by John McClellan
- Player Card Categories
- Quest Control
- Willpower Bonus
I tried to pick a card that perhaps falls somewhere in the 6 – 8 Rings range. 1 Ring cards are easy to discuss, based on their versatility and lore, and 10s challenge the reviewer to come up with some possible use and to otherwise complain. Easy pickins! Anyhow, I tried to think of a card I have included sporadically and what it’s possible utilization could be.
Here comes Windfola. The reason I have placed this in the lower tier range of rings is due to the cons outweighing the pros. Let us explore:
Windfola is the steed Eowyn took to battle secretly in the ride of the Rohirrim to save Gondor at Pelennor Fields. It carried Eowyn and Merry up until encountering the Witch-King, whose screech made the horse go wild. The horse abandoned the pair, and as far as I can tell is not seen in the text again.
Now, let’s review how Windfola works in practice. First, he can only be attached to a spirit hero or to tactics Eowyn. Very appropriate so far. Now, it does exclude tactics Merry, which in gameplay is fine because it does not sync well with him. It also cannot be attached to ally Merry, which is just as well, as he works best if he can pop into play multiple times. Let’s examine, then, how well Windfola syncs with the three heroes most associated with him: Spirit Eowyn, Tactics Eowyn, and Spirit Merry.
Spirit Eowyn syncs very well with Windfola. First, Eowyn’s ability specifically targets her willpower,and she, in the vast majority of cases, will be questing. Windfola first gives a boost to her willpower and prevents her from being taken out of the quest. Further, Eowyn is hardly ever the target of restricted attachments beyond willpower boosts or quest specific items, so she is happy to take this cheap attachment as one of her two given restricted slots.
Tactics Eowyn is a bit of a different story. At this point, Windfola is out of sphere, so either another spirit hero is needed (precluding some other cross-sphere combo) , or some help is needed across the table. Tactics Eowyn definitely wants Golden Shield and isn’t necessarily the dedicated quester her spirit counterpart is. Sure, to bring her to solid combat readiness, you might need to bring Unexpected Courage or Herugrim, both of which are blue cards, but it might take a while on the list of cards before you get to Windfola. Worse yet, Windfola takes up that one restricted slot, and unless you are running Eowyn in a three hunters deck, you can pretty much kiss her usefulness outside the quest phase (save once per game) goodbye … which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, if you are setting her up as splash red hero who can quest. Still, Windfola doesn’t seem to mesh nearly as well with this version of Eowyn.
Spirit Merry is perhaps the worst candidate of the three. Spirit Merry thrives when he has his Hobbit Pony, as you would like to decide in the moment whether you would like a threat drop or need a little extra push in the quest phase. Windfola assumes you are going to quest with this hero without a shadow of a doubt. In fact, you are in such need of this hero to quest, you are willing to take a restricted slot in order to guarantee that hero stays committed, encounter cards be damned. Now, I should point out that if you are running an all-hobbit lineup, Windfola on Merry with Elevenses is a fairly decent combo.(Still, the action windows and card text prevent you from being able to trigger Merry in addition to Elevenses and Windfola at the same time). Still, reading the card text on Merry, Hobbit Pony, and Windfola shows that while it isn’t the worst combo in the world, you will be better off in all cases without one of the attachments.
Since Spirit Eowyn is the only efficient candidate of the five character choices associated with the lore of the card, I rate it low in this category.
One final note. I think Windfola is missing one clause that could bump it into 5 or even 4 ring territory. Right at the end, include the text, “Then, you may discard Windfola to ready the attached hero.” This line improves all of the four cons I’ve held against it: One, it is right in line with the lore: the steed abandons them right in time for battle, for which they are now ready. It sits well with a Tactics Eowyn with a Golden Shield or a Spirit Merry now ready to jump on the next enemy that flips from the encounter deck. The ability allows for an easy restriction removal, when appropriate, while giving the added benefit of a second action. Players would actually bring 3 copies of Windfola, hoping to trigger it multiple times to recommit and ready with a back up in hand. It behaves as a willpower boost and a conditional ready, improving its versatility. It had potential to be solid, albeit with a specific trigger in mind.
Card Synergies and Interactions
I’ve mentioned it already, but unless you are running a Forth! The Three Hunters contract or the Golden Belt, you are only working with two restricted attachments per hero. There are certainly restricted attachments that see less play than Windfola, but according to the Hall of Beorn, this is the 6th ranked restricted steed out of the 9 (I should note that the last place, Tireless Thoroughbred, is probably ranked lowest due to release date). These restricted slots are precious, and give way to some of the most powerful boosts in the game. The restricted guarded take an extra element to get into play but (1) cost the same as Windfola (2) usually give a bigger boost and (3) have an ability that is generally useful and not quest specific. Armored Destrier essentially gives two defenses, one for free, and two defenses are needed much more often than two quests from the same character. Most see some kind of conditional, secondary boosts that would have been great to see here (“+2 willpower if attached hero is Merry or Eowyn”).
I will admit later that the cost of 1-for-1 willpower is enough to convince individuals it’s worth including in decks. Addressing the issue of uniqueness, how many copies do you dare bring? I know this is a constant battle for unique cards but some uniques you don’t even question (Steward of Gondor, Gandalf’s Staff in a Gandalf deck, you get the drill). Once you play Windfola, what do you do with the next one you draw? Well, if you are playing with Spirit Eowyn, great, more willpower. That’s about it. You would love to see a 1-for-1 boost that could be stacked. This would be one of the best willpower attachments in the game. For now, you might sprinkle in a single copy, MAYBE two into a deck featuring a Spirit, questing hero.
Now it does have some good economic value. How often will you win a quest by one willpower? Perhaps more than you might think. “Just one more point… one more to clear that location… one more to clear that quest card. Come on, where can we find one more willpower? Anything??” Yes I think we have all said it. Said it enough times that when you are running a spirit quester, you glance at Windfola and it gives you pause. Should you just throw it in? Sure. One copy. Go. I know there are plenty of deckbuilders who cringe at that idea, who like to squeeze every last deck thinning card in. I am not one of those deckbuilders. I like to include some generic boosts. That being said, I usually will opt for 2-for-2 instead of 1-for-1 for no real reason. I find myself including 2 cost 2 willpower allies instead of Windfola.
How niche is it? Well, okay, in a Forth! The Three Hunters deck that includes a Spirit hero, Windfola is in auto-include. Why? Either its a 0-for-1 (and soon 2) deal, or it’s a 1-for-2 deal if the contract is flipped. That spirit hero is going to be questing for you, I am sure (unless…you brought Beregond?) and you don’t have the luxury of including 2-for-2 allies any more. You also cannot remove that hero from the quest… it would be devastating. Windfola keeps you Spirit Hunter dedicated to it.
Particular quests can devastate you with quest removal. Notice that Windfola doesn’t PREVENT quest removal, but allows it and then triggers a request. This nuance is important because if an encounter card allows you to remove a questing character as an option, take it! I am looking at Inner Flame and Inner Shadow from the Shadow and Flame quest, Stars in Sky from Druadan Forest, and I am sure there’s more.
Is someone bringing Elfhelm? And you have a spirit hero? Windfola without a question.
In a combo I’d like to see, other commit triggers also are re-established. Let’s just assume we can get Song of Travel on the appropriate heroes. Tactics Bilbo gets a massive willpower boost and can lay some serious damage in the staging area. Leadership Frodo can ready two heroes and lower your threat by two. Theodred can give more money, Lotheriel can get another ally into play, Eomer can strike again, and Legolas can ready another. It takes some finagling but for one cost, who wouldn’t want to try?
Card Talk uses the highly scientific yet arbitrary scale of 1 ring for the card to rule them all to 10 to be cast back into the fiery chasm from whence it came.
In the end, you are not running this card without a spirit hero, and that has to earn it some rings out the gate. You ARE running this card if you are running a spirit questing hero in a three hunters deck, or against a scenario that has devastating hero removal from quests. It loses some rings from the bottom 10 for that. The economics allow for some splashing in spirit hero decks, and when you come back to Core Eowyn, you get a nod of approval from fellow players when they see you play Windfola on his rider.
- John – 7
- Dave – TBR
- Grant – TBR
- Ted – TBR
- Matt – TBR
- Average – 7