The Lidless Eye introduces a swag of new concepts for the Middle Earth game; covert and overt parties, detainment attacks, leaders and combat between hero and minion parties are a few of the more significant. Smoke on the Wind and Burning Rick, Cot and Tree are a more subtle extension of the game's possibilities, despite the chaos and desolation they represent.
Pillage is something one would expect out of any self-respecting orc and I'm glad that wanton, mindless destruction have been included as a viable option to achieve victory for the dark side. (The fact that covert parties may actually be better equipped to torch and ransack lacks flavour, but is probably more accurate.) For simplicity and colour, I'll continue to refer to these two as the Pillage cards.
The Pillage cards have a number of advantages. First, they're a lot less complex and risky than Mission cards. Missions require time to complete, while the Pillage cards are instant. Mission cards require a character to remain tapped throughout the ordeal whilst the Pillage cards do not. With Missions, if the card bearer dies or corrupts away, the mission is lost. This cannot occur with Pillaging. Once begun, your opponent knows exactly where the party has to go and do in the near future, and saves hazards accordingly. Even visiting an appropriate site does not mean that you intend to Pillage, as there are other reasons why a player would head to a given Freehold or Borderhold.
Herein lie the joys of Pillaging. To begin with, it doesn't have to be the main reason you visit a site. Further, you can choose to play the card only if the situation merits. Beyond which, it's undertaken in the site phase, so it's extremely unlikely that a hazard will be played (on guard) to effect the resolution, meaning the risk is easier to quantify. And finally, the MP's gained immediately, so `staying tapped', storing, corruption, hazards, theft and influence attempts just don't enter the equation. To pillage is to bask not only in the fires warm glow (heh, heh), but also in the security of MP's safely in the bank.
Pillaging can also be a neat add-on, with one of the two popped in the mix for the right situation. Alternatively, it can be the very basis of your resource strategy.
The two Pillage cards are very different, and it worth considering the strengths and weaknesses of each.
Smoke requires a Freehold, while Burning lights up on Borderholds. There are many of both, but Freeholds are by far the more strongly protected. Freeholds also lie in regions frequented by Thranduil's Folk, Beorning Toll, Arthedan Rangers and similarly rugged creature hazards, so they are a difficult proposition, especially for overt parties.
By comparison, many of the Borderholds lie in less sensitive terrain and are guarded by attacks as docile as 5 prowess. Of course, if a choice greater or special item is being sought, the party might be Freehold-bound anyway, and will (presumably) be prepared for the worst the free-peoples can dish out. Border holds have less to offer as prizes, but many of them have gold rings, and Lidless Eye is a very gold ring-ish game, so many strategies will consider visiting them. This combines well with Come By Night Upon Them, which ensures an easier victory over the defenders and allows you to play two items before you decide to sack the town, either this turn or the next.
The principle downside is that many of the Borderholds are home to high scoring, reliable man-factions. But, there are enough to go around, so muster the Dunlendings and torch the Hillmen after stealing their loot.
Of the Pillagable sites, the best Freeholds are probably Beorn's House and Thranduil's Halls, where the auto-attacks don't pack the punch of Minas Tirith, Dol Amroth or Bag End. A properly equipped covert party could do a solid number on either. (The idea of elves going in and burning the wooden halls of Thranduil may seem unlikely and repugnant to some, but remember we are talking about the kin-slayers.)
Easier targets are Borderholds like Woodmen Town, Lake-town and the paper tigers that inhabit Dale. A bunch of trolls and the beefier orcs will not even have to consider tapping to face these auto-attacks, leaving them to face the card-based attacks of Burning at full strength. Grab the gold rings, light the match and there's two marshaling points your opponent can only stare at across the table.
Burning is definitely the better all-round option for most decks. Sure, Smoke earns that extra MP, but the ante is much higher. It's a rare card and, like many rare cards, is intended for the well tuned deck and the player with tournament-level finesse.
Original card review taken from : http://fan.theonering.net/morgulrats/
With the authorization of the webmaster.
The reviewing team consisted of Gwaihir (Chris Farrell), Gimli (Nathan Bruinooge), Ohtar (Charles E. Bouldin, Esq.), Radagast (James Kight), Joshua B. Grace (Beorn), Martijn Steultjens (Fram Frumgarson), Jason Klank (Saruman) and Jeffery Dobberpuhl (Wormtongue)