Deck: Rohan Cavalry

La charge de Rohan

One of the best things about The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game is how well it represents the peoples and events from Tolkien’s writings. In many cases, these cards are some of the most powerful cards in the game. In instances where the power of these cards is not as immediately obvious, some players will express frustration. I prefer to see these cards as a challenge. Forth Eorlingas is one such card. While thematically brilliant, it represents something of a strategic conundrum. As someone who finds great enjoyment in building unique decks, these are some of cards that I enjoy most. Powerful, but not in as obvious of way as many other power cards, these kind of effects require a carefully-crafted deck.

Forth-EorlingasAs a 2 cost Tactics event, I’m sure many players immediately ignored this card as too expensive. To be fair, I was also rather skeptical at first glance. However, when you look at cards like Spear of the Mark, along with some other effects like Unseen Strike which have been around for a long time and have never quite found a niche, the broader picture starts to become more clear. Let’s be clear from the outset: this is a very specific deck, and it will not fair well against all scenarios. However, like any niche tool, when it works – it works to perfection.

For the most part, this deck remains very thematic. The one exception is Steward of Gondor, which was a necessary concession given the expense of this particular combo. The idea is to load up Háma with as many resources as possible. This allows us to combine Háma’s ability to recycle Tactics events when he attacks with the effect of Forth Eorlingas to allow him and his compatriots to attack the staging area. Thematically, this represents the Rohirrim riding down their enemies before the hapless whelps know what has hit them.

With Théodred and Éowyn committing to the quest each round, this strategy at first seems impossible. However, each of the Rohan heroes can then take advantage of Steed of the Mark to quest and immediately ready by spending a resource. Errand-riders, while not of Rohan, arrive on the scene to help with resource smoothing. This and the resource acceleration from Théodred and Steward of Gondor are needed to help pay for the various mounts and weapons that form the core of our strategy.

Spear-of-the-MarkForth Eorlingas is a rather expensive, at two resources, but the hope is that we won’t need to use it every round. Ideally, with the help of Spear of the Mark, Dagger of Westernesse and Firefoot, a single foray into the staging area should fell an enemy before they ever get close enough to swing their sword. Then, we can spend another round or two to build up resources and rally our troops.

With the high willpower that is the hallmark of the Rohan trait, along with support from Snowbourn Scout and West Road Traveller, we should be able to handle locations without too much of a problem. For scenarios with troublesome treacheries or condition attachments, feel free to add A Test of Will or Power of Orthanc. For being so tightly-focused on the cavalry theme, this deck still has some very real flexibility.

With such a reliance on the mount and weapon attachments, card draw becomes paramount. This is where Westfold Horse-breeder, Ancient Mathom and Foe-Hammer all play important roles. In case of low-engagement enemies that slip between our ranks, Feint, Sneak Attack and Quick Strike are all excellent solutions. Another trick which is quite fun is to use Westfold Outrider, after enemy attacks, to pull an enemy that would have engaged the following round. Because enemy attacks have already occurred, we get a full round of attacks on the enemy, risk-free.

With a strategy based primarily on staging area attack, threat control is of vital importance, so Gandalf and the Galadhrim’s Greeting should be used accordingly. One last note: the quantities in this deck were specifically designed to work with a single Core Set. For those with multiple Core Sets, or who don’t mind using proxies, an extra copy of some of the key cards like Feint and Steward of Gondor can help improve this deck’s consistency. Fare thee well, and ride forth into glorious victory!


Háma (TLD)
Éowyn (Core)
Théodred (Core)

Allies: 16
Snowbourn Scout (Core) x2
Westfold Horse-breeder (VoI) x3
Errand-rider (HoN) x3
Westfold Outrider (VoI) x2
West Road Traveller (RtM) x3
Gandalf (Core) x3

Attachments: 18
Ancient Mathom (AJtR) x3
Dagger of Westernesse (TBR) x3
Spear of the Mark (TMV) x3
Firefoot (TDT) x2
Rohan Warhorse (VoI) x2
Steed of the Mark (TMV) x3
Steward of Gondor (Core) x2

Events: 16
Foe-Hammer (TH:OHaUH) x3
Unseen Strike (TRG) x2
Sneak Attack (Core) x2
Feint (Core) x2
Forth Eorlingas! (TMV) x3
Quick Strike (Core) x2
The Galadhrim’s Greeting (Core) x2

Posted in Deck Lists, Strategy, Theme | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Bear With Me: Advanced Search

Bear inside Tree

One of the inevitable truths of Living Card Games is that deck building becomes more difficult as the game grows. With an expanded card pool, there are so many cards to choose from, and unless you plan on building 70 card decks, there just is not enough room for every card that you want to play. For even the sharpest bear, we can find ourselves scratching our skulls, trying to remember that perfect card to round out our new shiny deck.

The need for an up to date and accurate search engine was the entire reason that I created The Hall of Beorn Card Search. But I am not a bear that it content to just sit still. One of the most requested features for the search engine has been for the ability to use multiple of the same filter. For example: what are all of the 2 cost allies from either the Spirit or Tactics sphere. Having made software for many years now, I have seen many dynamic query interfaces. There is one word that I would use to describe many of these interfaces: clunky.

At some point, I would love to create an elegant user interface to help users easily create searches with multiple filters and complex logic. With limited time to spend adding features to the card search, it does not make sense for me to spend hours and hours crafting the perfect advanced search interface – especially if not many users end up taking advantage of this feature. In the mean time, I have decided to provide the advanced search features that people have asked for, but leave the user interface alone.

The easiest way to do this was to define a special syntax for advanced searches, and update the search engine to check for searches that match this new syntax. Up until now, the search field has only been used to provide a string to match against the title and game text of each card. For example: searching for “Aragorn” will not only return the two hero cards with that title, but other cards that refer to him by name – his many attachments.

With the latest version, you can still use the search field for these types of basic search. In addition, you can use two special characters: “+” and “-“, to perform advanced searches. It is important to emphasize that advanced search in no way changes the preexisting functionality of card search. All of the filters that you select from drop down menus still work as expected. The best way to think of advanced search is another tool, that you can use in addition to the basic search features, to further refine your search.

bearbirdfeederThe “+” is used to include a filter in your search, but it supports multiple values. So if you want to filter by Sphere, but you need to include more than one sphere in your search, you can include “+sphere:Leadership,Lore” in the search box. Logically any advanced search criteria is added (or ANDED, for those familiar with Boolean Algebra) to the existing basic search. This means anything you enter into basic search drop downs must be true, in addition to any advanced search filters.

So if you were to select Spirit from the sphere drop down menu, then enter an advanced search of “+sphere:Leadership,Lore”, you would get no results. This is because no card has both the Spirit printed sphere AND the Leadership or Lore printed sphere. In short, if you want to search for a given filter by multiple values, stick to advanced search and do not use the basic search filter of the same type. You can still mix and match basic and advanced filters of different types and it works as you would expect. For example selecting “Ally” from the card type drop down menu, then adding a search field of “rcost:2,3,5″ would return all allies with a resource cost of 2 or 3 or 5.

The “-” adds a filter, just the like “+” character, and also supports multiple values just like it’s less pessimistic brother. The difference is that the “-” character indicates a negated filter. For example, what if you want to search for all cards with the text “Aragorn”, except for those with the Spirit sphere. The advanced search  “Aragorn -sphere:Spirit” will give you just that. So let’s combine a few of these examples together into a more complex query. Let’s say that we want all Spirit or Tactics allies or attachments that cost between 2 and 4 resources, but don’t have the “Dwarf”, “Weapon” or “Armor” traits. Here is that search: “+sphere:Spirit,Tactics +type:Ally,Attachment -trait:Dwarf,Weapon,Armor”.

It should also be pointed out that advanced search is case insensitive, so the following search is equivalent to the one above: “+sphere:spirit,tactics +type:ally,attachment -trait:dwarf,weapon,armor”. In the case of traits, keywords, and especially card sets, some of them can be rather long – which makes them cumbersome to type and far too easy to misspell. To aid with filtering these fields, advanced search supports the “*” character as a “wild card”. For example “cycle:*shadow*” would give you cards from both the Shadows of Mirkwood cycle and the Against the Shadow cycle. Likewise “+set:the_hills*” would match The Hills of Emyn Muil, so that you don’t have to type out such a long name.

This latest example also highlights a limitation of advanced search. If you want to search for something with a space (e.g. “The Hills of Emyn Muil”), you need to use a “_” character instead of any spaces. This is because the search sees any text that does not start with a “+” or a “-” as a normal search. So if you entered a search of “+set:The Hills*” the search engine would see this as two separate things. First it would add a filter for any set named “The”, then it would do a search for all cards for the text “Hills*”. Since there is neither a set named “The”, nor any cards which contain the actual text “Hills*”, this search would return no results. So just remember, if you need to do an advanced search with a value that contains strings, the “_” character is your friend.

Now this is a whole lot of complex gibberish, and it can make one’s head swim. As a bear, I prefer concrete examples to abstract theory. I can’t eat an abstraction. So here is one last example to tie everything together:

+trait:silvan,noldor +type:ally +cycle:shadow*,*dwar*,again* -rcost:5

This returns all Silvan or Noldor allies from the first three cycles of the game that do not cost 5 resources (sorry Gildor). You can test this fancy search out right here. Because all searches in Hall of Beorn card search are represented as URLs, it is easy to share your advanced searches with others, simply copy and paste the link. So head on over to the newly updated card search, and try out some advanced search goodness. This is a complex subject, and bears are not always the best creatures to explain such wonders (sadly, no wizards were available to write this post), so feel free to ask questions in the comments below.

Without further ado, here are the available filters supported by advanced search.

Filter Description Example Values
cycle Card Cycle Shadows of Mirkwood, Dwarrowdelf, Against*, gencon
set Card Set The_Dead_Marshes, *dunland*,
type Card Type hero,ally,attachment,enemy,treachery,objective-ally
sphere Sphere of Influence leadership,tactics,spirit,lore,baggins,fellowship
rcost Resource Cost 1,2,3,4,5,6
tcost Threat Cost 5,9,11,12
ecost Engagement Cost 20,25,32,50
threat Enemy Threat 1,2,3,4,5
wp Willpower 0,2,3,4
atk Attack 1,2,3,5,7
def Defense 0,1,2,4
hp Hit Points 1,2,5,10
trait Card Trait dwarf,orc,silvan,noldor,weapon,condition,item,naz*
keyword Card Keyword ranged,sentinel,*immune*,*cannot_have*
encounter Encounter Set sauron*,*mountain*
artist Artist magali*,ben_z*
category Category healing,direct_damage,encounter_scrying
victory Victory Points 1,2,3,4,5
Posted in Community, Deck Building, Hall of Beorn Card Search, Software | Tagged , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Contest Winner: Just Desserts For A Dark Road

Passed Out Bear

After many wonderful desserts, Mrs. Beorn and I are ready for an early hibernation. We both really appreciate all of the delicious entries, and we plan on making them for our family in the coming holidays. At the end of the day, it was very difficult to choose just one winner – it makes me wish that I had extra prizes to award.

roasted-pearsBefore announcing the winner, I want to give an honorable mention to the following entries: Toffee Pudding (subtle and delicious), Hand Held Apple Pies (pure yummy), Cheesecake and Chocolate Caramel (I have no words) and Biscuits, Dutch Oven Cobbler (I love cobbler), Cream and Strawberries (great recipe, and hilarious instructions). There really were too many good recipes to eat in such a short time – even for a bear. I apologize to any readers whose recipes I have not mentioned, I promise I will get around to trying them soon. Just writing about all of those tasty dishes actually makes my mouth water.

I must admit, this contest has involved a lot of drooling and holding my paws to a very full belly. It is highly appropriate that Lord of the Rings fans have such fantastic recipes to share, given the love of food shared by all of The Free Peoples of Middle-Earth. Without further ado, the winner of the contest, and a free copy of The Road Darkens is Tony K with his recipe for Beorn’s Honeycomb Pears. Congratulations to you sir, on a genuinely novel and delicious recipe. Feel free to contact the hall with your information and we will have your prize shipped to you by special eagle delivery. Thanks again to everyone who entered and do not despair if you did not win, we will be announcing a new contest soon enough.

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Contest: Just Desserts For A Dark Road (Updated)



It’s that time again, time for another contest here at The Hall of Beorn! After what seemed like an unbearable wait, The Road Darkens has finally be released here in the US, and it just so happens that I have an extra copy in my giant furry paws. As always, this contest is open to readers from all over the globe, as my trusty eagle friends will provide delivery.

The rules for this contest are simple. Provide in the comments below, your favorite dessert recipe. Extra consideration will be given for entries which are particularly thematic or appropriate to the World of Tolkien. Please, no honey cake - I already have my own recipe – and I can admit to a bit of bias when it comes to that particular dish. With the holidays approaching, Mrs. Beorn and I will be doing quite a bit of entertaining, so it is always good to have some new dessert recipes to share with friends and family.

The contest will run for 1 week, until next Monday October the 13th at Midnight. Please leave your recipes in the comments below, so that other readers can appreciate them as well. Feel free to enter multiple recipes as only the best recipe will win the contest. The winner of course gets a brand new copy of The Road Darkens, delivered anywhere except Mordor, free of charge. Good luck to all, and my tummy is growling with anticipation for the tasty treats to come!

UPDATE: Due to a large number of last-minute entries, I am going to wait until Friday, October the 17th to announce a winner. Only entries that made it in by yesterday are considered, but Mrs. Beorn and I need more time to try out these tasty recipes. Thanks for your patience everyone!

bear print

Posted in Community, Contest, Fun, Recipe, Theme | Tagged , , , , , | 22 Comments

Breaking of the Fellowship Did Not Break the Grey Company

Breaking of the Fellowship - 3 PlayerI just finished an epic 3-player game of Breaking of the Fellowship with Derek and Matthew. Though I am still not entirely sure that we played it correctly (I’ve only ever played that quest solo), it was a total blast. Look for our episode about The Road Darkens in the very near future.

For those that want to watch us play this scenario, here is the video.

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Bear Market: Tempo Archetype


As the game evolves, new archetypes are introduced, and existing archetypes change in often unexpected ways. The tempo archetype is an interesting hybrid between low-threat control decks and high-threat aggro decks. Utilizing powerful heroes and taking advantage of allies entering and leaving play, these decks present an interesting middle ground that brings many tactical decisions. What follows are five cards with particular value in many of these tempo decks.

Horn of Gondor

Horn of GondorFor such a minimal cost, Horn of Gondor has always been a very efficient form of resource acceleration. However, as the meta game shifted to more conservative archetypes, this card was deemphasized. Many of those methodical decks were designed around playing powerful and expensive allies, and keeping them in play at all costs.

It is interesting to note that Silvan refugee fit perfectly into these decks when it was first released. The reemergence of Horn of Gondor has corresponded to a shift in the style of many decks. Between the Rohan/Gondor “leaves play” decks and the nascent Silvan decks there are multiple viable options for this new tempo archetype. Tempo exists in the spaces between conservative turtle decks and high-threat aggressive decks.

One of the distinguishing features of these tempo decks is that they are not aiming to field an army of allies. With Éomer/Prince Imrahil decks, allies are sacrificed as chump blockers to fuel all of the powerful responses. Silvan decks are a bit more nuanced but the outcome is the same – a steady stream of allies leaving play. This is where Horn of Gondor can trumpet its worth. In a multiplayer game that features multiple tempo decks, Horn of Gondor can actually be more powerful than its Leadership counterpart, which is a remarkable thought.

Valiant Sacrifice

Valiant SacrificeThis is a Core Set card that many, including me, overlooked at first glance. To be fair, almost any Lore card drawing effect is more powerful, and less situational, than this card. The fact that it provides a reasonably effective form of card draw to the Leadership sphere is precisely why this card is useful.

Whether it is Celeborn, Prince Imrahil, Sam Gamgee, Balin, or one of a host of other useful Leadership heroes, many tempo decks are built around this sphere. While healing is a much more common effect in slow-paced decks, it is less important in decks where allies are often the ones defending. Many tempo decks are focused around combat and questing, with less of a need for the trickery of the Lore sphere.

In short, some tempo decks do not have access to Lore and its hyper-efficient card drawing effects. For those decks, having an inexpensive form of card draw to supplement Sneak Attack and Gandalf is vital. With the addition of his hero to the card pool, card draw effects that do not rely on Gandalf are increasingly valuable. With tempo decks, there are plenty of characters leaving play, so Valiant Sacrifice can even be used to help another play draw cards, after one of their allies leaves play.


Lembas (TiT)-smallWhen it comes to healing, players have almost universally preferred repeatable effects, particularly inexpensive cards like Warden of Healing. To be sure, there is power in a repeatable effect, but it also implies a certain strategy. The more conservative “turtle” style deck will take its time, building an ally army.

This more deliberate strategy has its disadvantages, however. Archery, direct damage from treacheries, and attrition from using a single hero as a dedicated defender can all take a toll. This precisely why Warden of healing is so essential to a control deck. Repeatable effects are more important when the game lasts so many rounds.

Tempo decks are different. More chump blocking is employed, and dead allies gain no benefit from healing. Heroes can be used as defenders, but it depends on the circumstances and they must be used sparingly. In many tempo decks, heroes spend most of their time questing or attacking.

Still, healing is necessary for tempo decks. Direct damage encounter effects are only becoming more common, and the recent uptick in ally-hate will mean that heroes must sometimes be pressed into defensive duties. Every action has a cost, and this why Lembas is such a perfect card for tempo decks.

A tempo deck can’t afford to spend too many rounds to finish the quest. Each hero has a clearly-defined role, so using a hero to block can reck your counter-attack strategy. If too many engaged enemies pile up, undefended attacks can fell a hero. In multi-sphere decks, the loss of a single hero can cripple a deck. Lembas allows a hero to defend, heal the damage suffered from the attack, then ready and counter-attack. Combining healing with action advantage makes this a particularly potent card for tempo decks.

Stand and Fight

Stand and FightControl decks and the proliferation of ally mustering effects pushed this card to the margins of many archetypes. Many decks specifically include Spirit for cancellation and threat-reduction effects. In this context, spending a bunch of precious Spirit resources just to bring an ally into play makes little to no sense. In a meta-game dominated by expensive allies, this card did not make as much sense.

Tempo decks have changed the equation for Stand and Fight. With a variety of useful 1 and 2-cost allies with “comes into play” or discard-based effects, this card gains maximum utility. The fact that it is an action should not be overlooked. If a large enemy is about to make an additional attack – one that would otherwise go undefended – Stand and Fight can be used to provide an emergency defender. Chump blocking is a zero-sum game in most control decks, but this strategy can reap benefits when so many allies have response effects to trigger.

Many tempo decks include two or three spheres. The heroes involved, and the cards to support them, are spread out over too many different sphere to be able to design a mono-sphere deck. In multi-sphere decks an unlucky draw can easily lead to a glut of one type of resource. Being able to use these resources to muster an ally from any sphere is quite a useful trick. Being able to trigger the enters play ability again gives this event great utility.

In a recent game, I found myself with 5 resources on Éowyn without cancellation in hand. Thanks to Stand and Fight, I pulled A copy of Gwäihir out of Mrs. Beorn’s discard pile. I triggered his response to resurrect a Vassal of the Windlord from my own discard pile. Once I was done with the Vassal, she was able to attach it to her Eagles of the Misty Mountains instead of letting it go back to the discard pile. After all that, I still had the copy of Gwäihir in play to help with questing or combat. Being able to trigger the “enters play” effect of the King of the Eagles made Stand and Fight the perfect card for this situation.


Saruman-smallThis will probably end up being a controversial choice, but I have been reconsidering my initial reluctance about including the fallen Istari in my decks. To be fair, doomed cards are not auto-include in every deck. Secrecy decks and any kind of control deck that needs to carefully manage its threat will often find the he is not worth the cost. No matter what the circumstances, choosing to raise your threat (and that of every other player) by 3 is a hard pill to swallow. For this reason doomed is a very tough proposition for multiplayer games – unless everyone designs their decks with threat control in anticipation.

Still, in solo play Saruman can be an absolute beast. Both his stats and ability are amazing, and the tempo archetype is all about taking advantage of allies leaving play – so you can even derive benefit from the Wizard’s reluctance to stay around. Depending on play style, none of these arguments will sway some people, as Saruman is a card that places a deck decidedly more on the aggressive end of the tempo archetype. The ultimate reason why I chose to include him was because he is a “toolbox” card that can save you in many different situations.

For all decks with a full set of starting heroes, a 3 cost neutral card can be played in any round – no matter what the circumstances. This means that if you really need his ability and or stats, he will never be a dead card in your hand. One could make the counter-argument about drawing him when you are at 47 threat, and this is technically true. Still, in almost all of the games that I’ve won after getting to 47 threat I did so using the cards I already had in play, so this niche criticism is not enough to abandon the card altogether.

Depending on the scenario, his ability is nothing short of amazing. Being able to pull an Orc Vanguard out of play for a round (assuming you have a Tactics hero), to allow other players to actually play cards from their hands is just one example of how invaluable Saruman can be. Once he gets into play, the 5 attack strength can be a huge boost to help finish off enemies that your forces are struggling to overcome. The best way to think about Saruman in a tempo deck is like an emergency fire axe. If everything is going right, you aren’t going to need him – but if things go horribly wrong, having access to this tool can absolutely save your life.

Posted in Card Lists, Metagame, Strategy | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Bear With Me: Text Analysis



In the course of writing this blog, being a member of The Grey Company, general involvement in the player community, and creating the Hall of Beorn Card Search, I have the opportunity to see this game from many different perspectives. In this new segment, I want to provide insights into some of the work that goes into these various activities. While these segues might not be of interest to everyone, I am confident that they will be sufficiently relevant (and short) to be entertaining to many readers.

When not slaying Orcs, writing blog posts, or recording podcasts, I am a professional software developer. One of the nice things about this game is that it provides me a chance to apply concepts that I learn at my day job to help create tools for one of my favorite games. I have worked on many search engines over the course of my career, and Hall of Beorn Card Search ultimately came out of my desire to have a search engine for this game that worked the way I wanted it to.

While it may not have every feature that everyone wants, it is fast, accurate and extensive. I continue to release new features and card sets on a regular basis and am always open to suggestions from the community. Many user requests have already been added to my list of features to add. So if you don’t yet see your favorite feature, it could be that I just haven’t completed it yet.

Many users have requested the ability to create and save deck lists via the search engine. This is something that I would very much like to add, but it takes time, and it is something that I want to get right the first time. I would rather spend the necessary time in order to have a deck-building app that works and gets users excited, than rush out an ill-conceived mess that no one wants to use. The biggest barrier to adding these type of marquee features is time. Between my various responsibilities, it is hard to find time to even play the latest scenarios, much less work on all of these supplemental tools.

Daeron's RunesOne of the challenges in deck-building is finding cards that fit a particular role within a deck. The best designed decks have a very focused idea of what it is they intend to do, and exactly how they aim to achieve their goals. With that in mind, I added a new Category filter to the Hall of Beorn Card Search recently. For example, here are cards in the “Card Draw” category. This filter is specifically intended to help with deck design, when it comes time to add a particular element to a deck.

While it might at first seem mundane, this filter is a dramatic evolution for the search engine. Up to now, all of the filters available on Hall of Beorn Card Search have been based directly on individual data elements printed on the cards. Everything from the title, card set, stats, traits and keywords – even the artist can be derived directly from the card. The category filter is the first to use a more advanced and meaningful understanding of the cards in the game.

Category is a somewhat abstract concept. It requires looking at the card text and analyzing its meaning to derive the “intent” of the card. While this might at first seem entirely subjective, my goal has been to avoid that. I may at some point in the future add user ratings (e.g. 1 to 5 stars), reviews (“this card sucks”) and other subjective data, the goal for now is to apply strictly objective analysis of the cards.

In order to do that, I have designed the categories to be applied algorithmically. This is a fancy way of saying that I have a recipe to automatically categorize each of the player cards based on their text. While I may at some point categorize encounter and quest cards, that would be decidedly less valuable for my needs – as those cards are not built into player decks. In general, all of the upcoming features for Card Search are aimed at helping players with deck-building.

There are many advantages of this approach, not the least of which is how quickly I was able to implement it. Rather than pore over the hundreds of player cards in the game and manually assign categories to them, I was able to define patterns for the initial 15 categories and have them assigned instantaneously. Another nice feature of this is that as cards are released, they too will automatically be categorized using this algorithm. This saves me from spending extra time categorizing whenever there are new releases. With the Nightmare Decks releasing at an accelerated pace, this is all the more important.

CramThis brings us to how the text analysis itself is performed. Unlike stats, keyword and traits, categories are a bit fuzzier of a concept. As a bear, I love anything fuzzy, but it is a bit harder to convince a computer of this. Take a category like Readying, for example. A card like Cram says “ready attached hero”, while Grim Resolve says “Ready all characters in play”, and Ever Vigilant says “ready 1 ally card”. While they are all worded differently, and have slightly different effects, they all represent a card that provides readying to a deck. The concept of a category would be far less useful if each of these cards was assigned a different category, so the goal will be to create groupings these kinds of similar cards.

This is where regular expressions come to the rescue. For those interested in software design, language theory, or automata, regular expressions are a fascinating subject worthy of their own study. For everyone else, it is enough to say that regular expressions are a kind of language that is used to analyze text for particular words and phrases. By defining more general patterns for each category, we can recognize the common thread that connects Cram, Grim Resolve, Ever Vigilant and other cards like them. By creating enough of these patterns, we can categorize most of the player cards in the game automatically, and spare my poor paws from the pain of doing everything manually.

As much as the categories themselves are objectively based on the words and phrases in question, the decision of which categories to create is of course a subjective one. The goal is for categories to serve as aids in deck-building – especially when it comes to suggesting cards that might otherwise go overlooked. With that in mind, they should provide real utility to the community as a whole, and not just be organization for its own sake.

So if anyone has suggestions for new categories please leave them in the comments below. I want to keep the categories to a manageable number, so I cannot promise that I will add every suggestion, but I will certainly give them their due consideration. Lastly, the patterns that I am using are incomplete, and some cards are not currently categorized. For anyone who enjoys using their red marker, and wants to spot check the categories to suggest cards that need to be included, that would be most appreciated.

Without further ado, here are the current categories, along with a few examples of the kinds of phrases that they match:

Category Matches
Resource Acceleration “Add 1 resource”, “Add 2 resources”
Resource Smoothing “Move 1 resource”, “Pay 1 resource from a hero’s resource pool to add 1 resource”
Ally Mustering “ally into play”, “allies into play”
Willpower Bonus “+1 Willpower”, “+2 Willpower”
Attack Bonus “+1 Attack”, “+2 Attack”
Defense Bonus “+1 Defense”, “+2 Defense”
Hit Point Bonus “+1 Hit Point”, “+4 Hit Points”
Card Draw “draw 1 card”, “draw 3 cards”
Card Search “search your deck”
Player Scrying “looks at the top 5 cards of his deck”
Encounter Scrying “look at the top card of the encounter deck”
Combat Control “enemy cannot attack”, “enemies cannot attack”
Healing “heal 1 damage”, “heal 2 damage”, “heal all damage”
Readying “ready all characters”, “ready attached hero”, “ready him”, “ready 1 ally”
Recursion “return 1 spirit card from your discard pile”, “shuffle your discard pile”
Direct Damage “deal 1 damage”, “deal X damage”, “deal damage to the attacking enemy”, “excess damage dealt by this attack”
Encounter Control “deal 1 damage to each enemy as it is revealed by the encounter deck”, “cancel the ‘when revealed’ effects”
Shadow Control “cancel a shadow effect”, “look at 1 shadow card”, “cancel any shadow effects”
Location Control “place 2 progress”, “switch the active location”, “location enters play”
Threat Control “reduce 1 players threat”, “lower your threat by 2″, “reduce your threat to your starting threat level”
Staging Area Attack “target enemies in the staging area”, “against an enemy in the staging area”
Staging Area Control “that enemy does not contribute its Threat”, “that location does not contribute its Threat”, “Choose an enemy in the staging area”
Enters Play “After Son of Arnor enters play”, “After Snowbourn Scout enters play”
Leaves Play “after Descendant of Thorondor enters or leaves play”, “after an ally leaves play”
Played From Hand “after you play Rivendell Minstrel from your hand”, “After you play a Dwarf character from your hand, draw 1 card”
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