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The Lost Realm: Events and Side Quest Review

by on May 5, 2015

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It is time to conclude the review of player cards in The Lost Realm expansion, as we make way for the flood of content. Yes indeed, the next Saga Expansion, Treason of Saruman, has arrived, but I shall not turn my gaze quite yet, as there still is the little matter of the events and side quest of The Lost Realm that deserve my undivided attention. One of these events, in particular, is quite worthy of full discussion, as it introduces an exciting and new element to the game. This is in addition to the fact that there is an opportunity to reveiew a side quest for the very first time! In truth, this article was meant to see the light of day quite some time ago, but an illness from Mordor took me for a time and I knew nothing until I awoke in the houses of healing at Rivendell. Then, master Elrond asked if I was feeling better. just before he threw a laptop at me and told me to stop slacking. Ah, such a wise and noble one, that Elrond…


EVENTS

* Ranger Summons (Leadership Event, 1 cost):

Ranger-Summons

One of the best feelings this game can provide is when you are expecting a nasty, horrid encounter card to be revealed and instead an objective ally comes charging into the fray! However, so far this has been a phenomenon limited to a select set of quests and is something that players have had very little control over. Ranger Summons aims to change this dynamic completely, allowing players to insert special objective allies into any encounter deck:

Play only if you control a Dúnedain hero.

Planning Action: Shuffle 1 of your set aside Ranger of the North allies with the encounter keyword into the encounter deck. Then, remove Ranger Summons from the game.

The Ranger of the North is a brand new Neutral ally with fantastic stats (- cost, 2 willpower, 2 attack, 2 defense, 3 hit points), along with the ranged and sentinel keywords. It also is the first ally ever to feature the encounter keyword, which means that it is set aside from one’s player deck at the beginning of a game and can be shuffled into the encounter deck by some special means (in this case, the Ranger Summons event). Of course, Ranger of the North also has the surge keyword, which means that even when it shows its face during staging, it will still reveal another encounter card to replace itself. The first question about this card is the easiest to answer, and that is whether the Ranger of the North is a strong and worthwhile ally. It most definitely is, with stats equal to that of a 4-cost character like Haldir of Lorien, along with a “when revealed” effect that can either deal 2 damage to an enemy or place 2 progress on a location. This bit of damage or location control can certainly turn the tide at a valuable moment. The more difficult question is whether the Ranger Summons/Ranger of the North combination is consistent enough to justify the deck space. Although Ranger of the North does not itself require space, Ranger Summons will take up several spots in your deck, along with the cost of a resource, all for an effect that may never bear fruit. Keep in mind that a Ranger of the North that ends up as a shadow effect will essentially be a waste (except for ensuring that you aren’t facing a shadow effect) until it is shuffled back into the encounter deck once more. It does seem crystal clear that the value of Ranger Summons grows directly with the number of players. This is both because a deck in a multiplayer game will be able to find more room for more specialized effects, but also, more importantly, because the encounter deck will be cycled through more quickly, dramatically increasing the likelihood of encountering a Ranger of the North. In solo play, the proposition is certainly more dubious, and the size of the encounter deck for a particular scenario also plays a part as well. Modern encounter decks tend to be a bit tighter, and cards with especially streamlined decks, such as The Nin-in-Eilph, might encourage Ranger Summons, even in solo play. Of course, the converse is equally true.

The best policy with Ranger Summons is to play it as early as possible, therefore giving more opportunities for a Ranger to come along. What can help this process along is that Ranger Summons is a Signal, so it can be fetched with the Weather Hills Watchman. The cost of one is meaningful for an effect that may never pay dividends, but isn’t quite so bad in the Leadership sphere. One might consider what Ranger Summons actually offers beyond the flashy exterior. For a cost of one, you are getting the opportunity (the opportunity, mind you, not the guarantee) of getting an ally worth four resources into play, along with a useful “when revealed” ability. Due to the presence of surge, this card doesn’t do anything really to manipulate the encounter deck or make staging less harmful than it would otherwise have been, although there is the possibility of killing off an enemy or location during questing, which can make things easier. Still, really this is essentially a form of getting an ally into play cheaply, at the cost of a delay of varying proportions (perhaps beyond the length of the game itself). Then again, there are plenty of different ways of accomplishing similar effects in the game, but it’s all about the journey and not the destination, right? After using Ranger Summons quite a bit in two-handed play, I will say that I have a more positive view of this card than I originally anticipated. During the first several games, I put Ranger Summons to use without anything to show for my efforts and I was ready to write off this card. However, since then, the Ranger of the North has shown its face more often than not, to my great surprise, and I haven’t regretted including it very often. Of course, this could always be a string of personal fortune, rather than a feature of the card itself! All in all, this is one that really comes down to play-style. If you like fun, quirky cards that give you a chance to pull off “wow moments” and impress yourself or friends, then you’ll find this card a good value. If, on the other hand, you prefer maximum consistency and efficiency in your decks, then you might want to give this one a pass.

Versatility: ♦♦◊◊◊

Efficiency: ♦♦♦◊◊

Uniqueness: ♦♦♦♦♦

* Tireless Hunters (Tactics Event, 1 cost):

Tireless-Hunters

Tireless Hunters allows Tactics players to pull over an enemy at the beginning of combat, while discarding a shadow card:

Play only before the resolving enemy attacks step. Combat Action: Choose an enemy not engaged with you. Engage that enemy. Then, discard a shadow card from that enemy, if able.

This is the tale of a card that I originally met with a ton of enthusiasm, but this initial fuzzy feeling waned over time. Tactics has accumulated a stock of enemy management and engagement effects as the game has grown, and this one is fairly simple and elegant. All you have to do is choose an enemy before enemy attacks are made, engage that enemy, and then discard a shadow from that enemy. What purpose does this all serve? First, Tireless Hunters can serve as an alternative to sentinel in multiplayer. Sometimes you just aren’t using a hero with that keyword, and this event can allow you to pull over an enemy. It’s worth considering that Tireless Hunters has some advantages over sentinel, especially the ability for Tactics to get rid of a shadow card, as well as it provides the opportunity for a combat deck to attack the enemy as well as defend against it. Of course, it also has some disadvantages in that it costs a resource in addition to deck space. Beyond acting as a sentinel substitute, Tireless Hunters can allow a deck to engage an enemy in the staging area, especially one like Bill Ferny that cannot be optionally engaged. Of course, there are other cards for this purpose, but this event does cut right to the chase and gets rid of the first shadow card for that enemy. Finally, this can be viewed as a form of shadow removal, plain and simple, for the Tactics sphere. In other words, you could let someone else engage an enemy that you are planning on taking on, only to use Tireless Hunters to pull the enemy over and remove the shadow card. It isn’t the most ideal method of shadow control around, as it doesn’t cancel a shadow effect as a response, but rather removes one pre-emptively that may or may not have an effect. If yourself or another player has access to shadow scrying of some kind (like another player with Silver Lamp engaging the enemy or using Dark Knowledge to peek at a shadow card), then this ability gets better of course. I eventually started souring on Tireless Hunters not because I think it’s a useless card, as it definitely fills a valid role in certain decks and can solve scenario-specific problems as well. However, it can sometimes end up surplus to requirements in decks that it does seem made for, like Dunedain engagement decks, as Tactics Aragorn by himself undercuts the necessity of this card, and the redundancy gets worse as you add other effects. It also sometimes can feel a bit one-dimensional compared to a card like Westfold Outrider that can pull over an enemy during any action window, whereas Tireless Hunters is restricted to a very small window, not to mention that the Outrider provides value as an ally until the effect is needed, all for just one more resource. With lots of high quality, low cost Tactics events flying around, Tireless Hunters doesn’t have quite as strong a position as it appears at first glance, although it can certainly be useful under the right circumstances.

Versatility: ♦♦◊◊◊

Efficiency: ♦♦◊◊◊

Uniqueness: ♦♦♦◊◊

Expert Trackers (Lore Event, 0 cost):

Expert-Trackers

More location control is always a good thing, at least when it comes to multiplayer games. Lore has traditionally been one of the better spheres for such location effects, but beyond Asfaloth, which only reaches its full effectiveness with Glorfindel, there actually aren’t many ways to directly place progress on locations within the sphere. Expert Trackers arrives to add such an option, transforming enemy engagement from a negative to a positive:

Response: After you engage an enemy, exhaust a Scout or Ranger character to place X progress tokens on a location. X is the engaged enemy’s printed .

With most enemies averaging at least two or three threat, this event means that you can place two or three progress on any location in play, whether in the staging area or the active location, for zero resources. The real cost is in deck space and in exhausting a Scout or Ranger character. Fortunately, within the sphere, allies like Ithilien Tracker or the Ithilien Lookout can satisfy this requirement without sacrificing an action that is too valuable in the grand scheme of things, while outside Lore, there are even more options, including even the lowly Snowbourn Scout. Perhaps the real limitation here is that the response can only be triggered after engaging an enemy, which narrows this event’s flexibility. For example, oftentimes it is after staging and before quest resolution when you want to place progress on a location, clearing it in order to make for a better result. However, this is a bit more difficult to manage with Expert Trackers, as generally you won’t be able to engage an enemy during this action window, unless you are including the event as part of a tricksy enemy engagement deck, such as a Dunedain deck (for example, using Quick Strike to have Tactics Aragorn mow down an enemy after staging in order to pull down another enemy, while using Expert Trackers to convert this new enemy’s engagement into progress to clear out a location!). Without ready access to such shenanigans, it is best to think of Expert Trackers as a means of avoiding location lock or nuking particularly troublesome locations, rather than as a means to manage staging (as with Asfaloth). In this role, it certainly is a valuable card, especially as more players are added to the game and the need for location control becomes more vital. In solo play, it might not be as essential, although the nature of the specific quest is definitely important to take into account. It is worth noting as a final remark that Lore decks, especially in multiplayer, might not always be engaging enemies all that often, lowering the frequency with which this card can be played, but with only two or three copies of this event in your deck, you only really need for it to hit on two or three times to justify its place. Expert Trackers is not a staple or must-include, in my opinion, but it is a solid card and adds much needed support for location control decks. Having to pair it with Scout or Ranger characters does lessen its versatility a bit, but not to a debilitating degree.

Versatility: ♦♦♦◊◊

Efficiency: ♦♦♦◊◊

Uniqueness: ♦♦♦♦◊

SIDE QUESTS

Gather Information (Neutral Side Quest, 0 cost):

Gather-Information

It makes me incalculably giddy to be able to review a brand new player card type for the very first time! The Lost Realm has introduced player side quests to the game, and this means that players will not be building their decks solely out of allies, attachments, and events from this point forward. Gather Information is the pioneer, entering the scene as a Neutral side quest with an effect that is analogous to Word of Command:

Limit 1 per deck.

Response: After this stage is defeated, each player may search his deck for 1 card and add it to his hand. Each player shuffles his deck.

The first question is how this new player card type differs from the others. Most notably, since you need to sacrifice at least one round of progress towards the “real quest”, side quests essentially introduce a new form of “cost”: time. In other words, part of the cost of a side quest is the extra time it takes to complete the side quests, meaning that progress that would normally be placed towards the main quest is being sidetracked somewhere else. How meaningful this “cost” really is depends heavily on the quest. For example, if a quest has a fairly normal pace and doesn’t necessarily tie penalties to taking your time, like raising your threat each round or constantly spitting out enemies, then side quests are nearly all upside, allowing players to reap powerful benefits for a low cost. On the other hand, if a quest does heap pressure on players for each round that they take to complete a stage, or if an encounter deck is so brutal that you really just want to race through it as quickly as possible, then I may be more inclined to forego side quests completely. All told, this is a nice touch, as it introduces a new type of decision-making to the game when it comes to deciding on the value of a card and weighing its costs and benefits.

As for Gather Information itself, this is a fantastic card. For zero resources and only four quest points, each player can grab the exact card that they need from their deck. This is an extremely powerful fetch effect, far beyond anything else in the game so far given that every player benefits, and it can help decks that are heavily reliant on certain cards to function more consistently. It also can make sure that everyone is able to grab what is most needed at a given point in a scenario, whether it’s a Feint to dodge an upcoming enemy or The Galadhrim’s Greeting to lower threat. The real restriction here is that Gather Information is limit one per deck, which means that this side quest is itself limited in its own consistency, yet at least each player can include one copy. There’s really not many good reasons not to include Gather Information, unless a quest is just really unsuited for delays, and so this card should become a relative staple in the near future.

Versatility: ♦♦♦♦◊

Efficiency: ♦♦♦♦♦

Uniqueness: ♦♦♦♦◊

Conclusion

I’m glad to be among the realm of the living once more and the player card reviews of The Lost Realm have concluded, albeit belatedly. Overall, I wouldn’t say that this was the most powerful set of player cards in a deluxe expansion that we’ve seen, yet raw power is not the only measure of value. Instead, we’ve received a tightly focused set of cards that help to build a foundation for the Dunedain deck type. Even more excitedly, brand new card types like player side quests and player cards with the encounter keyword are pushing the design space for player cards further outwards in exciting directions. This can only be a promising development.

 

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28 Comments
  1. Steven A permalink

    I love Ranger Summons so far, but I would love it so much more if the Ranger of the North had a shadow effect like the Misty Mountain Eagles or Rangers of Ithilien.

    • Thaddeus Papke permalink

      I do love Ranger Summons dearly, if only for that “fun” factor. But I sure agree that even a slightly beneficial shadow effect (one damage to the attacking enemy or such) would take off some of the sting of having the ranger discarded that way.

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      That would be great! It would make Ranger of the North better without unbalancing it.

  2. Thaddeus Papke permalink

    Your reaction to “Tireless Hunters” was much like my own. At first blush I was pretty excited by it, but especially in a deck with other engagement tricks, it ended up constantly feeling like a wasted card slot. And since the shadow cancellation is kinda spotty, it ends up feeling massively inferior to other cheap tactics events (Quick Strike, Hands Upon the Bow, Feint, etc). It would have a lot more utility if it wasn’t limited to the combat phase.
    I think it would have been a perfect card if it could engage an enemy at any phase, that enemy could not get shadow cards that round, and the cost was bumped up to two. (And probably also limit it to non-unique enemies.)

    Still, while it felt redundant in the deck that it seemed designed for, I can imagine it having a strong place in an Elladan/Elrohir deck.

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      Yeah, it’s definitely not a bad card, just not as useful as I anticipated when I first saw it. And Tactics does have a wealth of valuable events, so a new Tactics event has to be pretty spectacular to get a look in.

  3. Tony F permalink

    I hope that Elrond used some athelas to get you some hit points back and discard that nasty condition attachment!

    I have to disagree with you about one point you made about Ranger Summons, which was that it’s best to play it as soon as possible. To me, the best time to play it is when the encounter deck is low on cards and you’re heading into the quest phase. This will maximize the chances of it turning up during staging and not as a shadow card. There can even be times when you can guarantee it shows up (if you play it when there are fewer cards in the encounter deck than the number of players).

    If it does happen to miss as a shadow card, Shadow of the Past is useful for getting it back on top of the deck for the next round. Encounter deck shenanigans (Ithilien Lookout, Celduin Traveler, Risk Some Light) are another way to help find those elusive Rangers.

    As a throw-in card, Ranger Summons is fun but inconsistent. With some work, you can make it a more reliable card to use.

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      Yeah, I can see that. There have definitely been times where I’ve delayed playing it, because I saw the encounter deck was dwindling and so it made sense to wait until I could really increase the probability of it showing up. On the other hand, if I get it early in a game, I will probably play it right away just to increase the number of quest phases that I have a chance of drawing it, if that makes sense. I think you can definitely up the consistency, at least a bit, by throwing in some other cards, but I think largely I’ll probably play it as a fun card that is great when it hits, unless I’m already planning on playing an encounter deck manipulation style deck.

      • Thaddeus permalink

        I’d very much like to see that deck list. Like I said, I’ve really been keen to play such a deck, but haven’t been able to make it happen.

  4. Traekos77 permalink

    How do you play Side Quest cards? During Planning? Do you slot it into the Quest Deck or does it immediately become the active Quest step? What happens to progress already gained?

    • Steven A permalink

      Technically you put sidequests in the staging area, though I prefer to stick them by the regular quest to keep them out of the way of the enemies and locations. At the beginning of the quest phase you choose which quest will be the active quest for that phase between the regular quest stage and whatever sidequests are in play (much like stages 2, 3 and 4 of Battle of Five Armies). At the end of the quest phase you revert back to the regular quest again.

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      It works kind of like Battle of Five Armies quest where you have to choose a different quest each turn, and this can be the side quest or main quest (although the choice is made at the beginning of the quest phase rather than at the beginning of the round). I put the side quests in the staging area and then pull it down towards the bottom of the staging area so that it sticks out if I choose it as the main quest for a round.

      • Payton's mom permalink

        I understand that if multiple quests have previously been revealed, the first player decides which will be the active quest, but what happens the moment a side quest is revealed? Does it become the active quest right away? Or does the active quest not change?

        • TalesfromtheCards permalink

          The active quest doesn’t change when a side quest is revealed (unless the side quest or some other card specifically says to switch them). The side quest only becomes active if you choose it at the beginning of the quest phase.

          • Payton's mom permalink

            Thank you so much! I didn’t think the rules were clear on that. Also something that we are unsure about is if any side quest in the staging area must be completed before you can win the game (specifically the first scenario)? Thanks!

            • Thaddeus permalink

              For the most part, no. Side Quests are optional. But there are exceptions, like needing to rescue Inarion.

            • TalesfromtheCards permalink

              Yes, Thaddeus is correct. You don’t need to complete a side quest to win a game, unless it specifically says so.

  5. Steven permalink

    I’m surprised how few people have mentioned using Ranger Summons in a scrying deck.

    Denethor could help dig through the encounter deck to get to the rangers quicker.
    The Palantir could help ‘time’ the arrival of the ranger (both it’s come into play effect and preventing it from being a shadowcard).
    The Minas Tirith Lampwright could cancel the surge (with the palantir).

    That’s Ally Haldir, Gildor’s Council and Strength of Will/Goblin Cleaver all for a mere 2 cost.

    Add Shadows of the past let’s you resurrect this powerful ally (and use it’s when reveled effect again) for another mere 2 resources and some spirit resurrection for the lampwright and you can repeat the trick multiple times.

    • Thaddeus Papke permalink

      THE deck that I have been most wanting to play, but have never really gotten to work to my satisfaction is a scry-heavy deck with a theme of using the encounter deck against itself (including Ranger Summons, Ravens of the Mountain, Needful to Know, etc).

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      Good point. It could fit in well into my Palantir deck, that is if I could make room for Leadership. I suppose that’s the hardest part, as my scrying decks would tend to be Lore/Spirit and not include much Leadership, but it certainly could work. I think Ranger of the North/Ranger Summons works well as an addition to a deck already focused on scrying, rather than adding scrying effects to make Ranger of the North/Ranger Summons better.

  6. Note that the insert says the ranger is placed out-of-play when it leaves play, so no shenanigans with it dying and coming back.

    With Henamarth Riversong or other scrying, just being able to shuffle the encounter deck can be a boon. Scry, see some deadly Treachery like Southern Support, and shuffle in a Ranger to get another shot. Or see a relatively harmless East Bank and just save the Summons for a later turn.

    • Michael permalink

      The insert actually explicitly says that a player card with the encounter keyword is placed “in the encounter discard pile” after is has been dealt as a shadow card. To the best of my understanding, the leaves play statement only applies if the card had been in play before.

  7. Expert Tracker: i usually play it with the new Hunter Dunedain tactics, and it is very pleasant when you reach all their effects.
    Tireless Hunters: more ideas…, if Pippin is controlled by other player, you can add to the text of the card: ‘draw a card’. Because, the other player engage enemy, and after you play the event. So not bad for 1 cost: draw a card and discard a resource. Other idea: usually decks with Aragorn tactics are not usually good in defense, they can defend but not so much, so it is good to get safe one engagement to defend, and after you use Aragorn Tactics and kills 1 2 or 3 enemies.
    Gather Information: you wonder in 4 players! The best 4 player cards of all the game inside the hands of the players. Poor orcs ^^.

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      Gather Information is amazing in 4 player games. In fact, I think all of the side quests will be pretty amazing with 4 players, since from what I remember from the spoiled ones, they allow each player to do something.

  8. Glowwyrm permalink

    Tireless Hunters, ironically, works best outside of a Dunedain deck. Dunedain decks have loads of shenanigans for engaging enemies from Halbarad to Aragorn to the Hunter, so they don’t need the event. Where it really shines is in multi-player with a non-Dunedain combat deck. Most of the time when I play two-handed, I have a dedicated questing deck and a dedicated combat deck. Even with sentinel on the table for the combat deck, sometimes enemies slip through that the questing deck doesn’t want to handle. Tireless Hunters gives me another option for pulling over an enemy that I don’t want engaged with the questing deck, which is helpful. And having multiple options to do the same thing for Tactics is good, especially since (despite the new Legolas) it’s still poor in card draw. But yeah, Westfold Outrider is better.

    And anyone who leaves Ranger Summons out of their decks because it’s inefficient hates fun (or is playing Nightmare mode, and if that is the case then min/max because your life depends on it).

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      I agree. Although it comes in a “Dunedain expansion”, I think Tireless Hunters is best in a non-Dunedain deck.

      “And anyone who leaves Ranger Summons out of their decks because it’s inefficient hates fun (or is playing Nightmare mode, and if that is the case then min/max because your life depends on it).”

      Heh. I agree!

  9. Manos permalink

    Tireless hunters is great with Pippin for card draw and Mablung for resource gain. I play both along with Legolas, resource, draw, location management with as much combat strength anyone can ask for. Discarding a shadow is a plus.
    Love the Rangers 🙂 and Gather Information

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      Yeah, I think that’s a great example of how it works best outside of actual Dunedain decks. It can definitely feed into engagement effects like Mablung/Pippin!

  10. Susan permalink

    I’m thinking Tireless Hunters could also be good against quests with lots of Wargs to stop them from bouncing back into the staging area repeatedly.

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