Fate of the Ithil-stone

There are some cards that almost require you to base your deck around them. One of these is

Fate of the Ithil-stone # Resource # Permanent-event # (7) MP
Playable on a company at Minas Tirith if the company discards (for no effect) a Lost Knowledge card it controls. Tap this card if the company plays a Palantir; this card never untaps. If this card is tapped, invert it on the playing surface (rotate it 180) if the company enters Barad-dur and plays a Stolen Knowledge card during the same site phase. If this card is inverted, it can be stored at a Haven-only if stored do you receive its marshalling points. If this card is stored, all Palantiri give one less corruption point. Once inverted, no other copy of this card can be inverted.

This card is almost the epitome of combo-playing. I can only think of one other card in any other game I play that is near this hard to play with (I'm thinking of Bayushi Shoju, the dead champion, from L5R). It involves getting at least three cards in the right order, plus several turns of moving around. It takes a minimum of 4 turns to get the MPs, and that's just if you're lucky. Thus, you'd have to be insane to include this card in a competitive one-deck game, and a two-deck game is even pushing it. Or course, the reward is 7 MPs, more than any other card in the game (including The One Ring).

How exactly does this card work? First, your company has to get a Lost Knowledge card. There are precisely two of these cards to date, Forgotten Scrolls and Lost Tome. In order to get these minor items into play (they can't be in a starting company) the bearer must be able to take a strike at either 8 or 9 without weapons, which isn't too difficult. These cards aren't in too many decks, as the purpose they normally serve (making information playable at more sites) isn't particularly useful (though you could pull off a stupid Forgotten Knowledge/Look More Closely Later/Lonely Mountain combo). Once you've got the Forgotten Knowledge, you have to head to Minas Tirith, which means you probably can't have used it before. At this point, drop the Lost Knowledge to play Fate. You could influence a faction or play the palantir at Minas Tirith and then play a Lost Knowledge and then Fate. Once you've done that song and dance, you need to play a palantir. If you haven't already tapped Minas Tirith, it can be a productive use of a turn, playing Fate and then immediately playing a Palantir. While you're in that area, there are several places to grab a Palantir: Isengard, Minas Morgul, Cirith Ungol, and Dead Marshes. Now that you've accomplished all those confusing maneuvers, you must head to Barad-dur to face the auto-attacks (no easy task) with someone untapped to play a Stolen Knowledge card (even tougher). So far, there are two Stolen Knowledge cards, and one is only playable at Dol Gildur. Therefore, you must have Dark Numbers in hand when you visit Sauron's home. You'll also need a scout that can stay untapped, so you'll either want a strong group of warriors or a pair of Dark Quarrels (or other cancelers). Once you've done this, your opponent (or your other company if you're nuts) can give up on the quest, though the probability of that situation is almost nil. Now you've hit the home stretch, all you have to do is make it back to a haven without losing your entire company and you've got 7 MPs. Further, the palantir you played and any others have -1 corruption point, quite useful when you consider that a usable palantir usually gives 4 or 5 CPs. So to sum up, in order to use this card effectively you have to have at least one palantir, one Lost Knowledge, and one Stolen Knowledge, and draw them all at the right times. This is certainly 2+ deck activity.

So, once you've had all that fun playing Fate of the Ithil-stone, what good does it do you? Well, you've got 7 more MPs that can't be interfered with, but for that amount of activity you could easily get 7 MPs in items or factions or... Of course, there's nothing that can discard Fate aside from totally destroying the entire company, but factions and items are relatively safe. After writing this, I was reminded that Stormcrow will discard Fate and other similar quest cards if your wizard is in that company. Nasty. The -1 CP to palantiri is nice, especially if the game is going to go on for a while. It lets Saruman and his palantir recycle cards without fear of corruption, it allows someone with a Ring of Lore and a Fellowship to use the Palantir of Osgiliath without too much risk, etc. It also lessens the danger a palantir deck faces against cards like Lure of the Senses. Of course, for the three cards needed just to get Fate out, you could have three Fellowships or New Friendships or Free to Choose or... Fate might be useful to prevent having half of your MPs come from items (since it's misc.), but that's not too big of an advantage. There is one thing that Fate gives you, though, that isn't immediately reflected in the card: bragging rights. Anyone who successfully plays Fate of the Ithil-stone, stores it, and preferably wins the game gets a big shot of egotism and is entitled to her day in the sun. In fact, I will send a Dark Minions booster to the first person who wins a game with Fate of the Ithil-stone stored.

So if you don't have anything better to do, or you're up for a challenge of luck and patience, Fate of the Ithil-stone is the card for you. It may not kick as much ass as Aiglos or Revealed to All Watchers, but it sure beats Balance Between Powers amongst the Dark Minion rares.

Ratings for Fate of the Ithil-stone:
Isildur: 8.5
Farmer Maggott: 9.5
Wormtongue: 5.2
Frodo: 7.0
Bandobras Took: 9.0
Samwise: 7.3
Legolas: 6.0
Strider: 7.0
Beorn: 7.4
Fingolfin: 8.0
Average: 7.5

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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.