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The Road Darkens: Attachments Review

by on October 22, 2014

lotr-the-road-darkens-cover

The Road Darkens is packed full of attachments. Most of these, though, are special Boon attachments that can only be used in Campaign Mode, which does make me thrilled at the prospect of continuing the epic two-handed Campaign that I began seemingly ages ago (look for the first installment of the continuing adventure soon!), but also a bit sad that there are only three “real” attachments in the box, one of which is also Saga-specific, since it is part of the Fellowship sphere. Both of the remaining attachments are pretty much tied at the hip to Gandalf, which means that if you are not at all interested in using hero Gandalf, The Road Darkens doesn’t give you much in the attachment department, and attachments tend to be the most powerful card type in the game. Still, if you are even slightly interested in giving hero Gandalf a spin, you’ll want to pay close attention to both the Wizard Pipe and Gandalf’s Staff.

ATTACHMENTS

* Gandalf’s Staff (Neutral Attachment, 2 cost):

Gandalf's-Staff

Let’s get one thing out of the way immediately: Gandalf’s Staff is one of the most powerful attachments in the entire game. This may seem like hyperbole, but I assure you it’s not. For a moderate cost of 2, you get consistent access to 2 of the core abilities of the game, resource generation and card draw, along with shadow removal, which can be equally crucial. This helps to transform hero Gandalf into a reasonable facsimile of Core Gandalf versatility:

Attach to Gandalf. Restricted.

Action: Exhaust Gandalf’s Staff to (choose one): choose a player to draw 1 card, add 1 resource to a hero’s resource pool, or discard a shadow card from a non-unique enemy.

A card that grants you an additional card each round is great (hello Gleowine and Bilbo), a card that gives you an extra resource each turn is fantastic (nice to see you there, Resourceful), and a card that can discard a shadow each round is amazing (a repeatable Dawn Take You All or Rider of the Mark?). Getting all of these effects in a single card is outright astounding. This overall package is even better when you consider that any player can be chosen to benefit from any of these effects, and the sheer versatility of Gandalf’s Staff is what makes it so potent, whether in solo or multiplayer. I’d easily pay 3 resources for this same card, but I suppose the cost of 2 makes sense in that this is a card that can only attach to Gandalf and no one else, and this serves as a kind of limitation. While the issue of character-specific attachments can sometimes provoke debate, I am personally a fan of this type of approach when it comes to certain cards, as it gives you an incentive to use a particular hero, and gives them powers that no one else can tough. If that wasn’t enough, the staff is called Gandalf’s Staff after all!

Since this attachment is truly so versatile, outlining all possible combinations and uses for it is an impossible task. What can you use an extra resource in any hero’s resource pool for? Just about anything under the sun. This could be used to power certain abilities, like Core Aragorn’s readying or Blood of Numenor/Gondorian Fire. It also could be used to place the resource where it can best be used during planning. This can work wonderfully in multi-sphere decks to give the right sphere the resources it needs to pay for a certain card. In multiplayer, this takes on an added dimension, where the player most in need of a resource can get it, so that the most important effect for a particular moment can be played. Of course, this requires some discussion and debate, and your mileage may depend on how strictly you interpret the “table talk” rules, but however you slice the lembas, the reality is that this resource generation is perhaps not as powerful as Steward of Gondor in terms of focused wealth creation, but does have the advantage in flexibility. For many reasons, I advocate waiting to use Gandalf’s Staff for any of its effects until later in a round, and resource generation is no different. Giving that resource to your Spirit hero to play some shiny new ally might be nice, but you don’t want to be left kicking yourself later because you could’ve given a Tactics hero a resource to play a crucial Feint during combat against that enemy you didn’t count on appearing during planning. Remember, kids, the motto of Gandalf’s Staff is, “When in doubt, wait it out”.

The card draw effect, similar to the resource generation, is endlessly useful. More than likely, you will be using it to give yourself an extra card during planning if you don’t have any good options available and are really looking to draw something that will turn the tide. Of course, this can also be applied to another player, especially that Tactics guys who can’t seem to draw cards to save his life. There are only a few cards that actually feed off of discarding cards, but you could use Gandalf’s Staff to generate cards to use with Protector of Lorien or Eowyn. More than likely though, this is simply a matter of getting extra card draw when you need it, without having to spend any resources or include additional cards in your deck. Since Gandalf and his staff are Neutral and since the card can be granted to any player, this form of card draw is even more useful and powerful in that any sphere can benefit from it, even those that don’t have great card draw options. This is an effect that you might be justified in activating early in a round, despite my earlier advice, because it can help to find more options during the planning phase. Then again, if you don’t necessarily need card draw at that point, you can always wait until later in the round to see if you need the resource or shadow removal. If not, you can end up drawing the card for next round.

This brings us to the shadow removal function. Some of the subtle timing rules in this game can be easily misconstrued or difficult to understand, but they come into play in an important way here. Shadow cards are revealed and resolved simultaneously as part of the same step of the combat phase. This means that there is no opportunity to intervene once a shadow card is revealed, other than to play a “response” effect, such as Hasty Stroke. If you remove a shadow card with Gandalf’s Staff after it has been revealed, this will have no effect. This means you must either choose to remove a shadow card blindly, or use a card like Silver Lamp or Dark Knowledge that provides knowledge about shadow cards. Still, although I’ve heard some rumblings that the shadow removal is the weakest of the three effects, I have to heartily disagree. I find that I use the shadow removal as much, if not more than, the card draw and resource generation. Of course, this depends on how the rest of your deck is constructed. In this way, Gandalf’s Staff can mold to fit the needs of whatever you’re playing. So if you have Steward of Gondor and tons of resource generation, you’ll probably end up using the other effects. If you have A Burning Brand and plenty of Hasty Strokes around, you probably won’t need the shadow removal much. That being said, I’ve used Gandalf’s Stuff plenty in conjunction with A Burning Brand. For example, if I’m engaged with two enemies, I’ll use the defender with A Burning Brand to take care of one of them, and then use the Staff to discard the shadow from the other, effectively nullifying shadows for the round. Also keep in mind that while you might have some nice shadow cancellation on your side, a friend in multiplayer might not, so Gandalf’s Staff can come to someone else’s rescue once more. The one big weakness here is that the shadow card can only be removed from a non-unique enemy, but this is a necessary restraint, in my opinion, to prevent big boss enemies from being completely de-fanged.

I have a feeling that my love for the shadow removal aspect of Gandalf’s Staff might be a tad controversial, but usually the Gandalf decks I’ve built have enough resources and card draw to work efficiently, while shadow effects remain an area of the game that can ruin the best laid plans. Although it might seem to be a mistake to “waste” the Staff on discarding a shadow card if it has no effect, I’d rather play it safe than get burned. Again, though, there are plenty of times that I do use the resource or extra card, it’s just that waiting until at least after staging gives me a better idea of what the best use for the Staff is during a particular round. However you choose to employ the Staff, there really is no use in picking “favorites”, as the power of this attachment lies in its versatility and flexibility. There is never a moment where I’m unhappy to draw this card and wish that I had drawn something else. Similarly, there’s never a moment when I have it in play when I feel that it is superfluous or when I can’t find a good use for it. This is the mark of a strong card, and it really enhances the feeling when you’re controlling Gandalf that you are indeed controlling a formidable Istari with subtle yet otherworldly powers (after all Gandalf’s staff is the symbol of his power and should be appropriately powerful). When using hero Gandalf, this card demands 3 copies without question, unless you are supremely confident in your card draw or have some great fetching options, such as Word of Command. Even then, I want this card to come out as early as possible, so I wouldn’t argue with 3 copies in any Gandalf deck. One area that I haven’t touched on yet is that this attachment can actually be placed on the ally versions of Gandalf. Obviously, Core Gandalf is a poor fit because of his transient nature, but OHaUH Gandalf could make great use of the Staff, because he can stay in play indefinitely as long as you are willing and able to take on the threat gain. I happen to be a big fan of that version of Gandalf, and I would definitely consider including at least a couple of copies of Gandalf’s Staff in a deck that includes him, as you could then make use of all the great benefits described above but without the need to use the Gandalf hero. The only problem here is the need to draw 2 cards to make the combo work, and if Gandalf’s Staff emerges without OHaUH Gandalf, then it is essentially a dead card in your hand. Still, this attachment can make the Hobbit version of Gandalf even more powerful than he already is, so much so that he will make your heroes look a little feeble in comparison.

At the end of the day, there’s really nothing quite like Gandalf’s Staff. An attachment that has the repeatable power to grant either an extra resource or card each round, or remove a shadow card, is unprecedented and unparalleled.

Versatility: ♦◊◊◊◊ [can only be used in a hero/OHaUH Gandalf deck]

Efficiency: ♦♦♦♦♦

Uniqueness: ♦♦♦♦♦

Wizard Pipe (Neutral Attachment, 1 cost):

Wizard-Pipe

Wizard Pipe perhaps win the award for getting the most mentions in this blog before the actual review. I’ve been dancing around fully analyzing this card until it was time to actually give the Pipe its full due and now that moment has finally arrived. Before all the cards in The Road Darkens were spoiled, there was plenty of discussion around hero Gandalf, especially how potentially difficult it would be to pay for cards given that Gandalf can only use his resources to pay for the top card of your deck. Some speculated that this would be the one great weakness of hero Gandalf, and would help to limit his power. However, the Wizard Pipe completely shatters such notions, as it works around that restriction fairly effortlessly:

Attach to an Istari character. Limit 1 per character.

Action: Exhaust Wizard Pipe to exchange a card in your hand with the top card of your deck.

With the Wizard Pipe, a Gandalf owner gains a measure of control over which card will be the top card of his or her deck, which opens up plenty of possibilities and smooths over any resource match problems. Without the Wizard Pipe, it is easy to get stuck in a situation where you can’t pay for the top card of your deck on a given turn, end up drawing it into your hand the following turn, and then lose the ability to pay for it with Gandalf’s resources. This can particularly be a problem if that card happens to be from a sphere that you don’t have a resource match for, because you splashed it into your deck in the hopes that Gandalf could pay for it. With the Wizard Pipe, this problem goes up in smoke, as you can simply move it back to the top of your deck and pull the top card into your hand in exchange. To take one typical example, one Gandalf deck I run does not include Leadership but does have a couple of copies of Steward of Gondor. There have been a few times where Steward was the top card of my deck, but I didn’t have the resources to put it into play, and I had to draw it at the beginning of the next round. With the Wizard Pipe, I can put the Steward of Gondor back on top of my deck and use Gandalf’s resources to pay for it after all. This is the first main use of the Wizard Pipe: enabling resource matches. This function can also be used to simply allow Gandalf to help pay for whatever is most important at the moment. For example, imagine that I have 1 Spirit hero, 1 Lore hero, and Gandalf, each with 1 resource. Unexpected Courage is in my hand while A Burning Brand is the top card of my deck. I can either use Gandalf’s resource to pay for A Burning Brand or switch Unexpected Courage to the top of my deck using Wizard Pipe and have Gandalf help pay for that card instead. In this way, I have a great deal of flexibility in responding to the needs of the moment, and can decide whether I need action advantage or shadow cancellation more for the upcoming round, to take just one example. Without Gandalf and Wizard Pipe, if I just had a Spirit or Lore hero instead, I could only pay for 1 of the 2 options, or would have to save until the next turn. Hopefully, this example helps to demonstrate just why Gandalf and his trusty Pipe can be so powerful, as they turn Gandalf into a multi-sphere hero that allows you to shape your deck and meet the needs of a scenario as the game changes.

Of course, beyond resource smoothing and splashing, there’s also room for plenty of shenanigans. The most obvious is the combination with Flame of Anor, as Wizard Pipe can move a high-cost card to the top of your deck to give you the exact attack boost you need (or to make sure that you are discarding a card that you don’t really need). Another combination that will no doubt be popular is with Elrond and Vilya. The Wizard Pipe can put a high-cost or useful card from your hand onto the top of your deck so that Vilya can put it into play for free. Therefore, not only does Gandalf let you use Vilya with 100% knowledge of what will be played, Wizard Pipe ups the ante by giving you a broader range of options of what can be played on a given turn by the ring. This is one reason why the Gandalf/Elrond combination can be so powerful. For example, if I had Gildor in my hand, I could use the Wizard Pipe to put him on the top of my deck so that Vilya could put him into play for no cost instead of the 5 resources I would otherwise have to pay. Beyond just cost reduction, though, again it is flexibility that really rules the day here. I could play the top card of my deck normally using Gandalf’s ability, then move a Feint from hand to the top of my deck so that Vilya can play it during the combat phase. Note that doing so would allow me to access 2 cards during the turn that I wouldn’t normally get to see or use (the original card I played plus the new one that I switch with Feint). This underlines the “card draw” aspect of Gandalf and the Wizard Pipe, that is another component of a Gandalf deck’s power. If card draw and flexibility aren’t enough for you, a simple resource engine is also easy enough to set up by including 3 copies of Hidden Cache along with Expert Treasure-hunter. Normally, Hidden Cache is a bit of a dead card when you draw it instead of discarding it (although you can pay a resource to replace it), but with the Wizard Pipe you can put it back on top of your deck, then discard it with Expert Treasure-hunter, naming “event” to bring it back into your hand and netting 2 resources. If you love mining, the Wizard Pipe can also guarantee at least 1 resource from Zigil Miner as well, along with getting rid of a card that you might not want or an extra unique.

There are quite a few other possibilities as well, and they will only grow with time. I can’t possibly hit all of them, but I’m sure the comments will be filled with potential uses! To list a few more intriguing options, Wizard Pipe can have a similar relationship with Timely Aid as it does with Vilya, allowing you to put a high-cost ally onto the top of your deck in order for it to be played for free. The Pipe can also make it easier to cycle through one’s deck and avoid duplicate uniques as well. For example, you might be disappointed to see that extra copy of Arwen on the top of your deck, but you could move her to hand with Wizard Pipe, then discard her to fuel Eowyn’s ability or Protector of Lorien (alternatively, you could get rid of her through Expert Treasure-hunter, a.k.a. Gandalf’s best friend). This will not only help fund useful abilities, but move a new card to the top of your deck, preventing your deck from stalling out or at least minimizing the possibility. The Wizard Pipe can also be used to creatively circumvent or deal with certain quest-specific mechanics. For example, playing cards from the top of your deck or switching cards between your hand and the top of your deck doesn’t count as drawing a card, so you can avoid some of the nastiness from Dunland enemies.

With the Wizard Pipe so essential to enhancing Gandalf, some have compared it to Light of Valinor’s relationship with Spirit Glorfindel. However, the Pipe actually has the advantage here, as it can be fetched from anywhere in your deck with ally Bilbo, also part of this expansion! This makes it remarkably easy to get the Wizard Pipe into play. In fact, in my plays with Gandalf, I usually am able to get the Wizard Pipe onto the table on turn 1 or turn 2, and have never seen it hit later than turn 3. This makes it, and Gandalf decks in general, remarkably consistent, far more so than appearances might suggest. As a final note, the Wizard Pipe can actually be attached to any Istari character, not just hero Gandalf. Again, Core Gandalf is obviously not a great choice. Radagast and OHaUH Gandalf are both possibilities, but lack much of the ability to use the Pipe to its full potential because they are missing the top card function of hero Gandalf. Still, you could use these allies to enable Elrond/Vilya and some of the other combinations I’ve mentioned here. It’s something that I wouldn’t really want to take up space for in most decks, and I’m not as excited about the potential here as with OHaUH Gandalf and the Staff, but it might be worth exploring for the more adventurous.

As an overall package, Wizard Pipe, like Gandalf’s Staff, is an automatic must-include for hero Gandalf decks. You could include 3 copies or use ally Bilbo as your “extra copies” of the Pipe. My preferred option is 3 copies of Bilbo and 1 copy of the Wizard Pipe, as I only need 1 Pipe, while Bilbo can be sacrificed and played again if I draw further copies. Like the Staff, the Pipe is also quite cheap, costing only 1 resource, and Neutral, which makes it remarkably easy to get it into play as soon as possible. All in all, Gandalf’s toys, like the man himself, are quite impressive and have built the foundation for an incredibly strong new deck type.

Versatility: ♦◊◊◊◊ [limited to hero Gandalf/OHaUH Gandalf/Radagast]

Efficiency: ♦♦♦♦♦

Uniqueness: ♦♦♦♦◊

Fellowship of the Ring (Fellowship Attachment, 2 cost):

Fellowship-of-the-Ring

Generally, I’ve avoided reviewing any of the Saga-specific cards, since they are limited in their use to a small selection of quests. However, I’ve decided to make a special exception here as one day the entire Lord of the Rings Saga will cover an amazing 18 scenarios (20+ if you count the current special scenarios and any ones that are released in the future), so these “fifth sphere” cards can actually get a fair bit of mileage. With that in mind, I’ll devote a small bit of space to this special attachment. Fellowship of the Ring is a fairly simple card, granting a willpower boost to all heroes:

Attach to the Ring-bearer.

Each hero gets +1 .

Forced: After a character is destroyed, discard Fellowship of the Ring.

I’ll be completely honest and admit that I was a bit disappointed when I first saw Fellowship of the Ring. We’re talking about a card that shares a title with one of the parts of The Lord of the Rings after all! The “fellowship” is an enduring idea of individuals from different peoples coming together to fight for a common cause, leaving aside old grievances and differences to do so. This is a concept that has influenced countless stories and games, and forms the center of one of the most memorable elements of Tolkien’s epic story. To translate such a notion into a card form is a tough ask, and so it’s not surprising that I would be a bit let down, no matter what form the Fellowship card actually took. I actually never expected to see a card named Fellowship of the Ring, so it’s gratifying that the designers even made the attempt.

I suppose that my disappointment was wrapped up in the simplicity of the card. Anyone who has played my First Age expansion knows that my taste sometimes tends to the complex, and I probably expected a Fellowship of the Ring card to have a bit more to it, perhaps allowing for the sharing of traits/abilities, the selection of company members, or something along those lines. Instead, we got a basic +1 willpower boost to all heroes. However, after reflection, simplicity does have its place, and this card does a solid job of representing the idea of the fellowship, with each member uniting around the Ring-bearer, and getting a boost to their courage and determination from this union. The forced effect is what really drives the card home, as the Fellowship of the Ring is discarded after a character is destroyed, with the idea being that once the fellowship is “broken” by death, then the special bond is lost, or at least altered, as we see with Boromir’s death in the book. Of course, “after a hero is destroyed” would probably have been more thematically appropriate, but the broadening of this forced effect to allies as well makes better gameplay sense in restricting the power of the card and giving players more to ponder when handling combat. In terms of making use of Fellowship of the Ring, I would argue that it’s worth at least including 1 copy in your deck. The cost of 2 is actually cheaper than it appears, as those Fellowship resources aren’t being used for much else, other than paying for Frodo’s ability or Neutral cards. To put the cost in further perspective, Favor of the Lady costs 2 resources to give just 1 hero an additional 1 willpower! The card also gets better with more players, as the effect is added to all heroes in play. The only real issue would be taking up deck space for an “extraneous” card. Still, extra willpower can never be a bad thing, and pairing Fellowship of the Ring with Sword that was Broken would be particularly powerful.

Versatility: ♦◊◊◊◊ [limited to LOTR Saga]

Efficiency: ♦♦♦♦◊

Uniqueness: ♦♦♦◊◊

Conclusion

The attachments of The Road Darkens revolve around Gandalf and help to push him to a higher level of power. Both the Wizard Pipe and Gandalf’s Staff are essential to hero Gandalf decks, but not much use otherwise, other than some intriguing possibilities for OHaUH Gandalf. Still, while these very specific attachments might not suit everyone’s tastes, they do allow players to buy the expansion and immediately start building a strong Gandalf deck without having to wait for further development. This is a choice that definitely makes sense to me, and hopefully we will see more attachment love for the other fellowship members in future Saga expansions.

Readers, what are your thoughts on the attachments of The Road Darkens? What is your favorite Gandalf’s Staff effect? What is the best use you have put the Wizard pipe to? Is Fellowship of the Ring worth including in a deck?

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26 Comments
  1. Alduc permalink

    When using Expert Treasure-Hunter with Hidden Cache I’m not certain it’s necessary to guess incorrectly – on the contrary, guessing correctly makes if possible to recur Hidden Cache. The wording of Expert Treasure-Hunter is as follow: “Response: After attached hero quests successfully, name a card type and discard the top card of your deck. If the discarded card is the named type, take it into your hand.” When guessing correctly, the following happens: Hidden Cache is discarded, generating resources, and then it gets added to hand.

    It can get rather silly, I admit.

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      You’re correct. This is a good example of one of the dangers of getting too comfortable with the cards where you stop reading them closely after awhile.

  2. Silver Swan permalink

    You neglected to mention the interaction between Wizard Pipe and Smoke Rings. Wizard Pipe puts Smoke Rings back in the game. You can have a deck with Gandalf and 2 hobbit heroes to offset his cost, Radagast in deck, and of course ally Bilbo, and end up with a boost of 1 willpower to all your heroes and reduce your threat by 5 and draw 3 cards (through Hobbit Pipe) by having 5 pipes in play and playing Smoke Rings – all for 2 resources. (You’d want to Sneak Attack Bilbo or use Borne Aloft on him to fetch all the copies.) Alternatively, you can have your Hobbit Pipe deck give Hero Gandalf in another deck a willpower boost, and that’s only some of the possibilities…

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      There’s definitely some intriguing possibilities there. I’ll admit that Smoke Rings is a bit of a blind spot for me, as although I love the theme of the card, along with Hobbit Pipe, I’ve always felt that it is a bit too inconsistent for my tastes compared to similar cards. Ally Bilbo definitely changes things a bit, along with having 2 Pipes in the game instead of just one. I still wonder how feasible it is to get that many Pipes into play on a consistent basis, but thanks for bringing this up! A super Pipe deck is definitely on my to-build list.

  3. Expert Treasure Hunter always discards the top card, THEN it puts it in your hand if the guess was correct. You do not need to “guess incorrectly” with Hidden Cache. You can guess correctly, discard Hidden Cache, gain the 2 resources, then pull Hidden Cache back into your hand so you can do it again next round.

    I’ve also seen some pretty sweet Gandalf/Elrond decks just filled with eagles. Then you can add Radagast to the mix (can potentially be put into play for free) who can then generate resources to pay for more eagles. He can also hold a second Wizard Pipe, which is nice because I feel like the greatest restriction in Gandalf/Elrond decks is that you can only use the Wizard Pipe once per round.

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      Leaving aside Gandalf for the moment, I’ve actually warmed up a bit to Radagast lately. I’ve been toying around with a mono-Tactics Theoden Eagle deck recently and Radagast works pretty well within that build (although the Wizard Pipe doesn’t really have a role to play).

  4. Glowwyrm permalink

    The real restriction with Gandalf isn’t the lack of core set Gandalf for everyone, it’s the annoyance you cause with your forever long planning phases. ; ) I made a Gandalf, Eowyn, Idraen deck that burned through the deck by mining and then paid for expensive offsphere allies with stand and fight or big G’s ability depending on we here they were located). With tons of player deck/discard pile manipulation and lots of readying tricks, the deck was a blast to play and I never got stuck with dead cards. Gandalf and his toys make interesting deck building and playing options.

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      “The real restriction with Gandalf isn’t the lack of core set Gandalf for everyone, it’s the annoyance you cause with your forever long planning phases.”

      Hahaha. Now ain’t that the truth!

  5. Gandalf is my favorite character from the books. With head and shoulders. The mystique about him, his powers and his wisdom are such cool things. I may even like Gandalf the Grey more than his White version, because then he still is the cool underdog I guess. And even more mysterious.
    Any card symbolizing him should be a real power card. And that he is. He is such a strong powerful hero.
    Also, he should have powerfull tools as in the books, and he was the strongest one of the Fellowship. So it is only fitting that someone who slayed a Balrog (and had no powerconflict with the Witch-King (sadly) however as stated in the movies) has some cool tricks up his sleeve.

    Wizard Pipe indeed nullifies Gandalf’s weakness, but I think the designers did a cool job in representing this with a Pipe! 🙂 Also I think his weakness is not really thát nuffilied because you can only use the Pipe once and it does not gíve the spheres to him. And of course Bilbo is remains his friend until the end of the story as is the same here.

    Gandalf’s Staff is really cool! I like the staff that PJ made in the movies, because it looks very awesome! The Gandalf the White staff I find more meeh.. I do not really know how to explain, but again for me the Grey is a cooler one. Don’t get me wrong, Gandalf the White is awesome and he deserved it all along. I like the shadow removal function the most, but the resource option is pretty handy too, especially in multiplayer where you can give one resource quickly to another player so he can play something formidable or a Feint (etc.).

    The Fellowship card in my opinion are not that cool. The fact that it says destroyed does make it a bit better, but still it is not a real powercard. Allies with 1 hp are easily destroyed, so the Fellowship card would imo only work early game. In a 1player game it is easier to control, because if you take deck space for this card, you have the security you can play it (if it shows up). In multiplayer, Frodo shifts the bord and it could force you to wait 4 turns and other people spending his resources. Resulting in a dead card in hand. But it’s force (+1 willpower) does count more in multiplayer. 🙂

    Cool review, and I’m always very happy to see a message in my mailbox stating “New post..”. A note on your campaign though, you stated “In campaign mode I am forced to play more thematic”, and then you include EOWYN?! That was a bit of a bummer to me. 😉 Can not wait for your continuing though, as for your Campaign with the Dwarfmining deck.

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      Haha, well, although I do try to stay close to theme when playing the sagas, I tend to be a pretty practical player at the end of the day, and all that willpower with Eowyn was too hard to pass up when it came to hide tests and the rest of The Black Riders. Things may change for my official Road Darkens playthrough though, we’ll just have to wait and see! The campaign stuff usually takes me a while to pump out between playing, taking notes, and writing up everything, but I plan to continue both campaigns very soon!

  6. Pengolodh permalink

    Fellowship of the Ring is an amazing card, and paired with Sword that was Broken, it can solve all of your questing problems. During a play through of The Ring Goes South, Sam had an astounding five willpower! Also, during stage one of The Breaking of the Fellowship, Fellowship of the Ring allows heroes such as Legolas (with only one willpower) to commit to the quest for two, and since threat can build rapidly in the staging area, every little bit counts.
    Wizard Pipe did allow Gandalf to gain +8 attack during Journey in the Dark through two Flames of Anor, discarding Boromir and Resourceful. I mainly used Gandalf’s Staff for resources, but discarding shadows would have to be a close second.
    By the way, when using Gandalf’s ability, can other heroes with a resource match pay for that card?

    • Yes other heroes that you control can also help pay for cards off the top of your deck.

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      What Joe said! You can indeed pay for the top card with other heroes’ resources.

      I think Fellowship of the Ring is good as well in terms of gameplay, my disappointment was more a thematic one, as I hoped to see some kind of an effect we’ve never seen before, but I’m ultimately happy with the final result.

      • Pengolodh permalink

        Thanks! Although that would have been useful to know earlier…

    • Great tip on Sword that was Broken + Fellowship of the Ring. My solo Road Darkens deck is Tactics Boromir, Sam, Leadership Aragorn. Get out the Sword, Celebrian’s Stone, Fellowship, Sting, and Anduril, and some of these guys are questing like crazy.

  7. I think Gandalf’s hero form represents one of, if not the biggest shakeups to deck building in the LotR: LCG. He sets a new record for threat cost (albeit only slightly higher than Elrond). He redefines how players treat their deck, moving from an unknown factor to an open book. He also alters how hero resources are spent with his built-in limitation (although it’s hard to call it a limitation when Wizard Pipe is on the table). And maybe most importantly to non-Gandalf hero users, he removes the ability for anyone else to use Ally Gandalf.

    I can’t wait to use him, but I think it will be a month or two before we see people really maximizing his potential. It’s so much to learn!

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      Agreed! That’s why I don’t mind him being so powerful. I don’t necessarily mind powerful cards and decks as long as they provide interesting deck building options rather than simply build themselves into one specific mold (i.e. Outlands).

  8. Alduc permalink

    The day I bought The Road Darkens I made a Gandalf/Sam/Frodo deck without taking apart any of my other decks (so, using only the new cards and those leftover in my collection). Testing it, it became clear that it was my strongest deck to date; yesterday I used it to easily pulverize the Balrog in Shadow and Flame.

    I think the Saga Expansion are being designed to be also well-balanced for the casual players that will buy *only* them – plus a core set, obviously.

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      While Gandalf might be a bit complicated for new players, I do think he provides a powerful option for them to use to have a chance against these more difficult scenarios, although they won’t have the benefit of all the supporting cards in the card pool.

  9. Stoian permalink

    Another question:What is in front of Gandalf in Gandalf’s Staff art?A big rock from Moria?

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      Yeah, it looks like some kind of structure in Moria. It’s weirdly shaped though, so maybe it’s supposed to be broken?

  10. Stoian permalink

    Sorry,but I have another question.In Bamfurlong .What is on the fence?To pumpkins and a cat?Where are the mushrooms?What is in front of the fence.There are carrots?

    • Stoian permalink

      The carrots are in front of the house?

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      Hmm, it’s a bit hard to see. Pumpkins and a cat sounds about right. I don’t see any mushrooms outright. I think what’s growing in the field is supposed to be carrots.

  11. Stoian permalink

    Sorry i wanted to say ,,two pumpkins..”

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