The Treachery of Rhudaur: Allies Review
I’m Glowwyrm and I’ve been playing the game for nearly three years now (I started around the release of Heirs). I play mostly two-handed and pure solo, I love experimental and interesting decks, and I don’t mind losing a lot to see if I can get a deck to work. When I critique cards, I’m not just looking for is it good or bad, but what kinds of fun things could I do with it. With that being said, thanks for the opportunity and happy reading!
We’ve been on a run of packs with great allies in them (and of packs with Ent allies in them, which is probably only a coincidence) and the Treachery of Rhudaur is no exception. We’ve got a high cost powerhouse ally and a low cost utility ally, both of which fuel the new Noldor draw/discard mechanics. If you’re interested in playing elf decks, or you just love to draw and discard cards, these allies are for you. But which one will have a bigger impact on the game? Read on to find out….
Side Note: In addition to the usual Tales from the Cards rating system, I will be providing my own rating called the Glowwyrm Scale of Interest. Ratings range from Dull-Fascinating based on how much I want to build a deck with this card in it. Here’s what each rating means:
- Dull: I’m probably not going to use this card.
- Meh: It could find its way into some decks, but I’m not going out of my way to put it in.
- Intriguing: I’m definitely going to try it out sometime, but there’s no rush.
- Interesting: I’m throwing it into some decks to take it out for a spin
- Fascinating: I’m tearing my decks down right now to build around this card.
Enough with the business, on to the review!
* Galadhrim Weaver (Spirit Ally, 1 cost, 1 willpower, 0 attack, 0 defense, 1 hit points):
I love 1 cost allies! I can always play them and they are nice in a pinch for chump blocking. Well, at least they usually are, but the Galadhrim Weaver can’t attack or defend. Hmm. What should we make of her? Well, for one cost you get one willpower and one hit point, which is not great. She can’t attack or defend, but she doesn’t have stats in either area, so alright. You also get the Silvan trait (Yay!) and the Craftsman trait (Yay?) and a great enters play ability:
Cannot attack or defend.
Response: After Galadhrim Weaver enters play, shuffle the top card of your discard pile into your deck.
Now things get interesting. Since she comes in the pack with Erestor, let’s start with how her ability fits in a deck centered on his ability. Erestor draws a ton of cards, but he also forces you to discard your hand at the end of every turn, which means you’re losing cards you wish you could keep. This is especially a problem on the first turn of the game when you have a beautiful opening hand of ten cards (yay!) but will end up discarding quite a few of them at the end of the round (muffled sobs). But that’s ok. You have to accept that losing cards is part of life with an Erestor deck because your goal here is not just winning at a card game, it’s to grow as a person. I mean, you’re going to lose a lot of cards but that’s where the Galadhrim Weaver comes in. She can rescue your most important card and send it back to your deck. Every turn when you discard, discard the card that you need last. Then, if you draw a Weaver the next turn, you’re golden!
For example: are you feeling the pain of drawing all three Will of the Wests in your opening hand? Stick one on top of the discard pile and hope for a turn two Galdhrim Weaver to bail you out. Did you discard your Silver Harp because you didn’t have the resources to play it? Again, Galadhrim Weaver’s got your back. Sure, these cards are going back into your deck (and not into your hand which would be ridiculous), but in an Erestor deck, that’s great! You don’t want these cards right now anyway, you want them a couple of turns into the future when you’ve had time to build up your resources (or in the case of Will of the West, to put more cards in your discard pile). You won’t have to wait too long to see them again: you are playing an Erestor deck after all.
The downside to the Galadhrim Weaver is that she’s only useful in the right situation. If you draw her on turn one, you won’t have a use for her. Similarly, if you draw her but don’t have anything on top of your discard pile that you really need, your resources are better spent on an ally that can do more than quest for one. So, in an Erestor deck, she has clear utility, even if she isn’t the most powerful card.
I might be more interested in using the GW in a Silvan deck. My best Silvan deck uses Galadriel and includes three copies of Silvan Refugee. The Refugee only costs one, quests for three the first turn out, and is a great target for the Silvan events. However, the Refugee has an obvious downside in a Silvan deck: Silvan allies are constantly leaving play and she leaves play whenever any other character leaves play. This can get you stuck in a loop in which you are returning the Refugee to hand over and over so that you don’t lose her for nothing instead of the allies with useful abilities when they enter play. Now, the GW is here to save the day. She has a great enters play ability which will help you recycle your Silvan events. She still only costs one, so you can use your O Lorien cost reduction on allies from other spheres. She’ll quest for two the turn she enters play, chip in one willpower on every other turn she’s out there, and stay around even if your other allies leave play (unlike the Refugee). She’s a legit target for Silvan events because she’ll help you recycle the event you just played when you play her again, and she still only costs one! I’m swapping the Refugee out for the Weaver immediately in my Silvan deck.
Outside of an Erestor deck or a Silvan deck, does GW have any other uses? Not really. There just aren’t enough cards yet that play off of the discard pile, but I could see her utility growing as the Noldor trait is developed. She’s not bringing anything to the table stat-wise, so if you’re not triggering her ability she’s not worth playing.
Finally, does her ability justify the deck space when there are other, more powerful recursion effects available? Will of the West only costs one, and it will recycle your entire discard pile, not just your top card. Dwarven Tomb lets you retrieve any Spirit card you want, and Ered Nimrais Prospector can recycle any card of your choice from the discard pile too. However, to ask if she’s worth the deck space is to miss the point: you’re playing an Erestor deck! What is this notion of “deck space?” Throw in every recursion effect because you’re going to draw them all! Seriously though, in an Erestor deck there is more than enough room for her, and she’s great with the Silvans so play her there. Otherwise, as mentioned, she gets a pass.
Glowwyrm’s Rating: Intriguing – I’m definitely going to try it out sometime, but there’s no rush
Ian’s thoughts: Not to much to add to Glowwyrm’s perspective here. This ally is primarily meant for Erestor or Silvan decks, and in either one, she can make use of Children of the Sea to give you a temporary willpower boost for a round. Many Spirit decks, such as Caldara decks or those focusing on recursion through Dwarven Tomb/Map of Earnil, actually rely on getting cards into the discard pile, so the Galadhrim Weaver wouldn’t be any use there. For that 1 cost ally spot in Spirit, I probably still prefer the Refugee outside for many decks, or the Westfold Horse-breeder if I’m using mounts. Still, having another 1-cost option with 1 willpower is useful. I’d give her a 3 for versatility, 3 for efficiency, and 2 for uniqueness.
* Galdor of the Havens (Lore Ally, 4 cost, 2 willpower, 2 attack, 1 defense, 4 hit points):
The designers continue to correct the previous injustices done to the Lore Sphere allies (most of them stink), this time in non-Ent form. Galdor is a powerhouse. For four cost you get two willpower (great in Lore) two attack (no slouch in Lore, they can’t all be Quickbeam), one defense (meh) and four hitpoints (hardier than most Ents!). You also get the Noldor trait (could be exciting in the near future). Oh, and you get this ability:
Response: After 1 or more cards are discarded from your hand, draw 1 card. Limit once per round.
A brief aside: Poor ally Haldir. He was the coolest ally in Lore for a long time. You felt great paying four and getting hero stats, ranged and sentinel all on an ally card. He cost a lot, but it felt worth it to have an iconic character on the table (Gildor just never did it for me, maybe because he wasn’t at Helm’s Deep). Slowly, all of his value has been drained away. Last cycle, we got the excellent Haldir hero which made it questionable to ever play the ally. A couple packs later the ents come along with all the stats for half the cost to knock him down another peg. Now in Galdor, you’ve got a fellow elf with the same number of stat points (and with another hit point instead of defense, which is better) and a killer ability. Let’s consider Galdor the official replacement of ally Haldir, may he rest in binder.
Okay, back on track. Galdor’s stats are solid but not spectacular for the cost. Is his ability worth the extra resources?
The short answer is yes. Here’s the long answer:
Discarding is not a normal part of the game. Unless you’re playing a scenario that attacks your hand, you’re going to have to trigger Galdor’s ability through player card effects. Fortunately, Galdor comes in a pack in which players are encouraged to trash their cards like bad poker hands. If you’re running Erestor, Galdor will almost always give you an extra card every planning phase (it will always be true for Cirdan when he comes out). Additionally Protector of Lorien, Steed of Imladris, and Elven Spear are all cards in the Noldor archetype that allow players to trigger Galdor’s ability during the round, so not surprisingly he’s a great fit for the archetype. Oh, and speaking of elves, Galdor can replace the card you have to discard when you use Galadriel’s Mirror. Sure, the card you draw with Galdor won’t totally make up for the fact that you just discarded the Unexpected Courage you spent three turns fishing for with the mirror, but it will ease the pain a little. Outisde of the Noldor, Eown’s ability can also trigger Galdor’s response, but we’ll get to her later on. So in the right deck, triggering Galdor’s ability won’t be a problem, but what do you gain from replacing your discarded cards?
In an Erestor deck, Galdor should net you an extra card for every planning phase (unless you didn’t have any cards to discard at the end of last round, which is possible). Having an extra card for planning in an Erestor deck is crucial because you can’t save any cards from the previous round. Whether you’re setting up your crazy combos, trying to draw a crucial attachment, or simply hoping to replace a card that you just discarded because you didn’t have the resources to play it, seeing five cards during planning instead of four is valuable. For this reason, it can be a smart play to save a card for the end of the round in an Erestor deck (assuming Galdor’s on the table) so that you are discarding with Erestor’s passive effect, drawing with Galdor’s response, and you’re seeing five cards for your next planning phase.
As helpful as Galdor is in an Erestor deck, you have to draw him at the right moment in the game. Assuming you’re running at least two Lore heroes, first turn’s no good because you won’t have enough resources to play him. Second turn could work, but you probably spent all your resources on turn one when you had ten cards in your hand. But after that? It’s reasonable to save a little and hope he shows up so that you can keep your draw and discard engine humming. For this reason, it’s worth including three copies in an Erestor deck so that you’ll draw him at a moment when you can play him. In an Erestor deck, you won’t sweat the three copies of a unique ally because you’ve got plenty of deck space to work with and you’ll trash the other copies of him to fuel your discard machine. So go build your Erestor-Galdor decks right now and conquer the encounter deck (you should probably include other cards too).
Outside of Erestor (and inside an Erestor deck too) Galdor’s more obvious utility is that he allows you to trigger discard abilities an extra time per turn. He turns all Protector of Lorien bonuses from plus one to plus two, or he lets you trigger two Imladris Steeds per turn, clearing the location out before you’ve even quested. That’s a nice ability for a four cost ally that also brings solid stats to the table. But wait! We can do more with this ability. Say you’re dropping in an Elven Jeweler for free in planning by discarding from your hand. Galdor allows you to draw a card that you could also play during this planning phase! Or, say you’re starting the quest phase and you really need a Test of Will, trigger Protector of Lorien now (instead of right before quest resolution) to boost your willpower and draw a card. Sure, you probably won’t draw that Test of Will because the encounter deck conspired with your player deck to beat you into the ground, but at least you gave yourself a fighting chance. With the right deck, Galdor not only gives you extra cards for discard effects, but the chance to dig for cards you really need.
And then there’s the Eowyn-Galdor combo. It’s not just a great combo because Galdor boosts Eowyn every turn and replaces the card, but because it also opens the ability to trash the cards you don’t need to look for the cards that you do. In that sense, Galdor helps you thin your deck one card per turn. It might not seem like a lot, but Lore-Spirit decks can have their card draw stall out. Galdor-Eowyn guarantees you’ll keep the deck moving (of course, if you’re playing Silver Harp, you’re not even losing the cards). An even better use could be Galdor in a dedicated Rohan deck. Rohan’s major weakness is card draw, and I have a crazy deck with Eowyn-Theoden-Grima brewing that uses Eowyn and Galdor to keep the cards moving. It’s not the most effective or reliable thing in the world, but with some more work it will be fun to play.
What’s left to say about Galdor? He brings great stats and a killer ability, and though he costs four, he’s totally worth it. He’ll be a lot of fun to throw into decks to see how much mileage you can get out of his ability.
Glowwyrm’s Rating: Fascinating – I’m tearing my decks down right now to build around this card.
Ian’s Thoughts: Galdor is a great new ally, although a bit on the costly side. In some ways he’s kind of like the Lore version of the ally Erestor from Leadership, helping you to filter useless cards out of your hand in pursuit of better ones, assuming you can trigger Galdor’s ability with the right effects. More than anything though, Galdor just makes every card that is fueled by discard that much better. He even makes the fantastic Daeron’s Runes even better, turning it into a net 2 effect for 0 cost, which is amazing. I’d give him a 3 for versatility (simply because of the high cost), 4 for efficiency, and 4 for uniqueness.
So, only two allies in the pack, but they pack a lot of punch. The Weaver has definite utility, but it’s Galdor that clearly steals the show. What do you think? Which ally are you more excited to play? What creative combos could you come up with for the Weaver’s ability?