When I was young I used to love to go up and down spiral staircases. One really cool spiral staircase is on the picture of
Ancient Stair # Resource # Short-event
Playable only at the end of the organization phase on a company that starts its turn at an untapped adjacent site of an Under-deeps site. Opponent may draw up to twice the normal number of cards for this company during the movement/hazard phase. If company moved to an Under-deep site, at the end of the turn the company may replace its site card with the site card at which it began the turn.
This card is the Great Road of the Under-deeps, allowing you to take a dip down, grab a couple items, and be home in time for supper. The most common use is to go from the surface down and back, but it could also be used to go from one Under-deeps site to another and return to the first.
The most common use for Ancient Stair is if there is an item you want that you can only be gotten down under. It can also be useful if you want to play two items, but don't want to have to spend an extra turn or two getting out of the Under-deeps. The requirement that the original site be untapped means you can't go to Goblin Gate, grab a ring, and then drop down to the Under-grottos to get a couple items and test the ring. It does allow you to head over to Mount Gundabad, drop down to The Under-leas, grab Aiglos, and then head to another surface site the next turn. Why is this advantageous? If, for some reason, you just have a few Under-deeps cards in your deck, Ancient Stair can save you a turn. Or you can drop down to the Under-deeps, gain an (unlikely) maximum of 17 MPs (though 8 or 9 is likely), and then call the council that turn, denying your opponent the extra turn to catch up. Or try this as an obscure combo: send your company to Morannon (or Wondrous Maps if you change Udun to a Shadow-land), then use an Ancient Stair to go down to The Under- galleries, play an item or two, and then return to Udun, getting the 3 MP from The Under-galleries without the hassle of going up by another route.
There are, of course, disadvantages to using the Ancient Stair (and the elevator is broken, so you can't go up that way). The main disadvantage is that your opponent gets to draw twice as many cards. If nothing else, this allows him a bigger shot at getting a good resource for the next turn (up to an 8 card draw), but it also means he's got that many more cards to draw a Durin's Bane, The Black Enemy's Wrath, The Way Is Shut (wasting you a turn and a card), or some other nasty card to hit you with. It's true that he would get to draw the extra cards on your way up anyway, but there's a better chance that many people will draw something to hurt someone at The Pukel-deeps rather than at Dunharrow. The second disadvantage to this card is that you still have to deal with the auto-attack (as well as any creatures your opponent provides). This can lead to a tapped company, but unlike Great Road, you are not forced to return to your original site, so the worst that can come of it is you wasting a card and letting your opponent draw a couple more. The main reason not to include this card in your deck, though, is the fact that most Under-deeps decks plan on hitting several sites underground before returning to the surface, so Ancient Stair isn't very useful. But if you need to go down for something like Gems of Arda, Ancient Stair can help you out.
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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.