The people of Rohan, the Rohirrim, are the Horse-lords of Middle Earth. They are a people constantly at war - with the Orcs, the people of Dunland, and against Saruman the White. This has made the Rohirrim a strong culture, who appreciate life and are willing to fight for their way of life when they need to. During the War of the Rohan, the king of Rohan, Théoden was bewitched by Saruman. When Gandalf freed him, Rohan was able to fight back the armies of Saruman's Uruk-hai and aide in the final battle against Sauron. This strength and nobility shows in the power of the Rohan culture to win skirmishes and to punish your opponent.s minions turn after turn.
Rohan is the first new Free Peoples culture introduced into the Lord of the Rings TCG by The Two Towers block. While they are of the race of Man like Gondor, Rohan is a separate Kingdom and has their own unique flavor. Rohan has many powerful companions and allies who can fight when needed and can provide constant assistance to the Fellowship. They can match the strength of most minions and can easily find the pumps they need to win skirmishes. The people of Rohan are most at home on their mounts, companions like Elite Rider, and Éomer, Third Marshal of the Riddermark gain bonuses when their mounts exert their opponent's minions. This also delivers more wounds to minions which allows the Riders to finish off high vitality minions more easily. Being mounted can also provide movement bonuses along the early site path and additional benefits from skirmish events like Work for the Sword.
Rohan also benefits from possessions more than most cultures do. Théoden, who was under the spell of Saurman and Gríma, is a weak companion when he is not armed. With a strength of 6 and a vitality of two, he is easily dispatched. However, if he carries his sword, Herugrim, and the Gandalf condition, Hearken to Me, he becomes one of the strongest companions in the game. This kind of power is what Rohan excels at - beefing up a small number of companions to the point where they can take on anything the shadow player throws at them. With the addition of three companions in Battle of Helms Deep who can play possessions outside of the Fellowship phase, Rohan now also has a way to get around the high twilight cost of many of their cards.
Rohan will continue to be a powerful culture throughout the Two Towers block and into the Return of the King block as well. As one of the best options for a single culture deck, they will see even more competitive tournament play as Gríma, Chief Counselor begins to affect the play scene.
by Joe Alread Game Designer Decipher, Inc
When we entered the design phase on Battle of Helm's Deep the TCG studio felt that while Rohan has some powerful utility cards, they needed more cultural definition. With cards such as Simbelmynë, Weapon Store and Éomer, Rohan had many generic strengths but when put together, needed a more cohesive feel to them. Along with all this, their strengths came at a relatively expensive price. With Rohan seeing little action in the tournament circuit and players screaming for justice, we decided to answer the call.
Possessions, Possessions, Possessions
A theme The Two Towers base set first touched on with Rohan was their specialty in possessions. Their culture has lots of them, and in general they are above average compared to other cultures.
Brego, Firefoot, Eowyn's Sword
If you were to compare the cards above to their equivalents in other cultures, you would find them to be superior in many ways. With that premise in mind, we took Rohan possessions and gave them a flavor no other culture has.
Playing Cards Out of Phase
The LotR design team hadn't really investigated this concept yet. Cards playing during different phases sounded interesting, so we gave it a shot. After several iterations, we came to three final versions.
Eowyn, Daughter of Eomund, Gamling, Warrior of Rohan, Theoden, King of the Golden Hall
As I said before, the power of Rohan possessions was somewhat weakened by the fact that they cost so much twilight. By spending one or two twilight tokens per possession easily gave a Shadow player enough pool to slow down a Rohan fellowship easily. By allowing Rohan to get around this drawback finally gives them the teeth they need to survive.
We wanted to create a large number of these companions who get to play possessions out of phase. For now we only have three, but I have no doubt that in the future we will be expanding on this concept a whole lot more!
Some of the new possessions released in Helm's Deep also have a bit of their own flavor.
Rohirrim Shield, Rohirrim Helm, Rohirrim Bow
Each of these possessions discards to use its special ability. This was done to facilitate reusing these possessions at a later point in the game. Even though these possessions cost you twilight, you can compensate for this by using one of the three companions above to get around it (Of course, you don't really get around the cost, but you prevent your opponents from having access to it during their Shadow phase, which is important).
At one point in time these were a lot more complex. We had allies who allowed you to place possessions from your discard pile beneath your draw deck, and other mechanics that let you take the bottom card of your draw deck into hand. We wanted to create a "mini-armory" on the bottom of your deck.
Through testing though it soon became apparent that there was just way too much going on in a game to let something like this happen on a repeat basis. Imagine every turn having to search through your discard pile, picking a card, picking up your deck and placing a card beneath it. Then later on you'd play a card that would make you pick up your deck again and take that bottom card back into your hand. Quite the circus.
So, in the end we abandoned the concept for simplicity's sake. There are lots of other things we have planned for Rohan and its possessions though, and their viability will only improve with the release of future expansion sets.