The heroes continue their journey northward to Rivendell, escorting Arwen to visit her father Elrond. But the road is long, and Orcs ambush the party along the way. With enemies hounding the heroes’ steps, the weather drives the party ever closer to the looming mountains, and the dangers they hold.
Even after the journey in Misty Mountains, Arwen Undómiel is still with you. Your mission to escort her to Elrond hasn’t still ended, although Rivendell is close. The harassing Orcs don’t surrender in order to aggravate your mission. They wait for any occasion to ambush you. You must pay attention because if you ease up, Orcs will overpower you and finally defeat you.
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.
And here he comes… the brother of Elrohir I have talked about last time as a spoiler is introduced in Road to Rivendell – the Tactic hero Elladan. You surely won’t be surprised that Elladan’s stats are almost the mirror of Elrohir’s stats: 10 starting threat, 2 Willpower, 1 Attack, 2 Defense and 4 Hit Points. As at Elrohir, though stats suggest this hero is a competent quester and defender, the opposite is true – you will use Elladan for his attacking potential. How is that possible you find out from his passive ability, which says that Elladan gets +2 Attack if Elrohir in the game. You also shouldn’t wonder that this hero shares with his brother the same Response – just that instead of declaring him as a defender you will have to declare him as an attacker and pay 1 resource from him if you want to ready him. This is the only difference between these two heroes.
I think that a good and omnipresent defender is a bit more useful than a good and omnipresent attacker. Why? Because firstly you have to block enemies in order to you may attack them. At the same time, a quality defender has at least 3 Defense and a couple of Hit Points. Enemies in Khazad-Dum have on average around 3 Attack. Except for really strong enemies (read with 5 and more Attack), you either block an enemy completely without a scratch or an enemy harms your defender, but not seriously, depends on possible shadow effect. So with a defender, you may do a lot of work and save others. On the contrary, an attacker with 3 Attack (as Elladan in the presence of Elrohir) has to rely on the help of other attackers, because destroying an average enemy in Khazad-Dum needs at least 4-5 Attack. You have to overcome the Defense of the enemy to deal him damage. With only 3 Attack you probably won’t get rid of the majority of enemies. The quality attacker either needs to have higher than 3 Attack, or he must cooperate with other attackers. For this reason, I think that Elrohir owns a bit (really a little bit) more useful Response than Elladan, for the same cost – 1 resource for readying.
It’s a matter of course that the usefulness and flexibility of both heroes are dramatically increased if you attach them attachment adding Sentinel (for Elrohir) or Ranged (for Elladan). Dúnedain Signal, respectively Dúnedain Cache will enable them to operate them across the whole board. With a sufficient number of resources, you can make an absolutely unstoppable combo, ready to interfere anywhere. The great possibilities even terrify me.:)
Back, in short, to Elladan. When I was talking about the necessity of improving Attack (because even if 3 Attack is amazing default stat for the single character, it doesn’t suffice, in many cases, to kill an enemy), I was thinking at one new Weapon coming also within Road to Rivendell – Rivendell Blade. It’s one of the few Weapons, which doesn’t profit from Dwarf trait (like Dwarven Axe or Dwarrowdelf Axe). The trait Noldor is becoming the key aspect of Elladan because Rivendell Blade can be attached to only Silvan or Noldor characters. With this Weapon, Elladan “erase” 2 Defense from the enemy, so the chance of dealing damage, and possibly the killing of an enemy, is becoming higher. Except for Blade of Gondolin, which works only on Orcs, we don’t have a better and permanent alternative improving the Attack of Noldor characters, actually all non-Dwarf characters.
!SPOILER! Right in the next adventure pack, we are getting Rivendell Bow, targeting Noldor and Silvan characters, which should be also profitable for Elladan. Rivendell Bow eliminates the necessity of Dúnedain Cache because it is from the same sphere as Elladan, it is even cheaper and it has the same effect concurrently.
As I have already mentioned in Elrohir’s review, both heroes need each other, or they are not even “half”. It means you have to free place for at least 2 heroes. In the solo game, I believe it must be quite limiting because the last spot must belong to a good quester. Thus you mainly should adapt the deck to the needs of both brothers. However, more players mean the bigger freedom for deckbuilding, because Elladan and Elrohir can be owned by two different players. And according to me, both heroes are created for multiplayer games to reach the comfortableness in deckbuilding and also in resource management. The decks holding both heroes shouldn’t do without attachments adding Sentinel and Ranged keywords – that’s important to note this and count with this.
When I unpacked Road to Rivendell, I remember how I rejoiced and was relieved, when I saw Leadership ally. Finally, after so long we lived to see the new ally from the Leadership sphere, which we haven’t seen from the time of The Dead Marshes (still remember Dúnedain Watcher?). Dúnedain Wanderer is saying hello to everybody and wants to capture our attention.
Though I must admit that my attention was captured by a creepy 5 cost for a quite average stats – 1 Willpower, 2 Attack and 2 Defense with 2 Hit Points. “What the hell is going on?” I thought. We are waiting for Leadership ally as for Gandalf’s spell and we have got so expensive ally with average stats? Dear players, don’t panic. If you play with Secrecy deck, Dúnedain Wanderer costs not 5 resources, but only 2 resources – he has keyword Secrecy 3. And that’s much, much better. All you need is to keep your threat on 20 and below.
Dúnedain Wanderer has a quite “universal stats” for the wide use. His flexibility is amplified by the presence of Sentinel and Ranged keywords. Now I’m impressed – 1 Willpower, 2 Attack, 2 Defense with 2 Hit Points, Ranged and Sentinel seems like the heavy and superior combo for only 2 (Secrecy) cost ally. You can do with him almost everything. It can remind you the Lore ally Haldir of Lórien, who owns 2-2-2-3 with Ranged and Sentinel keywords as well. But he costs 4 resources (where is harder to save so many resources) and what is very important – the Lore ally owns a unique symbol. Because Dúnedain Wanderer lacks a unique symbol, you can play 3 copies of him at the same time and make the little army of Dúnedain allies.:)
In the 2-heroes Secrecy deck, Dúnedain Wanderer is “must-have” card. He partially deputizes for the missing hero, that is the character who can quest/attack/defend/do ability. Though Dúnedain Wanderer can’t fully replace the hero (because his stats are not high enough and/or he doesn’t own some special ability), you will surely feel relief when he comes to play. Secrecy deck with 2 heroes can’t offer you 3 resources at once each Resource phase, thus you will be often short of them. Playing strong allies for more than 3 cost would be extremely hard for you, thus Dúnedain Wanderer is a good and cheap alternative for such allies.
Another case will happen, when you exceed the magic value of 20 threat, or if you try to play him in the non-Secrecy deck. Does Dúnedain Wanderer worth it for 5 cost? It’s quite a simple answer: not at all. If you crave for the ally you can use outside of Secrecy deck, I’m sorry, but you must wait further. You really shouldn’t ruminate on 1-2-2-2 for 5 cost, that’s a non-sense and throwing away valuable resources.
Dwarf decks are getting new reinforcement – as the event called Lure of Moria. For 3 cost you can play a very simple effect, which we have already met… at least in more universal form. It’s already a long time we were inspecting Grim Resolve. This Leadership event had captured our attention not only by a quite high cost but also by a very strong effect: you could ready all characters in the game. Lure of Moria owns the same effect – except it targets only Dwarves.
As at Grim Resolve, I had to admit it has a powerful effect able to change the whole round, if not whole game. On the other hand, 5 cost of Grim Resolve is not the joke to pile up, while 3 cost of Lure Moria seems far more sympathetic and realistic to pay. You need to play with as many Dwarf heroes and allies as possible to maximize the effect of this event. Outside of Dwarf deck, Lure of Moria is absolutely valueless.
It’s quite tough to describe such a simple and straightforward effect in more words because everything I wrote in the review of Grim Resolve is valid at Lure of Moria. You can play this event mainly in two moments: after you quest or after you defend. It very depends, how the situation on the board looks like. When the massive push through the quest is needed, you should send all characters with trait Dwarf, then use Lure of Moria and ready all of them for future actions. One specific thing I should mention here: playing Lure of Moria while Dáin Ironfoot, the core character of any Dwarf deck, is present, will assure that his passive effect will still hold true. Thus each Dwarf will have +1 Willpower and will be ready at the same time. The same is valid for using Lure of Moria after defending – your ready Dwarves won’t lose their +1 Attack from Dáin Ironfoot’s ability. Within Road to Rivendell, you may use Lure of Moria as prevention against one of the worst treacheries we have met – Sleeping Sentry. The power of this treachery arises from the number of exhausted characters. When you reveal it as treachery, it can bother you, but it lacks so devastating effect as if you reveal it as the shadow card. You then must discard every exhausted character, allies, and heroes. Because generally, you reveal shadow card after enemy attacks, it means the Quest phase is already over. All questers, some defenders, eventually all characters who used their ability, which needs exhaustion to trigger, will go out from the game. Isn’t it better to play Lure of Moria, ready Dwarves and thus save as many characters as possible?
The usage of Lure of Moria in this way has own pitfall. Either you must know Sleeping Sentry is coming (for example by Dark Knowledge) or the chance of revealing Sleeping Sentry is too high (for example if many encounter cards are already discarded and Sleeping Sentry wasn’t still revealed, and you face several enemies with attached shadow cards at the same time). Sleeping Sentry may ruin your plans and when it reveals as the shadow effect, it’s probably game over for you. Lure of Moria can prevent this… but without knowledge you would have to use it blindly, so you would have to reconcile to eventual failure (= no Sleeping Sentry as a shadow card, thus wasting of resources). Hasty Stroke or A Burning Brand will eliminate such danger far more reliably.
I think that Lure of Moria is the type of card you want to have always in hands as the “safeguard”, even if you won’t use it at last. 3 cost doesn’t burden you much and the eventual effect can bail you out if the situation begins to be serious or too unpredictable.
Instead of another pretty Axe for Dwarves, our arsenal of Weapons is expanded by the more elegant and faster sword for real lovers of technical combat. Weigh Rivendell Blade in your hand and find out, what it can do.
It belongs to the family of very cheap Tactic Weapons like Dwarrowdelf Axe or Blade of Gondolin – everything you need is to spend only 1 Tactic resource. But beware – Rivendell Blade can’t wield any character. Yes, it has a Restricted keyword, so with Rivendell Blade, the character may have attached only another one Restricted attachment. But I didn’t mean this. Rivendell Blade can hold only Noldor or Silvan character. From now, the new traits are chosen to be the targets for some cards. We have already met cards using synergy with traits Dwarf, Rohan, Gondor or Creature, but Noldor and Silvan are something totally new.
Let’s look who can be affected: Legolas, Glorfindel, Elrohir and Elladan from heroes, from allies I just mention some significant ones like Haldir of Lórien and Gildor Inglorion. That’s not a much wide choice. The best targets for attaching Rivendell Blade are, from my point of view, Legolas and Elladan.
!SPOILER! But don’t worry, Dwarrowdelf cycle will bring other Noldor or Silvan characters, namely Spirit Glorfindel and Elrond.
Holder of Rivendell Blade reduces the Defense of the enemy by 2 when attacks. The reduction lasts until the end of the phase. It thematically depicts the difference between brutal force, represented by simple boosting Attack (Dwarven Axe, Dwarrowdelf Axe), and more technical and tactical style of combat, where the attacker tries to find the weakest spot of an enemy. The right thrust can weaken the enemy to the extent his Defense will be affected for a given time. I like such an idea, it perfectly fits this game. The question is if reducing Defense differs from simple boosting of Attack. What difference is actually between Rivendell Blade and Dwarven Axe, if I ignore the traits they target? On the first sight and from the practical view, nothing is different. When Gimli (with 1 damage onto him) attacks with Dwarven Axe, it is exactly the same as Legolas attacking with Rivendell Blade – both attack for 5 (3 default Attack + 2 Attack from the attachment). However, Dwarven Axe influences only Gimli who is attacking – he gains +2 to his Attack. Rivendell Blade, on the other hand, influences the enemy, not Legolas. The enemy loses 2 Defense until the end phase. So theoretically, if anybody else attacks that enemy, -2 Defense debuff is still active. And because the effect can stack, attacking with 2 copies of Rivendell Blade would reduce the Defense by 4 (the value 0 is the least possible).
In the end, I must speak highly of Rivendell Blade. Not only because the theme fits well, but because we actually get +2 Attack for just 1 cost. It’s similar to Dwarrowdelf Axe and more advantageous than Dwarven Axe from Core set. When you play with Legolas, Elladan, or another good Noldor or Silvan character, don’t hesitate to include few copies of Rivendell Blade. It will surely worth it.
The next Tactic card of Road to Rivendell is event Hail of Stones for 1 cost. It utilizes the force of mass: you exhaust X characters to deal X damage to a given enemy in the staging area. Just to be more specific, it concerns only characters you control – you can’t use for this Action characters of other players.
The strength of this card arises, as I already said, from the number of characters you control and you can afford to exhaust. The most effective is “swarm deck”, which contains many cheap allies, primarily intended for chump blocking (in Dwarf environment, allies from swarm decks can even quest and attack well, thanks to the presence of Dáin Ironfoot). The aim is clear: to get rid of the nastiest enemies before you even engage them, thus you (by the way) reduce the threat in the staging area.
To illustrate Hail of Stones and for better understanding, let’s take the example. You control a couple of allies, which can’t quest very effectively: 2 Snowbourn Scout and 2 Veteran Axehand. After questing, they are ready. During staging, you reveal enemy Goblin Taskmaster, who deals 2 damage after he engages the player. He owns keyword Ambush (which forces him to proceed immediate engagement check with each player), but because Barren Hills is the active location, you won’t engage Goblin Taskmaster with 27 engagement cost immediately (you have, for example, 32 threat). You would certainly engage Goblin Taskmaster this Encounter phase and you don’t wish to deal 2 damage to any of your characters. So you play Hail of Stones: after exhausting both Snowbourn Scout and both Veteran Axehand you strike Goblin Taskmaster for overall 4 damage, thus you discard this enemy and don’t need to face him during combat. And because you do it right after the staging but before the quest resolution, the threat of staging area is instantly reduced by 2.
In this manner the use of Hail of Stones can look like. It is evident that the situation must play into your hands to correctly use Hail of Stones. This example needs many preconditions in order to you could play this event at all (many unused allies, right enemy, right active location, etc.). The situation may look absolutely different if during staging you reveal more enemies. Or if you are already engaged with some enemies. Then you surely will need “everything that wields shields and weapons” in the Combat phase to protect the lives of heroes. Snowbourn Scout can prevent the worst damage you could get and Veteran Axehand can effectively strike an enemy for 2 Attack, or 3 Attack with Dáin Ironfoot in game. You easily realize that on playing Hail of Stones you don’t have the right opportunity.
Hail of Stones is the card I haven’t used in my decks at all, so I can speak about it only on theoretically level. To make up some suitable opportunity I had to construct a situation, which in practice game would happen very rarely. There are surely other opportunities to play Hail of Stones right. After all, there is nowhere written you have to kill the enemy by Hail of Stones – you can just deal damage to him by allies who couldn’t attack at all (Erebor Record Keeper could speak a lot). Also, Thalin can help you with dealing damage and so make a little combo with Hail of Stones.
But if I speak for myself, only very seldom I could afford to let some characters ready for the effect of this event. Rather I use them in combat and defend/attack more foes, than use many allies to kill one enemy. The opportunity for such action needn’t happen during the whole game at all and I don’t like cards, which works in theory but lacks practical usage.
The problem with lack of Spirit allies from the Core set seems like ancient history. Now, since the Shadows of Mirkwood times and within every new adventure pack, we always meet the new Spirit ally. Road to Rivendell isn’t an exception. Rider of the Mark is the new character we can include in our decks.
However, he will rather fit in Rohan decks than in Dwarf decks. So if you like Rohan theme, you get the new reinforcement and new target for cards like Mustering the Rohirrim, Astonishing Speed or Ride to Ruin. Anyway, for playing Rider of the Mark prepare 3 Spirit resources, so he doesn’t belong to the cheapest one. Stats are the following: 2 Willpower, 1 Attack, 1 Defense and 2 Hit Points. Wishy-washy stats for 3 cost, I would say, but it’s not the worst. Questing with 2 Willpower for 3 cost isn’t the best exchange, but you may send him to a quest without hesitation. Additionally, this guy can contribute to your overall attack and he won’t die after first damaging treachery or shadow effect you reveal (if you don’t reveal something like Dark and Dreadful).
Rider of the Mark controls two abilities, one Action, and one Response. First, you must use Action to trigger Response. Action says: “Spend 1 Spirit resource to give control of Rider of the Mark to another player. (Limit once per round).” I think it’s a very interesting way, how to support other players. Not only Ranged and Sentinel keywords are helping other players, but what can be more useful than temporarily “lend” the ally? When others have a problem with questing or need immediate reinforcement to protect other characters, this will come in handy for sure. It reminds Wandering Took from the Core set, which has the same ability. As at Wandering Took, with changing of the controller are joined some specific rules. If you want to know more, please look at the review of Wandering Took. I just note that you may change the controller once per round and if the new controller can play cards from the Spirit sphere, he certainly can trigger this effect too.
However, you won’t play Rider of the Mark for simple changing of the controller – you will decide about changing controller on the basis of Response. When you change the controller, the new controller can discard the shadow card dealt to the enemy he is engaged with. That’s definitely beneficial, additional effect, no doubts. If you don’t have Hasty Stroke in your hands or Dúnedain Watcher isn’t present on the board or nobody has A Burning Brand attached, Rider of the Mark is another option how to get rid of potentially dangerous shadow effect, such as Sleeping Sentry.
The issue is, however, that you actually don’t know what you are discarding. You would have to play, for example, Dark Knowledge to reveal the effect of shadow effect before revealing and resolving the shadow effect. That’s not much reliable way. You could ask if Rider of the Mark can’t be changed after the shadow effect was already revealed. It would make the sense and would bring another dimension of the usefulness of this effect. Alas, during revealing and resolving shadow effect there isn’t an action window, where you could use firstly Action, then trigger Response of Rider of the Mark – the changing of controller would have to be also Response.
However, the Response will come in handy when you discard the shadow cards from Mountain Warg. As Wargs from Shadows of Mirkwood, when it has dealt a shadow card without shadow effect, it returns to the staging area. When Rider of the Mark interferes, he discards the shadow card just before the revealing, because it is legal to play actions after dealing shadow cards and before the resolving of the whole attacking process. Therefore, Mountain Warg without a shadow card can’t trigger his passive ability, so he stays engaged with you no matter what. At least, until the next round.
Rider of the Mark has a quite narrow usage of his ability (Mountain Warg) or you would have to scry dealt shadow card to maximize its potential. You can see the benefit in the moving of this ally itself, that’s okay. Other players will surely welcome the new questing reinforcement. But if you plan to play Rider of the Mark without his Action and Response, I think he is quite expensive. Then, I would consider including him to Rohan decks, where he can profits from cards with Rohan synergy.
If you ask me, what experience I have with Song of Eärendil, the Spirit attachment from Road to Rivendell, I would answer: very poor. Despite the careful testing of this attachment during my games I still didn’t understand the full potential this card has. Song of Eärendil can be the part of very sophisticated and complicated combos, which can discourage the new players. But if you like experiments or you search for a card, which manages the threat, read further.
This Spirit attachment can mesmerize by a beautiful illustrated scenery. Except for that, 1 cost will surely please you as well. Song of Eärendil can be attached to only Spirit heroes and it owns two Responses. The first Response can be clearer: when Song of Eärendil enters play, you draw 1 card. That’s a fine bonus. The second Response says that after another player raises his threat by 1, you increase your own threat by 1 to decrease your mate’s threat by 1. It may not look like at first sight, but from such effect can arise many consequences. The most evident and simplest consequence is you just reduce the threat of another player at the expense of raising your own threat. This comes in handy when your partner runs Secrecy deck – you help him to keep a threat below 20 when he can use cards for Secrecy cost. Note that the Response doesn’t say anything about the cause of adjusting threat – you can trigger the Response when raising threat is caused by some effect of encounter card, the ability of some character or even due to the common process of raising threat in Refresh phase. Each of these causes may trigger the effect of Song of Eärendil. However, don’t be afraid that the increasing threat would get out of your control. You trigger the responses of your cards whenever you wish, it’s not inevitable.
Beyond this very simple usage of Song of Eärendil, there are many possible combos you can create. Personally, I even didn’t know about such combos, but I introduce you a few of the basics combos. The most known is probably something called “Wandering Eärendil deck”. What’s all about? To Song of Eärendil, you join Wandering Took, the ally who can take your 3 threat and bring it to another player. The process is quite complicated, I won’t describe the whole process, but the aim of interaction between these cards was that you could decrease the threat of another player without restrains.
!SPOILER! The whole thing was even more delicate when you include to your deck Lore Aragorn, who can reduce your threat to your starting threat. After you reduce the threat of another player to the least possible value, you could use the ability of Aragorn to reduce your increased threat to the default value.
No wonder players call this as “broken combo”. I think such a possibility wasn’t intentional from designers. In FAQ 1.9, the LOTR LCG designers answered with errata for Wandering Took, who from these days can use his Action only once per round. It was the end of uncontrolled, overpowered combo “Wandering Eärendil”.
Another non-SPOILER possible combo with Song of Eärendil can be created with Boromir, who works with readying for raising 1 threat. Again, unlimited possibilities of such combo could cause that designers decided to make errata also for Boromir (once per phase). Though I think Boromir’s ability was too strong by itself, without considering the combo with Song of Eärendil.
In the end, I would just mention that Song of Eärendil lacks a unique symbol, so you are free to use 3 copies of this attachment. Thus after your mate increases the threat by 1, the effect of each copy of this card is triggered, so to sum up you reduce 3 threat of your mate and raise your own 3 threat at the same time.
In Song of Eärendil, I see the hidden gem, which you hardly use in every deck. Do you want to play with threat and rearranging threat between you and players? Do you want to support Secrecy deck? Then don’t overlook Song of Eärendil and try to combine it with other cards to make a special “threat-management deck”.
The Dwarf Bombur, who looks more like the pirate or one of the dwarfs from Snow White than like the member of Thorin’s Company, is the new unique Lore ally in Road to Rivendell. Let’s take a look if this Dwarf can become the firm part of Dwarf decks or if you should rather forget him.
If you want to play Bombur, you first must accept his mid-cost – 3 Lore resources. When you gather such amount and play him, swallow his really awful stats. No points in Willpower and Attack would Dáin Ironfoot hardly correct. 1 Defense overcomes any average enemy and 3 Hit Points is a good amount for an ally, although in connection with Defense and considering his cost you even should avoid defending duties with him.
So for what is Bombur useful (or more precisely, for what he should be useful)? He controls Action, where you firstly exhaust him and choose one given location. That location gains -1 threat until the end of the phase. If the affected location is Underground, then you “erase” its whole threat until the end of the phase. Before any evaluation of the usefulness of such ability, I shortly describe the possible usage. After staging you may decide to exhaust Bombur and choose a location in the staging area (because aiming active location would be pure non-sense), which won’t contribute to the overall threat by 1 threat. Okay, sometimes even units can decide about your success during questing. But you should primarily aim locations with Underground trait, that’s an evident thing. -1 threat is the very negligible effect, but ignoring let’s say 3, 4 or 5 threat you will certainly feel. Zigil Mineshaft, Lightless Passage or Fouled Well won’t please you in the staging area. If I overstate it, Bombur works like the permanent Secret Paths.
But to be honest, I am more than a hundred times willing to use mentioned Secret Paths than use Bombur’s ability, just because it costs only 1 resource. The unique symbol also prevents you to play more Bombur to use his ability on more locations (though if I am unwilling to pay for just 1 Bombur, only in the bad dream I would pay for more copies of Bombur ;)). Even Power in the Earth seems like a better, cheaper, more permanent and more reliable alternative than Bombur, considering the “certain effect” of reducing 1 threat of the given location.
In Khazad-Dum, with a large number of resources, I can imagine playing with Bombur, who could regularly “erase” the threat of Underground locations. But he has very narrow usage in specific scenarios and situations. Many times it suffices to just generate enough Willpower to quest successfully. Or use one-time but cheap Secret Paths. We have better alternatives than play with expensive Bofur who can’t do anything useful besides temporarily removing the threat of Underground locations.
Out of the Wild is the second Lore event (after Needful to Know), which focuses on Secrecy. It will cost you 1 more resource than Needful to Know, but with 20 threat and below you are able to pay just a single resource for this event. Again, I must say I’m impressed by its Secrecy cost and surely I wouldn’t hesitate to add Out of the Wild to Secrecy deck.
Certainly, the cost isn’t the only reason for the approval of this event. Thanks to Out of the Wild you may look on top 5 cards from the encounter deck. I would call it as “massive Henamarth effect” because Henamarth Riversong can scry the top card of the encounter deck, as well as Rumour from the Earth or Denethor. Denethor is moreover able to move the revealed top encounter card to the bottom of the encounter deck. Now imagine that some effect of encounter card forces you to shuffle the encounter deck. The work of Denethor then will become depreciated, unfortunately, because the moved encounter card can return.
Now let’s back to Out of the Wild – we have ended at scrying of top 5 encounter cards. This effect itself I consider for well-done and useful, because knowledge is power, as you certainly know. But Out of the Wild can do another, great thing: from 5 encounter cards you choose one. The chosen one card must lack victory points. Then you move the given encounter card to your victory display, shuffle the encounter card and add Out of the Wild to the victory display as well. I call this very elegant solution, how to completely get rid of some really bothersome encounter card. You can bet on it that in Road to Rivendell you will hunger for removing encounter cards like Orc Ambush or Sleeping Sentry. In your own interest, I would scry encounter deck as much as you can, because revealing such treacheries may seal your fate.
This Lore event seems to be as the master in the field of manipulation with the encounter deck. You can use Out of the Wild without thinking even in non-Secrecy card for its full cost – the effect brings you an undoubtful advantage towards encounter deck.
!SPOILER! For being a master of manipulation with encounter deck wait for Risk Some Light, which you may surely play after Out of the Wild.
Out of the Wild is just a fantastic Lore event with a very powerful effect. It moves the encounter deck manipulation on the new level. It just doesn’t scry the encounter deck, but it influences what cards you (don’t) encounter. Of course, more cards with a similar effect (Denethor, Henamarth Riversong, Rumour from the Earth, Needful to Know) gives you a bigger advantage and wider options to control the situation on the board. Out of the Wild should be definitely the part of this strategy.
I really wasn’t looking forward to analyzing this Neutral event, because I don’t understand its existence. However, The End Comes comes as the next card of Road to Rivendell, so my duty has to be accomplished.
I’ll start as usual – The End Comes costs nothing. It’s a card for free, which you can play within any deck. So this might be considered for the positive thing. Well, the deck should, however, contain some Dwarf character, because its effect triggers after some Dwarf character leaves the play. I guess I don’t have to remind you that waiting on destroying Dwarf hero isn’t really necessary :), just wait until some Dwarf ally like Veteran Axehand or Erebor Record Keeper leaves the play. The key information is followed after this precondition, which is actually the part of Response: you shuffle the encounter discard pile back into the encounter deck.
Can you believe it, what have you just read? At first, I vainly meditate on any usefulness of this card. Why I should want to do such a thing? Haven’t we already so many troubles with encounter cards we discarded? Returning them to the encounter deck seems like mad suicide. I can imagine some very specific situations, where such a breakneck effect may save you before something much worse. Imagine that you are falling with the plane and your only chance to survive is to jump up with parachute. Or you are sinking with the boat and you must board the lifeboat (if I should hold the fantasy theme :)). You just do the last thing, which can assure you will live for a longer time. But you don’t know if you are saved permanently. You can sail the sea forever, or some thunderstorm will come and sink even your lifeboat. In this way, I would describe the effect of The End Comes. You scry the encounter deck and for some reason, you can’t resist the nasty effect, which you will encounter. You scried with just Henamarth Riversong or you don’t have A Test of Will to cancel some nasty “when revealed” effect or some very strong enemy will encounter you or some location with really high threat would cause the massive location lock. What can you do? Make “all-in”, everything or nothing. You shuffle the incoming card with the discard pile of encounter cards and make the whole new encounter deck. That’s the essence of the effect of The End Comes.
We surely remember scenarios from Shadows of Mirkwood cycle, where discarding certain cards would significantly hurt you. For example, discarding Gollum in The Dead Marshes, or discarding objectives due to the effect of Dungeon Jailor in Escape from Dol Guldur. The End Comes would save you many rounds, otherwise spent by digging through the whole encounter deck to be able to re-shuffle it.
But what about the other 95% of situations? Would The End Comes worth it at all? The answer is evident: definitely not. Not even in sideboard decks. For returning desired encounter cards (like some objectives) we can utilize the services of Shadow of the Past, which accurately aims for certain encounter card. The End Comes use too radical way, which in general will hurt you because you return all encounter cards you have already faced. Actually, you thwart the opportunity to get rid of troublesome encounter cards, instead, you decide to encounter them again. That’s a very pity idea.
It didn’t last a long time and we finally met Elladan who was already mentioned when Elrohir came to the scene. He is the mirror of his brother Elrohir, only his Attack is boosted by +2 if Elrohir is present. But because the attacking effort you often need the help of other characters, Elladan isn’t so independent as Elrohir. Thus you must boost his Attack by attachments (Rivendell Blade), events (Blade Mastery) or rely on cooperation with other characters. I also strongly recommend you to include some attachment, which gains Ranged (Dúnedain Cache).
!SPOILER! or wait until the next adventure pack, on Rivendell Bow.
Elladan can’t be almost judged individually, because his strength arises from the combo Elrohir-Elladan. Both cooperate excellently, separately they cannot work well at all. Nevertheless, I rather recommend playing with Elladan and Elrohir in multiplayer games, where you have a bigger room for more heroes, thus for different roles.
When I speak about “allies of Road to Rivendell”, I just remind one very good ally – Dúnedain Wanderer. He is the champion of Secrecy decks, strong and flexible fighter with Ranged and Sentinel keywords. Outside of Secrecy decks, I wouldn’t consider him to add him to any deck, because 5 cost for 1-2-2-2 is absolutely unacceptable.
The other allies are not so good, though Rider of the Mark can find an use if you can scry shadow cards or if you discard shadow cards from troublesome creatures like Mountain Warg. Also, Rider of the Mark can be a good member of Rohan decks. On the other hand, Bombur lacks usefulness even in Dwarf decks. Stats are not even worth mentioning for its 3 cost and I can completely miss the ability until I own Secret Paths.
Road to Rivendell offers the big variability as for effects of events: readying of Dwarves (Lure of Moria), direct dealing damage to enemies (Hail of Stones), scrying and removing encounter card (Out of the Wild) and shuffling encounter discard pile to encounter deck (The End Comes).
As effects are variable, their ratio of usefulness differs as well. As the most positive I evaluate Lure of Moria and Out of the Wild. Despite their 3 cost, the effects can help you a lot. Out of the Wild is even the card, which I would include to non-Secrecy deck – I have no problem to pay 3 cost for removing nasty encounter card (without victory points). Certainly, its 1 cost within Secrecy decks deserves admiration.
Although I love cards, which deal direct damage to enemies, Hail of Stones does it in a quite miserable way. Its usefulness is measured by the number of allies you are able to exhaust and that’s not right, I suppose.
On The End Comes is not good anything. In certain situations and scenarios, this neutral event may help you… but the result is too unreliable, too risky. If you don’t want to meet certain encounter card and you hope that The End Comes will save you by simply adding and reshuffling encounter discard pile, you still have no guarantee that the card you tried to avoid, won’t appear again. This is not the right way, how to properly deal with the pitfalls of the encounter deck.
Noldor and Silvan characters are getting their own Weapon – Rivendell Blade. Although the final result of Rivendell Blade doesn’t differ from attachments, which simply boosts Attack, it perfectly illustrates, how Weapons work. Noldor and Silvan characters fight in a more technical way, so they target the enemy’s Defense. If they find the weak spot, it debilitates the enemy for a short time (= for the whole phase). In addition, you have got practically +2 Attack for just 1 cost and that’s really brilliant.
Because I’m not good at a good using of Song of Eärendil, I avoid this attachment and give the preference to more straightforward cards, like The Galadhrim’s Greetings. Song of Eärendil is built for interesting combos, but new players may be lost in the counting of threat.
After the slower start of Dwarrowdelf cycle, we are finally getting cards, for which we don’t have to be ashamed of. Players with different strategies will surely find their own champion.
One of the most feared and deadliest treachery in the whole game, Sleeping Sentry, you will surely remember. All your attention should be paid to this treachery, more precisely you should try to prevent to trigger its shadow effect at all cost. So Hasty Stroke, A Burning Brand and/or Dúnedain Watcher should be the natural thing here. From this view, Rider of the Mark could be seen as TOP CARD, which can save the day. Alas, its effect isn’t so good to reach such a title. Too random and unreliable. I was torn apart, which card should I choose. Personally, I have a great affection to Dúnedain Wanderer, who rules in Secrecy decks – and Secrecy is my favourite one. But objectively, outside of Secrecy Dúnedain Wanderer just can’t be considered for the good ally, he offers too little for too much. Also, I admire Lure of Moria, which can ready all Dwarves at once. It costs 2 resources less than old Grim Resolve… but on the other hand, it affects just Dwarves. So which card deserves the crown of TOP CARD? In Road to Rivendell, Out of the Wild is the most quality card and I tell you why: no matter its Secrecy cost, this Lore event worth it in common, non-Secrecy decks, for the full cost. I cannot count, how many times Out of the Wild reveals really, really bad encounter card, which I simply remove “from the game”. The choice from the top 5 encounter cards is rich and you certainly find among them some “nightmare” you wish to get rid of.
About SHEEP CARD I have no doubt – nothing can’t dethrone The End Comes, neither Bombur. It’s the classic SHEEP CARD, how it should look like: useless, ineffective, weak. Only in truly specific situations, The End Comes might help you…theoretically. But better to save the place for more useful cards.
After longer speculating I mark the Leadership sphere as THE MOST ENRICHED SPHERE. Though in this sphere are introduced cards aimed for specific traits or decks, both cards bring the immeasurable quality. At the same time, both cards should be the inseparable part of decks they were made for. Tactic sphere has also very close to this title, though Elladan is rather the matter of choice than of necessity. Hail of Stones decreases the overall merit of Tactic sphere. Lore sphere brings very awful Bombur and both Spirit cards are in my eyes too specialized and their playing is too specific.
I am surely satisfied with the overall quality of player cards in this adventure pack. While in The Redhorn Gate I was hardly looking for very good cards, in Road to Rivendell several player cards worth it for playing. Secrecy, Dwarf, Rohan or Noldor/Silvan decks are enriched. So if you like playing with any of these archetypes/mechanics, Road to Rivendell is the adventure pack for you.
OUT OF THE WILD
THE END COMES
LEADERSHIP SPHERE (DÚNEDAIN WANDERER + LURE OF MORIA)