While travelling in the Anduin Valley, the heroes come across a fallen Eagle, dreadfully wounded from a recent battle with Goblins, and on the verge of death. Given their location, the heroes attempt to transport the Eagle to Rhosgobel, on the Edge of Mirkwood, in the hope that the wizard Radagast can save the Eagles’s life.
Have you defeated all Trolls from previous adventure pack? Congratulations! However, you will now face one of the toughest task you have experienced yet. Now the greatest enemy won’t be some dreadful enemy, but time. You will fight with time in order to heal and so save Wilyador, a fallen Eagle. If you don’t make it, all your effort will have been in. This is the A Journey to Rhosgobel – scenario, where you have to find curative Athelas, deal with terrible treacheries, avoid attacks of flying enemies and finally heal, heal and heal…
At the beginning, I have one notification for you. In some reviews I unintentionally broke my strict progressive rule. Don’t worry, nothing what would need !SPOILER! warning. During the giving examples of using some cards I have mentioned cards, which wouldn’t properly meet each other – for example, Infighting + Trolls from Conflict at the Carrock. In the progression mode, Infighting is the card from A Journey to Rhosgobel, so you couldn’t use it during the fight with Stuart, Rupert, Louis and Morris from the previous scenario. However, I have found Trolls as a good example for some possible usage of Infighting. What is in “progression mode” forbidden, can be allowed in “normal/unlimited mode”, where you can use cards from any adventure pack or expansion.
Before we will hit the road, for each of adventure pack or expansion I announce these categories of cards:
- TOP CARD – the best card, which really is a success and you should try to include it to your decks
- SHEEP CARD – the opposite of TOP CARD. The weakest card, which really isn’t a success and you should try to avoid it
- MOST ENRICHED SPHERE – sphere, which profits from the new set of cards at most. Heroes are not included in this category.
On the horseback arrives the warrior with the royal blood, Prince Imrahil. Gondor and Noble Leadership hero surprises us with high stats. It’s good to see a strong hero after a long time – previous adventure packs offer us two sober Hobbits, Bilbo Baggins and Frodo Baggins.
The new Leadership hero has 11 starting threat – 1 starting threat less than Aragorn. The message is clear – Prince Imrahil should work as the substitution for Aragorn. I would recommend Prince Imrahil as the hero with the highest starting threat in your party. But let’s analyze his very interesting stats now. This hero can quest with a fair 2 Willpower, he is able to hit enemies considerably with 3 Attack and you won’t be either disappointed with his defending potential, 2 Defense and 4 Hit Points. The stats on Prince Imrahil are very close to those of Aragorn, who has only 1 Hit Point more and has 12 starting threat instead of 11. We have got another very universal hero with wide options of usage, who can manage each of the basic actions. From my point of view, he can go together with any deck, if you want a hero with quality stats.
Aragorn, however, has a very useful keyword Sentinel and controls cool ability, which allows him to ready him immediately after you send him to a quest, for paying 1 resource. But what about Prince Imrahil? Surely, it would be a shame to not use his perfect stats during single round multiple times. He controls this response: “After a character leaves play, ready Prince Imrahil. (Limit once per round.)” Here, instead of paying resource, the cost for a hero readying lies in characters leaving. I would say that I don’t commonly build my strategy based on character leaving. But in this case, leaving doesn’t necessarily mean destroying. On the contrary of cards such as Horn of Gondor, this ability triggers also if some character leaves the play due to their abilities or distinctive effect (for example Gandalf or Winged Guardian). You may ready Prince Imrahil also if you discard your character, either due to the effect of some encounter card or due to the ability of that character, like Westfold Horse-Breaker. By the way, when I’m mentioning this ally, you could make a great combo with Prince Imrahil and ready not only him but also another hero. Readying 2 exhausted heroes in a single round should be considered. I won’t likewise forget Born Aloft, which can be specially used within this “leaving-character-tactic”.
As you see, the usefulness of Prince Imrahil can be increased by the choice of the proper strategy, which doesn’t need the death of your characters. However, why you should be angry with the destroying of some chump blocker, when you may ready this strong hero and use his great attack? Nope, I won’t regret the death of weak character until Prince Imrahil is present in the game.
If I should find any weakness of this card, I would search with difficulty. Though one negative could arise from his ability – you must adapt your strategy and choose suitable allies. Either you should have the sufficient amount of cheap chump blockers, who will serve as the “feed” for his ability, or find the “professional leavers,” which I pointed above (and some other characters from next packs and expansions). You could also use the difficulty of a scenario to your own advantage. A Journey of Rhosgobel is known for really nasty and devastating treacheries, which kill your characters wholesale, so there won’t be a shortage of leaving characters. The bad news is that this concrete scenario contains many enemies, which you can deal only with Ranged character. So Prince Imrahil won’t help you in the combat with Black Forest Bats and Mirkwood Flocks.
Prince Imrahil is an astonishing new versatile character with a good set of stats and nice ability. Around it, you may build a very variable strategy, but it would probably demand the presence of another sphere (Tactic, Spirit). And of course, count with that ability isn’t unrestricted – you may use it only once per round.
The new adventure pack doesn’t disappoint us due to the appearing of another Leadership attachment from the Signal family. The seriously looking hobbit from the picture looks like he holds some important message. What he carries? Is it also important for us?
Dúnedain Quest is the first Signal, which costs 2 resources. The rest of the characteristics of this card are the same as at the other Signals. You attach it to a hero and use the action, which allows you to move this attachment from one hero to another for 1 cost, and you also get 1 stat – Willpower. The good and cheap reputation of Signal is a little bit broken with the appearance of this card. For 2 cost you get only 1 stat – that means a worse exchange for you. You suddenly realize that the same bad exchange at The Favor of the Lady wasn’t just some coincidence. If you remember, The Favor of the Lady offers you 1 Willpower for 2 cost. I have raised the protest within the own review of that Spirit attachment, where I didn’t accept that exaggerated exchange. The past is repeating and Dúnedain Quest comes with the same effect for the same cost. It really looks like that designers at the beginning of LOTR LCG saw Willpower as the more precious stat than Defense and Attack, for which you must pay more resources. I can’t agree with such an inequality – if you pay the same cost for Dúnedain Warning as for Dúnedain Mark (where I see Defense more valuable stat than Attack), then I don’t understand the different approach to Willpower. All stats should simply cost equally.
However, I see Dúnedain Quest a little bit in a more positive light than The Favor of the Lady. The reason is the “secondary ability”. The Favor of the Lady hasn’t any adjusting ability, action or response, which would persuade us about its quality, and so I try to forget this card as fast as possible. Dúnedain Quest has at least some minor ability, which allows us to use tactics to some extent. Moving this attachment among different heroes (and eventually different players) creates some flexibility in questing. If attached hero stops to be appropriate quester from any reason (for example he is crippled by some treachery Condition, like Caught in a Web or Sacked!), you may detach Dúnedain Quest from him and attach it to your hero or hero of another player. You just have to think and calculate with 1 resource, which you must pay for this action. Because of that, I can’t evaluate Dúnedain Quest in the same way as The Favor of the Lady. I can state that Dúnedain Quest isn’t a miracle or necessary card. You’ll probably try to find some better alternatives as soon as possible. But compared to The Favor of the Lady, you at least gain some “secondary ability”, which means more flexibility and usefulness.
The Leadership section ends with the event called Parting Gifts. According to the name, we may expect the generous card, whose effect donates us or our team players. For free, we are allowed to move any number of resources from Leadership hero to our another hero, or a hero of another player. Note that heroes belonging to another sphere can utilize Parting Gifts as well, if you have some cards, which adds another sphere icon. For example, with Song of Kings attached to Glorfindel, you may move resources from him during the effect of Parting Gifts.
That was just a brief explanation at the beginning, now I’m going to analyze Parting Gifts as a whole. This new incoming event resolves the important issue – the frequent lack of resources within some spheres. Surely, every sphere can face the problem of resources shortage, but I see the Lore sphere as the most endangered sphere with regard to resources. Parting Gifts doesn’t offer you a long-term solution, like Steward of Gondor. However, if you necessarily need more resources, thanks to Parting Gifts you will obtain them from a hero, which doesn’t need them currently.
Parting Gifts perfectly fits one Core hero, namely Glóin. When I play with Glóin, no matter what I take for other cards, I always find the place for 2-3 copies of this event. The reason for that is obvious. Glóin serves as the superb “resource factory” – let him block some attacks and from exceeding damage you gain extra resources. It’s a great ability by itself, you can generate resources for the Leadership sphere as well as for other spheres (for example, with the help of Songs). But let’s assume you don’t have any Song in your hands or you just don’t add some Songs to your deck. Glóin has many unused resources, while Glorfindel from the Lore sphere has none. I chose Glorfindel intentionally because he 1) belongs to the Lore sphere (so resources scarcity is the common phenomenon), and 2) has the ability, which demands additional resource for the healing. Combo Glóin-Glorfindel works well. But our Glorfindel needs more resources, because of his ability, which heals Glóin, and because of playing other Lore cards. Parting Gifts allows Glóin to move resources from his resource pool to Glorfindel’s resource pool. Thus Glorfindel gains an advantage in the form of newly acquired resources. For free, you decide to move any number of resources from Leadership hero to another hero. Cool!
I would recommend playing Parting Gifts in dual- or trisphere decks, where its help is needed at most. Simultaneously, the right time for playing Parting Gifts comes in the mid and late game. Why? Because in the early game you have often limited options and of course the limited number of resources. You have to build your army, boost heroes by proper attachments and save resources for abilities and events. You just need to make your base strong. At this moment is playing Parting Gifts disadvantageous. Wait for a couple of rounds, when you start to gather resources to a bigger extent, then Parting Gifts will become most effective. But if you need some resources very urgently, you can also use Parting Gifts as the “first aid” and move only 1 resource from one hero to another.
Parting Gifts is a great card for Leadership decks and decks, which aims for resource acceleration and generation. One-time “resource-injection” may help you significantly if you need to pay for more cards or some expensive card. I have mentioned the Lore sphere, but also the Tactic and Spirit sphere can benefit from this event. I think that Parting Gifts should accompany Glóin in the first place. But even without this Dwarf, Parting Gifts deserves to be the part of your Leadership sideboard decks.
If you thought that Tactic sphere has already given us enough of strong, variable creatures, then you will be undeceived now. From the sky the giant Eagle, called Landroval, is coming down, ready to save the most important characters in a game…
But I won’t anticipate, let’s start nicely from the beginning. Landroval is for 5 cost and so he is becoming the second most expensive Tactic ally (after Beorn) until this moment. 1 Willpower, 3 Attack, 1 Defense and 4 Hit Points are stats, which seems pretty interesting to me. We know immediately, for which role will fit this Eagle at the best. Of course, 1 Willpower at Tactic sphere is something “considerable” and you may use it in a critical situation. But I’m saying that attacking is the primary task for this 5-cost Eagle. For 3 Attack wouldn’t be ashamed even a hero, let alone an ally. You must admit, that unique symbol makes sense here and that Landroval deserves to be a “special ally”.
His uniqueness is supported by the next game text. Though I was speaking about attacking as the primary task of Landroval, Sentinel keyword says, that the defending should be considered as another possible task for this ally – 1 Defense with 4 Hit Points prevents many average enemies to hurt you or hurt your friends. We actually meet the more expensive and complex version of Winged Guardian, which has Sentinel as well. Both Eagles share one more curiosity (or rather restriction); they can’t have attached Restricted attachments. Because we don’t own any Restricted attachment for allies, this limitation we can put aside at this time. The real power of Landroval, however, hides in his mighty Response: “After a hero card is destroyed, return Landroval to his owner’s hand to put that hero back into play, with 1 damage token on it. (Limit once per game.)” Landroval’s ability is the true moving force, which induces you to (not) include him to your decks. If circumstances play against you and you lose a hero, the near game over usually follows. With Landroval on the board, you actually save the hero, with only 1 damage token on that hero. That’s a quite fair exchange. The only problem is, you have to pay new 5 resources for playing Landroval again, but with regard to the possible loss of the hero, this is only an insignificant matter. You rather should know that Landroval’s ability won’t save any attachments, which has owned the saved hero. Everything at him goes right to the discard pile.
I found that limit “once per game” raises some questions across the community. Does that mean I can use it only once per game per Landroval, per player, per whole game? What does it mean? Look into LOTR LCG FAQ (1.51 Limitations on card effects): “…if a card has a limit of “once per game,” that limitation is specific to the player who triggered it.” So if Landroval 1 of player 1 uses the ability to save a hero, player 1 can’t use this ability anymore. But it doesn’t concern player 2, who can have own Landroval 2. Landroval 2 still may use his ability… Shortly, the limitation is applied to a player, not to one concrete Landroval, neither the whole board.
At the end of this review, I want to compare Landroval to another “saving-hero” card from the Core set – Fortune or Fate. Both cards share very similar effects, yet the utilization differs quite noticeably. Fortune or Fate is one-time Spirit event, which may (not) appear during the game – depends, how critical is the situation. It may stay in your hands forever. Landroval, on the contrary, is the ally, whose presence depends purely on your resources, he doesn’t need to wait for a “suitable opportunity.” His magic lies in unconditionality – you gain the strong character, who “by the way” controls very useful ability. From this point of view, I prefer Landroval to Fortune or Fate without any hesitation.
The only hesitation concerns Landroval himself – do I really need such expensive ally, moreover with “resurrection ability”, when I try to avoid losing hero as much as possible? It depends on your playing style and your own confidence. If you think you can win the game without any “safeguard”, then Landroval would mean the superfluous luxury. But if you miss some strong ally, you run Eagle deck, you need some Sentinel-ally or you are afraid of some hard scenario, Landroval can always fly from the sky, catch your knocked out hero and land with an almost fresh and ready hero.
When I’m browsing Tactic cards from Shadows of Mirkwood cycle and come across To the Eyrie, I always stop and fix eyes on the beautiful scenery. I admire this picture with wild mountains and eagles gliding above them. Otherwise, I always read the effect of this event, because I don’t remember it. I don’t use this card at all, it’s unknown to me. And after reading it, I put To the Eyrie back to a cardpool. Do you ask, why I’m not interested in this Tactic event?
When is some ally destroyed, you choose 1 Eagle character, exhaust him and move that destroyed ally from the discard pile to its owner’s hand. For this effect, you pay 2 Tactic resources. That is the whole magic of To the Eyrie. Like other cards with too many preconditions (Rain of Arrows, Strength of Will), we feel that the usability of this card is very, very limited and situational. Using To the Eyrie in practice may happen in 1 game from perhaps 10 games. You have to wait for the right opportunity. First, an ally must be destroyed. Well, that’s not hard precondition – almost every round some allies fall under the pressure of enemies. I’m okay with it, but now follows the second and more demanding precondition – you have to own Eagle character. You should think about the sufficient number of Eagle characters in your deck because due to a few Eagles it doesn’t worth it to have To the Eyrie. So it counts rather with pure Eagle decks, not with common, non-Eagle Tactic decks.
!SPOILER! That doesn’t mean Eagles belong to only Eagle deck. Some of them you will use almost in every Tactic deck, no matter of the chosen strategy. Such Vassal of the Windlord is so good cheap ally that I often can’t imagine to miss him in any Tactic deck. Same is valid for Winged Guardian.
Okay, we have Eagle on the board and some poor ally was destroyed. Now the final precondition is coming; you must exhaust Eagle character to save the ally from your discard pile. And I shouldn’t forget, prepare 2 resources for the whole happening. So many “you must count with…” cause my overall reluctance to use this event, even if I had fulfilled all preconditions. The bad timing won’t help this card either. You can see that the right time for To the Eyrie is coming during the Combat phase, when you count with as many characters as possible, not excluding Eagle characters. The question is if that exhausted Eagle worth it for a destroyed ally. I hesitate to resurrect some weak allies and chump blockers due to the complexity of this event. Thus I would use it for the strong and exceptional allies. Gandalf is the first possible target, which comes to my mind at first, but in Shadows of Mirkwood, there are not many super-strong enemies, which would overcome Gandalf in the straight fight.
!SPOILER! Maybe buffed Chieftan Ufthak, Hunters from Mordor or one disgusting Attercop, Attercop.
Maybe destroyed Beorn, Faramir, Northern Tracker, Landroval would worth it for saving. Then I can imagine use To the Eyrie in a real game. But I can also imagine that this event would cost 0, just because of the complexity, and that the ally returns to the board, not back to the hands. You pay extra resources for something very impractical and it costs you more than simpler Stand and Fight. And as if it wasn’t enough, the trait Eagle is missing here – forget for the synergy with The Eagles Are Coming!.
I see that To the Eyrie throws obstacles in the way as much as possible, although player cards should help you, not bully you. Finally, I can answer to my question from the beginning of this review: why I’m not interested in this event? Too many preconditions, incomprehensible 2 cost, missing Eagle trait and aiming for allies (in the case of heroes it should be something diametrically different, but this place has taken Landroval already). Because of that, I will always admire the beautiful scenery of this event, but nothing more ever.
A Journey to Rhosgobel introduces us the one of the most powerful ally-quester, we encounter in the whole game. If we were unhappy with Spirit allies, unable to quest properly, from this time we don’t have to be afraid of questing anymore. Escort from Edoras offers us Willpower more than enough.
Finally, we’ve got the ally, who makes the honor to the sphere, where he belongs. If we have Tactic ally, we are expecting sufficient quality in attacking. And if we have Spirit ally, we are expecting sufficient quality in questing. For 2 cost we have got 2 Willpower, 0 Attack, 0 Defense and only 1 Hit Point, which means the total focus for the questing effort. From the simple point of view, 2 cost for 2 Willpower is very good (and should be standard) exchange. Especially, if we know that Willpower is valued more than Attack or Defense (look for example at The Favor of the Lady, Dúnedain Quest or Éomund). Until this point, I would review this ally as the proper quester. However, what makes Escort from Edoras so special compared to other allies? 2 default Willpower is just illusion – in fact, his Willpower reaches higher numbers. While Escort from Edoras is committed to a quest, he gains +2 Willpower. Shortly, for 2 resources you receive the ally with 4 Willpower. That’s just crazy value. We haven’t seen such an advantageous exchange yet. Only the hero Éowyn can show off 4 and more Willpower. Escort from Edoras is the right answer for situations like “location lock” or if you need to push hard through the current quest. Nobody else than him can help you more effectively, at least not from the current (in a progressive meaning) cardpool.
!SPOILER! If you ask, why Escort from Edoras has 2 Willpower + 2 Willpower from the game text and not directly 4 Willpower, it matters in some very exceptional situations or scenarios. During the scenario Dead Marshes you are forced to undergo Escape tests, where you are comparing the Willpower strength against the “Escape” value. Using Escort from Edoras in this test means he doesn’t get +2 Willpower boost, because he isn’t committed to a quest, but to the Escape test (thus, you won’t discard Escort from Edoras at the end of the turn).
Such super-quester would be overpowered reinforcement, but wise designers decide to limit his abilities in a clever and very simple way; after resolving the quest you must discard this ally from the play. I consider this for a fair condition – if you want to quest for 4 Willpower, for just 2 resources, then you must agree it’s only one-time aid. After this boost, you should assure your Willpower strength in another way.
Escort from Edoras comes to play like the questing windstorm and he will disappear as suddenly as he came. Has he any weaknesses at all? Of course. Your 4 Willpower boost can be potentially erased by some treacheries, which deal direct damage. We know The Necromancer’s Reach very well from the previous adventures. But A Journey to Rhosgobel has far worse treacheries, which harm our characters almost on a global scale. When you draw Exhaustion or Swarming Insects, it means instant KO for Escort from Edoras and for many other allies (God forbid heroes). Luckily, our new ally is the part of the Spirit sphere, where exists cards like A Test of Will or Eleanor. Remember this due to committing Escort from Edoras to a quest – he is a very powerful, but also very fragile ally at the same time.
If you still feel bad taste after the last Spirit attachment Nor am I a Stranger, I guarantee you that Ancient Mathom pleases you much more. Although after reading a few beginning words you get deja vu. Attach to a location. Wait, have we seen it already? Yeah, it was “famous” Power in the Earth from Core set, one of the most useless cards we have encountered. But don’t worry, you won’t decrease Threat Strength of a location again. This time you give a present, like on Christmas – after exploring the attached location, the First player draws 3 cards. A nice reward for exploring a location, isn’t it? I think it’s good that the Spirit sphere has got own card with the drawing effect – until now, this effect was exclusive for the Lore sphere and Leadership sphere to a minor extent. Well, it’s a truth you can’t choose, which player will draw these 3 cards. The First player is the target of Ancient Mathom. If you wish to draw cards in a multiplayer environment, then it is necessary to calculate a bit and explore the location in the same round as you become the First player. And that’s not an easy task, moreover, you would look like a selfish, non-team person. I recommend you to calculate when some player needs its 3 cards at most.
Ancient Mathom’s exchange “1 resource for 3 cards” is excellent. Just remember “3 for 3” at Lórien’s Wealth, where the exchange is understandable, still too much expensive in the majority of cases. Ancient Mathom won’t give you 3 cards immediately, we must be objective. You have to wait for triggering its effect, additionally, you must make some effort to obtain your reward. Logically, when location lock appears or you have attached the wrong location, which from some reason can’t be explored, then you waste Ancient Mathom and you can forget about drawing 3 cards. You should think about the best option, which location worth it for attaching. However, some cards can simplify your choice. For example, when you explore the attached location in the staging area, thanks to the ability of Northern Tracker or Snowbourn Scout, you may draw 3 cards without any problem. That’s because putting last quest token on the location in the staging area is considered for exploring the location as well.
The problem with Ancient Mathom can occur in the case of location, which is “immune to player card effects”. What does it mean? You are not allowed to target that immune card with your characters, abilities, events, and attachments. So for example, Skalbal can’t be attached by Ancient Mathom or Power in the Earth and you can’t put quest token on it due to the ability of Northern Tracker, Snowbourn Scout or Lórien’s Guide.
Do you need some card with drawing effect, but you don’t run the Lore sphere at all? I think that Ancient Mathom can serve you well. It’s the useful utility attachment, which only needs some time to trigger its generous effect.
We desperately need a good Lore ally. Until now, we have got no good attacker or defender, and Rivendell Minstrel as the quester is not enough. It would have been useful if that ally had been for a reasonable cost. Frankly, Haldir of Lórien isn’t a cheap ally – it’s good to tell you at the beginning of the review. However, in his case, I don’t mind. We finally encounter a very high-quality ally, we have been looking for a long time.
For playing Haldir of Lórien you have to save 4 resources. But for that, you get 2 Willpower, 2 Attack, 2 Defense and 3 Hit Points. Lore sphere can show off one of the most multifunctional allies we have met so far. Add Sentinel and Ranged keywords and you know that you may rely on him absolutely in anything. The unique symbol makes sense here because Haldir of Lórien looks like the half-hero. He outmatches even some heroes we have got (Eleanor, Bilbo).
I really admire his flexibility. 2 Attack with Ranged can help other players when they are endangered by some enemy. However, I see his Ranged keyword more important due to the new scenario A Journey to Rhosgobel, in which he has just jumped in. We should prepare for 2 new troublesome enemies, which can make wrinkles on your forehead – Black Forest Bats and Mirkwood Flock. You can’t defend or attack both enemies, except you control Eagle or Ranged characters. If you don’t run the Eagle deck or Tactic sphere at all, only Ranged characters can save you before the undefended attack. And believe me, you really don’t want to let your attack undefended in this scenario. In another way, you risk the valuable Hit Points of Wyliador, Eagle which you have to protect at any rate, or greater damage, which would be dealt to your characters (Festering Wounds). I want to say, that Haldir of Lórien is coming just at the right time and to the sphere, which needs him at most. Great timing!
And about his Sentinel; Lore sphere is getting own “defender pro” (excluding Denethor as the hero). I consider 2 Defense with 3 Hit Points for above-average values for the ally, which stops many common enemies. In conjunction with Sentinel keyword, Haldir of Lórien makes happy all around the board and makes unhappy the encounter deck.
!SPOILER! Haldir of Lórien is going to become really strong when the first synergies with Silvan trait appear (Celeborn, The Tree People, O Lórien). However, even the Ranged keyword, which we will meet in the earlier packs and expansions, is suitable for boosting Haldir of Lórien (Light of Valinor, Rivendell Blade, Rivendell Bow). A great future for this ally awaits, undoubtedly.
Questing, defending, attacking and helping others… everything you remember can Haldir of Lórien handle. I’m very glad Lore sphere is enriched by an ally of such quality because, in my point of view, the Lore sphere was quite bad in the supply of allies. Certainly, you have to get together 4 Lore resources, what is the challenge by itself. Nevertheless, Haldir of Lórien worth for this cost. With him at your side, allies gain powerful reinforcement.
The Lore event named Infighting offers very interesting new effect, which we haven’t encountered yet. I would call it the “enemy-control” card. It costs 1 resource and has Action: “Move any number of damage from one enemy to another.” Controlling enemies by the number of moved damage tokens from one to another is a really original idea. Thematically, I must applaud – designers successfully simulated the situation, when you forced enemies (by some spell) to fight among each other. OR it reflects the common nature of foes to “not cooperate”. We encounter spiders, wargs, trolls, variable creatures and of course orcs – orcs are known for the wild nature, which can cause indiscipline in their own ranks. We have seen it in movies and read it in books. So why shouldn’t be this aspect shown in LOTR LCG? Just consider, how many kinds of variable enemies stand against you? It has to fray at the edges sometimes.:)
But now seriously… moving damage tokens among enemies gives you interesting tactic options, which can work well if you use it correctly. In general, you have 4 different options, how you may use Infighting and I’m going to describe you all of them (note: weak enemies = 3 Hit Points and lower, strong enemies = above 3 Hit Points):
1) From weak enemies to weak enemies: you barely get into a situation, where you are transferring damage between 2 weak enemies. The reason is simple: you kill the weak enemies earlier before you can do anything. Killing enemies with 3 Hit Points is mostly the issue of one attack. However, there exist weak enemies, which you want to destroy, but their abilities or high Defense prevents to do so. Goblin Sniper or all the time returning Wargs are typical examples. The best option for destroying them in a clever way lies in using Infighting with the support of direct-damaging effects – for example, with Thalin’s ability. Dealing 1 damage to every revealing enemy and prompt moving damage from one weak enemy to another can lead to the death of the affected enemy. Such Gondorian Spearman or Longbeard Orc Slayer can help you in your effort as well.
!SPOILER! I can’t skip Goblin Archer, which I consider for a good example of the weak enemy with low Hit Points, but high Defense. It’s an ideal target for Infighting.
2) From weak enemies to strong enemies: using Infighting, in this case, will be probably rare because no real and practical advantage will arise from that. Moving 1-2 damage to a strong enemy won’t resolve anything by itself. For enemies with a bunch of Hit Points, it’s just scratch.
3) From strong enemies to strong enemies: theoretically, it could be possible to move many damage tokens from the strong enemy to another strong and, at the same time, damaged enemy, and kill him spectacularly. The question is, how often do you encounter more strong enemies at once? If I skip the very late game, when you “collect” all enemies in quick succession, generally you attempt to encounter strong enemies one by one. Fighting with 2 Hill Trolls, Nazgúl of Dol Guldur and Ungoliant’s Spawn, or Louis, Morris, Rupert and Stuart at the same time, would often mean certain suicide. You would have to own great offensive strength to handle with more strong enemies.
4) From strong enemies to weak enemies: here I see the biggest chance, where Infighting can shine and where can be most useful. How is it possible? In the combo with Forest Snare. Imagine you catch Ungoliant’s Spawn to Forest Snare in the scenario A Journey to Rhosgobel. This spider has respectable 9 Hit Points. Enemy attached by Forest Snare can’t attack, so you may damage him as much as you wish. Now, we need some weak, but very troublesome enemies, which can make things hot. In this scenario, this role will perform Black Forest Bats and Mirkwood Flock. No Ranged characters or Eagles are in reach and both enemies endanger us by their abilities. Infighting is a very good solution in this case – just hit trapped Ungoliant’s Spawn and move a couple of damage tokens to one of the mentioned enemies (only to one enemy by one Infighting). The enemy is destroyed without the loss of any single character. Cool thing!
Okay, I won’t lie you that Infighting is an amazing event in every situation or every scenario. You won’t find a free place or good using for this event many times. BUT, don’t reject Infighting just because the effect seems a bit complicated. Pick one certain scenario, where you could use it and test it in practice. I think it’s worth a try.
As always, the reviews of player cards from certain adventure pack/expansion is closed by the Neutral card. But A Journey to Rhosgobel makes an exception when introducing a non-Song player card. The sequential appearing of neutral Song cards, which add the resource icon of different spheres, is suddenly interrupted by incoming new Neutral ally. New players are surprised by this unexpected change for sure, as I was for the first time. And our new ally is nobody else than another Istari, the famous order of wizards, where also Gandalf and Saruman belong. Meet the Radagast.
We might be glad that Radagast is a Neutral ally – 5 cost won’t hurt you so much as 5 cost of any other sphere. However, if we consider that Gandalf costs also 5 resources and he has magnificent stats (4 Willpower, 4 Attack, 4 Defense and 4 Hit Points), our smiles freeze, when we are looking at Radagast’s stats: 2 Willpower, 1 Attack, 1 Defense and 3 Hit Points. From the sight of stats, Radagast lags behind Gandalf in every stat. The comparison with Gandalf from the view of stats can kill our interest in Radagast very quickly. Maybe it should show us the quality difference between two wizards, where one is almost half-god, and second is just inconspicuous conjurer, beyond all important events. But before the final judge, we must analyze him completely.
The main advantage against Gandalf lies in “permanence” – he won’t leave you before the new round. The best and very specific thing about Radagast is that he collects the resources as heroes – 1 resource per resource phase. Nobody else we have encountered can collect resources, and it’s really helpful. However, these resources can’t be used for playing any kind of cards. There is a limit: Radagast’s resources can be used to pay only for Creature cards played from your hand. What does it actually mean? In practice, Radagast has great synergy with Eagle allies, because all of them have Creature trait.
!SPOILER! There are several non-Eagle and Creatures allies, which can be paid from Radagast’s resource pool, like the Riddermark’s Finest, Wild Stallion or Giant Bear. However, they are rather exceptions and you won’t meet many Creature allies through the whole LOTR LCG.
With progressive discovering of Eagles and developing their potential, Radagast is coming to help us with summoning them to a play. It makes sense because Eagles generally don’t belong to very cheap allies. You would have to rely on the help of “resource-generators” like Steward of Gondor or Horn of Gondor or spend all your resources and effort to building Eagle army without space to do anything else. Radagast is an option, or better, a mandatory component of any Eagle decks, just because you can pay from his “free resource pool” and save resources from heroes at the same time. If you want to play such expensive Eagle like Landroval, it suffices when you pay 3 resources from Radagast and 2 resources from some Tactic hero. In fact, you pay only 2 regular resources for Landroval, the rest of the resources are “for free”, from Radagast’s pool. I like this positive look at Radagast’s ability.
I often forgot that Radagast controls one more ability; for X resources he may heal X damage from any 1 Creature. In common speaking, you can heal damage from Eagles. I appreciate Radagast’s complexity. Healing of Eagles is a quite nice bonus for sure. It’s not a coincidence that Radagast appears in A Journey to Rhosgobel, where your primary task lies in healing Wilyador. Radagast represents one of the possible ways, how to heal this character. However, if you are located in stage 2B of A Journey to Rhosgobel and heal at most 5 damage from Wilyador (because more healed damage from a single effect/ability is prohibited), then you must say goodbye to Radagast, as the Forced effect of stage 2B demands. Besides, I consider his healing ability for a luxury. I rather spend his resources for Eagles than saving resources for healing them. The personal point of view.
To be honest – I can’t imagine to include Radagast outside of Eagle deck. He is not actually Eagle-dependent card, so you can play him in any deck as normal Neutral ally. But without paying and healing Creatures, he loses own sense. 5 cost for very miserable stats I wouldn’t accept in any way. So if you want to play Radagast meaningfully, only with the Eagle company. There he may excel and support you noticeably with the calling Eagles to a game.
On a black horse, Prince Imrahil is coming, with a super set of stats and ability. We have got a good alternative to well-known Aragorn, without Sentinel keyword, but with the lower starting threat at the same time. He may ready during the round anytime, when another character leaves play. Instead of paying a resource (Aragorn) you have to pay with ally’s life. The sacrifice of an ally isn’t as simple as paying resource, but with a little bit practice and well-chosen strategy, Prince Imrahil can defend twice, attack twice or defend and then attack, on the contrary of Aragorn, who prepares only when he is committed to a quest. Leadership sphere gets very quality reinforcement.
In the previous adventure pack, allies were a great weakness. Just remember on cards like Beorning Beekeeper, Longbeard Map-Maker or Éomund – no resounding names, only disappointments. On the contrary, A Journey to Rhosgobel introduces high-tonnage reinforcements, with average 4 cost. The cheapest from them, Escort from Edoras, can be found in the majority of Spirit decks due to his great questing potential. 2 cost for 4 Willpower? Absolutely remarkable! I fully understand that he fills the one-time role – just comes in, makes a significant work and then leave again. There is no doubt about his fantastic contribution.
Lore sphere gets own champion as well, finally; the unique ally Haldir of Lórien. Almost his every stat outperforms stats of other current allies (in progression meaning), excluding Rivendell Minstrel with 2 Willpower. Additionally, Sentinel and Ranged keywords give him the multifunctional role – if you need to help with any task, Haldir of Lórien accomplish your mission. I have no problem with his 4 cost, he deserves such a valuation.
Eagle decks are enriched by two, 5-cost allies: Landroval and Radagast. Though each of them belongs to a different sphere, you surely will count with them during the building of Eagle deck. The giant Eagle Landroval shows not only the interesting stats but also a unique ability, which saves leaving hero from the game. At this moment, I would prefer Landroval before Fortune or Fate completely – both share almost the identical effect, but with Landroval you gain a proper ally, who becomes involved in the combat. And for the same cost. Cool, I have to say. And Radagast is an ally, who should help you with paying such expensive allies like Landroval. He fills the support role in Eagle decks, so it would be a shame to let him unused in your cardpool.
To allies, I have just one objection: that Leadership sphere doesn’t enrich us by any ally.
Where A Journey to Rhosgobel offers the strong choice of allies, the quality of events is more modest. Parting Gifts belongs to the better one. Moving resources from one hero to another can sometimes come in handy. You just need to adjust conditions for the right functioning of this event – think up, how to generate more resources (Steward of Gondor, Glóin) and who could utilize the extra resources at most. Infighting isn’t bad event either. We were gifted by the effect, which enables to have control over the damage of enemies. Distributing damage tokens among the enemies belongs to a very interesting and unfamiliar way, how to regulate numbers of enemies. I definitely recommend you to use Infighting in a case when moved damage tokens would mean the death of the affected enemy.
On the contrary, the effect of returning destroyed ally by the exhaustion of 1 Eagle ally doesn’t seem very crucial. To the Eyrie isn’t an event, which I would need necessarily in my Eagle decks. Many preconditions of this card prevent me from even thinking about it.
No miracles, no fail – events from A Journey to Rhosgobel doesn’t belong to most memorable, but complete overlooking and forgetting Parting Gifts or Infighting wouldn’t be fair.
Just two attachments we meet in A Journey to Rhosgobel: Dúnedain Quest and Ancient Mathom. The first attachment should help us with questing. Though boosting Willpower is quite desired effect, Dúnedain Quest suffers the syndrome of “overpriced Willpower,” as other cards from Shadows of Mirkwood cycle. For me, I have no reason to search the place in a deck for this card. The second attachment gives the First player 3 cards for exploring the attached location. It demands a bit of practice to give cards to the desired player, but drawing cards without much effort is always very nice utility; especially in Spirit sphere, where cards with this kind of effects haven’t existed yet.
We won’t remember A Journey to Rhosgobel because of attachments – there are no valuable jewels, nor super-useful utilities, which should be auto-included. At least Ancient Mathom worth it for including to your Spirit decks, if you are searching for cheap and simple attachment.
I see as the very funny thing, that in Conflict at the Carrock we needed quality allies to fight Trolls and we haven’t got any good ally. A Journey to Rhosgobel is known for the powerful damaging treacheries, despite that our arsenal was enriched by all the strong allies, which we have wished one adventure pack before.
One of the most powerful allies (but not meaning powerful from the view of combat skills) is Escort from Edoras – for me the absolute TOP CARD and champion of this pack. He is so useful in quest-pushing that I don’t remember any of my Spirit deck without him. You feel his only weakness during the revealing of damaging treachery. If you don’t own some card with cancelation effect, Escort from Edoras will get the worst of it. If I have to proclaim second TOP CARD, I would have to resolve the dilemma between an ally Haldir of Lórien and a hero Prince Imrahil. Both are great, multifunctional, versatile, reliable and honorable characters, which frighten enemies. We also shouldn’t forget to mention Landroval and Radagast, the perfect reinforcements for Eagle decks (and in the case of Landroval, the interesting choice for any Tactic deck due to his “resurrection” ability).
Well, one more card is trying to make room within Eagle decks – To the Eyrie. This event should utilize the presence of Eagles in play to save allies from death. However, it is somehow worse with the practicality. The promising and nice minor effect is wrecked by a mix of the necessity of ready Eagle and returning destroyed ally to its owner’s hand. Thus you have to pay for playing that ally again. Not surprisingly, To the Eyrie is the SHEEP CARD, which you probably won’t ever touch.
I have two personal finalists, who could be claimed for MOST ENRICHED SPHERE. Among finalists, I haven’t put Tactics, Leadership, and Neutral spheres. Why not them? Tactic sphere gets “Super-eagle” Landroval, but also To the Eyrie, the most useless card of A Journey to Rhosgobel. Leadership sphere has a quite weak offer here – Dúnedain Quest isn’t a good card and Parting Gifts won’t save the reputation. And as for Neutral – I like Radagast. If you mean it at least a bit seriously with Eagles, Radagast shouldn’t be skipped in your decks. But Radagast himself isn’t a shining star because of his limited usage. In non-Eagle decks, there isn’t any reason for playing him (as I said in his review, there are just a few non-Eagle Creatures, which could utilize the Radagast’s services). So it is purely between Spirit and Lore sphere. And after long thinking, I would again see the Lore sphere as MOST ENRICHED SPHERE. I was convinced about Spirit sphere for a long time, just because of the presence Escort from Edoras, who is, unlike Haldir of Lórien, very cheap and you can do for this cost great things. In other words, it should be an auto-included card. But it is just the Lore sphere, which needs some ally-savior because there is a lack of quality allies. Haldir of Lórien can do everything literally – questing, attacking, defending. And Infighting versus Ancient Mathom? Though I prefer Ancient Mathom from the view of simplicity and straightforwardness, Infighting offers a unique effect, which opens interesting tactical options.
A Journey to Rhosgobel doesn’t belong to my most favourite scenarios. Still, I appreciate the undoubtedly quality of player cards, namely allies. If I hadn’t bought adventure packs and expansions in sequential order, still I would have picked this pack because of the great choice of allies, and enjoyable minor utilities.
ESCORT FROM EDORAS
TO THE EYRIE
MOST ENRICHED SPHERE
LORE SPHERE (HALDIR OF LÓRIEN + INFIGHTING)