As you’ve probably gathered by now, I am quite a big fan of this game. That said, there are still things which annoy me. Some are very minor little gripes, others are far broader, more sweeping decisions which have been made. In (loosely) ascending order, I’ve put together the 5 things that wind me up the most.
5. Random traits – Denethor has the Steward trait, but not Faramir. Brand son of Bain has the Dale trait, along with the Ravenhill scout, but Bard has Esgaroth instead. The Noble Trait seems to have been liberally sprinkled over the card-pool without any real logic. Gleowine is a Minstrel. The Rivendell Minstrel isn’t?!?
4. Bill Ferny – I get it that Bill Ferny is meant to be annoying, but I feel like there’s been a mistake here. 3 defence, 5 hit points, and no optional engagement. Even if you manage to attack him, he’s actually hard to kill than some of the Nazgul!?! – This quest really needed an objective card – like the one I’ve made here – a convenient way to dispatch him, which fits perfectly with the book. [I’m aware that this card is probably both too powerful and too random (i.e. when will it appear off the encounter deck?) to have been included, but in my view, theme justifies the means.]
3. Under-powered and/or over-costed versions of favourite characters. Faramir, Theoden etc – underwhelming abilities compared to very high costs. As a comparison, let’s consider Faramir and Beravor.
Beravor, for a cost of ten, can do a passable job of questing, contribute a bit to an attack, or defend smaller enemies. She also provides very powerful card draw, which can be given to any player on the table. For an extra point of threat, Faramir gives you an extra hit point and ranged. His attack can potentially be boosted up above the starting 2 by keeping allies in the staging area, but this requires a lot more planning, to make sure nobody hits the various engagement thresholds. Without it, a Ranged attack of 2 is not particularly powerful this far in to the game. Faramir’s other advantage over Beravor, is that there is currently more support for the Gondor trait than for the Dunedain trait. However, given that “Gondor” synergy (such as it is) revolves around getting out vast numbers of allies and giving them global boosts, you’re probably better off running the ally version of Faramir who, in combination with Visionary leadership on Boromir, can make for +2 Willpower, +1 attack on every Gondor ally in play. Not bad for those 1-cost errand riders, or free Citadel Custodians.
2. Master of the Forge – this could be made more general under “baffling stats” but this is always the one that particular annoys me. Some allies have 2 or 3 hit points- always a useful thing to have, as it means they can survive some of the nasty global damage effects that can wipe the board (Necromancer’s Reach, Zealous Traitor, I’m looking at you).
Not Master of the Forge though, he’s a definite 1-pointer.
Let’s go over that again: Wandering Took- a young scamp of a hobbit, who aimlessly crosses your path: 2 hit points. The Riddermark’s finest – Some horses, apparently without handlers: 2 hit points. A Noldor Blacksmith, descendant of those who wrought the Silmarils and waged war upon Angband: 1 hit point.
1. Lack of thematic trait synergy. The latest cycle really pushed mono-sphere. Bonuses if all your heroes have the same printed resource icon. Unless you’re a dwarf or an “outlander” this level of support has been disappointingly absent for anyone else – no bonuses for controlling a vast horde of Rohirrim, or only Elves. There are a few hints creeping in of this here and there –Celeborn for example, gives you an incentive to have lots of Silvans together, and the Black Riders Hobbits are powered up by each other, but generally speaking, there’s still not that much incentive to play truly thematic decks. If this seems a bit vague, it’s probably because the underlying gripe is Theoden again. Theoden could have come in the “under-powered/overcosted” section, but I feel it’s a bigger pain on a thematic level. As a hero with the Rohan trait, Theoden is able to benefit from Rohan specific cards, but he doesn’t really do anything for them, as his ability focuses specifically on tactics. In essence, Thalin is inspired by Theoden’s presence, as is Brand, son of Bain (not sure about Beorn) – Eowyn on the other hand, is entirely unconcerned. If this had said “Rohan trait” instead of “Tactics resource icon” it would have been more thematic, and encouraged more logical decks. It would also have been a lot more useful, as you’re far more likely to have your other Rohan heroes questing – (esp Eowyn, Grima)
So those are my thoughts, but how about anyone else? I assume nobody out there thinks this game is perfect – what are the things that wind you up the most?