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CardShark Content - Enrique Huerta (12/18/2002)

ello All!!

This card may not be played in multiplayer games.

Almost immediately players commented that this ruling was too strict and unnecessary. At first it seemed hard to understand why this card was singled but. What was so special about it that was deemed too powerful for the multiplayer format? The first thing I will do is explain the gametext of the card and the designer's intent of the card. Secondly, I will explain why this ruling was made. Finally, I'll explain how the ruling changed for the better.

Twilight Cost: 0
Plays to your support area.
At the start of each of your Shadow phases, if the fellowship is at site 7T, 8T, or 9T and the twilight pool has fewer than 7 twilight tokens, you may add 8.
Skirmish: Discard this condition to make a [Raider] Man strength +2.

Basically, if after the fellowship moved to site 7T, 8T, or 9T and there was less than 7 twilight in the pool, the Shadow player could add 8 to the pool. In case the fellowship was at other sites, or the twilight pool wasn't lower than 7, Ithilien Wilderness also has the skirmish action to add strength to a Raider Culture man. (To be clear, this card was reviewed by the design team because of gametext about adding twilight to the pool, NOT because of the skirmish action.) (=

The idea of this card was to help shadow decks against fellowship decks that focused on twilight denial. As the fellowship moves along the adventure path, the twilight pool generally gets higher and higher to represent the growing danger to the ring-bearer. But with a twilight denial deck, a player can almost negate this inherent part of the game and prevent a Shadow player from putting up any kind of resistance against the fellowship.

For example consider a deck that plays with multiple copies of No
Stranger to Shadows for 4 rangers and a Bill the Pony for Frodo. Moving into Site 7T the Shadow player may only get 6-7 twilight to work with against as many as 5-6 companions (Total -5 modification to the site's Shadow number).
One maybe two minions can be played. If they are defeated and the fellowship moves again only 5-6 twilight will be added back into the twilight pool.

Ithilien Wilderness was designed to help prevent that from happening to a Shadow player. Notice that a Ithilien Wilderness does NOT have any culture requirements. Any deck can add it and make use of it's anti-denial gametext. Also, it is not a given that it will always add 8 to the twilight pool. A fellowship deck that does not focus heavily on denial will rarely fall below 7 twilight while moving to sites 7T, 8T, or 9T and SHOULD not have to worry about an extra 8 twilight tokens suddenly being added to the twilight pool.But here is the problem that the game designers faced.

In a multiplayer game, a single Free People's Player (FPP) has as many as 3 opponents. Assuming a non-twilight denial deck moves to site 7T-9T, the average twilight in the pool will be 10-12 tokens (well out of the range of Ithilien Wilderness on normal play). The first shadow player will be able to play cards normally without a problem. Depending on the game, that can mean a large or small amount of twilight left for the other Shadow players, but in reality a balanced mechanic for the FPP. But if the second or third Shadow player has Ithilien Wilderness active when it becomes their Shadow phase, and there is less than 7 twilight tokens in the pool, suddenly there is another 8 tokens added and that means 2-3 more minions the fellowship will have to face. (And don't even get me started on what happens if Shadow player is playing Moria!) (=

Ithilien Wilderness triggers off of the start of the owner's Shadow
phase. So if the other Shadow players used up the twilight pool it would
mean that another 8 would always be added back into the pool at no fault of the FPP. The added twilight would almost always happen, which in effect would mean every site is +8 to its Shadow number. Ithilien Wilderness became too powerful in multiplayer because it was arbitrarily hurting the FPP at each late site (7T-9T) for a reason that it was not designed to do. Many players pointed out that because it was unique this would only happen once a turn and in reality wasn't all that bad. (´´Who plays multiplayer without some form of condition removal?!´´) Uniqueness was not an issue for the design team. The fact that it could happen at all was the problem. A fix was necessary, but it had to done in such a way as to not reduce the effectiveness in 1 vs. 1 format.

The original fix, as stated above, was to simply remove it from
multiplayer format, thus solving the problem of multiplayer and keeping the card viable for normal play. But to the many that played multiplayer this was unfair and too strict. (And judging from the number of comments, there are a lot more people playing multiplayer than was originally thought!) (=
So the design team took a second look at the card and determined a new fix to the problem.

Plays to your support area.
At the end of each phase during which the fellowship moved to 7T, 8T or 9T, and the twilight pool has fewer than 7 twilight tokens, you may add (8).
Skirmish: Discard this condition to make a [Raider] Man strength +2.

This new fix triggers at the end of the phase in which the fellowship
moved, not the start of the owner's Shadow phase. So in normal play there is almost no difference to the card's function and usefulness. The big
difference is in multiplayer, where one Shadow player can no longer use up the available twilight and then have 8 more twilight added to the pool by another Shadow player on their turn. Only if after the fellowship has
completed the move and there is less than 7 tokens in the twilight pool will the Shadow player be able to add 8 to the pool. This re-wording also means the gametext of Ithilien Wilderness can trigger on a ´´double move´´, which occurs in the regroup phase, (other early suggestions included it only triggering during the first Shadow phase of the turn.) without any game mechanic problems. Thus Ithilien Wilderness is once again allowed in
multiplayer games and the original intent is maintained for all formats!

In the end, the design team has listened to all sides of the story and
has done what it thinks is best for everyone. Thank you and I hope to see
you in a MULTIPLAYER tournament sometime soon. (=

Enrique Huerta
Bravo 64, ´´Max of Tat´´
Rider of Rohan, ´´Úlairë Enriquë´´
Shadow 16

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