The Treachery of Rhudaur has been released, and with that, a new set of player cards. Now that we are past the halfway mark of the Angmar Awakened cycle, we are starting to see FFG make good on the promises of new Noldor synergy,
Erestor's debut as a hero comes with standard lore flavor, but with a twist. As is no surprise, card draw is the main bullet point in his skill set. Similar to Bilbo, Erestor gives additional card draw, but this time, it is only for his controller and it's three extra cards! The draw back, however, is that all cards have to be discarded at the end of the round. To put that into perspective, that's 10 cards, one fifth of a standard deck, in your opening hand, and four cards every round there after. Obviously, quests such as Deadman's Dike, where you're punished for running through your deck, will not see much Erestor action. In solo games, Erestor could be included, replacing all other forms of card draw. That's pretty huge, as it could free up a significant amount of space in a deck. In multiplayer, I could see including Beravor, as a support hero, to give other players card draw. Erestor's extra card draw really shines with abilities which require card discard. Old staples such as Eowyn or Protector of Lorien going to see a lot of use, as the discard requirement is less rough when the card are going away anyway. All the benefits I see, however, are weighed against the potential downfalls. Certain cards, such as A Test of Will or Feint, are typically held in hand until they're needed. With Erestor, you have to think differently. The player board is where you have to put your reliance in, not your hand. Cards such as Scroll of Isildur will be very useful in recycling cards. Another auto-include might seem to be Will of the West, but this is one you definitely will want to mulligan out of your starting hand.
Silvan is one of my favorite archetypes, and Galadhrim Weaver continues the trait. For one cost, which is not reducible by O Lórien, it only provides one will power. However, its enters play ability allows you to shuffle the top card of your discard back into your deck. One of the keys to the Silvan trait is being able to return cards to hand, which are typically done through a number of event cards. By playing the Weaver, you can return these valuable cards back into the deck to be used again. Obviously, there are opportunities to use this card in any deck where you want to continuously recycle cards.
Galdor of the Havens is an appropriate pairing with hero Erestor. As soon as you discard a card, draw a card. Since it allows you to essentially replace the card you discard, it seems like an easy decision. I especially like him with Galadriel and her mirror. I don't typically like to run the mirror, since I don't like the chance of losing the card I just pulled, but with this ally, you can replace whatever card you lose.
Elven Spear gives Silvan and Noldor a new weapon to run. For the cost of three cards, the hero wielding the spear can boost his attack by three. Since this is done in three separate occasions, Galdor would be triggered each time.
Silver Harp also helps the Noldor trait's new discard ability. After discarding a card, exhaust the Silver Harp to return it to the hand. This seems like a great card in general. Obviously, it requires Spirit, both to pay for, and to attach to. Oddly, it is a restricted attachment, which isn't usually an issue for Spirit heroes, with the exception of, perhaps, Glorfindel.
Elf-friend is a card I never expected to see. By attaching this card to a character, they become both Silvan and Noldor. This falls into the situational section of cards. I like strong combos that don't rely on drawing the right cards at the right time. In the case of this card, you have to pull it in, and then draw whatever card. This could cause some cool combos, such as equipping Tactics Aragorn with Rivendell Blade to reduce enemies' defense by three, but I would probably include it in a deck that has a target that wouldn't require Elf-friend as well, such as Legolas.
Horn's Cry adds to the Valour trait in a way I can get behind. One less attack for each enemy until the end of the phase, or minus three attack for a single player's enemies. Beorn is a strong defender, but his one defense can sometimes be a burden, with no way of directly boosting it. By using this card, along with the bear's unexhausting sentinel defense, he can take a lot more slings and arrows. Similarly, Boromir could also benefit from being able to lessen the attack of his enemies, and with his readying action, his player will probably be consistently using this card's Valour ability.
Reinforcements is a card I hadn't made up my mind about when I started analyzing it, but by the end, started to really like it. For three leadership resources, coming from three different heroes, the group can put two allies into play from their hand, but only for that phase. This is essentially a different version of Sneak Attack, but something that the whole group can utilize, rather than just the player playing the event. The old combo was to use Sneak Attack plus Gandalf, but it required that both cards be in one player's hand to pull off. Not only that, but you had to have access to Leadership. Though more expensive, and requiring either mono-Leadership, or the inclusion of songs, this event allows any player in the game to utilize this same combo. Not only that, but the allies may enter play under anyone's control. Perhaps one player has Gandalf in hand and needs some card draw, while another player needs a defender for the round. Simply play this card and both players get what they need. Taking the example further, perhaps that same player needs some help killing the engaged enemy, you still have another ally that can be put into play. Just like Sneak Attack, the allies return to their owners' hands at the end of the phase, which will trigger Horn of Gondor, leaving only a net usage of one resource and one card. As mentioned above, I wasn't sure how I felt about this card initially. Obviously, this won't see as much action in solo, and the three resources from three different resource pools can be rough. In both cases, the downsides aren't that bad. Even in solo play, getting two allies out could still be very strong, and mono-Leadership is one of the strongest mono-spheres in the game. I'm very excited to play around with this card.
The Door is Closed is a very interesting play on A Test of Will. For one Lore resource, you may discard any revealed encounter card. The stipulation is, however, that a card with the same title has to be in the victory display. Immediately, I think of this in a Rossiel deck. Whether the card already has victory points on it already, or you use cards such as Out of the Wild to put them in there, this card takes a little bit to setup. It seems like it could be OK, but at the same time, just like Rossiel, could whiff.
Send for Aid finishes the set of side quests for each sphere. When this is played, each player gets to search the top 10 cards for an ally and put it into play under their control. This ability is similar to other events such as The Eagles are Coming!, Mustering the Rohirrim, or Entmoot, where you get to search your deck for a certain trait, but in this case, you get to put them into play, albeit only one. I could see this working well in a Rohan deck. Mustering the Rohirrim is similar, but for only one player and they still have to pay to put it into play. When playing multiplayer, this also benefits all players around. You could also use hero Gandalf and Wizard Pipe to toss the ally you want on top of your deck to ensure you get a strong play out of playing this side quest. Strangely, this is the only side quest, thus far, that costs a resource, but Leadership is typically not stretched for resources. That said, more than likely you will get more than one resource's worth of allies out of this card, which makes it more than worth it.
With the release of this adventure pack, I finally feel that the promise of the new Noldor trait has been fleshed out. With Erestor's extra card draw, and the new benefits from discarding, I'm very excited to fully explore our new cards.