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1 hour ago, Amicus Draconis said:

Some thoughts I have on this topic:

Ressources are scarce in Lore, so I do not like to pay for Glorfindel's weak healing ability. Granted, it is available from the start, but there is no synergy at all. Given that Lore excels in card draw and Glorfindel is a Noldor hero, I would suggest the following ability: Action: Discard a card from your hand to heal 2 damage on any characer. (Limit once per round)

This way it is usually cheaper in Lore to pay for the action and he will later form a pair with the Imladris Caregiver, just as Beravor and Gléowine do in the core set.

As the waters of the Nimrodel are said to be "healing to the weary", she could be used to also ready another character, probably without healing in the process, something like: Action: Exhaust Daughter of the Nimrodel to either heal up to 2 damage on any 1 character or ready any 1 character. On second thought, this would turn her into an Unexpected Courage in ally form and easier to pull off than Spare Hood and Cloak plus Long Lake Trader. Still, being able to target allies would help this card. I try to figure something out tomorrow.

While Self-preservation more implies damage avoidance for me, there hardly is a difference between cancelling damage and healing it, as long as there are enough hitpoints to spare. At least this attachment heals for more than the Raven-winged Helm can cancel and it is available to non-Sentinels as well. But if you reduce the cost or give some extra hitpoints, then the Helm surely needs a buff as well, as Honour Guard by far is the better option.

I am surprised to not see Dark Knowledge on the list. I usually do not bother at all with this card, as Burning Brand just cancels most shadow effects (and as long as there is no new FAQ out, I will ignore its exhaustion). The debuff for willpower usually is not a problem, as not every hero will be questing. At least it is cheaper than Silver Lamp and does not require a certain sphere icon or readiness. Though I do not have an idea for now to improve this card.

Glorfindel doesn't have synergy with the Noldor discard-from-hand archetype, true. I considered moving in that direction, but I also realized that there is a whole noldor sub- archetype based around spending resources for abilities: Glorfindel, Elladan, Elrohir, Gildor Inglorion. Hero Arwen also happens to synergize with both archetypes. So I aimed at trying to make spending the resource more worthwhile. In my own playtesting, I have really enjoyed the stat boost.

I'll probably boost raven wing helm if we ever get to that cycle. (I hope to,  because I want to fix Dori, too) The simplest fix is to add a hit point boost, maybe +1.

On Dark Knowledge, I left it out explicitly because of the burning brand errata. It's true that the brand pretty much killed this card. But even without the brand errata, it's still very useful in a deck that runs armored destrier or other shadow discard effects. With the errata, it's even good as a complement to the burning brand, letting us know if there is a worse effect to exhaust the brand to cancel.

On the Daughter, I think I'm going to end up with the following ability, added on top of her existing one (along with a willpower boost?): response - after a character leaves play, place a progress on a location in the staging area. Limit once per round.

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Dark Knowledge is more useful with the Burning Brand errata, but only marginally so.  With Armored Destrier you can identify one of your attacks as safe/unsafe and that's a big help, but it's little help for ABB -- if you see no shadow you weren't going to cancel, and if you see a shadow it doesn't tell you if there's a worse one out there.  The only way it informs your decision is if you see a shadow that must be cancelled.  Silver Lamp is vastly more useful for ABB.

Still, even with Armored Destrier and Jubayr, the card is unpopular.  There's 27 pages of ringsdb decks with Armored Destrier, and only four distinct decks that also have Dark Knowledge (one of which is by Onidsen, intended targets Amarthuil, Amarthiul, Amarthiul and Elfhelm).  Jubayr has 14 pages of decks; just two distinct decks with Dark Knowledge (intended targets SpMerry and Elrond).

Note that in the half of those few decks Dark Knowledge is going on a hero with 2+ willpower.  Elfhelm is in a spirit deck and could use Snowmane or Steed of the Mark to quest and fight.  Elrond has access to U.C. and 3 willpower (LoV is taken in the deck by SpGlorfindel).  SpMerry could've used Hobbit Pony (I always pack this with SpMerry).

While the use case is real, it has been ignored, and I think a big part of that is the -1 willpower; even if you've slotted into a non-questing role for some heroes, the idea that you're making your hero worse (with a few exceptions starting with B) is a psychological barrier to the card.  And without a shadow discarder in the core set, there's no card that really synergizes with it anyways.  The -1 willpower is thematic as all get out, but I think it kills the card.

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Elrohir and Gildor are both Leadership and thus usually have enough ressources, most likely due to Steward of Gondor while Elladan is just the tactics version of his brother. Not that I mind spending a resource on readying Elrohir or drawing a card with Gildor, when I have plenty of resources left, but if I already had to spend Lore resources for healing, I would rather heal two points of damage per resource once per round. Of course Arwen helps with the cash, but the Dread Realm is a far way off from the core set.

I would also prefer the Helm to be attachable to any hero, not just sentinels, but we will see, when we will have reached that cycle.

I am with Dale regarding the Dark Knowledge, though I would not mind the willpower debuff, as already mentioned. It does have some use in the core set, as you can decide with who to defend, if at all, after dealing out shadow cards.

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7 hours ago, dalestephenson said:

Dark Knowledge is more useful with the Burning Brand errata, but only marginally so.  With Armored Destrier you can identify one of your attacks as safe/unsafe and that's a big help, but it's little help for ABB -- if you see no shadow you weren't going to cancel, and if you see a shadow it doesn't tell you if there's a worse one out there.  The only way it informs your decision is if you see a shadow that must be cancelled.  Silver Lamp is vastly more useful for ABB.

Still, even with Armored Destrier and Jubayr, the card is unpopular.  There's 27 pages of ringsdb decks with Armored Destrier, and only four distinct decks that also have Dark Knowledge (one of which is by Onidsen, intended targets Amarthuil, Amarthiul, Amarthiul and Elfhelm).  Jubayr has 14 pages of decks; just two distinct decks with Dark Knowledge (intended targets SpMerry and Elrond).

Note that in the half of those few decks Dark Knowledge is going on a hero with 2+ willpower.  Elfhelm is in a spirit deck and could use Snowmane or Steed of the Mark to quest and fight.  Elrond has access to U.C. and 3 willpower (LoV is taken in the deck by SpGlorfindel).  SpMerry could've used Hobbit Pony (I always pack this with SpMerry).

While the use case is real, it has been ignored, and I think a big part of that is the -1 willpower; even if you've slotted into a non-questing role for some heroes, the idea that you're making your hero worse (with a few exceptions starting with B) is a psychological barrier to the card.  And without a shadow discarder in the core set, there's no card that really synergizes with it anyways.  The -1 willpower is thematic as all get out, but I think it kills the card.

All good points. Just a note - with Burning Brand, it works by giving information. If you have 2 enemies engaged with you, and you have a hero with Burning Brand and Unexpected Courage, you have 2 attacks, either of which could have a game-ending (or at least defender killing) shadow effect. If you defend the first one, and get a shadow effect that is really bad but not game ending, you don't know if the next one is worse.

With Dark Knowledge, you can. Regardless of what you see, you can defend the unknown shadow first, and know with absolute certainty where your Burning Brand would be best spent. If you only have one defense out of your Burning Brand defender, you can plan where it needs to go - ideally, you will look at the shadow effect of the most dangerous enemy. And, of course, with multiple copies of Dark Knowledge, you can see even more shadow effects.

But you are completely correct that the card has been completely ignored, and I suspect that you are right about the reason why. The question remains - does it need to be fixed? Is it legitimately a bad card that needs a boost, or is it a card that has pretty good uses that has been unfairly ignored (or fairly ignored for most of the game, and is being unfairly ignored based on force of habit since then)?

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1 hour ago, Onidsen said:

All good points. Just a note - with Burning Brand, it works by giving information. If you have 2 enemies engaged with you, and you have a hero with Burning Brand and Unexpected Courage, you have 2 attacks, either of which could have a game-ending (or at least defender killing) shadow effect. If you defend the first one, and get a shadow effect that is really bad but not game ending, you don't know if the next one is worse.

With Dark Knowledge, you can. Regardless of what you see, you can defend the unknown shadow first, and know with absolute certainty where your Burning Brand would be best spent. If you only have one defense out of your Burning Brand defender, you can plan where it needs to go - ideally, you will look at the shadow effect of the most dangerous enemy. And, of course, with multiple copies of Dark Knowledge, you can see even more shadow effects.

But you are completely correct that the card has been completely ignored, and I suspect that you are right about the reason why. The question remains - does it need to be fixed? Is it legitimately a bad card that needs a boost, or is it a card that has pretty good uses that has been unfairly ignored (or fairly ignored for most of the game, and is being unfairly ignored based on force of habit since then)?

It's true that with Dark Knowledge, ABB, and UC (a three card combo) you have complete information at the point where you have decided to defend the first of two defenses.  Whether it would make more sense to look at the most dangerous enemy's shadow depends on what your back-up defense strategy is.  Even without UC, you could pick and choose your defenses depending on what the most dangerous shadow is.  But the value is still somewhat limited.  Suppose I've got Denethor, a 2-attack enemy, a 4-attack enemy, and my back up strategy is an ally that could take a 2-attack hit and survive.  The shadow mix includes +attack and penalties for a defender being killed.  If I look at the tougher attacker and it has no shadow, I don't know the optimal play -- if the weaker attack has +attack, it'd be better to chump the tougher so Denethor takes no damage.  If I look at the weaker attacker and see +attack, I still don't know the optimal play, the tougher could have the defender-killed shadow.

With only one attacker -- the common case in true solo -- you have complete information, but the value of that information is nil if ABB/Jubayr is your strategy (or with Jubayr).  if you can't cancel/discard the one attack knowing the shadow in advance may be useful on occasion, but that's clearly not been enough historically to play the card -- even after ABB, there's a lot of lore decks who lack lore defenders, but haven't felt the card is worth playing.

Once you get away from true solo and start using hero sentinel defenders, Dark Knowledge is hampered by only being able to look at your *own* attackers.

The ordinary value of the card is knowing the shadow effect in advance.  Jubayr and Armored Destrier, with two attackers, extend this value by giving value from knowing there is no shadow effect in advance.  This has been, I think, unfairly ignored, but ignored it has.  Per Hall of Beorn, the only core cards with a smaller popularity value (in parens) are Gandalf's Search and Beorn's Hospitality.  It's not just unpopular it is *very* unpopular, and when a 1-cost attachment is unpopular it needs help.

One fix is obvious -- drop the "attacking you" and make it more useful for sentinel defense.  The other is the willpower problem which (fairly or not) is an impedence to using the card.  It's so thematic that I hate to do that, but I'm convinced that's what needed to make deckbuilders look at the card seriously.  One thought is to link the willpower/knowledge linkage in the other direction -- instead of exhausting, reduce willpower by one for the rest of the round in order to look at a shadow that was just dealt, so high Willpower heroes become the best target instead of the worst, and enable looking at multiple shadows with a one-cost card (though it discourages looking at shadows dealt in the questing phase).  This would probably obsolete Silver Lamp, though.

Another possibility is to give a buff with the debuff, giving the hero +1 hp to go with the -1 willpower.  That in combination with being able to look at any shadow would be enough to make it obviously useful for hero defenders.

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Posted (edited)

@dalestephenson @Amicus Draconis would you play this version of the card?

ihVclg6.jpg

It's not limited to a response, so it has a little bit more flexibility in timing. It's not limited to enemies engaged with you, so it helps in multiplayer play. And it has an option for encounter deck control that can help guarantee a less-dangerous round.

In addition, here's an updated Daughter of the Nimrodel. I finally gave up on Silvan-adjacent abilities for the Daughter of the Nimrodel and went with a straight-up enters-play ability. I'm a little disappointed that I couldn't find something that felt right, but not overly so - I'm quite happy with where it ended up.

2rMHoEO.jpg

Finally, here's the non-overpowered version of Lorien's Wealth. I appreciate the feedback that helped lead to these revisions.

4uCYFcg.jpg

 

Edited by Onidsen

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It's Friday, everybody! That means another entry in the Ancient Mathoms blog series. Today, the finished versions of the Spirit cards, along with our video entry discussing them. Today's video features a special guest - Dave Walsh, another Card Talk host, dropped by to give his opinion on the Spirit cards. Make sure to check it out!

 

 

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The change to Deep Knowledge is intriguing, but I wonder why it has to be specified that it must look at an engaged enemy.  It's rare for non-engaged enemies to get shadows, and I don't see the point in excluding their shadows.  But what about the side-effect?  The idea of getting encounter deck manipulation, even at a threat cost, is intriguing.  In a deck where I add to the encounter deck, it might save your cards from being discarded as shadows.

But outside player encounter cards and a few quests where you run Shadow of the Past from your sideboard (Journey to Rhosgobel), how common would it be to want to put a shadow-free encounter card back on top for two threat?  As an example, in Journey Down the Anduin those cards are Hill Troll, Goblin Sniper, Marsh Adder, Brown Lands, East Bight, Chieftain Ufthak, Dol Goldur Beastmaster, Necromancer's Reach, Necromancer's Pass, Enchanted Stream, Banks of the Anduin, Gladden Fields, Evil Storm, and Treacherous Fog.  Most of those I wouldn't put back on top the deck for free -- the only ones I'd consider paying for is Evil Storm if I'm under 35 threat, Treacherous Fog, and Banks of Anduin.  In more recent quests I tend to hate everything that comes out of the encounter deck....

It occurs to me that another case where I might be willing to pay is if it was still a *response*, because then I could guarantee the next enemy got a harmless shadow.  Not often, but in some cases that might be worth the threat.

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Posted (edited)

For Dark Knowledge we could take inspiration from the whole talk of Saruman being able to turn the knowledge of evil against it and go with something like this "Limit 1 per hero, - 1 Willpower, exhaust Dark Knowledge to look at 1 shadow card dealt to an engaged enemy. If that shadow card has an effect which raises the enemy's attack by a certain value you can raise your threat by 1 to have it decrease the enemy's attack by the same value"

Edited by Alonewolf87

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It is an interesting effect to be sure. I would at least try this card out, it can serve as a stand-in Shadow of the Past for objective or player encounter cards. And it is always useful to know, what card will be revealed the next round, though Henamarth is the easier solution for scrying. Whether an Action or Response is better depends on the scenario: For most of the Mirkwood scenarios I would prefer the action because of the objectives or beneficial locations. In multiplayer the response seems more useful due to more enemies in play while for solo the action is better for scrying.

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And the final article for the Ancient Mathoms project's Core Set cards is out! We are also announcing a new video series associated with this project - a progression-style playthrough series in which we take decks built with these new cards and take them through the entire game. The first installment - Passage Through Mirkwood is out. We beat it too fast to really show off some of these cards, but that shouldn't be a recurring problem.

https://thewhitetower.wordpress.com/2019/07/26/ancient-mathoms-core-set-lore/

https://youtu.be/xhDTLlcRDCU

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What's interesting about the new form of lorefindel is that it lends to a totally different play style, i.e. one where you might want to have damage on certain characters at certain times to trigger the boost he provides. Short questing by one? Boom, pay a resource, you're good. Hero treebeard need to beast up to max? Trigger treebeard 4 damage, heal one, trigger one more damage, and suddenly treebeard swings for 9. Ally Quickbeam comes in to play ready and strong. You just have to make sure there's damage in the right places and money in lorefindels pocket. 

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So, this is rather belated, but better late than never, right?

Here's the video discussion of Grant and I talking about the Lore cards from the Ancient Mathoms project.

https://youtu.be/xMZCF2S3qfA

In addition, it's time to move on to the Shadows of Mirkwood cycle! Instead of looking at the cards by sphere, we're going to take a couple of packs at a time (trying to keep the overall number of cards/video between 8-12, although I can already tell you that that will not be possible for Journey to Rhosgobel + Dead Marshes). Today's packs are The Hunt for Gollum and Conflict at the Carrock!

We've got 2 different versions of Lore Bilbo to choose from - one that puts his threat right where it should have been from the beginning, and one that gives him an extra ability to try and compensate for the extra threat.

There are also 2 versions of both the Beorning Beekeeper, the Longbeard Map-maker, and Mustering the Rohirrim. Let us know which version (if any) you like better! If we missed any cards from these 2 packs that you think need a little boost, let us know!

First off, Bilbo:

This version of Bilbo comes to you because if we change the stats on one version of a hero, we are committed to change them on every version of that hero, and there are concerns that lowering the threat of the Tactics version of Bilbo might be too powerful. So what to do instead? Give an extra ability that might make up the difference. In this case, it feels a little like the effect on Sting.

h9pAnrF.jpg

Short, simple. Bilbo as he should have been.

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We had to at least add the Minstrel trait to this card. Once we did, we figured an extra hit point wouldn't be amiss. She still has poor cost-to-stat ratio, but a full deck search for a Song card is still good in the right deck.

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This version just gets the Map-maker offering 3 cost for 2 willpower, something that might be useful in non-Dwarf decks. The ability is limited to 3 times per phase, just to prevent egregious abuse of it.
 
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As the earlier version, but reducing the cost instead of boosting the stats. Now it's got the cost-to-stat ratio of an Erebor Hammersmith, which is pretty good, even with a situational ability.
 
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This one we just decreased the cost by 1. Now he's free with Spirit Theoden, and you can recycle him with Guthwine or Gamling if you need to. Even without the cost reduction or Rohan synergies, 1 cost to ready a hero, plus getting a willpower until you need it? That's decent.
 
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One of the things that Rohan needs is more allies that key off of allies getting discarded. Eomund seemed like a good opportunity to do that.
 
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Our approach to these trait cards is just going to be having them replace themselves in your hand when you play them. It's not enough to make them stellar, but they exist to enable quirky little shenanigans like giving Cirdan the Shipwright Herugrim and a Golden Shield. And this just makes those a little bit easier.
 
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The first version just turns this event into The Eagles are Coming, but for Rohan. On the positive side, that's a very good event. On the negative side, it's a little boring.
 
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This version instead keeps the searching the top 10 cards, but lets you spend resources to search your whole deck for another Rohan ally. The cost was, of course, reduced to compensate.
 
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This Beekeeper is modelled after the Beorning Guardian. But instead of giving him 3 attack, we gave an extra willpower instead. Now you have to choose whether to quest or to hold him back to attack and use his ability.
 
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This was another option we workshopped, because not everyone in our alpha response team liked the other. This turns him into a little bit of a defender, and lets you do some indiscriminate damage when he inevitably dies to a nasty shadow card.
 
Wa12BaY.jpg

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I always had the impression that Beravor has 6 threat too much, as her action requires exhausting to draw two cards, so Bilbo only has 3 threat more but with the benefit to draw a card and still use his stats. But I guess, inflated costs for card draw are a thing of the past. It is good, that his ability says "declared as a defender" instead of "exhausts to defend" like on Sting, so it works with Hour of Wrath, orPath of Need. Yet I am not convinced, that it is a good ability. Bilbo is very fragile for a defender without attachments and relying on luck to get a decent defence boost is not what I want on a defending hero. And with limit once per phase, not even A Fast Hitch can do much with his stats.

A second hit point on the Minstrel is a good idea, so she does not die to some treacheries. Though I do not know, what the minstrel trait is good for. Do you have any plans for this?

I prefer the cheaper version of the Map-maker because of Dain's willpower buff. 3 points of willpower on a non-unique ally are only found on Wellinghall Preservers, which at cost of 3 are too cheap in my opinion, even with entering play exhausted.

Do you have plans for Thrór's Map, as it makes Strider's Path rather useless? Sure you also get rid of the revealed card's threat before resolving the quest, but as you possibly swap in the active location, there is hardly a benefit.

I am against lowering the cost on the Horse-breaker, as with Théoden and Gamling you basically have a slightly more complicated version of Unexpected Courage that gives extra willpower. I also think Éomund does not need a buff: 2 willpower for 3 resources is quite normal and for only 2 with his brother-in-law around is really good. And then his normal ability can be abused every round. Of course, Théoden and Gamling can only work with one ally per round. By the way, you talk about "allies that key off of allies getting discarded", yet Éomund's response triggers on allies leaving play, e.g. chump blocking.

I am fine with the change to Nor Am I A Stranger, so it becomes more similar to the Harad cycle trait cards. Maybe include limit one per hero as well. I used this card to get another ready out of Éomund and Forth Eorlingas! can be quite impressive as well.

I always wondered why The Eagles are coming! is cheaper than Mustering the Rohirrim and can potentially draw more cards, even though you only dig half as deep into your deck. Copying the former event is quite boring, so i prefer the second version.

I prefer the second version of the Beekeeper, imagining the bees avenging the death of their keeper by swarming all enemies in the vicinity.

Born(e) Aloft also needs a buff. Right now it is hardly useful.

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For the first version of Bilbo... I want to like it because it provides good synergy with sting and has a similar approach to the tactics bilbo. However, what bothers me is that this doesnt seem thematic to who this Bilbo is. Lore Bilbo is post-The Hobbit book, the retired burglar who is celebrating his 111th birthday. He isn't doing combat. He is a little attached to the ring. Raising defense and battling doesn't seem to fit the character.

The other thing you might consider is his synergy with the other hobbits. Spirit frodo, fatty, and pippin raise threat. Spirit merry, leadership frodo, and folco reduce threat. 

Might I suggest, keep the passive card draw and instead of defense: "when you raise your threat through player card effect, draw x cards where x is the amount of threat raised (limit once per round)" this lends to synergizing well with Smeagol, the new master cards (utilizing the ring), and some doomed cards. It also makes spirit pippin a lot more playable.

My concern would be the abuse of Grima doomed decks, which struggle with card draw. This makes those decks absolute machines. 

The ability does seem to play into who Lore Bilbo is, however. He provides a relief for the threat hit, and almost encourages the use of the ring.

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17 hours ago, Amicus Draconis said:

I always had the impression that Beravor has 6 threat too much, as her action requires exhausting to draw two cards, so Bilbo only has 3 threat more but with the benefit to draw a card and still use his stats. But I guess, inflated costs for card draw are a thing of the past. It is good, that his ability says "declared as a defender" instead of "exhausts to defend" like on Sting, so it works with Hour of Wrath, orPath of Need. Yet I am not convinced, that it is a good ability. Bilbo is very fragile for a defender without attachments and relying on luck to get a decent defence boost is not what I want on a defending hero. And with limit once per phase, not even A Fast Hitch can do much with his stats.

Here's the million dollar question - do you think that Tactics Bilbo would be overpowered at 6 threat cost?

17 hours ago, Amicus Draconis said:

A second hit point on the Minstrel is a good idea, so she does not die to some treacheries. Though I do not know, what the minstrel trait is good for. Do you have any plans for this?

It's more thematic than anything else, I think. However, the new Journeys in Middle-Earth boardgame revealed a new FFG-created hero named Elena, an Elven minstrel from Lindon. I expect to see her as a hero in this game at some point, and I rather hope that they'll do something with the Minstrel trait when she gets released. If they do, I want to future-proof this card so it will work with her. If they don't, then maybe I'll have to find something that can be done with Minstrels and Songs.

17 hours ago, Amicus Draconis said:

I prefer the cheaper version of the Map-maker because of Dain's willpower buff. 3 points of willpower on a non-unique ally are only found on Wellinghall Preservers, which at cost of 3 are too cheap in my opinion, even with entering play exhausted.

Just a point of correction, you can get 3 points of willpower on the Pelargir Shipwright just by playing a mono-Spirit deck (slightly more restrictive than running Dain, but not extremely difficult, either). In addition, there are 2 other Dwarf allies that have 2 willpower base for 3 cost (and thus will have 3 willpower with Dain): the Longbeard Elder from the Foundations of Stone pack, and the Erebor Toymaker from the Mount Gundabad pack.

One of the things I want to do is create space to run a Dwarf deck that doesn't necessarily need Leadership Dain to function well, which is what I was hoping the 3-cost version would help open up. But I guess the real question is "what should we do with these Dwarf allies given that Dain is going to be nerfed as part of this project?"

And to help facilitate that discussion, I'll just drop a sneak peek of the proposed Dain nerf in the thread:

Mmcyfke.jpg

If Dain is getting nerfed as in the above, do you still feel the same way about the Map-maker?

17 hours ago, Amicus Draconis said:

Do you have plans for Thrór's Map, as it makes Strider's Path rather useless? Sure you also get rid of the revealed card's threat before resolving the quest, but as you possibly swap in the active location, there is hardly a benefit.

I hadn't had plans for Thror's Map, but you are the second person I've heard suggest that the Map is overpowered in a way that warps the game in the last couple of days. I'm still unsure of whether or not it needs a change, but if I did do anything to it, I'd probably make it a 0-cost attachment and make it a discard effect. Either that, or give an additional cost - maybe you have to exhaust the hero as well? Or maybe spend a resource? I don't know for sure.

I think that there are use cases for Strider's Path even when Thror's Map exists. Among other things, you can get rid of the obnoxious location on the turn you reveal it - with the Map, you always have to deal with it in the staging area. Against any quest where there are incredibly awful locations that you want to get rid of as soon as possible, it can do a better job than the Map, even if those locations don't have travel costs. 5 locations that I would prefer the path instead of the map, just from a quick Hall of Beorn search, are Gladden Marshlands (from Nightmare Journey Along the Anduin), the Old Ford (from Hunt for Gollum), Hills of Wilderland (from the Rhovanion box set, but it shows up all throughout the cycle), Pitch Black Tunnel (from Beneath the Sands), and Desolate Land (from Crossings of Poros). These are locations that can be absolutely devastating when they come off the deck, so the ability to travel to them (even if you replace the active location) immediately - without having to face a round of failed questing because they showed up - can be incredible.

17 hours ago, Amicus Draconis said:

I am against lowering the cost on the Horse-breaker, as with Théoden and Gamling you basically have a slightly more complicated version of Unexpected Courage that gives extra willpower. I also think Éomund does not need a buff: 2 willpower for 3 resources is quite normal and for only 2 with his brother-in-law around is really good. And then his normal ability can be abused every round. Of course, Théoden and Gamling can only work with one ally per round. By the way, you talk about "allies that key off of allies getting discarded", yet Éomund's response triggers on allies leaving play, e.g. chump blocking.

Re: the Horse-breaker, the problem I see is that the card is completely overcosted at 2 resources. I wouldn't run it, even in a Theoden deck (and I have tried - I want to get this card to work, but every single time I take a deck that uses him and do decktesting for it, he eventually gets the cut because he's just not adding enough value.) It's true that Theoden/Gamling can recur hi every single turn for no cost. But if they are doing that, then Theoden isn't using his cost reduction on something else, and Gamling isn't returning Westfold Outrider or Riddermark's Finest or Riddermark Knight, or the Snowbourn Scout that you discarded for Ride to Ruin or Rear Guard or Helm! Helm! It's a complicated combo, all to do something that Unexpected Courage could already do, and for less cost.

Of course, I could give some other benefit instead of reducing the cost. But I think that part of the problem with these early Rohan allies is that they were priced expecting that someone would have the pre-errata Horn of Gondor in play somewhere (probably playing it in the Rohan deck) and thus would be getting a resource back when they were discarded. (Which would effectively have made this card cost 1 anyways). But there are so many Rohan heroes out there, and I want to consider making this card useful outside of just Spirit Theoden decks - or indeed, perhaps even outside of just Rohan decks. At 2 cost, you could maybe pull off a janky combo in a Theoden deck. At 1, you might include him in all sorts of decks.

That said,

Re: Eomund, you may have a point there. I'm actually more tempted to drop his normal ability and just give him the ready-an-ally ability. The global Rohan ready is a little frustrating - primarily because so few Rohan allies benefit from readying. His best use-case is to ready all the questing Rohan characters, but so few of them have anything else useful that they could do. Many of the heroes have the same problem. I suppose one possibility would be to chump block with him after you have used all your other defenders, and thus get extra actions out of Erkenbrand, Deorwine, or the Wardens of Helm's Deep, but that requires you to not quest with him.

On the allies-leave-play vs. allies-are-discarded, I wanted to keep him useful even in a Core+Shadows of Mirkwood environment. There aren't a lot of Rohan allies to begin with in that environment, and so few of them get discarded - in general, I don't want to hobble a card by making it only useful in future cycles. Also - the Snowbourn Scout remains the best chump blocker in the game for a long while, and letting Eomund key off of that felt like a fine approach.

Re: Born Aloft - that was a card that was kind of borderline for us. It's not a very useful card most of the time, but some combos key off of returning an ally to your hand to play again, especially as powerful enters-play effects become more common. Among the cards I can think of off the top of my head - Rumil, Galadhon Archer, Marksman of Lorien. Of course, a dedicated Silvan deck will have other ways of doing that, but generic Tactics combat decks might want to run these allies and recur them as well.

But we'll definitely take a look at it and see if we can improve it.

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15 hours ago, player3351457 said:

For the first version of Bilbo... I want to like it because it provides good synergy with sting and has a similar approach to the tactics bilbo. However, what bothers me is that this doesnt seem thematic to who this Bilbo is. Lore Bilbo is post-The Hobbit book, the retired burglar who is celebrating his 111th birthday. He isn't doing combat. He is a little attached to the ring. Raising defense and battling doesn't seem to fit the character.

The other thing you might consider is his synergy with the other hobbits. Spirit frodo, fatty, and pippin raise threat. Spirit merry, leadership frodo, and folco reduce threat. 

Might I suggest, keep the passive card draw and instead of defense: "when you raise your threat through player card effect, draw x cards where x is the amount of threat raised (limit once per round)" this lends to synergizing well with Smeagol, the new master cards (utilizing the ring), and some doomed cards. It also makes spirit pippin a lot more playable.

My concern would be the abuse of Grima doomed decks, which struggle with card draw. This makes those decks absolute machines. 

The ability does seem to play into who Lore Bilbo is, however. He provides a relief for the threat hit, and almost encourages the use of the ring.

Ooh - that's a good start towards a really interesting ability. I take it you would prefer leaving Bilbo at 9 threat and boosting his usefulness rather than just dropping him down to 6?

What about - after you raise your threat as the result of a player card effect, exhaust Bilbo to lower your threat by 1? (The problem with that, of course, is that it leaves him largely useless until much later on in the card pool.) But the consistent reaction to Bilbo has been that the ability we gave him just isn't good (and I think I concur with that).

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My thoughts:

Bilbo: I don't think it's strictly necessary for heroes to share threat costs, and there's even precedent with Glorfindel (and effectively different threat for Eowyn).  But I also think TaBilbo, though more interesting than LaBilbo is *also* overpriced at 9, so a threat adjustment would be practical and easy.  If you're uncomfortable with 6 for TaBilbo, why not 7?  That at least gets LoBilbo in reasonable secrecy range, and he does have a useful ability.

But if Cirdan doesn't pay a premium, Bilbo shouldn't either and 6 is the right price.  I like boosting the defense, since Bilbo's meagre stats are best on defense -- but 2/2 is a non-starter.  How about instead of increasing his defense randomly, increasing his defense *by the threat of the attacker*.  This won't make him as sturdy as Beregond, but will make him *excellent* against some bosses with shadow protection.  And really, Bilbo should be excellent against bosses.  That's an ability that would be worth the extra threat, coupled with card draw.

Rivendell Minstreal tweak is fine.  3-for-2-wp is a "normal" cost for questing lore allies, the ability is useful, and making 3-cost allies less fragile is a good thing.

Longbeard Map Maker I like better with 3 cost version.  3-for-2-wp gives "normal" cost along with an ability strong enough that requiring the higher cost is good, I think.  I'm not too concerned about being overpowered with Dain, nerfed or not -- I'm more concerned that dwarves be playable *without* Dain.

The new horse-breaker is very good value at 1.  But I see the point that at 2 he's overpriced for a Rohan deck.

Eomund's new ability is very strong, though it is mitigated by the lack of Rohan allies that are good questers and attackers (which is part of the problem with Eomund's old ability, of course).  I'm not sure what to do with Eomund's old ability, it's so often not worth it, but when it's worth it it is really powerful for an effect that with Gamling/Theoden can be repeated every turn for two resources.

Nor Am I Stranger is certainly a good change, making it like the late trait-giving cards (though those are restricted to heroes for no obvious reason).

I like the second version of Mustering better, it's more interesting.  Obviously not as good as Heed the Dream, but it's cheaper and Spirit.

I like the questing-capable version of Beorning Beekeeper better.  Beornings already have quality defenders, but willpower is scant, and I think the latter version, while better than current, would continue to be neglected.

Strider's Path in its current state is most valuable in solo, where you don't always have an active location.  I see it more as a threat-removal than a travel avoidance card, in competition with Secret Path rather than Thror's Map.

Born Aloft has few use cases, but like Meneldor's Flight it gets a boost from the addition of an end-of-attack/defense step, with an action window following damage assignment -- now Vassal/Guardians can be saved with it.  That may be enough to keep it useful in an Eagles deck.  The other use case is re-use of temporary allies.

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6 hours ago, Onidsen said:

Here's the million dollar question - do you think that Tactics Bilbo would be overpowered at 6 threat cost?

I would say yes. In that case he should only deal a damage to an enemy after questing successfully without getting a willpower boost, which in turn would make him a 1 wp quester which is underwhelming. So he would need a statline more like 2 1 1 2 with 6 threat which makes him very similar to Merry and Pippin. And probably better than Pippin in solo due to an extra card every turn.

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Just a point of correction, you can get 3 points of willpower on the Pelargir Shipwright just by playing a mono-Spirit deck (slightly more restrictive than running Dain, but not extremely difficult, either). In addition, there are 2 other Dwarf allies that have 2 willpower base for 3 cost (and thus will have 3 willpower with Dain): the Longbeard Elder from the Foundations of Stone pack, and the Erebor Toymaker from the Mount Gundabad pack.

One of the things I want to do is create space to run a Dwarf deck that doesn't necessarily need Leadership Dain to function well, which is what I was hoping the 3-cost version would help open up. But I guess the real question is "what should we do with these Dwarf allies given that Dain is going to be nerfed as part of this project?"

And to help facilitate that discussion, I'll just drop a sneak peek of the proposed Dain nerf in the thread:

Mmcyfke.jpg

If Dain is getting nerfed as in the above, do you still feel the same way about the Map-maker?

 

You are right, I forgot about these allies. In a Dale deck Celduin Traveler, Rhovanion Outrider and Northrealm Lookout can also reach 3 willpower with an arbitrary attachment and Brand Son of Bain, which is only slightly more difficult. I am of course a fan of nerfing Dain to open up dwarves for other heroes, so they need more willpower. I am not sure, whether this change alone will suffice. An UC on him will still allow to buff both willpower and attack, though you can no longer also defend with him.

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I hadn't had plans for Thror's Map, but you are the second person I've heard suggest that the Map is overpowered in a way that warps the game in the last couple of days. I'm still unsure of whether or not it needs a change, but if I did do anything to it, I'd probably make it a 0-cost attachment and make it a discard effect. Either that, or give an additional cost - maybe you have to exhaust the hero as well? Or maybe spend a resource? I don't know for sure.

I think that there are use cases for Strider's Path even when Thror's Map exists. Among other things, you can get rid of the obnoxious location on the turn you reveal it - with the Map, you always have to deal with it in the staging area. Against any quest where there are incredibly awful locations that you want to get rid of as soon as possible, it can do a better job than the Map, even if those locations don't have travel costs. 5 locations that I would prefer the path instead of the map, just from a quick Hall of Beorn search, are Gladden Marshlands (from Nightmare Journey Along the Anduin), the Old Ford (from Hunt for Gollum), Hills of Wilderland (from the Rhovanion box set, but it shows up all throughout the cycle), Pitch Black Tunnel (from Beneath the Sands), and Desolate Land (from Crossings of Poros). These are locations that can be absolutely devastating when they come off the deck, so the ability to travel to them (even if you replace the active location) immediately - without having to face a round of failed questing because they showed up - can be incredible.

 

Yes, it would also work on cards like Goblin Tunnels, Fen of Reeds, Sinking Bog, Stock Road, Watch Tower, Deadly Road, Foothills of Mordor, Accursed Forest, Mountain Pass, High Falls, Hills of Evendim, Forest Battleground, The Sorcerer's Tower, The Wargs' Glade, Enchanted Stream (I hate that card), Dark-wood Grove and whatever can be found in nightmare decks. It seems the card is still useful in certain quests, as I think about it. But with a nerf to Thrór's Map it would benefit a lot. Discarding the map probably is not very thematic, because who would lose their card when travelling, but exhausting sounds good, as reading a card takes some time.

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Re: the Horse-breaker, the problem I see is that the card is completely overcosted at 2 resources. I wouldn't run it, even in a Theoden deck (and I have tried - I want to get this card to work, but every single time I take a deck that uses him and do decktesting for it, he eventually gets the cut because he's just not adding enough value.) It's true that Theoden/Gamling can recur hi every single turn for no cost. But if they are doing that, then Theoden isn't using his cost reduction on something else, and Gamling isn't returning Westfold Outrider or Riddermark's Finest or Riddermark Knight, or the Snowbourn Scout that you discarded for Ride to Ruin or Rear Guard or Helm! Helm! It's a complicated combo, all to do something that Unexpected Courage could already do, and for less cost.

Of course, I could give some other benefit instead of reducing the cost. But I think that part of the problem with these early Rohan allies is that they were priced expecting that someone would have the pre-errata Horn of Gondor in play somewhere (probably playing it in the Rohan deck) and thus would be getting a resource back when they were discarded. (Which would effectively have made this card cost 1 anyways). But there are so many Rohan heroes out there, and I want to consider making this card useful outside of just Spirit Theoden decks - or indeed, perhaps even outside of just Rohan decks. At 2 cost, you could maybe pull off a janky combo in a Theoden deck. At 1, you might include him in all sorts of decks.

 

To be fair, Théoden will do his job once a round, no matter which ally it is. And with a cost of one, the Horse-breaker would be similar to Ever Vigilant, Behind Strong Walls, Hold Your Ground etc. with different restrictions and/or buffs. The real problem I have, is the recursion with Gamling or Guthwine. Háma and Will of the West have been nerfed to no longer be able to infinitely recur cards, so I guess the recursion has to be targeted at some point.

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Re: Eomund, you may have a point there. I'm actually more tempted to drop his normal ability and just give him the ready-an-ally ability. The global Rohan ready is a little frustrating - primarily because so few Rohan allies benefit from readying. His best use-case is to ready all the questing Rohan characters, but so few of them have anything else useful that they could do. Many of the heroes have the same problem. I suppose one possibility would be to chump block with him after you have used all your other defenders, and thus get extra actions out of Erkenbrand, Deorwine, or the Wardens of Helm's Deep, but that requires you to not quest with him.

On the allies-leave-play vs. allies-are-discarded, I wanted to keep him useful even in a Core+Shadows of Mirkwood environment. There aren't a lot of Rohan allies to begin with in that environment, and so few of them get discarded - in general, I don't want to hobble a card by making it only useful in future cycles. Also - the Snowbourn Scout remains the best chump blocker in the game for a long while, and letting Eomund key off of that felt like a fine approach.

 

My best use of him was having him killed due to a treachery and then readying all Rohan characters so they would survive the next one. Théodred, Elfhelm, Erkenbrand, Théoden, LÉomer and Fastred benefit from readying, while Éowyn, Dúnhere, Háma, TÉomer and Gríma do not, i.e. more than half of the Rohan heroes would not mind being readied after questing or defending. You could even discard him with Ride to Ruin, Helm! Helm!, Sneak Attack or Born Aloft (mostly) at will. I guess, there are more uses for Born Aloft, but still it feels somewhat lacking.

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Re: Born Aloft - that was a card that was kind of borderline for us. It's not a very useful card most of the time, but some combos key off of returning an ally to your hand to play again, especially as powerful enters-play effects become more common. Among the cards I can think of off the top of my head - Rumil, Galadhon Archer, Marksman of Lorien. Of course, a dedicated Silvan deck will have other ways of doing that, but generic Tactics combat decks might want to run these allies and recur them as well.

But we'll definitely take a look at it and see if we can improve it.

 

Farmer Maggot, Bilbo, Horse-breeders, Miners of the Iron Hills etc. might also be decent targets, or a substitution for Meneldor's Flight on the Vassal or Guardian. What I find curious, is that it works on neutral allies like Gandalf, while Stand and Fight does not with practically the same effect.

What I could imagine to improve this card, is to remove a character for a round or two from the game in order to heal all damage from it, as the character will be resting in the safety of the Eagles before reentering it into play (this might need some extra cost depending on the ally's power).

 

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11 hours ago, Onidsen said:

Ooh - that's a good start towards a really interesting ability. I take it you would prefer leaving Bilbo at 9 threat and boosting his usefulness rather than just dropping him down to 6?

What about - after you raise your threat as the result of a player card effect, exhaust Bilbo to lower your threat by 1? (The problem with that, of course, is that it leaves him largely useless until much later on in the card pool.) But the consistent reaction to Bilbo has been that the ability we gave him just isn't good (and I think I concur with that).

I don't mind the 9 threat -- his stats are trash, but if you get an ability people like, it's easily forgotten. Hirluin, for example, starts with a weak stat line but his ability allows him to get jacked pretty quickly. 

Even dropping him down to 6 still makes you think twice about running him versus lore pippin. Especially now that we have smeagol who is even less threat and a better stat line (his stinkers notwithstanding).

I'm curious what people think about trading threat for card draw? Is that too powerful in a hobbit deck? I keep thinking about how to synergize with the hobbits out, and theres a good number that lower threat and some that raise threat. 

I wonder if your suggestion is too close to Elfhelm

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So I've been giving it a lot of thought and I'd like to play test it, but I'm liking my suggestion about Bilbo more and more. Unless I am missing some awesome trick, Spippin and Fatty are straight up terrible heroes. Lore Bilbo is slightly better, and spirit frodo can work in certain scenarios and certain decks. 

With this change in Bilbo, I'd be interested in running a two hand game, possibly with a dunedain set, that is run with bilbo, fatty and pippin because it brings massive built in card draw. With double spirit, you are effectively paying for the threat reduction so that you can consistently keep drawing by raising threat. It's not stellar by any means, but a card drawing engine like this might clear a 50 card deck faster than erestor. Plus you would keep the cards. The key would be to keep your threat under control.

Theres something to be said about changing one hero to make three workable.

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