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The Morgul Vale: Attachments Review

by on December 4, 2013

The allies and hero of The Morgul Vale pack have learned their fate, but there are still plenty of cards left to review. If there can be said to be one area of focus for this expansion, it would have to be the attachments, as there are four of them in total, and each is an arguably powerful addition to the game. However, all that is gold does not glitter, and sometimes the shiniest of toys can be deeply flawed upon further inspection. We’ll have to dig deep to figure out the truth here, and determine how well The Morgul Vale fills the shoes of its illustrious forebears, as final cycle packs have tended to contain the most powerful cards.

ATTACHMENTS

* Visionary Leadership (Leadership Attachment, 2 cost):

As of the time of this writing, Visionary Leadership leads the TftC poll regarding favorite Morgul Vale card. It’s easy to see why, as this attachment has a clearly powerful effect:

Attach to a Gondor hero. 

While attached hero has at least 1 resource in its resource pool, Gondor characters get +1 Willpower.

I’ll get the obvious out of the way first: this is a strong attachment and a must-have for any Gondor deck. In fact, I would argue that Visionary Leadership makes a Gondor deck truly viable for the first time, at least as a pure solo build. While Gondor allies are relatively solid in combat, especially with the aid of Leadership Boromir’s attack buff, they have been weak in the willpower department (with three notable exceptions: Faramir, Denethor, and the Pelargir Shipwright). Even looking at Gondor’s heroes, none of them exceed 2 willpower. All of this makes it tough to construct a Gondor deck that can both quest and fight, and this glaring deficiency has finally been rectified with the help of this attachment.

Now that the obvious has been stated, let’s examine just how powerful Visionary Leadership is, as well as some possible uses. The first temptation is probably to throw this attachment onto Leadership Boromir and turn him into the Gondorian version of Dain. Just how well does this Leadermir/Visionary Leadership combination fare in a direct comparison with the Dwarven King? On the one hand, you have a hero (Dain) with a built-in attack and willpower boost to all Dwarven characters, whether they are allies or heroes. However, he does have a weak point in that he must be ready for his ability to work, which means you either have to hold him back from participating in questing and combat or include a readying attachment or two in your deck. On the other side of the equation, the Leadermir/Visionary Leadership combination requires you to first draw the attachment and then pay 2 resources for it, meaning that is inherently more inconsistent than Dain. The positive here is that Boromir doesn’t need to be ready, instead requiring only a single resource in his pool to activate (which is a lower barrier to use than having a ready character, in most cases at least). Once everything is set up, then all Gondor characters get the willpower boost, while only Gondor allies get the attack boost, which makes this combination slightly inferior to Dain in terms of a strict comparison of buffs.

Still, not everything can be Dain, and Visionary Leadership certainly has some powerful applications. Note that it doesn’t even need to be attached to Boromir, as it can be placed on any Gondor hero if you are simply interesting in the willpower boost and not the attack boost. While the extra willpower for allies can certainly have a large impact, I’m particularly intrigued by the possibilities it opens up for Gondor heroes. Suddenly, Caldara doesn’t seem like such a bad deal after all, as you would be getting a 3 willpower hero for only 8 threat. Prince Imrahil becomes even stronger than he was before, as since he can often both quest and engage in combat due to his readying effect, having 3 willpower certainly comes in handy. Imagine the possibilities with Tactics Boromir, who can use his readying ability to both quest with 2 willpower and also fight (right now, it usually isn’t worth it to commit him to a quest with only 1 willpower). Throw Theoden onto the table somewhere, and Tactics Boromir could quest for an amazing 3! This just scratches the surfaces of the possibilities that are out there, but don’t forget that Steward of Gondor kindly grants the Gondor trait to any hero to which it is attached, meaning that they would benefit from Visionary Leadership as well.

Altogether, Visionary Leadership is a fine attachment and a clear candidate for one of the strongest cards in the cycle. When coupled with some of the other willpower boosting options available in the sphere (Sword that was Broken, Faramir, Celebrian’s Stone, etc.), this attachment raises Leadership to a whole new level of questing potency. The cost of 2 is certainly fair for the power Visionary Leadership provides (an argument could be made that it’s actually under-costed), and, as previously mentioned, its main vulnerability is that it has to be drawn first to be used (which can be said about everything except hero abilities). Against quests that feature intense resource hate, Visionary Leadership might also struggle, as it requires 1 resource in a hero’s pool to operate. Finally, obviously the versatility of this card is limited by the fact that it only boosts the willpower of characters with a certain trait. Still, this is perhaps the first card to really make building a Gondor deck seem exciting, and it is valuable on that basis alone.

Versatility: ♦♦◊◊◊

Efficiency: ♦♦♦♦♦

Uniqueness: ♦♦♦◊◊

* Spear of the Mark (Tactics Attachment, 1 cost):

A new weapon for player arsenals in this game is always a cause for celebration. Of course, any such additions will inevitably be compared to its fellows, but Spear of the Mark is notable in the way that it encourages and facilitates staging area assaults:

Attach to a Rohan character. Restricted. 

Attached character gets +1 Attack. (+2 Attack instead if attacking an enemy in the staging area).

The Spear of the Mark is also the first weapon to be exclusive to the Rohan trait. This makes perfect sense as Dunhere, the lone hero that has the innate ability to attack the staging area, is a Rohan hero. It also is a logical fit from a thematic perspective, as cavalry forces wielding long spears, which is what the Rohan army is all about, should emphasize the ability to attack enemies from a longer range than others. However, an inherent limitation to this weapon is the fact that there are still only a few options for attacking the staging area outside of Dunhere (Hands Upon the Bow, Great Yew Bow, and the newly released Forth Eorlingas!).

Leaving aside these limitations for a moment, there are certainly some intriguing possibilities presented by the Spear of the Mark. Most obviously, attaching the Spear to Dunhere can allow him to attack the staging area alone for an attack strength of 5. Since there is no limit per character (just the “restricted” keyword), you can throw two copies on Dunhere to pump him up to 7. If you don’t want to use Dunhere, then the other possibility is to attach the Great Yew Bow to a Rohan hero of your choice. The problem is that there are currently no Rohan heroes with the “ranged” keyword, which means that none can use the Great Yew Bow (since the requirement is for a printed “ranged” keyword, something like Dunedain Cache won’t work here). What you would have to do is use Nor Am I A Stranger to give someone like Legolas or Bard the Bowman the Rohan trait. However, I’m a bit dubious about needing three cards to make a combo work (Great Yew Bow, Nor Am I A Stranger, and the Spear itself), although Bard’s -2 defense reduction combined with the Spear’s bonus would certainly be tempting. I also don’t think Spear of the Mark would be worth inclusion if you only plan on using it through the means of a special event, like Forth Eorlingas!. More adventurous players might experiment with recycling that event through Hama and/or the Book of Eldacar to enable a Rohan hero other than Dunhere to consistently benefit from the Spear, but currently that is probably a more niche usage. It also is possible to attach the Spear of the Mark to the Horseback Archer, since the Spear can be used by allies and the Archer has the Rohan trait. Then, Hands Upon the Bow could allow the Horseback Archer with a Spear of the Mark to attack the staging area for 5. This would be fantastic for those who want to experiment with powering up allies, but it suffers from the same problem as the Great Yew Bow/Nor Am I A Stranger/Spear of the Mark combo: too many steps in the process to work consistently and quickly enough to be meaningful. You could also create an even more intricate combination with attaching Nor Am I A Stranger to an ally with ranged, but as none of them have a higher attack value than Horseback Archer, so it’s really not worth the effort.

This means that right now Spear of the Mark is really mainly a toy for Dunhere. Readers should not interpret this as a slight though, as other heroes have attachments that work best (or only) for them. When Dunhere is equipped with one or two copies of Spear of the Mark, along with a readying effect like Unexpected Courage, he can be a devastating force. One question that emerges is whether the Dagger of Westernesse makes Spear of the Mark slightly redundant. Both weapons provide a base bonus of +1 attack. However, the Dagger gives a +2 bonus for attacking an enemy with a higher threat than your engagement cost. Presumably, if you are attacking an enemy in the staging area during the combat phase, then that enemy must have a higher engagement cost, otherwise it would have engaged you during the encounter phase. Thus, the Dagger seems to have more flexibility, as it can seemingly provide bonuses whenever the Spear would, and can also help if you choose to optionally engage an enemy with a higher engagement cost as well. However, there are certain exceptions where this is not the case. Enemies with an equal or higher engagement cost than your threat may be trapped in the staging area due to the effects on a location or quest card, or with the help of player card effects such as Spirit Pippin, A Light in the Dark, Advance Warning, and Fresh Tracks. If these special situations are likely or you are designing specifically with them in mind, then Spear of the Mark might be the better play, otherwise Dagger of Westernesse is probably better. Of course, there is also the possibility of dramatically upping the consistency of your Dunhere Death from Above deck by including 3 copies of both weapons, meaning that your chance of drawing at least one in your opening hand will also be much better. Any additional copies beyond the two that can be placed on Dunhere could be doled out to other heroes. Obviously this would take up valuable deck space, but it might be worth it.

If we get more ranged Rohan characters in the future, and perhaps another character that can attack the staging area (which could make Nor Am I A Stranger a really useful card), then the value of Spear of the Mark will certainly increase. Until then, it does breathe new life into the Dunhere deck, although Dagger of Westernesse steals some of its thunder.

Versatility: ♦◊◊◊◊

Efficiency: ♦♦♦♦◊

Uniqueness: ♦♦♦◊◊

Steed of the Mark (Spirit Attachment, 1 cost):

Solidifying its reputation as the “Rohan pack”, The Morgul Vale includes a brand new mount attachment. After all, what self-respecting hero of Rohan leaves home without his (or her) faithful steed? Steed of the Mark is an attachment that essentially grants Leadership Aragorn’s ability to any Gondor or Rohan hero:

Attach to a Gondor or Rohan hero.   

Response: After attached hero commits to a quest, spend 1 resource from attached hero’s resource pool to ready attached hero.

A player’s evaluation of the utility of this ability will doubtless depend on how they feel about Leadership Aragorn. There are likely some who would argue that having to pay 1 resource each turn for this readying effect makes it too costly, and inferior to other readying options. However, even a couple years removed from the release of the Core Set, I still use Leadership Aragorn quite frequently, and find his ability to be continually useful. In my opinion, action advantage is always worth the cost, and being able to use a hero with strong stats for both questing and combat is invaluable.

So which heroes are good candidates for Steed of the Mark? Theoden is the most natural fit, both because he appears in the same pack and because it makes sense that you would want to be able to take advantage of both his strong willpower (3), and his strong attack and defense. Beyond Theoden, there actually aren’t a ton of intriguing options, as 8 out of 13 of the existing Gondor/Rohan heroes have only 1 willpower (0 in the case of Beregond). Theodred makes for a slightly intriguing option, as the Steed would allow him to finally be able to both use his resource generation ability (which is based on committing to the quest) and his attack of 2. This would make for a nice fit with one of my favorite decks, the mono-Leadership Imrahil/Aragorn/Theodred build, but it would necessitate finding a way to pay for a Spirit card (Celebrian’s Stone is a possibility). Even better, Theodred can also generate resources for himself to use to pay for the Steed’s ability each turn. Beyond Theodred, Eowyn has high willpower, but isn’t much use in combat, so she isn’t a good target. Perhaps the best recipient outside Theoden is Faramir, as he has a strong willpower of 2, has an ability based around engaging in combat, and comes from a sphere (Lore) without many readying effects. Of course, this also necessitates pairing him with a Spirit hero or finding a way to bring in a Spirit icon.

In fact, this is one of the primary weaknesses of Steed of the Mark: its sphere. In some way, Spirit is the logical home of this mount, as that is the sphere which is most dedicated to readying effects. On the other hand, this also means that the Steed faces competition from similar cards in the sphere. If it would have been a Tactics attachment, then it would have worked perfectly in conjunction with Theoden, while placing it in Leadership would have made a great deal of sense since this attachment is resource-intensive (that’s the same reason why the original Aragorn is in the Leadership sphere after all). I can understand not wanting to dilute the distinctiveness of the spheres and I generally support that goal, but it does mean that the Steed of the Mark suffers a bit from comparison with its fellows (Unexpected Courage primarily, but not exclusively).

However, I wouldn’t go so far as to say that this card is made obsolete by Unexpected Courage nor would I discard it as useless. I do think it can certainly play a role given that not every player has multiple Core Sets (there is only one copy of U.C. in the base game). Even with 3 copies of the best readying effect around, Steed of the Mark can still play a part if you are looking to maximize the availability or increase the consistency of readying effects in your deck, and its low initial cost of 1 is attractive. Pairing a Steed of the Mark riding hero with Theodred can allow for easy payment of its continual cost, just as it does with Leadership Aragorn. If further mount attachments and/or cards that synergize with mounts are published in the near future, then the value of the Steed of the Mark will surely increase. This seems likely given that the Voice of Isengard expansion is taking us to Rohan very soon.

Versatility: ♦♦◊◊◊

Efficiency: ♦♦♦♦◊

Uniqueness: ♦♦◊◊◊

Scroll of Isildur (Lore Attachment, 1 cost):

What began with the Book of Eldacar now comes to a close with the Scroll of Isildur. Each sphere has now received a tome, book, map, or scroll that works best with mono-sphere decks to recycle event cards. All of them work in the same fashion, and the Scroll of Isildur is no exception:

Attach to a Lore hero.   

Reduce the cost to play Scroll of Isildur by 1 for each hero you control with a printed Lore resource icon.

Action: Discard Scoll of Isildur to play any Lore event card in your discard pile as if it were in your hand. Then, place that event on the bottom of your deck.

Because three of these records have previously been seen and reviewed here, the main question I’ll concern myself with is how the Scroll of Isildur functions within the Lore sphere, and how it compares to the other spheres’ versions of this effect. First, I will say that the Scroll of Isildur is certainly welcome from the perspective that Lore hasn’t previously had a means available for recycling events. Second, Lore has several events that would certainly be worth bringing back and using repeatedly. The prime candidates would be any card draw effects. Imagine using the Scroll of Isildur to recycle and reuse Mithrandir’s Advice (particularly appropriate for a mono-Lore deck), for example. Beyond card draw, there are a few encounter deck manipulation effects that are quite powerful, such as Gildor’s Counsel, Risk Some Light, and Out of the Wild, and would benefit from the possibility of more consistent and frequent usage. However, the problem with those cards, and some other Lore events, is that they are relatively expensive (leaving aside secrecy discounts for some of them), which makes the recycle and reuse strategy a bit more difficult to pull off compared to the cheap events of the Tactics sphere and Book of Eldacar. This isn’t actually that big a deal, though, as these books effectively act as additional copies of certain cards, so if you included them in the first place, it’s likely because you either have tricks to pay for them or feel that they are valuable enough to pay for when they show up.

Probably one of the most frequent uses for the Scroll of Isildur, at least on a personal level, will be to recycle Radagast’s Cunning and Secret Paths. These cheap 1-cost events never disappoint, and being able to use them more frequently can dramatically improve the questing prospects of mono-Lore or Lore-heavy decks. Cancelling threat accomplishes the same goal as willpower boosting, but has the benefit of giving you just what you need in some instances, more so than would ever be possible otherwise (if you don’t believe me, you will when you face the 10-threat location in the Nightmare Journey Along the Anduin scenario). Even just for the purpose of recycling those two cards, I may find it hard to ever leave out the Scroll of Isildur in future mono-Lore decks. Also, Advance Warning was a card that I previously gave a pretty short shrift, but with the rise of staging area attack decks, along with the possibility of recycling it with the Scroll, I may have to change my tune. A mono-Lore Scroll of Isildur/Advance Warning deck could be a perfect counterpart to a Rohan staging area attack deck. In a similar way, Scroll of Isildur makes Take No Notice a more consistent play for Hobbit and Ranger decks, so much so that I may consider bringing that event back into my builds (Hobbit decks are a bit more dicey as they tend to be tri-sphere).

In the grand scheme of record attachments, it is difficult to pin down which sphere gets the best deal. The Book of Eldacar can make a strong claim, as there are plenty of cheap, powerful Tactics events that beg to be recycled (Feint, Foe-hammer, Hands Upon the Bow, Goblin-cleaver, etc.). The Tome of Atanatar could demand the top spot on the basis of Sneak Attack recursion alone. The Map of Earnil, on the other hand, definitely comes in last due to the existence of Dwarven Tomb and the Map’s inability to recycle the Spirit event you would most want to bring back, which is A Test of Will. Scroll of Isildur is definitely quite usable, though I might place it just below the Tome of Atanatar and the Book of Eldacar, not because it is weak, but because those records enable such powerful combinations. As with the other records, I feel that mono-sphere is the logical play for the Scroll, while having two heroes of that sphere makes it still usable, with only one hero probably being the deal-breaker. We are now left with one question, will we ever see a card that plays on the record trait? Gondorian Librarian anyone?

Versatility: ♦♦◊◊◊

Efficiency: ♦♦♦♦◊

Uniqueness: ♦♦♦♦♦

Conclusion

After an in-depth exploration of The Morgul Vale attachments, now only the events remain. Certainly, I would feel comfortable in arguing that the attachments in this pack clearly outshine the hero and the allies. Visionary Leadership alone justifies the price of admission, at least from the perspective of finally and truly opening up the possibilities for the Gondor deck type. However, it still remains to be seen whether the events can make a case of their own. Tune in next time to find out the answer!

 

Readers, chime in on The Morgul Vale attachments. Just how powerful is Visionary Leadership? Is Dagger of Westernesse or Spear of the Mark a better weapon? When would you use Steed of the Mark? Which is the best of the record attachments?

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34 Comments
  1. I’ve been trying to make a Gondor deck around Visionary Leadership, and while I have had some success, the results so far are mixed. The best decks have been ones that feature some non-Gondor heroes (e.g. Hobbits), otherwise the starting threat is just too high and I end up getting overrun before my ally army ever gets setup.

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      Well, one thing I would say is that most (not all) of the Gondor allies don’t have great starting stats, especially if you compare them to Dwarves. Most of them are more notable for their abilities, but even the +1 willpower/+1 attack makes them decent, rather than bonkers. I’m perhaps more excited about getting a 3 willpower Caldara or Prince Imrahil. It definitely needs some experimentation, I certainly haven’t found a set-up that is killer yet.

  2. Karlson permalink

    I agree with you in that many of the Rohan specific player cards in this last Heirs of Numenor pack may perhaps have limited usage right now (Spear of the Mark) but they will definitely be more useful as the Rohan trait is developed in Voice of Isengard and the 6 packs that follow it.

    I also wish there would have been an attachment that granted all characters (or just allies) a universal defense buff. We have now seen attack and willpower boosts from Boromir and Dain, but no card has yet to give characters an increase in their defensive capabilities. The only card I can think of off the top of my head that does implement this idea is “Against the Shadow,” allowing the weak defenders of the Spirit sphere to use their willpower instead of defense (but just for one turn.)

    With each new adventure it seems that the enemies get stronger and stronger, dealing high amounts of damage (I went back and played Conflict at the Carrock recently and thought that the once-fearsome trolls seemed very weak now in comparison to recent quests!) So, with these increased attack strengths of current enemies, it would be nice to have more defensive options rather than having our Squires and Errand Riders hewn down left and right.

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      That’s a fair point about the defensive boost. There is the global buff of For Gondor! for Gondor characters, but there is nothing as permanent as Dain or Leadermir’s willpower/attack boosts. If any trait should have a defensive boost, it should be Gondor. With the increase in enemy strength that you mentioned, I find myself increasingly relying on the Beregond/Gondorian Shield combination, so much so that it is almost becoming a crutch, much as Eowyn was for questing in the early days of the game.

    • Light the Beacons gives +2 defence & do not tap to defend t everyone for a turn & it’s thematically Gondor. At 5 cost it’s probably pretty much unplayable though.(ie you would be better served by other cards not literally unplayable)

      • TalesfromtheCards permalink

        I’ve really wanted to find a spot for Light the Beacons but it’s sooo expensive, especially for Spirit. Maybe Frodo or Fatty with Good Meal might make it playable but….

  3. Tracker1 permalink

    I agree with Beorn on making a Gondor deck. Visonary leadership helps in an area gondor was weak in, but the main problem is that the Gondor Heroes do not work well together. Many of the gondor decks I make end up with starting threat of around 30. VL is a cool card that helps the trait significantly, but finding the right combination of 3 Gondor heroes in a solo deck has been a challenge.

    I have been having a lot of fun with Dunhere and the spears and/or daggers, in a low threat deck with Frodo and Merry. Nice to see him back in action.

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      I think Gondor as a trait feels very disparate, in that there are some useful abilities floating around, but very little that works together as with Dwarves or even Rohan. Visionary Leadership makes Gondor decks viable, in my opinion, but not necessarily on the same level as the stronger decks in the game. It definitely works better in multiplayer than solo as well.

    • Thaddeus permalink

      That’s exactly what I was going to say regarding the Gondor Heroes. There’s some fabulous Gondor cards we’ve been getting lately, and individually many of the Gondor heroes are great, but finding a way to coherently blend them in a viable deck is much harder than it should be.

  4. bootagot permalink

    I have a leadership/Gondor deck with the Hero’s Boromir, Prince Imrahil and Theodred which I used to absolutely destroy HoN quests (solo). However outside battle/siege questing the deck was average. The staging area would just get clogged and I couldn’t muster enough willpower. I have only played a few games since adding VL but it seems alright and I am pretty excited to really give it a run. The deck is feels super thematic to play so I hope it is viable VL.

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      Sounds cool! Let me know how it goes. I’ve been toying with the idea of running a Gondor deck with Lore Pippin. Not only is he a thematic fit, while not being Gondor, his low threat would compensate for the high threat of the Gondor heroes. Also, if you throw Steward of Gondor on him, he could benefit from Visionary Leadership and get pumped up to 3 willpower. Finally, the Gondor deck could get access to some of those handy Gondor Ranger characters.

      • Karlson permalink

        Just wanted to chime in and comment that after reading these ideas, I did try a Boromir, Imrahil, and Lore Pippin deck, and it worked out great! In the two quests that I have played so far, it didn’t take long before I had Steward of Gondor and Fast Hitch on Pippin and Boromir inspiring everyone with Visionary Leadership. Pippin’s engagement card drawing ability paired with the fairly low starting threat of 28 for this deck was very nice as well.

        A lot of comments have been saying that the Gondor theme hasn’t meshed together on a broad scale very well, and I would be inclined to agree; however, this deck did feel both powerful and thematic, similar to how Dwarven deck builds are. So, I have a renewed hope!

        I’m still in the works of developing my other deck build to go along with this Leadership/Lore one. The first quest I had Theoden, Merry, and Eowyn in play in an effort to blend the Gondor and Rohan traits; however, I felt like neither trait was fleshed out as well as they should be and I decided to try a more mono-Gondor approach in my second quest. This time I used Beregond, Caldara (for the first time ever), and Spirit Glorfindel (yes, I know he isn’t Gondor – but his stats have turned him into a go-to hero when I’m deck testing!)

        This second deck setup worked out much better and the Gondor trait became really illuminated while questing, battling, and defending. Though Boromir will never be a Dain in terms of his abilities, he definitely felt comparable mid-late game once enough allies were in play. Yet, I still feel like there could be still be better hero options for a Tactics/Spirit support deck. Any ideas?

      • Hythlodaeus permalink

        Karlson, I worked out a similar deck, but with a Lore emphasis instead, that uses Denethor, Pippin (Lore), and Boromir (Leadership). I’m hoping that the starting threat of 25 is low enough and that the extra card draw from Lore will help me set up my combos faster and get allies out there. I was thinking of pairing it with a Rohan Spirit/Tactics deck using Eoywen, Dunhere, and Hama that takes advantage of Dunhere’s ability to snipe enemies in the staging area. I included some trap cards like Ranger Spikes and Ithilien pit in the first deck to help out with this. It also includes some of the Tactics Gondor allies to take advantage of Boromir’s attack bonus and Visionary Leadership’s willpower bonus.

  5. Glowwyrm permalink

    Solo is hard for the Gondor trait if you want all of the heroes to be Gondor. I think to make it work, you’d have to run a Leadermir, Denethor, Eleanor/Caldara combo and make maximum use out of your resource acceleration and card draw. Having two neutral allies with the trait helps some, and the scrying and treachery mitigation should help protect you in the early rounds. I’m just happy with the attachment because it opens up a lot of deck building possibilities. My Leadermir, Denethor, Mirlonde deck has been kicking butt.

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      I’ve mostly been experimenting with Leadership/Spirit/Tactics Gondor decks, but more and more, I like the idea of bringing in Lore instead of one of the other spheres. I think the traps and encounter deck manipulation of Lore can help Gondor in a big way, and the Lore Rangers are some of the strongest Gondor allies around. I mentioned in my reply to the above comment that I’m thinking about integrating Pippin in, but I do like the idea of Denethor.

  6. After seeing this pack, the first thing that popped into my head was making a pair of decks with Gondor and Rohan. Then use Mutual Accord to give Rohan the Leadermir/VL boosts and to allow Gondor heroes to use Forth Eorlingas! (Nor Am I A Stranger helps too). Also, with using Denethor and/or Faramir, you have access to traps and such which really help to be able to use the spear and Forth Eorlingas! more often. Ithilien Pit allows us to use the spear without any specific ability on the characters, and Ranger Spikes can keep enemies in the staging area indefinitely with little to no threat disadvantage.

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      I agree, I’m dying to get Mutual Accord to work. I think the potential is there, but I just need to sit around and really think through the right combinations. Last night, I gave Forth Eorlingas! and Spear of the Mark a good work-out with a new Rohan deck I built, and I was really impressed with the results. Pairing it with a Gondor Ranger trap deck seems like the logical next step, as you mentioned. I do have to say that I’m so much more excited to play with the Rohan deck than a Gondor deck, and I do think Gondor is a much better play multiplayer than solo because of these combinations.But maybe that’s just the role Gondor is going to play in this game.

  7. Scroll Lock permalink

    Great article!
    There is a mistake in the beggining: “All that is gold doesn’t glitter.”

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      Thanks! I’m pretty sure the poem uses “does not” instead of “doesn’t”

      • Scroll Lock permalink

        That is not what i mean 😀
        In Slovakia we say “all that glitters is not gold”, but maybe in USA you say “all that is gold does not glitter.”
        If so, sorry. 😀

    • He is referring to a poem Tolkein wrote not to the saying. (Google tells me – apparently it’s in LotR, though my eyes glaze at poems & especially songs)

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      Oh yes, I get the confusion now! Jonathan is correct, I’m referring to the poem associated with Aragorn. He was “gold” but did not “glitter” on the outside.

  8. Hythlodaeus permalink

    Beorn, what sort of Gondor decks are you coming up with that work around Visionary Leadership? I’m struggling too…atm I’m building a Leadership/Spirit deck using Aragorn (Core), Boromir (HON), and Glorfindel (Spirit). It’s meant to be used in conjunction with a Mono Tactics deck, but I haven’t really had the chance to test things out…

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      Check out Hall of Beorn, he just posted an article about his Gondor deck!

  9. Robert permalink

    I don’t know if this has been said before but I think the biggest issue with the Gondor deck isn’t the cards, but the players. So far what I’ve seen is comparisons to the dwarf decks and complaints about the lack of synergy within the trait, and I think those are the biggest mistakes being made with Gondor decks.

    From my perspective Gondor decks and the effects they use aren’t meant to be used in the same way dwarf decks or Outlands decks are, where you can toss in a bit of whatever has the trait you’re looking for and come out with something differen’t. Fact is that most Gondor allies and Gondor related player cards in general have to do with Resource management/movement.

    The strength of the Gondor player cards doesn’t come from how well they work with each other, but in how well they amplify the other cards in the pool. In that aspect I think any deck with a “Gondor” focus excels best when dealing decks that try to utilize cards from every sphere. An example would be several Noldor cards including Elladan, Elrohir, Glorfindel (Core), and Harbor Master.

    The idea of using the Gondor effects (Stewart, Horn, Errand Rider, Wealth of Gondor) in songs decks also comes to mind in how well they can tie a deck together.

    Basically what I’m getting at is that Gondor cards themselves don’t exactly work well to make themselves better but they open up huge potential for so many other cards cards deck types making them, in my opinion, a bit more versitile than many of the dwarf cards or outlands cards we have in the card pool.

    • This is an interesting take but you are just playing the cards for their spheres/abilites, their traits might as well be martian or all different. You can do this anyway by just playing good cards.

      • Robert permalink

        I see that, and I get that it doesn’t come off as trait based or very thematic, which does bother me a bit too. But I’m just trying to shine a light on the potential that the Gondor cards have in synergizing with others traits or mechanics in the game. There probably are some really potent pure Gondor builds that we haven’t come across yet, though. So I’m still holding out for something that works a bit better based simply on the Gondor trait.

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      You bring up some interesting points, Robert. I agree with you in the sense that Gondor currently seems more like a support deck than anything else, which is one reason why I keep saying that it’s better multiplayer than solo. I rated Visionary Leadership so highly because it’s the first thing that has made a solo Gondor deck truly viable (not necessarily bonkers, just viable). In multiplayer, it can function quite well, as much of its allies have abilities revolving around support. Maybe one of the issues is that players, myself included at times, tend to give a greater weight to solo usage than multiplayer usage.

      It is interesting to think about whether this role of support rings true for Gondor as portrayed in the books. What should the Gondor trait be like and how should it work? The role Gondor seemed to play in the books is to stand alone as the bulwark against Mordor, giving everyone else time to muster their forces and get their act together. In one way, you could say that this is reflected in their role as a support trait, but on the other hand, they should be able to stand alone. Going back in the other direction, they can stand alone for battles and sieges, but don’t do well with those big quests, which seems true to the books….It’s very complicated, and I’m really enjoying the discussion so far.

      • Robert permalink

        I was really hoping to see some development in terms of them being the defense power house trait. With cards like Gondorian Spearman, Gondorian Shield, Beregond, For Gondor!, etc they do have some powerful defensive capabilities I was just hoping it would be evolved a bit more and made into a viable deck type outside of seige quests. Still though the selective defensive elements they bring to the table allows for some shielding in the early game which is crucial for single player games to get yourself a strong foothold. Again playing to the idea of Gondor allowing other cards to function better.

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      Well, I will say that nothing makes me feel more Gondorian than using Beregond/Gondorian Shield to just block everything on the board. If all those defending cards could work in conjunction a little bit more, then the trait would feel more cohesive (maybe an attachment that gives something like, each successful defense without any damage inflicted on the defender adds +1 defense to the next defender).

  10. Scroll Lock permalink

    How powerful is VL? Very powerful! Dunedain quest gives you 1 willpower for a cost of 2, so even if you control only 1 Gondor character you may use this. If you control 3 questing gondorian characters, this is awesomely good! And if you are playing gondor deck, this is crazy. That is my opinion.

    I think DoW is better than SotM now. But I think (and hope) “The Ring-Maker” will give us new options of attacking to the staging area. Then it will be as good as DoW. (but not stronger IMO)

    The best the Tactics one,but they are all good. Even Map of Earnil will become better than Dwarven Tomb. Why? Because FFG announced, that Dunland enemies will be stronger for each card in your hand. That is why attachment is better than event.

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      Having tried a Dunhere/Spear deck (article to come soon), the Spear of the Mark is better for him in the sense that it works well with other cards like A Light in the Dark, traps, etc. that keep enemies with a higher engagement cost in the staging area. However, the Dagger is probably better for everyone else most of the time.

      That’s a good point about the Dunland enemies. I predict one of the hot strategies for those quests will be decks that rely heavily on recursion/recycling to make the discard pile almost act like an extra hand, so that you can keep your actual hand size low. You’re right that Map of Earnil would work well for this purpose.

  11. My thoughts are pretty different

    Visionary Leadership – a chance to build a Dain light deck for Gondor that is combination reliant, is inherently less powerful (Boromir boosts only allies) & relies on suspect Gondor cards. The last because a lot of them are leadership allies & many of these seem overcosted or just bad, though they now have a glut of chumps.

    I would rather see a more imaginative way of a tribe (to borrow from MtG) synergising. Rohan already seems more interesting with sacrifice effects, leaving play responses & attacking the staging area. Silvans have one effect & some elf cards but the readying effect of the Sylvan Tracker is interesting, I am not sure how to spread it though.

    Steed of the Mark – strictly worse than Unexpected Courage & I often find even that powerful card slightly disappointing. If it cost 0 you would at least get one uses worth of profit out of it. It gets expensive if you have more than one out too. UC is very good though (really) & they may add some mount synergies. Currently I will never play this.

    Spear of the Mark – probably the same or worse than Dagger of Westernesse 90% of the time. There are however some cards like Ithillien Tracker that push critters back into the staging area so this has synergies with them. The other thing is that for a Rohan qua human deck this is probably the best weapon for weapon slots 4-6 so it’s not redundant.

    Records – I really like the books for theoretical combo potential. Another use is protecting critical one offs – if your one copy of Will of the West gets discarded then this will let you play it still. The main use is obviously selectively picking the event in the discard pile you need right now. I also like the Erebor Hammersmith interaction – now everyone can be Hama (well sort of).

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      That’s definitely true about the need for imaginative synergy. Not every faction/tribe/trait should equate synergy with global buffs to stats. We already have the Dwarves, Outlands, and now Gondor for that. Synergy also means card effects that feed off each other, instead of just stat bonuses, so I would like to see Gondor (and other traits) go more in that direction in the future.

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