Ever since trapping my first Hill Troll in a Forest Snare while playing Journey Down the Anduin, I’ve had a soft spot in my deck building preferences for traps. I was thrilled to see Entangling Nets come out as somewhat recent support for the archetype, and I was excited about another trap card here. Does Followed hold its own in this fan favorite archetype, or is it itself followed by its own problems and weaknesses? Let’s find out!
The natural home for a new trap card would be in a Lore-heavy trap deck, but Followed immediately presents us with a challenge – it’s in the Tactics sphere. I sometimes enjoy running Mablung as a Tactics hero in my trap decks, so it’s not too odd of a choice, but it already loses some synergy with traditional Lore trap strategies. So, in my mind, the first question to be answered about this card is where does it best fit? Where does it really find its home?
Most Lore traps play into the staging area, and the goal is either to let enemies stay there and rot (either stuck in a pit or slowly killed by poison), or to reduce the danger posed by enemies who do actually engage you (Entangling Nets, Forest Snare). The first point to note is that this card does neither. It neither prevents enemies from engaging you, nor reduces their combat danger once engaged. It offers an incentive to remain engaged with the attached enemy without destroying it. If this sees play in a typical Lore trap deck, then, it seems most effective when combined with a Forest Snare or Entangling Nets. Usually, trap decks don’t want to double up on traps on the same enemy, so this would mark the first time when doubling up on traps could be beneficial. I’m just not sure the benefit of doubling up on traps is really enough for this card, and it will likely not make the cut when narrowing my trap decks down to 50.
Where I think this card could have some usefulness is in a deck that wants to engage enemies and remain engaged with them, which pretty much perfectly sums up the Dúnedain archetype. Guardian of Arnor, Warden of Annúminas, Sarn Ford Sentry, Fornost Bowman, Heir of Valandil, Amarthiúl, and Descendants of Kings, for example, all care about the number of engaged enemies. With so many bodies tied up in defending a larger than normal number of engaged enemies, a Dúnedain deck can run into trouble successfully mustering enough willpower for the quest. Fortunately, Followed is there to help! And it is in a Dúnedain deck that I think this card really finds its home. No strictly Dúnedain cards care about the trap trait, so this card doesn’t really gain anything from being a trap (unless you’re running Damrod), so there’s not really any synergy there. Unless, of course, this card was specifically created to enforce a mashup of the two traits in a Dúnedain Trappers deck (see Seastan’s deck here), which would be pretty cool, but pretty niche.
It’s appropriate, then, that this card reminds me of Secret Vigil, which I play in a lot of my Dúnedain decks. Both care about the threat of the attached enemy, though Secret Vigil encourages you to destroy the attached enemy and does not have the trap trait. In hindsight, if Caleb knew this card was going to be made, I wonder if he would have made Secret Vigil have the trap trait. It feels like it should be a trap and would probably work better in a trap deck than Followed, which actually has the trap trait. If only they could switch, and Secret Vigil could gain the trait that Followed has!
In terms of theme, I again can’t help but compare this to Secret Vigil, which feels like it is stronger. You’ve been secretly spying on the enemy, so when you choose to destroy him, it’s at just the right time, so you stay more under the radar and gain some knowledge about the enemies’ movements and actions at the same time. With a name like “Followed,” I would think it too would play on something in the staging area, not something that’s going to come down and attack you every round. It could at least push something back to the staging area, like it’s running away? The fact that the card doesn’t stop the enemy from attacking every round doesn’t really give me the sense that the enemy is being followed – unless it’s the party of players that is being followed – but in that case the card shouldn’t be a trap, and the art definitely depicts an enemy running away, not a player character. I think there are some missed opportunities here to make this card better and to help it make more sense.
Regarding art, I actually really love this representation. The enemy is leaving behind a trail of blood (red, not black, so it’s not an orc I suppose), which accounts for how easily it is being followed. The style is pretty traditional, and I love artwork that depicts a scene in the woods, with heavy tree-cover. If only the card did what the artwork promised, and drove the enemy back to the staging area, or at least prevented it from attacking!
Readers, what do you think of Followed? Do you think it finds a home in a trap deck, or is it best used in a Dúnedain deck, with or without Damrod? I hope to finish up all of the remaining Poros cards with a final posting, before going on to reviewing my impressions of the Dale archetype from the new deluxe expansion in a more significant post. As always, thanks for reading!