The City of Corsairs: Allies, Attachments, and Events Review
It’s time for another lightning round review, as I tear through the rest of the player cards of the City of Corsairs pack. As was true last time, I’ve restricted myself to a maximum of four sentences per card. Which cards will pass muster and which are better left on the streets of Umbar? Read on to find out!
* Knight of the White Tower (Leadership Ally, 4 cost, 2 willpower, 2 attack, 3 defense, 3 hit points):
Knight of the White Tower’s resource cost must be paid from a single hero’s resource pool.
The stats of the Knight of the White Tower are simply fantastic and definitely justify the cost, as you are essentially getting what would be the equivalent of a 10 threat hero. Of course, the main drawback here is that the cost must be paid by a single hero, but there are so many ways to circumvent this limitation: A Very Good Tale, the ability of the hero in this pack (Tactics Imrahil), and that old stand-by Steward of Gondor. The Knight of the White Tower has the potential to be a primary defender (but can also serve quite well as a quester or attacker), and with the Raiment of War becomes a 3 attack, 4 defense, 5 hit point monster. With the Gondor trait, Knight of the White Tower can also benefit from a wide variety of effects, from the stat boosts of Leadership Boromir/Visionary Leadership to the readying and defensive help of Behind Strong Walls.
* Soldier of Dol Amroth (Tactics Ally, 2 cost, 0 willpower, 1 attack, 1 defense, 2 hit points):
Response: After Soldier of Dol Amroth enters play, reduce the cost of the next Tactics card you play this phase by 1.
The stats of this ally are not great, especially when compared to the wide variety of strong 2-cost Tactics allies, so the real attraction here has to be the ability. Reducing the cost of the next Tactics card by 1 essentially means that you can think of this card as really being a 1-cost ally, which does sweeten the deal a bit. I fear, however, that it’s still not enough to justify taking up valuable slots in your deck. The main situation in which I would take the Soldier is in a Tactics Imrahil deck, in which case this guy could pop in during the combat phase, and potentially allow you to play a 1-cost Tactics event in hand for free, which could open up a fair few possibilities in a tight situation.
* Sulien (Spirit Ally, 4 cost, 3 willpower, 0 attack, 2 defense, 2 hit points):
Action: Spend 1 Lore resource to exhaust Súlien. Then, each location in the staging area gets –1 until the end of the phase. Any player may trigger this action.
Sulien seems best in two situations: a Caldara deck (which loves any high-cost Spirit allies with good stats) and in three or four player games. In solo, her ability will almost never be as useful as simply questing with her (you would need at least 4 locations to make the math worthwhile), and there is an abundant supply of cheaper allies in the sphere with strong willpower. However, in high player count games, where the number of locations can become ridiculous, then Sulien becomes invaluable as a way to get players out of trouble, almost serving as a Spirit version of ally Faramir. On the plus side, Sulien does have the Dunedain trait, which allows for her cost to be lowered with Heir of Valandil, and the Scout trait, which means that she can help with a variety of cards that require the exhaustion of a Scout character.
* Guardian of Ithilien (Lore Ally, 2 cost, 0 willpower, 1 attack, 0 defense, 1 hit point):
The stats of the Guardian of Ithilien are indeed utterly terrible, however it is worth noting that there aren’t many options in the Lore sphere for 1-cost allies, so there is some value just in that fact alone. The real attraction here, though, is the ability, which is primarily useful either for shoving an enemy back into a trap in the staging area (perhaps one that you played right before the Guardian) or for disengaging yourself from an enemy that you’d rather have someone else handle. There is also the possibility of cheating this guy into play during the combat phase, before an enemy attacks, in order to prevent that enemy from attacking (serving as a poor man’s A Light in the Dark in that case). The Guardian of Ithilien certainly isn’t an auto-include or meant for every deck, but it is a cheap tool in the right build (especially trap decks) that can help get you out of a few sticky situations.
* Ranger Spear (Lore Attachment, 1 cost):
Attach to a Ranger character.
Attached character gets +1 (+2 instead when attacking an enemy with an attachment on it).
For far too long, Elves and Dwarves have monopolized access to weapons in the game, but finally rangers, especially those associated with trap decks, have something to play with as well. Paying 1 for +2 attack is an absolute no-brainer in a trap deck, where many enemies will have an attachment, and paying 1 for +1 is a perfectly serviceable deal as well (especially when considering the aforementioned dearth of options for humans). The beauty here is that it can be attached to allies as well as heroes, so the best move is often to spread the spears across several different characters to maximize your options. For trap decks, this has become a 2-3 copy auto-include for me, and I’d consider giving it a look in Lore decks without access to other weapon/attack-boosting options.
* Prince of Dol Amroth (Neutral Attachment, 3 cost):
Attach to Prince Imrahil.
Price Imrahil gains the Outlands trait.
While you control Outlands allies that belong to 4 different spheres, add 1 additional resource to Prince Imrahil’s resource pool when you collect resources during the resource phase (if Prince Imrahil is a hero).
To be clear, Outlands didn’t really need additional help, at least of the resource generation variety (since Outlands allies tend to be on the cheaper side), and using the Outlands trait to turn Prince Imrahil into a monster won’t make too huge of a difference if an Outlands deck is already singing. However, this all misses the point of this card, which is that is is pure fun. It may seem at first glance that Tactics Imrahil’s ability to cheat Outlands allies into play temporarily and the Outlands strategy of massing a permanent army are at odds, actual play experience has shown me the value that isn’t always obvious when just thinking theoretically. One of the big weaknesses of Outlands is being vulnerable while the deck gets set up, and Tactics Imrahil can use his ability to provide defensive cover while this happens or even provide temporary Outlands boosts that can actually make an important difference.
* Hold the Line (Leadership Event, 0 cost):
Response: When an enemy attacks a player, that player may declare up to 3 eligible characters as defenders against this attack. Then, the players as a group may spend 2 Tactics resources to ready each defending character that takes no damage from this attack.
I feel like Hold the Line falls into that category of event cards that is entertaining to think and theorize about but won’t make the final cut in a deck nine times out of ten. There are certainly potential uses for it, particularly when taking on big boss enemies, and it could be a way to use several characters to serve as defenders rather than one big tank. I definitely like it best when you can afford the 2 Tactics resources, because then you are basically paying 2 to completely nullify an attack (hopefully) while being able to ready all of those characters and have them ready for a second attack or striking back. Keeping all this in mind, Hold the Line seems best to me in multiplayer games with easy access to the Tactics resources, but it would still probably only be worth one or two copies in a deck.
* Inspiring Presence (Spirit Event, 2 cost):
Action: Choose a hero you control. Each hero with lower threat cost than the chosen hero gets +2 until the end of the phase. Then, the players as a group may spend 2 Leadership resources to give +2 to each hero with lower threat cost than the chosen hero until the end of the phase.
At its base level, Inspiring Presence is a way to provide emergency defensive help across the board, particularly if you happen to control a hero with a high threat cost. This card feels like its definitely best in higher player count games, as in solo play, you probably have better options for giving defensive boosts to one (two at most) hero. The cost is probably the element that will prevent this event from seeing a ton of play, but I could definitely see keeping one copy in my back pocket in a 3/4 player game for emergency purposes. The ability to provide extra attack help with Leadership resources would definitely pay dividends in that environment as well to either prepare for a big board-clearing/boss-killing moment or to bail the players out of trouble.
And with that, the player card reviews for The Grey Havens have come to a close. The highlight of the cycle has perhaps been the heroes, as we’ve seen a variety of interesting heroes that open up a wide array of deck building from the utter splashability of Leadership Denethor to the unique flair of Tactics Imrahil. The rest of the player cards have seen some hits and some misses, but overall a variety of traits were further developed.
Soon, I will traverse The Sands of Harad and get us caught up with current content. Stay tuned!