Player card review: The Watcher in the Water

Elrond is disturbed by the report of Arwen’s journey to Rivendell. He has requsted that the heroes discover the source of the increased Orc activity along the Misty Mountains. This mission has led the party South to Moria, but the Doors of Durin are blocked by a deep, dark lake. As the heroes make their way around its waters, an ancient evil stirs from within its depths. A desperate battle begins, and the heroes must drive the creature away or find safety in the mines.

Are you tired of unending fights with those ugly  Orcs? In The Watcher in the Water, you’ll take a break from them. Orcs are the minority race here, but you will wish their comeback. The fans of Lovecraft’s novels will experience light dejá-vu because the main enemies you will face are… Tentacles! You will be rained by attacks of tireless Tentacles. When you get rid of one, another two will appear and will pester you even more persistently. You have two choices: either to enter Moria earlier than Tentacles will overcome you… or face the loathsome creature The Watcher and fight for life and death.

Summary review

Hero

Leadership sphere

Tactics sphere

Spirit sphere

Lore sphere

Neutral sphere


Hero

Aragorn (Lore)

The Watcher in the Water introduces something we haven’t experienced yet. It’s the first time that a hero, which we have already met in the previous cycle, has returned… however, within the different sphere. And who else should return than the first hero (concerning the set identification number) of whole LOTR LCG – Aragorn. You surely remember the original Aragorn from the Leadership sphere. DúnedainRanger and Noble guy with 12 starting threat, stats 2-3-2-5 and Sentinel. Additionally, his Response allowed him to ready him after he was committed to a quest, for just one resource from his resource pool.

The Lore version of Aragorn (frequently called “Loragorn” or “Strider”) doesn’t differ in many aspects. He shares 12 starting threat – one of the highest starting threat we know. Both Aragorns also share 2/3 traits (Lore Aragorn misses Noble), they have exactly the same stats (2 Willpower, 3 Attack, 2 Defense and 5 Hit Points) and they own the keyword Sentinel

Lore Aragorn misses the very good response of his Leadership version. Thus, his flexibility is a bit negatively influenced, we have to attach to him Unexpected Courage or ready him by other cards. On the other hand, Lore Aragorn gains a whole new ability, which we can play only in the Refresh phase: you may reduce your threat to the default value = starting threat level. It’s limited once per game. No matter how far you are in the game or how high threat you gain, Aragorn completely erases your increased threat, gained during the game. If threat endangers you, because the game is developing to your disadvantage, or you are just occurring in a very late game, Aragorn serves as a backup in such situations. From Aragorn’s ability profits solo players in solo games at most. In multiplayer games, the controller of Aragorn helps yourself at least, however, other players remain in danger, if they are endangered by high threat as well.

!SPOILER! The great change will happen with the arrival of Desperate Alliance, which adjust the limitation “once per game”. With this combo, Aragorn can reset threat of more players, avoiding its limitation, because it concerns only Aragorn’s holder. The “right limitation” you might search is “limit once per group”. This wouldn’t allow you to use the ability more than once per game.

Lore Aragorn is created for variable combos, where the key role play abilities and effects manipulating with the threat. The threat can be understood as a certain sort of “resource”, which you can use for some positive effects – in other words, we can speak about “threat management”. One of the first “threat manager” was Boromir, who can ready himself by raising threat once per phase. Lore Aragorn will ensure the threat raised by Boromir’s ability won’t get out of your control, mainly due to the unlucky set of revealed encounter cards. Similar combo you may make with Song of Eärendil and Wandering Took, which was errata’d by limitation of Wandering Took “once per round” (so there isn’t even theoretical chance to decrease the threat of one player to 0 and “reset” the proportionately increased threat of another player by using Lore Aragorn). Aragorn also negates the effects of encounter cards with Doomed (Disturbed Waters). He could do well in Secrecy decks if he doesn’t have so high starting threat. 

It’s the first time that if you want to play with Aragorn, you can decide between more versions of him. Although they have much in common, Lore Aragorn misses the bigger flexibility of his Leadership colleague. However, he gains brand new and very strong ability, which “resets” your threat to the default value and I consider it for the very useful thing when you want to control the threat. Besides, everyone who uses the score system must be glad for this friendly-score hero. You needn’t be afraid of Boromir, Song of Eärendil and other threat-increasing cards when Aragorn is at your side. 

Final rating


Leadership sphere

Grave Cairn

The Leadership environment is full of effects typical for other spheres; for example drawing cards (Campfire Tales), shadow card cancellation (Dúnedain Watcher), or boosting stats like Attack and Defense (Dúnedain MarkDúnedain WarningFor Gondor!). Grave Cairn is the card with the last mentioned group of effects, that is boosting stats, in this case, Attack. However, the effect isn’t straightforward at all. First of all, you must wait until some character leaves the play. When it happens, you may add the Attack value of the left character to another character until the end of turn. You will pay for it only 1 resource. The effect utilizes the Attack of leaving character, which would be “wasted” otherwise.

When you desire to include this card to your arsenal, firstly ask yourself on the following question: which characters are the best target for triggering this effect? Which characters should provide their Attack in general? Let’s have a look, which characters and why they actually leave the play.

1) Chump blockers. The majority of characters leaving the play. They used to be cheap and serve as the bodies, which are blocking the attack of enemies and so they protect the lives of more precious allies and heroes. Due to their simple task, there isn’t expected they would have high values of Attack. After all, why should they, when they only fulfill the role of one-time defenders? Snowbourn Scout, Guard of the Citadel,  and other 1-2 cost allies have very low or non-existent Attack, therefore it’s highly improbable they would serve as the suitable targets for Grave Cairn.

2) Specialized defenders. Allies able to defend for more than one round are specialized defenders, who own quite high Defense or lots of Hit Points. Only a few allies fulfill the role of specialized defenders (Winged Guardian, Watcher of the Bruinen), you rather find them among heroes (Denethor, Elrohir). However, as you can see, the mentioned allies can’t also serve as a suitable target for Grave Cairn due to their low/non-existent Attack.

3) Universal characters. Haldir of Lórien, Veteran of Nanduhirion or Dúnedain Wanderer are characters able to defend or attack. Here I would put also characters used primarily for their ability: Northern Tracker, Faramir or Gildor Inglorion. If necessary, they can attack/defend as well. Attack of such characters can vary, so when their defending duty was the last they did, you can utilize their Attack through Grave Cairn, if it is worth it.

4) Special combos for Grave Cairn. Except for these more or less “random” leaving play, you can prepare for Grave Cairn as the highest Attack of character as possible by a few tricks. One of the tricks lies in using Sneak Attack. And who else than Gandalf is the best target for Sneak Attack and for Grave Cairn? A similar effect is reached by using Born Aloft or even Landroval if the hero dies.

Whatever ally you target through Grave Cairn, the aim of this effect is very obvious: boost the Attack of character, who is going to attack in a few moments. He needn’t be natural-born attacker – for you, the main task lies in an effective offensive. Due to using Grave Cairn, you will surely wonder if its effect takes into consideration default, printed Attack or Attack enriched by other effects? When the given character leaves play, all his attachments, boosts and effects adjusting his stats are not any longer valid, thus only printed Attack is the legal value for Grave Cairn. It’s shame because you will deprive yourself of interesting combos (like with Beorn, fully damaged Gimli, etc.).

This event lacks the motivation to replace various boosting effects within the Tactics sphere. If you want to aim at boosting Attack, you would better go for cards like Khazad! Khazad!, Blade Mastery, Unseen Strike and almost any attachment adjusting Attack, which provides you the permanent benefit. Grave Cairn is just an interesting option within the Leadership sphere, where you may utilize the Attack of leaving character. I have a neutral attitude towards this event – I think it can help in certain situations, where you urgently need to get rid of some enemy and you try to gather every point of Attack. On the other hand, without Grave Cairn I can live fine and I don’t feel any shortage.

Final rating


Sword that was Broken

Narvi’s Belt was the last Leadership attachment we have got. The choice of allies and attachments in the Dwarrowdelf cycle is very poor, so to Sword that was Broken I approach with moderate curiosity. This attachment carries a very nice and poetic name and pretty illustration, so we are hoping in an interesting effect it owns.

Except for a quite expensive cost (this attachment is becoming the most expensive attachment in the Leadership sphere), you should notice the unique symbol. Frequently, unique symbols own very powerful cards and Sword that was Broken is certainly one of them. It’s an attachment made only for heroes. And if you attach it, the given hero obtains the Leadership resource icon. Until now, I would say “that’s totally debacle and number one SHEEP CARD!” We just have Song of Kings from Neutral sphere and just for 1 cost, why I should want to spend 3 resources for Sword that was Broken? Read further, dear players: “If attached hero is Aragorn, each character you control gets +1 Willpower.” Okay, now I’m impressed and I’m thinking about this card in a broader context. Permanent +1 Willpower for all characters you control is the outstanding effect. The recipe for well using this attachment is simple: just get together as many questers as you are able to, commit them to the quest and watch the overall Willpower you can produce. 

To be honest, I was quite engaged by the first part of the mentioned text: “If attached hero is Aragorn…” The card clearly targets only one from two Aragorn. Aragorn from Core set belongs to the Leadership sphere, so it wouldn’t make the sense to attach him Sword that was Broken, because you would “duplicate” the effect of “gaining Leadership resource icon”. Of course, who truly wants, he can attach it to Leadership Aragorn and still he will gain the +1 Willpower boost. But I think it’s pointless. The true holder of Sword that was Broken should be the new version of Aragorn from the Lore sphere. You gain +1 Willpower boost for all characters you control AND access to the Leadership sphere. 

As an interesting point, I consider the comparison with Celebrían’s Stone, which targets primarily Aragorn as well. While the power of Celebrían’s Stone comes from +2 Willpower, which isn’t conditioned by attaching the concrete hero, the power of Sword that was Broken (+1 Willpower to all) arises from attaching to Aragorn. On the contrary, when you attach Celebrían’s Stone to Aragorn, you “by the way” gain the access to Spirit sphere, while Sword that was Broken can provide the Leadership resource icon to any hero. In the case of Celebrían’s Stone, it isn’t necessary to attach it to any Aragorn, because you gain +2 Willpower for sure – obtaining access to Spirit sphere I consider for a nice bonus. From this point of view, Sword that was Broken has the worse position, because you will gain +1 Willpower boost only if you attach it to Aragorn. So Celebrían’s Stone is far more universal and can be added to any Leadership deck, while Sword that was Broken should be paired only with Lore Aragorn. However, it’s also a truth that the effect of Sword that was Broken influence characters globally, while Celebrían’s Stone targets just one hero.

My advice is the following: when you play with Lore Aragorn, include Sword that was Broken as well. The boost is too powerful to just ignore it. The obtaining access to the Leadership sphere, however, makes Sword that was Broken truly compatible only with one of two Aragorns, and that’s quite limiting. 

Final rating


Tactics sphere

Watcher of the Bruinen

When we have Watcher in the Water, why we also couldn’t have Watcher of the Bruinen? It’s the name of a new Tactics ally and new applicant for a place in your deck.

For 2 resources we buy ally with stats 0-1-2-2. The missing Willpower at Tactics ally shouldn’t surprise us. 1 Attack is a rather symbolic value. Finally, 2 Defense and 2 Willpower are confirming his role as a chump blocker. Well, a bit persistent chump blocker, because he can block 2 damage, so you can let on him the defending of weaker enemies like Goblin Scout or Goblin Spearman. But as you can see for yourself, in Dwarrowdelf cycle is only minimum of enemies with 2 and below Attack (the majority of enemies has at least 3 Attack), so if you don’t somehow boost the Defense of Watcher of the Bruinen, then he won’t hold for too long anyway. However, he improves his reputation by the presence of Sentinel keyword. To quite low stats it brings at least a certain degree of flexibility, so each player from your team can utilize his Defense.

Very interesting game text is the following: “Watcher of the Bruinen does not exhaust to defend.” It sounds really amazing and powerful. Nevertheless, he also owns Forced effect, where after defending you must choose between discarding Watcher of the Bruinen and discarding of a card from hands. It’s almost the same as at Winged Guardian, where you choose between discarding him and paying 1 resource. 

When I have already mentioned it, what cost is actually favourable for players? Paying 1 cost or discarding card from hand? Like everything, it depends on a given situation, chosen strategy, and composition of your deck. It means when some hero has Steward of Gondor attached, resources are no issue for you. On the other hand, when Bilbo Baggins or Gléowine are in play, you won’t worry about the number of cards. However, there is one substantial difference: while resources lack some “uniqueness” (except for sphere of influence, from which you are paying them), each card is different – it means they are worse expendables and worse replaceable. If you haven’t some card with the effect which would return cards from the discard pile, then discarded card means the loss. From this point of view, Winged Guardian has a better position than Watcher of the Bruinen, because discarding cards used to be a greater loss than paying resources.

Okay, despite this negative you decide to try Watcher of the Bruinen in your deck. What does this ally need for effective playing? Not surprisingly, you should get cards with drawing-cards effects. The biggest concentration of drawing-cards effects lies in the Lore sphere – Beravor, Gléowine, Lórien’s Wealth, Bilbo Baggins… the choice is wide. These cards will donate you by cards, thus during using the ability of Watcher of the Bruinen it shouldn’t happen you end without any cards in your hands. For a few drawing-cards, you may also look into the Leadership sphere (Valiant Sacrifice, Campfire Tales).

Watcher of the Bruinen has seduced me to add him to the deck because of his quite cheapness and Sentinel keyword. But he probably contradicts yourself – on one side he pretends to be a cheap chump blocker for one-time usage because 2 Defense isn’t hard to overcome and 2 Hit Points don’t save it. However, from the combination of Sentinel and ability, which allows him to not exhaust due to the defending, it seems like he should be a more permanent ally, for repetitive usage. This could be true in Shadows of Mirkwood cycle, where 2-Attack enemies are common species. But in Dwarrowdelf cycle we encounter much more aggressive and stronger enemies, so 2-Attack enemies are rather the rarity. I think Watcher of the Bruinen came too late. I would understand his arrival during the previous cycle but in the context of the current cycle, he loses breath. 

Final rating


Rivendell Bow

It is time to introduce the first ranged Weapon, which belongs to any fantasy world as well. Forget about melee Weapons like Dwarrowdelf Axe, Blade of Gondolin or Rivendell Blade. Stretch the bowstring, aim the target and shoot from Rivendell Bow.

This attachment has 3 parts of its ability. In the first part, you find out that Rivendell Bow can carry only 3 kinds of characters: NoldorSilvan, and Aragorn. Aragorn is not a trait, of course, but except for the mentioned traits, he is the third person, who may shoot from Rivendell Bow. Like I have already named in Rivendell Blade’s review, to Noldor and Silvan belong Legolas, Glorfindel, Elrohir, and Elladan. From reasonable allies, I would attach Rivendell Bow to Haldir of Lórien or Gildor Inglorion. To clear the whole thing, only 1 Rivendell Bow can be attached to the single character. I commend the theme and logic behind this limitation – I can’t imagine how even Legolas could control and shoot from two bows.:)

The second effect Rivendell Bow has is adding Ranged keyword to the attached character. At this time, you may remove with a clear conscience potential Dúnedain Cache from your decks, if any of the mentioned heroes or allies are present. Rivendell Bow costs only 1 resource, while for Dúnedain Cache you must save 1 more resource. I would be happy for Ranged Aragorn because he has 3 default Attack, which can be utilized everywhere on the board. Also, notice that Rivendell Bow misses the Restricted keyword – so you may still attach to him 2 Restricted attachments. See this as a small positive.

The third and final part aims for Ranged characters, therefore take into account only Legolas and Haldir of Lórien at this point. Because they are already Ranged characters, they gain another bonus: +1 Attack during the ranged attack. Ranged attack here means if characters attack the enemy engaged with another player. Thus, in a solo environment they would never gain +1 Attack – actually, whole Ranged mechanic lacks in solo environment sense. Anyway, +1 Attack for Legolas will certainly please every player who is using him oftentimes. 4 Attack is significant value, which should overcome the majority of defenses of enemies. The best you can do is attaching to Legolas the mentioned Rivendell Blade as well. Thus he gains 4 Attack and he reduces the Defense by 2, so such Goblin Follower can be promptly destroyed by him, without the support of others. That’s surely very decent offensive strength, worthy of consideration.

!SPOILER! For others, who know Hands Upon the Bow, there is one interesting fact, which arises from using this event and Rivendell Bow at the same time. Because attacking into the staging area isn’t considered for a ranged attack, Legolas with attached Rivendell Bow won’t gain +1 Attack from its effect – he gains +1 Attack only from Hands Upon the Bow.

When you play any Noldor or Silvan hero or Aragorn, Rivendell Bow should be the part of your deck as well. It’s cheap and undemanding attachment, which allows the given character to cover every engagement area and attack any enemy your party face. If you attach this attachment to Legolas or Haldir of Lórien, you additionally gain +1 Attack due to their already printed Ranged keyword, so instead of gaining Ranged you obtain another advantage, fully adequate to 1 cost of Rivendell Bow.

Final rating


Spirit sphere

Arwen Undómiel

We have already met Arwen Undómiel in The Redhorn Gate and Road to Rivendell as the objective card. Because we have successfully escorted her already to her father Elrond, she is joining us on our journey as Spirit ally. 

She has 2 cost and owns a unique symbol. She certainly deserves the unique symbol, the sign of powerful characters. I like the balanced ratios of cost versus stats – therefore I highly rate Arwen Undómiel’s 2 Willpower. Because her duty is obviously predetermined, the rest of the stats are not so important – 0 Attack, 1 Defense and 2 Hit Points you can put aside.

Now to her Response: “After Arwen Undómiel exhausts, choose a character. That character gains sentinel and gets +1 Defense until the end of the round.” Because of this, you will love her. Before I launch into the analysis of the possibilities of her ability, I should note one detail to the first part of the ability. We players are used to phrase “exhaust character X to trigger ability Y”. It used to be the part of actions, which you may trigger in any action window. But responses are triggered whenever the suitable conditions occur. It is also the case of Arwen Undómiel – her ability triggers after her exhaustion. In practice, it means that her ability triggers not only due to sending her to the quest. It triggers even if she will become the target of effects, which “forces her” to exhaust, no matter from which card the effect has triggered. For example, if you use Hail of Stones on her, or if Sleeping Sentry appears as treachery.

Like Rivendell Bow replaces Dúnedain Cache, we can comprehend the relationship between Arwen Undómiel and Dúnedain Signal. Though Dúnedain Signal is cheaper and permanent, Arwen Undómiel provides moreover +1 Defense and she can target each round anyone else (and not only the hero), without the necessity of paying resources (unlike Dúnedain Signal).

I would gain the ability to a viable defender who lacks Sentinel. For example Denethor – very capable defender who deflects many serious attacks, but he can protect other players. In combo with Arwen Undómiel, he gains +1 Defense and Sentinel, so with 4 Defense, he manages to defend many furious attacks even boosted by shadow effects adding Attack. Another good target I see in Dáin Ironfoot (but due defending he loses his boosting ability, so consider that!), Boromir, Frodo Baggins, Prince Imrahil or Elrohir. I skipped Aragorn because he owns Sentinel but +1 Defense would fit him in certain situations as well. But if you need to save heroes and use allies instead, you surely can. 

I can’t come up with anything that would annoy me with her. You won’t pay for her much, she has balanced cost versus stats and to all that she controls very useful ability usable during defending. It is hard to find a reason to not add her to the deck.

Final rating


Elrond’s Counsel

To 0-cost cards, I have an ambivalent relation. I am glad that I needn’t pay a single resource for such cards, but often they aren’t worth too much. When I remind Keeping Count or The End Comes, I must roll my eyes. Unfortunately, Elrond’s Counsel belongs to another category.

Before using Elrond’s Counsel, assure you control some unique Noldor. It’s the first and only precondition this card has. We find unique Noldor among heroes (Glorfindel, Elrohir, Elladan) and allies (Gildor Inglorion, Arwen Undómiel). It’s quite easy to forget that non-unique Noldor allies like Rivendell Minstrel or Watcher of the Bruinen can’t alone trigger this effect.

!SPOILER! During Dwarrowdelf cycle, the unique Noldors will extend with other characters: Elrond and Erestor.  

If you control unique Noldor, then you may choose any character and add him +1 Willpower until the end of the phase. Obviously, you will use Elrond’s Counsel during questing, there is no doubt about it. You might not consider it for something extraordinary or significant, but adding +1 Willpower for nothing (more precisely, for the presence of Noldor) isn’t bad. But yeah, 1 Willpower will hardly change anything.

However, that’s not the whole magic of Elrond’s Counsel. You also can lower your threat by 3. That sounds more interesting. Reducing the threat is a thing you welcome anytime. Until now we have few options on reducing threat – The Galadhrim’s Greetings, Gandalf or Lore AragornSong of Eärendil and Wandering Took just shift the threat between two players, so we can’t actually speak about real threat reduction. On the contrary of these cards, Elrond’s Counsel is far more accessible. In times, when you fight with threat and you try to save as many resources as possible, Elrond’s Counsel is coming like salvation and big easement. Oh, where was this card, when we guarded Gollum in Return to Mirkwood…?

Like I said in Arwen Undómiel’s review, I can’t find anything bad about this Spirit event. However, we have got another card, absolutely not corresponding with the spirit of Dwarrowdelf cycle. In other words, we again didn’t obtain card aiming for Dwarves. This can create a certain conflict, if we really should fully aim at Dwarves or if we should include some cards, which have synergies with Noldor. Containing both synergies could weaken each other. Well, to all players who are trying to solve this conflict I can give you the common advice: combine cards and just try what works best for you. 

Back to Elrond’s Counsel, the combination of no-cost and reducing 3 threat and adding 1 Willpower makes from this event very desired card in any Spirit deck. It’s hard to resist this event completely – but you must count with adding unique Noldor, which can be considered for a special cost. 

Final rating


Lore sphere

Short Cut

The next card specializes in manipulating with locations, so it shouldn’t surprise us that event Short Cut belongs to the Lore sphere, where we have already encountered events with similar specialization (Secret Paths, Strider’s Path). It has 1 cost and owns this Response: “After a location enters play, exhaust a Hobbit character to shuffle that location back into the encounter deck. Then, reveal 1 card from the encounter deck and add it to the staging area.” 

The moment for playing Short Cut occurs when a location enters play – in other words, during revealing of encounter cards within the Quest phase. Potential “when revealed” effect of location must be triggered at first, after that you may trigger Short Cut. It’s a bit shame because location like Stagnant Creek would have been better to shuffle immediately during revealing, thus you could avoid its “when revealed” effect.

Anyway, the evident aspect of this event you won’t surely overlook. Instead of Dwarf, you (again) must play a character with the non-Dwarf trait, in this case with Hobbit. I mention that because the Dwarrowdelf cycle is generally considered to be the “home cycle” of all Dwarves. Short Cut violates this assumption, like many other cards from the current cycle (Rivendell Bow, Rivendell Blade, Elrond’s Counsel or Good Meal). Fortunately, the card doesn’t say anything about Hobbit hero (Bilbo Baggins, Frodo Baggins), so it is enough when you include Hobbit allies like Wandering Took or Keen-eyed Took

!SPOILER! But to be honest – until you won’t buy the saga expansion The Black Riders, where the number of Hobbits dramatically increases, the choice of characters with this trait is very modest.

The presence of Hobbit is needed just for exhaustion. Because Hobbits aren’t known for their big questing/attacking/defending quality, you probably won’t miss them during these actions. So finally, after some location enters play and you exhaust Hobbit character, you can do this: shuffle that location back into the encounter deck. The reason for doing that lies in what location you reveal during staging. And it’s extremely clear that you will shuffle the most horrible locations you just don’t wish to face. Because “when revealed” effects of locations trigger prior to Short Cut, you can aim only on locations with troublesome travel (Stair Falls) or passive effects (Branching Paths), or locations with the high threat (Zigil Mineshaft). That’s the biggest weakness of this event because locations with “when revealed” effects used to be the nastiest.

However, the effect of Short Cut continues. Instead of the location you must reveal 1 card from the encounter deck and add it to the staging area. Until now, Short Cut could be viewed as a quite sympathetic and useful card. But revealing another encounter card devalues the overall usefulness of Short Cut. In many scenarios, if you don’t face the location lock, locations used to be a quite acceptable kind of encounter cards, on the contrary of treacheries and enemies. Revealing the new encounter card instead of location can cruelly retaliate to you. Apart from that, you can reveal the shuffled location again, then the effect of Short Cut loses meaning.

It doesn’t seem with Short Cut well. The effect needs for its triggering Hobbits, trait which is currently represented by a few heroes and allies. It can’t do anything with location with “when revealed” effects. Instead of location, you must reveal the new encounter card, which can be even worse. And finally, you have to pay for this 1 cost. Even for free, I would hesitate to think about the usefulness of this card, but 1 cost just underlines the miserably devised effect of Short Cut.

Final rating


Legacy of Durin

The only card of The Watcher in the Water somehow connected with the “home trait” Dwarf, is Legacy of Durin – 1-cost Lore attachment with the unique symbol. If you think about adding this card, you definitely must own a couple of Dwarves. Firstly, you have to own Dwarf hero, because Legacy of Durin demands that. It’s a truth that in Lore sphere we have only Bifur for attaching, so you must use him, or Dwarf hero from another sphere. Secondly, with each played Dwarf you may draw one card.

Because the game text specifies that the effect of Legacy of Durin triggers only during playing Dwarf character from your hand, it excludes the potential using of Sneak Attack or Stand and Fight on Dwarf ally to trigger Legacy of Durin. But that’s probably the single and little imperfection. Anyway, drawing cards on the basis of playing Dwarves is a great idea and it comes in handy in any Dwarf deck. You don’t have to think about a suitable strategy, because the only thing you should arrange is bringing as many Dwarves as possible to utilize Legacy of Durin to the maximum. Bringing many Dwarves isn’t an issue at all, because from the Core set, Shadows of Mirkwood cycle, Khazad-Dum, and Dwarrowdelf cycle we have met plentiful kind of these little creatures – to be more precise, 11 kinds of Dwarf allies, 5 from them belong to Lore sphere. Well, not every Dwarf ally you will probably use (Longbeard Map-Maker, Brok Ironfist, Bombur), but you have still a wide choice because many Dwarf allies are not unique (so you can play with 3 copies of certain Dwarf at once).

You can view Legacy of Durin as a reliable and cheap alternative to more classic cards with a drawing-card effect. Not everyone is willing to pay 3 resources for Lórien’s Wealth or X resources for Gandalf’s Search. Because of their cost, I guess you have already removed these Lore events a long time ago. Legacy of Durin may renew your positive attitude to drawing-card effects. However, some players could note that at Legacy of Durin the cost lies in paying for Dwarves themselves. You would then actually pay for each drawn card by the cost of Dwarves. But from another side, cards drawn by Legacy of Durin can be rather viewed as an additional bonus to played Dwarves. 

Making combo with cards based on discarding other cards (Watcher of the Bruinen, Éowyn or Protector of Lórien) seems like a good idea. I think that running out of the player deck isn’t actually an issue, or it is highly improbable, so don’t be worried about ample use of Legacy of Durin.  

The official FAQ doesn’t say anything about errata of Legacy of Durin (though some players may think this attachment is quite overpowered), but across community circulates the information that the errata for this card exists, still not officially announced. The new version of Legacy of Durin says you must exhaust this attachment if you want to draw a card for arriving Dwarf. But nothing is written yet, so I think it’s still legal to use Legacy of Durin in the old way, without the necessity of exhaustion.

Final rating


Neutral sphere

Resourceful

Everyone who belongs to fans of Secrecy mechanism, sit up and take notice. Resourceful is Neutral attachment with Secrecy keyword – it’s the first time the Neutral sphere is included in Secrecy mechanism. And that’s definitely good because the affiliation of heroes to concrete spheres doesn’t matter when you want to pay for Neutral cards. It has 4 cost – outside of the Neutral sphere this would have meant an issue to pay for this at all, but luckily you don’t have to solve spheres in this case.

Resourceful allows you to attach it to the hero you control. This restriction weakens the flexibility of Resourceful because unlike Steward of Gondor, you can’t target any hero in the play. Nevertheless, all Secrecy fans will surely whoop up, because players below 20 threat will pay for this attachment only a single resource (Secrecy 3). When you attach it, the hero gains extra resource at the end of each Resource phase. Well, that’s a great motivation to keep threat below 20 and pay just 1 resource for this amazing effect.:)

Its effect ranks Resourceful among the most useful Secrecy cards. You know how each obtained resource can help you – each obtained resource has great value, especially in the early game. The regular income of extra resource will significantly ease your game because you can afford more expensive cards, play them earlier, play more cards at once and/or have resources in reserve for playing events in important moments. The biggest efficiency proves to be in triphere decks, where the shortage of resources used to be the most obvious and painful. 

According to my theory, Resourceful was primarily intended for 2-hero decks. The reason for such an assumption is simple: only 2-hero deck allows you to utilize Secrecy effectively, at least at this moment. Built 2-hero deck has one main, significant issue: you lose the character able to generate resources, besides other things. The absence of the third hero should partially remedy Resourceful.

Maybe somebody won’t resist the comparison of Resourceful versus Steward of Gondor. To be honest, Resourceful hasn’t any ambition to replace Steward of Gondor, which is diametrically somewhere else – 2 additional resources each round generated by attachment for 2 cost… that just cannot be conquered. I see Resourceful as “light version” of Steward of Gondor, for Secrecy decks. 

I haven’t tried it myself yet, but I ask the question: is it worth adding Resourceful to non-Secrecy deck? After all, gaining 1 additional resource each round will always come in handy. Are you willing to pay for it 4 resources (however, 4 resources from any sphere)? From a long-term view, it might not be a completely bad idea. And because Resourceful lacks unique symbol, theoretically with 3 copies of this attachment you would become “resource magnate”.:) I let the answer on each of you and your own personal preferences. 

Final rating


Summary review

Hero

Lore Aragorn has started the new phenomenon of remade heroes within a different sphere. Aragorn is the very first pioneer and I must admit very successful. What was good, stayed good: I speak about stats and Sentinel keyword, which made from Leadership Aragorn very flexible and powerful hero already. However, the key thing which is making from “Loragorn” very desired character lies in his ability. “Resetting” threat to default value can be understood as an “emergency cord” when the threat reaches the dangerously high value. It would be very useful in Secrecy decks if he hadn’t so high starting threat. Nevertheless, Lore Aragorn deserves attention, credit and also high rating. He is coming to a hostile environment full of Tentacles, and you will see you appreciate his strength to fight with them.

Final rating


Allies

Two allies from different spheres, each of them with different ratio of usefulness. While Watcher of the Bruinen works more specifically, Arwen Undómiel will fit in any deck with access to the Spirit sphere. I appreciate the effort of Tactics ally to repetitively defend more enemies – but he, unfortunately, hasn’t appropriate stats for such activity, at least in Dwarrowdelf. If you play in non-progression mode, you could be satisfied with him in Shadows of Mirkwood, where you meet many enemies with the under-average attack. But at this moment, he rather dies than you would utilize him multiple times.

Arwen Undómiel, on the other hand, has an enviable ratio of cost versus stats (2-0-1-2) and she positively influences other characters. She boosts +1 Defense and adds Sentinel to a given character whenever you exhaust her. It’s more effective and usable than Watcher of the Bruinen, who needs for his repetitive action discarding cards and better stats. You won’t do with Arwen Undómiel anything else than send her to a quest… thus you will use her ability frequently and on any defender you want. 

Final rating


Events

Searching a champion among 3 events isn’t hard at all. Elrond’s Counsel leads the way, confidently and without doubts. It shouldn’t miss in any deck with Noldor character,

With the other 2 events, it’s a bit worse. Grave Cairn offers the usage of Attack of left character, but you would have to lurk on the right character with reasonable Attack. It reminds more situational event, which is waiting on the right time, which might not come. Short Cut is on the other side card with wasted potential. It would have been enough, if you could shuffle the revealed location immediately, just before “when revealed” effects, and if you needn’t the revealing of another encounter card, which can mean even the bigger threat.

Final rating


Attachments

The greatest choice you will find among attachments. Lore Aragorn should get Sword that was Broken if you have access to the Leadership sphere. You shouldn’t close eyes before +1 Willpower for each character you control. On the other side, if you play with Legolas, you should attach him Rivendell Bow. Again… you shouldn’t close eyes before permanent +1 Attack. Of course, other Noldor and Silvan (and Aragorn) can gain Ranged, which is also useful.

But the list of useful attachments doesn’t end here. Lore sphere introduces Legacy of Durin, the attachment built for Dwarf decks. Everybody will surely welcome drawing 1 card for each played Dwarf, it’s a nice and significant bonus. More Dwarf allies mean more cards… and wider options. And finally, the Secrecy decks obtain their champion and must-have card, Resourceful. Adding 1 resource each round I would consider even in non-Secrecy decks.

What else should I say? Attachments of The Watcher in the Water reach not negligible quality. If I decide about buying this adventure pack (if I haven’t urge to buy every adventure pack in sequential order :)), then this pack would be the number one from the view of attachments. We find here no desperate card, only just useful and strong cards.

Final rating


Overall evaluation

For the title of TOP CARD are striving more cards, one better than another. Each sphere offers its champion – Sword that was Broken, Rivendell Bow, Arwen Undómiel and Elrond’s Counsel, Legacy of Durin and of course Resourceful. So many amazing cards, but which one deserves to be the “flagship”? I may surprise you, but… I won’t announce the TOP CARD from all these mentioned cards. In my point of view, the new version of Aragorn is the king and the most powerful card you meet in The Watcher in the Water. Why I was led to this result? Because Aragorn doesn’t need the presence of DwarvesNoldors, Aragorns, Secrecy mechanism, etc. Everything you need is to just use Aragorn’s ability, without any condition. It’s once per game, but the effect can return you at the start of the game, meaning from the view of the threat. That’s a hard hit against encounter deck, whose task is, besides other things, increase your threat as much as possible as soon as possible. 

And what about SHEEP CARD? We are resolving the opposite issue (though it’s definitely good :)): not many cards in the current adventure pack are downright bad. Even the weaker cards have specific usage. But one card can get you into bigger troubles than you ever have been and can work contra-productive. As you suspect, Short Cut, which cooperates with Hobbits, may cause that you reveal a more dangerous encounter card than the location you decide to shuffle. It’s a pity because Short Cut could be more useful… if its effect was a bit modified.

On the contrary of TOP CARD, I was clear about MOST ENRICHED SPHERE from the beginning. Simultaneously, it’s the sphere, which doesn’t frequently “take over this title” – the Spirit sphere, represented by Arwen Undómiel and Elrond’s Counsel. Arwen Undómiel returns from The Redhorn Gate and Road to Rivendell (as objective-ally) in a cool form. Her usefulness I have already analyzed, but I just repeat it in one sentence: she has a good exchange of stats versus cost and perfect ability able to help you during defending. Elrond’s Counsel creates the natural combo with Arwen Undómiel. The given character gains +1 Willpower, you “by the way” reduce your threat by 3 and for all of this you pay… nothing. Surely the Spirit sphere deserves such evaluation.

The set of strong cards makes from The Watcher in the Water desired adventure pack. It doesn’t mean you will go through this scenario without losses or effort. Tentacles and The Watcher are still a menacing challenge, where Aragorn and others will have to join their forces to beat them. But even outside of this scenario, this pack is for all of the players who plan to play with DwarvesNoldors, Secrecy and/or they search for the strong hero.

Final rating


TOP CARD

ARAGORN (LORE)


SHEEP CARD

SHORT CUT


MOST ENRICHED SPHERE

SPIRIT SPHERE (ARWEN UNDÓMIEL + ELROND’S COUNSEL)

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