What a Card: Albert Dreary, Entertainer from Bree

Category: Lord of the Rings
Last article published: 2 January 2019
This is the 18th post under this label

I may have a big collection of cards from Decipher's Star Trek Collectible Card Game, but I also have a few others. If I'd had more cash on hand, I would have probably invested more in their Lord of the Rings TCG because the mechanics were quite cool. As it stands I have one starter pack and that's all...

EXPANSION: The Fellowship of the Ring

PICTURE:
Director Peter Jackson put himself into each of the films in the trilogy, but the best by far is as a rain-drenched citizen of Bree, chomping on a massive carrot. Decipher gave each cameo a card, and this is necessarily the best. (It's also the character that reappears, or pre-appears, in The Desolation of Smaug.) The carrot is in gorgeous contrast against the blues and blacks of the rest, and "Albert" has just enough wind in his hair to make a simple standing shot dynamic. Plus, the rainy atmosphere. I want to give this one a 5 out of 5.

LORE: Albert Dreary is not in the books, so this is all invention, including the name. Peter Jackson only called him Carrot Man, and the Lego game had him as Bree Peasant, but LotR wikis and internet articles seem to have embraced the name, so bravo Decipher. One imagines it's "Dreary" because of the weather conditions in Bree, I don't know where Albert comes from. And they've invented everything else. He might be an "entertainer" because Peter Jackson himself is in the entertainment business. As for the lore itself, it's pretty basic, though it at least sounds Tolkienese. They make him pretty unassuming, but worthy of inclusion in the game (will defend his home). You might have expected from Easter Eggs, so 3.7.

RING SENSE: Well if he's "typical of Bree-folk", why is he a unique character? Though pretty neutral really, he's an Ally because if you're not for Sauron, then you're against Sauron. He belongs in Home 1, the first leg of Frodo's journey, naturally. And he's a Man, duh. As a cheap ruffian, his Twilight cost is low (that is to say, he's unlikely to be noticed by the Eye). Stats make sense, Strength and Vitality both at 3, which make him tough but not remarkable. Should he really be part of the "Gandalf culture"? His special ability certainly points that way, but if we take to me he's a versatile or hand-to-pigeonhole character (like the wizards), then okay, fair enough. Or we may be heading into Easter Egg territory. Albert doesn't look like much, but Peter Jackson IS a great cinematic wizard and certainly in control of the world as we see it in the movies, though we might ask why it's necessary for Gandalf to be present (spotted) for him to show up. Is he one of those who shows up when called (as per his lore), and is Gandalf making that call? But once he's there, it gets kind of mechanical. He Exerts himself (there's a lot of running and fighting in Middle-Earth, so exertion is a good name or being "tapped" or "used") to destroy an Isengard or Moria (Uruk or Goblin) condition. That's very vague and powerful for a guy best known for biting a carrot. Again, Peter Jackson is the God of Movie Middle-Earth so it may be a reference to that, and the two cultures specified are two that show up in Fellowship, but he has no specific relationship to them. A blanket power for a simple bumpkin like him is really inexplicable, and that takes the score down to 2.6.

STOCKABILITY:
Obviously, the ability to destroy an opponent's conditions is quite useful... IF that opponent uses Isengard and/or Moria in their deck. But from what I hear, if a deck uses Gandalf (and most do), it's a sure bet Albert is also in it. Among the most potent conditions he can destroy is Greed, which is a Companion-grinder that hoses decks with big Fellowships (I mean, it's the reason they had to split up in The Two Towers!). The Maneuver phase is early enough that you can target Archery, Assignment, Skirmish, or Regroup cards before they can hit. Other good cards to knock out include Worry, Saruman's Ambition, Weary and Goblin Swarms. You can also call him up from the draw deck at a moment's notice using A Wizard Is Never Late to get the ability in play as soon as possible. There are relatively few Gandalf-culture characters, so it's good to have Albert somewhere in there. And I mean, there's a certain coolness factor that comes from using the grand poombah of Middle-Earth. Have a carrot at the table so you can crunch at it and annoy your opponent. A 4.4.

TOTAL: 15.7 (78.5%) I haven't scored any others, but he's not dreary at all!

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