Today’s post is just a bit of a general update- a few thoughts and musings, rather than an article on a specific topic.
As I’m sure people have noticed, it’s been a bit quiet round here for the past few weeks – I haven’t even managed to respond to all the comments that have been posted on recent articles, let alone produce any substantial new content. These has been for a number of reasons – personal business/disorganisation, a busy spell at work that has left me disinclined to sit at a computer when I get home, and the fact that I’ve hardly played and Lord of the Rings games in recent weeks – since I picked up the Pathfinder Card Game at the end of March, my wife has got moderately hooked on it, and this has been occupying most of our playtime.
Hopefully the fallow spell is now over – in the next week or two, I’m going to try to get a few posts out – including updating some of the reference content for other games besides the LCG. I’ll also finally respond to the comments that have been posted, having actually managed to give Faramir and Ioreth a run-out and get a bit of a feel for how they play.
One person who really hasn’t been idle lately, is Ian from Tales from the Cards – some of you may have seen a few teasers for this [if you haven’t do check out the blog for future updates], and I don’t want to steal his thunder, but the work he’s put in is absolutely phenomenal – I’ve had a small involvement at the conceptual stage of a few cards (threw in a few ideas for Turin and Gurthang), but the attention to detail, and the thoroughness of the play-testing they’ve got going on is really something else – I spent one weekend trying to master OCTGN to get more involved in this side, and nearly went mad, so I’ve had very little of use to offer the project recently.
Obviously, I’ve not been the only one who’s been a bit quiet- we’d had a while with little to report from Fantasy Flight, as we enter the lull between the Deluxe expansion and the start of the new cycle. That said, I’m getting gradually more excited about this cycle- having been initially a bit disappointed by the fact that Rohan aren’t going to get a full cycle after their deluxe in the same way that Gondor did. However, with the latest preview from FFG, I’m starting to get quite excited about some of the new elf-decks we’re going to get.
When Fantasy Flight first previewed the Dunland Trap, I was a bit disappointed- they announced that they were going to with lots of bouncing in and out of play shenanigans, to reflect the small number of elves hiding in the trees. This just felt a bit too similar to the Rohan-leaving-play mechanic, not to mention Imrahil, Horn of Gondor, and any other card of this ilk that has been around since the beginning.
It also felt odd, since it didn’t really synergise with the existing Silvan cards- there was no obvious relation to the Mirkwood Runner or the Silvan Tracker, and an obvious clash with the Silvan Refugee. A far more logical approach, would have seemed to be a specific “allies-not-leaving-play” archetype – higher set-up costs, but benefits to be gained from not just chump-blocking and using disposable allies. This would go nicely with the various Thranduil’s that people like Beorn and Shelfwear have made, which bolster Silvan hit-points. Again, drawing on these cards, some reflection of the insularity of the elves / their antipathy to dwarves would have been a good theme win.
So, the articles came, a few new elves, options to build elf decks with lots of moving parts: Interesting, but hardly earth shattering.
And then this week we got the announcement article for Adventure Pack 5 of the upcoming cycle, with one very big spoiler.
Galadriel is probably the most significant character of the third age who we hadn’t yet seen, at least on the side of good. Since the game began, people have been putting together fan-made versions, but there’s always been a big difficulty to the character. On the one hand, you need to represent the sheer power of one of the mightiest elves left in Middle Earth, bearer of one of the 3 Elven Rings of Power. There’s a danger that any version of Galadriel either fails to do justice to her power, or is game-breaking in its effect.
At the same time, for all her power, Galadriel doesn’t actually DO that much during the third age – you won’t find her off battling Orcs in Moria, or storming the Black Gate (although who knows what Peter Jackson has planned for the Battle of the Five Armies…)
The card spoiled a couple of days ago seems to have captured Galadriel perfectly. Aside from some more beautiful artwork from Magali, she has a willpower of 4, as high as anyone in the game (Eowyn’s willpower is also 4, and Beregond has 4 defence, no-one else can beat 3 for a printed stat). However, she doesn’t quest, attack, or defend. Your allies do not exhaust to quest in their first round, providing some powerful action advantage, and she can exhaust to lower threat and provide card-draw – neatly reflecting the rest that the Fellowship were able to gain in Lothlorien, and providing one of only a very small number of in-hero forms of threat reduction.
It also brought home to me some of the difficulty in custom card design. How many of us creating custom content would dare create a hero who couldn’t quest, attack or defend? And how much scorn would they have poured on them? Imagine (if you can) that we are still back in the days of Khazad-Dum: if someone had showed you their latest custom card, and it was Spirit Glorfindel, you’d think they were mad.
Admittedly, some people out there do still seem to think that Glorfindel is mad, but I think it’s good for the game that the designers keep coming up with things that are outside the expected. I don’t always like what they come up with – keeping track of Hide, Burgle and Escape etc can be a pain, but the day we can predict the new scenario in its entirety is probably the day this game ceases to be worth our money.