A lot of the time people have negative knee-jerk reactions to certain cards and then never look beyond those reactions where if they actually tried using the card they might find it a lot more effective than they thought. This obviously is a subject quite close to my gaming heart since I tend to be all about the variety – there’s a reason I like to pick out, acknowledge, and review the under-rated cards, and why I made it a goal of The Line Unbroken to use as much of the card pool as I could find uses for. Often the weird niche cards can be some of the most interesting to actually play with once you get a deck sorted out around them and it makes me sad when people just dismiss them out of hand.
Sometimes I may even be guilty of this myself, which is another reason for that aspect of The Line Unbroken. And sometimes of course there are cards which I don’t dismiss out of hand, I look at them and see the potential for interesting plays and interactions, but I don’t necessarily put my money where my mouth is and actually put them in decks. In my defence, there are so many potential decks to build, and ones around weird cards are likely to be more difficult to build. It’s still something I’d like to change though.
So, examples. Now I’m not going to go into too much detail on individual cards because they’re cards I have reviewed or am going to review in the future, but I can make some brief points at least about some instances before moving on to the significant sub-category which this article idea grew out of in the first place.
People I think have a tendency to look at this card and ask “Why would I move damage instead of just dealing more of it?” And certainly one could argue that a straight up direct damage deck or indeed just a standard combat deck might be more efficient in the vast majority of cases. But this game is not so hard that we need to always pursue the optimal strategy, and Infighting is a fun card when you use it right. Which brings me to my other point – another comment people may well make is “How often are you going to have enough damage sitting around for this to be worth it?” To which the counter-question is, “Well, how much damage do you think you need for it to be worth it?” People will imagine the ideal situation, where you have a high hit point enemy in a Forest Snare so you can stack up the damage with impunity and then move it to other enemies as they turn up, then conclude that this is going to be very difficult to set up, thus concluding that Infighting isn’t consistent enough to be worth it. But the card can still be useful outside of the optimal situation. If you move one point of damage and that kills an enemy before it can attack, then the card has done its job. And in a card pool which includes cards like Gondorian Spearman, Thalin, Argalad, etc, that’s not such an unreasonable proposition.
I’ve brought this up recently of course, and done a card review on it, but it remains relevant. This is a classic case of the knee-jerk reaction, wherein people see that they need to exhaust the attached hero and that they likely need to raise their threat and instantly conclude that the card isn’t worth using without any further consideration.
This one is a classic example in the category of cards which I say are decent and interesting but have actually pretty much never used. Of course that’s partly because I think to make it work properly you really need to build two or more decks to go together and that’s a less common occurrence than just building a single deck that works independent of other considerations. Also it might well be simpler even in that circumstance to build two Gondor decks rather than one Gondor and one Rohan which can sometimes share bonuses for a phase. But regardless the card is a potentially pretty interesting and useful one. I should really try and do more with that card some time.
A Good Harvest
A lot of people at this point will be aware of the power of this card because it was popularised by Seastan, but prior to that endorsement I’m sure a majority of players (me included) would not have thought this card was useful at all. The thing is that smoothing out resources in general is a pretty subtle effect and so the real material value it can have in a game can be hard to realise without actually trying it out.
Grima (in multiplayer)
This one is comparable to the Palantir. People are babies about taking a little bit of threat. It’s certainly true that Doomed 1 is more impactful with more players in the game, but it’s still not generally going to be that big a deal compared to the cost reduction making a deck function that much more efficiently.
Message from Elrond
Another weird effect which most people will not appreciate the value of. Cards that only work with co-operative deckbuilding definitely tend to fall into this category by default because the vast majority of people will only build single decks without specifically slotting them into fellowships with other decks. Message from Elrond is a weird card that takes a little thought to find the use for, but essentially it’s good for events and the ability to effectively breach the ‘3 copies per deck’ rule can be incredibly powerful if you build around it co-operatively. Just because a card has an unconventional ability which doesn’t immediately show itself to best effect at first glance doesn’t mean that ability isn’t useful on more careful consideration.
Guarded Ceaselessly is another card wherein I was included in the set of people who initially thought it was terrible. It’s certainly not a top-tier card, but it’s way way better than people think. The thing is, the fact it’s 0-cost helps a lot, as does the flexibility. I didn’t think this card was any good, then I used it just out of curiosity and found that it actually worked. Could be seen as a cautionary tale against prejudging cards. Though even as I write this I’m predicting that people won’t believe me that it’s OK.
Most people thought this card was useless, but CotR’s TheChad made it something of a mission to build a Hobbit deck which would make good use of it and a lot of people I think would agree he made his point. But I’m willing to bet that a lot of those same people will unhesitatingly continue to pan other new cards without trying them.
And now we come down to the significant subcategory which inspired this article in the first place, that being player reactions to errata. I feel like there’s a general trend that when a card gets errata’d people just assume that the post-errata version is bad. I suppose it’s a bit understandable since player card errata has invariably been negative, so the errata’d version is always worse than the original. The thing is though, when the cards in question are incredibly powerful to start with, making them worse than they used to be can still leave them being good. More likely they just become a card which fits nicely into the right sorts of decks rather than just going everywhere.
Master of Lore
This is a problematic one. The thing is, the post-errata ability is still good. It’s just that the card is kind of expensive now, so it only fits into decks which either can stomach that early game tempo hit in exchange for accumulated value by late-game, or which can get some resources to spare early on, or which have a decent means of cheating the Master into play. To be sure, that’s a noticeably narrower set of decks than pre-errata, and the Master wasn’t that commonly used before anyway, but on the rare occasion I do get one into play I tend to be surprised by how useful he can still be. Definitely the low point of my examples here though.
This is a card which fell out of use after the errata and has gradually found its way back into favour as people realised that 1 resource to avoid all travel costs for the rest of the game was still a pretty great deal. Of course it’s partly also that the travel costs this lets you bypass have gotten more impressive over time as well.
Love of Tales
Love of Tales is a weird one of course because prior to the errata it was already hardy ever used anyway – it was pretty much confined to being used for game-breaking purposes (with a few exceptions). The thing is though, the reason it worked so well for breaking the game with was because it was an incredibly powerful form of resource generation so long as you were using Songs. The reason it didn’t generally work out so well was because people didn’t use Songs that much, but if you are using Songs then Love of Tales immediately becomes useful, even after the errata – it can only get you 1 resource per round now, but even when you are playing Songs, how often are you going to play more than 1 per round? And of course it’s free to play in the first place. Objectively, the utility of Love of Tales has nothing to do with the card itself and everything to do with the Songs which trigger it.
Horn of Gondor
And the main event, or rather attachment. Ironically I’ve become much more in favour of the Horn since the errata, where before I almost never used it. Now I still don’t use it that much, but everyone’s so down on the post-errata Horn that the card has kind of become the kind of underdog I can’t help but fiercely defend.
Because seriously, in multiplayer particularly, this 1 resource attachment can generate a fairly creditable number of resources in a lot of games, because characters will get destroyed from time to time. It’s a shame it’s restricted, that’s the one thing I’d really like to change. But occasions will tend to come up where you want to chump block, or when archery or some direct damage treachery kills off an ally, and every time you get a resource. It’s good. The biggest argument I’ve seen against it is the existence of some effects (mostly shadows) which punish you for chumping, but generally you just deal with them when they happen or cancel them. If they’re that numerous then don’t bring a chumping deck to the specific quest, but in the majority of cases chump punishing will come up on maybe 3-6 cards in the encounter deck (and that may be being generous). It’s hardly an ever-present concern.
And yet so many people complain that Horn of Gondor is “useless now.” Sure, compared to the hugely powerful old version it’s a definite step down, and the change does alter the functionality of some decks which may have used it in the past, but it’s far from useless. If Horn of Gondor hadn’t been a Core Set card and had instead been released (in its post-errata form) more recently, then I think people would have acknowledged it for what it is – good resource generation for the Tactics sphere in the right context, not a card for every deck, but incredibly useful in the decks/fellowships that feed into it.
And that’s all I wanted to say. To be honest I mostly just wanted to bring up the point about errata and talk about Horn of Gondor a bit, but the more generally applicable points are also somewhat significant, though I may have said similar thing before. Of course there are plenty more examples of cards which a high proportion of the community unjustly dismissed. Feel free to bring up any of your own favourites in the comments!