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Race Across Harad: Allies, Attachments, and Events Review

by on July 21, 2017

Greetings, faithful readers! I did not in fact get lost in the deserts of Harad, no matter what lies those evil minions of Mordor might be spreading. Instead, the less fanciful realities of the world have kept me far too busy of late. Still, I return triumphantly from the desert to finish the player cards review of Race Across Harad. Last time around, we took a look at Thurindir, a hero that’s all about side quests and enabling decks focused around this card type. However, the rest of the player cards provide support for a mix of different archetypes, but how many of them pass muster, and how many should be left in the desert without water or recourse? Read on to find out!

ALLIES

* Kahliel’s Tribesman (Leadership Ally, 2 cost, 1 willpower, 1 attack, 1 defense, 2 hit points):

 

Kahliel’s Tribesman is the first non-unique Harad ally and is designed to help support this new archetype:

Action: Exhaust Kahliel’s Tribesman to choose another Harad character. That character gets +1 , +1 , and +1 until the end of the phase.  

Since the Harad deck is all about a few powerful unique allies (and Kahliel himself), it makes sense that a supportive non-unique ally focuses on boosting the stats of more powerful characters (although, don’t forget that the Tribesman can also boost other copies of the Tribesman). Although this game often rewards swarms of characters rather than smaller groups, the Tribesman’s ability ends up being quite helpful due to its raw flexibility. The fact that it boosts each of the three main stats means that you can add more questing power after staging, help boost defense after a nasty shadow effect that increases attack power has been revealed, or can lend some additional strength to a particularly important attack. Often, in practice, I find myself leaning on defense the most, especially when it comes to helping Jubayr become a super defender. Questing is second and is useful in terms of adjusting willpower after staging, while attack is often third, because usually I can just attack with the Tribesman himself (although there are cases where it helps to do the boost, especially when the target can ready and make use of the bonus multiple times). Since the boost lasts until the end of the phase, the nice thing is that you can get the best of both attack and defense during combat if you have readying. Overall, tis is an important utility piece for Harad decks.

Versatility: ♦◊◊◊◊

Efficiency: ♦♦♦◊◊

Uniqueness: ♦♦♦♦◊

* Dunedain Pathfinder (Spirit Ally, 0 cost, 2 willpower, 1 attack, 0 defense, 2 hit points):

Dunedain Pathfinder is the Spirit questing version of the Dunedain Hunter:

Forced: After this ally enters play, search the top 5 cards of the encounter deck for a non-unique location and add it to the staging area. If no location enters play by this effect, discard Dúnedain Pathfinder. Shuffle the encounter deck.                              

My initial reaction to the Pathfinder was a bit lukewarm, as often I am concerned about location lock as a real possibility and one that can be difficult to escape from. There is also the issue that since you are adding a location to the staging area, you are actually negating the extra willpower you get for that turn from the Pathfinder, whereas the enemy drawn from the Dunedain Hunter does not necessarily cancel out that ally’s attack power. However, there are some reasons to like this ally. Most importantly, it is free in terms of resources. In addition, Spirit should have the willpower available to power through whatever location is currently active, so that you can hurry up and travel to whatever location you added thanks to the Pathfinder, which means that this ally will end up being a net gain in terms of willpower. Finally, choosing from the top 5 means that hopefully you can pick a location that isn’t too detrimental, and the fact that it is “added” rather than “revealed” avoids any nasty surge or when revealed effects.

Versatility: ♦♦♦♦◊

Efficiency: ♦♦♦◊◊

Uniqueness: ♦♦♦♦◊

* Eryn Galen Settler (Lore Ally, 2 cost, 1 willpower, 2 attack, 0 defense, 2 hit points):

Eryn Galen Settler is yet another in the newer crop of location management tools:

Response: When the active location leaves play as an explored location, discard Eryn Galen Settler to discard a location in the staging with the same title as the just explored location.                                                         

In solo, the Settler is most likely a pass, since the chances of having duplicate locations in play are much reduced. However, I would consider the Settler in a two player game and would view this ally as a great addition in three or four player games. The reason why is because the Settler brings enough to the table in terms of stats that he won’t feel like wasted resources. 2 attack and 1 willpower for 2 cost is a good deal. In terms of his ability, many scenarios have one or two locations that are clearly the worst of the bunch, they will inevitably in higher player counts tend to spew out onto the table all at once. Eryn Galen Settler helps you to quickly get rid of 2 copies while normally only 1 would be eliminated (the one that is explored). This is especially helpful for clearing out those locations that prevent progress from being placed on locations in the staging area. Overall, the Settler is a good utility piece in higher player counts.

Versatility: ♦♦♦◊◊

Efficiency: ♦♦♦◊◊

Uniqueness: ♦♦♦♦◊

* Steward of Orthanc (Neutral Ally, 3 cost, 2 willpower, 0 attack, 0 defense, 2 hit points):

 

For too long, there’s only been one Steward in town, but now another has arrived:

Response: When you play an event, give it Doomed 1 to draw a card. You cannot trigger this ability if you have already triggered the ability of a Steward of Orthanc this round.                                                                                     

Quite simply, the Steward of Orthanc is in the running for best card released so far this cycle. It doesn’t look like much at first glance, with 2 willpower for 3 resources being a bit more expensive than the best questing allies in the game (which tend to provide 2 willpower for 2 resources). However, a card being neutral is often worth its own weight in gold and that is definitely the case here. The Steward of Orthanc especially provides help for mono-Tactics and Tactics-heavy decks that want to quest, by giving them a strong 2 willpower ally that won’t break the bank. Of course, what makes this ally particularly powerful is its ability. Trading 1 threat for 1 card is a great deal in most cases. Of course, this can only be triggered when an event is played, but this should happen often enough during a game. Again, the fact that this card is neutral means that any deck and any sphere can take advantage of this card draw. That makes this ally fantastically versatile and one of the best utility pieces in the entire game, with the only decks left out of the party being those that run so high in terms of threat that the Steward’s ability might prove dangerous.

Versatility: ♦♦♦♦◊

Efficiency: ♦♦♦♦◊

Uniqueness: ♦♦♦♦◊

ATTACHMENTS

* Steed of the North (Leadership Attachment, 1 cost):

 

Steed of the North brings some much-needed readying to the Dunedain and Ranger traits:

Attach to a Dúnedain or Ranger hero. 

Response: After you engage an enemy, exhaust Steed of the North to ready attached hero. 

Perhaps the biggest point against the Steed of the North is that many of the heroes that can take it, especially those of the Dunedain variety, are focused on combat and therefore won’t often be questing. The Steed of the North really only works as a form of readying for questing heroes, since it readies heroes when an enemy engages. This attachment also takes up a valuable restricted slot. However, there are several heroes that do benefit from the Steed of the North, with Beravor, Lore Aragorn, Thurindir, Damrod, and Faramir being the prime examples. Others, like Elladan/Elrohir and Tactics Aragorn, could make use of this card so that they can provide questing help, but in practice they will often need their restricted slots for other purposes (the Steed could work really well with Tactics Aragorn if he can find the space, because he could kill an enemy, engage another one, and then ready to attack the new foe). Still, despite a few drawbacks, the Steed of the North is a solid addition to the card pool that provides cheap readying, one of the most important card abilities, for Dunedain and Rangers.

Versatility: ♦♦♦◊◊

Efficiency: ♦♦♦♦◊

Uniqueness: ♦♦♦♦◊

* Mighty Warrior (Tactics Attachment, 1 cost):

 

This cycle has focused both on rewarding traits, especially the “skill traits,” as well as providing attachments that grant these traits:

Attached hero gains the Warrior trait. 

Response: After you play Mighty Warrior from your hand, draw a card. 

First off, I should say that I’m glad these trait granting attachments replace themselves when they are played, which helps make them far more usable. Mighty Warrior should see some play as the warrior trait allows access to a couple of powerful Tactics cards: Raiment of War and Captain of Gondor. With the combination of Raiment of War and Mighty Warrior, you could turn someone with even stats, like Faramir or Beravor, for example, into a 3 attack, 3 defense badass. What limits the potential of this combination a bit is that Mighty Warrior can only be placed on a hero, so there’s no possibility of giving the warrior trait to an ally so that they could use the Raiment. The other possibility, though, is to grab the warrior trait in order to help fulfill the other half needed for events like Coney in a Trap or Hunting Party. It’s likely that if you have you heart set on those events that you would simply pick characters and heroes with those traits in the first place, but if you wanted to give a hero the warrior trait for other purposes, then this extra synergy would be another side benefit. Altogether, Mighty Warrior is an attachment whose better days are ahead. When there are simply more cards that benefit warriors, then this card will gain in value.

Versatility: ♦♦♦♦◊

Efficiency: ♦♦◊◊◊

Uniqueness: ♦♦♦♦♦

EVENTS

* Proud Hunters (Tactics Event, 0 cost):

 

There hasn’t been much resource generation available for Tactics beyond the nerfed Horn of Gondor, if you aren’t willing to include a hero like Mablung that specializes in making it rain. However, Proud Hunters has arrived to provide a flexible solution to this need:

Play only if you control a unique character with the Noble trait and another unique character with the Ranger trait. 

Response: After a hero you control participates in an attack that destroys an enemy, add X resources to that hero’s pool. X is the just destroyed enemy’s printed  . 

The first hurdle to overcome is making sure that you have the proper traits you need to run this card. It’s also helpful to make sure you don’t just skip past those trait restrictions and throw Proud Hunters into your deck and then feel foolish when you try to play it during a game and suddenly realize you can’t actually play it. (I don’t know anyone who has done that. No sir, not me.) Fortunately, though, the noble trait is one of the most common traits in the game, and ranger isn’t that difficult to find among unique characters either. However, there are only 3 Tactics heroes with the ranger trait: Elladan, Aragorn, and Mablung, so if you’re not using those heroes, you either have to splash into another sphere or rely on a Tactics ally with the ranger trait (which, as of right now, means Yazan). Once you clear that hurdle, though, Proud Hunters is an amazing source of resource generation. Most enemies sit in the 2-3 threat range, and so you are looking at a card that costs 0 and nets you 2-3 resources simply for killing an enemy, which a good Tactics deck does all day anyway. Now that we have a resource counterpart to Foe-hammer, along with some great new heroes, Tactics is looking extremely powerful these days.

Versatility: ♦♦♦◊◊

Efficiency: ♦♦♦♦◊

Uniqueness: ♦♦♦♦◊

* Backtrack (Spirit Event, 1 cost):

 

In the past couple of cycles of the game, the design team has heard our prayers and delivered a wide variety of ways to deal with the threat of location lock. Backtrack is the newest member of that club:

Play only if the main quest has no keywords. 

Action: Remove X progress from the main quest to place X progress on a location in the staging area. 

We’ve haven’t yet received a location tool quite as powerful as Asfaloth, which simply exhausted each turn to place progress, but that’s probably a good thing. All the more recent location management cards are limited in some way or impose a different kind of cost. Backtrack falls into the latter category, as it forces you to trade progress on the main quest for progress on a location in the staging area. The positive way of looking at this card is that if you are thinking at all about using this card, it is because you have become a bit stuck and need to clear a location out of the staging area to avoid lock. If that is the case, then I would certainly be happy with removing 3-5 progress from the main quest in order to open a window to victory. The negative way of looking at this card is that if you are struggling with questing and locations, then it is possible, maybe even likely, that you haven’t been able to put any progress on the main quest in the first place! Realistically, both situations are likely to me, depending on how a particular game pans out and the scenario in question, so what you have to ask yourself is whether you are willing to put up with a card that might not help you in some games for the sake of other games where it saves you. The most powerful part of this card is that, unlike every other location management effect, it is only limited by the amount of progress that is on the current quest, so you could theoretically dump 10 progress on a location if you needed to for some reason!

Versatility: ♦♦♦◊◊

Efficiency: ♦♦◊◊◊

Uniqueness: ♦♦◊◊◊

SIDE QUESTS

* Explore Secret Ways (Lore Side Quest, 1 cost, 6 quest points):

 

Speaking of location management, this pack’s side quest focuses on that aspect of play as well:

Limit 1 copy of Explore Secret Ways in the victory display. 

While Explore Secret Ways is in the victory display, each location in the staging area with the same title as the active location does not contribute its  to the total  in the staging area. 

An important point to get out of the way first is that this is absolutely a 3 and 4 player card. You simply won’t generate enough duplicate locations in 1 or 2 player games to make this side quest worthwhile. There are certainly cases where I could see Explore Secret Ways coming in handy in high player count games, and I think back to those moments when me and my fellow players have stared down the barrel of a staging area filled with locations, many of them sharing the same title. This side quest would have allowed us to travel to one of those copies, simultaneously canceling out the threat of 2-3 other locations in the staging area and helping us to avoid location lock. On the other hand, side quests can already be a bit tricky to pull off. You need to make sure you draw and complete them early enough in a game that they pay you back for the effort, and the side quests with 6 quest points or higher, like Explore Secret Ways can be difficult to complete in a single quest phase. For this reason, my suspicion is that other side quests, with more obvious impact, will be chosen long before Explore Secret Ways, and players will choose more straightforward ways to manage locations. Still, I wouldn’t dismiss this as complete binder fodder. Those about to embark upon a 4 player game, especially one that has players spinning their wheels at points and not making progress on the main quest, might consider having one player include this quest.

Versatility: ♦♦◊◊◊

Efficiency: ♦♦◊◊◊

Uniqueness: ♦♦♦◊◊

Conclusion

Overall, this pack is a mix of niche cards and those that are more generally powerful. Those who are looking to flesh out the Harad deck will definitely need this one for Kahliel’s Tribesman. Others should consider grabbing this one for the Steward of Orthanc, an incredibly useful card that can bring both questing and card draw to any deck out there. Finally, Tactics fans should keep their eyes out for Proud Hunters, which allows Tactics decks to bring in resources just by doing what they would be doing anyway.

Readers, what are your thoughts on the player cards of Race Across Harad? Which are the best? Which are the worst?

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3 Comments
  1. emorlecallor permalink

    The wildest, craziest use I can think of for Backtrack is in Pelennor Fields. If you play Dunedain Pathfinder, putting a location in the staging area, you can actually delay advancement past stage 1 because it requires 2 progress to clear and 1 is added at the end of the planning phase. So using Backtrack to move the progress from the quest card to the location buys you an extra round. I actually have a deck that does this (http://ringsdb.com/decklist/view/5616/breaking-pelennor-fields-1.0) and paired with a Caldara deck it gave the Caldara deck 8 extra turns to set up, which meant that the quest was basically over before it began. Just a small corner case for a card I don’t think will see a lot of use, because it seems like you want this to clear locations. You probably just want to slow your advancement, which is why I can also see this card working in scenarios like Conflict at the Carrock or We Must Away, Ere Break of Day.

    Glad you’re not lost in Harad!

  2. Ron tang permalink

    Great post as always. Love the insight on the new cards!

  3. I was sad when I found almost no decks focused on Valour events on ringsdb. Perhaps Steward of Orthanc will make this possible and many underused events will finally see play. The card is perfect for a tactics deck, it can quest, increase threat AND draw cards.

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