Most of the comments about Dark Minions have gone to cool new hazards and new and better hazard strategies. However, the set also has ways to counter those strategies, or just help on its own.

Barrow-blade - Resource - Permanent-event - 1 MP - 1 CP - +1(3) Prowess Tap the bearer of a Dagger of Westernesse during the site phase at a Ruins & Lairs and play this with the Dagger. Dagger receives +1 prowess (+3 versus Undead and Nazgul). Cannot be duplicated on a given Dagger.

Well, this makes a nifty common card niftier. It's got a few good points and only minor drawbacks. It can also fit in nicely with a Hobbit or book based theme deck (just hand it to Merry :-)

This card's biggest bonus is the +1 prowess. Now, that's not a lot, but it can make the difference between a dead character and a merely tapped character. And after ten or twenty strikes, one prowess really adds up. Still, there are nicer ways to boost prowess such as Glamdring or Sword of Gondolin. Better is the +3 against Undead and Nazgul (that's not in addition to the +1 for other stuff). When you combine this bonus with Dagger's one, you can get a pretty good character. For instance, Peath with a Dagger and a Barrow-blade facing a Nazgul is at 13 and his body is halved (this at least avoids on almost all of the Nazgul).

Keep in mind, however, that the bonuses from this card are applied to the Dagger and not the character's prowess. The difference is that it still can't boost you above the 8 max of the Dagger (similar thing with Map to Mithril). Thus, to get the fullest bonus from this card you should put it on a character with 4 or lower prowess, although if you aren't anticipating too many undead or Nazgul, you can do just fine by giving this to a 6 prowess character.

Another advantage of this card is that it can be played at a Ruins and Lairs (tapped or untapped) during the site phase. Thus, you can have the rest of your party dispatch the auto-attack, get some items, and then enhance someone's dagger. You can't, however, play this on a just found dagger, as the receiver must be untapped. The other part of getting this card into play, having a dagger, is relatively simple. Dagger of Westernesse is one of the best general minor items, and is a good candidate for a starting minor item if you don't need a more specific one (like Black Arrow or Elf-stone). You could also include a Dagger in your deck, or in your sideboard for use with Cup of Farewell and then Armory, but if you start with it you will be almost assured of having the Dagger present when you draw Barrow-blade.

The other disadvantage for this card is the one corruption, which adds to the one already there from the dagger. This is slightly balanced by the 1 MP, giving a 1:2 MP:CP ratio, which isn't very good, but better than 0:2.

So Barrow-blade is a nice little booster, not too powerful, but easy to play.

Ratings for Barrow-blade:
Isildur: 6.0
Farmer Maggot: 8.0
Gandalf: 3.5
Frodo: 8.5
Strider: 7.5
Legolas: 6.5
Eonwe: 7.0
Samwise: 7.1
Wormtongue: 7.0
Average: 6.8

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.