I’ve had enough time to play through the scenarios of The Shadow in the East, in solo and multiplayer. Before too much time passes, I want to look back on the Ered Mithrin cycle and the related poll which I closed only recently. If that poll stayed open longer than is typical, it is because the cycle was a bit sluggish in merging from hibernation. Every deluxe and cycle introduces new player card archetypes as well as supplementing existing archetypes. This poll asked which existing archetypes players most wanted to see improved by the Wilds of Rhovanion and Ered Mithrin cycle.
It would not be accurate to say that Beornings were my favorite archetype from the beginning, because there was no Beorning archetype during the early days. The Beorn ally from the Core Set has always been one of the most powerful allies in the game, and an excellent target for Sneak Attack. At the risk of hyperbole, the hero version of Beorn from the first Hobbit Saga expansion was a stroke of genius. An outlier in almost every statistical sense, he simultaneously captures the theme of the character and represents a seismic shift to the mechanics of combat.
Even so, one a hero does not an archetype make, doubly so when the two best Beornings up to that point where two different versions of the same character! Still, the tribe straggled on, in the form a second high-cost ally with a somewhat dubious discard effect. Finally, the Ered Mithrin cycle provided the lynchpin in the form of Beorning Skin-changer and brought into existence what can at last be called an actual archetype.
After the two versions of Beorn, the Skin-changer is the third thematic and mechanical win for Beornings. Two details are critical to making this card function, and even salvage some of previous misses for the archetype. First of all, at 2 cost the Skin-changer is actually affordable. This is critical in a sphere like Tactics with limited resource acceleration, especially when all of the other allies in the archetype are ostentatiously expensive.
The second important aspect of the Skin-changer is its even stats, and the fact that it can use its ability without exhausting. This means that you can use the Skin-changer to help out in other aspects of the game, and the discard it once you are ready to bring a larger Beorning into play. With three hit points, you can even soak some archery damage while you’re waiting for the ideal moment to transform into a Giant Bear. It’s good to see that so many respondents to the poll agree, and voted Beornings the archetype most-needed of added support.
Rounding out the support is an excellent event: Beorn’s Rage. It fits the savage theme of the tribe, but more importantly it actually works from a mechanics standpoint. Most player card combat events either stop an attack or boost the defending/attaching character. By targeting the enemy, Beorn’s Rage can be used with all Beornings, including the immune hero Beorn. To be fair, it would have been a sad sight if an eponymous event could not be used with the leader of the tribe. For anyone interested in a deck which takes advantage of many of these new Beorning cards, take a look at my Carrock and Eyrie deck on RingsDB.
While the latest cycle takes place in and around Mordor, every cycle typically gets a few outlier allies. These either bolster existing archetypes or revitalize and re-contextualize other, more overlooked cards. It is my hope that the Beorning archetype gets a bit more support in this cycle, and maybe – hope beyond hope – their own contract! Thanks to all who participated in this long-running poll, and please be sure to vote in the newest poll.
With more than 1000 votes tallied, here are the full results:
|Dúnedain Enemy Engagement||32||3%|
|Hobbit Optional Engagement||30||2%|