Skip to content

The Battle of Carn Dum: Events Review

by on February 12, 2016

 

battleofcarndum

We’re doing these a bit out of order but I don’t think anyone will be inconvenienced too greatly. Here’s Glowwyrm with another round of player card reviews. Enjoy!  -Ian

It’s only appropriate to begin this review with a moment of silence for the player side quests, because it’s very possible we’ve seen the last of them.  There are none in either of the last packs, and it seems unlikely that the mechanic will get too much support in the future.  So adios, player side quests!  You were powerful but situational, and you’ll continue to hold a unique place in the card pool.  While there are no side quests to review this time out, there are three events who continue on in the spirit of the side quest: they have powerful effects with questionable utility.  Will any of these events make it into a deck?  Read on to find out!

EVENTS

Doom Hangs Still (Leadership Event, 5 cost):

Doom-Hangs-Still

Doom Hangs Still is my favorite event in this pack.  It is fraught with both possibility and problems, but its power is undeniable.  For one round, you can effectively shut down the encounter deck.  Now that is the bomb!  However, it’s going to cost you quite a bit.  Doom Hangs Still is a five cost leadership event.  Its text contains two actions:

Planning Action: Until the end of the round, players do not raise their threat from questing unsuccessfully.
Valour Planning Action:  Raise each player’s threat by 2 to skip the quest phase this round.

First, let’s differentiate the card a bit from its closest card comparison: Ever Onward.  Ever Onward is a three cost leadership event with a response that allows one player to not raise their threat as a result of questing unsuccessfully.  Sounds pretty similar to Doom Hangs Still, right?  It’s generally regarded as a bad card because three cost is a lot, preventing only one player from raising their threat isn’t that helpful, and if you’re failing the quest, there are more important things to spend three resources on (though I recommend you read the Spotlight Slapdash that uses it to beat one of the toughest quests in the game).  If Ever Onward is not good, why create a different version of it that costs more?  A couple of distinctions make Doom Hangs Still better.  First, though it costs more, it also affects more players: instead of one player avoiding a threat raise everyone on the team gets to coast through.  Second, it’s a planning action instead of a response.  As a group, before the quest phase even begins, the players can decide that combat is more important than questing so they can hold everyone back for a round.  Third, and here’s where the card shows its quality, you can skip the quest phase entirely for one round.  It’s costly, and it’s conditional, but let’s imagine for a second how that might play out:

You’ve been battling through Deadman’s Dike and you’re on Stage Two.  You’ve placed the necessary progress on the quest card, but you haven’t put enough damage on Thaurdir yet.  He gets a free attack every time a sorcery card is revealed from the deck, and there’s the danger that a Cursed Dead will come off of the encounter deck and bring all of his undead buddies with him.  While you don’t need quest progress, there’s a real chance that the punishing encounter deck could prevent you from winning.  During planning, you (the Leadership-Tactics combat guy) count up your resources, check your threat and say “Hey, would anyone mind raising their threat by two so we can just kick the butts of the enemies in front of us?”  The players around the table look confused, not understanding what you were saying.  You drop all pretense of abiding by the table talk rule and show them Doom Hangs Still.  Everyone cheers and happily raises their threat by two.  You play your card, no new encounter cards come off the deck, you sweat out the attacks of the undead already on the table, and then unleash a beat down for the ages.  You win and there are high fives all around, as your teammates congratulate you on saving the day.

That is the best case scenario for Doom Hangs Still: game in the balance, enemies to defeat but no quest progress to place, threat high enough for valour mode and resources to spare.  Doom Hangs Still could be the difference between winning and losing in that scenario.  Or, you could try the following scenario.

You’re near the end Deadman’s Dike, and it’s been tense.  Thaurdir and his minions have swarmed the table, but you’re a few progress points on the quest and a few damage tokens on Thaurdir away from victory.  You drew Doom Hangs Still at the beginning of the game, which was unfortunate, but now seems like the time to play it.  You finally have enough resources and threat above forty so that you can play it and get the big effect out of it.  You say “Hey, would anyone mind raising their threat by two so we can just kick the butts of the enemies in front of us?”  The players around the table look confused, not understanding what you were saying.  You drop all pretense of abiding by the table talk rule and show them Doom Hangs Still.

“Why would we want to do that?” the Spirit player says.  “We still need progress on the quest.  If we skip the quest phase, we can’t win.”

“Ah,” you reply, “but we could deal with the enemies and put the damage on Thaurdir this round, then quest to victory the next round.”

“But,” interjects Gandalf guy, “we could get enough quest points this turn AND defeat Thaurdir during the combat phase, all while not raising our threat by two.  Besides, don’t you have an ally Faramir you could play for those resources?  He’d really help.”

“Um, he got cut from the deck so I could put this card in,” you reply sheepishly.

The other players throw up their hands in frustration.  They’re so angry with you that they forget to be mad when Gandalf guy’s planning takes ten minutes.  Fortunately, you quest successfully anyway and defeat Thaurdir to win the scenario.  You even get to land the final blow that wins the game.  All is forgiven, and you tuck Doom Hangs Still back into the binder.

So which scenario is more likely to happen?  While I dream about the coolness of scenario one, I can see scenario two happening a lot more often.   There are just too many moving pieces for Doom Hangs Still to be used effectively and frequently.  Though it seems to be a niche card that won’t see much play, I can think of a few reasons to throw it in a deck:

  1. It’s better in multiplayer: In a solo game, you’re paying five resources and two threat to skip one or two encounter cards.  In a four player game, you’re paying five resources and two threat to skip four to even eight encounter cards.  In solo (and even two player) this is not a very good use of your card space, resources and threat.  In three and four player games, that could be game saving.  What’s even better is that in multiplayer decks, you have more deck space for cards like Doom Hangs Still.  A solo deck needs to be a finely tuned racecar with every card making the deck hum smoothly.  A multiplayer deck can be a tricked out show car, with spoilers, surround sound and a cool paint job, because you don’t have to do the lifting all by yourself.  If you have an opportunity to play this card, awesome, and if you don’t, a couple of deck spaces won’t kill you.  In this way, it reminds me of Gildor’s Council, a card I will throw in with Lore multi-player decks.  It doesn’t always get played, but it’s great when it does.
  1. There are plenty of quests that require you to defeat an enemy to win: One of the big knocks on Doom Hangs Still is that you need to quest to win. Skipping a round of questing to focus on combat is usually not worth it.  However, we’re at a point in the game’s life when there are several quests in which you can skip questing, defeat the final boss, and win (though some of these also need you to finish a quest and defeat a boss, which this can still help with).  These quests include: Druadan Forest, Antlered Crown, Knife in the Dark, Nin-in-Eilph, Deadman’s Dike, Wastes of Eriador, Battle of Carn Dum, and I’m sure some more I’m not thinking of at the moment.  Notice that this card’s utility is mostly on recent and difficult quests, another point in its favor.
  1. It will always be memorable: you won’t always play Doom Hangs Still, but when you do, it will be epic.

In conclusion, it’s not the best card but it’s my favorite kind of card.  It’s powerful, but to get the most out of it will require some work.  It shouldn’t go in every deck, and probably shouldn’t be played with less than three players, but when you pull it off it will be memorable.

Versatility: ♦♦◊◊◊

Efficiency: ♦◊◊◊◊

Uniqueness: ♦♦♦♦◊

Glowwyrm’s Rating: Fascinating.  Whenever the next content drought comes for this game, I am going to build a deck centered on using this card.

Ian’s thoughts: This one reminds me a lot of Light the Beacons, in terms of being a big 5-cost event card with a momentous, potentially game-winning effect. And like Light the Beacons, while it can win you a game, it will often remain unplayed much of the time. Doom Hangs Still strikes me as the kind of card that I will spend much more time thinking about and talking about than actually playing. This is not to say that it should never be included. It’s main problems are the high cost, and the opportunity cost you suffer by leaving out something else in your deck. You also need to have some stars line up right. On the other hand, this could be one of those “puzzle cards” that help you unlock the unique challenges of a certain scenario. It also will wow yourself and your friends more than most other cards in the game. How much that kind of thing is worth to you will determine how often you include this event. I would give Doom Hangs Still a 2 for versatility, a 2 for efficiency, and a 4 for uniqueness.

Lords of the Eldar (Spirit Event, 3 cost):

Lords-of-the-Eldar

 

Events that globally boost traits are rare in this game (and they don’t seem to get much play).  Astonishing Speed, For Gondor! Untroubled by Darkness, all give a global boost to Rohan, Gondor and Dwarves, respectively, but (unless I’m really building for theme), they don’t make my decks very often.  I don’t think I’m an odd exception in this either, as most deck lists that I read online don’t include them either.  Well, the Noldor trait now has a global boosting event in the form of Lords of the Eldar.  Will it see more table time than its seldom used cousins?

Lords of the Eldar is a cost 3 Spirit event.  Its text reads:

Lords of the Eldar can only be played from your discard pile. 

Action: Place Lords of the Eldar on the bottom of your deck from your discard pile.  Then, until the end of the round all Noldor characters get +1 Willpower, +1 Attack, and +1 Defense.

Before the cost scares you away and causes you to plunk this one firmly in the binder, allow me to make a case for including this in a Noldor deck.  First, Lords of the Eldar boosts all traits until the end of the round.  This boost is a significant because every single Noldor that takes an action will get to make use of the boost, whether they’re questing, fighting, or both!  Second, Noldor have a lot of action advantage, whether it’s through attachments or built in readying, so you can probably use the stat boost more than once per character.  While the first use that comes to mind is boosting Spirit Glorfindel while he has Light of Valinor attached, there are lots of fun possibilities here.  Elladan and Elrohir could make good use of the event, boosting their attack and defense for a big round of combat.  Elrond (who often gets an Unexpected Courage attached to him) could take a break from using Vilya to quest and defend for four.  The new Glorfindel ally has built in readying, and this would allow him to quest and attack for four, just like his hero counterpart.  My favorite possibility is boosting a Trollshaw Scout, who could chip in three attack against every enemy on the table, as long as you have the cards to discard.  So, not only are you getting use of boosted stats for everyone for a full turn, you can also get multiple uses per character.  A third point in its favor is that it has to be played from the discard pile.  While this restriction might seem like a disadvantage, in a Noldor deck this is a great advantage especially if you’re playing Erestor.  While many decks have no natural way to put cards in the discard pile, a healthy Noldor deck should constantly be chucking cards (and in the case of Erestor, you’ll have to).  In this case, Lords of the Noldor allows you to discard it for a benefit and then play it from your discard pile whenever you need it.  Fourth, Noldor heroes are among the most popular in the game, so including this in your Noldor deck means that, without too much coordination, you will probably help someone else out in a multiplayer game.  And finally, there’s room to include this event in a Noldor deck.  While this card might end up on the cutting floor in other decks, in a Noldor deck the idea of deck space means something different.  You can build well beyond the 50 card minimum and still field a reliable deck.  So the question is, why not throw this in your Spirit Noldor deck?

The card does have some downsides.  First, the three cost is significant, though Arwen makes this less of a problem than it might be otherwise.  Still, you’re probably not going to play it until mid to late game, when boosting all your Noldor by one might not be a big deal.  Second, lots of Noldor characters don’t need a stat boost because you’re exhausting them for some awesome ability they have. Third, there just aren’t that many Noldor characters yet.  Global boosts in other traits can be game changers (Dwarves especially) because there are lots of allies that can be put into play.  The Grey Havens and the Dream Chaser cycle might change this, but the Noldor just aren’t there yet.  If the glass half full argument for the card is “Noldor decks are huge anyway why not include it,” the glass half empty argument is “will you ever get enough bang for your buck to justify it.”

Finally, let’s not overlook the fun and novelty factor.  Playing a card from your discard pile isn’t something you get to do every day (unless you are a big time Caldara fan), let alone having a card that can only be played from your discard pile.  It’s exciting to fish through your discard pile, play it on the table, trigger a big boost to everyone, and then slip this back under your deck.  This event, like the rest of the Noldor archetype, feels different and fresh.  So even if you aren’t that thrilled by it, you should give it a try just for the newness of it.

Versatility: ♦♦♦♦◊

Efficiency: ♦♦♦◊◊

Uniqueness: ♦♦♦♦◊

Glowwyrm’s Rating: Interesting.  When I play my Noldor deck, I look for opportunities to play this card.

Ian’s Thoughts: I’ll start off by saying that I think Lords of the Eldar is a solid card with a place in Noldor decks. That being said, so far I haven’t found myself actually making use of it that often, even when it is included in my Noldor decks. Usually, this is because I have enough stats to go around already (Noldor characters, especially heroes, tend to be a bit stacked in terms of stats), or I just need those resources for something else. The 3 cost is certainly a deterrent. Still, what this card has in spades is flexibility. By boosting all stats for all Noldor, rather than just one, you are guaranteed to get exactly what you need. Also, the fact that this effect lasts until the end of the round, rather than end of the phase, is huge in order to maximize the bonus to all stats. This event will certainly just get better as the Noldor deck gets fleshed out, so this ultimately ends up a winner for me. I’d give it a 2 for versatility, 3 for efficiency, and 4 for uniqueness.

Quick Ears (Lore Event, 1 cost):

Quick-Ears

 

And now the bummer of the review.  I really like the first two cards, and though they aren’t the best events ever, I’ve put both of them to good use in games.  I generally think that every card in this game has a good use, and that if you look hard enough, or find the right scenario, you’ll find the right use of the card.  Quick Ears is here to test this belief, as I’m having a hard time finding a use for this card.  Let’s take a look at the card and see if it should ever be included in a deck:

Response: Exhaust a Dunedain or Ranger hero to cancel an enemy card just revealed from the encounter deck.  Then, shuffle it back into the encounter deck and reveal an additional encounter card.

Let’s consider the value that Quick Ears could have.  Cancellation is always powerful, especially when you can cancel keywords, when revealed effects, and the card itself.  In fact, Quick Ears resembles one of my favorite cards in the game: Black Riders Frodo.  His ability lets you pay a resource and exhaust the ring to cancel all the effects of an encounter card, but you have to shuffle the canceled card back in and reveal another one.  Black Riders Frodo is so powerful that I’ve run many campaigns without Spirit because he fills my need for cancellation.  If Quick Ears can approach even a fraction of that power, it should be worth including occasionally, right?

Wrong.  Or, mostly wrong at least.  The problems with Quick Ears are threefold: it costs too much (not the resource but exhausting a hero), it’s effect is too weak (you’re still replacing the encounter card), and this is not how a Dunedain deck wants to deal with enemies.  Let’s tackle each of these issues one at a time.

The cost is too much: your ranger’s actions are precious, especially in a Dunedain deck.  You need your rangers ready to defend against all of the enemies you want to engage.  You will also need to exhaust them for their abilities (like Beravor) or to quest and defend (Halbarad) or attack and defend, etc.  When the game is tight, using one of their actions to cancel an enemy card and then reveal another one is a waste.  If the game’s not tight and you’ve already filled the table with allies, the cost isn’t too much but the event feels unnecessary.  (Quick side note: exhausting a hero wouldn’t feel like such a steep cost if you could combo this with Wingfoot.  In that case you could quest with a ranger, ready them with Wingfoot, exhaust the ranger to use Quick Ears and cancel the enemy.  However, Caleb has ruled that this combo does not work, because it creates a paradox and destroys the space-time continuum, which is bad)

Its effect is too weak: canceling an enemy only to replace it with another encounter card (and possibly the same card) is risky.  For one, an enemy hitting the table isn’t the worst thing in the world.  In fact, if your fellowship isn’t prepared for an enemy or two every turn, you’re in trouble.  For two, you won’t always be happy with the new encounter card you reveal.  If you’re replacing the enemy with a location, it’s a trade you’ll make (unless you’re facing location lock), but I’d usually rather see an enemy than a treachery.  And you might just get an enemy again.  Oh, you could make an argument that canceling an enemy with surge or with a nasty when revealed effect is worthwhile, but you’re still taking your chances with the encounter deck.  Probably the best case for using this card is when there’s a few copies of a really nasty enemy in the encounter deck (Mumak, Grima, Grishnak), so that canceling them and risking a new encounter card is better than dealing with them.  But those are rare cases, and combat decks have better tricks than Quick Ears for dealing with them.

Its a bad fit for Dundain decks:  Here’s what really puzzles me about this card: when you’re playing a Dunedain deck, you want enemies to come off of the encounter deck.  You need enemies to be engaged with you, so that you can trigger as many bonuses as possible.  Why in the world do you want to exhaust a hero to cancel a card that you want to see? Beats me.  It’s a better fit for a Lore shenanigan deck that happens to include a ranger (like Beravor or Aragorn) than it is for a Dunedain deck, and even in that case Lore has better tricks for dealing with enemies (Ranger Spikes) or messing with the encounter deck (The Door is Closed, Gildor’s Council).

So, should you ever play Quick Ears?  Maybe if you are listening for the thundering of a Mumak.  Otherwise, I can’t imagine using this.  Hey, they can’t all be The Door is Closed.

Versatility: ♦◊◊◊◊

Efficiency: ♦◊◊◊◊

Uniqueness: ♦♦♦◊◊

Glowwyrm’s Rating: Binder fodder.

Ian’s Thoughts: Quick Ears is actually my favorite event in the pack. It’s not necessarily the most powerful, but I love encounter deck manipulation. This might explain why I’m more positive about this card than Glowwyrm. I do agree that it is not the best fit for Dunedain engagement decks. It seems a much better fit for Lore manipulation decks, and fortunately Lore has a few rangers and/or Dunedain to choose from. The cost of exhausting a hero is certainly steep. However, Quick Ears can really bail you out of some messes, as there are generally a couple of enemies in each encounter deck that are beefier and more troublesome than the rest. Being able to avoid one could be the difference between life and death. Enemies these days often have really annoying “when revealed” effects as well. I would gladly exhaust a hero to cancel a Cursed Dead or even an Angmar Orc, for example. Of course, it is true that you run the risk of drawing something worse or even the same card, but sometimes the risk is worth it. Quick Ears also helps scrying/manipulation decks survive. One of the knocks against these decks is that they might see something coming, like say a nasty enemy, but can’t do anything about it. Quick Ears gives an option in this regard. Is this a new staple that is going in every deck? No. But it definitely has a place in certain deck types and it’s ability to cancel everything on the enemy card is what makes it really sing. As a final note, this one is probably better with lower player counts. I’d give it a 2 for versatility, 3 for efficiency, and 4 for uniqueness.

 

 

So, what do you think readers?  Have you put any of these events to good use?  Should you ever play Quick Ears?

Advertisements

From → Reviews

6 Comments
  1. Those potential scenarios for Doom Hangs Still were great – very clever writing.

    As for Quick Ears, I’m with Ian on this one. It’s an emergency valve, and despite the trait, it really shouldn’t go in a straight Dunedain deck IMHO. But then again, I play mostly solo, so that might have a lot to do with my opinion!

    • Thaddeus permalink

      I can kinda see using Quick Ears in a lore deck with Berevor where I wasn’t planning on using her for questing or combat (but then the cost is coming in the form of not getting to draw extra cards), but I feel like there are better deck manipulation effects out there.

  2. Thaddeus permalink

    I’d really be needing to play a Spirit Noldor deck before I’d ever consider including Lords of the Eldar. Three cost just seems so steep for Spirit.

  3. ChasmosaurusChris permalink

    Quick ears is sort of similar to distant stars, and I like that card a lot. Still it’s not as good for several reasons. However I can still see it saving the day in some quests. As stated there are always those enemies with horrid when revealed effects. Even chucking something like a hill troll back in the deck could be worth it.

    Liking Doom hangs still. There’s a big Gondor theme going on with these valour cards. Wouldn’t be surprised to see a marriage of that trait and ability in the future.

  4. Steven A permalink

    “3. It will always be memorable: you won’t always play Doom Hangs Still, but when you do, it will be epic.”
    Or, to put it another way, http://memegenerator.net/instance2/4284817

  5. Silver Swan permalink

    Quick Ears works well with Idraen. Idraen is at her best in Spirit/Lore location management decks, which can find enemies hard to handle. She can ready immediately after committing to the quest if Northern Tracker’s ability explores a location, and when the current location is explored after questing, so the “exhaust a Hero” cost shouldn’t be a problem.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: