News for February 2012
Heroes in The Redhorn Gate, Part Three
A spotlight on multiplayer roles in The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game
The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game | Published 20 February 2012

“If Gandalf would go before us with a bright flame, he might melt a path for you,” said Legolas. The storm had troubled him little, and he alone of the Company remained still light of heart.
   “If Elves could fly over mountains, they might fetch the Sun to save us,” answered Gandalf. “But I must have something to work on. I cannot burn snow.”
   “Well,” said Boromir, “when heads are at a loss bodies must serve, as we say in my country. The strongest of us must seek a way.”

   –J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

Two weeks ago, we explored how different combinations of heroes might each tackle the unique challenges of The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game. Decks take on different personalities and the game plays differently depending on your choice of heroes in your starting fellowship.

We believe this variety is a good thing. Players have different personalities, and they should be able to build and play decks that suit them. In solo games, a player’s deck establishes the tenor of the entire game. In multiplayer games, however, a player’s deck influences part of the game, but not the entirety of it. It’s impossible for a player to change the shape of the entire game with just one deck among two, three, or four, but players may certainly still play decks that suit their styles. In fact, multiplayer offers more room for specialized roles than solo play.

Today, we look at some of the current multiplayer archetypes and explore some of the cards that make help these decks quest successfully.

What’s your style?

As the player card and hero pools for The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game expand, players gain more options for deck customization, allowing for greater focus on a theme or role than the pre-constructed decks from the Core Set offer. Many of these reconfigured decks benefit from the combination of heroes and player cards from two or more spheres of influence, combining complementary cards from each sphere to reinforce the deck’s overall purpose.

Below, we identify a few multi-sphere deck archetypes and look at how the heroes play into each of them:

Heroes: Gimli (Core Set, 4), Boromir (The Dead Marshes, 95), Frodo (Conflict at the Carrock, 25)

The tank’s role is to engage as many enemies as possible, and destroy them. Frodo may seem out of place, but he acts as the “armor” that allows the player to engage more than he can safely block. Absorbing enemies is just as important a part of the tank’s duties as is destroying them.

As long as you don’t hit fifty threat, you generally want a higher threat than your teammates so that you’ll draw enemies out of the staging area before they’re forced to engage your friends. Boromir and Frodo can both raise your threat. Just be careful that you don’t put yourself at risk too early. The Galadhrim’s Greeting (Core Set, 46) is an expensive event for the deck, but it can help you stay in the game longer to support your friends.

Also, allies with Sentinel can help you better defend your teammates. The Gondorian Spearman (Core Set, 29) and Winged Guardian (The Hunt for Gollum, 4) can both block attacks directed at your teammates, and a Feint (Core Set, 34) can come in handy, too. Meanwhile, as you focus on absorbing hits so that your teammates won’t, you can expect to suffer some casualties, making the Horn of Gondor (Core Set, 42) a perfect fit.

Denethor (Core Set, 10), Eleanor (Core Set, 8), Glorfindel (Core Set, 11)

The healer’s role is to keep the party alive, both by healing damage and by mitigating the dangers of the encounter deck. While other players focus on questing, attacking, and defending, the healer plays a quieter and subtler role away from the front lines and all the game’s primary action.

Denethor’s ability to scout the top card of the encounter deck is more useful in games with fewer players because he grants you information about a greater percentage of the encounter cards you’re due to face. On the other hand, Eleanor’s ability provides greater impact in games with more players, where you’ll face more cards and it’s more likely a single treachery card may steer your heroes off their course. Critical to your use of the deck is knowing when to use these heroes’ abilities, rather than keep them ready to support your teammates by defending against enemies.

Still, you can supplement these abilities with cards like A Test of Will (Core Set, 50) and Hasty Stroke (Core Set, 48) to lessen the impact of surprises from treachery and shadow effects. And when your scouting fails, you can still help your teammates recover quickly from their bruises with Glorfindel and cards like Lore of Imladris (Core Set, 63), Daughter of the Nimrodel (Core Set, 58), and Beorn’s Hospitality (Core Set, 68).

Apart from Glorfindel, your heroes aren’t much good in a fight, but they are clever. Even though you want to direct your focus elsewhere, if you can prompt some Infighting (A Journey to Rhosgobel, 58) among your foes, you may be able to help your party finish off wounded enemies.

Aragorn (Core Set, 1), Éowyn (Core Set, 7), Imrahil (A Journey to Rhosgobel, 50)

The adventurer’s role is to focus as much on questing as possible, and a starting fellowship of Aragorn, Éowyn, and Imrahil can quest with the best of them. Players have long debated whether or not Éowyn is critical to success in the game. She’s not “critical,” but it’s hard to argue that her four Willpower isn’t helpful. In a four-player game, she can quest for as much as eight Willpower if each player sacrifices a card to fuel her ability.

Aragorn and Imrahil fit the deck because they both share two Willpower and the ability to ready themselves after questing. Aragorn readies if he pays a resource from his pool, making him an excellent candidate to serve as the Steward of Gondor (Core Set, 26), and Imrahil readies whenever a character leaves play, meaning that he can react swiftly if your Snowbourn Scout (Core Set, 16) or Westfold Horse-Breaker (Core Set, 6) is struck down by an enemy or rides off to ready another hero.

Plus, Aragorn is Middle-earth’s greatest ranger and the rightful heir to Elendil’s throne. Accordingly, he gets a little extra love and benefit from some cards like Celebrían’s Stone (Core Set, 27), which not only gives him two extra Willpower but also adds a Spirit icon. This means the fellowship can play two-cost allies like Westfold Horse-Breaker and Escort from Edoras (A Journey to Rhosgobel, 55) each turn, rather than needing to save for them. With their extra Willpower, the quester can race forward to put progress toward your quest each turn.

Beravor (Core Set, 12), Bilbo (The Hunt for Gollum, 1), Théodred (Core Set, 2)

The provider supplies the other players with cards and resources. In addition to the deck’s starting heroes, whose purposes become immediately apparent, a provider ought to consider several other cards, all of which focus on making other players stronger.

Protector of Lórien (Core Set, 70) allows other players to make excellent use of the cards you help them draw, and Parting Gifts (A Journey to Rhosgobel, 52) allows you to share any extra resources you generate on Théodred. Campfire Tales (The Hunt for Gollum, 3) is an excellent multiplayer card that fits perfectly in the provider’s design and gets stronger with more players, providing unmatched draw-to-cost in four-player games.

Because you’ll likely spend a good share of your time helping others, it’s a good idea to focus on low-cost cards for yourself, and several low-cost Lore events can help your party negate many of the threats the encounter deck may send your way. Radagast’s Cunning (Core Set, 65) can ignore the threat of a single enemy for one turn while Secret Paths (Core Set, 66) can ignore the threat of a single location and Strider’s Path (The Hunt for Gollum, 9) lets you travel to a location immediately after it’s revealed, ignoring any irritating travel effects and getting it out of the staging area.

If you do manage to save your resources for more than a turn, you can play a Forest Snare (Core Set, 69), once again helping your teammates, this time by trapping an enemy engaged with one of them so that it won’t attack them in future rounds.

Brand son of Bain (The Hills of Emyn Muil, 72), Glóin (Core Set, 3), Legolas (Core Set, 5)

The archer’s job is to help across the table as needed. With a balance between questing, combat, and defense, the archer can race to aid another party member (often the tank) when he gets bogged down by enemies.

The key to the archer’s deck is the Ranged keyword. Both Brand son of Bain and Legolas have Ranged, allowing them to join attacks initiated by other players, finish off enemies, and trigger their unique abilities. Brand allows your teammate to ready a character, and Legolas adds to your party’s progress. Several allies supply additional Ranged attack prowess, including the Silverlode Archer (Core Set, 17) and Vassal of the Windlord (The Dead Marshes, 98). You can also use Glóin’s resources to supply another hero with a Dunedain Cache (The Dead Marshes, 97) to give him the Ranged keyword and fire arrows at your foes from all sides.

When your party’s relatively safe from enemies, you can quest with two Willpower each from Brand and Glóin, and you can increase your questing presence considerably with the right mix of allies.

All that is gold does not glitter

All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.
    –The Fellowship of the Ring

There is no one “right” way to play The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game. Any style that you enjoy is equally valid, and (especially in multiplayer games) players can utilize any number of sound strategies to fight their way past the Dark Lord’s minions and the other creatures of Middle-earth in order to further the cause of good.

Whether you’re looking for guidance through your first attempts at deck building or you’re looking for the spark to inspire new deck designs as you look forward to the release of The Redhorn Gate, you can consider the archetypal roles defined above, which might suit you best, how you might build a deck to focus on your role, and how it might help you play your part in the cooperative, group effort to complete your quests. Playing a different role can dramatically alter your experience of a scenario, and you might want to consider revisiting old scenarios with new combinations of deck types. If you beat Return to Mirkwood with an Adventurer and Provider, try it again with a Tank and Archer combo!

Finally, as promised in the first part of this series, we present you a look at Elrohir (The Redhorn Gate, 1), the first hero forthcoming in the Dwarrowdelf cycle.

Get your hands on Elrohir and start adjusting your decks for all-new challenges when The Redhorn Gate arrives at retailers everywhere next week to kick off the Dwarrowdelf cycle!

The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game is a cooperative card game that puts 1-2 players (or up to four with an additional Core Set) in control of the most powerful characters and artifacts of Middle-earth. Players will select heroes, gather allies, acquire artifacts, and coordinate their efforts to face Middle-earth’s most dangerous fiends. The Living Card Game format allows players to customize their gaming experience with monthly Adventure Pack expansions to the core game.

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