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Author Topic: Fan Made Formats - Book Formats  (Read 535 times)
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ArtificerAlf
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« on: September 11, 2019, 10:53:15 AM »

I realize that I can play the game with friends however I choose. However, I'm looking to inject some freshness into the game, as many people tend to say things like "this is how Fellowship Block decks work, etc". My proposal: add some existing cards to formats to allow payoffs for book fans while creating some new metas. Not sure how much merit it will have, but it's something I've wanted to discuss/try.

The easiest example of low-hanging fruit is Reflections. There's a number of cards that originally came into the story during the Fellowship of the Ring. Merry's Dagger, Pippin's Dagger, Strands of Elven Hair all have their place in that story. Tom Bombadil, Goldberry, and Glorfindel too. Not sure how much these would affect the Fellowship meta, but why not?

Additionally, I think The Binding Ring and the other rings could be included too, mostly due the prologue standpoint, and I would like to see what the decks do with my friends if we are building around different Rings instead of the default rare Ring for each block.

Thoughts?
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ket_the_jet
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« Reply #1 on: September 11, 2019, 11:51:30 AM »

I know some groups have allowed Reflections in various blocks that predate the set's availability. I'd personally like to see what movie block would look like with the removal of Reflections--Dwarves certainly, but also Dunland, Elves, and Gondor would be a bit hamstrung.

If you are specifically looking to use applicable Reflections cards in Fellowship block, I would find Glorfindel to be game-breaking, personally. Last Alliance decks don't really need the help. The Knife of the Galadhrim would likely not get much more play than Flaming Brand. Galadriel, Boromir, and Gimli appear in the set, but let's remove the alternate ring-bearers from conversation. I would be open to Gollum, Dark as Darkness in Fellowship block as the lone Gollum card.

Stacking Isengard Orcs came about in set 2, but I think Library of Orthanc would be interesting in Fellowship block. That said, Sack of the Shire introduces a mechanic (site control) that precedes the rules of the time. Would Host of Moria, Legion of the Underdeeps be appropriate? I kind of think not, but I haven't thought about the implications of its addition.

I don't think the game would be ready for any of the rings of power, personally. So we're really just talking about adding the cards you suggested, Knife of the Galadhrim, Library of Orthanc, and possibly Dark as Darkness.

Or am I forgetting anything?
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ArtificerAlf
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« Reply #2 on: September 11, 2019, 01:09:29 PM »

In essence, I'm trying to shake up some metas a bit by creating a format that rewards the book lovers - the films themselves did things a little bit differently in some situations (Shelob, I'm looking at you and having to wait an entire year after TTT for that fun), and the "Book Format" would essentially kind of rectify some of those things.

This is all experimental, and the intent is a healthy debate. I'm sure I will personally be allowing some things and maintaining lists, just to encourage some fun. Maybe others will enjoy the idea, and it will kind of grow like the MtG formats of Commander, Oathbreaker, and Pauper.

I'll start with analyzing the Fellowship Block, since I have the most experience with it. If you look back at the tournament winning decks, they all involve Isengard. So, here's my Shadow thoughts:

Moria - Would Host of Moria, Legion of the Underdeep affect much? I don't know. I've seen the Moria swarm, I've built the archer Moria deck, and I've also seen some builds that involve the Cave Troll and heavy hitters. I would love to see the Watcher in the Water get some support, but I'm not sure that's entirely possible without Evil-Smelling Fens or the like.

Sauron - While not from Reflections, I've considered that Eye of Barad-Dur could definitely see an inclusion in Fellowship Book Block. The Eye certainly played a role in the books, and this could compliment No Business of Ours and Throw Yourself in Next Time.

Ringwraith - I see Twilight Nazguls the most, or a few Nazgul sprinkled throughout other decks. Would the Reflections Ringwraith rings give them a bit of a boost?

The intent is to "break" a format, but to try and develop a way to throw some additions to the game that is thematic from the books, and shake things up a bit. Not sure how much we will see that.

Additionally, how much is The Binding Ring played? My other thought was that each format seems to only ever run the rare Ring - it would be cool to have some other options.
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ket_the_jet
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« Reply #3 on: September 11, 2019, 03:19:27 PM »

Ringwraith - I see Twilight Nazguls the most, or a few Nazgul sprinkled throughout other decks. Would the Reflections Ringwraith rings give them a bit of a boost?
If twilight 'guls are your meta, that's the meta I want to be in. Twilight Nazgul are often pushovers in Fellowship block.

If you were experimenting with "book" formats, would you introduce Boromir to Towers Block? After all, he doesn't "depart" the fellowship until the first chapter of book three.

I think the most interesting change to Fellowship block, specifically, would be to find ways to weaken choke decks. Aragorn, Heir to the White City and Gimli, Dwarf of the Mountain Race cannot be replaced, necessarily, by different versions as they are the only Frodo signet versions of their characters (Elessar Telcontar does not feel like he is in the spirit of the block). If you wanted to emulate the books, would you include Anduril, Flame of the West and Anduril, King's Blade? Are we even limiting to other movie block cards? Or can we reach forward to cards from Shadows and beyond?

This is a fun exercise. I'm interested in hearing your parameters.
-wtk
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ArtificerAlf
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« Reply #4 on: September 12, 2019, 02:03:31 AM »


This is a fun exercise. I'm interested in hearing your parameters.
-wtk

Thanks! This is just one mad hobbit's ideas about a player-driven format. I appreciate your excitement to discuss, no matter how silly it may seem.

The overall goal of the Book Blocks is to reward the fans who have read and re-read J.R.R Tolkien's masterpiece numerous times. Though we all realize the movies are their own works of art and were made with an immense love and dedication from Peter Jackson, there are certain aspects about how the films were released that caused the TCG formats to play out a little differently. Book Block seeks to adjust the card pools in the hopes of creating new strategies and recreation of various book events and things that existed within them. As such, Fellowship Book exists to pull later released cards into a format using the Fellowship Adventure Path, while Towers Book pulls later released cards for the Tower Adventure Path. King Book is really only to pull Reflections cards into the format.

It sounds obvious, but the Adventure Path is one of the major parts of the game, yet looking at other formats, it is an aspect of the game that always moves forward and never looks back. Once the three Fellowship sets are complete, everybody plays with the Towers Adventure Path. It makes sense, though some of the designs don't work backwards - Black Steed is discarded at underground sites, but Shadowfax is not. I don't see this as a huge issue, as the majority of the mounts are only allowed in later blocks (though I do throw a little debate about Shadowfax being in Fellowship Book below), however, there are definitely other cards that never got a chance to shine in older Adventure Paths, or could even open up new strategies with Adventure Path choices. A clear example in Fellowship Block is that most decks start with The Prancing Pony for an easy Aragorn pull. A question I'm asking with Fellowship Book Block is, are there cards that could be added to the format to create a wider variety of Site 1 choices? Don't get me wrong, paying a burden for Aragorn is a pretty awesome play (especially if you're using Sam to remove those burdens), but maybe there's other fun to unlock.

Reading through all the designer articles also gave me some insight into some of the challenges the designers felt during the game, and how they also found new ways to solve those problems. In some instances, those were added in new cultures, but some of the other cards completely feel like they could have been printed in previous Blocks. I started this above (and reference it again below), but imagine if Eye of Barad-dur was printed in Fellowship of the Ring. Would Sting have become so crazy? Who knows. Any deck can run the Eye, adding those burdens.

A few starting points and personal ideas before I dive into the Cultures.

The One Ring: Despite my initial idea about including The One Ring, the Binding Ring into other formats, I'm actually more inclined to allow all Movie block versions of the One Ring into the various Book formats, mostly because I want to see decks test a variety of Rings. Not sure if this would drastically alter anything, but it would allow more choices, which is something I want to encourage. As such, the following rings are legal in every individual Book Block (though I'm not sure anybody ever plays the Ruling Ring – a shame if you ask me, as I don't like seeing card choices being invalidated):
The One Ring, Isildur's Bane
The One Ring, Answer to All Riddles
The One Ring, Such a Weight to Carry
The One Ring, The Binding Ring
The One Ring, The Ruling Ring

Signets: I really want to pull some cards into Fellowship Book that could help Frodo and Gandalf signets shine a bit. I'm probably biased against Gandalf, the Grey Wizard, but that's also because it was one of the first preview cards Decipher released, and the Gandalf Fellowship starter was my first ever purchase of the LOTR TCG on release day. Nostalgia plays a powerful factor. Also, playing the Grey Wizard in a Fellowship based format feels more "proper" than waiting until other blocks and utilizing him. Again, one of the main goals of the Book Formats. As I write this, I am working on a Grey Wizard Fellowship Book Block deck to test out.

Second Age Cards: I'm still struggling with where cards like Gil-Galad, Durin III, and Sauron, Lord of the Rings would exist in Book format. Sauron, with his twilight cost reduction via threats, makes me lean more towards King Book, but overall, adding these characters seems more awkward to try to accomplish. I say this, but I like the idea of all the other dwarven lords being added, and I really want the other rings added to allow The Binding Ring to be an option. I may be contradicting my first goal. Narsil and Aiglos are super cool, but I'm not sure they have a place. Granted, the writings of all these characters exist in the Appendices of RotK, so they could always default to King Book.

Alternate Ring-bearers: As this is a book-based format, alternate ring-bearers are not legal. It's not really an alternate rules set I ever embraced to begin with, and focusing on the books means it's not something I've considered. As Gandalf says to Frodo in the Shadow of the Past, "But you have been chosen, and you must therefore use such strength and heart and wits as you have".

Post Mount Doom cards: I never dove in to the later sets, as changing all the Shadow cultures was something that didn't sit right with me at all. I've glanced at some other cards from the classic cultures, and I find there are some slight temptations to utilizing some of them, but for the most part, I've ignored it. I don't want to embrace any of the later keywords like Muster and such. Nothing personal against it, but it's just not the LOTR TCG that I have the nostalgic memories for.

With that being said, let's look at some things I would want to add for the various cultures:

Dunland (Towers Book)
Freca, Hungry Savage (Reflections) – I think he becomes an auto-include for a lot of Dunland strategies, much like Hides. Not sure how much more power he adds for Dunland, but I think it makes it easier for them to start controlling sites and getting the bonuses they are looking for.

Dwarven (Fellowship & Towers Book)
Gimli, Counter of Foes (Siege of Gondor) – Since I'm looking to add more Signet support, does this Gimli even make sense? Can it compete with Son of Gloin?
Linnar, Dwarven Lord (Reflections)
Ring of Accretion (Reflections)
Ring of Fury (Reflections)
Ring of Guile (Reflections)
Ring of Retribution (Reflections)
Sindri, Dwarven Lord (Reflections)
Uri, Dwarven Lord (Reflections)
Without any playtesting, I just like the idea of expanding the Dwarven culture. As stated above, the rings also support The Binding Ring.

Elven (Fellowship Book)
Glorfindel, Revealed in Wrath (Reflections) – Definitely a powerful companion, and it was stated before that he just gives Last Alliance decks more power, but he is the guide to the Ford in Fellowship. He may need some other cards added from later blocks to help offset him.
Knife of the Galadhrim (Reflections) – A gift of Galadriel. These are auto-includes from a story perspective.
Merry's Dagger (Reflections) – See Knife of the Galadhrim
Narya, Ring of Fire (Reflections) – more ring support
Nenya, Ring of Adamant (Reflections) – more ring support
Pippin's Dagger (Reflections) – My wants for this card in Fellowship are actually a bit different than the other two gifts – I want to see Pippin be a little more than a speed bump. There's always debates and writings about which companions are the best, and a small goal about book Block is trying to add cards that give various versions of the companions more options to consider. The dagger can help boost Pippin, though it wants him in an elf-based deck
Strands of Elven Hair (Reflections) – another Gift of Galadriel
Vilya, Ring of Air (Reflections) – more ring support

Elven (Towers Book) – same as above list, with the following inclusions
Elven Rope (Reflections) – this is a Gift of Galadriel, though it doesn't come into play until Towers. If Gollum is added to Fellowship book, I could see it becoming an inclusion in Fellowship Book as well, but there aren't a lot of Strength 6 minions that would make it that effective, although it might be able to assist against Moria Swarm. Something to consider.

Gandalf (Fellowship Book)
Radagast, the Brown (Reflections) – Gandalf met him as he was trying to find Frodo, so it fits as part of the book. Not too many cards reference Wizards in the Movie blocks, as they tend to be more Gandalf specific.
Keep Your Forked Tongue (Two Towers) – It could go against the books, but it definitely is a nice reward for playing Gandalf signet companions.
Down From the Hills (Helm's Deep) – This seems like something against my intent following the books, but one could argue it represents Gandalf taking Shadowfax after escaping from Isengard before the Council of Elrond.
Let Us Not Tarry (Siege of Gondor) – I can easily flavor this as the help Gandalf has given throughout Middle-earth's history.
I debated about including Shadowfax in Fellowship Book, since Gandalf the Grey met and rode him when escaping from Isengard and showing up in Rohan. My biggest issue is that Shadowfax stays in play even when moving underground, unlike all other mounts in the Fellowship Block. Any insight would be appreciated!

Gandalf (Towers Book)
Ent Draught (Reflections) – A huge story moment for Merry and Pippin, as it gives them some extra strength and is later remarked about how tall they are when they go to lead hobbits in the Scouring of the Shire. I love the condition, as it fits the theme, and increases vitality, so this is a natural inclusion. Not sure how effective it is in the Towers block, as Merry and Pippin are being discarded and replayed, but I still feel like it fits.
Huorn (Reflections) – Another companion for Ent decks. Not an Ent, but a tree, it gets some nice bonuses for its cost. I had thrown together a Towers Standard deck with a few of my Book block thoughts, and I would fetch this guy with A Wizard is Never Late to start with a little extra power in an Ent deck.
Sent Back (Reflections) – Literally based on a quote about Gandalf the White returning. Auto-include.
Treebeard, Keeper of the Watchwood - So, playing this in King block is impossible, as there aren't 3 Gandalf companions to play. Also, Isengard was destroyed at the end of book 3 of The Two Towers, so, once again, it makes sense to allow him to be a possibility in Towers Book. I think all 4 versions of Treebeard have enough differences, and this one is only needs an Ent-based deck (as the only other non-Ent Gandalf companions are Gandalf and Radagast) that I think this is a good addition.

Gollum (Fellowship Book)
Gollum, Dark as Darkness (Reflections) – Aside from the image being when Gollum was in the Misty Mountains, I do feel like Gollum should be included in the Fellowship Book format, as he is tracking the Fellowship and specifically answering the call of the Ring. Not entirely sure how many Gollums should be allowed in the format, as I would like some surprises. Perhaps Gollum, Stinker and Gollum, Nasty Treacherous Creature?
Slippery as Fishes (Reflections) – I like this inclusion, as many of the site types referenced are a big part of the Fellowship Adventure Path. Lots of rivers.
Evil-smelling Fens (Helm's Deep) – I like this for a number of a reasons, and one is to help boost the possibility of The Watcher in the Water, Keeper of Westgate
Overall, I think Fellowship Book Gollum should focus on adding burdens and playing up the corruption aspect. In the Fellowship of the Ring, Gollum is an elusive creature, having escaped from Mordor and from the elves of Mirkwood. He is tracking the Fellowship. I also like the idea of Gollum adding burdens to help counteract Sam, Son of Hamfast, setting up the conflict between Smeagol and Sam when they meet and journey together in TTT (a part of the story I was amazed occurred when first reading the books). Including cards like Look At Him could help with Twilight Choke. We Must Have It could be another inclusion, and I'm sure there are other Gollum cards to discuss and add as well.

Gollum (Towers Book)
Shelob (Siege of Gondor, Mount Doom) – Shelob was one of the big scenes I was super bummed to see cut from TTT. I had to wait another year! Adding her back is thematic, but it needs some work.
Larder (Siege of Gondor) – I love how this works with orcs too, which gives it the option to work with Isengard and Sauron.
Spider Poison (Siege of Gondor) – This references threats, so while it still works in a threatless format, I'm not entirely sure how much it suffers. It should be included though, since it specifically ties to Shelob and gives a nice Blade Tip like condition for the Free Peoples player to deal with.
Web (Siege of Gondor) – Another thematic Shelob card

Gondor (Fellowship Book)
Scroll of Isildur (Reflections) – While Gandalf uses this scouring the archives for information on the One Ring, I want to make sure it has enough merit to warrant an inclusion in Fellowship Book. Obviously we would want a few Gondorian artifacts. Currently it's just the Shards of Narsil off the top of my head. I do like that it is a Tale, since Tale support seems strongest in Fellowship Block.

Gondor (Towers Book)
Boromir – As mentioned, Boromir died at the beginning of TTT, when Aragorn found him after defending the Hobbits. Boromir is able to be played in Towers Standard, so talking about his impact there could be discussed, though adding him with a focus on Towers cards could definitely shift things up. He isn't considered Ring Bound, and despite seeing the arguments for it, I'm not sure I want to create an actual rules errata list for the format either. It's enough that we may have some giant lists about what cards are allowed in the Book Formats.
Seeing Stone of Orthanc (Reflections) – In the books, the end of Book 3 involved Pippin looking into the stone and starting his journey to Minas Tirith. This card utilizes threats, a concept not introduced until King Block, but maybe involving them earlier in Towers without ways to remove them could make their inclusion a very real trade off.

Gondor (King Book)
Seeing Stone of Minas Anor (Reflections) – Ah, the source of Denethor's madness. Natural inclusion here.

Isengard (Fellowship Book)
Library of Orthanc (Reflections) – I like the inclusion of this, as it's another stacking card. Would the inclusion of this look to add some more stacking Isengard orcs to Fellowship Book to try and make Isengard orcs a viable alternative? I'm leery to include anything to boost uruks, though my next point may make you question my thoughts.
Tracker Uruks (from TTT) – I would love see a huge Tracker theme play out more in Fellowship Book, as one of the major themes of the books is the One Ring being pursued, first from the Nazgul, then pursuit through Moria, and then with Saruman's forces. The trick would be to figure out what tracker uruks should be added that would encourage some thematic building, without allowing the known uruk decks of the Fellowship meta to dive even further into "Isengard Uruk Goodstuff". With the tracker uruks being fierce, it could possibly downplay Saruman, Keeper of Isengard, but I'm not sure. The inclusion of Tracker Uruks also makes me want to include more Search cards, a keyword I want to play a larger role – Rest While You Can, Many Riddles, and What Did You Discover? spring to mind as other adds.

Isengard (Towers Book)
Sack of the Shire (Reflections) – Since this is from a vision, I'm ok with adding it when appropriate, since it is concerned with Site Control.
Suffered Much Loss (Mount Doom) – I love seeing older cultures get a few throwbacks in later sets, though this card has no place in King Block. Pulling it back into Towers introduces Initiative to Towers, which might be a good thing, since Rohan runs around playing tons of possessions. Not really sure, and I could be wrong.

Moria (Fellowship Book)
The Balrog, Terror of Flame and Shadow (Ents of Fangorn) – This Balrog could totally shake up the format, helping prevent the infamous "assign hobbit, cancel skirmish" issue that is well known, as well as Pippin, Hobbit Speed Bump. Too strong? Maybe, but I like the idea of playing up the sacrifice at the bridge.
Host of Moria, Legion of the Underdeeps (Reflections) – I like seeing more Moria minions with higher vitality, since you can exert them to Moria card effects. There's Moria cards I would love to play, but can't due to all the 1 vitality minions. The Host encourages some larger, beefier minions to try and play around with in Moria. Arming this guy with a Moria Axe seems like a lot of fun too.

Ringwraith (Fellowship Book)
Ring of Asperity, Ring of Ire, Ring of Rancor – Despite Gandalf's suspicions that Sauron reclaimed these Rings, I like the idea of them being used to give a few extra toys to Ringwraiths to try and play around with. The history of the game seems to focus more on Isengard Uruk Beatdown, so I just want to try to allow some other archetypes to emerge. Including Gollum and his corruption helping cards might give some new synergies.

Rohan (King Book)
The Red Arrow, Horn of the Mark – both artifacts used in RotK, so a natural inclusion.

Sauron (Fellowship, Towers & King Book)
Ithil Stone (Reflections) – I like that this can be utilized by Nazgul, and since Sauron has been in possession of it, I think it's a nice advantage to give to Sauron/Nazgul players, especially as a 0 cost condition. Hopefully the card draw can give a little extra gas to get that extra edge.
Eye of Barad-dur (Helm's Deep) - Punishes Sting in the Sauron culture, since Isengard and Moria get assistance.
Trackers (Helm's Deep) - Not sure if Sauron needs more of these, but it seems like it could help one of the Fellowship Block themes for Sauron.

Shire (Fellowship Book)
Goldberry, River Daughter & Tom Bombadil, the Master (Reflections) – All from Book 1 of the Fellowship. If only we had a Shadow card for Old Man Willow and more Twilight minions with the Barrow-wights.
Sam, Frodo's Gardener & Sam's Pack (The Two Towers) – Again, looking at more Frodo signet support, but not sure this will push anybody to want to run Frodo, Son of Drogo. No clue if Sam, Resolute Halfling would have any impact either. I realize that most people stick with Sam, Son of Hamfast.

Shire (Towers & King Book)
Everyone Knows (Reflections) – Including this with the entire concept of the Ent Draught. Since I'm concerned that Towers Merry & Pippin won't want to run this, including it in King represents their continued growth into warriors.

Hope this gives you some insight into what I am thinking and themes to explore. Thanks for reading the write up.
« Last Edit: September 17, 2019, 05:10:05 PM by ArtificerAlf » Logged
ArtificerAlf
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« Reply #5 on: September 19, 2019, 06:11:59 PM »

I have more defense citing my wish to add the two Gandalf signet cards from Towers block – Keep Your Forked Tongue and Down From The Hills.  Before the Fellowship enters Moria, Gandalf exhibits his power against the group of wargs.

"Gandalf stood up and strode forward, holding his staff aloft. Listen, Hound of Sauron!' he cried. ‘Gandalf is here. Fly, if you value your foul skin! I will shrivel you from tail to snout, if you come within this ring.' – A Journey in the Dark, The Fellowship of the Ring

"In the wavering firelight Gandalf seemed suddenly to grow: he rose up, a great menacing shape like the monument of some ancient king of stone set upon a hill. Stooping like a cloud, he lifted a burning branch and strode to meet the wolves. They gave back before him. High in the air he tossed the blazing brand. It flared with a sudden white radiance like lightning; and his voice rolled like thunder." – A Journey in the Dark, The Fellowship of the Ring

I would argue that in these early chapters of Book 2, the Fellowship has a strong affinity with Gandalf, as he is leading the Fellowship at this time. Thus, the Gandalf signet prerequisite of these cards seems fitting from a flavor standpoint, as his presence allows the Fellowship to deal with various threats that they encounter, until the Balrog.

For Keep Your Forked Tongue, I'm justifying this by expanding this card to embrace Gandalf's rebuking of many of the foes that he encounters through his powerful words. From calling the wargs "Hound of Sauron" to asking the Moria goblins "Who comes hither to disturb the rest of Balin Lord of Moria?", Gandalf has always been one to speak against his foes, and to silence their folly.

My main concern from a balance standpoint is wondering if Down From the Hills creates too many one-sided skirmishes, especially at a key point in Fellowship Block: the Bridge of Khazad-dum. Preventing all wounds and dealing massive damage seems like it can be a major issue, but a cost of 5 Twilight, there could be ways for the Shadow player to take advantage. Additionally, as mentioned above, I was also considering allowing The Balrog, Terror of Flame and Shadow into Fellowship Book as a way to discourage hobbit speed bumps and hobbit skirmish cancelling and really play up the terror of the Balrog.

I may also be discounting the need to exert Gandalf three times for Down From the Hills, as without Gandalf's Staff or Narya, Gandalf can only pull this feat off if he has no wounds on him.

As always, thoughts are welcome. I have been looking at Gollum passages and what they imply for Fellowship Book, as he is written about quite a bit in The Fellowship of the Ring, as well as having a few close calls with Frodo.
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« Reply #6 on: September 21, 2019, 10:34:45 AM »

There's a lot here, haha. I'm not able to help much with your overarching vision, but there are a few details I can point out.

First, King Book: it this just Movie Block without parts of Reflections, or do certain cards from prior sets get excluded (e.g., Boromir)?

Reading through all the designer articles also gave me some insight into some of the challenges the designers felt during the game, and how they also found new ways to solve those problems. In some instances, those were added in new cultures, but some of the other cards completely feel like they could have been printed in previous Blocks. I started this above (and reference it again below), but imagine if Eye of Barad-dur was printed in Fellowship of the Ring. Would Sting have become so crazy? Who knows. Any deck can run the Eye, adding those burdens.

I think Decipher was starting to address some powerful cards with counters, then switched and went the ban route. I've got mixed feelings about the two. Obviously, it's an insult to the players to have their hard-earned cards rendered useless, and I think Decipher was a little heavy-handed with the bans and some errata. But Sting is hard to counter with a splash card such as Eye of Barad-dur because it costs the Free Peoples player nothing to simply not use Sting, but the Shadow player is now playing with a 7 (or 6 or 5!) card hand hoping their opponent will slip. Even with abundant counters, Sting is a far better choice for many decks than Baggins Heirloom or Bane of the Eight Legs and it'd be hard to keep that threat off the table another way.

The way to go, I think, would've been building each culture a generally useful card that also counters some behavior the designers want to curb, but not get rid of. Eye of Barad-dur can actually be a great choice for Sauron decks because it has another use: the only other strength-altering event available for them is Enduring Evil. Add in the extra utility in a format where Sting is legal, and it's a perfect fit for many Sauron decks. Isengard gets No Business of Ours, but Moria is still in the lurch. Maybe that's ok, though? Moria is great at adding twilight, so the loss hurts them (in general) less.

I'm not sure anybody ever plays the Ruling Ring – a shame if you ask me, as I don't like seeing card choices being invalidated

One of many casualties from having all cards legal, not much you could do about that. Hate is way better than Mordor's Strength, I'd rather use Lord of Angmar over Deathless Lord, etc.

Second Age Cards: I'm still struggling with where cards like Gil-Galad, Durin III, and Sauron, Lord of the Rings would exist in Book format.

I'd argue against characters who only exist as a mention of days gone by. Sauron had a physical form and I could see a reason to include him (probably only in King Book, as you mentioned), but the others is an uphill battle. I don't imagine Tolkien cared much about the implications of not writing many Dwarves into the main story, and if a format that mixes things up by staying truer to Tolkiens word is your goal then neither should you. What you could do is look towards those later sets you're hesitant to include and pull in select cards. Grimir, Thrarin, even Dwarven Warrior might give more flexibility to players who want to build a Dwarven deck without betraying the format.

Here are my thoughts on the cultures:
Dunland
I may be the minority, but I think Dunland is already an undervalued culture. It may be that they need a boost from the additions for Free Peoples cultures, but I think Freca joins Gil-Galad and Isildur as anti-thematic more than anything. Since is it a small culture you won't have any choice if Dunland just can't compete, but I'd avoid it if possible.

Dwarven
I've already spoken my piece about reflections characters and the rings seem to be a good idea. Counter of Foes is not a great card, but it seems thematic for Towers and I don't see why his lack of power should exclude him. It's not as if he'd clutter the list or anything.

Elven
You definitely need Glorfindel, but I might advise taking Eldarin Lord over Revealed in Wrath. The latter is just so good, and the former gets a nice flavor bonus from the Ranger keyword.

Gandalf
Radagast is, in my opinion, a format-changing card. Not a bad thing for new formats, but I'd say he's one to watch. I think it's hard to justify Keep Your Forked Tongue and Down From the Hills, especially since they're so unpopular anyway. I've played them, but I haven't seen anyone else do it. With so many other changes I think they'd just be overlooked (again). Gandalf may have ridden Shadowfax during the events of the first book, but he was also Gandalf the White during the events of the first book. Seems more thematic to leave it out.

I don't really think Ent Draught is a good fit because it plays on any companion, and I personally wouldn't waste it on a Hobbit. But that's just my opinion. The rest sound good to me.

Gollum
I think Dark as Darkness is the best fit, but this is the card that opens up Lost to the Goblins turbo-corruption decks. Thematic that he fits with Moria and corruption though, right? Gollum is going to be tricky because Gollum depends so much on his support cards and aiding other Shadow cultures. Evil-smelling Fens is one of Gollum's best cards, but know that it allows a swarm to replay Messenger of Dol Guldur, Uruk-Hai to replay Keeper of Isengard, etc., as well as having Gollum left to soak up archery wounds. Give Gollum too much and power strategies are amplified; give him too little and he's useless.

Shelob is going to be another tricky one to add in. Her Ladyship will crush most strategies since they depend on one main fighter, but I guess that was the point of designing her at all. Larder is easy to stack tokens onto, hard to get rid of, and makes quick work of the secondary fighters, while Web makes her a constant threat. I don't play Movie block so I don't really know what makes her manageable, but it seems to me she's either going to be out of hand with those support cards or rarely worth playing without them. Eater of Light requires some set up, but I don't know whether the end result is still too strong. Last Child of Ungoliant is the version of her I'd feel most comfortable including with everything else, but I'd be interested to hear from someone who knows better.

Gondor
I still need clarity on what you mean for Boromir, but if Ring-bound is your concern what about Boromir, Steward's Heir? Alternatively, perhaps Doomed Heir sounds thematic? I think threats are a decent mechanic in general, but if only one or two cards mention them at all it's sort of awkward. The card itself isn't for Pippin's use, and while The Palantir of Orthanc, Recovered Seeing Stone might fit the theme better it's also very strong. It's up to you, but I don't think there's a great option in either of them.

Isengard
Isengard Orcs don't stack until Towers Block so they wouldn't benefit from Library of Orthanc any more than Uruk-Hai, who would definitely be able to use its hand extension and skirmish pump more effectively. I wouldn't worry about adding too much power to Uruk-hai with the Trackers since they're best used in packs. Remember that Fearing the Worst is a cheap counter to the entire collection, so I'm not sure they'll be favored over standard Uruk-hai with Keeper of Isengard.

Sack of the Shire and Suffered Much Loss (and Library of Orthanc) are cards to help Isengard in light of the advances all other cultures make in King Block so they can stay competitive. Since they're not really necessary to stay in line with the books, I wouldn't bring them into format where Isengard is already a great choice.

Moria
Terror of Flame and Shadow sounds alright to me. Since he's not fierce I wouldn't say he's necessarily stronger than the Fellowship Block Balrogs. The main distinction is that he won't disappear when doubling to site 6. The average deck might include both him and Durin's Bane for some flexibility, while beatdown Moria will be bolstered by a Balrog for the later sites.

The Moria cards which make you exert a minion were purposefully made so that you couldn't use them with all the little guys, while there are plenty of minions with some vitality you could include if you wanted to use them. Still, Host of Moria will give a bit of consistency to Moria strategies by letting them recover from Sleep, Caradhras. He might be too big for Fellowship Block, but with the other adds I doubt there's a ton of harm.

Wraith
The rings give Nazgul a bit of a boost, which I guess sounds about right.

Rohan
I mean, these cards are already in Movie block. No change here?

Sauron
I'll be honest, I've always felt Sauron was the worst shadow culture until King block. Can't see the harm in giving them anything before then from a gameplay standpoint.

Shire
Tom Bombadil and Goldberry are strong, for sure. In keeping with the format, though, there's not really any reason to exclude them. Sam sounds fine: as you mention, Son of Hamfast is hard to usurp so any thematic alternative will make the format more diverse without making it more lopsided.

I think Everyone Knows could be a worthwhile include for Towers. The reason Hobbits are discarded in Towers is they don't stand a chance otherwise: this gives them something else to lean on. The only thing is it might be too strong, and since I don't play in formats with it I can't say with any degree of confidence.

Some of this has been mulled over before, you might check out the discussion here: http://lotrtcgwiki.com/forums/index.php/topic,11468.msg95051.html#msg95051
I'll be interested to read over that topic again and see how many of my previous thoughts I've contradicted Tongue
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ArtificerAlf
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« Reply #7 on: September 22, 2019, 04:41:17 PM »

Thanks for all the time you put into answering and providing feedback. I really appreciate it. I will try to address each part in order of your comments.

First, King Book: it this just Movie Block without parts of Reflections, or do certain cards from prior sets get excluded (e.g., Boromir)?

Honestly, I'm not entirely sure about all the tweaks King Book would need, as I'm most familiar with Fellowship block. As I've gotten back into the game, I've been collecting cards from all the blocks, but the decks and strategies I've explored largely came from Fellowship. I don't think King Book is Movie, I think it's more like King Block with some extra cards added. There are some other things to consider, like removing Shelob.

The way to go, I think, would've been building each culture a generally useful card that also counters some behavior the designers want to curb, but not get rid of. Eye of Barad-dur can actually be a great choice for Sauron decks because it has another use: the only other strength-altering event available for them is Enduring Evil. Add in the extra utility in a format where Sting is legal, and it's a perfect fit for many Sauron decks. Isengard gets No Business of Ours, but Moria is still in the lurch. Maybe that's ok, though? Moria is great at adding twilight, so the loss hurts them (in general) less.

One of many casualties from having all cards legal, not much you could do about that. Hate is way better than Mordor's Strength, I'd rather use Lord of Angmar over Deathless Lord, etc.

Is the Ruling Ring ever played? And with my current look at the format, I don't think Lord of Angmar would be legal in the same format as Deathless Lord. the intent is to take each block (Fellowship, Towers, and King) and make adjustments/allotments to make the book themes stronger. So if I start with Towers Book, it's sets 4, 5, and 6 with the Towers Adventure Path and cards from other sets allowed.

I'd argue against characters who only exist as a mention of days gone by. Sauron had a physical form and I could see a reason to include him (probably only in King Book, as you mentioned), but the others is an uphill battle. I don't imagine Tolkien cared much about the implications of not writing many Dwarves into the main story, and if a format that mixes things up by staying truer to Tolkiens word is your goal then neither should you. What you could do is look towards those later sets you're hesitant to include and pull in select cards. Grimir, Thrarin, even Dwarven Warrior might give more flexibility to players who want to build a Dwarven deck without betraying the format.

Sauron's form after losing the Ring seems somewhat ambiguous, though Gollum suggests he has seen Sauron's physical form when captured in Mordor. According to some of Tolkien's letters, Sauron did have a physical form when he and Aragorn were confronting each other with the palantir. So I can see including Sauron in King Book.

I agree with your ideas about the past being in the past, especially from a book standpoint. With all the other dwarven lords outside of Durin, I could possibly see them get included in King Book, since there were many battles being fought (this is mentioned in the Appendices). In Fellowship, even Gloin mentions how a messenger of Sauron came to the Lonely Mountain looking for Baggins and the Ring. I honestly go back and forth on this one, as I enjoy playing dwarves in the Fellowship Block, as they have a lot of support there as a one-culture type of deck. So maybe I'm biased.

Dunland
I may be the minority, but I think Dunland is already an undervalued culture. It may be that they need a boost from the additions for Free Peoples cultures, but I think Freca joins Gil-Galad and Isildur as anti-thematic more than anything. Since is it a small culture you won't have any choice if Dunland just can't compete, but I'd avoid it if possible.

I'm really interested in your thought process and why you think Freca is anti-thematic. Not having played Dunland (mostly because my games have revolved around Fellowship), I am very intrigued to try them out when I start Towers. I've got my playset of Hides ready to go! It just seems like Freca gives them a boost on site control, or are you thinking they don't really need it?

Elven
You definitely need Glorfindel, but I might advise taking Eldarin Lord over Revealed in Wrath. The latter is just so good, and the former gets a nice flavor bonus from the Ranger keyword.

This might be a question you see repeated, but something I would like some insight on: what allows Glorfindel to succeed in Movie Block (which includes Reflections) that isn't included in earlier blocks? Is it the introduction of threats? I've been warned about Glorfindel before, and I get that he's a Strength 9 starting companion (at 2 twilight), but he's super thematic. Just curious why he's considering super dangerous in early blocks and not later ones.

Additionally, I'm trying to craft this format around sets 1-10. I'm not enthusiastic on the additional mechanics and keywords, and changing up all the Shadow cultures doesn't sit well with me, especially as to how I view this game through a nostalgic lens. Not saying anybody who plays the latter games is wrong! It's just not a can of worms I really want to open.

Gandalf
Radagast is, in my opinion, a format-changing card. Not a bad thing for new formats, but I'd say he's one to watch. I think it's hard to justify Keep Your Forked Tongue and Down From the Hills, especially since they're so unpopular anyway. I've played them, but I haven't seen anyone else do it. With so many other changes I think they'd just be overlooked (again). Gandalf may have ridden Shadowfax during the events of the first book, but he was also Gandalf the White during the events of the first book. Seems more thematic to leave it out.
I don't really think Ent Draught is a good fit because it plays on any companion, and I personally wouldn't waste it on a Hobbit. But that's just my opinion. The rest sound good to me.

Ironically, the only book that has a direct interaction with Radagast is Fellowship.

Are you arguing that Keep Your Forked Tongue and Down From the Hills shouldn't be played because they are bad cards? I was looking at them from a flavor perspective, and that they also give some signet support - maybe this isn't necessary though.

I'm still kind of intrigued about keeping Ent Draught in Towers Book, mostly because I'm curious to see what an Ent deck with other cultures would look like. I might be eating those words, but it's something I want to try out! This is all a big experiment anyway.

Gollum
I think Dark as Darkness is the best fit, but this is the card that opens up Lost to the Goblins turbo-corruption decks. Thematic that he fits with Moria and corruption though, right? Gollum is going to be tricky because Gollum depends so much on his support cards and aiding other Shadow cultures. Evil-smelling Fens is one of Gollum's best cards, but know that it allows a swarm to replay Messenger of Dol Guldur, Uruk-Hai to replay Keeper of Isengard, etc., as well as having Gollum left to soak up archery wounds. Give Gollum too much and power strategies are amplified; give him too little and he's useless.

Shelob is going to be another tricky one to add in. Her Ladyship will crush most strategies since they depend on one main fighter, but I guess that was the point of designing her at all. Larder is easy to stack tokens onto, hard to get rid of, and makes quick work of the secondary fighters, while Web makes her a constant threat. I don't play Movie block so I don't really know what makes her manageable, but it seems to me she's either going to be out of hand with those support cards or rarely worth playing without them. Eater of Light requires some set up, but I don't know whether the end result is still too strong. Last Child of Ungoliant is the version of her I'd feel most comfortable including with everything else, but I'd be interested to hear from someone who knows better.

I appreciate all this feedback. I'm especially intrigued by a Moria corruption deck, as I didn't know that was every really something people played.

I get that Gollum has some awesome support cards, and part of me likes that a lot from a book perspective. Gollum is tricksy and terrifying, especially when I first read the books as an 11 year old and Frodo would get a hint that Gollum was tracking him. Evil-smelling Fens is a fun inclusion for me because it also represents Gollum putting the Shadow on the trail of the Fellowship. I would be interested in seeing what Gollum cards you think warrant an inclusion for Fellowship Book.

Gondor
I still need clarity on what you mean for Boromir, but if Ring-bound is your concern what about Boromir, Steward's Heir? Alternatively, perhaps Doomed Heir sounds thematic? I think threats are a decent mechanic in general, but if only one or two cards mention them at all it's sort of awkward. The card itself isn't for Pippin's use, and while The Palantir of Orthanc, Recovered Seeing Stone might fit the theme better it's also very strong. It's up to you, but I don't think there's a great option in either of them.

The Boromir aspect was me probably writing about half-baked ideas. As I said before, the intent was to focus on sets 1-10, so a lot of the cards mentioned don't need to be included. I'm also more inclined to think that Tower Book wouldn't include Boromir, since he departs in chapter 1 of Book 3, The Departure of Boromir.

Isengard
Isengard Orcs don't stack until Towers Block so they wouldn't benefit from Library of Orthanc any more than Uruk-Hai, who would definitely be able to use its hand extension and skirmish pump more effectively. I wouldn't worry about adding too much power to Uruk-hai with the Trackers since they're best used in packs. Remember that Fearing the Worst is a cheap counter to the entire collection, so I'm not sure they'll be favored over standard Uruk-hai with Keeper of Isengard.

Sack of the Shire and Suffered Much Loss (and Library of Orthanc) are cards to help Isengard in light of the advances all other cultures make in King Block so they can stay competitive. Since they're not really necessary to stay in line with the books, I wouldn't bring them into format where Isengard is already a great choice.

As Uruks seemed like the "go-to" strategy, I didn't want to give them a larger boost. What I really would love to do for Fellowship Book is to give Isengard orcs a larger boost. It blew my mind from a design standpoint that Isengard would get orcs in Realms of the Elf Lords (and that Ringwraiths would get orcs in King, as well as Sauron getting uruks), and I would just like that strategy to shine. Since Gandalf mentions that Saruman was already hollowing Isengard while he was prisoner, pulling some Towers orcs into Fellowship wouldn't be an issue for me, but I would like to find a strategy that has some teeth. I know that orcs are already suffering from issues due to Sting and Glamdring.

Moria
Terror of Flame and Shadow sounds alright to me. Since he's not fierce I wouldn't say he's necessarily stronger than the Fellowship Block Balrogs. The main distinction is that he won't disappear when doubling to site 6. The average deck might include both him and Durin's Bane for some flexibility, while beatdown Moria will be bolstered by a Balrog for the later sites.

The Moria cards which make you exert a minion were purposefully made so that you couldn't use them with all the little guys, while there are plenty of minions with some vitality you could include if you wanted to use them. Still, Host of Moria will give a bit of consistency to Moria strategies by letting them recover from Sleep, Caradhras. He might be too big for Fellowship Block, but with the other adds I doubt there's a ton of harm.

I'm probably biased here, as Moria has always been my favorite Shadow culture. It's also my favorite part of the Fellowship, and the goblins just have a great visual aesthetic to me. It's nice that there are really only a few cards to add to try to give them a boost, so it makes it easy to try out. I don't know what else to say other than I want to try these out and see if it has a chance. Again, my main question: what does Movie Block offer to counter Host of Moria, Legion of the Underdeeps that the Fellowship Block doesn't? Just more cards for counters?

Rohan
I mean, these cards are already in Movie block. No change here?

My intent for King Book is sets 7, 8, and 10 with additions. Towers cards are not included.

Sauron
I'll be honest, I've always felt Sauron was the worst shadow culture until King block. Can't see the harm in giving them anything before then from a gameplay standpoint.

Cool, good to know. They seem very heavy condition based in Fellowship. I've always used them with a splash of another culture with the decks that I've built.

Shire
Tom Bombadil and Goldberry are strong, for sure. In keeping with the format, though, there's not really any reason to exclude them. Sam sounds fine: as you mention, Son of Hamfast is hard to usurp so any thematic alternative will make the format more diverse without making it more lopsided.

I think Everyone Knows could be a worthwhile include for Towers. The reason Hobbits are discarded in Towers is they don't stand a chance otherwise: this gives them something else to lean on. The only thing is it might be too strong, and since I don't play in formats with it I can't say with any degree of confidence.

Thanks for this feedback and support! A big motivation for doing this is because I don't want to be playing decks and messing around with formats that are considered "solved". I get that the game is old, people have their tournament reports and such, but now that I'm collecting and going down memory lane, I don't want to look up articles and see decklists of "this is the right way to play Fellowship Block, etc". Part of the thrill of games for me is to try out different strategies, or play in casual created fan formats. I'm a big Commander player for Magic, and the Star Wars Destiny game has just created a singleton-based format that shakes things up. I'm way behind on the Star Wars CCG meta and virtual cards, so anything I build with that will be a learning experience for the game itself. I don't really worry about that. It's coming back to LOTR and seeing "permanents are the best kinds of cards to play" and other generalizations that make me feel like things are "solved". Book Blocks are my way to say "let's mix and match and find new what-ifs by honoring the works Tolkien wrote"

Some of this has been mulled over before, you might check out the discussion here: http://lotrtcgwiki.com/forums/index.php/topic,11468.msg95051.html#msg95051
I'll be interested to read over that topic again and see how many of my previous thoughts I've contradicted Tongue

I appreciate this! The author is looking into some sets that I'm not really embracing, but I think they have the same kind of mindset as to what I'm going for. I'll definitely keep reading.
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ArtificerAlf
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« Reply #8 on: September 25, 2019, 01:28:30 PM »

Additionally, I'm also thinking Black Rider could be a good add for Fellowship Book. I like that it was an odd promo, but it also seems like it could support some of the giant Fellowship issues and what not that are common for the Block.
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Phallen Cassidy
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« Reply #9 on: October 02, 2019, 06:53:53 PM »

Ah, I wasn't understanding that the point is to make one format for each book. You'd think I would have made the connection! For King and Towers book, you'd want to think not only of future cards which better suit the theme, but previous cards which should be brought up. Without knowing the books very well I won't venture to guess on which cards those would be.

Is the Ruling Ring ever played?
Outside of Fellowship Block, where Isildur's Bane can have a downside for some fellowships, I'd only ever expect to see it when card pool is limited. For the cards I physically have, there are about a dozen copies of The Ruling Ring and no alternatives Wink

I agree with your ideas about the past being in the past, especially from a book standpoint. With all the other dwarven lords outside of Durin, I could possibly see them get included in King Book, since there were many battles being fought (this is mentioned in the Appendices). In Fellowship, even Gloin mentions how a messenger of Sauron came to the Lonely Mountain looking for Baggins and the Ring. I honestly go back and forth on this one, as I enjoy playing dwarves in the Fellowship Block, as they have a lot of support there as a one-culture type of deck. So maybe I'm biased.
I know you're against cards from after set 10, but the later sets draw more from the book for inspiration (since, you know, they ran out of movie). Set 14 in particular is small, but would be good to consider.

I'm really interested in your thought process and why you think Freca is anti-thematic. Not having played Dunland (mostly because my games have revolved around Fellowship), I am very intrigued to try them out when I start Towers. I've got my playset of Hides ready to go! It just seems like Freca gives them a boost on site control, or are you thinking they don't really need it?
Well, Freca isn't mentioned in the Lord of the Rings books, is he? And yes, I think he gives the culture most capable of capturing sites help which they just don't need; he's an auto-include into every Dunland deck I can imagine, including those which don't focus on site control. It's the same as The Ruling Ring vs Answer to All Riddles or Such a Weight to Carry: would you rather have Freca or Dunlending Headman?

This might be a question you see repeated, but something I would like some insight on: what allows Glorfindel to succeed in Movie Block (which includes Reflections) that isn't included in earlier blocks? Is it the introduction of threats? I've been warned about Glorfindel before, and I get that he's a Strength 9 starting companion (at 2 twilight), but he's super thematic. Just curious why he's considering super dangerous in early blocks and not later ones.
It's really just that he's so heavily under-costed, similar Galadriel, Lady Redeemed. Without any equipment it's better, but in my opinion he fills the gap which made Elves unique: they started with lots of tricks and tools, but needing other cultures to help them skirmish. Sets 9 and 10 made Elves self-reliant and invincible.

Are you arguing that Keep Your Forked Tongue and Down From the Hills shouldn't be played because they are bad cards? I was looking at them from a flavor perspective, and that they also give some signet support - maybe this isn't necessary though.
Are they really thematic to Fellowship Book, though? You can twist them into place, but is that worth doing? If it fits with what you're trying to do, then by all means throw 'em in! It just seems to be a lot of maneuvering for very little. And you're right, Ent Draught would make for interesting decks. It's not a perfectly thematic card, but I was a bit harsh on it.

I appreciate all this feedback. I'm especially intrigued by a Moria corruption deck, as I didn't know that was every really something people played.

I get that Gollum has some awesome support cards, and part of me likes that a lot from a book perspective. Gollum is tricksy and terrifying, especially when I first read the books as an 11 year old and Frodo would get a hint that Gollum was tracking him. Evil-smelling Fens is a fun inclusion for me because it also represents Gollum putting the Shadow on the trail of the Fellowship. I would be interested in seeing what Gollum cards you think warrant an inclusion for Fellowship Book.
http://lotrtcgwiki.com/forums/index.php/topic,11416.msg94745.html

I'm not sure which Gollum cards would be best, but in my opinion they'd be a little more subtle than Evil-smelling Fens. Now that I think of it, Gollum, Stinker might be interesting because corruption is so hard with the cards available in Fellowship block. Probably not be thematic, though. We Must Have It is neat because it shows how Gollum has a singular focus, potentially at the cost of whatever else you're trying to do. Look At Him has an air of Gollum plotting in the background; not directly hindering The Fellowship but opening the door to more evil. Slippery as Fishes? Trouble with all of these is it's still difficult to justify making room in a deck for Gollum without direct help to your shadow side. He's good for absorbing arrows, but he really needs a great card such as Evil-smelling Fens to be worth having. As I said, it'll be tricky to balance the impact to keep it somewhere other than "none" and "extreme." Or hey, maybe I'm overreacting.

The Boromir aspect was me probably writing about half-baked ideas. As I said before, the intent was to focus on sets 1-10, so a lot of the cards mentioned don't need to be included. I'm also more inclined to think that Tower Book wouldn't include Boromir, since he departs in chapter 1 of Book 3, The Departure of Boromir.
I don't know much, but isn't that the start of The Two Towers? I think it'd be thematic to have him in there, and if you don't want to include some of his more ominous subtitles from later sets then any of his Fellowship Block versions would be fine. Or if you don't think it'd make sense to have him at all, that's fine too.

As Uruks seemed like the "go-to" strategy, I didn't want to give them a larger boost. What I really would love to do for Fellowship Book is to give Isengard orcs a larger boost. It blew my mind from a design standpoint that Isengard would get orcs in Realms of the Elf Lords (and that Ringwraiths would get orcs in King, as well as Sauron getting uruks), and I would just like that strategy to shine. Since Gandalf mentions that Saruman was already hollowing Isengard while he was prisoner, pulling some Towers orcs into Fellowship wouldn't be an issue for me, but I would like to find a strategy that has some teeth. I know that orcs are already suffering from issues due to Sting and Glamdring.
Then, in my opinion, it's more a question of which Isengard Orc cards from Towers to leave out rather than which to put in. Off the top of my head, you probably wouldn't want the card stacking conditions/possession, any card featuring Wargs, or any card referencing site control. A closer inspection would probably be necessary on what remains.

I'm probably biased here, as Moria has always been my favorite Shadow culture. It's also my favorite part of the Fellowship, and the goblins just have a great visual aesthetic to me. It's nice that there are really only a few cards to add to try to give them a boost, so it makes it easy to try out. I don't know what else to say other than I want to try these out and see if it has a chance. Again, my main question: what does Movie Block offer to counter Host of Moria, Legion of the Underdeeps that the Fellowship Block doesn't? Just more cards for counters?
It opens up a recursion that didn't exist before by allowing conditions (indeed, almost anything) to be played from discard. This is "countered" in Movie Block by the fact that all Free Peoples cultures were getting stronger over the psat 6 sets, whereas Moria had been actively hindered by Decipher (except Cavern Entrance in Towers) until set 9, to encourage more variety. If the Free Peoples cultures all get a bump then this makes sense to include, but it's something to be aware of.

Black Rider I'm a little biased against because it solves problems for one of the popular Shadow cultures. But, as with Host of Moria, if everyone else is getting a boost then this is probably warranted.
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