While strolling one afternoon a parcel came out of the sky. It was a message from non other than the Wind Lord himself and it came with a neat idea. When he’s not musing about deck lists it turns out that Gwaihir likes to take a look at some of the Objective-Allies with whom he has gone on adventures. Read on to see his take on Grimbeorn the Old, the objective ally from the Conflict at the Carrock AP:
Greetings from the Windlord! I understand that my only content on this blog thus far has consisted of decks, and I wish to expand outwards from this. Circling over my card collection, I realized that one card type in particular has always caught my attention: the objective-ally. Although featured in every cycle, I have yet to encounter a full-fledged review of even one. Therefore, I have decided to embark upon a quest to review each objective-ally in depth, beginning with an explanation of the lore behind the character and then analyzing the card’s utility and function in the game. Each card will receive two ratings: thematic relevance and utility. The former simply measures the objective-ally’s trueness to Professor Tolkien’s world while the latter rates the card’s usefulness over the course of a game.
This shall not be an easy endeavor, nor a short one (though I hope to finish in less time than it took Bilbo to go there and back again); there are seventeen different objective-allies released to date, beginning with Grimbeorn the Old from the Shadows of Mirkwood cycle and ending with Amarthiùl of the current Angmar Awakened cycle. Need brooks no delay – let us begin at once! [sorry for the delay on my part in getting this posted! -Secondhand Took]
Little is known of Grimbeorn. He is almost as enigmatic as our good friend Tom Bombadil and most certainly mentioned less in The Lord of the Rings. He is the son of Beorn and became a great chieftain of his skin-changing people, the Beornings, once his father died (sometime between Third Age 2941 and 3018). He dwelt at the Carrock, a river landmark in the northern part of the Anduin River, and ruled over the Vale of the Anduin between the Misty Mountains to the east and Mirkwood forest to the west. It was said that no Orc or Wolf under the service of Sauron dared to enter his domain. Travelers in Grimbeorn’s land were required to pay a toll for safe passage through the Vale. As I mentioned previously, Grimbeorn was a Beorning, a name presumably given to all the descendents of Beorn. These people could change into the form of a bear and were related to other Men of the surrounding area. Not much more than this is known about Grimbeorn and his people, but it is enough information for the creation of the objective-ally found in The Conflict at the Carrock, the second adventure pack in the Shadows of Mirkwood cycle. In this scenario, Grimbeorn functions as the keeper of the Carrock whom we as the heroes must find before he engages in combat with four deadly trolls. As the guardian of the Vale of the Anduin, it is perfectly understandable that he would want to rid his realm of intruders, and this could reasonably serve as a diversion from the heroes’ main quest in the cycle: track and capture the creature Gollum. Beorn was easily angered, and it is reasonable to me that his son would be enraged to find trolls wandering about his realm. Therefore, Grimbeorn the Old seems accurately represented in our beloved card game and true to Professor Tolkien’s vision of him.
Thematic Relevance: 5 out 5
In terms of raw stats, Grimbeorn is more powerful than the average hero. He boasts 2 willpower, 4 attack, 3 defense, 10 hit points, and doesn’t exhaust when defending against trolls. While it is possible to defeat the four trolls without him, it certainly becomes much less nerve-wracking when this Beorning is around. If healing is accessible, Grimbeorn can become the automatic defender of any and all trolls as long he keeps healthy. When it comes to attacking, he is almost invaluable, as 4 attack is capable of penetrating any troll’s defense (exempting Nightmare mode). And, in a tight spot, one could even commit Grimbeorn to the quest for a round boost of two willpower. Whatever function he might serve, Grimbeorn is most certainly a powerful team player.
Grimbeorn the Old is perhaps the oddest of the objective-allies in terms of setup and acquisition. He is one of only three objective-allies to be shuffled into the encounter deck and one of two that requires the players to “pay” for him before he joins the first player, assuming he is drawn at all! He reads,
“If Grimbeorn the Old has 8 or more resource tokens on him, he joins the first player as an ally.
Action: Spend 1 Leadership resource to place that resource on Grimbeorn the Old.”
Before this can occur, however, Grimbeorn the Old must be located. Only one copy is included in the encounter deck that ranges between 41 and 44 cards, depending on the number of players. In a solo game, there is a measly 2.43% chance of drawing Grimbeorn unaided. I say unaided because there are three copies of Bee Pastures included in the encounter deck. This is a 1 threat, 2 quest point location that reads:
“Response: After you travel to Bee Pastures, search the encounter deck and discard pile for Grimbeorn the Old and add him to the staging area. Then, shuffle the encounter deck.”
This response increases one’s chances of finding Grimbeorn immensely, as there is a 9.76% chance that one will draw either Grimbeorn the Old himself or a copy of Bee Pastures from the encounter deck (assuming there are 41 cards in the deck). Even better is the fact that one only has to travel to Bee Pastures to find Grimbeorn; no exploring required!
Now that Grimbeorn has been located, all that remains is to put eight resources on him. This shouldn’t be too difficult, given Leadership has a reputation for resource generation; in fact, the only problem I’ve ever encountered is forgetting to include Leadership heroes when deck-building. Almost any Leadership hero will suffice for this task, as long as they have reasonable stats and will provide another purpose beyond acquiring Grimbeorn’s support. Nevertheless, eight resources is still a heavy price to pay; at worst, it can take eight rounds for one hero to conventionally produce this set amount of resources. It is well worth it in the end, though the end can be a long time coming when stalling for Grimbeorn. It seems the only other flaw in Grimbeorn is the small chance of finding him; it’s always so aggravating when he pops up as a shadow . . .
Utility Rating: 3 out of 5
Overall, Grimbeorn the Old is a fantastic introduction to the world of objective-allies. Given the sheer power of his stats and his ability to defend trolls without exhausting, he is certainly an asset to defeating the trolls of Conflict at the Carrock. Not only this, but his character is drawn directly from the lore of Professor Tolkien’s world, which gives the designers bonus points in my humble opinion. Plus, who doesn’t want a giant skin-changer on his side in a fight? “May the wind under your wings bear you where the sun sails and the moon walks!”
– Gwaihir the Windlord