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The Raiders - Southrons and Easterlings, Men drawn to Sauron's cause by honeyed words, old hatred, and the promise of riches - are used to strengthen the army of fell creatures with which the Lord of the Ring plans to wipe clean the kingdoms of the west. Mercenaries and archers, they are full of tricks, and their presence not only hampers Frodo as he moves towards the Dark Tower, but threatens the armies of Gondor as well.
The Raiders didn't get much screen time in The Two Towers, but Decipher has managed to draw not just a full culture, but two distinct sub-cultures from the images available. While they haven't to date seen much top level play as a single-culture Shadow side, they're very popular in casual play, and some excellent combinations with other cultures has made their presence felt on the tournament scene. The advent of The Battle of Helm's Deep expansion, and the skirmish-winning presence of mumaks, is sure to make the Raiders popular as a single-culture Shadow side at the top level too.
The “pay a cost to wound” minions, such as Desert Spearman and Desert Warrior, can be effectively splashed into many shadow sides, and make a particularly powerful combination with a Sauron Hate strategy (a popular pairing in recent tournaments). This can be a very twilight-intensive strategy, but as much of this twilight is used after the shadow phase, the Raider's ambush capabilities can make it much more viable than it would otherwise be.
Another common pairing are the burden-adding Easterlings, such as Easterling Lieutenant and Easterling Guard, with the Nazgul that make use of burdens (Ulaire Toldea, Ulaire Enquea). The lower-cost Easterlings can make it much easier to get multiple minions out each turn, putting more pressure on the Ring-bearer, while making the powerful Nazgul more effective by triggering their game text more often. There are a number of Raider support cards for this strategy, such as Gathering to the Summons and Vision From Afar, and when it works it can be quite effective.
The final popular splash minions are the Southron archers. With a number of cost-effective minions, they can be added to a traditional archery deck, such as Moria archery or Uruk archery, particularly if you desire to avoid some of the more damaging combinations specific to each culture that can sometimes be difficult to pull off. One of the more popular recent combinations however is adding Southron Archers to a site control deck, leading to potentially very large amounts of minion archery late in the game.
Fun to play, able to surprise with events and directed wounding, and now able to win skirmishes and be fierce as well, Raiders will soon be a common sight in organized play. March on the armies of the Haradrim!
One of the many aspects of the Lord of the Rings Trading Card Game that the TCG Studio felt we didn't utilize to its fullest in Fellowship block was the twilight pool. Since the presence of Easterlings and Southrons created a feeling of 'danger' when seen on screen in the film, it only felt right to have this culture be the one that explores the twilight pool further in Tower block.
The Premise: Expensive and Powerful
When examining other cultures, you'll find that most do not have twilight costs on the high level that the Raider culture has. In fact, you'll notice that almost all Raider cards have some sort of twilight cost to them, nothing is free. If you do find something that is free, it's probably only adding twilight pool and nothing more.
While all these cards were being created, there was no mechanic actually creating any of the danger or suspense we were trying to simulate from the film.
The Birth of Ambush
I had the thesaurus in front of me when I suggested the word. Half the team laughed at me. “Did you see what happened to these guys in the movie? They don't ambush, they get ambushed!” I plugged the word and mechanic onto the cards though and waited for someone to volunteer a better suggestion. Tom Lischke presented a word that I had never heard of before, and while it did have some support in the group, Ambush eventually came out ahead.
At early points in the design process many of the ambush numbers on the cards you have right now were higher by up to two twilight tokens. Testing proved this to be too advantageous, however, and the ambush numbers were lowered. Looking back it seems obvious now that these minions who actually netted you pool after you played them for only one or two tokens was a bit much. I think one element the Raiders suffered from in the first Tower block set was enough weaponry that took advantage of this pool. Enter Battle of Helm's Deep.
And these guys are only another step in the process. More are coming in [[Ents of Fangorn]], and who knows what will come for them in the years to come. Looking back, it's a [[culture|culture]] I'm very happy with. They have a unique feel that other [[culture|cultures]] in the game don't have and I feel safe in saying it's a [[culture|culture]] we'll have no problems designing lots of interesting cards for in the future.