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card review Skin-changer

Card Review
Skin-changer: click to enlarge

Card text:

Only playable on Beorn. Until the end of the turn, his prowess and body are each modified by +2. If Beorn is chosen to be the target of a strike from an attack, he may choose to face a second strike from that attack (he faces a separate strike sequence for each strike). Beorn makes a corruption check modified by -2 after any attack made against his company. If still in play at the end of the turn, place Beorn in your hand. Any items he bears may be transferred to unwounded characters in his company (no corruption checks required).

  • Card Number: TD069
  • Rarity: Rare2
  • Card Type: Resource Event
  • Alignment: Hero
  • Artist: Heather Hudson
written by LV45
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Beorn is one of the most popular starting characters, rivaled only by Glorfindel II. He is also one of the most enigmatic character created by Professor Tolkien. Some literary critiques argue that Beorn was replaced in the Lord of the Rings by the more powerful and more weird (in both senses of the word) Fangorn (Treebeard). Beorn is an extremely bright perfectionist, who has a weakness for good tales well told but no tolerance for blundering fools and people who treat animals poorly. He and his relatives long to return to their mountain homes from whence they were thrust by the population boom of Orcs.

This card's art is fine, appealing to me in that it is close to my mental image of Beorn when he came to the rescue of the Dwarves/Elves/Men at the battle of Five Armies. The Lord of the Carrock is more fantastical, but less true to my mental image.

Card review? You want a card review? Ok, fine. Here I was all set to lay out a cross-index and concordance of every reference (explicit or implicit) to Beorn and his folk, then delve into their genealogies and the linguistical aspects of bear-speech, but NO, you want a card review. Fine. You probably don't like bag-pipe music either. Mutter...

Skin-changer is a powerful card, neither unique nor restricted in the number which can be played in a given turn. It is balanced by both the corruption check which occurs at the end of each attack upon his company and the "returns to hand" clause in the card.

To make this card work in your deck, you really will need to build your deck around Beorn and Skin-changer. Movement should not be too far from Beorn's House, as you will need to either travel there to meet up with him, or risk him travelling by himself. Do not anchor allies to him, nor plan on using Fellowships on his company (except perhaps as a last moment grace before Council.)

This is not a skill card, so it can be combined with Risky Blow and Dodge plus any spells should your wizard be present and ready to either kindle spirits, ignite his flame, or just fire off some hot sparks for deadly effect. Tap your three Black Arrows and have him wield either Aiglos, Wormsbane or Orcrist, and you have a truly have a bear of a fighter on your side. Just be prepared for the corruption checks with either Old Friendship, Emerald of the Mariner, A Friend or Three, etc.

Also, if you have a sage in the company and Fireworks in your deck, you should consider Beornings and Trouble on all Borders (ToaB.) Check out CotD # 648 by Treebeard for an in-depth look at the fun you can have with Beornings, their Toll charge and similar thematic fun.

Back to Skin-changer. This card is an anticipatable Call of Home or a great way to off-load a corruption encumbered Beorn. Play Skin-changer on him after the movement/hazard phase (and after the automatic-attack, if applicable) and thereby avoid the corruption check required by the card if Beorn's company faces an attack. Beorn can even off load any and all items to unwounded characters in his company without having to face a corruption check. You can thumb your nose at the corruption points on Orcrist or Aiglos and corruption cards played on Beorn by your opponent.

Should you find that you are short on influence, play this card on Beorn to gobble up some MPs and then have him take his leave of the company. This doesn't even cost you your one org phase character in or out of play allotment (the other exception being An Unexpected Party; see p 123 -- a card which had to be mentioned here considering the context.)

If you want Beorn back in play, you need to how to bring him back repeatedly. The best method combines three (3) A Chance Meeting with either meeting him at his home with your wizard (if in play), or if you can, bring him in to play at his home site and then have him meet up with your company.

This last option is riskier to plan on, but because Beorn is travelling from home in his jerkin and beard, Alone and Unadvised does not phase him, nor does Enchanted Stream (he did tell the Dwarves to avoid all contact with the water from the one stream in Mirkwood, being black and strong [p 133].) If you wizard is in play, though, you will have a tough time generating enough direct influence by a non wizard who is at the site. I believe the following is permissible, as the language on the cards says "to one influence check", and we know that one must check a given character's DI at the time he or she makes the attempt to bring another into play as cards like Shut Y'er Mouth affect the DI available. [Yes, some of that was tongue in cheek.] So, going out on a limb...

You can have an elf ruler (Cirdan, Elrond or Galadriel) strike up a New Friendship with this fierce leader of one of the houses of the Edain, or have someone like Thorin II, Theoden, Legolas, Imrahil, Gloin, Gimli, Dain II, or Arinmir draw upon their Old Friendship with this fine man.

Lastly, he has the ability with the card to act as a bodyguard, while avoiding the card slot penalty associated with Many Foes He Fought. Use up the Cram or Waybread during the attack, so that he faces a reduced CP value for the corruption check. The untap permits you to take the first strike tapped (9/11) and then do it again for the second strike. Otherwise, you _only_ offer a convenience store defense against those succeeding waves of hazard creatures (7/11). Were I to intend to use in the bodyguard mode Beorn in his aspect as a Skin-changer, I would probably include Many Foes He Fought, as this would enable greater flexibility of response.

So, Skin-changer is a card for the gizzled veteran players of Beorn. Defensively (anti-corruption) or offensively (hunting parties), this card can really bear fruit when played well.


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 August 10, 2011 08:04 am

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Avatar for duff6551
Member since
November 15, 2002
Subject:    Posted: August 10, 2011 08:04 am Reply with quote Report content icon

very good review of the pros and cons of the card but what makes it special is the off the wall humor at the beginning - all to often card reviews are dry and game specific with little or no humor to brighten it up - thanks for the chuckle and the useful info -
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