Rousing the Shire

It’s been a quiet period here in the land of Bow and Helm over the past few months: aside from keeping busy hunting Orcses and other wild creatures, there have been a few reasons for this.

As I noted in last month’s article, there has been a major delay in getting some of the packs which were available to Gen-Con goers 4 months or so ago adding great frustration to deck-building exercises, as I know that the cards I need to make the deck click are out there, but I can’t get my hands on them.

There were other reasons too: I spent a bit of time trying to tidy up the tagging and categorising of this blog, in an attempt to get a handle on what sort of content people actually enjoy reading – doing this statistically failed miserably, so all always, please do let me know of anything you’d like to see more or less of.

I also developed a strange suspicion regarding the direction of the over-arching narrative from the current AP – I had nasty visions of it being a re-hash of the plot-twist from Against the Shadow, and wasn’t a fan of the idea. There were also fresh waves of content for other games with the second edition of Game of Thrones LCG finally landing, the latest Adventure Path for the Pathfinder ACG reaching its conclusion, and my wife picking up Legendary:Villains for her birthday. Busy-ness in day-to-day life meant that I got behind with my pod-casts, completely lost track of Blogs (it turns out that if you only like a Facebook page, and don’t follow the Blog itself, you’re at the mercy of what the Facebots think is worth notifying you of) and generally, LotR found itself gathering dust in the corner.

CarnDumHopefully, that is now all set to change: the 5th AP in the Angmar Awakened cycle has reached us, earning my rather arbitrary approval, and making me want to have another go at the Dunedain deck (although I really want to combine it with the still absent Saga-Faramir), Land of Shadow has finally upgraded to “shipping” which should mean it’s with us in a few weeks, and tonight, we will finally have our first proper Fellowship Event, as we go hunting for the murderer at the Prancing Pony.

Today’s article isn’t going to be a long one, just something to reassure you all that we’re still alive – I’ll do my best to get a Fellowship-Event review up next week, and get back to regular articles in the weeks following that.

For now, I thought I’d just share a few thoughts on the announcement article for the next cycle of Adventure packs, which went up today.

As mentioned in the previews for the Deluxe, there will be a lot in this new cycle around Corsairs and Ships, but the thing which has caught my eye this morning, are the new “pseudo duo-sphere” cards as Mat Newman has described them.

The article spoils 2 of these cards, a Spirit Event and a Leadership ally, and they both have a basic effect or ability in their home-sphere: Tides of fate is a zero-cost event which boosts a defender’s defence after a shadow has increased the attack of the attacking enemy, whilst Eldahir is a 4-cost Leadership ally, with moderate stats and Sentinel.

mec49-tides-of-fateWhere these cards get interesting though, is with their added extras. The defence boost from Tides of Fate can be helpful, but it is a bit passive, and aside from being free, it would look like an all-round worse card than Hasty Stroke, were it not for its unusual second power, which allows the players to spend 2 tactics resources to ready the defender and give them +3 attack for their next attack: aside from the level of multi-player interaction this encourages, it is also a great boost to characters like Aragorn or Theoden who have very high threat costs for a rounded set of stats which they can otherwise struggle to utilise.

mec49-eldahirEldahir’s 2 defence and 3 hit-points would once have been very respectable, but in the modern environment, he risks getting left behind. However, if you through in a bit of scrying, he can become a rather sturdier prospect: pay a Lore resource to look at a facedown shadow card dealt to an enemy engaged with a player, and if that card has a shadow effect, you can give him +2 defence for the rest of the phase. This can either be a way of scouting out the shadow effects before you declare defenders, of boosting his defence because you already know what that shadow card is, or even of deciding what you will use Gandalf’s Staff to discard (or whether to draw a card instead). The flexibility is great, and again, the action can be triggered by any player, which enhances the multi-player interaction.

I’ve said more than once that I think complexity in the game is growing, and this seems another sign that things aren’t going to change in that regard any time soon. However, I think this is really interesting direction for them to take things in, and I’m suddenly a lot more excited for what they tells us will be the “Dream-Chaser cycle.”

I’m hoping it’s going to be fairly active around here for the next few weeks, but in the meantime, if you’re hungry for more content, head over to Tales From the Cards, when Ian has recruited a whole new army of writers, for an absolute mountain of new content, and subscribe here or like the Facebook page to be kept up-to-date with goings on here.

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