You survive the flood inside Mines of Moria, but you now face the greatest danger you have ever met. Durin’s Bane. That name and his terrifying roar will resonate in your ears for the whole adventure. His strength and evil will outdo everything you have experienced until now. Even the strongest and most powerful heroes are trembled with fear. But this creature must be stopped once for all. Here and now, the battle with doom of Moria will decide about your fate!
The toughest scenario of the whole cycle deserves the arrival of the most powerful hero of the whole cycle. Glorfindel was a just good tasting before a true celebrity. Do you remember, when Dáin Ironfoot came? In the last scenario of Shadows of Mirkwood cycle. Though he came a bit early, his power you have surely utilized in the next games within Dwarrowdelf cycle due to his mighty synergy with Dwarves. Now, in Shadow and Flame, where Durin’s Bane is the biggest threat and challenge you have ever faced, you really need the powerful hero. Who else than Elrond should save you?
Elrond has unbelievable 13 starting threat. It makes from him the most expensive hero from the view of starting threat. It indicates something about Elrond’s exceptionality and power. His stats are impressive: 3 Willpower, 2 Attack, 3 Defense and 4 Hit Points. Practically, you can use Elrond anywhere and anyhow you need, just choose the action and send him to do the job. Despite his lowest stat (2 Attack), you can transform him into a redoubtable warrior, thanks to his Noldor trait. As you probably remember, Noldor characters have synergy with some “combat cards” – Rivendell Bow and Rivendell Blade. With Rivendell Bow, Elrond gains Ranged, and with Rivendell Blade, he debuffs an enemy by -2 Defense. Good, but Elrond can be even stronger. Light of Valinor is card number 2 (about card number 1 I will talk a bit later :)), which Elrond should have if you primarily plan to quest with him. Actually, you should always quest with him, because with Light of Valinor it won’t cost you anything – he will be still ready for the next action. As Noldor, you may also add Elrond’s Counsel to your deck without hesitation. As for defending, Elrond perfectly works in combo with A Burning Brand, which makes from him impassable, reliable wall, which can be additionally improved by Protector of Lórien or Dúnedain Warning.
Until now, we have discussed the Elrond’s potential only from the view of stats and trait. But he also owns 2 passive abilities, which adds completely another dimension to the game. The first ability enables you to play allies of any sphere from the Elrond’s resource pool. This technically means that you should secure some resource-generation card, Steward of Gondor at best, alternatively Resourceful. It’s for that you could take the full advantage of this ability and pay for (many) different allies because the fight with Durin’s Bane demands many characters. You may even add to your deck allies from spheres you otherwise “don’t control”, so you actually can do without cards like Song of Battle, Song of Kings, etc.
To first ability joins the second passive ability (Response), which targets the healing. After some character is healed by another card effect, you may heal from that character another 1 damage. This doesn’t concern cards, which heal all damage – Beorn’s Hospitality, Healing Herbs or Lore of Imladris. Other healing cards we have already met (Glorfindel, Daughter of Nimrodel, Warden of Healing, Self Preservation) can cause the triggering of Elrond’s Response. Which card is affected at most and is the most beneficial at the same time? Warden of Healing. This ally heals 2 damage from two characters and so he becomes the master of this discipline because it uses something that knows every fan and player of RPG games – “chain healing” or “mass healing”, that means simultaneous healing of more characters. Warden of Healing can boast of the ability, which may ready him after paying 2 Lore resources. So with the sufficient number of Lore resources, you may theoretically heal the whole board.
And that’s not even the end. The most important thing is still waiting for revelation. What could surpass such amazing abilities and possibilities? The answer is Vilya – special Ring, which makes the synergy exclusively with Elrond. I analyze this synergy more deeply in the Vilya’s review. However, I would like to make one brief comment: when you play with Elrond, add always Vilya. It makes your life easier, because it may get some powerful and expensive cards at the same time to the game for free. So Elrond will significantly save you resources, which you may use elsewhere.
If I try to find some negative connected with Elrond I would say that Elrond needs many supporting cards, depends on how you want to play with him. Vilya, Steward of Gondor, A Burning Brand, Light of Valinor and/or Unexpected Courage, allies from different spheres, healers… you suddenly realize that the whole deck will start to revolve around Elrond. The whole strategy you have to adapt to the single, however powerful card. The centralization of power is especially dangerous if encounter deck targets the source of power. If Elrond dies, you technically lost. If some encounter cards get rid of some attachments from Elrond, it complicates your game. Such Whip Lash, revealed as a shadow card, can make from your Elrond an ordinary mortal, left to the mercy of his own destiny.
Despite the time that has passed since the errata of We Are Not Idle, the controversy and emotion still last. This Leadership event is the example of a card, which was very, very powerful, but after errata, it was irrevocably crippled. And players are angry.
For 0 cost you have got this Action: “Exhaust X Dwarf characters to add X resources to a hero’s resource pool and draw 1 card.” This is the pre-errata wording. More Dwarf characters you control, the more resources you generate. In heavy-Dwarf decks, one of your heroes could get such amount of resources that playing expensive cards stops to be the issue. It’s like Steward of Gondor on steroids, considering We Are Not Idle isn’t unique or limited and you can have 3 copies of it in the deck.
It suffices when you, for example, controlled 3 Dwarf heroes and like 3 Dwarf allies. During the single turn, you could generate 6 resources.
If more players control Dwarves, then the situation is even more favourable, because this event can exhaust Dwarf of any player. This is not the case, where you could use Dwarves of other players, unfortunately. Only Dwarves you control you may use.
Don’t forget that you may utilize up to 3 copies of We Are Not Idle, so the effect is multiplied. It’s not a problem to get them all, due to the effect of Word of Command. Furthermore, this event creates the powerful combo with Lure of Moria, which readies all Dwarf characters. So you can exhaust every Dwarf you have, get X resources and ready all of them again by Lure of Moria. Pretty strong.
Now to the scene comes FAQ 1.9, which did a radical decision. It substitutes “characters” for “heroes”. Now, exhausting X Dwarf heroes change the usefulness of We Are Not Idle because it is clear that the single player won’t generate more than 3 resources per 1 copy of this card. I am not even talking about a real game, where you often need some heroes to be ready for any reason. In multiplayer games, you might get more resources, but it worths it in 3-4 players.
I know that the community bear this change heavily – any combo was torn apart, only the unusable skin has remained. Because I got to the game later, I know this card only in errata’d version. And during the first glance I concluded that I won’t use this card ever. Getting X resources for X Dwarf heroes is a weak effect. I understand that designers wanted to limit the overpower of this event, however, I would invent different, more appropriate errata, which wouldn’t touch its usefulness. Do you remember Path of Need? There we have first encountered wording “limit one per deck.” Why this limit wasn’t added? Like, adding, for example, 10+ resources won’t drastically break the balance of the game, if this effect comes once per game. On the other hand, Steward of Gondor will bring you 10+ resources in 5 rounds and further, and no limitation, excluding the uniqueness, is set to it. I see a bit of disparity in that.
Don’t forget that We Are Not Idle will draw you one card for free, as the bonus. Well, if I should use We Are Not Idle only because of drawing effect, then this card doesn’t worth it at all, because drawing this event is the cost by itself.
I may finally end this that the errata has affected this card most of all previous errata’d cards. Not even Boromir or Háma has ended so badly. Now, there is no reason to include We Are Not Idle to your deck.
Okay, let’s get over the thing with We Are Not Idle and move to the next Leadership card, attachment called Hardy Leadership. It has 2 cost, unique symbol and targets Dwarf characters, unsurprisingly. Firstly, you will have to attach it to any Leadership hero. That shouldn’t pose any issue. The benefit of Hardy Leadership lies in a global boosting of Hit Points (+1 Hit Point) of each Dwarf character in the game. Well, there is no doubt that the impact on the game is considerable. Not so considerable as the global effect of Dáin Ironfoot, but still for some Dwarves it may mean the difference between life and death. They will become even sturdier and more durable. Well, against Durin’s Bane it probably won’t mean any difference, because he is too strong for any Dwarf ally and for most of Dwarf heroes. Still, the common enemies will have a bigger problem to kill Dwarf characters.
With Hardy Leadership nicely work cards like Boots from Erebor (adding +1 Hit Point), Ring Mail (adding +1 Hit Point and +1 Defense)or Citadel Plate (adding +4 Hit Points). From the carrier of Ring Mail and/or Citadel Plate becomes defender-specialist, if moreover supported by Hardy Leadership. There is no better candidate for a such role than Gimli, who deals damage based on the amount of damage he has. With many damage on him, he may adequately attack and hurt Durin’s Bane. Another good target is Glóin, who may generate more resources. I don’t want to say that Hardy Leadership is a key card for such efforts, it’s rather a tiny bonus. Individually, it won’t change much, on a global scale, however, you get the sturdier army of Dwarves, able to better defend enemies and more resistant against “dealing-damage” treacheries (so Dwarf allies with 1 Hit Point like Erebor Record Keeper and Zigil Miner have a higher chance to survive such effects).
The benefit of Hardy Leadership is clear and there is not much to say. The question is, if Hardy Leadership worths it to be included in any Dwarf deck? I would say that definitely, at least in 1 copy. You would lose the opportunity to globally “upgrade” all Dwarves. With +1 Attack and +1 Willpower from Dáin Ironfoot, you will get the redoubtable army of little humanoids, who might together overpower even the strongest enemies. The only thing which I’m still missing is the global gaining +1 Defense for each Dwarf character, to complete the global “Dwarf boost”.
It may look a bit comic, but the biggest negative of this effect is probably to not forget that this effect is active. One of the saddest things you can do is to discard Dwarf character, which would correctly stay in the game due to the presence of Hardy Leadership. You can easily get lost in a great number of attachments and active global effects. I’m talking from my own experience.;)
Players have to reconcile to presence of just one card from the Tactic sphere, the event Hands Upon the Bow. I perceive this card as the “quick help” – when the situation demands quick resolution, you pull out Hands Upon the Bow. And in what this help lies? Choose one character with Ranged and exhaust him. This character will immediately attack one enemy in the staging area, so you also immediately resolve this attack. Also, the chosen character will gain during this attack +1 Attack.
We have only limited options, how to get rid of some enemies in the staging area. The oldest solution presents Dúnhere, Core Spirit hero, who may regularly attack enemies in the staging area. Then we have some cards, which directly deal damage to enemies (anywhere they are). To such cards belong Thalin, Gandalf, Hail of Stones, Taking Initiative or Fresh Tracks. Some of these cards can defeat enemies in the staging area all by myself, some of them not. Hands Upon the Bow works in a different way, more similar to Dúnhere’s ability. It utilizes the strength of your character, boosts his Attack and encourages that character to attack an enemy. If the affected character is, for example, Legolas, he attacks with Hands Upon the Bow by 4 Attack. That’s a very nice Attack value. If you have attached Rivendell Bow to Legolas and you hope in even 5 Attack, I must disappoint you – Legolas with Rivendell Bow, affected by Hands Upon the Bow will still attack with 4 Attack. It’s because the attack, induced by Hands Upon the Bow, isn’t considered for a ranged attack, but for the normal, extra attack. Thus, Rivendell Bow won’t boost Legolas by +1 Attack.
Hands Upon the Bow may also confuse due to limitation of attacks. As you know, during the combat phase the single player is allowed to declare 1 attack against each enemy he is engaged (1.11 Limitation on Attacks, FAQ 1.9). The exception from this rule is the participation in the attack, where YOU, as the owner of Ranged character, can attack an enemy engaged with another player during the combat phase of that player, and then you can again attack that enemy during YOUR own combat phase, within the same round. It’s maybe quite confusing, but it works in this way. The second exception from the common rule is Quick Strike and nothing else than Hands Upon the Bow. These cards generate an extra attack, which doesn’t count in the limitation “1 attack against each enemy” for each player. In practice, you may attack an enemy with Hands Upon the Bow, then engage him AND attack him again in the Combat phase. Or you may attack an enemy with Hands Upon the Bow, then engage him, attack with Quick Strike and attack him again in the Combat phase (if you, of course, own card with readying effect, like Unexpected Courage). This event, in short, doesn’t limit you anyhow.
I must mention another piquant rule trickiness concerning Hands Upon the Bow. If you encounter an enemy, which is “immune to player card effects”, Hands Upon the Bow won’t have any effect against him, because it targets an enemy. Quick Strike, on the other hand, targets a character, not enemy, and induces normal attack, against which cards are not immune unless the card says otherwise.
So… in which situations Hands Upon the Bow worths? Anytime you want to get rid of weak and average enemies right from the staging area. You have some threat and one enemy (which you would have to face) less. And that counts anytime. Enemies like Goblin Scout and Goblin Archer may make you sometimes so mad that Hands Upon the Bow appears like a saving repellent from annoying insects. I would seriously consider adding this event to your Tactic deck, whenever you control Ranged hero.
I can’t draw my own experiences as for the next card with a very difficult name, O Elbereth! Githonial!. It’s a corruption of the word A Elbereth Githoniel, that is an Elvish hymn to Varda. In LOTR LCG, we are speaking about Spirit event with 4 cost, which seems adamantly. However, in Secrecy decks, you will reduce the value to 0, because of wording Secrecy 4. It sounds tempting, but for what you will pay 4 cost in non-Secrecy decks, while in Secrecy deck you won’t pay anything?
I divide its effect into two parts and analyze each part separately, then summarize the resulting effect and card as a whole. The first part aims for our main target: “After a non-unique enemy attacks you, put that enemy on the bottom of the encounter deck.” Without effort (almost) you let one your enemy disappear. I doubt that there would be anybody, who would object to this effect. By putting an enemy to the bottom of the encounter deck you will have one less problem… at least temporarily. Still, there are three things you should take into consideration.
1) “After an enemy attacks you…” means after an enemy completes the attack. After you declare the defender after you resolve potential shadow effect and after you determine and deal damage to your defender, then you might use O Elbereth! Githonial!. You have to firstly survive the first attack of the enemy if you want to get rid of him. This fact cause you are not protected against the attacking enemy in the round you play O Elbereth! Githonial!, it just prevents the possible next attacks in the next rounds.
2) “After a non-unique enemy attacks you…” You also must check that the attacking enemy hasn’t a unique symbol. Forget about “banishing” super-powerful enemies like Durin’s Bane, The Nameless Fear, The Watcher, or four unique Trolls from Conflict at the Carrock – these guys won’t be frightened by our spell. On the other hand, it will banish other, also mighty enemies that lack uniqueness: for example, Nazgúl of Dol Guldur (yes, it is really non-unique enemy :)), Great Cave-troll, Elder Nameless Thing, Mountain Troll and others (in non-progression style). It’s also an interesting thing that wording “non-unique enemy” wasn’t always part of this card. The original wording lacks “non-unique” that is any enemy could be put to the bottom of the encounter deck. After errata (FAQ 1.7) the effect was adjusted, disabling the option to get rid of the unique enemies mentioned above.
3) “…put that enemy on the bottom of the encounter deck.” From this arises it’s rather temporarily than the final result. If the affected enemy won’t be discarded as the shadow card or by another effect, you should count with facing the enemy again. You should make the preparation for engagement the banished enemy, once the time will come.
The second part of O Elbereth! Githonial! illustrates the overall usefulness (uselessness?) of this card. “If your threat is lower than that enemy’s engagement cost, set your threat equal to the engagement cost of that enemy.” It hints you, what enemy you should target to avoid this limiting and quite bothering side effect. If you want to put any enemy to the bottom of the encounter deck, that enemy should have lower engagement cost than is your threat level. It’s quite natural to try “eliminate” the most powerful enemies… which used to have quite high engagement cost (like 35 and above). It certainly depends on the given situation, what threat level you have and what enemy you would like to banish, so sometimes this effect will come in handy, sometimes you are limited by its side effect. But the strangest thing about O Elbereth! Githonial! arises from the combination of Secrecy keyword and the side effect. From the very nature of Secrecy decks, which forces players to have the lowest threat as possible, O Elbereth! Githonial! can’t bring to this environment real benefit. Unless you want to use this event for banishing low-engagement-cost enemies like Goblin Spearman or Goblin Swordsman (which I would consider for wasting of this effect), you actually can’t choose the suitable enemy for banishing. Or you would have to reconcile to radical increasing of your threat. And Secrecy decks lose the sense with above 20 threat. Lore Aragorn can serve as a one-time solution to this issue, but it is only once and enough (irrespective to the fact, that Lore Aragorn with his 12 starting threat isn’t the part of Secrecy decks).
Since this Spirit event doesn’t make sense in Secrecy decks, should players add it into non-Secrecy decks for the full cost? I wouldn’t pay for these 4 resources, not at all. It reminds me Out of Sight – outside of non-Secrecy decks it’s unplayable card due to its high cost and the very nature of the card doesn’t fit in “Secrecy environment”. Despite the usefulness of the effect, O Elbereth! Githonial! represents the card, which contradicts itself and put obstacles into the player’s way.
The little, cheap Spirit attachment appears to be just a small, tiny help. How could 1-cost Miruvor with a several, insignificant options help you during the clash of titans in Shadow and Flame?
For 1 cost you attach Miruvor to a hero and if you want to use its action, discard Miruvor and choose 2 options from 4: either you 1) ready an attached hero, 2) add 1 resource to attached hero’s resource pool, 3) attached hero gains +1 Willpower, or 4) put Miruvor on the top of your deck. As you see, Miruvor is very flexible attachment, which can easily adapt to concrete situation. From all of these options, I would surely ready attached hero, if able, and add the resource to the hero’s resource pool. These options should have the biggest impact – ready exhausted hero provides you a great advantage, and there are never enough resources. To be honest, I would pick the third option with gaining +1 Willpower as the last option. I don’t consider adding +1 Willpower for a great deal, it’s a just tiny adjustment in the questing effort. And if we have available other, more useful options, I would rather look for them.
You may view Miruvor as a one-time attachment, which helps you on two frontlines, or repeatable attachment, which helps in just one matter. Because one option enables you to return Miruvor back on the top of your deck, in the next round you may draw and use Miruvor again (or in the same round if you use some card with drawing effect). Theoretically, you may let Miruvor circulate in a never-ending loop, but this probably won’t be something you would be interested in.:) All in all, Miruvor can work in two modes: one-time big boost, or repeatable minor boost. Which mode you will prefer is totally up to you.
With Miruvor is connected one little, but the very interesting thing, which players often overlook. Miruvor represents the card, which goes against written rules, instead of it the Golden Rule is applied. In common cases, if the player A (owner) gives his card under the control of player B (controller) and that card must leave the play, it goes back to the hand, deck or discard pile of the owner, according to the rule “Control and Ownership”. We were used to doing it in this way like at cards Wandering Took or Rider of the Mark. However, Miruvor is here the exception. Follow its instruction literally: the controller (player B) can return Miruvor on the top of his own deck, not the deck of the owner (player A). It’s an official response from creators.
I sympathize with this Spirit attachment, because it offers you very interesting options. None of the options is super-powerful, but it gives you a nice little bonus. It is like a demo version of Unexpected Courage, Resourceful and Elrond’s Counsel in one piece, upgraded with the “return-option”. Unfortunately, I often can’t find a free spot for some copies of Miruvor, because there are many far stronger Spirit cards, which deserves to be added.
The only ally of Shadow and Flame arrives into the Lore sphere. Don’t expect ally on steroids with magnificent stats. This guy has another, far more interesting advantage. Meet Master of the Forge, the master of attachments.
You will pay for this Noldor and Craftsman in one 2 resources. Don’t look at his stats, which don’t say anything about his quality: 0-0-1-1 isn’t really useful in any common activity, maybe as the chump blocker at best. Master of the Forge has an Action, which allows you to look at the first 5 cards from your deck, choose 1 attachment and add it to your hand. Finally, you return the rest of the cards to the deck and shuffle it. If you ever rely on attachments and if you have a couple of them in a deck, then Master of the Forge is must-have ally if you have access to the Lore sphere. Without exaggeration, you will get one of the best Lore allies you ever met. He is a bit another league than The Eagles Are Coming! or Musterring the Rohirrim, which aim a certain trait. His effect is more universal, more similar to Imladris Stargazer’s effect. Attachments used to be the important part of any deck and you surely play with some very powerful attachments, which may give you a huge advantage. To name some, Steward of Gondor, Unexpected Courage, A Burning Brand, Light of Valinor, Afaloth or Vilya are attachments you really want to have in play. The combo with Miruvor also seems interesting. Of course, Master of the Forge isn’t omnipotent and he won’t ensure you pick the concrete attachment you want. But with a bit dexterity, you can help it a bit.
To increase your chance to take what you want you to have to include scrying card (Gildor Inglorion or Imladris Stargazer at best). Master of the Forge will ensure the shuffling of the deck, so each use of his Action will offer you the new 5 top cards from the deck. After the using of Master of the Forge, the scrying cards will let you know, what attachments await you. You then may plan better your next steps. You can use him even without scrying cards since his ability is repeatable and nothing limits you to use Master of the Forge each round.
In Shadow and Flame you will need the services of this ally because Whip Lash will often rip your attachments away from your characters, so you should access to lot of attachments. However, Erebor Hammersmith can return discarded attachments back to your hands, so both allies may create very decent, natural combo.
Master of the Forge reaches the top quality of other Dwarrowdelf’s allies like Imladris Stargazer and Warden of the Healing. This scenario demands the best of the best and Master of the Forge surely belongs among the champions.
Like O Elbereth! Githonial!, Peace, and Thought has never been the part of my decks, so I will speak about it only in theory. The most significant drawback of this 1-cost Lore event lies in its absurd precondition: to play it, you must exhaust 2 heroes. Even exhausting 1 hero I consider for a bad complication, but exhausting 2 heroes? That can’t be meant serious! For what effect we must pay such insane cost? In the Refresh phase, its Action offers you to draw up to 5 cards. 5 cards is… a lot of cards, definitely. When you need new reinforcements, new events and attachments, Peace, and Thought will help you to get many new cards. The big advantage in comparison with other cards with drawing effect lies in cost. Lórien’s Wealth, Gandalf’s Search or Gildor Inglorion are quite expensive cards, thus not often used. Daeron’s Runes is an amazing card with drawing effect, one of the best… but you actually keep only one drawn card, one you must discard. It lacks the mass drawing effect. If you really need new piles of cards, which means a wider choice, Peace, and Thought doesn’t seem as the bad idea. For 1 cost you get 5 cards, what more you could wish. Actually, the ratio of cost versus drawn cards is most beneficial at all.
Could you really afford to exhaust 2 heroes in the common game? Well, one situation comes to my mind – in the time of perfect peace. No enemies in sight and no duties would mean the perfect opportunity to play Peace, and Thought. However, how many times it happens? In Shadow and Flame never, that’s for sure. In other scenarios, it depends: such The Hills of Emyn Muil from Shadows of Mirkwood cycle could be a great test ground for Peace, and Thought, if you want to play in non-progression style.
Nevertheless, it doesn’t mean that you can’t eliminate this annoying precondition to the some extent. The cure lies in cards with readying effect. The most reliable solution is nothing else than Unexpected Courage, but we have also other options. For example, you can utilize Miruvor from this adventure pack. Hobbits may use Fast Hitch, the Lore, cheaper, Hobbit-version of Unexpected Courage (though bringing any Hobbit to Shadow of Flame is quite daring). If you exhaust Dwarf heroes, one of them you could ready by Erebor Record Keeper’s ability, alternatively you can ready both exhausted Dwarf heroes by event Lure of Moria. Instead of relying on other cards, some heroes might serve as good targets due to their abilities. Prince Imrahil will ready, when another character leaves the play. And Boromir will ready, if you can afford to raise your threat by 1 (so in most cases it shouldn’t pose a problem). Both heroes are very suitable targets for Peace, and Thought if you make a good plan and timing. Don’t forget that you can play Peace, and Thought at the end of the round, in Refresh phase, when all other characters will ready, thus both heroes are going to stay exhausted for the next whole round.
At first sight Peace, and Thought seems like unplayable card. Be ready for heroes is very important in principle, because these key characters often decide about the overall success of the game. That’s why you should attempt to mitigate the impact of the precondition of Peace, and Thought. And you can do it in suitable decks with certain cards. After all, drawing 5 cards for 1 cost worth it considering.
It is time to show one of the best Secrecy cards and show the darkness, where is its place. Like Gandalf who let shine the light from his staff in the dark mines of Moria, you will light the dark secrets hidden in the encounter deck.
3 cost in common deck and 0 cost in Secrecy deck – that’s the cost of this Lore event Risk Some Light. You may look at the top 3 cards from the encounter deck. Choose one of the card and move it to the bottom of the encounter deck. The rest of the cards you may return on the top of the encounter deck in any order. I see it as the upgrade of all encounter-scrying cards we have ever met. Just look at its predecessors. Henamarth Riversong, Rumour from the Earth and Needful to Know will show you the top card of the encounter deck, so you gain knowledge. You foreknow the future, but you can’t change it anyhow, you can just prepare for it. Another level is Lore hero Denethor, who looks at the top encounter card and then you decide, if you keep the card on the top of the encounter deck, or if you move it to the bottom.
Until this moment, you were able to look at the first encounter card at maximum. In solo game it is enough, but what about multiplayer game? And what if you want to foresee the “farther” future? Risk Some Light will fulfil your dreams. Firstly, you look at the top 3 encounter cards. That’s a very good number of cards, which you will know they will come. Even if the game text would end here, I’d be satisfied with the effect (although not for 3 cost in non-Secrecy decks). You can prepare better for the future things. However, Risk Some LIght offers you even more. From revealed encounter cards, you choose one and move it to the bottom of the encounter deck. I am sure that within 3 revealed cards you will encounter one you don’t want to face. In Shadow and Flame it will be quite difficult to choose the worst encounter card because almost every card in this scenario is horror. Still, you may significantly influence the progress of the game, moving the worst card to the bottom and prepare for the arrival of the rest.
The worst sabotage that encounter deck can do against the effect of Risk Some Light is shuffling the encounter deck. When any effect forces you to shuffle encounter deck, it absolutely devalues the profit gained from playing Risk Some Light. For example, Ranging Goblin might complicate your usage of this event, so keep your eyes open and use it, when circumstances look well.
Risk Some Light seems in Secrecy decks absolutely excellent. It doesn’t cost players any resources and you may instantly get rid of some nasty encounter card. This event shines in Secrecy decks, so it should have a firm place there. I like this card even in non-Secrecy decks, though you must spend on it 3 resources. But these spent 3 resources can save your life, if played in the right time.
If I should choose the biggest surprise of this adventure pack, or actually of the whole cycle, I would pick the very last player card, which was introduced to us. Vilya, the 2-cost unique Neutral attachment, Ring and Artifact in one piece. It has so uncommon (and powerful) ability that this Ring holds a unique position among other player cards.
In what lies its uniqueness? Firstly, Elrond is the only character, who may hold Vilya and profits from its ability. This exclusivity has no parallel. Remind some attachments, from which you have gained bonus if you attached it to certain heroes: Celebrían’s Stone, Sword that was Broken, Asfaloth. Each of these attachments offers you choice if you will satisfy with “basic ability”, available at all times no matter to whom you attached it, or if you want to utilize the full potential of the attachment by attaching to concrete hero. Vilya doesn’t offer you alternative – without Elrond, this Ring is totally unusable.
The “side-effect” of attaching Vilya to Elrond is gaining of Spirit resource icon. So when Elrond wears this Ring, you actually get Lore/Spirit Elrond and that could be helpful for you. Now, the precondition for use of Vilya’s effect might seem terrible: you have to exhaust Vilya AND Elrond. The usage of Vilya is probably so exhausting that Elrond is out for the rest of the round. I would surely try to avoid this cost as much as possible, by adding some readying effect/ability (Unexpected Courage is the best choice). The main reason is due to overall Elrond’s complexity and universality, which he may utilize during questing, defending or attacking. Of course, you might wait with Vilya’s Action until the end of the round, when questing and combat is over and Refresh phase awaits you (= Elrond will ready).
The question is, what player card in your deck is coming. The main ability of Vilya allows you to reveal the top card of your deck and play it without any cost and immediately. If you don’t want to (or you can’t) use the revealed card, you must move it to the bottom of your deck. Such effect demands to play without cost the most powerful and/or very expensive cards, like Beorn or Erestor. You save many resources and gain a good card with a minimum effort. Revealing event, however, can be tricky, because events differ in time when they can be played. So if you reveal Out of Sight before or after Combat phase, then you must move it to the bottom of your deck. And what if you reveal a card with cost X? Then X is considered for 0 cost, remember that (Gandalf’s Search, Stand and Fight).
Vilya outright looks for scrying cards. Without them, the using of Vilya would be too random and too risky – exhausting Vilya with Elrond for an unusable card isn’t a good exchange. For this reason, Imladris Stargazer is undoubtedly the best card, which you may pair with Vilya. I would even say that there doesn’t exist a better alternative. This Spirit ally reveals you 5 player cards, so you know exactly what cards and in which order they will come.
This Ring needs a well-chosen tactic to fully develop its potential. Elrond, Imladris Stargazer, Unexpected Courage and powerful, expensive cards need to be the part of your deck as well. But you gain powerful Artifact, which can explicitly conjure up new reinforcements for free. Watch out the dangerous encounter cards, which can destroy your Ring in the blink of an eye, like Whip Lash.
You may send Elrond to any quest and do with him any activity. His passive abilities will make happy all fan of healing. You also can play ally from any sphere from Elrond’s resource pool. And moreover, Elrond is the master of Vilya. So many positives of this hero must give you hope before the tough battle, which you must undergo. Into the most difficult scenario, you have to call the best from the best and Elrond is absolutely the important reinforcement. But even Elrond won’t win you the game against Durin’s Bane, if you don’t make up your deck properly and if you choose the unsuitable strategy. And Elrond is the type of hero, which needs very good support. Remember that, when you want to play with this hero.
It’s quite odd that in the scenario, where allies fall as flies under every whip lash of Durin’s Bane, we have got the single ally. Master of the Forge has arrived to help us… but not in the battle. Despite his stats misery, he will greatly help you in another respect – in finding attachments. Heroes need attachments urgently here because without them they will hardly pose the challenge for Durin’s Bane. Even if he uses his Whip Lash and tear apart 1 / all attachments you have got, you must boost your heroes with attachments. Thus, Master of the Forge should be the firm part of your deck in this scenario.
Some of the events really don’t worth it. Don’t bother with We Are Not Idle, nor with O Elbereth! Githonial! – these events hardly contribute you any advantage against Durin’s Bane and his toys.
Peace, and Thought can look like a miserably designed event with absurd cost (exhausting 2 heroes). But Unexpected Courage or Miruvor can eliminate at least partially this cost. For your effort, you will draw up to 5 cards and obtain decent new options. Hands Upon the Bow enables you to attack an enemy within the staging area. Because we still don’t have many options to interact with enemies inside this area, I consider this event for a very interesting chance, how to get rid of an enemy before you would even encounter it. The precondition is simple: you must own Ranged character. Finally, Risk Some Light will show you things, which would have otherwise remained unrevealed. As the best event of Shadow and Flame, this card should really deserve to get the chance in your deck. You will then save many unpleasant and sudden surprises.
Dwarves will surely welcome the presence of Hardy Leadership, which globally adds them +1 Hit Point. The sturdier Dwarf army you have, the more competitive you are against the army of evil. Chump blockers can stay longer time in a game, while fragile non-combat Dwarves will more likely survive potential direct-damaging treacheries. Hardy Leadership is a perfect addition to Dáin Ironfoot’s global Dwarf-boosting ability.
Miruvor is a very nice attachment, which provides you with some minor, but important bonuses. Readying hero, adding resource and/or adding +1 Willpower will please many players. Moreover, you can repeat its effect by simple returning Miruvor on the top of your deck and so have a permanent bonus.
The strongest attachment of the whole adventure pack, Vilya, needs for right working Elrond and some other cards supporting its ability. But playing any card without paying resources can’t be just overlooked or ignored.
This adventure pack has many very good and high-quality cards, which makes it difficult for me to choose “the best one”. Elrond, Vilya, Master of the Forge and Risk Some Light – each of these cards raise your game to the better level. I was seriously decided to announce the only Lore ally of the pack, Master of the Forge, as the TOP CARD. It’s a very universal card, each deck may profit from his presence because attachments commonly used to be the firm part of any deck. But still, his ability is fading away in comparison with Vilya. Paying any card for free is too attractive and powerful ability to just ignore it. Although Vilya needs support from other cards without no doubts, it can fundamentally influence your resource management in that you will save many, many resources, which you may use elsewhere. The necessary precondition for playing Vilya is Elrond and Imladris Stargazer. Actually, Elrond could be the TOP CARD as well. But he has a very high starting threat, which needn’t be positively accepted and Elrond is mainly played because of Vilya anyway. However, his ability, which may enable you to pay allies of any spheres from his resource pool, is remarkable. Personally, I would even announce Risk Some Light as the best card, because I love scrying abilities, especially scrying of the encounter deck. However, I understand that not everyone will see this mechanic as a mandatory one.
Choosing SHEEP CARD is a far easier job for me here because there is only one true candidate for this title: We Are Not Idle. Do you know what is the biggest paradox? That pre-errata We Are Not Idle would be TOP CARD of this pack, which would dethrone Vilya or any other card from its position. Yes, such degradation has afflicted We Are Not Idle. In official, errata’d version, there is no reason to play this card at all. It’s a sad story of the once proud and powerful card, which has fallen into oblivion.
Is it any reason to NOT announce Neutral sphere as MOST ENRICHED SPHERE? Until now, Neutral sphere doesn’t show us such a heavy calibre (excluding Gandalf). But Vilya is proof that the Neutral sphere can produce a very competitive card. Well, yet I see the Lore sphere as MOST ENRICHED SPHERE because actually all cards are very high-quality and so they have moved Lore sphere to even stronger sphere. Where are the times, where the Lore sphere was only an also-ran? These times are already gone. Dwarrowdelf cycle came up with so many good Lore cards that it is hard to resist this sphere.
In overall, Shadow and Flame is similar to the previous adventure pack concerning the quality of cards. You have a wide choice, how to improve your decks. Except for Dwarves, Noldors and Secrecy decks, which have within Dwarrowdelf cycle a longer tradition, the completely new tactic has been invented – on the basis of combo Elrond + Vilya. These cards are so powerful that it worths to base the whole game on them and so create an original deck with access to healing, allies from different spheres, very expensive cards, cards with readying effects and scrying-own-deck cards.
WE ARE NOT IDLE
LORE SPHERE (MASTER OF THE FORGE + PEACE, AND THOUGHT + RISK SOME LIGHT)