A recent article from FFG showed us the first Ent card for the game. Interestingly, it appears to have copied the mechanic previously pioneered by the Hall of Beorn, which has the character coming into play exhausted. This is nice from a thematic perspective, as it represents the Ent being slow to action, and allows them to be given higher levels of power than would otherwise be practical given their cost.
Since I initially wrote this article, Fantasy Flight have put out another article, previewing the final adventure pack of the upcoming cycle, and with it, another 2 Ents, including our first unique Ent ally, Treebeard. This does slightly alter the landscape, but not enough to convince me to abandon the draft I’d created.
The main issue which led me to start writing, was that the Ent we’d been shown was a bit underwhelming from a theme perspective. Whilst 2 willpower, 2 attack, 2 defence and 3 hit-points is far from shabby for a 2-cost ally, this Ent is about as powerful as the average goblin, would struggle to harm many larger orcs, and would be killed by a single attack from the average Huorn. Treebeard is a bit more solid with 3 defence and 5 hit points, but there are still a lot of enemies out there who can 1-shot him.
Obviously, there is a major dilemma for the game designers. Using basic mechanics, an Ent ally would either need to be prohibitively expensive (probably a higher stat-total than ally-Beorn) or game-breakingly overpowered. The “comes into play exhausted” mechanic can smooth this out slightly, but if a game goes on for lots of rounds, this will gradually become less and less of an issue.
In a recent episode of Cardboard of the Rings, they hit upon the idea of using the recently introduced “time” mechanic to represent the “don’t be hasty” attitude of the Ents, along with their orc-crushing power.
Based on this notion, I decided to actually knock together a few Ent cards. I started with the following, which would be common to all Ent characters.
Cannot have restricted attachments
<fullname> does not ready during the refresh phase.
Time X. After the last time counter is removed from <fullname>, ready it, and add X time counters.
From this starting point, I moved on to the actual player-cards themselves. Treebeard, as befits his prominence in the book gets to be a hero, whilst his more generic comrades have to remain content as allies for now. I may add cards for other named Ents, such as Quickbeam, at a later point.
The Treebeard concept I’d actually had a while back – essentially giving him double stats, but half the actions, and I used this for a “design-your-own Ent” contest elsewhere- although as this was before we really had the concept of Time Counters, it ended up being a bit long-winded. This is the new version.
Obviously, a bit of self-healing is nice, but I wanted to add some non-unique allies to accompany him on his crusade – I don’t think that my Ents will mix very well with the official ones, so I thought I’d best flesh out the concept in one go.
These all have the potential to be quite powerful, but hopefully not overly so – the Avenging Ent is furious once roused, but looking at the stats on these Ents, you shouldn’t have too many destroyed Ents to trigger his ability. The fact that he cannot have restricted attachments also makes it harder to make him ranged and wipe the board of enemies. FFG have now previewed a Tactics Ent, but I decided to keep everything within the Lore Sphere – I want to be able to run these easily out of a single deck, and there just wasn’t room on Treebeard for a “Treebeard’s resources can pay for Ents of any sphere.”
And also some events to complement the allies. How do you get all your Ents together? With an ent-moot.
I particularly like the fact that the Ents seemed to provide a good theme for a couple more songs. As everything Entish seems to fit so nicely into the Lore sphere, this might even be time to build the Love of Tales Deck.
After careful consideration, I decided not to make “Huorn of Gondor,” “Run! Forest, Run!” or “Ent no Sunshine” cards.
I hope people like these. As I noted above, they won’t necessarily fit together with the official FFG Ents in a very balanced way, but given that the Antlered Crown is probably 6 months or more away, these are an interesting alternative to be going on with.