Just yesterday, Fantasy Flight put up a spoiler for Assault on Osgiliath, the fourth chapter pack in the upcoming Against the Shadow cycle. The one player card they highlighted happens to be one of my favorite pieces of Tolkien lore. The palantiri are ancient seeing-stones created by the Noldor to allow their lords to communicate across vast distances. The stones had a power of far-sight, but they came with a risk too. When gazing into one of the stones, someone with a forceful will could project their power and influence through the stones, and in so doing, bend the minds of others. Indeed this is precisely how Sauron used his Palantir during the War of the Ring, to corrupt Saruman and break the will of Denethor.
The new attachment card nicely encapsulates the power and danger that are intertwined within these stones. By exhausting the Palantir, and the Noble hero to which it is attached, you name either enemies, treacheries, or locations, then examine the top 3 cards of the encounter deck. For each card of the type you named, you draw one card. However, for each card that does not match the type you named, you raise your threat by 2. A card that can raise your threat by 6 with one misplayed activation is not to be taken lightly. However, if one could control which cards are on the top of the encounter deck, it may be possible to turn the Palantir into a card-drawing engine. The deck that follows is a fairly thematic attempt at showcasing the power of the palantir. Just be careful that you don’t let Denethor use the Palantir one too many times, he may go mad and try to burn himself alive.
In essence, this deck is a variation on the Location Control deck that I posted previously. Gleowine, Ancient Mathom, Peace, and Thought and even Master of the Forge, all act as card draw. The later is very important to get to the Palantir and multiple copies of Unexpected Courage as quickly as possible. The Palantir can go on Denethor or Glorfindel, but you will want to have Unexpected Courage attached to whomever will be wielding the stone. With all of the attachments for readying your heroes, it should not be too difficult to pay for Peace, and Thought. The 5 cards that you draw from it will help get the engine of this deck running.
The Imladris Stargazer and Zigil Miner make another appearance. Between a busy Zigil Miner and an early Resourceful, you should be generating enough resources to pay for the extra cards that you will draw from the Palantir. Cards like Elrond’s Counsel and The Galadhrim’s Greeting will help mitigate the threat gained for bad guesses with the Palantir as well as keeping you under 21 threat long enough to play a resourceful. The good thing about having 3 copies of Resourceful, is that once you have paid the discount price for one of them, you can actually afford to pay for any subsequent copies that you draw with the help of Master of the Forge, even if you have to pay full price.
With 3 copies of Northern Tracker, a copy of Thror’s Map and help from Glorfindel’s trusty mount, Asfaloth, there are plenty of ways of dealing with locations in the deck. Ancient Mathom obviously ties-in well with the location control in this deck, but the real key is A Watchful Peace. Naturally, just like the earlier deck, this deck is going to fair much better in location-heavy scenarios. This is obviously not the deck that you want to fell Smaug with. That said, Gildor and your Norther Trackers have good stats, so you should be able to field a respectable array of allies.
Assuming that Glorfindel, Gildor and any spare Northern Trackers are able to finish off your enemies, you can buy yourself a round where you won’t have any engaged enemies and thus, no shadow cards will be dealt. Assuming that a location was revealed from the encounter deck, you can trigger Denethor or Henamarth Riversong to see what is now on the top of the encounter deck. If it is a location, and you have the means of exploring one of the locations in play and playing A Watchful Peace, you will then have two locations on the top of the encounter deck.
Even if the top card of the encounter deck is not a location, Shadows of the Past can be used to return enemies or less heinous treacheries to the top of the encounter deck. In any case, with two known cards, of the same type, on the top of the encounter deck, you will be able to draw 2 cards during your next planning phase. Sometimes, you will even get lucky on that third card, and draw 3 cards without any threat gain. One might argue that this is all too conditional, but it is important to realize that you don’t need to pull this trick off very many times for this deck to take control of the game.
In the above example, with two locations on the top of the deck, even if you miss on the third card, you have just drawn 2 extra cards and you have ensured that the next 2 cards revealed from the encounter deck are locations. With Northern Trackers and Asfaloth in play, the encounter deck is essentially playing right to the strength of your deck. Even if you had to use Shadow of the Past to return an enemy, you are obviously choosing the enemies that are easiest for the deck to handle. If you can create this situation, even once in the game, you will be playing the encounter deck, rather than the other way around.
In situations where you do have to deal with enemies, this deck is by no means defenseless. Because A Watchful Peace will put locations on the top of the encounter deck, and locations often have no shadow effect, there is a Hobbit-sized surprise waiting for unwary enemies. Small Target, the newly spoiled event from the upcoming third chapter pack gives us a great option when we find ourselves engaged with multiple enemies. Since the first shadow card is dealt to the enemy with the highest threat threshold, which is often the tougher enemy, we can use Small Target at the most opportune times.
Thanks to the Palantir, A Watchful Peace, Shadows of the Past, Denethor, or even Henamarth Riversong, we will most-often know whether or not that first shadow card has a shadow effect. If it does not, we can declare Frodo as our defender for that attack, then play Small Target to have the bigger enemy attack his comrade. If the bigger enemy is strong enough to kill the smaller one, we won’t even have to resolve the attack from the smaller enemy, making this card one of the most effective combat control cards for only a single resource. Really, the only downside to the card is that it requires two or more engaged enemies, which makes it rather conditional.
Henamarth Riversong x2
Imladris Stargazer x3
Zigil Miner x3
Master of the Forge x3
Northern Tracker x3
Gildor Inglorion x2
Light of Valinor x3
Ancient Mathom x2
Fast Hitch x1
Unexpected Courage x3
Peace, and Thought x2
Elrond’s Counsel x3
Shadow of the Past x2
A Watchful Peace x3
Small Target x2
The Galadhrim’s Greeting x3