Great supporting hero. Low threat, serviceable quester, gives you action advantage and a safety valve all in one. He allows you to stop worrying about surprise attacks and use your characters more efficiently, as long as your threat is sub-40 or so. Right from the first turn, you can quest recklessly with everyone and trust that it won't get a hero killed. You can also plan your attacks without an unexpected enemy ruining everything. He's flexible in that you can take an unblocked attack, see how much damage it amounts to, and then decide whether to take it as damage or threat. He can even absorb archery or damage from treacheries. Obviously the threat can pile up, but it's a good trade for basically eliminating some of the harder choices in the game.

The Wizard's Voice is to my mind the most problematic of the Doomed player cards. The simple and obvious issue with putting Doomed on player cards is that Doomed is a penalty to all players in the game, not just the one who plays the card. The Doomed events in the Voice of Isengard deluxe tried to bypass this issue by having each event offer a bonus to all players in the game, thus equaling out the exchange of threat for benefit... at least in theory. Deep Knowledge and Legacy of Númenor got it pretty well, but Power of Orthanc and The Wizard's Voice both suffer from the same problem in this regard - they offer an opportunity for all players to do something useful in exchange for the Doomed cost, but it's a useful thing which may not be possible for all players to do at the point when the card is played.

Before I go any further I just want to make a small sidenote: what the hell is up with art of this card? 'The Wizard's Voice' refers to Saruman's ability to influence, charm and beguile people by talking to them, convincing them that he must be right because he's so wise etc, but the art looks far too aggressive to be anywhere near that idea. If that art fits Saruman at any point in the books, it would be perhaps his brief flashes of rage towards Theoden and Gandalf on them defying him and showing that his beguiling voice is no longer working on them - making it rather odd for a card about that ability of his working entirely as intended.

Anyway, as I was saying, the big problem is a potential lack of targets. Deep Knowledge can only whiff if a player has emptied their deck, while Legacy of Numenor will always provide more resources though how useful they are may depend on circumstances. They're pretty close to universally helpful though. The Wizard's Voice on the other hand lets every player prevent an attack from an enemy. But this can fail to provide its full effect in any circumstance when the number of enemies in play is less than the number of players, meaning that the majority of the time you'll be getting less than full use out of this card. But it gets even worse than that - each player can only prevent the attack of an enemy engaged with them. So any circumstance where the enemies are more concentrated rather than being spread between the multiple players - because some decks are more combat focused than others, because someone's playing Dunedain and wants all the enemies, because someone's playing Haldir and wants everyone else to take the enemies, perhaps because of annoying Forced effects on some of the enemies leaving you no choice in how they engage, or any other possibilities - you once again can't get full use out of the card, so someone will be taking a threat-raise without getting a benefit from it. Now I suppose if you're using this card you could plan for it and have everyone take an enemy deliberately to get the use of this card to stop all those attacks, but if this means someone taking on an enemy they can't really deal with, then you better have some Ranged attackers ready to kill that enemy otherwise you'll have a serious problem in subsequent rounds. This card is incredibly useful in those situations where things spiral out of control and you have more enemies on the table than you can sensibly deal with and everyone has to take something whether they want to or not, but is that something you really want to plan for or would you rather planto avoid things spiralling out of control in that way? Sure, sure, the best laid plans of mice and elves gang aft agley, but at best that confines this card to certain specific quests and higher player counts and at worst it leaves it as a consistent dead draw the vast majority of the time.

The other point I might question is the Doomed cost - is 3 a bit high? Certainly the Doomed 2 on Deep Knowledge or Power of Orthanc tends to be easier to stomach than higher amounts, though that may be more of a knee-jerk reaction rather than anything else. But in an analytical sense, is 3 threat worth cancelling an attack? Well, of course that may depend on the attack and the availability of other solutions to it, but in general we can very simply compare to Feint. The Wizard's Voice admittedly has the potentially sizeable advantage in multiplayer that only one player needs to play a card rather than all players, but Feint makes the precedent that cancelling an attack is worth 1 resource; meanwhile Legacy of Numenor gives 3 resources (usually) for 4 threat and so we have a rough exchange rate of 1.33 threat to 1 resource. By this exchange rate, The Wizard's Voice definitely doesn't seem suitably costed as it gives the effect of a 1-cost resource for 3 threat, which going by LoN would be worth 2.25 resources. One might perhaps make the argument that Feint is undercosted for the power of the effect it gives, and perhaps you'd have a reasonable point, but given that it exists The Wizard's Voice shouldn't have been costed so divergently to it. If Feint cost 2 then 3 threat would be much more in line, but it doesn't. Given that Feint costs 1 I feel like The Wizard's Voice would be substantially more palatable to players if it was Doomed 2 (equivalent to 1.5 resources by LoN rates) rather than 3.

There are definitely some reasonable uses of this card. It becomes much more worthwhile as player count rises as additional value is gained through the aforementioned fact that only one player needed to play a card for all players to reap the benefit. It should be noted that it's a regular action rather than a combat action, so if something triggers engaged enemies to attack out of phase then this will help where Feint wouldn't. And in particular it's obviously very well suited to quests in which certain effects will put enemies into play engaged with each player, or even more significantly, when a boss enemy (that's not immune to player card effects) is considered to be engaged with each player, such as Durin's Bane in Shadow and Flame, where a single play of this event will prevent the attacks to all players in the game. But as I said above, at best it's a niche card for higher player counts and particular quests. Most of the time there are just so many other things you'd rather have and you're liable to feel the cost in threat is too steep for the benefit. The big places where Doomed cards show their quality are in accelerating your early-game, when resources are scarce but you have plenty of threat to spare, or by providing effects which aren't easily available from other cards; but this card offers a too-restrictive version of a benefit which mostly shouldn't be needed in the early-game and can be easily replicated by other events.

This card saved my arse a few times! —

Continuing my interest in cards that can do more than one thing, I've decided to take a look at The Long Defeat. It's similar in play and cost to Ancient Mathom or Elf-stone, but attaches to a quest rather than a location. Unlike those cards, however, it provides its benefit to every player--not just the first player--making timing less of a concern than with those cards. It also offers each player his choice of either of two effects: 1.) draw 2 cards or 2.) heal up to 5 damage from among characters he controls [heroes and allies]. At its most basic, it can serve as a kind of a reset between quest stages in multi-stage adventures. So, generally, its effectiveness depends upon the number of players and the adventure being played. The more players, the greater its value-to-cost; and the more quest stages in the adventure, the more opportunities to play it. Though it is less effective in one-handed solo play or against adventures with only one quest stage, it can still be an effective card worth including in a solo deck.

The Long Defeat was introduced in The Lost Realm/Angmar Awakened cycle, as was the side quest card type, so I have to imagine the designers saw them being used together. Most of the adventures in this cycle have one or more encounter side quest. This means an adventure like Intruders in Chetwood that has only 1 quest stage, but also has 4 side quests, can still benefit from The Long Defeat. Side quests also typically have fewer quest points than many quest stages, so can get you the benefits of The Long Defeat more expediently.

Player side quests give you even more control over when and where you can play The Long Defeat, thus realizing its effects more consistently. Though, as of this writing, there are only 5 player side quests--one for each sphere--The Sands of Harad/Haradrim cycle will be expanding player side quest options, as well as side quest support cards. It's worth noting that, like The Long Defeat, most player side quests benefit all players, making the combo even more appropriate for multi-player. One current card that works well with a side quest+The Long Defeat combination is East Road Ranger. As a ally, she fits well with The Long Defeat, and her +2 versus side quests can make realizing its effects a cinch.

Lastly, another card that synergizes nicely with The Long Defeat's healing effect is hero Elrond. His response effect reads "After a character is healed by another card effect, heal 1 damage on it." So, conceivably, if you were to use The Long Defeat to heal 1 damage on each of 5 different characters, Elrond's effect would heal an additional 1 damage on each character, thus doubling its healing effect! [Someone please correct me, if I'm interpreting the rules incorrectly here.]

In the right deck or versus the right adventure, The Long Defeat can be a great card. It provides a choice of useful effects to all players and perhaps the most flexible and potentially powerful healing effect in the game. And combined with player side quests (from any player's deck), it can be a great addition to any deck with access to resources.

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The only problem I see with this good card is that I usualy put 2 copies in my deck... making it not showing up when it's time in a lot of quests... and I don,t want to use 3 slots on my deck for a conditionnal card like this.... —
Maybe you could get it when you need it with deck-delving cards like the in-sphere Master of the Forge, Heed the Dream, etc. I wouldn't include delving just for The Long Defeat, but if those type of cards are already in your deck... —
True! I sometimes forget that it's an attachment.... ;-) —

As I said in my review of Galadriel, everything is better with Galadriel. Given that, ally Galadriel obviously had a lot to live up to (admittedly The Road Darkens was released before Celebrimbor's Secret, but hero Galadriel had already been spoiled in advance, so everyone knew she was coming). That being said, ally Galadriel is also incredibly useful. She's not for every deck. Her ability specifically relates to attachments, so in general she is for decks which rely on significant attachments. But a lot of decks do that. She costs 3 resources, but that in the sphere which has access to good resource generation. And in return she accelerates those resources even further by giving you a free attachment (plus card draw since she digs it out of the deck for you).

Now, it's important to note that unlike her fellow temporary allies Gandalf and Elrond, Galadriel's Response only triggers when you play her from hand, not when she enters play. This is a definite downside, but given how powerful an effect resource generation/cost reduction is, it'd be ludicrous if you could get the effect by sneak attacking her. So let's talk about that ability. You search the top 5 cards of your deck for an attachment of cost 3 or less and put it into play. In the vast majority of decks that's going to be any attachment at all. The only attachments which cost more than 3 are Citadel Plate, Path of Need, Resourceful, the four Record attachments and Sword-thain. Any other attachment in the game is fair game. For example, Steward of Gondor; Sword that was Broken; Unexpected Courage; I could think of more but I feel like my point is already amply made just by listing those 3.

So, in exchange for your 3 resources you get 3 for one round (or a chump-blocker if you're really desperate for one I suppose), assuming your deck is stacked suitably, you get an attachment potentially worth the 3 resources you just paid, which as I said is effectively card draw as well, and then as the cherry on top you also get to rearrange the other 4 cards instead of shuffling. Not always the most useful ability, but Imladris Stargazer has been considered a pretty good ally since her release, and the fact that here that ability is just an added bonus really emphasises how good the rest of the ability is. If you think of it as the resources paying for the attachment normally, then you're paying the rest of the resources (which in the right deck will actually often be 0-1 resources) for getting the attachment out of your top 5 cards (targeted draw a la Heed the Dream), a one time Stargazer use, and a temporary 3 (there are some 1-cost events which give you +2 , this is obviously better though those events are more flexible). That's an incredibly good deal.

In the end, obviously the ally version of Galadriel doesn't match up to the hero, because the hero is amazing. But even as amazing as she is, she's not going to be in play all the time, and so long as you have a decent number of attachments in your deck, especially powerful 2-3 cost ones, you can do some amazing things. Galadriel makes a truly fantastic ally.

I especially like ally Galadriel in a quest with archery, like Helm's Deep. She can soak three points of archery damage before returning to Lothlorien. —

As a niche card that is only likely to be included in a Noldor deck, Lords of the Eldar obviously has limited general use. So let's assume that you're building a deck centered around Noldor heroes & allies. What are the advantages & disadvantages of Lords of the Eldar?

First, it is a universal modifier, much like For Gondor!, but affecting all Noldor characters--heroes & allies--controlled by all players. It costs 1 more resource than For Gondor! but also boosts willpower. It also lasts until the end of the round, whereas For Gondor! only lasts until the end of the phase. This allows Noldor characters with innate readying effects (Elladan, Elrohir, Watcher of the Bruinen, Trollshaw Scout), or with a readying attachment (Light of Valinor, Miruvor, or Unexpected Courage), or targeted with a readying event (Elwing's Flight, Tale of Tinúviel) to benefit from Lords of the Eldar's bonuses multiple times in a round. And, due to its requirements to play, you're more likely to see it later in the game when you have several allies and readying effects in play. It combines well with the in-theme Fair and Perilous, too. Since that card adds an attacking Noldor (or Silvan) character's to its , Lords of the Eldar essentially provides +2 .

While the requirements to play Lords of the Eldar may seem restrictive, they're usually not a problem for the typical Noldor deck. First, several cards can get Lords of the Eldar into your discard pile, often while also providing a beneficial effect: heroes Arwen Undómiel, Círdan the Shipwright, Galdor of the Havens, Erestor; allies Elven Jeweler, Erestor, Guardian of Rivendell, Glorfindel, Imladris Caregiver, Lindon Navigator, Trollshaw Scout, Watcher of the Bruinen; attachments Elven Spear, Steed of Imladris; and the event To the Sea, to the Sea! And those are just the Noldor-themed cards! Second, though 3 resources make it a somewhat expensive card for a Spirit Noldor deck--which may not have many more options than Arwen Undómiel for resource acceleration--the need to discard Lords of the Eldar first usually means you won't be playing it too early in the game when resources are tight. This is fine, as later in the game, when you've acquired some surplus resources, you'll also have more allies in play to take advantage of its bonuses. Or, if one of your heroes is a Hobbit, like Frodo Baggins, he can use Good Meal to play Lords of the Eldar for only 1 resource.

The final hitch is that Lords of the Eldar is placed on the bottom of your deck when played. Unfortunately, this keeps it from being recycled with The White Council or Map of Earnil, as one might do with Tale of Tinúviel, for example. However, Word of Command can fetch it for you at the cost of only 1 resource... and exhausting an Istari character. Hero Gandalf has all sorts of readying available to him and Over Hill and Under Hill Gandalf doesn't exhaust to quest so can use his second action to cast Word of Command. (Noldor decks usually have Core Gandalf's card drawing and threat reduction covered already anyway.) Or any Istari character can play it after questing on the turn he enters play if Galadriel is one of your heroes. Speaking of Galadriel, the thematic Mirror of Galadriel can fetch Lords of the Eldar from your deck if you have 10 or fewer cards remaining. And, if you have 5 or fewer cards, Galadhrim Minstrel or Heed the Dream will work, too. Of course, by then, normal card drawing effects would probably do the trick.

In the right kind of deck, Lords of the Eldar is a powerful card whose apparent drawbacks are easily mitigated. If you haven't already, give it a try!

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I would add to the previous comment that Mirror of Galadriel forces the player to shuffle his deck after use, which will removes Lords of the Eldar from the bottom of the deck. —