Back when the first AleP expansion was announced nearly a year ago, I did a promo article for them to make sure as many eyeballs saw the amazing effort that the AleP crew was putting into their brand new Deluxe box. To help promote them, they offered me a spoiler of a new event that would be included in the box.
Since then, AleP has been going strong, releasing 2 Adventure Packs from their cycle on top of the Scouring of the Shire Stand-alone Scenario. The team has been hard at work to expand some traits like Eagles and Hobbits, and I have been admiring their work from afar. Now, for their third AP: The Gap of Rohan, they have asked me to do another spoiler article, which lets me talk about a brand new ally included in the expansion. This is on top of the announcement article that you can find on their site, plus any other spoiled cards that you may come across by other content creators in the coming weeks.
Before we continue, I’d like to thank the AleP crew for letting me do another article on their expansions. I have been pretty quiet about AleP during the scenario analyses, as I will be waiting to cover the entire cycle once it is finished. I also do not own any of the AleP stuff physically and have not touched the player cards digitally either, though I appreciate the crazy combos that people have brought to the table when I played on DragnCards with them. The expansions look amazing, but I am waiting until I have completed my analyses of the regular content, and then I would prefer to have the entire set printed at once for a ton of reviews later on. With that said, let’s look at the brand new card that I was allowed to cover. For this one, I will look at the rest of the AleP database for any sweet combos that you could pull off with this card.
Let’s go over the basics first. This is a 2 cost, non-unique, Spirit ally. She has 0 willpower with no built-in way to boost it, which is rare for Spirit allies. Only 3 others do not have any willpower or way to boost it themselves (now name all 3 of them). The Protector makes up for this with a decent attack power of 2, which is reason enough to bring this ally in your mono-Spirit deck. The sphere struggles with cheap attack power, and 2 cost for 2 attack is a nice trade. Much like the Knight of Belfalas, though that one requires you to have some Gondor allies in the discard pile as well. The Protector does not do very well with defense, having only a single point in the stat on top of 2 hitpoints. The two hitpoints mean that you can soak a little bit of direct damage, but you won’t be defending with this ally much.
The traits are interesting here, seeing the return of the Bree-trait on allies. This AleP-expansion will focus on the Bree trait, giving it a new synergy around taking undefended attacks. It is nice to see that the trait won’t be limited to just Lore cards (like the Woodmen trait). The added Dúnedain trait is also nice, as it allows you to play the Protector for less if you have Heir of Valandil on the table and are engaged with an enemy.
Moving on to the textbox, we get the Devoted keyword, which means that if all your heroes share at least one trait with this ally, you can play the Protector without a resource match. This is nice, as the Spirit sphere is a bit tricky with Dúnedain decks at times. This also allows you to save your Spirit resources for other cards and use up some resources for which you have no other use. It does push you towards a Bree/Dúnedain deck, but that is fine.
The Response on the Protector is interesting. You may exhaust the Bree-land Protector to cancel a shadow effect that was just triggered during an attack. The attacking enemy gets another shadow card, which is flipped over immediately. If the attack now deals no damage, you must return the Bree-land Protector to your hand after the attack. While this does mean that you cannot make use of her 2 attack, you did just discard a nasty shadow card that could have killed a hero or done serious damage to your board state. And with the Devoted keyword, I am sure you will be able to play this ally again next turn.
The nice thing is, if you don’t need her ability this round, she can be used to attack. The fact that you do have to exhaust her for her ability is a bit disappointing but understandable. The problem is that you have to be sure that the shadow effect you are canceling is the worst that the encounter deck has to offer. If you get another shadow card with a worse effect, you are screwed (unless you have another Protector). I can see a comparison being made with hero Balin, who can spend a resource to replace a shadow card. The nice thing about this ally is that you won’t always need this effect, allowing you to attack with the Protector as well.
Remember that if the attack with the new shadow card still deals damage to the hero, then the Protector stays in play. This works nicely with the undefended attacks that Bree would like to take. You can just discard a shadow that would have been a +3 attack and instead get a shadow card that will just exhaust a character or discard an attachment or something. The undefended attack will still deal damage to a hero, so your Protector is safe.
Since this ally will be leaving play a lot (depending on how bad those shadow cards are in the deck), you don’t really need anything else on this ally to make her work. You could play attachments and get them back each time she bounces to your hand with Bard son of Brand, but then you are missing out on the Devoted keyword by bringing a Dale hero to the deck. A card that I would combo with her is Valiant Sacrifice, which allows you to draw some extra cards.
Overall, I think that this ally will be a good addition to the Bree deck, as you will get some assurance that shadow cards won’t kill your heroes. This ally will still likely get some play outside of the Bree deck, thanks to its 2 attack strength for 2 cost in Spirit. The panic button for resetting a shadow card is useful, and with the Devoted keyword, I can even see this being used in traditional Dúnedain decks that take a lot of enemies engaged with them and then have to defend a lot of attacks. A solid ally that I wouldn’t mind 3 copies of in my mono-Spirit deck!
Once again, my thanks to the AleP crew for letting me review this card and for putting in all the hard work trying to keep the game alive. You all have done amazing work to get us through the hiatus, and I can’t wait to see what you will do with the remaining 3 APs in the cycle. And who knows? There might be more beyond those packs as well. Good luck with all of the designing and playtesting!