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The Nin-in-Eilph: Hero Review

by on November 4, 2014

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It is a glorious time for LOTR LCG players, as we are currently experiencing one of those periods where there is a seeming glut of content, with the recent release of The Road Darkens and the latest Adventure Pack in the Ring-maker cycle, The Nin-in-Eilph, following close on its heels. It is to the latter pack that we now turn our attention, beginning with a brand new hero for the Tactics sphere. It was always going to be a tough ask for any hero to follow up the powerhouse that is hero Gandalf, but I will strive to not let that cloud my judgement on this latest addition: Mablung. We’ve had a mix of traits and styles when it comes to the heroes in this cycle so far: a leader of Silvan (Celeborn), a Dunedain for the Spirit sphere (Idraen), and a Silvan sniper (Haldir). I wasn’t, however, expecting to get a Gondorian Ranger, especially one from the Tactics sphere with a resource generation ability, but surprises are great and keep players on their toes. The real question is whether or not this newest Tactics hero can carve out a place among a selection of Tactics heroes that is already quite good. Read on to find out the answer!

HERO

* Mablung (Tactics Hero, 10 threat, 2 willpower, 2 attack, 2 defense, 4 hit points):

Mablung

The Ranger trait is an interesting beast, in that it is not tied to one specific “race” or “people” of Middle-earth, but can actually be found in a few different places. For example, the Dunedain of the North are known as Rangers, while Elves, both Silvan and Noldor, have their own Rangers, with Elladan and Elrohir being a great example. Of course, the final group of Rangers are those who owe their allegiance to Gondor and were led by Faramir during the time period of The Lord of the Rings. The Ranger trait can thus be thought of as being analogous to a character “class” in an RPG as opposed to their “race”, referring to a certain profession or role, rather than a culture or society. Therefore, while there are quite a few heroes in the game with the Ranger trait, representing characters that are skilled in tracking and knowledgeable about the wild, Faramir has so far been the only one with both the Gondor and Ranger traits (so “Ranger decks” as they exist now always entail moving beyond a pure “Ithilien Ranger” theme). This may be a bit of a surprising realization, as we’ve so far seen a great deal of support for this deck type in other ways, from Lore allies that have both the Gondor and Ranger traits to a variety of Lore trap attachments and complementary events that are clearly meant to be part of a Gondorian Ranger playstyle that is concentrated in the Lore sphere. This archetype has focused on keeping enemies in the staging area and using various tricks to deal direct damage to them or prevent them from attacking at all. However, now another hero has arrived that boasts both the Ranger and Gondor traits, but strangely he occupies the Tactics sphere  and provides a resource for engaging enemies:

Response: After you engage an enemy, add 1 resource to Mablung’s resource pool. (Limit once per phase.)

What are we to make of this seeming incongruity? Just to be clear, there are 2 main issues here: a seeming sphere mismatch and a strategy misalignment as well. Out of the 6 allies that currently have the Gondor and Ranger traits, 4 of them are Lore. The remaining 2, Faramir and Damrod, are in Leadership and Spirit respectively, with not a single representative in the Tactics sphere. Similarly, as mentioned before, traps like Ranger Spikes, Poisoned Stakes, Ithilien Pit, and Forest Snare all hail from the Lore sphere as well. So it is definitely a bit puzzling to suddenly get a Gondor Ranger hero from Tactics, one that seems to completely contradict the whole approach of this deck type, which is to avoid engaging enemies by keeping them in the staging area and/or dealing damage to them. The interaction between Mablung and the hero version of Faramir is a good example of this disconnect, with Faramir getting an attack bonus from keeping enemies in the staging area, while Mablung benefits from pulling down enemies as often as possible (Mablung’s high threat of 10 doesn’t make for a good partnership either, as these heroes combined would start at 21 without a third hero even added). This is odd considering that Mablung served directly under Faramir and in fact replaced him as commander of the Ithilien Rangers after Faramir’s injury! They should be a tight team and provide synergy for each other. If you had told me that Mablung was going to come out in this pack, without revealing any of the details, I would have guessed a Lore hero with a fairly low starting threat (to help prevent enemies from coming down too quickly) and/or a way of boosting enemy engagement costs.

Despite these questions, it is not impossible for Faramir and Mablung to work together, as you could use Ranger Spikes to keep 2-3 enemies in the staging area at all times to boost Faramir up to 4 or 5 attack and then use a “surgical strike” approach to dealing with enemies, pulling down 1 at a time (those that are not trapped) in order to give Mablung his resources and provide something for Faramir to attack. Mablung could also provide access to Tactics and Great Yew Bow, finally making it a bit more feasible to get that attachment on Faramir, although the same problem of keeping enemies in the staging area in order to use the Bow remains, and isn’t helped by Mablung’s high threat cost. Generally, resources are at a premium in a Lore Ranger trap deck, as the traps, attachments, and allies tend to be fairly expensive to get out on a consistent basis. On the one hand, Mablung could potentially help out with this problem, but on the other hand he’s gathering resources for entirely the wrong sphere and taking up a hero slot that you could use for a Lore hero that could be generating Lore resources for you outright. A potential solution could be to simply slap a Song of Wisdom on Mablung so that he could use the extra resources he generates to pay for Lore Ranger goodies. Again, though, this all requires a measure of setup time in a deck type that can already take some time to get running. Still, I have no doubt that I will soon be doing my best to create a Faramir/Mablung deck, and I look forward to hearing of any successes (or failures) that others might have in this same endeavor.

I began this article by pondering the current state of the Ranger trait in the game and how it is tied to various races. This was no accident, as in Mablung’s case, it’s important to understand how he can function well in Ranger decks that aren’t necessarily tied to the Gondor trait, traps, or the Ithilien Ranger theme. In fact, when FFG announced the next deluxe expansion, The Lost Realm, they revealed that there will be a focus on the Dunedain Ranger archetype, complete with a brand new Tactics Aragorn. This deck type will focus on providing positive benefits for engaging enemies and actually aims to engage them as often as possible. If all this sounds familiar, it’s because this is exactly what Mablung is all about. He too is a Tactics hero that rewards players for engaging enemies. Mablung therefore will likely form an incredibly strong and synergistic component of the Tactics Ranger deck type, which seemed tied to the Dunedain trait, but may also have some connections with Gondor as well, if Mablung is any indication. This will likely annoy players that try to stay as close to theme as possible, as Mablung traipsing around with Aragorn and other Dunedain of the North doesn’t make much sense. However, those who are willing to make a few thematic compromises will likely find Mablung to work seamlessly in a Tactics Rangers deck. Of course, one could argue that it would have been simple enough to keep the exact same stats and ability and use one of the Dunedain Ranger characters instead of Mablung in order to strictly separate the Ranger types, but the designers seemed to have decided to go in a different direction.

Leaving aside issues of theme and compatibility, it’s time to really dig into just how good (or bad) this hero is on his own terms. The primary strength of Mablung is that he provides in-built resource generation for the Tactics sphere, which is huge. There are a few important things to understand to comprehend just how important and unique Mablung is for the sphere. The first is that previously the Horn of Gondor was the only way to generate resources for Tactics. While it is certainly a strong card, and can be a massive wealth generator in the right decks, mainly those focusing around characters leaving play (i.e. Eagles, Rohan, Silvan, etc.), it also is a card that must be drawn and drawn early to have a meaningful impact on a game’s outcome. With Tactics largely struggling in the card draw department, this can be a bigger issue than it seems at first glance. The fact that Mablung generates resources from turn one without the need of another card is a great advantage. Even better, the trigger for creating these resources, namely engaging an enemy, is something that a Tactics player will be doing often anyway. Essentially, you are getting rewarded for a normal part of the game flow, without having to exhaust Mablung (as with Theodred) or even sacrifice a character (as with the Horn). Obviously, taking on an enemy can provide its own disadvantage, but again, a Tactics deck should be equipped to deal with constant combat anyway. In many cases, you’ll be generating at least 1 additional resource per round, possibly more if you are willing to deck build to make this happen, by including such cards as Westfold Outrider, Knight of Minas Tirith, and Son of Arnor that allow you to engage enemies outside of the encounter phase (the spoiled Dunedain Hunter and Tactics Aragorn will also help for this purpose). The limit of once per phase is an important limitation of this card, preventing massive abuse while still providing some room for shenanigans. Mablung can also do quite well against those quests that force you to engage with enemies outside of the encounter phase.

This brings us to the question of Mablung’s stat line. He is an extremely balanced hero, with 2 willpower, 2 attack, and 2 defense, with 4 hit points. This seems to be a common theme with several of the Ranger heroes, as Beravor and Faramir share this same stat line (although Faramir has 1 additional hit point). The idea seems to be to represent Rangers as well-rounded characters, who can cover ground and track, but also are comfortable in all kinds of combat situations. However, is this balance a positive or negative? There is a continuing debate around this very question as it concerns heroes and allies in this game in general. Is it better to have a highly specialized hero, like Beorn or Beregond or Eowyn, that don’t inflate your starting threat with stats you won’t need or want to use? For example, if Beorn had 1 willpower, that would bump him up to 13 threat, but when would you ever use him to quest? A common argument surrounding characters like Mablung is that they usually have a high starting threat, but don’t really provide a great deal of value in any one area, at least not without some help from attachments. Thus, Mablung can defend for 2, but nowadays, a defense of 3 or 4 is really necessary to be a solid defender over the course of an entire quest. Similarly, as the defense and hit points of enemies tends to be more robust now than in the past, an attack of 2 can feel pretty underpowered compared to other heavy-hitters in the Tactics sphere. 2 willpower is actually decent for Tactics, but obviously doesn’t compare to the best questers, and in multiplayer, your Tactics deck might not need to commit many characters anyway.

These arguments are certainly valid, and I don’t think there’s any doubt that there will be many times when you will be just 1 attack short of killing an enemy or 1 defense short of avoiding death and wish that Mablung was a bit more specialized in one area. However, it is also possible to overstate the case here as well. Balance means that you can customize Mablung to fit the particular needs of your deck, which means that he opens up a great deal of deck building possibilities, far more so than most other heroes in the Tactics sphere, who tend to be pretty slanted towards either attack or defense. If you need Mablung to be a defender, because your other heroes are strong in attack, then you can easily attach a Gondorian Shield, making use of that handy Gondor trait, in order to boost him up to 4 defense, which is on par with Beregond. If you already have defense covered, and need him to be an attacker instead, then you could attach a weapon like Dagger of Westernesse to him. Even better, why not use a thematic choice like Gondorian Fire, which could work particularly well since he is stockpiling resources anyway. A potentially fantastic option could be to use Support of the Eagles in conjunction with Mablung and a deck full of Eagle allies. His balanced stats could be a great boon here, as you could use Support of the Eagles to boost up either his attack or defense, depending on what you need in a given turn, making him an incredibly versatile hero. Finally, his 2 willpower is solid, though not spectacular. You could conceivably use attachments like Celebrian’s Stone or Dunedain Quest or even pair him up with Theoden to turn him into an even better quester, but it is a bit more difficult to do than with attack or defense. Still, having 2 willpower in Tactics is useful, and allows him to contribute for those important quest pushes or in a mono-Tactics setting. With balanced stats like these, action advantage can also be important. Fortunately, the new Ranger attachment that also comes in The Nin-in-Eilph Adventure Pack, Wingfoot, can help Mablung in this regard. If you have access to Spirit instead of Lore, Steed of the Mark is also an option, since Mablung can create the resources needed to power this readying effect, although Unexpected Courage is a better alternative.

Overall, Mablung is a strong hero with a unique ability for the sphere, and his value will definitely rise with the development of the Tactics Ranger/Dunedain Ranger deck type. However, he doesn’t necessarily automatically displace other Tactics heroes or lay a definitive claim to a hero slot. I don’t think that this is an indictment of Mablung, though, but rather a testament to how strong the hero pool for the Tactics sphere is, and it the sphere that could perhaps make the strongest case for having the best selection of heroes. What makes Mablung difficult is that, because of his balanced stats and seeming incongruity with the existing Gondor Ranger archetype, he is not a hero that automatically inserts himself into an existing deck. He also doesn’t come with a selection of ready made attachments like Gandalf or Glorfindel that help make deck building with him easy. However, this is also what makes this hero interesting. Mablung is a great choice for those players who enjoy exploring new types of decks and struggling through trial and error to uncover the full potential of cards. I’m still in the early stages of exploration with this new hero, but have found some joy in using him to help pay for expensive Eagle cards (becoming almost a replacement for Radagast in this respect) and using the aforementioned Support of the Eagles to great effect. One area that Mablung excels in that I haven’t mentioned is in being the sole Tactics hero in a multi-sphere deck, as he can help generate plenty of Tactics resources to pay for more expensive cards that might otherwise be out of reach when not using 2 or 3 Tactics heroes. Of course, you can also go the alternate route, and use Mablung as part of a mono-Tactics or dual-Tactics lineup, and even throw in Horn of Gondor for even more resource generation, aiming to pump out cards at a fantastic rate (although some form of card draw is needed to really pull this off). It’s also worth mentioning that while the Ranger aspect of Mablung gets the most attention, he also provides another option for Gondor decks, one that possesses solid willpower compared to many other Gondor heroes. Here, the match is perhaps closer than it with the Lore Rangers, as Gondor is all about combat and taking on enemies, so Mablung does help provide direct support for that deck type. The uses for Mablung are many, and the value is definitely there, he is just waiting for the patient and the adventurous to hit upon the right combinations and strategies.

Versatility: ♦♦♦◊◊

Efficiency: ♦♦♦◊◊

Uniqueness: ♦♦♦♦♦

Possible Attachment Choices: Wingfoot, Support of the Eagles, Gondorian Shield, Horn of Gondor, Gondorian Fire, Blood of Numenor, Steed of the Mark

Conclusion

The hero of The Nin-in-Eilph, Mablung, has arrived to help you explore and escape the marshes featured in the quest. While his synergy with the existing Gondor Rangers is low, his relationship with the upcoming Tactics Rangers is certain to be high. He does continue the trend of this cycle of providing players with solid player cards that aren’t over or underpowered, but rather require some thought and skill to use properly. All in all, Mablung is a cool character that deserved a hero incarnation, and while his synergy with the Ithilien Rangers isn’t there, I wouldn’t call him a disappointment by any means.

 

Readers, what are your thoughts on Mablung? What kind of combos and decks do you envision? Does he deserve a place in the Tactics sphere? Should he have had more synergy with the Ithilien Ranger deck type?

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From → Reviews

34 Comments
  1. I, for one, particularly like the balanced stats he brings to the game, as you can doctor his stats with other cards to suit your needs. Also, since he is so balanced, you can use him in many different kinds of quests while simply swapping certain cards in and out (Daggers, Shields, Celebrian’s Stone, etc.) to boost whichever one of the three main stats you want to.

    Paired with Wingfoot, he gets even better. Name enemy every time; if you don’t draw one, you likely won’t need him to be readied anyway.

  2. You kept mentioning engaging enemies during the combat phase, and that The Hammer-Stroke can be used to give him additional resources. First of all, you engage during the Encounter phase normally, and The Hammer-Stroke has an “Encounter Action”, so it doesn’t help at all.

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      I’m well aware that enemies are engaged during the encounter phase and not the combat phase. When you write as many posts as I do, on as little sleep as I do, little mistakes are natural. Hopefully the intent of what I was writing was actually crystal clear. You’re right about hammer stroke, I forgot it was only an encounter action.

      • I figured you knew about combat vs encounter phase. I just want to make sure it’s fixed so that people don’t get confused. If you engaged during the combat phase, Tactics Aragorn wouldn’t help out at all.

        Hammer-stroke would be really amazing if it wasn’t limited to the encounter phase. It would certainly help mono-Tactics be more viable because they could use it to pull enemies out of the staging area to lower the threat there.

        Anyway, thanks for your awesome insight and hard work you put into this blog. I consider you to be the most “fair” card reviewer because you tend to look at things for more perspectives than practically anyone. Keep it up!

        Also, sorry for so many comments already 😛

        • Matthew D. permalink

          Ian’s most fair?! I think my reviews on The Grey Company: “If it’s not Taticcs, it’s not good!” are plenty fair! 😛

        • TalesfromtheCards permalink

          Thanks for the kind words! I do try to be as balanced as possible. This means that I can be a bit of a fence-sitter sometimes, but I try to throw as much stuff out of there as possible to help people brainstorm and form their own ideas about cards!

          And thanks for pointing out the mistakes. It does allow me to fix them and avoid any confusion or new players taking away the wrong message. Upon re-reading my response, hopefully it didn’t come off too mean-spirited!

          • Yea, it’s the written internet. I tried to assume you weren’t upset, but wanted to appease you if you were. 🙂

  3. I have to say, Mablung is the least exciting hero from a pack in recent memory. I think the key problem I have is something you touched on briefly – thematically, his stats make zero sense. Mablung should be a hero that pairs perfectly with Faramir. These are guys who have spent years and years working together throughout the realm of Gondor. They have vanquished orcs, tracked enemies, and survived in the wild together. But you wouldn’t know that from this hero.

    Heck, I think Mablung makes more sense in some sort of Rohan tactics uber deck than he does with the other rangers. I’m sure the designers know what they are doing long-term, but my initial glance is that they got poor Mablung all wrong. I might just skip this pack for a while. There are plenty of combos I have yet to discover in “The Road Darkens” anyway.

    • When you are like me and haven’t read the books, all you really care about is the words and numbers on the card. It is definitely odd that he has the Ranger trait but is largely non-synergistic with other rangers, but that doesn’t mean the trait is useless. Currently, it allows him to use Wing-foot which matches him pretty well considering he has 2 base willpower.

      His Gondor trait tends to work with far more synergy with him because he gains resources (typical of Gondor) and gives him access to ways to utilize those resources. His Tactics sphere gives him some awesome opportunities to make eagles more viable and give Tactics some more decent resource generation in general.

      I agree that he’s somewhat lackluster from the first glance, but if you work with him he can be pretty awesome in my eyes.

  4. I wish he had the Warrior trait so that he could hold the spoiled Captain of Gondor attachment. That card would work very well with him if he could hold it. The Valiant Warrior Boon card could come in quite handy here, though.

    I think one of his strengths is the number of viable options for him, especially with his traits (though, like I said, it would be awesome if he had “warrior” as well). Gondor gives him access to Gondorian Shield, Blood of Numenor, and Behind Strong Walls for great defending. It gives him access to Gondorian Fire for offense. The resource generation helps with two of those attachments, and also helps pay for lots of Eagles and Support of the Eagles. Ranger trait allows him to use Wing-foot so you don’t waste the 2 (3-4 with Theoden and/or Visionary Leadership) willpower. He could also hold Visionary Leadership himself and his ability helps keep it active.

    I’m annoyed that he doesn’t have any built-in stats of 3, so it is more difficult to make him a powerhouse, but the lack of a 3 also makes you feel less stupid for wasting it if you prefer to use him in a way that doesn’t utilize that 3 stat (eg. you use him as an attacker even though his attack stat is 2 and his defense is 3). While a 3 stat doesn’t limit him to the role associated with that stat, it definitely creates a mindset that you should limit him to that role.

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      It would be nice for him to get use out of that Captain of Gondor attachment. I seem to remember in a spoiler article, the designers saying that those “class traits” like Ranger and Warrior would get specific support, with Captain of Gondor being the Warrior support. I suppose Wingfoot is the Ranger support, so I’m not sure if we’ll see Mablung get any special help in the form of attachments, at least for the rest of the cycle, but with The Lost Realm focusing on Rangers of the Dunedain variety, I’m sure he’ll benefit, unless all those cards key off of Dunedain instead of Ranger. I guess we’ll have to wait and see!

  5. catastrophic09 permalink

    Yeah, when I first saw him my initial thoughts were, “”what is this, a random Gondor hero who doesn’t have synergy with what I think he should??” But beyond that surprise he is actually really good. A solid resource every round and flexibility to do anything- he can definitely fit in a lot of decks so I really like that and he’ll definitely get better with future cards in the next cycle 🙂

    Why though doesn’t he have the Scout trait!!?? That really annoys me that they started bringing in this Scout trait and made an attachment that is really meant for one hero (can only go on 2!) and yet the leader of scouts doesn’t have the trait! Didn’t they read the flavor text they put on the card? Or also the Warrior trait- Captain of Gondor would have been great on him but now neither him or Faramir can be a Captain of Gondor… that really annoys me but whatever.

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      Those “class” traits like healer, warrior, scout, ranger, etc.have been extremely haphazard throughout the life of the game. I wish they had been assigned in a more logical or organized fashion, as there is a lot of weirdness with characters not having traits that they obviously should. The only way this really ever gets addressed is if we get multiple versions of the same hero, with different traits for each version, so as to represent different sides of them, as with the 3 different versions of Aragorn.

      • catastrophic09 permalink

        Yeah I also wish those traits weren’t so inconsistent, the best fix in my mind are player cards that add a trait just like those boons from the black riders- I would love for those to be actual player cards! 🙂

    • I totally agree about the Scout trait. His flavor text even quotes the passage where he’s called the leader of the “scouts” who warn the Captains of the West!

  6. Gwaihir the Windlord permalink

    Gondorian fire is amazing on Mablung! Never put it to good use before, but now have finally found the perfect candidate. I was honestly expecting a Dunedain ranger hero, but nevertheless, Mablung has well-rounded stats and will improve the Ranger trait!

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      So far, the best use I’ve found for Gondorian Fire has been with Boromir. However, with the in-built resource generation, Mablung could become a fierce attacker. If you add on Horn of Gondor to him too, he could really be swinging for a crazy amount.

  7. Thaddeus Papke permalink

    I haven’t played him yet, but I replaced Thalin in a mono-tactics deck I have. Thalin was just there because of his relatively low starting threat and to ping enemies. Even if I just quest with Mablung, he’s contributing more than Thalin (or as much if someone was playing Dain) but also giving me much needed resources that I think will be more valuable than those little bits of damage. I’m anxious to see how he plays.
    It’s too bad he’s not more thematic with Faramir and co. though.

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      I was just thinking today that I haven’t used Thalin in ages. With enemies getting higher hit points over time, his 1 point of damage just doesn’t seem as worthwhile anymore. I would like to try my hand at another Thalin super direct damage deck with the card pool that’s available now though.

  8. Wow, Ian I have a LOT of things to say about your review, specifically speaking of the Gondor Ranger archetype. And if you wander sometimes on BGG, you should know I’m a fanboy of the archetype. I do think that Mablung is a good candidate for a Lore-Tactis Gondorian Ranger deck. Let’s have a look at what you find underwhleming about Mablung in such a deck, and turn it into my perspective (which may be totally wrong).

    First of all, you should know that i’ve recently built what I deemed is my first really effective Ranger of Ithilien deck with the hero line-up Boromir (Leadership) / Pippin (Lore) / Faramir. I’m going to talk a bit about his one first. You can find the BGG thread here: http://boardgamegeek.com/thread/1251678/rangers-ithilien-wingfoot-changes-it-all

    That deck works amazingly in multiplayer, and is decent solo-wise. You are right in the fact that the Rangers of Ithilien are somewhat Lore cards, a lot of them, with an aim to keep the enemies in the staging area. I think it’s true of course, but I do think that it’s an imperative necessity in terms of playstyle. I’m a player who favors little tricks and small (but powerful) effects when playing. I’m thus a great fan of Lore, as it has the most subtle yet powerful effects IMO. You often are compelled anyway to think a lot what to play in the Lore sphere as you often end up with tons of expensive cards in your hand. This is a mix between a pure Lore Ranger of Ithilien and a Gondor ally-spamming deck.

    So the basis of my Faramir/Pippin/Boromir is to say: I need at least two Lore heroes, to pay for cards. And as it’s not near enough, let’s provide resource acceleration. And thus enters Boromir with the Steward of Gondor. My threat is at 22 already, so I throw in Pippin, because:
    1) He’s failry thematic, we know he enters Gondor’s service in the end
    2) He is exactly what you described “Mablung should have been”: +1 threat cost for enemies, low starting threat
    The deck starts at 28, wich is decent, especially as we’ve seen (lately) a rebalancing in enemies engagements costs (that tended to get smaller with the game power creep).

    I could have taken Théodred, Sam or a Leadership hero with a lower threat insted of Boromir, but my decks are designed from a theme perspective, always.

    I’m not entirely playing traps, just the Poisoned Stakes and of course the Ranger Spikes. Enemies often engage me, but they took some hit along the way thanks to all the direct damage effects. With Ranger Spikes staying in the staging are, you can always boost Faramir to a grand total of 5, without any weapon, so it’s kinda of a powerful effect. Let’s not even talk about Visionary Leadership or the static Boromir boost to allies. You quest like hell and if an enemy shows up, chump block and strike back.

    I realize I may not be totally clear, but I don’t think you should play the Lore Ithilien/Trap cards as a defintive archetype. These are tools to bolster the Gondorian Rangers. To soften the enemies before they engage you. Based on that experience I think I could come up with a Gondorian Ranger deck with Mablung, though the deck would work differently of course.

    Let’s get back to topic.

    First, Mablung hight starting threat is ok, a team of Faramir/Mablung/Pippin (Lore) sits at 27 threat (26 if you consider the +1 static boost to enemies engagement cost of Pippin).

    Secondly, Mablung is definitely delivered with tools (if not his own), them being past (Gondorian Shield as you mentioned), present (Wingfoot, as he quest for 2 willpower, as Faramir), or future (Captain of Gondor).

    Third, Mablung’s ability. Where I used Boromir solely to get the WILD resource acceleration, I think Mablung’s ability is a “shielding” ability (in terms of deckbuilding). You want to have a resource “in case” an enemy engages you, for example, to play a Feint, Behind Strong Walls, or a direct damage event. The Tactics sphere is full of those 1-cost events. Of course, the Tactics sphere give an access to all Weapons, the Gondorian Shield, the Feint, the Great Yew Bow, Hands Upon the Bow etc. You can always soften the resource curve by throwing a Song of Wisdom on Mablung to generate more Lore resource.

    I think until recently the Lore-Tactics combination was the worst sphere combination you could play. Both expensive spheres with few resource acceleration. Well, Mablung gives you exactly that. And we have more and more cheap Lore-Tactics cards. This deck would obviously play very differently than the Leadership/Lore one, and I don’t think it will ever be effective for solo play. True enough, it’s not perfect, Mablung/Faramir is not the Elladan/Elrohir obvious synergy, it will take a lot more thoughts to get a deck working with those too, but let’s give it a try!

    I’ll send something to you when I finally come up with something.

    PS: hoping for a 2-cost (maximum) Tactics Gondor Ranger ally. I’ve already been hopping since the start of the cycle: I got Ithilien Lookout, Noisless Movement, Wingfoot and Mablung 🙂

    • Just realized you can’t put Captain of Gondor on Mablung, as he’s not a Warrior. Really, really bad.

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      Hi banania, thanks for the thoughtful post and the great deck ideas! I think combining Gondor and Ranger together makes sense, and I think Mablung has made it make it a lot more sense. However, to me it’s still odd, and this is what is reflected in my review, that Mablung would reflect the Gondor side of the equation more than the Ithilien Ranger side. If there is any character that should reflect the Ithilien Ranger aspect more than anyone else, perhaps besides Faramir, it is Mablung. So while Gondor and Ranger can work together, I think Mablung should be firmly in the Lore/Ithilien Ranger camp. I also think it should be completely possible to play the Ithilien Ranger as an archetype all by itself, without necessarily including any Gondor elements. I have built such decks in the past and they work fairly well, but Mablung should have been a key component to make them even better. Unfortunately, that is clearly not his role.

      I don’t feel too strongly about the issue, though, and I’m glad that Mablung is opening up the possibility of a Gondor/Ranger deck combination for a lot of people.

  9. Gwaihir the Windlord permalink

    Was I the only one that expected Halbarad as the hero in this AP? Because Mablung was a complete shock to me. “Ranger” screams “Dunedain” to me at times. But do I believe him to be bad?
    I have said it many times: I am a theme player, and therefore my first thoughts on a hero are strictly thematic. when I opened my box and saw Mablung’s effect, threat cost, and sphere, my mind instantly began thinking along the terms of gameplay.
    TftC, all the points you made ran through my head the minute I saw him (and I shall repeat them here, for this rant’s sake; feel free to skip it if you’d like). First off: engaging enemies? Doesn’t that defeat the purpose of Rangers? Trapping enemies in the staging area in what Faramir is all about, not engaging them. Second: sphere. It’s hard enough to find resources to pay for traps in a mono-Lore deck, let alone dual-sphere. And finally: threat cost. 10. Simply too high to run a ranger deck with (although Faramir/Mirlonde/Mablung could work; starting threat of 27 I think).
    Leaving aside the trait-contrary disorder, Mablung has a solid two willpower in the Tactics sphere, and a built-in resource generation effect that won’t force one out of the sphere’s comfort zone. Basically, one is getting paid for doing what you were going to do anyway in Tactics: smash enemies into the ground.
    All points being made, Mablung is a decent hero for any Tactics deck that needs more willpower or resources, and as a red-lover myself, I believe he will see my table at times. However, when thinking theme, I doubt anyone would use Mablung and Faramir in the same Gondor Ranger deck (side note: I use Faramir/MIrlonde/Pippin, and it works fairly well), and Mablung is no stellar addition to LoTR: LCG.

    • William O'Brien permalink

      Halbarad seems like a solid bet for the second hero in Lost Realm. I’d really like to see another Spirit hero for the Dunedain deck.

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      I know exactly what you mean, Gwaihir, and that’s exactly how I reacted to Mablung as well. I can completely appreciate him in terms of gameplay and he is very useful for a lot of reasons, but in terms of theme, it doesn’t feel quite right to me.

  10. I love this new hero! I rarely have more than one Tactics hero, so he is an ideal add. Threat of 10 isn’t unusual for a Tactics character.

    As you said, 2 willpower is strong for Tactics. The 2 defense can easily be increased via the Gondorian Shield. While 2 attack is low, that is the best stat to have as a low value; allies (or attachments) with attack are everywhere in Tactics and he even gives resources to help pay for them.

    I’d say Mablung is the best Hero at being the sole sphere Hero within a deck. Resource balancing, strong versatility and easy access to attack and defense increases makes him awesome!

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      Definitely. He can absolutely shine as the sole Tactics hero in a deck, and I do like that role, as he can be an easy to splash in useful Tactics attachments and events.

  11. Nusse permalink

    The way i see it, the Gondor/Ranger dynamic is not so much about keeping enemies in the staging area as about bouncing them back and forth. His ability doesn’t reinforce Faramir’s but it complements it: you can engage an enemy, get Mablung’s resource, defend with Behind strong walls, send enemy back to the staging area with Ithilien Archer and Faramir still has a bonus.

    Mablung has a great synergy with the whole Lore sphere: associate him with Pippin and you will want to engage enemies every round. Let Bifur gobble up Mablung’s hard earned resources. Denethor and Mablung work perfectly together giving each other access to great attachments.

    The only hero that really has no business with Mablung, imho, is Haldir.

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      I get what you’re saying, but there’s two separate things going on here: the Gondor deck type and the Ithilien Ranger deck type. So far, from what I’ve seen from my own experience and other players, the two have traditionally been separated into different decks. Cards like Behind Strong Walls, Beregond, and the strong defensive-oriented cards are part of the Gondor type. The Ithilien Ranger deck type has been more about keeping enemies in the staging area, while using Ithilien Archer to bounce them back if they somehow engage or to hit them back into a trap.

      Now, there’s no reason to not combine the two and create a Gondor/Ranger deck type along the lines of what you’re describing. However, I would argue that this combination is actually a fairly new creation ushered in by Mablung himself. I would contend that Mablung still does not fit the Ithilien Ranger deck type at all, rather he fits into the Gondor deck type. Again, you can combine the 2, but Mablung still finds himself doing all the Gondor-type things and not the Ranger-type things, if that makes sense. I’m ok with this from a gameplay perspective and I love when new and interesting deck types are created. The theme side of me is what is bothered, as Mablung should scream out Lore Ranger/tricky trap character from every fiber of his being and leave the Gondor stuff to someone else.

      .I agree he’s great with Lore in general, particularly with the Bifur synergy. Again, my problem is not with mechanics/gameplay, but with theme.

  12. Kjeld permalink

    A mono tactics Mablung-Merry-Hama deck could be a fun and powerful enemy grinder. With foe-hammer and book of eldacar to support you can recycle feint/behind strong walls/gondorian discipline all day long for a defensive wall (plus gondorian shield) while Hama (plus Merry as needed) slices through foes. The best part is that Mablung pays for it all! In down times, such a deck can even contribute substantially to questing, which I think makes it attractive compared to other mono-tactics multiplayer builds.

  13. Sechen permalink

    Mablung is an amazing buddy for Haldir in a two player game. One player has haldir and ever engages anything, the other player has Mablung and gives haldir toys, paid for by the fact that they engage everything. The Mablung side has tactics, which has everything Haldir wants for support (weapons, spearmen, spears), while haldir’s side can do just about anything.

  14. sweetnesswhachacha permalink

    Again you have pointed out something I’ve overlooked: his ability can be triggered each phase. His threat as with other tactics heroes is quite high, the question being is it worth it for an extra resource each turn? I think in terms of the doomed event you pay 4 in threat for 3 resources. If that card us worthwhile, than that means 4 turns gves you 4 resources meaning in a way he costs 6 threat (I know there are glaring inconsistencies here) which would make Him worthwhile ? The obvious jump out is gondorian fire, but I think the true test will be when the next cycle starts. I havent yet given him a try, but looking forward to it.

    Oh and I’d agree tactics has soooooo many good heroe options

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