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Across The Ettenmoors: Allies Review

by on September 16, 2015

across

Poor, poor Dori. Our newest Dwarven friend took quite the beating in the comments section of the latest hero review here at TftC, despite my best attempts to reach for some silver linings. Even my own verdict was relatively harsh the usually rosy standards of this blog, as I can’t help but seek for the good in every card, with the underrated and the ignored often gaining my sympathy. This time, though, I have to admit that Dori is a tough sell. Still, an Adventure Pack is not all about the hero, and there are other player cards to discuss. So without further ado, let’s take a look at the two allies in Across The Ettenmoors: Longbeard Sentry and Wellinghall Preserver.

ALLIES

Longbeard Sentry (Tactics Ally, 3 cost, 0 willpower, 1 attack, 2 defense, 3 hit points):

Longbeard-Sentry

As discussed in the Dori review, it had been a great while since any new Dwarves had been released previous to this pack, and Tactics Dwarves in particular have been relatively rare. However, not only have we received a brand new Tactics Dwarf hero (albeit of dubious quality), we have also been bestowed with a new Tactics Dwarf ally as well. Given the lukewarm reception to Dori, the Longbeard Sentry didn’t have to do much to earn praise. “Don’t suck, Longbeard Sentry, just don’t suck,” I can hear him silently whispering to himself. Well, he definitely succeeds on that front and more, with an ability focused on defense and keyed into the “mining” aspect of the Dwarf trait :

Action: Discard 2 cards from the top of your deck to give Longbeard Sentry sentinel and +1 until the end of the phase. (Limit once per phase.)

It is certainly a bit amusing that one of Dori’s main roles is to fill a defensive hole in Dwarf decks, and yet the Longbeard Sentry comes along and does that job much better. I don’t think this is much of a debatable claim. When using his ability, the Longbeard Sentry is a 3 defense, 3 hit point ally with sentinel, which is fantastic. The presence of Hardy Leadership could increase his hit points to 4, making him even better. This nearly puts him on the same level as the Dori hero in terms of raw stats, matches his sentinel keyword, and doesn’t take up a hero slot. Of course, Dori has his special ability (which may or may not be useful in a particular game), and he starts the game on the board. Still, when comparing the various costs of the two cards (resources, starting threat, deck slots, etc.) against their utility, the Longbeard Sentry comes out clearly ahead. Other than the resources and taking up space in your deck, the other main “cost” of this ally is discarding 2 cards from the top of your deck. This doesn’t turn out to be a cost so much as an invitation to synergy. I say this because there is a Dwarven mining archetype or trend among the Dwarves where cards are discarded from the top of one’s deck in search of certain benefits (this contrasts with the Noldor discarding from hand). A Longbeard Sentry could potentially discard a Hidden Cache, earning 2 resources while defending, or send a useful ally to the discard pile, which could be fetched with To Me! My Kinsfolk.

Of course, Dwarves aren’t the only potential beneficiaries of deck discard. Caldara would work well with the Longbeard Sentry, for example, if she weren’t pretty tightly constricted to mono-Spirit decks. Still, there are many Spirit decks that can access cards in the discard pile through Dwarven Tomb or Stand and Fight, and the Longbeard Sentry provides a means of getting cards from your deck into the discard. The Noldor archetype that is developing could also find a use for this ally, as since they seem to thrive off of certain cards being in the discard pile, another means to get cards there could be useful, whether or not they come from your deck or your hand (of course the latter provides more control).

More often than not, though, the discard might just be something that happens in order to trigger the defense boost and sentinel. There are situations in which this cost could be meaningful in a negative sense, such as a case in which you discard the only copies of a card in your deck, blocking access to it if you don’t have any recycling/recursion effects. Another example would be Dwarf decks using Legacy of Durin, which can often cycle through an entire deck, and losing cards from that deck can lower the ultimate number of cards that are able to be put out. The latter reason was why I ultimately cut A Very Good Tale from my Dwarf draw decks. Still, only 2 cards are discarded in the case of Longbeard Sentry, you don’t have to use the ability all the time, and you have control of when and how often to use it. But my point is that the cost of discarding cards isn’t completely inconsequential.

Beyond the ability, there’s plenty you can do to boost the Longbeard Sentry or get extra value out of him. Ring Mail can be attached to a Dwarf ally, not just a hero, so you could certainly use it to bump this ally’s defense up to 3 and his hit points up to 4. Using his ability would knock the defense all the way up to 4. At this point, you would have the equivalent stats of Beregond! Boots from Erebor can boost hit points further, as can the aforementioned Hardy Leadership. If you want to get some attack out of him, you could attach a Dwarrowdelf Axe to Longbeard Sentry or play Khazad! Khazad! on him. In most cases, you’ll only be using him to defend, but it’s always nice to have a touch of flexibility.

Overall, the Longbeard Sentry is a must-include for any Dwarf deck that includes Tactics, and he provides a neat defensive solution for those decks. Outside of Dwarf decks, the one knock against Longbeard Sentry would be that there are already a few strong defending allies in Tactics for cheaper. The Winged Guardian or Defender of Rammas can defend for 4 without needing to trigger any ability (although the former requires a resource to stay in play after doing so) and only cost 2. However, the Longbeard Sentry has 3 hit points, as compared to just 1 for those allies, and that can make a world of difference, justifying the extra resource in many cases. The key consideration is whether you want a long-term defender from that ally spot (and one that can soak up archery/direct damage) or merely one that can fill in during emergencies. Cost curves also come into play here since the difference between 2 and 3 resources is huge. Aside from Winged Guardian and Defender of Rammas, the recently released Derndingle Warrior is also potential competition. The Derndingle Warrior also only costs 2, but boasts the same starting defense and hit points as the Longbeard Sentry. It also has its own defense boost, a better one at that, knocking its defense all the way up to 5, and it has natural sentinel. On the other hand, it does come into play exhausted, like all Ents, and deals damage to trigger its ability, which is a bit more difficult to deal with than discarding cards from the top of your deck. Still, overall I’d probably pick Derndingle Warrior over Longbeard Sentry if I’m looking for a strong defensive ally that can last over the course of a game, but I can definitely think of decks where I would pick the Sentry, especially if I’m looking to key in on the Dwarf trait. All in all, this ally is a valuable addition to the card pool, but one that won’t make the cut in every Tactics deck.

  • Theme Note: For those wondering about the naming of the Longbeard Sentry, as well as the Longbeard Map-maker and Longbeard Elder, the word “Longbeard” refers to Durin’s Folk specifically. Dwarves in Tolkien’s world are divided into seven kindreds or “families”, descended from one of the seven original Dwarves. In the case of the Longbeards, their ancestor is Durin, which is why they are called Durin’s Folk. Most of the notable Dwarves we meet in The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings are Longbeards, including Thorin, Gimli, and Balin. The Longbeards are supposed to be the wisest of all Dwarves and seem to have the strongest relationships with other races, like the Elves and Men, at least historically.

Versatility: ♦♦♦◊◊

Efficiency: ♦♦♦♦◊

Uniqueness: ♦♦◊◊◊

Wellinghall Preserver (Lore Ally, 3 cost, 3 willpower, 2 attack, 2 defense, 3 hit points):

Wellinghall-Preserver

 

At this point, I think when a new Ent ally is released, I could probably say, “This is an Ent ally”, and call it a day for that particular review. In other words, every Ent ally so far has been really, really good and the Wellinghall Preserver is no exception. However, let’s take a closer look at this ally and see what exactly makes it so good. Besides the amazing stats, the Wellinghall Preserver helps to heal Ents:

Cannot have restricted attachments.

Enters play exhausted.

Response: After Wellinghall Preserver readies, heal 1 damage from an Ent character.

 

Healing in general has become more and more important as archery and direct damage has become a more prominent feature of scenarios. Whereas it once was somewhat of an optional ability, now healing is necessary in many cases. The fact that the Wellinghall Preserver can heal just by readying, instead of having to exhaust or expend any resources, makes this particular form of healing quite good, even if it is restricted to Ents. To expand on the archery/direct damage point a bit more, one of the reasons the Ents are so useful is because each of them has a large pool of hit points, allowing them to serve as fantastic damage soaks, and the Wellinghall Preserver helps to facilitate this aspect even more.

But reducing the Ents to mere pincushions is a bit of a disservice, and there’s much more to the trait and to this particular ally. One of the main themes of the Ent archetype is dealing damage to themselves to trigger certain effects (or keying off of that damage). The large hit point pools of the Ents helps to offset this need to deal damage a bit, but it can still add up over time, especially if you add on damage from the encounter deck or from defending. This is where healing becomes key for Ent decks, in order to prevent a situation in which your Ent characters are so saturated with damage that you can no longer activate their abilities. The old, reliable Warden of Healing is great for this purpose, but the Wellinghall Preserver is an even better solution, as he brings another strong Ent character to the table to play off of existing synergies, and he can heal 1 point of damage from an Ent each round simply by readying.

The first natural target for the Wellinghall Preserver is hero Treebeard. This hero is remarkably powerful but needs to continually heal to be most useful. The Preserver can help in this regard, and if you can get 2 or 3 copies out quickly, then Treebeard can be nigh unstoppable. Of course, it’s easier said than done to accomplish this goal, so other forms of healing are probably needed in a hero Treebeard deck. Still, Lore has enough card draw, including Ent Moot, that you should be able to get multiple copies of Wellinghall Preserver out eventually. The Derndingle Warrior also loves the Preserver, as that ally needs to deal 1 damage to itself to gain the +3 defense boost. Eventually, you can run out of available hit points if you don’t have healing and the Derndingle Warrior becomes a bit less useful, but the Wellinghall Preserver can allow the Warrior’s ability to be triggered over and over again. Besides those 2 obvious candidates, every Ent can benefit from the Preserver’s ability. Although the Silvan Tracker, the Silvan analogue to the Wellinghall Preserver, is arguably stronger in that it heals 1 damage from every single Silvan character when they ready, you actually wouldn’t want that kind of global healing on the Wellinghall Preserver, as the Booming Ent plays directly off of the number of Ents with damage on them.

A point to note about the Preserver’s healing effect is that, like all healing effects, it gets stronger with hero Elrond on the table. Pair the two together and the Wellinghall Preserver can heal 2 damage from an Ent character when it readies, which is amazing. In addition, since the Preserver heals every single time it readies, not just when it readies during the refresh phase, you can get extra healing out of this ability by readying this ally with ally Treebeard or Boomed and Trumpeted.

Besides the healing ability, you are getting a ridiculously strong ally with the Wellinghall Preserver. 3 willpower makes this ally the best questing ally in Lore, since it stays around unlike ally Elrond, and is much cheaper than Gildor. The Preserver is even a better quester than most heroes in Lore! If that wasn’t enough,  this ally can attack for 2, which is decent, and is a great defender with 2 defense and 3 hit points (along with the ability to heal himself). Put A Burning Brand on the Preserver and it is actually a valid defensive option against many enemies. All of this utility distinguishes the Wellinghall Preserver from every other healing ally and allows it to do almost anything you need and do it well. If you’re playing an Ent deck, this ally is an auto-include. If you’re not playing an Ent deck or not including any Ent characters, then you might not use the Wellinghall Preserver as its healing ability would be useless. On the other hand, I might include this ally anyway because the stats are so good for 3 resources.

  • Theme Note: Wellinghall was one of the Ent-houses of Treebeard in Fangorn Forest. A stream was present in Wellinghall from which the Ent-draughts given to Merry and Pippin were drawn. It makes sense that Wellinghall would thus be associated with healing, and a Wellinghall Preserver is likely an Ent that helps to heal trees and other Ents, possibly using the waters of the River Entwash.

Versatility: ♦♦♦♦◊

Efficiency: ♦♦♦♦♦

Uniqueness: ♦♦♦◊◊

 

Conclusion

While the hero of Across the Ettenmoors has yet to prove his quality, the allies in this pack are very solid, no question about it. The Longbeard Sentry is a valuable addition to Dwarf decks, and provides yet another great defensive option for non-Dwarf Tactics decks. The Wellinghall Preserver is an absolute all-star, like all Ents so far, and is worth a look in many Lore decks. With allies like these, the relative merits of the hero become a bit less important.

Readers, what are your thoughts on the allies in this pack?

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From → Reviews

21 Comments
  1. Thaddeus permalink

    My thoughts? I think they can be summed up as “soooooo goooooood!!!!”.
    I *immediately* tossed those Longbeard Sentries into my Dwarf mining deck. It was already an incredibly powerful deck, but its main weakness was defense and the Sentry fills that role nicely! I even triggered a Hidden Cache one of the first times I used him!
    And with the Wellinghall Preserver I am stoked to build a new ent deck. The only tough question is whether to use hero Treebeard or ally Treebeard…

    • mpk permalink

      I can just imagine a treebeard/elrond deck… but who would be best as the tactics hero?

      • Remember that Elrond can pay for the tactics Ents, in the worst case. In fact, if you’re using ally Treebeard, you can do the whole Ent thing without any Tactics heroes or songs at all.

        • Thaddeus permalink

          For thematic goodness, I’m thinking Treebeard, Merry, and Pippin.

        • Phillos permalink

          I really like Elrond in my Ent deck, and you could use him this way as your only source of tactics resources. You would only lose “Boomed and Trumpeted” right now for Ent cards. Though that is a really good card, and I couldn’t give it up. I’ve used Tactics Merry as my Tactics hero to offset the high starting threat, but he doesn’t feel like he really fits.

          Thaddeus’s comment above gave me “Teen Girl Squad” flashbacks.

        • Ainah permalink

          I play a solo ent deck with Faramir (Le), Mablung (Ta) and Beravor (Lo) plus ally Treebeard. Works really well. You play an ent exhausted and when you engage an enemy Mablung gets a resource and the ent you just played readies via Faramirs response. Very effective, and fun! Treebeard ally really helps paying for the ents. Especially the Tactics ones. Burning Brand on a Wandering Ent or two for defending against weak enemies. Derndingle Warrior handle the heavy hitters. Healing them all via Wellingham Preservers, that I never use for defence, only for questing with their superb 3 willpower. You might want to swap Beravors card draw with Elronds ability to defend with the Brand and the more powerful healing for some quests but I really like the insane card draw Beravor has.

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      If you’re going Treebeard/Elrond, then Merry is probably the best Tactics choice if you want that Tactics hero. Maybe the only choice as he’s the only one with low threat. Good thing is he can attack with Treebeard and let Treebeard get 2 attacks with his boosted attack. But you can also just use Elrond’s ability to pay for Tactics Ents, as others have mentioned already. I’m still figuring out my favorite Ent combination, but I’m still partial to my March of the Wormbeard deck (Grima, Treebeard, Frodo).

      • Thaddeus permalink

        I just made my Treebeard/Lore Pippin/Tactics Merry deck and it ramped up in power quite solidly. So far I’ve only tested it in a solo game with Road to Rivendell (selected randomly), but it just stomped everything. To help deal with the ent’s time delay I included some copies of Feint and Quick Strike (Treebeard can solo squish most enemies that are likely to have any early engagement) and initial questing power isn’t too bad.
        I can definitely see how swapping out Treebeard for Elrond and including the Treebeard ally would have some *crazy* power, but I found the thematicness of Treebeard/Pippin/Merry too irresistible.

  2. Steven permalink

    I’ve always kept Ered Nimrais Prospector in the back of my mind as a card that would become useful eventually. The Longbeard Sentry seems a like a thematic combo with him. I hope milling/mining becomes more of an archetype.

    I haven’t played ents, so I’m not really in any position to say, but are they shaping up to be the new Dwarf/Outlands power-trait? Each one of them seems so rediculously powerful. But maybe I’m underestimating the cost of coming into play exhausted.

    @MPK Merry to ready Treebeard and keep your threat down seems the most obvious choice.

    • Thaddeus permalink

      Oh man! The Prospector is one of the staple cards in my Dwarf mining deck! He only costs two, so I can play him first round (heroes are Dain, Bifur, and Nori) and his ability to cycle back a card from the discards means I can get more uses out of cards like Very Good Tale and Hidden Cache or other cards of strategic importance.

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      I really love the Dwarf mining decks, and I’m hoping to get back to my Dwarf mining Dwarrowdelf campaign if content ever slows down and I can catch up.

      As for Ents, they are pretty darn powerful already. The key is really finding the right hero combination that can hold off the encounter deck long enough to allow the Ents to get going. I don’t find them to be overpowered so far as the immediate exhaustion is a meaningful impediment, but they are definitely set to be a higher tier deck I would sya.

      • Steven permalink

        Good to know that the Ent’s drawback plays a significant role in getting to use them. I found Entmoot to be unnessesarily better than than the eagles are comming due to the ‘ent’ trait being on many of their support cards as well. I wouldn’t like it if Ents where to ‘obsolete’ eagles, but they seem to do their own thing.

        @Thaddeus: The prospector is a good card certainly, but let’s be honest, if you’re playing Dain and already used 1 Very Good Tale, you’re probably already in a great position and there are plenty of alternative lore-dwarfs that could fill his role almost as good. It makes an already powerful deck slightly stronger. Outside of a Dwarf deck though, he seemed like a card that ‘could’ combo really well, but lacked enough other cards to combo with, losing a spot in my decks to allies that bring a bit more immidiate benefit to the table. I think his relative worth in an Erestor deck is far greater than in a dwarf deck. What I’m saying is: he could be much more than when he was released with the correct cards to support him.

        • Thaddeus permalink

          The prospector’s ability to shuffle a card back into your deck should not be overlooked.

  3. Great article as always. I really like the allies in this pack. They both have amazing art, cool names, fun abilities and multiple decks that they can call home (maybe not as much with the Preserver).

    • mpk permalink

      I think the preserver can call any deck with two or more lore heroes “home” – 3 willpower on an ally is extremely good, especially in lore.

  4. Sechen permalink

    Longbeard Sentry is very powerful in a Gandalf deck too. If there’s something specific you’re looking for, you can burn the top couple of cards every phase until you find it., acting as a crazy accelerator. The downside is that you might burn the card you want, but overall the chance that it speeds you up is pretty high.

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      Good call. I always like having a few cards in a Gandalf Deck that can let me claw through to the cards I really want to see.

  5. Gizlivadi permalink

    The Preserver is going straight into my Treebeard-Elrond deck. As if the deck wasn’t powerful enough!

    • Strategian permalink

      Please post your deck

      • Gizlivadi permalink

        Elrond
        Treebeard
        Glorfindel

        Quickbeam x2
        Arwen Undomiel
        Gildor Inglorion
        Henamarth Riversong
        Warden of Healing x3
        Galadriel’s Handmaiden x3
        Erebor Hammersmith x2
        Master of the Forge x2
        Wandering Ent x3
        Gandalf x3

        Light of Valinor x3
        Ent Draught x3
        Miruvor x2
        Self Preservation x3
        Burning Brand
        Vilya x2
        Asfaloth
        Lembas x3
        Unexpected Courage x2

        A Test of Will x3
        Daeron’s Runes x3
        Elrond’s Cousel x3

        Gather Information

        Pretty much all attachments except the specific ones go on Treebeard. Quest, attack and defend with him almost every round, always using his ability and then healing him inmediately.

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