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28 minutes ago, dalestephenson said:

That's an unfortunate ruling -- not just because it contradicts the preview article, but because it opens the door to effective setup losses.  It's bad enough with Grey Wanderer that you could miss out on your preferred attachment because it is in hand rather than in the deck, but with this contract your entire deck is designed on the presumption that you'll be able to use a specific ally as a hero -- and if your copy is in hand, you can't.

You could mitigate by including multiple copies, but that'd be a terrible waste of deck space unless you're running a Harad-ally/hero with Kahliel.

Setting up the contracts, especially this one, at step 2 with the heroes is a much more logical place, though I think it would prevent Guarded uses with Grey Wanderer.

I agree. It would have made more sense to keep the timing in the normal player setup effects and then just rule that guarded cards cannot be used with grey wanderer contract because the guarded effect cannot be completed.

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1 hour ago, dalestephenson said:

That's an unfortunate ruling -- not just because it contradicts the preview article, but because it opens the door to effective setup losses.  It's bad enough with Grey Wanderer that you could miss out on your preferred attachment because it is in hand rather than in the deck, but with this contract your entire deck is designed on the presumption that you'll be able to use a specific ally as a hero -- and if your copy is in hand, you can't.

You could mitigate by including multiple copies, but that'd be a terrible waste of deck space unless you're running a Harad-ally/hero with Kahliel.

Setting up the contracts, especially this one, at step 2 with the heroes is a much more logical place, though I think it would prevent Guarded uses with Grey Wanderer.

Or just reshuffle your hand and pretend you are starting a new game

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4 hours ago, dalestephenson said:

One other thought -- since the ally's threat is *added* to the starting threat, that means it will be ignored by Loragorn's ability.  On the flip side, selecting a Hobbit for Folco or a lore ally for Mirlonde won't help.

It is not entirely clear to me what this contract does re: starting threat for the purposes of Loragorn. I lean towards "add… to your starting threat" meaning that starting threat itself is modified, and thus Loragorn will reset to the level with the ally stat sum.

If the designer intent was just to raise the threat level that you start round #1 with without modifying your starting threat, it would've been easy enough to word it like Tactics Éowyn, "Raise your threat by yadayada."

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4 hours ago, sappidus said:

It is not entirely clear to me what this contract does re: starting threat for the purposes of Loragorn. I lean towards "add… to your starting threat" meaning that starting threat itself is modified, and thus Loragorn will reset to the level with the ally stat sum.

If the designer intent was just to raise the threat level that you start round #1 with without modifying your starting threat, it would've been easy enough to word it like Tactics Éowyn, "Raise your threat by yadayada."

Good point.  TaEowyn's threat-raising ability is in-game rather than setup, but her setup reduction doesn't mention "starting threat", just says to reduce threat by three.  For Loragorn's purpose she counts as nine.

The "add" clearly shows starting threat was already established, so Mirlonde/Folco don't take advantage of ally-heroes.  I mean, technically the threat cost of a lore ally would be one less than sum of stats with Mirlonde, and Folco's threat cost would be reduced by one by an ally-hero, but too late to affect starting threat.  All it would matter for is Fall of Gil-Galad.

Since the ally-heroes enter as allies and become heroes, I would think that Celeborn and Tom Cotton would give their first-round boosts to silvans/hobbits.  But Galadriel won't allow first turn questing without exhausting, since at the point they commit to the quest they won't be allies any more.

Re-reading the contract, I think its immunity to card effects may prevent Wiglaf from exhausting it to ready, as I thought he could.  However, it would still give him +1 willpower and cause a card to be drawn with LeBrand.

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15 hours ago, Halberto said:

Or just reshuffle your hand and pretend you are starting a new game

Instant setup losses are way less annoying than during play (e.g. Sleeping Sentry), but they're still annoying.  Especially when the problem wouldn't even exist if the timing were as originally announced.  Since both contracts pulling from your deck say just "deck" rather than "deck and hand", I think it's pretty obvious the contracts were not designed to take effect after the mulligan.

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1 hour ago, dalestephenson said:

Instant setup losses are way less annoying than during play (e.g. Sleeping Sentry), but they're still annoying.  Especially when the problem wouldn't even exist if the timing were as originally announced.  Since both contracts pulling from your deck say just "deck" rather than "deck and hand", I think it's pretty obvious the contracts were not designed to take effect after the mulligan.

You are probably right, but we all know this game is not always impeccable with timing. And let's be honest, this time the issue for the players is objectively limited. The contract is not perfectly designed in this regard, sure,  but I'm not going to  complain against a card nobody ever thought about and that is worth probably 10 cycles of heroes in terms of game variety and deckbuilding.  

Timing issue is annoying? Sure. But I would welcome any time annoying cards so brilliant in terms of game play,  variety  and fun. 

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31 minutes ago, mttrchrds said:

Hats off to the devs for this contract. Gives the game a whole new dimension. Wonderful stuff.

Quick question regarding contracts, are they unique? i.e. could each player use a copy of Messenger of the King in a multiplayer game?

Not unique, everyone can have the same contract.

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1 hour ago, dalestephenson said:

Since both contracts pulling from your deck say just "deck" rather than "deck and hand", I think it's pretty obvious the contracts were not designed to take effect after the mulligan.



Obviously.  This is a post-hoc band-aid response to some folks trying to argue they could use Grey Wanderer to grab an immediate Guarded card because their was no Encounter Deck yet.  So now anyone wanting to play Gray Wanderer has to run multiple copies of Strider and anyone running King's Messenger needs to run multiple copies of their preferred ally-to-hero.

The better solution, in my opinion, would have been to have left Contract Set-Up at the same time as Hero Set-Up and just have said that Gray Wanderer is errata'ed to say you can attach a 1-cost attachment without Guarded (or, say that you put the Guarded card into the Staging Area, and once the Encounter deck is prepared you reveal a card to be guarded).  This would have shut down the cheese of starting with Necklace of Girion attached to a wanderer without creating a bit of akward clunkiness for every single deck running Wanderer or Messenger as its contract.


That said, I don't want to sound overly negative.  The contracts especially and this entire cycle in general have been phenomenal additions to player options, and I couldn't be more pleased or excited as a player.  And I don't begrudge the designers or testers for Gray Wanderer's failure to include "without Guarded" as part of its requirement ... the timing of all the pre-game set-up windows for this game is a bit wonkier than most.

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17 hours ago, Halberto said:

Or just reshuffle your hand and pretend you are starting a new game


Sure, but there's a fine line to walk.  On the one hand, as a cooperative game that lots of people play solo, "anything goes" house rules are always a viable option -- people can find the joy in this game in whatever ways best suit them, but on the other hand the more times players just 'set' the start of the game to align with their preferences before actually starting a quest (e.g. just selecting the prisoner in Dol Goldur, multiple mulligans until acceptable starting-hand conditions are met, resetting from a double Hill Troll Anduin Start, etc.), the more the integrity of the game as a constructed experience becomes grayer.


Having sub-optimal contract timing windows that strongly encourage people to either (1) reset / take bonus mulligans until the attachment/ally is not in your starting hand OR (2) run additional redundant copies of a unique card that then bloats the deck could probably warrant a better timing window, in my opinion.

Edited by AllWingsStandyingBy

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1 hour ago, Halberto said:

You are probably right, but we all know this game is not always impeccable with timing. And let's be honest, this time the issue for the players is objectively limited. The contract is not perfectly designed in this regard, sure,  but I'm not going to  complain against a card nobody ever thought about and that is worth probably 10 cycles of heroes in terms of game variety and deckbuilding.  

Timing issue is annoying? Sure. But I would welcome any time annoying cards so brilliant in terms of game play,  variety  and fun. 

I'm not at all complaining about the *card*, I'm complaining about the ruling -- a ruling that contradicts what was originally said about contract timing and is also inconsistent with the Setup timing for heroes and campaign boons.  I get that the original timing is problematic for Guarded attachments, but moving the timing creates IMO worse problems -- I think it would've been better to exclude Guarded attachments, or make an ad-hoc ruling that putting the Guarded attachment into play without an encounter deck creates a passive effect waiting for the encounter deck to appear so it can resolve.

It's an ill-wind that blows nobody good, of course.  For example, moving the timing may benefit Meneldor and Rumil even while it downgrades Lindir.  It also opens the possibility that you have multiple uniques in the deck that your deck could use as hero, so you can choose the one that's not in your hand *and* most responsive to the quest setup.  For Grey Wanderer, it means that if you have the 1-cost neutral Strider card already in hand, you can grab something else for your free attachment.  Arguably it makes both contracts more flexible.  But the (presumed) original timing is more sensible and more importantly, more reliable.  Turning allies into hero *dramatically* increases the deckbuilding options -- making the ally choice unreliable takes away from that, and also incentivizes mulliganing to get rid of a card instead of looking for a card.

Another possibly remedy would be to errata the "deck" in both contracts to "deck and hand", though for completeness deck, hand, and discard pile would be best, as some quests can discard from deck during their setup (also would make hero Galdor's ability slightly more useful).

If the current timing hold, the contract becomes completely useless against Escape From Mount Gram.  (Though even with the original timing the contract would be of use only if you used the contract ally as the remaining hero -- not many ally-heroes would do well in that role, though a couple would.)

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I think that the confusion arises from an oversight: there is an encounter deck during step 1 of set up according to the learn to play guide and the Rules Reference.

Heroes and Contracts enter play during step 2.

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39 minutes ago, dalestephenson said:

I'm not at all complaining about the *card*, I'm complaining about the ruling -- a ruling that contradicts what was originally said about contract timing and is also inconsistent with the Setup timing for heroes and campaign boons.  I get that the original timing is problematic for Guarded attachments, but moving the timing creates IMO worse problems -- I think it would've been better to exclude Guarded attachments, or make an ad-hoc ruling that putting the Guarded attachment into play without an encounter deck creates a passive effect waiting for the encounter deck to appear so it can resolve.

It's an ill-wind that blows nobody good, of course.  For example, moving the timing may benefit Meneldor and Rumil even while it downgrades Lindir.  It also opens the possibility that you have multiple uniques in the deck that your deck could use as hero, so you can choose the one that's not in your hand *and* most responsive to the quest setup.  For Grey Wanderer, it means that if you have the 1-cost neutral Strider card already in hand, you can grab something else for your free attachment.  Arguably it makes both contracts more flexible.  But the (presumed) original timing is more sensible and more importantly, more reliable.  Turning allies into hero *dramatically* increases the deckbuilding options -- making the ally choice unreliable takes away from that, and also incentivizes mulliganing to get rid of a card instead of looking for a card.

Another possibly remedy would be to errata the "deck" in both contracts to "deck and hand", though for completeness deck, hand, and discard pile would be best, as some quests can discard from deck during their setup (also would make hero Galdor's ability slightly more useful).

If the current timing hold, the contract becomes completely useless against Escape From Mount Gram.  (Though even with the original timing the contract would be of use only if you used the contract ally as the remaining hero -- not many ally-heroes would do well in that role, though a couple would.)

I would even argue that allowing for guarded cards with the grey wanderer isnt even that much of a game breaking situation. Sure you get the attack or willpower boosts free of cost, but you're also sacrificing the readying option given from strider, which is the ultimate upside when running only one hero. I'd argue that allowing guarded cards allow for some variety of options... now it's pretty much locked in that strider is the way to go.

Why rewrite the contract rules just for that conclusion? Weird, for sure.

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15 minutes ago, Bonarchie said:

I think that the confusion arises from an oversight: there is an encounter deck during step 1 of set up according to the learn to play guide and the Rules Reference.

Heroes and Contracts enter play during step 2.

By gum, you're right.  By rule, the encounter deck exists in step 2 already.  Mechanically, playing a guarded attachment then should work just fine -- though it has the potential to fetch a Guard that will be put out of play during scenario setup!

When contracts were introduced we were told they would enter play during step 2, but Caleb's ruling (linked upthread) requires it to happen after step 7. 

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On 2/18/2020 at 2:09 PM, dalestephenson said:

Leaflock doesn't seem quite so bad as a starting hero, since you don't pay threat for his initially non-existent willpower.  In a deck with Treebeard and Quickbeam you can get his willpower to 2 in the first turn and shouldn't have much trouble maintaining it at 4.

Skinbark would be fun against orc quests -- 4 base attack, ignores defense, for only 9 threat.  Squash.  Squash.  Squash.

Ingold can deliver an impressive three willpower for five threat, if the heroes all have a resource.

Skinbark was my first thought also. There are a "few" quests that have orcs. What's really good is their defense is not just minus but negated entirely. Put Dunedain Mark on him and he can kill even the biggest ones. I did a quick check and there are 75 orcs that he can kill in one hit with no attachments on him.

Edited by rhtm70

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9 minutes ago, rhtm70 said:

Skinbark was my first thought also. There are a "few" quests that have orcs. What's really good is their defense is not just minus but negated entirely. Put Dunedain Mark on him and he can kill even the biggest ones. I did a quick check and there are 75 orcs that he can kill in one hit with no attachments on him.

I think the Ents and Harad came out on top for this contract. Though there are some other nice niche ones too

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4 hours ago, dalestephenson said:

It's an ill-wind that blows nobody good, of course.  For example, moving the timing may benefit Meneldor and Rumil ...


Taking someone like Meneldor with King's Messenger is terribly sub-optimal, even if he can put his progress on a location that has started staged.  The whole point of an Eagle/Meneldor deck is to have him cycling in and out of play a bunch, acting effectively as a Tactics Asfaloth for location control.  I've played an Eagle deck lot lately, and Meneldor is the deck's MVP and it's not uncommon to have him add double-digit progress to locations over the course of a game.  To use him as a Hero who might maybe put 2 progress onto a pre-staged location is nearly a criminal waste of his talents for anyone who wants to run Eagles.

To treat him as a 7 Threat Tactics hero that basically has no ability, cannot have Restricted attachments, and locks you out of running his intro/exit ally version is pretty pointless.  If you want 2WP Tactics for questing, take the 4 Threat Merry, and if you want an attacker there are much better options in the 7 Threat range for the contract (e.g. Legolas, who can have restricted attachments, has +1 Attack with Ranged, and grants unparalleled card-draw access).  Meneldor as a hero offers nothing, since no cards key off of the number of Eagles in play nor are their any Eagle-specific attachments.  All you gain is a 7-Threat hero to pair with an Istari hero for immediate access to Gwaihir's Debt, but that's pretty underwhelming when you can easily key Gwaihir's Debts from ally versions of Wilyador or Meneldor, and for 2 more Threat Hero-Landroval would grant immediate Gwaihir's Debt access while also offering a more robust HP pool with Sentinel and revival protection for the other heroes in the game. 

Summary: no contract timing window decisions should be made based upon whether it facilitates enter play abilities of Eagle or Silvan allies-turned-heroes, because even if it is conducive to their enter effect they are still very suboptimal choices outside of anyone looking at pure thematic considerations of hero lineup (eg wanting Radagast alongside two Eagles), and those folks will pick such heroes whether or not they suit timing windows.

 

3 hours ago, player3351457 said:

I would even argue that allowing for guarded cards with the grey wanderer isnt even that much of a game breaking situation. ...but you're also sacrificing the readying option given from strider, which is the ultimate upside when running only one hero.


I mean, I think the concern is Necklace of Girion, which offers the same +2WP boost of Strider ontop of also bolstering the lone hero's resource pool.  Strider only lets the Wanderer quest unexhausted while you have < 3 characters, and it's a rare breed of lone hero that can actually remain alone the entire quest without needing to bring in allies to help quest/fight.  So, effectively Necklace of Girion is Strider, except it can't be shut off by having >5 characters and it gains an additional resource each turn... not to mention you could always start with the Necklace and then run 3x Strider, for an easy and cheap +4 WP double-dip.

 

3 hours ago, General_Grievous said:

I think the Ents and Harad came out on top for this contract. Though there are some other nice niche ones too

Indeed!  Just a shame there's not a way to run 3 Harad heroes at once for pure thematic purposes, though Khaliel + Na'Asiyah + Messenger gets pretty close :)  Also a tragedy that we never got a tamed Mumakil creature ally that required exhausting/attaching a Harad character as additional costs to play/keep in play, but that's a lamentation for another day.  Personally, I use "Giant Bears" with alternative Mumak art in my Khaliel Wanderer deck, and cataphract camel alt art as his Armored Destrier, etc. ...

Edited by AllWingsStandyingBy

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Strider lets you quest unexhausted as long as you have less than three *heroes*, which is always the case for a Grey Wanderer deck.  It's true that the willpower boost will fade out once you have five allies in play, but by that time your board state should be better.  It's not clear to me that Necklace of Girion is overpowered in a way that Strider is not -- one extra resource and permanent +2 wp instead of early +2 wp and permanent action advantage doesn't seem like a dealbreaker, especially when you start in secrecy (Resourceful) and could just as easily fetch Steward of Gondor without any Guarded issues.

Meneldor can place a lot of location progress when going in and out of play, but the value of that is dependent on quest and number of players -- and the ease of getting him in and out of play.  Eagles aren't as easy and cheap to bring in and out as Silvans are (yet?).  It's absolutely true that Landroval has a useful ability post-entry and is only 2 more threat -- but he's also 1 wp.  Meneldor delivers 2 willpower (max for eagles) and delivers it for the lowest threat cost.  Sentinel has limited value when you're one-deck solo and/or have 1 defense and can't take restricted attachments.  I've been running an Eagles deck in this month's solo league, and when I get Meneldor in I'm keeping him in, because I need the willpower.

It's true that Meneldor and now Wilyador can set up Gwaihir's Debt more cheaply than the earlier unique eagles, but they cost additional resources, and add another card to find to setup the combo.  As far as I'm concerned setting up Gwaihir's Debt on turn one *is* an ability worth choosing a hero for, even if said hero is otherwise blank.  It's a powerful card, IMO the only tactics card worth nerfing Hama.

In the case of both Meneldor and Rumil, the argument isn't that they're attractive choices *because* they trigger, only that the change in timing makes them more valuable as heroes because they can trigger.  The counterargument that both benefit from coming in and out of play as allies, and thus are more valuable in ally role than as heroes, may certainly be true for a deck that can make them easily come in and out of play -- but that doesn't change the fact that *if* you make them heroes, the timing benefits them.

Are there quests were guaranteeing two progress up front or up to three damage to an engaged enemy up front may make them attractive as hero choices?  Not many, but they exist.  For example, in To Catch an Orc you could choose and nuke the annoying Mugash's lair, leaving you with no locations (and no threat) in staging to begin a quest where you *must* place progress every turn to succeed.  If you can manage to pair Rumil with two ranged heroes (likely NOT one-deck solo), it'd be pretty sweet for him to instantly nuke an engaged Umbar Sentry in setup in Escape From Umbar.

 

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2 hours ago, player3351457 said:

House rule: Lindor works.

Give the poor elf some love.

We have lots of small house rules to fix thematic falls. Like Hands Upon The Bow being a ranged attack, Burglar's Turn working even if travelling to a location swaps it out with a different one, ignoring game-limiting errata and so on hahaha

Edited by General_Grievous

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