Withstanding the Onslaught at Helm’s Deep

The upcoming episode of The Grey Company covers Helm’s Deep, the first of the iconic battles of the War of the Ring. It’s only fitting then, that we tackled this epic quest tonight at our Austin LotR group. I was playing a modified version of Seastan’s 100 Willpower deck (top right), while Stephen brought his trusty Dwarven Digging deck (bottom left), and Terence played a Gimli, Legolas and Galadriel deck which fit the theme of the quest perfectly (bottom right). After an intense fight, and with two of us dangerously near 50 threat, we emerged victorious. Close and hard-fought victories are often the most gratifying.

Both Stephen and I were fortunate enough to mill Poisoned Counsels off the top of our decks using A Very Good Tale. This was a critical stoke of luck as discarding your entire hand can be fatal – especially if this card shows up in the first few rounds. With the absurd level of card draw in my deck, it was a real danger that I had to bear this burden. Losing a copy or two of Ethir Swordsmen would have crippled my deck. I wanted to run a thematic Rohan deck that I built for Helm’s Deep, but it didn’t have the questing prowess necessary.

Thror's MapAs it was, we needed every bit of willpower that we could muster to survive the siege. None of our decks featured location control, per se, just Thror’s Map. Ultimately, questing past the locations in the staging area was a superior strategy to using cards like Norther Tracker of Asfaloth. Most of the locations in this quest have terrible forced effects that trigger when they are explored.

Additionally, many shadow effects interact with the active location so there are times when the strategic choice was actually not to travel at all. One of the interesting tricks of this quest is that the climatic battle in the fifth stage is made easier if you avoid having an active location when you place the 8th resource token on The Defense of Helm’s Deep and the heroes charge into the climatic final stage.

This quest is one of my favorites, among an excellent crop of saga scenarios. The inversion of the core quest mechanics is illustrates just how flexible this game is. It was great fun to survive the onslaught with friends. We kept the history alive – the Horunburg has never fallen while defended. Keep an eye out for the upcoming episode of The Grey Company, we have a great conversation about this memorable moment in the story of the Lord of the Rings.

Posted in Aggro, Austin LotR Group, Community, Deck Lists, Fun, Live Play, Lore, Multiplayer, Photo, Theme | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Escape from the Dungeons of Cirith Gurat

After what seemed like an eternity, The Dungeons of Cirith Gurat was released today! We had a chance to play a four player game at our local Austin Lord of the Rings group. After an initial attempt that went quickly awry, we were able to safely make our escape from the ghastly dungeons. We even welcomed a new player who drove all the way from San Antonio! For those who haven’t played it yet I don’t want to spoil too much, but we all really enjoyed the new capture mechanic which this quest uses to represent the challenge of freeing prisoners from a dungeon.

This was my first chance to try out post-errata Caldara, and a first round Emery and Sword-thain were able to bring a bevy of powerful allies and prove that she is still a powerhouse. Still, the quest has some serious ally hate, so the early game had a tension which would have been lacking if I could had been able to repeatedly use Caldara’s ability. Some players may feel that the once per game limit to her ability was too strict – and one test is perhaps too early for any definitive conclusions – but I suspect that the errata will hit the sweet spot.

We have our Fellowship event here in Austin on Saturday, and I’m excited to rethink my Aggro Caldara deck and see if I can make it work – I know that Thror’s Key will be critical. I admit I was skeptical of the hero errata at first, and I am still a bit leery of the change to Háma, but I think that the change to Caladara is appropriate. Outside of some weird Gondor builds, there is now essentially zero reason to bring her back. This frees up a ton of space which was used for hero recursion. Caldara decks will now be more interesting to design and should exhibit more variety. This was precisely Caleb’s stated goal with the errata, so I would say that he hit the mark there.

We know that there will be a “big announcement” from FFG about the game on Saturday, and we all wait with bated breathe to see what the future holds. Check back here soon for my reaction to the news and in the mean time be safe and have happy travels!

Posted in Aggro, Alternate-Art, Austin LotR Group, Community, Discussion, Fellowship Event, Metagame, Mono-Sphere, Multiplayer, Opinion, Photo, Strategy | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Poll Results: Your preferred play style

© Valtteri Mulkahainen/Solent News & Photo Agency

The fall is a busy time for a bear, what with preparing for hibernation and all, but I’ve finally had a chance to poke my head up and do some housecleaning around the hall. Our last poll asked players about their preferred play styles and the results where enlightening. Let’s dive into the numbers, and I can mumble my ursine mumblings afterwards.

Play Style Votes Percentage
Thematic 157 44%
Control 58 16%
Combo 33 9%
Whatever Seastan is playing 26 7%
Aggro 25 7%
Secrecy 23 6%
Tempo 18 5%
Jank 10 3%
RingsDB home page 6 1%
Draft 1 .2%
Winning 1 .2%

When I think about my own answers to this poll, it’s a fascinating reflection of changes in the metagame as well as my own evolving preferences in play style. Whether it was Secrecy, or just low threat decks featuring Spirit Glorfindel hero, the Dwarrowdelf cycle provided a multitude of tools for control play styles. In particular, low cost cards like Daeron’s Runes and Elrond’s Counsel made it much easier for players to slow the game down and control their engagement and quest progress. Location control, another fundament pillar of control style decks, practically came into being with the release of Asfaloth (with apologies to Northern Tracker).

Among other seismic shifts, the Heirs of Númenor and its accompanying cycle were a boon to the Tactics sphere. Encounter cards ushered in an upswing in the Aggro play style, with iconic quests like Into Ithilien forcing players to play at a quicker pace and more aggressive engagement and combat strategies. The Voice of Isengard brought with it powerful effects to punish ally swarms and players who hoarded too many cards in their hands. In particular, heroes like Celeborn and Éomer paired with quests like The Dunland Trap to support a “tempo” play style where allies are continually cycled in an out of play. This provided an interesting contrast to the traditional ally-swarm decks that dated back to Dain Ironfoot.

It’s gratifying to find the hidden gems among player cards, abilities which form surprising combinations or solve previously intractable problems. Of all the play styles, combo can be the most troublesome when it comes to game balance. Still, when it hits that sweet spot of being different enough without making the game too easy, it is one of my favorite styles. Using Círdan and Emery to super-charge my (pre-errata) Caldara deck was a particular delight. Some combo decks, like Rouxxor’s ingenious first turn win are fascinating as a thought experiment and design challenge, but not something I would ever play.

A benefit of a maturing card pool is the diversity of these and other play styles and deck archetypes. As with any game, once you become familiar with the mechanics and core strategies, it’s nice to spice thing up. If I grow tired of crushing orcs under the boots of two dozen dwarves, I can try my paw at a tricksy Silvan deck, where I only ever have three or four allies in play at a time, but I make maximal use of timing and player action windows. Likewise, I’ve found that a combo deck or “jank”-style that isn’t quite top tier can be a blast to take against one of the less difficult quests. The achievement of winning a quest with a sub-optimal but enjoyable deck can be as sweet for me as hyper-optimizing against the hardest saga quests. It also keeps the game fresh, which is important after all of these years.

Thanks to all who participated in this poll, and feel free to expound upon your preferred play styles in the comments below. The latest poll asks a question which is near and dear to many hearts: where should the game go now? We know that Caleb will make a “big announcement” about the game in a few weeks, and I’ve got my own fuzzy thoughts, but I’m curious to hear what other players want that announcement to be. Have happy and safe holidays, everyone!

Posted in Community, Discussion, Game Variant, New Players, Poll Results | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Wandering the Wilderlands

After a period of quiescence, we find a sudden flurry of activity leading into the holidays and the much-anticipated completion of the Haradrim cycle. I had planned on writing an article about the new FAQ 1.9 which Caleb announced on Wednesday, but the Warden of Arnor already beat me to it with his own excellent summary of the latest errata. Seeing quality articles like this released with such alacrity after a new FAQ is a testament to how thriving our community remains. All the more so as we are smack dab in the middle of what could rightly be described a lull in new content.

While the subject of this article is not directly about the FAQ and errata, I encourage everyone to read the Warden’s article first as it is germane to the topic at hand. It is only natural that the dominant archetypes have changed and diverged greatly since the game’s inception. Some strategies which worked in the early years of the game have become less tenable as quests evolved. Specifically, encounter decks have become smaller and more focused, allowing the developers to craft strategies, or at least general foils for the most common brands of player decks. Likewise, new player cards have combined with the existing pool to form potent engines which could not have been conceived of, much less executed in the early years.

Some player cards are so powerful that they manifest as de facto archetypes, even in the cases where there might not be specific combinations with earlier cards.Any discussion of the metagame, errata and general strategy must inevitably concern itself with power, as that is the currency by which cards are judged. Astute readers will notice, for example, that cards have never received errata for being too weak. In that regard, power can be said to take two distinct forms: general and specific.

General power can be found in heroes like Leadership Denethor, whose early game resource boost works in a whole host of deck styles, and is in no way limited to a narrow range of viable archetypes. A reciprocal to the Steward’s resource acceleration is the potent card draw afforded by hero Erestor. While the end of round discard gives him a natural fit among Noldor decks, the sheer magnitude of his card advantage allows Erestor to slot easily into a multitude of decks. Any deck which provides enough resource acceleration or cost reduction to play three or more cards per round is going to find Erestor a welcome addition.

Specific power stands in rather stark contrast to these sorts of tool-box heroes. This is the realm of the combination decks. Prince Imrahil ally is a perfect example of this. A vast majority of decks are designed with a very conservative strategy when it comes to keeping their heroes alive and in play. With the exception of some aggro decks built around hero Beorn, it is very rare to see non-Caldara decks with any explicit and intentional strategy around hero sacrifice. In this context, ally Prince Imrahil has an ability which does essentially nothing for the vast majority of decks.

Pedants might argue that he is worth including even-so, as his ability gives you a sort of emergency backup plan in the unfortunate case of losing a hero. While this is of course true, Spirit now has so many powerful allies (Northern Tracker, Sulien, Jubayr, Glorfindel, Elfhelm) and outside of some theoretical Gondor builds Imrahil is only really fixing the resource lost from a defeated hero. Because he does nothing until you lose a hero and those other spirit allis have consistently useful abilities, including more than a single copy of ally Imrahil in most decks represents a very real opportunity cost.

On the other hand, one could argue that ally Imrahil in a (pre-errata) Caldara deck is one of the more powerful allies in the game. With the ruling that Imrahil becomes a hero immediately after the cost is paid on Caldara (but before the effect is resolved) he becomes tremendously powerful in that specific situation. The fact that Caleb mentions Imrahil (and Sword-thain) in the discussion of Caldara’s errata underscores how specific power can be sufficient to break the game. This can even be true when those cards would otherwise not be very powerful at all as evidenced by the fact that Prince Imrahil and Sword-thain see limited use outside of Caldara decks. To put it another way: ally Prince Imrahil is not moving the needle on the power-level of any decks which do not also feature Caldara.

Through this lens, it is easy to divide the errata from FAQ 1.9 into two categories, one to address generally overpowered cards like Boromir and Háma, and another for cards which are only over-powered in specific situations like Out of the Wild and Caldara. The Warden of Arnor has already done yeomen work to break down the individual changes in the above referenced article. Instead, I want to look at the changes from the latest FAQ as the pertain to the speed of the modern game.

I wrote a key concepts article about game pace, but that was years ago and there has been a torrent of water under the proverbial bridge since that time. At the risk of over-generalizing, the pace of the game has increased rapidly in the years after that article was written. Heroes like Arwen, Leadership Denethor and Erestor are the vanguard of this change, along with player cards like Heed the Dream which smooth out the early game. New forms of resource acceleration and cost reduction pair with a multitude of new powerful unique allies (saga allies, Haradrim, etc.) to allow even non-swarm decks to pack a punch in the early game.

As with all metagame shifts the scenarios have been evolving as well. Recent quests even have titles which reflect their break-neck pace: Escape from Umbar, Desert CrossingRace Across Harad. Among other more specific changes to the metagame, I supect the errata from FAQ 1.9 will only further push the pace of the game. Caldara is only bringing allies out of your discard pile once per game, if you aren’t seeding your discard pile quickly and rushing to get Prince Imrahil and Sword-thain into play as quickly as possible, she likely is not worth the deck space and effort.

Likewise, Háma is now only recurring three tactics events over the course of a game. It makes much more sense for this to be a few extra early-game uses of Foe-hammer to give Tactics that critical card draw. Gone are the days of toolbox-style Háma with one or two copies of many different kinds of events. It’s not to say that you cannot make such a deck with post-errata Háma, just that such a deck becomes much more dependent on getting maximal use of his ability in the early game. Otherwise, with heroes like Legolas available he seems like a waste of a hero slot for those stats.

Ultimately, I see the change to speed up the pace of the game as a good thing. One of the most frustrating things about multiplayer (a mode which I play quite frequently these days) is the way a three or four player game can grind to a halt. Faster games, or at least ones where the outcome is decided more often in the first four rounds of the quest, allow for more replay. If nothing else, it feels less onerous to reset and try again after a second round blowout loss than it does after a heartbreaking surge-fest 45 minutes into a marathon quest.

Anyone who listens to my rants on the Grey Company will know that I’ve long advocated per-round, per-phase and per-game limits (as appropriate) on player card effects. It’s been proven time and again that a lack of these kinds of limits ultimately leads to broken card interactions – even in seemingly innocuous cards like Protector of Lórien. So while I may disagree with the specifics errata on one card or another, I absolutely agree with the principal of adding limits to player cards to provide a hard cap on their power level. I also hope that all future player card effects are designed with explicit limits to forestall many of these sorts of unintended interactions going forward.

Limits are all well and good, and I think that the latest FAQ largely succeeds in Caleb’s stated goal of “making the game more fun”. Specifically intriguing is the case of two of the most dramatic changes. I now look forward to building and playing new Caldara and Boromir decks to see just how much the errata has affected them. Still, not all is “Rosie” in terms of the complexion and power-level of more recent player cards.

In particular, player side quests remain a peculiar anomaly in the overall trend toward a faster game. One of the interesting trends in recent quests is the use of progress on the main quest as a kind of resource. Not only is this mechanic found throughout the Haradrim cycle but also in the latest Fellowship quest, Attack on Dol Guldur. As a design conceit, I quite like this mechanic. A once familiar constraint becoming suddenly new is one of the best things about an evolving game. In the past, most quests had a purely progress-based threshold and other than the odd treachery, encounter and quest effects rarely removed progress from the main quest.

All that is changed now. The ability to control exactly how much quest progress is made, as well as potentially adding progress during non-quest phases, both become even more valuable then they already were. The designers have taken pace, which had always been a bit more subtle, and made it a much more explicit part of the quest mechanics. Unfortunately, all of these nuanced interactions between player cards and the main quest are largely broken by player side quests.

When the player side quests where first released in the Angmar Awakened cycle, the quests were specifically designed to account for side quests. Not only did half the quests involve an objective ally which directly interacted with the number of quest cards in play, but scenarios featured encounter card side quests. In one form or another scenarios in the cycle were “side quest aware” and the potential for players taking side-treks away from the main quest was acknowledged.

With the Haradrim cycle, player side quests have come back to the fore. In the form of Thurindir, player side quests even – to some extent – now have their own archetype. I say “to some extent” because this strategy represents one of the more precarious archetypes in recent times. Having experimented with the concept a fair bit, I can say first hand that these decks are an awkward fit for many recent quests. When the entire crux of a quest is to spend progress from the main quest for benefit, or to avoid harm, it behooves you to play to focus on this. Choosing to use deck space, card draw, and in some cases resources, to play a card which specifically prevents progress from being placed on the main quest is highly counterproductive.

Unless you are reaping the full benefit of a player side quest within the first four rounds, they are likely not worth the opportunity cost. Bold statements risk being proved false by exceptions, but I feel confident making such a strong claim about recent quests because of how fast the game has become and how critical progress on the main quest is in so many scenarios. Sure, Thurindir solves the problem of drawing the most critical player side quest, but this doesn’t matter when the scenario is actively punishing you for choosing that side quest on the first round. If you end up having to wait several rounds before you can even safely make your side quest active then it highlights just how ill-fitting side quests are in the current metagame.

Lest readers misinterpret, all is not gloom and doom with this trend. The sped up pace makes the game more exciting and allows for quicker turn-around time when you get a bad draw or your deck is not a good fit for the quest. The latest errata has made several powerful cards and archetypes more appealing, particularly for veteran players who studiously avoided what the consensus perceived as “broken” decks. New players and players working there way through the card pool in a progress style will also benefit from these changes as they need not become reliant on overly powerful cards only to have those cards taken away later. A hero cannot be “nerfed” if you have yet to use that hero in a deck.

We have a big announcement confirmed for December, but all indications are that there will be at least one more cycle. There is still time to adjust some of these issues with the metagame. Overall, many of the player cards in this cycle have been filler or at best support for existing archetypes. Harad is probably the one solid archetype to emerge from recent releases. This dearth of truly notable player cards makes the strategic mismatch of player side quests all the more frustrating.

Like Secrecy and Valour before, there is no reason why player side quests have to be the totality of a deck. Still, with the cost and power of side quests, it takes effort to make them work. If player side quests continue to be a part of the card pool going forward, it would be nice if new scenarios in some way facilitated or at least allowed for these cards. Otherwise, they become a bit of a dead-spot in the current metagame.

With the holidays fast approaching, I wish you all safe travels and happy adventures!

Posted in Aggro, Combo, Community, Deck Building, Discussion, Fellowship Event, Key Concepts, Multiplayer, Opinion, Strategy, Tempo | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Alternate Art by Potawo

With the overwhelmingly positive feedback I’ve received on my alternate art cards, it’s exciting to see that I’m not the only one who enjoys different artistic interpretations. Which makes it all the more pleasant to discover that a reader has been hard at work lately on their own art interpretations of some of the game’s most iconic cards. Potawo (aka Fabrice) has used Photoshop to create some truly stunning alternate art cards and I wanted to take an opportunity today to share them. I find that new piece of art can bring an old card to life in ways which continue to surprise me.

One aspect of his style which is particularly dynamic is the way Potawo has used overlap to create a three dimensional look to many of his designs. The art really “pops” out from the background and more action-based pieces take on an epic feel. One final detail that I wanted to point out is the way he has opted to omit chrome (the decorative edge designs and other non-essential design elements) from some of the cards to give them a cleaner look – which further emphasizes the art. You can view the full gallery of Potawo’s alternate art cards and I have included some of my favorite pieces below:

To accommodate space and page load time, I’ve included smaller images here. For any who enjoy these beautiful pieces, I strongly encourage you to go check out the originals. He’s included bleed margins, so they are ready for printing. I encourage everyone to go an experience something beautiful which brings joy to your life.

Posted in Alternate-Art, Art, Community, Fun | Tagged , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Game: Heavy Metal Thunder Mouse

My friend and fellow member of the Grey Company, Derek Kamal has just announced the Kickstarter for his new game: Heavy Metal Thunder Mouse. Anyone who enjoys roleplaying games, mice, motorcycles, or mice on motorcycles should give his wonderful game a look!

Heavy Metal Thunder Mouse (HMTM) is a tabletop roleplaying game where you and your friends make your mice, found your club, and hit the streets. These are mice with the gusto to build their own motorcycles and set off into an intimidating world where they are outsized, but never outclassed.

HMTM uses the rules of Fate to tell stories about the drama of city mice and their motorcycle clubs. It’s an RPG that works best with 2-5 players (plus the GM). It’s fit for episodic play (sessions last about 3-4 hours) and epic campaigns!

Your stories are set in Thunder City, USA, a fictitious city of the real world. For small creatures existing in a place which doesn’t belong to them, these stories will be filled with the drama of their lives, and the trouble, both inside and outside, of a biker gang. Will your gang be Robin Hood-like doers of good, springing cheese from unwatched refrigerators and delivering it to needy widows, or will you be thugs and thieves exploiting the weak? Your mouse, your bike, and your gang all belong to you and the stories you tell at your table.

Posted in Books, Community, Fun, Roleplaying Games, The Grey Company | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Deck: The Storm Comes

Thurindir is the first to notice that something is amiss. Another storm is gathering in the East. As if things were not bad enough already! Our ragtag group has weathered one fearsome storm and we barely escaping unscathed. It seems a cruel fate, to be barraged with a second such onslaught with scant days to catch our breath. The Dúnadan and I were sent by the Grey Company to seek allies in the fight against the Dark Lord in the wild lands of the South. Many in Gondor still think this desperate errand a folly, but eyes in the White Tower have oft look inward, especially of late. Wisdom and hope bleed out of the line of Men on the battlefields of the Rammas and Osgiliath, Ithilien and the Outlands. A sense of hopelessness pervades the world of men, and the aim of our quest is as much to bring hope as to affect strategic advantage.

Fortunately, not all have turned a blind eye to potential allies – anything to turn the tide in this war against tyranny and oppression. Elrond, ever one to see a future shrouded in uncertainty, has sent Arwen and the mighty Glorfindel of his house. We are happy to be joined by the Eldar, who bring a wisdom and stalwart courage that is welcome in these dire times. Together our band of Elves and Men has met with and befriended Kahliel, the proud leader of a Haradrim tribe. Marching North, our goal is to join the Free People of Middle-earth, even now locked in an existential struggle with evil.

The Noldor are no strangers to the plight of refugees, and Arwen and Glorfindel can only nod wistfully to see the Haradrim diaspora. It’s a slow trickle at first: a clutch of refugees wanders into camp just as my watch ends. Drenched with water and carrying their entire lives in colorful sacks on their backs, the newcomers refuse to make eye contact. As the storm intensifies, so too the stream of the dispossessed.

A band of Kahliel’s tribesmen, out to reconnoiter the surrounding foothills for a safe path North, return early in the morning. Bloodied, their clothing in tatters, they apparently fell victim to ambush by hungry wargs. The inclement weather has manifested a ferocity in the wolves of the South unknown to us from Eriador. The faces of the scouts barely belie their losses. Kahliel names the fallen, sotto voce, a solemn elegy for those brave souls.

The gravity of the scouts sacrifice is not lost on any of us, those who would risk and ultimately spend their lives to keep others safe must never be forgotten. At the noon meal, Arwen sings a haunting lay in the Sindar tongue and the light of her people is upon her. Though I speak little of that blessed language, I understand its meaning plainly enough. The sun breaks through a gap in gray clouds for one hopeful moment. As we sit and eat, clumped in groups for protection and warmth among the foothills, all look to the sun as to our hope and our hearts are lifted. The moment for peace and thought is fleeting. Arwen’s song ends as the sun hides anew. Camp is broken in haste and all in the company can sense the coming of the storm. The air is filled with an anxious intensity, a buzz which sets the nerves on edge.

In defiance of the earth and wind itself, Kahliel dons his headdress and calls to his people. Some in the North may think him a savage, and no doubt dismiss our quest of alliance as a fool’s errand. Their arrogance is the true foolishness, and seeing Kahliel rally his tribesman I can’t help but recall stories of the Númenórean kings of old. Their captain’s wisdom is plain, though some would be blinded of this by ignorance and suspicion. Though the afternoon march is grueling, we have formed a bond through hardship and the fight for survival. This shared experience provides us reserves of willpower, redoubling our efforts to outpace the storm. At sundown, the storm comes.

Gales gust like the wingbeats of a dragon, pulling our cloaks away from our faces and dragging the unwary off their feet. Rain pelts at an aggressive diagonal, seemingly coming from everywhere. It starts as a distinct ping, ping, ping sound on our armor but quickly intensifies. Soon, it is falling like the hoofbeats of the Rohirrim – a chaotic cacophony of noise without coherence. The storm assaults our senses and staggers even the most determined of steps. All forward progress is ground to a halt by volley upon volley from a numberless and unseen foe. We are helpless before the onslaught.

Still our group soldiers on, reduced to crawling on hands and knees in search of shelter and safety from the untamed and untamable beast of nature’s wrath. The bravery that I see this night will remain etched in my memory forever. Jubayr selflessly steps in front of a clutch of refugees, deflecting a tree branch which has torn lose and would have decapitated lesser men. Firyal, despite the worsening conditions, continues to serve in the vanguard and is the first to sight the forest fire running amok just over the ridge-line. His quick wits save us all from certain disaster as he hastily discovers an alternate route. When the wargs come again, heedless in their half-starved desperation, it is Yazan who saves us. His first shot pierces the eye of the leader and gives the others pause. His second shot follows immediately, pinning another warg to the ground by its throat and scattering the remnants of the pack.

If only those arrogant “nobles” in their White Tower could see us struggle, could appreciate what it means to rally around a common cause. Ours is not a battle of petty nationalism. Ours is not an obsession over the differences in language, culture, or the color of our skin. We join each other in the oldest and most basic struggle of all – the struggle of life against death. We fight and die for each other, and many acts of selfless sacrifice will sadly go uncounted and unnoticed.

In the end, the storm takes its toll. Some have drowned in the deluge, others burned in the freak fires caused by lightening strikes. More are lost in the wilderness, scattered while confusion overcame us. In the coming days, we slowly accept that they will never be seen again. All wear our wounds without shame.

Kahliel weeps openly at the sight of the devastation. Far from disdain, we only respect him more for his honesty and the knowledge that he has sacrificed alongside each of us. For many the trauma of this night will take years to overcome, but those who have survived are forged with a certainty that this alliance is vital. Having passed through the ravages of the storm, we do not fear the armies of the enemy. Any force of the dark lord that would oppose us should be wary; we of this brave band have defeated fiercer foes.

I did not think that I would be writing about storms again so soon after Harvey. Sadly, it appears that the storm season is only intensifying. One record-breaking storm followed by another. For any who are free to give, I encourage you to do so. You can find the deck for this story at RingsDB. Stay safe, everyone!

Posted in Community, Deck Lists, Stories, Theme | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments