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Celebrimbor’s Secret: Attachments Review

by on December 17, 2014

celebrimbor

It looks like Fantasy Flight Games is set to drop a surprise holiday present in our laps, as The Antlered Crown, the final Adventure Pack in the Ring-maker cycle, is due to be released in about a week’s time. That means it’s time to ramp up the pace and finish out the player cards review of Celebrimbor’s Secret, first with a look at the attachments here and later in the week with a glance at the events. We’ve already seen that the hero and allies have been incredibly solid, so it remains to be seen whether the rest of the cards round out Celebrimbor’s Secret to perhaps be the best overall set of player cards in the cycle so far. It was probably a given that a pack containing a high-profile hero like Galadriel would see at least some space devoted to her “toys”, as we’ve seen with other heroes like Glorfindel and Gandalf. However, that’s not the whole story, and there are some interesting finds to be had for various deck types in this latest expansion.

ATTACHMENTS

Heir of Mardil (Leadership Attachment, 1 cost):

Heir-of-Mardil

Traditionally, the Leadership sphere has been home to quite a few readying effects, but generally these have been built into heroes or part of one-time use attachments or events. In this context, the arrival of a repeatable readying attachment is a major addition to the meta :

Response: After attached hero gains any number of resources from a card effect, exhaust Heir of Mardil to ready attached hero.

Pairing resource generation with the sphere makes perfect sense. Unfortunately, while Leadership has the reputation of being the sphere of resource generation, there are actually only a quite limited set of options for repeatable resource generation, which is what you really want in order to make Heir of Mardil consistent enough to be effective. One option is Theodred and the Heir of Mardil certainly works perfectly with this hero. Theodred can commit to the quest, give the resource to himself, and then ready using Heir of Mardil. This allows him to get use out of his ability, while still being able to contribute his 2 attack to combat, thus making Theodred a far more versatile and effective hero. Alternatively, you can attach the Heir of Mardil to a different Noble hero, and then use Theodred to give them a resource and ready them. Gloin is another option. Generally, a Gloin deck has to struggle with the tension between getting damage on Gloin, usually through defending, and getting use out of his willpower and attack strength. With Heir of Mardil, you could defend with Gloin, then once he takes damage and gains resources, he could ready and be available to strike back. Again, the Heir of Mardil is a great way to revitalize an old Leadership hero from the Core Set.

Of course, Steward of Gondor is the third repeatable option in Leadership and the one that probably first springs to mind when considering the best card to use with Heir of Mardil. The positive aspect of Steward is that you have total control over the timing of the resource generation, compared to Theodred, where it must take place during quest commitment, or Gloin, where it is tied to damage being inflicted. Instead, you can potentially exhaust the Steward during any action window to generate resources for the attached hero and thus ready them through the Heir of Mardil at will. However, in practice there are some limitations, or at least temptations. Usually, a player wants to use Steward of Gondor during the planning phase to create resources that they can immediately use to pay for cards. However, doing so would render Heir of Mardil worthless for that round as then you wouldn’t be able to use the Steward later to gain resources and ready the attached hero during questing or combat, for example. Instead, you would have to consciously choose to delay gaining resources until after planning. This may or may not have a major impact on your ability to play cards or ramp up the power level of your deck. The resources will still be there for next round’s planning phase to use or potentially for events later in the same round, but the playing of allies and attachments would essentially be delayed. Still, while this may seem like a sizable objection against Heir of Mardil, I don’t find this to be too damaging in most cases. In my experience, the need to use Steward of Gondor feels most pressing when you first attach it and want to quickly accelerate the playing of cards. However, as the game progresses, the hero with Steward often tends to amass resources and/or might not be as pressed to generate them right away, and this is where Heir of Mardil really can shine: as a mid-to-late game means to add repeatable action advantage. Keep in mind that there are also other options beyond Steward of Gondor. Resource generation events like Wealth of Gondor can work well in a deck including Heir of Mardil to provide readying during any action window. Moving outside Leadership, Horn of Gondor could also work well, as a a chump blocker could leave play during combat, granting a resource to the Horn holder and readying them for another defense or for attack, assuming that they had exhausted for some other purpose earlier. Gandalf’s Staff can also provide an easy means to ready a hero with Heir of Mardil attached through the ability to place a resource on them, although Gandalf himself cannot benefit from the attachment, since he does not have the Noble trait.

Readying attachments often draw the inevitable comparison to Unexpected Courage, but that isn’t really a fair or appropriate comparison, as we’re talking about two different spheres. While Spirit has had access to the extremely flexible and permanent readying of Unexpected Courage from the very beginning, Leadership has not had this luxury. To suddenly have access to this kind of effect is potentially game-changing and can open up a lot of space for new deck types that use Leadership but not Spirit. Even with Spirit included, Heir of Mardil is a great deal, as it costs 1 fewer resource and doesn’t have any other sustained costs (as with something like Steed of the Mark), which makes it potentially easier to get into play more quickly than Unexpected Courage. The one restriction I haven’t mentioned is that this attachment can only be placed on Noble heroes, but that trait is common enough that this limitation isn’t too punishing. Overall, when considering how vital action advantage can be, Heir of Mardil is one of the best cards to be released this cycle and an invaluable addition to the card pool.

Versatility: ♦♦♦♦◊

Efficiency: ♦♦♦♦♦

Uniqueness: ♦♦♦♦◊

Mirror of Galadriel (Spirit Attachment, 1 cost):

Mirror-of-Galadriel

It would be a bit strange to finally have a Galadriel hero but not have a card to represent one of the most memorable items associated with the character: her mirror. I would have forgiven the designers if they chose to avoid this artifact altogether or simply abstract it into the hero itself, as pinning down such a memorable yet nebulous concept is difficult. However, they took the Mirror of Galadriel head on and really hit the bulls-eye in terms of theme:

Attach to Galadriel.

Action: Exhaust Mirror of Galadriel to search the top 10 cards of your deck for a card and add it to your hand. Shuffle the rest back into your deck. Then, discard a random card from your hand.

In the story, the Mirror of Galadriel was all about providing a glimpse into the future that could be used to guide one’s actions. However, this knowledge was imperfect and did not necessarily represent destiny or what would happen with complete certainty. Similarly, the card version of the Mirror can give you access to the “future”, but this may end up not coming to pass (by discarding the card) or guiding you on a path that has other harmful consequences (discarding another useful card in your hand). In terms of gameplay, it’s fair to say that this is the most powerful “fetch” effect currently available in the card pool. Previous versions of this type of effect have been limited to certain traits (Mustering the Rohirrim, The Eagles Are Coming!, etc.) or could only trigger with a very limited set of conditions and as a one-time effect (Word of Command). The Mirror of Galadriel allows you to search the top 10 cards of your deck, as opposed to the usual 5, and take any card you want immediately into your hand. Not only that, but this can be done every single round as a repeatable effect.

Of course, this powerful effect comes with a substantial drawback. Discarding a random card from your hand means that you may discard the card that you just fetched. However, that might not be as damaging as discarding another valuable card in your hand, as you didn’t really have access to the fetched card before without the Mirror, so it’s almost like losing something you never had. On the other hand, losing out on A Test of Will or Feint or a valuable ally or attachment in your hand because you went searching with the Mirror would definitely feel a bit wrenching. What I really like about this negative effect in terms of card design is that it transforms the Mirror of Galadriel from being a simple power card that anyone in their right mind would simply include and use at will to one that involves much more strategic thinking and thoughtful decision-making. Now, if I really want to find that O Lorien! in my deck, I can use the Mirror to vastly increase my chances of getting it and playing it much earlier than would otherwise be the case. However, I have to weigh this gain against the risk of losing my only Defender of the Naith in hand or Unexpected Courage or some other useful card. This is a way of forcing players to judge the value of particular effects against each other given the current game state and make a risk assessment. It also means that I should get valuable cards out of my hand as quickly as possible, leaving more “fluff” around to increase the chances that the random discard will hit something I don’t really care about losing. For similar reasons, managing hand size is important with the Mirror of Galdriel as well, as sometimes it may be beneficial to avoid playing all the cards you can afford, because you might want to keep some in hand that are not necessarily essential at the moment to increase the chances of holding onto a more important card that you can fetch with the Mirror. Finally, using the Mirror of Galadriel each round is not necessarily desirable, as if you have a fairly decent hand and aren’t pressed to find a certain effect, it may make more sense to stand pat rather than lose something useful. Therefore, using the Mirror wisely is all about judging when to use it and when to abstain, and this is a nice wrinkle that prevents this attachment from just being another “exhaust and benefit” card like Steward of Gondor or Unexpected Courage. This, in my opinion, is actually a great positive, as I appreciate card design that includes both benefits and drawbacks, especially at this point in the development of the card pool. There are a few deck design decisions that you can make to mitigate the random discard a bit, from including card draw to create a larger hand size to including more uniques to provide more discard fodder. There also is the possibility of including recycling effects like Dwarven Tomb, Stand and Fight, Will of the West, and the various Record (i.e. Book of Eldacar, Map of Earnil, etc.) attachments, although those don’t necessarily guarantee getting back what you want as they are dependent on sphere and/or card type.

Obviously, the Mirror of Galadriel can only be used with Galadriel. However, is it essential in a Galadriel deck? I would stop short of saying that it is a “must-include”. It certainly is quite powerful and can bring impressive benefits if used wisely. However, a Galadriel deck can function fine without it and still be powerful, which is why I hesitate to label it essential. Instead, I would say that 2 copies are sufficient and I would not criticize someone who chose to leave it out completely. There is great gain to be had here, though, so I wouldn’t overlook this attachment lightly either.

Versatility: ♦◊◊◊◊

Efficiency: ♦♦♦♦◊

Uniqueness: ♦♦♦♦◊

Nenya (Neutral Attachment, 1 cost):

Nenya

I already covered this attachment in quite some detail in the hero review for this pack:

Attach to Galadriel. She gains a Lore resource icon.

Quest Action: Exhaust Nenya and Galadriel to add her to another character’s until the end of the phase.

In short, Nenya is a must-include in a Galadriel deck, especially in solo play, providing a huge dose of extra willpower that can be activated after staging for a great deal of control over questing pace. For further discussion, see the Galadriel review.

Versatility: ♦◊◊◊◊

Efficiency: ♦♦♦♦◊

Uniqueness: ♦♦♦♦♦

Cloak of Lorien (Lore Attachment, 1 cost):

Cloak-of-Lórien

Although Lore has featured a couple of great defensive attachments in the past, such as A Burning Brand and Protector of Lorien, actual defensive boosts have usually been the purview of Tactics or Leadership. Thus, Cloak of Lorien is quite valuable as a form of defense boosting:

Attach to a Noldor or Silvan character.

Limit 1 per character.

Attached character gets +1 (+2 instead if the active location has the Forest trait).

Paying one resource to gain one extra point of defense is a solid deal, equivalent to what you get with Dunedain Warning. On the other hand, the extra point of defense if the active location has the Forest trait is more of a bonus than something you can rely on, although obviously this is heavily dependent on quest. This makes the Cloak of Lorien strictly worse than Gondorian Shield, which is equal in cost, but provides a +2 defense bonus based on a trait that is built into the defender itself, and one that can be easily granted with Steward of Gondor as well. By contrast, the +2 bonus from Cloak of Lorien may be rock solid against a quest like The Druadan Forest or Into Fangorn, but may be completely unavailable against other scenarios. Thus, unless I’m building a deck specifically to face a certain quest that definitely features forests, I tend to always count on the Cloak of Lorien providing an extra point of defense and nothing more. Still, this is not a huge strike against this attachment, as I don’t expect every defensive attachment to be as good as Gondorian Shield, which is  on a higher level of power than most cards. Rather, the true power of Cloak of Lorien lies in which sphere it is part of and the flexibility of being able to attach it to an ally and not just a hero.

As already discussed, having a defense boosting attachment in Lore is huge. Being able to put the Cloak on an ally is also incredibly useful, especially for a Silvan deck. Generally, defense has been a weakness for the Silvan trait, but this deficiency has been steadily rectified as the cycle has developed, first with Elven Mail and now with the Cloak of Lorien. Rather than boasting huge defense boosts, Silvan decks rely on soaking damage and healing to deal with enemy attacks. The Silvan Tracker is key to this strategy, as this ally allows all Silvan characters to heal one damage when they ready during the refresh phase. This is actually a previously underrated form of healing, despite its global effect and incredible power, mainly because there weren’t enough Silvan characters around to bring out its full potential. Now, though, Silvan decks can use this global healing effect to defend, take damage, and then return no worse for the wear. Even better, this effects stacks with further copies of the Tracker. For this reason, I often find myself using Cloak of Lorien on allies moreso than heroes. This is not to say that it can’t be effective on Silvan or Noldor heroes, as characters like Celeborn, Elrond, and Elrohir can all be strong defensive options. Celeborn can defend for 3, Elrond can defend for 4 with access to A Burning Brand, while Elrohir can also defend for 4 but with the option to ready several times. However, placing a Cloak on a Silvan Tracker or Defender of the Naith provides a handy defensive solution that frees up my heroes for other duties. For example, with a Cloak of Lorien, a Silvan Tracker can defend for 2 (3 on the round it enters play with Celeborn around) with a reservoir of 3 hit points. This allows the Tracker to absorb a hit of up to 4 attack strength and survive. Obviously, this doesn’t work against bigger enemies, of course, but it usually is enough to deal with most foes. The Defender of the Naith can also work in a similar way for this purpose, with 1 fewer hit point, but with the ability to ready when a Silvan character leaves play, which makes for some ripe synergy with the usual Silvan tricks. If you have access to Tactics, then Elven Mail can also be placed on one of these allies, bumping up the Silvan Tracker to a 2 defense, 5 hit point powerhouse with healing ability, or the Defender of the Naith can be boosted to 3 defense and 4 hit points. These attachments can also be placed on one of the stronger unique Silvan or Noldor allies as well, such as Gildor Inglorion or Haldir, if you want an even sturdier defensive option (Gildor defending for 4 with A Burning Brand is basically like an extra hero when it comes to combat). Finally, since Elves aren’t typically powerhouses when it comes to siege questing, sprinkling Cloaks of Lorien across your heroes and allies can be a way to compensate for this weakness.

The Cloak of Lorien is not necessarily an automatic include in every Lore deck that includes Silvan or Noldor characters. My deck might be designed to serve a particular purpose or be built in such a way that defense is not a top priority and so other cards might take precedence. On the other hand, as a player who often uses Lore without access to defensive boosts through Tactics (or even Leadership), I find the Cloak of Lorien to be an incredibly invaluable addition to the sphere, albeit one that is limited to decks including Noldor or Silvan characters. Finding defensive solutions is still a primary factor in achieving victory, and as long as that’s the case, a card like Cloak of Lorien will have a place.

Versatility: ♦♦♦◊◊

Efficiency: ♦♦♦◊◊

Uniqueness: ♦♦♦♦◊

Conclusion

Four strong attachments have arrived to complement the fantastic hero and super set of allies. Two of them can be classified as “Galadriel’s toys”, but the other two, Cloak of Lorien and Heir of Mardil, provide strong support for other deck types. With this in mind, it’s clear the Celebrimbor’s Secret is one of the strongest, if not the strongest, pack in the cycle in terms of player cards, and The Antlered Crown will have its work cut out to surpass it. Of course, the events still remain to be scrutinized, so the final verdict is not complete.

Readers, what is your favorite attachment in this AP? Do you consider Nenya and the Mirror of Galadriel to be must-includes? How will you use the Cloak of Lorien? Is my opinion of Heir of Mardil too high, or do you share my enthusiasm?

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30 Comments
  1. Silver Swan permalink

    I love that the Silvan and Forest traits are connected with Cloak of Lorien. This is the first time I’ve noticed a player card benefiting from an encounter card trait, and that seems to have great potential as a development. Also, Cloak of Lorien can provide 2 defense without being restricted, independent of the enemy, and to allies. That makes it one of the strongest defensive cards.

    I had thought the Noble title attachment would refer to the dwarves, making more or less one per people (counting Wingfoot for Rohan, since Eomer gave Aragorn that name). Instead they go to the Dunedain and Gondor. The only title for the elves so far is Protector of Lorien.

    • I think the player cards that have potential to benefit from encounter cards in the past may have been Dwarves with Underground trait, such as in Untroubled by Darkness. http://hallofbeorn.com/Cards/Details/Untroubled-by-Darkness-KD

      • Silver Swan permalink

        Thanks. Ally Bombur, Ancestral Knowledge, Untroubled by Darkness and Ever my Heart Rises are all dwarf cards that interact with the Underground and Mountain traits. I hardly ever play dwarves so I’d forgotten.

        • TalesfromtheCards permalink

          The cards that are tied to location traits tend not to get much play, but they can be pretty powerful against certain quests and I do look to them when facing Nightmare quests or extremely difficult quests. For example, ally Bombur was key for me against Nightmare Shadow and Flame. I think Cloak of Lorien can do the same for certain scenarios.

  2. Ecthelion III permalink

    Wait…speaking lore-wise, isn’t “Heir of Mardil” just another way of saying “Steward of Gondor”? Synergy is implied in more ways than one…

    • Silver Swan permalink

      Almost. The heirs of Mardil are the house of the stewards, not just the Steward of Gondor. Strictly speaking, Steward of Gondor is only thematic for Denethor (and by the end of the last saga expansion, for Faramir), but Heir of Mardil is thematic for Denethor, Boromir, and Faramir, and the flavor text refers to the current steward’s heir, who bears the Horn of Gondor.

      • Ecthelion III permalink

        So it doesn’t make you feel as bad as you do when including Steward in every deck. 🙂

  3. Fouilloux permalink

    What about pairing Heir of mardil with errand rider? That seems like a repeatable way of using it.

    • Errand-Rider “moves” resources, so no hero is considered to have “gained” a resource. It’s an odd ruling but it has showed up in the past.

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      Yeah, unfortunately it has been ruled that “move” is not the same as “adding” or “gaining” a resource. This originally came up with Errand-rider and Harbor Master, I believe.

  4. Tonskillitis permalink

    I think it’s worth noting that Heir of Mardil works well with heroes that have an action which can be used during planning and requires them to exhaust such as Denethor. I suppose this card could play a role in a highly thematic Palanthir (also requiring a Noble hero) deck with the Heir providing instant readying in tandem with the Steward. I got best use out of this card in campaign mode playing a Love of Tales Deck where Beravor got the Noble Hero attachment and Heir of Mardil provided invaluable readying turn after turn for her card draw action. I’m also a big fan of the Cloak of Lorien and agree this is a very strong AP!

    • I was gonna say this. How about Elrond/Vilya? It definitely takes a bit of setup, but Elrond with Vilya, Steward of Gondor, and Heir of Mardil on him can be pretty BA.

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      That’s a good point about Heir of Mardil working well with heroes that have an action that can be used during planning. I need to try it out with Denethor (nice thematic combination). I suppose it could work with Galadriel as well. Use her action during planning, ready with Steward/Heir, then she can use Nenya during questing. It’s an alternative to Unexpected, although not a thematic one.

  5. Pengolodh permalink

    When I first looked through the cards in this pack, I immediately thought that this pack had the best player cards released in the Ringmaker cycle. Of course, I may have just been fascinated by Galadriel, but still, the cards are very good. Heir of Mardil especially intrigued me, but using it with Theodred did not come to mind until a week or two after. In fact, I believe I’m going to try out that combo against the Siege of Cair Andros, if I have the time.

    • I’ve always felt that Theodred was too weak. The extra resource is nice, but having to use a full hero slot just to get an extra resource with 1 willpower never intrigued me. Even with Heir of Mardil, I feel like there are better options, though I wouldn’t say that Theodred shouldn’t at least be considered.

      • TalesfromtheCards permalink

        Yeah, I don’t tend to use Theodred all that much anymore, but I’m intrigued at using him with Heir of Mardil, especially throwing in some of the newer Rohan cards to get some extra utility out of him. The bad side of doing this is you’d be locked in a bit to giving Theodred’s resource to himself when his true value is in being able to spread the resources around. So he could work to ready another, more useful hero, with Heir of Mardil attached, but you’re still saddled with 1 willpower. It’s worth experimenting with anyway.

        • Pengolodh permalink

          Interestingly enough, I find myself using Theodred in a lot of decks, even outside of Rohan. It is true that he could be replaced by a much better hero, throw a few Dunedain attachments on him, or even Celebrian’s Stone, and he’s a decent or great quester. Although I have to agree that Heir of Mardil would force Theodred to be a permanent quester.

  6. There are a lot of great/interesting options with Heir of Mardil. The only thing that sucks is that if you want reliable repeatable readying, you need 2 attachments to show up (Heir of Mardil and Steward of Gondor), which can make the combo finicky and lower the likeliness of it showing up in game. Furthermore, some of my favorite combo ideas require THREE attachments:

    – Galadriel with Nenya
    – Elrond with Vilya
    – Any noble hero with Palantir

    But there are other great hero abilities built in, like Denethor. Keys of Orthanc can also be used as the resource generation, so you can use your Doomed events later to ready your hero (or let the encounter deck do it with their own Doomed cards).

    Soooo many interesting combos.

    As for the Mirror, I’m really hesitant to play it. I just updated my Silvan decks to include the Mirror and the Cloak, so I hope to play with those decks soon and use those cards to help me get a better feel for them. The Cloak seems good, but it essentially just replaced Protector of Lorien in my decks to provide 1 (or 2) permanent defense instead of having the ability to get up to 3 defense when I need it. It’s a tough choice, but unless I’m drawing lots of duplicate uniques, I really don’t like using Protector of Lorien.

    As for Nenya, I don’t tend to need it very often in my Silvan decks since they generate willpower pretty well, so I use it more as resource smoothing by giving Galadriel Lore. Playing solo, I would definitely expect to want to get that on her very soon because otherwise you’re essentially missing the action of a 1/3 of your heroes, which can be a big disadvantage.

    Overall, it’s a great set of cards with great balance.

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      I agree about the Cloak replacing Protector of Lorien in several decks. Protector can still be good, but the consistent +1 defense without having to give up cards is good enough to get the job done. The Mirror has worked pretty well in my Silvan decks so far, but I definitely don’t use it every turn. It really helps to “unstick” your deck if you get stuck without certain cards you really want or need at a given moment.

      • Robin Munn permalink

        That tends to be how I use the Mirror, too. Until I get that vital attachment (if I don’t have Nenya in my starting hard or my mulligan, for example), I’ll go fishing every turn until it turns up, but once I have my vital cards (Nenya and O Lórien!) I’ll generally stop using the Mirror.

  7. It is a shame that Mablung isn’t noble.

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      I know! That would’ve been a perfect combo and would’ve really helped Mablung be an even better hero. I wonder if we’ll ever get a card that can grant the Noble trait…

  8. Gizlivadi permalink

    I’m really surprised you didn’t mention Heir of Mardil with Squire of the Citadel. That is an amazing combo in the first few rounds when you want to use Steward to play your stuff.

    • Amazing. How did that never cross my mind?!?!? Not to mention, Prince Imrahil would already ready from the Squire. 🙂

      • Gizlivadi permalink

        That’s right, I just said it because I’m not playing Imrahil in my Gondor deck -Aragorn, Sam, Boromir-

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      Good one! Gondor definitely can make the best use out of Heir of Mardil (as it should be) with things like Squire of the Citadel and Wealth of Gondor.

  9. Nusse permalink

    This card makes me even more frustrated that Dain, king under the mountain, was considered not noble enough for the noble trait.

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      There certainly have been a lot of oversights in terms of traits along the way, but Dain not having noble is probably the most egregious.

    • In my mind, this should be house-ruled. We all know he’s king, and therefore should be “noble”, so I would consider him noble in my games as long as the other players didn’t object. That’s one of the nice things about solo/co-op games compared to competitive games.

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