The Mumakil: Allies, Attachments, and Events Review
The Mumakil Adventure Pack has earned the reputation of being the “Harad pack”, meaning it provides a kind of “deck in a box” treatment for the Harad archetype. But how well do these cards fulfill that purpose? And how do the non-Harad cards in the pack fare? Read on to find out!
* Andrath Guardsman (Leadership Ally, 2 cost, 1 willpower, 0 attack, 1 defense, 2 hit points):
Response: After you play Andrath Guardsman from your hand, choose a non-unique enemy engaged with you. That enemy cannot attack you this round.
The Andrath Guardsman provides a way for Leadership to cancel an attack that is not trait-specific (as is the case with Feigned Voices). The biggest limitation is that since you’ll normally be played the Guardsman during the planning phase, you normally won’t be able to cancel the first enemy attack after it engages you, which means that it perhaps is more akin to a one-time use Forest Snare. Of course, this approach works well with the Dunedain strategy of dealing with enemies over several rounds, although it is not quite as effective for certain other decks. Still, in general, there are many cases where you have to handle enemies over more than one round, especially those that are a bit stronger and this is where the Andrath Guardsman shines. The stats are low enough that this probably isn’t a general use ally, but it is worth consideration as a toolbox ally in certain decks.
* Yazan (Tactics Ally, 5 cost, 2 willpower, 3 attack, 1 defense, 3 hit points):
Response: After Yazan is declared as an attacker, deal 1 damage to a non-unique enemy in play. (Limit once per phase.)
Yazan is the first of a set of 5-cost unique Harad allies in this pack, corresponding with the objective heroes that were found in The Sands of Harad deluxe expansion. Obviously, Yazan is an expensive ally, but any Harad deck worth its salt will be packing plenty of resource generation and/or cost reduction. The best part of Yazan is his raw flexibility. 3 attack is dime a dozen in Tactics, but he has ranged, as well as the ability to dump a damage on any non-unique enemy in play. This doesn’t seem like much, but it can help close some gaps around the board in terms of the attack you have available and what you need to kill an enemy, and the fact that you can repeat it every single time you attack with Yazan is what really makes it powerful. Yazan also has 2 willpower, which would be superfluous in most cases, but Kahliel has the ability to ready him, which actually makes it possible to quest and then attack with him, or to attack multiple times. Outside of a dedicated Harad deck, including Yazan is a tough call, as is the case with all 5-cost allies, and the choice will likely depend on whether you have resource generation available.
* Jubayr (Spirit Ally, 5 cost, 1 willpower, 2 attack, 3 defense, 3 hit points):
Response: After Jubayr exhausts to defend an attack, discard 1 facedown shadow card from a non-unique enemy. (Limit once per phase.)
At first glance, Jubayr’s 3 attack and 3 defense might not seem to be enough to make him the tank that players want him to be, but scratch the surface a bit, and there is an impressive ally. Most importantly, his response completely nullifies the unpredictably of shadow effects (assuming that you are dealing with a non-unique enemy). That means that Jubayr can always safely defend against an enemy with a maximum of 3 attack. While enemies may have gotten a bit stronger than the core days, there are still many, many enemies that fall into this category. You can also feel free to take attacks from 4 or 5 attack enemies, knowing that Jubayr will survive, and then you can heal him later. Add in sentinel and Jubayr can do tons of defensive work. Don’t forget that you can also discard a shadow card from another enemy entirely, anywhere on the board, as long as it is facedown. With a little work, you can bump Jubayr’s defense with certain attachments (hello Raiment of War) or ally Arwen. Altogether, Jubayr is well worth the cost and is fantastic in Caldara decks, as well as Harad decks.
* Firyal (Lore Ally, 5 cost, 3 willpower, 1 attack, 2 defense, 3 hit points):
Response: After Firyal commits to the quest, look at the top card of the encounter deck. Then, you may discard the looked at card.
For my money, Firyal is the most powerful of the 5-cost unique Harad allies, at least in true solo. With only one player, you get to have as close to full control over staging as it is possible to get in this game by choosing to either accept the encounter card that is coming or discard in favor of something else. This is analogous to Lore Denethor’s ability, but in Firyal’s case she gets to trigger this ability simply by questing, and she is quite the quester at 3 willpower. Note that Firyal doesn’t quite help in the scrying department, as characters are committed to the quest simultaneously, and thus you won’t know what card is coming until you have committed all your characters (if other players follow you in multiplayer, then you could give them hints if you are feeling generous). But the power to discard the card you will face in staging is really quite bonkers. It means that you can totally ignore that killer treachery as long as Firyal is on the board. Sure, you might potentially draw something equally bad, but there’s much to be said for holding your destiny in your own hands. Even in multiplayer, this power can help you avoid some killer cards and the 3 willpower will never go to waste. Firyal is a hit in Harad decks and worth a look in Lore decks that can afford the cost.
* Dwarf Pipe (Spirit Attachment, 1 cost):
Attach to a Dwarf character. Limit 1 per character.
Response: After a card is discarded from the top of your deck, exhaust Dwarf Pipe to place that card on the bottom of your deck.
So far in this game, the fine art of pipe-smoking has been restricted to Hobbits and Wizards, but now Dwarves can get in on the action. The ability of the Dwarf Pipe itself is certainly niche, as it only has value in decks that consistently discard cards from the top of your decks. This encompasses Dwarven “mining decks” that use effects like Ered Nimrais Prospector and Erebor Guard, but also some decks that use the Zigil Miner/Imladris Stargazer engine. The main purpose of Dwarf Pipe is to keep your deck stacked with cards while using these effects and so that you aren’t losing valuable pieces to your discard pile. If you can include abilities that shuffle your deck after use, then you can help make sure that those recycled cards get off the bottom of your deck. Finally, don’t forget that Dwarf Pipe can be used in conjunction with Smoke Rings. Overall, Dwarf Pipe is a good utility piece. It’s only suitable for a very narrow set of decks but can do some work within those confines.
* Kahliel’s Headdress (Neutral Attachment, 3 cost):
Attach to Kahliel. Each Harad character gets +1 .
Refresh Action: Exhaust Kahliel’s Headdress to shuffle the topmost Harad ally in your discard pile into your deck.
Kahliel’s Headdress fills the role of attachment that serves as the centerpiece (or engine) for a particular trait, similar to the way in which O Lorien! anchors Silvan and Legacy of Durin drives Dwarves. As such, the simple line is that you play the Headdress if you are running a dedicated Harad deck and ignore it if you are not. But how well does it serve its function? The +1 willpower to each Harad character is great, as it is a simple passive effect that doesn’t require any other condition to be satisfied. Then, the action basically gives extra fuel for Kahliel’s ability to ready a Harad character by discarding a Harad ally by allowing you to shuffle those discarded cards back into your deck. The great aspect of the ability is that it is shuffled into your deck rather than going straight to the bottom, which means your chances of seeing it again are decent, depending on the card draw you have available. All in all, the Headdress is well worth the 3 resources and the fact that it is Neutral makes it feel cheaper.
* Wait No Longer (Tactics Event, 2 cost):
Response: At the beginning of the quest phase, search the top 5 cards of the encounter deck for an enemy and put it into play engaged with you. Then, reveal one less encounter card this phase (to a minimum of 0). Shuffle the encounter deck.
Tactics hasn’t seen much of the kind of encounter deck manipulation that Lore is famous for, as its approach tends to be a little bit more straightforward. However, the ability to trade a random encounter card during staging for an engaged enemy feels right at home in the sphere. The worst part of this event is the cost, but I love everything else about it. That doesn’t mean it will be a staple in every Tactics deck, but those Tactics decks that have resource generation, especially with Mablung (who basically makes this card cost 1), and those that are working with low player counts can make great use of this card. The hidden nature of the card you will deal with during staging is one of the most powerful advantages the encounter deck, so removing that advantage by choosing the exact nature of the card you will face instead (albeit, from among the top 5 cards of the encounter deck) swings the advantage back in your favor. In solo, you essentially guarantee that you will face no additional threat in the staging area, which will be a great boon for mono-Tactics or Tactics-heavy decks, which would rather much face enemies over a high threat location or devastating treachery. Even in multiplayer, a deck that wants to fight can make use of this card to lower the overall threat load for the rest of the players. I think this card works well both in decks that try to recur it (through something like Hama or Book of Eldacar) and those that throw a couple of copies in to use at crucial moments. Overall, this is a fantastic piece for Tactics, even at a cost of 2 and even though every deck won’t use it. There’s also a ton of room for hijinks with Tactics Aragorn, the Dunedain in general, Quick Strike, and Mablung. Don’t sleep on this one.
* Coney in a Trap (Lore Event, 1 cost):
Response: After you engage an enemy, that enemy cannot attack you until the end of the round.
Interestingly, Coney in a Trap is the second card in this pack to deal with attack cancellation (Andrath Guardsman being the other), and this perhaps might have something to do with the fact that the quest deals with big, bad Mumakil. The logical comparison here, though is to Feint, and this card can rightly be thought of as the “Lore Feint” of the card pool. It is definitely more limited than Feint, with some clear trait restrictions, the fact that this can only be used on an enemy that has been engaged this round, and the restriction to playing only on enemies that have engaged you, rather than other players. Still, the cost is right at 1 and it gives Lore a tool that it didn’t have before. Coney in a Trap works particularly well as a prelude to Forest Snare, as previously you had to eat an attack before being able to put down the Snare the following turn. Coney in a Trap removes that need. There will definitely be times when a big enemy is coming down and you have that feel bad moment of drawing this card the next turn, when it can’t be used anymore, but there’s still value here, especially when combined with the various other tricks that Lore has in terms of pushing enemies back to the staging area, trapping enemies, and pulling them down (Mablung + Coney in a Trap could work well!).
* Prepare for Battle (Leadership Side Quest, 1 cost, 6 quest points):
While this quest is in the victory display, the first player draws an additional card during the resource phase.
A side quest needs to be pretty powerful to justify the time spent (and progress lost) pursuing it. Fortunately, in this case, Prepare for Battle fits the bill. Card draw is king in this game, and guaranteed, consistent card draw every turn for a sphere that isn’t Lore is gold. This quest basically gives you a Bilbo without having to use up a hero slot. In solo play, doubling the number of cards you draw each turn is huge, and there is value here even for higher player counts. Although it’s difficult to measure these sorts of things, how many games can be saved by giving players a better chance of drawing the pieces they need at key moments. The biggest limitation here is the simple fact that this is a side quest. Side quests can be effective against many quests, but there are certain cases where there is just no time for a single side quest, and this limits the applicability of Prepare for Battle. It doesn’t help that the 6 quest points are on the higher end of the scale, making it difficult to pull off the all-important one turn questing push. Still, this is one of the best side quests out there, so give it at least a glance when deck building with Leadership from now on.
The Mumakil is overall a solid pack of player cards. The tools are there to build a decent Harad deck, when combined with the powerful cards in the rest of the card pool. Beyond Harad, the rest of the cards are in the toolbox/niche category rather than staples, but that isn’t a criticism of them. These are the kinds of cards that fill out corners of the game that were missing. Wait No Longer is one in particular that I’m looking forward to experimenting with at length.
Next up, it’s time to take those Mumaks we’ve tamed, saddle them, and head off across the desert. Regulators! Mount up!