Bard the Bowman. Obviously Bard the Bowman is strictly better in Multiplayer. But no review still seems odd to me. He's not always the best. His stats could be more streamlined, and his ability could be economically abusable like generating cards, resources or actions.

But Bard the Bowcannon is a special character in the lore. How many other characters can boast to have slain a dragon? Not just slain, but shot out of the air, and killed, with a single arrow. The Black Arrow. Tales of dragon slaying usually don't talk about the third age, in which all the well known characters live. Bilbo and Thorin Oakenshield have passed through Esgaroth at the long lake before enraging Smaug the dragon. Bard the Cannonman didn't provoke the dragon's wrath. Yet, still, the dragon came and spit fire upon the laketown, and Bard the Mancannon had to deal with it. He had to rally the townspeople, against a dragon, and you can see his town burning in the background of his card art. He didn't falter, nor did he run.

Did the fellowship stand their ground against Durin's Bane, the balrog in the mines of moria? No, they fled. And while it is arguable whether a dragon or a balrog is more powerful, or harder to kill, or whether that specific balrog or that specific dragon are stronger than the average of their kind, it is still true that Gandalf, one of the more powerful beings in middle earth, fought the Balrog for 10 days. Bard the apex of Mankind only needed one arrow to slay the last known living dragon.

8
Coolness Review. I like it! —
Yeah, I could list the number of enemies Bard could kill with [Hands Upon the Bow](/card/04131) or how he is probably the most valuable ranged attacker to ready again, but then I'd have to find out what makes a non-standard attack "ranged" —
This card and Rivendell Blade have always bothered me. You can only attack each enemy once per phase, so why do these cards specify that their defense is lowered for the phase? Is it really for cards like Straight Shot or something? —
Frozen, I don't know. Things like Straight Shot and Quick Strike have been around for a while, my guess is they left you a little benefit from that. It might just be some wording they used on R. Blade and just carried it over to Bard. —
Each player is restricted to attack each enemy once during the combat phase, but with the help of ranger two different players can each attack the same enemy as two separate attacks. Let's say Enemy A is engaged with Player A, while Player B is the first player. During Player B player attacks step Player B declares Bard as an attacker against Enemy A, not killing it but imposing the Defense Reduction. When Player A start declaring attacks Enemy A still counts Bard's Defense reduction during damage calculation. —
Wouldn't you still rather combine his ranged attack with Player A's standard attack? if the enemy had exactly 2 printed defense or less, the enemy would end up with the same remaining health in both scenarios, or even more health if the enemy had more than 2 printed shields. —
Player A's character might gain benefits attacking alone. In a very niche interaction, Bard can quick strike before another player's Grimbeorn defends and imposes a total -4 defence —

As a big fan of in-built readying, Hama is one of my favorite allies. He's a mite pricey for being a "do X then discard" ally, but running him with Théoden makes the resource hit more manageable. But even outside of a dedicated Rohan deck, I find myself splashing him into most decks I build. His excellent combat stats mean that even if you aren't utilizing the Rohan discard synergy, he still pulls his weight. In particular, his ability makes him incredibly versatile. Block a weenie, ready him and block a big bad--or have him hit back with his nice 2 attack. Have him chip in on questing, then pop him up for duty during combat. The defense boost is actually very useful despite him being discarded at the end of the combat phase, as there are now so many enemies and shadow cards that punish chump blocking. A mighty ally indeed!

Note that you can trigger an action after exhausting to defend but before calculating attack damage, so he can actually defend both attacks with 5 defense. I'd say that's absolutely worth it. —
Excellent point. Makes him even better! —

I find this card absolutely great. Just 1 resource to defend a second attack with the stat boost for both attacks. You can even save it until after the shadow effect has resolved if you're hoping to hold it but need to save someone at the last second. Been having great success with this in my combat Gondor deck.

26

A staple card in many of my stronger decks. Combines nicely with readying effects (Unexpected Courage, Light of Valinor) to make a hero who can quest for 4-5 each round without being exhausted at the end of the quest phase.

13

The new ALeP cards do not even nearly have enough reviews as they deserve, so here I am, writing one. In my opinion, their allies are one of the best designs not only in this expansion, but even in the view of the last cycles, and the Rammas Sentry is no exception. But what does make this card so great?

First off, it does not limit deckbuilding choices. While it does seem like a slightly different version of Honour Guard, it works different enough to not be either better or worse than the guard, so that you are not limited in your choices of deckbuilding by having to prefer one over the other if you want your deck to be as good as possible. Firstly, Rammas Sentry only cancels damage on Gondor characters, while the Honour Guard cancels damge dealt to any character. Second, while Honour Guard has to exhaust for his ability, Rammas Sentry doesn’t. You just need a resource in every hero’s resource pool. Honour Guard has a handy Valour Response and a good pool of hitpoints, while Rammas Sentry offers you a nice attack support with his 2 (or 3 with Boromir). Thus, these two cards, while appearing to have the same basic ability, actually work different enough and have different strengths and weaknesses to justify to even put both in your deck (for maximum damage cancellation).

Second, the Rammas Sentry is devoted, which means you can play him even outside a tactics deck if each of your heroes has the Gondor and/or Warrior trait, so he can be actually used in a mono-leadership Gondor deck, which is pretty awesome. Of course, having only warriors won’t really help, since you can only cancel damage dealt to Gondor characters, but you can mess around with the equally well-designed contract The Last Alliance released in the same expansion. If you want to go with him in a mono-leadership deck, his requirements are actually quite easy to meet. The "Wealth of Gondor" archetype, where you want to equip your heroes with as much resources as possible, has been around for quite a while, and Children of Eorl is expanding this archetype with their new allies. And Rammas Sentry fits right into this type of deck, while also not completely excluding other approaches to a Gondor deck. Great design.

Third, the ability. Enough has already been said in the reviews of Honour Guard about the power of damage cancellation, so I will make it quick. It is powerful. Very powerful. And since you need not exhaust the Sentry for his ability and it is only limit once per phase, you can actually e.g. cancel a damage on a questing character in the quest phase and additionally, in the combat phase, rescue your Defender of Rammas from the infamous "deal one damage to the defeding character" shadow effect; and after that he can even help you kill your enemies with his 2 ; and all of this for the cost of 2 resources.

This ally is just pure and utter perfection; congratulations to the designers of ALeP for adding this character to the ever-growing collection of great tactics allies!

208