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Deck Building 101: Healing

by on August 23, 2013

healing_faramir

Today marks the (hopefully) triumphant return of the Deck Building 101 series. I conceived of this series as an aid for players who were new to the game, aiming to provide a guide to introductory concepts and strategies. So far, I have explored deck abilities, built a sample deck using only Core Set cards, and spent quite a bit of time exploring mono-sphere decks. Now, I’m continuing the Deck Building 101 series with a collection of new bite-sized articles, each one focusing on a particular deck ability/effect. The idea is to create small, digestible articles that can quickly provide the kind of card knowledge and awareness that more experienced players take for granted. In particular, for each deck ability/effect, I will be providing an overview of the existing options in the game, the costs/benefits of each, and the potential combinations that suggest themselves. First up, we’re going to take a look at healing.

Introduction

Healing refers to any card effects that remove damage from characters. As an ability, this is one that is not necessarily integral in the same way as resource generation or card draw. In other words, you can get away with completely omitting healing effects from your deck(s), at least against certain scenarios. However, this is not to say that healing is useless, far from it. Healing is not only a means of enabling your characters to weather the hazards of combat longer than they would otherwise, it also is an indirect means of treachery/shadow cancellation, in that it can remove direct damage dealt by the encounter deck. Furthermore, with the recent proliferation of archery, encounter deck direct damage, and tougher and tougher enemies, it has become a common question for players to ask each other, “Got any healing in  your deck?”. With this in mind, it is important to consider which healing effects best fit your particular needs, and how much you should include of each. Healing will not win you any games by itself, but it can facilitate the long-term survival of characters on the board, thus enabling the preservation and steady build up of action advantage.

Options

Daughter of the Nimrodel (Lore Ally, 3 cost, 1 willpower, 0 attack, 0 defense, 1 hit point) [Core Set]

Action: Exhaust Daughter of the Nimrodel to heal up to 2 damage on any 1 heromed_daughter-of-the-nimrodel-core

The benefit of this healing option is that it is endlessly repeatable (as long as the Daughter is in play), and can heal 2 damage at once. There are quite a few drawbacks to this healing option though: it is high cost (3 resources), it is limited to heroes, and it can only affect 1 character at a time. The ally you get is also fairly worthless beyond its healing ability as well (granted, you get 1 willpower, but that’s not much for 3 resources).

Pros: Repeatable, fairly powerful (2 damage healed at once), provides 1 willpower or a chump blocker when not healing

Cons: Expensive (3 resources), healing effect limited to heroes, vulnerable (only 1 hit point)

Combines well with… Elrond (now you can heal 3 damage on 1 hero), Gloin (can enable his resource engine), any hero who defends often

Use if… You anticipate most of your healing needs being restricted to one hero, and you anticipate that hero consistently taking damage throughout the game. You want to turn one hero into a “tank” or damage soak.

Warden of Healing (Lore Ally, 2 cost, 1 willpower, 0 attack, 1 defense, 1 hit point) [The Long Dark]

Action: Exhaust Warden of Healing to heal 1 damage on up to 2 different characters. Then, you may pay 2 Lore resources to ready med_warden-of-healing-tldWarden of Healing.

There are quite a few benefits to this healing option, the primary one being that it is repeatable as long as the Warden is in play. It avoids the main drawbacks of the Daughter of the Nimrodel, as the Warden is relatively low cost (2 resources), can be applied to any character (not just heroes), and can heal 2 characters at once. The other useful aspect of the Warden is that you can pay 2 resources to immediately ready him, allowing multiple uses of the healing effect when you really need it. Of course, this healing is not as potent as the Daughter (1 damage healed vs. 2 damage healed), but over the long run it is more versatile and flexible.

Pros: Repeatable, decent cost (2 resources), can be applied to any character, can heal 2 characters at once, can be used multiple times per round (if you can pay for it)

Cons: Heals only 1 damage at a time, vulnerable (only 1 hit point)

Combines well with… Elrond (now you can heal 2 damage on 2 different characters)

Use if… You are simply looking to add some general-purpose, flexible healing to your deck. You are facing a scenario with archery and direct damage from the encounter deck that will be spread out amongst different characters.

* Silvan Tracker (Lore Ally, 3 cost, 1 willpower, 1 attack, 1 defense, 3 hit points) [The Dead Marshes]

Response: After a Silvan character readies during the refresh phase, heal 1 damage from that character.med_silvan-tracker-tdm

This is a healing effect that is very narrowly limited to Silvan characters. However, the benefit is that it is automatic healing that occurs as long as a Silvan character readies during the refresh phase (meaning that a Silvan character needs to exhaust at some point during a round to take advantage of this healing). This is a powerful effect in that it can theoretically heal every character on the board, as long as they are all Silvan. Herein lies the rub, as there aren’t a ton of Silvan characters around at the moment, so this is strictly a theoretical matter, but you can set up some tentative Silvan healing synergy that is quite effective.

Pros: Automatic healing (characters simply have to ready to activate it), applies to multiple characters at once, resilient (3 hit points), you also get a decent ally

Cons: Restricted to Silvan trait, can’t be activated at will (only during refresh phase)

Combines well with… Elrond (now Silvan characters heal 2 damage when they ready), Haldir of Lorien, Legolas, Lorien Guide, Mirkwood Runner, Mirlonde, other copies of Silvan Tracker

Use if… You are planning on using several Silvan characters or one of the Silvan heroes. You are facing a scenario with archery/direct damage and want to use Silvan characters as a damage soak.

* Radagast (Neutral Ally, 5 cost, 2 willpower, 1 attack, 1 defense, 3 hit points) [A Journey To Rhosgobel]

Action: Spend X resources from Radagast’s pool to heal X wounds on any 1 Creature.med_radagast-ajtr

This is another narrow healing effect, as it can only be applied to Creatures. The main drawback of Radagast is that he costs so much to get on the board. 5 resources is a significant investment in any ally, and the result is that Radagast rarely hits the table in most decks nowadays. However, the nice thing about Radagast’s ability is that you can tailor it to take care of just as much damage as you need. For the curious, currently the Creature allies consist of the Eagles and The Riddermark’s Finest. However, both the Winged Guardian and Vassal of the Windlord only have 1 hit point, so they can’t benefit from Radagast’s ability.

Pros: Pay for what you need, resilient (3 hit points), you also get a decent ally who can help pay for playing Creatures

Cons: Extremely expensive (5 resources + the cost of healing), limited to Creatures

Combines well with… Elrond, Eagles of the Misty Mountains, Descendant of Thorondor, Landroval, The Riddermark’s Finest

Use if… You are running a deck that centers around Eagles of the Misty Mountains and/or Landroval. You want Radagast’s ability to pay for Creatures as well.

* Healing Herbs (Lore Attachment, 0 cost) [Foundations of Stone]

Action: Discard Healing Herbs and exhaust attached hero to heal all damage on 1 hero.med_healing-herbs-fos

The major benefit of Healing Herbs is that it can heal all damage on a single hero, and is thus only limited by the amount of damage that needs to be healed. Another great aspect of Healing Herbs is that it is absolutely free in terms of cost. However, there is the real cost of having to exhaust not just a character, but a hero. Perhaps the best option that suggests itself in the Lore sphere is Fast Hitch along with a Hobbit hero (Bilbo for now; Pippin in the upcoming Black Riders expansion), but of course any other readying abilities are helpful as well. This attachment compares directly with Lore of Imladris.

Pros: Free, heals all damage (on 1 hero)

Cons: Requires exhausting a hero, can be discarded by encounter card effects that target attachments, healing limited to heroes and to 1 character, disposable

Combines well with… Fast Hitch, Unexpected Courage, Cram, any other readying effects

Use if… You anticipate having a free hero available now and then or easily accessible readying effects. You anticipate most damage being contained to 1 or 2 heroes.

* Lore of Imladris (Lore Event, 2 cost) [Core Set]

Action: Choose a character. Heal all damage from that character.med_lore-of-imladris-core

This event is useful in that it can completely heal all damage from any character (unless it is immune to player card effects, like the hero version of Beorn). The main drawback is that the cost of 2 resources, while reasonable, is a bit of an ask in the resource-intensive Lore sphere. Comparing Lore of Imladris to Healing Herbs, this event is obviously more expensive in terms of resources but does have the advantage of not requiring the exhaustion of any heroes, or characters at all, for that matter. Which one is better for you will depend on your deck and overall strategy.

Pros: Heals all damage on 1 character, can be applied to both allies and heroes, doesn’t require exhausting any characters to use

Cons: A tad expensive (2 resources), limited to just 1 character, disposable

Combines well with… Good Meal (throw this attachment on a Lore Hobbit Hero and you can play Lore of Imladris for free!)

Use if… You would rather spend resources than have to worry about exhausting a hero (as with Healing Herbs). You anticipate most damage being contained to 1 or 2 characters. You have a big, strong ally that you might want to worry about healing instead of or in addition to a hero.

Self Preservation (Lore Attachment, 3 cost) [Core Set]

Action: Exhaust Self Preservation to heal 2 points of damage from attached character.med_self-preservation-core

This is essentially a Daughter of the Nimrodel that attaches to a particular character. The benefit of this approach is that unlike the Daughter, this is not an ally, so it can’t be destroyed by treacheries or other encounter card effects (however, it is vulnerable to encounter card effects that discard attachments). Self Preservation has gradually faded away from player decks, mainly because of its expensive cost of 3, however it still has its uses, particularly to facilitate the use of one character as a “tank”.

Pros: Repeatable, resilient (can only be destroyed by attachment-hating encounter card effects), fairly powerful (heals 2 damage at once), can be attached to an ally or hero

Cons: Limited to 1 character, expensive (3 resources)

Combines well with… Elrond (now Self Preservation heals 3 damage), Gloin (makes him into a resource engine), any hero who defends often

Use if… You anticipate most of your healing needs being restricted to one character, and you anticipate that character consistently taking damage throughout the game. You want to turn one character into a “tank” or damage soak.

* Beorn’s Hospitality (Lore Event, 5 cost) [Core Set]

Action: Choose a player. Heal all damage on each hero controlled by that player.med_beorns-hospitality-core

Most of the spheres have a dramatic 5-cost event that is designed to swing for the fences (Leadership has Grim Resolve, for example, which readies all characters in play). In this case, Lore’s 5-cost event, Beorn’s Hospitality, heals all damage on all heroes controlled by one player. This is an effect that sounds awesome in theory but is fairly underwhelming in practice. Certainly there are scenarios and circumstances where you end up with damage on all your heroes, but generally I find it is better practice to use repeatable healing, like that provided by Warden of Healing, to keep damage from piling up or to slowly erode it, rather than to blow 5 resources on Beorn’s Hospitality.

Pros: Potent (heals all damage on all heroes controlled by 1 player), heals multiple characters at once

Cons: Prohibitively expensive (5 resources), limited to heroes

Combines well with… Good Meal (lowers the cost of this event to 3)

Use if… You anticipate having a wealth of resources available. You are facing a scenario with tons of tough enemies, direct damage, and archery and want an emergency escape plan. You like blowing money in a dramatic fashion.

* Glorfindel (Lore Hero, 12 threat, 3 willpower, 3 attack, 1 defense, 5 hit points) [Core Set]

Action: Pay 1 resource from Glorfindel’s pool to heal 1 damage on any character (Limit once per round.)med_glorfindel-core

Lore Glorfindel hasn’t been much in fashion since his Spirit counterpart was released, but the fact remains that he is still currently the only hero with healing powers (yes, Elrond enhances healing, but he cannot do any healing on his own). For the cost of 1 resource, you may heal 1 damage on any character in play. This is a flexible effect, in that it can be applied to anyone, but is fairly expensive over the long term and is limited to being used only once per round. With other, better healing effects now in the game, Lore Glorfindel is perhaps not the best option, but he does help in scenarios that feature bucket loads of archery and/or direct damage.

Pros: Don’t have to draw a card to use, flexible (can be applied to any character), can pay for exactly what you need

Cons: Limited to once per round, expensive (1 resource per damage healed), takes up a hero slot

Combines well with… Elrond (now each resource nets 2 damage healed)

Use if… You want guaranteed healing in the early rounds of the game. You are facing a scenario that can deal tons of damage and need some extra healing help.

* Elrond (Lore Hero, 13 threat, 3 willpower, 2 attack, 3 defense, 4 hit points) [Shadow and Flame]

Response: After a character is healed by another card effect, heal 1 damage on it.med_elrond-saf

Elrond does not providing any healing by himself, but he is superb at enhancing other healing effects. For example, with Elrond in play, suddenly the Warden of Healing can heal 2 damage on 2 different characters, rather than 1 damage on 2 different characters. If the Silvan Tracker is in play, then Silvan characters will heal 2 damage when they ready, rather than just 1, and so on. As such, it is always worth considering using Elrond if you are planning on making healing a central focus of your deck.

Pros: Combines with other healing effects, don’t have to draw a card to use, free extra healing

Cons: Takes up a hero slot, doesn’t heal anything on its own/needs to be combined with other healing effects

Combines well with… Daughter of the Nimrodel, Warden of Healing, Silvan Tracker, Radagast, Self Preservation, Glorfindel

Use if… You are going to make healing a major focus of your deck. You like Elrond’s other abilities and his healing enhancement is a nice bonus.

Final Recommendations

For my money, taking into account cost, pros/cons, and flexibility, the Warden of Healing is the best healing effect in the game (especially with Elrond in play). However, this is not to say that the other healing effects don’t have a place. Healing Herbs is a card that doesn’t get a great deal of attention, but it can be quite useful as it doesn’t cost any resources, which is huge for Lore. Self Preservation and Gloin is an old-fashioned combo that still can be quite useful under the right circumstances to generate resources, particularly in multiplayer when there is only one Steward of Gondor available. The Silvan Tracker/Elrond combination was quite useful for me against the archery extravaganza that was The Druadan Forest, and it may prove handy once again in the future. As you can see, options certainly abound when it comes to healing.

With this bit of card knowledge now under your belt, hopefully you will feel well prepared to make thoughtful decisions about which healing effects to include in your decks and in what quantities. As the Deck Building 101 series continues, we will next take a look at card draw.

 

 

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18 Comments
  1. I love Warden of Healing with Elrond. You rarely need any more than that unless he takes too long to come out of the deck. I think the fact that he can be a 1WP quester on turns when you don’t need the healing is his biggest benefit over attachments and events (other than the repeatability).

  2. Glaurung permalink

    Warden of Healing is broken card. Need errata as Beravur. He is too
    powerful by himself but with Elrond is crazy broken.
    For example if you play Druadan Forest and you have this guy in your starting hand this mean you win the game 90%. This is a bit stupid in my opinion. Make game very predictable and lose feelings of danger and exiting adventure become boring walk in the park.

  3. Nusse permalink

    Healing herbs can heal anybody, not just heroes. I think it’s a versatile, easy to use card. And it combines well with Erebor Hammersmith too

    On the other hand, it can only be attached on Lore heroes.

  4. I really like ol’ Radagast and I want to see him get some more utility. Maybe the Isengard expansion will bring us some more Mount creatures and make him a little more useful. He is cost-prohibitive, though I like the idea of Elrond putting him in the show for free.

    • Landroval permalink

      Asfaloth was a Mount but not a creature. Personally, i suspect they came up with the ‘Mount’ keyword to avoid making radagast overly combinable/powerful.

      Beorn + Radagast + Landroval is not a bad healing effect for tactics decks, given radagast’s ability to quest, Landroval’s to absord damage and heal 9 damage from Beorn when he dies.

  5. Nusse permalink

    BTW, if you have Elrond and Radagast in play, can you spend 0 resource from Radagast and heal a creature for 1 point?

  6. faith_star83 permalink

    Very nice article, thank you very much, Beorn! I love this sort of overview of particular effects that disucss all current cards briefly, since it is a very helpful resource for deckbuilding. I am really happy you do this and am already looking forward to the next installment of the 101 Deckbuilding series.

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      Sorry, but the blogger you are looking for is in another castle. Beorn is over at the Hall of Beorn blog. No worries though, he’s a friend of mine, and produces awesome content! In any case, thanks for the praise, and I’m glad you’re finding the Deck Building 101 series useful. The card draw installment should be out soon!

      • faith_star83 permalink

        wah, that is so embarrassing! sorry, sorry! as you may have noticed by now, I am an avid reader of both, your blog and Beorn’s! I am glad you are friends with him and hopefully can forgive my faux-pas here. The praise was intended to be for you after all 😉

        cheers!

      • TalesfromtheCards permalink

        Don’t worry about it, it happens! Thanks for reading!

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