfully so, in my opinion) that considering Radagast was sent by Yavanna, specifically, it's entirely possible that he simply had some other mission specifically to care for animals and plants.  To others who were more focused on opposing Sauron this may have seemed a failure (satisfying J.R.R.'s own writings on the subject of the wizards), while still allowing Radagast to have had some degree of success in serving the Valar (can you imagine Yavanna thinking Radagast a failure because he cared too much about flora and fauna?!)

 

As for the Blues in the East, I notice that maps show a LOT of land East of Mordor!  Rhun itself appears at least as big as Gondor, and there are more lands further out!  It seems to me perfectly plausible that the population could be high enough for there to be some small, rebellious factions and STILL have enough troops to send to Sauron (just think how many troops would have been sent without those factions!)  In one of his writings, Tolkien mentioned the Blues possibly having founded "magic cults", so I imagine a much smaller organization than Saruman's great armies.  Maybe we could encounter enemies like "Sorcerous Apprentice" or something, alluding to the Blues without actually naming them.

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Sauron and Gandalf are both Maiar that raise armies and vie for dominance over Middle Earth. Saruman is not unique in the books.

Sauron is neither an Istari nor an emissary from the West and is not relevant to the Istari at all.  Gandalf's entire army-raising career consists of getting relief forces to Helm's Deep in time to save the day -- the Huorns and Rohirrim in question did not serve or answer to Gandalf and only in the case of the Rohirrim did Gandalf take an active part in gathering them.  Gandalf had no permanent power base of any kind, and turned down the Ring vehemently because he feared the power increase that came with it.  He's a spectacularly poor example of an invented general rule that Maiar will raise armies and vie for dominance.

 

Further there's two other (likely) Maiar appearing within the pages of the text.  Durin's Bane seems to have put no effort into raising armies and vying for dominance, his very existence in Moria is not known.  Tom Bombadil is likely Maia, and is less likely to raise an army and seek dominance over Middle Earth than literally every other sentient creature in it.

 

Saruman's behavior is unique among the three Istari in the book, and even though Tolkien thought the other two wizards probably failed (at least earlier in his life, later he changed his mind dramatically), he thought they "undoubtedly" failed in a different manner to Saruman.

 

 

The Istari as a small group of assembled Maiar. They are not unique beings. Sauron is maiar. 

 

Durin's Bane clearly commands the orcs of Moria in some fashion.

 

 

Gandalf's lack of a "permanent power base" is irrelevant. The way in which he assembles his armies and allies is different to Saruman and Sauron, but he assembles them none the less. He has significant history of "advising" (or meddling) in the courts of Rohan and Gondor, and a place at Elrond's right hand. The return of the king is long-planned, with the heirs of Arnor kept safe and various legends spread in Minas Tirith ("the hands of the king are hands of a healer"... in that he knows basic elven remedies. Elladan and Elrohir help in the Houses of Healing only after dark, once Aragorn's public displays have been witnessed).

 

 

Even Peter Jackson grasped that the actions of Gandalf are not entirely benevolent (though his opposition to much worse beings makes them usually appear so). He is sent to stop Sauron, and works tirelessly to that end. 

 

 

 

He turns down the Ring because he knows it is a trap, and would drive his will to terrible places. 

 

Put it this way, if Gandalf's aim was to not raise armies and crush his enemies, he did a spectacularly bad job of it.

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As for the Blues in the East, I notice that maps show a LOT of land East of Mordor!  Rhun itself appears at least as big as Gondor, and there are more lands further out!  It seems to me perfectly plausible that the population could be high enough for there to be some small, rebellious factions and STILL have enough troops to send to Sauron (just think how many troops would have been sent without those factions!)  In one of his writings, Tolkien mentioned the Blues possibly having founded "magic cults", so I imagine a much smaller organization than Saruman's great armies.  Maybe we could encounter enemies like "Sorcerous Apprentice" or something, alluding to the Blues without actually naming them.

 

 

 

Possibly, but bear in mind that Aragorn and Eomer subjugate all those lands with relative and brutal ease following the destruction of Sauron. If they are populous enough that they could fight the War of the Ring as only one front, that sort of thing shouldn't be possible. 

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The 'Free Peoples' is a loose, catch-all term in the books that doesn't include subjugated or maginalised cultures like the Dunlending Hillmen and Wose people, both of whom have legitimate grievances against the Rohirrhim who stole and/or encroached on their lands. It doesn't include the men of the east and south who Gondor warred with even through the long years of Sauron's absence (and after his demise). The War of the Ring is a more complicated affair than simply Evil trying to destroy Good.

 

 

Instead of breeding orcs or gathering non-Free Men to his side, Gandalf makes himself a presence in the two most powerful courts in the western lands, with a very cunning plan to put some random Ranger on the throne of Gondor (despite being a cool guy, Aragorn's claim is not that strong). Not only that, he had Faramir the "wizard's pupil" around as a backup! Ignoring any questions of morality, the aims of Gandalf and Saruman are fundamentally the same. They seek power, because their rivals seek power, which must be matched. It is the nature of their kind.

 

The blue wizards went into the east. In all likelihood based on the text of the Lord of the Rings (as a rule I don't care what an author intended to write, only what they actually wrote), they gathered to themselves forces by whatever methods they found appropriate, came to war with Sauron (and almost inevitably each other), and were probably destroyed or driven into ruin. The numbers of Men from those lands that Sauron is able to muster against Gondor and Dale suggests there is no significant resistance there.

 

Alternatively they went the way of Radagast and stopped caring entirely. But that would be boring.

If you confine yourself to the text of the Lord of the Rings (even including the appendices), you can't say that the blue wizards went into the East, nor even that they failed.  All that information is found only in writings outside the text, which you are apparently classifying as "what an author intended to write" instead of "what they actually wrote", despite the fact that the author did actually wrote it.  And the *most recent* writings on the subject of the two missing wizards by Tolkien indicated that they did not fail -- and also says their success is in reducing the number of men from those lands who marched against the West.  While Southrons and Easterlings were in large supply, they did not have enough men to conquer either Gondor or Dale.  Considering that on the map we have Rhun is much larger than Gondor and unbounded to the East, while Near Harad alone is of comparable size to Gondor and is known to extend far enough into the south to make the stars strange, there's no reason from the text to suppose Tolkien's late writings in this regard cannot be incorrect.

 

The Wose had a legitimate complaint against the Rohirrim, but appeared to have voluntarily withdrawn to Druadan rather than being dispossessed by Rohirrim -- they had no clue where the Pukel men were from.  In the event the Wose aligned themselves with the Free Peoples and rendered valuable service.

 

The Dunlending have more longstanding complaints against Rohan, and in the reign of Aldor the Old he "drove out or subdued the last of the Dunlendish people that lingered East of Isen."  Folcwine is credited with "reconquered the west-march (between Adorn and Isen) that Dunlendings had occupied", the implication being that the Rohirrim had occupied it before.  In the war with Saruman, the Dunlendings came from west of the Isen, had not lived on Rohan's lands for at least 100 years, and from their false beliefs about how Rohirrim treated their enemies, it's clear that generation had no experience with the behavior of Rohan's warriors.

 

Before we get too misty-eyed about the poor Dunlendings forced off their land by the land-hungry Rohirrim, it's important to remember that Rohan was given their land not by right of conquest or colonization, but by grant from Gondor, the previous owner of the lands.  They were granted the land between Anduin and Isen (this would not include the west-march, but the appendices give no indication when this might have been originally conquered, nor by whom).  Gondor specifically granted it because it had been largely depopulated.  "The people of that region had become few since the Plague, and most of those that remained had been slaughtered by the savage Easterlings."  The Dunlending center seemed to be (naturally enough) Dunland, and if their ancestral home was actual Rohan, it would be Gondor doing the dispossessing.  But Gondor's original borders included Dunland as well, making the Dunlendings subjects in either location, and there is no textual support for Gondor forcibly dispossessing either people.  Now in the canon of our game, the Dunlendings have been victimized by the free peoples, but that is FFG's addition, not something from the text itself.  In the text the wild men were amazed at the mercy of victorious Rohan and apparently were happy to take an oath preventing future bad behavior.

 

What about the men of the south and east warring with Gondor even in Sauron's absence or destruction?  Sauron's "absence" did not amount to inactivity, and the implication in the appendices is that the malice of Sauron was behind the attacks from East, South, and also North.  As it says in Appendix A, "It was in the reign of Araphant in the North and of Ondoher son of Calimehtar in the South that the two kingdoms again took counsel together after long silence and estrangement.  For at last they perceived that some single power and will was directing the assault from many quarters upon the survivors of Numenor."  It also says that the invasion of the wainriders was "Stirred up, as was afterwards seen, by the emissaries of Sauron."

 

Gondor did expand both south and east, so that at its peak it extend to the sea of Rhun in the east and to Umbar in the south.  The wars with the east seem all to have been initiated by Easterling attacks, while the expansion south was driven by the ancient feud with the Black Numenoreans of Umbar.

 

What about Gandalf's cunning plan to put Aragorn on the throne of Gondor, despite his questionable (descendant from an already-rejected claimant) claim?  Doesn't that show that he sought power, even though in the event Aragorn only reached the throne of Gondor *after* Gandalf's great labor of toppling Sauron had been accomplished?  For starters, we'd have to show that it was Gandalf's cunning plan, that he actually took steps to accomplish the cunning plan, and that he would derive substantial power from it being accomplished.  Trouble is, it was never Gandalf's plan in the first place.  It was Elrond's plan.  After Arwen had chosen Aragorn, Elrond made clear to his future son-in-law that "she shall not be the bride of any Man less than the King of both Gondor and Arnor."  For his part, Aragorn seems to have had no intention of actually becoming king prior to the fall of Sauron.  After gaining great acclaim and influence as Thorongil, he left town rather than claim the throne from a steward who loved him very much, and even after displaying his standard he was loath to even enter the city.  For his part, Gandalf aided Aragorn's plan chiefly by working hard at the overthrow-of-Sauron thing, while using Aragorn to accomplish dangerous and thankless tasks with no direct connection to obtaining royalty.

 

What about hanging about the two most powerful courts (presumably Rohan and Gondor)?  The text makes clear that in both places he only appeared in time of trouble, was frequently unappreciated, and certainly doesn't seem to have spent any effort in flattering the powers that be.  Cultivating Faramir, that "wizard's pupil" as a backup plan to Aragorn's kingship also fails on textual grounds -- in Faramir's account, "I first saw [Gandalf] when I was a child, and he has been twice or thrice since then."  Faramir is a huge fan and calls him, accurately, "a great mover of the deeds that are done in our time" and says "I learned a little of him, when he would teach (and that was seldom)."  So a maximum of four contacts and only grudging instruction?  That's a miserable excuse for a power-seizing plan involving a man who was not in line to be the next Steward anyway.  Faramir is around 36 at the time, so Gandalf is showing up at the most powerful court in middle earth about once per decade.  A slim reed indeed to rest claims that Gandalf is just seeking power in a different way than Saruman, let alone to claim on that limited sample that it is "the nature of their kind"!

 

Since both Tolkien's early writings and later writings about the blue wizards are extra-canonical, you are free to prefer the earlier writings and even interpret it along your conception of how Maiar inevitably behave, except for Radagast.  However, I cannot adopt your view of Maiar and reconcile it with the text of the LOTR, and I find Tolkien's latest conception of the wizards to be consistent with the text of LOTR, more definite than his early writings considering their fate, more interesting, and more likely to produce amazing content for this game.  I think it's a shame that the wider propagation of his earlier writings on the wizards will likely preclude that from happening.  As always, YMMV.

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Sauron and Gandalf are both Maiar that raise armies and vie for dominance over Middle Earth. Saruman is not unique in the books.

Sauron is neither an Istari nor an emissary from the West and is not relevant to the Istari at all.  Gandalf's entire army-raising career consists of getting relief forces to Helm's Deep in time to save the day -- the Huorns and Rohirrim in question did not serve or answer to Gandalf and only in the case of the Rohirrim did Gandalf take an active part in gathering them.  Gandalf had no permanent power base of any kind, and turned down the Ring vehemently because he feared the power increase that came with it.  He's a spectacularly poor example of an invented general rule that Maiar will raise armies and vie for dominance.

 

Further there's two other (likely) Maiar appearing within the pages of the text.  Durin's Bane seems to have put no effort into raising armies and vying for dominance, his very existence in Moria is not known.  Tom Bombadil is likely Maia, and is less likely to raise an army and seek dominance over Middle Earth than literally every other sentient creature in it.

 

Saruman's behavior is unique among the three Istari in the book, and even though Tolkien thought the other two wizards probably failed (at least earlier in his life, later he changed his mind dramatically), he thought they "undoubtedly" failed in a different manner to Saruman.

 

 

The Istari as a small group of assembled Maiar. They are not unique beings. Sauron is maiar. 

 

Durin's Bane clearly commands the orcs of Moria in some fashion.

 

 

Gandalf's lack of a "permanent power base" is irrelevant. The way in which he assembles his armies and allies is different to Saruman and Sauron, but he assembles them none the less. He has significant history of "advising" (or meddling) in the courts of Rohan and Gondor, and a place at Elrond's right hand. The return of the king is long-planned, with the heirs of Arnor kept safe and various legends spread in Minas Tirith ("the hands of the king are hands of a healer"... in that he knows basic elven remedies. Elladan and Elrohir help in the Houses of Healing only after dark, once Aragorn's public displays have been witnessed).

 

 

Even Peter Jackson grasped that the actions of Gandalf are not entirely benevolent (though his opposition to much worse beings makes them usually appear so). He is sent to stop Sauron, and works tirelessly to that end. 

 

 

 

He turns down the Ring because he knows it is a trap, and would drive his will to terrible places. 

 

Put it this way, if Gandalf's aim was to not raise armies and crush his enemies, he did a spectacularly bad job of it.

 

 

The Istari are Maiar, but they definitely seem uniquely equipped for their mission.  They seem to not just take forms of Men, but to actually be tied to their bodies in ways distinct from the other Maiar.

 

Durin's Bane commands the orcs of Moria, but it seems to be in more of a "you're the toughest guy around so we defer to you" kind of way, as opposed to a calculated plan to increase power.  From what I've read, it appears that the balrogs don't really have much ambition or plans of their own.  Without Morgoth to command them, they pretty much just stay where they are (Durin's Bane doesn't seem to have pursued the dwarves after they left Moria, nor does he appear to have ever really tried venturing outside its halls).

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As for the Blues in the East, I notice that maps show a LOT of land East of Mordor!  Rhun itself appears at least as big as Gondor, and there are more lands further out!  It seems to me perfectly plausible that the population could be high enough for there to be some small, rebellious factions and STILL have enough troops to send to Sauron (just think how many troops would have been sent without those factions!)  In one of his writings, Tolkien mentioned the Blues possibly having founded "magic cults", so I imagine a much smaller organization than Saruman's great armies.  Maybe we could encounter enemies like "Sorcerous Apprentice" or something, alluding to the Blues without actually naming them.

 

 

 

Possibly, but bear in mind that Aragorn and Eomer subjugate all those lands with relative and brutal ease following the destruction of Sauron. If they are populous enough that they could fight the War of the Ring as only one front, that sort of thing shouldn't be possible. 

 

Alternately, Aragorn and Eomer only have to suppress hostile realms, not fight a war to turn all Easterlings and Haradrim everywhere into slaves.  Here is the relevant passage:

 

"...Eomer took again the Oath of Eorl.  Often he fulfilled it.  For though Sauron had passed, the hatreds and evils that he bred had not died, and the King of the West had many enemies to subdue before the White Tree could grow in peace.  And wherever King Elessar went to war King Eomer went with him; and beyond the Sea of Rhun and on the far fields of the South the thunder of the cavalry of the Mark was heared, and the White Horse upon Green flew in many winds until Eomer grew old."

 

The repeated massive Easterling attacks into Gondor during the third age is strong evidence against the East being underpopulated.  I think it more likely that Professor Tolkien's late writings are correct, and a unified East and South would have inevitably overwhelmed the far inferior population of the North.

 

Given that this cycle is producing a corsair Hero and the next cycle is supposed to challenge our preconceptions about the Haradrim, I would not be surprised if FFG depicts the Haradrim as not completely unified or completely hostile to the Free Peoples.  We shall see.

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As for the Blues in the East, I notice that maps show a LOT of land East of Mordor!  Rhun itself appears at least as big as Gondor, and there are more lands further out!  It seems to me perfectly plausible that the population could be high enough for there to be some small, rebellious factions and STILL have enough troops to send to Sauron (just think how many troops would have been sent without those factions!)  In one of his writings, Tolkien mentioned the Blues possibly having founded "magic cults", so I imagine a much smaller organization than Saruman's great armies.  Maybe we could encounter enemies like "Sorcerous Apprentice" or something, alluding to the Blues without actually naming them.

 

 

 

Possibly, but bear in mind that Aragorn and Eomer subjugate all those lands with relative and brutal ease following the destruction of Sauron. If they are populous enough that they could fight the War of the Ring as only one front, that sort of thing shouldn't be possible. 

 

Alternately, Aragorn and Eomer only have to suppress hostile realms, not fight a war to turn all Easterlings and Haradrim everywhere into slaves.  Here is the relevant passage:

 

"...Eomer took again the Oath of Eorl.  Often he fulfilled it.  For though Sauron had passed, the hatreds and evils that he bred had not died, and the King of the West had many enemies to subdue before the White Tree could grow in peace.  And wherever King Elessar went to war King Eomer went with him; and beyond the Sea of Rhun and on the far fields of the South the thunder of the cavalry of the Mark was heared, and the White Horse upon Green flew in many winds until Eomer grew old."

 

The repeated massive Easterling attacks into Gondor during the third age is strong evidence against the East being underpopulated.  I think it more likely that Professor Tolkien's late writings are correct, and a unified East and South would have inevitably overwhelmed the far inferior population of the North.

 

Given that this cycle is producing a corsair Hero and the next cycle is supposed to challenge our preconceptions about the Haradrim, I would not be surprised if FFG depicts the Haradrim as not completely unified or completely hostile to the Free Peoples.  We shall see.

 

 

It's also possible that after the destruction of Sauron the power vacuum leads to further fracturing and infighting, allowing Aragorn and Eomer to possibly even ally with some groups in getting rid of the troublesome elements.

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Um, it's because I'm probably bad, but that quest... well, how to put it - after a couple of rounds it will be pointless, and I don't think you would be able even consistenlty draw it, not to mention clearing it.

 

Aside from it, great news, everyone! Wee!

That sidequest will work much better in 4-player games. Between 4 players, considering mulligans, you can expect to draw that card asap more consistently. Add Heed the dream and gather information for more consistence

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The Istari as a small group of assembled Maiar. They are not unique beings. Sauron is maiar. 

 

Durin's Bane clearly commands the orcs of Moria in some fashion.

 

 

Gandalf's lack of a "permanent power base" is irrelevant. The way in which he assembles his armies and allies is different to Saruman and Sauron, but he assembles them none the less. He has significant history of "advising" (or meddling) in the courts of Rohan and Gondor, and a place at Elrond's right hand. The return of the king is long-planned, with the heirs of Arnor kept safe and various legends spread in Minas Tirith ("the hands of the king are hands of a healer"... in that he knows basic elven remedies. Elladan and Elrohir help in the Houses of Healing only after dark, once Aragorn's public displays have been witnessed).

 

 

Even Peter Jackson grasped that the actions of Gandalf are not entirely benevolent (though his opposition to much worse beings makes them usually appear so). He is sent to stop Sauron, and works tirelessly to that end. 

 

 

 

He turns down the Ring because he knows it is a trap, and would drive his will to terrible places. 

 

Put it this way, if Gandalf's aim was to not raise armies and crush his enemies, he did a spectacularly bad job of it.

 

Yes, the Istari are a specially selected group of Maiar, chosen by the Valar, given bodies, and sent to middle earth to oppose Sauron.  Sauron is also a Maiar.  All the Istari are from a group of Maiar serving the Valar, of which only one (Saruman) is known to have sought personal dominance over middle earth.  Sauron is the most prominent of a group of Maiar serving Melkor, of which only one (Sauron) is known to have sought personal dominance over middle earth.  Bombadil also appears to be a Maiar never in active service to the Valar or Melkor, and while Bombadil is a pretty unique fellow, he's not alone in that description either (Melian also fits).  Neither he nor Melian ever sought personal dominance over middle earth.  Your general rule has a startling lack of examples.

 

Durin's Bane is clearly deferred to by the orcs of Moria (with good reason), but it is not clear that he orders them in any fashion, or had any hand in assembling them.  Durin's Bane was hiding out when the dwarves uncovered him, very far from seeking dominance.  Once in possession of Moria, he did nothing with it as far as we can tell.  The Dwarf/Goblin war was orchestrated by Azog, who the orcs of Moria clearly *did* take orders from, and in the Hobbit the Goblins take orders from the Great Goblin and Bolg, respectively.  There's no textual evidence that any of the Misty Mountains goblins outside of their range are operating under orders from Durin's Bane, nor does he do anything to expand Moria's influence during the many centuries he was unopposed there.

 

Gandalf's lack of a permanent power base shows that he is not in any way seeking (or achieving) personal dominance, as Faramir perceived, he is a mover of others and his power is largely confined to that.  Others assemble and command the armies, others acquire power as a result of Gandalf's meddling and have the freedom of action to use it how they will.  It's not just a different style than Saruman's approach, it's a different thing all together, and the goal is simply and solely the overthrow of Sauron.  The only time his power is actually augmented is when he is returned to life as Gandalf the White, and that was not a turn of events Gandalf either sought or anticipated.

 

His "significant history" in the courts of Rohan and Gondor in the text amount to a maximum of four visits during Faramir's lifetime to Gondor prior to the War of the Ring, neither seeking nor gaining influence from Denethor, and at least one visit to Theoden's court prior to the War of the Ring, the last obtaining Shadowfax but incurring ill will from the King.

 

In the council of Elrond, it is Elrond who conducts and presides, and Elrond who accepts Frodo as the ringbearer and charges him.  Elrond defers to Gandalf only in the selection of Merry and Pippin for the fellowship, but it is again Elrond ultimately making the decision.  Gandalf and Glorfindel flank Elrond at the dinner, but from the text I think it more likely that Glorfindel is on the right -- not that it amounts in the least to either seeking or receiving power.  Elrond was one person who needed no moving to oppose the designs of Sauron.

 

The protection of heirs of Arnor and the long-planned Return of the King are intimately connected with Elrond, not Gandalf.  It is Elrond who protects and houses the heirs, it is Elrond who tells him his heritage and give shim the ring of Barahir and the shards of Narsil.  It is Elrond who gives Aragorn the charge to become king of Gondor and Arnor.  Gandalf's specific involvement in the return of the king, aside from endangering Aragorn's life in difficult and largely unpublicized tasks, is constricted to finding a shoot of the White Tree.  Denethor's paranoia is ill-founded.

 

There's no evidence that Gandalf or anyone in Arnor had anything to do with inventing or spreading the "hands of the healer" legend.  Ioreth was wishing for a King of Gondor, not Arnor, and there's no reason to suppose it originates from anything other than the healing capabilites of long-ago kings of Gondor.  The lore master's doggerel about Athelas also mentions the king's hand.

 

Nor is there much of a contrast between Aragorn and the brothers in the healing department.  Aragorn had already put on some dramatic "public displays", what with winning two battles, saving the day, and displaying the royal banner.  But he went to the house of healing *at night*, cloaked and bearing no token other than his elf-stone, explicitly saying that he is only entering because Gandalf begged him to, and only as Captain of the Dunedain of Arnor.  Gandalf repeats Ioreth's saying, but the audience is Eomer, Imrahil, and Aragorn, all well aware of Aragorn's claim and already accepting it.  In the presence of Ioreth and the lore master, Aragorn does not identify himself and is called "your lordship" and "a captain of war".  Ioreth doesn't realize who it is until the awakened Faramir spills the beans by calling him King -- and Ioreth being Ioreth, it quickly gets around.  After his initial praise of Ioreth, Gandalf takes no hand at all in identifying or publicizing Aragorn's true identity.  For his part, Aragorn sends word to the brothers to come help him, laboring into the night, and leaving under cloak of darkness.  With his banner furled, the good citizens of Minas Tirith "wondered if the coming of the King had been but a dream."

 

If Peter Jackson perceived that Gandalf's actions or motivations were not selfless or benevolent, that's hardly evidence that it was true.  Jackson did extreme violence to the characters of LOTR at his whim.  What he did to Faramir was appalling.

 

Yes, the ring was a trap, and Gandalf wisely feared -- as did Elrond at the council and Galadriel when freely offered the ring.  But if your motivation is "dominance over middle earth", the ring is *not* a trap.  It would accomplish exactly that in the hand of the powerful.  But dominance was not sought or desired by Gandalf, who pitied the slaves of Sauron.  He laid out his motivations clearly to Denethor, even though that paranoid worthy didn't believe him.  "Unless the king should come again?  Well, my lord Steward, it is your task to keep some kingdom still against that event, which few now look to see.  In that task you shall have all the aid that you are pleased to ask for.  But I will say this:  the rule of no realm is mine, neither of Gondor nor any other, great or small.  But all worthy things that are in peril as the world now stands, those are my care.  And for my part, I shall not wholly fail of my task, though Gondor should perish, if anything passes through this night that can still grow fair or bear fruit and flower again in days to come.  For I also am a steward.  Did you not know?"

 

Gandalf did not raise or lead armies himself, though he aided others in doing so.  But that was not his goal, and he could succeed at his goal without crushing his enemies.  Indeed, he knew there was no hope at all of crushing his enemies.  He made that abundantly clear in the last debate.

 

"Victory cannot be achieved by arms, whether you sit here to endure siege after siege, or march out to be overwhelmed beyond the River."  Naturally he counsels them to march out to be overwhelmed beyond the River.  "We must walk open-eyed into that trap, with courage, but small hope for ourselves.  For my lords, it may well prove that we ourselves shall perish utterly in a black battle far from the living lands; so that even if Barad-dur be thrown down, we shall not live to see a new age.  But this, I deem, is our duty.  And better so than to perish nonetheless--as we surely shall, if we sit here--and know as we die that no new age shall be."

 

I find this utterly irreconcilable to a thesis that seeking power and dominance is just something that Maiar naturally do, except for Radagast.  And when Gandalf's designs were accomplish and Sauron was overthrown, with the rule of Gondor and Arnor committed to his good friend Aragorn, Gandalf retired from his labors, not even bothering to help the hobbits scour the shire, just marking the time until he could go home.

 

Motivation is in the eye of the beholder, so YMMV.  But in my eyes, your generalization about Maiar does Jackson-like violence to what I see in the text.

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Aragorn does what he's told his whole life, led by breadcrumbs of shiny swords, sceptres and ageless maidens. It's quite sad when you think about it.

It's difficult to feel sorry for someone who spends 120 years as the richest, most powerful man in middle earth while married to one of the three most beautiful elves ever.

 

In the interest of nit-picking, I'd point out that Aragorn was warned against using the Stone of Orthanc, but did it anyway.

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Finally, if your weakened and wearied heroes can successfully traverse the desert, they will only find themselves confronted by a band of skilled Haradrim warriors. And this, of course, leads to a climactic confrontation with the Dark Lord's minions—but with a twist that may have your heroes questioning their long-held beliefs.

 

My guess the twist is that the Harad are being tortured and forced to do the dark lords bidding in some way or another. I was wondering how they'd get this cycle by the PC people, and I think I found it.

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I foresee much of my future ire directed toward this card.

 

mec55-sandstorm.png

 

What intrigues me about this card is a harad-looking guy getting hurt, while the card is supposed to hurt players. Harad allies confirmed?

Edited by John Constantine

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I foresee much of my future ire directed toward this card.

 

mec55-sandstorm.png

 

What intrigues me about this card is a hard-looking guy getting hurt, while the card is supposed to hurt players. Harad allies confirmed?

 

 

Maybe an Objective-Ally?  Some sort of local guide?  (It would make sense, considering how incredibly foolhardy it would be to cross a desert without some sort of guide)

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