Dark Numbers

Having spent the last semester in a Calculus II class I am glad to say that I'm almost done for a while with

Dark Numbers # Resource # Permanent-event # 1 MP
Stolen Knowledge. Playable on an untapped scout immediately after facing an Orc, Troll, or Man attack. Tap scout. Can be stored at a Haven. If not stored, discard to give +3 to an influence attempt against a faction by a character in the same company.

This is a pretty neat card. Aside from the cool use on the card, it is one of two cards that can be realistically used for Fate of the Ithil-stone or Pass the Doors of Dol Guldur (the other which I forgot to mention my review of Fate is Knowledge of the Enemy).

First off, this card is pretty easy to play, easier than Knowledge of the Enemy. Probably about 10+% of all decks have a fair number of Orc, Troll, and Man attacks, and you may find Assassins almost anywhere (especially on Al Amarja, but I digress). But you don't have to hold this card waiting for your opponent to play something. Off the top of my head, I believe there are more than 40 sites with Orc, Troll, or Man auto-attacks. And if you wait until the site phase to tap the scout you know that you don't need to keep your scout untapped for a Concealment (and this is a nice card to have if the scout is not in use for a card like Thorough Search). Once in play, you have two options. Store the card for 1 MP or carry it around to help with a faction. But unlike info cards, for instance, you can still untap your Scout and unlike cards like Rescue Prisoners, you get the points whether or not you store it, so the only point of storing the card is if you fear you may lose your scout.

As for the ability, it's pretty nice. You can make some influence attempts certain (e.g. Theoden doesn't fail to bring in the Ridermark on a 2 or 3) or you can make some odds more favorable (e.g. Aragorn with the Southrons). And the cool thing is, you don't need to tap the bearer, Aragorn can sneak into Sarn Gorwing, do a quick count, and then inform the Easterlings that if they don't join his cause the forces of Sauron may overwhelm Middle-earth. And while he's off talking to the Easterlings, the rest of his company can grab something else.

There are other cards that perform roughly the same function. Lordly Presence, for instance, gives +5 for a faction, but is only usable by a diplomat (like several other similar cards). Muster is, of course, better, but requires a warrior (who may be tapped) and is useless in, say, a Hobbit company. A Friend or Three is better for companies larger than 3 and can also help on corruption checks. However, Dark Numbers has two features none of the others have. The first is the fact that, if you feel safe with your chances, you can keep it for 1 MP (is a little risk worth an extra MP?). The other and bigger advantage is the fact that you can play it almost as soon as you get it in your hand. You don't have to take up an eighth of your hand for this card, you can play it and then use it when needed. Or you can stockpile two or three for a really sure shot.

So whether you use it to help Pippen with a faction, as an extra MP along with the item at the orc site, or to give yourself a decent chance at a faction in a sealed deck game, Dark Numbers is a nice little helper card.

Ratings for Dark Numbers:
Isildur: 8.0
Farmer Maggot: 7.0
Samwise: 7.2
Strider: 7.0
Legolas: 4.7
Beorn: 7.3
Fingolfin: 6.5
Frodo: 5.0
Average: 6.7

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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.