So here are a couple of basic questions for card strategy:
1. How many card effects become useless if a group or region is completely controlled?
2. How much does it matter if I wait to attack an area? (How much stronger will they be?)
To answer these questions I counted up the number of cards that either require a group for activation (such as "army in Rohan" for "Paths of the Woses") and I counted up the instances of the target where the effect is likely to be used (such as "Gondor" for "Anduril").
Here's the raw data:
The count of FP cards based on region/race:
The count of reinforcements based on region/race:
Northwest: 0reg 5elt 0ldr = 10 hits (Shire, Ered Luin, Rivendell, coastal region)
Elves: 0reg 5elt 0ldr = 10 hits (Lorien, Woodland Realm, Rivendell, coastal region)
North: 3reg 3elt 1ldr = 9 hits (Shire, Dale, Carrock, coastal region)
Rohan: 0reg 5elt 3ldr = 10 hits (Edoras, Rohan settlement, Rohan region with companion, coastal region (see note))
DEW: 3reg 2elt 2ldr = 7hits (Dale, Carrock, Woodland Realm, Erebor)
Gondor: 3reg 5elt 2ldr + Rohan Army = 13hits + Rohan Army (Dol Amroth, Minas Tirith, Osgiliath, coastal region, Gondor region)
There is overlap that leads to double counting. "A Power Too Great" (can't attack elves) affects the elves as well as DEW and the Northwest, so it is counted in all those stacks. The toughest double counting effect was for Cirdan's ships. I counted any area within one space of the coast as being a possible use for Cirdan. Even Rohan can move one space from the Fords of Isen to the coast, pick up the elves, and jump back into Rohan. I've gained a new respect for that card. I used to think it was really good; now I'm thinking it is excellent. But it is tough to classify; the most common region of use will still be Gondor with the occassional Northwest appearance and the extremely rare Rohan appearance.
I think at most there are only a couple of cards where people will want to reclassify the region I listed for the card and it shouldn't impact the analysis too much. Feel free to make your own region classification.
NOTE: I used the card list from the files section here on the Geek. I'm sure that there are some mistakes either in the files or in my memory. For instance, "Faramir's Rangers" is listed as having the effect of killing Shadow Armies, but I was pretty sure that card also puts two units in Osgiliath. If I'm mistaken, let me know!
The next post will show the raw data, and the post after that will talk about some implications.
Man, is this ugly. If you're THAT curious let me know and I'll post a file somewhere.
Title Region Units Added
There and Back Again DEW/Dwarves/Elves/North/Northwest
Book of Mazarbul DEW/Dwarves
Grimbeorn the Old, Son of Beorn DEW/North 1reg 1ldr
King Brand's Men DEW/North 2reg
Dain Ironfoot's Guard DEW/Dwarves 1elt 1ldr
Thranduil's Archers DEW/Elves 1elt
A Power too Great Elves/DEW/Northwest
Celeborn's Galadhrim Elves 1elt
Kindred of Glorfindel Elves/Northwest 1elt
Challenge of the King Gondor
Dead Men of Dunharrow Gondor
House of the Stewards Gondor 1elt
The Grey Company Gondor 1reg
The Last Battle Gondor
Faramir's Rangers Gondor 2reg
Help Unlooked For Gondor/DEW
Paths of the Woses Gondor/Rohan ???
Cirdan's Ships Gondor/Rohan/Elves/Dwarves/North/Northwest 2elt
Guards of the Citadel Gondor 1elt 1ldr
Imrahil of Dol Amroth Gondor 1elt 1ldr
The Power of Tom Bombadil Northwest/North
Fear! Fire! Foes! Northwest/North/DEW
Swords in Eriador Northwest/North 2elt
Rage of the Ents Rohan
The Nameless Wood Rohan
The Red Arrow Rohan 1elt 1ldr
Riders of Theoden Rohan 1elt 1ldr
Eomer, Son of Eomund Rohan 1elt 1ldr
So what do we learn from all that mess?
1. Gondor is the strongest.
2. Knocking Gondor down fast and early knocks out quite a few good FP cards. You don't want to try and work on Gondor late in the game.
3. The regions are pretty well balanced from a card point of view.
So, in short, we don't learn about any new exploits based on this card analysis. The gut intuition you alreday had is probably an accurate understanding of reality
It does clearly drive home one point, however, and that is when you start to work an area, put it all down fast. If you delay in completely controlling a region, cards can surface to make that region much harder.
The lesson is simple and it's not new: Pick an area, focus on it, and finish it off before you move on.
Of course, you need the Shadow card analyis as well: for example Corsairs makes attacking Gondor much more attractive, while The Witch King Returns is a Northwest sort of thingummy...
I guess I was pretty lucky in my game, didn't see a single recruiting card. Possibly my opponent didn't realise he could play them in countries not at war, though.