Last updated: 2021-12-11
When to use the ALeP FAQ
The ALeP FAQ is only intended to be used when playing a game involving ALeP cards in some manner. This could mean playing an older, official quest using a deck that contains ALeP player cards or playing any of the ALeP quests. It is not intended to be used when playing strictly within the official card pool. (Though it should work just fine, and we won’t stop you!)
This FAQ contains two parts: Rule Clarification and the Free To Choose List.
The Rule Clarification section contains a series of small changes to rules and card text to fix typos and remove rule ambiguities that the community has found over the years. This section is intended to give ALeP players a shared basis for how best to resolve some of these issues. Any ALeP cards that appear in this list have already had their typos corrected in all the files and printing links we provide.
The Free To Choose List (FTCL) is a set of optional balance tweaks that players may use, in whole or in part, if they want suggestions to rein in some powerful combos. The ALeP team uses the FTCL during playtesting, and we have come to enjoy finding new ways to employ powerful cards without stretching the game too much. But we recognize that these tweaks aren’t going to be for everyone! Your ALeP games are 100% legitimate whether you decide to use the FTCL or not.
We know that game text not written on the cards adds mental overhead to playing the game. For that reason, our philosophy is to be as sparing as possible and try to preserve a card’s common use case, even with the optional FTCL. As was the case with FFG’s errata, the FTCL is not about balancing overpowered cards. We only focus on cards that, when combined with certain other cards, create novel and “game-breaking” effects beyond what the original designers likely intended. Cards that lead to infinite combos or trivialize a whole aspect of the game for multiple players are examples of effects that might qualify for the FTCL. A card like Steward of Gondor, while very powerful, would not qualify for the FTCL, as it seems to be used as intended, and any modification is likely to impact its regular use case.
In addition to some card changes, the FTCL contains a few minor rule changes, not all of which are related to powerful combos, but in some cases just to help simplify areas of the official rules that we have found particularly confusing for players. Since these changes directly contradict official rulings, we have placed them in the FTCL rather than the “Rule Clarification” section.
We hope you find these documents helpful, and as always, thank you for playing!
(ALeP FAQ 1.01) Looter X
In Ambush at Erelas, cards in loot piles are not in play and are not under the control of any player.
(ALeP FAQ 1.02) “Your collection”
If a player card ability refers to a player’s collection (for example, “search your collection”), it refers to the leftover set of player cards from which that player’s deck and heroes (and any other player’s deck and heroes that used the same set of player cards) were assembled.
For Saga quests, this means that boons, treasures, Fellowship, or Baggins cards are only considered part of your collection if they were in your campaign pool when you assembled the deck(s).
(ALeP FAQ 1.03) Devoted
The rules for the Devoted keyword should read: “While each non-[fellowship], non-[baggins] hero you control shares at least one trait…”
ALeP’s note: The presence of Fellowship or Baggins heroes was not meant to impact the functionality of the Devoted keyword.
(ALeP FAQ 1.04) Setup Step 0
We introduce this new step, which takes place before Step 1 of Setup, where a player may choose a contract for their deck. The deckbuilding and hero requirements of the contract are now active, but the contract has not yet entered play and its Setup text does not yet trigger.
ALeP’s note: It was previously unclear how a contract’s deckbuilding restriction would function if it is not put into play until after the deck is chosen.
Déorwine [DC 60]
Should read: “Response: …”
Windfola [DC 116]
Should read: “Attach to a [spirit] hero, or to Éowyn. Restricted. Attached character gets +1 [willpower]. Response: After attached character is removed from the quest, exhaust Windfola to commit attached character to the quest.”
Ered Mithrin Expansion
Radagast [EM 145]
Should read: “You may use resources from Radagast’s pool to pay for Creature allies of any sphere. While playing a Creature ally, Radagast is considered to have the printed [leadership], [spirit], and [tactics] icons.”
ALeP’s note: Strictly speaking, with the previous version of the text, using Radagast to play an off-sphere ally whose cost had been reduced to 0 with his staff was not possible. FFG has since clarified that Radagast was intended to work in the case, so we offer this new wording.
Vengeance of Mordor Expansion
The Burglar’s Turn [VoM 24]
Should read: “Choose 14 different Item or Artifact attachments from your collection that could normally have been included in your deck…”
The Treason of Saruman Expansion
Helm! Helm! [TToS 12]
Should read: “Response: At the end of the enemy attacks step, exhaust and discard a Rohan ally you control to choose and discard a non-unique enemy engaged with you.”
ALeP’s note: This was originally an action that needed to be resolved immediately after the enemy attacks step, but there is technically no action window there. The next action window is not until partway through the player attack resolution. So it has been reworded as a response.
Oaths of the Rohirrim Expansion
Lily Cotton [OotR 3]
Should read: “Action: Exhaust Lily Cotton to ready a different Hobbit ally and add Lily Cotton’s [willpower], [attack], and [defense] to that ally’s [willpower], [attack], and [defense] respectively until the end of the phase. At the end of the phase, if that ally is still in play, return it to its owner’s hand. (Limit once per phase.)”
Gavin [OotR 11]
Should read: “Response: After an encounter card without surge is revealed, exhaust Gavin to give that card surge and add 1 resource to the pool of a Scout hero you control. If the next encounter card revealed is not a location, discard it without resolving its effects.”
ALeP’s note: This does not change the way most people have been using Gavin. The slight rewording is just to bring it more in line with how ALeP understands the mechanics of revealing encounter cards. It was always intended for Lanwyn to be able to trigger off of Gavin’s surge, and this rewording now makes that interaction more clear.
Free to Choose List
Glóin [CORE 3]
Could read: “Response: After Glóin suffers damage, add 1 resource to his resource pool for each point of damage he just suffered (to a maximum of 3 resources per round).”
ALeP’s note: There is an infinite combo involving Glóin, Elrond, and Warden of Healing, which can allow one player to absorb an unlimited amount of damage every round. It depends on all the cards in this combo not having a limit on their ability. So we present a limitation to Glóin, as we believe that his unlimited resource generation was not intended. We feel that a limit of 3 resources per round preserves his use case in most decks, and might even encourage players to return to a hero that they may have previously considered “broken”.
Faramir [CORE 14]
Could read: “Action: Exhaust Faramir to choose a player. Each character controlled by that player gets +1 [willpower] until the end of the phase. (Limit twice per phase.)”
ALeP’s note: When the Core Set was released, a repeatable way to ready allies did not exist, so Faramir was trickier to abuse. However, the lack of a limit has had an oversized impact on the design space for repeatable ally readying, due to the disparity in Faramir’s exhaust ability compared to other allies. By limiting his ability to twice per phase, we preserve existing decks that might be using Messenger of the King or Narya to get a single extra use out of Faramir, while opening up the design space for ally readying effects that would otherwise result in Faramir exhausting 3 or more times and trivializing the quest phase.
Shadows of Mirkwood Expansion
Elfhelm [SoM 100]
Could read: “Response: After your threat is raised as the result of questing unsuccessfully, or by an encounter or quest card effect, reduce your threat by 1. (Limit once per round.)”
ALeP’s note: In most cases, Elfhelm offers a good counter to quests that use a threat mechanic as a primary obstacle to overcome. We want to preserve that use case, while limiting his ability to completely trivialize such quests.
Path of Need [D 103]
Could also contain the text: “Remove Path of Need from the game at the end of the round or after it leaves play.”
ALeP’s note: This card can be used in conjunction with Reforged and Strider’s Path to be kept on the active location indefinitely, trivializing questing and combat for all players. This change preserves what we feel is its intended use: an emergency card to get out of a temporary bad spot.
Heirs of Númenor Expansion
Blood of Númenor [HoN 13]
Could read: “Attach to a Gondor or Dúnedain hero. Limit 1 per hero. Action: Exhaust Blood of Númenor and spend 1 resource from attached hero’s resource pool to give attached hero +1 [defense] for each resource in its resource pool until the end of the phase. (Limit +3 [defense])”
ALeP’s note: As with Gondorian Fire below, we feel that the ability to stack multiple of these on a single hero and achieve +20 [attack] or [defense] for a couple resources can trivialize quests with big enemies and is an unintended use case. The change would still provide what we see as it intended use case: a repeatable way to get a modest attack boost for the cost of a resource.
Against the Shadow Expansion
Gondorian Fire [AtS 85]
Could read: “Attach to a Gondor or Dúnedain hero. Limit 1 per hero. Action: Exhaust Gondorian Fire and spend 1 resource from attached hero’s resource pool to give attached hero +1 [attack] for each resource in its resource pool until the end of the phase. (Limit +3 [attack])”
ALeP’s note: See Blood of Númenor above.
Angmar Awakened Expansion
Rallying Cry [AA 3]
Could read: “Valour Action: Until the end of the phase, add the next 3 allies that leave play to their owner’s hand instead of placing them in the discard pile.”
ALeP’s note: This original version of this card can be used in infinite combos using free allies that leave play immediately after being played (for example, an ally like Ioreth in a quest that damages allies upon entering play, which in conjunction with Horn of Gondor can create unlimited resources). We feel that this change would limit this combo while having the least significant effect on the regular use cases of the cards involved.
Doom Hangs Still [AA 117]
Could read: “Planning Action: Until the end of the round, players do not raise their threat from questing unsuccessfully. (Limit once per game for the group.) Valour Planning Action: Raise each player’s threat by 2 to skip the quest phase this round. (Limit once per game for the group.)”
ALeP’s note: Without the limit, this card can be used in conjunction with threat reduction and recursion to allow players an effectively unlimited number of rounds to get set up. With this change, we seek to limit this exploit while preserving what we believe is its intended use case.
Ered Mithrin Expansion
Mithril Shirt [EM 152]
Could read: “Response: When attached hero is dealt any amount of damage, reduce that damage by 1. (Limit 3 times per phase.)”
ALeP’s note: In conjunction with Vigilant Guard, this card can absorb an incredible amount of damage each round, including all archery damage. Between the two abilities, we see the absorption of damage as more problematic than the movement of damage, so we suggest a limit on Mithril Shirt that should preserve ordinary use of both cards.
A Shadow in the East Expansion
Sméagol [ASitE 72]
Could read: “Forced: After completing setup, shuffle 2 copies of Stinker into the encounter deck.”
ALeP’s note: This rewording is required due to the Free to Choose List rule change regarding the Setup ability timing (see FTCL 1.01 below).
Vengeance of Mordor Expansion
Host of Galadhrim [VoM 36]
Could read: “Planning Action: Return each Silvan ally you control to your hand. Then, play each of those allies from your hand one at a time at no cost. Remove Host of Galadhrim from the game.”
ALeP’s note: This card can be used in an infinite combo to generate unlimited resources and card draw for all players on the table, using the Galadhrim Weaver’s ability to recur itself. Removing it from the game after use should preserve its ordinary use while preventing this combo.
Well Preserved [VoM 85]
Could read: “Response: At the beginning of the round, exhaust The One Ring and raise your threat by 1 to heal 3 damage from attached hero.”
ALeP’s note: With just a couple hit point attachments, this card can be used to absorb all combat damage every round without defending for the cost of 1 threat. We have found this to heavily restrict the scope for future healing effects. We are not entirely sure what the amount of healing the designers had in mind for this card’s “regular use”, but we have settled on 3 as a reasonable amount, given the cost.
Song of Healing [VoM 112]
Could read: “Action: Discard 1 card from your hand to heal 1 damage from attached hero. Any player may trigger this effect. (Limit twice per round.)”
ALeP’s note: In conjugation with Elven-light, this card presents unlimited healing and card draw opportunity given a continued supply of resources. We settled on this limit due to the similarity of the effect with Imladris Caregiver.
These rule changes are also part of the Free to Choose List.
(FTCL 1.01) Setup Abilities
A card with Setup text will trigger the moment the card is introduced during the game setup. If a contract, hero, or other player card has a Setup ability, it triggers immediately after that card is placed on the table during Setup Step 2.
ALeP’s note: The rules regarding when to trigger various setup effects caused many players confusion. While this rule is contrary to FFG’s setup timing, we believe it offers a consistency that greatly simplifies a number of rules questions. One consequence of this change is that the Setup ability on Messenger of the King is resolved before the starting hand is drawn, so situations where you draw the desired ally into your starting hand and are then unable to search your deck for it will not leave you down a hero for the game. Another consequence of this change is that the Setup ability of Grey Wanderer triggers before the encounter deck is constructed. This does mean that it is possible to choose a Guarded player card with this ability without needing to resolve the Guarded keyword.
(FTCL 1.02) Doomed X on Player Cards
Every player card effect for which all or part of its cost involves the printed doomed keyword is considered to have the additional text: “(Limit once per round for the group)”.
ALeP’s note: It is possible to play many of the free doomed events on your opening turn and quickly build an unassailable board state before the encounter deck can respond. The threat cost of doing so can be easily mitigated later, once the game has been effectively won. This change is meant to preserve the ordinary use case of these doomed events, while limiting their ability to overwhelm the encounter deck early on.
ALeP’s note 2: “Once per round” limits on event cards are tied to that card’s title, so multiple events with the printed doomed keyword can still be played in the same round as long as they have different titles.
ALeP’s note 3: Card effects that “give” the doomed keyword (like Gríma or Herald of Anórien) are not affected by this change, as those are not considered to be “printed” instances of the doomed keyword. The Soldier of Isengard, who does have the printed doomed keyword, is also not affected, as that doomed keyword is not part of a cost for a player card effect. Currently, the only cards affected by this change are events.
(FTCL 1.03) Rule of 3
A single player cannot play or put into play a card with the same title more than 3 times in the same phase.
ALeP’s note: In regular play, it is rare for a player to ever play the same card more than 3 times in one phase, so this rule should not affect most players. However, it does serve as a simple way to shut down infinite recursion decks, without needing to add every card with a recursive ability to the FTCL.