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6th AP Announced: The Morgul Vale

by on April 2, 2013

The day after April Fool’s has brought great news to the LOTR LCG faithful, as FFG has released their latest announcement/spoiler article. The final Adventure Pack in the Against the Shadow cycle will see our heroes headed to the gates of Mordor for a relaxing vaca…ah, I mean epic battle. More importantly, we have a new hero revealed, and it is none other than the King of Rohan: Theoden son of Thengel. Fortunately, this is an active and energetic incarnation of Theoden, not under the influence of Wormtongue’s ill counsel.

As far as game abilities go, Theoden seems designed to boost the fortunes of mono-Tactics decks. While theodenhe is in play, all heroes with a printed Tactics icon get +1 to their willpower, so obviously you want to maximize the number of Tactics heroes you are using if you want to get the most out of this ability. I find this to be very thematic, as one of the most remarkable features of Theoden in the books was his ability to inspire loyalty and courage in his people (two elements of the willpower stat in this game). Of course, it might make more sense if he gave a boost to Rohan heroes or characters, but since that trait already has a ton of willpower, he functions better as a means to remedy one of the biggest weaknesses of the Tactics sphere. Note that his ability does work on himself, so Theoden actually has 3 willpower, which is mightily impressive. Beyond this self-buffing, imagine a Thalin who can quest for 2 (3 if Dain is also in play somewhere) or any of the Tactics heroes who have a printed willpower of 2 (Gimli, Bard, Brand, etc.) being able to quest for 3. If you have both Theoden and Dain in play (we may end up saying that often in the future), then Gimli can quest for 4. Move over Eowyn! Unfortunately, Theoden’s ability does not boost Tactics allies, only heroes, but even as written it still will definitely be useful.

Besides Theoden, there was also a new Spirit attachment spoiled in the article, Steed of the Mark, which attaches to a Gondor or Rohan hero and essentially turns them into a Core Aragorn (can spend 1 resource to ready after committing to a quest). This is certainly a decent ability, and I’m a huge fan of readying effects, but I can’t help but feel like there is a bit of a sphere mis-match here. Spirit already has some great readying options (Unexpected Courage, Miruvor, Spare Hood and Cloak, Light of Valinor) while Tactics could sorely use some. In addition, with Theoden being part of Tactics, shouldn’t the Steed of the Mark share his sphere? Still, this is a decent card that may become better if we ever get some mount/horse synergy.

It will be quite awhile before Theoden makes his appearance on our tables, and it’ll be difficult to wait patiently, but I’m definitely looking forward to The Morgul Vale. The quest itself seems intriguing, with a chance to tangle with yet another Nazgul (in this case, one that you can only put 1 damage on per turn). Bring on The Steward’s Fear so we can get this cycle started!



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  1. I agree, Theoden’s ability is definitely good. I think they excluded allies because they have learned their lesson from how Dain’s ability is almost too good. As much as it would have fit thematically, the Rohan trait (outside of Tactics) didn’t need the help on willpower anyway, so this ability is much-welcomed. I can tell that there will be an emphasis in the upcoming cycle on mono-sphere decks and Theoden seems like a great choice for that, particularly if they ever give Tactics a way to ready characters (I too wish the Steed had been a tactics attachment). In any case, it’s great that they’ve spoiled the whole cycle now, they just need to hurry up and start releasing the cards already! There are only so many ways for a bear to slice the same loaf of bread…

  2. shipprekk permalink

    I hadn’t really thought about ol’ Théoden King buffing other player’s heroes! Things could get massive with Rohan on one side and dwarves on the other (Háma/Théoden/Éowyn and Gimli/Thalin/Dáin [or Oin?]).

    Supposing we see some more Gondor heroes with good synergy in the cycle then Gondor/Rohan decks and Mutual Accord could become very, very powerful.

  3. Beorn understates Dain a bit as he is pretty much broken. He is of course really strong but its the way he affects every other dwarf character designed now & forever that is bust. If ever a hero should have a threat premium it’s him (14 would be a start).

    So Theoden has balanced stats ie 3 decent abilities you cannot use all at once & he pays the threat for the +1 he gives himself. Further he buffs the questing tactics heroes – not much of a buff solo & in multiplayer do you really want to buff the tactics guys who are likely to be the ones best doing something else? I guess he is OK with Boromir or if 2 people really like tactics.

    The Steed is OK but totally out classed by Unexpected Courage so you only use it if you already have 3 of them in your deck (or only 1 core set..) This highlights a problem that the core set had with unconditional powerful cards like UC also A Test of Will, Feint & others. They do a job that always needs doing & do it well such that new cards that situationally do essentially the same thing just don’t find deck space. Swift (or is it quick) Strike & Behind Strong Walls(sic?) are both functionally Feint with drawbacks most of the time though once in a blue moon they will do something more.

    Given my much earlier comments – that new Nazghul is one enemy where Dwarrowdelf Axe is strictly superior to the other weapons 😉 Dwarfs needing the assist ….

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      Well, one of the reasons I like Theoden is because he is well-designed and not overpowered, if that makes sense. I don’t think he is in the pantheon of elite heroes like Dain, Elrond, and Spirit Glorfindel, but he does have a solid ability and set of stats that will fit into certain decks and play-styles. In others, he will feel underwhelming. For some players, they want their Tactics decks to be all combat, all the time (at least in multiplayer). Obviously, that makes sense and that is the biggest strength of Tactics to be sure, but I tend to like my decks to have at least some measure of versatility, and I think Theoden is tailored for a player like me. With him in play, Tactics decks can provide a bit more questing power and perhaps push forward with just that extra progress needed to advance that players wouldn’t have otherwise. In terms of pure solo play, I think mono-sphere Tactics will still struggle against non-HoN quests, even with Theoden in play, but I imagine this is only one step in that direction (that already spoiled card that lets characters treat attack as willpower is another).

      I agree with your comment about the Core Set cards like UC, Feint, Test of Will, etc. They are pretty much the perfect cards for their particular ability, and I find it hard to imagine how the designers can create cards that supersede them without being immensely overpowered. Perhaps those cards are meant to be the basic elements of decks, and everything that comes after are the flourishes, but still it will be interesting to see how this is handled as the game grows.

      Finally, your comment about the Dwarrowdelf Axe is spot on. While that new Nazgul is immune to the big Gimli-swats, a bunch of direct damage effects will make short work of it.

  4. The only thing that really irks me about Theoden is that he pays a threat premium on his abilities. I would rather have heroes like him than another Dain. One good use for him might be in the HoN quests where the different stages have different types & he can help in all & especially with the one tactics is worst at. An extra couple of willpower can be very useful in the stages that are not battle or quest. He is weighted to MP I feel & I mostly solo which doesn’t help my opinion.

  5. sweetnesswhachacha permalink

    Great art, thematic ability, great utility card, but first reaction to his ability is lukewarm. If you play the standard one deck quests and one deck fights it us a bit of a head scratcher.

    He is great for this cycle though as you could feasibly do all 3 types of questing with the same deck pretty well.

    A 3 willpower tactics hero (or any hero) is pretty exciting, but odd when you will probably be fighting more instead of questing. So if I was a true solo player this would be more exciting. I’ll have to try him out

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