With all the prisoner taking and nasty hazard creatures in Dark Minions, I'm surprised that Spider decks didn't make a bigger showing. One thing that does help them, though, is

Flies and Spiders - Hazard - Permanent-event
Playable on a character facing a Spider attack. If the strike is successful, target character is not harmed and is taken prisoner at a Ruins & Lairs. During his untap phase, make a body check for that character modified by +1. If not eliminated, his player then makes a roll (draws a #) adding his body. If the result is greater than 15, the character is automatically rescued into his own company located at the rescue site. Rescue-attack: Spiders - 3 strikes with 9 prowess.

Well, first a few words about prisoners in general and then some comments about this card in particular. First, prisoners can seriously disrupt a player's plans. By taking a major character, like Aragorn, prisoner, even for a few turns, can prevent your opponent from getting those last few MPs he needs while you garner a lead in MPs and call the council. However, since the rescue sites almost always have to be pretty near to the site the company is going to, it will usually only be a turn or two before the character can be rescued. Further, as with agents, you have to use your own sites for holding the prisoners, but it's (probably) only going to be a few turns. One other nice ability of prisoner taking is that it discards all non-ring items, which can completely devastate a strategy, especially if you then go get a unique item they discarded.

This card in specific has a couple of different features. First, it, of course, is most useful in a spider deck, although spiders are in short supply (Shelob, Spider of the Morlat, and Giant Spiders, and Lesser Spiders not counting auto-attacks). Fortunately, those creatures are pretty buff (and help themselves out, along with Wake of War), so wounding a character isn't too hard (though they aren't actually wounded). It's next ability is that the character has to face a body check each untap phase at +1 (which means it's easier for him to be killed). This is a bonus this card has over other prisoners cards, but this is somewhat made up for by the disadvantage of the character getting a chance to free himself. These two combine in an interesting way. First, with someone like Theodon (6 body) it's pretty likely that the body check will kill him. Even if he stays alive, he'll have to roll better than a nine to get free. Thus, this card is best used against characters with low bodies, although you might be better off just letting the wounding happen and get a good body check roll.

This card has a few disabilities. The first is the aforementioned chance of the character escaping. The second is minor disadvantage that the site must be a ruins and lairs right near the company's site path. The last is inherent in all prisoner cards, and that is that it is easily discardable by Marvels Told and Palantir of Osgiliath, but if you can discard all of a characters items AND make his company go without him for a turn or so, you're doing pretty good. One other thing to watch out for is Noble Hound. That faithful pooch can put this card (and the strike) to no effect (except discarding the Hound).

One other minor point is that the rescue attack is three strikes at nine prowess, one point of prowess higher than most, to make up for a slightly worse prisoner ability. So over all, Flies and Spiders is a fairly average prisoners card, but like any prisoners, can be really good.

Ratings for Flies and Spiders:
Isildur: 8.0
Farmer Maggot: 8.0
Gandalf: 6.0
Frodo: 6.5
Strider: 6.5
Legolas: 7.0
Eonwe: 7.0
Samwise: 9.0
Average: 7.25

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.