This week, I’d like to begin breaking up my player card reviews into shorter, more manageable segments, focusing on a single card at a time, and hopefully published more frequently. We’ll begin The Crossings of Poros with a look at our long-spoiled, Tactics, Ent hero Quickbeam.
I asked Caleb himself at Gen Con last year (this card has been spoiled for a long time) for clarification on the missing unique symbol on early copies, and he was able to confirm it was merely an oversight. I do believe later printings of this card do include the unique symbol, and that correction may have been what delayed this pack for so long.
Quickbeam is a solid hero with a fair cost. His low defense and high hit points means you won’t likely be using him for defense (which is thematically appropriate), because his hit points are meant to be used for his action, but he can contribute an average amount of willpower to questing and then attack up to twice in the same turn. His restriction on restricted attachments is par for the course for an Ent character (it wouldn’t really make sense for an Ent to be walking around wearing citadel plate).
His action would be decent on any hero, but Quickbeam’s Ent trait makes him better suited for it due to the existence of Wellinghall Preserver. One Preserver with hero Elrond in play, or two Preservers in play, and Quickbeam gets basically a free readying every round. There are no shortage of great healing options, though, especially if you’re already playing Lore for the Ent synergy. Self Preservation basically turns into an unexpected courage. Warden of Healing with Elrond would be amazing here, and even Daughter of the Nimrodel would be better than usual. Ent Draught isn’t healing, but it increases the number of times a turn you can ready Quickbeam.
Action advantage is always great in this game, but again, I feel like Quickbeam’s Ent trait makes it better in this particular case. If you’re running an Ent tribal deck, you’re playing lots of allies that enter play exhausted (slowing you down a turn), and chances are high you’re playing with at least one (if not two) Hobbit heroes, whose low initial stats and low hit points can make combat interesting until you get set up. Quickbeam’s action advantage fits especially well in this context, because he helps mitigate the hit you’re taking on pacing by playing slow allies and squishy heroes. This would be a bit more advantageous if he could be solidly used for defense, but it is an advantage for this kind of deck nonetheless.
Given that Quickbeam’s abilities really shine because he of his trait, he is definitely a build around kind of hero. He’s low in versatility and won’t readily be able to slot into many decks. He could find a home in any deck with a moderate amount of healing, but you may be better suited going with somebody else in that case.
Within the Ent framework itself, however, I must confess that I’m not sure what the best hero lineup is for this card. Combining him with Treebeard means that your starting threat will be pretty high, unless you’re planning on only running two heroes. You could make a case for a two hero deck here (Folco could start as your third hero), because of Strider, and Treebeard would give you access to Lore for healing. Hobbits usually find a home in Ent decks as well, due to both thematic reasons and their low starting threat. Leadership Faramir also gets good mileage in an Ent heavy deck due to his ally readying ability. The bottom line with Quickbeam is that you need access to Lore for healing.
One of the biggest drawbacks to playing Treebeard as a hero alongside Quickbeam is that you would lose access to ally Treebeard, who I actually still like quite a lot. (I wonder if Treebeard’s cost of two resources to ready himself was in any way used as a model for Quickbeam’s two damage to ready himself.) Of course, one of the biggest drawbacks to playing hero Quickbeam is losing access to ally Quickbeam, whose high stats for low cost makes him one of the most playable allies in the game. Ally Quickbeam is definitely more splashable than his hero version, but hero Quickbeam seems like he would be fun in a dedicated Ent deck. He’s basically an Ent version of Tactics Boromir. Tactics Boromir is still the better hero overall, but Quickbeam finds a better home in a devoted Ent strategy.
Thematically, this card is pretty on the mark. Quickbeam is actually the English name of the rowan, also called mountain ash. The rowan is mentioned in Quickbeam’s song in The Two Towers, as several of these trees were in Quickbeam’s keeping but destroyed by Saruman. Quickbeam’s name in Sindarin is Bregalad, which means “quick (lively) tree.” The prefix “breg-“ denotes “violence” and “suddenness.” Quickbeam was so named due to his hastiness, uncharacteristic of the Ents. Quickbeam was the Ent that watched out for Merry and Pippin during the Entmoot, and he was a highly motivating factor in the Ents’ decision to attack Isengard.
His ability, then, in both his ally and hero card forms are well suited to his character. Ents are generally not hasty or easily roused by nature, but Quickbeam can be with some effort. This mechanic recalls to mind a mechanic from Decipher’s The Lord of the Rings TCG called “exert,” where you would place a damage on a character for some effect. In that game, you couldn’t exert a character to death (though you could in theory with hero Quickbeam here), but there’s a lot of similarity. I like to think about Quickbeam’s ability in terms of “exerting” him to rouse him to action.
I have some mixed feelings about Quickbeam’s art, but I mostly like it. Quickbeam is one of the younger Ents in Fangorn, but the art depicts him with a mustache and longer, gnarly hair. I suppose Quickbeam is still old in people (or Hobbit) terms, so maybe that’s a little unfair, but I think the card could have done a better job at making him look younger. In the scene, Quickbeam is holding a rock that he likely just rent from the earth, and the background is dark, suggesting this is depicting the assault on Isengard.
Readers, what are your thoughts on hero Quickbeam? Do you like him more or less than the ally? Any suggestions for a hero lineup? Thanks for reading!
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