At first sight, Miruvor looks like a poor man's Unexpected Courage. It allows you to ready a hero, yes, but the cost is discarding Miruvor. It does come with the option of returning it to the top of your deck to reuse it. Moreover, both cards belong to the same sphere. Obviously, the fact you have to discard Miruvor, makes it worse than Unexpected Courage.

Is this assessment entirely fair though? Miruvor also allows you to switch resources in dual- or multi-sphere decks and can give a hero a modest boost. Does this kind of flexibility redeem it's main flaw? Perhaps, if it wasn't for Miruvor's biggest flaw, one which isn't immediately obvious: Miruvor gives you the option to return it to the top of your deck. Why is this bad? Surely, it makes the card incredibly useful because it allows for the potential infinite reuse of the card. However, if you for this trap, be prepared to lose a lot of momentum in your game, because Miruvor will slow down your card draw. If you don't watch out, you will draw too few new cards -- or not at all.

What are ways of side-stepping this issue? Of course, one option is card draw, and Lore will give you plenty options for that, for example with Gléowine or Daeron's Runes. However, you need to consider whether redrawing Miruvor is worth it over getting more new cards from your deck. After all, you could've drawn another card instead of redrawing Miruvor again and again. Another option is hero Gandalf, which, if you time it wisely, allows you to replay it, but only in the Planning Phase of course. Fact is, even hero Gandalf gives you card-draw in a way, and it looks like every method of card draw will have the same issue: is slowing down to recycle Miruvor worth it?

All in all, Miruvor is a tricky card to use. It gives you potential action advantage and the flexibility for reuse or other options in a pinch -- but it'll came at the cost of a Siren's call to return it to your deck, slowing you down with it's lure.

Erector can completely negate a momentum loss if you choose to put Miruvor on the top of your deck. While tricky to use, the card is definitely underrated and quite solid if used correctly. —

Distant Stars is one of those cards for which the use isn't immediately obvious so it often gets left out of decks. On giving it some more thought though, one can quickly realise that it enables a wide range of useful shenanigans.

So, break down. Costs no resources which is good, but requires you to exhaust a Ranger or Scout character. This isn't too much of a hardship since there are plenty of Rangers and Scouts but you may want to plan around this when selecting allies for your deck. The biggest non-candidates for this exhaust would be characters who normally quest - on the other hand any character who generally is used for combat or utility purposes (or both) can often give up their action for this instead with no real issues. For example, Ithilien Tracker, Snowbourn Scout, or even a solid hero option in Argalad are all great choices.

Next we turn to the ability. You discard the active location and replace it with one of your choice from the encounter deck. Only works for non-unique locations to avoid potentially breaking the intended mechanics of certain quests, but this is an incredibly powerful location control effect in both parts of it. You can use this to get rid of a horrible location without needing to explore it and/or to fish out a location you particularly want to see. Avoiding negative effects triggered on exploring or placing progress on locations by just discarding them instead is a useful option to have, or equally avoiding negative effects for having that location active/in play; on the other hand any locations with positive effects while active or for exploring them will often be balanced out by a negative Travel cost, which this bypasses. Note also that the replacement location can potentially be one which is immune to player card effects if you wish, since that immunity is part of the game text, which is not active while the location is not in play. So all that sounds pretty good, and that's just considering the card in isolation against a hypothetical generic quest.

The next step is to consider what can happen if we combine it with other player cards. Untroubled by Darkness, Cloak of Lórien and Rossiel can all give you reasons to potentially care about the traits of the active location, over which you have perfect control using this card - though this isn't an option I'd necessarily bother with personally. More recently though, Ghân-buri-Ghân loves this card - since his is equal to the of the active location, this card can let you manipulate his as you like, and unlike the normal run of the game, you don't have to go through the step of having that high location in the staging area counting against you before you get the boost - bonus points if the high threat location also has less quest points than the one you discarded. But the extreme cases came in Race Across Harad, in the form of Explore Secret Ways and the Eryn Galen Settler. With Explore Secret Ways you can negate large amounts of in the staging area (and thus make a nice quest push) if you find yourself looking at multiple copies of the same location, while with the Eryn Galen Settler if you see a location you really don't like you can use Distant Stars, pull a second copy out of the deck, explore it and discard the other with the Settler, thus meaning that you not only removed that location the same Quest phase it was revealed, but you also removed a second copy of it from the encounter deck, ensuring that you're that much less likely to see it again until the deck is reshuffled.

And finally we can consider examples of shenanigans for specific quests. In Journey to Rhosgobel you could pull out Forest Groves and therefore Athelas; In We Must Away you can always find a Troll Camp when you need to remove Sacks; In Into Ithilien you can bypass the Ithilien Road at the start of the game; In Escape from Mount Gram (where this card was released) you can discard an active location to immediately rescue all the cards under it and replace it with a new one with new cards to be rescued; Helm's Deep and Journey to the Crossroads both have locations with positive effects while active which it could be helpful to manipulate, but even better perhaps is using Distant Stars for Siege of Gondor, where you can swap in a Ship location just in time to explore it, thus advancing towards the end of the quest without suffering any of the ill effects for having a Ship location active; and my favourite, the Discover keyword in Ruins of Belegost is triggered when a location becomes active, so Distant Stars can allow you to trigger it multiple times in the same round, meaning potentially multiple Hazards but also multiple bits of Loot (and when you discard the location guarding the Loot you immediately claim it of course).

All in all, Distant Stars may not be a card for every deck and perhaps not for every quest. But if you have a location control focus and/or you're playing a quest which will reward you for pulling shenanigans with the locations then this card can be a veritable goldmine of possibilities for a player willing to give it some thought.

never thought much of this card, till i had a run in with nightmare locations. escape from dol-guldur has some of the nastiest locations in the game (torture chamber and dungeon labyrinth). These locations, even alone, could spell creeping doom. Together, they're terrifying (as well as other cards in the deck that add resources to them). Approaching this quest I tried to incorporate as many location control cards as I could. Thorin's Key, strider's path, and shortcut are all great in that quest, but I consider this attachment the single best card for that quest, simply because it allowed you to keep switching these nasty locations out before they ended the game. It's a weird thematic image though, using a compass to navigate a dungeon : )


hfksla gfsladjhgkljad hask! —
arjgarbn earhehb Erestor hask. Clayfighter. —

My card review of Gondorian Discipline was mostly just an argument for the positives of damage cancellation - in brief, while it may be less cost-effective than healing, it's a option while healing is almost entirely in , and the thing damage cancellation can do which healing can't is actually save a character from something which would otherwise kill them outright. Particular examples are unexpectedly powerful attacks which could kill heroes; shadow effects which deal direct damage to the defending character, potentially killing chump-blockers and leaving the attack undefended; and added security when deliberately taking attacks undefended.

All those points apply even more to the Honour Guard, who is the gold standard in damage cancellation the same way the Warden of Healing is for healing. Barring ally readying he can cancel 1 point of damage per round, but 1 damage every round stacks up into something fairly significant pretty quickly, and for a lot of emergency cases 1 is all you need. If you're being careful how you defend, it's rare that a nasty shadow effect will kill your defender by more than 1, and direct damage shadow effects for more than 1 damage are almost unheard of. Another fantastic use of the Honour Guard is in the event of effects which deal damage to all characters, all allies, all exhausted characters, whatever, he can exhaust to save perhaps a 1HP questing ally when you need to hold onto your willpower, or very significantly he can exhaust to save a Warden of Healing who can then heal the damage from all the other characters. Or maybe you want to save an Imladris Stargazer or a Zigil Miner, or a Master of the Forge, or some other utility ally. The biggest advantages of the Honour Guard over all other forms of damage cancellation is firstly that he's repeatable and secondly the absolute flexibility he offers - Gondorian Discipline only works for Gondor characters, Close Call only for heroes, and Raven-winged Helm only for Sentinel heroes, but the Honour Guard can cancel damage to any character. A further benefit he offers in helping you deal with potentially mounting damage is that he has 3 hit points himself and so in addition to cancelling damage on other characters he can safely soak up a couple of points as well.

All this is merely considering the basic Response, which is the bread and butter of this ally, but the Valour Response is a significant strategic resource to bear in mind as well. Obviously while the standard Response is just for every day keeping things going smoothly the Valour Response tends to be for big make or break moments and it works fantastically for those. If you find yourself deliberately or inadvertently at or above 40 threat, using that Valour Response could let you completely shrug off an undefended attack even from a fairly powerful enemy, or safely take a hit from an even more powerful one. It's perfect for carrying you through a boss fight which might otherwise kill you. Obviously given how good the Honour Guard is you shouldn't be too gung ho about discarding him, but 5 damage cancelled all at once is a lot and of course you can spot the moments where cancelling that damage will allow you to win much easier, or indeed where not cancelling it will cause you to lose. The power of that Valour Response to turn around and reshape a Combat phase is such that if you are in Valour, the Honour Guard is a fantastic choice of ally to put into play using Sneak Attack or Prince Imrahil.

One additional point to bear in mind (pun not intended) is that since the Honour Guard targets and cancels the damage, not the character it was dealt to, he pairs up fantastically with hero Beorn, in a clear case where damage cancellation is superior to healing. He works likewise with any objective allies who may also be immune to player card effects so you can't heal them - Chief Turch, or the ships in Sailing quests, for example. Since those objective allies will cause you to lose the game if they're destroyed, having the Honour Guard there to help keep them in good condition is a definite positive.

For all these reasons, I feel that Honour Guard is an absolute staple of decks, always worth putting in unless you have a really good reason not to. Damage cancellation is a very powerful ability to have, and the Honour Guard is the best at it.

One of the best allies in the game, I think. —