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Flight of the Stormcaller: Attachments and Events Review

by on July 1, 2016

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The attachments and events of Flight of the Stormcaller fill a variety of holes in the card pool. There isn’t necessarily a unifying theme beyond some specific support for Leadership Denethor. Everyone’s favorite steward definitely has plenty of toys to play with here. But there is also a smattering of love shown for secrecy, direct damage, shadow cancellation and more. Perhaps most interesting is the brand new card type that includes not only a primary effect but also a secondary effect that can be triggered by the players as a group spending resources of a different sphere. This is a new frontier for the game and one that is most welcome as it encourages cooperation and leads to some interesting decisions in multiplayer, while also providing new deck building possibilities for solo players.

ATTACHMENTS

Rod of the Steward (Leadership Attachment, 0 cost):

Rod-of-the-Steward

Card draw has traditionally not been one of the Leadership sphere’s strengths. King Under the Mountain is great but trait-specific and something like Valiant Sacrifice isn’t quite consistent enough to be a reliable option. Rod of the Steward is an attempt to rectify this situation, and it’s of course fitting that it shows up in the same pack as a new version of Denethor:

Attach to a Gondor hero.

Action: Spend 2 resources from attached hero’s resource pool to draw 1 card.

The first big Mumak in the room to acknowledge is that this is not the most cost-effective way to draw cards. In fact, spending two resources to draw a single card would be seen as a poor exchange rate in most cases and license to summarily dismiss a card as coaster material. However, there are a few aspects of Rod of the Steward that redeem it. First, this particular effect is on an attachment and therefore can be repeated to your heart’s desire, or at least as far as your resources will allow, unlike an event which can be used once and then is gone. This is why a card like Campfire Tales in solo play, which provides one card for one resource — a clearly better deal than Rod of the Steward, is actually strictly worse than the Rod. Campfire Tales is a one-time event, which means you are basically paying one resource to replace Campfire Tales itself. With Rod of the Steward, you can keep paying resources to draw cards throughout the course of the game, meaning that this attachment will go beyond merely replacing itself to actually netting you cards that you wouldn’t have seen otherwise. Of course, this does come at an exorbitant cost, but this brings us to the second redeeming factor of the Rod: its sphere. Leadership not only has the best resource generation of any sphere, allowing it to make the most of this seemingly lopsided deal, it also is a sphere that was in desperate need of a consistent source of card draw, as mentioned earlier.

Obviously, the combination that springs to mind first is pairing Steward of Gondor with Rod of the Steward on the same hero. Then, you can either use the extra two resources to pay for something or you can use them to draw cards if you don’t have great options available. The Rod of the Steward essentially serves as a method then for keeping a healthy balance between resources and cards. It should be mentioned that the Rod does not have a limit on how many times it can be used per round or per phase. In most cases, this won’t matter, as the ability to stockpile resources is itself a limiting factor. However, there are certain broken possibilities in the current card pool, with Gloin decks that can amass a ridiculous number of resources being the primary example. Such a deck could easily draw mountains of cards. While I wish this card had a limit to effectively preclude such an option, overall this deck is fine as it is, and I like that it is a perfectly fitting way to bring card draw into Leadership. I won’t go so far as to say that it is a must-include for every deck that has Leadership, as if you have access to Lore or even Spirit, you probably have a more cost-effective option to use. However, this card will definitely be added to my mono-Leadership decks and Leadership/Tactics builds (the Gondor trait is a requirement, but Steward can grant that trait, as can the next attachment in our review!).

Versatility: ♦♦♦♦◊

Efficiency: ♦♦♦◊◊

Uniqueness: ♦♦♦♦◊

In Service of the Steward (Leadership Attachment, 1 cost):

In-Service-of-the-Steward

In Service of the Steward is pretty much the definition of an unsexy card, but it continues the steward/Denthor theme of the player cards in this pack. In addition, like the simple, no-nonsense songs that grant resource icons, there is a place in the card pool for cards that confer certain traits and nothing else. We’ve seen this with Nor Am I A Stranger for Rohan and Elf-friend for Noldor and Silvan, and now we have an option for the Gondor trait:

Attach to a character.

Attach character gains the Gondor trait.

Unlike the previous trait-granting attachments, In Service of the Steward may seem particularly underwhelming as there is already a card in the pool that gives the Gondor trait: Steward of Gondor. That card also has just the teensy, tiny additional benefit of generating two resources per turn, so one might be left asking why you would ever use this card instead. The answer lies in the fact that Steward of Gondor is unique, which means if one hero is using it then another hero won’t be able to gain the Gondor trait from it. Therefore, at the end of the day, In the Service of the Steward is a way to give the Gondor trait to a second hero when Steward is already in play on another hero.

The first use that jumps out in connection with this card is using it in conjunction with the new Leadership version of Denethor that also comes in this pack. You can put Steward of Gondor on Denethor and then use his ability to transfer a resource to a hero given the Gondor trait by In Service of the Steward (as a reminder, Denethor can only transfer resources to heroes with the Gondor trait). This use could come in handy if you need to get Denethor’s resources to a certain sphere or if you are looking to trigger something like Heir of Mardil. Here are some other possible uses for the Gondor trait:

  • Gondorian Shield is still one of the best defensive attachments in the game, and getting that extra +1 bonus for having the Gondor trait is huge. Imagine someone like Sam Gamgee, to take just one example, getting +2 defense from the Shield for a cost of 2 cards and 2 resources. Of course, one could argue that you could already do that with 2 copies of Dunedain Warning.
  • Gondorian Fire and Blood of Numenor are incredibly powerful attachments given the right circumstances. Of course, since they rely so heavily on resource generation, it seems that Steward of Gondor is still the best solution, as it gives resources and the trait at the same time. It’s hard to think of situations when you would have Steward on someone else and still look to set up Blood or Fire on a different hero with In Service of the Steward, although certain multiplayer combinations might fit the bill.
  • More defensive goodness can be had by combining In Service of the Steward with Gondorian Discipline and/or Behind Strong Walls.

This is certainly not an exhaustive list, but some of the more intriguing possibilities. When looking at what is currently available, In Service of the Steward can’t be called a power card or staple by any means. In most cases, it is redundant and Steward of Gondor easily takes its place. However, there are certain niche decks and cases that give this card a reason for existing, and that is enough to give it a passable rating.

Versatility: ♦♦◊◊◊

Efficiency: ♦♦◊◊◊

Uniqueness: ♦♦♦◊◊

EVENTS

Last Stand (Tactics Event, 0 cost):

Last-Stand

Last Stand is a neat card with a great theme representing Hama’s valiant fall before the Gate of the Hornburg. In gameplay terms, this event is a new form of direct damage:

Response: After a Warrior character is destroyed while defending against an enemy attack, deal damage to the attacking enemy equal to that character’s printed .

In theory, Last Stand can deal more damage than most other direct damage effects, which tend to deal 1 or 2 damage to a given enemy. If you use it when a character with 3 attack is destroyed for example, then dealing 3 damage to the attacking enemy is a pretty considerable chunk of damage. However, the main problem here is that most characters that you are going to be willingly throwing in front of an enemy are low-cost chumps with a low attack strength (Vassal of the Windlord unfortunately doesn’t have the warrior trait, otherwise that would be an awesome partner for this card!). Conversely, characters with a high attack strength that could get the most value out of this card are probably ones that you don’t want to be intentionally sacrificing.

Although the cost of 0 is a strength of this card and gives you some flexibility, in many cases, it’s probably better to spend more for a direct damage effect that doesn’t depend on losing a character with a high cost  Spear of the Citadel, for example, costs 2 and only deals 1 damage per use, but does so consistently throughout the course of a game and doesn’t require losing a character. Beechbone and Azain Silverbeard are 3-cost allies that deal substantial damage on attack, while even the Core Set event Swift Strike, which has largely fallen out of favor, could be said to be arguably better, as even though it costs 2 resources, it deals 2 damage without losing a potentially expensive ally.

Still, there are some benefits to this card. One is that it deals damage right after an enemy finishes its attack, which means if an enemy attacks you during the quest phase from the staging area, for example, you could use Last Stand to potentially destroy it. Second, Last Stand can be used with a Beorn deck where you constantly use Fortune or Fate to resurrect that hero, as this card can be used with everyone’s favorite bear to deal 5 damage when he is destroyed, since the effect happens after he leaves play. Third, as mentioned previously, this card is free, which means you don’t have to plan for it. In fact, this card, unlike most other direct damage cards, strikes me as something you don’t really plan for at all, with the exception of the Beorn deck or some kind of Hama deck where you aim to sacrifice chumps all day to deal single points of damage here and there. Instead, it’s a kind of “gravy” card that gives you something good when you unexpectedly lose a warrior character, or it could help bail you out of a tricky situation by helping to destroy an enemy on defense so that your attackers can be devoted elsewhere.

As for potential targets, the 2-cost Galadhon Archer is probably the most cost-effective option. Don’t forget that you could also Sneak Attack in an expensive ally and sacrifice it to use Last Stand without having to pay the full cost. The limit placed on this card of basing the damage off of printed attack strength really prevents any impressive shenanigans, but that’s probably for the best. A kamikaze Erebor Battle Master would have been a bit overpowered! Overall, this is an intriguing card, the kind that I love to talk about and think about, but honestly I’m not sure how many decks I will actually end up putting it into when all is said and done.

Versatility: ♦♦◊◊◊

Efficiency: ♦♦♦◊◊

Uniqueness: ♦♦◊◊◊

Tides of Fate (Spirit Event, 0 cost):

Tides-of-Fate

Players both new and experienced will tell you that drawing the wrong shadow effect can sometimes be the difference between defeat and victory. Ever since the Core Set days, Hasty Stroke has been one of the primary counters to nasty shadow effects, but now there is another option in terms of Spirit events that directly cancel shadows:

Response: When a shadow card increases an enemy’s by any amount, increase the defending character’s by 3 for that attack. Then, the players as a group may spend 2 Tactics resources to ready the defending character and give it +3 for its next attack this phase.

The main question players will doubtless be asking is: does Tides of Fate replace Hasty Stroke? The simple answer is no. The raw versatility of Hasty Stroke will always win out, allowing you to cancel those shadow effects that don’t boost the enemy’s attack strength, but potentially do something equally nasty or worse, like discarding a valuable attachment, raising your threat, or causing the enemy to attack again. Even if Hasty Stroke costs a resource while Tides of Fate is free, the former still wins out because of its blanket applicability.

With that comparison out of the way, let’s focus on how Tides of Fate can be useful. I haven’t crunched the numbers, but attack-boosting shadow effects have to be the most common type of shadow effect by far. One of the most frequent causes of unexpected hero death similarly has to be attack-boosting shadow effects. With this in mind, Tides of Fate can serve as an extra bit of insurance if you are going to be heavily relying on defending with your heroes. Since it doesn’t cost anything, the advantage of this card is that you don’t have to hold a Spirit resource back or be stuck unable to use it when needed because you blew your resources earlier in the round.

There is also the secondary effect here that can be triggered for the cost of an additional 2 Tactics resources, which readies the defending character and gives it +3 attack. This effect will be more difficult to trigger in solo play, and you might already have a solid balance of questing and combat so that the added attack isn’t really necessary. However, in multiplayer, a Spirit player, particularly one that is running a deck that isn’t strong in terms of combat, could really benefit if other players could spend the resources to help them out. An extra 3 points of attack, plus whatever attack that character already has, could make a huge difference in destroying an enemy. In solo play, it is possible to build for this attack as well. The only caveat is that if you are including Tactics in your deck, you will already have other, more consistent options for attacking. Overall, this is a solid card that has a place in certain decks. It certainly won’t replace Hasty Stroke as a Spirit event staple, but if you need that added bit of insurance for a hero that will be consistently defending, or you are playing multiplayer, then Tides of Fate is worth a look. The fact that it combines shadow cancellation AND readying AND an attack boost all in one card is a definite argument in its favor, but the specific trigger limits its range a bit.

Versatility: ♦♦♦◊◊

Efficiency: ♦♦♦◊◊

Uniqueness: ♦♦♦♦◊

Heed the Dream (Lore Event, 1 cost):

Heed-the-Dream

At the risk of tipping my hand early, I’d say that Heed the Dream is an early contender for one of the best cards of the cycle. Lore has long been flush with card draw effects, but Heed the Dream falls more into the realm of card “search” (a.k.a. “tutoring”):

Action: Choose a player. That player searches the top 5 cards of his deck for a card, adds it to his hand, and shuffles his deck. Then, the players as a group may spend 3 Leadership resources to have that player search his deck for another card, add it to his hand, and shuffle his deck.

Gandalf’s Search was an early Core Set example of card search in Lore, with the small problem being that it was absolutely terrible. To understand why, consider that Gandalf’s Search costs you 1 resource for each card you want to look at, so it would cost you 5 resources to look at 5 cards in search of a card you want, whereas Heed the Dream lets you do that for 1 resource! Gandalf’s Search does give you the added ability to rearrange the rest of the cards and put them back in any order, but that doesn’t justify the cost. If searching the top 5 cards of your deck for a card was all it did, Heed the Dream still would be worth consideration. However, it goes a step further by allowing you to search your entire deck for a second card for the additional cost of 3 Leadership resources. Being able to search your entire deck is incredibly powerful and nearly unprecedented. Sure, we’ve had Word of Command, but that means getting an Istari into play (or playing with Gandalf hero) while Gather Information requires completing that particular side quest. The fact is that nothing is as quick and painless as Heed the Dream when it comes to finding that vital piece you need for your deck to function, as long as you have the Leadership resources (bonus points for the fact that Leadership Denethor plus a Lore hero can fully use this card on the very first turn).

The big question for deck builders is whether it’s better to include card draw effects or a top tier card search effect like Heed the Dream. To put it another way, is it better to draw several cards blindly or is it preferable to draw 1 card that you have chosen from a broader selection? I don’t think there’s a definitive answer to this question and it is definitely deck-dependent. For example, if I have a deck that relies heavily on setting up a certain combo or getting a certain attachment or set of attachments into play, then Heed the Dream will be a must-include for me from now until the foreseeable future. On the other hand, if I have a deck that has a balanced assortment of cards, none of which is particularly vital, then I might just opt for general card draw. If I have a deck that relies on drawing a large quantity of cards, like a Noldor deck that fuels effects through discarding cards from hand, then I might choose card draw as well. Whatever the deck may be, there is definitely a case to be made for being able to pick exactly the card that is most useful for a given round out of a set of 5. This is why Heed the Dream is worth inclusion even without access to Leadership resources. But with that access, it becomes incredibly powerful, guaranteeing that you will get the exact cards you need at any given moment. Simply put, Heed the Dream is a top-tier card and it should definitely be one of the main events you consider when filling out Lore event spots in your deck.

 Versatility: ♦♦♦♦♦

Efficiency: ♦♦♦♦♦

Uniqueness: ♦♦♦♦◊

Vanish from Sight (Neutral Event, 0 cost):

 

Vanish-from-Sight

Secrecy has had an interesting history. It was pretty widely derided after the Dwarrowdelf cycle as being a nice idea in theory but poorly supported in practice. However, the developers thankfully didn’t give up on it, and we have received more and more secrecy support as the game has progressed. I’ve heard quite a few players wish for a card that would allow you to somehow duck back into secrecy even when your threat creeps above 20, and those prayers have been answered with Vanish from Sight:

Play only if you control 2 or fewer heroes.

Action: Until the end of the phase, if your threat is higher than 20, treat your threat as if it is 20.

 

The straightforward use for this card is extending the period of time when you can make use of the secrecy discount on cards. Generally, secrecy decks will start out somewhere below 20, but unless they are specifically built to stay under that threshold for the entirety of a game by using someone like Galadriel or a ton of threat reduction effects, eventually they will find themselves outside of secrecy. While the idea is that by that point, secrecy decks will have built up a large enough force to carry through to victory, there are unexpected treacheries and effects that can knock you out of secrecy too soon, and there are also games where you just need more time. Vanish from Sight can give this to you. For that reason, it’s worth putting at least a couple of copies of Vanish from Sight in most secrecy decks. The caveat of course is that these need to be 1- or 2-hero secrecy decks, which does limit the range of decks that can make use of this card. If you want a way around this restriction, you can include Desperate Alliance, then use that card to give away one of your heroes for a phase so that you only control 2 heroes (of course, this only works in multiplayer).

Possibly the more intriguing rabbit hole to explore is whether there are uses for this card beyond secrecy. One possible use is to simply avoid enemy engagements during the encounter phase, since your threat will be treated as if it is 20. Since the cost of this card is 0, this is actually probably one of the best ways around to avoid engaging a whole horde of enemies. That of course assumes that those enemies have an engagement cost greater than 20! Since it has recently been ruled that Vanish from Sight does prevent you from threating out, at least for the duration of the phase, you could play it, then go hog wild with Boromir until the end of the combat phase in a final desperate attempt to win a game. There are also a wide variety of cards, most of them Hobbit-themed, that give you bonuses if your threat is lower than the enemy’s engagement cost. Vanish from Sight provides a nice way of triggering these cards if your threat has crept up, and I would have loved to have such an option at key moments towards the end of many games. Finally, there has been recent discussion about the use of Vanish from Sight in combination with O Elbereth! Gilthonial!. It has been confirmed that it is possible to use Vanish from Sight to have your threat treated as 20, then use O Elbereth! Gilthonial! to get rid of an enemy, and then have your actual threat set to the engagement cost of the enemy, which may in fact be a threat reduction! For example, if your threat was 45, you might be able to use this combination to set your threat back down to 30 if that was the enemy’s engagement cost. (Keep in mind that such informal rulings are sometimes modified, so this interaction may change in the future; for now, make use of it!)

Of course, all of these uses still require controlling only 1 or 2 heroes. We have been promised further support for such decks in the remainder of the cycle, and they are already viable with certain heroes, so Vanish from Sight definitely has a niche place there (and as mentioned previously, it can work in multiplayer with Desperate Alliance for 3 hero decks as well). There is certainly a lot of room for experimentation with the card beyond its obvious uses, and it may end up generating the most rules questions of any card thanks to the ambiguity of the word “treat”. It doesn’t fit into most decks due to the hero number restriction, but it’s nice to have the more specialized decks fleshed out.

Versatility: ♦◊◊◊◊

Efficiency: ♦♦♦◊◊

Uniqueness: ♦♦♦♦♦

Conclusion

The player cards of this pack have now taken flight, and it will be soon be time to plumb the depths for the next set of exciting additions to the card pool. For now, what are your favorite attachments and events in the pack? What are some interesting uses for Vanish from Sight?  Is Heed the Dream superior to card draw effects? Let me know in the comments below!

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16 Comments
  1. I just can’t help but chuckle at the mental image that results from giving Denethor Rod of the Steward and Staff of Lebethron.

  2. PocketWraith permalink

    I think one of the biggest positives of Heed the Dream which you didn’t entirely cover is that unlike some very powerful Lore card draw effects like Daeron’s Runes and Mithrandir’s Advice, Heed the Dream can be used on other players as well as one yourself.

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      That’s a great point. Thinking of other players is definitely one of my blind spots! 😉

  3. Mikelius permalink

    The fine thing about “In Service of the Steward” is that you can attach it to ents (the most powerful allies). With Boromir and Leadership we can easily get Treebeard with stats 3-5-3-5 and readying effect.

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      Yeah, it’d be interesting to experiment with giving the Gondor trait to various allies. I suppose it also enables Sword of Morthond for some extreme jankery.

  4. Anonim permalink

    Great! But I still want Road to Isengard Campaign Mode.

  5. I like the idea of using Boromir to get your Threat very high, then during a refresh phase, play a ton of doomed cards while VfS is activated, then use Loragorn’s ability to reset to 23 threat.

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      I could be mistaken, but I think I saw on the forums that Caleb clarified that Lore Aragorn wouldn’t work with Vanish from Sight, because his ability uses the word “reduce” and you wouldn’t technically be reducing your threat, since TfS is treating your threat as 20.

  6. ChasmosaurusChris permalink

    With regards to the Gondor trait, I feel as though Rod of the Steward is really that missing piece it needed. Gondor army strategy has all the main areas ticked now; Global stat buffs, resource gen, and card draw.

    Between Denethor, Rod of the Steward, and Heed the dream (Not to mention the various fantastic Noldor allies) this pack is a very strong start to the cycle.

    • Gizlivadi permalink

      All of this. I would add to the Gondor pile some very reasonable shadow cancellation with the Destrier,

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      Very true. I’d say card draw has been the biggest weakness of Gondor decks so far and the Rod at least gives such decks a viable option.

  7. mpk permalink

    One point in favor of “Tides of Fate” is that it will work on shadow cards that say ‘this effect cannot be cancelled’ (as long as attack increases). I’m not sure how frequently those effects pop up in shadow cards, but “Hasty Stroke” can’t do anything about them.

    • Anonim permalink

      Fornas far as I know, only a shadow of Shadow and Flame Nightmare cannot be canceled. However, both RD Balrog and the new Witch-King have inmuje shadows, and encoujter card effects(so shadows) cannot be canceled during Nightfall in Wastes of Eriador. AND I WANT GODDAMN ROAD TO ISENGARD!

  8. Fouilloux permalink

    There is also a case where vanished from Sight could be usefull: if you just lost a hero.

  9. Nusse permalink

    While not really cost-effective, Last Stand can be used on Glorfindel for a good chunk of damage on a recurring ally

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      Heh. That’d be pretty thematic (if expensive). Use Last Stand to take down an enemy with Glorfindel, then return him from the dead to fight once again.

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