|Card draw simulator|
Odds: 0% – 0% – 0% more
|Fellowships using this decklist|
|None. Self-made deck here.|
Action windows in this game can be confusing. Here's what the rules reference (pdf link here) says about them:
An action ability may only be triggered during an action window. When an action window opens, the first player has the first opportunity to initiate an action, or pass. Opportunities to initiate actions then proceed in player order until all players consecutively pass, at which point the action window closes and the game advances to the next step on the timing chart. Note that if a player passes his or her opportunity to act, but all other players do not consecutively pass in sequence, the original player may still take an action when the progression of action opportunities comes back around to that player. Resolve each action completely before the next action opportunity.
One of the biggest factors that helped me improve my play, especially when I was a new player, was understanding when I had the opportunity to perform an action and when I didn't. I decided to put together this guide so that my experience could benefit others as well.
I have included below the full round sequence chart from the Rules Reference, where each action window is in red text. Along with each window, I have included some general gameplay tips as well as some common cards that get used during that window.
If you have other gameplay tips regarding a specific action window, let me know! I might add it to the sequence chart and credit you!
0.0 Round Begins
I. RESOURCE PHASE
1.1 Resource phase begins
1.2 Gain resources
1.3 Draw cards
- This is the only window in which you can play Captain's Wisdom, since it's specifically a resource action. Therefore, you cannot perform a combo like Heir of Mardil followed immediately by Captain's Wisdom, because Heir of Mardil must be played with other attachments during the planning phase, at which point the opportunity to trigger resource actions has passed.
- Other generic actions can be performed here. One example of an action I have done here is Heed the Dream to search my top 5 cards for Captain's Wisdom, as doing this in the resource phase means I can play it right away.
- If I have multiple copies of Sneak Attack in hand along with Gandalf, sometimes I will use this window to play Sneak Attack+Gandalf just for the card draw. He will come back to my hand at he end of the phase, so I can do it again in the Planning Phase.
1.4 Resource phase ends
II. PLANNING PHASE
2.1 Planning phase begins
2.2 Special action window
- This is an action window in which any player may trigger an action as usual.
- This is also a special action window in which the active player (in addition to triggering standard action abilities) is permitted to play ally and attachment cards from his or her hand.
- So while allies and attachment must be played in player order, actions can be performed in any order. To illustrate this, here are some examples of what is allowed and what isn't:
- It is player 1's turn to play allies and attachments. Player 2 plays Deep Knowledge and everyone draws 2 cards. Player 1 draws into a ally they want to play. Player 1 is allowed to play it, because it is their turn to play allies and attachments.
- It is player 2's turn to play allies and attachments. Player 2 plays Gléowine. Player 2 then triggers Gleowine, choosing player 1 to draw a card. Player 1 draws into a ally they want to play. Player 1 is not allowed to play it, because it is not their turn to play allies and attachments.
- It is player 1's turn to play allies and attachments. They have a 2-cost ally they want to play, but do not have enough resources, so they pass. It is now player 2's turn to play allies and attachments. Player 2 plays Steward of Gondor on one of player 1's heroes. Since all players can perform actions in any order, player 1 can immediately trigger Steward of Gondor to gain 2 resources, and can now afford their ally. However, player 1 has already passed the opportunity to play alles and attachments, and is therefore not allowed to play their ally this turn.
2.3 Next player (in player order) becomes active player (loop back to 2.2, or proceed to 2.4)
2.4 Planning phase ends
III. QUEST PHASE
3.1 Quest phase begins
- This action occurs before players commit characters to the quest. For that reason, one of the most common actions performed during this window is Sneak Attack to bring Gandalf into play so that he can commit to the quest.
- This is also the only time at which Gildor's Counsel can be played.
3.2 Commit characters
- The action window after committing characters to the quest and before staging does not get used too often, but there are some cases where it might matter. For example, if you are 1 resource short of playing Risk Some Light, you could commit Théodred and a lore hero to the quest, give the resource too the lore hero, and then play Risk Some Light before revealing any cards.
- Another example could be that you just saw the top card of the encounter deck with Firyal and it's a nasty treachery. Instead of discarding it, you could use this action window to send a resource to a spirit hero so that you will be ready to play A Test of Will and cancel it instead.
- A third example is if you have Elrond with Light of Valinor and Vilya attached. You might not want to exhaust Elrond to trigger Vilya before committing characters because then Light of Valinor won't do anything -- so you can do it here instead. Of course, this means that any ally you turn up with Vilya won't be able to commit to the quest.
- This is the only action window where Battle-fury can be played.
- You can use this window to use readying effects like Unexpected Courage to ready a questing character to avoid effects like the Necromancer's Reach. But take care which quest you're playing against, because you might not want to use Unexpected Courage just yet if there are treacheries like Weighed Down (suggestion courtesy of @Goggen).
- This is one of the most important action windows for new players to learn. it allows you to adjust your total willpower after revealing all the cards in the staging step but before determining how much progress you will make. Some examples of cards that can make good use of this action window are Éowyn, Protector of Lórien, Nenya, Bofur, Hobbit Pony, Grappling Hook, Elrond's Counsel, and many others.
- In addition to actions that increase your willpower, you can perform actions to decrease the staging area threat. Cards like Secret Paths are an obvious way, but you can also use a card like Hands Upon the Bow to remove an enemy from the staging area (suggestion courtesy of @Goggen).
3.4 Quest resolution
- There aren't many times where doing an action here makes more sense than in the action window immediately before this one. It's too late to affect the outcome of the quest. However, if you have just advanced the quest stage during 3.4, there may now be an action that you want to perform before the Travel Phase begins. This could come up in the quest Flight of the Stormcaller, where you advance to stage 2A and add http://hallofbeorn.com/LotR/Details/Waterspout-TGH to the staging area. This action window allows you to play a card like The Evening Star or Heirs of Earendil to get rid of the location before you are forced to travel to it.
- Personally, my main use for this action window is with Bofur. Sometimes, you will tie the in the staging area or be short by 1 when resolving the quest. In these cases, using Bofur's action before 3.4 means you will succeed at the quest, forcing him back to your hand at the end of the phase. Instead, you can play him during this window, since the quest is already resolved and your total no longer matters. You will have still tied or failed the quest, allowing Bofur to stay in play permanently and aid in all your future rounds of questing.
3.5 Quest phase ends
IV. TRAVEL PHASE
4.1 Travel phase begins
4.2 Travel opportunity
- Note that the action window in the Travel phase is after travelling. This is why a card like Mariner's Compass, which is meant to be used before travelling, needed to be a Response rather than an Action.
- One of the most common actions to perform in the travel phase you be one that helps you avoid travel costs, like Thror's Map or Ghân-buri-Ghân. Note that you could travel to a location with a positive effect during 4.2, like Old Forest Road, then in this action window, switch it out using Thror's Map for something with a negative travel cost. This would then let you travel to the positive location again in the future (suggestion courtesy of @sappidus).
4.3 Travel phase ends
V. ENCOUNTER PHASE
5.1 Encounter phase begins
5.2 Optional engagement
- Between the optional and the forced engagements is another opportunity to perform actions. This is the point at which a card like The Hammer-stroke, Noiseless Movement, Advance Warning, or Grey Cloak would be used.
5.3 Engagement checks
- This is the last action window before the combat phase, and is therefore your last chance to perform healing actions before archery damage is applied.
- This is the only window where Arrows from the Trees can be played.
5.4 Encounter phase ends
VI. COMBAT PHASE
6.1 Combat phase begins
6.2 Deal shadow cards
- Archery damage is applied in 6.1, before any action windows in the combat phase. This unfortunately means that it is not possible to use Sneak Attack or Prince Imrahil as a way to put archery damage on a temporary ally.
- This action window occurs even if no enemies make attacks during the combat phase.
- Some of the most common actions performed here are Feint, Thicket of Spears, and Haldir of Lórien. It's also the only window in which you can play Tireless Hunters.
6.3 “Resolve enemy attacks” process begins
6.4a Active player resolves next enemy attack.
6.4b Enemy attack initiates (active player chooses enemy)
- This window occurs even when an enemy makes an immediate attack against you, for example the Haradrim Elite. In this case, it's obvious which enemy you "choose", but regardless you can still perform an action after doing so. This means that if you have an exhausted defender, you have a chance here to ready them before the next step. So it's a great window to use cards like Boromir, Unexpected Courage, Narya, etc.
- This action window is too late to play a card like Feint on the attacking enemy, because the attack has already initiated, and Feint will not stop an enemy in mid-attack. This is why you want to play Feint in the previous action window. You could still play Feint on enemies that haven't attacked yet though.
6.4.1 Declare defender
- After exhausting your defender you have a chance to perform an action before revealing the shadow card. This is your last chance to get a useful effect out of shadow-card discarding actions like Gandalf's Staff or Rider of the Mark, because these is no action window between revealing and resolving the shadow card.
- If you have the ability to ready your defender (Unexpected Courage, Boromir, Narya, etc., it's often (but not always) wise to do so now, before revealing the shadow card. This is because the shadow card might discard your Unexpected Courage, or simply have an effect that prevents the defender from readying for the rest of the round.
6.4.2 Reveal and resolve shadow effect
- This is another really important action window for new players to learn. Similar to the window that allows you to adjust your before the determining quest progress, this window allows you to adjust your defense value before determining the combat damage. So if you turn up a shadow card that gives +1 , you can counter by triggering an action like Protector of Lórien or Blade Mastery in this window.
- If your defender is damaged, you still have an opportunity here to perform an action to heal them before applying the damage from combat. But be careful -- there are shadow effects can deal direct damage, so waiting to heal after resolving the shadow effect is not always the best idea.
- If you've revealed a nasty shadow effect that is going to wind up killing a hero, remember that it's not too late to kill the enemy with Quick Strike or Skyward Volley, preventing its attack from resolving. Other tricky actions are possible too -- I remember playing a game with someone who, upon revealing a shadow effect that made the attack undefended, played Sneak Attack+White Tower Watchman in this window to avoid losing a hero.
6.4.3 Determine combat damage
- Similar to the post-quest resolution action window, there aren't a whole lot of reasons you'd do an action here, where it no longer affects the combat, than in the one immediately before.
- One marginal case I can think of:
- If your defender received damage from combat,
- and is 1 away from dying,
- and has The Spider's Web attached, so they take 1 damage when they ready,
- and you aren't able to declare any attacks this round, meaning there are no more action windows until the refresh phase.
- Then, you can use this window to heal your character before they take damage and die at the start of the refresh phase.
6.4.4 Enemy attack ends. If active player has more enemy attacks to resolve, return to 6.4a. Otherwise, proceed to 6.5.
6.5 Next player becomes active player (return to 6.4a). If all players have resolved enemy attacks, proceed to 6.6.
6.6 “Resolve Enemy Attacks” ends
6.7 “Player Attacks” begin
6.8a Active player declares next attack.
6.8b Player attack initiates (active player declares target of attack and attacker(s))
6.8.1 Ranged option
- This is your opportunity to perform -boosting actions.
6.8.2 Determine attack STR
- Have I ever used this action window? Nope. I can't think of anything that would benefit from being played after adding together your strength but before dealing the damage. It's too late to boost your by any more at this point. I have some use cases in mind where you might actually want to use this window, but they are really far out there and unlikely to come up in a real game.
6.8.3 Determine combat damage
- This is the last action window before the refresh phase, so it's often the window where I trigger cards like Henamarth Riversong or Gléowine that haven't been exhausted yet.
6.8.4 Player attack ends. If active player has more player attacks to resolve, return to 6.8a. Otherwise, proceed to 6.9.
6.9 Next player becomes active player (return to 6.8). If all players have resolved player attacks, proceed to 6.10.
6.10 “Player Attacks” end.
6.11 Combat phase ends. Discard all shadow cards.
VII. REFRESH PHASE
7.1 Refresh phase begins
7.2 Ready all cards
7.3 Raise threat
7.4 Pass first player token
- The action window in the refresh phase comes after the threat raise. This is important to keep in mind for treat reduction effects. If you are at 49 at the end of the combat phase, you will hit 50 and lose before you get a chance to use Aragorn's once-per-game ability.
- Allies that go away at the end of the round (Gandalf, Ranger of Cardolan, etc.) can get one last use here before they leave with cards like A Very Good Tale or Word of Command.
- While it's common to use the action on Steward of Gondor in the resource phase, keep in mind that it can also be triggered here. For example, you may have a card you want to play in the refresh phase, like Peace, and Thought, but not enough resources to pay for it. But keep in mind that it will remain exhausted through the beginning of the next round.
- Note that the next action window is in the next round, after gaining resources and drawing cards in the resource phase. So let's say you are playing with Erestor, and discard your hand at the end of the round. There is no action window to trigger the effect on Galdor of the Havens before drawing cards in the next round.
7.5 Refresh phase ends
0.1 Round ends
When an enemy makes an attack against you outside the standard gameplay framework, like the Haradrim Elite, you follow through all the substeps of step of 6.4. This would open up some action windows during staging when there normally aren't any, and any player could take advantage of these windows to heal, draw cards, or any other action. But note that if an attack occurs outside of the combat phase, some actions you might be used to playing during combat are not allowed, like Goblin-cleaver, since it's specifically a combat action.