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In my previous article, I went over how to corrupt using the Nazgul and now, I shall go in to the ways of keeping the Nine alive to reach the all-important skirmish phase, so that they will be able to perform the various skirmish-related corruption processes.
First off, many has been the time that one of the Nine that needed to be able to exert had arrived to the skirmish phase exhausted through archery (indirect or direct) or because a Release the Angry Flood hit them. So, let us look at the ways that the Nazgul prevent and heal wounds:
1. All Blades Perish – This zero-cost response event is commonly used to soak up archery wounds, and thus, gives rise to its other name of “All Arrows Perish”. Bear in mind that it is an event, so it is good for only one wound.
2. His Terrible Servants – This condition is a great boon to a corruption strategy using the Nine. For a cost of 1 twilight, you can prevent 1 wound on a twilight Nazgul. Your strategy is obviously going to be focused around the twilight versions of the Nine (see previous article), so this card is an absolute must! It is extremely cost efficient, and as it is a condition, it can be used again and again as long as you can pay for it.
3. Not Easily Destroyed – This condition is slightly different than His Terrible Servants. During the Maneuver or Skirmish phases, remove 3 twilight to heal a Nazgul. Note well that last part of the sentence: HEAL a Nazgul. This is the only card that will actually remove wounds to one of the Nine. It will not prevent a wound so if a Nazgul takes too much damage, this will not save him from being discarded (as this is not a valid response to taking a wound). It will, however, allow your Nazgul to be able to exert or possibly survive a skirmish that it has lost. For cards such as A Ranger’s Versatility that exhaust a minion, this is the only way to bring a Nazgul’s health up. Exhausting a minion is not wounding that minion, so neither His Terrible Servants nor All Blades Perish will protect that minion. This card, however, demands a heavy sacrifice: 3 twilight for each heal. This gets very expensive very fast. This card’s downside can be mitigated with cards such as The Ring Draws Them (add 1 twilight for each burden you can spot), but be aware that TRDT requires an exertion to keep it in play, thus, you will need to be adding at least 3 twilight each time the fellowship moves in order to break even.
Now, let us look at the ways of ensuring that the Black Riders reach the Skirmish phase. Too many times has Aragorn with his bow and Legolas, Greenleaf killed the Witch-King and other Nazgul before they even reached the Skirmish phase, so let us look at the disruption of archery:
1. Wreathed in Shadow – This condition costs zero and just requires you to spot a Nazgul. For a cost of 1 twilight, you can reduce the fellowship archery total by 1. You can do this repeatedly as long as you can pay for this. Bear in mind that this only works against indirect archery, and not the directed archery, such as when Legolas, Greenleaf uses his special game text. With cards such as Gondor Bowmen and Hand Axe, this card does have its uses, but not the best choice in my opinion.
2. Relentless Charge – Now, we come to one of my favorite cards. For a mere cost of exerting a Black Rider during the Maneuver phase, you wound every archer companion. Note well the latter part: EVERY archer companion. What is better than an exhausted Legolas and Aragorn? A very, very dead Legolas and Aragorn. So, hold on to a couple of these, place the Witch-King in front and let them exhaust themselves killing him. Next shadow phase, play one of the Nine and then play these cards to kill them! This strategy only fails if they are able to heal all the way next turn (or they exhaust all your Nazgul so they can not exert). Against the non-unique elves with Elven Bows, play these as soon as you have two in hand to eliminate them all! Then, you won’t have to worry about the Archery phase. While a great card, this will not protect you against cards such as Gondor Bowmen and Hand Axe, because these cards do not make any of the fellowship an archer; they just add to the archery total.
Once you do reach the skirmish phase, the fellowship often has many toys, such as sword and burning twigs that can deeply hurt the Nine, so let us now turn our attention to the breaking of toys:
1. Stricken Dumb – This Maneuver event has a twilight cost of 2 and requires exerting of the Witch King, but will discard a weapon or a tale. So with this, you can get rid of Aragorn’s Bow before Aragorn can have an opportunity to use it, or dispose of a sword or Flaming Brand prior to the fellowship using it.
2. Beauty Is Fading – This Maneuver event has an expensive cost of 5 and also requires an exertion of a Nazgul. This card, while very expensive, is more useful in that any Nazgul can be exerted, but can get rid of a possession or condition, or if you can’t spot either of those two, an ally or companion (except the ring-bearer). Due to its high cost, I would recommend only the maximum use of one or two in the deck. Its high cost is the equivalent of playing one of the Nine, but it can turn the tide of battle into your favor.
3. Ulaire Cantea – My namesake has the ability to exert to discard weapons being carried by a character he is skirmishing. For 5 twilight, you get a 10 power, 3 vitality, and fierce minion. While he is not a twilight Nazgul, he is worthy of addition to a deck for the simple reason that he can break weapons. Just bear in mind that he must reach the skirmish phase in a healthy state.
Mark well these lessons, for they shall ensure your ability to corrupt the ring-bearer. My parting warning is this: Beware of the passing of the ring! Often, the fellowship will throw Frodo in front of the Nine to die when he gets near his Resistance limit, with the intent of passing the ring to Samwise. This must not be allowed to happen! Let not your efforts be in vain! Make sure Samwise has a terrible accident early or is rendered Helpless. Until next time, I bid you farewell from the halls of Minas Morgul.
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