How disheartening. We come all this way and
The Way is Shut # Hazard # Long-event
A company moving to or from an Under-deep site must return to its site of origin. Additionally, cancels the effects of Secret Passage and Secret Entrance. Cannot be duplicated.
This is one of several nasty cards that can seriously deter anyone traveling in the Under-deeps. There are a number of cards that will seriously hurt spelunking companies, more powerful than their above ground versions, but aren't played very often because they are useless if the opponent doesn't go underground.
How useful is The Way is Shut? Simply, it stops a company in the Under-deeps from going anywhere for a turn. If she's got two companies, they both must stay where they are. If they want to go to the surface, too bad. Somewhat unfortunately, you can't play any hazards on them after you play The Way is Shut (by the turn sequence outline), but this isn't too big, as you can play nasty creatures on the company first, drawing out their cancelers and making them take chances, and then bring out The Way is Shut, making it all for naught.
This is incredibly useful if your opponent is dealing at all with the Under- deeps. Any card that returns a company to its site of origin, thus wasting a turn, is good. When the company would be going to the Under-deeps, where you can easily get 8+ MPs in one turn, this one card gives you a big advantage, or at least keeps your opponent from getting one. If you get really lucky and play this card and either Long Winter or Foul Fumes (depending on the situation), you can make a company heading up for fresh air go back down and at the same time tap the surface site, forcing the company to spend at least two more turns getting out.
Even if you don't tap the site, saving a turn can be vital. Since MPs in the Under-deeps don't count towards purposes of calling the council (though they do in the council itself), a company with a large MP lead may be heading up to the surface to call the council. By informing the company firmly that The Way Is Shut can give you an extra turn to close the gap, maybe even preventing your opponent from calling the council. Plus, it's good any time you get a turn and your opponent doesn't.
The second use of this card is good too, if rarely used. Secret Passage and Secret Entrance both make a company's journey safer, but they aren't normally used often enough to warrant specific defense (packing defense for Concealment and Thorough Search is a better idea). Still, a company thinking it will be unmolested on its way to a new site may have a new thought coming when you pronounce The Way is Shut! Or if your opponent seems to be making frequent use and misuse of these cards, and you're using The Will of Sauron, The Way Is Shut can do nicely coming out of the sideboard. In fact, WoS, The Way is Shut, and The Black Enemy's Wrath can seriously hinder a company planning on an Under-deeps journey. Of course, why else do people pack and Marvels Told?
The thing about this card, and other cards like Durin's Bane, is that in general, they've got a relatively low chance of coming into play. If your opponent is playing an Under-deeps strategy, great! If not (which, from what I've seen is the case about 90%-95% of the time), you've wasted a couple card slots that could be more effectively used. Thus, unless one of your frequent opponents drops down under a lot, The Way is Shut is yet another card that is best reserved for the sideboard.
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Card names and text copyright 1996 by Iron Crown Enterprises, all rights reserved. This document copyright 1997 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.