In some scenarios it's an extremely useful card. Consider the first stage of Into the Pit, where you may have a steady stream of low hp goblins/orcs entering the staging area and you can't optionally engage them...and you know that as soon as you hit stage 2 they will all engage. Thalin is doing one damage as they are revealed from the encounter deck, then pop Longbeard Orc Slayer into play and whammo the staging area is a lot friendlier.

This is now just a standard song, but in the time of release, this card actually gave us first opportunity to create decks without the leadership heroes and still be able to use Sneak Attack and Steward of Gondor. Logical choice of FFG to give us hint, where this game will go... and we all bought it. I still use it a lot. Nice artwork. Verdict: 4/5.

94

This card does basically the same what West Road Traveller does, but which one is more effective, depends heavy on situation, i think. I will always prefer ally, cause events are much more situational from my point of view. This one needs to be played right after the location is revealed, while with Traveler, you need to survive quest phase to next round, to be able to switch it in planning phase (if you don't use Sneak Attack). However both are very helpful in dealing with high Threat locations. Artwork is ok. Verdict: 3/5.

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Halbarad is a hero I've been using a lot lately in Dunedain decks and he's done good work so I wanted to take some time to sing his praises. He doesn't seem to get that much love in general...

Firstly, Dunedain are cool, the Grey Company are cool, and Halbarad is one of the few named such characters to appear in the books. In the books, he's tight with Aragorn and I'd argue they work well together in the game too. High marks on that front.

In game terms, he's got two useful traits and well-rounded stats so can be tooled up for anything. Good then, that he has inbuilt action advantage ("does not exhaust...")! Of course the player pays for this by being engaged with an enemy, which can be a high cost, depending on the situation. Because of this, Halbarad is generally going to be better off in a more combat focused deck - there could be corner cases where you're playing opposite someone with spare sentinel and/or where Forest Snare is an option, but really he is designed with facilitating combat in mind.

How hard is his first ability to get set up? Well, with Halbarad's second ability (you can optionally engage up to two enemies per turn!), you shouldn't be short on engaged enemies, except possibly in solo play when you're at the mercy of encounter deck reveals. Turn one, he'll often need to exhaust to quest, but some quests start you engaged and there are other tools to go and grab an enemy before questing.

The extra optional engagement may not seem like a lot but I've found it incredibly useful in a lot of situations, typically in two player games (but it could shine even more often in higher player counts). You can save a partner having to engage a nasty enemy, you can pull more than one high engagement cost enemy out of the staging area and get around some of those evil encounter deck tricks (remember Goblin Sniper? How about Lossarnach Bandit and Zealous Traitor from Heirs of Numenor? Halbarad laughs at them). Honestly, there are many times that his second ability has been clutch, particularly in sparing a partner deck a very nasty combat phase.

Who/what does he play well with? Dúnedain Hunter to trigger his ability turn one; Star Brooch and Celebrían's Stone for a quest boost; Roheryn; or boosts depending on need - I usually go with eg Dúnedain Warning in sphere. Since the strategy is engaging enemies - and keeping at least one around - the deck needs defence. I've found Dúnedain Watcher and Guardian of Arnor make a great team and are in sphere. Halbarad pairs best with for all that combat nonsense. I've been using him with Aragorn and making good use of Sword that was Broken.

Who is he competing against? Amarthiúl and Aragorn if you just want a single hero - if you're including Dunedain cards, you'll probably want at least one! His ally version (Halbarad) - I can see how the ally could be good, but haven't used him yet. There are cheaper heroes will better willpower (Sam Gamgee) or resource acceleration (Théodred, Denethor) which mean Halbarad doesn't get much of a look in for people looking to splash . He really suits a certain style of play so perhaps that why I don't see him used in many non-Dunedain decks.

He may not be flashy, but he's a solid glue hero in Dunedain decks and with a few attachments can become a machine in 3 phases of the turn (questing, engagement and combat).

Some nice uses of Halbarad (with credit to the creators Gizlivadi, Seastan and Stokesbook):

ringsdb.com

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I think we can all agree that Dale as an archetype is quite strong. But why? I actually came up with a reason why, based on a definition I heard for a word;

Dale doesn't have an economy.

Let me explain; the definition of economy I heard was 'the distribution of scarce goods.' Dale doesn't really have 'scarce goods.' Resources? King of Dale, Traffic from Dale, Redwater Sentry and Warrior of Dale's cost reductions and King of Dale and Bard son of Brand's resource smoothing mean that resources are nowhere near as much trouble for Dale as they are for other decks. Cards? Brand's lack of a frequency limit on his response means that the first attachment you play on a Dale character, that you might've just gotten into play for free with King of Dale, replaces itself, making card draw at least a bit less of a hassle than it is for other decks. These two things-resources and cards-that Dale has in abundance are, I believe, part of what makes it so strong as an archetype. To put it simply, Dale can play more cards than most decks, which advances your board state, which makes it easier to win. For example, I calculated a theoretical ideal first turn for a Dale deck.

Assumptions:

-Two heroes, Brand Son of Bain.

-Opening hand includes; King of Dale, Redwater Sentry, 2 0-cost attachments that you can put on your King of Dale, Hauberk of Mail, and Traffic from Dale.

First turn (theoretical); Play King of Dale on a Dale hero, drawing a card. Play the 2 0-cost attachments on them. Exhaust King of Dale to get Redwater Sentry into play for free. Play Hauberk of Mail on him for free, and draw a card. Then, if you want to/can, play any other 0-cost attachments you drew on your other heroes, then play Traffic from Dale to net at least 1 resource.

You just played 5 cards, spent at two resources, drew two cards, and saved four resources-and that's without the Traffic from Dale. In total, you just 'used' 6 resources and drew 2 cards-wait a minute, that's one turn's worth of card draw and resources.

Now, Dale does have weaknesses-they might have a draw engine that's at least similar to Legacy of Durin, but they're extremely reliant on drawing the right cards, they don't really have any in-trait healing, their heroes are squishy-but 4 resources worth of discounts and 2 cards on turn 1 is really, really hard to say no to. And King of Dale and Traffic from Dale are only going to get stronger as the game goes on, giving you even more insane cost reduction/resource generation.

Of course, the obvious balancing factor is that the allies Dale turns out are cheap but weak-nope, they're really, really good. Warrior of Dale plus Bow of Yew is arguably 4 Ranged , Redwater Sentry with a Hauberk of Mail is Beregond, North Realm Lookout with any Item doesn't exhaust to quest and is 3 with Brand-that's almost Outlands levels of stats, that are quite easy to get into play for free or less than their printed cost. For example, from the Harad trait from the Haradrim cycle, Yazan was 5 resources for 3 Ranged and a point of direct damage. (Now, Yazan is by no means the best Harad ally, but he's the best example for this.) So, you spend 5 for a semi-usable (from an action standpoint, from a stat standpoint it's workable) 2 , 3 Ranged and a direct damage, and 3 . But for Warrior of Dale, you can spend 2 resources to get King of Dale on a hero, get 2 0-cost attachments on them, exhaust King of Dale, play Warrior of Dale, then play Bow of Yew on him to get 1, 3 Ranged , a point of direct damage (that you can't choose where it hits, I will admit,) and 3 , all for-

-2 resources and 5 cards. Yes, that is as many cards as Peace, and Thought draws you that you need to pull this off, but 2 resources versus 5 /Kahliel resources for very similar stats is downright unfair.

That's the power of the Dale deck; they have a sturdy economy, which allows the rest of the deck functionality to easily flow from there. They might be less non-statistically strong than characters of other traits, but does that really matter when you're barely spending resources but still playing 1-2 cards a turn, questing with multiple characters with 1 less than Éowyn, able to defend better than the 5 cost unique defending ally from last cycle (barring nasty shadow effects), able to destroy most enemies in the game, and still have some supportive capabilities after all that? Sheer cheapness provides an incredible amount of power, especially when combined with above-average card draw. In World War II, the Tiger may have been better than the T-34, but not unbeatably better, and it wasn't as easy to produce; sheer numbers overwhelmed whatever qualitative advantage the Tiger had. The same is true of Dale; North Realm Lookout, even when boosted, doesn't have Firyal's very handy encounter deck manipulation, but it's cheaper, and it's stats are little less. There's also, as a good friend tells me, time and again, the fact that simply having more people to throw at a problem dramatically helps. Churning out allies thanks to all your cost reduction and resource generation gives you extra flexibility when you need it-say, if an enemy makes an additional attack. Dale, to be blunt, gets more people for less than other archetypes. Again, the power of cheapness; cheaper allies means more allies, which means more actions.

So, that's why I think Dale as an archetype is strong, but what about the King of Dale himself? First off, don't run him in a non-Dale deck; he's too focused on making Dale good to provide anything other than his stats in other deck types. Speaking of stats, his are nicely balanced (Another good thing about Dale's heroes; they're flexible. You can quest with them early game, attack with them, even block in a pinch if they have some defensive boosts,) which begs for readying. His threat is mid-to-high, but manageable, especially because his sphere gives you access to the old combo of Sneak Attack plus Gandalf for threat management. His first ability turns Dale characters with an attachment from okay questers to good, or good to great, questers; the difference between 1 and 2, and between 2 and 3, is huge, making his ability very useful. His second ability I would say is downright overpowered, like Legacy of Durin. No frequency limit on a card-replacement engine that rewards you for doing what you should in your deck is, in my opinion, not the best design choice; you're going to have players swinging between drawing no cards and furiously waiting for something that's not an event to come up so they can actually play it, drawing a card to replace the attachment they just played, and drawing a silly amount of cards in one turn due to blind chance. In the context of once per round, however, Brand's ability is fantastic, making it more likely that you'll be able to keep comboing your cards by drawing down your deck.

Those are my thoughts on the King of Dale and the Dale archetype; if you disagree with me, please let me know, I would love to hear your thoughts on this. Until then, have fun playing the son of Bain; getting allies into play for free/cheap, drawing more cards than Erestor, and providing almost as many stats as Outlands.