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The Dead Marshes - Player Card Review series

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And here we go again!

The next stop is at The Dead Marshes. I believe you enjoy the whole new set of reviews, just one step before the grand finale.:)

https://visionofthepalantir.com/2019/07/29/player-card-review-the-dead-marshes/

I just remind you, what's all about (skip it, if you have already read the article from Leadership sphere):

I made a deep analysis of each player card, mention the positives and negatives of each card, possible combos and synergies and overall conclusion from my point of view. I set the goal of describing each card in at least 450 words, in 500 words at the best. It's written in "progression mode", and it's because of 1) new players, who wanna to start this game from Core set in progression style, 2) the progression mode seems to me more challenging than "normal style" with accessible all cards from all expansions and adventure packs. I wanted to create such complex and detailed reviews because I think it's rare material in LOTR LCG community. And I think that each card, no matter how strong or weak, deserves own attention, not only that cards we usually use in decks.


Feel free to share your own experiences and opinions. Which cards you like and which not? Do you use some cards from this adventure pack nowadays? I'm curious about your comments.

Silblade

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My comments:

TaBoromir was among the greatest of the great, but the nerf is costly.  Being able to self-ready is nice, but being able to self-ready as long as the threat holds out covers a multitude of sins (until you run out of threat).  In the full card pool, there's just too many ways to ready for TaBoromir's lone ready to hold as much weight as it used to.  I'll admit I've never used TaBoromir's second ability, but the very idea of a self-discarding ability isn't nuts -- Caldara decks, before her nerf, could do it repeatedly and even now the only purpose of having Caldara is to get rid of her.  Folco Boffin is or should be a staple in every Strider deck not built with LoAragorn.  The problem with TaBoromir's discard ability isn't that you lose him, but that the benefit is never worth losing him.  If he had a boss-slaying ability like TaEowyn that caused him to be discarded at the end of the round, he'd get used.  But two points of direct damage to one player's engaged enemies is game-winning so seldom that it's just not worth it.

Dunedain Watcher's equivalent card is Hasty Stroke, not A Test of Will.  I'll grant it's a high cost to pay, but you can use her until you need it (she doesn't need to exhaust to be discarded) and it can be used for any player's shadow.  This is a sidebar card, a card that's completely overpriced in quests where shadows won't kill you and is worth packing 3x (especially without spirit) in quests with game-losing shadows.  I don't think it's fair to downgrade the Watcher just because she won't be needed for *this quest*, especially when you can see how handy he could've been in quests that are already played.  That'd be like discounting Elfhelm because this quest doesn't have a lot of threat raises.  The very next quest protection from the Hummerhorn shadow or threat raises could make the difference, and in the very next cycle you get more game losing shadows, including the infamous Sleeping Sentry.

Besides, at this point in the game, there really *aren't* a lot of efficient leadership allies.

I agree Dunedain Cache is annoying.  Being an item instead of a Signal will hurt its value later, but for the meantime it costs too much -- if I have a hero I want to be ranged so badly I'll pay two resources for it, I probably need it more badly than I can afford to wait for this to turn up.  But there still aren't many alternatives, none for a generic hero.

I'm not as high as you on Vassal.  It's one of the indispensible cards in an Eagles deck, and outside of it is a fine chump blocker and outstanding battle quester, but as an attacker a 1 shot +3 attack doesn't excite me much, especially in tactics where you can stockpile attack cheaper than elsewhere.

I didn't bother with Song of Mocking in my Gimli deck, but it occurs to me the best use case might not be *on* Gimli, but rather to *protect* Gimli.  Gimli wants to be nearly dead at all times, Song of Mocking on anyone else can prevent a one-damage ding from a treachery (for example) from knocking him off.  Song of Mocking works as a backstop for unfortunate heroes who don't defend well but have a lot of hp (Glorfindel and Denethor, for example).  Gloin can use it for resource generation in conjunction with a self-damaging hero, but all it does is generate, you don't get the benefit of the damage.  One last target is conjunction with self-healing heroes -- for example, with Silvan Tracker Legolas could absorb dings to another hero every turn and then heal up with the Tracker -- Treebeard/Quickbeam heroes can do that later with the help of Wellinghall Preserver.  Pretty narrow options for being useful.

I've always considered Elfhelm a good choice for quests that aggressively raise your threat, and that he covers both encounter cards *and* quest cards make him great in that role (especially since he doesn't exhaust to use his response).  But just using him against unsuccessful questing threat raises doesn't appeal to me -- if I can't quest successful when I can afford a 3-resource spirit ally, it's highly unlikely I'm going to win -- threat raises from unsuccessful questing are the *least* likely way for threat to raise, for me.  I see him as a sideboard card, though if you are spirit heavy paying 3 for his combat stats may be worth it straight up.

I agree that We Do Not Sleep is absurdly overpriced, though there may be rare instances where it is worth it (for example, a Gondor/Rohan fellowship where Mutual Accord has also been played -- unlike Rohan, Gondorian Swarms that don't exhaust to quest can kick butt).

Elves are not called Silvans in the game, rather the Elves in the game are *either* Noldor or Silvan, and we've seen both.  Some things work on both branches, some only work on one or the other.  It's true that Silvan Tracker is not generally useful at this point of the game, unless you've put Song of Mocking on Legolas or something -- and less so because you have access to more flexible healing in Lore.  With that said, the ability to passively heal *everyone* of a certain trait with a non-fragile 3-cost ally has good future potential.  At least by healing himself he can provide repeatable and safe defense (with ABB) against weak enemies, but that may not be worth investing 5 lore resources.

Fast Hitch -- you don't need to wait for Ring Mail to boost Bilbo's defense -- you have Dunedain Warning already.

Song of Battle -- resource smoothing aside, the best case for this card is in the next pack.  Support of the Eagles looks good on any attacking/defending hero, and Song of Battle both makes a non-tactics hero eligible and helps pay for it.

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Great observations again! :)

Yes, I understand that Boromir after errata is quite limited and not so omnipotent. But I agree with errata, to save the game balance.
His second ability looks good, but in the practice I think that he wouldn't kill almost anyone - enemies would have to be damaged already to a such extent that the next 2 damage should kill them… very improbable scenario.

Hasty Stroke - that's the right equivalent to Dúnedain Watcher, thank you for your sharp eye.:) Well, the first obstacle for me is to get into a game 3-cost 1-1-1-2 ally. I would hesitate with playing him, if I have some better option. The second obstacle lies in his usage. He can be a good prevention before some unexpected surprise, of course. But how often he stays unused in game, because no critical shadow card appears? I think that quite often. He is then a little bit dead ally on the board. Certainly, he at least may quest for 1, join to attack with 1 Attack… but we are returning again to the my first obstacle - does 1-1-1-2 worth for 3 cost? For me, the answer is clear.

At this point, the new Leadership ally have really bad quality. Only allies from Core set worth it.

I actually can't agree with you about Vassal of the Windlord. Though he holds only for 1 round, so he reminds rather event than an ally, 3 Attack for 1 cost is sexy and very useful boost, with combination of Ranged. Compare him to Blade Mastery: 1 for 1 (+1). Vassal of the Windlord is the champion in this comparison.:) And so his 3 Attack comes in handy everytime, when you need to deal with some nasty enemy (at best, with the help of some good attacker with 3 Attack = 6 with 3 Attack of Vassal is good portion of damage, which is enough to kill many enemies).

Song of Mocking - didn't you mean another hero than Denethor (which has only 3 HP?)

Counting with unsuccessfully questing in order to make live Elfhelm's ability isn't the best way, how to win. But he is useful during the sudden occasions, when threat level should be increased (typically, treacheries). These aren't the demanded source of increasing your threat, it's something "extra bad". Elfhelm's ability comes in handy in these cases. Additionally, his combat stats come in handy in any case. Agree that Elfhelm should be a regular member of sideboard decks.  

That's a truth, Dúnedain Warning hits the table first before Ring Mail.:)

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There is not much I could add, that Dale has not already written. But a few things come to my mind:

Tactics Boromir's action is useful, when you get swarmed by goblins in Moria or Goblintown. Most of them have only 2 hit points and they really like to surge or enter play through shadow effects. In that case sacrificing Boromir might be a good idea. Granted this happens only rarely, but when it does, Boromir shines.

Besides Gimli there is only Boromir who can benefit from Dúnedain Cache for now. Later there are heroes like tactics Éomer, Treebeard, Na'asiyah, tactics Éowyn and Quickbeam. In every other case I would just use a ranged hero instead.

I see the Vassal more like an event that boosts attack by 3, but its real purpose is to power up the Eagles Of The Misty Mountains from the next adventure pack.

I probably will never play We Do Not Sleep, just because Grim Resolve is better but not good. I would rather use for slightly different results Path of Need, Light the Beacons or Strength of Arms. And Mutual Accord does not make sense: If there is access to Leadership, why not play Grim Resolve instead? Leadership ressources are gained easier and there is no need for a two card combo, when a single card does it better.

The upside of the Silvan Tracker is, that it has potentially unlimited healing power. The downside is of course that there are not many targets. I usually do not bother with Song of Mocking, so I could only heal a Lórien Guide or Haldir in that card pool. Everything else just should not be taking damage or will be dead anyway. Later Celeborn and the Defender of the Naith benefit somewhat, probably even Rossiel. But the real star will be the Elvenking himself: Thranduil. As a defender he is likely to take damage and with The Elvenking he could even heal twice, but that would be a rather bad idea. But honestly better put self-preservation on him.

Fatty in my opinion is a better target than Pippin for a Fast Hitch. Pippin does nothing with his stats besides questing, but Fatty can cancel threat in staging and afterwards defend as at least as good as Sam, if at most one enemy has been engaged that round, and better than Bilbo without attachments. Of course Fatty rarely gets picked...

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Is it worth 3 for a 1/1/1/2 ally in leadership?  Not really.  Is it worth paying 2 for a 1/1/1/2 in leadership, plus an extra one to cancel a nasty shadow in advance at the expense of your ally?  Sometimes.  At this point in the card pool it's just a Guard of the Citadel that costs extra for a useful ability -- but at this point of the cardpool, there's not a lot to choose from in leadership allies.  Guard of the Citadel is still useful despite providing only 1 wp or 1 attack, and Dunedain Watcher is just as useful.  So it all comes down to the value of the shadow cancellation, and that's quest dependent.  Against Dead Marshes, not really.  Against Road to Rivendell?  Pack three of them.  It's not worth 3 *just* for the stats, but it's entirely possible for the useful ability to be worth it.

The mention of Song of Mocking with Denethor and Glorfindel was intentionally.  Denethor is a good defender (3 def to start), but fragile (only 3 hp).  Glorfindel is hefty (5 hp) but a lousy defender (1 def).  If Glorfindel has a Song of Mocking and uses it to backstop Denethor, you effectively have a 3/5 defender instead of a 3/3 defender, and that has value.

Yes Vassal is like a +3 attack event, though it has the advantage of being usable for chump blocking as well.  Yes, that's a far better value than using Blade Mastery to boost your attack.  But I never use Blade Mastery to boost my attack.  I have used Khazad! Khazad! to boost my attack, but that's free -- in general, I want to *permanently* increase my available attack so I can kill enemies every turn, not just htis turn, and Vassal doesn't do that -- *unless* I have Misty and/or Support of the Eagles, or I am battle questing -- in both of those cases, Vassal can help me for more than one attack.

Of course, if you're running a tactics splash and have a defensive strategy of chump blocking, Vassal is a cheap chump, one of the few 1-cost allies.  That he can double as a chump attacker only adds to his value in that role.

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Amicus Draconis said:

I probably will never play We Do Not Sleep, just because Grim Resolve is better but not good. I would rather use for slightly different results Path of Need, Light the Beacons or Strength of Arms. And Mutual Accord does not make sense: If there is access to Leadership, why not play Grim Resolve instead? Leadership ressources are gained easier and there is no need for a two card combo, when a single card does it better.

Mutual Accord never really makes sense in a single deck, but it makes sense in a fellowship that involves both Rohan decks (typically double spirit), and Gondor decks (typically double leadership).  Gondor decks could pack Grim Resolve unless they are monosphere leaderhip (Strength of Arms doesn't cover the heroes, but it's way cheaper), while Rohan decks would pack We Do Not Sleep for use with Mutual Accord -- either for *everybody* to quest without exhausting, or for the unexhausted Rohirrim to take advantage of the LeBoromir's global attack buff.  An example is here, my Gondor, Rohan, and Dori fellowship:

https://ringsdb.com/fellowship/view/111

I only used one copy of WDNS, but it's a 5-cost event, it doesn't need more than one.  This isn't your typical Gondor/Rohan fellowship, though SpMerry is way more common in Rohan decks than Dori is.  SpMerry lets you play the event for 3 if you combo with Good Meal, which I didn't bother to do.  Anyway, the point of the combo is that Gondor allies benefit from the event much more than Rohan allies, thanks to their global buffs.  It's a narrow case, and obviously when released doesn't exist at all.

Speaking of Fellowships, I am reminded that I have an untested fellowship based around the Dead Marshes -- it's not progression style, but the point of the fellowship is to use all the cards that came with Dead Marshes:

https://ringsdb.com/fellowship/view/3559

This one links a tri-sphere Silvan deck (Celeborn/Galadriel/LoDenethor) with a Rohan deck with TaBoromir (SpTheoden/SpMerry/TaBoromir).  Here's the use cases:

Dunedain Watcher is for shadow protection, 2 of three are relegated to the sideboard.  I pack a Burning Brand, but LoDenethor is the only good target.

Dunedain Cache goes on TaBoromir, to help him provide attack to an enemy engaged by the Silvan deck and defended by LoDenethor

Song of Mocking goes on Celeborn, so with the Silvan Tracker he can absorb damage that otherwise would be taken by defenders, whether that's Denethor or Boromir or Theoden and then self-heal.  I also include Elf-friend so I can extend self-healing to non-Silvans.

Fast Hitch goes on Merry, so he can quest and still reduce threat.

Vassal is in the deck along with Winged Guardian and Support of the Eagles -- intended for TaBoromir.  What's better than someone who can (at the time) ready any number of times?  Someone who gets +3 attack or +4 defense when doing it.  Song of Battle is there to help pay for Support, which is pricey for a splash tactics deck.  (It also helps pay for Marksmen of Lorien, which is in the Rohan deck -- Celeborn's response is global).

Elfhelm is in the Rohan deck, of course.  When you're running TaBoromir, you want all the threat reduction you can get.

And WDNS is in the Rohan deck, where it's still obviously massively overpriced.  Ah well.  If someone can construct a better fellowship using all the cards, more power to them.

Edited by dalestephenson

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1 hour ago, dalestephenson said:

Mutual Accord never really makes sense in a single deck, but it makes sense in a fellowship that involves both Rohan decks (typically double spirit), and Gondor decks (typically double leadership).  Gondor decks could pack Grim Resolve unless they are monosphere leaderhip (Strength of Arms doesn't cover the heroes, but it's way cheaper), while Rohan decks would pack We Do Not Sleep for use with Mutual Accord -- either for *everybody* to quest without exhausting, or for the unexhausted Rohirrim to take advantage of the LeBoromir's global attack buff.

So the only real benefit is, that both decks can play similar events with different spheres and Mutual Accord happens to also boost the Rohirrim allies. But they would be buffed when used in conjunction with Grim Resolve/Strength of Arms anyway.

Quote

Song of Mocking goes on Celeborn, so with the Silvan Tracker he can absorb damage that otherwise would be taken by defenders, whether that's Denethor or Boromir or Theoden and then self-heal.  I also include Elf-friend so I can extend self-healing to non-Silvans.

Using several copies Elf-friend in combination with a Silvan Tracker or more is actually a good idea.

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2 hours ago, Amicus Draconis said:

So the only real benefit is, that both decks can play similar events with different spheres and Mutual Accord happens to also boost the Rohirrim allies. But they would be buffed when used in conjunction with Grim Resolve/Strength of Arms anyway.

Using several copies Elf-friend in combination with a Silvan Tracker or more is actually a good idea.

You are correct. Mutual Accord by itself benefits a Rohan deck by giving Gondor's global benefits to the Rohirrim.  The only advantage WDNS has over Grim Resolve (or Strength of Arms, less heroes) is that the spirit-heavy deck can play it; it doesn't make the (better) leadership events obsolete in any way.  Mutual Accord/Astonishing Speed is the use-case that leadership can't do by itself.  (Mutual Accord also lets either Rohan or Gondor decks play Oath of Eorl easily, other than cost).

If you've got two Silvan Trackers anywhere at the table, Elf-friend is equivalent to Self-Preservation, but it can go on any character and it is a 1-cost neutral card -- everybody can pack some.  If you've got SpBard you also can use a Silvan recurrence event and return the character to hand.  Gandalf + Elf-friend + Island Amid Perils would be pretty cool.

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