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The Battle of Carn Dum: Allies Review

by on January 6, 2016

 

battleofcarndum

Glowwyrm here again good readers, to take a look at the allies of Carn Dum.  The allies in recent packs have been awesome, and the unique allies spoiled in the next cycle look powerful.  Will the allies in this pack live up to the heights of the previous and upcoming packs, or will they be a low point between mountains of glory?  Read on to find out!

 

ALLIES

Lindir (Spirit Ally, 3 cost, 2 willpower, 1 attack, 2 defense, 2 hit points):

 

Lindir

Warning!  Mild spoiler Alert!  If you’re someone who likes to be surprised when they open new packs, skip on down to the last two paragraphs of the Lindir review.  A just released hero (got my pack this weekend! Merry Christmas to me!) features prominently in the first section of this review.  Should you not have your copy of The Dread Realm yet, you might want to skip down to the last two paragraphs of this review.  On the other hand, if you soak up your spoilers like a stinky kitchen sponge (or you have your pack already), then read on!

Lindir is a unique Spirit ally, cost 3 (grrr) 2 willpower, 1 attack, 2 defense and 2 hit points.  His text reads:

Response: After Lindir enters play, if you have less than three cards in your hand, draw until you have three cards in your hand.

Spirit has a lot of two willpower allies that only cost two resources, so a three cost, two willpower ally really needs to do something special to earn a spot on the table.  But Lindir just isn’t that special.  One attack isn’t adding anything, two defense is pretty useless, and while two hit-points are nice, I’m not sure they’re worth the extra resource.  The extra stats aren’t adding much, so his ability better justify the cost.

But it doesn’t.  Card draw in Spirit is always nice: it shores up the sphere’s biggest weakness.  However, Lindir’s ability is too conditional to be good.  To draw any cards when you play Lindir, you have to have fewer than three cards in your hand, which presents a problem for multiple reasons.  First, Lindir isn’t going to help you for your first couple of turns as you start with seven cards in your hand: it takes a while to play and discard them.  Second, because you’re playing Spirit you’ll have some events that you want to hang onto (hi Test of Will), which makes Lindir’s card draw less effective (or even non-existent).  Third, Lindir’s card draw comes in the planning phase, which means you either have to play a ton of cards to activate his card draw, or you have to play/discard down the turn before you play him so that you can play him the next turn.  And yes, you can cheat Lindir into play and activate his card draw in any phase (because his text says enters play and not when you play him from hand), but if you’re Sneak Attacking Lindir into play over Gandalf, you need to take a long look in the mirror.  Because Lindir’s card draw comes in the planning phase, he’s a particularly bad fit for Erestor decks.  Drawing four cards every turn means that you’re going to have to play at least two before you get to play Lindir.  And yet….Lindir costs three resources, so playing two cards before you play Lindir means that you’re not going to have enough to play him, at least not until you have your resource engine up and running.  To sum it up: Lindir’s card draw is not reliable enough to be worth the extra resource it costs.

So is it safe to pull out the old binder and tuck Lindir snuggly and permanently into his slot?  Not so fast my friend.

Lindir’s stock jumped when Arwen Undomiel was released.  Suddenly, he makes a ton of sense.  Arwen allows you to discard a card to gain a resource once per round, which makes Lindir downright playable.  Imagine this scenario: you have four cards in hand (one of them being Lindir), and two Spirit resources available.  Using Arwen’s ability, you can trash a card you don’t need to gain a third Spirit resource, play Lindir and draw a card.  Not bad.  Not great, but not bad.  Two willpower, two hit points, and swapping a card you don’t need for a new card is a solid play.  It’s not too difficult to imagine a scenario in which you can maximize Lindir’s effectiveness: you start your turn with two cards in hand, trash a card, play Lindir and draw three.  That’s a great value.  And, with the addition of new Noldor cards, Lindir’s value increases even more.  You can boost all of his stats, making his attack and defense worthwhile, and you can add use him as a solid target for Tale of Tinuviel.  Arwen moves Lindir from the binder to the table.

There’s one other deck that I’ve used Lindir in: a Santa led Rohan deck.  With Spirit Theoden leading a deck, it’s easy to play all your Rohan allies quickly.  However, it’s also easy to run out of allies to play.  Because Rohan decks tend to be rich in resources but low in card draw, Lindir provides a solid option in mid to late game situations.  He’s probably not going to be spectacular, but even netting you a card or two can be worthwhile.

In short, Lindir isn’t a game changing ally, or even a very good one.  However he has a place in the right deck, and has potential to become even better as the Noldor trait receives more love in the upcoming cycle.

Versatility: ♦♦♦◊◊

Efficiency: ♦♦◊◊◊

Uniqueness: ♦♦♦♦◊

Glowwyrm’s Rating: Intriguing: I’ve thrown him in some decks to see how it goes.

Ian’s thoughts: Lindir definitely falls within the Noldor deck realm. As that deck develops, and there are more options for discarding cards, including during planning, then Lindir’s stock rises. Outside of that archetype, Lindir’s stock falls, as Spirit has so many good allies to choose from, most of whom are cheaper. One point in Lindir’s favor is that he gives some card draw to Spirit, which is a valuable addition that Noldor is providing to the sphere. I’d give Lindir a 2 for versatility, 3 for efficiency, and 4 for uniqueness. 

Beechbone (Tactics Ally, 3 cost, 2 willpower, 2 attack, 1 defense, 4 hit points):

Beechbone

Warning!  Bold statement incoming.  Are you ready for it?  Maybe you need to sit down for this.

Beechbone is the worst Ent ally.

Whew!  I told you it was gonna be bold.  Before you go down to the comment section and call me a ninny, allow me to justify my insanity.

Beechbone is a tactics ally.  He costs three, has two willpower, two attack, one defense and four hitpoints.  Like the other Ents, he cannot have restricted attachments and enters play exhausted.  His text reads:

Response: After Beechbone is declared as an attacker, deal one damage to him to deal x damage to the defending enemy, where x is the amount of damage on Beechbone.

Here’s why I think Beechbone is the worst Ent ally: he’s too slow to set up (which is saying a lot for an Ent), he is usually unnecessary by the time he’s set up, he costs too much, and he’s not as good at what he does compared to the other Ents, and he needs to be in an Ent deck to be effective.  Let’s take each of these criticisms in turn:

  1. He’s too slow to set up: Granted, this can be said of a lot of Ents, but the problem is especially acute in Beechbone’s case.  He costs three resources, so you’re probably not playing him on turn one, so he’s not going to be on the table until turn two or three.  Then he spends a turn exhausted once you play him  Finally, on turn four or five you’re attacking with him for…….two.  Oh sure, you get to deal a direct damage to him and one to the attacking enemy, but you’re only going to put that one damage on the enemy because two attack ain’t cutting it these days.  It’s only by turn six or seven that you’re dealing enough direct damage to actually kill an enemy…and by then the game is probably decided.  There are ways to put damage on him faster (so that his ability ramps up more quickly) such as defending an attack with him or putting direct damage from the encounter deck on him, but neither of these options are ideal.  Defending with Beechbone is less than ideal, since you may take more damage than you want to (or even lose him).  Putting direct damage on him is a solid option, but if the encounter deck is dealing out lots of direct damage, then the Booming Ent is a better ally to run.
  2. He’s usually unnecessary: Ent decks have a lot of firepower. Treebeard brings 4 to the table as does Skinbark.  Quickbeam chips in 3 (for two resources! He’s the best), and every other Ent (except Derndingle Warrior) has two attack.  What, exactly, is Beechbone bringing to the table?  As mentioned in the bullet point above, Beechbone requires some setup to be effective.  By the time he’s set up, I have often found his attack to be unnecessary.  Treebeard and Skinbark can handle a lot of enemies all by themselves, and the Booming Ents are easy enough to boost that they can overwhelm foes all by their lonesome.  Beechbone is like the guy who shows up to the Super Bowl party with pizza after everyone’s already downed the wings.  Does the pizza sound good?  Sure, but I just stuffed myself on wings and don’t need the extra junk.  Ok, maybe one slice wouldn’t hurt…
  3. He costs too much: This is a real killer for him. If you’re choosing between three cost Ents, who do you pick?  Skinbark, who attacks for four and can deal four direct damage to orcs without any extra shenanigans?  Wellinghall Custodian, who quests for three and heals a damage off an Ent every round?  Or Beechbone, who quests for two, deals direct damage only with a lot of extra work, and takes time to set up?  Sean on CotR frequently says how much more three cost is than two, and I completely agree with him.  If you can only slot a few three cost Ents into your deck, which ones are you going to choose?
  4. He needs to be in an Ent deck: Moreso than any other Ent ally, you need an Ent deck to make Beechbone good. That’s because there are two Lore cards that are needed to make him effective: Ent Draught and Wellinghall Preserver.  With six hit points and the ability to heal a damage every turn (so that you can use his ability again next turn), Beechbone can deal a lot of direct damage every turn.  All the aforementioned caveats apply (takes awhile to setup, ).  But here’s the thing about Beechbone: every other Ent ally can be dropped into any deck and be good.  Skinbark is 4 attack for 3 resources which is a good deal.  Derndingle is a great defender for a couple attacks, even if you can’t heal him.  Wellinghall Preserver is an excellent quester. Booming Ent is easy to boost a little, and two attack and three hit points for two resources is a good deal.   Treebeard is one of the best allies in the game. Same for Quickbeam.  And even Wandering Ent can be thrown into a Lore deck because Lore allies tend to be bad.   But while Beechbone has some natural synergies with an Ent deck, he needs those synergies.  I suppose if you’re running Lore-Tactics without playing Ents (why?), you could add some healing and make Beechbone ok…but he needs the support to be worthwhile.  The other Ents are just good as is.

I rest my case.  You may now call me a ninny if you completely disagree with me.

But before you think I hate Beechbone, allow me to qualify my earlier statement: Beechbone is the worst Ent ally, but he is also the most entertaining one.  If you want to invest the cards, resources, and game rounds into making Beechbone a destroyer of worlds, you can do it!  The first obvious combo is to throw an Ent Draught on him, but that is thinking too small.  To up our destruction game, we need to put a Sword Thain on Beechbone and make him a hero.  Then, pile on a Ring of Barahir, Sword that was Broken, Thror’s Map, Thror’s Key, Black Arrow, and Palantir on him.  Between these artifacts, an Ent Draught and Beechbone’s hit points, you now have a hero with 12 hit points!  Add a Son of Mocking and you can put damage on him in a hurry, or you could take an undefended troll attack.  He’s a hero now, after all.  You could deal 11 direct damage every turn!  That’s enough damage to down all but 20 enemies in the game (not factoring in immunity to player card effects).  Now that is what I call fun. Is that an insane amount of card space and resources to invest in a card combo? You bet!  But this is about fun, not efficiency.

In short, even as the worst Ent ally, Beechbone is a good card.  There’s a lot of natural synergy for him in an Ent deck, and his ability opens up some fun combo possibilities.  And even the worst Ent is better than most other allies.  But if you’re looking for that perfect Ent ally that will allow you to dominate, you should look elsewhere.

Versatility: ♦♦♦◊◊

Efficiency: ♦♦◊◊◊

Uniqueness: ♦♦♦♦◊

Glowwyrm’s Rating: Interesting.  I’ve had a lot of fun with his ability.

Ian’s Thoughts: I definitely understand Glowwyrm’s perspective and wouldn’t necessarily disagree with his bold assertion. However, I will add some points in Beechbone’s favor. First, he is one of the few Tactics allies with 2 willpower, and that much willpower comes relatively cheap for 3 resources in the sphere. Granted, you don’t usually need your Tactics allies to quest, but there are decks/situations where this kind of option is nice. Second, he provides a nice quest-specific solution to certain problems, such as enemies that cancel/lower sources of damage, and having this kind of direct damage helps you to provide multiple sources. For that reason, he may be the weakest of the Ents, but he actually fits in well to non-Ent decks given certain conditions. I’d give him 3 for versatility, 3 for efficiency, and 3 for uniqueness.

Guardian of Arnor (Leadership Ally, 3 cost, 1 willpower, 1 attack, 1 defense, 3 hit points):

Guardian-of-Arnor

 

Warning!  This guy will help the Dunedain Deck be good!  (ok, I’m stretching a bit here on the warning gimmick).

Confession time: I spent a lot of time after The Lost Realm released trying to make a solo Dunedain deck.  It was an exercise in futility and not something I would recommend to anyone else (though, from reading the forums, I know I wasn’t alone in this endeavor).  The conundrum of the Dunedain deck was this: to get the most out of your Dunedain cards, you need to have a bunch of enemies engaged with you.  However, having a bunch of enemies engaged with you is bad because those enemies will keep attacking you.  While Forest Snare can help, it’s hard to rely on a three cost attachment that you need to draw (though some people have built solid Dunedain trap decks).  Additionally, to really make the Dunedain deck hum, you need three or more enemies engaged with you, or more enemies than you will be able to effectively trap.  What you really need are a lot of solid defenders, who will allow you to tank all those enemies every turn.  Lo and behold, the solution to our conundrum arrives!

The Guardian of Arnor is a Leadership ally that costs three.  He has one willpower, one attack, one defense and three hitpoints.  He has the Dunedain and Ranger trait, and the Sentinel keyword.   His text reads:

Guardian of Arnor gets plus one defense for each enemy engaged with you.

For a Dunedain deck this guy is perfect.  He costs three, which stinks, but that seems to be the standard Dunedain cost.  He’s in leadership, which is great because you want to run Amarthiul, Halbarad, or both in your Dunedain deck.  And his defense goes up as your engaged enemy count goes up.  By the time you have three enemies engaged with you, you can use Heir of Valandil to play him for free and he’ll defend an attack for four!  That’s Beregond level defense.  His three hit points are nice, they offer some insurance against nasty shadow cards.  And he has sentinel, if for some crazy reason a deck besides yours engages an enemy.   Because his defense scales with the number of enemies you have engaged with you, it’s not hard to imagine him getting up to five or six defense in a high player count game.  He also opens up some synergy with other Dunedain and Ranger cards.  You can ready him with Descendants of Kings, you can exhaust him to trigger Distant Stars and Expert Trackers, and you can even put a Weather Stained Cloak on him (why you would do that, I’m not sure).  The Guardian of Arnor is a perfect fit for Dunedain decks in every way.

Does he make a Dunedain solo deck work?  Not by himself, but he sure helps. Some of the other Dunedain solo problems persist: starting with a high threat, needing a bunch of cards to set up your combos, needing enemies to come off the encounter deck, etc.  People on the FFG forums have some successful builds (shout out to Seastan), but I’ve been too busy with Noldor decks to see if this is true for myself.  Still, his effectiveness is tied to the number of enemies engaged with you.  Good for solo, sure, but better for multi-player.

Is he worth playing outside of a Dunedain deck?  Probably not.  Three hit points and sentinel are nice on a defender, and he’d be defending for at least two if you have an enemy engaged with you, but for three cost I’d rather play a Warden of Helm’s Deep.   Or not a three cost ally.  I’m really down on three cost allies today.

Warning!  I think I’ve finally run out of things to say!

Versatility: ♦♦◊◊◊

Efficiency: ♦♦♦◊◊

Uniqueness: ♦♦♦♦◊

Glowwyrm’s Rating: Interesting.  I’ll finally make a functional Dunedain deck.

Ian’s Thoughts: In some ways, I feel like the Guardian slipped under the radar a bit, as the Noldor stuff began to hog the spotlight as the cycle went on. However, he definitely was a needed piece for Dunedain decks for the reasons Glowwyrm mentioned. If things go right, you can dump a few of these into play for cheap and cover some defensive ground without having to necessarily resort to readying a hero. On the other hand, if this guy is going to be a lynchpin of your Dunedain strategy, then you’ll need to be able to draw multiple copies consistently. This is why Lore seems so essential to me for the Dunedain, not just for traps but for card draw as well. I’d give the Guardian a 2 for versatility, 3 for efficiency, and 4 for uniqueness. We’re agreed!

Conclusion

That wraps up the long awaited Carn Dum allies review!  It’s been awhile since the pack released.  Have any of these allies made it into your decks?  Have your opinions changed since you first saw them?  Let me know in the comments below, and thanks for reading!

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4 Comments
  1. ecthelionthethird permalink

    It’s unfair to compare Beechbone to Booming Ent because they make such a good combination together, and while it’s better to include Booming Ent if you’re only picking one of the two, Beechbone just makes Boomer better.

    • kwitee permalink

      I like Beechbone from another reason, he has 2 willpower. There are not a lot of tactics allies with willpower and 2 for the cost of 3 is a great deal (although slow). I am looking foward to put this guy in my mono tactics deck.

  2. Using Faramir hero, he can ready Beechbone when it is played. Beside this, you can’t have so much fun as stated with Beechbone, as it can’t receive any attachments, so it can’t be made a hero with Sword-Thain…

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