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The Treason of Saruman: Events Review

by on May 29, 2015

treason

It is time to craft a proper conclusion to The Treason of Saruman, at least when it comes to the player cards. As for the quests themselves, the TftC campaign will soon begin in earnest, as our heroes seek to survive and achieve victory against all odds! There are only two events in Treason (three if you count the Saga-specific Fellowship event that is included), but that is no reason to give them short shrift. Both events hew close to the dominant Rohan and Ent themes that are best exemplified by the hero choices for this expansion. Read on to find out how these events fare in the broader scheme!


EVENTS

* Entmoot (Lore Event, 0 cost):

Entmoot

Introducing Ents to the game would not be complete without an Entmoot! The word Entmoot refers to a meeting of the Ents of Fangorn Forest, which was an increasingly rare occurrence as the ages wore on. Perhaps the most famous Entmoot was the one that took place during the War of the Ring, culminating in the decision, after several days of discussion, to take part in the war and attack Isengard and Saruman. Yes, that’s right movie version, the Ents decided to go to war themselves after a lengthy discussion of the potential consequences and the damage being done to their beloved trees. They were not ignorant of damn near half the forest being destroyed right next to them and they did not have to be tricked into participation by two Hobbits! Sorry, rant over. I needed to get that out. Ahem.

Entmoot provides a means of drawing Ent cards more quickly:

Play only if you control at least 1 Ent character.

Action: Search the top 5 cards of your deck for any number of Ent cards and add them to your hand. Shuffle the other cards back into your deck.

Entmoot is perhaps best understood as the Ent version of The Eagles Are Coming! That Tactics card is also a zero cost event with identical wording, merely replacing the word Ent with the word Eagle. Both cards are great and cheap forms of card draw for specific types of decks. Perhaps the best aspect of Entmoot (and The Eagles Are Coming!) is that any number of Ent cards are added to your hand, whereas most “fetch” effects of this kind only allow you to choose one to add to your hand. This means that if you have the good fortune to find two, three, four, or even five Ent cards in the top five cards of your deck, you can add all of them to your hand. Looked at from this perspective, then, Entmoot is potentially a zero cost card that draws up to five cards at once, making it superior to most other card draw events. On the other hand, Entmoot also has the potential to miss and draw zero cards, unlike most other card draw events. Looking at the top five cards of your deck does not ensure that you will find any Ent cards, after all. Fortunately, you won’t have spent any resources in the process, but you will have wasted a spot in your deck. This makes a card like Entmoot higher risk/reward than other forms of card draw. On the plus side, as long as you draw at least one card, Entmoot’s presence can be justified, at it essentially replaces itself and “thins” your deck in that case.

Of course, the more Ents cards you include in your deck, the higher the probability of hitting upon at least one of them with Entmoot and the more likely you are to find more of them with each look. The fact that Entmoot itself is an Ent card helps greatly and opens up the possibility of chaining together several copies of Entmoot if you are able to draw another one with the effect. Ent Draught also has the Ent trait and is a valid target for Entmoot as well. As more Ent cards are released, it will become possible to build decks with a greater ratio of Ent cards, which will strengthen Entmoot. Right now, the verdict seems to be fairly clear. If you are not using many Ents, then don’t include Entmoot. If you are using most of the Ent cards available, then Entmoot seems like a good bet. When you consider the fact that the greatest weakness of Ents in the game is that they are slow, requiring an extra turn to become functional (with the exception of Quickbeam), being able to draw and play them as early as possible becomes paramount. This consideration pushes Entmoot over the line into the realm of the “must-includes”.

The more interesting question is whether Entmoot is superior to other card draw options for an Ent-focused deck, assuming that you need to choose one or the other. First of all, it’s important to understand that Entmoot basically serves a similar function for allies, albeit allies with a specific trait, as a card like Master of the Forge does for attachments or Galadhrim Minstrel for events. All of these can be generally categorized as “fetch” effects, as compared to more universal or general card draw. Which form of draw is superior? There are no clear and definitive answers on the subject, but the obvious response is that it depends upon the deck and what your plans are for that deck. Entmoot’s biggest advantage is that it costs nothing, allowing you to more quickly move your Ent deck to true functionality. In other words, if you don’t have to spend resources on card draw, and that card draw has a decent chance of drawing the Ents you need, then you will still have the resources available to play those Ents when you do draw them. Saving both time and money is a great advantage, especially for Ents, even if you do run the risk of whiffing. On the other hand, more general card draw is more reliable, although potentially more expensive and slower. It also is better if your deck is not as dependent on cards with a particular trait, and if you need help to pull in support cards that don’t have that trait. The real competition with Entmoot is perhaps zero cost card draw effects like Daeron’s Runes and Deep Knowledge. Whether the more targeted draw of Entmoot is superior to those cards depends upon exactly how specialized your deck is, and this isn’t just a matter of how many Ent cards are in your deck. It also is a matter of how reliant your Ent deck is on cards without an Ent trait in order to function effectively (i.e. support attachments like Unexpected Courage/Steward of Gondor, etc.). What makes Entmoot slightly worse than The Eagles Are Coming! is that the latter event exists in a sphere without much card draw. Entmoot, by contrast, is part of a sphere that is rich with such effects, which makes it a bit more redundant, yet it still can be quite useful under the right circumstances.

Versatility: ♦◊◊◊◊

Efficiency: ♦♦♦♦◊

Uniqueness: ♦♦♦◊◊

* Helm! Helm! (Spirit Event, 2 cost):

Helm-Helm

My feelings towards Helm! Helm! have been on a bit of a roller coaster ride. When it was first spoiled, I was ridiculously excited at the prospect of getting rid of tough enemies simply by discarding a measly Snowbourn Scout or Westfold Horse-breeder. However, after using it over the course of a few games, I began to sour on Helm! Helm!, feeling like it was too costly in terms of resources and allies to set up effectively, especially in the deck it seemed to be meant for: Rohan ally discard decks. Finally, I started appreciating the card again as I learned how to use it more effectively. In any case, Helm! Helm! is a two cost Spirit event that allows you to discard a non-unique enemy in exchange for discarding a Rohan ally:

Play only after the resolving enemy attacks step is complete.

Combat Action: Exhaust and discard a Rohan ally you control to choose and discard a non-unique enemy engaged with you.

First off, it must be said that when you just look at what this event does in a vacuum, it is quite powerful. Being able to use one cheap ally to get rid of an enemy that might otherwise take the actions of two, three, four, or more characters to destroy is huge. This becomes an even bigger deal if you wouldn’t be able to destroy the enemy conventionally at all because you don’t have the requisite attack strength available, meaning that Helm! Helm! could provide the only means of getting rid of that enemy instead of having to deal with them again. If that enemy is nasty and has a high attack strength, this could be the difference between survival and death, or between victory and defeat. Since the Spirit sphere tends to lack the attack strength of other spheres, Helm! Helm! becomes even more important as an alternative option for getting rid of enemies quickly. This is why I was initially excited for this event.

On the other hand, there are some substantial limitations here. First, and perhaps most importantly, Helm! Helm! can only be played after enemy attacks are resolved. This means that you have to at least suffer one attack from the enemy in question before you can get rid of it, which means it can’t be used to save you if you don’t have a good defensive option. However, if you have a way of stopping the enemy from attacking, such as Feint, then you can use that and then follow it up with Helm! Helm! once all enemy attacks have been resolved. Still, this is a big sticking point of this event, as it means that it can’t help you defensively, at least in an immediate sense, in the same way that Feint itself can, but it can help you in the long run by getting rid of that enemy so that you won’t have to face subsequent attacks. In this way, it very much reminds me of Forest Snare. The other limitation of Helm! Helm! is that it requires a Rohan ally to be exhausted and discarded. Beyond the trait restriction, which is itself a limitation, the need to both exhaust and discard an ally means that you will have to plan in advance to use this event, because you need to keep an ally ready, and you will have to give up that ally permanently too. This means that Helm! Helm! is both costly in terms of resources and in terms of allies. In fact, the two costs go together, as the real cost of this event is not just the two resources it takes to play it, but also the resources you spent on the sacrificed ally (of course, you may have gotten use out of the ally in other ways, so the math isn’t quite that straightforward).

Originally, I used Helm! Helm! in a Rohan deck focused on disposable allies, with these allies used both as chump blockers and in order to trigger effects like the one on this event. This didn’t work out too well in practice, as it meant losing two allies in a single round in order to get rid of an enemy, one as a sacrificial defender and one in order to trigger Helm! Helm! Even with a Spirit Theoden deck designed to pump out allies, this drain was just too much to be sustainable over the long run. When I instead started using a hero or defensive ally to take care of defending against the enemy, and then only sacrificed an ally to activate Helm! Helm!, everything worked out much better. This seems to be the way to go when it comes to this event, and you can think of it as using an ally as a “chump attacker” instead of a “chump blocker”. Either way, you are losing an ally, but with Helm! Helm! you get rid of an enemy permanently! There also are some fun Rohan-focused interactions that you can use to your advantage. For example, you can discard Eomund to trigger this event, not only getting rid of an enemy but readying all Rohan characters in play. This could be quite expensive, since Eomund costs three (two with Spirit Theoden), but could set up an epic round of combat as Helm! Helm! decimates one enemy, while the rest of your readied Rohan characters can smash through the rest. Another example would be to use Hama’s action to your advantage. You could trigger his ability while defending to ready and have a defense boost in order to handle one enemy, then exhaust and discard him to use Helm! Helm! to get rid of that same enemy or another enemy in play. Of course, any general “leaves play” effects are fair game here, from using Horn of Gondor to get a resource back to Valiant Sacrifice for some card draw to readying someone like Prince Imrahil.

Helm! Helm! joins other Spirit events like A Elbereth! Gilthoniel! and Ride Them Down as alternative options for getting rid of enemies other than attacking them and destroying them in the normal way. This is fantastic as it represents a sphere-appropriate way of giving Spirit these kinds of tools instead of letting them bash heads like Tactics. Helm! Helm! has some natural balancing factors built into it, including the restriction to Rohan allies, which is appropriate and necessary given how potentially powerful it can be and it would certainly be overpowered if it didn’t have these limitations. After all, any card that lets a Snowbourn Scout take out a Mumak in one round can’t be accused of being weak! Still, Helm! Helm! does not fit into every deck because it needs to be used wisely and in the right way, as my own experience demonstrates, and it might not make the cut if you don’t feel like you need a special way of dealing with enemies. Perhaps you can rely on another deck to handle combat or perhaps your deck is designed to deal with enemies in some other way. However, if you do need this kind of help, Helm! Helm! is certainly worth a look.

Versatility: ♦♦◊◊◊

Efficiency: ♦♦♦◊◊

Uniqueness: ♦♦♦♦◊

The Three Hunters (Fellowship Event, 3 cost):

The-Three-Hunters

I won’t cover this event in too much depth as it is Saga-specific (and requires Fellowship Aragorn) and therefore can’t be used in most scenarios. However, The Three Hunters is a highly thematic card that provides a mix of readying and stat boosts:

Play only if you control Aragorn. Quest Action: Choose 3 heroes committed to the quest. Until the end of the round, each of the chosen heroes gets +1 , +1 and +1 .

In short, I’m a huge fan of this card when you are able to use it. Consider that for two resources, Fellowship Aragorn can ready one hero. For only one resource more, you can ready three heroes and give them a boost to willpower, attack, and defense, until the end of the round! Since you have to choose three heroes that are committed to the quest, this equates to three more willpower for the quest and having three heroes ready for combat. This is huge and playing The Three Hunters at key moments can definitely make the difference between victory and defeat against the tough quests of The Treason of Saruman. I also love how it touches on a key moment of the text in a very simple way: by choosing three heroes and getting the most out of them. As such, I highly recommend making space for The Three Hunters.

Conclusion

Two very different events bring The Treason of Saruman to a close. Entmoot is a highly specific event that brings valuable card draw to Ent decks. In a short amount of time, Ent decks have emerged as a viable deck type, although they do need a touch more development, and Entmoot certainly serves as a valuable facilitator. Helm! Helm!, by contrast, is a Rohan-specific event that allows Spirit decks to become a little bit more interesting and creative, and this is definitely a welcome development. In general, Spirit decks tend to be powerful, but sometimes a bit one-dimensional and (dare I say) boring. Bringing more intriguing cards like Helm! Helm! into the fold certainly helps to fight against this trend. With The Treason of Saruman concluded, we now can wait with eagerness for the first Adventure Pack of the Angmar Awakened cycle!

Readers, how useful is Entmoot? Would you include it over standard card draw options? What about Helm! Helm!? Does it make the cut in your Rohan decks?

 

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18 Comments
  1. Entmoot is great. It just reminds me of how much I wish that Support of the Eagles had the Eagle trait so that The Eagles Are Coming could fetch it. Being able to retrieve an Ent Draught for Treebeard using Entmoot is really nice.

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      I always wonder if those kinds of things were intentional or oversights, especially in the early life of the game.

  2. Entmoot is great. And the card Entmoot is also. Nice thematic interpretation of the Entmooting -It can turn out great (Ents going to war). -It can turn out bad. (Ents not going to war, this one just saves Merry and Pippin some energy and time, because otherwise they have to walk Treebeard to the edge blablabla.)

    Helm Helm is cool, but imo a bit to overcosted. Sure, A Snowbourn Scout take down Mumak. But that’s like really extreme. Snowbourn and HelmHelm are in different sphere, Mumak is only certain scenarios etc. The exhaust and discard okay, the Rohan yes please (theme), but the 2 cost? Forest Snare is 1 more resource but saves you an ally (and thus is probably even costed). I think Helm Helm should’vr costed 1 to make it more viable.

    • Thaddeus permalink

      It’s not like there aren’t bunches of cheap Spirit Rohan allies. The Horsebreeder is a particularly good candidate to use.

  3. Thaddeus permalink

    Helm Helm is a funny card, and that high cost of two Spirit resources PLUS an ally really gave me pause, but I figured I’d give it a go and toss it into the new Rohan deck with Spirit Theoden I was building just to try out. Firstly, Spirit Theoden is definitely the guy to use that with, as he helps you retain your Spirit resources and get allies out (well done designers). Secondly, it immediately became useful to me! My first time out with the deck was against the first quest from Forgotten Realm and I could use Helm Helm to get rid of that Orc Raiding Party on the first or second turn! It’s a funky card that sure doesn’t fit in well with many decks, but there’s a good number of quests out there where it’s effect can be really valuable. Getting rid of Bolg’s Bodyguards, Attercops, that dang ol’ Hilltroll, and so on. Far from a *great* card, but one I don’t think should just be dismissed either.
    Entmoot I think is just a no-brainer. Do you have a bunch of ents in your deck? If yes, include this card. If not, then don’t.

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      I think what makes Spirit Theoden particularly valuable is that all the cool Rohan events, like Helm! Helm!, Charge of the Rohirrim, and Forth Eorlingas! are all pretty expensive at 2 cost, usually too expensive to be viable. But Theoden saves you the resources, which makes those events a lot easier to use.

  4. Thaddeus permalink

    I feel you regarding the Ent Moot in the movie. I’m more positive towards those movies than many, but the elves at Helm’s Deep and how they handled the Ents going to war were both things that really bothered me. (But at least we got to see the ents tearing stuff up in Isengard. That was awesome!)

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      Yeah, in general, I love the movies and can overlook a lot of issues, especially with the passage of time. But that Ent change still bothers me! I get it from a movie standpoint. In general, movies that are adapted from novels tend to shortchange secondary characters in order to enhance primary characters. I think that’s what happened here: they made the Ents look stupid in order to make Merry and Pippin seem clever and give them something to do rather than have them be mere bystanders. So I get it from that perspective, but it still is a sore spot.

  5. Pengolodh permalink

    Have yet to play with this expansion, but it looks amazing! I was slightly surprised the se only one Leadership card (Gimli), but I was fine with that. The Ent cards look awesome (Treebeard all the way) and I can’t wait to see how the Ent trait grows. Thanks for the detailed review! I would have never thought to use Helm, Helm! on a mumak.

    • Thaddeus permalink

      I honestly expect that they’re going to be done with Ent cards for awhile.

      • entMoot permalink

        They’ve mentioned in a several of the Angmar Awakens announcements that there will be more Ent support. So they are at least going to receive a handful more cards before support becomes more sporadic.

        • Thaddeus permalink

          That’s keen. I had not noticed any such announcements.

  6. ecthelionthethird permalink

    Helm, Helm and A Elbereth Gilthoniel are absolutely necessary for beating Nightmare A Knife in the Dark solo. Just saying.

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      Sadly, I still haven’t had a chance to touch my Nightmare Black Riders set yet. But judging how nasty the regular version can be, I believe it!

      • ecthelionthethird permalink

        When you move to stage 3, twenty–I repeat, twenty–threat worth of Nazgul and Weathertop hits the staging area. At least there’s an easy way to get it out: travel to Weathertop, which requires exhaustion of The One Ring. Then, unless you’re playing Secrecy, ALL FIVE of the Nazgul will engage that turn, with the 5-attack guys making two attacks each. Yeah, it’s that brutal. At least you can use Ever Onward so you don’t have to quest against them one turn.

        • TalesfromtheCards permalink

          Hahahaha. That’s ridiculous. I’ll definitely have to give it a try.

  7. GreatDismal permalink

    If nothing else, talking about “Helm! Helm!” out loud with other players is hilarious due to the slightly awkward name.

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      I get a similar feeling with Forth Eorlingas!

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