167.html|@/@@TEXTR*chl`t~R~ Playing Hazards

Strategy Week Day 5: Playing Hazards

Playing hazards is one of the most fun parts of METW, though it does also have some actual value in play. Hazards are your one direct way of contact with your opponent, the way in which you really play against each other, and the only way to stop your opponent from acheiving all their goals and winning. Playing them strategically is therefore extremely important to winning at METW.

Playing hazards is even less a structured thing than hand management. There really is no wrong way to do it, so this issue will mostly focus on some good tactics to make your hazard plays work better. First we'll look at creatures, then permanent, long, and short events, and finally a bit of general strategy for all of those.

We start with creatures. Creature attacks are one of two ways (the other being corruption cards) in which you can destroy someone's wizard and therefore win the game in the third and final way. The most important thing with playing creatures is playing the right ones at the right time. A valuable thing to look for in creatures is "Attacker chooses defending characters", an ability available to several of them, as well as Nazgul when used with Fell Beast and with some Dragons (Bairanax, Daelomin, Earcaraxe, Scorba, and Smaug). This allows you to make creature attacks cause a little more harm, by insuring they hit characters who can be hurt by them but not who are too weak to be worthwhile targets. The ultimate harm for hazard creatures, of course, is Torque of Hues (and other attack cancellers). This card can do HUGE damage to creature attacks, and is in fact (IMHO) the main reason not to just stuff your hazard deck with creatures. So the way to avoid this is to use this strategy: play a fairly harmful attacker chooses defenders creature on someone pretty weak, hopefully drawing your opponent out to play (and tap) his Torque of Hues on that. Then blast him with your REALLY good creature, who he can't stop because his Torque of Hues is tapped. Also, of course, another key thing with hazards is enhancers. You should always try to play at least one enhancer with every really good hazard creature (Dragons, Nazgul, etc). You don't absolutely have to, but it's a good idea. Playability enhancers are often the best kind to play. Finally, TAKE ADVANTAGE OF REGIONS. If your opponent's in a shadow-hold and you play some weak creature like Crebain, you've wasted a great opportunity, in which you could have played a Nazgul with Fell Beast or one of the better Drakes.

Next there's events. We'll do them in decreasing order of permanent-ness. First permanent-events. PLAY WILL OF SAURON!!! That's the first rule of hazard permanent-events. Play it and play Doors of Night and play some long-events that hurt your opponent hopefully more than you. The other key hazard permanent-events (not counting some individual ones like Balrog of Moria) are corruption cards. Play many of these, as many as possible, since they do no harm to you and quite a lot to your opponent. If you're opponent's busy removing corruption cards he'll be too busy to get out factions or get The One Ring. And therefore you can, and win the game by doing so faster/more than him. There are also other cool permanent-events (like the At Home dragons), which I won't get into much here, but they are very useful as well.

After permanent-events come long-events. The key to hazard long-events is once again Will of Sauron (and Doors of Night, which you need to play it and to enhance them). There are some REALLY powerful long-events, like Foul Fumes and Worn and Famished. And of course the Ahunt Dragons. If you play a fair number of Ahunt Dragons you can cover a huge part of the map. The one problem with hazard long-events is that they affect both you and your opponent, so you have to deal with them as well. Therefore, the main strategy with these is to select ones which won't really affect you for a few turns, at least not in very significant way, and to make sure you can easily cancel them if the need arises. Finally there's short-events. These are all somewhat diverse so I won't go into any specific ones, but the idea with these is to play them whenever they seem appropriate, whenever they'll have a good use. Make sure you know very well which ones you have in hand, and exactly what they do, so that you can remember to play them when they'll have a decent effect. It's a horrible feeling to just barely miss winning with a Dragon strike and then suddenly remember you have Passion of Wrath or Dragon's Desolation sitting in your hand. But that's about all I have to say about those.

Finally, some general strategy. First, remember what your goal is: to disrupt your opponent's play. It's okay to have a little fun, in fact it's a good idea, but make sure that when you're playing hazards they're helping at least a little to accomplish this goal. Don't waste a Nazgul on a Hobbit if there's a better choice is what I'm trying to say here. Also, GO FOR THE WIZARD. If it's a choice of attacking Aragorn or the Wizard and there aren't any enhancers on either side it's probably a smart idea to go for the Wizard instead of Aragorn. But that's about all I have to say; as I said before, much of this is just your own choice and there isn't really much of a wrong way to play hazards.

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