The walls are weeping water, and the air grows damp. A low rumble sounds from above, accompanied by the sound of rushing water. There are underground waterways in Moria that lead to deep darkness, and who knows what else…
Deeper in the Mines of Moria you hear sounds of splashing water. The water is dripping from the ceiling, leaking out from the cracks of the rock and in a while, you are wading through the water to the knees. You feel that something bad will happen, but now exceptionally it has nothing to do with Orcs. Some catastrophe is coming, you know it. And in addition, you feel that some ancient evil, which rests in the deepest caves, is waking up…
You surely remember Glorfindel from the Core set: the hero with quite strong stats, but with high starting threat and not super-useful ability. This hero probably rests among other set-aside cards for a long time already. That’s not the case of the Spirit Glorfindel. You will certainly use his services for a long time.
The stats of Spirit Glorfindel are exactly the same as of original Glorfindel: 3-3-1-5. In Spirit environment, such stats really shine. He has only 1 less Willpower than Éowyn. As for Attack, nobody from Spirit heroes can be compared to him (excluding Dúnhere attacking an enemy in the staging area). If you need some good attacker, you don’t have to search for help in another sphere anymore. Spirit sphere is then becoming more independent. Finally, 1 Defense won’t stop many enemies, but 5 Hit Points you shouldn’t ignore: he resists much damage dealt from the encounter cards, so you don’t have to be much scared of encounter cards like Dark and Dreadful.
The best thing about this hero is, however, an exceptional starting threat: 5. Including Spirit Glorfindel to your deck means the significant reduction of your overall starting threat. That’s very good news for all Secrecy decks and generally for all decks, where you want to keep your starting threat at the very low start point. In practice, with the monosphere Spirit deck and with Spirit Glorfindel, you may start a bit above 20 starting threat. You still will encounter annoying enemies like Goblin Spearman or Goblin Swordsman but on the other hand, you will be safe for a long time from enemies like Nameless Thing, Moria Bats, and of course Elder Nameless Thing, the worst “thing” you can meet in Foundations of Stone.
The very low starting threat of this hero isn’t, however, for free. Respectively, you will pay for his impressive stats and low starting threat in the term of raising threat. That’s his cost, which you must accept. As long as you are exhausting him due to questing, you raise your threat by 1. So the increase of your threat will double. Surely you may use Spirit Glorfindel for attacking duty, thus you avoid his cost. But oftentimes, you will need his Willpower, so you should count with this cost.
Galadhrim’s Greetings, Gandalf’s effect,or Elrond’s Counsel (which makes the synergy with Glorfindel because of the fact he is Noldor) may reduce the impact of Glorfindel’s Forced effect. However, there exists one elegant solution, how to completely eliminate it and gain Glorfindel without any limitations. The solution is called Light of Valinor. Because this unique attachment prevents the exhaustion of questing character, it means one thing: Glorfindel wouldn’t raise the threat during questing at all. What do you say? We haven’t seen such a powerful combo for a long time. You then can throw away the worries about the acceleration of raising threat during a quest and you may use Glorfindel as you wish.What to say at the end? Do you actually realize that you have probably got the most powerful hero from the whole cycle?
!SPOILER! Well, Elrond will come in this cycle as well. However, he lacks one thing that won’t surpass Glorfindel: the low starting threat.
He poses a great reinforcement for the Spirit sphere. He inherits the amazing stats after the Lore Glorfindel and additionally gains a very low starting threat. As long as he has attaching Light of Valinor, nothing should bother you.
Longbeard Elder is from the times of Longbeard Orc Slayer (Core set) the first Leadership Dwarf we are encountering. That’s a very, very long time for all fans of Dwarf decks, who are searching for Dwarves within the Leadership sphere. But Longbeard Elder is here, so I won’t let him wait for too long.:)
Paying 3 Leadership resources shouldn’t mean any trouble for you, but on the other hand, we are expecting at least reasonable stats and/or ability. 2 Willpower for 3 cost isn’t the best exchange we could imagine, but within the Leadership sphere we are glad for such Willpower value. The previous Erestor had 2 Willpower for 4 cost, so everything is good so far now. 1 Attack and 1 Defense with 2 Hit Points don’t predetermine Longbeard Elder for combat duty. In “boosted mode” (with Dáin Ironfoot in the play) we can enjoy quite attractive stats 3-2-1-2, so this ally may play an important role in your questing efforts.
The questing duty is also supported by his Response. After you commit him to a quest, you look at the top card from the encounter deck. If you reveal a location, you put 1 progress token on the current quest (or active location, if present). Otherwise, this ally gains -1 Willpower until the end of the phase. So we have here the rewarding ability if you reveal a location, but at the same time punishing ability, if you reveal anything else. Such ability, based on rewarding/punishing mechanism, belongs to the rarity. The overall result depends on the revealed top encounter card. And how do you ensure that you will profit from his ability each time? Due to scrying abilities. The simplest way to profit from his ability lies in cooperation with Henamarth Riversong. He is cheap, you get him onto the board very quickly and owns undemanding ability: after you exhaust him, you may look at the top encounter card. The very similar ability has Denethor, but sometimes you rather prefer to defend with him (moreover with A Burning Brand attached) than use his scrying ability. From Henamarth Riversong you don’t expect anything else than to scry encounter deck. Thus, the tandem Longbeard Elder + Henamarth Riversong works perfectly. The effect itself may speed up your progression, or at least can help you to get rid off the active location, making the free place for another.
And what about the case, when you shoot blind, and you won’t reveal a location? Is it really harmful to gain a negative Willpower value? Well, -1 Willpower doesn’t pose a real threat for you. In true Dwarf deck with Dáin Ironfoot you will hardly notice such a tiny Willpower reduction. I think that the chance you quest unsuccessfully, because of revealing the non-location top encounter card, is negligible. You may always count with at least 1 Willpower from Longbeard Elder, 2 Willpower with Dáin Ironfoot. And furthermore, Dwarf decks are offering you some cards, how to improve your questing effort, like Durin’s Song, Untroubled by Darkness, Ancestral Knowledge. So don’t hesitate to include Longbeard Elder into your Dwarf deck, he will be valid and reliable ally for you.
With slow finishing of the whole cycle we are getting cards with stronger effect. Look at Imladris Stargazer, Light of Valinor, Glorfindel, Asfaloth… each of these cards significantly influences the game progression, of course from the positive view. When you look at Path of Need, few characteristics strikes you into eyes immediately: 4 cost and limitation 1 Path of Need per deck. 4 cost for attachment is a lot. With Citadel Plate it’s the most expensive attachment we have met. The limitation “1 per deck” is completely new characteristic that we encounter for the first time. The card with such characteristics should be really powerful. Does it apply for this card?
Path of Need targets location, not player cards as we are used to. The following effect triggers when location is active: “Heroes do not exhaust to attack, defend, or commit to a quest while attached location is the active location.” I have some objections to this card, but let’s begin with positives. Each player will surely agree that the effect itself provides a great advantage. Keeping heroes ready during questing, defending, or attacking will incredibly free your hands when you are planning any strategy. You can actually use any number of heroes during questing and attacking without worrying about them. Defending is a bit different discipline – you can use defending hero as attacker as well, but the given hero should be able to defend properly – to at least survive the incoming attack. All in all – the quest progression should be significantly accelerated and within combat you should have the upper hand.
The biggest problem is that you will own such privileges only if you hold Path of Need on active location. Active location isn’t the best target for such effect, because you (should) tend to get rid off the active location as fast as possible. The reason for this tendency is clear – the risk of location lock is then fairly reduced. Many locations you explore during the single questing effort, at least in the ideal case. From this premise arises that the effect of Path of Need will hold for the single round at most. If you are not willing to artificially prolong “the life” of active location (and take the risk of location lock occurrence), then Path of Need could be useful only in certain situations. Certainly, some locations you hardly explore during the single turn (thus the importance of Path of Need would be increased), like Dreadful Gap. However, not always you are struggling with questing and/or fighting, therefore the help of Path of Need might be quite redundant.
Is the limit “once per deck” somehow more restrictive than a simple unique symbol? Well, the unique symbol in the case of Path of Need wouldn’t be enough. It could threaten the balance of the game, if you could play more copies of this attachment just after each other, moreover if you return them by Erebor Hammersmith. So the single copy of this attachment should be fair from the view of balance, but what about from the view of benefits for players? If you really want to use Path of Need than you will need some card, which will ease you its searching. Like Word of Command, probably the card you can’t do without if you mean it seriously with Path of Need.
The adjusting the deck because of the single card (actually the single copy) always looks suspiciously. Path of Need will require Word of Command (and maybe Erebor Hammersmith), viable active location and suitable situation. Otherwise, why to even bother to add this expensive card into your deck, if you might use its effect only during the 1-2 rounds? I think that this attachment mainly targets the wrong aim, which causes the impracticality of otherwise very strong effect.
Trollshaw Scout is the attacking version of Watcher of the Bruinen. The similar stats are distributed, how we would expect: instead of 1 Attack and 2 Defense Trollshaw Scout has 2 Attack and 1 Defense. Everything else remains like at Watcher of the Bruinen (0 Willpower, 2 Hit Points, and 2 cost).
Once I said that I consider defending as a bit more important than attacking. Why? Because defending precedes attacking – first, you must defend and survive to be able to strike back. From this view, Watcher of the Bruinen holds the more important post, he has a key role. But as I also said in his own review, 2 Defense and 2 Hit Points won’t hold back many enemies in Dwarrowdelf cycle. It’s because enemies of this cycle are stronger generally, 3 Attack used to be a default value. Thus, he won’t probably survive more than 1-2 rounds. Why am I saying this in Trollshaw Scout’s review? Because both allies share also the same ability: after they defend (Watcher of the Bruinen) or attack (Trollshaw Scout), you either discard 1 card from your hand or discard them. Also, they won’t exhaust if they defend (Watcher of the Bruinen) or attack (Trollshaw Scout). This means that Watcher of the Bruinen will be hardly used more times when he defends. Trollshaw Scout, on the other hand, doesn’t need to be afraid of life, because his primary task is attack. And so you rather use him in more than 1-2 rounds and deal damage to many enemies. It just depends on how many cards you can spare.
If you have access to draw-cards effects (Gléowine, Beravor, etc.), then Trollshaw Scout may attack multiple times on different frontlines. His effort is also supported by Ranged keyword, so he can strike everywhere. 2 Attack standalone might not be a high value, but you surely should support him with more attacking characters. The important thing is that you can count with 2 Attack on each enemy as long as you are willing to discard cards from your hands.
As the owner of Noldor trait, you can build from him a decent warrior. Well, you don’t have to stay at improving just one copy of Trollshaw Scout, because he misses a unique symbol. With Rivendell Blade he decreases the Defense of an enemy by 2, so practically it is like he would be boosted by +2 Attack. Each Trollshaw Scout could be also boosted by a less effective, but also useful Rivendell Bow. The primary weapon for Legolas can hold even this ally and gain +1 Attack. It’s not so good as Rivendell Blade but combined with that attachment you build very powerful ally.
All these possibilities depends on your answer on this question: how much are you willing to discard other cards from your hands to fully develop the potential of this ally? It is certain you would have to adjust your strategy because of the single ally (adding cards with drawing-card effects, adding Rivendell Bow and Rivendell Blade…). The more straightforward (and probably better) way is to just attach these Weapons to more permanent heroes, which don’t need any discarding cards. Building the strategy around Trollshaw Scout sounds better than it really is.
Next Tactic card has synergy with Dwarves, so everybody who loves Dwarf decks, read carefully. Heavy Stroke is a Tactic event for 1 cost, which owns not a very different effect from Khazad! Khazad!. The principle at both cards is the same: to increase the Attack of the chosen Dwarf. While Khazad! Khazad! gives to affected character just +3 Attack, Heavy Stroke deals X damage, where X is damage that the chosen Dwarf has already dealt during combat. In practice, when Gimli deals 5 damage to an enemy, that enemy gets additional 5 damage, so all in all you deal during the single phase 10 damage. It logically follows that the stronger Attack is, the more damage you deal to the enemy. This characteristic makes Heavy Stroke the ideal card in the combat with big bad enemies.
!SPOILER! Look at Durin’s Bane and his 27 Hit Points! A very strong attack from the single Dwarf character can cause massive damage, which will cut off many Hit Points of this boss. During the fight with him, it is important to generate as high Attack as possible because of his ability to regenerate each round.
Heavy Stroke can also save you characters from attacking the same target – if one Dwarf can hurt considerably one enemy, you may use other attackers to strike elsewhere. It can be important during attacking multiple enemies. The main precondition is to own the sufficiently powerful Dwarf, like the mentioned Gimli. Thanks to his natural ability to stockpile the Attack, he is the number 1 for this Tactic event.
Heavy Stroke isn’t, however, the ideal card, usable on every occasion, and owns some disadvantages. One disadvantage (or more precisely, the limitation) is already written on the card: you can use it only once per phase. So no using 2-3 copies of Heavy Stroke during the single strike. The second problem is how often you really need such a big attack? How often do you fight with sturdy enemies? There are much more enemies with “low and medium” value of Hit Points than sturdy enemies with a high value of Hit Points. And in the situations, where you face some strong enemy: isn’t it better and cheaper to just boost the chosen Dwarf by 0-cost Khazad! Khazad!? I have experienced many times that boosting by +3 Attack is more than enough in most cases. And furthermore, you may use as many copies of Khazad! Khazad! as you need, no limitation is present here.
The using of Heavy Stroke is up to each player to consider. The opponents will tell you that you don’t need to boost Attack of your Dwarves more, because Dwarves are already strong enough thanks to great Dáin Ironfoot, Khazad! Khazad!, Erebor Battle Master, etc. Therefore, Heavy Stroke is a bit redundant. But proponents will tell you that due to the natural ability of Dwarf decks to generate the high Attacks, it is easier to utilize Heavy Stroke. Well, this should be valid for any Attack higher than 3. For 3 and lower Attack Khazad! Khazad! is more beneficial, because it has no cost. If I should speak for myself, I don’t neccesarily need this event in my Dwarf decks, but I would consider its adding in scenarios with tough enemies.
One of the most useful and favourite cards of the whole game is coming right now, in Foundations of Stones. You will hear and read about the Spirit ally Imladris Stargazer many times because she fits in many (non-)specific decks.
Why is Imladris Stargazer so popular and players can’t praise her enough? The key to understanding her doesn’t lie in her almost non-existent stats: 0-0-1-1. No, you really won’t pay 2 cost for this. You will use her for just one action: scrying your own deck. Her action allows you to look at the top 5 cards of the deck of the chosen player and returns them to the top of the deck in any order you wish. The necessary condition for this is exhausting her, nothing more. Scrying own deck worths it in any deck, in any situation, with any number of players. You don’t need to think up some sophisticated strategy to maximize her potential: she is as good as she is. Scrying 5 top cards provide you an indisputable advantage. You may better plan your strategy and get the desired cards earlier.
Imladris Stargazer is directly created for making up various combos. Each strategy based on scrying or drawing cards is improved by her presence. Look at one of the first trait-dependent strategies, Eagles. Any Eagle deck won’t do without The Eagles Are Coming! because you can draw from top 5 cards as many Eagle cards as you wish. In a heavy-Eagle deck, there exist a very high chance you encounter at least 1 Eagle. But why to just “assume”, when you could “know”? Imladris Stargazer gives you the knowledge right before you scry through The Eagles Are Coming!. And if none Eagle awaits you in the top 5 cards, thanks to Imladris Stargazer you can save this event.
There is an inexhaustible amount of possibilities on how to use this character. Where I would highly recommend her services, is during using draw-cards effects. Beravor, Lórien’s Wealth, Gandalf’s Search, Daeron’s Runes… all these cards will be improved by Imladris Stargazer’s ability because you will exactly know, what you will draw. Imladris Stargazer also perfectly supports Longbeard Elder, Keen-eyed Took, Gildor Inglorion, and especially Zigil Miner. All these allies own abilities, which actively work with player decks, thus Imladris Stargazer may significantly improve their outcome.
!SPOILER! One of the best combos I know is Imladris Stargazer with Vilya. This Ring, attached to Elrond, enables you to play any card for free completely. Without scrying, this attachment can’t work properly. But with Imladris Stargazer, you are obtaining a very powerful tool to control what you draw.
Add Imladris Stargazer anytime you somehow work with the player’s deck. She can help you no matter which strategy or deck you use. That’s my main message for all of you.
The enumeration of very powerful cards doesn’t end at Imladris Stargazer. On the contrary, we are obtaining another brilliant card, called Light of Valinor – 1-cost Spirit attachment. Though it owns a unique symbol, you won’t hesitate to add 3 copies of it to your deck.
You can attach it to Silvan or Noldor hero. This precondition includes: Legolas, Lore and Spirit Glorfindel, Elrohir, Elladan…
!SPOILER! …and Elrond from Shadow and Flame.
Attached hero won’t exhaust when you send him to the quest. It’s something like Unexpected Courage for questing purpose, BUT without necessity of exhausting the attachment itself. Well… Light of Valinor hasn’t any additional cost, like other cards with good effects. That’s one of the big positive of this attachment. The effect itself will just astonish you. It’s a quite difference against Leadership Aragorn, who has to pay 1 resource from his resource pool to reach the same effect. The given Silvan or Noldor is free to participate in combat afterward. Theoretically, you may send Legolas to the quest, utilize his 1 Willpower without any penalization and then participate in combat. Elrohir and Elladan, each with 2 Willpower, would be even better targets for attaching Light of Valinor. In short, you can quest and fight with one hero in the same round.
However, it isn’t a coincidence that Light of Valinor arrives in Foundations of Stone – the same adventure pack, where Spirit Glorfindel appears. The symbiosis between them is evident – without exhausting Glorfindel won’t raise threat by 1 during questing. So you actually remove the only cost of this hero, which could limit you – the acceleration of raised threat. Glorfindel then becomes the “superhero”, with 3-3-1-5 for just 5 starting threat and with the possibility to quest and fight within the one round. It is like you get two heroes in one. Furthermore, Glorfindel with Light of Valinor may become a reliable member of any Secrecy deck. How painful is, when some nasty encounter card forces you to discard Light of Valinor! For that reason (but not only for that), you should add to your deck at least 2 copies of this attachment (or add Erebor Hammersmith).
Light of Valinor is the type of card, which could cooperate with any (Noldor or Silvan) hero. You might boost the hero’s Willpower, attach to him Light of Valinor, and just enjoy the questing with him. But attaching Light of Valinor to Glorfindel will raise your game to another level. It is like Sauron would gain the One Ring.:) Both cards merge into powerful being able to bravely fight with encounter deck. Thus, when you decide to play with Spirit Glorfindel, you should add Light of Valinor automatically, there is no excuse for doing anything else.
You are surely glad to see any Lore card with 0 cost. In Foundations of Stone, we have even got two 0-cost cards – Daeron’s Runes and Healing Herbs. I’m going to analyze Daeron’s Runes now.
Even though some Dwarf is illustrated on the card, Dwarf trait (as the precondition for playing this card) is missing here. It adds versatility to this card. It differs from Legacy of Durin. I’m not pointing at Legacy of Durin by accident – it shares a similar effect with Daeron’s Runes as well. The theme of both cards is drawing cards. While Dwarf hero with attached Legacy of Durin will allow you to draw 1 card anytime you play Dwarf character, Daeron’s Runes allows you to draw 2 cards. Then, however, you must discard 1 card from your hand.
Both Lore cards have quite a powerful effect, but Daeron’s Runes provides you undisputed versatility due to lack of trait-dependence. You can play it in any deck with access to the Lore sphere. The most important aspect of Daeron’s Runes consists in payoff – 0 cost for 2 cards. No card until now offers you such payoff, in the majority of cases, you draw cards in proportion to spent resources (Lórien’s Wealth = 3 cards for 3 cost, Campfire Tales = 1 card for 1 cost, etc.). The payoff of Daeron’s Runes is then exceptionally advantageous for you, although you must discard 1 card after that. Still, you might choose and discard the card you already hold in your hands. If you hold some card, which is useless at the moment, you may discard it and keep both drawn cards. The fewer cards you hold, the more difficult it is to choose “the useless” card, of course. In case you want to keep each card you already have, then you must discard one from the cards you have drawn due to Daeron’s Runes effect. And if you like both drawn cards… well, you have a hard choice ahead of you. This I see as the only, potential negative of Daeron’s Runes. To prevent that, you may play this event only if you hold some expendable card and not rely on, what you will draw. According to me, the best moment you could utilize Daeron’s Runes is in the early and mid game, when you have a rich offer of cards.
Daeron’s Runes, like any card with draw-effects, perfectly cooperates with scrying cards. And you needn’t search for a suitable card in previous packs or expansions. Imladris Stargazer has appeared in the same pack, so you can use her services immediately. If you rather search for scrying card within the Lore sphere, another option is to add more expensive Gildor Inglorion or Gandalf’s Search. I rather recommend adding Imladris Stargazer due to her cost and effectiveness.
Daeron’s Runes doesn’t need any special tactic or preconditions. Drawing 2 cards for 0 resources I consider for super-beneficial. Even that 1 discarded card isn’t any obstacle you should be worried. I caught myself that each time I play with the Lore sphere, I add Daeron’s Runes to my deck without any thinking. It’s because the effect is universally good and strong. That’s how I imagine the “auto-included” card.
If you are hungry for other cards with healing effects, Healing Herbs should interest you. The Lore attachment for free (that’s the second within Foundation of Stones) may be attached to heroes with the Lore sphere icon. So as at other similar cards, either you should own some Lore heroes, or cards, which add sphere icon (Song of Wisdom, Narvi’s Belt). To trigger the effect of Healing Herbs you have to 1) discard Healing Herbs, and 2) exhaust attached hero. After that, you may choose any 1 character and heal all damage on him.
The effect itself seems nice, but I will return to that a bit later. Everyone, who is surprised by quite inconvenient conditions (discarding the attachment AND exhausting attached hero) should realize that you don’t pay anything for Healing Herbs – the cost consists in the term of discarding and exhausting. Look at another, the previous card with the identical effect – Lore of Imladris. For 2 cost you also heal all damage from 1 chosen character. Now, what’s more convenient for you: exhaust hero or pay resources? The answer depends on the given situation and the chosen overall strategy. Healing Herbs worth it if the hero has attached Unexpected Courage, if you can ready him in another way or, certainly, if the situation affords it to you. This attachment is also suitable for everyone, who has resource issues or if you just wish to spare some resources. On the contrary, for Lore of Imladris reach players who don’t solve issues with lack of resources, or players who don’t like exhausting as the form of cost in general. I belong to the second group of players, to be honest. Only seldom I can afford to “sacrifice the readiness” of the hero in behalf of another ability or effect. Personally, from the term of the cost, I would choose Lore of Imladris.
Healing all damage from 1 character brings him the new impulse to life. Thus, I suggest that Healing Herbs worth it for seriously wounded heroes you don’t want to lose. And be sure your heroes will seriously bleed in Foundations of Stone. Nameless Thing and Elder Nameless Thing will attack for quite crazy values, and if you will be forced to defend them with heroes, then healing them will be your primary task.
It is however question, if Healing Herbs, in the presence of great Warden of Healing, wouldn’t excessively take up the spot in your deck. Wouldn’t it be better to heal characters continuously than to wait on serious damage and therefore risk their life? And don’t forget, that unlike the event Lore of Imladris, to use this attachment you firstly must attach Healing Herbs to the hero in the Planning phase. As you see, the usage of Healing Herbs demands more preparation. I’d like to also mention, that Healing Herbs must be discarded for its effect, while such Self Preservation, though more expensive, remains and heals 2 damage from your character permanently.
When I was summarizing it, I realize that Healing Herbs lags behind each of his “competitor”. Warden of Healing, Lore of Imladris, and Self Preservation do their job a bit better, more effective. This is the reason, why I prefer each of them before Healing Herbs, though I admit the free cost joined with fully heal of any character looks attractively.
Like The Long Dark, Foundations of Stone doesn’t offer any Neutral card. Instead of Neutral card, we are getting another card from the Lore sphere. Asfaloth, the faithful horse of Glorfindel, is not coming as the ally, but as the unique attachment for 2 cost. It targets Noldor and Silvan characters, like Light of Valinor, thus the list of Silvan and Noldor characters (heroes), which may hold Asfaloth, remains the same: Legolas, Elrohir, Elladan, and Lore / Spirit Glorfindel. Its first part of Action says: “Exhaust Asfaloth to place 1 progress token on any location.” Before analyzing the text in the bracket, I stop here and meditate about the first part. Exhausting the attachment itself is better than to exhaust its attacher because you save the attacher for any action. We have seen it at Healing Herbs, which demands to discard Healing Herbs AND exhaustion of the attacher, that you can’t afford such condition anytime in any situation. Asfaloth doesn’t influence his “rider” at all, so I consider it for a very good news.
Each player who strictly judges the payoff (dis)advantage could think about this: how strong is the effect of placing 1 progress token on any location? If Asfaloth had been a one-time event, I would have considered the effect for weak one. But Asfaloth remains in the game, it even misses “discarding itself” condition. Placing 1 progress token to a location each round belongs to quite good effects. Not only you may target the active location, but you may also choose any location in the staging area. Not many locations own few Quest Points (Turbulent Waters), rather you encounter locations with 3 and more Quest Points. Exploring such locations with just Asfaloth would take up several rounds, therefore it wouldn’t protect you from location lock very effectively. For that reason, add Northern Tracker and you will make the powerful combo, which places on the single location in the staging area 2 progress tokens each round. That’s a big amount of progress tokens and great facilitation in clearing the staging area, thus reducing overall Threat Strength. Location lock then stops to be an issue for you. Quite useful combos with Asfaloth can create Snowbourn Scout, The Riddermark’s Finest, and in the case of Rohan decks, Ride to Ruin. Ravenhill Scout could help you with distribution progress tokens among locations, but it would work only if more locations in the staging area have some amount of progress tokens, which you could utilize and move to the right location. For example, when Northern Tracker adds to each location in the staging area progress tokens, which Ravenhill Scout could move to the desired locations and fully explore it by Asfaloth. That’s a theory of this combo, don’t know how feasible it is in practice, however.
But if you read attentively, at the beginning of the review I have mentioned Glorfindel. It wasn’t random reference – Asfaloth really cooperates with this hero, like Celebrían’s Stone or Sword that was Broken cooperates with Aragorn. The text in the bracket says that if the attached hero is Glorfindel, Asfaloth adds to any location 2 progress tokens instead of 1. Actually, this text guides you to attach Asfaloth to Glorfindel exclusively, because the strength of this effect doubles and makes the exploration of locations even easier. During 2 rounds you get rid of locations with 4 and less Quest Points, during 3 rounds with 6 and less Quest Points, etc. Making combo with any above-mentioned cards even accelerates the speed of exploration. So Glorfindel with attached Light of Valinor and Asfaloth will quest for 3 Willpower without exhaustion and moreover you will place 2 progress tokens to any location. This trio of cards allows you to have control over the progression through the game in general. I think that using Asfaloth without Glorfindel would be a waste of true potential of this attachment.
After a long time of Éowyn dominance, Spirit Glorfindel is another hero from this sphere who you will glad to use, thanks to the combination of attributes he has. 5 starting threat and 3-3-1-5 sounds like a too unbelievable fairy tale, but it is truth. The cost is lying in something else, naturally: in raising threat by 1 after each committing to the quest. A double raising threat won’t please you, but fortunately, Light of Valinor can fix this. You, therefore, get one of the strongest heroes (not only in the Spirit sphere) you have ever met.
I glad to see any Leadership ally, moreover with Dwarf trait. Longbeard Elder will interest all players who are looking for some quest improvement. I don’t mean his 2 Willpower now, but his ability. You put 1 progress token on the current quest or debuff currently Longbeard Elder by -1 Willpower. The result depends on the top card of your deck – if it is a location, you gain a positive effect, otherwise, you have debuff this ally. I would add Longbeard Elder rather due to his Dwarf trait (and thus possible synergy with Dáin Ironfoot) than due to his not perfect, not horrible ability, which may (not) work.
Trollshaw Scout is the attacking version of Watcher of the Bruinen, with similar stats and similar abilities. Trollshaw Scout, however, has a far bigger chance to survive due to his attacking duty. The question is, are you willing to pay 2 resources for 2 Attack (and Ranged keyword) + pay for his staying in the game by discarding other cards? For me, it’s not the best way how to treat with your own cards. But for other players, his existence makes more sense until they are willing to discard cards. Unlike Watcher of the Bruinen, who is evidently chump blocker, but his ability wants to delude you should also discard cards for him because he is a good defender. He will die before you get to discarding cards, so the tactics based on Watcher of the Bruinen don’t make sense. From this view, I see Trollshaw Scout as a little bit better choice than Watcher of the Bruinen.
Pointing out the positives of Imladris Stargazer is like to bring sand to the beach. Scrying the top 5 cards of your decks just belong among the effects usable in any situation. There is no deck, where Imladris Stargazer would be unnecessary.
Here I will continue from the last sentence of Imladris Stargazer and just repeat – there is no deck, where Daeron’s Runes would be unnecessary. Its drawing effect is generally beneficial. About Heavy Stroke, bring it to scenarios where combat with tough enemies will await you. Heavy Stroke needn’t be part of each Dwarf deck, because this type of trait-based deck owns enough mechanisms to excel in combat (Dáin Ironfoot, Khazad! Khazad!, Erebor Battle Master).
In Foundations of Stone, you find up to 3 unique attachments, implying they are carrying exceptional abilities. Path of Need is deviating a bit, because even though nobody doubt about its usefulness, it aims the bad target, which makes from Path of Need impractical, expensive attachment. In addition, you may add to your deck only 1 copy of Path of Need, so without cards like Word of Command, there is a very little chance you will draw it.
On the other hand, Light of Valinor and Asfaloth work perfectly, when they are attached to Glorfindel (rather his Spirit version). Light of Valinor causes that Spirit Glorfindel stays ready, so he doesn’t have to raise his threat by 1 during questing. The effect is generally advantageous for any Noldor or Silvan character, but Spirit Glorfindel profits from this attachment at most. Asfaloth attached to Glorfindel generates 2 progress tokens on any location – that’s a great prevention against location lock, combined with Northern Tracker at best. And again, Glorfindel profits from attached Asfaloth at most, while the benefit for other Noldor and Silvan characters is slightly worse. In short, Light of Valinor and Asfaloth (and Spirit Glorfindel, actually) belongs among the most powerful cards of Dwarrowdelf cycle.
The only non-unique attachment Healing Herbs owns also strong effect, but the overall concept of this card is rather more modest than spectacular. This is mainly due to the fact that Healing Herbs for free from the view of resources, however it costs the “life” of this attachment and the readiness of the attached hero. The healing effect pleases all, whose heroes seriously bleed, but I think we already own better “healing options”.
I think that the most difficult decision awaits me right now – to choose the best card of this adventure pack. It hasn’t happened yet that in the single adventure pack we have gained 5! excellent cards, where each of them becomes the reliable, solid foundation within their spheres. My choice will be clearly subjective because we could argue about each of these 5 cards, why it should deserve the title of TOP CARD. Well, I announce as TOP CARD Glorfindel. Why? He has amazing stats for Spirit hero and unrivaled starting threat. I see him as the direct competitor (if I could say it in this way) of Éowyn, until now the undoubtedly best Spirit hero. That proves the strength of Glorfindel. However, Glorfindel serves as “rough stone”, which you still may grind and improve, including total erasing of his “negative ability”. Light of Valinor and Asfaloth are cards, which shouldn’t lack in any deck with Glorfindel, because they upgrade your game very distinctly. Imladris Stargazer and Daeron’s Runes could also be seen as “black horses” for TOP CARD. Unfortunately, the title may belong to just one.
Searching for SHEEP CARD in this adventure pack is a minor challenge. Therefore, I make a small exception here and instead of really weak cards with weakest / most unusable effects, I announce the biggest disappointment of this pack. Path of Need isn’t from principle bad card, because its effect positively influences the game on a global scale. But in exchange for keeping one location active as long as possible? Until the time you won’t be able to bypass active location and put progress tokens directly on the quest, the voluntary “freezing” of your progression doesn’t belong among the best ideas. I admit there exist locations with many quest points, where is a high chance you will be involuntarily “stuck” (and that’s a perfect environment for Path of Need). But I always fight by main force to explore active location as soon as possible. The artificial extension of active-location-lifetime smells by gambling.
I have no doubts that the Spirit sphere is MOST ENRICHED SPHERE of Foundations of Stone. Glorfindel, Imladris Stargazer and Light of Valinor bring to Spirit sphere new vigor and new options, how to face encounter decks. What is most important, each of these 3 cards is very well usable in the future, they don’t depend on the given scenario or chosen strategy. Just a bit worse selection has Lore sphere mainly due to Healing Herbs, nevertheless, Daeron’s Runes and Asfaloth belong to the jewels of this game.
Before the final adventure pack, which used to be the most difficult from the whole cycle, I think we have got a very high-quality supply of new cards. But even in the current scenario, the new great cards will come in handy. Especially in multiplayer games, where in one moment you will be forcibly divided from others, so you will have to rely just on yourself and your own deck. Here it comes to the crunch, how well your deck is built, and how well it can handle itself.
PATH OF NEED
SPIRIT SPHERE (GLORFINDEL + IMLADRIS STARGAZER + LIGHT OF VALINOR)