Mae govannen! Welcome to the second installment of my objective-ally review series. Recall that I endeavor throughout this series to assign each object-ally a rating for thematic relevance – how true to Professor Tolkien’s world the card is – and for utility – the card’s usefulness to the players. Today I will examine a character of my own kingdom featured in the third adventure pack of the Shadows of Mirkwood cycle, A Journey to Rhosgobel : the eagle Wilyador.
Unlike the subject of my previous article, Grimbeorn the Old, Wilyador is not included in Professor Tolkien’s lore; he is instead a creation of the Fantasy Flight Games designers, produced specifically to fit into the mechanics of the scenario (more on that later). Wilyador himself has no back story as more recent FFG-created objective-allies have, so much about him must be assumed. He is one of the Great Eagles of Middle-earth, a subject of myself (Gwaihir the Windlord) and a descendant of Thorondor, the most majestic of all Eagles. Great Eagles are eagles of immense proportions capable of speech, and many aided the forces of good throughout Middle-earth’s history (though not to the extent of a taxi service). Wilyador probably dwelt in the Eagle colony of the Misty Mountains, a landmark east of Mirkwood Forest and west of Rivendell, the Last Homely House east of the Sea. It can be assumed that Wilyador held no love for Orcs or wargs, the Eagles’ primary adversaries, and may have been attempting to thwart their plans when injured. This is how the heroes are first introduced to this objective-ally: he is grievously wounded and on the verge of death. Indeed, this is the only thing we as players know for sure about Wilyador. I will not attempt to assume much more about him, as it would probably amount to nothing more than wild conjecture. Wilyador remains very much a mystery, as FFG was not in the habit at this point of giving a background on certain characters. Scanty information is available to connect this objective-ally to Professor Tolkien’s world, and the many assumptions about him lower his thematic relevance rating.
Thematic Relevance: 2 out of 5
Wilyador the card is an interesting piece of work to say the least. His stats – 1 willpower, 1 attack, 1 defense, and 20 hit points – could lead one to devise a strategy in which Wilyador defends several times until his hit points begin to deplete. After all, with twenty hit points, he could become a valuable damager absorber, albeit with only one defense. However, the scenario mechanics ultimately change this strategy. His textbox reads:
“No attachments. The first player gains control of Wilyador. Forced: At the end of each round, Wilyador suffers 2 damage. Wilyador cannot be healed of more than 5 wounds by a single effect.”
Additionally, Wilyador suffers 2 damage when he enters play due to the setup on the first quest card. As the entire scenario is founded upon the players attempting to heal a wounded eagle, encounter cards are also geared toward damaging our fine feathered friend. The heroes are attempting to heal Wilyador at the conclusion of the scenario; therefore, I find that heaping more damage upon him is counterproductive. He isn’t much of a help when attacking enemies, having only one attack, and heroes will be able to handle most of the enemies in this scenario. Nor can he have attachments of any sort, although not many attachments can be placed on allies. In fact, I only rue the inability to place Self Perseveration on him in order to heal him more regularly. Ultimately, Wilyador is often committed to the quest, his one willpower being of help but making little difference. He is of little use to the players and is more of a burden than a comfort, being the “problem” which must be solved.
Utility Rating: 2 out of 5
Wilyador turns out not to be the best of objective-allies where theme and usefulness are concerned. He is simply a mystery, and his ties to Middle-earth are not as strong as, say, Grimbeorn the Old, whose persona was drawn right from Professor Tolkien’s work. Additionally, Wilyador offers little to the players in terms of stats and one spends the entire game attempting to heal him as he constantly suffers damage. Although Wilyador is most certainly an interesting idea, he is simply not a solid objective-ally.
Agree with my thoughts? Vehemently oppose them? Please discuss these in the comments; all positions are welcome. Check back within the next few weeks to see my review on the next objective-ally, the notorious Gollum!