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Monday, October 27, 2014

LotR: LCG Nin-in Eilph Adventure Pack Review - Part 1

I was shocked, shocked to find that my FLGS was able to stock the most recent release for the LotR:LCG on time. The Nin-in-Eilph is the fourth adventure pack to be released for the Ring-Maker cycle, and is a strong contender for the most unpronounceable title for a release. As with prior reviews, we will start by highlighting the new hero and some of the player cards before diving into the quest itself in Part 2.

So far this cycle has blessed players with a strong slate of heroes. The Voice of Isengard deluxe box gave us Eomer and Grima, both of whom are strong in their own way. They were followed by Celeborn in the Dunland Trap, which set the stage for the development of the entire Silvan trait. The Three Trials then gave us Idraen, who added some muscle to the Spirit sphere and also became a key player in location-control decks. The last release, Trouble in Tharbad, saw the debut of hero Haldir, who is getting better and better as the Silvan trait develops and players learn the best combos and heroes to pair him with.

Following in the footsteps of a hero lineup like that isn't easy, especially when we know that Galadriel is going to be released next. Let's take a look at who has now been added to our repertoire of heroes:

At 10 threat, and with 2 willpower/attack/defense, Mablung is a well-rounded hero in a sphere that typically features specialization in its heroes. He has the Gondor (yay!) and Ranger traits, and a nifty special ability. In the books Mablung was part of Faramir's company of Rangers. He survived both the Battle of Osgiliath and the Siege of Minas Tirith, and scouted ahead of the allied armies as they marched on the Black Gate. His ultimate fate is unknown.

One major caveat that we have to consider when reviewing Mablung is his Ranger trait. The game designers have already announced that the next cycle will really flesh out the Ranger trait, so it is likely that Mablung will benefit from a cycle's-worth of attention in the future. For all we know he could become the best hero in the game if any crazy Ranger attachments/events are released in the future - we just don't know.

Perhaps a peek into the Mirror of Galadriel could enlighten us

Generating resources could make him a great target for Gondorian Fire and Blood of Numenor, but my instinct is that those cards are better used on someone like Boromir or Eomer (once Eomer is given the Steward of Gondor). Another problem lies with the timing of his resource generation, because it makes cards like Steed of the Mark irrelevant for him. That said, it would allow a player to spend all of his resources elsewhere before then being able to play Feint or Quick Strike after having engaged an enemy.

I'm fully prepared to eat my words in the future, but my verdict on Mablung is that he's a decent hero that simply doesn't break through to the upper tier of tactics heroes. There are some combos that could work with him, and pairing him with the Horn of Gondor certainly creates an excellent resource engine. If he were 9 threat then he'd be much better, but here are two other tactics heroes that you can get for 10 threat:

Nobody doubts the utility of Eomer and Beregond, because they're each masters at what they do. Eomer attacks like a madman, and Beregond is the immovable object that enemies batter themselves upon. Currently Mablung is someone I put on the same level as Hama: decent, but not great.

Onto some of the player cards that I'm most looking forward to using:

Wingfoot - Now this is a card that could help Mablung! Presumably, the only reason you'd need Mablung to ready after questing is if you needed to smash an enemy. If I got this attachment on Mablung then I would simply name 'enemy' as its trigger - if only locations or treacheries are revealed then no big deal, but if an enemy is revealed then I'll have Mablung ready to go without having wasted his two willpower. I will also fit this into my Lore Aragorn decks for the exact same reason.

Celduin Traveler - The guys at Team Covenant recently posted an excellent review of this guy. He is definitely a counterpart to Ithilien Lookout, and needless to say that he will probably be finding his way into many location-control decks. Anything that allows you to look at the top card of the encounter deck has tremendous value, especially for solo play.

Galadhon Archer - This is probably my MVP card from the pack. He was recently spoiled via the team at Couple vs Cardboard, and right away I began proxying him into my decks. For two cost he is simply incredible. He pairs very well with Celeborn so he can deal damage upon entering play and then swing for three attack in the combat phase, using his ranged ability to help out other players if needed. Again, what astounds me about this card is that it only costs two resources. Editor's note: Or even 1 if you have Celeborn with O' Lorien! -Steven

Follow Me! - A very subtle card that allows another player to take control of the first player token. This can come in handy in a number of situations, too many to list here. It also gives the Leadership sphere a little card draw. And, to boot, I enjoy the art.

Bow of the Galadhrim - Remember earlier in the article when I talked about getting good attachments for Haldir? This is a great little attachment that can take Haldir and Legolas to further heights of destructiveness. I see this card replacing the Dagger of Westernesse in a lot of Silvan decks, since the attack boost isn't conditional upon the enemy's engagement cost.

Thanks for reading! Stay tuned for Part 2 of this review where we will dive into the cool quest mechanics for The Nin-in-Eilph. You can follow all of the WWPD Fellowship's activities on Twitter, and also listen to our brand new podcast!

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