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Thursday, September 11, 2014

The Lord of the Rings LCG: Trouble in Tharbad Review - Part 1

The latest expansion to be released for the LotR: LCG is the "Trouble in Tharbad" adventure pack, the third release in the Ring-Maker cycle. As per my last review, part 1 will delve into the new hero and the player cards, and part 2 will deal with the quest itself.

The Ring-Maker cycle is shaping up to be of critical importance for LotR: LCG players. The heroes, players cards, and quest archetypes have been adding a host of new builds and challenges for players to explore. Everyone knew, from spoilers, that the Elves were going to get a lot of love this cycle, but fans of the Secrecy mechanic have also been blessed with a host of new cards for their decks. Likewise, we have seen Fantasy Flight's opening moves with the Scout trait, which is sure to get a lot of love in the next cycle (which will focus on the Dunedain in the North).

And the heroes...oh my the heroes! We're yet to see a hero in this cycle that lacks utility. Eomer and Grima were released in the Voice of Isengard box, and both are great in their own way. Celeborn followed in The Dunland Trap, and has formed the anchor of the new Silvan abilities found in this cycle. Then we received Idraen in The Three Trials, who is quickly becoming one of my favorite heroes and solidifies the Spirit sphere's ability to handle anything that gets thrown at a player.

I'm happy to report that Trouble in Tharbad is no different, and delivers a very nice hero in the form of Haldir.

He's Silvan. He's a Ranger. He's a Scout. Those are three traits that are only going to get better as this expansion continues and the next one begins - and he's already pretty damn good to start with. His special ability will be great at targeting annoying enemies in the staging area, but he can also take down bigger targets if given a couple of weapon attachments.

His starting threat of 9 is also very attractive, and his willpower of 2 makes him a viable quester as well. I don't see a lot of decks being built specifically around Haldir, but I think he is going to make a great utility hero who's going to get a lot of playtime. Looking for someone to accompany two Spirit heroes? Throw an "Unexpected Courage" on Haldir and he can quest and attack all day long. Running a tactics/lore deck? Put a weapon attachment (like the always handy "Rivendell Blade") on Haldir and watch your tougher foes fall one by one. If you're going for theme and have Celeborn leading your Elven host, be sure to drop "Naith Guide" to allow Haldir to quest without exhausting, leaving him free to snipe some enemies that have trespassed too far into Lorien.

Let's take a quick look at some of the other player cards:

Defender of the Naith - I love neutral allies. Envoy of Pelargir has become an auto-include in many of my decks. Defender of the Naith will probably not feature quite so heavily in my standard decks, but makes a great addition to Silvan decks that feature allies bouncing in and out of play. This card is a little pricey at 3 resources, but pairs very nicely with a great new card for Silvan decks...

Pursuing the Enemy - Let me be clear: if you have a tactics hero in a Silvan deck then you must include this card. For the price of returning a Silvan ally to your hand (not discarding) you deal one damage to every enemy engaged with a certain player. This ally leaving play can trigger a host of other abilities, including that of the Defender of the Naith. This card is going to get a lot of play time, but how can you assure that you'll be able to get this event into your hand? Well...

Galadrim Minstrel - 2 cost is honestly a little steep for this card, but it can be extremely useful, especially if you're looking for zero-cost events. After that she can either leave play voluntarily or after becoming a meat shield, thereby triggering other effects. All in all the Silvan trait is getting a fully-formed, in-game identity, one that is built around buffing allies before having those allies exit the stage.

Free to Choose - Secrecy keeps getting love in this cycle, and that includes this card. Although non-secrecy decks can still make use of this card, the effect of Free to Choose can mean the difference between life and death for Secrecy players.

Lembas - Attach this to Elrond and watch him go to town. The ability to heal a hero is almost beside the point - allowing a hero to ready for 1 cost can be game-changing. Exhaust Elrond and Vilya and then discard Lembas to ready him. If that 1 resource for Lembas brings Gandalf into play it'll be the best single lore resource you can spend. Not that Elrond is the only beneficiary of this card, but this was the first combo that sprang to mind.

Join us for Part 2, where we'll take a look at the actual Trouble in Tharbad quest, and give a final, overall review of the expansion pack.

***All card images courtesy of the Hall of Beorn Card Search

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