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The Thing in the Depths: Hero Review

by on July 14, 2016

thingcover

The Thing in the Depths is a fantastic re-imagining of The Watcher in the Water as a battle against a fearsome sea monster. What really makes the quest memorable is the way in which it transitions between a desperate fight against the corsairs of the Stormcaller to uniting with those corsairs to take on the titular foe. So far, the Dream-chaser cycle has been amazing in terms of the scenarios, so let’s begin our look at the player cards of this particular Adventure Pack as well, beginning with a brand new FFG-created hero: Lanwyn.

HERO

* Lanwyn (Spirit Hero, 9 threat, 2 willpower, 3 attack, 1 defense, 3 hit points):

lanwyn

The release of each non-canon hero is actually something I quite look forward to these days. While seeing my favorite characters from Tolkien’s works appear has its own charm, I’ve come to appreciate the extensive narratives that the designers create for each new hero they have crafted. Moving outside of the existing characters also gives the design team space to explore new kinds of heroes, both in terms of background/theme and mechanics. In this case, Lanywn is a Dale scout, which is a character type that we don’t get a chance to know in the Hobbit or Lord of the Rings. This hero also breaks new ground in being the first player card effect that provides a bonus for encountering the hated surge keyword:

Response: After an encounter card with surge is revealed, either ready Lanwyn or give her +2 until the end of the phase. (Limit twice per phase.)

First off, I appreciate this way of countering surge. While the Minas Tirith Lampwright is a hard cancel of surge, it really only works in certain specialized decks (such as a Palantir deck). Giving a hero some means of cancelling surge would undoubtedly be useful, but perhaps a bit boring. Instead, Lanwyn doesn’t actually cancel surge, but instead gives you some tools for dealing with it. For example, if you take the option of readying Lanywn, then you have essentially countered the encounter deck by giving yourself one more character action to deal with the additional enemy that might be revealed by surge. On the other hand, if you take the extra willpower, then this also helps deal with surge by offsetting the additional threat posed by whatever card is put into the staging area by surge. The beauty of this ability is really in the choice, giving you the option of turning Lanwyn into a 4 willpower hero on the level of an Eowyn or Cirdan, or alternatively allowing you to make use of that 3 attack strength with ranged, which is quite useful, especially for the Spirit sphere (if you happen to hit upon 2 surges in one phase, you can even make use of both, or double up on one!).

The real nitty gritty of the matter, though, is whether or not Lanwyn is worth including in your decks. Does she offer enough to justify a spot over some of the fantastic Spirit heroes that have been released recently? More than anything, I would say the answer depends on the player count. If you play mostly solo, as I do, then Lanwyn likely won’t make it into many of your decks. While her threat of 9 is low enough that she can fit into a variety of builds, and while her 3 attack is certainly welcome as another way of including combat strength in the Spirit sphere, there’s probably not enough value here to pick this hero over others. The reason why is simple enough: in solo play, the frequency of revealing a card with surge will be much lower than in multiplayer due to the number of encounter cards revealed per turn. If you only see one or two surge cards per game, then you are basically investing a hero slot in a vanilla hero with moderate threat. Of course, this is somewhat quest dependent, and a scenario that really doubles down on the surge keyword might provide a case for including Lanwyn in solo play.

Note that this point is not absolute. I could see cases where it might make sense to include Lanwyn in a solo deck. In particular, you might be interested in building a Spirit-heavy or even mono-Spirit deck that focuses on maximizing the combat capabilities of your heroes. The release of cards that support the scout trait in this cycle might also provide a reason for including Lanwyn, since she possesses that trait. However, in general, I would venture it’s not controversial at all to say that heroes like Arwen, Galadriel, and Cirdan, which provide card draw, threat reduction, and/or resource generation are stronger overall choices, while Glorfindel and Idraen are potentially better combat-focused Spirit heroes (even Frodo could be included in this category as a fantastic defender). In solo, any of these are also probably better splash options for including a single Spirit hero, if you are looking at it in terms of raw impact on a game.

With that out of the way, let’s discuss Lanwyn’s power in multiplayer, which is probably where the real discussion is to be had. After all, a hero being better in multiplayer than solo is no great crime, although it can certainly slant players’ perceptions. Many heroes fill particular niches, and Lanwyn’s true niche is undoubtedly multiplayer, with 3 or 4 player games being the particular sweet spot. Again, this judgment comes down to simple probability, and players who often join in 3 or 4 player games can attest to how often surge shows its face with those player counts. Suddenly, Lanwyn’s ability stops being unpredictable and becomes something that you can count on triggering more often than not. Then, it’s almost possible to start treating Lanwyn as a default 4 willpower hero (or even 6 willpower), or at least a 2 willpower hero with the ability to help out anywhere on the board with her 3 attack. More importantly, she can be both in the same game, depending on what is most needed. The ranged keyword is what really sells this hero for me. 3 attack is certainly nice in multiplayer, but a player including Spirit may often be focused more on questing than combat. On the other hand, I’ve found that ranged is extremely useful, perhaps even underrated, in multiplayer games, and an extra 3 attack on the board from a place that might not usually be expected (the Spirit sphere) can make a difference.

So Lanwyn definitely has utility in multiplayer games, although her exact strength is still up for debate. Still, what are some attachments (and events) that can get the most out of this hero? I’ll start off by saying that Lanwyn is one of those heroes whose strength lies in the fact that you don’t have to build for her. You can simply throw her in a deck and use those deck slots for anything else. That being said, weapons, particularly those that feed off the ranged keyword, can be useful for Lanwyn. Unfortunately, Lanwyn’s Dale trait is one of the least supported traits in the game, especially in terms of attachments, and the best ranged weapon, Bow of the Galadhrim, requires the Silvan trait. Enterprising players might look into giving Elf-friend to Lanwyn, so that she can use the Bow and attack for 5 when she is making a ranged attack (or even 7 with multiple copies). Dagger of Westernesse is probably the other main option, since with access to the threat reduction in Spirit, you should be able to make use of the bonus for attacking enemies with a higher engagement cost than your threat quite often. Moving beyond attachments, Unseen Strike could be used for a similar purpose, and it might be interesting to use Hands Upon the Bow with a Spirit hero for once!

The real question that could be asked is whether there is anyway to build for Lanwyn’s ability. Is it possible to make surge appear more often? More importantly, have we all entered bizarro world when I am even daring to ask that question? There are a few possibilities ranging from slightly janky to maximum jank. First is to use Ranger Summons and Ranger of the North. The Ranger of the North is shuffled into the encounter deck and has the surge keyword, so when he appears, he not only provides his usual benefits, but also triggers Lanwyn. If you can add in a couple of copies of the Ranger to the encounter deck, this will increase the odds of seeing surge, without increasing the dangers for your group. It should be noted that the probability isn’t increased that much, but any little bit helps. Moving into murkier territory, you could use victory display cards (i.e. Leave No Trace, None Return, Out of the Wild, etc.) to remove cards that don’t have surge from the encounter deck, increasing the probability of seeing surge. However, this seems like it would increase the difficulty for you without enough of a benefit from Lanwyn to justify this move, so I can’t recommend this strategy. Another option would be to return a card with surge from the top of the discard pile to the top of the encounter deck using Shadow of the Past. Remember that you can discard shadow cards in any order at the end of the combat phase, so you could take advantage of that fact to make sure that one with surge is on top. Of course, this card would have to be fairly innocuous, otherwise it wouldn’t make sense to use this effect.

Finally, scrying is probably the best bet for Lanwyn, and far more reliable than encounter deck manipulation. After all, in many cases you won’t know for sure if surge is on the horizon, so you’ll have to make the decision about whether to commit Lanwyn to the quest without being certain of whether she will be able to ready. This counters some of the point of having such a hero around, which is to be able to have reliable action advantage. So having scrying,  particularly scrying that can look at multiple cards, such as the Palantir or Risk Some Light, is invaluable for this hero.

There are some implications to the Scout trait, like the newly released Scouting Party (in Temple of the Deceived), but the full impact of such support will likely have to be assessed at the end of the cycle. For now, what I can say is that Lanwyn is a solid hero that certainly fits a slot that was previously missing: a ranged Spirit hero that can quest and attack. She also is the first counter to surge as far as heroes are concerned, and only the second player card to interact with surge at all. As an overall assessment, Lanwyn probably won’t see much play in solo games, but she will be a valid multiplayer option. I wouldn’t place her in the top tier of options, but she definitely helps to round out the hero pool. Now we just need a card for her falcon Gavin!

Versatility: ♦♦♦◊◊

Efficiency: ♦♦♦◊◊

Uniqueness: ♦♦♦♦◊

Possible Attachment Choices: Elf-friend, Bow of the Galadhrim (with Elf-friend), Dunedain Mark, Dagger of Westernesse

Conclusion

Next up, we’ll be taking a look at the allies of The Thing in the Depths!

Readers, what are your thoughts on Lanwyn? How would you rate her overall as a hero? How does she fare in solo play?

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7 Comments
  1. Pekka permalink

    For some reason I really like her! Cool art and her ability sounds like a fun way to strike back when the encounter deck is trying to overwhelm you.

    But does her ability work with encounter cards with effects like “Do XXX. If YYY, [this card] gains surge.”, for example http://hallofbeorn.com/Cards/Details/Rode-Like-a-Gale-TBR ?

    • Anonim permalink

      Maybe.

    • Silver Swan permalink

      It should. Almost all of these effects are “When revealed” effects, and Lanwyn’s text reads “After an encounter card with surge is revealed,” so you would trigger her response after resolving the “When revealed” effect. By that point, the card already has surge (unless you cancelled the “when revealed” effect).

  2. Anonim permalink

    We have Treason of Saruman Nightmare but not Road to Isengard Campaign Mode in TftC.

    • Fouilloux permalink

      Hi. I am looking forward for this particular article also. But I think that if I was Iain, and someone was repetedly asking for it, it would probably annoy me and would not encourage me to write/post it. I think it will arrive when it is ready, so let’s be patient and let’s not put any pressure on him. He is free to post or not whenever he want/don’t want.

      • Anonim permalink

        Okay, I will stop pressing him. Maybe he will post it when he gets what at date in expansion reviews.

  3. mndela permalink

    A lot of my decks would love Lanwyn in multiplayer games. When a player ask me for what he can play, or what i need…, i answer: willpower + ranged. Voilá! Finally i’m happy. Almost all of the cases, friends haven’t got any kinda of the decks i need (wp+ranged), but now, with Lanwyn, it becomes real! And very easy!!!

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