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TftC Mailbag: Gondor and Rohan

by on April 8, 2014

bilbo mail

This installment of the TftC Mailbag is a bit of an oddball, as usually these articles have focused on questions surrounding deck building and challenges that new players face. However, I love receiving mail about all kinds of topics, and a reader recently sent me some interesting commentary about the Gondor trait and its synergy with Rohan. There is no doubt that simply mentioning the Gondor trait among LOTR LCG players is a one-way ticket to a spirited debate, as there is some mixed opinion about its place in the game and its relative power level. My own opinions on the subject have evolved over time, but let’s hear from a reader!

 

I’m a regular reader of your blog and wanted to share with you a ‘revelation’ I had these past few days deck building with the Rohan trait.

This may be a ‘Captain Obvious’ statement but I think the Gondor trait is the most complete support trait in the game, just as The White Tower Watchman blogger relevantly qualified. But looking at the last trait developments I’m now simply amazed to see that Gondor strength is exactly matching Rohan weaknesses.

To be fairly honest, I was one of those ‘meh’ guys about how the Gondor trait was handled in the Against the Shadow cycle. After the amazing promises of the Heirs of Númenor player cards (which contains staples: Ranger Spikes, Citadel Spear, Errand-rider, Boromir and Beregond) we actually got some weird cards, Gondorian they may be, but supporting other deck archetypes, like monosphere (White Tower Watchman, Knights of Minas Tirith and Pelargir Shipwright) or Ranger/Trap (don’t mistake me, I love this Ranger deck).

The last Rohan cards from The Morgul Vale adventure pack and Voice of Isengard deluxe expansion set it all: Rohan is about questing like hell and wrecking the staging area. The trait has got 5 strong heroes in the associated spheres: Dúnhere and Eowyn for Spirit, Théoden, Eomer and Hama for Tactics. What is to be noticed (and I think quite new in the way the game is designed since it began) is that one sphere weakness is counterbalanced by straight effects from the other, though one may argue in a too obvious way. You need to discard those Spirit Rohan allies to quest like hell? No problem, we give you Eomer. Dúnhere is cool, but you need more attack strength? No problem, we give you Spear of the Mark. Tactics you need but still some questing power? This is really no issue, because Théoden is here to give it the final binding touch of the Rohan trait. Having just below average deckbuilding abilities, I’m happy with that kind of design: giving a trait an identity is all the help I could hope for.

This Rohan revival was perfectly timed to try and get the Dunlendings baddies at the Fords of Isen. I went for it all “Forth Eorlingas!” with two decks: Théodred/Théoden/Hama and Eowyn/Eomer/Dúnhere. My winning rate was just above 50%, because I lacked three things: spamming allies/defense, questing support and healing. Ho, and in any usual quest, I’d be happy for a tad more card draw.

Spamming allies is one of the things Leadership sphere is meant for, with so much resource acceleration. It’s also the most questing-able sphere behind Spirit, so that would solve the questing support too.

Healing and card draw is what Lore do.

This is where it gets so cool. Now take a look back at the Gondor trait: yes, those are the two main sphere of the trait. Leadership Gondor gives you Imrahil (what a perfect ability with all those discarding Rohirrims) and Boromir & his Visionary Leadership guiding a load of cheap allies. Lore Gondor gives you Faramir & his Ranger Spikes and Denethor, as well as the desperately needed Wardens of Healing. Perfect match! Of course, throw in Beregond and his stuff you just end up with mind-blowing possibilities.

I built two decks to support the Rohan, one with Boromir II/Imrahil/Beregond, the other with Faramir/Beravor/Eleanor. And the winning rate climbed to 70%.

What I totally missed in my excitation was what I think now is the most amazing glue card in the game: Mutual Accord. This card, again from the Heirs of Númenor set, is now a staple for me, and the corner stone of a playstyle archetype I would call ‘Men of the West’ (no! No Outlands in there!). Let’s have a look at what it does:

Action: Until the end of the phase, each Gondor card in play gains the Rohan trait and each Rohan card in play gets the Gondor trait”

Woah! End of the story. I’m one of those players who can find a card amazing because it would be amazing in an almost impossible combo and end up never using it. This is not the case with Mutual Accord, we’re not talking impossible combos here. It’s about giving Boromir’s bonus of +1 attack to those weak Spirit Rohan allies during the combat phase. It’s about giving all those spammed Gondor allies +2 willpower when playing Astonishing Speed during the questing phase. It’s about giving Faramir, Boromir, Imrahil the ability to strike in the staging area with Forth Eorlingas. And all that additional effects for no damn cost at all. This card is now so good I included it the Théodred/Théoden/Hama deck as well as the Boromir/Imrahil/Beregond one.

I was so disappointed by any Gondor deck I built in 2013 but I feel we’ve finally got over this. Way over!

 

I would definitely agree that Gondor is pretty fantastic as a support deck in multiplayer, from generating and sharing resources to defending like none other. What probably inspired so much initial disappointment with the trait is that many players probably hoped that Gondor would be established as a strong solo trait that could stand on its own in solo play as well. However, it is nice to see the traits differentiating themselves from each other and to see the Gondor/Rohan synergy develop in such a thematically and mechanically satisfying way, as pointed out so eloquently in this piece of reader feedback!

Readers, feel free to share your own responses to these questions in the comments below. If you have questions about the game, or simply want to share your thoughts on some aspect of the game, click on the Contact TftC! button above, and you might just be featured in the next TftC mailbag.

 

 

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7 Comments
  1. He nailed it. I noticed this back when Morgul Vale was released, but I haven’t been able to build the right decks to make it work. I might have to bump up to 3/4 player to see it really unfold, huh?

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      I definitely think Gondor shines the brightest in 3/4 player games.

  2. Glowwyrm permalink

    Yeah, that was a great email. This is rank bias, because Gondor is my favorite faction in Lord of the Rings, but they are the backbone that holds the player decks together, especially if you go beyond solo play. I rarely build without Gondor anymore. The thing I like best about the Gondor trait is that almost anyone can be a super star. Gondorian shield will turn any Gondor hero into defensive power house, and Visionary Leadership can be used by any hero to lead an army of Gondor soldiers, er, well, squires and seafarers. Since Eomer and Voice of Isengard, Imrahil went from the occasional use pile to staple leader of my Gondor decks, and he’s a great target for all the main Gondor attachments.

    Now, do I wish they’d made the trait synergy and thematic cohesion a little stronger? You bet. But they are still are still the bulwark that holds up the Free Peoples.

    And if Gondor weren’t so great, then why would all the other Free People leaders pretend to be its Steward : P

  3. OnkelZorni permalink

    Good to see that a least a few players realized that the gondor trait evolved very well during the last cycle. I’ve seen so many people complaining that gondor was so awfully underdeveloped and stuff like that. Maybe over the time more players will understand that not every trait will be like dwarfes or will have the same mechanics/abilities.

  4. Tonskillitis permalink

    So eager to try this mutual accord trick again- not tried it since the early HON days when neither trait was particularly dominant. Now Rohan has emerged as a strong combat and questing trait in its own right and with the support of the bulwark of the west it could become exceedingly powerful. I’m imagining in 4 players with a leadership Gondor dude with the books of Atanator recycling the accord and the Visionary Leadership boosting all characters willpower. With Astonishing Speed and Eomund then these combination decks could be quite spectacular…

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      Agreed. I’m inspired by this e-mail to try to build the biggest, baddest Gondor/Rohan Mutual Accord combination that is possible. I kind of soured on the idea due to it falling flat a little earlier in the HoN/AtS days, but it would be fun to give it a try with full power now!

  5. Mndela permalink

    I think Gondor and Rohan aren’t still enough goods for playing and winning without other traits.

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