In this episode of Read the Flipping Card we’re returning to Middle Earth, more particularly to the River Running (aka the Celduin) that came from the Lonely Mountain, through the Long Lake before finally disgorging into the inland Sea of Rhûn.
The Celduin Traveller (The Nîn-in-Eliph #89) is an ally that paddles up and down the Celduin, probably out trapping for furs to take to Dale or even just reporting back news of the Wilderland. Or even just enjoying the sunshine like our author in the alt art above!
Let’s take a look at the card before we start to dissect it.
No errata applies to this card.
Unpacking the card
Let’s start with the cost of the ally. Normally a cost of 3, which would make it over-costed, but when played out of Secrecy (i.e. 20 threat or less) it costs 1 which makes it undercosted.
The key stats are a willpower of 2 and a health of 2. This character is designed to hit the table when within secrecy and then to quest. The 2 hit points is good on a quester as it protects them from the ‘deal 1 damage to exhausted characters’ style treacheries that can litter the gameworld, as well as being able to absorb damage from Archery keywords and the like.
It’s a chump blocker if it’s put in front of any enemy in the modern adventure packs (3 atk wipes it out), which is not a bad return from a 1 cost but not something you’d want to do if you spent the full 3 cost on.
The enters play effect is pretty sweet though, particularly in solo or two-handed play as it is a form of scry. You get to look at the top card which gives you precise information about what to expect. This ability is never wasteful as it informs how much threat you can expect next turn and therefore what questing power you need to go in with.
Then, if it is location you can discard it. This is better than many of the other scry forms – Core Denethor lets you add the scryed card to the bottom of the encounter deck, and Henamarth let’s you mull over what you’ve seen and wonder how to counter it. They’re obviously repeatable, hence why the Traveller has a more powerful effect.
So, you get a questing body that is well costed if played in Secrecy that has a strong scry effect. But…
What Makes this Card Better?
Let’s face it you want to be in Secrecy if you’re playing the Traveller, so you’re going low threat Heroes. Ignoring the ever-present Balrog slayer, those are quite likely to be Hobbits and Spirit Merry is one of the best. But you want to keep in Secrecy for as long as possible, which means you want to maximise his threat reducing ability and therefore you want enemies.
Celduin Traveller gives you that opportunity to either cycle a location to get to an enemy or possibly to not commit Merry to the quest if you see an enemy come out.
In addition, if your secrecy deck is built to deal with enemies in some way, you may not be equipped to deal with locations. Getting those locations into discard rather than being problematic in the staging area will help this kind of deck archetype.
The other aspect of the game that increases this character’s power is the number of players. Scry is most powerful when you are solo and diminishes in power the more players there are. I don’t see the value of it after the third player arrives, settles themselves in with a coffee and says: “So, who else is running Steward then?”
What makes this card weaker?
Two things really:
- Being out of Secrecy range
At that point the card becomes distinctly meh, and whilst a body is a body, for three resources and no meaningful information you can have better bangs for the buck.
Basically: if you’re playing a non-secrecy deck in multiplayer there are likely to be better cards to bring than this.
That being said, there is increasing support for the Scout trait, but it does feel under-developed at this point and for the purpose of consistency it feels like you want to focus on Scout heroes rather than characters.
Playing Spirit Merry in a Secrecy deck?
Not playing Spirit Merry in a Secrecy deck?
Think our glib conclusion is wrong? Reckon you have a different view on this card? Want to choose the next RTFC?
I’d like to see a RTFC of The Eyrie , I think it was much maligned when it came out and it’s got a lot more use now, with Valar Morghulis coming up and the prevalence of Mirri Maz Duur.
Oh. Right. Yeah. A Game of Thrones RTFC you say? I’ll get right on it… Joe…? Joe? You out there?