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The Three Trials: Attachments Review

by on August 5, 2014

treetrials

Attachments are back on the menu, boys! The back-to-back release of The Dunland Trap and The Three Trials has me reviewing player cards at a breathless pace. I’m actually hoping (probably against the wishes of the rest of the fanbase) to have a little bit of a break between packs, so I can devote some blog space to some other topics, but for now, I’m happy to work through the rest of The Three Trials cards, including 3 fascinating new attachments. The smorgasbord approach continues, as these attachments provide support for Elves, Scouts, and Secrecy.

ATTACHMENTS

* Elven Mail (Tactics Attachment, 2 cost):

Elven-Mail

For far too long, those squishy Elves have labored without armor to call their very own. Sure, they could strap on a Citadel Plate or dabble in some Dunedain Signals or a Gondorian Shield, but there’s wasn’t anything else available for the discerning Elf in need of protection against the dangers of Middle-earth. Not anything that specifically spoke to Elves anyway. Well, have no fear, Noldor and Silvan fellows, The Three Trials has arrived to solve these Elven armor needs:

Attached character gets +2 hit points and gains sentinel.

Like Ring Mail, this is armor with a strict racial trait restriction, and in this case only Noldor and Silvan characters are allowed to join the party. Armor generally falls into the defense boosting category (Ring Mail, Gondorian Shield) or the hit point boosting category (Citadel Plate). Elven Mail is strictly in the latter category, although with the added bonus of the sentinel keyword. Of course, no self-respecting Noldor deck should be operating without Arwen Undomiel, so with Arwen and Elven Mail in play, you are looking at both a +1 to defense and +2 hit points. This is quite substantial, although you’re looking at 4 resources total for the whole shebang (although since you’d probably be paying for and running Arwen anyway, really it’s all about the 2 resources for the Elven Mail itself).

Obviously, the first thought would be to strap this Elven Mail onto one of existing Noldor or Silvan defending heroes. Elrohir is perhaps the first choice candidate here. With Elven Mail, he can defend multiple times per round with 3 defense and 6 hit points, rather than 4. Even better, in multiplayer the sentinel keyword would allow him to defend for the whole board. With 1 restricted slot devoted to Elven Mail, you could use the other for Gondorian Shield, bumping Elrohir up into a true defensive powerhouse. I also really like Elrond for this attachment as well. With 3 defense and A Burning Brand, Elrond can be a magnificent defender, but sometimes suffers from only having 4 hit points, which limits his ability to defend multiple times against the biggest enemies. Even worse, in multiplayer and without Arwen, he can’t help other players defend. Elven Mail solves both of these problems. Of course, there are some other possibilities beyond these 2, and you could use Elven Mail to bump up the hit points of a hero that usually doesn’t defend like Glorfindel or Legolas. Naturally, I don’t see this as being a common use, especially since you would probably want to use those restricted slots for something else, but it could be useful against quests with archery or direct damage to soak up extra wounds.

In terms of the cost of this attachment against its power, there could be a case made that Elven Mail isn’t perhaps as useful as it first appears. Consider that the aforementioned Ring Mail provides +1 defense and +1 hit point (to Dwarves and Hobbits) for 2 resources, which is arguably a better deal. Consider also that 2 copies of Elven Mail on the same hero for 4 resources is essentially the same deal as Citadel Plate, which provides 4 extra hit points for 4 resources. Essentially, Elven Mail could be considered more worthwhile than Citadel Plate only because it adds in sentinel on the one hand, and also allows you to pay for just what you need. In other words, perhaps you’re not willing to invest 4 resources into 4 extra hit points, but do want to boost  a character’s hit points by at least 2. In this case, Elven Mail is the better deal as it gives you what you need without having to waste extra resources. This is certainly a worthy consideration in a game where resources are often power.

Still, there is one aspect of this card that hasn’t been mentioned but opens up some intriguing possibilities. Elven Mail can be attached to Noldor and Silvan characters, not just heroes, which means that it can be placed on allies. Watcher of the Bruinen jumps to mind immediately, as this Noldor ally can potentially serve as a defender multiple times, but has long been hindered by having only 2 hit points on top of 2 defense. A single copy of Elven Mail could boost him up to 4 hit points (and sentinel), while 2 copies could raise this to 6 hit points. Granted, this is a hefty amount of resources to dedicate to a single, potentially vulnerable ally, but it could serve as an interesting defensive solution for the more adventurous and experimental player. Another potential Elven Mail user on the Noldor side is Gildor Inglorion. Gildor is already a very strong ally with great willpower and defense, but unfortunately the fact that he only has 3 hit points means that he can sometimes end up being destroyed, and the 5 resources that you have invested in him go down the drain. With Elven Mail, Gildor can reach the level of the strongest heroes, boasting 5 hit points, and could serve as an amazingly strong defender. Keep in mind that A Burning Brand can be attached to any Lore character, not just a hero, so you could theoretically equip Gildor with the Brand and Elven Mail and have an amazing defender on hand, freeing up your heroes for other tasks. Again, this is quite a bit of resources to invest in an ally, but since Gildor costs so much up front in the first place, this could actually be justified in this case. Of course, this whole combo requires drawing 3 cards (Gildor, A Burning Brand, Elven Mail) and paying 9 resources, so it’s not really an early game option.

On the Silvan side of the equation, the 2 expensive allies, Haldir and Rumil, could wear the Elven Mail and make use of it, although neither is as well suited to defense as Gildor. Still, the armor could perhaps keep them on the board longer. A more interesting option would be to use Elven Mail to transform Silvan Tracker into a damage soaking machine. Consider that the Tracker heals 1 damage from itself each time it readies during the refresh phase, and remember that if Elrond is in play, this is increased to 2. Already, you can use the Silvan Tracker in this way to take on 2 points of archery damage or direct damage per turn, for example, and then have it healed at the end of the round. If you attach Elven Mail to a Silvan Tracker, that ally would have a whopping 5 hit points and the ability to heal 2 of those hit points (with Elrond in play). This could be a valuable damage soak for certain quests that feature a ton of direct damage and archery. With Arwen in play and some extra defense, the Tracker could even serve as a stout defender against small-to-medium enemies. Alternatively, you could use Silvan Tracker to heal a Silvan hero with Elven Mail attached, turning that hero into the damage soak instead. Celeborn, for example, could soak up 2 points of damage each turn from defending or other sources and then have this healed by the Tracker/Elrond at the end of a turn.

While I imagine that Elven Mail will mostly be used to accompany Elrohir and Elrond, there are some fascinating possibilities out there that can only be expanded in the future as more Silvan and Noldor characters are released. This isn’t necessarily a game-changing piece of armor in the same way that I would argue Gondorian Shield is for Gondor characters. This is because, in most cases, extra defense is always better than extra hit points. However, it does provide some more options for Elf decks, and this is definitely a positive. It also provides something different, as it would be a bit boring if we simply got a re-skin of Gondorian Shield for each trait.

Versatility: ♦♦◊◊◊

Efficiency: ♦♦♦◊◊

Uniqueness: ♦♦♦♦◊

Warden of Arnor (Spirit Attachment, 1 cost):

Warden-of-Arnor

Warden of Arnor was a completely unexpected surprise, as it provides support for Scout heroes, and the hero in this pack, Idraen, is the very first hero with the Scout trait. Essentially, Warden of Arnor works as a Thalin for locations, rather than enemies, albeit a bit more limited in scope:

While attached character is committed to the quest, place 1 progress on the first location revealed by the encounter deck each round.

While Thalin deals 1 damage to each enemy revealed by the encounter while he is committed to the quest, a hero with Warden of Arnor attached places 1 progress on just the first location revealed. At face value, this seems to serve the purpose of helping Idraen to trigger her ability more often, which relies on exploring locations consistently. By putting a progress on a location each turn, this theoretically makes it easier both to explore a location once it is moved to the active location spot and to clear out locations in the staging area using effects like Asfaloth, Northern Tracker, etc. As locations have tended to acquire more quest points over time, Warden of Arnor can help to close the gap between what such location management effects can provide and what is needed to explore a given location. The big question is whether this assistance is worth the deck space it requires.

Since only the first location revealed during a turn is affected, Warden of Arnor theoretically contributes an extra progress token per turn over the course of a game. This is assuming a best case scenario, as during some turns a location might not be revealed at all, especially in solo play. If we assume the average game last between 6-10 rounds, depending on the scenario, then you would be paying 1 resource and taking up 2-3 spots in your deck for an extra 6-10 progress tokens, possibly fewer, and these tokens are spread out among different locations. This may or may not seem like a great deal depending on the particular quest and how important location management is, and more importantly, on how much this impacts whether or not Idraen gets to ready during a turn or not. Really, the latter consideration is the important issue, and Warden of Arnor can’t really be judged in isolation. This is because it’s not really a sufficient tool on its own, but has to be evaluated as part of a larger strategy that involves several different effects that place progress on locations (i.e. Northern Tracker, Lorien Guide, Asfaloth, etc.). Any particular piece of this larger puzzle might not seem worthy in isolation, but working together they may be able to blast through locations. In this light, Warden of Arnor is probably worthy of inclusion in the only deck it currently works in: an Idraen build, and this is only true if you are willing to commit to location management as an overall core strategy of your deck.

There is one final aspect of this attachment that is worth discussing, and that is the ability of it to nuke locations with a single quest point as soon as they are revealed, similar to Thalin’s ability to kill single hit point enemies on arrival. There aren’t too many such locations around, but something like The Brown Lands from the Core Set, with its 5 threat and 1 quest point, could be instantly cleared out of the staging area. This does raise an interesting rules question. Does this work identically to Thalin, where an enemy is destroyed before any of its game text can take effect? Or would any game text on a location be resolved before the progress from Warden of Arnor is placed? Thalin uses the “as it is revealed” language, which makes this clear, but Warden of Arnor does not use either the “as it is revealed” or “after it is revealed” phrasing.

Overall, this attachment is fascinating mostly in its support for the Scout trait, and it will be interesting to see if this is a trait that receives further development in the future. For now, it is worth noting that the Ravenhill Scout works quite well with Warden of Arnor, as he can move the progress token placed by Warden onto another location to concentrate them more effectively or strategically. It really all comes down to how much of your deck you are willing to devote to location management (and activating Idraen’s ability), and how confident you are in placing enough progress without the help of Warden of Arnor.

Versatility: ♦◊◊◊◊

Efficiency: ♦♦◊◊◊

Uniqueness: ♦♦♦♦◊

* Leaf Brooch (Neutral Attachment, 1 cost):

Leaf-Brooch

It could be safely argued that Leaf Brooch is the most momentous Secrecy card yet released, and represents the strong support that the designers have lent to this deck type that seemed to be left for dead for so long. This is because Leaf Brooch extends the Secrecy discount to non-Secrecy cards:

The first event card you play each round that matches attached hero’s printed sphere gains secrecy 1.

For a long time, many players have argued that there weren’t enough incentives for using Secrecy, and that all the trouble required to build a proper Secrecy deck revolved more around making up for its disadvantages rather than offering advantages that couldn’t be found elsewhere. Leaf Brooch directly addresses this concern, by providing a cost discount to playing normal events that is not available outside of Secrecy, other than in something like Good Meal, Grima, or Master of Lore, all of which have their own restrictions and disadvantages. By using Leaf Brooch, a Secrecy deck can make use of not only Secrecy events and cards, but also transform key events into new Secrecy cards.

Although there are far too many events to adequately address all of the possible uses for Leaf Brooch, I will try to review a few intriguing possibilities. The first group of events that I find to be great partners for Leaf Brooch are 1-cost events. By far, the best aspect of Leaf Brooch is that it does not contain a “minimum of 1” clause, which means that 1-cost events will be reduced to 0-cost while you are in Secrecy mode. This means that crucial events like Feint, A Test of Will, or Radagast’s Cunning/Secret Paths can be played without cost, which is incredibly valuable. Many times, especially in the early rounds of a game, you may find yourself forced to save a resource so that you can play such events as needed, but this then detracts from getting out needed attachments and allies to get your deck up and running. Leaf Brooch removes this restriction and ensures that you can always play such events while tending to other needs as well. The one caveat is that the event needs to match the printed sphere of the attached hero, so this does limit the flexibility a bit, and since not many Secrecy decks feature Tactics heroes, Feint is probably effectively out of the running. Still, there is plenty of good value here. Beyond even just the “must include” cards, Leaf Brooch also makes taking a chance on more inconsistent cards like Small Target worthwhile, as now you don’t have to worry about saving a resource for this event or spending a resource on an effect that might fail.

Other events that specifically speak to the needs of Secrecy decks obviously benefit greatly from Leaf Brooch as well. Here I’m thinking of The Galadhrim’s Greeting, which can provide needed threat reduction, but is expensive at 3 resources. A single copy of Leaf Brooch reduces this to 2. Keep in mind, though, that with multiple copies of Leaf Brooch in play, say 1 copy each on a couple of Spirit heroes, this cost could be reduced down to 1 (or even 0 in mono-Spirit, although this is a tough ask). Since Hobbits often are part of a Secrecy build anyway, you can also effectively use Good Meal in tandem with Leaf Brooch to really drive down the cost of the most expensive events. Something like Light the Beacons, for example, which is generally too expensive to ever be worth including, could be played for only 2 resources with the combination of Good Meal and Leaf Brooch, providing some defensive help for Secrecy decks. Grim Resolve is another expensive option along the same lines that can be made much more affordable.

Finally, while Leaf Brooch extends Secrecy discounts to non-Secrecy cards, it should be remembered that it can also further reduce the cost of existing Secrecy cards or quasi-Secrecy cards. The event, Swift and Silent, from the previous pack, for example, could be played for no cost, providing repeatable readying for free each turn. A key Secrecy card like Timely Aid, to take another example, could be reduced all the way to 0 in Secrecy conditions. When all this is taken into account, Leaf Brooch becomes as much a must-have in Secrecy decks as Resourceful. While Resourceful works to generate resources directly, Leaf Brooch ensures that you can free up resources that would otherwise be spent on events to play key allies and attachments instead. At first thought, I considered that Leaf Brooch might actually be redundant when you consider the possibilities of generating a ton of resources with a few copies of Resourceful. However, I don’t think this will be true for most Secrecy decks. Rather, the 2 attachments can work in tandem to really provide the attachments and accelerated power curve that Secrecy really needs to become a top-tier deck type. This means that attachment retrieval becomes even more important for Secrecy, and Master of the Forge is damn near essential if you’re running Lore Secrecy. The main obstacle now holding back Secrecy is actually the lack of available heroes. Right now, we have Hobbits, Spirit Glorfindel, and not much else to really make this deck type function. A few more low threat heroes or heroes with abilities that directly enable Secrecy will allow it to really flourish in the sense of having multiple looks beyond a few viable builds.

Obviously, it goes without saying that this card has no value in non-Secrecy decks. In Secrecy decks, it will be important to have means available to get this attachment out quickly and consistently before one’s threat blasts through the Secrecy threshold. The alternative is to have plenty of threat reduction available. There are also a few final considerations about Leaf Brooch before we end. First, it is important to emphasize that multiple copies in play make Leaf Brooch even better, either in terms of increasing the discount or spreading it across several spheres. Second, since this cost discount only applies to the first event of the matching sphere played on a given ground, it is vital to be aware of this and plan out the events you need to play or might need to play very carefully. Blowing the Leaf Brooch discount on a The Galadhrim’s Greeting during planning may mean missing out on playing A Test of Will during questing, for example. Third, this card could become a dead card in your hand if drawn too late. This is in contrast to other Secrecy cards that can still be played, although at a higher cost, outside of Secrecy. Resourceful, for example, can still be useful even if your threat is above 20. Leaf Brooch, however, is completely worthless at that point, unless you can get your threat back down. This doesn’t destroy the card’s value, but is definitely something to keep in mind when deciding whether or not to include it.

Versatility: ♦◊◊◊◊

Efficiency: ♦♦♦♦◊

Uniqueness: ♦♦♦♦◊

Conclusion

Of the 3 attachments in The Three Trials, I would argue that Leaf Brooch is potentially the most powerful and the biggest step forward for a particular archetype. While it requires some smart deck building, it successfully addresses one of the weaknesses of Secrecy in a way that feels satisfying and effective. The main limitations to Leaf Brooch right now are not inherent in the card itself, but in the overall options available to Secrecy players. As for Elven Mail and Warden of Arnor, both of these attachments are also useful for their given deck type, but don’t have quite as large a potential impact as Leaf Brooch. This doesn’t necessarily render them meaningless, however, far from it, as both help to fill a particular hole.

With the attachments out of the way, only the events of The Three Trials remain to be conquered. Readers, what are your thoughts on Leaf Brooch? Do you feel inspired to play Secrecy? Do you think there is now enough to make Secrecy a strong deck type? What are your favorite uses for Elven Mail? Is Warden of Arnor worth the cost?

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40 Comments
  1. catastrophic09 permalink

    The Elven Mail doesn’t seem amazing at first just because actual defense seems so important but I think those extra health points become more and more important with direct damage as you really need more health points so it is a pretty good attachment especially since it’s for characters.

    The Warden of Arnor really doesn’t seem worth it. Even with future Scout heroes they would still have to be committing to the quest and to only get 1 progress token.. it just doesn’t seem worth the card slot although I will for now throw 1 or 2 copies in my Idraen decks just for fun.

    I would argue that the Leaf Brooch really isn’t that good for many reasons: it only reduces event cards for the matching sphere, once you’re over 20 threat it’s useless, a good meal seems superior since you’ll likely be running Hobbits anyway to have a low threat. So for me Secrecy has been something where I start around 18 threat, hope to get some allies out for cheap and a copy of Resourceful and then I just have a deck that’s rolling pretty well at low threat but can’t use secrecy anymore.
    With that said the Leaf Brooch will be really good for 1 or 2 hero decks where you can remain in the secrecy threshold for a long time and make more use of the Leaf Brooch and other Secrecy cards, so this card is very good for super low threat secrecy decks.

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      Yeah, I should have mentioned that Leaf Brooch is really ideal for 1 or 2 hero Secrecy decks. I’ve been using in it a Sam and Glorfindel Secrecy deck where I can sometimes stay in Secrecy all game and it’s worthwhile there. I’d be a lot more hesitant to include it in a deck where I’m starting at 18-20 and the chances of me actually making use of it are nil.

  2. Kjeld permalink

    With the very limited availability of low-threat heroes, it seems like secrecy might naturally gravitate toward one or two-hero decks. However, leaf broach doesn’t help non-3-hero decks very much because it’s limited to one per hero AND to printed resource icon AND only works on one event per turn. Running less than three heroes, what you most want to have is extra allies early (to make up for lost questing power, which if not addressed will rapidly launch you over 20 threat) and key attachments (to hulk the one or two heroes you do have) — events really are secondary. As you point out, though, leaf broach is actually better the MORE heroes you have. So it seems like it further locks secrecy into an already popular and fairly strong deck type: Hobbits + Glorfindel. I don’t think leaf broach does much for the secrecy archetype so much as it (further) strengthens an already existing archetype which just happens to also be secrecy-friendly. It’s a shame that leaf broach wasn’t designed to open up new deck-building possibilities.

    I guess I’m a bit bitter because I really want to make a mono-hero Elrond/Vilya deck work, but the latest secrecy advantages aren’t helping a whole lot. I feel like some pieces are starting to fall into place. For example, Elven Mail on Silvan Trackers can eventually take the lion’s share of defense, and Rivendell Scout brings in the early questing boost/chump blocking. However, a mono-Elrond requires so many cards to operate that it’s too slow out of the gate and inconsistent. To make up for the HUGE disadvantage in leaving two hero slots empty, you basically need to have Vilya+Resourceful+Light of Valinor+Unexpected Courage in play just to break even. And two of them are off-sphere. Maybe with Leaf Broach you could use Radagast’s Cunning and Secret Paths long enough to delay overwhelming threat in the staging area while you get Elrond set up, but it doesn’t seem consistently viable. I suppose you could add Glorfindel to get out the key spirit attachments earlier and add some attack power, but the point is that he’s already overused. In any case, the same basic dilemma confronts other tempting mono-hero builds, such as Hirluin or Aragorn and his toys, I feel. Even two-hero builds have trouble. While an Elladan/Elrohir build sounds great, you’ve got one round to appreciate your secrecy bonus before its gone (with the exception of the old standby Sneak Attack/Gandalf combo to bring your threat back down).

    • Kjeld permalink

      After posting that comment, I got to thinking about whether Leaf Broach could make an Elladan and Elrohir secrecy deck a viable option. I think it is possible, though it’s all contingent on Gandalf (with Sneak Attack or Timely Aid) to stay in range for a few terms. Doomed effects can still stop it in it’s tracks, of course…

      Anyhow, here’s what I came up with:

      Hero: (2)
      1x Elladan (Road to Rivendell)
      1x Elrohir (The Redhorn Gate)

      Ally: (21)
      3x Eagles of the Misty Mountains (Return to Mirkwood)
      1x Landroval (A Journey to Rhosgobel)
      3x Vassal of the Windlord (The Dead Marshes)
      3x Winged Guardian (The Hunt for Gollum)
      3x Rivendell Scout (The Three Trials)
      1x Beorn (Core Set)
      1x Erestor (The Long Dark)
      2x Faramir (Core Set)
      3x Gandalf (Over Hill and Under Hill)
      1x Radagast (A Journey to Rhosgobel)

      Attachment: (11)
      3x Leaf Brooch (The Three Trials)
      3x Resourceful (The Watcher in the Water)
      2x Support of the Eagles (Return to Mirkwood)
      3x Dunedain Warning (Conflict at the Carrock)

      Event: (18)
      3x Timely Aid (The Redhorn Gate)
      3x Valiant Sacrifice (Core Set)
      3x Swift and Silent (The Dunland Trap)
      3x Sneak Attack (Core Set)
      3x Feint (Core Set)
      3x A Very Good Tale (Over Hill and Under Hill)

      • I don’t understand how Leaf Brooch is useful in a deck that starts at 20 threat and doesn’t have threat reduction… unless those are supposed to be core Gandalfs.

        • Kjeld permalink

          Yeah, they’re supposed to be core Gandalf. It’s completely contingent on dropping core Gandalf on turn 1, either with Timely Aid or Sneak Attack.

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      In my opinion, Leaf Brooch really hits the sweet spot in 2 hero Secrecy decks. With 3, you’re likely starting too high to make effective use of it. With 1 hero, you run into the problems you described with lack of access to enough spheres. With 2, you can stay at Secrecy for a good long while (assuming you’re running the right heroes that have a low enough threat), and then Leaf Brooch comes into its own. The real problem to me is not with Leaf Brooch but again, as I said at the end of the article, with the lack of heroes that can really fit into Secrecy. I gave the Brooch a rating that reflects its potential to help Secrecy become a strong deck type in the future, but this is contingent on further support in the hero department (Glorfindel is getting a bit tired). Long story short, I agree with you overall. I do think, though, that Leaf Brooch will really shine eventually.

  3. Matthew D. permalink

    Elven Mail is one of those cards that appears flashy at first, and then has always sat in my hand, as there is always something better to play. 😦

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      After using Gondorian Shield, all other armor seems a bit tame in comparison.

  4. Jeremy permalink

    I really like Leaf Broach. For thematic sake, I run a Frodo, Sam deck, so keeping threat down is pretty easy with some good meals. Then you play the reading Leadership event that goes back to hand for free each turn if needed. The Spirit one will come. One on each hobbit has worked good so far. Resourceful, Bill, lots of free/cheap cards to play.

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      Definitely. For me, I’m trying to find the sweet spot of card draw to resources in my current Secrecy build. I’m ending up with so many resources through Resourceful that Leaf Brooch feels a bit superfluous. I want to add in some more card draw so that Resourceful and Leaf Brooch can work together to make an uber-powerful deck, but then this requires Lore to be added into my Spirit/Leadership, which means 3 heroes, which means less time to get the Brooch working. It needs some tweaking…

  5. Is *gains Secrecy 1* the same as +1 Secrecy? Based on how the card reads, I’m thinking not.

    • They specified in the spoiler article that Leaf Brooch’s secrecy stacks, so you can add secrecy values together. Just like you can use Grima to add Doomed 1 to a card that already has doomed on it… though those don’t usually cost any resources.

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      As Joe said, they do indeed stack. Just imagine a card reading Secrecy 2. And then the Secrecy 1 keyword being placed next to it by Leaf Brooch. You would resolve both for a total discount of 3.

      • Thanks for the clarification! They probably should have phrased it better but no matter, I get it now.

  6. Fouilloux permalink

    You will say I am a broken record (and you won’t be the first 😉 ) but I think there is one big issue with secrecy: okay, it is hard to have heros below the 20 threat threshold. But it’s even harder to keep your threat there. And why is that? because except for Gandalf, you can not do threat reduction outside of Spirit. So here again: you want a secrecy deck? Well take a spirit hero (and we all know who it’s gonna be). On the other hand, there is not so many good secrecy-friendly cards in the Spirit sphere…
    I tried a Leadership Aragorn/frodon deck that was kind of secrecy (I almost have no cards that supports it). I went well and was really fun du play, but not sure it is a very viable one. (I did take out a certain hill troll though)

    • Try a Dunhere/Glorfindel/Merry deck. Or a Pippin/Mirlonde/Frodo deck. Or Pippin/Mirlonde/Glorfindel. There are several decent choices, and with Leaf Brooch and Good Meal, you should be able to afford the Galadhrim’s Greeting and keep your threat low pretty easily. Lore has tons of great secrecy options, and Dunhere + Tactics is just about the best you’ll find for secrecy with attack power. If Glorfindel or some other Noldor are included in the deck, Elrond’s Counsel is free threat reduction plus a help in the willpower department.

      • Fouilloux permalink

        I will try them (specially because I love Dunhere, except that there is always someone playing with me that attarct all the enemy with a high threat… tsss). As soon I can get Mirlonde!(which is in my opinion a very good choice for a full lore secrecy deck. It just needs some lore threat reduction cards… Let’s dream about that)

        But I think we agree: no secrecy without Spirit.

        • Needful to Know is a Lore threat reduction card, but that’s it. You can use songs to splash in other threat reduction, but that’s inconsistent. The best starting threat you can have with a 3-hero mono-Lore deck would be 18 (Pippin-6, Mirlonde-5, Bifur-7), and with only 3 hit-or-miss threat reduction cards in the deck, you’re not likely to keep under 20 for long. I’ve played games starting at 18 or 19 with Spirit and have been able to stay in secrecy the whole game with the right card draw, but it’d be practically impossible with mono-Lore.

          Another combination that will work later this year is Galadriel/Glorfindel/Pippin. You could also replace Pippin with Merry, but I think Pippin works better. You start at 20 threat, but Galadriel’s ability is a consistent threat reduction and you shouldn’t have any questing trouble because new allies quest without exhausting, so you don’t need to worry about keeping some up for combat. Once you get Nenya on Galadriel, you’ll also have equal sphere balance because it gives her a Lore icon.

          • Fouilloux permalink

            Sound like good ideas woth trying! I just received Heir of Numenor, the black rider and Voice of isengard set, so I am really excited right now just to play those new quests, but the next thing I’ll do is probably try your combinations.

            By the way I have a question, that is kind of linked to that issue: It appears that the quest are quest so much harder that you almost need to have a specialized deck for each quest. Is is just a false feeling that I get through reading blogs or is it true? And if it is, how do you do to try new deck archetype?

            • I haven’t gotten to play them myself, but overall from what I’ve seen, they emphasize different aspects than other quests tend to, so there will generally be a bit of specialization.

            • TalesfromtheCards permalink

              It definitely is true that quests are getting more and more specialized over time, but I wouldn’t emphasize it too much to the point where you can’t use the same deck on two different quests. In multiplayer, you can get away with using the same decks usually because you have more decks to cover multiple areas of the game, whereas in solo you really do have to tailor to certain quests if they are very specialized. Generally, I like to take any old deck against a quest the first time and then pay attention to what didn’t work. Do I need to add more attack power? More treachery cancellation? More threat reduction because I lost due to threat? More defense?

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      Not a broken record at all. I completely agree that Secrecy biggest flaw right now is not the cards it has available, but the heroes available. I think it has all the cards it needs to be effective, but the hero selection is just not where it needs to be. Joe has definitely provided some good options, but we need some more to really kick Secrecy up to the next level, especially in terms of 2 hero decks.

  7. Tracker1 permalink

    Elven Mail I have not used, but I have not invested in building a solo silvan deck in a while. So far I’m thinking my silvan deck is going to end up being Leadership, spirit , lore. I think it’s going to be hard to get tactics in the deck. I think it will be a card seldom used for me since sentinel does not do anything in solo, and generally I’m more interested in Defense buffs. For a Brothers deck I would included it though. 4 hp defenders feel a bit fragile, and direct damage from shadow cards can be a concern.

    I’ve tried Warden of Arnor, and even for a 1 cost card it sat in my hand, and if I decide to play it I’ll often forget to trigger it’s ability. I guess I just don’t find that extra 1 point of progress to be all that valuable. I dropped down to 1 copy in the deck and then removed it all together. It was not worth the deck space for only triggering a few times a game in solo play for my tastes.

    I have tried Leaf Brooch in some secrecy decks, and I don’t find it making a big difference, so I took it out. Resourceful is better in every way. Maybe the brooch is better in the early game, but often if it’s in my hand I don’t want pay for it since I’d rather save it for an ally or attachment. The Brooch becomes useless in the mid late game. By that point even if I’m still in secrecy, my heroes will have lots of resources to spare. So triggering the Brooch to save a resource is pointless. There seems to be some synergy with the secrecy 1 cost events we are getting that can be returned hand, but personally I am not super excited about those events either.

    All these cards have potential to get better, but for now they are not getting much use even after trying 2 of them a good amount. The one I have not tried is the Elven mail, and I think it’s the best of the batch and there are lots of Noldor and silvan targets for it. Sentinel in multiplayer would be quite useful I suspect.

    • I agree that Resourceful is way better than Leaf Brooch. If Leaf Brooch was free, it might stand a chance. In any case, events tend to be the cheapest things in the game, so Leaf Brooch would be for more beneficial if it effect every card type, or even just one of the others.

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      I can’t argue too much with your assessment of Elven Mail and Warden. I can definitely see what you’re saying with Leaf Brooch. There is no question that Resourceful is better. The question to me is how to best optimize a deck so that Leaf Brooch and Resourceful work in tandem to create a strong power curve, which means finding a way to get a ton of card draw implemented as well. I think the Brooch is best as an early game play that saves resources that might have been used for events so that more allies and attachments can be played. For example, in a 2 hero Secrecy deck, I can play the Brooch early, and know that I can always play A Test of Will or Timely Aid while devoting resources to other things. I think the Brooch will become quite good in the future, which is why I gave it such a high rating, but this is dependent on more Secrecy options emerging, especially in terms of heroes.

  8. My biggest issue with Leaf Brooch is that secrecy decks tend to have Lore for me because they have several good secrecy events for encounter manipulation (which is great when you start at a disadvantage). The issue is that most of the cards that I play early would already cost me 0: Daeron’s Runes, Risk Some Light, Needful to Know. Leaf Brooch probably works great for the other spheres because you’re less likely to play their events in the planning phase for 0 anyway (there are notable exceptions, like A Very Good Tale). I think Leaf Brooch is best for Spirit or Tactics. If we had any viable Tactics options other than Merry, this would be a really good thing for Tactics. Spirit is almost a must for secrecy decks, so at least it works well for them, but I’d prefer to be able to create secrecy decks with spirit if possible, just because it is so necessary.

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      I can definitely see that. I think this is an area where experience tends to influence perception, as I mostly have been playing Secrecy with Leadership/Spirit and there are a few events there that fit the bill for the Brooch. But then you run into the problem with lacking card draw. Ideally, a Lore/Leadership/Spirit Secrecy build would give you access to all of the key Secrecy cards, but then you’re starting at a higher threat with 3 heroes and this gives less time for the Brooch to operate, unless you can get those threat reduction effects out early, which then brings up problems of consistency…Secrecy deck building is definitely not for the faint of heart.

  9. One of the things that I found interesting that was barely touched upon with Elven Mail. In the past, there have been a lot of people who complained about Silvan Tracker not having enough targets. Most Silvan characters have only 1 or 2 hit points. Most people talk about putting it on Silvan Tracker, but you can put it on any of the Silvan allies to spread the HP around.

    Also, it’s pretty rare that people mention that Silvan Trackers can stack, so if you have 3 trackers plus Elrond out, you can heal 6 from EVERY readying Silvan character. 3 trackers is a bit ambitious but I’ve gotten 2 out in several games. Even without Elrond, that’s pretty powerful in Silvan decks. Allows the Trackers, Haldir, and Celeborn to all take 2 damage each turn with no repercussions, and that’s without the Elven Mail.

    • catastrophic09 permalink

      Yeah that’s what will make this attachment so great, the Silvan Tracker/ Elrond combo is awesome!

  10. Tracker1 permalink

    One of the best 3 hero secrecy teams is Pippin Lore, Glorfindel spirit, and Sam. 19 threat, but it should have no problem dropping back into secrecy early on, and all the best secrecy cards are available, but even with this build I found I did not need the Brooch. It was the type of card that just did not seem to matter much since most heroes were not paying for cards every round they had enough resources to pay for what was needed. Once resourceful was in the picture it just felt silly to even trigger the Brooch since I already had a mountain of resources.

    Maybe first turn would be great, but in a few rounds it does not do much. Not sure I want to add 3 or even 2 copies just to hope for in opening hand. I might not even need to pay for an event for a few rounds. Of course it’s all situational, and subject to change with um hum, the new Gandalf hero and all. The Brooch might be the best 2 hero secrecy card out there once some new heroes are introduced. 2 hero secrecy with Gandalf can probably work out nice.

  11. Silver Swan permalink

    One option that hasn’t been mentioned is Harbor-master and Elven Mail. Like Glorfindel he can receive Burning Brand, and with Resourceful+Steward of Gondor he can get 3 defense a round, with Envoy from Pelargir and Gaining Strength giving boosts as needed.
    I just noticed Ravenhill Scout does not place progress tokens, so his ability can be used to explore Orc Camp in the staging area or any location for Assault on Osgiliath.
    I’d want Spirit Glorfindel to cost 7 threat so he wasn’t so overpowered if that didn’t make Secrecy so difficult. How do Secrecy decks using Nori or Dwalin play?

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      Good call. To be honest, that’s really a product of my possibly unfair aversion to Harbor-master. I considered mentioning him, but didn’t really feel like it was worthwhile enough of a combo. But I’ve heard from enough people, including yourself, who have used Harbor-master to good effect that I’ll really have to devote some time to making him work sometime soon.

      Spirit Glorfindel is definitely under-costed for sure, but as you say, he’s also pretty integral to Secrecy. I haven’t tried a Nori or Dwalin Secrecy Dwarf deck, although it should be viable in theory (Nori would be the better choice). Nori and Bifur would put you at 16 already. So going straight Dwarves would be tough. Probably combining Nori with Hobbits or Glorfindel would be the best bet.

  12. Eucatastrophe permalink

    I’ve been using Leaf Broach + Good Meal + Galadrhim’s Greeting + Hobbit pipes + Resourceful in my Hobbit Pipe deck for a couple of months, and you’re right, the combo is downright deadly. The best part about it is that Secrecy is so much easier to maintain with G. Greeting in the mix. Most games, I’m at threat zero for the last several turns.

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      It definitely takes the right deck and combination to work, but I definitely think Leaf Brooch has potential and will get better over time.

  13. I have built a very very good secrecy deck, with Brooch, of course. And a very good deck with Idraen and Warden, about manipulating locations.

    Elven Mail still not used, maybe with the next adventure pack, increasing elven cards ^^.

    Good attachments, for sure.

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      I think Elven Mail just got a boost with the new hero that was just spoiled for Trouble in Tharbad. I won’t spoil it in case people are trying to avoid spoilers, but I can definitely see one specific use for the Mail now.

  14. FetaCheese permalink

    Warden of Arnor combos with Asfaloth, allowing the player to get rid of the numerous and pesky 3 point locations the moment tney enter play. It appears to be a compliment rather than a replacement for our usual questing gimmicks, and the same can be said for Idraen in relation to Glorfindel… getting rid of 3 cost location ghen both are readu0y to attack for 6. Looks like a match made in FFG haven.

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      I agree. Sometimes it is tempting to simply compare two effects of the same type as if they are mutually exclusive, but Warden of Arnor is a good example of a card that seems meant to work in tandem with other location control effects rather than as a stand-alone or substitute.

  15. sweetnesswhachacha permalink

    Leaf brooch is the one card that makes me think about trying a secrecy deck again although the sphere limitation is my biggest concern. (Also, as an aside, it looks very green, both on screen and in person, making me think it was a lore card)

    Warden of Arnor is very exciting, I love thalin and this card creates, as you said, a location thalin. Hopefully in practice it works, although crunching the numbers I’m not so sure.

    Elven mail, I’d rather have the armor than the hit points. This card I passed over, as it seems like the enemies nowadays seem so strong that allies get squashed, and this card maybe buys them a second round to block. I’m unimpressed but will have to try it to see

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