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card review Shelob's Lair

Card Review
Shelob`s Lair: click to enlarge
Shelob's Lair

Card text:

Nearest Darkhaven: Minas Morgul Playable: Items (minor, major) Automatic-attacks (2): (1st) Orcs - 2 strikes with 8 prowess (2nd) Spider (cannot be canceled)-1 strike with 16 prowess: any character wounded is immediately eliminated Special: Contains a hoard. Non-Nazgûl creatures keyed at this site attack normally, not as detainment.

  • Card Number: LE401
  • Rarity: Uncommon
  • Card Type: Site
  • Alignment: Minion
  • Artist: Rob Alexander
Shelob's Lair
written by LV43
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When a new expansion of ME:CCG is released, what normally happens is that players start tearing their boxes and look at the cards. And in every expansion there are cards that initially get rated "Oh no, this can't be, how can they do that, NO WAY you can get around that". And then people go on trying to become the first player in their playgroup to actually get around just that.

Such a card was the MELE version of Shelob's Lair. In METW, the toughest place in the books was mirrored in a lame major item shadowhold without the word 'spider' in the card text. At least, in the MELE version, arachnophobia has kicked in.

First, the good sides of this card. It's a shadowhold in a shadowland, situated in the same region as one of the starting havens for your minion companies. This means you haven't got too much to fear creature-wise when travelling there (although a Chilled Elf-lord, the #1 MELE hazard combo, is a possibility). True, creatures keyed to this site attack normally, but most of the time hazard players don't bother putting too many creatures that can be keyed to shadowholds into their anti-minion hazard portion. So you might end up facing a Chill Douser, but it won't get much rougher normally. Only when your opponent is running a wolf/spider/animal deck you might want to reconsider your move, because this could mean facing Shelob herself. It's also a major hoard item site. This could be seen as yet another advantage for minion players: hero players don't have any major item sites in the same region as havens, minion players have two (Zarak Dum in Angmar being the other one).

However, if you take a closer look, you'll find that Shelob's Lair isn't exactly the land of milk and honey. The first auto-attack is already above average for a minion shadowhold, but it can be dealt with. But then you get a spider attack of Balrog-like prowess which cannot be cancelled, and which effectively reduces the body of defending characters to zilch. This was the part that gave players that ambiguous feeling of "no way, how do you beat that, oh, I think i must try this one".

It indeed seems a bit harsh on your faithful orcs and trolls, and therefore there are of course ways around it (it is after all MECCG we're talking about, The Game That Gets Around). There are basically two ways to negotiate this spider attack:

[1] The Sacrificial Lamb. Just feed Miss Octopod a nice Orc brawler for breakfast and she'll let you in. You have to make sure you've got one of those untapped after the first auto-attack, otherwise you'll be in for a nasty surprise.

[2] Cancel the Strike. If it says that the attack cannot be cancelled, that doesn't mean you cannot cancel the strike. Orc-stealth would be prime choice for this, a lone scout with a Ruse is more stylish but also more vulnerable (since he would effectively need another Ruse to get by the first auto-attack). And we all know the rarity of Ruse... The card to fear when going to Shelob's Lair is of course Tidings from Bold Spies. You may be ready to outwit Lady Arachne once, but can you do it twice, or even thrice, if the proper awaken/arouse/incite cards are in play? If you think it only remotely possible that your opponent is running such a hazard-strategy, don't go to Shelob's Lair. You won't live to tell.

So, once you've successfully negotiated the auto-attacks and you've entered the site, what's there to do? In other words, is it worth the trouble? As said, you can play minor and major items, even hoard items. Now, this would rock if there were cool major hoard items to play. However, there are only three minion hoard items, one of them a greater (Thong of Fire).

This leaves the Usriev of Treachery (major) and Old Treasure (minor). A minor item is never a reason to go anywhere (especially here), and the Usriev (What is that anyway? The closest thing to it in my dictionary is Usquebaugh, and that's not something to kill Elves with. Slainte!) is not exactly a basic utility item. It might be worth it if you're playing a hero opponent. Just to *beep* him off, go to Shelob's Lair and get the Magical Harp or Bow of Dragon-horn. But I don't think Shelob's Lair is worth it itemwise in the end.

A better use of the site may be playing Last Child of Ungoliant, Shelob's minion ally manifestation. With the new erratum to Stay Her Appetite she might lose her nickname of Miss Backfire yet. And especially if you're running a strategy centered around Minas Morgul (Mordor factions and Gondorian misc. points) her Tom Bombadil-mirroring ability makes bringing her into play a worthwhile effort.

To make the most of it, after playing The Orphan, you should get some War-Wolves and Snaga-Hai working for you as well.

All in all, Shelob's Lair is one of the most dangerous sites in the game (next to the Under-gates). Don't let the hoard lure you there, it's not worth it. Some decks could make pretty good use of The Last Child of Ungoliant, however, and that's the only valid reason for visiting this place.

Just pray Gollum wasn't spying on you & told Her you were coming

Fram Frumgarson

Original card review taken from :
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)


Modified on October 16, 2011 06:16 pm

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Author Message
LV63 United States send message

Avatar for duff6551
Member since
November 15, 2002
Subject:    Posted: October 16, 2011 06:16 pm Reply with quote Report content icon

minion players take heed- an uncommon card with lots of potential - lots of drawbacks too but the game is a gamble and this card can make the ploy work if handled properly
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