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The Lost Realm: Attachments Review

by on April 21, 2015

lost-realm_gduu09

Any new deck type needs some quality toys to play with, which means a crop of new attachments to help add power and flavor. In the case of The Lost Realm, we have one attachment for each of the four spheres, providing a variety of options. However, while one of them is clearly tied to the Dunedain deck type, the others have more broad uses, which definitely helps to add to the value of these particular player cards. However, as with any new cards, some will end up being staples, found in decks everywhere for months and years to come, while others will become utility cards or even, dare I say, coasters. What will be the fate of these new attachments? Read on to find out!


ATTACHMENTS

* Heir of Valandil (Leadership Attachment, 2 cost):

Heir-of-Valandil

The Heir of Valandil is the attachment in this box that is most narrowly focused on making Dunedain decks function. Much like the role O Lorien! plays in Silvan decks, Heir of Valandil lowers the cost of Dunedain allies:

Attach to a Dúnedain hero.

Planning Action: Exhaust Heir of Valandil to reduce the cost of the next Dúnedain ally you play this phase by 1 for each enemy engaged with you.

Although focusing too much on comparing one card to another can be dangerous and lead to false conclusions, in this case O Lorien! and Heir of Valandil are essentially parallel cards and a comparison can help to shed some light on the relative value of the latter. O Lorien! is widely regarded as a staple of Silvan decks and you’ll find few detractors. It’s relatively cheap, can be placed on any Silvan hero, and automatically lowers the cost of the next Silvan ally by one. For these reasons, there are really no good reasons to leave O Lorien! out of a Silvan deck that includes Leadership. Heir of Valandil, by contrast, does have some restrictions and drawbacks. It costs two, making it one resource more expensive than O Lorien!. More importantly, the reduction in cost of the next Dunedain ally is tied to the number of engaged enemies. This makes Heir of Valandil less consistent than O Lorien!, but also opens up the possibility of a bigger pay-off as well. For example, with no engaged enemies, Heir of Valandil becomes a dead attachment, devoid of utility, whereas O Lorien! can always be used, every single round, no matter the circumstances. On the other hand, if you have two engaged enemies, which is not uncommon for a Dunedain deck, you could lower the cost of the next Dunedain ally by two, which is double the reduction of that given by O Lorien!

Therefore, as often seems to be the case with a Dunedain deck, it’s all about being willing to live with high risk/high reward. It is even theoretically possible with three or four engaged enemies to get expensive allies like the Sarn Ford Sentry or Northern Tracker into play for free, which is fantastic value. With a card like Dunedain Hunter, which pulls out an enemy to engage you during planning, you can guarantee at least a reduction of one, and similar effects, such as the Westfold Outrider or Son of Arnor, can also do the job. With the Outrider, you could even discard it to net a resource with Horn of Gondor, in addition to the cost reduction of the next ally provided by an enemy you engage with its effect. Or you could use Forest Snare on an enemy, guaranteeing a permanent reduction of at least one. Overall, I would place the Heir of Valandil just below O Lorien! in utility. There are a few reasons for this. The first is just the issue of consistency. In a card game like this one, consistency is often the difference between a card or deck that is powerful versus merely being good. I do think, though, that a well-built Dunedain deck, which will usually be engaged with an enemy (pulling over an enemy with Tactics Aragorn at the end of combat so that it is present for planning, for example) will be able to get at least a cost reduction of one on most turns, with two being common. Three or four is possible, but won’t happen on most rounds. However, always being able to rely on O Lorien!, no matter the circumstances, without any special deck-building or combos, does count for much. A more compelling reason for valuing O Lorien! a bit higher, though, is the way that Dunedain decks are and can be structured, at least so far. While Silvan decks tend to include many Silvan allies, as a way of making sure that there plenty of targets for the “return to hand” events, as well as to allow The Tree People to hit paydirt more often than not, Dunedain decks can actually function quite well with low ally counts or even just a few strategically chosen Dunedain allies among other non-Dunedain allies. This is because Dunedain decks can make good use of an attachment-heavy approach focused on allowing heroes to become combat juggernauts in order to handle continual crowds of engaged foes. There is also no trait-based need to focus a deck around allies, as is the case with Silvans. This means that there may be decks where Heir of Valandil is not as essential. Of course, all of this is not to say that Heir of Valandil is not a useful card, as it most certainly is, just that it is perhaps not quite as essential as O Lorien! Still, even a net cost reduction of three or four over the course of a game is worth a couple of slots in a deck, and the potential may be even higher. For this reason, I expect that many Dunedain decks will indeed include Heir of Valandil.

Versatility: ♦◊◊◊◊

Efficiency: ♦♦♦◊◊

Uniqueness: ♦♦♦♦◊

* Athelas (Lore Attachment, 1 cost):

Athelas

Looking at the world with Lore-colored glasses (both in terms of the sphere and the story), I was excited to see Athelas finally incarnated in card form. This attachment provides a two-for-one benefit, healing a character, but also removing a condition attachment:

Attach to a Dúnedain or Healer character.
Action: Discard Athelas and exhaust attached character to heal all damage on a character. You may discard a Condition attachment from that character.

Despite my excitement, however, I will admit to being a bit underwhelmed once I thought about this card a bit more. This sense of disappointment was largely tied to the abundance of credible alternatives. Healing Herbs, for example, costs nothing and can attach to any Lore hero, healing all damage on one character. Of course, the extra cost of one for Athelas is justified given that a condition attachment can be removed as well. There once was a time when I would been overjoyed by this effect, as for a long time Miner of the Iron Hills was the only option for condition removal, which can be some of the nastiest and most debilitating encounter card effects around. However, we’ve recently received Power of Orthanc and the ally version of Elrond, both of which can remove conditions. If Athelas would have come out before those two cards, I probably would have received it a bit better. Still, there’s definitely some value here, but it really is quest-dependent, as if you are merely interested in healing and a scenario doesn’t have condition attachments, then effects like the Warden of Healing or even Healing Herbs are better. On the other hand, if you are taking on a quest with condition attachments, especially ones that effectively crippled characters, such as Local Trouble from Heirs of Numenor, then Athelas might just make the cut. It does have one advantage over Miner of the Iron Hills and Power of Orthanc, and that is that it provides another useful effect in addition to the condition removal, while the Miner comes in the form of a rather weak ally, while Power is narrowly focused. Elrond is the best package of all condition removal effects, but is far more expensive than Athelas, while also being temporary/expendable in nature, which means the two cards could be considered roughly equivalent (although the comparison is clumsy). However, Athelas does have one big drawback, though, that the other forms of condition removal don’t have, and that is that it can only remove condition attachments from a character. More and more, condition attachments are actually targeting quest cards and locations rather than characters, and Athelas is useless against these types while the other options for condition removal are not. This weakness is most obvious in The Lost Realm itself. It is for this reason that I included Power of Orthanc when taking on the Weather Hills quest instead of Athelas, as I could get better healing elsewhere and the condition attachment in that scenario (a nasty one at that) targets a quest card. It is for this reason, that I will probably mostly look to other cards for condition removal, rather than Athelas, which is a large blow against its value. Athelas also requires spending a character’s action, while Miner of the Iron Hills and Elrond actually give you an extra action by bringing another character into play, at the same time as they automatically remove a condition. In terms of healing effects, Athelas does have the advantage over Healing Herbs in that it can be attached to a character, rather than a hero, meaning that the action you give up could be from a Warden of Healing (with the healer trait) or a relatively low-power Dunedain ally like the Weather Hills Watchman. This means that if I have to pick between Healing Herbs and Athelas for healing, I will probably pick Athelas. On the whole, though, as a solution for condition removal, I don’t know how often Athelas will find its way into my decks, but here’s a quick summary of the various advantages of the different condition removal effects:

* Elrond

Pros: Can help quest/attack/defend, is the most versatile option as you can also use him for healing or card draw

Cons: The most expensive option, cannot heal and remove a condition at the same time

* Miner of the Iron Hills

Pros: Can help attack/defend, doesn’t take up an action, not as expensive as Elrond

Cons: Doesn’t do much once it’s on the table, more expensive than Athelas or Healing Herbs

* Power of Orthanc

Pros: Can be fetched with event retrieval effects, can be recycled with Dwarven Tomb, “free”, can discard multiple condition attachments at once if there is more than one player

Cons: Raises all players’ threat, doesn’t do anything else

* Athelas

Pros: Can be fetched with attachment retrieval effects, can be recycled with Erebor Hammersmith, can be used by an ally, heals at the same time as it removes a condition

Cons: Cannot remove condition attachments that are not on a character, uses us an action

Versatility: ♦♦◊◊◊

Efficiency: ♦♦◊◊◊

Uniqueness: ♦♦◊◊◊

Secret Vigil (Tactics Attachment, 1 cost):

Secret-Vigil

Of all the spheres, Tactics has perhaps been the most one-dimensional, lacking many key effects and focusing almost entirely on combat. The notable exceptions, like Foe-hammer or Horn of Gondor, which provide card draw and resources respectively, have become staple cards for the sphere. For a long time, the mere thought of threat reduction in Tactics has been unthinkable, but that has all changed dramatically with the release of a single card. Secret Vigil provides a very sphere-appropriate way for Tactics to reduce not just its own threat, but that of all players at the table:

Attach to an enemy. Limit 1 per enemy. Attached enemy gets -1 .

Response: When attached enemy is destroyed, reduce each player’s threat by the attached enemy’s printed .

By simply destroying an enemy, a player can reduce the threat of all players by that enemy’s printed threat. To put this in the proper perspective, The Galadhrim’s Greeting, so long a Spirit staple for both solo and multiplayer games, can reduce all player’s threat by two for the cost of three resources. Secret Vigil can easily match that for the cost of only one resource. This is just the baseline, though, as while you probably wouldn’t waste Secret Vigil on an enemy with only one threat, there are plenty of enemies with three threat (and a few with more). Reducing each player’s threat by three for only one resource is huge, blowing The Galadhrim’s Greeting out of the water at this point. Therefore, what is most shocking about Secret Vigil is not just that it brings threat reduction to the Tactics sphere, but that it does so in a manner that is arguably more powerful than comparable Spirit effects! At this point, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that this attachment does have some drawbacks that Spirit events like The Galadhrim’s Greeting and Elrond’s Counsel do not. The first is that it cannot be triggered during any action window as the Spirit events can, as it is tied directly to the moment of the attached enemy’s destruction. This means usually you will only be able to trigger the threat reduction during the combat phase, barring a special effect (i.e. Quick Strike, Hands Upon the Bow, etc.). In addition, you also have to wait to find an eligible enemy (one with at least some threat, one that is not immune, one that can be destroyed in the near future, etc.), and then you have to destroy it. While Tactics should be good at both of those aspects, there are complications that can arise, such as drawing other card types instead of enemies or failing to destroy the enemy because of unforeseen encounter card effects.

However, in the majority of cases, this won’t be that huge an issue, as often it’s not that important when you reduce your threat, so much as that you reduce it at all. The exceptions are when a player is sitting at 48 or 49 threat and needs immediate help, or when a terrible enemy is about to come down and needs to be avoided. Still, often it takes a bit of time to play The Galadhrim’s Greeting as well due to its high cost, which means it often takes several rounds to save up for it! I do think that Secret Vigil is better in multiplayer than solo, simply because you are effecting more players for the same cost in resources and card slots. Also, solo decks often will have access to Spirit and can make use of those threat reduction effects, while Tactics space is better devoted to combat effects. I can think of several solo decks, though, that could make good use of Secret Vigil and having an option for threat reduction in Tactics does reduce the necessity of including Spirit a bit in solo play. The biggest strike against Secret Vigil could be the argument that it detracts from what Tactics is supposed to be doing. In other words, including this attachment might take up space in a deck for cards that actually allow Tactics to fight better (Spirit, by contrast, is supposed to be reducing threat, so there’s no conflict of priorities there). This may be a valid sentiment in some cases, especially against scenarios that don’t really put a lot of pressure on players in terms of threat. On the other hand, reducing threat can actually play an important role for Tactics, from helping to better manage enemy engagement to compensating for abilities like the one on Tactics Boromir to potentially helping Valour decks and much more. This is all without even mentioning the extra gravy that is allowing Tactics to reduce the threat of an enemy in the staging area by one. Overall, Secret Vigil is definitely my pick for best attachment of the pack and the one most likely to be a staple for a long time to come.

Versatility: ♦♦♦♦◊

Efficiency: ♦♦♦♦♦

Uniqueness: ♦♦♦◊◊

Star Brooch (Spirit Attachment, 1 cost):

Star-Brooch

In some ways, the Spirit sphere is a bit of the odd man out when it comes to The Lost Realm. You can’t feel too sorry for it, given the long dominance of Spirit, yet the sphere doesn’t fit as snugly into a Dunedain deck type focused around enemy engagement as the Tactics, Leadership, and even Lore spheres do. Still, Spirit does bring along an attachment of its own that aims to bring a bit of questing power to the Dunedain:

Attach to a Dúnedain or Noldor hero. Limit 1 per hero.

While you are engaged with an enemy, attached hero gets +1 and cannot have its reduced.

Willpower boosting attachments like Dunedain Quest and The Favor of the Lady have never been too popular, largely because of their expense (both cost two), and the fact that it is probably better to add willpower through allies, who can serve other functions as well (on the other hand, allies do tend to be more vulnerable given the prevalence of direct damage and ally-hate effects). Star Brooch has the potential of changing this trend, as it only costs one to add one willpower, which is a decent deal. Questing with someone like Halbarad for three or Glorfindel for four, both of whom can quest without exhausting given the right circumstances, is intriguing and the single point of additional willpower can make a crucial difference, especially in the early game. Star Brooch also prevents the attached hero’s willpower from being reduced. This is obviously a scenario dependent effect, but there are quite a few instances of such effects out there. Here’s a list of just a few:

* Weighed Down and Dragon-spell from On the Doorstep

* Freezing Cold, Caradhras, and Snowstorm from The Redhorn Gate

* Black Breath from The Black Riders

* Driven by Fear and Murmurs of Dread from The Stone of Erech

* Sinking Bog from The Nin-in-Eilph

Obviously, such examples are a mere fraction of the available quests, meaning that they don’t appear that often, yet, as I often argue, situational cards are not inherently bad cards. It just means that they provide solutions to specific problems in a game based around meeting the challenges of individual quests. In this context, Star Brooch could certainly play a role in the quests mentioned above. The problem, in my book, is that Star Brooch can only provide its benefits if an enemy is engaged. This chafes against the reality that most decks with Spirit aren’t going to be spending a ton of time engaged with enemies, meaning this attachment could sit around as a dead card. Of course, there are plenty of exceptions out there. However, if I’m going to devote space in my deck and pay a resource for questing power, I’d rather include something that will always be of use, not that I need to build around or that may sit unused during some turns. I would rather, for example, pay one resource for Silvan Refugee. Sure, that ally can leave play rather easily, but I’ll still probably get more value out of it over the course of a game. For the same cost, I can even bring in a Westfold Horse-breeder that provides one willpower per round as well, along with the ability to fetch a mount. Such comparisons between card types aren’t always accurate, as again allies can sometimes be more squishy than attachments (although there is a fair bit of attachment hate out there as well). Overall, though, what this card provides isn’t enough to beat out other similar effects, especially as deck space grows tighter and tighter over time. When combined with a restriction to Dunedain and Noldor heroes, this card won’t find its way into many decks. Perhaps the best use for Star Brooch would be as a counter against willpower-sapping effects in certain quests. It could also be used in multiplayer, as a Spirit player could give the Star Brooch to a player controlling a Dunedain deck without Spirit, allowing Halbarad to quest for three without exhausting, for example. These uses don’t necessarily cancel out the bad, but they do provide some hope for the Brooch.

Versatility: ♦♦◊◊◊

Efficiency: ♦♦◊◊◊

Uniqueness: ♦♦◊◊◊

Conclusion

The attachments in The Lost Realm are admittedly a bit of a mixed bag. Star Brooch and Athelas both have some utility, but they are undercut by stiff competition from other effects/cards, and will likely occupy the lower tier of cards for some time to come. Heir of Valandil, by contrast, is no slouch and can definitely be quite powerful in a Dunedain deck, although it is restricted in this way. It is thus Secret Vigil that really steals the show and will have a quite sizable impact on the meta over time. With a crop of useful, Dunedain-based allies and a group of attachments of varied quality, what do the events of The Lost Realm bring? Find out soon!

Readers, what was your favorite attachment in this AP? What was your least favorite attachment? Is there hope for Star Brooch? Would you pick Athelas over other condition removal effects?

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18 Comments
  1. I like your breakdown of the various Condition-control cards, and I agree that Athelas just doesn’t fit into most decks. As more allies with the Dunedain and Healer traits are released, I could see it as a sideboard option for quests where the Condition treacheries only target heroes. As it stands the versatility of Elrond and the efficiency of Power of Orthanc are hard to beat. In games where Dain Ironfoot joins the party, even the lowly Miner of the Iron Hills can become a useful ally after his primary task is complete.

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      I’m really fond of Power of Orthanc. Such an effective and easy solution to condition attachments and a great sideboard choice.

  2. Steven A permalink

    One more point where O Lorien is better than Heir of Valandil which you missed is that O Lorien allows you to give the cost reduction to any player, while HoV only works for you.

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      Good point. Probably makes sense, as while multiple players could play Silvan decks, there aren’t as many options for Dunedain decks…at least not yet.

  3. Since Heir of Valandil targets Dunedain specifically in your hand, is it possible to pay for a Dunedain ally in your hand you don’t have a resource match with (provided you can reduce their cost to 0)?

    • Steven permalink

      No, even 0 cost cards require a resource match. All the Heir does is reduce it’s cost.

  4. Kjeld permalink

    Star brooch could be useful in building up a super-Aragorn (leadership seems most logical because of the readying ability, and Celebrian’s stone would give him the spirit icon), though it’s a shame it’s not an artifact so it could synergize with Ring of Barahir, as well. Actually, making it an artifact could potentially have saved this card!

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      That would be interesting. I suppose it also could be useful for those quests that really reward focusing on heroes rather than allies, so every little bit of willpower on heroes could be helpful if you can’t rely on having allies.

  5. Glowwyrm permalink

    Something I didn’t think about until I got my Treason of Saruman box today: anything that targets Dunedain will have some benefit with Fellowship Aragorn along. I mean, if you already have him there, why not get some extra willpower for questing or some healing and condition removal? It doesn’t totally save the cards, but gives another reasons to think about including them.

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      Good point. It’ll be interesting to see the role Fellowship Aragorn plays. In the other Saga boxes, Frodo was more of a foot-note, leaving aside his abilities at least. But having a fourth hero with the strong stats and useful abilities of Aragorn will be interesting.

  6. Gwaihir the Windlord permalink

    Secret Vigil is the best attachment in this box (at least for a Tactics player like myself). It doesn’t get much better than lower the enemy’s threat by one, destroying it, and then lowering each player’s threats by the printed threat. I’m part-way through a game of Deadman’s Dike, and it got me below the engagement cost of a few enemies (good ol` Samwise!).

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      It’s so good. I can’t get enough of it.

  7. ishallcallusting permalink

    Great article. I agree with the consensus that secret vigil is outstanding. I love when tactics can do “off color” things as tied to combat. Star brooch can also help in the Redhorn Gate quest as well as against some willpower reduction effects found in nightmare difficulty.

    I can’t believe you said fellowship Frodo was a footnote! His damage cancelation was essential to defending many attacks, particularly against the Balrog, and his hobbit trait made Merry a monster. Come on.

    • Philkav permalink

      This is a bit off topic but since the Frodo (The Road Darkens) ability says that it targets an enemy, I don’t think you can use it on a immune to card effect enemy, like the Balrog.

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      Hehe. I was admittedly a bit harsh on Frodo. He certainly played a role, although I never used The Road Darkens defending ability all that much. The Black Riders encounter card replacement ability was super useful though. But I guess my overall point is that there is a huge difference between having a 2/1/2/2 hero with no special attachments vs. a 2/3/2/5 hero with access to Sword that was Broken, Rivendell Bow, etc.

  8. Heir of Valandil and Star Brooch just screems for some kind of action advantage for defending.
    Something like this:
    Attachment.
    Attach to Dúnedain character. Attached character doesn’t exhaust to defend against an enemy that didn’t engage you this turn. Limit twice per round.

    This would make this cards better in my opinion. Forest snare is great but it is really expensive and doesn’t fit in Dúnedain decks thematically.

  9. I think the benefit of Athelas over some of the other choices is in its general nature. Here it competes mostly with Elrond. It serves well for folks who may avoid sideboarding or tweaking a deck to face a challenge. I am still not sure how well it stacks up agaisnt him even with these restrictions, but I feel like this is probably part of its intended appeal.

    One minor element that does serve it well in this comparison is that you can “pre-load” Athelas. This allows you to remove a condition at any time, where as Miner and Elrond both require you to wait until you can play them. I’m not super familiar with the quests as of yet, so I am not sure how big this is, but it does seem worth pondering.

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