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A Storm on Cobas Haven: Hero Review

by on November 3, 2016

stormoncobas

A Storm on Cobas Haven is the penultimate pack of the Dream-chaser cycle.  It focuses on a huge battle at sea, pushing the sailing mechanic to its logical and epic conclusion. The player cards themselves are a bit of a mixed bag (spoiler alert!), and because of the need to do some catch-up on content, I’m going to be running through all of them in a lightning round review very soon. However, there is one card that deserves some time and tender loving care, and that is our brand new hero: Na’asiyah. Read on to find out exactly what I think of the newest FFG creation.

HERO

* Na’asiyah (Tactics Hero, 8 threat, 1 willpower, 2 attack, 2 defense, 4 hit points):

naasiyah

Last cycle, Amarthiul was a brand new objective ally, created by FFG to play a key part in the story and accompany us on several of the scenarios. Eventually, he joined the card pool as a full-fledged hero. FFG has used this same approach in the Dream-chaser cycle. Na’asiyah served as first an enemy, then an objective ally, serving the role of misguided foe who eventually realized that she had been led astray by the true villain: Captain Sahir. With her redemption complete, she has become an official hero in the fifth Adventure Pack of the cycle. While the design team has generally done a fantastic job with the heroes they have created, using this approach to introduce new heroes is even more ideal. It helps us get to know them, to experience their backstory as it happens, to fight by their side before we get to stand in their shoes. Long story short: I have found Na’asiya’s story to be a highlight of the cycle and am so overjoyed to be able to have her as hero (more on this later).

With that background established, let’s turn for a moment to Na’asiyah’s ability and how she fits into the game. Na’asiyah is a Tactics hero with relatively low threat and the potential to boost her own attack and defense by spending resources:

Action: While Na’asiyah is attacking or defending, pay 1 resource from her resource pool to give her +2 or +2 for this attack.

 

This ability is basically the same one that graced her objective ally version. But is it any good on a hero? There is an argument to be made that her ability is somewhat superfluous and costly. After all, we’re at a point in the card pool where Tactics is so flush with cheap and effective weapons and defensive options that it seems far easier and efficient to simply strap the right attachments onto a hero. Then, you just have to pay a cost up-front and not have to worry about spending resources every round to boost a hero’s stats. Perhaps the ultimate expression of this line of thinking can be found in the existence of Gondorian Fire and Blood of Numenor. Both of these attachments seem almost absurdly better than Na’asiyah. You just have to pay 1 to either to bump up either attack or defense by the total number of resources on a hero, rather than having to pay 1 resource for each point of increase.

These arguments are not without merit. However, they miss the real point of Na’asiyah’s ability, which is allowing you to make do without weapons. Essentially, she allows you to have weapons and armor built into a hero, although you have to pay for the privilege. This means that you can use those deck slots that you were going to devote to those attachments for some other purpose. It also means that you can rely on using her as a strong attacker or defender from turn one without having to worry about whether you will draw a copy of that attachment you so desperately need (assuming you have the resources to pay for her ability, of course). This is why I primarily view Na’asiyah as one of the best options for splashing Tactics into your deck, rather than as a hero that you build your deck around.

My thinking goes something like this. You start off by throwing Na’asiyah into a deck as the lone Tactics hero. The other heroes can focus primarily on questing, while Na’asiyah handles the lion’s share of combat. By using her resources for combat, you can effectively allow her to do the work of several characters in terms of attacking and defending. Her low threat keeps the overall threat of the deck low without having to sacrifice combat capability. With her ability around, you should be able to handle both early enemy attacks, as well as the big bosses that might appear later in a game. In this light, Na’asiyah is the ultimate pace play. What I mean is that many scenarios, especially the tougher ones, hit players hard from the beginning. Na’asiyah lets you immediately respond, since you don’t have to set her up necessarily and all you need is resources.

Okay, that’s the rosy view. There are some issues, though, some of which you might immediately have noticed. The first is the flaw that is actually printed right on her card: she can’t use her resources to pay for allies. So you end up with a Tactics splash hero that can’t pay for an entire card type from that sphere. Still, this argument is a bit easier to deal with, as who needs Tactics allies if Na’asiyah can do much of their work?

The bigger problem is that if she is going to be your primary source of combat, then she will need some attention after all. Na’asiyah definitely needs some form of readying to be most effective. Something like Unexpected Courage will do the job, but Armored Destrier is my preferred option, as it helps deal with shadows as well. The problem is that Na’asiyah does not have sentinel and isn’t a Leadership hero, so she cannot naturally access the Destrier. There are two ways of dealing with this problem: giving her Song of Kings or attaching Dunedain Signal. The latter would be my choice, as it gives her access to sentinel, which helps make up for another of her flaws in multiplayer. The fact that she does not have ranged and/or sentinel makes her of somewhat limited assistance in games with higher player counts. Attaching Dunedain Signal and Armored Destrier gives her the flexibility that she needs.

Readying is one issue. Resource generation is the other. She needs a consistent source of additional resources to really be able to defend larger attacks and do the work of multiple attackers. If you are using Leadership for the Destrier anyway, then Steward of Gondor is the logical choice. But you can also use The Day’s Rising if you are giving her sentinel, or rely on some kind of chump blocking/Horn of Gondor combination.

I’ve found that the right build can allow Na’asiyah to be effective. But what you can see is that the simple plan to use Na’asiyah as a no-frills splash without much need for deck space and setup can quickly degenerate into devoting a good chunk of your deck to supporting her! There are two ways you can go. You can accept this fact and fine tune a deck with enough card draw to make this whole thing work. Of course, there will be stronger builds, namely those involving Gondorian Fire and Blood of Numenor, but going this way is all about exploring some new space, rather than the old, potentially overpowered solutions.

The other path is to build a deck that truly uses Na’asiyah in a minimalist way. Using this approach, you wouldn’t worry too much about resources, and maybe only would include a single type of readying effect (you could even use some disposable forms, like Cram or Miruvor). Na’asiyah would just be there to hold off enemies in the early game, while giving you time to set up the rest of your deck, whatever that may be. In this way, she would be both a barricade against the initial storm and a scalpel that you use to surgically deal with enemies. But she wouldn’t be your one-stop solution for all things combat.

From this discussion, hopefully it’s clear how I feel about Na’asiyah in gameplay terms. She is a hero with great potential, but I feel like she is a real skill-tester of a hero, meaning that it takes some experience with the game and clever deck building to make her work. I don’t think you can just drop her in and hit autopilot, as you can with some other heroes. Finding the right sphere combination, especially in solo play, for example, can be quite tricky. Still, if you are willing to put in the effort, she can make some great plays happen. I still have a smile on my face from a game where I was able to use Quick Strike and pump enough of her attack to one-shot a ship off the board before it could strike. That kind of thing will make you think twice before dismissing this corsair too easily.

Versatility: ♦♦♦◊◊

Efficiency: ♦♦♦◊◊

Uniqueness: ♦♦♦♦♦

Possible Attachment Choices: Armored Destrier, Steward of Gondor, Dunedain Signal, Unexpected Courage, Cram, The Day’s Rising, Captain of Gondor, Miruvor

Conclusion

While my review might have seemed somewhat mixed, I did mention that I was excited and overjoyed to have this hero. In fact, while my love for Grima is well-known, Na’asiyah might just end up as my second favorite hero in the game (and while I’m talking about money G, I should mention that there is ample room to explore a Grima/Doomed build for Na’asiyah that can get her tricked out with resources and attachments early in a game). The reason goes beyond gameplay.

The fact is that while I love Tolkien to death, it has always bugged me that the huge lands of Harad and Rhun remained largely unexplored. The Free Peoples were essentially stand-ins for Northern European and British peoples, while the people of Harad and the corsairs remained faceless antagonists. Sam’s commentary on a fallen Haradrim soldier and what might have brought him to fight and die for Sauron is certainly a highlight in Tolkien’s work, and it impresses and excites me to no end to have the design team take this thought to its logical conclusion in the form of Na’asiyah. Here we have a warrior from another culture, coming to grips with the path that has been laid out for her by those who wish to deceive her and her people, and using her agency to carve out a new way. I’m so glad that we get the chance to move beyond the boundaries that were present in Tolkien’s original work and I look forward to using Na’asiyah in many decks in the future!

Readers, what are your thoughts on Na’asiyah? How would you rate her overall as a hero? How does she fare in solo play? What clever decks have you come up with to make use of this hero?

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14 Comments
  1. Fouilloux permalink

    Interresting article. However, I think there is a caveat that you mention: Yes you can use Na’asiyah as a splashing tactic hero. But why would you want to do that? Two reason for me: first, to have access to tactics allies, second to have access to tactics weapon, because the event do not look good enough for me. As we can see, she is not really good in both cases.

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      Yeah, that’s fair. I think it’s more about splashing in combat than splashing in the sphere necessarily, although you do get access to Feint and a couple of other good Tactics events, and there are some Tactics attachments that aren’t weapons or armor but still might be worthwhile.

  2. D4rkWolf10 permalink

    Great article with honest insight on the hero. I have not yet tried using her in a deck, but a lot of decks I’ve seen with her seem to be utilizing the Strider attachment and secrecy, in part I’d assume to keep your threat low enough to add in tricks like Dagger of Westernesse and Unseen Strike to help her out on the attacking side and also to potentially avoid combat and allow her to get some resources amassed to make full use of the ability.

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      That’s definitely one of hte main builds that I forgot to mention. Low threat/secrecy stuff can definitely work with Na’asiyah.

  3. I think you mean Sam’s commentary on the fallen soldier 😉
    I’m not so sure about this hero, maybe it’d be awesome to have a deck with the sons of Elrond where you have no allies and just rely on the heroes. I can’t think that it’d be particularly strong but it might be fun.

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      Oh geez, that’s embarrassing. I knew I’d pull the ol’ switcheroo sooner or later. I think low ally decks can work well against certain scenarios, but struggle against others (like the recent sailing quests).

    • mpk permalink

      It seems to me like that deck wouldn’t have enough willpower. I’d use Na’asiyah more to give a deck breathing room as it sets up.

      • TalesfromtheCards permalink

        I think that’d probably be meant more for a multiplayer option.

  4. SomeoneWhere permalink

    So, this may be slightly off topic, but I’ve just recently gotten into the game and have been playing it non-stop. Naturally, all of the content for the game has me buying expansions like mad, mixing in the player cards and such, right? However, your mention of certain enemies/allies/heroes evolving over the course of a cycle has given me pause… Ought I not being doing this, like should I maybe only be including certain packs as I reach their respective quests??? Or would you consider the impact almost negligible for the most part? The other thing here, is that maybe going into some of the quests blind, adding a particular ally to your deck, only to find out they’re part of the quest itself could cause issues — Do you know of any such cases?

    • Alex permalink

      From what I recall you always start with any objective allies in play, so if there is a crossover you can still swap that ally or hero out without spoilers for the rest of that quest. I might be wrong but so far I think this hero, a Dunedain hero, Faramir, Arwen and Grima are the only instances.
      Adding all the cards straight away will make the game a bit easier but it’s not like it’ll ever be a walkover! I’m a fan of playing cards from the cycle after the one I’m playing so that it’s not TOO hard.
      I do the same, buy all the packs for player cards even if I haven’t got round to the quests i already have, because I like to play themed decks and you need a load of the card pool for that (ie you can’t make a decent Rohan or Hobbit deck until you’re at a certain point. Just play however you enjoy, but there’s no rush to catch up, the game isn’t going anywhere for at least the better part of a year, and even then who knows!

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      As Alex said, for the most part, it’s obvious when you start a scenario whether there will be a conflict between objective allies in a scenario and any characters you have in your deck. I don’t think it will be too much of an issue for you!

  5. Dúnedain Hunter is the Secret Lover of Na’asiyah, the Ranger belong to the same sphere but you do not have to “pay” for him, so you can use him in a deck with her.

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      Definitely! Also, Grima combined with some 1-cost Tactics allies is also an option.

  6. Also cool – the +defense ability isn’t limited to once per turn, and you can wait until you see the Shadow card before deciding how much extra defense you need.

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