Fog on the Barrow Downs Difficulty

By JJA01, in The Lord of the Rings - Print on Demand

Why is this scenario so insanely difficult? Is this related to it being released as a Fellowship event? Barrow Downs feels completely broken.

It's frustrating to have to min/max a deck (or exploit broken card interactions) just in order to have a hope at beating a scenario even on easy mode. This type of play just takes you out of the game and it feels cheap and unthematic. Furthermore, the paltry Boon in Campaign Mode feels nowhere close to worth the effort.

Am I missing something here? I hate to say it, but playing this scenario makes me not enjoy this game, and I regret this purchase.

It's not just me. Here's two videos of the COTR guys table-flipping over Barrow Downs:

This is one of my favorite scenarios, and I found it to be moderate-high in difficulty, definitely a lot easier than the likes of Into Ithilien, Battle of Carn Dum or quests of the like.

What is getting you? Threat or combat? Or both? I had a great time using Tactics Theoden in here (3 def with North Downs in play), and Eowyn as a defender. My strategy depended on keeping a copy of North Downs in play. There are plenty of them, so that was not a problem, but you need to be careful going into a Barrow, where you'll have to use the defense stat instead of willpower.

Yeah this sounds like a pretty good approach actually (you had me at Tactics Theoden).

Right now it seems to be a combination of both that's getting me, depending on my deck build - my combat decks tend to threat-out quickly, while my "soft skills" builds can't handle the Wights effectively. That being said, these might not be entirely efficient decks.

I should have added that I'm having an absolute blast with this game otherwise. Thanks for the quick reply (and sanity check).

Ranger Spikes is a great card in this scenario, and Forest Snare if you can handle the 'can't reduce your threat' or other negative condition of being engaged with a Wight constantly.

Fog on the Barrowdowns is definitely no walk in the path. Its more of a journey through... well fog... on the barrow downs :P
Awful jokes aside though as much as it is a difficult quest I agree with Grandspleen that it is nowhere near the level of quests like Into Ithilien or Carn Dum.

I can't offer as specific advice as Grandspleen has but honestly the main thing for me is the sprint to the finish before a second Great Barrow shows up (or in the vast majority of cases before the 3rd or 4th copy show up...). I usually go through the first few quest stages pretty slowly (I know you gain a fair bit of threat quite quickly in this quest but include plenty of threat reduction/cancel and you can usually handle this) and build up forces gradually so that when I get to the last quest stage I can attempt to "sprint" to the finish so that I only have to clear one or two great barrows instead of 3 or 4 of them.

One issue with this strategy however is that when you get thrown into the great barrows you can end up discarding quite a few allies. Build up of attachments is therefore a little bit safer and more ideal.

I run pretty strong willpower heroes though so can usually escape the great barrows within a turn or two at the most even without allies helping out. I always try to do this and get out of any Great barrows AS FAST AS POSSIBLE so that I am not increasing threat further (due to the effect when locations are revealed) and to meet back up with the other deck/player so that they are covering each others weaknesses again. Another fantastic card for this quest is Gildor's Counsel. Use it when there isn't a Great Barrow in play and the end is in sight so that there is less chance of another Great Barrow appearing.

Ranger spikes is godlike in this quest. I do not use the North Downs trick like grandspleen and in fact always travel to north downs so that I can defend safely with my high defense rather than with willpower. His trick is really nifty though for the right deck.

I find that Fog on the Barrowdowns was one of those quests that for me at least starts off super difficult but once you've beaten it a few times you get the hang of it and know how to go about beating it without too much issue. It is definitely not an easy one though so I totally understand your frustration! I still absolutely HATE Battle of Carn Dum and The Dread Realm and may never get used to them. I really feel like FFG upped the difficulty tenfold with those two quests and you really do need to deck build specifically for them or you have like a 0.0001% chance of actually beating them.

You could play an insane lot of Out of the Wild to fish tose Barrows and other nasty encounter cards(just remember to leave one to be able to travel to Standing Stones!).

I'm interested in buying this scenario as it is having people say good things about it. Though it's not that easy to get a hold of.

Is there any Dol Guldur-like issues with playing it single player or does it scale ok up and down in player count?

Edited by Maktorius

I haven't played it in true single player, but I've done so in 2-, 3-, and 4-player. I think this one has a sweet spot with 2 players, as you get the drama of being separated once the Great Barrows start coming out, but also there is a lower chance that you'll continue to see Great Barrows come out, relative to 3- and 4-player games. Great Barrows prevent you from winning any time they are revealed or in play, and elongate the game.

In a 1 player game I think the greatest challenge is that you're guaranteed to lose all your allies. You will be forced into a Great Barrow, so you know in advance that you're going to have to wipe all your allies off the table. Unless you keep some Wights snared in front of you or something. Anyway, it means that you will have a hard time winning with an ally swarm deck, so you have to look for other options. Voltron decks do better here. There is no attachment hate. So, if you plan around the quest, it's doable. It's not a quest that will be easily beaten by the same deck you used against other quests, though.

Edited by GrandSpleen

Contrary to GrandSpleen, I feel like 2-player can be kind of the worst option for this quest, because when someone does get stuck in a Great Barrow that leaves only one player to deal with the remaining staging area and they can easily get screwed over. Solo you just ignore that staging area until you're out of the barrow, and with more players it's less disproportionate.

So no, in answer to the actual question, there's no poor scaling for solo, solo is fine, the only concern may be bringing the right sort of deck.

PocketWraith makes good points. My own feeling was that it's easier if you reduce the chance that Great Barrows will come out (so, lower player count). His feeling was that Great Barrows ARE gonna come out, and then you're screwed if you're separated from the group and can't handle yourself alone. So maybe the message is: in multiplayer, each deck needs to be able to fend for itself without relying on others. This is true in all quests where you get separated into different staging areas, but in some of those you can be "rescued" by other players "catching up" to you. Not here; when you're in a barrow you're there until you get yourself out. And if you're the player(s) sitting at the original staging area and you're down a player or two, you need to be able to suddenly handle a staging area filled up with cards from a game with a higher player count.

I have just had a 3 player game of this quest. First time playing it and we got beat on stage 3 with 1 player in stage 4.

Really good quest but I have a question about a conundrum that came up.

The first player drew Great Barrow and go his own stage 4. No problems there. The campaign card states the first player does not change if the first player is in stage 4. The other two players are still at stage 3.

So we then wanted to travel to the standing stones. The travel effect reads...

Immune to player card effects.

Travel: The first player searches the encounter deck, discard pile and victory display for a Great Barrow and adds it to the staging area. Shuffle the encounter deck

So the first player is already is in his own stage 4 and cant be affected by other cards not at his own stage (according to the rules card)

We decided that we could travel to the Standing Stones and it's travel effect wouldn't happen rather than not being able to travel at all as the travel effect couldn't be fulfilled. Was that correct?

If memory serves, there is an old ruling about having multiple staging areas: each staging area has its own "first" player. So you should be able to travel to the Standing Stones, and the first player within that group would get a Great Barrow?

Here's a 2012 ruling about it:

And another thread on the topic:

None directly address Fog on the Barrow-downs, but should be relevant here.

Although, reading over that, the Flies and Spiders situation is similar to Barrow-downs in that the first player token doesn't move. So, the first player might still only be considered the person currently stuck in a Barrow. If that were the case, I would say you simply can't travel to Standing Stones because you can't pay the cost (the first player is not available at that staging area to pay it). I don't think there's any way to arrive at the conclusion that you guys ultimately went with, unfortunately. One way or another, a travel cost has to be paid, or else you can't travel to that location.

I found it quite easy with the suggested hobbit deck playing solo on normal difficulty in campaign mode. I love the hobbit deck suggested from the Black Riders box. It can quest like crazy with the heroes and with Sam to defend and Merry to kill you can take out most enemies as well. Frodo's Intuition is an amazing card. You start with such a low threat that I didn't care about the faster than usual threat increase.

I took a few rounds to build up only questing enough to reliably clear the active location (having never played before) then quested to stage 3 as normal. I finished the mandatory Great Barrow in one quest phase the turn after hitting stage 3, then won the game on the next turn by questing for around 25 (helped by sending the team with Frodo's Intuition and Faramir buffs). Other than Beorn (yay for Elfstone with a 6 cost ally) , I didn't have any allies out to start that round (discarded 3 or so to the Stage 4 effect) but had plenty of resources saved (thanks to Steward of Gondor on Sam), so a free to play Bill the Pony, a couple of other Tactic or Lore allies brought me up to 5 or so allies with 1 willpower buffed to 2 using Faramir. I even had a Grim Resolve I could have used to activate Faramir again to quest in the mid 30s willpower.