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John Constantine

Beneath the Sands

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I am not claiming I have ever been very good at picking power of cards. On the contrary, many times I have misunderstood. However, I think I have understood the value of global boosters. For instance I knew Lords of Eldar would be extremely powerful in a right deck, in fact a maker of a Noldor discard deck, despite the general lukewarm reaction from the small community. I feel absolutely certain that The Free Peoples has a great potential in any ally heavy deck, not devoted to a particular nation. Not that Gandalf/Vilya deck needs much help, but it will be an absolute winner there, more so with the potential of playing it via Vilya.

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I am not claiming I have ever been very good at picking power of cards. On the contrary, many times I have misunderstood. However, I think I have understood the value of global boosters. For instance I knew Lords of Eldar would be extremely powerful in a right deck, in fact a maker of a Noldor discard deck, despite the general lukewarm reaction from the small community. I feel absolutely certain that The Free Peoples has a great potential in any ally heavy deck, not devoted to a particular nation. Not that Gandalf/Vilya deck needs much help, but it will be an absolute winner there, more so with the potential of playing it via Vilya.

Or a Caldara deck that doesn't care what traits is going in it. 5 resources to ready a huge army seems pretty good.

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I must add that in a lot of decks (mostly trait-based decks!), 9 different traits is not that achievable. For instance, playing my Gondor swarm deck (mono-ledership Faramir/Denethor/Boromir), I have Gondor, Steward, Noble, Ranger, Warrior, Healer (when I get those Wardens out with A Very Good Tale or the Herald), which cap me at 5 or 6 traits. I could certainly get 3 more traits out, should I tech the deck for it.

 

But that's the point. I don't deny the card is powerful, but it requires a bit of teching if planning to include it in most of the decks. And still, you have to provide the 5 resources + teching for an event you might not even draw, or have the resources to play

Edited by banania

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Yeah fair point. If memory serves correct he was somewhere in his 50's/60's when he became Steward so it is definitely possible that card depicts him before that happens. You are probably right as to why they included it but it just seems silly that all three don't have the Steward trait or preferably none of them do.

Well, if I was gifted with the divine power to change all cards on the earth by my sheer will, every version of Denethor would lose the Steward trait. They can't go back in time and remove Steward from Lore Denethor, so that's why they prolly felt obligated to include the Steward trait into his Lead version.

Edited by John Constantine

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Yeah I was trying to find a hero combination that would start with 9 traits out of the gate, but I couldn't figure one out.  You can get 8 without too much fuss.  If you are playing in a Saga scenario you'll have a Fellowship hero (or Baggins sphere Bilbo) which could put you over the top without playing any allies.

 

But at 8 traits, it wouldn't be difficult to achieve the 9th if you toss in an Ent, a Healer, or something like that.

A ringbearer alone adds another 2 traits hobbit and ring-bearer so as long as you aren't using hobbits that is.

Way easier to use in Saga quests/Campaign mode.

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It's a hefty requirement, a hefty cost, and a hefty event -- boosting willpower and readying *everyone* (not just your characters), is huge.  Yes, the setup requirements are substantial, but it's a late game card, and since it's neutral being able to afford it late game isn't that problematic.  If you have Steward of Gondor, that's one turn's resources.

 

Is it usable for thematic non-polyglot decks?  Probably not.  But then, the actual fellowship was explicitly and intentionally varied to represent the free peoples, so the title is certainly thematic.

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Eagles will be great for qualifying, because they all provide two traits (Creature, Eagle) that no hero has.  The last Eagles deck I played had TaTheoden/TaAragorn/Dori for six traits, and since it had 3x Honour Guard and a companion deck that was providing Steward of Gondor, getting to nine traits would be no problem.

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I feel absolutely certain that The Free Peoples has a great potential in any ally heavy deck, not devoted to a particular nation. Not that Gandalf/Vilya deck needs much help, but it will be an absolute winner there, more so with the potential of playing it via Vilya.

 

I'm pretty sure Vilya can ignore the requirement, anyway (since it's "Play only if..." rather than "Action: If...").

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I feel absolutely certain that The Free Peoples has a great potential in any ally heavy deck, not devoted to a particular nation. Not that Gandalf/Vilya deck needs much help, but it will be an absolute winner there, more so with the potential of playing it via Vilya.

 

I'm pretty sure Vilya can ignore the requirement, anyway (since it's "Play only if..." rather than "Action: If...").

Vilya "plays" all the events you try to use it for, so you can't get around the restriction this way. Source: that thread in the rules forum I should really save a bookmark for sometime.

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I must add that in a lot of decks (mostly trait-based decks!), 9 different traits is not that achievable. For instance, playing my Gondor swarm deck (mono-ledership Faramir/Denethor/Boromir), I have Gondor, Steward, Noble, Ranger, Warrior, Healer (when I get those Wardens out with A Very Good Tale or the Herald), which cap me at 5 or 6 traits. I could certainly get 3 more traits out, should I tech the deck for it.

 

But that's the point. I don't deny the card is powerful, but it requires a bit of teching if planning to include it in most of the decks. And still, you have to provide the 5 resources + teching for an event you might not even draw, or have the resources to play

Of course, this is a good summary. And also a nice thing to say about the design of the card. I dislike designs which always work. For Lords of the Eldar, you need mostly Noldor and some discard tool, for The Free Peoples you need a variety of traits: most of the "nation" decks will not work. The good thing for the play itself is, that you usually want this effect when there are more allies in play -- more characters get ready and get the boost -- which is when it is much easier to achieve the requirement.

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I feel absolutely certain that The Free Peoples has a great potential in any ally heavy deck, not devoted to a particular nation. Not that Gandalf/Vilya deck needs much help, but it will be an absolute winner there, more so with the potential of playing it via Vilya.

 

I'm pretty sure Vilya can ignore the requirement, anyway (since it's "Play only if..." rather than "Action: If...").

Vilya "plays" all the events you try to use it for, so you can't get around the restriction this way. Source: that thread in the rules forum I should really save a bookmark for sometime.

 

I only meant Vilya is good for it because you need not 5 resources.

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I feel absolutely certain that The Free Peoples has a great potential in any ally heavy deck, not devoted to a particular nation. Not that Gandalf/Vilya deck needs much help, but it will be an absolute winner there, more so with the potential of playing it via Vilya. 

I'm pretty sure Vilya can ignore the requirement, anyway (since it's "Play only if..." rather than "Action: If...").
Vilya "plays" all the events you try to use it for, so you can't get around the restriction this way. Source: that thread in the rules forum I should really save a bookmark for sometime.

I only meant Vilya is good for it because you need not 5 resources.

5 resources is the least restrictive requirement for playing this card.

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I'm excited about the focus on traits! It also pushes me out of my tribe building tendencies.

even if i'll never use these cards, i'm really loving that it's already forcing people into rethinking how they build decks to get 9 traits, or including an Elf and Dwarf, or Ranger and Warrior, or perhaps all of them in the same deck... what decks they currently have that would need to be reworked to include this card, for example, or new decks that could be designed.

if i were a developer and came up with this card, that would absolutely be the perfect response after spoiling this card i think. these cards, like a lot of cards that came out in Angmar Awakened, really open the design space for how you can build a deck.

it's a neutral card, but one that really can't fit that well into many existing decks, and every existing deck that meets its requirements did so incidentally. now, people have a specific reason and goal to try to gather as many traits as possible when building their deck.

i know the player card pool isn't as big as other card games because so many released cards are for enemy AI, but this game has been out for what? 5 years now, and it's completely changing how people look at building decks, and that is the hallmark of a great card that comes out this late in a game's cycle imo.

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On a slightly different note re: The Free People, it's just occurred to me that 'late game' cards have added value in the current trend in the game, because quests tend not to end easy and start hard anymore. I remember the early days of the game where you only really had to survive the first 2 rounds effectively to squash the quest, but now quests are usually balanced to either stay just as difficult or get more difficult as you flip through quest cards. So these 'late game' push cards are increasing in value. I may have to start including them more.

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The more I think about it the better the Free People seems.  Once the Sands of Harad comes out, how many people are going to make a Three Hunters deck using the new Gimli and Legolas? They already have five and then you get seven with Aragorn.  Throw in a Robin Smallburrow with Hobbit and Shirriff traits (if you have lore resources) and bam, 9 different traits with 4 characters!

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The Free Peoples will also be easier to play with all the quests that give you Objective Allies. Like those Dreamchaser quests where you are given allies with Corsair and Raider traits. 

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Yes, I started checking immediately. My Gandalf deck has 16 different traits and I do not think there ever was a game when I would not have nine by the end of it -- unless it was that typical first round scratch due to a fallen hero.

 

Robin and Denethor have the two special "status" traits (and I hope to see more of those at some point). But it is also easy to get a craftsman every now and then. Healer and Scout have got great boosts lately, whilst warrior and ranger and noble have been popular since the start.

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Not as crazy about the neutral event... 9 traits is actually quite a lot.... 

Even if all three heroes you run are different races lets say Noldor, Dwarf and Dunedain thats only three so far.

Lets say one of them is noble thats 4. Even if one is a ranger and another is a warrior thats still only 6. You may think it would be fairly easy to then get up to 9 with allies but the thing is the vast majority of allies are going to be the same trait as the heroes in a deck so for this example I've already given you would need something like a Rohan, Gondor and Ent ally in play alongside those heroes with the 6 traits. In the example FFG gave just Denethor and Elfhelm alone give you 6 traits but both of them have 3 each and there are not that many heroes that have 3 each the vast majority only have one or two. 

Any Dunedain Ranger bumps you up to 8, which means you need just 1 more trait from the beginning to go.

 

That's a good point. Mega unthematic deck though.... Gondorian Steward, Rohan warrior and a Dunedain ranger from the north.

 

 

You know the cardgame took a wrong turn when building a deck around the *actual* fellowship of the ring is considered unthematic. Which the designers obviously are trying to remedy in this cycle. We've already seen a couple of cross-trait cards and I'm getting the feeling that they'll try to push players out of the single-trait deckbuilding.

 

It's interesting that originally the game was designed around spheres and the idea that, like the book, different people would come together to stand against the darkness. Ever since we've had the Dwarves though, fans have requested all traits to be viable. I still think it's sad that 'thematic' is a term used to describe single-trait decks and 'unthematic' is used for cross-trait decks. Especially since a big part of the Lotr story is about characters from all walks of life overcoming their inward view and learning to respect each other and work together.

 

No matter how hard Caleb is going to try, the most thematic pairing in the game is Zigil Miner and Imladris Stargazer. These two interact in a way that feels exactly like Gimli and Legolas did in the books: they don't *need*  each other to work, yet together they achieve amazing things. #bestlovestoryinlotrlcg

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You know the cardgame took a wrong turn when building a deck around the *actual* fellowship of the ring is considered unthematic.

That's a failure of the players describing it thus rather than the game.

Edited by PocketWraith

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Well, one of the main problems stems from the synergy cards provide to certain traits. If I'm using Celeborn, I'm playing O Lorien. So then it makes sense to play a lot of Silvan. All of the tribes have this synergy, making these tribal decks common. Hirluin, Spirit Theoden, Dain, Leadership Boromir, Ally Treebeard, etc. You're not optimizing your deck by paying for allies without matching tribal traits. Maybe if there were cost reducers for Warriors, Rangers, Scouts, Healers, etc, we could make these multi trait tribal decks without sacrificing efficiency. Just a thought.

Edited by webslinger9

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Not as crazy about the neutral event... 9 traits is actually quite a lot....

Even if all three heroes you run are different races lets say Noldor, Dwarf and Dunedain thats only three so far.

Lets say one of them is noble thats 4. Even if one is a ranger and another is a warrior thats still only 6. You may think it would be fairly easy to then get up to 9 with allies but the thing is the vast majority of allies are going to be the same trait as the heroes in a deck so for this example I've already given you would need something like a Rohan, Gondor and Ent ally in play alongside those heroes with the 6 traits. In the example FFG gave just Denethor and Elfhelm alone give you 6 traits but both of them have 3 each and there are not that many heroes that have 3 each the vast majority only have one or two.

Any Dunedain Ranger bumps you up to 8, which means you need just 1 more trait from the beginning to go.

That's a good point. Mega unthematic deck though.... Gondorian Steward, Rohan warrior and a Dunedain ranger from the north.

You know the cardgame took a wrong turn when building a deck around the *actual* fellowship of the ring is considered unthematic. Which the designers obviously are trying to remedy in this cycle. We've already seen a couple of cross-trait cards and I'm getting the feeling that they'll try to push players out of the single-trait deckbuilding.

It's interesting that originally the game was designed around spheres and the idea that, like the book, different people would come together to stand against the darkness. Ever since we've had the Dwarves though, fans have requested all traits to be viable. I still think it's sad that 'thematic' is a term used to describe single-trait decks and 'unthematic' is used for cross-trait decks. Especially since a big part of the Lotr story is about characters from all walks of life overcoming their inward view and learning to respect each other and work together.

No matter how hard Caleb is going to try, the most thematic pairing in the game is Zigil Miner and Imladris Stargazer. These two interact in a way that feels exactly like Gimli and Legolas did in the books: they don't *need* each other to work, yet together they achieve amazing things. #bestlovestoryinlotrlcg

There was no Steward of Gondor nor anyone from Rohan in the fellowship.

I actually disagree quite strongly on this point.

There are definitely combinations that are thematic but just throwing together some heroes and saying its thematic because all the free peoples had to unite to stand against the darkness to me is really silly.

There was one fellowship.... not multiple ones.. there was ONE group of diverse characters that set out as the fellowship.

Dwarf and Elf relations continued to be pretty absymal in the third age (Gimli and Legolas are the only exception to this).

Denethor doesn't even except that help will come when the beacons are lit. The dunedain act secretly and on their own in the shadows to protect the people of the Shire, Bree and the surrounding areas.

Remember the LAST alliance of Elves and Men, it was exactly that a last alliance where they marched together. We do not see that in the Third Age outside of Legoland and Gimli. Contrary to Peter Jackson's nonsense there were no Elves at Helms Deep.

Yes part of the story is about a group of characters from a diverse range of backgrounds and races coming together to form a fellowship but other than the fellowship itself most of the races and groups of people in middle earth are actually quite wary and/or dismissive of other races. Hell the people of Bree and surrounding areas are mistrustful and scared of the Dunedain Rangers which are the only thing keeping them safe.

So yes a fellowship line-up is thematic, yes a three hunters deck is thematic. Merry pippin and treebeard is thematic. Hell you could even say that Rohan and Treebeard (and Ent allies and whatnot) are thematic when playing the Isengard Saga Box as the Ents and Huorns destroyed the fleeing uruk-hai after Helm's deep and assaulted Orthanc. They don't actually fight alongside each other but do have a common foe and both fought great battles in Rohan at the same time. A Gandalf deck heavy on eagles you could call thematic considering his connection and friendship with them. Also cross trait decks can be thematic too so long as it is people that actually did work together in some way. A Dunedain/Noldor mix is thematic. As is a Silvan/Noldor mix, a Rohan/Gondor mix or even Dwarf/Hobbit can be considered thematic.

Throwing Boromir, Galadriel and Hama in a deck that has Ent and Eagle allies because they all work well together and it is a strong no nonsense deck is all well and fine. But it is not a thematic deck by any stretch of the imagination. None of these characters fought together or were even in the same place very long or at all.

Also just to be clear I'm not saying people SHOULD play thematic decks people can use whatever they want in this game which is part of why its so amazing. A hero line up or decks are not thematic just because a diverse group of characters are included though.

Also if you hunt around on the forums you would realise that it seems to be fairly accepted that the ultimate thematic way to play the game is to play campaign mode using only characters that were actually part of each scenario/quest and changing the line up following this rule as you go. These are decks built around the fellowship so your statement that decks built around the actual fellowship are considered unthematic is literally the opposite of the actual truth. Nothing is more thematic than a fellowship deck.

That is the actual fellowship however.... Your own version of the fellowship with Na'aisayah, Theoden, Erestor, Halbarad and Long dead Bard the Bowman/Dwalin is definitely not thematic just because it is a large group of peoples and traits coming together/fighting together.

Does it matter if your decks are unthematic though? Those who are actual sticklers for this and/or tolkien enthusiasts that want to use thematic decks will do so. Those who do not care so much will not.

Edited by PsychoRocka

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The more I think about it the better the Free People seems.  Once the Sands of Harad comes out, how many people are going to make a Three Hunters deck using the new Gimli and Legolas? They already have five and then you get seven with Aragorn.  Throw in a Robin Smallburrow with Hobbit and Shirriff traits (if you have lore resources) and bam, 9 different traits with 4 characters!

Definitely depends on what versions of Legolas, Gimli and Aragorn you are running. 

Tactigorn, Tactics Legolas and Leadership Gimli only have Dunedain, Ranger, Warrior, Noble, Silvan, Dwarf so only six instead of seven (no scout on tactics Legolas). 

Edited by PsychoRocka

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