The Line Unbroken – C1.2/G5: Fog on the Barrow Downs

I believe The Old Forest was less popular than the previous GenCon quests, and generally drew a certain amount of flak for being something of a location-focused slog (many location-focused quests end up as slogs, sadly). Personally I felt that as location-focused quests go, it was actually a very good one. Fog on the Barrow Downs, on the other hand, has no disclaimer, it’s just a very good quest full stop. It’s also potentially a rather challenging one – though some of the reason why it can be so challenging is simply because elements of it run seriously counter to the standard strategy of “spam allies until you win” that a lot of decks follow. If instead you play decks which focus on powering up their heroes you’ll obviously have far less trouble with the ally-hate in the quest.
Now by that I don’t mean to imply that taking such decks in makes it an easy win. This is still a difficult quest, and I’m somewhat trepidatious about tackling it with less card pool than was actually available when it was released for the 2014 Fellowship events. But such is the price I pay for maintaining a consistently increasing card pool while going out of order to play campaign mode in my progression-style playthrough. On the plus side, I know what I’m letting myself in for, unlike all the people who played the quest at Fellowship events who had to go in blind.

So besides the ally-hate, what do I have to bear in mind? Threat control can be relevant, though since I have Hobbits I’m not starting too high, and while there may be more threat-raising going on than in your average quest, nevertheless we’re still liable to find ourselves in the state wherein threat is irrelevant until you hit 50. The other main thing is combat efficiency – not just being able to kill the Wights, but preferably being able to kill them quickly, since each type blocks some kind of useful effect while they’re engaged. I want to avoid those (also their 3-5 attack can be an issue). A particular wrinkle is also that I want the deck containing Pippin to avoid engaging Cold-Wights at all, since his Response triggers after engaging, at which point the Cold-Wight’s text will prevent me drawing and thus block that ability. A minor point perhaps, but a frustrating one. The final point is the North Downs location. Realistically, if you’re not playing solo, you’re going to get this in the staging area and have to defend with willpower at some point, so I have to be ready for that. Though also bearing in mind that it’ll go away if one deck gets stuck in a Great Barrow with their own separate staging area.

One note on a handy point in the campaign rules – while you take a permanent +1 penalty to your starting threat for swapping in a new hero between quests (except at certain specific points), it is entirely fine and not penalised for you to swap heroes between decks and change to a different version of a hero, so long as all the heroes in use are still the same list of names that you had before. I’m making use of these two points in the decks for this quest as you’ll see:

A Conspiracy of Friends

Sam Gamgee

Allies (11):
Bill the Pony x1
Erestor x1
Faramir x1
Snowbourn Scout x3
Beorn x1
Farmer Maggot x1
Gandalf (Core) x3

Attachments (25):
King Under the Mountain x3
Steward of Gondor x3
Celebrian’s Stone x3
Sword that was Broken x3
Cram x3
Dunedain Mark x3
Dunedain Cache x2
Dagger of Westernesse x3
Rivendell Bow x2

Events (14):
Campfire Tales x3
Sneak Attack x3
Feint x3
Halfling Determination x3
Shadow of the Past x2

Thoughts: I wanted the spheres to be more delineated between the two decks so they could be more focused, thus no tri-sphere. I tried to make the deck fairly efficient on card draw, and you can see that I’m following the above-mentioned point of not having too many allies. And the allies I have were mostly chosen for either being fairly good Sneak Attack targets and/or being powerful enough to make an effective splash even if they didn’t stay in play too long – the only exceptions being the Snowbourn Scouts, which are still temporary since they’re there to chump-block as usual (yeah, Wights penalise chump-blocking, but it shouldn’t be too bad if I don’t do it too often), and Bill the Pony, who’s free. Daggers of Westernesse and Dunedain Marks will help power up my attackers to ensure I can kill Wights in one hit consistently, but perhaps the most useful thing in that regard is the ability to make Aragorn and Merry Ranged using Rivendell Bow and Dunedain Cache. Finally Cram can give me some extra actions in emergencies and I’ve taken note after my confusion in the last quest and remembered to put Shadow of the Past back in for Gildor shenanigans.

All that is gold does not glitter

Aragorn (Lo)
Pippin (Lo)
Fatty Bolger

Allies (11):
Arwen Undomiel x1
Bofur (Sp) x1
Silvan Refugee x3
Miner of the Iron Hills x2
Warden of Healing x2
Gandalf (OHaUH) x2

Attachments (16):
Unexpected Courage x3
Fast Hitch x3
A Burning Brand x2
Protector of Lorien x3
Ranger Spikes x3
Ithilien Pit x2

Events (23):
A Test of Will x3
Stand and Fight x3
Desperate Alliance x2
Daeron’s Runes x3
Gildor’s Counsel x3
Mithrandir’s Advice x3
Secret Paths x3
Shadow of the Past x3

Thoughts: I had it planned out right from before I started this campaign that I’d switch back and forth between the Leadership and Lore versions of Aragorn for different quests, with this quest clearly being a job for Loragorn, since having him (and Desperate Alliance) allows me to safely ditch all other means of threat reduction. Once again the allies are either significant (like Arwen or Gandalf) or temporary (like Miner of the Iron Hills or Bofur). Speaking of the Miner, I’ve finally decided here that a condition is bad enough for me to include condition removal rather than just figuring I’ll cancel it or suck it up. Ranger Spikes of course can potentially allow me to just ignore a Wight (the utility of Ranger Spikes was the only thing that made me doubt my choice to take The Ring Draws Them as my burden from SotP, but I figure if it really matters I can probably cancel it), while Ithilien Pit can let me kill them in the staging area without taking the attack or the ‘while engaged’ effect. Protector of Lorien is incredibly handy here, because with the North Downs issue, Protector of Lorien allows me to boost my defences no matter what the circumstances. In general though the long-term defensive plan is Aragorn with his two artifacts from the other deck for 5 willpower and A Burning Brand, plus multiple copies of Unexpected Courage.


Youtube video: Fog on the Barrow Downs

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