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Dungeons of Cirith Gurat: Hero Review

by on October 15, 2018



If Fatty Bolger is the Ringo Starr of Frodo’s Shire crew, meaning an underrated contributor to the whole endeavor, if understandably ignored, then Folco Boffin must surely be the Pete Best, long forgotten by most although he did help get the journey started! For those of you who are still with me despite a foray into Beatles lore, I am of course talking about Folco Boffin because he is the hero of The Dungeons of Cirith Gurat, the fifth Adventure Pack in the Haradrim cycle. At this point in the life of the game, it’s not too surprising to see an obscure character like Folco emerge in hero form, but it is surely a shocking experience to read his ability for the first time. Is Folco Boffin worth including on your adventure (or album) or should he be left back in the Shire? Read on to find out!

HERO

* Folco Boffin (Lore Hero, 7 threat, 2 willpower, 2 attack, 0 defense, 2 hit points):

Yes, you read that right. You can discard Folco from play to lower your threat:

Folco Boffin gets -1 threat cost for each Hobbit hero you control.

Action: Discard Folco Boffin to reduce your threat by 7. (Limit once per game for the group.)          

Folco is now our third hero that can discard themselves for some benefit, with Boromir and Caldara being the other two (although Boromir’s discard ability is really more of a side note to his main ability). Still, somehow the idea of discarding a hero, and thus willfully inflicting on yourself the penalty of losing a hero that is so cruel when the encounter deck is the culprit, is still a tough concept to accept. So what could possibly be the benefit of including this hero?

The first possibility is to use Folco as an escape valve, similar to Lore Aragorn or Favor of the Valar, essentially bailing you out if your threat gets too close to 50. However, I don’t think this is the best use of Folco and a hero slot. There are just too many other good options for this purpose. So the real use of Folco is found in the second possibility, which is to plan to proactively use him to drop your threat so that you can be in secrecy range (or even just extremely low threat). If you start thinking of Folco in terms of being a form of secrecy support, then the picture starts opening up.

So how exactly does this work? First off, remember that Folco has a passive ability that reduces his starting threat by 1 for each Hobbit hero you control. So Folco starts off at an extremely low threat of 6 (his starting threat of 7 minus 1 for himself). This is the lowest in the game aside from Spirit Glorfindel. Pairing Folco with two other Hobbit heroes drops this threat down by a further two, all the way down to 4 (take that Spirit Glorfindel!) and Hobbit heroes tend to have low threat themselves. So if you start with a Frodo, Sam, and Folco trio, for example, that is a starting threat of 19. Or you could use an even lower threat combination, like Merry, Pippin, and Folco, and begin with a starting threat of 16! Essentially, Folco opens up many more secrecy combinations than were possible before. And that’s even before you discard him.

Once you take into account his discard ability, you could even plan for a two hero deck but start with Folco and dump him immediately. So that Merry, Pippin, and Folco deck instead becomes a Merry and Pippin two hero deck with a first round threat of 9. Funnily enough, this means that every two hero deck should just take Folco anyway and discard him right away, because he nets you a starting threat reduction of 1 (his starting threat is always effectively 6 and he discards to bring your threat down by 7).

The alternative to the immediate discard option is to instead keep Folco around and then discard him later to drop yourself back down into secrecy when necessary. So you can start in secrecy while having Folco and his Lore access around to help out, then if you start creeping up to a threat level that will cause enemies to engage, or if you have drawn those additional copies of Resourceful or Timely Aid, you can then discard Folco to reach secrecy once again. By that point, you should be sufficiently set up so that losing a hero actually ends up being a net benefit in terms of what it gets you. The nice thing about this approach is that having an on-demand threat reduction of 7, which is a hefty amount, and that costs nothing in terms of resources, gives you a great deal of control over the pacing of your deck and enemies. This means you can discard Folco if necessary, but if things are looking good, you can also keep him around, depending on the flow of the game.

There isn’t much point to talking about valuable attachments for Folco, since it is usually unwise to invest resources and cards into a hero that might be discarded at any moment! Instead, it’s better to consider which cards are the best for including in a Folco deck, even if they don’t go directly on Folco. Of course, it’s impossible these days, with a more expansive card pool, to cover all the possibilities, but I’ll try to outline the most enticing options:

  • Fast Hitch: Of course, this only makes sense if you are running other Hobbit heroes, but one of the best uses of Folco if you are running a Hobbit-focused secrecy deck is to use his Lore access to play Fast Hitches onto your other two heroes before he is discarded.
  • Resourceful: One of the most powerful secrecy cards is Resourceful. It is one of the few credible alternatives to Steward of Gondor, allowing you to generate an additional resource each turn for the initial outlay of only 1 resource (as long as you’re paying for it in secrecy). With Folco on the board hopefully placing you in initial secrecy range, 3 copies of Resourceful seems like a no-brainer.
  • Lore Card Draw Effects: Lore card draw effects like Daeron’s Runes, Deep Knowledge, or Heed the Dream can let you use Folco’s sphere access in the early game to draw cards. This is especially useful if the spheres of your other two heroes don’t grant you access to much draw. The downside is that if you discard Folco, then you can no longer use these effects and they will become dead cards in your hand. Still, since card draw is potentially most useful in the early game, when you need to quickly see as much of your deck as possible, this might be an option to pursue. It mostly depends on your plan for how quickly you will be ditching Folco. Another approach could be using Folco’s access to play out a card drawing ally like Gleowine, who can consistently draw cards even after Folco is long gone.
  • Henamarth Riversong: This is mostly a solo option, but I like the idea of Henamarth as an early play for a secrecy focused Folco deck. Usually a deck without Lore wouldn’t be able to incorporate strong scrying effects, but Folco brings this to the table, and secrecy-focused decks that are trying to stay under the radar can benefit greatly from foreknowledge about the encounter deck, whether it’s seeing an enemy coming so you can formulate a plan for avoiding them or knowing exactly how much willpower you need so you can control advancement through quest stages. Henamarth is perfect for this purpose because he costs only 1 resource, so he won’t be a huge drain on anything else you want to pay for with Folco’s resources before he goes to the great burrow in the sky.
  • Timely Aid: I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention probably the most powerful secrecy card: Timely Aid. This event is in Leadership, but Folco decks are often secrecy decks and that means you’ll be including Timely Aid if you have access to Leadership.
  • Strider: It’s sometimes easy to forget that the two abilities on Strider have different triggers, one based on number of characters and one based on number of heroes. In a Folco deck, you can make use of both, just at different times. In the early game, when Folco is still on the table, Strider can be a useful source of early willpower since you aren’t likely to have more than 5 characters. Additional sources of cheap willpower are helpful for secrecy decks that need to make sure they can quest successfully, keep pace, and avoid threat gains, and especially helpful for Hobbit secrecy decks that don’t necessarily have a ton of starting willpower amongst the heroes. Then, once Folco is sent to the discard pile, you will have two heroes and the clause related to not exhausting to quest can be used, even if you now have 5 or more characters and can’t use the other ability.

What about Folco as an actual hero though, apart from his ability? He’s actually quite good for his threat cost. With 2 willpower, 2 attack, and 0 defense, he doesn’t really have any wasted stats, as there is no need for him to have any defense, and 2 in the other major stats is quite serviceable. The 2 attack in particular can be surprisingly useful if you find yourself unexpectedly engaged with an enemy, while the 2 willpower is solid enough to help with early questing. Obviously, there’s nothing spectacular about his stats, but they’re good value for his low threat.

Folco is a surprisingly flexible and useful hero, at least compared to what you might think upon first glance. Obviously, his best fit is with a Hobbit secrecy deck, yet I don’t think he is necessarily confined to only that type of build. His low starting threat makes him a decent choice for splashing Lore into a deck. Lore Pippin is still a strong competitor for that spot (as is someone like Bifur), but it’s not altogether out of the question to give the nod to Folco if you think you might need an emergency threat reduction button. Overall, though, his biggest role is as a secrecy enabler and his arrival has definitely has helped take that archetype to a new level.

Versatility: ♦♦♦◊◊

Efficiency: ♦♦♦◊◊

Uniqueness: ♦♦♦♦◊

Possible Attachment Choices: None for himself (However, Resourceful, Fast Hitch, and Strider are good attachment choices in a Folco deck)

Conclusion

Folco Boffin is the kind of hero that could only really be released at this point in the development of the card pool. Early on, it would’ve been too difficult to find the support pieces that he needs for the whole picture to come together, but now this type of hero can flourish. Two hero decks really needed a boost, as it can be difficult to make up for that crucial lack of a hero, particularly in the early game. Folco solves this problem neatly and in a surprisingly simple way: by allowing you start with three heroes and only go down to two when you are ready! This gives you the flexibility of having a third sphere and third resource in order to get your board state going.

Want to see a Folco deck example? Find it here.

Want to see a Folco deck in action? Watch here.

Readers, what are your thoughts on Folco? What are your favorite Folco decks?

From → Reviews

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