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Card Spotlight: Strider’s Path

by on March 17, 2013

I’ve put a few different types of cards in the spotlight here at Tales from the Cards: hidden gems, perennial dust-collectors, and those whose value is passionately contested. In this edition, we’re looking at a card that is a little bit different, one that slipped through the cracks when it was released and always seems to escape my attention. That card is Strider’s Path. Why does Strider’s Path get strider's paththe short shrift? Is it because it is a forgettable, weak card, destined to prop up cold beverages throughout the land? Or is it a classic case of the dirty and worn visage of a Ranger disguising the lost heir of Isildur? Let’s find out.

Strider’s Path is a 1-cost Lore event with the following text:

Response: After a location is revealed from the encounter deck, immediately travel to that location without resolving its Travel effect. If another location is currently active, return it to the staging area.

Breaking it down, this card offers two main benefits. First, it allows you to travel to a location without incurring any negative travel effects. Second, since Strider’s Path is a response action that takes place during the quest phase, it allows you to move a location’s threat out of the staging area, helping with quest progress (of course, this is contingent upon there not being an active location already in place, as if there is one, then its threat will pop back into the staging area). When outlined this way, Strider’s Path seems like quite a useful card. It combines the threat-cancelling of Secret Paths, which I’m always carrying on about in this blog, with the ability to actually get the location out of the staging area. Isn’t this actually a better card than Secret Paths?

To answer that question requires the telling of the tale of Thror’s Map. Strider’s Path was released as part of The Hunt for Gollum AP, while Thror’s Map came out in the Over Hill and Under Hill box. This means that quite a stretch of time separated the two cards, but as soon as Thror’s Map was released, it immediately made Strider’s Path redundant. Thror’s Map is also from the Lore sphere and has the same cost as Strider’s Path, but is an attachment rather than an event, meaning that it can be used repeatedly (exhausted) to accomplish the exact same effect. Essentially, Thor’s Map relegated Strider’s Path to the dustbin. However, recent events have changed this situation. With the release of FFG’s newest FAQ (1.4), Thor’s Map has been errata’d so that it can only be used during the travel phase. This means that Stider’s Path now has a huge advantage in that it can still be used during the quest phase to remove a location and its threat from the staging area, while the Map is now only good for avoiding travel effects. Because of this change, I would even say that Strider’s Path is now the better card.

However, while the FAQ may have provided a new lease on life for Strider’s Path, this does not explan why it was seen as irrelevant by so many players (including myself) even before Thror’s Map was ever released. To explain this, we must understand that there are some real drawbacks to Strider’s Path:

1) If there is an active location, Strider’s Path is not effective as a way of reducing threat in the staging area during questing, as it will simply swap two locations (Of course, if the newly revealed location has a significantly higher threat than the active location, then Strider’s Path will have a meaningful effect.) In my opinion, this is the most important drawback to this card, and one reason why Secret Paths is a better choice in some situations.

2) Since the effect is a response, you have to make a decision on the spot when a location is revealed of whether or not to use it. In comparison, Secret Paths can be used during the action window right after staging, allowing you to make a decision informed by the whole picture (Of course, this is very dependent on how many players there are. If you are playing pure solo, then only one card will be revealed in most cases, so there is effectively no distinction between Secret Paths and Strider’s Path. On the other hand, with four players, there is a world of difference between deciding whether to play Strider’s Path after that first location is revealed when there are three more cards to come, compared to making a decision about playing Secret Paths after staging is completely done.)

3) Since Strider’s Path is dependent on the ability to travel, any quest card or encounter card effects that prevent travelling or stop an active location from being removed from its spot would render it useless. This also holds true for locations that are “immune to player card effects” (of course, a card like Secret Paths is equally ineffectual against immune locations).

Still, while these limitations do exist, they don’t completely negate the benefits that Strider’s Path provides. When it comes to a head-to-head battle against Secret Paths, both cards have their own particular pros and cons. Coming down to the final verdict, I have to say that I haven’t found any compelling reason to relegate Strider’s Path to an eternal destiny of collecting dust. On the contrary, it is a solid option for removing threat from the staging area during questing and avoiding travel effects, and for only 1 resource, it is definitely affordable. Personally, I will be replacing Secret Paths with Strider’s Path for a few games, just to see how it works out in practice. For now, I will say that while certainly not a game-changer, Strider’s Path is a hidden gem, especially in a post-FAQ 1.4 world.

Verdict: Gem

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9 Comments
  1. Thaddeus permalink

    Strider’s Path (and Secret Paths) I often slip a copy or two of in any deck with Lore as a “just in case” card. It doesn’t end up getting played very often though. I’ll always put it in any deck that includes Lore Aragorn though! 😀

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      Yeah, you would think Lore Aragorn could play it for free!

  2. scwont permalink

    I was only just starting to catch on to the power of Thror’s Map when it was errata’d, and have also been dabbling with Secret Paths and Radagast’s Cunning after ignoring (and underestimating) them for a long time. It does seem worthwhile to give Strider’s Path a chance to prove its worth as well.

    On the subject of errata, my copy of On the Doorstep arrived on the weekend and when browsing through the cards I was amused to read the flavour text on Thror’s key – a prophecy perhaps?
    “The key that went with the map! Try it now while there is still time!”

  3. TalesfromtheCards permalink

    Ha! Nice find with the Thror’s Key flavor text. I did use Thror’s Map quite a bit to beat Flies and Spiders before the errata came out, so I guess I did use my window of opportunity.

  4. joezimjs permalink

    Did you ever take the time to try it out for effectiveness? I would think a deck with Legolas and/or Blade of Gondolin would make decent use of this since the active location spot would be open more often during question phase.

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      Indeed I did. I’ve found that it’s a toss-up whether Secret Paths or Strider’s Path ends up being the better pick (and I usually can’t spare space for both, unless it’s one of each or something along those lines). Sometimes I just want to cancel threat but don’t want to actually travel to a location, and Secret Paths works better here, and sometimes I’m fine clearing it out to be the active location (Strider’s Path). I like Secret Paths because it is slightly more flexible, but Strider’s Path is a more permanent solution. Anyway, as you can tell, I’m highly conflicted, but at least I have found that Strider’s Path is quite a useful card.

  5. Raynor permalink

    There is a significant combo in Secret paths + Path of Need. Not a reliable combo due to path of need infrequency but both are effective alone so in combination with a good enough set of resource regen… or when two handing or multiplayer … well you can see where I am going here

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      I’ve always been a bit enamored with the idea of making Path of Need a viable deck strategy, but it always seems so inconsistent. I think it could be viable with a ton of card draw, maybe some Word of Command with Gandalf, and then something like Strider’s Path or Thror’s Map to keep Path of Need going for as long as possible. I hope to get around to trying it out someday and seeing if it’s truly possible to get running on a consistent basis.

  6. sweetnesswhachacha permalink

    This is definitely a card I have never used, simply due to deck space. However I recently started using 2 cards you really like, the one cost threat canceling lore events (one for enemy one for location) and since I see the value in those now perhaps I should try this as well!

    The thing with a lot of these utility cards however, and the ones i just mentioned, is that often they help you in the moment to get a quest bonus, and put off a problem for later, but could that card space and resource be used instead to have something that can actually deal with the enemy card? It’s definitely a balancing act, as these cards have given me the edge I need or that momentary respite that cam make all the difference between winning and losing. Hmmm…

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