Balance Between Powers

Today is the anniversary of Gandalf's first Card of the Day. I was going to do an extra issue with something special, but I haven't had any time due to the holiday season. I may do it in the next few days, or I might put it off until issue #365 (there were a couple of weeks when no reviews were done).

Balance Between Powers # Resource # Permanent-event
Environment. No environment cards can be played. At the start of your organization phase, discard this card or keep it in play by discarding an environment card form your hand. Your opponent can then discard an environment card from his hand to discard this card, which you can counter by discarding two environment cards from your hand, which he can counter by discarding one, which you can counter with two, he with one, etc. Discard when any play deck is exhausted.

Balance Between Powers is, IMHO, the worst card in the set. By Murphy's Law, therefore, I managed to get three of this rare card. It can help you out for a turn, but after that it becomes a pain to keep around. The art (by Nicholas Jainschogg) perfectly captures Frodo in a moment of intensity.

First, this card has a couple good points. It prevents the play of environments for at least a set of turns. Many good cards are environments. Doors of Night and Gates of Morning are two, which help many others. The main use of this card is to avoid nasty hazard environments, though if your opponent is heavy on resource environments, you can stop that too. Among the nasty environments avoided by this card are Choking Shadows, Morgul Night, Clouds, Awaken the Earth's Fire, and Snowstorm, just to name a few. This can really hurt a Nazgul deck, which depends heavily on environments. This card also prevents Twilight being played on cards in play like Doors or Gates. However, if your opponent plans on playing environment cards later, he will probably just Twilight the Balance Between Powers.

So this card can prevent environments for a turn. But what if your opponent wasn't planning on playing environments this turn, but maybe in a few turns? Sure, you can use this card on your way to somewhere dangerous, but you might get hit on the way back. With an ability like this, you want to keep it around. But in order to keep it around, you have to have a bunch of environments, which is not the sort of card you want to base your deck around if you want to play this card. The bidding process is really annoying. In order to keep it around, you have to discard an environment, which means in most cases you will only keep it for a couple of turns before you find you don't have any more in hand. And if your opponent really wants to play environments, he'll probably be able to outbid you with a ratio of 1:2. Plus, in the time that this card is normally around, I usually find that there's only one or two environments that I don't like, so if you replace this card with a Twilight or three, you should be okay.

There is one card that works well in combination with this card: Nenselde the Wingild. You can have Ioreth pick her up and stay in Edhellond (with Ioreth there to play Marvels Told :-) and have Nenselde repeatedly bring back that Gates of Morning every turn. But this combo only works as long as your opponent doesn't have an environment to discard to counter, which is when you would want this card to be in play.

So Balance Between Powers can keep you safe for a turn, but not much better than a couple of Twilights. And keeping it around really is a pain, unless you are in DESPERATE need of cycling.

Ratings for Balance Between Powers:
Isildur: 2.5
Frodo: 7.5
Bandobras Took: 8.0
Cirdan: 3.5
Alatar: 3.0
Legolas: 3.0
Samwise: 6.5
Gandalf: 8.0
Farmer Maggot: 6.5
Strider: 6.0
Beorn: 7.1
Wormtongue: 4.0
Fingolfin: 4.0
Average: 4.8

So ends the anniversary issue of the Card of the Day. Hopefully it will continue for another year either under my control or by the guidance of some other devoted disciple.

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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.