News for April 2012
Sneaking Past The Watcher in the Water, Part Two
A closer look at Secrecy in The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game
The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game | Published 02 April 2012

“I have quick ears… and though I cannot disappear, I have hunted many wild and wary things and I can usually avoid being seen, if I wish.”
–Strider, The Fellowship of the Ring

As we near the release of The Watcher in the Water for The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game, we find the heroes of Middle-earth preparing to depart the Last Homely House. From Rivendell, they’ll travel for leagues to the south and east, back in the direction from which they recently arrived, heading into the treacherous passes of the Misty Mountains in order to gain entrance to the mines of Moria. Once they gain entrance to the mines, they intend to scout them, at Elrond’s behest, to determine the root of the recent increase in Orcish activity.

The heroes know their journey will be fraught with peril. Even before they enter the mines and navigate through the dark, past untold hordes of Orcs, they must brave treacherous mountain passes and natural predators, all while doing their utmost to evade drawing the attention of Orcish patrols. Until they know the strength of the Orcish forces within the Misty Mountains, the heroes must assume that drawing too much attention to their movements would prove a fatal mistake. Thus, Secrecy is the order of the day…

It pays to be Resourceful

While it is possible to play Secrecy cards in a deck that pays for them at full cost, they are most efficient and effective in decks that have the means to keep their threat at or below 20. And while some decks that start with three heroes – notably Rohan decks starting with Éowyn (Core Set, 7), Dúnhere (Core Set, 9), and Théodred (Core Set, 2) – can quickly reduce their threat on a regular basis, the only way to guarantee you can play Secrecy cards at their discount is to start with two heroes whose total starting threat is 20 or lower. This is also the only way to reliably gain the benefits of Secrecy discounts on your first turn.

However, there are significant difficulties facing the two-hero fellowship. The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game was balanced for three-hero fellowships, and as designer Nate French discussed in a previous article, three-hero fellowships afford players just enough actions to cover the three major points of focus each turn: questing, defending, and attacking. While it’s possible to build up a following of allies to help cover those bases, the two-hero fellowship suffers another crushing blow – the loss of one-third their base resources.

Fortunately, The Watcher in the Water presents a solution for those players interested in testing the Secrecy mechanic and the two-hero fellowship. With its Secrecy discount, Resourceful (The Watcher in the Water, 62) costs only one to bring into play and brings you even for resources with a three-hero fellowship by your next turn. Even better, Resourceful isn’t unique, so you can play multiple copies, getting your two-hero fellowship up to as many as five resources per turn, even before you take advantage of such cards as Steward of Gondor (Core Set, 26), Horn of Gondor (Core Set, 42), and Zigil Miner (Khazad-dûm, 9).

Making a difference

What do extra resources mean to your fellowship? In short, they prove the difference between success and failure on their quest. More specifically, the extra resource from Resourceful could prove the difference between saving resources for two turns to bring a Northern Tracker (Core Set, 45) into play only to lose a hero to a nasty treachery effect, or protecting both your Northern Tracker and your hero. The extra resource from Resourceful may allow you to play A Test of Will (Core Set, 50) and cancel the effect that would have struck your hero. Or that resource could prove the difference between playing a Feint (Core Set, 34) to save Gléowine (Core Set, 62) from a Thrashing Tentacle (The Watcher in the Water, 74) and finding yourself forced to use Gléowine to defend the attack in order to save a hero, thus sacrificing his ability to provide you with consistent card draw. The difference between having that extra resource and not having it is the difference between watching your heroes suffer and playing a Sneak Attack (Core Set, 23) to bring Gandalf (Core Set, 73) into play at that key moment.

Of course, as the Dwarrowdelf’s lead developer Lukas Litzsinger already noted in an article about the development of Secrecy, players can utilize Secrecy cards even in decks that don’t ever get their threat to 20 or lower. They just have to pay the extra resources for these cards. In the case of Resourceful, this may mean spending a turn’s worth of resources, but if you play it early enough, the investment can pay off.

Choose your approach

Years have passed since the heroes of Middle-earth last saw Orcs move through the Misty Mountain in such troubling numbers. As they prepare for their journey to the mines of Moria, they’ll have to decide how much attention they can draw to themselves. How large a fellowship can they risk? Are they better off in greater numbers, and thus better suited to dividing their talents between searching for the Doors of Durin (The Watcher in the Water, 65), defending themselves, and driving back any would-be assailants? Or would Secrecy suit them better?

Check back later for the third part of this series, featuring a full Secrecy deck list that makes use of the new hero from The Watcher in the Water.

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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