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The Drowned Ruins: Attachments Review

by on October 7, 2016

 

drowned-ruins

Temple of the Deceived contained one of the strongest attachments of the cycle (if not the strongest) in the form of the Armored Destrier. It will be hard going for any attachment in The Drowned Ruins to match it, but they sure are going to make the attempt! Does Strider live up to its billing as the savior of two hero decks? Is Dunedain Remedy the best of the signals? Is Hitlain worth the cardboard it’s printed on? Read on to find out!

ATTACHMENTS

* Dunedain Remedy (Leadership Attachment, 0 cost):

dunedain-remedy

The initial batch of Leadership signal attachments was one of the defining features of the first cycle of LOTR LCG, but there was a long gap before we finally saw another one. While the bulk of the signal attachments focus on boosting stats or granting keywords, the brand new Dunedain Remedy brings healing to the Leadership sphere for the very first time:

Attach to a hero.

Response: After Dúnedain Remedy is attached to a hero, heal 1 damage on that hero.

Action: Pay 1 resource from attached hero’s resource pool to attach Dúnedain Remedy to another hero.

As is the usual approach, let’s take a look at the response effect first in isolation. Paying 0 to heal 1 damage from a hero seems at first glance to be a quite minor effect. However, there’s a few considerations that raise the stakes a bit. The first, most important, factor to consider is the sphere of this effect. Previously, healing has been confined only to the Lore sphere. Dunedain Remedy finally allows another sphere to bring in a bit of healing, and from that perspective, the fact that it is minor healing makes sense. The other consideration is that this is essentially free healing. As long as you have it in hand, you’ll always be able to heal at least 1 point of damage from a hero. I’ll stop short of saying that these factors are enough to justify the Remedy’s place in a deck all by themselves, as healing a maximum of 3 points of damage is probably not worth the space.

To really get the full picture, then, we need to look at the second effect. As with other signal attachments, Dunedain Remedy can be freely moved between heroes at the cost of 1 resource for each move (paid by the attached hero). Whenever a new hero receives the attachment, they get to heal 1 damage. So while the ability to move the other signal attachments is a useful, and often underrated, ability, it is also one that is somewhat incidental to the main point of the card. In the case of the Remedy, however, the ability to move the attachment is the core mechanic of how it functions.

From here, there are two ways of looking at Dunedain Remedy. The first is as a rather resource-intensive way of bringing healing into a Leadership deck that doesn’t have access to the Lore sphere. Of course, paying for things is what Leadership is good at, so it could be feasible to devote a chunk of resources to healing, especially if you are facing a damage-intensive quest. There is some nice flexibility in multiplayer, in that you can pass the Remedy across the board to heal another player’s heroes. On the other hand, it is possible for this attachment (and thus your healing) to get somewhat stranded if another hero can’t pay to pass the Remedy back. However, there is no phase limit on the Remedy, so you can pass it back a million times if you do have the resources (more on that later)! You can also get multiple copies in play for more flexibility. In this form, as a somewhat inefficient form of off-sphere healing, Dunedain Remedy strikes me as a quest-dependent card. It won’t be worth the slot against many scenarios, but it could be a life-saver against others. As I am fond of saying in this blog, calling a card quest-dependent should never be looked at as a kiss of death in this game. It’s just an acknowledgement of its role in the card pool.

By contrast, the other way of looking at Dunedain Remedy is as a core piece of a certain deck type. I particularly have in mind a Gloin deck that aims to use that hero as a cash machine. Traditionally, Gloin has relied on healing from the Lore sphere to accomplish this end. However, Dunedain Remedy has the benefit of being in the same sphere as Gloin, and that hero also just so happens to be uniquely suited to paying the high cost of this particular healing effect. The main challenge is to be able to pass the Remedy back and forth enough to heal Gloin appropriately, but it should be possible to include other cards, particularly those that enable resource transfer, to make this happen. There are potentially other decks that rely on healing that could make use of the Remedy, but Gloin remains the most prominent.

Versatility: ♦♦♦◊◊

Efficiency: ♦♦♦◊◊

Uniqueness: ♦♦♦♦♦

* Hithlain (Spirit Attachment, 1 cost):

hithlain

 

Hithlain is a card that really wants me to like it. It plays on the Silvan trait, which is one of my favorites to play, and is a location attachment, which always excites me because those are few and far between. Does it succeed in winning my affection? Let’s take a closer look. Hithlain is a Spirit attachment that goes on a location and allows for progress to be placed on it through the playing of Silvan allies:

Attach to a location. Limit 1 per location

Response: After a player plays a Silvan ally from his hand, place 1 progress on attached location.

 

So the benefit here is being able to explore a location in the staging area (technically, it could go on the active location as well, but it seems best suited to deal with something in the staging area), and we’ve gotten a few more options in that regard of late after many years of relying mainly on Asfaloth and Northern  Tracker. However, how well does Hithlain do the job compared to more recent options? Explorer’s Almanac is a 0-cost attachment from The Grey Havens that attaches to a location in the staging area and allows for progress from questing to be placed on that location before placing it on the quest. Almanac has the advantage of being free and potentially has a higher ceiling, as it is usually easier to earn progress than to play a bunch of allies from hand. On the other hand, if you are facing location lock, then the Almanac won’t really help you as the lock will probably prevent you from making progress in the first place! In that situation, Hithlain has a clear advantage in that its method of placing progress is completely independent of the threat in the staging area and the willpower you have available.

The Evening Star, by contrast, in addition to having some of my favorite art in the entire game, is an event card that places 2 progress on any location, with this effect duplicated for each copy in the discard pile. The Evening Star is more expensive, costing 2, however I’d generally rather put that card in my deck than Hithlain, simply from the perspective of sheer flexibility. When I’m considering location management, unless I’m aiming to neutralize a certain problematic attachment (in which case, I’m probably going to look at Thror’s Key), one of the main things I want is the ability to adapt to the situation from turn to turn. A new location may appear that is suddenly the thorn in my side, or I may need to suddenly switch focus from one location to another, in which case the event speed and instantaneous nature of a card like The Evening Star wins out over Hithlian, which locks you into a certain location at the point at which you play it. From that point onward, you aren’t able to pivot.

Beyond these comparisons, I do think Hithlain has a role to play and it’s definitely not a coaster. However, I find it to be marginal as a solo card, as are most location control cards against most (though not all) scenarios. I would consider using it as part of a Silvan deck in a multiplayer game (especially three or four player) if I was concerned that the group needed some extra help with locations. There is one part of this card’s text that hampers its use in this regard: the phrase “plays from hand” instead of “enters play”. Players will know that Silvan decks are all about bouncing Silvan allies in and out of play, and playing them from hand is often not the primary way for them to hit the board. This card could have been much more powerful, without being broken, by using the phrase “enters play” because I could easily see turns where I get four or five Silvan allies into play and drop a huge chunk of progress on a location in one turn. Having to play them from hand, we might only be talking about one or two progress in a turn. So overall, Hithlain gets a lukewarm review from me, although I do like that it can go a location and can help you to explore it through a mechanism (playing allies) completely separate from your willpower situation.

Versatility: ♦♦◊◊◊

Efficiency: ♦♦◊◊◊

Uniqueness: ♦♦◊◊◊

* Strider (Neutral Attachment, 1 cost):

strider

 

Players have long been intrigued by the possibility of making decks with fewer than three heroes, ever since that possibility was teased in the rulebook, but the tools for making that dream a viable reality haven’t been there. The release of secrecy cards throughout the game’s life has made it possible to make a two-hero deck work, at least against certain quests, but there was still a nagging feeling among many that more was needed. Along comes Strider to potentially save the day:

Attach to a hero.

While you control 2 or fewer heroes, attached hero does not exhaust to commit to the quest.

While you control 5 or fewer characters, attached hero gets +2 .

First off, I have a special attachment to this card since it was brought as a spoiler to The Grey Company podcast by developer Matthew Newman. I also really love that it not only supports two-hero decks but also rewards players for running fewer total characters in general. Secrecy often feels like a bit of a contradictory archetype in terms of its theming, as most secrecy decks rely on utilizing low threat to muster a veritable army. The exact mechanics of sneaking several dozen people past the servants of the Enemy remain a mystery to me.

 

That issue aside, the real question is whether Strider does enough to really catapult two-hero decks to the next level. It definitely does help such decks be more consistent. There are certain essential cards that two-hero decks often count on seeing early, such as Resourceful and Timely Aid. Strider serves as another addition to this category. If you see Strider early, it helps to compensate for the lack of that third hero by granting action advantage (allowing a hero to quest without exhausting) and extra willpower. These two effects can help a two-hero deck tread water until enough characters get onto the board to start pulling the deck forward. Of course, once you go over five characters, you lose the additional willpower, but by that point you should have enough willpower from your allies that it won’t matter anymore.

Of course, if you don’t see Strider early, then its value drops dramatically for most decks. Not only will you likely be past five characters by that point, but the action advantage is most pivotal in the early rounds of a game. Still, if you view Strider as one more component in your secrecy toolbag, rather than the foundation of it, then this possibility isn’t apocalyptic, assuming you draw some of your other crucial cards instead.

Getting down to the good, the bad, and the ugly, I do like Strider and what it brings to the game. What I like most is not even necessarily any quantitative difference in power it makes for two-hero decks, but rather the creative deck building it will likely inspire. I already have several ideas in my head revolving around Tactics Eowyn or Haldir or Dunhere or Lore Aragorn and a dozen other possibilities. I’m sure the community at large already has thought of many more and more will be coming down the pipeline in the future. On the negative side, though, I’m not sure that Strider does enough on its own to cause two-hero decks to make a large step forward in terms of raw power. Don’t mistake me. I am by no means saying that two-hero decks are not viable. I’ve run some that have worked quite well, and I know many others have had success with them as well. But if we’re talking about the ability for such decks to stand against the hardest quests in the game or to match with the most powerful decks in the game, they still aren’t quite there yet. The impact of having one fewer hero shouldn’t be underestimated, and often it feels like two-hero decks have to devote quite a few slots just to make up for that hole when such space could be used for other effects if you just added that third hero.

Still, many other deck types that I enjoy and play often are in the same boat of not being in the top tier and that’s perfectly fine. Strider does make two-hero decks stronger and interesting, and, as the card pool continues to grow, it’s likely that we’ll get more cards in the future to support this archetype.

Versatility: ♦♦◊◊◊

Efficiency: ♦♦♦◊◊

Uniqueness: ♦♦♦♦♦

Conclusion

Quite an interesting mix of attachments in this pack! I know that Strider will likely generate plenty of discussion, so get those typing fingers ready.

Readers, what are your thoughts on the attachments in this pack? What are your favorite Strider decks? How good is Dunedain Remedy exactly?

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3 Comments
  1. WanderingTook permalink

    Another benefit of Hithlain is that it’s not unique, so if multiple locations have Hithlain attached, then they can all trigger when a Silvan enters play. It is unlikely to happen in solo play, but in multiplayer, this could get bonkers.

  2. mpk permalink

    I don’t feel that Dunedain Remedy makes a good combination with Gloin. You essentially need to spend two resources to heal 1 point of damage on Gloin (1 to move it off of Gloin, 1 to move it back on and heal). Since Gloin earns 1 resource per damage taken, and generally in Gloin decks your other heroes rarely get damaged, this just doesn’t seem like a sustainable way to keep him healthy.

  3. Could Denethor + Steward of Gondor be a good way to get help paying the Remedy ?

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