The Player's Council is a group of volunteers who aim to nurture and guide the future of the Lord of the Rings TCG. One of the aspects of this responsibility is in issuing card-altering errata to address issues with the game--it's not perfect, after all, and we can always chase the elusive perfect ideal.
Decipher attempted to issue as few errata as humanely possible--their policy for the Star Wars CCG was to never even ban a card if it could be avoided, and that mentality carried somewhat. With Lord of the Rings, the standard methodology was to errata a card if it was in the most recent set, and otherwise just ban it from use. This was driven from an understanding that the game was in fact printed on physical cardboard with ink, and they wanted the game to be divorced from this physical reality as little as possible.
However, in modern times the landscape of the game has changed. Gemp, the digital platform, dominates in number of games played, with about 6,000 per month in 2021 up to a lifetime peak of more than 10,000. That's an average of 200 games per day in 2021, and more than 330 at peak.
Thus, the PC has opted to take an approach more akin to that used in competitive multiplayer video games, instead. Decipher's approach was understandable for the era in which they worked, but today with the growth of the Internet, the moving of the community into online communities, and the acclimation of players in general to the concept of regular balance patches, the idea of altering large numbers of cards on a regular basis is far more available to us than it was to Decipher. Altering ink is a painful process, but altering pixels is trivial.
In Gemp, all errata are indicated by a red line across the upper left-hand corner. In addition, all PC errata have a red box in the lower left-hand corner listing the date that the card was last errata'd.
Below is a list of every errata the PC has issued. These errata apply to all formats with "PC" in the name, including Fellowship - PC, Movie - PC, and Expanded - PC.
The first batch of errata issued by the PC addressed cards which Decipher had already removed from one or more formats. Cards were banned for lots of different reasons, but regardless of source the PC attempted to bring all cards to the same standard of playability.
|Original||Errata||Decipher Notes||PC Notes|
|Decipher Notes: The cultural enforcement on this card is not strong enough for the ability provided. Such an ability should require more of a commitment to the culture. Also, when combined with other cards such as Shoulder to Shoulder (1C59), the healing function of this card provides too much utility, both for Elrond, and other site 3 allies.||Put a limit on the healing and added additional cultural + strategic enforcement to the card draw. Full article here.|
This card has been on our X-List radar for quite some time. The deck lists turned in by the top 16 players of each major event this year were a perfect example of why – in every case, at least 15 of them were stocking one or more copies of Sam. He is simply too versatile, offering huge benefits regardless of Free Peoples strategy, and regardless of who your Ring-bearer is. And he’s even better if your Ring-bearer happens to be Frodo.With Shadows, the need to address Sam became even more pressing. With resistance becoming an important feature of all companions (not just Ring-bearer) and it being directly tied to burdens, Sam easily undermined a large number of Shadow cards in the set, and made many Free Peoples cards too reliable (and thus, too strong).
|Sam is tricky, because not only is he approximately the best burden removal option, for many cultures he represents almost the only burden removal option, as many cultures plain do not have access to native anti-corruption options. Sam probably deserves to be nerfed more than he is, but it's not possible to do so reasonably until other burden options have been added to more cultures in the future. Full article here.|
|Decipher Notes: This card effectively doubles the number of skirmishes a fellowship faces by making all Uruk-hai fierce and then nullifying play that would serve as protection against those Uruk-hai.||Damage +1 and Fierce are no joke, and TTT's focus on uruks makes Saruman a no-go. By merging both of his abilities to use the same resource pool, the player is now forced to make an interesting decision--keep uruks alive, or keep them fierce? Full article here.|
|Decipher Notes: There is no cultural enforcement on the special ability of this card. This permanent effectively circumvents the rule of 9 by allowing non-companions to skirmish.||The permanent Rule of 9 circumvention is the worst aspect of this card. We have started with requiring a discard, so that multiple such usages require multiple backups, but this may prove to be insufficient. If the PC needs to return to this card in the future, it will probably be with a complete rework to the concept. Full article here.|
|Decipher Notes: This card has no cultural enforcement. The special ability allows a player to play high utility site 6 allies, who also lack cultural enforcement, for free. This level of permanent resource denial undermines the Shadow number curve on sites. Also, when combined with other cards such as Shoulder to Shoulder (1C59), the healing function of this card provides too much utility, both for Galadriel, and other site 6 allies.||In short, Galadriel both enables mass minion wounding by healing all the exert-to-wound Home 6 allies every round, and her discount is too much. In shorter, characters are balanced around their costs and Galadriel removing those costs makes them unbalanced. In shorterer, heal bad; choke worse.
To address the Shoulder to Shoulder (1C59) issue (obsolete though it may be), Galadriel's heal is reduced to mirror Elrond's freshly-nerfed position. She can now heal herself and up to 2 others, which won't affect most decks but should shave just a bit off the top of the mass ally strat.
The discount eventually settled on -1 out of simple pragmatism: every Elf in Fellowship block has a twilight cost of 2, except for Elrond (4) and Lórien Elf (1C53) (1). -2 would thus be essentially no change, so -1 it is.(There are additional higher cost Elves in Towers block, but the vast majority remain 2).
|Decipher Notes: This card makes large-scale card draw too accessible to all Free Peoples strategies. It requires a very low cultural commitment to a culture that is not supposed to be the strongest at Fellowship phase card draw.||The complaint is straightforward: it permits lots of card draw (and card cycling, even if that goes unmentioned) when Gandalf is not supposed to. He's even worse with Elrond, Lord of Rivendell, whose Home 3 healing ensures that Ottar + Elrond permit a 4 card draw / 3 card cycle every Fellowship phase, which makes most other methods pale in comparison. Our errata is equally straightforward: knock Ottar down to essentially an out-of-phase reconcile once per turn.|
|Decipher Notes: This level of permanent resource denial undermines the Shadow number curve on sites.||Short, sweet, to the point. Running 1-3 of these on any or all of Arwen, Aragorn, and Boromir is a pain in the twilight pool, and when combined with other Shadow number affecting cards, it just stacks up too much. We've taken the smallest possible change here and made the card unique, restricting its impact to no more than per move. The stealth keyword has also been added for future tinkering.|
This card had perhaps a slower rise to power than some, but before long players knew this was one of the most effective conditions in the game. Its impact was so deep, more than one top-level tournament deck has been seen stocking multiple copies of Boromir's Cloak (1U98) exclusively to deal with it. For a “swarm” style of Shadow strategy, quite potent enough on its own, Saruman's Snows ensures the Ring-bearer will be overwhelmed.Saruman's Snows does not necessarily interact directly with any of the new rules in Shadows. We have witnessed over the years, however, that it is a figurative mallet where a scalpel is called for. Denying an opponent a resource or opportunity he was counting on is of course what the game is all about. A missed chance to heal here, a lost special ability there; in the right quantities, these are the things meant to decide games. But Saruman's Snows is a card able to cut off an entire phase of the game – neither skirmish special abilities nor events can slip by it. Consequently, it’s a constant impediment to new card design. In a way, it doesn’t matter how interesting or impactful a new card we release is – if it happens in the skirmish phase, there’s a frequently used card out there that can shut it off. You may well see aspects of this card reappearing in the future, but not all together in a gift-wrapped single package like this.
|Snows is a card that sits at the center of a small cluster of instant-kill strategies: put down Isengard Warrior (3U61) and another Isenorc, play Snows, and then 4-5 other minions: boom, instant overwhelmed Frodo. No archery abilities can be used to thin the herd of minions, and all the ways you might keep Frodo alive (Power According to His Stature (1R308), Hobbit Stealth (1C298), Boromir, Son of Denethor (1U97), Merry, Friend to Sam (1R302)) can’t be used. The only defenses available are cards that trigger during the Maneuver phase, because all other phases have been systematically denied you.
Snows is also powerful within more general strategies that aren’t attempting a Stupid Swarm insta-kill, but it’s the straightforward power of the insta-kill that really needs addressed.Thus, our errata addresses that specific use case without touching any others. Stupid Swarm relies on having a variety of cheap minions (mostly Moria), with a limited number of Isengard Orcs in the mix. By making Snows only apply to those Isenorcs, it should be possible for the Free Peoples player to assign those few that remain away from the Ring-bearer, leaving Frodo available to use any of the tools in his toolbox to avoid a gristly death.
Relics of Moria – I’m sure there are a lot of people who would be glad to see less of Moria in the coming year, but most would not have considered this the lynchpin of the deck. What prompted this card being added to the X-list?
Trevor: We knew going into this that Relics of Moria would be the most controversial decision to be included on the list. Moria is an incredibly popular strategy for players the world over. Removing something that players are accustomed to including in every Moria deck is bound to stir some controversy. But the bottom line is Relics is far too efficient, it just does too much. Moria can still do what it did before; the goal wasn’t to kill Moria. But now they have to work at it, a permanent way to start the cycle was just too much.
Geoff: The core of Moria is its ability to extend the Shadow player’s hand. That theme was never really expanded upon after FotR was released for obvious reasons: too much of a good thing can be bad. Without the Goblin Scimitar (1C180), there really is no reasonable way for Moria’s hand extension to happen, except through the use of 1 event (Threat of the Unknown (1C197)). Just so we’re clear, when I say ‘hand extension’ in relation to Moria, I’m referring to the Shadow player being able to have drawn cards from their deck in the Shadow phase.They Are Coming (1C196), on the other hand, is Relics’ partner in crime. What do you do with all those extra cards you get from the four copies of the Scimitar you can play each turn? Play more minions. This, in turn, allows you to cycle your deck so that you’re able to dig for an even greater number of minions on subsequent turns.
|Relics is one card that doesn't seem to match Decipher’s analysis so much. Even in FOTR where it is permitted, it seldom seems to kick-start the Moria twilight engine, which instead is usually triggered by Goblin Scavengers (1C179)–either played from hand, from Goblin Swarms (1R183), Hosts of Thousands, or They Are Coming (1C196). Far more often Relics is used in a secondary respect to pull weapons that Scavengers can’t get–Cave Troll's Hammer (1R166), for instance. In this case the PC has decided to experiment with releasing it with the game text unchanged. Instead, the card is given a very slight nerf by making it unique. This isn't likely to have much of an impact, but then if we're right, neither will re-releasing the card.|
|Decipher Notes: This card was written before the swarm dimension was added to the Sauron culture. As such, it is too powerful in those decks.||Forces of Mordor wasn't really ever much of a problem in FOTR, but later incarnations of Sauron could use this to squeeze out an extra minion or two to powerful effect. We've added an exertion cost and a limit to the output (3 should be enough for one small minion), and ensured it doesn't trigger off of Troll swarms. The card is likely to be powerful regardless, but we’ll keep an eye on it and adjust it further if warranted.|
|Decipher Notes: There is no cultural enforcement on this card because every deck is required to play with Frodo. This is true of any card that requires only the Ring-bearer with no additional enforcement. The cost of the special ability, exerting a Hobbit, is undercosted for the utility it provides.||In other words, Sting is a braindead choice. You will always include Sting, because you will always have need to give Frodo a +2 strength boost and the only other +2 option has no game text. In addition, the ability itself is bonkers because who wouldn't want to just look at your opponent's hand for what is effectively free? Combine it with the twilight-clearing element and we have a card whose auto-inclusion is rivaled only by The One Ring itself.
In the end, we have opted to make Sting strictly worse than Glamdring (1R75), which has the exact same ability without being problematic (since Gandalf's vitality is so much more precious). Frodo's version is unreliable: 4 cards will let you see half of your opponent's hand, but if you wish to repeat the action to try and get a closer look, you will be left wondering if the second batch of cards contain any overlap with the first or not.The twilight reduction cap has also been halved, limiting its ability to play cards for free, particularly when combined with the unreliable repeatability.
Any single type of function of the game can be looked at as falling somewhere on a scale. For example, take healing: on one end of the scale, you have a card which removes 1 wound, while on the other you might have a card which removes 20. Cost is just as important as scope in determining where on the scale a card falls, of course. A card that heals a wound for a twilight cost of 2 is lower on the scale than a card that heals a wound for a twilight cost of 1.
With A Talent For Not Being Seen, the scale in question is denying twilight tokens to the Shadow player. Talent has a very low cost, and over the course of the game it can deny a lot of twilight tokens. Thus its scope leaves us very little room to make cards any better than it without “exploding” this aspect of the game. At the same time, its cost is so low that it leaves us very little room to make cards of lower scope than it – there’s not much lower the cost for such cards can get. It’s sort of a big, rotting tree in the middle of the “twilight denial” acreage. With very limited possibilities for building around it, it had to be torn down to make space for the house we intend to build on the land.For those who feel I’ve stretched my analogy a bit thin (or who draw an unpleasant comparison with Saruman uprooting the forest near Isengard), let me say it another, perhaps simpler way: Talent has been a card near the edge of “trouble” for some time, and with recent efforts to increase the strength of other aspects of the Hobbit culture, it was judged too powerful to remain in the environment.
|Talent wasn't X-ed until Shadows was released, so it was clearly more of a sleeper hit than some of the other more famous choke cards.
As Decipher points out, the card leaves very little room to work with, even when attempting to nerf it. The cost of the card itself could be increased, but then it runs the risk of never having an effect (if it's discarded before the twilight is "paid off"). The exertions could be increased, but again you might just be stabbing yourself in the foot (for even less reason than usual). And, as successfully argued by members of the community, the "spot 4 for -2" clause is among one of the only reasons to bother keeping Pippin alive in FOTR block, so it's got endangered species protection as well.
One of the things we don't want to do with the PC's errata is nerf cards to oblivion. These cards are already banned, and if they are nerfed to the point of never being used then we've wasted a bunch of time and effort just to end up right back where we started.
So, we had to rework the card slightly. It now attaches to either Merry or Pippin (losing its uniqueness in the process), and requires you to play 2 copies of the card to get the same full effect as before. Since it requires more copies of the card, the exertion cost is dropped to compensate.And then of course, good ol' Pippin is enshrined as necessary to its use, restricting its ability to be used (or abused) by the various Expanded-era Hobbit companions.
There was talk of adding Bill Ferny to the X-List while we worked on Reflections. Clearly, he works well against the alternate Ring-bearers and deters some players from using them. But at that time, we felt that the scales were not tipped far enough against the new Ring-bearers to warrant removing Ferny.
But now Shadows gives resistance a much larger role in the game, and the fact that Ring-bearers other than Frodo have a lower resistance is becoming a greater liability in and of itself. That new liability, combined with the existence of Bill Ferny, threatened to make one of the most well-liked aspects of Reflections too unreliable in a tournament environment for most players to consider.Also, as one more strike against Bill Ferny (though an unneeded one), Shadows introduces a couple of new cards to the Wraith culture (renamed from the Ringwraith culture) which, because they work for the whole culture and aren't Nazgûl specific, would have made Ferny a truly frightening force to be reckoned with.
|Simply put, Bill Ferny is a nightmare for Alternate Ring-bearers that take wounds or burdens when assigned to a skirmish, since Bill can saunter on up and trigger those deleterious effects whenever he feels like it. The errata ensures that the self-assign only works if Frodo is around, or if you’ve brought Sam, Son of Hamfast (1C311) or some other Hobbit splash along for the ride. Either way, the Free Peoples player now has a bit of counterplay available by not including such cards with their ARBs.|
|Decipher Notes: There is no cultural enforcement on this card as all players have one or more Hobbits. For a special ability on a permanent, the cost is too low compared to the power provided. Also, this is a permanent that cancels the Ring-bearer's skirmish at site 9.||Short and sweet. Filibert keeps Frodo from dying at site 9, so we will prevent him from being able to use it. This should relegate Fatty to Hobbit-only decks as a result.|
|Decipher Notes: There is no cultural enforcement on this card as all players have a Ring-bearer. Also, this is a permanent that cancels the Ring-bearer’s skirmish at site 9.||Another site-9 game winner. Rather than auto-winning the skirmish, we’ve opted to make it so the Ring-bearer can survive the skirmish instead. +4 strength will permit a naked Frodo to survive against any Nazgul except the Witch-king (fittingly), and depending on which version of the One Ring is used, he might even survive that.|
Dwarves as a culture have never excelled at keeping site Shadow numbers low and “choking” off the twilight pool. Gimli was a fun anomaly for the Fellowship block, where the number and placement of underground sites was known and limited. Those same boundaries held true on the Tower and King site paths. But with Shadows, all that is changing.
Shadows has a big focus on what design and development call "terrain" – that is, whether a site is a battleground, forest, mountain, river, or any of the other similar types of keywords. Terrain is so important with the new adventure path that in playtesting, players were frequently bidding to go second, and "pathfinding" (selection of the next site by the Free Peoples player) was valued as it has never been before. If a player wants to run an adventure path of nothing but one type of terrain, that may well be possible – if not with Shadows, then likely once Black Rider and Bloodlines are added to the mix.In short, having a single, easy-to-start card (one with out-of-culture gameplay, at that) which could potentially deny 2 twilight tokens at every single site simply proved too strong.
|Gimli is an odd duck. Rather uniquely among the rest of the cards on this list, he isn’t a problem in FOTR in the slightest. We can of course argue whether the same is true for these other cards, but you can’t deny that most of them have at least been complained about quite loudly and often; the same is not true for Gimli.
Since he is a problem primarily in the post-Shadows world of site manipulation, we are left with reducing his choke impact and granting him an additional bonus to compensate.(It's probably a moot point anyway, since if you're playing Dwarves that means Bearer of Grudges, but let no one say we didn't at least take Decipher at their word.)
|Decipher Notes: Again, terrain is hugely important beginning with Shadows. And as with Gimli, this card was both too strong and out of culture. Pathfinding has never been a part of the Elven culture aside from this card, and suddenly Galadriel was enabling Elves to put out an uninterrupted string of forests onto the adventure path. She could even do this for free, since the cost of her exertion could be negated by using her to heal herself.||One wonders at this point if perhaps it's the title of “Galadriel” that needs nerfed rather than any other aspect of the card. Regardless, the Big G was a problem for the Shadows path more than anything. To reduce her ability to trigger literally every turn, her ability has been turned away from herself so that she cannot self-heal, and requiring her to exert twice. Now if you want to abuse her site manipulation, you'll have to pack other means of healing.|
|Decipher Notes: There is no cultural enforcement on the game text of this card. This level of permanent resource denial undermines the Shadow number curve on sites.||Here he is, the big man himself. There have been dozens of proposals for the best way to hit ol’ Hair of the White Creepy right in the kneecaps, and the PC went back and forth for a long time. In the end, we’ve got a simple numeric nerf. 1 twilight is not a lot, and considering that it only works on twilight from cards that you played that Fellowship phase, you will probably be better served by using other Aragorns.
Please.We’re begging you.
The Palantir of Orthanc – Many people have been calling for this to be added to the X-list for months. In fact, it was highly rumored that it would be added last fall in anticipation of Return of the King and the Initiative mechanic. Why add it now and not then?
Trevor: The Palantir just offered a huge level of control for a player. They were able to control the tempo of the game for their opponent and that is not a good thing. There are a few Initiative strategies out there than can abuse the Palantir and that is something we really want to curb.
What strategies do you think this will open up for the Free Peoples?
Geoff: Supposedly, events will become more playable…so that means event-driven strategies like PATHS Hobbits, all-Dwarven fighting, and All-elven fighting will get a bit of a boost.
Tom: It should free up their ability to include a few more events in their decks. That should open up deck building a little bit, but it is really up to the players to explore exactly what that means.Trevor: I agree that it should really open deck construction for the Free Peoples player. Not having to worry about the Palantir will be a nice change when building a deck.
|Two main issues with this Palantir: first, it interacts negatively with initiative, and second it slows the game down tremendously while your trolling opponent puts all of your cards back on top of the deck one at a time. The cost of the action has been increased to 2, and you now must have 2 Isengard minions to even use it. This should avoid most initiative-sensitive manipulations, since Isengard themselves only have Suffered Much Loss (10U35), which is itself expensive. If some game-breaking combo is discovered, however, we'll be back to show this crystal ball who's boss.|
Bill the Pony – Choke appears to be a major focus of the X-list. Why? What is it about cards like Bill that make them prime candidates for the list?
Trevor: Resource denial has proven to be a huge issue with Lord of the Rings TCG.Geoff: I think the most important thing to note here is that when people play card games, we actually want them to be able to play their cards. It’s one thing if passive denial (playing little to no cards) leads to a small pool of resources for your opponent. It’s another thing entirely if active denial (playing cards that reduce the opponent’s resources) is forcing an opponent’s entire deck to shut down. Unfortunately, in the system we have, your Free Peoples ‘choke’ strategy does more than just hinder your opponent’s Shadow strategy. It hinders their deck’s cycling…in turn hindering their Free Peoples strategy’s ability to handle your own Shadow strategy. It has a very negative cyclic effect that many players can’t fathom a way out of once they’re stuck in it.
|Decipher here simply mentions the problems with choke in general, as opposed to specific problems that make Bill worthy of getting singled out. They do later mention that at least Talent For Not Being Seen requires more than just Frodo, and so we’ve taken that logic at face value.
Bill's errata here is designed to kill two birds with one stone: first, by requiring it go on Sam, the lore nerds in all of us are finally satisfied....what, did you need a second reason? Well in that case, notice that this can no longer be used in a solo Frodo context, nor can Bill be bounced around between whichever hobbits happen to be the least expendable at the time. Sam in general should end up as less of a pump-n-dump, which should continue to make Son of Hamfast a tiny bit worse. Just a little.
Frying Pan – A great deal of people use this card as the be-all and end-all of anti-Moria cards – why add it to the X-list when Moria is still so prevalent at tournaments?
Tom: It is just way too easy. The cheapest resource in the game is Hobbit vitality, and to be able to translate that directly into wounds is just too much. It really hampers a lot of things that we would like to see people be able to do. At the same time, you are right about Moria, so this change couldn’t happen in isolation.
Trevor: This card just fits all of the criteria when considering a card for the X-List. The Pan is under-cost, not enforced, and you must take it into account when building a shadow strategy based around orcs. It is also an automatic choice for just about every deck.Geoff: The 'pan' was created as an over-compensating answer to the Moria ‘swarm’ strategy (as if there’s some other kind of Moria strategy…well…I say that almost in jest), and when I say over-compensating, I mean it should've only affected Moria and no other type of Orc. In the long-term, it's having a negative impact on every other non-Moria Orc strategy (probably with the exception of Isengard) that relies on 1 and 2 vitality minions. A new balance will evolve between 'non-pan' fellowships and ‘non-relics’ Moria decks in the future.
|There's the usual reasoning of lack of cultural enforcement and undercosting, but reading between the lines a bit, it almost seems like Pan was banned as compensation for Relics also getting banned. We're letting Relics off lightly, and so we may as well do the same for Pan, with a 1-twilight cost to give it a little impact when it gets tossed between Hobbits. Orcs are bigger and badder than they were when the Pan was removed, and 1-vitality Moria swarms are less prevalent, so as far as we can tell this shouldn't be as big of an issue. We'll keep an eye on this one just in case.|
|Decipher Notes: Not found.||As far as we can tell, Decipher never recorded their reasoning behind why they burned down The Shire Countryside...
...but we can make some educated guesses.
Really, it's got to come down to the ease of which this can be used to just wipe the whole board of wounds. Shire is already among the only cultures that are able to handle burdens, but the ease with which that burden removal can be turned to healing means that often Frodo will intentionally load up on more burdens than he needs just to be able to fuel the healing engine. That’s clearly over the line.Here, we've made the card unique (preventing 4x stacking) and placed a phase limit on the trigger to keep it from being so gratuitous. To compensate, one burden can now be used to heal two separate companions, meaning that if you want to take advantage of what the Countryside has to offer, you'll have to take a leisurely stroll rather than a mad dash.
|Decipher Notes: The secondary function of this card is too strong for its cost, and makes the card superior in almost all situations to any other strength event.||Savagery has long been a power card that requires the Free Peoples player to play around in FOTR block. Most anti-Fellowship-size cards are at the 6 companion limit, but Savagery triggers at 5, meaning that fellowships have to either go with a meager 4 companions or risk losing a couple companions anyway to one instance of this card. The PC has opted to keep the 5 companion spotting element and eliminated the +4 strength boost that lingers to the Regroup phase as the most frustrating aspect of the card. Fierce is scary, but not as scary as one event automatically winning the fierce skirmish for you by dint of the +4 persisting.|
|Decipher Notes: This card has no cultural enforcement, may be played in addition to another weapon, and has no cost. The resulting combination provides too much utility.||Flaming Brand has no downsides to including--it is never dead weight, as it is at least a +1 strength to any Man of any culture, and potentially quite a bit more. Its dead-simple ease of use makes it an auto-include, which dumpsters Nazgul in any format where Brand is legal.
The bearer restriction has been reworked to Ranger, which allows Arwen but disallows Eomer. A twilight cost has been added to make sure it's no longer zero-downside. And then the ability has been adjusted to burn the brand to kill a nazgul for one turn--not provide an endless beatdown.Full article here.
One can look at deck lists before and after The Two Towers expansion and see a sudden, sharp drop in the number of conditions used by the average Shadow build, a trend which to this day many Shadow strategies don't dare to challenge. Playing against a Dauntless Hunter deck can be particularly negative to a new player, who is usually unaware that such a powerful deck type exists to stall playing Shadow events and conditions.In Expanded formats, 5 different unbound Hobbits are there to add to Merry and Pippin, and push the power of this Legolas to the max. I don't think conditions and events clocking in at a total of 7 twilight would be the greatest playing experience.
|A simple band-aid of applying a limit of 2 means that it sticks to the original intent of "Merry and/or Pippin" without permitting half the Shire to get in on it in Expanded.|
|Decipher Notes: Not found.||Based on what we can scrounge up from old forum posts, Uruk Regular seems to mostly be an issue when paired with Deep of Helm (4U347), which when combined with a chain of Regulars could squeeze out just a few too many Uruks on the regular (pun intended). Decipher removed Uruk Regular from the X-List almost as soon as Deep of Helm was no longer legal, so there must not have been any other scenarios which were particularly abusive. Nonetheless, since we aim to have errata apply to all formats (including Towers), we have applied a -2 limit to the twilight discount, meaning that Regulars are at best compensating for the roaming cost.|
|Decipher Notes: Since the release of The Two Towers, we have been refining the cultural identity of Rohan. Among other evolutions, we want them to be absolute top dog at dealing with Shadow possessions, but hard-pressed to deal with Shadow conditions. Let Us Be Swift (5C85) and (in a very limited way) Arrow-slits (5U80) are also capable of discarding conditions, but neither is as reliable or effective as Fortress Never Fallen. The card is so effective, it was impeding future design – it was hard for us to push Rohan to be strong at the things they're supposed to be strong at while they were also so strong at this particular thing they're supposed to be weak at. Any good push ran the risk of simply making them good at everything. With this "obstacle" removed, the road will now be clear for us to roll through with great new cards for fans of the Rohan culture.||We've added a limit to the card to ensure it doesn't nuke an entire support area in one go, but being as the card is itself a condition that is susceptible to being removed, we haven't applied any other changes at this time.|
|Decipher Notes: As with Galadriel, here was a pathfinding card that proved very powerful with the new adventure path. And like Galadriel, it's in a culture that should not have pathfinding at all. After all, who knows how long Frodo and Sam might have staggered lost through Emyn Muil without Sméagol to guide them out?"||Well, if the complaint is that Sméagol needs to be present, then we'll just spot Sméagol (or at least the Hobbits he is supposedly guiding).|
|Decipher Notes: Not found.||This card is part of an infinite loop with Treebeard, Keeper of the Watchwood (10R18). Basically, invoke Treebeard's ability to discard a shadow condition and pull SC from discard, then invoke SC's ability to discard a minion and heal Treebeard back to full, wash, rinse, repeat. By making the ability of SC only work at the beginning of the regroup phase, the original intent of the card is preserved while eliminating infinite recursive abuse.|
|Decipher Notes: Not found.||This card is part of an infinite loop with Base of Mindolluin (10U117): Invoke Base to add a threat and play a fortification, invoke Captain to discard a fortification and remove a threat, and do this repeatedly until every fortification is in your discard pile and you have effectively filtered your deck down to only Shadow cards. By moving Captain's ability to the Maneuver phase, you still get the original intent of burning fortifications to remove threats, but can no longer be cheeky about it.|
|Decipher Notes: Not found.||With the Reflections Dwarven Rings of Power easily permitting Dwarves to get to high levels of damage bonus, each usage of Aggression easily hit the Rule of 4 cap. And since Dwarves have plenty of means of recycling conditions (such as Defending the Keep (5C6)), the card draw was simply too much. We have reduced the draw to 1, since the actual damage bonus from the card itself is also quite impactful.|
|Decipher Notes: Not found.||Each of the "do an effect when you lose initiative" cycle of cards are prone to abuses, but considering how many conditions discard themselves as a cost, this card trivializes retrieving them. Thus, the card has been altered to instead only play conditions from hand, and as compensation the effect has been expanded to also possessions.|
|Decipher Notes: Galadriel, Lady Redeemed has proven over time to be too cost-effective at counteracting too broad a range of possible strategies. Much like Legolas, Dauntless Hunter (4R73) before it was added to the X-List, this Galadriel's impact on the tournament environment could be seen in the shrinking number of decks making any serious use of Shadow conditions (and possessions). Removing Galadriel from the Standard format makes way for many dozens of possible condition-oriented strategies to become competitive.||Oh, GLR. Has there ever been a more controversial card?
GLR is in an awkward spot. On the one hand, she's an apex predator that synergizes far too well with Círdan, The Shipwright (10R8) and other Elvent staples. On the other hand, she's an apex predator that helps keep Corsairs, Grond, and others in check.In the end, we have restricted her ability usage to once per phase. We will come for her again in the future, but not until the the cure isn't worse than the disease.
|Decipher Notes: Not found.||Infinite twilight glitch! It's surprising that this card wasn't simply errata'd as similar cards were in the past. If you're missing the trick, you play Fiend on the table, spot no other minions, add (or ), play an event or condition, add (or ) again, and repeat until all of your non-minion cards are paid for for free, and then finally add the twilight once more to get another minion out.
However, it got even more ridiculous when you consider cards such as The Underdeeps of Moria (1R200), The Dark Lord's Summons (1U242), or Not Easily Avoided (18R32) to pull a near-infinite number of shadow cards into your hand from your draw deck or discard.This was a simple errata restricting the invocation to its intent, that of the minion paying for itself if it's the first.
|Decipher Notes: Final Account was also showing itself to be too broad in scope and too low in cost. While discard retrieval is well within Gandalf's cultural identity, it is the means by which cards can be played in a game many times more than the "4 card limit" ordinarily allows. That type of power must carry with it an appropriate cost, and Final Account's cost (1 twilight token, 2 discards from hand, and an exertion on a high-vitality character) simply wasn't appropriate for such unrestricted retrieval (any Free Peoples card and any Shadow card).||Rather than crank up the costs involved, we've opted to remove the "any free peoples" portion and reduce the card to only retrieving Shadow cards, which is an interesting twist on the normal way of things.|
|Decipher Notes: Not found.||Strange-looking Men is part of a series of infinite loops that involve passing Pavise (11C94) around. The basic idea is to have something like Ceremonial Armor (17R41) or Wildman's Oath (17C66) in your support area to catch discarded minions, and then one or more copies of Sunland Guard (17C55) with Pavise in play. Use Guard's ability to play Sunland Trooper (17C59) or Easterling Dispatcher (17U42), then use SLM to bounce the Pavise around, killing the Guards (which get put back on the support area possessions), wash, rinse, repeat to generate infinite twilight. Simplest change is to alter SLM's ability to only work once.|
|Decipher Notes: Not found.||As a non-unique card, up to 4 copies of Demoralized adding per companion exertion is pretty juicy on its own, but when you combine it with cards such as Rallying Orc (12R100) which force exertions, you can basically guarantee that your whole hand will be paid for (assuming it's mostly lurkers). To avoid such abuse, Demoralized was altered to simply be unique.|
|Decipher Notes: Not found.||Orkish Smith must have been combined with some later card (Ordnance Grunt (13R117)? Retribution (12R101)?) but if there was a specific combo involved, its history is lost to us. To head off any particular issues, the card now only shuffles conditions back into the deck from discard, tho for compensation the card lets you retrieve 2 such cards.|
|Decipher Notes: Not found.||8 site moves + site manipulation = 8 guaranteed burdens, on top of whatever else your own deck throws at the Free Peoples. This card's effect has been modified to only work in region 2, capping the burden total at 3.|
|Decipher Notes: Not found.||Madril basically guarantees that everyone is roaming so long as there's enough threats on the table, and if everyone's roaming then Ithilien rangers have enough tools to discard those minions or otherwise deal with them, ensuring the threats never actually threaten. Thus Madril's ability is capped to an effect of +1.|
|Decipher Notes: The special ability of this card has no cultural enforcement. This makes him too accessible to non-Ringwraith swarm decks. His ability also empowers the swarm by triggering the "best option" swarm minions repeatedly.||There's not a great option available to nerf Nertea without entirely eliminating his ability to integrate with multicultural Swarms of any flavor. Even just restricting his ability to Ringwraith minions, which would integrate with later sets, means that the Free Peoples player is doomed to see Morgul Brute (7R188) and Morgul Destroyer (7U190) over and over. Nertea is thus currently in an overly-nerfed state that is only slightly better than its banned form. If you think you can crack the code, let us know!|
2021 Yuletide Errata
The second major batch of errata issued by the PC was done as part of the 2021 12 Days of Yuletide event, which also coincided with the first public playtest release of set V1, Shadow of the Past. These errata intended to push the boundary of what had previously been done with errata, breaking away from Decipher's restrictions further and issuing buffing errata alongside the nerf errata. Several infamous cards were targeted, as well as a number of less-well-known ones.
|Each of the basic Dwarf companions has had its strength buffed by +1, in an effort to give Fellowship-era Dwarves a little more of a fighting chance.|
|Each of the basic Dwarf companions has had its strength buffed by +1, in an effort to give Fellowship-era Dwarves a little more of a fighting chance.|
|Dwarf of Erebor had a time in the spotlight once before his errata by Decipher, albeit as a machine for setting up Moria Underdeeps strategies. He seldom sees use when Gimli, Son of Gloin (1R13) is a more dependable option, so we've added the card draw to try and sweeten the deal a little.|
|Each of the basic Dwarf companions has had its strength buffed by +1, in an effort to give Fellowship-era Dwarves a little more of a fighting chance. And also Lorien Elf (they’re an honorary dwarf, mmmkay).|
|We couldn't hope to call ourselves Decipher's successors if we didn't continue a long and storied tradition of trying to make Mirror work. Decipher gave up as Fellowship block gave way to Towers, but that shan't stop us! By reducing the impact of the offense from discard to deck-stacking, while also increasing the total view surface to 3 cards, this should make Mirror more usable than the most recent version, without just nuking half of your opponent's hand.|
|The original version of Mordor Enraged failed at what its intent was, to provide any sort of counter to Free Peoples archery, and subsequently became a bit of a joke. Any card which relies on the composition of your opponent's deck has the possibility of becoming dead weight, so the least it can do is be potent against the thing it's defending. Shut down Legolas, Greenleaf (1R50) or Aragorn’s Bow (1R90) by effectively causing those abilities to cost more than they're worth, or keep Elven Bow (1C41) contributors exhausted as their more accomplished teammates mow down your Orc-line, giving you an opportunity you might capitalize on later.|
|The one, the only! Weight of a Legacy has always been the archetypal trash rare, providing a measly -1 strength on the companion who is probably most equipped to deal with it. Our changes here haven't necessarily brought it from zero to hero, but it is now usable in more contexts than just against Aragorn, and can be used to negate The Last Alliance of Elves and Men (1R49) bonuses.|
|Each of the basic Dwarf companions has had its strength buffed by +1, in an effort to give Fellowship-era Dwarves a little more of a fighting chance.|
|Isenorcs as a strategy usually struggles to close out the game, particularly once site 9 is reached and the regroup actions remain out of reach. Wastes of Emyn Muil is altered to permit the Shadow player one last Hail Mary opportunity to whittle the Fellowship down to nothing before the final battle.|
|This errata addresses a certain obnoxious combo where you put The Watcher in the Water into play and then invoke the site's text over and over, converting all threats into burdens all at once. This now ensures that discarding Gollum after the first play no longer has any effect.|
|One of the highlights of the Ninja Gollum strategy, the idea is that you stack up a bunch of threats and then bully a weaker companion either by winning skirmishes with Shelob or a pumped Gollum, playing direct wounding cards as a response to kill that companion, and then doubling the effectiveness of all threats, since the threat wounds count as being applied "during a skirmish".
Not every use of Promise Keeping has been abolished with this change, but now the only wounds that can be doubled directly are those of the skirmishing companions. Threats applied to other companions now won't count.We will continue to keep an eye on PK, but this should hopefully pump the breaks.
|Corsair Marauder of course is one of the reasons Castamir of Umbar (8R51) could be so deadly, since there was little chance to keep hold on your swords and other trinkets keeping you alive. Marauder's ability effect is unchanged, but moved as a trigger to assignment. This gives the Free Peoples a chance to counter his effect by killing him in the Maneuver and Archery phases. In exchange, the ability could be triggered twice per minion if the Shadow player can find a way to make him fierce.|
|GROND GROND GROND
Thematically it's always been a little strange that Grond could snipe every artifact on the table out of the hands of the companions holding them, but more importantly Grond is the ubercounter that can stop literally anything anywhere, so long as it's not a companion.Grond has been reworked to focus on support area cards specifically, with the one-off option to snipe Anduril at the cost of losing Grond’s destructive future threat.
|Cirdan has synergy that works just a little too well with all the other Elven cards that want to stick events in the discard pile. It can be demoralizing to have one's minions systematically and repeatedly brought down to 0 strength, providing an automatic overwhelm almost regardless of how strong Cirdan himself is. Cirdan's ability is now self-limiting, in that every time it's utilized to get a slam-dunk skirmish, it reduces the effectiveness of all future uses of the ability.|
|Compared to the other entries on this list, High Airs may come as a surprise to some. However it’s an entry on the same watchlist as Horn of Boromir (3R42): it strikes at one of the fundamental assumptions of the game, that double-moves are doubling up on the chances the Shadow has to stop you.|
|Focus has been made unique due to its interaction with Forth the Three Hunters: use Forth and exert Aragorn 3 times to make any minion strength -9, win the skirmish with Legolas and heal Aragorn back to full strength, wash, rinse, repeat.|
|It will be a long, long time until all of the problematic issues in Expanded are dealt with, but that's all the more reason to start now.
This card in combination with Madril, Defender of Osgiliath (15R64) basically ensured that no minion made it past the Maneuver phase unless the Free Peoples player wanted it to. Madril has already been nerfed in the past to limit how freely minions may be made roaming, and this alteration to IB continues to pump the breaks somewhat.This change will not affect how minions with 1 or 2 vitality are dealt with, of course, but it will ensure that anything meatier will have to be hit 2 or more times, which seems fair.
|Sets 17 and 18 are going to require a lot more elbow grease than other sets (they are after all mostly composed of first drafts that haven’t had the edges sanded off yet), and it’s only fitting that Gil-galad lead the charge.
Gil-galad's ability to recycle both skirmish events and conditions is a bit much, particularly when there are conditions that self-discard in the regroup phase as a cost, which Gil-galad can just negate for very cheap.Now his ability to recycle conditions is preserved, but they will have to go into your hand to be played again in a future Fellowship phase, which requires the Free Peoples player to be more circumspect about when they are willing to invoke the ability.
|Deceit is just a little too good at its job, especially considering that 2 copies in play can defend each other nigh indefinitely. By making it unique, this self-defense goes away, and the twilight cost of each condition saved has been increased as well.|
|In spite of Decipher's errata, The Faithful Stone could use a little more doubt. By making it unique, you can no longer have multiple copies double-dipping on the token generation for each minion played.|
|The original Frenzy was absolutely bananas, but the nerf issued in one of the last official Decipher communications ever had a fatal flaw: there aren’t any archers printed, and there are no ways to make minions gain archer.
Which means that Frenzy of Arrows went from powerhouse to having the dubious distinction of being the only card in the game that was literally unplayable.
The errata issued here is a nerf from the perspective of the original printed version, but given that it restores the card to playability, it’s technically a buff. Granting Orcs archery both covers the blind spot that the original errata stumbled on, and limits the initial effect of multiple played copies to no more than the total number of Orcs you have in play (which admittedly can still get pretty darn high).The Follower bonus is also reduced, albeit you may find less of a reason for this to be an issue if you keep reading…
|What is it with horns and being game-breaking?
Erkenbrand's Horn has been altered to only work with Rohan followers, which means no more draining your deck completely dry of Free Peoples cards (realistically, no more than 9 followers now assuming healing is provided). The ability to offensively discard Saruman has also been removed as excessive.
And to top it all off, it's been given a twilight cost. Why there have been so many broken Free Peoples cards produced that happened to also cost 0 is a mystery we may never unravel.
This change more than any of the others on this list will be a death knell for a certain deck. Our sincerest apologies if that was your favorite deck, but we hope you can understand why the rest of us bid "good riddance".(Also, we have taken the liberty of finally fixing the wording to eliminate the redundant "Reshuffle" and "from play" clauses.)
|Scouring of the Shire is an even worse example of self-defense than Deceit, and with 4 copies in play you can effectively ensure your opponent has to discard 16 cards before they’re even allowed to actually discard the one they want. The self-defense angle has been preserved, but by making it unique and reducing the per-card defense to 3 total preventions, the rest of the Shire support area should be much more vulnerable as a result.|
|The bane of all mono-culture decks everywhere (and let’s be real, that’s almost all of them in later formats; the impact of Gríma, Chief Counselor (5R51) never really went away), Nertea has been shifted from an ARB killer to a lesser burden adder. 1-2 conditional burdens per site is still pretty good, all things considered. Plus, giving your opponent interesting choices is always a good thing.|
|Oh, Castamir. Architect of many a site 2 Movie block defeat, usually combo'd with Raider Halberd (7C156) to add an arbitrary number of exertions, which are then worth +2 strength apiece due to the enduring keyword.
Originally we had thought to reduce the enduring bonus from 2 to 1, but the complaints that "only" 19 strength wasn't enough to justify his use were not lost on us. Instead, enduring is retained but fierce has been removed, meaning that early Castamir plays will only kill one companion per site instead of two.As with Promise Keeping, we'll keep an eye on good ol' PJ Pirate to see if he warrants further adjustment.
|Raider has a lot of powerful initiative effects available to it, and War Galley makes it just a little too easy to activate, considering how prolific tokens are to Corsairs. This change requires that cards reinforce a specific War Galley to gain the same automatic initiative, which gives Free Peoples a chance to take it out. To compensate, the total number of tokens has been reduced from 6 to 4, which is 2 activations of one of the various double-reinforce effects (such as on <a href="/wiki/Castamir_of_Umbar_(8R51)" title="Castamir of Umbar (8R51)"><img alt="LOTR-EN08S051.0 card.jpg" src="/images/LOTR-EN08S051.0_card.jpg" decoding="async" width="359" height="500" /></a>). The twilight effect has also been limited to the Galley itself, rather than providing an easy deluge of twilight to halt stops.|
|With the right setup, Trolls can be played at or near free, AND overwhelm anything strength 8 or less, AND are fierce, AND discard a condition for free on play. There's altogether too much going on for a non-unique minion, so brakes have been pumped for the twilight discount, and the condition discard now requires you to give up one of your engines (and thus, make future Trolls more expensive as a sacrifice). As a bit of compensation, the site requirement has been adjusted to "any site 5", meaning that it will work in any site format and not just King block.|