Dale was for many years just a trait with no meaning whatsover, until the Wilds of Rhovanion deluxe came out. Here's the complete history of Dale cards to that point in the game:
Brand son of Bain (Emyn Muil)
A multi-player only hero, though quite useful in that niche.
Ravenhill Scout (Redhorn Gate)
a 3-cost lore ally with lousy stats (0/1/1/3), his big ability is moving progress locations from one location to another. Highly unpopular.
Celduin Traveler (Nin-in-Eleph)
A 3-cost 2/0/1/2 ally who costs only 1 in secrecy, has an enter play ability that lets you scry the top card of the deck and discard it if a location (not generally the sort of card that gets dreaded). Completely unused outside secrecy decks and not so popular inside.
Lanwyn (Thing in the Depths)
An FFG-invented hero who reacts well to Surge cards, most valuable in multiplayer.
Rhovanion Outrider (Temple of the Decieved)
At long last, an actually valuable Dale ally. A 3-cost 1/2/1/2 spirit ally, he also places a progress on a location in staging when he quests -- and if that progress didn't explore the location, he gets +1 willpower. He's a worthy Northern Tracker competitor (at least for less than 3 players) for less resources.
Knight of Dale (Dungeons of Cirith Gurat)
A 4-cost 2/2/1/3 ally you can ready by spending a resource (and once for free if in Valour) -- fairly unpopular, since draining resources just to ready a 2-attack ally doesn't really excite anyone.
And that was it -- no theme that tied together, mostly terrible, and the most famous of Girion's line (Bard the Bowman) didn't even get the Dale trait.
Then came Wilds of Rhovanion and everything changed. The new deluxe was essentially a deck in a box. It gave you a new hero (Leadership Brand) who buffed willpower of Dale allies with attachments and gave you a card when you put an attachment on them. It gave you another hero who also had Dale, and could put items of any color on people, and it gave you a Dale-ally discount card that also let you ignore sphere. Those were the tools, then you were given four new Dale allies, all good quality, three useful attachments to put on them, and an event that generates resources for a Dale hero based on characters with attachments. Suddenly you could make a powerful tribal deck with nothing more than the core set and this deluxe.
Subsequent packs added four more Dale allies and an attachment that can go on Dale allies. Though looking for just the Dale keyword can miss Dale-friendly cards, both released before and after. *Any* leadership/spirit attachment (or lore/tactics attachement) that can go on a Dale ally are valuable, old cards like Spare Hood and Cloak and Raiment of War are excellent, as are new cards like Grey Cloak and Squire's Helm.
Probably the biggest question for a Dale deck is who to pair with Bard and Brand -- though SpBard isn't absolutely required. Of the 94 ringsdb creators using Leadership Brand, six of them left Bard on the sidelines in their most recent deck. Seastan's power deck here used SpBeregond and TaBoromir:
In a Le/Sp/Ta deck the only attachments you miss are lore items, and meanwhile Beregond and Boromir can handle combat while you ramp up. Another reason to leave Bard out is to take advantage of King of Dale's out-of-sphere ability to exploit Lord of Morthond, like this deck from Beorn:
The one practical obstacle is that King of Dale itself is a spirit attachment, so mono-Leadership can't play it out of the gate. Beorn's deck had four ways to solve that problem -- Celebrian's Stone on LeAragorn gives him spirit, Song of Travel gives anyone spirit, A Good Harvest event lets you spend resources as spirit, and the Galadriel ally can play spirit attachments she finds in the deck.
But most creators went with Bard and Brand for their most recent Dale deck, and of those decks the sphere for the third hero broke as follows:
Those chosen 3 or more times as the third wheel were as follows:
Lanwyn is the remaining Dale hero (since TaBrand is the same hero as LeBrand) so is a thematic choice -- so is TaBard, the great grandfather of SpBard. Since many (including myself) recommended WoR as a suitable first expansion for new players, there's a lot of Dale decks with *only* those two products used, and Beravor is the most popular of the core heroes by far as a third wheel. Galadriel's ability to let new allies quest with exhausting goes well with allies that get a willpower bonus from LeBrand, and Grimbeorn is one of the rare heroes that can handle both defense and offense well out of the gate.
Since Beravor was the most popular choice, I analyzed Dale decks iwth a LeBrand/Beravor/SpBard lineup. Three more creators used such a lineup before their most recent Dale deck, one of those decks was unreadable so there were 17 decks to analyze.
- [+] Dice rolls
Here's how often the Dale allies were used in my sample of decks, listed in order of percentage:
17/17 North Realm Lookout
16/17 Long Lake Trader
16/17 Redwater Sentry
7/8 Guardian of Esgaroth
6/8 Long Lake Fisherman
12/17 Warrior of Dale
2/3 Descendant of Girion
2/17 Knight of Dale
2/17 Rhovanion Outrider
0/17 Celduin Traveler
0/17 Ravenhill Scout
Only North Realm Lookout was in 100% of the Dale decks, but all Dale allies released in Ered Mithrin were in a majority of eligible decks except for the very expensive Wiglaf. Meanwhile, the earlier Dale allies were either mostly or totally neglected -- I think that's a particular shame in the case of Rhovanion Outrider -- if you have a location in staging he can quest for 2 + progress, bumping up to 3+progress if it doesn't clear, and that's good value for (with King of Dale) probably 0 or 1 resources -- and if they're not needed for questing they start with 2 attack.
Of course, North Realm Lookout quests for 3 in a Dale deck with an attachment, and without exhausting -- and it is one cheaper. But since they only have one attack, I usually put Spare Hood and Cloak on them so they can ready someone actually useful instead of fighting. But that also means that my Long Lake Traders spend their time moving the cloak back to the lookout.
Redwater Sentry is my favorite a 3-cost 0/1/2/3 who reduces armor cost by one and gains +1 defense and sentinel with armor attached. So by attached the wonderful Hauberk of Mail to him, for free, you get a 0/1/4/4 sentinel defender with both restricted slots still open -- Beregondish defense.
The much less popular Warrior of Dale is the attack version of sentry -- 3-cost, 0/2/1/3, reduces weapons by one and gains +1 attack and ranged with a weapon attached. Unfortunately, the Yew Bow isn't as good as the hauberk -- it gives a point of direct damage and is already free, so his discount is worthless, he's used a restricted slot and he's just three attack with a point of direct damge -- that's still good value, but it's not like having a 4/5 defender. Using Raiment of War instead makes him a 4-cost attacker but leaves no room for the bow -- puttin Raiment of War on Sentry still leaves room for the Hauberk; with the two card together he now has 5/6 defense!
One non-Dale ally should be mentioned, Wild Stallion is a 2-cost 1/1/1/1 ally who can convert to a +1/+1/+1/+1 restricted attachment on an ally -- that's obviously most useful in a Dale deck. 4 out of 5 eligible decks included that card as well.
- [+] Dice rolls
There are five attachments that specifically name Dale:
17/17 Bow of Yew
17/17 Hauberk of Mail
17/17 King of Dale
17/17 Map of Rhovanion
0/0 Armor of Erebor
None of my sample used cards from Mount Gundaband or later, but Armor of Erebor's ability to grant sentinel is uselss on Dale's best defender, Redwater Sentry. Map of Rhovanion places 1 progress on the active location, it's a cheap attachment to power up Lookouts.
What about other ally-friendly attachments? Here's the ones used 2 or more times:
3/3 Valiant Determination
6/8 Squire's Helm
4/17 Spare Hood and Cloak
2/8 Ancestral Armor
3/17 Self Preservation
2/17 Raiment of War
Most of these are defensive buffs, but Valiant Determination lets an ally quest without exhausting -- it's most useful on Guardian of Esgaroth, which gets +1/+1/+1/+1 for each attachment (limit 3), since you get double duty with his buffed stats.
What other attachments could be used in a Dale deck? Here's some older attachments that could come in handy not mentioned already:
Mariner's Compass (on a scout) can be used to switch out locations in staging with one near the top of a deck, before traveling.
Grappling Hook (warrior) can be used for late questing, using attack.
And some from the most recent cycle:
Grey Cloak (spirit/scout)-- free attachment that can be discarded to prevent a non-unique enemy from engaging.
Round Shield -- restricted but 0-cost, a shadow triggering adds 2 defense.
- [+] Dice rolls
There's only one event that mentions Dale, and it is in all decks:
17/17 Traffic from Dale
This can generate insane amount of resources in a Dale deck. But the other events in Wilds of Rhovanion are also focused on attachments:
4/17 To Arms
0/0 Valour of the North
The last is a tactics event so was unplayable, but it lets you buff an attacker or defender with an attachment. Bartering lets you return an attachment to hand to provide a discount to your next attachment -- the appeal in this deck isn't the cost savings as much as the card draw caused by taking an attachment away and putting it back. To Arms readies an ally with an attachment, but wasn't deemed sufficiently compelling for most decks.
- [+] Dice rolls
- mark veraUnited States
Great review! The dale deck looks super powerful but for someone like me whos somewhat new to the game, this arch-type also looks very difficult to play effectively. That said I'm so down to give the dale cards a swing because they also look really fun to play and have a "keep you on your toes play-style".
Valor of the North would be fantastic when paired Grimbeorn and other trap cards since he can take advantage of both the attack and defense boost.
- [+] Dice rolls
- Kyle ReeserUnited States
dalestephenson wrote:Dale was for many years just a trait with no meaning whatsover, until the Wilds of Rhovanion deluxe came out.I think you're being a little hard on yourself here
- [+] Dice rolls
- Jason KUnited States
Ravenhill Scouts are far too niche.
I’ve tried to find ways to make them effective, but there are so many better cards that do quickly and cheaply what Ravenhill Scouts take time and set-up to accomplish.
Also, the fact that Bard does not have the Dale trait drives me nuts.
- [+] Dice rolls