Breaking News: Giant Bear Dominates In Battle, None Surprised

Nightmare Into Ithilien-small

I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: “Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed:
And on the pedestal these words appear:
‘My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!’
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.”
—Percy Shelley, “Ozymandias”

Wow, what a rush. I just finished Nightmare Into Ithilien and snatched victory from the jaws of defeat. I took a modified version of a solo deck which I had tuned to beat the normal version, and was able to survive Nightmare Into Ithilien by the slimmest of margins. I did not take detailed game notes, but I honestly assumed that I would get crushed and need to make changes. It turns out that this deck is pretty well-suited to handle the quest (as much as you can say about any deck in the context of a Nightmare Scenario).

beorn_by_jmkilpatrick-d6r2enj

I will provide the deck list below, but I want to stress that there is no guarantee that you will have the same good fortune in your attempts at this quest. Nightmare Into Ithilien is punishingly difficult - it will take solid play and a bit of luck to survive it. Win or lose, this scenario is a great opportunity to adopt a hyper-aggressive strategy.

Two things are notably missing from this list: card draw or resource acceleration. This is probably the most pure aggro deck I’ve ever built for the game. Rather than spend time, and resources, on card draw effects, I have built the deck with very specific ratios, and enough flexibility that it has a chance to overcome all but the worst draw.

As for resource acceleration, that would certainly be nice, but is simply not an options with these spheres. Neither Spirit nor Tactics gives me ready access to resource-ramping effects, unless you are willing to do something fiddly like Zigil Miner and Imladris Stargazer. Those kinds of combos are cute for more leisurely scenarios, that give you a couple of rounds to get all of your tricks setup. Into Ithilien is not that kind of scenario, the Nightmare version doubly so.

The basic strategy here is to quest very aggressively, holding back a Feint or chump blocker. Chump blocking is dangerous in this scenario, which is why Hasty Stroke is included. As if the original wasn’t bad enough, the Nightmare version has even more Archery. One solution to this would be healing, but with an encounter deck that includes so many terrible effects, I see no good reason to spend my time healing characters. The watch-word of this day is “run”. If you have a chance to cut down an enemy or two on your way out of the forest, so much the better.

Mûmak-EliteBarring extremely bad luck, you should be able to make it out of stage 1 with Celador still alive, which allows you to skip one of the Mûmak Elite (the other comes out once you make it to stage 4). Stage 3 presents the greatest risk to this deck, particularly with all of the archery that was added. The Nightmare version did not disappoint: no sooner had I made it to Stage 2, when Haradrim Captain showed up, ready to fill all of my characters with arrows. To make matters worse, I already had an Ithilien Outlook in play, which severely limited my options for where to assign the archery damage. Fortunately, I brought a giant bear with me to the fight, and he eats arrows for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Ithilien-OverlookBy traveling to a new location each round, and questing aggressively, I was able to prevent all of these nasty effects from staying into play for long enough to start create combos for the encounter deck. That is the key to the aggressive strategy. I don’t much care if I have to raise my threat to perform multiple actions with Boromir, so long as I am under 40 by the time I make it to stage 4 (so that I have 2 rounds to try and beat it). It is vitally important to keep the staging area as clear as possible at all times.

Westfold-Outrider (small)To this end, I always optionally engaged an enemy, if able. Westfold Outriders are amazing in stage 3, when the staging area can fill with enemies, many of whom will now have archery. The deck takes a subtle hand to play, because their are some important decisions to make around which allies you play when. You want to save resources on some rounds, and avoid over-committing allies because of cards like Blocking Wargs and those damned Spiders (thankfully, Watcher in the Wood, probably the worst card from the original quest, has been removed).

West-Road-TravellerObviously the cheaper eagles can be more freely sacrificed once you have an Eagles of the Misty Mountains in play. Chump blocking, using the Outrider’s ability, and deciding when to play Gandalf, all have implications for cards like Silvan Refugee. My favorite way to use the Refugee is to save any of them (and West Road Traveller) in my hand for stage 3. Once I get there, I hopefully have some Spirit resources saved up, and I can play them and start questing like mad. Watch out for Blocking Wargs, it can be devastating to this deck. I had to use my one A Test of Will to cancel it in stage 3. Once I felt like I was ready for the final push to clear stage 3, I played Gandalf, knowing that the Refugee would leave play at the end of the round. At that point, it doesn’t really matter – she has more than paid you back for your paltry investment.

I even optionally engaged the Mûmak Elite, as crazy as that might sound. His archery was going to hit me either way, but I would rather have his 5 threat of out of the staging area while my heroes raced to Cair Andros. Fortunately he is not added until stage 4 (assuming you skip stage 2), so I only had to deal with 2 of his attacks. Boromir, loaded up with Gondorian Shield and Support of the Eagles, was easily able to handle all attackers. I focused counter-attacks on archery enemies, as this deck has no healing.

I actually did chump block the giant Oliphaunt at one point, even though Boromir could have probably defended it unharmed. The reasons were two-fold: I had a Hasty Stroke in hand the cancel the inevitable extra attack shadow effect, and I didn’t want to raise my threat to ready Boromir unless I absolutely had to. Remember that Stage 4 raises your threat by 3 each round, on top of ridiculous effects like Southron Support, so you really only have a couple of rounds to escape alive. Threat management, along with all of the other concerns of this quest, is important.

Beorn the Arrow-eater

Heroes:
Beorn
Boromir
Glorfindel (FoS)

Allies: 27
Vassal of the Windlord x3
Silvan Refugee x2
Defender of Rammas x2
Westfold Outrider x3 (proxied with Veteran Axehand in the photo above)
Winged Guardian x3
Arwen Undómiel x3
West Road Traveler x3
Bofur (TH:OHaUH) x2
Eagles of the Misty Mountains x3
Gandalf (Core) x3

Attachments: 9
Gondorian Shield x3
Light of Valinor x3
Support of the Eagles x3

Events: 14
The Eagles Are Coming! x3
Elrond’s Counsel x3
Feint x3
A Test of Will x3
Hasty Stroke x2

Posted in Deck Building, Nightmare Mode, Screenshot, Strategy | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

The Hobbits Overcome Bellach, and Discover Celebrimbor’s Secret

Celebrimbor's Secret-small

Thanks to some invaluable help from Gandalf and Elrond, the Hobbits had no trouble taking out Bellach and discovering Celebrimbor’s Secret. By exploring locations as quickly as possible, and optionally engaging enemies with the Scour effect, I was able to mitigate Bellach’s ability and avoid any game-ending rounds. From there, it was just a matter of using mustering effects to build an army and scrying from Henamarth to plan each round carefully.

Posted in Fun, Screenshot, Strategy | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Contest: Become a Ring-maker!

celebrimbor

I am pleased to announce that The Hall of Beorn and Tales from the Cards are holding a joint contest! Finding myself in possession of an extra copy of Celebrimbor’s Secret, I too wanted to reward one intrepid reader. After consulting with my fellow Grey Company member Ian, we have decided to work together to give away two copies of this amazing pack. Ian posted the rules of the contest over at Tales from the Cards, and now everyone has two chances to win.

In addition to submitting your custom Ring cards to Ian, please send them to HallOfBeorn@gmail.com as well. We will each decide which custom card we like best, and make the announcements here and at Tales from the Cards. Ian and I will coordinate so that the same entry does not win twice. Good luck to all, and I look forward to some amazing rings of power!

bear print

Posted in Community, Contest, Custom Cards, The Grey Company | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Bear Market: Aggro Archetype

angry-bear

Idraen represents an interesting shift in the game, on several levels. At 11 threat cost, she is a total outlier within the Spirit sphere. Her excellent and well-rounded stats, built-in readying ability, and supporting attachments all have helped to create a new and powerful archetype. But this archetype is not one seen before in the Spirit sphere: Aggro. As their name implies, Aggro decks are about straight-forward aggression. A Hobbit deck might hide from enemies until it is ready to spring a trap. A Dwarf deck will steadily build up an army to overwhelm the enemy with [numerical superiority]. Even tempo decks like the recent Rohan/Gondor are not looking to defend an enemy directly, but instead use tricks and the timely sacrifice of lesser troops to accomplish their goal.

Aggro decks, in contrast, take the direct approach by loading up powerful heroes with powerful attachments, supporting them with focused events and relying on them to achieve victory. This is not to say that Aggro decks cannot include powerful allies – and many of them do – but heroes are always the focus of an Aggro deck. The reasoning for this is simple, if you are going to include high-threat heroes in a deck, it makes sense to focus much of your deck’s strategy around them, otherwise it makes little sense to include them in the first place. The following is a list of five cards that are well-suited to Aggro decks, with a discussion of how they fit into these archetypes.

Cram

CramReadying effects are important for any type of deck. Control decks will often utilize Unexpected Courage to have repeatable readying. However there is a drawback to even this seemingly “must-include” card. Two Spirit resources can be expensive, especially for decks that might only have 1 Spirit hero and will want to save those precious resources for cancellation effects. An Aggro deck wants to be effective from the very first round of the game. Having to wait two rounds for that all-important readying effect can be dangerous for a deck with higher starting threat.

Such decks need an immediate action advantage. Whether it is through heroes like Aragorn (Core), Prince Imrahil, Idraen, and Boromir (Tactics), or attachments like Cram, Lembas, Rohan Warhorse and Miruvor, an aggressive deck takes particular benefit from readying effects. This is one of the major advantages of having high-threat heroes. When these powerful characters can act multiple times in a round, it allows your deck to handle the larger enemies that will inevitably be engaging earlier than they would against more conservative strategies.

Aragorn (Core)There is a certain thrill in the risk-taking involved with these decks. By including high-threat heroes, you will face tougher enemies more quickly. Because you are closer to 50 threat and game loss, you can’t afford to take our time and wait until we have the perfect combination setup. Aggressive decks are less about combinations, per se, and more about taking advantage of powerful characters in ways that can be consistently repeated. With readying effects, most heroes will be committing to the quest, because you are secure in the knowledge that they can be used later in the round if necessary. This is what makes Cram so useful – it acts like an insurance policy in case a hero is unexpectedly exhausted and you find yourself vulnerable.

One last consideration when it comes to the value of Cram is the sphere that it belongs two. With Miruvor and Unexpected Courage, Spirit has some of the best readying effects in the game. However, Aggro decks are not always going to want to include Spirit. This is especially true in multiplayer, where other players can use Spirit and fulfill the support role. Just like a giant bear, Aggro decks just want to kill things and leave the sneaking, and talking, and even thinking, to the other archetypes.

Quick Strike

Quick StrikeIn the last year, the game has taken a decidedly aggressive turn. This is a nice change of pace from the control decks that dominated The Dwarrowdelf, due largely to the gravity well of Spirit Glorfindel. The Spirit Noldor was, and still is, such a powerful card that his influence has rippled throughout the metagame. I look forward to a low-threat (but not too low) Spirit alternative to Glorfindel to bring some variety back to deck-building. With hero Gandalf measuring in at an almost reckless 14 threat, Glorfindel looks to retain his popularity for some time to come.

Still, with some amazing hero options in other spheres, it is no longer entirely necessary for decks with two champions to automatically include Glorfindel as their third hero. This is a good thing, and it opens up some interesting avenues in Tactics in particular. Now that finally have a decent number of weapons, it is much easier to turn a Tactics hero into a force on the attack. Even non-Weapon attachments like Support of the Eagles, Gondorian Fire and Firefoot can help to transform the right hero into an enemy-killing machine.

The problem with spending multiple cards to transform a hero into an offensive weapon, is that you can still be vulnerable to enemy attacks. Some decks will solve this by also including weapons and defensive effects like healing or shadow cancellation. While dedicating most of a deck to weapon and armor can be effective, especially with support from other players, it is not always the optimal design from a deck. In other cases, it makes more sense to use offense as your greatest defense.

Rohan-Warhorse-VoI-smallFor example, in one build of my Rohan/Gondor “Leaves Play” deck I have completely replaced Feint for Quick Strike. Feint is such a Tactics staple that this decision might at first seem foolish. To be fair, for some scenarios I will sub Feint back in, but for the most part I have preferred Quick Strike to Feint. The reason is simple: with Eomer loaded up and ready to kill, it better to spend 1 card and 1 Tactics resource to kill an enemy that 1 card and 1 resource to avoid that enemy for a single attack. Killing an enemy not only means that you avoid that enemy’s attack this round, but every other attack it would have made in subsequent rounds.

Because my Rohan/Gondor deck starts at 30 threat, I can often find myself with enemies left over at the end of the round, so it is not a foregone conclusion that I will kill every engaged enemy. However, by using Quick Strike in combination with Rohan Warhorse, Eomer gets to attack multiple times. Quick Strike I will use to take out the most troublesome enemy that I can handle. Quick Strike provides all sorts of options for this deck. If there is an enemy that I can damage but not quite kill, I can use Quick Strike to kill a weaker enemy, then exhaust Firefoot to trample some extra damage onto the stronger enemy. With the Warhorse readying Eomer for a later attack against the stronger foe, it is often possible to kill two birds with a single Quick Strike (and the support cards).

There is one last advantage of Quick Strike over Feint, and it is an unexpected one. Because Feint prevents an enemy from attacking, it can prevent a chump blocker from defending and dying. This means that Eomer and Prince Imrahil do not have a trigger for their responses, and the whole combat strategy for the round can be thrown off track. As strange as it seems, for the Rohan/Gondor archetype you often want enemies attacking, because it fuels all of your responses. In this situations, a card like Quick Strike is preferable to Feint, as it provided a greater versatility.

Power of Orthanc

Power-of-Orthanc-smallAs player decks become more powerful, and more consistent, the designers are faced with a conundrum. In order for encounter decks to be interesting and provide the right level of challenge against powerful player decks, scenarios have to utilize more lasting effects to hinder the players’ efforts. By lasting effects, I am referring to encounter card effects which are not tied specifically to an enemy or location.

High threat locations can be explored (often in the staging area thanks to Asfaloth and Northern Tracker). Powerful enemies can be killed (and often avoided entirely with Feint, Feigned Voices and Quick Strike). On the other hand, treacheries that become Condition attachments can burden players for the entire game – if you’re unfortunate enough to reveal one during setup. While these cards are frustrating, they are necessary to provide the risk of a player losing the full use of one of their heroes. And this is often what condition attachments do: diminish a hero’s ability to impact the game, often in dramatic ways.

In-Need-of-Rest-smallThe Voice of Isengard and Ring-maker cycle have continued this trend. Now Condition attachments can even target the current quest card. In Need of Rest is a particularly nasty treachery from the Weary Travelers encounter set in The Voice of Isengard. Because it is a supplemental encounter set for that deluxe expansion, it shows up in other scenarios in the cycle, and may even show up in one of the last two adventure packs. With the time keyword on almost every quest card in this cycle, this card can be more than dangerous – it can be outright deadly.

This is where Power of Orthanc comes to the rescue. In a solo game, paying 2 threat to remove a crippling condition from a hero is almost always going to be worth the cost. Still, there could be times that a solo player with access to Lore would prefer to use Miner of the Iron Hills – it does after all provide an ally with additional utility. This is especially true in dedicated Dwarf decks, where anything with the Dwarf trait is a welcome addition.

It is in multiplayer where Power of Orthanc really shines. Many recent scenarios have a sizeable percentage of cards with Surge. In a three or four player game, this can easily mean 6 or more cards revealed in a round. It is not uncommon in these cases for there to be two Condition attachments in play, draining strength from multiple heroes or otherwise wrecking havoc. In these situations, Power of Orthanc is salvation for Aggro decks.

By their very design, Aggro decks are susceptible to Condition attachments. Because they feature powerful heroes with game-changing abilities, they are more reliant on having each of their heroes act each round. This is in stark contrast to other archetypes like Dwarves or Outlands, where the heroes serve to support and bolster an army of allies. For example: a condition that punishes you for exhausting Dain Ironfoot will have negligible impact on a dwarf deck. On the other hand, being punished every time you exhaust Tactics Boromir is an absolutely brutal limitation that needs to be dealt with immediately.

Thror’s Map

Thror's MapDesigning for a living card game is not an easy task. As the card pool expands, players have more tools with which to break the game. The intent of a card is one thing, that way that the card is used by players in the actual game ends up being something else entirely. When the distance between these two points is too great, errata can be necessary to reign in a card. Such was the case with Thror’s Map.

In it’s original form, it completely broke the way that players interacted with locations. This was particularly egregious in solo play, where fewer cards are revealed each round, and automatically traveling to a new location each round is simply too powerful. While the intent was certainly to allow players to avoid the increasingly onerous travel costs on many locations, the idea was not for a repeatable form of Strider’s Path. The errata to this card was warranted, but as with many errata, it left Thror’s Map with a stigma.

Hidden-Alleyway-smallWhile the revised version of Thror’s Key is certainly not an auto-include, this is a good thing. Too many “auto-includes” leads to a stale metagame and a lack of variety in decks. Though it might not be as powerful, this card can still be a staple in Aggro decks. The reason this card is particularly important for Aggro decks has to do with something that I call “traveling strategy”. Ideally, an Aggro deck will be engaging any enemies in the staging area, once they are prepared to defeat them. Engaging enemies not only removes their threat from the staging area, but it protects other players, whose decks might be less capable of dealing with certain attackers. For much the same reason, an Aggro deck prefers to travel to a location, whenever there is one available in the staging area. This removes threat from the staging and helps to prevent location lock later in the game. This aggressive “engage everything” strategy works well in combat-oriented Aggro decks, but the corollary “travel everywhere” strategy is much harder to accomplish. Travel effects are increasingly demanding and can be especially taxing for an Aggro deck when they involve exhausting or otherwise hindering heroes.

This is where Thror’s Map shows that it is still a very relevant card. It is no small thing for the Aggro deck to be free to travel to whatever location makes the most sense, regardless of the cost. In newer scenarios, many locations have game-changing passive effects, sometimes even providing a benefit to the players. As a drawback, these locations will often have a dreadful travel cost, something that Thror’s Map completely circumvents. Granted, many unique locations have “Immune to Player Card Effects” so this attachment won’t allow you to avoid the marquee locations in a scenario, but this would remove much of the challenge and spoil most of the fun.

Gandalf (TRD)

Gandalf-TRD-smallAs long as the game has existed, players have wondered if there would ever be a Gandalf hero card. While The Road Darkens finally put that debate to rest, it gave rise to a whole host of new questions. What does a Gandalf deck look like? How do you build a consistently successful deck around a hero with 14 starting threat – other than the obvious crutch of using Glorfindel? What kinds of strategies does a Gandalf-deck give rise to?

Time, and a few more supplemental player cards, will ultimately answer these questions. Still, even this early it is safe to make a few observations about the game’s first (but hopefully not only) Istari hero. Gandalf is probably the perfect hero for an Aggro strategy. With 14 starting threat, the idea of sneaking around unnoticed by the Dark Lord is more than a bit absurd. Gandalf is the most powerful hero in the game, so it is only fitting to feature him in decks designed around utilizing the power of your heroes.

Even if you did pair him with two lesser heroes, to provide a more manageable starting threat, he still begs to be loaded up with gear. His pipe and staff are both staples in any deck featuring Gandalf as a hero. With the recent spoiler of Shadowfax, we know that more support is on the way for everyone’s favorite Istari. An attachment-heavy strategy makes all kinds of sense with Gandalf, particularly with readying effects, as you want to take advantage of his impressive stats.

Expert Treasure-HunterWith Gandalf’s guidance, always knowing what is on the top of your deck also lends itself to interesting strategies. Whether it is resource generation through Zigil Miner and Hidden Cache, or insane amounts of card drawing through Expert Treasure-Hunter, Gandalf unlocks the tremendous potential of many existing cards. Flame of Anor provides yet another powerful tool for the wizard, and brings the advantage of also being a readying effect. Even absent these specific combinations, knowing the next card on your deck is great with card drawing effects because it lets you know whether you need the next card in your hand now – or you can wait until later.

There is one last way in which Gandalf is particularly well-suited to Aggro decks. Because Aggro decks want to get setup quickly, they will often feature a good number of 0 and 1-cost cards. As discussed above in relation to Cram, being able to play cards for free is very important for a deck that does not have the luxury of a few rounds to setup. Aggro decks can expect to be engaged immediately, and thus need to be prepared. A deck that utilized Gandalf along with a large number of inexpensive cards, particularly events, can make use of his ability multiple times in a round. Not only is this a form of card drawing effect, but it also greatly mitigates Gandalf’s lack of a true printed resource icon.

Posted in Card Lists, Metagame, Strategy | Tagged , , , , , , | 18 Comments

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!

HamaTheodredEowyn

Heroes
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 , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 13 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.

Posted in Community, Contest, Fun, Recipe, Theme | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment