The Treachery of Rhudaur: Events and Side Quest Review
Glowwyrm here with a look at the side quest and the events from The Treachery of Rhudaur. The Noldor discard deck wasn’t the only archetype to get some love in this pack, as the events and the side quest give support to the Valour keyword, Rossiel decks, and Leadership ally decks. There’s a lot of interesting and potentially powerful cards here, so let’s dive into the new card pool goodness.
* The Door Is Closed (Lore Event, 1 cost):
I love how Tolkien approaches magic in the Third Age. It’s definitely there, but it’s subtle and almost mundane: the sky is darkened then dawn awakes, a mirror shows glimpses of a possible future, a light shines when all else is dark, a bridge breaks. These are not the showy fire blasts or the magic missiles of fantasy, but the subtle arts of the wise souls who understand that the smallest of acts can change fate. When magic is featured in the LCG, the card mechanics need to reflect these themes, and man have the designers ever nailed it with elf-magic. The victory display manipulation cards represent the magic that the elves use to hold back the forces of Sauron. Galadriel influences events and counters his plans rather than meeting him with brute force, just as the victory display deck messes with the encounter deck instead of overwhelming it with numbers. While putting enemies and locations in the victory display is useful, and while boosting Rossiel is fun and effective, the real ace in the hole for that deck is The Door is Closed.
The Door is Closed is a lore event that costs one and reads
Response: After an encounter card is revealed from the encounter deck, cancel its effects and discard it if there is a card with the same title in the victory display.
Think of this as a “create your own cancellation card,” which also happens to be the most powerful cancellation card in the entire game. Better than Eleanor, Black Riders Frodo, or Minas Tirith Lampwright, and even more powerful than A Test of Will (though certainly not as reliable), The Door Is Closed allows you to wipe away ALL the effects of an encounter card. Does it have surge? Adios, not revealing anything extra. Does it want to doom you? No thanks, we’ll leave the threat raising to Grima. Prowl, ambush or any other annoying scenario specific keyword? Not gonna happen. The cancellation is not limited to treacheries or “When Revealed” effects either, because you can send enemies and locations straight to the discard pile too, no exploring or combat necessary. There is undeniable power in this card. In my play-testing I’ve used it to discard annoying Troll Spawns in Across the Ettenmoors, to cancel Cold from Angmar on a key round of questing in Weather Hills, and to swat away that obnoxious Outlying Homestead in Intruders in Chetwood. It is incredibly satisfying to nuke some of the most annoying encounter cards from this cycle.
But here are the problems: this card requires some setup (you have to get a specific card into the victory display before you can cancel another copy of that card), the right time to play it may never come, or it may end up canceling something when the game is well in hand anyway (as it was when I sent the Troll Spawn straight to the discard pile). So, is this card worth the hassle, and can you get it ready fast enough to make a difference in the game?
First, a quick aside. This card could be a fun throw in with any Lore deck in the following scenarios: Journey Along the Anduin (Hill Troll, Gladden Fields), Hills of Emyn Muil (locations), any Khazad-dum Scenario with the Cave Trolls, Flight from Moria (nightmare has a few cards that put themselves in the victory display), Foundations of Stone (Nameless Things), Encounter at Amon Din (locations), Druadan Forest (Woses on the last stage) Battle of Laketown (locations), and the Old Forest (locations). Most encounter cards with victory points are unique, meaning there would be no second copy to cancel. However, all of these scenarios have non-unique encounter cards that go to the victory display so that second copies could be potentially canceled by The Door is Closed, even if you include no other victory display manipulation in your deck.
For starters, you are going to have to get the cards you want to cancel into the victory display. This takes some time and setup, as everyone who’s played a Rossiel deck knows. Out of the Wild is helpful in this regard, because as early as the first turn it will allow you to put a card of any type into the victory display. Using Out of the Wild is also one of two ways that you could set up treachery cancellation for The Door is Closed (Scout Ahead is the other). While treachery cancellation isn’t the flashiest way to use The Door is Closed (we’ve been canceling treacheries since the Core Set with A Test of Will after all), having redundant cancellation for some of the worst treacheries in the game is worthwhile. I’ve had plenty of games where I’ve watched my fellowship go down in treachery flames and then searched through my deck, wanting to see just where that copy of A Test of Will was hiding. The Door is Closed can give you an extra source of cancellation against any treachery you can put in the victory display, which in some scenarios could be the difference between winning and losing.
While redundant treachery cancellation is useful, the more entertaining use of the Door is Closed is to send locations and enemies straight to the discard pile. Think of all the resources that decks devote to dealing with these encounter cards! Building an army of allies to quest past those locations, piling attachments onto heroes to deal with combat, and here you are, the victory display guy, casually dismissing the encounter deck with a single resource. Of course, you have to spend a lot of resources to set this combo up. You’ve got to draw to your None Returns and your Leave No Traces, you have to explore your locations and defeat your enemies (thank you teammates!), and then you have cancellation only when the second copy of that enemy or location comes off of the encounter deck. It will probably be turn three before you can cancel anything, and it might be turn four or five before you see those encounter cards again. At that point, the game could be well in hand or out of hand.
Which brings us to judgment time: is The Door is Closed worth the time and effort? It really depends on the scenario. In scenarios that force you to play fast, The Door is Closed is merely a nice bonus to the Rossiel deck. You’re doing all the victory display shenanigans anyway to boost Rossiel, so you might as well throw in The Door is Closed for some cancellation. In scenarios that take longer, The Door is Closed might be the difference between winning and losing. Lots of scenarios force the players to slow down, especially in the side quest cycle. The longer the game goes the more powerful this card becomes because you are putting more cards into the victory display. By turn five or six, you could have five or six different encounter cards in the victory display, which gives you five or six things that you could cancel at a key point in the game. In scenarios (or player counts) in which the game will go more rounds, this card is awesome.
All these words and I still haven’t even touched on how this event interacts with encounter deck manipulation (it’s great!), or that, unlike other victory display cards, you can recycle this and play it again and again. Instead I’ll wrap up with this thought: if you’re looking for elf-magic, this is it. Mechanically and thematically this card is a win. You won’t always get to use it to influence the game, but every time you do you will feel like a boss.
Glowwyrm’s Rating: Fascinating. It’s the reason I love the victory display deck.
Ian’s thoughts: I don’t have too much to add to Glowwyrm’s review, as he seems to share most of my thoughts. I really love the victory display mechanic and Rossiel, and The Door Is Closed feels like that knockout punch you’re waiting to setup all match. I almost don’t care exactly what I cancel. The real power here is essentially having to deal with one fewer card during staging. This is a 3x in every Rossiel deck, and a contender for my favorite card in the cycle. I’d give this a 2 for versatility, 4 for efficiency, and 5 for uniqueness.
* Horn’s Cry (Tactics Event, 2 cost):
Ian has advanced the theory that niche cards in adventure packs are meant to counter something specific from the accompanying quest. I can’t think of a better example than Horn’s Cry, or more aptly titled “the anti-Cursed Dead card.”
Horn’s cry is a Tactics event with a cost of two that reads:
Action: All enemies get -1 attack until the end of the phase.
Valour Action: Choose a player. Each enemy engaged with that player gets -3 attack until the end of the phase.
If you’ve played Deadmen’s Dike or Treachery of Rhudaur, you can probably identify with the following scenario. You’re one or two strong questing pushes away from victory. You’ve been killing the undead left and right, the staging area is fairly under control, and you have a plan in place for dealing with Thaurdir. Then you reveal a Cursed Dead, who brings four of his buddies out of the discard pile to join him in the staging area. What looked like sure victory suddenly turned into a table-flipper. GG all, see you later. Well, Horn’s Cry has something to say about that.
When you’re swarmed by enemies, lowering their attack can mean the difference between taking some damage and watching a hero die. Minus one attack isn’t much, but if you’ve got five Cursed Dead on the table, changing them all from three attack to two attack can be a big deal. Three attack pierces defense on allies and heroes, but two doesn’t. Three attack is dangerous undefended, because a shadow boost could mean death, but two gives you some wiggle room. When I was playing Treachery of Rhudaur, this card saved my bacon as four Cursed Dead descended on a Tactics deck that wasn’t quite ready for them all. Reducing their attack by one meant that my allies didn’t die from defending, an undefended attack didn’t kill a hero, and then I was able to swing back and clear some of them out. So minus one attack can be very good if you’re swarmed by enemies.
Minus three attack in valour mode is even better. That would turn all of those Cursed Dead from three attackers to zero attackers, meaning all you have to do is sweat the shadow cards. With a little bit of damage cancellation you could let all the attacks go undefended then drive them back into their graves with a bunch of ready attackers. The valour action also sets up the potential for a Hammerstroke, Horn’s Cry, beat-down turn that would be absolutely epic to pull off.
All of this sounds great and awesome. However, there just aren’t that many times when you need this card. Part of winning in this game is managing enemies and engagements, and if you’re being overwhelmed by enemies you’re probably in trouble for reasons other than needing this card. A handful of scenarios will force a bunch of enemies on you at once, like Cursed Dead in Deadman’s Dike and Treachery of Rhudaur, or Stage two in Breaking of the Fellowship, but for the most part you should be managing your enemies well enough not to need this card. Two cost for a Tactics event is a lot, and though Mablung helps all Tactics cost curves in this regard, you’d probably rather play a Derndingle Warrior or Defender of Rammas for the resources. Another downside of this card is that because it targets enemies (rather than boosting defense), it won’t effect enemies that are immune to player card effects.
As Valour becomes a more developed trait (please don’t be like secrecy!), I could see this card gaining value. Minus three attack is significant, and if your teammates can keep low threat while you stay in Valour and engage everything, this card could be awesome. A nice niche (say that ten times fast) use of this card is to support Dunedain decks. Since you want to leave so many enemies engaged with you, there will be turns when you don’t have enough defenders. Horn’s Cry can help in that situation so that your Dunedain allies can defend without dying (and the new Amarthiul hero could pay for it).
But when it comes down to it, Horn’s Cry is a sideboard card. When you’re facing scenarios that force a bunch of enemies on you at once, throw this card in because it could save your heroes. Otherwise, you can probably find a better use for your two Tactics resources.
Glowwyrm’s Rating: Meh. Sounds a lot cooler than it is in practice.
Ian’s Thoughts: I like getting more options to fit a variety of situations, and, as Glowwyrm pointed out, this fills the role of anti-swarm defense in a way that we haven’t gotten before. However, in most cases, I’d rather just have a 0-cost Gondorian Discipline to cancel damage or an Honour Guard for the same cost to cancel damage as well. This is the kind of card that can win a game for you 1 out of 10 games, and then sit idle for the rest. It’s hard to put a value on such cards. Fun, useful at times, but definitely not a staple. I’d give it 3 for versatility, 2 for efficiency, and 4 for uniqueness.
* Reinforcements (Leadership Event, 3 cost):
How many times do you want to play Core Set Gandalf without paying his full cost? You can do it three more times per game now thanks to Reinforcements!
Reinforcements is a Leadership event that costs three and reads:
You must spend resources from 3 different heroes’ resource pools to play this card.
Action: The players, as a group, can put up to 2 allies into play from their hands. Each of these allies may enter play under any player’s control. At the end of the phase, return each of those allies that are still in play to their owners’ hands.
I love this card. While it’s a niche card like Horn’s Cry, the niche it carves out is in the space of odd and creative deck building. And while this card seems to encourage cooperation, don’t you buy into that nonsense for one second. This card is about you putting your bomb allies into play over and over again, regardless of who your teammates might have in hand.
Case in point: I built a mono-leadership deck based on getting Beorn and Gandalf into play as many times as possible without actually paying for them. Between Sneak Attack, Reinforcements, and Tome of Atanatar (and nods to Dunedain Message and Gather Information) I was able to put a wizard and a bear into play consistently and lay waste to the trolls and giants of the Ettenmoors. Gandalf was drawing cards, lowering threat, and dealing out damage while Beorn was bringing the pain by swinging for eight. Nothing could stand in their way. It didn’t matter who the enemies were engaged with because the wizard and the bear would hunt them down. And if that sounds like cooperation to you, it’s not because they came right back to my hand when they were done.
Oh sure, I hear the objections: “but you’re not actually advancing your permanent board state! Spending all of your leadership resources in a round for one phase of two allies isn’t all that great!” To that I say “WIZARD AND BEAR!”
(Here’s a short, more serious take. On the plus side, Reinforcements allows you to respond to emergency combat situations by giving allies where they’re needed. It also allows you to bring off sphere allies into play in a mono-leadership deck, which is a thing now. Gandalf, Elrond, and Beorn are all good targets for this event, and when combined with Sneak Attack you can reliably drop them into play. Three resources is a lot, but it’s not that much for a mono-leadership deck. On the negative side, because this card costs three resources you have to plan for your combat emergency. In a regular mono leadership deck, most of the on sphere allies you could drop into play aren’t that great. I could see a crucial questing phase in which you drop Faramir and Gandalf into play and make a big impact, but not too many other scenarios. There will also be times when you and your teammates don’t have any good targets for this card. So if you plan around this card being in your deck it can be successful, but don’t just throw it in and expect it to do work.)
Glowwyrm’s Rating: Fascinating. Built an entire deck around this card and it was fun to play.
Ian’s Thoughts: I feel like you have to evaluate this card in its proper place: as part of a mono-Leadership deck. In such a deck, 3 resources is quite affordable, especially compared to other spheres, and there aren’t a ton of staple Leadership events that demand inclusion instead. I’d certainly consider including this in any mono-Leadership deck, at least 1 or 2 copies. In multiplayer, this gets bonkers, and would be a definite add. One easy piece to miss is that the allies can enter play under any player’s control. This is huge in multiplayer and gives just the flexibility you need to save a player or kill a boss. This just may be the best of the mono-sphere 3-cost events (Thicket of Spears and Shadows Give Way being the others so far). I’d give it a 2 for versatility, 4 for efficiency, and 3 for uniqueness.
* Send For Aid (Leadership Side Quest, 1 cost, 6 quest points):
Send for Aid is a Leadership side quest. It costs one (inflation!), has six quest points and has the usual limit of one per deck. Its text reads:
Response: When this stage is defeated, each player may search the top 10 cards of his deck for an ally and put it into play under his control. Each player who did shuffles his deck.
Wow! While the usual side quest caveats apply (it costs you a turn of questing, you have to have enough willpower to clear it), there’s a lot of value in this. Say you’re in a four player game and you play this for one resource, then complete the quest that turn. Everyone plays a two cost ally, meaning that you saved the group seven resources, and I think that’s the bare minimum of resource savings in a four player game (if the other players use this to pull out one cost allies, you’re probably going to lose). If we get crazy (and I mean really crazy), you could save twenty-one resources with this card! That, however, would involve pulling out Beorn, Brok, Gwaihir and Gandalf, a very unlikely event (because someone on your team put Brok in their deck and you’re definitely going to lose). Whatever the total amount of resources you end up saving, there’s undeniable value in a four player game. What about the value at other player counts? Three players is still a nice savings, while two and one players aren’t going to net a ton of resources from this effect. But instead of counting up the resource acceleration in terms of resources saved (though in four players it can be a ton), think about how the resources are distributed. Most resource acceleration only affects the player who plays it, and while we’ve been getting more resource acceleration that can target other players, there’s still not a ton of it. Send for Aid helps the whole team, which is good because this game is cooperative, right (please ignore above review)? And not only are you accelerating resources, but you’re improving card draw through Send for Aid’s fetch effect.
And that’s not all! Send for Aid also bolsters the ability of mono-leadership decks to get off-sphere allies into play. Between Herald of Anorien, A Very Good Tale, and Send for Aid (and the more temporary Sneak Attack and Reinforcements), it’s very reasonable to throw in some off-sphere allies and expect to get them into play. Warden of Healing (the one I typically include), Arwen, Master of the Forge, and Gleowine are all two cost allies that shore up some of leadership’s weaknesses and can be played reliably in a mono-leadership deck. It wasn’t enough for leadership to be the best-rounded sphere, they needed access to the other spheres too!
So Send for Aide is an awesome card, but how awesome is it? Throwing one copy into your leadership deck and hoping it shows up is good, but in leadership we can do even better. Three copies of Dunedain Message and one Gather Information and you could almost guarantee that you’ll see it. But that’s a lot of deck space for a one time effect that takes away a whole round of questing. In a four player game, it would be interesting for someone to try this strategy and see how much an early Send for Aid helps the team. Otherwise, I just can’t see wanting to devote that much deck space to this effect.
In conclusion, in four players, if you can afford to spare the round of questing, this card is the bomb. In solo, when you have better control over pace and one ally can make a big difference, this card could be really helpful. Otherwise it’s like the rest of the side quests: powerful, a nice include, but not incredibly reliable.
Glowwyrm’s Rating: Intriguing. I’ve thrown it in decks but have yet to pull it off.
Ian’s Thoughts: I’m going to sound like a broken record when talking about every side quest, but they all have very strong abilities that I’d love to use, but their inclusion in your deck greatly depends on the quest you are facing. I want to stress that this does not make them bad cards, as I’ve repeatedly asserted that a card being quest-specific is not a slight in my book. When facing the right quest that gives you time to do side quests, Send For Aid is a great choice. Putting an ally into play is already good, but searching the top 10 cards is what really makes this side quest worth it in my opinion, as this allows almost every deck to hit something at least, and can help to shore up your board position if you’re struggling to find bodies. More than the cost of 1, it’s the 6 quest points that give me pause, as this makes it harder to clear in a single turn than the 4 quest point side quests. I’d give it a 3 for versatility, 3 for efficiency, and 3 for uniqueness.
Readers, what are your thoughts? Which events are hits? Which are duds? What are your favorite uses and stories so far?