Smoke Rings

The second of the two cards I'm reviewing today is similar to the first. As Strider pointed out, it's kind of like Star Wars CCG where there's a light and a dark version of most of the cards.

Smoke Rings - Resource - Short-event
Bring one resource or character from your sideboard or discard pile into your play deck and shuffle.

While this card looks pretty similar to An Unexpected Outpost (figuratively, not literally), it's actually significantly different. On the face it seems that this is the same with hazards switched to resources/characters, there is quite a bit of difference.

First, Smoke Rings brings in resources and characters. While there are several other cards that can recycle resources, none can recycle characters. So this card can be useful if you plan on having resources you will use several times, or characters you anticipate to have discarded. But why would you anticipate having a character discarded? You hope that you will keep your starting characters around (or whatever your ideal companies are) and the only time I can think of when you would plan on having a character discarded is if you planned on using Sacrifice of Form, and under the recent Council of Lorien rules, you can have up to 3 of the same wizard. You might as well put a copy of a similar character than to put this card in and hope you draw it when you have a character you want in your discard pile.

As I mentioned, there are several cards that can recycle resources. One of the best is Vilya, even the watered down version can bring three times as many resources back to the deck. Also, like for hazards, you can use the Palantir of Orthanc. Plus, you can use cards that bring resources back to your hand like Saruman/Wizard's Staff, Nenselde the Wingild, Reforging, etc. Granted, they are more specialized, but you can put the one in that applies to your deck.

The sideboard is similar. I hardly ever see a character in the sideboard, unless it's a popular one and someone plans to influence it away. There are frequently resources in the sideboard that you will want. One Ring decks often put cards like Gollum's Fate and Cracks of Doom in the sideboard so that they can bring them in when needed. It might seem that it would be better to replace Smoke Rings in a One Ring deck with a Cracks of Doom, but chances are that you will draw Smoke Rings in the middle of the game or so, and then bring a Cracks into your deck so that it will come up in a few turns, saving a little bit of hand space.

However, you can achieve the exact same effect (or bring 5 cards to your discard pile) with a wizard for merely the cost of tapping him. Now, it may be that one extra card is worth not tapping your wizard for one turn, but most of the time the wizard has the advantage as he can tap whenever you need a sideboard card.

An Unexpected Outpost has one major advantage over Smoke Rings, and that is that if Doors is out, it can bring two hazards into the deck. Smoke Rings, while there are more cards it can bring in, can only bring in one. Thus, you may be saving quite a bit of space if you just added a card you will likely be getting (although if it's unique or if there are three already and you want more or you're not sure exactly what you'll want...).

So overall, Smoke Rings, like its companion card An Unexpected Outpost, is sort of a watered down version of a couple cards and game effects.

More back issues

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.

Ratings for Smoke Rings:
Isildur: 3.75
Frodo: 9.0
Legolas: 9.0
Wormtongue: 5.0
Strider: 5.0
Gandalf: 8.0
Smaug: 6.0
Eonwe: 8.7
Farmer Maggot: 9.0
Average: 7.05