If you were unsure about whether to buy some Dark Minions, today's card ought to assure you that you should.

Durin's Bane - Hazard - Creature - 5 MP - 18/9
Unique. Manifestation of Balrog of Moria. Balrog. 2 strikes-all body checks resulting from a successful strike are modified by +1. May be played at The Under-gates and at all of its adjacent sites. If Doors of Night is in play, Durin's Bane may be played at any Under-deep site.

Wow. On top of the fact that it has the psychological advantage ("I'll play DURIN'S BANE on your company of Dwarves, chose the strikes"), it is also a very dangerous creature, probably much better than the original Balrog.

The first of its many great features is its prowess and body. 18/9 is equaled only by Shelob and, depending on how much you value body, Witch-king. It also has two 18/9 strikes, which means it's even harder to defeat. And if you do wound someone, with two strikes at 18/9 it's not that hard, the body check is at +1, which means that the character is easier to kill.

There are two drawbacks to this card, however. The first is the 5 MPs for defeating it, but if your opponent can pull that off he deserves it. The second is it's limited range of playability. It can be played at The Under- gates, one of the best under-deeps sites, as well as Moria, The Gem-deeps, The Sulfur-deeps, The Under-grottos, and The Under-leas, a failry wide swath of the under-deeps. Plus, if Doors of Night is out, which it quite frequently is, Durin's Bane can be played at any Under-deeps, which would be great except that it's cards like this which discourage Under-deeps journies.

Partly the reason that this card looks so good is because it's a lot better than it's earlier manifestation, Balrog of Moria. Their prowesses are the same, though Durin's Bane has body. Durin's Bane has one more strike. Durin's Bane has a wider range of where it can attack. The only advantage the Balrog has over Durin's Bane is the fact that it can be played easily, being a permanent-event. Even that, however, is not too good, as I have seen companies prepare and then go and kill my Balrog one too many times. With Durin's Bane it's a surprise ("I'll play a medium hazard creature, you'll tap, I'll play Durin's Bane ").

Durin's Bane stacks up fairly well against other similar cards too. It's not as versatile as most Nazgul, but it is stronger. It is a little bigger than Itangast, but he has more strikes. He's stronger than Smaug, but doesn't have the nice ability of being able to chose defenders (die, wizard, die!). Also, there aren't any cards (AFAIK) that affect Balrogs, so nobody's going to be going up against him with a +2 bonus vs. Balrogs.

Overall, Durin's Bane is a very powerful creature (one that can auto-wound any character with prowess lower than six) with a few drawbacks, mainly that it and cards like it scare people away from the under-deeps.

Ratings for Durin's Bane:
Isildur: 8.0
Frodo: 8.5
Legolas: 8.0
Wormtongue: 6.8
Strider: 9.5
Gandalf: 8.5
Smaug: 10.0
Average: 8.5

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Card names and text copyright 1996 by Iron Crown Enterprises, all rights reserved. This document copyright 1996 by Trevor Stone. Permission given to duplicate so long as no profit is made and the copyright notice is kept in tact, blah, blah, blah.