After the epic battle with Durin’s Bane, you finally escaped the mines of Moria and came out to the daylight. It is a relief for you to feel the fresh air instead of the musty smell of death. You look around yourself and spot the army of Orcs and people marching by them. Those are Harads! Something wrong is happening – they are marching towards to fort of Cair Andros. Before you can realize the severity of the situation, you spot the approaching envoy of the White Council. After he arrives, he tells you that you have to visit Lord Alcaron in the city of Pelargir immediately. He has some worrying news for you. What worse than the battle in Moria with Durin’s Bane could await you?
Each right hero of the new expansion should introduce the specific mechanics and strategy, which are typical for the whole cycle. The Core set has introduced this card game itself, while the Dwarrowdelf cycle has shown the great power of Dwarf synergy (besides other things). Boromir and Beregond fulfill their quest without a doubt because both heroes are primarily Gondor. So the new expansion Heirs of Númenor will be mainly aimed at Gondor ride, knights, and other redoubtable warriors.
After Aragorn and Glorfindel, Boromir is the third hero in line, who has obtained another version of himself. You surely remember well Tactic Boromir, the victim of well-known errata (his readying ability, paid by 1 threat, is limited on once per phase). The Leadership sphere has the very capable Gondor, Warrior, and Noble because all his stats copy the stats of his Tactic version: 11 starting threat, 1 Willpower, 3 Attack, 2 Defense, and 5 Hit Points. You can’t doubt that Boromir is a very high-quality attacker and quite a solid defender. From the view of stat-quality, I would put him between Aragorn and Prince Imrahil, also great Leadership heroes (Dáin Ironfoot is a more Defense-aimed hero). If Leadership Boromir is better or worse than his Tactic version, I summarize at the end.
Now it is time to introduce his main ability. His passive ability ensures +1 Attack for all Gondor allies IF Boromir has at least 1 resource on him. Gondor allies don’t gain +1 Attack automatically. Like at Dáin Ironfoot, it has one crucial requirement: Boromir must have at least 1 resource on him. So if you want to take it seriously and build a strong Gondor army, which can kill enemies effectively, then you should watch out for Boromir’s resource pool all time. In practice, 1 Leadership resource is always reserved and can’t be used for playing other cards. Certainly, there are situations and cards, which you should prefer over that one “reserved” resource on Boromir. But such Steward of Gondor attached to him can help you a lot in your effort. Anyway, the more Gondor allies are on the board (under the control of any player, should be underlined), the bigger priority is leaving at least 1 resource on Boromir.
Until Heirs of Númenor has come, players have very limited options as for Gondor allies (Gondorian Spearman, Guard of the Citadel, Faramir and Warden of the Healing). With the new expansion, we have got unbelievable 8 new Gondor allies. From this number and within multisphere decks, you can now build a reasonable Gondor deck. Of course, more Gondor allies and cards with Gondor synergy yet to come. With the horde of Gondor allies, boosted by Boromir’s passive ability, you can easily kill many strong enemies, or hurt more enemies at once.
Now comes the promised comparison: which version of Boromir you should prioritize? For me, the choice is relatively simple: I always choose the Leadership Boromir. Why? I think that on the Tactic side is very, very strong competition, where Boromir is losing his position. Legolas, Gimli and now Beregond are Tactic heroes, which I would wish to have almost in any Tactic deck because these heroes are timeless. Because for me the threat level is a very important indicator, how well I’m doing each scenario, raising threat hurts me far more than keeping 1 resource on Boromir at all time. However, the most critical issue of many scenarios of Heirs of Númenor (and Against the Shadow cycle with a little spoiler :)) is a fast threat generation and threat level in common. In the environment, where you fight with each raised threat, Tactic Boromir would actually work against you. Regardless of my opinion, you can try both Boromir versions (not in one game, by the way ;)), compare their effectiveness and decide, which version you like more.
If you thought that Dáin Ironfoot and other heroes with 3 Defense are good tanks, then you haven’t met Beregond. It’s an ultimate defender, the superhero among heroes, and the fearless wall against the strongest enemies.
It doesn’t make sense to widely describe his 0 Willpower and 1 Attack – it is evident that Beregond lacks questing or attacking preconditions. What makes him exceptional are his defensive attributes: 4! Defense + 4 Hit Points and Sentinel keyword. For that Beregond “costs” only 10 starting threat. There is no hero who owns 4 Defense (minor spoiler: in the whole LOTR LCG, by the way). Such a massive wall can stop many enemies and against the strongest one (with 5 and more Attack) you can boost him with suitable attachments, like Dúnedain Warning or Citadel Plate.
!SPOILER! Of course, Beregond is just waiting on his main Armor, Gondorian Shield. It comes right in the next adventure pack, The Steward’s Fear, and it boosts Beregond’s Defense by 2, so Beregond faces enemies with hardly believable 6 Defense!
As you are progressing through the scenarios from this expansion, you find out that many enemies are really strong, with 3 Attack set as “standard”. Because of that, Beregond is virtually becoming essential in every scenario of this cycle. Beregond’s defensive skill and the significant role are confirmed by Sentinel, which allows Beregond to operate and defend anywhere on the board.
Beregond as a tank should rely on good support of attachments. His passive ability makes armament easier: all costs of attachments with traits Armor or Weapon are reduced by 2 if attached to Beregond. When we look into previous cycles for all Armors and Weapons, it looks like we haven’t many choices, which would fit Beregond. Regardless of the fact that Beregond is not a good attacker, there are not many Weapons he could use effectively. Dwarven Axe? More suitable for Dwarves – Beregond would get only +1 Attack and one Restricted slot would be filled. Blade of Gondolin? In the first two scenarios, no Orc appears at all, you rather fight with Harad enemies. And other Weapons can’t be attached to Beregond (Dwarrowdelf Axe, Rivendell Blade, and others). The only suitable Armor/Weapon attachment from previous cycles is Citadel Plate. It costs a lot but played on Beregond you pay only 2 resources and that worths it certainly. Now look to the current expansion and you see that another very suitable attachment is Spear of the Citadel. It actually looks like Spear of the Citadel is an attachment specially designed for Beregond. He gains it for free and he deals 1 damage to an enemy he defends. You actually have got Gondorian Spearman, but in “hero-version”.:) There are of course more available attachments for Beregond, but I can’t speak about them at this moment, without revealing some spoilers.
In the end, I must raise another very important advantage of this heavy-armored hero. In Heirs of Númenor and other packs from Against the Shadow cycle, you quickly discover the keyword Siege. It enables you to quest not with Willpower as usual, but with Defense. You can imagine that questing with Beregond and other heavy-armored heroes and enemies can be sometimes even easier than questing in a common manner. You find out that Beregond is not only the best defender ever but also a high-quality quester if the keyword Siege is active.
Leadership allies are scarce commodities. Cheap Leadership allies are rather rarities. Though we have got some Leadership allies in the Dwarrowdelf cycle, none of them can be used universally (Erestor maybe could, but he is unique and quite expensive). The arrival of Errand-rider, therefore, seems like an odd apparition. Just remember, players: when was the last time you have met Leadership ally for 1 cost? I give you a hint: in the Core set. Yes, it is old and good Snowbourn Scout. He also is the only cheap Leadership ally, who appears in your Leadership decks regularly. Now it looks he will have company.
1 cost Leadership ally is an exceptional event, which you shouldn’t miss. This Gondor-ally has 0-0-0-2 stats, but I wouldn’t expect anything more. 1-cost ally with any stats can always serve as a very advantageous chump blocker. Errand-rider at least resists all 1-damage treacheries and abilities (Zealous Traitor, Blocking Wargs). Of course, this ally as a member of the Gondor family can obtain many advantages and boosts (Leadership Boromir, Behind Strong Walls, For Gondor!), so you may improve his stats a little bit.
Errand-rider is, however, very valid within any multisphere deck. Actually, his main task lies in the ability, which allows you to move 1 resource from the hero you control to another hero’s resource pool. It needs only exhaustion of Errand-rider. The Leadership sphere is known for its good resource management and Errand-rider provides you another option on how to better manage your resources, especially in multisphere decks. The spheres, which are represented by just a single hero, used to have issues with a sufficient number of resources because that hero gains only 1 resource per round. That’s damn little. Errand-rider can mediate you more resources on a hero, who actually needs them. Errand-rider reminiscents the “resource-moving” cards Bifur or Parting Gifts, whose abilities are based on moving resources as well. However, Parting Gifts is a one-time event and Bifur gathers resources only for himself. From this view, Errand-rider poses a nice compromise between both cards. In a sense, he is a “permanent” solution (until he is not defeated) and he can move resources, where you need them.
Errand-rider’s ability also complements well with resource-generation cards like Steward of Gondor, Wealth of Gondor, or even Glóin. If one of your heroes overflows with resources, you may move surplus resources to the sphere with insufficient resources. And if you control up to 3 copies of Errand-rider, then you might move 3 resources.
Does Errand-rider have any negative? Well, the little limitation of his ability you shouldn’t forget: you may move resources from the hero you control, so don’t touch resource pools of heroes of other players.;)
In order to expand the ranks of allies, Citadel Custodian reports for duty. It won’t surprise he belongs to the Gondor family. However, 5 cost will interest you a lot. How strong has to be an ally for 5 cost? He should be a high-quality ally, which worth it for a such number of resources. When you see his stats, you won’t believe your own eyes: 1 Willpower, 0 Attack, 1 Defense and 3 Hit Points? Designers can’t be serious! We have already criticized Dúnedain Wanderer that 5 cost is too much for 2-2-2-2, Sentinel and Range. How could Citadel Custodian stack up aside Dúnedain Wanderer?
Wait with judgments for a while. Citadel Custodian won’t cost 5 resources within a proper Gondor deck. You lower his cost by 1 for each Gondor ally in a play, yours or your friends. For example, playing with 3 Gondor allies will lower Citadel Custodian’s cost by 3, so he costs 2 resources – that much cost I would pay for him for sure. Actually, 2 cost for 1 Defense and 3 Hit Points is a decent exchange, you get a viable defender who withstands some damage. If you apply to him Behind Strong Walls, then you have got a very quality defender for one round. Surely he can contribute to your attacking effort if Leadership Boromir with an unused resource is in play, or if you pull out For Gondor!, but he is not primarily intended for that.
When is the right time to play Citadel Custodian? The general advice is: the more Gondor allies are in the game, the more likely you should play him. That means you should play him in a mid and later game. Logically, as the game progresses and develops, you gain more resources, for which you can afford more allies. And if you (and your friends) get into the play a lot of Gondor allies, then you might not pay for Citadel Custodian single resource. That sounds like a good plan, does it? At this moment, his cost can be lower by a few Gondor Leadership allies: Guard of the Citadel, Faramir, or new face Errand-rider. If you play multisphere deck or you have friend(s) with another sphere-deck(s), then, for instance, Gondorian Spearman, Defender of Rammas, Ithilien Tracker or Envoy of Pelargir will lower Citadel Custodian’s cost. Among other Gondor allies, he just feels like fish in water and so he rewards you with defensive potential, which protects you from assaults of standard (read with 3 and higher Attack) enemies.
Of course, outside of Gondor decks or without a proper number of Gondor allies I wouldn’t even think about including him in my deck. 5 cost is such a high cost that 1-0-1-3 really doesn’t worth it. This relates him to other expensive, situational Leadership allies like Brok Ironfist or the mentioned Dúnedain Wanderer.
Next card I see as “card for advanced players”. Mutual Accord opens the door to various combos, which you might not realize immediately. To be honest, I have never used this card (see reasons below), so I can’t speak from my own experiences. Below ideas proceeds rather from theory than from practice, so keep in mind that.
Mutual Accord is the 0-cost event. Until the end of the phase, each Rohan character gains Gondor trait, and vice versa, Gondor characters gain Rohan trait. Thematically I like this idea: when all Rohan and Gondor characters fight in the battle side by side, each of them can obtain the advantages of the other one. Now the important thing is to find out, how to benefit from it. Rohan allies are used to be viewed as experts on questing. Gondor allies, on the other hand, excels in the fight. Mutual Accord can combine both attitudes, so Rohan characters can be summoned to the battle and Gondor characters can be sent to the quest.
Now let’s show some specific examples. Firstly, you may do a massive quest-push by Astonishing Speed, where each Rohan character gains +2 Willpower until the end of the phase. If this Willpower boost gains all Gondor characters as well, then it really doesn’t mind, if the affected Gondor character has default Willpower 2 (Prince Imrahil) or 0 (Errand-rider). The quantity wins in this case and you can push through the active location and current quest as a knife through butter. In the ideal world, you could make the powerful combo with We Do Not Sleep, but 5 cost of it is a big issue, unfortunately. The more economic way would be leaving of Éomund from the play, then all exhausted Rohan/Gondor characters can ready. However, you would have to assure the leaving of Éomund somehow (for example, letting him die due to defending some enemy). Ride to Ruin is another Rohan event, which places 3 progress tokens onto any location if you discard Rohan character.
Then we have Gondor events and synergies, which may influence Rohan characters. And to be honest, they won’t profit from Gondor synergies as much as Gondor characters from Rohan synergies. For Gondor! adds +1 Attack to all characters and +1 Defense to all Gondor characters. Look at some Rohan characters: how could, for example, Snowbourn Scout, Gléowine, Escort from Edoras, or West Road Traveller profit from it? Apparently, nohow, because they specialize in questing duties, while in a fight they are generally weak (+1 Defense won’t do from them anything else than one-time chump blocker). The almost same thing is valid for Leadership Boromir’s boost (+1 Attack), but at least some Rohan allies would reach at least 2 Attack (Éomund, The Riddermark’s Finnest, Rider of the Mark), or even 3 (Horseback Archer, Elfhelm). Gondor/Rohan character may obtain 1 resource (Wealth of Gondor, Envoy of Pelargir) and the cost of Citadel Custodian can be reduced.
!SPOILER! Of course, the list of possible synergies and combos is fairly reduced due to the non-presence of other future cards like Gondorian Discipline, Guthlaf or Forth Eorlingas!. Note that attachments with Gondor/Rohan prerequisite like Gondorian Shield or Visionary Leadership can be played onto characters affected by Mutual Accord, but the effects will be lost right after the effect of Mutual Accord expires.
After the naming of some examples, how to use Mutual Accord, I wouldn’t still be persuaded about including this event in my deck. Firstly, neither Mutual Accord nor other circumstances prompt me to play some sort of Rohan/Gondor deck. While the potential of Gondor characters is slowly developing, Rohan characters and Rohan synergies are not too much useful within this cycle in general. Their questing potential has no effect in scenarios with Siege or Battle keyword, and their Attack and Defense boosted by some Gondor cards, when Mutual Accord is active, is under-average at best. Secondly, if you love any effect with Gondor/Rohan synergy – why to not play attachments like Nor am I a Stranger or Steward of Gondor (yes, it adds Gondor trait to heroes, by the way), which have a permanent effect? Mutual Accord is safely staying outside of my deck because I don’t want to subordinate the whole deck to a one-time, “not-very-powerful” effect.
The wealth of Gondor is very well known in the LOTR universe. Nothing better can demonstrate it than the Leadership event Wealth of Gondor. For free you add 1 resource to any Gondor hero in the play. It is clear to me that the long description of every aspect of this card is almost impossible because the benefit is evident and undeniable. The “gain-resources” effects belong to the most important because, as you know, with more resources you can afford more cards. In the early game, you also may send to the game a card, which you could afford in the next rounds, so you gain a little advantage (and in LOTR LCG, every advantage counts ;)).
You might ask if the requirement of the Gondor trait for playing Wealth of Gondor isn’t somehow limiting. No, it is not. Overall, you can choose from 6 different Gondor heroes. I name all of them: Eleanor, Denethor, Prince Imrahil, Tactic and Leadership Boromir, and Beregond. I think that playing with one of the mentioned heroes within Heirs of Númenor is quite probable. For example, Beregond offers you phenomenal defensive skills, so you should have to use his services… therefore he becomes the possible target for Wealth of Gondor. And because cards from the Tactic sphere consume resources in large quantities, the bonus of one resource from Wealth of Gondor comes in handy for sure. Leadership Boromir wants Wealth of Gondor on himself due to his ability, which boosts all Gondor allies by +1 Attack if he has at least 1 resource onto him. So this hero is another very logical target for Wealth of Gondor.
But the most perfect combo makes Wealth of Gondor with the probably a bit forgotten Eleanor. Next to Éowyn or the Spirit champion Glorfindel, Eleanor can’t fight for supremacy in your Spirit decks. However, within scenarios with really bad treacheries, you could decide for including her into the deck. As the only hero-member of the Gondor family within the Spirit sphere, you could choose her for Wealth of Gondor and I think you should do that. If Eleanor lacks any resource, adding 1 resource onto her allows you to play the key Spirit events – A Test of Will or Hasty Stroke. From the view of scenarios of Heirs of Númenor, it is a very far-sighted step. You will surely agree with me that canceling treacheries like Southron Support or The Master’s Malice, and canceling shadow effects like Haradrim Elite belong to a VERY desired effect. One (or more) played Wealth of Gondor can save your life and the game itself. Of course, don’t forget that Wealth of Gondor has Action, so you cannot react to revealing treachery by playing Wealth of Gondor and then playing A Test of Will. Just play Wealth of Gondor before staging, then you should be okay.
I don’t even remember when we have got a universal Tactic ally, convenient within any Tactic deck. Maybe Winged Guardian and Vassal of the Windlord are still the firm parts of your decks, but they come from times long past. Veteran of Nanduhirion was a too expensive and disadvantageous ally, Erebor Battle Master needs many Dwarf allies in game and Trollshaw Scout with Watcher of the Bruinen are consuming cards from your hands. Heirs of Númenor comes with Tactic ally fitting in any deck. And not only that – Defender of Rammas is a very high-quality ally.
A bit unusually, I begin the other way around – from ability, not from stats. That is because it’ll be very brief – Defender of Rammas has blank text, without any ability. But it doesn’t matter. This ally will amaze you by the level of his Defense – he has 4 Defense for just 2 cost! Because other stats (0 Willpower, 1 Attack, and Hit Points) don’t worth it for deeper analyzing, let’s stay at his defending skills. It looks like Beregond has brought his own elite guard. Indeed, Beregond has almost the same stats (0-1-4-4) as Defender of Rammas, of course as the hero he must have the larger health pool. Still, both characters are creating a very solid wall against enemies, which have already lost weak attacks – 2 Attack and less is rather an exception than the custom. Therefore it creates greater demands for defending characters. Winged Guardian owns the same stats as Defender of Rammas, it even has Sentinel keyword. However, for the repetitive defending you must always pay 1 resource for him. That’s not the case of Defender of Rammas – he will stay with as long as he survives the enemy’s attacks. The only advantage of Winged Guardian compared to Defender of Rammas lies in Sentinel keyword, that’s the fact.
On the other hand, Defender of Rammas gains strength from the Gondor trait. You can boost his already high Defense by Behind Strong Walls. 5 Defense should stop many strong enemies, and additionally you can ready him and defend with him another enemy. He may be boosted also by For Gondor!, which adds him +1 Attack and +1 Defense. Since you hardly will attack with Defender of Rammas, the Defense-boost has a far higher value for you.
!SPOILER! Defender of Rammas has a very low health pool – only the single direct damage is enough to kill him. If you are in danger of losing him, Gondorian Discipline might extend his life.
I repeat what I have already said in Beregond’s review: Defender of Rammas is an excellent quester. How is that possible, when he has only 0 Willpower? Well, if you are in a quest with Siege keyword, then you are questing with Defense, not with Willpower. Beregond and Defender of Rammas are able to push you through the quest without issues all by themselves because each character has 4 Defense. Of course, when you are questing with them, you lose very quality defenders for one round, so keep in mind that.
Behind Strong Walls is another high-quality Tactic card from Heirs of Númenor. If you are planning to play with Gondor characters, then this 1-cost event should accompany them within your deck.
The first part of the ability allows you to ready Gondor character, which is just defending. That character is still considered for the defender. On the contrary – you gain actually 2 defenders in one. It’s much more advantageous from the economic sight because you don’t have to pay resources for an additional ally. It costs you just 1 resource to obtain an “additional defender” temporarily. Moreover, Behind Strong Walls adds +1 Defense until the end of the phase, so during both declaring defenders, the affected character will defend with +1 Defense.
How valuable defender depends on which Gondor character you target. In the first place, you probably think of Beregond. He is a very logical choice since he has 4 Defense and Sentinel keyword, so he can operate over the whole board. Boosted by this event, he can twice defend with unbelievable 5 Defense, which can stop (without considering the shadow effect) Umbar Assassin or Lieutenant of Mordor. You might need even a higher Defense boost for stopping high-tonnage enemies like Mumak or Orc Vanguard, but you are on a good way to survive their hits. From allies, there is no better choice than Defender of Rammas. Cheap and high-quality ally, boosting him by Behind Strong Walls belongs to the best decision you can make. Defender of Rammas becomes less a one-time chump blocker and he becomes more like a long-time, reliable and valuable defender. From others, I would highlight Denethor who can carry A Burning Brand. With 4 Defense (with Behind Strong Walls) and the ability to cancel shadow effect, Denethor belongs to the secret jewel of your defense (don’t actually forget, that with the new, errata’d version of A Bruning Brand, Denethor can cancel just one shadow effect). Behind Strong Walls can actually utilize any Gondor character, but he should survive the first enemy’s attack in order to defend the second attack.
The question of survivability is extraordinarily important within Heirs of Númenor (and actually within the whole cycle Against the Shadow). You encounter so many enemies with more than 3 Attack, you should rather count with 5 Attack as with the new standard (because new Harad enemies really move the level of danger above everything you were used to until now). Behind Strong Walls enables you to defend twice with one Gondor + that character gains also +1 Defense as a bonus. It costs just 1 resource and has no other preconditions for playing. Therefore, Behind Strong Walls shouldn’t miss any deck with Beregond and/or other Gondor characters.
In Beregond’s review, I said that he lacks for good Weapon or Armor, which he could use. His ability lowers the cost of each Weapon and Armor by 2, so you should utilize it and give him some good battle equipment. And now, the first really useful attachment for him has come: Spear of the Citadel.
You play this Weapon for free when you attached it to Beregond. Otherwise, it costs 2 resources, which isn’t expensive at all. The holder of Spear of the Citadel can deal 1 damage to an enemy, which attacks him. If the attacker has only 1 Hit Point, the defender with the attached Spear of the Citadel will kill him before the attack resolution, so nor any damage would be assigned to the defender, neither shadow card would be revealed and resolved. That’s just marvelous, because you kill an enemy before his attack is resolved. It works on the same principle as Gondorian Spearman from the Core set. The major difference between this ally and this attachment is that Gondorian Spearman has only 1 Hit Point. That means, if the enemy-attacker survives and has the opportunity to resolve his attack against Gondorian Spearman, this ally won’t probably survive it. So you either have to defend enemies with only 1 Hit Point remaining, or you will risk the loss of Gondorian Spearman. How long Spear of the Citadel stays in the game, however, depends fully on the endurance of the attached character himself. Such Beregond with 4 Defense and 4 Hit Points can survive many attacks from enemies repeatedly, so you can enjoy the effect of Spear of the Citadel for a longer time. Even if Spear of the Citadel won’t cause the death of the attacker, any additional damage to the enemy counts.
It’s right to think about combos with Spear of the Citadel: Thalin, Hail of Stones, Descendant of Thorondor or Fresh Tracks can increase the “opening damage” before the enemy starts to attack at all.
Because Spear of the Citadel is so good and strong, you surely understand that it must be somehow restricted. In sum, with 3 conditions and/or limitations you must count, if you want to play Spear of the Citadel: 1) the attached character must be Tactic, 2) this attachment is Restricted, and 3) only 1 copy of this Weapon can be attached to the character. So Beregond, Gimli, Tactic Boromir (or heroes with Song of Battle attached), but even allies like Defender of Rammas and other Tactic characters can be the holder of Spear of the Citadel. Even Gondorian Spearman can hold this Weapon, so you create a very powerful combo, which enables you to deal 2 damage to the enemy-attacker. Impressive, isn’t it? The other two limitations (Restricted + limit one copy per character) logically decrease the strength of Spear of the Citadel – without these limitations, this Weapon would be really overpowered (I can imagine the huge desire of players to simply attach more copies of Spear of the Citadel to Beregond and make from him Terminator.:)).
Spear of the Citadel is the basic equipment of any deck with Beregond included. You gain a very dangerous “hedgehog” who punishes the enemies-attackers. With Unexpected Courage, you may deal damage to more enemies during a single turn. Gondorian Spearman can deal even 2 damage if he is the holder of this Weapon. I wouldn’t be 100% sure if this attachment should be included in any Tactic deck. Although Gimli or other Tactic heroes might benefit from Spear of the Citadel, they are not actually the main target. In my point of view, Spear of the Citadel was specially designed for Beregond.
Every Spirit ally with relatively high stats arouses attention. Damrod is one of such allies. For 4 cost you get 1 Willpower, 2 Attack, 2 Defense, and 2 Hit Points. You see that Damrod won’t expand the ranks of allies specialized in questing. He is a solid attacker and defender (in the context of the Spirit sphere), moreover, he has Gondor trait, so he can be boosted by many interesting effects from Gondor synergies (For Gondor!, Behind Strong Walls, Leadership Boromir). I welcome any viable combatant within the Spirit sphere because then you are less dependent on the other spheres.
And what about Damrod’s ability? He has Action, which enables you to discard him. If you do that, you lower your threat by 1 for each enemy in the staging area. I have a problem with any “discarding actions” from principle, especially at expensive cards. If I spend resources for playing some cards, I am no inclined towards voluntary discarding. The only really good and useful effect would persuade me to discard the card voluntarily. I remind you that I have nothing against cards, where the effect is triggered on the basis of forced discarding/destroying. For example, Descendant of Thorondor triggers his ability after he leaves the play. Therefore, his dealing-damage-effect is more like a “side-positive-effect” of his leaving from play than the active “self-destruction” performed by Damrod. Damrod’s ability doesn’t worth it for discarding. Compare him with other Spirit cards, which reduce the threat. The Galadhrim’s Greeting is cheaper by 1 cost and it reduces the threat by 6 for 1 player, or by 2 for each player in the game. Elrond’s Counsel lowers the threat by 3 and it even doesn’t cost any resource. Within the Spirit sphere, you have far better options to reduce your threat.
Of course, the fine result isn’t assured at all – the efficiency depends on the number of enemies in the staging area. Maybe 4 and more enemies in the staging area would worth it for discarding Damrod. You can reach that by a massive use of Traps, which are mostly introduced in this cycle. It is true that as for some enemies, you would wish to keep them in the staging area and engage them only if you are well prepared (Zealous Traitor, Umbar Assassin). Such Ranger Spikes could allow it.
I would grant a pardon to Damrod if his ability would be better, stronger. Discarding him for destroying one non-unique enemy? Cool! Discarding him for dealing X damage to the single enemy, where X is the number of enemies (in the staging area or in the engagement area with the player)? Not ideal, but quite useful. If such abilities would Damrod control, I can imagine including him in many Spirit decks. But in this form, I can’t find him useful.
The natural mistrust of expensive cards comes from not a very good choice of quality-and-expensive cards. Many player cards have attempted to persuade us that even expensive cards can be good. But let’s mention in short some of these representatives: Brok Ironfist. Out of Sight. We Do Not Sleep. Radagast. Each and more such cards have one common trait – they are expensive, they don’t offer quality ability/effect for their cost and they are useless in most situations. They might work in situational decks, with very specific support, but honestly, do you want to adapt the whole deck because of one badly designated card? After that, we have expensive cards, which can come in handy and we must admit that they maintain a certain quality, like Grim Resolve, Fortune or Fate, Landroval. They can have a significant impact on the game, so I understand their cost. But adding them to each deck? Nope, rather have them in the sideboard deck than in the main deck. And then, we have exceptionally good and expensive cards simultaneously. Gandalf. Beorn. Gildor Inglorion. No problem to pay for them the highest cost, even if playing them costs you, except for resources, also a lot of effort. So…. to which category I should put Light the Beacons?
This 5-cost Spirit event says: “All characters get +2 Defense and do not exhaust to defend until the end of the round.” Damn, that sounds really cool and powerful. + 2 Defense is undoubtedly a strong effect, which makes even from chump blockers the proper defenders. The most important part of this effect is “all characters”. Truly, not only Gondors, Dwarves, Noldors, Hobbits, allies, heroes, etc. You affect by Light the Beacons each character in the game, yours and the characters of your friends. That’s a massive portion of Defense and a great help when you want to resist the high attacks of enemies. You surely can think of various possible combos and synergies, compatible and suitable with Light the Beacons. Mainly, you can increase the addition of Defense, for example by Leadership Boromir, Behind Strong Walls, For Gondor! and other Defense-boost cards.
The second layer of this card concerns the fact that the characters stay ready. You not only boost their Defenses, but you can immediately send these characters, who survive the attack of enemies, to counter-attack. So you don’t have to think, which character should defend and which character should attack – they can do both. If you want to attack successfully, defenders should have some points in Attack. Thus, you should use Light the Beacons with viable attackers on the board, or have prepared some Attack-booster like For Gondor!.
I evaluate this Spirit card very highly. It can be one of the game-changing cards when played in a suitable situation. If cost is the main issue for playing Light the Beacons, Frodo Baggins with Good Meal might be the way, how to reduce this imperfection.
There are cards, where after the reading its effect you scratch your head thoughtfully and say: “How to use that? How this can be useful for me?” Remember The End Comes? That’s one of these cards. But The End Comes is quite awful card. A Watchful Peace, the Spirit 1-cost event, could be ranked among the better cards.
A Watchful Peace is what I call a “plug-card”. What does it mean? It blocks the encounter deck from revealing the worse encounter cards. Let’s look at its Response: “After a location worth no victory points leaves play as an explored location, return it to the top of the encounter deck.” Returning location to the top of the encounter deck brings several advantages: 1) You know what will come. That’s the biggest significant task of A Watchful Peace, most important in a single-player game and useful in two-player games. Within three- and four-player games the impact is not considerable. 2) You can avoid some nasty encounter card, which could possibly be revealed. 3) Locations with a positive effect on a player can be recycled. 4) If the location is without shadow effect, you know what a certain enemy will get.
These advantages could persuade you about the usefulness of A Watchful Peace. It’s the card from the same category as Shadow of the Past – you can avoid it completely, but it may bring you unexpected positives. You also may create an interesting combo with “scrying-encounter” cards. Remind for example Risk Some Light, which gives you knowledge about incoming encounter cards. A Watchful Peace adds a known location at the top of the encounter deck and you have knowledge about encounter cards few rounds ahead or in multiplayer games at least one round ahead.
The choice of the location viable for recycling is another task. You won’t probably choose tough locations, which you wouldn’t like to see more times. Recycling such as City Street or Orc War Camp doesn’t belong among the best ideas, while recycling Harbor Storehouse seems like a perfect option. But even Pelargir Docks or Overgrown Trail can be a good option for you – everything depends on your questing potency, or how efficiently you can deal with the targeted location. Snowbourn Scout and Asfaloth can help you with locations a lot, so planning ahead worths it.
The evident weakness of A Watchful Peace lies in the immunity against the player card effects of some locations. Secluded Glade and Market Square seem like perfect targets for A Watchful Peace but unfortunately, it can’t affect these locations.
Returning locations back to the top of the encounter deck demands good planning and a viable location, which can be recycled. Because revealing encounter cards during staging became a very stressful part within the Heirs of Númenor (due to the fact that almost each encounter card is nasty), A Watchful Peace might offer you an interesting idea, how to weaken the encounter deck. But the knowledge of locations present within the given scenario is necessary.
Among other Defense-boost cards arrives 0-cost Spirit attachment Blood of Númenor. You may attach it only to Gondor heroes (for example, Boromir, Beregond, Denethor), or Dúnedain heroes (for now, only Aragorn and Beravor). The efficiency of this attachment depends on the number of resources you can hold on the attached hero, as its Action hints: “Spend 1 resource from attached hero’s resource pool to give attached hero +1 Defense or each resource in its resource pool until the end of the phase (Limit once per phase).” Theoretically, the Defense of your attached hero may be very well increased. For example, with a total of 5 resources on your hero, you pay 1 resource for gaining +4 Defense. Such Beregond would then have 8 Defense, which would stop even the strongest enemies. Denethor would have 7 Defense + A Burning Brand wouldn’t allow any surprise from the view of shadow cards. With Unexpected Courage, you don’t have to fear you would lose your boost, because the effect from Blood of Númenor lasts for the whole phase.
So… why don’t I use it, when it sounds pretty strong? The necessity of having plenty of unused resources doesn’t attract me. Frequently, I use all my viable resources for paying cards, so there are no free resources left. If I should choose to spend resources for playing cards or for using it on a one-time ability, I incline more for playing cards, which used to be more permanent. Of course, the effect of Blood of Númenor can sometimes save you the life of the hero, especially in scenarios with really challenging enemies. But I prefer to play attachments with the “passive” effect, where you profit from the effect no matter what, or the “active” effect, which does not require resources. Relying on the number of unused resources is an unhappy decision. The situation might be changed by playing Steward of Gondor, or at least Resourceful. The access to the acceleration of resource generation could increase Blood of Númenor’s usefulness because you will have access to plenty of resources. Therefore, there is a higher chance you won’t use all resources you could (because you won’t have cards which you could pay for) and you may use Blood of Númenor more regularly.
I add one thing, which may not be intuitive for everyone. After you use the effect of Blood of Númenor (so you should gain, for example, 4 Defense) and the affected hero would gain another resource after that, he won’t gain the additional Defense, because the boost is based on the number of resources present in the moment of triggering Blood of Númenor.
Despite the positives of Blood of Númenor, if you won’t ensure the sufficient supply of resources you could afford to not use, Blood of Númenor doesn’t make a big sense.
The new cycle comes with 3 Lore allies, which is a really decent number. Hunter of Lamedon looks like a useful guy. However, his ability might confuse you a bit, because how many Outlands you have in your deck?
But let’s take the things in order. Firstly, Hunter of Lamedon costs 2 resources and he has 1-1-1-1. He doesn’t excel in anything in the default state. But as Gondor, you can improve his stats by, for example, Leadership Boromir, For Gondor!, Behind Strong Walls, etc., so there is room for some upgrade. And now the tricky part: who the hell are Outlands? Well, Hunter of Lamedon owns the trait Outlands, but who else? And why is it important? Because the ability of this ally says: “After you play Hunter of Lamedon from your hand, reveal the top card of your deck. If it is an Outlands card, add it to your hand. Otherwise, discard it.” We are in the situation we were within Shadows of Mirkwood, when we have got The Eagles Are Coming! – useful card, but we hadn’t enough allies with demanded trait at that moment. It was certainly just a temporary issue since the number of Eagles was expanding with each next adventure pack. We can apply the same approach to Hunter of Lamedon – now useless but with each next new adventure pack, we will encounter more Outlands.
!SPOILER! Immediately in the next adventure pack, The Steward’s Fear, we will obtain up to 5 allies with Outlands trait. From that moment, you may add Hunter of Lamedon with a clear conscience. In total, we will obtain 7 Outlands allies, so the most Outlands are coming right in the next adventure pack.
Then I can’t speak much about the usefulness of this card, because then I would have to spoiler significantly. But I can evaluate at least the way the Outlands get into the game. After you play Hunter of Lamedon, you reveal the top card of your deck and check if it is Outlands. If not, you have to discard that card. When you know how this ally works, it is clear you won’t do without some card with a scrying effect. Imladris Stargazer is the ally, which shouldn’t be missing in your deck or deck of your friend(s). Otherwise, you would have to discard any non-Outlands card and I don’t consider it a good or unavoidable thing. Honestly, I like more the effects of the mentioned The Eagles Are Coming! or Mustering the Rohirrim, which allows you to search top X cards for the card with the desired trait, then you shuffle the deck. Discarding the top card, if it is not the card with the desired trait, looks somehow harshly and mercilessly.
However, I know that Hunter of Lamedon is pretty useful in any deck, which primarily aims for Outlands allies. They are coming right in the next adventure pack, so his bright moment comes very early. Just remember: add to your deck some card, which scries your own deck.
The next Lore ally is the mysterious Ithilien Tracker. He has 2 cost, for which you get 0 Willpower, 1 Attack, 0 Defense, and 3 Hit Points. You won’t probably use him because of his trivial Attack, 3 Hit Points, however, guarantees longer survivability against weak enemies. Except for the trait Ranger, he belongs to the Gondor family, so he may become the target of various effects based on Gondor synergy.
His Action enables you to count the Threat Strength of the next revealed enemy as 0 until the end of the phase. Because it is Action and not Response, you can’t respond to on just revealed enemy. During the staging, there is no Action window, which you could utilize. In practice, you use the ability before the staging, at the beginning of the Quest Phase. The first revealed enemy, which was added to the staging area, won’t count his Threat Strength. Why I highlight the enemy added to the staging area? Because there are few exceptions, where you revealed an enemy from the encounter deck, but for some external reason it is not added to the staging area. Among one of these exceptions belongs the ability of Thalin. He deals 1 damage to all just revealed enemies. That means all enemies with 1 Hit Point will automatically move to the encounter discard pile, thus Ithilien Tracker can’t target his ability on such enemies. On the contrary, Fresh Tracks works differently. After an enemy is added to the staging area, it deals 1 damage to it. If it has 1 Hit Points, it moves to the encounter discard pile. However, that enemy hasn’t avoided the staging area before, therefore Ithilien Tracker’s ability would target him. It is surely clear to you that the ability would be wasted.
After the enemy enters the staging area, you can focus on reducing Threat Strength itself. Such action comes in handy anytime, because you then increase your chance to quest successfully, explore the location, and/or make the progress in the quest. At the same time, you decrease the risk of quest unsuccessfully, which could lead to increasing your threat.
Does this ability worth it? Absolutely yes. Look at the enemies of Heirs of Númenor: Haradrim Elite (3 Threat Strength), Pickpocket (3 Threat Strength), and I could continue. The average Threat Strength of all enemies from Heirs of Númenor is 2,7, which’s a quite high number. You can assume that within the cycle Against the Shadow the situation won’t be better generally. However, since Ithilien Tracker can’t choose his target and he targets only the first revealed (and added to the staging area) enemy during the staging, success is not ensured. It can easily happen that you target the wrong enemy (read with the low Threat Strength) or no enemy is revealed at all. You then lost for this round an ally, which could get involved in attacking effort otherwise. That’s the “dark side” of Ithilien Tracker. I should also remind you, that combining Ithilien Tracker with Traps like Ranger Spikes is a very bad idea (Ithilien Tracker’s ability would be then wasted).
Despite some weaknesses of Ithilien Tracker, I consider this Lore ally very useful in almost every situation and in every scenario, where you must face enemies with high Threat Strength. Of course, you can erase his weakness by scrying your own deck – Imladris Stargazer is a suitable cure for almost everything.:)
Master of Lore belongs among cards I have never used. Honestly, the reason for that wasn’t the (non-)usefulness of this card, but a far more ridiculous thing: misunderstood ability. Yes, I was the victim of inattention, which caused that I put Master of Lore aside without even considering to test it within my decks. Though in fact, his ability is not bad at all. However, just as I was the victim of misapprehension, Master of Lore was the victim of merciless errata, which has destroyed his wider usage.
3 cost and 1-0-1-1 are aspects that weren’t touched by errata evidently. For me, I wouldn’t play card with such horrible stats for that cost, so I will aim at his ability, which is an apple of discord. Firstly, let’s have a look at Master of Lore before errata. After you exhaust him, you could name a type of card. All Lore cards of that type will have reduced cost by 1 (to a minimum of 1) until the end of the phase. So you couldn’t play cards totally for free, but at least for 1 cost. And as you know very well, Lore cards, mainly these from Core set and Shadows of Mirkwood, used to be quite expensive. They may be useful, but you can’t afford to pay for them 3, 4 or more resources. The arrival of Master of Lore seemed as salvation and final solution to all these expensive, but useful Lore cards.
However, designers probably realized that Master of Lore’s ability could make a broken combo with other cards. Steward of Gondor, Born Aloft, Erebor Hammersmith, and other cards could make very powerful combos, which assured you almost unlimited resources while playing the number of cards for ridiculous costs. I understand many players wouldn’t agree with such a statement. Why Master of Lore should be errata’d, when we have other overpowered, untouched cards, like Steward of Gondor? That’s more game-breaking than Master of Lore, Boromir, or We Are Not Idle (really?). Personally, I will repeat the thing I said at previous errata’d cards: I understand the intentions of designers, who retrospectively realized the true power of this card and tried to somehow limit it. But again – Master of Lore couldn’t be so overpowered if Steward of Gondor hadn’t been so overpowerful. Wouldn’t be better to measure with the same meter and make errata even for Steward of Gondor, which can make many broken combos?
However, this review isn’t about Steward of Gondor or about the sense of errata itself. Errata’d (and official) version of Master of Lore now sounds a bit differently: you name the type of card and THE NEXT played Lore card of that type will have reduced cost by 1 (to a minimum of 1). Yep, that’s how is Master of Lore working now. Is it good ability after all? 3 cost of Master of Lore won’t compensate the reduced cost by 1 of one Lore card of the certain card type. Okay, I pay for Master of Lore, use his ability and pay, for example, for Gildor Inglorion 4 resources instead 5. Do you feel any difference? Still, you will pay 7 resources instead of 8 in total (3 for Master of Lore + 4 for Gildor Inglorion). That demands a lot of rounds, lots of Lore heroes, or very good resource-generation cards (hello Steward of Gondor again :)). Surely, you can choose a not-so-expensive card (like Ithilien Tracker) and play more cards within the single phase (2 Ithilien Tracker for 3 instead of 4 cost). But I admit that the errata’d version of Master of Lore is not so useful and powerful as the pre-errata version. Keep in mind that. I’d probably use Lore resources for something else than for Master of Lore.
Do you have already enough of bothersome enemies, who attempt to seize every opportunity to bully you? Do you want to pay back to encounter deck his treacheries-Conditions (like Local Trouble), which have the simple task to poison your life? Play Ranger Spikes.
This 2-cost Lore attachment is Trap – it is an already forgotten trait, which has Forest Snare last time. Traps have very unique characteristics – they can attach to an enemy like a leech and cause very unpleasant consequences – unpleasant for the encounter deck, great for you, of course.:) If you remember or even still play Forest Snare, you know that you need an engaged enemy with any player to throw this attachment onto him and completely disable him. Ranger Spikes, though still Trap, works differently. You put it into the staging area, unattached with anything. The next enemy entering the staging area will fall into the trap, into Ranger Spikes more precisely. That means you attach Ranger Spikes to him. The attached enemy can’t come into the engagement area of any player during engagement checks + that enemy has -2 Threat Strength.
I must really highly evaluate the thematicity of this card because you really feel like an experienced ranger who lays the trap. The joy from catching a strong enemy is enormous the neutralizing enemy in the staging area without even facing him brings you a big advantage. You don’t have to think, which character you should choose to defend and/or attack that enemy. You surely feel the relief, when you don’t have to deal with enemies like Southron Company, Umbar Assassin or Lieutenant of Mordor. They can stay in the staging area forever… unless you change your mind. Yes, despite those enemies caught by Ranger Spikes cannot engage you, it doesn’t mean you cannot optionally engage them. You could ask “why should I do that and so voluntarily destroy the work and sense of Ranger Spikes?” What if you caught Orc Vanguard? Do you want to keep him in the staging area? Absolutely not, because then you wouldn’t be able to spend resources from Lore/Spirit/Leadership heroes. Or what about Southron Mercenaries? His Archery would hurt your characters each round. You see there are some exceptions, where you rather broke the effect of Ranger Spikes than face very bothersome consequences of holding some enemies in the staging area.
The integral part of this Trap is also reducing the Threat Strength of the attached enemy by 2. The forcible holding of the enemy in the staging area brings you the additional cost of increased Threat Strength. Ranger Spikes contains a very, very useful safeguard against hoarding of Threat Strength in the staging area caused by its own effect. By reducing Threat Strength by 2 you can minimalize the impact of holding the attached enemy in the staging area. Some of the enemies will contribute to the overall Threat Strenght only partially, some of the enemies won’t at all. The best thing is it works as long as the enemy is attached by Ranger of Spikes. There is also the minority of enemies that cannot be attached by Ranger Spikes at all (Mumak), or they even can engage the player on the basis of their own ability/effect (Harbor Thug). Keep your eyes open and analyze your enemies in detail.
The last thing, which remains to discuss, is the degree of control of Ranger Spikes. What do I mean? You might have doubts about the usefulness of this card. Well, not usefulness precisely but practicality. It is nice to have such a card but does it worth it when you can attach only the first enemy which enters the staging area? What if you attach Orc Vanguard but Siege Raft, revealed after Orc Vanguard, escapes? How to improve the effect of Ranger Spikes and assure that you will catch what is right for you? The answer is: cards scrying the encounter deck. Risk Some Light, Denethor and other cards with similar effect perfectly fits Ranger Spikes. Just don’t forget that you are interested in only the first revealed enemy. No matter how many copies of Ranger Spikes are in the staging area, they will always attach the first enemy entering the staging area no matter what. Therefore, no mass capture of enemies can take the place, unfortunately.
I recall that I was very happy to see the new Neutral ally. We have Gandalf and Radagast, but they are not cheap at all. Envoy of Pelargir makes yourself available in any deck due to his just 2 cost. Because it is a Neutral ally, you can pay him from the resource pool of any hero. I view it as a big advantage. Raw stats of Envoy of Pelargir are 1 Willpower, 1 Attack, 0 Defense and 1 Hit Point. Well, it’s not the best, not the worst. 1 Willpower comes in handy at most. In times of distress, you can always sacrifice him as a cheap chump blocker. His Gondor trait allows him to be a part of Gondor-synergy.
After Envoy of Pelargir enters the game, you may add 1 resource to any hero with Gondor or Noble trait. It actually reduces the cost of Envoy of Pelargir himself, because you pay for him 2 resources to gain another resource. And Envoy of Pelargir for just 1 cost with 1-1-0-1 sounds cool to me. Of course, you are not limited to which Gondor/Noble hero you are adding the resource – it can be the hero belonging to another player, therefore Envoy of Pelargir will cost you 2 resources, but another player gains +1 resource. It depends on who needs the resource more urgently.
Certainly, you will be thinking about which hero you should add your resource because it is not just about adding resources for playing cards, but also it may allow you to play some interesting combos. Let’s see, who can actually get the resource from Envoy of Pelargir: from Gondor heroes, Eleanor, Denethor, Prince of Imrahil, both versions of Boromir, Beregond. From Noble heroes, Leadership Aragorn, Gimli, Gloin, Theodred, Legolas, Éowyn, both versions of Glorfindel, Elrohir, Elladan, Elrond. That’s a decent pack of heroes. If you take a closer look at heroes, you begin to recognize the possible combos. Take for example two brothers Elrohir and Elladan. Both heroes can be repetitively readied if you pay from their resource pool 1 resource. Envoy of Pelargir can ease this without spending current resources because you generate 1 and pay 1. The same method can be applied to Lore Glorfindel, who can use 1 resource to heal 1 damage from any character. Or Leadership Aragorn, who can ready after you commit him to the quest and spend 1 resource. For Beregond, it eases you to play Armor or Weapon attachments played on him (now I’m mainly speaking about Citadel Plate).
But you are not limited to just creating combos – any Gondor/Noble hero is a suitable target for adding one resource. That makes from Envoy of Pelargir a good companion within almost any deck.
With the new cycle come 2 heroes: Leadership Boromir and Beregond. And I must admit that I’m really satisfied with both of them. The Leadership version of Boromir has excellent stats and very useful ability, which adds +1 to all Gondor allies. If you are tired of Dwarves or Noldors already and you want to try another trait-synergy, then Gondor is a perfect choice. The very subtle hint of this incoming synergy we met in the Core set already, in the card For Gondor!. 2 cycles later we are finally discovering the new potential of Gondor-synergy and Leadership Boromir helps to develop it.
Beregond, on the contrary, doesn’t need any trait-depended synergy. He works perfectly alone, he doesn’t need any support, so you may include him in any Tactic deck. His defensive skills are exceptional, the attacks of many enemies shatter on his defense. And his ability can move his defending skills even further. Beregond simply just has no competition in defending duties, that’s for sure.
Both heroes introduce the new expansion and cycle very proficiently. I definitely recommend you to see their quality for yourself.
Up to 8 allies are introduced in Heirs of Númenor and in general, I am really satisfied with them. Leadership sphere comes with 1-cost ally after so long. Errand-Rider works perfectly as a very cheap chump blocker, but also you can move your resources where you need them currently. Citadel Custodian doesn’t worth it within non-Gondor decks, but if you want to keep the theme and make from Gondor-synergy the main moving force, you should welcome him within your Gondor decks.
Defender of Rammas is the best ally of the whole expansion, if not the whole cycle. The tremendous defensive skills are paid for only 2 resources and unlike Winged Guardian you needn’t pay any additional cost for his services. I have only words of praise for him.
From other very useful allies, I also mention Envoy of Pelargir. Any deck with Gondor/Noldor hero (so the majority of decks :)) profits from his presence, but one of the key positive lies that he belongs to the Neutral sphere and costs only 2 resources. A perfect, universal ally who won’t get lost in any deck.
Lore sphere offers Ithilien Tracker, Hunter of Lamedon, and Master of Lore. Ithilien Tracker erases the Threat Strength of the first enemy added to the staging area. With some scrying-encounter-deck cards, you can predict what is coming and then effectively reduce the Threat Strength in the staging area. Within common scenarios, this ability comes in handy in many cases. The right time of Hunter of Lamedon comes with the next adventure packs, so his usefulness cannot be objectively evaluated – he has synergy with still not introduced trait. However, be sure that more Outlands are coming and you will use his ability. At last, poor Master of Lore became the victim of errata, which made him a useless and expensive ally with “meh” ability.
Damrod is the final ally of Heirs of Númenor. Unless Master of Lore, who experienced golden times, Damrod was trashy from the very beginning. Sacrificing a 4-cost ally for reducing threat on the basis of present enemies in the staging area is not anything you would want. I consider him as the weakest ally of the whole pack.
Light the Beacons is the event with the most significant impact on the game in the Heirs of Númenor. All characters gain +2 Defense and won’t exhaust during defending. Such an effect can change the course of the game very radically – despite it costs 5 Spirit resources. I know this could be an obstacle for many players, but think about it once more. You would gain the card, which might stop the massive offensive against you and strike immediately back. Behind Strong Walls works similarly but in a lot of individual measure. It’s a far cheaper version of the Spirit event, useful whenever you defend with the Gondor character.
Wealth of Gondor also depends on Gondor’s trait. Its effect has a minor impact (just gaining 1 resource), but it won’t cost you anything except for the spot in your deck. The Spirit event A Watchful Peace belongs to the situational card, perfect in the sideboard deck. If you want to control the encounter deck to a small extent and you know the scenario contains not-so-harmful locations, then A Watchful Peace can belong to your favorite cards.
Mutual Accord seems to be the card, from which can Gondor and Rohan characters mutually profit. At least, Rohan characters won’t profit from Gondor synergy as you would wish – the attacking and defending upgrade for characters, which are primarily born to quest, have no significant effect. And I have no motivation to include more Rohan characters and thus Mutual Accord to Gondor decks.
3 attachments, 3 levels of usefulness – I would describe the attachments of Heirs of Númenor in this way. And I begin with the least well-made attachment, Blood of Númenor. The effect based on unused resources belongs to badly designated because it forces you to hold precious resources for a one-time effect. Improving Defense comes in handy, I don’t deny it, but… I often use any earned resources for new cards and abilities and I don’t have time or motivation to voluntarily hold resources. No, Blood of Númenor is not a good card, unless you rely on improved resource generation like Steward of Gondor.
Ranger Spikes needs a good plan. With bad plans and miserable timing, you might catch a weak and/or unsuitable enemy. With a good plan and perfect timing, you catch a big fish, which can writhe in the staging area insanely, but it would be the single thing it could do.
Then, we have got a Weapon, specially made for Beregond. Spear of the Citadel won’t cost you a single cost if played on Beregond, whose main task is just to defend the big attacks of enemies. And if you can hurt the defended enemy, why not utilize it? Very nice and useful attachment, which is slowly cutting the Hit Points of the enemy and make from him easier prey for your attackers.
This expansion attempts to show us the best from Gondor-synergy, prepares us for Outlands-synergy, and mainly wants to improve our defensive skills enormously. Like, really enormously, because Beregond, Defender of Rammas, Behind Strong Walls, Spear of the Citadel and theoretically even Blood of Númenor raise our defensive skills to a different level. And it is needed because enemies from Heirs of Númenor are not greenhorns at all. When you look on Mumak, Haradrim Elite, Orc Vanguard, and others, you easily assess that you need a very powerful defending arsenal. And cards from Heirs of Númenor can provide it.
If I should include heroes, I would announce Beregond for TOP CARD without any hesitation. Such defensive power you haven’t seen yet. When you get used to his presence within the Tactic deck, it’s hard to get rid of him then. But the same thing is valid for Defender of Rammas, 2-cost Gondor-ally with 4 Defense. He becomes the firm part of your Tactic decks. The same thing cannot be said about Damrod who stands on the opposite side. Despite his not bad stats, the ability is not advantageous for you with relation to 4 cost. Discarding Damrod for reducing threat on the basis of enemies in the staging area sounds a bad idea from the beginning. There are surely worse cards in the game (as I said, Damrod has quite good stats as the Spirit ally), but within Heirs of Númenor, he is the SHEEP CARD.
As for MOST ENRICHED SPHERE, without hesitation, I announce the Tactic sphere as the top sphere of this expansion. Do I have to explain why I did make this decision? Spear of the Citadel, Behind Strong Walls, Defender of Rammas (+ Beregond)… I think it is necessary to comment on it further.:) However, other spheres offer also decent and practical cards. Leadership sphere got perfect Boromir and cheap ally Errand-rider, Spirit sphere got powerful event Light the Beacons and Lore sphere got talented Ithilien Tracker and dangerous Trap Ranger Spikes. Neutral sphere is not also behind and got finally own, cheap, universal ally Envoy of Pelargir. Unless Tactic sphere, each other sphere got the weak card (Mutual Accord, Damrod, Master of Lore). That’s why can’t other spheres compete with the Tactic sphere, where each card reaches very high-quality.
In general, I think the whole expansion reaches high-quality. It tries to prepare us for some really tough scenarios in Heirs of Númenor. Even if you play with cards from this expansion, I bet you will experience hot moments. Into Ithilien and The Siege of Cair Andros belong to the most difficult scenarios of the game. You’ll be glad for every advantage you can use against these scenarios.