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October 09, 2021, 03:01:47 PM
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Inspire

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Wraiths of the Dead Marshes
« on: October 09, 2021, 03:01:47 PM »
Below is an attempt to design a sub-culture around the three [Sauron] Wraiths released with Ents of Fangorn: Corpse Lights, Dead Ones, and Wisp of Pale Sheen.  Note that I primarily envisioned these for play in the Towers Standard and Towers Block formats.

[4] Flickering Phantoms [Sauron]
Minion • Wraith
Strength: 8
Vitality: 2
Site: 4
Twilight. When you play this minion, if you can spot more [Sauron] Wraiths than burdens, add a burden.
Skirmish: Spot a [Sauron] Wraith skirmishing and remove a burden to resolve the current skirmish in favor of the side with the lowest strength.

Designer's note: Including a relevant excerpt from the rulebook for reference: "If the total strength of one side is at least double the total strength of the other side, all the characters on the losing side are killed (regardless of how many wounds or how much vitality each has).". Therefore, a 5 strength minion would overwhelm a 10 strength companion when this ability is used.

[3] Ghostly Visage [Sauron]
Minion • Wraith
Strength: 7
Vitality: 2
Site: 4
Twilight. When you play this minion, if you can spot more [Sauron] Wraiths than burdens, add a burden.
Response: If a [Sauron] Wraith is about to take a wound, remove a burden or discard this minion to prevent that wound.

[2] Grim Faces [Sauron]
Minion • Wraith
Strength: 6
Vitality: 2
Site: 4
Twilight.
Skirmish: Remove a burden to play a [Sauron] Wraith from your discard pile.
Skirmish: Remove a burden and spot [Sauron] Wraith not assigned to a skirmish to have it replace a [Sauron] Wraith in a skirmish.

[4] Shifting Spectre [Sauron]
Minion • Wraith
Strength: 7
Vitality: 2
Site: 4
Twilight. When you play this minion, you may reveal a [Sauron] Wraith from your hand or your discard pile. This minion gains the game text of that card until the end of the turn. 
"‘...here and there they twisted like ghostly sheets unfurled by hidden hands.'"

[5] Fell Lights [Sauron]
Minion • Wraith
Strength: 9
Vitality: 3
Site: 4
Twilight.
Assignment: Make the Free Peoples player spot 4 companions. You may assign a [Sauron] Wraith to a companion which was not spotted.
"'The tricksy lights. Candles of corpses, yes, yes. Don't you heed them!'"

[2] Swirling Shadows [Sauron]
Minion • Wraith
Strength: 6
Vitality: 2
Site: 4
Twilight. Each time a burden is removed, you may discard a [Sauron] Wraith to add a burden.
"'You cannot reach them, you cannot touch them…'"

(0) Mere of the Dead [Sauron]
Condition • Support Area
While you can spot a [Sauron] Wraith, Free Peoples cards may not modify the twilight cost of your [Sauron] cards.
Skirmish: If you cannot spot a burden, spot a [Sauron] Wraith and discard this condition to add a burden.

[1] Mired [Sauron]
Condition • Support Area
Assignment: Spot 2 [Sauron] Wraiths and discard this condition to resolve all skirmishes in an order determined by the first Shadow player until the regroup phase. The Free Peoples player may add 2 burdens to prevent this.
"...he was crawling on the ground, this way and that, doubtful of the way…"

(0) Mesmerized [Sauron]
Event • Skirmish
Make a [Sauron] Wraith strength +3 (or strength -1). The Free Peoples player may add 2 burdens to prevent this.
"Suddenly he stumbled against Frodo, who was standing lost in thought, looking at the pale lights. His hands hung stiff at his sides..."

[1] Treacherous Passage [Sauron]
Event • Maneuver
Exert a [Sauron] Wraith and spot a companion to discard up to two possessions borne by that companion. The Free Peoples player may add 2 burdens to prevent this.
"Often they floundered, stepping or falling hands-first into waters as noisome as a cesspool."

(0) Dimly Shining Smoke [Sauron]
Event • Shadow or Skirmish
Remove a burden to play a [Sauron] Wraith from your discard pile. That minion's twilight cost is -2 (or -3 if during the skirmish phase).
"He first saw one with the corner of his left eye, a wisp of pale sheen that faded away; but others appeared soon after..."

(0) Marshes of Dagorlad [Sauron]
Event • Shadow
The Free Peoples player may discard any number of cards from his or her support area. Spot a [Sauron] Wraith to draw X cards, where X is the number of cards remaining in the Free Peoples player's support area.
"The travellers were light, or maybe none of them would ever have found a way through."

Designer notes:
This exercise began with the question "What if Dead Ones was actually good?", and ultimately evolved into an entire sub-culture. As the only [Sauron] Wraith capable of dealing multiple wounds in a single skirmish (aside from Shifting Spectre cloning Dead Ones) and the most reliable path to overwhelming companions, Dead Ones is intended to be the star of the show for [Sauron] Wraiths. The rest of the supporting cast looks to manipulate the assignment and skirmish phases to allow Dead Ones to attack vulnerable companions. Despite the reliance on burdens for many key special abilities, [Sauron] Wraiths have little ability to reliably have more than a couple burdens on the Ring-bearer at a given time, and must instead force the Free Peoples player into difficult decisions that might result in additional burdens.

Although the original three [Sauron] Wraiths released with Ents of Fangorn contemplated potential synergies with twilight Nazgul, I didn't see an obvious fit, particularly since Twilight Nazgul are a fully actualized and viable sub-culture. As a result, these cards define the sub-culture using "[Sauron] Wraith" (as opposed to Decipher's use of "twilight minion") in order to save a few characters (particularly important given how wordy a few of the cards are).

« Last Edit: October 10, 2021, 08:54:44 AM by Inspire »

October 15, 2021, 07:50:53 PM
Reply #1

Phallen Cassidy

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Re: Wraiths of the Dead Marshes
« Reply #1 on: October 15, 2021, 07:50:53 PM »
Neat thoughts! I worry that Flickering Phantoms, Shifting Spectre, and Dimly Shining Smoke mean you'll always have the ability and burdens to "win" skirmishes at will, which is unmatched wound prevention to keep your minions' vitality safe. Combined that with the new number of twilight minions and the ability to play any of them at any time, and this strategy puts the FP in an extremely awkward position of needing several low strength companions that can be buffed arbitrarily in order to avoid overwhelming Dead Ones and being overwhelmed by Corpse Lights. You also have to be able to take all those wounds site after site. Appropriately this makes Smeagol, Slinker the perfect companion for the job, but everybody else is in trouble. Then again, even Slinker loses access to Don't Follow the Lights and Not Listening which are both key for the deck.

In the end though, I think the raw wounding of Dead Ones plus Flickering Phantoms is going to be the real killer. It doesn't cost much twilight, doesn't need many burdens, and the FP must bring very specific cards (direct wounding or skirmish cancelling) to do anything about it. You've definitely succeeded in making Dead Ones scary!

Interestingly, overwhelm prevention from Coat of Mail or Bounder would create a second criteria and prevent any overwhelm from Flickering Phantoms since you'd need to have both half the strength and three times the strength of a companion at the same time (and a character with 0 strength cannot overwhelm another character with 0 strength). So I guess there's hope there, haha.

October 23, 2021, 03:09:45 PM
Reply #2

Inspire

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Re: Wraiths of the Dead Marshes
« Reply #2 on: October 23, 2021, 03:09:45 PM »
Thanks for the comments! After reading your thoughts, I tend to agree that a couple tweaks would be needed to bring their effectiveness down a notch, particularly considering the intended format. I do think that Free Peoples' ability to control the skirmish order, along with the constraints on the number of burdens the Shadow player can reliably add at one time, will help limit the damage it can deal out - but as you fairly point out, the Shadow player does have a number of tools to work around those weaknesses as currently presented.

And interesting thought on Bounder & Coat of Mail - I hadn't considered that interaction, but I agree with your interpretation.