As of this writing, Minas Tirith Lampwright is the only defense we have against the dreaded surge keyword. It was also universally panned upon it's release.
Much of the ire comes from the fact that this card was seen as a gamble, in that your odds of correctly identifying the extra encounter card are roughly 1 in 3; therefore, aside from pulling shenanigans with Henamarth Riversong and Shadow of the Past, or peering into the Palantir, you are probably going to whiff. Worse still is that once you consider the deck space required to ensure a correct guess, you quickly realize that it's just not worth the effort.
A Niche Role
I hereby propose that Minas Tirith Lampwright is not a garbage card; rather, we have been looking at him the wrong way. To illustrate, let's look at a couple of scenarios:
- You are grappling with a quest, but aren't in any overt danger. A card with surge is revealed during staging. You activate the response effect on Minas Tirith Lampwright and it whiffs. You get mad and condemn the card to the bike spokes.
- You are grappling with a quest, and are in danger of becoming location-locked. A card with surge is revealed during staging. You activate the response effect on Minas Tirith Lampwright and choose "location". At this point, you may not care whether the card hits or whiffs, so much as you care whether or not you see another %&#$ location this turn.
I believe that the second scario sums up the intent behind Minas Tirith Lampwright: It is not a flat-out cancellation power card. It is a safety net, for the low cost of 1 resource.
How to use Minas Tirith Lampwright:
- If someone is running Boromir or Visionary Leadership, then Minas Tirith Lampwright gets a small stat boost. Not bad for 1 resource.
- Remember, Minas Tirith Lampwright does not have to exhaust to activate his response, so don't be afraid to quest with him.
- If you're in a bind, activate the response on Minas Tirith Lampwright:
- Location-locked? Guess location
- Swarmed by Dunlendings? Guess enemy
- Dangerously low on hit points or high on threat? Guess treachery
- At the end of the day, you can always use him as a low-cost chump-blocker.
Whether or not you believe that Minas Tirith Lampwright is worth the deck space depends on how many players you have, and what quest you are up against. Some quests, like the Battle of Five Armies or To Hunt an Orc, can swarm you unexpectedly quickly (with enemies and locations respectively), especially in multiplayer. A couple of Minas Tirith Lampwrights might come in handy.
I wouldn't throw him in every deck, but maybe one day he'll make for a good story.