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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The LotR LCG: Celebrimbor's Secret Review - Part 1

In many game systems there are times when players think that it's been far too long between any exciting releases. Then there are other times when the releases are coming so quickly that the fanbase can barely keep up. This is currently one of those times. In the last couple of months FFG has released several adventure packs and one deluxe saga expansion, inundating players with new quests to overcome and new player cards to enjoy.

Celebrimbor's Secret (henceforth CS because there is no way I'm typing out "Celebrimbor" multiple times) is the latest release to hit the tables, and has had an immediate impact. Let's take a look at some of the cards, starting off with the big one:

That's right, the preeminent Elf lord of Middle Earth has made an appearance in hero form. This card is a winner on all three fronts: gameplay, theme, and art. First of all, Magali Villnueve has once again outdone herself, capturing Galadriel's grace and beauty while hinting at her underlying power. There is a fantastic article at Tales from the Cards which outlines how multi-dimensional Galadriel truly is. She wasn't always the incorruptible figure that is portrayed in The Lord of the Rings, and I think this card art portrays just a bit of her potential for destructive power. Granted, in our timeline it is the servants of Sauron that have the most to fear from her, so what will the encounter deck be up against in terms of gameplay?

To start, we really can't analyze her impact on the game without talking about a hero-specific attachment for her: 

Elrond gets Vilya, Galadriel gets Nenya. This attachment unlocks her 4 willpower by basically allowing her to quest without actually committing her to the quest. 

Steven's Thoughts: I was totally on the fence about Galadriel, but I have seen the error of my ways. She rules! When she is thematically paired with Celeborn, and Silvan allies are questing without exhausting, not having Nenya doesn't even hurt that bad. In fact, I tend to use Nenya more to help generate lore resources than use its actual ability. Rarely do I add her willpower, unless we need to do a big push. I love Galadriel! -S

Next, allies do not have to exhaust to commit to the quest on the turn that they enter play. This is huge, and gives players a ton of action advantage with their allies.

Finally, you can exhaust Galadriel to lower your threat by 1 and draw 1 card. Players could, potentially, keep their threat static throughout an entire game, barring any Doomed effects or any failures against the quest. 

To get the most out of Galadriel and Nenya you'll need to get some sort of readying ability onto her. Unexpected Courage is the obvious choice, and Lembas is another in-sphere option for her (remember, with Nenya she gains the Lore resource icon). She takes some commitment to get going, but can be very powerful once she is fully equipped. Also, she is a 9-threat hero, which is pretty low these days and provides great value.

The downside? No attack or defense capability, but that's a weakness that questing heroes like Eowyn suffer from as well. As someone who doesn't run Silvan decks, my biggest downside is that I'm going to lose the awesome Ally Galadriel in my other decks!

Let's take a look at some of the other player card highlights from this pack:

Heir of Mardil - This is a great attachment for Galadriel, because there are many ways of shifting resources around via card effects. This would allow her to get the most out of her special abilities provided there was no other action-advantage available for her at that point. It's a fantastic attachment for other heroes as well, provided they have the Noble trait (sorry, Mablung, this card would've been perfect for you). I think this pairs very well with Theodred, for example.

Orophin - A strong contender for the MVP of the pack, Orophin (who is Haldir's brother, by the way) is an excellent ally card for anyone playing a Silvan deck. With Celeborn and O'Lorien in play, Orophin can enter for the cost of 2 resources, quest or attack for 3 (and, if Galadriel is in play, he can quest and attack), and bring an ally back from the dead. 

Wandering Ent - This is a fantastic card that is going into all of my Lore decks. He provides Ally Haldir-level stats for half the cost, which the slight catch that he comes into play exhausted. Frankly, I can wait a turn in exchange for his great value. Barring Hero Galadriel, this guy is probably my MVP of the Adventure Pack. In several solo games now I've dropped him into play for one cost thanks to Grima, and then because I had Keys of Orthanc in play I immediately made that resource back!

Galadriel's Handmaiden - This is a fantastic ally that deserves to quest round after round...but generally ends up dying right away. Think about it: with Celeborn and O'Lorien she enters play for 1 resource, quests for 3, and then with Galadriel on the table she's still ready to defend later on. She's the ultimate Silvan chump blocker! Perhaps Orophin can bring her back at a later point.

Charge of the Rohirrim - It's good to see that my loyal riders of Rohan haven't been abandoned by this AP. I see a lot of potential for this card, but so far I've been unable to pull off any fantastic combos with it. I think it suffers from the same problems as Forth Eorlingas: it's a little pricey for what it does, and can be very situational. I'm trying to work this into a combination with Dunhere and Rohan Warhorse, but so far I've been unable to get the combo to work as intended.

Thanks for reading, and stay tuned for Part 2 where we'll explore what exactly Celebrimbor stored away in Ost-in-Eidhil. Special thanks as usual to the Hall of Beorn card search for the images. 

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