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Across the Ettenmoors: Attachments and Side Quest Review

by on September 24, 2015

 

across

I’ve been busy as a (Beorning) bee working on the next First Age expansion, which is due for release early next week. However, I will carve out some time to try to finish reviewing the player cards of the Across the Ettenmoors Adventure Pack, especially since The Treachery of Rhudaur has just released, with its own set of cards to review! The expansions have been coming so fast and furious I feel like I’m dodging player cards in my best impression of Neo from The Matrix. Are the attachments and side quest in this pack worth dodging? Or should you be plucking them out of the air to use them immediately in your decks? Read on to find out!

ATTACHMENTS

* Ranger Provisions (Leadership Attachment, 1 cost):

Ranger-Provisions

 

Ranger Provisions can be thought of as the resource generation equivalent of Ancient Mathom, as it grants resources when a particular location is explored, just as Ancient Mathom grants card draw:

Attach to a location. Limit 1 per location.

Response: After attached location is explored, the first player adds 1 resource to each of his heroes’ resource pools.

 

Resource generation is generally a good thing, unless you just don’t have cards that can or should be played, but that’s a whole separate issue. In solo play, you are looking at spending 1 to gain 3 resources (4 if playing a Saga Expansion), for a net gain of 2 resources. Therefore, in terms of raw resource gain, Ranger Provisions is better than something like Wealth of Gondor or Gaining Strength. However, obviously it’s a one-shot effect, unlike permanent resource generation from Steward of Gondor or Theodred. In multiplayer, the advantage of Ranger Provisions is that it can be given to another player, since it is the first player that gains the resources when the attached location is explored. So it is almost a form of resource transfer combined with resource generation in that case, as you could spend 1 to essentially give 3 to another player. Of course, like Ancient Mathom, the disadvantage of Ranger Provisions is that the resources are not gained immediately and they are tied to a trigger that can be somewhat unreliable.

What I mean is that you may be planning on exploring an active location during questing that has Ranger Provisions attached in order to grant the resources to a particular player, but unforeseen circumstances may occur that prevent this from happening, meaning that another player may benefit instead when they become the first player. This isn’t the worst thing in the world, but it can upset some carefully laid plans. It’s also important to consider that since Ranger Provisions are played during planning, and the trigger will happen usually during the quest phase, there is inevitably a delay in actually getting the resources, which makes this card less valuable as a flexible means of quickly reacting to a situation (which is where Wealth of Gondor/Gaining Strength have the advantage). If you do have location control effects, though, you could attach Ranger Provisions to a location during planning, and then quickly explore it with Asfaloth or Ride to Ruin or some other effect. Remember that Ranger Provisions can be attached to any location, not just the active location, which opens up the options somewhat in this regard, as you can place it on a location with only 1 or 2 quest points.

One aspect to consider is that Ancient Mathom is perhaps more valuable to Spirit as a source of card draw than Ranger Provisions is to Leadership as a source of resources, given that Spirit has traditionally been light on card draw (although this is changing), while Leadership is the resource sphere. Still, having more options is always a good thing, and Ranger Provisions has a level of flexibility in allowing another player to gain the resources in multiplayer, which is valuable. Overall, this is a very strong card that I anticipate will see quite a bit of use in the future. Resources will always be key to getting a deck functioning well and quickly, and Ranger Provisions is a strong source of resources with only a few drawbacks. Chalk this one up as a potential staple of the future, although if you are playing Leadership solo and have already included Steward of Gondor, then you may not need Ranger Provisions, although the latter benefits all heroes and all spheres, not just one.

Versatility: ♦♦♦♦♦

Efficiency: ♦♦♦♦◊

Uniqueness: ♦♦♦◊◊

* Steed of Imladris (Spirit Attachment, 1 cost):

Steed-of-Imladris

 

The mount trait has steadily grown in importance, and it’s safe to say that many of the mounts in the game are some of the most powerful cards around. Asfaloth, Shadowfax, Hobbit Pony, Snowmane, and Rohan Warhorse are all amazing attachments, with only Steed of the Mark being a bit of a dud (although useful under certain circumstances). Now we have received a brand new mount attachment that, like Asfaloth and Arod, focuses on placing progress on locations:

Attach to a Spirit or Noldor hero.

Response: After attached hero commits to a quest, discard a card from your hand to place 2 progress on the active location.

Steed of Imladris allows you to consistently place 2 progress on the active location in exchange for discarding a card from your hand. This effect is similar to Asfaloth in that it can place 2 progress tokens on a location per turn, but there are some crucial differences. The Steed of Imladris can only place progress on the active location, requires the discard of a card, and can only be triggered after the attached hero commits to the quest, instead of during any action window. On the other hand, Steed of Imladris is not unique, so multiple heroes could use this mount at the same time (or the same hero could ride 2 at once if they have the restricted slots available!). Still, despite these limitations, there certainly is value in what Steed of Imladris brings to the table,and not every card can be Asfaloth. By placing progress on the active location at the beginning of the quest phase, there are fewer quest points to deal with when it comes time to actually placing progress due to quest resolution. For example, if the active location has 4 quest points, and the Steed places 2 on it, then when it comes time to place your 6 progress tokens from questing, 4 would end up on the quest stage (after covering the rest of the active location’s quest points) instead of only 2. The Steed can thus be roughly thought of as being the equivalent of 2 willpower added to the quest, although there are of course some key differences.

One of those differences is that the progress is placed no matter what happens during actual quest resolution. This means that even if you quest unsuccessfully, the Steed of Imladris can still help you to explore the active location, which could help to bail you out of a situation in which you are becoming location locked. There is also the possibility that you could get rid of an active location at the beginning of the quest phase that has an effect while it is the active location that could have an impact on staging and rest of the phase. To take a recent example, you could potentially explore Helm’s Gate when the attached hero commits to the quest, exploring it if it already had at least 1 progress on it (or if you had multiple Steeds to trigger), so that its nasty extra reveal at the end of staging would not activate. You would still have to face the “when explored” effect, but it might be worthwhile under the right circumstances. One thing to keep in mind, though, is that immunity to player card effects on the active location would of course nullify the Steed of Imladris.

It’s clear that the Steed of Imladris has a useful ability, but is the card discard too expensive of a cost? The answer, as is so often the case, depends on the deck you are using. A Noldor discard deck or a deck running tons of duplicate uniques will not have much trouble paying the cost of the Steed. However, if you are using a Spirit deck without much card draw, for example, there may come a point where you just can’t afford to get rid of any of the cards in your hand. This dynamic does limit the versatility of this card, as there are certain decks that the Steed of Imladris just won’t be a good fit for, while others will be able to ignore the impact of the discard. Although there is nothing forcing you to use the ability, so that you could theoretically pick and choose when to use it, to get the most value out of this card and justify making space for it in your deck, you will want to be able to use it as often as possible. A potential side benefit of discarding cards could be to enable deck strategies that revolve around getting cards into the discard pile, whether we are talking about a Caldara deck, a new Noldor build, or a specific approach against a quest that hates on hand size.

Finally, there is some added value to be gleaned from the mount trait. Most importantly, the Westfold Horse-breeder can help to fetch the Steed of Imladris. But there is also the possibility of using Charge of the Rohirrim to get some extra attack out of heroes with the Steed attached. That particular event card hasn’t been too useful due to its expense, but now that there are so many mounts in the game, it just may prove to be worthwhile after all, especially if you can include some cost reduction. Overall, the Steed of Imladris is a valuable new mount attachment. I often find when deck building that Spirit has the smallest pool of attachments that I consistently consider including in most decks with that sphere. I would add Steed of Imladris to this list, which is certainly a good sign. Since the Steed can attach to any Spirit hero, since a Spirit hero will probably be a quester, and since you need to include Spirit to use this card (in most cases), the extra option to attach this to a Noldor hero doesn’t seem that meaningful, but extra flexibility can’t hurt.

Versatility: ♦♦♦◊◊

Efficiency: ♦♦♦◊◊

Uniqueness: ♦♦♦◊◊

SIDE QUEST

* Delay the Enemy (Tactics Side Quest, 0 cost, 8 quest points):

Delay-the-Enemy

 

When playing the Breaking of the Fellowship quest, at a certain point,  you are allowed to choose between different quest stages that have varying beneficial abilities when you successfully make progress. I usually pick the one that discards an engaged enemy from play, as combat is such a huge part of the game, and being able to get rid of an enemy outright without having to deal with combat is a huge advantage. Delay the Enemy is a brand new Tactics side quest that seems to operate with the same logic:

Battle.

Limit 1 per deck.

Response: When this stage is defeated, each player may choose and discard a non-unique enemy engaged with him.

 

First, let’s deal with the good. Most side quests have powerful effects, especially since they apply to each player, and Delay the Enemy certainly meets these expectations. Allowing each player to outright discard an engaged enemy is potentially a huge benefit. Neutralizing a tough enemy without having to suffer combat means gaining action advantage, since you won’t have to use any characters to defend and attack against that enemy, and also avoids any damage that might have been inflicted, or losing characters that might have been sacrificed, or suffering harmful effects from shadow cards. It’s difficult to quantify all of this in any given situation, but it’s safe to say that avoiding combat is generally a good thing. Since the enemy discarded is chosen by each player from among those engaged with them, a huge enemy with a ton of defense and hit points, like a Mumak, could be dealt with in the blink of an eye.

So the positives of Delay the Enemy are easy to see and I don’t think anyone would deny that the effect is useful. The real questions revolve around the significant drawbacks of this side quest. First off, Delay the Enemy has 8 quest points, whereas most side quests only have 4. This is a huge difference, as being able to muster 8 progress in a single round, in addition to any needed to clear the active location, is a heavy ask, far more than a mere 4 progress. Generally, side quests are only worthwhile if you can clear them in a single turn, as losing 2 rounds of questing against the main quest is usually too much to ask. Second, this side quest has the battle keyword, meaning that you have to quest with attack instead of defense. Certainly, this does make perfect sense for a Tactics side quest, and the Against the Shadow cycle taught us that there are some easy way to abuse battle questing and put up outrageous numbers. Using Vassal of the Windlord (possibly with Support of the Eagles), Gondorian Fire, a damaged Gimli, Erebor Battle Master, and/or Booming Ent are only a few of the ways that you can smash through a quest stage with the battle keyword. So the presence of the battle keyword isn’t necessarily an obstacle. In multiplayer, however, especially with 3 or 4 players, decks that are more focused on traditional willpower may struggle to contribute, while sending a bunch of strong attackers to the quest may leave players vulnerable if enemies are revealed during staging (and these won’t be eligible to be discarded by Delay the Enemy unless they immediately engage somehow).

The third drawback of Delay the Enemy is that it discards engaged enemies at the conclusion of the quest phase. Generally, players don’t keep enemies around for long if they can help it, with some exceptions (hello Dunedain decks!), so that it is likely that at least some players won’t have engaged enemies when this quest is explored. The optimal time for it to trigger would be actually at the end of the encounter phase. Still, this is probably the least compelling argument against Delay the Enemy, in my opinion. You can simply delay exploring this quest until you need to use it, and it works well as an emergency reset button, when enemies start swarming faster than you can get rid of them. In multiplayer, there are certainly plenty of times when certain players get stuck with multiple foes, and a non-combat deck may get saddled with an enemy that it doesn’t have the attack strength to defeat.

Altogether, Delay the Enemy is not as clear an add as some of the other side quests. The main aspect that gives me cause is the 8 quest points, actually. I have already expressed some reservations about using the side quests in the current cycle because many of the scenarios punish you for dawdling (or keeping multiple quests around), so Delay the Enemy would probably not make it into my decks against most current quests. However, I would certainly consider it for particular quests in the past that don’t emphasize rushing and don’t feature side quest hate. It’s definitely not a card, though, that I would use in every Tactics deck, and I probably won’t use it much in solo play, since if I’m including Tactics anyway, I’ll probably have other means of dealing with enemies. So the main niche for Delay the Enemy seems to be multiplayer. As a final note, I will say that I love the theme of the card, as you stop pursuing your objective to focus on delaying the enemy, and the artwork hones in the on the memorable battle at Balin’s tomb.

Versatility: ♦♦◊◊◊

Efficiency: ♦♦♦◊◊

Uniqueness: ♦♦♦♦♦

 

Conclusion

There is definitely an interesting mix of cards in this Adventure Pack, with a varying range of power. Both of the attachments are clearly useful, while having some meaningful limitations that prevent them from being automatic adds. They both can be used by a variety of decks, regardless of traits, and this helps to open up deck building across the board. Delay the Enemy, the new side quest, is interesting in that it could possibly facilitate those “great escape” moments that are so thrilling and memorable. At the same time, it doesn’t have what it needs to become a consistent contributor. Still, it’s definitely not one to be dismissed entirely. Next up are the events of Across the Ettenmoors, as we look to finish up the player cards of this pack!

Readers, what are your thoughts on Ranger Provisions and Steed of Imladris? Where does Delay the Enemy rate among the side quests? Will you use it?

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18 Comments
  1. I’ve seen a lot of disappointment at Delay the Enemy due to its 8 quest points, but honestly I find it way easier to muster a great deal of attack than I do willpower. I don’t know how this actually breaks down across the card pool (maybe it’s just the way I construct my decks) but I think it’ll be easier to clear this one than people are suggesting.

    Of course, this will all depend on how it actually plays out. I haven’t got my hands of AtE yet, so I haven’t been able to try it out (and I never seem to draw my sidequests anyways…).

    • William O'Brien permalink

      The problem is that if you are capable of easily completing a sidequest where you need 8 points, you probably had enough attack to just kill the enemy normally the previous turn. You might have been too overwhelmed with enemies, but if that’s the case is questing full out with your attackers such a good idea?

      It’s great for dealing with Mumak types, but boy is it situational. The timing has to be just right. The others are a little less restrictive. It probably is more playable in scenarios where you are already doing battle questing, but those aren’t common.

      • Thaddeus permalink

        Exactly. Barring a few side cases, being able to muster that much attack usually just means that you can already kill your enemies. Now sometimes you end up with a strong enemy engaged with a player that is weak on battle and the tactics deck isn’t utilizing Range or Ranger shenannigans to help out, but then you’re running into the aforementioned problem of will that other player be dead weight when you need to complete the Battle questing.
        Sure there are *some* uses, but more often this will be delaying the players more than the enemies.

  2. Truth be told I’m pretty disappointed with the player cards in this pack as a whole. I can see the events being useful, especially fair and perilous and none return, and I like seeing an net equivalent to the silvan tracker, but it doesn’t feel like the attachments are worth the deck space. Yeah, they have some useful effects but I feel like there are plenty of other cards that can fill the same purpose. I’d grab it for its potential to enable more thematic ranger or noldor decks but at this point it just doesn’t justify the cost.

    It’s a little disappointing because it feels like none return will be vital for making a Rossiel deck work which was a play style I was really interested in checking out, but since I don’t own any of the Dwarrowdelf or Hobbit expansions and thus can’t play dwarves this expansion really isn’t speaking to me with its lackluster hero and underwhelming attachments.

    I find that I like the side quests in theory more than in practice, as in most quests I’m not willing to sacrifice an entire round of progress to complete them (with the exception of situations like Conflict at the Carrock where it’s desirable to stall early on). This one doesn’t seem as bad as people are making it out to be as it fits well in tactics heavy decks where mustering high attack should be easy enough to warrant the 8 quest points.

    • Thaddeus permalink

      The allies are SO good though, that they just elevate the status for all of the player cards.
      Both synergize in bocco ways with their respective archetypes, but honestly they’re both pretty dang solid just on their own! I’d consider them in mono-lore or mono-tactics decks, easily!
      “Underwhelming” isn’t a word I’d use to describe the Steed of Imladris either. I don’t think it’s the kind of bonkers good that we saw with Asfalof, but it’s still quite a handy mount. Low cost and repeatable progress placing should never be overlooked.

      • I feel like if I was looking for a spirit effect that placed progress on the active location I’d rather pay slightly more for a Lórien guide and get an extra point of willpower and an automatic point of progress on the active location without having to discard.

        I really like the things that have been going on with Lore so far this cycle and I can see myself picking this up eventually for the Lore cards here, but I’m not super enthusiastic about another “fight the trolls” quest so to me this is not an immediate buy the same way Escape from Mount Gram was.

        • Thaddeus permalink

          That “slightly more” becomes “significantly more” if you’re splashing Spirit into your deck. Without ways to resource accelerate (or cheat allies into play), I’d never include the Lorien Guide in a deck with a single Spirit Hero, but Steed of Imladris is MUCH more doable.

  3. Chris permalink

    This is indeed an interesting pack. As a whole, hero and events included, I welcome the variety of effects printed here even if their general usefulness is questionable.

    I think the strength of delay the enemy lies in its ability to allow you to discard enemies before they can attack you that turn. 8 quest points is pretty hefty, but I suppose attack is generally easier to boost than willpower?

    Steed of Imladris could have some specific application with both ancient mathom and ranger provisions. It provides some questing control perhaps guaranteeing that the mathom or provisions will trigger on the desired player. There’s been a number of times in the past where i’very played a mathom, that I wanted to trigger that turn, only to be bogged down with threat and subsequently fail to clear the active location. The steed provides some way to circumvent this. As Ian said, the steed may allow you to clear locations even if you fail to add progress via questing. This card seems like a good “toolbelt” sort of card.

    Does anyone think that ranger provisions could have some application in a Gondor deck? Or should we just include 3 copies of Steward and be done with it?

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      Lots of huge attack boosts available, but also lots of global willpower buffs, so I guess it depends on deck composition.

      As for Ranger Provisions and Gondor, I think many times you could make do with Steward and Errand-rider, but there might be some added value in certain cases to getting resources on all your heroes. Ingold, for example, would benefit from that.

    • Thaddeus permalink

      It is true that attack boosts are easier to come by than defense boosts, that’s the one main reason I’d consider using Delay the Enemy.

  4. Traekos77 permalink

    Very few Noldor heroes that aren’t Spirit …
    Elladan
    Elrohir
    Elrond
    Glorfindel (Lore)
    Erestor (not yet released)

    Elrond (since he has Vilya access to Spirit) and Erestor (since he should often have cards that would be lost anyway) look like good combinations with the new mount.

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      Yeah, it’s nice to have the extra Noldor synergy, but in most cases, if you already have Spirit to play the card, and it doesn’t really matter who it goes on as long as they are questing, it will probably just go on a Spirit hero, Noldor or not. But there are some cases where having the flexibility might be nice, particularly in multiplayer.

  5. Azurelius permalink

    I have a pipe dream of using Delay the Enemy to act as a pseudo Trained For War to clear a nasty location at some point, but this seems really unlikely to actually come up and be practical.

    I tend to dislike cards that add progress directly to the active location, as they generally seem worse than adding willpower to me. There are a decent number of locations that are immune to player card effects, and sometimes they overkill the active location or you just don’t draw a location to use them on. That said, I do love mounts in the spirit sphere.

    • Thaddeus permalink

      Eh, so you don’t discard the cards when the active location is immune to player card effects. Honestly, unless a) I had some really good card draw acceleration (or was playing Erestor) or b) it was fairly clutch situation, I wouldn’t necessarily be using the mount every turn anyway. I certainly don’t discard for Eowyn every turn. But one resource to have the *option* for that extra two progress seems pretty solid to me. As a frequent Legolas player, I appreciate how valuable that two extra progress can be.

  6. Steven permalink

    I’m surprised by the lukewarm reaction to Delay the Enemy. My experience with tactics as a solo player has always been that location-lock is one of the deadliest foes. DtE let’s you go into Battle-questing mode at will for free. So if traditional questing isn’t cutting it, you can switch to battlequesting in an emergency. If you’re swarmed with locations, you’ve probably build up a pretty good attackforce doing nothing else anyway.

    It’s certainly better to clear a location and not put progress on the main quest than NOT clear a location and not put progress on the main quest is it not?

    And except for spirit, most characters have attack equal to or greater than their willpower, so you’re not losing much there either. Only if you’re playing with a spirit player with ton’s off willpower to spare would I not include it in a tactics deck.

    • Thaddeus permalink

      I don’t see that as a reliable strategy for dealing with location lock. Dealing with location lock requires either *consistent* high questing power or otherwise having progress-placing capabilities.

    • Silver Swan permalink

      As long as you don’t complete Delay the Enemy, consistent high questing power can be replaced by consistent high attack power. And Delay the Enemy’s 8 quest points are your friend there.

      You could even use it for quests that don’t require progress to advance (such as The Morgul Vale and the second and third stages of A Dunland Trap) to completely do away with willpower, only focusing on attack and defense. (Of course, you’d need some way to fetch it, and you’d probably also want scrying to avoid over-questing.) This in itself makes Delay the Enemy the most intriguing side quest so far to me.

      • Thaddeus permalink

        I can see some potential there with Journey to Rhosgobel as pushing through the second stage is bad if you don’t have enough athelas AND it would let you get rid of those pesky enemies that can only be attacked/defended by Eagles or Range characters.

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